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Archive for the ‘Photography Tips and Tutorials’ Category

Feb
25

How to Refresh Your Creativity by Shooting Digital with a Film Mindset

Filed Under Digital Photography School, Photography Tips and Tutorials

There exists a strange and long standing line drawn in the weird sands of the photo world. On one side of that line you have those who shoot only digital images and on the other, you have those who still swear by analog film. Then there’s a hazy gray area (probably 18% gray) where people like myself reside.

Do you shoot film or digital? Seeing as this is Digital Photography School, I assume the answer to that question likely leans towards the latter. I started out on my photographic journey with a 35mm SLR, then moved to a DSLR and mirrorless, until I now strike a weighted balance between digital and large format film photography.

Why am I telling you all of this? The reason is simple; we all want to make better images and we all want to grow as photographers.

How to Refresh Your Creativity by Shooting Digital with a Film Mindset

Stay with me here….Consider for a moment that instead of choosing sides on that imaginary line between film and digital photography, while pointing out the perceived benefits of digital over film, that there are many lessons to be learned from the film shooter’s mindset.

In this article, we’re going to look at some ways shooting film, or at least with the mentality of film, can help you with your digital photography skills. And no I won’t try to persuade you to jump from one side of the line to the other.

Shoot like it isn’t free

If there’s one thing that has both illuminated the field of digital photography while at the same time stamping out the classical mental focus involved in the craft it is this…

How to Refresh Your Creativity by Shooting Digital with a Film Mindset

This little piece of plastic and silicon cost me about $13 and holds well over a 1000 images when used in my 36.4-megapixel camera. That’s a lot of photographs. What’s more is that it doesn’t end there. I can hypothetically erase and reuse this contraption an unlimited number of times.

My camera will wear out (knock on wood) before this memory card does. Now, compare that memory card to this:

How to Refresh Your Creativity by Shooting Digital with a Film Mindset

This is a box of one of the 4×5 sheet films that I use with my large format camera. It cost me around $40 after it was all said and done. That’s 25 sheets of film that I will have to load into holders under complete darkness, put into my view camera, expose for about $1.60 each, and then bring back home to develop in my darkroom. And that’s just the first phase.

If I want to print images from those negatives I have to either scan them into the computer or print them myself in the darkroom using light-sensitive paper and even more chemicals and equipment.

Which causes more pause before shooting?

So, here we have two entirely different mediums to record what is essentially the same thing. Which one do you think I am more careful with when shooting? The $40 box of film or the $13 memory card?

If I make a mistake in exposure, composition, or anything else when I’m shooting digital there is virtually instant feedback and the error usually costs nothing. With film, the result is hidden and any “Uh-ohs!” are only evident after the fact.

How to Refresh Your Creativity by Shooting Digital with a Film Mindset

I urge you to shoot as deliberately as possible when using your digital camera. Sure, even a well thought out photo can go bad regardless of planning but the more you think about what you’re doing the fewer variables there are in the equation.

Pay attention to what you’re shooting and why. Photograph as if every frame costs you money and I promise that you will begin seeing better results with your digital photos.

Choose an ISO and stick to it

Something that we take for granted with digital photography is the quick application of ISO changes. Usually, a prompt turn of a dial can take you from ISO 100 to ISO 6400 and back again in a few seconds.

How to Refresh Your Creativity by Shooting Digital with a Film Mindset

This is not a bad thing. Changing ISO on a digital camera opens up astounding creative possibilities and lets you get shots you would have otherwise missed when the light changes suddenly.

That being said, it can also spoil us to the point where we crank up the ISO at times when we might possibly find more creative alternatives. Try this to practice – choose an ISO for the day and shoot at only that ISO setting.

Granted, I wouldn’t try this on a wedding shoot…but go out with your camera set to say, ISO 400, and force yourself to think through difficult lighting conditions. You might find you gain a better understanding of the relationships between shutter speed, aperture, and ISO that will help you immensely in the future.

Make a set number of exposures

Before I moved into digital photography I used 35mm film. Most rolls were of the twenty-four exposure variety with some being extended to thirty-six. That seems like a million frames when compared to the two sheets carried in each large format film holder or the eight with my Polaroid SX70.

How to Refresh Your Creativity by Shooting Digital with a Film Mindset

As much as I love my film cameras, I still use digital for over 80% of my “professional” work. Each time I switch back and forth between film and digital I notice a strange change in the way I shoot particular scenes. It goes back to our first point about how film actually costs money with each click of the shutter.

I tend to essentially overshoot a scene with digital. I may take 10 or 12 images of a frame whereas with film I might only make one or two. Why is that? When you think about it, making consistently solid photographs isn’t a matter of firing off a bunch of frames and hoping for the best, though that does work sometimes. Usually, the best images come from the careful execution of each snap and with film you only have a certain number of those snaps in the bank before you have to change things out.

How to Refresh Your Creativity by Shooting Digital with a Film Mindset

In an effort to strive for quality over quantity with your digital work, begin thinking in terms of keeping your shot count for a scene in the single digits. No, of course I’m not saying to sell your digital camera short and only shoot 20 or 30 photos at a time all the time.

What I’m suggesting is that you limit yourself to a focused group of purposed photographs instead of firing off a hoard of shots and hoping for the best. Try to shoot no more than 10 images of the same scene and then move on to something else. Make 10 images of that, and then move on again. The key outcome of this exercise is to train (or retrain) yourself to produce a smaller number of total images but a larger amount of usable ones or keepers.

Some final thoughts…

The real conclusion and the true lesson to be gained from all this is for you to learn how to become more deliberate with your photography. Use your camera with purpose, and most importantly remember to slow yourself down from time to time. Slowing down is key.

Being both a film and digital photographer I find the complete flop of my creative mindset changes drastically between the two mediums. Obviously, digital cameras have extraordinary capabilities and offer many benefits over their analog cousins. At the same time, the true nature of photography can be lost when we suddenly find ourselves with limitless shooting capabilities that are often only capped by a camera’s battery life and our own enthusiasm.

Try putting some of these lessons from the world of film to use the next time you find yourself deleting more and more images and finding fewer quality pictures. It just might be that you begin shooting better and get more enjoyment from your digital photography.

The post How to Refresh Your Creativity by Shooting Digital with a Film Mindset by Adam Welch appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Feb
24

How to Compress Time Into One Photo

Filed Under Digital Photography School, Photography Tips and Tutorials

Throughout the history of photography, many photographers have blended multiple exposures into one final image. Obviously, they didn’t shoot the exposures at the same time, but at some interval to achieve something.

One really common purpose is to remove people by shooting several photos and making sure that all areas are covered without any people and then blend all the images into one image. Another purpose of shooting multiple images is bracketing for HDR. Yet a different purpose is to compress a long time into one photo.

Italy Manarola Day to Night

In this article, you will learn how to make an image that compresses a long time-span into one image. It is a bit like a time-lapse movie sequence, but instead of making a movie you create one final image.

Like in time-lapse photography you will shoot several photos shot over a period of preferably several hours to see a change in the scenery. To make it more interesting, you shoot the photos during a change of light, like from daylight to nighttime. When you put such photos together, you get something really fascinating.

Required Gear

To be able to make such a photo you must have a camera and a tripod or similar device. While you shoot, you need to avoid touching the camera more than you have to. Therefore a cable release or remote trigger is recommended.

You will be standing still for several hours and the temperature will most likely change quite a bit. Remember to bring clothes for a change of temperature.

Australia Sydney Harbor View Time Compressed

Where to Shoot

In theory, you can shoot these kinds of photos anywhere and of anything. But since you are putting a lot of time into one single image, it is recommended that you have an excellent composition of an interesting scene.

When to shoot

You should shoot when the light changes the most, which is from daytime to nighttime or the other way around. It is this change that will make it into a remarkable photo. If you just shoot for four hours around midday, you will get a midday photo.

How to Shoot

When you shoot photos that you intend to blend into one final image, it is essential that you make sure to have an almost identical composition in each frame. You can do that by stabilizing your camera, typically on a tripod. Minor pixel shift differences can be handled later in the post-processing phase, but big differences in the composition will be really hard, if not impossible to blend.

You can either use a remote control to trigger the camera for each shot or put the camera into a time-lapse mode. The advantage of triggering the shutter release remotely yourself is that you can time your shots if something interesting happens.

As the light changes, you will need to change the camera settings.

During the daytime put your camera in Aperture Priority mode at ISO 100 and set the aperture around f/8. This mode makes sure that the images have the same depth of field and therefore are identical, except for the change of light. Do a couple of trial shots to make sure you don’t blow out the highlights or the shadows. If the image is too bright or dark, use the exposure compensation to adjust.

As it gets darker, the camera will make longer exposures and when you hit the 30-second mark, you will need to increase the ISO. You will typically end up at ISO 800 or 1600.

Sweden A Mountain Sunset in Sweden

You most likely want to switch off autofocus before it gets dark. It depends on the scenery. City photos often offer good low light autofocus points, while the contrast disappears in landscape photos and makes autofocus impossible. Alternatively, you can use Back Button Focus.

How many photos do you need?

You need at least two different photos, but any number larger than one will work. For my photo of Sydney, I used a couple of night shots. For the morning part, I only used two.

If you shoot the “many people” variation, you will need photos with interesting people in all those areas you want to be populated with people. For the photo of Manarola, Italy I used approximately 60 photos from a batch of around 200.

Switzerland Montreux Compressed Time

How to handle high dynamic range?

Some situations are hard or impossible to capture in one exposure because the dynamic range gets too high. Typically this happens in nighttime city photos or if the sun enters the frame. The difference between the strong light source and the shadows is too great to capture in one single exposure.

In these situations, you must either switch to Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB) or do some manual exposure compensation.

How to blend the photos

You can use any layer-based photo editing tool to blend the photos together. I will demonstrate using Photoshop, but Photo Affinity, GIMP or any other similar photo editing tools can do the same.

UK Lake District Time Compressed

The overall process is to pick one of the good photos from the shoot as the base photo. Then you handpick a set of other photos that you want to blend into the base image.

The technique you are going to use to blend is called “Layer Masking”.

Step 1

Put all the photos you have picked into an empty folder on your computer. JPEGs are fine, but you can also use RAW files.

Step 1 image folder with images - How to Compress Time Into One Photo

Step 2

Pick your base photo and open that in Photoshop.

Step 3

Pick another photo with different light. Load that in into Photoshop by dragging the file onto the base image. Position the photo and press enter.

Notice that you now only see the top layer.

Step 3 image drag layer into place - How to Compress Time Into One Photo

Step 4

Add a mask to the top image, by selecting the top layer and clicking Layer > Layer Mask > Hide All. You have now added a Black Mask. Notice that you can now see the lower image layer again.

Step 4 image The black layer mask - How to Compress Time Into One Photo

Step 5

Select the layer mask by clicking on the black mask and then select the brush tool. Select white as your brush color and set the opacity to around 50% and hardness to 0%. You want to work with a BIG soft brush for most stuff. When you need to do more detailed work, increase hardness to around 50%.

Step 5 image Select a brush - How to Compress Time Into One Photo

Step 6

Start painting in some areas and see how the image changes. Each time you click the mouse and paint in an area, the more the top image becomes visible. Play around until you see something you find interesting.

Step 7

Add more photos by dragging them into Photoshop one at a time and make sure the new layer is the top one. You can drag it to the top of the stack if it is not. Then repeat steps 4-6 again.

The final image

In the end, you will end up with several layers containing photos from which you have used bits and pieces, to create your own unique and quite fascinating image. In the image of the idyllic alp town of Hallstatt in Austria, I used 18 photos to create my image.

Tutorial image 3 An example of layers

Austria Hallstatt Day To Night

Additional things to consider

8-bit or 16-bit?

Normally you should never use 8-bit mode for image editing, but if you are blending 20+ photos, you will run into serious performance issues at 16-bit, even with a high-performance computer. One workaround is to use 8-bit at the cost of image quality. You can change the mode by going to Image > Mode > 8-bit/Channel. The downside of using 8-bit is that you may end up having banding which is when you can see the colors transition from one to the other (they do not graduate smoothly).

Alignment

You have probably had to adjust the camera while shooting and most likely you will find that the images are slightly misaligned. It may not be more than a pixel or two.

Tutorial image 1 Move tool

You use the Move Layer tool to micro adjust the misaligned layer using the arrow keys.

Addition tip – try to make more than one final image from the same photos, by switching around the night and day photos.

The post How to Compress Time Into One Photo by Jacob Surland appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Feb
23

Weekly Photography Challenge – Headshots

Filed Under Digital Photography School, Photography Tips and Tutorials

You don’t need a fancy studio or lights to do good headshots, but there are a few things you need to get right like the lighting and posing.

Karthika Gupta Memorable Jaunts DPS Article - Sigma 135mm lens review-11

Images by dPS author Karthika Gupta.

Here are some tips for both to help with this week’s challenge:

Weekly Photography Challenge – Headshots

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. Sometimes it takes a while for an image to appear so be patient and try not to post the same image twice.

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.

The post Weekly Photography Challenge – Headshots by Darlene Hildebrandt appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Feb
23

Video Tutorials – Portrait Posing Tips

Filed Under Digital Photography School, Photography Tips and Tutorials, Portrait Photography

Taking portraits is a challenging genre of photography, but add in posing and it can seem insurmountable if you’re just starting out in photography. Here are three videos I found to help you with some portrait posing tips. Practice with a friend and see tell us how it goes.

How to pose a single portrait

In this video excerpt from a Lynda.com class, you’ll see how the photographer works with a single model. She helps him get comfortable in front of the camera and create poses that are flattering to him.

How to pose (direct) couples

In this video from Mango Street, you will see how to gently direct a couple in how to pose. Giving them a few suggestions and tips and letting them fall into their own comfortable pose makes the images look more natural.

How to pose people to get rid of a double chin

Finally, in this last video, photographer Joe Edelman shows several tips for posing to flatter your subject and get rid of or minimize a double chin. Where you position the camera is also important, taking a higher position can be helpful for posing.

The post Video Tutorials – Portrait Posing Tips by Darlene Hildebrandt appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Feb
22

5 Tips for Doing Photography in National Parks

Filed Under Digital Photography School, Photography Tips and Tutorials

I am a national parks buff – I mean I am really crazy about traveling to national parks all over the world. As a family, we have been known to pack our bags at the drop of a hat, load up the car and head out for a visit to our fabulous national parks. National parks provide some of the best landscapes and vistas you can find.

Because much of the land and natural resources are protected, you really get to see nature at its very best. There is so much to see, do, explore, and of course, photograph. Photography in national parks offers incredible opportunities to create some amazing photos and memories!

Photography in National Parks -1

Additionally, there are a huge number of photographers who make a living photographing landscapes, animals, and vistas in these national parks – talk about it being a dream job.

But photography in the national parks is not an easy slam-dunk. There is a lot of preparing to do before and during a photography trip to a national park. Here are a few things to keep in mind when planning a trip to photograph your favorite national park.

#1 Preparation for a national park photography trip

Let’s just start from the very basics on how to prepare for a trip to photograph national parks. First and foremost, the National Park Service in the United States has a certain set of rules and guidelines for photography in the national parks. Before you plan a trip specifically for photography, make sure you have familiarized yourself with the latest rules and regulations.

This article in Backpacker Magazine is quite informative, but if you are confused on what is allowed and not allowed, feel free to call the park services directly. The rangers in almost all the parks we have visited have been very well informed and are very helpful with rules around photography. In a nutshell:

  • Drones essentially are banned from National Parks and if caught, you can be fined.
  • Permits are not needed if you are using basic tools (tripod, camera, and a lens) to photograph vistas that are accessible to the public.
  • Permits are needed for commercial filming (still and video) and sets that involve props and/or models.
  • You will likely need a permit to enter an area not accessible to the public.
  • Backcountry rules may differ from front country rules, so definitely call the park to confirm.

Keep in mind that these rules are applicable for parks here in the US. If you are traveling outside the US, check with the local park authorities and/or check in other travel forums. Being prepared is an added bonus that will really pay off in the long run. The last thing you want is to get to your location only to find out that you don’t have the right paperwork and/or permit.

Photographing National Parks -2

Parks in India don’t have much of a hiking concept – most people prefer to go on safari to see the wildlife.

For example, parks and historic monuments in India that require an entrance fee have specific fees for Indians versus foreign tourists and an additional fee per camera (still and video). Some places don’t even allow camera bags and tripods – you have to check your camera bag pack into a locker prior to entry to the park.

#2 Rules and Regulations – Dos and Don’ts

Along the lines of rules and regulations, there are some basic dos and don’ts when it comes to visiting and photographing inside national parks. Most parks are very good about letting you know what is allowed and what is not allowed. Signs, posters, and even handouts are available in plain sight. Playing ignorance is not an option and isn’t going to let you off the hook.

Stay away from wildlife and help them remain wild

My friend works for the Yellowstone National park and every spring she puts up this message on her Facebook page, “Welcome to the season of the crazies. May this season be shorter than the last!”

While it might be amusing and make you smile, this is quite serious to the men and women who work at Yellowstone. People (a.k.a visitors and some photographers) seem to want to go to any lengths to get a selfie or award-winning photograph with bison, bears, and the hot thermal features that Yellowstone is so famous for.

People have lost their lives trying to get the perfect shot! Nothing is worth losing your life over and endangering the lives of innocent animals whose habitats we are encroaching upon. (Note: if an animal attacks you, it may get put down, so by not following the rules you’re endangering their lives as well as your own.)

 Photographing National Parks -7

It is amazing how many people think that just because bison are herbivorous it is safe to get close to them! The people in the car did something right by just stopping the car to let the bison go and taking photos from inside the vehicle!

Never feed wildlife just for the sake of a photo

I have seen this happen time and time again. One time, my daughter was so angry to see a group of people who were feeding a bunch of squirrels lettuce and nuts, that she went up and chastised them and reported them to a ranger! Any activity that alters the natural behavior of animals is unacceptable no matter what the reason.

Never jump the fence and get off the trail

Getting off trail affects the land, the soil, and the environment. Trail markings are there to keep visitors safe and out of harm’s way. Every season rangers and outdoor crew hike the trails to ensure they are safe and can handle visitor foot traffic.

Yet people seem to ignore the signs to stay away so that they can get the epic shot – standing on the edge of a rock, diving into a pond at the base of a waterfall, or climbing the face of a mountain and take a selfie.

Photographing National Parks - 11

This is pretty much the scene at most of the waterfall/bridges in Yosemite National Park – but what you don’t see here is that there is an even bigger crowd on the other side of the bridge climbing on slippery rocks with the most illogical footwear!

#3 Playing fair and playing well with others

I really love reiterating this one time and time again. Over Christmas break, we traveled as a family to Zion National Park. If you have been to Zion you know that capturing the sunset against the Watchmen tower formations are iconic and almost every photographer (amateur or professional) is looking to capture that epic sunset.

Crowds start to gather almost an hour or more before sunset and getting a prime spot can get competitive and sometimes ruthless! There is also a path that leads down from the bridge to the water’s edge for tourists and anyone looking to hike along the river. One evening we were waiting for the sun to set, cameras ready to fire, when a few families decided to walk down to the river essentially getting into the frame of each and every photographer waiting on the bridge above.

Suddenly someone in the group decided to shout at the visitors – essentially asking them to leave the area. I was so mortified and embarrassed about being on that bridge that day with all those people. The National Parks and all its beauty is for everyone to enjoy – being a photographer does not take precedence over being a visitor taking in all of Mother Nature’s beauty. Thankfully a few others felt the same way and spoke up to let the photographer know we didn’t agree with his sentiments.

Long story short, be respectful and aware of your surroundings. These special areas are for all to enjoy – you don’t have special privileges just because you have a camera (however big or small). Most people are well aware of photographers and if they see you all set up, will try and avoid getting into your shot or quickly move away. If this doesn’t happen, just move or patiently wait it out. I never ask people to move just because they are in my shot, especially in national parks.

Article Photographing National Parks -10

A typical scene in Yosemite waiting to photograph Half Dome right at sunset.

Photographing National Parks -12

Those people right by the water – they have the right idea – getting out and enjoying their National Parks. It is we photographers that sometimes don’t quite know how to have fun.

#4 Making the most out of the trip

Before heading out, do some research on what the areas are famous for. Is it the epic vistas? Is it the magical sunset and sunrise glows? Or maybe it’s the wildlife? What are some of the famous monuments and landscapes to photograph and what are some of the lesser known areas?

Just because an area is not on the “must photograph list” does not mean it is not spectacular in its own right. Once you know what all YOU want to photograph, plan your time wisely. Look for road closures and construction notices. If possible stay in the park. This eliminates the need to travel into and out of the park daily – some of the popular parks have major clogs at the entrances especially during popular times. This can cause a lot of traffic delays and you might just miss that epic sunset (and I speak from experience!).

#5 Getting the shot

Now that you have planned your trip, figured out what and where you want to photograph, you understand the rules and know what to do and what not to do, here are some ways you can actually get those epic photographs.

Get out before sunrise and stay out after sunset

Get out when it is still dark outside and experience a different side of the park. Chances are the only other people out at this time of the day are photographers and people who really want to enjoy some quiet and solitude. This is a time when the park is quiet and animals tend to be out and about.

Morning mist, if present, adds so much interest and drama to a photo. In addition, the wind is usually calm at this time of day, making for easy reflection shots. The same holds true for sunset shots. The average person will spend a few minutes admiring the sunset and get back inside. Stay out past sunset and you have some incredible lighting all to yourself!

Photographing National Parks -3

Yellowstone in the winter after the sun sets is the place to really enjoy all the wildlife. Coyotes enjoy a bison kill.

Find your primary subject and then try something new

When you find an interesting subject, try to look at it from different angles. This not only will change your perspective, but also allow you to see how the light affects and changes the image. Try it with the sun on the side, at the back, and in front by simply moving your feet.

Photographing National Parks -8

I am not an equestrian photographer by any means, but when we came across the wild horses in Roosevelt National Park, I just had a mental picture of photographing them galloping across the road. Sure enough, while we pulled over to admire them, a few folks just drove on by and the horses got spooked and took off! So I got the shot I wanted!

Enjoy your surroundings beyond your viewfinder

I am very very particular about this! There have been numerous occasions where I have not looked past the viewfinder and come home feeling frustrated and irritated. Travel and the outdoors mean the world to me, photography is just icing on the cake. If I don’t get to enjoy my cake, just filling up on the icing, it is a moot point, don’t you agree?

So during the day when the light is not that great, I try to put the camera in my backpack and enjoy time with my family hiking the park. Plus this gives me a chance to scout locations to visit later in the trip, specifically for photography.

Hike into the backcountry – away from the crowds

I find that most people in the parks stay in or near their cars when taking pictures. To get a different picture (literally) find a trail and head out. You may find that you can leave the crowds behind, have a better experience, and make better pictures.

Be sure to plan ahead by checking out the park’s map for safety tips and any route closures. And of course, follow all safety rules of hiking in the trails and in the backcountry.

Photographing National Parks -6

As a family, we really love to camp and backcountry really gives us the opportunity to get away from it all and enjoy the outdoors together. Gear is obviously not a priority here – so this was shot using a small 35mm film camera – a perfect companion for a 5-day camping trip.

Conclusion

I hope these tips were helpful. One of the most important events in history was the establishment of the world’s first national park on March 1st, 1872. Since then, thousands of national parks, national monuments, and preservation areas have been set aside for the enjoyment and pleasure of the common person.

So get out there and enjoy nature while creating some amazing photos and share your images of national parks near you in the comments section below.

The post 5 Tips for Doing Photography in National Parks by Karthika Gupta appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Feb
22

Tips for Getting Sharper Real Estate Interior Photographs

Filed Under Digital Photography School, Photography Tips and Tutorials

Photography is a key part of advertising a property for real estate sales. But just as stunning images show the property looking its best, the opposite is also true. Poor photography, with blurred, sloping rooms, and out of focus images does little to inspire viewings.

Here are some basic, but important, steps to help you improve the quality of your interior photos. You’ll see what causes photographs to turn out blurry, and get some handy tips on equipment and techniques to avoid falling into these traps.

Preparing for the shoot

The best techniques for getting sharp photographs can be let down by poorly working equipment, or badly chosen or untidy scenes. So it’s important to start your session with good preparation and follow your check-list. Here are a few things that should be on your list.

1. Check your equipment

Make sure your equipment is okay, batteries are charged, extra lights working, tripod joints tight and in good condition, and that the lens is completely clean. Loose tripod joints, broken lights, and dirty lenses make problems for you later, so good preparation is worthwhile.

2. Make sure everything is clean and tidy

Dirty windows still look dirty in photographs, so take a household cleaning cloth and some glass cleaner. Cleaning everything is always easier than removing debris in post-production.

3. Set the scene

Tidy and set the scene, removing unwanted items from window sills, adjusting furniture positions and cleaning the windows. Don’t forget to look through the window too – a washing line of underwear probably isn’t what your client wants to see!

Think about the final image and what you want, then keep that in your mind throughout the photography session.

Using a tripod

Three common issues ruin a real estate photograph: blur, poor focus, and sloping rooms.

Blur and bad focus often come from camera movement during the long exposures you need when photographing interiors. Rooms appear sloping when the camera is not level.

You can resolve all three problems by securely mounting the camera on a sturdy tripod, which is why a tripod is highly recommended when photographing interiors.

Here are some pro tips for using a tripod:

  • Hang your camera bag from the center of the tripod (if it has a hook, as seen above) to increase stability.
  • Set the tripod exactly where you’ve decided to take the photographs, and extend the thicker sections of the legs first as they provide most stability. Avoid extending the center column as this is the least stable section and will reduce the stability of the tripod.
  • Give the tripod a gentle prod to make sure it won’t slip on the floor or wobble.
  • Mount the camera on the tripod, ensuring that the base plate and mounting are tight and cannot move around.
  • Adjust the tripod head until the camera is perfectly level and the image doesn’t slope to the left or the right. By getting the camera level, you ensure the room won’t look as if it slopes sideways.

For more on getting sharp images with a tripod, read: 5 Tips to Get Sharp Photos While Using a Tripod.

Eliminating sources of camera shake

There are also other sources of blurriness in photos. One of these is called mirror shake.

DSLR cameras have a mirror which sits in front of the camera sensor and helps you see the view through the lens by reflecting the image up to the eyepiece (through a prism). The mirror snaps up and out of the way when you take the photo, creating vibrations that can cause blurring.

You can eliminate this problem by setting it in the up position before taking any photographs. Look in your camera menu for the Mirror LockUp setting.

Left: The mirror is down in this image. Right: the mirror is up here exposing the camera’s sensor.

Conclusion

With good preparation and technique, and the right equipment, you can consistently get sharp, crisp interior photographs. When you set out to capture that image, remember:

  • Set the scene by making the room look neat and clean.
  • Make good use of a tripod.
  • Choose an appropriate lens.
  • Keep your camera stable and free from vibration.

The video tutorial expands on some of these tips, as well as showing other helpful hints for getting sharp photographs like choosing an appropriate lens and focusing correctly.

Watch the video to learn more about tripods, lenses, focusing, and keeping the camera steady.

Please share any other tips you have for taking sharper interior photographs of real estate in the comments area below.

Disclaimer: HDRsoft is a paid partner of dPS

The post Tips for Getting Sharper Real Estate Interior Photographs by David Robinson appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Feb
21

6 Tips for How to Photograph Waterfalls

Filed Under Digital Photography School, Photography Tips and Tutorials

Waterfalls are some of the most beautiful natural features you will ever get the chance to photograph and are a very popular subject for landscape photographers. Photographing waterfalls provides a great way to get outdoors and explore nature.

 Tips for How to Photograph Waterfalls

There is something magical about the patterns and sounds of flowing water that really heighten your senses and make you feel at one with nature. Although waterfalls look great, you may be wondering well how do I photograph them? Here are six tips to help you on your way.

1 – Get the right equipment

You will be better equipped to photograph waterfalls if you have the right equipment. A wide-angle lens is essential to broaden the angle of view and ensure you are able to photograph the whole waterfall. You will also be able to get up close to the falls rather than photographing them from a distance.

Once you have found a great waterfall and have the right equipment to capture it, you are ready to take some photographs.

6 Tips for How to Photograph Waterfalls

2 – Experiment with different shutter speeds

So now that you have the gear, how do you take photos that capture the authenticity and beauty of the scene?

When photographing waterfalls, finding the ideal shutter speed involves a lot of experimenting. This step is all about trial and error, which is part of the fun. Try taking shots with different shutter speeds and check out the results to see the differences.

I would recommend taking pictures with both fast and slow shutter speeds ranging from between 1/500th of a second to a few seconds and see which style of image you prefer.

3 – Freeze motion

How you shoot waterfalls effectively depends on the look and feel of the image you are trying to achieve. If you want to capture the water in a static way, you will need to choose a fast shutter speed to freeze the motion of the water. This isolates the water in motion and gives a very different result to using an extended shutter speed.

See the difference between the three images below and how the change in shutter speed affects the water. (Images courtesy of dPS Managing Editor, Darlene Hildebrandt)

ISO 100, f/4, no ND filter, 1/640th of a second.

ISO 100, F/22, o.3 sec with ND filter

ISO 100, F/22, 1.3 sec with ND filter

4 – Blur motion

Using a slow shutter speed will help you to capture the water’s movement. You will find that the longer the shutter is open, the smoother the water will be. Be careful not to use a shutter speed that is too slow if the water is very fast flowing as the water may become one large white mass without any definition.

6 Tips for How to Photograph Waterfalls

Generally, you will obtain better results by using an extremely slow shutter speed of over a second. However, this will not be possible if you are hand holding the camera due to excessive camera shake, which brings us to the next tip.

5 – Use a tripod

Investing in a tripod will help to keep the camera more stable and enhance your chances of getting good images. The main advantage of using a tripod is that you are more likely to capture images of waterfalls that are sharper as the camera is less prone to movement during slower exposures.

Using a tripod will allow you to use slower shutter speeds to give you a smoother look and feel to your waterfall images. Images captured using long shutter speeds tend to look more dramatic and the silky water looks more appealing and pleasing to the eye.

If you do not have a tripod, you could set your camera on a stone or some other object to capture part or all of the waterfall.

6 Tips for How to Photograph Waterfalls

6 – Use a polarizing filter

One of the best ways to add some color to your images is to use a polarizing filter. This is a great way to deepen colors by increasing their saturation. But be aware that the polarizer also cuts the amount of light entering the camera, and thus increases your exposure by up to two stops of light.

6 Tips for How to Photograph Waterfalls

Polarizers also help to eliminate glare and reflections from the surface of the water and can be used to increase contrast. This is especially true when shooting during the day in bright conditions.

When adding a polarizer, the water you capture should become blurred, depending on how fast it is flowing. The advantage to using a polarizer is that you can increase the exposure time and slow the shutter speed, as the amount of light going through the lens is decreased. This allows you to create images with motion and silky-smooth water action.

Your turn

With these practical tips, it’s time for you to get out there and start photographing your next waterfall!

The post 6 Tips for How to Photograph Waterfalls by Jeremy Flint appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Feb
21

Tips for Shooting Landscape Photography Towards the Sun

Filed Under Digital Photography School, Photography Tips and Tutorials

Avoid photographing towards the sun is one of the most common tips you’ll hear for landscape photography. In fact, it’s a tip that I’ve shared previously myself.

While it’s not without a reason that’s it’s a well-known tip, it might not be as relevant today as it was several years ago. Today’s sensors and post-processing opportunities are much more forgiving and what once was a bad idea can now be an opportunity.

In this article, I’ll show you how including the sun in the frame can enhance the atmosphere and add an extra dimension to your images as well as sharing my best tips for doing so.

Why you should include the sun in your images

I’m sure that many of you are ready to jump straight into the comment section right now and tell me how much of a bad idea it is to shoot towards the sun. But give me a minute to explain a few reasons why it’s something you might want to consider doing with your landscape photography.

Tips for Shooting Landscape Photography Towards the Sun

The greatest benefit of adding the sun in the frame is that it adds depth to the image. Take the image above as an example. Remove the sun and the image becomes flat and much less interesting. With the sun included, the image comes to life and drags you into it.

Tips for Shooting Landscape Photography Towards the Sun

Compositionally it can also be beneficial. Of course, this depends on where you place the sun. In the example above, the bright sun serves as a focal point. Naturally, the viewer’s eye is guided along the cliffs and up towards the bright area.

Keep in mind that our eyes are naturally attracted to the brighter parts of the image.

Another benefit of shooting towards the sun is that you often get beautiful shadows striking towards you. This serves as additional leading lines and benefits the composition.

Tips for including the sun in your images

Now, there’s one thing I need to make clear; including the sun in an image won’t always be beneficial. There are certain conditions or methods you should take advantage of for this to work. Here are some tips.

The time of day matters

While there are exceptions, the best images come when the sun is low on the horizon. The sun then creates a soft glow and gives a nicely balanced light.

Tips for Shooting Landscape Photography Towards the Sun

During midday when the sun is positioned higher in the sky, the light is harsh and less pleasing to the eyes. Generally, this is something you want to avoid.

Consider the sun’s placement within the frame

I’ll start by saying this, there’s no one single correct spot to place the sun within your image. Sometimes it’s beneficial to place it in the center, while other times it’s better to place it on the side.

This is where trial and error, and experience come into play.

Tips for Shooting Landscape Photography Towards the Sun

In the image above, I chose to place the sun at the very edge of the frame. Partly obscured by the clouds, it doesn’t take too much attention but instead, you’re drawn to the beautiful light hitting the landscape.

If you are familiar with semi-advanced post-processing techniques, you might be aware of a processing style called light bleed. This is a technique that involves heavy dodging and enhancing/creating a light source that strikes through the image. However, this is an effect you’re able to get in-camera as well by placing the sun at the corner or edge of your frame.

Tips for Shooting Landscape Photography Towards the Sun

Other times, you want to place the sun in the center of the image. In the image above, placing the sun in the center adds a light source that your eyes naturally go toward. Had I instead placed the sun to the side, this image would be less balanced.

Obscure the sun

In my opinion, one of the most efficient ways of including the sun in your image is by partly obscuring it. Combining that with a narrow aperture, you get a nice sun-star or sunburst.

Tips for Shooting Landscape Photography Towards the Sun

Use a Graduated ND Filter

Since the sun is so much brighter than the surrounding landscape, it can be hard to capture a well-exposed image when including it in the frame. By using a Graduated ND Filter you’re able to darken the sky in your image – meaning that you can capture a well-balanced image even with the sun in the frame.

Unfortunately, a Graduated ND Filter is not always ideal. Since the transition between darkened and transparent parts of the filter is a straight line, it can create some unwanted effects if you’re photographing a scene where something is projecting above the horizon.

Graduated ND Filters are better to use when the horizon is flat, such as the image below:

Tips for Shooting Landscape Photography Towards the Sun

… Or bracket multiple exposures

Another more flexible method of capturing well-balanced images with the sun included is to bracket multiple exposures and blend them in a photo editor. This is the better choice when the sun is at the highest position in the sky, as the contrast is even greater.

For the image below, I captured three images; one exposed for the landscape, one exposed for the sky and one even darker to balance out the brightest parts.

Tips for Shooting Landscape Photography Towards the Sun

Your turn

Hopefully, I’ve been able to convince you that shooting towards the sun isn’t a complete no-no anymore. Have you captured any images that are shot towards the sun for your landscape photography? I would love to see them in a comment below!

The post Tips for Shooting Landscape Photography Towards the Sun by Christian Hoiberg appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Feb
19

How to Make Simple Stickers From Your Photos

Filed Under Digital Photography School, Photography Tips and Tutorials

When I was a kid a family friend used to pick me up from school and drop me off at home. The friend’s daughter and I always had a roaring time in the back seat, screaming and messing around like kids do. Then one day we were offered stickers for good behavior. And no stickers for bad behavior.

We silently collected a sticker each day and reverently stuck them on the inside of our wardrobes. We’d compare our collection when we visited each other’s houses and swap if we could agree on a fair trade. My friend moved away a long time ago, and I moved out of the family home. But my precious sticker collection remains in what is now my sister’s bedroom. And I’m not shy to admit that I do check in on them from time to time.

What is a sticker?

A sticker is a type of label made up of various materials that have a pressure sensitive adhesive on one side and an image on the other. They’re used for anything from decoration to functional purposes to bribing children. They can adhere to almost anything – walls, cars, clothing, and paper, to name a few.

While stickers are often associated with fun, they have quite a political presence, most commonly in the form of bumper stickers that demonstrate support for ideological or political causes.

How to Make Simple Stickers From Your Photos

A sticky bit of history

The history of stickers is more interesting than you might think. Some historians trace the origin of stickers back to ancient Egyptians where salespeople used a type of adhesive to advertise their wares. There is, however, conjecture about where the modern sticker originated. Some believe it was Sir Rowland Hill who invented the sticker in 1839 when he introduced the self-adhesive postage stamp. Others believe the stickers were created by European food merchants as an advertising technique – much like the Egyptians.

By the 1800s, lithography became the primary method for label making, though it was an expensive and complex process. But technology was moving quickly and toward the end of the century, and the labels became much more intricate and colorful. Labels around this time were affixed with a sticky gum or paste that required the user to lick or wet them before use. In the 1930s, R. Stanton Avery invented pre-cut stickers that didn’t require licking or wetting. As a result, stickers were used in mass as bumper stickers to distribute ideas to as many people as possible.

Because technology continued to streamline the making of labels, stickers exploded in popularity in the 1960s. This was especially the case for kids, who were fascinated by the colors and images. And they’ve “stuck” with us ever since.

Making your own photos into stickers

Making stickers is incredibly simple. You can send images to an online printing company and have a couple hundred stickers delivered to your door in a few days. Homemade stickers are a little different, but they’re more fun to make. They are also more personal, so they make lovely gifts too.

What you will need:

  • A printer
  • Some images on a computer
  • Plain sheets of label paper, not pre-cut
  • Scissors
How to Make Simple Stickers From Your Photos

Plain, un-cut label sheets are available at office supply stores.

How to Make Simple Stickers From Your Photos

Notice that the label paper here isn’t pre-cut into rectangles. This means you can print your images as large or as small as you like.

Method

First of all, open up your label paper. Some label packs come with sheets pre-cut into rectangles. Make sure you purchase sheets that aren’t already divided up. You will need a plain solid sheet of label paper or your images could be cut in half.

How to Make Simple Stickers From Your Photos

I really liked this sign I spotted on a trip overseas, I thought it would make a great sticker too.

Select a few images you are fond of. You could select images you find visually appealing, or perhaps some that hold some significance personally. Insert the label paper as you would a regular sheet of plain paper and print your images out.

How to Make Simple Stickers From Your Photos

Insert the label paper as you would regular paper and print your images out.

How to Make Simple Stickers From Your Photos

Finally, cut out your images and you are ready to go! Your own personal stickers ready to use anywhere you like! Simple, right?

How to Make Simple Stickers From Your Photos

The stickers you make are totally up to you. Find something sentimental or funny, or just gather a few photos you find inspiring.

Get creative

Of course, you don’t have to select your own images to print. Here I’ve sourced some designs for smaller stickers. Simply place your images into a Photoshop document as you would your selection of photographs. After printing simply cut them out and they are ready to go.

How to Make Simple Stickers From Your Photos

How to Make Simple Stickers From Your Photos

After printing this character onto label paper, I found that it made a great sticker for my boring phone case.

For this print of a cute little character named Pipo-Kun, I decided to add a layer of holographic contact paper to make the sticker a little more eye-catching. Peel and stick your original sticker to the front layer of contact paper. Then, when you want to stick your image somewhere, peel off the protective layer on the contact paper and stick it down instead.

Give it a try folks! I’d love to see the results!

The post How to Make Simple Stickers From Your Photos by Megan Kennedy appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Feb
19

How to Show More with Your Photographs by Thinking Outside the Frame

Filed Under Composition Tips, Digital Photography School, Photography Tips and Tutorials

In its simplest form, a photograph is a representation of a very limited part of space at a very limited point in time. This article is about choosing which tiny bit of reality to represent and how that choice can make a photograph into much more than just a record of time.

01 photography tips thinking outside the frame

The most obvious elements of any photograph are the subject, the foreground, and the background. The light and the time it takes to create the photo are equally essential. In this article, I’ll be focusing on an ingredient which may be less obvious, sometimes even overlooked, but never absent: the frame.

What is the frame?

By frame, I don’t mean a picture frame, but the edges of the photo.

02 photography tips thinking outside the frame

Take a look at the photo above. What’s going on? There’s the subject (a cat) the foreground, a bench, the background (a pink wall) and a branch of some kind. So what does the frame have to do with all this?

The frame of a photograph is what separates the obvious from the inferred. It’s part of why a good photograph means different things to different people because that which is inferred is subjective.

Consider the photograph of the cat again. The cat is about to pounce, which means that there’s something going on outside the frame. Maybe another cat is walking by, or maybe there’s a delicious-looking bird on the ground.

What’s outside the frame is just as important

03 photography tips thinking outside the frame

What is left outside the frame can tell a story of its own or be an essential part of the subject of the photo? By creating tension between the obvious and the inferred you wield a powerful tool to make even better photographs. Every image has a relation to the rest of the world, even though the immediate surroundings aren’t obvious or don’t seem to add anything.

04 photography tips thinking outside the frame

So how do you start thinking outside the frame?

I will show you a few examples so you get the idea.

1 – Make it obvious

The obvious way is to make it clear that there is something outside the frame that isn’t being shown. The easiest way to do this is to capture an interesting gaze or photograph a detail.

05 photography tips thinking outside the frame

In the image above, the groom is not looking at the camera, but towards something more interesting outside the frame. For those who recognize the setting, it may be obvious that he is looking towards the church door, which will soon reveal the bride; for others, the interpretation could be different.

06 photography tips thinking outside the frame

These photos show a part of something larger. The hands suggest a person, and might even reveal something about that person. The spiraling tree creates a looping line that continues outside the frame.

2 – Tie the subject to the setting

The scene inside the frame can be tied to a larger setting without the subject directly or indirectly touching the frame. This can make the subject seem large or small, create an open or claustrophobic feeling, or give the surroundings a sense of continuity.

07 photography tips thinking outside the frame

Take a look at the photo above. By surrounding a tiny subject with a single, strong color, that color almost always feels like it continues on and on. In this picture, does it give you a sense of comfort or claustrophobia?

08 photography tips thinking outside the frame

The idea with the photo above is somewhat similar, but the feeling of it is quite different. Here is a playful animal in its seemingly limitless element, suggesting unlimited enjoyment. Or do you see something quite different?

3 – Use pattern or rhythm

By using a pattern or rhythm in the photo, you can create an effect that allows the viewer to imagine infinity. The idea is the same as in the example above, but the execution and effect are different. Here, the pattern or rhythm itself can be the subject, and it’s that subject that leads the viewer outside the frame.

09 photography tips thinking outside the frame

The pattern of cracked sea ice works like a block of color. But since it’s more interesting than just a single color, it can stand by itself and let the eye wander through the details in the photo and the mind continue beyond.

10 photography tips thinking outside the frame

A seascape like the one in the image above can suggest an infinitely large ocean just by showing an unbroken horizon. The ocean doesn’t only continue into the photo, though, it also continues sideways and beyond the edges of the photo. The rhythm of the clouds emphasizes this illusion.

4 – Reflections

Reflections are also an effective way of suggesting a wider world outside the constraints of the photograph. It’s a more direct way of pointing to the wider context.

11 photography tips thinking outside the frame

Concrete walls can suggest many things, but thanks to the reflection in the window it becomes quite clear that the photo is not taken in a concrete jungle, but in a verdant and sunny place. Reading the expression on the subject’s face becomes quite different thanks to the wider context.

Conclusion

Photography is always about choices, conscious or not. The more photography you do, the more deliberate your choices will become. Being aware of this gives you more control over your creative process. The creative decisions you can make based on those choices is what makes photography art.

How you frame your photographs is just one of the things to keep in mind when you photograph.

Do you pay attention to what you leave out when you take a photo? Do you have any examples or thoughts you’d like to share about how you’ve used the frame and what’s beyond as an element in your photography? I’d love to hear about it and see your photos in the comments below.

The post How to Show More with Your Photographs by Thinking Outside the Frame by Hannele Luhtasela-el Showk appeared first on Digital Photography School.