Archive for June, 2015

1 Cornish Game Hen

Food photography may be more popular now than ever before. The blogosphere is exploding with pictures of food, and social media sites like Pinterest and Instagram are flooding you with never-ending streams of food photos 24/7. Creating food images that stand out in this massive sea of content is a difficult task. Here are five tips to help you get your food photos noticed.

#1 Don’t be afraid of shadows

Shadows make a scene look realistic, give your food texture, and create mood, so don’t hesitate to make them part of your food photo. To create nice, dark shadows let your light fall onto your food either from the back or the side at a fairly low angle, from just a little bit above the surface of your set. Use reflectors sparingly, or not at all. Reflectors bounce light back into the areas of your photo that your light source doesn’t reach, in other words, into the shadows. So to keep the shadows dark, don’t reflect the light.

1 Salted Caramel Candy

In the salted caramel candy photo above my light was falling onto the set from the back at a low angle and I didn’t use any reflectors.

#2 Imply action

Action makes your viewers feel as if they are part of your scene; that kind of engagement is always a good thing. Action can be literal, such as a hand holding a hamburger or pouring syrup over a stack of pancakes, but there are other (and actually easier) ways for you to suggest that something is happening in your photo. One example is a glass of freshly poured beer. Your viewers likely know that the lifespan of the foam top on a beer is only a minute, so seeing a fresh beer tells them that someone must have just been at the scene to pour it.

2 BBQ Ribs

#3 Point your lens up at food that is tall and stacked

Shooting up from slightly below the food is an unusual angle for food photography; but it can create really compelling images of tall items such as cakes, and things that are stacked, like burgers or, as in the example below, shards of toffee. The food will be towering above the viewer which makes it look big and impressive. Needless to say this angle doesn’t work for flat food, so don’t shoot a pizza with this method.

3 Toffee

#4 Create visual contrast

Contrast comes in many varieties and helps make your food photo look interesting. You can create contrast by incorporating different shapes into your photo, such as round and rectangular (or square). You can also create contrast by including colors in your photo that are on opposite sides of the color wheel (complementary), like red and green, or blue and orange. The lettuce cup photo below illustrates both of these concepts, the square dish contrasts the round lettuce cups and the red sauce provides contrast to the green lettuce.

4 Lettuce Cups

#5 Leave negative space in the image

Don’t feel that you have to fill every square inch of the frame with food or props. A little negative (empty) space gives the food room to breathe, and will keep your viewers from getting overwhelmed and feeling claustrophobic. There are no hard and fast rules that dictate where to leave negative space in a food photo but the rule of thirds is always a good place to start. Imagine your photo dissected into thirds, both vertically and horizontally, and place your subject on or near one of the four points where those lines intersect. Leave the rest of your photo empty and take a test shot. Does the scene look good to you or is it too barren? If it looks like it’s missing something, add more elements to the frame, one by one and along the imaginary lines that dissect your frame, until you have a composition that looks pleasing to you. That’s how I went about composing the Thai curry ingredients shot below.

5 Thai Curry Ingredients

I hope these tips give you some new ideas for your food photography. If you have any others please share them in the comments below.

The post 5 Tips That Will Make Your Food Photos Stand out from the Crowd by Nicole Branan appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Watermarks, love them or hate them, are a way of protecting your images. Although, just because you have one on your image doesn’t mean it won’t be stolen. If you are like me, I do it as a deterrent.

There are many ways to watermark your images. In this article I’m going to show you how to add a watermark to your images using Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop CC.

Lightroom (6) CC

Lightroom makes watermarking your images very easy, there are a couple of ways of doing it. Once you have processed your images and are ready to export them, then it is also time to watermark them.

Exporting Your Images

Select the images you want to export and watermark. You need to make sure you are in the Library module, then click on Export.

The Export Window will come up. We aren’t going to go through how to export your images, there are other tutorials that will show you how to do that. For this purpose we are concerned with the section down near the bottom, so scroll down until you see Watermarking. Take a look at the following image.


If it hasn’t been ticked, then check the box for Watermark. Next to that is a drop down menu click on that.

Simple Watermark


If you’ve never watermarked anything before, then you could simply click on Simple Copyright Watermark and it will just put your name on the photos. Though you must be registered in order for Lightroom to know your name.

Another option under that drop down menu is Edit Watermarks, so let’s go through that option.

Edit Watermarks

In this section you can edit the text for the water, or what you want it to look like.

Before you can change the simple watermark you will have to make sure that at the top where it says Watermark Style, you have selected Text. In the image below you can see the window for the Watermark Editor and in the top right corner you can see Watermark Style.


In the box underneath the image you can see the simple watermark, you can now select that and delete it, and write anything you like. The most common thing to do is put the copyright symbol, ©, with your name or business name after it. To make the copyright character on Windows simply press the Alt key and type the number 0169, on a Mac press Option+G.

There are various sliders in the Watermark editor as well, one allows you to change the opacity of the watermark. How opaque you make it is up to you. I like to make mine so that you can barely see it. A lot of people looking at images can find watermarks distracting, so it is something you should keep in mind when you are adding them to your images.

There are different things you can do to adjust the watermark, for example changing its position. There is also a size slider to make it bigger or smaller.


Add a Logo or Unique Watermark

If you have a logo or a special watermark you can use this in Lightroom too.

In the same window that we have been using, go back to the top and select graphic. Directly underneath you will see Image Options where you can load your file. You can make the same changes in regards to size, opacity and location as you did with the text watermark.


Saving the Watermark Preset

Once you have worked it all out, you don’t have to do all that every time you want to export images. You can save what you have done as a watermark preset, and give it a name (pull down the menu top left where is says “Custom” to find Save Current Settings as New Preset – select that to see the pop-up box below) . The next time you want to watermark an image, just look in the same drop down menu that you used earlier to edit the watermark, and you will find your saved preset there.


Here you can see that I have called one of my presets: watermark-3.

Photoshop CC

There are also some simple ways of watermarking in Photoshop CC as well. It is a little different, but not harder.

Prepare your image as usual, then get it ready for its designated use and how you want to add a watermark to protect it. I resize every image I put online, that is my choice, it is up to you whether you decide to or not.

Easy Watermark

Once you are ready to save your image, read for use, one of the easiest ways of watermarking it is to simply use the text tool, located in the tool bar on the left of your workspace. The image below shows where it is located.

Click on the image where you want to put the watermark, and start typing. Remember you can also add the copyright symbol the same as you did using Lightroom.

You can change the size and colour of the text at the top, in the tool options bar below the main menu (or choose Window>Character to show the text adjustment panel). Select the text to change it. You can also move it around when it is highlighted as well. The opacity slider is above the layers panel on the right, you can change it to suit your preference.


Making Your Own Logo or Watermark

You always have the option of making a custom watermark, which can be saved and used any time you need it, and can also be used in Lightroom.

To start, go to File in the main menu and click New (File>New). I usually make the size of the new image match my final image size, so the longest side is 1000 pixels. Make the width that size for this example. For the height, it doesn’t have to be that big, it just depends on what you are going to do. For this one it was 300 pixels. You will also need to make sure the Background Contents setting is set to transparent, see below.


So you can see what you are doing, you could add a new layer. Do that from the new layer icon at the bottom of the Layers Panel, or go to the main menu at the top and select Layer>New>Layer and click OK. Once that is in place use the Paint Bucket Tool which is in your tool bar, it is under the Gradient Tool icon. We are going to make the layer black, so make sure the foreground colour is black. The foreground and background colour selection is also in the tool bar, down near the bottom. There are two squares, one black and one white (click D on your keyboard which defaults the colors to black in the foreground, white in the background). Click on your new layer and it should be filled with all black.

Select the text tool (T) and make sure that white is now the foreground colour (click X on your keyboard to switch the foreground/background colors so white is now on top). Click on your image and start typing. Like you did for the Easy Watermark you can highlight it, then change the size. Once you’ve done that, you can crop it further so just the text appears.

Double click on text layer, towards the right side, and you should get the following window, Layer Style.


You can see I have checked Bevel Emboss, and the Contour option underneath. You can play around with the sliders, but just ticking those did enough for this purpose. Then the black layer is deleted. You can do that by dragging it to the rubbish bin (trash can) in the bottom right corner. You can also right click on the layer and find delete. The easiest way is to highlight the layer by clicking on it, and pressing delete on the keyboard.

It is very important when you save this file that you do so as a .png or a .psd, otherwise the transparent part of the layer will be made white and you will no longer have the watermark that you desired.


That is an easy way of doing a watermark that you can save so you can use again, but you could make a logo or something similar as well. One thing that quite a few people do is add a signature, like below.


There are a couple of ways of doing this, but the most common is using a tablet with a pen, I use a Wacom Intuos Pro. Do everything the same as you did for the last one, but instead of using the text tool, get your brush, make it small enough using the left square bracket key, then write your name.

If you find the surface too slippery, try putting a piece of paper over the top, it will help add some resistance. You can also try doing it with a mouse or touch pad. Again, save it the same way.

Easy Way of Adding Watermarks

One of the easiest ways to use the watermark you have just created is to open it, then select all (Ctrl+A on a PC and Command+A on a Mac), then copy it, (Control+C on a PC and Command+C on a Mac). Go over to your image and press Ctrl+V or Command+V to paste it; the watermark should now be in the middle of your image.

You can use the move tool (V), which is the first one in your tool panel, and move it to where you want, like you did with the Easy Watermark.

Hiding Your Watermark in the Image

With a simple watermark you can also put it into the image and sort of hide it. This is the method I use for many of my fine art images. I try to place it where it isn’t obvious, and where it could be more difficult to remove.

Once your image is ready, copy and paste your watermark onto your image. Now you need Transform it; Edit>Transform in the main menu, or by pressing Ctrl+T/Command+T. You will notice a framework around your image, as shown below.


By clicking and dragging on the corners, or in the middle of the lines, you can change the size. Click and drag to make it bigger or smaller (hold Shift down to keep the proportions the same, otherwise it will stretch out of shape). If you want to rotate it, hover around just outside a corner and a small curve arrow will appear, then you can turn it around. You can also move it by clicking in the middle and moving it where you want. As I said, find somewhere to hide your watermark in the image, hopefully somewhere not too noticeable, as demonstrated in the image below.


To apply the Transform Tool you can double click inside the box, press Enter or click it with the move tool. Then the opacity of the watermark layer is changed to help it blend, see below.


Once you get good using Transform, you can experiment with what else the tool does.

Using a Brush to Watermark Your Images

watermarking-14There is a very easy way of doing your watermark, but it takes a bit to set it up. Getting the watermark ready pretty much works the same as before, only this time you want a white background, and you need to use black to create it. Take a look at the image on the right.

Note: create your new file 2500 pixels wide as that is the maximum size for a brush. You can always make the brush smaller when you apply it to your image, but making it the largest size now will give you the best quality.

I created the signature with my Wacom Tablet, but you could also use a pen or black marker on a piece of paper and scan it, that will work just as well.

Once you have your signature, you can now make your custom brush. Go to the Edit menu and choose Define Brush Preset, and click on it.


watermarking-16Next, you will see another window pop up window ,asking you to give your brush a name. You can name it what you like, perhaps something that will remind you what it is later; I called mine Brush Signature Watermark.

Now your watermark will work just like a brush, you can make it smaller or larger (remember if you made it 2500 pixels it will hold quality up to that size with out pixelating), you can also change the colour. It works exactly the same way as the normal brush does; use the square bracket keys to make it bigger or smaller. If you want to change the colour, click on the foreground colour and the Color Picker window will appear.

I would suggest adding your watermark to a new transparent layer, so you can also change the opacity as needed.

To find your new brush, go to your brush presets, they are over on the side of your layers panel, and click on the icon that looks like small lines at the top where a drop down menu should appear.


Go down to Preset Manager and click. A new window will appear with all your brushes. Now you can click, and drag the brush you just created to a spot where it will be easier to find, like up to the top.


You are now ready to use your new watermark brush any time you want.

As I said, you can change the size of it using the square bracket keys [ ] on your keyboard. You can change its colour by clicking on the foreground colour in the tool panel and selecting a new one. You can also add layer effects like a drop shadow, emboss, etc., you can even make the text itself transparent and only leave behind the shadow.


To make text “invisible” change the Fill Opacity Under Blending Options, in the Advanced Blending section to 0%.

It will look something like this and will blend into any area:


Here is one I played with:


There are so many different ways to do a watermark and it is really up to you to work out which one will work best for you. Do you have any other tips for watermarks or methods  you use to make them? Please share in the comments below.

The post How to Watermark Your Images Using Lightroom and Photoshop CC by Leanne Cole appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Chances are you have a tourist attraction in your town. Each day people crowd around and line up to take photographs of it. If you think of the most photographed tourist spots in the United States, you probably come up with the Statue of Liberty, San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge, or Grand Canyon.

Thousands of pictures a year are taken at these destinations, however despite all of the mundane images some people can still produce incredibly unique and breathtaking photographs of these attractions.

If you study the most impressive photos you will find consistent aspects that make the mundane magnificent. To fully appreciate the qualities of such fine art, you should consider working backwards, finding inspiration in everyday objects.

A simple way to make better photos of ordinary objects

Step one – pick something, anything

Pick a simple object from around your house that you see everyday. It doesn’t have to be anything special, just something you use mindlessly each day. It could be anything from your car keys, to a spoon, or a pencil.


In this example we’ll try to make a picture of an ordinary mailbox unique and interesting. This first photo is an example of a mundane run-of-the-mill photograph of a mailbox (above). You should duplicate a similar photograph of your object. Use your camera or camera-phone, and without giving it much thought, just snap a picture of the scene.

Step two – choose a unique camera angle

There are a few variables involved in composing a unique image, but an important one we can explore is camera angle. Beginner and amateur photographers tend to take pictures at the angles in which we are used to naturally seeing things (eye level). One example is a photograph of a pet taken from a standing position looking down at the pet. This is the most common perspective of pet photographs, thus it also tends to be the least interesting or unique. While this is a often heard tip, it gets to the heart of why the angle of a photo is so important. Getting down at ground level provides a perspective that adults are not used to seeing of a pet.


Start to think about atypical angles to which people are not generally accustomed. In the pet example, simply lying on the floor and taking a photograph from the perspective of the ground, creates a much more interesting perspective.

In the mailbox example, this photograph (below) was taken from the ground, looking up. By shooting the mailbox at a wide angle, the post of the mailbox becomes slightly distorted and creates a powerful and aggressive look. The mailbox looks much farther away than it is in real life. Furthermore, who ever looks at their mailbox from the ground? It’s a perspective most people are not used to seeing so it creates a unique presentation.


In this next image you are seeing the mailbox from the perspective of the flag. The subject becomes the flag, and creates a sensation that the flag has a meaningful and powerful purpose; there is mail that needs to be picked up!


That’s it!

When taking pictures think about how you can present the photo in a unique fashion. Is there any interesting angle you can get? Can you lie on the ground and look up? Can you get far above and provide a birds-eye view? Look at the people around you, and try to do something different from what everyone else is doing. Often we might see photographers in these awkward positions and think they look silly, but the result is usually a great photograph.

Go beyond just shooting the easy way

Chances are if the picture you are taking is convenient and easy, it won’t be original and breathtaking. Try to get to a place no one else is willing to get to, like climbing a wall, or laying on the ground, or holding the camera high up above your head. These unique angles, blended with the willingness to get into positions others aren’t willing do, typically provides photographic results that are above and beyond the norm.

Even with the most mundane objects, taking some time to think about how you can take the photo differently, can result in a stunning perspective, or unique angle, that makes the ordinary extraordinary and the mundane interesting.

The post Making the Mundane Magnificent: Finding Inspiration in Everyday Objects by Justin Varuzzo appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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4 Tips to Learn to Live Through Photography

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The magic of an instant

What is photography anyway? It is a fraction of a second of eternity that you try to capture, with better or worse technique, with deeper or shallower depth of field. But, in short, that’s all about photography, and it is this magic what makes photography an art. The essence of why many of us like photography, goes beyond what we can capture with our DSLR and show to others. It is the experience of the moment, and how one learns through the years to be aware of the present. It was just a few months ago when I learned what mindfulness was about, and I immediately noticed the similitude with how I experience photography. It is all about being present in the moment that one is trying to capture.

The journey back home

The journey back home – something so magnificent like ephemeral cloud formations could pass right away if you are immersed in past or future thoughts instead of being present.

1) Be there

To be present involves being aware of oneself in the present moment. The fact that one is observing and capturing a situation is not enough to take a great picture. I am a visual person. There is large chance that since you like photography, you are as well. That means that you learn better by watching a film than by reading a book. You then may prefer a figure or infographic, rather than its explanation. In my case, long before I got my first serious camera, and committed myself to learn the techniques and nuances to show other people the way I see the world, I already enjoyed looking at other people’s pictures. However, it was seldom that I actually observed the world around me.

Photography teaches us that those amazing pictures we love viewing from other photographers, are actually out there if you dare to look. I don’t remember a particular moment when I realized I was alive. There was no such an experience. But I somehow learned through photography that the best camera obscura that I can count with is my eyes. The best film is my memory. And it is awesome because it also comes along with many other senses. Once you realize that, you discover that the difference between a snapshot and a great picture is that: for the latter you acknowledge all the angles of the scene, you walk your picture before you take it, you breathe it, you feel it, and then compose it. You ARE in the picture as the one capturing it. And you want somebody else to BE there with you seeing the same scene.

2) Chase the moments

Daddy when will it stop

Daddy, when will it stop?: This is my daughter’s frustration for not being able to go outside on a long, boring summer Sunday. It wasn’t until I realized her feelings that I knew what to photograph.

You have to be quick if you are for example, a street photographer, but that’s how life is in cities, right? However, there is not much difference than, let’s say, a fashion production in the sense that it is a fraction of a second, just a moment that you are able to transmit into a picture. We have to learn to chase the moments… to do so we have to BE in the scene.

If you run out of battery, or you find yourself without your bulky DSLR with you, then simply capture it in your mind. I literally make the sound “click” in my mind. You don’t need to, that is my own mental issue. But whatever it is that you like to chase and capture, whether it is your cat, a pint of beer, or the garbage on a street – be there. Paraphrasing Henri Cartier-Bresson, most of the situations that you see around you will repeat if you wait long enough. Yes, even those pictures that you missed because you didn’t bring your camera with you. Be present to know what you are after. Learn about your subject, revisit the site and you will get the shot you want.

3) Know what you feel

Xmas eve in Oslo

Christmas eve in Oslo – This time, it was my feeling of confinement on a cold Christmas eve that I tried to capture. Me and my friend (in the picture) are used to warm and sunny Christmas festivities. Not this time.

If the scene you are watching makes you angry, then be angry and capture angriness. Be aware of the weight of the camera in your hands. Be aware of your finger pressing the shutter in the moment you do. Reflect about why did you choose to press it just then, and not before. Watch the object’s geometry, its beauty. Do you really want to be there? Does the marriage of that couple you are photographing make you happy? What is it that makes you happy? Their smiles? All the people celebrating together? You don’t need to do anything else with those feelings. Let them be in you, and let them go away. But just when you realize them, capture that moment in a picture. Capture with the camera the pictures you would like to share, but capture for yourself every fraction of a second of your life. BE there where you are.

4) Use your other senses

Smelly shoes

Smelly shoes – When I see this picture I can’t stop feeling the heat coming from these shoes that have walked who knows how long under the sun.

To some extent, you can also transmit with a picture, what your other senses were capturing. This is one of the biggest challenges of photography. Smell, listen, feel, taste. To me, the perfect picture is one that transmits all those other sensations, smells, noises, emotions, and temperature apart from what you are just watching. That takes a level of mastery that not everyone achieves. But if you are still there like me, on your long way to becoming a great photographer (even if we may never become a renown one), learning photography in its broader sense is an excellent way to learn to be present in that short lapse of time that our lives are meant to last.

Rotten fly

Rotten fly – What are your feelings about this dead fly?

The post 4 Tips to Learn to Live Through Photography by Alejandro Ruete appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Sunset on Long Beach Island (NJ)

I watched the future football Hall of Fame quarterbacks practicing on the sidelines just before the Super Bowl. Although they had thrown the football perhaps millions of times before, they were practicing their throwing before the big game. They believe in the old (but true) saying, “Practice makes perfect.”

It’s important for us as photographers to continually practice our skills as well. Although we may have pressed the shutter button a million times, we need to be sure that we are always “ready for the big game”. Like the Super Bowl quarterbacks, it is important that we keep practicing our skills; whether we are professionals, aspiring professionals, or enthusiasts.

Why Practice?

Old Barney

Old Barney lighthouse in Barnegat Light, NJ

Although practice does not make perfect (we can practice doing things the wrong way), it does make our techniques more natural, and more permanent. For example, using back-button focus on my camera the first time seemed strange to me, but after practicing it over and over, it become an automatic technique that I use without even thinking about it. It’s a challenge to try turning off your brightly lit LED display on your camera once the theatre is darkened, but with practice it’s an automatic, and easy process.

Practice not only gives us a chance to make our shooting techniques more automatic, it gives us a chance to try new techniques. Practice gives us an opportunity to learn new poses, try a new lenses, or try a new post-processing technique to enhance our photographs before we use them in a client shoot. As a photographer, learning never stops; practice is a good way to try out things with no pressure or fear of failure.

Maybe I’ll Practice Tomorrow

Unless we are full time photographers or we have the luxury of having the time to shoot whenever we want, finding time to practice can be a challenge. Life is busy; there are so many things that need to be done that we are sometimes tempted to say, “Maybe I’ll practice tomorrow.” Sometime we need motivation to force us to make the effort, despite other things that may get in the way, to practice our photography techniques.

Picture of the Day


If someone asked me what the biggest thing was that has helped me to improve my photography skills, I would have to say that it was my commitment to what I call the Picture of the Day. A little more than a year ago I started trading photographs that I took with my sister who is a photography enthusiast. Very quickly that practice spread to other family members and friends. Today, I send a new photograph to more than a hundred people every morning. The list continues to grow. But it’s not the number of people that receive the Picture of the Day that is the motivator, it’s the commitment to taking, and sending the picture, that benefits me as a photographer.

Even though my photography business focuses mainly on people (weddings, portraits and events); my Picture of the Day photos may include people, animals, architecture and landscapes. People that receive my Picture of the Day have commented that opening my morning email is like opening a box of chocolates because “you never know what you’re going to get”. Sometimes my pictures are not meant to be works of art, but rather just funny, like the shot of my dog Clyde (above), sitting by the dinner table with his sunglasses on, waiting for dinner. The zoo is always a great place to take pictures, so I make that part of my list of places to shoot.


Jaguar at the Elmwood Park Zoo (Norristown, PA)

Admittedly, I shoot most days, but not every day. I make time during the week to practice shooting; I am committed to take that time despite everything else. I have my camera with me most of the time, and many of my shots are unplanned. I stockpile the shots so that I always have a reserve of pictures to use for my morning emails.

How has the Picture of the Day Helped Me?

My commitment to the Picture of the Day has helped me to grow as a photographer more than anything, including the following:

Kids and Mom

Four month old lion cubs with mom (Philadelphia Zoo)

  • Knowing that I need a new picture every day motivates me to get out and shoot, even if I am not shooting the things that my business is focused on.
  • Knowing that my Picture of the Day needs to be different than all of those that I previously sent out, motivates me to try new techniques and to look at things more creatively. That has helped me to start thinking out-of-the-box and has greatly expanded my composure skills for when I am shooting weddings or portraits for clients.
  • Shooting for the Picture of the Day has given me the opportunity to try and to practice with new lenses and filters, so that when the time comes to use them in a business shoot, I am ready.
  • My Picture of the Day has enabled my business to grow, as people that receive my email every morning are reminded that I am in the photography business. I can’t think of a more effective, less costly marketing tool.
  • Lastly, shooting for my Picture of the Day has been just plain fun!!!

Make the Commitment Today

Nina and Pinta

Nina and Pinta replicas at visit to Viking Village (Barnegat Light, NJ)

If you are not just a picture snapper, but rather, serious about photography – make the commitment to start your own Picture of the Day project today. Like mine, it can start small and grow over time (I had only one person on my list initially.) I sometimes post my Picture of the Day on my personal Facebook page which adds more visibility to my work. This visibility also adds to my list of people that subscribe to my Picture of the Day.

How do you practice your photography?

The post Take this Picture of the Day Project to Practice and Help You Grow as a Photographer by Frank Slezak appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Proper Exposure at Night - Millenium Bridge example

Exposure settings for this shot: Shutter speed of 4 seconds; aperture at f/5.6; ISO 400.

Night photography can be much more rewarding than photography during the day. Because everything looks different at night, you don’t need to go somewhere exotic to get great pictures. Bridges, attractions, and buildings are usually brightly lit at night, and places that might seem rather pedestrian during the day – can make stellar photography subjects at night. Further, you can take your time when photographing at night, more so than during the day. There are generally less people out, and you don’t have to worry about the light changing.

The main challenge when photographing at night is getting a proper exposure. During the day, you can just walk around and hand hold your camera without worrying about camera shake. In addition, because of the amount of available light during the day, you don’t need to worry about shooting at a high ISO and the resulting digital noise. At night, however, hand holding is generally not an option and digital noise can be a major problem.

The principles of exposure work the same way at night as during the day – you will just need a lot more time to allow light into your camera. It goes without saying that you will need a tripod to stabilize your camera, and a remote shutter release to keep from moving anything during the exposure. But with these changes made, you can get out and explore the night with your camera. When you do, here are some tips to keep in mind to help you maximize the experience.

Proper Exposure at Night - ouvre example

Exposure settings for this shot: Shutter speed of 4 seconds; aperture at f/11; ISO 400.

# 1.  Work in Manual Mode

The first tip is to make sure you are shooting in Manual mode. In Manual mode, you will set the shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. This puts you in complete control over you camera.

When shooting at night, your camera will be on a tripod and you will be working slowly. There is no need to use any automatic mode because of the speed provided. Further, there might be a little trial and error with the exposure settings (the camera can be easily fooled by the great differences in bright and dark areas of the picture) and you want to make sure you have plenty of control over this process. Manual mode gives you that control.

#2.  Make sure you are comfortable with Bulb Mode

Manual mode only works for exposures up to 30 seconds. If you need a shutter speed that is longer than 30 seconds, the only option for getting a proper exposure is Bulb mode. Therefore, while you should generally shoot in Manual mode, you should also be comfortable with Bulb.

In Bulb mode, the shutter stays open as long as you hold the shutter button down. When you press the button, the shutter opens. When you release the button, the shutter closes. To avoid introducing any shake or movement into the exposure, using a remote shutter release is imperative when using this mode.

With Bulb mode you can make your exposure several minutes long. If your remote shutter release does not have a timer built-in to it, make sure you keep another timer handy (your phone may have one). If your remote does not have a timer, make sure it has a locking feature so you do not have to hold it the entire time.

Proper Exposure at Night - Pigeon Point example

Exposure settings for this shot: Shutter speed of 6 seconds; aperture at f/5.6; ISO 1600.

#3.  Shoot in Raw

When shooting at night, it is particularly important to make sure you are shooting in Raw format. The Raw files coming out of most cameras are 14 bit files, whereas JPEGS are only 8 bit files. The more bits, the higher the range of available colors and the smoother the transitions between them.

The reason shooting in Raw is even more important at night, is that most of the colors that a camera can capture are at the top (bright) end of the scale. The range of available colors at the low (dark) end of the scale is extremely limited. At night, your pictures will almost always include a large dark portion. A JPEG file, with its reduced color options, you will likely introduce banding in your pictures.

#4.  Bring a flashlight

Knowing your camera controls really well pays dividends at night. You can make changes to the settings without being able to see everything. Nevertheless, a small flashlight is tremendously useful. Keep one handy to make sure you can see everything on your camera and tripod. It occasionally comes in handy for lighting areas of your picture as well.

Proper Exposure at Night - Brooklyn Bridge

Exposure settings for this shot: Shutter speed of 10 seconds; aperture at f/9.0; ISO 200.

#5.  Choose proper settings

Proper settings will always depend on the situation. Nevertheless, there are some ways you should bias your settings when shooting at night. Here are a few:

  • Aperture: Open up your aperture more at night than you would during the day (i.e., use a lower f/number). Most night photographs tend to be of shots on a narrower plane than shots during the day. Further, the background and sky will be black anyway and you will not need as large a depth of field. The larger aperture also has the benefit of letting more light into the camera.
  • ISO: Keep your ISO setting as low as you can. Night photography always means there will be dark areas in your pictures, and these dark areas inevitably lead to digital noise. Raising the ISO will compound the problem.
  • Shutter speed: Whereas shutter speed might be the first exposure setting you worry about during the day, it should generally be the last one you think about at night. Since you will be shooting from a tripod, you can let the shutter stay open as long as you need. If you have traffic (streaking lights), a fountain, or running water in your picture, the longer shutter speed will actually benefit your pictures anyway. The only exception is high winds, or other instability impacting your rig.

One other setting to check is the Long Exposure Noise Reduction, which will be in your camera’s menu. If you enable this option, the camera will make two exposures, one normal and one with the shutter closed, which the camera will use as a comparison to filter out noise from the normal picture. Photos taken with this option enabled will take twice as long to expose, but will be less noisy.

#6.  Meter for the highlights

Determining the proper exposure level can be tricky at night. Each metering mode presents its own challenges. If you use evaluative metering, the camera is likely to be confused. If you use spot or partial metering, the meter will jump around depending upon whether you are aimed at a bright light or the dark background.

One answer to this problem is to use spot metering and to expose for the highlights. Set your meter between +1 and +2 as you meter on the highlights. The +1 -2 setting will keep your highlights looking bright, but at the same time, will keep the highlights within the dynamic range of the camera. Do not worry as much about the dark portions of the picture. If the dark areas happen to turn black, well, it is nighttime after all, and there is supposed to be some black. Take a test shot and adjust as necessary.

Proper Exposure at Night - Dallas example

Exposure settings for this shot: Shutter speed of 5 seconds; aperture at f/16; ISO 400.

#7.  Take a test shot at a high ISO

Speaking of test shots, you should make liberal use of them when shooting at night. However, you don’t want to sit around for 30 seconds, a minute, or even longer, waiting to see if the test shot is going to work out. The best way to get a test, without wasting a lot of time doing so, is to take tone at a much higher ISO than you would ordinarily use.

For example, let’s say you think the proper exposure settings for a given shot are: 30 seconds at f/5.6 with an ISO of 400. Rather than taking that shot and waiting around 30 seconds for the exposure, crank up the ISO and speed up the shutter speed by the same number of stops. The exposure level will be the same, but it will take a lot less time to expose the test picture. In this case, I would raise the ISO by four stops to ISO 6400 (raising it one stop to moves it to ISO 800, one stops increases it to ISO 1600, three stops to ISO 3200, and four stops gets you to ISO 6400). That allows you to reduce your shutter speed by four stops to only 2 seconds (reducing the shutter speed by one stop shortens it to 15 seconds, two stops shortens it to 8 seconds, three stops to 4 seconds, and four stops gets the shutter speed down to 2 seconds).

When you are satisfied with your exposure, just decrease the ISO and increase (lengthen) the shutter speed by an equal amount to get back to the final settings.

#8. Bracket your photos

Night photography is one area where you will want to bracket your photos. Blending and HDR can work wonders at night, but even if you are against such processing, bracket your photos anyway. Think of it as exposure insurance.

Proper Exposure at Night - San Antonio Riverwalk example

Exposure settings for this shot: Shutter speed of 30 seconds; aperture at f/11; ISO 200.

#9.  Verify the exposure with the Histogram

After you have taken your exposures, check them on the LCD on the back of your camera. The picture on the LCD will show you if the exposure is close to correct, but it is better to also check the histogram to make sure the exposure is within the dynamic range of your camera. Remember to keep the highlights on the right side of the histogram, but avoid a spike on the far right. If the dark areas spike on the left side the histogram, that is okay since parts of your picture are supposed to be black. In general, however, keep as much of the image as possible within the range of the histogram, but err on the side of keeping the highlights from blowing out.

Exposing at Night

If you are not totally comfortable with exposure, then doing some night photography will get you there in a hurry. You will have your camera on a tripod in unchanging light, so you can take as much time as you need to think through the exposure, and get it right. You’ll be forced to take into account the highlights and shadows when you meter, then study them on your histogram. Taking test shots, and making adjustments, will help you see the interrelationships between the exposure controls.

When you follow these steps, you are likely to get some great shots. Every city lights up its major attractions, bridges, and museums – often in colorful ways. A scene that might be boring during the day could be a great photo at night. Often, because of the effects of the lights, you’ll actually be surprised at what you end up with. Taking your time and applying these tips to nail the exposure will help you maximize the experience.

The post Tips for Getting Proper Exposure for Night Photography by Jim Hamel appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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How to Avoid Loss of Your Digital Photos

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Mariam S

By Mariam S

Nowadays almost all photos are taken using various digital devices. In the era of paper photos, the main photo destructors were natural disasters like fires, and also such a phenomenon as discolouration. Modern digital photos face mainly the same dangers – fires, floods, and so on. Surprisingly, digital photos also have some equivalent to discoloration – degradation of a photo storage device over time. However, apart from these dangers inherited from paper predecessors, digital photos are subject to new specific dangers, for example: loss of photos due to a storage device failure. Let’s discuss in more detail what dangers digital photos might face and how you can avoid many of them.

Generally speaking, there are three bottlenecks where you can lose photos – when taking photos, when transferring them, and in storage.

#1 Loss of photos in camera

Immediately after you have taken a photo there is only a single copy of it. If this copy is lost, you can in no way get it back. In all fairness, such cases are relatively rare. Even if data recovery software doesn’t help, as a last resort you can send a memory card to a repair lab in the hope that the hardware specialists can help. However, if it fails, all you have left to do is to say “goodbye” to the photos because there was only a single copy of them.

For example, you shoot a football match and then on the way home lightning hits your camera and all that was left was a pile of ashes. This is what contracts call “force majeure” and therefore nothing can be done. However, history has some funny stories. A man had dropped a camera into the sea; a year later some divers raised it and surprisingly the photos were readable. Divers were even able to identify a camera owner by the photos and then returned him his “property” (read the full story here).

Image 2


Here, there is little advice for you because surely you know better how not to drop the ball, say due to a camera failure or something like that, when shooting a unique event.

There are some tips on memory card health that will help though:

Also remember to turn off your camera before removing or changing your memory card or battery. Not doing so can result in a card crash and lost images.

#2 Transferring photos

The process of transferring digital photos from your camera to computer is akin to producing paper photos from the negative. In both cases you duplicate photos from a single copy you have, whether it would be a negative from an old camera, or a flash card in a modern digital device.

In the film days, the process of transferring photos to new data storage was laborious, took a lot of time, and required certain skills and equipment; with digital photos the process becomes radically simplified. However, strange as it may be, nowadays the chance of losing photos during transfer is still significant.

Earlier, when developing film you had to stick to certain rules. Ignoring these rules inevitably resulted in destruction of photos. For example, one such rule says that all actions with negatives must be performed in a darkroom. In case of digital photos there are also some rules, however, people tend not to follow them because ignoring them doesn’t always lead to loss of photos. Those “less fortunate” people who neglected the rules and lost their photos, then have to bother with photo recovery.

Let’s look at the rules:

  • Always use the “safely remove hardware” option when ejecting a memory card or any other removable device from a computer. Otherwise, the operating system may not have time to handle data on the removable device properly. That sometimes can lead to the RAW file system issue, the typical symptom of which is when Windows shows you the message like this:
    Image 3 small
  • Don’t eject a memory card from a working camera, for the same reasons as in the previous case.
  • Always monitor the battery charge. If battery runs low at the wrong time, it may result in a file-system failure on the memory card. Generally, it is better to use a card reader device for transfers since it has no such problems.
  • Transfer photos regularly. By doing so, in the worst-case scenario would be that you lose only you’re latest photos, rather than an archive for the entire year.

However, it should be noted that all listed above typically don’t destroy photos themselves. It just leads to a file-system failure which is pretty well cured by data recovery software, given that you have not formatted a card.

#3 Storage

In general, loss of data in storage is bad form. Immediately after taking pictures you have just one chance to copy them, and you still can write data loss off to an “irresistible force of nature”, for example. Once you have enough time to create a copy of the photos, however, data loss is less excusable.

Charles Wiriawan

By Charles Wiriawan

Do not trust only one storage technology

Do not rely upon only one storage technology, even if you think it is very reliable. No data storage technology, be it a fault-tolerant RAID or modern Storage Spaces from Microsoft, can replace a good old backup. More than that, a proper backup procedure requires an off-site copy, maintained in some physically separate location. This is to prevent simultaneous loss of both original,
and backup copies to a fire or theft.


  • Off-the-shelf NAS devices like Synology and QNAP have several indicators that can be green, yellow, and red. These indicators significantly simplify monitoring of the device “health” – just remember what typical indications are, then glance at the NAS at least once a day. Extinguished or red lights are a reason for concern.
  • If you store photos on a Windows PC, use special software to monitor your disk state. S.M.A.R.T. is a technology used in hard drive self-diagnostics. Fairly often, it can predict hard drive failure ahead of time. A monitoring tool requests S.M.A.R.T. status of the device periodically and if S.M.A.R.T. data deviates from the normal values, the tool will alarm you so that you can back up the data.
  • Check the S.M.A.R.T. state of your hard drives at least once a month.

Photo recovery tips

If you have lost some photos and are looking for a way to recover them, there is no need to panic because photo recovery from a camera memory card is one of the easiest, and well-established data recovery tasks. All you need is to download and install any data recovery software – there exist both paid and free options – select a memory card from the device list, and see what it brings up.

If you are not satisfied with the quality of the recovery, it makes sense to try several tools since recovery algorithms used in various software may differ in some way. Note that data recovery tools, for the most part, are read-only so they will not destroy anything on your card. Windows CHKDSK is the significant exception to this rule – it sometimes does make matters worse.

Below are some tips on how to achieve the best result when recovering photos from a memory card:

  • Stop using a card once you see that something is wrong. If the camera’s behaviour is unusual, stop taking any new photos until you clear up the situation with the existing photos.Image 4
  • If possible, use a card reader device when recovering data. It is stable and provides better performance than a cord and direct connection to the camera.


    By Matthew

  • Do not take new photos once you realize that you need to recover data. Usually, with each new photo you lose a capability to recover one previously deleted photo.
  • Ascertain in advance what your camera actually does when you format a card. If the camera uses a “complete” (also called low-level) format by default, change it to a “quick” format. Thereby, if you format a card accidentally you still can recover photos from it; after a complete format, all the data will be overwritten and not recoverable.

Bonus – discolouration

In early days, when archives were stored on magnetic tape, it was critical that the tapes must be rewound regularly. Otherwise, the data became unreadable because magnetic fields mixed between adjacent layers of tape (what was then known as crosstalk effect).

Some place the photos on CDs and then do not check them for years. In five years one can easily find that at best only half of the CDs are readable. CDs are not suitable for long-term storage and should only be considered as one of the backup options for a short period of time.

Those who keep their photos on old hard disks, in ten years will not be able to find a proper connector anywhere else except in a museum. If you are going to store photos for a long time you should use the most modern devices to increase the chances of find a compatible setup in the future. This is sometimes called “future-proofing”. However, you should not bet on the ultramodern technologies since it may happen that the technology does not stick and therefore, say in five years, you will not be able to find compatible components (think beta versus VHS).

Sophia Maria

By Sophia Maria

Generally speaking, digital discolouration differs from analog (paper) discolouration, only in that you can discern at least something on a discoloured paper photo, while a digital picture is destroyed immediately and completely.

Image 5

So some care and planning on your part can help you avoid losing your images, or in the worst-case scenario, quickly able to recover them. What’s your disaster avoidance plan?

The post How to Avoid Loss of Your Digital Photos by Alexey Gubin appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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We’ve all at one point been enamoured by the effects produced by tilt-shift or PC (perspective control) lenses.

Even in wide-angle shots, the extremely narrow field of focus transforms the scene into a surreal miniature world. It can be hard to decipher whether it’s actually a close-up of a tiny model scene, or the result of the visual trickery that a tilt-shift lens can produce.

Tilt-shift effect applied to a beach scene.

The tilt-shift effect can be used on more than city street scenes. Use your imagination and be creative!

Besides the nifty miniaturization effect, these high-end specialty lenses are imperative for professional architectural photography. Tilt-shift lenses are basically split into two, parallel to the lens, elements and enable you to tilt the front of the lens barrel in relation to the rear portion, or slide it parallel.

Without actually changing the physical location of the camera, these adjustments allow you to alter the perceived perspective. The most practical application of this effect is to eliminate certain types of distortion, especially the keystone effect.

The keystone effect refers to the convergence of parallel lines which occurs when a camera’s sensor is not parallel to them. You have seen this distortion a million times when the camera was pointed upward at a tall building. It looks as if the building is about to fall over backwards, and it creates the illusion that it is wider at the bottom and continually narrows to the top. The same thing happens with horizontal lines but is often less noticeable, or detrimental to the image.

Although tilt-shift lenses have other practical uses, these are the two that can be replicated effectively in post-processing: creating a miniature effect, and fixing certain kinds of lens distortion.

Eliminating Converging Lines Distortion

Correcting lens distortion in Lightroom (LR) is fairly straightforward with a couple of considerations to keep in mind. I’ll use a night shot of the Petronas Tower in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia as an example.

1. Straighten first.

If the image you are working with has a distinct horizontal or vertical line which you know to be level or plumb, use the Straighten tool located within the Crop tool (keyboard shortcut R) to align the image before making any lens corrections.

The Level tool can be found beside the Align slider or activated by holding CTRL key.

The Level tool can be found within the Crop panel beside the Align slider, or activated by holding CTRL key.

To align the image using a vertical line, it must be near the center of the image due to the distortion which you are about to fix. With the Crop tool active, you can either grab the Level tool located beside the Angle slider, or hold down the CTRL key and drag the cursor along the chosen line and LR will rotate the image to level or plumb.

Note: new in LR6 or LRCC is the Auto function of the crop tool which attempts to do this for you. Alternatively, the Rotate slider in Lens Corrections can be used with similar results.

2. Open the Lens Corrections panel and click on the Manual tab.

Distortion corrections are made in the Lens Corrections panel.

Distortion corrections are made in the Lens Corrections panel.

3. Check the Constrain Crop box.

Note: As is often the case in life, you don’t get something for nothing. When LR manipulates the image to fix these lines, it must also crop it. You can also crop it manually after you adjust the image, but it is easy to inadvertently leave a little gray strip somewhere along the edge of your image by not cropping it enough.

4. Adjust the sliders

There are several ways to adjust sliders: dragging the slider itself, clicking the name of the slider and using the +/- keys, clicking the value on the right of the slider and dragging the cursor left or right, clicking the value and entering the desire value or clicking the value and using the arrow keys to make micro adjustments. I recommend the latter for accuracy.

5. Show the grid

Hovering the mouse over any of the sliders will show a grid over the image to help guide your adjustment. For this image, a -18 compensation straightens the lines right up.

A before and after showing corrections for converging lines.

A before and after showing corrections for converging lines.

If you plan on shooting architecture and utilizing this feature instead of dropping $1,400 on a tilt-shift lens, it may benefit you to activate the crop tool (keyboard shortcut R) to get an idea of how much LR cropped your image. This will give you a point of reference while composing scenes in the future.

Creating a Miniaturization Effect

The tilt-shift effect of severely softening most of an image to isolate a small sharp strip can be simulated in post-processing very effectively. Although there are a couple of different ways to achieve this effect in Lightroom, I find the following to be the easiest and most effective.

Golden Gate Bridge with the tilt-shift effect applied.

The tilt-shift effect can add another level of interest to certain photographs.

Keep in mind that not every photo is a good candidate for this effect. You can find good advice about image selection in the article An Introduction to Tilt-Shift Photography.

1. Process the image as you normally would.

Boosting sharpening, contrast and saturation can help exaggerate the effect.

2. Activate and setup the Adjustment Brush (keyboard shortcut K).

Drag the Sharpening slider all the way down to -100. I also like to reduce Clarity which adds a bit of glow and exacerbates the effect.

3. Show the Mask Overlay box (keyboard shortcut O)

This will allow you to clearly see where the effect is being applied (shift+O will rotate through different mask colors, you may find red is better one image whereas green may work on another).

5. Adjust the brush settings

Setup such things as brush size, flow, etc. Spend a few minutes experimenting with different combinations of these settings to find what works best for your image. CTRL+Z (CMD+Z on Mac) is your friend here.

6. Blur most of the image less a small strip

Holding down the shift key while you click and drag the brush horizontally across your image will apply the effect in a straight line. The goal is to blur the entire image except for a small strip. Make one line across the upper boundary and one line across the lower boundary of the strip you wish to isolate. You can then release the shift key and paint in the remainder of the areas. The in focus strip should account for 20 per cent or less of the image area. If the strip is too big, the effect will be weak.

Holding down the shift key will keep the brush level to paint a straight line.

Holding down the shift key will keep the brush level to paint a straight line.

7. Repeat to increase the effect.

Repeating the previous step several times will compound the effect. To repeat the step, click on New at the top of the Adjustment Brush panel – this will remove the mask to reveal the most recently applied effects, and allow you to add a new pin (brush strokes) and repeat the process.

Before applying the effect to a photo of Penang, Malaysia.

Before applying the effect to a photo of Penang, Malaysia.

After application of the miniaturization effect.

After application of the miniaturization effect.

The effect can also be applied using the Graduated Filter tool but I find it ends up blurring the entire image to some extent and is less effective.

This is a starting point from which to experiment with the effect. Everybody’s tastes differ, so although the general process will remain constant, go crazy with the other variables and see what happens!

The post How to Simulate Tilt-Shift Lens Effects Using Lightroom by Jeremie Schatz appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Do I Need a Photo Release For That?

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With the increasing presence of quality Smartphone cameras and affordable, pro-grade compact digital cameras, there are more people than ever who have the power of taking photos. But how many people are aware of the legal constraints that come with being a photographer, even on a hobby or amateur basis? Perhaps more importantly, how many of us know when it’s legally okay, or not okay, for someone to snap a photo of ourselves?


The answers to these questions are important for both photographers and photo subjects to know, so let’s examine some of the laws that have to do with photography. Before we dive into it, let’s also establish that these are the rules that apply in the United States in particular. If you are based elsewhere, or an American traveling abroad, it may be worth it to investigate photography rules pertaining to specific countries. Also, please note that I am not a legal professional and this is simply advice from another photographer based on experience and consensus of other online sources.

Public versus private places

First of all, let’s be clear that you are always free to sell photos of any subject without permission or a signed release, with one big exception: You cannot legally photograph people in private places without their expressed permission. In the United States, every citizen is guaranteed a reasonable expectation of privacy, meaning if you are in your home or on private property, you have the right to prevent someone from taking your photo if they are standing on your private land. However, the moment you step out into public areas, such as a public park, you forfeit your right to privacy and may be photographed by anyone without your consent. Thinking of this from a photographer’s perspective, it’s also important to realize that no one can legally prevent you from taking a photo in a public space, but they can do so in private spaces.

Editor’s note: Just because you have the legal right to take someone’s photo it doesn’t mean you have the right ethically if they do not wish to be photographed. Be respectful of others as you’d want for your own wishes.

2nd Annual Through the Eyes Of Art Event And The Value Of Black Life Concert

Example of a private space

Using someone’s likeness for promotion

Despite the above notion of freely photographing people in public spaces, it doesn’t mean you can do as you please with those photos. This is where the idea of a person’s likeness comes into play, and this same concept also applies to recognizable private property. In a legal sense, one’s likeness has to do with a representation of that person or private property being used to promote something, such as a product, service, or idea. Every person, whether it be a celebrity or your average Joe/Jane, has the right to protect his or her likeness.

Put into practice, this means that if you take a photo of someone in a public space and were to sell it to a publication or newspaper, you’re likely within your rights of doing so since that person and photo is not being used for the sake of promoting anything. However, you would be restricted from selling or using that photo for any sort of promotion, such as an ad for your product, service, or cause.  The reasoning is simple: that person didn’t consent to having their likeness used to further your promotion. Imagine being dedicated to a specific political party and seeing your mugshot used in an advertisement to promote the opposing party’s campaign. If you didn’t agree to it, you would have the grounds to ask the opposing campaign to take your photo down.


To use this photo to promote something or sell something you would need a release

When photo model releases come into play

This idea of protecting one’s likeness is where the need for photo model releases becomes necessary. As a photographer, it all comes down to intent. If you snap a photo knowing there’s a high chance you’ll use it to promote something, it’s best to evaluate that scenario for any instances where a model release might be necessary. In fact, photo releases aren’t just for people. Depending on the use of the photo, you may also need a property release for privately owned buildings. Again, it all comes back to how you plan to ultimately use the final image, as well as the specific rules set in place by the agency or company selling the images. Below are some specific scenarios when you’ll want to have a photo (model or property) release.

Stock Photography

Selling images as stock photography can be a way to make a small, yet somewhat steady side income, but it does come with the expectation that any shots with identifiable people or landmarks come with a photo release to make them commercially licensed. The rules may vary according to the stock agency you work with, but most agencies require releases because there’s a high chance customers will use the photos for commercial purposes to sell something. In these cases, the likeness of people will need to be protected, or at least authorized, for possible commercial use via the photo model release.

Editorial Photography


Could be used for editorial

There is one exception to the stock photo rule. In some cases, stock images of people can be sold without a photo release, but only for editorial use in magazines, newspapers, textbooks or other such publications. The one catch to this scenario is that the payout for editorial stock photos is usually significantly lower than if the same photo had a signed release and a proper commercial license. If you have any aspirations of making good money by selling stock photos, you should definitely consider going the commercial licensing route.

Photography Contests

With the number of photo contests available today, many photographers wonder if model or property releases are needed to submit photos to these contests. Again, it all comes down to intent. Some contests are hosted by companies who may want to use those photo entries for possible commercial use, in which case they’ll need signed photo releases. However, consider a magazine that wants to publish winning photos in an upcoming issue, or print images for an exhibit or gallery. In this case, photo releases most likely won’t be necessary. The bottom line is be sure to read the fine print before submitting your work to any photography contests and be on the lookout for how your submitted photos may be used.


In a nutshell, this is a brief summary to photo releases and some common scenarios when you may want to investigate the need for one. Do you have any advice or questionable encounters with photo releases to share? Let us know in the comments below!

The post Do I Need a Photo Release For That? by Suzi Pratt appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Secret #1 Start with you

What elements of nature do you particularly like? You may already be clear on this; but even if you are, write it down, as something magical happens when you get things out of your head and living in front of you on paper.

00 Copyright Beth Jennings Photography Digital Photography School Nature 2423

Are you a flowers person? Do you like trees? How about specific elements of nature, for example, mushrooms on forest floors? No answer is a silly answer – just write them all down, no-one is screening what you say.

You have your own take on the world and you need to work out what it is. Then you’ll make nature photos that have a little piece of you in them.

Secret #2 How close is too close?

You can go as far away, or as close as you like when photographing nature. Just so long as the element of nature is clear within the photograph.

Let’s break it down a bit:

You can get a fair distance from your nature subject and allow it to dominate your frame. These trees were captured in late afternoon light with a polarizing filter to make the blue sky really intense. The light is pouring through – totally natural. Would you believe this was shot on transparency film – no post-production, ha! However, that means I can’t give you the camera settings. (slaps forehead).

Have a guess, what do you think the settings may have been?

Either ISO 100 or 400 because that’s what was available at the time! Handheld – 1/125th of a second or faster. F/? something large to keep the depth of field, maybe, f/11.

01 Copyright Beth Jennings Photography Digital Photography School Nature transparency

Take a few steps in toward your trees and your composition changes. The trees run right to the edges and now we are so close that some are cropped off. See how the meaning of this picture changes, just by moving in closer? (Yes, it’s a different scene, but work with me here!)

Where the previous picture was about the vast form of the trees, and the setting sun, this one is about the delicate nature of the branches and pine needles. It was taken about 11am on a bright, overcast day. The deep green needles contrast against the light, bright background.

See the careful placement of all the trees in the composition? Look all the way to the edges, then through all the grassy areas. Notice the care in the spatial placement of the trees and the green grass? Take your time, and really see where the elements are falling in the composition.

03 Copyright Beth Jennings Photography Digital Photography School Nature Photography 4348

ISO 400, f/10, 1/160th

Take a few more steps in on one tree, right up close on the detail. You have a choice now about rendering most of the capture out of focus, or creating lots of depth with the f-stop. This one has a shallow depth of field, to keep the focus on the tiny caterpillars. You can see parts of the texture of the tree to give a little hint as to the environment they live in.

It was late afternoon with dappled, soft light coming through trees. The little creatures were spotted in their web in a soft, spot-lit area.

04 Copyright Beth Jennings Photography Digital Photography School nature 2229

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Secret #3 Move your feet

When you come to photographing nature, it pays not to be too fixated on how you want to photograph your subject in terms of distance to subject, camera angle, and technical settings. Do have ideas in mind, but be open to the possibility that you may see something else (possibly better) on the day.

05 Copyright Beth Jennings Photography Digital Photography School Nature 0332

Walking and looking does wonders. Relax and enjoy your surroundings first. The beautiful things will come to you as long as you don’t force it.

When something catches your eye, go up closer to it, study it, and figure out what element in particular it is that interests you. There is spontaneity in capturing nature in its living, untouched state. The key is being open to the most beautiful, particular and unique elements, and finding your composition, lighting and camera settings to suit.

06 Copyright Beth Jennings Photography Digital Photography School Nature Photography 2 5

It does sound a little new-age, but give this method a try, and hey, it costs nothing but your time to walk around and breathe it in.

So there you have it – three secrets revealed as to how you can create pretty nature images, without it costing you a cent!

What’s your secret to getting better nature photographs? Drop it in the comments area below.

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Andrew’s newest ebook Mastering Composition is now on special for a limited time only at Snapndeals.

Visual weight (also called visual mass) is the principle that some elements of the photo pull the eye more than others.

Take a look at the portrait below. Where does your eye go? It should go straight to the eyes, because they have the most visual weight. They are the element exerting the greatest pull.

Visual weight and composition

Notice that the model’s eyes are not positioned on the traditional intersection points created by the rule of thirds. That doesn’t stop them from pulling the eye, although it could be argued that their visual weight would be strengthened by placing them on a third.

Let’s look at the principles of visual weight (or visual mass) that you can use to improve the composition of your photos.

1. Light tones

Light tones and highlights pull the eye more than dark ones (the basis of tonal contrast). There is a strong contrast in the portrait above between the model’s skin and hair, and the dark background. It is easier to see in a black and white version of the same photo.

Visual weight and composition

2. People

Curiosity about other people is part of the human condition. Our eye goes straight to any human figure that is present in a photo. Recognixable faces exert a stronger pull, while the eyes (the window to the soul) have the strongest visual weight of all.

This explains why you can use people, small in the frame, to give scale and context. It works because our eyes go straight to those figures, as long as they stand out from the background (gestalt theory in action).

The people in the photo below are small, yet the eye goes straight to them. The inclusion of the human figures helps give the scene scale, and emphasizes the size of the mountain behind them.

Visual weight and composition

3. Visual weight and size

The larger the element of a photo, the more it pulls the viewer’s eye. This principle works in harmony with the others discussed in this section. A small human figure, for example, can have much more pull than a large, inanimate object. A small splash of red can also pull the eye very strongly. But for objects of similar texture and colour, the larger one has the stronger pull.

For example, the dials in this photo are virtually identical in terms of shape and design. The one on the right has the most visual weight because it is the largest of the two.

Visual weight and composition

4. Sharp or recognizable elements

Objects that are sharp or easy to recognize pull the eye more than ones that aren’t. According to gestalt theory, the mind looks for patterns and shapes that helps it make sense of chaotic scenes. Once something is identified, it gains significance in the frame compared to those that aren’t.

The most obvious example of this is a portrait taken against a strongly blurred background. The visual weight of the background is reduced because it is no longer sharp, and no longer recognizable. The use of negative space also comes into play.

Visual weight and composition

5. High contrast

High contrast subjects have more visual weight than low contrast ones. This is a good principle to apply in post-processing as well as the photo taking stage. Instead of increasing contrast universally across the image, try increasing it more in the areas where you want the viewer’s eye to travel. Lightroom’s Clarity slider is an excellent tool for this.

In this example I used the Clarity slider to emphasise the texture of the old car and help draw the eye to it.

Visual weight and composition

6. Visual weight and colour

Bright, saturated colours draw the eye. But not all colours are equal. Warm hues have more visual weight than cool ones. Red is the strongest colour of all.

Simplifying the composition makes the relationship between the colours in the photo easier to see. A technique you can use, if your subject is brightly coloured, is to position it against a background comprised subdued, less powerful hues like grey, green and brown.

Simplifying works for all aspects of visual weight. Eliminate everything that isn’t necessary. Keep the background as simple as you can. Once you’ve done this, look at the remaining elements and think about how the eye will move around between them, according to the principles of visual weight. The relationships between them become clearer as the composition is simplified.

The red figurine in the centre of the photo below has the most visual weight. I emphasised this in post-processing by using the Clarity slider to increase its contrast and adding a vignette to darken the background.

Visual weight and composition

Mastering CompositionMastering Composition

My new ebook Mastering Composition will help you learn to see and compose photos better. It takes you on a journey beyond the rule of thirds, exploring the principles of composition you need to understand in order to make beautiful images. It’s on special for a limited time only at Snapndeals.

The post 6 Tips Using Visual Weight to Improve Your Composition by Andrew S. Gibson appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Tips for Posing Muscular Female Body Types

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You’ve found a model. You’re excited. She’s in AMAZING shape. I mean amazing as in 8% body fat and abs that you can wash your clothes on. This might not be quite what you were expecting so here are some tips for posing your muscular, super fit model in more feminine poses.

Muscular Posing 1

This athletic model has a muscular physique. The tips in this article will help you pose her in a softer way.

Don’t flex

Tell your model to avoid flexing. It might sound counterintuitive but these are not sports or fitness competition photos. You do not want the flex, you want the form. Make sure you encourage your model to relax. Relax her shoulders and her arms. Her shoulders are broad so you want to help her relax them as much as possible.

Accentuate the curves

Unless you’re shooting an athletic or an androgynous story, you will most likely want your model to have some curves. Your muscular model will most likely not have curvy hips. You can create the illusion by posing. The key here is to watch as your model moves, see what her body does.

Muscular Posing 2

Have her hug her body and play around with her arms. You can also have her bend her knee just a little to add a bit of a curve.

Have her push her hips to one side, as she drops her shoulders and arms to hug her body. Another trick is to have her hug her body. This can create curves where there are none. As she’s hugging, have your model bend forward a little. Shoot from various angles to find the most flattering look. Thirdly, have her bend a knee – just a little. This knee will add yet another angle for you to work with. The knee should be moved as you’re shooting. Try having her cross her knee in front of the other leg. Use all of these tricks together to achieve the look you want.

Muscular Posing 3

Have your model embrace her hips. Encourage her to push one side out and have her hands and different lengths along her body as she leans forward just a bit.

Frame it

You can do a lot with a photo with your framing. Your muscular model will most likely have broad shoulders and you can bring those in a bit with your framing. Have your model pose with her shoulder facing you. Have her turn her head towards you, and you’ve now softened her shoulders. Encourage her to drop her shoulders as much as she can. She might not be able to go far so pay close attention, you don’t want to hurt her.

You can have her tilt a bit if you need to. You can also have her face straight on towards you. Have her put her hands on her sides slightly above her hips, one hand should be just a bit higher than the other. Have her roll her hips towards the camera just a bit. One hip should be slightly to the side. This pose gives her a bit of movement in her shape and helps to soften her form. From this point, you can vary your shooting angle and framing to get the look your going for.

Muscular Posing 4

Have your model turn her shoulder directly towards the camera. Shoot at different angles to get the look you’re going for.

These tips are the starting point for posing your muscular model. If you’re shooting athletic or competition photos then you’ll want to tweak these poses to accentuate the muscles. Remember that what you see is what you photograph. If something doesn’t look quite right, change it to look better. Use these tips to create the look you and your model want.

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