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6 Essential Groom Preparation Shots for Wedding Photographers

6 Essential Groom Preparation Shots for Wedding Photographers

A lot of wedding photography education focuses on the images of the ceremony and reception, and while those are, of course, quite important, the preparation photos can provide treasured memories of the big day. Part of those are the groom preparation shots, and this helpful video tutorial will show you six essential looks that you will want to remember for your next wedding. 

Coming to you from John Branch IV Photography, this great video tutorial will show you six essential groom preparation shots and how to get them. The actual ceremony and reception are often a blur for the couple, and good prep shots can help contextualize a lot of the day for them and provide some hidden treasures of joy, excitement, nervousness, interactions with family and friends, and more, plus they are often a bit more intimate than the rest of the day, thus providing a very different and welcome look at the day for the happy couple. It’s well worth having a good plan for the prep shots, just as you would the ceremony and reception. Check out the video above for the full rundown. 

If you would like to continue to learn about wedding photography, be sure to check out “How To Become A Professional Commercial Wedding Photographer With Lee Morris and Patrick Hall!”

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5 Essential Photo Tutorials To Get You Ready For The Autumn Season

5 Essential Photo Tutorials To Get You Ready For The Autumn Season

Here are five photography tutorials that’ll fill you with tips and ideas for shooting during the autumn – with the orange shades of the leaves, it’s a really pretty season for photos.

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General Photography

Autumn Leaves

 

As the weather’s getting cooler and trees are losing their green tint to shades which are much warmer we thought it would be a good idea to bring ten of our popular autumn photography tutorials together in one place. That way when you’re planning a day of autumn photography you don’t have to go all over the web searching for ideas and suggestions.
 

1. Autumn Macro Tips With A Compact Camera

Just because you’re using a compact camera doesn’t mean you can’t shoot some interesting, autumn-themed macro shots. Here are some tips and hints to help compact users perfect their technique.

 

2. Photographing Reflections During Autumn

With such bold colours on offer, autumn’s the perfect season for capturing reflections. We have tips on capturing a mirror-like reflection as well as advice on shooting more abstract style shots.

 

3. Autumn Garden Photography Tips

Your garden is full of autumn photography subjects which means you can stay close to home and still capture the season with your camera and lens.

 

4. Tips On Shooting Autumn Landscapes

Capture the autumn season with your wide-angle lens and you’ll soon have a collection of autumn landscapes that really pack some punch.

 

5. Autumn Shooting at Arboretums

Here are a few tips on photography in an Arboretum. With trees all around and wildlife and flowers abundant, there’s no excuse not to break the camera out!   

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Essential street photography tips – Amateur Photographer

Essential street photography tips - Amateur Photographer

The Street round of our Amateur Photographer of the Year competition (APOY) is now open, and we can’t wait to see your entries.

In partnership with MPB

Some of the earliest photographs ever taken were of street scenes, so this genre is embedded into the very DNA of photography.

A lot of people want to try street photography but may feel intimidated or self-conscious, or not sure what equipment to use – or indeed what subjects to photograph.

The good news is that this is a very wide-ranging genre, so even if you don’t want to take street portraits, there are plenty of alternatives. Read on for some essential advice and tips – there is also a great guide from MPB here, and an enlightening YouTube discussion on the choice of gear.

Choose your gear carefully
Street photography is forever associated with people in trench coats wielding Leicas, but you don’t need to buy very expensive gear to unleash your inner Cartier Bresson.

Traditionally, street photographers have favoured smaller cameras and lenses as they can work more subtly and discretely, and a shorter lens can be less intimidating for the subject than having a long telephoto stuck in their face.

Essential street photography tips - Amateur Photographer 1

More compact camera systems are also less tiring to carry as you walk around all day. Mirrorless systems, such as the Olympus OM-D, Fujifilm X or Sony A ranges, are great choices and you can pick up quality used examples from dealers at great prices. Lens-wise, a 28mm, 35mm and 50mm are classic focal lengths but a longer prime lens, e.g. 85mm or even 100mm equivalent, are useful for distant portraits. Tilting screens come in handy too.

Essential street photography tips - Amateur Photographer 2

Street photography and the law
A lot of people are worried about being stopped by the authorities, or even suspicious passers-by, for enjoying street photography, but there is no need to be scared.

Photography and the law can be a complex issue, but UK legislation is quite liberal when it comes to shooting the general public in public places. Problems tend to arise when the location is privately owned – for example a shopping centre. Government buildings and transport hubs can be another issue.

If somebody objects to having their photograph taken, be polite and move on – it’s a good idea to have some business cards with your contact details too, as that tends to put people’s mind at rest. Be cautious about photographing children (unless you have parental permission) and be sensitive to cultural and religious differences. We have a fuller guide here.

Essential street photography tips - Amateur Photographer 3

Be prepared to work quickly
If you are shooting in a candid way, you might only have a split second to capture a street scene as it unfolds – a funny juxtaposition or a striking-looking person engaged in an animated conversation. So if you find a promising scene, be patient and be prepared to wait for the ‘decisive moment.’ Modern autofocus systems are great at capturing fast-moving subjects, or you can pre-focus on a particular spot before somebody walks by, for example.

Essential street photography tips - Amateur Photographer 4

Ezra Bailey

There is no such thing as bad light
Light is light, so make sure you get the most out of it. While landscape photographers may get up very early to capture the soft dawn light, street photographers can still get great results in strong mid-day sunshine – the prominent shadows and powerful contrast can look great, especially in black and white.

Be sensitive to how the light changes in different parts of the street and don’t get stuck to one spot – street photography should involve a lot of walking. When the light starts to fade, don’t be afraid to push up the ISO on your camera or open the aperture wider. Image stabilisation now enables you to stay sharp at much slower shutter speeds, and a grainy/high ISO shot is always better than a soft one.

Essential street photography tips - Amateur Photographer 5

Think about shapes
Some of the best modern street photographers, such as Alan Schaller, are very skilled at capturing interesting graphic shapes, often in quite a minimalist way. So think about angles, lines, striking blocks of colour and so on – even the most uninspiring town usually has these if you look for them hard enough.

You often need a wider-angle lens to soak up a graphically striking street scene; this kind of imagery can also work very well in black and white, particularly on a dull, overcast day

Essential street photography tips - Amateur Photographer 6

Watch the backgrounds on portraits
If you are more interested in street portraits, don’t be afraid to go up to an interesting person and ask permission to take their photo. The worst that will happen is that they say no.

If they agree, choose a suitable aperture; a wider aperture or longer lens will make it easier to blur out the background. Shooting in Aperture Priority mode is ideal for this.

Focus carefully on the eyes and watch out for distractions in the background like rubbish bins or signs sticking out of people’s heads. Striking up a conversation as you shoot will help subjects to relax and not pose quite as much.

Essential street photography tips - Amateur Photographer 7

@ellptr

Become a people watcher
You don’t always need to walk around; often you can great photos watching the world go by as you sit outside a café or bar. A tilting screen makes it even easier to take shots without anyone noticing!


Further reading
Street photography essentials

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Fstoppers Reviews Haida’s NanoPro Magnetic Kit: Essential Filters Made Easy

Fstoppers Reviews Haida’s NanoPro Magnetic Kit: Essential Filters Made Easy

While there are dozens of options for filters, covering different effects, sizes, and manufacturers, I’ve found that I only need a few key filters for a landscape shoot. I like to use neutral density filters and circular polarizers, both of which are impactful and less easy to replicate in software. Haida’s NanoPro line has delivered great results in my past experience — can their magnetic filter line deliver the same quality?

The Kit

Haida sells a number of pieces in their “Magnetic Series”, including UV, ND, variable ND, graduated ND, and polarizing filters, along with their astro-focused clear night filter and adapter rings. In this review, I’ll be taking a look at the 82mm kit, which includes everything necessary for use with 82mm and 77mm lenses, thanks to the included adapter ring. For filters, the kit includes a circular polarizer, a 6 stop ND filter, and a 10 stop ND filter. It also includes a leather carrying case and magnetic lens cap.

Haida’s packaging is clean and functional, with the filters already stored in the included carrying case. Unboxing is simple, requiring just unwrapping the filters, which came pristine from the factory. Beyond that, there’s not much to the question of usability — the filters attach easily to the magnetic ring once you’ve mounted it to your lens. You can stack filters on top of one another, while the thin filter rings reduce the risk of vignetting from the stacked filters.

Fstoppers Reviews Haida’s NanoPro Magnetic Kit: Essential Filters Made Easy 8

Attaching and detaching is literally a click, with the filters snapping together firmly, and separating under fingertip pressure. While the filters are secure, it’s possible to drop them if you’re not careful, or even knock them off if something catches the front of the lens just right. The very thin filter rings, while nice for preventing vignetting, don’t offer a ton of grip options. This lack of grip also impacts the case, where you have to fish the filters carefully out of the deeper pockets, otherwise, you’ll end up smudging the glass. These issues aren’t unique to these filters, as they affect any filter with a thin ring, but they are more noticeable given the intent of the magnetic design. A filter that makes it this easy to take on and off should also make it easy to manipulate and store.

While the magnetic attachment means you won’t often need to screw them in, the threads are cut very cleanly. This makes it easy to attach the magnetic base, as well as easy to unscrew after use.

The Performance

Beyond the usability, which is quite good, the biggest question is how do the filters perform? It makes no sense to put a $10 filter with poor performance in front of a $2,000 lens. Fortunately, these filters deliver a great quality image, comparable to the B&W, Breakthrough, and Tiffen filters I use and tested against.

In testing, I found no unusual issues with flare (adding a filter always adds the possibility of flare, as there’s another piece of glass in the way). Neither the packaging nor filter itself indicates whether it’s multicoated, but I did find them easy to clean and flare resistant, potentially indicating that there is some level of coating.

Fstoppers Reviews Haida’s NanoPro Magnetic Kit: Essential Filters Made Easy 9

The circular polarizer has a pretty unique design. Since the filters can rotate freely within the magnetic ring, the polarizer is just a fixed ring, relying on the rotation to adjust the degree of polarization. While it’s tough to say whether this translates to a lower degree of vignetting, at least it’s a cool design. 

The neutral density filters appear to match the rated reduction in light. With them in place, they matched both the level of reduction provided by similarly rated filters, as well as the mathematically expected change in exposure.

Color casts are a little tricky to judge. I’ve found that every significantly dark ND filter can introduce some sort of color cast and I’ve even had different results per lens. Fortunately, these don’t produce a strong cast. Fstoppers Reviews Haida’s NanoPro Magnetic Kit: Essential Filters Made Easy 10

Evaluating the polarizer’s performance is tricky. In many scenes, the effect itself can be variable and subtle, depending on how the polarizer is set. I didn’t notice any issues in use, and it seemed to perform well against the benchmark filters I was referencing. In the past, I’ve found that as long as a polarizer doesn’t negatively impact image quality, it’s probably fine.

Overall, the kit is well thought out. The choice of included filters is very logical, with it covering all the essentials I would find myself wanting. I’d love to see a version that includes the night sky filter or the black mist filter, as these are the other two filters from Haida’s line that I would definitely include in the bag. The lack of a graduated neutral density filter isn’t a significant loss, as those filters are less necessary with modern camera’s dynamic range capabilities.

If you’re looking at this set and have any possibility of getting an 82mm lens now or in the future, definitely consider opting for 82mm over 77mm. It looks like 82mm (or even larger, unfortunately) is increasingly becoming the standard size on lenses. Fortunately, it’s not a big penalty when it comes to carrying filters, and the included 82mm to 77mm adapter works well. On the topic of other inclusions, a direct 82mm to 77mm magnetic adapter would be great, letting you keep one magnet ring on each lens, then just swapping filters between them in use.

Conclusion

Haida’s NanoPro magnetic filter lineup performs quite well. When it comes to filter performance, I have no complaints. The filters performed well and were in line with their rated values, all while remaining quite cost-effective. The magnetic system may be a great fit for some users, while others may prefer the square slot style of adapters, or even just the traditional screw-in filters. Overall, I think this system strikes a good balance between portability, thanks to being smaller than those square filters, speed of operation, and quality of results. Haida’s NanoPro kit is available now, and includes the circular polarizer, 6-stop and 10-stop ND, 77mm adapter ring, and a magnetic lens cap.

What I Liked

  • Included filters are all essential and very useful

  • Magnetic system works well in the field

  • Included carrying case makes it a convenient single “kit” for essential landscape filters

  • Magnetic lens cap is useful, and a smart solution to lens cap incompatibility

What Could Be Improved

  • Filter rings are very slim, which can make handling them tricky

  • “Soft” incompatibility with lens caps is disappointing, albeit understandable

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Samsung Galaxy A12 Camera review: Essential recommendation

Samsung Galaxy A12 Camera review: Essential recommendation

The Samsung Galaxy A12 is a budget smartphone competing in the Essential segment ($200 or under). Despite the modest price point, it offers some impressive specs, including an octa-core processor, a 6.5-inch TFT display with HD+ resolution, and 64 GB of internal memory to store your photos and videos.

For the rear camera, the primary module with a 48 MP sensor is assisted by a 5 MP ultra-wide, a 2 MP macro camera, and a depth sensor. Let’s see how this combo does in the DXOMARK Camera test.

Key camera specifications:

  • Primary: 48 MP sensor, f/2.0-aperture lens, AF
  • Ultra-wide: 5 MP sensor, f/2.2-aperture lens
  • Macro: 2 MP sensor, f2.4-aperture lens
  • Depth: 2 MP sensor, f/2.4-aperture lens
  • LED flash
  • Video: 1080p/30 fps

About DXOMARK Camera tests: For scoring and analysis in our smartphone camera reviews, DXOMARK engineers capture and evaluate over 3000 test images and more than 2.5 hours of video both in controlled lab environments and in natural indoor and outdoor scenes, using the camera’s default settings. This article is designed to highlight the most important results of our testing. For more information about the DXOMARK Camera test protocol, click here. More details on how we score smartphone cameras are available here.

Test summary

Pros

  • Good target exposure and fairly wide dynamic range in bright light and indoors
  • Stable white balance, well-controlled color artifacts
  • Natural blur gradient in bokeh mode
  • Mostly accurate exposure and white balance as well as decent detail in bright-light videos

Cons

  • Exposure and dynamic range instabilities across consecutive shots and in videos
  • Noise on moving subjects, lack of detail in low light
  • Low level of detail on ultra-wide camera
  • Focus failures in medium- and long-range tele shots in bright light and indoors
  • Ineffective stabilization and limited dynamic range in videos

With a DXOMARK Camera score of 90, the Samsung Galaxy A12 cannot keep up with higher-end devices using more sophisticated camera technologies, but delivers very decent camera value for the money.

Samsung Galaxy A12 Camera review: Essential recommendation 11

Exposure is accurate and dynamic range is fairly wide in landscape shots, colors are rendered accurately, and white balance is often pleasant.

Exposure is usually accurate in photo mode and a fairly wide dynamic range allows for shooting in challenging high-contrast conditions. White balance, something many devices in the Samsung’s price bracket struggle with, is nice in most conditions, too. However, instabilities prevent a higher Photo score. HDR mode does not reliably kick in on consecutive shots; we saw some autofocus failures; and bokeh mode does not activate for some challenging scenes.

Samsung Galaxy A12 Camera review: Essential recommendation 12

Night: slight underexposure, limited dynamic range

Samsung Galaxy A12 Camera review: Essential recommendation 13

Wide (18 mm): lack of detail, inaccurate skin tones, corner softness

The ultra-wide camera allows you to squeeze more scene into the frame, but image quality lacks in some areas. With the 5 MP sensor, texture rendering is low and there are no intermediate steps when zooming between ultra-wide and primary cameras. Tele zooming on the primary camera usually results in low detail as well, but the Samsung’s overall Zoom performance is still among the best in the Essential segment, despite the lack of a dedicated tele-camera. 

Samsung Galaxy A12, bokeh mode

Samsung Galaxy A12 Camera review: Essential recommendation 15

Samsung Galaxy A12, crop: slight depth estimation issues but natural effect overall

Samsung Galaxy A12, 90 mm tele zoom

Samsung Galaxy A12 Camera review: Essential recommendation 17

Samsung Galaxy A12, crop: noise and low level of detail; good target exposure but limited dynamic range

The A12 is capable of recording pretty nice looking 1080p/30 fps videos in bright light, but stabilization isn’t too effective and limited dynamic range means high-contrast conditions are best avoided. Things go slightly downhill in indoor and low-light conditions, where strong noise becomes visible.

Exposure and white balance are good in bright light videos, but ineffective stabilization results in shaky footage.

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4 Essential Quick Tips On Photographing Standing Stones

4 Essential Quick Tips On Photographing Standing Stones

4 Essential Quick Tips On Photographing Standing Stones 18

 

Always an interesting subject for photographers, standing stones and stone circles have fascinated people for centuries; but what is the best way to photograph them?

 

1. Lighting

Although standing stones change little through the day, the prime factors for photographing standing stones are lighting, atmosphere and, preferably an absence of people. Lighting can be good at either end of the day, but the absence of people usually restricts the keen photographer to an early start.

 

2. Wide Circles

The problem with many stone circles – including my local circle, Castlerigg, just outside Keswick, is that they are relatively low in height, and very extensive in width – so if you are to include the whole circle, you need a really interesting sky to balance the long, thin foreground. A graduated filter can be of enormous use here, as the stones early in the day may be in fairly low light, but the sky might be three or four stops lighter; without a grad, exposure for the sky will give a very underexposed foreground, conversely, exposure for the foreground will severely overexposed sky. An alternative would be to bracket exposures and join them using HDR software.

Compositionally, it’s often best when trying to get the whole circle in either to take a series of overlapping pictures and join them as a panorama or by using a fairly wide lens, to give the foreground stones more dominance in the picture. 

 

3. Focus On A Part Of The Circle

An alternative way of portraying standing stones is by capturing part, rather than the whole. I spend a great deal of time looking at the relationship of the stones with each other, and their background, in order to create a picture that is well balanced. This technique also works well if there are other people present as it is much easier to select a few stones free of people than to wait for the whole circle to clear. This is particularly important if a group of stones – or their background – might benefit from afternoon light when there are more people present.

 

4. Try Black & White

Consider also the best way to portray the stones – whether colour or black & white, unless there is great sky colour present, such as sunrise or sunset, I like the timeless quality of black & white on standing stones, to simplify the image and render them as a set of neutral tones.

So next time you find yourself near a stone circle, set your alarm and capture the timeless quality of these ancient sites.
 

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12 Essential Tips For Capturing Images At The Edinburgh Fringe

12 Essential Tips For Capturing Images At The Edinburgh Fringe

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is a huge arts festival that runs in August and even though you need tickets for many of the shows at the Fringe, you can visit the Royal Mile for free where you’ll find plenty of street entertainers you can capture images of.

Due to the event’s popularity and the variety of things on offer to photograph, you will see all sorts of photographic approaches so there’s not really hard-and-fast rules to follow more like guidelines that’ll help you capture the best of what the Fringe has to offer. Also, although taking photos is fun do remember that you’re actually there to enjoy yourself so do take your eye away from the viewfinder occasionally and just enjoy the atmosphere.

 

Fringe performers

Photo by Cattyal

 

1. Lens Choices 

A standard zoom is perfect for the sort of distances you’ll be taking photos from. If you own a telezoom do take it, however, someone will more than likely get in the way if you’re using a longer lens so use it for tightly-cropped shots rather than trying to get a shot from a distance. Wides can work but make the point of getting in close to fill the frame and accept that you are going to get fussy backgrounds.

 

2. Know Where You Are Going

Pick up a guide as it lists times as well as locations of where things are happening, plus if it’s your first time visiting, there’s usually a handy map included to help you find your way. The best location is on the Royal Mile where you get street performers and artists promoting their shows with mini-performances.

 

3. Be Patient 

It does get bustling with visitors and performers coming and going all day but hang around for long enough and you will find something to aim your lens at.

 

4. Take Care 

Due to how busy the Royal Mile gets remember to take care of your possessions and don’t leave anything unattended. It can also get hot at this time of year, so remember to keep hydrated and you’ll probably encounter a sudden downpour, too so keep a brolly handy.

 

Fringe performers

Photo by  Cattyal

 

5. Payment For Performance 

Some performers would like a payment for posing and it is up to you if you want to make a contribution. Some of the shows are excellent and you might feel that a sample of enjoyable street theatre is worth some small change.

 

6. Be Polite 

As they’re performing in public, on the street they tend to not mind you photographing them. However, if the opportunity arrives, it is always polite to ask them if it’s OK to take a few shots. 

 

7. Capture Close-Ups 

As they’re passionate about their performance you’ll have plenty of interesting expressions and movements to photograph so get in close if the opportunity unfolds.

 

8. Crowd Or No Crowd? 

If there’s a big crowd or the street they’re on is particularly cluttered hide it by cropping in close to the performer. However, if the crowd’s having a particularly good time, having them in the shot can work well in an image with the performer. Alternatively, just capture an image of the spectators watching the show. 

 

Fringe crowd

Photo by David Pritchard

9. Speed & Position 

Shoot quickly, watch the background and move around to explore different camera angles.

 

10. Different Perspective 

Performance shots are great but don’t overlook capturing shots of performers scooping up change from guitar cases or moving position to set-up for the next part of their act.

 

11. Continuous Shooting & Focus 

Switch to continuous shooting but don’t be tempted to constantly machine-gun away. Instead, take the time to watch for the key moments that are worth capturing. Continuous focusing will help you maintain focus on the street performers.

 

12. Shutter Priority 

Consider using Shutter Priority so you can decide how much you freeze / add motion blur to action shots. To add crowd movement to your shot you’ll need a slower shutter speed and a support. Tripods take up too much space so use a monopod or even your camera bag as a support. Use a small aperture and low ISO to get the slower speeds you need. You may need to experiment to find the exact shutter speed that works but the beauty of digital means you can check the screen, adjust and take another shot.

 

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3 Basic But Essential Tips On Using Creative Apertures For Portraiture

3 Basic But Essential Tips On Using Creative Apertures For Portraiture

Here are some top tips for using apertures to create great portraits indoors and out at any time during the year.

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Creative

Portrait

Photo by Joshua Waller

 

Aperture is very important when it comes to portraiture as it controls how much of the background and foreground is in focus, which has an effect on how much of the focus is on the subject of your portrait. 

 

1. Depth-Of-Field

There is an amount of front and back sharpness in front of and behind the main focus point of your image and this is referred to as the depth-of-field.

The amount of depth-of-field within an image depends on several factors:

  • The distance between the camera and the subject – The closer the subject the more shallow the depth-of-field. With distant scenes, therefore, there is plenty of depth-of-field.
  • Choice of lens aperture – The wider the lens aperture (ie /2.8, f/4) the shallower the depth-of-field, and the smaller the aperture (f/16, f/22) the greater the depth-of-field.
  • Focal length – Contrary to popular belief a wide-angle lens does not give greater depth-of-field than a telephoto lens if the subject magnification is the same. You can test this for yourself. Take a frame-filling headshot with a wide-angle lens (you will have to get close to the subject, so warn them!) and then do the same frame-filling shot with a telephoto – this means backing away from the subject. Use the same aperture for both and you will see that the depth-of-field is the same.

Some cameras come equipped with a depth-of-field preview button, letting you see how much depth-of-field you have before taking the shot, but you can just experiment with depth-of-field and preview the shots on-screen to see what works best if your camera doesn’t have this particular function. 

 

Portrait

Photo by Joshua Waller

2. Photographing People

In terms of portraits, especially outdoors, wider lens apertures are often best because they throw the background nicely out of focus. How effective this is depends on the scene and focal length as well as aperture choice. If your subject is standing quite close to a distracting background even shooting at f/2.8 or f/4 will not throw the background out of focus but bringing the subject forward a couple of metres should work nicely.

If you do use a wide aperture for your portraits, do make doubly sure that the subject’s eyes are in focus. With the shallow depth-of-field created by wide apertures, even a small error can mean unsharp eyes and you do not want that in your portraits.

 

Portrait

Photo by Joshua Waller

3. Bokeh Backgrounds

How the background is thrown out of focus depends on the lens. Bokeh is the term used to describe the pictorial quality of the out of focus blur. Lens design and aperture shape play a large part in how effective its bokeh is, so do try it with your own optics. A good test is shooting a close-up portrait outside against a background with some bright pinpoints of light, ie sun glinting off water, car lights, streetlamps etc.

Of course, you might prefer greater sharpness in your backgrounds and that is when small apertures are used. The important thing is to keep your eye on the background and if it looks messy or cluttered use wide apertures rather than small ones.

 

Portrait

Photo by Joshua Waller

 

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5 Basic But Essential Top Portrait Photography Tips

5 Basic But Essential Top Portrait Photography Tips

Model

Photo by Joshua Waller

1. Start With The Basics

Once you get your camera out of its bag it’s easy to keep clicking the shutter button and forget you need to check backgrounds, subject position etc. Always look for shooting locations where the background isn’t full of distracting objects that clutter the scene and where possible, put some distance between your subject and the background. This will not only add depth but it’ll also make it easier to throw the background out of focus. If you’re using a compact this can be done via Portrait mode. For those with more advanced cameras, this means choosing a wider aperture. It’s also important to focus on your subject’s eyes and even if you’re shooting a friend or family member, don’t forget to keep giving direction.
 

2. Natural Light Is Free

Where possible it’s best to avoid using your camera’s built-in flash for portraits as most of the time, the results won’t be very professional-looking. Instead, make the most of window light which will help you create portraits to be proud of. North facing windows are perfect but you can use any that aren’t in the direct path of the sun. Overcast days are great for this as light is naturally diffused but you can get a similar effect by hanging voile or something similar. 

If your house lights are on, switch them off and do clean the window before you begin!

A reflector will come in handy for adding light to the side of your model’s face not next to the window, balancing the exposure in the process. You can buy reflectors but they can just as easily be created from a piece of white card, foil etc.

Try spot metering off your model’s face then have fun experimenting with composition. Tight crops on the face work well but do try using the window to help frame a couple of your shots. 
 

3. Want More Impact?

Full-length portraits work well but for something that has more ‘Pow’ behind it, move in close. If your subject and yourself are comfortable doing so this could mean physically moving closer together or reach for a longer zoom lens if your model feels more comfortable with a wider working distance. Something around the 85-135mm mark is a popular choice for headshots but do be careful with your shutter speeds when using longer lenses if working hand-held.

Face

Photo by Joshua Waller
 

4. Don’t Want To Give So Much Direction?

The simple answer is to try a candid approach and shoot often so you don’t miss any moments.

Try using a wider lens when working outdoors or at busy events such as a wedding as people won’t think you’re taking their photo if the lens isn’t directly pointed at them so will stay relaxed. Longer lenses will allow you to stay out of sight but still give you the chance to focus on one or two individuals. For compact users, why not switch to P mode so you can focus on getting the shot rather than on what settings you need.

If you’re working with children you could give them a task to do such as build a tower with bricks or kick a ball around outside to give you the opportunity to shoot some fun, in-the-moment photos which they won’t even notice you’re doing as they’ll be too distracted with the task in-hand.
 

5. Get Creative

Whether it’s adding fun props, creating interesting backgrounds with bokeh or using art filter and frames, there’s plenty of ways to get creative with your portraits. Many cameras feature Art Filters which will give your portraits a twist. This could be adding a vignette, changing the images to black and white or simply adding a sepia tone and grain to give it a vintage feel. 

To have fun with bokeh you can head out at night or use some colourful stringed lights (the type you dig out of the loft at Christmas) and drape them over a dark background. You then need to put a few meters between the background and your subject to increase the bokeh effect.

 

You need to use your lens at its widest aperture and focus on your subject. A small portable light is handy for illuminating the front of your subject but do be careful with the positioning of the light as you don’t want any light to shine on the background. Watch your white balance then experiment with framing to change the pattern created by the lights in the background. 
 

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7 Essential Tips On Taking Photographs In Hot Weather

7 Essential Tips On Taking Photographs In Hot Weather

Mexico
 

1. Heading To The Beach?

A popular destination when on your travels abroad or even just for the weekend when the sun’s showing its face in the UK is the beach which is full of photographic potential. Even though you may enjoy yourself by the sea it’s not a place that’s great for your camera and other photography gear. Grains of sand can get into parts of your camera it shouldn’t be in and it can scratch your lens if you’re not careful. A UV filter will help stop sand scratching your lens and is a less expensive option than replacing your glass. When you’re not using your kit, make sure you store it in your camera bag and if you want to change lenses, try and do it off the beach and out of the wind.

If you’re planning on taking a tripod and use it in the sea, make sure you wipe it down when you get home and leave it to dry. A lens cloth can also be handy for wiping sea spray off your gear.

2. Check Temperatures

If you’re venturing somewhere that’s going to be particularly hot then make sure your camera equipment (memory cards, batteries etc.) will operate to the best of their ability still. You can usually find information on operational limits of specific products on manufacturers’ websites and in manuals.

 

3. Going Inside And Out

An air-conditioned room or vehicle may be good for you to cool down in but if you have your camera out and take it from a cool to warm environment you’ll end up with a fogged-up lens as condensation will have formed. Either ensure your gear’s in your bag or just wait five or ten minutes for the lens to clear. You can wipe the lens with a lens cloth, but this could cause smears and marks that’ll spoil your shot so look at your lens carefully before hitting the shutter button. If moisture gets inside your lens, ensure the outside of it is dry then leave the lens to dry out before using it.

 

4. Think About You

As well as looking after your gear, don’t forget to look after yourself. It may seem obvious now, but it’s easy to get away with taking photos and the small things such as reapplying sunscreen and having a drink of water can be forgotten.

 

7 Essential Tips On Taking Photographs In Hot Weather 19

 

5. Viewing Screens

Previewing your shot on your camera’s LCD screen can be difficult when outdoors in sunny conditions. You can adjust the brightness of most screens, but this doesn’t always solve the problem. You can use LCD hoods (flip-up caps) that shade screens from glare and as an additional benefit, they also protect the screen too.

 

6. Avoid Hot Parts Of The Day

Again, seems obvious and it’s not always easy to do as you could be on an organised excursion, for example. However, getting up early or staying out later does have it’s advantages as the light’s usually better and you’ll be able to avoid crowds at busy tourist sites. Don’t forget your lens hood if you’re heading out during the day as they can help reduce the amount of light reaching your lens.

 

7. Find Some Shade

Ideally, you should not take photographs when the sun is too high in the sky, particularly for portraits as people can end up with deep shadows under their eyes and nose. If your subject’s wearing a floppy hat this will shade the face, and help create the shade you need. If not, find a shaded area that won’t cause the light to appear dappled. Instead, find a shaded spot where the light’s more even and they won’t end up squinting.

If you’re photographing a family member or a stranger who’s given you permission to shoot, you can try using flash to add extra light that’ll even out your scene. A touch of flash will also help create catchlights in your subject’s eyes but it’s much easier to just position your subject so they’re facing the light source and/or use a reflector to bounce the light into your shot.
 

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