Do you want good printed photographs? Follow these steps for reliable print exposure and color.
Creating quality prints is a skill of its own in the professional world of photography. Producing good colors and accurately exposing your pictures in-camera, then post-processing them is useless effort if the final result does not match what you see on the screen.
For printed photographs to process, we need to create the same color depth and a great balance of highlights and need to have a streamlined workflow from shoot to output.
For photographers who are experienced in the field this is likely old news – even some failed attempts in printing or several disappointing returns from online print places will be learning in print management. However, there are few steps that should be taken to make sure even better continuity of tone and more accurate results.
Lets look at some simple and effective color control fundamentals that, while obvious in hindsight, can be overlooked by many!
Where your editing is as important as how you process your images there is no hidden thing that the editing of images should ideally be done in neutral settings, in a room with walls and no direct light falling on the screen. Whereas, continuity is critical – find a neutral place and edit all your images in that. Changing places, even within a room, can have effects on how you see the colors in your picture.
Monitoring calibration is an important point in producing reliable colors. But the regularity with which you do this is also needs to be kept in view. Many photographers calibrate their screen, then don’t do repeat that. This lets time for the monitor to shift again. So, calibrate as part of your regular work may be bi-weekly.
Monitor to camera
Have you ever thought of your computer monitor and comparing it to your camera screen? Not only there are differences in how they represent color but camera screen likely only shows you a JPEG preview of your RAW files. Select a flat JPEG profile in-camera, then compare a reference image on both your camera LCD and editing screen, to identify discrepancies. This will help you capture more reliable colors in the field, minimizing how much later color adjustment is required, and reducing the likelihood of unwanted settings making it to print.
Compare prints to screen
If you have any reference prints, after employing some of the other steps featured, compare those to the final images on-screen. This will help you see where you have over-compensated or under-compensated for color or exposure issues. Shadows seem dark in print, so this process enables you to adjust your editing approach for that specific paper and printer combination.
Adjust screen for setting
Sometimes you have to leave your common editing space. When this is unresistable, take note of the places or similar lighting conditions you find yourself working with– this can enable you to adjust the color balance of your system’s screen, to more precisely adjust for the change. The aim of this activity is to reproduce the screen appearance in your standard editing area, giving you more color consistency.
When you understand the balance between your perception of color in your images and how this translates through a printer, onto paper, you can make adjustments to edit your image. This helps gain more predictable colors and fewer wasted prints!
Do you know that strange red tint on all of the photos in your family albums? It has a name – it’s called a color cast. Most old pictures have one, and if you can and upload them to Photoshop, you can easily do away with it.
Essentially, though, what Matt means is that to get the best results you’ll close the gaps between the edge of the range for each of the channels: red, blue, and green. It’s a simple technique that just requires a little slide of the mouse. And even though it’s a simple action, the results are impressive
Steps to Restoring Old Photos in Photoshop
To enhance your old photos, we’ve listed down several steps you should follow. These steps apply to digital photo restoration using the latest version of Adobe Photoshop.
Digitize your old photo.
Open the image in Photoshop.
Crop, straighten, or rotate the image.
Make the necessary adjustments to your image.
Apply a filter to reduce noise.
Save the newly restored image.
Digitize your old photo
The first step is to scan the photo to get a digital copy. You can use a regular photo scanner, take a photo using a digital camera, or use a scanner app on your smartphone.
Whichever method you use, make sure that it will yield a large, high-quality copy of the photo to make it easier to work with.
Open the image in Photoshop
Next, open the digital image in Photoshop. Then create a second copy of the image. You’ll want to keep an original copy for reference, so you’ll be working on altering the second copy.
How to create a duplicate copy of an image in Photoshop:
Select a layer in the Layers panel.
Drag the layer to the Create a New Layer button, or select the Duplicate Layer option from the Layers menu or Layers panel menu.
If you’ve selected the Duplicate Layer option, give your layer a name, and click OK.
Crop, straighten, or rotate the image
Before you can begin making any adjustments, make sure that you’re working with a clean, properly oriented image.
If there’s any unwanted white space (or any kind of space that shouldn’t be there) around the edges, you can simply crop all of that out.
How to crop your image:
Click on the Crop icon on the toolbox (on the left side of Photoshop’s default workspace).
Draw a new cropping area or drag the edges of the crop box to the desired positions.
Press Enter (Windows) or Return (Mac OS) to crop the image.
f the scan of your image is a bit crooked, you can straighten it out using the crop tool.
How to straighten a crooked image:
Click on the Crop icon, then click the Straighten icon on the toolbar.
Drag a line along a horizontal or vertical element in the photo.
Let go of the mouse so that Photoshop can rotate your image and crop its uneven edges.
Once you are satisfied, press Enter. Photoshop will also remove the excess image if you’ve enabled the Delete Cropped Pixels checkbox.
How to rotate your image:
Photoshop CC lets you rotate your image through its Image Rotation setting or the Transform function in the Edit menu.
To rotate your image using the Image Rotation option:
Click on Image in the taskbar.
Select Image Rotation.
Choose your preferred rotation.
To rotate your image using the Edit menu:
Click on your image to select it.
Click on the Edit menu, then choose Transform.
Choose your preferred rotation.
Make the necessary adjustments to your image
There are two ways to do this step in Photoshop: adjusting your image’s color and fixing its damaged spots.
Make color correction adjustments.
Old photos are usually faded, but if you want to improve the tone, color, contrast, and overall vibrancy of the photo, Photoshop can do these, too.
If you select Image from the taskbar, you’ll see a drop-down menu that will pretty much give you everything you need for some basic color correction. Under Adjustments, you’ll see three options: Auto Tone, Auto Contrast, and Auto Color. Try these out first and see if these automatic corrections deliver your desired effect. If not, you can do these corrections manually.
Depending on the condition of your photo, the best thing to do is to play around with these different adjustment tools to get the right tone, color, and contrast.
If your image has a color cast, here are a few steps to follow to correct the effect:
Highlight your duplicate layer, then click on the adjustment layers icon under the Layers panel.
Choose Levels from the adjustment layer options.
To adjust your photo’s RGB (red, green, and blue) levels, click on the dedicated tab. A RGB menu will appear.
Click on any of the color options, then bring the white and black sliders to the histogram’s upward line.
Once you’re done adjusting the RGB levels, click on the Layers panel to exit.
Highlight your duplicate layer and your adjustment layer, then right click on the area and select Merge Layers to combine both layers.
Fix the damaged spots.
This part is where it gets a bit tricky—you’ll definitely need an eye for detail and a whole lot of patience! If there are any scratches, stains, and other unwanted marks on your photo, you can use a few beginner-friendly spot correction Photoshop tools: the Spot Healing Brush, the Patch Tool, and the Clone Stamp.
How to use the Spot Healing Brush:
Click on the Spot Healing Brush icon (the one that looks like a band-aid) on the toolbox.
Choose your desired brush size in the options bar.
Choose between the Proximity Match, Create Texture, or Content-Aware Type options. Any of these options should work for what you’re trying to achieve.
Select or deselect the Sample All Layers option if you want to sample data from all layers or one active layer.
Click on the spot you want to fix, or click and drag the brush over imperfections in a larger area.
How to use the Patch Tool:
Select the Patch Tool.
Select the area you want to repair by dragging, then select Source in the options bar. You can also select your sample area by dragging and selecting the Destination option.
Adjust your selection by using the Shift-drag, Alt-drag/Option-drag, or Alt+Shift-drag/Option+Shift-drag combinations.
Select Transparent if you want to extract a transparent texture from your sample area, or deselect it to put the sample area over the target area.
Adjust the Diffusion slider.
Place the pointer inside your selection, then drag it to your sample or patch area.
Apply a filter to reduce noise
You can’t magically get rid of the dust and scratches with just a press of a button—you’ll have to do it manually. However, you can make that job easier by using Photoshop’s Filter functions to reduce some of that unwanted noise.
Save the newly restored image
Once you’re happy with the image, delete the unedited layer (the original reference layer) or right-click the edited layer and select Flatten Image (make sure that your edited layer is on top). After that, just follow the steps below to save your photo.
Photographers love their gadgets, and gadgets are fantastic go-to’s when the gift-giving season rolls around. There’s certainly no shortage of toys on the market, but it’s overwhelming figuring out what’s worth the buy. If the photographer in your life hasn’t provided you with a wish list, it feels like a shot in the dark trying to pick out what they need. This might help. Here are key photography accessories that make for awesome gifts.
Most digital cameras have an Auto White Balance function that works in a pinch. But, for many pros and serious hobbyists, it’s preferable to customize WB right on the spot. Impact’s QuikBalance Collapsible 12″ Gray Panel, a modern twist on the classic gray card, is one way to do this. One side is 18% gray, and the other is neutral white. When placed in the same lighting as the subject, photographers can adjust their settings accordingly or use it as a base point for accurate post-processing later. The same concept applies to the X-Rite Original ColorChecker Card, which features 24 colors that mimic things they might be shooting (skin tones, sky, foliage, etc.) as well as neutral grays.
Replacement Camera Straps
The neck straps that come with bigger cameras typically aren’t designed for comfort. On longer shots, they can become downright painful. The best way to avoid strain is to get the camera off the neck altogether, and these several fantastic alternatives can do just that. Black straps are designed to be worn from shoulder to hip, distributing weight evenly across the body. They come in a range of designs, depending on how much or what type of support is needed. Peak Design also has a great line of versatile straps that can be worn around the neck or across the shoulder, along with a quick-connecting handgrip and tethered wrist cuff (great for lighter cameras). Hand straps are also available from Vello, who sells some great little padded attachments that can be used with or without battery grips. To go hands-free altogether, hip holsters are lifesavers. Spider is famous for its heavy-duty SpiderPro Single and Dual holster systems, and its smaller Black Widow for lightweight DSLRs.
A memory-card wallet is a downright necessary organizational tool for any photographer. Memory cards are small and delicate, a bad combination without somewhere safe to keep them. Check out the colorful little SD Pixel Pocket Rocket from ThinkTank. This wallet will hold 9 SD cards in clear slots, along with a few business cards in the back. It folds up nice and flat so it hardly takes up any room. For a more protective way to store cards, Pelican offers some great hardcover cases made of polycarbonate resin. These are water-resistant and shock absorbent, so they’ll gladly take a beating. The 0915 is perfect for SD or Mini SD cards, while the 0945 is designed for CF cards.
A good camera bag is a necessity. It will be heavily used, so put some thought into what’ll serve someone best. Lowepro is a good place to start, since the company offers just about any style of carrying case a person could need. Sleek black shoulder bags are available in a range of sizes, each with padded interiors and retractable rain flaps. Lowepro also offers similarly-built backpacks, which come in assorted colors and are well suited to the mobile photographer. If you’re looking for something that offers style as well a protection
Every photographer needs a tripod. Whether you decide to shell out a lot or a little, having something to safely stabilize a camera is a must-have for certain kinds of shots. The MeFOTO’s aluminum construction can support up to 26.4 lb of equipment. One of its key features is its portability: it collapses into a mere 16.1″, which is remarkably convenient for a tripod of its size. But if that’s still too big, the flexible little Joby Gorillapod is a perfect mini-tripod to stabilize up to 6.6 lb of camera. Its bendy joints can be flexed to grip or wrap around almost any object.
Filters can be somewhat underrated these days, but they definitely serve a purpose, even in the age of digital photography. Warming or cooling filters can be used for adjusting color temperatures, and a multitude of specialty filters can be used to achieve different creative effects. For landscape photographers, two of the most beloved types of filters are neutral density and circular polarizers. ND filters come solid, graduated, or center-weighted, and cut the light entering a lens by several stops. These are great for long-exposure shots, letting the photographer dictate the shutter speed and aperture without worrying about overexposing in bright ambient light. Circular polarizers work by changing the way lenses takes in light. They eliminate reflections and glare (water, glass, etc.), as well as darken blue skies for rich, gorgeous color.
Memory Card Reader
High-volume photographers need a way to quickly and efficiently get their digital images uploaded to a computer. The best way to do this is with a memory card reader, and the Lexar Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot device is perfectly cut out for the job. This portable reader is compatible with CF, SDXC/ SDHC UHS-I, and SD cards, and is fully capable of simultaneous transfer. Its pop-up design protects inner circuitry when not in use, and it’s compatible with both USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports.
What is a go to gadget you recommend photographers think about picking up for their travels, studios, or just to have around the house? Let me know in the comments below!
There is nothing better to practice photography skills at-home. There are lots of ideas you can experiment with, and with some basic equipment, you can really work wonders. Let’s get into it and discover some creative photography ideas you can work on at home, and work into a series of images.
Photographing water Droplets
This is a classic project that you can try at home. It is also relatively simple to set up, though you will need some specialized photographic equipment.
The equipment needed here includes a camera with a macro lens, a tripod, and an off-camera flash. You will then need to set up a location where you can drip water into a bowl of water.
Everyone loves to practice food photography, especially when the food looks amazing! This genre is huge, and potentially lucrative, as the images you take could be sold as stock.
So what are some of the things that can lead to successful food photography in the home? Take a look at this list, but for a more detailed guide take a look at this article.
Lighting – This is key to good food photography. Natural light such as window sidelight works well. If you use off-camera flash, the light should come from behind the food, but be sure to reflect the light back to avoid shadows in your photo.
Backdrop – Standard still life backdrops like photographing the food in a light box can be effective. Otherwise, make sure the background provides context to the food you wish to photograph.
Food layout – Make sure your food is well presented. The best professional food photographers use food stylists, so see how you can produce something with style. The use of repeating elements is one potential solution here.
Lensball light painting
A lot of Lensball photography will be carried outdoors, however, the Lensball is an excellent still-life object too.
One popular indoor project for Lensball photographers is light painting. You will need a dark room, tripod, and sheet of glass to go on the table as your initial setup.
Freezing Objects in ice
A fun project to try when you have a bit of time at home is freezing objects in ice. You will need a few days to complete each photo since there is a process involved in freezing an object. The main thing you need to achieve is getting the object to freeze in the middle of the block of ice.
Still life photography
Once again, this is a huge genre in photography. The most professional photos will always have good lighting.
This style of photography could dovetail nicely with another hobby you may have. For instance, if you’re a quilter, photographing your finished product is a great idea.
Another of the at-home creative photography ideas involves getting into the science vibe with a bit of hydrophilic and hydrophobic action.
That’s mixing oil and water and then photographing the resultant oil “bubbles.”
Learn a new post-processing skill
One of the more obvious candidates for at-home creative photography ideas is post-processing.
Everyone knows this is a vital aspect of photography, it’s basically the new darkroom. Yet investing time in learning new post-processing skills when you’d rather be outside photographing? Well, if you have to be inside, then learning some new post-processing skills is a great idea!
Digital blending – A great technique to learn for landscape photographers, you’ll learn some key Photoshop skills like layer masking through learning this procedure.
Cloning – Whether it’s cloning an object out of the image, or cloning yourself multiple times, this is a great skill to learn.
Congratulations on getting a new camera, and welcome to the world of photography! You are definitely going to love it. Before you go out shooting, take a look at these things you should do first with your brand-new camera.
We also know how overwhelming it can be when you get that new camera in your hands. There are so many buttons, so many menus, a whole new language to learn, and that’s before you even take the first picture!
But don’t worry, we are here to help. Follow these simple steps and you will be well on your way to using that camera confidently.
Open the box
Sometimes just opening the box can be a little intimidating when getting a new piece of equipment. Take inventory of what is in there and make a list of things that you may need before you start taking pictures.
Most DSLRs will come with the camera body, a battery, charger, user manual, warranty information, and a bunch of protective packaging. Some cameras will come with a lens while others will just come with the camera body.
Pro tip: Keep all of the packagings in a safe place. Should you ever want to sell your camera (and you likely will one day!), having the original box will allow you to sell it more easily.
Read the Manual
It is not likely going to be the most exciting piece of literature you will ever read. However, your manual is the definitive guide on your camera. It’s worth spending a few hours to get to know your new best friend!
The manual will tell you how to safely use your camera, where to find specific functions, and will break down all those menus. You may even find that your camera can do things that you didn’t know it could do!
Surround yourself with Inspiration
One of the best ways to motivate your photography is to surround yourself with photographs that inspire you. Keep a Pinterest board of photographs you love and make notes on what you admire about each shot. Follow other photographers on Instagram. Keep photography books on your coffee table.
Of course, your first shots with that new camera aren’t going to look like the shots that you admire so much. Those photographers’ first shots didn’t look like that either! However, keeping beautiful photography around you all the time will help train your eye to see what makes a photo beautiful. This helps you as you seek out your own photo opportunities.
Get the Extras
Not everything you need to use your camera will come in that one box. You may need memory cards, a camera strap, a padded bag, extra batteries, and a lens!
Take the time to do some research on what items will work best for your needs. Memory cards, for example come in various sizes and speeds and you will want to make sure that the ones you get work well with your specific camera body.
We like to go to our local camera store when looking for all the extras as the staff there knows exactly what works and can point us in the right direction quickly. Bring your camera with you and they will set you up with everything you need.
Pro tip: Don’t be afraid to show a little personality! Items like camera straps and bags are where you can have a little fun with your gear and there are no shortage of styles from which to choose.
Start taking Pictures
Once you have your camera battery charged, your memory card in the slot, and a lens attached, turn that camera on and take some photos. Play with your settings and see what you can capture. These aren’t going to be the best pictures you ever take, but the best way to learn is to dive right in.
Practice picking focus points. See what happens as you switch through the various automatic modes. Try putting the camera in manual mode and see what happens. Keep a list of things that work and things that you find challenging.
Getting a new camera is so exciting and we want you to take pictures you love. We know that following these simple first steps will have you well on your way to capturing the world around you and we can’t wait to see where your camera takes you!
One of the most exciting aspects of starting filmmaking is putting your video production equipment together. Keep in mind, there is no “one size fits all” package for everyone as there are so many variables like budget, type of project, locations, pro vs amateur, etc so what we have tried to do in this article is to cover some basic gear you may want to consider.
Below is a video production equipment list for the filmmaker.
A video camera is the centerpiece of your filmmaking gear. What camera you choose depends on your budget, the type of shooting you are doing (static, stealth, run-and-gun, etc.), and where you plan to showcase your film (web-only, theater, broadcast, etc). You can shoot a documentary on anything from your iPhone to a DSLR to a top of line digital cinema camera. Whatever camera you choose, make sure you capture excellent audio.
A necessary piece of equipment to keep your footage looking steady and professional.
Get a tripod with a fluid head for smoother looking pans.
Sometimes a nice pop of light from the camera can help fill in ugly shadows. Camera light is a nice accessory to have especially in a documentary/news style shoot where you might not have time for a full 3-point lighting set-up.
Three-Point Lighting Kit
You only really need a lighting kit if you’re planning to do a lot of shooting inside. Creating a well-lit scene usually involves a 3-way lighting set-up.
Great audio often separates the pros from the amateurs. Having a shotgun mic prepares you for almost every situation. It’s perfect for setting on top of your camera or a boom pole.
A boom mic set-up comes in handy to capture audio from a group interview, crowd scenes or any situation where you need to gather professional audio quickly. In addition to the boom pole (right), you’ll need a shockmount and a shotgun mic.
Here’s the simple gadget needed to turn your shotgun mic into a boom pole mic. A shock mount keeps the mic steady on top of the pole and prevents the mic from picking up “bumping” sounds when the pole is moving around.
Audio (XLR) Cables
If you plan to use a professional audio set-up with your camcorder, you’ll need XLR cables to go from your camera to the mic.
Sure, you can use a “wired mic” which is a bit less expensive, but I wouldn’t go on a documentary shoot without my wireless microphone. Unless you have an audio person who can hold a boom mic, this is the next best thing providing tons of flexibility for walk-and-talk interviews with your subjects.
Portable Digital Audio Recorder
If you decide to shoot your documentary with a DSLR such as the Canon 5D Mark IV, it’s highly recommended that you either get an external mic or portable audio recorder such as the Zoom H5 (left).
Getting great audio means monitoring the sound at all times while shooting. Find a good quality, comfortable set of headphones to make sure you avoid any nasty audio surprises when you get back from the shoot.
This is a must-have item for your documentary filmmaking kit. A light reflector can turn an ugly amateur-looking shot into a golden and gorgeously lit scene.
Have you ever seen those cool fish-eye scenes? That’s from using a special wide angle lens. If you’re shooting in super sunny situations, an ND filter or circular polarizer can dramatically improve the image. Or what about super close-ups of a bug or flower, that’s when you need a macro lens.
Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, etc. all of these social media platforms encourage visually creative and attractive images. To tie your brand and blog to the images you post online, you may decide to create these pictures and photos yourself. When it comes to blogging though, there are a few pieces of photography equipment that can really help in taking your photos to the next level. In this post, we are going to look at the best photography equipment for bloggers and how they make your pictures stand out from the crowd.
Best Cameras for Bloggers
The first thing you need in order to take a photo is a camera ofcourse. As I have already mentioned, this does not need to be the latest & greatest DSLR or mirrorless camera on the market. You could use your smartphone, a compact camera or a more affordable interchangeable lens camera.
If you’re looking to create some professional looking images at an affordable price, have a look at my guide to the Best cameras of 2021.
Most of these cameras feature an interchangeable lens, making them extremely versatile and for blogging that can be a massive advantage.
Best Camera Lens for Bloggers
If you decide on a mirrorless or DSLR camera, you are going to need a lens or two. Which lenses you go for all depend on what type of camera system you are using and what exactly you photograph for your blog.
This is a 50mm lens (or equivalent to 50mm if you’re using a camera with a crop factor) that has a wide aperture, and generally doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. The bonus of a wide aperture, like f/1.8, is that you can get some great bokeh quite easily.
Best Tripod for Bloggers
A tripod is one of those things that most, overlook when they are starting out and just get the cheapest tripod they can find as it’s just a tripod after all.
Whilst it’s true that any tripod is better than no tripod, a quality tripod from the get-go will save having to burn through numerous cheap tripods. This is especially true if you are on the go & take a lot of photos outside.
Best Overhead Mount for Bloggers
Ever wondered how bloggers get those awesome flat lay images with products and accessories scattered across a vintage wooden table? The easiest way is to use an overhead mount, like this one, on your tripod.
You will be able to take images directly above any products you may be reviewing, create seasonal flat lays as well as other flat lays for both your blog and social media. When it comes to flat lays, the options are endless.
Best Lighting Kit for Bloggers
Lighting up your images is by far the single most effective way to make your images look more professional.
A lighting kit, like this one, allows you to position and angle your light in a way that accentuates your subject. This kit in particular also comes with two soft-boxes that soften the light, giving it a much more pleasing appearance and reduces hard shadows in your images.
Best Diffuser and Reflector Kit for Bloggers
When it comes to lighting, natural lighting is pretty much always the best.
As I mentioned above though, it’s hardly something you can predict or control. This is why lighting kits are so important indoors. When it comes to outdoor use, however, reflectors can help you target that brilliant natural light right where you want it and illuminate your subject with some beautiful soft light.
Whilst all this photography equipment can really help you take better images for your blog, having a look around your home and thinking a little bit outside of the box might be able to save you some cash whilst still being able to take some pretty awesome images.
Use your smartphone, improvise with white cardboard & duct tape to create a reflector and a tripod. Use a mobile app to control your camera, etc. Start off small or invest in one item to get yourself going. And like everything when it comes to blogging, just keep practicing and you’ll improve in no time!
Making decisions is crucial to the art of photography. They happen after you press the shutter
Snapselect lets you quickly pick your best images by conveniently viewing similar images and duplicates. This can save you valuable time. But what do you look for when you are self-selecting it?
Making decisions is crucial to the art of photography (and many other things). A lot of decisions happen before you press the camera’s shutter. A lot of decisions happen after that, too. One of the key decisions is choosing your best images.
How do you decide between two images nearly the same? Or which one out of many from a photo shoot is the best? What attributes indicate a keeper? Many advise to only show your best photos, yet rarely give much advice on how to choose. Here are a few ideas to keep in mind when evaluating your images.
This is something to get right in the camera, but it doesn’t always work out that way. The sun is a wonderful light source, but it is hard to reposition and some subjects cannot be moved. Yes, exposure can be adjusted using digital tools. However, the results when pushed too far can result in crunchy areas of an image as pixels get squished to the same tonal range. Processing with digital tools removes and alters information. Best to begin with the best information captured. This usually saves time in post-processing.
Detail & Sharpness
Our eyes notice edges and patterns and textures. These details help define what is important in an image. Pick the image with the subject sharp, or with the important parts sharper than the rest of the image. A sharp photograph can be made sharper, but, generally, a blurred image cannot be sharpened again. Areas can be blurred further to give other areas the illusion of sharpness, but the image will never really be sharp again.
Cropping and straightening can be adjusted by digital tools, but, again, starting from the best composition leads to less work and better pixels. A strong composition is a strong framework for the expression of the image.
Portraits are generally stronger if a subject is looking back at the viewer. A connection is felt eye to eye. Whether the subject is a newborn baby, a grandmother, a tiger, a parrot, a criminal, a politician, an actor, or even a statue. That gaze looking back provokes a reaction in us. It is primal.
Think position and posture and angles between parts. The expression of intention or attitude of a subject in the image contributes to its meaning and to the attitude the photographer is showing toward the subject. The gesture does not have to be big.
Is the subject moving? Is that shown in the image? Is it important? Is it graceful? Clumsy? Or is the lack of movement the remarkable thing about the image? Sometimes an image works best when the movement is frozen. Sometimes the motion blur shows the power or speed of the motion.
The strength of some images is the surprising thing captured in the photograph, usually unintentionally. This might be a photo-bomb-ing relative at a party or person across the subway platform dancing or a street sign seeming to comment on the action in the image. Sometimes the surprise is simply the thing that does not look like it should belong but does somehow. Related to surprise is distraction – what should not be in the image – like a tree growing out of a person’s head. What is the difference between a surprise and a distraction? You want to keep the surprise and remove the distraction. One adds and the other subtracts.
Some moments just cannot be recaptured. The image was taken at exactly the right time from the right angle. A long-time ago a friend took a photo of another friend falling into a swimming pool. The photo captured the exact moment of the friend breaking the surface of the water, clothes still dry on one side. A split second earlier or later and the photo was just okay. What made it special was the moment. Special moments are keepers.
Not every idea works for every choice or comparison between photographs. At times the ideas contradict or compete in the same image. Some attributes may be missing completely. Prioritizing these ideas is part of the decision making process, which is tied to the intention of the photographer. What is the purpose of the photograph? What is it expressing?
Making a lot of decisions tends to lead to similar answers. This leads to personal style. Style is the how and what of the image. Style is what you cannot help but do. Create enough photographs with all the big and small decisions involved and a style emerges. Part of your style may be explicit, like always processing to black & white, but parts will be much more subtle than that.
An important component of style is motivation. Why take photos at all? What is the purpose? How does the photographer feel about the subject? About photography? About life? Is that expressed in the photos? Style is part of that creative expression. Style is your unique voice. Style is collectively the answers to all those choices made when creating, keeping, processing, and sharing images.
Professional photographers shoot 30+ weddings a year, and in doing that, sometimes it is easy to fall into the same old technique when it comes to portraits. Even with new poses, taking portraits can become very mundane if the same compositions and angles are used for every couple–we’ve definitely been through that creative rut where our pictures start looking very familiar. Throughout the years, we’ve challenged ourselves to stay on top of our game with a few useful techniques. Here are some of our best tips to help keep things fresh and unique for each couple.
1. Using a longer lens.
A lot of photographers say that their 50mm is a “must-have” portrait lens, but what a mid-range lens offers is a very familiar perspective, something that our eyes are used to seeing all the time. To create a more interesting image, we avoid shooting portraits in mid-range because the images look too ordinary. Most of our portraits are shot at 200mm or 85mm to create beautiful image compression that a 50mm would not be able to produce. The compression will not only flatter your subjects with less feature distortion but shooting at a longer focal length will also create more dramatic background blur and brings the background closer to your subject. It may be more difficult to communicate with your subjects while shooting at 200mm, but the difference will be apparent and well worth it. Our solution to this problem was to have one of us interact with our couples at close range while the other shoots from a distance.
2. Find angles that are not eye level.
Many times we are stuck seeing what is right in front of us. It is, after all, the easiest answer to everything. Challenge yourself to find a different angle from above or below eye-level to bring a new perspective to the image. This technique can also be used to flatter subjects of different body types and heights. In the image below, we asked the bride to sit on the ground in order to focus on her face and hair ornament while blurring out the rest of her body. It makes a more interesting image than the typical straight-on bridal portrait.
3. Use off-camera flash
During a wedding, our speed lites are never on-camera, even during the reception. Flash rarely flatters a person’s face when it is straight on, and the image loses its dimensionality. Using flash to light our subjects from the side, we are able to create both light and shadow on our subjects, flattering their features and bringing a greater range of highlights and shadows to the image. It also helps us bring out details in the background to create a more dramatic landscape.
4. Overpower the sun with flash
Shooting at mid-day is no easy task when using natural light. But with some artificial lights, something as simple as a couple of speedlites can diminish the power of the sun and darken the image for better exposure. We use this technique especially when we are trying to create environmental portraits that focus on the landscape. Using our speedlites, we are able to overpower the sun and underexpose the sky while only lighting up the subject. To create this amount of artificial light, we have to use 2-4 off-camera speedlites (with no diffuser) in order to generate enough light to overpower the sun. Holding the speedlites closer to the subject (to the side) also helps put more light on the subject and allows us to underexpose the background even more for dramatic effect.
5. Find back-light
It takes time and practice to train your eye to find great light. Once you learn how to “find the light” in any situation, it will help you master taking some amazing portraits. Lighting is, after all, the essence of photographic images. Whether you are using the sun, a window, or an ordinary light bulb, these light sources can be used to create beautiful edge light (a.k.a. hair light, rim light) when the light source is place behind your subject. The effect that rim light creates can enhance the dimension of your image by separating your subject from the background, outlining and focusing on your subject.
6. Shoot through objects
When objects are in our way, we like to use them to our advantage. In fact, many times we are purposely trying to find elements to place in the foreground of our image. Learning to find holes between tree branches, abstract objects, or even ordinary household items are simple, everyday things that will help enhance your images by bringing an interesting, and sometimes colorful, element to your composition. Using a longer lens will help blur out the foreground objects to frame the subjects in a more intimate way.
7. Use video light for night portraits
Video lights are very useful when no light source is available to light up your subject in dark situations. The great thing about video lights is that they are a constant light source so you can see what the image will look like in camera. We use LED video lights, which give us enough power to last 2+ hours. They are a great alternative to speedlites for low light situations and are quicker to adjust for dark situations.
8. Use gels on your speedlites
Adding CTO (orange) or CTB (blue) gels to your speedlites will change the mood of your image. Sometimes shooting in an environment which is overcast and very blue, adding a CTB gel will warm up the whole environment if you adjust the white balance correctly. CTO gels can also be used to emulate sunlight.
Black and white still life photography is beautiful in its simplicity. Still life photography is all about subjects that are inanimated and cannot move. For example you can capture food, ornaments, flowers etc.Here are top 5 tips to get the best of black and white still life photography.
1. Learn to Think in Black and White
Planning and thinking as a black and white photographer and a still life photo shoot is essential. This process requires a bit of brain storming. Thinking in that way, you will choose the right objects, story and, lighting for your images.
Get inspirations from photographs of the same field and check out their work for the better results. Masters in the field such as Edward Weston and Karl Blossfeldt were pioneers of still photography. They made unique works of art in black and white from simple everyday objects.
2. Enhance Textures and Shapes With Lighting
Without getting colors in the way, you can still play to the great strengths of black and white photography like with shapes and texture. Look to see where lines intersect and how light accentuates different textures.
Think about this throughout the black and white still life photography process. From selecting your subject matter and photographing it, to post-production and presentation.
It is preferable to use low key lighting with either sunlight near a window, or a soft sidelight. You can also experiment with and without a reflector. That way, you can check which works best for texture and shape.
Also, move your subject around and see how it catches the light from different angles. Sometimes a subtle move of half a centimetre can make a big difference.
If you are capturing an image without people or movement, it still can tell a story. You can consider shapes of leaves at different stages of their life cycle. And how different tones can convey emotion into your photography.
Black and white images of flowers gives the true beauty of their lines and shapes. Black and white flower photography is a great starting point for monochromatic still life photography.
Texture and style of a weathered shoe in black and white tell us about their owner, even if you do not feature a human in the photograph.
Antique things give stunning impact in black and white photographs. And you can enhance the story by using sepia or warm monochrome tones.
Look around your home or yard. See what subjects you can find that tell an impactful story. Even the most mundane object can become a work of art. All it needs is the right texture and shape with careful lighting and post-production.
4. Use Simple Compositions to Stand Out
Black and white photography is all about shapes, textures and lines. It is very important to use a clear and simple composition that does not get distracted from these elements.
If you are not certain of your composition, remove something from the frame of your area. Or take a step back to include more negative space.
5. Use the Color Sliders to Enhance Black and White Still Life Photos
When it comes to black and white still life photography, clicking the shutter is only solution of the process. Fine-tuning images in post-production is the important final step.
Clarity adjustment, dodging and burning, and spot removal are standard techniques to tidy up your photo in Lightroom or Camera Raw. But the tool I use most with my black and white still life photographs is the HSL (hue, saturation, luminance) colour slider.
Moving individual sliders up or down gives you great control of light and shadows. It can transform your photograph by defining textures and shapes and even changing the focal point.
Still life photography in black and white provides great opportunities. Just keep it simple; start with objects you are familiar with. Experiment with whatever light and textures and equipment you have on-hand.
Push the boundaries with your black and white still life photography, and don’t be afraid to get a bit arty!