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Updated: 4 hours 49 min ago

13 Child Photography Ideas to Get Your Creative Juices Flowing

Thu, 08/19/2021 - 06:00

The post 13 Child Photography Ideas to Get Your Creative Juices Flowing appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.

Children are some of the most rewarding subjects you’ll ever photograph. They bring a sense of fun, excitement, and wide-eyed wonder to a photo session – but photographing children can also feel overwhelming and even a bit chaotic, especially if you’ve never done this type of work for clients before.

These 13 child photography ideas will give you lots to think about before your next session, and can hopefully serve as a starting point for you to think about your own style and techniques, too.

Let’s dive right in.

1. Ask the child to bring a prop Nikon D200 | 50mm f/1.8G | f/2.8 | 1/250s | ISO 200

Doing child photo sessions can be difficult, but imagine what it’s like for the kids. They’re in a strange location with parents fussing over their clothes, while other people are making faces and telling them to smile. It’s positively overwhelming!

One thing you can do to give the children a sense of calm and peace? Encourage them to bring a prop. Let their parents know beforehand, so they can help the child pick out something special and meaningful.

Stuffed animals, a favorite toy, or even just a photo or some artwork from home can go a long way toward making a photo session fun. These help children feel at ease, and while you can of course bring your own props, they just don’t have the same sentimental value as a prop that means a lot to the child. Years down the line, these props will help add a sense of context to the photos you took, plus parents will enjoy looking back at their children with their favorite toys or dolls long after the actual props have been relegated to a box in the attic.

2. Let kids be kids Nikon D200 | 50mm f/1.8G | f/2.8 | 1/80s | ISO 200

Kids see the world differently than adults. They find joy in little things, wear emotions on their sleeves, and march to the beat of their own drums. I have seen many photographers throw up their hands in frustration when working with children because the kids won’t listen to directions. I can certainly relate, especially since I have children of my own! It’s enough to make you want to give up on family photography and work with, say, inanimate objects.

But in these situations, the best advice I have is to just embrace the randomness that kids bring to a photo shoot. Let them be who they are, even if it’s a little goofy, eccentric, or out of the ordinary. Be ready to capture some photos with your camera on its high-speed continuous mode, and don’t be afraid to get your hands or clothes dirty in the process. (I’ve long since learned to wear comfortable pants and sandals to family photo sessions, and to put them in the laundry as soon as I get home!)

The best-laid plans of mice, men, and photographers often go awry, but these fun moments are when you can get some of the most memorable pictures from a photo session.

3. Show their personalities Nikon D750 | 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II | f/2.8 | 1/500s | ISO 400

Every kid is unique, and they express themselves in many different ways. One thing you can do to make your photos stand out is to encourage the kids to let their sense of individuality shine through. While the results might not be your own personal favorites, parents love images that capture a sense of who their kids really are.

So whether the child is making a silly face, doing an odd pose, or even picking their nose, moments that capture genuine personality often end up making for the most memorable photos.

By the way, personality-focused photos are a great way to build rapport with children. Kids often come to a photo shoot with a healthy dose of trepidation and skepticism, especially if they have been bossed around by other photographers at previous picture sessions. But if you let them show their personalities, they will usually loosen up and trust you a bit more, which helps when it comes time for more formal pictures, such as group shots or headshots.

4. Photograph the shared special moments Nikon D750 | 50mm f/1.8G | f/2.8 | 1/250s | ISO 200

Authenticity is a special thing. As photographers, we often aim for specific results, and while the resulting shots might be great on a technical level, these formal images can be bereft of substance and emotion. I always try to find a way of capturing special moments, especially between parents and kids, even if the resulting images don’t follow the traditional rules of photography.

Things like holding hands, a warm embrace, a special look, or a shared laugh help peel back the shiny veneer of perfection we often strive for, and instead let us capture something real. You can’t fake these moments; you have to be prepared with your camera so you can capture them if and when they happen.

In the photo above, I captured a grandmother holding her new baby granddaughter, and even though the child is sleeping and most of the adult’s face is not visible, the image tells a story that goes well beyond “Look over here and smile.” In the end, this was one of my clients’ favorite images from the entire session.

5. Go for a walk Nikon D750 | 85mm f/1.8G | f/4 | 1/400s | ISO 180

Do you shoot photos on location? Heading out for a walk is a great way to embrace your surroundings while also capturing some really interesting shots that parents and kids will appreciate for years to come. Have your clients take a short walk and document the excursion with your camera. Take shots from the front, from behind, and even from above (if you can find a high vantage point to shoot from).

One of my favorite types of walking shots involves parents holding hands with their kids. This conveys a sense of care and tenderness while also ensuring your subjects are all on the same focal plane. A zoom lens isn’t required, but it certainly is useful, as you’ll spend less time chasing after people and more time taking pictures. Make sure your camera is on its high-speed continuous shooting mode, since you might need 20 or 30 shots to get one that you really like.

And if the children aren’t old enough to walk on their own, just ask the parents to carry them (or give them a ride on their shoulders) for some equally memorable images.

6. Run for it! Nikon D750 | 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II | f/4 | 1/350s | ISO 500

This is a tried-and-true technique for getting some outstanding images, and it’s a great way to impress your clients with photos they certainly can’t capture on their own.

Use a zoom lens (preferably a 70-200mm f/2.8 or f/4) and a high-speed continuous shooting mode. I also recommend Auto ISO with a minimum shutter speed of 1/500s. Back-button focus helps, but most modern cameras have such good autofocus that you can usually just rely on that.

Then stand far back from the kids and tell them to run toward you on the count of one…two…three…GO!

Start with your lens zoomed in as far as it will go, then slowly decrease the focal length as the kids run toward you. You only have 5 to 10 seconds to shoot before the children rush past, but that’s usually enough for some great shots. Your number one goal here is to get as many pictures as possible and sort them out later.

Most of your shots won’t be too noteworthy, but some will be amazing and one or two will likely end up printed, framed, and hung on a wall. I recommend briefly reviewing your photos as the kids are catching their breath, and if you’re not certain that you got some good shots, just tell the kids to repeat the exercise.

7. Let the kids play around Nikon D750 | 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II | f/4 | 1/250s | ISO 160

This one isn’t always easy to pull off, but if you can catch kids while they are playing, laughing, or joking around, it’s like striking photographic gold. Some photographers choose locations that are more conducive to this type of freeform play, but unless you have your own private playground, it’s not always the simplest thing to do.

Instead, I try to laugh and joke with the kids by telling them a funny story or asking them to do something silly, which often leads them down their own creative rabbit hole.

For the photo above, I told the boy to whisper a joke in his sister’s ear, which made both of them giggle. Then I stepped back and started taking pictures while she told her brother a joke. They went back and forth like that for a while, taking my initial idea and running with it way beyond what I expected.

The kids had a great time just messing around, and I was able to get some photos that their parents absolutely loved.

8. Take photos from above Nikon D750 | 50mm f/1.8G | f/4 | 1/125s | ISO 400

Want to take unique shots that will make your clients call you for repeat photo sessions? Bring a ladder along with your camera gear.

Then stand up high – make sure to be safe! – and get some shots of the kids from above. These can be slice-of-life images with the children playing or reading, but I also like to have them look up at me and smile while I take their picture.

One nice thing about overhead photos is that you don’t need any fancy camera gear (such as wide-aperture lenses). Background blur isn’t an issue since the kids are so close to the ground or floor, and the kids usually aren’t moving around too much, either.

This means you can get outstanding images with a basic camera and kit lens. The uniqueness of these shots comes from the camera angle, which is something a lot of people don’t really think about. It’ll make the resulting shots memorable and unique, which your clients will greatly appreciate.

9. Get a group hug! Nikon D200 | 50mm f/1.8G | f/2.8 | 1/320s | ISO 200

The key to a good group-hug photo is timing. It’s not difficult to have all the kids get together – just tell them to pile on or around the largest child, then start taking photos! The tricky part is knowing when to do it.

If you shoot a group-hug picture early in a photo session, you won’t get the kind of genuine emotions you might otherwise capture. If you get the group hug picture too late, the kids and their parents will be tired and may not be in the mood. However, if you can snag a group hug at just the right time, the results are amazing.

That’s why I like to do group hugs about halfway through a photo session. It’s nice to get to know the families first, do some individual shots, and get photos of the kids with their parents. Then, after about 15 or 20 minutes, everyone is more comfortable – and your clients, especially the younger ones, start to lose a bit of steam. That’s a great time to get some shots of all the kids together!

Doing a group hug injects some much-needed energy into a photo session, helps the kids and their parents relax for a bit, and sets the stage for a successful second half.

10. Read a book Nikon D7100 | 50mm f/1.8G | f/2.8 | 1/350s | ISO 200

Every kid has a favorite book. Whether it’s a picture book, a novel, or even a coloring book, these treasures work wonders for your photography. It’s easy to get kids to smile and laugh when you ask them to read their favorite story, and you’ll get the opportunity to capture photos of them lost in their imagination as they turn the pages.

One of the biggest benefits of photographing children with books comes years later and is not readily apparent during the photo session. You see, when parents look at the photos after time has passed, seeing their kids reading their favorite books always brings back a rush of emotions.

11. Bring a four-legged friend Nikon D750 | 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II | f/4 | 1/250s | ISO 100

There’s one surefire way to add a lot of excitement and emotion to a children’s photo shoot: let them bring a pet. When you involve a cat, dog, lizard, or other animal friend in a photo session, you will get plenty of big smiles, genuine emotions, and great shots.

Pets put children at ease and give them something to focus on besides you and their parents, plus these pictures often make for great memories years down the road. However, photographing with pets carries some important risks, so you need to make sure you are prepared.

Pets, even friendly ones, can get nervous and start acting up during a photo session. I have never been bitten by a dog or other animal while shooting, but I have had them nip at me and my camera gear.

Animals can also be moody and uncooperative, which stresses out the parents – and even the children – at times. Generally, what I recommend is involving pets in a small portion of a photo session but not the whole thing.

Have a family member or trusted friend bring the pet in for a few minutes. Shoot some pictures, but then have them take the pet back home. That way, you get the benefit of shooting photos with pets without any of the hassles, and you and your clients can be happy with the results.

12. Get a classic headshot Nikon D750 | 85mm f/1.8G | f/2.8 | 1/250s | ISO 200

There’s a temptation among photographers to try always try something new, break the mold, and chart their own course through the uncertain waters of child photography. And while that’s often a good thing, there is a time for everything under the sun, and this certainly applies to photography.

In other words: when you’re taking photos of children, it’s great to try new, creative, and innovative ideas – but it’s also good to include some of the staples of the genre, such as the classic headshot.

These photos aren’t complicated, but they are often overlooked by new photographers who are eager to try new things. In truth, you can’t go wrong with a traditional headshot, and many of your clients will expect these types of images along with the other, more creative photos you are able to capture.

To get good headshots, use a wide aperture between f/2.8 and f/1.8, make sure your subjects are evenly lit, ask them to look at you and smile, and start pressing the shutter button. If your subject’s attention keeps wandering, have a parent or sibling stand directly behind you (and if your camera has it, use eye-detect autofocus).

The resulting pictures won’t win awards for creativity, but they will look great when printed, framed, and hung on the wall (which is where many of your clients will end up putting them!).

13. Use an initialed prop Nikon D750 | 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II | f/3.3 | 1/250s | ISO 400

Remember how I suggested you use a child’s prop? For a fun twist on this idea, ask your clients to bring something with the first letter of their child’s name on it. The object doesn’t have to be fancy, and you might even consider getting your own array of objects as a backup, just in case your client doesn’t have anything that works. The point is to add a bit of personal flair to your child photos – to give them a little extra pizzazz that they might otherwise lack.

This approach works best with very young children, generally no more than 18 months old. If you go much beyond that, it starts to look a bit cheesy and forced, though it can still work with the right prop (say, a t-shirt or jersey that prominently displays a first initial).

My favorite technique is to use simple wooden alphabet blocks. You don’t need to spell out the child’s entire name; just adding their first initial goes a long way toward making a standout photo. It also sends a message to the parents that you care enough to go the extra mile, and this helps lead to repeat business and referrals.

Child photography ideas: final words

My most important rule when taking pictures of children is to make sure they have fun. If the kids are angry, bored, or irritated, it will certainly come through in the photos – and the same goes for you. (After all, a surly photographer is not going to get great shots!)

These 13 child photography ideas should give you plenty to think about as you approach your next session, but at the end of the day, make sure the experience is enjoyable. Relax, take a breath, lighten up, and have a good time. A positive attitude is one of the best things you can bring to any photo event, especially when children are involved.

What about you? What are some of your favorite child photography tips and tricks? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

The post 13 Child Photography Ideas to Get Your Creative Juices Flowing appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.

Lightroom vs ON1: Which Photo Editor Is Right for You?

Wed, 08/18/2021 - 06:00

The post Lightroom vs ON1: Which Photo Editor Is Right for You? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Dawn Gilfillan.

Which program is best for photo editing, Lightroom vs ON1 Photo RAW?

In this comparison, we lay it all out for you. We discuss the pros and cons of these two popular programs, including:

  • Editing features
  • Photo organization capabilities
  • Price
  • Ease of use

By the time you’re done, you’ll know exactly which editing program is the better buy! Let’s dive right in.

Lightroom vs ON1: Overview

Lightroom Classic has been around for a while now, and the program has plenty of die-hard fans; when it was first released, it attracted a lot of attention, thanks to its user-friendly tools and helpful presets.

ON1 Photo RAW is the newer program of the two. It draws on Lightroom’s immense success while attempting to improve upon some of the latter program’s faults, making it an innovative, potentially appealing Lightroom alternative.

Here, we’ll run through a quick list of pros and cons for both programs before moving on to an in-depth look at their individual features.

Lightroom Classic

Lightroom’s catalog system is very versatile and good for backing up your images. The library organization is similar to ON1, but it does have more sorting tools, like AI keywording and facial recognition.

There are more preset packages and third-party tools available in Lightroom compared to ON1, and it is also generally faster. You have the option to edit Lightroom images offline.

On the other hand, Lightroom doesn’t have adjustment layers (and ON1 does). Lightroom also doesn’t do focus stacking in panoramas and in HDR images, while ON1 offers these handy features.

ON1 Photo RAW

You don’t need to import photos into ON1 to edit them. Instead, as soon as you install the program, it will find all your photos; you can easily see them in the Albums section. ON1 also makes use of adjustment layers, and they are very similar to those in Photoshop. ON1 doesn’t have as many available preset packages as Lightroom, but the built-in options are very good.

ON1 just isn’t as fast as Lightroom for most tasks, and there is currently no offline editing feature. ON1 utilizes a database system instead of catalogs, which doesn’t offer as much versatility or security when backing up your images.

1. Photo organization capabilities

One of the main differences between Lightroom vs ON1 is in terms of how they store the edits you make to your images.

Lightroom Classic


Lightroom’s catalog system can seem a bit confusing, but it’s basically just a single (catalog) file that saves all the edits you make to every image. It also saves keywords, ratings, and other changes.

Lightroom offers non-destructive photo editing, which means your original files are always kept safe and unaffected by user adjustments. This is a major benefit – after all, everyone makes mistakes, and there are times when your editing will go too far astray. Thanks to non-destructive editing, you can scrap your changes and start fresh with the original.

ON1 Photo RAW

ON1 uses a database system and creates a collection of files (not just one single file, as with Lightroom’s catalog). When you open ON1, all the photos on your computer will appear in the program so you don’t have to go searching for them. While this is nice, it picks up every single image on your computer, even files that you have downloaded from the internet – which can be an annoyance.

Also, like Lightroom, ON1 is a non-destructive photo editor.

One downside to ON1? You can’t back up the database within the software. You’ll need to put another system in place, such as backing up to an external hard drive or cloud.

2. Layout and ease of use

Both image editing programs are intuitive, but the layouts differ somewhat, and Lightroom is the more user-friendly of the two.

Lightroom Classic


Importing images into Lightroom is a breeze: simply click on Import Photos and Video in the File menu. This menu is also where you can optimize your catalog, import develop profiles and presets, export images, manage plugins, and lots more.

Once uploaded, you can select your images for editing and click Develop. You are then taken to a screen with a relatively easy-to-understand layout. Presets are arranged on the left-hand side of the screen, while editing tools are found on the right:

Lightroom’s interface is clear and uncluttered, so even a beginner will find the layout easy to navigate. Personally, I’m a big fan of the simple and user-friendly layout – both for importing and editing.

ON1 Photo RAW

The ON1 Photo RAW layout is slightly more confusing. Because the program has so many editing features, the tools appear crammed onto one screen. As with Lightroom, presets are on the left-hand side and editing tools appear on the right. However, that’s where the similarities end.

As you can see in the photo above, the Mask, Text, Transform, and Crop tools are positioned near the presets instead of alongside the other editing tools. The presets are also shown as icons instead of text, which takes up even more room on the screen.

Overall, the effect is cluttered, and the editing interface is a lot to take in for a complete beginner.

3. Editing tools

Both programs have a good selection of editing tools, but ON1 has the edge here; it does the job of both Lightroom and Photoshop. Whereas Lightroom is designed for RAW conversions, adding presets, and basic editing prior to Photoshop work, ON1 Photo RAW is designed as an all-in-one, comprehensive editing program that lets you apply basic edits, but also create layers, add text, and more.

Lightroom Classic

Lightroom is an excellent RAW converter, and the range of presets you can buy is incredible. It was Lightroom that first pioneered the concept of adding presets to images, and this has been adopted by almost every image editing program on the market.

Run your mouse pointer over the Lightroom preset list (even if you haven’t purchased presets, Lightroom comes with plenty of built-in options), and your image will change accordingly. You’ll see a a preview of the preset in action, which is a great time-saver (especially if you have hundreds of presets to consider). ON1 Photo RAW doesn’t have this functionality; you must apply a preset to the image to see how it looks.

Over on the right-hand side, you have the main editing tools, starting with a histogram. Underneath this, you’ll find the Crop tool, the Graduated Filter, the Adjustment Brush, etc. Next are the essential adjustments like exposure, white balance, and contrast. Scroll even farther and you’ll find more advanced tools: color grading, lens corrections, sharpening, and more.

That’s about it for editing, but along the top menu bar you also have the option to print, upload images to the web, create a slideshow, or design a photo book. I don’t often print from Lightroom, as I find it easier (and more color accurate) to do this in Photoshop, but there are plenty of templates to choose from.

ON1 Photo RAW

ON1 Photo RAW matches all of Lightroom’s editing features – except the range of specialist print options. This means you can print a photo, but there’s no option to design slideshows or photo books. ON1 also doesn’t have a color grading tool like Lightroom.

That said, ON1 does have layers and easy-to-apply effects like polarizers. ON1’s masking and retouching features aren’t as good as Photoshop’s, so professionals will struggle to gain the necessary fine control when editing, but beginners and enthusiasts should find the editing tools varied and useful.

Unlike Lightroom, ON1 has a very good, easy-to-use text tool with a variety of fonts available. Another great feature in ON1 is Portrait AI, which automatically evaluates images using artificial intelligence and applies adjustments to create the best possible result.

4. Speed

Which program is faster, Lightroom or ON1? All image editing programs are power-hungry, and it does depend on your computer. But in my experience, Lightroom is more responsive and faster than ON1, which can lag and freeze up.

If you’re concerned about speed, check out the Lightroom and ON1 program requirements before buying, and make sure your computer exceeds the disk space and memory recommendations.

5. Price

Lightroom is available only as a Creative Cloud subscription. Prices start from $9.99 USD per month for Lightroom and Photoshop with 20 GB of storage. However, the best value for money is the Photography Plan, which costs $19.99 USD per month. Here, you get Photoshop, Lightroom Classic, and Lightroom CC with 1 TB of online storage space, which lets you back up and sync around 20,000 RAW files or 200,000 JPEGs on your desktop and mobile devices.

ON1 Photo RAW, on the other hand, can be purchased outright, though you can also go the subscription route. For a one-time purchase, you’ll pay $99.99 USD. If you’d prefer to subscribe to ON1 Photo RAW, plans start at $7.99 per month with 200 GB of storage, and go up to $179.99 yearly with 1 TB of storage.

Lightroom vs ON1: Which program is best?

Now that you’ve read a bit about Lightroom vs ON1 and seen the features, layout, and pricing, hopefully you have a better sense of which program will work best for you.

In my opinion, Lightroom is particularly suited to beginners because of the user-friendly interface. It’s also great for those who want to add presets and upload images to social media or create photo books and prints.

Ultimately, Lightroom is one of the best RAW converters out there, and if you need more advanced editing options than Lightroom alone can provide, you can purchase an Adobe plan that includes Photoshop. That way, you can do your initial RAW conversion and editing in Lightroom, then switch your images over to Photoshop for removing objects, masking, layers, composites, and blending modes.

ON1 Photo RAW is an all-in-one image editor, meaning you can go from start to finish in the single program. It will suit photographers who like to use cutting-edge technology like the Portrait AI feature, which can save time when you have a lot of images to process.

ON1 will also suit those who want to take advantage of the available presets, texture packs, and LUTs. The text tool is a great addition to ON1, too.

The only real issue with ON1 is the cramped and cluttered layout, but the program is still usable and is liked by plenty of beginners.

If you’re still on the fence, you can try out ON1 Photo RAW for 14 days. Lightroom also has a 7-day trial option – so try both and see which works best for you!

Lightroom vs ON1 FAQs Can ON1 import a Lightroom catalog?

Yes, by using the Migration Assistant. This is intended for a one-off migration, not a constant syncing of your Lightroom images to ON1.

Does Lightroom Classic work on a mobile device?

Sort of. The mobile version of Lightroom works well on iPhones, iPads, and Android devices. And it’s free to download and use (though to access certain app features, you’ll need a Lightroom subscription).

Does ON1 Photo RAW work on a mobile device?

Yes, you can download and use the ON1 Photo RAW app for both iOS and Android devices. The app itself is free, but if you are a registered user of ON1 Photo RAW, you’ll get access to more advanced mobile editing features.

Can I use ON1 as a plugin in Lightroom?

Yes, you can! There are two main ways to use ON1 with Lightroom: via the Plug-In Extras command in the File menu, and via the Edit In command in the Photo menu.

The post Lightroom vs ON1: Which Photo Editor Is Right for You? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Dawn Gilfillan.

Perspective in Photography: 4 Vantage Points for Unique Compositions

Tue, 08/17/2021 - 06:00

The post Perspective in Photography: 4 Vantage Points for Unique Compositions appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Katie McEnaney.

As photographers, we often fall into the bad habit of shooting everything we see from eye level.

We walk around, something catches our attention, and we take a picture – right from where we are standing, without bending down, moving to the side, getting up high, etc.

(Sound familiar?)

But if you want to create stunning, eye-catching, original compositions, you need to get out of your eye-level (or tripod-level) rut. You need a change in perspective.

And that’s what this article is all about. I’m going to give you several easy tips for working with perspective in photography. By the time you’re done, you’ll be ready to bend, climb, move, and contort like a pro.

Let’s get started.

1. Get low

The easiest way to change your perspective for dramatic impact?

Get down low.

I use this all the time in my own photos, and it’s a favorite trick of many professional shooters. A low angle presents the world from a completely different point of view, one where the viewer feels small and the rest of the world looms large:

So get your camera down toward ground level, and see how it impacts your perspective. Don’t be afraid to lie flat in the grass, soil, or mud; you might get dirty, but it’ll be worth it!

Also, quick tip: Getting down low allows you to emphasize the foreground of your composition. You can use a wide-angle lens to feature foreground elements, which will then pull the viewer right into the image. Take another look at the shot above; do you see how the leaves act as a foreground anchor, guiding the viewer into the image and toward the background tree?

A low perspective can also change the way your viewer feels about or reacts to your subject. Getting low can make your subject appear taller or more imposing. Subjects viewed from below can look commanding and powerful. Even a simple sunflower can seem to tower above its surroundings:

Plus, a low angle can completely disorient your viewer. This near water-level shot (below) becomes a study in color and texture, as the water and the fallen autumn leaves interact with each other. From eye level, this would simply have been a photograph looking down into a storm gutter. But getting low simplified the composition, providing the viewer with a startlingly unique perspective.

2. Get up high (and shoot downward)

Shooting from up high does the opposite of getting down low. Instead of making the viewer feel small and the subject loom large, a high perspective makes the viewer feel huge and the subject look tiny:

Notice how the high vantage point gives the photo a sort of “giant looking down into a toy world” perspective? Photographers love to use this angle when shooting objects that are actually very large (e.g., mountains, icebergs, trees). It creates an interesting juxtaposition between what the viewer believes about the subject (i.e., that it’s huge) and what the viewer actually sees (i.e., it’s tiny).

Getting up high is also a great way to emphasize geometry – the lines, circles, squares, and dots that make up the scene. So if your subject is very graphic, with lots of obvious lines and curves, try a high vantage point; it’ll likely work well.

Unfortunately, a high perspective comes with a major issue:

Getting above a subject is not an easy task. It often requires a lot of creativity, and there are times when it just won’t work. Here are a few methods of getting up high (but be mindful of the appropriateness of each method given the situation):

  • Climb stairs
  • Climb on a roof
  • Shoot from a window
  • Shoot from atop a parking garage
  • Use a drone
  • Hold your camera as high as possible

Obviously, some high perspectives are easier to manage than others. If you want to shoot from above a building, you’ll probably need a parking garage or a drone – but if you want to shoot a flower from above, you simply need to stand tall and point your camera downward.

Make sense?

3. Shoot upward

This perspective is similar to getting low, as discussed above – except rather than shooting directly at your subject from the ground, you shoot up. It’ll emphasize the height of your subject and can often evoke a sense of wonder and awe:

The classic “up high” subject is trees, but you can shoot upward at plenty of subjects, including:

  • Birds
  • Planes
  • Architecture
  • Clouds
  • Flowers
  • Power lines

Note that some of these suggested subjects aren’t actually tall; instead, you just have to creatively work your angles by getting down on the ground and pointing your camera upward.

Pro tip: If you plan to shoot a lot of photos from below, bring a camera with a tilting screen. Constantly shooting upward can really hurt your neck – so a tilting LCD will prevent a lot of pain.

4. Go for the lateral

Low angles and high vantage points can be awestriking, but don’t forget to think laterally, too.

In other words: Before hitting the shutter button, walk a few steps to the right and left. It may not seem like a big deal, but a few feet can make a huge difference to the final photo. For one, you’ll get a different view of your subject. You’ll also get a different foreground and a different background, both of which can make or break a composition.

Personally, the first view and the first angle I try is often not the best available. It takes a bit of work – moving right and left, trying out different foregrounds and backgrounds – before I get the shot I want. Sometimes, it even pays to walk completely around the subject (and you can take a few test shots along the way). That’s what I did for this shot of the Chicago skyline:

I also positioned the spray from the fountain directly in front of a building to make it more visible. You see, in addition to changing the foreground and background, moving your feet can change the way different objects in your photograph interact with each other.

Take a look at the two shots below. While the top photograph looks nice, moving just a few feet to the right and squatting down allowed me to feature the foreground lights with the actual Capitol building in the background. This juxtaposition of elements improved the storytelling ability of the photograph:

Photography perspective: final words

Hopefully, you now feel equipped to revolutionize your compositions (just by moving your camera and your feet!).

Do not fall into the trap of shooting everything you see at eye level. Instead, take the time to explore your subject and consider changing your perspective. Get low and see what changes, get up high and explore a new view, or move laterally and watch different interactions occur and disappear between objects.

Now over to you:

What is your favorite photographic perspective? Do you have any tips for great results? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

The post Perspective in Photography: 4 Vantage Points for Unique Compositions appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Katie McEnaney.

A Beginner’s Guide to Buying a Camera (2021 Edition)

Mon, 08/16/2021 - 06:00

The post A Beginner’s Guide to Buying a Camera (2021 Edition) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jeremie Schatz.

Are you searching for your first real camera? Do you want to know what to look for and how to choose?

In 2021, you have plenty of options, but talk of megapixels, mirrorless technology, viewfinder type, and other technical terms can get very confusing, very fast. That’s why, in this camera buying guide for beginners, I’m going to break it all down for you.

Specifically, I’m going to cover the different types of cameras and the key features to look for, plus I’m also going to share some simple tips for getting the right model for your needs.

Let’s dive right in.

Price

Brace yourself: High-quality photography equipment often requires a significant investment.

All cameras cost money, and sometimes lots of it – so determining your budget is a good place to start.

In my experience, the easiest approach to camera budgeting is to come up with a narrow price window. If you think you want to spend under $1,000 USD, you’ll be overwhelmed with choices, but if you aim for the $800-$1,000 range, your options will be much more manageable.

While you’re mulling over your camera budget, consider what other accessories you may need or want. Don’t blow your entire budget on a camera body with no lens. And depending on the type of photography you plan to do, you may want to acquire a tripod, external flash, extra batteries, and memory cards.

Types of cameras

Now that you’ve (hopefully) determined your budget, it’s time to figure out which camera type is right for you.

Generally speaking, you have four main options:

  1. Point-and-shoot cameras
  2. Bridge cameras
  3. DSLRs
  4. Mirrorless cameras

Point-and-shoot cameras are compact and convenient. In general, they’re designed for beginners, and they feature automatic modes for easy, no-knowledge-required photography. Unfortunately, the lenses are built in and non-interchangeable, though they usually cover a wide zoom range. Quality-wise, point-and-shoots run the gamut from cheap and uninspiring to pro-level compacts.

Bridge cameras take the point-and-shoot concept and kick it into high gear; while bridge cameras don’t offer interchangeable lenses, they do offer more control over camera settings, along with larger grips, improved ergonomics, and more rugged bodies.

DSLRs are the classic, fancy-looking cameras with all the buttons and big lenses. Lower-end DSLRs offer good image quality and give users a ton of control, while higher-end DSLRs include an array of advanced features, such as lightning-fast continuous shooting, complex autofocus tracking, and an ultra-rugged frame. You’ll find a mind-boggling assortment of lenses and flashes, as well as a myriad of other gadgets for all sorts of creative effects.

Mirrorless systems are all the rage these days, packing the features of DSLRs into smaller bodies. They offer a great compromise of quality and versatility, and thanks to advances in mirrorless sensor technology, many photographers view mirrorless as the future.

Of course, at the end of the day, none of these camera types are obviously best – rather, they’re good for different users and different types of photography. Choosing a camera type is about recognizing what you want to photograph and how you want to photograph it, rather than grabbing the option with the flashiest features.

So if you’re after an ultra-compact model designed for beginners, I’d suggest picking a point-and-shoot camera, especially if you don’t ever plan on moving past the basics. On the other hand, if your goal is to do serious photography, an entry-level DSLR or mirrorless camera is probably best; these cameras offer excellent image quality at a reasonable price.

Of course, if money is no object, you might consider purchasing a high-level DSLR or mirrorless camera, though these models mainly distinguish themselves in terms of high-level features that you may not have much use for, so think long and hard before you spend thousands on a body like the Sony a7R IV.

Sensor

Once you’ve picked the perfect camera type, you’ll need to understand how to compare different sensors, which vary in three key ways:

  1. Size
  2. Resolution (megapixels)
  3. High-ISO capabilities

Let’s take a closer look at each characteristic in turn:

Sensor size

The bigger the sensor, the better the image quality (all else being equal). For this reason, big sensors tend to be pricey, and they also tend to make their way into the hands of professionals rather than beginners.

In fact, the largest consumer sensors are known as full frame and are the size of a 35mm film negative. But the majority of cameras on the market pack sensors smaller than full frame; these are usually referred to as cropped, or APS-C. Then there are smaller sensors still, known as Four Thirds, and even smaller sensors (though once you get below Four Thirds, you’ll be looking exclusively at compact and bridge cameras).

If capturing sharp, clean images is your main goal, then I’d recommend purchasing a Four Thirds sensor at the very least (and I’d urge you to consider APS-C and even budget full-frame options). That said, larger sensors do correspond to larger camera bodies, so a smaller sensor is a tradeoff worth considering, especially if you plan to travel frequently or you like the idea of carrying a camera around in your pocket.

Note that larger sensors often offer more megapixels, the importance of which I discuss in the next section:

Resolution (megapixels)

These days, high-megapixel cameras are all the rage. You have cameras like the Canon EOS R5 and the Nikon Z7 II packing 45 megapixels, the Sony a7R IV reaching to a whopping 61 megapixels, and talk of an 80+ megapixel model from Canon.

But what do all those megapixels get you? Two things: big prints and cropping latitude.

In other words, a 61 MP camera will let you produce gigantic prints with tons of detail, or it will let you crop in on your subject for a magnified view.

Unfortunately, higher megapixel counts do come with several significant drawbacks. For one, more megapixels tend to reduce high-ISO capabilities so that you’ll capture noisy, messy images in low light. Also, resolution is directly correlated with file size, so you’ll fill up your memory cards and computer hard drive much quicker with a high-resolution camera.

Before you go out and buy that 40+ megapixel camera, ask yourself: do I really need that many megapixels? Sometimes it pays to skimp!

High-megapixel cameras come at a price: they eat up storage on your memory cards and hard drive.

High-ISO capabilities

Some cameras can shoot at ISO 3200, ISO 6400, and beyond without producing significant noise, whereas others struggle to produce usable images past ISO 800.

Here, the difference is partly a function of size, where larger sensors offer better low-light performance, but also a function of sensor technology, where certain sensor types (often found in the most expensive cameras) outperform others.

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to determine a camera’s high-ISO capabilities from its specification sheet alone, so it’s important to read hands-on reviews before purchasing any particular model, especially if low-light photography interests you.

Lens quality (and lens selection)

A sensor is only as good as the lens you put in front of it. If your lens is blurry, then you could have the best sensor in the world, but your photos will turn out blurry, too.

If you’re aiming to purchase a point-and-shoot or bridge camera, compare the zoom range of different models. Ask yourself: How much zoom do I need? Some lenses cover huge ranges and can therefore handle many genres of photography from landscapes to birds and everything in between. Other lenses feature more limited zoom ranges, which might be fine or might become an issue, depending on your interests.

With DSLRs and mirrorless models, you must purchase at least one lens – otherwise, your camera can’t capture photos. Fortunately, the lens options are nearly endless, and there are lenses for pretty much every photographic genre, from portraits to street to wildlife and beyond. Many cameras are offered as kits that come with the camera body and lens. These “kit” lenses are usually lower quality but can certainly produce good results.

Some lenses are more expensive than others, based on several main factors: they let in a lot of light, for one, and they produce very sharp, undistorted images. They also might feature longer focal lengths or large zoom ranges and are often built to more exacting and durable standards.

Really, choosing the perfect lens is often as hard as choosing the perfect camera. As a beginner, though, it often makes sense to start with a kit lens, spend time developing your photographic interests, and then upgrade to more specialized lenses as needed.

Additional key features

Up until this point, I’ve focused on the camera essentials – the characteristics that you should always think about before picking a camera.

But there are plenty of additional features worth considering, depending on the genres that interest you. In this section, I’ll highlight a few of the big ones, starting with:

Autofocus and drive speeds

If you want to photograph action – sports, wildlife, or birds – then you need a camera with advanced autofocus and high continuous shooting speeds.

Look for models that feature complex tracking algorithms (e.g., human or animal eye AF). Also look for 10+ frames per second, as well as a deep (50+ frames) buffer.

Durability

Some cameras are built to last, whereas others struggle to handle a light rain.

If you plan to shoot most of your photos indoors, durability may not matter to you. But if you’ll be capturing landscapes, wildlife, sports, or even outdoor events, the more weather-sealed your camera, the better.

Ergonomics and handling

Some cameras are comfortable to hold plus they’re easy to operate, thanks to helpful features such as fully articulating screens, touch functionality, and autofocus joysticks.

For each camera you consider, make sure to look carefully at the specification list. If there’s a feature you desperately want – such as a fully articulating touchscreen – make sure you grab a camera that includes it!

Other

Here’s a long list of other features worth considering:

  • Wireless connectivity
  • Built-in flash
  • Hot shoe (for an external flash)
  • Dual memory card slots
  • Image stabilization
  • RAW file support
  • Video capabilities (HD, 4K, etc.)
  • External microphone support
  • Shooting modes (for creative effects)
  • Battery life
  • Weight
Guide to buying a camera: final words

Buying a digital camera can be intimidating, and it often feels like the choices never end. Hopefully, this article has offered you some clarity – and you’re now ready to make your first camera purchase.

Also, it’s important to remember: While camera choice does matter, pretty much every model out there is capable of great shots. So don’t stress too much!

The post A Beginner’s Guide to Buying a Camera (2021 Edition) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jeremie Schatz.

Long Exposure Photography: A Step-by-Step Guide

Sun, 08/15/2021 - 06:00

The post Long Exposure Photography: A Step-by-Step Guide appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Francesco Gola.

Are you struggling to capture beautiful long exposure photography? Do you want to learn the long exposure basics – and even take some pro-level images?

Long exposure techniques may seem difficult, but they’re really not. With a little bit of know-how, you can start getting stunning results…

…and that’s what this article is all about. I’m going to give you a simple, step-by-step process for long exposure images. By the time you’re done, you’ll see how easy it is to get satisfying shots on your first attempt, and you’ll know exactly what to do the next time you’re faced with a great opportunity.

Let’s dive right in.

Step 1: Study the weather

Long exposure photography can rise and fall depending on the weather. If you look at the long exposure shots throughout this article, you’ll notice that I make extensive use of clouds to create intense, eye-catching skies.

Therefore, partly cloudy skies are often best for long exposure photography, though you can also work with mostly cloudy or even moody, overcast horizons. Flat white skies (i.e., clouds with no texture) are best avoided – in general, the long exposure effect will be lost on these scenes, and you’ll end up with a drab shot.

Most important of all, a day with a cloudless sky is a good day to have a drink with friends, not to make long exposures. No clouds means no drama, and as with flat overcast skies, a long exposure won’t actually do much.

Step 2: Visit the location well in advance

In a long exposure photo, the world looks completely different from how you see it with your eyes. You must see a long exposure scene with your mind, imagining the look of moving clouds or the force of the sea. And this takes time – certainly longer than it takes to shoot a single, fast-shutter-speed composition.

To address this issue, and to ensure you return home with a strong shot or two, I recommend you scout the location ahead of time. Think about any moving objects you might encounter, such as clouds, water, or even birds. Try to determine how they’ll move on the day of your long exposure photoshoot (you might even take some long exposure test shots).

Also, use a photo planning app to determine where the sun will be positioned during your final shot, then take steps to avoid putting it in the frame. Why? Well, the sun moves across the sky, so if you include it in your composition, you’ll end up with a bright streak of light, which generally does not look great in an otherwise magical long exposure shot.

Step 3: Set up the right gear (including a tripod)

Long exposure photography isn’t especially gear intensive. You need a camera, and while I recommend a DSLR or a mirrorless body, you can even get away with using a smartphone. You also might need a filter, depending on the lighting conditions – more on that later.

But you definitely, one-hundred percent do need a tripod.

A tripod will keep your camera steady over the course of a five-second, ten-second, or even ten-minute exposure. Without a tripod, you’re bound to end up with a blurry shot, no matter the power of your camera’s in-body image stabilization.

So don’t risk missing out. Invest in a quality tripod, one that can withstand significant wind (especially if you shoot near the coast), and it’ll pay you back for years.

At this point in the long exposure shooting process, you’ll want to mount your camera on the tripod, then set up any relevant accessories, such as your filter holder (if you plan to use drop-in filters), and your remote shutter release (if you plan to use one, though you can also get away with a remote shooting app on your phone or your camera’s self-timer).

Note: While you’ll need to install the filter holder on the front of your lens, wait to actually add the filter. This is very important!

Step 4: Compose the image and lock focus

Refine your composition, then set your focus.

In general, you’ll want to keep the entire shot sharp from foreground to background, so focus at the hyperfocal distance (about a third of the way into the scene). If you’re struggling to determine where to focus, try using a depth of field calculator such as PhotoPills.

If you are using manual focus, go ahead and set the lens’s focus ring exactly where you want it. If you are using autofocus, position your active autofocus point over your main subject, half-press the shutter button to engage the focus, then toggle your lens from Autofocus to Manual. That way, the focus will remain locked, even if you accidentally press the shutter button again.

Step 5: Set the exposure

Now it’s time to choose your essential camera settings. First, set your camera to Manual (M) mode or Aperture Priority (A/Av) mode and your ISO to your camera’s lowest native value (probably ISO 50, ISO 100, or ISO 200).

Then set the aperture to an appropriate value for the scene (for landscapes, I suggest between f/8 and f/11), pick the shutter speed based on your camera’s recommendation, and take a test shot.

Check your histogram to determine whether you’ve nailed the exposure (do not trust your display; it is too bright!). The test is complete when you get a correct exposure, so adjust your shutter speed or exposure compensation, then keep shooting until you get the result you want.

(Side note: It’s true that there is no universally correct result on the histogram, but there are histograms that are universally incorrect; namely, histograms skewed completely to the right or left side, indicating overexposure or underexposure, respectively.)

Once a test shot is successful, write down the shutter speed you used for that image, then move on to the next step.

Step 6: Add your filter

Now add your neutral density filter. If you’re shooting in near darkness and you don’t need an ultra-long exposure (e.g., you’re okay with an exposure in the five-second to thirty-second range), you can get away with shooting filterless, but for most long exposure shots, a filter is a good idea.

If your filter is very strong (10 stops, for example), you will not be able to see through the viewfinder or Live View. Do not worry, though – if you have followed the guide up to this point, you will notice that we have already made the composition and set the focus. You may be shooting blind, but all is prepared and your camera will see everything perfectly.

Step 7: Switch to Bulb mode

Bulb mode allows you to discard your camera’s thirty-second shutter speed limit, so if your camera has this option, I recommend using it. If your camera doesn’t have Bulb mode, or if your filter isn’t especially dark and/or you’re shooting in strong light, you may not need to make this change.

Step 8: Calculate the right shutter speed and take your long exposure shot

You’re almost there; how are you holding up? In this step, all you need to do is determine the perfect shutter speed, which requires a simple calculation.

Remember the shutter speed that you noted down from the test shot you took during Step 5? Now you must adjust the shutter speed to compensate for the number of stops introduced by the filter.

For example, if your test shot was 1/15s and you’re using a 10-stop filter, you’ll need to decrease the shutter speed by 10 stops, for a shutter speed of approximately 60 seconds.

(If you’re not using a filter, then you’ll decrease your shutter speed by zero stops.)

Also, don’t let the mathematics intimidate you. On the internet, you can easily find conversion tables and apps for your smartphone that will do the conversion in moments.

Finally, take your photo!

Step 9: Check the histogram again

Once you’ve taken the shot, check the histogram as a final precaution.

If the new histogram is approximately equal to the histogram of the test shot, you’ve accomplished your mission (feel proud!). But if the new histogram is shifted too far to the right or the left, repeat the shot again, but adjust the shutter speed accordingly.

Long exposure photography: final words

Well, there you have it: a simple guide to long exposure photography.

Easy, isn’t it? Now fill your backpack with your camera and filters and go practice in the field!

Long exposure FAQs When should you do long exposure photography?

You can do long exposure photography at any time provided you have the right equipment. I recommend starting out with long exposure photography in the very early morning or the very late evening; that way, you’ll be able to see what you’re photographing, but the limited light will allow for impressively long exposures. Generally speaking, the easiest time to do long exposure photography is any moment when the light is limited.

Can you take long exposure photos in daylight?

Yes! However, you’ll need a neutral density filter. Otherwise, your long exposure images will turn out too bright.

Why are my long exposure shots white?

If your long exposure photos are white, then you’re overexposing your images. You’ll need to increase the shutter speed, narrow the aperture, or drop the ISO to compensate for this issue.

What is meant by “long exposure” in photography?

Long exposure refers to a technique where you keep the shutter open for an unusually long period of time. So instead of capturing an image in a split second, you trigger the shutter button and wait – often for minutes or even hours – until the exposure is finished!

The post Long Exposure Photography: A Step-by-Step Guide appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Francesco Gola.

Male Poses: 21 Sample Poses to Get You Started Photographing Men

Sat, 08/14/2021 - 06:00

The post Male Poses: 21 Sample Poses to Get You Started Photographing Men appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Guest Contributor.

Want some male posing ideas to help your portraits consistently shine?

In this article, we share 21 male poses, ranging from simple, beginner-focused ideas to complex options for experienced photographers. We also include a mix of styles, including corporate, informal, fashion, and more – so no matter your preferred genre of photography, you’re bound to find a pose or two that works!

Let’s dive right in.

1. Upper body with crossed arms

Let’s start with a very simple male pose:

Ask your subject to stand up straight, cross their arms, turn one shoulder slightly away, bring their chin toward the camera, and smile.

It works for plenty of portrait styles: informal (e.g., family portraits or senior portraits), business portraits, and even fashion shots.

Two things to watch: The shoulders should be pulled back a little, and the stomach muscles should be kept in check.

2. Full body with crossed arms

Crossed arms work in full height shots, as well.

So use the same posing guidelines as above, then ask your subject to cross one leg in front of the other. But make sure the body weight is not supported equally on both legs; that will look awkward!

This pose is especially nice for informal photoshoots, such as a family portrait session.

3. One hand on a hip

A recurring question from your subject might be, “Where should I put my hands?”

But while hands are often a point of confusion and awkwardness, the solution is actually quite simple. There are four places a subject can position their hands, and they can be mixed and matched in any combination:

  1. Loosely by the side
  2. On the hips
  3. In the pockets
  4. Crossed on the chest

Note that hands should always be relaxed, which means no muscle pressure (unless you’re photographing a bodybuilder!)

For this pose, the man should put one hand on his hip, stand square to the camera, and let the other hand dangle loosely – though feel free to experiment with different hand positions, too!

4. Full body with hands in the pockets

Here’s another casual pose for a man standing upright.

Ask your subject to square his body to the camera, with his weight equally distributed on both legs and his nose pointed at the lens. In general, I recommend that the hands go in the pockets, thumbs out; this is a surefire way to achieve a natural and relaxed pose.

5. Clothes over the shoulder

This pose is a bit edgier and fashion-conscious. It can work for corporate or fashion shots but should be avoided during family and senior portraits.

Ask your subject to cross one leg over the other, look at the camera, hook a thumb in their pocket, and throw an item of clothing – such as a suit jacket – over their shoulder. The more casual and relaxed they look, the better!

6. Sitting with one ankle on the knee

Sitting poses tend to be pretty casual, and this one is no exception. Provide your subject with a block or a chair, then ask them to cross their arms and lift one ankle over their knee.

For the best results, shoot slightly from above.

7. Leaning back against the wall

This is one of my favorite upright poses, simply because it’s ultra-easy and looks really great.

Just have your model put their back to a wall and casually recline. Their hands can go in their pockets, and – for a bit of additional flair – ask them to put one foot against the wall (while the other stays flat against the floor).

8. Leaning sideways against the wall

This is a variation on the above pose. Simply ask your model to turn so one shoulder presses against the wall, then encourage them to cross their legs.

While you can certainly use a hands-in-the-pockets look, try asking your subject to cross their arms instead. Crossed arms are more formal and work well for business portraits.

9. Upper body with an item in the hand

This one’s a very simple pose for a business portrait. Ask your subject to face the camera with one hand in their pocket and the other dangling freely, an item held in the hand (e.g., a laptop, a book, or even a tool).

(If possible, ensure that the items are clear indicators of the subject’s occupation.)

10. Sitting on a desk

Here, you’ll need a relatively sturdy desk. Ask your subject to sit firmly on the edge; you’ll get a very relaxed, yet professional, result. You can experiment with different hand positions, but hands in the pockets or resting on top of the legs works great.

11. Sitting at a desk

Here’s another simple male pose for a business portrait: A man sitting at a desk.

Ask your subject to sit forward slightly, with his chin resting on his hand. The other arm can sit on the desk surface.

To reveal the subject’s profession, place work-related items around his arms, such as books, charts, or tools.

12. Sitting at a desk, one arm up

This is another business-style portrait, but with a little extra flair. Ask your subject to sit at a desk and lean forward slightly – but one arm should come across the desk in a V-shape, while the other should fade back.

When done properly, your subject’s shoulder should tilt toward the camera, and their nose should follow.

13. Turned in a chair (away from a desk)

To show the work environment while removing the distance created by a foreground desk, flip the shot around. Ask your subject to sit in their desk chair, but spin around so that they face the camera.

One hand can go on the desk, while the other arm can dangle off the chair. The result?

Formal and inviting.

14. Arms crossed on a desk

Continuing with the desk theme, this composition puts the desk off to the side, with your subject leaning forward, arms crossed on the desk surface.

Ask your subject to tilt one shoulder toward the camera, while pointing their nose at the lens. Again, you could place work-related items on the desk to hint at the subject’s profession.

15. Standing next to a chair

Chairs are great props, and they can easily make a portrait both engaging and interesting. So ask your subject to stand upright with their legs crossed. Add in the chair, then encourage them to place one hand on its back, the other in their pocket.

Professional looking? Yes. But also fun, eye-catching, and a little bit suave.

16. Relaxed in a chair

If you’re taking corporate portraits and your subject is struggling to get comfortable in front of the lens, why not make them comfortable – literally?

Just ask them to sit in their chair, lean back, smile, and cross one leg. Later, you can move on to more complex poses, but you’re bound to get a good shot or two out of this simple idea!

17. Sitting on the ground

For business-style portraits, this type of pose is best avoided. But if you’re doing family photo sessions, senior portraits, or another type of informal shot, you’ll love the casual, relaxed images you can capture.

Simply ask your subject to sit on the ground, one arm holding them up from behind and the other dangling over the knee. You might also try a leg cross (as pictured below), as well as other shooting directions and angles.

18. Reclining on the ground

Here’s another variant of a man’s pose while sitting on the ground. Ask your subject to sit, then to lie back while supporting his weight with one arm.

Unlike the male pose displayed above, the subject’s second arm should dangle behind. And make sure the upper arm is completely hidden – otherwise, the shot may turn out a tad awkward.

19. Sitting on the ground with arms over knees

This one’s an easy and relaxed pose for a sitting man. It works well for family portraits, senior photoshoots, and other informal purposes, though it’s best avoided for serious corporate photos.

Ask your subject to sit on the ground with one leg out (knee bent!) and the other leg tucked slightly under the opposite calve. Have them bend forward and rest their forearms on their knees.

20. Reclining against a wall

Here’s one final informal male posing idea, and while it may feel overly relaxed for certain situations (even senior portraits), it’s a great fit for more carefree subjects.

Ask your subject to sit on the ground, supporting their back against a wall, a rock, or even a tree. Encourage them to lean back in a resting pose and bring one leg back while leaving the other straight. You can experiment with different hand positions, though I’d recommend using the illustration as a starting point:

21. Close-up headshot

This is a male pose that never fails, no matter your intent. Corporate, senior portrait, website shot – the close-up headshot won’t let you down.

Ask your subject to sit forward and rest their elbows on a solid surface such as a desk. The hands should overlap loosely and rest comfortably next to your subject’s chin. Test out different head positions, though begin with a look straight toward the camera.

Oh, and one last tip: Never be afraid to crop around your model’s face!

Male posing ideas: final words

Hopefully, you now have a starting point for your male poses! Remember that there are no absolutes; each sample pose might and should be adjusted depending on your shooting environment and scenario. There is no need to overdo anything.

In reality, all you need for good people portraits is simplicity:

Simple backgrounds, simple clothing, simple poses, and natural expressions.

Kaspars Grinvalds is a photographer working and living in Riga, Latvia. He is the author of Posing App, where more poses and tips about people photography are available.

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Reclining on the ground"},{"id":"sitting-on-the-ground-with-arms-over-knees","permalink":"https:\/\/digital-photography-school.com\/21-sample-poses-to-get-you-started-with-photographing-men\/","title":"19. Sitting on the ground with arms over knees"},{"id":"reclining-against-a-wall","permalink":"https:\/\/digital-photography-school.com\/21-sample-poses-to-get-you-started-with-photographing-men\/","title":"20. Reclining against a wall"},{"id":"close-up-headshot","permalink":"https:\/\/digital-photography-school.com\/21-sample-poses-to-get-you-started-with-photographing-men\/","title":"21. Close-up headshot"},{"id":"male-posing-ideas-final-words","permalink":"https:\/\/digital-photography-school.com\/21-sample-poses-to-get-you-started-with-photographing-men\/","title":"Male posing ideas: final words"},{"id":"upper-body-with-crossed-arms","permalink":"https:\/\/digital-photography-school.com\/21-sample-poses-to-get-you-started-with-photographing-men\/","title":"1. 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Close-up headshot"},{"id":"male-posing-ideas-final-words","permalink":"https:\/\/digital-photography-school.com\/21-sample-poses-to-get-you-started-with-photographing-men\/","title":"Male posing ideas: final words"}] };

The post Male Poses: 21 Sample Poses to Get You Started Photographing Men appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Guest Contributor.

dPS Weekly Photography Challenge : Blue Hour

Fri, 08/13/2021 - 16:00

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

Our weekly photography challenge this week is ‘Blue Hour’ if you’re unfamiliar with the term, here’s a great what & how from Nisha – 3 Practical Tips to Improve your Blue Hour Photography.

Make sure you catch up with all of our previous challenges – you can find them here.

Photo – Nisha Ramroop

“Also known as twilight, Blue Hour refers to that time of the day just before or after the Golden Hour. Depending on your location, it may be shorter (or longer) than an hour but happens before sunrise or after sunset”

Photo – Nisha Ramroop

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

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

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

Nikon Z9 Rumors: 45 MP, “Stunning” Autofocus, and a 2021 Release

Fri, 08/13/2021 - 06:00

The post Nikon Z9 Rumors: 45 MP, “Stunning” Autofocus, and a 2021 Release appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

The Nikon Z9, Nikon’s not-yet-debuted flagship mirrorless camera, will offer a host of powerful features, according to the often-reliable Nikon Rumors.

While Nikon itself has previously revealed several promising Z9 specifications, including 8K video, a stacked CMOS sensor, and a new processor, the company has stopped short of providing a detailed feature set.

Enter Nikon Rumors, a website that has revealed several lists of rumored Z9 features over the last year – the most recent of which painted a relatively full picture of the camera that will soon take its place at the top of the Nikon mirrorless ladder.

First, NR revealed a “confirmed” resolution for the Z9: 45 megapixels, on par with both the Nikon D850 and the Z7/Z7 II, as well as the Canon EOS R5. This should provide plenty of pixels for cropping sports (and wildlife) photos, and will also satisfy resolution-hungry landscape photographers who require 30+ megapixels for large prints.

Previously, the Z9 was rumored to feature a 30 frames-per-second continuous shooting mode. Fresh information, however, suggests 120 frames-per-second shooting “in a lower res file size” – a speed far beyond anything Nikon (or any major camera company) has offered thus far.

But for action photographers, speed is only half the story; without top-notch autofocus, any camera will fall short, no matter its continuous shooting. Fortunately, the Nikon Z9 is poised to overtake even the D6, Nikon’s current flagship DSLR, in autofocus capabilities. According to Nikon Rumors, the Z9 packs “‘stunning’ AF tracking (better than the D6),” including “car autofocus, in addition to animal and people AF.”

Ergonomics will also be exceptional. NR promises a slew of “new menu features to tweak and match your shooting style,” along with an “improved articulated screen that even works in portrait mode.” There will be a D6-style integrated vertical grip, dual card slots, and a 5.76M-dot (or more) electronic viewfinder.

In other words: This is a no-holds-barred camera from Nikon, one that combines the latest and greatest mirrorless technology with the ruggedness and reliability of a flagship DSLR.

Of course, a top-notch camera like the Z9 will undoubtedly come with an exorbitant price tag (Nikon Rumors suggests $6000+ USD). But for those who can afford it, the Z9 may soon be the most powerful camera on the mirrorless market.

What about the Z9 release date?

Rumors suggest a September or October announcement (which is generally followed by product shipping within a few weeks). NR is cautious, however, noting that, “because of part shortage, the waiting time for the Z9 is expected to be very long.”

Regardless, the Z9 should be available for purchase before the end of 2021 – so if you’re in need of a best-in-class action camera, keep an eye out!

Now over to you:

What do you think of these Nikon Z9 rumors? Do you plan to buy the Z9? Are there any specific features you’d like to see? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

The post Nikon Z9 Rumors: 45 MP, “Stunning” Autofocus, and a 2021 Release appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

12 Steps to Successfully Promote Your Photography on Instagram

Thu, 08/12/2021 - 06:00

The post 12 Steps to Successfully Promote Your Photography on Instagram appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Robin Ryan.

Instagram is an excellent way to attract attention, gain followers, engage with likeminded folks, and even improve your photography, but it’s all easier said than done, right? Plenty of photographers post on Instagram and get nothing out of it – no followers, likes, or even views.

So how do you use Instagram the right way? How can you promote your photography on instagram and come away with likes, followers, and comments galore, not to mention a great community?

In this article, I’m going to share my personal secrets for Instagram success. Specifically, I’ll offer techniques to get better exposure for your photography, build a community, and grow as a photographer through Instagram. I assure you, I know what I’m talking about; my personal Instagram account has 15,000 followers (and counting). So you know this advice works.

Let’s get started.

1. Only show your best work

What’s the difference between a good artist and a great artist?

Great artists only show their best work. While nobody is expecting you to rival National Geographic photographers right away, you should pay close attention to what you’re sharing. It only takes one bad photo for people to lose interest in your photography.

In short, if a photo doesn’t make you say “Oh, yeah!” when you see it, don’t post it.

Also, don’t post too often. Unless you have a really good reason for spamming your follower’s feeds, don’t do it. I recommend sharing one or two images a week – it’ll keep people interested without getting annoying. So post the great stuff, and leave out the bad, the mediocre, and even the good.

2. Find your niche

This is key to defining your brand and to your growth as a photographer. It’s about determining what makes you different from everyone else and about using that difference to create something unique and interesting.

The amazing thing about Instagram is that it’s composed of people across the world, each of whom have a different interest. I’ve seen fantastic accounts focused on street food in Vietnam, rock climbing in Utah, and architecture in Turkey.

But despite these differences, the best accounts all have one thing in common: a focus around a central theme. And it’s this theme that captures their audience’s attention (and keeps it).

Exploring the ancient #forests of Vancouver island, @kaitross and I found that even these giants succumb to time and the winds.

Don’t forget: the only person who should define your niche is you. Do you love paper maché and dinosaurs? Then become the best photographer making seaside portraits of paper maché Velociraptors.

I love to travel and explore nature, so my account reflects that and only that. You won’t find photos of my food or my family. If you want to share snapshots from your daily life, get a private account for your friends and your family to follow, because they’re the only ones who (might) want to see that stuff.

3. Use a dedicated camera, not just your smartphone

Your shiny new smartphone may take gorgeous snapshots, but constantly relying on a smartphone is like trying to perform a piano recital on a kid’s electronic keyboard.

Yes, smartphone cameras have come a long way in recent years, and yes, there are plenty of outstanding smartphone photographers out there. But unless you’re an experienced photographer with a lot of compositional and lighting knowledge, I highly recommend getting a “real” camera, such as a DSLR or mirrorless model.

Why? For one, it’ll force you to learn key photographic skills, such as exposure, depth of field manipulation, and proper handholding technique. Plus, it’ll give you additional focal lengths to play with, so you can shoot birds in the distance, sweeping landscapes, stunning close-up shots, and more.

4. Take the editing process seriously

Instagram may lend itself to a snap-and-post style of photography, but producing excellent photographs doesn’t work that way. Great photographs aren’t taken – they’re created.

This means shooting in RAW, then working in your favorite image editing program (I recommend Adobe Lightroom). Learn how to manipulate light, shadow, and clarity until your final product is something you can be proud of. The Instagram app just isn’t built for this level of sophistication, so ditch all those cheesy filters and effects and do your work on the computer.

5. Share a story with your photo

Great photography leaves an impression. So do well-written stories. But when you combine strong images with powerful words, you’ll evoke an emotional response in your viewer and help them connect with your work.

It wasn’t until I realized this and started sharing the story behind my photos that my account started getting real interaction – people writing about how the image or words affected them and their own experiences.

Nobody expects the next Hemingway to come out of Instagram, but some carefully chosen words in a thought-provoking caption will do wonders for connecting you to your fans.

After the frenzied atmosphere of Shanghai’s urban jungle, the fresh air of Huangshan’s Yellow Mountains was exhilarating. Still in the low season, March snow clung to the boughs of trees while distant clouds made it feel like the horizon could go forever. One of China’s better-developed tourist attractions, Huangshan has a long history: first recognized in 747 AD, it was said to be the place from which the Yellow Emperor ascended to heaven. This year, over 1.5 million visitors (mostly Chinese) will wander its paths. I caught it on a quiet day, and these peaceful memories linger with me still.

6. Ask questions in your captions

What’s the difference between a story and a question?

A story builds an emotional connection between the viewer and the image; a question builds a personal connection between your viewer and you.

So tell stories, but ask questions, too. Your questions should be open ended and create a space for your fans to contribute some of their own stories to the community. Remember that many Instagram users are new to digital photography and are looking for people to connect with. By asking questions, you can encourage them to engage with the community (you might even make friends along the way!).

7. Use hashtags effectively

I never understood the value of effective hashtagging until I started weaving them into my posts. You should be hashtagging important nouns and verbs – stuff people will be searching for.

And get specific, too. The difference between #fishing and #instagood is huge for obvious reasons: people who might be interested in your photo are much more likely to be searching for their favorite hobby than some meaningless, catch-all term. So don’t add a bunch of generic hashtags that say nothing about your work. Instead, use descriptive hashtags that target certain users.

Speaking of hashtagging, do a bit of digging to find effective hashtags you might be missing. It wasn’t until I came across the hashtag #explorebc that I began connecting with a ton of great local photographers who eventually featured my work on their account (resulting in a huge boost of exposure for my photos!).

8. Post in the morning

The morning is when most Instagram users check their feed, so keep this in mind and set your posting schedule accordingly. I live on the West Coast of North America, so if I post at 8 AM, I’m already late for my East Coast followers. Aim to get your posts out early in the day for the time zone you’re targeting (of course, if your followers are worldwide, this is less useful).

Is there a best day of the week to post? Studies show that Sundays have the greatest number of interactions, which makes sense given that many users spend Sunday relaxing at home. Otherwise, stick to weekday mornings.

9. Build a community

Build a community by actively finding photographers you respect and developing relationships with them. I won’t lie – this is a long process, but it’s necessary and worthwhile.

It’s also pretty simple: Just find a hashtag that speaks to you and your work, then check it whenever you can to see who’s posting. When you find photography you like, leave a thoughtful compliment and follow the user. Chances are, if they like what you’re posting, they’ll check out your account and reciprocate.

Whatever you do, when commenting, don’t ask people to check out your account or follow you back. It’s tacky and makes you look desperate. Instead, be thoughtful, complimentary, and ask for nothing in return.

10. Cultivate champions

champion is someone who genuinely engages with your work. They comment frequently, and their comments are thoughtful – not just “Nice” or “Love it,” but lengthier, meaningful content explaining what they like about the posted image.

Champions are great for both your community and your popularity, but how do you get them? What makes champions comment on your photos?

Here’s the best way to draw in champions:

Foster relationships with other users.

Of course, this is easier said than done. But if users are leaving you thoughtful comments, return the favor and respond with something more meaningful than “Thanks!” If someone cares enough about your work to awkwardly type out praise on their smartphone, they’re worth their weight in followers. These are the people who are going to follow along through your adventures and refer their friends and followers. Do enough relationship building, and these delightful unicorns will be out there promoting your work for you.

11. Bring others into the conversation

Bring others into the conversation by photographing with them or referencing them in your posts. Two amazing women from Vancouver kicked off @localwanderer several years ago, in which they document their travels around North America and feature the hidden gems in communities.

Where the @localwanderer creators really excel (in addition to their photography and writing) is in their ability to constantly bring local shops, restaurants, and people into the discussion. By doing this, @localwanderer introduces its community to someone new, who in turn will introduce their community to @localwanderer.

So think about who or what you can reference on your account. If you’re a nature photographer, you might try tagging local parks; if you’re an architectural photographer, you might try tagging the owners of local buildings/businesses. The specifics will depend on the photography you do, but as long as you’re creative and you persevere, you’re bound to make some valuable connections.

12. Don’t confuse followers with community

I’d rather have 100 fans who interact with my work than 1,000 followers who never like and comment. Your goal shouldn’t be about quantity of followers – instead, it should be about the quality of your community.

Speaking of numbers, don’t be afraid to clean up (and block) followers, especially those who are clearly inactive or fake. The last thing you need is a bunch of zombie accounts clogging up your Instagram. Also, one danger of having many inactive followers is that your account is less likely to be recommended to other users of Instagram.

How to promote your photography on Instagram: final words

There you have it: 12 tips for success on Instagram. As long as you follow these tips, your account will grow and your engagement will skyrocket.

Now over to you:

What are your tips for promoting photography on Instagram? Do you have any success (or failure) stories you’d like to share? Let’s hear them in the comments section below!

The post 12 Steps to Successfully Promote Your Photography on Instagram appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Robin Ryan.

The 12 Best Camera Apps in 2021 (Free and Paid)

Wed, 08/11/2021 - 06:00

The post The 12 Best Camera Apps in 2021 (Free and Paid) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Megan Kennedy.

These days, there are dozens of camera apps available, and it can be hard to select the perfect option for your photography. And although smartphone native camera apps are pretty decent nowadays, it’s always handy to have an dedicated app to expand your phone photography capabilities.

In this article, we’ll have a look at the best camera apps available for smartphones, including Android and iOS options (both free and paid).

So if you’re ready to find an outstanding app to take smartphone photos, then let’s get started.

1. Adobe Photoshop Camera (iOS and Android)

Price: Free, with in-app purchases

First up on our list of best camera apps is Adobe Photoshop Camera. While it doesn’t offer a lot of the manual settings that other camera apps possess, the Photoshop Camera app does feature a solid range of intelligent live camera filters (called Lenses) to apply to a scene. Once a Lens is selected, the AI-powered app implements the selection in real time to create beautiful effects.

The many free Lenses – along with the editing capabilities – available in Adobe Photoshop Camera offer a responsive phoneography experience, expanding your creative potential with intriguing effects like Rainy Window, Cyanotype (see the photo above), Vintage, Double Exposure, Blue Skies, Pop Color, Monochrome, and more.

If you’re looking for a fun and engaging way to experiment with phoneography effects, Adobe Photoshop Camera is worth the download.

2. Open Camera (Android)

Price: Free

Open Camera is one of the most versatile camera app options available for Android, and it’s a great open-source alternative to the built-in Android camera app. Completely free, Open Camera features a wealth of features for phoneography work.

First, Open Camera offers the core functions that many other dedicated camera apps provide. ISO, exposure, focus adjustments, white balance – it’s all there. But Open Camera also offers a plethora of other functions and customizable features, including RAW functionality, face detection, a ghost image function (which uses an image overlay to aid in alignment), burst mode, noise reduction, exposure and focus bracketing, and more.

Plus, you get an on-screen histogram, numerous grids and guides, a panorama function for both the front and back cameras, focus peaking, zebra stripes, and even the option to trigger the camera remotely by making a noise. While the interface may not be as smooth as some other photography apps, Open Camera also has a customizable GUI that enables or hides different features as per the user’s requirements.

3. Camera+ 2 (iOS)

Price: $7.99 USD

Camera+ 2 is an improved version of its popular predecessor, Camera+, and both have a reputation as two of the best iPhone camera apps on the market today. With features like exposure, ISO, and white balance adjustments, along with an image stabilizer, focus lock, and RAW shooting and editing, Camera+ 2 is a great app to have on hand for iOS phone photography.

Camera+ 2 also features a clipping indicator, focus peaking, hands-free control with Siri shortcuts and Apple Watch remote trigger compatibility, and smile detection. An improved long exposure functionality enables exposures of up to 30 seconds and even displays a preview of the scene as the exposure is captured.

In addition, a Monuments mode utilizes AI technology to track objects moving through a series of frames and erases them from the final image. If you’re trying to capture an image free of moving vehicles or people, Monuments mode may make all the difference.

4. Darkr (iOS)

Price: Free, with in-app purchases

Ever wished you could cram a darkroom-like process into your iPhone? Darkr is an app that allows iOS users to capture and edit images exclusively in black and white, while using simulated film cameras and a darkroom-inspired process.

The Darkr app has a number of intriguing features; first, basic JPEG shooting is performed with a fixed 35mm camera interface (though you can also import existing shots from your camera roll). And there are two other camera simulations (medium and large format) available for purchase.

Darkr offers a distinctive editing format, too. In Darkroom mode, the app renders images as negatives. Then, once a negative is chosen, the user is presented with a simulated test strip interface to select a desired exposure. You have the option to dodge and burn, while selecting various film types, editing layers, and applying tones are all available with in-app purchases.

5. Adobe Lightroom (iOS and Android)

Price: Free, with in-app purchases

Marketed as a powerful post-production tool, the Adobe Lightroom mobile app is an expansive editing application that comes with a handy camera function. While the base app is free, you will need an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription to unlock several key features – including selective adjustments, a healing brush, a geometry tool, batch editing, and RAW support.

The camera itself is paired with several filters that are applied in real time. Among these are two black and white offerings – flat and high contrast – which can be useful if you’re looking to take beautiful monochrome photos.

Lightroom also comes with a community full of photographers keen to share their work and gain inspiration from each other. And although the Lightroom camera isn’t as flexible as other options on this list, a simple design, RAW shooting, and extensive in-app editing capabilities make for a simple and effective phoneography tool.

6. KD PRO Disposable Camera (iOS and Android)

Price: Free, with in-app purchases

KD PRO Disposable Camera is a nifty little camera app designed to imitate a classic disposable camera. Available for both Android and iOS devices, the app is a fun take on retro photography. With several filter themes, a self-timer, sound effects, a frame counter, optional light leaks, and customizable time stamps, KD PRO makes for whimsical phoneography with a hint of nostalgia.

Paid features include the ability to import images, view original photos, and customize camera color. Plus, for that authentic disposable camera experience, you can even increase the “film development time” to up to three days.

7. RAW+ (iOS)

Price: First 100 shots free, plus in-app purchases

Describing itself as a “minimalist camera for purists and professionals,” RAW+ is a camera app with an emphasis on hands-on experience. With responsive functionality, a balanced amount of free screen space, large sliders, and a simple aesthetic, RAW+ comes to life when used in landscape orientation, which neatly divides the manual controls for greater ergonomic control.

RAW+ offers full manual exposure, manual focus override, white balance presets, an RGB histogram, plus highlight and shadow clipping warnings. The app also supports RAW shooting as well as ProRAW, an Apple file format that combines the information of a standard RAW file with iOS image processing for extra creative control and flexibility.

8. Halide Mark II (iOS)

Price: 1 week free trial, then $11.99 USD per year or a one-time fee of $36.00 USD

Known for its simple yet professional interface, Halide Mark II shares many of the integral features of its predecessor. With gesture functionality, responsivity, and full manual control (divided into small increments for precise adjustments), the app is designed for a fluid user experience.

Features in Halide Mark II include manual exposure controls, focus peaking, color zebras, Depth mode, machine-learning assisted RAW and ProRAW shooting, an extended dynamic range (XDR), a focus loupe feature, and real-time 14-bit RAW visualization for accurate rendering of tonal information.

The app also has a privacy feature, which can remove embedded location data when the image is shared to any Facebook-owned app.

9. Manual Camera (Android)

Price: In-app purchases (Lite); $4.99 USD (Pro)

Manual Camera has a significant range of functions and features within a user-friendly interface. Adjustments for exposure, white balance, focus, ISO, and more are all available. Face detection, scene modes, focus assist, RAW shooting, touch to capture, and geotagging are a few other features Manual Camera offers.

There are two versions of the Manual Camera app for Android phoneography – Manual Camera DSLR Pro and Manual Camera DSLR Lite. Lite is free and gives a user access to numerous features. However, there are some limits to the Lite version, including an 8 MP resolution cap and a five-minute video recording restriction.

10. Pro Camera by Moment (iOS)

Price: $8.99 USD, plus in-app purchases

Pro Camera by Moment is a multifunctional app that has gained a reputation as one of the best camera apps available on iOS. Pro Camera comes equipped with all the tools you’d want from an advanced camera app: an intuitive screen layout, along with plenty of different settings, adjustments, and customizations. Full manual controls, a live histogram, lens support, bracketing, split exposure and focus, TIFF and RAW shooting (including in burst mode), focus peaking, and zebra stripes; it’s all available in the Pro Camera app.

You will need to pay up front to gain access to the app, and you can buy additional features such as a time-lapse mode and a powerful slow shutter mode.

Note that the slow shutter mode has two options: motion blur and light trails. Motion blur facilitates fluid renderings of a moving scene for any length of time. While the long exposure is being made, a live rendering unfolds on the screen. That way, if you like the image before the exposure has finished, you can simply tap the shutter button to complete the shot.

If you are finding that other apps lag in terms of long-exposure capability, Pro Camera by Moment is a great choice.

11. Footej Camera 2 (Android)

Price: Free, with in-app purchases

Simple and easy to use, Footej Camera 2 has a range of features, including full manual control, burst mode, panorama mode, time-lapse, HDR+ (for Pixel 2 phones), and RAW shooting. Footej also includes an automated GIF function, which takes a burst of images and compiles them into a GIF.

While the Footej Camera 2 base app comes with plenty of functions, a paid upgrade to the Footej Camera 2 Premium package will boost the maximum shots in a burst (limited to 20 in the free version) and improve JPEG and GIF quality. The Premium package also adds a histogram and lowers the burst interval to below 500 ms.

12. ProCam 8 (iOS)

Price: $7.99 USD

Arranged in a simple and accessible layout with a responsive scroll and stepper adjustment system, ProCam 8 and its predecessors were reportedly inspired by DSLR cameras themselves. With manual camera basics (shutter speed, ISO, focus, and white balance controls), plus manual focus assist, focus peaking, and zebra stripes all supported across each photo and video mode, ProCam 8 is a comprehensive app for iOS photographers.

In addition, RAW shooting, TIFF file format support, 3-shot HDR, auto exposure bracketing, a live light-level histogram, adjustable aspect ratios, and still photo capture during video recording all contribute to an app that helps make the most of iOS phone camera technology.

Shooting modes include burst mode, slow shutter, portrait mode, and time-lapse. For phones equipped with two or more cameras, ProCam 8 has a 3D Photo mode or “Wigglegram,” which creates animated images that simulate a 3D effect.

A focus loupe allows for a magnified preview of the scene, and extensive editing functions enable further enhancement during post production. Additionally, the Photo Editing Extension offers non-destructive editing, 60 filters, 17 lens effects, 19 extra adjustment tools, and batch photo actions. ProCam 8 is an app packed with functionality – so if you’re serious about iPhoneography and want to take your work to the next level, it’s a great pick.

The best camera apps in 2021: conclusion

So there you have it: 12 of the best camera apps available for iOS and Android photographers.

There is an abundance of helpful phone camera apps available – so many that it’s almost impossible to review them all. Nevertheless, the apps listed here are all capable of expanding the creative potential of phoneography.

Now over to you:

Do you have a favorite smartphone camera app? Which of these apps do you plan to try? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

The post The 12 Best Camera Apps in 2021 (Free and Paid) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Megan Kennedy.

One-Shot vs AI-Servo: Which Autofocus Setting Should You Use?

Tue, 08/10/2021 - 06:00

The post One-Shot vs AI-Servo: Which Autofocus Setting Should You Use? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by James Brandon.

If you’re just getting familiar with your camera autofocus settings, you’ve likely encountered the big question:

Should you shoot with One-Shot AF? Or should you use AI-Servo AF? (Some cameras also offer a third option, called AI Focus, but it doesn’t work well and so I recommend you ignore it completely.)

Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer, because One-Shot and AI-Servo are both useful depending on the type of photos you shoot.

So in this article, I’ll explain everything you need to know about these two autofocus modes. And by the time you’re done, you’ll know which option is right for you and how you can use it for amazing images.

Let’s dive right in, starting with the basics:

What is One-Shot AF?

One-Shot AF is the most commonly used autofocus method and is likely the default setting on your camera. (Note: On many non-Canon cameras, it’s known as AF-S.)

When you half-press your shutter button, the camera sets focus once (hence the term “one-shot”) and holds that focus until the picture is taken.

As you can imagine, this is hugely helpful if you want to focus then recompose. You can focus on one subject, then maintain focus while adjusting your composition to include other elements. For instance, if you’re photographing a tree next to a fountain, you could set focus on the tree, then freely move your camera toward the fountain to create the best possible composition – while the focus stays locked on the tree.

On the other hand, One-Shot AF isn’t so great if you’re trying to track moving subjects. Lock focus on a biker riding toward you, and the focus will remain locked on the original spot, even as the biker zooms forward. Pretty soon, your subject will be out of focus, and you’ll be forced to lock focus again and again as the biker changes position.

For this photo of my week-old son, I used One-Shot AF. I half-pressed the shutter to focus on his body, then adjusted my composition while keeping the focus locked.

What is AI-Servo AF?

AI-Servo AF tracks moving subjects. You half-press the shutter button to tell your lens to start focusing – then, if the area under your point of focus changes, your lens refocuses continuously until you take the photo.

(On non-Canon cameras, this autofocus mode is often known as AF-C.)

AI-Servo is perfect for scenes with moving subjects. Bringing back the biker example from above, if you placed your AF point over the biker and half-pressed the shutter button as she rode forward, the autofocus would do its best to keep the biker in focus.

Unfortunately, AI-Servo isn’t flawless; sometimes, if your subject is moving quickly, the focus will lag behind and you’ll end up with slightly out-of-focus images. Or if your subject moves out from under your autofocus point (and you’re not using some form of broad AF tracking), the AF will focus on the background instead.

But AI-Servo is certainly better for moving subjects than One-Shot AF, which consistently focuses behind the subject.

Make sense?

For this shot of two Blue Angels taking off, I used AI-Servo; otherwise, I would’ve failed to track these two jets as they moved.

When should you use One-Shot AF?

One-Shot AF is the way to go when focusing on still subjects, such as landscapes, still lifes, some portraits (assuming your subject isn’t jumping around, running, or dancing), and flowers. Here’s a more complete list of genres that rely heavily on One-Shot autofocus:

  • Landscape photography
  • Architectural photography
  • Cityscape photography
  • Still life photography
  • Macro photography
  • Food photography

Of course, there will be times when you’ll want to switch over to AI-Servo AF – for instance, if your macro scene includes a fast-moving dragonfly – but for the most part, you can use this list to guide your decisions.

And here’s a list of genres that use One-Shot AF some of the time:

  • Portrait photography
  • Street photography

For portrait photography, you must consider the type of photos you’re taking. Will you be doing a fast-paced portrait session with a lot of movement? Or will your subject be sitting or standing in place? For still subjects, One-Shot AF is a good idea, but for moving subjects, go with AI-Servo.

As for street photography, some shooters use One-Shot AF to prefocus at specific points then wait until a subject walks into the scene. Other photographers use AI-Servo AF constantly and snap images as people move toward them. It all depends on your style!

When should you use AI-Servo AF?

Use AI-Servo AF whenever your subject is moving (especially if you’re working with a shallow depth of field).

So if you’re shooting sports players in action, birds in flight, or cars on the move, you should definitely use AI-Servo nearly all the time.

Here’s a list of photography genres that rely heavily on AI-Servo autofocus:

  • Bird photography
  • Wildlife photography
  • Sports photography
  • Car photography
  • Wedding/event photography
  • Underwater photography

If you’re photographing birds, for instance, unless you see an obvious reason to switch to One-Shot AF, I’d recommend you set your camera to AI-Servo AF and keep it there.

Which autofocus mode is best?

As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, such a question has no real answer. In some situations, One-Shot AF is the best option, but in other situations, you’ll want to use AI-Servo AF.

In fact, there are even times when manual focus is the better bet. If you’re doing high magnification macro photography or you’re shooting in the dark, your lens will likely fail to autofocus, so manual focus will be your only good option.

I do have a personal recommendation, though, and it’s what I use for most of my photos:

Use AI-Servo…

…but not with the normal half-press focusing method.

You see, most cameras let you set your focus via a button on the back of your camera, which gives rise to a technique called back-button focusing.

When used with AI-Servo AF, back-button focusing gives you the best of both worlds. Here’s how it works:

Start by programming a button on the back of your camera to autofocus when pressed (and make sure AI-Servo is activated). Then, when you hold down the special back button, your camera will focus continuously, just as if you half-pressed the shutter button.

When you let go of the back button, focusing will lock. You can recompose all you like, you can take shots with the shutter button, etc., without worrying about losing focus as you shift your AF point.

So if you have a biker riding toward you, simply keep the back AF button held down. Then, if the biker stops and you want to position them in the corner of the frame, you can let go of the back button and change your composition – while your focus remains locked in place.

Thanks to its versatility, I use back-button AF 90% of the time. It’ll save you plenty of headache trying to switch back and forth between AI-Servo AF and One-Shot AF!

One-Shot vs AI-Servo: final words

Hopefully, you now know whether to use One-Shot AF or AI-Servo (and you’ve hopefully also been inspired to try out back-button focus). Learn to master your camera’s autofocus capabilities, and you’ll be unstoppable!

Now over to you:

What do you think of these two focusing modes? Which do you plan to use in your photography? Do you think you’ll try back-button focusing? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

The post One-Shot vs AI-Servo: Which Autofocus Setting Should You Use? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by James Brandon.

Photo Contest Alert: Announcing a (Free!) Billboard Contest From Fine Art America

Mon, 08/09/2021 - 06:00

The post Photo Contest Alert: Announcing a (Free!) Billboard Contest From Fine Art America appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Have you ever dreamed of seeing your art displayed large – for everyone to admire?

Then you’ll love Fine Art America’s new Billboard Contest, which will award a giant billboard display to 20 artists. Win the contest, and your eye-catching work will be featured on a 24-foot billboard in a major city, such as Chicago, Atlanta, or Los Angeles, accompanied by a title plus your name or social media handle. 

Here’s the type of stunning showcase winners can expect:

Each billboard will stay up for a month, giving viewers plenty of time to appreciate the winning art.

How to take part

The contest is currently open and free to enter. Simply create a Fine Art America account and upload one to three files on the contest page. The contest closes on August 31st, and the winners will be announced on September 15th. 

Note that entry is not exclusive to photographers; Fine Art America accepts submissions from all 2D artists, including painters, graphic designers, and illustrators.

Vote, vote, vote: the selection process, explained

After you’ve submitted your entries, you can encourage family, friends, and followers to vote for your art on Fine Art America’s website. All entries receiving 100 votes will then proceed to the next round, where contest judges will choose the top 20 pieces for billboard display.

There are also a number of fun prizes and promotions along the way:

  • Get 25 votes, and you’ll receive a Pixels t-shirt
  • Get 100 votes, and your image will be featured on the Fine Art America Instagram account
  • Get 250 votes, and you’ll receive a free 24’’ x 36’’ canvas print of an image of your choosing

It all comes down to the voting – so as soon as you’ve uploaded your entries, head over to social media and drum up some interest!

By the way, if you’re looking for contest inspiration or you simply want to vote for your favorite art, you can see all current entries here. Click on each piece to view its vote count and register a vote of your own, and don’t forget to check out the top-voted artwork here (you’ll find plenty of stunning bird photos, landscapes shots, paintings, and more!). 

What is Fine Art America?

Billed as “the world’s largest online art marketplace,” the company’s website, fineartamerica.com, acts as a one-stop shop for photographers, painters, illustrators, graphic designers, and more – and it also welcomes non-artists who simply appreciate great art.

On the Fine Art America website, you can:

  • Order custom prints of your own art, including posters, metal prints, wood prints, canvas prints, printed t-shirts, and printed smartphone cases
  • Sell your art to interested buyers as prints, t-shirts, greeting cards, etc.
  • Buy beautiful art sold by artists around the world

The Fine Art America Billboard Contest is yet another example of the company’s dedication to artists. As explained by the CEO, Sean Broihier, “For 15+ years, we’ve been promoting our artists and their incredible artwork almost exclusively online. It’s time to showcase them in the real world. Our upcoming billboard campaign gives us an incredible opportunity to reach a new audience of art buyers, build brand awareness for Fine Art America, and introduce the incredibly talented artists who use Fine Art America to sell canvas prints, framed prints, greeting cards, and more.”

So take a look at Fine Art America – and in the meantime, be sure to enter the Billboard Contest. Remember: It’s open until August 31st and the entry process only takes a few minutes, so give it your best shot! 

Fine Art America is a paid partner of dPS.

The post Photo Contest Alert: Announcing a (Free!) Billboard Contest From Fine Art America appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Sunset Predictor: How to Predict Dramatic Sunsets Like a Pro

Sun, 08/08/2021 - 06:00

The post Sunset Predictor: How to Predict Dramatic Sunsets Like a Pro appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Bruce Wunderlich.

Did you know that it’s possible to predict – often hours in advance – the drama of the sunset? That way, you know whether it’s worth heading out to shoot, or if you’re better off staying indoors and relaxing on the couch.

As a longtime landscape photographer, I’ve become well-versed in sunset predictors. And in this article, I’m going to share everything I’ve learned over the years, focusing on:

  • cloud cover
  • air quality
  • humidity
  • wind

Bear in mind that you can never predict a sunset with absolute accuracy (to do that, you’d need to see the future!). But the prediction tools and techniques that I’m about to share will give you a strong sense of the coming sunset, even if they’re not perfect.

Let’s get started.

What causes sunset drama? Summer sunset over Marietta, Ohio.

To understand why dramatic sunsets occur, we’ll need to do a quick physics dive (it’s not hard, I promise!).

Light from the sun is made up of all the colors in the rainbow. As the sunlight enters the Earth’s atmosphere, blue light is scattered in all directions, more than any of the other colors; during the day, this causes the sky to appear blue.

But at sunrise and sunset, the light must travel farther due to the low angle of the sun in the sky (i.e., the light moves through more of the atmosphere). The blue light is scattered until it’s no longer visible, the longer wavelengths of red and yellow stay in the sky, and we (potentially) see a stunning sunset.

Of course, there are times when the sunset doesn’t look so great, but this isn’t because the physics fail – rather, it’s because the sunset is blocked by clouds or diminished by other factors. On the other hand, the sunset is occasionally above-and-beyond spectacular, and by understanding the different factors affecting sunset quality, you can predict a gorgeous sunset in advance (or whether the sunset will be a complete dud).

Factors affecting sunset quality: the four predictors Winter sunset after a snow storm.

Predicting a dramatic sunset is all about following the weather (and looking for the right indicators). So the first step, even before you learn about sunset predictors, is to find a good weather app or website.

Specifically, you need a weather forecast that provides information on the four sunset predictors: cloud cover, air quality, humidity, and wind speed. I recommend Intellicast, which gives you detailed hourly reports, though feel free to search around for other options.

Now let’s take a closer look at your key predictors:

1. Clouds and cloud cover

Clouds are a crucial factor for predicting dramatic sunsets.

Why? Well, without clouds, there won’t be much of a sunset to see. And with too many clouds, the sky will look dark and drab.

One common misconception is that clouds create sunset colors; in reality, clouds only serve as the canvas on which the beautiful colors are displayed. High to mid-level clouds are the most effective canvases, as they easily reflect the colors of the setting sun. Puffy clouds on the horizon at sunset will generally not allow the sun rays to pass through them, thus muting the sunset colors. Lower clouds (such as dark, rain-filled clouds) are not very helpful at reflecting much light and will therefore dull the sunset.

Bottom line: Cloud cover is good, but not too many or too few clouds. Check out your detailed weather report for cloud cover percentages and try to aim between 30 to 70 percent at sunset.

Ideally, you should observe cloud conditions in the afternoon. If the sky looks favorable, you can hope that the clouds will still be present at sunset. There’s never any guarantee, but without much wind, clouds may stick around and create a beautiful sunset.

Here are a few cloud types that can produce dramatic sunsets:

  • Cirrocumulus clouds, which look like ripples on water. Blue sky is the usual backdrop.
  • Altocumulus Clouds, which often occur in sheets or patches with wavy, rounded masses or rolls, like little cotton balls. They are generally white or gray and usually appear after a storm.
  • Cumulus Clouds, which are easily recognizable, large, white, and fluffy, often with flat bases.
  • Cirrus Clouds, which are generally characterized by thin, wispy strands. These clouds arrive in advance of frontal systems indicating that weather conditions may soon deteriorate. Nevertheless, cirrus clouds are some of the best for photographing dramatic sunsets!
If you see this kind of sky on an afternoon with calm winds, chances are good you’re in for something special at sunset. 2. Clean air

Clean air is very effective at scattering blue light – and as you now know, more blue light scattering equals a more magnificent red, orange, and yellow sunset.

For this reason, one of the best times for dramatic sunsets is right after a rainstorm or windstorm. While lower clouds rarely reflect brilliant colors, note that in places where the lower atmosphere is especially clean, such as in tropical regions over open oceans, more vivid colors are allowed to pass through.

It’s the reason so many beautiful sunset images are captured in the tropics.

3. Humidity

The amount of humidity in the air will also affect the colors of your sunset.

Lower humidity will produce more vibrant colors, whereas high humidity conditions will mute the colors thanks to the water content in the atmosphere.

(Note: Autumn and winter typically feature lower humidity than spring and summer, hence the reason for dramatic winter sunsets.)

So the morning before a possible sunset photoshoot, make a careful note of the humidity – the lower the percentage, the better!

4. Wind

Ah, wind, the most fickle of all sunset predictors. Wind can enhance a beautiful sunset – but it can also destroy it, depending on the time of day.

You see, a change in wind direction can cause the clouds to develop ripples or billows, and this can create a beautiful effect; the setting sun may reflect a nice red glow onto the ripples, which is all-around gorgeous.

Also, as discussed above, clean air will produce more brilliant colors. A nice breeze before sunset can help clean things up and create some magical results.

Unfortunately, on days when favorable clouds are present in the afternoon, strong winds can remove those clouds and leave you with a clear sky at sunset – not so great for photography.

So I highly recommend checking the weather on your preferred app or website. Keep an eye out for wind speed and wind direction, and think about how it might affect existing cloud cover.

Your sunset drama prediction factors, recapped

Predicting sunsets doesn’t have to be hard! Just keep an eye out for these key indicators:

  • Mid to high-level clouds
  • 30 to 70 percent cloud coverage
  • Clean air
  • Lower humidity
  • Calm winds (or a change in wind direction during sunset)

A final point to consider: sometimes the afterglow of the sunset, which can occur 15 to 20 minutes after the sun sinks below the horizon, can be much more spectacular than the actual sunset.

So stick around until after the main event, and you may be rewarded!

How to predict dramatic sunsets: final words

Now that you’ve finished this article, it’s time to start practicing! Look at your weather app, head outside, peek at the sky – and try to determine tonight’s sunset!

Now over to you:

Do you have any other tips for predicting dramatic sunsets? Share them in the comments below!

The post Sunset Predictor: How to Predict Dramatic Sunsets Like a Pro appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Bruce Wunderlich.

11 Tips for Stunning Candid Photography

Sat, 08/07/2021 - 06:00

The post 11 Tips for Stunning Candid Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Darren Rowse.

Candid photography is a great way to capture intimate, honest photos – the type of images that tell real stories about their subjects.

But how can you capture beautiful candid photos? How can you create candid shots that you can be proud of?

In this article, I share 11 tips to take your candid photos to the next level. Note that these tips are not about taking sneaky, voyeuristic, or true paparazzi shots. Instead, they’ll help you add an authentic, candid feel to photos you take of loved ones, portrait subjects, images at events, and more.

Let’s get started.

1. Take your camera everywhere

The best way to take spontaneous photos? Always have a camera! That way, when the moment presents itself, you can quickly flick the On button, snag a few shots, and (if all goes well!) get a great result.

When I’m on a shoot, I’ll use my DSLR – but when I’m between shoots, I carry a point-and-shoot camera. If I see a good opportunity, I’ll whip it out and capture the scene. Of course, you don’t need to head out and buy an expensive second body – these days, smartphone cameras are very high quality and more than adequate for most candid photography.

Also, taking a camera everywhere helps people become more comfortable with you taking their photo. I find that my friends and family just expect me to have my camera out, so when I do fire it up, it’s not a signal to pose, it’s just a normal part of our interaction. And when I do take an image or two, the subjects are relaxed and the photos look natural.

2. Use a long focal length

To capture candid photography without being noticed, try shooting with a long lens – a 135mm prime, an 18-200mm zoom, or a 70-200mm zoom, for instance. As you’ve probably already guessed, the farther you are from your subject, the less likely they are to know that you’re taking pictures, and the more natural and relaxed they’ll act.

Depending on the environment, though, a long lens can be pretty noticeable, and it may actually make people feel uncomfortable (like they’re being spied on). So choose your lens widely, and if you are concerned about people’s reactions, consider picking your most compact zoom.

That way, you can get your candid shots from outside people’s personal space, you can go unnoticed, and you can maintain a feeling of intimacy in your compositions.

3. Kill the flash

Perhaps the most obvious way you can signal to another person that you’re photographing them? Using a flash (especially the flash on the top of your camera!). After all, there’s nothing like a blinding flash of light to get people’s attention and kill a moment.

So if possible, keep your flash off for candid shots. When you’re shooting in low light, instead of using flash, try boosting your ISO, opening up your aperture, or dropping your shutter speed.

You’ll get a brighter exposure, and you’ll avoid making your subject uncomfortable.

4. Take a lot of shots

Back in the film days, it was important to conserve your photos. But if you use a digital camera (and I’m guessing you do!), there’s no real need to hold back; instead, be aggressive with your shooting. Don’t be afraid to take many images of the same subject.

In fact, I’ve found that, when shooting a burst of images of a person, I can sometimes get some surprising and spontaneous shots that I’d never have captured otherwise.

So switch your camera to its continuous shooting mode (i.e., burst mode), and fire off several shots at once. You’ll significantly increase your chances of capturing an unexpectedly perfect candid image.

5. Position yourself strategically

While candid photography is all about capturing the spontaneity of a moment and getting a perfect shot during that split second of time, if you think ahead and anticipate what is about to unfold, you can increase your chances of success.

So at a wedding, get to the church early (or even go to the rehearsal) and think about what will happen during the ceremony. Where should you stand to capture each moment? Which way will people be facing? What will they be doing? What will the light be like?

If you ask these questions in advance, you won’t waste time running around and repositioning yourself when the action happens. And you’ll be in the perfect spot to capture candid moments when they do occur.

6. Photograph people doing things

Personally, I find that images of people doing things are much more interesting than images of people sitting around doing nothing. And they tend to feature more natural compositions, too.

For one, your subject will be focused on something that adds energy to a photo. It also adds context and an element of story (and these elements takes their focus off you!).

Timing is everything in candid photography, so wait until your subject is fully focused on their activity. This will inject a feeling of authenticity into your shots, where your subject is unaware and the viewer can look on unseen.

Note that your subject doesn’t need to be doing something especially involved or complex – they might be dancing, talking, playing a game, etc.

7. Photograph people with people

When you photograph more than one person at a time, something very interesting happens:

You introduce a relationship into the photo. Even if the two (or more) people aren’t really interacting, you’ll still get increased depth and a sense of story.

Of course, the ideal candid compositions will have some interaction between your subjects, as that will add emotion to the shot – but even without interaction, you can still capture some stunning images.

8. Shoot from the hip

Here’s a quick tip for shooting unnoticed, courtesy of street photographers:

Choose a relatively wide lens, such as a 35mm.

Set your camera’s shutter to its quietest setting.

Position the camera down low, either at chest height or at your hip.

And then, when your subject moves into position, fire off a burst of shots without raising the camera to your eye.

This technique can be very hit or miss, and you may want to think about zone focusing (where you prefocus your lens and use a narrow aperture for a deep depth of field). But when it works, it really works – your subject remains completely unaware of your presence, they don’t tense up or act unnatural, and you get your candid images.

9. Change your perspective

Photos taken from standing height can look fine, and sure, there are plenty of great shots taken with the camera held in that eye-level area. But if you want to mix things up and capture some truly striking photos, why not change your perspective?

For instance, get down low and shoot upward, or find a nice vantage point and shoot downward. You can climb stairs, walk over bridges, crouch on the ground – whatever you need to do to get the photo (while staying unnoticed).

Also, if you do like the low-angle shot but you feel uncomfortable crouching while doing candid photography (it is somewhat attention-grabbing, after all), try shooting from the hip (as discussed in the previous tip). While your shots may turn out crooked, it’s an interesting effect that some photographers like and can lend a sense of randomness and realness to a scene.

10. Frame images with foreground elements

If you want to create more three-dimensional, layered compositions, I highly recommend composing with your subject as the focal point – but then including an element in the foreground, such as a tree, a person’s shoulder, the frame of a doorway, etc.

Feel free to get creative. The point is to add a foreground element that can contribute context and depth to the shot, but you can have fun widening your aperture for out-of-focus foreground bokeh.

The ultimate goal is to create that sense of standing outside looking in. It’s a great complement to a candid moment, and when done well, can add a sense of mystery to the composition.

11. Take posed shots into candid territory

It may sound strange, but one of my favorite times to shoot candid images is when other photographers are taking formal ones.

Why? Well, during posed images, everyone is focused on the directing photographer, not you. So if, for instance, a wedding photographer is shooting a series of posed images, you can capture some wonderful candid moments simply by standing off to the side and taking a few images of your own.

I’d also recommend zooming in with a telephoto lens to capture more intimate scenes, and you might also try zooming right out to get shots of the subject plus the photographer.

By the way, if you’re the only photographer at an event or photoshoot, and you’re the one taking the posed shots, I’d recommend continuing to shoot after everyone thinks you’ve finished. It’s often these shots – captured moments after the posed images end – that look the best, because people relax, smile naturally, laugh, and look at each other.

Candid photography tips: final words

Hopefully, you now feel much more confident as a candid photographer, and you’re ready to start taking some beautiful candid shots of your own!

So grab your camera, remember these tips, and have fun shooting.

Now over to you:

Do you have any tips for candid photography? How do you capture those beautiful candid moments while photographing unnoticed? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

The post 11 Tips for Stunning Candid Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Darren Rowse.

dPS Weekly Photography Challenge : Steam

Fri, 08/06/2021 - 16:00

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

Welcome back to another weekly challenge! We’re back into another week of lockdown here in Melbourne and it’s really not fun! We hope you are all doing OK out there.

We have a potentially more technical and challenging challenge for some, photographing steam can be tricky! You need to work on getting the steam (or smoke) and the light source (the sun, a flash, a torch, anything really) in the right place to highlight the steam for your camera.

Make a new photo for this challenge and share it in the comments below the post, or in our Facebook Group. Make sure if you share it on your social media, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, that you tag us so we can see and use the hashtag #dPSWeeklyChallenge #dPSSteam

It can be a tough subject, here’s a great how-to for you! “How to Light and Photograph Smoke and Steam in a Home Studio Setting”

“Have you ever tried to photograph smoke or steam? Perhaps you’re doing a portrait of a smoker or a steaming cup of coffee. Odds are that sooner or later you may face this challenge. Fortunately, the lighting technique is not as elusive as the subject”

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

You don’t want to sit around here all day waiting for me to finish rambling on, it’s time to get out there and make your photograph!

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

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

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

Tamron Unveils the 28-75mm f/2.8 G2 for Sony, With Enhanced Image Quality and AF

Fri, 08/06/2021 - 06:00

The post Tamron Unveils the 28-75mm f/2.8 G2 for Sony, With Enhanced Image Quality and AF appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Three years ago, Tamron announced the 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD for Sony, a powerful lens that made its way into the bags of many photographers – and now the company is back for more. This week, Tamron revealed the 28-75mm f/2.8’s successor: the 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III VXD G2, which packs several significant upgrades, along with all the features that made the first 28-75mm f/2.8 such a hit.

And the original 28-75mm f/2.8 certainly was well-received. According to many a reviewer, the lens combined a compact build, a wide maximum aperture, speedy autofocus, and stellar image quality, not to mention a focal length range that performed well in pretty much every scenario, from portraits and landscapes to events and more. And then, of course, was the price; at well under $1000, the 28-75mm positioned itself as the affordable alternative to Sony’s 24-70mm f/2.8 GM lens and even undercut Sigma’s low(ish)-cost 24-70mm f/2.8 Art lens for Sony.

So what does the upcoming 28-75mm f/2.8 offer over its predecessor?

Mainly optical and autofocus upgrades. According to Tamron, you can expect “significantly improved optical and autofocus performance” – specifically, the 28-75mm will likely offer enhanced sharpness thanks to an optical redesign, and Tamron promises “higher autofocus speed with greater precision,” perfect for photographers who tackle sports and other action subjects.

The lens will also feature an increased maximum magnification (from 1:2.94 to 1:2.7), helpful for the occasional detail shot. And Tamron hints at “a new design in the pursuit of enhanced operability and ergonomic texture,” though the company also makes clear that the 28-75mm f/2.8 will offer “the well-received compact size of its predecessor.” In other words: better ergonomics, but in the same small package.

While we don’t yet know the price of the new 28-75mm, expect it to match or only slightly exceed that of the original lens – a bargain, giving the lens’s undoubtedly outstanding optical performance, speed, and low-light capabilities. 

Tamron also emphasizes the lens’s integration “with [a] new ‘Tamron Lens Utility’ software” for “personal customization [that] gives flexible shooting options to match the shooting situation.” For instance, the Lens Utility software will let you adjust the aperture via the focus ring, focus at predetermined positions, and more. 

If you’re after a budget f/2.8 lens for Sony, one that spans from wide-angle to standard telephoto and punches far above its weight in optics and autofocus, then keep an eye out for the 28-75mm f/2.8 G2. Tamron suggests a 2021 release date, so you shouldn’t have long to wait!

Now over to you:

What do you think of the new 28-75mm f/2.8 for Sony? Have you used the original? Are there any upgrades you would like to see that are missing from the updated version? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

The post Tamron Unveils the 28-75mm f/2.8 G2 for Sony, With Enhanced Image Quality and AF appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

10 Tips for Beautiful Smartphone Landscape Photography

Thu, 08/05/2021 - 06:00

The post 10 Tips for Beautiful Smartphone Landscape Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Rick Ohnsman.

You’ve likely heard this before: The best camera is the one you have with you. Trite, but absolutely true. The high-end DSLR or mirrorless camera you might own is totally worthless if it’s sitting in your car, your hotel room, or your home when a great photo opportunity presents itself.

On the other hand, we almost always have a smartphone on hand, and their photo capabilities continue to improve by leaps and bounds. So if you want to capture stunning landscapes, why not learn to take better photos with the camera you always have with you? Why not learn to do smartphone landscape photography?

My current Android smartphone (an LG V30 H931) may not have the best camera, but it’s often the best camera I have with me, and that’s what counts. All the photos in this article are smartphone images, often made on my V30.

More than a few times, I’ve chatted with talented photographers who scoff at the idea of serious photography with a smartphone. Knowing I shoot both phone and dedicated camera images, they sometimes admire an image I’ve made, but then ask, “Did you take that with your real camera?”

My “real camera?” Why do some think a smartphone camera isn’t real, or that a person that shoots with one isn’t a real photographer?

I would argue that if you make a nice image, it doesn’t matter what you use to make it. Has anyone ever looked at a da Vinci painting and asked whether he painted it with a real brush?

This truly is “drive-by shooting,” as I snapped it out the car window while racing down the road. My DSLR was still stashed in my backpack.

The fact is that most modern smartphone cameras have far better specs than DSLRs from a decade ago. Sure, certain factors favor DSLRs, such as the greater control, the ability to use interchangeable lenses, and the larger sensor size. But the idea that you can’t make great images with a smartphone camera? Hogwash, I say!

So let’s give you 10 tips on how you can get better images when doing smartphone landscape photography.

I’ve photographed this windmill before, so upon witnessing the sunset while driving home, I raced for the spot with the only camera I had with me: my smartphone. 1. Make photographs, don’t take snapshots

To be a better photographer, you must move beyond the idea that you “take” a photo. Ansel Adams said it succinctly:

“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”

What’s the difference? The idea is that you think about what you’re trying to communicate with your photo, then do everything you can to include that, and only that, in your shot. Another way to put it: Snapshots are taken by people who just point and click. Photographs are made by artists who give thought to the image they are creating.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what instrument you use, smartphone or high-end digital camera. What counts is the thought you put into your work. You generally won’t need to make a landscape photograph in a hurry, so slow down and think about what you’re doing.

If you only take one tip from this article, make sure it’s this one. Your smartphone landscape photography will be far ahead of the rest of the happy snappers who just point and shoot.

I’d driven past this location many times and had already visualized the image in my head. So one day, I just had to stop, pull out my smartphone, and record the photo. 2. Compose, then expose Getting down in the wheat field with the stalks just inches from the smartphone lens gave an immersive feel to this image. Smartphone optics are good for this kind of thing!

Composition is king in photography, no matter your camera.

So study compositional techniques such as the rule of thirds. Use the thirds grid on your smartphone to assist you. Do “border patrol” of your shot, looking for distracting elements around the edges of the frame.

Consider whether you should use portrait (vertical) or landscape (horizontal) mode for the shot. Just because you typically hold your phone vertically doesn’t mean you should always take photos that way. In fact, most landscape images benefit from a landscape mode composition. (Guess that’s why they call it that, huh?)

Composition is still king in smartphone landscape photography. Note how the horizon is on the top third line and the barn sits at the power-point intersection of the right third line: the rule of thirds at work.

Of course, sometimes portrait mode is better suited for a shot. Thanks to their small sensors and wide lenses, smartphones feature excellent depth of field, which can make for beautiful near/far images (with everything sharp from foreground to horizon).

To emphasize the height of the cliffs and the stretch of the coastline, I decided that portrait mode was the proper orientation for this shot.

Note that creating such an expansive depth of field would require an ultra-narrow aperture – or even a focus stack – on a DSLR. But on a smartphone camera, it requires nothing extra.

With a 1.78mm lens, even an f-stop of f/1.9 gives a huge depth of field, spanning from inches away from the lens to infinity. 3. Seek the light

Since we have our smartphones with us most of the time, we can make photos whenever we like. But images in midday sun usually won’t look great no matter what camera you use. Nice light is always going to make for a better photo.

So if you can do your smartphone landscape photography in the early morning or late evening – the “magic hours” – you’ll almost always end up with more dramatic images.

This location at a local park is nothing special during the day. With a night sunset, however, it makes for great silhouettes. Seek the light!

Modern smartphone cameras have also become much better at low-light shooting, so don’t overlook the possibility of night photos.

4. Take control of your settings

Beginning photographers, even with higher-end cameras, often stick to the simplicity of automatic modes and let the camera determine the focus, aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and white balance.

Yet while early smartphone cameras offered no option for manual control, many modern smartphone cameras now offer full manual control over settings. You can also find apps that expand your camera control, such as A Better Camera for Android-based phones or Camera+ 2 for iPhones.

By taking control of your camera settings, you can create better landscape photos – so make sure to explore these options, even if you currently feel more comfortable with your smartphone’s Auto mode.

5. Use all available lenses My smartphone has two cameras, one with a wider angle of view than the other. Some newer smartphones now have four cameras on the back, a response to the lack of interchangeable lenses.

It used to be that a distinct advantage of standard cameras over smartphone cameras was lens interchangeability. A smartphone had one lens with a fixed focal length, no optical zoom, and a set aperture.

But look at the back of a modern smartphone, and you’ll see multiple cameras. An iPhone 12 Pro Max features three cameras, while a Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra sports four. There’s also the selfie-cam on the front, but that’s not one you’re likely to use for landscape photography.

Go wide and go vertical, a great way to emphasize these towering redwoods.

If you have additional lenses, take advantage of them! On the other hand, don’t use digital zoom. Sure, it might seem easy to “zoom” into a composition with a simple touch of the screen, but you’re actually just cropping the image and losing resolution in the process.

I’d also discourage clip-on lenses for smartphones. These are always fiddly to work with and almost never produce quality images. Save your money. If you need a more versatile lens than your smartphone but still want something pocketable, check out some of the great point-and-shoot cameras that have superzooms and good specs.

6. Three legs are better than none

As a mostly landscape photographer, I shoot from a tripod about 85% of the time. However, I often see other landscape photographers happily working away with no tripod in sight.

Yes, lens and IBIS (in-body image stabilization) has brought us a long way, and if the light permits, a fast shutter speed might negate the advantage of a tripod. Still, I firmly believe that using a tripod will improve your landscape photography.

You need three legs to make this shot. A four-second exposure requires the steadiness of a tripod and manual control of your smartphone camera.

But being a tripod-evangelist isn’t an easy assignment. People don’t want to be bothered. Now try convincing smartphone photographers they should use a tripod!

Yet I’ve got to say it: A tripod does have a place in smartphone landscape photography. When the light is low and your shutter speed gets longer, being able to keep the camera still is the difference between a fuzzy shot and a tack-sharp shot. Add the ability to take really long exposures (yes, many smartphone cameras can now do this), and a tripod can sometimes make a lot of sense.

There is one good thing, however: you don’t need a big tripod for your tiny cellphone. Pocketable tripods can do the trick; couple one with a Bluetooth remote trigger, and you can do multi-second exposures with your smartphone. Joby, the company that invented the GorillaPod, is a good place to look.

By the way, if you’re going to be using your standard tripod with your smartphone, a smartphone adapter is a good addition to your bag.

7. You’re not done until you’ve edited

Some photographers believe you should get your image right in-camera so you don’t have to edit. They don’t like to edit their images, ever.

I disagree.

Whether taken with a regular camera or a smartphone, almost any shot can be made better with some editing. You will often want to crop, adjust exposure, and perhaps go even further. Fortunately, there are excellent editing apps for smartphones, and they’re often free.

My absolute favorite is Snapseed. It’s available for both Android and iPhone and is completely free. It’s very easy to learn, has a nice array of tools, and it is rare that any smartphone image I consider a keeper does not get the Snapseed treatment.

There are many other great smartphone editing apps, though. Adobe Lightroom has a mobile version that is very good. Some may argue that the whole idea of smartphone photography is “quick and easy photography” and therefore balk at editing. I get it, but I still think that almost any image can be improved with some fine-tuning.

You’re not done until you edit! The top shot is straight out of the smartphone camera. The bottom version is edited with Snapseed. You can almost always improve a photo with a little editing. 8. Got a backup? Make one!

With standard cameras, we typically have image files stored on a card in the camera. Remove that card, copy the files to the computer, and make a backup – that’s the standard workflow.

Shooting with a smartphone, however, the images are stored in internal memory and sometimes on a micro SD card in the phone. You can connect your phone to your computer or plug in the micro SD card, but who does that? Most people just let the images stay on their phone. Which is fine, until your phone crashes, the storage is corrupted, or you break or lose your phone.

Now, what if your images were backed up to the cloud – as soon as you shot them? Not only would you have a backup, you’d have the images in a place where they could be easily shared to social media, emailed, whatever you prefer. There are many apps that will do this, but as an Android user, I look no further than Google Photos. iPhone users can also use Google Photos, but might instead opt for iCloud.

I don’t like carrying my regular camera on a dirt bike ride, but my smartphone camera? Yup, it’s the one that’s always with me. As long as I’m in range of a cell tower, my photos are immediately backed up as soon as I shoot them.

Whatever option you choose, the idea is to have an app that immediately and automatically syncs your smartphone images to the cloud for safe backup.

9. Use GPS data to track your photo locations

Almost all smartphones will embed the GPS coordinates of a photo in the EXIF data. Bring up a photo, and in many apps, you will be able to see exactly when and where that photo was made. Some apps will also present pins on a map showing where a collection of photos was shot. If you decide you want to go back to that spot, it’s easy to find it again.

They call this beautiful spot on the Oregon coast “Secret Beach,” but even though it’s not signed, enough people have posted GPS-tagged images of it online that it’s not much of a secret anymore.

There is a downside to photos being tagged with GPS data. If you post a GPS-tagged image on social media, viewers can determine exactly where the photo was taken. This has caused an ethical dilemma for landscape photographers. Places that used to be known only to a few are now known widely. Photographers seeing a great photo online often think, “I want to go to that spot, too!” The problem is that beautiful places are being overrun, trampled down, littered, and even vandalized by unscrupulous people. Some places are now closed off because they were “loved to death” by the crowds who discovered them online.

So as an ethical landscape photographer, you may wish to consider stripping off the GPS data from your images before posting. It may not be necessary for the most well-known spots, as people already know where those are. But if you find a really great waterfall way up a mountain trail, consider keeping it a secret. Not only will you have an exclusive shot, but you’ll prevent hordes of people from descending upon it.

Take a look at a GPS-tagged photo with Google Maps or Lightroom, and you can see right where the photo was taken. The Portland Head lighthouse isn’t much of a secret, but think twice before posting GPS-tagged photos. 10. Previsualize with your smartphone camera

When out on a landscape photo outing, I almost always have my smartphone in my pocket and my main camera and equipment in a backpack. Often, I will use the smartphone as a tool to previsualize and help compose a shot. I’ll make some photos, consider my vantage point, and then determine if I even want to set up my tripod and bring out my other gear. This has several advantages.

These bristlecone pines in the White Mountains of California are the oldest living things on earth (over 5,000 years old!). I wasn’t going to forget my DSLR when I went to shoot them, but I first did these previsualization shots with my smartphone.

If the shot doesn’t have merit, I will move on, not even going to the trouble of bringing out my DSLR. On the other hand, if it is a good shot, I will have captured GPS data, plus I’ll have a smartphone image that will be uploaded to the cloud.

And here’s the kicker: Occasionally, my smartphone shot will be better than what I later shoot with my DSLR. There have been times when, with changing light, the first capture is best. Sometimes the smartphone camera will process the image as a JPEG and achieve better results than I get when editing the RAW file from my main camera. There have also been times when I didn’t bother to shoot a DSLR photo – the smartphone shot was all I took – and was later happy I did because it turned out great.

We left the cameras in the car and hiked down to the shore of Mono Lake to check out the tufa formations. Good thing I had my smartphone camera, as this rain squall passed over the island in the distance. By the time I got back with my DSLR, the shot was gone. Here’s a shot using the sweep panorama feature within my smartphone that automatically stitches the images together. Want a really big pano with your smartphone? Shoot a series of vertical shots (maybe 20 or so) and let a smartphone app like Bimostitch assemble them. The finished image of this 180-degree panorama is 6227×2753 pixels. 11. Try shooting in RAW

The article title promised 10 tips, but I’m going to throw in this 11th item, just for free! Really, it’s not so much a tip as something for you to explore.

Many newer smartphone cameras can now shoot in RAW format. My current LG V30 does this, and I have successfully brought its DNGs into Lightroom for editing.

That said, I often find that the additional work this requires (plus the huge file sizes and the drawback of not having an easily uploadable JPEG) makes RAW smartphone shooting too much of a hassle. AIso, I’m usually hard-pressed to edit a RAW file into a better image than a JPEG.

Many smartphones excel at macro shots. I could have shot this in a RAW format, but I doubt I could’ve processed it any better than this JPEG. If the smartphone can do a better job, why go to the extra work of shooting RAW? (Note: I did edit the JPEG with Snapseed.)

If your smartphone can shoot in RAW, give it a test and see what you think. I typically advocate shooting in RAW, but if the end result isn’t any better, why do it?

Smartphone landscape photography tips: conclusion

I’d never tell you to sell your dedicated camera and shoot only with a smartphone. As a dedicated photography tool, your DSLR or mirrorless camera should generally be capable of making superior images, especially if you’ll be printing large. But smartphone cameras get better with every generation, and it’s become impossible to dismiss them as not “real cameras.” As has been the case since the early days of film, it is the photographer, not the camera, that makes a great photograph.

Of course, practice makes perfect. If using the camera you have with you causes you to take more photos and get the shot you otherwise would have missed, then by all means, start doing more smartphone landscape photography!

Smartphone landscape photography FAQs Is my smartphone camera adequate for doing quality landscape photography?

Most likely. Some believe a smartphone is not a “real camera,” but modern smartphone cameras are now more sophisticated than the DSLRs of just a few years ago. Unless your intent is to make large prints, your smartphone images will be more than adequate for most purposes.

What is the most important thing to remember in smartphone landscape photography?

The answer is the same for any kind of photography, regardless of what kind of camera you use: composition is king. Take the time to frame up your image using the standard rules of good composition, and your shots will automatically be better than those of the “happy snappers” who just point and shoot.

What should I do to take my smartphone landscape photography up a notch?

Learn to use the manual controls of your smartphone camera. These may be built in, or you may need an app, but just as serious photographers using standard cameras learn to work in manual modes, you should learn to do the same with your smartphone camera.

What else can I do to make better smartphone landscape photos?

Edit your images. Many smartphone photographers think they’re done when they click the shutter, but almost any photograph can be improved with some editing. For smartphone photography, Snapseed is a great place to start.

The post 10 Tips for Beautiful Smartphone Landscape Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Rick Ohnsman.

How to Correct White Balance in Photoshop: A Guide

Wed, 08/04/2021 - 06:00

The post How to Correct White Balance in Photoshop: A Guide appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by John McIntire.

When you think of white balance corrections, Photoshop probably isn’t the first program that comes to mind. In most cases, white balance is dealt with early in the workflow. And because the tools in Lightroom and other RAW processing suites do a great job, Photoshop isn’t necessary.

That said, there are occasions when you might need to alter your white balance in Photoshop – which is where this article will come in handy.

Specifically, I’m going to share four non-destructive methods of correcting the white balance.

And by the time you’re done, you’ll be able to adjust white balance in Photoshop like a pro.

Let’s dive right in.

Disclaimer: As you are no longer working on a RAW file in Photoshop, when you use these tools, you are technically not altering the white balance data in your images. Instead, you are altering the colors and tones of a PSD, JPEG, etc. Even so, the end result will appear the same as a white balance adjustment, and I will refer to it as such for the purposes of this article.

Why correct the white balance in Photoshop

There are many reasons you may want to alter the white balance in Photoshop, rather than in a standard RAW processor (such as Lightroom).

Perhaps you’re halfway through your workflow and you change your mind about some of the choices you made at the RAW stage.

One reason you might want to alter your white balance in Photoshop is if you need to make changes in the middle of a workflow. Instead of heading back to your RAW processor and starting from scratch, you can make the adjustments in Photoshop.

Perhaps another adjustment altered the image colors in a way that you don’t like, and you want to make white balance corrections.

Perhaps you don’t shoot in RAW at all, so you only edit your files in Photoshop.

Whatever the reason, Photoshop offers a huge variety of tools that will let you deal with this task easily and without needing to scrap any of your previous edits.

Four (non-destructive) ways to adjust the white balance in Photoshop All of the techniques mentioned in this article are non-destructive – three by way of adjustment layers and one by making use of Smart Objects.

Below, I outline four simple techniques to correct the white balance in Photoshop.

Note that every technique is non-destructive – or it can be, as long as you use layers and Smart Objects.

Starting with your very first option:

1. Camera Raw filter

Let’s get this one out of the way right off the bat.

After all, when it comes to altering your white balance in Photoshop, the Camera Raw filter might be the most obvious option. Why? The filter opens an interface that allows you to use Adobe Camera Raw inside of Photoshop.

If you use ACR or even Lightroom, you’re already familiar with the filter interface, and it should be a piece of cake to work with.

If you’re already familiar with Lightroom, finding your way around the Camera Raw Filter is going to be easy.

To get started with the Camera Raw filter, create a new layer, then use Ctrl+Alt+Shift+E (Cmd+Alt+Shift+E on a Mac) to copy all of your previous layers and place them into your just-created layer. If you want this adjustment to be non-destructive, right-click the new layer and select Convert to Smart Object.

Now, from the filter menu, select Filter>Camera Raw Filter.

This will open the Camera Raw filter window:

From here, all you have to do is locate the sliders labeled Temperature and Tint:

Assuming the white balance was close to accurate, any changes you make at this point will be quite minor.

Adjust these sliders as you see fit – this is your opportunity to make white balance corrections – then press OK. Job done!

Easy and intuitive, the Camera Raw Filter might be all you need for a quick white balance adjustment in Photoshop.

Note: The Temperature slider in Camera Raw does not correspond to the white balance Kelvin scale. Remember, as you are not using a RAW file, there is no white balance data for you to manipulate at this stage of your workflow.

2. Color Balance

The Color Balance adjustment is the least intuitive option in this article, and its sensitivity takes some time to get used to. Once you get your head around it, however, it can be a quick and powerful way to make changes to white balance in Photoshop. 

To get started, create a new Color Balance adjustment layer:

You’ll see a selection of sliders, like so:

Although the Color Balance sliders seem intuitive, they can cause massive changes to your images with minor tweaks.


There is also a dialogue box labeled Tone; by clicking the box, you can switch between altering the shadow, midtone, and highlight colors.

Now, to warm up your image, select a tonal range and move your sliders toward the reds, magentas, and yellows. To cool down your image, push the sliders toward the cyans, greens, and blues. Adjust the shadows, midtones, and highlights until you’re happy with the results.

Here, you can see how small changes make a huge difference. I barely moved the sliders, and yet look at the effect on the image below. Color balance: before and after.

Tip: The sliders in the Color Balance adjustment are very sensitive. To get your desired effect, you may only need to move them a tiny amount. Also, because of this sensitivity, altering the midtones can lead to drastic results very quickly. Keep a close eye on your image and don’t be afraid to dial it back if you go too far. Also, don’t forget: if the effect does seem too strong, you can always lower the opacity of the adjustment layer when you’ve finished.

3. Photo Filter

The Photo Filter adjustment is a bit of a wild card and you may never choose it over the other options outlined here, but it’s a good example of Photoshop’s incredible versatility. Plus, who knows? Maybe you’ll like the effect.

The Photo Filter tool aims to replicate the effect of various filters used in film photography to manipulate white balance in camera. Common examples of these filters are warm-up and cool-down filters (which add warm and cool tones to your images, respectively). 

To get started, create a new Photo Filter adjustment layer:

Then, in the Filter dialog box, you will find several options, including warming and cooling filters:

Altering the Photo Filter settings can change your results drastically. Apart from the Filter presets and the density, you can also choose a custom color to apply as a filter.

In this example, I chose a warming filter to (you guessed it!) warm up the image. Note that the photo was taken during the blue hour, and that’s deliberate – I want to show you just how powerful the Photo Filter adjustment can be.

The initial effect will almost always require some adjustment; move the Density slider left to reduce the filter’s impact, and move the Density slider right to strengthen the filter.

Here you can see a dramatic result from the Photo Filter; this blue hour shot instantly became far more neutral.

That’s pretty much all there is to it.

4. Curves

The Curves adjustment layer is one of the most powerful tools that Photoshop offers. You can use a Curves layer to adjust exposure, contrast, dodge and burn, color grade, and adjust your white balance in Photoshop.

In short, if you are not yet familiar with the Curves adjustment, I recommend taking the time to learn it in depth.

Using Curves to alter white balance is fairly straightforward. To start, create a new Curves adjustment layer:

Click the box labeled RGB to see options for Red, Green, and Blue:

To warm up your images, select the Red curve. Drag it slightly upward to increase the red tones in your images. Do the same to the Green curve. Then drag the Blue curve downward to de-emphasize any cool tones:

Although these adjustments seem slight, they’ve had a huge impact on the image. This should show you just how powerful the Curves adjustment can be.

This process can be finicky, so keep adjusting each curve by small amounts until you get your desired effect.

If you want to cool down your image, the process is the same, but you will simply move each of the three curves in the opposite directions.

The original image (left) was cooled down a bit with some minor tweaks in a Curves layer. Correcting white balance in Photoshop: conclusion

Now that you’ve finished this article, you should be able to see that altering the white balance in Photoshop needn’t be a complicated process.

You now know four simple ways to make white balance adjustments, and while Photoshop probably shouldn’t be your first choice when working with white balance, it’s good to have a few tricks up your sleeve just in case.

Now over to you:

Which of these methods of adjusting white balance in Photoshop do you plan to try first? Do you have a favorite? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

White balance in Photoshop FAQs Can you use Photoshop to change the white balance for an image that isn’t a RAW file?

Yes and no. Technically speaking, only RAW files grant you the ability to change white balance settings. However, you can use Photoshop tools such as the Camera Raw filter, Curves, Photo Filter, and Color Balance to alter the colors of your images – and the effect is similar to a white balance adjustment.

What’s the easiest tool for altering the white balance in Photoshop?

The Camera Raw filter. This tool offers an interface similar to Lightroom and features easy-to-use sliders.

How do I use Curves to correct colors in my images?

Work on the Red, Green, and Blue curves individually. Drag each curve until your colors look exactly as you want them.

Why would I want to use Photoshop to correct my white balance?

Maybe you’ve already started post-processing an image and only later decide you want to alter the white balance. Instead of starting over, you can use tools in Photoshop to get the job done in the middle of your workflow.

The post How to Correct White Balance in Photoshop: A Guide appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by John McIntire.

12 Creative Photography Project Ideas to Get You Motivated

Tue, 08/03/2021 - 06:00

The post 12 Creative Photography Project Ideas to Get You Motivated appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Bond.

Looking for some fun, creative photography project ideas to get you inspired and excited about taking photos?

It’s always good to be involved in a photography project, and in this article, I’m going to share 12 of my favorite project ideas, including 52-week projects, 365-day projects, and more.

So if you’re ready to find the right project for your needs, then let’s get started!

Learning a new technique, such as the zoom burst, makes for a great creative photography project. Before you start your creative photography project

As with anything in life, once you have a project idea, it’s important to think it over and make a clear plan of action. This is a big step toward being successful. So if you have a project in mind, before you actually start snapping photos, consider the following points:

  • Give yourself time. Keep in mind the amount of free time you have. Is it realistic for you to complete the project? There are some projects that take a real time commitment; make sure you have a good plan in place if this is the type of project you decide to tackle. And ask yourself: Are there any important events over the next few weeks, months, or year, such as a wedding or a house move, that might make it difficult to finish?
  • Plan out all the details. If your project is long term, perhaps lasting a whole year, then make a plan for how you’ll achieve it. A 365 project is especially demanding, as you need to take a photograph every day. If you can, plan out every day of the project – and make your plan prior to getting started.
  • Allow for the unexpected. There will be times when you get sick, come home late, or your drive or motivation isn’t quite there. The plan you make for your project should include some easy days. Think of it as cooking ahead and having some frozen food in the fridge ready to reheat. In photography, there are always a number of photos that are very easy to take but still look striking. Keep some easier photos held back for times that you need a break.
12 creative photography projects to energize your work

As a year is 12 months long, I’ve included 12 project ideas (though some of them will take all year, whereas others might only take a weekend). Pick your favorite, or – if you’re ambitious! – choose more than one!

1. The 52-week project

This is a year-long project where you take one photograph per week. Tackling such a lengthy project is demanding, but if you can plan out some (or all) of your shots before the project starts, you’ll be a lot more successful.

Note that you can always customize the project to keep things more interesting and/or cohesive:

If you want to do regular photography but you’re not quite ready for a daily project, the 52-week project is a great one to pick.

This photo used a technique called digital blending. Doing a 52-week project where you learn one technique a week can do wonders for your skills as a photographer. 2. The 365-day project

This is an intimidating project to take on, which is why many people go for the 52-week version listed above. However, like a relationship that requires a major time commitment, the reward for this project is often worth it.

Now, the original 365 project required daily self-portraits, which made it even tougher to complete. But a lot of people simply look to take one good photograph per day, be it a landscape, portrait, or macro shot. If you’re not sure how to get started, here are a few ideas:

  • The self-portrait 365 project. Take a selfie every day for a year.
  • What’s on your plate? Photograph your meal every day.
  • Life at sea. Show the different aspects of sea life. This is a diverse project that can include seascapes, macro photos, fishermen, and underwater photography (if you have the gear).
You eat every day. Why not turn your food into a 365-day project? 3. Follow one consistent theme

Want to really focus your mind (and hone a specific set of photography skills)? Choose a theme, and only take photos aligned with that theme.

This creative photography project can easily work as a 365-day or 52-week project. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

  • Concentrate on a single technique. Take photos with a crystal ball, using an infrared camera, etc.
  • Have a topic for inspiration. Look at everyday objects and occurrences, then pick a topic that interests you. You might photograph only Chinese food, for example. Or you could do a clothes-related project – you could photograph only denim, or if you’re in Korea, you could photograph hanbok.
  • Photograph at the same time every day. Pick a time of the day and photograph only at this time. For instance, you might shoot every day at 6 PM, which will offer plenty of interesting light (plus, it will change throughout the year).
Photographing with a theme, such as a country’s traditional clothes, can be a great project. In this photo, all the women are wearing Korean hanbok. 4. Limit yourself to 24 photos

Photographers who photograph film know all about restraint – they will attest to the importance of really considering every photograph. So why not put yourself in their shoes and limit yourself to a certain number of shots per outing, day, or week?

The specific limit is a personal choice, but make sure the number isn’t too large (you want the project to involve some actual work, after all!). Personally, I like the idea of 24 shots – this hearkens back to the days of film – though you can also do 36, 20, or even 10.

To really emulate the feeling of shooting film, try only capturing 24 photographs for one week (no deleting)! With this project, every time you hit the shutter, you need to know you’re photographing from the best possible angle and with the best composition. Learning to successfully shoot with restraint will improve your work in leaps and bounds.

5. Use the title of a song or album

Delving into other mediums can be a great way to come up with a cool creative photography project. A lot of people take a photo, then make a title to go with it – but a better approach for creativity is to know the title of your photograph before you hit the shutter button.

In other words: You determine your photography concept in advance based on your shot title. Then you problem-solve to get the result you need.

You can get your titles anywhere, but I recommend looking to your favorite music album or song. Here are a few additional ideas:

  • The project could use an artist’s album titles
  • You could choose song titles, then turn them into photo titles
  • You can use the lyrics in a song to inspire photos
“The Passenger” is a famous song by Iggy Pop. Song titles can be great inspiration for photographs! 6. Use only one (prime) lens

Most photographers own quite a few lenses, not to mention zooms with huge focal length ranges. And while this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, you may find yourself becoming lazy over time – using your zoom lenses, staying in the exact same place, not making a significant effort to really work a scene.

That’s where this photography project idea comes in handy. Simply shoot with a single lens for a day, a week, or a month, and you’ll quickly appreciate the value of careful composition, zooming with your feet, and more.

A really good lens to get started with is the nifty 50 (i.e., a 50mm f/1.8 or f/1.4). The fixed focal length will force you to consider composition more carefully, and you’ll get a perspective similar to the human eye.

Of course, you have plenty of options, and any lens you could choose will have its merits. If you want to get really creative, try using a fisheye, tilt-shift, or macro lens.

You get to choose one lens. Which will it be? 7. Only use a smartphone

Who says your creative photography project should be high-tech? There’s a lot to be said for stripping your photography gear down to the basics, and your smartphone is perfect for this.

There are plenty of camera apps that can give your smartphone DSLR-like functionality (and you can buy clip-on lenses if you’re looking for added flexibility).

That said, the purest smartphone project will only use your phone’s basic camera app. So don’t be afraid to pack away your fancy cameras and use your smartphone’s native camera app for a week. Focus on what you can do with composition, light, and a perfectly timed moment of capture.

The best camera is the one you have with you, especially when the sky does this! An iPhone 4 was used to take this photo. 8. Find a story

No matter where you live, you can find a story to tell, though it will likely differ depending on whether you’re in a city, the country, a hot climate, or a cold one. Is your local area famous for any type of food? Are there any famous landmarks such as castles or temples nearby? How about an annual festival?

Once you’ve settled on your story, approach it in the way you’d photograph on assignment for a magazine. Try to tell the entire story. Use a variety of techniques and shoot a variety of subjects.

At the end of the project, you should spend some time picking a final set of photos – not necessarily the best individual shots, but the images that best tell a story. If you get a good result, you might even consider pitching it to a magazine!

It’s good to practice photographing for a magazine. That way, when National Geographic comes knocking, you’ll be ready! 9. Learn a totally new technique

Once you know how to use your camera, it’s easy to get complacent – to shoot with the exact same techniques, the same settings, the same rhythm. So why not try focusing your project on a new technique?

Learning a new technique can be both exciting and intimidating. It may also require a significant time commitment. There are not many creative photography projects more energizing than learning something brand new, though. Here are some fun techniques to consider:

  • Digital blending. This technique will improve both your landscape photography and your Photoshop skills. There are aspects of blending that are tough to master, but it will absolutely be worth it.
  • Crystal balls. Using a glass ball as a type of external lens is a lot of fun, and it’s a great way to create some unusual photos.
  • Light painting. This is a hot topic in photography. Will you learn to take zoom bursts? How about making light orbs? Will you use a Pixelstick?
  • Drone photography. This is another photographic genre that’s becoming increasingly popular. Invest in a drone, shoot with it regularly, and you’ll be on the cutting edge of photography.
  • Hyperlapse. Take a series of photos and turn them into a video. Some of the most creative photography projects out there use this technique!
  • Off-camera flash. Many photographers struggle to master flash; take the time to learn it, and you’ll go a long way.
Learning to use off-camera flash will give your creativity a huge boost. 10. Have a potluck photography party

Everyone’s been to a potluck party – they’re the ones where everyone brings along their own food. And the collaborative nature of potluck parties makes them perfect for getting together with other photographers as part of a creative photography project.

How do you organize a potluck photography party? Each person should bring along the following:

  • A camera body and one camera lens
  • One prop or piece of camera equipment

While everyone will use their own camera to take photos, the idea is that the prop or piece of equipment can be shared – so you might end up with one tripod, or one umbrella, for the entire group. And at every event, the available equipment will be different, offering different image opportunities.

You can come up with a theme for the potluck that everyone must follow, or you can have a theme for your own shots. This one’s a very open-ended project idea, so have fun with it!

Photography collaborations are a great way to improve your photos. They give you a chance to bounce ideas off others, which is always helpful. 11. Follow an A-Z photography list

This type of project can be extremely fun. All you do is photograph the alphabet!

You might start by writing out a list of topics you want to photograph (one for each letter). Or you can take a more spontaneous approach and photograph each letter as you encounter it.

This is a fun game that can be used for group photowalks, or you can play it on your own – when traveling, or simply when out with your camera.

“K” is for “Kuala Lumpur.” Are you a frequent traveler? Consider making your project about photographing places with an A-Z list! 12. A day in the life

A day in the life is a good, short project to work on – because it only lasts one day! Simply find someone whose life you want to photograph and ask them if you can tag along for a day.

Of course, you don’t have to stop there. You can always do a series covering different people. And the project doesn’t have to be about people; life is everywhere, so you could follow your pet or even photograph a natural area.

That said, the best projects do tend to be about people and their lives (a day in the life that looks at different people’s professions is a great choice).

Following a person for a day and photographing their life can be a rewarding experience. This woman was a chambermaid by day and an Apsara dancer by night. Get started with your creative photography project!

Well, there you have it:

12 photography project ideas to get you motivated! Hopefully, you found at least one or two of these ideas compelling – so pick your favorite, make a plan, and then dive in!

Now over to you:

Have you tried a photography project before? Do you have any favorite projects you’d like to share? Also, which project from this list do you plan to do? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

The post 12 Creative Photography Project Ideas to Get You Motivated appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Bond.

Camera vs Lens: Which Should You Upgrade Next?

Mon, 08/02/2021 - 06:00

The post Camera vs Lens: Which Should You Upgrade Next? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Anabel DFlux.

If you can’t decide whether you should upgrade your camera or your lens, then you’re not alone. Photographers frequently struggle to determine the better upgrade, especially when their gear and budget are limited and they desperately want to improve their photos.

But while it can be difficult to pick the best gear, it’s not impossible – and in this article, I aim to help you deal with a longtime debate:

Camera vs lens.

Let’s dive right in!

What are your weaknesses?

Every photographer is at a different place, with different gear, different interests, and different shooting capabilities.

So you need to pick the upgrade that most improves your particular photography.

Before you start looking at cameras and lenses, ask yourself three key questions:

  1. What are my current gear weaknesses?
  2. What are my current technical weaknesses?
  3. What matters to me most as a photographer?

For instance, if you want to shoot birds but are a relative beginner with a 70-300mm lens, your gear weaknesses include a lack of sufficient focal length while your technical weaknesses may include an inability to track birds in flight.

And if you want to shoot stunning wide-angle nightscapes but only own a kit lens and an entry-level APS-C camera, your gear weaknesses probably include a lack of high-ISO capabilities and a slow lens (i.e., the maximum aperture is too narrow). Your technical weaknesses might include an inability to expose properly.

Whatever the type of photography you do, think about which of these weaknesses are more important, then determine whether they can be fixed (or at least improved) with an upgraded camera or an upgraded lens. In fact, I’d highly recommend you make a list of weaknesses before continuing on with this article. That way, you can keep them in mind as you read the next few sections.

By the way, it is important to note: buying new gear will not instantly fix your technical weaknesses. If you’re not good at tracking birds in flight, for instance, a new camera won’t turn you into a tracking pro. But it can make a significant difference, which is why it’s important to think about technical weaknesses as well as gear weaknesses when upgrading your equipment.

Why is the camera important?

Your camera will affect these key aspects of your photography:

  • Image dynamic range
  • Image noise levels
  • Autofocus speed and tracking
  • Continuous shooting (burst mode) speeds
  • Image resolution
  • Comfort when shooting
  • Speed when changing settings
  • Setup durability

Of course, the lens affects some of these elements – autofocusing speeds, for instance, depend on the lens’s focusing system. And the photography experience (comfort when shooting and speed when changing settings) relies on the lens, too.

But in all the areas listed above, the camera is a major player, so think about your current weaknesses. Will a change in the camera affect any of those shortcomings?

A quick note: Beginners tend to ignore comfort and ergonomics, instead choosing to focus on autofocus speed and resolution. But from a physical standpoint, the camera body is what you’ll hold in your hands. Its comfort is very important when shooting for long hours, so don’t forget to think about ease of use.

Also, if you’re an outdoor photographer, make sure to consider weather-sealing. Higher-end cameras have better weather-sealing than lower-end cameras, so a change in your camera body can make a big difference to your setup’s durability and longevity, especially if you spend a lot of time shooting in sea spray, out in the rain and snow, etc.

Why is the lens important?

Your lens will affect these key aspects of your photography:

  • Image sharpness
  • Image bokeh
  • Autofocusing speed
  • Focal length reach
  • Comfort when shooting
  • Setup durability
  • Low-light shooting

For many photographers, lens sharpness is everything. But the truth is that lens sharpness is only one of a handful of important lens characteristics, and it’s not always the most important one, either. For instance, you might have the sharpest lens in the world, but if it doesn’t have a wide maximum aperture, you won’t be able to use it for night landscapes, nor will you be able to use it to capture creamy background bokeh in full-body portraits.

By the way, if the artistic look of your photos is important to you – and I’m guessing that it is! – the lens will offer far more control than the camera body. This is because aperture, focal length, and sharpness are all dictated by the lens, so by using the right lens and the right lens settings, you can achieve beautiful background bokeh, stunningly sharp subjects, perfect compositions, and more.

Camera vs lens: image quality

At this point, you should be familiar with the effects of a camera and a lens on your photography. And you should know that it’s not just about image quality. Ergonomics, durability, autofocusing speeds – it all matters.

That said, image quality is a major piece of the puzzle, and so in this section, I’d like to discuss cameras vs lenses, specifically considering image output.

As I’ve emphasized above, both a camera and a lens will impact image quality. But on the grand scale, most camera bodies won’t make a noticeable difference unless you’re shooting in difficult situations such as low light (in which case higher-end cameras have lower noise levels, for instance).

The lens, on the other hand, will significantly affect the final result. Photographers often experiment with pairing a high-end lens with a low-end body and a high-end body with a kit lens, and they find that the audience gravitates toward the photographs produced with the high-end lens and low-end body combination; the lens just impacts photos so significantly.

You’ll likely never be able to determine whether a high- or low-quality camera body was used in a shot – but you can often pick out the quality of the lens.

Also, a good lens will withstand the test of time as you try many different camera bodies. The lens will travel with you from camera to camera. The lens will also help you create your specific style of shooting, as the aperture and perspective will shape and support your personal preferences.

Are you someone who prefers a shallow depth of field? Wide-angle fisheye? What about epic action shots with a tight zoom? All of these effects are done with the lens, not the body.

A lens is generally the better investment

If you’re worried about budgeting and finances, it’s important to note that a lens is often the better investment because it’ll last much longer than a camera body. Some photographers use the same lenses for decades, for two main reasons:

  1. Lenses are more durable than camera bodies, especially because cameras have a limited number of actuations before the shutter fails.
  2. Lens technology changes more slowly. A camera from five years ago is often easily surpassed by a new release, whereas plenty of lenses are still top-notch after five, ten, and even twenty years.

Also, a lens will also retain more of its resale value compared to a camera. Cameras go out of date fast and their used prices tumble, especially when newer versions are released. On the other hand, plenty of lenses can be resold for the same price today as they could be ten years ago (and sometimes the prices even go up!).

Camera vs lens: final words

Cameras and lenses can both make a big difference in your photography – but by recognizing key weaknesses, you can pick the perfect upgrade for your needs.

So think about what matters to you. Think about what would impact your photos most. Sure, lenses will heavily affect image quality, but cameras will majorly affect autofocusing and ergonomics. Lenses will retain more value, but cameras will boost your resolution.

In the end, it’s up to you!

Now it’s your turn:

Which do you plan to upgrade, your camera or your lens? And why did you make that choice? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

The post Camera vs Lens: Which Should You Upgrade Next? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Anabel DFlux.

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