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Color

Colors That Pop

Colors That Pop

Just about everyone who takes photos has heard the expression “colors that pop.” But what does that mean, exactly? What’s the difference between a color that “pops” and one that fizzles? Read on to find out. Continue Reading »

How to Avoid Burned-Out Highlights

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How to Avoid Burned-Out Highlights

With very few exceptions, every photograph needs to have shadows and highlights. Defined, a shadow is an area that contains true blacks, and a highlight is an area that contains true whites. It sounds simple, but you probably already know that there’s an art to capturing those highlights and shadows. You can have true blacks in your photograph, but that doesn’t mean that they’re good shadows. And you can have true whites in your photograph, too, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are good highlights. How do you know the difference? Read on to find out. Continue Reading »

Yes, You Can Shoot Good Photos in Terrible Light

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Yes, You Can Shoot Good Photos in Terrible Light

You probably have photographer friends who “tsk, tsk” you for heading out to take photos in the middle of the day. If not, you’ve probably at least read that you shouldn’t take photos during the middle of the day – you may have even gotten that idea from something you read on my site. And it is pretty decent advice for beginners, but it is not by any stretch of the imagination an unbreakable fact of photography. You can actually get good photos in bad light, contrary to popular belief. But how?
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The Five Values of Light

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The Five Values of Light

Before you became a photographer, there was exactly one sort of light. It was either on, or it was off. Sure, there were varying degrees of brightness – there was dim light and there was bright light, but it was all pretty much the same thing.

Then, when you learned how to use a camera, you discovered something new. There’s not just one kind of light. Light has color and direction. It can be hard or soft. It’s no longer just about how bright it is – now light has quality. And what’s more, that quality can make or break your photographs.
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Using Complementary Colors

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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White on white images

White on white images

If you’ve ever spent any time photographing products in a studio setting, you’ve probably tried capturing images of white objects against a white background. Done correctly, white on white can be really stunning. Done incorrectly, it’s still a valuable learning experience. That is, if you don’t throw that beautiful white egg across the room in frustration, splattering it all over your poor dog, wife/husband or that painting that you never really liked much anyway.
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How to Take Great Photos at Midday

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How to Take Great Photos at Midday

I’m pretty sure I’ve told you before that you ought to avoid taking photos in the middle of the day. I’m pretty sure. But just in case you missed that advice, I’ll say it again – mid-day is a lousy time to take photographs. If you have a choice, you should always opt for shooting during the magic hour – those golden moments just after sunrise or just before sunset, when the light is soft and warm. In fact, if you have a choice, shooting after dark can actually yield better results than typical mid-day shooting conditions.

But let’s be realistic. Sometimes you just don’t have the choice. Sometimes, your child has a soccer game at high-noon, or his best friend’s mom scheduled a lunchtime birthday party, or maybe it’s just because your lunch hour is the only available photography time-slot you have during the week. Sometimes you’re forced to make the best out of a bad situation. So how do you make the best out of this one?
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Cloudy Day? Perfect for photography!

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Cloudy Day? Perfect for photography!

Don’t let anyone tell you that you shouldn’t take photos on overcast days. Sure, cloudy days have their challenges, but they don’t call them “nature’s softbox” for nothing. Just follow a few simple tips and your cloudy day photographs will prove to those naysayers that overcast conditions really are perfect for photography.
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Beautiful Bokeh

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Beautiful Bokeh

Whether you realize it or not, you have seen bokeh plenty of times. It is there in any photograph with a shallow depth of field. In its simplest form, bokeh is just blur. That great portrait shot you take with the blurry background? The background is called bokeh. Whether the bokeh is “good” or “bad”, and if it adds to the artistry of the photo is a matter of opinion. There are several key factors in creating what many consider beautiful bokeh – those areas of pleasant, soft focus. Read on to learn about the “qualities” of bokeh, how to create it, and some creative composition techniques that utilize it.
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Using a Reflector to Soften Hard Light

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Using a Reflector to Soften Hard Light

You know all about the “golden hour”, that hour after sunrise and before sunset, when the light is beautiful and soft. Photographers dream of this light that flatters their subject and makes their work look like a million bucks. Now back to reality. What about that afternoon birthday party you booked, or your own child’s first steps on the beach at midday? There are always occasions when you are forced to shoot in less than ideal lighting situations. The harsh, midday light casts shadows and makes your job as a photographer more difficult, but you can still get great pictures even when it is bright outside. If you are doing a lot of portrait photography, just add a simple, relatively inexpensive tool to your kit – the reflector (and maybe a personal assistant to go with it)!
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Tips for Great Candlelight Photography

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Tips for Great Candlelight Photography

Want to create a romantic or dramatic mood in your next photo? Try candlelight as a lighting choice. Candle lit photos are absolutely beautiful when taken correctly. As this is a low light situation, there are some tricks to make sure your photos are correctly exposed. Read on for some tricks for taking great photos by candlelight.
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Using lighting style to create mood: High-key and low-key lighting

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Using lighting style to create mood: High-key and low-key lighting

Intermediate From reading my articles, I’m sure you now know all about light, range of tones, highlight and shadow, and how to make a beautifully-lit, perfectly balanced photo.

Now, I want you to temporarily forget it all! Today we’re going to mix it up a little.

Lighting does not always have to be perfectly balanced with a complete range of tones. Like color, different styles of lighting can produce different moods, and two of the most extreme examples of this can be found in high-key images and low-key images.
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Dealing with Difficult Lighting Situations

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Dealing with Difficult Lighting Situations

In the Photographer’s Perfect Paradise, the golden hour would last all day long. The light would forever be soft, your subjects would never squint and raccoon eyes would simply be markings on the face of a common North American procyonid.

But alas, we do not live in a Perfect Paradise. After all, we have to get up at dark-o-clock to take advantage of that elusive morning golden hour, and neither it nor the one in the afternoon lasts as long as we need them to. And the rest of the time, the light varies from occasionally splendid to just OK, to absolutely terrible. Can you hear those tiny violins? We photographers have it tough. Painters, they have it made. They can just paint the right light. We have to wait for it to come along. Or do we?
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Tips for using Natural Light

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Tips for using Natural Light

“Light makes photography. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography.”
-George Eastman

Photography is all about light. Unless you have a studio setting with lighting, for most photographers that means natural light. Your ability to observe and utilize light and adjust your subject and settings accordingly can make or break your pictures. Learning to “read” the light and use that knowledge to take beautiful pictures is truly an art that can takes years to master, but there are some simple lighting tips that even beginners can follow to improve their photos.
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Incident vs Reflected light and which type gives you better photos

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Incident vs Reflected light and which type gives you better photos

Advanced Successful photography has everything to do with understanding light. Light comes from many different sources ranging from natural, such as the sun, and forced, such as flashes and studio and other indoor lighting. By understanding light and its influence on your images, you can better control the outcome of your photo shoots.

There are two essential forms of light: Incident and Reflective. They work both together to create light and apart in their own separate ways. Understanding the difference between the two is a big start to mastering light.
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