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Archive for October, 2015

Taking Your Photos Beyond Snapshots

What’s the difference between a snapshot and a photograph? It’s all in the meaning you add to your photos.

Here’s a great example. This image is of a sad woman. That’s obvious from her facial expression and body posture.

But this photograph is powerful because it conveys ‘sadness’ in many ways other than the main subject:

  1. There is an empty ocean in the background, which conveys loneliness or sadness.
  2. The sea is choppy indicating turbulence, or unsafe. Both are emotions we feel when we’re sad.
  3. It’s a cloudy day – no sunshine (sunshine usually indicates happiness).

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How to Photograph the Zombie Apocalypse

How to Photograph the Zombie Apocalypse

You know it’s true. You are a human being, and that means you love a good zombie apocalypse.

OK, so maybe I exaggerate, maybe not everyone loves zombies. But there’s no question that as the Halloween season approaches, ghouls and goblins are on everyone’s mind. And for some reason, zombies are at the top of everyone’s list of favorite monsters. People love zombies, zombie movies, and seasonal zombie paraphernalia. I even have some friends who had a zombie wedding. So let’s have a little fun this month and take some pictures not just of those cute little trick-or-treaters, but of those decidedly less-cute zombies that are going to start wandering the streets in the days to come. Does that sound like a challenge? I hope so!
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Macro Photography Without a DSLR

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Macro Photography Without a DSLR

If you love those wonderful, close-up photos of flower stamens, insects and lizard skin, but you don’t own a DSLR, you may be under the mistaken impression that you’ll only ever be able to enjoy other people’s macro photos… you’ll never be able to shoot any of your own.

Lucky for you, nothing could be further from the truth. Macro photography is open to everyone, not just those fortunate enough to own an expensive DSLR along with an expensive macro lens. Most modern point-and-shoot cameras, in fact, have macro capabilities built right into them – but to get the best macro shots out of your point-and-shoot camera you have to know how a few tricks. Read on to find out what they are.
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How to Photograph (Moody) Teenagers

How to Photograph (Moody) Teenagers

One common thread I find in nearly all of my friends’ photo albums is this: lots of pictures of babies, toddlers and school-aged children. Not so many pictures of teenagers. It’s a very sad fact that as children grow, they start to like mom or dad’s camera less and less. Now, the camera on their smartphone is another story – I’m pretty sure there’s no such thing as a teenager who doesn’t take selfies. But family photos are a different problem altogether.

If your teenager ducks, hides, shields her face or otherwise retreats every time you lift the camera, you need some advice. Here are some ideas you can use to get great photos of your moody teenager.
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The Three Composition Rules That Work Best (and why)

The Three Composition Rules That Work Best (and why)

Photography rules, as you know, are really just guidelines. If you break the rules of thirds, for example, you will not be punished. The hand of the photography gods will not come out of the sky and take your DSLR away from you. You will not be shamed by the composition police (well, maybe in some circles you will, but you should probably just avoid those people). The rule of thirds – like all those other rules – is just there to give you an idea about how to compose a photograph. There’s no law that says you have to use it.

But the thing is, those rules exist because most of the time, they do work. So how can you look at any given scene and know for sure which one (if any) of the many compositional rules you should apply?
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How to Shoot Landscapes at Night

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How to Shoot Landscapes at Night

Landscape photography has a few basic rules that most people learn pretty early on. First, when you shoot a landscape, you need to use a small aperture. That small aperture makes it possible for you to keep the entire scene in focus, from foreground to background.

Another landscape photography rule you probably learned early on has to do with your ISO. Low ISOs, you’ve been told, are critical for landscape photography because your ultimate goal is to capture as much detail as possible. When you use higher ISOs, you can get problems like excess noise, limited total range, and muddy colors. So landscapes need to be shot at ISO 100 or, if your camera gives you the option, at ISOs even lower than that.

So what is a conscientious landscape photographer to do after the sun goes down?
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How to Photograph Raptors

How to Photograph Raptors

Just about everyone loves birds, but raptors inspire something else in us. They are powerful and majestic, they are fierce hunters and they can also be elusive. It’s uncommon to spot them and when we do, it can be uniquely thrilling. So it follows that it’s an even greater challenge to capture these amazing creatures with our cameras. Have you ever wished that you could get a National Geographic-quality shot of a hawk or an eagle? It’s possible for anyone with the right tools and the right knowledge. Read on to find out how.
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Taking the Yawn Out of Family Photos

Taking the Yawn Out of Family Photos

Here’s what I think a lot of parents do wrong when it comes to capturing photos of their children: they only take the camera out for special occasions. Birthday parties, family gatherings, trips to the county fair – these are all the usual reasons that people have for taking photos. But the problem with this approach is that those special occasions aren’t the only moments in your children’s lives that you’re going to want to remember.
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How to Photograph Fabulous Skies

How to Photograph Fabulous Skies

There are very few ultimate truths in photography, but here is one of them: when you include the sky in a photograph, it has to be good.

Now, that does not mean that every outdoor photograph needs a sky. It does mean that when you shoot a photo that includes the sky, you can’t let it be boring. But if you’ve been taking outdoor photos for long enough, you’ve probably noticed that there are certain times of day when you just can’t seem to help but capture boring skies. So what can you do to fix this?
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When to Shoot in Black and White

When to Shoot in Black and White

When you think about black and white photography – classic black and white photography – you probably first think about beautiful, small aperture landscapes with big, bold skies and lots of natural beauty. But the chances are pretty good that you have also seen plenty of beautiful landscapes that are not in black and white. Have you ever thought about why some photographers choose to shoot in color and why some photographers choose to shoot without? How can you arrive at the best decision when it comes to choosing black and white versus color?
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How to Photograph People at Work

How to Photograph People at Work

We all love a beautiful studio portrait. Who doesn’t want to see their loved one posed beautifully in front of a pristine backdrop, dressed in a smart suit or gorgeous dress with a perfect smile? This is how we tend to think of portraits, whether they are school portraits, family portraits, wedding portraits, or new baby portraits—they are all some version of the above, beautiful but staged.

There’s nothing wrong with that approach, of course (if there was then a whole lot of portrait photographers would be out of work). But there’s something that’s left out of those shots, some element that grounds that image in reality. We all know that our loved ones are beautiful, but what do those portraits really say about them as people? Sure, you could add a soccer ball or a guitar to one of those poses, but that’s really only scratching the surface of who they are deep down. To really capture the spirit of a person, try taking a photograph of him at work. Read on to find out how. Continue Reading »

How to Photograph Seascapes

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How to Photograph Seascapes

The ocean is a wonderful place. If you’re like most humans, you are attracted to the crashing waves, the wet sand and the calling birds. People find peace at the ocean, so it naturally follows that people also like to take photos of those crashing waves, wet sand and calling birds. And you can get some particularly marvelous photos by the sea—but there’s definitely an art to doing it well. Keep reading to find out how. Continue Reading »

How to Photograph the Stars (without the star trails)

Filed in Night, Tips by 7 Comments
How to Photograph the Stars (without the star trails)

Star trails are pretty cool, there’s no doubt about it. A well-executed star trail image gives the viewer a sense of infinity, of the universe on its eternal march through time. But sometimes you don’t necessarily want star trails in your photos. They’re cool, but they’re not what you see with your own eyes when you look up at the sky. Instead, you want to capture the beauty of the night sky as it really is. But here’s the problem: it’s dark, the stars move, and they move quickly. How can you capture them without a long exposure? Continue Reading »