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Top tips for award-winning landscapes from LPOTY 2021 winners

Top tips for award-winning landscapes from LPOTY 2021 winners

November 10, 2021

Winners and finalists of Landscape Photographer of the Year 2021 (LPOTY) share their top tips for award-winning landscape photographs


Now in its 14th year, Landscape Photographer of the Year 2021 (LPOTY) once more showcases and celebrates the richly diverse landscape of the UK. From dramatic storms and raging seas to the quieter joys of misty woodlands and close-ups of nature’s fascinating details, the winning photographs in this year’s competition not only display the talent of their creators but also inspire visitors to explore and discover the wonders of Britain’s countryside.

With a beautiful shot, ‘Morning at Countryside’, taken in West Sussex, Mara Leite scoops the prestigious title of Overall Winner and receives the £10,000 top prize in this year’s competition. Charlie Waite, the awards founder says, ‘With the glorious ring lighting and a splash of golden light at the top, there is a sense of security and protection as much as secrecy that emerges from this delicate photograph where we are beckoned to go forward.’

The Young Landscape Photographer of the Year title goes to Evie Easterbrook for her image ‘Joining the Queue’ taken in Southwold Harbour. Charlie Waite says, ‘The humour in this photograph is wonderfully conveyed and seems reminiscent of an earlier time, perhaps the fifties, and embraces a piece of classic Britain.’

This year there were seven categories and special awards: Classic View, Your View, Urban Life, Black and White, The Network Rail Award for Lines in the Landscape, The Sunday Times Magazine Award for Historic Britain and the Light and Land Award for Landscapes at Night, as well as Young LPOTY.

An exhibition of shortlisted and winning LPOTY 2021 entries will premiere at London Bridge on 15 November and run until 9 January 2022. A tour of the UK will follow. To see all the winners and awarded entries from this year’s Landscape Photographer of the Year competition, visit www.lpoty.co.uk.

lpoty logo


Mara Leite, Morning at Countryside

LPOTY 2021 Overall Winner

www.maraleitephotography.com, www.facebook.com/maralphoto, Instagram @maralphoto, Twitter @TheMNVL

lpoty overall winner

Mara Leite, Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 70-300mm, 1/60sec at f/10, ISO 800

‘Mill Lane is a famous footpath in Halnaker, West Sussex. I was looking for a different composition when I decided to turn the other way and saw this beautiful sight. I love the gate in the background and how the morning light is hitting the leaves and softly entering the tunnel.’

Mara’s top tips

1. Have an idea of the time of day/year you want to photograph your subject and monitor the weather. I found social media a good tool for tracking the progression of autumn.
2. Light is important; if you want to master exposure, learn how to read your camera’s histogram.
3. Don’t overdo it in post-processing. Make subtle changes that add drama and simultaneously reflect your photography style and other work.


Evie Easterbrook, Joining the Queue

LPOTY 2021 Overall Youth Winner

young lpoty winner

Evie Easterbrook. Sony DSC-HX400V, 24-210mm, 1/2000sec at f/6.3, ISO 800

‘I took this photograph at Southwold harbour in Suffolk. I was surprised to see the gulls forming such an orderly queue!’

Evie’s top tips

1. Always have your camera nearby. You can never be certain when something interesting will come into view or for how long the subject matter will be at its best.
2. Be patient. It is always worth taking the time to ensure you have the right composition. Small adjustments in angles, composition or lighting can make a big difference.
3. You don’t have to be an expert. Although there is always more to learn, limited technical knowledge need not hold you back – just enjoy your photography and don’t worry about making mistakes.


Philip George, Chesterton Windmill

Winner, Classic View

Flickr @PhilipGeorge

Top tips for award-winning landscapes from LPOTY 2021 winners 1

Philip George. Fujifilm X-T30, 10-24mm, 1/140sec at f/7.1, ISO 160

‘I was returning from Birmingham to Southampton and decided to take a detour to Chesterton Windmill as the skies looked good. I have been there quite a few times before in the hope of getting a good sky. This was taken quite late in the afternoon. There were quite a few people at the windmill, so I tried to find an angle to eliminate the people from the pictures.

I finally found a low viewpoint in the barley field, with just a hint of a leading line to the windmill. I used a polarising filter to deepen the blue skies and bring out the wonderful clouds.’

Philip’s top tips

1. Visit a location frequently and spend time looking at it from different angles. You don’t always want the same image as everyone else.
2. Get out and about and find locations for yourself. Make a point of visiting with the intention of taking a photograph.
3. I love to look for the right sky overhead. Sunrise, or sunset, from dawn to dusk, there is plenty of changeable weather that makes the British Isles such a great place to take photographs.


Miles Middlebrook, Daybreak beside the River Brathay

Winner, Black and White

www.buildingpanoramics.com, 500px @Miles Middlebrook

Top tips for award-winning landscapes from LPOTY 2021 winners 2

Miles Middlebrook. Canon EOS 5DS, 85mm, 1/125sec at f/7.1, ISO 200

‘I was staying at one of my favourite places, Skelwith Bridge which is situated beside the rather beautiful River Brathay. Thanks to my dog for getting me up early one morning, we were greeted by a magical scene as the first light caught the river, lifting mist from the surface and hanging among the trees.’

Miles’s top tips

1. Visualise the kind of images you want to capture and then work towards making that happen.
2. I avoid the use of wideangle lenses because often in my case I find the main focal point of the image can be too small and insignificant in the frame.
3. Have someone whose judgement you trust to critique your shots in order to get the most out of your photography. In my case I have my brother, Mark, with whom I share Building Panoramics.


James Whitesmith, Malham Zig Zag

Highly Commended, Your View

www.jameswhitesmith.co.uk, Instagram @james.whitesmith

Top tips for award-winning landscapes from LPOTY 2021 winners 3

James Whitesmith. Sony A7R II, 24-105mm, 1/10sec at f/11, ISO 100

‘Traditional dry stone walls zig zag across the fields beneath Malham Lings in the Yorkshire Dales, as the rising sun begins to light the scene. I arrived on location well before sunrise and the entire valley was filled with thick fog, but as the minutes ticked by it began to shift and retreat.

This particular scene caught my eye and fortunately the swirling mist revealed the copse at the decisive moment with the first direct light washing over the landscape.’

James’s top tips

1. When you arrive at a location don’t just make a beeline for the obvious subject and composition. Take time to explore and experiment with different focal lengths and camera position.
2. Sometimes a scene can be transformed in an instant, particularly in changeable weather or mist. Keep tweaking your composition as the light changes.


Tommaso Carrara, Piccadilly Circus

Runner up, Urban View

www.gettons.org, Instagram @gettons

Top tips for award-winning landscapes from LPOTY 2021 winners 4

Tommaso Carrara. Fuji X-T3, 35mm, 1/250sec at f/1.4, ISO 160

‘The silhouette of a man smoking a cigarette catches my attention as a double-decker cuts through the road with the advertising boards on the back. This trilogy made of human, adverts and transportation is, to me, amongst the essence of this city.’

Tommaso’s top tips

1. Pre-visualise the composition and look for an appropriate background. This is normally the less dynamic part of the image and is unlikely to change.
2. Once you’re happy with the background, think about all those elements that could add to the frame and whether they are static or not. Once all those elements come together take multiple shots, as you never know what might happen next.


Jason Hudson, Braithwaite

Commended, Landscapes at Night

Twitter @Edenphotograph1, Instagram @jasonhudson142

Top tips for award-winning landscapes from LPOTY 2021 winners 5

Jason Hudson. Sony A7R III, 24-70mm

‘A pre-dawn climb up Grisdale Pike in the Lake District was the setting for this shot. I noticed the light trails through the mist and thought it would make a compelling image.’

Jason’s top tips

1. If you want dramatic photos go out in dramatic weather but keep an eye out for storm warnings. Make sure both you and your camera are protected from the elements.
2. If you see nice light make a note of the time and location. The likelihood is that conditions may repeat over the following days. Head out and search for compositions and you may get the shot you are after.
3. Observe the weather and try to predict changes in the rain and light. It is possible to anticipate rainbow positions in advance of them appearing so start looking for compositions before they appear.


Arthur Homewood, Christmas Eve at Saunton

Winner, Black and White Youth

Instagram @rt_hwd

Top tips for award-winning landscapes from LPOTY 2021 winners 6

Arthur Homewood. Fuji X-T2, 18-55mm, 1/240sec at f/8, ISO 400

‘The fog is my favourite condition to shoot in due to the potential for minimalistic compositions and the way the background appears to go on indefinitely. On Christmas Eve 2018 my family and I went to Saunton Sands for a walk but when we arrived the foggy conditions were unlike anything that I had seen before on the beach.

I moved toward the coastline and after a short time these children came running up to play in the shallow water. They made for perfect subjects as they were extremely energetic, running on excitement for the following day.’

Arthur’s top tips

1. Revisit the same locations to get familiar with the conditions that work best.
2. Don’t be afraid to shoot candid photos of people despite it being a landscape; they give a great sense of scale.


Tomasz Rojek, Dunnottar Castle

Commended, Historic Britain

Facebook/Instagram @tomaszrojekphotography, www.tomaszrojek.pl

Top tips for award-winning landscapes from LPOTY 2021 winners 7

Tomasz Rojek. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, 12-24mm, 1/40sec at f/13, ISO 100

‘The photo was taken during my trip to Scotland in May 2019. This is Dunnottar Castle during the sunrise. The man in the upper right corner shows the scale of the landscape.’

Tomasz’s top tips

1. Landscape photography involves a lot of planning. You should have a clear idea of where you are going, and at what time of the day you will be able to capture the best light.
2. The best light for landscape photography is usually during sunset and sunrise and about one hour after. Make sure you arrive early to find your shooting spot, set up your camera and compose your scene.
3. Be patient and persistent. You will come back from many trips without interesting photos but this should not discourage you from further expeditions.


Kathy Medcalf, Convoy

Commended, Lines in the Landscape

www.fineart-landscapes.co.uk, Instagram @fineartlandscapes

Top tips for award-winning landscapes from LPOTY 2021 winners 8

Kathy Medcalf. Hasselblad L1D-20c, 28mm, 1/100sec at f/2.8, ISO 100

‘Aerial view of coal trains in a train yard. I spotted this location on Google Earth and decided to do some research into it. I visited on a day when the rail was closed and I hoped the trains would be in the yard. The light and time of day played a big part too as I didn’t want shadow to overwhelm the main focus.’

Kathy’s top tips

1. Always research the area that you are planning on photographing. Use Google Earth to find good viewpoints and beautiful areas of interest.
2. Light is an important factor when it comes to shooting your subject. Shooting at ‘golden hour’ gives you dramatic contrast with shadows that help to bring out detail.
3. Look for unique perspectives. Be creative and experiment with different viewpoints.


Landscape Photographer of the Year Collection 14 is published on 28 October by Ilex. Hardback. £26.

lpoty book


Further reading

Landscape Photographer of the Year 2021

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8 Top Images Given A Fisheye Twist

8 Top Images Given A Fisheye Twist

Here are 8 examples of how a fisheye lens can be used to create a different perspective in images.

| 
Creative

As well as having practical uses, fisheye lenses can be a lot of fun. The distortion produced by this type of lens allows the user to take interesting, quirky shots of everyday objects, turning what can be quite simple shots into top creative captures. Plus, you don’t have to own a fisheye lens for your DSLR to have a go at this technique as there are plenty of gadgets out there that will turn your Smart Phone images into fish-eye masterpieces. Here are 8 top examples of fisheye photography that you can take some inspiration from next time you’re out with a really wide-angle lens. 

 

Fisheye Trees

 

Fisheye Buildings

 

Fisheye Dog

 

Fisheye Lanterns

 

Fisheye Portrait

 

Church fisheye

 

Dog fisheye

 

Fisheye buildings


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4 Top Tips On Photographing The ‘Buzz’ Of Towns And Cities

4 Top Tips On Photographing The 'Buzz' Of Towns And Cities

Train Station

 

Cities are well known for having a ‘buzz’ that’s created by the people and traffic that move through their streets. But how do you capture this busyness? Well here are four ways to do just that.

 

1. Find Popular Spots

Sounds obvious, we know, but finding a spot full of people, such as Times Square in New York, will make your job easier. Do be warned though, sometimes places can get too busy and you’ll spend more time fighting crowds than you will be taking photos. You can try visiting at various times during the day to check for less busy times but don’t expect to be able to turn up early in the morning and the same buzz intensity be there as chances are, most tourists/residents will still be in bed.

 

2. Movement

Long lines of traffic, underground trains or even crowds of people moving home after a day at work can all be captured to emphasise the busyness of a town or city.

Try panning with your subject, keeping your feet slightly apart, creating a sturdy base for you to shoot from. Lock your focus and use continuous focusing if your lens struggles to focus on your subject and switch to burst mode to increase your chances of capturing the shot you’re after.

To really add a sense of pace to your shots, use a little bit of blur. Blurring the background while your subject stays sharp is often the approach most go for but it can be tricky to get right… How good you are at panning, what shutter speed you use, how fast your subject’s moving and how much light’s around will make this harder/easier each time you try it, however, it’s worth persisting with as you can create some cracking shots with this technique. Just remember to pick the right shutter speed as if you go too high your subject will look static, too slow and there could be too much blur.

Don’t overlook adding a little blur to your subject as this will emphasise motion and add more drama to your shots. We say ‘a little’ as if you add too much, it can look like you just took a bad photo.

Try experimenting with zoom burst to deliberately add blur to your shot by twisting your zoom lens. As well as emphasising movement it can help make your subject, who’s not blurred, ‘pop’ from the frame. A burst of light from a flashgun will help freeze your subject and add sharpness to the image. It’s a fun but tricky technique that can take quite a few attempts to get right. For more tips on creating zoom blur, take a look at our Zoom Burst Photography Article.

 

Cardiff

 

3. Light Trails / Traffic

Towns and cities are full of traffic and by using long exposures to turn headlights into long streams of colour’s another way to create a sense of pace. To do this successfully you need to find a spot at night where vehicles will pass under/by you with their lights on. You then need to put your camera on a tripod, set a long exposure and wait for the lines of traffic to turn into streaks of colourful lights. For more tips, have a look at our previous article on Photographing Light Trails.

 

4. Alternative Vantage Points

Try getting in a lift and shooting from the top of a building (if possible) or, if you’re on a city break and are staying in a hotel, shoot from your own window or make use of your balcony (if you have one). Look out for observation decks, bridges and even the big wheels that are popping up in cities. These usually take an hour to complete a full circle giving you ample time to get a few shots of the city below. By doing so you’ll be able to capture patterns you can’t see at street level such as the lines street lights form as they turn on or the shapes created as traffic moves through the streets.

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Top 10 tips for better macro and close-up images

Top 10 tips for better macro and close-up images

October 20, 2021

In partnership with MPB

The Close-up round of APOY is now open and we are really looking to forward your best images – be they plants, animals, objects or anything else that fits the creative brief.

While macro has been very popular during the lockdown, it’s fine to enter images taken before Covid-19 too. To give you every chance of doing well in the competition, we’ve put together some practical tips below. Best of luck in APOY!

Top 10 tips for better macro and close-up images 9

Understand the difference between macro and close-up
Although the terms close-up and macro photography are often used interchangeably, in reality only a reproduction ratio of 1:1, or a magnification of 1x (life-size), can be classed as macro; anything less than that is close-up. For the most part, this distinction is inconsequential, but when it comes to buying a lens it’s important to note that some manufacturers describe their lenses as ‘macro’ when, in fact, they are incapable of achieving 1:1 magnification and should really be described as ‘close-up’. MPB sells a wide range of high quality used macro lenses.

Top 10 tips for better macro and close-up images 10
Use a longer macro lens for very shy small creatures
They can be expensive, but the benefits of longer focal length lenses will allow you to stand back from your subject—while still magnifying plenty of detail. It’s still possible to shoot macro wildlife using shorter lenses, but your hit rate will suffer if your proximity is disturbing creatures in their natural habitat. To achieve a narrow depth of field for that all-important subject-background separation, macro lenses’ extra magnification means you don’t have to be fully open.

Equally, unlike with standard lenses, large apertures might create too little depth – so stopping down might make it easier to focus, especially if you’re using manual-focus lenses (manual focusing is sometimes easier with macro).

Pick your time
To find the perfect time to shoot your chosen subjects, you need patience and a little research. If shooting insects or other animals is your thing, try to research when they’re most active—both seasonally and at a given time of day. This will allow you to better plan your shoot. This goes for weather conditions.

Top 10 tips for better macro and close-up images 11

Keep the context
Sometimes photographing a fly on a sheet of Perspex or a flower against a paper backdrop can lead to striking pictures, but only when the juxtaposition is intentional. Simply plonking a subject onto a background is unlikely to lead to memorable work. Where possible, try to shoot natural subjects in their natural environment – because including vegetation, rocks, wildlife etc can provide valuable information about the life of your subject.

Consider extension tubes
To get into macro without forking out for an expensive lens, try using an extension tube. They simply move the lens away from the imaging plane. While you may lose infinity focus, it will allow you to focus at a closer distance—with lenses you already own.

Don’t forget about the composition
With macro, the subject is often the most important variable in the shot—but there are ways to accentuate your subject. Using negative space can make the subject pop. Points of interest surrounding the subjects—texture, colour, aperture—will have a drastic effect on the overall composition of the image. Make sure you control as much of the shot as you can.

If there’s something you don’t want in the frame, try to move around so it’s no longer in your composition. It may sound obvious, but a big part of photography is knowing what to shoot and what not to shoot.

Top 10 tips for better macro and close-up images 12Mastering minimum focusing distance
If you’ve ever tried focusing on a subject close to the lens, but no matter what you try you just can’t get it sharp, then check the specifications to see what the minimum focus distance of the lens is. This distance is measured from the focal plane (sensor/film) to the subject, not from the front of the lens to the subject, which is a common misconception (this is actually the working distance).

Top 10 tips for better macro and close-up images 13

Don’t forget the background
When you’re shooting macro wildlife, it usually isn’t possible to move your subjects. So, if you want to make your shot more dynamic, try studying the area around the subject. Find angles to shoot from that maximise interesting backgrounds—incorporate colour, light and texture. To maximise depth of field, keep the camera parallel to the subject, stop down the aperture (bearing in mind the above), position the camera further away from the subject or try focus stacking.

Top 10 tips for better macro and close-up images 14
Keep plants steady
When wind speed rises above 5mph, plants seem to move about the frame at an alarming rate. In such instances, it’s best to let things die down. Failing that, look for plants with thicker stems or use a Wimberley Plamp (or other support) to steady your subject. But don’t be put off by ‘bad’ weather – overcast conditions are great for reducing contrast, and mist, snow and frost can add atmosphere. What’s more, plants look great after a shower of rain. As a wider tip, extreme magnifications can lead to shake when hand-holding, so consider also taking along a tripod.

Top 10 tips for better macro and close-up images 15
Master lighting
Natural light is arguably better; use a reflector to bounce it back into shadow areas, or a diffuser to soften harsh sunlight. Another alternative is a portable LED light, which can be great for illuminating flowers and fungi

Adding light from a flash can also help you better control your scene. Experiment using your pop-up flash, if you have one, then move on to off camera flash—or ring flash, depending on your needs. To add a certain softness to your shot, try diffusing or bouncing light so it isn’t harsh on your subject. Experiment with shutter speed and ISO to darken or brighten backgrounds to add drama to your shots.

For more great close-up tips, see MPB’s blog article here.


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Top Photo Pros Unite to Support Charity and Improve Online Education for Photographers

Top Photo Pros Unite to Support Charity and Improve Online Education for Photographers

Top Photo Pros Unite to Support Charity and Improve Online Education for Photographers 16

Over 20 of the most highly acclaimed photographers and creative brands from around the world have joined forces to raise money for charity, and creatives like you are benefiting. Serge Ramelli, Mads Peter Iversen, Alexander Stemplewski, Karlie Place, Peter Hurley, Phlearn, KelbyOne, and Fstoppers are amongst the notable contributors to a digital bundle of tools and resources purposed to save photographers thousands of dollars while raising millions for deserving charities.

Top Photo Pros Unite to Support Charity and Improve Online Education for Photographers 17

Top Photo Pros Unite to Support Charity and Improve Online Education for Photographers 18

Organized by 5DayDeal, the annual initiative has distributed over $2 million in funds to a plethora of charities since 2014, but the charities aren’t alone in benefitting from these efforts. Over 160,000 creatives (and counting) have also profited from this creative approach to collaborative philanthropy. That’s because these photography bundles, which have been marked down anywhere from 95 to 97 percent, are filled with training and tools to assist creatives in the advancement of their own abilities, careers, and artistry.

The sale of these bundles has funded such achievements as life-saving rescues of human trafficking victims, surgeries made possible by medical ships providing care to impoverished coastal regions, spirit-lifting camps for children beset with cancer, and so many more. Since the onset of COVID-19, primary efforts have been centered around providing meals and education to those who would otherwise be unable to obtain such necessities.

Funds raised from the 2020 bundle events enabled the company to pay for a food silo that helped feed more than 500,000 meals to families last year alone and will continue to provide consistent means for families for years to come and that’s just one example of the many ways the company provides charity support each year!

Top Photo Pros Unite to Support Charity and Improve Online Education for Photographers 19

Each year, 5DayDeal selects charities to raise money for and they team up with some of the world’s most renowned photographers and educators to develop exclusive bundles of educational resources and post-processing tools. They then offered them at an extreme discount for just 5 days. This year, photographers can save up to 96% and get thousands of dollars worth of tools for as little as $89.

See all 2021 Photography Bundle options here.

The selected charities benefiting from this year’s bundles include:

Top Photo Pros Unite to Support Charity and Improve Online Education for Photographers 20

Learn more about these charities here.

Photographers seeking professional and/or artistic growth mark their calendars for these sales each year to ensure they don’t miss them. The collection of materials is only offered for 5 days, and once they are gone, this unique combination of resources is never offered again. Past purchasers note the extreme value they obtained due to the high quality of resources and bargain pricing.

Purchasers of this year’s bundles can get as many as 285 educational tutorials, demonstrations, and masterclasses; over 11,000 presets, tools, actions, brushes, and overlays; and nearly 550 practice images. Additional perks include creative solutions, digital magazines and ebooks, access to a website with exclusive photography resources, and so much more.

Take a look at this incredible assortment of products included in this year’s Complete Photography Bundle!

Top Photo Pros Unite to Support Charity and Improve Online Education for Photographers 21

Don’t miss your chance to experience creative and professional growth in your craft while joining hundreds of thousands of photographers in this philanthropic effort! Get the unique set of resources found in The 2021 Photography Bundle before it disappears on October 19th at noon PST.

Top Photo Pros Unite to Support Charity and Improve Online Education for Photographers 18

5DayDeal is also giving away over $10,000 in photography gear and resources. Sign up for your chance to win. No purchase is necessary to win and no strings attached!

Top Photo Pros Unite to Support Charity and Improve Online Education for Photographers 23

Top Photo Pros Unite to Support Charity and Improve Online Education for Photographers 18


Full disclosure: This article was brought to you by 5DayDeal.

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Top 10 Tips for taking great product shots for eBay

Top 10 Tips for taking great product shots for eBay

October 14, 2021

How to take great product photographs to sell on ebay and other sites, so you can maximise how much you make, and sell more quickly! We’ve written this guide on taking great product shots for eBay to help you take the best photos possible for selling your kit on ebay, but they are equally applicable for selling on other sites, such as Facebook, Gumtree, Etsy, Bepop, and others.

Used Canon EOS 300D (Silver)

Used Canon EOS 300D (Silver)

1. Check your item

Check your item for dust, or any dirt, and clean where possible. Giving your item a quick clean shows that you take care of your things and will give the buyer a better view of the items condition. Make sure you find all the accessories, as any missing items will reduce the value.

2. Prepare your area

Set-up an area where you will be taking photos, this could be a white shelf, window ledge, or table. If you don’t have anything suitable, then you can use an A3 or A4 piece of paper to create a white background

Lighting is key for taking great product shots for eBay

Ring light used for lighting

3. Think about lighting

Think about lighting, where is your light coming from? If you don’t have enough light, then you may need to consider purchasing some lights, or setup some additional lighting from what you have around the house. A simple LED panel can be used, but for better lighting you ideally want 2 light sources. Another option is a ring light, or even a DIY lighting solution. Good lighting will make your product stand out from other people, and will show the buyer the condition of your item.

4. Set your aperture for greater depth

Setup your camera on a tripod if possible, as this will allow you to use a smaller aperture, set you camera to A for aperture control. As a rough guide, here are some recommended apertures for better detail f/8-9 (M43), f/10-12 (APS-C), f/13+ (FF). For smaller items you may want to increase this further, so instead of f/8, you may want to use f/16, although be aware of diffraction.

Set your camera to Aperture priority

Set your camera to Aperture priority

5. Check your white balance

Check that your white balance settings match your lighting, as this will improve your photos as well as more accurately represent the colour of your items. If you’re shooting using tungsten/incandescent lighting, then using this setting on your camera will give you great looking colours, and your background should be nice and white, depending on your camera. If needed, then manual white balance should give the best results.

6. Use a macro lens for smaller objects

For smaller objects, you’re most likely going to need a macro lens, as this will save you a lot of time, as you will not need to crop your images. A macro lens doesn’t need to break the bank, but will be really useful, particularly for smaller items, like jewellery and other small parts. Our guide to budget macro lenses is a great place to start, if you’re thinking about getting one.

A macro lens helps you get closer to small objects

A macro lens helps you get closer to small objects

7. Smartphone tips

You will get better results from using a camera, be it a compact, a DSLR, or a mirrorless camera, however, if you do use a smartphone to speed up the process of getting your images onto the site you’re selling on, such as ebay, then be aware that almost all of the same principles apply, and lighting is key, especially as the smartphone has a smaller sensor.

8. How many photos do I need?

Take the right amount of photos – if you’re using ebay, then you can upload a maximum of 12 photos. If your product warrants it then use all 12 photos. Make sure you show everything that is included in the sale, if there’s a box, manuals, accessories, battery and charger, show this, as it will minimise the questions you get asked about the listing.

Detail showing corrosion on the hot-shoe

Detail showing corrosion on the hot-shoe

9. Include the details

If there is any damage or wear to the item, then make sure to show clear photos detailing this, as this will avoid disappointment, and also avoid people returning the item. If there are any issues or problems with the item you’re selling, make sure you include this clearly in the listing, detailing any issues.

10. Edit your photos

If you have time, then adjusting the brightness levels in photo editing software, like Photoshop can help, as well as cropping your photos, and will also give you a better result than using ebay’s own editing tools. A white background will give your images a professional look.

More reading

If you’ve got a lot to sell, and plan on doing more selling, then lighting really is key for taking great product shots – you’ll find some great lighting options here.

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Top Tips On Photographing British Wildlife

Top Tips On Photographing British Wildlife

Squirrel

 

Britain is full of wildlife, and autumn’s a great time to get out and capture a few shots of the small mammals, birds, deer and other creatures that can be found here.
 

1. Birds

As we head towards winter it gets harder for birds to find natural food so by placing feeders in your garden with different types of food in (fat and nuts) you’ll be able to attract different species of bird that you can photograph. An important side note to remember is to not remove the feeders when you’ve finished as the birds may have become reliant on your garden as a source of food.

Capturing shots of these small, shy creatures isn’t as easy as dashing out into your garden with your camera and snapping a quick shot. You need to place branches near feeders to give you more natural-looking shots, wait patiently and quietly for your subject to land and you’ll need to know your gear well before heading out onto your lawn. Long lenses are essential if you want to capture frame-filling shots and for pin-sharp images, a tripod is a must.

For more in-depth tips on photographing birds, take a look at these articles:

 

2. Spiders And Webs

Spiders seem to be everywhere at this time of year and they make great photographic subjects themselves (if you don’t mind getting close) but for those who like to keep a bit more distance, have a go at photographing their webs instead. They’re very photogenic on a frosty morning or after it’s rained. For more tips, take a look at this technique: Spider Web Photography.
 

Birds

 

3. Mammals

Many of the mammals, big and small, are shy so long lenses, patience and the ability to stay hidden are generally a must when photographing them.

Squirrels, who’ll be on the hunt for food at this time of year, are a popular photographic subject but do take something waterproof with you when heading out to photograph them as you can end up laying on the damp ground to get a shot of them foraging for food. Using bait is a good way to attract squirrels and you can place it in front of less busy backgrounds so you capture a better-looking shot. Fore more squirrel photography tips, take a look at this article: Photographing Red Squirrels.

It’s mating season for deer which means there are plenty of action shots waiting to be captured of males fighting. Their antlers look particularly impressive at this time of year and their shape can look great when silhouetted against the morning light. Throw in some mist and autumnal shades and you have the recipe for a successful wildlife shoot starting to come together. You will need a long lens so you don’t spook them and it’s safer for you to work with quite a bit of distance between you and your subject anyway. Remember to approach from downwind and if you have it, camouflage clothing will help you blend in with your surroundings more.

October to December is breeding season for a lot of seal colonies around the shores of Britain and this is when they come to shore, making locations like Donna Nook on the east coast very popular with wildlife photographers. If you are planning a trip to photograph pups and their mothers please always put the animals’ welfare first and respect the location you’re photographing. You’ll generally need a telephoto lens to capture a decent image, although some seals can be found close to paths. Take a monopod if you’re planning on walking and don’t always shoot from a standing position as getting low down will give your shots a better perspective.

For more seal photography tips, take a look at these articles:

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The secret to long battery life – Top 15 Tips!

The secret to long battery life - Top 15 Tips!

October 5, 2021

If you’ve got a mirrorless or compact camera, then you may be wondering how to get longer battery life from your batteries. Mirrorless and compact cameras often eat through battery power quicker than a DSLR does, but Angela Nicholson has 15 top tips to help you keep shooting for longer.

Whether you’re shooting stills or recording video, these tips can help you extend your cameras battery life, which can be particularly useful when shooting in cold weather!

Engage ECO or Power Save Mode for better battery life

Engage ECO or Power Save Mode for better battery life

1. Engage Eco mode

Most mirrorless and compact cameras have an Eco, Economy, Power save or Power management mode which, when activated, instructs the camera to go to sleep or shut down after a specific period of time of it not being used. In most cases you can set the time frame and selecting a short time such a s 1 minute saves battery power.

Optimise power saving settings

2. Optimise power saving settings

In some cases, there are a few additional power saving options that are worth investigating. For instance, with Panasonic S-series cameras, you can set the camera to only got to sleep if the control panel is displayed or in any display mode.

Switch the camera off when you're not using it for longer battery life

Switch the camera off when you’re not using it

3. Switch the camera off when you’re not using it

Even if you have power save mode engaged, if you’ve finished shooting and you’re heading to a new location or setting up another shot, why wait for the camera to turn off automatically? Save even more power by turning off the camera between shots.

4. Turn off pre-AF

When Pre-AF is activated, the camera attempts to focus even before you half-press the shutter release. That can be handy, but it also consumes power, so to conserve it, turn this mode off unless you need it.

5. Set rear screen to control panel mode

If you primarily use the viewfinder to compose images, it’s worth setting the rear screen to show the control panel as this consumes less energy than showing the live view.

6. Minimise Wi-Fi use

While it’s useful to connect your camera to your phone to enable to take remote control and transfer images, it’s a power-hungry operation so minimise it as much as possible.

Turn off auto transfer for longer battery life

7. Turn off auto-transfer

I love using Nikon’s SnapBridge to transfer images automatically to my phone, but turn it off via ‘Connect to smart device’ in the camera’s menu to conserve battery life.

Turn off remote control mode

8. Turn off control with smartphone mode

Sony cameras have the option to remain connected to a paired smartphone at all times, which saves you diving into the menu when you want to take remote control via your phone. However, it drains the battery more quickly than when the option is turned off.

9. Use the viewfinder or rear screen?

Some cameras use more battery power when the viewfinder is used to compose images while others drain the battery quicker when the rear screen is used. According to Sony, for instance, the A7 III has a battery life of 610 shots when the viewfinder is used and 710 when the rear screen is used. For the Lumix S5, however, Panasonic quotes a 440-image battery life with the viewfinder and 470 images with the rear screen. So it’s worth checking the claimed battery life in your camera’s specification sheet to see whether it’s better to shoot using the viewfinder or the rear screen when energy levels are critical.

 
Reduce the viewfinder refresh rate

10. Reduce the viewfinder refresh rate

A high refresh rate is a bonus when you’re photographing a moving subject, but if you’re out for a day of landscape photography, you don’t need it. Setting a lower refresh rate will extend the life of the battery.

Use the optical viewfinder for longer battery life

11. Use the optical viewfinder (if you have one)

If you have a Fujifilm X-Pro series camera such as the X-Pro3, you have the option to shoot using an electronic or an optical viewfinder. Switching from the electronic to the optical viewfinder extends the claimed battery life from 370 to 440 images.

Buy reputable batteries for longer battery life

12. Buy reputable third-party spare batteries

As tempting as cheap batteries may be, they don’t tend to last as well as the camera manufacturer’s or those from a reputable brand such as Hahnel. If your batteries are several years old, then battery life is likely to have dropped.

Carry a USB power bank

13. Carry a USB power bank

An increasing number of cameras can charge their battery in situ and be powered via a USB connection. This means you can shoot for longer if you carry a fully-charged power bank such as the BioLite Charge 80 PD which can charge a battery such as the Fujifilm NP-W1126S that comes with cameras such as the X-T3, X-Pro 3, X-T30 and X-S10, almost ten times.
 

14. Carry a USB charger

Coffee shops and cafes often allow customers to charge items such as a laptop or smartphone while they have a drink or a bite to eat, so if you carry a small USB charger, you can do the same with your camera. Many cars also now have a USB port for charging devices, or you can use a cigarette lighter adapter to let you charge your mirrorless camera as you drive between locations.

Keep the batteries warm for longer battery life

15. Keep the battery warm

Batteries don’t like cold conditions so if you’re in a cold environment, try to keep your camera and any spare batteries warm. Carry your camera in a well-insulated bag and carry spare batteries in an inside pocket close to your body.


Additional reading

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5 Top Autumn Garden Photography Tips & Ideas

5 Top Autumn Garden Photography Tips & Ideas

You don’t have to head to a place that’s bursting with beautiful landscapes to shoot some autumn-inspired shots as your own garden can give you just as many interesting autumn subjects to photograph. An even better reason to stay close to home is if the weather suddenly takes a turn for the worse you only have to take a few steps to be back in the warmth, you have your kettle close to hand and you can even continue shooting some subjects from inside your house.

 

1. Leaves / Trees

Trees

 

You can’t talk about photography in autumn without mentioning trees and leaves and it’s a subject we’ll be looking at a lot over the coming month so keep an eye out for tips on shooting macros, using backlight and much more with Autumn leaves
 

2. Berries

Berries

 

If you have a few plants that give berries at this time of year, they should be ripe by now and ready to photograph. If they’re a dark colour, try underexposing your shot slightly to deepen their shade and use a polarising filter to cut down on shine/reflections.
 

3. Portraits

Portrait

 

Kids wrapped up in hats and coats, particularly when they’re throwing leaves around, scream autumn. Keep your shoot informal and try not to shoot too many posed shots. In fact, if you’re photographing your own children playing around in your garden just leave them to it and shoot candids as they play.

If you don’t want the colours of the foliage to take over the shot, longer focal lengths, particularly with a wide to moderate aperture, can help, blurring and giving your background a nice bokeh effect as well as flattering the features of who you’re photographing. You can use out of focus foliage as a frame too, adding a spot of colour to the foreground of your autumn portrait shot.

Even though early morning and the later afternoon is a good time to shoot, autumn light tends to be lower all day so you can get away with shooting during the day if you need to.

 

4. Birds

Bird

 

Some birds begin to migrate at this time of year which means you may have new species of birds visiting your garden.

Birds are easily spooked so you need to keep still and if you can, be hidden. Try shooting from an open window from your house, set up in your shed or if you have one, use a hide. If you work from inside and are shooting through the glass rather than an open window, make sure your lens is as close to the glass as possible and turn your room lights off to minimise reflections. You also need to be in a position that’s quite close to where the birds will land as even though you’re using longer lenses, they are really tiny and can look lost among your background if you don’t get close enough.

Some cameras can be controlled via a Smart Phone which means you can set the camera up in your garden and head back in to the warmth of the house where you can release the shutter remotely from. 

Make sure you pay particular attention to the tips of feathers, particularly on the tails, as these can easily become out of focus when trying to get the right balance between a blurred background and sharp subject. You may need to switch to manual focus, so you can set the focus point more precisely. Light at this time of year can be low so be prepared to switch your ISO up and remember to use a high enough shutter speed to keep your subject sharp. Most small garden birds move quickly and tend to twitch and turn their heads frequently so you need a quick enough shutter speed to stop the movement becoming blurred.

We have more tips on photographing birds in our technique section

 

5. Mushrooms

Fungi

 

If you have any damp, dark areas in your garden or have a compost bin, you’ll find fungi specimens are now springing up. You’ll find more whole specimens in the morning but as you’re in your garden it’s quite easy for you to pop out at any time in search of photography-worthy mushrooms.

 

Quick tips for mushroom photos:

  • As well as single specimens, capture mushrooms in an odd group which is more pleasing to the eye and adds interest to your shot
  • Contrast white mushrooms with backgrounds of moss and leaves
  • Blur backgrounds out of focus
  • Look under the mushroom for interesting textures
  • Light the underbelly by directing light into the scene with a reflector
  • If using wider apertures, check your shot as your subject can end up with parts that are out of focus 

For more, have a look at this tutorial: Fungi Photography Tips.   

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6 Top Tips On Photographing Autumn Landscapes With Wide-Angle Lenses

6 Top Tips On Photographing Autumn Landscapes With Wide-Angle Lenses

Autumn Landscape

 

1. Gear Suggestions

 

2. When To Take Your Shots

Early morning or the end of the day is perfect for autumnal photography as the warm colour temperatures of the setting or rising sun boost the autumnal shades. The end of the day tends to be warmer than early morning too which is good news for those stuck in offices all day. Keep an eye on the weather forecast for the evening before you plan on heading out as a cool night helps the autumn shades develop.

Another advantage of heading out of the door early in the morning or later in the evening is the light is more diffused which means the difference between light and shadow areas isn’t as extreme. It’s still worth keeping an eye on your histogram, something which can be done in Live View on many cameras which means you can see the histogram display change as the scene in front of you alters or as you make tweaks to the exposure. This not only saves times but is a lot easier than making changes, taking a shot then checking the histogram. 

If the sky’s proving to be a problem as it’s too light, fit an ND filter to your lens to balance the exposure. Of course, if you’re not an early riser and don’t fancy heading out after your tea you can use editing software to boost the autumn colours in your shots too.
 

3. Where To Go

The Lakes, Peak District and the Brecon Beacons look particularly impressive during autumn but really you just need to go somewhere that gives you a little bit of height and a few breath-taking views.

 

Autumn Landscape
 

4. White Balance

Switch from auto to cloudy or shade to add an extra level of warmth to your shots that really boosts the autumn shades.

5. Look For Contrast

If you’re shooting sweeping shots of a forest canopy from a hillside have a look for spots where the oranges and yellows are broken up with greens. Lower down, shoot at the forest’s edge, using the shades of a field to contrast with the orange tones of the forest.

Golden coloured leaves pack some punch when framed against a blue sky but don’t dismiss dark skies either as overcast days can give you moody, richer looking images. Rain clouds look great on the horizon and once the rain has passed, colours naturally become more saturated. If there’s a breeze blowing have a go at using slower shutter speeds to capture the movement of leaves and branches as they blow in the wind to give your images a more abstract feel.

 

6. Foreground Interest

For sweeping scenic shots, it’s important to have foreground detail to add depth and to fill what can be a big empty space in front of the lens. It can also add a sense of scale to a shot but don’t fill it too much as your shot will end up looking too busy and it’ll be hard for the viewer of your shot to find a single point of focus on.

Large rocks and tree stumps work well as foreground interest or you could try setting up your composition with an object that can lead the eye from the front to the back of the shot. Paths created by walkers, streams, walls, fences and bridges all work well. Just remember to use a small aperture (bigger f-number) such as f/11 to keep front to back sharpness.

If you don’t want to shoot wide pick up the telephoto lens and use it to focus on a particular point of interest, using its pulling power to isolate your subject.

Remember: Get out of bed early or be prepared to stay out later if mornings aren’t your thing, use foreground interest, keep it simple and think about composition before hitting the shutter button.
 

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