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Recent Articles

Ask David: Why Aren’t My Backgrounds Blurry?

Filed in Ask David, Tips by on May 14, 2015 12 Comments
Ask David: Why Aren’t My Backgrounds Blurry?

When I was a beginner photographer, I distinctly remember going out one weekend to shoot an outdoor event. I thought I had the whole aperture thing figured out. In order to get a sharp subject and a blurry background, all I needed to do was select the widest available aperture (smallest f-number), or use Portrait Mode. I selected Aperture Priority and I shot the whole event at f/4.

When I looked at my photographs after the event, I was really disappointed. Despite those large apertures, the images all featured backgrounds that were either just as sharp as the subject, or only very slightly blurred. I got the focus right, I got the exposure right, but for some reason I wasn’t able to get that background blur that I wanted. And it was actually sometime before I figured out why. Today I’m going to share that secret with you, so you don’t have to figure it out for yourself the way I did.
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How To Fix Chromatic Aberration?

Filed in Tips by on May 14, 2015 1 Comment
How To Fix Chromatic Aberration?

If you’ve been taking photographs for long enough, you’ve probably heard of chromatic aberration. It actually goes by a couple of different names. The first one, “chromatic aberration” is the technical term. It seems a bit overly-technical, really, as if it’s just meant to make beginners scratch their heads. The second name for chromatic aberration is quite the opposite. “Purple fringing” sounds like something you might find on the sleeves of a jacket from the 1960s, not like something that has anything to do with photography. So if you are confused about chromatic aberration or purple fringing, keep reading. A little explanation will go along way.
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How to Photograph Martial Arts

Filed in Tips by on May 14, 2015 0 Comments
How to Photograph Martial Arts

Some photos practically take themselves. What could be simpler than photographing a beautiful landscape or a laughing child?

However, other subjects can be difficult to master. Take indoor Martial Arts for example. At face value it should be pretty easy to shoot martial artists, right? I mean, martial arts tournaments are full of action, and action makes for great photos. Unfortunately, it’s not all that simple. There are many quirks and potential problems of photographing this fast, often low-light sport to learn before you can take great photos of it.
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White Balance 101 – How to Get It Right

Filed in Tips by on May 6, 2015 4 Comments
White Balance 101 – How to Get It Right

Until you started taking photos, you may not have even been aware of such a thing as white balance. That’s because in the real world, white balance is a function of your brain. Our brains are pretty good at white balance, actually, so good that many photographers have to train themselves to consciously understand what our brains just do for us behind the scenes, every single day.

However, your camera isn’t as smart. Fortunately, there is an easy way to make sure you don’t get a color ‘cast’ in your photos.
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What is lossless JPEG?

Filed in Tips by on May 6, 2015 2 Comments
What is lossless JPEG?

You’ve probably heard a lot about JPG vs. Raw. These are two file formats that most modern DSLRs offer, but you may have also heard about another one – “lossless JPEG”.
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Making People Comfortable When You Photograph Them

Filed in Tips by on May 6, 2015 1 Comment
Making People Comfortable When You Photograph Them

Photography can be a sort of introvert’s hobby. It’s just so easy to hide behind that giant DSLR, isn’t it? And what could be more soul-searching than traveling the wilderness with your camera in hand, taking photos of wild places and enjoying the solitude?

How about taking photos of people? I know, it’s not the same thing. At all. There’s not really anything soul-searching about photographing a person who would clearly rather be doing just about anything except having his photo taken.

Portrait photography is often the domain of the extrovert – but would you believe me if I said that it doesn’t have to be? While there is definitely some skill involved in getting your subjects to relax in front of the camera, and while there are definitely some people who were born with a knack for it, it can be a learned skill. All it really takes is a couple of tried and true techniques, and some practice.
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Why You Shouldn’t Increase ISO Too Far

Filed in Tips by on April 30, 2015 0 Comments
Why You Shouldn’t Increase ISO Too Far

Modern digital camera technology has blessed us with something we never used to have: noise-free, high ISO photos.

Cameras have come so far in their ability to capture images at high ISOs that camera manufacturers have started to really use this as a selling point. You’ll often see modern DSLR cameras advertised as being capable of ISOs of 25,600, or even as high as 128,000. In fact it’s kind of like the new megapixel (and contrary to popular belief, high megapixels aren’t necessarily better). But should you really use this as a reason to purchase or not purchase a digital camera?
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What You Should Know About Lenses

Filed in Tips by on April 30, 2015 2 Comments
What You Should Know About Lenses

Before you bought a DSLR you didn’t really need to know a whole lot about lenses. Your point-and-shoot camera came with a lens already attached, and there really wasn’t anything you could do to change it. You probably knew how much zoom it had, and if you paid attention to the specs you may have also figured out what that meant in millimeters. But if your knowledge didn’t really go any further than that, well, no one can blame you.

Now that you have a DSLR, though, it’s a lot more important to know something about not only the lens that you bought with it, but the other lenses that are available to buy once you decide it’s time to expand your arsenal.

Now as it turns out, there’s a lot to know about lenses. A lot. It’s not just a matter of wide-angle vs. telephoto, there are a lot of other things to take into consideration as well. But let’s start with the basic stuff, and that’s lens classes.
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Five Ways to Overcome Creative Block

Filed in Tips by on April 30, 2015 5 Comments
Five Ways to Overcome Creative Block

Have you ever planned a photography day, just for yourself? Let’s say you woke up one morning and grabbed your camera and headed out there into the big world, ready to fill up that memory card with wonderful photos of wonderful things. And then you found yourself just standing there, camera in hand, bored.

Sometimes it seems like you’ve already shot it all. Sometimes it seems like there’s just nothing interesting left, nothing camera worthy. And at those times you may find yourself bored with what was once a hobby you were passionate about.

Don’t worry. It’s called “creative block,” and it happens to everyone—photographers, artists, writers, sculptors—if it’s a creative pursuit, then creative block is always a looming danger. Just because it’s happening to you doesn’t mean that you’ve lost your passion.
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Nine Fun Uses for a Fisheye Lens

Filed in Tips by on April 24, 2015 2 Comments
Nine Fun Uses for a Fisheye Lens

Fisheye lenses are cool. What’s not to love? With a fisheye lens, you can get fun, quirky images unlike pretty much anything you can get with any other kind of lens. And the’re surprisingly affordable too. Let’s look at nine ways to create unusual images with a fisheye lens.
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Using Complementary Colors

Filed in Tips by on April 23, 2015 0 Comments
Using Complementary Colors

What could be simpler than color? Color is all around us. We understand it from the time we are very young — in fact the names of colors are some of the first words we learn. So really, it does seem like understanding color ought to be the simplest thing in the world.

You have probably heard people talking about complementary colors, split complementary colors, analogous colors, and various other fairly muddy color theory concepts. Today I’m going to try to wipe away some of the mud, so you can get a foundation in color theory that you can start to use in your photography. The concepts are actually quite simple, as long as you have access to a color wheel, and a few basic pieces of information.
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How to Bracket without Auto-Bracketing

Filed in Tips by on April 23, 2015 0 Comments
How to Bracket without Auto-Bracketing

Our cameras are wonderful tools. They can measure the available light and use that information to make a good guess about what settings are required to get the highlights, shadows and everything in between pretty close to the way it was in real life. As photographers, we rely on our cameras and metering system to do this job – without those metering systems, we’d have to use our eyes and brains to figure out the right shutter speed and aperture combination.

But here’s the thing: all that wonderful technology still isn’t good enough to guarantee perfect results every single time. Your camera does a pretty good job of most of the time But it can’t account for all those different variations in light that might happen in unusual situations.

That’s where bracketing can work well. Today, we’ll look at bracketing, why it works, and how you can bracket your own images without needing to let the camera do it.
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How To Take The Perfect Silhouette

Filed in Tips by on April 16, 2015 5 Comments
How To Take The Perfect Silhouette

There are a few things in photography that kind of walk the line between mistake and brilliance. One of those is the silhouette. I’m sure you’ve taken lots of photos that you didn’t really mean to be silhouettes, and when you saw them after the fact you wished that you’d shot them differently. Loved-ones’ faces obscured in a silhouette aren’t always a good thing, especially if the shape of the silhouette itself has few identifying characteristics. But there are situations where silhouettes can be used creatively – so it’s a very good idea to know what to do and what not to do when it comes to deliberately including silhouettes in your photographs.
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How To Take Pictures Indoors Without a Flash

Filed in Tips by on April 8, 2015 5 Comments
How To Take Pictures Indoors Without a Flash

When you were a kid, your mom probably took a lot of pictures. When she wasn’t taking pictures outdoors, she was using a flash. Remember that? “Oh wait dear, don’t move, the flash has to warm up.”

If you look back at those photo albums full of all those pictures that your mom took when you were a kid, you may notice a common theme. Those photos probably don’t look very good. In them, your kid-self probably has a washed-out face and/or red eyes, and there are most likely some really big, ugly black shadows directly behind you. These are all hallmarks of direct flash.

Now that you’ve grown up and have a camera of your own, let’s see how to take photos that don’t look like the ones in your mom’s photo album.
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Repeating Patterns

Filed in Tips by on April 2, 2015 0 Comments
Repeating Patterns

The human eye loves pattern. Patterns are predictable, and in a way that makes them soothing. They are harmonious, and they have rhythm—not unlike a favorite piece of music. But they are also dynamic—patterns are always moving, even when they aren’t. Your eye moves across a pattern, from the first to the next to the next, and even when that pattern leaves your vision you still imagine that it continues on, outside of the world that you can see. There are a mirriad of patterns available in our world. Let’s talk about a few, and how using them can enhance your photos.
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