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Updated: 6 hours 14 min ago

7 Easy Tips for Amazing People Photography

14 hours 2 min ago

The post 7 Easy Tips for Amazing People Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Lynsey Mattingly.

Struggling to capture top-notch photos of people? You’re not alone.

People photography can be hard. Posing, keeping the subject relaxed, choosing the right settings – it’s enough to make anyone’s brain hurt! Fortunately, I’m a veteran portrait shooter, and in this article, I share my absolute best tips for how to photograph people like a pro.

Below, you’ll discover:

Ready to level up your people photography skills? Then let’s do this!

1. Be realistic

If you’re just starting out photographing people, don’t expect too much of yourself or over-promise your abilities.

As long as you’re knowledgeable about camera settings, lighting, composition/posing, and editing, you’ll get some good images, and your clients will likely be pleased. But don’t claim that you’ll be able to produce dozens of high-quality shots; if you do, you risk frustrating your clients instead.

And if you have absolutely zero practice photographing in a certain situation, tell your client. If you’ve been asked to shoot a wedding, for instance, explain your lack of experience – just in case things go sideways. If you’re doing a family session but you’ve never worked with young kids, be honest.

If your client is a good fit, they’ll understand and will be forgiving of any mishaps during the session. (On the other hand, if your client isn’t pleased, perhaps they’d be better off with someone more experienced!)

2. Simplify everything

When you’re just starting out with people photography, you may be tempted to use sophisticated poses, add lots of props, go crazy with lighting patterns, and so on. It’s what the pros do, right?

But here’s the truth:

You can produce stunning shots of people without making things overly complex. And if you add in too much complexity, you risk losing control over the session, which is never a good thing.

So do yourself a favor and keep things simple. Look for flat, one-color backgrounds that’ll make your subject stand out. Memorize a handful of basic poses (and carry pictures for reference on your phone as a backup). Shoot with natural light during the golden hours. And test out a handful of settings beforehand so you know exactly what to do in the heat of the moment. (For specific settings recommendations, see my next tip!)

Also, make sure you position your subjects in front of simple scenes. Avoid horizon lines that run through your subjects’ heads, avoid street signs sprouting out of bodies, and avoid eye-catching splashes of color that’ll only serve to distract the viewer.

3. Use the right people photography settings

If you want to capture well-exposed, detailed images of people, then you need to get your settings right. Unfortunately, there’s no array of best settings that you can use for consistent results – the perfect settings always depend on the situation – but I do have some recommendations:

  • Work in Aperture Priority mode, which will let you dial in your desired aperture and ISO while your camera chooses the perfect shutter speed (for a good exposure). It’s the camera mode that many portrait photographers use, and it’ll offer control over key settings while also automating the exposure process.
  • If you’re photographing one or two people, a wide aperture is a good call – at f/2.2, for instance, you can keep the eyes and face in focus while creating a beautifully blurry background. If you’re photographing groups of three or more, I’d recommend narrowing the aperture to at least f/2.8 (and you may need to narrow the aperture further depending on the situation).
  • If you’re using natural light, dial in the lowest ISO you can afford. If you’re working in bright light, ISO 100 is a good starting point; if you’re working in the shade or in the late evening, ISO 400 is an option; and if you’re shooting indoors, you may need to boost your ISO to 800 and beyond.
  • If you’re using strong artificial light (such as flashes or studio strobes) set your ISO to 100 and forget about it.
  • Shoot in RAW; this will give you extra wiggle room when editing (though RAW photos will take up more space, so be sure to bring plenty of memory cards!).
  • Let your camera choose the shutter speed (using Aperture Priority), but pay attention to its value. If the shutter speed drops below 1/200s or so, consider boosting the ISO or widening the aperture to force the shutter speed upward and to improve sharpness.

If you’re used to working on Auto mode, spend some time practicing with these settings before the big day. You don’t want to miss a shot because you’re busy fiddling with your camera, right?

4. Shoot from your subject’s eye level or higher

If you photograph people from below, the results will be very unflattering and your subjects won’t be pleased.

Instead, for the best, most flattering setup, shoot from your subject’s eye level or above. An eye-level angle will prevent any perspective distortion, and it’ll create an intimate connection between the subject and the viewer.

And if you shoot from above, you can subtly slim down the subject while emphasizing their eyes and face. I’m a fan of the higher angle, so I often have people kneel down and look up at me while I remain standing.

I’d also encourage you to shoot from off to one side, not straight on. Straight images look static and boring while angled images are much more interesting. You might also ask your subject to twist at the waist, shoulders, or neck to add a bit of extra dynamism.

5. Help the subject relax

The best people photos look natural. Sure, they might be posed, but the subject’s expression and demeanor should seem casual and relaxed.

But how do you make sure your subject feels relaxed?

It starts with conversation. Whenever you start a new session or approach a new subject, you shouldn’t just dive in with your camera. First, spend some time talking about non-photographic things: the weather, the weekend, interests, etc.

And once you start shooting, don’t work in silence. Keep the conversation going! That way, your subject stays relaxed, and you’ll get plenty of natural-looking photos.

Make sure you project confidence, no matter your actual comfort levels. If you seem confident, your subject will be confident.

And if your subject is looking very stiff, give them something to do or a prop to hold. It’ll take their mind off your camera (and your pictures will improve).

6. Do some post-processing (but not too much!)

Editing programs like Lightroom and Photoshop are very powerful. And if you’re shooting in RAW, they should become an essential part of your workflow.

Once you’ve finished a session or event, import all your files into your favorite post-processing software. Then go through and pick out the best images for editing.

Next, make some basic adjustments. Fix the white balance, correct the exposure, and consider adding a bit of contrast and saturation for extra pop. If the composition feels off, don’t be afraid to crop (though don’t crop too heavily – otherwise, you’ll lose pixels and image quality will suffer).

Finally, if your subject has any blemishes, you might try removing them. This is a personal decision, however, and will depend on both you and your subject.

One warning: Don’t go overboard with your editing. If you’re just starting out, the idea of playing around with editing tools might seem fun – but it’s very easy to ruin images by oversharpening, adding too much saturation, swapping colors, and so on.

I encourage extensive restraint when editing photos of people. If you’re not sure whether you’ve taken an image too far, check the Before and After view, and err on the side of caution. Got it?

7. Don’t try to turn a photoshoot into something it’s not

If you’re a fan of photography that involves elaborate setups, expensive wardrobes, dramatic lighting, and professional models, then you might be tempted to capture images that look like they belong in fashion magazines – even if you’re doing a simple event or family portrait session.

That’s a mistake. It’s important to always tailor your photos to the client’s needs and interests. Make sure the photos fit the purpose!

If you’re doing a family session, keep the wardrobe, lighting, and poses simple, no matter your skill level. And if you’re photographing an event, look to capture candid moments; don’t pose your subjects to infinity.

Of course, if you get hired to capture fashion models, or if you schedule a fashion photoshoot on your own time, then go wild! Do plenty of styling, spend time on the wardrobe, and include sophisticated poses. Just make sure that you and your client/model are on the same page!

How to photograph people: final words

Well, there you have it:

Simple tips for capturing excellent images of people, no matter your skill level.

Hopefully, the next time you pick up your camera, you’ll feel a lot more confident!

Which of these tips do you plan to use first? What kind of people photography do you plan to do? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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The post 7 Easy Tips for Amazing People Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Lynsey Mattingly.

Weekly dPS Photo Challenge: Red

Fri, 08/12/2022 - 16:00

The post Weekly dPS Photo Challenge: Red appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Sime.

This week your challenge is simple, or is it…

The theme is ‘Red’ so you can have a ‘mostly red’ scene, maybe an epic sunset? You could have a red ‘feature’ in your image (selective colour, please… no) or maybe it could be a take on ‘seeing red’ Really it’s up to you, but I’d like you to be creative, put some thought into it and see what you come up with! Many options from a simple theme!

Make sure you use these hashtags with your post #dpsweeklychallenge #dpsRed

Coming in hot!

For me, tonight was all about photographing football at my local club (we won, yay) and this shot, along with a stunning looking red crane on a building site on the way home is why I’ve gone with ‘Red’ – During the week I’ll try for a shot of the crane and share it in our Facebook Group (you should join)

Anyway! Take your ‘red’ photo, just one photograph for the challenge and share it in the comments below or over in our Facebook group, linked above, are just share it on your social media and tag is, and include the hashtags!

Have a great week!

Simon

The post Weekly dPS Photo Challenge: Red appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Sime.

Canon to Announce EOS R Replacement “in the Next Six Months or So”

Fri, 08/12/2022 - 06:00

The post Canon to Announce EOS R Replacement “in the Next Six Months or So” appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

A Canon EOS R replacement is in the works, according to Canon Rumors, which revealed that  “the new camera could be announced in late 2022 or in early 2023, with a ship date coming in Q1 of 2023.” 

While the new camera won’t bear the EOS R name – CR notes that we should not expect a Canon EOS R Mark II – it will likely be aimed at the enthusiast and semi-professional segment of Canon users and will build on features present in the EOS R. Specifically, the new camera “will sit below the Canon EOS R6 but will not be a new version of the Canon EOS RP.”

So what will the Canon EOS R successor offer? 

When the Canon EOS R initially debuted back in 2018, it drew significant criticism for its lack of innovative features; it was, some users claimed, a mirrorless Canon 5D Mark IV but with several key downgrades, including the loss of dual card slots. Users were also frustrated by Canon’s failure to compete with Sony’s powerful 2018 release, the a7 III. The EOS R offered a decent electronic viewfinder but no in-body image stabilization, and the R’s 4K/30p video came with a substantial (1.7x) crop.

In the years since, Canon has sought to rectify its mistakes. The EOS R5, in particular, took up the Canon EOS 5D mantle, boasting dual card slots, excellent in-body image stabilization, outstanding autofocus capabilities, and impressive 8K/30p video. It’s an all-around professional body that can handle nearly any shooting situation, from landscape and travel to sports and wildlife – so where does that leave an EOS R replacement?

If I had to guess, I’d say that Canon’s upcoming camera will be a small step down from the EOS R in terms of Canon’s targeting, but with several major improvements over the EOS R (thanks to mirrorless technology developed since the EOS R’s launch).

For instance, an EOS R replacement will likely boast in-body image stabilization, a useful feature that’s present in all of Canon’s recent high-end mirrorless models, including the Canon EOS R5, EOS R6, EOS R7, and EOS R3. Autofocus and high-speed continuous shooting will undoubtedly receive a boost; Canon AF systems have improved in leaps and bounds since 2018, and burst modes are now regularly reaching 20+ FPS (using the electronic shutter) and 15 FPS (using the mechanical shutter) compared to the EOS R’s “measly” 8 FPS continuous shooting.

Video capabilities, too, should get a major upgrade. An EOS R replacement will offer at least 4K/60p, and – depending on whether Canon seeks to target hybrid shooters and videographers – perhaps higher.

As for image quality: The EOS R packs a full-frame, 30 MP sensor, which offers a nice balance of resolution and low-light capabilities. Canon might choose to use a similar sensor in an EOS R replacement – or the company may look to lower the sensor resolution to 24 MP. 

Regardless, we should get some specification rumors in the next few months, so be sure to check back for new information.

Now over to you:

What would you like to see in a Canon EOS R Mark II? And what do you think the new camera will be called? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

The post Canon to Announce EOS R Replacement “in the Next Six Months or So” appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

How to Photograph Artwork (8 Essential Tips)

Thu, 08/11/2022 - 06:00

The post How to Photograph Artwork (8 Essential Tips) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Glenn Harper.

Looking to photograph your own artwork, artwork at a museum, or artwork at a gallery?

Capturing artwork may seem simple, but it’s hard to do well. There are technical hurdles to overcome; for instance, you must achieve an even exposure, avoid reflections, focus accurately, and choose the perfect aperture to keep the art sharp.

I love to document artwork. And in this article, I share the tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years, which cover lighting, settings, gear choice, and more.

Note that the techniques I give are geared toward two-dimensional art: paintings, drawings, and prints. But many of the tips I offer also apply to three-dimensional art – so if you’re hoping to capture installations and/or sculptures, I’d still encourage you to keep reading!

Detail from The Ninth Wave (1850) by Ivan Aivazovsky. Russian Museum, St Petersburg. 1. Carefully adjust the white balance

When photographing artwork, white balance is not objective – there’s a creative decision that must be made. Do you want to preserve the color of the art as you see it? Or should you neutralize any color casts and make the whites white? Will you be a historian? Or will you be a restorer?

I could have restored the whiteness and original color to this Victorian newspaper with a single click. Instead, by using a gray card, I’ve reproduced its 125-year-old state.

Paper and paint tend to discolor with age. You have to decide if you want to copy what you see or turn back the clock – assuming you’re correct in your assumptions about the original color.

To correct the white balance on a piece of art, you have two main options:

  1. If you want to make the whites appear white, take the photo using your camera’s Auto White Balance setting, then open the image in a photo-editing program. Choose an area within the artwork that should be neutral in tone – preferably a mid-gray spot. Click on this area with a white balance tool to equalize the RGB values and correct color throughout the piece. Problems arise when the artwork has aged more in some places than others, and you may end up with ugly yellow blotches in certain areas.
  2. If you want to preserve signs of aging, take a shot using a gray card, then use it to set the white balance when processing the file. It’ll keep the existing color of the artwork, including signs of aging. And if you want to emphasize an antique look, you can always warm the photo up a bit.

A third option – if you have no neutral tones in the image and you didn’t use a gray card – is to fiddle with the color temperature and tint sliders until you think the white balance is correct. Correcting color by eye is hit and miss, however, and it’s never as accurate as the options discussed above.

One thing we know about snow is that it looks white! Artificial lighting and/or aging made this painting yellow. A white balance tool can quickly restore the whites, though it’s hard to know how the painting looked when fresh. Artist: Ferdinand Schmidt (c. 1900), La Piscine Museum, Roubaix.

By the way, the light source will dramatically affect the white balancing process. Avoid mixed lighting if you can! In museums, you won’t often find paintings under mixed light sources, but the same is not true of sculptures. A mixture of warm artificial light and window light can cause strong orange or blue color casts in parts of the final image, which can be hard to deal with in post-processing:

Art museums rarely display paintings under mixed lighting, but you might find sculptures near windows. That will often result in blue highlights and orange shadows. Sculpture: Epicurus and Metrodorus, Louvre Museum. 2. Be careful when using window light This old advertisement was on display outside. Though the temperature of daylight varies, no other light source displays color so fully across the visible spectrum. Kattenkabinet Museum, Amsterdam.

Daylight is great at displaying the colors of the visible spectrum with little bias. It’s an ideal light source for art. The only problem? You can’t control it very well. If you use window light to photograph a piece of art, the exposure will likely be uneven from side to side. In fact, you may see a difference of a stop or more! (By using a reflector, you can get this down to about half a stop or less.)

Of course, you can balance the exposure in post-processing. It can help to photograph a blank card or piece of white paper under the same light; the result will make the uneven exposure obvious when viewed on the computer. You can then use what you see to correct your other photos from the same location.

If you photograph a postcard by window light, flipping it over makes an uneven exposure more obvious. The right portion of this photo is 25% brighter than the left.

Once you identify exposure inconsistencies, use adjustment brushes or a graduated filter tool to correct the issues. A graduated filter tool is perfect for this, but you can just as easily use brushes with lots of feathering.

3. Correctly position the art and your camera

When photographing a 2D piece of art, you’ll need to position it flat against a wall or table. You should then align the camera sensor perfectly with the art’s 2D plane. Otherwise, you’ll see the same “keystone” effect you get with architecture where vertical lines converge. In other words, the art will be slightly distorted if you take your photo at an angle (though not always to a noticeable degree).

Use spirit levels along with perpendicular lines in the artwork to achieve the best possible perspective. Heavy corrections for keystoning after the fact have an adverse effect on image quality, which may or may not be noticeable depending on your intended use.

One way you can align a camera with 2D art is to use a spirit level. Test the surface that the art lies against, then make adjustments with props if necessary (much as you would fix a table leg on an uneven floor). Do the same thing with your camera, using a spirit level on the hot shoe to ensure that it’s perfectly level.

Ideally, you want the camera to be level with the center of the picture when photographing art. I haven’t done too badly with this handheld shot, though it’s slightly tilted to the right (wall-mounted paintings can tilt at the top). The correction will be moderate. Artist: Lucien Jonas (1880-1947), La Piscine Museum, Roubaix.

Spirit levels vary in their accuracy, but you’ll soon determine if your method works. If it does, the horizontal and vertical edges of the artwork will align at 90-degree angles. If your setup is off-kilter, you’ll see the slight keystone effect discussed above.

If you don’t shoot with a perfectly level camera toward a perfectly level piece of art, all is not lost; you can correct the perspective in editing software, but you’ll lose some sharpness along the way. So it’s best to do the best you can while working in the field and only make minor corrections later.

Note: If all you’re doing is sharing a photo of a painting on Facebook, you don’t need to be fussy about aligning the artwork and your camera. Using a sufficiently narrow aperture will compensate for minor focusing errors, and nobody’s going to notice imperfect verticals! On the other hand, if you’re selling art online, you want the images to look as perfect as possible.

4. Use the right lens and aperture

You can photograph artwork with any camera, but it’s important to choose a lens with minimal distortion and excellent optics. You also want a lens that you can use at close range without issue.

I’d recommend a 50mm or 100mm prime lens with decent close-focusing capabilities. Many people use macro lenses, not least because they create very little distortion at close range. A high-quality zoom – such as a 24-70mm lens – will also suffice.

Two-dimensional art doesn’t require much depth of field, so don’t feel compelled to choose a small aperture if you don’t have the necessary light. On the other hand, closing the lens down two or three stops will often give you maximum sharpness and will compensate for slight focusing errors or a failure to properly align your camera with the artwork, so if you can, shoot at f/8.

5. Focus using Live View

Without question, the most accurate way to focus on art is to set your camera up on a tripod and use its Live View mode while focusing manually.

So if sharpness is critical, it pays to switch your lens to its manual focus mode, turn on Live View, then zoom in and focus carefully using the LCD.

Note that for three-dimensional subjects like statues, Live View is invaluable. It’ll help you overcome problems like field curvature, inaccurate focusing screens or focusing points, and misaligned mirrors and sensors. When in doubt, Live View is the way to go!

Of course, if you’re just taking casual shots, feel free to focus (manually or automatically) through the viewfinder and let a deep depth of field take care of any minor errors.

6. Take steps to avoid reflections

When you’re capturing a photo of two-dimensional art behind glass, you’ll often run into reflections that distract the viewer and ruin image clarity. If you’re not set on photographing that particular piece of artwork, it might be better to just move on to another subject. That said, there are ways of avoiding or minimizing reflections in your artwork photos:

  • Do not use direct on-camera flash. It’ll create a hideous hotspot on the glass that will be impossible to remove in post-processing.
  • Use directional light sources that come from the side, preferably two at equal distance (one on either side of the art). Non-directional light is softer but will create reflections of other items in the room.
  • Wear black clothes; they’ll show up less in reflections and absorb light from other sources.
  • Get friends or relatives in dark clothing to stand near the art and block reflections.
  • Use a large black scrim/screen and push your lens through it to photograph the art. This is similar to the black-clothing approach, but it’s more effective.
  • Use a polarizing filter to cut out much of the glare. Unfortunately, a polarizer forces you to increase your shutter speed or boost your ISO, so it’s not ideal for capturing handheld shots in dim museums.
  • Shoot at a slight angle to cut out reflections, then adjust the perspective in post-processing. As discussed in a previous tip, if you overdo this, you’ll see a decrease in edge-to-edge sharpness.
  • Examine the artwork carefully for reflections that may not be immediately obvious. In my experience, reflections have a habit of being more noticeable on a computer monitor!
7. Use the right lighting to capture artwork texture

If you want to capture texture on a piece of art (e.g., an oil painting), the last thing you want is a diffuse light source like a fluorescent bulb. What you need is a directional light source that’s positioned off to one side.

In oil paintings, revealing texture usually means that some light will reflect into the lens, which can be distracting. It’s a question of controlling the effect so that spectral highlights don’t ruin the picture. A polarizing filter will help as long as it doesn’t increase the exposure time too much.

The reflections in this oil-painted portrait emphasize texture, but they’re distracting. Like all spectral highlights, reflections in art need to be subtle and kept away from the image focal points.

Note that LED lighting is directional by nature. You can improvise at home by setting up LED narrow-beam G50 spotlights or similar. Otherwise, you can control diffuse artificial lighting or flash lighting with modifiers (such as snoots).

8. Consider purchasing advanced equipment

If you’re photographing fairly small artworks, you can be ultra-professional by using equipment designed specifically for art photography.

For instance, consider purchasing a copy stand, which includes a base, two lights, a column, and an arm to hold your camera. A copy stand is ideal for photographing large volumes of flat art; it’ll keep you set up and prepared to shoot, whereas setting up a tripod, a camera, and lighting takes time. Copy stands cost around $200, but you can pick one up secondhand for $100 or less.

I’d also recommend looking into light tables; these are often used to create product photos with a clear, smooth white background, but you can just as easily use one to photograph small artworks and ornaments. (That said, if you want to record flat artworks without a background, a copy stand is a better bet.)

Finally, consider purchasing or making a light tent: a five-sided cube held together by wire or plastic. Light tent sides are made from a translucent material that diffuses the light, and many tents come with various backgrounds. Some tents even have a hole in the top that lets you point the lens downward, which is ideal for photographing small, flat artworks.

You need an even exposure for flat art, so it’s a good idea to position lights of equal strength at an equal distance on either side of the tent.

Light tents can easily be made at home by constructing a simple frame and covering it with translucent material.
Photo: Alison Christine from North Yorkshire, UK [CC BY 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons

Light tents are often cheap to buy, unlike light tables and copy stands. They’re often flimsy, but since they’re only a few bucks, they’re generally worth trying. If the gear works, no viewer is ever going to question how much you spent on your gear!

A young girl distracts herself with flowers whilst possibly slightly bored at a wedding table. Artist: Albert Fourié (1854-1937), Musée des beaux-arts de Rouen. How to photograph art: final words

Now that you’ve finished this article, you’re ready to capture top-quality photos of art – whether you’re shooting at home or at a museum.

Just remember to keep your audience in mind. You don’t need to spend long minutes taking each shot if you only plan to share your images on Facebook. Conversely, if you’re after highly faithful record images, then make sure you spend extra time getting everything right.

What art do you plan to photograph? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

The post How to Photograph Artwork (8 Essential Tips) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Glenn Harper.

7 Affinity Photo Tips for Beginners

Wed, 08/10/2022 - 06:00

The post 7 Affinity Photo Tips for Beginners appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

Affinity Photo is a versatile image-editing tool; you can use it to make all sorts of changes to your photographs, from simple color correction to multi-layered image creation.

In this article, I’ll share with you some of the most helpful Affinity Photo tips to get you started. By the time you’ve finished reading, you’ll be ready to dive in and start editing (and, in time, you’ll come to love using Affinity Photo to enhance your files).

A quick note before we get started: The key to mastering photo-editing software is a combination of learning and practice. I encourage you to read a tip, then practice until what you learned becomes easy. Only then should you repeat the process. If you try to learn too much at once, you’ll probably forget most of it and become frustrated!

1. Familiarize yourself with Affinity Personas

Personas are workspaces in Affinity Photo; they’re the areas where you carry out a variety of tasks. Each Persona has a specific focus. They are:

  • The Develop Persona, where you apply basic edits at the beginning of the RAW processing workflow.
  • The Photo Persona, where you’ll do most of your serious editing.
  • The Liquify Persona, where you can do advanced pixel manipulation.
  • The Tone Mapping Persona, where you can manipulate the image dynamic range.
  • The Export Persona, which is used when you’ve completed work on an image and want to save it in a particular format.

You’ll find the Persona icons at the top left of the Affinity window:

To master each of these Personas takes considerable time and practice. Begin by familiarizing yourself with the purpose of each one. That way, you’ll know which workspace best suits your needs when editing.

2. Start by straightening and cropping your photos

When editing a new image, one of the first things you often need to do is straighten and crop. Fortunately, Affinity Photo makes these operations pretty painless.

You can apply a crop or a straightening adjustment in either the Develop or the Photo persona. Select the Crop icon from the Tools panel or use the keyboard shortcut (C).

A grid will be displayed over your photo:

To straighten the shot, hover your mouse over any of the four corner handles. Your cursor will change to a curved, two-headed arrow, and you should simply click and drag in the desired direction.

To crop the image, click and drag on one of the four handles along the edge of the grid, then drag the edge until you achieve your desired composition.

3. Eliminate spots and distractions with the Removal tools

In the Develop Persona, you can remove spots using the Blemish Removal tool. Click on the relevant icon in the toolbar or press “L” on your keyboard. Your cursor will change to a circle; you can adjust the size of the Removal tool using the square bracket keys ([ and ]).

Then click on the spot or blemish you want to remove and watch as it disappears!

In the Photo Persona, you do have more control, so it’s easier to do complex clone jobs. Click the Clone icon in the toolbar or press “S” on your keyboard to select the Clone tool.

To pick your clone source area, press and hold the Alt/Opt key and click the relevant spot. Then paint with the brush over the pixels you want to replace. (As with the Blemish Removal tool, you can resize the brush with the square bracket keys.)

4. Easily create selections using the Mask tool

If you want to adjust portions of your image while leaving other areas untouched, it pays to master the art of selection.

To make selections in Affinity Photo, hit the “Q” key to access the Mask tool. Then paint with a white Brush (hit the “B” key) over the area you want to select:

To refine your selection, click the corresponding layer in the Layers panel and type Alt/Opt+Ctrl/Cmd+R. This brings up the Refine Selection window. You can then carefully paint over edges where you’d like to improve the selection accuracy. Click Apply to render the changes.

In the Refine Selection window, you’ll have many additional options to help you control the accuracy of your selection:

Once you’ve created a good selection, the sky is the limit! You can sharpen or brighten the selected area, add beautiful color grades, and so much more.

5. Use Live Filters for non-destructive editing

In Affinity Photo, you can apply non-destructive edits thanks to Live Filters. These are like regular filters, but they’re applied non-destructively like adjustment layers. You can mask them, change them at any time, and move them up and down in the layer stack. 

Live Filters can be used to sharpen your photos, adjust shadows and highlights, do denoising, and much more. To find the Live Filters options, click on Layer in the top menu, then select New Live Filter Layer:

Once you’ve accessed the Live Filters options, just experiment and have fun! They all work without affecting the original image, so you don’t need to worry about permanently modifying your photo; any change you make can be revisited and tweaked as much as necessary throughout the editing process.

6. Do some dodging and burning to improve your photos

The Dodge and Burn tools are possibly the most underused editing options you’ll ever encounter, but they’re two of my favorites. You can access them in the Tools menu or by pressing “O” on your keyboard.

Note that painting with the Dodge tool will lighten portions of the image, while painting with the Burn tool will darken areas down.

I do recommend setting the opacity lower than 100% to keep the effect subtle. Choosing to work on the Shadows, Midtones, or Highlights – an option available in the main menu – offers even more fine control:

As with any Brush tool in Affinity, you can adjust the size using the square bracket keys ([ and ]). You can also manage the softness of the Brush edge to suit your edit.

7. Add text to your image for a personal touch

For those who want to turn their photos into cool graphics, Affinity Photo offers two methods to add text: the Artistic Text tool and the Frame Text tool.

Select the Text icon on the tools menu or press “T” to initiate the Text tool, then choose one of the two options listed above. With the Artistic Text tool, you can click and drag to adjust your text size. This is great when you want to add just a little text to your image. 

You can also click and drag with the Frame Text tool, and you’ll see a text box that contains any text you type. You can then select the text to resize it, change the color, or change the font. Once you have your text in place, you can apply all sorts of interesting adjustments until it looks exactly as you want it.

Affinity Photo tips: final words

I hope you’ve found these Affinity tips helpful; they’re designed to whet your appetite and get you started on your Affinity Photo journey!

Once you dive into this editing software and understand the essentials, you may find yourself unable to stop. Editing photos to get them just right can be addictive.

Starting out with new software is challenging. Take your time and enjoy the process. Make time to practice these tips and any others that you pick up. As you gain experience, you’ll start to get a feel for how Affinity Photo works and what it can do!

Which of these Affinity Photo tips do you plan to use first? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Nikon D800 | 55mm | f/8 | 1/400s | ISO 200

The post 7 Affinity Photo Tips for Beginners appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

10 Best Tripods for Photography (in 2022)

Tue, 08/09/2022 - 06:00

The post 10 Best Tripods for Photography (in 2022) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.

Choosing the best tripod for photography can be an overwhelming task. After all, there are hundreds (if not thousands) of options, all promising different benefits – so how do you pick the right model for your needs?

In this article, I share my top 10 favorite tripods, including options for all budgets and types of photography. Of course, not every great tripod is suitable for all photographers, so as you read, pay careful attention to the height range, the tripod material, the type of head, the overall tripod quality, and the warranty.

Bottom line: Whether you’re a beginner looking for that first inexpensive tripod or you’re a photography professional in need of a robust model that can withstand anything, you’re bound to find the perfect pick.

Let’s get to it!

1. Joby GorillaPod 3K Kit

If you’re looking for a versatile tripod that can hold your camera steady on any surface, then the Joby GorillaPod is the way to go.

Its super-flexible legs can handle difficult terrain, plus they can also wrap around tree branches, poles, and pretty much anything else – allowing you to capture sharp images from an original perspective.

The GorillaPod holds up to 6.6 lb (3 kg), which is perfect for compact mirrorless models as well as standard point-and-shoot cameras. (If your setup weighs more than 6.6 lb, you can always grab the Joby GorillaPod 5K instead). The high-quality aluminum construction will keep your camera safe, and rubber feet will ensure the legs remain stable on most surfaces.

The Joby GorillaPod has a ball head with a quick-release plate that’ll let you easily adjust the camera angle. And the modular design allows you to easily attach arms, flash clips, and other accessories.

You can bend the legs, but bear in mind that the tripod doesn’t really expand or retract, so the height range is a relatively constant 9.4 in (23.4 cm).

2. Manfrotto Compact Action Tripod

Most photographers hear the term “Manfrotto,” and they assume you’re talking about a tripod for professionals with a high budget – but while Manfrotto does make some excellent high-end models, the company also offers some great entry-level options, too, including the Manfrotto Compact Action Tripod.

This tripod boasts the high-quality design that characterizes Manfrotto models, yet it’s meant for entry-level DSLRs or mirrorless cameras with standard lenses. It supports up to 3.3 lb (1.5 kg), so you can comfortably mount a smaller DSLR plus a prime lens – though I wouldn’t recommend using bulky full-frame DSLRs or telephoto lenses.

The Compact Action Tripod is only 17.83 in (45.3 cm) when folded, so it’s great for travel and on-the-go photography. And it has five leg sections that give you an impressive 17.32 in (44 cm) to 61.02 in (155 cm) of height.

The tripod has an ergonomic joystick head with a circular quick-release plate, and you can easily adjust the position of your camera or even do smooth video shooting as required.

Despite the solid aluminum build, the Manfrotto Compact Action Tripod is surprisingly light (just 2.65 lb/1.2 kg). And it comes with a carrying bag for easy travel. Note that Manfrotto does offer a two-year warranty, but you can extend it for three additional years.

If you’re a photography enthusiast and are in need of a starter tripod, then the Manfrotto Compact Action Tripod is a great choice.

3. Kodak PhotoGear 2-in-1

Looking for a good budget-friendly tripod that’s versatile and gives you precise control over your camera angles? Then the Kodak PhotoGear 2-in-1 is a great pick.

Thanks to the three-way head, you can control each axis to precisely set the position of your camera. And the tripod comes with two different quick-release plates so you can use it with plenty of different setups.

The legs have four sections and are secured with flip locks; the center column is detachable and can be used as a monopod, which can come in handy when shooting action in low light or when working with telephoto lenses.

The tripod has an impressive height range, spanning from 21.5 to 70 in (54.61 to 177.8 cm), while the monopod reaches 17.75 to 64 in (45 to 162.5 cm). Unfortunately, the extra height does come with a slight boost in weight: The tripod is 3.7 lbs (1.67 kg), while the monopod weighs (when detached) 1 lb (450 g).

The aluminum build gives the PhotoGear a solid load capacity of 8.8 lb (3.9 kg), so it should be capable of handling most DSLRs and mirrorless cameras as well as short-to-midrange lenses. It even comes with a special holder for smartphone photography as well as a carry bag.

4. Neewer Tripod/Monopod with Rotatable Center Column

A little bit more expensive – but still quite affordable – is the Neewer Tripod/Monopod with Rotatable Center Column. Neewer is famous for offering high-quality gear at reasonable prices, and this tripod fits the pattern; if you’re looking to grab a versatile tripod without hurting your wallet, be sure to check it out.

The carbon fiber build ensures a sturdy product (though beware: the previous model was aluminum and is still on the market, so make sure you don’t buy it by accident!).

The maximum height is an impressive 72.4 in (184 cm), while the minimum height is 24.4 in (62 cm). Macro photographers will appreciate the reversible center column, which can get you low to the ground for low-angle shots of flowers, insects, and fungi. The center column also rotates and is perfect for panorama photography, flat lays, and more.

The legs are sturdy and divided into four sections, and one leg acts as a detachable monopod. The Neewer Tripod/Monopod supports a huge maximum load: 33 lb (14.96 kg), so you won’t need to worry when working with full-frame DSLRs and even lengthy telephoto lenses. Unfortunately, the tripod is on the heavier side (6 lb/2.76 kg), so if you plan to travel frequently, it’s not ideal – yet for the portrait, studio, or macro photographer seeking a low-priced, sturdy option, it’s still an excellent buy.

5. Vanguard VEO 3T 235 CBP

As a high-quality carbon fiber tripod, the Vanguard VEO 3T 235 CBP is perfect for travel photography, landscape photography, studio photography, and more. It’s also great for smartphone photography thanks to the build-in smartphone holder.

In fact, when you’re using the Vanguard VEO in smartphone mode, you get a cold-shoe mount, which can be used to attach lighting or mics. And the tripod even comes with a Bluetooth remote control compatible with iOS and Android devices.

The travel-ready design offers plenty of portability: the tripod is just 16.1 in (41 cm) when folded and weighs a reasonable 3.5 lb (1.6 kg). You can extend the tripod up to 61 in (155 cm) using the five leg extensions, which include metal spike feet as well as rubber ones (perfect for gripping on concrete, metal, and grass). One leg also serves as a detachable monopod, and the center column is reversible for low-angle landscape and macro photography.

The maximum load is a respectable 17.6 lb (8 kg), which makes the Vanguard VEO 3T 235 CBP perfect for carrying large rigs while traveling. It’s also an excellent tripod for photographers who do videography or want to stream on the go.

6. Peak Design Travel Tripod

When purchasing the Peak Design Travel Tripod, you get to select from two different versions: one aluminum and one carbon fiber. As you may know, carbon fiber is the lighter and more resistant material, yet it’s also more expensive; one of the great things about this tripod is that you get to choose the material that’s right for you.

The tripod’s weight will, of course, depend on the material you choose: the aluminum model weighs 3.3 lbs (1.5 kg), while the carbon fiber version weighs 2.79 lb (1.27 kg). Despite the light body, both models are sturdy and can hold up to 19.84 lb (9 kg) of gear.

What’s especially impressive about the Peak Design Travel Tripod, however, is not its sturdiness, but its size. When folded, the tripod is just 15 in (29 cm) long, yet it can extend to 60 in (153 cm) – and as Peak Design is so fond of saying, it’s no thicker than a water bottle! Therefore, it’s perfect for frequent travelers, outdoorsy photographers, and folks who prefer to keep their camera bag as light as possible.

The legs divide into five sections and include rubber feet and optional metal spikes for improved stability, while the ball head boasts a magnetically integrated mobile mount.

Is the Peak Design Travel Tripod the cheapest option on the market? No, especially if you spring for the carbon fiber version. But it is sturdy, and it’s a great choice for photographers looking for an impressively compact travel companion.

7. Benro Rhino FRHN34C+VX30

The Benro Rhino FRHN34C comes with the VX30 double panning ball head; it’s also light and compact for maximum portability while sporting a sturdy, carbon fiber build that supports up to 40 lb (20 kg).

When folded, the Rhino is just 19.45 in (49 cm) and weighs 4.54 lb (2.6 kg). In use, it extends from 19.33 in (49.1 cm) to 68.75 in (174.7 cm), which offers plenty of height for high-angle shots and tall photographers. And if you need an ultra-low angle, you can always reverse the central column.

The legs are divided into 4 twist-locking sections, and the leg angle can be easily adjusted and secured with the push of a button. A detachable leg can pair with the central column to become a monopod.

The feet are rubber, but you can attach the (included) metal spikes if you plan to work on rough terrain. The tripod also has three accessory mounts, and it comes with an Allen key and a carrying bag.

The standard warranty is three years, and it can be extended online for added peace of mind. So if you’re after a sturdy, rugged, long-lasting tripod, consider grabbing the Benro Rhino.

8. 3 Legged Thing Legends Bucky

The Legends Bucky is a stylish carbon fiber tripod that comes in metallic slate grey or earth bronze. It’s designed for professional travel photographers, so it isn’t cheap – but the excellent design and impressive quality justify the price.

The tripod weighs 4.86 lb (1.86 kg) and features a folded length of 16.14 in (41 cm), which should be handy for frequent travelers. The maximum height is an impressive 76.6 in (194 cm) while the minimum height is 8.43 in (21 cm). And you can reverse the center column to capture stunning macro and low-angle landscape photos. You can even detach the legs and replace them with the feet to convert the Legends Bucky into a tabletop tripod; how’s that for versatility?

(There’s an extensive line of footwear options for this tripod. Choose the best feet for the height you want on the type of terrain you’re facing!)

The legs have five sections that are secured with twist locks, and one detaches to become a monopod. The maximum load capacity is a whopping 66 lb (30 kg).

The tripod comes with the Airhed VU Precision Ball Head, but the mount is standard so you can pair the legs with another head if you prefer.

The Legends Bucky also comes with an anodized magnesium alloy D-ring, a multi-tool, a premium protective carrying bag with extensible straps, a quick-release plate, and a microfiber head bag. All products offer a five-year warranty.

9. Manfrotto 475B (with the XPRO head)

The Manfrotto 475B is the best tripod for studio photographers – and anyone else who needs to carefully position their camera. We’d recommend pairing it with the X-PRO head, a 3-way option that offers more control than a ball head; it lets you make micro-step adjustments along three axes for absolute precision.

The 475B is a professional studio tripod that works perfectly with the X-PRO head. The center braced structure and three-faceted center column provide excellent stability, though the tripod does compromise on portability: the 475B is made of 11.68 lb (5.3 kg) of aluminum, so you certainly won’t want to take it on lengthy hikes.

The legs have three sections with flip locks, so together with the geared center column, you’ll have maximum precision when adjusting the height. And the center braces have click-stop positions to lock the legs at different angles for improved balance.

Tall photographers will appreciate the 74 in (188 cm) maximum height, though the tripod only drops down to 16.93 in (43 cm), which isn’t ideal for low-angle photography. At the end of the day, the Manfrotto 475B is no versatile travel or outdoor tripod, but it’ll do a great job in a product or portrait studio.

10. Gitzo GK4543LS-83LR Systematic Series 4

The Gitzo GK4543LS-83LR is a heavy-duty tripod; it’s designed for serious landscape, outdoor, sports, and bird photographers and is sold with the GH4383LR center ball head (which is designed specifically for heavy cameras with 600mm or longer telephoto lenses). The GK4543LS supports a maximum load of 61.8 lb (28 kg), which offers more than enough stability for even the biggest rigs, and it extends to 67.1 in (170.5 cm), which should give you plenty of height for high-angle photography.

That said, the tripod only folds down to 24 in (61 cm), so you might struggle to pack it in a suitcase while traveling. It’s decently versatile, though: The legs have four sections with twist locks and rubber feet, and the modular design makes the GK4543LS compatible with all Gitzo accessories.

The tripod weighs 8.37 lb (3.8 kg), so it’s not exactly light – but as I emphasized above, this tripod is designed for maximum stability and durability, not travel readiness. The standard warranty lasts six months, but upon registration, it can be extended to a total of seven years.

This tripod and head don’t come cheap, but for professional photographers who require top-notch quality and design, they’re undoubtedly worth the investment.

Best photography tripod: final words

Determining the perfect tripod is tough, and there are so many options on the market that it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

But pick one of these tripods, and you’ll be well on your way toward sharp shots!

Which tripod do you plan to buy? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Best Tripod for Photography FAQs How much does a tripod cost?

A professional heavy-duty tripod can cost thousands of dollars, but you can find small, simple options that cost around $30 to $40. While you don’t need to buy the most expensive tripod, make sure you invest in a well-built model.

What is a good tripod height?

It depends on the type of photography you want to do. Macro photography requires short tripods, while group portraits and real-estate photography is often done from high up. A good general rule is that the tripod should be stable (i.e., not fully extended) when your camera is at eye level.

How do I choose a tripod?

That depends on your needs. If you mostly shoot in the studio, don’t worry so much about weight or compactness. A travel tripod can be good for on-the-go photographers, but if you’re more of a generalist, look for a good all-around tripod to start.

Do I need a tripod for smartphone photography?

Yes. A smartphone, like a camera, needs a tripod to gain stability in low-light situations. It also helps to have a fixed frame when composing, and a tripod even lets you do high-quality self-portraits.

The post 10 Best Tripods for Photography (in 2022) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.

5 Reasons to Do 35mm Travel Photography (+ Tips)

Mon, 08/08/2022 - 06:00

The post 5 Reasons to Do 35mm Travel Photography (+ Tips) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

I love 35mm travel photography. With my 35mm f/1.4 lens on a full-frame body, I can photograph just about anything; it’s the most versatile prime lens in my kit, it’s fast, and it’s super sharp.

Traveling with a 35mm lens opens up wonderful opportunities to capture the world around you. I use my 35mm prime more than any other lens because it can handle so many different subjects, from portraits and landscapes to architecture and food. In fact, if I could take only one prime lens with me when I travel, it would be my 35mm.

Below, I explain my top five reasons to use a 35mm prime lens for travel shooting – and I share a handful of tips and tricks to help you level up your 35mm images.

Let’s get started!

5 reasons to love 35mm travel photography

For over 10 years now, I’ve been using my 35mm lens for travel photography (and plenty of other genres, too!). I was initially hesitant to buy it – I was worried about the price and the quality of the background bokeh – but I eventually took the leap, and I’m so glad I did!

Note that, if you’re reading this article and own a crop-sensor camera, you’ll need to think in terms of equivalent focal lengths. So if you use an APS-C camera, the advice I give applies to (roughly) 24mm lenses, and if you use a four-thirds camera, you’ll need a 17mm lens to get a 35mm focal length equivalent.

Nikon D800 | 35mm | f/4.5 | 2.5s | ISO 400 1. 35mm lenses offer an outstanding field of view

I love the field of view on my 35mm lens. It’s a little wider than we see – not including our peripheral vision – but it still provides a very natural-looking photo. For travel photography, 35mm lenses offer a wide-enough view without going too wide.

This field of view produces a very documentary look and feel. It shows the scene the way we see it in real life. And because it’s not excessively wide, it won’t introduce much distortion into your travel compositions.

2. 35mm lenses are compact

Size and weight matter a lot when traveling. It’s often tough to know what gear to pack when heading off on a trip. Do you take a big, heavy zoom lens? Or do you opt for a fast, versatile, lightweight 35mm lens?

Personally, I’m a fan of keeping things light and comfortable, which is why I go with the 35mm option. Now, a 35mm f/1.4 is larger and heavier than 35mm f/1.8 and f/2 lenses. But they’re all pretty easy to carry, and I do prefer the f/1.4 version because of the added low-light performance and improved bokeh.

It’s also important to realize that the actual size and weight depend on your camera system. But while my Nikon 35mm f/1.4G is one of the largest and heaviest 35mm lenses on the market, I still have no problem taking it with me when traveling.

Nikon D800 | 35mm | f/6.3 | 1/800s | ISO 200 3. The fixed focal length forces you to move

Some photographers might view this as a downside of 35mm lenses (or any other prime lens, for that matter). But I disagree. I believe that we are forced to be more creative when using a prime lens because we have to move to capture the composition we want. Zooming is not an option, and that’s a good thing!

Nikon D800 | 35mm | f/5.6 | 1/640s | ISO 200

With a 35mm lens attached to your camera when you travel, you’ll have to move more frequently – and as a consequence, you’ll see the world in different ways. The first composition you frame up in a photograph is not always the most interesting.

If you work with a zoom lens, you’ll be tempted to simply move the focal length back and forth without changing your perspective. But with a 35mm prime, you have to physically move to capture an alternative composition. The background will change, the light’s interaction with your subject will change, and you’ll realize how much more you can do with a little movement.

Nikon D800 | 35mm | f/9 | 1/6s | ISO 800 4. A 35mm lens produces fabulous bokeh

You may not realize this, but the background blur produced by 35mm lenses is gorgeous.

You don’t even need a 35mm f/1.4 lens to take photos with great bokeh. Even at f/1.8, a 35mm lens can deliver deliciously blurry backgrounds. And the closer you get to your subject, the better the background will look.

Nikon D800 | 35mm | f/1.4 | 1/4000s | ISO 50

As you use a 35mm prime lens more and more for travel photography, you will get a great feel for its bokeh effects. I’ve taken so many photos with my 35mm f/1.4 that I can predict how blurred my background will be in advance! Of course, you don’t always need to shoot at f/1.4 or even f/1.8 to achieve a blurry background (and sometimes such an ultra-wide aperture will produce a too-shallow depth of field). So don’t be afraid to narrow the aperture as needed.

5. 35mm primes are sharp

I know that if I take a photo with my 35mm prime lens and it doesn’t turn out sharp, then it’s my fault. Why? Because the optics are fantastic!

Over the years, I’ve owned and used many zoom lenses, some of them better than others. And they weren’t always sharp at every focal length. That’s the nature of zooms.

But primes – and not just 35mm primes – are consistently sharp. Even the cheap primes tend to offer pro-level sharpness. When you work with a lens like that and you end up with a blurry shot, then you know it’s your problem, not the lens’s (and you can take steps to fix the issue!).

Nikon D700 | 35mm | f/9 | 1/320s | ISO 200 35mm travel photography tips

If you use a 35mm lens for travel photography, you can produce some terrific results. (And if you’re used to working with a zoom lens, you may be surprised by how versatile a 35mm prime lens actually is!)

Here are some tips to help you capture top-notch 35mm travel images:

1. Commit to using your 35mm lens regularly

Getting a feel for a prime lens is generally different than getting a feel for a zoom lens – and the more committed you are to shooting with your 35mm lens, the quicker you’ll get used to it.

You’ll begin to understand the types of compositions you can capture, and choosing the right aperture setting will become instinctive. You’ll know how close you are to your subject and the aperture you need to capture a perfect amount of blur.

For travel landscapes, interiors, portraits, and any other type of photo you want to take, you’ll easily determine where to position yourself. And you’ll know – before you even bring your camera to your eye – what you’re capturing, whether you need to move, or whether you might need to switch lenses completely.

Nikon D800 | 35mm | f/5.6 | 1/400s | ISO 200 2. Use your 35mm lens for candid portraits

Many photographers think you need a long lens to capture candid portraits while traveling. And sure, a long lens will allow you to stand back and go unnoticed, but the farther you are from your subject, the more you’ll end up with a disconnect – a lack of intimacy – in the final image.

That’s why I encourage you to use a 35mm lens instead! I love using my 35mm lens for candid street-style portraits when I travel, and I find it works especially well in busy places like city squares and markets.

When I find someone I want to capture, I move in close. I don’t photograph them immediately; instead, I take pictures of other subjects. I’m not concerned with remaining anonymous because if the person doesn’t think I am photographing them, it doesn’t matter if they can see me and my camera.

I keep both eyes open so I can see my intended subject. When they’re not looking, I’ll quickly compose and capture a photo, then I’ll move my camera away so it’s not pointed at their face. If they look up when they hear me taking a photo, my camera will already be pointed in a different direction.

Nikon D800 | 35mm | f/3.5 | 1/500s | ISO 400 3. Shoot some environmental travel portraits

When I include people in my photos, while I do sometimes capture candid shots (see the previous tip!), I prefer to engage with my subjects directly. I love making environmental portraits of artists and workers doing what they do.

Nikon D700 | 35mm | f/3.5 | 1/30s | ISO 250

I start by showing an interest in their activity, even if we speak no common language. People in public places are generally happy that someone has taken notice, and with my 35mm lens, I can position myself close enough that I can have a normal conversation and take photos at the same time. (With a longer focal length, I feel more awkward, especially in noisy places where I have to raise my voice to be heard.)

Of course, I’m always careful to avoid disrupting the flow of their business when taking photos.

4. Use your 35mm lens to capture a variety of images

You can use a 35mm lens for all types of subjects and compositions, including travel landscapes, architecture, portraits, street scenes, and more. Don’t get stuck thinking that you need a wide lens for landscapes and a 50mm prime for portraits.

So have fun with your 35mm lens. Shoot whatever interests you! I’d even encourage you to use it for food photography while traveling (it’s easy to remain seated and take a few quick snaps of the culinary delight you’ve been served).

Photograph the rooms you stay in. Capture the beautiful hotel lobbies. Shoot the bus, tram, taxi, or tuk-tuk that takes you places and the fabulous sunsets from the rooftop bar. You can do all of this with a 35mm lens!

Nikon D700 | 35mm | f/2 | 1/125s | ISO 800 5. Always look for alternative angles

When working with a 35mm prime lens, try to think differently. With a 35mm prime lens on your camera, you’re forced to move, so use that momentum and experiment constantly with compositions. Look for alternative angles and take a huge variety of pictures. 

Remember: The first angle you notice isn’t always the best – yet it’s often the only angle many beginners try! Move around, and as you move, watch the background. Notice how it changes in relation to your subject. Look at the light and how it reflects differently depending on your position.

Nikon D700 | 35mm | f/5.6 | 1/320s | ISO 200 35mm travel photography: final words

A 35mm prime lens is a versatile and practical travel lens. If you usually photograph with zooms, you may need to practice with a 35mm prime to become more familiar with the focal length – but you’ll quickly get the hang of it!

So take your 35mm lens everywhere. Use it often. After all, if it remains at home or in the bottom of your camera bag, how will you ever discover the joys of 35mm travel photography?

Do you plan to do 35mm travel shooting? Where will you travel next? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

The post 5 Reasons to Do 35mm Travel Photography (+ Tips) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

Don’t Miss the Australian Photographic Prize Awards and Conference

Sun, 08/07/2022 - 06:00

The post Don’t Miss the Australian Photographic Prize Awards and Conference appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

The Australian Photographic Prize (APP), scheduled for September 8-11 in Melbourne, Australia, promises awards, a product expo, live image critiques, talks from photography professionals, and plenty of photographic fun.

Hailed as an “all-embracing national photographic awards event,” the APP offers four days of excitement and will give over $30,000 in prizes to contest entrants.

While the conference takes place in Australia, many of the contests are open to international photographers. And for those looking to enter a photography competition, the Australian Photographic Prize awards are the best of the best; the event is sponsored by a slew of top companies, including Nikon, Epson, and EIZO, and the APP judging panel features a group of talented professionals, including Nick Moir, Courtney Homes, and Kelly Brown.

Contests include the Epson Print Awards, which will judge physical prints mailed in by photographers; the Nikon Digital Awards, given to seven outstanding amateur photographers in six different categories; the Student Photographic Prize, awarded to primary and secondary school attendees; and the EIZO Photographic Artist Award, designed to highlight digital artists and creators. 

Prizes offered by contest sponsors range from $4000 of Nikon equipment and Adobe Creative Cloud subscriptions to Wacom tablets and a top-tier Epson printer. Of course, winners will also lay claim to prestigious Australian Photographic Prize titles.

All contests are currently open for entries and will close on the 21st of August (though prints submitted for the Epson Print Awards have until September 5th to arrive). The cost and eligibility to participate do vary from category to category, so make sure you read the fine print before entering.

For those who simply wish to enjoy a weekend of photography education and excitement, there are plenty of additional ways to engage. The APP will include an “Expo Playground,” where attendees will have the opportunity to test out equipment and view demonstrations. And the APP conference boasts “a star-studded conference program…[that] will deliver practical and inspirational sessions to attendees across a variety of genres.”

If you’re interested in entering one of the APP contests, learn more about the rules here. And for those hoping to attend the conference, make sure you get the early bird discount while it’s still available.

Are you planning to enter the contests? Attend the conference? Let us know in the comments below!

The post Don’t Miss the Australian Photographic Prize Awards and Conference appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

7 Street Photography Rules That Should Be Broken

Sat, 08/06/2022 - 06:00

The post 7 Street Photography Rules That Should Be Broken appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by James Maher.

Street photography, like most genres of photography, comes with rules: oft-repeated ideas about how you should structure your images, where you should shoot, and the types of subjects you should capture.

But should these street photography rules really be followed? I don’t think so. Sure, they work up to a point, but if you pursue them too diligently, you’ll start to feel trapped, and your photos will start to look like everyone else’s.

In other words, if you want to capture sophisticated, unique photos that really make viewers stop and stare, you’ve got to go beyond the rules. And that’s what this article is all about.

Below, I share seven commonly repeated rules of street photography. And then I explain how you can – and should! – break them whenever you get the chance.

Let’s dive right in.

1. Street photography must contain people

Street shots often contain people, and many beginners only raise the camera when a person is nearby. Yet street photography is really about life, and you do not need to smack a person in the middle of a frame to get a beautiful street image.

In my view, the goal of street shooting is to capture unique and interesting moments that mean something to you. You can do this by including people in the frame, but you can also capture meaningful images that are devoid of human life.

For instance, you might photograph:

  • Storefronts
  • Buildings
  • Trees in the park
  • Bridges
  • Houses

All of the above are fantastic street photography subject ideas, and the presence of people will often just act as a distraction. Therefore, if you’re prone to including people in your street photos, I’d encourage you to spend some time looking for some non-human subjects. Explore your surroundings and try to describe them through your imagery. Include people when it furthers your aim, but look for unique shots of your surroundings at the same time.

If you find a great area with beautiful light, then capture it like it is. Don’t mess up an interesting scene by including random passersby! If you find a good background and want to include a person in the shot, that person needs to add to the photograph. Otherwise, wait for any people to walk on by, then just capture the scene as it is.

2. You can only photograph on busy city streets

A lot of the most famous street photographers did get their start in busy cities, and their images are often full of the hustle and bustle of city life.

Yet if you look deeper, you’ll find that many pioneering street photographers – such as William Eggleston, Stephen Shore, Robert Frank, and Lee Friedlander – worked, at one time or another, in less populous areas.

So if you don’t live in, say, New York City, don’t fret. You can still capture beautiful street photos in the suburbs, in small towns, and even in rural images. You just have to change your approach.

Instead of trying to capture images full of people and energy, look to match the energy of your location. If you live in a small town, try to think in terms of minimalistic compositions and stunning light. If you live in a suburb, consider capturing people working in their yards or going about their daily lives.

Even if you live in the city, I’d encourage you to spend some time shooting in the quieter areas. Go to areas that feel boring and lifeless, then try to figure out how to take a good photo. (It’s a very powerful exercise that’s practically guaranteed to level up your photos.)

3. You must always include your subject’s face

While capturing the face makes it easy to show emotion in your street photos, it isn’t always needed. In fact, if your subject features a boring expression, their face may detract from the overall shot!

Of course, if a face looks interesting, go ahead and photograph it. But don’t feel that you must include faces in your photos. And spend some time looking for other elements that convey meaning: gestures, hands, poses, clothing, physical interactions, even slight shifts in posture.

If you find an interesting element, it’s often best to get close and capture just that element. That way, you can highlight the parts of the scene that matter most. And you may even give the image a graphic quality that makes shapes, lines, and colors stand out.

4. The best street photos are complex

Sophisticated, layered images are often quite beautiful – check out the work of Alex Webb to see what I mean – and there are plenty of photographers who dedicate themselves to creating complex images that show multiple elements of interest in a single frame.

However, complex compositions don’t make a good street photograph. Instead, what makes a good street photo is what is happening inside.

So instead of seeking out layered compositions, start by searching for interesting subjects and scenes. Then you can figure out whether it makes sense to create a complex image with a lot of supporting elements or whether it’s better to just focus on the main element.

If you walk out the door only seeking to capture complex compositions, you’ll get in your own way, and you’ll often end up frustrated. Look for elements of interest, and then figure out the best way to compose.

5. Great street photographs are all about luck

It’s true: Street photographers do profit from a healthy dose of luck, and the best street photos often include an improbable combination of subjects, lighting, and careful composition.

Yet it’s a mistake to think that luck alone will make great street photos. As a street photographer, you must maximize your own luck. Yes, the best street scenes are lucky, but you must search them out. Thousands of “lucky” moments occur around you every day, and it’s your job to see them.

How do you maximize luck? Here are a few simple ways:

  • Find good backgrounds, then wait for the right subject or interesting event to appear in front of your camera
  • Spend lots of time on the street with your camera in hand
  • Work on expanding your awareness of your surroundings
  • Head to areas with a lot going on; that way, you increase your chances of encountering interesting moments

If you put in the time, and you learn to look, you’ll notice many “lucky” moments, no matter where you live. And as you improve as a photographer and gain experience, you’ll see more and more opportunities – not because you’re luckier, but because you’re better at identifying the right moments.

6. Street photography is about being bold

Some street photographers are very extroverted and bold; they get right up in the subject’s face, maybe even with a flash.

Yet that isn’t the only approach to street photography. Some street shooters are quiet and timid, and they take a different approach: They watch, they wait, and when the moment is right, they snap off a shot.

Work with the personality you have. If you’re an introvert, then you’ll struggle to pounce on your subject with a flash, and that’s okay. You don’t need to push yourself to become fearless if that’s not your thing. It’s important to create a strategy of shooting that feels comfortable. Otherwise, you won’t have fun. And if you’re not having fun, then you won’t want to put in the time to get good images.

So if you’re afraid to be noticed, that’s okay. Use a small, light camera and lens, pick a spot, and let the people come to you. Figure out how to identify interesting moments, then develop your own way of putting yourself in a position to capture them. Alternatively, try your hand at telephoto street photography, where you work from a distance with a longer lens. (Yes, it’s unorthodox, but it’s a great way to capture unusual images!)

Over time, you’ll refine your strategy. And who knows? Maybe you’ll eventually feel comfortable enough to try a bolder approach.

7. Street photography is about the extraordinary

When I’m photographing with a street photography student, I’ll often encounter a typical moment:

A person with red, blue, or green hair, or a person covered in tattoos, will pass by – and the student will raise the camera to their eye and take that photo faster than they’ve shot all day.

But while you can certainly capture great street photos of extraordinary subjects, the best street photographers don’t confine themselves to these images. Street photography can focus on anything. It can be colorful, mundane, ordinary, or astonishing. It can highlight unique-looking people, but it can also emphasize the beauty in the everyday.

A lot of the most incredible street photography captures ordinary moments in ways that feel extraordinary. And if you just stand around looking for colorful hair, you’ll often become bored! Instead, seek out anything and everything, and capture what makes it interesting.

Street photography rules: final words

Now that you’ve finished this article, you’re familiar with the most common rules of street photography – and you know when and how to break them.

So head out with your camera. Do some street photography. And break the rules. (Oh, and have plenty of fun in the process!)

Which of these street photography rules do you plan to break? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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The post 7 Street Photography Rules That Should Be Broken appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by James Maher.

Weekly dPS Photo Challenge: Thirds

Fri, 08/05/2022 - 16:00

The post Weekly dPS Photo Challenge: Thirds appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Sime.

It’s time to brush up on some photographic rules – this one, maybe the most well known, the ‘rule of thirds’

“The rule of thirds is a compositional guideline that breaks an image down into thirds (both horizontally and vertically) so you have nine pieces and four gridlines. According to the rule, by positioning key elements along the gridlines, you’ll end up with better compositions”

You can read the full article on the rule of thirds over here on our website.

  1. Take one photograph for this challenge, don’t dig into the archives like I’ve done below!
  2. Share the photograph in the comments or on social media with the tag #dPSWeeklyChallenge and #dPSRuleOfThirds

Have a great week!

-Simon

The post Weekly dPS Photo Challenge: Thirds appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Sime.

Take Control of Your Digital Profile (and Earn Some Money While You’re at It)

Fri, 08/05/2022 - 13:00

The post Take Control of Your Digital Profile (and Earn Some Money While You’re at It) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by ClickASnap.

We are experiencing some of the most influential decades in human history. The velocity and creativity with which technological advancements are being made are utterly astounding (at least to a regular guy like me).

Photography – and the ways that we share our photos – is developing at breakneck speed. But we’re in danger of losing the security and integrity of our images.

You work hard to pay for equipment. You buy some lights, some software, and some flights to feed your need to discover beauty where others can’t see it. (It’s what we, as photographers, seek: undiscovered beauty.)

After spending time getting a photographic education, and after subjecting yourself to the elements and the tedium of waiting for the light, why are you compromising with the platforms on which you showcase your work?

The problem with many photography platforms

The largest photographic platforms have the right to reuse, repackage, and redesign your files as soon as you upload. After all that time, effort, and investment you put into the relationship between the platform and you, the user, those terms seem a little one-sided.

But we’ve lost more than our security and rights as creators. We have slowly and subtly lost the expectation that our followers, friends, and family will see our work.

There was a time when you could expect that your images would be shown to the vast majority of your network for the obvious reason: They were in your network.

Not anymore.

If your reach and engagement are dropping, I have some news for you: The algorithms controlling the feeds of your followers have deemed your posts less worthy. Not because what you’re sharing is poor in quality, but for some mathematically derived reason.

Luckily, it’s not all doom and gloom! As is the case with all inequalities, there is pushback. In finance, we have cryptocurrency, blockchain, and DeFi. Of course, none of this is without problems – but at the very least, it questions the status quo. In music, we have Rage Against the Machine, the Sex Pistols, and N.W.A., who broach uncomfortable topics and invite you to join them in asking “Why?”

Pushback is an inherent human trait, and as humans, we have an inherent love for it. We are rebellious by default.

Maybe it’s time for social media to receive some pushback. Maybe it’s time for users to have control over their data. Maybe it’s time for users to retain all ownership and rights over their images indefinitely. Maybe it’s time for users to gain control over who sees their content and whose content they see. (It’s radical, I know!)

Enter ClickASnap, the photography platform that pays

The mission of ClickASnap is to reinstate the rights of the user, which means that it offers significant security and privacy. While companies make fundamental decisions based on financial benefit, ClickASnap makes its decisions based on user experience and security.

It also offers payment. ClickASnap currently pays $0.70 per hundred views of your photos – any photos. And there are no algorithms affecting your feed, so everyone who follows you sees your posts. It’s that simple.

The platform is in the midst of a huge rejuvenation, and it’ll soon be paying users as much as 0.9 cents per view. To put that into perspective: For every 1000 image views, you make $9. And when you consider that there are many ClickASnap users with view counts well into the hundreds of thousands, it all starts to make sense. And it all starts becoming a little harder to ignore.

There is a paradigm shift happening in front of our eyes. A Huffington Post survey claimed that only 3% of people have “a lot” of trust that Facebook will secure their personal data. TikTok has reportedly been using user data, including the videos that are watched and commented on, location data, the phone model and operating system used, the keystroke rhythms people exhibit when they type, and the copy-and-paste clipboards of users. I’d love to say that this information is being used to improve the platform and to better serve you, the user – but I’m afraid that would be naive.

We’re moving toward a balanced relationship between platform and user, and it’s the user who will benefit the most. Your work should be subsidized by the traffic it garners; in other industries, that’s how it works.

ClickASnap is working toward a future where personal data is not traded like a commodity. A future where users aren’t herded like cattle toward generic, addictive, manipulatable content. I’m hoping for a future where users aren’t apathetic about the platforms that house their online lives.

What ClickASnap represents is the next generation of multimedia platforms. It boasts zero algorithmic interference, zero data collection, zero loss of image ownership or rights, and payment to the user for views of their work.

As the digital age moves further and faster, we’re learning more and more and sharing more and more – while security, website mechanics, and data collection grow more opaque. Priorities are shifting, and the dawn of the user is here.

So head over to the ClickASnap website. And see what ClickASnap can do for you!

ClickASnap is a paid partner of dPS.

The post Take Control of Your Digital Profile (and Earn Some Money While You’re at It) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by ClickASnap.

How to Photograph Hummingbirds (5 Simple Tips)

Thu, 08/04/2022 - 06:00

The post How to Photograph Hummingbirds (5 Simple Tips) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Guest Contributor.

Hummingbirds are amazing little creatures. They’re the only birds capable of flying backward, their wings flap between 15-200 times per second, and they look incredible. However, their lightning speed and small size make them extremely difficult to photograph – unless you know a few secrets, that is!

In this article, I share my top hummingbird photography tips, including:

  • The slowest shutter speed you can use for sharp shots
  • The setting that’ll ensure consistently accurate focusing
  • An easy way to dramatically increase your keeper count
  • Much more!

Read this article, practice these techniques, and with a little patience, I promise that you, too, will capture some amazing hummingbird shots.

So let’s dive right in, starting with my first tip:

1. Learn how hummingbirds behave

Understanding your subject is a key part of any type of photography, but it’s absolutely essential if you’re photographing hummingbirds. Hummingbirds are fast, they’re agile, and they don’t respond to commands – so if you want to be in the right place at the right time, you need to know those tiny birds like the back of your hand.

That said, you don’t need to become a PhD-level expert in hummingbird behavior. I’d recommend learning a few basic facts to start:

  • What’s the name of the species you’d like to photograph? If you’re not sure, do some Googling and find out which hummingbirds live in your area.
  • Where are your local hummingbirds often found? What is their habitat?
  • What time of the year are they most active?
  • What’s their diet like? Where do they get their sweet nectar from?
  • What do they sound like? It’s helpful to know both their song and the sound of their wing flaps.

Once you know the basics, start making a list of possible hummingbird photo locations (based on the habitat types). You might also consider reaching out to local birders or checking for sightings on eBird.

And make sure you always keep in mind the hummingbirds’ active months. Nothing is more frustrating than finding the right habitat and lying in wait only to realize that you’re a month early!

In my experience, learning to recognize your target species’ song is highly useful; their small size and rapid speed make them difficult to notice if you’re not looking in the right spot. About 80% of the time, I only find a hummingbird because I first heard their song and then started looking around more carefully.

2. Choose a location and wait

Once you have a few target locations in mind (based on habitat preferences and, hopefully, sightings by other birders), you’ll need to position yourself and simply wait. Look for the right flowers, set up your tripod (yes, I do encourage you to use a tripod!), and start watching and listening.

This will require patience. Sometimes, you’ll sit for hours and come home with nothing. After all, in bird photography, there’s never any guarantee of success. But when things come together and you capture a great shot, all the failures will seem worth it!

While you’re waiting, make sure you adjust your camera settings so you have the best chances of nailing the shot (see my recommended focusing modes and shutter speeds below!). Note that the ideal settings may change throughout the day depending on the quality and intensity of the light, so check your aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and (if you use it) exposure compensation regularly.

And if you can find additional behavioral information on your target hummingbird species, use it! When I was photographing this Anna’s hummingbird, I relied on a combination of luck and knowledge:

You see, I was sitting on a rock along one of my favorite streams in the San Gabriel Mountains when I noticed a bunch of hummingbirds diving toward the water, taking quick sips, and then retreating to a nearby tree. I watched them from about twenty feet away, but I was unprepared and only had a 200mm lens, so I knew I had to get a lot closer if I wanted a frame-filling shot.

Fortunately, I’d gained a sense of these hummingbirds’ behavior, and I knew that, while they would initially retreat from approaching humans, if I waited, they would come right back.

So I decided to get a lot closer. This initially scared them away – but after about 10 or 15 minutes, they returned and continued to drink from the stream, and I managed to capture some photos!

3. Use the right focus modes

These days, focus modes vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and camera to camera, so I can’t give you an exact focusing setting that will apply in all situations. However, I do have a few key pieces of advice:

First, when in doubt, simply switch your camera to a single-point AF area mode, make sure the center point is selected, and when a hummingbird comes into the frame, constantly move your camera to keep that center point over its head. (You’ll need to leave some room around the hummingbird so you can crop for a better composition, but that’s okay.)

Second, make sure you have your camera set to its continuous focusing mode. This is often referred to as “AF-C” or “AI-Servo,” and it’ll ensure that your lens constantly refocuses even as the hummingbird moves. So while the hummingbird may move forward and backward, as long as you keep the center AF point trained on its head, your lens will maintain perfect focus.

If you use a camera with next-level AF capabilities, it’s worth experimenting with tracking and even special bird eye AF options. But hummingbirds are tiny and difficult to spot – even for cameras – so if your intelligent AF modes aren’t working, just follow the suggestions I shared above.

4. Use a blazing-fast shutter speed

Hummingbirds flap their wings at extremely high speeds, so if you want an ultra-sharp shot, you’ll need to use a correspondingly fast shutter speed.

To freeze (or nearly freeze) the wings, set your camera to 1/2000s and above (1/4000s is even better). Working at such a fast shutter speed is often tough unless you’re shooting in extremely bright light, so it may be worth bringing a flash along. An alternative is to boost your ISO to 400, 800, and beyond, but this will degrade image quality, so make ISO adjustments with care.

You might also aim to freeze the hummingbird’s body and eyes but let the wings blur, like this:

If that’s your goal, you can get away with shooting at 1/800s, though higher is always better. (For reference, I used a 1/800s shutter speed to capture the image displayed above.)

Of course, if the hummingbird is perching rather than flying, you can drop your shutter speed even lower, but be careful: as soon as the wings start to flap, you’ll need to boost that shutter speed right back up.

(It can also help to know the speed at which your target species can flap its wings. This varies from 15 to 200 times per second, and for slower hummingbirds, you can get away with a slower shutter.)

A couple more settings tips to bear in mind:

  • I’d encourage you to use Manual mode or Shutter Priority mode when shooting; that way, you can specify the shutter speed you need, and use your ISO (and, if in Manual mode, the aperture) to adjust the exposure as necessary.
  • Start with a low ISO, but then increase it if necessary. It’s better to capture a sharp, noisy image than a blurry but high-quality shot.
  • Make sure the aperture is narrow enough to keep the entire hummingbird body in focus (and the hummingbird wings, if possible). A good starting point is f/5.6, but you can widen or narrow the aperture if necessary.
5. Take lots of photographs

My final hummingbird photography tip is a simple one:

When a bird flies in front of your lens, take as many shots as you can.

You see, when you’re working with hummingbirds, the only way to guarantee a good photo is to simply shoot. If you only capture a single photo when a hummingbird appears, you’ll often fail to get anything usable; your lens might miss focus, you might use a too-slow shutter speed, the exposure might be off, and so on.

Set your camera to its highest burst mode, and don’t be afraid to waste shots. If you think you might have a good opportunity, don’t worry about failing. Photograph fast; ask questions later!

To get some of the photos in this article, I took over 400 photos in 10 minutes, and I only got a handful of keepers. Hummingbirds move so fast that most of my shots were blurry, and some didn’t even have a hummingbird in the frame.

Hummingbird photography: final words

Hummingbird photography isn’t easy; it involves a lot of skill, patience, and luck. But if you know the habits of hummingbirds, you follow these tips, and you put in the effort, you’re bound to be successful!

Now over to you:

What type of hummingbirds do you want to photograph? What is your plan? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

About the author: Steve Berardi is a naturalist, photographer, and computer scientist. You can usually find him hiking in the San Gabriel Mountains or the Mojave Desert, both located in the beautiful state of California. You can read more of his articles on nature photography at the Photo Naturalist.

The post How to Photograph Hummingbirds (5 Simple Tips) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Guest Contributor.

Why Every Photographer Needs a 70-200mm Lens

Wed, 08/03/2022 - 06:00

The post Why Every Photographer Needs a 70-200mm Lens appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Tom Mason.

Pretty much every professional photographer carries a 70-200mm lens – but what makes this lens so special? Why is it trusted in nearly every shooting scenario, from studio portraits to wildlife snaps in the heart of the Amazon?

And most importantly, do you really need a 70-200mm lens?

In my view: Yes! 70-200mm lenses are outstanding, and they’re perfect for almost everyone – no matter their preferred genre of photography, and no matter their style of shooting.

Not convinced? In this article, I explain the biggest reasons why you should consider purchasing one of these lenses. I also offer a few of my favorite 70-200mm lens recommendations – so if you do decide to buy, you know what to get.

Let’s dive right in.

1. It offers incredible optics

Let’s start with one of the biggest reasons for the 70-200mm lens’s success:

Optical performance.

Pretty much every 70-200mm, including f/2.8 and f/4 models from Canon, Nikon, Sony, Sigma, and Tamron, offers outstanding edge-to-edge sharpness, both wide open and stopped down. They also do a great job of fending off chromatic aberration and flare while producing stunningly contrasty images time and time again.

So whether you want to shoot landscapes full of crisp edges or macro scenes filled with exquisite detail, a 70-200mm lens will do the trick!

2. The focal length is perfect for most subjects

Short telephotos and wide-angle lenses are fantastic for wading into the action and capturing a wider perspective. However, when it comes to certain subjects, shorter lenses can be, well, short. If you are trying to photograph wildlife, candid portraits, or any other unapproachable subject, wide-angle glass probably won’t work.

Enter the 70-200mm lens.

A 70-200mm focal length is perfect for so many situations. It allows you to focus on key subjects, crop out distracting elements in your frame, and just get closer to the action. At 70mm, you can capture:

  • Full- and half-body portraits
  • Street shots
  • Architectural images
  • Travel scenes

Plus, the lens’s long end – 200mm – offers plenty of reach without being overkill. The focal length gives wildlife and sports subjects space to move while still offering the magnification for stunningly detailed shots. And if you shoot portraits, you can capture headshots that feature beautiful bokeh backgrounds without crowding your subject.

And the 70-200mm lens is also a fantastic choice for landscape photography. While most photographers tend to equate landscape shots with ultra-wide angle lenses, you can use a 70-200mm lens to zoom in and capture gorgeous shots of distant subjects (e.g., mountains), as well as details within the larger scene.

Speaking more broadly, the standard-to-telephoto reach offers a lot of flexibility when composing. If you want to add some negative space around the edges of the frame, you can zoom out – and if you want to tighten up your compositions, you can simply zoom in!

3. You get a large maximum aperture

There are two types of 70-200mm lenses:

The 70-200mm f/2.8.

And the 70-200mm f/4.

Now, a 70-200mm f/4 lens offers a decently wide aperture, one that you can use for nice backgrounds and (in some cases) acceptable low-light shooting. (The not-too-wide aperture also ensures the lens remains a reasonable weight.)

The 70-200mm f/2.8 takes this a step further: It offers an impressively wide aperture, which is why so many pros use it constantly.

What makes an f/2.8 aperture so special? The first benefit is the bokeh (i.e., the out-of-focus areas around your subject). If you work at f/2.8, you’ll create images with a very narrow depth of field. Much of the background and foreground will drop into creamy, out-of-focus goodness – and this, in turn, will keep the viewer’s attention on your main subject.

In other words: The large aperture really allows for the rendering of wonderful out-of-focus elements. It gives images a beautiful dreamy quality, an effect that’s loved by portrait photographers, wildlife photographers, sports photographers, and more. Here’s an example; note the soft blur behind the shorebird:

A second benefit of an f/2.8 maximum aperture is the low-light performance. An f/2.8 aperture lets in significantly more light than an f/4 aperture (which in turn lets in more light than f/5.6 or f/6.3 apertures) – so when the light starts to fade, you can still get sharp shots at a reasonable shutter speedwithout needing to boost your ISO and degrade image quality.

Thanks to the 70-200mm f/2.8 low-light capabilities, it’s a must-have lens for indoor sports photography and event photography. It’s also useful for low-light wildlife shooting.

Here’s a final benefit of a fast aperture:

Improved viewfinder brightness. If you use a DSLR, the viewfinder brightness depends on the size of your lens’s maximum aperture (the wider the aperture, the brighter the viewfinder). If you’ve never shot with an f/2.8 lens, this may not seem like a big deal. But don’t knock it until you’ve tried it; there’s a good chance that you’ll quickly fall in love with the bright viewfinder – and you’ll never want to go back!

4. It offers excellent AF speeds

When working with fast-paced action, speed is essential…

…and most 70-200mm lenses won’t disappoint.

Generally speaking, 70-200mm glass boasts outstanding autofocus speeds. These lenses do a great job of locking onto fast-moving elements, which is a huge benefit when working with erratic subjects such as sports players, wildlife, and birds in flight.

Ultimately, the speed of a 70-200mm lens makes photographing moving subjects ten times easier; that way, you can spend more time composing your shots, and less time getting frustrated by a lens that won’t focus.

Will every 70-200mm lens offer lightning-fast AF? No. While I haven’t come across any slow-focusing 70-200mm glass, not all lenses are equal, so I do encourage you to check my recommendations below or read reviews if AF speed is important to you.

5. The weight and size work in your favor

Some people think the 70-200mm is a large lens. And it’s true: 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses do tend to be big, though 70-200mm f/4 bodies are actually pretty reasonable in size. (I carry a 70-200mm f/4 all over the place, and it fits nicely in my camera backpack and doesn’t weigh me down.)

But weight and size also have their advantages. For one, the longer lens barrel provides for good control placement; the large zoom ring and focus ring will be spaced out along the lens’s barrel.

And the long barrel sometimes allows for the inclusion of a tripod collar. This keeps the lens balanced when working with a tripod, and it also lowers the stress applied to the bayonet mount between the camera and lens. (Less stress makes for a longer lens life!)

A larger lens also promises more comfortable handholding. The wider barrel will fit well in your hand, and the weight of the lens will counterbalance a heavier camera body. Plus, modern versions of the 70-200mm lens include image stabilization, which further improves sharpness when working handheld and prevents camera shake problems caused by the telephoto focal length.

(Note that optical stabilization will help to reduce camera shake by several stops, so you can still work handheld and get sharp results even when the light gets low.)

6. The build quality is outstandingBuild quality

70-200mmm f/2.8 lenses are designed for outdoor professionals: landscape photographers, wildlife photographers, and sports photographers. Therefore, these lenses are built to handle pretty much every scenario.

Most 70-200mm lenses, for instance, feature metal barrels and weather sealing, so you can confidently shoot in the rain, sleet, or snow. (I’d still recommend carrying a rain cover, though; it’s best to minimize danger as much as possible!)

And while 70-200mm f/4 lenses don’t always offer build quality on par with 70-200mm f/2.8 glass, they can still handle their fair share of tough conditions, too.

I’ve had my 70-200mm lens for many years, and I’ve worked with it in all sorts of conditions, from snowy forests to the humid jungle. In all that time, it’s never skipped a beat. It’s rugged and reliable – like the best working tool.

7. You can combine it with a teleconverter

70-200mm f/2.8 lenses are designed to work with teleconverters, which fit between the camera and lens and magnify the image for a greater telephoto effect.

A 70-200mm lens, when paired with a 1.4x teleconverter, becomes a 105-300mm equivalent. When paired with a 2.0x teleconverter, it turns into a whopping 140-400mm lens! The extra reach can be very handy if you want to shoot birds or skittish wildlife but don’t want to invest in a super-telephoto lens.

Plus, when teleconverters are very reasonably priced and weigh practically nothing (compared to super-telephoto glass, at least!).

This eagle was photographed at 280mm; I used the 1.4x teleconverter on a 70-200mm lens. 70-200mm lens recommendations

Struggling to pick the perfect 70-200mm lens? Here are a few of our favorites:

The best 70-200mm lens for Canon

If you use a Canon DSLR and require the best of the best, then check out the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM, which offers outstanding optics, fast focusing, and a wide maximum aperture. Canon mirrorless shooters should consider the new RF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM (though you do have the option to mount the EF version on your mirrorless camera via an adapter).

If you’re on a budget and you don’t require incredible low-light capabilities, the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II USM (for DSLRs) or the RF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM (for mirrorless) are also great choices.

The best 70-200mm lens for Nikon

Nikon DSLR users will love the AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR, which is built like a tank and boasts lightning-fast autofocus, while mirrorless users should look at the Z 70-200mm f/2.8 S, an even more impressive (if pricier) option. And as with Canon’s mirrorless system, you can choose to mount a Nikon AF-S lens on a mirrorless body using an adapter.

Nikon also offers an f/4 option, but only for DSLRs (or adapted mirrorless cameras): The 70-200mm f/4G ED VR.

The best 70-200mm lens for Sony

Sony’s best 70-200mm lens, the FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS II, is quite pricey – but it’s excruciatingly sharp, not to mention well built. If you’re serious about sports or event photography, it’s a must-have.

Alternatively, consider the (much cheaper) FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS, which is a great option for landscape photography, budget portrait photography, and more.

Why you need a 70-200mm lens: final words

The 70-200mm lens is a worthy piece of kit. It offers top optics, a fast aperture, excellent speed, impressive ergonomics, and it’s built to last.

Yes, 70-200mm lenses are expensive – especially 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses – but they’re a long-term investment, and I encourage you to take the leap!

Which 70-200mm lens do you plan to get? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

The post Why Every Photographer Needs a 70-200mm Lens appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Tom Mason.

6 Still Life Photography Mistakes (And How to Fix Them)

Tue, 08/02/2022 - 06:00

The post 6 Still Life Photography Mistakes (And How to Fix Them) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Rika Guite.

Are you struggling to capture stunning still life photos? You’ve come to the right place.

In this article, I share the six biggest still life photography mistakes – and I explain how to correct them, so that, no matter your level of experience, you can get outstanding results. Specifically, I discuss:

So if you’re ready to take your still life shots to the next level, then let’s get started!

1. Using improper lighting

What’s the very first rule of still life photography?

Your subject needs to be well-lit.

A poorly lit subject will look terrible, no matter the composition and camera settings you choose – while a well-lit subject will often look great, even if you struggle to get the framing and settings correct.

Start by ensuring you have enough light. Personally, I like natural lighting in still life photos; it’s bright, it’s strong, and it can be very, very soft. (For the most flattering natural lighting, try shooting during the golden hours or on days with heavy clouds.)

If you’re working indoors, it often pays to bring along some artificial lighting. Studio strobes are great for more serious setups, but if portability or price is a concern, several flashes plus a few light stands will do a great job.

You can also work with window light. On cloudy days, you’ll get a gorgeous soft effect near large windows. And if the sun is high in the sky, you can always drape a sheet over the window and get a beautiful light diffusion effect.

Pay careful attention to the direction of the light, too. Direct front light rarely looks good in still life photography; it’s too bold and too flat. Instead, I recommend sidelight, which will add plenty of depth and dimension to your subjects. Another option is partial backlighting (and you can always try this as part of a two-light setup, with one light providing sidelight and the other providing partial backlighting).

Here’s an image that I captured using partial backlighting:

And here’s a second image, which features strong backlighting from the right-hand corner:

Really, I’d encourage you to experiment with many light sources and directions. If you’re not getting a great shot, try another angle or test a new light modifier. You never know what you’ll create!

2. Including a distracting background

Still life photography is all about the subject…

…but the background matters, too! A good background can help emphasize the main foreground subject, or – in the best images – complement the subject for an amazing result. But a bad background can draw attention away from the subject and prevent the viewer from appreciating its beauty.

So before you take a single photo, evaluate the background. Look for distractions in the form of lines, shapes, or even colors. Then do what you can to eliminate them completely.

Yes, you can take care of some distractions during post-processing. But the more you handle these issues in-camera, the less time you’ll spend in the editing room, and the more time you have to shoot! (Plus, not all distractions are editable.)

If you do notice distracting background elements, the best method is often to change your angle until the offending areas are gone. But you can also try placing handpainted or assembled backdrops behind the subject or moving your subject to an entirely new location.

What makes a great still life photography background? I’d encourage you to choose a plain stretch of color, such as a white or gray wall. A bit of texture can add a nice touch, but don’t go overboard (too much texture will draw the eye away from the subject!). And if you can’t find the right kind of wall, that’s okay; just cover it up with some white posterboard!

One more tip: If you’re shooting flat lays, make sure you spend extra time picking a background. White poster can work great, but consider using black poster for a moody look, or a blue, red, or yellow poster for extra pop.

3. Working without a tripod

Still life photography is often done indoors, when the light is (relatively) low.

And unless you’re using flashes or strobes, you’ll need to drop the shutter speed for a balanced exposure – often to 1/60s or below.

If you try to shoot handheld at 1/60s, a lot of your shots will turn out frustratingly blurry, which is why a tripod is essential. Yes, tripods can be cumbersome and slow to work with, but they’re necessary and are used by most serious still life photographers.

In fact, even still life shooters who work with strong artificial lights generally still keep their camera mounted on a tripod. Why? For one, the tripod helps maintain the composition even as they adjust different elements and light positions. And the tripod maintains the camera position for focus stacking (which is often necessary for sharp close-up still life photography).

So make sure you grab a sturdy tripod. And use it whenever you can.

By the way, if you find that you’re often working in low light, I’d encourage you to buy a wireless remote. That way, you can trigger the camera shutter without hitting the shutter button (which can produce blur-inducing camera shake). A solid alternative is your camera’s two-second timer, but constantly waiting for a two-second interval can get annoying, especially if you’re firing off multiple shots in succession.

4. Forgetting to carefully compose

If you want great still life photos, then you must compose carefully. In fact, when I do still life photography, I often spend many long minutes adding in items, tweaking the composition, and nudging different elements in different directions.

While still life composition is a complex subject, here are a few handy tips:

  • Fill the frame with your main subject
  • Include plenty of negative space to let the subject breathe
  • Experiment with different angles for unique results
  • Use the rule of thirds to position your main subject
  • Don’t forget about the rule of odds, which encourages you to include an odd number of similar elements (e.g., three flowers, five books, one vase)

If you’re struggling to create a compelling composition, I’d really encourage you to spend time just playing around with each setup. Move your main subject to the right or the left, add supporting objects in front or behind, and take constant test shots.

Another helpful tip is to find some still life photos that you like (paintings work fine, too), and study the compositions. Note how the objects are arranged in relation to one another. See if you can identify any rules or guidelines you can apply to your own work.

5. Not experimenting with each setup

This still life mistake is a simple one, but it can make a huge difference to your photos.

You see, most beginner still life photographers set up their lighting, create their arrangement, and then…shoot. The whole process is streamlined, fast, and efficient.

But while you can get decent images using the above method, if you want to really take your photos to the next level, then you must spend time experimenting.

Go ahead and create your first arrangement. Take a few photos.

But then mix it up. Try adjusting the position of your lights. Change your composition. Go minimalist by adding in extra negative space, or add in additional objects for a more chaotic effect.

After I’ve captured my first setup, I like to “randomize” the scene. I’ll take all my objects and mix them around. Or I’ll add a new background, or I’ll use different lighting, or I’ll change my camera angle.

In other words: I experiment! That way, I end up with plenty of unique images (and I learn a lot in the process).

6. Choosing the wrong lens

Many photographers don’t realize this, but the lens you choose can dramatically affect the feel of a still life image.

A wide-angle lens will tend to push subjects apart from one another for a breathy, expansive feel; a standard lens will portray subjects naturally, the way the eye sees; and a telephoto lens will compress subjects and enhance background bokeh.

Which type of lens is best for still life photography? That depends on the effect you’re after! A wide-angle lens is great for capturing in-your-face still life shots, while a telephoto lens will give the viewer a bit more distance (literally and figuratively). Standard lenses tend to be more neutral in their effect, and they’ll do a great job of rendering subjects as they appear in real life.

But while you can capture great still life shots with any lens, many still life photographers gravitate toward standard and short-telephoto options. These lenses are perfect for capturing well-proportioned, natural images. And they do a great job of creating stunning shallow depth of field effects, too:

If you’re struggling to visualize the difference between wide-angle, standard, and telephoto lenses, then I’d urge you to create a still life setup, then try out each focal length. Carefully review the results, paying careful attention to the relationship between different objects as well as distortion effects. Ask yourself: How does each focal length render the scene? When would each effect look good?

Over time, you’ll learn to “see” in different focal lengths, and you’ll be able to choose the right focal length with very little effort.

Still life photography mistakes: final words

Now that you’ve finished this article, you know the six most common mistakes made by still life photographers – and you know how to fix them, too!

So memorize these mistakes. Evaluate your photography. Make the necessary changes. And watch as your photos improve!

Which of these still life mistakes are you making? How will you fix them? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

The post 6 Still Life Photography Mistakes (And How to Fix Them) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Rika Guite.

The Focus and Recompose Technique: A Quick Guide

Mon, 08/01/2022 - 06:00

The post The Focus and Recompose Technique: A Quick Guide appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.

What is the focus and recompose technique? And how can you use it to capture photos that are both sharply focused and well composed?

In this article, I take you through the ins and outs of this powerful method. I explain:

  • What the focus and recompose technique actually is
  • When you should use the technique – and when you should avoid it
  • An advanced method that’ll instantly double your focusing capabilities

So if you’re ready to level up your photography skills, then let’s dive right in!

What is the focus and recompose technique?

The focus and recompose technique is designed to help you accurately focus on still subjects without sacrificing a good composition.

Broadly speaking, here’s how it works:

  1. You select a single focus point in your camera viewfinder.
  2. You half-press the shutter button to lock focus.
  3. You physically move your camera left, right, up, or down in order to recompose for a better composition.

That’s it! It’s a simple process, but it’s hugely effective.

You see, successfully focusing and composing images without this method can be tough. If you simply point your camera at the subject, lock focus, and press the shutter button, you’ll end up with a boring composition – one that features the main subject smack-dab in the middle of the frame.

I wanted to make sure the kids’ shoes were in focus, so I set my focus point on a shoe, locked focus, then instantly recomposed before snapping a photo.

And if you start by creating a good composition, you’ll struggle to quickly and successfully focus the lens. If your subject isn’t in the center of the frame, you’ll need to fiddle with buttons or your LCD screen to select the perfect focus point, which takes time and can cause you to miss key moments. Plus, every camera includes a finite number of focusing points, and if your subject falls outside or between these points, then you’re out of luck.

Take a look at the image below. Note the 51 focus points offered by my Nikon D750. Then check out the red pulley mechanism, which I wanted to photograph. See how it lies outside the focus-point spread?

Without the focus and recompose technique, I’d need to adjust my composition so the pulley sat in the middle of the frame. I’d lose a lot of the interesting structure on the left-hand side, I’d lose some of the rope hanging down from the pulley, and the overall image would’ve appeared far more bland.

But with the focus and recompose technique, I was able to center my focus points over the pulley, half-press the shutter button to lock focus, then adjust my composition until I got the shot I wanted.

When should you use the focus and recompose technique?

I love using this technique to get perfect focus, but it’s not perfect for every situation. So before you start focusing and recomposing with abandon, I’d like to discuss scenarios where it works – and scenarios where it doesn’t.

In general, focus and recompose is a great way to capture stationary subjects. If you’re photographing a statue, for example, you can focus, adjust your camera until you find a solid composition, then take your (beautifully composed!) shot. The same approach works great for buildings, landscapes, and still lifes; those subjects remain motionless after you lock focus, so you can spend as much time as you need choosing a good composition.

Focus and recompose is also great for subjects that display limited movement. In portrait photography, for example, your subject may move subtly after you lock focus, but this (generally) won’t be enough to hurt the final image. For the next image, I focused on the subject’s eye, locked focus, then adjusted the composition until I got the result I wanted:

That said, I’d advise against the focus and recompose technique in two scenarios.

First, when you’re photographing a rapidly moving subject; by the time you’ve recomposed, your subject will likely have moved past the plane of focus, resulting in an out-of-focus image.

For example, if you’re photographing a dog running toward you at high speeds, you might lock focus when the dog is 15 feet away – but by the time you’ve recomposed and snapped the shot, the dog will only be 11 feet away (and far past the plane of focus). You’ll run into the same problem when photographing birds in flight and sports players on the move.

There is an exception to the above advice, however. Your lens focuses along a plane parallel to the camera sensor. Once you’ve locked focus, any move forward or backward by your subject will result in an out-of-focus result – but the subject can freely move up, down, left, or right without causing problems (because they’ll remain within the plane of focus). In other words, as long as the subject moves parallel to your camera sensor, you can focus and recompose without issue!

You should also avoid the focus and recompose technique when shooting with a very shallow depth of field. Most attempts to recompose cause the plane of focus to shift slightly, and while this isn’t a problem when working with a deep depth of field, a razor-thin depth of field won’t be so forgiving.

Say that you’re capturing a portrait at f/1.4. You focus on the subject’s eye with your camera’s central AF point, then you turn your camera so the subject’s head is positioned against the corner of the frame. The subject’s eye will no longer be in focus, even though you deliberately focused on it moments earlier. The act of moving the camera – combined with the tiny depth of field – causes you to lose perfect focus. Focus and recompose fails.

Alternatives to the focus and recompose technique

There are two broad alternatives to the focus and recompose technique:

1. Manually selecting the perfect point

If you own a camera with plenty of focus points and a touchscreen, you might be thinking:

Do I really need to bother with focus and recompose? Can’t I just select the perfect point to consistently nail the focus?

Such a technique does work, and I encourage you to try it in situations where nailing the focus is absolutely critical. If you’re using an ultra-shallow depth of field, carefully selecting the right focus point is a great way to shoot.

However, selecting the perfect focus point can get tedious and can slow down your photography, even with a touchscreen-equipped camera. That’s why I prefer to use the focus and recompose method as long as I have enough depth-of-field leeway for sharp results.

And it’s also worth noting that plenty of cameras don’t feature hundreds of focus points and/or touchscreens, in which case focus and recompose is the best way to capture sharp shots.

2. Letting your camera select the focus point

Most cameras offer various autofocusing modes designed to identify your subject and select the right focusing point.

Some of these modes are pretty poor; for instance, basic “Auto” modes will often misidentify your subject (leading to a lot of frustration).

However, certain modes can be very handy, especially if you’re shooting moving subjects. If your camera offers some form of continuous tracking, I encourage you to use it when photographing birds, wildlife, and sporting events. In the latter situations, the focus and recompose technique will simply be too slow to get the subjects in focus, but your camera’s continuous tracking algorithm will often manage to keep up with your subject, even as it moves across the scene.

And if your camera offers some subject-specific tracking – such as eye tracking, face tracking, animal tracking, or car tracking – you should definitely try it out. These modes aren’t perfect, but they often do a great job of keeping specific subjects in focus, whether stationary or in motion. Handy, right?

Moving beyond the basics: back-button focusing

As I discussed above, focus and recompose works well when your subject is relatively stationary, but it fails with moving subjects.

This leads to a serious dilemma:

What do you do when faced with a subject that moves sporadically? A dog, for instance, might sit still for a few moments, then run in a circle, then sit still again, then jump in the air, and so on. When the dog is stationary, focus and recompose will do a great job – but when the dog is on the move, some form of automatic tracking is the better choice.

You can switch back and forth between the two options, of course, but that takes precious time. The best option is to instead use something called back-button focusing.

Back-button focusing lets you set a button on the back of your camera (often the AF-ON button) to focus the lens. You can then set your focusing mode to some sort of continuous AF (so that your lens constantly refocuses as the subject moves).

When your subject is in motion, you can hold down the back AF button to keep it in focus. But as soon as your subject stops moving, you can let go of the back AF button. The focus will remain locked, and you can recompose and shoot without worry! Once your subject begins to move again, you can press the back button, and the tracking will resume. Make sense?

Note that you will need to adjust your camera settings to achieve these capabilities; we describe all the details in our comprehensive back-button focusing guide.

The focus and recompose technique: final words

Well, there you have it:

Everything you ever wanted to know about focusing and recomposing! Hopefully, you now feel confident using the technique – and if not, just spend some time practicing and you’ll get the hang of it.

Do you plan to use the focus and recompose technique? When will you try it? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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The post The Focus and Recompose Technique: A Quick Guide appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.

9 Tips for Breathtaking Seascape Photography

Sun, 07/31/2022 - 06:00

The post 9 Tips for Breathtaking Seascape Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Barry J Brady.

Capturing beautiful seascape photos might seem difficult, but it’s not as hard as you might think – once you know a few simple techniques.

I’ve been doing seascape photography for years, and in this article, I share my top tips, including:

  • The best settings for consistent results
  • How to choose the perfect lighting for stunning seascape images
  • How to pick the right locations and tides for amazing photos
  • Much more!

Ready to capture seascape shots like a pro? Then let’s dive right in, starting with my first tip:

1. Take proper safety precautions

First things first:

Seascape photography can be dangerous. As a seascape photographer, you spend time hiking over slippery and sharp rocks as the tide rises and the waves come closer and closer.

So always be aware of your surroundings and constantly observe what is happening around you. I’ve been trapped on a rocky outcrop with nothing but a wild sea around me. I’ve also been completely soaked by freak waves, and I’ve almost lost my camera more than once.

On the other hand, if you take proper precautions, you’ll find that the results of your sea adventures will be well worth it! Wear shoes with plenty of traction, always carry a phone, and keep waterproof bags on hand in case you need to protect your camera. And be mindful of the tide; if it starts to come in, make sure you have a clear exit strategy.

Finally, shoot with fellow photographers so you can help one other if necessary.

2. Scout the area and follow the tides

Once you pick a seascape photography location, start with a scouting trip. Consider possible foreground elements (such as rocks and sand patterns), look for stunning backgrounds (such as sea stacks), and pay careful attention to water levels.

Additionally, you must spend plenty of time researching the tides. Most coastal towns will have a tide table or chart available (you can also simply Google “tide table for [location]”), and I encourage you to study it carefully.

Now, there is no best tide for seascape photos. The right tide depends on the location, which is why a scouting trip is so critical. As you identify key foregrounds and backgrounds, you’ll need to note the tide – then make sure you plan your photo outing for a time when the essential compositional elements are exposed. (You don’t want to scout at low tide, only to return with your camera at high tide and find that the rock you were planning to photograph is now submerged!)

And bear in mind that the tide can affect the water movement and wave size. High tide will often offer lots of wave movement on beaches, but it might restrict water movement in other areas, so pay careful attention and head out when the conditions are right.

Oh, and always remember to look out for areas where the tide might rise. Little channels and gullies might seem innocuous, but they can be very dangerous at high tide; the water may recede when the tide is out, but as the tide comes in, such areas can become impossible to cross.

Pro tip: It can be a good idea to chat with local photographers and fishermen when planning a shoot. The locals often possess tons of knowledge you won’t get from tide charts.

3. Follow the weather

Do you want soft, serene seascape images? Or intense, dramatic shots with stormy skies? Here, the weather makes a huge difference – so it’s important to plan ahead.

Unfortunately, the weather in most coastal areas can be pretty unpredictable. A storm can roll in pretty quickly; alternatively, you may find yourself frustrated by clear skies when you were hoping for dark clouds.

So be sure to check the weather forecast a few hours before you plan to shoot, and then again right before you head out. I’d also encourage you to frequently watch the skies when you’re shooting. That way, if an unexpected storm whips up, you can be prepared.

And bear in mind that the weather, and particularly the wind, can make it tough to shoot sharp seascape photos. Heavy winds will shake your tripod and coat you (and your camera) with seaspray – so always carry a towel, and don’t be afraid to quit if the conditions become too rough.

4. Choose your location and lighting in advance

Coastal areas offer all sorts of photographic opportunities, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed – so I encourage you to identify your areas of interest in advance. (A scouting trip, as I discussed in a previous tip, is invaluable!)

Once you’ve picked a location, use an app like PhotoPills to determine the location of the sun around sunrise and sunset. That way, you can make sure you’re in the right position at the right time.

And speaking of the sun:

The best types of lighting for seascape photography, as with all landscape photography, are the golden hours (just after sunrise and just before sunset) and the blue hours (just before sunrise and just after sunset). The golden hours are a great way to capture magical shots with stunning light and shadows, while the blue hours guarantee ethereal lighting that makes for gorgeous long exposures.

So plan your outings for the right time of day, and get into position an hour or so before the light is right. That way, you have plenty of time to set up and determine the perfect composition.

One more piece of advice:

If you plan to shoot early in the morning or late in the evening, invest in a headlamp. Scrambling over rocks in the dark is not fun, and some extra illumination will go a long way toward keeping you safe.

5. Use the right shutter speed to blur (or freeze) the water

In seascape photography, you generally have two choices:

  1. You can blur the water for a magical effect
  2. You can freeze the movement of the waves for added intensity

Neither option is better than the other; it all depends on your creative vision. But it’s important that you switch your camera over to Manual mode and choose a shutter speed deliberately.

Personally, I like to blur the water when my composition includes water rolling over foreground elements. That way, I can give the water a soft, silky effect and create images that look somewhat surreal. To get the look I’m after, I generally need a shutter speed of 1/30s or slower, which is easy to achieve when shooting during the blue hour but tougher to get when the sun is still above the horizon. It’s a good idea to carry a neutral density filter or two; these simply darken down the scene so that you can use a longer shutter speed even in brighter light.

Pro tip: Try combining a neutral density filter with blue-hour light. You can really drop that shutter speed and create a fantasy-like effect – with misty water and streaky clouds.

Note that it’s not always possible to perfectly predict the effect of a slow shutter speed on the water. Different water speeds will produce different types of long-exposure blur, so I’d encourage you to experiment as much as possible and take plenty of images!

If you’re faced with intense wave action, you may wish to freeze the scene instead. For the best results, you’ll need to shoot at 1/1000s or faster – which requires either good light or a high ISO.

6. Use a narrow aperture to keep the scene sharp

Almost without exception, seascape photography is done at narrow apertures.

Why? A narrow aperture increases the depth of field so that you produce photos with the foreground and the background in focus. That way, the viewer is able to appreciate the entire scene in crisp, clear detail, from the nearest grains of sand to the most distant clouds:

For the best results, you’ll want to use an aperture in the f/8 to f/16 range. Apertures wider than f/8 will prevent you from capturing sufficient depth of field, while apertures narrower than f/16 will produce blur-inducing diffraction.

By the way, producing a sharp shot, deep depth of field shot isn’t just about selecting a narrow aperture. You also need to carefully focus your lens for the best results. Make sure to switch your lens over to manual focus, then choose a point of focus that’s about one-third of the way into the scene (the idea here is to approximate the hyperfocal distance, which will maximize your depth of field!).

7. Don’t be afraid to convert to black and white

Seascape images look amazing in color – but they can look great in black and white, too.

So I’d encourage you to shoot in color, but when editing, convert your files to monochrome. See what you think. If you don’t like the results, you can always hit the “Undo” button!

(Doing a quick B&W conversion in Lightroom is as simple as clicking a button, and the same is true of most other programs, too.)

You should also try to “see” in black and white when you’re out on a shoot. The best black and white seascape shots tend to feature silky water – the longer the exposure, the better! – and plenty of contrast in the foreground.

By the way, if you’re out shooting on a drab day, see if you can create more minimalistic compositions (i.e., include lots of negative space). The images may not look like much when in color, but with a quick black and white conversion and a boost in contrast, you’ll end up with a batch of stunning, even timeless, images.

8. Always use a tripod!

Whenever you head out to shoot seascapes, make sure you pack a tripod. A tripod will keep your camera steady as you capture long exposures, it’ll help you get the necessary depth of field, and it will improve your compositions tremendously.

Yes, tripods can be cumbersome. But they’re absolutely worth the effort, so if you don’t already own a sturdy tripod, get one.

I recommend using a carbon fiber tripod; these models combine a sturdy build with a lightweight body. However, if you don’t want to shell out for a good carbon fiber tripod, aluminum is another option (though you’ll need to clean it regularly to prevent corrosion due to seaspray!).

Note that even the sturdiest tripod may struggle to support your camera when buffeted by wind and waves, so when the weather gets really bad, you may want to pack up. And when you set your tripod on a sandy shoreline, beware: as the water comes in, your tripod may sink slightly, causing image blur. Always check your files afterward to be sure that the rocks and the clouds look sharp.

9. Choose the right foreground and background subjects

The best seascape photos feature compelling compositions, generally with an eye-catching foreground element and a beautiful backdrop. So when you’re out shooting, don’t just plonk down your camera and photograph the horizon; instead, look for interesting foregrounds and backgrounds until you find a stunning combination.

If you’re struggling to find good foregrounds, here are a few ideas:

  • Rocky outcrops
  • Patterns in the sand
  • Rivulets of water moving toward the ocean
  • Wave action
  • Stunning tidepools
  • Pebbles

And here are my favorite seascape backgrounds:

  • Lighthouses
  • Sea stacks
  • Stunning sunrise and sunset skies
  • Stormy clouds
  • Boats

Of course, you don’t need to restrict yourself to items on my list. What’s important is that you find foregrounds and backgrounds that work together to entrance the viewer!

Seascape photography tips: final words

Well, there you have it:

9 tips to take your seascape photos to the next level.

Seascape photography is often exhilarating, magical, and humbling – all at the same time. Just remember: Always stay safe, and do your best to plan out photos in advance.

Which of these tips do you plan to use? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

The post 9 Tips for Breathtaking Seascape Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Barry J Brady.

7 Tips for Stunning Night Portrait Photography

Sat, 07/30/2022 - 06:00

The post 7 Tips for Stunning Night Portrait Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Sean McCormack.

Are you struggling to capture gorgeous night portraits? Are you looking for the tips, tricks, and secrets that’ll net you consistently outstanding night portrait photography?

You’ve come to the right place.

I love shooting portraits at night, and in this article, I share my best advice, including:

  • The best settings for beautiful results
  • How to use artificial light and natural light for outstanding effects
  • Any easy way to capture gorgeous nighttime backgrounds
  • Much more!

Ready to become a night portrait master? Then let’s dive right in, starting with my first tip:

1. Get off Auto mode

Auto mode is easy to use – you can simply set it and forget it – but it’s terrible for night portrait photography.

If you use your camera in Auto mode, you’ll generally end up with one of two results:

  1. You’ll get a blurry, unusable image
  2. Your subject will be heavily flashed and the background will turn black
This is the type of result you’ll get if you combine Auto mode with your camera’s flash. The subject is brightly lit, but the background is unpleasantly dark.

In my experience, neither of the above outcomes is ideal, which is why it’s essential to move away from Auto mode as soon as you can.

What mode should you use instead?

One option is your camera’s Night Scene mode, which will fire your flash while also selecting a longer shutter speed. This can net you some nice shots, but it won’t give you control over your settings.

A camera with its Night Scene mode selected.

Therefore, a better option is either Manual mode or Aperture Priority mode. Both Manual and Aperture Priority let you change your camera settings at will. In Aperture Priority, you select the aperture and the ISO, while your camera selects a shutter speed for a balanced exposure. In Manual mode, you select the aperture, the ISO, and the shutter speed, while your camera selects nothing (in other words, you have total control!).

If you’ve never tried Aperture Priority, then I’d suggest starting there. You can use it to familiarize yourself with the different exposure settings. Then, as you gain confidence, you can switch over to Manual and see what you think.

2. Choose the right aperture, shutter speed, and ISO

Once you’ve chosen the perfect camera mode, it’s time to pick your main exposure settings: the aperture, the shutter speed, and the ISO.

Note that these three settings together produce the exposure – i.e., overall brightness – of the photo. One goal to keep in mind when picking your settings, therefore, is to create an image with plenty of detail in the shadows, highlights, and midtones.

However, the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO also affect other aspects of each image. The aperture adjusts the depth of field of the scene, the shutter speed determines scene sharpness, and the ISO influences the overall image quality.

Therefore, you need to choose each setting carefully. Here are my recommendations:

  • Pick your aperture first based on your depth of field requirements. If you want an artistic shallow depth of field effect, then choose a wide aperture, such as f/2.8. If you want a sharper background, go for a narrower aperture, such as f/8.
  • Next, choose the slowest shutter speed that’ll get you consistently sharp shots. If your subject is stationary, you might choose 1/160s. If your subject is moving, you might go for 1/500s or higher.
  • Finally, dial in your camera’s native ISO value (generally ISO 100) for the highest-quality photos.

Once you’ve chosen your ideal settings, frame your subject and check the exposure meter. If your image is underexposed, then you’ll need to either increase your ISO or widen your aperture further. Personally, I’m a fan of shallow depth of field portraits, so I don’t mind widening the aperture as far as it’ll go – but if you’re set on a sharp background, then go ahead and boost the ISO until you have a good exposure.

If your image is overexposed, then simply boost the shutter speed until the exposure meter is balanced.

3. Make sure you use artificial lighting

Without some form of artificial lighting, you’ll struggle to capture detailed images of your portrait subjects. The shots will turn out either wildly underexposed or very blurry, neither of which is ideal.

Note that your artificial lighting need not be a flash. It can be a streetlight, a neon sign, a phone flashlight – anything that lights up your subject and provides a bit of illumination for your camera to use. Of course, the light needs to be accessible; if you plan to use streetlights for your next photoshoot, for instance, make sure there are some nearby and on public land!

That said, I do recommend carrying an off-camera flash for nighttime portraits. This will give you the most flexibility – you can adjust the brightness and the direction – and you can use it to produce beautiful effects.

I’d also recommend buying a light stand, which you can use to mount your flash. (Alternatively, you can bring an assistant, who can hold the flash and aim it as needed.) You might even consider purchasing a modifier, which will soften the light for a more flattering effect.

4. Don’t be afraid to use a tripod

If you photograph portraits with a flash, the subject will turn out nice and bright – but the background will be unaffected (and will therefore remain dark).

So you have three options:

  1. You can embrace the black-background effect.
  2. You can boost your ISO until the background looks decently bright.
  3. You can mount your camera on a tripod, then capture a long exposure with a burst from your flash.

A black background can look nice, especially if you’re after a moodier image (see the example below). And a high ISO will get you a good exposure (at the cost of reduced image quality).

Using a flash and a fast shutter speed will keep the subject well exposed but will darken the background.

But the long-exposure technique can produce great images, too, so I recommend you learn how it works.

First, make sure you have a sturdy tripod. I’d also encourage you to grab a remote release, which will let you trigger your camera without pressing the shutter button.

Set up your image, then choose your exposure settings based on the background, not the subject. To prevent your subject from turning too bright, dial in a shutter speed that’ll keep the background subtly underexposed. Note that your shutter speed should be reasonably long (generally 1/30s or below) in order to bring out detail in the background areas.

Finally, fire the shutter and the flash. The idea is that the flash will freeze your subject, while the lengthy shutter speed will give the camera enough time to record light from the background. You’ll get a beautiful result, one with a detailed (if slightly underexposed) background:

This image looks just like the one displayed above – except that I used a longer exposure (1/30s) to bring out detail in the background.

If your first shots don’t turn out great, that’s okay! Nailing flash brightness can take some tweaking. If your subject is too bright but you like the background exposure, then try dropping the flash brightness or taking a few steps back from your subject. Alternatively, if your subject is too dark, increase the flash brightness or get closer to the subject.

5. Pay attention to the background

When doing night portrait photography, it’s easy to forget about the background. After all, it’s often too dark to see, plus your subject is what’s really important, right?

Not quite.

First of all, even in situations where you let the background fade to black, the final image will likely include some background elements, such as car lights, street lights, or lit-up signs.

And if you use the technique I shared in the previous tip, then the background will be clearly visible in the final photo, even if it’s tough to see through your camera viewfinder.

In truth, the background is an essential part of every portrait photo, whether you shoot at night or in bright daylight. A good background emphasizes and complements the main subject, while a bad background distracts the viewer and prevents them from fully appreciating the subject.

So if you want great shots, you’ve got to get the background right.

When preparing for a photoshoot, I’d recommend scouting around for potential backdrops. Search for lots of streetlights – which look stunning when combined with a wide aperture – as well as simple walls that’ll help your subject stand out.

And then, when you’re out shooting, always pay careful attention to the area behind your subject. Make sure that it doesn’t distract the viewer. And don’t be afraid to test out different backgrounds by changing your camera angle!

Here, I used a wide aperture to achieve a nice, bokeh-filled background. 6. Start out with continuous lighting

I know I’ve talked a lot about using flash for beautiful night photos…

…but while flash is very versatile, portable, and powerful, it can be a difficult light source for beginners. You can’t see the effect of the flash until after an image is taken, which means that you’ll spend a lot of time guessing, checking, and adjusting your lights. Plus, getting the exposure right when using flash can be a struggle; you’ll often need to spend long minutes shifting the flash brightness up and down until you get a result you like.

Fortunately, there is another option:

Continuous lights. These will constantly light your subject and therefore allow you to monitor their effects in real-time.

You can grab portable continuous lights for a reasonable price, and while they aren’t as powerful as flash, they work great for nighttime portraits. Plus, continuous lights often offer color temperature adjustments, which let you match the light color to surrounding light sources for a more natural effect.

Now, for the best results, you’ll probably need to boost your ISO and/or widen your aperture. I’d suggest setting your exposure based on the background, then ask your subject to step into the frame and make adjustments as required.

For the image below, I used an LED panel. It produced warm, soft light that looked amazing:

Pro tip: If your continuous lights don’t feature a brightness control, simply move the lights closer or farther from your subject!

7. Consider styling your subject

When you’re just starting out as a night portrait photographer, you’ll likely photograph your subjects as they are.

However, as you become more experienced, you may want to get someone to do their hair and makeup. You might even purchase stylish clothes for your subjects to make the shots look even better.

Even if you just use friends as models, it’s a good idea to ensure they look professional – so guide them in picking out clothing from their wardrobe.

Of course, you’ll want to keep in mind the purpose of your night portraits. If you’re shooting fine-art images, then it’s okay to push drama and unorthodox clothing choices. However, if your goal is to capture nice portraits for your subject to hang on their wall, you may want to tone down the styling. Make sense?

Night portrait photography: final words

Hopefully, you now feel ready to capture some stunning night portraits.

So set up a photoshoot. Scout out locations. And have plenty of fun!

What night portraits do you plan to capture? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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The post 7 Tips for Stunning Night Portrait Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Sean McCormack.

Weekly dPS Photography Challenge: Something Sweet

Fri, 07/29/2022 - 16:00

The post Weekly dPS Photography Challenge: Something Sweet appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Sime.

Ana shared an article earlier on “dessert photography” and I thought ‘Something Sweet’ sounds perfect!

When I’d finished the chocolate chip cookie that my better half had just taken from the oven and made myself a coffee I thought – well, that’s a good theme for this week’s challenge!

Very simple and can be interpreted in many ways I guess – something sweet to me, right now, is cake mostly! But I’m keen to see what you come up with! A single image that’s taken this week and screams “Something Sweet” share it in the comments below OR over on our Facebook Group

Hashtags for this weeks challenge are #dPSWeeklyChallenge #dPSSomethingSweet

Get some dessert photography tips over here

Fruity! Who doesn’t love a pav!

The two of mine above are old ‘film scans’ but I WILL bake something and photograph it this week in our Facebook Group (Have you joined?)

The post Weekly dPS Photography Challenge: Something Sweet appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Sime.

Report: Tamron Is Developing a 50-400mm Zoom Lens

Fri, 07/29/2022 - 06:00

The post Report: Tamron Is Developing a 50-400mm Zoom Lens appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Tamron has unveiled the 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD for Sony, a zoom lens that promises to pack an extraordinary focal length range, speedy autofocusing, and outstanding optics into an impressively compact body.

The 50-400mm will attract plenty of photographers based on focal length alone; bird, wildlife, and sports shooters will appreciate the lens’s super-telephoto long end and flexible zoom range, while travel and portrait snappers will love the lens’s ability to handle scene-setting images, full-body and group photos, and tighter headshots without skipping a beat. Even landscape photographers may consider switching out several primes or telephoto zooms for the new 50-400mm to simplify their kit.

Impressively, the 50-400mm offers 1:2 magnification at its widest focal length, which allows nature shooters to snap stunning close-ups of flowers, insects, and other macro subjects. And thanks to the lens’s lightweight and compact build, it can be carried anywhere – on mountain treks, deep dives into the wilderness, international travels, and more. 

Tamron explains, “[T]his new ultra-telephoto zoom lens for Sony E-mount full-frame mirrorless cameras is the same size as conventional 100-400mm zoom lenses yet offers a wider angle of view on the wide end for excellent versatility.” In other words, you get all the benefits of a superzoom lens without the extra bulk.

Superzoom lenses offer notoriously poor optics, but Tamron guarantees “high image quality” and “unparalleled high performance at all focal lengths.” And such a performance would be in line with other recent zoom lenses from Tamron – like the 150-500mm – which boast excellent sharpness across the board, especially when stopped down.

As for the lens’s autofocusing capabilities: Tamron’s VXD motor has previously proven itself capable of satisfying even bird photographers, where the ability to track moving subjects across complex scenes is essential. Of course, focusing performance also depends heavily on the camera, but paired with a recent mirrorless model like the Sony a7 IV, the 50-400mm should perform well.

While the lens may include high-level optics and quick focusing, the 50-400mm does come with a drawback worth contemplating: Poor low-light capabilities. On the wide end, the lens aperture only opens to f/4.5, which narrows to f/6.3 by 400mm – not ideal for bird and wildlife photography in dark forests, nor nighttime or indoor sports photography. Tamron has added its image stabilization technology (VC, or Vibration Compensation) for sharper shots in tough conditions, but this handy enhancement won’t do much to improve shots of moving subjects such as foraging mammals or flying birds.

That said, the 50-400mm will likely perform exceptionally well in good light, and in tougher conditions, you can always boost your ISO as needed (assuming you’re willing to compromise on image quality).

When will the 50-400mm be released, and how much will it cost?

Tamron notes that the lens will debut sometime in the fall, but the exact release date is still unknown. The price is also under wraps, but going by the $1399 150-500mm, we can perhaps expect a price tag in the $800-$1300 range.

So if you’re looking for a smaller yet powerful telephoto zoom – for sports photography, wildlife photography, bird photography, travel photography, and more – then keep an eye out for further news on the 50-400mm. 

Now over to you:

What do you think of Tamron’s latest lens announcement? Are you pleased? Disappointed? Will you consider purchasing the 50-400mm? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

The post Report: Tamron Is Developing a 50-400mm Zoom Lens appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

8 Dessert Photography Tips (for Delicious Shots!)

Thu, 07/28/2022 - 06:00

The post 8 Dessert Photography Tips (for Delicious Shots!) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.

Dessert photography, like most food photography, can be done in many styles – commercial, lifestyle, flat lay, and so on. But one thing all these approaches have in common? They try to make the viewer feel tempted by the featured dessert.

In this article, I share my top tips to improve your dessert images (regardless of your style). I discuss my favorite settings, how to handle dessert lighting, a simple way to make your images more appetizing, and much more.

Ready to become a dessert photoshoot master? Then let’s dive right in, starting with:

1. Choose the right settings Canon 70D | 35mm | f/4 | 1s | ISO 100

If you want to capture consistently gorgeous dessert photos, then you must take control of your camera settings.

I use Manual mode when doing dessert photoshoots, and I encourage you to do the same. However, if you’re not yet comfortable controlling all your exposure settings independently, you can start with a semi-automatic mode like Aperture Priority. (Over time, you can work up to Manual.)

What about your other settings?

As you probably know, there are three factors that determine the exposure of each image: shutter speed, ISO, and aperture. All three need to be in balance to capture the right amount of light. However, each of them also changes the final look of the image (i.e., shutter speed affects image sharpness, ISO affects image quality, and aperture affects depth of field).

Unless there’s a moving subject, start by choosing the aperture. It’ll influence your depth of field – how much of your image is in focus – which can make a dramatic difference in your photos. (Do keep in mind, however, that the aperture isn’t the only factor affecting depth of field; the focal length and the distance between you and the subject are additional variables.)

Once you’ve determined the aperture based on your depth of field considerations, you should move on to the ISO. I’d encourage you to keep this as low as possible. On most cameras, ISO 100 is ideal, and it’ll give you high-quality images with less noise and a greater dynamic range.

Finally, move on to the shutter speed, which you should select based on exposure considerations. The point here is to use the shutter speed to balance out the overall exposure. I’d also recommend following the reciprocal rule – so if your shutter speed value is lower than your focal length, you’ll want to bring a tripod. (For example, if you’re using a 60mm lens, then you’ll need a tripod if you plan to shoot below 1/60s.) That said, tripods are pretty useful regardless of shutter speed as they offer improved control over the composition and focus.

One caveat: If your dessert photos include motion, then start by selecting the shutter speed, not the aperture, as it’ll determine whether the subject is frozen or blurred. Then choose your aperture, and finally select the ISO to balance out the exposure.

2. Use lighting to your advantage

Some people say you should always do dessert photography with natural light, while others say it’s best with studio light. For me, it’s all about the light you have available and what you’re trying to achieve.

Check out the example displayed below. I dropped some macarons from above, and I used a flash to freeze them as they fell. However, I also used a slow shutter speed – letting in some natural light – because I wanted a touch of motion blur to make the image more dynamic.

Canon 70D | 17mm | f/8 | 1/25s | ISO 100

In other words, don’t feel the need to only work with natural light or only work with studio light. Both can get you great results, and you can sometimes get the best results by combining the two! Experiment with different types of lighting, and test out different lighting directions, too.

And remember: You don’t need a big setup and expensive equipment to make mouthwatering dessert photography. What’s important is to understand how light works, and to have a few modifiers that can help you adjust the lighting quality and direction as needed.

3. Choose a color palette

Dessert photography can be very colorful (think about the vibrant hues on ice cream and birthday cakes!). However, it can also be quite muted and monotone – when photographing a rustic strudel, for example.

Before you start setting up your dessert scene, think about your color palette. And whether you decide to make things colorful or subtle, the most important thing is that you create a harmonious combination.

I’d recommend making use of a color wheel to establish a color combination from the beginning. You can then use it to help you find the right background and props. For the scene below, I chose to keep things monochromatic, which meant finding props featuring various shades of purple:

Canon 70D | 55mm | f/4 | 1/200s | ISO 100

But you can also use complementary colors, such as orange and green, to add some eye-catching contrast.

A great free tool here is Adobe Color. You don’t need to have a paid membership or even an Adobe account to use it (unless you want to save your color palettes, in which case you do need a free account, and you’ll need a paid account to share your palettes across Adobe apps). And Adobe Color even lets you extract palettes from photos, plus it offers inspiration from concepts and trends.

Of course, you don’t have to use Adobe Color. Simply do what you can to learn about color theory and use the tools that work best for you!

4. Pay careful attention to the composition Canon 70D | 55mm | f/2.8 | 1/200s | ISO 100

Pretty much every great dessert photo features a great composition, and even if you only have a few elements in your frame, you can make use of compositional guidelines to make your dessert photos more interesting.

I’m not going to spend time delving into different composition rules and how to use them for dessert photography – that could take up an entire article! – but I will offer a few suggestions:

At the end of the day, whether you need to position a single macaroon or build a complex flat-lay setup, composition is key. So always keep it in mind as you capture each new dessert photo.

One more thing: It’s important to remember that you can always take the composition in several different directions. Don’t feel like you need to find a single applicable guideline for each situation – picking the right composition is all about your style and the message you want to send or the effect you want to create.

5. Include texture whenever you can

This tip is a quick one, but it’s incredibly effective:

Whenever possible, include texture in your dessert photos.

If you know how to cook (or you watch tons of cooking shows like me!), you know how important texture can be. That’s why we add croutons to a soup or chunks of goodies to a creamy dessert.

The crunchiness occupies more senses, and that’s also what texture does in a picture. By including texture, the viewer can imagine how the dessert feels – both in their hands and in their mouth. In other words, textures help the viewer engage with the photo.

Note that adding texture doesn’t have to be complex. A handy tactic is to add a dash of an ingredient or two. Another option is to include textured props.

Canon 70D | 55mm | f/6.3 | 1/200s | ISO 100

Look at the example above. Instead of using a fully white background, I chose white paper doilies. I broke some cookies in the background and left the crumbs, and I added a teaspoon full of powdered cocoa (and I sprinkled some around the scene). All these elements add texture while maintaining the dessert’s overall color palette.

6. Adjust your angle Canon 70D | 55mm | f/5.6 | 1/160s | ISO 100

Different angles can create radically different effects, so I encourage you to think constantly about your camera’s position in relation to the dessert.

If you’re struggling to choose the perfect angle, it helps to consider the dessert’s features. How can you showcase the dessert’s best qualities? For example, cookies are quite flat but often have a nice topping, so it makes sense to capture them from directly overhead (flat-lay style) or at a 45-degree angle. But a layered cake? That can really benefit from a side view.

Of course, while you need to showcase your subject, you also need to consider your style. How much of the background do you want to include? How many props will you add?

The most traditional dessert photography angles are flat lay (directly from above), 45 degrees (as the viewer would see it while sitting at a table), and tabletop (from the side of the dessert at table height).

Once you’ve captured a standard shot or two, I do encourage you to experiment with other perspectives. You never know what amazing results you might get!

7. Include a person

Many beginner food photographers only include the dessert – plus a few props – in their compositions. But while you can certainly capture beautiful dessert images using such an approach, if you include a person, you can make the dessert much more relatable.

You don’t need to incorporate an entire person into the composition; just the hands can look good. Their inclusion should make sense and seem natural, though, so I recommend you spend time thinking about the story that you want to tell.

Is the person preparing the dessert? Is the person eating? Are they passing plates to other characters outside the frame? You can communicate all this with the person’s position and gestures, the styling, and even your technical choices.

For instance, you can freeze the action or allow some motion blur by changing your shutter speed. You can include clean hands (for eating) or have them covered in flour (for cooking). For this next image, the hands suggest someone enjoying the bread:

Canon 70D | 55mm | f/8 | 1/200s | ISO 100

Do you see what I mean? Posing hands (or people) is a long decision-making process, and it often requires some trial and error. You’ll sometimes come up with ideas that don’t actually look good in the final image, and that’s okay. Just keep going, shoot a lot, and you’ll eventually get some great images.

8. Don’t forget to retouch your dessert photos

Pretty much every photo requires a bit of basic editing, such as exposure and color correction. But dessert photography also requires some extra retouching (especially if you’re not working with a food stylist).

For instance, the cookie might have a dent or the ice cream started to melt, in which case you can use Photoshop to get a radically improved result. (In my view, you can pretty much always improve the subject somehow!)

In the “Before” image above, there are many crumbs on the bread edges. And while texture is good (see my fifth tip!), they’re too bright against the darker brown. I should’ve wiped my knife between cuts, but I forgot, which led to a problem. Fortunately, as you can see from the “After” image, I was able to remove the crumbs using Photoshop’s Healing and Clone tools.

Dessert photography: final words

Well, there you have it:

Eight tips to enhance your dessert shots and capture mouthwatering images! I hope you found these tips useful; try them in your next shoot and see what you think!

Which of the tips do you plan to use first? Do you have any additional tips? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

The post 8 Dessert Photography Tips (for Delicious Shots!) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.

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