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Updated: 11 hours 52 min ago

How to Edit Fireworks Photos Creatively

Thu, 07/04/2019 - 15:00

The post How to Edit Fireworks Photos Creatively appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Rick Ohnsman.

I hope you had a chance to read my previous article, “Eight Tips for Better Fireworks Photos” before going out to make your fireworks images and found that helpful.  If so, you should have some good shots to work with here.  If not, these techniques will still work for you if you have some other good fireworks photos.  Either way, let’s see if I can teach you how to do the basic editing on your fireworks images. Then, how to creatively composite your shots and take the “wow factor” up another notch.

You shot in Raw, yes?

I realize that beginning photographers may be making their images with their camera set to save only the .jpg file, perhaps not having the editing tools or having learned to edit a Raw file.  While that’s not a deal-breaker, you will find doing so causes the camera to do much of the editing itself, using the camera’s built-in .jpg algorithm to “cook” the final image for you.  Perhaps while you are still a novice image editor, (cook), editing raw files can seem intimidating, and you may feel the camera is a better cook than you are.

The trouble is, with something like your fireworks photos, you will want as much latitude for creative editing as possible as well as much file information as the camera originally captured.  Letting the camera create a .jpg image lets it make the creative decisions and also throws away information you might have needed.

You will still be able to use the steps outlined here to edit a .jpg file.  Just understand things might not work as well.  One final plug for shooting Raw files before moving on – Almost all pros do, and that’s the level of work you want to create, right?  ‘Nuff said.

This effect is what I call the “boom-zoom-bloom.” You’ll have to read Part One of this series if you missed how to create it.

Editing tools

The workflow described here assumes you will be using the editing programs I use for working with my images; Adobe Lightroom Classic and Photoshop.  Other editing programs may work equally well such as Photoshop Elements or another favorite of mine, Corel Paintshop Pro.  Use what you have and know; just understand the steps here are using the Adobe programs.  I will also sometimes use plug-in filters such as those in the Nik suite, Topaz Labs or Aurora.

Basic editing of a fireworks photo with Lightroom

This is my workflow with an image in Lightroom.  Much of the work simply involves moving each adjustment slider up and down to see what you like.  Playing is encouraged.

  • White Balance – You shot in Raw, right? Good, because if so, you can take the white balance wherever you like. Play with the Temperature and Tint sliders and get the colors you like.  Because fireworks have no “correct” color your viewer expects, you can pretty much adjust white balance however you like.  Although, if you’ve included foreground objects, you may want to use those as a reference in determining what is realistic.
  • Basic Controls – Play with the Exposure, Contrast, and other sliders to bring the image to your liking. If your highlights are a little bright, (but still not blown out), you can bring them back with the Highlights slider. You might also want to bring down the Blacks if the sky needs darkening
  • Adjust colors with the HSL/Color sliders. You can play with the Hue, Saturation, and Luminance sliders to tweak colors to your liking. Don’t forget to try the Targeted Adjustment Tool to pick and adjust specific colors in your image.
  • Dehaze – The Dehaze tool could be your friend and help reduce smoke in the shot if it became a problem.
  • Clarity and Texture  – These controls can give your fireworks images extra sharpness and pop.  Also, try sliding these controls toward the left for different looks.
  • Vibrance and Saturation – With standard photography, these two are typically used conservatively, particularly Saturation which is a bit of a sledgehammer. With firework images, however, often you are going for “pow,” so go ahead and play… it’s your shot.  Oversaturation will blow out details.  Watch each histogram RGB channel.  A histogram off the right edge means you’ve oversaturated that color.
  • Detail – Some sharpening can be good. The two best tools in this group for fireworks images are the Masking Tool and Noise Reduction/Luminance. Sharpen your image as desired.  Then, hold down the Alt key, (Option on Mac), and drag the Masking slider to the right.  What appears white will be sharpened, what is black will not.  The idea to allow the fireworks to be sharpened, but not the dark sky. As for Noise Reduction, if you shot at a low ISO you probably won’t need much. Use as little as needed here.
  • Consider saving settings as a Preset.  If you’ve used the sliders to get your image just right, you might want to apply the same settings to some of your other fireworks photos.  Saving the settings as a preset will allow you to apply the same look with a single click.
Other tools

I mentioned using plugins as options in your editing.  The sky really is the limit here.  Here are a few I have and sometimes find useful with fireworks photos:

Nik – Color Efex Pro, Viveza

Topaz Labs – Adjust, Denoise, (probably others too, I just I don’t have them).

Aurora HDR – You can work with a single image here not needing multiple shots as with traditional HDR work and can get some interesting looks.

Compositing for drama

Sometimes the best fireworks photo is a composite of several photos.  You can layer multiple images and create your own grand finale.  You can also put fireworks over places where they weren’t, but to your thinking should have been.

Confession time.

The image of the Boise (Idaho) Depot I used in the previous article, (and repeated above), is a composite.

They do have fireworks shows over this iconic landmark in our city; I’ve just never been there for a show.  I did, however, have nice nighttime images of the depot and also fireworks photos from another time and place.  With compositing, I created the image I wished I could have captured live but wasn’t there for.  What can I say, creative license, right?

So, you have a great fireworks photo.  You have a great night shot of a landmark or scene where you’d have liked to have captured a fireworks show.  Here’s how you make those come together.

Time for layers

If you only edit with Lightroom, this will be the end of the road for you.  Lightroom doesn’t do layers and they are a must for this technique.  Photoshop does layers, as does Photoshop Elements, Corel Paintshop Pro, and probably a few other editing programs.  Layers capabilities are a must for compositing. So, your editing tool of choice must have them.

Compositing images is a pretty advanced technique in some cases. However, because the background of your fireworks photo is likely to be black or very dark, things become much easier.  Learning compositing using fireworks images can be a great way to begin learning about layers, masks, and compositing in general.

Step-by-step compositing
  1. Open your fireworks image in Photoshop (or your editing program of choice).  You can open Photoshop first and then open the image or send it from Lightroom – (Photo/Edit In/Edit in Adobe Photoshop)

    How to send an image from Lightroom to Photoshop for editing. You can also send multiple images as layers in Photoshop, useful when doing the “Grand Finale” composites described later in this article.

  2. Open your other location photo, also in Photoshop.  You will have the fireworks photo and the scene photo each on separate tabs at this point. Just a note when selecting the scene photo: Select one that has a logical view, angle, and lighting that it will seem consistent with having fireworks in the shot.  Obviously, a daytime image or an image without much sky is just going to look weird.
  3. Go to the image of the fireworks.  Crop it to include just the fireworks section you want if you didn’t do this in Lightroom first.  Then Select All (Ctrl-A, Cmd-A on a Mac), Copy (Ctrl/Cmd-C)
  4. Go to the other tab with the Scene and hit Ctrl/Cmd-V for Paste.  The firework image will be placed as a layer on top of the scene image.
  5. With the fireworks layer selected, select the Screen blending mode.  The dark parts of the sky will become transparent and the fireworks will be superimposed over the underlying Scene image.

    Use the Screen blending mode and the black in the fireworks photo will become transparent showing the underlying image.

  6. You will need to place and size the fireworks where you want them over the Scene shot.  Use Free Transform for that.  With the fireworks layer still the one selected, Ctrl/Cmd-T.  Then hold down Shift and drag from a corner handle to resize while maintaining the aspect ratio of the fireworks image.  Click, hold and drag in the middle of the shot to move the overlying fireworks where you like.  Don’t worry about some of the fireworks perhaps appearing in front of things.  You’ll handle that in the next step.

    The fireworks moved and sized to put them where desired. Note: leaving a little overlap will add depth and make the composite look more realistic. You’ll clean-up in the next step.

  7. To touch up areas where the fireworks might overlap an area they should be behind, (note the fireworks overlapping the tower in my shot and the roof at the bottom), you will create a Layer Mask. Click the icon that looks like a rectangle with the dark circle in the center  A mask will be added to your fireworks layer.
  8.  With Black selected as your foreground color and the mask selected, use the brush tool to paint out areas where the fireworks overlap the foreground.  You want the fireworks to look like they are behind any foreground objects.
  9.  You may find areas in the fireworks layer weren’t black enough that the Screen blending mode eliminated them.  This might work for you –  With the fireworks layer selected, (not the mask, the layer itself), open the Camera Raw Filter (Ctrl-Shift-A).  Just the fireworks layer will appear in Camera Raw.  Take the Blacks slider down (left) to see if you can darken the problem areas.  Also, try the Shadows and Exposure sliders, but pay attention to how the fireworks are affected.  When you click OK, you will be returned to the Photoshop main window.  See if the problem is gone.  If not, use the brush on the mask as you did in step 8 to clean up any remaining areas.

This grand finale was captured in one 6-second shot and is not a composite.

The Grand Finale

The most exciting part of a fireworks show is when they shoot off a flurry of fireworks in rapid-fire fashion.  It can also be one of the harder parts of the show to photograph.  Sometimes the intensity of so many fireworks bursting in the air can result in a blown-out, overexposed mess with the settings used for most of the show not right now.

What to do?  How about creating your own finale with the compositing technique we just explored but this time, layering several fireworks images to build-up your finale shot.

When things really got crazy during the grand finale, the same 6-seconds was too much and the image was blown out. Look at the histogram. There’s no recovering highlights when they are pushed off the right side of the histogram. Way too overexposed!

Use the same steps as with the composite image we just covered. Stack up several layers of fireworks shots each on its own Photoshop layer.  Then turn on the Screen blending mode on all layers but the bottom one.  Use the technique as before, blending and masking as necessary.

Here’s what that might look like.

Position and clean each layer with a mask as before where necessary.  Voila!  Your own grand finale.

Fun even when the smoke clears

For most spectators, the fun of a fireworks show is over when the last boom is heard, and the smoke clears. As a photographer with editing skills, however, you can continue to create all kinds of exciting images with the fireworks shots you captured.  Using the editing and compositing techniques here will not only help you produce some great fireworks images but grow your editing skills in general.

Now, go have a “blast.”

Feel free to share your fireworks images with us in the comments below.



The post How to Edit Fireworks Photos Creatively appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Rick Ohnsman.

Canon’s Newest Camera Will Be Funded by…Indiegogo?

Wed, 07/03/2019 - 20:46

The post Canon’s Newest Camera Will Be Funded by…Indiegogo? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Just this week, Canon began promoting its newest product, the IVY REC: a tiny camera that clips onto a keychain, a necklace, and basically anything else you can think of.

The IVY REC is billed as “shockproof” and “waterproof,” which makes it a convenient piece of kit for adventure-type shooting. It features a 13-megapixel camera that shoots both stills and video up to 60 frames-per-second at 1080p. And it includes wireless and Bluetooth connectivity, so you can easily transfer your media from camera to computer.

It’s an unusual piece of kit for a company like Canon, which specializes in higher-end imaging equipment, rather than this type of “go anywhere” camera.

But the most unusual aspect of this new camera is the funding method:

The IVY REC is set to launch on Indiegogo.

Indiegogo is one of the most popular crowdfunding sites out there, and it generally aims to give start-ups a chance to make big products without spending lots of cash upfront.

On a website with “indie” in its name, a giant such as Canon seems rather out of place.

Which begs the question:

What is the point of this new method of funding? Canon undoubtedly has the money to push the IVY REC through to production.

One possibility is that Canon is testing the waters with this camera, and wishes to do so while spending as little money as possible. If Canon doesn’t know how the IVY REC will be received, perhaps it’s being crowdfunded in a referendum of sorts: If the camera gets funded, then it’s a good idea, one worth pursuing. And if the camera fails in its funding, then it shouldn’t have been produced in the first place.

Of course, this strategy goes beyond marketing research. If the IVY REC is successfully funded, Canon ends up with a bonus: a nice pot of cash with which to build and promote the product.

Another possibility is a bit more unsettling: Canon is using Indiegogo for free publicity, in an attempt to promote a camera that Canon would have otherwise been willing to spend its own dollars on.

Either way, I’m not entirely comfortable with this move by Canon. Sites like Indiegogo help solo entrepreneurs and small startups turn their dreams into reality. Canon’s presence on the site will likely take money away from those who genuinely need the cash.

But I’d like to hear your thoughts:

Why do you think Canon has turned to crowdfunding for this camera? How do you feel about this strategy?

Also, would you fund (or buy) the IVY REC?

Let me know in the comments!

The post Canon’s Newest Camera Will Be Funded by…Indiegogo? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Nikon Dropping 1/3rd of Its DSLR Lineup in Move to Mirrorless

Wed, 07/03/2019 - 20:37

The post Nikon Dropping 1/3rd of Its DSLR Lineup in Move to Mirrorless appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

As of July 2019, Nikon has eight active DSLR models.

And of these eight models, three of them are rumored to be the end of their camera lineup. In other words, there will be no replacement for these bodies; they’ll be the last of their kind.

Now, Nikon will come out with followup models for the Nikon D5, the Nikon D850, the Nikon D750, and the Nikon D7500.

But for the Nikon D3500, the Nikon D5600, and the Nikon D500, it’s the end of the line. According to Nikon Rumors, these camera models will “likely be replaced by mirrorless models.”

(There is no information on the Nikon Df, which came out in 2013 and hasn’t seen an update since.)

Is this a surprise? Or is it what we’ve come to expect in an increasingly mirrorless world?

As for the mirrorless replacements, we know of two new Nikon mirrorless bodies in the works: a 900 dollar mirrorless body and a D5 equivalent. It’s unlikely that the D5 equivalent will be replacing any DSLR, but is instead meant to expand the appeal of Nikon mirrorless cameras to professional photographers. Whether the 900-dollar mirrorless body is a replacement for the D3500, the D5600, or the D500 remains to be seen.

Notice that two of the three DSLRs slated to be dropped are entry-level – in fact, the D5600 and the D3500 are Nikon’s only entry-level DSLR lines.

What does it say that Nikon plans to end both of them?

Clearly, Nikon wants to keep their advanced and professional-level DSLRs going for at least a few more years. This suits serious photographers who are attached to their DSLR kit and plan to hang on for a while longer.

But beginner photographers won’t have much of a choice, as far as Nikon is concerned. Either they can choose what quickly becomes outdated technology, or they can go mirrorless. And if Nikon’s making this move, Canon may not be far behind.

So for beginner photographers, mirrorless cameras are coming for you…

…whether you like it or not.

Now, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

If you’re a beginner or enthusiast photographer, how do you feel about this move to mirrorless?

And if you’re an advanced photographer or a professional, how will you (or other photographers in your field) handle this shift? Is this the end of DSLRs?

Let me know in the comments right now!

The post Nikon Dropping 1/3rd of Its DSLR Lineup in Move to Mirrorless appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

7 Techniques for Original (and Stunning) Nature Photos

Wed, 07/03/2019 - 15:00

The post 7 Techniques for Original (and Stunning) Nature Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Do you want to capture original nature photos?

The kind of photos that are both stunning and unique?

You can.

While capturing original nature photography might seem hard, it doesn’t have to be.

Because there are a few simple tricks that you can use…

…which will help you create original photos, consistently.

And it’s not about finding new locations.

It’s not even about finding new subjects.

Instead, it’s about looking at the subjects you have in a completely different light.

Let’s get started.

1. Use unusual lighting for surprisingly dramatic shots

For a long time, I felt like my images were frustratingly similar. I couldn’t find any new compositions. I couldn’t create the kind of magic I wanted. I felt like I had hit a wall.

Until I discovered the power of directional lighting.

Now, directional lighting is something that most photographers are familiar with. You get directional lighting when the sun is low in the sky – so that the light hits your subject from a particular direction.

If the light hits your subject from the front, it’s frontlight. If your light hits your subject from the side, it’s called sidelight.

But while frontlight and sidelight are nice enough, they pale in comparison to the power of backlight.

(Which is the type of light that completely changed my photography.)

Backlight comes from behind your subject. If you want a backlit photo, you should make sure that your subject sits between you and the sun – and then point your lens at your subject.

What’s so great about backlight?

Backlight allows you to capture intense, dramatic light. It allows you to create a contrast-heavy photo, one with a beautiful background and a detailed subject.

However, you want to be careful not to create a silhouette. If you underexpose the photo too much, the subject will lose all its detail, leaving you with nothing but a bright backdrop.

So here’s what I recommend:

Point your camera at your subject. And then crouch down so that the sun moves behind the bulk of your subject. If you can block the sun, you’ll reduce the background brightness. And you’ll be able to capture some nice detail in your subject while giving the overall shot some gorgeous background light.

One more tip:

It can be useful to let the sun fall through a background object. If there’s a tree in the background, angle yourself so the sunlight falls through the tree. This will create some spectacular bokeh.

And it’ll take your nature photos to a whole new level.

2. Shoot from strange angles for a completely new perspective

Shooting from new angles is a classic method for capturing original photos.

That’s because it works. Really, really well.

Of course, you don’t want to use the same new angles, over and over again. That will just cause you to fall into a cycle of creating similar photos once again!

Instead, try to find a new angle for every subject you photograph.

I’m a fan of getting down low, and I recommend you try it, too. Crouching, crawling, or even lying on the ground is a great way of opening up more intimate perspectives.

And more intimate perspectives can make for stunningly original images.

Another tip is to make yourself feel disoriented. Try lying on the ground, looking up at your subject. Or try climbing high above your subject, so that you’re shooting straight down.

These particular angles are just starting points. Take them and make them your own. Experiment as much as possible.

That’s how you’ll capture original photos.

3. Apply creative techniques for unique takes on a subject

Another easy way to produce original nature photos is to add something new to your photography arsenal. Something you’ve never tried before.

One way to find these techniques is to look at photographers in other genres. What are they doing that you like? What’s creative about their work? Is there something that you can take from their photos and apply to yours?

I’ll mention just a few creative techniques here. These will give you a sense of the possibilities of nature photography. And they’ll also open up new shots for you, right now.

First, one of my favorite creative techniques is freelensing. This involves detaching the lens from your camera and tilting it in different directions for a tilt-shift style image.

Freelensing will give you some striking images filled with shallow depth of field, gorgeous bokeh, and stunning light leaks.

Second, I recommend trying intentional camera movement photos (or ICM). ICM photos are beautifully abstract and impressionistic.

To capture amazing ICM photos, simply set your shutter speed to something low (in the 1/2s to 1/20s range). Then experiment with moving your camera when you take the photo.

If you persevere, you’ll soon be taking some amazing images!

Third, you should try the ‘shooting through’ technique, also known as ‘cramming.’

Find a subject – then change your angle so that you’re shooting through something in the foreground. This is generally vegetation, but it doesn’t have to be.

If you can create a shallow depth of field, you’ll blow the foreground into a beautiful wash of color. And you’ll capture some highly-unusual nature photos.

4. Create abstracts of your subjects for something impressively different

One thing I love about abstract photography?

It forces you to see your subject in a whole new light.

And that’s why abstract photography is perfect for creating fresh perspectives of a subject.

But this leads to the question:

How do you actually create stunning abstracts?

I have a few tips:

First, get close. For abstract photos, closer is almost always better.

Two, try to think in terms of shapes and lines, rather than subjects. Compose while keeping these geometric elements in mind.

Third, be careful not to underexpose your photos. It’s easy to do this with close-up abstract photography because you lose light as your lens focuses closer. So make sure to compensate for this possibility.

Finally, use your viewfinder a lot. Move your camera, and watch as the composition changes.

And when things start to look really good…

…take your shot!

5. Switch lenses for a fresh focal length (and fresh feel)

Sometimes, all we need to do for a fresh perspective…

…is switch lenses.

After all, you probably use the same lens for your nature photography pretty often. I know that I have a few lenses in my kit that I use regularly.

And this can cause you to get comfortable with your photography. You might struggle to find new images.

So switch lenses. And make the switch as big as possible.

If you’ve been shooting flowers with a long lens, try using something very short. If you’ve been shooting landscapes with a short lens, try to go for something long. And if you’ve been shooting birds with an ultra-telephoto, why not try something that shows far more of the environment?

Whenever I try this technique, it works wonders. The completely new perspective feels wonderfully fresh – and I get photos that I really love.

6. Find a photo you like and take something different

This technique is a tricky one.

If you can do it correctly, you’ll capture stunning original images. But if you approach it without much motivation, you’ll end up creating something boring and derivative.

Here’s how it works:

Start by finding some nature photos you like, but that were taken by other photographers.

Then recreate those photos. Recreate the setup, the composition, everything.

Finally, make three major changes to the shot.

The changes can be anything: settings, lighting, composition, and more. The point is to create a shot that’s radically different from the original, but that still captures the magic that the original possessed.

You can even use some of the techniques from elsewhere in this article. Add in a bit of ICM. Use a wildly different angle.

You’ll ultimately capture an original image. An image you can be proud of.

7. Shoot until you can’t shoot anymore, then keep shooting

Here’s one final technique for original nature photos:

Find a subject. Then photograph that subject as you normally would, taking all the obvious photos.

But then, once you’ve run out of easy ideas…

Keep going.

Keep taking photos.

And keep trying to innovate. Keep trying to find new nature images.

At first, you’ll struggle. You’ll think there’s nothing more that can be done.

But then you’ll start to have new ideas. Your mind will open up.

And that’s when you’ll get some of your most original photos!

Techniques for original (stunning) nature photos: next steps

Capturing original nature photos can be really, really tough.

Or, at least, it might seem that way.

But the truth is:

Anyone can take original nature photos! As long as they know a few simple tricks.

So as long as you follow the techniques laid out in this article…

…your nature photography will be gorgeous, stunning, and – above all – original!

Got any more tricks for original nature photos? Be sure to share them in the comments!


The post 7 Techniques for Original (and Stunning) Nature Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Don’t Lose Your Photos – How to Store Photos While Traveling

Wed, 07/03/2019 - 10:00

The post Don’t Lose Your Photos – How to Store Photos While Traveling appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Suzi Pratt.

Travel photography is one of the most fun and rewarding things to do while away from home. But whether you’re a hobbyist or pro, it’s important to have a solid backup plan for your photos. After all, it’s all fun and games until someone loses a memory card; or has a camera stolen; or accidentally formats a card. Catch my drift? There are countless ways to lose your images while traveling. In some cases, there’s a chance for data recovery, and in other cases, it’s pretty much hopeless. So it’s best to plan ahead for the worst case scenario with a backup plan.

Having just returned from several international trips that involved both travel photography and videography, I have a workflow that has kept my data safe. In this post, I’ll share how to store photos with my travel photography workflow.

It’s worth noting that I was traveling for a paid job that lasted three weeks, and I used four different cameras, so my workflow may seem like overkill to some.

However, consider this: there are a plethora of camera devices out there, such as drones, smartphones, mirrorless cameras, and waterproof point-and-shoots. Thus, I don’t think it’s unreasonable that some of you might also travel with multiple recording devices, even if just for a vacation.

What I bring with me Memory cards

You can never have too many memory cards. Some photographers advocate for bringing one memory card for each day that you are traveling, but that can be tough if you’re away for more than 2 weeks. My rule of thumb, especially if I’m recording 4K video, is to bring enough cards to fill my memory card wallet. In my case, I use a Pelican 0915 case that holds a total of 12 SD cards, so I bring 12. When one card is filled, I have the label facing inwards so I know not to use it. If I can help it, I never format or delete a memory card when I’m on the road. Thus, my memory cards are one layer of data protection.

Two portable hard drives

I also bring at least two portable hard drives with me. One is a 1TB Samsung SSD hard drive, which I consider my secondary backup. It’s a bit pricey as far as hard drives go, but considering that it is a compact SSD hard drive, it is fantastic for doing photo and video editing on. I also bring a 4TB LaCie rugged hard drive. Its high capacity storage means I should never run out of space while on a trip. Also, in the case of both the SSD and rugged drives, they can take a bit of a beating, which is also important for travel. Don’t skimp on quality and bring a non-rugged hard drive with you. All it takes is a light blow to destroy them.

Laptop computer

Try as I may, I can’t find a viable travel photography workflow that doesn’t involve bringing a laptop computer, especially if I’m shooting for a client. It’s too important to be able to carefully review all of my work each night and sometimes churn out quick edits on the go. However, if you’re dealing with smaller files or simply lower volumes of media, an iPad could work for you, as long as you can connect your hard drives and memory cards.

Why multiple hard drives?

The thing about hard drives is that they will inevitably crash on you. Sometimes, it’s for an obvious reason (ie. dropping it), and other times it will happen for seemingly no reason at all. Plus, there’s also the danger of losing a hard drive or having it stolen from you. Thus, you want to have at least two hard drives, each with a copy of your photos and videos on it. When traveling, put the hard drives in different bags. That way, you’ll still have a copy if a bag goes missing.

My travel photography backup workflow Before shooting

I almost always use multiple cameras these days including my primary Fujifilm X-T3, DJI Osmo Pocket, GoPro Hero 7 Black, and Samsung Galaxy S10. All four of these devices are capable of capturing high-resolution photos and videos, which is both a blessing and a curse. They all take the same type of memory card (SD card, or microSD with SD card adapter), so the first thing I do is label each memory card with a silver sharpie. I write my last name and a number so I can tell each memory card apart.

I also go into each camera device and make sure the date and time are accurate and synced across all devices. This is especially important if you are on a long trip and are shooting with multiple cameras. If my camera allows for it, I also customize the folder name where the media is recorded to. This helps for distinguishing what media comes from which camera at the end of the day.

After shooting

At the end of each day, I sit down with my laptop and review the day’s media from each camera. I create folders on both hard drives and name the folders based on the date of the shoot, what camera the media is coming from, and how many total items there are (ie. 30 May_Fujifilm XT3_130 Items). Folder name structure is again very important if you’re shooting with multiple cameras on multiple days. It helps you keep your media organized and easy to find.

Going over this process is helpful not only for feeling more inspired to keep shooting, but also to ensure that my gear is clean and working properly. You can only see so much detail from a camera’s LCD preview screen. I make sure that if one memory card is full, I place it label facing down in my memory card wallet so I don’t delete it.

What about cloud backups?

I know some of you will wonder about backing up your photos to a cloud service, and this is certainly a possibility. However, this is highly dependent on two things: 1) what format are you shooting in and how large your files are, and 2) how fast is your Internet upload speed? Personally, cloud backups are not reliable for me mainly because I shoot RAW photos and 4K video. Each is too large to upload to the cloud unless I happen to have ultra-fast Internet speed. However, in a perfect world (i.e., my Gigabit Internet that I have at home), I do cloud backups of my photos and videos on both Google Photos and SmugMug.

In Conclusion

The key to the best photography workflow is to have one in place and do what works for you. Mine is based on my particular needs and shooting style, but it doesn’t have to be what you choose. What’s most important is to recognize that things do go wrong and it’s incredibly easy to lose your photos or videos.

So make sure you have a backup plan in place both on the road and when at home.

What does your photography workflow look like? Let me know in the comments below!


The post Don’t Lose Your Photos – How to Store Photos While Traveling appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Suzi Pratt.

What Size Beauty Dish is Right For Your Portrait Photography?

Tue, 07/02/2019 - 15:00

The post What Size Beauty Dish is Right For Your Portrait Photography? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by John McIntire.

Beauty dishes are common and well-loved lighting modifiers. They are particularly useful for portraits (beauty is in the name after all). They also tend to be a lot cheaper than decent sized softboxes. Years ago, your choice of beauty dish was quite limited. Nowadays, if you try searching for beauty dishes, you will be presented with a multitude of options that greatly vary in size and even how they set up.

Although the numbers don’t seem to be that different, the actual sizes of these beauty dishes vary greatly, and they all have a distinct effect on the light in your images.

What do you do when faced with this kind of choice and how do you know what size beauty dish you should buy? This article discusses three common sizes of beauty dishes and shows you what effect they have on your images. All of the beauty dishes discussed here are silver, and none of them are collapsible. As long as they are of decent quality, the fact that a beauty dish is collapsible should have no impact on your images.

What is a beauty dish?

Three different size beauty dishes. Left: 16″ Middle: 20″ Right: 27″

Beauty dishes are bowl-shaped modifiers that are known for the contrasty light they provide. The quality of light is usually somewhere between hard and soft (when brought in close to your subject). This sets them apart from other modifiers, like umbrellas and softboxes, where the goal is to achieve the softest light possible. This allows you to achieve well-defined edges and shadows, but still retain a flattering light on your subject.

This image shows an unmodified beauty dish on the left. A gridded beauty dish in the middle, and a beauty dish fitted with a diffusion sock on the right.

Often, you will find that beauty dishes come with grids and diffusion socks to help modify them further. Grids alter and increase the directionality of the light, while diffusion socks diffuse the light further, softening it a bit and altering the shape.

What sizes are there?

Any search for a beauty dish should reveal a huge amount of results these days. You can find tiny beauty dishes that are only a few inches across that are designed for flashguns and you can find massive beauty dishes that would be ideal for lighting groups of people. This article compares three sizes that fall more into the normal sized category. These are a 27″, 20″ and 16″.

All three beauty dishes were positioned the same distance from the subject to clearly demonstrate the differences in the effect they provide.

1. 27″

At 27-inch in diameter, this beauty dish is at the upper reaches of what you can expect to find in terms of size. When it’s in close, the light it provides is really soft and is comparable to a medium-sized softbox, but with a bit more contrast to it. It also provides large catchlights in your subject’s eyes.

Because of its size, it’s easy to bring the light further away from your subject to achieve a similar effect to that of smaller beauty dishes, while giving you more room to work. This beauty dish would also be great for lighting multiple people, whereas smaller dishes might struggle.

The 27″ beauty dish provides really soft light when placed in close. Pay attention to the shadow and highlight transitions as well as to how the light wraps around the subject.

There are a couple of disadvantages to a beauty dish this big. The bigger the light source is in relation to your subject, the less bright your subject’s eyes are going to be. If you want bright, clear eyes, a smaller beauty dish may be the way to go. It is also harder to control the light fall off (without a grid) as the bigger source will cast more light behind your subject.

2. 20″

The second beauty dish we’re going to discuss comes in at 20 inches. This is pretty close to what may be considered a standard size for a beauty dish (if there is such a thing). Placed a few feet (1-4) away from your subject, the qualities of light it produces are great for all sorts of portraiture and for a wide variety of subjects.

It is great for male and female subjects, though for flattering portraits of older people you may want to consider not using a beauty dish. Instead, opt for large softboxes and umbrellas. As the beauty dish isn’t a great deal bigger than your average subject’s head (from an appropriate distance), you also have good control over the light fall off, and you have even more control when you introduce a grid.

The 20″ beauty dish also provides good, soft light but the edges of the transitions from shadow to highlight are more defined. You’ll also note the light wraps around the subject less and results in darker shadows toward the back of the subject’s head.

3. 16″

This last beauty dish is 16-inches in diameter. This is the size that I have used the most ever since I bought it well over a decade ago. You can see in the images just how battered and well-used it is.

Because it is quite small, it is easy to control and great to bring in really close to your subject. This beauty dish clearly lights and defines your subject’s eyes. The harder light source also provides clearly defined edges between shadows and highlights but in a flattering manner.

If you want to reduce light fall off as much as possible, this size is definitely the way to go. However, if you want to increase it, you are better off with a larger modifier. This is because moving this beauty dish any distance from your subject will result in really hard light that you might find unflattering to most subjects.

The 16″ beauty dish also provides excellent light. Here you can see the transitions from shadow to highlight are clearly defined. Also, the rapid light fall off means the areas towards the back of the subject’s head are more in shadow.

In terms of portability, this size beauty dish is great. It doesn’t weigh very much at all and just carrying it in your hand takes minimum effort.

When used as something other than a key light, this size beauty dish is really effective. Its small size makes it unobtrusive and easy to position anywhere you need, whether that’s for use as a hair light or fill.

What size should you get?

Left: 16″ Middle: 20″ Right: 27″

Some of the differences between these three modifiers can be subtle and hard to spot if you’re new to lighting. If you’re still wondering which you should opt for, my best advice (which is by no means gospel) would be to evaluate what you need it for.

Do you need portability? Get a small one or consider a collapsible one.

Will you be shooting groups of people often? Go for the largest one you can.

Are you shooting in a small space? Go for the small one again.

Are you shooting in a large space where you can’t get the lights very close to your subject? Again, go for the biggest one possible.

Whichever you choose, make sure that it comes with both a grid and a diffusion sock for the most control possible.

No matter which way you choose to go, you are going to find yourself with a versatile and useful modifier that will last you for years.

Have you used these modifiers? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.


The post What Size Beauty Dish is Right For Your Portrait Photography? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by John McIntire.

3 Photo Keywording Tools for Little or No Cost

Tue, 07/02/2019 - 10:00

The post 3 Photo Keywording Tools for Little or No Cost appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Glenn Harper.

Most dictionaries don’t recognize “keyword” as a verb, yet keywording is seen as an arduous task by many photographers. Despite the mundanity, if you want to find specific photos amid a large collection, it helps to keyword them. This article looks at three keywording tools that will hasten the work for little or no cost.

Manual vs automated

The main benefit of laboriously keywording every image yourself is accuracy. You know every word you enter applies to that photo. Or, you have a good-faith belief that it does. Good keywording often involves research, especially if you’re keywording with the aim of selling or licensing photos.


One way to speed up keywording is with the quick keyword lists you find in all software with built-in DAM (digital asset management). Such lists normally need building first, but they cut out typing and thinking time once installed. A similar system is used in paid-for keyword tools.

An ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate quick keyword list, which you can expand if necessary to include many keywords. I also have an organized keyword list under construction.


An even faster way to keyword is by using image recognition software. This populates keyword fields quickly. The main drawback is having to remove a few words from most photos. That’s not a bad trade-off when it works well, since deleting words is less taxing than adding them. You’ll still need to add a few keywords yourself, because software like this tends to identify subjects generically.

Three keyword tools for little or no cost

Keyword software ranges from expensive to free. It can be standalone, plugin, SaaS or web-based without charge. You’re unlikely to want to pay for keywording unless there’s a chance of return on investment. Below are three keywording tools that have little or no effect on your bank balance but which might save you time.

Any Vision Lightroom Plugin

The Any Vision Lightroom Plugin uses Google Cloud Vision technology to recognize the content of photos and populate the LR keyword field accordingly. It’s clever stuff. You can try the same technology out here on image files under 4 MB in size. Google Cloud Vision is the engine behind Google image search. The plugin is available on trial for the first 50 images, after which you must buy a license for whatever price you can afford or deem suitable.

Does it work? I’ve found it to be useful for everyday photos, and it even recognizes a few iconic buildings (e.g. Flatiron building). Yes, I have to cut out a few keywords, but I keep more than I delete. It’s not so good with plant portraits, as it tends to fill the keyword field with the names of various lookalike flowers. But once you know its weak spots, it’s good to have on board.

Any Vision impressed me by identifying the location of this photo (Lyons-la-Forêt), though I’ll still need to add and subtract a few words.

To get Any Vision working after the trial, you must obtain a Google Cloud Key. That’s linked to your Google billing account, but unless you keyword over 1,000 photos a month, you won’t be charged a thing. Bear in mind you won’t need to analyze every image (i.e. you can copy and paste).

IMS Keyworder

The online IMS Keyworder tool is simple to use. Just enter one or two keywords that best sum up the content of your picture, hit enter and click on relevant photos to create more keywords. The keywords that appear are ranked for their popularity with microstock searchers – customers that look for and download photos. This gives you a clue as to how vital a keyword is to your image.

IMS Keyworder shows you how popular search terms with microstock buyers. You can also see how often each keyword appears among your selection.

Other handy IMS features include the ability to bring up a list of synonyms and create templates. You can also embed keywords, descriptions, and captions directly into JPEGs on your PC. This online software is free with the option of making a voluntary payment to the developer.

Xpiks Keyworder

Xpiks is a good open-source program that, like IMS, draws its keyword suggestions from microstock photo libraries. You still need the Internet to use it, but the software exists on your hard drive. And that makes it more versatile since you can add keywords to bigger file formats in the absence of bandwidth restrictions.

Among the useful features of Xpiks are XMP/IPTC/EXIF metadata editing, translation, autocomplete, search facility, spellcheck and, of course, keyword suggestions. If you happen to contribute to microstock libraries, you can also upload photos straight from Xpiks.

A photo of Mont Blanc in Xpiks with 30+ keywords sourced from several similar microstock photos.

Other keywording tools

Among the other third-party keywording tools I’m aware of (free or not) are the following:

  • Akiwi – online drag and drop image recognition, free
  • Excire – Lightroom plugin with AI technology that lets you search without keywords, 99€ one-time cost
  • fotoKeyword Harvester – by Cradoc fotosoftware, long-established company, not free
  • Keyword Perfect – by, responsive developer, not free
  • Keywords Ready – online image recognition technology with 50-image monthly limit, free
  • Microstock Keyword Tool – online tool that harvests keywords from microstock photos, free
  • MyKeyworder – image recognition Lightroom & WordPress plugin, small donation to remove restrictions

Akiwi has a cleanly designed webpage that is simple to use. Image recognition helps you find a maximum of 15 keywords per image.

Keywording tips

If you break keyword lists up into categories and sub-categories, you’ll have the basis of a methodical keywording system. The problem with adding words randomly without any system is one of consistency: you’ll rarely end up with the same set of words twice. And that may force you into trying multiple search terms later when it comes to finding pictures. Even if you use keywording tools to help you, it’s handy to have your own lists of words to add on top.

Excire recognizes content but adds keywords sparingly. It’s a paid-for Lightroom add-on that can search your library to some extent without keywords.

The number of keywords you should add is open to debate, especially if you’re licensing photos for publication. You don’t want to waste picture researchers’ time with loosely related words, but you also don’t want to make photos invisible through minimalism. The same applies for your own purposes. About 10-25 keywords often suffices. Some photos might need more. It’s wise to stick to common words where possible. Long or formal words are less likely to be used in search terms.

The 50-image limit of Keywords Ready is limiting for prolific photographers, but this is free software. It gave me a good selection of words for this photo, save for one or two exceptions (I wouldn’t add “material property”).

Final say

I hope this article has led you to some useful keywording tools. If you get to the stage where you have thousands of untagged pictures, modern AI software will help you narrow down a search. Paid-for keywording software tends to be more methodical than the free stuff. It usually includes a large lexicon of categorized words. But free or inexpensive programs will help you get the work done and make your library searchable.

Have you used any of these? What are your thoughts? Or do you use other keywording tools? Share with us in the comments below.


The post 3 Photo Keywording Tools for Little or No Cost appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Glenn Harper.

8 Tips for Better Fireworks Photos

Mon, 07/01/2019 - 15:00

The post 8 Tips for Better Fireworks Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Rick Ohnsman.

If you’ve been to a great aerial fireworks display, I’m sure you’ve heard the “oohs” and “ahhs” of the crowd, captivated by the colorful spectacle. Here in the United States, the Independence Day holiday is when many of us try our hand at fireworks photography.  I’m sure if you live in other places in the world, you also have holidays celebrated with fireworks.  So how can you capture those moments in a photo and elicit those same “oohs” and “ahhs” from your viewers and achieve better fireworks photos?

Include a landmark, city skyline, or something in your fireworks photo to add interest, place, and story. This is a show over the Boise, Idaho Depot.

Great fireworks photos aren’t difficult, but you will not get them in Auto mode.  You will need to put a little thought into this and learn to take charge of your camera controls.  Try these simple tips, however, and I’ll bet you’ll come back with images that elicit “oohs,” “ahhs,” some likes, and maybe even “wows” from your viewers.

Here are the things we’ll cover for better fireworks photos:

  1. Location
  2. Equipment
  3. Camera settings
  4. Shutter speed choices
  5. Using Bulb mode
  6. Shooting technique
  7. Boom Zoom Bloom FX
  8. The “Black Hat trick”

After you’ve read this article, and made your fireworks photos, be sure to read Part Two – Creatively Editing your Fireworks Photos.

1. Location

You can make good fireworks photos with just an image of the colorful bursts in the sky. But great fireworks photos need something more – an interesting setting or foreground.

Think of displays you have seen taken with fireworks over the Statue of Liberty, the Sydney Harbour, the Chicago city skyline, the Golden Gate Bridge, or Victoria Harbor in Hong Kong.  What makes those shots over the top?  A couple of things;  iconic city skylines and landmarks, and most often, water.

Not only are there interesting things in the shot besides the fireworks themselves, but often with water in the shot, there’s the benefit of colorful reflections.

If you are lucky, the spot where you plan to photograph your fireworks display will also have interesting foreground features and perhaps a body of water.  If so, scout the area ahead of time so you can find a location to best capture those things.

You can pretty much count on a crowd at a fireworks show. Get there early to stake out your spot. Then consider including the location in some of your shots.

You can count on a crowd when you go to a fireworks show.  Plan on getting to your spot early so you can “stake your turf.” Perhaps put out a blanket to ensure an unobstructed view of the show.  Then, if you have no other foreground elements, consider the possibility of making the crowd your foreground, their heads silhouetted against the sky and fireworks.

Another possibility might be to find a less obvious location, not right where the fireworks will be launched.  Perhaps there is a landmark, a tree-line, a high vantage point, or some other spot that will create an interesting foreground that while still including the fireworks, will give context, place, and “story” to your photos.  Doing some scouting long before the night of the show is a good idea.

The first few fireworks of the show will be in clearer sky conditions. As the show continues, smoke may be more of an issue and the sky won’t be as dark with the fireworks lighting the smoke.

2. Equipment

What will you need to make good fireworks photos? Let’s break down the basic equipment needs:


You can make fireworks photos with a cellphone camera if that’s all you have. However, the techniques will be different and the results likely not as impressive.

We won’t get into that here, so let’s assume you have a better DSLR or mirrorless camera with the option for manual control. Be sure to have a good-sized storage card, as well as a spare battery or two, as you’ll usually take lots of shots at a fireworks show.


Fireworks photography will require a steady camera as you’ll be shooting in low light and taking longer exposures. Consider a tripod pretty much mandatory for this kind of work.  An L-bracket on your camera or at least a tripod that will easily allow going from landscape to portrait mode easily is a good thing too. Often you will shoot in both aspects.

Lens Selection

Lens choice largely depends on how close you will be to the fireworks launch location.  If you are really close, you may need a wide-angle to keep the larger bursts in the frame. If, however, you are a long distance from the show or want to compress the apparent distance between your foreground object and the sky bursts, a telephoto might be in order.

I typically use my go-to lens; a Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS as it covers a good range. You don’t need a particularly fast lens as you will be working with mid to small apertures and longer shutter speeds. Still, a sharp lens is always a good thing.

Cable Release/Remote trigger

The technique for photographing fireworks will be discussed in a minute, but trust that having a way to remotely trigger your camera will be a real help. One reason is you are presumably going to a fireworks show to enjoy the show.  Having your eye to the viewfinder and your finger on the shutter button the entire time will lessen  the enjoyment of “being there.” It will also introduce camera shake, something you don’t want.

A very basic remote release can be had for under $10.00 US. This is a great item to always have in your bag for many purposes.

The tree line at the bottom of the frame adds some additional interest.

3. Camera settings

If you’ve always worked in Program or one of the Auto modes with your camera, or even if you use Aperture (Av/A) or Shutter (Tv/S) mode, this will be the time to be brave and go to full Manual mode.

Here’s how you want to set up your camera for fireworks photography:

Raw Mode

Real photographers shoot in Raw mode. There are many articles why. If you never have done so before, here’s your chance to try it. You can work in Raw + Jpg if that makes you feel more secure. However, I’m betting you won’t use the .jpg versions.

Full Manual

As described. Be brave. You can do this.

White Balance

As you’re using Raw mode, (you are, yes?), white balance can be tweaked later so it doesn’t matter much what you set for shooting. I tend to leave my white balance in Faithful mode almost all the time.

Sometimes it’s fun to zoom in tighter and get the flurry of action.


Working in low light with dark or black backgrounds and long exposures will tend to introduce noise in your shots. Fortunately, the fireworks are bright, so higher ISO settings won’t be needed.  Instead, use the minimum (ISO 100 on many cameras), and you’ll be fine.

Noise Reduction Off

Many modern cameras have a noise reduction feature, which after the first exposure, takes a second “black frame” exposure, detecting the noise and then subtracting that from the initial exposure. It can work well, but…

The second exposure takes as long as the first, and if you’re making multi-second exposures (for example, that 6-second exposure now takes 12 seconds to finish), your camera will be busy working, and you’ll be missing subsequent fireworks.

Turn it off.  You’ll be using a low ISO with minimal noise anyway, and the delay in being able to make more shots isn’t worth it.


There are two things to consider here:

  1. How much depth-of-field do you need?
  2. What is the “sweet-spot” of your lens?

First, because the fireworks will be a good distance from your camera, you will be focusing on something further away and likely have a pretty good depth of field. Working at wider focal lengths helps too. Plan on being at your location well before the show starts and have an idea where you’ll need to focus and how much depth of field you need.

Secondly, most lenses are at their sharpest between f/8 and f/16.  Learn where your lens performs best, the so-called “sweet spot,” and use that aperture if you can.

Most of the photos in this article were taken at the same show. Also, most were very close in their exposure settings such as this one at ISO 100, 10-seconds at f/8.

4. Making shutter speed choices

Your choice of shutter speed will be important in capturing good fireworks photos. You know when you hear the boom of the launched fireworks from its mortar that it trails up into the sky, explodes, and a beautiful shower of colorful sparks radiates out and trails down.

Often multiple fireworks are launched close together, each doing the same thing. What you’re after is to capture the entire event which can sometimes take several seconds.

You could pick a fixed shutter speed of, say, four seconds, but would that be too short? Too long? Of course, it depends on the individual firework duration or sequence you want to capture, and that will vary during the show.

So how do you choose?

The answer is, you don’t have to because there’s a better way.

Using bulb mode you will be able to hold the shutter open and capture multiple fireworks bursts, closing it when you like.  Note this shot is in portrait orientation.

5. Use Bulb mode

If you’ve seen pictures of early photographers with their view cameras, you might have noticed them holding a rubber “bulb” which when they squeezed, forced air through a rubber tube and tripped the shutter. As long as the photographer kept the bulb squeezed, the shutter stayed open, ending when they released it.

These were the first shutter remotes, and it was that rubber bulb that gave the mode its name.

Today we have wired, and sometimes wireless triggers that can do the same thing. Putting the camera in Bulb mode allows a variable shutter speed. As long as we press and hold the button, the shutter stays open.  Let it go, and the shutter closes, ending the exposure.

This is just the ticket for fireworks photography, a variable shutter speed.

So, let’s review our basic camera settings:

  • Camera on tripod
  • Raw Capture
  • Manual Mode
  • Noise Reduction Off
  • Auto Focus Off – Focus on the anticipated fireworks spot and lock focus there
  • Lens Vibration Reduction (VR/IS) Off
  • ISO 100
  • Approx. f/8 – f/16  (Use aperture and ISO to adjust if images are too bright or dark).
  • Bulb mode
  • No flash – I forgot to mention this one.  Rarely, (unless perhaps to light a foreground object), will you ever need to use flash when making fireworks photos.  Also, consider whether others are nearby watching the show.  Using flash is guaranteed to make you less-than-popular with other fireworks spectators.  Unless you are alone and have a good reason to use flash, (in which case I will assume you know what you’re doing), just don’t use it.

Set up like this, you’re good to go. Remember, once the show starts, you will be busy. If you are fooling with camera settings, you’ll be missing shots. You will want to try some variations, but you don’t want to have to struggle and miss the show.

Be ready, think it through beforehand, and when the show starts, start clicking.

6. Shooting Technique

You’ve set your camera up on a tripod, figured out where to point it, made sure to pre-focus on a distant spot and locked the focus by putting it in Manual Focus (MF) mode.

If you leave your camera’s Autofocus on it’s almost guaranteed to give you images that are a bust rather than a boom. Against the dark sky and the moving fireworks the focus will hunt, fail, and… it’ll just be bad. Don’t do it.

Often the best images can be made right when the show starts as later, smoke from the previous fireworks becomes thicker, and the fireworks more obscured. So, when you hear that boom of the first firework going up, click and hold the button on the remote. You’ll be in bulb mode so hold it open while the firework goes up, explodes, and radiates out.  Then release the trigger.

Now, quickly check your shot. Is it in focus and framed properly? Is it exposed correctly? If it’s too dark, increase the ISO a click or perhaps open the aperture a stop. Too light? Do the opposite.

Try not to spend too much time doing this as, of course, the show will continue without you.

If you’re in the ballpark, the ability to edit in raw gives you the tweaking room you need. The two unrecoverable mistakes you might make would be to have things out of focus or have the highlights so blown out as to be unrecoverable. Editing won’t save you if you do those things, so be sure the focus is good and if you’re not sure with exposure, underexpose a bit. Some fireworks will be much brighter than others – especially a multi-burst or the finale. So quickly check your histogram and be sure you’ve not clipped the right (highlights) side.

Make any tweaks you need and then keep clicking. Vary the zoom if you need to, but if anything, frame a little “loose.” You can always crop in tighter later. However, if that really big and spectacular burst is so big it goes out of the frame, you’ll have missed it. Try both some portrait and landscape orientation shots. Perhaps reframe to get different things in the shot, especially if you are including foreground elements.

If things are going well, it’s going to be a fairly long show.

And if you’re feeling frisky, you might be ready for some more advanced techniques.

Note how the bright pink burst appears here, thicker streaks at the base of each trail growing thinner at the tip. This uses what I describe as the “Boom Zoom Bloom” technique described.

7. “Boom Zoom Bloom” FX

You may have seen those photos where the bursting fireworks look more like a flower, fat blurry trails with sharp points.  How is that done?

Here’s the technique, which you can vary for different results.

Know this takes practice, and luck plays a big part. So decide if you have already got enough necessary shots before you try it and whether the show will last long enough for some experimentation.

If you’re game, here’s how you do it:

  • You will need your hands free for this, and you’ll want to look through the viewfinder or perhaps use Live View, so using the remote release probably isn’t going to work. Instead, set your shutter speed for about 8-10 seconds, leaving all the other camera settings where they were.
  • With your hand on the focus ring, remember your hand position there. Then turn the ring so things are out of focus.
  • Just as the firework explodes, click the shutter and smoothly turn the focus right back to the focus point you memorized.  You have the time of the preset shutter speed to accomplish this.  If you finish early, that’s okay.

Two other images using the defocus-to-focus technique. Also note how some of the bursts, captured after the focus was performed but before the shutter closed, don’t show the same look combining two looks in one photo.

Now, try different things with subsequent shots. Go from focused to unfocused, zoom in or out during the exposure, or maybe take the camera off the tripod and move it during the exposure to make light trails. Play and see what you like.

Just remember, the duration of the show is limited, so try some experiments but also be sure you have some solid “keepers.”

8. The Black Hat Trick

I have to confess, I’ve not personally tried this but the concept is sound and could be fun. (I’ve always wanted to do a “hat trick.”)

Here’s how it’s supposed to work:

  • Have a hat, a black one or preferably of something dark enough to be opaque. You will also need to be working in an area that is quite dark.
  • Put the hat over the front of the lens.
  • Have the camera in Bulb Mode and just before the firework launches, click open the shutter locking it open with the remote.
  • Quickly, but gently so as not to bump the camera, remove the hat while the firework explodes.
  • Leave the shutter open and carefully replace the hat. Repeat, removing and replacing the hat for multiple fireworks bursts. (You may need to have a smaller aperture or lower ISO to do this as you will be building up exposure brightness with each additional firework added).
  • Unlock the remote and close the shutter when you’ve done all you want.

What you’re doing is making a multiple-exposure image in-camera. This should work. Of course, there’s also a way to do it in post-processing.  For that, and some other tips on how best to process you fireworks photo, come back for Part Two – Creatively Editing your Fireworks Photos.

There may be a frenzy of fireworks at the show finale. Keep the shutter open and capture it all if you can without overexposing.

Light the fuse

I hope you’ve decided that good fireworks photography is easy and go and have fun with it.  It’s one more way to enhance your camera skills and make some exciting images.

If there’s anything that’s a problem it’s that good aerial fireworks displays are seasonal in most places and if you really catch the bug, you may find there are not enough opportunities to practice.

So, find out when and where the shows will be near you, mark your calendar, do some scouting for the best locations, “light the fuse” and have fun!

Post your best shots as images in the comments – we’d love to see them.


The post 8 Tips for Better Fireworks Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Rick Ohnsman.

How to Get Started With Your Photography Promotions

Mon, 07/01/2019 - 10:00

The post How to Get Started With Your Photography Promotions appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Darina Kopcok.

When it comes to the world of commercial photography, print is not dead. Although the Internet and your website are great tools to promote your photography, to really get noticed by agencies and other buyers of photography, you need to make printed promotional pieces, known in the industry as “promos.”

You can get really creative with promos, like sending them out with branded gifts, but this article will focus on printed promos.

Here are some tips on creating your photography promotions and sending them out into the world.

Create a marketing plan

Before you can send out promos, you need to know whom you’re sending them to.

This necessitates doing your research and coming up a list of targeted clients that you wish to work with.

If you haven’t already done this, know that this should be an ongoing process in your efforts to attract work. You must narrow down whom you want to work with and pursue those clients to get them to notice you. Printed promos are one way of doing this.

Find out the names and contact information for the people you want to send a promo to. Keep track of them in a spreadsheet or a client management tool aimed at creatives, like Nutshell or Dubsado.

This will help you stay organized and remind you of when you last contacted them and what the outcome was.

Decide on how many promos you want to send out. Fifty is a good number to start with. You may choose more or less, depending on your niche and target market and the realities of your budget.

Come up with a concept

Before you can design your promo, you’ll need to decide what form your promo will take. Will it be a magazine? A newspaper? A poster or postcard?

I generally don’t recommend postcard promotions because they often get thrown away. However, they can be used to augment your promotions, or you can send them to smaller clients that you would be open to working with.

Printing a promo can be a costly undertaking, so you don’t want to send them to leads that are not likely to pay off.

For example, as a food photographer, I might send a promo to high-end restaurants or restaurant chains that have a marketing person or PR agency because this signals that they have the budget to hire a good photographer. I can reserve the postcards to send to smaller restaurants, such as family-run businesses who might want to hire a photographer and are more likely to keep a postcard than an art director at an advertising agency.

Browse a few websites that print promos for photographers to see what the options are and how they might best represent your photography.

You can choose someone local in the city you live. Alternatively, search nationally or even internationally, depending on what you’re looking and the value provided.

For example, as a Canadian, I have some good choices in the city where I live. However, I also regularly seek out US Sites that can give me good results for a similar price, despite postage and exchange rates. Some good options are Paperchase Press, Next Day Flyers, and Newspaper Club.

What the promo should include

A promo is a visual calling card. It should include a bio or artist’s statement, your logo and contact information.

Depending on the niche, some photographers give their images titles or captions. If you’re an assignment photographer who is submitting collected images from a trip or assignment, you might want to preface the promo with a bit of a backstory.

A food photographer may include a short recipe with one of the images.

If you choose to include text, keep it brief. The point of the promo is to focus on your photography.

Get a great printer

Don’t make the mistake of taking the time and effort to design a great promo and then hire the wrong printer in order to save money. Your efforts will be wasted.

A promo is meant to showcase your work in the best possible light. A poorly printed piece degrades the quality of your photography.

If you’re in the commercial photography world, then promos should be an important part of your marketing strategy and require investment. There is no getting around investing in marketing to grow your business and appear as a professional.

Successful and established photographers with a regular client list still send out promos.

Research printers and their offerings as you would a potential client. You may want to seek out recommendations in forums or from other photographers you know and trust before you make your decision.

In Conclusion

Promos pay off, but sometimes it can take a bit of time. We live in a world saturated with information, so it can take a few attempts on your part to get the right people to notice you.

Be sure to send out a new promo 3-4 times a year to your contacts, and don’t overlook your current clientele. They should also know what you’ve been up to. Regular promos will keep you looking fresh and relevant and busy with other clients, which always reflects well on you and your photography business.

To see samples of a variety of promos, check out @photoeditor on Instagram by Rob Haggert, a former Director of Photography for Men’s Journal whose feed is dedicated to showcasing the various promos sent to him from photographers around the world.

Do you do promotions? Share any ideas with us in the comments below.


The post How to Get Started With Your Photography Promotions appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Darina Kopcok.

Tips for Using Negative Space in Photography to Create Stunning Images

Sun, 06/30/2019 - 15:00

The post Tips for Using Negative Space in Photography to Create Stunning Images appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Sandra Roussy.

“I’m filling in all the negative spaces with positively everything.”
– Edie Brickell

Negative space may tend to suggest something that is not good. But negative space in photography is also often referred to as white space or minimalism photography. There’s nothing bad about it. It’s truly a unique technique to try out in your photography practice.

We sometimes tend to fill our compositions with lots of objects and color. When we talk about negative space, it’s the opposite that rules. The final image is mostly composed of blank or neutral space, and a small portion of the composition has an actual object in it.

This type of composition emphasizes the subject in the photo and also adds a unique value to it. This type of composition is powerful and, when done correctly, can take your photography from ordinary to truly impressive.

It can be a little daunting at first when you begin to do negative space photography. Not all attempts will be successful. There are opportunities to create negative space photography practically everywhere around you. You have to know how to observe and apply a few techniques to achieve amazing negative space masterpieces.

Positive and negative space explained Positive space

This is the area in the photo that attracts the viewer’s eye. It’s the main subject that commands attention in the composition. This is usually where the eye goes first.

Negative space

This is the space in the composition that is typically the background. It usually doesn’t attract very much attention and is, in most cases, the intention of the photographer. It is used to define or contour the positive space.

In negative space photography, the photographer uses the space that is usually not the primary focus and uses it to fill in most of the composition. The negative space commands more attention than the positive space and creates a unique perspective. It also adds definition and can create strong emotions.

Negative space and emotions

Negative space photography can evoke a sense of wonder, mysteriousness, and peacefulness. The viewer will have a greater connection to the object if the photo has no clutter, visual distractions, and a multitude of colors.

You may be presented with opportunities to create negative space photography more times than you think. It’s all in how you visualize or train your eye to look at things.

For example, a few years ago, I stood at a popular lookout overlooking an iconic rock sitting in the Atlantic Ocean in Eastern Canada. It was early morning, and some fog had rolled in, covering most of the impressive structure. The woman standing next to me at the lookout observing the same landscape turned to me and said, “It’s so sad, we’re driving by today, and I wanted to get a photo of the Percé Rock, but it seems like it won’t be possible.”

She left disappointed that she didn’t get her shot.

I stood there for a long time afterward examining the fog and the way it draped the rock like a heavy blanket. I thought that this was one of the most amazing things to happen that day. I felt so lucky to be there at that exact moment to capture the wonder unfolding.

Sometimes a small shift in perspective can make a huge difference.

Balancing the shot

Negative space is absolutely not blank space. If you think of it this way, you will have difficulty seeing the opportunities that you will be presented with. You want the negative space to be the main focus of your photograph, and it will hopefully evoke strong feelings.

We are trained to follow some basic composition rules, like the rule of thirds, for example. However, with negative space photography, these rules mostly don’t apply. Your imagination is what rules the composition in negative space photography.

© José Velasco

However, there are a few things to remember and consider if you want to achieve this type of photography.

Less is more

Fill your composition with the negative space. Try to put minimal distracting objects in your composition. Texture or solid colors are great elements to use in negative space photography. Use the texture or color to fill in most of the composition.


The object should be secondary and placed somewhere that is usually not primarily capturing the eye of the viewer. Placing the subject somewhere in the corner of your frame will frequently provide you with a good result. Try to balance the negative space with the white space so that it flows.

Twice the amount

A good rule of thumb is to put twice as much negative space than positive space in the composition.


Try to avoid shallow depth of field when doing negative space photography. This is so that neither the object nor the negative space in the photograph is blurry.

Go out and explore the possibilities

When you look at things differently and step outside of the traditional rules, you will find many great opportunities to create some unique shots. Look at a scene and try to create your own story.

© José Velasco

Negative space photography is an excellent way to expand your skills and your photographic eye. So remember, less is sometimes more.

Have any negative space photographs that you are proud of? Don’t hesitate to show us in the comments section below.

The post Tips for Using Negative Space in Photography to Create Stunning Images appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Sandra Roussy.

Review of the Nikon D500 for Wildlife and Bird Photography

Sun, 06/30/2019 - 10:00

The post Review of the Nikon D500 for Wildlife and Bird Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Shreyas Yadav.

Roller with Nikon D500 and Nikon 200-500 f/5.6

Fast action is at the heart of Wildlife photography. Wildlife action is fast and unpredictable. Most of the wildlife, including predators, are active during early dawn and late dusk. During the edge of the day, light conditions are low. Having a range of focal lengths is essential to photograph distant wildlife shots.  The weather conditions are harsh in the wild. Moreover, wildlife photographers try to find a camera which is capable of capturing stunning images in every possible situation in the wild.

Nikon crafted a flagship DX-format DSLR camera – the Nikon D500, with excellent high ISO performance, a faster frame rate, and a fast and accurate focus – even in low light.

What it is?

Nikon D500 with the Nikon 80-200 f/2.8 lens mounted on Gitzo Tripod

The Nikon D500 camera body weighs around 870g (30 oz) including battery and XD card. It is a crop sensor (DX format) DSLR with a 20.9 MP CMOS sensor. The ISO range is from ISO 100 to ISO 51200. This ISO range is useful in getting better image quality even in low light. In addition to high ISO performance,  frame rate and autofocus performance of the Nikon D500 is excellent. Frames per second for Nikon D500 is whooping 10 FPS. The autofocus is fast and accurate in low light as well. Nikon D500 is fully capable of focussing up to f/8 with center focusing points. These key features make the Nikon D500 excellent for Wildlife and Bird photography.

This article is a field-review of Nikon D500 from the perspective of Wildlife Photographer. This review will help you in understanding how the Nikon D500 performs in the field.

Note: All the wildlife and bird images are photographed in the natural forest with uncontrolled light conditions and within their natural habitat.

Images are captured with the Nikon D500 and the Nikon 200-500 f/5.6 lens with a bean bag. Images are captured either from a safari jeep or from a safari boat.

  • Sensor and processor – DX format (23.5 mm x 15.7 mm) CMOS sensor with EXPEED 5 processor
  • ISO – ISO 100 to ISO 51200 (ISO Expandable from range ISO 50 to ISO 1640000)
  • AF Modes – Single Servo (AF-S), Continuous Servo (AF-C), Manual and Full-time Servo in Live View
  • AF Area Modes – Single Point AF, Group Area AD, 3D Tracking, Dynamic-area AF with 25, 72 and 153 points, Auto Area AF
  • Power – EN-EL 15 Lithium Ion Battery with MH-25a charger
  • Storage cards – SD, SDHC, SDXC, and XQD cards. One slot for SD card and another slot for XQD card
  • Dimensions and weight – Approximate weight of the body including Battery and card is 870 g (30 oz) and dimensions are (Width x Height X Depth) 5.8 in (147 mm)  x 4.6 in (115 mm) x 3.2 in (81 mm)
  • Frame rate  (FPS: Frames per second) – 10 FPS in Continuous High Mode and for Continuous Low mode FPS Selectable from 2 to 9 FPS
  • Shutter release modes – Single, Continuous Low (2-9 FPS)  and Continuous High (10 FPS), Mirror Up, Self Timer and Quiet release
  • Shutter speed range – Slowest shutter speed is 30 s, and Fastest shutter speed is 1/8000 s
  • Metering modes – Spot metering, Center-weighted metering, and  Matrix metering
  • Exposure mode – Manual (M), Aperture Priority (A), Shutter Priority (S) and Programmed Auto (P)
  • White Balance  – Auto, Cloudy, Direct Sunlight, Flash, Fluorescent, Color Temperature (2500 k to 10000 k)
  • Flash – No Built-in Flash and External Flash is required
  • Image format – JPEG (Basic, Normal, Fine), NEF / RAW (12-bit or 14-bit with an option of Lose less compressed, Compressed and Uncompressed)
  • Lens compatibility – Full compatibility with Nikon AF lenses with G, E, D type and  DX-format lenses. Partial compatibility with PC lenses, AI-P, and Non-CPU lenses
Controls and ergonomics

AF-ON is useful in back button autofocussing. The focus area selection button is next to the AF-ON button. The Nikon D500 has a touch screen, and it can tilt up to a certain angle.

Buttons for selection of White Balance, Exposure Mode, Metering and Image Quality.

Shutter release mode dial.

Buttons for Exposure compensation, ISO selection, and movie recording.

Focus mode selection button.


Controls on the camera feel perfect for wildlife photography.

Here is why:

  • Exposure selection mode – This button helps to select the exposure modes – Manual (M), Aperture Priority(A), Shutter Priority(S) and Programmed Auto (P)
  • Frame rate setting – This dial helps to set the Frame rate as Single ( S), Continuous Low ( CL), Continuous High ( CH ), Timer and Mirror lockup
  • ISO and exposure compensation setting – the ISO button allows you to change the ISO quickly
  • Focus point selection dial – The Focus point selection dial helps select focus point
  • Focus mode and Focus area mode selection – This button, along with Primary and secondary dials ( Dials used to change the shutter speed and Aperture), is used to select focus modes as Single, Continuous and Auto. The same button is used to choose focus areas such as Single, 3D, Dynamic with 25,72 and 153 focal points, Group area and Auto-area
  • Metering selection button – You can select Spot, Center of Matrix metering from this button quickly. In Wildlife photography switching between Matrix and Spot metering is often required depending on the light conditions
  • AF- ON button – This is one of the most useful buttons on the Nikon D500 for wildlife photography. If the bird is standing on a tree branch or takes quick flight, the AF-ON button helps to capture the image with accurate focus.
Build quality and weather sealing
  • The Nikon D500 is mostly made up of magnesium alloy, carbon fiber, and plastic
  • The weight and size of the Nikon D500 are suitable for all day shooting and even hand-holding. The size of the D500 is perfect while you travel in the wilderness and it is perfectly sized while hiking and traveling in the safari vehicle.
  • Body toughness of the Nikon D500 is decent but not great as that of Nikon D5. I find the durability of earlier versions, such as Nikon D200, D300 or D700 was better than D500. However, the build quality of Nikon D500 feels slightly better than the Nikon D7100 or the Nikon D7200 but up to the standard of flagship DX body.
  • Protection against dust and water splash is decent enough
  • I have used Nikon D500 in moderately dusty environments and medium drizzle. The camera performs fine. In fact, I clean the camera after a photoshoot in the rain or heavy dust and I recommend you do so too. This type of weather sealing may be sufficient for mild dust and water splashes, but it doesn’t look good enough in extreme weather.
Ergonomics and handling
  • Ergonomically, the Nikon D500 feels just right. Important command dials for wildlife and bird photography are located on the camera body itself. This helps you to change the settings quickly.
  • Hand-holding, the Nikon D500, feels better. One caveat is the video recording button is located a bit oddly. Despite using it multiple times, I still get confused in locating the video recording button. Apart from the video recording button, you will find the buttons and dials are at the right place with the correct size.
Camera performance from the perspective of Nature and Wildlife photographer Autofocus performance

Osprey in flight. Focus performance of the Nikon D500 for Birds in flight is excellent. Exif : 1/800s , f/8 and ISO 450

Bird action happens fast and can be erratic. Wildlife movement is also fast as it occurs at dawn or dusk. The ability of the camera to focus fast and accurate is a must. With the Multi-Cam 20K Autofocus Sensor module, Nikon D500’s autofocus capabilities are excellent. The Nikon D500 focuses accurately (provided you choose the appropriate focus mode and focus area mode).

I use back button autofocus for focusing. There is a dedicated button for back button autofocus, which is AF-ON.

Hare in the clutter. The Nikon D500 precisely acquires focus on the main object even through the forest clutter.

The Nikon D500 focusses extremely well in following conditions:

  • Daylight
  • Cloudy and rainy weather
  • Low light
  • Distant objects
  • In the forest clutter and forest canopy
  • Dusty and snowy weather
  • Birds in flight and animals in action

In terms of autofocus performance, the Nikon D500 is an absolute winner.

Deer crossing the safari track. The camera’s focus performance for distant objects is excellent. This deer was crossing the Safari road. The distance between the deer and our vehicle was around 100 meters

Image quality – Colors, details and dynamic range

Colors of the peacock. Color rendition and image quality of the Nikon D500 is great. Exif: 1/100s, f/5.6 and ISO 720

Colors, tonal range, and dynamic range of the Nikon D500 images is excellent. Metering of the Nikon D500 is fantastic. It evaluates and produces correct image exposure.

Stare of an eagle. The Nikon D500 captures the details perfectly. Exif: 1/400s, f/5.6 an ISO 500

For most of my wildlife images, I use Matrix metering. For some tricky light situations, such as harsh lights or shadows, and if the animal is dark or bright, I switch to Spot metering mode. Matrix metering will give you excellent light exposure.

Jungle fowl calling. Feather details are excellent. Exif: 1/250s, f/5.6 and ISO 450

The elephant in its kingdom. Colors and details of the elephant are accurate. Exif: 1/1000s, f/5.6 and ISO 2200

The dynamic range of the Nikon D500 is improved as compared to earlier versions of the DX format Nikon cameras. If the light is sufficient, I set the exposure compensation to +0.3 or +0.7. Exposure compensation shifts the histogram towards the right. It helps in bringing out the details and enhancing the colors in an image.

The Dynamic Range of the Nikon D500 is wide. The camera was able to capture the eyes and feathers in the shadow. Equally, the Nikon D500 captured the highlighted crest on the head perfectly.

High ISO and low light performance

Image quality and ISO performance in low light are much improved in the Nikon D500. The camera ISO has a range from ISO 100 to ISO 51200. In controlled light conditions or lab test, the Nikon D500 Images may look less noisy. However, when you are shooting with the Nikon D500 in the real jungle and natural light conditions, you have to be realistic when you select your ISO.

Peacock at ISO 1600

I use a maximum ISO up to 6400 in most cases, and for some rare wildlife moments, I go up to ISO 12800. In the forest, especially during the early morning or late evening, an ISO of up to 6400 helps.  With ISO 6400, I can get a sharp image with excellent dynamic range. The colors are also good. These images are perfectly usable for big prints and web-sized images.

Bond of Nature. Family portrait at ISO 4000

Whereas, if you go ridiculously high on ISO such as ISO 51200, you will still get an image, but you will have to apply Noise reduction in post-processing. Also, the image loses the fine details. If you are going to print the image, select the reasonable high ISO at the available light conditions.

Bottom line

The Nikon D500 has improved high ISO and low light performance. Up to maximum ISO 6400, images are great. The sharpness and colors are fantastic and noise levels are low and manageable in post-processing.

Sambar deer at ISO 6400. It was almost dark in the forest. Luminance noise is visible in the image.

Mongoose at ISO 6400. It was almost dark in the forest.

White balance

Fish eagle on the perch. Auto White balance for the Nikon D500 produces color temperatures and tint accurately.

The auto white balance of the Nikon D500 is accurate. The camera produces white balance without any shift in color or tint. All the color temperatures look right.

Other than Auto White balance, there are different white balances available such as Daylight and Shade. All produce good results.

For wildlife and bird photography, I recommend you choose Auto White Balance. It will help to reproduce the correct white balance for your images. If you want to add creative effects, you can always tune the raw image in post-processing.

Bonus: My D500 camera settings for wildlife and bird photography
  • Image Quality: RAW
  • NEF (RAW) Recording: NEF RAW Compression: Loose-less compressed and Bit Depth: 14-Bit Depth
  • Color space: Adobe RGB
  • Picture Control: Standard (SD)
  • ISO: Auto ISO with Maximum ISO as 6400 (It will depend on the lighting conditions, but I find 6400 is the right balance for image quality and low noise)
  • Autofocus mode: AF-C (Continuous)
  • Autofocus Area mode: Dynamic (25 points) or Group area focus
  • Exposure mode: Manual (Shutter speed and Aperture will be set based on the available light in the environment). You can also use Aperture priority as an Exposure Mode.
  • White Balance: Auto
  • Metering: Matrix
  • For autofocus, use Back button autofocus: AF-ON
  • Shutter release mode: Continuous High CH (10 FPS) or Continuous Low CL (6 FPS)
Conclusion and recommendations Pros
  • 10 FPS (Frames Per Second)
  • Fast and accurate focus even in low light
  • Good High ISO Performance
  • Superb image quality and dynamic range
  • Excellent ergonomics
  • Perfect location of camera buttons and dials
  • Autofocus with central autofocus points up to Aperture of f/8
  • No Built-in flash and GPS
  • Location of the video recording button
  • Above average Build quality and weather sealing (Not the best in class)
In summary

The DX sensor, superior autofocus performance, high ISO performance, best in class frames per second (10 FPS), and travel-friendly size makes the Nikon D500 perfect for wildlife and bird photography.

You will love using Nikon D500 in the wild.

What do you think about the Nikon D500 camera? Please do let us know in the comments below!


The post Review of the Nikon D500 for Wildlife and Bird Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Shreyas Yadav.

Is Photography Becoming too Easy?

Sat, 06/29/2019 - 15:00

The post Is Photography Becoming too Easy? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

The autofocus on the Sony A9 is amazing! Set it to eye AF, point in direction of the subject and let it do the rest. It’s almost too easy.

Everyone is a Photographer these days. It has never been easier or cheaper to create good quality photographs. People sincerely believe that the camera is what takes these amazing images. I am sure you have heard this as many times as I have; “You take beautiful photos, you must have a great camera.”

With the technology we see now though, I sometimes wonder, do they have a point?

We now have cameras in mobile phones, that not long ago professional photographers, paying thousands for their cameras would have dreamed of being able to use. Look at the ‘shot on iPhone’ campaign, and look at Instagram daily. People can take amazing photographs, with a couple of clicks and minimal effort.

Has modern technology democratized photography, or does it mean photography has become easy?

Technology continues to make things easier. But that didn’t start with digital!

Technology has always pushed to make things simpler. Be that the TV remote control or the digital camera. The digital camera was simply the technology industry’s answer to the market forces. Consumers wanted a camera that could take endless photographs. Businesses, noting this need, used the emerging technology to answer their customer cries. Thus, creating digital cameras and changing the face of photography forever.

Let’s get this out of the way early. There was no comparison between shooting digital and shooting film. After the first generations with their inevitable teething problems and huge price tag,  photography became incredibly easy with digital. Instant feedback told you whether you had the shot or not. You were not limited by 24 or 36 exposures (or less if you shot medium format). Lastly, after the initial outlay, photography became much cheaper as there were simply no processing bills.

Depending on whom you ask, the digital evolution is either the moment someone got into photography or the beginning of the decline. However, let’s think back a little. If you had shot wet plates, imagine how easy those punks using 35mm film had it.

Imagine when autofocus cameras meant you no longer needed the skill of manual focus? Well, that is just ridiculous! Imagine a flash that didn’t need the incredibly dangerous use of flash powder for goodness sakes. The ability to refocus after the photo is in its infancy, but I can see it being a mainstay of every camera in less than ten years.

Technology helps make life better for humans. The most common way to make things better is often making things easier. In the modern world, we adapt quickly and then quickly rely on the new tech we use. It becomes part of our lives and frees up vital brain space. Every photography innovation, from the first camera onwards, has been about making it easier to preserve a moment in time.

Remember when we only had 18 megapixels, or 12, or six! How did we manage with only nine autofocus points rather than focus points over the entire sensor? Focus points that you don’t really need to use because the camera finds the eyes of humans (or animals), locks on, and all you need to do is decide which eye you want in focus.

I mean imagine how photojournalists in the ’80s would react to a modern digital camera? Moving even further back, imagine telling painters in the 1500s that one day there would be a box that captured the image of the person in minute detail and all you needed to do was to allow light into a box?

I remember the first 0.5MP digital camera I ever used. It was like magic. You could see the photograph instantly, and you never needed to pay for the processing. I was hooked instantly. Even though I had a crappy job, I saved hard for a digital point and shoot and began capturing photos again. I occasionally shot on an SLR camera, but could rarely afford to buy film and process it. I even took a night school class to get access to a darkroom and shot everything in black and white.

The Pentax 3-Megapixel camera I had been saving for months to own, changed my world. The quality wasn’t as good. I had no control over the shutter speed or aperture, but I could take photos. Hundreds of them. All the time. It was life-changing. I had moved more into film making, but this digital camera brought me back. I got hooked again. If it were not for that 0.5 Megapixel camera I got to use in my job, I would probably not even be writing this.

The right place, the right time, but only a phone and no DSLR. Yet I still get an image like this.

Does gear make you a better Photographer?

We are photographers, and we love to lust over gear. The newest this, the better that. Camera companies spend millions trying to persuade us that we need new gear. Will the latest Sony with the mind-blowing eye autofocus really make your photos better? No. Will it make them easier? Undoubtedly, yes.

But, thanks to another wonderful technological invention – the internet – many of us spend more time talking about megapixels than actually using them.

We are as guilty as the influencers who “don’t even use a real camera” because we are the opposite. Instead, we sit pixel peeping the corner sharpness at four million percent and then badmouth how a manufacturer could release such a piece of crap.

A phone camera can take the most breathtaking image, worthy of an art gallery. Conversely, a multi-megapixel medium format camera with the best lens can take a snapshot.

50 years ago this photo was shot on a modified film camera. Gear does not matter as much as you think. Image courtesy of NASA.

Digital makes it easy, but so much harder to stand out

Estimates suggest that over one trillion photographs were taken in 2018 (if you want to see the zeros, one trillion is 1,000,000,000,000). Ninety-five million photos get uploaded to Instagram every day. Add to that the three hundred hours of footage uploaded to YouTube every minute and the number of photographs and videos we are producing is simply staggering. Now whilst you cannot deny that digital made this possible, digital has also made it much harder to stand out.

Camera manufacturers are great at making people believe that they are artists – that everyone has an amazing movie. In the same way that everyone has a great novel, song, or painting inside of them begging to get out. In reality, that isn’t the truth. Photography (to me at least) is art. And art is, for better or worst, elitist.

Some people are not great artists and some are not great songwriters. And many people are not great photographers.

The problem is, with so much poor and average stuff out there, how do you get to see the good stuff? In some cases, you don’t. There are photographers out there, who are taking photographs that are simply some of the best ever taken. However, we will never see them. There are filmmakers out there creating short films that should see them breaking down the doors of Hollywood, but they don’t. Instead, our feeds are filled up with yet more cat memes and average photos we have seen thousands of times before.

We are drowning in content.

It is to the point where photography seems to be a popularity contest, rather than about artistry.

Look at how Canon treated Yvette Roman because she didn’t have 50,000 followers or more on YouTube. Let that sink in. A photographer whose style they loved for a job, who they agreed to hire, was replaced simply due to her lack of numbers. That shows you how companies want to hire photographers who can use their social channels to add to the marketing campaign.

We live in the influencer age, where amazing photographers are turned down for jobs due to not having followers. On the flip side of that, someone who only uses their phone for photography can be given thousands for merely showing that they use a particular piece of gear. They travel the world for free simply because they are popular on Instagram.

This system makes perfect sense when looked at from a marketing perspective. However, these platforms are where most of us spend our time and where we discover new content. Therefore, algorithms now control the amount of photography we get exposed to.

An algorithm doesn’t care about quality; it cares about metrics. The aim is to find popular content and put it out there for more people to find. Does this mean that photography is being reduced to likes? In many ways, yes, but it also shows the power of a story.

My 6-year-old took this photo. Sharp, well exposed and decent color. Not even a DSLR, just a compact.

A camera does not know how to tell a story yet

We live in an age where you can throw your work out for all the world to see. The level of photography has never been higher. I can give my six-year-old a camera, and he can take sharp, well-exposed photos, telling the stories of his lego figures. But a camera, in fact, no technology, can yet create an image that tells a story.

A great photograph always tells a story. It makes us want to know more about the moment. It allows us to create our own story based on what we see in the image and our world view. The story I see in a photograph will be different from yours. In fact, you may hate a photograph I love and vice versa.

This is simply not possible with even the greatest camera. There is no Ai that will pick the perfect moment for you to click the shutter button. Yes, cameras may do 20 frames per second or more, but even then, you cannot continually record every second of the day. You need to find the angle, frame your subject in the way that tells your story and then press the shutter. Really, the technical aspect (no matter how much the camera companies persuade us otherwise) is not where the photograph is made. It is not in the corner sharpness – many great photos are not sharp. It is the story you tell.

The story is what you need to learn. Telling a story is hard. It has always been hard, and technology is nowhere near being able to do it for us.

You make the decisions before you press the shutter. You use the light, the subject, and find the angle. Then you open a box and let in some light for a little bit. It has always been the same. It’s just that technology over the years has made it easier to let the light in the box and get the image sharp if that is important to you.

No matter what the camera, knowing the moment to press the shutter is still a skill that is not computer controlled, yet.

The future

I am sure you all saw it? It finally happened – a couple hired a robot to shoot their wedding! Yes, I know it is just a photo-booth style alternative for now, but it does hint to the future. Are we going to be used to weddings where drones automatically take photographs that are better than a human can capture? Photographs that can then be instantly customized by the bride and groom at the touch of a button (or voice command)? Will this mean that people will become obsolete in many photography fields? Will they only need a device; a robot?

Will my future as a photography business owner involve owning several robots? The ten-year-old version of me prays that this is true.  Alternatively, will people not need to hire anyone? Perhaps photography will be built into their daily devices? Will we become so vain that a device follows us around capturing our daily lives and then picks the best moments via an algorithm to share on social media for us? (Let’s hope not! – Editor)

What do you think? Share your comments with us below.

The post Is Photography Becoming too Easy? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

3 Photo Editing Mistakes to Avoid

Sat, 06/29/2019 - 10:00

The post 3 Photo Editing Mistakes to Avoid appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Lily Sawyer.

If you are a photographer who shoots in RAW, then you know that editing is a must!

Editing is a lot of fun. Personally, I enjoy seeing a blah photo turn into a good one by manipulating the details in the image. It’s almost like magic. However, editing doesn’t come without caveats.

In this article, we’ll look at three basic editing mistakes to avoid. They are easy to do, especially when you are new to editing and are overly enthusiastic about transforming your photo into something magical!

When I was a novice, my photos were over-edited (cringe). I looked at other photographers’ work with awe, and I wanted my photos to look like theirs. I got lured into using actions and using them too heavily for that color-pop, scroll-stopping, jaw-dropping impact a photo can have.

It was awful; as I later discovered. It was when I learned how to distinguish between a good photo edited correctly and a photo decimated by actions or over-editing that my images dramatically improved and my confidence as a photographer grew.

Let’s dive in and look at the three basic editing mistakes to avoid. The photos I used in this article are ordinary snaps, taken without the use of any lighting and on a normal bright morning. You don’t have to set up amazing sessions and shots for an excuse to edit your photos. Even the most ordinary of photos could do with a bit of magic.

1. Not shooting in RAW

The first mistake in editing is not shooting in RAW format. Editing and RAW are best friends. Editing a RAW file is the best combination you can use because RAW is a lossless format. That means it retains all the information in the image for you to play around with during the editing process.

RAW is untouched, unprocessed, and unedited. The raw information in pixels is all collated without any interference from the camera. On the other hand, JPEGS (whether that be fine or basic), is a format which allows the camera to process the raw information and compress it by discarding pixels. It does away with some of this raw information before saving the image to your memory card. As a result, you get a smaller image that has already been edited by your camera.

This means the colors and contrasts are already different from the original information. When you edit a JPEG image, you are further fiddling with the remaining information and processing an already processed image. This is not an ideal starting place, as it’s often difficult not to overedit from this point.

For more detailed articles on RAW vs JPEG, read here.

2. Incorrect white balance

This may sound basic to some of you, but many of you might not have heard of the term white balance. When I first had a DSLR, I shot on portrait mode. I didn’t know how to shoot in Manual and didn’t feel I needed to learn it. I relied on the camera modes until I realized I could not achieve the style and type of images I wanted. Until then, I did not know – let alone understand – what White Balance meant.

To put it simply, white balance is making sure white objects appear white. Many lighting factors can affect the whites in your image. These are called color cast. Color casts happen when whites look like different colors depending on the ambient light. A very common color cast occurrence is from incandescent light which, if the white balance is left unadjusted, will render white objects a yellow color, for example.

There is a thing called color temperature measured in Kelvins which offers a range of numerical values to which you adjust your white balance to get your white balance correct. When shooting outdoors in natural sunlight, for example, the color temperature is usually in the 5500K range. You want your camera’s white balance to match that so your white looks white. Conversely, indoors usually has a warmer color temperature. When there are tungsten lights involved, the Kelvins are around 3500K. You need to match this too to ensure your white looks white.

Sure the camera can do this by itself using Auto White Balance, and it does it really well too. The trouble I find is that it still varies quite a lot even though the variations might be minimal. For me, this proves a problem when editing thousands of images, especially when batch editing. My preference to counteract this is to shoot in Kelvin which gives me a pretty constant white balance, though not an absolute science, that I can tweak when editing.

Read more about demystifying white balance here.

3. Over editing

There are a hundred and one ways you can over-edit your images. I will touch on a few favorites, especially because they are the ones that affect the image the most.

a. Heavy vignette

I love vignettes. I apply vignetting to most of my images and love the way it draws the attention to the middle of the image by way of overall contrast: darker around the edges and lighter in the middle. However, it is so easy to be heavy-handed with it so that your image looks like “a moth to a flame” effect: black spherical shape on the outside and a very bright central area. The key word is subtle.

A good trick of knowing how much vignette to add is to slide the bar across both extremes and then you can see the effect of each stage and decide what looks right.

b. Over and under-saturation

Have you heard of the term “pop” in photography?

Photographers love using it! Add a color pop to make the image pop etc. Often, saturation is not the way to achieve this “pop”! I would advise against fiddling with the saturation slider. Only use it if the photo is so undersaturated that a saturation boost is necessary to make the colors get closer to a natural look.

The danger of using the saturation slider is making the colors look ‘neonesque’! A classic ubiquitous example of this is green grass. NO grass looks neon green yet often we see them in photos. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn the saturation slider is the culprit when I come across those images.

It is better to use the vibrance slider if you want to add some life to your color. Here is an article that explains the difference between vibrance and saturation.

Undersaturation is just as bad. This is when you strip the image of color so everything looks deathly pale or rather steely and cold. I have made this mistake before when I was starting out. Avoid it! Better yet, do not even attempt to do it.

c. Extreme contrasts

Contrast is simply the difference between the whites and blacks in the image or, if you like, the light areas and dark areas. Three sliders affect contrast: whites, shadows, and blacks. Move those sliders to see what effect they do to the image.

The best advice I can give is to choose a natural contrast where the blacks are just right, and the whites are not blown or overexposed. Keeping an eye on the histogram helps to ensure you are not clipping blacks and whites and are staying within the proper range of values when it comes to contrast.

So there we are – three easily made editing mistakes. I hope you have learned something from this little article.

Any more valuable tips? Do share in the comments below.


The post 3 Photo Editing Mistakes to Avoid appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Lily Sawyer.

Weekly Photography Challenge – Sport

Fri, 06/28/2019 - 15:00

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

This week’s photography challenge topic is SPORT!

Travis Yewell

Go out and capture sporty photos. It can be the kids playing sport, adult sports, animals playing sports, cycling, motorsports and action shots, or even sports related items. 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!

Kolleen Gladden

Thomas Schweighofer


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

Tips for Shooting SPORT

Top 5 Tips for Extreme Sports Photography

Tips for Doing Better Indoor Sports Photography

How to Photograph Agility Events and Other Dog Sports

Tips from the Sports Photography Pros to Help You Get the Money Shots

3 Tips for Taking Better Motorsport Photos

Tips and Tricks to Help You Take Better Youth Sports Photos

Weekly Photography Challenge – SPORT

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 #DPSsport 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 – Sport appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

Prime Lens Comparison – 24mm vs 35mm vs 50mm vs 85mm vs 135mm

Fri, 06/28/2019 - 10:00

The post Prime Lens Comparison – 24mm vs 35mm vs 50mm vs 85mm vs 135mm appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

In this video, Julia Trotti does a prime lens comparison with portrait photography.

You’ll learn about focal lengths, background-to-foreground separation and compression, and distortion.

Take a look.


In this video, Julia compares the following lenses using her Canon 5D MkIII:

Julia first tests the lenses shooting full body photos with her model, Maralyn, from the same standing position to show how much background compression each lens shows, as well as the bokeh.

Then she does shots where her model fills more of the frame. To do so, she moves closer and further away to get the model in roughly the same position in the frame but showing what happens to the background in each shot.

The Sigma 24mm has the least background to foreground compression (shows more of the background) when doing full body shots.

The 85mm and the 135mm have great compression, and large background to foreground separation, with no distortion. The 135mm has the most background to foreground separation and compression of all these lenses.

Be sure to watch the video to see the photo examples that detail how the background compression is effected by each lens.


You may also find the following helpful:

How to use Focal Length and Background Compression to Enhance Your Photos

5 Important Focal Lengths to Know and the Benefits of Each

Get Your Creative Juices Flowing with Different Focal Lengths

8 Focal Lengths Illustrated


The post Prime Lens Comparison – 24mm vs 35mm vs 50mm vs 85mm vs 135mm appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

How To Use Lightroom Classic With Two Monitors

Thu, 06/27/2019 - 15:00

The post How To Use Lightroom Classic With Two Monitors appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Darina Kopcok.

One of the best ways to enhance your workflow in Lightroom is to use two monitors.

Utilizing two monitors in Lightroom helps you work faster. You can also sort through your images more quickly. You can work with your thumbnails on one screen, and the full-sized image on another.

If you’re a high-volume shooter, such as a wedding photographer, you should seriously consider working with two monitors. You’ll find that it can make your workflow a lot more streamlined and productive.

Your second monitor doesn’t have to be as big or as high quality as your primary one. In fact, you can even connect a laptop to your monitor.

A two monitor set-up is great to have if you shoot tethered or travel with a laptop.

Alternatively, you can have two stand-alone monitors, depending on what kind of operating system you have, or a computer with a built in monitor, like an iMac.

For example, in my own workflow, I use a 27-inch iMac and a separate monitor in a similar size.

How to set up two monitors in Lightroom

To set up a two-monitor display, you first need to connect your second monitor and then get Lightroom to recognize the secondary display.

To do this, go to Window -> Secondary Display -> Show.

Then go to the monitor icons on the left side of the Filmstrip -> click the monitor icon labeled “2” to activate the secondary display.

The default for the secondary display is Loupe View, but you can change it.

The other options are Grid View, Compare View, Survey View, or People View. Click and hold the monitor icon marked “1” to see these options.

People is where Lightroom identifies faces in images, including new ones you add to your library. That way, you don’t have to assign keywords to tag people in your photos manually.

If you click and hold the icon labeled “1,” you’ll see a similar list of options for your primary monitor.

You can zoom and filter photos in Loupe View.

Loupe View on the second monitor allows you to zoom into the photo by clicking on the image. You can also right-click your mouse and change the color of your workspace background.

Note that Loupe View has three different modes: Normal, Live, and Locked.

  • In Normal, if you click on a thumbnail in Grid View on monitor 1, you’ll see a large version displayed in Loupe View on monitor 2.
  • In Live, the photo displayed in Loupe View changes as you move the cursor over the thumbnails in Grid View.
  • With Locked, the last photo viewed in Loupe View stays on the screen until you select one of the other modes.

To access Normal View, click on a thumbnail in Grid View on monitor 1 to see a large version displayed in Loupe View on monitor 2.

While in Live View, the photo displayed in Loupe View changes as you move the cursor over the thumbnails in Grid View.

In Locked View, the last photo viewed in Loupe View stays on the screen until you select one of the other modes.

Compare View in the secondary window offers the same functionality as the Compare View in the primary window.

Survey in the secondary display offers the same functionality as the Survey view in the primary window.

Options for display with two monitors

You can customize your workspace on two monitors in the following ways:

  • Use the Develop module on your first monitor and enable Loupe View on the second monitor. This will allow you to zoom in on the second monitor to check finer details such as noise, focus, or for chromatic aberration.
  • Set Grid View on the first monitor and Loupe View on the second monitor. You can look at one photo on one screen and thumbnails on the other.
  • Use Grid View on the first monitor and Survey or Compare View on the second monitor. This is recommended when you want to quickly cull images.
  • Alternately, you can have Grid View on your second monitor and Loupe View on the first monitor.

To hide the top or bottom panels in the secondary display, click the grey arrows, the same way you hide panels in Lightroom’s main window. Click them again to unhide them.

The “Full Screen” option in Lightroom is enabled by default. When you click on it, the window on your second monitor is taken out of full-screen mode, giving you a re-sizeable window that can be moved around the screen.

You can swap the displays around in Normal Screen Mode. In this mode, you can drag and drop the window over to the second display, automatically changing their positions.

You can also display the second window as a floating window by clicking the Second Monitor button in the main window and deselecting Full Screen.

To close the second window, –> click the Second Window button, or click it and deselect Show.

To sum up

One last note: be sure that at least the main monitor where you view your final images is calibrated. You want to make sure that the color in your images is technically correct, especially if your images will be printed.

If you have been doing your Lightroom post-processing on one monitor, you’ll find that getting a second monitor will change your editing life.

Do you use two monitors? What are your thoughts? Share with us in the comments below.



The post How To Use Lightroom Classic With Two Monitors appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Darina Kopcok.

Why Hiring an Assistant at Weddings Makes you a Better Photographer

Thu, 06/27/2019 - 10:00

The post Why Hiring an Assistant at Weddings Makes you a Better Photographer appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

It’s no mistake that many wedding photographers have assistants and even second shooters at weddings. The reason being is that photographing a wedding longer than 5 hours on your own can be very challenging, especially since there are many important wedding details and moments that need extra coverage.

Hiring an assistant means you have help carrying your gear and keeping distractions at bay so you can photograph the important moments smoothly.

What is an assistant?

A photography assistant is not to be confused with a second shooter. While sometimes used interchangeably, the two terms are actually different, and it’s really important to know the difference.

An assistant is an extra pair of hands available for you during the wedding day.

They may be in charge of carrying the equipment, helping with setting up additional cameras and being available for any need that the photography may have during the wedding day.

Assistants can help gather details during a wedding day and help with styling as well.

Many assistants are aspiring wedding photographers or seasoned wedding photographers. It can vary in the level of experience. This is something that you should look into while interviewing or hiring an assistant.

Assistants can also help with styling certain shots like the wedding rings, or help to gather flowers. They can also help with posing families during that portion of the wedding day.

Assistants also offer a second point of view. They offer ideas to get better shots or additional photos that perhaps you had not thought of previously. They are also helpful when you need an opinion and also someone to talk to as weddings can run up to 12 hours or more depending on how much you are covering.

What is a second shooter?

A second shooter is a second photographer. Usually, the second photographer is solely responsible for taking photos of the event alongside you, the main photographer.

A second photographer can get those in-between candid moments that happen when the main photographer is busy photographing something else.

The second shooter helps to get a different angle of the same setup. Or perhaps they can be trusted to photograph a portion of the day alone while you cover another. For example, if you’re photographing the bride and her bridesmaids, the second photographer may cover the groom and his groomsmen.

Also, if you’re photographing the bride and groom together, the second photographer can shoot from a completely different angle. This gives the final images more variety of the same moments throughout the wedding day.

Having a second photographer can get images from a different angle.

Sometimes the assistant can also be a second photographer during certain parts of the day but perhaps not the whole day. For example, you can hire a second photographer and an assistant so that the two jobs don’t overlap during the day. That way, you have both a second pair of photos taken while having someone help carry your equipment and to help you set up.

Be clear about expectations

This brings me to this very important point; be clear about expectations when you’re looking to hire an assistant. Make sure that you outline what their responsibilities are.

An assistant can help carry gear when the terrain is less than ideal for your gear to be in. Like a sandy beach near the ocean.

Perhaps you’re only looking for an assistant? In that case, be sure to outline that their responsibilities will not include photographing the event at all. They will only be there to help with setting up, carrying equipment, and helping the main photographer during the event.

If you’re looking for a combination of the two, outline that from the beginning. Make sure to advise them to bring useful equipment if you will have them use their own. Also, specify which parts of the event they will be covering. Perhaps you need them to be an assistant during most of the day but will need them to be a second photographer during the ceremony only.

Be clear about what your assistant should help you with. For example, posing the family or helping to fluff out the wedding dress.

Also, be aware that it is very difficult to be a second photographer and an assistant simultaneously. You will need to be very clear about what you need from the person helping you at the event.

Be a team player

All photographers work and handle their businesses differently. However, when you are photographing a wedding, it’s best to make it clear that you and your assistant are a team. You are both there to work at the wedding together.

This creates an openness for the assistant to help with styling, and to offer their opinion or aesthetic input. This can be really helpful during the wedding day. Working together rather than bossing or ordering the assistant around can be really helpful since the assistant will feel included and part of a team.

Keep in mind the level of experience the assistant may have, which can also help you immensely during the event. Most seasoned wedding photographers have, at some point, been second photographers or assistants themselves. They are eager and accommodating on wedding days. If they are seasoned pros and are helping you out, consider their input.

When you are hiring someone who is just getting started, it’s important to talk with them before starting the photography. State your expectations, where gear is in your bag, how you approach the wedding day, and what you’ll need from them.

Some assistants are barely getting their feet wet and may need extra coaching. If this is the case, approach them with the mindset of being a team. They will work harder for you and be more willing to anticipate your needs.

Assistant contract

It is very important to have a contract drafted for the assistant position. Too often does it happen when images get published, used, sold, or otherwise from assistants who weren’t the main photographer.

A contract can outline image delivery expectations if they helped photograph a portion of the event, and what their pay is to be.

The contract can help you set boundaries, and outline their responsibilities, as well as set the pay for the event. Don’t skip on this tip! All too often we hear horror stories of assistants that never returned the equipment, didn’t deliver images and got paid what was due!

Having a contract is good to have for all parties involved.


Even though you can hire someone who is just getting started in the wedding photography business, this doesn’t mean that you can pay them less than you would expect to be paid if you were assisting.

They give you a pair of extra hands and help you for hours carrying most of your equipment, so pay them accordingly. Some more seasoned wedding photographers may have a going rate. However, it’s good to research your area for the going rate, either hourly or a set rate for the entire event.

Take into consideration the following:
  • The amount of time they will be hired to assist
  • Will they also be using their photography skills to photograph certain parts of the event?
  • Will they be using their own equipment or your own? If they are using their own equipment, then factor that into the payment.
  • How much will they be carrying in equipment?
  • Milage, gas, or extra costs

If the assistant will be there with you during the dinner portion of the event, make sure you let the bride and groom know. That way, they will know you have an assistant also eating at the wedding, even if it’s a vendor meal. If they aren’t going to stay for dinner, make sure you state what meals you’ll be covering or if you will be paying for their meal at all.

An assistant can help make a first look go smoothly by helping with positioning the bride and making sure to be available to switch lenses, cards, batteries, etc.

It’s also really important to state how the assistant will be getting paid. Will they be paid by bank transfer, deposit, invoicing, or any other method? That way they know when and how they will be getting paid for assisting at the event.

Having an assistant makes you a better photographer

The reason to have an assistant at a wedding is that it ultimately makes you a better photographer. It frees you up from carrying your equipment so that you can focus on taking important photos rather than checking to see if your camera bag is within reach.

Assistants can help with lighting, adjusting extra cameras, or even helping style the bride’s veil during the portraits. Having an extra pair of hands makes it easier for you to focus on getting the shot without having to do it all on your own.

Also, having someone there to help with making sure that the wedding photography goes smoothly and quickly will help you to focus on what really matters – getting the shot.

Moreover, having someone to talk to during the long wedding day can help you stay focused and in the present moment.

In Conclusion

Hiring an assistant during a wedding event can help you be free to really focus on photographing each and every special moment of a wedding day.

They can help by carrying your equipment, be a teammate and help with lighting or offer ideas. An assistant can be an extra pair of hands and eyes during the day too.

Have you hired an assistant before? If so, what additional tips would you include?


The post Why Hiring an Assistant at Weddings Makes you a Better Photographer appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

5 Tips for Better Travel Photography

Wed, 06/26/2019 - 15:00

The post 5 Tips for Better Travel Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jeremy Flint.

Travelling with you camera is one of the highlights of embarking on any trip at home or abroad. Whether you enjoy visiting interesting places, soaking up the sunshine or embarking on adventurous activities, here are some tips for better travel photography.

1. Do your research

Provence, France © Jeremy Flint

One of the most fundamental aspects of travel photography is to do your research about the destination you are visiting. Finding out about a location and obtaining information about a place and its attractions will help you to plan your trip. From this information gathering process, you can learn more about your destination. Ask yourself what you most want to see. Spend your time visiting the places that interest you.

2. Decide what to photograph

Provence, France © Jeremy Flint

There are two approaches to consider when deciding what to take pictures of when on location. Firstly, you can come up with a plan for the things you want to photograph. Alternatively, you can be more spontaneous and walk around and photograph anything you see that inspires you. The advantage of the latter is that you can be more creative with no pre-conceived ideas of what you are going to photograph.

3. Manage your expectations 

If you are visiting somewhere for a short period of time, you may not have enough time to cover all of the touristic sights and highlights. Therefore, you will need to decide in advance where you would like to visit and photograph and what your photographic priorities are.

Be realistic with your time. It will be a more enjoyable experience. Don’t try to do so much that you end up exhausted after the trip. You will often find that you won’t have enough time to cover everything on your first visit. I recommend choosing one or two places that you would really like to see and photograph. Just go there in case you end up running out of time. By visiting fewer places, you may do more justice to your photos – particularly if you can stay around to combat frustrations of travel photography such as adverse weather conditions.

Moreover, you can always visit again to cover the areas you miss.

Palawan, The Philippines © Jeremy Flint

On a recent trip to the Philippines, I was pushed for time and decided to base myself in one place where I visited and photographed my surroundings. This made for a much more enjoyable trip. I wasn’t rushing around trying to see everything in one go, and I could take advantage of any favorable weather.

Ultimately managing your expectations depends on your goals, what you want to photograph, and how much time you want to spend at different locations.

4. Embrace the culture

Papua New Guinea © Jeremy Flint

Visiting a new location with your camera should be about more than just taking pictures. When visiting foreign lands, you are bound to come across cultures that are different from those found in your home town and country. To make the most of the place you visit, be open to the culture that is present. Experiencing a culture first-hand is as much a part of the enjoyment and wonder of a new place as it is to photograph its landmarks.

On a recent visit to Romania, I wanted to photograph the country’s attractive landscapes. While there, I was bowled over by the kindness and hospitality of the people. By embracing the local culture, I found the trip to be so much more rewarding.

Be open and flexible. Allow time for cultural experiences to happen.  

5. Enjoy your trip 

Palawan, The Philippines © Jeremy Flint

Whilst taking photos is all part of the fun of documenting your adventures, be sure to have some non-photography time too.

Have you ever been on your travels only to find you feel worn out after the trip from doing too much photography? Well, try not to spend all your time behind the camera taking pictures.

To enjoy your travels more, take time out from photography and enjoy the sights and surroundings without your camera. You will feel more refreshed, and your creativity may be better as a result of it.


Travel photography is one of the most enjoyable aspects of photography, particularly as you have the opportunity to visit places near and far with your camera.

For better results in recording your journey, research your destination in advance. Decide what you would most like to photograph. Be realistic with what you expect to capture, embrace the culture and most importantly enjoy your trip!

Share your travel photos and any other tips for better travel photography in the comments below.


The post 5 Tips for Better Travel Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jeremy Flint.

5 Photography Rules for Capturing Photos Your Audience Will Adore

Wed, 06/26/2019 - 10:00

The post 5 Photography Rules for Capturing Photos Your Audience Will Adore appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

It’s hard to stand out as a photographer.

These days, you have so many photos to compete against; the internet is drowned in smartphone snapshots (with layer upon layer of filters).

So how do you create images that cut through all the noise? How do you create art that will truly stun your audience?

In this article, you’ll discover 5 simple photography rules for capturing photos – which will ensure that your photos are truly special.

Let’s dive right in, starting with…

1. Do everything you can to emphasize your subject

If you want to capture photos that stand out, then this is your number one rule:

Pick a subject. Something that stands out in your photo. Something that acts as an anchor point.

And make that subject stand out as much as you can.

You see, it’s your main subject that actually captivates people. The rest of the scene exists to enhance that main subject.

But how do you enhance your main subject?

Start by making sure that your main subject is extremely sharp. Make sure it’s the sharpest part of the photo, in fact.

And make sure that your main subject has some color. Color draws the eye!

Third, make sure your main subject is bright and well-exposed. A dark subject (especially if it’s surrounded by a dark background) just won’t work. If you do include a dark subject, then make sure that the background is extremely bright.

On a related note, more contrast is nearly always better. If you can incorporate some ultra-dark tones and ultra-light tones in your photos, your photo will instantly improve. Ideally, your background and your main subject will contrast heavily.

Last, keep your background as clean as possible. It doesn’t have to be completely uniform but should be simple and well-organized. When in doubt, go for a monochromatic background, such as black, white, or green.

2. Use complementary colors to make your photos pop

You already know how important it is to include contrast.

But there’s a special kind of contrast that deserves its own mention:

Color contrast.

Color contrast refers to the addition of colors that sit opposite one another on the color wheel (also known as complementary colors).

You’re probably familiar with color contrast, even if you don’t know it. We see complementary color pairs all the time: red and green, blue and orange, yellow and purple.

Now, color contrast is perfect for creating stand-out photos. It catches the eye, and it practically forces viewers to look more deeply.

One thing to note, however, is that you shouldn’t use too many contrasting colors. I recommend simply including two complementary colors (and potentially a third non-complementary color). If you incorporate too much contrast, the photo will become too powerful, and the colors will start to clash.

I also recommend you limit the amount of the complementary colors that appear. If you have two complementary colors, include a lot of one color, and a little of the other. This will prevent the photo from overpowering the viewer.

Finding contrasting colors might seem difficult. But with a little effort, you should be able to incorporate a contrasting color pair.

And you’ll love the effect!

3. Use negative space to stun viewers from a distance

Negative space is emptiness in a photo.

By this, I’m referring to empty sky, empty water, or even an empty background – it all counts as negative space.

And negative space is extremely valuable, for a few reasons.

First, it gives the main subject some breathing room.

It also makes compositions feel calm and more stable (which is generally nice to have in a photo).

But the best thing about negative space is that it is a place where the eyes don’t rest – thereby directing the viewer straight to the main subject.

So here’s what I recommend:

When you’re deciding on a composition, incorporate at least some negative space into the photo. If you can, create a lot of empty space – but even a little space will go a long way.

It’s best if the negative space exists around the main subject. That way, attention is immediately directed to the focal point of the photo.

But any negative space is good!

4. Include leading lines to draw in the viewer

I’ve talked a lot about emphasizing the main subject of your photos.

This is because the most striking photos hit the viewer over the head with their subject. They pull the viewer in and direct them through the frame – right to the focal point.

That’s the mark of a powerful photo.

And here’s another great way to emphasize your subject:

Use leading lines. Include them whenever you can.

Leading lines are lines that draw the viewer through the frame. They can be anything vaguely line-like: A river, an outstretched arm, even a flower petal.

Whenever you find a photo-worthy scene, search for leading lines. And incorporate them into your composition. Ideally, the leading line moves toward your subject. But you can also include leading lines that take the viewer around the frame.

Most scenes have some sort of leading line. You just have to look hard enough!

5. Always shoot in the best light you can find

Out of all the rules in this article, I think this one will give you the biggest bang for your buck. Because it’s so easy to shoot in the best light – you just have to know what the best light is.

And once you know this…

Your photos will never be the same. Seriously.

So, what is the best light?

The best light is the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset, known as the golden hours.

These are the times when the sun is low in the sky, and casts a golden glow over the landscape. If you shoot during the golden hours, your subject will be bathed in beautiful light. And you’ll absolutely love the images you capture.

Now, there are other times when the light is good, depending on your genre of photography.

If you’re a street photographer, you should try shooting during the middle of the day, when the light is sunny.

If you’re a flower photographer, you should try shooting when the sky is heavily overcast.

If you’re a portrait photographer, you should also try working on overcast days.

But even though these types of light do work…

…the golden hours are perfect, without fail. They’ll always get you something wonderful.

Photography rules for capturing photos your audience will adore: conclusion

Standing out in the crowded field of photography is a difficult task.

But if you apply these simple photography rules, you’ll have a much, much better chance.

So take these rules to heart, get out, and start shooting!

Excitement awaits.

Have any more rules for capturing photos that your viewers will adore? Share them in the comments!


The post 5 Photography Rules for Capturing Photos Your Audience Will Adore appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Once 500PX “Photoshop Master” Now Facing Discipline for “Photomanipulation” from 500PX Moderators

Tue, 06/25/2019 - 18:53

The post Once 500PX “Photoshop Master” Now Facing Discipline for “Photomanipulation” from 500PX Moderators appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Michael Karcz is about to be banned from the 500PX community. His account will likely be deleted. All based on what the 500PX moderators deem to be “non-photographic content” on his page.

Michael Karcz is a well-respected photographer on 500PX. He is known for his fantasy-style images, which involved extensive use of Photoshop to create alternate realities. He has garnered thousands of followers and millions of views.

And in an article published four years back, 500PX heaped praise on Karcz, referring to him as a “Photoshop master” with “formidable Photoshop skills.”

What changed?

On Karcz’s end, nothing. His account has been business-as-usual in recent months. He never attempted to hide the process behind his images. Karcz writes on Facebook: “I marked each work as photo-montage and placed in a category that most closely matches content – fine art.”

Karcz’s gallery on 500PX.

Instead, the reversal is due entirely to 500PX’s new orientation, which rejects anything seen as non-photographic content. And this includes Karcz’s work, which relies heavily on Photoshop.

Here’s the initial message that Karcz received from a 500PX representative:

This email is to notify you that our Moderators have found non-photographic content posted on your account. 500px is a photography community, and we do not currently allow non-photographic content to be uploaded to the site. This includes screenshots, graphic designs, drawings/illustrations, video game screen captures, and other non-photographic content that we deem to be in violation of our Terms of Service. If our Moderators continue to find non-photographic material posted to your account, it may result in your account being banned. Thank you for your cooperation, 500px.

And when Karcz asked for further explanation, this was the reply from 500PX:

Hi there, Unfortunately photomanipulations based on photography is not photography and our website in the current iteration is evolving into a purely photography website. Not only that, our terms of service require you to be the copyright owner of the images you upload so if you’re editing bits and pieces of other peoples imagery then you’re in violation of that. I personally am a fan of your artwork but unfortunately it doesn’t fit within the conditions of our site at the moment.

Karcz is understandably frustrated by this about-face. For years, 500PX was a platform to share his work. And now, without warning, he’s been turned away, despite investing time and energy into building a 500PX following.

Karcz writes: “I never concealed how my work is created, and evidence of hypocrisy is an interview with me in 500px, which was later also found in the Huffington Post. What I use are photographs, and the photomontage is the starting medium.”

He goes on to argue that his photomontage technique has been “used almost from the beginning of photography, by those who wanted to show something more [than] realism.”

What are your thoughts? Should Karcz’s work be allowed on 500PX?

And if not, how should 500PX deal with once-accepted photographers who have been dedicated members of the community?

The post Once 500PX “Photoshop Master” Now Facing Discipline for “Photomanipulation” from 500PX Moderators appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.