5 DIY Macro Photography Hacks for Stunning Macro Photos (on a Budget)

The post 5 DIY Macro Photography Hacks for Stunning Macro Photos (on a Budget) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Do you want to take stunning macro photos…

…on a budget?

In this article, I’m going to show you exactly how you can capture amazing macro photos (without breaking the bank). You’ll discover 5 DIY macro photography hacks which you can use for consistently gorgeous images.

5 DIY Macro Photography Hacks for Stunning Macro Photos (on a Budget)

Sound good?

Let’s dive right in, starting with:

1. Use a board for a stunning macro photography background

First things first:

In macro photography, the background matters almost as much as your main subject. Because the background is what makes your main subject stand out.

One of my favorite backgrounds is a solid, uniform color:

Dark black.

Black backgrounds allow you to capture somber, moodier macro photography. Like this:

5 DIY Macro Photography Hacks for Stunning Macro Photos (on a Budget)

Now, achieving a natural black background in nature can be tough. Which is why this DIY hack is so valuable. Because you can use it to create a deep black background in all of your macro photos.

Here’s what you do:

Step 1: Go to your local hardware store and purchase a plywood board. I’d suggest something ultra-thin (because wood can get heavy, fast). I’d also go for a decent size: at least two feet on all sides.

Step 2: Purchase black paint and primer. I recommend getting a sample paint pot (one should be more than enough). These are cheap and work just fine. The primer is to prevent the wood from tainting the color.

Step 3: Add the primer and paint the board. I’d recommend two coats of black paint for that ultra-dark look.

Step 4: Let the board dry.

Now comes the fun part:

Actually taking the photos!

You should choose a main subject that’s fairly light (e.g., yellow and white flowers). Position your main subject so that it’s in the sun, with the black board in the shade, a foot or so behind it. You want to create as much contrast as possible between the board and your subject. That is, you want a light subject on a dark board.


The goal is to lose absolutely all detail in the background. If you don’t fully achieve this in-camera, you can use an editing program to drop the blacks in your images.

You can still make this work with diffused (i.e., cloudy) light. But you’ll need to do a bit more work in post-processing to bring down the blacks.

Bottom line?

You can work some serious magic with just a board and some paint.

Try it yourself! And watch as you capture amazing macro images.

2. Use a lightbox for a stunning high-key, transparent look

Have you ever wanted to capture macro photos that look bright and high-key? Maybe even transparent?

With this DIY hack, you can!

All you need is a basic lightbox, often used by artists for tracing. You can purchase one for around 20 dollars on Amazon. While a bigger lightbox is generally better, anything A4 and above should work fine.

Once you have your lightbox, you’ll need to choose a main subject. Flowers with translucent petals work best. And the flatter the flower, the better.

You’ll want to work in a room that has only diffused ambient light. You want your flowers to have a soft, even look.

Then turn on the lightboard, and place your flowers on top of it.


I recommend shooting parallel to the lightbox from above. While you can do everything handheld, I don’t recommend this, especially if your flowers are more three dimensional. Instead, mount your camera on a tripod and use a narrow aperture (i.e., f/8 and above) to ensure perfect sharpness.

Once you have your shots, you’ll probably need to do a bit of post-processing. I recommend increasing the whites, to give a slightly brighter, airier look.

3. Shoot with one flower in a vase for powerful compositions

There’s no doubt about it:

The way that flowers are positioned can make a macro shot look amazing…or terrible. If several flowers are overlapping, your photo may fall flat.

But if you can isolate a single flower

…that’s when things start to look really compelling.

Now, when you’re shooting in nature, you don’t have much control over this. You have to work with what you’ve got.

But if you use this DIY macro photography hack, you can capture a gorgeous set of macro flower photos.


Here’s how it works:

Go to your local grocery store, and purchase a bouquet of your favorite flowers. I like to work with tulips, but you can really use anything!

When you get home, check over the flowers for blemishes and other issues. Find the biggest, best-looking flowers of the bunch.

And then put them all in separate vases (or cups).

5 DIY Macro Photography Hacks for Stunning Macro Photos (on a Budget)

Note: You want the flowers to extend pretty far over the top of the vase, which is why I suggest you avoid taller vases.

The next time the light is good, take all the vases outside. Place them in front of a gorgeous background.

(I often use an orange sky at sunset.)

And then photograph all the flowers, individually. Because they’re in separate vases, they’ll all be perfectly isolated. And this will allow you to easily capture powerful compositions.

Try it.

You’ll love the final product.

5 DIY Macro Photography Hacks for Stunning Macro Photos (on a Budget)

4. Detach your lens for an artistic macro look

If you’re bored of getting the same macro look over and over again, then this DIY macro photography hack is for you.

It’ll help you capture photos with brilliant light leaks, like this:


If you’re familiar with the concept of freelensing, it’s like that, but with a twist.

Here’s how you do it:

Choose a backup camera body and a cheap camera lens in the 50mm range. (There’s a slight risk of exposing your camera sensor to dirt.)

Focus your lens to infinity.

Then turn off your camera, and detach the lens.

Next, turn the camera back on, and pull the lens just slightly away from the camera (it should still be detached!).

This will actually magnify your subject, while often giving you some amazingly artistic light leaks.


And while the technique may require a bit of experimentation, you’ll get the hang of it pretty quick, and you’ll capture some gorgeous macro photos.

5. Use fairy lights for amazing background bokeh

Here’s your final DIY macro photography hack (and it’s one of my favorites):

Use fairy lights for gorgeous macro backgrounds. They’ll get you photos like this:


To start, grab a set of fairy lights on Amazon (for around 10 dollars). I recommend a neutral or warmer color.

Go out to shoot around dusk, when the light is really starting to fade.

Find a nice subject, and position the fairy lights directly behind it. You can dangle them from surrounding vegetation, or you can hold them with your left hand.

Now, you don’t want to position the fairy lights too close, or else you’ll capture the wiring in your photos. Instead, you want them to show some nice bright light without being prominently featured.

You should also make sure to use a shallow aperture, in the area of f/2.8 to f/5.6. That way, the fairy lights will be fully blurred, creating some stunning bokeh.

The trick is an easy one, but it’ll get you amazing macro photos!


DIY macro photography hacks for stunning macro images: Conclusion

You’ve now discovered five DIY macro photography hacks.

And you can use them for stunning macro photos all the time.

So go ahead and start. Make your black board. Grab yourself some fairy lights.

And take some amazing macro photos!

Do you have any DIY hacks of your own for beautiful macro shots? Share them in the comments!



The post 5 DIY Macro Photography Hacks for Stunning Macro Photos (on a Budget) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Stunning Capture of Kingfisher Catching a Fish – Behind The Shot

The post Stunning Capture of Kingfisher Catching a Fish – Behind The Shot appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.


Do you want to know how to photograph a Kingfisher catching a fish? Then read on!

About this stunning capture of Kingfisher catching a fish

Photographer: Janet Smith

Camera Settings: 80mm focal distance, auto ISO, f5.6, 1/1200th. Camera set to manual and continuous silent shooting.

Camera equipment: Canon 5D mark IV, Canon 70-200mm f2.8, Neweer remote trigger, Manfrotto tripod, and black bin bag as a rain cover.

Where and when was the shot taken?

Shropshire Photography hides, Market Drayton near Shropshire and Staffordshire borders, 6 July 2019, around 3:30 pm.

What is the background behind getting the shot?

This is my bucket list shot – a shot that I thought I’d never be able to take because I could not afford to buy a fast lens which I was told is required in this type of shot.

Then almost a year ago, Brendan Van Son gifted me his old Canon 70-200mm f2.8 lens after learning I’ve wanted one but could not afford it. Having the lens opened up a whole new world for me. I saved and booked a hide day at Shropshire Photography Hides that got canceled three times because of bad weather and Minks decimating the Kingfisher nest and killing all the birds.

On the 6th of July, I finally managed to get to the hide. The day was overcast, drizzly, and windy. I set up the camera at water level and wrapped in a black bin bag to keep it dry. Then I set the camera to manual, f5.6, auto ISO and 1/1200th, set up the remote trigger and waited.

It took nearly six hours of waiting and shooting before I got this shot. I could not get the timing right, and this bird was super-fast. The light was also very low, and the drizzle persisted.

I ended up with more misses than hits, but it was well worth it. One thing I learned is patience and determination pays off. And maybe nicer weather would have helped as well.

What method or technique did you use to achieve the shot?

I prefocused on the area where the bird was likely to enter the water with the camera set on silent continuous shooting to minimize noise.

Describe any post-processing, including tools and techniques used

There was very minimal post-processing. I did a close crop to show more of the water movement and the bird. Also, I lightened-up the shadows +25 on the photoshop slider, pulled up the vibrance to +15, and exposure to +5.

What are your tips for others wanting to achieve a shot like this?

My tip is to be patient, ask for advice from seasoned bird photographers and observe the bird’s behavior. I learned that this bird would move three paces either left or right and bob it’s head down before diving. As soon as it does that, I pressed the remote and continue pressing until it was back on the branch.

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The post Stunning Capture of Kingfisher Catching a Fish – Behind The Shot appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

3 Easy Tips for Photographing Details in a Scene

The post 3 Easy Tips for Photographing Details in a Scene appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Lily Sawyer.

Regardless of the type of event I photograph, I ALWAYS photograph details. Why? Because details help tell the story of an event that nothing else can. Details aid the recollection of memories: words and conversations, scents and aromas, spoken and unspoken emotions. Details also help cement these memories in our brains.


Newborns grow so fast and often parents are exhausted beyond belief. Photographing details helps them remember the sweet moments, especially of those first days. The first tuft of hair, the tiniest fingers, milk spots, windy smiles, hospital tags, first baby hats, and mittens. Captured in details, these moments can be cherished more often and for much longer.

Wedding days go in a total haze for many a couple. All the weeks and hours they have put into planning the decorations and color scheme down to the minutest detail and they don’t even have a moment to fully appreciate them on the wedding day. I carve out time to capture hundreds of detail photos during a wedding. They are just as important as all the other photojournalistic and documentary captures of people and events unfolding on the day.


You don’t need to have an expensive kit to take some good, solid photos. All the photos in this article were intentional snapshots taken during a day trip with me as a tourist. No flashes, just a camera, a 60mm fixed lens and an observant eye looking for details.

Here are 3 tips I find helpful when photographing details:

1. Storytelling

Photographs are no doubt one of the most visually exciting ways to tell a story, so tell it well using photographs of details.

Let’s consider the five elements of a story to help us communicate it effectively: setting, characters, plot, conflict, resolution.

Below is a series of photographs I shot with intent to tell a simple short story (real captures and not staged) with the above elements in mind.





Characters and Plot




This is just a simplistic way of showing you how a story can be captured beautifully in details. The setting is in Copenhagen on a soaking wet and cold day. It had been heavily raining for a good while. Droplets have collected on the bridge adorned with love locks. It’s summer (as seen on the date in the newspaper), and the map is sodden. Somewhere nice and cozy to dry off and relax would be welcome. A girl wrapped in a thick blanket browses the menu. Hot cocoas put a big smile on the children’s faces. It’s a happy summer once again.

2. Composition

a. Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds is probably the most well-known and popular composition techniques. It is also my favourite and the easiest that comes to me. The frame is divided into thirds horizontally and vertically. Where the sections intersect are the strongest points where your main image or interest in the image should be placed.


This is illustrated above left where the yellow building occupies two-thirds of the space and one third on the left is the overcast sky. In the above right image, the two buildings intersect on a third of the frame. The point of the small tower is positioned about a third from the bottom of the image and a third from the left.

Plain snapshots like these look stronger with this rule of thirds composition.


Can you see how these two images above use the rule of thirds composition?

b. Symmetry/centred

Another favorite of mine is symmetry; where the main point of interest in the image is placed at the center of the frame. A central composition accentuates the importance of the subject and emphasizes its superiority.


The image above shows the fish at the center and two symmetrical areas on either side of it. More symmetry – the tables and chairs and the windows on either side – strengthens this image further. You can feel the solidity of the structure because of the centered composition.

c. Fill the Frame

As with the above, filling the frame strengthens composition and makes the viewer focus intensely on the subject without unnecessary distractions. The viewer can explore details that otherwise would be lost had the image not filled the frame and cropped distractions. Filling the frame is an effective way of highlighting a point of interest and telling its story from much closer.


d. Depth and foreground interest

Photographs are two dimensional in nature. Many images only show the subject and background. Including foreground adds a third dimension to the space. It increases its depth and makes the viewer feel as if they are on the outside looking in. I use this technique for anything and everything: portraits, objects, or action.

A foreground interest also invites the viewer to explore other elements in the image and look deeper into the other areas of the frame, not just first thing that meets their eye. Because you are inviting the viewer’s eye to move around the image, you make your image more dynamic.


3. Angles

Change your point of view

We see virtually everything at eye level. We often walk around with our faces looking forward not upwards, downwards or sideways. So whenever we change our point of view into a bird’s eye view or worm’s eye view or perspective, we find ourselves seeing new interesting things in common and familiar objects. It’s something I always try to remind myself when shooting: look up, look down, look right, and look left.

In the image below, you can see I’ve also combined this bird’s eye view with the symmetrical composition and the rule of thirds.


Perspective and leading lines

Something as mundane as a bird on a bench can be captured with a touch more interest by moving a few steps sideways and photographing it from a perspective viewpoint. Doing this is making use of the line of the bench to lead the viewer’s eye to the bird – the focal point of the image.

I didn’t want to get too close lest I scared it away. It caught my eye because I thought it was a crow. Then I noticed it was wearing some white feathers like a cardigan on its black body. Look out for leading lines, whether they be straight like benches, rails and fences, or curvy like windy paths, a stream of water or patterned tiles on pavements.



I find photographing details exciting, mentally challenging, and thoroughly enjoyable. It keeps me on my toes, especially when I try to tell a story. I feel a sense of achievement when I’m happy with the results. I hope you try it sometime if you haven’t yet.

If you have any tips for photographing details, do share them in the comments below.



The post 3 Easy Tips for Photographing Details in a Scene appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Lily Sawyer.

Filling the Frame: 5 Simple Yet Powerful Ways to Improve Your Photos

The post Filling the Frame: 5 Simple Yet Powerful Ways to Improve Your Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Anthony Epes.


Successful photographs usually have one thing in common – an obvious point of focus or a subject that is the dominating element.

One of the main reasons a photograph falls flat is because there is no central or main feature to draw in the viewer’s attention.

One very easy way to combat boring, flat photos is to practice the simple idea of filling the frame.

Of course, you might say – I always fill the frame; it’s impossible not to!


With this idea, though, you are working on being a lot more intentional about how you compose.

When we “fill the frame,” we are attempting to make a photo’s intention completely clear. The viewer should have no doubt as to what the photograph is about.

Instead of getting fixated on your subject, and focusing your attention almost totally on that (something I see people doing all the time on my workshops), we are considering every single part of the frame.


We are looking at the corners. This is probably the most common thing many of my students don’t do – look at what’s in their corners.

Often there are things that don’t need to be there which you only realize afterward when studying your images.

We are considering what is running alongside the edges. What’s poking in that shouldn’t be there? It’s amazing how a stray branch or a bit of litter can make its way into your image without you noticing.


We become aware of every part of the frame to make sure that every single element is working to complement our subject.

Now, this is key. Every single thing in your frame needs to be working with, or complementing your subject.

If it’s not, you need to move around and try to work the subject and surrounding elements into a better composition.

Filling the Frame: 5 Simple Yet Powerful Ways to Improve Your Photos

Sometimes a photographer will react too quickly. They make a photo from where they are standing instead of thinking about the most favorable position to be in and how it can greatly improve the image.

I mention position here because I believe it is the first option when it comes to filling the frame with a subject.

Usually, what happens when we do not fill the frame with our subject is we end up creating a lot of space in the photograph. This is all fine if you are using this space with intent. However, if you are not, then it just looks vast and empty, and your subject is competing with the “bad space.”

Filling the Frame: 5 Simple Yet Powerful Ways to Improve Your Photos

Changing your position and getting closer to your subject is your best first choice. Remove that unwanted space by physically moving closer or zoom in if you must. (I will always prefer moving to zooming).

Have a look at the photos of mine that I’ve included in this article. They are all images where everything in the frame is 100% relevant. Even with a complex image like this, I have considered every part of it:

Filling the Frame: 5 Simple Yet Powerful Ways to Improve Your Photos

5 Simple but Powerful Ways to Improve Your Photos

1. Always think about your position

In general, bad photographs have way too much wasted space. You can easily remedy this by thinking about your position relative to your subject.

Do you need to get closer to reduce wasted space around your subject? This also has the added benefit of making a photo more intimate when you get closer.

Filling the Frame: 5 Simple Yet Powerful Ways to Improve Your Photos

2. If moving is not an option, then consider switching lenses

If changing position is not possible, then now would be a good time to switch lenses. This method is not as good (I think) as changing your physical position, but it can allow you to fill the frame, drawing interest to your subject.


3. Check the edges of the frame

This is a very common mistake for beginner-photographers.

Some do not put enough effort into looking at the entire frame and what lies on the edges of it. When you shoot this way, you find yourself cropping a lot more to remove those things you overlooked when shooting.

It is better to learn to see the whole frame than to get good at cropping because you didn’t see it in-camera.

Filling the Frame: 5 Simple Yet Powerful Ways to Improve Your Photos

4. Photography is a process of reduction

Let’s say you moved in closer to fill that frame. Now is a good time to ask yourself – is there anything else that does not need to be in the frame?

You can find the answer to this by asking if it is helping or hurting your subject. If you decide the element does not need to be there then take it out.

This usually requires a change of position or some movement from you!


5. Don’t fixate on your subject

If you are really dedicated to filling your frame and making better images, then my one ultimate piece of advice is to NOT fixate on your subject.

This is the #1 reason photographers are dissatisfied with their images later.

Sure, be in awe and wonder of what you are shooting, that’s part of the joy of doing photography. However, don’t lose yourself to the point your composition is not it’s very best.



Remember to always shoot with intent.

I would love to know what you think of my tips and ideas about ways to improve your photos. Please let me know in the comments below.

Is this an idea you practice? Alternatively, is this new and you think you might use this in the future?

Thanks for reading.



The post Filling the Frame: 5 Simple Yet Powerful Ways to Improve Your Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Anthony Epes.

How to Use Vibrant Colors in Photography with Great Success

The post How to Use Vibrant Colors in Photography with Great Success appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Nisha Ramroop.

How to Use Vibrant Colors in Photography with Great Success

Your camera is capable of capturing intense, true color that is almost everywhere you look. So how hard could it be? Answer: It is actually quite easy to capture color. However, you need to practice a little more awareness when it comes to creating images with that extra “oomph.” Here are a few tips to help you capture vibrant colors in photography.

1. Keep it simple/details

As with other types of photography, simplicity is an art on its own. While details are can be essential too, sometimes scaling back on the amount of details is required. Thus, when working with vibrant colors in photography, your story may have more impact when you include only the key elements as opposed to having too much going on.

How to Use Vibrant Colors in Photography with Great Success

You can achieve simplicity in different ways. The first is by minimizing the number of colors in the frame. Yes, there are instances when many colors work well together in an image, but at other times it gets confusing. You need to direct your viewer’s eyes. Another way to keep it simple is to avoid too many details in your composition. It has the same effect as too many colors. When working with vibrant colors, simple works better.

2. Experiment with color combinations

Starting small is usually better with bolder colors. You can focus on one main color and build from there. When you start adding other colors in, determine if they work well together. Fortunately, you do not have to reinvent the color wheel and have tried-and-true color harmonies to use to your advantage.

How to Use Vibrant Colors in Photography with Great Success

Color harmony is a combination that is visually appealing to the eyes. Some of the options include complementary colors (those directly opposite each other on the wheel) and analogous color (those next to each other).

Both of these harmonies exist in the natural world. A sunset of oranges and blues is an example of complementary colors. Whereas a green tree against the midday blue sky is more along the lines of analogous color. When you are working with color combinations, spend the time to make the final image pleasing to the eyes.

How to Use Vibrant Colors in Photography with Great Success

3. Make colors stand out/playoff

Your scene may be full of color, vibrant and busy. If this is what you want to portray, then all is well. On the other hand, what if there is a subject in that chaos that you want to isolate? You can use color to make that happen. To do so, one of your options is to desaturate/tone down the colors that are not contributing to your subject’s story.

How to Use Vibrant Colors in Photography with Great Success

Another is putting a bright color against a dull one to help it to stand out more. Also, adjusting the hue and lightness of the colors next to your main color can help it pop.

Here are a few easy ways for you to help your colors play off each other:

White Balance

Pay attention to your use of white balance when working with bold and strong colors. Your camera has several white balance options to deal with different lighting situations (Shade, Cloudy, Fluorescent, etc.). Each of these affects the overall color of your image. They either move your color to the warmer side (by adding yellow) or to the cooler side (by adding blue). Thus, white balance can enhance your colors or change the hue altogether.


Note: If you do not want your colors to end up looking too blue or yellow, you have the option of manually adjusting your white balance color temperature.


By default, Saturation is used to enhance the color intensity of every color in an image. However, you can use editing software and use Saturation selectively. When trying to make colors play off each other, you can increase the intensity of one color while desaturating other colors in the scene.


Vibrance vs Saturation (the same level applied)


When you change the Vibrance in an image, it is a little more specific than Saturation. Vibrance only adjusts the intensity of the duller colors in your image. When playing off colors, this tool can be very effective.

How to Use Vibrant Colors in Photography with Great Success


When working with vibrant colors, be aware of your palette. Keep your compositions simple by minimizing the number of colors and details in your image. Work with the color wheel and learn about the various harmonies that exist. When you pay attention to all the colors in your image, you get a better sense of how they work together. You also understand the way each color affects and plays off the other. Most of all, have fun experimenting while you learn about color!

Do you have other tips for using vibrant colors in photography? Share with us in the comments section!



The post How to Use Vibrant Colors in Photography with Great Success appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Nisha Ramroop.

Street Photographer Attacked on Social Media for Taking Photos in Public

The post Street Photographer Attacked on Social Media for Taking Photos in Public appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Image: Joshua Rosenthal’s Instagram feed.

Joshua Rosenthal’s Instagram feed.

Are you a street photographer?

Have you considered what might go wrong in your line of work?

Most street photographers don’t.

But maybe they should.

Joshua Rosenthal is your average street photographer. He goes out with his camera, photographs people in public places, and posts the photos on his website and Instagram. He does no harm, and nobody is bothered.

Until this past week, when Rosenthal’s actions attracted a lot of attention – and not in a good way.

Rosenthal journeyed to the Ventura County Fair in California. He walked around, taking photos of fairgoers. People noticed, became suspicious, and the police questioned Rosenthal. But doing photography in a public place is not a crime, and so nothing came of it.

According to the police department:

“The subject was contacted by police officers at the Fair on that date and has been contacted again today for questioning. No crime occurred during this incident.”

Rosenthal probably thought that being questioned at the county fair was the end of things; after all, he hadn’t broken the law.


So it was most likely a huge surprise when he awoke the next morning to find his name plastered all over social media alongside accusations of pedophilia and of predatory behavior.

As it turned out, a number of fairgoers took videos and photos of Rosenthal at the fair, which depicted Rosenthal snapping images of a young girl. These videos and photos were promptly distributed on social media, capturing intense attention.

One poster writes “Hey moms and dads, beware of this P.O.S. at the fair. He’s going around taking pictures of…little girls, in dresses.”

Another poster compared Rosenthal’s actions to child traffickers, while a third wondered whether he is a “perv.”

Rosenthal was questioned once again by the police but was not arrested. We can be confident that no legal action will be taken against Rosenthal.

Rosenthal has plans, however. He will be reaching out to the ACLU, which deals with civil liberty cases. He explains, “This is more about the First Amendment and doxing than it is about me.” He also apologized to the parents of the girl he was seen photographing.

For all the street photographers out there:

How would you handle this scenario? And how do you handle taking photos of children?

One way to prevent this kind of thing is to ask permission before photographing children. The parents might refuse, and that’s okay; there are plenty of people to photograph in the world!

Another way to protect yourself is to avoid photographing children entirely. As Rosenthal found out, parents are often extremely uncomfortable with their children being photographed, and for good reason. While there are plenty of harmless photographers out there, dedicated street photographers aren’t the only people taking photos of children.

What do you think? Do you have any tips for avoiding these difficult situations? Do you feel comfortable photographing children?

Leave a comment below!

The post Street Photographer Attacked on Social Media for Taking Photos in Public appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

What You Can Learn From Entirely Different Photography Genres

The post What You Can Learn From Entirely Different Photography Genres appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Mat Coker.

If you spend any length of time within one photography genre, you come to the point when you wonder, what would take me to the next level?

Deepening your creativity often means making connections between unlikely things.

If you want to deepen your photography, one option is to take what you learn from one genre and apply it to another. Could you find something used in portrait photography and apply it to landscapes? How about taking an approach from birth photography and applying it to real estate photography?

Let’s explore the idea of combining approaches from different photography genres.

Street and landscape photography combined

I had been out taking some landscape photos when I saw these canoes. A photo of the canoes on their own wasn’t working out for me. But when I saw this child come walking by it gave me an idea. I thought of all the street photos I had seen of people walking past interesting objects or backgrounds. For the fun of it, I adopted that concept here. I love the way the boots echo the yellow canoe.

What Portraiture can teach us about Landscape or Nature Photography

I’m a portrait photographer. What I love about portraiture is exploring the way people express their hidden selves through their body. You can see expression and gesture in feet, hands, and faces.

If you love to photograph nature and landscapes, you can take this concept of gesture (something we normally look for in people or animals) and apply it to your nature photography.

The more I focus on gesture in people, the more I see it in nature as well. Consider what Jay Maisel has to say in his book, Light, Gesture, and Color:

“Gesture is the expression that is at the very heart of everything we shoot. It’s not just the determined look on a face; it’s not just the grace of a dancer or athlete. It is not only the brutalized visage of the bloodied boxer. Neither is it only limited to age, or youth, or people, or animals. It exists in a leaf, a tree, and a forest. It reveals the complicated veins of the leaf, the delta-like branches of the tree, and when seen from the air, the beautiful texture of the forest.”

I believe something like gesture is what we’re after when playing with lines in a photo or even slow shutter speeds. Look at nature through the lens of gesture, and you’ll be more creative in your nature photography.

Low angle photo of a tree suggesting gesture.

When I looked up at this tree, it was the gesture of the branches that drew me in. It takes decades for those branches to get there. Though they’re holding perfectly still, there is the feeling of gesture because of their shape.

Flower photo with gesture.

I love to play with light. While photographing these flowers, a little lens flare struck my view. It’s very subtle, but on the right side of the photo, you can see a faint burst of warm light. It’s as if the flowers are reaching for the light.

What Wedding Photography can teach us about Food Photography

I’m not a food photographer, but if I photograph a wedding or event, I try to include a photograph of the dinner. Couples pay a lot for their meal, so why not add a photo? The problem is a stark white dinner plate full of food looks lifeless and uninspiring among all the other wedding moments. There was a disconnect between my candid event photography and my attempt at food photography.

Weddings are about writing a new story; joining families and sharing life. But I discovered that there is just as much of a story in the food as there is in the rest of the wedding. When I was able to chat with a chef as she prepared food for the guests, I came to learn how much she loves her craft. There is as much heart in the preparation as there is in the sharing of the meal.

So I began to photograph the meal just like I did the rest of the wedding. I took the heart of what I had been pursuing in all those candid wedding photos and applied it to photographing the food.

What You Can Learn From Entirely Different Photography Genres

What You Can Learn From Entirely Different Photography Genres

What You Can Learn From Entirely Different Photography Genres

What You Can Learn From Entirely Different Photography Genres

What You Can Learn From Entirely Different Photography Genres

What Birth Photography and Real Estate Photography can teach us about each other

I can’t imagine two genres more opposed than birth photography and real estate photography.

If I tell a friend that I photographed a house for a real estate agent, they don’t care. They assume it’s just something boring I do for money. But when my wife tells people she photographs births, their jaws hit the floor and a passionate discussion ensues.

For most people, maybe photographers too, real estate photography is a boring necessity while birth photography is an exciting adventure. After all, one of those life experiences is about drama, emotion, and new beginnings, while the other is a series of appointments and paperwork until the ordeal is over.

Yes, but which experience is which?

Have you ever bought or sold a house? Then you know there is plenty of drama and emotion involved. Have you ever had a baby? Then you know there are plenty of appointments and paperwork. Both experiences – home-buying and having babies – are filled with the potential for adventure and emotion.

Try taking the obvious emotional excitement of birth photography and applying it to real estate photography. When you force yourself to flip everything on its head, you might see something quite different.

Many families have a negative birth experience. They’re treated like a commodity by their doctors and the hospital staff. A birth photographer knows that even if a laboring woman is given a bad experience by hospital staff, the photos still have to portray the unique beauty of the experience.

Even though real estate photography may often feel like a commodity, it can be a beautiful part of the story. First-time homebuyers are on an amazing life journey. Perhaps there can be more spontaneity and emotion in real estate photography than we first think – even if it’s hard to represent in typical real estate photos.

different-photography-genres-Birth photography

My wife, Naomi, made these birth photos. I love to see the range of emotion and depth of personality in her photos. But they certainly make my real estate photos look dull.




Real estate photography

I know that my real estate photos are part of a larger story and every once in a while I have the chance to photograph that story. Sometimes that comes by being able to photograph the move-in day.

What You Can Learn From Entirely Different Photography Genres


What You Can Learn From Entirely Different Photography Genres

What You Can Learn From Entirely Different Photography Genres

What Street Photography can teach us about Newborn Photography

If you’re tired of posing newborn photos, street photographers can be your guide. They are masters of spontaneity – taking whatever moments the situation gives to them. Street photographers are explorers of society. As a newborn photographer, you can be an explorer of human nature in newborns.

Wait and see what that baby will do. Take what the newborn gives you rather than forcing your vision and poses on them. There is nothing wrong with posing, but it can be exciting to explore other moments that happen naturally.

Newborn photography

Do you know all those adorable photos of newborns wrapped in beautiful fabrics and placed in baskets? Well, this is the reality; a screaming newborn and bewildered older brother. Take the moments that come to you.

Think beyond your genre of photography

When you want to deepen your creativity as a photographer, begin with the principles of the genre of photography you’re working within. When you’re ready to go even deeper, go beyond the principles of your genre and consider what different photography genres might teach you.



The post What You Can Learn From Entirely Different Photography Genres appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Mat Coker.

Weekly Photography Challenge – Wires

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

This week’s photography challenge topic is WIRES!

Go out and capture absolutely anything that includes wires. It could be wires hanging off the side of a building, electricity wires, electronics, phone wires, washing lines, cable cars, chairlifts, wire fences etc. They can be color, black and white, moody or bright. Just so long as they include wires! You get the picture! Have fun, and I look forward to seeing what you come up with!

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

Tips for Shooting WIRES

7 Steps to Create Street Photography Silhouettes

How to Create Powerful Silhouettes by Telling a Story

Photographing Buildings [Composition Tips]

5 Tips for Developing an Eye for Details in Your Photography

8 Quick Tips to Improve Your Photos of Architectural Details

The Ultimate Guide to Street Photography

The Ultimate Guide to Zone Focusing for Candid Street Photography


Weekly Photography Challenge – WIRES

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 #DPSwires 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 – Wires appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

How be a Second Shooter at Weddings and Why it’s Important

The post How be a Second Shooter at Weddings and Why it’s Important appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

Getting started in wedding photography takes more than your camera gear. In order to really get an idea of what photographing a wedding is truly like, becoming a second shooter can be the perfect way to get you started.


Why it’s important to be a second shooter?

Getting started in weddings means that you should have a high level of photographic experience not only technically, like how to use your camera, but also what goes into photographing a wedding.

Second shooting allows you to shadow a photographer, photograph the entire wedding, and get real hands-on experience without having all the pressure fall on you to get every photo right.

Image: A second shooter can get creative with angles, perspective, and photograph key guests at wedd...

A second shooter can get creative with angles, perspective, and photograph key guests at weddings.

Being a second photographer can also give you insight into the customer service aspects of weddings like keeping to a timeline, knowing what to expect if something goes wrong, and seeing how each photographer you second for handles the pressure.

As a second shooter, you can also determine if weddings and events are something you’d even like to pursue. You also don’t have the pressure of booking a wedding client and then not knowing what or how to go about photographing it or if you’ll even like it.

How be a Second Shooter at Weddings and Why it's Important

Working alongside an experienced wedding photographer can also let you in on industry tips and tricks that they’ve learned throughout the years. You can also ask questions and observe how they work at a wedding. This will help you when you start photographing events as the primary photographer.

Difference between second photographer and assisting

Although it may seem like there isn’t a difference between assisting and second shooting, there is. Assistants are just that. They assist the main photographer with anything from carrying bags and equipment, to helping with veils, styling, or running to grab something for a photo. An assistant is an extra pair of hands.

How be a Second Shooter at Weddings and Why it's Important

Assistants generally don’t help photograph a wedding. However, depending on the terms that the main photographer has set up for the position, sometimes you may.

A second photographer is someone who helps photograph a wedding in tandem with the main photographer. As a second shooter, you are usually responsible for photographing the in-between moments and get a different, more creative angle on photos.

Reach out to photographers


The first step in getting a second shooting gig is to reach out to photographers that inspire you, are looking for help on wedding days, or people you know who wouldn’t mind having an extra photographer at the wedding.

Your email can be simple and concise like:


My name is ____________. Firstly, I love your work and it’s an inspiration to me as a new wedding photographer. I was wondering if you needed a second photographer at events, as I would love to learn the ropes before jumping into wedding photography full time. I have the following gear: __________. You can see my portfolio at www.yourwebsite.com.

Thank you so much for your time!

Your name.

Emailing a busy photographer a short and to-the-point email is best. They may say no, which is okay. You should respond with a thank you email along with the message that if they ever need anyone in the future, you are available. They can then keep your information on file should they need a second photographer in the future.


Also, there are many social media groups where you can look for second shooting jobs in your local area. Many photographers can hire on the spot just by looking at your website and gear.

Make sure to sign a contract

Second shooting with a contract is highly recommended. Not all photographers do this. However, you can draft one up for them just in case they don’t have one ready.

Include the details of the event, how long you’ll be second shooting, what you’re expected to cover, and finally, the delivery of the photos and payment.


Many photographers will want you to use your own equipment and will ask you what you photograph with. If this is the case, make sure to put this in the contract as well.

Just as an important note as well, when you second shoot, the images that you take may not be under your copyright. Most contracts will state that copyright belongs to the main photographer since their photography business is the one who was hired by the couple.

Image: Often, second shooters get the candid photos during a wedding event, like this one above.

Often, second shooters get the candid photos during a wedding event, like this one above.

This means that you’re a subcontractor. Therefore any images you produce are copyright and property of the main photographer – even if you photograph the event with your equipment. Check your contract for copyright and usage rights, if any exist.


Some photographers want you to use their memory cards or even their gear. That way, they don’t have to worry about syncing times, converting raw files into the same format, or image delivery delays to the client.


Try and get a different angle than the main photographer so you can add variety, like these two images of the first dance.

Take your gear with you. Doing so gives the main photographer the choice to let you use your gear or their gear, or a mixture of both.

When you email the photographers, make sure you list all the gear that you know how to use at 100 percent. In the event you don’t know how to you use your flash in manual mode, for example, then put down “flash only in TTL mode.” This can help the main photographer know your photography experience and may even help you learn manual mode or another photography tip!

How be a Second Shooter at Weddings and Why it's Important

Be all-in

Being a second shooter means that you are there to help the photographer with photography. While some second shooters take this approach very seriously, I believe that second photographers should also be at the disposal of the main photographer – within reason, of course.


This means that you help fluff up the dress, put on the boutonniere, help with getting flowers to the bridesmaids, and yes, maybe handing the main photographer a lens or battery.

You’re a team, and it’s important to be all-in when you second. The main photographer is helping you gain experience and learn. It’s best that you also help as much as you can.

Image: While the main photographer focuses on the couple, you can use your eye to focus on other key...

While the main photographer focuses on the couple, you can use your eye to focus on other key moments during the wedding!

Each photographer works differently, however. Showing initiative and being accommodating can also help you get more second shooting gigs in the future with the same photographer.

Take what works for you

Second shooting is really helpful because you get lots of experience with different photographers and get to observe all the different ways that each one works a wedding.

How be a Second Shooter at Weddings and Why it's Important

Perhaps you vibe best with one photographer and not so much with another. That is okay. Make sure to thank the photographer for having you along. Then, in the future, only go with photographers you have a good rapport with and like to be around.

Also, you’ll be able to take away tips and tricks that you feel work for you. If one photographer was excellent at customer service, take away what they said or did, and apply it to your business. Another photographer may have created a really interesting image during the reception that you can try at the next wedding event you have.

How be a Second Shooter at Weddings and Why it's Important

Take what works for you, your style, and your business and leave the rest. That’s one great thing about being the second photographer – you can observe all and still have fun photographing a wedding.


When you are highly experienced in photography and can create quality images every single time, you may get paid anywhere between $25-$50 or more per hour for second shooting. Some photographers also offer a flat rate for a set of hours.


If you’re just starting out, you might not get paid, but the experience is completely worth it. Getting your feet wet in the wedding photography industry is more important because you’ll find that weddings are a high-pressured, fast-moving, and a once-in-a-lifetime type of photography.

You don’t get do-overs, so second shooting is the best way to get experience without paying the price for unhappy clients.

How be a Second Shooter at Weddings and Why it's Important

That being said, definitely ask the main photographer before signing a contract what the payment will be. Then you can choose whether the pay is acceptable or not. You do have the choice to take on second shooting gigs for free if you wish or ask for a set rate.

Some experienced photographers help other photographers out and so their pay rate is higher. While others do it to flex their skills, practice, or just fill up their calendar in between jobs.

How be a Second Shooter at Weddings and Why it's Important

In conclusion

Becoming a second shooter is a lot easier than you would think. Reach out to photographers that you admire and spend time observing how they work. When you’re ready, you can then start to photograph your own weddings if you don’t already do!

Do you have any other second shooter tips? Share them in the comments below!



The post How be a Second Shooter at Weddings and Why it’s Important appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

Three Mistakes That Kill Image Quality (and How to Avoid Them)

The post Three Mistakes That Kill Image Quality (and How to Avoid Them) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Adam Welch.

We all want to make the highest quality photographs we possibly can, right? Hopefully, you just gave a very slow yet very serious head nod in agreement to that statement.

There are a host of factors that play into the final quality of your digital images. Even the phrase “image quality” seems to be the best way to sum up all the pieces that have to come together for us to consider our photographs to be of high quality. Sharpness, composition, color balance and contrast are a few variables that jump to mind along with a multitude of others that we can and cannot control.


In this article, we’re going to look at three mistakes that you could very well be making with your photography right now which could be sabotaging your image quality before they ever leave your camera. Luckily, all of these mistakes are easily remedied once you realize they exist. Let’s get started.

Shooting “wide open” all the time

Make no mistake, from a lens standpoint, we live in an extraordinary time. Lens manufacturers have evolved to the point where we currently see extremely well-constructed optics with beautiful sharpness capable of shooting with relatively enormous apertures.

Not even a decade ago, you virtually could not find a “fast zoom” lens with a maximum aperture wider than F/4 for less than a $1,000US – at I least I never did.

Now, it has become blissfully common to acquire an outstanding F/2.8 or wider lens without taking out a second mortgage on your home.


This new age of lens evolution comes with a few caveats, though. Just because your lens is a low-light beast capable of shooting at F/1.4, doesn’t mean that is an ideal aperture for every situation. You see, lenses have certain “optimum apertures” which provide the sharpest results for that particular lens.

In most cases, the widest aperture of your lens, while providing the best light gathering and arguably the best bokeh, is usually the worst optical setting for your lens. The widest aperture setting of your lens often makes nasty little image problems more apparent. Chromatic aberrations, edge softening, and vignetting all become more pronounced when you shoot wide open.

The solution:

Stop down your lens, even if it’s only by a stop or two. You’ll lose some light, but you will also likely see a markedly visible increase in image sharpness and overall quality. While it’s true that not all lenses are created equal (some show shockingly fantastic performance even at their widest apertures), the outcome will probably only become better if you stop down.

Three Mistakes That Kill Image Quality (and How to Avoid Them)

A good F/1.4 lens will be great at F/2.8 and likely outstanding at F/4. If you’re worried about losing that “creamy” bokeh, you may be surprised to see how little background blur you lose with a couple of stops on the wide end of your aperture. It depends on the relative distance of objects in the scene as much as it does on the aperture.

So if you’re suffering from a lack of sharpness and heavy vignetting try stopping down that lens and observe your results.

Poor body mechanics

No matter your gear, conditions or subject matter, if your camera is moving unintentionally, then your images will likely never be as technically qualitative as they could be. Camera shake robs sharpness and can make an otherwise strong image unusable.

Some of us can naturally hold our cameras more steady than others. In-camera or in-lens image stabilization can help, and of course, a trusty tripod is always a good shooting companion.

All of those things aside, simply being conscious of your body mechanics can go a long way to improve the quality of your photographs. At the same time, a bad grip on the camera and poor bodily positioning can cost you a photo.

The solution:

Whenever you’re shooting handheld, be mindful of how your hands grip the camera and the position of your arms and legs. Keep a flat-footed stance with your legs about shoulder-width apart. If you’re using a DSLR or other interchangeable lens camera, grip the camera body firmly with your right hand with your left supporting the lens. Also apply slight opposing pressure (push with the right, pull with the left). Tuck your arms in close to your body for maximum stability.

This will work to help steady your shot. Along those same lines, gently press the shutter button instead of sharply pushing down, which can lead to the camera jerking.


Elbows tucked, solid grip and lens support.

Bonus tip:

Be mindful of a handy little formula called the “Reciprocal Rule.” This rule will help you approximate the slowest shutter speed based on your focal length to avoid moderate camera shake. The Reciprocal Rule is incredibly simple:

Three Mistakes That Kill Image Quality (and How to Avoid Them)

So, if you’re shooting with a 50mm lens, the slowest shutter speed you should use would be 1/50th of a second. Shooting at 100mm? Your slowest shutter speed should be 1/100th of a second and so on and so forth. This is not an ironclad rule but it is a highly practical one.

For more ways to obtain sharper images be sure to check out my other article 4 Simple Ways to Get Sharper Photos

Neglecting your settings

As simple as it sounds, not being cognizant of your camera’s settings is one of the most frustratingly preventable image quality killers that you will ever encounter. Consistently out of focus images? Check that your viewfinder diopter is adjusted to your eyesight – especially if you wear corrective lenses. Are your photos suddenly pixelated at high magnification? Make sure you haven’t accidentally changed your camera’s resolution (happens more than you might think) to a lesser megapixel count.

Three Mistakes That Kill Image Quality (and How to Avoid Them)

These are just a couple of points to consider, but there are many more. The bottom line is that if you aren’t continuously aware of what your gear is doing, not only are being a sloppy photographer, but you are also limiting yourself and your work for virtually no reason at all.

The solution:

Brace yourself for a huge surprise! Just kidding.

The easiest way to fix a neglectful mindset towards your shooting is to force yourself to remain vigilant. This means constant checks of your deep camera settings such as image and video resolution/format, camera firmware, and micro AF lens adjustments. Sure, keeping track of all these things isn’t an immersively fun experience, but neither are bad photographs.

Do yourself and your photos a favor and never fall into the trap of complacency when it comes to your camera’s settings.

Summing up…

We all could be better at doing the things we love. Each one of us, no matter how experienced or accomplished, will always make mistakes with our photography. The only way we can prevent those image quality mistakes from constantly occurring, and improve the quality of our photos is to make sure we are aware that anything is wrong in the first place. If you do not see the quality of images you would like, the first step towards finding out the problem is realizing that there is one. From there it’s just a matter of working the problem until you resolve it or significantly mediate it.

Put the tips we’ve listed here to work, and you’ll see your image quality improving immediately.

Oh and remember, we’re all in this together! Feel free to share any other tips for image sharpness, or if you have a sticky little issue with your picture quality, feel free to let us know in the comment section, and hopefully, the community can help!


The post Three Mistakes That Kill Image Quality (and How to Avoid Them) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Adam Welch.

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