Archive for March, 2016


Many photographers, especially when starting out, have a difficult time understanding depth of field. I also hear quite often that photographers are waiting for nice weather to get out and shoot. So, here’s a fun exercise you can do at home, in any weather, that will help you understand the finer aspects of depth of field.

Depth of field is determined by which aperture you choose, what focal length you’re using, and the distance between the camera and the subject. In this example, we’ll explore depth of field using a 100mm lens.

To set up

Find between one and three small objects you can photograph. I found three sports water bottles with balls on the top to shoot. Next, you need some studio space. A patio door or very wide window works well.

Your next step is to set up your object, or objects, in front of the window and to place your camera in position. The object and camera should be parallel to the window.


This is how I set up my camera and objects.

I put the first ball, the soccer ball, about 12 inches in front of the cabinet. Then I put the second ball, the baseball, about 24 inches in front of that. I put the third object, the basketball, 24 inches in front of the next object, and finally I set my camera about two feet in front of the last object.

You’ll need to play a little bit to see what works best for you. It will vary depending on the size of the object you are shooting, and the focal length you are using. You want to be able to focus on all three objects, and take a photo of them without moving your camera, so play for a minute. Focus on the first object and make sure you can see all three objects in the frame. Then focus on the second and make sure you can still see them all. Lastly, do it with the third one, too.

Set your camera on either aperture priority or manual exposure, and use the widest aperture you have. I chose f/2.8. Your lens might not have that aperture available, if so f/4 or f/4.5 will be just fine.

Shoot wide opened focusing on each object in turn

Now, without changing anything but your focus, take a photo of each of the three objects.


This photo was shot at f/2.8 while focused on the object closest to the camera, the basketball. Notice the narrow depth of field, in other words, how blurry the background is.


This was also shot at f/2.8, but this time, I focused on the middle object, the baseball. Notice that it is blurry in front and in back.


This photo was also shot at f/2.8, but I focused on the soccer ball. I did not change camera position nor did I change lenses. Notice the depth of field, but also notice the change in perspective. Can you see that more of the cabinet is in the photograph?

Next shoot with a small aperture

Now, let’s try something a little different. Instead of shooting at your widest f-stop, shoot at your smallest, which means a higher number, like f/32 or f/16.


Here is the same situation. The camera hasn’t moved, but the aperture is now at f/32. The focus is on the basketball, but look how much is sharp.


Look closely. The aperture is still at f/32, but the focus has changed to the baseball. Notice the basketball is more out of focus, but the soccer ball in the back looks pretty sharp.


Above is the third example. The focus is on the soccer ball.

You can practice each of these things with different f/stops to see the difference between f/4, f/8, f/11, f/16 and f/32. Each choice will change the depth of field.

Change the distance to the subject


In the above photograph, I moved the camera closer to the baseball and shot at f/2.8. Practice isolating the elements and see what happens. Notice how the baseball really stands out, and look at the background. By isolating the baseball with a very narrow depth of field, the background becomes really out of focus. This tool is very helpful to clean up backgrounds.


Then I changed my focus to the soccer ball. The aperture is still at f/2.8. What do you notice about the background?


In the shot above the soccer ball is still in the original position, about a foot away from the cabinet. Notice how sharp the background is – this was shot at f/32.


Now, notice how we start to lose detail in the cabinet behind. This image above was shot at f/11.


Finally, by shooting at f/2.8, and without moving the position of the soccer ball or the background, the background has become more out of focus and less distracting.

Take some times and practice this at home. So what you’ve learned here is a great way to practice depth of field at home–even on a rainy day! So take out your camera, find some small objects to shoot and start practicing.

Please share in the comments below how controlling the depth of field could impact how you shoot. What did you learn by doing this exercise?

The post An Exercise For You to Practice Depth of Field Without Going Outside by Vickie Lewis appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Often a great photo relies on a combination of factors coming together to produce the final result. On a few rare occasions, all of these elements present themselves in perfect harmony by chance. However, the majority of the time as a photographer, you have to research, plan, and put a lot of effort into capturing a photograph that has these elements in it.



#1 – The Subject

Arguably the most important element of the photo is the subject itself (i.e. what you are photographing). A great photo can sometimes work if it isn’t technically perfect, but rarely works if the subject isn’t interesting enough to capture the viewer’s attention. You need to train yourself to be able to see those unique opportunities where a subject can offer the basis of a great photo, and then be willing to do whatever it takes to make it the best it can be (within the law). It takes practice, but in time you will begin to immediately see opportunities everywhere.


Keep your eyes open. You never know when interesting stories will present themselves.

#2 – The Composition

A great subject only works as a great photo, if it is composed in order to make the most of what you are seeing. Too much dead space and the subject is lost. Too close and the viewer may miss the surroundings which are imperative to the photo. The key is to take your time, and really think about the composition and how to make the most of the scene. Obviously, there will be times where you may be encounter fleeting moments, to which you need to react quickly – but the more practice you have, the quicker you will become.

Crop your image carefully to ensure in maximises the photograph.

Crop your image carefully to ensure it maximizes the photograph.

#3 – Lighting

Whatever you are photographing, whether that is indoors or outdoors, lighting is key to capturing a great photo. You need to think about how to either utilize the natural light if outdoors, or artificial light if indoors. For example, if you’re using natural light, at different times of the day the light will look completely different and give your photos a different look and feel. But, you also need to consider the direction of the light because, again, that will have a huge impact of how your photo will look. If you are working indoors or in a studio, this may require that you set up lighting, or manipulate the available light using things like reflectors or a flash.

Lighting is an important element in any photograph.

Lighting is an important element in any photograph. Try to capture your outdoor photos at the best time of the day.

#4 – Technical Elements

It is no good having a great subject that is composed well and beautifully lit, but blurred or out of focus. So, to capture great photos, you also need to master the technical elements of photography, such as focusing, depth or field, shutter speed, and so on. This part comes down to learning, and sufficient practice so that it becomes second nature to you. In addition to ensuring your photos are technically correct, it also allows you to have more creative control over the final outcome. For example, using a slower shutter speed to capture movement will give your photo a different look and feel, than freezing the action by using a fast shutter speed.

Mastering the technical elements of photography is a must if you want to capture great photos.

Mastering the technical elements of photography is a must if you want to capture great photos.

#5 – Originality

With photography becoming more and more mainstream, we are all becoming more used to seeing different places and subjects, so to really ‘wow’ people with photos, you need to show them something unique and different to what they have already seen. This could be everything from lighting or composition to actually showing a different perspective of something people have seen before. The key is to not be afraid to take risks with the photo. So, next time you are taking a photo, stop and think about how you can make it look different to what already exists.

Try to make your photos unique. The key is to do your research so you know what already exists.

Try to make your photos unique. The key is to do your research so you know what already exists.

Great photos are not easy to come by, but the great thing about photography is that the more you practice you have and by training yourself in the different aspects above, the better and quicker you will become to seeing and implementing the different elements needed.

Can you think of anything else? Share your tips below.

A local camel handler in Empty Quarter in Liwa Oasis

A local camel handler in Empty Quarter in Liwa Oasis

The post The 5 Elements That Can Help You Make a Great Photos by Kav Dadfar appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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As a landscape photographer, I participate in many online groups, and I also teach classes where I get the opportunity to see less experienced photographers’ work. I often see some very good work, but many times I also see missed opportunities. Newer photographers just getting started photographing landscapes often times become so enamored by the colors in the sky, that they neglect other areas of the image. I often see images with weak, underexposed foregrounds, and poor compositions that keep them from being good photos and relegates them to being just pretty snapshots.

Sunset in the background with a starburst

Don’t get the wrong idea. I often photograph at sunrise or sunset. But, the sun or sky is rarely the subject of the photo. It may be an element in the image, but the subject is generally something else. In many ways, it can be more difficult to make a great image at sunset or sunrise, because there is a tendency to be drawn to the pretty colors in the sky. But as photographers, we really need to pay attention to the other elements in the image to ensure we’re creating a complete composition. So below are a few tips to help improve your sunset or sunrise photos.

1- Put the sun in the background

This tip is the most obvious. Sunsets make great backgrounds, but rarely do they make great subjects. You need to find a good foreground. The gorgeous colors in the sky can be so vibrant that they really allow us to see our surroundings differently. The play of light and shadow over objects in the foreground, due to that great directional light given off when the sun is lower in the sky, helps create interest that might not be there in the middle of the day when the sun is higher.

A sunrise in the background adds interest

The best way to do this is to find something of interest right in front of you. Use a wide angle lens, such as the 16-35mm or something around that range, zoom out to as wide as you can, and put your foreground object a few feet in front of you. Stop down and set your aperture to f/11 or smaller, and focus on your foreground object to ensure that it’s sharp. If you want to add some extra interest, try stopping your lens down as far as you can. This will help create a starburst where the sun is, which will add a little extra interest in your scene.

One thing to keep in mind, is that the exposure for your foreground subject and the background exposure, are likely going to be very different. You have a few options here. The first would be to expose once for the foreground, and once for the background, and then blend them together in Photoshop. A great article on blending exposures is 5 Easy Steps To Exposure Blending for High Contrast Landscapes. Next, and generally my preferred method, is to use a graduated neutral density filter to try and darken the bright sky in the background, so that it is more balanced with the foreground subject. Read Using Graduated Neutral Density Filters for Landscape Photography for more on ND Grads.  The last, and easiest option, is to create a silhouette of the foreground objects, while properly exposing the colorful sky and sun in the background.  This works best with a singular object with a distinctive form, such as a bridge, a tree, a distinctive building, or a person in a distinctive pose.

2 – Photograph with the sun at your side

Photograph with the sun at the side

In this case, the sun itself won’t be in your scene at all. The magic of sunsets or sunrises is the soft, warm, directional light they offer. This light can create tremendous light and shadow play within the scene, making textures in your foreground especially desirable. Rocks, logs, trees, grasses, and undulations or patterns on the ground, will create interesting shadows and highlights that draw your viewer’s eye into the scene. In this case, it’s often best to put the sun to your side, so that it rakes across the scene, letting the shadows and highlights play from one side to the other.


With a scene like this, a polarizing filter may help as well, as they are most effective when the camera is aimed 90° from the sun. This will help deepen blue areas of the sky, enhance other colors, and reduce any haze that may be in the scene. You may need to make some choices about exposure, if the contrast between highlight and shadow in the foreground is too great. A graduated neutral density filter can help keep the sky under control if it is still too bright against the foreground.

3 – Keep the sun at your back

Put the sun behind you

At sunrise or sunset, that soft warm light that I mentioned as being great from the side, is also great from behind you. This will help create a soft frontal light on your scene, illuminating all of the details. This is likely to be the easiest exposure of the three situations, in that the light will be very even, with no bright highlight or deep shadow areas in the scene. You’ll likely get soft, warm pastel colors if there are any clouds or haze in the sky to reflect the sun’s light.

Be careful when composing your image, as the sun behind you will cast a long shadow, and you may end up with your own shadow in the photo. To minimize this, try crouching down low, and setting your tripod as low as possible to help shorten the shadow. Also, if using filters for longer exposures, on DSLRs with optical viewfinders, the sun can enter the camera from the rear, affecting your exposure. Take care to cover your viewfinder in these instances.


4 – Arrive early, stay late

You’ll want to get there early for sunrise. The color in the sky can start half an hour, or more, before the sun actually rises, with clouds first showing subtle traces of pink and purple before the red, orange, and yellows appear as the sun breaks the horizon. You’ll want to be set up and ready when that happens, which means trekking through the dark to your location. Advance scouting can be helpful for this.

Stay Late

The same is true at sunset, but in reverse. Just because the sun has gone down, doesn’t mean that the show is over. Generally speaking, the sky will continue to light up, and colors will continue to change for about 30 minutes after the sun goes down. Many photographers have packed up and gone before this happens. Patience will reward you with more subtle color changes, such as reds going to purples and blues, rather than the vibrant yellows and oranges you get during the initial phases of the sunset.

5 – Shoot RAW

More than any other time to shoot, sunset or sunrise creates dramatic colors and fantastic play between light and shadow. Because of that, it can be difficult to try and capture the detail in the shadows or highlights, depending on which way you bias your exposure. A RAW file contains much more information than a JPEG, which will allow you to bring out the details in shadow and highlight areas that may be lost if shooting JPEG files. In addition, shooting RAW files allows you to adjust your white balance in processing to give you better control over the overall tone of the image.

For more on processing RAW files, check out Understanding the Basic Sliders in Adobe Camera RAW, and for more on why you might want to consider photographing in the RAW format, see 5 Reasons To Shoot Your Landscape Images in RAW.

What’s your favorite sunrise or sunset photography tip? Please post your tips and images in the comments below!

The post 5 Tips to Take Better Sunset Photos – and Why Not to Photograph the Sunset Directly by Rick Berk appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Get 25% OFF James’ ebooks: Essentials of Street Photography & Street Photography Conversations eBook Bundle now for a limited time only at Snapndeals.

Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

If you are reading this, I assume that you enjoy photography enough already. You’re here, after all. However, you can always enjoy it more – so I wanted to create this list of somewhat uncommon practices, that have kept me going over the years, and kept me passionate about photography.

1. Start a three day a week, neighborhood project

365 day photo projects are a fantastic way to gain some consistency in your life with photography, which is a key to enjoying it to the fullest. However, I want to take the pressure off a little bit with the everyday. You don’t have to come up with a good photograph every single day, although if you are able to do so, more power to you. Set aside a handful of sessions during the week, as if you were going to the gym. Think about is as if it were the gym. At first it might take some getting used to, but eventually it will become second nature.

While you strive for some consistency in how often you photograph, seek out similarity in what, and where you photograph as well. Go back to the same areas over and over again, and you will find that you will start to notice new things. This commitment and consistency will help you achieve a level of imagery that is tough to reach otherwise. Photograph within your daily life, at the places that you are the most intimate with. Use photography as a way to escape and relax, without actually having to go anywhere.

2. Get lost and strike up a conversation

St . Marks Place

While photographing the areas that you are familiar with is very important, go even further. You do not need to have a set destination in mind, just pick a direction and go. Explore different routes each time. I consider photography to be an extension of walking. If there were no cameras, I’d probably still walk, and get lost sometimes. Having the camera to document what you see is just a bonus.

Don’t slink around, and make sure to say hello to people along the way. Tell them what you’re doing, and offer to take a photo of them. It’s fun, and most people will like the idea that you’re out getting lost and photographing. The camera is a great excuse to meet, connect with, and to photograph new people.

3. Don’t worry about people wondering what you’re doing

New York City

Have you ever stopped to photograph a reflection in a puddle, and then looked up to have someone staring at you quizzically, wondering what you could possibly be doing by photographing a puddle.

Forget that person. Some of the best, most beautiful, most interesting, and unique photographs are of things that can seem very mundane when you capture them. Embrace this, because it’s really fun, and keep yourself from worrying about what other people think when you are out there. Otherwise it can make you feel bad about taking images that are actually different from the norm and interesting.

Similarly, you should not worry about what people will think when they see your prints. You cannot be a good photographer without some people disliking some of your work. Do what interests you, without worry about other people’s perceptions, and you will be a better and happier photographer.

The image to the right is one that I personally enjoy. It is probably not the type of image that will stand out as much as the rest in Instagram, but there are a lot of interesting details, textures, and tones here. It’s unique. This is one that I have learned to expect not everyone to love – but some will, and I do.

4. Go to gallery shows, and get lost in the photography section of bookstores

Viewing the work of other artists will keep you inspired, and will renew your passion for photography. It will also give you a better idea of what you are capable of creating, particularly during times of frustration.

In addition to this, start a photography book collection. There are a lot of expensive photography books available, but there are just as many important ones that are affordable. Save a little money each month to build your collection, and it will help inspire you.

5. Light, light, light

Lower East Side Snowstorm

I am not referring to the light you look at, but the amount of equipment that you go out with. One, light lens is all you need. Get rid of the fear of missing out, or that you brought the wrong lens. Pick one, leave the huge bag at home, and have some fun. Use a camera phone sometimes. You will be able to go a lot farther with less gear, have a lot more spring in your step, which will lead to much better images and enjoyment.

6. Simplify your editing

Ugh… editing!

Editing can be exciting, but only when you do it the right way. I know a lot of people who have so much fun shooting, then they upload thousands of photos over months, and they get bogged down in the thought of editing. It causes them to procrastinate, and ruins the fun they had when shooting.

This is why I am a strong believer in having an efficient and organized Lightroom catalogue, but it is SO easy to do. Come back, upload a day of photos to Lightroom, and just give five-stars to your top five photos from the day. I go a little further than this, and give three, four, and five stars, but you don’t have to do that.

Even if you are the best photographer in the world, traveling in the most exotic place, you probably will not get more than five portfolio worthy pieces in a single day. So forget the middling stuff – you can come back later to search for diamonds in the rough. Just spend your time figuring out your favorite five.

Suddenly, your archive will be slimmed down so much, and this will make it much more fun to edit. Instead of looking at a mountain of thousands of images from a year, with just a small amount of work up front, you will have the top 100 images from a year, ready to go. Then grab a glass of wine (or your favorite beverage), and start making them look pretty.

7. Print!
Flower, East Village.

What’s the fun in photography if you don’t print? Take a day, get on the floor, and print out as many images as possible. If you don’t print yourself, use a service and go crazy. Force yourself to have some dedicated time to do this, or it can become so easy to procrastinate and forget about it. Printing is tough to do well in 30 minute increments, so that’s why I suggest taking half a day and having fun with it.

Then give the photos to friends! Don’t hoard them. You made them for people to enjoy, right? So give out 5x7s and 8x10s to people close to you. This is one of the hidden beauties of photography, creating something you love, and giving it to someone who will appreciate it.

Please make sure to comment below if you have some additional tips that you use, as I’m sure we would all like to hear about them.

Get 25% OFF James’ ebooks: Essentials of Street Photography & Street Photography Conversations eBook Bundle now for a limited time only at Snapndeals.

The post 7 Fun Strategies to Maximize Your Enjoyment of Photography by James Maher appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Processing a good landscape image is a lot like getting a good haircut…it should look good, but people shouldn’t really be able to tell you’ve had anything done. Now while that may be a slightly funny (hopefully) analogy, it really is a good way to approach the editing of your landscape photos. Ideally, the image should be developed to its full potential in accordance to your vision, while stopping well short of over-processing. The key to pulling off a strong landscape image can sometimes be understanding when to stop.

Before and After Split

In this article, we will go from a straight out of the camera RAW file to a fully processed photograph using Adobe Lightroom CC. We will look at each step, and I will explain why each edit was made. By the end, you will see just how easy it is for you to take full control of your landscape photography with a few simple edits.

Shoot in RAW

Here we have the RAW file as it looked after importing into Lightroom.

RAW Screenshot

As always, the better the ingredients you have to begin with, the better the finished product will be. This means to always strive to make for best exposure, crop, and composition you can, before any processing is applied. Shooting in RAW format helps you immensely when working with landscapes. The greater dynamic range (exposure latitude) will allow you to bring up shadows, and manage highlights, much better than with smaller JPEG files. I know, I know – you’ve heard all of this before – but it doesn’t hurt to hear it again! RAW truly is the best friend of the landscape photographer.

Crop first

The image above is virtually level, but not perfectly so. The first thing we will do is open the crop panel and tweak the alignment before we begin any development. Having a grid overlay will really help you to get the lines of the image just right (with the crop tool activated, press the O key to cycle through all the grids available until you find the one you want). If you wanted to crop the image further, this would be done here as well.


Add Graduated Filters to adjust sky and foreground

Now that the image has been straightened, it’s time for the real fun to begin. The first thing to do is take control of the sky so that it isn’t quite so bright. To do this, we will use the Graduated filter tool. It’s located just above the Basic Panel in the develop module, in the same row as the crop tool.

GND Indicator

The filter simulates the effect of a graduated neutral density filter. It is an indispensable tool for adjusting landscape photos. Using the Graduated filter, you can decrease the exposure, add a little contrast, and then increase the clarity just to make the clouds more pronounced, which adds a little drama in the sky. In this example I also took town the highlights, and dehazed ever so slightly. The dehaze feature is a relatively new addition to the Lightroom tool box, is available in Lightroom 6 and Lightroom CC, and really helps when clearing skies.


Next, you want to process the foreground but not disturb the edits you’ve just made to the sky. To do this, click new to make a new Graduated filter.

New GND Indicator

To better understand where your edits will be applied with the ND filter, simply hover the pointer over the indicator dot for a second. Everything in red indicates where the filter is working (you can also just press the o key and it will show the mask overlay – it may also show in another color on your screen, press Shift+o to cycle through all the various colors).


Using the Graduated filter, I increased the clarity of the foreground grass, as well as illuminated the shadows. This will help to draw the viewer’s eye into the image. I’m careful not to overdo the exposure here. The main subjects of the image are the horses, and the mountains in the background, so I want to keep those emphasized. Speaking of horses…

Do local edits using a Radial Filter

I wanted to really make the horses standout within the photo so let’s make use of another powerful tool in the Lightroom arsenal – the Radial filter. It works virtually the same way as the Graduated filter, except that it is applied in the form of a circle (fully adjustable). It can be set to apply edits either inside or outside of the circular outline.

Circular GND Indicator

With the Radial filter, I raised the shadows around the horses and increased clarify slightly. I also threw in a little extra sharpening there as well. When using the Radial filter, it’s important to remember that the border between what is, and what is not edited, is very controllable. Make use of the feathering slider in order to control the density of your adjustments as they radiate outward or inwards of the circle. Effective feathering will make make your adjustments with the Radial filter seamlessly blend in with the rest of the image. Here you can see exactly where the edits will be applied.

Circular GND Red

Makes global adjustments

So far, the image has been processed using only the Graduated and Radial filter tools for local adjustments (specific areas). Now we will make some final global (whole image) adjustments in the Basic Panel.

I brought up the overall contrast and shadows, and added in a little bit more clarity. Doing this made the highlights a little too harsh so I reduced the exposure by -10. This photograph was made in the waning golden hours of sunset, so I increased the total temperature (white balance) from 4400 to 5200, so that the tone better matched what I was feeling at the time of the exposure.

Global Adjustment

Add an edge vignette

As a final touch, I add in a small amount of vignetting.


Vignetting is great because it serves to draw the viewer’s attention into the image. In the case of this photo it works well, but that is not always the case. Just as with any other effect used in post-processing, discretion is the name of the game. When using a vignette, make sure it fits the overall mood of the image. Experiment with the feathering slider (and others) until you achieve the desired effect. As a general guideline, very subtle vignetting usually works best.

See, that wasn’t difficult at all! We have went from a completely unprocessed RAW file to a fully developed image using relatively few edits in Adobe Lightroom.

Before and After

Processing a landscape image doesn’t have to be a massive undertaking. Everything you do to a landscape photograph should compliment the scene and add harmony. You have some incredible processing tools available today which can help you to achieve your creative vision. Be careful that you don’t go too far, though. Every photograph is as unique as a fingerprint, and should be approached individually. Use the techniques in this article as a guide to your processing, and have fun helping your photos reach their full potential.


If you have any additional landscape post-processing tips that work for you, please share in the comments below.

The post Lightroom Quick Post-Processing Tips for Landscape Photography by Adam Welch appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Mirrorless cameras and focusing

A lot has been written about the drawbacks of autofocus performance from mirrorless cameras. Most of this focuses on the tracking of moving subjects – an area where the phase detection autofocus found in digital SLRs is still superior (although the gap is closing).

But when it comes to focusing on still subjects, the mirrorless camera is a better tool. Surprised? If you’ve never used a mirrorless camera, you may be. Let’s take a look at the reasons why.

1. Phase detection versus contrast detect autofocus

Mirrorless cameras have a different autofocus system than digital SLRs.

In a digital SLR most of the light coming through the lens is reflected up by the mirror, into the pentaprism and through the viewfinder. A small part is deflected downwards to a dedicated autofocus sensor. It uses a system called phase detection autofocus to calculate the camera to subject distance, and tell the lens where to focus.

Mirrorless cameras and focusing

The red lines in this diagram show the path that light takes through an SLR camera with the mirror in the down position. Most of the light is reflected into the pentaprism and the viewfinder. Part of it is reflected downwards towards the autofocus sensor.

The advantage of phase detection autofocus is that it’s fast (generally speaking – but it also depends on which camera you have) and very good at tracking moving subjects. It’s the best system anyone has managed to come up with for an SLR camera.

However, phase detection autofocus has a significant weakness – lack of accuracy.

There are two main reasons for this. The first is that most digital SLRs have a combination of cross-type and single line autofocus points. Cross-type autofocus points are the most accurate, and should always be used when focus is critical (for example, when using a prime lens at its widest aperture), otherwise the camera may not focus where it is supposed to. Your camera’s manual will tell you which of its AF points are cross-type.

Whenever you use a non cross-type autofocus point, you cannot rely on the camera to focus accurately. This is fine when using small apertures, which give you plenty of margin for error, but not when focus and accuracy is critical.

The second reason is to do with camera and lens calibration. Even when you use a cross-type autofocus point your camera may not focus exactly where it is supposed to. For accurate focus, every part of your camera setup – from the autofocus sensor, to lens and autofocus motors that tell the lens where to focus – must be working in perfect harmony. It only takes a small degree of misalignment to throw the accuracy of the system out.

Most of the time you won’t notice, because there is sufficient depth-of-field to make the focusing inaccuracies irrelevant. But if you use a wide aperture, especially with a telephoto lens, then depth-of-field is measured in millimetres, and accurate focus is essential.

For example, if you are taking a portrait then it is conventional to focus on the model’s eyes. If you miss focus, and her eyes are soft, then people will notice and the portrait will lose its impact.

Mirrorless cameras and focusing

I made this portrait with an EOS 5D Mark II and 85mm lens set to f1.8. With this camera it is necessary to measure and calibrate the autofocus system to ensure accurate focus at wide apertures.

Most mid-range and high-end digital SLRs have a feature that allows you to measure and compensate for inaccurate focusing. Manufacturers have different names for this – Canon and Sony use the term Autofocus micro-adjustment, Nikon calls it Autofocus fine tune, Pentax uses the term Autofocus adjustment and Olympus Autofocus focus adjust. It’s bit of a long winded process – you have to test your lenses by focusing on a ruler, or a purpose made scale, to see if the focus is accurate, and make adjustments if it isn’t.

You can also get your camera and lenses calibrated at a service centre. This is the only way to calibrate an SLR camera that doesn’t have the above feature built-in.

That was bit of a long explanation, but crucial if you are to understand why phase detection autofocus is not as accurate as it should be.

How are mirrorless cameras different?

So, how do mirrorless cameras differ? As they don’t have a mirror, there is no way of deflecting light to a dedicated autofocus sensor. The solution is to take a reading from the sensor. The camera looks at the point on the sensor which is meant to be in focus, and adjusts the lens until maximum contrast is achieved. This is called contrast detect autofocus.

This system is slower, because the camera has to move the lens first one way, then the other, to find the sharpest point. But, it is much more accurate (for still subjects).

With a mirrorless camera autofocus micro-adjustment is redundant. You don’t need it, and you will never have to measure or calibrate the camera’s autofocus system. It also doesn’t matter which autofocus point you use, as they all work equally well. That is why, for still subjects, autofocus in mirrorless cameras is superior to that of digital SLRs.

Mirrorless cameras and focusing

I made this portrait with a 56mm lens at f/1.2 with my Fujifilm X-T1 mirrorless camera. With this camera it is easy to focus on the model’s eye. There is no need to calibrate the camera’s autofocus system.

2. Manual focusing

Mirrorless cameras are also a better tool for utilizing manual focus lenses.

Modern digital SLRs are not designed to be helpful with manual focus lenses. The split prism focusing screens of the past are gone, and assistance is limited to a light that comes in the viewfinder when the subject underneath the selected AF point comes into focus.

Mirrorless cameras are different. They have a tool called focus peaking, which is specifically designed to help you manually focus a lens. The camera highlights the parts of the scene that are in focus, so that you can see which areas are sharp. You can also magnify the image at the touch of the button, making it even easier to see whether the subject is sharply focused.

This feature works best when using lenses at wide apertures. Both tools take advantage of the camera’s electronic viewfinder, a feature that most digital SLRs don’t have.

Mirrorless cameras and focusing

This mock up shows how focus peaking works. I made the portrait with a Helios 58mm manual focus lens at its widest aperture setting of f/2. The red lines indicate how focus peaking shows you what is in focus.

3. Hyperfocal distance

Fujifilm cameras have another tool that will be of interest to landscape photographers as it helps you instantly find the hyperfocal distance without referring to tables or smartphone apps.

The viewfinder has a depth-of-field scale that shows you the point you are focused on and the area in focus on either side, according to the selected aperture. If you move the focusing ring until the depth-of-field scale touches the infinity mark at one end, you have found the hyperfocal distance point. It’s quick and easy.

To be honest, I don’t know if this feature is available in any brand of mirrorless camera other than Fujifilm. I’d be grateful if Sony/Olympus/Panasonic, etc., owners would let us know.

Mirrorless cameras and focusing

This diagram shows how the depth-of-field scale works. The bar shows the point the lens is focused on (white), and how much of the scene is in focus (blue). The lens is focused on the hyperfocal point in this made-up example.

Since buying my first Fujifilm camera a little over 18 months ago, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by what a great tool mirrorless cameras are for photography. They are much better than my old digital SLR for focusing on still subjects, or for using manual focus lenses.

The difference is so great that I predict that one day most photographers will use mirrorless cameras, and digital SLRs will be a niche item built for photographing sports and wildlife.

But what do you think? Please share your thoughts, or ask any questions about focusing, in the comments below.

Mastering Lenses

If you want to know more about lenses and autofocus check out my ebook Mastering Lenses: A Photographer’s Guide to Creating Beautiful Photos With Any Lens.

The post 3 Reasons Why Mirrorless Cameras are Better than Digital SLRs for Focusing by Andrew S. Gibson appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Sun flares can add beauty and drama to your photos. Cameras and lenses are designed to cut down on flare – so when it comes to sun flares, you are a rule breaker right from the start.

In this article, I share 14 tips to help you get started photographing sun flares:


Photographing sun flares: 14 tips for beginners

There are no rules with sun flares, they’re all about creativity. You can capture them at any time of day, and with these easy tips you’ll be out experimenting in no time.

1. Try various aperture settings

Have you noticed that in some photos sun flares look soft and diffused, while in others they look bold and defined? That has a lot to do with which aperture setting was used.

If you use a fairly wide open aperture, like f/5.6, you’ll get soft flares. But, if you use a small aperture, like f/22, you’ll get stronger, more defined flares.


In the split image above, the f/5.6 shot is a softer looking flare, and the f/22 is more defined. The points of the flare are created by the blades of the aperture inside your lens. When they come closer together (as with narrow apertures like f/22) you get more defined points on your flares.

Using different apertures will give you a variety of looks to choose from when you’re editing. You’ll also learn which type of sun flare you prefer, depending on the setting and feel you want in your photo.

2. Use Aperture Priority Mode

The easiest way to use tip #1 is to put your camera in Aperture Priority Mode (AV on a Canon, or A on a Nikon). This way, you’ll be able to easily switch the aperture setting. With your camera set to auto ISO, it will automatically choose the ISO and shutter speed settings for you.

Now you’ll be able to quickly switch apertures and see the difference it makes to your sun flares. Learn more here: Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority: Exposure Lesson #1

3. Partially hide the sun

Use an object (such as a fence post, building, tree, etc.) to partially hide the sun. This will allow you to capture flare, and add an artistic touch to the object you’re shooting.


Move around the object, let the sun peek out at different locations as you keep taking photos. I love doing this, and I always come away with something unique.

4. Move around and take lots of pictures

When shooting sun flares it really helps to move around – a lot. If you are partially hiding the sun (as mentioned above in #3) a slight movement to the right or left will cause a big change in the flare. Your photo could be flooded with too much light, or you might miss the flare altogether. Or it could reveal the flare in just the right spot, and create exactly the look you want.


It’s important to take lots of pictures. You’ll learn how much sun to include, in relation to the amount of flare you want.


Sun flares can be unpredictable, that’s part of what makes them fun to work with.

5. Try using some filters

When photographing sun flares, filters can also be helpful:

  • UV filter: This is a good idea because you will be shooting into the sun. Some photographers feel that a UV filter will protect your camera’s sensor.
  • Polarizing filter: This will help you get different effects as you rotate it. This filter can help increase color saturation and decrease reflections. If you have one, play around with it and see how it affects the flares.
  • Graduated neutral density filter: These filters are darker at the top, and become lighter near the bottom. They can prevent part of the image from looking blown-out, from shooting into the sun.


In the above image, I used a graduated neutral density filter for the photo on the right. It helped control the light, which kept the colors richer. Learn more about polarizing and graduated neutral density filters.

6. Shoot during different times of day

Around sunrise and sunset, the sunlight comes in at a unique angle. This creates a warmer, golden color., whereas during midday, there is a cooler (bluish) or more neutral color.

In the following image, two of the photos were taken around sunset, and the other two were taken a few hours after sunrise. Can you guess when each photo was taken?


I bet you got it right – the ones on the left were taken near sunset. They have a warmer feel, don’t they?  The ones on the right have a cooler feel. Learn more here: Understanding Natural Light Part 2: Color of Light.

7. Divide the sun with your camera

You can get a softer, more diffused look by composing your photo so that the sun is not fully in your frame. Try cutting the sun in half, or only including its bottom third.


Play with it. Create different effects and see which you prefer.

8. Use a tripod and a remote shutter release

As mentioned earlier, a smaller aperture setting (higher number) will give you a sharper, more defined flare. But, using a small aperture also means that your camera will require more time to take the photo. The longer it takes, the more chance there is for camera shake to cause blur in your photo.

If you are hand-holding your camera, this could be a problem. When your camera is on a tripod, there is much less chance of camera shake.


Using a tripod will help keep your photos looking sharp and your sun flares crisp. By using a remote shutter release (or your camera’s self-timer) you’ll reduce camera shake even more.

9. Keep the sun at your model’s back

By keeping the sun at your model’s back, you’ll allow the light of the flare to spill out around them in interesting ways.


Depending on the time of day, you might need to lay down, and have your model sit or lay down. The above image was taken around 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon, and I was laying on the ground.

The higher the sun is, the lower you’ll need to be in order to place the flare at your model’s head, or shoulder level. Having your model sit down will make it easier for you. When the sun is lower in the sky, positioning becomes easier for both of you.

10. Use a reflector

A reflector is used to reflect the light back onto your subject. Reflectors are usually made of fabric (white, silver or gold) and can be hand-held, hung from a freestanding base, or placed on the ground.

Using a reflector could be helpful if your model is in the shade. It would help to brighten their face, making the photo look more pleasing.

11. Cover the sun with your hand to focus

It can be hard to focus when shooting sun flares. There is so much light, that your camera may struggle to lock on where you want. When this happens, hold up your hand to cover the sun, compose your photo, and press your shutter release halfway. Once your camera focuses, take your hand down and press the shutter the rest of the way.

You may have to try this a number of times until you get exactly what you want.

12. Place the sun out of the frame

To get a really soft flare effect, without a bright point, try placing the sun out of your frame.


I love how this adds soft light to the above photo, and how the eye is drawn up to the source of light.

13. Use Spot Metering

Spot Metering handles bright light really well, so if you’ve got the choice, go with this metering mode. All but one of the photos in this post were taken using it. If your camera does not have Spot Metering, then Partial Metering would be your next best choice. I use autofocus, with the focus point set to the center.

14. Have fun

This last tip is probably the most important. When photographing sun flares, it’s time to experiment and have fun.

Don’t be afraid to take tons of pictures, try different aperture settings, and move around. Sun flares are wild and unpredictable. Be creative and use different objects to block (or diffuse) the light. You’re bound to get lots of over, and under exposed photos, but you’ll get lots of gorgeous results as well.

Learn more about Using Sun Flares and Starbursts to Create Stunning Images.

Now it’s your turn

I would love to see your sun flare photos and hear your tips! Please share them below.

The post How to Photograph Sun Flares: 14 Tips for Beginners by Dena Haines appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Nature photography is a very popular field to be involved in. That’s no surprise though, as it gets you outdoors and seeing our planet in a way that others may miss. When I first started as a nature photographer, I began to see things differently. It sounds cliché, but I paid more attention to my surroundings and saw things from different angles.

Will Nicholls 3This tutorial will look at some of the most important things to keep in mind if you are looking to become a nature photographer.

#1 You’ve got to love it

Luckily this isn’t a very hard thing to adhere to, but you must love nature to excel at capturing it on camera. Nature photographers spend a lot of time outdoors. If you’re a landscape photographer, you’ll spend lots of your time hiking through scenic areas for just a few clicks of the shutter. Wildlife photographers often spend hours and hours sitting in one place, waiting for an animal to appear. Without the passion and drive behind you, this can be mind-numbing.

So it’s not for everyone, but if you’re reading this article, then chances are you have that interest programmed within you already!

#2 Be different

While it’s great that nature photography is so popular, this brings with it one big challenge – everybody is doing it. This means you need to figure out how you can be different (assuming you want your photos to be noticed).

This could be anything from focusing, and specializing on a single family or species of animal, to developing an artistic quirk and style in your photography. Personally, I spend a lot of my time photographing red squirrels – thousands of hours actually, to give you some idea. All this time has allowed me to learn about the animal, and capture behaviour that others have not managed.

Will Nicholls 5

#3 Take risks

By taking risks I mean with your time, not necessarily something dangerous to your wellbeing. As the saying, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” suggests, if you don’t take risks then you are unlikely to capture those truly mesmerizing images.

Recently in the North of England, there was a display of the aurora borealis. Typically, it is hard to predict this phenomenon, and the available forecasts only look an hour ahead. It can finish as quickly as it starts, so planning for such an event is not really possible. I decided that I wanted to capture the Northern Lights with a particular castle in the foreground, but it was over two hours away. Nevertheless, at 2 a.m. I dropped everything, and raced off to the coast. When I arrived the display was weakening, but I waited a further two hours and the lights erupted in front of me. I got home at 8 a.m., but it was well worth it.

I’m particularly pleased with this result as photographing the Aurora Borealis can be especially challenging because we are positioned only just north enough to see them.

Will Nicholls 8

#4 Be respectful of nature

Unfortunately, this is one thing that is not adhered to by everyone who calls themselves a nature photographer. Having an ethical approach to your photography, especially when it involves animals, is of the upmost importance. Those who don’t are shamed within the industry, and immediately lose the respect of the majority of photographers who really care about their subjects.

No photo should come before the welfare of an animal or place. It’s just that simple, and remembering this rule will help to improve your photos in the long run. The best photographers don’t cut corners, and you’ll find they have a great affinity with the environment.

Will Nicholls 4

#5 Think about what you’re photographing

It’s easy to press the shutter when you finally find what you’re looking for, whether that be an animal or a scene, but clicking the shutter without thought will often result in unimpressive photos. Think about what you’re trying to convey to the viewer. You want the person looking at the picture to feel like they are in your shoes, looking at the scene themselves.

For landscape photography, this often comes with effective composition, thinking about both your foreground and background to properly document a scene, and avoiding a flat appearance.

With wildlife photography, this comes from capturing the character and behaviour of an animal. Impactful photos can be achieved by establishing eye contact between the viewer and the subject.

Will Nicholls 7

#6 Introduce scale

Sometimes we are just bowled over by the scale of something in nature. Documenting this with a camera can be tricky as you’re recording a three dimensional scene with a two dimensional medium. Think about using objects to show scale in your photos.

For this photo of the Northern Lights, I photographed it above a tree. This tree is particularly famous, resting in a gap on Hadrian’s Wall in England – and it’s actually rather large itself! This helps to convey the expanse of the sky and display above.

nature photography


#7 Try a different lens

This is another way of experimenting with your photos, and it works for both landscape and wildlife photography. If you usually shoot with a wide-angle lens, then put it down and pick up a telephoto. If you use a telephoto, then try something shorter. This forces you to play with perspective, and capture something new.

Photographing wildlife with a wide-angle lens is great fun, and can result in some fun shots that incorporate the surroundings into the image.

Will Nicholls 2

#8 Plan your shoots

Just because nature is relatively unpredictable, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plan your shoots. Have an idea of a photo you want to capture, and keep at it. Maintaining a long-term study of an area, or animal, will allow you to capture something extra special. It may be that particular shot you’ve been chasing, or something completely different.

#9 Don’t give up

If it was easy then everyone would do it. Nature photography requires a huge amount of time, but it should also be something that you can relax and enjoy – it definitely shouldn’t be a burden on you.

Will Nicholls 6

Results don’t come instantly, and like anything, it takes practice to achieve great images. Since you can’t direct nature and tell it what to do, taking good photos can be a longer process than in the other disciplines, but the challenge is what keeps it interesting.

Please share any other things you’ve noticed about being a nature photographer, and your nature images in the comments below.

The post 9 Things You Need to Know to Become a Nature Photographer by Will Nicholls appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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5 Uncomfortable Truths About Photography

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There is a lot of hype about photography, it’s a booming hobby practiced by huge numbers of people around the world. With the prevalence of high quality images from our phones, and widely available, inexpensive dedicated cameras, it’s no wonder the art is so popular. But it isn’t all roses, and there are some uncomfortable things it’s best just to understand from the beginning.

Here are five truths about photography:


1. More gear won’t make you a better photographer

Don’t get me wrong, I love camera gear. New bodies, lenses, and accessories are fun and exciting, but they won’t magically make you better at photography. To be a better photographer you need to learn how to find images. The gear can help you capture them, but the finding part is up to you.

Whenever I’m thinking of buying a new piece of gear, I ask myself, “Is my current gear holding me back?” Sometimes the answer is yes. It could be that the lens I’ve been using for night photography is too slow to get the detail I need, or the limitations of my current body are preventing me from blowing up the final shot to the size and detail required by a client. In such cases, I almost always have a specific image that I want to make, but can’t, due to my equipment.

More often though, the answer to whether my gear is holding me back is no. The actual reason I want a new piece of gear is that it is shiny. I may lust over new camera stuff, but if that gear won’t improve my photography in a very tangible way, I don’t buy it.

Some images require certain equipment. Without a big telephoto, this shot of the full moon over the Andes would have been impossible.

Some images require certain equipment. Without a big telephoto, this shot of the full moon over the Andes would have been impossible.

Remember that good photography comes from your heart and your mind, not your wallet.

2. There is no “knack”


Some people take to photography quickly, others more slowly, but everyone has to learn. Photography is an art, not a gift.

A few times, I’ve been told by people looking at one of my images, “You have such a gift.” I know they are being kind, that they are offering a compliment, but I can’t help feeling insulted. I want to say, “It’s not a gift! I worked my ass off to make that image! That shot is the result of years of effort, of early mornings, and hours of travel, of study and practice, tens of thousands of failed and deleted shots, and thousands of dollars in equipment. Nothing about that image was given to me, I earned it.”

Of course, I don’t say that. Instead, I smile as though they’ve just said the nicest thing, and say thanks.


Photography can be learned. With practice you can see the way lines and light interact to create a pleasing image. Or how those elements can become jumbled, resulting in a photo that just doesn’t work. With time and effort, you get better at recognizing the difference. It’s a process I work on every day.

So no, photography is not a knack – it’s work.

3. You’ve got to be patient

I spent 20 minutes hand holding a big lens to make this image, as I waited for an albatross to turn in profile over the waves.

I spent 20 minutes hand holding a big lens to make this image, as I waited for an albatross to turn in profile over the waves.

Yeah, lots and lots of patience.

I’ve guided hundreds of photographers into wild locations to make images. Sometimes we’ve arrived at a site, and the light has been perfect, or the wildlife is waiting in the perfect place, as though they’d been staged there. But that is rarely the case. More often, we have to wait, and wait… and wait.

The pages of magazines are filled with spectacular images, timed to perfection. But those didn’t just happen. The images were made because the photographer knew how to be patient.

Few things are so hit and miss as photographing the aurora borealis. (There are lot of misses.)

Few things are so hit and miss as photographing the aurora borealis (there are lot of misses).

The best images all require time and effort.

This is a hard reality for many of my clients (students) to swallow. They just want the photo to be there, though it rarely is. To be honest, I’m not very good at patience. I like to move and explore, but it’s the times where I force myself to wait and sit silently, that I often walk away with something good.

4. There is nothing wrong with being an amateur


Being an amateur does not mean you are any less talented than a professional photographer. In fact, in many cases, I’d say it is just the opposite. You see, professionals spend much (most even) of their time doing the dirty work: invoicing, marketing, tip-tapping away at the computer, and much less time actually making and working with images. The images we professionals shoot are often those made for clients, not those we make for ourselves. Inherently, photos made for others are not as good as those we are passionate about. Amateurs can shoot whatever they please, and that means they are making photos that matter to them.

Skill and artistic sensibilities are not the sole territory of professionals. Some of the finest photographers I know do not make their living from it.


And equipment! Here is the biggest irony: pros often can’t afford the latest and best gear. With the exception of the very top people in the industry, we pros aren’t millionaires, or anywhere close. Out of our meagre incomes have to come our mortgage, food, computers, software fees, travel, and yes, camera equipment. When I made the transition to full-time freelancer, that new reality hit me like a falling piano. Science fiction writer John Scalzi once wrote that you shouldn’t consider leaving your day job until you are making TWICE your normal income with your writing (or in this case photography). It’s good advice.

So yeah, there is nothing, NOTHING wrong with being an amateur.


5. Postprocessing is a tool, not a crutch

I’m not the first to say it, but I’m going to repeat it, there is no un-suck filter. If your image stinks when it goes into Photoshop or Lightroom, it’s going to stink when it comes out, no matter how much you crop it, add contrast, or saturate.

This image took a lot of work in post-processing, but it was a solid image going in. Nothing in Lightroom will make a bad image good.

This image took a lot of work in post-processing, but it was a solid image going in. Nothing in Lightroom will make a bad image good.

For the love of god, don’t over-process your images. What matters in an image is the way it speaks to the viewer, that the photo means something. Make your image meaningful, and you won’t ever have to rely on post-processing to be successful.

Sunset over the Noatak River, Gates of the Arctic National Park, AK USA.


In the end, what really matters about photography is not the final image, but the process of making it. So forget about the shiny new gear, practice the art, be patient, don’t get caught up in labels, and make your best image in the camera. Everything else is details.

Do you have anything else you’d add to this list? Please share in the comments below.

The post 5 Uncomfortable Truths About Photography by David Shaw appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Review: Manfrotto 5001B Nano Light Stand

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Rating: 10/10

Among the most essential parts of a photographer’s lighting kit, is a sturdy light stand. While there are a wide variety of options that definitely fall into the sturdy category, many of these light stands are also heavy, bulky, and difficult to travel with. One light stand that is pretty much the complete opposite of every other option out there, is the Manfrotto 5001B Nano. Compact, lightweight, and surprisingly tall for its size, this light stand is my go-to favorite that accompanies me on every one of my photo shoots, however it won’t necessarily meet the needs and expectations of every photographer. Here are some reasons why you might love this light stand, and why you might opt for another option.

Manfrotto 5001B Nano Lighting Stand 1

Manfrotto Nano 5001B shown next to the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 lens and light stand adapter (neither of these is included and must be purchased separately).

Manfrotto 5001B Nano Specifics

Weighing in at a mere 2.2 pounds (1kg), this aluminum light stand stands at just around 19-inches (0.48m) when it is collapsed, and can extends up to 74.8 inches (1.9m) tall when all of its 5-sections are fully extended. According to the product manual, it has a maximum payload of 3.3 pounds (1.5kg) . Compared to other light stands, most of these stats aren’t particularly impressive, and it should now be apparent why the Manfrotto 5001B Nano won’t be suitable for every photographer. But, here are some situations when this light stand absolutely shines.

Manfrotto 5001B Nano Lighting Stand 1

Lighting stand as seen with a Speedlight adapter attached. Adapter sold separately.

Extremely Compact and Travel-Friendly

The main benefit of this light stand is its compact size, which makes it easy to carry when shooting on location, or in situations when you need a stand or two without carrying an excessive amount of gear. When pairing this light stand with a speedlight, and simple lighting modifiers like an umbrella or any of the Westcott Rapid Box series, you get a simple yet effective lighting setup that won’t take up a ton of room when assembled for use, and when transporting it.

Flexible Light Stand Legs

Unlike most other light stands, the Manfrotto Nano’s legs have little rubber tips to prevent sliding, and the legs themselves are very thin and not rounded, allowing the stand to fold down to 19 inches. The method of folding the stand can take some getting used to, but another unique aspect of the stand is its ability to get extremely low to the ground, thanks to the unusual folding of the legs. This increases the light stand’s overall footprint, offering increased stability, as well as the option of lighting areas close to the ground, without taking up a ton of floor space.

Manfrotto 5001B Nano Lighting Stand 1

Light stand with adapter, speedlight, and umbrella attached. The ideal use for this stand.

Trading Stability for Compact Size

As mentioned earlier, not every photographer will be in love with the Manfrotto 5001B Nano, as it often trades stability for its compact size. Flexible legs are great for packing up small, but also a recipe for disaster if the gear it holds is not balanced or is too heavy. Being very lightweight, without the option of suspending sandbags, this stand is also susceptible to being knocked over by even a slight bump or gust of wind, so outdoor photographers will want to have an assistant to hold it in place.  It’s definitely not as sturdy or as beefy as other light stands, meaning you won’t want to rely on it if you use heavy strobes, or big lighting modifiers.

In Summary

If you’re a location shooter, who doesn’t carry a ton of camera gear and has compact lighting equipment, the Manfrotto 5001B Nano will be your new best friend. Having one or two as travel light stand alternatives, will give you the flexibility to do a quick and easy lighting setup in tight spaces, without carrying extra weight. However, steer clear of these light stands if you prefer uncompromised stability and/or have heavy, valuable lighting gear.

The post Review: Manfrotto 5001B Nano Light Stand by Suzi Pratt appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Happy holi by Khan Clicks on

Holi is a spring festival in India and Nepal, also known as the festival of colours or the festival of sharing love. It’s a wonderful festival for participants but presents photographers with an amazing opportunity.

The festival happened in the last week so we thought we’d put together a collection of images from it (and previous years).

If you’ve been – we’d love to see your images from it in comments below!

Holi Matura by Vichaya Pop on

Holi-Festival of Colors by Muthu Krishna on

Lost in the Echo by Mrigankamouli Bhattacharjee on

Holi @ Banke Bihari Temple by Saravanan Dhandapani on

"The Holy Chants" by Prakash singh on

Colors Wave by WAEL ONSY on

Holi Festival Girl by Ron Kimhi on

~ Color Palette ~ by Rudra Mandal on

color gaze by AMITABH KUMAR on

The Colours Of Holi by Vichaya Pop on

Intense Colours by sathis ragavendran on

Faith by Sudarshan Das on

Holi Melody by Utkarsh Chaturvedi on

Rain of Colors by Sreejith  Babu on

Colored Face by Tom  Abraham Dcruz on

Colours of life by Prakhar Tripathi on

Holi man by dimitris manioros on

The post A Colourful Collection of Images from The Holi Festival by Darren Rowse appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Film is not dead. But since the advent of digital photography, about 20 years ago, film has certainly taken a back seat. Since just over a decade ago, when digital cameras were widely available to the masses, film has almost been completely replaced. However, there’s a lot to be learned from the disciplines of analog days, before the ability to take photos so instantly, and at a phenomenal rate and remarkable quality, was made accessible to everyone with a digital camera.

think film shoot digital creative project_0000

Back in film days, we only had a limited amount of frames we could shoot on one roll. Often the camera sat for days and weeks until we had shot all the frames on the roll of film. We then carefully rewound the film and packaged it off to the film developers, then we wait…hours, days, weeks before we even saw the images we shot. Shooting film was no doubt a methodical exercise in process and patience.

think film shoot digital creative project

But, film has made a comeback in recent years. Many professional digital photographers have added film to their arsenal, others have made the complete switch back to film, and there are those who never made the switch to digital in the first place. Exciting days for analog in this predominantly digital age!

One way to learn from the disciplines of shooting film is to think in film mode.

think film shoot digital creative project

Go out with your camera with the following restraints:

  1. Set yourself an imaginary film roll number. Limit the number of frames you can shoot to 12, 24, or 36.
  2. Keep your ISO to a set number like 100, 200, 400, or 800 – which are the common film speeds from those days.
  3. Use only one lens. I’m sure not many of us, unless we were professionals then, walked around with an array of lenses in hand. Often we just used one lens, carried no back up film, or batteries, or external flash!

think film shoot digital creative project

Now shoot like you have a film camera in your hand and adopt these mindsets:

1.Don’t spray and pray!

When you take a photo, bear in mind how many frames you have left, and think carefully before you press the shutter. You cannot spray and pray with film, therefore have to exercise restraint. Look at things carefully, with an intentional eye, and imagine what the scene might look like before you take the shot. This helps you compose the frame more meticulously, and look at the light and dark contrast of the scene with more discernment.

think film shoot digital creative project

2. Think of a story or theme, or limit yourself to one place.

Boundaries are always helpful, they stretch you to think outside the box, more than when you have all the freedom in the world to photograph anything you please. It also helps make a cohesive story at the end, should you wish to collate your photos together on a blog or in an album.

think film shoot digital creative project

3. Don’t fear deep darkness or the raging midday sun.

Film is so good at retaining details in highlight and shadow areas of a photograph, that the dynamic range of the image is miles better compared to the digital camera image. Film also has a very forgiving nature when it comes to underexposure and overexposure over a wide range of stops. So with your film brain on, don’t fear extreme brightness or deep darkness. However bear in mind the settings to use that could help you in such circumstances.

When your subject is in bright daylight, and you don’t have a light meter handy, adopt the sunny f/16 rule. This means you use the following settings: aperture f/16 and your shutter speed set to the reciprocal of your ISO, or film speed. For example, if you have set your ISO to 100, this means your aperture will be f/16 and your shutter speed to the closest of 100 which is 1/125 (or any equivalent exposure value such as f/11 at 1/250, or f/8 at 1/500).

think film shoot digital creative project

4. Go where the light is

Whether it be natural light or any other available light, whether under the brightness of the sun or just candelight in a room, find the light. Film is extremely sensitive to light and if you adjust your shutter speeds in low light accordingly, you will be surprised at how well film can capture ambient light. Remember when shooting in low light, steady yourself or your camera, lower your shutter speed and adjust your aperture (open it wide). Your ISO cannot be changed; with film you only have two sides of the exposure triangle to play with.

think film shoot digital creative project

5. Edit for a film look

Nowadays there is a plethora of Lightroom presets, and Photoshop actions, that replicate the film look. If you are a dab hand at Photoshop, you can probably do it yourself from scratch. The main elements you are after to replicate the general film look are: pastel tones, creamy highlights, soft shadows, low and controlled contrast, reduced saturation, matte look (reduced black output), creamy skin tones, and some grain. Of course the actual overall look depends of the type of film used, but this list would encompass the general look and feel that film gives to an image.

think film shoot digital creative project

The photos I have used in this article were taken with a D700 and a 35mm f/1.4G, captured one day in London when I went out thinking film and shooting digital. I shot 22 frames out of 24 in three hours, nailed 19, botched two and fixed one in Photoshop.

think film shoot digital creative project

I hope you try this exercise and have fun with it. Share below in the comments how many frames you managed to shoot under great restraint, and then celebrate!

think film shoot digital creative project

The post How Thinking Film and Shooting Digital Can Improve Your Photography by Lily Sawyer appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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