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Portrait of Two People: Weekly Photography Challenge

Fri, 2012-09-21 11:33

This week your photographic challenge is to take and share a portrait of two people.

This is a followup to our recent post – how to take creative couples portraits – although you’re more than welcome to share two people that are not a ‘couple’ as such if you wish.

It could be a couple but it could also be two siblings, a parent and child, two workmates, two strangers… whatever you like.

You’re welcome to take a posed portrait or something less formal or even a candid one. Really it’s up to you!

Once you’ve taken and selected the ‘ZOOM’ image that you’d like to share – upload it to your favourite photo sharing site or blog and either share a link to it or – embed them in the comments using our embed tool to do so.

If you tag your photos on Flickr, Instagram, Twitter or other sites with Tagging tag them as #DPSCOUPLE to help others find them. Linking back to this page might also help others know what you’re doing so that they can share in the fun.

Also – don’t forget to check out some of the great shots posted in last weeks challenge – Zoom challenge where there were some great shots submitted.

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

Portrait of Two People: Weekly Photography Challenge

How to Photograph Fire

Fri, 2012-09-21 07:34

A Guest Post by Jon Beard

1/320 f/8 ISO1000 105mm

Fire is an interesting thing. Watch people around a campfire and it’s easy to see the spell it can cast on us. We have such a deep and instinctive relationship with it, there’s no wonder why including flame in a photo can have such an impact. In this write-up I hope to give you some examples, some understanding of how they’re done, and some direction toward creating your own fire shots.

Safety First

1/15 f/16 ISO200 105mm

In the wise words of Frankenstein’s monster, “Fire bad!” The heat and smoke can damage your equipment, the flame can quickly get out of control and burn things you don’t want burned, and most importantly, fire can flat out kill you. Plenty of great fire info can be found at but here are some basic safety tips you should already know (and follow!):

  • Think ahead and plan your shoot from beginning to end.
  • Have a plan for putting the fire out should it get loose.
  • Do not work near anything that you do not want on fire as well.
  • Work in a well-ventilated area.
  • Be sure you’re working somewhere that if the worst happens, the worst isn’t all that bad.
  • And if the grandmothers in the area where I grew up can be believed: Don’t play with matches or you’ll wet the bed.

Well, folks… Break out the bed liners and a grab a change of clothes because here we go!

You’ll find fire used in three main ways in a photo. It can be the primary subject, an accentuating element, or the primary light source. Typically, you’ll have a combination of the three, but understanding them individually is the best way to start.

Fire as the Subject

With these shots, the main draw and focus is on the flame (or effects of it) and the detail that can be shown within it.

In most cases you’ll want to use a fast enough shutter speed to freeze motion in order to see the detail in the flame. As always, “fast enough” is relative to what you’re shooting, but a good starting point is around 1/250 or faster. As your shutter speeds increase you’ll need to use wider apertures and higher ISOs.

1/2000 f/5.6 ISO2000 105mm

1/250 f/13 ISO400 105mm

Sometimes, the more interesting detail will be in what the fire emits – the path sparks take when leaving a jumping jack or a sparkler, for example. Slower shutter speeds are the key to capturing this kind of photo.

1.6” f/40 ISO100 105mm

38” f/36 ISO100 105mm

Fire as an Accent

In this type of shot the flame is one element of larger scene. It can be the most difficult kind to pull off because of the additional lighting needed to show the flame while still seeing the surroundings. The key here is to expose for the flame and then add light to the rest of the scene. If you’re not able to control the lighting situation then you’ll need to look for shooting angles where you can put the flame against a background that will let it stand out. A darker, solid background is preferable, but anything that can offer some contrast should work.

1/2500 f/5.6 ISO1250 110mm

1/60 f/11 ISO1000 105mm

1/250 f/7.1 ISO200 105mm

30” f/8 ISO640 15mm

Fire as the Primary Light Source

Fire can make a wonderful light source with its soft shadows and warm color. Longer shutter speeds, wider apertures, and higher ISOs are often the right choice for campfire situations. Medium to shorter shutter speeds can be used as you get closer to the fire and have more and stronger light falling on your subject.

When working with the narrower depth of field that comes along with a wider aperture, try setting your focus on objects that have hard contrast edges (like silhouettes of stationary objects) rather than what you may consider the main subject. This can give you an overall sharper looking image since the shifting fire light will blur edges and soften shadows of the objects it illuminates.

25” f/4.5 ISO3200 14mm

30” f/8 ISO200 20mm

1/10 f/3.5 ISO200 50mm

1/100 f/4 ISO800 50mm

Flame Color

1/60 f/8 ISO800 500mm

Take a close look at a flame and you’ll see multiple colors, gradients, and intensities so it should go without saying that the color of a flame is a complex topic. It’s dependent on temperature, fuel-type, how much oxygen there is and how well it’s mixed with the fuel, along with many other factors. With that said, when it comes to photographing fire, a few simple ideas should help you control the color of your flame.

In fire photography, the most influential factor in the color of the flame will be the fuel being burned. Wood, paper, clothing, or anything else that puts off a lot of unburned particles (smoke) will probably burn yellowish-orange. Butanes lighters, propanes torches, liquids with high alcohol content, or other fuels that can more easily mix with the available oxygen before burning will burn more on the bluish side. There are additives (pyrotechnic colorants to be precise) you can buy to add to your fire to change the color of the flame. I found some pre-packaged powders at my local camping store designed to be thrown onto a campfire and they worked pretty well. Or, if you’re into chemistry, this wiki article describes which compounds can be used to create which colors:

Of course, the easiest way to get control of your flame color is to add the desired color in post.

1/2500 f/8 ISO200 105mm

Showing Smoke

1/250 f/8 ISO200 105mm

Smoke can add an interesting element to your photo, but unless you’re taking steps to make sure it’s in there, you’ll be lucky to see it. Here are three things you can do to better show it off:

  • Be certain your fire is making smoke. Fuels that burn efficiently (like some gas torches and alcohols) may not emit much. Using inefficient fuels like wood or paper will maximize your smoke output.
  • Light the smoke. A light source shining into the smoke can solidify those lines and cause them to stand out more.
  • Use a fast enough shutter speed to freeze the smoke trails. Slower shutters will make the smoke appear like haze rather than wisps.
An Easy Place to Start

Left: 1/8 f/8 ISO800 50mm --- Center: 4” f/8 ISO800 50mm --- Right: 1/8 f/8 ISO800 50mm + Flash

A candle is a simple and relatively safe way to learn about flame photography. As practice, see if you can accomplish the three primary types of fire shots we’ve covered – as the subject, an accent, and a light source. Try shooting a similar series to what I have above and make notes of what settings it takes to freeze the flame and what it takes to illuminate a subject sitting next to the candle. Then, use an artificial light source and take a shot where you can see both the flame in detail along with the well exposed subject next to it.

I always have a great time adding fire to my photos and I hope I’ve given you a good start on making your own. I’d love to hear from you and see some of the creative ways you’ve used fire in your own photography!

The images in this write-up and other fire related images can be seen in a Flickr set at

Jon Beard is an adventurer from the mountains of southwestern Virginia. He organizes the regional photo club, leads photography workshops and guided shoots, and has a passion for shooting in the dark. Photos, workshop dates, and more at

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

How to Photograph Fire

Benefit From How You See The World

Thu, 2012-09-20 11:47

A Guest Post by Ben Evans from

Discover The Value Of Your Own Mind For Better Composition in Photography

Can you accurately picture your own face without looking in a mirror? How about remembering a loved one? Do photographs show us the same pictures we hold dearly in our mind? Can they even do so at all?

These questions are rhetorical; the answer is, ‘no.’ But why not?

You’ve probably had the experience of being unable to express the magnificence of a scene in a photograph no matter which camera you use or whatever techniques you try.

In many cases, learning new techniques helps us. Sunsets not looking fiery orange and red in the pictures? Set your white balance to the ‘Sunny’ preset. Unsightly shadows at midday? Move your subject to the open shade. But sometimes we need to go deeper and understand what’s going on.

I had a breakthrough a couple of days ago teaching photography to a private client in Barcelona. It’s changed the way I photograph, and I’m going to share it with you in this article.

We get about 80% of our impressions about the world through our eyes. Since they’re open for about 18 hours a day, that’s a lot of information coming in!

So much in fact that the mind has to filter out most of what our eyes look at. This job is done by the Reticular Activating System, or RAS.

I’m going to take enormous liberties with the actual biology of the RAS. Sorry scientists; I’m claiming artistic licence

How Your Mind Sees The World

Your RAS has three three main methods to filter what your eyes see to create your uniquely subjective view of the world:

1. Generalising

This is very common, and gets more effective with age. For example, we see many strangers every day but rarely take a moment to see them as individuals; they are just a part of the crowd. This process of generalisation is why children can stare completely entranced by something that an adult will walk past without a second (or first!) glance.

2. Highlighting

Have you ever noticed how if you’re watching a really good film you might not notice anything else in the cinema for hours? Or if you’re having a deep conversation with someone you really care about everything else apart from them seems to disappear? The mind is great at focussing our attention on something that’s important to us and making it really stand out. A pilot friend of mine compares this to the way that radio traffic that mentions his aircraft seems to stand out vibrantly from the other chatter.

3. Deleting

Of course with so much information flooding in through the eyes and only a limited capacity to process it, a large amount of what we see is simply cut out before it reaches our conscious awareness. If you’re in the car or on a train for example, a lot of the scenery that flashes past is lost. Looking at the world, we tend to ignore a lot of the clutter that surrounds us, especially if it has no obvious value or lacks contrast.

How does the mind choose what to focus on and what to pass by? Well a lot depends on our beliefs and past experiences.

I have a friend who believes that the world is an amazing place and everyone is inherently good. His Reticular Activating System concentrates on the positives and ignores the negatives.

His perception of the world is quite different from a pessimist’s. It is almost as if he doesn’t see bad reactions; if a waitress is rude to him, he either won’t notice or just assumes she’s having a hard day.

Psychologists call this Confirmation Bias; we tend to see what agrees with our preconceptions and disregard anything that challenges them.

What can we learn from this? Two things. Firstly, beliefs and experiences change how you see the world. This is the secret to the elusive ‘artistic eye’, and is how we can effectively teach ‘Art’ with Holistic Photography.

Secondly, and what we’re focussing on here, is how the RAS changes our perception of the world in a way that we can learn from and apply to our photography.

On my courses, I teach that the most important thing in photography is to have clear idea of what you’re photographing.

This may be concrete; in which you’re trying to preserve a specific object or a scene. Or it might be more abstract, when you want to express a thought or feeling.

What you look for is what you will see. If I’m driving then signposts will stand out to me. But if I’m photographing a picturesque town, they’ll probably fade into the background.

The camera is far more objective. It provides a level of realism that previously would have been unimaginable, but it lacks an RAS to highlight our intended subject and filter out distractions.

To reach another level in our photography, we can consciously act as the camera’s RAS. This means filtering the world so that our subject stands out in the photograph.

How do we do this? By using the same three principles that the RAS uses to filter information;

1. Generalising

Understand what you want your photograph to communicate. Use symbols. People will see a policeman, not the individual wearing the uniform. They can see warm colours and assume that it’s a warm day. Try and make the elements in your photograph stand for something. And keep it simple. Gestalt aesthetics notices several effects we can use; like objects that are close together seem to be a group, or a few objects in a row can create a line.

2. Highlighting

One of the most common flaws I see in photographs is no clear subject. It might be somewhere in the frame, but it just doesn’t stand out in the final photograph. Fortunately, there are several tricks in aesthetics that we can use to draw attention to our intended subject.

a. The first trick takes advantage of the RAS’ tendency to notice Contrast. Colour Contrast may have helped our ancestors avoid tigers in the jungle once, but now it’s the theoretical basis for including someone wearing red in a green landscape. Or photographing yellow flowers against a blue background.

You can also create Tonal Contrast; have your subject in the direct sunlight against a shaded background or vice versa; make sure to adjust your exposure so your subject looks good – don’t worry if the background is completely black or white.

b. Fill the frame. It’s a very common piece of advice, but why does it work? Simply, if your subject fills the frame then it will dominate the picture. It’s often better to use a wide-angle lens and get closer because the perspective will make the viewer seem more engaged with the scene.

3. Deleting

You may have noticed that a good photograph can be completely ruined by anything that distracts from the subject. Again, contrast matters; so white vans in an otherwise dark background or areas of bright sky can distract your viewer’s attention.

a. I grew up in the English countryside and one of my earliest memories was my mother picking up litter that people had dropped. No-one wants a crisp packet in a landscape nor a plastic bottle on a monument. Sure, you can Photoshop them out, but airbrushing can take time to get right. If there is litter in your scene, put it in the bin; you’ll be doing everyone a favour.

b. Suppose that the distraction is a crowd or a car – what then? Well if the photograph is worth it, you can wait until they move or come back later. But if time is a factor, you can hide potential distractions behind something else; or just adjust your position until they’re outside the frame.

So that’s it! Three things to practice that will improve your photography. The best way to get the most out of them is to focus on each one for a few days so that your mind becomes used to performing them. Let me know how you get on.

Ben teaches photography classes in Barcelona with and keeps a photoblog of ‘fine art street’ photos of Barcelona at He photographs internationally with Ben is working on two photography teaching projects, Better Than 90 Percent and Holistic Photography. He shoots Nikon, Hasselblad, Apple (iPad 3) and those little throwaway waterproof film cameras with the plastic lenses.

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

Benefit From How You See The World

Save 30% on Jared Polin’s Top Quality Photography Training

Thu, 2012-09-20 06:33

People often mention to me that they feel as though they’re not making the most from their dSLR cameras. They know their camera has potential for taking amazing shots but are not quite sure how get control over it.

Our Photo Nuts series of eBooks are in part designed to help change that, however I realise that eBooks are not a format everyone enjoys.  This week I came across a product that just might help you unlock the power of your dSLR – particularly if videos are more your thing.  

Many regular dPS readers will know Jared Polin (AKA FroKnowsPhoto… the guy who always wears the ‘I Shoot RAW’ tshirts) because we’ve featured his videos here on the site before. We featuring him because the comments we get from readers are that they not only learn a lot from him but that he teaches in a fun and relatable way.

Jared has just released a 3-hour video guide designed specifically to help you get out of auto mode. I’ve spent some time going through it in the last few days and it is really good.

Best of all – as a launch special Jared is currently offering a 30% discount on it.

Right now you can own this course for just $67 (regular price is $97).  The course is instantly downloadable once you order and it’s really good (both content but also the quality of the video).

Check it out here.

Jared’s put together a short video (below) to let you know more about the course. Or you can skip the video and head over to FroKnowsPhoto and grab yourself a copy.

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

Save 30% on Jared Polin’s Top Quality Photography Training

Simple Fill Flash Tips

Wed, 2012-09-19 11:35

A Guest Post by Mia Johnstone.

Learning some very simple fill flash tips will help elevate the quality of your photographs. This tutorial will teach you to fill in shadows and help create more professional looking portraits. These tips can be applied to shooting indoors with window light and can also be great for shooting outdoors in open shade (no direct sunlight).

You need:

  • A DSLR camera
  • Basic working knowledge of manual mode
  • An off camera flash with variable light output (you can get basic ones for $100)
  • An optional filter for your flash (softens light).

1. Have your model sit facing a window. Photographer should have the window to their back. See photo below. The whole point to fill flash is that it’s just ‘fill’. You will need a main light source. Natural light is free and readily available. See below how we set up the shot.

2. Depending on how strong the window lighting is, your ISO should be at around 100 or 200. I usually shoot at an aperture of 3 or 3.5. Then set your shutter speed appropriately, but not faster than 1/250. My settings=ISO 100, aperture 3.5, 1/125 speed.

3. Set your flash to manual mode and your variable light output to 1/34. If you are using a filter on your flash, your flash head should be at a 45 degree angle, if possible. Take a test shot. If I am only a few feet away from my subject, this is usually too bright. I love 1/64 or 1/128 light output from a flash. It gives that extra splash of light to help fill in the shadows.

Metered for natural light. Added fill flash at 1/64 power. A balanced image.

No flash. Dark shadows around nose and eye.

flash at 1/32 power. A little too bright

Flash at 1/32 power. A little too bright.

Taking a good portrait is very simple. The portrait above with no flash isn’t a bad image. But when you add some flash, it gives the model and photo a whole new dimension. You can use these simple tips when you take wedding photographs, at the beach on cloudy days, or when you just want to give your photos some extra life.

Mia Johnstone is a professional photographer in Los Angeles. Read about her love of photography at

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

Simple Fill Flash Tips

Photographing Buildings [Composition Tips]

Tue, 2012-09-18 07:21

A Guest Post by Michael Toye

I am a firm believer, at least with photography, that what you get back is directly related to the effort you put in. As with all activities, it’s certainly not linear and I am the first to admit that you can tip the scale in your favor to achieve some great architectural images armed with only a few basic techniques.

For me, I think the allure of shooting buildings started as a tourist. We all do it, albeit some with less style and grace than others – yes you leaning tower of Pisa holder up’ers, I am talking about you! So there you are, standing in front of an awesome and aged icon of a building and with little thought other than fitting the structure into the LCD’s frame, you snap away. I know I did. The problem is that the hastily captured image is more than likely just going to be just that, a snap.

I have a mental checklist i go through when i pass a building that catches my eye, so the following techniques apply to all aspects of photography really but, specifically for architecture, you will see significant improvement.


Most of the time this question of why you are going to take a picture or rather what caught your attention will be obvious. It’s pretty simple when your building is freakishly tall, like Canary Wharf Tower in London, or a pier that stretches to the horizon which, in the UK, would be located in Southend. I know you all are thinking this is a little bit redundant, but far from it. Consciously visualizing what you thought interesting about this particular building will help you work out how to compose a shot to capitalize on that feature.

Features aside, there are a couple of basic errors to avoid; keep horizons and horizontals level, verticals vertical and ensure the image is sharp. You might disregard some or all of these, but always initially frame with these in mind because no image looks more unprofessional than a wonky or blurry one!

The most used compositional styles employed by architectural photographers will be one of the following.

Leading Lines

Perspective and depth are the usual drivers for leading lines, but the more obvious definition is a scene that directs the viewer’s gaze along an intended path. The elements in the image above – escalator, grooves in the roof and wall and the ‘ladder‘ in the distance – all lead your eyes up and toward the exit. The curvature of the ‘grille‘ in the roof serves as the final area of focus. My intention with this image was for the viewer to participate in a small journey. I also chose this perspective, with the distorted view of the escalator, to provide the viewer a sense of scale; especially relevant as most will not have visited this particularly grand London Underground station.

Dominant Facias

This building is pretty ugly and it is closely surrounded by other non complimentary buildings… apart from this elaborate design on the front of Moorfield’s Eye Hospital. There is so much glass in the balcony and facia, the light play is amazing. Another compositional element that everyone bangs on about, and quite rightly, Rule of Thirds; the invisible tic tac toe shaped grid where you place objects of focus along its lines and intersections. Well it works! You should always consider it when framing a scene, even if you decide otherwise.

Specific Detail(s)

I love spiral staircases. They are an awesome detail in buildings and a contrast to the usual straight lines and angles found in architectural images. This one is in Queen’s House in London. There’s very little context here apart from the stair case itself. You have no idea where it is or what the rest of the building might look like.

The Contextual Environment

These doorways connect adjoining rooms in a family dormitory. This building, amongst others, is to be found in Kolmanskop, Namibia. A long since abandoned town that served the families and workers at the local diamond mine. The sands of the Namib desert have invaded all of these houses and, along with the peeling wallpaper, frames, and faded walls contribute to a real sense of their abandonment.


I chose this straight down the line composition, at London’s Natural History Museum, to give a real sense of depth. The power of the image is in the symmetry and off horizontals and verticals would have a serious impact.

Oh yes, and remember to look up!

Michael Toye is a professional photographer, based east of London in the UK, specialising in architecture and landscape. You can follow Michael’s images on his blog or contact him on Facebook.

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

Photographing Buildings [Composition Tips]

Grab a Copy of our ‘iPhone Photography’ eBook and Go in the Draw to WIN an iPhone 5

Tue, 2012-09-18 06:09

Three weeks ago dPS launched our brand new iPhone Photography eBook – a resource to help those of you who use iPhones to create beautiful images with the camera they always have with them.

Since then we’ve seen a lot of positive reviews of the eBook coming in (see below) and have also seen Apple announce the new iPhone 5.

Having launched a iPhone Photography eBook just a couple of weeks before Apple announced the iPhone 5 we were certainly a little nervous about what changes the new phone might have but we’re pleased to announce that our eBook is completely compatible with the new iPhone.

To celebrate the success of the new eBook (and the launch of the new iPhone) we thought it might be fun to giveaway an iPhone 5 to one buyer of the eBook. So today I’m announcing a little competition.

Buy iPhone Photography before 2 October and you’ll not only get it at 25% discount but also will go into the draw to win a 16GB iPhone 5 (you can choose the colour).

What better way to improve your iPhone Photography than with a new phone?!

How to Win a Brand New iPhone 5

All you need to do to enter is purchase iPhone Photography before midnight on 2 October (US Eastern time) and you’re in the running to win.

If you’re already a proud owner this eBook you’re already in the draw and don’t need to do anything else to enter.

This competition is open to anyone anywhere in the world – we’ll get the iPhone shipped to you internationally or if it’s not yet available in your country will arrange a substitute prize to your liking to the value of $649 USD.

Here’s the Deal in a Nutshell
  • 25% off iPhone Photography eBook – worth $19.99 but until 2 October just $14.99.
  • an entry into the iPhone 5 giveaway

… and let’s not forget the lessons in the eBook which will teach you how to take beautiful images with your iPhone.

As this blog post is published you have just two weeks to take advantage of this deal – so don’t hesitate and pick up your copy of iPhone Photography here today.

What People Are Saying about our iPhone Photography eBook

Here is just some of the feedback we’ve been getting about the eBook

“Thanks so much – I bought a copy earlier today and have spent the last 4 hours using my iPhone to take photos I’d never have thought possible with it. As I started to read this it became clear to me why I had been getting such average results from my iPhone in the past and how to improve them. Thanks DPS!” – Barbara (blog comment)

“‘iPhone Photography’ is a wonderful and inspiring guide to this revolution in photography. While written so clearly that even a total beginner can quickly learn how to take high quality photos, this eBook is valuable for iPhoneographers of all skill levels. The book shares all of the secrets you need to know in order to make great artistic images using your iPhone and selected camera and photo apps. It inspires you to explore the tools and techniques by actually using them, which is the best method of learning.” – Jens Daemgen – Creator of ProCamera App

“This e-book covers everything from shooting with the native camera to how to print your images at home and joining the mobile photography community. The material in this e-book has a wide range of appeal- I’d suggest it for new iPhoneographers as well as advanced shooters. I’m an advanced mobile photographer myself, and believe the my iPhone is a key tool for travel photography, and even I learned tricks and tips about apps I use frequently that I didn’t previously know. My photos have improved since reading Misho’s e-book.” – Jen Pollack Bianco (Review)

“I bought my wife this eBook two weeks ago and am happy to report that the images she’s now taking with her iPhone are such a vast improvement on what they used to be. She posted 3 photos of our kids on Facebook last night and the comments from friends when she said they were iPhone pics were all along the lines of ‘my iPhone doesn’t take shots like that!’. Of course she then went on to tell them to buy your eBook.” – Paul Grayfish (blog comment)

“If you’re the owner of either the iPhone 4S or iPhone 4 versions of Apple’s iPhones, this eBook, iPhone Photography – How to shoot, edit and share great photographs, is the right choice for you. It will show you everything from setting up your camera to using the best apps, sharing pictures with the community. And will even teach you photography if you just got interested in the medium through the use of your iPhone.” – (review)

Join the many satisfied owners of this eBook and pick up your copy of iPhone Photography here today.

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

Grab a Copy of our ‘iPhone Photography’ eBook and Go in the Draw to WIN an iPhone 5

How to Take Creative Couples Portraits

Mon, 2012-09-17 07:24

A Guest Post by Alice Laidlaw

No matter what their skill level, most photographers do everything they can to avoid cheesy, awkward and generic couples portraits. But there are a few creative elements to think about while you’re at the location and also when editing your images that will make them a bit more special.

A Tip for Getting Started

If you’re new to couples portraiture, or your subjects are a bit self-conscious, it’s good to start the shoot with a longer lens. This allows you to stand back and allow the couple to interact normally with each other, which means that you can get some great natural shots that you may struggle to capture if you were right in their face. Of course you will be getting some close shots of your couple later in the shoot, but this is a good way to warm up and break the ice with your subjects.


Locations don’t have to be iconic or super amazing. It’s surprising how often the most unsuspecting backyard or building can actually be quite a creative setting. Things to look out for are texture, form and pattern. Integrating these elements can also lend in telling a story about the couple, and create a narrative in your images.

Trees and Foliage:

There are so many portraits out there that use trees in uninspiring ways – people sitting on branches, or peeking around the trunk at each other. To me, these fall into the “cheesy” category. But there are ways you can use trees as a creative and textural element in your composition, without dominating the narrative. Framing couples in the branch formations or space around the tree allows it to be important in the composition without distracting from the couple. This is particularly effective if you stand quite far back from your subjects. Also, if the canopy is quite bushy, or it has interesting leaves and flowers, the textures and patterns of these elements can be used as a background if you position your couple in front.

This is the same for foliage. Bushy, full foliage with pattern and texture makes a great background. Depending on the look you’re going for with your subjects, using a smaller aperture to keep the foliage in focus creates a dynamic graphic element in the composition, while a larger aperture softens the background and creates a dreamy feeling.


I enjoy using buildings, indoor and outdoor, as a framing device. Doorways, archways and windows are great to position your couple in and give the composition a dynamic aspect. It can often given the image balance and symmetry, and can be applied to both indoor and outdoor sessions. Carefully positioning yourself and your couple in front of these elements can produce great graphic compositions, and if there are lots of doorways and archways around, then you’ll have lots of options for differing shots. Interesting details and patterns in the architecture – such as light fixtures or support beams – can be positioned to interact with your couple and create a bold visual impact.

Varying your own position is also very effective – standing far back and capturing full length, or angling yourself from the ground upwards can produce different moods and aesthetics. Also keep a look out for textures in buildings – whether it is brickwork, peeling paint or corrugated iron. Similar in the way you can use foliage as textural backgrounds, building textures can add mood and wistfulness to your image.


Once you’ve got a good collection of images, editing is the next task, and at times it can be quite daunting. If you struggle to think of creative ways to present your images to make them stand out, there are a few things to consider which can make a good image a great image.


Sometimes it’s as simple as cutting out the distractions. If you have a great shot of your couple with the expressions you want, but you’re less than thrilled with what’s happening with the background, don’t be afraid to crop in really tight. This is also an opportunity to create some alternative formats. Cropping to a square format can also lend to an artistic result.
When you’ve had more experience and you’re feeling confident with compositions, consider breaking the rules with cropping. Cut off torsos or heads if you think there’s something interesting going on in a specific part of the image.

Combining images:

This is a good little trick if you have lots of great shots you want to use, but you don’t want too many individual images that look very similar. It’s also effective in creating a more striking final composition. Simply make a new blank image in Photoshop, and pair appropriate images together side by side on the canvas – you will probably need to use Free Transform to place them (Crtl+T). It should be clear to you what images work together. A good option is placing a close-up portrait orientation next to a wider landscape orientation. This instantly makes your images look like art, and is also a great story telling technique


A very faint coloured filter can change so much in your image and alters the mood dramatically. Warming the tone can instantly romanticise a couple’s portrait. Create a new layer, and fill with a warm colour such as orange. Have a play with the blending mode (soft light is effective for this) and reduce to opacity way down to 10-15%. It’s a subtle adjustment, but the results speak for themselves. To create an even softer effect, reduce the overall saturation of the original image.


In Photoshop it’s called noise, but I still like to think of it as grain. Once you’ve done your overall adjustments, applying some noise over the image is a great way to add subtle texture and gives your image an “arty” look.
Copy the whole final background layer. On the copied layer, go to Filters > Noise > Add Noise. Bring the amount up quite high, to 10 or 12. Then in the layers panel, you can reduce the opacity to set the level of noise to your liking. This is how I usually do it, although alternatively you can choose the noise amount you want when you apply the filter. It’s good to do it on a layer so you can unselect the noise layer to quickly see the difference the effect has made and if it suits the image. If you don’t like it, delete the layer!

Add a Border:

It’s so simple! Adding a border can make such a different in the overall look of the final image and raises the bar in presentation. It certainly makes your image look more like an art photograph, and also acts as a frame. Simply go to Image > Canvas Size, and then extend the canvas. Usually a centimetre or two is enough, and make sure you’ve set the extension colour to white. Whether your images will be viewed on a screen or printed, a white border is a great addition.

Here’s a sample that combines these five techniques:

I hope this post has given you some ideas on how to think outside the box when approaching couples portraiture. Once you know what to look for on your locations, and after applying a few simple alternations in Photoshop, you’ll be surprised how creative you can be!

Alice is young award winning photographer and all-round creative living in Melbourne, Australia whose interest in digital capture knows no bounds. Her work can be seen at You can also follow her on Instagram (@alicelaidlaw), Twitter (@AliceLaidlaw) and Pinterest (Alice Laidlaw).

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

How to Take Creative Couples Portraits

The Importance of People in your Travel Photos

Sun, 2012-09-16 07:08

A Guest Post by Kim Wilson

Travel photos can be inspiring with sweeping landscapes, aerial flyovers and perfectly manicured hotels and resorts, making you want to book your travel plans right now. It’s like looking through a window and you imagine yourself standing right where the photographer stood.

I love capturing the essence of a place and, in fact, people tell me time and again that’s what they like most about my travel photos. While you can certainly get a sense of place from magnificent vistas, regionally identifiable architecture, and closeups of intriguing objects unique to the area, it’s people that best convey the heart, soul and cultural essence of a country.

In the picture above, I wanted to show people in their everyday lives walking along this quaint and quiet canal in Burano, Italy at sunset. I have similar images with no people but this one has energy and movement, creating a more robust portraiture of the small and picturesque village.

Without people in your travel photography you’re missing the location’s humanity. Sometimes the clothes, expressions and environment of your subjects can say more about a place than anything else.

For instance, these two boys are from Rocinha, the largest favela in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. They are happy and enjoying a moment with a tourist from the United States. It creates a much different emotion in the viewer than the other images I have of the famous slum’s ramshackle and haphazard homes sprawling up the mountainside.

From a distance, you might think living conditions would be horrible. However, in this favela they have drinkable water, plumbing, electricity, satellite and even free WiFi, they just have to buy an antenna. The children run up and down steep steps, creating their own entertainment. Yes, they are poor but you sense a pulsating and vibrant life in the eyes of Rochina’s children.

In this case, our tour guide informed us the children wanted their picture taken and often that happens. Sometimes we think people won’t want to be photographed but you’d be surprised. If you act suspicious like you are sneaking around trying to take someone’s picture anonymously they might shy away or look in the other direction. Go ahead and ask permission, the worst they can do is say no and you move on.

If language is a barrier, use your hands to sign toward your camera and then point at them. It’s a rather universal gesture for “I’d like to take your picture”. I would recommend you be more engaging and make a connection with the person. Find out how to say, “I want to take your picture” in their language. People always appreciate it when you attempt to communicate this way and are more likely to open up. Show them the picture you took. Just smiling and laughing, even when you can’t speak with each other, can be a terrific way to engage, and even make friends, with someone in another country. Sometimes they will then want to pose for more. When possible, exchange cards or contact info so you can send them a copy of the image.

Maybe you are a street photographer and like to just capture the moment such as the image with two people waiting at an Argentina bus stop. I was on a bus and snapped it when we stopped. Some situations are just there for you such as this crazy, four piece band on the streets of Paris.

I used to avoid shooting people for a couple of reasons. One, I knew there were legal issues when trying to sell images with people and two, I wasn’t bold enough to ask permission unless it was a “gimme” like the previous examples.

It’s important that you do know about the legalities of people pictures and where you can use them. Model releases are required if you plan on selling them for commercial purposes or placing them with a stock agency. Moreover, if you are planning on selling your travel photos for stock you have a greater change of selling them with people.

Some agencies accept editorial images, which don’t require a model release. However, editorial images should be relevant to a news story, event, person, or otherwise timely in some fashion. Generally, you can’t shoot an obvious stock image, such as a woman drinking coffee at a Paris bistro with the Eiffel Tower in the background, and submit it as an editorial image just because you don’t have a model release.

When in Venice, you know you’re going to have that iconic image of your Gondolier, so go ahead and ask for a model release, which I have for this shot. Just a hint, the younger ones are more apt to sign them because they want the fare. The old guys are traditionalists and don’t seem to want your business quite as bad.

[insert image - Santa Teresa Bonde]

Travel with friends and family. It’s a lot easier to get model release from them. Pose them in those shots that tell a story about a location, such as this image in the neighborhood of Santa Teresa in Rio de Janiero well known for their cable cars, known as a bonde, that wind through its narrow streets.

Even if you aren’t interested in placing your images with a stock agency, having a model release can protect you and be a real asset if it’s ever asked for from a prominent magazine or photo contest that requires them. With our litigious society, you may just want to protect yourself with that extra bit of insurance. Carrying around a pad of model releases can be a real pain but there are now iPhone apps (Easy Release and VM Release) that generate digital releases. Most (not all) stock agencies now accept them and I should think they’d be good for any other requests. As the saying goes, better safe than sorry.

As photographers, we are the observers of the world around us. It’s through our imagery we communicate with other people. Yes, people like to see pictures of majestic views, expansive cityscapes, immaculate lodgings, and well-served food but ultimately we connect with other people. We relate to the human condition emotionally and sympathetically, far more than we do places and things, as interesting as they may be. Adding people to your travel photography will tell a human story that engages and emotionally connects the viewer to your photograph on a deeper level.

Kim Wilson, based in Los Angeles, CA, specializes in travel, fine art, lifestyle and product photography. You can see her portfolio and find all her contact information at Kim developed CAPTURE – an instructional photo blog that examines single photographs from concept through post-processing, which is accessible from her website. She also occasionally contributes to Shutterbug magazine and other publications. 

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

The Importance of People in your Travel Photos

8 Attempts, 260kms Travel, 9 Hours of Standing in the Snow and Rain…. The Story Behind my Shot

Sat, 2012-09-15 11:53

A Guest Post by Adi Chiru

Although I never focused exclusively on making money out of photography I am still affected by this idea that many people have that photography has become easy and photographers, in general, are not really needed anymore.

It sounds stupid, I know, and, I probably shouldn’t be thinking about it too much. But since a lot of photography equipment is now more accessible than ever to the general public, many people consider themselves photographers just because they have a fancy, relatively expensive camera that does everything for them.

I am amazed by how many people consider the equipment to be the most important element in creating a good photograph. Many people think that they could have made a fantastic photograph if only they had that very fancy, expensive camera at the right moment.

This is a misconception, as I will try to explain using this panorama photograph I made of Vancouver (BC, Canada). Although being in the right place at the right moment with the appropriate equipment is a huge part of a successful photograph, let’s set these things aside for the moment and look at the other considerations at play.

I live near Vancouver, and it is a great place for many types of photography. I took this photograph from one of the most well-known places in the city, so the location itself is not a secret—I didn’t need to get special access to it.

Click on the image for a larger size. I hope you have a good, calibrated monitor!

I chose to make a night photograph, as the first time I visited this location, the sun was setting and the city was starting to sparkle. I went back for a day light capture too, a few weeks later, but that’s a different story.

Here’s the equipment I used:

  • tripod – an appropriate tripod for the camera and lenses used (mine is a Manfrotto 190X Pro-B with a Giottos ball-head)
  • Nikon D7000 camera set for the best quality images
  • Nikon AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G lens with a lens hood attached
  • Nikon IR remote control to minimize camera movement.

The technique I used was to stitch together, in Photoshop, eight different photographs made with exposures between 20 and 30 seconds at f/8, ISO 100 and EV +0.3.

So, what does it take to make an image like this?

First, it took eight different trips to that location, six of which I made specifically to take this image.

  • The first time I went there was in December, and it was raining. I unpacked my tripod and camera, but the images I took were useless.
  • The second time there were a few kids running around, and the wooden deck I was standing on was vibrating a lot. I can’t ask people to keep their children still. It was a touristic location and the place was a little crowded.
  • The third time there was no rain and the sky looked great; however there was enough humidity in the air to ruin all my photos. Humidity means there’s water in the air. This diffuses the light, so the images were blurry at full size. I could have used them, probably, for relatively small prints, but I am never comfortable with such compromises. My aim with this project was to create a panorama that could be printed at large or even huge sizes.
  • The fourth time I got there the weather looked fine, but snow started to fall as soon as I finished unpacking—really frustrating…
  • The fifth time there was fog, like a huge cloud over the water, blocking the view. I suppose there could have been a good image there—with very low contrast as if the city was swallowed by mist—if the fog had been more even, and less dense…
  • The sixth time, I got rain and wind! That’s why they call it “Raincouver” sometimes… Also, huge cargo vessels were parked right in the middle of the water, blocking much of the view.
  • The seventh time, I thought there were no cargo vessels or big boats, as I couldn’t see them from the street while passing by. They were there, however, just in a different spot—but they still in the way. That was quite disappointing, as the sky was very interesting that day, with a very nice pattern made by the clouds and high altitude wind. Also, the sun was setting almost behind the city. I was expecting an orange-red sky ending in a dark, rich blue at the upper side of the image. I was right! Too bad the view of the city was ruined by those ships!
  • The eighth time was finally the moment when pretty much all the elements fell into place. The view was great, the city lights ware just bright enough relative to the brightness of the sky. The sky was not as spectacular at first, and definitely not as dramatic as the previous time. Still, eight photographs were made and all of them were sharp and correctly exposed.

And I was lucky to get it from only eight attempts!

Eight attempts at this photo meant over 260 kilometers in travel for me, and around nine hours standing in rain or snow or the cold. It took me about six weeks in total. I also spent about four hours post-processing some of the photos I took, including the last set.

All that for one single image!

And this was a relatively easy shoot: I was just 100 meters from my car, I was in a city—not in the middle of a desert somewhere or in a jungle or other more hostile environment—and this was not an assignment, so there was less pressure, etc. I like nature more than any city in the world and I would always prefer to be in the wild than in a city, but I do know that those locations are a lot less comfortable for the photographer.

Second, I had to calculate sunset time for each of these attempts, as they were not made on consecutive days. There are very good applications for this kind of timing on Android; I use Sun Surveyor, the full version. I do not use iPhone so I cannot recommend iPhone apps for this purpose.

Also, I had to be at the location on January 1st, as the schedule for the Seabus (the main public transportation from Vancouver, Downtown to the North shore) was on a reduced schedule that day. It would cross the view only once every 30 minutes, instead of every 15 minutes as usual, and I hoped this would give me a better chance of capturing some reflections on the water. Unfortunately, there were other problems on that day, as described above.

What else? Well, there are a few very important things to keep in mind while planning and executing a photograph like this:

  • The temperature should be as low as possible. Cold air moves much less than hot air and the shivering effect of hot air moving upwards may not exist at all in colder weather.
  • The humidity of the air is important and hard to predict or seen with our eyes. The distance between the camera and the city skyline was of about 3.5km (1.80 nautical miles) so there’s a lot of room for many elements to affect the shot. Also, I was taking this image across a body of water, and water has a strong influence on the air above it.
  • The lens, although a macro lens, is not necessarily useless in cases like this. I would actually strongly encourage anyone to use a macro lens if the focal length is appropriate. A prime lens is better, as it can provide more sharpness and certainly produce less geometrical distortion. However, a zoom lens can be used very well, as long as you use the focal length that induces the minimum geometric distortion and an f-stop that allows for maximum sharpness for that lens.
  • The tripod is mandatory and a ball-head may be a lot easier to work with. One more thing your tripod should have is a level indicator, so that when you are panning, each photo will be straight and keep the same proportion between sky and land or water.
  • Auto-metering can be used if you really know how to compensate in exposure, or if you can always find a spot to meter on, that has similar brightness in each exposure. I would, however, always recommend manual settings for the exposure while trying to compensate for sun or moon movement, changes in light intensity, and so on. The main problem in this case was the long exposure: while I took the eight photos, about six minutes passed between the first and last exposure. During six minutes at sunset, many, many things can change: color tones in the sky, light direction, light intensity, and more. I have another panorama made from 21 individual photographs, but that was completed in daylight.
  • Mirror-lock and remote triggering is very important, especially while using long focal lengths—even on a sturdy tripod. Also, keep the wind in mind. No matter how low the wind speed, it is usually blowing in blasts, which will affect the image.
  • If you use a time delay, it will not allow you to pause after the mirror locks up, so it will not work as well as a remote control. But it will be better than nothing at all. On many cameras, remote triggering cannot be combined with mirror-lock, which is unfortunate.
  • Live-view and zoom-in focus should be used. During night exposures, this will allow for far more precise focus, and let you get more vertical photos than horizontal ones for the same area; the longer side of the photos will become the width of the final image, giving greater resolution in the end.
  • Overlap 50% of the images for the greatest sharpness and clarity; the center of the current image should became the right/left side of the next image when panning. Depending on the image, you may want to combine focus-stacking with panorama merging, so keep in mind this possibility.
  • Assuming you use Lightroom in post-processing (if you don’t, you should!), use Sync for any global adjustments you make to the first image. Then, go over each one and manually tweak what’s necessary to make them as similar as possible in color tones, exposure, white balance, etc. Photoshop does a great job of compensating for most of these issues, but it will give you perfect results only if you feed it perfect images to work with!

So, this it! That’s what it took for me to make this single image. I am not expecting it to be to everybody’s taste; I don’t want that. The thing is that I like it, and I am proud of it because it was pre-visualized and I worked on it a lot.

If you don’t have a true passion for photography, you will not put enough effort into it. How much “enough” is depends on each of us. It’s easy to say “it’s easy” or that “anyone can do it” as long as you haven’t tried it. This is true with many other tasks, not just photography.

I hope these details exemplify clearly what it may take to produce a good photograph. For those who have the interest to understand and look into the field further, keep in mind that this is just one example from one type of photography, and from one photographer. Other specialties in this art present many other challenges and difficulties that the point-and-shoot photographer may find it hard to face.

Adi Chiru is a photographer currently based in Vancouver, BC, Canada. His focus is on Nature Photography, Fine Art and Family Portraiture. His Portfolio and Photography web-store is at

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

8 Attempts, 260kms Travel, 9 Hours of Standing in the Snow and Rain…. The Story Behind my Shot

Zoom: Weekly Photography Challenge (WIN a Tamron Lens Worth $449)

Fri, 2012-09-14 12:31

This week your challenge is to take and share an image that fits with the theme ‘ZOOM’.

Enter and if you’re in the USA you’ll go in the running to win a Tamron 70-300mm zoom lens valued at $449 which is being generously supplied by our friends over at Tamron USA who are sponsoring the challenge this week. If you’re outside the USA you go into the draw to win a bundle of dPS eBooks valued at $290. Details of prizes and conditions below.

The Theme

This week’s theme is ‘zoom’. Feel free to interpret the them in any way. You may wish to try taking a photo with the zoom effect – you might prefer to take a picture of a vehicle ‘zooming buy’ – you might wish to take out your zoom lens and put it through its paces. It is completely up to you.

Share Your Photo to Go in the Draw to Win

One US reader will win the Tamron 70-300mm lens (this lens comes in mounts for Canon, Nikon and Sony (the winner chooses the mount they want). This winner will be selected at random from those who submit a photo below. One non US reader will win a full set of 10 dPS eBooks (selected randomly). There is only one entry per person.

To enter simply leave a link to your zoom photo or embed the photo into comments below. Please also include what country you’re from in your comment so we know which prize you’re in the running for. Entries must be left before Saturday 22nd September at midnight (US Eastern time) when the winners will be selected and notified via email.

A huge thanks to Tamron for sponsoring this weeks challenge!

Once you’ve taken and selected the ‘ZOOM’ image that you’d like to share – upload it to your favourite photo sharing site or blog and either share a link to it or – embed them in the comments using our embed tool to do so.

If you tag your photos on Flickr, Instagram, Twitter or other sites with Tagging tag them as #DPSZOOM to help others find them. Linking back to this page might also help others know what you’re doing so that they can share in the fun.

Also – don’t forget to check out some of the great shots posted in last weeks challenge – Self Portrait Mirror challenge where there were some great shots submitted.

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

Zoom: Weekly Photography Challenge (WIN a Tamron Lens Worth $449)

Why you Should Rent a Studio

Fri, 2012-09-14 07:07

A Guest Post by Russell Masters.

There are potentially any number of reasons why you might be reading this post, however assuming you have at least a minimal interest in studio photography its probably because the thought of a ‘professional’ shoot excites you. I am however betting that a lot of people reading this have never made the leap into a full blown studio session, and that probably the majority of readers who have did so through a workshop or paid lesson rather than under their own steam.

Just like you I have always found the thought of shooting in a studio exciting but have until recently never been brave enough to actually try. Fear of failure is a common paralysis experienced by photographers and primarily results from expectation and self pressure.

I am sure that most of you have found yourself in situations where friends or family have asked if you could take a few ‘snaps’ at that all-important family occasion. No matter how much they reassure you that all they really want are a few nice pictures, its not too long before tension and (a lot of Photoshop) set in.

So its easy to see why, no matter how much we want to do it, the thought of putting ourselves in a high expectation situation such as a studio shoot is enough to ensure we never actually do it. Having brooded over this for years, I’m here to tell you that no matter how formidable it seems, organizing and executing your own studio session is affordable, very achievable and probably one of the best opportunities you have for taking your photographic skills to the next level.

Benefits – Why You Should Rent a Studio

The main advantage of shooting in a studio is of course the ability to control and shape the quality of light. Shooting under studio lighting also has the pleasant side effect of making pretty much any camera capable of rendering sharp, well detailed images. All of this control and quality comes at a price, usually a fairly hefty price, so renting a studio space is a great way to gain experience without the financial pain of buying your own equipment. Studio rentals can be incredibly good value with a half day session costing as little as £50-60*, not bad for one of the best photography investments you can make.

Tips & Hints for Renting a Studio Space

Whilst finding a studio should be relatively easy (usually it only requires a simple Internet search), there are a few things to be aware of before making a booking:

  • Rates – Rates can vary greatly from studio to studio however so can the amount of time included, so it’s worth double checking especially when charges are listed by fractions of a day.
  • Size – Studios come in a range of sizes and again this can have a bearing on hire charges, as a rule bigger spaces are better as they offer a greater array of creative options.
  • Hidden Charges – Beware of hidden fees, examples include the use of consumables such as backdrop paper and parking which can make a big difference in terms of total rental cost.
  • Overtime – Most studios will charge a premium for overtime and its important to be aware of these before booking. Plan your shoot carefully to avoid any overruns and nasty surprises.
  • Equipment Hire – Whilst most studios include equipment hire within the total rate, some can apply additional charges so double check to see what is and isn’t included.
  • Assistant/Tutoring – Some studios offer the use of an assistant in addition to hire of the studio space, this can be a great way to learn how to use available equipment and make the most of the session time. Sometimes the presence of a stranger can add pressure to the situation so don’t be afraid to go it alone
    if you prefer.

Setting Up the Shoot

So lets assume you have found a studio, the rate looks good and it’s free at a convenient time. What’s stoping you paying the fee and making the booking?

Probably that healthy fear of failure but with preparation and planning there is absolutely no reason to put it off any longer. Here are a few tips to make sure that your first session is a great one:

  • The Talent – Probably the job at the top of the to do list is making sure you have someone to put in the studio. Whilst it is true that a professional model makes a difference, it isn’t essential to use one. The more important thing is that you have someone interesting to photograph, this can be anything from a friend to another photographer and doesn’t need to be a paid subject. Whoever you choose to shoot its important to plan your lighting accordingly (its generally not good to shoot a truck driver using soft focus and beauty lighting). Starting off with someone whom you feel comfortable with will help you build confidence as well as your skills, and its probably best to save booking Kate Moss for your second session anyway.
  • Working with the model – Its easy to forget that your model is a real person, taking the time to get to know them before the big day will make a big difference. Try and involve them in the planning for the shoot, including any ideas or requests they have will help to make them feel part of the session and improve the overall experience for everyone. Remember to keep talking to them and whatever you do avoid hiding away behind the camera.
  • Lighting – The most time consuming part of any shoot is the lighting setup and therefore its essential to make sure you have a plan of action before going into the session. Ideally plan two to three lighting setups (depending on how much time you have booked), the internet can be a great source of ideas and tutorials. Its best to pick something simple as not only will this be easier to do on the day it will also mean you have more time to work with your subject. Good suggestions include single light setups, headshots and plain backdrop shots.
  • Make it a team event – If possible try and find a fellow photographer (preferably a friend) to share the experience with you. Making this a group activity can help in a number of ways, aside from sharing the costs, having a number of people on hand can help with setting up the shoot, making lighting adjustments and entertaining the modeling talent between sets.
Conclusions & Summary

If you have any interest in experiencing studio photography, renting a studio is without a doubt the best way to get started. Mastering studio photography takes time but it doesn’t need to cost a fortune and is something that any photographer can (and should) do. Fear of failure is something that we all as photographers experience throughout our creative journeys, however its only by overcoming these fears and working through uncomfortable situations that we can grow. Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and believe me, you’ll definitely be ok. Who knows, you might even come back for more.

* – Depending upon the intended demographic this figure can be revised.

Russell Masters is a UK based photographer. To see more of his work check out his website and connect with him on Twitter.

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

Why you Should Rent a Studio

Getting The Most Out Of A Non-Photography Tour

Thu, 2012-09-13 11:36

Taking a guided tour in a foreign land can be an excellent way to see a new country. Hotels and transportation are often taken care of for you and a day’s worth of entertainment is already prepared before you land at the airport. They are certainly fun and relaxing endeavors.

But they don’t always lends themselves well to photography. Some tour companies will arrange their events to line up with ‘good light’, but often by accident, such as placing time to watch the sunrise from a particularly beautiful vista. But for the most part, sites are thought of as a list to be checked off and not so much for their photographic ‘best light’.

Here then are some tips to help you get the most out of your next non-photography tour. I would love to hear your suggestions from past experiences at in the comments section below.

Get Up Early

It’s no secret that the one of the best times for photography is around sunrise. Getting up early has other advantages as well. It’s likely your tour group doesn’t meant until breakfast, with some time to pack (if you are changing locations), this means you have time on your own to see the area close to your hotel at your own pace.

Face it, photographers are slow walkers, if we are walking at all. We wander and we like to go where inspiration takes us. Often while on the guided part of a tour is scripted with a meandering path meant to show all the highlights of a location. You will likely have to stick with the group or face the wrath of the tour guide (who does have your safety and best interest in mind).

The best way to avoid this confrontation and to still whet your need for free time is to get up early. This may mean an early night as well, missing out on a potentially good party. But for me, I’d rather be awake at sunrise with a camera in hand than waste it the night before and wake with a hangover.

The image at right was shot at 6:11am, 30 minutes before sunrise.

Use The Photographer’s Ephemeris or LightTrac

I’ve espoused the benefits of these two tools before and they can be very useful when traveling abroad or just outside your hometown.  LightTrac and The Photographer’s Ephemeris are both great tools for figuring out a multitude of on-location lighting situations. They both work on iOS and Android devices so you can take them with you and The Photographer’s Ephemeris also has a free desktop app to help model situations before you are on the road.

What both of these programs do is all you to zero in on a location and see the sunrise and sunset angles. They also allow you to see the location of the sun in the sky at any point in time on the face of the Earth. Which is pretty cool in itself, but they also allow you to see shadow lengths and angle so you can get an idea of what you will encounter. Thrown in for fun, the path of the moon is also available.

Research Before You Leave

Chances are you know where you’re going on this tour. You’ve done some research before sending hundreds or thousands of dollars/euros/dinars to the tour company. Now take it a step further.

First, request as close to a final agenda as you can get. It need not be step by step, but the highlights and the order. You may have to make some assumptions, such as a start time each day around 8-9am unless the situation warrants a super early start (think: trekking the Inca Trail).

Now use the desktop or mobile version of the The Photographer’s Ephemeris or LightTrac to plot out the main attractions important to you. I think here of ruins in Rome or temples in Nepal. Find out if the sun will be favorable to you on that day and where you might want to wander for a good picture. Either make a written list or a mental note so you are not left guessing when you arrive and can make a bee-line for the location you know will afford you the best images.

Remember Key Locations For Later Return

As you pass by sights on your tour and notice pictures are not turning out how you like, make a mental note to return. This may be during your particular tour during ‘down time’ if the location is close or it may be on another trip. The time to take notes is when you find yourself saying, “Oh, this would be perfect in morning light!”

You might not get it all in one trip, but there is rarely a rule saying you can’t return some day!

Go For Details

When the sun is high and the grand views you see on postcards are all but lacking, go for the details. Details are a saving grace of less than optimal light. That big cathedral that will be washed out in noon-day sun? Zoom in to the relief and statuary on the outside. Duck in and hit the light coming in the stained glass.

The colors in the Grand Canyon are washed out, you say? What about the plant life at the edge? No luck at Machu Picchu because of harsh sun? Show me the details in how the stones are formed together or the steepness of the steps.

The key here is there is always a photo to be had from almost any situation. You may be forced into light that you don’t particularly like, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find something interesting to shoot.

Wander When They Aren’t Looking

This last tip will likely happen on its own. I am not telling you to be discourteous to your host or guide. If you are in a large tour group, you will have opportunity to wander while the group has stopped. If you are with a spouse or a friend, have them listen to the information while you take off.

I realize this tip may be like telling cats to chase mice, but some people think they are absolutely locked into the path and timing the guide takes. Sure, you need to be courteous to other guests and not hold things up, but if a particularly beautiful image presents itself, go for it. If they other guests grumble, send them a copy.

Your Turn

What suggestions do you have for someone locked into a package tour’s schedule, but with a lust for photography? Have you ever f yourself in this situation?


Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

Getting The Most Out Of A Non-Photography Tour

How to Promote Your Photography Business with Street Portraits

Thu, 2012-09-13 06:47

This post was submitted by James Maher – author of the brand new The Essentials of Street Photography eBook (currently 25% off).

One of the toughest things for any photographer to do is self promotion.  Self promotion is a form of art itself, and unfortunately it is an artform that most of us photographers hate to do.  We wish our work could speak for itself, but at the beginning it can’t.

For a glimpse into what things used to be like for me, after being together for six years, my wife told me that I should probably stop telling people that I ‘do photography’ and instead start saying that I was a ‘professional photographer.’  How such a subtle word twist can change everything.  I had no idea.  Embarrassing, to say the least.

It takes a long time and a lot of work to build up an audience for your work.  Even within your community, it’s an everyday struggle.  And unfortunately, it’s a struggle that takes us away from our primary goal, which is our art and our craft.

But if you’re trying to make a living at photography, promotion is the most important thing that you will have to do.

Street Portraits and Interviews about Occupy Wall Street (view larger).

Over the last few years, I have found an extremely versatile way to get exposure and jobs within a community, and it involves street portraits.

You’ve seen street portraits before and they’re nothing new and nothing fancy.  They’re basically a very quick, simple, impromptu photo session on the street with someone you have just met and they often will include a quick interview, which will take about 5 or 10 minutes to do and about 20 minutes to type up.

What’s amazing about them is how versatile they are.  You can relate a portrait of a person and a short interview on the streets of your community to pretty much anything.

Want to get into the real estate section of your local newspaper?  Pick a neighborhood and interview a few people walking around and ask them real estate questions or questions about the neighborhood, then contact the real estate editor at your local newspaper to show him a sample.  It’s worth a shot.

Street Portraits and Interviews on the Lower East Side for the Real Estate section (view larger).

Want to get on this great local blog in your neighborhood?  Then ask funny neighborhood questions and pitch it to the owner of the blog.

Name: Mike Stupin
Occupation: Deliveryman
Location: Mama’s Food Shop, 3rd Street between Ave A + B
Time: 6:15 pm on July 25

“I live across the bridge in Bushwick. I’m a big bike rider. I work food delivery. Pretty much all I do right now is read and deliver pizzas and soul food. It’s probably the best job I’ve had in a long time. You get to ride your bike around and they feed you.

Delivering to pantsless people is very common. It’s not just guys; it’s everyone, all the time. People of every shape and size answer their door pantsless. Every once in awhile they get embarrassed and apologize and I’m like, ‘don’t worry about it. It’s kind of what I do, I put on pants so you don’t have to.’ Strangers love that joke. I’ve got one customer that I’ve never, ever seen wearing clothes. She’s always in a towel or a bathrobe. It doesn’t matter the time of day.”

It can relate to anything.  And it’s fun!  If you have a blog as well then this will be a fantastic addition to it.

Here are some quick tips that I have picked up to make your life easier when doing these portraits:

  1. Ideally, you want to mix an interesting background with an interesting person, so find an interesting location and wait there for the right person to come by.
  2. Purchase a digital recorder.  Download a transcription program, such as Transcribe!, which will allow you to slow down the audio to 60 percent to give you enough time to type the interview out without having to rewind.  This will save you a lot of time.
  3. If the person seems uncomfortable then conduct the interview first.  Talking will often get them to relax and to be more comfortable around you.  Offer to walk with them so you are not making them late and the act of walking will make them feel more comfortable.  Keep your eyes peeled for a good location while you are walking and right before you begin to take their portrait, tell them you don’t want to pose them (unless you do, of course) and that you just want them to stand how they naturally would.  Don’t let them give you the forced smile.
  4. If they seem to be standing uncomfortably, coax them out of it by asking them to walk a step forward, back, or to the side.  Usually, the person will reposition themselves into a more natural pose.
  5. Give them your card and email them the photo.  Who knows, you may have just found a new client in your neighborhood!
  6. The story behind the person is the most interesting part, so if you can’t find the best background or the flashiest person then don’t worry.  The least flashy people often have the most interesting stories, so don’t only seek out people with the best outfits.  Interesting outfits don’t always correspond to interesting people.

Name: Joey McGibbon
Occupation: Doorman, Retired
Location: 6th Street between Avenue A and B
Time: 1:52 on Sunday, Aug. 27

“I’ve lived in the neighborhood for 30 years. I was a doorman on the Upper East Side. The difference between the Upper East Side and here was like night and day. I worked for gazillionaires. What they paid for shoes and clothes, I could pay my rent for 3 months.

It was a different neighborhood 30 years ago. It was dangerous but I never felt really threatened. You just had to know your way about, where you were going, and what you were doing. Half this neighborhood was burnt out; every block had burnt out buildings. It was really empty. If you weren’t from around here people knew it because it was so depopulated.

I moved down here by accident. I was in love with this girl and we were in the throws of breaking up. I grew up in Queens. I had no intentions of moving down here, especially back then when this neighborhood was the way it was. But she moved here and I followed her. I thought maybe we’d get back together but it never happened and I ended up staying. It was quite an accident and it changed my life. I met some wonderful people: artists, writers, and creative people. It’s always been a young neighborhood, but it wasn’t college students, it was young people on the fringe. It was quite some fun. You had the Robots; you had EPCs; you had the Limbo Lounge; Pizza a Go-Go; the Pyramid Club was in full swing. I got exposed to a lot of things I wouldn’t have been exposed to in Queens. There were some heartbreaking things too; I lost a lot of people to drugs and to the AIDS crisis.

They filmed ‘The Godfather Part2′ on this block. All these buildings here still had the old fashioned storefronts. They were sealed up, but they all had the old-fashioned storefronts, so they fixed them up and created a barbershop and a candy store and put canopies on them. It’s the scene where that guy in the white suit [Don Fanucci] is going down the street, where he gets blown away by Robert DeNiro in the hallway. That’s where a lot of these trees came from, because the block association said, ‘if you’re going to disrupt our lives we want some compensation’, so they agreed to give them money for these trees.”

It may feel weird or awkward to do at first and it may make you feel like you are intruding on people, but the reality is that you will be making most of these peoples’ days a lot more interesting.  You will make them feel special.  It is not like you are trying to sell them something or get them to sign a petition that they don’t believe in; you are celebrating them.

Learn more about Street photography in The Essentials of Street Photography – a brand new eBook by James Maher.

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

How to Promote Your Photography Business with Street Portraits

10 Surefire Tips To Help You Capture Better Images of Your Children

Wed, 2012-09-12 11:45

Do you LOVE taking pictures of your children? Do often wish you could get better images of them? Whether you are using a point and shoot camera or a DSLR, MCP Actions, creator of Photoshop actions and Lightroom Presets, is here to help you take better photos of your kids and grand kids.

6 tips and tricks to photographing your children:
  1. Get a little closer. One of the biggest differences you can make is to get closer to the subject in your photo. Sometime we are caught up with getting the nice scenery behind them and our children get lost in the image.
  2. Look for different angles. One way to get more variety in your photos is to look for different angles instead of always taking them straight on.
  3. Try to engage your kids. Be silly, make funny faces, jump around, sing silly songs. They will be more likely to give you natural expressions and they will have more fun.
  4. Try distracting your kids. It can be hard to get young children to stay still for a photo. Try putting something on your head like reindeer antlers or put something on the top of your camera like a fuzzy sticker. You will get their attention and they most likely look straight at your camera.
  5. Natural is OK. We all have this notion that we want the perfect portrait of our children. Remember to capture the every day moments. The blank stares in space, the moody, sullen moments, the quiet moments, these are all memories that you will want to look back upon, not just the smiling picture perfect moments
  6. Know when to stop. If you are starting to get upset with your kids then its time to put the camera away and try again another day.

4 Tips and Tricks for lighting:
  1. Golden hour! The best time of day to take outdoor pictures is one hour after sunrise or one hour before sunset. The light is soft and pretty during those hours and the shadows are not as harsh. The next time you head to the beach, take your kids out for a nice walk one hour before sunset and bring your camera!
  2. Overcast days are the best! Whenever we have an overcast day I run and get my camera and head outdoors with the kids. The clouds create a diffuser over the sun and it softens the light and minimizes shadows. My favorite outdoor images have been taken on overcast days.
  3. Look for open shade. A great place is a porch, gazebo or under a tree. This will help your children from squinting.
  4. Back light. If you have to take pictures in bright open sun be sure to place the sun behind your child rather than putting the sun behind you. This will make a pretty halo of light behind your child and will also make them less likely to squint!

Remember to have fun! I love documenting my children’s youth with photographs whether it’s with my DSLR or my iPhone. Some of my favorite images of my children are not the posed holiday cards images but rather the spontaneous, in the moment images that capture what they are doing and how they are feeling!

Jodi Friedman, the owner of MCP Actions, makes photo editing easier and faster with Photoshop Actions, Lightroom Presets and Online Training. Her colleague, Tracy Callahan of Memories by TLC, is a portrait studio specializing in newborns, young children and maternity sessions. Together they offer a one-of-kind online Newborn Photography Workshop. To learn more about MCP’s Newborn Photography Online Mentoring: The Start to Finish Workshop click here. Make sure to follow MCP Actions on Facebook and to subscribe to their blog, for more great photography and editing articles.

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

10 Surefire Tips To Help You Capture Better Images of Your Children

How I Shot And Edited It: Seattle Skyline

Wed, 2012-09-12 06:49

Click on the above image for a 1200 pixel wide version.

I had a number of requests to explain how I shot and edited this image and I thought it might be helpful to the DPS audience at large to explain it here. When I first started in photography 20+ years ago, I was often baffled by the results some pros were able to accomplished and it was only through asking that I found tricks to give my images similar looks. I understand that nothing is more frustrating than to try to emulate something you like and facing unanswered questions.

If you like the image above, read on. If not, here’s a post on how to shoot waterfalls.


We have been having some glorious weather in Seattle as of late and I knew it would be ending soon. Sunrise always interests me but it tends to somehow get placed very early in the day most of the time. This collides with my desire to sleep. But not last week! I vowed to wake up early and capture this beautiful city in some radiant light.

Step 1: Wake up early. Step 2: Make sure you pack the night before. Cards, batteries, directions to where you’re going. All of that stuff, get it ready the night before. Few things are as harsh to a photographer as having to rush around the morning of a shoot to find last minute items.

Also, scout your location. I used the Photographer Ephemeris to make sure the sun would be at the right angle when I made it to Kerry Park in Seattle. I have been to the park a number of times, but it would suck to get up early and have the sun’s angle all wrong. Along with scouting early, if your spot is a popular spot, arrive early. Do you see that tripod on the right side of this image that looks like it will fall down the hill at any moment? That’s mine. Less than prime spot = got up later than I should have.


I shot this scene with a Pentax 645D and 55mm lens. This is a medium format camera and the images are large, with lots of detail. My original shot had to include more skyline than I wanted by being restricted to the one lens (Pentax is loaning the camera to me for review purposes and I did not have a choice of lens).

While waiting for the sun to show, I took some sample images and adjusted my settings. Here is the shot as it came out of the camera.

For settings I used ISO 100, 55mm, f/5 and 1 second in Manual mode. I used the camera’s ability to create a DNG file and this is a JPG version you see above. Otherwise, no edits at this point.

I was looking for clarity of the image and a good color saturation. I didn’t want to “shoot to the right” too much because I prefer a darker look and rich colors from the start.


As is often the case, shooting was the easy part. Except the waking up early aspect, I had this shot well before the sun came up  (6:11am, the sun didn’t come up for another 30 minutes).

At home, excited because of actually feeling awake and spending time in the glorious early morning light that followed, I sat down and made the following changes in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4.

1) My first step was to crop the image down to what I wanted. The 55mm version was too far away, but I knew that when taking it. First, I zoomed in.

I didn’t like the Space Needle being right in the middle, so I brought in the left side some.

The Space Needle is better, but too much sky. Also, the angle is off a little (this is something I would fight with until the final export). So let’s correct that a little now too.

2) With the general crop done, I adjusted the Tone Curve to bring up the white point and give a little contrast to the image. It looks like this:

3) I adjusted Clarity to +33 to give the foreground some punch.

Also, Vibrance by +24 and Saturation by +20 to add more color into the sky.

Last, Contrast by +20 for a subtle darkening of the sky and then Highlights down to -56.

Subtle changes and not so obvious on these smaller sized images.

4) Next, I wanted to right side, away from the sun, to not be so dark. So I added in a Graduated Filter as such (I usually paint in my Graduated Filters and Adjustment Brushes with an Exposure of around 3 stops to make them easy to see and that is what you’re seeing here).

I then toned this down to be just .4 stops brighter, helping bring up that corner of the image.

5) Now I adjusted Blacks to -7 and Exposure to +.20.

6) At this point, I wanted more warmth in the image. I increased the Yellow Saturation to +50 and the Orange Saturation to +31.

The Space Needle starts to stand out more but I still want the whole scene to be warmer, so I increase the Color Temperature to 6000K from 5400K.

In making this change the Orange and Purple Saturation have suffered slightly, so I increase Purple Saturation to +19 and Orange Saturation to +58.

7) A couple more crops and straightening (after you have been staring at an image for a while, step away and come back. It also helps to have another person take a fresh look and point out little changes) and I’m done!

Thank you for reading along and I hope this has helped in some way. Not every change is a “WOW!” moment and sometimes it is the subtle changes that make a big difference in the final product.

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

How I Shot And Edited It: Seattle Skyline

How To Build A Portfolio Without Clients

Tue, 2012-09-11 11:56


How do you build your portfolio when you don’t have any clients?  This is one of the most common questions I get asked, and it’s a legitimate one. If you want to make money with your photography, you don’t need a résumé, but you do need a good portfolio. Here are some tips about how to do that without clients

1.  Photographing Children. This is the genre in which you will get the models you need for free – use your own children (but they may be your toughest subjects!), your nieces and nephews or your friends’ children.  Does free models mean you photograph them for free? Well, yes, for a while. Just think of it as an investment into your future success.  Practice! Practice! Practice!  You get the opportunity to practice and show your skills (plus your patience) on a variety of subjects.  You get some amazing images to feature on your website.  And your friends get some really cool pictures of their kids. It’s a win-win situation.

If you want to sell your services as a portrait photographer, building your portfolio should not be a problem. Your friends will be thrilled to let you photograph their children in exchange for some images.

2. Photographing High School Seniors. Most of the above tips and benefits apply for shooting senior portraits. They don’t even have to be seniors – any high school or college youth can model for you and no one will know the differences.  Before you go out and shoot, though, look at other successful senior portrait photographers for inspiration, but, as always, let your own style shine.

3.  Photographing Weddings. I don’t recommend you shoot a friend’s wedding if you’ve never done such an event before. You would not want your friend to be left with poorly composed or badly lit wedding pictures. It is risky. If your friend wants you do give it a try, make sure you make it clear that this is your first try and that you cannot guarantee that the photos will meet their expectations. Instead of shooting the entire wedding, you could shoot your own images during the event without getting in the way of the main photographer. Try to capture some detail shots of the flowers and the cake at the reception for example. It will be good practice and no one will get hurt.

Assist a local wedding photographer. This will get you some hands-on experience at the side of a professional  Should you go that route, be aware that some wedding photographers may let you use some of your own images for your portfolio if you work as a second shooter, but many will not. It’s important to read your contract carefully before starting.

Ask a recently married friend if you can photograph her all made up in her wedding dress. Go to a really great location and pretend it’s the big day. Set up some indoor and outdoor shots in a variety of lighting and poses. You really only need a handful of well composed and well lit pictures of the bride to complement your portfolio. Get those detail shots and tell a story.

Attend a wedding photography workshop. You will have the opportunity to photograph a bride and groom who are professional models who know how to pose and look fabulous for your shots, all under the guidance of an instructor who will show you how to capture that special day in a skillful manner. Here again, check with the workshop organizer whether you can use the images for your portfolio.

Practice your skills at a friend's wedding without getting in the way of the hired photographer. Get those detail shots that tell a story. (Photo courtesy of Dyanne Wilson)

4. Photographing Real Estate.  Apply the same strategies. We all know either a real estate agent or a home seller. Ask them if you can practice shooting their property, they get some freebies and you get experience plus images for your portfolio. Again, it’s a win-win situation.

5. Photographing Food.  You don’t need to be a great cook or a talented food stylist to practice these special skills.  Just shoot some nicely presented take out food or pastries from the local bakery. The added bonus is you get to eat it when you’re done shooting!

Bake or buy some pastries at the local bakery and practice photographing food at home.

You can also practice photographing products in your own home or studio.  When I started out, I asked the local beauty salon if I could borrow their line of products (under their own brand). It looked very professional in my new portfolio and, in return, they got some nice product shots for their display.

There are plenty of low-cost, low-risk ways to build a terrific portfolio without a client base.  These are just a few ideas – the list goes on! Be resourceful, creative and professional.  You will soon be replacing those first pictures with client images. Remember to only show your best images. Quality over quantity!

Please share your experiences about how you managed to build a portfolio before your first paying client.

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

How To Build A Portfolio Without Clients

10 of the Best iPhone Photographers [by Photo Style and Genre]

Tue, 2012-09-11 07:12

A Guest Post by Misho Baranovic – author of our new iPhone Photography eBook.

The iPhone has revolutionised the ability to shoot, edit and share your photographs on one device. For many photographers, both amateur and professional, this integrated process has given them the freedom to experiment both within and across photographic styles.

To show you what’s possible with the iPhone, we’ve put together a showcase of talented photographers who use the iPhone as part of their photographic process. The photographers are from all corners of the world and span different styles including: landscape, portraiture (self and street), nature and wildlife, architecture, travel, street photography (colour and black and white), conceptual and documentary.

Four of the photographers shown below (Robert-Paul Jansen, AikBeng Chia, Oliver Lang and Benedicte Guillon) are featured in our new iPhone Photography eBook. If you are interested in understanding not on the shooting and editing techniques, but also the motivation behind using an iPhone for photography – then the book is for you.

Portraiture – Jim Darling

Since picking up his very first camera over 25 years ago, Jim Darling has been drawn to the faces and stories of people he meets. According to Darling, “using just the iPhone and any number of great photography apps, the stranger/street portrait enters a whole new level. I love the spontaneity and the quick relationship that exists between me and the subject.”


Bryan and Ola


More of Jim Darling’s work can be found on his website.

Landscape – Robert-Paul Jansen

Robert-Paul Jansen is a Dutch photographer who uses an iPhone to take magical landscape photographs in the countryside around his home in the small village of Gemonde. Jansen started shooting on his iPhone because of convenience “the camera I always have in my pocket has shown me more small miracles, more tiny details, than I ever thought possible.”

There where fairies live


No need to look further for love

You can find more of Jansen’s photography on his website.

Travel Photography – Benedicte Guillon (Paris, France)

Benedicte Guillon is masterful in her use of natural light to paint unique scenes, whether travelling the world or at home in Paris. According to Guillon, she uses an iPhone as part of her photographic process when travelling because it “allows me to feel my very first impressions when I arrive in a new place. The fact that it is the most compact camera I have makes me feel more comfortable shooting with it during the first days. I’m able to start exploring the area in a way that helps me to learn about people and the way they live.”

Eyep, Istanbul

Kadikoy, Istanbul

Essaouira Station, Morocco

More of Benedicte Guillon’s work can be found on her website.

Nature and Wildlife – Kaisa and Stanley Breeden

Kaisa and Stanley Breeden, based in tropical far-north Queensland, Australia, are usually known for their incredibly detailed focus stacking photography, as seen in their books Wildflower Country and Rainforest Country.  They have recently branched out into iPhoneography, inspired by the way the device and its many photography apps encourage people to look differently at the world around them.

Carpet Python

Gristle Fern

Docuna Rubropicta

More of Stanley and Kaisa Breeden’s work can be found on their website.

Conceptual – Richard ‘Koci’ Hernandez

Richard “Koci” Hernandez is a national Emmy® award-winning video and multimedia producer who worked as a photographer at the San Jose Mercury News for 15 years. In 2007 after taking his first mobile photograph, he was hooked on the medium’s potential and immediacy, “not only is it the camera in my hand, but it’s the printing press in my pocket and more importantly, with the rise of social networks like Instagram, it’s become my satellite dish in order to instantly transmit, globally. I can share my vision at the touch of a button and receive instant feedback”.

We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us. Winston Churchill

Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see. Martin Luther King Jr.

Depth must be hidden. Where? On the surface. Hugo von Hofmannsthal

More of Koci’s photography is available on his Flickr.

Colour Street Photography – Oliver Lang

Oliver Lang is a Sydney based street photographer. He shoots with a mobile phone for the convenience and connectivity.  He is also interested in participatory photography and the innovations that the connected culture of mobile photography is driving.

Hiding from the light, Market St, Sydney

Floating, Park Street, Sydney

Newtown, Sydney

You can find more of Oliver Lang’s work on his website.

Black and white street photography – Greg Schmigel

Greg Schmigel is not an iPhoneographer, rather a street photographer who happens to use an iPhone as his main camera of choice. Schmigel is inspired by a variety of photographers, both old and new, including: Garry Winogrand, Vivian Maier, Jules Aarons, Tim Cadman and many more. Schmigel was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1969, but has spent the majority of his life in and around the Washington, DC, Metropolitan area.

The Conversation

Pale Beauty

The Old Rabbi and his Keeper

You can find more of Greg Schmigel’s photography on his website.

Self-Portraiture – Klaudia Cechini

Klaudia Cechini is a Polish photographer who uses her iPhone for self-portraiture. Her images are often self-reflective; a visual expression of a personal emotion or feeling. Cechini notes that “It is about catching every day moments which fail to be expressed adequately by words”.




More of Klaudia Cechini’s self-portraits can be found on her Flickr.

AikBeng Chia – Documentary

AikBeng Chia wanders the Singapore back streets at all hours of the day and night looking for interesting people, traditions, and stories. According to Chia, he uses his iPhone as part of his documentary photography because “it phone helps your subject to be at ease with you. Most of the people I meet are amazed and curious that I use such a small device to capture photos instead of a DSLR or a rangefinder”.

Here are three images from AikBeng Chia’s “Will you still love me tomorrow” series about the dying art of Chinese Street Opera in Singapore.

You can find more information on this series in this blog post. For more of AikBeng Chia’s photographs, visit his website.

Architecture – Dan Cole

Dan Cole is a Seattle-area photographer who is using his iPhone to take architectural photographs, which he shares on Instagram to his over 100,000 followers.

Dan was educated at the Art Institute of Seattle and University of Washington, and has worked as an artist in the game industry for over 14 years. He has been pursuing photography since 2005, and has been an engaged member of the Instagram community since October of 2010.




You can find more of Dan Cole’s images on his website.

Are you taking photos with your iPhone as part of your photographic journey? We’d love you to share your photos in the comments below.

Inspired to learn how to use your iPhone to create beautiful images? Check out Misho’s iPhone Photography ebook (currently just $14.97 and 25% off for a limited time).

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

10 of the Best iPhone Photographers [by Photo Style and Genre]

10 Questions You Should be Asking Every Photographer

Mon, 2012-09-10 11:20

Over the last two years, I had the privilege of interacting with many talented photographers from around the world discussing their work, vision and style of photography.

My first ‘victim’ was Jyothy Karat – a photo documenter. I wanted a set of compelling and illuminating questions that could help a newbie start. But I had no clue as to what I should be asking. No amount of googling did help either.

But little did I realize at that time that I had the opportune blessing of being both ignorant and curious about photography. I sat down thinking about the questions that I wanted to be answered and clarified. After an hour or so, I did come up with some interesting questions.

Given below are a handful of questions that I use as a starter on every photographer that I interview.

Q1. What kind of gear do you use?

  • Camera body -
  • Lens -
  • Tripod -
  • Filters -
  • Flash -
  • Camera bag -
  • Mention others, if any.

Q2. Which is your favorite lens? Why?

Q3. When you go in one of your travels, what all you take with you? Why?

Q4. Among the gadgets that you own, is there something that you wish you hadn’t bought? Why?

Q5. In the field, what are your settings?

  • Aperture –
  • Shutter Speed –
  • ISO –
  • White Balance –
  • Focus – Manual/Auto
  • Image Format – RAW/JPEG

Q6. What kind of tools do you use for post processing? Explain your work flow.

Q7. How do you educate yourself to take better pictures?

Q8. Among your works, which one is your favorite? Why?

Q9. Whose work has influenced you most?

Q10. What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photos?

These questions have revealed interesting aspects and insights in to each one of the interviewees. Hope these help you to get started.

Note – Complete list of Interviews is available here.

anees k A is a photography enthusiast who likes to explore the wild. He call his clicks -’clickography‘ – all of them ‘clucked’ using his d90. He tweets as @aneeskA.

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

10 Questions You Should be Asking Every Photographer

Travel Photography Inspiration Project: Germany

Mon, 2012-09-10 07:28

Wow! It’s been a while since I have made a travel inspiration post and I do apologize. It seems I have been spending too much time traveling and not enough on the computer. But now that school is back in session here in the USA and my own wanderlust will be increasing with continued days at home, I will be rolling out more countries for the DPS Travel Photography Inspiration Project.

I’ve never been to Germany which is why I was happy to gather these images to gain some inspiration for a future trip. I hope you find them inspiring as well.

This is the thirteenth country we are covering in the reader fueled DPS Travel Photography Inspiration Project.

If you would like to be involved in the next country’s post, drop me a line here.

Sony Center by R. Cem IMRE

Description: Nice architecture meets with functionality.  Recommended for public event for all weather conditions. Google Maps:

Untitled by Jenny Downing

Many people burn wood in the winter; woodpiles therefore abound.  Here I was attracted by the patterns made by the wood and the way they formed a wave-like curve against the plain grey wall.  I cropped the image so that the bottom left corner of the window sat on the upper right golden section. 

Frankfurt sunset by Roxana Darie

To tell you a little bit about travel- photography in Germany… At least in Frankfurt you find a multitude of things to photograph, it is a multinational city, the diversity of nationalities makes it rather unique. So you can find on one street a German restaurant, an Australian one, a french bistro and a turkish antiquity shop. I just loved this. Also there are some incredible views on the Main river,  being called "Mainhattan" because of its beautiful skyline that resembles to the Manhattan one.

Lazy summer days by Raluca Melania

Bears sunbathing in Stuttgart’s Wilhelma Zoological-Botanical Garden

Stuttgart offers many unique sites for visiting, so after you check out the Mercedes Museum, the local Cathedrals and Castles, don’t forget the Wilhelma Gardens. The place is filled with wildlife and exotic flowers easily accessible to visitors, also easy to photograph, as most of the "inhabitants" are very comfortable around people (as long as the flash lights are kept to a minimum).

Old and New Reconstruction by Alessio Fangano

The facade of Cologne cathedral is a wealth of inspiration, with its contrast between Gothic elements and modern sculptures.

After WWII, the construction of Cologne cathedral was restarted. As one of the few original Gothic cathedrals still in building, a visit to this masterpiece is a must for travelers in the Rhine area.   Link:

The Gossip Barrier by Andreas Vlachos Description: Inside one of the many industrial artspaces in Berlin, trying to eavesdrop in a language I don't know... Tip: Artspaces in Berlin and the people inside them are very photogenic, a must-see! Shots like this rely on being able to combine an in-focus foreground with an abstracted out-of-focus background to tell a story, using shallow depth of field (low f-numbers).

Relaxing Sunday by Giuseppe Maria Galasso

Taken at the Chiem Lake, in Bavaria, Southern Germany. It was April and everybody was enjoying the first sunny days of the year. It was late afternoon and the shadows grew high. I liked that particular light and the whole scene.

Mann(hatten)heim by R. Cem IMRE

Description: No photo has ever changed my opinions for a city like this one. Unfortunately there is no public place available to take similar shots.

Untitled by Jenny Downing

While you are out and about, look up too.  Very often window shutters are beautifully decorated with hand-painted flowers or fruit – in this case it was poppies and grapes.  While I would normally prefer to shoot in the early morning or late afternoon, the harsh contrast from late morning sunshine did not necessarily detract from this shot.

Saint Bartholomew’s Cathedral (Dom Sankt Bartholomäus) – inside detail of the altar by Roxana Darie

You need to have a versatile lens, either a zoom lens or if you like to travel with more equipment I suggest bringing a 50 and maybe a 28/35 for wider views. I shot everything back then with my kit lens 18-105 and for travelling light it is enough.

Ruins of the Renaissance Castle of Heidelberg, in the Baden Wurttemberg area by Raluca Melania

The city of Heidelberg offers many possibilities for a curious visitor, like the a renown University, a picturesque old town, the romantic Neckar river with it’s Old Stone Bridge, the famous ruins of the Heidelberg Castle and so on. The Ruins are visible from many points of the city and are worth a visit, even if for the views from above of the city that it offers. You can usually use a stone wall to stabilize your night photos if you get to the castle after dark.

Spaetzle and Black Forest Beans by Alessio Fangano

A typical earthy meal from the Black Forrest area of Germany: traditional egg noodle, Spaetzle, served with a tangy bean puree and lots of black pepper.

When in Germany, try to scout some nice traditional restaurant.  You might be tempted by the all available pizza and kebab but German food has more to it than sausages and potatoes.

Shadows of Dresden by Andreas Vlachos The old city of Dresden as seen from across the river Elbe. Silhouettes at sunset are a very photogenic subject, in particular when one has a beautiful skyline. Shoot in the direction of the sun, hiding it behind a building if possible using a fast shutter speed.

Old Trabant by Giuseppe Maria Galasso

Trabant was the utility car for former East Germans. Everybody spoke ill of it, but after almost 25 years from Reunification there is still a bunch of them working. I wanted this image to be filled with nostalgia and used this kind of postproduction.

Surfing in green – Munich by R. Cem Imre

Description: Holiday spot of Munich in English Garden Park, a special builded canal takes interest of 4 season surfing fans.

Tip: Taking a nice shot of in two different speed moving objects with a background was really hard.

Untitled by Jenny Downing

Germany is a largely Christian country and at certain times of the year it is rare for a week to go by without some kind of religious festival being celebrated.  My visit to the Black Forest area coincided with Ascension Day (which is also celebrated as Fathers’ Day).  The church service was concluded outside in glorious late May sunshine and a long procession wove its way through the cobbled streets of the town.  This young girl glanced up as I pressed the shutter and gave me just a flicker of a smile.  For fleeting moments such as this I tend to select just the aperture (in this case f8.0) rather than shooting in manual.

Römer by Roxana Darie

Römberg square, one of the most beautiful places in the city.

December fun by Raluca Melania

Christmas decorations from a Weihnachtsmarkt hut

After the 25th of November, each year the Christmas decorations flood the markets, and bring great light to usually sullen city squares, making the task of photographing some favourite ones quite easy, if you take advantage of the existing light or use a slightly higher ISO setting. But don’t forget: always bring warm gloves or mittens and enjoy a warm cup of Gluhwein (spiced wine) after you tuck your camera away.

Plain And Modern by Alessio Fangano

Modern architecture is everywhere around Bonn, this is one of the bridges across the Rhin shot in a silhouette fashion.

Germany is a great place for hikes and walks in the Nature, just don’t forget to bring with you your camera and a bottle opener for when you will be offered a beer.

East Side Gallery #5 – The surrealistic wall by Giuseppe Maria Galasso

The Wall that once divided Berlin in two is part of the history and only few parts of it still survive, especially in the city centre. But if you follow the river you’ll find the “East Side Gallery”, an area where the Wall has been protected and is used as canvas by international artists. I liked this image for its surrealistic value: a door introduces you to a completely new and mysterious world, through the wall….

Königsee reflections by R. Cem Imre

Description: Not only spectacular panorama but also its pilgrim stories make this place "a must go place for all seasons".

Tip: One of my best investments in hobby photography. Fish eye is always fun and give you motivation to take more shots. The outcome is always worthy. I use Walimex Pro Fish-Eye Objektiv 8 mm, which costs around 300€ .

Regensburg and the Danube by Giuseppe Maria Galasso

Early morning light is probably the best one for photographing but you have to take account of your geographical position. As I wanted to record this scene of the imposing cathedral with the Danube flowing, I noticed that a sunrise shot would have had light from the wrong side. The sunset light is my best option and helped me to create a “darky” atmosphere together with the stormy sky.

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

Travel Photography Inspiration Project: Germany