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David Peterson

David Peterson is the creator of Digital Photo Secrets, and the Photography Dash and loves teaching photography to fellow photographers all around the world. You can follow him on Twitter at @dphotosecrets or on Google+.

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Photographing Spiders Webs

Filed in Nature, Tips by on August 9, 2017 0 Comments
Photographing Spiders Webs

Animals, insects, and moving creatures of any kind can be difficult to photograph, for different reasons. But if you are like the 30% of Americans who describe themselves as arachnophobic, spiders can present an especially difficult photographic challenge. Now, I’m not a psychologist nor do I pretend to know much about the treatment of arachnophobia, but if you simply cannot imagine yourself getting close enough to a spider to photograph it, then I have an alternative suggestion for you. Why not photograph a spiders web instead? Read on to find out how.
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Turn your child into a photographer

Filed in Being a Photographer, Tips by on August 6, 2017 0 Comments
Turn your child into a photographer

Sometimes I feel sorry for the children of photographers. It’s a hard life. From the time of their birth, they have had that camera constantly in their faces, through every milestone, birthday party, and major and minor life events. Yes, the children of photographers need never worry about forgetting anything that happened to them during their childhoods. Chances are, whatever it is, it’s stored somewhere on a memory card or hard drive somewhere inside their shutter-happy parents’ home.

Besides being eternally tormented by mom and her DSLR, the children of photographers do have something going for them, and that is exposure to photography at an early age. The chances are pretty good if your child has grown up in the presence of a camera, she’s also developed somewhat of an interest in photography. Your job as a parent is not only to make sure that you capture a ridiculous number of photographs of your child as she’s growing up, but that you also teach her how to use a camera herself.
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What is a stop?

Filed in Aperture, Tips by on August 4, 2017 0 Comments
What is a stop?

Even if you’ve only had your camera for a short period of time, you’ve almost certainly heard people describe exposure in terms of a “stop.” It is a pretty typical expression used to describe a change in camera settings, but what exactly does it mean? Read on to find out.
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Camera Aperture Versus Camera Phone Aperture

Filed in Aperture, Tips by on August 2, 2017 0 Comments
Camera Aperture Versus Camera Phone Aperture

Even a die-hard DSLR owner has to admit, smartphone cameras are useful tools. After all, almost no one wants to lug a heavy DSLR around all the time, and sometimes a photo-worthy moment arrives and that smartphone camera is all you have. And you know what they say, “The best camera is the one you have with you.”

And the great thing about phone cameras is that despite their simplicity, you’re not just limited to pointing and shooting. You can download a lot of pretty cool photography apps for your smartphone, whether it’s an iPhone or an Android phone. But one thing you may have noticed is that you can’t use any of these tools to adjust the aperture. That means that you don’t get to choose between a shallow depth of field and a broad one. And no matter how hard and how long you search the app store, that’s not likely to change any time soon. Why is that? Read on to find out. Continue Reading »

What should I upgrade next? Lens/Body/Flash?

Filed in Lens, Tips by on August 2, 2017 0 Comments
What should I upgrade next? Lens/Body/Flash?

When you got your first DSLR, the chances are pretty good that it came with what we call a “kit lens.” A kit lens is a mid-range zoom, usually with somewhere between an 18mm to 70mm focal length. A typical kit lens doesn’t tend to be the best quality piece of glass, and usually has a fairly narrow maximum aperture. But, it’s a good, versatile beginner’s lens that lets you take good photos in most of the situations you’re likely to encounter. Your kit lens is a great tool for when you’re first starting out, and when you’re first learning your way around your DSLR. But at some point, you’re going to start to realize that your kit lens is holding you back a little bit, and it may be time to expand your gear. But where do you begin?
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Representing invisible subjects: How to photograph music

Filed in Miscellaneous, Tips by on August 2, 2017 0 Comments
Representing invisible subjects: How to photograph music

What? That’s craziness. You can’t photograph music–music is something you hear with your ears, it’s not something you see with your eyes. So how can you photograph sound? Read on to find out.

Music is common to every human culture, just as visual art is. Music soothes us, from infancy to old age. When we are introduced to a new person, one of the questions we often ask that person is, “What kind of music do you like?” Everyone has an answer, whether it’s country, classical, or hip-hop, and everyone who loves music also appreciates photos that represent music, whether they are album covers, photos of our favorite musical stars, or abstract images that feature instruments.

##How to capture the idea of music

Yes, it is true, music is something we hear, it is not something we see. However we do have very strong visual associations with music, for example, we know what sound the piano makes, and when we see an image of a piano we don’t have to be told what kind of music will come out of that instrument. Even instruments from other cultures that we may not be familiar with can still spark the imagination. Musical instruments, even strange ones, are easy to identify as musical instruments, and it’s therefore natural for us to imagine the sounds that they might make. Even if we are wrong, it doesn’t matter—we’re still inspired to think about sound when we see images of those things with our eyes.

Now there are number of ways you can approach music photography – you can photograph the instrument, you can photograph the musician, or you can photograph the people who are experiencing the music. All three approaches can be used to communicate the idea of sound and harmony, but you need to photograph these subjects with those ideas already in your head.

Let’s start by taking a look at some examples.

https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/cool-guy-sitting-guitar-on-gray-560464798

In this first image, we see a musician holding his instrument. This is a portrait—it tells us something about the musician but it doesn’t necessarily say “music.” The subject is holding his guitar, so we understand that he is a musician, but the image isn’t really about the music, it’s about the person. Intellectually, we understand what that guitar would sound like if he was playing it, but because he’s not playing it there really isn’t a reason for us to think specifically about sound. Now let’s look at a different example:

https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/this-guitar-sounds-great-handsome-young-145140631

In this image, the musician is strumming the guitar. It’s a nice photo, but even though we can imagine the sound of the guitar being strummed, there’s no emotion in the scene. Music is an emotional experience, which means that we need to see that emotion before we can really make that leap from sound to music. So the expression on the musician’s face can tell us a lot–if there is no emotion in his expression, we can just as easily imagine that he is just tuning up the guitar or strumming a few isolated chords rather than playing an actual song.

##Now let’s take a look at our third example:

https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/portrait-japanese-man-guitarjapanese-musiciana-low-170372363

In this image, the subject is clearly making music. We can see that his instrument is actually being played (he’s clearly not tuning it or just warming up), and there’s an expression on his face that connects the music to an emotional experience. There’s also drama in the image because of the way it is lit. The lighting is low and the image is very low-key, and low-key images tend to come across as being more dramatic. And let’s face it, your favorite songs are probably somewhat dramatic—heartbreak, political outrage, romantic love—these are all dramatic themes that tend to occupy the lyrics of most modern songs. So the light in the scene can help create drama, which will really add to that feeling of actually being able to hear the music that we are only seeing in this photograph.

##Instruments

Here’s another example of a photograph that says “music:”

Strings

Now, why does this image of an instrument on its own seem so musical, while the instrument being held by a musician who is not playing does not? That’s because in the example above, the person is equally as important as the instrument. We automatically assume that the photo is about him, and not about the music that he might create with that instrument, simply because he is not in the process of actually playing. On the other hand, an instrument photographed on its own can only be about one thing–it is about the tool that is used to make music, and hence it is going to feel more like a photograph of the music itself. Again, photographing an instrument with dramatic light will help bring out that those musical qualities in the image itself. We think of music as being a dramatic thing, so dramatic lighting going to make us feel like we are experiencing music as a we look at the tools that are used to create it.

##Now let’s look at a fourth example:

https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/silhouettes-people-concert-front-scene-bright-572251555?src=WD40bBY9JwmGs1IDgu_DCQ-1-33

In this image we see the complete experience of music. Because we are looking at the people who are affected by the music, we are connecting with them. That connection makes us feel as if we are experiencing the music too, even though we don’t instinctively know what the genre is or even what band is playing. But because the photographer has captured the emotion that is often connected with live music, we are getting a very strong sense of sound in this image.

Have you noticed the common thread between all of the examples we’ve seen so far? Is it the light. The light is dramatic, and music is dramatic, so we can imagine that we are experiencing music just based on the way that the scene is lit.

##Abstractions

Another way that you can capture music in a photograph is by taking an abstract or symbolic approach. A musical note is one very obvious way to represent music in a symbolic manner—everyone knows what a musical note is and what it represents. But I know you can be more creative than that—let’s look at an example so you can see what I mean.

The guitar king

In this image, the photographer used light painting to represent music. It’s an abstract representation because there are no musical notes or other obvious symbols, but the light appears to dance in the way that we perceive music to dance, in the sense that it rises and falls in a rhythmic way. Because it is so visually close to the way that we hear music with our ears, it’s easy to make that mental translation from visual input to auditory input, even though we’re not technically hearing anything. Now, would this depiction work if there wasn’t also a musical instrument in the image? It might work visually, but it probably wouldn’t remind you of music, because we need that literal cue (the instrument) to appear in the frame in order for us to make that leap from the thing we’re seeing to the thing we might actually be able to hear if we were present in that scene.

Regardless of your approach, the key to capturing great music photographs is to try to make that connection between what you’re seeing and what you’re hearing, and then make sure that you are capturing that connection in your photograph. Most of the time, it’s going to be an emotional connection. Music can make people experience joy, grief, love, anger … there really isn’t an emotion that can’t be expressed through music. But the good news is that all of those emotions can be expressed through photography, too. So if you can capture the visual representation of music at the same time as you capture the emotion that exists in the scene, you can be pretty sure you captured the music itself. If you’re not sure, ask someone. Pass your photos around and ask viewers to tell you the first couple of words that come to mind. If “music” or “sound” is one of them, then you’ve done your job.

##Conclusion

You don’t have to be a musician to be able to hear the music in a photograph, you just have to be a human being who is capable of having the profound experience of connecting to music. Really, doesn’t that describe all of us? As long as you keep that music in your head while you are creating your photographs, and you think about the emotions that are experienced by both the people creating the music and the people listening to it, you cannot fail to capture photographs that seem to sing.

##Summary:

1. Photograph a musician playing an instrument
– Make sure to capture emotion
– Use dramatic light
2. Photograph the instrument
– Use dramatic light
3. Photograph the crowd
– Try to capture emotion and drama
4. Create an abstract representation of music
– Musical symbolism
– Painting with light

How to photograph farms, ranches and rural places

Filed in Landscape, Tips by on June 9, 2017 0 Comments
How to photograph farms, ranches and rural places

Even if you live in the city, a visit to a rural place can be cathartic. Rural places are quiet, homey, and down-to-earth. And they have a beauty that is somewhere between the rough beauty of an urban area and the perfect beauty of nature.

The process of photographing a rural setting requires careful attention to detail, because you want to capture a real sense of place as well as a visual interpretation of the place you’re visiting. So it helps to really think about what your goals are and to have them well-mapped out before you embark on your photo shoot. Keep reading for more.
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How to simulate sunshine

Filed in Sun, Tips by on June 9, 2017 0 Comments
How to simulate sunshine

There’s a reason why golden hour photos tend to be more pleasing than photos shot at other times of the day, and it’s not just the soft light and gradual transition between shadows and highlights. People love golden hour photographs because they’re warm. That orange light makes us feel as if we are standing out in the sun ourselves, and the sun is one of those universally appreciated sources of energy. It’s no cliché to say that the sun is life-giving, without it, the world would be a bleak and terrible place indeed. We love the sunlight because it’s the light that nourishes and sustains us, and as such we are drawn to golden hour photographs because no other sort of photograph reproduces the sun in quite the same way.

Now here’s a fun fact for you: you don’t have to wait until the golden hour to capture that warm, sunny feeling in your photographs. You can even do it indoors, or on an overcast day. Read on to find out how.
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What is Auto HDR?

Filed in HDR, Tips by on June 9, 2017 0 Comments
What is Auto HDR?

Modern digital cameras can do a lot of things that their predecessors even as recently as 10 years ago could not do, but they’re still not perfect. And one of the challenges that digital photography manufacturers have always faced is producing cameras that are capable of capturing a full range of tones in a high dynamic range situation. Even today, the best DSLRs on the market still can’t achieve this in every situation. But there’s good news—many newer model cameras have an automatic mode designed to combat this problem. It’s called “Auto HDR,” but just what does it do and more importantly, should you use it? Keep reading to find out.
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Spelunking with your camera

Filed in Lifestyle, Tips by on May 25, 2017 0 Comments
Spelunking with your camera

I love visiting caves. First of all, they’re great on hot days when the outside world is oppressive, because they’re usually a nice cool refrigerator temperature inside. But they’re also beautiful—caves are full of interesting structures and formations that you don’t see anywhere else in the world, and if you’re not taking photographs when you’re visiting one of these beautiful places, you are missing out. Keep reading for some tips on how to get amazing photos in commercial caves.

[Top image Cave Adventure by Flickr user darkday.]

It can be really tricky to take photographs inside of a cave. First of all, commercial caves may have a lot of restrictions placed on photographers, from a moratorium against tripods to outright banning flash. The good news is that modern camera technology gives us a lot of ways around these restrictions, so you just have to have a plan and a good understanding of how to capture fabulous photographs in low light.

##Protect your gear

The first thing to remember about commercial caves is that they are made out of rock. Your camera and solid rock aren’t friends. And quite often you are going to be walking down staircases, ducking through narrow walkways with low ceilings, and there is going to be rock sticking out at all angles pretty much everywhere you go. If your camera isn’t protected, that may be the end of your camera (and I won’t even mention the part where the park service will really not appreciate you bashing your camera against those fragile stalagmites). Make sure you’re carrying your camera on a strap around your neck so there’s no risk of dropping it, and carry it in front of your body so that there’s no chance of bashing it against a wall or staircase. It’s a good idea to put your camera in a padded sleeve instead of wearing it naked around your neck—that is going to help protect against unexpected happenings like if you stumble over a step or encounter a protrusion you didn’t see in the dark. And I probably don’t need to lecture you too much about your own personal safety—commercial caving operations aren’t going to let you in without a helmet, knee pads or other safety gear (depending on if you’re on a walking tour or are planning to repel into the cave). So follow all safety guidelines laid out by the operation, and don’t do anything or go anywhere that isn’t permitted on the tour.

##What to bring

It’s useful to ask in advance whether or not tripods are allowed—if you’re taking a tour, it’s probably going to be moving along pretty quickly, so it might be worth asking if it’s okay for you to hang back for a few minutes while you set up your tripod and take a photo. Be prepared, however, to be told that tripods simply aren’t allowed—most tours just prefer to not have to worry about someone who might spend too much time lagging behind the group or getting in the way. If you are told that tripods are OK, make sure you have a tripod with a quick release so you can set up and break down quickly and avoid inconveniencing anyone (the last thing you want is to be the guy that convinced them to adopt a “no tripod” policy). If the cave allows self-guided tours or private tours, that might be a better option—just be sure you’re not getting in the way of other groups of people.

https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/girl-camera-cave-627751568?src=xq_9qhmWJjLOGTk4MOv3tg-1-10

If tripods are allowed, make sure you also have some way to remotely release your shutter, because you don’t want to muck up that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with camera shake. If you have a remote shutter release bring one, if not, make sure you know how to use your camera’s self timer. Most commercial caves are well-lit enough that you won’t need to use shutter speeds in excess of 30 seconds, so your self-timer function should be enough. Just set it to countdown five seconds and that should be enough time for the vibration to cease before the shutter actually opens.

Most commercial caves allow flash photography, but some don’t. It’s always a good idea to find out what the policy is for the cave you’re planning to visit, since the answer will impact your decisions about what addtional gear you might need to bring with you. If the cave does allow flash, make sure you’re using an off-camera flash. On-camera flash really isn’t going to produce satisfying pictures—because it’s direct, you’re not going to get a lot of detail-defining shadow, and you’re probably also going to get unwanted anomalies such as glare, especially off of damp surfaces (which tend to be everywhere inside of caves). And because caves are often full of airborne moisture, you may end up with images that have a hazy appearance, which can happen when that direct light reflects off those airborne water particles and back towards the camera.

You can use your external flash with a synch cord or with a slave unit—the synch chord is a connected way of firing the flash at the same time as you make the exposure, while the slave unit is a remote trigger. But if you’re using a tripod you may find it simpler to just put your camera in bulb mode and then walk to wherever you need the light, and fire it manually. This is going to give you a lot of flexibility because it will allow you to add light to multiple parts of the scene in a single exposure. Remember also to adjust the strength of your flash if you’re getting light that seems too bright or overly harsh.

It’s a very good idea to shoot in RAW since it’s going to be difficult to predict the color of the light. In commercial caves, the light is likely to be incandescent, but if you’re adding flash then you’re going to have more of a mixed-lighting situation. Because it’s extremely simple to adjust white balance after the fact when you’re shooting in RAW, it’s a very good idea to put your camera in that mode so that you can adjust the white balance later if you didn’t get it right in camera. And because you run the risk of over under-exposing in certain areas especially in those dimly lit caves, shooting in RAW will capture the most detail that your camera is capable of capturing, which means that you’ll be able to make exposure corrections as well.

This is also an excellent argument for lowering your ISO. Your photos are going to have some dark areas, and higher ISOs will increase the chance of noise appearing in those places. Try not to deliberately underexpose photos with the idea of lightening them later in post-processing because that can actually exacerbate the noise problem. If you’re going to be hand-holding your your camera (which may be necessary if you’re taking a guided tour), err on the side of overexposing at higher ISOs rather than underexposing at lower ISOs. If you’re lucky enough to be allowed a tripod, keep your ISO low and opt for longer shutter speeds.

Warm glow

Ideally, you want to shoot at larger apertures instead of higher ISOs, so bring a 50mm prime lens if you have one. A 50mm prime lens has a maximum available aperture of at least f/1.8, which will allow you to shoot in those darker underground conditions. If you are on a group tour, you can take a few photos with your off-camera flash but remember to be courteous—most people are going to find it really annoying to have that flash going off repeatedly over the course of the tour, so save your flash for only the most photo-worthy rooms in the cave.

##Use a wide-angle lens

Most of the caverns in a cave are quite spectacular in scale, depending of course on the individual cave. It does pay to have a zoom lens with a wide end, say 17 to 35. Without that wide angle it’s difficult to capture the scale and structure of acavern, so it’s nice to have a wide end as well as a somewhat narrower end for shooting details. You can bring multiple lenses but remember that there’s a lot of moisture in the air inside a cave, and moisture could lead to condensation inside your camera if you’re switching lenses. It’s best to avoid too much lens-switching while you’re inside the cave, and avoid it altogether if possible.

https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/postojna-sloveniamay-17-2015-beautiful-stalactites-580475509?irgwc=1&utm_medium=Affiliate&utm_campaign=Eezy%20Inc&utm_source=38919

Another thing that can help create a sense of scale in your photographs is to add a person—place your subject at the mouth of the cave, for example, then stand back a little and use a wide angle lens to capture the scene (remember that you’ll need to expose for the cave itself or your camera may default to exposing for those elements outside the mouth of the cave). The diminutive size of the person compared to the mouth of the cave and the cavern itself will create a sense of enormity in your image, which can help communicate three dimensions to your viewer.

##Conclusion

It’s worth noting that the presence of your camera may cut back somewhat on the adventurous parts of your cave visit—don’t expect to be doing a whole lot of repelling or crawling around on your belly with your expensive DSLR in tow, unless of course you promise not to blame me for the destruction of your gear. While it certainly is possible to spelunk in an extreme sort of way with your gear, you do so at your own risk. And even if you don’t plan to do anything claustrophobic, remember that not only are caves full of potential camera-destroying hazards, but a camera whacked hard against a feature of the cave can also cause damage to the cave as well. So exercise great caution and if you’re at all concerned, consider buying a military style case to protect your gear from bumps and moisture. And don’t forget courtesy, too, the last thing you want is to be banished from a commercial cave because you didn’t follow the rules. Above all, make sure you take as much time as is allowed to think through your photos, and take lots of them. Consider your cave visit to be a once-in-a-great while opportunity, so make the best of it.

##Summary

1. Protect your gear
– Carry your camera in front of you
– Choose a soft body case
– Don’t change lenses while in the cave
2. What to bring
– Ask if tripod or flash is allowed
– If tripods are permitted, bring a remote release
– Use an external flash
3. Shoot in RAW
4. Keep your ISO low
5. Shoot at larger apertures
6. Use a wide-angle lens
7. Include a person to give the image a sense of scale

What in the heck is that thing for? A photographer’s guide to using the black flag

Filed in Equipment, Tips by on May 25, 2017 0 Comments
What in the heck is that thing for? A photographer’s guide to using the black flag

If you own a set of photographer’s reflectors, you’ve probably got a pretty good handle on what most of the different versions are for. The white reflector can be used on a bright sunny day to bounce light back into the shadows, softening them up and eliminating the dreaded raccoon eyes look. The silver reflector can be used on an overcast day, when you need just a little extra boost to the highlights. Similarly, the golden side can be used to simulate the look of golden hour sunset or sunrise light. And the translucent side is actually a diffuser — to use it, you simply place it between the light source and your subject and it diffuses or softens the light, which eliminates the need to bounce light into the shadows. But there is another surface included with most reflector sets that you may find just a little bit perplexing. It’s the black side—and if it’s not at first obvious to you what it’s for, you are not alone. Many photographers simply archive that black side because they can’t really think of a use for it, and the rest of those reflectors seem to do everything that’s needed anyway. Aren’t you just a little curious, though? Read on to find the answer.

https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/dark-black-flag-waving-against-clean-476295595?src=U3Ap8FLTDb1YXv-CgjU4-Q-1-5

What if I told you that there is actually a good use for that black side, and that you shouldn’t simply squirrel it away in your camera bag, never to be seen or thought about? The black side of your reflector kit is called a black flag, and it’s use is referred to as “flagging.” Once you really understand how the black flag can help improve your photos, I think you’ll find a lot of different uses for it.

##What is a black flag?

A black flag, although it seems to be in a completely different category than those reflectors and diffusers, is actually a very similar tool. The black flag can be used to control light, just like a diffuser or reflector can. Diffusers soften the light, reflectors bounce the light, and flags actually remove or block light. If you don’t have a set of reflectors, you can use a black piece of foam core as a black flag, just as you can use a white piece of foam core as a pseudo-reflector.

Just as with any reflector, diffuser, or similar tool you either need to have someone to hold the flag for you or you will need to have some light stands and clamps that you can use to adjust and position the flag before you take the photograph.

[img src="black-flag-amazon"]Westcott 306 20-Inch 5-In-1 Reflector (Black)

##When to use the black flag

You can use a black flag to increase contrast in a scene. One example of when you might want to do this is if you are shooting on an overcast day, which tends to be very flat and almost two-dimensional looking because the light just doesn’t have that much dynamic range. Another example could be a studio image where you’re trying to achieve a high contrast look. It could be that you’re shooting a small object and you’d like to deemphasize the background—you can do this by placing your black flag in front of your light source and moving it until the shadows fall on the background. This is a way of reducing the light on the background without also having to underexpose the shot, which would have as much effect on the subject itself as it would have on the background. This can help separate subject and background and create a more dramatic and more three-dimensional look in your photograph. You may find that you need to combine reflectors with the black flag and that’s perfectly acceptable—let’s say you darken the background so much that part of the subject falls off a little bit at the edges. Use a reflector to create an outline on that side of the subject and bring it a little forward from the background.

Cake On a Dark Background

A black flag can also be used as a sort of stand in for a lens hood – if you have a light shining towards the camera in such a way that it may create flare, you can place a black flag between the light and your camera so that the light still hits your subject where you want it to but is directed away from your lens so it doesn’t create any unwanted glare.

##Using a black flag with your flash

You can also use a pseudo-black flag to modify the light from your onboard flash. A piece of soft black foam, wrapped around the bottom of your flash will stop your flash from hitting your subject directionally, and will also prevent the light from spilling out into the room in such a way that it creates a distraction for people who might be in the area. This can help improve your photographs, but it can also help make you, as a photographer with a flash, more tolerable to the people who are around you simply trying to enjoy the event. All you need for this technique is a soft, flexible piece of foam that you can buy at any craft store and one or two pieces of elastic, such as basic elastic hair ties, to hold the foam in place. Wrap it around the bottom of your flash and up the sides and it can be used to bounce light even though it is not white or silver. The bounced light you get from a flag will be much softer and less obtrusive than bounced light from a direct source such as a white ceiling or wall. Position the flash so that it is pointed over people’s heads, and you’ll get a soft light with beautiful highlights and shadows.

12/365

##Using a black flag on an overcast day

On a sunny day, you can use the black flag to block off a little bit of light at the same time you’re bouncing light back in with the white reflector. On an overcast day, you can place the black flag on the opposite side of your subject as the sun (or wherever the sun would be if it wasn’t behind those clouds). You want the black flag to be close enough to block light that is coming from that side—this will help put it back that third dimension that is so often missing from images shot on flat, overcast days. If you’re not sure about the effectiveness of these techniques, I always recommend taking two test shots, one with and one without the modifier so you can see exactly what’s happening to your subject’s face when you add the black flag.

##Conclusion

Think of your black flag as a portable shadow. You can use it any time you need to add a little bit of dimension to your scene, or when you need to block out the intensity of light from any sort of light source. You can use it to create compelling, three-dimensional-looking photographs by strategically positioning it in such a way that it darkens at the background or adds shadow in places where it would have otherwise been difficult to achieve. Remember when you’re traveling with your black flag to also travel with a reflector, because there may be situations where you want to add a little extra light at the same time as you’re removing it from other parts of the subject. But whatever you do, don’t just a stash that black flag in the back of your reflector kit and pretend it’s not there. You can really achieve great results with the use of a black flag, just so long as you understand how to use and position it.

##Summary:

1. When to use a black flag
– On an overcast day
– To create higher contrast
– To separate subject from background
– To block light or prevent lens flare
2. Using a black flag with flash
– Wrap black foam around your flash
– Use it to bounce light
3. Using a black flag when it’s overcast
– Place it opposite the light source

Why Does ISO Impact Dynamic Range?

Filed in ISO, Tips by on May 25, 2017 0 Comments
Why Does ISO Impact Dynamic Range?

Most photographers avoid using high ISOs in certain situations—when shooting macro images, or landscapes, for example. But if you ask the average photographer why she avoids those higher ISOs, you’ll probably get a fairly limited reply. “Noise,” or more generally speaking, “quality” are the reasons most people will give for avoiding high ISOs, but did you know that there’s more to quality than just noise?
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The Final Dash

Filed in Blog by on May 20, 2017 26 Comments
The Final Dash

June will be the final month of topics for the Photography Dash.

Around a month ago, I made the heartbreaking, but necessary, decision to close the Dash. The number of participants has decreased over recent times – enough that the income no longer covers my fixed costs (like servers and hiring pro photographers). The Dash is now costing me money each month to run.

I know there are some people for whom The Dash is very useful, which makes shutting it down a really hard decision. I certainly haven’t taken it lightly, and I am truly personally sorry to be discontinuing The Dash when it is still used by people.

[Update: The DashInsider community will continue. Read to the end of this message]
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Shoot Fabulous Photos Even on a Cloudy Day

Shoot Fabulous Photos Even on a Cloudy Day

Depending on who you ask, cloudy days are either an awesome time to take photos, or they are a terrible time to take photos. So which one is it? Read on to find out. Continue Reading »

How to photograph the weather

How to photograph the weather

When you read this article’s title, you probably thought it was just going to be another tutorial about photographing the rain, or the fog, or rainbows or snowstorms. But in this case, I am going to be talking about photographing the weather as an entity – because the weather isn’t just about the temperature or what falls from the sky, it’s also about how those things impact us and the world around us.
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