All posts by Instructor

Manual mode – do I need it?

Assuming you have or are interested in a camera with manual capability - have you wondered WHY you might want to go to manual mode instead of letting the camera decide?

Here's the real deal - automatic modes work great with fairly even light coming from slightly behind you and the tones you're photographing are either middle tones or there's a good distribution of tones.

Tones being white to black and all the levels of grey and colours in between those extremes.

Expsoure in steam in fog - program vs manual modeWhere auto or program modes start to fail is when you have a mostly white scene - like a white puppy on snow, or being out in fog, which makes a camera think it needs to make the pictures darker and thus white becomes grey. Auto and program modes also have difficulty when the light comes from behind or beside the subject - imagine your child in a white shirt standing in a doorway and the sun is coming from the side (which would be a cool and dramatic picture - what part do you WANT to be exposed right? Do you expose for the bright part of the face or do you expose for the shadow side letting the bright side go completely white?

depth of field - shallow focus - manual modeThe other aspect is how much do you want to be in focus? Do you want shallow focus so that just your partner's face is in focus or do you want to have everything in focus? Auto and program modes default to more of the 'everything in focus.'

In the end - are you TAKING  a picture, ore are you CREATING a picture? If you want to get really creative you want to create each picture - make it look the way you envision it. That skill takes time and practice - and taking lots of pictures, and doing it in manual so that you have control over each aspect of the image.

However if what you're doing is documenting your life and not worrying about being 'artsy' - then program mode is fine and will do a great job.

As in all of photography - the purpose of the photos determines the methods being used.

Lens choices

As mentioned in the lessons - making a choice of lens can create very different looks in your photos. One of the biggest drawbacks with smartphone photography is the choice of only one lens type (wide angle.)

The basic approach to choosing the right lens length is that: if you want to isolate and feature a person, object or texture, you want a longer lens; if you want to keep proportions of a person's face when doing a fairly close portrait, you want a medium to long lens; and if you want to include the environment around your subject or distort your subject you want a wide lens.

But for a more in-depth look at lenses, Cathryn and her daughter - who are readers of this Best Photo Lessons -  sent me this link to a buying guide by Best Buy - we're not affiliated in any way with the retailer, but thought this was good enough to suggest you review what they suggest.

bestbuy.com/site/buying-guides/lens-buying-guide

What to DO with your photography

wallartMillions of photos taken daily never get seen again. I'll bet you're like me and have a ton of photos that you've shot in the last few years and they are sitting in an unused on your computer.

Here's a few ideas to bring out and be used. Not all of them are about making giant enlargements - but then again, why not? (See below.)

1 - Sort Them

I'm a big proponent of Adobe Lightroom. You can buy it for about $149 USD or you can get it on subscription for $10 USD along with Photoshop. By importing all your images to Lightroom you can classify, keyword and rate each image so it is easier to find when you're looking for an image that will meet a specific need.

But that's not the only way to sort images. Your camera likely came with a program that will do much the same sorting and rating – probably not as well but it will work.

Even if you just create folders on your computer such as: Cats, dogs, kids, friends, sky, etc you will then have something to go by when using the images.

There's other programs as well such as ACDSee or Corel AfterShot Pro - and many others. Do a web search and you'll find many options.

2 - Print Them

Load a bunch of your favourites and put them on a USB stick and head off to a lab to get 4x6 prints done of each. It's inexpensive and fun. There are labs, drug stores and even Costco can do great printing. There are also online labs but I prefer going to a local lab.

One of the coolest ideas I've heard to do with prints is get a big basket, drop all the prints into that and put it on the coffee table or side table where people can rummage through the images at their leisure.

You can also put them in albums - which don't get looked at as often but do keep them organized. Really great if you put descriptions beside each image of when they were taken and who was in the image. Great for family histories. Not as important the year they were taken but amazing keepsakes for families.

3 - Screen Saver

screensaverLoad up a special folder on your computer and let it display the images when you're not busy on the computer.

And many TV's can take a USB thumb drive and run slide shows - the biggest best digital frame you probably already own.

Or you can buy a digital frame and let images run that way - another great way to continuously show your images.

4 - Printed Books and 'Magazines'

booksmagsSelect a bunch of images of similar nature - maybe a trip you've taken or certain group of friends, or even your kids doing silly things. If you own a Mac you have Photos installed which lets you assemble and print softcover and hardcover books of your images very easily. I've found the image quality of the Apple created books to be outstanding.

But there are also online labs that can do that as well. Do a quick online search and you'll find lots of ways to print your own books.

5 - Print Them - Big

Make enlargements of your best images. Be proud of your images. One of the quickest way to make your image 'fine art' is to have it printed 20 x 30 inches or bigger in black and white. That looks fantastic on a wall.

6 - Slide Shows

In 2008 I did a project where I crossed Canada driving from Victoria BC to St. John's Newfoundland - all 7500 kilometers. Along the way I stopped every 50 kilometers and photographed whatever was there.  I then did about a year of slide shows for libraries, seniors groups and other groups who were interested.

If you've done a special project or have a good series of images that cover a subject that could be of interest - put together a slide show and get the word out to all your friends, relatives and business associates that you'd like to do presentations.

Conclusion

Doing photography is fun - showing your photography to interested people is even funner. Whether its 4x6 prints in a basket or a slide show for seniors, do something with your photos and you'll discover even more enjoyment in this great hobby.

How to take great flower photos

I know that many out there want to improve their photography in one aspect. Flower photography. With gardening as popular as it is this shouldn’t be a surprise. Flower photography while looking like one of the simplest forms of photography can quickly become one of the most difficult. Here are a few tips for you. (Keeping in mind that basic good photography skills are always used.)

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Photo By Neil Speers

1. Soft diffuse light. Today it’s very overcast outside, and if there were any flowers in bloom today would be the perfect day for capturing some great images. Soft diffuse light enhances color saturation, so if you wondered how or why pro photographers flower images seem so deep in color this is one of the reasons why. (There are exceptions to this rule. I do some flower photography is bright or dappled sunlight but I’m usually trying to get an effect of light passing through the petals.)

2. Slow film speed. 200 speed or less. The slower speed films have greater detail and for flowers you’re going to need to get close anyway and you want the nice sharp detail of a slower speed of film. I use 100 speed for my flower photography.

3. Tripod. Use one for this type of photography. Set up your shot, get everything in sharp focus, and then shoot. A tripod will keep your camera from moving on you and allow you to get the sharp detail you will need.

4. Look for great colors, a flower in full bloom next to a budArticle Submission, and don’t shoot on windy days. Keep contrast and color in mind at all times and try different compositions each time you take a shot.

Flower photography can be a lot of fun especially if the flowers are your own.

If you have some specific questions please visit my Photography and Design Forum at:http://kellypaalphotography.com/v-web/bulletin/bb/index.php and post your question there.

Source: Free Articles from ArticlesFactory.com

Discover emotion in every photo you take

Paris emotion photography

Paris Photographer Ciprian LupanMany of us that like taking photos everywhere we go in order to capture best moments of a meeting or a date, or the funniest moments spent with friends. These are moments of life that will be never left behind from our memory.

The best element that can be captured in a photo is emotion. A beautiful photo, taken at the right time, can create an entire story in your memory, a beautiful sequence of events, feelings, smells and that simple photo can make you go in the past.

But how exactly can a photo do this? It is not about the photo, it is about the message of the photo and the transmitted emotion. When taking a photo you have to do your best to capture the essence of life, all the elements of the background at the right place, the beautiful smile of the loved person which reminds you why you love her so much. A wrong detail can ruin your photo and that is why you have to pay a lot of attention in order to get perfect results.

Emotion photographyBut, how can you “capture feelings” in a photo?

1. Capture moments. When you are a photographer and you are collaborating with different kind of couples then you realize that capturing a caress or a glance at the appropriate moment is more than a photo where everything is perfect placed or the landscape is dreamy. If it is necessary you can use some color effects to make your photo look amazing.

2. Be a good reader of the facial expression. The best moment to catch someone’s amazed face expression is the proposal time for sure. In that moment there are millions of thoughts expressed in a single look. A natural smile makes more than a thousand words, so try to get it.

3. Look for details. You have to know where to look. Not only the face and the eyes can share emotion. The gestures, the handshakes, in a couple, the way of walking together, even the laughing of the partners are a key element in capturing happiness.

4. Use Portrait Mode if available on your camera. Try to also make portrait – or vertical orientation – photo in order to capture another side of a person, the natural side. The portrait mode will allow the light to go into the camera in abundance. (editor's note) If you don't have a specific portrait mode on your camera, try aperture priority and set the fstop as open as the lens will go – lower numbers are better, ie f1.8, f2.8, f.3.3 etc.

When having a photo session, every element of the landscape or background must have a purpose. The colors must fit perfect with the mood and must create a universe.

5. Black and white landscapes. Sometimes, a picture in white and black shows more expressions that a colored one. Especially when you are a professional photographer and you have full control of the photos, and you can make any area lighter or darker.

6. Using continuous focus. Moments to surprise a real emotion are rare. So, in order to be prepared, you can set your camera on continuous focus, to have the best photos in every moment.

It is big deal to discover lots of emotions in a photo and everyone that considers himself a professional photographer needs to develop their talent and skill to do this. In that way, you can see beyond the capture taken at a certain moment and create a story. Because great stories use full range of emotions.

Emotion Paris photographyCiprian Lupan is a professional Paris photographer specialized in proposal, engagement, wedding and family photos. If you want to have the best experience and beautiful photos at the Eiffel Tower, just visit the website.

Don’t Let Bad Weather Keep Your Camera Tucked Away

Foggy weather photography

Here in the northern hemisphere, it's winter. And where I am right now - it's very winter. Miserable stuff that snow. Except when you have a camera in your hand.

Then it's a playground. The landscape takes on a very different look, colours become monochrome, crystals form, fog moves in on cat's paws (to quote a poem we learned in high school), rain creates incredible reflections and clouds create wonderful patterns.

When the weather stops being sunny, some of the best opportunities for great photos come around.

A couple of hints for you. Cloudy, rainy, snowy, foggy days all have low contrast and will fool a camera meter to make the picture darker than the scene actually is. Increase your exposure by about one and a half stops to compensate.

Night photos require longer exposures, grab a tripod or place the camera on a sturdy support. If you can set the self-timer you'll get even sharper images, especially with dSLR's because the mirror in the camera won't be moving at the time of the exposure.

 

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Thinking about ‘Going Pro’? The sad truth.

Eliza-1065You love photography - so do I. It is wonderful to capture special moments and share them with others. Some of us use our cell-phones, and some use very expensive digital cameras. As a hobby and a past-time - it can help us record our personal and family history, and show others how we view the world.

Many people dream of being a professional photographer - the lifestyle and the opportunities to see different things is alluring.

However - its not all 'wine and roses.' Let me fill you in on what it takes to be a professional photographer.

What gives me the background to write this perspective? I did my first paid photo shoot when I was 16 - which is nearly 40 years ago now. I've photographed royalty, and politicians, athletes, weddings, models, architecture, landscapes, tools, food, homeless people, cans of tomato soup, and more. I haven't spent my whole life doing photography, but it was always part of what I did. I've also been involved in professional photography organizations both as a member and as the president, so I've gotten to know a lot of different photographers.

First off - I'm going to assume you are a good, honest, hard working person who wants to share your gifts with as many people as possible.

If you are thief or con-man who thinks its easy money, you really want to look to some other vocation because there are far easier ways to make big money than in photography.

People pay their hard earned money for quality images - and if you are producing anything less than great quality, you are ripping them off.

To be a professional photographer (in every sense of the word), you need to:

Have professional gear, and backups for that gear

Yes a professional can create compelling images on pretty much anything, but you only do that for specific effects, not as a consistent way of doing photography. Professional level cameras are just a tool for creating an image, but they help do the images be done at the best available quality.

And cameras fail - so you need a backup 'just in case.' You also need multiple high quality, fast (expensive) lenses so that whatever situation you face, you get the best image. Anything less and you are ripping people off.

You also need a professional level computer because anything less will waste your time (more on time down the page.)

You also need professional level software (Photoshop, etc) to produce the best image quality and not waste your time doing it.

It is expensive to set up a professional level photography business, you'll need to invest a lot to get to a level where you can do the work and not run into problems because of your equipment. And worse, as you progress you'll wind up with more gear and it will be more expensive because your skills will continue to advance.

Know your camera inside and out.

When something goes wrong - and it will - you need to be able to find another way to get the image, fast. You'll also be faced with a range of situations where the quality and amount of light will be different and the subjects will require different approaches. You need to be able to handle whatever is thrown at you and get a good image at the end.

While many people feel they can 'fix' images in Photoshop, you'll be far better off getting the best image 'in-camera' and doing the finishing touches with Photoshop. You can only do that by learning how to do photography in all kinds of situations.

Know Photoshop inside and out.

There are other programs out there that do image editing, but nothing is quite as good as Adobe Photoshop. This is actually the least problem any more - $10 a month and you can get the Adobe Photoshop/Lightroom deal. That's so cheap there's no reason not to.

But you also have to learn how to use it - there are many ways to get things done, and there are just as many ways to use it badly.

I also recommend using Lightroom for initial edits and sorting images. It makes the process much faster from beginning to end - and time is money.

Know light – and also how to light a scene

If you only do 'natural light' because you don't know how to use lighting, you are ripping people off. There are top photographers who choose natural light as a style, but they know how to use flash and other lights when needed. If you can't use a flash at all, you will not be capable of getting the quality of images people are paying you for. You need to know how to use light, and the best way I've found to learn and teach it is to learn lighting. Even if you only use reflectors in natural light, you need to understand how the quality and quantity of light affects the image.

Understand sales and marketing

If you can't market your services and ask for money, you don't get to do professional photography.

There always seem to be some people who find customers easily - but I suspect it's like the saying "The hyena says 'I'm not lucky, but I do keep moving'."

People who succeed in photography make sales, and they do that by constantly marketing to people and telling them about the photography and doing it enthusiastically.

Learning how to create images is relatively easy compared to learning to do sales for most people. You will need to learn sales and you'll spend far more time on sales and marketing than you will on actually 'doing' photography.

Your family will not see much of you

Your family will not see you nearly as much as you'd like. If you pursue photography full-time expect 60 hours work weeks, at least at the beginning. If you pursue it part-time in addition to a regular job, you'll be giving up most of your evenings and weekends to do it.

The process:

  • Send out marketing materials/promote yourself
  • Meet potential clients
  • Do the photography
  • Meet the clients to choose the final images
  • Prepare the images for delivery
  • Deliver the images

Consider this: The average wedding takes around 40 hours for a trained professional - in addition to the 12 or 16 hours on the wedding day.

You will need to charge more than you think you should

Not only do you need to be paid for the time you DO photography, but also for the time you put into sales and marketing, the time for meetings, for retouching, for delivering finished images, for your insurance (you absolutely have to have insurance, for your gear, for accidents, for your health and for your car), your administrative time, your taxes, your vehicle, your replacement gear (some lasts for a long time, some not so much), software updates, your holidays (vacations have to be paid for somehow if you want a 'reasonable life.')

This all ads up to quite a bit, and if you charge for your photography on the same level as you'd make at 7-11 you'll very quickly go broke.

I know a lot of 'former' photographers who thought they could make money by getting more work 'being cheap' - only to become burned out by the stress of never having money and working all the time to do it. And what's worse is that many such photographers wind up hurting their customers in the process.

Don't forget that your time away from friends and family is worth something. If you're not making enough money to make it worthwhile loosing time with your loved ones - then why do it at all?

You will not make money on a consistent basis

There will be times you are very busy, and times you'll sitting around wondering if you'll ever see another client. As one photographer aptly (if not slightly grossly) said - "Income as a photographer is much like watching a snake eat a small dog, really skinny then a big lump, then really skinny."

If you need to make regular income, this isn't the career for you.

You will need to take care of your paperwork

Among all the other things you need to take care of, you are running a business and you'll need to do the paperwork, your accounting, your billing, your marketing, your research and so on. You'll need to pay taxes and keep track of your equipment and software.

You will never stop learning

You will need to continually work on your photography and techniques, as well as on your sales, marketing and business skills. There are online courses, part-time schools, correspondence schools, etc.

And I've probably forgotten things you need to know

Photography can be a wonderful career, I've had the opportunity to see things and meet people I otherwise wouldn't get to. I also get to be creative and use my imagination to help my clients get the images they need. But don't go into photography thinking it's 'easy' or that you don't need to perfect your craft and knowledge of business before you do it.

If you want to be a professional, you need to do a lot of preparation before you ever charge a client for your services.

Add More Color with Black and White – Part 2

(Continued from part 1)

Adding Interest to a Photo Album

3Not all photos need to be in color when they are included in a photo book. In order to add interest and age to a digital photo album, the photos can be a mix of color and black and white photos. In addition, the aforementioned graphic software programs have filters that can be used to create an aged tone to photos.

A sepia filter will deliver an aged photo appearance to a portrait photo. This type of photo manipulation is seen in photo booths at carnivals and fairs where people dress up in vintage costumes and pose for photos. There are also filters that recreate hand-tinting, such as was found in the early 1960s. The greyscale photos can be printed and hand-tinted using ink kits as well.

It is suggested in this photo book blog that mixing and matching photos in both color and black and white help to add interest to the album and make it a cohesive history of a family and you can also see some examples on their photo book page (scroll down). The scanning of old photos certainly adds an extra amount of entertainment to a family gathering. Everyone loves to look at old photos and poke fun at other family members. The shapes and colors of those old photos add a certain amount of charm to the book.

4Not everyone has old photos from the 1960s, but if they have access to a graphics program, they can create old photos from new photos. By using a Photoshop mask in any of the programs, corners can be cropped and rounded. The addition of a frame in post-production allows the photographer to present a photo as if it was a Polaroid. Many photo ideas and frames can be found online at places like this.

Photo books are the easiest way for a family to put together a history that can be enjoyed for generations to come. These books are easy to create. Beginners will have no problem setting up a great book for their family.

The key to setting up a photo book is the photos themselves. The rest is like adding pieces to a scrapbook. Since the digital camera allows as many photos as the card will hold, there are more than enough chances to get that photo just right. It may take practice to see black and white while looking in color, but the end result will be worth.

by Andre Smith

Add More Color with Black and White

Black and White PhotographyAnsel Adams brought the beauty of the American West through the lens of his camera to the American people. He captured landscapes and scenes that were foreign to many who had never ventured out of a city in their lives. His favorite spot was the wilderness surrounding Yosemite National Park in California, and his favorite technique was the use of black and white to capture and enhance shadows of rocks, valleys and mountain peaks.

His photography was primarily done in black and white in order to capture the depth of color through the use of shades of grey. He believed that color distracted from the overall scene, while black and white allowed the viewer to see everything about the scene. He spent hours getting the right combination of lighting to achieve the photo that he envisioned.

While most digital photography is concentrated on color, there is a whole world that looks beautiful in shades of grey.

Manipulating Color Photos

Manipulating Colour for Black and WhiteThe modern camera and photo manipulation programs allow photographers to shoot their images in full color, and then use a filter to reduce the photo to greyscale. This is a common practice in order to capture the greatest amount of shading. Digital cameras may have the option to shoot in black and white, but there is less control over the photo in the finishing stages when the color data is absent.

The best time to take black and white photos is often on an overcast afternoon. The low contrast will allow the photographer to capture more of the shadows in a softer light rather than the shadows of harsh sunlight. It is easier to control the soft shadows through a graphic program like Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro to maximize the depth of the subject.

However it should be noted a large number of images by Ansel Adams were done in the middle of the day - which does increase the tonal range beyond what most cameras are capable of capturing and he was capable of doing by manipulating the exposure and development of both his film and prings. One can start on sunny days by making sure to keep the highlights from blowing out by reducing the exposure (setting your camera to alert you overexposed ares on the image preview can be found in your camera's manual.) Or you can learn more advanced techniques such as High Dynamic Range photography which is having multiple exposures of once scene combined to have a larger tonal range.

When using a graphic program, there are filters that can be applied to the photos to change the white balance, tones and contrast that will enhance the photo. Adobe's Photoshop and Lightroom can be found at their website and Paint Shop Pro, formerly by JASC, is manufactured by Corel.

(Continued in part 2)

by Andre Smith

Buying a new camera

A lot of people wonder - "What camera should I buy?"

The answer is complicated, which is why they ask the advice - however there's a lot of factors that go into the best recommendation. What do you want to photograph? Are you thinking of turning professional or want to be a hobbyist (I'd rather see people do it as a hobby rather than try to go professional and burn out on photography - which happens a lot, being in business is not easy.)

If you're a first time dSLR (digital Single Lens Reflex) buyer - my recommendation is:

First - set your budget, it can be anywhere from $500 to $5000 (U.S. or Canadian dollars, your local currency may differ), so what you're comfortable spending is how much you should spend. And yes, you'll likely spend far more down the road, but what you're comfortable with now is what's important.

Second - go to a camera store and try out several in your price range. You want to see which ones are easiest to do some specific things: setting exposure manually, formatting the memory card, able to hold the camera comfortably.

Yes, buying online is cheaper in theory - but if its the wrong camera you wont use it, and a camera you never use is a lot more expensive than a camera you use all the time.

You'll want to do manual exposure to learn to control the camera - not let it make decisions for you. The easier to set those controls the better you will learn.

Menus on various cameras are easier for some people to use and harder for others - so make sure it is easy for you to understand and formatting cards is something you'll do a lot of.

Notice I'm not talking about all the features cameras come with these days - ignore them. If you want to learn to do photography at the highest level, you need to really understand what makes the right exposure for your vision of the finished image - and the only way to learn that effectively is to do it manually.

Honestly, if all you want is a glorified snapshot, get a really good quality point-and-shoot, you'll be much happier in the end.

Notice also that I don't recommend any one brand - each brand works better or worse for different people, so choose the right one for you. I've used Nikon, Canon, Fuji, Sony, Leica, Hasselblad, Pentax, etc. They are all good brands, and I'd happily shoot with any of them again - as long as I can easily make my own choices for exposure.

You might also want to look at a "mirrorless" camera - which look a lot like the old rangefinder cameras. They're kind of like an advanced point-and-shoot, except they use the same sensor as dSLRs and have controls for easily doing manual exposure. I bought one and have gotten many great shots. No its not quite as good as my professional camera, but at 1/3 the price its probably 85 per cent the quality, which is a very good buy to me and is a lot easier to take with me.