11 Ideas for More Unique Concert Photos

Musicians, magazines, fans, and record labels alike turn to skilled photographers to tell a story of a momentous performance and return unique concert photos.

Concert photographers are often on assignment for a publication that has sent them out to capture meaningful pictures that could very well go down in music history. Otherwise, music photographers are individually hired by the performing artists. Whatever brings you to the photo pit, your goal is to capture something wonderful.

That being said, the music photography industry has become surprisingly saturated in recent years. In order to stand out amongst the crowd, you have to take live music photographs that differ from others in your photo pit. Here are 11 tips on how to take more unique concert photographs.

#1 – Don’t Forget About the Detail Shots

still life concert image - 11 Ideas for More Unique Concert Photos

Band: Behemoth

Although you want to focus heavily on the musicians performing on the stage, the detail shots are just as important.

Many bands put in a significant amount of effort into their live show productions, from stage props to lighting schemes. A unique and effective statement to your live concert gallery are some close-ups of the epic stage props that the band uses.

At the very least, the artist who created the props or the instrument company will thank you!

#2 – Play with Art and Distortion Lenses

blue and pink concert lighting - 11 Ideas for More Unique Concert Photos

Band: MGT. Shot with the Lensbaby Burnside 35.

Though concert photography is often an assignment from a journalistic outlet, that doesn’t mean that you can’t have a couple of minutes to yourself to do something vastly different. You do not have to be afraid of using artistic or distortion lenses at a live show. If anything, they make the frame exceptionally cool!

The fish-eye lens became very famous by well-known concert photographers by being used at live shows. I, myself, love using the Lensbaby lenses at live concerts. The manual focus can oftentimes be much more effective than relying on autofocus.

Try using a copper tube to create very cool swirls around your subject.

art lenses - 11 Ideas for More Unique Concert Photos

Band: A Mirror Hollow. Shot with the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L IS USM lens.

You can submit the standard shots to the outlet, and the unique ones to the band. I am telling you, the musicians will love a new take on their live performances.

#3 – Tons of Flying Hair is Great

hair whipping - 11 Ideas for More Unique Concert Photos

Band: Cradle of Filth

Naturally, try to capture the facial expressions of the performers. However, you are dealing with rockstars here, and part of the cool factor of these rock gods is their wild style.

Take advantage of the flying hair and fun headbanging, they can sometimes make cooler shots than your standard singing portraits.

#4 – Perspective is Everything

band between legs - 11 Ideas for More Unique Concert Photos

Band: HIM

Although concert photography can be very limited, between shooting time restrictions and limitations on your shooting location, you can still play with perspective.

The key to being different is viewing life through a lens that is more diverse than those around you, no pun intended. Get low, low, low to the ground and shoot up or move yourself to the very far side of the photo pit and shoot from there! Photograph in between the heads of fans or get up on the balcony.

Whatever you do, find new angles, views, and compositions to take advantage of to create more unique concert photos.

#5 – The Musician Doesn’t  Always Have to Look at You

musician on stage - 11 Ideas for More Unique Concert Photos

Band: Nightwish

It is true that the viewer connects best when the subject is looking at or engaging with the camera.

However, you don’t always have to fight for that type of shot during a live concert setting. It’s okay for the musicians not to interact with you as a photographer. Shots of them looking away or down can be just as eye-catching.

#6 – Embrace the Light, Don’t Avoid it

stage lighting - 11 Ideas for More Unique Concert Photos

Band: IAMX

Having a good grip on lighting will aid you in your concert photography journey. Stage lighting can differ tremendously between shows, venues, and even what lighting is available for that evening. The lighting can range from bright white strobes to deep reds.

Understanding how lighting is photographed by your camera, how it reflects on the instruments and equipment, and how the bulbs affect the performer’s skin tones will change how you take the photograph.

Most incredibly safe and tame images come from the photographer being wary of taking advantage of the lighting situation at concerts. Don’t be afraid to jump right in there and take advantage of whatever bizarre lighting scheme the performers have cooked up for you.

At the end of the day, the lighting is a part of the concert experience, and your job is to capture that.

#7 – Lens Flares are Rad

lens flare musician performing - 11 Ideas for More Unique Concert Photos

Band: Epica

On the topic of lighting, lens flares can be very cool!

This is, of course, an aesthetic choice, but I personally find them to be quite fun. You can cause a flare in a similar fashion to photographing during sunset or golden hour. When the light hits the front glass element of your lens at a specific angle, a flare will appear.

#8 – Overexposing and Underexposing Can Work

moody concert lighting - 11 Ideas for More Unique Concert Photos

Band: The Misfits

To help accurately capture the emotion and feel of the show, it is alright to overexpose or underexpose your frame. This can also create a rather unique and uncommon type of photograph.

Use your best judgment and common sense here to determine when such exposures are appropriate.

#9 – Don’t Be Afraid to Get Close

close up of a band member on stage - 11 Ideas for More Unique Concert Photos

Band: Jyrki69

Guitarists don’t bite (not hard anyway)! Don’t be afraid to get close to the performers on the stage. Take a wide-angle lens, such as a 16-35mm lens, and get right up in there. The perspective distortion can make for a very cool shot.

However, that being said, be aware of your surroundings. I cannot reiterate this point enough. Absolutely be aware of your surroundings!

It is easy to get lost in the moment and fall into a creative bliss when shooting, but a live music event is not the place to lose yourself.

If you’re not growing eyes in the back of your head, you’ll most likely get clonked right in the temple by a crowd surfer, tangled in a microphone cord, or smacked by a flying guitar. This will help you avoid injury to yourself and others.

#10 – In-Between Moments Tell a Story

singer between songs - 11 Ideas for More Unique Concert Photos

Band: HIM

The band may have put their instruments down for a moment, but that doesn’t mean that the job of the photographer ends there.

Some in-between moments can become incredible iconic images through their powerful storytelling ability.

#11 – The Moment is More Important than Technical Accuracy

red concert lighting - 11 Ideas for More Unique Concert Photos

Band: IAMX

Let’s face the facts, we all pixel peep. I believe that over time, passionate photographers get a bit anxious about technical perfection in their images (I know I sure do sometimes). However, some niches such as event photography are not as fussed over technical mistakes as long as the moment captured is important.

There is be a fine balance between taking a good photograph by technique and taking a good photograph by design (aka a great and powerful moment). However, if you have to choose between capturing a fantastic story and ensuring equipment perfection, pick the story.

Many wonderful images are overlooked because the focus is too set on ensuring that an image is tack sharp rather than what the subject portrays.

Of course, this isn’t meant to be interpreted as disregarding technical proficiency. You should aim to take exceptional photographs, but don’t get lost in your pursuit and forget your purpose for photographing the event.

Your turn

Now that you have these tips in your photography toolbelt, go out there and take some wicked shots!

Band: Epica

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5 Photography Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Shooting Seascapes

Here are some practical steps to take and 5 photography mistakes you want to avoid in order to help you capture better seascape images.

Capturing seascapes is a very popular past-time and one of the most enjoyable and fascinating types of landscape photography. People love to capture the ocean and for good reason.

Seas around the world are more accessible than ever to the majority of us. People take regular holidays to visit the abundance of natural beaches and the ocean provides a fantastic place of escape and freedom from bustling towns and cities.

beach and palm tree - 5 Photography Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Shooting Seascapes

The ocean is a breathtakingly beautiful place and offers peace, tranquility, and an ideal opportunity to capture some memorable images. While the coastline offers photographers spectacular seas and atmospheric skies, recording these scenes can be challenging.

Mistake #1 – Cloudless skies

A common mistake that is often presented in seascape imagery is a vast expanse of empty sky without any texture or formation from clouds to lift the image.

Seascape rocky shore sunset - Here are some practical steps to take and mistakes you want to avoid to help you capture better seascape images.

To avoid this pitfall, head to the coast on partially cloudy days. Photographing ocean vistas to include the different patterns and shapes of clouds above the sea will help your images to become more inspiring.

If you find yourself taking pictures by the sea during first and last light, you will discover the colors in the sky can look even more dramatic than at other times of the day. This can beautify your image with vibrant sunset skies igniting the sky.

Alternatively, capturing big white clouds to complement a blue sky or dark, moody and overcast skies can add drama and emotion to your images.

Seascape with clouds - 5 Photography Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Shooting Seascapes

Mistake #2 – Not checking the tide schedule

If you are unprepared during a visit to photograph the ocean by not checking the tide schedule, you may get caught out by incoming tides and even freak waves during adverse weather.

The sea and waves can be unpredictable and powerful. I have ended up with wet shoes countless times while trying to capture the moving waves. Be mindful of the risks the ocean presents to you and the harmful impact the saltwater can have on your camera and equipment.

Always protect your camera (a plastic bag can keep it safe from the salty sea air) and be sure to clean your camera when you return home.

Seascape long exposure - 5 Photography Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Shooting Seascapes

If you would like to capture the swell of the ocean at high tide or an exposed bay of rocks during low tide, be sure to check the tide times and visit at the right hour.

You will find that planning to be at the coast when the tide is at a certain point will help you shoot better compositions and seascape photos.

Mistake #3 – Not considering your composition

Capturing beautiful images of the coast is not as straightforward as you might think, especially if you don’t think about your composition carefully. A few things worth considering are leading lines and the rule of thirds.

Seascape blue sunset - 5 Photography Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Shooting Seascapes

Leading lines are a great way to lead the viewer’s eye into the frame toward the main focal point in the photo. They can help to create depth in an image and provide more purpose.

When photographing the sea, you will find that placing the horizon in the middle of the image will generally be less effective than positioning the water level above or below the center of the frame.

Seascape simplified - 5 Photography Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Shooting Seascapes

You may be asking if should you include more sea or more sky in your composition? Well, that depends on the nature of the scene in front of you and what is the most interesting and important aspect of the story.

If the sky is compelling and vibrant, your image will be stronger by including more sky. But if the sky is uninviting and lacks drama while the ocean is swirling beautifully, compose the image to include more of the sea.

Whatever you decide to shoot, be imaginative and creative with your composition and capture some great images.

Mistake #4 – No focal point

Seascape blue water and a fish - 5 Photography Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Shooting Seascapes

One of the great benefits of being by the coast is the variety of subjects to shoot. However, it is surprising to see the number of times beginner photographers take images of the sea without including a strong focal point in their images.

You could focus your camera on any number of interesting material at the sea such as piers, fishing boats, lighthouses, cliffs, rocks or fish.

Mistake #5 – Not including any foreground interest in the shot

While the sea can make an exciting subject, a mistake newbie photographers tend to make when capturing the ocean is to photograph the sea and sky with nothing in the foreground.

This can occasionally work well in the right light and setting.

Seascape foreground rocks - 5 Photography Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Shooting Seascapes

But capturing an extra element such as cliff ledges, flowers, shells, or footprints in the sand will add context and another dimension to your image to help it stand out.

Conclusion

The best seascape images rarely happen by chance. Instead, they are the result of careful planning, diligence, and practice. Keep exposing, avoid these photography mistakes and use the tips and with plenty of practice, you will soon be capturing breathtakingly beautiful images!

How about you, what do you enjoy about seascape photography? Please share your tips and images below, as well as any questions you might have.

The post 5 Photography Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Shooting Seascapes appeared first on Digital Photography School.

10 Dos and Don’ts for Mastering Your Tripod

Love ’em or hate ’em, tripods are an essential piece of gear for all photographers. It will keep your camera steady during long exposures, support the weight of those big lenses you need for wildlife photography, and hold your camera in what could otherwise be an awkward position for macro photography.

But just like any other tool, a tripod can be used the right way, and the wrong way.

10 Dos and Don'ts for Mastering Your Tripod - photographer under a rock arch

DO – Get a good tripod that fits your gear

First of all, make sure your tripod is sturdy and solid. There are a wide variety of models available that range anywhere from $20 on into the thousands, and there is a reason for that. A bargain tripod will hold a small point-and-shoot camera steady but is not strong enough to keep your heavy DSLR steady during a long exposure.

Even if you have a high-quality tripod, there are still some things to consider such as its weight limit and maximum height. Make sure your tripod is built to hold the weight of your camera, biggest lens, flash, and any other accessories you might put on it.

You might also want to consider if your tripod should be as tall as you are. If you need to look through your viewfinder, having a tall tripod will mean you can use it more comfortably without bending down. On the other hand, if you have an LCD screen that flips up, a tall tripod is less important.

A good tripod should last decades with proper storage and care, so it’s worth the investment.

photographer on sand dunes - 10 Dos and Don'ts for Mastering Your Tripod

DO –  Make sure your tripod is sufficiently weighted

The weight of the tripod itself is also something to think about. Typically they are made from aluminum which is relatively inexpensive but heavy. For a higher price, you can get one made of carbon fiber, which is strong and lightweight but more expensive.

A carbon fiber tripod is an excellent choice for nature and wildlife photographers who have to walk or hike long distances while carrying their gear. However, they are so light that a stiff breeze could potentially knock the tripod over, taking your camera with it. If you are using a lighter tripod and there is a lot of wind, anchor the legs of the tripod or hang a rock, sandbag, or your camera bag from the center to weigh it down.

I recommend going for a light tripod otherwise it will tend to get left at home. A light tripod is easy to carry and you can always weigh it down on a windy day.

sunset over Canyon de Chelly, Arizona - 10 Dos and Don'ts for Mastering Your Tripod

DO – Extend the thickest sections of the legs first

When a tripod folds up, its legs unlock and collapse into sections (usually three or four). The thickest sections of the leg are the most stable. So if you’re not raising your tripod to full height, extend the thicker upper sections before you bring the thinner lower parts into play.

DON’T – Raise the center column until the legs are fully extended

Raising the tripod using the legs offers much more stability than using the center column, which can sway slightly during long exposures. For maximum sharpness, the center column should be used to gain extra height only after the legs are fully extended.

DO – Remove the center column altogether

Consider whether you are more likely to require additional height, or if you would rather be able to get lower to the ground. Some tripods allow you to remove the center column, which means you can set up your tripod lower to the ground for super low-angle shots.

Gatklettur, or Arch Rock, in Arnarstapi, Iceland - 10 Dos and Don'ts for Mastering Your Tripod

DON’T – Touch the tripod or camera during the exposure

If you’re doing a long exposure, even a slight nudge on the tripod can cause blur. Make sure that nothing touches the camera or tripod while the shutter is open. A camera strap blowing in the wind comes to mind.

Ideally, you should use a remote shutter release or 2-second self-timer to prevent movement when you press the shutter button.

DON’T – Carry your camera mounted on the tripod

Okay, I have to admit I’m guilty of this one! It can be tempting to leave your camera attached to the tripod as you walk from location to location – it makes set-up and take-down so much faster when you need to get the shot.

But the release plates and screws that hold the camera to the tripod assume that gravity will be working with them. They aren’t built to hold the camera at an angle, especially with the bustling and bumping that can happen while walking around outside. By doing this, you risk your precious camera coming loose and taking a bad spill.

DO – Protect your tripod from water, sand and other debris

A good tripod should be fairly rugged, but tiny particles can get inside the tripod and erode the screws that make it move smoothly and fasten securely. Avoid submerging the joints and locks in sand or silty water, and if your tripod does get dirty, make sure it is clean and dry before folding it back up.

I often use my tripod on the beach and sometimes submerge it in salt water. A solution to the problem of getting sand and salt in the tripod is to not collapse it again. I just leave all the legs extended until I get home (or to home base if traveling) and can rinse it off.

Hraunfosser Waterfall, Iceland - 10 Dos and Don'ts for Mastering Your Tripod

DON’T – Over-tighten the screws

Some tripods have spinning screw locks that tighten the legs, and some fasten with clips that are held on with bolts that may need to be adjusted from time to time.

Either way, you want these screws to be secure enough, but you don’t want to muscle them so tight that they can’t be unlocked. Worse, you could strip and damage the threads. Most screws on a tripod should be firmly finger-tight, and no more.

DO – Turn off image stabilization

The image stabilization technology inside cameras and lenses is fantastic when hand-holding the camera, but can actually backfire when used on a tripod.

This is because the stabilization system itself causes vibrations, and when it’s mounted on a stable base such as a tripod, it actually detects its own vibration. It works harder to stabilize this, which causes it to vibrate, even more, compounding the problem.

Therefore, this setting should be turned off when your camera is mounted on a tripod.

10 Dos and Don'ts for Mastering Your Tripod - photographer in a desert valley

Over to you

There’s nothing worse than making a big investment in your photography only to find it isn’t helping very much. So make sure you are using your tripod properly to get those sharp images you are after.

The post 10 Dos and Don’ts for Mastering Your Tripod appeared first on Digital Photography School.

How to Edit Old Images with Your New Skill Set

This article is going to be a little different from some of the others I’ve written. It’s going to be more like a journal entry or a reflection. It’s very personal in some ways but the ideas within will have universal value for everyone.

The idea is to show a personal exploration of my editing skills, which will hopefully inspire you to explore your skills and progression as a photographer as well.

How much can experience change your editing workflow?

I was recently cleaning up my catalogues and image storage when I ran across a bunch of my older work. I looked at the images and how I had processed each pic. Looking back, I can see how my tastes and skills have evolved.

Over time we become better photographers, but we also become more adept at using Lightroom, Photoshop, Luminar or any other editing programs we might love to use. So as our skills evolve so does the way in which we process each image.

It was at this moment that I decided to go back and edit some of my old images. The goal was to compare the ways my skills have changed as well as my personal aesthetic. You can do the same thing. The results may be surprising.

You might also learn something about the way in which your work has evolved over time. Perhaps you were totally into creating monochromatic images way back when. This might contrast with your recent images in which you’re into creating brilliant warms tones in your work. You may also have become more skilled at cloning, utilizing layers, or using plugins. It all depends on what you have learned over time.

So without any further rambling, let’s take a look at an older image of mine.

How to Edit Old Images with Your New Skill Set - photo of a path and steps in a forest

Here’s the initial image with my original edits. This was framed and sold a number of times during my earlier years.

This shot was one of the first I processed and created for sale in a gallery. It sold quite well. I was very proud of the work but what if I went back now and edited the RAW file again. How would my more refined skills change the look and feel of the photograph?

This image was edited fairly simply. I used Lightroom, and at the time I didn’t have anything else in my arsenal to utilize. I’m pretty sure I adjusted the blacks and whites in this image and added a little bit more saturation to the greens.

At that time, however, I didn’t have much of skill set, and edits were pretty basic. This doesn’t mean that what I did was bad. It was just simple and created a pretty clean and attractive image.

So now it’s time to see the difference and how my workflow has changed.  Here are the steps I took to re-edit this image some six years after it was first shot.

Searching for ideas and inspiration

One of the first things that changed about my workflow is how I begin to create my final image. These days I tend to surf through a large amount of presets searching for some ideas.

Part of this is experience, and part of it is time-saving. Over the years I’ve collected a large amount of presets, some of which I’ve created others I’ve purchased. I’ve also acquired a few plugins and I also use the presets available in these as inspiration.

Most of the time, however, I have a pretty good idea of the type of image I want to create already stored in my brain. As time has gone by, there’s far less trial and error associated with my work. Instead, my work is now far more purposeful with specific goals.

How to Edit Old Images with Your New Skill Set - inside NIK Analog Efex

I took the image into Nik Analog Efex just to see what kind of looks I could create. I didn’t use anything from the plugin but I did get the idea to use a radial filter to focus attention on the path.

In the case of this old image, I studied the previous look and decided I wanted to change it. I feel the first edit was flat and a little too dark with not enough warmth or contrast. I also searched through some presets and decided I wanted more emphasis on the pathway leading to the stairs.

The following edits were made to create the look and feel I wanted specifically.

The Workflow

Step #1 – Sharpening

I ran the image through a RAW sharpening plugin. I wanted to have nice sharp details on the pathway. The image was also shot long ago with a very basic kit lens which I felt was softer than my newer 50mm lens.

Step #2 – Histogram

The histogram was adjusted so that the image touched both ends of the spectrum for black and white tones.

Step #3 – Local Adjustments

Next, I applied the adjustment brush to several different parts of the image. I wanted the pathway to have a brighter light that leads the viewer’s eye back through the image. More clarity and sharpness were also added to certain parts of the image.

How to Edit Old Images with Your New Skill Set

I used the adjustment brush to add more highlights to the pathway.

Step #4 – Presets

I used a preset to quickly deepen shadows and also to warm the tones within the image.

Inspired by a film preset I added a small bokeh to the image by using a radial filter and pulling the clarity and sharpness down. The filter was inverted and applied to the outer edges of the image.

How to Edit Old Images with Your New Skill Set

Here’s a quick screenshot after I used a preset to deepen shadows in the image.

Step #5 – Vignette

Finally, to create a little bit of depth, I added a small vignette to the image.

How to Edit Old Images with Your New Skill Set

Here’s a side by side comparison of the initial jpeg image and my updated edit.

The editing of the image didn’t take an overly long time. These are all fairly simple steps to take, but they have changed to look and feel of the piece. I didn’t use Photoshop with this image, and as per usual it was edited solely in Lightroom.

When I first edited this image Lightroom was the only program I used, so it seemed appropriate to keep all edits within the same program for a fair comparison.

The look and feel of the new version are certainly bolder and brighter. It’s a subtle change from the first edit. There’s nothing hugely drastic but I think what it shows is how our skills evolve and we become more polished in our editing work.

When I first created this image all those years ago, I loved the look. Now I find it a little flat so the edits that were applied this time adjusted what I now find to be a fault in the work.

How to Edit Old Images with Your New Skill Set

Here’s the final image. This was edited fully in Lightroom with the exception of the RAW sharpening, for which I used a plugin.

It’s always good to reflect on things

Sometimes it’s interesting to dig through the past and see what you can find. It’s worth it to experiment and explore how your work has changed. Don’t be afraid to go back and rework some of your old photographs, who knows what you’ll discover.

If you’ve done some experimenting, then please share it with us. We want to see how your skills have evolved or maybe the ideas you’ve come up with as time has passed. I’m sure there’s someone out there with a really dramatic edit.

Let’s see what you can cook up to inspire the rest of us.

The post How to Edit Old Images with Your New Skill Set appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Color Management Can Be Easy

Color Management is the starchy, techie term assigned to a complex set of issues facing photographers every day. How to accurately capture the colors in a scene, display those same colors on a computer monitor and then print those colors successfully on paper.

While this is a very complicated challenge (on the level of herding cats), the answer is a lot easier than you might think.

The Problem in a Nutshell

Color photography is a visual communications system that attempts to equalize the differences between three utterly different technologies.

Red Green Blue - Color Management

Imagine three people trying to discuss a difficult topic while speaking different languages. Words and phrases in one tongue have no equivalence in the others. Cultures and behaviors clash as convictions and meanings get misinterpreted. The result is frustration. This scenario pretty well describes the complications of color reproduction.

Chromacity Luminosity - Color Management

Cameras record light in one color language, monitors interpret that same light in a different language, and printers try to explain the monitor’s interpretation in yet another language. All three are doing their level best, but collectively they aren’t communicating.

Is it any wonder why accurate color reproduction sounds more like an oxymoron than a truthful description?

Further, cameras are influenced by the color of the light in a scene, monitor colors appear different based on technologies and brands, and printing inks and papers alter how colors are reproduced. Cameras record light frequencies, monitors transpose those frequencies into numbers and printers translate the numbers into colored dots and spots. There is unity but not harmony.

Learn more with the Datacolor complimentary Color Management eBook.

Vive la Différence

camera monitor printer - Color Management

Just as foreign languages and international currencies require accurate translation and timely exchange rates, cameras, monitors, and printers interpret colors uniquely. Like both spoken languages and currencies, color reproduction requires an accurate translation of values.

It would be wonderful if all the systems spoke the same visual language, but they simply don’t.

 

World history notes that in 1878 an attempt was made to unify all national languages and adopt a new common language called “Esperanto.” This proposal was initiated by an ophthalmologist named L. L. Zamenhof in an effort to reduce the “time and labor we spend in learning foreign tongues” and to foster harmony between people from different countries.

While the concept is quite noble and though the movement still exists, the monumental undertaking to reduce all spoken languages into a single world language has proven impractical.

Color Management - Color Management

Accurately translating the varied languages of color is a challenge, but one that can be easily handled by adopting a straightforward process. That process is called color management.

The Gray Standard

Every conflict can be resolved when all differences are accurately acknowledged and clearly defined. In the case of color, defined standards have now been established that align the capture, display, and printing processes so that they individually recognize and pledge allegiance to a single corporate “Gray Standard.”

When each stage in the process has been internally aligned to this universal standard and all three processes are linked, then true color consistency is achieved. It really is that simple.

All color issues for all three individual contributions to color reproduction revolve around this single color of neutral gray. The utter simplicity of the concept of color balance is focused on the unbiased and “uncolored” tint of gray. The science of color is based on the fact that all photographic images are recorded as three channels of colored light; red, green, and blue.

Color Wheel Neutral Gray - Color Management

When these three colors are produced (captured, displayed, and published) in equal values, the result is the combined color of neutral (no color cast) gray. Gray is the Holy Grail standard of all color. In the middle of the color wheel, between all the primary (RGB) and secondary (CMY) colors is the color neutral gray.

When this balance is maintained in a color photograph, all colors remain “balanced,” the ultimate goal of color management. While the complexity of the process is immense, the control involves only a three-stage process, and the system itself is quite elegant and simple.

Once your camera recognizes neutral gray, all the other colors in the visible spectrum will be recorded accurately. When your computer monitor is taught how to display this same neutral gray (as well as an extended range of primary and secondary colors), it will display the full range of spectral colors.

While the myriad of print technologies, inks, and papers available today is staggering, all printing devices can be taught to produce quite consistent and pleasing results – all focused on printing a patch of color inks that appear colorless.

Here’s how it all works.

Camera Capture

The first commandment of color photography:

Thou shalt faithfully capture balanced lighting.

Balanced light is all about neutrality; respecting non-color. When the camera recognizes gray, it automatically orients all the other colors in the scene. Color always obeys gray. Items like automobile tires and shadows cast on white buildings are examples of reliably neutral color.

All digital cameras are predisposed to see colors accurately during daylight conditions, generally between 9 am and 4 pm. Under this lighting, any neutral-colored objects are recorded faithfully.

CheckrCapturePro High - Color Management

The light that illuminates each scene influences the colors captured by the camera. But light is always changing. Even natural sunlight changes (color) temperature constantly.

Each time clouds pass overhead the daylight color of 5500°K – 6500°K changes slightly. When alternative light sources are used (incandescent, fluorescent, halogen, etc.), the colors can change drastically, ranging from 2500°K to 6500°K. These measurements are recorded as degrees of Kelvin (K), with the higher numbers recording whiter light.

SCK100 Product SpyderCheckr dooropened highres - Color Management

There are several ways to ensure that colors are captured accurately in the camera. You can utilize the camera presets (daylight, overcast, cloudy, incandescent, flash, fluorescent, etc.), include a reference “gray card” in a target shot for establishing color balance in post-processing, or establishing a custom color balance (also using a gray reference card).

Monitor Profiling

Computer monitors, like TVs, have a mind of their own. There are a variety of video technologies that use ultra-mini RGB pixels in LCD (liquid crystal display), Plasma, LED (light emitting diode) and OLED (organic light emitting diode) flatscreen displays. Each technology delivers light and color uniquely and has their own spectral qualities.

In addition to the delivery systems, individual monitors of the same technology can display colors slightly differently. There is simply no guarantee that your computer monitor will automatically deliver accurate color straight out of the box, and even less so after it ages a bit.

monitor and device - Color Management

But there is a surefire way to tune-up each of these displays so that they will produce accurate color. The tune-up involves a monitor colorimeter device; a mouse-size instrument that analyzes the color of light as it gives the monitor a visual exam.

spyder5 - Color Management

This colorimeter dangles in front of the monitor while special software makes the monitor flash dozens of variations of RGB light on the screen. The device reads the color temperature and intensity of each of these flashes as it records the three-minute light show.

After the show, the software automatically compares the results of the monitor’s performance to a reference table of ideal readouts. This comparison reveals the difference between what the monitor should deliver and what is actually delivered. The two lists are juxtaposed and a visual color personality or “profile” of the monitor is generated.

This profile contains precision adjustments to the normal monitor output and adjusts the monitor’s display signals to compensate for any abnormalities. The monitor’s color “guns” are monitored and adjusted on the fly to deliver color-accurate signals to the display. What once just looked pretty now looks pretty accurate. It’s pretty nifty!

Printer Profiles

Printers face a multitude of variables based on three factors: printing technologies, ink brands, and paper surfaces. Each of these factors has a significant effect on the way colors print.

There are currently three distinct kinds of color printers that can deliver photographic quality results; inkjets, laser printers, and dye-sublimation. Each of these technologies deals with very unique “ink.” I use the word ink loosely because only one of these actually uses ink, as we know it.

Herb Laser vs Inkjet - Color Management

Laser printing toner-based geometric dots (left) versus inkjet stochastic-style liquid ink pattern (right).

Laser printers deal with toner, which is a colored powder that gets fused into the paper. Dye-sublimation overlays dry sheets of variable-density colored dye which get baked on top of each other. Inkjets are the only printers that actually spray microscopic particles of multi-colored liquid ink onto the paper.

The colorants (inks) used by each of these printing devices can be purchased from multiple suppliers and thus the consistency of color from one batch to another is a concern. Paper shades and surfaces also affect the appearance of colors printed on them. Ink tends to sit on top of coated papers but absorbs into the fibers of uncoated papers, which changes the way light reflects from the surface and changes the color saturation values.

Light Refracting - Color Management

For this reason, printer manufacturers usually provide “printer profiles” embedded into the printer drivers (the software that controls the printer when files are sent from the computer).

Ink Surfaces - Color Management

Side view of paper surfaces. The two top dots illustrated here, demonstrate how differently inkjet inks behave when printed on uncoated (top) and coated (middle) papers. The bottom dot shows that laser toner particles are “baked” onto every paper surface.

Printer profiles are color correction “prescriptions” for specific paper and ink combinations. Because printer profiling is a very specialized process requiring specialized equipment, manufacturers usually provide individual profiles for their own brand of papers and inks.

Printer Dialog - Color Management

They test each of their papers and inks for reproduction accuracy and then supply you with the “prescription” color correction files for those papers. When you select the correctly profiled paper from the print driver, the printer generally delivers accurate color.

Here’s how the profiling process works

A special file is sent to the printer containing thousands of very specific color patches that get printed on a specific paper. A very specialized device called a spectrophotometer then reads the patches on the test file. It analyzes the color patches and compares the results to the actual color values.

Profiling software then uses the difference between the two readings to create a profile; a set of instructions that tells the printer how to color correct any image file printed on that paper.

Color Management Simplified

So here’s the bottom line to controlling (managing) the colors in your photographic process.

  1. Camera – Take note of the color of light illuminating your photo scene and set the camera accordingly.
  2. Monitor – Purchase an inexpensive colorimeter device and run a 3-minute tune-up process every 60 days on your computer monitor.
  3. Printer – Take note of the paper you load in your printer and choose the proper profile when you print your pictures.

Color management is a very complicated science, but thanks to some great products and information from Datacolor, controlling that science is pretty simple. All it takes is an awareness of the issues and three simple actions.

Don’t be intimidated by technical information – learn all you need to know from the Datacolor Color Management eBook. Sign up to download the free eBook here. Each dPS reader who signs up for the Datacolor FREE eBook will receive one chapter per month and will be signed up for the Datacolor informational newsletter.

Ebook 580x400 NSA EN

Disclaimer: Datacolor is a paid partner of dPS

The post Color Management Can Be Easy appeared first on Digital Photography School.

5 Rules in Macro Photography and When to Break Them

In any genre of photography, you’re going to be faced with so-called rules, guidelines, or commandments. Macro photography is no exception.

Consider advice such as, “shoot with a narrow aperture,” or “use a uniform background.” You’ve probably heard those time and time again. In fact, I’ve taught most of them, myself!

flower abstract macro photography tulip

While these rules are often useful to beginners, as you become a more advanced photographer, you’ll find times when you need to break all photographic rules. But how do you know when to follow rules, and when to break them?

In this article, I discuss five rules in macro photography, and when they can be discarded. I use examples from my own work so that you are able to see what both following and breaking the rule looks like.

Ultimately, you’ll learn how to break rules in your own macro photography, which will allow you to really take your work to the next level.

flower macro photography gerbera abstract

Rule 1: Use the Rule of Thirds

This is probably the number one most talked about rule in photography, including macro photography. After all, it has the word “rule” in its name!

The rule of thirds is simple: Divide your viewfinder, screen, or LCD into both vertical and horizontal thirds. This creates a grid. The main elements of your composition—horizon lines, leading lines, faces, eyes—should lie somewhere along these lines.

It’s even better if they fall on one of the “power points” of the grid, the place where the lines intersect.

flower macro photography tulip

The place where the stem meets the petals of this tulip lies on a power point.

How does this apply to macro photography?

Often, you’ll be advised to place flower stems along the Rule of Thirds grid. You’ll be told to place flower centers along the power points of the image. The same goes for insects and leaves.

The points of focus should fall on the power points of the composition, you’ll be told.

flower macro photography dahlia close up

The center of this dahlia is positioned at one of the power points on the Rule of Thirds grid.

This is often great advice. The Rule of Thirds has been used for centuries and generally results in very pleasing compositions. But sometimes it’s best to break out of this mold and get something a bit edgier, a bit more unique.

When should you break the rule?

Let me tell you about two scenarios when I like to break the Rule of Thirds.

The first instance you should break the rule is when you have a symmetrical subject. Symmetry can be very powerful, and it’s usually best emphasized by putting the point of symmetry (the place around which the image is symmetrical) in the dead center of the image.

flower macro photography dahlia symmetry

The second time you might choose to break the Rule of Thirds is when you want to have a more spacious, off-balance image.

I like to place my main subject at the very top or bottom of the image and leave tons of negative space in the center and at the top. This can produce a minimalist feeling, one that I really love.

flower macro photography grape hyacinth - negative space

Rule 2: Keep it Simple

Another common macro photography rule is to keep your compositions simple.

You should have one point of focus, no distracting elements, a clean and straightforward image. Indeed, this is often wise. Random chaos takes away from the main subject and causes the viewer to become confused.

flower macro photography tulip simple one subject

However, more controlled chaos might be just the thing you need to create a unique image.

I like to use controlled chaos when I’m faced with a complex scene. Many overlapping flowers, for instance, are great subjects for a more chaotic image.

The key is to make sure that there is a main subject that stands out and remains as a point of focus. At the same time, it’s okay to let the background or foreground get a bit messy, as long as it complements the main subject.

flower macro photography chaos in composition

The flower on the left creates order in an otherwise messy composition.

For instance, you might have a background with colors that match the main subject. Alternatively, your background might include some flashy lights or brightly colored bokeh.

Just make sure that you keep the eye focused. It’s a fine line between having a complex but controlled image and making a big mess.

Rule 3: Have a Single Point of Focus

Macro photographers are often told to compose with a single point of focus in mind. That means something that the eye can focus on. This rule is especially relevant because I suggested that you use it in the tip above!

flower macro photography peony single subject

Notice how the eye is drawn straight to the center of this peony.

However, while there is a time and a place for this rule, there are also times when it should be broken.

For instance, when faced with a noticeable pattern among leaves or flowers or ferns, it is sometimes better to think less in terms of a point of focus, and more in terms of the image as a whole. Try to emphasize the pattern, and let the eye follow it through the image.

flower macro photography focus

There may not be one point of focus, but the image will remain pleasing.

Rule 4: Have a Uniform Background

Uniform backgrounds are especially emphasized in macro photography. Macro photographers will often shoot on a completely black or pure white background for this very reason.

The rule makes sense – the more uniform the background, the less distracting it is. I use it often myself.

flower macro photography tulip pink and green

However, this is a rule that I also often break. Why?

To be frank, uniform backgrounds can be boring. More colorful uniform backgrounds are better. I find a uniform gold or orange to be the most pleasing, but sometimes even that isn’t enough.

flower macro photography grape hyacinth background colors

To take your macro photography to the next level, try looking for complementary backgrounds. In other words, backgrounds that offer a bit of substance while enhancing the main subject.

One trick is to place a second subject just behind the first. Choose an aperture that keeps the second subject slightly out of focus, but yet still recognizable.

flower macro photography tulip light and airy image

Another trick is to shoot towards the sun, so that you get creative flare effects and beautiful highlights.

flower macro photography red poppy

But be careful: you don’t want to go from uniform to messy. The key word is “complementary.”

Rule 5: Make Sure the Whole Subject is Sharp

I’ve saved the most interesting rule for last. It’s a fairly simple one. Just make sure that your subject is completely sharp.

If you’re shooting a butterfly, make sure that it is sharp from edge to edge. When you’re shooting a flower, make sure that it’s sharp from the tip of the front petal to the edge of the back petal.

If you can’t get the entire subject sharp, the rule advises that you should get as much in focus as possible. This is done by narrowing the aperture. It’s common for macro photographers to shoot in the f/8 and beyond range.

Me? I rarely venture past f/7.1. In this sense, I’m a bit of a rebel.

Of course, I recognize that there is a time and a place for images that are sharp throughout the frame. But that is one particular aesthetic, and there are other looks that you can achieve by widening the aperture and shooting in the f/2.8 to f/7.1 range.

flower macro photography bleeding heart

This is how macro photographers produce that “dreamy” feeling in their images.

Use a wide aperture. You work at higher magnifications and manually focus on a recognizable part of your subject; a leaf or the edge of a petal.

flower macro photography aster

Then you shoot and come away with an image that is barely sharp, but for some people is very pleasing.

Conclusion

Macro photography rules (or photographic rules in general) can be very useful, especially for beginners. However, as the saying goes, rules are made to be broken.

By breaking the rules discussed above—that is, by breaking the Rule of Thirds, by creating more complex, chaotic compositions, and by focusing only on a small part of the subject—you’ll come away with more unique images.

flower macro abstract photography grape hyacinth

Know any other macro photography rules that you like to break? Please share them in the comment area below.

The post 5 Rules in Macro Photography and When to Break Them appeared first on Digital Photography School.

5 Rules in Macro Photography and When to Break Them

In any genre of photography, you’re going to be faced with so-called rules, guidelines, or commandments. Macro photography is no exception.

Consider advice such as, “shoot with a narrow aperture,” or “use a uniform background.” You’ve probably heard those time and time again. In fact, I’ve taught most of them, myself!

flower abstract macro photography tulip

While these rules are often useful to beginners, as you become a more advanced photographer, you’ll find times when you need to break all photographic rules. But how do you know when to follow rules, and when to break them?

In this article, I discuss five rules in macro photography, and when they can be discarded. I use examples from my own work so that you are able to see what both following and breaking the rule looks like.

Ultimately, you’ll learn how to break rules in your own macro photography, which will allow you to really take your work to the next level.

flower macro photography gerbera abstract

Rule 1: Use the Rule of Thirds

This is probably the number one most talked about rule in photography, including macro photography. After all, it has the word “rule” in its name!

The rule of thirds is simple: Divide your viewfinder, screen, or LCD into both vertical and horizontal thirds. This creates a grid. The main elements of your composition—horizon lines, leading lines, faces, eyes—should lie somewhere along these lines.

It’s even better if they fall on one of the “power points” of the grid, the place where the lines intersect.

flower macro photography tulip

The place where the stem meets the petals of this tulip lies on a power point.

How does this apply to macro photography?

Often, you’ll be advised to place flower stems along the Rule of Thirds grid. You’ll be told to place flower centers along the power points of the image. The same goes for insects and leaves.

The points of focus should fall on the power points of the composition, you’ll be told.

flower macro photography dahlia close up

The center of this dahlia is positioned at one of the power points on the Rule of Thirds grid.

This is often great advice. The Rule of Thirds has been used for centuries and generally results in very pleasing compositions. But sometimes it’s best to break out of this mold and get something a bit edgier, a bit more unique.

When should you break the rule?

Let me tell you about two scenarios when I like to break the Rule of Thirds.

The first instance you should break the rule is when you have a symmetrical subject. Symmetry can be very powerful, and it’s usually best emphasized by putting the point of symmetry (the place around which the image is symmetrical) in the dead center of the image.

flower macro photography dahlia symmetry

The second time you might choose to break the Rule of Thirds is when you want to have a more spacious, off-balance image.

I like to place my main subject at the very top or bottom of the image and leave tons of negative space in the center and at the top. This can produce a minimalist feeling, one that I really love.

flower macro photography grape hyacinth - negative space

Rule 2: Keep it Simple

Another common macro photography rule is to keep your compositions simple.

You should have one point of focus, no distracting elements, a clean and straightforward image. Indeed, this is often wise. Random chaos takes away from the main subject and causes the viewer to become confused.

flower macro photography tulip simple one subject

However, more controlled chaos might be just the thing you need to create a unique image.

I like to use controlled chaos when I’m faced with a complex scene. Many overlapping flowers, for instance, are great subjects for a more chaotic image.

The key is to make sure that there is a main subject that stands out and remains as a point of focus. At the same time, it’s okay to let the background or foreground get a bit messy, as long as it complements the main subject.

flower macro photography chaos in composition

The flower on the left creates order in an otherwise messy composition.

For instance, you might have a background with colors that match the main subject. Alternatively, your background might include some flashy lights or brightly colored bokeh.

Just make sure that you keep the eye focused. It’s a fine line between having a complex but controlled image and making a big mess.

Rule 3: Have a Single Point of Focus

Macro photographers are often told to compose with a single point of focus in mind. That means something that the eye can focus on. This rule is especially relevant because I suggested that you use it in the tip above!

flower macro photography peony single subject

Notice how the eye is drawn straight to the center of this peony.

However, while there is a time and a place for this rule, there are also times when it should be broken.

For instance, when faced with a noticeable pattern among leaves or flowers or ferns, it is sometimes better to think less in terms of a point of focus, and more in terms of the image as a whole. Try to emphasize the pattern, and let the eye follow it through the image.

flower macro photography focus

There may not be one point of focus, but the image will remain pleasing.

Rule 4: Have a Uniform Background

Uniform backgrounds are especially emphasized in macro photography. Macro photographers will often shoot on a completely black or pure white background for this very reason.

The rule makes sense – the more uniform the background, the less distracting it is. I use it often myself.

flower macro photography tulip pink and green

However, this is a rule that I also often break. Why?

To be frank, uniform backgrounds can be boring. More colorful uniform backgrounds are better. I find a uniform gold or orange to be the most pleasing, but sometimes even that isn’t enough.

flower macro photography grape hyacinth background colors

To take your macro photography to the next level, try looking for complementary backgrounds. In other words, backgrounds that offer a bit of substance while enhancing the main subject.

One trick is to place a second subject just behind the first. Choose an aperture that keeps the second subject slightly out of focus, but yet still recognizable.

flower macro photography tulip light and airy image

Another trick is to shoot towards the sun, so that you get creative flare effects and beautiful highlights.

flower macro photography red poppy

But be careful: you don’t want to go from uniform to messy. The key word is “complementary.”

Rule 5: Make Sure the Whole Subject is Sharp

I’ve saved the most interesting rule for last. It’s a fairly simple one. Just make sure that your subject is completely sharp.

If you’re shooting a butterfly, make sure that it is sharp from edge to edge. When you’re shooting a flower, make sure that it’s sharp from the tip of the front petal to the edge of the back petal.

If you can’t get the entire subject sharp, the rule advises that you should get as much in focus as possible. This is done by narrowing the aperture. It’s common for macro photographers to shoot in the f/8 and beyond range.

Me? I rarely venture past f/7.1. In this sense, I’m a bit of a rebel.

Of course, I recognize that there is a time and a place for images that are sharp throughout the frame. But that is one particular aesthetic, and there are other looks that you can achieve by widening the aperture and shooting in the f/2.8 to f/7.1 range.

flower macro photography bleeding heart

This is how macro photographers produce that “dreamy” feeling in their images.

Use a wide aperture. You work at higher magnifications and manually focus on a recognizable part of your subject; a leaf or the edge of a petal.

flower macro photography aster

Then you shoot and come away with an image that is barely sharp, but for some people is very pleasing.

Conclusion

Macro photography rules (or photographic rules in general) can be very useful, especially for beginners. However, as the saying goes, rules are made to be broken.

By breaking the rules discussed above—that is, by breaking the Rule of Thirds, by creating more complex, chaotic compositions, and by focusing only on a small part of the subject—you’ll come away with more unique images.

flower macro abstract photography grape hyacinth

Know any other macro photography rules that you like to break? Please share them in the comment area below.

The post 5 Rules in Macro Photography and When to Break Them appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Wedding Photography Tip – 3 Ways to Tame a Bridezilla

One of the most terrifying things in wedding photography is a bridezilla. You’ve likely read the stories of photographer’s careers being ruined by an impossible to please bride. Of course, this is a worst case scenario and fears become heightened by the bridezillas you see on TV.

“I think of photography like therapy.” – Harry Gruyaert

But it’s normal for photographers to encounter some level of bridezilla behavior. The question is how to deal with it.

I’ve learned from photographers like Joe McNally, Zack Arias, and Jasmine Star that it’s our job as photographers to make great photos – no matter what.

So if you’re faced with a bridezilla (or any overwhelming person) at any point in your career you simply need to know how to handle them. Here are 3 ways you can do that.

bride in a pond - Wedding Photography Tip - 3 Ways to Tame a Bridezilla

This was one of the most laid back and down to earth brides I’ve photographed. Hard-working, yet easy going and ready to have fun every step of the way. Unlike some brides, she learned to handle the stress of a wedding very well.

1. Understand

“You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.” – Ansel Adams

Even the most difficult situations become easier to deal with when you understand what’s going on.

The truth is, most bridezillas never actually wanted to become bridezillas. So why do some brides act like that? Major changes in your life come with stress. Marriage comes with one of the highest levels of stress. In addition to the stress, there is also decision fatigue, personal baggage, and pre-wedding depression.

Maybe the question should be why there aren’t more bridezillas!

portrait of a couple on a truck - Wedding Photography Tip - 3 Ways to Tame a Bridezilla

This photo was taken at golden hour. The unique shape of the sun flare was caused by moisture on the camera lens. There was a mist in the air that led to the surprising effect.

They don’t start out as Bridezillas. Not long ago she was living a normal life as somebody’s girlfriend. Then in the blink of an eye, her entire life changed as she became engaged.

When you put a person in a dramatic situation, you find out how much they can take before they crumble under the pressure. Planning a wedding provides more than enough stress and drama to make a person blow up.

Everybody reaches a threshold of how much stress they can handle. And for a variety of personal reasons some brides reach that threshold on or before their wedding day.

Bridezillas are people like you and me who have discovered what it takes to make them break.

couple seen under a tunnel - Wedding Photography Tip - 3 Ways to Tame a Bridezilla

This photo was taken from in the water. The couple was sitting on an abandoned train bridge. I thought the tunnel would make a good frame for the photo, so into the water I went.

2. Anticipate

“When there are other limitations, I don’t let myself be a limitation.” – Fer Juaristi

There is more than enough time leading up to the wedding day to anticipate who might become a bridezilla.

You can almost guarantee that if a bride comes from a happy family and she handles stress well then she isn’t going to become a bridezilla. But if her life is filled with stress and chaos and she doesn’t handle it well, there is going to be trouble on her wedding day!

couple on the back of a truck - Wedding Photography Tip - 3 Ways to Tame a Bridezilla

Engagement sessions are a perfect chance to get to know the bride and groom. Take time to see how they are handling the stress and find out if there are ways you can help.

When I meet with a couple who is interested in having me as their wedding photographer, I ask questions that let me know what sort of temperament the couple has.

Ask about their vision for the wedding. Then ask what would ruin the wedding for them. I had great fun with a couple who insisted that even if a tornado came along and they had to move the wedding to a basement shelter, they still wouldn’t care because their family is what means everything to them. The dress, flowers, and the decor were all secondary.

Ask other questions like, “What simply must be perfect?” or “What is your biggest fear for the day?” and “What would totally ruin your wedding day?”

Ask how quickly her emotions change to the negative and what cheers her up most in life.

couple on a bridge with a river flowing - Wedding Photography Tip - 3 Ways to Tame a Bridezilla

This photo was created using a slow shutter speed (about 2 seconds).

If a bride tells me that the most important thing to her is that she has a perfect Pinterest wedding, I know there could be trouble.

There are enough problems with the dress, flowers, and decor to drive anybody crazy. If the bride is anxious and disagreeable, to begin with, planing her perfect Pinterest wedding will drive her nuts. She’s a perfect candidate to become a bridezilla.

bride in funky socks - Wedding Photography Tip - 3 Ways to Tame a Bridezilla

When the bride is wearing fun socks and cowboy boots, you know she’s not overly stressed about the details.

Being a wedding photographer means knowing how to work with people. So if you can’t handle the stress of working with a bridezilla, you should politely decline weddings when you think there is a good chance she’ll become one. Let her know you don’t think you’re the best photographer to help her have a perfect wedding.

3. Encourage

“It is more important to click with people than to click the shutter.” – Alfred Eisenstaedt

If you understand the things that lead to bridezilla behavior, and you’re happy with the challenge of working with one then good for you! You could actually help her get through her wedding day without baring her teeth and lower her stress level.

The truth is, most bridezillas don’t enjoy being bridezillas. You can’t help the ones who enjoy it. But you can help the ones who are afraid of becoming a bridezilla.

bride spinning on the dance floor - Wedding Photography Tip - 3 Ways to Tame a Bridezilla

Weddings can be an exhausting journey, not just for the photographer who works all day, but for the family who has worked for months or years to get to this day.

If she’s open to having help, you can assist her in setting goals, seeing the big picture and embracing what is truly important about her wedding day.

Find out what’s bugging her the most and share stories about other couples who have dealt successfully with these things. That way you’re not just pushing your opinion on her, but sharing stories of real people who found a way not to crumble under pressure. You can even publish these stories on your wedding photography blog.

Help her see her goal and what is truly important to her. Help her pivot around obstacles, and there will be less of a chance of her crumbling under the pressure of her wedding day.

No matter what you do, be the one who helps, not somebody who makes it worse.

wedding couple kissing - Wedding Photography Tip - 3 Ways to Tame a Bridezilla

When a wedding is done right, the bride and groom are still excited and energized at the end of the day.

Happily Ever After

“If a photographer cares about the people before the lens and is compassionate, much is given. It is the photographer, not the camera, that is the instrument.” – Eve Arnold

No photographer wants to photograph a bridezilla. No bride wants to be a bridezilla.

You can surpass a bride’s expectations of you as a photographer by understanding her situation and being the most flexible, helpful, encouraging person on her wedding day.

All it takes is one good friend to be a calming presence amidst stress and anxiety to help a bride not turn into a bridezilla. This person could be you.

The post Wedding Photography Tip – 3 Ways to Tame a Bridezilla appeared first on Digital Photography School.

The First 10 Things You Need to Buy After Your Camera for Travel Photography

You’ve just splashed out a vast sum of money on a shiny new camera to do amazing travel photography, but what’s next? There are so many different lenses, accessories, and even filters to choose from. Most people would not be able to afford to buy everything they need in one go. So what should you buy first?

Fear not, here is a simple guide on what to purchase, and in what order, after you have bought a new camera.

photo on the back of a DSLR camera - The First 10 Things You Need to Buy After Your Camera for Travel Photography

1. Lens

It may seem pretty obvious but you won’t be able to do much without a lens for your camera, so naturally, this should be the first purchase.

But the lens you choose will impact on the quality of your photos. For travel photography, you will be able to get away with only using one lens most of the time so try to buy the best lens that you can afford. Look for something that has a good focal length range and is fairly fast.

Something like a 24-70mm lens will often mean you can get 95% of the shots that you would take.

24-70mm and 70-200mm lenses - The First 10 Things You Need to Buy After Your Camera for Travel Photography

Left: 24-70mm f/2.8. Right: 70-200mm f/2.8 lens.

2. Memory Cards

The next vital purchase is at least one memory card to be able to store your photos.

Again this is something that is worth spending a little more money on in order to buy a higher capacity memory card. If you are going to be shooting in RAW format (which you should be doing) then your file sizes will be large. This means memory cards can fill up pretty quickly. Something like a 32gb or 64gb memory card should usually last a few days, depending on what you’re shooting.

Whether you buy more will come down to your budget. Using one card will mean that you have to clear your memory cards each day or every few days. So if you can afford a couple more, it will be worth the investment.

CF memory cards in a case - The First 10 Things You Need to Buy After Your Camera for Travel Photography

3. UV Filter

A UV filter might seem like an unnecessary expense, but the real benefit of buying one is to protect your lens’s glass.

They are pretty cheap to buy compared to having to repair a lens so consider getting one straight away. I fit every one of my lenses with a UV filter the day that it comes out of the box.

Canon L-series lens with a UV filter fitted on the front. The First 10 Things You Need to Buy After Your Camera for Travel Photography

Canon L-series lens with a UV filter fitted on the front

4. Tripod

Most travel photographers would put a tripod at the top of the list of their accessories. This is with good reason. If you want to capture the best possible photos at the best possible time of the day a tripod is a must.

During low light conditions, you simply will not be able to hold a camera steady enough to take a sharp photo. The only way will be to raise your ISO which will in turn mean noise in your final shot.

But it’s also worth investing in a good tripod rather than something that is cheap and flimsy. I always find it astonishing when I see people with expensive cameras using poor quality tripods. Not only are poor quality tripods subject to vibrations which cause camera shake and blurred photos, but they are putting their expensive camera at risk of falling over.

So, always look to buy a good quality tripod that can support the weight of your DSLR.

camera on a tripod overlooking a landscape scene - The First 10 Things You Need to Buy After Your Camera for Travel Photography

5. Camera Bag

Over time most photographers will end up with a collection of different bags for different scenarios. For example, a long hike will require a bigger bag, whereas day to day, you will need something more compact.

But most people can certainly get by with one bag to start off with so look for something that you can use day to day. I would always recommend buying a day backpack as a first camera bag as opposed to a top-loader or sling bag.

Look for one that is carry-on approved as you should always take you camera equipment on board rather than checking it in when you’re flying. It’s also worth buying one that you can strap your tripod to and has space for a laptop.

There are so many choices out there so do your research and even test them out at your local camera store before buying one. It’s an important purchase that will not only keep your camera equipment safe, but also mean carrying things in comfort.

camera bag full of gear - The First 10 Things You Need to Buy After Your Camera for Travel Photography

6. Graduated Neutral Density Filters

Once you’ve purchased the above items it’s time to start building up an inventory of the more specialized things you might need.

Graduated Neutral Density filters are incredibly useful anytime you are photographing at sunrise or sunset. They help to even out the light across your image when you are faced with one area being too bright (the sky) and another area being dark (the foreground).

They will generally come as a glass rectangle that fits onto the front of a lens with an adaptor. There are also screw-in versions (like traditional polarizing or UV filters) but frankly, they are a poor substitute in my opinion.

There are a whole range of brands and options and buying a complete set can work out to be pretty expensive. But you will find them incredibly useful and use them for years.

Canon camera with filter on the lens - The First 10 Things You Need to Buy After Your Camera for Travel Photography

7. Polarizing Filter

The next thing that you should look to purchase is a polarizing filter. Primarily used for suppressing glare or reflections these little screw-in filters can be really useful when photographing water, metallic objects, or even glass (like shop windows).

They also have the added benefit of darkening blues and greens which makes them very useful for landscape and travel photography. Like most photographic items you are better off purchasing a better quality version rather than cheap alternatives that can have a detrimental effect on the sharpness of the image.

beach scene tropical location - The First 10 Things You Need to Buy After Your Camera for Travel Photography

Use a polarizing filter to darken the sky to a rich blue like in this image.

8. Neutral Density Filters

Whereas Graduated ND filters are used for darkening part of the image, these filters can darken the whole scene. They are essentially a square or rectangular piece of glass that come in different darkness levels (representing the same effect as stopping down you aperture).

You might be wandering when you will ever need to darken the scene? Well, for example, if you are photographing water during the day you could use a Neutral Density filter to help you capture a smooth moving water effect. Or cloud movements in the sky.

Again a full set of these filters can be expensive so build up your collection slowly over time.

waterfall and a river flowing - The First 10 Things You Need to Buy After Your Camera for Travel Photography

9. Spare Batteries

While most people can get by with one battery, it’s always worth having a spare. The last thing you would want is to run out of power mid-way through a shoot.

Keep in mind that long exposure photography will drain your battery more quickly than photographing during the day. So if you are going to be doing a lot of this kind of photography or if you’re heading to a remote place with no electricity, this item may move up on your priority list.

I tend to travel with around six batteries in total and charge the ones I have used each night.

camera batteries - The First 10 Things You Need to Buy After Your Camera for Travel Photography

10. GorillaPod

It could be argued that a cable release should be on this list, but as you can use your camera’s timer instead, I feel a GorillaPod will be a better purchase.

The great thing about these small bendy tripods is that they will often draw less attention than a regular one. So in places where tripods are not allowed, you might get away with a GorillaPod. The other great thing about them is that you can set them up on tables, which makes them great for food photography on the go.

Just make sure that the GorillaPod you select can support the weight of your camera and not collapse.

gorillapod - The First 10 Things You Need to Buy After Your Camera for Travel Photography

Conclusion

There you have the 10 items that you should buy in order after you’ve purchased your camera. There will always be exceptions and you might need to tweak this order for your needs. Building your camera and accessories collection up is expensive, so the key is to plan out your purchases in order and take your time.

What do you think? Have I missed anything? Anything you would swap with the 10 on the list? Share your answers below.

The post The First 10 Things You Need to Buy After Your Camera for Travel Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Tips for Culling Your Photos – How to Throw Away the Worst and Concentrate on the Winners

Can you happily throw away your worst images and concentrate on your winners? Are you confident culling your photos to find the best?

I know many photographers struggle to cull their photos after coming back home from an enjoyable photo session. It can be effortless to create hundreds of images from a photo session you are immersed in. But feeling buried by a mountain of new photos to post-process can be discouraging.

The key to breaking free of this dilemma is to discern which of the photos are worth keeping, which are the best, and which to throw out. To do this you need a method, a good healthy workflow. Possessing a positive attitude will be a considerable help too.

I use Adobe Lightroom to import and cull my images and I will refer to it during this article. The workflow I am sharing can be utilized with any similar software.

woman catching a pumpkin - Tips for Culling Your Photos

Start by Seeing Your Best

Creative people often excel at being negative when it comes to their own creations. How many times have you heard musicians tell you they are not practiced enough to perform? Or friends who paint tell you they don’t have the confidence to complete a canvas they are working on?

It is quite typical of creatives to be too hard on themselves.

When you first load your images from a new photo session be purposefully positive. Don’t let yourself get sucked into negative thoughts. Start looking for the best photos in a series you have made, not the worst.

Take some time to scan through and get an overview of your new pictures. Look for the ones which excite you and mark them. You can use a flag, color or star rating.

Buddhist monk making art - Tips for Culling Your Photos

Take Out the Worst

You will usually have some photos which are clearly not usable. It is best to remove these from your workspace right at the start.

The most common problems not able to be fixed are:

  • Poor focus
  • Bad timing
  • Very poor exposure
  • Unwanted image blur

Bad focus

You cannot fix poor focus in post-production. If you have a photo that is not sharp where it really needs to be, delete it. It is not worth keeping. Some amount of sharpening can be applied but is only somewhat effective on photos which are slightly out of focus.

monk making pressed metal art - Tips for Culling Your Photos

This one gets deleted. It is not focused.

Very poor exposure

Working with RAW files produced by a modern camera, the images need to be really over or underexposed before I throw them out. You must know your camera and your own post-processing skills. Still, if the exposure is way off, delete it.

Unwanted blur

Sometimes we want blur in a photo. That nice silky look waterfall. The bicycle rider passing. The people walking by in the market. When you have motion blur because your subject moved or your camera has moved, delete those images.

Occasionally you can still make something of an image like that. Not by fixing it, but rethinking it and applying some careful post-processing, but not often.

Bad timing

Maybe someone has walked in front of your camera just as you took a photo. Perhaps the bird you were photographing had already flown out of frame. Many things can happen like this that means you have missed the shot or the decisive moment. Delete them.

Pumpkin Store at the Market - Tips for Culling Your Photos

Poor timing makes this photo unusable.

Don’t Want to Delete?

If you are nervous about deleting photos at first, you can just hide them. I use the flags to determine which images I see and which I do not.

In Lightroom when you are in Grid view in the Library Module with the filter bar showing at the top, click on Attributes at the top of the window. If you then click on the black flag to turn it off all the images you apply a black flag to (rejected) will be hidden from view. To quickly apply a black flag to an image, select it and hit the X key to mark it as rejected.

You can bring the hidden black flagged images back into view by turning on the black flag in the Attributes bar.

Once I have am confident I want to delete my flagged images I turn off the other two flags in the Attribute bar. With only the images I have flagged as rejected showing, I select them all and hit the Delete key and delete them from my disk.

NOTE: Lightroom will give you the option of just removing them from the program or deleting from your hard drive as well – I do the latter, but make note they will be gone forever so make sure you have the right images before hitting delete.

Screen Grab for Black Flag - Tips for Culling Your Photos

Use the grid view, Attributes and flags to help your workflow.

Select Similar Images

Now begin to work through to separate out the best of your photos. Many photographers will take multiple frames of whatever they are photographing. This results in too many images that are really similar. To deal with these, it is good to compare them to each other.

Do this by selecting four to six images and hitting the N key. The selected images will be displayed and the others will be hidden from view. You can now begin to compare your similar images. Using this method it is much easier to concentrate on the qualities of the photos and decide which ones are better than others. Look for similarities and differences in each frame.

Maybe your timing is noticeably better in one than the others. Maybe your composition was a little different or more interesting in one over another. Narrowing down your options as you go will help you see the stronger images more easily.

To do this, keep using the X key to flag the photos as rejects (note: do not do this using the comparison N view as it will tag them all at the same time) so they become hidden. Once you have only one photo in view, press the G key to take you back to Grid view. Now you can select more photos and repeat the process. I sometimes keep the best image from my last selection to compare with three or five other images in the series.

lightroom thumbnails - Tips for Culling Your Photos

Select similar images (use ctrl+click) and the N key to view only the images you have selected.

lightroom compare images side by side - Tips for Culling Your Photos

Look for Strengths in Your Photos

Choose photos which are well-exposed and well composed. Look at your backgrounds. Are there unwanted distractions which will be too difficult to remove? If so, use the X key.

Do you have one or two where your exposure is bang on? These will be potential keepers. Using the P key will mark them with a white flag (as a Pick). You could also use colors or star ratings (from 1-5) to mark your favorites.

Focused Monk - Tips for Culling Your Photos

In this frame, the monk was well focused (pun intended)

Find the photos that make you feel good. Narrow down your selection step by step.

By making comparisons with a small selection it should be less vexing than with all your photos showing at once. You will be more confident to come to recognize your best work using this method. If you are more randomly browsing through hundreds of photos at one time you are less likely to find your best photos as easily.

The post Tips for Culling Your Photos – How to Throw Away the Worst and Concentrate on the Winners appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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