The Sony ZV-1 camera is currently available for under £600 over on Amazon as part of their Black Friday deals.
| Sony ZV-1 in Offers
For the next 5 days, the Sony ZV-1 compact camera is available on Amazon for £599.99, saving you £100.
The Sony ZV-1 is designed to be the perfect compact camera for vloggers, with 4K video recording, a vari-angle screen that faces the front, and a number of features specifically for vloggers. It received a ‘Recommended’ award from ePHOTOzine with our reviewer saying it’s definitely a first choice for vloggers at this price point.
If you’re not sure if the Sony ZV-1 is the compact camera for you, we also have other options which scored well when put to the test by ePHOTOzine in our ‘Best Serious Compact Digital Cameras You Can Buy Today’ round-up.
You can also shop more camera Black Friday deals over on Amazon where the shopping event has launched early.
Just because you don’t have an expensive lighting set-up or a studio doesn’t mean you can’t shoot interesting portraits of your children. To help you out, we’ve put together a list of quick tips made up of low-cost techniques to help the beginner out.
Which camera should I use?
Smaller, pocketable cameras right up to bigger DSLRs can be used to shoot portraits.
You can even use a less-expensive toy camera which may produce low-quality images but the levels of saturation and strong vignetting some produce can create interesting effects. As the shot below, taken with a VistaQuest VQ1015 camera, demonstrates:
I Don’t Have A Lighting Kit
Commercial photographers, such as those who shoot in schools, tend to use lighting they can move and position around a room, making flash less harsh when fired. If you’re working with a camera that has a built-in flash, however, you don’t have this luxury and if you hit the shutter with the flash switched on, the light from it tends to be too harsh.
So, What Should I Do?
Your best and easiest option is to turn the flash off and use the light around you. This could mean using your household lights but keep an eye on your white balance if you do this as shots tend to look a little warmer and have an orange tone to them when shot under household lights. Easier still, set up near a window or patio door if you have one and use natural light. Sidelight works well but don’t be afraid to experiment with different positions. Shooting with the window to their back so you can shoot straight on, for example, can create silhouettes. Don’t overlook shooting on cloudy days either as clouds act as a giant softbox, diffusing light.
A support, ideally a tripod, should be kept in reach for times when your camera needs to use longer shutter speeds due to low light levels. If you try and shoot hand-held it can result in shake which will spoil your shot. You can try setting a slightly higher ISO to increase your camera’s shutter speed but with some cameras, this can result in noise appearing in your shots. This isn’t always a bad thing though as you could try enhancing the noise further so it appears like old film grain, similar to this shot below:
What Time Is Best?
The time of day and where your window is positioned will effect light falling through it. At this time of year the sun is quite low in the sky for most of the day, however, midday is still when the sun is at its highest so avoid shooting then if possible. The golden hours, early morning and early evening, tend to give you softer light but you can further diffuse light with tissue paper, or a thin curtain/piece of material. If you do this, try to avoid using coloured material/paper as this can create a colour cast in your images.
Of course, if shooting indoors isn’t producing the results you’re looking for, there’s always the option to get outside, shooting in your garden or at your local park.
Backgrounds Are Distracting
Professional photographers use purpose made background rolls or frames on stands but when you’re on a budget and working at home, you don’t have this luxury.
Shooting at home can mean you have backgrounds full of clutter or distracting wallpaper, even if you do use a larger aperture (or portrait mode on a compact that tells the camera you want to use a larger aperture) to throw it out of focus. To fix this, have a look around your home for items you can use as backgrounds. Black velvet works well, so do plain sheets of material or use a plain wall if you have one.
Have A Conversation
Most of the time the ‘say cheese’ approach won’t work as you’ll just get shots with big grins and squinting eyes. Instead, try talking to the children you’re photographing, asking them questions and making them laugh. As a result, you’ll soon see them creating expressions and poses that are much more interesting. Try setting your camera on continuous shooting mode to increase your chances of capturing a creative shot. This mode, which is available on many cameras will let you take a burst of images in quick succession which you can then pick out the best from.
Don’t think your subject has to always be slap-bang in the middle of your frame. By positioning them slightly off centre you’ll create a much more striking composition.
If you want to try photographing your subject so they are looking out of frame do leave some ‘looking space’ as it creates a more pleasing shot and your subject won’t look like they’re squashed into a small frame.
My Shot’s Too Dark Or Light
If you’re shooting on auto and find the balance of highlights and shadows isn’t right there are a few things you can do to correct it. If the face is too washed out, set a faster shutter speed or smaller aperture. This could mean switching to sports mode if your compact has one so it knows you want to use a quicker shutter speed. If the detail is too dark set a slower shutter speed or wider aperture.
If your camera has exposure compensation, check your manual if you’re unsure, set it to -1 or -2 for shots that are washed out and +1 or +2 for shots that are too dark.
There are a few free pieces of editing software available such as Gimp or you could purchase Photoshop Elements which isn’t quite as expensive as the CS range. Cropping, playing with tools such as Dodge & Burn, adding vignettes and turning shots to black & white are all things you can do during post-production to enhance images. Take a look at ePHOTOzine’s technique section for more tips and tutorials on this subject.
Serif is getting in on the Black Friday Sales by cutting the price of everything in the Affinity store from today.
| Serif Affinity Photo in Offers
The prices of Affinity Photo, Designer and Publisher for Mac, Windows PC and iPad have been reduced by 30%, along with creative content packs and the official Affinity Workbooks.
The fastest, smoothest and most precise image editing software around, Affinity Photo will revolutionise the way you work, whether you’re editing and retouching images, creating full-blown multi-layered compositions or making beautiful raster paintings.
Creative content includes a brand-new selection of brush packs, fonts, effects, templates and more, created by leading artists and designers. The high-quality hardback Affinity Workbooks are the only official companion publications to the software.
For more information and to save 30% in the Affinity Black Friday sale, visit the Affinity website.
Church interiors are difficult to photograph because they usually have huge bright windows and dark nooks and crannies with the rest being a mix of tones illuminated by tungsten light or candles. Automatic exposure cameras will often deliver a photo with a well exposed interior, but no detail in the windows. Fortunately, with digital photography and modern software there is a solution, it’s called HDR (high dynamic range) photography. Using HDR can really make your architecture shots pop.
Most modern cameras will have a HDR mode built-in, however if this is not the case, then here are some basic instructions.
Creating a HDR image
To create a HDR shot you need to take several shots of the same scene at different exposures, each one from the same position. These are then merged into one photo using HDR software (see ePHOTOzine’s technique section for articles on how to do this). To ensure the photos are in an identical position it’s best to use a sturdy tripod which will keep everything aligned and steady. It’s worth using a cable-release too to trigger the shutter when the camera is on the tripod, but with a static subject such as a church you can get away using the camera’s self timer.
Use a wide lens
A wide-angle lens is best for church interiors and ideally you want one that’s really wide. With a lens like this you can usually shoot the interior from wall to wall if you stand back far enough. The camera you use can be a DSLR or compact so long as it has a manual exposure mode or at least exposure compensation to override the automatic settings.
As exposures are long in churches they can soon flatten your camera battery so always carry a spare just in case. Also, when shooting HDR, every picture you take requires several exposures so you may need extra memory cards.
HDR exposures should have a fixed aperture so that the depth of field is the same for each shot. Set the camera to f/8 and before setting up the shot take a meter reading for the lightest area. If the shot has a stained glass window in view this will usually be the brightest part. These are usually very decorative and beautiful works of art so you need to record those with an exposure that gives 100% detail. Use the camera’s spot meter and position the camera so the window is in the centre of the viewfinder where the meter takes the reading. Take a shot and preview the result on the LCD If it’s good make a note of the shutter speed. Now take a meter reading for the darkest area and make sure that the resulting photo has detail in it. Make a note of the shutter speed.
Your HDR exposure should have a range of shots that covers from the speed needed for the window to the speed for the dark areas. Let’s say the window was 1/15 sec and the dark area was 8 seconds. The full shutter speed options would be 1/15sec, 1/4sec, 1/2sec, 1 second, 2 seconds, 4 seconds and 8 seconds. So you could take seven photos or as most HDR software can get what it needs from two stop intervals you could take four shots at 1/15sec, 1/2sec, 2 seconds and 8 seconds.
With this new information, adjust the position of the camera on the tripod compose the photo, including the previously metered elements in the frame and take a sequence of pictures, making sure no one walks into frame and the light doesn’t change, sun comes out, floodlight goes on inside etc., at the shutter speeds calculated earlier.
Try this technique all around the church, in bigger churches/cathedrals there are lots of smaller rooms and chapels to discover.
Here are some of the tutorials you’ll find in ePHOTOzine’s technique section on HDR photography
Excire Foto is a photo management tool that has some clever AI to help you organise your photos and we have a code you can use to save 15% on this clever software.
| Excire Foto Software in Offers
Excire Inc is giving ePHOTOzine members the chance to save 15% when purchasing Excire Foto – a standalone photo management tool where AI does all of the hard work for you.
Excire Foto uses artificial intelligence to analyse the content of your photos and automatically assigns suitable keywords. Once your photos have been analysed you can retrieve photos with AI-based search tools which include searching for a particular keyword or asking the software to search for a particular person, face or similar-looking photo. You can also mark/rate images, filter them by metadata, create IPTC profiles, write copyrights to the photos or create collections and share them with others.
“Excire Foto is a really easy to use photo management system that has some very clever AI which makes sorting and finding images a breeze,” ePHOTOzine.
Excire technology is available as a standalone version (Excire Foto) or as a Lightroom Plugin (Excire Search 2). To save 15%, use code: EXCIRE-EP at the checkout. You can also get a 14-day free trial of the software if you wish to ‘try before you buy’.
Yet another grey overcast Sunday morning. It is the time of year when it barely seems to get light, and doesn’t inspire one to go out, let alone take photographs. Fishermen used to call conditions like this sprat weather, in the mistaken belief, it was the best time to catch sprats.
I originally intended that I would write an entry every week. But I have rather missed that target over the last three weeks, partly due to other commitments. But, also, like all the best bad workmen, I will blame my tools. My Olympus is still out for repair (six weeks and counting), so I am left using my Panasonic TZ70. Now the TZ70 is very good in bright conditions, but really struggles in the murky, overcast, grey, low light, which has been the norm for the last couple of weeks.
As an example, my lead image of Lode Mill is definitely not straight out of camera. The SOOC jpg is shown below. It took a lot of work in RawTherapee to produce the image at the top of this entry. This was not a view of the mill that I had noticed before, but now realise, that in spring and summer the poplar trees at the front of the mill would be in leaf and hide the mill from view. As it is, I think the bare branches give the illusion of a building cocooned in the woodland.
One of the features of RawTherapee is that there always more than one way to achieve anything. This can be confusing for someone just starting to use it, particularly, since documentation is not the strongest feature of the application. But, it can be interesting to compare results. For the image at the top of this entry, I used the haze removal function. For the image below, I did not, but tweaked various other adjustments. The difference is small, and by and large the colours look the same, but with haze removal, the trees in front of the mill, and the detail on the white boarding on the mill, stand out more.
Looking through the other photographs I took on Sunday, it is very noticeable that those taken at the longer focal length, like the picture of Lode Mill, are very much duller than those taken at a wide angle. So I will restrict this entry to just three others which were acceptable without any further processing.
The leaves on the oaks have turned a rather beautiful copper colour which more than rivalled the surrounding beech trees. I did take some shots of the beech, but they suffered from the general dullness that affected the picture of the mill. As this blog is about getting good results out of camera, I have left them out of this entry.
I think there are some unsung heroes of the autumn. For instance, some bramble leaves turn a lovely deep red. I noticed yesterday, that the reed beds had turned a light copper colour, giving an attractive edge to the ditches. There is almost an infinite ways of framing a shot of massed vegetation like this, and I invariably walk away thinking that I did not get the best one.
Finally, I found this tree framed by yellow leaves rather attractive.
Regatta is giving you the chance to save an extra 22% when shopping select styles but this discount is only available today.
We’ve teamed up with outdoor clothing specialists Regatta to bring you a one-day-only offer you can take advantage of when using our exclusive code.
Regatta is giving you the opportunity to save an extra 22% on select styles with the code: SINGLESDAY22 but the catch is that you only have today to take advantage of this discount.
Jackets, coats, trousers, gilets and more are featured in the ‘select styles’ that the discount code can be applied to which are available in a wide variety of sizes, colours and for men, women as well as kids.
Head over to the Regatta website now and use code: SINGLESDAY22 before 23:59 on 11/11/21.
As a title that’s not as slick as the Duran Duran song (you’ll be hearing that all day now!) but it does describe one of the pitfalls of the analogue medium.
In the early 1990s I had a transparency that I took in to a high street processing lab in order to get a print made. It was a branch of Max Spielmann (that particular branch has long since gone). The assistant was very clumsy and when picking up the transparency picked it up without paying attention with finger and thumb right across the image area. Horror! I guess in hindsight I should have at least complained and walked out of the shop.
That’s when I decided not to use high street processing outlets. I’m not saying all their branches or indeed all high street outlets had the same laissez-faire approach, but situations like that certainly make you ask all sorts of questions about customer service and quality control.
My transparency film was mostly the process paid sort, that which wasn’t was sent off in the post to trusted labs (found in those days in the advertisements at the back of the photographic magazines). Peak Imaging was one such place, and I also used a local branch of Colab (since taken over by One Vision Imaging and the local site abandoned, a casualty of the march of digital). Of course, there’s always the risk of damage in transit but there’s no need to get paranoid. Given the amount of photo material I sent and recived through the mail I can remember only one occasion when something went missing, though it was retrieved with no adverse effects.
Fortunately I can’t see any damage to the image yet and it hasn’t revealed itself in the scan. Acid from skin will in time eat away at photographic emulsions. That said, it’s quite amazing how some film and prints survive poor storage.
These days if I want a print from a negative or transparency I create a high quality digital file and upload that unless I print it myself. Time constraints and large sizes as well as special surfaces like acrylic mean home printing is out, otherwise home printing it is. Either way, creating a digital file means I can get the image just as I want it, for example colour balance, colour correction, contrast, shadow detail and so on.
This week I was alone again, the weather was unfavourable with heavy fog and rain. I decided to re-visit 2 Quarries near Princetown as I thought they would give me shelter from the weather and I would be able to get some detail shots in them. Once up on the Moor I found the fog was wetter than I had thought and the wind was coming from every direction. No matter which direction I pointed my camera I got moisture drops on the front elements. Hey-ho I pressed on.
Foggintor Quarry Main Entrance.
Surprisingly the car park at the start of Foggintor track was full (I hadnt realised it was School Half Term) but I found space by the old Pump House. I set off down the track feeling fortunate that the majority of my walk today was on tracks otherwise the 50m visibility would make navigation challenging.
I planned to visit Swelltor Quarry first as I have only been there once before so might spend most of the day there but I had to pass Foggintor Quarry en-route. These are the main derelict buildings outside the Quarry entrance.
As I got deeper into the Moor the fog got thicker, the track I was on went past the Quarry and I had planned to cut off up the hill directly to it but the visibility made that unwise.
I could see the spoil mounds of the quarry through the fog.
I followed the track until it turned back on itself up the now disused access track.
Abandoned along the track were these rather ornate Granite posts, typical of the kind of things these quarries produced in the past.
There were several smaller derelict buildings along the track.
Further along the track was the largest and most recognisable building, probably the Captains Quarters.
I thought this one deserved a bit more exploration.
There were several mounds of what looked like spoil from the quarrying.
I saw very little wildlife but this Mountain Sheep seemed to be surveying his patch.
While I was in the thick fog I could hear loud voices in the distance, I couldnt make out what they were shouting but I thought maybe stock gathering or something.
Then the fog lifted for a moment and I could see what all the noise was about and as if on cue the Huntmaster sounded his horn. Of course I didnt have a lens nearly long enough.
There were only these 2 riders so I assume that they were out exercising the Hounds rather than actually following a trail.
I watched them for a while as they went along the old railway track I could just make them out in the distance on the track to the right of the shot, like I said lens too short.
I turned my attentions back to the quarry but the access was such that I needed more visibility to safely get into the inner quarry.
I looked around but it became clear that on my own in these conditions it would be foolish to try to get into the quarry so I headed off back to Foggintor Quarry.
There were many examples of split stone along the way, I had to wonder how much notice the quarries got for closure as they both seemed to have just stopped production and left.
I made my way along the track to the edge of Foggintor Quarry and found a spot to have lunch.
I am much more familiar with this quarry so I was happy to explore, also there were people around so a bit safer all round. I found an entrance I was not familiar with and you could be forgiven for thinking I was back at Swelltor.
There were some soldiers training in and around the quarry so I decided to do a circuit around the top rather than go into the main quarry, these 2 chaps were having lunch, hardly visible in the fog (bottom left quarter of frame).
These Sheep were looking rather sorry for themselves in the thick fog.
After my circuit of the tops of the quarry I looked at the ruins that are a feature at the entrance to it.
Thats all for this week folks, as always comments welcome.
Landscape and travel
Foggintor and Swelltor Quarries
Foggy day on Dartmoor
Enjoy the fresh air and photograph some people outdoors.
| Portraits and People
For some people the only way they think they can have a professional portrait taken is to stand in a studio in front of a big set of lights but lifestyle shoots just might change their mind. Having the great outdoors as your studio will give you so many more creative opportunities with backgrounds, colours, shapes and textures, as well as being able to shoot a story.
A 70-200mm lens is a good choice for DSLR shooters. Shooting around the 135mm mark at f/4 can give great perspective and enough depth of field to throw the background out of focus without leaving it too shallow. A wider lens, such as a 14-24mm is great for environmental portraits, while a 55mm macro lens is great for detail. If you want a good all-rounder lens, a 24-70mm would be a good choice, too. It’s also a good idea, if you have them, to pack the speedlights, continuous lights, ringflash and reflectors.
Organisation is key so make sure you have a plan in advance. Having a few locations that you are familiar with will give you plenty of scope, and it also means you’ll know particular spots that’ll work well for your shots. Local beauty spots, good urban routes with interesting architecture or a park with lots of interest such as water features are just some of the locations you could work with. The other place you need in reserve is somewhere dry in case of bad weather.
Make sure your model’s comfortable
It’s important to discuss clothing, makeup and meeting points then on the day of the shoot, meet for a coffee and spend 30 minutes or so having a pre-shoot chat as this will help break the ice. You could even take a book or folder of a few favourite photos along to show your model/client as they’ll welcome the opportunity to see your ideas and help. Come up with a few ideas and even adjectives of the mood/feel you’re trying to create. For example, Autumnal shoots could be about warm clothing and crisp golden colours. By doing so you will be able to portray a theme to your clients/model who should be able to quite naturally slip into an informal pose to convey this without really having to try or feel self-conscious.
When it comes to the shoot, let people be natural and remember it’s your job to make them feel comfortable even if you do know the person/people you are photographing. Shoot intuitively and creatively. Even if you’ve shot in a place many times, try setting yourself a target to come up with several new shots. This time of year’s a good time to experiment with natural frames as the autumnal shades add warmth to the image. Just make sure you focus on your subject so the leaves blur just enough so you can still see what they are but don’t distract.
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.