How To Make Amazing Photomontages. Part 3: Printing and Constructing Photomontages

The post How To Make Amazing Photomontages. Part 3: Printing and Constructing Photomontages appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

This is the third article in a series of three (part one, part two) with guidelines on how to make amazing photomontages in which you’ll learn about printing and constructing photomontages.

You may be quite content with your photomontage you see on your monitor. But there’s something special about getting all the images printed out and pasting them onto a board. Finishing a montage like this is even more fulfilling.

You can, of course, have your montage printed out as a regular photo, on a single piece of paper. However, I prefer getting individual prints made of each layer, positioning them and sticking them down.

Ducati How To Make Amazing Photomontages

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Part 3: Printing and Constructing Photomontages

1. Have your photos printed

Importing the photos using the method I outlined in Part two of this series will mean each of your layers has retained the original file name. Now it’s time to go back to the folders with the photos you resized and collect up all of them that made it into your final composition.

Copy them into a new folder and have them printed.

2. Buy a board

You’ll need a sturdy piece of board to mount your photos on. I prefer to use foam core board as it’s strong but lightweight. It also does not warp. If you use cardboard it can buckle easily once you get many layers of photos stuck down.

Whatever you choose to use, make sure that it will be big enough to compile all your photos on.

Beauty Mirror How To Make Amazing Photomontages

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

3. Prepare to adhere your photos

For many years I have used double-sided adhesive paper. It’s like a huge roll of double-sided tape. This method is the cleanest and easiest that I know of.

Pasting the photos up with glue is possible, but you need to be extremely careful you don’t get glue places you don’t want it.

Before I begin sticking the prints down, I use a black marker pen to blacken the edges of each print. White edges don’t look great when the photos are stuck down.

Stick it How To Make Amazing Photomontages

Photo by: Pansa Landwer-Johan

4. Lay out your prints

Open your montage file on your computer and turn off all the layers except the bottom one. Find the print of this image and position it on your board. Turn on the next layer and repeat the process of laying out your photos.

Prints will get knocked and move around during this process. Don’t be concerned, because as the montage takes shape the positions of prints will change. You may begin to see different relationships between the prints you may not have noticed on your computer monitor.

You can use masking tape to help keep the prints in position. Take care when you remove the tape that it does not damage your print.

I will often use post-it notes stuck alongside the photos. This helps me reposition them when they do get bumped.

Remain relaxed and fluid during this part of the process. Don’t stress if you cannot manage to line all the photos up as precisely as you lined up the layers in Photoshop.

Take a few steps back, or get up above the table you are working on. This will help you see the overall look of your composition. Do this a few times during your layout stage.

Layout How To Make Amazing Photomontages

Photo by: Pansa Landwer-Johan

5. Stick it all down

You can spend forever tweaking the positioning of the prints, but eventually, you will want to stick them all down.

Start with a corner there’s a print with no others overlapping it. Position it carefully in relation to the edge of the board and stick it down.

Begin to work your way from this point, sticking down only prints that do not overlap above any other print. Whenever a print has another layer underneath, the bottom one must be stuck down first.

If you make a mistake, just consider alternatives to remedy the situation. You might have to get another print or two made so you can cover up the problem area. Other times you will be able to rearrange the way you stick the prints down and still make it look good.

Work slowly and carefully, trying as much as possible not to let the prints move around. Any fast movement or clumsiness at this stage can mean you have to start over and lay it all out again.

Fixed How To Make Amazing Photomontages

Photo by: Pansa Landwer-Johan

Conclusion

Once your photomontage is all adhered, you will notice a big difference. It’s much more dimensional than it appears on your computer monitor or as it would be printed on a single sheet of paper.

Taking your time and working carefully, yet remaining flexible, as you stick your prints down, will make it a more enjoyable process.

The overlapping layers and any unconformities that happen during paste-up give a montage some depth and texture. These used to bother me until I realized they actually add to the look and feel of these artworks.

Here’s another short video of me working on a montage for my ‘Fractured Dimensions’ exhibition in 2014.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this short series on photomontages and I encourage you to experiment with the process yourself. Let us know how you get on in the comments below, and don’t forget to share your montages with us too.

Other articles in this series:

How to Make Amazing Photomontages. Part 1: Taking Your Photos

How To Make Amazing Photomontages. Part 2: Compiling Photomontage Photos

 

The post How To Make Amazing Photomontages. Part 3: Printing and Constructing Photomontages appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

How To Make Amazing Photomontages. Part 2: Compiling Photomontage Photos

The post How To Make Amazing Photomontages. Part 2: Compiling Photomontage Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

In Part One of this three-part series on How to Make Amazing Photomontages, you learned how to approach and take your photos for your montage. Here in Part Two, you’ll learn about compiling photomontage photos. To compile your Photomontage images using the following steps, you require Photoshop or other imaging software that has the ability to create layers.

Lanna Chic 1 How To Make Amazing Photomontages

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Part 2: Compiling your photos

1. Get organized

Managing your photos well can save you getting in a mess further along in this process.

Import all your images into one folder. Go through and pick out your strongest images – ones that stand out to you.

Naturally, you’ll have lots of photos that won’t be worth looking at on their own, but among them should be some key images. Put these into a separate folder and label it ‘Group 1’ or something useful to you.

Next, you need to choose the bulk of the photos you want to use. Think about the images you want to go around the edges. Which ones are for the main body of your photomontage? These are likely the first photos you took. Place these into another folder and label it ‘Group 2’ or something useful to you.

Drop the remaining images into a third folder and label it.

Ceramic Artist How To Make Amazing Photomontages

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

2. Save as and resize all your images

Save all your photos as jpeg files with a resolution of 300ppi. At this resolution, they are a little large but will be the same size when you get them printed later.

What dimensions do you want your finished photomontage to be? Think about how many photos you made along the horizontal axis. Calculate how wide each one should be, so they fit within the finished size you want your montage.

If you want a montage one meter wide (3.3 feet) and have taken seven photos across the horizontal, make each photo 14 centimeters wide (5.5 inches.) This gives you a starting point. As you start laying the photos out, this can change entirely so you may have to resize the images again later.

Run a batch command to resize them all. Save them to new folders because it is helpful if you need to resize the originals again later.

Chedi Luang How To Make Amazing Photomontages

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

3. Prepare a clear canvas

In Photoshop or your preferred software, make a new canvas. Make the ppi resolution 300 to match your image files. Make the size a little larger than you want your finished Photomontage to be.

4. Import your photos

Photoshop allows you to import a series of images to a single working file, so they retain their original file names. To do this, go to the top menu and choose File->Scripts->Load Files To Stack. These open into a new canvas. Select them all and drag and drop them onto your montage canvas.

Do this with the three folders of resized images you’ve made. Arrange them in the layers panel so they are in three groups to make your workflow easier.

Lanna Chic 2 How To Make Amazing Photomontages

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

5. Lay out your photos

Right now you probably have all the layers stacked so you can only see the top photo. Turn off the visibility of the Group 1 and Group 3 folders.

Select all the layers in the Group 2 folder and drag all the photos to one corner of your canvas.

Now select only the top layer and drag and drop it roughly in the position you want it. Do the same with each layer. Don’t worry at all about positioning anything precisely at this stage. Everything from here is likely to be shuffled around a number of times.

Once you’ve added all the photos in Group 2 and have them laid out, repeat this process with images in Group 1. Then from Group 3, but only if you really need them.

Drag photos up and down in the layers panel hierarchy to place them above or below other photos on the canvas.

As you add more photos, you should start noticing the relationship between the images. Keep nudging and tweaking all the layers until you are satisfied they’re all in the best position.

When I am working with large numbers of layers, I color code them to help me keep track of them. You might like to make the layers with the images on the left, middle and right of your montage all separate colors.

Colored Layers How To Make Amazing Photomontages

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

6. Turn unused layers off

You may now have many layers visible with lots of overlapping. Begin to turn layers off for images you may not want to include in your finished montage. Don’t delete them at this stage, just turn their visibility off.

Now you’ll see fewer photos on your canvas, and it’ll be easier to arrange the images you have visible.

At this stage, you may be seeing some gaps in your montage. This is where the images in Group 3 may be useful if you haven’t added them already. You can always duplicate similar layers and drag the copied layer to fill the space. If this does not work, you may need to go back and take some more photos.

Once you are happy with the way your montage looks, go ahead and delete all the layers you have turned off.

Harleys How To Make Amazing Photomontages

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

7. Go back and take more photos (optional)

Having big gaps in your photomontage may look okay. Alternatively, you may have completely covered the whole area and edges, and have ample images. If not, you’ll need to have another session and make some more images.

Use the same camera and lens, at the same focal length. Make your new photos at about the same time of day and ensure you have similar lighting. If the light’s not right, you’ll have a hard time making the new set of photos match.

A few additional layout tips

There’s no right or wrong way of laying out your Photomontages, but you’ll be more pleased with some layouts than others.

If you get stuck and can’t get the photos arranged so they look good, start again. Duplicate the whole file. Keep the original one and re-work the new file. Move the images around differently and change their positions in the layers hierarchy. Experiment until you are content.

Aim to build cohesion in your composition. Too much fragmentation can make your montage difficult for people to view. Follow strong lines in your montage to help keep the flow. In my montage of the taxi trucks in Chiang Mai, following the lines of the vehicles was vital.

Songtao How To Make Amazing Photomontages

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Don’t worry about ragged edges. I don’t often make montages that fit a regular shape. However the edges of your montage are formed, make sure they enhance the overall image.

Tweaking individual photos may sometimes improve the overall look of your montage. When you have the images laid out, take a step back and consider your composition. Are there individual images which are too dark or too bright? Do some contain colors that don’t fit well? How would the whole montage look in black and white?

Be prepared to go with the flow of new ideas you’ll have during the process. As I said, there’s no right or wrong way to make these. It’s up to your creative process. Starting with some idea of how you want it to look is important. However, you don’t need to stick to it strictly when you feel fresh ideas emerging.

Conclusion

Take your time. The process of compiling a montage until you are satisfied can take a long time.

Tuktuk How To Make Amazing Photomontages

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Often I have been on the verge of giving up because I just can’t get a montage looking right. I had started my Tuk Tuk montage then it sat on my hard drive for months without being touched. Finally, I got back to it with some fresh inspiration, and it came together well.

Experiment with the placement of your photos on the canvas. Look at how each one relates to the images around it. Zoom out and sit back often to keep an eye on how the overall montage is taking shape.

Let’s see what you are working on and your thought process in the comments below.

In the next article in this series, I outline how to compile a print version of your Photomontage.

 

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The post How To Make Amazing Photomontages. Part 2: Compiling Photomontage Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

How to Make Amazing Photomontages. Part 1: Taking Your Photos

The post How to Make Amazing Photomontages. Part 1: Taking Your Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

This is the first article in a series of three on how to make amazing Photomontages.

Most photographs are created in a fraction of a second from one point of view. Imagine an image made from multiple positions and spread out over time. This is the nature of the cubist style Photomontages I make.

Painting How To Make Amazing Photomontages

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

David Hockney, the famous English painter, made many of these in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He called them “photo joiners.” This is where I gained my initial inspiration to experiment with time and space photographically.

What’s involved in making a Photomontage?

Joining together a series of photographs is not a new idea. My great grandfather, Frederick Cooper, was doing it back in 1889. He made this panorama of the Tasman Glacier and Mt. Cook range with five 8X10 inch images. He made them on the first expedition to photograph the mountain.

What’s different about Photomontages is they are not supposed to represent a single perspective in a single instant. By changing your camera position and spreading out the process of making the photos, a cubist style becomes possible.

Here’s a series of steps I take to produce my Photomontages. This has developed over time since I was first introduced to the concept in 1984. There are no rules. If you want to try something new, follow these steps as guidelines to create your own cubist-styled photography.

1. Choose your subject carefully

Have a raw concept in mind. What is your photomontage going to be about? It’s more than just the subject you choose.

When you are starting out, it is easier to use static subjects. Any movement in the scene adds complexity and difficulty.

Can you re-visit and photograph you subject again if you need to? Getting all the photos you need does not always happen in one session. It is convenient if you can return to your subject and fill in any gaps.

Try to find a subject you can move around and photograph from different angles. Nothing too small. Small subjects can be very challenging.

For my Photomontage of the old Iron Bridge in Chiang Mai, I photographed it from the left side, in the middle, and then from the right side.

Iron Bridge Chiang Mai How To Make Amazing Photomontages

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

2. Decide how big you want your Photomontage to be

My example above is made up of only seven individual photos. You can make a montage with just a few photos or with hundreds or thousands. There is no limit.

Looking at your scene, choose a focal length to use. I generally keep to one. Zooming or changing lenses can bring about confusing results.

Avoid using a wide-angle lens. Distortion at the edges of the photos can make it harder to compile them well.

Base your lens choice on the dimensions you want your finished montage to be. This can be tricky when you are first starting out, but it’s helpful to consider at this stage of the process.

Having a baseline of six or seven photos with a height of five photos, you end up with around 40-50 photos in your final montage. Choose a focal length that gives you the number of photos across the horizontal axis that you want.

Having too many or too few photos to work with can be quite complicated. The Iron Bridge montage took me ages to compile to make it look right because I was working with so few images.

Mask How To Make Amazing Photomontages

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

3. Create a base series of photographs

Take more than you think you need. This is most important. Don’t go crazy taking loads of images that are all very similar. Change each composition slightly.

I am always working in manual mode, so my exposure remains constant unless I choose to adjust it.

You can use this first set of photos as the base of your Photomontage. It’s good to have a foundation of images to reference once you start compiling your montage. For these first photos, try to build a selection of images that, when put together, make a fairly normal looking representation of your subject.

Aim to have some overlap in every photo. About 30% is the minimal amount. Being methodical as you make the photos can help to ensure you capture everything you need.

Follow a grid pattern. Start at the bottom left corner and make a series of overlapping images as you move your camera across to where you want the bottom right corner to be. Count the number of photos you are taking.

Point your camera a little higher, including some of the last photos you made. Now work your way back across to the left, taking roughly the same number of photos. Follow this pattern as you continue to cover the whole area you want to include in your Photomontage.

Look for strong lines running through your montage. These help make a more cohesive image when you are putting it all together.

Songtao How To Make Amazing Photomontages

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

4. Begin adding alternative perspectives

Now that you have a fairly standard collection of photos change your perspective. Move to your left or right. Crouch down or get up higher. You may be surprised at how much a slight change in your perspective alters the look of your montage once you start to compile it.

Move a few times, each time photographing the whole scene again or just the most significant parts of it.

When working with movement in your subject, it may be best to stay in one position to make all your photos. You can rely on the changes in your subject for a cubist effect.

Photographing the tricycle taxi rider, I did not move much. As he moved, I photographed him in different positions. I compiled the photos to convey this movement and contrast it with the image of him sitting.

Keep looking for the strong lines as you or your subject moves.

Tricycle Taxi How To Make Amazing Photomontages

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

5. Take more photos

Once you think you have taken enough photos, take some more. There’s nothing more frustrating when you’re compiling your montage than finding gaps you have no photos to fill.

Don’t be in a rush. Take a careful look over the area of your composition and take more photos around the edges and the most important parts of your main subject. These are the two areas you can have the most significant problems with.

When you’re working with subjects you have some control over, think about adding them into your composition more than once. I have done this with some of the people in my tuk-tuk montage.

Tuktuk How To Make Amazing Photomontages

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Conclusion

Taking the photos for a montage is typically the shortest part of the process. Imagining how your compiled montage looks help guide you when taking the photos.

Be careful not to make your first Photomontage too big or too small. If you do discover you have photographed a space too wide or too high, you can alter it when you start positioning the photos in the next step.

Here’s a short video where I share a little more of my montage making experience and an introduction to the videos I make of these Photomontages.

I’d love to read your comments and feedback below. Please share your photomontages and your thoughts on making them.

The next article in this series I will explain the steps taken to compile your photos so they won’t end up looking like a dog’s breakfast.

 

The post How to Make Amazing Photomontages. Part 1: Taking Your Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

7 Different Situations Where You Can Use Fill Flash Effectively

The post 7 Different Situations Where You Can Use Fill Flash Effectively appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

Many photographers experience anxiety when they think about using flash. It’s a big unknown, difficult to control and to predict what the results might look like.

Knowing when you need to use flash to improve a photograph is just another choice you need to make. A little like deciding what lens to use to take a particular photo. Obtaining the right amount of light from your flash to compliment your picture is key to effective fill flash photography.

Attractive Young Photographer 7 Different Situations Where You Can Use Fill Flash Effectively

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

In this article, I share some thoughts on when and why you might choose to add fill flash. I’ll also walk through seven situations where using fill flash helps enhance a picture.

Using fill flash – what, when and why

Fill flash is typically used to balance with the ambient light to provide the main subject with a more pleasing exposure. So you are filling in some additional light to obtain a better or more interesting exposure. Balance is key. When light from a flash overpowers the ambient light, this is not fill flash.

You can make use of fill flash not only at night or in dark locations, but also when there is plenty of light. Fill flash can be used to effectively decrease or eliminate unwanted shadows when the ambient light is very bright.

1. Fill flash and bright sun

mannequin hitch hiker 7 Different Situations Where You Can Use Fill Flash Effectively

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

The bright sun casts a hard-edged, dark shadow. When there’s no other light source or reflected light, contrast can cause problems.

Photographing people in bright sunshine they will often have dark shadows under their eyes, nose, and chin. Adding some fill can help to fill in these shadows.

Adding just the right amount of light from your flash is important so it’s balanced with the sunlight. In this photo of a mannequin I saw on the roadside one morning, I have added fill flash. I directed my flash at the smiling figure. I set the output so she was well lit, but her shadow, from the sunlight, is still clear.

2. Electric light source and fill flash

Circuit Board 7 Different Situations Where You Can Use Fill Flash Effectively

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

When you have any light source which causes your main subject to be poorly lit, adding fill flash can help.

The large magnifying glass in this photo has a light behind it to illuminate the electronic board. Had I not added any fill flash, the electronic board would be well exposed, but the white surround of the magnifying glass would be underexposed.

Fill flash can even out the light when it’s important to have everything in your photo well exposed.

3. Using ambient light as backlight

Thirsty Traveler 7 Different Situations Where You Can Use Fill Flash Effectively

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Photographing your subject with the main light source behind it is known as backlighting. This situation again can create problems when you want evenly exposed photos.

Adding fill flash to a subject which is backlit, you can bring a balance of light and obtain an even exposure.

In this photo of the young woman drinking, I wanted to include the train in the background. The light behind her was quite strong so I balanced it by adding in a burst of flash from my right.

By controlling the flash power to output slightly less light from the ambient light, I was able to leave a soft shadow on her face. Had I not included the flash, the shadow would be too dark and not help convey that it was a hot day so well.

4. Fill flash with a bright background

Young Woman in the Park 7 Different Situations Where You Can Use Fill Flash Effectively

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Bright backgrounds, even on cloudy days, can sometimes cause you to underexpose your subject if you’re not careful. Adding some flash helps.

The bright background behind my model in this photo was not super bright, as it was an overcast day. I wanted her to be a little brighter than the background, so I placed the flash to my left. I also had a small softbox for the flash so it was diffused to match the feeling of the ambient light.

5. Light your subject at sunset or sunrise

Evening Jetty 7 Different Situations Where You Can Use Fill Flash Effectively

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

At either end of a day, when the sun is low in the sky or just below the horizon, fill flash can be helpful. Sunrise and sunset can produce beautifully colored skies, but they are often going to be brighter than your subject.

If you set your exposure for the sky, your subject will be underexposed. If you set your exposure for your subject, your sky overexposes and you lose the effect of the color in your photo.

Adding a little flash to your subject, so it’s balanced with the light in the sky, will light your subject and allow the color in the sky to be captured also.

6. Fill flash and fire

Bronze Crucible 7 Different Situations Where You Can Use Fill Flash Effectively

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

This example is a little different but has the same principle. In this case, part of the main subject is the light source.

I photographed this inside. The workshop was fairly dark so the flames were throwing shadows over the dark metal.

Had I not included any flash in this scene, the crucible, tongs, and surrounds would have been too dark. I wanted more detail to be visible in these areas.

7. Slow shutter and fill flash

Buddhist Chedi Luang 7 Different Situations Where You Can Use Fill Flash Effectively

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Any time you have movement in a scene you can use a slow shutter speed to create motion blur in your photos. Using some fill flash can add a whole other dynamic, particularly if you set camera and flash to synchronize well.

Many cameras allow you to set the synchronization to fire the flash just before the second, or rear curtain of the shutter closes. This causes a partial ‘freezing’ of the motion in a more attractive manner.

Again, balancing your flash output is important to achieve the best effect. For this technique, I generally set my flash output to be slightly brighter than the ambient light. If the output is the same or less you will not see the effect much or at all.

How to use your flash well

Woman and Elephants 7 Different Situations Where You Can Use Fill Flash Effectively

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

You do not need to have your flash mounted on your camera’s hot shoe pointing directly at your subject.

Diffusing your flash, or bouncing it off a reflector or other surface, will soften the light. Placing your flash off to one side, above or below, will often produce more interesting, pleasing results.

Controlling the output of your flash is always vital. Too much or too little light from your flash causes an imbalance. You need to decide how much light your photo requires and make the correct adjustments to your flash.

Through the lens (TTL) metering is often the easiest setting. You can also use the Auto mode. Sometimes, with either of these settings, you may need to dial in compensation so the light will be a little stronger or weaker.

Using the Manual setting on your flash requires a little more thought and experimentation. It can often produce a more reliable output from the flash when you are taking a series of photos. This is particularly useful when there are variables in light or camera/subject/background distances.

Conclusion

Akha Coffee Harvest 7 Different Situations Where You Can Use Fill Flash Effectively

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Adding fill flash can make a positive difference to your photos in many situations. When you are not content with the ambient light alone, consider adding a little light from your flash. Even if the only flash you have is the pop up one on your camera.

You may not get the right result the first few times you try this method. Practice. Study your results. Compare photos where you did not use the flash with ones where you did. In time, you will develop a sense for when adding some fill flash will enhance your photographs.

Share some photos in the comments section below and tell us of your experience with using fill flash, whether you were successful or not.

The post 7 Different Situations Where You Can Use Fill Flash Effectively appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

The Importance of Connecting With Your Photography Subject

The post The Importance of Connecting With Your Photography Subject appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

Photography is more about connecting with your subject than the connection you have with your camera. If you love photography, hopefully, you will love your camera. Connecting with it will not be a problem for you.

Paying more attention to your camera than to your subject is a mistake I see so many photographers make.

Pretty Smile The Importance of Connecting With Your Subject

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Technical settings are important. But making well-focused and exposed photos is just the first step.

Making photos which communicate more than what something looks like takes practice. Express your experience. Your relationship with and connection to your subject.

Your connection with the world is unique

Nobody else sees the world in exactly the same way you see it. This is what can make your photography special.

Communicating not only what you see, but how you feel about your subject produces more interesting photographs. Anybody can pick up a camera and take technically correct photos. Do they always have appeal? No. Do they always communicate meaning in a manner that’s attractive? No.

Telling the story of how you see the world must be an intentional pursuit. Be mindful of your message before you pick your camera up. Without doing this you will only be taking photos that anyone else with a camera can make.

Bubble Fun The Importance of Connecting With Your Subject

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

What are you connecting with?

Are you connecting with a person, a landscape, your dog, or a concept? Whatever you choose as your subject, the more fascinated with it you are, the more this will be expressed in the photographs you make of it.

Photograph what you love, what you enjoy. Show your experience of your subject in your photos. To successfully communicate this you must connect outside yourself for others to really be able to appreciate your photos.

“If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough”

This is a famous quote from Robert Capa. He’s best known as a war photographer, but I think this advice has a far greater reach than with just conflict photography. I think it also has a deeper meaning than just physical closeness.

Getting closer to your subject in relational ways will make your pictures better.

Monk in a Saamlor The Importance of Connecting With Your Subject

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Study your subject. Get to know it, or them. The better understanding you have of something the more dynamic your photographs of it will be.

Getting close takes time and commitment. Sometimes you’ll have years to build a relationship with your subject. Other subjects you may just have a few moments to make a connection. Getting close must be intentional.

We often visit the same locations in the photography workshops we teach. Over the years we have come to know the feel and flow of life in these locations. We have built a relationship with a lot of the people. Sometimes this can lead to tardiness in the way you approach photography.

Keeping a freshness of mind, thinking relationally, not just visually, keeps you motivated. Doing this, you’ll be able to continue making creative photos in places you visit often. By proxy, the people who join our workshops also reap some benefits from the relationships we have worked hard to build.

How do you get close enough?

Attach a wider angle lens to your camera. Standing back with a long lens will mean you are physically and relationally more removed from what you are photographing.

Fresh Market Butcher The Importance of Connecting With Your Subject

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Be bold and step closer. Being in close proximity to your subject will make connecting more intimate. This requires you to present yourself well to your subject, especially when you are photographing people.

Be open and friendly. Approach a stranger with a smile and a warm greeting in their own language. Most people will reflect your warmth back to you. Making eye contact with people in most cultures will deepen your relationship instantly. Don’t be overbearing or too demonstrative, as this may put people off.

Take a little time to observe a situation and consider how you can best make a connection. This takes practice.

In big cities, this can be more challenging as people are typically more personally guarded. In smaller towns and rural locations, people can be more comfortable with being photographed.

Give something back

When you’re photographing people, show them the photos you’ve made. I love this about digital photography, that it’s so easy to share.

Be ready to take some more photos to capture their response. This is one reason I love making portraits with a 35mm lens. I can show my subject the pictures and be close enough to turn the camera back around and quickly take a few more of their reaction. With telephoto lenses, this is not possible because you have to be further away.

Portrait Print The Importance of Connecting With Your Subject

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Ask for their email address or Facebook profile. Tell them you’ll send them a few pictures. If you photograph close to where you live, get prints made and take them back. People love this as it’s so rare these days to see a printed photograph of yourself.

Connecting with places and things

Photographing your favorite beach or city street can become more personal with mindfulness. Concentrate on why you like being there. Think about how you feel when you go to these places. Try to convey this in your pictures.

If you love photographing your car or pet, bring your experience into your expression. You’ve probably photographed these things many times already, so fresh concepts can be hard to come up with. Instead of looking for a new visual angle, seek one that reveals more about how you feel.

Thailand Mountain Sunset The Importance of Connecting With Your Subject

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Time of day, quality of light, colors and other factors will influence feeling in your photos. Consider how the visual elements you include in your compositions reflect the way you feel about your subjects.

Conclusion

Practice your camera technique. Know your settings well. Give your brain more room to concentrate on what you want to convey about your subject.

Think what your photographs are about, not just what they are of.

Contemplation The Importance of Connecting With Your Subject

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Some of these ideas may be challenging or seem rather abstract. Build a habit of connecting with your subjects. Over time you will see your photographic style develop. You will become more creative and your photographs become more appealing.

The post The Importance of Connecting With Your Photography Subject appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

Go With The Flow – Using Slow Shutter Speed to Create Motion Blur

The post Go With The Flow – Using Slow Shutter Speed to Create Motion Blur appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

Starting out as a photography assistant in a daily newspaper, I had one thing drummed into me. Make sure it’s sharp. This was the cardinal rule. It was appropriate for the situation.

Any kind of unintentional fuzziness, especially when it renders the subject indistinct, looks awful when printed on newsprint.

Adding motion blur, or any other form of blur, in a photograph can work extremely well when circumstances are right.

Merlion Park, Singapore Using a Slow Shutter Speed to a Create Sense of Motion

© Kevin Landwer-Johan. Shutter speed: 8 seconds

Two main techniques for creating motion blur in a photo are subject movement and camera movement.

Times when adding motion blur is the right choice

Deciding to add motion blur is best when:

  • Some parts of the composition remain sharp
  • The light is favorable
  • You find the shutter speed sweet spot
  • You have a means of stabilizing your camera
Poi Sang Long Festival Using a Slow Shutter Speed to a Create Sense of Motion

© Kevin Landwer-Johan. Shutter speed: 1/20th of a second.

Adding some flash can at times truly enhance a photo made with a slow shutter speed. I find this works best when you sync your flash with the rear shutter closing.

Keeping some of it sharp

Using a slow shutter speed to create motion blur, I find it’s best to ensure that some parts of your composition remain sharp. Whether you are moving your camera or your subject is in motion, your results will be stronger when not all the composition is blurred.

Using a slow shutter speed and moving your camera in relation to a moving subject, is known as panning. This will keep your subject sharp and the background will blur. Getting a perfectly sharp subject while panning is challenging because it requires the camera to be moving in sync with how fast the subject is.

Tuktuk Panning Using a Slow Shutter Speed to a Create Sense of Motion

© Kevin Landwer-Johan. Shutter speed: 1/25th of a second.

Having your camera locked down while your subject or the background move you will have a better chance to render your subject sharp.

Getting the exposure when the light is right

Bright sunny days make it challenging to capture motion blur in a photograph. You need to use a slow shutter speed for the effect to happen. Setting your aperture to the smallest opening and your ISO as low is it can go will not always allow you to use a slow enough shutter speed.

Using a neutral density filter in bright sunshine will make a slower shutter speed possible. At times I have coupled a neutral density filter with a polarizing filter to cut the light entering the lens even more.

Market Scene Using a Slow Shutter Speed to a Create Sense of Motion

© Kevin Landwer-Johan. Shutter speed: 1/4th of a second.

In this photo I had my friend stand very still to achieve motion blur in the people walking behind her. Being such a bright sunny day meant that even with my aperture set to the minimum opening of f/11. My ISO was set at one hundred and still did not allow me to use a slow enough shutter speed. I attached a four-stop neutral density filter and a polarizing filter so I could set my shutter speed to 1/4th of a second to capture the motion blur.

At night and in other low light situations achieving a slow enough shutter speed is simple.

Finding the sweet spot for optimal blur

Choosing a shutter speed setting appropriate to the pace of movement in your composition is important. Having too much or not enough motion blur will give you a poor result. This varies greatly depending on your subject and the style of photograph you are creating.

Photographing waterfalls, people walking or traffic at night, all require different shutter speeds for best results. Generally, slower moving elements in your composition need slower shutter speeds. Things moving more quickly need faster shutter speed or there will be too much motion blur. It also depends on how much definition you want to retain in whatever is moving.

Twently Second Waterfall Using a Slow Shutter Speed to a Create Sense of Motion

© Kevin Landwer-Johan. Shutter speed: 20 seconds.

Flowing water, like in this waterfall, can be completely blurred. In fact, waterfall photos usually look best when a shutter speed of more than two seconds is used. I used a twenty-second exposure for this photo and there’s absolutely no definition in the water. It is still obvious what it is though.

On The Sidewalk Using a Slow Shutter Speed to a Create Sense of Motion

© Kevin Landwer-Johan. Shutter speed: 1/10th of a second.

Keeping the motion blur balanced is more important with some subjects. For this photo of people on a sidewalk in Bangkok, I chose a shutter speed of 1/10th of a second. A slower shutter speed would mean more blur and less definition. A fast speed would show less blur and may just look like it was a mistake. I was happy to capture an image where the people walking are blurred yet their feet are reasonably sharp. The young woman modeling for me was very patient as it took quite a while to make a composition with the right number of pedestrians in my frame.

Experimentation is key to finding the sweet spot with your shutter speed. You need to decide how clear or how blurred you want your subject and other elements in your composition.

Camera stability is important

You can use a slow shutter speed even if you do not have a tripod. Learn to hold your camera well and be in control of it. I do not often carry a tripod so am forced to use alternative means of preventing unwanted camera movement. Unintentional camera movement creates ghosting which introduces extra fuzziness to photos.

Flames Using a Slow Shutter Speed to a Create Sense of Motion

© Kevin Landwer-Johan. Shutter speed: 1/20th of a second.

Hand holding a camera while panning can be preferable for some more than using a tripod. Keeping a steady movement along with your subject is what’s most important. If you are panning with a passing vehicle you do not want to be jiggling your camera up and down as you track your subject.

Finding a firm surface to place your camera can be a good substitute when you don’t have a tripod. You may need to place something under the lens so your angle of view is level. I find my mobile phone or wallet often come in handy for this.

Using a tripod does make things more straightforward when using a slow shutter speed. With a tripod, you have more stability and often more control of your angle of view.

Coffee Roasting Using a Slow Shutter Speed to a Create Sense of Motion

© Kevin Landwer-Johan. Shutter speed: 1/4th of a second.

Introducing rear curtain synchronized flash

Many cameras give you an option to synchronize the flash so it fires just before the shutter closes. Doing this combined with a slow shutter speed and movement produces interesting effects.

As the flash is triggered near the end of the exposure it looks like the movement is partially frozen. Using a very slow shutter speed when there’s fast movement your subject may appear semi-transparent.

Tricycle Taxi Using a Slow Shutter Speed to a Create Sense of Motion

© Kevin Landwer-Johan. Shutter speed: 4 seconds.

I used a four-second exposure for this photo of a tricycle taxi in Chiang Mai. You can see the ghosted image of two people just above the handlebars of the cycle. They were riding past on a motorbike just at the end of the exposure as my flash fired.

Conclusion

Photographing movement using long exposures it pays to give yourself plenty of time to experiment and take lots of photos. Varying your shutter speed. Choose a faster or slower speed with the same subject. This can create vastly different looking photos.

Iron Bridge Using a Slow Shutter Speed to a Create Sense of Motion

© Kevin Landwer-Johan. Shutter speed: 1.6 seconds.

If you’ve never often used a slow shutter speed, begin to explore the possibilities. If you’ve had some experience, try some new angle or subject. Please share your photos and comments below.

The post Go With The Flow – Using Slow Shutter Speed to Create Motion Blur appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

Finding Your Strength in Isolation – 3 Methods to Make Your Subject Pop!

The post Finding Your Strength in Isolation – 3 Methods to Make Your Subject Pop! appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

Including extraneous details in your photographs dilutes attention. Or they distract the viewer’s attention away from your main subject.

Fill the frame! This was the only composition rule I had drummed into me when I started work in the newspaper photography department. Do not include anything that does not help tell the story better. If it’s irrelevant, remove it.

In this article, I share three of my favorite methods for isolating subjects.

Masu Finding Your Strength In Isolation - 3 Methods To Make Your Subject Pop!

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

The balance of light

Finding a dark background is always pleasing. When your subject has more light on them than the background, you can often expose carefully so the background is very dark or even black. This was a great technique for newspaper photos when we were publishing in black and white. It often works particularly well for portraits.

Train your eye to look for the right situations where you can use this technique. Once you are aware of what to look for you will do it instinctively.

Fish Lady Finding Your Strength In Isolation - 3 Methods To Make Your Subject Pop!

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Look for large areas of shade where no light is turned on, and no sunlight affects the area directly. In this portrait of the fish vendor at the market, her open storefront is perfect. The room behind her has no windows and only one or two low-powered lights. The light on her is sunshine reflecting off the building opposite her shop. It is diffused and soft and does not affect the interior of her room.

Setting my camera to expose her face correctly means the interior of the room behind her is underexposed. Use a spot meter setting to only read the light from your main subject and not the darker background. If your camera’s meter is set to take a reading from the whole frame and average it, you won’t get a satisfactory result.

The key to this method is the balance of light and shade. If you take your exposure reading from the whole scene, the camera includes all the dark area and wants that to be exposed well too. The resulting image will have an overexposed subject and visible detail in the shadows.

Pretty Chinese Woman Finding Your Strength In Isolation - 3 Methods To Make Your Subject Pop!

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

You can also use this same method with a background brighter than your subject. Doing this is often more complicated if the light is too strong or coming directly into your lens. The same principle applies when you have more light in the background than you do on your main subject. Make your exposure reading from your subject only, excluding light from the background. Your subject will be well exposed, and your background will be overexposed.

Black Background Finding Your Strength In Isolation - 3 Methods To Make Your Subject Pop!

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

I have developed an outdoor daylight portrait studio which incorporates this technique. In this studio, I have good control of the light and the background. Here, I use black and white fabric backdrops which mean I have an even exposure on the background creating a great contrast to my subject.

White Background Finding Your Strength In Isolation - 3 Methods To Make Your Subject Pop!

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

The control of Focus and Depth-of-Field

The most popular methods used to isolate subjects is carefully controlled focus and a shallow depth-of-field. My very first lens was a 50mm f/1.4. So, naturally, I grew to love using the wide aperture capability to help me knock my backgrounds out of focus.

Using a wide aperture setting is central to this method. However, there is more to it than choosing your lowest f-stop number.

Relative distances have a significant impact on how much your background blurs. The closer you are to your subject, with any lens, the more the background will blur. Likewise, the further your subject is from the background, the softer the background appears.

Lens choice influences depth-of-field too. Using a telephoto lens, you can blur a background more with any aperture setting than if you use a wide-angle-lens.

Tricycle Taxi in Chiang Mai Finding Your Strength In Isolation - 3 Methods To Make Your Subject Pop!

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Learn to control what you focus on, as well as the other settings that affect depth-of-field. Doing this well means you can include sufficient detail without compromising attention on your main subject. In this portrait of the tricycle taxi rider, I focused on him. I chose to have enough detail in the background, without it being sharp, because the background is relevant to this photo.

Compositional choices to isolate your subject

Point-of-view (the angle you choose to take your photo from), affects what you include and exclude from your frame. Often even just a small change in your camera position can have a significant impact on what’s in your frame and what’s left out.

Move around your subject and watch what happens with the background. Having a tree looking like it’s growing out of someone’s head is going to be distracting. Changing your angle of view a little your left or right eliminates this distraction. Selecting a higher or lower position helps if there’s a strong horizontal line in the background which dissects your subject.

Buddhist Nun Finding Your Strength In Isolation - 3 Methods To Make Your Subject Pop!

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Take your time. Pay attention to the background, not just your subject, when you are making your composition. After taking your initial photo, review it on your monitor. Study what’s in the background. Often this reveals distractions. Move around a little. One side or the other, up and down. Concentrate on the relationship between your subject and elements in the background.

Conclusion

Other methods of isolating your subject are many and varied. You can use contrasting colors, interrupted patterns, selective cropping and other techniques to help your chosen subject stand out.

Pink and Blue Finding Your Strength In Isolation - 3 Methods To Make Your Subject Pop!

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Photographs are often stronger when your subject is clearly defined over everything else in the frame.

Experimenting with the methods I have outlined helps you build stronger compositions. Try them out. Try others. Find a few you like and this will help build up your individual photographic style as you begin to use them consistently.

The post Finding Your Strength in Isolation – 3 Methods to Make Your Subject Pop! appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

Why Carrying Less Camera Gear Will Make You a Better Photographer

The post Why Carrying Less Camera Gear Will Make You a Better Photographer appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

During travel photography workshops, we teach participants who often carry big, heavy camera bags. A lot of the time people do not use very much of what they are lugging around with them.

In this article, I want to encourage you to think about carrying less camera gear and how it can help you improve your photography.

Why Carrying Less Camera Gear Will Make You a Better Photographer Female Photographer

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Restrictions of weight

Walking around with less weight on your shoulder or back makes a huge difference to photography sessions. It’s no problem if you’re working in a studio or are going to be mostly in one location, but otherwise, it can wear you out quickly.

Going on a photo walk, or even when you go on location, carrying less weight in camera gear frees you up and gives you more energy. You can enjoy your photography for longer periods of time. This becomes more noticeable as you get older.

Well-designed camera bags make a difference with good weight distribution. Mostly though, bags designed to carry a lot of camera gear are backpack-style and I do not find these easy to use. They are either strapped on and secure, with a belt to help support the weight on your hips, or your gear is easily accessible but the weight is not so well distributed.

Carrying a heavy bag of equipment hanging off your shoulder is tiring. It can also lead to back problems if you frequently do it for long periods.

Why Carrying Less Camera Gear Will Make You a Better Photographer Poi Sang Long Festival

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

The hassle of bulk

Bulky bags make moving around more difficult. Again, this is more pronounced as you get older. Getting down on the ground to capture a low angle view becomes difficult with a bulky backpack on. If you do not have the bulk and weight on you are far more likely to get down and potentially make a more interesting photo.

Markets and other busy locations are far easier to navigate if you are carrying less camera gear.

With less of a mass of gear, you are also more inconspicuous. This can be a great advantage and help you obtain more natural, candid photos.

Khao San Road Why Carrying Less Camera Gear Will Make You a Better Photographer

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Thinking differently about how you compose

I think the biggest advantage of carrying less camera equipment with you is that you are forced to be more alternative in your approach to composition.

You will need to be more imaginative if you have only one or two lenses with you. Zooming with your feet becomes more necessary. It does not take long to get used to.

Seeing in new ways that still allow you to take interesting photos becomes second nature if you practice often enough. You have to think more about taking photos with the lens you have on your camera. If you have limited options you have to focus on your composition rather than relying on the perspective a different lens gives you.

Of course, this all means you need to plan more in advance. Packing the right gear for a particular situation is important. Before you head out with minimal gear, carefully consider the demands you are facing and which lenses will be most appropriate. If you are like me and prefer not to use zoom lenses, your options are more limited and carrying less gear is more challenging.

Why Carrying Less Camera Gear Will Make You a Better Photographer

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

What gear should I pack?

Ask yourself how much of your gear you really use each time to go out. When you stop to think about it you will probably find that you use certain lenses and other equipment more often and other gear hardly at all.

Check your metadata in Lightroom to see which lenses you use the most. Open a catalog of the favorite photos you’ve taken over the last twelve months or so. In Grid View in Lightroom click on the Metadata option in the top bar. Now you will see lists of cameras and lenses you have used. Analyzing your best photos based on lens and focal length may help you decide which lenses you use the most to take the photos you are most satisfied with.

Maybe you will choose to take one or two lenses with you more often, based on this information. Don’t always pack the lens you use the most. Push yourself by sometimes only packing a lens you tend not to use so much. This helps you become more comfortable using these lenses and to master them.

Kevin Lander-Johan Photographer Why Carrying Less Camera Gear Will Make You a Better Photographer

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Conclusion

You may need to buy a new bag, or consider not taking a camera bag with you. If you are only taking one or two lenses out you may not even need to take a camera bag at all.

Don’t aim to travel too light when you have to produce a set of photos for a customer or specific purpose. Limiting yourself in terms of gear options can be detrimental in these situations. If you have a job to do, you need to be sure to do it well.

Challenge yourself to use minimal camera equipment for a month or two. Create a new body of work. When you reach the set period of time you have made yourself, look back over your photos and think about the difference this exercise has made to your photography.

Do you limit your photography gear? Let us know in the comments below.

The post Why Carrying Less Camera Gear Will Make You a Better Photographer appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

What to do When the Light’s Down Low

The post What to do When the Light’s Down Low appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

Cameras create images using reflected light. When there’s not much light reflecting off your subject, the camera is challenged. You need to learn the methods of controlling your camera when you are photographing in low light situations.

What to do When the Lights Down Low Bronze Crucible

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Our cameras and our eyes ‘see’ in different ways. When the light is low, our eyes often do not see color so vividly. When we are photographing in low light we can make adjustments to our camera exposure settings. This enables them to make photos our eyes never see naturally.

Light streaks from passing vehicle lights or blurred movement of flames in a fire are never things our eyes see naturally. These are only the result of using a slow shutter speed on your camera.

Opening up your lens aperture will produce a shallow depth of field beyond what your eyes will see. Doing this allows more light to affect the sensor and can produce some surreal results in low light.

What to do When the Lights Down Low Silhouettes in a Passageway

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Setting your ISO very high, especially on newer cameras, makes it possible to take photographs in near darkness.

Visualize the look you want

Starting out with an idea in your mind about with the look and feel you want your photo to have makes it easier to achieve. This will lead to more creative development in your photography.

What to do When the Lights Down Low Istanbul

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Starting out this may be a challenge for some, but it is a great thing to learn as it pushes you to learn how to use your camera more flexibly.

Consider if you want a sharp image, or if you want to embrace the blur of slow shutter speed if there’s movement in your subject. Think about how a wide aperture setting will affect how much of your photo is in focus. Is this the look you want?

How do I know which settings to adjust?

I can give you some guidelines but you will only truly know through experimenting with the settings yourself. I can’t tell you the precise settings to use because every situation you will photograph contains many variables.

What to do When the Lights Down Low Merlion Park, Singapore

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

You could set your camera to Program Mode on Auto ISO and let the camera make choices for you. Alternatively, choose one of the night scene modes your camera may have.

Both these options are very helpful when you first begin to experiment with low light photography. Both, however, will produce rather generic looking results.

Automatic settings are best when you use them to get you started and then analyze the EXIF data they contain. Having in mind the way you want your photo to look means you can then study the aperture, shutter speed and ISO information contained in the EXIF.

Asian New Year Lanterns

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Once you have done this, switch your camera to Manual Mode using the same three exposure settings. Now adjust the ones you think will begin to give your desired effect. Continue to make small adjustments, one at a time, tweaking them until you are happy with what you see.

As you practice this and become more familiar with your camera settings and lighting conditions you will no longer need to use an auto mode to help get you started.

What to do When the Lights Down Low Fire 1

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

In this photo I was aiming to have my subjects relatively sharp. The lens I used on my Nikon D800 was the 35mm f1.4. The ISO was set to 4000, aperture to f/1.4 and the shutter speed was for 1/10th of a second. I did not use a flash.

What to do When the Lights Down Low Fire 2

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

An 8 second exposure time was used in this photo to allow for some motion blur in the people and the fire. My ISO was set at 1600 and my aperture was f/7.1

The varying amount of light from the flames meant I had to carefully watch my exposure settings and adjust them as necessary.

Adding an external light

Flash and LED light added to a scene when the light is low will influence your photograph. You need to control these lights carefully to be able to obtain the most natural looking results.

Too much extra light will cause unsightly shadows and possibly harsh highlights. With not enough additional light, you may not be able to see the effect at all. Again, when you are first starting out, experimentation is the key.

What to do When the Lights Down Low Tuktuk

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Test the various flash settings to determine which one will give you the best look. Try TTL or auto settings first. Depending on your camera and flash these settings in any situation the results will be better or worse.

If you are not satisfied, switch your flash to Manual Mode. Start with the power set to half and take a photo. Adjust the setting higher or lower and gradually taking a series of photos until you are happy with the result you see on your monitor.

Create RAW files and post process them

Low light being challenging, you will obtain the best results only after some post-processing. Camera technology continues to improve, but is not yet ideal, especially when the light is low.

What to do When the Lights Down Low Loi Krathong

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Making RAW images allows you greater flexibility to post process and retain a higher quality. Most commonly you will want to reduce the amount of digital noise which occurs at higher ISO settings.

Color and contrast can both become flat and dull at higher ISO settings. Boosting contrast and saturation will make your photo look crisper.

Keep focused

Many cameras will struggle to autofocus in low light conditions. The lens may search for some time before it finds a focus point. Even then, it may not choose the point you want it to focus on if your camera is set to multi-point focus. In more extreme circumstances it may not be able to focus at all.

What to do When the Lights Down Low Dancer

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Manually focusing may be the best option. But this is also more challenging in low light. Using an external light source, like a flashlight, aimed at the area of your composition you wish to focus on can help. Once your lens is focused turn your flashlight off if you do not want it to affect your exposure.

Conclusion

Practice and experimentation will lead to the best results. The more you photograph in low light the more familiar you will become with the variables different settings will produce.

Start with easy subjects when you have ample time. Learning to take great photos in low light is not something that will happen overnight.

The post What to do When the Light’s Down Low appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

How To Read Your Camera Manual (and why you really, really should!)

The post How To Read Your Camera Manual (and why you really, really should!) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

Camera manuals are notoriously difficult to read and understand. Often they are not read as much, or as well, as they should be. You need to read your camera manual because it contains vital information that will help you to become a better photographer.

How To Read Your Camera Manual Night Camera

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Just as we need to learn the alphabet before we can learn to read and write, we must learn the basics of operating our cameras in order to take the best photos we can.

Reading it from cover to cover is not necessary. There will not be a test on how much you can remember.

The best way to use your camera manual

Begin to skim with your camera in your hands. Look through the contents and take note of what’s covered. Mark which items you think may be of particular interest to you. Some you will be able to just glance over. Others may be just painfully obvious, like this from the Nikon D800 manual;

“When operating the viewfinder diopter adjustment control with your eye to the viewfinder, care should be taken not to put your finger in your eye accidentally.”

I would add that it’s always a good idea not to put your finger in your eye, even when you are not adjusting your diopter.

If you’ve just bought a new camera and it’s a model you’re not familiar with, you’ll need to pay more attention to the manual. For camera users who are upgrading you will be best to scan the book for what’s been upgraded since your previous model. Sometimes these may be highlighted.

How To Read Your Camera Manual Camera In Hand

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Break your reading down into bite-size chunks. Don’t attempt to read and understand everything you need to know about your camera in one sitting. It’s a complex piece of equipment. Spread your reading out over a few days or a week.

Give yourself time to practice what you are reading about. Getting hands-on experience will help you retain what you’re learning about and make it much more relatable.

Do not read it all

Choose to learn the essentials first. Find out how to focus it and set the exposure well. There will be various options available to you. Start reading about the ones most applicable to the way you like to photograph.

If you are completely new to photography and not yet sure which exposure mode you prefer, take some time to read through all the options.

How To Read Your Camera Manual Happy Photographer

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Getting a good start by understanding the basics of your camera leaves you freer to concentrate on photography. Don’t be filling your mind with more than you need to know. At the start you are not likely to need information about producing video, making multiple exposures or how to adjust the customs settings on your camera. These things can wait until you can find your way around your camera comfortably.

Carry your manual with you

Download a PDF of your camera manual to your phone. Take it with you everywhere so you can refer to it when you get stuck with a camera setting.

How To Read Your Camera Manual Chinese Woman Photographer

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Practical application of the information contained in this little book will help you get to know your camera better. But only if you use it well. Hands on is best.

Once it’s on your phone you can take a few minutes to read a little more on the bus or train or whenever you have a few minutes to spare.

Consider buying a book specifically about your camera (that’s not the manual)

I have purchased books and resources about cameras I own by Thom Hogan. Thom is well known for his incredibly detailed writing about Nikon cameras. I find he’s much easier to read than the camera manuals.

How To Read Your Camera Manual Learning Photography

©Pansa Landwer-Johan

His books are well laid out and the information is broken down so it’s readily consumed.

This may be beyond the needs or wants of many photographers, but for those who have the time and want the resources, picking up a book, other than your camera manual will help advance you towards better picture taking.

Aim to be able to forget it all

As you become more confident and competent with your camera, you will have little need for your camera manual. Well, I would hope that before long you have put what you’ve read to good use and can remember it effortlessly.

How To Read Your Camera Manual Camera In Hand 2

©Pansa Landwer-Johan

Having the ability to pick up your camera and have it ready to take photos in any situation is well worth aiming for. The more you can concentrate on what’s happening in front of you the better photos you’ll obtain.

Gazing down at the camera in your hands as you try and figure out which settings you want to use leads to you missing out. You may be able to take your best photos when you are focused more on what you are making photographs about than what you are making them with.

The post How To Read Your Camera Manual (and why you really, really should!) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

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