Weekly Photography Challenge – Wrinkles

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

This week’s photography challenge topic is WRINKLES!

Your photos can include anything has wrinkles. It could be wrinkles on an animal, aging lines on a face or hands, wrinkles in clothing or sheets, wrinkles in paper, etc. They can be color, black and white, moody or bright. You get the picture. Have fun, and I look forward to seeing what you come up with!

Some Inst-piration from some Instagrammers:


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A post shared by Prime Pet Photography (@prime_pet_photography) on


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A post shared by Peter O’Doherty (@irishphotographer1) on


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A post shared by Martin Covey (@goodbye.1979) on


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A post shared by B (@easy__britt) on


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A post shared by Freya Stockman (@shotsbyfreya) on


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A post shared by hegde_photography (@photography_hegde) on


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

Tips for Shooting WRINKLES

How To Easily Improve Your Street Photography Portraits

Tips for Creative Plant Photography

Tips for Better Forest Photography

26 Expressive Images of Hands

How to Pose Hands in Portraits

Five Tips for Creative Pet Photography

Tips for Great Lighting for Pet Photography


Weekly Photography Challenge – WRINKLES

Simply upload your shot into the comment field (look for the little camera icon in the Disqus comments section) and they’ll get embedded for us all to see or if you’d prefer, upload them to your favorite photo-sharing site and leave the link to them. Show me your best images in this week’s challenge.

Share in the dPS Facebook Group

You can also share your images in the dPS Facebook group as the challenge is posted there each week as well.

If you tag your photos on Flickr, Instagram, Twitter or other sites – tag them as #DPSwrinkles to help others find them. Linking back to this page might also help others know what you’re doing so that they can share in the fun.

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

The Basics of Simulating Vintage Film in Lightroom

The post The Basics of Simulating Vintage Film in Lightroom appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Adam Welch.

Like all forms of art, photography can be a complex and contradictory medium. It’s straightforward yet complicated; personal but at the same time wholly based in exhibitionism. In recent years perhaps the weirdest and paradoxical event to happen in the world of photography is the idea of simulating film photographs with our digital photography. Think about it for a second or two. We’ve moved (for the majority) from using physical photographic film to digital sensors, and still, we are searching for the feel and aesthetic quality of the very process we left behind.

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A digital photo split toned for yellow in the shadows and blue in the highlights. Faded and then finally grain added to approximately simulate ISO 800 film.

We’ll leave the discussion of the currently popular “analog renaissance” for another day. For now, let’s talk about how you can go about simulating the look of a photographic film. More specifically, creating vintage or expired film looks using Adobe Lightroom. Adobe has made a couple of big updates to Lightroom lately that make working towards that “vintage film look” more effective and easier than ever before! Simulating the look of any film consists of four core dimensions: color, contrast, and grain. Before we get into the “how” of simulating film in Lightroom, let’s first briefly talk about some of the confusion surrounding film photography in general.

Film photography is full of variables

There’s a misconception that the look of film is set in stone; meaning that “XXX type of film always looks like this and XXXX type of film always looks like this.” Nothing could be further from the truth! There are all kinds of factors which play a roll (film humor) in how the final negative or print appears to the viewer.


A Nikon F3 35mm film camera. Shot with a digital camera…made to look like a vintage film. Ironic.

The age of the film, how it was stored, type and temperature of chemicals used in development, the duration of development, even how we agitate the chemicals around the film all play a major part in how the finished film appears. Also, when it comes to the final print, there are even more variables that can affect the look of the picture. The reason I’m saying all of this is to make sure you understand that simulating the look of vintage films has just as much to do with your creativity as it does with understanding the basics of how film works. There is no explicit right or wrong! So relax and let’s get to work learning how to simulate the look of vintage film in Lightroom.


Color is the most effective part of the simulation process and there are many routes we can take to manipulate the colors of our vintage film simulations. The “vintage look” comes about literally by the progression of time. As the light-sensitive emulsion of the film degrades, it produces all sorts of funky color tones and nuances. To simulate this effect of color aging, we will use the tried and true Split Toning Panel and also one of the biggest and newest features to come along for Lightroom: Creative Profiles.

Split Toning

Don’t worry, split toning can look a little intimidating but it’s really not! Split toning is just a way for us to add in specific color tones to the shadows and highlights within our photo.


To change the color tone of the highlights move the highlights color slider to the color tone you like or select it from the color palette.


You can also change the saturation of the highlight colors by using the saturation slider. The same goes for the color toning of the shadows as well.

The balance slider is just a way for us to control the bias of the split toning to favor either the highlights or the shadows. Moving the balance slider towards the left makes the shadow toning more prominent while sliding it to the right makes the highlight color stand out. There are limitless combinations of colors and saturation balances so feel free to experiment. Just remember that using complementary colors for the shadows and highlights (blue and orange, yellow and violet) are always a good choice when it comes to split toning. Also, color changes in an expired film are usually quite subtle so keep that in mind as well as your tone.

Creative Profiles

One of the coolest and most versatile new features to come along for Lightroom recently is the introduction of “Creative Profiles.” Profiles have long been a part of Lightroom, but now we have the option to apply our own custom profiles that we’ve either bought or made ourselves. To learn more about the full power of Adobe’s Creative Profiles check out another one of my articles here. For our purposes, Creative Profiles allow us to introduce color grading to our vintage film simulations.


The great things about creative profiles are that they apply themselves without disrupting any of your development settings. What’s more, you can dial in the strength of the profile using the density slider. Being able to use controllable color grading with creative profiles not only opens up a whole new world when it comes to simulating vintage film but in all areas of your post-processing workflow.


Unlike color, simulating the contrast of vintage film in Lightroom is more or less a straightforward idea. Generally, as the emulsion of a photographic film ages its contrast usually decreases. This is due to the breakdown of the light sensitivity of the film.

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A 4×5 large format negative

The amount of contrast lost depends on a number of things such as the age of the film, the way it was stored, and the actual type of the film itself. The take away from this is that a good guideline for vintage film simulations is to essentially “fade” the image by decreasing its contrast. You can achieve this in a few ways. The most simple being to use the contrast slider to lessen the contrast. However, there’s a more precise and arguably more appealing way to fade the photo; by using the tone curve.


To decrease the contrast and ultimately simulate the fading of an image all we need to do is take the control point at the bottom left of the tone curve and move it directly upwards. This controls the luminance values of the darks in the photo and makes those areas appear lighter which in turn makes them less contrasted. In most cases, you’ll want to add at least one more control point to the right of the one you’re adjusting and pull the rest of the tone curve back down. Of course, this is completely subjective. Feel free to add other control points and play around with the tone curve to really control the way your fades appear within your photo. Remember, there is no correct amount of fading so experiment as much as you like!



The final facet of our vintage film simulation routine is to add in and control simulated grain to our photos. Not to be confused with digital noise, film grain is a direct result of the visibility of the individual silver crystals present in the films light-sensitive emulsion. The more/larger the crystals which present in the emulsion, the more sensitive the film to light and the higher it’s ISO rating. While the overall appearance of grain depends on a vast array of variables, a general rule is that the higher the ISO of the film the more pronounced the film grain becomes. So if you are attempting to make your simulations appear as a highly light-sensitive film such as ISO 1200 or ISO 3200, the more grain needs to be added to your simulations. If you are shooting for a lower ISO film for your vintage film simulation, say an ISO 80 or ISO 100 speed, you add less grain or even none at all. Here’s an image from a medium speed expired 35mm film, Kodak Tri-X 400. It was developed at a higher temperature and agitated quite a bit to bring out more of the grain.


To control the presence of the grain we add in Lightroom we are presented with three sliders: amount, roughness and size.


When you think about each of these sliders, it’s easy to visualize how they affect your image if you imagine them as physically controlling characteristics of the light-sensitive silver crystals of the film’s emulsion. The Amount slider would add in more or less crystals. Roughness is how raised or bumpy those crystals appear. Lastly, the Size slider controls how large or small those crystals seem. I know…that might still be a little confusing. So I’ve made up a quick guide for adding in your grain and given a couple of common real-world 35mm film stocks as reference points:

  • ISO 50-100(Kodak Ektar 100, Ilford FP4 Plus, Fujichrome Velvia 50)
    Amount: 15
    Size: 10
    Roughness: 10
  • ISO 200-400(Kodak Tri-X 400, Ilford HP5 Plus)
    Amount: 30
    Size: 10
    Roughness: 10
  • ISO 800-1600(Fujifilm Superia X-Tra 800, Fujifilm Superia 1600, Kodak Portra 800)
    Amount: 45
    Size: 40
    Roughness: 15
  • ISO 3200 and above(Kodak T-Max P3200, Ilford Delta 3200)
    Amount: 60
    Size: 40
    Roughness: 45

Lightroom automatically sets the “size” and “roughness” sliders to 25 and 50 respectively. If you add ANY amount of grain to your photo remember that those defaults are set out of the gate. Also, something to keep in mind, the amount of grain added largely depends on the original digital ISO of your photo. The values listed above are merely baseline approximations.

Vintage film simulations: Why?

Even as we steep in the digital waters of today’s modern photography world, I still have a love and lust for shooting film. Film, especially expired and vintage film, carries an aesthetic that goes beyond digitized image files of “1’s” and “0’s”. Speaking just for myself, the majority of my professional work consists of digital photography – not film. To that end, I’m sure that some of you are still thinking, “If you want the look of film, just shoot film.” Yes, I understand that even at its most basic applications, film photography isn’t for everyone. That’s why being able to approximate the looks of so many different types of film in Lightroom is such a wonderfully paradoxical thing. We can still enjoy the accessibility and convenience of digital photography without wholly sacrificing the “feel” of film. What’s more is that thanks to the recent advances of color profiles in Lightroom, we can now blend and mix our settings until we reach that perfect imperfectness which captures the organic unpredictability of vintage film. Which, when you think about it, should grant each of us the realization of how extremely fortunate we are to be living in such a cool time to be photographers.

Test out the ideas in this article and try some vintage film simulations of your own. Be sure to post your results in the comments. We’d love to see them!


You may also find these articles on vintage techniques helpful:

How to Add a Toy Camera Effect to Your Digital Images Using Photoshop

How to Mimic a Digital Cyanotype Using Photoshop with Ease

How to Create a Lithography Effect Using Photoshop

How To Mimic a Cross-Processing Effect in Photoshop

How to Mimic Lomography in Photoshop with Ease

The post The Basics of Simulating Vintage Film in Lightroom appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Adam Welch.

Walking the Line – How Using Line in Photography Can Enhance Your Images

The post Walking the Line – How Using Line in Photography Can Enhance Your Images appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Megan Kennedy.

Defined in Wikipedia as the “marks that span a distance between two points,” lines on their own don’t sound particularly enthralling. But when you think about it, the very basis of visual arts centers on the use of line. Take painting for instance; many paintings start as line drawings. These lines intersect to form shapes. The shapes are then filled with tone and color and the process continues, building on the scaffold of line to create an image.

It’s no wonder that line is probably the most versatile of the elements of art. In photography, every photograph hinges upon the reproduction of a scene constructed by lines. Even the physical edges of a photograph are dictated by the lines of the photographic frame it is within.

By deliberately incorporating different types of line into an image, a photographer can take greater control over the way an image gets read. Here, we’ll look at the different types and characteristics of line and why you should prioritize them in your photography.

Why use line?

As one of the intrinsic elements of art, line appeals to our innate understanding of the visual landscape. Delineating shape and form, line constructs a narrative in an image, guiding a viewer’s eye around a photograph. The use of various forms of line set the emotional tone of an image while leading lines create an optical entry and exit point. By mindfully incorporating line into your photography you can take control of the viewer’s gaze, therefore, maximizing presence and impact.

Types of line

Trees, buildings, roads, or rivers – line takes on a new life depending on the environment. Focusing on specific types of line creates connections with a viewer and builds images that have depth and substance.


The horizon is the line that separates the sky from the earth. Derived from the Greek words for “separating circle,” “to divide” and “to separate,” the horizon dictates the way we orient ourselves. It marks the furthest distance the eye can see. If the horizon is obscured, the resulting junction of earth and sky is called the visible horizon. Nevertheless, the horizontal line is innately linked to nature.

Horizontal lines read as an organic presence in a photograph. Our associations with the gradual rise and fall of the sun over the horizon evokes a sense of time and rhythm. Because humans generally sleep horizontally, we associate horizontal lines with relaxation, rest and stability.

That said, the majority of travel functions on a horizontal trajectory, meaning that horizontal lines can also denote a sense of motion. In situations involving panning or slow shutter speed photography, the path of the horizontal line anchors the image to a readable axis, accentuating motion through motion-blur and adding a unique dynamism to an image.


The vertical line has come to be seen as a symbol of quiet endurance. Maintaining the integrity of a photograph through our visual associations with strength, vertical lines add vitality to a photograph.

As mentioned before, humans sleep horizontally and stand vertically, creating a visual association between energy and the act of being upright. The exclamation mark is another example of this. Its’ vertical stroke suspended above a full stop to communicate action and energy at the end of a sentence.

Though associated with steadfast urban structures, the vertical line can still hearken back to nature, delineating growth over the passage of time. The epigeal seed pushing through the earth follows a vertical path in the direction of the sun, cultivating a juxtaposition between the urban and natural environments.


As one of the first Western artists to focus entirely on non-representational forms of painting, Wassily Kandinsky experimented heavily with the geometrical elements that make up an artwork. Published in 1926, Kandinsky wrote extensively on the artistic attributes of line in his book Point and Line to Plane. In the book, he stated that “the third line is the diagonal which, in schematic form diverges from both [vertical and horizontal line]…at the same angle…a circumstance which determines its inner sound…diagonal line is the most concise form of the potentiality for endless…movement”.

A painting by Wassily Kandinsky courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Often diminishing from the foreground into the depths of a photograph as leading lines, diagonals lift an image off the page. When repeated in close conjunction or zig-zagged, diagonal lines create a vibration that plays with our vision like an optical illusion.

Free from the constraints of vertical/horizontal orientation, the diagonal line operates as a visual hive of activity. While solid horizontal and vertical lines imply stasis, the diagonal line teeters between the two, generating a palpable sense of kinetic energy.


From the event of the early human, curves have held a particular fascination in the visual arts. Simple to create, yet visually complex, the decorative use of curves has been discovered on countless examples of ancient art.

Megalithic art featuring curved demarcations courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Adopted as a traditional art concept in Ancient Greek and Roman sculpture, many figures were sculpted on the double-curvature of the S. This S curve was proclaimed as the “line of beauty” by 18th-century painter, satirist, and writer, William Hogarth. Hogarth said that the curve signified liveliness and activity, as opposed to “straight lines, parallel lines, or right-angled intersecting lines, which signify stasis, death, or inanimate objects.”

As a line, curves join point A to point B. The difference lies in the path the curved line takes, traveling in bends and dips before arriving at a destination. A curved river winding through a landscape may connect the foreground with the background, but it does so in its own time, imparting a sense of calm and ease.

Implied lines

Perhaps the most intriguing line of all, implied lines are implied by other visual components in an image. Gesticulations, points of interest, lines of sight, arrows, similarities and movement all create implied lines. These implied lines tow the viewer’s eye from one point to the next within a frame.

Without the strict use of a physical line, implied lines lend momentum and narrative to an image. Think of ancient astrologers joining up the stars with implied lines to create celestial beings. Or, the movement of a car in a particular direction, sweeping the viewer’s eye along with the subject. Neither example makes use of a dedicated line. However, each has the effect of composing a network of lines that make the image more interesting and readable.

Characteristics of line

Along with the different types of line, there are different characteristics of line. Thick, thin, soft, and hard. These characteristics govern the nature of a line, adding depth and interest to an image.


The width of a line refers to its thickness. Dictated by their real-life physicality, thicker lines are stronger and have a bolder presence. A thin line is easier to break and therefore has more delicate connotations. Width also refers to the tapering of a line. A line that disappears into the background of an image creates a visual illusion of depth. A line with an uneven or jerky width denotes a sense of playfulness, texture or unrest.


Length covers the overall length of a line. A short line indicates immediacy or action. Long lines denote a feeling of space and calm. Length also dictates the continuity of a line. A broken line gives the impression of movement, like the imprint of footsteps in the sand. Continuous lines, like those often found in landscapes, are more relaxed.


The feeling of a line dictates its visual tactility. Visual tactility is the way a viewer feels about a subject just by looking at it. Over a lifetime we compile a mental bank of the physical sensations we encounter. When stimulated visually to access this mental bank, we mentally experience sensation without actually touching a subject. For example, a picture of a line tapered to a sharp point can stimulate the impression of a pin-prick. By exploiting the tactile characteristics of line (such as roundness or roughness), a photographer can appeal to a viewer physically as well as visually.


As discussed above, line can sprout from any direction. Depending on the subject (and the orientation of the camera), line can be vertical, horizontal, diagonal or curved. The direction of the line dramatically alters the reading of an image, creating (or deconstructing) a scene. For example, a horizontal line evokes a sense of nature and time, whereas a diagonal line charges an image with energy.


The focus of a line is much like the measure of focus in a photograph. Some lines can be sharp, others blurry or fuzzy. The focus of a line illustrates how smoothly it blends into other segments of a photograph. A sharp line is an abrupt contrast, commanding attention. A blurry or faint line is more subtle, easing from one subject to the next, creating a gentle transition between subject matter.


A vast number of emotional associations are connected with color. Rooted in both cultural and universal experience, studies show that different colors have different influences on the brain. This means that a viewer will have a different visual experience based on the color make-up of a photograph.

The color of a line contributes significantly to the reading of a photograph. For example, a yellow line could signify energy or allude to danger. A blue line could signify calm or water. Connotations like these shape the outcome of an image, creating harmony (or disharmony) and adding impact.


Emotional connotations govern the experience of a viewer. For example, jagged lines foster an impression of energy and unrest whereas a serpentine S curve cultivates a more relaxed atmosphere.

From urban abstracts and landscapes to the human form, line appeals to our senses on a psychological level. Whether it be curvy, horizontal, jagged or diagonal, our innate associations make line a valuable tool to convey emotion.


As painter Jean-Michel Basquiat once said, “every line means something.” For an effective image, different components of composition must come together to form a cohesive body of information. As one of the most versatile elements of design, line speaks to our sense of the world. Through the mindful combination of the types and characteristics of line, you as a photographer can convey a unique experience to a viewer on both a conscious and subconscious level.

The post Walking the Line – How Using Line in Photography Can Enhance Your Images appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Megan Kennedy.

How to Choose the Right Location for Your Photo Session

The post How to Choose the Right Location for Your Photo Session appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

It’s thought that clients are the ones who choose the location for their portraits, but more often than not, choosing the right location is left entirely up to the photographer. In this article, we’ll outline a simple formula to help you and your client settle on the perfect location for the session.

1. It’s not about location, it’s about the look and feel

When you talk to your client about possible locations, change the language you use. Instead of “have you thought of where you want your session to take place” with “what look and feel would you like your photos to have?”

That simple change in language will help your clients to visualize their final images. I’ve listed a few words that can help your client choose which look and feel they want for their final images. Thus, helping you to choose the best location for the session.

These two locations offer different “feelings”.

  • Ethereal: This can be an open field, nature park, or a bright location with little to no busyness in the background like buildings.
  • Nature/natural: Here you can offer a park with lots of green grass and tall trees. Giving them a more natural feel to the photos. You can also offer a field of wildflowers.
  • High fashion/urban: This is definitely in a busy neighborhood or downtown area with lots of big buildings, reflective windows, and metal accents. Giving lots of contrast to the photos and the look and feel of a busy city.
  • Vintage: This can mean either old architectural buildings with wooden doors and big arches or it can mean that they want a location where there are lots of vintage accents, like a neighborhood of restored or historical homes.
  • Warm/homey: These words are a little broad but they can mean that the session can happen at a nice warm location like a field or during sunset at the beach. Homey can mean that they want to feel comfortable and relaxed, which can mean a location they frequent or even their own home.
  • Beach: This one is pretty easy, you can offer the beach if you are near one as a location. The time of day will give you the look and feel. The morning will give you a more blue and pink hue whereas during sunset you’ll get the beautiful golden hour lighting. Make sure to explain both options to your client so you can choose the right time for the look and feel they are visualizing.
  • Meaningful location to the client: Yes, this is an option as well! Especially for engagement sessions because it can be really meaningful to have the photo session at a location where the couple met, or where they got engaged, or simply where they spend a lot of their time together. This is also important for clients celebrating anniversaries or a really important milestone, like graduating from high school or college.

Two different locations for the same maternity portrait session to offer variety.

2. Ask what their home decor looks like

Another way to set a location for the portrait session is to find out what kind of home decor, theme, or color scheme they already have. This way, when it comes time to hang beautiful photos in their home, you can be sure that it won’t clash with the rest of the home.

Your clients will appreciate that you took the time to find out what would look best in their home before even taking a single photo. This makes you look even more professional because you are going to choose the perfect location so that when they are ready to frame, they are reassured that the photos you took will match their home decor perfectly.

This can also help you to upsell items like albums because you’ll know the right album cover and color to choose for each one of your clients. It will make them see that you care more about how their photos will match their home rather than simply choosing an easy location for all of your photo sessions.

For example, choosing a black leather cover for an album can look great in a contemporary modern home whereas a fabric cover album would look better in a more country style home. Or another example would be if the home has brown, beige, and reds in the decor then a perfect location would be a field of flowers.

3. Time of the session

Time can be a huge factor in choosing the right location. Some families need to keep nap times and energy levels in mind when scheduling a session. For example, if your clients need to keep in mind a little one’s nap time at 2 pm, you can choose to have the session in the morning or in the evening when the child is at his best. Photographing in a park that is rich in trees and greenery can help shade you from afternoon light or keeping the sun off your clients.

Or, you could schedule the family during the golden hours at a nearby beach or lake so that the child can play and still have had his nap time earlier.

Sometimes the time is dictated by the location itself. For example, photographing in an urban setting where tall buildings can shade the sun during sunset means that you might have to photograph your client at an earlier time to have enough light.

Or, if you’re photographing in a field, sometimes the early morning hours are best when it’s cool and not so bright. Golden hour is also perfect for fields and beaches.

Midday sun at the beach may be a little harsh but it is still doable. Speak with your clients to choose the best time that works for their schedule.

Talk with your client to see if time will be the determining factor in choosing the right location.

4. Use your website to help choose the location

Chances are, your clients have already looked through your website and have fallen in love with your style! This is great because this can also help your clients to choose the perfect location for their portraits.

This photo is a common favorite on my website since most family sessions are on the beach and during sunset.

If your clients are having trouble visualizing what they want their photos to look like, have them go over to your website and point out a photo that they like the most.  The one that just jumps out at them and had them convinced they wanted you to photograph them.

If the location is nearby or accessible, offer that same location to your client! They loved the photo and it is what led them to contact and hire you, so why not photograph them there? It’s guaranteed that they’ll love the final photos.

5. When they leave it up to you

Even though you’ve gone through all the steps above, some clients don’t know what they want for their photos. They’ll look to you to offer up the best locations because what they want is to have the best photos possible so any location, look, and feel is okay with them.

When this happens, don’t be afraid to take charge. Choose a location that perhaps you’ve been wanting to photograph in for a while, or a location that you know has great golden hour lighting.

Sometimes, clients just need more of a visual to get an idea of what they are actually looking for. Send your clients links to two or three specific locations that you’ve chosen so that they can see with their own eyes what the images will look like. Blog posts and images from your website would be perfect examples.

This way, even though they don’t know what they’re going for, they can choose the one that seems more interesting to them. Giving them the final decision on where they would like the location for their session to take place.

6. More than one location

Depending on your portrait business model and what you have offered your client, and if you’re willing, you can do one session in multiple locations.

For example, if you are photographing an engagement session and they are going for a natural park look but got engaged in front of the downtown theater, then you could offer your clients to photograph in both locations for their session. Either on the same day or on different days.

Photographing in multiple locations offer your clients a variety in their photos so that they can showcase different photos in different rooms in their house as well!

Of course, sticking to one location where there is variety in looks can also be an option to add variety to the photos without having to go somewhere else.

In conclusion

Each session is different and each client is different, using the tips above will help you to determine the perfect location for all of your sessions. When you guide and help your client visualize the perfect location for their session, you will not only look more professional, you will be giving your clients a very personalized experience that they will appreciate. Resulting in more referrals and return clients!

The post How to Choose the Right Location for Your Photo Session appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

8 Ways to Use Water in Photography to Add Impact

The post 8 Ways to Use Water in Photography to Add Impact appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jeremy Flint.

Water is a fantastic natural resource that can be used to create great photographs to be proud of. If you are looking to improve your images, including water as an element in your photos can work wonders. Water comes in many forms and can be a visually pleasing addition to a landscape or nature scene. It could represent the main point of interest in your photos or be a key part of your composition. At first, I would recommend identifying a water source you would like to capture, consider how to capture it and then create an image with impact. How you interpret a scene that includes water is purely a personal choice and depends on the water source you choose as your main subject. Here are eight ways to use water in photography to add impact:

1. The Sea

© Jeremy Flint

Many origins make up our planet’s water supplies, each of which provides a unique and wonderful way to use water in your images.

Oceans make up a vast amount of the globe’s water and make a great feature in sunsets and coastal scenes. Seascapes are visually attractive and satisfying to capture. Depending on your approach to photographing seascapes, the sea can provide images with a sense of calm and flow or a snapshot of rapid activity. For example, photographing water using a slow shutter speed can lead to more fluid and interesting images where there is a representation of the water’s motion and movement. Alternatively, shorter shutter speeds can be used to create fast and dynamic images of seas in a static-looking fashion.

You may represent the sea as a prominent feature in your images blended into the surroundings. Alternatively, you may use it as an individual element like crashing waves or flowing around rocks.

2. Lakes and Rivers

© Jeremy Flint

Lakes, rivers, and streams can also add beauty to your images and can be found in cities and the countryside. These water sources provide a unique addition to a natural or urban landscape and are a great way to include water in your landscapes.

They can look great at different times of the year such as frozen rivers in the colder, winter months. Rivers, lakes and streams also provide reflections and symmetry when the conditions are still and calm. If you are heading out with your camera to photograph a lakeside or river bank, keep a look out for reflections that may be worth photographing.

© Jeremy Flint

3. Waterfalls

There is something about a waterfall that provides a universal appeal. Waterfalls are such an incredibly attractive subject to photograph that it is hard not to be in awe of their majestic beauty, especially at first sight.

© Jeremy Flint

Have you ever stood for a moment beside a waterfall and just admired its sight and sound? Observing the waterfalls flow and listening to the sound of the gushing water is a joy to behold. Also, witnessing the view and taking in its scenic splendor is a mesmerizing experience. How you choose to include a waterfall in your image is entirely your choice. You may find they look great individually or can be incorporated as part of their wider environment to show the surrounding nature.

4. Mist & Fog

© Jeremy Flint

The water vapor that makes up mist and fog is a beautiful and atmospheric way to include water in your photographs. They make a great dreamy photo where mist and fog can provide an ethereal and elegant quality to your photography. They are well worth the effort in capturing them.

© Jeremy Flint

Although their appearance is often unpredictable, these elements are well worth the effort in capturing and can be used to generate spectacular images when included in your shots. Be aware that mist and fog can move quickly and consistently with the ability to disappear in an instant.

5. Snow

© Jeremy Flint

Photographing snow is another wonderful way to add water to your images. As taking photos of falling snow could end up with your gear getting wet, I would recommend taking images of snow after it has settled.

In terms of subjects, you could capture anything from a gorgeous snowy vista to portraits of people or animals. A white winter wonderland will be sure to elevate your images.

6. Shooting in the rain

Have you ever considered rain as a great water source to include in your images? Most people tend to head straight indoors at the first sight of rain. Why not break this trend and head out to photograph in the rain. Rain provides an interesting element that can be used to transform familiar scenes into something more refreshing such as cityscapes.

7. Reflections in puddles

With heavy rains, the residue water can lead to great puddles forming that give the opportunity to capture reflections. Puddle reflections are captivating to photograph. Subjects and scenes reflected in water provide a unique way to photograph the world around us as the water acts as a mirror and gives a different perspective on something ordinary.

8. Underwater photography

Take your camera below the water to discover the delights of underwater photography. There is an entirely different world of coral and marine life beneath the surface of our oceans. Of course, you will either need a waterproof camera or waterproof housing to protect your camera from the elements.


Whether you choose to photograph the sea, lakes and rivers, waterfalls, mist and fog, snow, rain or reflections; using water in your pictures is a great way to make your images stand out. Find the water source you want to photograph, identify a composition you like, take a shot and share your images of what you capture with us below. What other fun ways would you like to suggest to include water in your photography?


The post 8 Ways to Use Water in Photography to Add Impact appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jeremy Flint.

Best Vlogging Cameras for 2019

The post Best Vlogging Cameras for 2019 appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Suzi Pratt.

What’s the best vlogging camera for 2019? That’s a tough question to answer given the wide variety of cameras on the market. In this article, I’ll talk about traditional vlogging camera rigs. I’ll also introduce three non-traditional cameras that also serve as modern vlogging options. Which is the best for you? Read on for some ideas, and let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

best vlogging camera

Traditional vlogging cameras

Before we go any further, let’s define vlogging as a video blog. The traditional way to film a vlog is to point the camera at oneself, while also inserting B-roll (supplemental footage). Thus, most modern vloggers need a camera that allows them to film themselves, and also gather alternative shots.

Popular vloggers such as Casey Neistat and Peter McKinnon use traditional vlogging tools: a DSLR camera with a wide angle lens and shotgun mic, all attached to a Gorilla Pod. This is a tried and true vlogging rig, but it can also be modernized or made simpler by switching out the camera. Mirrorless cameras such as the Panasonic GH5 and Sony a6400 offer a slightly smaller footprint while also giving you a flip screen to monitor yourself. Or you can opt for even smaller point and shoot cameras such as the ever-popular Canon G7X or Sony RX100.

Modern vlogging cameras

While the traditional vlogging cameras mentioned above are still ubiquitous among vloggers, there are newer, more modern cameras worth considering. Here are three fairly new cameras that might fit the role as best vlogging camera of 2019.

GoPro Hero 7 Black Review

Contender #1: GoPro Hero 7 Black

GoPros are traditionally known as action cameras. However, many people use GoPros for everyday usage, including vlogging. This actually makes a lot of sense given GoPro’s tiny footprint, and its wide-angle lens that is perfect for capturing the first-person perspective. The brand new GoPro Hero 7 Black also adds several new features that work in a vlogger’s favor.

HyperSmooth and Timewarp

First, HyperSmooth. GoPro claims gimbal-like stabilization when HyperSmooth is in use, and it’s hard to argue. When shooting in HyperSmooth, bumpy footage is nearly completely eliminated. This means you can walk, run, drive, or perform just about any movement and get buttery smooth video. You can also shoot at up to 4K 60 frames-per-second with HyperSmooth enabled. Second, Timewarp. This is basically a timelapse video with HyperSmooth applied, resulting in a stabilized moving timelapse. It’s perfect for shooting B-roll and transitional scenes for a vlog or video.

GoPro Hero 7 Black Review

Vastly Improved Sound

GoPros have always had atrocious sound quality. For a long time, this was due to the fact that GoPros had to be put into a plastic cage to become waterproof. All of this changed with the Hero 5, which was the first GoPro camera to be waterproof without the cage. The Hero 7 Black is also waterproof without a cage, and it adds much-improved sound. There are now 3 microphones dispersed throughout the camera, and they do a pretty good job at picking up voices. The Hero 7 Black is still without a built-in microphone jack, but if you really need one, GoPro sells a (rather ridiculous and expensive) mic jack adapter.

Contender #2: DJI Osmo Pocket

Brand new to the camera world is the DJI Osmo Pocket. Made by the same manufacturers of DJI drones, the Osmo Pocket employs nearly the same camera found on the Mavic Pro drone. The camera has just a 1/2.3-inch sensor with a f/2.0 aperture. It can shoot at up to 4K/60fps at 100 Mbps. It can even shoot 12-megapixel photos. Best of all, the camera comes mounted on a 3-axis gimbal so that you can record buttery smooth footage.

There are a host of other features worth mentioning about the Osmo Pocket. But two features in particular that relate to vlogging are FPV and Active Track. FPV allows you to quickly reorient the camera to face yourself, while Active Track is intelligent in-camera tracking. Both of these features are incredibly handy for vlogging. And just in case the Osmo Pocket screen is too small for you, you can also plug in your phone for a much bigger touchscreen interface.

best vlogging camera DJI Osmo Pocket

Two Downsides

There are two major downsides to the Osmo Pocket as they relate to vlogging. The first is that the built-in sound quality is bad. No matter what side of the camera you’re on, it doesn’t pick up voices very well, especially if you’re filming in a noisy area. Currently, there are also no adapters or ways to install a microphone to enhance the sound. The second downside is the Osmo Pocket’s fixed 24mm camera lens. While 24mm is great for taking more cinematic footage without distortion, it’s not the best focal length for vlogging. You have to hold your arm out pretty far to get yourself in the frame, and even further if you have a buddy.

Contender #3: Modern Smartphone

A third camera to consider using to vlog is any modern day smartphone. Phones today are jam-packed with impressive camera specs with both front and rear-facing cameras. Many phones such as flagship Apple and Samsung phones also have in-camera stabilization, and the ability to shoot 4K video. They also have superior built-in sound since they are still phones, after all. You can also purchase a few accessories to take your smartphone photography and videography a step further. Investing in a smartphone gimbal gives you added stability, while Moment lenses increase image sharpness and offer wider angles.

The only real downside to using your phone to vlog is that you can’t use your phone to do other tasks while filming. Smartphone videos can also take up tremendous space on your phone, eating into your storage.

best moment lens for smartphone review

In Conclusion

So what is the best vlogging camera? It comes down to your shooting preferences. Personally, I find myself oscillating between the GoPro Hero 7 Black and my Samsung Galaxy S8 with a fisheye Moment Lens. These two cameras are so compact and easy to take anywhere, and they have been great for spontaneous vlogging.

If you’re looking for the best vlogging camera in 2019 and beyond, the good news is that you have lots of options. You can opt for tried and true DSLR or point-and-shoot rigs. Or you can look at modern, super compact options such as the GoPro Hero 7 Black or DJI Osmo Pocket. Or you can use the camera you have on you – a modern-day smartphone – and buy a few extra accessories to make your phone a pretty awesome vlogging rig. The choice is yours!


You may also find this articles helpful:

Essential Tools for Making Videos on Your Mirrorless Camera

Equipment List for Making Better Smartphone Videos

The post Best Vlogging Cameras for 2019 appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Suzi Pratt.

Capture One Pro 12 Review – Whats New and Should You Upgrade?

The post Capture One Pro 12 Review – Whats New and Should You Upgrade? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

Screenshot of Capture One

Capture One have recently released version 12 of their image editing software. Capture One have made a name for their high quality imaging software that offers professional users the best control of their images. But does version 12 deliver this? And, more importantly, is it worth upgrading to from version 11?

What’s new?

Capture one say “Capture One 12 delivers better, faster, and more creative control. New features includes advanced masking functionality, an even more efficient and intuitive user experience, plug-in compatibility, and much more”

In any software, a speed increase is always welcome. In use, Capture One 12 is slightly quicker on my machine, which is nice. Is it enough on it’s own to make me upgrade? Probably not. However, there are lots of other features that make it much more appealing. These include an updated interface, new masking options, intelligent adjustments copying and much more. Let’s look at each of the updated features in more detail.

New updated interface

The menu system in Capture One Pro 12 is more customizable than before. The new icons have been upgraded, which does make it look fresh. I like the new design, but this is nothing to get excited about. There is a redesigned keyboard shortcuts panel though, which is useful for those who like to create their own. I’m not someone who delves deep into creating my own shortcuts, but I do appreciate the new design. If you are so inclined, you have the option to create more than 500 customizable commands.

C1 Interface

The updated interface. Yes, it is a little nicer, but not a massive difference. V12 is on the left.

New masking options

New masking options are something to get excited about. The Luminosity masking allows you to create a mask based on the Luma Range of the file. This makes it really simple to create a mask to bring back only the darkest of shadows or add clarity to the lightest part of the image. It is a straightforward system that works well in practice.

Linear gradient masks have also been transformed to give more precise control, which many of us will really find useful. The addition of Radial Gradient Masks is another handy option for those who like to create custom vignettes on their images.

Screenshot of luminosity mask in Capture One

Luminosity masks are a great time saver and probably my favourite new feature in Capture One 12

Intelligent adjustments copying

I love this update. I use Capture One for about 80% of my editing. This includes minor skin retouching and cropping, etc. It used to be that when I copied the adjustments and pasted across to a batch of images, I then had to go in and undo the crop and remove the retouching on each image. Now, the copy-paste tool ignores options such as crop and spot healing by default, but if you want to add them, it is simple to do so. A great timesaver and a feature I love.

Screenshot of intelligent copy

A small thing, but a massive timesaver. Copy/paste adjustments without adding the crop is huge for my workflow. What about yours?


Plugins are the one feature that I love from Lightroom. Finally, Capture One is allowing plug-ins to work with their system. With this being new the range is limited, but obviously, this will increase over time. A great time saver, I can’t wait to see the potential of this increase going forward.

Plugin Screenshot for Capture One

At launch the plugins are limited, but this will grow and become a great time saver for many users.

Fuji Film simulations

I don’t currently shoot Fuji (I do lust over their Medium Format Cameras) but for those that do, Capture One have now developed (alongside FujiFilm) the different Film simulations available in their cameras. This means you can add the FujiFilm preset onto your images and use this as a starting point in your editing. Now if only I can get DPS to fund the rental of a a Medium Format Fuji, I can do an in depth test for you all (editor’s note: I wouldn’t mind one myself). Please comment below to help me out. In all seriousness though, this is awesome for all you Fuji Owners.

Mac OSX Mojave support

As a Mac user, this is my biggest pet peeve with Capture One. With the release of version 12, support for version 11 has now ended. This means that if you want to use Capture One with OsX Mojave, you need to upgrade to version 12. Obviously if you pay monthly this isn’t a big problem, but if you own the software outright, the upgrade price of £150 (US$195) feels a little steep just to use the latest version of an OS.

Whilst I understand it from a business point of view, it does feel like, as a Mac user, you are forced to upgrade every year. I love that you can purchase Capture One outright, but it does feel like they are slowly creeping towards the subscription model like everybody else. 

Should I upgrade?

The million dollar question. I have upgraded. The plugin support for JPEG mini and intelligent copy paste features will save me enough time to easily justify it. The added benefits of better masking is also great for the way I work. However, it is not that simple for a lot of people. If you are PC based, you may want to skip this version unless, like me, there are features that will help your workflow. However, if you use a Mac, this is more of a do you want to upgrade to Mojave. If the answer is yes, then you really do need to upgrade. There are many reports of version 11 working fine in Mojave, but as a professional, I cannot risk it. Capture One have also ceased their discount codes, which again seems to be a little harsh. You used to be able to easily find a 10% voucher, but since the end of 2018, Capture One seem to have cut them. Obviously I am not privy to why, but I am sure they have their reasons. 

Should I move from Lightroom?

If you are thinking of moving from Lightroom, I would say give it a go. Capture One have a generous 30 day trial of the software, which is time to get to grips with it and see what it can do. Give it a try, you have nothing to lose.

Do you use Capture One? If so, share your thoughts below.

The post Capture One Pro 12 Review – Whats New and Should You Upgrade? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

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


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.

You Are Your Own Best Teacher – Learning From Your Photography Mistakes

The post You Are Your Own Best Teacher – Learning From Your Photography Mistakes appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Herb Paynter.

Personal experience is the very best teacher. Reading tutorials, studying the professionals, and mastering the fundamentals will certainly incrementally improve your photographic skills, but you’ll grow exponentially when learning from your photography mistakes. This is most true when you study your mistakes. You only learn when you make a mistake and know why.

Learning from your photography mistakes

Conversely, if you don’t seriously study the shots that you captured from each outing (both good and bad), you’ll be more prone to make those mistakes again and again and never clearly understand why. Discovering how camera settings and scene lighting produced specific results can give you real insights that even a private tutor may not deliver. You are your own best teacher because this kind of lesson is concentrated on you alone and concerns you alone. You aren’t competing with anybody else, nor are you being judged by anyone else.

Metadata and EXIF Information

Metadata is the techno-term for the settings your camera uses to capture digital pictures; which includes File Properties and Exif (camera capture data). Every camera collects facts that describe just about everything your camera knows about the pictures it takes.

Metadata and Exif information accompanies every image captured and is disclosed by a variety of different software applications, and it is exhaustively disclosed in Adobe’s Bridge software. The illustrated examples in this article have were captured from Bridge. While Lightroom delivers a small subset of this information, Bridge lists virtually everything and acts as a “bridge” (clever name) between the files and other Adobe software to catalog and process the images.

1 - Learning from your photography mistakes

Metadata reveals that this photo was set up in Auto mode with AWB (Auto White Balance) and Matrix metering which opened the Aperture to 3.5, evenly exposing the scene and allowing the camera to correctly balance the colors based on the neutral gray elements in the scene.

2 - Learning from your photography mistakes

This shot illustrates the danger of setting the camera for full Manual operation but incorrectly selecting Tungsten lighting as the light source which biases the colors toward the cooler (blue) side of the spectrum. Tungsten setting expects the yellow cast of tungsten lights, however, the outdoor lighting was shaded sunlight. The Aperture was set manually to f/22 which did not allow enough light to expose the darkened scene.

Discover what works and what doesn’t

Get hard on yourself and discover what works and what doesn’t. Then try to repeat the results you received from your best shots. If you make this exercise a habit, and seriously analyze why some shots worked, and others didn’t, you’ll improve with every outing. Learn to appreciate the “keepers” but don’t view the rejects as failures… they are merely lessons from which to learn.

Note the difference that the time of day makes and the angles (and severity) of the shadows produced during different hours of the day. Take notes on why some shots are 5-star picks, and some others are rejects. Become a student of your work and watch your learning curve shorten.

This metadata also teaches you the limitations and restrictions of specific settings. Sometimes processes that fail are caused by equipment failure rather than judgment error. Here’s an example of the camera being set up for a flash image but encountering an entirely different lighting condition when the flash failed to fire. The ripple effect of a flash misfire caused a massive failure in the camera’s exposure, focus, and color.

3 - Learning from your photography mistakes

The metadata reveals that this image was captured correctly. All processes functioned as expected, resulting in a color-correct, well-exposed picture.

4 - Learning from your photography mistakes

The metadata in this file reveals why the image is overexposed, grossly discolored, and blurry. While the flash was instructed to fire, it failed (probably because the flash was fully charged and ready to fire). This resulted in an image that the camera’s settings (Aperture Priority and Auto exposure) forced the camera to compensate the lack of flash lighting with extremely slow shutter speed. The yellow cast was the result of tungsten lighting in the room while the image sensor’s color balance expected daylight (flash temperature) settings.

Develop a routine

Develop a routine and a personal discipline that forces you to shoot during the same time of day for a full week. Note that I said “force,” rather than try. Personal discipline is a wonderful trait and one that can improve your photographic skills very quickly. Who knows, it might actually affect other areas of your life that need improvement too.

If you only shoot occasionally, you’ll develop skills at a slower pace. Moreover, if you only critically review your work occasionally, you’ll learn at a snail’s pace. Make the review process a regular exercise, and it becomes habit… a good one. I once had a professor who stated in almost every class, “repetition is the exercise of your mental muscle.” The advice sounded strange back then, but it makes perfect sense now.

Every session you shoot produces winners and losers. Make it a habit to examine all metadata from your session to deduce what went right and what didn’t. More importantly, you’ll learn why. Take ownership of your mistakes, especially errors in judgment. You only grow when you recognize a mistake and work to overcome it. While you’ll always be very proud of the great shots you take, you’ll learn more from the shots that didn’t work!

5 - Learning from your photography mistakes

The metering used in this shot was Pattern or Matrix, which averages light readings from the entire frame to influence the shutter speed. The average exposure was based on middle-tone (18%) gray. The sunlight reflecting from the sand on the ground and the black feathers in the bird’s wings established the outer parameters of the exposure, producing an unacceptably dark overall exposure. Had I chosen Spot metering, the picture would have considered only the tones in the middle of the frame, thus lightening the overall exposure.

More often than not, this examination shows you how your camera reacts to specific lighting in a scene. It sometimes produces profound shifts in exposure from small differences in the framing of a scene. Weird but true. While cameras are thought to have “intelligence,” in reality they have no intelligence or no judgment capabilities of their own. They’re merely algorithms that affect settings based on the lighting observed in the scene.

6 - Learning from your photography mistakes

The camera angle was shifted to reduce the amount of sunlight reflection in the frame which, in turn, changed the lighting ratio and lightened the resulting exposure. Reviewing this result taught me to carefully evaluate a scene for content before choosing a metering system.

There are many ways to learn

There are many ways to learn. Taking courses online, reading tutorials and technique books, and tips and tricks columns all teach us a little something more. Years ago I decided to learn how to play the game of golf. After shooting some very embarrassing and humbling rounds, I realized that I desperately needed help. I bought many golf magazines and tried to mimic the stance and swings pictured in the exercises. I watched a large number of video tutorials and listened to advise from everybody, but my game remained poor.

Nothing improved and I only became discouraged. It was when I practiced the disciplines on a regular basis and took serious notes on what worked and why that my game began to improve. I continued to fail simply because I didn’t analyze (and learn from) my mistakes. You learn a lot when you expose yourself to the valuable experience of others, but you’ll only truly grow in your photography skills after you study your own results. So here’s an exercise:

An exercise to help you learn

Open any of the excellent software packages that display both the Metadata (aperture, metering type, ISO, color mode, and shutter speed) and Camera Data, or Exif information (exposure mode, white balance, focal length, lens used, light source, flash behavior, etc.) from both RAW and formatted photos.

Set the View in the software so that you can observe the images in browser or catalog mode, allowing you to see thumbnail views of the files in each session. Also, set the window to display the settings for each image as you step from one image to another.

Whether you shoot in Manual, Aperture or Shutter priority, or even Auto mode, the software lists the individual camera settings exhaustively for each image.

Next: note the variations in lighting between the images and recognize what changes in the camera settings cause the small shifts in the results. Each variation gets linked to one or more of the camera settings; sometimes just a small shift in ISO.

If you allow Auto to control any aspect of your shots, the camera makes subtle changes to shutter speed, ISO, or aperture. Using Auto can be very beneficial in this learning stage because you’ll see how each of these controls affects the appearance.

Make a short columned note card and enter the basic settings for the keepers. Add the weather and lighting conditions that existed at the time of the shot.

Keep this note card in your camera bag and try to replicate the results from the keepers.

Repeat this exercise regularly and watch your results, judgment, and predictability improve.


You are your best teacher and your camera’s metadata and EXIF information recorded automatically with every shot is the notebook recording detailed information about every shot. Your confidence and efficiency should improve along with your photography when you study your notes. Who knows, this could be the shot-in-the-arm that pushes you forward.

Share with us how you have learned from your own mistakes in the comments below.

The post You Are Your Own Best Teacher – Learning From Your Photography Mistakes appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Herb Paynter.

So You Want to Build a Website? Part 5: SEO

The post So You Want to Build a Website? Part 5: SEO appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

Well, this is it. We have gone all the way from choosing your platform through to generating content (see article links at the bottom of the article). Hopefully, this series of articles has persuaded a few of you to update your website and even more of you to create one.

The final step in the series is to optimize your website for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Doing SEO is the hardest part – it can even give many web professionals nightmares sometimes! Constant Google changes, and advice that seemingly contradicts other advice, can make it a mine field. This article is not the complete solution to your SEO and doing these things does not guarantee to get to page one on Google. It will, however, start you on the right path. These tips are simple, easy to follow tips that to help you optimize your site and aide your user experience. With that said, let’s get started.

1. Register with Google Search Consoles

You want to rank well in Google. The first step is to make sure you get your site registered for Google Search Console. This is an essential set of tools to tell you how your site is performing, how people are searching for you, and any issues that Google detects when going through your site.

Search Console (like SEO in general) can be daunting but bear with it. Do some reading and utilize what you find. Search Console is the number one tool for helping your website rank better. To add Search Console to your website, you need to register your website and then verify it using a code snippet on your site. It is simple to do. WordPress folks, if you have Yoast installed (if you haven’t – stop what you are doing and go and install it), they have tools to help with this.

The first step when registered is to submit your sitemap. This is normally located at www.yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml. When you submit this you are basically showing Google how your site is laid out and showing them how to crawl it. 

Once you have Search Console installed, you will be able to see how people are coming to your site, what they are searching for and any issues that may be affecting your ranking in Google. 

Impressions and CTR

It is simple to see how your site is performing direct from the source. Google Search Console is the number one must do.

2. Optimize your images

Speed is king. People like fast-loading websites and Google likes websites that load fast too. With photography websites, the best way to help with this is to properly size and compress your images. This is a simple thing to do, but if your site already has hundreds of images, it can take time. You need to check your website for image sizes and then make sure that you export images at that exact size. The reason for this is smaller images equal smaller file size, which equals quicker loading.

Regarding compression when exporting from image software, make sure you reduce it to around 70% or so. You can compress images further using specific software such as JPEG Mini, but this does come with a cost. You can also use a free online tool such as Squoosh or Bulk Image Resize, but this takes a little longer to do. It is amazing how much smaller you can make the size of a webpage by doing this.

If you want further checks on how fast your site is, and what you can do to improve it, Google has a tool called Page Speed Insights. This free tool shows you how your site loads and what you can do to improve it.

Using a free app like Squoosh really can make a difference to your image sizes. Every little bit adds up when it comes to website speed.

3. Build backlinks

To get yourself higher up in the rankings, one of the best resources is backlinks. Getting a link to your website from other sites shows Google that your website has the respect of others. Getting links can be hard, especially those that help to boost your ranking. The links you want to try to get are those that are for popular websites in the specific field. It used to be that you could pay and your website would have links from lots of websites and boost your ranking. However, Google got smart to this very quickly, and this practice now may actually make your site going down in rank, not up.

Genuine, quality backlinks are what you should aim to achieve. The more domain authority a website has (how well Google rates it), the more valuable the link.

As a wedding photographer, I have weddings featured on blogs. The links to my website from these blogs do two things: Firstly, potential customers may read this blog and click. Secondly, Google sees that well-respected wedding sites are linking to my site. So when people search for wedding photography in my area, Google knows that high-quality wedding blogs link to me, so my site must contain quality and relevant content.

How do you get them? You approach people. Flat out asking can lead to refusal, but offering value can work wonders. Asking a blog if you can write a guest post or asking a local business if you can exchange backlinks (so you both benefit) is an excellent way of getting some links (and building relationships).

3. Make it mobile friendly

We live in an age where most web browsing happens on a mobile device. Therefore you need to make sure that your website runs well on mobile devices. For those of you who are creating new websites, this is pretty simple. Pretty much every template is now optimized for mobile browsing. For those of you with older sites, you may want to check. Google ranks mobile first, and therefore you must make your site mobile friendly.

Tools such as such as AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) helps here. Again, setting this up depends on your platform and theme. In Squarespace, it is simple to turn on AMP in settings. In WordPress there are plugins that get AMP up and running on your site.

Website Mobiel view

I’m up to here…

4. Create quality content

Content is also king. Google has advanced and continues to advance. It used to be constantly cramming your keyword into your written content would mean you ranked well, however, that has all changed. As Google makes advances in machine learning, they now read websites more as a human would. Google love content that is helpful for the person searching. So if the user is searching for tips on how to take better photos, Google knows what they are looking for and shows the user sites that answer that question well.

The best way to do this on a continual basis is through a blog. A blog keeps your website fresh, helps Google see your website is updated regularly, and it gives you a place to offer content that is useful for people.

There is so much to blog about in every type of photography, from recent shoots and the latest equipment you have bought, through to how you got a great shot. Having new content gives people a reason to revisit your website and is a way to get new readers to your site. Continual blogging can be tough, but like anything the more you do it, the easier it gets.

5. Turn on SSL

Google likes websites to be secure when using the web. Having a secure website using SSL (Secure Socket Layer) is an easy way for you to help protect people who visit your website.  Having an SSL on your website is essential in 2019. It is super simple. Check with your host if you are using self-hosted WordPress. On Squarespace, it is as easy as turning it on. This is the simplest tip on this list. Just go and do it.

6. Bonus tip: Keep going – it’s a long game

Ranking well in Google takes time and effort. Don’t expect to see the fruits of your labour after a couple of weeks. To rank well can take months. Just remember the golden rules:

  • Keep your images correctly formatted.
  • Work on getting backlinks. Not only does it help your SEO, it helps people see your content.
  • Start as you mean to go on with things like title tags, etc. Going back when you decide you need to do it is a real pain. Start with good habits. 

Well, that’s it. Our website series is finished. I hope you enjoyed it. I’m hoping it got some of you to build your first site. For those with websites, I hope it gave you some ideas to make your sites better or something new you could try. As always, let’s see your sites below. 

Other tutorials in this series:

Part 1: Squarespace versus WordPress

Part 2: How to Create a Website

Part 3: Creating Your Portfolio

Part 4: Adding Website Content


The post So You Want to Build a Website? Part 5: SEO appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

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