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Tag: Light

Beyond Snapshots (or, why do all those other photos look better than mine)

Filed in Tips by on July 31, 2014 1 Comment
Beyond Snapshots (or, why do all those other photos look better than mine)

There are two types of photos in this world. No, I don’t mean black and white vs. color. I don’t mean digital vs. film. I mean snapshots vs. works of art.

You have probably taken your share of snapshots. We all have. Snapshots are what happen when we whip out our iPhones to grab a picture of Kid A or Kid B holding that preschool graduation diploma or smearing spaghetti sauce all over his face. And don’t get me wrong, a snapshot of something you want to remember is better than no photo at all. But why settle for a mere snapshot when you can have a work of art instead?
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Ask David: What camera settings should I use on a sunny day?

Filed in Ask David, Tips by on July 25, 2014 0 Comments
Ask David: What camera settings should I use on a sunny day?

When you are photographing during the sunniest part of the day you are combating two major issues: The first is overexposure and the second is harsh shadows.

First, let’s tackle overexposure. Overexposure occurs when too much light gets into your camera and washes out your photo. To combat overexposure, it’s best to shoot in full manual mode because it will give you the most control. As you adjust each setting, keep an eye on your light meter. It’s going to give you a ballpark as you change your settings and will be your first indication if your shot is going be overexposed.
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Why Do Cloudy Day Photos Seem Flat?

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Why Do Cloudy Day Photos Seem Flat?

If you’re like most beginners in photography, taking photos on a cloudy day is almost often a challenge. It seems no matter how much you try and how often you hear well-meaning advice from professionals, the tips don’t seem to work. The photos you take almost always come out darn flat! What could be wrong?

First you’ll need to understand some fundamental aspects of lighting and their visual relationship to the subjects of the photos you take. Hopefully these will explain why cloudy day photos seem to be flat.
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Artful Architecture Photography

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Artful Architecture Photography

It seems like it ought to be easy to take photographs of buildings. After all, they don’t move, they don’t make faces, they don’t want you to wait a second while they primp their hair and they don’t have public tantrums because you’re taking too long. Yes, it’s true, I spend way too much time taking photographs of children.

Unfortunately it’s not as easy to take photographs of architecture as it really seems like it should be. Sure, the whole no-tantrum thing is a huge plus, but a stationary object is not automatically easy to shoot just because it’s stationary. It’s deceptive, though, to the average photographer – because what could be simpler than raising your camera, framing your subject and clicking the button? Well you can answer this question yourself by going to Google images and doing a quick search for “Washington Monument.” How many photos do you see in the search results? How many of them are taken from the exact same angle? How many of them look exactly like a hundred other images of the Washington Monument?
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What is Light Painting?

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What is Light Painting?

Have you ever seen one of those wedding pictures where the happy newlyweds used sparklers to spell out their date? This is called light painting. Light painting is the use of a slow shutter speed and a light source to create or enhance a photograph. This process allows you to use light in a similar manner as you would a paint brush. Using your camera and a light source, you can create a completely new photograph or add emphasis to an established scene. Here’s all the light painting information you need to illuminate yourself.
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How to Photograph the Moon

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How to Photograph the Moon

OK, raise your hand if this has happened to you. You’re sitting around on your deck or maybe you’re inside doing something, and suddenly you notice through the trees or through your front window that the moon has just come up, and it’s HUGE. The scenery around the moon is picturesque–maybe it’s beautiful trees still lit by the last light from the sunset. Or maybe it’s the skyline of the city where you live. Wow, you think, that would make an awesome picture. You grab your DSLR and go outside to find the perfect vantage point. You frame your shot, take the picture, and viola! A tiny, featureless, glowing ball of overexposed light. Frustrated, you spot meter the moon and adjust your camera’s settings. Now you have a shot where you can actually see a couple of craters, but everything around the moon is pitch black.
Obviously, there’s a secret or two to getting great shots of the moon. I’m going to tell you what they are.
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Outstanding shots of the moon

Outstanding shots of the moon

Moon photography is one of those things that doesn’t always work out the way you’d hoped it would. In fact, unless you are well versed in the art of moon photography, it probably hardly ever works out the way you’d hoped. But take heart, it is possible to get a great moon shot with just a tripod and a 200mm or longer lens. To include the scenery, however, you may also need to be understand the art of Photoshopping–you’ll need to combine two shots (one of the moon and one of the landscape) to get a final image that is well exposed for both parts of the scene.
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9 Tips for Lifestyle Photography

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9 Tips for Lifestyle Photography

Often times, the photographs we feel the most connected to are simple. They freeze time, a moment as it is, instead of the contrived editorial work of fashion shoots and perfume ads. Babies sitting on a shiny hardwood floor, kids in an intense game of flag football, this season’s first snowfall. These photos are so easy to connect with because they are honest portrayals of life. This is called lifestyle photography. Lifestyle photography is a genre of photography which serves the purpose of documenting life honestly and artistically by capturing authentic, usually candid moments as they happen. What that actually translates to in regards to actual photographs depends on you the photographer and your artistic vision.
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How To Shoot Photos in the Dark

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How To Shoot Photos in the Dark

Light! It’s the single most important element in any photograph. Without light, you’ve got no image. Without the right light, you’ve got a bad image. In photography, light is everything.

And with that in mind, I’m going to tell you how to shoot photos in the dark.

But wait, didn’t you just say that light is everything? Yes, I did. And the reason that you can still take great photos in the dark is because – with the possible exception of a very deep cave or a crevasse at the bottom of the ocean – there’s really no such thing as “dark” here on Earth.
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Improving your Mountain Photography

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Improving your Mountain Photography

Perhaps nothing is more breathtaking than a mountain. Snowy peaks in the winter, flowery slopes in the summer, a mountain looks majestic no matter what the season. So why do some mountain photos look, well, un-majestic?

The trouble with mountains is precisely that they are majestic. We are used to feeling awed in the presence of a mountain – their size makes us feel small, overwhelmed and sometimes insignificant. The fresh air makes us feel invigorated. The smells make us feel like we’re a part of the landscape and in tune with the seasons. But a photograph of the mountains lacks all these external stimuli. Unless your photo is printed at, say, 24,000″x48,000″, your viewer isn’t going to have that feeling of being overwhelmed by size. And unless your image is scratch-n-sniff, you won’t be able to recreate any of the smells, either. And the fresh air, well, I suppose you could have your viewer look at the picture while standing in front of a mountain, but that would kind of defeat the purpose, wouldn’t it?

So how do you make a mountain photo look as majestic as the mountain itself? You have to know the tricks.
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How To Choose an Aperture to Control Depth of Field

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How To Choose an Aperture to Control Depth of Field

If you own a camera, you’ve probably at least heard the term “aperture.” But your understanding of what that means may depend a lot on what kind of camera you own, and how you use it. Today, I’ll explain exactly how the aperture setting affects your images, and what aperture settings to use in which situations.
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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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Soft Light in Portrait Photography

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Soft Light in Portrait Photography

There are lots of things to think about when taking a portrait. You have your camera settings to worry about, the composition of the photo, and last but certainly not least the lighting. The lighting and how you position your subject with respect to the light dramatically changes the look and quality of your pictures. In some cases you may, for artistic reasons, choose hard light that casts dramatic shadows. However, if you are taking more of a standard portrait and want a beautiful result, soft light is key. Read on for tips and tricks to using soft light both outdoors and in.
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Taking Awesome Group Photos

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Taking Awesome Group Photos

We can’t avoid taking pictures of groups. They are part of every company picnic, Sunday night family dinner, and school picture day. They are also the first pictures pulled out when everyone in hunched over the photo album, reminiscing about all the fond memories associated with family gatherings and nights out with friends. While they are a common part of our lives as people and artists, they can sometimes be stressful to pull off and difficult to do well. Here are seven tips to help you achieve the best possible results.
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16 Tips for Better Landscapes

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16 Tips for Better Landscapes

To the snap-shooter, nothing could be simpler than a landscape. Just find some pretty scenery, lift your camera and press the button. Viola! Landscape.

Now if you’re not a mere snap-shooter, you know the absolute folly of what I just said. While it’s true that it’s easy to shoot a landscape, it is also extremely difficult to capture one. What I mean of course is that anyone can lift a camera and press the button, and because landscapes don’t move it seems as if capturing one should be as easy as that. But you and I both know that recreating a beautiful, three-dimensional scene in a two dimensional medium is much more difficult than just hitting that shutter button. Let’s see how to do it…
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