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Updated: 3 hours 21 min ago

5 Secrets for Finding Great Indoor Photoshoot Locations

Sat, 06/26/2021 - 06:00

The post 5 Secrets for Finding Great Indoor Photoshoot Locations appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Melinda Smith.

Not all photographers have a dedicated indoor studio, yet sometimes you need to shoot a session indoors. Maybe it’s freezing outside, and you don’t want to be out in that weather. Maybe you just want something fresh and a little quirky. Maybe a building has a special meaning to you or the person you are photographing.

Whatever your reasons, if you want to take indoor portraits, you’ll need to find that perfect indoor photoshoot location. And that’s what I’m going to share in this article: all my secrets for finding stunning locations (plus how to get permission to use them).

With any luck, they’ll help you find the perfect spot for your next session!

1. Always be on the lookout

Wherever you go, keep your “photography eyes” open. You may be surprised by how many places transform into a great location once you really start looking.

Some unique and exciting indoor photoshoot locations might include:

  • family photos in the library
  • model portfolio shots in a city building
  • engagement session in the laundromat
  • dance group session in a hotel lobby
  • mom and toddler portraits in a grocery store
  • bridal session in a grand old house, a museum, a quaint bed and breakfast, a roller-skating rink, a university building, a furniture store, a toy store, or a candy store (the list is endless!)

Look for great lighting, open spaces, interesting backgrounds, and fun things to interact with. Consider whether there are lots of people you might end up disturbing, or whether it’s a relatively calm place where you can photograph in peace.

Use your imagination and creativity to turn the ordinary into something extraordinary.

2. Always ask permission

Once you’ve found a place you’d like to use for a photoshoot, make sure you ask permission before you bring a client there.

I find that asking in person is usually best; the staff/owner can see who they’re talking to, and they’ll be much less resistant if they can see your smiling, friendly face. If you do need to ask over the phone, be professional and friendly. Remember, they need to feel comfortable with you coming in, camera setup and model/client in tow.

If you like a location but aren’t sure who owns it, check city or county records, or ask a neighboring building if they know the owner. It might take time and effort, but you should always find out who owns the property before shooting. It gives all photographers a bad name if you trespass.

In fact, I’ve had many photoshoots where I call to ask permission, and the owner thanks me profusely for bothering to ask. They usually express their frustration with other photographers who just start shooting without asking. (They allow me to photograph on their property, so obviously they don’t mind people being there, but they always appreciate being asked first.)

Also, note that some locations, like museums or theme parks, are fine with you taking photographs inside, but you’ll have to pay the entrance fee.

Other places charge a fee for photography and some don’t allow photographers at all. If you whip your camera out in either of those types of places without asking permission first, you could be fined huge amounts. It’s not worth it. Ask, and if you get declined, just move on and find another place.

Remember: It never hurts to ask. Most of the time you’ll be granted permission – and owners are often pleased that you think their building is worthy of being an indoor photoshoot location.

3. Find an owner who will also benefit

I needed a place to have adorable kids come for Valentine’s Day photos, but I didn’t know who would want multiple kids and families traipsing in and out of their establishment. Then I came across an adorable little candy shop; it was was decorated perfectly, plus it was full of delicious sweets and treats.

In the end, my photography clients came in and out all day for their sessions, and they ended up buying lots of candy in the process. Many who came had never noticed the little hometown shop with homemade caramel apples and every kind of candy you can think of. They were happy to have discovered it. I ended up with a great place for my Valentine’s Day photos, and the owner got a lot of new business.

Look for places that might benefit from your photoshoot, and chances are the owner will be more than happy to let you use their location (free of charge).

Also, many small, locally-owned places need a couple of photos of their establishment for websites and advertising purposes, or maybe even a quick headshot, and would be thrilled to let you photograph there in exchange for a photo or two.

4. Explore your connections

Do you have a friend who owns a quaint little bed and breakfast? Do they work at a museum? If you get hired to photograph that friend, you may be able to get your foot in the door and photograph at that location.

Then, if the photoshoot goes well, your friend/client may be okay with you bringing other people back to the property!

You can also think about your broader friend network. You might not be planning to photograph your best friend, but they may still have a connection to a property that you could use for your shoots.

That said, be careful not to ask for too much, and be careful not to put anyone in an uncomfortable position. If you sense that a friend is hesitant about letting you use a location, don’t push it. A little respect goes a long way, and you don’t want to be the photographer who people avoid at all costs. Relationships are more important than having a cool place to photograph, so be extra sensitive when following this advice.

5. Be the best guest

Once you’ve gotten permission to use a place, never, never, ever let anything get destroyed or damaged. The whole location should be left exactly how you found it.

If you need to move something out of the way, ask if it’s okay first. Then, when you’re done, put it back.

Be mindful of what is going on around you, especially if you are photographing kids. You are responsible for what happens during your session, and you never want to pay a big repair bill or lose a friendship because you were careless.

Remember: When you use public or private property for photos, you are not only representing yourself but also all photographers. If you make it a horrible experience for the owners, you’ll destroy the opportunity for future sessions for yourself and for all other photographers who might think to ask permission.

Please don’t be a careless photographer who ruins it for everyone. Instead, leave such a great impression that all photographers are welcomed with open arms.

Secrets for finding indoor photoshoot locations: final words

Well, there you have it:

Five ways to find the perfect indoor photoshoot location. If you follow the tips I’ve given above, you’re bound to discover some gorgeous locations – and you’ll be able to use them for years to come.

Now over to you:

Do you have any other tips for finding great indoor portrait locations? Have you found any gems? Please share your comments and images of your favorite spots below!

The post 5 Secrets for Finding Great Indoor Photoshoot Locations appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Melinda Smith.

The Weekly Photography Challenge – Food

Fri, 06/25/2021 - 16:00

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

Food photography comes in many shapes and sizes, from a phone in a cafe capturing your coffee, to high-end cookbooks and beyond. This week your challenge, thanks to our dPS Group member, Julia, is food! And it can be anything that’s food related (not drinks, that’s in a few weeks)

Share your photographs in the comments section under this post (Details at the bottom) or on social media and make sure you tag us in your post and include the hashtag #dPSFoodChallenge

We have SO many great food photography tips and articles on our website, I’ve made a small collection for you.

Food Photography Tips and Tricks? Click Here For The Lot

I personally love food photography (I’m still learning!) and I can’t wait to see what you all photograph and share! Remember, the dPS Photo Challenges are about pusing yourselves to make a new photograph, so I will be doing that, too! I have a couple of ideas in mind and will venture out to grab a photograph or two!

Your ‘Food’ photograph could also incorporate the process of food, above the chef was getting ready to toss something over the flame – looks fun, don’t singe your eyebrows!

Now, how do you post your photograph in the comments under this post? Here’s the deal… Upload your photo into the comments field below this post (look for the little camera icon in the Disqus comments section below this post) and they’ll get embedded for us all to see. Or, if you’d prefer, upload them to your favourite photo-sharing site and leave the link to them.

If you do get stuck, you can contact our friendly (mostly!… ok, well.. after coffee he’s ok!) support guy. He’s on the email ?

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

Canon to “Soon” Announce Three New RF Lenses (Including the 14-35mm f/4L)

Fri, 06/25/2021 - 06:00

The post Canon to “Soon” Announce Three New RF Lenses (Including the 14-35mm f/4L) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Over the next handful of months, Canon will release at least three new RF-mount lenses, according to Canon Rumors. They are:

  • The Canon RF 14-35mm f/4L IS USM
  • The Canon RF 70-400mm IS USM (maximum aperture unknown, but potentially f/5.6-7.1)
  • The Canon RF 16mm f/2.8

While the new glass is unconfirmed by Canon, Canon Rumors shares a few details (as well as some helpful guesses). 

Let’s take a closer look at each item, starting with:

Canon RF 14-35mm f/4L IS USM

As explained by Canon Rumors, “expect to see a Canon RF 14-35mm f/4L IS USM as a little brother to the Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM.” 

On the wide end, the lens will offer a breathtaking perspective for landscapes, urban scenics, and architectural photos; on the long end, the lens will feature a conventional 35mm focal length, perfect for tighter landscapes and even the occasional portrait. Plus, you’ll get a respectable f/4 maximum aperture – not enough for easy ultra-shallow depth of field effects or astrophotography, but absolutely usable for standard landscape scenarios assuming you bring your tripod.

Note that the 14-35mm will feature Canon’s “L” lens designation, so you can expect top-notch image quality rivaling some of the best glass on the market. Add in the image stabilization, and you’ve got yourself a relatively versatile wide-angle zoom, perfect for landscape photographers, travel photographers, and more.

Canon RF 70-400mm (maybe f/5.6-7.1) IS USM

The RF 70-400mm will be Canon’s second super-telephoto zoom designed for the RF mount, following in the footsteps of the powerful RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1

But while the 100-500mm is an L lens – designed for professionals and with a price to match – the 70-400mm will likely be a more casual, portable option. According to Canon Rumors, there’s no “L” label on the 70-400mm, though you can expect image stabilization and a (consistently fast) USM autofocusing motor for wildlife and sports

While I can only speculate, I suspect the 70-400mm is designed for frequent travelers in need of a portable “do-anything” telephoto, as well as for enthusiast bird and wildlife photographers. Interestingly, Canon offers an EF-mount counterpart, the much-loved 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM. Yet the 100-400mm is an L lens, offers an f/5.6 maximum aperture at 400mm, and is very pricey, none of which is likely for the 70-400mm. It’ll be interesting to see how the two lenses stack up and whether Canon’s new lens will venture into the sub-$1000 “budget” superzoom range.

Canon RF 16mm f/2.8 

The RF 16mm f/2.8 “is a non-L prime lens,” explains Canon Rumors, and will be especially useful as “a nice and compact 25mm f/2.8…if an APS-C RF-mount camera is coming.”

Still, expect a lens compatible with Canon’s full-frame mirrorless stable. At 16mm, you’ll capture beautiful landscapes and architecture, as well as travel and street photos with an unusually wide perspective. And thanks to the f/2.8 aperture, the RF 16mm should be suitable for serious astrophotography. 

At the very least, you can expect a relatively inexpensive, compact lens for Canon’s up-and-coming mirrorless shooters.

Canon to announce three new lenses: final words

Assuming Canon can deliver on expectations discussed above, these three lenses should satisfy plenty of enthusiasts and even the occasional professional. 

If you’re a photographer seeking a nice wide-angle perspective for serious landscape work, keep an eye out for the RF 14-35mm, which will cover all but the widest of landscape focal lengths and offer top-notch image quality to boot. 

For enthusiasts in need of an all-purpose telephoto zoom, the 70-400mm will be the lens to beat, though I’d recommend you consider image quality reports before buying.

And if you’re in need of a compact, lightweight, ultra-wide prime, the 16mm f/2.8 should be worth a look.

Now over to you:

What do you think of these rumored lenses from Canon? Do any interest you? Do you wish that Canon had prioritized different lenses? Which ones? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

The post Canon to “Soon” Announce Three New RF Lenses (Including the 14-35mm f/4L) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

12 Phone Photography Ideas for Fun Photo Outings

Thu, 06/24/2021 - 06:00

The post 12 Phone Photography Ideas for Fun Photo Outings appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Anthony Epes.

I will be honest: I didn’t want to love taking photos with my phone. But then I fell in love with having a small, portable camera at hand at all times, and I was both shocked and exhilarated by what my photography could become with an extra piece of kit in my pocket.

And you can fall in love with phone photography, too! That’s why, in this article, I’m going to share 12 phone photography ideas – so you can have plenty of fun with your phone camera and start capturing some amazing mobile photos.

(I’ll also share plenty of practical tips along the way!)

Let’s get started.

1. Photograph the light

“Light makes photography. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography.”

George Eastman

If you ask me what I like to shoot, I will answer: light. Light is the number one subject in all of my photos. 

I don’t really care what I am shooting; my eternal search and my greatest passion is light. That is why I am not a genre-specific photographer – I always think of light as my subject.

I love light in all of its formations – the subdued winter light when the cloud cover is thick, which creates a feeling of melancholy. Dappled spring light making shapes on a brick wall, which feels fresh and joyful and fun. The hard light of a summer’s afternoon, creating cutting shadows and making the world look flat.

If I were to offer one piece of advice for phone photography, it would be to get to know light. You may think you already know light, but most people don’t notice the endless variations of light all around them. 

Become familiar with how light behaves and what it’s doing to your subject, and your photography will automatically take big leaps forward. 

Tip: To make sure your photos aren’t under- or over-exposed (i.e., too dark or too bright), you can manually adjust the exposure (brightness). Most good phone cameras allow you to do this. It’s usually as simple as tapping on the phone where you’d like to focus; an exposure slider will appear, and you can make the image lighter or darker from there.

2. Look for interesting textures 

Textures make up the world. They are everywhere, and they can be infinitely fascinating.

Exploring textures can help us find beauty in even the most mundane of subjects. I like to look for textures at my feet, on walls, and around buildings. I look for natural textures, too, such as slick shiny stones or porous old wood. 

Textures are all around, so explore them with your phone camera! 

For me, the key to getting the best shots is to use the natural qualities of our phones to improve the composition. Specifically, phones are amazingly mobile; I am always bending down and shooting reflections in puddles, or delving into corners or crevasses, finding little tufts of grass or cool patterns.

So use the mobility of your phone camera to help you change perspective. Seek new and interesting angles that reveal cool textures!

I also make sure the light is interesting when I shoot these textures. Interesting light makes every subject interesting!

Tip: Make sure your subject is in focus. (It’s something people often forget with phone photography.) To set the focus, simply tap the part of the scene you want to stay sharp, and your phone will do the rest of the work!

3. Use the rule of thirds

The rule of thirds is one of my favorite compositional rules. It lets you compose interesting shots, and it’s a helpful way to determine where to place key elements in a scene.

So here’s how it works:

Divide the frame into thirds both horizontally and vertically. You’ll end up with a grid of nine equal parts, like this:

Then place your subjects and supporting elements along the different lines and intersection points. This will prevent your photos from becoming too boring – including a subject sitting in the left or right third of the image, with another element in the opposite space, can be a lot more interesting than a centered subject. 

Can you see how this photo is separated into thirds? 

Tip: All phones have a built-in camera grid (i.e., a rule of thirds overlay!). This can be super useful when you’re composing with the rule of thirds. So go to the camera settings, find the grid option, turn it on, and compose away!

4. Don’t be afraid to photograph landscapes

In general, landscape photography is considered very technically demanding, and landscape photographers tend to own some of the biggest, priciest gear available. Yet I was astonished by the quality of the landscape photos I captured in Vietnam with my phone. Of course, it helps to have an astonishing landscape in front of you, but it also has to do with phone cameras and their now-impressive capabilities.

So give it a try and experiment with landscape photography. 

I recommend shooting landscapes during the early morning or late afternoon/evening golden hours. I’d also recommend heading out during interesting weather – clouds generally add an interesting texture to the sky, for instance.

Try composing your scene with layers – specifically, it helps to find foreground, midground, and background points of interest to create depth. That’s what I did for the photo below:

Tip: I have a tiny tripod that my kids bought for making stop-motion films. It’s super useful for low-light landscapes (you can combine it with your phone’s self-timer to prevent camera shake). 

5. Shoot panoramas

Capturing a panorama on your phone is so easy – you simply activate the Pano setting, and your phone does all the work for you. It will either ask you to move the camera across the scene or to take several photos which it then stitches together. Super cool!

I love panoramas because it’s hard to capture the full scale and wonder of a landscape without seeing the vastness of the location. Panos are particularly useful for city shooting, where it’s often tough to capture the expanse of a view in a single frame. 

Tip: It may sound obvious, but for the best image quality, clean your lens. Phones sit in pockets and bags attracting all kinds of dust and dirt, and this makes the lens get dirty, fast. Blow the lens to remove any grit, then wipe with a soft cloth.

6. Take selfies

I used to really dislike selfies. But then I realized they’re a great way to record myself in the places I travel to. I don’t know about you, but I am always the photographer in my family or friend group – which means I almost never have my photo taken! 

I also think shooting ourselves puts us more in touch with the experience of shooting portraits and helps us empathize with our subjects. Most people don’t mind having their photos taken, but there are people who are reluctant. So experiencing life on the other side of the camera is immensely useful when trying to put portrait subjects at ease. 

Tip: Try shooting yourself in reflections. It adds to the playful feeling of a selfie!

7. Look for color

Color is joy. One does not think of joy. One is carried by it.

Ernst Haas

For me, color is a key language in photography. Color is powerful; it can communicate feelings and atmosphere. It can even tell stories. I love to encourage people to play with color and discover the emotions and meanings different colors bring to their images. 

It’s definitely worth investigating what the colors in your photos mean to you!

Tip: If you want to get more control over color and go a little deeper with your editing, use the Snapseed app (for Android or iOS); it’s very powerful, and it’s also free!

8. Drop your expectations about what you want to see

One of the greatest enemies of finding interesting photos is your expectations.

This is especially true when you arrive in a famous location. You might expect to capture certain iconic places. You may even have a few specific shots lined up in your head.

Here’s the problem:

When you have expectations, you are essentially focusing your attention on the obvious. You’re limiting your awareness so that you may fail to see what is truly in the location around you.

If you expect to see certain things, your brain focuses on those things and blocks out other visual information. For example, if you’re going to Paris, you may fixate on obtaining a good Eiffel Tower shot. So you fixate on the Eiffel Tower – yet you don’t see all of the interesting subjects surrounding it, which may offer a better shot, better angle, or better elements.

This problem sounds simple, but I see it time and time again on my workshops: people tunnel-visioned by their expectations. Drop the expectations, focus on finding original shots, and you will see so much more. 

9. Take your time, wander, and get lost

Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.

Pablo Picasso

Without a big camera around your neck, when you go out wandering, you could be anyone doing anything. You can blend into the background and nobody will see you as a photographer. It’s a freeing experience, and it lets you capture more honest, authentic moments.

To me, using a camera phone is all about roaming, getting lost, and figuring out how to photograph the place at which you end up. So take your phone, wander, and have fun. Then try to absorb the atmosphere and life of each place you choose to shoot. 

Tip: Investigate your phone camera’s hardware and software. Many phones have added lenses and offer more control with every iteration. So check out your phone manual or look up the specs online. 

10. Photograph the moments of life

Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second.

Marc Riboud

Did you know that you can use photography to create something extraordinary from your life at any moment? Focusing parts of our life on creating and not just consuming or doing brings so many benefits.

This is where using a phone camera to keep a diary of the interesting moments of your life really comes into play. Personally, I want to savor my life. I want to weave being creative into my everyday activity!

So look around you. Appreciate what’s going on. And photograph moments of interest.

Now, when you always have a camera at hand, it can be tempting to just snap away and record everything you do. I don’t encourage that. Instead, live the moment, be in the moment, and – at times – use your camera to be intentionally creative.

Tip: When I am shooting fast-moving subjects – like my kids! – my phone’s burst mode offers a great way to get the subject in motion. Depending on your phone, you may be able to hold down the shutter button and capture a burst (and if that doesn’t work, check your manual for instructions specific to your phone).

11. Look for emotion

Photography for me is not looking, it’s feeling. If you can’t feel what you’re looking at, then you’re never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures.

Don McCullin

Admit it: Most photos you see on social media or on your camera roll are boring. But why?

One very common reason is that they lack any type of feeling; they have no emotional impact. The photos are flat and uninteresting because the photographer was so busy focusing on the technical aspects of shooting, or on the subject and composition, that they forgot to include that magical element of emotion

Humans are emotional beings, and we communicate through our emotions (just think about how adverts play on our emotions and manipulate us into wanting to buy stuff!).

It boils down to this: If you stand in front of your subject and don’t feel anything, it’s unlikely your future viewers will feel anything, either.

So look for subjects, places, people, things that make you feel something. It’s an easy way to figure out what to shoot. And you can feel any emotion: sadness, joy, awe, excitement, or delight. 

Tip: Most up-to-date phones now come with a Night mode, and it helps the camera compensate for limited light. With Night mode on, you can do handheld shooting even at night. On most phones, you need to manually activate Night mode (but iPhones will do it automatically when they sense the low-light conditions). 

12. Train your eye with mini-seeing projects

To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place…I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.

Elliott Erwitt

There are billions of pieces of visual information around us at all times. But our brains block most of it out – otherwise, instead of getting to the task at hand, we’d be constantly looking around and feeling overwhelmed by all that we see.

While blocking out all this visual noise is helpful for getting things done, it’s not helpful when we are trying to discover interesting shots. We want to see more of what’s around us. We want to open up our awareness.

I recommend using mini-seeing projects to help you do this. Specifically, pick a subject – and take a picture every time you encounter it. Yellow cars, discarded gloves, people with red hair, snail trails; the world is full of items worth noticing!

You’ll soon start to see how much you miss because you are basically just distracted with your life. 

I always have something like this going on. I’m currently collecting photos of torn posters, interesting cloud formations, and things crushed in the street. It’s a really fun way to develop your seeing skills. 

And of course, phones are a great way to do these mini seeing projects, because you can carry one with you at all times!

12 phone photography ideas: final words

So that’s it for my phone photography ideas! Hopefully, you’ll feel more excited and liberated as you go out and shoot with your phone.

Now over to you:

Do you have any additional phone photography ideas? Do you have any mobile photos you’re proud of? Share your thoughts (and images!) in the comments below.

The post 12 Phone Photography Ideas for Fun Photo Outings appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Anthony Epes.

Adobe Camera Raw vs Lightroom: Which Is Best in 2021?

Wed, 06/23/2021 - 06:00

The post Adobe Camera Raw vs Lightroom: Which Is Best in 2021? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.

Are you trying to decide between Adobe Camera Raw vs Lightroom but you keep getting confused? This used to happen to me, too – because to understand ACR and what it offers, you have to understand the program that hosts it (either Photoshop or Bridge).

That’s also why some people haven’t even heard of Adobe Camera Raw even though they’re using it; it’s the program designed by Adobe to develop RAW files, so it’s integrated into all Adobe photo-editing programs, including Lightroom.

As you read through this article, you’ll notice that ACR and Lightroom look very similar. Both of them allow you to process your photos and make adjustments to color and exposure. You can also correct perspective, fix lens distortions, and apply effects such as a vignette or split toning.

So what’s the difference? Keep reading to find out!

Whether you know Adobe Camera Raw or not and whether you shoot in RAW format or not (I hope you do!), this article can help you choose which editing program works best for you.

Adobe Camera Raw vs Lightroom: overview

Adobe Camera Raw was first launched in 2003 to develop RAW files. It can be supported by Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Bridge, and After Effects.

Lightroom was based on Adobe Camera Raw and was initially released in 2007. As such, both programs share the same RAW processing technology. And in recent updates, Lightroom and ACR have started to look quite similar.

That said, if you want to use ACR, you need another software program to host it. Lightroom, on the other hand, is a one-program solution. It’s the reason why making a comparison between Lightroom and Camera Raw is so difficult – you’re comparing a plugin to a full-fledged software program.

Ultimately, there are two major comparisons you can make:

  1. If you want to know which program to use for serious photo editing, you need to consider Lightroom vs Adobe Camera Raw in Photoshop.
  2. If you want to know which program to use for file management and basic editing, the comparison is between Lightroom vs Adobe Camera Raw in Bridge.

That’s why, to avoid confusion, this article is structured in terms of features and workflows. Then I’ll wrap things up by telling you which program wins (in my opinion) considering the needs of different photographers.

Access and interface Lightroom

The first big difference between Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw is that Lightroom is a standalone program. You can get an Adobe subscription and have access to Lightroom, Lightroom Classic, and Lightroom Mobile.

The individual subscription only allows for Lightroom to be installed on two devices, and files can only be accessed by one person at a time.

The interface is very user-friendly and streamlined. As a result, Lightroom is easy to use and has a smaller learning curve than Camera Raw.

When handling RAW files, Lightroom uses the same technology as Camera Raw. The results should therefore be the same but with a different interface.

Adobe Camera Raw

You can’t download and use Adobe Camera Raw on its own – you always have to use it through another Adobe app. These can be Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Bridge, or After Effects.

When you launch Adobe Camera Raw with these programs, you access the ACR interface. Since the most recent updates, ACR looks very similar to Lightroom. Because of this, the user experience is very similar. However, learning to use Bridge and Photoshop is more difficult than learning Lightroom.

Adobe Bridge can be installed on any number of computers and can be accessed by multiple contributors at a time. Photoshop, like Lightroom, can only be installed on two computers and can’t be used at the same time.

Files and formats Adobe Camera Raw

Adobe Camera Raw was developed with the idea of opening and editing RAW files. It therefore supports most raw file formats (you can find a complete list of cameras supported by ACR on the Adobe website). And you can use ACR to process other file formats such as JPEG and TIFF.

ACR + Photoshop

When you open a RAW file with Photoshop, it will automatically launch Adobe Camera Raw. Camera Raw can also be launched midway through your workflow in Photoshop as a filter.

ACR + Bridge

Bridge supports all sorts of file formats because it’s meant to be an asset manager for all of the Adobe apps. So it handles PDF files, AI files, PSD files, etc.

When you open a RAW file from Bridge, it will automatically launch Adobe Camera Raw. If you want to use ACR with other photography formats (such as JPEG), you can just right-click on the image and choose Open>Camera Raw.


Lightroom might share some photo-editing capabilities with Camera Raw, but it wasn’t developed specifically for RAW files – it was created to satisfy the needs of all photographers. As a result, you can import any type of photo with the same process regardless of the format.

Lightroom supports most RAW formats (including DNG), HEIF, TIFF files in 8, 16, and 32 bits, JPEG, PSD, PSB, CMYK, PNG, and some video formats.

Image editing and batch editing

The photo editing tools in Lightroom and Camera Raw are quite similar. Both offer basic color and exposure adjustments.

You can also do selective edits, crop and rotate, remove spots, correct perspective and chromatic aberration, etc. But there are a few differences, as discussed below:


One of the best things about Lightroom is the ability to sync your edits across multiple photos. After you’ve edited a single photo, you can tell Lightroom to sync all the edits with other photos in the catalog (or you can select just a few adjustments to sync).

Another way to apply the same edits to multiple pictures is by using presets. You can save your edits as a preset, or you can download presets from other photographers (some are free, others are for sale). You can then preview the presets just by hovering over them, which makes it easier to browse different effects.

A great Lightroom feature is that it retains a photo’s editing history, even if you close it and come back to your image another time. That way, you can always revert to an earlier version if you’re unhappy with your recent edits.

Lightroom does support video files, though you can do very little video editing (you can apply some presets and use the Quick Edits in the Library module).

Adobe Camera Raw

In Camera Raw, you can batch edit only if you decide to do so from the beginning. You simply open several images in ACR and select them. Then every adjustment you make will be applied to all the selected images.

If you want, you can save your edits as a preset and apply them to multiple photos inside Adobe Camera Raw. It’s also possible to buy or download ACR presets from other creators; however, there aren’t as many available as there are for Lightroom.

To edit video, you can use Camera Raw as a filter inside Photoshop CC – all the tools are enabled as if you were editing a photograph. And Photoshop allows you to edit the duration of the video, add text, graphics, and so much more.

With Adobe Camera Raw, if you want to come back to a certain point in your editing process, you need to save Snapshots as you go. These Snapshots get stored in an XMP file, so they’ll be available anytime you want them – as long as you remember to create them. Otherwise, there’s no way to go back in your editing history if you close and later re-open the file.

File management

This is one of the biggest differences between Lightroom and Camera Raw; Lightroom is an image manipulation and organization software, while Camera Raw is only for image manipulation. Therefore, you simply cannot manage your files with ACR (no file management features exist!). That’s why I’ll compare the workflow of Bridge plus Adobe Camera Raw vs Lightroom.

Both workflows allow you to organize, tag, and rate your files before or after editing. Adding keywords is also available in both programs.

Adobe Camera Raw + Bridge

Bridge is a file browser that you can use to manage all the files – not just the photographic ones – on your hard drive. Therefore, you’re working directly with your original files.

Because you’re only browsing existing files, loading is faster than Lightroom’s import process, though it takes longer if you need to search with keywords or you want to make collections.

Since Bridge supports many file types and gives access to more than one person at a time, it’s great for collaborative work in big teams, whether people are working on the same or different projects.

From Bridge, you can access Adobe Camera Raw to process your images – RAW and otherwise. All the edits are saved in a sidecar file (ACR creates one for every photo). Having the edits in separate files is what makes the adjustments in ACR a non-destructive process. Separate files can also store presets.


Lightroom is a database program. When you import your images, you can access them even if they are offline, you can sync them across devices (if you use Lightroom CC), and you can keep your original files intact.

Importing your images can be a slow process, as Lightroom uploads the files and creates high-resolution previews (you have several options here). However, once the import process is complete, searching and organizing your files is faster than in Bridge.

Note that edits done in Lightroom and uploaded to the Cloud can be accessed from other devices that share the account, because all the files and edits are stored in one place. Edits can also be saved as presets for a more efficient workflow.

Adobe Camera Raw vs Lightroom: Which program is best in 2021?

As you’ve probably gathered, there’s not a clear answer to the Adobe Camera Raw vs Lightroom question. The program that’s best depends on your workflow and personal preferences.

If you’re a beginner photographer, Lightroom might be better for you, as it’s more user-friendly and has a smaller learning curve. Also, if you like using presets, you’ll find plenty of great options for Lightroom users. If you don’t plan to do advanced photo retouching, you can even get by without Photoshop.

For event photographers who need to cull, keyword, and batch-edit large amounts of pictures, Lightroom has better organizing tools. Also, most websites allow direct uploading from Lightroom, which allows you to share images with your clients in a more efficient way.

On the other hand, photographers who also need to edit videos or do graphic design will appreciate Adobe Camera Raw. That’s because Bridge and Photoshop support more file types and offer more tools for advanced editing.

In terms of cost, the two programs are essentially identical. For $10 USD per month, you can grab Adobe’s Lightroom Plan (which includes access to Lightroom Classic and Lightroom CC, plus 1 TB of cloud storage). Alternatively – and also for $10 USD per month – you can purchase Adobe’s Photography Plan, which includes Lightroom Classic, Lightroom CC, and Photoshop CC (with Adobe Camera Raw), though cloud storage is limited to 20 GB.

Of course, you can also use both Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom according to the needs of each project – that’s what I do!

Now over to you:

What do you think of Adobe Camera Raw? How does it compare to Lightroom? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Adobe Camera Raw vs Lightroom FAQs Is Adobe Camera Raw free?

Not really. While you don’t pay for Adobe Camera Raw specifically, accessing the full program requires a Photoshop subscription.

How do I use Adobe Camera Raw with Lightroom?

Whenever you import a RAW file, Lightroom automatically uses ACR – you don’t have to do anything extra because ACR is built into Lightroom’s editing engine.

How do I use Adobe Camera Raw with Photoshop?

When you open a RAW file in Photoshop, it will automatically launch ACR. You can also use Adobe Camera Raw as a filter at any time while in Photoshop.

What is the difference between Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop’s Camera Raw filter?

The Camera Raw filter has fewer tools than ACR. Also, you can use the filter to modify a layer in a document, but it cannot modify the document properties.

Can I use Adobe Camera Raw by itself?

No. ACR is a plugin that needs to be hosted by another program – you can use it with Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Bridge, and After Effects.

The post Adobe Camera Raw vs Lightroom: Which Is Best in 2021? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.

Black and White Photography: A Beginner’s Guide to Getting Started

Tue, 06/22/2021 - 06:00

The post Black and White Photography: A Beginner’s Guide to Getting Started appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Andrew S. Gibson.

If you’ve never tried black and white photography before, you may feel a bit intimidated. After all, how do you get started? Should you be shooting black and white on your camera, or should you be converting color images to black and white? And how can you create stunning black and white images, anyway?

In this article, I aim to answer all those questions. I’ll explain the value of black and white, how to do it, plus I’ll share some tips along the way!

Why is black and white photography important?

In the photographic world, black and white is an art form of its own. Some would even say the best photographers work in monochrome. It’s a medium with a rich history; look at the work of Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, or Henri Cartier-Bresson for some truly stunning examples.

Just as importantly, working in black and white can help you become a better photographer. 


It’s all about seeing.

Color is very powerful. It tends to dominate photos – to the point that beginners struggle to see other key elements like contrast, texture, shape, form, and quality of light.

Experienced photographers instinctively see these things, regardless of whether they work in color or black and white. But if you’re just starting out, you may need some assistance. Black and white strips away color, allowing you to focus on the other elements that matter.

Black and white emphasizes the textures of the rocks and sea in this landscape photo.

Naturally, there are certain subjects that tend to work better than others in black and white. In particular, black and white lends itself to landscapes and portraits.

So if this is your first time shooting in black and white, then those are great starter subjects!

Black and white portraits emphasize expression and light. How to shoot in black and white

Before digital photography, the only way to work in black and white was to use black and white film.

But these days, you have two options:

  1. You can shoot in color and convert your photos to black and white in Lightroom, Photoshop, or some other post-processing program.
  2. You can switch your camera to its Monochrome mode.

I highly recommend you choose the second option, and here’s why:

By shooting in black and white from the beginning, you’ll get black and white previews on your camera’s LCD. You’ll also be able to see in black and white via your camera’s Live View mode. And if you use a mirrorless camera, you can look through a black and white viewfinder – so you know exactly how the different colors will convert before you press the shutter button.

(If you’re not sure how to switch your camera to black and white, check your camera’s manual. Don’t worry; it’s not difficult!)

One last piece of advice here:

Shoot in RAW, not JPEG (or shoot in RAW+JPEG, which will give you a file in each format every time you press the shutter button).

RAW essentially offers you insurance. If you decide you don’t like your shot in black and white, your RAW files can be reverted back to color with the click of a mouse. And if you decide to extensively edit your photos in post-processing, RAW gives you a lot of flexibility.

However, if you’re new to photography, I recognize that you may want to work exclusively in JPEG, and that’s okay. Just know that you’ll probably want to switch to RAW eventually (it’ll deliver better image quality in the long run).

Working in Monochrome mode

As explained above, I highly recommend you set your camera to Monochrome mode. And to get basic black and white shots, that’s all you need to do.

However, once you’re in Monochrome mode, you may have color filter options. And through careful application of these filters, you can capture even better black and white shots.

Color filters

The color filter settings come from the days of film photography. Photographers would use color filters to alter the tones in black and white photos. These days, digital photographers rarely work with physical color filters – instead, they use camera software or post-processing to mimic filter effects.

Your camera likely includes a few color filter options. For instance, you might use a yellow or orange filter to darken a blue sky or a red filter to turn it nearly black.

Here’s a shot before adding a color filter:

This scene works quite well in black and white, but it’s not nearly as dramatic as it could be.

And here’s the shot after applying a red filter:

Applying the red filter setting makes the blue sky go much darker, creating a dramatic version of the same scene.

There is also a place for green filters, which can bring out more detail in green subjects like leafy forests.

Those four colored filters (red, orange, yellow, and green) have made their way onto most digital cameras as black and white settings.

Quick tip: Don’t forget about contrast!

If you take a photo in dull light – in shade, for instance, or under a cloudy sky – the photo may look flat (i.e., two-dimensional), especially in black and white.

So what do you do?

You compensate by increasing the contrast. A contrast boost will deepen the shadows, brighten the highlights, and make your main subject pop!

Here’s a portrait without a contrast adjustment:

The model was standing in the shade when I took this photo. The light lacks contrast, and the black and white photo is flat.

And here’s the same portrait, but with a contrast boost:

Increasing contrast creates a much stronger image.

To my eye, the final (adjusted) result is much more powerful.

You can increase the contrast after the photo has been taken (in Photoshop or Lightroom), or you can do it in-camera by adjusting the contrast setting (see your manual if you’re not sure how to do this!).

Composing in black and white

Remember how I said black and white forces you to think about other key elements, such as shape and form?

It’s true. And it’s the reason why composition becomes so important when shooting in black and white.

Unfortunately, there’s not really a quick solution to capturing good compositions; a lot of it just depends on your ability to see shapes, lines, and textures (which you can develop through practice or study or simply by looking at great photography).

However, there is one item that can improve your black and white compositions:

The aspect ratio.

You see, certain aspect ratios (such as the 1:1, or square format) make composition easier. Whereas other aspect ratios (such as most cameras’ native 3:2 ratio) make composition tricky.

So after you’ve set your camera to Monochrome mode, I recommend heading into the settings and changing the aspect ratio to Square. It’ll improve the way you frame scenes (and if your camera has an electronic viewfinder, it’ll let you see the new aspect ratio in real-time!).

Cropping to the square format emphasized the shapes of these three pots. Toning in black and white

Toning is the process of adding color to your images, but only after they’ve been converted to black and white.

This can give very cool effects – for instance, it can turn your shots yellow or purple or red.

Now, your camera may allow you to tone your photos when you take them. But the effect is usually very heavy-handed, which is why I recommend you avoid in-camera toning.

Instead, test out toning in post-processing. You can have lots of fun applying a single tone to your images (such as a nice sepia). And if you want to get really creative, you can add multiple tones, an effect called split toning.

Black and white photography: final words

Black and white is a beautiful medium to work in, one that you will appreciate even more as your skills grow.

In the meantime, have fun and enjoy yourself. You are following a path trodden by some of the most famous names in photography!

Now over to you:

Have you tried shooting in black and white before? How did it go? Do you have any favorite black and white subjects? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

The post Black and White Photography: A Beginner’s Guide to Getting Started appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Andrew S. Gibson.

How to Shoot in Manual Mode (+ Cheat Sheets for Beginners)

Mon, 06/21/2021 - 06:00

The post How to Shoot in Manual Mode (+ Cheat Sheets for Beginners) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Antonio Leanza.

Want to use and understand Manual mode like a pro? In this article, I’m going to explain everything you need to know about shooting in Manual, including:

  • What it actually is
  • How to use it for amazing results
  • Why Manual mode might (or might not!) be a good idea

I’ll also share with you a few helpful camera settings cheat sheets, courtesy of the London School of Photography.

So if you’re ready to become a Manual mode master, then let’s get started!

What is Manual mode in photography?

Manual mode gives you complete control over your camera settings. Once your camera is set to Manual, you can adjust different settings and even control your flash.

Most importantly, shooting in Manual lets you independently adjust the three key exposure variables:

  1. ISO
  2. Aperture
  3. Shutter speed

Together, the ISO, aperture, and shutter speed determine the overall brightness of your photos (i.e., the exposure). They also affect your photos in other key ways – by adjusting the sharpness, depth of field, and overall image quality.

That’s what makes Manual mode so powerful. In Manual, you can make your photos appear exactly as dark or light as you want. You can also ensure perfect sharpness, create different depth of field effects, and keep your low-light photos looking high quality.

Now let’s explore these three settings in more detail:


Simply put, ISO controls your camera’s sensitivity to light.

So by adjusting the ISO, you can increase your camera’s light sensitivity which will, in turn, give you a brighter image.

Say you’re shooting at night and your shots keep turning out too dark. If you’re working in Manual mode, you can boost your ISO – and your images will instantly brighten up.

A low-light image like this one can benefit from a high ISO.

On the flip side, if you’re shooting on a sunny day and you want to reduce your exposure, you can drop the ISO to achieve a darker result.

Unfortunately, ISO does come with a significant drawback. As illustrated by the ISO cheat sheet below, the higher the ISO, the noisier your photos become. Noise rarely looks good, and it’s an easy way to ruin an otherwise great image.

For that reason, I generally recommend you leave your ISO on its lowest value unless you specifically need to raise it (e.g., you’re shooting in low light).


The aperture is an opening in the lens. The wider the aperture, the more light it lets in and the brighter the resulting exposure (see the aperture cheat sheet below):

Note that photographers use f-stops to refer to aperture sizes, where a smaller f-stop refers to a larger aperture and vice versa.

So an aperture of f/1.4 lets in a lot of light, giving you a brighter image. An aperture of f/22 lets in very little light, producing a darker image. Make sense?

Aperture is also responsible for controlling the depth of field – the amount of your image that is in focus. The larger the aperture, the smaller the depth of field.

Here’s an image with a shallow depth of field (shot at f/2.8 or so):

And here’s an image with a deep depth of field (shot around f/11):

See the difference? The wide aperture ensured a very blurry background (though a portion of the flower is still sharp). The narrow aperture, on the other hand, kept the shot sharp from foreground to background.

So if you want a nice, blurry background, you can use Manual mode to dial in a low f-number. And if you want a shot that’s sharp throughout, you can dial in a high f-number instead.

Shutter speed

Shutter speed is essentially the exposure time of an image; that is, how long the shutter stays open to allow light to hit the sensor.

The faster the shutter speed, the less light that hits the camera sensor and the darker the final image.

The shutter speed also determines image sharpness. A fast shutter speed freezes the action, while a slow shutter speed will produce motion blur:

In general, it pays to use a higher shutter speed to capture sharp images. But there are times when you might want to create motion blur for artistic effect, in which case a slower shutter speed is the way to go.

One extra setting: white balance

White balance is one final Manual mode setting worth learning.

It lets you remove color casts from your scene – and by adjusting the white balance, you can achieve neutral white tones. (It’s especially useful for removing harsh yellow tones or redness on the skin.)

White balance can be used in unconventional ways to get different creative results. For example, you can use the Tungsten white balance preset on an overcast day to produce blue hues and enhance contrast. Or you can use the Shade white balance preset at sunset to enhance the golden light.

Therefore, it’s highly beneficial to experiment with the various white balance modes; you never know what creative looks you might produce!

How to use Manual mode: a three-step process

So, Manual mode lets you adjust your ISO, aperture, and shutter speed to get a well-exposed – or poorly-exposed – final image. (It also lets you adjust your white balance setting to remove color casts and produce creative effects.)

And once you’ve switched your camera to Manual mode, the goal is to carefully set your variables for the results you’re after. But how should you approach this? What’s the best way to go about determining the right Manual mode settings?

While there’s no single correct approach to adjusting settings in Manual, here’s my step-by-step advice:

Step 1: Set your aperture based on depth of field considerations

Do you want a shallow depth of field? Or a deep depth of field?

Start by dialing in your desired aperture. If you want a blurry background, pick a wide aperture. If you want a sharp background, pick a narrow aperture.

Step 2: Set your shutter speed for sharpness

Ask yourself:

How fast is my subject moving? What shutter speed do I need to keep it sharp?

Here, you might think about using the handy Reciprocal Rule, or you might estimate based on previous experiences. When shooting handheld, I rarely stray below 1/125s or so (and if my subject is moving quickly, 1/800s is my bottom limit).

Of course, if you’re after artistic blur or you’re using a tripod to photograph an unmoving subject, you’re free to lower your shutter speed to 1/30s and beyond.

Step 3: Set your ISO (and adjust your shutter speed/aperture) for the best exposure

At this point, you should have picked an aperture based on artistic considerations, and you should have a shutter speed dialed in for perfect sharpness.

So all that’s left is to nail the exposure, and I recommend you do it with your ISO, if possible (though you may also need to tweak your shutter speed and aperture).

Start by setting your ISO to its lowest value. This is generally ISO 100, but might be ISO 160, ISO 200, or ISO 50, depending on your camera.

Then simply point your camera at the scene you want to photograph and carefully observe the exposure bar at the bottom of your viewfinder. If the bar is showing underexposure (skewed to the left), you’ll need to increase your ISO until you get a centered exposure bar.

If the bar is showing overexposure (skewed to the right), you’ll need to either increase your shutter speed or narrow your aperture until you get a balanced exposure bar. Which setting you adjust doesn’t really matter – the key is to preserve any creative effects you want to produce. So if you’re using a wide aperture for a shallow depth of field, then boost your shutter speed instead. Whereas if you’re using a slow shutter speed for artistic motion blur, then narrow your aperture.

Should you always use Manual mode?

Manual mode is superb for many situations. It’ll help you step up your photography game and capture sharp, well-exposed, well-composed photos.

That said, there are plenty of times when you’ll want to choose a different camera mode instead, such as Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, or Program mode.

Manual mode is good if…
  1. You’re working in unchanging lighting conditions.
  2. You want complete control over your different exposure variables.
  3. You want to underexpose or overexpose your photos for creative effects.
  4. You’re shooting slow, deliberate photos (e.g., landscapes) and you have the time to carefully adjust your settings.
Manual mode is best avoided if…
  1. The light is changing rapidly or your subject is moving between sun and shade.
  2. You care about the aperture or the shutter speed, but your other settings are less important.
  3. You’re photographing action where nailing the autofocus is your primary concern (and your particular exposure settings take a backseat).
  4. You’re a beginner and don’t yet feel comfortable with the different exposure settings.
Other shooting modes

As you can gather from the lists above, Manual mode is great for situations where you need control over your settings and you have time to fiddle around with your camera dials. But you’ll want to avoid shooting in Manual if you’re dealing with fast-paced conditions and changing light, or you’re just not yet an experienced photographer.

In such cases, you’ll want to use a semi-automatic mode instead:

  • Aperture Priority mode lets you control the aperture and ISO while your camera selects the shutter speed. It’s great for situations where you want to set the depth of field, but you don’t want to spend too much time dealing with shutter speed. It’s also a good transitional mode if you’re not quite ready for Manual mode but you want to start experimenting with different settings.
  • Shutter Priority mode lets you control the shutter speed and ISO, while your camera selects the aperture (it’s like Aperture Priority, but reversed!). It’s useful in situations where you want to select a particular shutter speed for creative purposes, and you don’t particularly care about the aperture.
  • Program mode lets you control the ISO, and you can also adjust the exposure via your camera’s exposure compensation setting. It’s a great transitional mode when getting off Auto.
Manual mode: final words

Now that you’ve finished this article, you should be able to confidently use Manual mode in your own photography.

(Also, don’t forget to download the cheat sheets featured throughout!)

So head out! Practice working with different settings. And have fun!

The post How to Shoot in Manual Mode (+ Cheat Sheets for Beginners) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Antonio Leanza.

6 Tips for Setting the Focus in Your Landscape Photography

Sun, 06/20/2021 - 06:00

The post 6 Tips for Setting the Focus in Your Landscape Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jim Hamel.

For many types of photography, choosing where to focus is pretty simple. In portrait photography, you focus on the eyes. In wildlife photography, you focus on the animal.

But where should you focus in landscape photography? You’re generally capturing a scene, not a solitary subject – so how do you ensure that everything is as sharp as possible?

In this article, I’m going to share six tips for setting focus in your landscape photos. That way, the next time you’re faced with a tricky landscape scene, you’ll be able to come away with stunningly sharp results!

1. Don’t just set the focus at infinity

In landscape photography, you are trying to capture a scene, not a solitary thing. And many times, the scene you are trying to capture is far away from you (i.e., a distant mountain at sunset).

Now, most lenses have a range of focus values, and once you get beyond a certain distance (often 20-30 feet, or 8-10 meters) the focus will be set at infinity.

Therefore, if you are taking a picture where most of the scene is far away, you might guess that you should just set the focus at infinity. And if everything in the frame is truly at infinity, then this is not a bad idea. If there is nothing close to you, then there is just no need to do anything else; you don’t need to overly complicate things.

But the best compositions often include aspects of the scene that are closer to you than infinity. For instance, this shot below has a strong midground subject, which you’ll want to keep sharp:

If you set the focus on the distant sky (i.e., to infinity), the grass and lake will turn out soft. So in scenes with closer elements – like the landscape above – where should you set the focus?

You can get into the hyperfocal distance – we’ll talk more about that in a minute! – and make this as technical as you want. But when out shooting, your time is often precious. The light is changing and things are moving. So you probably don’t want to spend time doing calculations.

Instead, consider this rule of thumb:

Set the focus at infinity. Then just turn it back a little bit.

Of course, there’s an obvious question: How do you define a little bit?

I’m afraid I don’t have a good answer for you. It will vary from lens to lens, but it will usually be about a 5- or 10-degree turn or to the highest distance number printed on the lens (if your lens has these numbers, that is).

That way, you can have a bit of leeway. You’ll still get distant subjects in focus, but you’ll also maintain sharpness on midground objects, such as a lake (assuming you’re using a narrow aperture).

Unfortunately, this guideline won’t be a big help if you’re faced with close foreground subjects, as I discuss in the next section:

2. Try focusing a third of the way into the picture

Many pictures are ruined because the foreground is not sharp. It happens all the time.

And while the trick discussed above – focusing at infinity, then pulling the focus back slightly – will ensure a sharp background and a sharp midground, it probably won’t keep close foreground objects sharp.

So what do you do if your scene has close foreground elements?

Focus about a third of the way into the frame.

That way, you get the foreground elements sharp, but you get the background elements sharp, too.

So if your shot has rocks in the foreground, set your focus slightly past the first few rocks:

A sharp foreground makes the viewer feel like they can walk into the picture.

And if you have interesting vegetation in the foreground, focus just past it:

The goal is simple: focus a third of the way into the scene, even if it means setting the focus only a few feet in front of the lens.

“But wait a second!” you might say. “What about the background? If I focus on close foreground elements, won’t the background end up out of focus? Won’t it be blurry?”

Probably not! If you’re using a wide-angle lens and you’re using a decently narrow aperture (such as f/8 or f/11), then your background will still be in focus, even as the foreground remains tack-sharp.

3. Focus on the subject matter

In the previous tips, I’ve talked about setting focus to keep the entire shot sharp – but it’s important to remember the obvious:

When you have a definite subject or center of interest in your photo, just focus on that. It’s the most important part of your picture, you absolutely need it in focus, and nothing else (mostly) matters.

Don’t worry about your foreground, and don’t worry about your background. Just make sure the subject is in focus.

Yes, the foreground and/or background might end up blurry. But if there is a little fall-off in sharpness from your subject, that’s not a big deal; it may even look good!

Sometimes, you just want a definite subject in focus. In fact, background blur might not even be bad, such as in this sheep photo. 4. Don’t narrow your aperture too much

There are no free lunches in photography. You may already know that using a smaller aperture to get a larger depth of field will cost you light.

(Remember: In landscape photography, you’ll often need a small aperture to maximize depth of field. But because the small aperture lets in less light, you’ll need to increase your shutter speed – which risks blur unless you’re using a tripod.)

But ultra-small apertures come with another problem:


While the details are a bit technical, diffraction is essentially softness due to a too-small aperture. Shooting at f/8 is usually fine – but push your aperture to f/16, f/18, or f/22, and you’ll start to get a lot of softness. (Diffraction is especially problematic in cameras with small sensors and lots of megapixels.)

Therefore, just using the smallest aperture possible – even if you have a tripod to handle the increased shutter speed – isn’t always the answer. You cannot just set your focus anywhere and rely on a super-deep depth of field to save you.

There are two ways around this issue, though, which we’ll talk about in the final sections.

5. Know your hyperfocal distance

Hyperfocal distance is just a fancy name for determining how close you can set your focus while keeping your background acceptably sharp. There are apps and calculators that will tell you this distance; you just type in your aperture and focal length, then hit “Calculate.”

Using the hyperfocal distance is the most fail-safe method of keeping an entire landscape photo sharp. So when you’re dealing with a tricky scene – one with a very close foreground element as well as distant background elements – it’s often worth doing a hyperfocal distance calculation.

Then, once you know the hyperfocal distance for a particular focal length and aperture, you can tweak your settings and composition to get the best possible result. For instance, remember how I said that a too-small aperture will result in diffraction? If you need an aperture of f/22 to keep the scene sharp, you can always widen your focal length (and widen your aperture at the same time). Or you can take a few steps back to decrease the necessary aperture.

In other words: Knowing the hyperfocal distance lets you maximize depth of field with precision. You don’t have to use a narrow aperture in the hopes of getting everything sharp; instead, you’ll know exactly what aperture, focal length, and point of focus is necessary to get a perfect result.

Make sense?

For instance, if you’re using a 16mm lens on a full-frame camera with an aperture of f/11, your hyperfocal distance will be 2.5 ft (76 cm). That means you can set the focus on a point just in front of you, while still keeping everything behind that point (all the way to infinity!) sharp.

6. Consider focus stacking

Say you’re faced with a very deep scene, like the one below:

After doing some calculations, you may find that you need an aperture of f/22 or beyond to get everything sharp from the nearest foreground subject to the most distant background elements. And as I discussed above, that will cause blur due to diffraction.

Of course, you can accept the blur…

…or you can use another method, called focus stacking.

Here, you take multiple pictures of the same scene using different focus points. Then you blend them together in a program such as Photoshop.

(This is also a good strategy if you don’t have a hyperfocal distance calculator on hand or you don’t have time to calculate the hyperfocal distance, yet you want to make sure everything in your scene is sharp.)

Start by setting your lens to its sharpest aperture (generally in the range of f/5.6 to f/8). Mount your camera on a tripod to ensure the framing remains consistent.

Then take a series of shots while subtly adjusting the focus. The first image should have the focus set on your closest foreground subject. The next image should have its focus point beyond the foreground subject, the third image should have its focus point beyond that, and so on.

Note that you can set the focus manually – where you twist the manual focus ring with each shot – or you can change the autofocus point before shooting. Personally, I’m a fan of using manual focus for this type of work, but feel free to try both methods and see which you prefer.

You may be wondering:

How many shots do you need for a focus stack?

It depends on your scene. But landscape photographers will often use two shots for the most basic scenes (one for the foreground and one for the background), three shots when things get slightly deeper (one for the foreground, one for the midground, and one for the background), and five or more shots when things get deeper still.

Then, when you get back home, you can blend the shots in a post-processing program.

This method is not a cure-all. It can get tricky when photographing moving subjects, and it requires a tripod plus a lot of patience, especially if you’re shooting in low light.

Still, focus stacking can be a powerful tool for maintaining focus and sharpness throughout an entire landscape picture.

Setting the focus in landscape photography: final words

Now that you’ve finished this article, you should be able to confidently determine where to focus in your landscape scenes – even if you’re dealing with a lot of depth.

(And remember: If all else fails, focus stacking is an option.)

So go out and test your newfound focusing skills!

Now over to you:

Do you struggle to focus when shooting landscapes? Which of these strategies do you plan to try first? Share your thoughts (and images!) in the comments below.

The post 6 Tips for Setting the Focus in Your Landscape Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jim Hamel.

How to Make a Photo Essay: 5 Tips for Impactful Results

Sat, 06/19/2021 - 06:00

The post How to Make a Photo Essay: 5 Tips for Impactful Results appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Christina N Dickson.

Want to tell meaningful stories with your photos? That’s what a photo essay is all about: conveying concepts and narratives through a series of carefully chosen images.

While telling a story with photos can be a daunting task, there are several easy tips and techniques you can use in your photo essays to create striking, stunning, eye-opening results.

And that’s what I’m going to share in this article: five photo essay tips that you can immediately apply to your photography. You’ll leave as a better photo essayist than when you arrived!

Let’s get started.

What is a photo essay?

A photo essay is a collection of images placed in a specific order to convey certain emotions, specific concepts, or a progression of events.

In other words:

The photo essay tells stories just like a normal piece of writing, except with images instead of words. (Here, I’m using the term “story” loosely; as mentioned above, photo essays can encapsulate emotions or concepts in addition to traditional, time-based narratives.)

Plenty of world-class photojournalists use photo essays, including Lauren Greenfield, James Nachtwey, and Joachim Ladefoged. But the photo essay format isn’t exclusive to professionals, and photo essays don’t need to cover dramatic events such as wars, natural disasters, and social issues. Whether you are a complete beginner, a hobbyist, or a professional, the photo essay is a great way to bring your images to life, tell relevant stories about your own surroundings, and touch your family, friends, and coworkers.

So without further ado, let’s look at five easy tips to take your photo essays to the next level, starting with:

1. Find a topic you care about

Every good photo essay should start with an idea.

Otherwise, you’ll be shooting without a purpose – and while such an approach may eventually lead to an interesting series of photos, it’s far, far easier to begin with a topic and only then take out your camera.

As I emphasized above, a photo essay can be about anything. You don’t need to fixate on “classic” photo essay themes, such as war and poverty. Instead, you might focus on local issues that matter to you (think of problems plaguing your community). You can also think about interesting stories worth telling, even if they don’t have an activism angle.

For instance, is there an area undergoing major development? Try documenting the work from start to finish. Is there a particular park or nature area you love? Create a series of images that communicate its beauty.

One key item to remember:

Photo essays are most powerful when you, as the photographer, care about the subject. Whether you choose to document something major and public, like an environmental crisis, or whether you choose to document something small and intimate, like the first month of a newborn in the family, make sure you focus on a topic that matters to you.

Otherwise, you’ll struggle to finish the essay – and even if you do successfully complete it, viewers will likely notice your lack of passion.

2. Do your research

The best photo essays involve some real work. Don’t just walk around and shoot with abandon; instead, try to understand your subject.

That way, you can capture a more authentic series of photos.

For instance, if you document a newborn’s first month, spend time with the family. Discover who the parents are, what culture they are from, and their parenting philosophy.

If you cover the process of a school’s drama production, talk with the teachers, actors, and stagehands; investigate the general interest of the student body; find out how the school is financing the production and keeping costs down.

If you photograph a birthday party, check out the theme, the decorations they plan on using, what the birthday kid hopes to get for their gifts.

If you’re passionate about your topic, the research should come easy. You should enjoy learning the backstory.

And then, when it comes time to actually shoot, you’ll have a much clearer understanding of the topic. You’ll know the key players in the story, the key ideas, and the key locations. You’ll be able to hone in on what matters and block out the flashy distractions.

Make sense?

3. Find the right angle

Once you’ve done your research, you’ll know your topic inside and out.

At which point you’ll need to ask yourself:

What is the real, authentic story I want to tell?

Every story has a hundred different angles and perspectives. And trying to share the story from every perspective is a recipe for failure.

Instead, pick a single angle and focus on it. If you’re documenting a local issue, do you want to focus on how it affects children? The physical area? The economy? If you’re documenting a newborn’s first month, do you want to focus on the interaction between the newborn and the parents? The growth of the newborn? The newborn’s emotions?

As you’ll find out during your research, even stories that seem to be completely one-sided have plenty of hidden perspectives to draw on.

So think about your story carefully. In general, I recommend you approach it from the angle you’re most passionate about (consider the previous tip!), but you’re always free to explore different perspectives.

4. Convey emotion

Not all photo essays must convey emotion. But the most powerful ones do.

After all, think of the stories that you know and love. Your favorite books, movies, and TV shows. Do they touch you on an emotional level?

Don’t get me wrong: Every photo essay shouldn’t cover a sappy, heartstring-tugging tale. You can always focus on conveying other emotions: anger, joy, fear, hurt, excitement.

(Of course, if your story is sappy and heartstring-tugging, that’s fine, too – just don’t force it!)

How do you convey emotions, though? There’s no one set way, but you can include photos of meaningful scenes – human interactions generally work well here! – or you can simply show emotion on the faces of your photographic subjects. Really, the best way to communicate emotions through your photos is to feel the emotions yourself; they’ll bleed over into your work for a unique result.

5. Plan your shots

Once you’ve done the research and determined the angle and emotions you’d like to convey, I recommend you sit down, take out a pen and paper, and plan your photo essay.

Should you extensively visualize each photo? Should you walk through the venue, imagining possible compositions?

Honestly, that’s up to you, and it’ll depend on how you like to work. I do recommend that beginners start out by creating a “shot list” for the essay. Here, you should describe the main subject, the narrative purpose of the image, plus any lighting or composition notes. Once you become more experienced, you can be looser in your planning, though I still recommend you at least think about the different shots you want to capture.

You can start by planning 10 shots. Each one should emphasize a different concept or emotion, but make sure to keep a consistent thread running through every composition; after all, the end goal is to create a powerful series of images that tell a story.

One final tip:

While you should stick to your plan pretty closely, at least at first, don’t ignore the potential for spontaneity. If you see a possible shot, take it! You can later evaluate whether it’s a worthwhile addition to your essay.

Photo essay tips: final words

Now that you’ve finished this article, you know all about what photo essays are, and – hopefully! – how to create a beautiful essay of your own.

Just remember: storytelling takes practice, but you don’t have to be an incredible writer to pull off a powerful photo essay. All you need is a bit of photographic technique, some creativity, and a lot of heart.

Once you start to tell stories with your photos, your portfolio will never be the same!

Now over to you:

Do you have any tips for doing photo essays? Do you have any essays you’re proud of? Share them in the comments below!

The post How to Make a Photo Essay: 5 Tips for Impactful Results appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Christina N Dickson.

The Weekly Photography Challenge – Dogs

Fri, 06/18/2021 - 16:00

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

They’re everywhere! Pets, running back and forth across parks, sitting on the couch beside you as you read this post about the weekly challenge… Dogs, man’s best friend or maybe you’re not a fan of them and that’s ok too (Though it might make this assignment difficult!) this week is simple, the theme is ‘dogs’ and it doesn’t really matter how you photograph your dog, as long as you do.

The Hashtag for this week’s challenge is #dPSDogs for Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Of course you can join and share your photograph in our private Facebook group!

This little chap used to sit on the counter at the little news shop outside Earls Court Tube in London, I’d see him most mornings.

This is ‘Betsy’ (I didn’t get the bloke’s name, just his dog) they were walking down Portobello Road market… Betsy whipped her head around as I went to grab a photo… you know what they say about photographing pets & children! You have to be quick!

Here are a few articles that might help you out with some technique or ideas for photographing your (or someone else’s) dog.

  1. Why taking photos of your pets will make you a better photographer.
  2. How to photograph your pets.
  3. Tips & Tricks for Photographing your own dog.

Now, how do you post your photograph in the comments under this post? Here’s the deal… Upload your photo into the comments field below this post (look for the little camera icon in the Disqus comments section below this post) and they’ll get embedded for us all to see. Or, if you’d prefer, upload them to your favourite photo-sharing site and leave the link to them.

If you do get stuck, you can contact our friendly (mostly!… ok, well.. after coffee he’s ok!) support guy. He’s on the email ?

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

Nikon to Announce the Zfc, a Retro Mirrorless Camera, This Summer

Fri, 06/18/2021 - 06:00

The post Nikon to Announce the Zfc, a Retro Mirrorless Camera, This Summer appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

For months, we’ve had hints of a second Nikon Z-mount APS-C camera, frequently dubbed the “Z30” – and according to Nikon Rumors, that camera “is real and will be announced soon.”

But it will not be a standard, entry-level APS-C camera to match the Nikon Z50 or the Nikon D3500. Instead, the new Nikon mirrorless model, now referred to as the “Nikon Zfc,” will be a retro-style camera reminiscent of 20th-century film bodies as well as Nikon’s only retro DSLR, the Df:

The Nikon Df is a retro-style DSLR and likely bears a resemblance to the upcoming Nikon Zfc.

Here’s what you can expect in terms of design, based on Nikon Rumors reporting:

  • Mechanical dials (likely for ISO, shutter speed, and exposure compensation)
  • A fully-articulating screen
  • A “very thin camera body without a handgrip” and a “Nikon Df-inspired design”
  • “Shape and handling similar to old Nikon FM cameras”

Of course, any mirrorless model from Nikon will undoubtedly pack Nikon’s latest and greatest technology, from Eye AF and fast continuous shooting speeds to a powerful electronic viewfinder and an articulating touchscreen. And Nikon Rumors does claim the Zfc will offer capabilities similar to that of the Z50, a robust but well-priced APS-C camera featuring a respectable 21 MP sensor and an 11 frames-per-second burst mode.

But as film (and Fujifilm) shooters know, the photography experience on a retro-style body is wildly different from what you get on a standard DSLR or mirrorless camera. I’m a big fan of film-inspired designs, myself – the dials force you to slow down and really appreciate your settings, plus they make everything feel more real. And with the Zfc, you’ll get the best of both worlds: the tactile, mechanical ergonomics of a film camera, combined with the impressive speed and efficiency of a 2021 mirrorless camera.

While the Zfc is still only a rumored camera, and while the announcement and release date are technically unknown, Nikon Rumors is pushing a June 28th announcement date and expects the camera to begin shipping on July 31st.

The older Nikon Z50 currently sells for around $850 USD, body only, or $900 USD with a basic kit lens, and you can expect a slightly higher price for the Nikon Zfc; Nikon Rumors claims $999 USD (with a kit lens included).

So keep an eye out for the Nikon Zfc announcement later this month, especially if you like the sound of a reasonably priced, retro-style camera that can use Nikon Z lenses!

Now over to you:

Are you excited by the prospect of a retro-style camera from Nikon? Or would you have preferred a standard entry-level mirrorless camera? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

The post Nikon to Announce the Zfc, a Retro Mirrorless Camera, This Summer appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

13 iPhone Camera Settings to Improve Your Photos

Thu, 06/17/2021 - 06:00

The post 13 iPhone Camera Settings to Improve Your Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.

There is an amazing array of iPhone camera settings you can tweak, customize, and configure to get just the right shots. Some of these settings are obvious, but others are buried beneath layers of buttons and menus and are easy to miss.

And while anyone can take great shots on an iPhone just by launching the camera and pressing the shutter button, learning a few of the custom options can truly take your iPhone photography to the next level.

Also, most of these iPhone tips and tricks are available no matter your iPhone model – so even if your iPhone is a few years old, you can still access some very helpful settings.

Are you ready to discover 13 highly useful iPhone settings?

Let’s dive right in.

A picture of a lake near the United States/Canada border (shot with my iPhone). When you know how to tweak your iPhone camera settings, you can get the shots you’re looking for. 1. Show and hide camera options

Nestled near the top of the iPhone camera is a thin strip (with the Flash icon on the left and the Live Photos icon on the right, as displayed below). Situated directly between these two icons is a small arrow pointing up, like the ^ caret above the number six on a keyboard:

Tap the ^ icon at the top of the camera interface to show/hide the camera options icons at the bottom.

Tap the caret at the top to show and hide a row of options near the bottom of the camera interface. As you can see in the screenshot above, this uncovers a handful of useful options, including filters and real-time cropping.

Another way to access these settings? Press your finger directly on the middle of your iPhone screen with the camera open, then swipe up or down. This yields the same result as tapping on the ^ icon, but some people find the press-and-swipe method to be a little more convenient. Either way, the hidden row of options puts some powerful tools right at your fingertips and can help you instantly take better photos.

One caveat: When you reveal this row of settings icons, your normal photo modes, such as Pano, Portrait, and Video, disappear. You can still access them by pressing on the middle of your phone and dragging your finger to the right or left, but it’s easy to get lost without seeing the name of the mode you are currently using.

I recommend you first set the photo mode (i.e. Portrait, Photo, etc.), and only then reveal the row of camera options icons.

2. Use the volume buttons as your camera shutter

When Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone in 2007, he proudly declared that it would not have a keyboard (much to the chagrin of smartphone users around the world!). Replacing the physical keys was a revolutionary touchscreen that could transform into whatever the developer wanted.

While the touchscreen was a brilliant move, it meant some common actions like snapping a picture became a little more tricky. It’s not always easy to hold your phone just right and press the shutter button at the same time.

Fortunately, there’s an easy fix for this common frustration:

Press the volume-up button to snap a picture.

This feature is enabled by default, but many users aren’t aware that it exists. Once you learn to use it, you won’t ever want to go back to awkwardly tapping the touchscreen to take pictures.

(Also, quick tip: When you press and hold the volume-up button, your phone will begin recording a movie. Release the button to stop recording.)

Many people don’t know this, but the volume buttons on any iPhone can be used to take a picture. You don’t have to change any settings to do it – it’s enabled by default. 3. Shoot in burst mode

An iPhone might not seem like the ideal device for action photography. After all, it can’t compare to a high-end DSLR or mirrorless camera that can fire off a burst of photos in rapid succession.

Or can it?

In fact, iPhones offer a burst mode – and with it, you can get action shots you never thought possible. You can shoot dozens of rapid-fire photos, then choose the best one from the batch.

Here’s how it works:

With the Camera app open, press and hold the shutter button, then quickly slide your finger all the way to the left. Burst mode will activate, you’ll start taking a series of images, and you’ll see a counter with the number of captured shots.

Use this during moments of fast action. You’ll always end up with those split-second, perfectly timed shots – without spending thousands of dollars on high-end camera equipment.

Press and drag the shutter button with your finger to take a burst of photos. The shutter button displays your photo count. 4. Press and hold the volume button for a photo burst

Burst mode is great, but what if you prefer using the camera volume buttons to snap pictures? If you press and hold the volume button, your phone starts recording a movie, not a burst – but did you know that you can force the volume buttons to shoot in burst mode when held down?

First, navigate to the Settings app. Then scroll down to Camera.

Next, look for the option that says Use Volume Up for Burst, and tap to enable it.

If you find the touch-and-drag method of taking burst photos inconvenient, you can set the volume-up button to take a burst of images.

That’s it! Now, if you hold the volume-up button, your iPhone will fire off a burst – and if you hold the volume-down button, you’ll record a movie. It’s the best of both worlds, and a setting I highly recommend. You never know whether you’ll need a burst or a movie, so it helps to have both options at your fingertips!

5. Use the built-in self-timer

Sometimes, you don’t want to take a photo the instant you press the shutter button. DSLRs and mirrorless cameras have a built-in self-timer; it lets you set a delay from the time you press the shutter to the time the camera actually takes a picture.

At first glance, this feature may seem missing from iPhones. But with a quick tap or swipe, you can activate the self-timer and start taking control of your photos.

Here’s what you do:

First, show the row of extra camera options by tapping the caret at the top of the screen (as described in Point 1 of this article).

Then press the Timer icon. Select either Off, 3s, or 10s:

To use the built-in self-timer, tap the Timer icon. Then specify whether to use the 3-second or 10-second delay.

Now, when you press the shutter button, you’ll get a delay before your iPhone snaps the photo.

It helps to have a tripod to hold your phone steady, but the timer works fine for selfie shots, too. That way, you can snap a picture without trying to position the phone and fire your iPhone shutter at the same time.

6. Real-time aspect-ratio cropping

As experienced users know, it’s easy to crop a photo on an iPhone. Just tap on the image, hit Edit, and then press the Crop button.

But while this process works well for cropping your photos after you take them, what if you want to start with a cropped display and frame your image accordingly?

Some high-end cameras allow you to select custom crops when you take photos, and the iPhone has this ability, too.

First, tap the caret at the top of the screen to reveal the hidden camera options. Then, tap the 4:3 button (which represents the 4:3 ratio in which iPhone photos are shot):

To use real-time cropping, access the hidden camera options and tap the 4:3 icon. Then specify what type of crop you want: Square, 4:3, or 16:9. Note that these options might be slightly different depending on your iPhone model.

Now you can choose whether to shoot in a 4:3, Square (1:1), or 16:9 aspect ratio – and you won’t have to go through the painstaking process of cropping your photos individually afterward.

Real-time cropping lets you see how your cropped photo will turn out (without any guesswork). 7. Portrait Lighting

In 2016, the iPhone 7 Plus was released with the first iteration of Portrait mode.

Portrait mode essentially mimics the blurry background effect you can get with a DSLR or mirrorless camera, but with Apple software algorithms. And the blur mimicry has gotten much better since those early incarnations, and now incorporates a feature called Portrait Lighting. This gives your Portrait mode images the appearance of being captured in various lighting conditions, and the result is so good it’s downright uncanny.

To access Portrait Lighting, first put your phone in Portrait mode (find it in the mode options just above the shutter button).

You should see a series of circles above the Portrait label; these are your different Portrait Lighting effects:

Enable Portrait mode, then touch and drag the icons above the shutter button to change the lighting effects. Your phone will show you a preview of the final result in real time!

The default lighting mode for portraits is “Natural Light” but this can be changed to “Studio Light,” “Stage Light,” “Contour Light,” and more. You actually see the effect in real time, so you know how the finished result will look, and you can change lighting modes as much as you want before you take a picture.

Portrait Lighting is a great way to punch up your portraits, and you can even go back and change the Portrait Lighting effect afterward when editing a Portrait mode image in the photo library.

8. Use filters as you shoot

Instagram and other social networks popularized the idea of filters, and now it’s almost strange to see photos without some kind of filter applied. The most common way of using filters is to snap a photo and then apply the filter afterward – but your iPhone camera has an option to use filters as you shoot.

With this, you can see what your edited pictures will look like before you even take them.

Filters can be applied as you shoot your images so you can see exactly what the final result will look like.

To use real-time filters, access the camera options by tapping the caret at the top of the screen. Then tap the icon with three intersecting circles.

The filter options will appear, and you’ll be able to choose from a variety of looks, including Vivid Warm, Dramatic Cool, Silvertone, and more. I find this method much more practical than applying filters after I take a photo, plus seeing your filters applied in real time can have a dramatic effect on your images!

9. Choose your preferred photo format (HEIF vs JPEG)

Until recently, the iPhone shot pictures in JPEG format. But while JPEGs are a good compromise between quality and file size, they’re ill-suited for today’s users, who want features like HDR imaging while still keeping file sizes small.

HEIF is a new file type designed to solve this problem, and it’s now the default format for iPhone photos.

Unfortunately, not everyone has a device that can load HEIF images, which makes sharing iPhone photos somewhat problematic – unless you know a handy iPhone settings solution.

Go to Settings, then Photos, and scroll all the way to the bottom to Transfer to Mac or PC. The Automatic setting will convert HEIF pictures to JPEG when sending them to a device that can’t read HEIF images. (Keep Originals will always send images as HEIFs).

You can also change the image format from HEIF to JPEG or JPEG to HEIF. Go to Settings, then Camera, and select Formats:

High Efficiency is a good option for saving space, but Most Compatible uses the more common JPEG format.

If you tap High Efficiency, your iPhone will shoot HEIFs – whereas selecting Most Compatible forces your camera to use JPEGs.

Generally, I recommend shooting photos in HEIF and leaving Transfer to Mac or PC on Automatic. But it’s always useful to know how to change these settings to your liking!

10. Optimize iPhone storage

If you take a lot of pictures on your iPhone, you might quickly find yourself running out of storage space. And while you can’t add more storage to your iPhone, there is a trick that lets you take tons of photos without worrying too much about using up space on your phone: storage optimization.

Go to Settings, then tap Photos. Look for the Optimize iPhone Storage option:

While you can’t add more storage space to your iPhone, you can take advantage of iCloud storage to help ease your photo storage burden.

This will automatically upload the photos to your iCloud account while keeping tiny, low-resolution thumbnails on your iPhone. Then, when you load a photo, the original is automatically downloaded from iCloud.

A caveat is that you need enough space on your iCloud account to accommodate your photos. Unlike your iPhone, you can add more iCloud storage, but you will have to pay. Prices range from one to ten dollars a month, and the one-dollar plan is plenty for most people.

So if you find yourself constantly running low on iPhone storage because of all your photos, don’t delete them! Just use the Optimize iPhone Storage option and let iCloud take care of the rest.

11. Show/hide the camera grid

Many DSLR and mirrorless cameras have grid overlays that help you compose your shots. They’re a great way to make sure your horizons are level, and you can use them to guide your rule-of-thirds compositions.

But did you know that your iPhone also has a grid?

All you have to do is select Settings, then Camera, and enable the Grid option.

Enable the Grid option in your Settings to display a grid overlay as you shoot pictures.

Now, when you take a photo, you will see a 3-by-3 grid, like this:

The grid overlay is a great way to make sure your photos are straight and well-composed! 12. Adjust the blur strength in Portrait mode

The iPhone camera has a fixed-aperture lens.

What does this mean? Well, unlike a DSLR or mirrorless camera, you can’t decide whether to shoot wide open or stopped down – and so you don’t have control over the background blur.

Except that, when shooting in Portrait mode, your iPhone does let you customize the level of blur. This effectively mimics aperture adjustments (through software trickery).

First, select Portrait mode from the mode options. Then tap the f icon in the top-right corner.

A slider should appear at the bottom of the camera screen; it approximates various f-stops of a camera lens:

Once in Portrait Mode, tap the f button in the top-right corner. Then drag the slider above the shutter button left and right to increase and decrease background blur.

Slide all the way to the left for f/1.4 and all the way to the right for f/16. You will see the blur change in real time as you adjust the slider. I often find that the default value selected by my iPhone (usually between f/2.8 and f/4.5) is great, but it’s nice to be able to customize.

You can adjust the blur level of your Portrait mode backgrounds (even on some lower-end iPhones with a single camera). 13. Preserve Settings

This final trick isn’t going to do anything for your photos, but it could save your sanity! If you find yourself frequently using a specific filter, adjustment, or Live Photos setting, you can tell your iPhone to preserve those settings – instead of forcing you to enable them one by one every time you take a picture.

Enabling the Preserve Settings option is simple:

Tap Settings > Camera > Preserve Settings:

The Preserve Settings option lets you keep all your favorite settings in place.

Here, you can specify the settings you want your iPhone to remember. Then, every time you open the Camera app, all your custom settings will remain just as you left them.

iPhone camera settings: final words

Well, I hope you found these tips helpful! Note that these are just some of the iPhone camera settings you can change to help customize your photography experience. There are dozens of other options to change and tweak, and with just a bit of practice, you will soon find yourself adjusting plenty of settings to suit your needs.

Also, don’t be afraid to poke around in the Camera app and Camera Settings menu. You just might find some new options you didn’t know existed!

iPhone camera settings FAQs Do I need a high-end iPhone to use Portrait mode?

The first iPhones to do Portrait mode combined pictures from two separate cameras. Now, iPhones with only a single camera offer Portrait mode thanks to advanced software algorithms. Even the iPhone SE, the lowest-priced iPhone, can do it with the rear camera and the front-facing selfie camera.

How can I stop my iPhone pictures from looking blurry?

If your photos are blurry, your iPhone is probably having trouble focusing. Tap the screen to focus in one particular area, then give your phone a half-second to adjust focus. That should help keep your photos sharp.

Why can’t I use Night mode on my iPhone?

While all the settings in this article can be used on virtually every iPhone, Night mode requires special hardware and is therefore only available on certain models. If you try to take a photo in dimly lit conditions and your iPhone has Night mode, it will automatically show up as an option. If you don’t see Night Mode appear, then your iPhone probably does not have this feature.

What are the best settings for casual, everyday use?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed at all the iPhone camera settings, my advice is to just ignore everything and go take some pictures. The default values for your iPhone camera are just fine. You don’t have to change, tweak, or customize anything to get great photos.

The post 13 iPhone Camera Settings to Improve Your Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.

The Best Lightroom Presets in 2021 (13 Beautiful Options)

Wed, 06/16/2021 - 06:00

The post The Best Lightroom Presets in 2021 (13 Beautiful Options) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.

If you’re looking for the best Lightroom presets, you’ve come to the right place. Given the number of available options, it’s easy to get overwhelmed – or even worse, buy a pack of presets that you’ll never use.

To help you navigate the wide market of Lightroom presets, we’ve put together a selection of the best quality packs (to fit many different needs).

So read on to discover the 13 best preset packs in 2021!

1. Landscape and Travel Photography Presets

Fine art photographer Jan Erik Waider offers a bundle of eight Lightroom presets packs, designed for different landscapes. Some target physical locations, such as polar or forest landscapes. Others offer a specific aesthetic, such as cinematic or dark and dramatic.

These professional presets allow customization so you can “develop a repeatable personal style.” In addition to the eight preset packs, the bundle includes a surprise pack and will give you access to all future preset releases.

Of course, if you’re not interested in the entire bundle, you can also also purchase the packs individually.

2. Night Leaks

This free pack of presets from will add vibrancy to your urban night photography. It’s part of the Night bundle, which includes more than 300 free presets.

Night Leaks work best on night scenes where there’s artificial lighting, such as street lights. They’re designed to give you a colorful and vibrant effect with clear tonal contrast.

3. Golden Hour Presets

These Golden Hour Lightroom presets are perfect for portrait photographers who organize outdoor sessions. We all know that golden hour offers beautiful light for your photos. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to schedule your clients around that time.

KatherineDream offers 15 Lightroom presets for mobile and desktop that will give your photos those beautiful, warm, golden hour tones. And on her Etsy shop, KatherineDream offers multiple other packs (and often puts her presets on sale!).

4. All in One Lightroom Preset Bundle

The All In One Lightroom Preset Bundle is perfect for beginner photographers. If you don’t have a field of specialization and you’re still figuring out your style, you’ll find 90 helpful presets to choose from.

The Bundle includes presets for everything: beach shooting, indoor photography, food photos, portrait photos, black and white photos, and moody photos. In other words, the All In One Bundle offers everything a beginner could need – and it even comes with a handy how-to guide!

5. Boho Wedding

If you’re a wedding photographer, then you know how important it is to have an automated workflow that delivers consistent results.

This Boho Wedding preset bundle offers ten one-click presets; they’re easy to adjust, plus they come with an installation guide PDF and video. And they create a creamy warm tone that improves the overall ambiance of your pictures.

6. Winter Wonderland Preset Collection

Most winter presets only add a cool tone to your images – but the Winter Wonderland Collection offers a uniquely well-rounded solution for a winter look.

This bundle offers 32 presets and 5 brushes to create snowy and winter images, no matter the weather forecast. All the presets are customizable, and an instruction guide and video tutorial are included in the download.

7. The Crush Pack

Unlike other presets that are based on subject matter or mood, the Crush Pack is designed for light. Each preset is tailored to a specific lighting scenario so that you always know which to apply.

Whether it is soft or hard light, backlight or flash, there’s a preset to improve your picture, delivering a “bold and vivid style that maintains the skin tone.” You can buy the Crush Pack on its own, or bundled with the Retouching Toolkit for a special discounted price.

8. 20 Free Lightroom Presets Collection

This is a starter pack from BeArt-Presets, and includes 20 presets that can be applied to all types of photographs, from food to portraits.

The download includes two sets of presets: one set for mobile and one set for desktop. And once you determine which preset styles you’re after, there’s a shop with more specialized presets for sale.

9. Free Lightroom Presets for Street Photography

These presets are designed for a grungy look that creates contrasty, detailed images and is especially suited for urban photography.

You’ll be able to choose between color, black and white, and three different tones to “make your images jump off the screen.”

10. Color Pop

If you’re looking for a pack of Lightroom presets to make your images stand out, the Color Pop presets are exactly what you need. You get 20 different presets designed to boost the color of any photograph and make your images look vibrant and fresh.

The files come in three different formats for maximum compatibility. And if you’re impressed and you want more, also offers a bundle with all 1000 of their presets.

11. Free HDR Lightroom Presets

This free preset pack offers ten Lightroom presets designed to adjust the light balance and color tones while boosting saturation, luminosity, and contrast. You can find the preset that matches your style and subject and apply it with just one click.

And if you like what you see, Fix the Photo has a store with a wide variety of LR presets, PS actions, LUTs, overlays, and more.

12. Nathan Elson’s 2020 Lightroom Presets

Nathan Elson is a professional photographer who specializes in portrait, fashion, commercial, and architecture photography; his very defined style inspired this preset collection.

The download includes six color profiles and ten custom-built presets that “create cinematic images to push your photography to the next level.”

13. Prolost Graduated Presets

Designed for complete beginners, the Prolost preset pack includes over 600 presets for you to choose from.

Each effect comes in different intensities; that way, you only need to hover over each preset to preview different results. If you like an effect, you click to apply. And because the pack already comes with plenty of variations, no customization is required.

How do you pick the right presets?

There isn’t one perfect preset that will fit every photograph. There are, however, presets that will be more fitting for your workflow. So given the many choices available on the market, how do you choose?

First of all, look at the quality of the work from the creator and what they’re offering. Any adjustment can technically be turned into a preset, so you’ll run into a lot of useless downloads. Some websites or blogs offer a freebie to get you on their mailing list or make you subscribe, but all you receive is a single preset that moves a slider slightly to one side.

So make sure you get your presets from a professional and check that they offer something more complex than what would be achievable by a beginner.

Another thing that you should consider is the type of photography you do. Make sure it matches the “before” image from the preset preview. This will ensure you get results similar to what you’re expecting. Otherwise, the effect might look great on the sample picture but won’t work on your own shots.

Finally, try to find presets that are customizable. This will allow you to create your own style instead of just replicating someone else’s. It will also make your presets more versatile, so you can use them on a wider variety of pictures.

Are presets worth it?

In my opinion, yes. Because they automate a part of your work, presets will save you a lot of time. Also, presets are a good way to keep your style consistent. This is very important for gaining followers, and it lets your clients know what they can expect from you far in advance.

Also, remember: If you want the benefits of presets but feel like none of the presets I’ve suggested fit your vision, you don’t have to use third-party presets. You can always make presets of your own!

The best Lightroom presets: conclusion

Now you know some of the best Lightroom presets available in 2021! Make sure you get the presets that will fit your type of photography and style – and have fun!

Now over to you:

Have you tried presets in the past? Do you have a favorite preset or preset pack? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Best Lightroom presets FAQs Is it worth buying presets for Lightroom?

Yes. Many professionals offer high-quality presets that are a great investment; they’ll help you achieve the look that you want in your photos.

Do professional photographers use presets?

Yes. Some professionals create their own presets to save time when editing. Others use presets from professional retouchers. Photography and photo-editing are two separate skills and can be performed by two different professionals.

Can you use Lightroom presets for free?

Some of them are free, yes. Others cost money. Before downloading a preset, I recommend checking the preset terms and conditions.

Can I create my own presets?

Yes. A preset automates a set of image adjustments. Any Lightroom post-processing that you do can be saved as a preset and used in other photographs.

Can I use Lightroom presets on the mobile version?

Any preset that you have in Lightroom can be synced across devices. That way, you can download the best Lightroom presets and use them on your computer and your phone.

The post The Best Lightroom Presets in 2021 (13 Beautiful Options) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.

6 Tips to Master Panning Photography

Tue, 06/15/2021 - 06:00

The post 6 Tips to Master Panning Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kunal Malhotra.

You know those photos where a car or motorcycle appears sharp while the background appears to be out of focus?

While this may seem like a Photoshop trick, it’s actually not; it’s called panning photography, and it’s a fun effect you can use on moving subjects.

In fact, it’s not even hard to learn. Below, I share six simple tips to help you master the art of panning; all you have to do is keep practicing, and – with enough perseverance – you’ll get consistently great results!

Let’s get started.

1. Set your camera to Shutter Priority mode

Before you do anything else, I highly recommend you set your camera’s Mode dial to Shutter Priority.

This lets you select the shutter speed while your camera chooses the aperture. (If you like, you can also force your camera to choose the ISO.)

You see, panning photography is all about the correct choice of shutter speed – the aperture and ISO values don’t play a major role. So while it’s important to choose the shutter speed yourself, the rest can be done by your camera.

This is especially useful when photographing in variable lighting conditions. If you’re photographing cars or bikers moving in and out of shadow, Shutter Priority will take care of the exposure while keeping the shutter speed constant.

This camera is set to Shutter Priority mode (on Canon cameras, it’s labeled as Tv, and on other cameras, it’s S). 2. Choose a slow shutter speed

The panning effect depends heavily on the shutter speed.

Too fast, and you’ll end up with a tack-sharp image and zero blur effect.

Too slow, and you’ll end up with a smudgy, blurry subject.

So to keep your subject sharp and the background blurry, you’ve got to choose your shutter speed carefully.

For perfect panning photos, the ideal shutter speed is anything between 1/30s and 1/125s. Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all shutter speed, because the faster the subject is moving, the faster the shutter speed needs to be. To get a beautiful panning effect on a racecar, you may want a speed of 1/125s; to get the same effect on a runner, 1/30s is a better idea.

Note that the goal here is to give the camera time to register the movement in the photo, while also keeping the subject in sharp focus.

The shutter speed is set to 1/30s for panning. 3. Move along with the subject

If you want to create beautiful panning photography, you must move your camera in line with the subject.

After all, the whole idea is to shoot a photo of a moving subject while panning your camera along with it.

One note: The speed at which you are panning your camera should match the speed at which the subject is passing through the scene. Start following the subject when it’s off in the distance, follow it as it passes you, and continue to follow even once it’s gone by (you should follow through, like in sports).

And press the shutter release button only when the subject is parallel to your camera. That way, your subject remains in focus, while you get perfect motion blur in the background.

4. Use a tripod

It’s absolutely possible to pan while handholding. And you’ll sometimes get great results.

But here’s the thing:

If you’re shooting handheld at a slower shutter speed, you might introduce slight camera shake – which manifests as undesirable blur in your photos.

Plus, while panning your camera along with the moving subject, you might also introduce shake via up-and-down body movements.

So to ensure you capture consistently sharp panning shots, mount your camera on a tripod (or monopod).

You’ll want to choose your tripod head carefully; certain heads are specifically designed for smooth panning, while other heads will send your camera in every direction.

(On a related note, think about the lens you’re using. Certain lenses come with image stabilization designed specifically for panning. If you have it, I highly recommend you test it out!)

5. Focus accurately

When panning, your subject will be moving swiftly across the scene – so it’s essential that you lock focus quickly and accurately.

There are two ways you can make the subject appear in sharp focus while the background appears in motion:

  • Autofocusing technique: If you are just starting with panning photography, or if you cannot anticipate the subject’s distance from the camera, use autofocus. To make sure you accurately focus on your subject, switch on your camera’s continuous focusing mode (AF-C on Nikon and Sony, and AI-Servo for Canon). This will help your camera continuously focus on the subject as it moves across the frame. Also, begin focusing on your subject off in the distance, then keep the center focus point trained on your subject as you pan along.
  • Manual focus technique: If you are sure of the distance at which your subject will pass (e.g., you know your subject will drive down a particular lane of the road), then I recommend focusing manually. Identify where your subject will be, then focus on that point in advance. You won’t have to worry about locking and maintaining focus – when your subject comes by, just pan your camera along and take a series of shots.

Note: No matter which method of focusing you choose, always set your camera to its continuous shooting mode and hold down the shutter button to capture many images.

6. Position yourself correctly

To give your lens enough space to focus, keep some distance between your camera and the moving subject.

If you position yourself too close to the moving subject, your lens may struggle (and fail) to focus on the subject, even if you’re using the manual focus technique described above.

(Why? All lenses have a minimum focus distance; once a subject moves inside this distance, focusing becomes impossible.)

Plus, it’s hard to keep the subject in the frame when it’s large and close.

So take a step or two back, and make sure you have enough space to focus and capture your subject.

Also, it pays to choose the right background. Don’t just pan wherever. Instead, find a background that makes your subject stand out.

Personally, I think panning photos look eye-catching when there is nice subject-background contrast and there are at least two or more background colors. Imagine a background that lacks contrast and has only one color; it would hardly add any impact to your panning photo, right?

How to master panning photography: conclusion

Now that you’ve finished this article, you should be well-prepared to capture some stunning panning shots.

So go out with your camera. Practice your technique. And have fun!

Now over to you:

Have you tried panning before? Do you have any shots you’re proud of? Share them in the comments below!

The post 6 Tips to Master Panning Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kunal Malhotra.

10 Best Cameras for Landscape Photography (in 2021)

Mon, 06/14/2021 - 06:00

The post 10 Best Cameras for Landscape Photography (in 2021) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jeremy Flint.

Deciding on the best camera for landscape photography can be a daunting task. But don’t worry; whether you’re a beginner looking to get your first camera or a more experienced photographer looking for a more dedicated option, we’ve got you covered.

Specifically, we’ll share a list of our top 10 favorite landscape cameras – including options for every budget and brand preference.

Let’s get started.

How to choose the best camera for landscape photography

When looking for the right landscape camera, what characteristics should you take into account?


First, the weight of your camera is considerably important. If you are out walking long distances to your chosen location, you don’t want to be trudging for miles with the burden of a heavy camera and lenses in your backpack.


For landscape photography, the higher the number of megapixels, the better; enhanced resolution will give your camera the ability to record those extra details and tones.

Also, sensor size is key. The larger the sensor size, the better the image quality (generally speaking).

Build quality

If you are someone who enjoys capturing landscapes in dramatic weather, it is essential that your camera has appropriate weather sealing to keep out the elements and enable you to carry on shooting when it rains.


While a sophisticated autofocus system with quick subject selection and fast shooting modes is not essential, in-camera features such as high-ISO capabilities and in-body image stabilization (IBIS) can certainly make a difference.

For example, impressive high-ISO performance will help you capture more dynamic range in low light – perfect for anyone who likes to shoot the stars, the planets, or the moon.

Camera type

Generally speaking, advancements in technology mean that smartphones, compacts, and bridge cameras are all capable of achieving great landscape photos. But while these are cheaper options, these camera systems are less practical and adaptable than other setups. Many professional and enthusiast photographers choose either a full-frame DSLR or mirrorless body as their go-to landscape photography camera.

Which is better, mirrorless or DSLR? Most DSLR cameras are part of well-established lineups and therefore offer great landscape lenses. Mirrorless cameras are newer to the photography arena and have fewer lens choices available.

Medium format is also one of the best camera formats for landscape photographers, as it provides the very best quality images. However, disadvantages include weight, size, and high prices.

As DSLR, mirrorless, and medium format cameras are often out of reach for beginners and amateurs due to price, a cheaper and more preferred option is the APS-C system, which is lighter and has a smaller sensor system.

Ultimately, which system and camera you choose depends entirely on your personal needs and budget. With these factors in mind, here are some of the very best cameras available for landscape photographers in 2021:

1. Canon 5DS R

The Canon 5DS R is a 50.6-megapixel full-frame DSLR and a fantastic choice for landscape lovers, thanks to its superb image quality and impressive camera build. It is a firm favorite, featuring beautifully detailed files – and when coupled with the classy L-series lenses, it can match the very best high-resolution cameras available (even if the dynamic range is less sophisticated than its newer competitors). For added functionality, you get 61 phase-detection points. And the 5DS R costs less than Canon’s top-end mirrorless camera, the EOS R5.

2. Canon EOS R5

Canon arrived late to the mirrorless game, but the company now offers one of the best cameras for landscape photography. The Canon EOS R5 is the ultimate mirrorless camera, one that packs a punch with an excellent 45-megapixel count, plus it provides brilliant image quality and a wide dynamic range.

There is a growing range of RF lenses that mount directly on the EOS R5, plus you get the added advantage of 8K video. While the electronic shutter takes a bit of getting used to, the advanced weather sealing is fantastic. The EOS R5 does come with a hefty price tag, and it’s a huge investment for someone who simply does landscape photography as a hobby, so if you like the sound of the EOS R5 but don’t have the budget for it, I’d also recommend the EOS R6 (which costs significantly less).

3. Nikon D850

The Nikon D850 comes highly recommended for landscape shooters, offering outstanding dynamic range, excellent (45.6-megapixel) resolution, and a touch-sensitive LCD screen that tilts. The extended battery performance, impressive ISO performance, and high-quality images make the D850 a popular choice for shooting in the great outdoors. It can record up to 9 frames per second, it packs 4K video, and it’s one of the best all-around DSLRs on the market.

4. Nikon Z7 II

The Nikon Z7 II is a stellar camera, and one of the best mirrorless landscape options available in 2021. Specifically, its lightweight build, in-body image stabilization, touchscreen, 45.7-megapixel sensor, impressive dynamic range, and excellent image quality are all beneficial to landscape photographers, assuming you can afford the price.

The Z7 II is highly responsive in the field and has great focusing capabilities in low light. The camera also packs an exceptional electronic viewfinder and superb customizable features.

Note that the Z7 II is a welcome refinement to the already impressive Z7; the second iteration features a dual processor and dual card slots, which are hugely useful for the professional working photographer.

5. Canon EOS 90D

If you are just starting out and do not want to pay for a full-frame camera, you may find the Canon EOS 90D to be a worthwhile choice. Sure, it doesn’t offer that classic full-frame image quality – but the 90D is a very good camera for landscape photography, thanks to a large optical viewfinder, a strong build quality, and a nice 32.5-megapixel APS-C imaging sensor (that will produce some incredibly detailed photographs and video footage). The 90D’s size makes for easy handling and the camera mounts EF/EF-S glass, so there is a huge range of compatible lenses for you to choose from.

6. Nikon D5600

Another great camera choice for those on a budget is the Nikon D5600. For hobbyist landscape photographers, this midrange DSLR has a 24-megapixel resolution and is capable of capturing great images with fine textures and superbly crisp detail. The 3.2-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 39-point AF system, and new time-lapse movie mode are great additional features, and the ISO range of 100-25600 ensures low-light landscape scenes are handled with ease. The D5600 has a wide range of interchangeable Nikkor lenses at its disposal, and it’s light and extremely portable, ideal for long walks in nature.

7. Sony a7R IV

The Sony a7R IV is a superb quality camera that would carry well inside the backpack of any dedicated landscape photographer. Key features include a jaw-dropping 61-megapixel full-frame sensor for optimal image quality, the ability to shoot handheld in low light thanks to an in-body image stabilization system, and an attractive array of lenses from extreme wide-angle to large telephotos. The camera has very robust weather sealing and is notably cheaper than the Canon EOS R5.

8. Sony a6000

Are you a newbie photographer looking to invest in a camera for landscape shooting? Then check out the Sony a6000, the ultimate compromise between power and portability. It’s well priced, shoots quickly with 11 frames-per-second continuous shooting, packs 24.2 megapixels, has a built-in flash, and delivers great images of landscapes in all conditions – making it a great entry-level landscape camera and a solid introduction to the mirrorless market. Autofocus is good and you get great video. The absence of in-body image stabilization, as well as a lower resolution viewfinder compared to its rivals, are justifiable tradeoffs.

If your budget allows for the extra cost, the Sony a6500 is a newer option.

9. Fujifilm X-T4

Looking for a camera with exceptional build quality that doesn’t compromise on color tones and dynamic range? The Fujifilm X-T4 is one of the best all-around options for landscape photographers. The camera looks modern, feels great in the hand, and the lightweight system is a joy to operate. It’s a great choice for buyers needing high megapixels, fast shooting speeds, in-body image stabilization, and 4K video capture. If your budget really is limited, consider its predecessor, the X-T3, which houses an identical sensor and comes at a lower price.

10. Fujifilm X-T200

Here’s my final choice for the best landscape camera: the Fujifilm X-T200. It’s one of the best entry-level mirrorless cameras for landscape photographers and comes highly recommended. The retro style and compact size are a nice touch, while the large 3.5-inch vari-angle touchscreen makes the X-T200 extremely versatile for shooting landscapes. It is lightweight, affordable, and excels in low light. Featuring an APS-C 24.2 MP sensor, the X-T200 can create professional-looking images for landscape photography enthusiasts. For those after an even cheaper model, the X-T100 is a great alternative.

Which landscape photography camera is right for you?

With so many great cameras to consider, it can be challenging to decide which is the best camera to invest in.

While it is justifiable to go for the latest mirrorless cameras, a DSLR still handles well and gives great image quality and overall performance (and APS-C cameras are arguably the best value for money). The Fujifilm X-T200 or Sony a6000 are great options for beginners looking to get their first landscape photography camera – or if you’re after a more dedicated and sophisticated camera, a full-frame model like the Canon 5DS R or the Nikon Z7 II packs a lot of features to suit more experienced photographers.

Above all, remember that the best camera for landscape photography is a personal choice and is relative to your budget and needs!

Now over to you:

Which of these landscape photography cameras do you like the most? Do you have a favorite that didn’t make our list? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

The post 10 Best Cameras for Landscape Photography (in 2021) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jeremy Flint.

7 Composition and Lighting Tips to Improve Your Landscape Photos (Video)

Sun, 06/13/2021 - 08:30

The post 7 Composition and Lighting Tips to Improve Your Landscape Photos (Video) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Looking to take your landscape photography to the next level?

In this video, professional landscape photographer Nigel Danson takes you through his shooting process and shares 7 simple tips and tricks to elevate your photos. While Danson mostly focuses on composition, he throws in a couple of lighting tips for good measure – and each piece of advice is carefully illustrated with breathtaking video footage and stellar example photos.

So give it a watch! And then leave a comment below, letting us know your favorite tip from the video.

The post 7 Composition and Lighting Tips to Improve Your Landscape Photos (Video) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

4 Tips for Drop-Dead Gorgeous Waterfall Photography

Sun, 06/13/2021 - 06:00

The post 4 Tips for Drop-Dead Gorgeous Waterfall Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Eric Leslie.

Waterfall photography is a lot of fun – but coming home with the best shots can be a difficult task.

In this article, I’ll share four simple tips designed to take your waterfall photos to the next level. I’ll discuss the best gear, settings, and light…

…and by the time you’re done, you’ll be ready to capture waterfalls like a pro.

Let’s get started.

1. A camera and a tripod is good enough

Photographers often claim that waterfall photography must be done with neutral density filters, but this is completely false.

All you need is a camera that can shoot in Manual mode and a tripod. Nothing more.

See, the biggest problem that waterfall photographers face is the light. When the sun is bright and overhead, you’ll end up with blown-out highlights and dark shadows that don’t look great. Plus, the light is harsh and flat, not flattering for landscape photography.

And sure, you can put a neutral density filter on your lens, which will block some of the light so you can do long exposures. But even the best ND filter can’t change the quality of the light, which should be your primary concern.

So instead of thinking about your equipment, focus on your timing. Show up at sunrise and sunset, when the light is soft and beautiful. You can also come toward the middle of the day if the waterfall is heavily shaded. Waterfalls are often in deep canyons, so as long as the sun is behind the mountains, you can achieve a long exposure with nice even light, with or without a neutral density filter.

In fact, you can plan ahead to maximize this. Think about it: if the waterfall you want to shoot faces east, the sun will start moving behind the falls in the afternoon. So an east-facing waterfall can be shot with beautiful shade in the late afternoon. You won’t need an ND filter; the shade will let you lengthen the shutter speed all on its own.

2. Choose a shutter speed based on your waterfall

What’s the best shutter speed for waterfall photography? I think the answer varies – like people’s taste in fast food.

Personally, I put waterfalls into two different categories. There are the falls that rage so hard they take your breath away. And there are the falls that are dainty and delicate.

In general, I don’t want my waterfalls to turn out as a blob of white water. So I set my shutter speed (and my other settings) accordingly.

For big, roaring falls, I try to keep my exposure under a second. Anything between 1/4s to a full second will show the water’s motion and still retain lots of detail.

Small, stringy waterfalls just love putting on a show with longer exposures. These falls look great when you can go as long as possible. If you need to narrow your aperture to get a lengthy shutter speed, that’s okay; don’t be afraid of losing sharpness. Photography is always about compromises, and in this case, the slightest loss in sharpness will be greatly outweighed by capturing the water’s movement. For smaller waterfalls, I recommend an exposure between one and four seconds, so stop down to f/22 if you need it.

I usually start with the lowest ISO my camera offers (ISO 100). Then I set my aperture small enough to maximize focus, usually around f/8 or f/10. Finally, I dial in a shutter speed based on my camera’s meter.

Here, my goal is to create a good exposure while also ensuring beautiful water. So if the shutter speed isn’t in the right range, I’ll adjust the aperture or ISO to get the ideal result.

3. Take a second exposure to keep the foliage sharp

Have you ever tried to shoot a waterfall with a long exposure and noticed that the leaves on the trees and plants move with just the slightest breeze? And turn into a messy blur?

It happens all the time, and it’s not ideal. So here’s what you do:

After you’ve bagged your main shot of the waterfall, look around the edges of the photograph. See if the plants are soft and fuzzy. If they are, increase your shutter speed to 1/100s or faster (the goal is to freeze the moving plants). To keep a nice exposure, you can open up the aperture, but make sure you don’t lose your maximum focus. If you still don’t have a fast enough shutter speed, boost your ISO until you get the result you’re after.

Back home, take the two exposures and blend them together using layer masks in Photoshop.

4. Head out when it’s cloudy

Cloudy days are incredible for waterfall photography. (And rainy days? Even better!)

Cloudy days offer all the benefits of shooting when the sun is low or when the waterfall is in the shade – except you have the freedom to shoot all day long without stopping.

I also find you get much better color when it’s overcast, so mossy rocks and autumn leaves really pop. And you get a wonderfully dark, dramatic mood with lots of beautiful shadows:

One pitfall to avoid on cloudy days, though:

Including the sky. Cloudy skies are boring and drab and generally poor additions to a waterfall photo.

So if you can get up high to shoot down on the falls, do it; you’ll eliminate the sky for a more pleasing composition. You can also try shooting falls in heavily forested areas, or you can zoom in for a more intimate waterfall shot (one that keeps the sky outside the frame).

Worst-case scenario, you can frame out part of the sky then clone out the rest in post-processing. But this takes an annoying amount of time, which is why I highly recommend getting it right while out shooting.

Waterfall photography tips: final words

As with all things photography, shooting waterfalls takes practice and experimentation.

But if you remember these tips and persevere, you’ll get great shots in no time at all!

Now over to you:

What do you struggle with most in waterfall photography? Do you have any advice for readers? Do you have any waterfall images you’re proud of? Share your thoughts and photos in the comments below!

The post 4 Tips for Drop-Dead Gorgeous Waterfall Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Eric Leslie.

What Is Good Light? (And How to Use It for Beautiful Portraits)

Sat, 06/12/2021 - 06:00

The post What Is Good Light? (And How to Use It for Beautiful Portraits) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Andrew Szopory.

Two of the most commonly used and misunderstood phrases thrown around by photographers today are, “It’s all about the light” and “Look at that beautiful light.”

But what does this actually mean? What is good light? And how can you use it to make beautiful portraits?

When I was starting out, I kept hearing photographers preach about the importance of light – yet they would never clearly explain what good light actually is and how you can use it to flatter and minimize a subject’s flaws.

So here are a few tips, designed to help you understand light and understand how you can use the light to create better portraits.

Let’s get started.

Direction of light

Before you pick up your camera, stop and look around the scene. Ask yourself: What direction is the light coming from?

Light direction may seem like a basic concept, but it’s absolutely essential to good photography; by determining the direction of the light, you’ll know how to position your subject.

In fact, once you understand the importance of the direction of light, half the battle will have been won.

For example, when you first walk into a room for an indoor portrait or bridal session, the most obvious light source will likely be from a window. And with window light, there are three common lighting scenarios you can create by simply changing your camera and subject position relative to the light:

Flat lighting

In this scenario, the window is behind you (you have your back to the window), so soft light is falling onto your subject.

The lighting is likely even and flat with no shadows (provided, of course, that there is no direct sunlight coming through the window).

Here, the light was behind the camera, providing a nice, even light across the groom’s face. Backlighting

Backlighting involves shooting into the light (i.e., your camera faces the window).

Backlighting causes a loss of contrast, and the background will most likely be overexposed. But you may choose to shoot this way because obliterating background details can get rid of distractions (such as a building or a car that detracts from the scene).

Anyway, backlighting works well if you want a dramatic look or if you’re shooting a silhouette. But for a standard portrait, it’s usually not the most flattering light.

Here, I chose to purposely backlight the bridal party. To try and retain some contrast, I simply turned the blinds slightly so the light wasn’t coming directly through the window as much. Split or side lighting

Here’s a beautiful type of portrait lighting:

Side lighting.

Simply position your subject next to the window so that the light hits their face at a 90-degree angle. Side light can be a good way to create some shape, tone, and texture; because it scrapes across your subject from the side, it defines highlight and shadow detail in the face and body.

Side light is also a great way of hiding or highlighting certain features. For example, if your model has blemishes on one side of her face, you can position that side of the face in shadow.

Here, the light was coming from the left, which made the bride the brightest part of the image. Light with intention

To highlight your subject’s face, simply turn their body away from the light source and turn their face back toward the camera.

Also, if you can find a location where the background tone is darker than the subject, it will help the model stand out.

This could mean choosing a location in your house that has darker walls (i.e., not a white or cream).

Here, the light was coming from the window to the right of the bride. I asked the bride to turn her body away from the light and then bring her face back toward the window. It’s how I achieved the shadow detail on the left side of her face and body. Quality of light

Lighting direction is a big deal – but the quality of the light matters, too.

Sunlight, window light, reflected light, diffused light, and backlight all offer a different quality. Direct light sources tend to be harsher and will emphasize skin imperfections. And direct midday sunlight can create hard shadows in the eye sockets, which can look like dark bags.

If you have to shoot during midday, remember that the light is coming from directly above. So get the models to tilt their heads up toward the sunlight; that way, the entire face is lit and the sockets are bag-free!

Before shooting, consider the quality of the light. Is it harsh? If so, you may want to introduce some sort of diffuser (such as a scrim) or get into the shade.

I was shooting indoors, but the light coming through the window was too harsh. So I asked my assistant to hold up a scrim, which created a beautiful, even, soft light.

Sometimes, natural reflectors can be found on location. White walls and big white trucks, when hit by the sun, become diffused light sources – and are much softer than a direct light source like the sun.

This image was taken outdoors using a translucent reflector. I asked my assistant to hold the reflector between the subjects and myself. This created beautiful, soft, non-directional diffused light on the subjects’ faces and filled in all shadows. The natural sunlight behind them added a nice highlight to her hair. You can even see the reflection of the reflector (as catchlights!) in their eyes. Good light: conclusion

Now you know all about good light and how you can use it for beautiful portraits.

So with these tips in mind, go out and take some photos. Pay careful attention to the quality of the light, as well as the direction.

Pretty soon, you’ll be a lighting expert!

Now over to you:

What type of light do you like the most? Do you have a favorite lighting quality and direction? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

The post What Is Good Light? (And How to Use It for Beautiful Portraits) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Andrew Szopory.

Nikon Releases Two “Micro” Lenses for Z Series Cameras

Fri, 06/11/2021 - 06:00

The post Nikon Releases Two “Micro” Lenses for Z Series Cameras appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Nikon has officially released two Z series lenses and announced the development of two more. These lenses will enhance the already impressive Z-mount lineup and should go a long way toward making Nikon’s mirrorless system a compelling option for beginners and professionals alike.

The newly released lenses, the Nikkor Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S and the Nikkor Z MC 50mm f/2.8, both feature 1:1 magnification capabilities – a first for Nikon’s Z series. And the lenses under development, the Nikkor Z 28mm f/2.8 and the Nikkor Z 40mm f/2, will offer compact, (likely) low-priced glass for travel photography, walkaround photography, and more.

The Nikon Z 28mm f/2.8 is currently under development.

The Z 105mm f/2.8 will feature outstanding image quality at an ideal short-telephoto focal length, perfect for standard macro photography – of flowers, plants, and less-skittish insects – as well as product photography, detail photography, and even portraits. The maximum f/2.8 aperture should offer smooth backgrounds (Nikon promises “the beautiful bokeh of a micro lens”); you’ll also get Vibration Reduction for working at high magnifications or in low light. And for photographers requiring fast focus, the 105mm f/2.8 packs a quick (and quiet) STM motor.

The Nikon Z 105mm f/2.8

The new Z 50mm f/2.8, on the other hand, is designed as an all-purpose lens, though it still offers a 1:1 magnification ratio for high-quality macro shots. While the 50mm focal length and small working distance will make photographing some macro subjects more difficult – insects, for instance – you can still capture beautiful detail photos, and Nikon guarantees “beautiful bokeh” for pro-level macro and portrait results. If you’re a casual photographer, you’ll love the low-light capabilities offered by the f/2.8 maximum aperture, as well as the lightweight, compact body; you can mount the 50mm f/2.8 on your camera, slip it in your bag, and carry it around all day for spur-of-the-moment photography.

The Nikon Z 50mm f/2.8 mounted on the Z6 II.

According to the press release, the Nikon 105mm f/2.8 and the Nikon 50mm f/2.8 will start shipping at the end of June, though B&H notes an expected availability in July. You can currently preorder the two lenses for $999 USD and $649 USD, respectively.

As for the 28mm f/2.8 and 40mm f/2: While Nikon is keeping the details under wraps, you can expect a 2021 release date. So keep an eye out!

The Nikon 40mm f/2, a compact, all-purpose lens.

Now over to you:

What do you think of these new lenses from Nikon? Are you considering buying any? Are there any lenses you wish Nikon would release?

The post Nikon Releases Two “Micro” Lenses for Z Series Cameras appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

11 Street Photography Ideas to Spark Your Creativity

Thu, 06/10/2021 - 06:00

The post 11 Street Photography Ideas to Spark Your Creativity appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

Coming up with fresh, interesting street photography ideas can be a challenge – especially if you’re first starting to explore the genre.

But don’t worry. Because in this article, I share 11 ideas for beautiful photos, all designed to help you get excited about street photography.

Some ideas are a little more abstract than others; some may suit your tastes and others may not. But don’t only consider the ideas you feel comfortable with. Step outside your comfort zone and try something new. It’ll help you grow as a photographer, and it’ll add a richer dynamic to your portfolio of images!

Nikon D1X | 20mm | f/2.8 | 1/8s
© Kevin Landwer-Johan 1. People connecting

Instead of photographing individuals or groups of individuals, look for people interacting with each other. Aim to capture their relationship. This may be as simple as the exchange that takes place when someone buys a newspaper or street food. 

I photographed the ladies below in a street market in Myanmar. The place was packed, and busy, too, with people coming and going. The two women met in the middle of the street and had a good catch-up. I have no idea what they were talking about, but it seemed like they had not seen each other for a while.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Standing close to them, I took a series of photos. They were engrossed in their conversation and quite oblivious to my presence.

2. Bicycles

I think you’ll find bicycles in most cities, towns, and villages, no matter your location. And they make wonderful photography subjects! You can photograph people riding bicycles, or bicycles that have been parked, bicycles with their owners, and bicycles without.

Look at the shapes and lines. Emphasize the wheels, handlebars, or seat. Come in close and consider the details. All bikes are unique and have some special features that you can focus on.

I’ve been photographing bicycles since I got my first camera. By now I have a pretty good collection of bike images.

Nikon D800 | 55mm | f/3.5 | 1/320s | ISO 400
© Kevin Landwer-Johan 3. Shadows and reflections

This idea is a little more abstract, and it’s all about looking for interesting shadows and reflections to photograph. 

Note that you can find shadows and reflections made by pretty much anything. And it’s not about the item itself, just the effect of it interacting with the light. 

Dark shadows on a bright, sunny day are created by interestingly shaped items. Bikes make wonderful shadows. Trees do, too. Use your imagination when the sun’s out, or at night when passing under a street light.

(Also, think long and hard about whether you want to photograph just the shadow, or whether you want to include the item making the shadow, too.)

Reflections are all around you: In shop windows, the chrome of a classic car, puddles on the pavement after rain. Once you begin to look, you’ll start to see them everywhere.

Nikon D800 | 35mm | f/8 | 1/200s | ISO 400
© Kevin Landwer-Johan 4. A bird’s-eye view

Look for locations where you are above the action. Capturing a bird’s-eye view of a street scene offers a perspective most people won’t otherwise experience.

After all, a view from above shows the world differently from how most of us see it.

So how can you achieve the bird’s-eye view perspective? Search for a footbridge or an overpass. Balconies, second-floor windows, and mezzanine floors are also all great places to shoot from above.

Nikon D700 | 35mm | f/4.5 | 1/10s | ISO 400
© Kevin Landwer-Johan 5. Interesting modes of transport

How are people getting around? What are they using to carry their stuff from one place to another? Look for unusual and interesting modes of transport to photograph.

You might find an old person pulling a cart or an entrepreneur with a vehicle crafted to fit their specific needs. Maybe you’ll see a business person in a suit on a scooter or skateboard.

Many cities have public transportation that may seem common to their inhabitants – but it’s unique to the location and very unusual outside of those places.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan 6. Find the best light

Morning and evening are often considered the best time to take photographs because the light is richer and more flattering. But whatever time of day you can get out and about with your camera, always try to determine where the light is best.

In street photography, you need to study your locations and decide where to position yourself to make the most of the light. You can’t change the light, so you must do what you can to manage it well. 

When you can’t get out in the morning, late afternoon, or evening, you’ll need to try harder to find the best light. It’s not impossible, just challenging. Look for where the light reflects and plays off surfaces in an interesting way. Position yourself and wait.

You may be surprised at what you can photograph.

Nikon D800 | 55mm | f/4.5 | 1/320s | ISO 400
© Kevin Landwer-Johan 7. Work one location

Shoot in the same location, over and over again. For a week, a month, or a year. Commit to spending time at the same location regularly – for longer than you think you will need to.

By sticking with a single location, you’ll be forced to push yourself creatively.

Consider what makes the place unique or special. Aim to capture its character. What do you observe happening each time you’re there? Visit at different times of the day and night. How does the light vary? Shoot from as many different angles as possible.

Sure, it’ll seem hard, especially at first. But it’ll be great for developing your eye and your creativity.

Nikon D1X | 35mm | f/3.2 | 1/125s
© Kevin Landwer-Johan 8. People working

Find people doing what they’re good at. Ask permission and offer free prints of your best photos.

When someone’s engrossed in what they’re good at, it’s easy to capture expression and feeling. You may be surprised at what you can photograph just from walking down the street.

Once you’ve found a person to photograph, observe them carefully. Look for peak moments in their activity. Watch for repetition. Capture the most significant aspects of their tasks with the aim of telling a story about what they are doing.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan 9. Shoot in black and white

Working in black and white is a classic – and somewhat cliché – street photography idea, but I feel compelled to include it. Black and white is easy to overlook. But it’s a great way to produce powerful photos.

Some photos are simply stronger in black and white. Some subjects and lighting conditions just lend themselves to monochrome.

Are you struggling with inspiration? Thinking and photographing in black and white can be the perfect way to get your creativity flowing!

Strip away the color. Pay careful attention to the light and tone. Look to present more feeling in your photos.

Nikon D800 | 35mm | f/1.4 | 1/4000s | ISO 400
© Kevin Landwer-Johan 10. Photograph people (and interesting things)

Get bold. Take some street portraits. And if possible, get your subject to pose with a prop.

Why? Props help people feel more comfortable. Plus, when a person’s holding something interesting, their attention will be a little distracted. They won’t be totally focused on you and your camera.

Ask the people you photograph some questions about their prop. Show that you are interested. This can also bring up valuable information, which can then lead to other street portrait ideas.

Nikon D800 | 20mm | f/2.8 | 1/60s | ISO 800
© Kevin Landwer-Johan 11. Local animals

Look for birds, dogs, and cats in the street to photograph. Capture them as they sleep and as they eat.

Find a cat who owns the space it lives in. Look for a dog that wants attention from everyone who passes. Capture birds as they clean up crumbs left on an outdoor cafe table.

You’ll end up with some wonderfully intimate street shots!

Nikon D800 | 105mm | f/4 | 1/250s | ISO 200
© Kevin Landwer-Johan Street photography ideas: final words

Hopefully, you’re now feeling far more motivated – and you have plenty of ideas worth photographing.

So choose one or two items that resonate with you. If none of the above work, check out the list below, where I’ve included some additional options. Work on a few to see which ones stick. Then go with the flow, and you’ll soon find you don’t want to put your camera down!

My list of additional street photography ideas:

  • Environmental portraits
  • People and signs
  • Minimalism
  • Empty streets
  • Current issues
  • Hands
  • Close-up portraits
  • Silhouettes
  • Slow shutter speed
  • Decisive moment
  • Street art
  • One color
  • Shapes (squares, circles, triangles)
  • Looking through things (frame within a frame)
  • Worm’s-eye view
  • Reflections
  • Photograph from inside
  • One lens
Street photography idea FAQs What makes a good street photo?

It captures the essence of a place as you perceive it.

How do I start street photography?

Pick up your camera and head out the door. It’s as simple as that!

What are the rules for street photography?

I know of no rules for street photography. But here are a few suggestions: Photograph what you’re interested in. Be polite and stay safe. Make good art.

Is street photography legal?

In most countries, you are allowed to photograph whatever you like so long as you are on public property.

The post 11 Street Photography Ideas to Spark Your Creativity appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.