Archive for April, 2016

In an age where iPhones are shooting stellar images and high quality DSLRs are coming down in price, it’s becoming increasingly challenging for food photographers to make a living as professionals. As a food photographer in Seattle, I’ve noticed that many of my clients have become opinionated about what makes a good photo, and in many cases are shooting right next to me with their iPhones. I take it as a positive sign that clients, and most people with smartphones, are becoming more informed and educated about photography, but there is of course the notion that this could very soon make professional photography even more undervalued.

So, what’s a professional food photographer to do? Here are some tips to help make sure you capture quality food photography images that attest to the value of paying you, a professional, to do the job.

Tip #1: Don’t use natural lighting

Food photography tips

Natural lighting is fantastic, and I still try to use it as often as possible. However, many of my clients have realized the value of using natural lighting and tend to shoot their iPhone photos in naturally lit areas. Taking into account the quality of iPhone photos these days, it’s not unusual that their cell phone photos look pretty darn good, even compared to my DSLR shots. To make sure your photos always look unquestionably better than those taken with a cell phone, use natural lighting less and do some experimenting with strobes and off-camera flash.

Tip #2: Shoot in dark spaces

Taking tip #1 into consideration, take full advantage of your professional-grade camera’s low lighting capabilities, and/or your strobe lighting knowledge, by shooting dishes of food in spaces where iPhones have a slim chance of performing well. This is also a good opportunity to incorporate some of the unique features of the restaurant’s interior spaces, into your main shot.

Food photography tips

Photographed in an extremely dark space, this photo wouldn’t have been possible without a DSLR and strobe.

Tip #3: Use a macro lens

While cell phone cameras are becoming equipped with better features with every new release, many still can’t shoot quality macro photos the way that DSLRs can. Use this fact to your advantage and make a macro lens your best friend when shooting food photos. Don’t be afraid to get up close and personal, and capture the details of the dishes you’re shooting. These photos may not be exactly what your clients have in mind, but at the very least it’s always a good thing to show them an alternative perspective that reminds them why they hired you.

Food photography tips

Tip #4: Be a creative director and/or food stylist

Most amateurs approach food photos very statically, opting to shoot dishes from a seated position or overhead. Very few will get creative and incorporate people, props, or activity in their shots. This is your opportunity to shine as a food photographer. Move beyond standalone food photos and use your creativity to make a more dynamic shot. Ways to do this might be capturing action shots, adding a beverage or extra silverware in the shot, or even working with chefs to help them plate dishes in ways that will be photographically appealing. These skills are also part of the reason your client is hiring you, so don’t be afraid to exert your creative authority.

Food photography tips

Tip #5: Shoot tethered

A very simple, yet highly effective, way to come off as a polished, professional photographer is to shoot tethered. If you’re unfamiliar with tethered shooting, it is basically the act of connecting your camera to a computer or tablet, which allows your clients to see your shots on a screen just seconds after you’ve pressed the shutter. This might sound intimidating, but it’s a very simple way to make sure that you and your client are on the same page throughout the photo shoot. It also invites your client to actively participate in the shoot and give you feedback and their own ideas. Tethered shooting is very easy to do using a USB cord or even Wi-Fi technology if your camera has this capability. If you have the means to shoot tethered, definitely consider offering this service to your clients.

Food photography tips

Tip #6: Transmit photos via Wi-Fi

If you have a client who is shooting alongside you with their iPhone, chances are it’s because they want access to photos for immediate posting on social media. Do yourself and your client a favor and offer to send them images on the spot using in-camera Wi-Fi, or do a few quick edits and transmit some shots directly from your computer if you’re shooting tethered. Depending on your agreement with your client, you could even charge a little extra for these services.

Over to you

Do you have other tips for offering more professional-looking food photography that outperforms iPhones and other amateur cameras? Let me know in the comments below!

The post 5 Tips for More Professional-Looking Food Photography by Suzi Pratt appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Categories : Digital
Comments (0)

The goal of any photographer is to make each and every photo stand out from the crowd. Making an image that pops is something that we all strive to achieve, but it’s not always easy to do. Luckily, there are tools at our disposal in Adobe Lightroom that can go a long way to help us achieve an image that we can be proud of, and that catches the attention of the viewer. What are these tools? They are many and varied, but there are three central processing techniques that can make your images transcend the average, and reach the potential you intended. They are Clarity, Sharpness, and Dehaze.

These three tools are deceptively simple and subtle. When used properly, the enhancements they will make to your photos will be nearly imperceivable. They can take your image from good to great, with just a few simple clicks of the mouse. In this tutorial, I will show you how each one of these processing tools affect your photos, and how they can be put to best use, so that your photographs really stand out from the rest. Let’s get started!

After CSD


The clarity slider has been around virtually since the inception of Lightroom. You can find it in the Basic panel of the Develop module. It functions to add definition and well, clarity, to your images. It accomplishes this by darkening the lines surrounding the perimeter of objects within your photo. Think of it as contrast on steroids. The clarity slider can really add a lot of punch to your photos, and add drama.


Tips for Using the Clarity Slider

  • Don’t add too much. If you push the clarity slider too far to the right, you can begin to see unattractive halos around objects within the frame, resulting in a fake or unnatural looking photograph. If using it globally (applies to the entire image), do so judiciously. Be careful when applying the clarity slider to an entire image, most areas of your photo probably won’t need to be clarified.
  • It’s best to apply clarity after everything else. Since the clarity tool will add a good amount of contrast to your photo, it’s best to apply it towards the end of your workflow. While this is not always true, it is a good guideline to follow in order to avoid the need to backtrack.
  • Use the Adjustment Brush or Graduated Filter tools to apply it to select areas of your image that need clarity. This will enable you to apply clarity only to foregrounds or backgrounds and to specific points you want to emphasize in the image.

Clarity Adjustment

Clarity applied, viewing at 1:1

Clarity applied at +30, viewing at 1:1

Clarity slider taken too far, viewed at 1:1 (100%)

Clarity slider taken too far, viewed at 1:1 (100%)


The art of sharpening an image can often make or break the composition. Sharpening is one of those awesome features of Lightroom which has been around from the beginning, and it only seems to be getting better with time.


The sharpening tool is located under the Details panel in the Develop module. Basically, sharpening is accomplished by adding contrast between pixels so that the area being sharpened appears to have more definition, compared to its surroundings. There are a few key tweaks that you can perform in order to get the most from the sharpening panel.

Make use of the radius slider. The radius controls how many pixels around the perimeter of objects are affected by the sharpening. Think of this as the halo of sharpness. The greater the radius, the more apparent the sharpening will become. Don’t over do the details. You might think the more details you preserve in your sharpening, the better quality your image will be. This is not true. Usually, the farther you move the detail slider to the right, the more grainy and gaudy the image will be. Find a happy medium here and you will be happy in turn.

Global sharpen at +50

Global sharpen at +50

Over sharpened

Over sharpened – this is what too much sharpening looks like at 1:1

Apply sharpening only to the areas you need to sharpen. It’s easy to simply sharpen an entire image instead of taking the time to selectively apply the edit. Rest assured though, if you apply your sharpening using the Adjustment Brush tool you will have a much more aesthetically pleasing result. Much like clarity, you usually do not need to sharpen the whole photograph.

Use the masking slider with the Alt key (Option key on Mac). The masking slider can be considered the most underrated asset in the sharpening panel. It dictates what areas will be sharpened. However, by itself the masking slider is rather lacklustre. This is where the Alt key comes into play. Hold down the Alt key while you adjust the masking slider.

Sharpening Mask

You will see that the image is transformed into a black and white relief image. The areas in white are where the sharpening will be applied; the areas in black will not be sharpened. This is a great way to fine tune your sharpening when adjusting globally. (Note: to keep people’s skin from becoming overly sharp and showing every pore and bump, move the masking slider until the skin areas are black and therefore unaffected by the sharpening adjustment)


This is a feature that was introduced very recently in Lightroom CC. It is a magical little function that people seem to either hate or love.

Dehaze Slider

I for one love this little guy. It’s located under the Effects panel. The explanation of how exactly it works is somewhat cryptic. Here is an answer pulled directly from Adobe Blog:

The Dehaze technology is based on a physical model of how light is transmitted, and it tries to estimate light that is lost due to absorption and scattering through the atmosphere.

Simply put, the dehaze slider can reduce haze within your images. It can also add a mystical fogginess as well if you choose (just slide it the other way).


Basically, it will make an otherwise hazy photo more clear. This comes in handy for photographs of the night sky when your want to make the stars more pronounced, or when you have to deal with physically dense atmospheric conditions.

Tips for Using the Dehaze Slider

  • Keep an eye on your black points within the image. The dehaze slider can cause loss of shadow detail if you push it too far. Use the J key to show highlight and shadow clipping in order to preserve details.
  • Perform your white balance adjustments BEFORE you apply dehaze. The dehaze tool can do some incredible things for your photo, but it can also cause some funky color distortions if you adjust white balance after the fact. As always, strive to obtain optimal white balance before you ever begin to post-process an image.
  • Sometimes an image will benefit from added haze instead of dehazing. Experiment with adding a small amount of haze by moving the dehaze slider to the left. This can add an ethereal glow to some landscapes and even portraits.
Dehaze +20 at 1:10 view

Dehaze +20 at 1:10 view

Dehaze pulled too far

Dehaze pulled too far

As with all post-processing, the less you have to adjust after the image has been made, the better off you will be. The tools in Lightroom are a fantastic way to bring out the true power of your photographs, if you use them deliberately, and with good judgment.

Before clarity, sharpening and dehaze

Before clarity, sharpening and dehaze



After clarity, sharpening and dehaze were applied

After clarity, sharpening and dehaze were applied

Any adjustments you make to the clarity and sharpness of your photo should never make them appear unrealistic (with exceptions) or detract from your original vision. Even the dehaze tool should be used sparingly and only when required. Just as the saying goes that one brush stroke can ruin a painting, so too can one more click of the slider. The goal of post-processing is to enhance a photograph to the point of meeting your pre-visualzation. No more and no less. Experiment with the tips you’ve learned here and witness the hidden potential within your own photographs!

The post How to Make Your Photos Shine Using Clarity, Sharpening, and Dehaze in Lightroom by Adam Welch appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Categories : Digital
Comments (0)

Weekly Photography Challenge – Urban Decay

Posted by: | Comments (0)

If you live in a city now is your chance to get out and hunt for some run down, dilapidated, crumbling buildings that say urban decay to you.

Thomas Hawk

By Thomas Hawk

Weekly Photography Challenge – Urban Decay

You can handle this challenge and subject however you wish to approach it. Shoot or convert to black and white, try some HDR, how about doing some light painting at night? The choice is yours. Go find a good subject, take a friend along too, and shoot away!

NOTE: As always though – please put your safety and taking the proper precautions to ensure you aren’t trespassing on private property or endangering yourself or anyone else in the process of getting your photos. Safety and getting proper permissions come first!

Pelle Sten

By Pelle Sten

Louis Du Mont

By Louis du Mont

Babak Fakhamzadeh

By Babak Fakhamzadeh

Toby Bradbury

By Toby Bradbury

Neal Wellons

By Neal Wellons

David Barnas

By David Barnas

Share your images below:

Simply upload your shot into the comment field (look for the little camera icon in the Disqus comments section) and they’ll get embedded for us all to see or if you’d prefer upload them to your favourite photo sharing site and leave the link to them. Show me your best images in this week’s challenge. Sometimes it takes a while for an image to appear so be patient and try not to post the same image twice.

Julian Lennon

By Julian Lennon


By Freaktography

David Barnas

By David Barnas


By darkday

The post Weekly Photography Challenge – Urban Decay by Darlene Hildebrandt appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Categories : Digital
Comments (0)

Many photographers are fascinated with old things, the more decayed and falling apart the better. Urban decay and grunge is a popular subject for photographers in cities. Some go out of their way to find abandoned buildings and little known spots.

Perhaps like these images:

Wayne Stadler

By Wayne Stadler

Vincent Ferron

By Vincent Ferron




By ghalam_DAR

Anna S.

By Anna S.

Claudia M Eastman

By Claudia M Eastman

Nano Anderson

By Nano Anderson

Simon Samuelsson

By Simon Samuelsson


By olavXO

Howard Ignatius

By Howard Ignatius


By Freaktography


By Freaktography

Andre Valente

By Andre Valente


By Freaktography

Pietromassimo Pasqui

By Pietromassimo Pasqui


By Maurizio

Oreste Messina

By Oreste Messina


By Maurizio

Mariyan Dimitrov

By Mariyan Dimitrov

Daniel Go

By Daniel Go

Kamil Dziedzina

By Kamil Dziedzina


By darkday


By darkday

Guillaume DELEBARRE (Guigui-Lille)

By Guillaume DELEBARRE (Guigui-Lille)

Thomas Hawk

By Thomas Hawk


The post 25 Dilapidated Images of Urban Decay and Grunge by Darlene Hildebrandt appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Categories : Digital
Comments (0)

I love birds. In fact, I’ve dedicated much of my adult life to the study of birds. In college, I spent days exploring the beaches, forests, and wetlands surrounding southern Puget Sound, strictly in the interest of finding and watching birds. Birds lured me north to current home in Alaska, when I took a job banding songbirds in Denali National Park. My interest in migrant birds carried me into graduate school where I spent several years studying the spring migration in the Sierra de Los Tuxtlas of eastern Mexico. After grad school, I took a job as a Research Biologist here in Fairbanks, where I looked into all kinds of questions about breeding and migrating birds around the state.

Now, though I no longer work as a full-time research biologist (writing, photography, and guiding now rule my life), my passion for feathered creatures is no less strong.


I give you these biographical tidbits, because I want you to understand something about me: I care about, and understand birds. Knowledge and passion are the two most important tools I know of for better wildlife photography.

Ask someone what a wildlife photographer needs and the first thing you are likely to hear is a big lens. That helps, make no doubt, but it’s hardly the most important. No, the most important thing is an understanding of the critters you want to photograph. It doesn’t matter if your lens is as long as your leg, if you can’t find the animal you’re after.


An example: During my years as a Research Biologist, I spent several seasons studying an imperiled species of songbird that breeds in the wetlands of the Boreal Forest, the Rusty Blackbird. This species has been declining in abundance across its range for the past 50 to 100 years, and no one really knows why. In the winter, they are easier to find, when they mix with flocks of other blackbirds in the south-central United States, or forage in small groups in the wetlands of the southern Mississippi basin.

In summer, however, when the males are attired in their crisp, shiny, black plumage, they are very difficult to find. Rusty Blackbirds nest in some pretty unpleasant places: thick, mosquito-infested swamps in the northern forest of Alaska, Canada, and the northeastern states.

Having studied them for years, I had a distinct advantage when I set out to photograph this species. I knew where to find them, right down to a specific pair of birds, and I knew where to position myself for the best chance of getting foraging birds to appear within the range of my camera.


Thanks to that personal knowledge, I got some great photos of both males and females in breeding plumage, and the rarity of these images has made them some of my most published wildlife photos.

Though it helps, you don’t need the extensive personal knowledge that I was lucky to have of Rusty Blackbirds. You do, however, need a basic understanding of your quarry.

Some things to consider:


Many species migrate, or are difficult (or easy) to find during certain times of year. Birds are an obvious example. If you want to photograph congregations of migrating Sandhill Cranes and waterfowl, then you need to know when the birds are going to be present. A hint: It isn’t during the summer.

A flock of Sandhill Cranes during migration. You only get a few weeks each years to catch big flocks of this species, so you need to be ready.

A flock of Sandhill Cranes during migration. You only get a few weeks each years to catch big flocks of this species, so you need to be ready.

Seasonality isn’t limited to birds, many mammal species may only be available during a narrow time window. The Brooks River in Katmai National Park, Alaska is a famous spot to photograph bears. Though bruins are present in the area just about anytime from May to early October, if you want to photograph them catching salmon at the falls, you are likely to be disappointed if you schedule your trip in any month but July.

Red Salmon, which run up the Brooks River and leap the falls, are most abundant in July. If you don't catch the run, you won't see the bears trying to catch them at the falls.

Red Salmon, which run up the Brooks River and leap the falls, are most abundant in July. If you don’t catch the run, you won’t see the bears trying to catch them like this.

During the salmon run, the bears get close together and juveniles like these, are forced to bicker for a good fishing spot.

During the salmon run, the bears get close together, and juveniles like these are forced to bicker for a good fishing spot.

Range and habitat

Some species have a continent-wide distribution, others may be extremely limited. Almost all wildlife has preferred habitat that will dictate where, within their larger range, they are likely to be found. The range of Pronghorn includes the better part of the American west, but their habitat, intact grass and sagebrush prairie, is much less abundant. Pronghorn habitat also changes with the season, so you can see how range, habitat, and seasonality, all interact to guide you to the best place at the best time.

A Pronghorn in southern Wyoming, first light.

A Pronghorn in southern Wyoming, first light.


You may have particular behavior that you’d like to observe or photograph. Many bird species look their best, and are most active during the breeding season, but for some species, that season can be very, very short. Where I live in the interior of Alaska, the courtship period is extremely short, lasting only a few days to a couple of weeks depending on the species. Birds like the Horned Grebe are commonly found on small boreal forest ponds near my home, but they are most easily photographed during a couple of weeks in late May, when the males are setting up territories.



Thanks to the internet, most of the information you need to explore your target species is available right at your finger tips. In fact, they are so numerous, that there isn’t nearly enough space here to list them all, but I do want to make not of a few of my favorites:

  • eBird:  This site, run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a citizen science site where you can document your sightings of birds. While great for birders, it is also a useful tool for photographers. You can explore data here submitted by birders from across the country and world. The mapping function allows you to look, in very close detail, about where different species are found during the year.
  • iNaturalist:  Though put together in a similar way to eBird, iNaturalist is not limited to birds. Here you can find sighting and identification information on plants, mammals, insects, birds and just about everything else.
  • Field Guides:  Classic paper, or digital field guides are still one of the best sources of information on distribution and behavior of wildlife. I’ve got dozens in my collection, and I use them all.
  • Experts:  You can outsource your research by hiring an expert guide to get you where you need to go. If you want to photograph bears or caribou in Alaska, or the wildebeest migration in Africa, there are people who can help you decide on the best time to do it, get you where you need to go, and even point your camera in the right direction for you. Local expertise is very valuable, and though it saves time, it costs money, and may not be as rewarding as learning about, then finding and photographing your target species on your own.



Though a discussion of ethics in wildlife photography warrants a post of its own, I want to emphasize the importance of being respectful of the animals you are trying to photograph and the people with whom you share the view. Don’t disturb the animal, if it moves away, bolts, or flushes, you have gotten too close. Such impacts, when they occur again and again, can cause stress, low reproductive success, nest abandonment, or any number of other problems for wildlife. The animal’s welfare matters more than your image, so please, please, please be careful and respectful.


I take great pleasure in being a naturalist. I’d say I’m a naturalist first and foremost, and a photographer second. That might sound strange, but for me, the two go hand in hand. I find a greater understanding of the creatures I photograph leads to better images, and just as importantly a much more rewarding experience. To be a better wildlife photographer, put down the camera, and pick up a book.

The post How to Take Better Wildlife Photos: Be a Naturalist First by David Shaw appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Categories : Digital
Comments (0)

In this digital age, where we wander about with thousands of digital images held captive in our smart phones, there is something special about printed photographs. They represent something tangible and reverent – something that was worth transforming into an enduring piece of artwork, to remind us of what is important in our lives.

One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is seeing the photographs I create for my clients hanging on their walls. To me, it is the icing on the cake, the cherry on top, the grand finale that tells me I have fulfilled my promise to the people who put their trust in me as a professional.


This image set by Darlene Hildebrandt

Like many portrait photographers, I began my career selling digital files on a USB stick. I found it disheartening and unfulfilling. Wall art collections were a revelation to me. As a photographer, they gave me a structure and framework to shoot within. My session times became shorter, because I was shooting with purpose. I now had something meaningful and lasting to offer my clients; collections that tell their story in all its detail, and represent something deep that they have revealed to me.

Photo collections can be about anything. In my case, they are invariably portraits, but if your thing is landscapes, travel, macro, nature etc., you can create collections that add life and personality to you home or office, and serve as visual reminders of what is important to you.

Step #1: Consider the space you want to fill

Think about the photographs you are capturing. What is the subject matter? What do these photos mean to you? Do you want to remember a favourite holiday destination, or how confident your son looks when he plays the violin? Do you want to capture the beauty of a rare flower you grew, or your young adult daughter who is about to leave home for college?

With this in mind, think about where in your home or office you would like to see these photographs every day. Consider how appropriate the subject matter is for where you want to display it, and take into account the style of the decor and other furnishings in the room. Often photographs are displayed above a piece of furniture – above your bed or the sofa, at the end of a breakfast nook, on the wall of a study, or cascading down a flight of stairs.

image showing photo collections

A collection to fit a long, narrow space.

Once you have decided where you want to display your photos, you should have a clear idea of what the layout should look like. Big spaces demand big photos, narrow spaces require long and thin, and a stairwell may need a staggered combination of large and small photos.

image showing photo collections

A different configuration using images from the same session. This would suit a larger space.

Step #2: Decide the layout before you pick up the camera

Think carefully about the configuration of your collection before you start photographing. For example, if you have a wide space to fill and you envisage a panoramic with two or three smaller prints underneath, your main photo will need lots of space to crop it into a panoramic shape, without compromising the composition or the quality of the image. You will be hard pressed to get a panoramic crop if you’re shooting in a vertical (portrait) orientation. When I’m shooting for a collection, I allow more space around my subjects than usual. This gives me some versatility when it comes to cropping.

Likewise with the smaller prints. Think about how you would like each photo to be oriented, and ensure you shoot from an angle that will enable this. I like to orient my detail shots inward, toward the main photo.

Image showing photo collections

It helps if you know how you are going to display each photo before you capture it.

Image showing photo collections

This shows how the collection would appear on a wall.

Step #3: Keep the lighting consistent

A collection looks most cohesive when the lighting is consistent throughout. If three out of four photos in the collection are high key images with lots of white, a dark photo, or one with lots of colour, will look out of place. So, if you photographed your dog on the beach at sunset, that photo you took of him earlier in the bright midday sun will look mismatched, regardless of how adorable his expression is.

In the photo collections below, the silhouetted sunset image stands out as a mismatch. In the second version, it is replaced with an image that better matches the lighting.

Image showing photo collections

The silhouetted sunset shot in the middle looks out of place.

Image showing photo collections

In this collection, the images are unified by similar lighting.

Step #4: Stick to one subject per collection

Avoid the temptation to create a hodge podge by cramming every member of a family, or every flower in the garden, into one collection. Allow your subject to shine by devoting a whole collection to him, her (or it, in the case of an inanimate object). As a portrait photographer, my collections usually consist of one full body photo, and several detail shots which help tell a story.

The photo collection below, taken at a water temple in Bali, depicts a sacred ritual. I took so many other photos I loved at the water temple, but to put them all together would detract from the story. I will save the other photos for a different collection.

image showing photo collections

Although it is tempting to cram every photo you love into a collection, the result is much more pleasing when you stick to one subject.

image showing photo collections

My main photograph in this collection is full of colour and a variety of shapes. To complete the collection, I have chosen closer-up detail shots of just two of the many lanterns.

Step #5: Collage or collection?

A photo collection can be made up of separate pieces displayed together, or you can create a collage to print as a single piece. Your decision will be influenced by the space you want to fill, the material you want to print on, and your budget.

A collection of separate pieces tends to look more luxurious than a collage. With some configurations such as stairs, it may be your only option. Another benefit of printing each piece separately is that you can change the layout later if you want to. Also, if one piece is not working quite the way you imagined, you can swap it out for a new one.

The photos below, taken at dawn on a beach in Vietnam, will be printed as separate pieces and hung together as shown.

image showing photo collections

Displayed together, the four photos tell a story.

On the flip side, printing multiple pieces can be expensive, and it can be tricky to hang a multi-piece collection with the accuracy it deserves. Some configurations, such as the black and whites below, can look itsy-bitsy when printed separately, and look better printed as a single piece.

You can create hi-res collages like this in Photoshop, Lightroom, or the professional version of Proselect. Alternatively, you can buy ready-to-hang frames with cut-out mats designed for collections, or you can ask a framer to create a customized mat for your frame.

This collage was designed to be hung above a dining table, so the long narrow shape worked well. Background and borders are white to match the colour scheme of my clients’ home, and it is printed on metal to suit their contemporary decor.

image showing photo collections

This was designed to be printed as a single piece.

Collections and collages are a fun and interesting way to display your favourite images. With a little care and thought, they can make breathtaking displays that will last for a great many years. I hope this article inspires you to go and rescue those beautiful images of yours that are trapped in the digital world, and bring them to life!

Share in the comments section below your favourite photo collections or collages, or any hints or tips you have learned along the way.

The post 5 Steps to Creating a Printed Photo Collection as Wall Art by Karen Quist appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Categories : Digital
Comments (0)

When I first started taking on clients, as a new photographer I thought newborns would be my favorite. They seemed so easy, lying around, ready to be molded into any pose I desired, nothing to it. Fast forward five years and hundreds of dollars later, they are still my favorite, but I’ve wasted a lot of money, sweat, and tears trying to figure out how to do it correctly. If you are just starting out, either with new clients, or your own baby, this article is for you, before you throw away a lot of money.

How to get started doing newborn photography


Keep it simple with props

I figured to get the cutest newborn portraits I needed lots of hats, bows, blankets, and baskets. Then I needed colors that worked for boys, and ones that worked for girls. I bought tiny cribs, and big wooden letters to match the baby’s first initial of his or her first name. My house was so cluttered with photography gear we weren’t able to house our guests in our guest room, and I’m not even done.

I had a fake wood floor that was made of paper so I also had a pull out shelf from our armoire that was big enough to support the fake floor on the carpet. I had heaters, and backdrop stands, and so many blankets and backdrops they over took me. Every time I read an article about a photographer and what gear she used to get ONE specific photo, I would hunt down those items for myself. They mentioned she used rolled up receiving blankets under the baby’s head? Fire up Amazon, I need to get myself some of those. When would I be satisfied? I wanted to spend money on lenses, and photography classes, but I was so sure one more prop would produce the most amazing baby portrait, so that’s where all my money went.

Last year I read a photography article called, Less is More. It opened my eyes. It struck me that the baby is the art, not the props. The props will probably date your photograph (have you seen the photos that are black and white except for a red rose in color?). But a baby, on a simple background, with only the simplest of accessories, will be stunning, because of the baby. That is why I’m here to tell you, save your money, especially if you’re just starting out. You can achieve phenomenal photographs of babies with only the very basics, and it’s so much easier than trying to fit her into that basket while trying to keep her asleep!



First of all, you need something to put the baby on. If you are working on posing the baby (versus lifestyle photography which requires no posing), you need something that is slightly malleable. Many professional photographers buy expensive beanbags, but you don’t need that. I actually use a leather ottoman we have here in our house, and when I do sessions at client homes I bring it with me.

Of course, last week I forgot to load it in my car for a newborn session. I got to the house and realized it was missing. They didn’t have any ottomans of their own, so instead I pulled the two large bottom cushions off their couch and stacked them on top of each other. For both the cushions and the ottoman I layer multiple blankets on top of each other. In between the blankets I have a few layers of waterproof sheets that are leftover from my own children, and a heating pad. The multiple layers of blankets make it soft and pliable, and the top few layers are the various backdrops I use to photograph the babies on, so I just keep removing layers for the different backgrounds (see below).


I only shoot on black, white, and cream. I have gotten away from colored blankets, but that’s my choice. I used to have colored blankets as well, and you may still want that, but don’t buy the expensive options off of etsy, use blankets you already own. I do recommend neutral colors though because bright reds, pinks, and greens can cause colorcasts on baby’s skin.

Positioning the baby

The stack of blankets help the baby to sink down a little bit if you want her to, and I also bought a stack of white washcloths from Costco, that I bring with me to roll up and stick in between the blankets and the baby to get her propped and curled exactly how I want her. A boppy (feeding pillow) under a blanket may be a good way to get some of the poses you want, and I’ve found that if you can’t use a boppy, another good option is a neck pillow like you’d use on the plane. I actually prefer that to the boppy because it’s small, and perfectly sized for a baby’s body, so it helps keep the baby propped in place if you lay her on her belly with her arms and head resting on the pillow.



I like a continuous look for my backdrop, so I use the same material under the baby and stretch it up to create the background behind the baby. I own a stand that I bought for the purpose of holding up backdrops (or you can make your own), but you don’t need one of those. Invest in some heavy-duty clips, and you can pin up the material or blanket to anything above the baby. I’ve used bed frames, chair backs, stepladders, tables, etc., it’s just a matter of looking around you to see what will work. When I’m at a client’s house I pull stuff from all over the house to use during the session. I always put it all back the way I found it, and no one has ever had any issues.


Lifestyle or unposed photography

So I mentioned lifestyle photography. It’s something that is becoming ever more popular. Essentially, it’s about capturing photos without posing the family too much. Of course you will set the scene. You might move some furniture around, lay a blanket on the ground, and tell the family members where to sit or stand. But beyond that, you let them sort of do their thing. The photos are natural, realistic, and lovely. But I think lifestyle alone is not enough when we’re talking about newborn photos. Of course they are easier, and require almost no additional props at all, but most people want at least two or three posed photos of the baby alone.



Now for the accessories. Again, you don’t have to spend a ton of money on this stuff, and believe me, it’s easy to rack up a pretty big bill once you start purchasing. My favorite backdrop is a stretchy knit fabric that when smoothed over my blankets, has no wrinkles. I bought it at a craft store. I also bought an extra, smaller piece of the same fabric to wrap the babies in. I love the continuous look. But if you don’t want to buy anything at all, look around – you probably have some scarves, shawls, or small baby swaddling blankets you can use. I’m not a huge fan of big bows, but I do like small tiebacks. You can purchase one of two of them, or make your own with some twine and pretty beads.


Once you start looking around at what you already own, I bet you can find many different options for positioning, backdrops, and wraps. To add some variety you can purchase some scarves, head ties, or small pieces of material at the fabric store that won’t set you back a lot of money, but will bring the needed variety in your photos.

Good luck, and remember it’s the baby you’re trying to capture, not the props. Don’t forget those long eyelashes, those tiny toes, and those perfect pouty lips.

Small details

People photography week

This week on dPS we’re featuring articles all about different kinds of people photography including portrait, event and travel photography. See all the previous ones below, this article is the last one in the series.

The post How to do a Simple Inexpensive Setup for Newborn Photography by Kim Kelley appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Categories : Digital
Comments (0)


Photographing children is one of my favorite things to do, but at times it can also be one of the most difficult. Sometimes with kiddos, there is a very thin line between capturing memories that will last a lifetime, and capturing tears, tantrums, and meltdowns. After years of photographing nieces, nephews, friends, and my own girls, I’ve made a whole lot of mistakes. But, I’ve also picked up a few tips and tricks that help things go a little more smoothly when it comes to photographing children, that will hopefully make your life a little easier as well.

1. Choose your location thoughtfully


When photographing children, heading to a park is a no-brainer, right? Well, maybe. Parks can be really great, free resources for photographers, but it’s important to think about them through the eyes of a child as well. As a photographer, if you take a young child to a park with a playground and then attempt to have them sit still on the grass directly across from the playground for a portrait, chances are that you’re creating an scenario that may not end well. If there’s a playground in view, you’d better be prepared that the kids will want to play on it.


Sometimes, letting kids play on the playground is a great way to capture some more candid moments, and other times it is a big distraction. More and more, I find myself scheduling sessions at hiking trail heads, covered bridges, and open fields, which still allow for plenty of room to run and play, but in a location that provides fewer distractions. In addition, I find these sorts of locations to be more aesthetically pleasing for capturing those candid moments, than playgrounds often are.

2. Find ways to make them laugh


Anyone who has photographed kids knows that most kids have a fake smile, that makes an appearance any time someone asks them to smile. That fake smile is fine, and may be unavoidable to some extent, but it is always better to get a real smile or laugh whenever possible. There are so many ways to do this, but I’ll share just a couple that I’ve found to be effective with lots of different children.

The first is simply to ask them to show you a variety of different faces. It’s fun to capture the silly faces that they make, but the point is really to capture their genuine smiles and laughs at your reaction to their silly faces. In the photo above, I asked my daughter if she would show me her angry face (left), and while I absolutely love that photo, and think it actually captures her slightly mischievous personality very well, my goal was really the more natural smile (right) that came after my laughter and exclamations that her angry face was absolutely terrifying.

In my experience, most kids think it’s hilarious to run through a whole string of different faces: angry, silly, dinosaur face, prince/princess face, hungry face, tired face, surprised face, and happy face all tend to be fun, and often result in lots of genuine smiles and laughs.


Another thing that seems to work well for most kids is to simply ask them to give you a funny pose. Be ready, because you may get anything from a stuck out tongue, to much more hysterical shenanigans. I truly never know what to expect, but always be ready to capture whatever it is. I often include a few of the most silly photos in the final images, because even if they aren’t 100% perfect or they don’t fit my normal aesthetic, they just plain make everyone happy, and I think there’s value in that. There’s also a practical value during the session as well, in that once again, being silly results in genuine smiles and laughs. Time and time again, my favorite images in a session are often the ones that come directly after the silliest images.


3. Be sensitive, and keep a sense of humor

My oldest daughter once cried for a half an hour because I made blackberry cobbler for breakfast, and she wanted toast instead. My youngest daughter laid on the floor, cried real tears, and screamed that I was ruining her whole life because I asked her to put on her shoes this morning. Moments like those are rarely funny at the time, but sometimes an hour or a day later, you find yourself laughing at the absurdity of the situation.


When it comes to kids, the reality is that even if you’ve been thoughtful about the timing and location of a session, sometimes meltdowns happen for no identifiable reason, and come from out of nowhere (sometimes they even happen mid-photo, as above). Photo sessions can be kind of stressful, and feel really high pressure for both kids and their parents. Sometimes with a little humor, distraction, or quick change of plans, everyone can get through a tantrum or minor meltdown just fine, and you’ll all laugh about it years later.  Sometimes, it’s more than that, and a child may be having a meltdown because of sensory issues that you are unaware of, or because they’ve been battling a cold or they’re teething and they just don’t feel good.

Regardless of the reason, sometimes it’s clear that the kiddo is genuinely upset, and isn’t going to calm down any time soon. If a child is genuinely upset, don’t force things. If it’s possible, offering to try again on a different day can be a really meaningful good-will gesture. After all, a parent saying, “Stop crying and smile” rarely (if ever) results in those genuine smiles that we so desperately try to achieve as photographers. It’s a fine line to walk sometimes, between being sensitive to the really legitimate feelings that kids may be having, and to also recognize that sometimes kids cry and get hysterical about really silly things, and then get over them equally as fast.  If things go south, just do your best to be sensitive, while also keeping a sense of humor about things. Life is messy sometimes.


Do you have any other tips that make photographing children just a little bit easier? Please share in the comments below, and I’d love to see your kid photos too.

People photography week

This week on dPS we’re featuring articles all about different kinds of people photography including portrait, event and travel photography. See all the previous ones below, and watch for more people photography articles over the next few days.

The post 3 Tips for Photographing Children Without Losing Your Mind by Meredith Clark appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Categories : Digital
Comments (0)


People are my favorite subject to photograph, and one of my favorite ways to capture them is through lifestyle photography. I love documenting a day in the life of a family, student, or child. I love making beautiful photos out of real life happenings; the everyday stuff that we forget to treasure. Some moments are perfect and gorgeous, and other moments are more ordinary, and sometimes even unattractive; but I love every one of those moments, and I find joy in looking for the beauty in everything.

If you would like to get started with lifestyle portraiture, maybe these tips and photos will inspire you to jump right in. These photos are from a day in the life session with a sweet family. I wanted to document what a normal, ordinary day is like for them, and give them photos that they would treasure forever. We had a lot of fun together, and not only do they love the photos, but I ended up being inspired by them as I spent a little time getting to know who they are.

1 – Set yourself up for success


If you decide to do a lifestyle session and just show up without a plan, you may get exactly what you planned for – nothing. I asked the B family to tell me some of the things they enjoy doing together as a group, and we chose some that would photograph well, and represent their life right now.

We took photographs of snack time, with kids helping prepare and eat the peanut butter and apples. We took a few photographs of them jumping on the trampoline, and then we came inside while they played games together. We ended the session with something that they do every single day, and is a huge part of the fabric of their family. They read scriptures together, and prayed as a family. It was important to me to capture the essence of their family, so we planned, ahead of time, the things that would best show who they are.

There are so many scenarios that could be planned and prepared. Families are fun, because there is a lot of interaction. You could have them bake cookies together, or go for a picnic in the park. A family hike might be the perfect thing to photograph if they love the outdoors. It’s so much fun to do sessions on the lake with the family’s boat, or at home with their pets.


Although families are fun, they’re definitely not the only group of people who lifestyle photography lends itself to. A group of tweens painting fingernails together, or some kids playing a game of basketball could make great lifestyle sessions. A day in the life of a college student, or a documentary style session with an elementary school teacher could also be amazing. People are involved in so many great things, whether it be their hobbies, work, or recreation. It’s a wonderful experience to capture them in action, doing the things that they love.

As long as you don’t get too attached to it, it can be helpful to create a shot list. This could be a list of all the photos that you are hoping to capture during your session together. If all the things on your list don’t happen, don’t fret about it, but it can give you some ideas to get going.

2 – Be ready for the unexpected

180Now that you’ve planned and prepared, and set yourself up for success, loosen up and go with the flow. If you try to manage every moment, or even direct too much, you lose the realness of a lifestyle session. Things just happen during your time together, and sometimes those things are what make your most memorable photos.

In the photo to the right, the little one got quite upset over something that happened in the game, and she knew right where she had to go, and exactly what she had to do; standing with her nose in the corner was the standard procedure in her family. Although it wasn’t her finest moment, and she probably wasn’t enjoying it very much, I’m pretty sure this photo will be one that she will love when she grows up, and her parents will cherish forever.

These moments are the ones that aren’t on your shot list, because you can’t foresee them happening, but you need to be ready to capture them and include them as part of the story you are telling. You may even have days where you don’t capture one thing that you had planned, and nothing on your shot list is even available to shoot. If that happens, just go with it, and know that you may create something even better than you could have planned. If you have a calm mindset, knowing that you are prepared, but you are ready to roll with the punches, you’ll be just fine.

3 – Capture the story details


Some of your photos may not even have your human subjects in them. A lot of your photos might not show any faces or expressions. These detail shots can create interest in the group of photos chosen to represent their story, and tell the story even more deeply than if all the photos were of their faces.

For each scene you are photographing, you might consider taking the “big picture” with lots of the surroundings, and all of the participants visible in the photo. This will provide context, and help your viewer understand the setting, and exactly what is going on. Then you might want to break it down a little further, showing a close up of one or two of the people, or a close up of their hands, or the activity. You could then break it down even further, and take detail shots of what is going on, and the objects that are part of your subject’s story.


As you break down these little details, you’ll enrich your story by showing emotions, interactions, and the things that are most important to your subject. Be careful not to get too sidetracked. If you start photographing anything and everything that is in the room, your story becomes muddied, and it won’t be clear what you are trying to portray. Have a clear vision of the story you are telling, and keep that focus as you shoot.

4 – Consider different perspectives


Be creative as you figure out how to best tell the story you are trying to portray. Perspective is a great way to add interest to your photos, and show a unique point of view. There are two different types of perspective to consider.

Your perspective

Where are you located when you are taking the photograph? Try shooting from above, or below. Try shooting from behind curtains, or stair railings. Sometimes having something in the foreground makes the viewer feel like they are really seeing into the heart of someone’s life, and seeing something they wouldn’t normally see. Move closer, move back, move around. Be creative.

Their perspective

How does your subject view this activity? What might the little girl be feeling? How could you portray that in a photograph? What does the mother see when she looks at her family? Can you capture her feelings and perspective? When you are creating lifestyle portraits, your vision will definitely be part of the process, but trying to capture your subject’s perspective can add a whole new dimension to your photographs.


One of the best things about lifestyle portraiture is that there really are no rules. This opens up so much more room for fun and creativity, and takes a lot of stress off of you as a photographer. Have fun with it, and get you and your camera out there to tell a really great story. I’d love to see your lifestyle photographs in the comments below!

People photography week

This week on dPS we’re featuring articles all about different kinds of people photography including portrait, event and travel photography. See all the previous ones below, and watch for more people photography articles over the next few days.

The post 4 Tips to Help You Get Started Doing Lifestyle Photography by Melinda Smith appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Categories : Digital
Comments (0)

It’s finally happening; camera bag manufacturers are making bags for women that attempt to be fashionable. There have been lame versions in the past that included ill-fitted straps, unfashionable fabrics, and impractical designs. But how about a new bag from Think Tank?

I have zero to no fashion sense, and even less when it comes to women’s accessories. The good news is I have friends who actually care about good looking bags and one in particular, Genevieve Hathaway, agreed to take a look at the Think Tank Lily Deanne Mezzo Shoulder Bag for me.


I recently had the opportunity to put the new Think Tank Lily Deanne Mezzo shoulder bag through its paces on a few different kinds of photo shoots – from photographing a full day conference to a portrait shoots, to a day on the move chasing an athlete up and down the stairways in Seattle. The Lily Deanne Mezzo not only kept up with me, but it made my shoots even easier because of how well it performed.

The Think Tank Lily Deanne women’s shoulder bag line is designed by two of the photography industry’s most respected members, Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Deanne Fitzmaurice and Lily Fisher, Think Tank’s senior camera bag designer. They designed the Lily Deanne series to be the ideal camera shoulder bag for women photographers, and that’s exactly how I would describe this bag.


My first reaction to this bag was how it looked. It looks professional, classy, and functional, yet is understated. When I’m on assignment carrying a lot of gear, whether on a shoot in Seattle or in Egypt, I want to look professional but not have a bag that screams, “look at me, I’m a photographer.” Deanne’s background as a photojournalist shines through in this bag’s design, both in its discretion, but also in its functionality.


Using the Lily Deanne Mezzo bag, I immediately felt that this was a bag designed by a working photographer. From the wide zipper opening, to the flap which can be thrown over the top and latched with magnetic fasteners, to all the pockets and organizational units, to the slit in the back which lets you slide it over the bars of a roller bag – this bag met all my functional needs without any unnecessary bells and whistles. The level of attention to small details, and high quality craftsmanship makes this a beautiful bag to look at. The bag is a mix of strong nylon and supple full-grain Dakota leather flaps, pockets, and accents. The interior of the bag and exterior accents are a beautiful Robin’s egg blue, making this a stylish bag.

The Lily Deanne shoulder bag comes in two colors, Chestnut Brown and Black Licorice, and three sizes, Lucido (small-size), Mezzo (medium-size) and Tutto (largest-size). This bag was designed with plenty of room for pro-size lenses, no matter whether you shoot Canon, Nikon, Fuji, Sony, Olympus or any other line of camera.


The large zipper opening allows for quick and easy access of your gear. The top flap folds back completely to give full access to the interior of the bag. Or, it can be flipped forward to cover the main opening, it attaches to the front with rare earth magnets. The shoulder strap is well padded, with non-slip gripping. The success of any great shoulder bag hinges on the shoulder strap. Carrying a lot of gear around all day, I need a shoulder strap that is strong, does not slip, and is well padded. The Lily Deanne bags deliver with one of the most comfortable shoulder straps I’ve used. The bag has a lot of pockets (some zippered, some covered by magnet flaps), which really helps keep your accessories organized. The sides of the bag have expandable pouches to hold odds and ends, water bottles, or sunglasses.


Sizes and Specs

Lucido (small): Holds one standard DSLR with one to three lenses, or a complete mirrorless camera system (and three to four lenses). There is also room for an 8-inch tablet.

Mezzo (medium): Holds one standard DSLR with a mid-range zoom attached and two to three additional lenses, or a complete Mirrorless camera system (and three to four lenses). There is room for a 10 inch tablet or 11 inch laptop.

Tutto (large): Holds one standard DSLR and additional grip with a mid-range zoom lens attached, and two to five additional lenses, as well as 2 flashes, or one standard DSLR with a 70-200mm f/2.8 and two to five lenses in its main compartment and two flashes. It can fit a complete mirrorless camera system and 4 to 5 lenses. It also holds a 15-inch laptop.

In the Field

The Lily Deanne Mezzo is a great bag for lady photographers no matter what kind of job you’re on – event, editorial, commercial, photojournalist, wedding, or portrait shoot. Short of needing a backpack camera bag to carry a lot of gear over a long distance; this shoulder bag will handle pretty much any other type of scenario.


I shoot with the Fuji professional line and was able to easily fit in the bag: the Fujifilm XT-1, 18-55mm lens, 23mm f/1.4 lens, 10-22mm f/4 lens, and 50-140mm f/2.8 lens, along with a flash, and all my accessories. I still had room to fit an additional small prime lens.

Using this bag, it was very easy to access all my gear. I loved all the organizational pockets, which eliminated the need to hunt around for batteries, lens clothes, my phone, business cards and extra memory. The top flap is a great feature which allows you to keep the large zipper open, but cover your gear with the flap. The magnets keep the flap secure, while also allowing for very quick access to gear in time sensitive situations.

The shoulder strap is incredibly well designed, well-padded, and doesn’t slip around. While testing this bag on a 10 hour photoshoot of a conference, carrying all my lenses (which includes one mid-range zoom) and a flash setup, the bag did start to make my shoulder and neck sore toward the end of the shoot. But any shoulder bag, full of heavy camera gear, would have given the same result.


The Think Tank Lily Deanne shoulder bags are one of the best women’s bags I’ve used, arguably the best shoulder bag I’ve found. It balances understated elegance with functionality and comfort. I highly recommend this bag for women photographers looking for a great shoulder bag.

The post Review: The Think Tank Lily Deanne Mezzo Shoulder Bag by Peter West Carey appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Categories : Digital
Comments (0)

In a recent article called: Getting Started with Layer Masks in Photoshop – a Beginners Tutorial, I showed you the basics of layer masks and why they are such powerful tools. Layer masks are essentially what gives Photoshop layers much of their power. They allow you to tell Photoshop exactly where you want your changes applied, and to what degree.

In that article, I also showed you how to use layer masks in pictures where you had a defined edge to the areas you wanted to change. Photoshop has a lot of great tools that allow you to make selections, which you can then use to define the mask.

Here is a picture I took in Florida where I used layer masks and to accentuate parts of the image without changing other parts.

Here is a picture I took in Florida where I used layer masks and blending, to accentuate parts of the image without changing other parts.

But what about pictures where you have a soft edge? Or where you want to blend in the effect gradually? That’s what I will cover in this article. It will pick up where the prior article left off, so if you haven’t seen that one yet, check it out. Once you have reviewed the basics of layer masks in that article, come back here and we will get started.

Step 1: Create an Adjustment Layer

The first thing to do is make the changes you want to the image, which will then be blended into the selected areas later. To make those changes, I am going to create a Curves adjustment layer. As mentioned in the prior article, Curves adjustment layers are one of the most powerful tools in Photoshop. They allow you to selectively effect brightness, contrast, and/or color. To create one, just select Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves. You can also click on the Curves icon in the adjustment layer panel. Don’t worry though – we are not going to do anything complicated with the Curves Adjustment layer.


Of course, you don’t have to use a Curves adjustment layer to make adjustments to your picture, you can use any of the adjustment layers offered by Photoshop. If you are more comfortable with Levels, use that. If you want to change the brightness levels, there are Exposure and Brightness/Contrast adjustment layers. If you want to make changes to color, you can use the Hue/Saturation or Vibrance adjustment layers. I consider Curves to be one of the most powerful tools in Photoshop, so that is what I use, but you can use whichever one you want, or you are most comfortable using.

Step 2: Add in the Effect

Once your Curves adjustment layer is created, just add the effect that you want. Remember that a white mask is automatically applied to all adjustment layers – so it reveals everything – but we will change that in a second.

I want to add contrast, therefore I will just scoot in the endpoints of my curves adjustment layer. You can also drag the line up or down in places. The idea is to steepen the curve where you have a lot of pixels. Doing so adds contrast, which is what we want.

You don’t need to do anything fancy here. Go ahead and add the effect to a greater extent than you will want it in your picture. In other words, overdo it. Don’t worry if the picture doesn’t look quite right.


In addition, don’t worry that the effect is occurring across the entire picture at this point. We will make the changes apply selectively in just a second. For now, just look at the area of the picture where you want the effect to be applied and add it in accordingly. For example, in this picture below, my change is added to the entire picture, even though it results in effects I don’t want (like blowing out the sky on the right). We will fix that in the next step.


The left side of this image shows the original image, the right side shows it after the application of the curves adjustment layer. Notice the far right portion of the sky is blown out, but we’ll remedy that by limiting where the effect applies in the next step.

Step 3: Brush it in

Now comes the part when you limit the areas where your changes apply to the image.

Start by masking off the entire image, just press CTRL/CMD+I to do so. You will notice that two things happen. First, the effect you just added to your picture is hidden, it’s as if you never made any changes (don’t worry, the changes are still there, they’re just hidden). Second, the box next to the adjustment layer you created turned black. The box represents the layer mask. As we discussed in the last article, a white layer mask means the changes show through to the image (which is why you saw the effect of the changes when the layer mask was white). A black layer mask means the effect does not show up on the picture. Since our layer mask is now black, the effect does not apply anywhere in the picture.


Now we can begin the process of adding the effect in gradually. To do so, we will use the Brush tool. You can select it from the list of tools on the left side of your screen (tool panel), or you can just press B to call it up. While you are at it, go ahead and press the D key on your keyboard. This will ensure that the brush is set to its default foreground color, which is white, which is what you want since you will be adding the effect to the picture.

If you just left the brush as is, when you used it to paint in your picture, it would add the effect 100%. That is not what you want here. You want to add the effect in gradually, so it blends in. Therefore, go to the top of your screen and find Opacity. Pull the Opacity to the left until it is in the range of 5% to 15%. In my case I will use 10% (you can also just type 15 on your keyboard and it will apply to the opacity of the brush while that tool is selected). The lower the opacity, the less the effect gets added with each brush stroke – and the more gradual the change. If you have the patience to keep the Opacity very low (some people go as low as 2-3%), you will be rewarded with very gradual changes.


Now you will just paint in the effect. Before you do so, also make sure that the hardness of your brush is set to 0%. You want as soft a transition as possible. In addition, use as large a brush as your picture allows. The larger the brush, the softer the transition. The easiest way to change the size of your brush is with the square bracket keys. The left bracket [ makes the brush smaller while the right bracket ] makes it larger.

Now just click in the areas where you want the effect applied. You will have to do this multiple times because you have the opacity set very low. That is okay though, be patient. By doing it this way you are ensuring that it’s blended in gradually. You can also add the effect more in some places and less in others. Just click a few more times where you want the effect to be the most visible.


Step 4: Check Your Work and Adjust

You can check your work by clicking the eyeball next to the layer. When you turn off the layer, Photoshop will show your image without your effect added. Click the eyeball again to see your progress and turn the layer back on.

Here is the histogram after using the brush tool to paint in white. It shows only the pixels that were selected via the brush.

Here is the histogram after using the brush tool to paint in white. It shows only the pixels that were selected via the brush.

If you found you overdid the effect, you can always back it off. You do so by turning the color of your brush from white to black. Remember that white reveals the adjustments, black hides them. You could undo the effect by stepping backward (Edit > Step Backward), but the easiest way to do so is just press the X key (that switches the foreground and background colors so you now have black on top). Now when you use your brush it will be removing the adjustment you created. Remember that your opacity percentage applies whether your brush is painting with white or black. When you are done removing the adjustment, press the X key to go back to a white brush and continue adding the effect where you want it.

You can also go back and adjust your Curve after you have brushed it in. In fact, you should get in the habit of checking the curve your originally set. Once you have used your brush tool, the histogram will show only those pixels within the selected area (where you painted white). In general, you will want to make sure that the steepest part of the curve corresponds with the part of the histogram where you have the most pixels. Make a tweak to your curve to make sure it looks how you want.

Step 5: Repeat

Another great thing about this technique is that you can do it over and over again. It’s not uncommon to see photographers with a long list of layers, where they have made adjustments to specific parts of the image. You can use this technique to change the brightness values of the picture, making parts lighter or darker. You can also change the contrast, as we did above. You can even change the colors by going into the individual color channels of the Curves adjustment layer. Of course you could also use the brushing techniques above on a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer.

Here I used the same process that was set forth above to brighten the water. I created another Curves adjustment layer, turned the layer mask black, and then brushed in the effect with brush set to white at low opacity.


Other Changes to Your Image

In this particular image, I also wanted to sharpen the pier without sharpening the rest of the image. To do this, I will use the High Pass Filter (which is a remarkably powerful sharpening tool) and apply a layer mask to limit the effect to the pier. This will demonstrate the use of this layer masking technique outside the context of adjustment layers, which we have been using so far.

First, let’s quickly walk through the use of the High Pass filter. To sharpen with the High Pass filter, first duplicate the layer (CTRL + J). Then change the blending mode to Overlay (don’t worry about how this makes your image look). After that, call up the High Pass filter (Filter > Other > High Pass). This will result in a small dialog box where you set the amount. Here I will go with an amount of about 4, which I find is pretty typical. Press ok and the effect will be applied to the entire image. This is a pretty handy sharpening technique, but we’ll make it better by applying it only to a specific area (the pier).

To do this, we’ll add a layer mask and use the same brushing technique. Since we are not starting with an adjustment layer, we will need to add a layer mask. Just click on Layer > Layer Mask > Hide All, which will create a black layer mask. After that, select your brush (press B), set the color to white (press D for default), and set your opacity. Whereas you had been using a very low opacity earlier, in this case you can use a much higher Opacity. Brush in the effect just on the pier and watch it become sharper.



Although this technique is fairly simple, it is a pro move. I know photographers that edit their photos with nothing but a series of Curves adjustment layers where they blend in the effect in this manner. Give it a shot on some of your photos and I believe you will like the results.

The post How to Blend in Adjustments Using Layer Masking in Photoshop by Jim Hamel appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Categories : Digital
Comments (0)

Corporate events may not be every photographer’s dream, but they can certainly be interesting and maybe even fun depending on the assignment. As a freelance event photographer, about half of my shoots are corporate events, and they are among my favorite things to shoot. There’s always lots to learn from the speakers at these events, and they tend to be relatively easy gigs to shoot if you use a pre-planned shot list and know what to look for. This article details the six key people shots that you absolutely must focus on when photographing corporate events.

#1: Posed shots of VIPs

Every corporate event will have its own form of VIPs, and your client will definitely want lots of images of them. Larger events will typically have recognizable local or national celebrities as their designated VIPs, while smaller events may have harder to recognize internal executives as their VIPs. Either way, it’s important to check with your client ahead of time to get a list of their VIPs in attendance, and ideally someone on-site who will help you identify them. Always make sure you understand the perimeters of photographing these VIPs as some, particularly celebrities, can be image-conscious. Whenever possible try to get posed shots of these VIPs with signage in the background that shows proof that they were present at your particular event.

Seattle Corporate Event Photographer

Actor Billy Dee Williams posing at a step-and-repeat.

#2: Posed and action shots of keynote speakers

Corporate events typically include keynote speakers who may or may not be the VIPs described above. Before you start shooting, grab ahold of the event program, and find out who are the keynote speakers. Work with your client to arrange posed shots of the keynote speakers both alone and posed with VIPs. Also, don’t forget to get plenty of shots of the keynote speaker, from a variety of angles, giving his or her speech.

Sattle Corporate Event Photographer

Actor and activist George Takei giving a keynote address.

#3: Candid shots of VIPs and Keynote speakers

In addition to getting posed shots of VIPs and keynote speakers, it’s also important to get candid shots of them interacting with each other, or event attendees. Depending on the nature of the event, these opportunities could include book signings, meet and greets in the green room, or an organized step-and-repeat photo booth. These days, many candid shots of VIPs will include selfies with guests, which can be a challenge to capture, so be prepared for that!

Seattle Corporate Event Photographer

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson posing for a selfie with a fan.

#4: Posed shots of attendees

Depending on the type of event you’re photographing, most attendees will be looking their absolute best and will want photos of themselves. Always be on the lookout for well-dressed and energetic event attendees, and don’t hesitate to approach them to ask for a posed photo. Along these lines, it’s also not unusual to have at least one event attendee who doesn’t want to be photographed. Sometimes, you’ll be made aware of this by your client, and other times the attendee will explicitly tell you themselves. Either way, respect the wishes of the attendees, and definitely do not photograph someone who doesn’t provide consent.

Seattle Corporate Event Photographer

Corporate event party attendees.

#5: Candid shots of attendees interacting

Most corporate events are held for two main reasons: to give keynote speakers chances to educate and address an audience, and to allow for networking among attendees. Always be on the lookout for attendees chatting or interacting with each other, and get their reactions while they are listening to keynote speakers. Ideally, make sure these shots incorporate some form of your client’s branding materials, such as a brochure or sign, to give the photos context.

#6: Full room shots

A final type of corporate event photo that almost every client will request are shots that show off how many attendees were present at an event. This can be tricky depending on the type of venue you are photographing at, and whether or not the event is actually well-attended. Addressing these two challenges can usually be solved in one of two ways:

a) Get a bird’s eye view

Try to get access to a ladder, stool, balcony, or some vantage point within the venue that will let you shoot from overhead and capture wide-angle shots showing a full room. If the room isn’t really that full, try to find angles or special crops that still hint at a room being moderately full. Your client will appreciate the extra effort.

Seattle Corporate Event Photographer

Shooting from up high to show a different vantage point.

b) Get up close and personal

Whenever possible, I always ask my client to make sure that the first several rows of seats or tables at an event are packed with as many people as possible. This way, I can always make an event feel well-attended, even when it’s not. The approach in this case is to avoid wide-angle shots and shoot as close to the stage or from wherever the keynote address is being made, including as many rows or tables of people as possible.

Seattle Corporate Event Photographe

This was actually a well-attended event, but an example of how to shoot up close with attendees in the frame.

In Conclusion

These are just several types of photos to always capture when photographing a corporate event. Above all, it’s important to understand why clients hire corporate event photographers in the first place. Typically, the reasons involve showing visual documentation of special people who were at the event, the fact that the event was well-attended, and the fact that event attendees were engaged and enjoyed themselves. Always keep these overall goals in mind when photographing an event and be sure to snap photos that help you and your client meet these overall objectives.

People photography week

This week on dPS we’re featuring articles all about different kinds of people photography including portrait, event and travel photography. See all the previous ones below, and watch for more people photography articles over the next few days.

The post 6 Must-Have People Shots to Capture When Photographing Corporate Events by Suzi Pratt appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Categories : Digital
Comments (0)