Trying to get more experience as a photographer can feel like a bit of a Catch-22 sometimes: you need to be given opportunities to get more experience, but you often need established experience to get those opportunities. So, what can you do? This helpful video essay features a professional photographer discussing five different ways you can get more experience.
Coming to you from Justin Mott, this great video essay will show you five different ways to get more experience as a photographer. No doubt, it can be frustrating when you are a newer photographer, and while it is a controversial thing, I generally agree with Mott that some free work (within reason) can be a good way to build up your portfolio a bit. If you decide to do this, though, be sure to take on a project that is low-pressure and that will not have major consequences if you miss shots. For example, you certainly should not jump into shooting a wedding without a lot of experience and confidence in your abilities, but something like a low-key portrait session with a friend or a family member is absolutely a great way to build your capabilities and portfolio. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Mott.
Snapchat has announced new ways it plans to reward its community for creativity and content creation called Spotlight Challenges which promise cash payouts of $25,000 or more.
Snap says that Snapchat Spotlight Challenges will offer users the chance to win cash prizes for creating top-performing Spotlight Snaps using specific Lenses, Sounds, or topics. The program is in addition to the “millions per month” the company says it pays out to creators globally for top-performing Spotlight Snaps.
Spotlight Challenges will be rolling out next month to Snapchatters aged 16 or older in the United States, with more markets promised to come in the following months.
Spotlight Snaps are similar to TikTok videos and launched in November of 2020. In its debut month, the company said it paid out more than $1 million per day to top-performing videos. Variety reports that Snapchat reduced that amount last June because the program was generating too much copycat content.
Official rules for Snapchat Challenges are available on Snap’s website. The company says that Snapchatters can win a share of the total prize amount available for each Spotlight Challenge, which will typically range from $1k to $25k, although the minimum prize amount the company will offer is $250. There are times where the company plans to “occasionally” make a larger sum available for a particular Challenge, however, though it did not specify further.
Snap says that for each Challenge, the top 50 eligible, relevant, and highest viewed submissions will be judged on the following criteria: Creativity and Originality, Innovative use of Snap Creative Tools, Unique POV, and Entertainment Value.
The company says that typically, each Challenge will feature an average of three to five winners, although it stipulates that it reserves the right to select more or fewer on occassion.
Those who want to participate can do so by visiting Snapchat’s Trending Page, which can be accessed from the trending symbol on the top right corner of Spotlight within the app. After that, users can select the Challenge they want to participate in to see that specific Challenge page, which will feature the Challenge description and entries submitted by the community. Details on each challenge can be found via the “Challenge Details” link therein and will list available prizes and the submission deadline.
We are always looking for more ways to increase our photo and video business, but given the nature of creative pursuits, the road to more success is not always clear. If you are looking to increase your business, check out this fantastic video tutorial that will give you five tips to get more clients and increase your income.
Coming to you from Olufemii, this excellent video tutorial discusses five tips to increase your business (and though it is oriented toward video work, the tips generally apply to photography work as well). Of the tips, I think the one that is most crucial and that applies to pretty much anyone’s work is the importance of personal projects. If you are busy with your professional pursuits, it can be tough to find time to set aside for additional unpaid work. However, it is important to find that time whenever possible. Personal projects are generally the only time you will have complete creative control and thus be able to fully explore and develop your personal style. And of course, it is that style that attracts clients to your work in the first place. Check out the video above for the full rundown.
When we are first learning how to work with artificial light, we generally focus on getting things right with the subject, but the mark of a professional is controlling light across the entire frame, including the background. This helpful video tutorial will show you three different ways to light your studio backgrounds to produce better images.
Coming to you from John Gress, this great video tutorial will show you three different ways to light a studio background. One thing to remember when you are first starting is that you do not necessarily need multiple lights to light both your subject and your background. You can absolutely light both your subject and background with a single light; you just need to be aware of both your subject-to-source and background-to-source distances since you cannot control the intensities independently. Of course, however, you can get more control and a lot more creativity by adding multiple lights to the equation. As you are first starting, don’t just pay attention to the background light. Be sure to check if your other lights and spilling onto the backdrop and take that into account if so. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Gress.
Even though the Brush tool is not a new tool in Adobe Lightroom, you may be surprised by all the ways it can be used and all the advantages you can gain by using a brush. This is part of my daily workflow and I hope it will become part of yours!
To show you all the different ways I will be using this photo taken in Iceland.
Let’s do a basic retouch just to get a better idea of what we are working with. Adding some contrast, opening up the shadows, bringing down the highlights, and doing the white and black points.
#1. Dodge and Burn
If you click on the brush, you can double click on effect within this section and it will set all the settings of the brush to zero. You have to play around with the flow and density, they determine the energy put into your brush if that makes sense so make sure your brush is not too intense and noticeable. You can set it to a minimum of 70.
Also, the feather slider is key, because the more feather the more pleasing, gradual, and natural your brush will be, otherwise it gives a very defined brush and will look odd. Now with that brush you can paint over brighter areas or some parts of the photo you want to highlight to bring back light in your photo:
#2. Create Fog
This is a cool trick to add some fog to your sunrise shot or dramatic photos. To create the effect you need to lower clarity and dehaze as well as boost a bit of exposure. You can now paint that effect on some part of the photo, I advise you not to put it everywhere to keep it natural. If you want to erase some part of the brush you can press the option key and your brush becomes an eraser:
#3. Enhance Your Snow
Another great way to use the brush is to enhance snow. Here we already have some snow and so you can take a new brush, boost the exposure and add some clarity. To make sure that your brush is only affecting a certain area, you need to click on Range Mask > Luminance and you can be much more precise:
#4. Fix Your Graduated Filter
You can use the graduated filter in a lot of ways but I find it very practical when it comes to closing down your photo and adding some drama to your scene. However, this graduated filter can also affect other elements that you didn’t want to be affected such as the mountains in this example. I dropped a graduated filter on top of the photo and you can select the brush within the graduated filter section and use the range mask > Luminance to remove the effect of the graduated filter from your subject:
#5. Use a Very Precise Brush
Sometimes we use a brush and want to be very precise and not affect all the elements around what you’re working on. To do that, let’s brighten the water but not the sand here. You can take a new brush, boost the exposure, and select auto mask. This way only the very center of your brush will affect your subject:
There you go, the top 5 uses of the Brush tool for me in Adobe Lightroom 2021! I hope you learned something new and that you will get a lot of use out of your brushes!
About the author:Serge Ramelli is a landscape and fine art photographer who has published numerous books on the subject. His fine art photography has been sold in one of the largest gallery networks in the world. Ramelli hosts a YouTube Channel where he teaches photography and editing techniques which you can subscribe to here.
Landscape photography is a tricky genre in which to make money, as unlike most other genres, there is rarely a direct relationship in which a client pays you for a specific brief. As such, making money with it can be a bit trickier than in other cases. This great video tutorial will give you three ideas to make some money with your work.
Coming to you from Mark Denney, this helpful video tutorial will give you three different methods to make money with your landscape photography. Very few people make a full-time living in the genre, but it is a highly popular genre, and as such, it can be beneficial to make a little money on the side if it is a hobby you enjoy. Personally, I have set up a small store on my website through Fine Art America. I like this because they take care of all the printing, creation of products, and shipping, and I just get my cut of the profits at the end. It isn’t much, but I’ll never complain about getting a little money for what is otherwise a hobby. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Denney.
The longer reach of telephoto lenses is a brilliant thing for photographers who want to photograph shy wildlife, pull far away subjects closer or simply want to fill the frame to create an attention-grabbing shot.
The telephoto effect these lenses have make objects, that may actually have quite a lot of distance between them, appear as if they’re sat close together. The longer your focal length, the more obvious the effect will be. It’s useful when you have a city skyline or mountains in the background which will give you a more interesting and pleasing shot if they’re pulled a little closer to the object closer to your lens e.g. the bridge, building or boulder that’s your main point of focus.
When you want to exclude some part of what’s in your frame e.g. a boring grey sky that’s in the background of your landscape shot, use a telephoto lens to focus in on the colourful tree line rather than having the trees and sky in shot. It’ll also pull a distant subject closer to you, which means you can get frame-filling shots of shy wildlife or of a particular aspect of the landscape that’s too far for you to get to.
If you want to draw attention to a particular aspect that would be lost if shot with a wider focal length, use a telephoto lens to isolate your subject. You can do this with shorter focal lengths, but the longer reach of a telephoto means you can isolate a subject that’s some distance away from where you’re shooting from.
As a telephoto lens closes the distance between you and whatever you’re photographing, it’s an ideal lens for photographing wildlife. With a telephoto lens you’ll be able to take shots that look like you were just a few steps away from your subject when really you were some distance away. This distance means your subject won’t be scared off and if you’re shooting what could be considered as a dangerous animal, the distance makes it safer for you.
Your shots won’t be as good as those who use telescopes, but you can still get excellent shots of the moon with a long telephoto lens. As well as a very long lens you also need a tripod, clear skies, good weather, remote/cable release, a few hours to spare and good technique. You can even take a number of shots, and combine multiple shots to produce a sharper image.
Shooting head or head and shoulder shots with a longer focal length can give a better perspective and allows for a tighter crop when working further away from your subject. This distance also means you don’t have to work too close to your subject and as a result, they’ll be more comfortable, and you’ll have more natural-looking portraits. You’ll also be able to capture shots without any distortion and backgrounds are more easily thrown out of focus, even when they are just a couple of meters behind your subject, meaning all focus falls directly on your subject. Just keep an eye on your shutter speed if working hand-held, though, as you don’t want shake spoiling your shot. Find more tips on shooting portraits.
As mentioned above, telephoto lenses make it easier to get the blurry backgrounds in photos that isolate your subject and really make them the focus of your shot. You don’t want a distracting background detail competing for the viewer’s attention and a shallow depth of field will make sure this doesn’t happen.
For fast-paced action that you can’t get close to e.g. motorsport and flying events, you’ll need the longer focal lengths telephotos give you as most of the time, it’ll be impossible to get close to the action. To create a sense of pace, use your telephoto lens to shoot a few shots where your subject is sharp but the background is nicely thrown out of focus. How good you are at panning, what shutter speed you use, how fast your subject is moving and how much light’s around will make this task harder / easier every time you head to the track, but do it a few times and you’ll soon perfect your technique.
More Top Tips
How about picking up some top composition tips that will help you perfect the shots you capture with your telephoto lens? There are also hundreds of top tutorials to read in our ‘How To‘ section of the site.
While Lightroom Classic doesn’t offer as many customization options as programs like Photoshop, there’s still a number of major improvements you can make to the default experience. You can speed up browsing, create a way smarter default set of adjustments, and even rebrand Lightroom with your logo, in just minutes.
Lightroom offers a variety of options for optimizing performance. While some of them require expensive hardware upgrades, like a faster processor or NVMe storage for your cache, there are still a few quick ways to boost performance.
One of the easiest is to tailor the way Lightroom renders previews to fit how you work. As a quick refresher on how Lightroom handles previews, you can choose to generate different types of previews on import. You can choose between Minimal, Embedded, Standard, and 1:1. The first two options just use the small thumbnails created when your camera saves the file, but the Standard or 1:1 previews are necessary for actually working with your files, and Lightroom will eventually have to render them. As a result, you can choose between saving time at import, by just creating Minimal previews, or increase your import times by creating Standard or 1:1.
For most of my work, I choose to go with 1:1 previews — I have plenty of cache space, and prefer the more fluid experience of working with my photos while already having the previews rendered. If you’re just importing a huge bulk of photos for tasks like focus stacking, culling, or are just planning on turning around re-exporting them, you can instead go with the minimal files.
Also on the topic of previews, there are another few optimizations you can make to Lightroom’s defaults. In catalog settings, you can decrease the preview quality to low. This makes a virtually imperceptible difference to the apparent visual quality, while still saving space in your cache and even potentially improving the loading speeds of previews (smaller files should read from the disk faster). You can also bump up the size of the cache in Lightroom’s preferences, and even set the 1:1 previews to be retained for longer in the catalog settings — both of those changes are intended to trade cache disk space for speed, and I find them to be very helpful.
One more niche option is useful if you’re trying to edit large photos with many adjustments on a slow computer, and that option is to “Use smart previews instead of originals for image editing”. Put simply, a smart preview is basically a smaller, optimized version of your raw file. You can edit that smart preview just like you would a regular file, then Lightroom syncs those changes back to the original raw when it’s available. While this feature is nice for editing on computers with smaller drives, the option to preferentially edit with those previews can make a difference in that complex photo and slow computer situation. Outside of that, however, I don’t find that it’s really worth the work.
Save Time on Every Photo
Adobe’s default profile and settings are a pretty good starting point, especially with the shift to the Adobe Color profiles a few years ago. They can be drastically improved, however, with just a tiny bit of work. Lightroom offers a feature called Adaptive Presets, and setting one of these as your default can save time and deliver significantly better image quality at the pixel level.
For reference, setting a preset as a default doesn’t mean you have to be stuck with a faux-retro look, or any of the significant image adjustments you might associate with presets. Instead, the Adaptive Preset can be a totally neutral starting point, just like your existing default, but with the added benefit of being much smarter about handling high and low ISO photos. Making use of this smarter preset is important because many modern cameras can handle up to ISO 6400 or higher with no problem, assuming sharpening and noise reduction are applied well. Furthermore, ISO 64 or ISO 100 on cameras can be incredibly noise-free, and the default noise reduction applied can be excessive.
Without an Adaptive Preset, you’d have to choose between these extremes, compromise and just pick a middle-of-the-road value for sharpening, or take the time to tweak the settings for each photo. Instead of choosing one value, the adaptive preset can be created from a set of presets created at different ISOs, and can then pick an appropriate value for any ISO in that range. While the process is simple, it’s a bit too long to include in this article, so if you’re interested, check out my guide from last year on creating an ISO adaptive preset.
Your Name in Lights
Did you know Lightroom lets you replace their logo with your own? This one is a bit closer to “just for fun” than “incredibly useful”, but can still be a very nice touch when working with clients. I also think it illustrates an important point if you’re just getting started with Lightroom: there’s a number of features that aren’t immediately apparent, and taking a little time to explore can pay dividends in improving your experience.
Within Lightroom, if you right-click on the logo and identity plate at the top left of the screen, you can select Edit Identity Plate. From this menu, you can select Personalized in the dropdown. This menu then lets you swap out the default plate for anything you’d prefer, like a logo image, and it even supports transparency. You can also adjust the font for the modules, although that font change is limited to just that area.
While it’s not a revolutionary change, I think it illustrates just how much depth there actually is to Lightroom. If you’re new to Lightroom, or just haven’t taken a look around the menus recently, consider spending a few minutes poking around. Depending on what you shoot and how you prefer your workflow, there may be options that are perfect for you. As with any piece of software, having a strong understanding of what all it can offer can make a big difference between just using it and really getting everything from it.
This industry is infamous for having a low average wage, particularly if you’re a self-employed photographer or videographer. However, there are plenty of people earning a good wage, and here are 10 ways you can too, with examples of videographers who are already doing it.
I have written about my early experiences in this industry a few times, but it bears repeating. When I first leapt into full-time photography, I had no contacts, no money, and no specific direction for how I would proceed in the industry. It may seem as if I were ill-prepared, and you wouldn’t be wrong, but in truth, it was the result of getting a few job offers straight out of university for careers I knew I’d hate. I had to do something immediately, and so I chose my passion and dove in.
Back then, every few hundred dollars I could claw into my pocket was a hard-fought win and I was stressed permanently. I could scarcely imagine how anyone could make $100,000 with their camera let alone more than that, even though I knew people who were. When I saw this video by Parker Walbeck, I suspected I wouldn’t want to share it as a lot of similar content is ironically contentless, but this one isn’t. Walbeck goes through 10 different niches in which videographers can make good money, and then gives examples of videographers who have succeeded in that area and how.
It is, of course, worth noting that earning $100k per year or more takes a lot of work and know-how, but that it is achievable.
Improving your editing doesn’t necessarily mean getting your head around the Tone Curve or finding new ways to use the Color Grading panel. Check out these five practical tips to help you be more thoughtful in your editing and discover how to create your own style.
Contemporary landscape photographer Kyle McDougall is accustomed to working on long-term personal projects and his insights into how to bring a body of work together have shaped these useful tips for how to help you edit your photographs. This isn’t about tweaking sliders; this is about understanding your work and how images can work together, often in pairs, but also more broadly.
The Reference View in Lightroom isn’t something that gets a lot of use but it can be an incredibly useful means of understanding how two images sit alongside one another, but also tweaking one of the images to bring it more into line with the other. Matching exposure and color balance between two images is made much easier. I just wish Adobe had included a means of quickly swapping the two images so that the reference image becomes the active image and vice versa. If you know a quick way to achieve this be sure to let me know in the comments!
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