Google´s Photobooth brings automated selfie-shooting to the Pixel 3

Capturing a group selfie can be a daunting task. Someone is always looking the wrong way or unhappy with their facial expression in the shot, usually resulting in a large number of unusable shots in your camera roll. Google has now developed a clever piece of AI software for its Pixel phones that should make things much easier and reduce the image waste on your device.

Photobooth is a new shutter-free mode in the Pixel 3 Camera app. With the mode activated you hit the shutter once and the camera will automatically capture a shot when the camera is stable and all subjects have good facial expressions and their eyes open.

Unlike face, smile and blink detection features of the past Photobooth does not simply rely on the shape and specific features of the human face. Smartphone processing power allows for better autonomous control of the capture process by the device. Photobooth is capable of identifying five expressions: smiles, sticking your tongue out, kisses, duck face, puffed out cheeks, and a look of surprise.

The Google engineers trained a neural network to identify these expressions in real time. After pressing the shutter button every preview frame is analyzed, looking for one of the expressions mentioned above and checking for camera shake.

In the camera app a white bar that expands and shrinks indicates how photogenic the preview scene is deemed by the algorithm, so users have some idea when the camera is likely to trigger the capture.

Some of the technology has been ported from one of Google's now terminated hardware projects, the Clips lifelogging camera.

Canon EOS R firmware update 1.2.0 brings eye-detection AF to Servo mode

On April 18, Canon released firmware version 1.2.0 for its EOS R full-frame mirrorless camera, adding eye-detection AF and small AF frame size support for Servo AF when shooting still images. In addition, both AF options are available while shooting videos regardless of the camera's Movie Servo AF setting, according to Canon.

As with the version 1.1.0 firmware update released in February, the new 1.2.0 update is fairly small. Joining the new AF support are fixes for the following bugs: incorrectly displayed electronic level in the EVF, improperly rotated info displayed in the EVF, and an issue with updating the WFT-E7 firmware.

The version 1.2.0 update is available to download from Canon's Support website.

The full changelog is below:

Firmware Version 1.2.0 incorporates the following fixes and enhancements:

Eye-detection AF

  • Supports Servo AF when shooting still images.
  • Now available when shooting movies regardless of "Movie Servo AF" setting.

Small AF Frame Size

  • Supports Servo AF when shooting still images.
  • Now available when shooting movies regardless of "Movie Servo AF" setting.

[Bug Fixes]

  • Under certain conditions the electronic level displayed in the electronic viewfinder did not display properly.
  • Under certain conditions information displayed in the electronic viewfinder was not properly rotated.
  • Under certain conditions updating the firmware for the wireless file transmitter WFT-E7 was not possible.

This firmware update is for cameras equipped with firmware up to Version 1.1.0. If the camera's firmware is already Version 1.2.0, this update is unnecessary. When updating the firmware of your camera, please first review the instructions thoroughly before you download the firmware.

The firmware update takes approximately 6 minutes.

World Press Photo disinvited photographer after reports of ‘inappropriate behavior’

For the first time in its history, the World Press Photo Foundation disinvited a photographer from its awards ceremony. The organization announced its decision to withdraw photojournalist Andrew Quilty's invitation following allegations of 'inappropriate behavior,' according to the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR).

According to CJR, World Press Photo Foundation managing director Lars Boering confirmed Quilty was disinvited from the awards ceremony held in Amsterdam earlier this month after the foundation received 'reports of inappropriate behavior' made against the photographer. Details about the allegations haven't been made public, however.

Boering shared a statement with CJR, which states, in part:

Our protocol is that when we learn from reliable sources that someone associated with us has allegedly engaged in inappropriate behavior we take action. Because of our protocol, we called him on 2 April to say he was not welcome at our Awards Show and Festival. We cancelled his invitation to the Awards Show, the Festival, and his flight and accommodation.

Quilty still received his award, with Boering explaining that the foundation's current rules did not provide a basis for revoking the award. However, World Press Photo plans to review its rules ahead of the 2020 contest, Boering said.

In response to the foundation's decision, Quilty said in a statement provided to CJR via his lawyer:

No allegations of inappropriate behavior have been made known to me. As a supporter of my female colleagues and the #MeToo movement, I would frankly and openly address any concerns about my conduct, if raised.

Quilty is known for his work in Afghanistan; his images have appeared in a number of notable publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Time, and National Geographic. Quilty was previously awarded a George Polk Award, six Walkley Awards, a Sony World Photography award, and more, according to his website.

Kandao uses AI to convert 30fps 360-degree video into super-slow-motion footage

Kandao, the makers of professional-grade 360-degree cameras and the Kandao Raw+ image stacking tool for Raw files has launched another potentially very useful software feature. AI Slow-motion is designed to convert 360-degree video footage that has been recorded at a regular 30 frames per second into 300 fps super-slow-motion clips.

The software uses artificial intelligence and machine learning methods to predict and generate intermediate frames for a smooth and detailed slow-motion output from existing 360/VR footage.

The company says that compared to optical flow or interpolation methods that are used in other applications, the AI-generated footage offers more accurate frame interpolation as well as fewer jagged edges and other artifacts. The software also requires less powerful hardware than comparable systems.

The feature will first be implemented into the Kandao QooCam Studio and Kandao Studio applications, allowing for an up to 10x slow-motion effect. For example, 360-degree video originally captured at 8k 30fps can be converted into 8K 240fps slow-motion or 4k 60fps video into 4K 480fps footage, by selecting a factor of eight during the 360 stitching workflow in the software software.

The bad news is that, although the algorithm behind the feature can work with any existing videos, in a first step the technology will only work with video from Kandao cameras. However, the company says it will make AI slow motion available for other cameras in the future, which is good news for 360-degree videographers who would like to work with super-slow-motion without splashing out on ultra-powerful hardware.

Kandao camera users can now download Qoocam Studio with AI slow motion free of charge on the Kandao website. Kandao Studio V3.0 with AI slow-motion will available on 23rd April.

These are the winners of the 2019 Sony World Photography Awards

2019 Sony World Photography Award Winners Announced

The 12th annual Sony World Photography Awards received a record-breaking 326,997 entries, submitted from 195 countries and territories, across ten categories. The World Photography Organization, who partners with Sony on one of the largest and most prestigious photography competitions in the world, announced the winners in an awards ceremony held at the Somerset House in London.

Bologna-based Italian artist Federico Borello won the coveted Photographer of the Year ​title for his series Five Degrees. The thought-provoking collection explores the plight of male suicide in the Southern India farming community of Tamil Nadu. The region experienced its worst drought in 140 years during 2016-2017. Borello's collection of images, based on a study from Berkeley University, examined the parallels between climate change, rising temperatures, and increased rates of suicide.

Bologna-based Italian artist Federico Borello won the coveted Photographer of the Year ​title for his series Five Degrees. The thought-provoking collection explores the plight of male suicide in the Southern India farming community of Tamil Nadu.

The purpose of the Sony World Photography Awards is to support the continuous development of photographic culture. Borello won $25,000 to develop future projects along with professional equipment from Sony. Sony, in partnership with the World Photography Organization, also provides a platform to new talents of the future in the Professional, Open, Youth and Student competitions with prizes ranging from $3,500 to $7,000.

Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition, which will showcase both shortlisted and winning images, is on show at Somerset House from April 18th to May 6th. It will move on to other international destinations, thereafter, including Japan, Italy, and Germany. Tickets for the London event can be purchased here.

Submissions for the 2020 competition will open Saturday, June 1st, 2019 and are free of charge.

Photographer of the Year and 1st Place, Documentary

Photo © Federico Borella, Italy, Photographer of the Year, Professional competition, Documentary, 2019 Sony World Photography Awards


About the photo: This skull of a farmer who reportedly committed suicide, pictured above, was used during a protest in Delhi. Farmers held it high and demanded a drought relief package along with a loan waiver for peasants from the state.

About the series: Could the dramatic increase in Indian farmers who take their own lives be closely connected to climate change and rising temperatures? A study from Berkeley University, found a correlation between climate change and suicide among Indian farmers.

It is estimated that 59.300 farmer suicides over the last 30 years are attributable to climate change. According to experts, temperatures in India could increase by another 5°F by 2050. Without focused government intervention, global warming will lead to more suicides all over India. But what leads farmers to this extreme act? They run into debt through investing in production, and repaying previous loans.

Despite these efforts, harvests damaged by adverse weather, and short-sighted water management lead to debt repayment failure. The impact of climate change affects global wellbeing, going beyond India and threatening mankind as a whole. This project is located in Tamil Nadu, the southernmost state of India, which is facing the worst drought for 140 years.

Open Photographer of the Year

Photo © Christy Lee Rogers, United States, Open Photographer of the year, Open competition, Motion, 2019 Sony World Photography Awards


Image Description: Rogers captured this image, underwater, in Hawaii as part of her Muses Collection. She used the surface of a pool as her canvas and leveraged effects such as the refraction of light, plus shooting at night, to create a dramatic scene she describes as 'reality-bending.'

Youth Photographer of the Year

Photo © Zelle Westfall, United States, Youth Photographer of the Year, Youth, Diversity, 2019 Sony World Photography Awards


Image Description: Abuot is the friend of the student photographer, 18, who was testing out her equipment. She immediately knew she had captured what she wanted in the initial shot.

In her own words: 'Abuot is my friend from school and she is one of the funniest people I know. In today's society, with skin bleaching products and colorism flooding the media, it's important to highlight the beauty of dark-skinned women who are often told that they are "too dark."'

Student Photographer of the Year

Photo © Samuel Bolduc, Canada, Student Photographer of the Year, Student Focus, 2018 Sony World Photography Awards


Image Description: The orange groves of La Terreta inspire a strong sense of pride in Villaneuva and the natives who 'love our roots, the richness of our land, our culture, our people, our identity.' This photo depicts the women who select the oranges that will be shipped to markets around the world.

Series Description: In Valencian, there is a word that describes pride for the land where I belong: La Terreta. A feeling that surrounds us all, be part of La Terreta is to love our roots, the richness of our land, our culture, our people, our identity.

Every time I go to La Terreta there is a sign that I see on the road that welcomes me home: the orange groves. That is why in this series I have focused on capturing daily life around the orange trees. From the farmers who plant and care for the trees to harvest the fruit, to the women who choose the oranges that will end up around the world.

The orange tree is the essence of my land, it maintains the feeling of belonging and leaves the door open to future generations, spreading a message about the value of taking care of what nature gives us as a part of our identity.

1st Place, Architecture

Photo © Stephan Zirwes, Germany, 1st Place, Professional competition, Architecture , 2019 Sony World Photography Awards


Image Description: Public pools are accessible by every class of people in Germany. The photographer has pleasant memories of summers spent in them during his childhood. He captured this overview of one of them with a drone.

Series Description: In Germany, pools are public. They are part of social and cultural life, open for all kind of social classes, a place where people spend a lot of time, especially in childhood and which leaves pleasant memories. Everybody can afford the inexpensive entrance fee. The series was shot by drone, in summer 2018 at a height of only a few meters.

1st Place, Brief

Photo © Rebecca Fertinel, Belgium, 1st Place, Professional competition, Brief, 2019 Sony World Photography Awards


Image Description: Thanks to her friend, Tracy, who invited her to the wedding where this image was captured, the photographer got acquainted with the unabashed approach to life of the Congolese community in Belgium along with the Bantu concept “Ubuntu”: that you only really become human when you are connected to everything and everyone. The bridesmaids in this photo are dancing with each other and the wedding guests.

Series Description: In August 2015 the photographer (b. 1991) was invited to a wedding by her friend Tracy. Here, the photographer was introduced to the warm, unabashed approach to life of the Congolese community in Belgium and the Bantu concept “Ubuntu”: that you only really become human when you are connected to everything and everyone.

The concept of Ubuntu seems to intertwine with the desire to belong to a group and maintain a group identity in a changing environment. Showing the ambiance but also the silent moments in between, I tried to capture the feeling of an event that seems like a true celebration, focused on joy and ritual and not on the need for a perfect venue. This project wants to place the viewer in an environment that most have experienced at one time or another at a wedding, party or a wake.

1st Place, Creative

Photo © Marinka Masséus, Netherlands, 1st Place, Professional competition, Creative, 2019 Sony World Photography Awards


Image Description: Marginalized groups are getting more vocal, gaining confidence and claiming their rightful place in society. Whether it is the LGBT+ community, people of color, women resisting objectification, and especially Down's Syndrome, people are speaking up in favor of equal rights. With the advent of technological advances in prenatal screening, the narrative surrounding inclusion of individuals with Down's Syndrome is especially urgent.

Series Description: This series is part of the Radical Beauty project, an international photography project which aims to give people with Down’s Syndrome their rightful place in visual arts. The young women I worked with shared a strong will to succeed.

To prove themselves. It must be beyond frustrating to be underestimated all the time. With ‘Chosen [not] to be’ I reflect on their reality - the barriers they face, society’s refusal to see their capabilities, the invisibility of their true selves - and translate their experiences visually. In the Netherlands, people with Down’s Syndrome have collected their experiences in a book, called Zwartboek (Black book).

They have offered this book to the government as a catalyst for change. Reading the collection of stories in this book broke my heart. There is so much misinformation. This misinformation leads to misconceptions and widely held preconceived notions which profoundly impact the lives of people with Down’s.

1st Place, Documentary

Photo © Federico Borella, Italy, Photographer of the Year, Professional competition, Documentary, 2019 Sony World Photography Awards


Image Description: Taken in May, 2018, this is a portrait of Rasathi, the wife of Selvarasy, a farmer who committed suicide one year ago by hanging himself in his own field. He got into debt with a cooperative society. Five Degrees is the world's best series of work, selected from the 10 Professional category winners.

Series Description: Could the dramatic increase in Indian farmers who take their own lives be closely connected to climate change and rising temperatures? A study from Berkeley University, found a correlation between climate change and suicide among Indian farmers. It is estimated that 59.300 farmer suicides over the last 30 years are attributable to climate change.

According to experts, temperatures in India could increase by another 5°F by 2050. Without focused government intervention, global warming will lead to more suicides all over India. But what leads farmers to this extreme act? They run into debt through investing in production, and repaying previous loans. Despite these efforts, harvests damaged by adverse weather, and short-sighted water management lead to debt repayment failure.

The impact of climate change affects global wellbeing, going beyond India and threatening mankind as a whole. This project is located in Tamil Nadu, the southernmost state of India, which is facing the worst drought for 140 years.

1st Place, Landscape

Photo © Yan Wang Preston, United Kingdom, 1st Place, Professional competition, Landscape , 2019 Sony World Photography Awards


Image Description: Part of an eight-year project by Wang to explore the upheaval of natural habitats to create manmade cities in China, this photo depicts a lone quarry. A young sapling stands in the center, sustained by a bag of nutrition liquid and a pile of semi-artificial red soil.

Series Description: The series depicts the otherworldly “ecology recovery” landscape in Haidong Development Zone in Dali, Yunnan Province, China. Here, a small rural area is being urbanised systematically to create “an international leisure town and an ecology model town.”

In doing so, the topsoil of the entire area is replaced by a type of red, semi-artificial soil, which forms the base for introduced, mostly non-indigenous plants, including thousands of mature trees. Meanwhile, green plastic netting is used to cover everything unappealing to the eye, from construction waste to disused quarries.

The town’s objective here has shifted from an “ecological” concern to a cosmetic one of trying to be visually green. The images are part of an eight-year project “Forest” (2010-2017), for which the photographer investigates the politics of recreating forests and “natural” environments in new Chinese cities.

1st Place, Natural World & Wildlife

Photo © Jasper Doest, Netherlands, 1st Place, Professional competition, Natural World & Wildlife, 2019 Sony World Photography Awards


Image Description: Bob is a flamingo from the Caribbean. His life changed permanently when he accidentally flew into a hotel window and got a concussion. His caretaker, Odette Doest, is a vet who runs a local rehabilitation center for animals. Bob is an ambassador for FDOC, an organization that educates locals about the importance of protecting the island’s wildlife.

Series Description: Bob is a Caribbean flamingo, from the Dutch island of Curaçao. His life took a dramatic turn when he flew into a hotel window, leaving him severely concussed. He was cared for by Odette Doest, a local vet who also runs a wildlife rehabilitation centre and conservation charity – the Fundashon Dier en Onderwijs Cariben (FDOC). Existing disabilities meant Bob couldn’t be released, but instead he became ambassador for FDOC, which educates locals about the importance of protecting the island’s wildlife.

1st Place, Portraiture

Photo © Álvaro Laiz, Spain, 1st Place, Professional competition, Portraiture, 2019 Sony World Photography Awards


Image Description: In Chukchi culture, past, present and future are intimately linked. The Edge series portrays the idea of shared memory and science through population genetics data analysis for every participant.

Series Description: Humans have inhabited North America for at least 16,500 years since they first stepped through the Bering Strait. The Chukchi, a Paleo-Siberian tribe from the Russian side of the Bering Strait may be key to understanding how America was inhabited. In Chukchi culture, past, present and future are intimately linked.

You are not just you: you are your father, your grandfather and your great-grandfather, back to the first Bering Strait hunter. Thanks to population genetics research we are now certain that the first Chukchi hunters left their genetic footprint in all Native American people when they first settled in America. From the Navajo to the Mayans; from Alaska to Tierra de Fuego.

The Edge combines this poetic yet powerful idea of shared memory and science through population genetics data analysis for every participant. A visual journey where past and future combine, exploring a period of our history full of unanswered questions and raising new ones about our understanding of current migratory processes across the entire American continent.

1st Place, Sport

Photo © Alessandro Grassani, Italy, 1st Place Professional competition, Sport , 2019 Sony World Photography Awards


About this photo: Part of the series, Boxing Against Violence, this image depicts 16-year-old Elysèe. She is a part of city boxing club in Goma, located in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In her words: 'I've been boxing for 2 years, it's something that gives me strength and courage to defend myself and makes me feel accepted everywhere. In this city there is so much violence that you must always be ready to react. Under the ashes of this society there are latent conflicts, a violence ready to explode at any moment. Thanks to boxing I feel ready to face these dangers.'

Series Description: Goma, North Kivu. This area has sadly been labelled the “rape capital of the world” and one of the worst places in the world for women to live. All these sad records have not stopped women, whose will to go on and overcome the atrocities suffered over the years, is stronger and more alive than ever in the story I'm telling.

Some boxing clubs in Goma are the meeting place for a group of women who have found hope and passion in boxing. Here, women not only learn to throw punches, but to regain strength and the desire to fight against injustice, while dreaming and training to become the next world boxing champion. I created this series of portraits to depict this incredible group of young women living in a deeply patriarchal society, a place where women have only one way to survive: learning to fight.

1st Place, Still Life

Photo © Nicolas Gaspardel & Pauline Baert, France, 1st Place, Professional competition, Still Life, 2019 Sony World Photography Awards


Image Description: Two ingredients, combined, make something that looks disgusting but is hypnotic, nonetheless, with its composing and pops of color.

Series Description: With a touch of mockery, BEURKMAGAZINE photographs food every day through metaphors that are as poetic as they are disturbing. For BEURKMAGAZINE, society is “yuck” in a pop culture universe.

Our creative approach is composed of antithesis. Dali amused himself by composing works with irrational associations of forms, images and objects; Maurizio Cattelan, meanwhile, focuses on the subversion of symbols and provocation; we are somewhere in between, with a more general than personal point of view and a desire to give ugliness an artificial beauty.

Food is at the center of our ideas, which are magnified, manipulated and reworked to highlight our message. The pop tone, tight shots and especially the titles are an integral part of our signature.

The dPS Ultimate Guide to Food Photography

The post The dPS Ultimate Guide to Food Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Darina Kopcok.

What was once a weird little niche in photography is now a worldwide phenomenon. Food photography is only growing in popularity if the 32 million posts currently on Instagram are anything to go by.

Food photography is here to stay, but it’s not an easy genre to master.

Our guide gives you some of the top tips and tricks to help you get mouth-watering results.

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Equipment

Cameras

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The first thing to think about when you’re on the hunt for a new camera body is the size of the sensor.

Whether you decide to buy a camera with a cropped sensor or invest in a full-frame, your budget will likely determine your choice.

The important thing to know is that your camera and lenses behave differently when they have a cropped sensor than a full-frame.

Every camera has a crop factor. This is a number used to describe how much the camera is cropping your image in relation to the standard 35mm.

A full-frame camera matches the 35mm cropped standard of a traditional film camera. It has a sensor size of 24mm x 36mm. A cropped sensor is smaller than this and is therefore cheaper for camera manufacturers to make. It doesn’t match a lot of lenses and the final images look different.

The Canon Rebel, for example, has a crop factor of 1.6. This means that you multiply 1.6 times the focal length of your lens to get the actual focal length that it will look like your pictures were taken at.

On a full-frame camera, a 50mm lens behaves like a 50mm. Put that same lens on a camera with a cropped sensor, it behaves more like an 80mm.

Lenses

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Lenses are where you should spend the most significant part of your budget. You should look at them as a long-term investment in your craft.

Here are the factors to consider:

Sharpness

Your biggest concern when shopping for a lens is sharpness.

Prime lenses are preferred when shooting food because they are sharper than zoom lenses.

Zoom lenses have more moving parts that enable the zoom to function. This tends to result in lower image quality and sharpness.

Prime lenses are usually ‘faster’. They have a larger maximum aperture, which enables quicker shutter speeds.

They also give you a much tighter depth of field, enabling you to isolate your subject and get that really nice blurred background we all love in food photography.

The 50mm Lens

The 50mm can also be a useful lens, especially if you don’t have a zoom. This lens is good for overhead shots and tablescapes. However, it can give you some distortion when taking a portrait-style shot. In food photography, the 50mm is actually considered a wide-angle lens.

The 50mm f/1.8 is often referred to as the “nifty-fifty” because it gives you decent results for a very low price. If you’re just starting out and your budget is tight, get this one.

The 24-70mm Lens

Although primes are ideal, it’s actually very useful to have one zoom lens in your kit, such as a 24-70mm.

It’s very sharp for a zoom lens, and really versatile. Many food photographers consider this a staple in their kit.

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The 60mm Macro

If you’re shooting with a cropped sensor, then a 60mm macro is a great choice.

On a cropped sensor, it’s more like having a 100mm. If you upgrade to full-frame, you can use it like you would a 50mm.

This lens allows you to get 3/4-angle view shots of your subject with a nice bokeh on a cropped sensor.

You also won’t get the distortion at this angle that you would when shooting with a wider focal length, like a 50mm.

The 100mm Macro

An excellent lens to have in your kit is a 100mm macro lens. This lens is not only for macro or close up shots, although it’s great at these, too.

By pulling further away from your set, you can get very nice portrait-style shots as well. The focal length will give you a great blurred background.

If you go for the 100mm/105mm macro lens on a cropped sensor you will be shooting at a focal length of 150mm.

This will be a very tight crop, which can be a problem if space is an issue.

Tripods

A tripod is a must for food photography. It helps you create consistent images and frees up your hands to style according to what you see through your camera.

The biggest requirement in a tripod is stability. A tripod needs to be able to handle the weight of your camera and lens.

When shopping for a tripod, look for one with both adjustable height and orientation. This is where you have a center column that you can move.

Make sure that it has rubber feet to avoid slippage, and that it has a high payload.

Payload refers to the amount of weight the tripod is able to withstand. It needs to bear the weight of your camera, lens, and any other additions such as a bracket or extension arm.

Food Styling

The objective of food styling is to make food look it’s very best. Most food needs a bit of doctoring to make it look presentable for the camera.

Here are some things to consider when approaching food styling:

Use the freshest food possible

The food you shoot needs to be as fresh as possible so that it looks appealing in your images. When shopping for your ingredients, take care to buy the freshest and best-looking items available.

Always have your scene, lighting, and camera ready before placing your food on set.

When you’re adjusting with your lighting and camera settings, use a substitute in a similar color and shape as your food as a stand-in. Replace it with your “hero” (your main food subject) at the last moment, so that it looks as fresh and appetizing as possible.

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Buy more than you need

When shopping for groceries, be sure to buy more than you think you’ll need for the shoot. Food dries out, melts, goes brown, or otherwise begins to look unappealing within a short time frame.
It needs to be replaced with fresher items.

Depending on the food, you may also need a lot of the items to fill the frame.

Plating

The most important factor when choosing the dishes on which you will present your food is the size.

Objects can look very different to the camera than to the eye and often look bigger than we expect. For this reason, it’s a good idea to choose smaller dishes than you would ordinarily use.

Present your subjects on salad plates or smaller dinner plates. Large plates can dwarf the main subject and dominate the frame.

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Garnishes

Herbs and spices, and items such as croutons, can enhance your food shots.

Sprigs of various herbs like rosemary can be tied together with kitchen string to make little bouquets you can use to add context to your food story.

You can enhance a plain bowl of soup with a drizzle of cream and a sprinkling of chopped chives.

The key is that your garnishes should make sense within the wider context of your scene. If you’re shooting salmon with a lemon dill sauce, then don’t garnish it with basil.

When using herbs, use the freshest possible and replace them as you shoot. They wilt or oxidize quickly. Cut herbs can be kept fresh in the refrigerator much longer when wrapped in some wet paper towel.

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Props

You need to have a collection of food photography props.

A prop is any item you use on set to enhance the image. In food photography, this is typically kitchenware, like plates and flatware, serving bowls and utensils, and linens.

When selecting your props, think about your food photography style and what types of props would complement it.

If your style is really clean and elegant, or more refined, such props would not make much sense and you’d be better off with more delicate pieces.

In general, stay away from very bright colors and bold patterns, as they distract from the food. Colorful pieces can add a point of interest, but they need to work with the overall composition and feel of the photo.

Don’t use a lot of props. A couple of the right props can have a lot of impact in telling a visual story, but too many will distract the viewer and dominate the image.

When selecting your props, start with one or two pieces, perhaps a neutral salad plate and a vintage knife or spoon. If in doubt, keep it simple.

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Backgrounds

You’ll need a variety of interesting backgrounds on which to place your food.

Use a variety of items for your backgrounds, like fabric, craft paper, or large floor tiles. You can also get creative and make your own.

Buy sheets of wood and paint or stain them yourself. There are also some great online resources for buying professional food photography backgrounds and they ship worldwide.

When shooting food, neutral or cool-toned backgrounds like blue generally work best.

Lighting

Lighting modifiers

Whether you use natural or artificial light, you’ll need to modify your light source.

One important item in your kit is a diffuser. This is a panel of sheer white material that you place at the edge of your table to soften the light that hits your scene.

You’ll also need some simple tools to bounce and absorb the light. You can buy a professional 8-in-1 reflector kit, with foldable discs in a variety of materials to use in your shoots, as pictured below.

The silver reflector, for example, can brighten your food, while the gold reflector will add warmth. It usually comes with a diffuser as well.

For a DIY version, you can also use simple black or white cardboard purchased from a craft or dollar store. White brightens your scene, while the black absorbs the light.

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Lighting styles

You should have an idea of what you want your final image to look like before you pick up your camera. Do you want the light to look soft and dimensional, or are you looking for striking contrast?

The greater the contrast between light and dark, the more dramatic your image will be. Often, your subject will dictate the light you choose.

The next time you shoot, photograph your subject in both soft and hard light and note the difference. How does each approach affect the final result? Many photographers tend to gravitate to one or the other as part of their style.

Side lighting

This is when your light is coming from directly beside the food.

Side lighting is a good approach for a lot of your food photography. It works for most set-ups and is easy to use.

Place a reflector or bounce card on the opposite side to the light. Depending on how much shadow you want on the side of your food, move it closer or farther away, or use a smaller or larger reflector.

When shooting white and airy scenes, you still want some shadow to add dimension.

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Backlighting

Backlighting is when you position your light behind your food.

If you imagine the face of a clock, it’s at 12 o’clock. This is an ideal position for beverages or soups, as it adds a sheen and highlights the liquid properties of food.

In general, backlighting is very flattering to food. It makes it gleam and brings out its texture.

However, it can be tricky to work with because it can cause your image to be too bright at the back, and too dark at the front. Too much contrast means the back of the photo will be blown out, with a loss of detail blurring into the main subject. Not enough contrast will result in a blown out photo or one that looks washed out, which is what happens when you shoot with too much light.

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Side backlighting

Side backlighting is a combination of the first two types of lighting. It’s the best of both worlds and the easiest to work with. Here, our light is placed between 10 and 11 o’clock.

With this lighting style, you get the surface shine provided by backlighting without the risk of overexposure. You also don’t have to reflect as much light onto the front of the food because the light is coming at more of an angle.

When using side backlighting, you’ll have to play around with the height of your light relative to your scene, depending on how you want the shadows to fall.

The closer your light source is to your set, the softer the fall-off will be.

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Camera Angles

Camera angle can have a powerful effect on your final image.

Before you pick up your camera, you need to think about what kind of food or dish you are shooting and which camera angle will help bring out its best features.

There are three main camera angles used when photographing food: overhead, 3/4 angle, or straight-on.

The 3/4 Angle

The 3/4 angle is when your camera is placed anywhere from 25 to 75 degrees in relation to your subject.

The 3/4 angle is a popular angle because it’s so versatile. You can usually show the front and surface of the dish, as well as the sides.

You see this angle a lot in commercial food photography.

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The Overhead Angle

The overhead angle is the 90-degree angle. This has become a very popular angle lately due to Instagram.

This angle definitely has several positives. It’s good for fitting several elements into a scene, like in a tablescape. This also makes it a great storytelling angle. You can see a variety of props, ingredients, or dishes of food in the frame when you shoot from overhead. It is also often easier to compose your shot using this angle than a 3/4 angle or straight-on.

However, the overhead angle doesn’t work for every type of food shot. It eliminates depth, which gives a more graphic pop to an image but is not suitable for every type of food.

With the overhead angle, what you most emphasize is the shape of the food and various elements of the scene.

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The Straight-On Angle

This straight-on camera angle is most suitable for “tall” foods, like burgers or stacks of brownies or pancakes. It emphasizes the height of a dish.

When you’re shooting burgers and sandwiches, the bun or the top piece of bread hides what is inside, so taking the shot from anywhere above the food doesn’t make sense.

Remember, the objective is always to focus on the best features of the food.

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Composition

Compositional tools can help us make better photographs, however, not each tool will work for each image.

Before you begin to shoot, know the goal of your image. What is the mood?  What is it that you want to convey? What is the purpose of your shot and how will it be used?

Good food photography evokes the viewer’s emotions. Composition is one of the main tools that help us do this.

Line

Line is the most basic element in visual composition. Lines lead the eye through a photograph to key focal points and elements and keep the viewer’s eye focused on the image.

There are a couple of things to be aware of when working with lines. When using lines to direct the viewer’s eye, they should point to the main subject, or into the frame.

Lines should also never point outside of the frame, as the eyes will be forced to leave the image. This weakens the image and can cause the viewer to lose interest.

Rule of Odds

The rule-of-odds states that when photographing a group of objects, having an odd number of elements in the frame is much more visually interesting than having an even number of elements.

Odd numbers create a sense of balance and harmony and provide a resting point for our eyes, whereas even numbers of objects can divide our attention and compete with each other.

When there are more than five elements in an image, it becomes difficult for the mind to register the higher number. For this reason, it’s a good idea to compose many elements into groups of odd numbers whenever possible.

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Rule of Thirds

The Rule of Thirds is intended to help you place the main elements and focal point within the composition.

Think of an imaginary grid that divides the image into nine equal parts, like a tic-tac-toe grid. The ratio is 1:1 per rectangle.

Rule of Thirds is a great place to start. It helps add harmony to your images and helps you take the first steps in composition as a new photographer. In fact, it can work for many images, particularly landscapes.

When it comes to food photography, however, this rule can be limiting. You can end up making images that are unbalanced and awkward.

The Phi Grid is a similar concept that is more powerful than the Rule of Thirds. Both grids look almost the same, but the centre lines of the Phi Grid are closer together.

The Phi Grid

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Phi Grid

The Phi Grid is an expression of the Golden Ratio. It helps you create a balanced and naturally pleasing image.

The Phi Grid follows the ratio of 1:1.618, a ratio that is a constant in nature and one we automatically gravitate toward.

It appears throughout the natural world, from a nautilus shell to the number of petals in a flower.

You can find the golden ratio everywhere in the world around us, though no one can explain exactly why it exists this way.

You can use this knowledge in your photography. Thinking about how the eye moves through an image and incorporating some expression of the golden ratio will help you create images that the brain will recognize as aesthetically attractive and harmonious.

Negative Space

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Positive space is the space taken up by your main subject. Negative space is an area where your eyes can rest. It provides balance, a bit of breathing room, and emphasizes the subject.

Negative space can portray movement and give context to an image. It may also give the viewer the idea that there is a story beyond what the eye is seeing.

In food photography, there is a tendency to shoot with a lot of negative space due to text placement, particularly when it comes to magazine work, product packaging, or advertisements.

When an image doesn’t make use of negative space, it can feel a bit claustrophobic and cluttered. Also, when there is too much going on in an image, the viewer is unsure of where to look.

Repetition

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Repeating elements also add interest to an image. Repetition can occur spontaneously in the subject or can be created by added elements such as props and supporting ingredients.

Sometimes patterns can become monotonous, so breaking up a pattern can create a stronger photograph.

There are various ways to create a break in pattern, such as with a break in color, shape, size, or texture. Where you place this break is crucial; you want to place it in one of your focal points or along intersecting lines.

Color

Color is an important part of a composition. It evokes emotions and creates a sense of mood within an image.

Cool and dark colors such as navy blue and black recede, while light or warm colors like yellow bring objects forward.

Backgrounds and surface colors that are too bright can detract from our subject; they should be chosen according to the mood you want to create, as well as in harmony with your chosen elements.

Color combinations can be monochromatic when they are tonal variations within a single hue. This approach has its place, but utilizing complementary colors is a great technique to apply to food photography.

Complementary colors appear directly opposite each other on the color wheel, such as red and green, or blue and orange.

The color scheme you choose to work with will, in part, be dictated by the food you are shooting.

Your colors should also be balanced in terms of not having too many colors in a frame, which will appear chaotic.

Texture

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One of the best ways to add interest to your photographs is with texture. It adds contrast and detail and enhances food subjects.

Texture occurs naturally in food, but can also be used effectively in backgrounds and surfaces, and your props and linens, as long as it’s not overdone.

Lots of texture in the food, linens, and backgrounds composed together can look too busy and overwhelm the viewer.

Editing Your Images

Adobe’s Lightroom is an excellent post-processing program. It’s more intuitive and easier to learn than Photoshop.

I recommend using Lightroom to do your global adjustments and then to fine tune your image in Photoshop if need be. For example, if you need to work on specific areas of the image.

Let’s look at the most important tools:

The Histogram

 

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It’s important to have a basic understanding of the histogram to make the proper adjustments to the exposure and tones in your image.

A histogram maps out the tonal range of an image. Brightness is graphed on a grayscale. Every pixel in the image is assigned to a value.

Black is on the left, while white is on the right. You can find the shades of grey in between.

The distribution of the tones in the histogram will tell you about the overall exposure of the image.

A big peak in any of these regions means that the image has a lot of pixels at that particular density. An open gap in the histogram means that there are no pixels at that density.

Check if you have a strong peak at the black or white end of the histogram. If you do, your image could be underexposed or overexposed.

Generally, most images look best if they contain both dark and light values. Otherwise, they may lack contrast and look flat.

Cropping

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It’s a good idea to crop and straighten your image before you start making global adjustments.

To straighten an image, start in the Transform panel and click on -> Auto.

If this doesn’t work, you can try one of the other settings, or do it manually under the Crop Tool.

To access the Crop Tool in Lightroom, click on the grid symbol under the Histogram in the top panel. Or hit R for the keyboard shortcut. This will allow you to crop your image by bringing in the corners with your cursor.

Note that when the lock is closed on the lock symbol, the tool will crop each side of the image evenly.

If you would like to freeform crop, simply click on it to unlock it.

White Balance

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White Balance in a very important aspect of post-processing your food pictures.

I recommend shooting with a grey card and adjusting your white balance in post-processing. This removes incorrect color casts and ensures that your whites are truly white.

A grey card is a piece of grey plastic you can buy at a camera supply store. It is exactly 18% grey, which is what your camera looks for when metering a scene.

Take a picture with your grey card in the scene. In Lightroom, take the White Balance eyedropper and click on the grey card. It will automatically read the proper white balance.

The Basic Panel

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This panel is where you may end up doing a lot of tweaking before you settle on a final look.

Exposure affects the brightness of the range of tones in your image, however, playing with your shadows and highlights, and your whites and blacks will give you a more precise balancing of tones than simply relying on the Exposure slider.

Check if the bright areas look muddy, or the shadows still need more light. Move the sliders to points where the image looks good overall.

You will likely need to go back and readjust your exposure slider once you have made edits with the other sliders.

Vibrance & Saturation

Vibrance is also an important slider in editing food photography.

It’s a better editing tool than Saturation because it’s more subtle. It adjusts the less saturated colors without intensifying the already saturated ones.

Vibrance will first boost the saturation of the muted colors and then the other colors.

Whether you actually use the saturation slider depends on the image. In general, a conservative approach is what works best when editing food photography.

If you decide to use this slider the slider, nudge it up a tad, to about +5 or +6.

Tone Curve

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New users often find the Tone Curve challenging,  but it’s one of the most powerful tools found in Lightroom.

The Tone Curve is a graph that maps out where the tones in your images lie. The bottom axis of the Tone Curve starts with Shadows at the far left side. It ends with Highlights on the far right end. The mid-tones fall in the middle, in a range from darker to lighter. They get darker as you move lower, and brighter as you move up the axis.

You can control the lightness and darkness of your tones. Adjust the Point Curve itself or the Region Curve.

The Region has sliders for each part of the tonal range. As you drag each slider, the curve, and the image both change.

To make adjustments with the Point Curve, click on the area you want to affect. This will create an anchor point at which to control the tone.

Dragging the point up lightens that tone; dragging it down darkens it.

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Assess the mid-tones in your image to see if they are already bright.  If not, click on the middle of the tone curve and bring the point up.

If they are too bright, bring the curve down. Check the other parts of your image.

If you’re just getting started with learning the Tone Curve, play around with the Region sliders first. Take note of how the various sliders affect the curve.

Whichever approach you choose, be sure to watch the histogram as you make changes. This way you’ll make sure that you are not losing important detail.

HSL

HSL stands for HueSaturation, and Luminance. This is where you balance the colors in Lightroom.

Color adjustments are usually more subjective than tonal adjustments. This is because color gives a photograph a sense of mood.

There are two ways to make color adjustments in this panel. You can adjust them all at once under HSL/All. Or each color individually under the Color tab at the top of the panel.

The Hue tab or section at the top of the panel is where you choose how warm or cool you want each color in your image to be.

For example, I find that greens almost always look off. I slide the greens slightly more towards the left or right to get them looking more realistic.

To add more warmth – meaning more yellow – to your greens, slide it to the left. For a cooler hue, sliding it to the right adds more blue.

The Saturation slider in the basic panel adjusts the color of the whole image. But the saturation sliders here adjust each color individually.

If you adjust a color to be more saturated, this will affect the saturation of that particular color throughout the whole photo.

Whether you’re working in the basic panel or the HSL panel, saturation requires a light hand.

Lastly, Luminance affects the brightness of the color. These sliders are more valuable than the saturation sliders, so work with these first.

Editing in Lightroom is all about balance. The same goes when working with Hue, Saturation, and Luminance adjustments.

Sharpening

Sharpening should be the last editing step. It adds contrast between pixels and edges, which creates definition and a more refined look.

However, you don’t need to apply sharpening to the whole image because, in food photography, there is not much point in sharpening the props and the background.

The focus is on the food, so that is what you sharpen.

To do this in Lightroom, mask out the image to select the areas of the image you want to sharpen. Hold down the Alt/Option key while clicking on Masking in the Sharpening panel.

Lightroom will show you where the sharpening is being applied in white. Your image will look like an x-ray.

Slide it to the right. The further right you go, the less the image will be sharpened.

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You will find that you will be in the +70-80 range for sharpening for food photography.

In Conclusion

There is a lot to learn when it comes to shooting food, but hopefully, this guide has given you an overview of what’s involved and some ideas about how you can improve your images.

The more information you have, the more empowered you can be in your creative decisions.

Above all, lots of practice is what is going to take you to the next level in your food photography.

The post The dPS Ultimate Guide to Food Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Darina Kopcok.

Here’s why I’m not quite ready to let the Pixel 3 replace a dedicated camera

Modern architecture abounds in Palm Springs, mid-century and otherwise.
Olympus Pen F ISO 200 | 1/1600 sec | F6.3 | Olympus M.Zuiko 12mm F2.0

On the topic of "When will smartphones make most dedicated cameras obsolete?" I tend to be in the "We're pretty much there already" camp. In my own day-to-day photography, and even for some special occasions where I expect to take more than a few photos, I'll stick with my smartphone rather than bringing along a dedicated camera.

That wasn't the case on a recent trip to Palm Springs. I shot with both the Pixel 3 and a Micro Four Thirds camera (the Olympus Pen F, specifically). Here's where each of them shine, and why I'm glad I had a dedicated camera at my side.

My photographic priority in Palm Springs was the city's veritable smorgasbord of mid-century modern buildings. Banks, hotels, liquor stores – all housed in stunning modern buildings that are extremely Instagrammable. You know you've hit the architectural jackpot when you're excited to photograph the town BevMo!.

Literally the roof of a BevMo! liquor store.
Olympus Pen F ISO 200 | 1/800 sec | F5.6 | Olympus M.Zuiko 12mm F2.0

There are obvious benefits to any smartphone, including of course the Pixel 3. It's always with you, even by the pool, photos are automatically backed up to your image library, everything is immediately shareable. But the Pixel 3 presents a few unique advantages: it handles high-contrast scenes particularly well, and the multi-shot Night Sight mode captures a level of detail well beyond what we're used to seeing from smartphones, even in the daytime.

The Pixel 3 does a fine job balancing scenes like this one, and its IP68 waterproof rating means it's safe poolside.
Google Pixel 3 XL ISO 59 | 28mm equiv. | F1.8

There are some disadvantages though, which figured into my decision to bring along the Olympus Pen F and 12mm lens. First, the Pixel's main camera wasn't quite wide enough for the kind of photography I wanted to do. Photographing mid-century modern buildings from the sidewalk along a busy road doesn't make it easy to just back up to get the whole thing in the shot.

Using panorama mode for a wider shot isn't a great option either – image quality is pretty poor. This year's smartphones are addressing this problem with wide-angle lenses, so if Google ever decides to add another rear camera, who knows what will be possible!

Stuff like this is just lying around everywhere in Palm Springs!
Olympus Pen F ISO 200 | 1/1250 sec | F4.5 | Olympus M.Zuiko 12mm F2.0

Editing Pixel 3 Raws isn't my favorite experience at the moment, either. Editing Pen F files is familiar and comfortable to me, while handling Pixel Raw files seems to be a quirky process in its current state. When I use Camera Raw I start with a very flat, overexposed image, and when I edit Raw photos in Snapseed I encounter a couple of bugs along the way (and don't love the small-screen edit experience). It's more than good enough for something I'll post on social media, but I wanted a little more control with my Palm Springs photos.

I also found myself taking advantage of a few Pen F features that were handy, if not necessarily must-haves. A viewfinder really came in handy under the bright mid-day sun. I also like a tilting LCD to compose shots from higher and lower angles. Also, the digital level was pretty huge for me, a person with (apparently) a crooked brain who is unable to keep horizons straight.

If every Bank of America looked like this I'd be a member tomorrow.
Olympus Pen F ISO 200 | 1/1250 sec | F4.5 | Olympus M.Zuiko 12mm F2.0

To be sure, there are some third-party workarounds that would have adapted the Pixel 3 to my purposes better. I could have brought a wide-angle attachment lens along and used a camera app with a level. There are trade-offs when using either of these options, though.

I also prefer the anonymity of the Pixel 3. One morning I walked from the center of town a mile and a half to the visitor's center, a futuristic-looking building that used to be a gas station and is one of the most recognizable structures in town.

Roof of the Tramway Gas Station, currently home of the Palm Springs Visitor's Center.
Olympus Pen F ISO 200 | 1/1250 sec | F6.3 | Olympus M.Zuiko 12mm F2.0

I was quite conspicuous on this journey for several reasons. For starters, nobody walks a mile to get anywhere in 80°+ heat if they can help it. I'm also incredibly pale and probably a danger to motorists walking under a beaming sun on the side of the road. I also had a Real Camera in my hand, and on top of that, am a lady.

Being a lady alone in public doing something out of the ordinary is, in my experience, an invitation for commentary, usually of the harmless "What are ya doin' there with that big ol' camera little missy??" variety. Well-meaning I'm sure, but my male colleagues don't quite experience the same interruptions.

Palm Springs: they aren't kidding about those palms.
Olympus Pen F ISO 200 | 1/1000 sec | F4.5 | Olympus M.Zuiko 12mm F2.0

I wish I'd been shooting with the Pixel when I saw the Photo That Got Away. Traffic in the street was stopped at a red light, and I was walking parallel to a pickup truck towing a camper van with a majestic purple mountain on the side. Behind it was a backdrop of actual majestic mountains. It was perfect, except the driver was staring right at me staring at him.

Maybe I would have gotten away with it shooting with the phone. As it happened, it just felt too conspicuous, almost invasive, to pull the camera up to my eye and take a picture. The light turned green and I thought about that photo through the rest of the trip.

In any case, I made it to the visitor's center, which is a lovely building but I actually ended up taking my favorite picture around the back of it. Funny how that happens.

I walked a mile and a half through the desert to take this photo of a bench, I guess.
Olympus Pen F ISO 200 | 1/1250 sec | F6.3 | Olympus M.Zuiko 12mm F2.0

I liked the experience of carrying the Pen F at my side. It put me in a mindset of taking photos that's harder to get into when I'm using my phone. But I don't think we're far from a future where the Pixel 3 satisfies almost all of the photographic needs I had on a trip like that, and there are real benefits to shooting with the Pixel 3 that traditional cameras don't provide now. The Pixel automatically backed up all of the trip photos I took with it to my Photos library, where they were instantly shareable, searchable and photo-book-printable. The Pen F sure didn't do any of that.

When I can get 90% of the image quality from a smartphone that I would from a traditional camera, and the experience of using it as a photographic device – from capture through editing – is 90% as good, I'll be ready to leave the camera at home when I go on a trip like the one I just took. That day probably isn't far off at all.

Choosing a camera Part 3: the trade-offs of sensor size

We've already looked at the role played by pixel size and the benefits of a larger sensor. But, before you rush out to buy the camera with the biggest sensor you can, it's worth bearing in mind that you won't always see its full advantage.

Key takeaways:

  • For the same field-of-view, a larger format will have shallower depth-of-field at the same F-number.
  • Shallow depth-of-field can be a creative benefit, up to a point, but you sometimes need a certain depth-of-field.
  • You can stop down a large sensor camera to match the depth-of-field of a smaller one, but you end up with comparable image quality if you do.
  • All formats are a series of compromises and there is no correct balance to strike.

The depth-of-field trade-off

As we've seen, if you can achieve the same exposure settings, a larger sensor will have a chance to absorb more light and hence give better image quality. But achieving the same exposure value usually requires you to use the same f-number.

With the same f-number, a larger format will also have shallower depth-of-field, which will sometimes be desirable but other times not. Depending on your tastes and shooting style, shallow depth-of-field (and the additional light that usually comes with it) can be a valuable creative tool. But only up to a point, and not in all circumstances.

A 'full-frame' sensor tends to require large lenses but can capture lots of light. This extra light capture comes with shallow depth-of-field (for better or worse).

In situations where you need more depth-of-field it's possible to stop down the lens on a large sensor camera, but doing so will reduce the amount of light available to your camera: at which point you'll see the advantage over a smaller-sensor system begin to diminish (while still having to deal with the larger format's size, weight and cost).

Bigger is usually better, but how much better do you need?

Also, the examples we've used were shot in relatively low light. In bright daylight, the image quality of many systems will readily exceed 'good enough:' even simple one-shot smartphones do a reasonable job in good light. And once you're reached 'good enough,' any further improvement may not be worthwhile, or even perceptible. So, while a larger sensor will give the potential to receive more light and capture every tone with greater fidelity, that difference won't always offer a visually appreciable benefit.

A smaller sensor can't usually capture as much total light or compete in absolute image quality terms, but it can generally be smaller and more convenient as a result.

In the most simple terms, all systems involve trade-offs between size, price and image quality. The challenge is to understand the magnitude of these trade-offs, and choose the one that makes most sense for you and the types of photos you want to take.

Before and After: Students Becoming Better Photographers After 31 Days Course

The post Before and After: Students Becoming Better Photographers After 31 Days Course appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Darren Rowse.

Remember when you first started taking photos? Feelings of excitement and hope being replaced by disappointment and confusion when you couldn’t figure out why you and your camera didn’t seem to be seeing the same thing? Or maybe that’s you right now?

We just had to share these ‘before and after’ photos taken by students of our course, 31 Days to Becoming a Better Photographer, just to remind you of where we all start, and what is possible. If you’re a seasoned photographer, please jump in the comments and give these photographers the encouragement they deserve to continue their photography journey.

If you’re a beginner, take some inspiration by what is possible with the right support and guidance. We’re very proud of all of our students and thank the few below who have allowed us to share their progress with you.

Current course intake coming to a close soon

We open the doors to our most popular course just a few times a year so that instructor Jim Hamel can focus on his students and guide them through the course. He is the most attentive mentor we’ve seen, and our students love him. Doors close for the current class midnight (PDT) on the 18th of April so be quick and check out the details here.

Our students’ before and after photos

A big shoutout to our students below for letting us share these photos of their progress, and to all of our students who have taken up this course. We’re very proud of how far you’ve come!

Rebecca Garnett

Rebecca says, “I enjoy taking photos at the beach and was not happy with the way my photos were turning out.” The before photo was taken in 2017 at Pismo Beach when she had taken the camera off auto and used aperture and shutter speed priority.

Rebecca Garnett Beach Before the 31 Days Photography Course

Rebecca Garnett’s beach photo before taking 31 Days to Becoming a Better Photographer Course

 

Rebecca Garnett Beach Photo After the 31 Days Photography course

Rebecca Garnett’s beach photo after taking the 31 Days to Becoming a Better Photographer Course.

The after photo was taken in December 2018 at the same place but shot in Manual Mode.

“I never thought I would ever use manual mode as it was too confusing, until Jim’s course. The course was awesome! It helped me get to know more about my camera and improved the way I take photos and editing. The class was enjoyable, and it was great interacting with the other classmates on Facebook. Well worth it!!”

~ Rebecca Garnett

George Conant

George shares, “Before taking this course, I appreciated really good photos from others but found most of mine weren’t that good. This course improved my photography a lot.”

George Conant's landscape photo before taking Jim's course

George Conant’s landscape photo before taking Jim’s course

“This photo was taken (I think) in auto mode. Although the clouds look good there is no major point of focus, nor rule of thirds. I had no thought at the time of working on focus. The result is that the distance is not in focus, and the in-focus foreground is not very interesting,” says George.

George'a landscape after taking the 31 Days to Becoming a Better Photographer course.

George’a landscape after taking the 31 Days to Becoming a Better Photographer course.

In addition to the huge improvement in his photo, George’s commentary on his ‘after’ photo clearly demonstrates what he has learned from the course.

“This photo was better than the last for several reasons.

  1. There is a leading line with the road.
  2. The sun is at an angle coming from the left.
  3. There is interesting color contrast, particularly with the red in the bushes to the side of the road.
  4. While the foreground is not in great focus, much of the photo is from a point part way down the road, extending to the mountain.
  5. The composition is more interesting with the bushes forming a bit of a V with the mountain in the distance.”

“Jim is an excellent teacher. He provides both really good videos and documents that include what he discussed in the videos as well as providing homework for each day. He motivated us class members to post our ongoing work in a Facebook group for our class, where he and other class members provided praise as well as constructive criticism. He was very good at answering posted questions. Finally, even though the course I took finished in early 2018, Jim still participates in our group. I don’t know of any other course this good for people like me.”

Lorayne Hudson

“Prior to this course I took few photographs and when I did, the camera was always on Auto. My main issues were with my landscapes never looking like they’re in focus, and not being able to get close to flowers,” says Lorayne.

Check out her before and after photos which illustrate her continued improvement.

Lorayne Hudson's 'before' photo at the river

Lorayne Hudson’s ‘before’ photo was taken in 2010 at Fingle’s Glen, Dartmoor with no post-processing as she didn’t know it was possible.

 

Lorayne's 'after' photo at the river

Lorayne’s ‘after’ photo was taken this year one early morning whilst out for a walk. The sun was just coming up and there was a light mist on the ground.

 

Lorayne Hudson's photo of a flower before 31 Days course

Lorayne Hudson’s photo of a flower before taking the course

“This is a standard photo of a flower that I have very many of… it’s flat with no light. Taken in Auto, I had no idea about depth of field, but was quite impressed with the blur but didn’t think much further. I now strive for similar effects knowing how it’s done,” explains Lorayne.

Lorayne Hudson's flower photo after taking the 31 Days Course

Now Lorayne’s flower photos look like this, with minor adjustments to the highlights, shadows and clarity in Lightroom.

Lorayne shares what she has learned from the course:

  1. To use my camera with confidence and not be afraid of it or the subject.
  2. The right light can make such a difference to the subject.
  3. Rules are made to be broken.
  4. Don’t just stand, move around, up and down, change your perspective.
  5. Using post-processing tools is not cheating – they are your friend.
  6. Having a good group of like-minded people to share your photographic achievements – and woes with – makes photography more enjoyable.

Bob Truran

An example of Bob Truran's beach photos before the course

An example of Bob Truran’s beach photos before the course

 

Bob Truran's beach photos after the course

Bob Truran’s beach photos after the course

Bob is pleased with the many compliments he has received for his ‘after’ photo.

“I have seen a marked improvement in my photography and have even received many new followers on Instagram as well as added comments from my friends on Facebook. This course is great for beginners as well as those that may require a brush-up.”

Marie Costanza

Marie gets the unofficial dPS prize for best ‘duck transformation’!

Marie Costanza Duck Before

Marie Constanza’s ‘before’ photo of a duck

 

Marie Constanza's after photo of a duck

Marie’s photo of a duck after taking 31 Days to Becoming a Better Photographer Course

“When I began the course, I was a novice photographer who used Auto mode for all my images. I occasionally tried Aperture Priority, but I was totally intimidated by Manual. A year later, thanks to this course, I completely use and understand how to use Manual, but more importantly, I understand several techniques for composing an effective image.

Thanks to Jim’s excellent teaching style, and the effective resources that he provides, I now feel like a competent photographer. I have actually won several competitions, was asked to display an image in a local photography gallery and have been asked to show 8 images in an upcoming gallery show. A year ago, I never would have believed that I could do all of this. The pace of Jim’s course, his calm teaching style, the practice assignments, and the regular feedback provided by Jim make this the most effective photography course I have ever taken.”

~ Marie Costanza

Rick Willingham

Meet the once overwhelmed Rick – “How in the heck am I supposed to figure out how to use this thing?” His first ‘selfie’ image was taken in 2012 from his then brand new Canon T3i.

Rick Willingham's 'before' selfie

Rick Willingham’s Selfie on his new camera, before taking the course.

Rick Willingham's 'after' selfie

Rick’s ‘selfie’ after taking the 31 Days to Becoming a Better Photographer course – ISO 100 or 100 proof?

The latter was shot almost one year after purchasing the 31-days course, with a Canon T3i and a nifty-fifty EF 50mm f/1.8 lens.
Rick's before shot of the ocean in 2012

Rick’s before shot of the ocean in 2012

Rick Willingham Beach photo after the 31 Days Course

Rick’s ‘after’ beach photo shot shot with a recently purchased refurbished Canon 6D and 24-105 f/4L II lens.

So, what does Rick see as changes or improvements to his photography?
  1. Shooting earlier/later in the day
  2. Using post-processing to get the visual “mood” I want
  3. Getting lower to get the shot
  4. Using lighting to my advantage
  5. Composing shots more carefully than before
  6. Controlling the depth of field to match the composition
  7. Conscientiously selecting the shooting position and focal length to match the desired composition

Shaun Bentley

Shaun Bentley's river photo before he took the 31 Days course

Shaun Bentley’s river photo before he took the course

 

Shaun Bentley's 'after' shot of the river

Shaun Bentley went back to the river to take this shot using what he had learned from the course

The first photo was taken back in 2017 as a standard jpg. Shaun returned earlier this year and got a similar shot but this time applied the camera and post techniques he learned from Jim Hamel.

Of the course he says, “Simple yet comprehensive instructional videos combined with sharing and learning groups made the course easy and enjoyable. I now have the knowledge and confidence to take my photography further.”

Kay Koufalakis

Kay says, “Apart from post processing, the biggest improvement I have made is looking at things from a different perspective and planning – when to go to get the best shots, for example. I still have a way to go, but I can see progress and it is getting easier.”

Kay Koufalakis' waterfall before the course

Kay Koufalakis’ waterfall before the course

Whilst she captured the water the way she wanted in this photo, she really wanted sky too and left side of the waterfall is overblown.

“I’ve learned that this is a difficult shot to get in one and now know how to take it bracketed,” says Kay. The following ‘after’ shot of a waterfall demonstrates her understanding of taking a different perspective. “Same waterfall, different perspective. I climbed higher which negated the overblown and shadows problem,” explains Kay.

Kay Koufalakis waterfall photo after the course

Same waterfall, different perspective!

Can you become a better photographer in 31 days?

Well, these students have proven that, yes, you can make some amazing progress in a short time. But the teaching (and learning) doesn’t just stop after 31 days! Access to the class Facebook group is for 3 months and many of our students then transfer to our Graduates group. Here they continue to learn and support each other with challenges and constructive feedback, and the instructor Jim Hamel still pops in to see how they’re all doing.

If you’d like to be in our next graduate group with your own before and after photos to share, sign up today before you miss the cutoff!

The post Before and After: Students Becoming Better Photographers After 31 Days Course appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Darren Rowse.

Drone footage shows the extent of damage from the Notre Dame Cathedral fire

The Notre Dame Cathedral, located on a small island on the Seine River in Paris, has withstood the French Revolution, two world wars and the horrors of Nazi occupation. A devastating fire ripped through the 850-year-old landmark this past Monday, decimating its vaulting, roof and spire. The above drone footage, courtesy of Ruptly, shows the extent of the damage. A panorama from Gigarama offers up additional context.

Up to 500 firefighters battled the flames into the late evening on Monday. According to a recent article in The Guardian, the cathedral was 15 to 30 minutes away from complete destruction if efforts to prevent the fire from reaching the bell towers had not succeeded. The two towers did not incur any structural damage.

Some credit for this small triumph can be attributed to the use of DJI drones, a Mavic Pro and Matrice M210. Remote pilots were able to track the movement of the flames and inform firefighters on where they should aim the fire hoses. 'The drones allowed us to correctly use what we had at our disposal,' said fire brigade spokesman Gabriel Plus in comments translated from French.

French President Emanuel Macron has vowed to completely restore the structure in five years time, an ambitious goal considering that the Notre Dame Cathedral took several hundred years to build. Police say the fire was likely an accident caused in the wake of renovations, though a full investigation is currently underway.

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