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Quick Still Life Light Painting Tips

Quick Still Life Light Painting Tips

Are you looking for ways to make your still life shots more interesting? Well try adding a bit of torch light.

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Creative

Mushrooms

See how painting the scene with light has improved the image of the mushrooms on the left, adding mood and interest to the shot on the right. 

 

When you think of light painting your first thoughts will probably be of people drawing pictures and writing words but you can use it to breath a little more creativity into your still life work too.

As you’ll be using longer exposure times or even Bulb mode, a DSLR or an advanced smaller camera will probably the type of camera you think is best for this sort of technique. However, that’s not to say you can’t use a compact as many do offer longer shutter speed ranges. As well as your camera, make sure you have a tripod to hand and you’ll need a torch for ‘painting’ light with. A piece of black card can be useful as you’ll be able to create a cone-shaped from it to direct light more and translucent coloured paper (sweet wrappers will work fine) can be used to alter the colour of the light you’re painting with. 

When it comes to the set-up, place your camera on a tripod so you can control the torch with one hand while hitting the shutter button with the other then focus and set the camera on focus lock so that it isn’t fooled by the uneven light. If the camera struggles to focus, use your torch to light your subject so the camera can adjust. Any standard torch will do and you can either hold it still or move it around to illuminate different areas of your object. Changing the position of the torch will also prevent hot spots appearing in the image.

 

Quick Still Life Light Painting Tips 1

Photo by David Pritchard. 

 

It’s best to slowly build up the amount of light you paint onto your subject so you don’t overexpose a particular area. You’ll need a long-ish shutter speed if you’re not using the B-setting and as a torch has a colour temperature that’s warmer than daylight, you could end up with images that have an orange tint. Of course, you may think the warmer tones work but if you don’t, auto white balance should be able to remove it or you can always edit your images after if shooting in RAW. 

If you find the light isn’t directional enough, try using a cone made from black card and secure it to the torch to give you more precise control over it. 
 

More photography tips and tutorials    

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Tips On Creating HDR Exposures In Churches

Tips On Creating HDR Exposures In Churches

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.
 

church HDR exposure

 

 

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.

 

Tips On Creating HDR Exposures In Churches 2

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

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9 Bad Weather Photography Tips

9 Bad Weather Photography Tips

Landscape

Photo by David Pritchard

 

 

1. ‘There’s No Such Thing As Bad Weather’

Top landscape photographer John Gravett once said: “There is no such thing as bad weather – only different types of lighting,” and he couldn’t be more correct. Just because the light’s dull doesn’t mean you still can’t capture good shots, you just have to think a bit differently. The same goes for rain which, in fact, can help you capture cracking landscapes. Try to not leave the door with the mindset that you’ll be battling bad weather instead, think how you can use it to your advantage. 

 

2. Dress For The Weather

Staying dry will keep you in a more positive frame of mind so make sure you have waterproof clothing protecting you from head-to-toe. Without it, you’ll just get soaked when it’s raining which will just make you miserable and taking photos will probably not be at the top of your list. A coat with a hood, waterproof trousers and a good pair of boots should keep you dry. A decent pair of socks and layers will keep you warm but it’s down to personal choice if you wear a pair of gloves or not as fleece gloves will just become sodden and not pleasant to wear. 

 

3. Take The Right Bag

You can buy water- and weatherproof camera bags that’ll keep your gear dry, plus many styles of camera bag now come with a waterproof cover built-in. If you’re using a bag that doesn’t have this feature, it’s really worth spending a few pounds and investing in one. After all, a waterproof cover is cheaper to buy than new equipment! Check out our complete guide to camera bags.

 

4. Protect Your Camera And Lenses

Many companies are now bringing weather-sealed equipment to the market, but it’s always worth adding a waterproof cover just in case. You can purchase rain sleeves which fit over your camera and lens, plus some are made to measure for your specific kit. Some photographers have used plastic bags to protect their gear in the past but obviously, this isn’t the best method and will certainly not work in heavy downpours.

On wet weather days when it’s humid, you can get condensation build-up on the inside of the cover as too can putting damp hands inside the cover to adjust your lens, which means water will be sat against your kit so do pack a cloth you can wipe your kit with if needs be. 

 

5. Take A Tripod Out With You

Lighting levels will be lower on cloudy, rainy days which means exposures will be longer so a tripod is an essential piece of kit. Plus, if you’re using a rain cover, they don’t tend to fit round camera straps very well so using a tripod is your best option. 

 

6. Pack A Lens Cloth

You may want to capture rain-filled images, but this doesn’t mean you want water droplets to sit on your lens. Rain on your lens will spoil your shots so do take the time to dry the lens before hitting the shutter button. If you’re going to be out for a longer period of time you’ll want to pack several lens cloths as you won’t achieve much if you try and dry a lens with an already damp cloth.

 

 

Mountains

Photo by David Pritchard

 

7. Choosing Lenses 

Landscapes aren’t just about wide-angle lenses as telephoto lenses can really help you capture some interesting images. In a previous article, John Gravett said: “Rain is wonderful at creating recession, in landscape pictures. Using a telephoto lens to compress perspective along with the recessive nature of the weather can create some truly striking images.”

 

8. Try Working In Black & White 

A shot that looks dull and boring in colour can be transformed into a great moody mono. Plus, you’ll be able to emphasise texture and tones, enhancing the mood and elements in your shots by shooting in black and white

 

9. Foreground Interest

Adding foreground interest to landscape images is something that should always be considered and this becomes even more important when shooting in the rain, as John Gravett explains: “Landscapes can often look moody and impressive when photographed in bad weather. Similarly, they can also look pastel and delicate – particularly when shooting over lakes or bodies of water. I generally try to include some foreground interest or dark element within the picture as a contrast to the overall light tones of a drizzly day. Make sure your expose “to the right” – firstly, it will maximise your data, and secondly, it will give you a high key feel rather than a dull, grey overcast look; that alone will make your thumbnails on your computer more appealing….Heavy rain can totally obscure background elements in a landscape, changing the emphasis from the overall landscape to elements in the foreground, which can so often get overlooked.”

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Top Landscape Photography Tips From Professional Photographer Tom Archer

Top Landscape Photography Tips From Professional Photographer Tom Archer

Take some time to enjoy this interview with Pro Landscape Photographer Tom Archer who shares some top tips and techniques as well as some of the stories behind his images.

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Professional Interviewed

 

Our friends The School of Photography have been chatting with Tom Archer – a professional landscape photographer who recently had an image crowned a winner in the ‘Astronomy Photographer of the Year‘ competition. 

In the interview, Tom shares his landscape photography tips and tricks to help budding landscape photographers improve their photos. He also discusses some of his best pictures, revealing the story behind. 

Some of the questions asked include: ‘How did you get into photography?’, ‘What type of photographer are you? ‘ and ‘What advice would you give yourself as a starting photographer?’

The interview is over 40 minutes long so grab yourself a cup of tea, sit back, relax and hit ‘play’ when you have a bit of free time – it’s well worth a watch.

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Fun Portrait Photography Tips | ePHOTOzine

Fun Portrait Photography Tips | ePHOTOzine

Have a little fun on your next photo shoot and capture some expressions that’ll put a smile on your face.

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Portraits and People

Portrait with fun expression

Taking fun portrait photos doesn’t have to be difficult – with a few simple tips, you can create something that breaks the mould.

 

Simple kit is all you need

If you want to use natural light head for a space with a large window or if you prefer to use artificial lighting, a simple two light setup, positioning one light slightly to either side of the model should do the trick. Plain backgrounds work well as it’s the expressions we’re interested in not the colour of the scenery. We used a studio background but a table cloth, sheet or wall will work just as well.

 

Take note of your settings

As you don’t want your subject’s face to be blurred, make sure you’re using a quick enough shutter speed when shooting hand-held. If you’re using natural light and are having problems with shake, stick your camera on a tripod. Watch your white balance too as you’ll be putting these shots together at the end and if the white balance is right in-camera, there will be less work to do once you have the shots on your desktop.

Don’t think this is something for just DSLR users either as when using natural light, a smaller compact will work fine. 
 

Shoot Spontaneously & Candidly

When it comes to taking the photographs, don’t linger on one expression for too long as if your subject thinks about what they’re doing for too long it can look a little fake. You’ll also find it’s more fun to shout out instructions rapidly as it can sometimes go wrong, giving you the chance to capture your model laughing or pulling an expression you didn’t expect. Have a list of ideas to hand, particularly if you’re working with kids who need a little more instruction, but don’t be too strict with it. Adding props such as food or a drink can work well, too.

If you want to create a triptych or other style of portrait collage, simply re-size them in your chosen software, check the tone and brightness, then pull all the images onto a new document, positioning them as you go. 

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Tips for winning landscape photography

Tips for winning landscape photography

Recently we revealed the winners of this year’s Landscape Photographer of the Year. We’ve now got more insight from three winners who took particularly inspiring shots, including overall winner, Chris Frost. They also talk more about the equipment they used – as  you can see, they didn’t all use cutting-edge gear. You can now pick up a used Nikon D3200, as used by overall winner Chris Frost, for under £170 from MPB for example.

Tips for winning landscape photography 3

Nikon D3200, f/11, 0.5 seconds, ISO 400

Chris Frost: Landscape Photographer of the Year 2020
“Living near the coast, seascapes were my initial photographic passion, but over the last three years woodland photography has captured my imagination – their tranquility a stark contrast to shooting storms and crashing waves. When I captured this image, I’d planned on shooting a misty bluebell scene, but arrived to harsh lighting devoid of mist, so went exploring for something new.

Smelling wild garlic long before I stumbled upon this little meandering path, I knew I’d found something special. Knowing that with the right light and morning mists it would look amazing, I returned the next two days until the conditions were perfect – that perseverance paying huge dividends. Photography has really opened my eyes to the natural beauty around us and allowed me to experience scenes others do not get to see; a lot of that joy coming from the exploration and experimentation required to find something that’s new and original.”

To see more of Chris’ work, see his website.

Tips for winning landscape photography 4

Nikon D810, f/6.3, 1/500 sec, ISO 500

Graham Eaton: Landscapes Special Award Winner
“It’s important to me to come up with my own ideas, so I’m always looking for alternative viewpoints and perspectives. This was a classic example of being in the right place at the right time. It was early one winter morning, and I was driving to another location to shoot something else, but I couldn’t get the view I wanted because the fog was really low across the estuary.

I went to another location, and as I arrived there was a part in the fog that revealed the wind farm, and then the flock of birds flew across at exactly the right time – it made the shot. I like to get it right in the camera, rather than use Photoshop. I shot this on a Nikon D810, with a 70-200mm lens and a LEE graduated filter. I wanted to capture the detail as I was planning to make a big print of it, so I knew I needed a lot of pixels and the D810 was perfect.”

To see more of Graham’s work, see his website.

Tips for winning landscape photography 5

Canon EOS 250D, f/1.8, 1/320 sec, ISO 400

Josh Elphick: Young Landscape Photographer of the Year
“This shot wasn’t too much about the lighting or conditions – there was no waiting for the mist to roll in or for the wave to be right. I’ve always wanted to have a sheep as the subject of a photo, rather than in the background, so when I saw them by the fence while I was walking my dog I jumped on the opportunity. sI shot this on my Canon 250D with a 50mm f1.8 lens to get a really shallow depth of field, but I also love shooting skate photography with my 8mm fisheye lens to get that classic look.

I’ve just started using a Pentax film camera too – I’ve just come back from holiday and everything I shot was on black and white film. I love composing images and lining everything up like I do with my DSLR, but shooting it on film is a new challenge, and I love how it looks.” To see more of Josh’s work, visit: [email protected]_joshelphick_

Further reading
Going it on foot: how to get great landscapes locally

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7 Fantastic Tips and Tricks for a More Powerful Lightroom Experience

7 Fantastic Tips and Tricks for a More Powerful Lightroom Experience

Lightroom is a deceptively powerful program, and you can accomplish a great deal in it without having to turn to Photoshop or some other application. This fantastic video tutorial gives seven great tricks and techniques for taking more control of your Lightroom experience and creating better images. 

Coming to you from Nigel Danson, this helpful video tutorial discusses seven tips and techniques for getting more done in Lightroom. One of my favorites is using web collections. I already use collections for organizing my catalog, but web collections are particularly great, as they sync any images you put in them to Lightroom Mobile. This allows you to edit on the go using your phone or tablet, with any changes you make synced back to your computer. I actually use them mostly for culling. When I have a large set of a few thousand images to cull from an event or the like, I load them into a web collection that syncs to my phone; then, whenever I am standing in line somewhere or just need to pass 10 minutes of time, I will pull out my phone and work through a few hundred images. It makes a tedious process much easier. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Danson. 

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Photography Tips For A Frosty Morning

Photography Tips For A Frosty Morning

Boat frost

Photo by David Pritchard

 

The most important part about photography at this time of year is – rather obviously, to be prepared for the cold! Warm clothing, preferably layered, and a hat; if you’re cold, your mind is more on how cold you are rather than the pictures you’re looking for.

 

Keep yourself (and your batteries) warm! 

Remember too, that when you’re standing around looking for photographs, you will get colder quicker, so err on the side of too much, rather than too little warm clothing. Your camera battery won’t last as long in sub-zero temperatures either, so make sure you have a spare with you, and that they’re fully charged. Try keeping the spare in an inside pocket, rather in your camera bag, as your body warmth will keep the charge in the battery for longer.

 

Rise early

Frosts are typically better early in the day, often before the sun hits the frost and starts to thaw it; which means a prompt start, but one of the benefits of the winter months, is that at least sunrise is at a more sociable time than in the summer! Head for areas of open space and rolling landscapes, rather than woodland, where the shelter of the trees can prevent frost.

 

Consider trees, foliage and hedges

Trees and hedges are great subjects for frost of course, but more in isolation. Use your macro lens for close-ups of frost on leaves – both on the tree or lying on the ground – or on cobwebs. Even frost on a barbed wire fence portrays the feeling of a crisp winter morning. Remember too, that a small aperture will give you a greater depth-of-field, to ensure more of your picture remains sharp, but on isolated leaves, try a wider aperture to isolate the leaf against an out-of-focus background.

 

Plant frost

Photo by David Pritchard

 

On a really cold day, when even the sun isn’t going to thaw the frost too quickly, a touch of sunlight helps to emphasise the sparkle of frost, and especially try shooting into the light to accentuate the glint of the sun on the frost still further, but remember to use a lens hood to minimise the chance of flare on your pictures.

Even photographing in the shade can still show wonderful textures, and remember, temperatures remain lower in the shade – so frost tends to hang about longer. If your subject is in a particularly shady spot, use of a reflector can help to bounce a little daylight into the darker areas. A warm reflector, such as a gold, or sunfire, can also help to reduce the blue cast so common in the shade.

The white of frost can also fool your camera meter, so keep a close eye on your histogram as most cameras still “see” white frost as mid-grey. Possibly an exposure compensation of around +1 stop will keep your frost-laden trees looking pristine white.

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5 Helpful Tips for New Drone Users

5 Helpful Tips for New Drone Users

Drones are more capable, portable, and affordable than ever, and they are a fantastic photography and filmmaking tool and simply a ton of fun to fly. Nonetheless, they take a different approach than using a normal camera. This helpful video will give you five tips for working with a drone for the first time.

Coming to you from Billy Kyle, this great video discusses five tips for beginner drone flyers, with a specific focus on the new DJI Mini 2, though the tips generally apply to most drone models. Personally, the one thing that tripped me up for a long time was remembering to level the gimbal. Often, the gimbal is off by a degree or two, and that can lead to all your photos having a tilted horizon. And given the limited resolution of drone cameras, you do not want to waste resolution as a result of having to correct the horizon in post. I have made it a habit to take 10 seconds to aim the camera at the horizon when I first take off to check that the gimbal is completely level and make any adjustments if necessary. It saves a lot of headaches later on. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Kyle. 

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Wide Angle Photography Hints And Tips

Wide Angle Photography Hints And Tips

As a landscape photographer, wide-angle and ultra wide lenses simply cannot be ignored.

The most common error made when using wide-angle lenses is simply using them solely for their wide-angle, by just trying to get everything into the shot. The resulting picture often simply has too much in it, and the subject is just lost in amongst everything else. Really, you should consider a wide-angle lens not as a way to get more into the picture, but as a way of emphasising foreground detail and perspective.

 

Think about your viewpoint

In use, in a landscape situation, select your viewpoint carefully, as well as your foreground detail, and if possible, ensure that foreground element relates directly to the landscape and has a degree of shape harmony with the picture. If, for example, you choose a rock near the side of a lake on a calm day with reflections, ensure the rock is positioned to fit into the shape of the reflections. The benefit of working closely to your foreground subject is that repositioning the camera by only a few inches can make huge changes to the composition and visual balance of your photos. Roads, paths, walls, in fact, all lead-lines become powerful and dramatic, but make sure they are supporting the main subject of your photo rather than simply becoming the subject in themselves.

 

Wide Angle Photography Hints And Tips 6

Photos By John Gravett. 

Remember – wider lenses give a greater depth of field

While front-to-back depth of field is useful in wide angle landscapes, it’s important to remember that as an ultra wide-angle lens has an inherently greater depth of field than standard lenses, really small apertures might not always be necessary. Often f/11 or f/16 will give front to back sharpness without having to revert to f/22, where many ultra wides may suffer slightly from diffraction.

The same extensive depth of field can often affect choice of graduated filters to use. With longer focal length lenses, hard-edged grads work but when used with an ultrawide lens, they often show a distinct line where they are used, so usually, a soft-edged grad is a better choice, particularly for the stronger ones.

Wide-angles are so often prone to over-use, but used properly and with care, can produce truly amazing, powerful pictures.
 

Article by John Gravett of Lakeland Photographic Holidays – www.lakelandphotohols.com

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