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

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 500PX gallery

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.

The 7 Nature Photography Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making

The post The 7 Nature Photography Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Do you like to do nature photography?

Then you might be making these 7 mistakes.

And here’s the thing:

These nature photography mistakes are the kind that you don’t even know you’re making. They’re the type of mistakes that are easy to miss, but they’re absolutely critical to your photography.

To discover these mistakes (and to ensure you never make them again!), read on!

1. Shooting under bad lighting

I’m going to start with the single most critical, most common mistake I see nature photographers making:

Shooting in poor lighting conditions.

Because good light is absolutely essential to good nature photography.

In fact, I’d go so far as to say that without good light, you cannot get a good photo. It’s so easy to have the perfect setup, the perfect composition, and the perfect settings…

…only to ruin the shot with bad light.

So what counts as bad light?

Two main situations.

First, shooting under the harsh, midday sun will pretty much always ruin your shots. The midday sun just isn’t good for nature photography!

And second, shooting in low light, at any time of the day. Unless you’re shooting with a tripod, your shots will end up grainy or blurry, which you definitely don’t want.

Which begs the question:

What is good light?

I recommend that you do nature photography at two main times.

First, you can capture some great nature photography under cloudy skies. Cloudy light is especially great for photography that involves color because the clouds diffuse the light and saturate the colors.

Second, you can always rely on the golden hours, which are the two hours after sunrise and before sunset. Golden-hour light is warm, wonderful and, well, golden. It’s perfect for capturing that stunning, once-in-a-lifetime shot.

In fact, most of the best nature photography you’ve seen was probably taken during golden hour. It’s just that amazing!

2. Shooting your subject from a standing height

Here’s another common nature photography mistake:

Not paying attention to your angle!

(More specifically, photographing from a standing height, so that you’re shooting down toward your subject.)

This is especially problematic in wildlife and macro photography, where shooting downward conveys a sense of dominance and separation.

Instead of shooting downward, try to get on a level with your subject. That way, the viewer will feel much more connected, like they’re in the same world as your subject.

And don’t just shoot from a single angle. Try to experiment with different possibilities, and take note of the way a different angle results in a different nature photo.

This is a great way to get out of a creative rut: Force yourself to shoot a subject from an angle you’ve never used before. Get on the ground and shoot upward!

3. Using a (slightly) messy background

In nature photography, the background is absolutely essential.

If you don’t include the perfect background, then your photos just won’t stun the viewer.

And one of the easiest mistakes to make is using a messy background.

You’ve got to do everything you can to avoid the mess. You must avoid chaos. Instead, you need to produce a background that’s as simple as possible:

  • Uniform in color
  • No additional subjects
  • No lines or shapes

Your goal is to make your subject stand out. And to do that, you have to eliminate everything that’s unnecessary in the background. Only include the essentials.

4. Photographing low-quality subjects

Once you’ve found a subject…

…do you check to make sure that it’s not damaged, dirty, or poor quality?

It’s so easy to forget this step. And yet it’s critical to capturing a stunning nature photo.

I recommend you always do a quick evaluation of your subject.

If it’s a flower, then you’ll want to ask yourself:

  • Are there any blemishes or holes?
  • Are there any spots of dirt or mud?
  • Are there any insects in the center of the flower?

If it’s a landscape, then think about:

  • Whether there’s any litter or human-made items
  • Whether your foreground subject is damaged

Your evaluation doesn’t need to be in-depth. You should just spend enough time to be certain your subject is in good shape.

5. Not including a point of focus in your compositions

This is another quick way to ruin a great nature photo.

Because basically, every composition must have a point of focus.

By this, I mean that you must include a subject. Something that viewers can latch onto. The subject can be whatever you like (as long as it’s there!).

If you’re shooting landscapes, then try to include a subject in both the foreground and the background. Ideally, the foreground subject will lead the eye to the background.

If you’re shooting wildlife, then your subject is pretty much guaranteed. Just make sure that you emphasize the wildlife in your photo!

And if you’re shooting macro photos, then make sure that an aspect of your subject is tack-sharp, so that your viewer’s eyes go straight to it.

6. Shooting low-contrast scenes

This mistake is a bit more advanced, but still important to keep in mind.

When you’re doing nature photography, you should strive to avoid ultra-low contrast scenes.

By ‘low-contrast scenes,’ I’m referring to those with very little variation in tone (that is, lights and darks) and color.

A low-contrast scene might be almost entirely white.

Or it might be entirely red, or blue, or black.

What’s the problem with low-contrast scenes?

The lack of contrast makes every element blend in. So no single element stands out, and the photo becomes boring.

Which is exactly what you want to avoid.

Instead, look for scenes where the subject pops off the background. And look for scenes where you have some nice shadows and nice highlights.

I should note: It is possible to use low-contrast scenes for an artistic effect. But you have to do it deliberately, and it’s extremely easy to mess it up.

So I recommend you stick to high-contrast scenes. That’s how you’ll avoid low-contrast issues!

7. Not post-processing your nature photos

There are three fundamental aspects of every nature photo. They are:

  1. Light
  2. Composition
  3. Post-Processing

If you can nail all three of these things, then you’re set. Your photos will be stunning. And we’ve already talked about light, and how you should shoot during the golden hours. We’ve already talked about composition, and how you must include a point of focus.

But we haven’t talked about post-processing. And here’s the thing:

Without post-processing, your nature photos just won’t stand out. Because editing is what adds that finishing touch, that last bit of shine, to your nature photography.

Now, you don’t have to do much editing. But there are a few things I recommend you do to every photo:

  1. Check the exposure. It’s especially common to let your photos remain underexposed. So make sure that the shadows in your photo still look nice and detailed.
  2. Check the contrast. In general, I recommend boosting the contrast of your nature photos. This gives an extra bit of punch and will help your images stand out.
  3. Check the saturation. While it’s easy to overdo this step, a little bit of saturation goes a long way. You want your colors to look deep, but natural.

If you can just follow these three steps, then your nature photography will look so much better.

Nature photography mistakes: conclusion

Now you should know all about these seven deadly nature photography mistakes.

And you’re prepared to avoid them!

The key is to just keep a lookout. Maybe even create a checklist.

Then, when you’re shooting in the field, you’ll make sure that none of these happens, and your photography will turn out better than ever.

Have any nature photography mistakes that I didn’t discuss? Share them in the comments!


nature photography mistakes

The post The 7 Nature Photography Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Nikon Releasing 900 Dollar Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera?

The post Nikon Releasing 900 Dollar Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

According to Nikkei, Nikon plans to release a mirrorless camera before the 2019 fiscal year is out.

And it’ll likely be a budget option, one that comes in at about half the price of the Nikon Z6.

Here’s the direct (translated) quote from Nikkei:

Nikon will introduce a new mid-price mirrorless camera product in fiscal 2019. The same interchangeable lens can be used in the product that corresponds to a sister model such as the high-end model “Z7” launched by the company in the autumn of [2018]. It is expected that the price will be in the 100,000 yen range, which is easier for the general consumer to pick up than the leading 200,000 to 400,000 yen model. The aim is to develop the demand of users other than existing enthusiasts.

Regarding price: 100,000 yen falls around 900 dollars, which would be a dramatic reduction in price compared to the Z7 and even the Z6, Nikon’s two current full-frame mirrorless models.

A 900 dollar full-frame mirrorless option would likely be welcomed by those DSLR shooters who just can’t afford the current Nikon mirrorless prices, but are looking for something lighter than their current DSLR setup.

But we also have to ask:

What Z-level features will Nikon leave behind in order to cut costs?

First of all, we can’t be sure the new mirrorless option is full frame. The original report doesn’t say this outright. But the claim that the new product “corresponds to a sister model such as the high-end model ‘Z7′” suggests the new camera won’t be fundamentally different. And an APS-C Z mirrorless body would be fundamentally different.

But even if the camera is full frame, other important features might be dropped.

For instance, might we see the loss of an EVF? Personally, I would see this as deeply frustrating. Mirrorless EVFs are one of the strengths of mirrorless systems. I wouldn’t like to see it go.

What do you think? What will this new mirrorless camera be like?

And would you be interested in purchasing it?

The post Nikon Releasing 900 Dollar Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year Disqualified Due to Image Manipulation

The post Wildlife Photographer of the Year Disqualified Due to Image Manipulation appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Africa Geographic announced its 2019 Photographer of the Year title, awarded for a dark, captivating close-up of an elephant.

Just days later, the image was disqualified and the Photographer of the Year title revoked.

winning image

In a statement that’s become more and more familiar in past years, Africa Geographic explained that “post-production work by the photographer resulted in certain tears in the ears of the elephant not being accurately reflected.” This violated one of the Photographer of the Year entry rules:

“Entries should be a faithful representation of the original scene. Localized adjustments should be used appropriately. The objective is to remain faithful to the original experience, and to never deceive the viewer or misrepresent the reality.”

Africa Geographic provided another, unedited version of the same elephant:

elephant unedited photo

Note the holes and rips on the elephant’s left ear.

The CEO of Africa Geographic went on to say: “We are gutted to have missed this detail about the rips in [the elephant’s] ears…That said, we will take this on the chin and improve our systems going forward.”

When asked about the image, the winning photographer claimed that the violation was unintentional (that it accidentally occurred when he was “cleaning up the image,”) and the contest judges have accepted this explanation.

This brings to mind a few questions:

First, how unintentional was this violation? Looking at the disqualified photo, I have trouble believing that the photographer removed the holes and rips in the elephant’s ears by accident. Did the photographer not realize that such post-processing violated the contest rules?

What are your thoughts? Did the winning photographer know that they broke the rules?

And the second big question:

Should this type of editing be allowed? 

This is a much more difficult question, one that comes down to our values as photographers. Personally, I lean toward prohibiting this type of editing. There’s something important about showing an animal as it truly is, including all the hardships it’s faced, which I think the rips and tears in the elephant’s ears exemplify.

But I’d love to have your input:

What are your values when it comes to editing nature photography? What should be allowed in nature photography contests?

The post Wildlife Photographer of the Year Disqualified Due to Image Manipulation appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

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

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

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

Don’t worry.

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

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

So, if you want to improve your nature photography…

…keep reading.

1. Shoot a single nature subject from 9 different angles

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

Choose just one nature photography subject.

And shoot it from at least nine different angles.

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

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

A few excellent angles to try:

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

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

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

2. Shoot a subject you normally avoid

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

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

So here’s what you do:

Think about the subjects that you normally shoot.

And then…

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

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

If you normally photograph landscapes, shoot wildlife.

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

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

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

3. Bring just one lens into the field

Here’s the thing:

When photographers go out for a photoshoot…

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

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

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

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

Instead, bring just one lens.

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

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

4. Shoot a Scene With Four Types of Light

Nature photography is all about the light.

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

This exercise is designed to help you do that.

You start by picking a scene.

Then you photograph that scene with four types of light:

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

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

But it’s worth it.

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

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

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

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

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

But another way…

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

Specifically, try to take a combination of shots:

Still shots.

And action shots.

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

But for flower and landscape photographers?

This will be tough.

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

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

6. Edit your favorite nature photo in 5 different ways

One thing that you need to know:

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

Even small adjustments go a long way.

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

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

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

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

You’ll be amazed by what you can do!

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

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

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

…is to photograph constantly.

Because practice really does make perfect.

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

Your skills will increase rapidly.

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

Nature photography exercises: next steps

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

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

That way, you’ll become better, faster.

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

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


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

Mirrorless Users Will Switch Back to DSLRs, Ricoh Executive Claims

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

pentax camera DSLR

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

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

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

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

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

When questioned by the interviewer, Sugahara further explained:

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

Sugahara concluded:

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

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

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


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

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

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

Share your thoughts in the comments!

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

5 Tips for Stunning Macro Photography

The post 5 Tips for Stunning Macro Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Do you want to capture gorgeous macro photography?

Macro photography might feel like a struggle. But it doesn’t have to be. By using a few simple tricks you can capture amazing macro photos consistently.

So if you’re interested in taking your macro images to the next level, follow these five tips.

1. Simplify your macro composition’s subjects and colors

All great macro photos have a carefully chosen composition. That is, the elements in the photos have been arranged in the most beautiful way possible.

So if you want to capture amazing macro photography, you need to carefully choose your compositions, too.

And the number one rule of composition?

Simplify, simplify, simplify.

Start by choosing a subject for your photo. Something that stands out – ideally the thing that initially drew you to the scene.

And once you’ve found your subject, hit your viewer over the head with it. Remove any distractions from the scene. If there are stray twigs in the background, remove them. If there’s something unpleasant in the foreground, change your angle.

The goal is to isolate your subject in every way possible. You want the viewer to know exactly what they’re supposed to look at.

But as well as removing all the physical distractions, you should also remove all the distracting colors.

A macro photo should have three colors or fewer – four if you’re really struggling. But no more than that.

Because too many colors cause chaos.

And in macro photography you absolutely need to avoid chaos.

You need to simplify.

2. Increase the subject-to-background distance for beautiful macro backgrounds

Now you understand the importance of simplifying. But it’s not just the subject of the photo you need to simplify. You also need to simplify the background.

The best macro photography backgrounds are clean, simple and uniform. They don’t take away from the subject. Instead, they complement the subject and help it stand out.

But how do you create such a simple, clean background?

One way is to increase the distance between the subject and the background, and use a very wide aperture (something in the f/2.8 to f/4 range).

Why? Because the farther the subject is from the background, the greater the aperture needed to keep everything in focus. And so at very wide apertures the whole background becomes  wonderfully blurry.

This background blur is called bokeh. And macro photographers love it because it helps the subject to stand out.

Just remember that when it comes to macro photography backgrounds, blurrier is almost always better.

So use a wide aperture, and increase the subject to background distance.

You’ll get far better shots that way.

3. Focus manually for the best macro photography detail

Do you ever struggle to nail the focus while doing macro photography?

It’s a common problem. Since you’re working at such high magnifications, the autofocus on your lens will undoubtedly struggle. And it’ll often miss your point of focus entirely.

Fortunately, there’s a simple workaround for this problem: manual focus.

Manual focus lets you change the point of focus using the ring on the lens. Twist the lens ring and the focus moves, allowing you to focus close, far away, then close again without using the lens’s autofocus.

This is extremely useful for macro photography. Even at high magnifications, you’ll be able to consistently nail the focus.

As long as you switch over to manual focus, of course.

A couple of tips:

  • Turn the manual focus ring gently. You don’t want to go at it aggressively. Instead, move smoothly.
  • If you’re struggling to lock focus on your subject, try using autofocus to get you in the general area. Then fine tune the focus with manual.

Manual focus may take a bit of practice to master. But it’ll be worth it in the end.

4. Shoot into the sun for amazing background bokeh

Now we’ve reached the fun part of this article: How to generate gorgeous background bokeh.

As I mentioned earlier, bokeh refers to a beautiful blurry background.

And here’s the thing: If you can create amazing bokeh in your macro photos you’re practically guaranteed a great shot, because it will make your shot stand out from the crowd.

But how do you capture stunning bokeh?

Here’s one simple trick you can use: shoot into the sun.

First, wait until the sun is low in the sky (early morning or late afternoon).

Next, find a subject and place that subject between you and the sun. Crouch down low so the sun is behind your subject.

Now, move around until you find an area where the sun is broken up by something – tree branches, leaves, etc. You want the sun to shine through these tree branches, hit your subject, and then hit you.

Why is this so important?

Well, broken sunlight ultimately creates the best bokeh. Those smaller pinpricks of sunlight produce amazing backgrounds.

Note: You don’t want the full sun in your frame. Otherwise the sky will be far too bright and your picture will lack serious detail. Instead, block the sunlight with your subject. If you like, let the sun peek out from behind. (In fact, this can result in some especially interesting effects.)

Bottom line?

If you can create amazing bokeh, your macro photography will be stunning. So create it whenever possible.

5. Find shade-sun combinations for gorgeous colors

Here’s a final macro photography tip for you (and one of my favorites).

If you want to create wonderful, pastel-like colors in your macro photos, use shade-sun combinations.

When the sun is low in the sky, go out looking for subjects. Shadows will be long, so you shouldn’t have any problem finding a nice subject in the shade.

Get ready to photograph that subject. But before you actually take the shot, carefully position yourself so the background of the shot is sun-drenched.

This works amazingly well, because the sunny background will be soft and golden. And golden light is amazing for bokeh.

You’ll capture photos like this:

And this:

With a bit of patience, you should be able to find many great backgrounds by using this trick.

So don’t forget to try it.

Stunning macro photography: next steps

Capturing amazing macro photos doesn’t have to be hard. You just have to know a few tricks.

For instance, you have to simplify your compositions.

You have to create beautiful backgrounds.

And you have to focus manually.

If you can do that, your macro photos will be amazing in no time at all.

We’d love you to go out and try these techniques, and share your macro photos with us in the comments below.

The post 5 Tips for Stunning Macro Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Adobe Price Hike Just a ‘Test’; Should Photographers Be Worried?

The post Adobe Price Hike Just a ‘Test’; Should Photographers Be Worried? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Adobe made waves earlier this month when it doubled the price of its Creative Cloud Photography plan–from $9.99/month to $19.99/month.

Soon after, the price reverted back to the original. And Adobe has assured its customers that it was just testing a new price.

But this begs the question:

Should photographers be concerned?

It’s not like we haven’t seen this before. Last year, Adobe announced price increases for a number of its CC products, though the Photography plan was spared. So the Photography plan – which includes Photoshop, Lightroom, and Lightroom Classic – remained an affordable deal for professional photographers.

But if Adobe is testing out a price increase, then it’s no doubt a real possibility for the future.

If that’s the case, would Lightroom and Photoshop be worth it?

The increased price did come with one benefit: Creative Cloud storage, which currently sits at 20GB, shot up to 1TB.
(It’s now back to 20GB.)

But how many photographers have been waiting for additional storage? For many photographers, the increased CC storage is worth little.

Maybe it’s time to start looking into other options.

In the past few years, a number of strong Photoshop and Lightroom contenders have been released–and at significantly lower price points.

For instance, Affinity Photo retails at a one-time payment of $49.99. It offers many of the same functions as Photoshop, including basic editing tools, layers, and some more sophisticated options, such as lens distortion corrections.

And ON1 Photo RAW is a neat alternative to Lightroom. For a single payment of $79.99, you get a combination of advanced photo editing and photo organization software. Plus, it comes with a set of excellent presets.

Photographers should also check out Luminar 3. This is a full-featured program, offering an excellent combination of basic editing options, local adjustments, and photo organization. All for a one-time price of $70.

A couple more options:

  1. ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate (for $8.90/month or a one-time fee of $84.95)
  2. Exposure X4 (for a one-time fee of $119)

Here’s the bottom line:

With Adobe considering a Lightroom/Photoshop price hike, other options (which you can purchase for a one-time fee) have suddenly become far more enticing.

For those of you who aren’t willing to fork out the additional US$10 per month, take a look at these other options.

Just in case.

The post Adobe Price Hike Just a ‘Test’; Should Photographers Be Worried? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

5 Secrets for Stunning Creative Bird Photography

The post 5 Secrets for Stunning Creative Bird Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Do you want to capture stunning bird photography…

…that goes beyond the usual, standard bird photos?

You can!

In this article, I’ll give you 5 bird photography secrets that will ensure you consistently create incredible bird images.

Images that are creative, unique, and original.

Sound good?

Let’s dive right in!

1. Get Low for Gorgeous Bird Photography Backgrounds

Here’s the bread-and-butter of creative bird photography:

Get down low.

Really low.

It may seem tough. You might prefer to stay up high, away from the dirt and water and mud.

But if you want incredible bird photos, you’ve got to get out of your comfort zone. You’ve got to get down low.

Specifically, you need to get on a level with the bird. Your lens should be about even with the bird’s eye.

Why is this so important?

When you shoot from down low, the distance between the bird and the background is greatly increased. And that causes the background to be far more blurred.

Therefore, you’ll capture some beautiful bokeh.

And beautiful bokeh?

Makes for a stunning bird photo.

This is how professionals capture such dreamy backdrops in their bird photography.

They get down as low as they can go. That’s all.

It really does make a huge difference!

Try it. I can guarantee that you won’t regret the resulting shots.

2. Shoot in water for stunning reflections

Do you want to capture especially gorgeous bird photography?

One of my favorite ways to do this…

…is to shoot reflections.

Let me explain:

A photo of a bird is nice. It’s standard. It can be beautiful.

But if you add a reflection, the image immediately becomes far more captivating. Viewers are instantly sucked into the scene.

The reflection adds a sense of subtle beauty and delicateness – one that you can’t get any other way.

Now, here’s how you capture gorgeous bird reflections:

First, shoot by still water.

Mudflats (with puddles) work well. Same with sheltered lakes.

If you’re struggling to find water still enough to generate full reflections, try shooting during the early morning. That’s when the wind tends to be a lot less noticeable.

Second, make sure the sun is low in the sky. (The lower, the better.) This will ensure that the reflection includes some nice colors.

You also have to be careful not to get too low over the water.


If you’re too low, the full reflection won’t come through. And a broken reflection has far less power than a full reflection.

Bottom line?

Find some birds near the water, and start taking photos!

3. Capture action for compelling bird photos

One of the biggest problems with beginning bird photography…

…is that it’s static.

The bird just stands in the frame.

And while there are methods of making this type of photo work, it’s often just a boring photo.

That’s why you should spice up your bird photos using action.

Once you’ve found a subject, watch it through your camera. Keep your finger on the shutter button.

Then, as soon as it starts to move, take a burst of photos. The more photos, the better!

Of course, you’re going to have a lot of failed shots. But you’ll also capture some keepers. And these will (with a little luck) blow you away!

Some of my favorite shots involve birds flapping their wings, preening, or feeding. If you wait for this behavior, you’ll get some stellar action shots.

One thing I’d recommend:

When you’re watching a bird through the camera viewfinder, keep some space between the bird and the edge of the frame.

Because birds can rapidly change their size – just by opening their wings. And clipped body parts are one of the easiest ways to ruin a bird photo.

Just remember these tips, and you’ll be capturing some great action photos in no time!

4. Shoot through vegetation for unique images

Another way to capture original images…

…is to find a subject.

Get down low.

And shoot through some vegetation.

This creates a gorgeous foreground wash – one that frames the subject without dominating the photo.

To pull this off, you generally have to lie flat on the ground. I advise experimenting with a few different angles – move around your subject, testing different possible foregrounds.

Note: It’s important that the vegetation is very close to your lens (and very far from your subject). Because the farther the vegetation is from your lens, the more in focus (and distracting) it becomes.

It’s also important to limit the amount of vegetation in the photo. You don’t want to cover up the bird entirely. Instead, you want to frame the bird with the vegetation.

Make sense?

Then start taking some shots with a foreground wash. You’ll love the shots you get.

5. Capture silhouettes for dramatic bird shots

Here’s one more way to capture creative bird photos:

Shoot silhouettes!

Silhouettes are really easy to pull off – and they look incredible.

Here’s how you do it:

Go out as the sun is just about to set. Find a subject (birds with a clear outline are best).

Then change your position so that the bird is between you and the setting sun. Ideally, the bird blocks the sun from your camera. This will prevent the sky from being completely blown out.

Make sure that the bird is in front of as much of the sky as possible.

That is, you want to frame the bird with sky – and you don’t want any dark patches behind the bird (from trees or other objects).

If you’re struggling with this, try getting down as low as you can. Because the lower you get, the more sky you’ll include in the frame.

Finally, ensure that you drastically underexpose your subject. One trick is to set the exposure based on the sky next to the bird.

That way, you’ll get a beautiful sky – with a nicely silhouetted subject.

Creative bird photography: next steps

Now you know how to capture stunning, original bird photos.

You know how to produce amazing backgrounds.

You know how to generate interest.

And you know how to capture incredible foregrounds.

The next step…

…is to get out and shoot!

Have any tips for creative bird photography? Share them in the comments!

The post 5 Secrets for Stunning Creative Bird Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

5 Surprising Macro Photography Ideas to Jumpstart Your Creativity

The post 5 Surprising Macro Photography Ideas to Jumpstart Your Creativity appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Are you struggling to come up with amazing macro photography ideas?

Do you need a bit of a creativity jumpstart?

That’s okay! Because in this article, I’ll give you 5 macro photography ideas – all geared toward getting you out of that creative rut.

Are you ready to start taking stunning macro photos again?

Then let’s get started.

1. Find lights in the background for amazing bokeh

One of the best ways to do creative macro photography…

…is to capture gorgeous bokeh.

(That is, a beautiful, smooth, creamy background.)

And here’s how you do that:

First, find a subject that you really like. A flower, an insect, or some plant life will all work well.

Choose a wide aperture (one in the f/2.8 to f/5.6 range).

Then zoom in, until you’ve isolated just your subject.

Here comes the important part:

Slowly move around your subject, while looking through your camera’s viewfinder. The key is to find a ‘bokeh-generating’ background.

Now, bokeh-generating backgrounds involve light. The best bokeh often comes from bright lights and colors in the background.

More specifically, look for pinpricks of light and colorful reflections.

For instance, sun coming through trees creates amazing bokeh – because the trees break up the light.

Leaves in golden-hour light also create gorgeous bokeh. The golden light on the leaves reflects and makes a creamy, colorful backdrop.

Most scenes have at least a few bokeh options – so don’t settle for a subpar choice.

Instead, use the bokeh to create a masterpiece!

2. Shoot into the sun for gorgeous backlit macro photography

Nature photographers often shoot using frontlight – where the light comes from over the photographer’s shoulder, and lands on the subject.

This often works well. But it can get boring after a while.

If you want to get creative…

…try using backlight.

Backlight comes from behind your subject. It’s great for creating silhouettes – and it’s also great for producing creative lighting effects.

The light can pass through part of your subject, making it turn translucent.

And backlight can also create bright flares of light. When done right, this creates some stunning effects.

However, you should position the sun carefully.

If you get the naked sun in your frame, the whole shot will be ruined because the sun is simply too bright to be rendered by your camera.

Instead, put your macro photography subject in front of the sun. That way, the sun is blocked from view. But you still get some gorgeous effects.

In fact, I recommend experimenting with this. Try changing your angle slightly, so that the sun is placed behind different parts of your subject.

You’ll manage to capture some stunning shots – shots which you probably wouldn’t have initially imagined!

3. Shoot against a white sky for a gorgeous high-key look

Here’s a favorite macro photography idea of mine.

I use it all the time when I’m in a pinch!

Fortunately, it’s really simple:

Shoot against a white sky.

Let me explain:

One of the most important parts of a macro photo…

…is the background.

Without a beautiful background, your macro photos will often fall flat.

Now, the best backgrounds are simple and uniform.

And one of the great ways to create a uniform background?

Rely on the sky!

This works especially well on cloudy days. All you have to do is find a subject – then get down low. In fact, you often have to get lower than your subject.

Make sure that the background is completely covered by clouds.

Then photograph your subject and watch as it stands out against a gorgeous white backdrop!

(If the shot is slightly too dark, don’t worry. You can always lift the whites in post-processing.)

4. Freelens for stunning selective focus

Here’s another great macro photography idea for when you’re in a rut:


I’m a huge fan of this technique – because it gets striking, unique images.

Here’s how it works:

Turn on your camera, and make sure that your lens is focused to infinity.

Then turn your camera off, and detach the lens.

(I suggest you use a backup camera and backup lens for this because there is a risk of damaging your equipment.)

Now, the best lenses for macro freelensing are in the 50mm range. I’ve found that 50mm creates a nice balance of background blur and sharp focus.

Once you’ve detached the lens, turn your camera back on.



Note: With freelensing, you don’t focus by turning a focus ring. Instead, you focus by changing the position of the lens relative to the camera.

So keep the lens detached, and move it around at different angles.

Look for macro subjects, and see what happens when you shoot them with a freelensing setup. Also, notice how pulling the lens away from the camera increases the magnification of the lens. It also allows in more light – creating artistic light leaks!

Freelensing is a bit addictive. Once you’ve started, you’ll struggle to stop – because there are so many opportunities for gorgeous macro photos!

5. Shoot through a second subject for an incredible foreground

If you want an idea for especially creative macro photography…

…why not try ‘shooting through,’ or ‘cramming’?

First, find a macro subject. Flowers work especially well for this because they’re so colorful.

Get in close, and focus your lens on that subject. Choose a wide aperture, in the f/2.8 to f/5.6 range.

Then find a second subject. Place it in front of your lens. The second subject should be colorful – and ideally, similar to the first subject.


The second subject (which remains out of focus) will create a beautiful foreground wash. One that looks great in macro photography.

Now, you don’t want to completely cover your lens with the foreground subject. Instead, place it partially into the scene. That way, it will create a nice wash, without dominating the shot.

This may take a bit of experimentation. But if you’re patient, you’ll capture some gorgeous macro photos.

And your creative muscle will feel energized again!

Creative macro photography ideas: next steps

Hopefully, you’re now feeling excited about macro photography again.

After all, you have lots of ideas for original, creative shots!

The key is to use them. So get out and shoot!

Have any more macro photography ideas? Share them in the comments!

The post 5 Surprising Macro Photography Ideas to Jumpstart Your Creativity appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

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