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Archive for March, 2013

Finding Inspiration

Finding Inspiration

It’s called “creative block”, and it’s an ugly beast. All artists complain of it at some point in their lives, even great ones. It can happen to you when you’re immersed in the doldrums of an uninteresting routine, or it can happen to you when you’re standing in the Mongolian grasslands during the Festival of Naadam. Creative block doesn’t discriminate, so you need to have an arsenal of tools at hand to fend it off when it decides to make you its next victim.

If you’ve ever stood in one place with your camera hanging around your neck and just could not for the life of you find a photo anywhere in your environment, you’re probably suffering from creative block on at least some level. The key to beating it is to start fighting it as soon as you recognize it, because otherwise it can keep you in empty memory cards for weeks. Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do. If you use these tips and exercises, you’ll not only banish creative block, you may also come up with some really great photos that you probably would never have thought of if you hadn’t had a bout of creative block. Take that, ugly beast.
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Ask David: When Do I Use the Different Reflector Colors?

Ask David: When Do I Use the Different Reflector Colors?

If only you could control the weather. Whip up a little wind to make your model’s hair move. Conjure up a cloud or two to diffuse that awful direct sunlight. Make the rain that’s ruining your photo shoot go away until tomorrow.

Well, there really isn’t much you can do to stop the rain or create wind in the middle of a wheat field, short of packing a circus tent, a fan and a gas generator in your camera bag. But you can change the light, even on one of those dreadfully bright afternoons. And it’s easier than you might think: just bring along an inexpensive set of reflectors (and, if you can, someone to help you position them, though in a pinch you can use a tripod or just figure out creative ways to prop them up).
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How to Capture Emotion in Portrait Photography

How to Capture Emotion in Portrait Photography

There’s a saying that there are only two emotions, love and fear. But, under those umbrella emotions are many definitive ones that express their own level of fear or love. For most people, it would seem that capturing an emotion would be easy; but, as a photographer, you probably already know otherwise.

Unless you’re a wedding photographer, where emotions are running high, and therefore are all over people’s faces, it’s not so easy to capture emotion. When they see a camera, people tend to freeze like deer in the headlights or they over react with big, cheesy grins or scrunched faces. This makes capturing raw emotion a bit tricky for any photographer. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, you just have to have some tricks up your lens hood.
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The Three Benefits of Using a Tripod

Filed in Tips, Tripod by 1 Comment
The Three Benefits of Using a Tripod

One thing that seems to separate the photographer pros from the amateurs is gear. If you see a photographer on the street with multiple lenses, bags, and cameras, you’d likely assume him or her to be a serious hobbyist or a professional. One of those pieces of equipment that usually stands the pro apart from the beginner is a tripod. Why? Because if it’s perceived as cumbersome or additional work, must amateurs won’t bother with it. Kind of like the difference between those who get out of their cars to take a photo versus those who just roll down the window!

If you’ve looked for a tripod, you know that they come in many sizes, but they all serve one main purpose, and that’s to add stability to ensure a sharp image. I’ll give you three good reasons you should separate yourselves from the amateurs and take the time to set up a tripod. The few seconds to minutes that it takes could make the difference between capturing a great image versus pushing delete, delete, delete…
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Shooting in the Snow

Shooting in the Snow

There’s nothing like a snowy day to inspire your inner photographer. Snow-capped peaks, the sunlight reflecting off ice crystals, kids throwing snowballs at each other – almost everything about the snow begs for photographs. But wait! You can’t just grab your camera and start shooting. Snow creates tricky conditions for photography, and if your photos are going to adequately capture the natural beauty and winter fun of the day, you need to be armed with more than just your camera and a pair of fingerless gloves.
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5 Tips for Photographing Extreme Sports

Filed in Action, Tips by 1 Comment
5 Tips for Photographing Extreme Sports

Whether they’re coming off a ramp made of snow or concrete or hanging at hundreds of feet in the air, extreme sport athletes are fun to watch. Flying through the air, twirling, or landing the stunt, the crowds are engaged and photographers are clicking away hoping to catch that great shot for their portfolio. Whether you’ve tried to capture these action seeking subjects before or not, these tips on how to do it are sure to inform you; but at the very least I hope to inspire you to get out there and try it.
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Why You Should Own an External Flash

Filed in Flash, Tips by 2 Comments
Why You Should Own an External Flash

Almost every modern camera comes with an on-board flash, even the higher-end DSLRs. You may wonder why, since almost every modern photo taken with an onboard flash is ugly: blown out highlights, red eye, harsh shadows and that characteristic look that screams “flash photo!” So why do manufacturers insist on including an onboard flash on cameras that are generally marketed to people who should know better? Let’s find out…
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Taking Landscape Photos at Night

Taking Landscape Photos at Night

When you think about your favorite landscape photos, the images that come to mind are probably classic shots of forests, mountains and natural rock formations. And they are probably daytime images, too, with an occasional sunset and sunrise thrown in for good measure.

We don’t really see a lot of landscape images shot at night, which is actually a bit surprising when you think about it. Because nighttime landscapes can be quite stunning, if you know the right tricks.
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Three Photography Basics

Three Photography Basics

In the days before point and shoot cameras – back when SLR cameras didn’t have any automatic features at all, everyone who wanted to take photographs had to understand the basic principles of exposure. Film was expensive and you just couldn’t afford to waste a shot on a guess, so you had to really understand how your camera functioned and what settings you needed to use to ensure a correct exposure.

Today we have the great luxury of the “auto” setting, and because of that a lot of us have gotten lazy. So lazy, in fact, that there are some people who love photography, own DSLRs and consider themselves to be photographers on at least some level that still don’t understand those very basic principles of exposure. And for those of us who do have a basic understanding, a quick review is never a bad thing. Ready?
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Take Interesting Photos In Boring Places

Take Interesting Photos In Boring Places

This week I received a letter from a reader who asks a very poignant question. Olivia Polerowicz wants to know:

“I was wondering how to take good pictures in not so interesting places. The thing is, I live in a not particularly interesting place and so my photos kinda show it. I have a problem with trying to find the right subject and how to make it interesting. I have the right camera and everything. I was wondering if you could help?”

Sure, I’m happy to help!
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Taking Creative Couples Portraits

Taking Creative Couples Portraits

If you use social media, the chances are pretty good that you’ve seen at least one of the many photo montages circulating the Internet entitled “bad wedding photos“, “awkward couples photos” or some variation thereof. If not, just Google it, because some of those images are pretty hilarious.

Of course, there aren’t too many photographers who are so unsuited for their art that they would actually take truly awful couples photos under the auspices of professional photography. But there’s a fine line between bad couples photos and good couples photos, and if you regularly shoot these types of images it’s worth knowing the difference.
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Why You Don’t Need More Megapixels. Really.

Why You Don’t Need More Megapixels. Really.

Everyone knows that more is better. Eight gigabytes is better than four. 550 horsepower is better than 500. Five blades are better than four. And 12 megapixels are better than eight. Right? That is without a doubt what we have all been indoctrinated to believe, especially when it comes to technology. More is better. And sometimes it’s true. But before you take on blind faith the idea that a higher megapixel camera is automatically superior to the one you already own, it’s a good idea to look past the marketing at the facts.
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Improve Your Photography with Unusual Photographs

Improve Your Photography with Unusual Photographs

If I had to guess, I would say that 99 out of 100 hobby photographers never bend their legs. It’s not so hard to see why – human beings view the world mostly from one or two perspectives: standing up and sitting down. Occasionally we will also lie down in a place other than our beds or the sofa, but for the most part everything we see comes to us at a perspective of somewhere between five and six feet off the ground.

So most photographers don’t think about finding other angles, because the angle from which we view the world most of the time is so familiar and comfortable. But the sad truth is, it’s also boring. When you walk past that favorite city landmark and snap a photo of it, the chances are really good that your photo will look exactly like the last thousand photos that the last thousand photographers took of that same landmark–unless you spent some time thinking about your subject and how you could capture it in a unique way.
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Photographing Mushrooms

Filed in Macro, Tips by 5 Comments
Photographing Mushrooms

“Fungal photography.” That’s like viral photography, right? Only slower moving and … itchier. Actually, no. “Fungal photography” is the quite literal term used to describe what for many people is a passion – photographing mushrooms. You won’t find much glamour in this little corner of the photography world. Mushroom photography can be dirty – like a growing in dung kind of dirty – and since mushrooms prefer damp, cool places seeking them out can sometimes be a miserable endeavor. But viewed through a camera lens when the light is just right, a mushroom can have beauty that goes far beyond those still-dirty button mushrooms and portobellos you find in your supermarket. Finding and shooting mushrooms can be a great challenge both physically and artistically, which, of course, is why you should do it.
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Taking Great Photos at the County Fair

Taking Great Photos at the County Fair

Funnel cakes, ferris wheels and fun houses – what could be better than a county fair? With all those sights and lights, carnival photos should almost take themselves. Except that they usually don’t. So why is it so easy to capture blurry, chaotic and generally uninteresting shots at a carnival, and so hard to bring home photos that wow?

Carnival photography is tricky for a couple of reasons, and once you can pinpoint why your photos don’t have that wow-factor, you’ll be able to avoid those ever-present shooting conditions that create uninteresting photos even in that most interesting of settings.
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