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Updated: 12 hours 19 min ago

Tamron Launches Gorgeous 18-300mm Zoom for Fujifilm (and Sony)

Fri, 07/23/2021 - 06:00

The post Tamron Launches Gorgeous 18-300mm Zoom for Fujifilm (and Sony) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Earlier this week, Tamron unveiled the 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD, an all-in-one lens designed for both Sony E-mount and Fujifilm X-mount cameras.

While Tamron has spent several years perfecting mirrorless lenses for the Sony E-mount, the company has not yet launched glass for Fujifilm users. The announcement hints at a new direction for Tamron; assuming the X-mount version is sufficiently popular, you can expect future Fujifilm-compatible lenses, a major win for Fujifilm’s dedicated fanbase.

The lens itself draws on Tamron’s experience with flexible zooms and will sit alongside products such as the 28-200mm f/2.8-5.6. According to Tamron, the 18-300mm “is the world’s first all-in-one zoom lens for Sony and Fujifilm APS-C mirrorless cameras featuring a 16.6x zoom ratio,” and indeed, the zoom range is remarkable. At 18mm, you can capture landscapes, wide street shots, and architectural shots. And at 300mm, you can photograph tight telephoto landscapes and even some birds, thanks to a near-500mm field of view (with the crop factor applied). Then there are the midrange focal lengths, and you can use these for portrait photography, sports photography, and much more.

If you enjoy capturing the occasional close-up shot of insects or flowers, then you’ll love the 18-300mm’s close-focusing capabilities. You can shoot at up to 1:2 magnification, perfect for casual macro photography (and you’ll even be able to capture an abstract close-up or two for variety).

Tamron also promises “extremely fast and precise autofocus – the highest level in its class.” As you can imagine, this is a big deal for fast-paced travel and street shooting, not to mention bird and wildlife photography. Users will need to be content with a relatively narrow maximum aperture (f/6.3 on the long end, f/3.5 on the wide end), but the Vibration Compensation should offset this problem somewhat when shooting in low light.

Of course, when purchasing a lens, a lot hinges on optical quality, and superzooms are notoriously finicky – though Tamron promises “high-resolution performance” and “high image quality that is among the best of all all-in-one zoom lenses.” Bottom line, the 18-300mm is bound to work for photographers aiming to keep their backpack lightweight and minimalistic. For the right shooter, this lens could genuinely replace an entire bag of glass, saving on space, money, and more.

So if you like the sound of a convenient superzoom and you’re a Fujifilm or Sony user, keep an eye out for the 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3. While the price hasn’t yet been revealed, bank on a Fall 2021 release date and prepare for some fun photoshoots!

Now over to you:

What do you think about the Tamron 18-300mm? Is it a lens you’d be interested in? What would you use it for? Share your thoughts (and images) in the comments below!

The post Tamron Launches Gorgeous 18-300mm Zoom for Fujifilm (and Sony) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Positive Space in Photography: A Guide

Thu, 07/22/2021 - 06:00

The post Positive Space in Photography: A Guide appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Megan Kennedy.

As a photographer, you may have heard of negative space, which refers to the more subtle areas surrounding the main subject in a photograph. However, positive space, the populated or focal point of an image, is a term that tends to fly under the radar.

In this article, we’ll take a look at positive space in composition and how you can use it to improve your photos.

What is positive space in photography?

Positive space refers to the subject matter or areas of peak interest in a photograph. It’s the key component of almost every great photo.

That said, like all compositional elements in photography, positive space is influenced by other aspects of a photo. Perhaps one of the most significant of these aspects is negative space – positive space is often sculpted by negative space and vice versa. You see, when photographing a clear subject, there is usually “occupied” or positive subject matter contrasted with negative elements that are not key focal points. Therefore, when discussing positive space, it’s hard not to mention the role of negative space, too.

Canon 5D Mark IV | Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM | f/5.6 | 1/200s | ISO 100

While positive space may constitute the main show, negative space serves as the stage. And although the word negative seems to imply a lack of content, the term doesn’t just refer to areas completely devoid of subject matter. In fact, negative space only has to be visually quieter, less populated, more subtle, or restful compared to the main subject.

A brief history of positive space

Positive space – and the interaction of positive and negative space – has been used in art throughout history. Painters, sculptors, architects, potters; all have balanced positive and negative dynamics to allow for tactical areas of visual rest, rhythm, focus, activity, atmosphere, etc.

For example, negative space in traditional Japanese art styles is often embraced to accentuate or balance the weight of the expressive and spontaneous brushstrokes that constitute positive subject matter.

Another example is Edgar Degas’s careful use of negative space in his scenes depicting ballet dancers. The negative space imbues the photos with a greater sense of movement, context, and contrast, creating interesting juxtapositions and framing detail.

With the invention of photography, the artistic possibilities of positive and negative space expanded to the photographic image. From Anna Atkins, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Dorothea Lange, and Robert Frank to Diane Arbus, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Steve McCurry, and Didier Massard, photographers have used negative space to support key (positive) focal points.

Why is positive space important?

Positive space matters because it can steer the narrative of an image or draw a viewer’s eye. Without positive space, negative space often looks directionless. In turn, a photograph lacking negative space may seem crowded or overwhelming.

Positive space creates momentum, narrative, and visual climax. Negative space can provide context, emphasis, isolation, and breathing room, funneling the viewer’s eye toward positive space and allowing the focal point to flourish.

In this image, a plant tendril makes up the central, positive component in the image, framed by the negative space of the unfocused background.
Canon 5D Mark IV | Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II with extension tubes | f/2.8 | 1/250s | ISO 100 Working with positive space: the basics

There are many ways to approach photographing positive space. Here’s what I recommend to get started:

  1. First, identify the positive areas of the scene – the elements of the composition that immediately stand out.
  2. Next, evaluate the negative space (you can use the viewfinder or your LCD for this). What does the negative space do? Does it uphold the positive space? Does it add context? Depth? Atmosphere? Narrative? Beauty?
  3. Finally, consider the technical aspects of your photo, and how they might affect positive and negative space. For example, adjusting the aperture will create a shallow or deep depth of field, where a shallower depth of field will often create more negative space.

These basic considerations will help you improve your use of positive space.

Canon 5D Mark IV | Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM | f/11 | 1/250s | ISO 200 Advanced tips and techniques for working with positive space

If you want to take your compositions to the next level, here are a few tips and tricks to help capitalize on positive space:

Tip 1: Apply compositional techniques

Positive space is a fundamental part of photographic composition, but it doesn’t exist in isolation. It can work alongside other compositional techniques, such as leading lines, depth of field, framing, symmetry, and perspective, to create beautiful photos.

So the next time you’re out with your camera, think about positive space. And also think about how you can use positive space in conjunction with composition principles to get the most impactful results.

Canon 5D Mark II | Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM | f/10 | 1/200s | ISO 100 Tip 2: Be mindful of both negative and positive space

The key to striking a successful positive/negative balance (or intentional imbalance) often lies in awareness. When composing a photograph, make sure you carefully check the negative space that surrounds a positive space, and ask yourself whether it works as it is – or whether it needs to be modified.

(A quick visual scan through the viewfinder or on the digital screen is a small action that can save time and many wasted shots!)

Canon 5D Mark IV | Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM | f/5.6 | 1/1600s | ISO 500

Furthermore, when framing a subject, running through a quick checklist can be helpful. Ask yourself: What is the negative space contributing? What is the positive space contributing? Does the positive space benefit from the negative regions that surround it?

Briefly pausing to consider the positive/negative dynamics in a photograph can increase the chances of capturing a successful image.

Tip 3: Use your camera settings

Positive space can hinge on negative space that occurs naturally (i.e., the sky, shadows, etc.), or on negative space that is deliberately created through camera settings.

For example, in a busy urban environment, a slow shutter speed can blur the flow of traffic to create negative space (and this will, in turn, emphasize static subjects like buildings and sculptures that constitute positive areas of interest).

ICM (intentional camera movement) can sometimes create blurry and abstract negative areas that highlight positive focal points. Selective focus can emphasize or deemphasize visually positive areas, and by adjusting the aperture settings, you can blur the background and/or foreground surrounding a positive subject. Zooming in or out in-camera or cropping with post-production can also manipulate the dynamics of positive and negative space.

In other words:

If you want more negative space, you can create it yourself! Just tweak your camera settings to achieve the effect you’re after.

Canon 5D Mark IV | Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM | f/4 | 1/25s | ISO 200 Tip 4: Know your narrative

Like all compositional tools, positive space can evoke emotions and tell stories. By determining your narrative in advance, you can use positive and negative space to create an impactful, coherent image.

For example, a smaller positive subject set within a large amount of negative space can evoke a sense of scale, isolation, simplicity, grandiosity, and distance. Negative space in the form of a bold, dark vignette can frame a positive subject for added impact. An image with predominantly positive space can generate immediacy and energy. Evenly distributed positive and negative space can lend to the impression of harmony and balance.

(The list goes on!)

Tip 5: Experiment!

Any positive (and negative) space bends to an endless amount of compositional variables. Experimenting with creative techniques, subjects, and conditions broadens the creative potential of any positive subject.

And although the term “negative” suggests “nothingness,” negative space, as we have seen, is just as versatile and important as its positive counterpart.

So while experimenting with positive space through the mindful manipulation of negative space can be a balancing act, gaining a good grasp on both forms of space will result in the best photos overall.

Canon 5D Mark IV | Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM | f/22 | 1/4s | ISO 100 A guide to positive space: conclusion

Positive space is a critical part of photographic composition. While the discussion of negative space is more common, positive space is the driving force behind countless photographic images.

Consciously working with positive space encourages a greater connection with the subject matter, and it’ll also help you create better compositions.

Now over to you:

Do you have any favorite ways to work with positive space? How do you balance positive and negative space? Share your thoughts (and images!) in the comments below!

The post Positive Space in Photography: A Guide appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Megan Kennedy.

Capture One vs Lightroom: Which Editing Program Is Best? (2021)

Wed, 07/21/2021 - 06:00

The post Capture One vs Lightroom: Which Editing Program Is Best? (2021) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Dawn Gilfillan.

Not sure whether to use Capture One or Lightroom for your image editing? Both programs have plenty of fans, but which option is best for you?

This article aims to give you a clear, unbiased assessment of the pros and cons of Capture One vs Lightroom. By the time you’re done, you’ll know all about these two programs – and you’ll know which one is right for your needs.

Let’s get started.

Capture One overview

Thanks to its advanced tools, Capture One is often the choice of professional photographers and retouchers. It’s a high-end program that offers powerful tethered shooting, in-depth image editing, and a robust image-organization system that’ll satisfy even the most demanding of photographers.

  • A vast range of image-editing tools and features
  • Tethered shooting option that performs well
  • Designed for professional workflows
  • Superior RAW image processing
  • The user interface can be confusing – it’s not always easy to find the tools you need
  • Not beginner-friendly
  • Expensive
  • Image organization/library feature is clunky and difficult to use
  • No simple one-click presets or filters
Lightroom overview

Lightroom offers image organization and library features, as well as RAW, TIFF, and JPEG image processing. Thanks to Lightroom’s smooth integration with Adobe Photoshop, many photographers use both programs for image editing. Lightroom is easy to use and includes a range of one-click presets to speed up your workflow.

  • Easy for beginners to use
  • Simple and effective image library/organization
  • Good range of one-click presets available online
  • Good for beginners and advanced photographers
  • Affordable
  • No image adjustment layers
  • Subscription-only model
  • Tethered shooting performs poorly
  • Image editing tools not as advanced as Capture One
Capture One vs Lightroom: in-depth comparison

Now that you’re broadly familiar with these two programs, let’s take a closer look at how they stack up, starting with:

Editing tools

While both Capture One and Lightroom offer a near-identical range of basic image editing tools, there are some key differences worth considering.

First, Capture One offers adjustment layers, while Lightroom does not.

Adjustment layers in Capture One.

Lightroom is designed to be used alongside Adobe Photoshop, an advanced layer-based editor. So if you want to use adjustment layers, you do have the option to send your Lightroom-adjusted files across to Photoshop, though this can be inconvenient compared to Capture One’s more comprehensive, one-stop-shop approach.

Both programs offer lens corrections and profiles, as well as the usual cropping and rotating features, etc. As a quick aside, the Crop tool in Lightroom is simpler to use than the one in Capture One – and it’s also far easier to find!

Crop tool in Lightroom.

Capture One and Lightroom can process RAW files, but Capture One does have the edge here, especially considering the amount of fine-tuning you can do with the shadows and highlights. Capture One offers high dynamic range editing of your RAW files, which lets you make significant adjustments to the highlights, shadows, blacks, and whites:

High Dynamic Range tool in Capture One.

While Lightroom offers RAW exposure adjustments of its own, the options are clunkier and less sophisticated compared to Capture One.

What’s one area where Capture One really beats Lightroom hands down? Color adjustments. The Capture One Color Editor doesn’t just offer Basic and Advanced options, but also a tool to fine-tune skin tones, plus an outstanding interface that serious color editors will love.

Color Editor in Capture One.

Capture One also offers the Color Balance tool with Master, 3-Way, Shadow, and Highlight options. If color grading is your thing, Capture One blows Lightroom out of the water; its sophisticated tools are capable of performing even the most demanding of color edits.

Color Balance tool in Capture One.

Lightroom does offer color adjustments, of course, but nothing comparable to Capture One:

HSL panel in Lightroom.

Tethered shooting is also where Capture One excels. I have used it extensively, and it’s fast and efficient. Although Lightroom does offer tethering, it’s not reliable, and it’s slow and glitchy at times. It just doesn’t cut the mustard for a pro photographer, especially one who has clients waiting to see the RAW shots during an in-progress session.

Ease of use

As far as I’m considered, Lightroom is much easier to use; the interface is simple, and you can view all the tools and features on one screen. 

Capture One, on the other hand, uses a series of tabs, cursor tools, menus, and sub-menus, and it’s easy to get lost or spend ages hunting for something you need.

The Lightroom Library system is also clear and simple, while Capture One makes this unnecessarily complicated. 

The Lightroom Library.

Using presets in Lightroom is easy. Download your presets, import them into Lightroom, and they’ll appear on the lefthand side of the Develop module. Hover your mouse over a preset to see how it will affect your image, click to select a favorite, and you’re done. Just look at the simplicity of Lightroom’s Preset panel:

Capture One doesn’t do presets – sort of. It does have preset equivalents, but they’re called Styles, and you’ll have to go into the Adjustments tab and follow the sub-menu to find and apply them:

Also, Styles packs are expensive, whereas there are plenty of free Lightroom presets on the market.

Supported file formats

Capture One supports the following file formats:

  • RAW
  • DNG
  • JPEG
  • TIFF
  • PNG
  • PSD (read-only)
  • DNG files are supported in Capture One Pro, but not in brand versions (e.g., Capture One for Fujifilm, Capture One for Sony, etc.)

Lightroom supports these file formats:

  • RAW
  • Digital Negative format (DNG)
  • TIFF 
  • JPEG 
  • Photoshop format (PSD)
  • Large Document format (PSB)
  • CMYK files
  • AVI
  • MP4
  • MOV

If you want to use PSD or PSB formats, then Lightroom will be your best choice. It’s also best for those who want to import the supported video files listed here. As noted with Capture One, DNG files from all cameras are only supported in the Pro version, whereas all DNG files are supported in Lightroom, regardless of which camera they came from.

Is there a mobile version?

Lightroom offers a totally free app for your device, downloadable from both iOS and Android app stores. You will need an Adobe subscription to access several advanced features, but once you’ve purchased Lightroom, this will take care of itself. Also, note that images and edits from your Lightroom app will sync across your Lightroom CC programs – so you can edit on your phone, then see the changes on your desktop (and vice versa).

Unfortunately, Capture One doesn’t currently offer any kind of mobile app. If you want to edit images taken on your smartphone, you’ll need to transfer them to your computer (and if you want to edit images on your phone, you’re out of luck, though you can always grab the free Lightroom app).


As with all Adobe apps, Lightroom is only available as a monthly subscription. You can purchase Lightroom CC on its own – with 1 TB of cloud storage – for $9.99 USD per month, or you can grab Lightroom as part of Adobe’s Creative Cloud Photography Plan, which includes access to Lightroom CC, Lightroom Classic, and Photoshop CC and starts at $9.99 USD per month, though you can pay extra for additional cloud storage.

Unfortunately, Capture One is quite expensive, and the pricing structure can be confusing, too. You can buy the program outright or rent it via a monthly subscription, and you can buy plans for specific camera brands, such as Sony, Fujifilm, or Nikon (these camera-specific plans are cheaper, but can only be used on images from certain cameras).

Capture One Pro is $299 USD for a new perpetual license, and subscription plans start at $19 USD per month. An annual prepaid subscription for Capture One for Fujifilm, Nikon, or Sony is $149 USD (which comes to around $12.50 USD per month).

Capture One vs Lightroom: final thoughts

Ultimately, the software you choose will be a reflection of your preferences, your skill level, and your budget.

Therefore, if you are a professional photographer who requires an integrated workflow from tethered shooting through to finished images, then Capture One is the best choice. It’s also the program to choose if you like advanced editing and color grading on adjustment layers. 

Lightroom, on the other hand, is great for beginners, intermediate, and pro photographers who don’t need the huge array of features and tools available in Capture One. Lightroom is also less expensive, plus it’s more pleasant to use.

I’ve used both programs extensively, and each has its own strong and weak points. If you’re still on the fence, I’d recommend you take the time to determine the features that are important to you in an image editor. That way, you can make an informed decision regarding the best program for your editing needs.

Now over to you:

Which program do you like better, Lightroom or Capture One? Which do you plan to purchase? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

The post Capture One vs Lightroom: Which Editing Program Is Best? (2021) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Dawn Gilfillan.

Leading Lines in Photography: The Essential Guide

Tue, 07/20/2021 - 06:00

The post Leading Lines in Photography: The Essential Guide appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Anne McKinnell.

What are leading lines in photography, and how can they improve your compositions?

In this article, you’ll discover everything you need to know about leading lines, including:

  • Why every photographer should learn how to use leading lines (hint: they can majorly increase a photo’s impact)
  • Plenty of easy places to look for leading lines
  • How to use lines for beautiful, three-dimensional images
  • Much more!

So if you’re ready to become an expert, then let’s get started!

Leading lines in photography: a definition

Leading lines refer to lines that lead the viewer’s eye from one part of a composition to another. Usually, these lines start at the bottom of the frame and guide the eye upward, from the foreground of the image to the background.

When used as a compositional technique, leading lines generally move toward the main subject of a photo. For instance, a river might lead the eye toward a fog-covered mountain in the background, or a log might lead the eye toward a stunning sunset.

Note that leading lines can be anything: rivers or logs, as mentioned in the examples above, but also marks on a road, pointed rocks on a beach, lines in the sand, the walls of a house – if it looks like a line and is capable of guiding the viewer’s eye, then it can work!

Why are leading lines important?

Leading lines guide the viewer through a composition.

So by carefully positioning leading lines in the frame, you can draw attention to areas of a photo that matter, like a beautiful mountain or sunset on the ocean. In other words, you can use leading lines to get the viewer to look where you want them to look – and avoid areas you’d prefer they avoid.

You can also use leading lines to create flow, often referred to as dynamism, throughout a composition. Leading lines naturally take the viewer on a journey around the photo, which keeps them engaged (always a good thing!).

Plus, leading lines are a great way to create three-dimensionality (i.e., depth) in an image. By emphasizing the start of a line before letting it fall away into the backdrop, you create a 3D illusion that looks incredible in scenic landscape photography.

How to use leading lines: the basics

Working with leading lines requires two simple steps:

  1. Find a leading line
  2. Incorporate that leading line into your composition

Of course, this is easier said than done, but neither of the above steps is actually difficult; they just take a bit of perseverance. Let’s look at each step in turn.

Step 1: Find leading lines

No matter where you live, and no matter where you like to take photos…

…leading lines are all around.

It might not seem likely, but it’s true. After all, remember that leading lines are just lines, and plenty of those exist, right? The key is to find them (and incorporate them creatively into your compositions, as I discuss in the next section).

So where, specifically, should you look for leading lines?

Personally, I think the best place to start is with a path; paths are inherently leading because they go somewhere, and the path edges often create a vanishing point on the horizon (the place where two or more lines converge at theoretical infinity). Plus, you can find paths all over the place – in forests, at parks, in the city, even in the countryside (roads count as paths!).

The leading lines of this road converge at a vanishing point.

But you can find plenty of other leading lines, too. While photographers certainly use paths in their compositions, they also work with patterns in the sand, fallen logs, bunches of flowers, interesting rocks, bridges, fences, and more. Here’s a whole list of items to consider:

Human-made leading lines

  • roads
  • fences
  • boardwalks
  • bridges
  • bricks
  • anything in a row, such as lamp posts
  • buildings
  • doorways
  • window panes

Natural leading lines

  • rivers
  • shorelines
  • waves
  • sand dunes
  • trees
  • tall grass
  • cliffs
  • rocks
  • sunrays

Of course, the list is hardly exhaustive; there are always more leading lines out there just waiting to be found! So the next time you’re setting up a shot, take a moment to examine the scene for prominent lines. You’re bound to find some good ones, even if it takes a bit of searching.

The logs on the beach lead the viewer’s eye into the frame and lead up to the house. Step 2: Incorporate leading lines into your composition

So you’ve found a leading line or two. Well done – but the work isn’t complete! Now it’s time to actually incorporate the leading lines into your composition, a deliberate, thoughtful process.

First, ask yourself: Where do I want this leading line to take the viewer? Oftentimes, the answer will involve an interesting feature in the background – such as a sunset – so you’ll need to adjust your camera position until the leading line points roughly in the right direction.

(If the leading line isn’t going where you want it to, you can try moving forward and backward or side to side along the line, or you can find another leading line that works better in your composition. A leading line that points away from your main subject is likely counterproductive.)

Next, ask yourself: Is the leading line interesting enough that it can act as a foreground subject? And can I get close enough to make it large in the frame?

If your leading line is interesting and you know you can get close, do it. The best photos often involve a strong leading line, one that draws the viewer into the foreground then leads them from foreground to background, like the stones in the photo below:

The soft leading line of the river’s edge creates depth.

Of course, some leading lines just can’t hold the viewer’s attention, or they’re not accessible, and that’s okay – leading lines are always powerful, even if they aren’t showstoppers. You can still use them, but make sure you find an interesting foreground subject that catches the eye or really tighten up your composition to focus on the main subject.

Finally, once you’ve roughly positioned your subject and any leading lines, evaluate the scene one more time. Think about ways that you could enhance the effects of the leading lines, perhaps by changing your camera position, by getting lower or higher, or even by using a wider or longer focal length.

Then take your shot!

Tips and tricks for working with leading lines

Now that you’re familiar with the basics, let’s discuss a few tips to improve your compositions with leading lines, starting with:

1. Use the widest lens you have available

You don’t need a wide-angle lens to create stunning leading line compositions.

But it really, really helps.

Why? Well, a wide-angle lens lets you capture an expansive scene – so you can position leading lines toward the bottom of the frame, then let them flow into the shot, slowly getting farther and farther away until they disappear (or reach your main subject).

Compare this to a telephoto composition, where the leading lines generally start close to the subject, then quickly terminate. Less dynamic, less interesting, and less three-dimensional.

Many landscape photographers shoot with ultra-wide focal lengths for this exact reason. They often find a leading line, use a wide-angle lens to emphasize it, and create a stunningly deep composition.

Make sense?

2. Don’t be afraid to incorporate multiple leading lines into a single composition

A single leading line is nice…

…but if you can find multiple leading lines, all guiding the viewer toward your main subject, your composition will be insanely strong.

For instance, you might use both edges of a road to point toward a distant mountain. Or you might use two lines in the sand – one starting in the bottom right, and one starting in the bottom left – to point toward a blue ocean.

Note that all of your leading lines should point toward the subject as much as possible. If the lines deviate from your subject, they’ll guide the viewer in the wrong direction, which will prevent them from fully appreciating the image. Getting two or more lines to converge toward your subject may take some creativity, but the end result will be worth it.

3. Use the near-far technique to create plenty of depth

The near-far technique is especially common in landscape photography. It’s a simple way to create tons of depth in your photos, and it’s how you can capture powerful photos like this one:

It’s also really simple to use. Here’s what you do:

First, make sure your leading line is suitably eye-catching. It should act as a subject in its own right – like an interesting rock or a patch of colorful flowers.

Second, make sure you use a wide focal length. I’d recommend working with at least 35mm (on a full-frame camera), but 24mm, 18mm, or even 14mm is better.

Third, mount your camera to a tripod and get down low over your subject. You want to make the leading line prominent in the frame, even if it means getting a few inches from your subject. And you’ll want to dial in a narrow aperture, such as f/8, f/11, or even f/16, in order to keep both the foreground and background sharp.

Your final shot will look incredible – with an interesting foreground subject, a line that leads the eye, plus (hopefully!) an interesting background subject to complete the composition.

How to use leading lines for better compositions: final words

Leading lines are the key compositional elements that carry our eye through a photograph. They can be used to tell a story, place emphasis, and draw a connection between two objects.

So start thinking about leading lines wherever you go. Practice finding leading lines in the chaos of everyday life. Your compositions will get very good, very fast!

Now over to you:

What do you think about leading lines? Do you plan to incorporate them into your photos? Do you have any examples of leading line photography? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

The post Leading Lines in Photography: The Essential Guide appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Anne McKinnell.

Reverse Lens Macro Photography: A Beginner’s Guide

Mon, 07/19/2021 - 06:00

The post Reverse Lens Macro Photography: A Beginner’s Guide appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Andrew S. Gibson.

If you want to capture beautiful close-up images but don’t want to spend hundreds (or thousands) on a macro lens, then you’ve come to the right place.

Because in this article, I’m going to explain everything you need to know about reverse lens macro photography. It’s a simple technique that lets you turn a standard lens into a macro lens so you can capture photos like this:

In fact, if you already own a 50mm prime lens or a standard kit lens (in the 18-55mm focal length range), then the reverse lens macro technique is the least expensive way to capture magnified images.

So let’s dive right in, starting with the absolute basics:

What is reverse lens macro photography?

Reverse lens macro photography is a method of capturing highly magnified images using an interchangeable lens camera, a lens, and a cheap adapter. You turn your lens around so the rear element points outward, then use an adapter to attach the reversed lens to your camera body (or to another lens).

In other words: You take your lens. You flip it around. And you’ll be able to shoot at macro magnifications.

If you’ve never seen the reverse lens macro technique, it may seem a bit strange – after all, why does reversing a standard lens let you shoot at high magnifications?

But it really does work, and the diagram below shows why. In normal use, a 50mm lens focuses light from far away to create a much smaller image, one that fits onto film or a digital sensor (which is often around 35mm wide). Reverse the lens and the opposite occurs: the 50mm lens magnifies what it sees, giving near life-size reproduction:

How to do reverse lens photography

There are two ways you can use the reverse lens macro technique:

1. Single lens reverse macro

This method involves reverse-mounting one lens to the front of your camera. First, purchase a reversing ring (also known as a reverse ring) like this one:

You can buy these adapters for cheap on Amazon. One side screws onto the end of your lens like a filter, while the other attaches to your lens mount. Here’s a reversing ring in action:

Note that the reverse macro technique works best if you use a lens with a manual aperture ring. That way, you can stop down to increase the zone of sharpness (which is very helpful because depth of field decreases as you get closer to your subject).

Unfortunately, if your reversed lens doesn’t have a manual aperture ring, you won’t be able to make any f-stop adjustments and you’ll be forced to work at your lens’s maximum aperture. But while this can be inconvenient, don’t let it stop you – you can use a reversed lens at its widest aperture to take some beautiful photos. You just have to get creative!

2. Twin lens reverse macro

This reverse lens macro technique is less popular but will get the job done. Instead of reverse-mounting one lens to your camera, you mount one lens normally, then reverse mount a second lens on the front of the first, like this:

I’ve attached a reversed 50mm lens to my 85mm prime lens. In this setup, the 85mm lens is called the primary lens and the reversed lens is called the secondary lens.

The actual mechanics are nearly identical to the single lens technique discussed above; simply purchase a coupler ring (shown below). Then use it to mount the second lens to the first.

Now, when using the twin lens reverse macro technique, the reversed lens acts like a powerful close-up filter, except that it’s much stronger than any filter I’ve encountered. In fact, the twin lens technique offers two major benefits over the single lens technique:

  1. It offers insanely close magnifications. Depending on the focal lengths you use, you can achieve up to 3x life-size reproduction. (That’s three times as close as most professional macro lenses!)
  2. It increases your depth of field flexibility. You can leave the reversed lens open at its widest aperture, while stopping down the primary lens to increase depth of field (even if you don’t have a manual aperture ring).

Note that you can do this technique with essentially any lenses, though the longer the focal length, the more magnification you’ll achieve. What’s most important is that the filter thread sizes on the two lenses match – that way, you can buy a coupler ring that will easily join them together.

(If your lenses have different filter threads, you do have the option of purchasing a step-up ring in addition to your coupler ring, but this can be inconvenient.)

Caring for the reversed lens

The reverse macro technique does leave the rear element of your reversed lens open to the elements, regardless of which method you use. So you should always work carefully to avoid scratching the exposed element.

If you have an extension tube, you can attach it to the back (now front) of the reversed lens, as I did in the photo above. This helps protect the rear element and also acts as a lens hood.

Also, because of the risks to the lens, I’d recommend using relatively cheap glass, like a 50mm f/1.8.

Image sharpness

The reversed lens technique gets you so close to your subject that it’s virtually impossible to handhold the camera. For the sharpest results, use a tripod to keep the camera steady and use a cable release to fire the shutter.

I find it best to use a reverse lens macro setup indoors, especially for delicate subjects like flowers. If you try it outside, the slightest breeze can move the flower and spoil the photo.

Of course, you can always embrace a blurry result and create some interesting abstract shots – but if your goal is to create magnified-yet-sharp photos, you’ll need to follow this advice closely.

If possible, stop down your primary lens to at least f/4. That way, you’ll get increased depth of field, and if you’re using the twin lens technique, it’ll help you avoid the softening that may happen when the first lens is at its widest aperture setting.

How to light reverse lens photography

As long as you don’t mind using a tripod and long shutter speeds to obtain the required exposure, natural light will work just fine.

However, flash is also an option. And you don’t need a specialized macro flash – I use a Canon Speedlite with a small softbox (though you’ll probably want to make sure you’re using an off-camera flash to avoid shadows cast by the lens).

A flash and a softbox were all I needed to take the photo featured above. Here’s a diagram of the setup:

In general, I’d recommend you start with natural light, unless you’re relatively familiar with artificial lighting. That way, you can experiment with different lighting qualities and directions and you don’t have to worry about complex lighting techniques.

What lens should you use for reverse macro shooting?

I’ve used a 50mm prime lens for the photos featured throughout this article. And a nifty fifty is a great way to get started with reverse lens macro photography.

But don’t forget that you can try this out with just about any lens (though I do recommend using a cheaper option, just in case your lens gets damaged). Kit lenses like the Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II (pictured above) work great.

Reverse lens macro photography: conclusion

Now that you’ve finished this article, you should be able to confidently create a macro photography setup (without spending lots of money on a dedicated macro lens).

Reverse lens macro photography is a lot of fun, so order your reverse ring and get shooting!

Now over to you:

Do you prefer the single lens reverse macro technique or the twin lens reverse macro technique? Do you have any tips for improved macro photography? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

The post Reverse Lens Macro Photography: A Beginner’s Guide appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Andrew S. Gibson.

10 Rural Landscape Photography Tips (+ Examples)

Sun, 07/18/2021 - 06:00

The post 10 Rural Landscape Photography Tips (+ Examples) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jeremy Flint.

Have you ever wondered how you can capture stunning images of rural landscapes? Whether you live and shoot in rural areas or you’re simply taking a trip to a rural location, this rural landscape photography guide is for you.

Specifically, you’ll discover:

  • The best lighting for rural landscape photos
  • Key tips to take your compositions to the next level
  • Ways to use weather for dramatic results
  • Much more!

Let’s dive right in, starting with…

What is rural landscape photography?

Rural landscape photography refers to “photography in the countryside” and covers the rural environment.

While rural landscapes often contain architecture – much the same as urban landscapes – rural landscape photography is more about capturing the life and elements found in the countryside. This can include humans in the landscape as well as elements of human influence.

Rural landscape photography can also encompass rural scenes including buildings, animals, and stunning countryside scenery.

Now that you understand what rural landscape photography actually is, here are some tips to help you capture your own rural landscapes:

1. Experiment with different rural subjects

Rural landscape photography offers you the chance to capture a whole range of interesting subjects, including:

  • Old barns
  • Towers
  • Churches
  • Machinery
  • Buildings in disrepair

You might also include modern rural elements, such as houses, working farms, and more.

When doing rural photography, don’t confine yourself to a single subject. Instead, experiment with all these different options. If you find an old barn, take the time to photograph it – and if you find a shiny new farmhouse, photograph that, too!

2. Shoot when the light is soft

You can photograph rural landscapes at any time of the day…

…but golden hour, blue hour, and nighttime offer some of the best times to get out with your camera. The light tends to be soft and flattering, perfect for rural subjects.

Golden hour provides a magical glow that can elevate your images, while blue hour adds a cool tone that works well with subjects such as old houses and derelict buildings.

If you prefer to photograph at night, you may need to be more creative, as the building lights will likely be switched off. I recommend taking a flashlight and painting light on your subject to make it more visible in the final photo.

3. Think about the sky (and the weather)

Want to capture creative rural landscape photos? Make sure you spend plenty of time thinking about the sky, which has the power to elevate – or ruin – your images.

Ask yourself: What type of atmosphere do I want to capture? For moody photos, you can head out during rain, snow, or fog. And for upbeat, colorful images, shoot in strong sunlight.

By the way, you’ll want to consider whether the sky should be included in your photo. On overcast days (where you don’t have much cloud moodiness, but you also don’t have any nice sky color), you may want to leave out the sky completely. But on stormy days, or during dramatic sunrises and sunsets, the sky will add an extra dimension to your photos.

4. Use architecture to anchor the viewer

I find that architecture makes for a great focal point in rural landscape photography; it often contrasts beautifully with nature.

Traditional structures can work great, especially barns with rugged, weathered facades. They’ll create a rustic look and feel, which can really capture the viewer’s imagination. For instance, take a look at this image of an old barn:

Other architecture that makes for interesting rural landscape images includes abandoned houses, old farms, and buildings that have been left behind by people moving to cities. You can capture their aging, rundown characteristics within the surrounding countryside.

5. Don’t be afraid to include people

People often make great subjects in the countryside! After all, they are an integral part of the rural landscape.

One great thing about rural settings is that there is always human activity. At farms, people can be seen tending to their land and farm animals. And people may be out riding horses, exercising, or operating machinery, all of which can make for beautiful images.

6. Animals and the rural landscape

When you go out into the countryside, you will always come across animals. These might be wild animals, which are often well hidden and harder to photograph. Or they might be captive animals, such as horses, cows, and sheep.

Take advantage of these photo opportunities. Experiment with different forms of lighting to create unique farm-animal images. And don’t be afraid to shoot when the weather gets foggy; it’ll offer plenty of stunning atmosphere to play with:

7. Carefully position your subject for better compositions

As with all landscape photography, composition is an essential part of the best rural photos – so it’s important you get it right.

Start by asking yourself: What is my main subject? What is it that interests me most about this scene? Then determine where you want to place that main subject in the frame.

You might put it right in the center of the shot, or you might put it off to one side. It often pays to remember the rule of thirds, which suggests you position your main subject about a third of the way into the frame (either vertically or horizontally).

Also consider whether you want to capture the entire countryside or if only part of it appeals to you. Wide-angle lenses are great for landscape shots, but don’t be afraid to go tight for a more intimate perspective, one that highlights details within the scene.

8. Use the right settings for sharp photos

For rural landscape photography, the best camera settings vary depending on the shots you’re after as well as the weather.

Generally speaking, a mid-range aperture of f/8 will give you an adequate depth of field to keep everything in focus, and this often works well. But if you want to throw parts of the frame out of focus, go with a wider aperture – f/4 is a good starting point, with f/2.8 decreasing the in-focus area even further.

You will want to keep the ISO fairly low, so go for an ISO of anything between 100 and 400. Any higher, and you’ll be risking unwanted noise – but if you’re shooting in low light, an ISO of 800 and beyond may still be necessary.

As for shutter speeds: If your scene includes moving subjects (such as a swaying horse), you’ll need at least 1/100s and probably more. For scenes without significant movement, I’d still recommend keeping your shutter speed above 1/60s or so (though you also have the option of using a tripod).

Of course, shutter speed often does involve experimentation. So don’t be afraid to test out different speeds and see what works best.

9. Head out when the weather is bad

It’s true:

Bright, sunny days – especially around sunrise or sunset – offer great conditions for rural landscape photos.

But shooting in bad weather can bring another level of drama to the scene. For instance, fog can add tons of atmosphere, rain can look gloriously dreary, and snow can take your photos to new heights.

So don’t confine yourself to good weather. Instead, be prepared to shoot whenever the rural landscape looks dramatic (which is often on the most unpleasant days!).

10. Take a walk in the landscape

Here’s your final rural landscape photography tip:

Take a walk. Head out with your camera. Have fun.

After all, the countryside is a beautiful place, and you never know what you may find. You might come across wildlife, blooming flowers, hay bales, and more – all great subjects for photography!

Rural landscape photography tips: conclusion

I hope you found these tips on rural landscape photography helpful. The countryside truly is a wonderful place to explore!

Now over to you:

Do you have any favorite rural landscape subjects? Do you have any tips for composition, lighting, or subject choice that we missed? Share your thoughts (and images!) in the comments below.

The post 10 Rural Landscape Photography Tips (+ Examples) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jeremy Flint.

How to Take Better Beach Portraits at Any Time of Day

Sat, 07/17/2021 - 06:00

The post How to Take Better Beach Portraits at Any Time of Day appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

Are you struggling to work with light during beach portrait photoshoots? You’re not alone.

But while doing beach photography can be tough, don’t worry – because there are a few simple tips and tricks you can use to keep your beach portraits looking gorgeous, even at high noon. And that’s what this article is all about.

Specifically, we’ll share:

  • The best times of day to do beach photography
  • How to shoot in bright sunlight and still come away with flattering shots
  • An easy way to use the light for artistic beach portraits
  • Much more!

Let’s dive right in, starting with our number one tip:

1. Know where the sun is at all times

To capture stunning beach portraits, you need to know where the sun is, no matter the time of day. That way you know when to schedule a photoshoot, where to set up your camera, where to position your subject, and how the light will change over the course of your session.

The easiest way to do this is to use an ephemeris app (I personally use this one). It’s a tool that can help you see where the sun will be at all times. Note that an ephemeris can show you the position of the sun anywhere in the world, so simply plug in the location of your photoshoot, and you can see all of the important details.

Using an ephemeris app, you can see where (and when) the sun will move across the sky.

So before – or even while – you’re scheduling your session, quickly check this tool to see the sunrise, midday, and sunset positions and times.

This is really helpful since no beach is alike and the direction of light differs from one side of the world to another. For example, in California, the sun sets behind the beach, whereas on the East Coast, the sun sets in the opposite direction.

Also, different beaches may face different directions, so it’s good to know where the sun will be during your session.

2. Morning light is a great time to do beach portraits

Morning light on a beach is magical. It has a whole different color temperature than evening golden hour, and it can provide a nice soft glow if you have your session early enough.

The light is a little bluer in the mornings, and depending on the beach where your session is taking place, the sun can rise over the ocean or peek through the trees. A beach on the East Coast may let you catch the sunrise while photographing.

Alternatively, on a beach in California, you’ll catch the sun hitting the water from the land side. This will give you a beautiful yellowish-blue glow on the water if your session is within a few hours of sunrise.

On the left, we see the sun rising behind the bay. At right, the sun casts shadows around midday.

If the morning light is causing unwanted shadows, use a simple reflector to bounce light back onto your subject. This is especially useful if sunrise is behind the water at the beach.

3. Use flash or reflectors to deal with midday light

Midday light at a beach is pretty harsh. Therefore, it’s good to have some kind of additional lighting equipment to help with shadows. You can use an external flash, pop-up flash, or a reflector.

Seeing the shadows in front of your clients means the sun is behind them. This family is lit with an external flash, one that’s mounted on-camera (and pointed straight ahead).

You can also go without an additional light source. If you choose this route, however, it’s good to underexpose your photos a bit so you can bring up the shadows in your editing software. Otherwise, you’ll end up with blown-out skies. Of course, this all depends on your style of photography.

When the sun is at its highest point during the day, it might be a good time to take your clients under the shade of some trees or opt to capture playful photos of the family. Have your clients walk, run, splash in the water, build sandcastles, or just have a bit of fun together.

The sun is at its highest at different times around the world, so make sure to check the ephemeris to know exactly when to expect high noon.

Same session, same beach, one photo with flash and one photo without.

Once the sun passes the highest point, it will be at a bit of an angle as it starts to go down for sunset. That’s the sweet spot for photographing during the midday hours at the beach.

Here, I used flash to correctly expose the photo and fill in shadows caused by the sun.

When the sun is at a bit of an angle, you can pose your clients with the sun behind them to keep the light out of their eyes. This means you’ll be in the sun, but it’s better than having your clients facing the sun directly; that way, you can avoid unflattering shadows, uneven lighting, and squinting. The sand can also work as a natural reflector, bouncing light back into their faces.

The sand can act as a natural reflector and bounce light back onto your clients. 4. Keep your portrait subjects facing away from the sun just after midday

Light after midday can be different in the winter compared to the summer, but the sun will always sit lower in the sky compared to high noon. I recommend you position your clients so they’re looking away from the sun; that way, the sun starts to fall behind them (and this will prevent the issues I discussed in the previous section).

After midday is actually a pretty great time to do beach portraits. Depending on the angle of light, you can get some really interesting light, and it’ll get more and more golden as you approach sunset.

If you angle your subjects away from the sun but you’re still getting harsh, unflattering light, you may want to consider using a reflector or some fill flash to deal with those unwanted shadows.

5. Use a flash or a silhouette technique during the golden hours (sunset)

Actual sunset only lasts about 5-10 minutes. However, golden hour begins about an hour before the sun dips below the horizon, which means the angle of the light is pretty low and directional. And while golden hour light is beautiful and warm, it also makes it difficult to capture your clients evenly against the background.

It can be especially troublesome if the sun sets over the water because you’ll struggle to capture the beautiful colors while also lighting your clients.

So to light your clients while including the sunset in the background, bring along a flash or external light source. You can also underexpose your photos a bit, then bring up the shadows later without compromising the sunset.

You can also try silhouetting your clients with the sunset light to offer a different look to the final images:

One more quick tip: Golden hour is the perfect time to turn your clients toward the setting sun. That way, you can capture that beautiful golden color cast on their skin and hair, plus it’ll contribute to the overall look of the photos.

6. Use a slow shutter speed (and potentially a tripod) during blue hour

Blue hour is the 20 to 30 minutes (sometimes less) after the sun has completely disappeared from view. Blue hour is a great time to photograph because of the beautiful colors like blue, orange, pink, and purple that come out after sunset. The lighting is a bit darker, so you may need a tripod.

During the blue hour, you can get some additional light on your clients by facing them toward the spot where the sun has set.

Ask your clients to hold still and attempt some slow shutter speed photos. Capturing movement in water can create a more fine-art beach portrait result.

7. Try these beach portrait ideas… Cloudy days are perfect for beach portraits. However, you might not get an especially bright sunset (compared to a clear day).

It doesn’t matter the time of day; it’s good to include variety in your beach portraits. For that, try some of these ideas:

  • Use rock formations/caves as backgrounds and also as shelter from harsh light.
  • Trees can provide shade if the light is harsh and the day is particularly hot.
  • While you’re waiting for the midday sun to angle a bit, the nearby town can also serve as a nice background.
  • Getting up high can keep clients out of harsh sunlight. For example, you could use a balcony in a hotel room, a higher terrace with some shade that overlooks the ocean, etc.
  • Photographing lifestyle-type photos with the family playing, getting in the water, and just having a “beach day” is a good way to spice up the photoshoot.
If you are waiting for the sun to go down a bit, you can take some portraits near trees that aren’t on the beach. This also adds variety to the final set of images. Beach portrait tips: conclusion

Now that you’ve finished this article, you’re ready to capture some beautiful beach photos – so get out with your camera and have fun!

Over to you:

Do you have any tips for shooting at the beach? What’s your favorite beach photography lighting? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

The post How to Take Better Beach Portraits at Any Time of Day appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

The Weekly Photography Challenge – Patterns

Fri, 07/16/2021 - 16:00

The post The Weekly Photography Challenge – Patterns appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Sime.

We see patterns in many places, repetition in shapes and objects, buildings, fences, patterns are everywhere! This week we want you to find and photograph a pattern a pattern a pattern a pattern! (sorry, dadjoke)

You must take a new photograph for this weekly challenge, how else are you going to sharpen your skills! Make sure you post it on social media and share it with the tag #dPSPatterns or share it in the comments below this blog post.

Make sure you revisit any weekly challenges that you haven’t been able to complete, you can see them all over here

Photo by Victor Garcia on Unsplash

Patterns come in many shapes and sizes, above on a building, in architecture you’ll generally find patterns, and below, in the sand at the beach… Where will you go to find your pattern for this week’s challenge?

Photo by Maria Afanasyeva on Unsplash

Or this epic pile of tyres! Some great photos by the myriad of creators on Unsplash, I’ve had to resort to that website this week as none of mine were any good! I pledge to find and photograph a ‘pattern’ this week! — Simon

Photo by Imthaz Ahamed on Unsplash

As ever, some help with sharing your photo in the comments below (don’t click on this photo to upload your photo, scroll down to the Disqus section, log in, THEN click on the little camera icon in the comments)

Simply upload your shot into the comments field (look for the little camera icon in the Disqus comments section) and they’ll get embedded for us all to see. Or, if you’d prefer, upload them to your favorite photo-sharing site and leave the link to them.

Thanks for joining in! We can’t wait to see your photos!


The post The Weekly Photography Challenge – Patterns appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Sime.

Canon May Release a “$799 Full-Frame Camera” in 2022

Fri, 07/16/2021 - 06:00

The post Canon May Release a “$799 Full-Frame Camera” in 2022 appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

A full-frame, RF-mount camera for the price of an entry-level, crop-sensor model. Could it be done?

It sounds outlandish, but according to Canon Rumors, such a camera may not be far off. As CR reported earlier this week, while Canon’s plans aren’t yet set in stone, the company “is aiming to release a full-frame, RF-mount camera for under $800 in 2022.”

Of course, Canon Rumors is all about, well, rumors, and any official confirmation from Canon is many months out. But this $799 camera tidbit comes from “a pretty solid source with a decent track record,” and CR notes that they “do believe there is something to this just by what [they] have been shown.”

And if the rumor is true and Canon does succeed in creating a full-frame mirrorless camera for $799 USD? It would be a revolutionary move, pushing the boundaries of affordable, entry-level models beyond anything done before.

At the time of writing, a significant divide exists between full-frame cameras on the one hand and APS-C cameras on the other. With few exceptions, APS-C cameras are aimed at the beginner-to-enthusiast crowd, as reflected in their prices, lens offerings, and other specifications; most of Canon’s APS-C cameras, for instance, debut for less than $1000, including recent mirrorless models such as the M50 Mark II and M6 Mark II (body only).

Full-frame cameras, on the other hand, start where APS-C cameras leave off. Canon’s cheapest full-frame mirrorless model to date, the EOS RP, clocked in at $1299 when released. And Canon’s cheapest full-frame DSLR, the Canon EOS 6D Mark II, currently goes for $1399, body only. For plenty of beginners and even many serious enthusiasts, these price points are prohibitive, especially when factoring in the cost of full-frame lenses.

Sure, the crop-sensor models of 2021 are powerful. And there are reasons to pick crop-sensor models over full-frame models, as cameras like the Canon 7D/7D Mark II show. But APS-C cameras struggle to compete with their full-frame counterparts in one key area, and it’s a big one:

Image quality.

Because that’s what this is all about: full-frame sensors are larger, which means (all else being equal) better high-ISO performance, improved dynamic range, and the opportunity for higher resolutions. If Canon could pack full-frame quality into an entry-level-priced body, it would open up the advantages of full-frame imaging to everyone, beginners and professionals alike.

As Canon Rumors points out, “Even launching a new full-frame camera at $999 would be quite welcomed…If Canon could get the camera and a kit lens for under $1000 USD, they’d have themselves a winner.”

2022 is a long way off, and plans can fail, but let’s hope that Canon forges ahead. Keep an eye out for more information, and in the meantime, share your thoughts in the comments below!

What do you think of a sub-$800 full-frame, RF-mount camera? Would it interest you? And if Canon is successful, would it be the beginning of the end of APS-C cameras?

The post Canon May Release a “$799 Full-Frame Camera” in 2022 appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

A Beginner’s Guide to Long Exposure Street Photography

Thu, 07/15/2021 - 06:00

The post A Beginner’s Guide to Long Exposure Street Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Rick Ohnsman.

You may have done some long exposure photos and perhaps a bit of street photography. But have you combined these two genres for long exposure street photography?

Consider this: Photographs are frozen slices of time, and your camera is a time machine capable of freezing or stretching a moment. A short shutter speed can freeze things that happen far too fast to see. With a long shutter duration, motion is blurred, stretching time. When photographing in busy urban environments where people, vehicles, and other things are on the move, long exposures can create a sense of motion in a static photograph.

Late in the day when the light was fading, by dropping the ISO to 50 and stopping down to f/22, I was able to get a 1.3-second shutter speed, enough to blur this subject walking past the camera. Note the degree to which he is blurred compared to other people farther away in the shot.

I’d never before considered this quote from the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off to have photography implications, but considering what we’ll explore here, I like what it says:

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Ferris Bueller

Taking photos is one way we “stop and look around.” It’s also a way we share what we see with others. But a limitation of still photographs is they are a 2D, static representation of a 3D, moving world. So how can we better communicate motion in a still photo? A long exposure that leaves the shutter open for an extended period will cause moving images to be rendered as blurs. That look communicates motion to the viewer.

So let’s talk about the mechanics of how to do long exposure street photography.

Midday and in full sun; even at the minimal ISO of 50 and an aperture of f/22, I had to use a variable ND filter to cut the light for a 1-second shutter speed. Note the difference in blur between the moving subjects and those seated. Where to go for the best long exposure street photography

If you’re going to depict motion, you want to go somewhere where things are moving. Busy locations where people, vehicles, and other things are on the move will work well. A busy city street or intersection might be a perfect spot. You could also try a sporting event where the participants are in motion.

For long exposure night photography (which we’ll discuss in greater depth), locations with moving lights and illuminated vehicles work well. Also, consider the interesting looks that can be created when your photograph combines static and dynamic elements. One person standing still in a crowd of moving people can make for an impactful image using the long exposure technique.

When people walk, their feet are temporarily still – just for a moment – with each step. Even with a 2-second shutter speed, as in the photo above, while the bodies blur, the steps are visible. Low evening light, a low ISO, and a small aperture allowed for the 2-second shutter (no ND filter was needed). A still camera in a moving world

You likely want the motion in your photos to be created by the movement of your subjects, not by the movement of your camera. Handholding your camera and keeping it still during a multi-second exposure will be very difficult, so a tripod is a good idea.

(Though consider if you will be able to use a tripod on a busy city sidewalk or other crowded environments. Creating a hazard where someone could trip over a tripod leg is not something you want to do.)

There is also the “attraction of attention factor.” I will confess: I have not done a lot of street photography because of my personal trepidation about having to engage with strangers who want to know why I’m taking their photo on a street corner. Should I decide street photography is something I want to pursue further, that’s something I’ll need to get past.

A high vantage point off a pier assured no one was paying much attention to me as the photographer. A 6-stop ND filter, a low ISO of 50, and a small aperture of f/18 were all needed to deal with the bright sun and get this 8-second exposure.

That said, I guarantee that you will attract even more attention and possible questions if you set up a tripod and a professional-looking camera on a busy street corner and start taking photos of passersby. Perhaps you could find other ways to brace your camera aside from a tripod. Maybe even figure out how to do long exposures with your cell phone to reduce the attention factor.

(If this isn’t a concern for you, more power to you; you’ve already dealt with a major barrier to being a great street photographer.)

What is a long exposure?

Your objective here is to make “long exposures” so that your subjects move during the shot. So how do we define long exposure photography?

An object will render as blurred in a photograph if it changes position from the time the shutter opens until the time it closes. Two factors will determine the amount of blur:

  • The speed of the moving object relative to the duration the shutter is open
  • The relative distance the subject moves during the exposure.

Let’s use a moving car as an example. Say you have a shutter speed of 1/30s. You are taking a photo of a car moving at 40 mph. If the car is relatively close to the camera, it could move completely across the frame and thus be rendered as a complete blur. But if the same car, still traveling at 40 mph, was in the distance and relatively small in the frame, it would only move a relatively short distance across the frame in that same 1/30s – and thus wouldn’t show as much blur.

The car in this shot was moving quite slowly, so I needed to drop the shutter speed to 0.6 seconds for some noticeable blur. This car moved perpendicular to the camera, stayed fairly close, and moved completely across the frame during my 1-second exposure, thus rendering as nothing but a blur.

So to simplify, the distance an object moves across the frame during the exposure is what will determine its blurriness. Even relatively slow-moving objects can be blurred if the exposure time is long enough. Take a close-up of a snail with a 5-minute exposure, and you could quite possibly have it appear motion blurred, too!

It’s that exposure triangle thing again

I hope you know what I mean when I speak of the “exposure triangle” – the relationship between ISO, shutter speed, and aperture when making a properly exposed photograph. If you’re not completely familiar, I’d recommend you stop what you’re doing and read all about it here.

Now, if you’re going to make long exposures that are well exposed, you’ll need full control over your shutter speed. There are two basic modes you can use to achieve this: Shutter Priority mode (Tv on Canon cameras, S on Nikons and some other cameras), or full Manual (M) mode.

In either case, you will be able to pick a shutter speed and lock it in. (We’ll talk about choosing a shutter speed in a minute.)

1/60s isn’t what we’d normally consider a “long exposure,” but panning the camera with a fast-moving subject blurs the background while keeping the subject sharp.

Let’s assume you decide to make a 2-second exposure. Let’s also assume you are in Shutter Priority mode.

When you meter the scene, your shutter speed will be 2 seconds. Your aperture and ISO (if you are using Auto ISO), will “float,” automatically switching to a setting for a proper exposure. Depending on the ambient light, you might get something like 2 seconds at f/11 and ISO 1000. Locking the shutter speed and letting the camera determine aperture and ISO will allow you to get a proper exposure at the shutter duration you choose.

Using Manual mode can give you even greater creative control. Say you set your shutter speed for the same 2 seconds but stop down to f/16 for some additional depth of field. Your ISO can be adjusted to maintain the right exposure, and you’ll get the same 2-second exposure but at f/16 and ISO 2000.

If you are in Manual mode, you get to do all the adjustments yourself. Assuming you want the same 2-second shutter speed, you dial that in. Then you can adjust either the aperture, ISO, or both to center the exposure bar indicator and get a proper exposure. Should you decide to capture multiple shots from the same spot and the light remains constant, you shouldn’t need to make any additional adjustments.

Two important factors

How you choose your long exposure street photography settings will depend on two important factors:

  1. Your desired shutter speed
  2. Ambient light in your scene

So ask yourself:

  • What shutter speed do I want? Like so much of photography, the answer here is probably “it depends.” How much are the subjects in your shot moving? How fast? How close are they to the camera? What is your desired look? On a crowded street with lots of pedestrians scurrying about, you might be able to make everyone completely disappear in your photo if you use a several-minute exposure. Is that the look you want? Experimentation is the best way to learn the perfect shutter speed for this kind of photography. Try different things, “chimp” your shots, adjust and try again. You will get a feel for what you like and what works best in different situations.
  • What are the ambient light conditions? You might decide you’d like a 30-second exposure but are out shooting in the middle of the day in bright sunshine. Even stopping down to f/22 and ISO 50, a 30-second exposure might not be possible without drastically overexposing the image. Long exposure night images, taken when you don’t have much ambient light to deal with, are much easier. At night, instead of lowering the ISO, you might need to raise it. The same 30-second night image might be something like 30 seconds at f/4 and ISO 1600.

The amount of light you have to work with will impact what you can do. Long exposures in low light are usually easier, as you can always open up your aperture to its widest setting and crank up the ISO (noise is still a consideration but less so thanks to improved sensor technology). But how do you make a long exposure when there’s too much light and the smallest aperture and lowest ISO won’t get you the shutter speed you want?

A cloudy day, an ISO of 50, and an aperture of f/32 coupled with panning the camera along with the action enabled me to get this impressionistic image of kids playing soccer. Reach for the “sunglasses”

On a bright, sunny day when the light becomes too intense for our eyes, we’ll often reach for a pair of sunglasses to reduce the brightness. We can do the same for our cameras with neutral density filters (ND filters), which offer different levels of darkness. We can use ND filters to reduce the light hitting the camera sensor, and thus get long shutter durations even in bright conditions.

Here’s an example: You meter the scene, and at your smallest aperture of f/22 and an ISO of 50, the slowest shutter speed you could use and still get a proper exposure is 0.8 seconds. So grab your 6-stop ND filter, add it to the front of your lens, and you’ll be able to use an 8-second exposure. (A 10-stop ND filter could take you all the way to a 2-minute exposure!)

Even with a minimal ISO of 50 and an f/10 aperture, a variable ND was needed to reduce the midday sun and get a 1/8s shutter speed, not a particularly “long” exposure.

Using ND filters and calculating exposures takes a little study and practice, but the advantage is being able to take long exposures in bright conditions where it would otherwise not be possible. (A nice app to have on your cellphone is an ND filter exposure calculator like this one from Lee, a filter manufacturer: for Android/for iOS).

Lights at night

We’re very accustomed to seeing nighttime long exposures, and light trails caused by moving vehicles are quite easy to photograph, so long as you have a tripod or way to stabilize your camera.

Decide how long you want your exposure to last. Then in Shutter Priority mode, pick an aperture. If you’re set to use Auto ISO, the camera should pick the ISO setting for you. Of course, if you’re in Manual mode, you get to pick all three settings.

Again, determine your desired shutter speed, pick an aperture, and then adjust the ISO to a setting where you get a proper exposure. It could take some trial and error, but once you get everything dialed in, you will be able to make repeated shots without too much need for further adjustment.

I made a lot of shots to get the look I was after with this image of rush-hour traffic in Boise, Idaho. During the “blue hour” with limited light, I was able to keep the ISO at 100, the aperture at f/13, and a 15-second shutter speed. Nighttime long exposure is often easier than daylight long exposure (as you now know, too much light requires the use of neutral density filters). A different way to create some motion: Put the camera on a tripod in the back seat of your vehicle. Strap it down (or bring an assistant). ISO 100 helps keep down the noise and f/7.1 is a good sharp spot, at least for my Tamron lens. Take a downtown drive and trigger the camera with a 6-second exposure. Try different shutter speeds and take lots of shots. You might get one you like! Freeway traffic with a 2.5-second shutter speed… I then stopped down to f/22 and tried a 15-second shutter speed. You will find it beneficial when doing long exposure images to experiment with different shutter durations. You will get different looks depending on the speed of your subject, proximity to the camera, and various other factors. A passing car adds some additional interest to this 10-second exposure of the Idaho Capitol building in Boise. Beyond the mechanics

Working out the camera mechanics when making long exposures is a matter of determining how to get a long exposure in any given lighting conditions. The rest of making an interesting image is no different than with other kinds of photography. Determine if there’s a “story” you want to tell. Decide how to compose your shot. Use compositional guidelines, vary your perspective, and try different shutter speeds to create different looks.

For street photos of people, it can be interesting to go out with a model, someone who will work with you and pose as needed. Put them in a busy location, but instruct them to stay still while you make your shot. They will remain sharp in the shot while the moving passersby will blur. The contrast of static and dynamic between your frozen model and the people moving and blurring can create some dramatic looks.

The woman on the corner was not my model, but this illustrates the concept. She remained relatively still during the 0.6 second exposure, while the other people walked across the crosswalk. It’s a good example of the static/dynamic image you can make, particularly if you take a model with you. Add a flash

Here’s something else you can try:

Put a speedlight on your camera and set it up for second-curtain sync. (If you’re unfamiliar with the technique, make sure to read up on it!)

What you’re after is a long exposure that will motion-blur moving people or objects – but then, just before the shutter closes, the flash will fire. Moving elements will have a blur of motion behind them but be frozen by the burst of flash, like this:

Here, 1/8s was long enough to blur the action. A pop of flash using second-curtain sync was enough to freeze a part of the image. The final result is both dynamic and static at the same time.

Just be aware that, if you thought shooting with a tripod on a busy city street might attract attention, firing a flash will make it clear you’re taking photos. What’s nice about having a model with you is that people will assume you’re making photos of the model and not be as concerned about you making photos of them. You’ll even get lots of apologies from people who say, “Sorry, I got in your shot,” not knowing that was your intent all along.

In early evening without much light, I reduced the ISO to 50 and stopped down to f/16. With a 1.6-second shutter speed, you might get a look like this. The camera was mounted on a tripod, and I tripped the shutter nonchalantly as these people walked by. Go hit the streets

Learning the mechanics of long exposure street photography is the easy part. Getting out on the streets and making photos, particularly with people in them, is the bigger challenge, especially if you haven’t done much street photography before.

If you pride yourself on being a people person, that will come in handy in this genre of photography. The rest, as they say, is practice. Best wishes!

Now over to you:

Do you have any favorite tips or techniques for long exposure street photography? And do you have any long exposure images you’re proud of? Share them in the comments below!

The post A Beginner’s Guide to Long Exposure Street Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Rick Ohnsman.

How to Whiten Teeth in Lightroom (Step-by-Step Guide)

Wed, 07/14/2021 - 06:00

The post How to Whiten Teeth in Lightroom (Step-by-Step Guide) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.

Are you wondering how to whiten teeth in Lightroom? Lightroom makes teeth whitening easy, thanks to a pre-installed preset that you can fine-tune to your liking.

Not every smile needs the same amount of whitening, though. That’s why, in this guide, I’ll show you how to use Lightroom’s preset, but also how to customize it and create different presets of your own.

Let’s get started!

How to whiten teeth in Lightroom: the basics

Here’s a quick step-by-step guide to teeth whitening (using Lightroom’s pre-installed preset):

Step 1: Import your image

Unless you’ve already imported your image into the Lightroom catalog, this should be your first step. Select File>Import Photos and Video, then look through your files and import the one you need.

Alternatively, you can drag and drop your image into the Library workspace.

Regardless, remember that Lightroom is non-destructive – so no matter how you import your file, you’ll be adjusting a copy, not the original.

Step 2: Move to the Develop module

Importing occurs in the Library module. So once your photo has been added to the Lightroom catalog, it’s time to switch workspaces and enter the Develop module.

Simply hit the Develop button at the top:

In the Develop module, you’ll find all of Lightroom’s photo-editing tools. If you want to add any general edits to your photos or you’re thinking of applying a preset, you’ll do it in the Develop module. It’s also where all the teeth-whitening magic will happen.

Step 3: Enable the Adjustment Brush

On the righthand side, you have your tools inside different editing panels. Toward the top, between the Histogram and the Basic panel, you’ll find the selective adjustment tools.

Click to enable the Adjustment Brush (or hit the K key):

Lightroom will open the Adjustment Brush panel, where you can create masks, adjust the Brush options, and edit the selected area.

Step 4: Select the teeth

You’ll start by preparing to select the teeth. First, scroll down until you find the Brush settings, then adjust the size and feathering (the best settings will depend on your particular image).

Note that you’ll probably need a smaller Brush when selecting near the edges of teeth. Fortunately, you can create two saved Brushes (with the A and B choices). Otherwise, you can use the bracket keys to enlarge or shrink the Brush size while working.

I recommend you enable Auto Mask. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a tool that helps you select a specific area by recognizing edges.

You can also enable Show Selected Mask Overlay – you’ll find it under the image, and it will allow you to see where you’re actually painting the mask.

Finally, brush over the teeth. Zoom in if necessary and make sure you work very carefully.

Step 5: Apply the Teeth Whitening preset (optional)

Once you’ve brushed over the teeth, go ahead and disable the Selected Mask Overlay; now it’s time to apply adjustments to the selected area.

Because teeth whitening is such a common retouch, Lightroom already has a Teeth Whitening preset. If you want to use it, open the Effect drop-down menu and select Teeth Whitening. Your subject’s teeth should get whiter, and if you like the effect, great! It may be all you need, in which case you can hit Done.

Alternatively, you may want to use the preset as a starting point, then make further adjustments (as discussed in the next section).

Notice that once you apply the preset, sliders will change. The exposure will increase to 0.40 and saturation will be set at -60.

Step 6: Adjust the edits

If you don’t want to use the preset, or if you want to fine-tune the preset’s effect, you can manually move the sliders.

First, adjust the exposure and saturation to fit your image. You’ll also want to check the temperature – if the teeth are looking too yellow, slightly move the Temp slider to the left.

Keep zooming in and out to check the overall result because you don’t want the white to look fake. You can see a before and after version by selecting View>Before/After.

Remember that the Before view will show you the imported image. So if you make general adjustments to your image, whiten the teeth, and display the Before view, the preview will be stripped of all its edits, not just the teeth whitening.

Step 7: Save the preset (optional)

If you like your whitening effect, you can save it as a preset. Head to the Presets panel, then click the plus sign and select Create Preset.

A dialog window will pop up where you can check the elements that you want to include in your preset. Then all you have to do is name the preset, and it will be saved for you to use on other photos!

When should you whiten teeth? When you’re applying presets or making color adjustments to your photos, keep an eye on how it affects the teeth. Use the Adjustment Brush as shown in this guide to correct the color.

Now that I’ve explained how to whiten teeth in Lightroom, let’s see when you should do it. Teeth aren’t naturally fully white, and each person has different tones of teeth. So you shouldn’t add teeth whitening as a default part of your workflow. Instead, use it in specific situations:

When your edits changed the original color of the teeth

If you apply a color filter, change the white balance, or move the color settings of your entire image, you might end up with unnatural-looking teeth, in which case whitening is a good idea.

That said, when you whiten the teeth, make sure they still match the overall mood and ambiance of the picture. For example, if you apply a vintage filter and then make the teeth super white, they will stand out…in a bad way.

When the teeth weren’t lit properly

Sometimes, an unflattering shadow makes the teeth look dark or stained. But you can easily fix this problem by adding more light with the Exposure slider.

Also, certain lighting might cause yellowish teeth. For example, using tungsten light or a golden reflector might give a pleasing warm tone to the skin while also causing the teeth to look yellowish. In this case, a white balance adjustment selectively applied to the teeth will go a long way.

Another common problem: teeth reflect colors from objects that are nearby. So if your model has a colorful prop or object close to their mouth, the teeth might show a hint of color.

When your model asks you

As I was mentioning before, teeth might be underexposed because of a light problem during the photoshoot or because of color editing during post-processing. If you’re whitening the teeth to correct any of these issues, then there’s not much conflict.

However, sometimes the person has natural discoloration – and if that is the case, don’t automatically add teeth whitening as part of your workflow. Wait for your model to ask (and if they don’t ask, then don’t make any changes!).

You should never alter how a person looks without their consent. If the client hasn’t asked you for any aesthetic changes, you shouldn’t assume they want them.

5 tips for whitening teeth in Lightroom

By following the step-by-step teeth whitening guide shared above, you’ll be able to retouch your images without any problems.

But these extra tips will help you get even better results, starting with:

1. Understand editing pins

When you’re using the Adjustment Brush, you’ll notice that a gray dot (i.e., an editing pin) appears when you click on the image.

Anytime you need to go back to edit that selection, just click on the pin to make the selection active once more. (If the pins are distracting, you can press the H key to make them invisible.)

If you overcorrected or you’re somehow unhappy with the results, you can reactivate the selection by clicking on the corresponding edit pin. 2. Fix a selection

If you accidentally select the gums, lips, or anything that’s not supposed to be affected by the teeth whitening, don’t worry – you can always use the Erase tool!

Inside the Adjustment Brush panel, next to the Brush A B presets, you’ll see the word Erase. After clicking it, you’ll be able to erase your selection. (Alternatively, you can hold the Alt key, which will toggle the Eraser option.)

3. Keep in mind the person’s age

Remember that teeth discoloration is part of the natural process of aging. If you want to keep your photo retouching realistic, don’t overdo it. Consider that a younger model should probably have whiter teeth than an older one (this is one of the reasons you can’t use the same settings for every photo).

4. Take a break

This advice is useful for any type of retouching – whenever you’re done, take a break and come back later.

Sometimes you’re so focused on a specific part of the image that you lose track of the bigger picture. So close the computer for a while or go outside to get some natural light and rest your eyes. Then come back and see the photo again. If you’re satisfied, that’s great – but if you’re not, then just make some more adjustments!

5. Download presets

If you don’t love post-processing, or if you want to improve your post-processing without extra work, remember that you can always buy presets or download freebies from professional photo retouchers and fellow photographers!

How to whiten teeth in Lightroom: conclusion

Okay, now you know how to whiten teeth in Lightroom – and I hope you agree that it’s super easy!

So practice your teeth whitening. Improve your photos. And if you run into any problems while adjusting your pictures, don’t hesitate to ask questions in the comments section.

Now over to you:

Do you have any tips for teeth whitening? Have you tried to whiten teeth before? How did it turn out? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

The post How to Whiten Teeth in Lightroom (Step-by-Step Guide) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.

What Is ISO? A Simple Guide to ISO in Photography

Tue, 07/13/2021 - 06:00

The post What Is ISO? A Simple Guide to ISO in Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Darren Rowse.

What is ISO? Why does ISO matter? And most importantly, when should you use a high ISO vs a low ISO for the best image quality?

In this article, I’m going to answer all of these questions – and more. ISO might seem like a complex topic, but by the time you’ve finished, you’ll be an absolute master (and you’ll be able to confidently choose the perfect ISO for every shooting situation).

Sound good? Let’s get started.

What is ISO in photography?

ISO refers to your camera’s sensitivity to light. The higher the ISO, the more sensitive your camera sensor becomes, and the brighter your photos appear.

ISO is measured in numbers. Here are a few standard ISO values: 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200.

That said, pretty much every camera offers intermediate ISO values (for instance, ISO 125 and ISO 160 between ISO 100 and ISO 200). And most cameras these days include additional ISOs on the high end of the range, such as ISO 6400, ISO 12800, ISO 25600, and beyond.

Note that, while ISO is mostly discussed in a digital context, film cameras use ISO, as well – every roll of film has a particular ISO, or sensitivity, that contributes to the image brightness.

What does “ISO” stand for?

ISO refers to the “International Organization for Standardization.”

Technically, it’s not an acronym – the International Organization for Standardization has different names in different languages, so to make things easier, they adopted the shortened “ISO” moniker, designed to be used across all languages.

For the purposes of photography, the name isn’t important. Just think of ISO as your camera’s sensitivity to light, and you’ll do just fine!

ISO and exposure: why ISO matters

By increasing the ISO, you make your photos brighter.

That’s why ISO is important.

In other words, ISO works alongside the other two exposure variablesaperture and shutter speed – to determine the overall brightness level of an image.

Dial in an ISO of 100, and your image might look dark. Boost that ISO to 200, and your image will become brighter. Boost it to 400, and your image will become brighter still.

Your ISO setting could be the difference between a dark image like this:

And a much brighter image like this:

Can you see why this might be useful? If you’re shooting a scene in low light – outside at night or at an indoor event – your photos might keep turning out dark. But boost the ISO, and your shots will brighten right up.

Even in decent light, boosting the ISO can be beneficial. You might need an ultra-fast shutter speed to capture a moving race car, yet raising the shutter speed lowers the exposure and can create a too-dark image. So instead of raising just the shutter speed, you increase the shutter speed (causing your image to darken) but also increase the ISO (counteracting the darkness by brightening the image).

When shooting race cars, the light might be good – but it often pays to increase the ISO, regardless.

But ISO comes with one major drawback, which I’ll address in the next section:

The problem with high ISOs: noise

Boosting the ISO is insanely useful. But it also comes at a serious cost:

The higher your ISO, the more noise or grain that will appear in your photos, which looks like speckles of color and light randomly strewn across your image.

I’ll illustrate this below with two enlargements of a flower photo. The image on the left was taken at ISO 100, and the image on the right was taken at ISO 3200.

The image on the left was shot at ISO 100, and it’s noise-free. The image on the right was shot at ISO 3200, and it’s plagued by unwanted noise. Note that the exposures are identical (when I boosted the ISO, I raised the shutter speed to keep the brightness levels consistent).

Can you see the difference? Look at the middle few petals. The high-ISO photo (right) is full of unpleasant noise, whereas the low-ISO photo (left) is completely clean.

So raising the ISO, while useful, is part of a tradeoff. Yes, you get a brighter image, but you also get increased noise.

It’s the reason you can’t just shoot with a high ISO all the time. Instead, you keep the ISO low when you can, and you increase the ISO when you must.

That said, camera sensor technology is always improving. A decade ago, ISO 800 may have resulted in huge swathes of noise across your images (depending on your camera). But in 2021, you can shoot at ISO 1600 or 3200 and come away with nearly noise-free files, assuming you’re using a full-frame camera with the latest sensor technology, and that you used good exposure technique.

How to use ISO for the best results

Boosting your ISO gives brighter images as well as noise. Keeping your ISO low maintains image quality but may result in an underexposed or blurry shot. So what do you do?

Really, it all depends on the situation. I recommend leaving your ISO at its base value (probably ISO 50 or 100), except in three situations:

  1. The light is low and you’re struggling to get a well-exposed photo.
  2. You need to freeze motion and/or you’re struggling to get a sharp photo.
  3. You’re struggling to get a photo with adequate depth of field.

Let’s take a closer look at each scenario:

1. The light is low and you’re struggling to get a well-exposed photo

This is the most common reason to raise your ISO. You need to increase your exposure, but you’re shooting indoors or at night.

A concert is a classic low-light scenario where you need to increase the ISO.

So you raise the ISO to brighten up your shots.

Of course, ISO is just one of three exposure variables. If your shot is looking too dark, you can always widen the aperture or decrease the shutter speed instead. (And indeed, I recommend considering whether you can make aperture or shutter speed adjustments before you think about boosting the ISO.) But this isn’t always feasible; widening the aperture will narrow the depth of field (see my discussion in the next two sections). And decreasing the shutter speed risks sacrificing sharpness unless you use a sturdy tripod and proper technique.

In the end, if you size up the situation and decide that you can’t widen your aperture or drop your shutter speed, then there’s no way around it: you should boost the ISO.

2. You need to freeze motion and/or you’re struggling to get a sharp photo

If you’re working with a fast-moving subject, you’ll need a correspondingly fast shutter speed.

But if the light is limited, or you need an extremely high shutter speed (e.g., 1/4000s), then you’ll often need to boost the ISO and raise the shutter speed together. (Why can’t you just boost the shutter speed? Because your shots will turn out underexposed!).

Unless the light is very powerful, you’ll often need to increase the ISO to photograph birds in flight.

As I mentioned in the previous section, widening the aperture is always an option. But again, it’s not always feasible. Sometimes, you’ll need to maintain a deep depth of field; other times, your aperture will already be at its widest.

Bottom line: A sharp shot is better than a blurry shot, even if you need a high ISO to make it happen.

3. You’re struggling to get a photo with adequate depth of field

If you’re shooting a landscape or an architectural scene, you’ll often aim for a deep depth of field – but depending on the situation, you may need an aperture of f/11, f/13, and beyond. In good light, you may struggle to capture a detailed exposure at f/11. In bad light, your shots will definitely turn out far, far too dark.

(Why? To produce a deep depth of field, you narrow the aperture. And narrowing the aperture darkens the exposure.)

That’s where raising the ISO comes in handy. Instead of shooting at ISO 100, you can switch to ISO 200, 400, or even higher while maintaining your f/11 aperture.

A shot like this needs a deep depth of field. To maintain a narrow aperture while handholding, you can dial in a high ISO.

To avoid noise, you might consider dropping the shutter speed instead of boosting the ISO. But if you do decide to go that route, make sure you get a tripod or use proper handholding technique. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a blurry image, which is counterproductive!

Make sense?

Setting your ISO: practical examples

In this next section, I’d like to share a few common photography scenarios when you’d need to raise or lower your ISO for the best photos.

When to raise the ISO

You should probably raise the ISO if:

  • You’re shooting at an indoor sports event, especially if your subject is moving fast
  • You’re shooting a landscape without a tripod and you need a deep depth of field
  • You’re shooting a landscape at night (or doing astrophotography) and you need a reasonable shutter speed to freeze the stars
  • You’re photographing portraits in a dark room or in the evening/night
  • You’re shooting an event indoors with limited window light (such as a party)
  • You’re photographing a dark concert
  • You’re photographing an art gallery, a church, or a building interior (you might also consider using a tripod, but this is against the rules in a lot of spaces)
  • You’re photographing wildlife in the early morning or evening (especially if you need a fast shutter speed)
  • You’re photographing fast-moving subjects and you need an ultra-fast shutter speed
Dark parties can’t be photographed without a high ISO. When to keep the ISO low

Here are a few times when you should shoot at your camera’s base ISO:

  • You’re shooting motionless landscapes and your camera is mounted on a tripod
  • You’re photographing portraits in good light
  • You’re photographing an event, and you have plenty of window light or you’re using flash
  • You’re photographing products with a powerful artificial lighting setup
A portrait in good light? Stick to your camera’s base ISO! ISO in photography: conclusion

Now that you’ve finished this article, you should be an ISO master.

So pick up your camera. Practice working in difficult situations. Consider when you should or shouldn’t boost the ISO.

Now over to you:

When do you raise your ISO? Do you struggle to determine when it’s better to keep the ISO low? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

The post What Is ISO? A Simple Guide to ISO in Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Darren Rowse.

What Do the Numbers on Your Camera Lens Mean?

Mon, 07/12/2021 - 06:00

The post What Do the Numbers on Your Camera Lens Mean? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Darlene Hildebrandt.

Camera lenses include quite a few numbers – and many of these are often confusing or obscure, especially for beginners.

That’s why, in this article, I’m going to run through all the important camera lens numbers you’ll encounter. I’ll explain what the numbers actually mean, and I’ll also explain why they matter for your photography.

By the time you’re finished, you’ll be a lens number expert, and you’ll never find yourself confused by your lens markings again.

Let’s jump right in.

Common numbers on newer digital lenses

Depending on the age of your lens, you’ll run into different markings. In this section, I’ll discuss numbers frequently found on newer lenses (though note that many will apply to old lenses, as well!).

Focal length

Zoom lenses feature a zoom ring; twist it, and your lens will zoom in and out.

Next to this ring, you’ll generally find focal length numbers. For example, if your lens is a 70-200mm zoom like mine (below), you’ll see markings that span from 70mm to 200mm. I’m currently at around 100mm:

A lens will never display every focal length but will instead offer a few useful intervals, as you can see in the image above.

If you are using a prime or fixed lens, you won’t have a zoom ring. Your lens will simply indicate the focal length on its barrel, as you can see on my 85mm lens:

Maximum aperture

The maximum aperture is the largest aperture opening your lens is capable of achieving. Note that the larger the aperture opening, the smaller the f-number (so f/2.8 corresponds to a very wide aperture, while f/22 corresponds to a very small aperture).

Larger apertures like f/2.8 or even f/1.8 are highly desirable because they allow you to shoot in low-light conditions while maintaining a fast shutter speed. So the best lenses – and the most expensive lenses – tend to offer a very wide maximum aperture.

(Note that some zoom lenses have a variable maximum aperture, where the maximum aperture will change depending on the focal length; this is represented as a range of numbers, such as f/3.5-6.3.)

Now, pretty much every lens has the maximum aperture written somewhere on its body. You can usually find this information in one of two places (or perhaps even in both):

  1. Right on the end of the lens barrel
  2. On the front of the lens inside the filter ring area

In the photo below, you can see two different lenses: my Tamron 17-35mm and my Canon 85mm. On the Tamron, you should see “1:2.8-4,” and on the 85mm, you should see “1:1.8.”

What does this mean? It’s simple: the maximum aperture on the 85mm lens is f/1.8, and on the Tamron zoom, the maximum aperture changes from f/2.8 to f/4 as you zoom the lens. (At the lens’s widest, 17mm, I can open the aperture to f/2.8. But if I zoom all the way to 35mm, my maximum aperture becomes f/4.)

These variable maximum apertures are pretty common with kit lenses, and especially kit lenses with a large focal length range such as 28-300mm or 18-200mm.

Focusing range and distance scale

On some – but not all! – lenses, you will see a range of distances, usually marked in two scales, feet and meters. These lens numbers indicate the distance at which your lens is currently focused.

So at one end of the scale, you’ll find the infinity symbol, and at the other end, you’ll find the lens’s minimum focusing distance (i.e., the closest the lens can focus).

Check out the two lenses below. The distance scale on the 70-200mm (left) is under a cover, and you can see that the lens is focused somewhere between 10 meters and infinity. The distance scale on the 17-35mm (right) is on the lens’s focus ring, and you can see that the lens is focused quite close, at around 0.5 meters.

Note that, as you focus your lens, the distance scale will change to reflect your new point of focus.

Lens diameter (filter size)

Every lens has a diameter, the distance across the center of the lens. This diameter also corresponds to the filter size (if the filter’s diameter doesn’t match the lens diameter, it won’t properly screw onto the front of the lens).

You’ll find the lens diameter written on the end of your lens (often on the edge of the barrel), preceded by a symbol that looks like a zero with a strike through it:

So for the lens pictured above, the diameter is 77mm. And if I wanted to use a polarizing filter or a clear filter, I’d need to grab one with an equivalent diameter.

By the way, you can also find the lens diameter on the back of the lens cap, as displayed above.

Less common lens numbers (often seen on older, manual focus lenses)

Now that you’re familiar with all the common camera lens numbers, let’s take a look at some of the less common markings. These numbers are pretty rare on lenses designed for digital cameras, but you may come across them if you purchase older, manual focus glass.

Aperture ring

Most newer lenses set and control the aperture through the camera. But back in the days of film, you would set the shutter speed on your camera and the aperture on the lens (via an aperture ring).

So while newer lenses rarely include aperture rings, you’ll find them on plenty of older lenses. An aperture ring displays different aperture settings, like this:

And by rotating the ring, you widen or narrow the aperture.

Note that some modern lenses do include aperture rings; Fujifilm is known for this, as are other brands that offer manual focus lenses (e.g., Samyang).

Hyperfocal distance scale

A hyperfocal distance scale helps you determine the depth of field for a scene, given a particular focal length, point of focus, and aperture.

Most zoom lenses don’t offer hyperfocal distance scales (because depth of field varies with focal length). But if you have a prime lens – especially an older model – you may see an extra ring of numbers on the barrel, such as in the image below:

Note that, in the image, you can see three sets of numbers:

  • the distance scale
  • the hyperfocal distance scale
  • the aperture ring that actually sets the lens aperture

And this is by design. The hyperfocal distance scale uses the distance scale to display the expected depth of field. Here’s how it works:

First, focus your lens and set your aperture. Then look at the hyperfocal distance scale and find your chosen aperture on either side of the red line. Finally, look at the focusing distances that correspond to the apertures – these will be your near and far depth of field limit.

Make sense?

Camera lens numbers: final words

Well, that’s it for lens numbers! Hopefully, you now feel much more confident (and much less confused) when looking at your lens.

And if there are any lens numbers I missed, don’t worry – just share pictures in the comments below, and I’ll see what I can do to help out!

The post What Do the Numbers on Your Camera Lens Mean? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Darlene Hildebrandt.

10 Summer Landscape Photography Tips (+ Examples)

Sun, 07/11/2021 - 06:00

The post 10 Summer Landscape Photography Tips (+ Examples) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jeremy Flint.

Summer is a welcome period for landscape photography, as it offers fully-leafed vegetation, the prospect of warm, sunny days, fields carpeted with flowers, and the opportunity to capture dramatic images of our natural environment.

But how can you create beautiful summer landscape photos? That’s what this article is all about; in it, you’ll find plenty of tips, tricks, and secrets for amazing results.

So whether you’re new to landscape photography and are looking to do some fun summer shooting, or you’re an enthusiast aiming to improve your images, here are some tips and ideas to help you on your way!

1. Start with an idea or a theme

To capture successful images of summer, start by thinking about the types of themes and subjects you want to photograph. Ask yourself: What subjects interest me most?

Of course, what you shoot largely depends on what is around you; for example, in the UK, summer is a brilliant time to see wildflowers in bloom. There is always an explosion of reds and pinks, as fields are often carpeted in poppies. There are also bursts of purple as lavender fields flourish, and this can also make great subjects for summer landscape photography.

Summer also provides a great opportunity to capture fully leafed vegetation such as trees and hedgerows, as well as gorgeous sunrises and sunsets, plenty of joy, and beautifully dramatic weather.

2. Think both wide and abstract

Water – such as lakes, rivers, and streams – as well as dramatic weather, make great subjects for wide-angle summer landscape photography.

But in addition to capturing the sweeping vistas of gorgeous landscape scenes, don’t forget to look for the finer details. You may find stunning gems, such as insects or animals hidden in the landscape, or intimate aspects of wider scene, such as individual flowers emerging from the soil.

3. Don’t forget to location scout, if possible

A great way to identify good places to shoot? Do some location scouting!

Of course, you may already know places in your local area that are great for photography, but make sure to look at them with a photographer’s eye; consider where the sun will be at different times of the day, how the location will be affected by the weather, etc.

In addition to relying on locations you already know, do some research. You can simply walk around and explore – you never know when you’ll stumble across a great scene! – or you can do a bit of Googling. Look for places other photographers have shot, recommendations from locals, and lists of the best landscape photography spots near you.

Then, the next time you’re ready to head out with you’re camera, you know exactly where to go.

4. Check the weather (in advance)

When undertaking summer landscape photography, be sure to always check the weather conditions before heading out. Although the weather can be more stable in summer, there are often periods of heavy rain and dramatic conditions that can severely impact the outcome of your images.

Aim to shoot on the days when the weather suits what you would like to achieve. For example, if bright landscapes are your preferred shooting subject, go out on sunny days. Alternatively, if dark, brooding skies or rain is your thing, then look for overcast, gloomy, stormy days to capture the shots you’re after.

5. Consider the time of day

Days are longest and nights are shortest during the summer, with the day length decreasing after the summer solstice. There is therefore a longer period between first and last light compared with the spring or autumn.

Consequently, the sun will stay higher for longer during the summer, which means you will have more daylight time to do summer landscape photography. On the other hand, it makes night photography difficult, plus it pushes the golden hours (see the next tip!) into the early morning and late evening.

So make sure you always think about the changing light before heading out, and always check a sunrise and sunset calendar; that way, you can maximize your shooting time and get the type of shots you’re after.

6. Shoot when the light is best

Consider the light you like best for summer landscape photography. Do you prefer harsh light? Soft light? Dramatic light? Make sure you get out to shoot when the light fits your interests.

Generally speaking, the best light is at the start and end of the day – because as the sun rises and sets, the light offers golden hues and magical contrast. The vibrant colors at this time are amazing for summer landscape photography, so aim to set your alarm early and stay out late to maximize the best of the summer light.

In contrast, the light at midday is usually a lot harsher, especially when you have direct sunlight. So make sure to take this into consideration when photographing the landscape.

If you are out doing summer landscape photography in the middle of the day, be aware that the midday heat brings haze, which can make images look flat. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s important to be aware of the effect so you can use it – or avoid it – in your photos.

7. Make the most out of the conditions

Often, you have limited time at your chosen location to do summer landscape photography, so make sure you get the most out of the conditions you are presented with. Whether you’re dealing with rain or bright sunlight, you’ll have ample opportunities to capture the landscape at its best.

For instance, you can use overcast skies and rain to your advantage. There are still subjects that you can photograph; woodlands are great areas to shoot under cloudy skies, as are waterfalls. The rain can increase waterfall fullness, and both waterfalls and woodlands tend to look more photogenic in overcast light.

8. Use leading lines

One thing you can utilize in your landscape images during summer is leading lines. It’s a pretty popular technique because they’re a great way to lead the viewer’s eye into the frame.

In summer, there are specific things you can find in the landscape that you can use to lead the eye, such as roads, walkways, hedgerows, lines of flowers and vegetation, coastal paths, and trees.

9. Keep your gear protected

If you like to capture dramatic weather, make sure you keep your camera protected at all times. Always bring a rain cover and look to capture your summer landscape images in the period just after a storm has passed. You may even get lucky and see a rainbow.

10. Select your settings carefully

I am often asked about the best camera settings for summer landscape photography, but in truth, it really depends on what you are trying to achieve and what you want to emphasize in your scene.

As a general rule, an aperture of around f/8 to f/16 will help create more depth in an image and keep your entire scene sharp. If you want to keep parts of the frame out of focus, an aperture of, say, f/4-f/5.6 is the way to go. And a low ISO will give a sharper image (such as ISO 100-400).

As for the shutter speed: If you’re shooting handheld, stick to 1/50s or above. Of course, a sturdy tripod will let you go much lower, and you can create all sorts of interesting artistic effects, such as motion blur in waterfalls.

Summer landscape photography tips: final words

Although the high sun can be harsh during the summer, wildflowers such as poppies and lavender can bring color and freshness, plus you have other subjects such as hedges, trees, lakes, rivers, waterfalls, and woodlands to add interest to your scenes.

It’s important to remember that landscape shooting should be enjoyed, so have fun with your summer landscape photography and appreciate being out in nature.

With these tips in mind, go and explore the landscape near you. See what you can capture!

Now over to you:

Do you have any tips for beautiful summer landscape photos? Do you have any summer images you’re proud of? Share your thoughts and photos in the comments below!

The post 10 Summer Landscape Photography Tips (+ Examples) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jeremy Flint.

Depth of Field for Beginners: The Essential Guide

Sat, 07/10/2021 - 06:00

The post Depth of Field for Beginners: The Essential Guide appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Bruce Wunderlich.

You may have heard the term depth of field (DoF), but what actually is depth of field, and how can you control it for artistic results?

In this article, you’re going to discover all of the depth of field fundamentals, including:

  • A simple definition of depth of field
  • Why depth of field really matters in photography (and why it’s a concept you must understand)
  • The factors affecting depth of field in your photos
  • How to adjust the depth of field for insanely artistic results
  • Much, much more!

Let’s dive right in.

What is depth of field in photography?

Depth of field is the zone within a photo that appears sharp and in focus. In every picture, there is a point of focus (where you actually focus your lens). But there is also an area both in front of, and behind, your point of focus that also appears sharp – and that area corresponds to the depth of field.

The sharp zone will vary from photo to photo depending on different factors, such as aperture and distance to the subject (discussed in more detail below).

So by adjusting your camera settings and your composition, you can determine the amount of your image that turns out sharp and the amount of your image that ends up blurry.

Deep vs narrow depth of field: a few DoF examples

Images that are sharp from front to back are said to have a deep depth of field. A deep depth of field is popular in landscape photography, where you often want to show every little detail from the scene.

Here’s an example of a deep depth of field photo; notice how the sidewalk is sharp, the trees are sharp, and even the distant background appears sharp:

And here’s another deep depth of field example, with complete sharpness from foreground to background:

On the other hand, some images have very small zones of focus, known as shallow depth of field. Shallow depth of field photos are immediately noticeable because the subject will remain tack-sharp, while the background renders as a smooth, creamy blur:

This effect is especially popular in portraiture; photographers use it to draw attention to their subject while preventing background distractions. But you’ll also see shallow depth of field macro photography, as in this photo here:

And you can also find shallow DoF street photography, photojournalistic photography, and even landscape photography.

(Looking for more depth of field examples? Here’s a collection of images with a very shallow depth of field, and here’s a collection with a much deeper depth of field.)

Why is depth of field important?

The amount of a photo that’s sharp is a key artistic component of photography.

Whether your image has a shallow depth of field or a deep depth of field can make a huge difference (and can often make or break the composition).

For instance, if you’re photographing a portrait subject with a distracting background, failure to create a shallow depth of field will often result in a very snapshot-esque, mediocre photo.

And if you’re photographing a landscape with a beautiful foreground, a stunning midground, and a jaw-dropping background, failure to use a deep depth of field will prevent the viewer from appreciating the entire scene.

Getting the right depth of field for your shot can make all the difference. Look at how a shallow depth of field (right) creates a much more pleasing, non-distracting background compared to a deep depth of field (left).

Bottom line:

Depth of field matters. Learn to control it, and your photos will immediately improve.

Factors affecting depth of field

There are three main factors that determine depth of field. They are:

  1. Aperture (f-stop)
  2. Distance between your lens and your subject
  3. Focal length of the lens

By understanding these variables and how they work, you can produce a deep or shallow depth of field at will.

Aperture (f-stop)

Aperture refers to a hole in your lens through which light enters the camera.

And the larger the hole, the shallower the depth of field.

You may be familiar with f-stop values, which look like this: f/2, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16, etc. The smallest f-numbers correspond to the widest apertures and therefore the shallowest depth of fields. And the larger f-numbers correspond to the narrowest apertures and therefore the deepest depth of fields.

In other words:

Large aperture = Small f-number = Shallow (small) depth of field
Small aperture = Large f-number = Deep (large) depth of field

Now, adjusting the aperture (f-stop) of your lens is the simplest way to control your depth of field while setting up your shot.

The image on the left was captured at f/5, which resulted in a relatively shallow depth of field (note the blurred leaves). The image on the right was captured at f/32, which created a deep depth of field and a sharper background.

So if you’re photographing a landscape and you want a deep depth of field, just set your aperture to f/11 or so, and you’ll generally get foreground-to-background sharpness. If you’re photographing a portrait and you want a shallow depth of field, set your aperture to f/2.8 and you’ll produce a beautiful, blurred background.

Distance between your lens and your subject

The closer your subject is to the camera, the shallower your depth of field becomes.

(Note that I’m using the terms “subject” and “point of focus” interchangeably here – if you accidentally focus behind your subject, then the depth of field will be completely different.)

So if you get up-close and personal when photographing a flower, the depth of field will shrink. And if you take ten steps backward, the depth of field will increase.

When you get very close to a subject, the depth of field shrinks – regardless of your aperture! Focal length

The longer your focal length, the shallower the depth of field.

So if your subject is 33 feet (10 meters) away and your aperture is set to f/4, a focal length of 50mm will give you a depth of field range from around 22-63 feet (6.7-19.2 meters) for a total DoF of 41 feet (12.5 meters).

But if you zoom into 100mm while standing in the same spot, still using an aperture of f/4, the depth of field changes to about 29.5-37.5 feet (9-11.4 meters) for a total DoF of 8 feet (2.4 meters).

Putting it all together

Aperture, distance to your subject, and focal length together determine your depth of field.

Which means that these three factors can combine to produce a very extreme depth of field effect, or they can cancel each other out.

For instance, if you shoot at f/2.8, and you get close to your subject, and you use a telephoto lens, you’ll achieve an ultra-shallow depth of field.

But if you get close to your subject while using a wide-angle lens, the two factors will generally cancel out, resulting in a medium depth of field.

Make sense?

This image of a swan hiding in the tall foliage was captured from about 16 feet (5 meters) at 300mm. This combination of focal length and distance created a depth of field of approximately 2 inches (5 centimeters), which is why the foreground and background appear so blurry. How to work with depth of field: a step-by-step approach

While knowing the theory is great, you must also understand how to apply depth of field when out shooting.

Here’s my quick step-by-step approach to achieving perfect depth of field:

Step 1: Set your camera to Aperture Priority or Manual mode

Most cameras only offer two modes where you can easily control the aperture and therefore the depth of field:

Aperture Priority mode and Manual mode.

So the first order of business is to switch your camera Mode dial over to one of these modes.

(If you’re a beginner, Aperture Priority mode is probably the better option – it’ll let you input the aperture, while your camera determines the best shutter speed for a good exposure. If you’re more advanced, Manual mode will let you select the aperture and shutter speed independently for greater creative control.)

Step 2: Determine whether you want a deep or narrow depth of field

Carefully observe your scene. Ask yourself: Do I want to blur out the background? Or do I want to keep the entire shot sharp?

Generally speaking, if your background is distracting, it’s best to use a shallow depth of field. But if the background adds to the scene – for instance, it contains beautiful clouds, a stunning mountain range, or it contributes valuable context – then use a deep depth of field.

If you’re aiming for a shallow depth of field look, you generally don’t need to calculate the depth of field precisely. On the other hand, if you want to keep the entire shot sharp, you may want to calculate the hyperfocal distance (see the section on hyperfocal distance below) to determine the best point of focus.

Step 3: Adjust your aperture, distance to subject, and focal length

Now that you know the depth of field effect you want, it’s time to make the relevant changes to your composition and/or camera settings.

If your goal is a shallow depth of field effect, set your lens to its widest possible aperture. Then get as close as you can to your subject and take your shot.

If your goal is to achieve a deep depth of field effect, use a wide-angle lens (if possible) and get as far back from your subject as you can without sacrificing the composition. Then dial in a narrow aperture – often f/8 or beyond is ideal, though see the next section on hyperfocal distance if you’re not sure what’s best – focus a third of the way into the scene, and take your shot.

(Quick tip: When you look through your camera’s viewfinder, you’re generally seeing a preview of the image at your lens’s widest aperture. But many cameras offer a depth of field preview button; press this, and you can preview the actual depth of field in real-time before hitting the shutter button. Check your manual to see if it’s an option on your camera!)

Step 4: Check to make sure you got the depth of field right

After you’ve taken an image, especially when you’re just starting out, I highly recommend you check your camera’s LCD to ensure you’ve nailed the depth of field.

Take a quick look at the image in playback mode. If your goal is to keep the entire shot sharp, magnify the photo to check the nearest foreground object and the most distant background object, just to be sure everything looks good.

If you notice an error, you can always reshoot before the light changes.

Hyperfocal distance: how to get everything in focus

The hyperfocal distance is a special point of focus in your scene. It’s the point for a given aperture and focal length that allows you to maximize depth of field.

Specifically, when you focus at the hyperfocal distance, your depth of field will extend from half your point of focus all the way to infinity.

As you can imagine, this is useful when you want to keep the entire scene sharp; you just dial in your preferred aperture, then set your point of focus at the hyperfocal distance.

An image like this one – with a clear foreground and a distant background – can benefit from focusing at the hyperfocal distance.

But how do you determine the hyperfocal distance when out in the field? You have a few options. First, you can use a hyperfocal distance calculator like the one offered by PhotoPills, which will let you dial in your focal length and your selected aperture before spitting out a hyperfocal distance.

Alternatively, you can focus a third of the way into the scene, which is a good rule of thumb – assuming you’ve used a relatively narrow aperture (f/8 or beyond is good) and a wide-angle lens.

Doing precise depth of field calculations: charts, calculators, and apps

Most photographers don’t need to gauge depth of field exactly while in the field, so doing quick estimates or using easy rules of thumb works fine, especially if you check your LCD afterward.

But you may find yourself in a situation where depth of field matters a great deal – for instance, if you’re a landscape photographer dealing with a very deep scene, you’re a macro photographer shooting at extreme magnifications, or you’re a product photographer and you don’t have the opportunity to reshoot if you mess up the depth of field.

In such cases, I’d recommend turning to some type of depth of field “helper.” You have a few options:

  1. Depth of field charts. These show you depth of field ranges across different apertures and lens-to-subject distances. You can print them off and laminate them if you want a physical copy, but you’ll need a different chart for each lens focal length, which can get frustrating if you’re using multiple primes or even a single zoom.
  2. Depth of field calculators. These let you input your focal length, your distance to the subject, and your aperture, then they’ll spit back out your depth of field range. They’re very flexible, but you’ll need to keep one handy on your phone. They’re also less helpful than charts (because a chart lets you see how your depth of field changes as you make small adjustments to aperture and subject distance).
  3. Depth of field apps. There are many free and paid depth of field apps, most of which offer a combination of the above two DoF helpers. For instance, PhotoPills offers both a calculator and a chart (plus, the chart is adjustable – you can dial in your focal length and it’ll immediately recalculate your depth of field ranges). And PhotoPills includes other helpful photography aids, such as sunrise/sunset times and directions, hyperfocal distance charts and calculators, and more. Of course, you need to carry your phone with you at all times, but this is still the preferred solution of most landscape photographers.
The depth of field chart offered by PhotoPills.

Ultimately, the DoF aid you choose depends on your preferences – so feel free to try each option out and see which one you like best!

When to use a shallow depth of field

A shallow depth of field will make your subject stand out from the background. Here are a few situations when a shallow depth of field often makes sense:

  • In portrait photography, when you want to emphasize your subject’s features
  • In wildlife photography, when you want the animal to stand out
  • In sports photography, when you want to bring attention to the athlete
  • In macro photography, when you want to focus the viewer on a flower, plant, or insect
  • In event and street photography, when you want to isolate an individual in a chaotic environment

Note that using a wide aperture for a shallow depth of field will also increase the amount of light hitting your sensor, which will in turn let you boost the shutter speed. This is a major benefit if you’re shooting in low light or you need ultra-fast shutter speeds to freeze the action.

Here, I used a shallow depth of field effect to make the bird separate from the background. When to use a deep depth of field

A deep depth of field provides context, highlights small details, makes scenes appear more lifelike, and – when combined with certain composition techniques – increases depth. Here are some situations when a deep depth of field is best:

  • In landscape photography, when you want to lead the viewer from foreground to midground to background, or you want to emphasize both interesting foreground features and stunning background features
  • In macro photography, when you’re working at high magnifications, but you want to keep your entire main subject sharp
  • In street photography, when you want to emphasize the busyness and chaos of a city
  • In architectural photography, when you want to show off an entire building
  • In real estate photography, when you want to highlight an entire interior
A landscape shot like this one often requires a deep depth of field; thanks to the f/16 aperture, the road, the fallen leaves, and the distant trees all remain sharp, and the viewer feels like they could walk into the scene. Depth of field: final words

Depth of field is an essential concept for photographers of all stripes.

So grab a camera and practice working with depth of field. Look at photos you admire and consider the depth of field used by the photographers. And most importantly, understand how depth of field can improve your images!

Now over to you:

What questions do you have about depth of field? What depth of field do you most often use in your photos? After reading this article, do you plan to change your approach? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Depth of field FAQs Is depth of field equally distributed in front of and behind my focus point?

No. Depth of field is usually about one-third in front and two-thirds behind your point of focus, though as your focal length increases, the DoF distribution does become more equal.

How will understanding depth of field improve my images?

Keeping your images sharp is an essential skill, and knowing how to make parts of your images sharp and parts out of focus is a key artistic tool for creating stunning results.

How can I set the depth of field precisely for each photo?

You can use a depth of field chart, calculator, or app to determine your exact depth of field given a particular focal length.

Can depth of field be adjusted to get everything in focus?

Yes. You must use a concept called the hyperfocal distance; when you focus at this point, you’ll maximize depth of field and generally keep all of your image sharp.

What is bokeh?

Bokeh means “blur” in Japanese. A strong bokeh effect is produced in the out-of-focus areas of your image (i.e., in areas beyond the depth of field). For the best bokeh, you’ll need an ultra-shallow depth of field, though you can also maximize bokeh quality in other ways, such as by increasing the distance between the subject and the background.

The post Depth of Field for Beginners: The Essential Guide appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Bruce Wunderlich.

The Weekly Photography Challenge – 2021 So Far

Fri, 07/09/2021 - 16:00

The post The Weekly Photography Challenge – 2021 So Far appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Sime.

We’ve passed the half-way mark for 2021 already, almost hard to believe really… This week your photo challenge is super easy – Share your favourite photograph (that you’ve taken) from the first half of 2021.

  1. Must be your own photograph. (Do I need to say this?!)
  2. Must tag your photo #dPS2021SoFar
  3. Has to be from this year. (Obviously haha)
  4. Share a note about why it’s your favourite.

Your photo can be amazing from a photographic perspective or a special moment for you personally. Mine, below, was a moment that the sun almost poked through when we went for a trip down to the 12 Apostles, what was supposed to be a quick, hand-held family memory turned into a capture of the (on that trip) seldom seen light on the stunning Apostles. The trip was a good one amidst lockdowns, so t’was a special moment.

Upload your photograph into our comments field under this post (you’ll see the little camera icon in the Disqus comments area) 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.

If you do get stuck, you can contact our friendly (mostly!… ok, well.. after coffee he’s ok!) support guy. He’s on the email and he likes talking about himself in the third person…

The post The Weekly Photography Challenge – 2021 So Far appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Sime.

College Photography Instructor Bans Kit Lenses, Cites “Subpar” Quality

Fri, 07/09/2021 - 06:00

The post College Photography Instructor Bans Kit Lenses, Cites “Subpar” Quality appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

How do you feel about kit lenses? Are they capable of good photos? Or are they an utter waste of time, the type of lens that should be discarded at the earliest opportunity?

According to one college photography instructor, who banned the use of kit lenses in her editorial photography course, kit lenses aren’t just poor quality; they simply shouldn’t be used – at least not by photography students. As the instructor explains in her syllabus, “You are talented enough by this point to not compromise your image quality by using these subpar lenses…You should do everything within your power to never use these lenses again.”

Here’s the full quote, as posted to Reddit by a frustrated student:

The 18-55mm kit lenses that come with entry-level, crop-sensor DSLRs are NOT good quality. You are required to have the insurance for this class, and since most assignments require a trip to the cage for lighting gear, I am also blocking the use of these lenses. You are talented enough by this point to not compromise your image quality by using these subpar lenses. Student work from this class has been licensed commercially as stock photography, but if you shoot with an 18-55mm lens, you are putting your work at a serious disadvantage, quality-wise. You are not required to BUY a different lens, but you are required to use something other than this lens. You should do everything within your power to never use these lenses again.

The student went on to explain that the class is designed for second-year photography undergraduates, and that the “cage” – where students can borrow lenses to complete assignments – “is only accessible two hours a day, two days a week.”

In other words, while students who don’t own acceptable equipment (i.e., non-kit lenses) can technically continue the course without purchasing additional lenses, they’ll need to show greater dedication than their peers, put in extra hours on campus, and compete with other students for access to school-owned equipment.

While this lack of course accessibility is bound to frustrate plenty of current and would-be students, it’s the instructor’s sweeping criticism of kit lenses that has photographers up in arms.

As the Reddit community was quick to point out, plenty of beautiful photos, including work published in top-notch newspapers and magazines, have been taken with kit lenses or similar. And furthermore, there are high-quality kit lenses available, many of which are perfectly adequate for pro-level photos. Sure, some kit lenses do offer soft image quality, but you can often correct the problem by stopping down to f/8 or so.

And as the original poster explained, even “older full-frame kit lenses are more than adequate for all but the most demanding of applications,” and the class assignments involve “shooting with big strobes – mostly [at] f/8+ and ISO 100.”

For me, kit lenses are one-hundred percent adequate for a whole host of situations. Their image quality is often decent, and with the right technique, you can come away with some very nice results. Plus, kit lens focal lengths tend to be very useful. At 18mm, you can capture scene-setting wide-angle images; at 25-35mm, you can do some impactful street and photojournalistic photography; and at 45-55mm, you can do intimate portraits, headshots, and more.

That’s not to say that kit lenses are superior to their much more expensive prime counterparts. Kit lenses aren’t as sharp, as fast focusing, or as effective in low light as, say, a high-quality 50mm f/1.4 lens. But the point isn’t that kit lenses are the best, it’s that they’re good enough – and that both students and professionals can use kit lenses to great effect.

Now over to you:

What do you think about kit lenses in photography? Do you like them? Dislike them? Do you think they should be banned from photography classes? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

(Via PetaPixel)

The post College Photography Instructor Bans Kit Lenses, Cites “Subpar” Quality appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

14 Senior Picture Ideas to Get You Inspired

Thu, 07/08/2021 - 06:00

The post 14 Senior Picture Ideas to Get You Inspired appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.

High school senior portraits are some of the most exciting and rewarding projects for any photographer. Stress levels are low (compared to wedding photography, anyway!), and these young seniors are happy, excited, and looking forward to the future.

You are photographing your subject at a unique point in their lives, and even after doing this for years, it’s still one of my favorite types of photography. If you have never done a high school senior photo session, or you’re a seasoned photographer seeking some inspiration, here are 14 senior picture ideas to jumpstart your creativity and give you some new directions to try.

1. Get the classic headshot Nikon D750 | 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II | 200mm | f/2.8 | 1/250s | ISO 360

Creativity is always good, but I recommend making sure your bases are covered before really cutting loose.

So start your session with some classic headshots. This has several key benefits; first, it puts your client at ease and helps show them you are a serious professional who knows what you’re doing. Additionally, headshots can help break the ice and serve as the jumping-off point for some more fun ideas later on.

Plus, a headshot gives the senior a nice photo to use in the yearbook or as a social media profile picture. Headshots won’t win awards for originality, but they serve a valuable purpose, and no high school senior photo session is complete without a few!

2. Use backlighting to spice up your portraits Nikon D750 | 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II | 165mm | f/2.8 | 1/180s | ISO 200

In a studio setting, it’s generally a good idea to position the primary light source, also known as the key light, behind you so that it’s illuminating the face of your subject. However, it’s also nice to have another light source behind your subject to provide a bit of backlighting and create a glowing effect around their head.

When you’re out in nature, you can accomplish this by shooting late in the day and positioning your subject so the sun is behind them. This creates a fun, dynamic look that can really elevate your portraits – and it’s an effect that can’t be easily faked with a social media filter.

3. Involve the senior’s four-legged friends Nikon D750 | 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II | 200mm | f/4.8 | 1/180s | ISO 1000

When I’m doing portrait photography, I like to be in control of the situation, so including pets always adds a bit of stress that I don’t really appreciate. However, high school senior pictures aren’t about me – they’re about the clients! And if you can learn to loosen up a bit and let these young students bring their pets along for the shoot, you’ll get some great results.

After all, pets put people at ease, and they also add a fun element of serendipity to the situation. You won’t always get award-winning shots, especially if the pets aren’t cooperating, but you will get pictures your clients will love. Just make sure someone else is with you, such as the senior’s parent or friend, to help corral the animals and then take them home after their part in the photoshoot is over.

4. There’s no place like home Nikon D200 | 50mm f/1.8G | f/1.8 | 1/180s | ISO 200

I almost always do high school senior pictures out on location, but you can also get great results in the senior’s backyard. In fact, you’ll often find some interesting options at their home for sitting, posing, or family member involvement that just don’t materialize at parks or on bridges.

I don’t recommend doing all the pictures at the senior’s home, but you might be surprised at the results you can get if you keep your eyes open. Also, starting the photoshoot at the student’s house helps build a sense of trust and can lead to some great conversations; this can be helpful down the line if you need things to talk about while shooting elsewhere.

5. Bring on the band Nikon D200 | 50mm f/1.8G | f/1.8 | 1/125s | ISO 200

Many high schoolers play instruments, which can easily be incorporated into a senior photo session. Some of my clients have told me that these shots ended up as their favorites, and I often feel the same.

Therefore, when you sit down with seniors to discuss the session and explain your process, let them know that they are welcome to bring their guitar, clarinet, trumpet, or even a drum set! It might add an unexpected challenge to the session, but the results are worth it, and it’s a great way to build a positive reputation among your clients and their friends.

6. Get formal with a cap and gown Nikon D7100 | 85mm f/1.8G | f/4 | 1/750s | ISO 200

Much like headshots, cap-and-gown photos won’t win awards for creativity, but they’re classic images your clients will appreciate years down the line.

So ask your client to bring graduation regalia to the photo session and get a variety of shots with them all dressed up. The pictures will look great on invitations and announcements, and parents love to buy prints and hang them on the wall.

7. Show some sibling love Nikon D750 | 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II | 125mm | f/4 | 1/180s | ISO 180

Do your high school senior clients have brothers or sisters? If so, ask them to take part in the photoshoot! You probably won’t want them for the whole session, but bring them in at the beginning or the end to add variety.

Get some shots of your subject and their sibling hugging, joking, or just talking; this can add a great deal of levity to what is sometimes a stressful situation, and you might also capture some candids that everyone really likes.

Plus, these sibling shots are always a favorite among parents, which will lead to more business for you down the line when the other children need photos as they grow up.

8. Invite their parents Nikon D750 | 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II | 175mm | f/3.3 | 1/350s | ISO 100

Lots of photographers focus solely on the high school seniors, but if you’re looking for an added element to make memorable pictures, then ask the parents to pose for a few shots, too!

You don’t have to go overboard; just grab a few shots at the beginning or end of the shoot, and parents will love it. After all, the adults in these students’ lives always appreciate the chance to be involved. In a few short months, their babies will be off to college, and these photos will create some powerful memories that will be cherished for years.

Group photos also help build a sense of trust between you and the parents and send the message that you know what you are doing and are serious about your craft. That leads to repeat business and can help generate some powerful word-of-mouth advertising, too.

9. Take a stroll for great shots Nikon D750 | 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II | 200mm | f/2.8 | 1/500s | ISO 100

If you’ve run out of ideas and aren’t sure what to do with your high school seniors, here’s some simple advice: just have them take a walk!

Find a spot with good lighting – like an alley or covered pedestrian path – and have your subject walk toward you while you capture a series of photos. This technique works great with a telephoto zoom; start by zooming in all the way and then slowly zoom out as your subject closes the gap (you can slowly step backward if you need to).

You’ll end up with a lot of pictures to wade through, but even if you only keep two percent of the walking-style shots, they’ll likely be extremely memorable.

10. Showcase the senior’s talents Nikon D750 | 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II | 175mm | f/2.8 | 1/500s | ISO 200

Many high school seniors have special talents and skills they like to share with others, and these are great to keep in mind for photo sessions.

Invite your client to bring their skateboard, scooter, or unicycle to the shoot. Get some photos of them hitting a golf ball, swinging a tennis racket, or shooting a basketball.

Even if the talent doesn’t involve a lot of physical movement – e.g., writing computer code – you can still find creative and interesting ways to showcase it, and it’ll give the senior some photos they’ll cherish years down the line.

11. Explore the downtown Nikon D7100 | 85mm f/1.8G | f/2.8 | 1/750s | ISO 200

You might be surprised at how many great shots you can get by wandering through the downtown of any city. From small towns to suburbs to large metropolitan areas, downtowns are rife with brilliant colors, interesting backgrounds, and great lighting conditions (even in broad daylight).

You can usually find a building or an awning that provides plenty of shade; that way, you can shoot photos without your subjects being blown out by harsh sunlight.

12. Visit the classic local spots Nikon D750 | 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II | 200mm | f/2.8 | 1/250s | ISO 400

Where I live, there’s a spot that’s always brought up when I’m discussing photo sessions with clients: a set of metal steps next to a certain building downtown. Clients love to get their pictures taken on these steps, but when I first started out, I saw them as a crutch. A cliché. A relic of the past that should be forgotten. Why go to the downtown steps when there are so many other interesting picture locations? Then I got over myself, embraced the idea, and my clients have loved the results.

There’s probably a similar spot where you do senior portrait sessions, too: an overused location that makes you roll your eyes when it comes up in conversation. My advice is to embrace the tradition and just go there anyway, at least for a few shots before heading elsewhere. Even though you might not personally think it’s a great spot for senior photos, your job is to get the best possible photos of your clients.

13. Explore a botanical garden Nikon D750 | 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II | 160mm | f/2.8 | 1/180s | ISO 360

Most urban areas have some type of public garden, and these always work great for high school senior photos.

Of course, don’t just take the same standing-in-front-of-flowers shots as everyone else. Get off the beaten path a bit and try to find new ways of looking at familiar spots! Search for greens and oranges that will make your client stand out, or work with the seniors beforehand to plan their wardrobe accordingly.

Take a stroll by yourself or with a friend before you do the photo session and look for interesting lighting conditions or hidden locations that people normally ignore.

Finally, look on social media for hashtags commonly used at these locations for fun portrait ideas to try, or – better yet! – so you know the cliché shots to avoid.

14. Above all else, have fun! Nikon D750 | 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II | 200mm | f/2.8 | 1/180s | ISO 280

When I first started doing high school senior pictures, I was so focused on the images that I left out the element of enjoyment. I was a serious photographer with a serious job to do. I quickly learned to loosen up, laugh a lot, and have fun with my clients. These young students are on the cusp of a very important time in their lives, and as a high school senior photographer, you have the incredible opportunity to catch this critical moment before it slips away.

So enjoy it! Laugh with your clients, talk with them about college or other post-high school plans, and get to know them throughout the session. Your photos will look better, your clients will enjoy their time with you, and you’ll get lots of referral business as a result. Studying techniques, locations, and posing tips is great, but if you and your clients aren’t having fun, then you’re doing something wrong.

Senior picture ideas: final words

These senior picture ideas are a good way to get inspired, but ultimately the success of your photo sessions is up to you. Use this article as a starting point but try your own ideas, find your own style, and do what works for you and your clients.

It also helps to find a friend or family member who can help you practice so you’re better prepared during the actual photo sessions, and this article should give you some good ideas to try!

Now I’d love to hear from you:

What tips have you found that work well when you are photographing high school seniors? What pitfalls or mistakes have you made that you want others to avoid? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Senior picture FAQs What should I tell my clients to wear for high school senior pictures?

Don’t get too picky. Solid colors are great, but I have had the best results when my clients are relaxed and enjoying themselves. Instead of colors, think of styles: formal, casual, etc., and have your clients dress appropriately or give them the opportunity to change outfits. And of course, make sure to have them bring their cap and gown if they have it!

How long should my high school senior photo sessions last?

This can depend on many factors, but in general, your photo sessions should be about an hour. That’s almost always enough time to get the photos you’re after, though you can take longer if you need to factor in location changes, different outfits, etc. Just remember that the longer things go, the more likely your clients will become tired or bored, and you risk losing the energy and excitement that happens early in the session.

What time of day should I do high school senior photos?

I like to shoot these types of pictures in the evening when the sun isn’t high overhead. The lighting is usually softer, and you will have an easier time finding locations that are evenly lit.

How can I find new and exciting spots for high school senior photos?

If you’re struggling to find new locations for your photo sessions, just get in your car and drive around. Start with parks or other public spaces. Have you examined them from every angle? Are there new spots in these locations you haven’t considered? I have found some of my favorite photography spots completely by accident (all it took was a little driving around town). Just make sure photography isn’t prohibited, and that you have permission before you start taking pictures!

The post 14 Senior Picture Ideas to Get You Inspired appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.

12 Tips to Master the Clone Stamp Tool in Photoshop

Wed, 07/07/2021 - 06:00

The post 12 Tips to Master the Clone Stamp Tool in Photoshop appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jim Hamel.

The Clone Stamp tool is one of Photoshop’s most useful editing options. After all, it can get rid of all sorts of unwanted objects! Yet for beginners – and even more experienced photo editors – it can be intimidating, frustrating, and discouraging.

That’s why, in this article, I’m going to share everything you need to know about the Clone Stamp tool, including how it works, how to use it to remove unwanted items from your photos, and the simple tips and tricks that will make you a Clone Stamp master.

Let’s dive right in.

When should you use the Clone Stamp tool in Photoshop?

Photoshop offers several tools for making minor adjustments to your photos (e.g., the Healing Brush tool and the Spot Healing Brush tool). But while such tools are great for minor edits – such as removing spots and power lines – when it comes time for serious, intensive surgery on your photos, the Clone Stamp tool is the way to go.

You can use the Clone Stamp tool to:

  • Remove people standing in the background of a portrait
  • Remove people walking through your travel shots
  • Remove cars that are positioned in awkward places
  • Remove distracting street signs
  • Remove distracting shadows
  • Remove distracting reflections

And those are just a few of the many applications of the Clone Stamp tool.

You will not often find the stairs of the Palais Garnier in Paris free of people, so you will need to put the Clone Stamp tool to work if you want a clean picture. This applies at many other tourist destinations, as well. How to use the Clone Stamp tool: the basics

Getting started with the Clone Stamp tool is simple. You just tell Photoshop two things:

  1. The area you want to target for removal (i.e., the target area).
  2. The area Photoshop should use to supply replacement pixels (i.e., the source area).

So if you were removing a person from a staircase (as I did in the example above), you would set the source area as some nearby stairs, and you would set the target area as the person you wanted to remove.

Here’s the step-by-step process for using the tool:

Step 1: Select the Clone Stamp tool from the Tools panel

You’ll find the Tools panel on the left-hand side of your screen (the Clone Stamp tool looks like a rubber stamp):

Once you have the tool selected, click on the Brush menu dropdown:

And set both the Size and the Hardness.

Step 2: Select the source area

Remember, the source area refers to the portion of the image you will use to source replacement pixels.

So hover your cursor over the source area, hold the Alt/Option key (your cursor will now become a target), and do a single click.

Step 3: Paint over the target area

Release the Alt key and move your mouse over to the area you’d like to remove. Hold down the mouse button and carefully paint in the new pixels.

And that’s it. You’re done! But while the process sounds simple, there’s a lot to understand, especially if you want to become a Clone Stamp expert.

So let’s take a look at some tips and tricks to help you conquer this important Photoshop tool, starting with:

1. Work on a new layer

Before making changes with the Clone Stamp tool, always create a new layer. Then make sure your adjustments all happen on the layer (you can flatten the image when you’re done).

Why should you do this?

There are many reasons. First of all, Photoshop layers are nondestructive – so changes to the layer won’t change the underlying pixels of your image. In addition, if you don’t like where the changes are going, you can always delete the layer and start over.

And if you later decide there are portions of the Clone Stamp changes you don’t want, you can always use a layer mask to selectively delete those changes. Plus, you can apply adjustments specifically to cloned areas if they are on a new layer (as will be explored in more depth below).

Now, creating a new layer is easy. Simply press Ctrl/Cmd+J to create a duplicate of your current image layer, or press Shift+Ctrl/Cmd+N to create a new blank layer.

Note: If you do create a new blank layer, make sure you have All Layers selected as your source in the Clone Stamp tool settings.

I personally prefer working on a new layer (as opposed to a duplicate layer), but either way will work.

2. Zoom in (way in)

When working with the Clone Stamp tool, you should always zoom in – in fact, I recommend you zoom way in (potentially to 100% and beyond).

I tend to do my Clone Stamp work zoomed in to 100% or more.

Zooming in will help isolate the area you are working on, and it will allow you to work with far more detail and precision than would otherwise be possible. Make your changes look as good as you can with this higher level of detail, then when you zoom back out, the changes will blend in perfectly.

A shortcut for zooming quickly is to hold the Alt/Option key with your left hand while using the scroll wheel on your mouse to zoom in and out. You can also use Ctrl/Cmd and the + or key on the keyboard. That way, you can zoom in and out with speed.

3. Set your brush size using shortcuts

When working with the Clone Stamp tool, you’ll need to change your brush size often.

Why? You should always make sure your brush size fits the changes you’re making. Big changes require a big brush, whereas small changes require a fine brush for detail work.

Unfortunately, changing the size through the Brush panel is cumbersome, but there are some easy keyboard shortcuts:

  • The left bracket key [ makes the brush smaller
  • The right bracket key ] makes the brush larger

Thanks to these shortcuts, you’ll be able to rapidly tailor the tool to your specific circumstances.

4. Set the proper brush hardness

The Clone Stamp tool can be set to whatever hardness you desire. Simply open the Brush panel, then adjust the Hardness slider:

Now, hardness determines the extent to which your cloning will blend in with the surrounding pixels. If you set the hardness toward 100%, the cloned edges will be hard and definite:

If you set the hardness toward 0%, the edges will blend in with the surroundings:

In general, keep the hardness at 0%. It will help you seamlessly blend in your effect. There will be times, however, where you are working near a defined edge, in which case you should increase the hardness. Even then, around 50% will usually do. Setting the hardness any higher creates harsh transitions, and these often look unnatural (they’ll also make it very clear you’ve used the Clone Stamp tool).

5. Clone before making other adjustments

Here’s a quick Clone Stamp tool tip:

Do your cloning before making adjustments (via adjustment layers) to contrast, color, etc. If you apply the Clone Stamp tool after creating those adjustment layers, you’ll bake the changes permanently into your picture when you clone – which can be a problem if you later decide you want to remove some of your earlier adjustments.

However, in some cases, you’ll need to clone, yet you will have already made changes on an adjustment layer. So what do you do? Photoshop actually lets you decide whether to include adjustment layer changes in your cloning, and I generally recommend you don’t include these changes.

Simply select the circle with a line through it in the Clone Stamp tool Options bar:

And Photoshop will ignore adjustment layers when you clone.

6. Grab the low-hanging fruit

Most of the time, your pictures will have some easy items to clone out – along with some harder items.

Clone out the easy items first, such as small blemishes on a portrait subject, dirt in a landscape, trash in a street scene, etc.

For one, this will give you confidence in your Clone Stamp tool abilities (always a good thing!). Plus, removing unnecessary items will help when the time comes to make hard changes.

How will it help? When using the Clone Stamp tool, the cleaner the space you have from which you can draw pixels, the better. So by making the easy changes first, you’re cleaning up the areas that may feature in your more difficult clone jobs later.

Make sense?

7. Watch for patterns

Sometimes, it’s a good idea to include patterns in your cloning; for instance, if you’re removing a person from in front of a building, you’ll want to use a similar building as your cloning source.

However, there are often times when you don’t want discernible patterns in your cloned areas. For instance, if you get rid of a bird in the sky, you don’t want to replace it with an obvious set of repetitive clouds – that would look super unnatural and would immediately indicate to viewers that you used the Clone Stamp tool.

There is an easy way to avoid patterns: as you clone, frequently choose a new source point. Sample from one area and clone one part of your image, then sample from another area and clone another part, and so on. Keep it up until you’ve finished all the necessary cloning, and you’ll end up with an image featuring zero repetition and an invisible clone job.

The right side of this image was filled with distractions, and the Clone Stamp tool eliminated them. But I had to be careful not to create patterns in the rocks or in the trees/water! 8. Follow the lines

A key to the successful use of the Clone Stamp tool is making all the lines in your picture match. Even slight deviations from the correct lines will look fake and destroy the effect you are trying to achieve.

For example, if you’re cloning parts of a landscape, make sure the edges of the tree branches match up. In an urban context, follow lines on buildings such as roof edges, doorways, and brickwork.

When you’re using the Clone Stamp tool, I recommend you start with – and stay focused on! – the lines. Let the rest of the pixels fall where they may. Afterward, if you need to go back over other areas, you can do so.

Here, I’ve zoomed in on a portion of an architectural shot. As you can see, I’ve used the patterns on the floor and door to recreate the space behind the distracting person. 9. Avoid selecting from adjacent areas

As previously mentioned, a dead giveaway of the Clone Stamp tool is repetition.

Of course, in a sense, the Clone Stamp tool is all about repetition – you’re repeating a part of your image to cover up a part you don’t like – but you need to do it in such a way that the viewer doesn’t notice. If you draw pixels from an immediately adjacent area, you risk the viewer noticing the repetition. So take the pixels from somewhere else in the image instead.

Inadvertently creating a pattern is an easy trap to fall into when using adjacent areas, but at the same time, using non-adjacent areas can be tricky. The immediately adjacent areas are usually the closest in color and tone to the area you want to replace, and as you move farther away, tones and colors change so the pixels get harder to match.

So work hard. Find a way to use pixels from somewhere else in your photo, especially when the adjacent pixels contain obvious patterns. It might take extra time, but it’ll be worth it in the end.

10. Muddle through (and accept the messiness)

Once you’ve made the “easy” changes to your photo, it’s time to tackle a bigger problem – a crowd of people, for instance, or a car that takes up a large portion of the scene. And I get it: it’s the scary part of using the Clone Stamp tool.

The key is to just dive in. Don’t try to figure it all out beforehand (you never will). You can use a couple of different approaches:

  1. Go big first. Set your brush a little larger than is strictly necessary and just replace the entire area in one fell swoop. You should then go back and clean up with a smaller brush.
  2. Go small and steady. Stick with the smaller brush and paint over the problem area gradually. Here, the key is to keep going. Remember that you can go over the area again if necessary. Whatever you do on your first pass, while probably not perfect, will undoubtedly look better than what you started with.

You’ve just got to do it. There is a tendency to freeze up and to try to map out the entire clone job, step by step, before actually doing anything. But this just causes you to stare at the computer screen for long periods of time and isn’t especially helpful.

Remember, you can always undo what you’ve done! In addition, because you hopefully followed the first tip in this article and are working on a new layer, you can always mask out certain areas or even delete them if you don’t get the result you want.

11. Mirror your source pixels

The Clone Source panel contains lots of adjustments you can make to your brush when cloning.

To access the panel, go to Window, then click on Clone Source:

Once in the panel, you can change the angle of the replacement pixels, you can give the tool an offset, and more.

One of the most useful features in the Clone Source panel is the Flip Horizontal option:

Click on this, and the pixels will be replaced in the opposite horizontal direction to the source.

Confused? Don’t be. You’re basically just mirroring source pixels. For example, in the crop below, I selected the road line on the right as my source, then cloned it off to the left. You can see how the pixels are flipped horizontally:

While this may seem like a pointless trick, it can actually be very useful. Imagine you’re dealing with a symmetrical object; instead of sourcing pixels from above or below the clone target, you can simply use pixels from its opposite (reflective) side.

Here’s a typical example: A person is covering one side of a doorway, and you want to get rid of them. By clicking on Flip Horizontal, you can use the other side of the doorway as your source, and you don’t have to scramble for pixels all around the frame.

12. Change the cloned areas with adjustment layers

Sometimes, your cloned areas just won’t look exactly like the surroundings. Perhaps the source areas you used were too bright or too dark, or perhaps the colors were just a bit off.

But don’t worry; you can fix this without affecting the surrounding pixels. You just need the power of adjustment layers.

Simply create a new adjustment layer (e.g., Levels, Curves, or Hue/Saturation):

Make sure it’s positioned above your cloning layer. Then hold down the Alt/Option key and click on the spot between the two layers:

This will clip the adjustment layer to your cloning layer. Now any adjustments you apply will only change the layer below it, and you’re free to brighten, darken, add contrast, adjust colors, etc.

Mastering the Clone Stamp tool: final words

Remember: Using the Clone Stamp tool can be a messy process. So don’t worry if you find yourself having to redo changes or make things up as you go along. There is no magical “clean” method – instead, the Clone Stamp tool involves a lot of experimentation, a lot of problem-solving, and a dose of determination.

Take your time and just keep moving. You can always undo your changes (or, if you are working on a new layer, you can delete the changes without losing the rest of your work).

And have fun!

Now over to you:

Do you have any tips or tricks for using the Clone Stamp tool? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

The post 12 Tips to Master the Clone Stamp Tool in Photoshop appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jim Hamel.

Aperture in Photography: A Beginner’s Guide (+ Examples)

Tue, 07/06/2021 - 06:00

The post Aperture in Photography: A Beginner’s Guide (+ Examples) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Darren Rowse.

What is aperture in photography? How does it work? And how can you use it to capture photos like the pros?

Aperture is an essential camera setting; in my opinion, it’s where the magic happens in photography. So in this article, I’m going to take you through all the ins and outs of aperture, including:

  • What aperture actually is (in simple, easy-to-understand terms)
  • How you can use aperture to capture artistic images
  • How to choose the perfect aperture for landscape photography, portrait photography, and more
  • Plenty of other tips and tricks!

If you can master aperture, then you’ll gain a huge amount of creative control over your photography.

Ready to take your photos to the next level?

Let’s dive right in, starting with the most important question of all:

What is aperture?

Aperture is the opening in the camera lens. A larger hole allows more light to hit the sensor, lightening your photos. A smaller hole allows less light to hit the sensor, darkening your photos.

And by adjusting the aperture setting on your camera, you can adjust the size of the aperture (and, in turn, affect a photo’s brightness).

The aperture is that (bladed) hole inside your lens! Aperture and f-stops

Aperture is measured in terms of f-stops, also known as f-numbers. Like this: f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/22, etc.

As shown in the diagram below, the smaller the f-number, the larger the aperture hole:

As the f-number increases, the aperture size decreases.

Now, each full stop corresponds to a halving of aperture size. So when you go from f/2.8 to f/4, you cut the aperture in half. And when you go from f/4 to f/5.6, you cut the aperture in half again.

(Of course, to double the aperture size, you just go in the reverse direction: from f/5.6 to f/4, and from f/4 to f/2.8.)

So f/2.8 is a much larger aperture than f/22. And f/11 is a much smaller aperture than f/4.

Does that make sense? It can be confusing at first, especially because large aperture sizes correspond to smaller f-stop numbers and vice versa. But stick with it, and it’ll become second nature.

How does aperture affect your photos?

At this point in the article, you should know what aperture is: a hole in the lens that increases and decreases depending on your camera settings (i.e., your f-stop value).

But what does aperture actually do? How does it affect your photos?

In the next two sections, I’ll discuss the primary effects of aperture:

  1. Exposure
  2. Depth of field
Aperture and exposure

As you may already know, exposure refers to the brightness of a photo.

In general, the goal is to end up with a photo that’s not too dark and not too bright; instead, you want a shot that’s just right, one with lots of detail.

So where does aperture come into play?

Aperture is one of the three key variables that affect your exposure. (The other two variables are shutter speed and ISO.)

Remember what I said above? By widening the aperture, you let in more light, which brightens your image. And by narrowing the aperture, you let in less light, which darkens your image.

So if you’re photographing a beautiful sunset and your photos keep turning out too bright, you can always narrow the aperture to darken down the image. (In fact, using a narrow aperture is often a good idea when shooting sunsets!)

A sunset scene like this will often benefit from a narrow aperture.

And if you’re photographing a forest and your photos keep turning out dark and shadowy, you can always widen the aperture to brighten up the image. (As you might expect, this is a standard low-light photography practice.)

If you’re photographing a subject in the shade, a wider aperture will brighten things up.

Of course, aperture isn’t the only variable that affects exposure. If you want to brighten a photo, you can also lower the shutter speed or boost the ISO. And if you want to darken a photo, you can raise the shutter speed or drop the ISO.

In terms of exposure, widening your aperture by a full stop has the exact same effect as lowering your shutter speed by a full stop or boosting your ISO by a full stop. A key consequence of this: different exposure variables can cancel each other out. Increase your ISO by a stop while decreasing your aperture by a stop, and you’ll end up with an identical exposure.

The point here is that, while aperture does determine exposure, you can’t think about it in isolation. Aperture, shutter speed, and ISO work together to give you a well-exposed (or poorly exposed) image.

Aperture and depth of field

Aperture also affects the depth of field in your photos.

What exactly does that mean? Well, depth of field (DOF) is the amount of your shot that is in focus. So a photo with a large depth of field will have most of the image in focus, like this:

Do you see how sharpness stretches from the foreground to the background? That’s thanks to the large depth of field.

A photo with a small depth of field, on the other hand, will have only a sliver in focus, like this:

As you can see, the effect is pretty artistic; you get a sharp subject but a blurry background. Neat, right? Because a blurry background helps the subject to stand out, this is an effect you’ll often see in portrait photography.

As for aperture, the wider the aperture (and the smaller the f-number!), the shallower the depth of field.

So an image with an f/2.8 aperture will have very little in focus:

And an image with an f/16 aperture will have all of the scene in focus:

Got it? If you’re still struggling to understand – and if you are, don’t be embarrassed! – let me illustrate using two pictures I took in my garden:

The first picture was taken with an aperture of f/22, while the second picture was shot at f/2.8. The difference is obvious, right? The f/22 picture has both the flower and the bud in focus and you’re able to make out the fence and leaves in the background. Whereas the f/2.8 shot has the left flower in focus, but the right flower is less in focus and the background is completely blurry.

That’s all thanks to aperture, which controls the depth of field.

4 simple aperture examples

Here are a handful of additional aperture examples to help you wrap your head around its effects – in particular, how aperture affects the depth of field.

First, take a look at this landscape shot. It was captured with a narrow aperture, which resulted in a deep depth of field and sharpness throughout:

Now take a look at this street photo, which was taken with a wide aperture; it has a shallow depth of field:

And here’s a third example, which has a midrange depth of field. The entire photo isn’t sharp, but the main subject plus some of the surrounding area look crisp:

Finally, here’s one more example with an ultra-wide aperture for an ultra-shallow depth of field:

What’s important to know is that the aperture offers you creative control as a photographer. Want to create a blurry background? Pick a wide aperture. Want to keep your shot sharp throughout? Pick a narrow aperture.

Of course, you also have to remember the effect of aperture on exposure, which is what makes things a bit more complex (but a lot more fun!).

Adjusting the aperture on your camera

Now that you’ve made it this far, you might be wondering:

How can you actually change the aperture on your camera? What do you have to do?

Fortunately, adjusting the aperture is easy. You just set your camera’s shooting mode to Manual or Aperture Priority. Then rotate the relevant camera dial to change the f-number. (The specific dial will depend on your camera model; if you’re struggling, consult your manual.)

Which aperture is best?

When photographers first learn about aperture, this is a question that crops up constantly.

But as you’ve hopefully gleaned from the sections above, there is no single best aperture that you can use all the time. Sometimes you’ll want a deep depth of field or you’ll want to darken down a too-bright shot, in which case you’ll need to use a narrow aperture. Other times you’ll want a shallow depth of field or you’ll want to brighten up a too-dark shot, in which case you’ll need to use a wide aperture.

That said…

There are apertures that get used consistently in certain genres. I’ll cover them briefly below, starting with:

The best landscape photography aperture

Landscape photographers gravitate toward small aperture settings, such as f/8, f/11, and even f/16.


When you’re shooting a sweeping photo of the land, sea, or sky, you often want to keep the whole shot sharp. That way, the viewer can appreciate every little detail of your majestic scene.

Landscape photos like this one generally require a narrow aperture.

Plus, a deep depth of field makes the shot feel more real, like the viewer could physically step into the scene.

The best portrait photography aperture

In portrait photography, it can be handy to have your subject perfectly in focus but the background nice and blurry. That way, your main subject stands out and the background doesn’t become a distraction.

Wide apertures work great for portraits!

In other words, use a large aperture to ensure a shallow depth of field.

It’s a trick used by family portrait photographers, headshot photographers, fashion photographers, and more.

The best macro photography aperture

Macro (i.e., close-up) photographers tend to disagree over aperture.

Some macro photographers use a very narrow aperture because depth of field gets shallower at high magnifications. And by using a narrow aperture, a macro photographer can ensure that their entire subject is in focus, even if the background is blurred.

This macro photo was shot at f/13; at such high magnifications, keeping an entire insect in focus is tough.

Whereas other macro photographers embrace a shallow depth of field. They use a very wide aperture for a soft-focus effect.

A soft-focus effect looks great in macro photography.

Which is the way to go? That depends on your preferences! Both approaches work well, and there are plenty of professionals using each technique, so don’t stress about it too much.

Aperture in photography: final words

Hopefully, you now have a good understanding of aperture in photography and how you can use it to gain creative control over your photos.

But if you’re still a little confused, that’s okay. Grab your camera and do some experimenting. Find a subject – an apple works great! – and shoot it with different apertures. Watch as the depth of field changes.

Pretty soon, it’ll click. And your photos will (genuinely!) never be the same again.

The post Aperture in Photography: A Beginner’s Guide (+ Examples) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Darren Rowse.