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When to Trick Your Camera to get a Good Exposure

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I bought the Sony A7 camera recently and have been taking it out quite a bit to get a feel for it.

My wife is starting a fashion blog so I thought I would take her out for a fashion shoot at the beach. I was shooting a high-contrast scene and realized. . .

The camera doesn’t always know what’s best

Your camera always has the best intentions, but it doesn’t always get it right. Sometimes the sensor will think you want to expose a scene one way when you actually want it to expose it another.

I’ll show you an example. I put the camera on aperture priority and shot this:

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To most people, this image would be considered underexposed because the model is dark. This happens because the scene has a lot of contrast. In other words, there is a lot of bright pixels (the sky) and a lot of dark pixels (the rocks, ground, and model).

Why doesn’t the camera always get the exposure correct?

The camera sensor is trying to create an average of dark pixels to light pixels. The histogram shows the dark pixels on the left of the graph and the bright pixels on the right.

A “properly exposed” photo means the balance between the blacks and whites is mostly even. The graph isn’t pushed into the left wall which would be very underexposed, or pushed into the right wall which would be very overexposed. The problem is that to expose properly for the model we need more bright pixels, we need to increase the exposure. Sometimes you will need to trick the camera to get a good exposure.

Using exposure compensation

Sometimes you just need a little bit more or a little bit less. In this case I had the ISO and the aperture exactly where I wanted them. I had my camera set up so the front dial controls the exposure compensation.

In this case, exposure compensation is set up to slightly change the shutter speed to either increase or decrease the exposure. I twisted the exposure compensation dial until the image looked good which was a shutter speed of 1/200.

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This looks much better. The model is properly exposed now but the sky is now overexposed. Because the sky is now white, you can see the histogram is pushed to the far right.

This typically means the image is overexposed but in this case it’s simply because the sky has a lot of white pixels in it that register on the right of the histogram. Let’s see it in another example:

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I just used the exposure compensation to bump up the exposure again so the model was properly exposed and the sky was overexposed in the image on the right.

This happens a lot when subjects are backlit

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When you shoot with the sun behind your subject, the camera will sometimes struggle to decide whether to properly expose the background or the subject. The camera is trying to figure out which one you want exposed.

If you are shooting for a silhouette you can underexpose the subject to create a dark outline of their figure. If you want to properly expose the subject you will overexpose the background in high contrast light.

Decisions, decisions

Ultimately it’s up to you how you would like the image to look. I like the high-key look of some of these images. The final touch once you have the light and exposure the way you like it is to edit the image.

Here is one of my favorite photos straight out of camera:

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I used one of the 1-Click Hacking Photography Lightroom presets in the Old School Color set called “Warm Film” and came up with this final image:

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Overall it was a good shoot on the beach with my wife, I had fun running more tests on the Sony A7, and created some great images in the making!

The post When to Trick Your Camera to get a Good Exposure by Mike Newton appeared first on Digital Photography School.


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Spitsbergen: The Pack Ice Voyage 2014 Trip Report, Part I by Joe Van Os

I never get tired of traveling to Spitsbergen. It is among what I consider to be the Top 10 best photo trips in the world! The wildlife and scenery on this photography voyage are always spectacular and there is always some big surprise to be discovered during the cruise. So it was [...]
Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris Blog

How To Photograph Shy Adults

Some people are not as comfortable in front of the camera as others. Perhaps they are shy, or perhaps they believe they have physical “imperfections”, so they aren’t at ease when it comes to having their photo taken. (I put quotes around that term because often these are not imperfections at all, but rather, beautiful parts of their body that they over-think.)

Unless they are a professional model, most people fall into this category to some degree. If they don’t feel comfortable, it will show in the photos. Luckily, there are things you can do that may help.

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Give your subject something to do

Holding a pose will often garner an awkward expression. Thus, photograph them as they move. People are much more comfortable when they are in motion, than when they are still.

They don’t have to do anything overly complicated. The movements can be subtle, like looking up from a head-down position or fixing something, like part of their clothes.

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Do your social psychology homework

Photographing people is part technical and part psychology.

For most people, you cannot start shooting the second your subject arrives and expect them to look natural, so communicate with them before the shoot if they are shy or concerned. Children aren’t the only ones who need time to warm up!

Make sure your subjects know how the shoot will go and what they need to do to prepare for it. If they are concerned about something, address it as quickly as possible. The longer a concern goes unresolved, the more it will grow.

Perhaps they have a scar on their arm they feel self-conscious about. Once you know that, you can address it, like letting them know you will try your best to avoid shooting it. Maybe they aren’t sure what to wear that will flatter their curvy body, so you can give them clothing suggestions or reassure them that you will use certain angles and lighting to accommodate this. Or maybe they are just plain shy, in which case, you want to make sure you talk to them! Let them know a little about you. Talk about common interests.

Making your subjects feel at ease is a very important and integral part of portrait photography.

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Avoid silence

When you have a shy or uncertain subject, being silent for a length of time can be unnerving for them.

Talk to them during the shoot, but be careful not to bark orders at them (ie. “Sit there, look here, put your hand like this, move your body like that!”) because that will achieve the opposite of what you want.

Rather, tell them what they are doing right, so they know to keep doing that, and explain what you are doing before you do it.

The entire shoot doesn’t have to be instructional or too commentated, but a little bit of talking will make your subject feel more confident and “safe”. With these feelings, personalities and natural expressions will surface.

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If you are photographing children, you’ll want to read: How to Photograph Shy Children as well.

Do you have any other tips for working with people? Please share in the comments below.

The post How To Photograph Shy Adults by Annie Tao appeared first on Digital Photography School.


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5 Ways to Create Better Images Without Buying More Gear

You are a photographer. You love getting out there and doing your best to create great images. Photographers also love something else. Camera equipment. Sometimes you may find that you spend more time searching for a new lens, filter or accessory than actually photographing with it. When you meet other photographers you will hear them talking about the latest piece of equipment that has just launched.

Why is this? Why are some photographers obsessed with equipment. My personal opinion is that we fall into the marketing trap. Sometimes we really do think that a new lens, or new camera body, will improve our images simply because it is a better piece of equipment. That might be true, but it’s only half true. A new lens might make your images a little sharper or have better bokeh, but the best way to get better images is to improve your ability as a photographer. Here are some thoughts that may help you create better images.

The key ingredient in any image is light

The key ingredient in any image is light

1. Become a light snob

Light is the key to every image you make. If you want a good image, shoot in good light, if you want a dramatic image, shoot in dramatic light. There really is no such thing as bad light, there is simply better light for creating images.

Light is the all important component of great photography. You may feel that shooting in the middle of the day is best because it is bright, and all the light you need is in that shot. Yes, there may be lots of light, but there is also a lot of contrast (bright highlights and dark shadows). The resulting shot may be unappealing because the light is flat or uninteresting.

How do you overcome this tendency to photograph at any time? Become a light snob. What does that mean? I mean in a good way, try this next time you go out with your camera. Make a point of shooting in the golden hours. Think about the light you are shooting in, go out in the early morning or early evening. Choose your subject carefully, compose your scene purposefully and shoot it with intention. Don’t shoot the same scene twice, work with the light, make sure you think about the exposure, try your best to get the shot and walk away from the scene. Make sure you expose for the light the results will speak for themselves.

2. Become more flexible – in more ways than one

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How often do you photograph from your standing height and mostly in landscape orientation? I know I do, it is natural to do that, we shoot they way we feel comfortable. Change this up a little. Look for unusual angles and vantage points. We have all seen the photographs of children looking up at the camera. Change that, kneel down or even lie down in front of a child you are photographing. Turn your camera to portrait orientation, that changes the scene immediately. If you are photographing a street scene, maybe get to a higher vantage point on a balcony. If you are in a city, shoot straight up! The key thing here is, change your viewing angle and you will change the view of your image. You will give your viewers a unique perspective on a familiar topic and that can make for some very dramatic images.

A unique point of view can make for dramatic images

A unique point of view can make for dramatic images

3. Time it right

You have probably heard this about many things, particularly sports:  “its all about the timing”. This is true in certain genres of photography too. In street photography, timing can be crucial to making or breaking the image. The famed street photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson spoke about “The Decisive Moment”. What he was saying was this, if you take the shot a moment too soon, the scene has not yet unfolded, if you are a moment too late, the scene has passed, you have to release the shutter at the precise moment.

This is not easy to get right. It requires lots of practice and the ability to sense or anticipate what will happen next. With practice you will get better and better, and in time, you will find that you will “time” the shot better. When is the right moment? It is different for every photographer and every photograph. It might be the moment before a smile, or the moment the first tear appears, the moment of surprise or elation. Each moment is different and each photographer will shoot it differently. You will know when you get that moment captured because the image will be memorable. The moment will come, but you have to be ready and you may have to be patient.

Photographing fireworks is often about timing.

Photographing fireworks is often about timing.

4. Get your exposure right

We all know this one, it’s an old one, but exposure is all important. How do you affect exposure? You take control of your aperture and your shutter speed. This alone is a topic for another article, but what is important is that you, as the photographer, need to take control of your image exposure and not let the camera do that. If you still shoot on Auto and hope for the best, now might be a good time to start venturing into the world of shooting on manual or even aperture priority. Learning how the aperture and shutter speed affect your images will help you make stronger images in just about any light. This is what makes the difference between a good image and a spectacular image, the exposure.

Mastering exposure will make a big difference in your images

Mastering exposure will make a big difference in your images

5. Use what you have

You have a great camera, seriously, you do! If your camera is less than five years old, it is perfect for taking astounding images. A new camera body will take pictures with more megapixels or better noise reduction, but I am pretty sure, in fact I am CERTAIN, that you can get some amazing images on your current camera. One key element in getting great images is choosing the right lens for the scene. The lens is the eye to the camera. If you are going to invest in any equipment, save up and buy good lenses. Buy some prime lenses and see the results.

First though, use the current lenses you have, make sure you know how each lens affects a scene. A wide angle lens has the effect of making everything in the scene seem far away and spread out, a telephoto lens (say a 200mm) has the effect of compressing everything in the scene (bringing the elements closer together). If you were to photograph a mountain scene with a wide angle lens and switch to a long (or telephoto) lens and shoot the same scene, the elements in that scene would look really different. The perspective and viewing angle changes on each lens, so make sure that you use your lenses and understand the effect that they have on your scene.

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Putting it all together

By using these techniques with light, composition, timing, exposure and current equipment, your images will improve. You need to practice, constantly. Keep pushing the boundaries, do the weekly challenges that dPS puts out, try different techniques. Only buy new equipment if your current setup is limiting your photography. The best way to create better images is by practicing and spending hours and hours behind the camera.

I heard a story that a professional golfer who was one of the top three golfers in the world used a very unique way of practicing. Before playing a golf course in an upcoming tournament, he would book the whole course for a week. He would then take 300 golf balls and set up on the first tee. He would tee off from there, hitting each ball from that tee. He would then play each ball from where it landed. He did this on every hole of the golf course. By the end of the week he knew every inch of that course and he knew exactly which clubs he could use from where on the course. Try this in photography. Shoot 100 shots on aperture priority or shoot 100 shots with your 50mm only. Don’t change lenses until you have 100 shots with that lens. Then move to your next lens and do the same. Try each lens with different subject, use a 500mm and shoot some sports, landscapes and macro photos. Mix it up, but learn how that lens works and learn how your camera works and pretty soon, you will be making great images with all your equipment and that shiny new camera will not seem so tempting!

Look for the light, work with the scene and practice, practice, practice.

Look for the light, work with the scene and practice, practice, practice.

I will end off with a quote from the actor Will Smith, which sums it up in a good way:  “The separation of talent and skill is one of the greatest misunderstood concepts for people who are trying to excel, who have dreams, who want to do things. Talent you have naturally. Skill is only developed by hours and hours and hours of beating on your craft.” – True enough!

Have you put in the hours? Do you have any other additional tips? Please share in the comments section below.

The post 5 Ways to Create Better Images Without Buying More Gear by Barry J Brady appeared first on Digital Photography School.


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Four Reasons to Display Photos of Your Children

As parents and photographers, we take thousands and thousands of photos of our children every year. Looking at my Lightroom catalogue from last year, I have over 3000 photos of the kids, and that doesn’t include all the pictures I took with my phone camera!

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In our house, the camera is always out. I take pictures of them throughout the day, no matter what they’re doing. The kids know the camera is a part of our lives, and they don’t act differently when they see me taking pictures of them, as some adults would.

I’m a big believer that photos are too precious to live on computers. Hard drives fail and images can get lost so your best insurance is having the tangible photo right in front of you. Twice a year I go through thousands of our photos to print a few for display, I recommend you do this also.

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In our house, we use photos as home decor. We have a couple large collections of photos throughout the house, smaller prints displayed everywhere, as well as photobooks alongside the framed photos.

These photos really are a gift because it helps us remember how much we are loved, and it reminds us how blessed we are to have each other. There are times when I have had a bad day and seeing a photo of us laughing and hugging each other reset my mind and helped me remember what is most important.

Aside from these reasons, here are four other reasons why you as parents (or grandparents) should display photos of your kids.

Self-Esteem

It is amazing to see what a boost of confidence and self-esteem comes to the child whose parents display a lot of photographs of them around the home. Your children understand that you have taken the time to hang, frame, and display their photos, and it makes them understand that you value them, find them to be beautiful, and want to see them each day.

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Memories

In the hectic pace of modern family life we can forget what kids looked like only a year earlier. Images not only give us a glimpse into the past, but they can also bring us back to the moment in an instant. Remember how proud you felt when your child was a newborn and how perfectly they fit in your arms? Photos bring you back to those feelings when the photos were made.

Forgotten

How often do you scroll through your phone’s photo roll or look at the folders full of images on your hard drive? Hard drives could fail and images could be forever lost. Why lose out on the opportunity to put all of those smiling faces on your walls? You have a museum full of gorgeous artwork just waiting to be printed.

Sharing

When you print out and display these images in your home it opens a dialogue and creates a habit of sharing memories. Kids may not look at certain photos for a long time, and then suddenly lean in and remember something important. When some of these photos were taken during the best moments of your lives, it is worth reliving and remembering.

I could go on with the list, but these are the reasons I continually hang new photos on the walls and update my displays. Do you have others? Do you display your photos in your home?

Other related articles:

  • How to Create a Family Photo Essay
  • Click! How to take gorgeous photos of your kids – a dPS ebook
  • How to photograph children {and other stuff} indoors


Editor’s challenge: this is something I feel strongly about as well, so I challenge you. If you have not got any printed photos of your own family around your house – do it now. Go select a few, order the prints, and get them framed. Or make a photo book. Or both! Involve your kids in helping select the images, make it a family project. Then take a photo of your newly hanging family artwork and share it with us here in the comments.

The post Four Reasons to Display Photos of Your Children by Amy Lee appeared first on Digital Photography School.


Digital Photography School

Weekly Photography Challenge Things at the Beach

Earlier today I shared a bunch of jaw-dropping images of beaches. As you may have guessed, this week’s photography challenge is one in the same.

Even if you aren’t near the ocean you can get out and find a body of water somewhere near you – perhaps a lake, pond, stream or even the reflecting pool at your local town hall. The idea is to get out and photograph the stuff near the water including:

  • the beach and the sand
  • pathways
  • reflections
  • clouds and sky
  • rocks
  • silhouettes of people against the sun or sunset
  • marine life in tidal pools
  • the local flora or vegetation
  • go wide, and go closer and do some macro photography

You get the idea. Need some more examples?

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By C/N N/G

By Pete

By Dan Queiroz

By Mike Pratt

By Peter Gorges

By John Turnbull

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By Moyan Brenn

Show use your things at the beach

Simply upload your shot into the comment field (look for the little camera icon in the Disqus comments section as pictured below) and they’ll get embedded for us all to see or if you’d prefer upload them to your favourite photo sharing site and leave the link to them. Okay, ready to impress us?

The post Weekly Photography Challenge Things at the Beach by Darlene Hildebrandt appeared first on Digital Photography School.


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4 Ways Self-Critique Can Improve Your Photography

Self-Critique-PhotoLearning how to analyze and judge your own artistic work correctly is a valuable skill that can be a bit tricky to learn properly. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “I’m my own worst critic” thrown about, you may have even said it yourself in reference to your own photography. However, there are ways that you can harness this self-criticism and learn from it rather than allowing it to consume you and destroy your self-confidence.

Learning how to constructively critique your own photography can not only help you make better photographs each time you pick up a camera, but it will also build your confidence as a photographer, and prepare you for the inevitable critiques from your peers and colleagues.

This article is a bit different in the sense that the images that I’ve used to illustrate the post showcase one particular case of how I used self-critique to iterate a photograph over the course of a shoot. I will cover the benefits of self-critique and how it can help you become a more confident photographer – so read both the article and the captions of each photograph as you continue along.

#1 Reinforces your knowledge of the craft

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After looking at what I’d captured here on the LCD of my camera I decided that the prominent features of this landscape wasn’t the sky or the foreground, but the large boulder along the right side of the frame.

You read eBooks and tutorials to learn all the technical skill required to make stunning photographs, but in the heat of the moment technique will often slip, especially when you’re just learning. That’s okay, but it’s important to learn how to notice when this is happening and correct for it along the way.

Providing yourself with a thoughtful self-critique from time to time can really help you locate the most common faults in your photography. After performing a few of these critiques you may notice that you commonly forget to double check your settings leading to poorly exposed photographs or improper Depth of Field, or you may notice that you commonly struggle to compose a photograph with purpose resulting in a photograph that doesn’t capture the emotion that you had intended.

#2 Teaches you how to look at a photograph critically

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A second setup left me with a feeling that I was on the right track, but now the scene felt too cluttered and confined.

The ability to articulate what it is about a photograph that makes it special and what needs improvement, as specifically as possible, can drastically improve your photography. This is something that is learned over time and can be difficult at first, especially when looking at your own work.

Eventually, you’ll get to the point where this sort of critical analysis will come naturally. You’ll find yourself fine-tuning your composition and settings in the field, as I’ve done with the photographs that illustrate this point. You probably won’t even be consciously aware of the fact that you’re doing this.

#3 Helps build your confidence

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Now, I had the composition that I wanted. Something that featured the boulder prominently, yet allowed there to be enough room to breath in the foreground., but the water just wasn’t right. Time to adjust the settings to allow for a longer shutter speed.

No one enjoys being told what’s ‘wrong’ with something that they’ve created, but it’s going to happen, whether you ask for it or not. Even the best photographers have their critics so it’s not a matter of skill, it’s simply the way the world works.

By finding the ability to critique your own photography you’ll have an idea of what people might say when they are viewing your work, and as a result, you’ll be more prepared to defend the choices you made to create the image.

#4 You’ll become better at offering advice to others

While this might not directly affect your skill as a photographer, it does help to reinforce the other three points listed above. When you are able to offer constructive feedback to someone who’s just starting out you’ll not only feel great by helping them improve, but you’ll be more confident going forward with your own work at the same time.

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The longer exposure sealed the deal for me creating that milky water effect around the base of the boulder that I was featuring in the shot.

The post 4 Ways Self-Critique Can Improve Your Photography by John Davenport appeared first on Digital Photography School.


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A Different Kind of Photo Tour to Israel with Vibe Israel

I was recently invited on a photo tour called Vibe Israel by a non-profit organization called Kinetis, I wanted to share my experiences of the trip with you.

Who are Kinetis?

Six of us were on this tour of Israel, a tour to show what Israel has to offer to photographers, to show a different side to Israel compared with the one you might typically see in the news. The different styles and personalities of the six photographers on the tour made for a fantastically fun and inspirational few days.

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Heading down to the Dead Sea with the crew

Travelling with the specific purpose of photography can be a daunting thing, especially with the ever present fear of having your precious camera gear gate checked when you’re about to embark your flight. Is my bag overweight? Will ground crew single me out? Do I look like I’m struggling with this bag? All of these things play through my mind on every flight I’m about to catch, sometimes even when I’m not travelling with a heavy bag! I’ve been very fortunate thus far to have not been stopped for a heavy, or overly large, camera bag at the gate and this trip was no different (although I did have my backpack sent through the Xray machine four times).

I was travelling with a MindShiftGear Panorama camera backpack, the beauty of the Panorama is that you can use both the belt section and the top insert section to put your gear – if you get stopped and asked to gate check your bag, you can pretty much break it down into sections and nine times out of ten you’ll get it through, onboard with your camera gear. The few basic pointers for trying to get you and your camera onboard that I quietly recite to myself every flight are:

  • Smile, but not so much that people think you’re up to something
  • Don’t carry your bag like it’s about to rip your arms off – if it is, you should perhaps rethink anyway
  • Have a plan to take your heaviest camera and heaviest lens out of your bag and hang it around your neck if asked to gate check due to weight – a camera, 99% of the time, will become a personal item and won’t be included in the bag weight
  • Be polite – ground crew have a job to do, so don’t go off at them, it won’t help – I promise you this
  • Insurance really is a good thing! (I’m insured with PPiB if you’re in Australia / were interested)

There’s a lot to be said for only packing what you’re going to need – will I need to take a 100mm macro lens to Israel? Will I use my 5.8mm fisheye? As it happens, I used both of those lenses and I’m glad I packed most of my gear, but I did use a two bag strategy/ Doug Murdoch, president of thinkTankPhoto camera bags writes about it on his blog, a quick interesting read. I had a small laptop bag with my Apple MacBook Air 13″, a WD My Passport Pro 2TB drive for content and all the cables, pens, paper, passports, tickets, etc. Then my camera backpack and my roller bag with my tripod, clothes and another flattened out camera shoulder bag (for short wanders down through markets where I didn’t want to take a backpack) and this combo proved to work really well for me.

So we’re packed, we’re flying, we’re there. I’ve been to Israel once before and was very excited to go back. Arriving into Tel Aviv quite late, then driven to Jerusalem to meet up with the others, we stayed at this great place called Abraham Hostel on the first night (if you’re travelling on a budget, it’s a great place to stay) before travelling across to the hotel we were all meeting at, Dan Boutique Hotel. Thankfully they were totally fine with us setting up Ben’s Broncolor and blasting away on the roof!

On the roof playing with light...

On the roof playing with light…

A quick introduction to the people on the tour: Adam Lerner, Mike Kelley, Rebecca Litchfield, Benjamin Von Wong, Jared Polin and Simon Pollock (me – Hi!). Mike isn’t in the photo above as he likes to go to bed at 8 p.m. every night hehe. The next day, after a tour of the old markets and surrounding area in the old city of Jerusalem, we headed for the Dead Sea, each of us with different ideas for what we wanted to do when we arrived there – fashion, portraits, landscape, it was set to be an epic adventure.

Church of the Holy Sepulchre at 16mm

Church of the Holy Sepulchre at 16mm

Arriving at Ein Gedi, the rain was starting to set in and with a call time of around 4 a.m., it was pretty much a quick dinner and directly to bed – poor Eyal had to put up with my snoring, sorry Eyal! The rain hadn’t stopped the next morning, and we were told that with the Dead Sea clouded in, it was something people rarely get to see. As it turned out, the road was washed away in a couple of places and we had a pretty hard time getting the models, stylists and hair and makeup folks into the area of the Dead Sea that we were using for the shoot – thanks to some handy local wrangling and a police vehicle, we were all set to go once the weather cleared, and clear it did. Here’s a setup shot and a few photographs from the shoot day at Ein Gedi.

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To give you an idea of where we were…

I was very fortunate to essentially have my own personal guide from epic photo tour company, PhotoTeva which was fantastic as I’m certainly no landscape photographer, but had an amazing time taking in the amazing scenery unfolding before me.

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The storm rolled through…

Protecting your gear and keeping it off the deck was pretty important. The water is ultra salty (1/3rd salt, someone was saying) and the ground we were on was all salt – very sharp salt (see, I used the macro lens).

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The salty residue was super sharp and happy to cut you up!

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Anything that didn’t move fast enough was essentially ‘salted’

We only had a day at the Dead Sea and were supposed to head out into the desert to stay together in a big tent. The weather had other ideas and we all piled in the super bus and headed back to Tel Aviv for an impromptu camp out on our new friend, Adi’s floor. A highlight of the trip – impromptu awesome. When you’re travelling on a holiday, and things don’t go to plan, you do your best to make the best of the situation that you’re placed in – this was certainly the case and we had a fantastic evening before checking in to The Diaghilev Live Art Boutique Hotel (which I highly recommend if you’re travelling to Tel Aviv).

The next couple of days were filled with amazing food, adventures and people – rather than bore you with my musings, I’ll tell this part of the adventure in photographs.

Jared, Adam and I visited a fish market where the fish come off the boats and are snapped up by people waiting on the dock.

Adam Lerner, a portrait...

Adam Lerner, a portrait…

The fish market...

The fish market…

We managed a little beach time and happened across a great drum circle!

A Tel Aviv beach...

A Tel Aviv beach…

Addicted to drums...

Addicted to drums…

Von Wong takes flight...

Von Wong takes flight…

Fro Knows...

Fro Knows…

The fish market...

The fish market…

With only a day or two left to run, we had a load more to pack into our schedule, a visit to Israeli photojournalist and Canon Ambassador, Ziv Koren. We spent some time talking to Itzik Canetti, who has developed a nifty laser focus system for photographers, and we were hosted by Wix on our last evening, for drinks on the roof of their building – stunning.

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That was essentially the tour

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The point of the photo tour was for us to see a different side of Israel, a creative and vibrant side – and that was exactly what we saw. Lots of tech startup, lots of art and culture, some great coffee and amazing food. If you’re thinking about going somewhere on a photo tour, I’d certainly put Israel on your list! Big thanks to Kinetis and the whole team that made this trip possible. You can learn more about the not for profit work that Kinetis do on their website.

The post A Different Kind of Photo Tour to Israel with Vibe Israel by Sime appeared first on Digital Photography School.


Digital Photography School

36 of the Best Online Tools to Boost Your Photography Business

As a beginner photographer, I put most of my time and energy into the product side of my business. I need to practice, improve my shooting and post processing skills, and just grow as a photographer. However, I have a strong intention to make photography my full-time job and be successful in it, which is hardly possible without a business strategy. Besides, with over five years of experience in social media and content marketing, I know for sure that establishing a sound online presence and effective marketing channels may not show you the money today, but it will shape your business in the long run.

35 photography marketing tools

In this article, I’m sharing the results of my recent research on the online marketing and workflow organizing tools for photographers. I use some of these services on a daily basis; others are carefully stored in my bookmarks, eagerly waiting for the moment to come in handy. Each tool category includes several noteworthy options (both big players and lesser known tools), so that you can use this article as a catalog to refer to in your marketing pursuits.

Photography Website Builders

1. MotoCMS

Since I was looking for a self-hosted solution with no additional costs for the tools I don’t need just yet, this one worked perfectly for me. For $ 139, I got a modern website template based on the quite powerful MotoCMS. Among the key features are advanced drag-and-drop website editor, SEO & social media tools, e-commerce widget, etc.

2. Squarespace

Squarespace offers 25 modern-looking templates with e-commerce integration, custom domains (no self-hosting, though), mobile-ready websites and support. There’s no free plan, but prices start from $ 8 per month, and you have 14 days to give it a try for free.

5. Portfoliobox

There’s a free account option allowing you to select a clean template and fill it with up to 40 images. A $ 6.90/month Pro plan (paid yearly) with Portolfiobox includes more design and marketing options, as well as a custom domain name and email.

6. Wix

The free plan includes a wide gallery of templates, unlimited pages and hosting. Premium plans start from $ 4.08/month, but your website will carry Wix brand ads both on desktop and mobile.

7. Pixpa

Pixpa offers hosted portfolios with private galleries, ec-ommerce with Fotomoto, custom domains, social media sharing and other features. All-inclusive plans start from $ 4.00/month (billed annually) with a 50% discount available for students.

8. Portfolio Lounge

A custom domain is included in Portfolio Lounge’s free plan, which is nice! Upgrading to the Pro ($ 7.99/month) and Max ($ 16.99/month) will get you extra storage space. This is quite a simple service with no pricing gimmicks and overwhelming feature sets.

9. Folio Websites

Folio Websites templates are based on WordPress, which is quite a benefit these days. There’s just one plan available – $ 175/year, and your decision to sign up may only be based on examples and promises since there’s no trial period offered.

10. Carbonmade

Carbonmade is a kinda hipster among portfolio builders – its design is funky, the words are fun, and the service is on trend. Opting in for the free “Meh” plan, you get a 35-image portfolio on the carbonmade.com domain. Upgrade to the $ 12/month “Whoo!” plan, and you get 500 images and 10 video slots, domain binding, ad-free site, private projects and tech support.

10b. Zenfolio (added by the Editor)

Editor’s note: I personally use Zenfolio for my portfolio, and have for several years. The benefits of choosing something like Zenfolio over just a portfolio site is that they also offer a way to sell your images, preview them for clients, have locked or private galleries and even a blog element. Their Basic Plan is only $ 30/year but if you want unlimited uploads, and the ability to price your own work go for the Premium at $ 140/year. This can also act as you backup as well with unlimited storage of images. They do offer a free trial.

By DAVID MELCHOR DIAZ

Have you ever wondered why crappy photographers do better than you? It’s because they know that both creative and business sides of photography are critical for success.

Cloud Storage and Media Library

11. Flickr

With a colossal 1TB of free storage on the table, Flickr remains a first-class service for photographers of all levels. I’m using it to store my photos, too. However, I really hope their sluggish interface will be updated very soon.

12. Streamnation

Streamnation supports a pile of photo file formats, including RAW and C2R – a feature any photographer would appreciate. 20GB of storage is free. The price varies from $ 4/month for 100GB to $ 19/month for unlimited space biled annually.

13. Dropbox

While Dropbox’s experience for photographers still feels half-baked, it’s definitely a solution to consider since, unlike your average cloud hosting startup, the established service provides welcome peace of mind.

14. Google+

You can store up to 15GB in Google+ Photos, Gmail, and Google Drive for free and then pay for additional storage (up to 16TB) as your account grows. A neat thing about Google’s offer is that, unless your photos exceed 2,048 pixels by width, Google won’t count them against your total amount of available space.

15. Crashplan

A neat feature about Crashplan is that you can recover a deleted file no matter how much time has passed. Prices for unlimited online backup to the Crashplan cloud start at $ 5/month with annual billing.

16. Zoolz

Unlike most cloud hosting services, Zoolz is a long-term storage unit designed for storing your data on the cloud for a lifetime. With a 5-year subscription you can have your photos reside on reliable Amazon AWS servers for as low as $ 2/month.

16b. Zenfolio

Editor’s note: see above for Zenfolio info under the website section, also works for image backup.

By Anca Mosoiu

Image Proofing and Selling Prints

17. Pixieset

Pixieset is my number one tool to create beautiful client galleries. It has all the key features to help you deliver, proof, and sell your work (unlimited galleries, proofing system, instant download, password protection, audio, just to name a few). The best part is that all this is available in their free plan. If you’d like more space and a custom domain, you can upgrade your plan (prices range from $ 8/month for 10GB to $ 40/month for 1TB).

18. Nextproof

Nextproof a pay-as-you-go service with a $ 0 plan (1GB of space and a 15% transaction fee) on the table and a free 30-day trial available for every paid plan (ranging from $ 9-99/month).

19. OnlinePictureProof

There’s a single, $ 29/month plan you can buy. Among the key features are slideshows, mobile app and a shopping cart. Online Picture Proof is a simple yet professional picture proofing and sales solution.

20. ProofBuddy

If your website runs on the WordPress platform, you can make use of this free WP plugin, ProofBuddy, to activate a fully-functional proofing system built to show your proofs and accept orders from clients.

21. ShootProof

With ShootProof, you can create public or private galleries that work equally well on desktop and mobile devices. The great feature is that each visitor’s activity is displayed in detail to you. ShootProof has a flexible payment plan (commission-free $ 10-50/month) as well as a free plan allowing up to 100 uploads.

20b. Zenfolio

Editor’s note: see above for Zenfolio info under the website section, also works for image proofing and sales.

By zizzybaloobah

Scheduling

22. Setmore

Getting started with Setmore is very easy thanks to a clean, intuitive interface and wizard-like design. Standard features are free to use and include unlimited appointments, services and customers, as well as the ability to add up to 20 staff members to your account. Upgrading to $ 25/month brings you to the premium level with Google Calendar sync, unlimited SMS (text) reminders and recurring appointments.

23. Ubooq

Ubooq makes it easy for clients to schedule an appointment with an easy-to-use, online reception page. Appointment ticket and reminders help avoid no-shows. You can schedule up to 30 appointments in Ubooq for free, and then, if you like it, pick a plan that suits your needs. There is a 5-grade plan system, with prices starting at $ 19 for the monthly service.

24. BookedIn

A pretty cool feature in BookedIn, that I didn’t see on similar services, is that you can add a booking app to your Facebook timeline. Payment plans include a pay-as-you-go model (you purchase a block of booking for 50 cents each) and a monthly plan costing $ 20/month. You can try out the complete set of features for free during 30 days.

Note: other free options: Calendly and TimeTrade (also have a paid version for more appointments)

By keso s

CRM (Customer Relationship Management) System

25. Simply Studio

For $ 29/month (billed annually) with Simply Studio you get a full-fledged, web-based CRM system with client-money task management, accounting, invoicing and bookkeeping, online proofing, polls and email marketing. All features are included in a free trial version available for 15 days. My workflow of a newbie obviously does not require such software yet, but I surely love the features-price ratio of Simply Studio, as well as the simplicity of its interface. So Simply Studio is already in my bookmarks waiting for my photography business to grow and call for it.

26. StudioCloud

StudioCloud is free desktop software for photography studios. Standard features include cloud syncing, a client database, scheduling, billing, order management and other business-management tools. While the basic functionality (which is quite rich, though), is free to download, some extra tools, such as multiple users, online proofing and automatic client reminders, will cost you between $ 10-60 per month.

27. ShootQ

ShootQ offers the most comprehensive list of management tools, which naturally reflects in pricing. There are three all-inclusive and monthly plans to choose from, and prices range from $ 39.95 to $ 79.95 depending on the desired number of users, pages and amount of storage.

Organization and Automation

28. IFTTT

This brilliant service saves me lots of time for shooting. Using IFTTT’s straight-forward formula, you can automate a variety of tasks, such as tweeting your new blog posts or notifying you of the latest dPS posts.

29. Buffer

A dead simple, yet useful tool, to schedule your social media posts. If you’re a heavy social network user, Hootsuite might work for you better, but if you just don’t want your Twitter and Facebook get dusty while you’re on vacation, Buffer has you covered.

30. Nutcache

Nutcache enables you to easily create unlimited number of invoices, do estimates, and track time. Great tool to operate your photo business in the cloud. It’s also multilingual.

By Staffan Scherz

You won’t believe how many tasks you can manage with some organization and system put in the process.

Mobile Client Galleries

31. Myphotoapp

Myphotoapp boasts the widest library of tools among mobile photo gallery builders. Client email collection, integration with MailChimp and advanced app analytics are some really neat features that make this service my number one choice. I hope, though, the usability of the administrative panel will be soon revised towards a simpler and more intuitive interface.

32. StickyAlbums

Create mobile photo apps that your clients can save on their iPhones, iPads and most Android devices using Sticky Albums. Features include custom branding, built-in Facebook sharing, password protected albums, photo album hosting and sharing via SMS. Prices start at $ 19/month with a free, 14-day trial available.

33. ProImageShare

If you’re a Lightroom diehard, it’s an easy winner here. ProImageShare lets you publish and host your own web app that can be downloaded on iOS devices with the appearance of a custom app. With a one-time payment of $ 69, you can publish as many apps as you want to your own unlimited, shared-web host.

Photograph Rings on her toes by Vanessa Kay on 500px

Rings on her toes by Vanessa Kay on 500px

Brides will definitely appreciate a custom app with their wedding pictures. Expect referrals to come your way!

Multi-platforms and Services

34. Photoshelter

I bet you’ve heard about Photoshelter, as it’s one of the industry’s “big dawgs”. Portfolio websites, integrated e-commerce, cloud storage and client-proofing system are the tools you can find under this shelter. Prices vary from $ 9.99/month for the basic feature set, to $ 49.99/month for the premium toolbox.

35. Zenfolio

Zenfolio is another giant in the field of digital marketing for photographers. The number of features here is impressive, too. One of the recently added ones is Photo Books (order and sell). Prices start from $ 30/year with a free, 14-day trial on hand.

36. Queensberry Workspace

Built around Quensberry’s range of print products, Workspace enables you to create, organize, and market your online presence, as well as order and sell photo books, albums, frames, etc. Its basic version is available for free and you can upgrade from $ 4 monthly.

Editor’s note: once upon a time I was a consultant for Queensberry Albums (for 9 years) and I can attest to their dedication to quality albums, products and software. They also make Photojunction, a powerful album design tool.

Another biggie in this area is SmugMug. Slightly more than Zenfolio with many of the same features.

Last Click

Defrozo

I didn’t include Defrozo on the round-up because currently it’s a private beta, but the features listed on the “coming soon” page make it so worth mentioning.

Website builder, Media Library, Image Delivery and Proofing, Scheduling, E-commerce, CRM system, and Websites for Clients make the initial toolbox Defrozo is going to deliver from the start. Moreover, photo book design tools and retouch services are scheduled to be added to the products’ following updates. How do I know that? Well, I subscribed for early access and received an invitation from the Defrozo team to join the focus group of photographers from 30 countries worldwide. I recommend that you sign up, too, since a new player on the market will likely offer something extraordinary to attract users. There are good chances that it’s gonna be a freemium or at least offer extra benefits to early adopters.

By Pascal

Defrozo seems to have a potential to be the ultimate weapon for your business to reach zen.

What’s in your digital toolbox?

I hope my research will come in handy, and I’m sure there are a lot of other tools and services worth mentioning here that I missed. What do you use to manage your photography workflow and business? Is there any all-in-one tool out there you could recommend? Please share your suggestions and experience in the comments below.

The post 36 of the Best Online Tools to Boost Your Photography Business by Julia May appeared first on Digital Photography School.


Digital Photography School

Using Depth of Field and Perspective for Better Composition

We all know this problem. You take a picture of a beautiful scene but it just doesn’t turn out the way you want. Something is missing. It usually isn’t a matter of your camera or the settings you are applying. But what is it then? The question at hand is how do you get from a snapshot to an interesting, unique, and well composed photograph.

To answer this, we have to move away from the technical aspects and go more into the creative and artistic aspects of photography. You might say that this is a very subjective matter and that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but there are a few building blocks that will help to improve your photography and also develop your own unique visual language.

Depth of field for a more three-dimensional Look

An important aspect of photography is that we want to capture a three-dimensional reality by taking a two-dimensional image. When we are out in the field, our eyes in collaboration with our brain create very complex images within split seconds. The most important factor in this context is that our eyes are constantly moving while focusing on different subjects. The focal plane is shifting with a subject in focus and everything in front or behind appearing to be blurred. This “Depth of Field” is one the most important techniques we can utilize to simulate depth and three-dimensionality.

Begginner photography tips 06

Utilizing depth of field to create a more three-dimensional look

In order to play with depth of field, we need a scene with a defined foreground and a background. Whereas the background is usually a given, a lot of images lack foreground which makes an image appear flat and boring. Choosing a defined foreground will enable us to actively compose an image and become creative.

Once you have chosen a background and a foreground you like (ideally both complementing each other), you have to find the right position for you and your camera in order to combine both for an appealing overall image. To find the right position, you should try different angles, move around, get low to the ground and don’t solely rely on your zoom. By using a large aperture (small f-stop number) and a selective focusing, we can isolate the foreground from the background by making the foreground objects sharp and the background blurry (or vice versa). This will convey a sense of depth and three-dimensionality.

Begginner photography tips 10

No foreground. Lack of depth and composition.

This image (above) of one of the ancient tombs around Hue, Vietnam looks flat. There is no depth, no three-dimensionality and it lacks a clear composition. Because a foreground is missing, the image is too busy and distracting.

Begginner photography tips 04

Foreground and background nicely isolated to create a sense of depth.

Above an image of the same subject but with a much better composition. The focus is on the eye of one of the dragons, making it our foreground. The rest of the tomb is our background, slightly blurred and nicely separated. It generates a sense of depth and also appears much calmer and structured than the first image. The viewer is being led into the picture. You can use this technique when photographing very popular places like for example the Eiffel Tower, Angkor Wat or other monuments. Instead of taking the same shot as every other tourist, experiment with different backgrounds and foregrounds, get creative, move, and I am sure you will end up with an original and authentic image.

Begginner photography tips 03

Cambodian Fighter. Focus on the subject, still including the environment.

You can also apply this technique to your people and portrait photography. It not only helps to really put emphasis on your subject, but also to incorporate some of the environment, which will help to tell a story. In the picture above, the focus is on the weary fighter, catching his breath during a fierce Khmer Boxing fight in Cambodia. We are at eye level with the fighter and again, the foreground is nicely separated from the rather blurry background. Yet, we can still see parts of the surrounding environment which is the ring and the crowd in the back. The focus however always remains on the main subject.

Leading lines for a sense of perspective

Of course depth of field is not the only means to create a sense of depth and three-dimensionality. The concept of leading lines is another one of those building blocks that you can apply. The viewer of a photograph usually associates diagonal lines which are leading into an image, to a vanishing point perspective. This means that objects which are farther away also appear smaller. This context automatically and unconsciously gives the viewer an impression of three-dimensionality.

Begginner photography tips 02

Two images with a clear vanishing point perspective.

As you can see in the images above, a shallow depth of field is not necessarily needed to convey that sense of depth we are looking to achieve. Here it’s all done by using a jetty as lines, which connect different layers of the picture – the image becomes much more plastic and complex.

Begginner photography tips 01

Night Scene: The bridge leading into the picture.

Similarly the image above becomes three-dimensional because the pedestrian bridge is leading into the image. It also appears to become smaller and smaller as it leads into the background. This way the image has that sense of depth even without applying a low depth of field. The bridge as a leading line is connecting our different layers, the foreground and the background.

Begginner photography tips 07

The bridge and the train convey a sense of depth.

Providing a relationship in size

When regarding a picture, the viewer often needs a reference point in order to correctly interpret the information our two-dimensional images provide. We can do this by establishing proportions and providing a relationship in size. Often this isn’t needed as we know a lot of the subjects we are capturing. In the image above we were dealing with familiar objects like a pedestrian bridge, a street and a commercial building. It was easy to put everything into context. But a lot of times, when we are confronted with unfamiliar things, this isn’t as easy.

Begginner photography tips 09

Mingun Pahtodawgyi in Mingun, Myanmar. Can you tell how big it actually is?

In the picture above is Mingun Pahtodawgyi, a temple in Mingun, Myanmar. Left unfinished, this huge construction was planned to become the world’s biggest stupa with a height of 150 meters. It is huge and impressive but the picture above somehow doesn’t manage to convey this. Just by looking at this image it is impossible to gauge the sheer size of the temple. A reference is missing.

Begginner photography tips 08

Mingun Pahtodawgyi. Are you getting a better sense of dimension?

Here I have added myself to the picture and despite my rather stupid pose, it instantly provides a point of reference. This relationship in size helps to categorize the stupa and establishes a sense of dimension. To achieve this effect and to provide a relationship in size, you can also use other elements which help the viewer to better comprehend an image.

Begginner photography tips 05

The hike up Mt. Minatubo, Philippines. Another example of relationship in size.

Try to practice, and utilize, these three building blocks to improve your photography. You can also try combining two of these techniques to generate an even greater sense of depth. Of course these concepts are by far not the only factors that make for a good and well composed image. There are many more things to take into account but for now, it should give you a good starting point.

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Temple dogs – a shallow depth of field and leading lines combined.

I hope you liked this article. Feel free to comment below and let us know what other techniques or concepts you found helpful on your quest of becoming a better photographer.

The post Using Depth of Field and Perspective for Better Composition by Philipp Dukatz appeared first on Digital Photography School.


Digital Photography School

WHAT IS CORPORATE PHOTOGRAPHY?

Ever since the evolution of the demand and supply chain, producers and makers of different products have invested in large sums of money in order to reach out to the people in the form of advertisement. It has been realized and widely accepted by one and all that the product or service that a company is offering is only as good as how well it is advertised. The dynamics of marketing changes by leaps and bounds depending upon the success of the advertising campaign before the launch of any product. This has been known to make or break a product be it in the release of a new movie, the launch of a music album or even as simple as the launch of a new brand of cola, toothpaste or even a washing soap.

Standing at the dawn of the 21st century, science and technology have progressed to greater heights in every sphere imaginable. The amazingly creative world of advertisement is no less. Today, techniques used for advertisement are no longer dependent on the print media and campaigns over the FM radio. The use of the electronic media has advanced the reach of advertisement companies to every part of the world that has human existence on it.

Another deadly combination that is taking advertisement campaigns to greater heights of success everyday is the mix and match of the electronic media and the print media. Such a combination can be best described by the use of photography. Digital high end and expensive equipment is used to capture high resolution photographs of products, services or employees and then the print media is used to either display or circulate these images for the entire world to see. This technique is known as corporate photography in today’s parlance. Paul Arthur, a unique architectural photographer in Birmingham, would concur with the above points.

Corporate photography, unlike what the name suggests is not limited to only the high end corporate firms and companies that hire photographers and other equipment to take pictures of expensive assets. In the fast moving and aware world of today, corporate photography is used by many firms to either advertise their product, give a statement about the services provided by them or even to showcase their employees to the world. A very good example in this regard is that of a hospital or that of a pharmaceutical company. These companies use high end photography to display world class surgeons with a smile on their faces treating sick people. The intention of the hospital in showcasing such photography is to advertise the presence of the human touch and the care and compassion that their doctors have towards the patients. On the other hand large medical companies may even showcase X ray or MRI photographs to advertise the quality of their scanning machines.

Corporate photography (as quoted by corporate photographer Seven Star Photography) is also considered as a good career option in the world of today where there is plethora of opportunities to choose from. With more and more companies getting more aware and involved in high end advertisements the future of corporate photography is brighter with each coming horizon.