Archive for August, 2016

When you begin doing portrait lighting for the first time, the general advice you get is to put your light at 45º to your subject, and aim it down at 45º. It’s a quick way to get something reasonably good, without a lot of understanding. With a little more knowledge, you can make better lighting decisions, and get more dramatic images.

4 Common Lighting Styles to Get the Perfect Portrait

Light has four main properties:

  1. Quantity
  2. Quality
  3. Color
  4. Direction

In this article, we’re looking at direction of light only. If you look at the work of the Masters in painting, you’ll notice that they go to great pains to create light and shadow through their brush strokes. You can of course translate these to your own lighting. So let’s look at the different portrait lighting styles or patterns you can use.

To be able to see these patterns, your subject should be facing the camera. The key to seeing what’s happening is to pay attention to what the shadow is doing, especially the nose shadow.

Short Lighting with a Butterfly pattern.

Short lighting style

For this setup, I’ve used an Elinchrom BXR500 with a 44cm white beauty dish. The deflector is translucent, and I’ve added a grid to control the spill of the light. The Camera was a Fujifilm X-T10 with a Fujinon 18-55 lens.

The Portrait Lighting Styles

1. Butterfly Lighting

Butterfly lighting refers to the shape of the shadow under the nose that this pattern creates. It’s meant to look like a butterfly in flight, viewed from straight on. It’s also called Paramount lighting when used with guys to sound more masculine. If you look at the work of 30s and 40s Hollywood photographers like George Hurrell, you’ll see this lighting style in operation.

Classical Lighting Patterns 01

The basic butterfly portrait lighting, with no reflector.

First you should place your light on a boom stand, and position it so it creates a line between you, the light, and your subject. Your light should be high enough to create the butterfly shadow. If it’s too low, you won’t get a shadow and the light will be too flat. If it’s too high, you’ll have the nose shadow will cut into the lip.

As you look into the eyes of your subject, make sure you can see a reflection of your light. This reflection is called a catchlight, and helps give life to the eyes. If you cannot see the catchlight, lower your light a bit.

Classical Lighting Patterns 02

The basic butterfly portrait lighting, with silver reflector.

With Butterfly Lighting, it’s common practice to put a reflector (or even another light at lower power) underneath the chin to bounce light back up. This helps soften the look, and reduces the shadows caused by your light position. You’re not trying to overpower the light from above, as doing this will cast shadow upwards on the face, which isn’t particularly flattering.

Classical Lighting Patterns 03

Behind the scenes shot of the basic butterfly lighting, with a reflector.

2. Loop Lighting

For Loop Lighting, you’re looking for a loop shaped nose shadow. Move your light to the left, or light from the centre. You’ll see the shadow change shape. With Loop Lighting, the nose shadow shouldn’t touch the shadow side of the cheek.

Classical Lighting Patterns 04

Loop Lighting

You should aim to have the bottom of the nose shadow about halfway between the lip and the nose in position. With Loop lighting, you’ve got two main options for filling in shadows. You can use a reflector, or a second light from the opposite side of the face as the key light, or you can use an on axis (behind the camera) fill light (like a ring light or an Octabox).

3. Rembrandt Lighting

If you move the key light around a farther, the nose shadow will meet the cheek. Some refer to this as closed loop lighting, with the normal Loop Lighting being referred to as open loop lighting. From a technical standpoint, Rembrandt Lighting usually has a higher light position than closed loop lighting, but for most the term Rembrandt refers to any light that creates a triangle of light below the eye opposite the light source.

Classical Lighting Patterns 05

Rembrandt Lighting

You can probably guess that the name is based on the work of the painter Rembrandt. A lot of his portraits were painted while the subject was lit from a skylight or high window, giving that famous look.

Classical Lighting Patterns 06

Behind the scenes making a Rembrandt Lighting.

4. Split Lighting

You’ve moved the light slowly from straight on, and your final light style is when the light is perpendicular to the camera. You’re lighting only one half of the face. One of the most famous uses of this is The Beatles album ‘With The Beatles’, where all four members are split lit. You should only be able to see one eye in the shot for this pattern (the other will be in shadow).

Classical Lighting Patterns 07

Split Lighting.

Classical Lighting Patterns 08

Behind the scenes for Split Lighting.

Broad and Short Lighting

To show how the patterns work, you’ve shot straight on to your subject. In real life this is only one view that you’d capture. By turning the face to the side you get even more options. When the face is at an angle, there are two parts of the face visible, the broad side, and the short side. The broad side is the one nearest you, from the ear to the nose. The short side is the small bit of the side facing away from you, that you can actually see.

By aiming the light at the broad side of the face, you see the face in detail, with very little shadow. On the other hand, if you light the short side of the face, you get more shadow. These lighting positions are referred to as Broad and Short Lighting respectively.

You can use Short Light to flatter heavier subjects, as the shadow tends to hide weight in the face. Broad lighting is better for thinner people, and is often used in fashion. For the Short Light example, the light was in the same position as our Split Lighting, the model has just been turned towards the light. For Broad Lighting, you can have it any where in front, though for this example, it was off to camera right.

Classical Lighting Patterns 09

Broad Lighting (main light is to camera right).

Classical Lighting Patterns 10

Short Lighting (main light is to camera left, closer to the background than the subject).

Creating Drama

The trick to creating drama is to use shadow effectively. For this reason Short Lighting is the best option. You can use each pattern in a short light fashion.

Remember at the start, you were told to pay attention to the nose shadow? For Butterfly, you’re still looking for the butterfly shadow. The light will be directly in front of your subject’s nose to get this. As you move the light away, towards Loop position, it’ll start to become more dramatic. You can even do a Rembrandt portrait for really dramatic effect.

Classical Lighting Patterns 11

Rembrandt Lighting, Short lit with no fill.

Classical Lighting Patterns 12

Rembrandt Lighting, Short lit with silver reflector fill.

So that’s how to use common portrait lighting styles or patterns. You should get familiar with them, and as you look at magazines and online, you’ll start to see them in use.

Examples of Portait Lighting in photos

Classical Lighting Patterns 16

Short Lit Loop Light

Classical Lighting Patterns 14

Split Lighting


Butterfly Lighting

Short Lighting with a Butterfly pattern.

Short Lighting with a Butterfly pattern.

The post 4 Common Lighting Styles to Get the Perfect Portrait by Sean McCormack appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Getting started in photography can be quite scary. We all start by investing in a DSLR, and think we are going to take amazing images. In reality it is a bit more difficult, because if it was easy… well everybody would sell prints, quit their day job, and live off photography.

Just like any art, photography has to be learned, and practiced – a lot. It is a trial and error process, we all start at the bottom and build our way up.

5 tips photography 1

If your images do not look like you imagined them, then try a different approach. Just do something. Einstein said that the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

#1 – Gather information and knowledge

Photography is the best hobby you could have, but it is a lot of hard work. I personally don’t believe in talent. The first tip I can give you is to absorb as much information as possible. How do you do that ? Well you have so many free resources on the internet, the only need to take advantage of it. Since you are reading this, then you’re on the right track.

By resources, I mean articles online, magazines, and YouTube tutorials. You can learn so much in less than 30 minutes. One other tip I can also give is to check multiple resources for the same topic.

5 tips photography 2

Read photography magazines. They have amazing stories and tutorials.

For example you want to learn how take portraits – don’t read or watch only one tutorial. The more you research, the more you will learn, because sometimes one article won’t give you all the answers to your questions, but another article will.

You should also anticipate. What I mean by that, is to learn about it, before trying to do something.

For example, say you want to buy a new DSLR. You should learn how to use it before you actually buy it, read reviews and tutorials. If you are planning a trip to the sea, then learn seascape photography before travelling.

5 tips photography 3

Photography is spending hours and hours on research.

#2 – Try all kinds of photography

This brings me to my second tip: don’t focus on only one type of photography. Of course, if you like portrait photography then do that. What I’m trying to say, is that you should explore all the possibilities, before focusing on only one type of photography. Try to add variation by learning about macro photography, landscapes, portraits, wildlife, etc.

5 tips photography 4

Try super sports car photography. It’s so fun, just protect your ears.

You may be surprised by the results you get, and if you never try, you will never know if you actually like photographing birds or not. From my experience, the more you learn, the more you’ll be able to do things. It’s better knowing how to do five things than only one. Starting photography and only wanting to take portraits is not the right mindset. It’s just like food, if you don’t try new food, you will never know if you like it or not.

#3 – Photography is an investment

The third thing you should know is that photography is a big investment. You will need to buy lenses, camera bodies, tripods, and filters, which will end up being quite expensive. If you are not smart with your decisions, then your bank account can end up in tears.

It may seem confusing when I tell you to try different types of photography, but then warn you about buying too much gear. If you want to try macro photography, don’t buy a macro lens right away. Just buy extension tubes (or close-up filters) until you know if you are serious about macro. They cost a lot less, and increase your focusing distance dramatically.

5 tips photography 5

A very inexpensive $30 ND Filter.

For filters, you can buy $20 Neutral Density filters for your landscape photography. Of course they won’t have the same quality as the professional ones, but it’s a good place to start.

I started photography with a phone, then moved up to an entry level DSLR, and now I own a full frame camera. But, it took me four years to go from my phone to full frame, so don’t go out and buy the best DSLR ever, find something that will suit where are you starting first.

5 tips photography 6

Phone photography

Make smart decisions, a normal kit lens is enough to get started in landscape photography.

#4 – Post-processing is a good thing

The fourth tip is about post-processing. Most beginner photographers underestimate the power of post-processing. It can make or break an image, that’s why my first point is important. You have to learn and fail in order to succeed – once you learn how to master software like Lightroom and Photoshop, your photography will become more like a process, because you will automatically think about post-production.

5 tips photography 7 5 tips photography 8

For post-production, I also recommend learning about the same topic from different sources. There are a lot of different ways to do the same thing, you just have to find which way works the best for you. It doesn’t matter how you do it, the important thing is the end result.

For example, for dodging and burning an image I prefer using a curves layer with a mask, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know how to dodge and burn using grey layers.

Post-production can be quite scary because there are so many tools, but once you master a certain software, you will be able to work on your worst shots and get the best out of them.

I would say that post-production is almost indispensable. There are a lot of photographers who want natural photography, but that doesn’t exist. Your colours will get interpreted anyway, it’s up to you to decide if you want your camera to do it automatically, or if you want to take control over everything.

5 tips photography 9

Simple snapshot with my own interpretation of colors.

#5 – Good photographers create depth in their images

The last thing you should know is that photography is all about creating depth. There are many ways of creating depth; you can do it with light and contrast, colours, movement, a solid composition, and with depth of field.

You should aim to have at least one of these elements in your images. If you can mix all these elements in one image, then your result will be even better.

With light and contrast you can play around with shadows, and dodging a burning. The main purpose is to have uneven lighting on purpose – try to avoid flat lighting. Some area should be lighter than others, and some darker. You also want to know which lighting conditions will give you the best results. For example, if you like shooting landscapes then you will want to know that you get the best light during the magic hour (blue hour).


Composition is the most important thing, try to use a foreground, middle ground and a background. The rule of thirds is also really useful to frame your subject in a pleasing way.

5 tips photography 10

With colours, the main purpose is to have tones that go together. Always look at your colour palette and see what works best. This is quite difficult to do, but one tip I can give you, is that when the colours do not look good, convert your image to black and white.

For movement, try long exposures, they are a good way to create a surreal images.

The last thing is depth of field. This is very important if you’re taking portraits, the amount of background blur can completely change an image. If you want to learn about it here’s another article I wrote: How to Achieve Background Blur or Bokeh where I explain three easy ways to achieve a nice bokeh.



So if you’re just getting into photography, consider these five things as you begin your journey. Learn everything you can from multiple sources, try different kinds of photography to see what you like, don’t get caught in gear envy, don’t be afraid of post-processing and remember to add depth to make more interesting images.

Are you further along in photography? What other advice would you offer to new photographers? Please share in the comments below.

The post 5 Things Newbies Should Know About Getting Started in Photography by Yacine Bessekhouad appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about Adobe Lightroom, now’s your chance to do it with our brand new Lightroom Mastery Course – and if you act fast you can save 50%!

Over the last few years here at dPS we’ve noticed that the most common tool that our readers use to process their photos is Lightroom.

Along with this rise in the use of Lightroom we’ve noticed that many of our readers are coming to us with questions about how to use it most effectively and the feeling of being overwhelmed by how to get started with it.

So earlier this year we approached Pro Photographer and Lightroom Expert Mike Newton to create a course for our readers on how to Master Lightroom.

Mike went above and beyond and created Lightroom Mastery – a course that we’ve had some fantastic feedback on.

Here’s what one of our readers said about the course a few days after it launched.

Lightroom mastery course review

Belle wasn’t the only one – much of the feedback was along similar lines with readers reporting that they finally felt like they knew how to take control over Lightroom and to develop a workflow to help them take their photos to the next level and create beautiful images.

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  • Workflow – Lightroom presets, finding lost photos, stacking, the face finder tool, lights out mode, and more advanced topics!
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The post Discover the Secrets of Lightroom: 48 Hours Left to Save 50% Off Our Lightroom Mastery Course by Darren Rowse appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Since the advent of digital photography there has been one program that has been the penultimate of all image editing – Adobe Photoshop. There is no denying that it is powerful, but many find it confusing and hard to learn. Another aspect that some people aren’t sure about is the new subscription based ownership. So for many, another solution to the predicament is On1 Photo 10. It’s a program that is not that expensive, and can do most of what the majority of photographers want.


Image processed with the Enhance Module in On1 Photo 10

Overview of On1 Photo 10

The On1 Photo 10 editing software has been around for some time, and you may know it more as plugins for Lightroom and Photoshop. However, recently it has been given a new look, and it is now also a standalone program. This means you don’t need another program to be able to use it. You can download it and do all your editing within its confines.

When you open On1 Photo 10, it looks a bit like Lightroom, but that is about it. Locating all the tools is different, but not so different that you can’t find things. When you begin using On1, a window pops up with several videos to teach you how to use it. It is advisable that you watch them and learn. They are not very long, but they are packed with useful information.

On the right side of the panel there are a series of modules that you can edit your photos in. Each one is specific and gives you different options.

Browse Module

In the Browse section you can look at your photos and catalogue them, decide where you want them, and upload them to Cloud storage facilities like Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive. It is similar to Bridge in Photoshop or the Library Module in Lightroom. You can make the images larger, so you can get a better look at them and decide which ones you want to work on.

When you want to start editing, the other modules are there for you to use.


Browse Module, here you can view your photos and move them around.

Enhance Module

When you open your photo into the Enhance module you can do some basic editing, for example: changing the exposure, adjusting whites, black, shadows, and highlights. It will allow you to fix the white balance and help with noise reduction. This section is where you get your image ready for further work. It is like the preparation area before you go on to do the real work.

Similar to Lightroom, On1 works in a non-destructive manner. If you don’t understand that, it means nothing you do to your image is permanent. If you do something to it and don’t like it, you can go back and reverse the change. When you are just learning photo editing, it is good to work with software that allows you to work this way, without having to worry about ruining your image.


The Enhance Module allows you to do some basic editing to your images.

Effects Module

In Effects, you can add filters and presets to your photos. There is a large variety of them, and each one has several options within. You have the option of creating your own and saving them (just as in Lightroom), which is very helpful if you want to use the same one a lot.

There is a difference between presets and filters. On1 explains that presets do multiple effects, while the filters have only one. When using any of them you can make adjustments so it is as strong as you like, or they can be made to have less effect. You get to be the judge of how you want the final result to look.


In the Effects Module you can apply presets and filters to your images.


You can see what the presets or filters will do to your image, if you click the grid you will get a larger of view of each option.


You can see what each preset or filter will do and when you decide which one to use, just click on it.


On1 will then apply it to your image.

Portrait Module

Portrait module is possibly is the hardest one to use. For people who photograph portraits on a regular basis, though, it may seem more intuitive. You have to work out faces, and point out the eyes and mouth to the program. Then it will whiten the eyes, and make the lips lighter. You also have the option of going back over everything and readjusting the settings. While whitening the eyes can be nice, if it is done too much it looks very strange.


On1 allows you to do specific work to faces, and asks you to highlight the eyes and mouth so it can to its thing.


You can work on the skin and other parts of the face as well.

Layers Module

On1 Photo 10 also has the ability to work in layers, so if you like working with texture overlays and replacing skies, you will like this module. It makes these very easy to do, especially the former.

The program comes with a number of textures, backdrops, and borders. You could quite easily just use what it provides, but it also has a section where you can add your own. So, you can upload any textures you have collected and apply them to your images.

As with most sections in On1, you can adjust, and then decide how strong the layer will be. There are blending options and tools are available if you want to remove part of it too.


The Layer Module lets you work in layers, there are also some tools on the left that allow you to do some specific processes.


You can apply textures.


Or you can replace a sky, which is very easy with the masked brush tool.

Resize Module

Figuring out how to resize an image is easy, and fairly straight forward. It is a task that many people usually find difficult. I often see people putting up large images on the internet because they don’t know how to make them smaller. On1 has a separate module where you can make them  the size you want. If you want to resize it for something special, there are options available for that as well. There are no excuses now for loading images that are too big.

Who would use On1 Photo 10?

If you like plugins and seeing the different effects on your images, you will love this software.  It is perfect for someone who is just starting out, and looking for software that is simple and easy to use. Many of the other programs can get you bogged down because of how complicated they are, On1 has great online help and there are a number of videos available to help you work through it.

Experience using On1 Photo 10

I have to admit that while I know how to use many different types of editing software, I had to find some video tutorials to help me find my way around. On1. It is something that you should always do when learning new products, it can help you find the correct way to use them. Fortunately, On1 has a lot of tutorials available to help you learn how to use it.

It could just be my computer, or the size of my files, but I had trouble with the program crashing or freezing. I have a PC and am using Windows 10, so it may not be compatible. I have sent an email to the developers in hope of finding out what keeps causing that. There is however, a 60 day trial version available, which is far more than most other software products. So you can find out if it will work for you or not.

The program does have a tendency to blow out the highlights. In Photoshop you can often fix them, but On1 blows them out even more, and it seems like you are unable to do anything about it. However, it only happens when using RAW images, if you convert them to JPEG it doesn’t appear to happen. Though, it will teach you to be careful with them.


You can see with the top image, which was a RAW file how the highlights have been blown out, but it has not happened in the jpeg file.

Every time you open an image it asks if you want to edit a copy or the original. When you start you may find that every time you open the image you are creating another copy of it. Take care, and perhaps once you have that first copy, just work on that one.


Read the windows as they open up, and make sure you are aware of what you are doing.


On1 Photo 10 is a good program, and those interested in doing only basic editing will find it very useful. Those that love the grunge look and adding textures will also enjoy using it. It likely won’t replace Photoshop, but for beginners and people who love using plugins, it’s a great option.

Have you tried it? What are your thoughts?

The post Image Editing Software Overview – On1 Photo 10 by Leanne Cole appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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What I really like about the iPad is the retina display screen; the quality of the images displayed on it is simply stunning. The brightness emitted from the screen is also quite powerful, so I was curious to see what apps are available in harnessing the light to aid photographers and see if the iPad can be used as a small softbox.

A glass tumbler shot on an iPad. I created the custom pattern using Photoshop.

For this article, I wanted to see how useful some of these apps on the iPad are for photographers. In particular, if you are only starting out in photography and you need to understand more about lighting. Or you are stuck in a hotel room, and you want to have a bit of fun experimenting with a light source.

Can an iPad be used as a Softbox? Or is it just an interesting alternative light source to explore your photography skills?

I will also demonstrate a simple step-by-step Photoshop tutorial on how to create simple pattern preset images for your iPad or tablet, that you can use as creative backgrounds for your shots.

If you are not interested in creating your own, you can simply download the free ones I’ve created specially for this article. Please click on the download button at the bottom.

What is a softbox?

A softbox is really only a light modifier, similar to an umbrella. However, a softbox controls the shape and direction of light more so than an umbrella does. A softbox has the flash (strobe) enclosed behind a diffuser, which prevents light-spill from occurring. They come in different shapes and sizes. The more common ones are square, rectangular and octagonal.

Softboxes also have the advantage of being able to produce natural-looking light by mimicking the shape of a window. As the name suggests, they produce a soft light for all types of shooting, be it food, product, portraiture, and so forth.

The regular size iPad has 9.7 inch (1536x2048px) display, and most softboxes range from small (12″) to quite large (four by six feet). This makes the iPad a very small softbox. A good rule of thumb is the bigger the light source relative to distance to the subject, the softer the light.

How to use a soft box?

A quick on search on iTunes and I came up with the following apps:

As I can’t make the iPad bigger, I’m going to use the iPad as a softbox in four different ways:

Head shot using an iPad as a soft box

My daughter shot with an iPad I used the Photo Light HD (Softbox) app

As a main light source

The first method is using the iPad as my main light source. I had the iPad on a tripod, close to my daughter’s face. You do need to turn off all other light sources. Having the iPad on a tripod made it easier for me to direct my subject. I downloaded the Photo Light HD app to test it out.


The Photo Light HD (SoftBox) app comes with 24 preset pattern images.


One of the preset images that comes with the Photo Light HD (Softbox) app

It comes with 24 preset images. I used the second one here (see above photo). I was also able to use my iPhone as a remote with this app. I wanted a more dramatic portrait, where half of her face is illuminated, and the other half falls off to darkness. I did bump up the ISO quite high, as I handheld my camera.

Tip: You can mount your camera on a tripod and reduce the ISO, which will also help reduce noise in your photos.

Of course you don’t have to download this app. You could try out the Refboard or Soft Box Color apps instead, which are both free.


The Soft Box Color app is free to download.

Set the background color to white. Use a willing subject or object, and experiment by moving the iPad nearer or closer. You will see how the light wraps around the subject. Pay attention to how the shadows appear and drop off. See animated gif below.


By moving the iPad nearer or further away from your subject. You can determine how soft or hard the light will be.

Monster lighting

The second method is called Monster Lighting. This is done by placing the main light directly underneath the subject. So I positioned a toy gorilla on the iPad, and displayed a patterned image that I created to add more drama to the photo.


Monster Lighting – where the light source is directly underneath the subject.


Another example of the Monster Light effect. The reflection of the pattern image highlighted just under the mouth of the Lego figure adds to the drama. I wish I could say that this was intentional but it was purely experimental.

In the photo of the Lego figure above, I used a different pattern. You can download this one for free along with two others. See the link at the bottom.

Colored patterns as a backdrop

For the third method, I used colored patterns on the iPad as an illuminated backdrop. I created my own in Photoshop, see the step-by-step tutorial below demonstrating how I created them. This is where you can get really creative, and have fun taking these types of shots.

By placing an ordinary tumbler on the iPad with a preset pattern image, you can get really interesting refractions in the glass. Experiment by moving your camera position slightly up or down, to find the angle that best suits your shot.


I love the way the pattern image is distorted by the glass.

I also shot this small plastic yellow ball, placed on another preset pattern of green circles, to create an abstract composition.


A small yellow plastic practice golf ball, shot on another custom pattern image on the iPad.

Create a silhouette

Creating a silhouette is simple to do. Use the Soft Box Color or the Refboard app, set to white. They are both free to download. Just make sure your brightness level on your iPad is set all the way to the right (brightest) in Settings. In the example below, I used a toy ostrich to create a silhouette.


A toy Ostrich silhouetted against an iPad, using the Soft Box Color app, set to white.

Creating your own patterned images in Photoshop

In this quick Photoshop tutorial I will show how easy it is to make these patterned image,s by using the Step and Repeat technique in Photoshop.

Start by opening a new document 2048px by 1536px. You can ignore the DPI setting. This only matters when you want to print your images. You will be saving this file as a PNG format which discard pixel density. Our concern here is pixel dimensions. I’m going to leave the background as white. You can choose any color you want.


In this example, I’m going to name the document “Circle Pattern” and click OK.

Make a shape

Click-and-hold on the Rectangle tool in the Toolbox and choose the Ellipse Tool from the menu. If you want a different shape, for example a star or diamond shape, you can select the Custom Shape Tool. There are many preset shapes to choose from.


Ellipse tool

Custom shapes

Custom shapes

Then, up in the Options Bar, make sure the Shape Layers icon is selected. Choose whatever fill color you want. For this tutorial, I chose Black (with no stroke).

Hold down the Shift key and draw out a circle. The Shift key keeps the aspect ratio 1:1. I chose 154px, but again choose whatever size circle you want. With the Move tool (shortcut V on the keyboard) place the circle in the very top left corner of the new document file. Have the Info Panel open. Go to Window>Info.

Duplicating your shape

Pressing CMD/CNTL+T on your keyboard brings up the Free Transform Tool. But instead, hold down the Alt key as well so: CMD/CNTL+Alt+T. This is the important step, move the cursor over the circle shape. The cursor becomes a black arrow head. Hold down the Shift key and move the duplicated circle shape over by 154px, or equal to the width of your circle or shape. Look at your info panel when moving the circle shape. Release and click on the commit transform button or press Enter. That is the “Step” part of this technique.

To repeat this shape, hold down CMD/CNTL+Alt+Shift+T again. Keep holding down CMD/CNTL+Alt+Shift while pressing T multiple times, to create a line of circles across the document. Make sure the last circle goes beyond the document boundary (off the edge).

In your layers panel, you’ll notice that we have only the one layer and not duplicated layers for each circle. To create a new line of circles. Hold down the Shift+Alt keys and drag down by 154px. Continue all the way down the document until you have a document full of circles. Now go over to the Layers panel and select all the layers and put them into a group folder.

Creating a custom pattern image using the Step and Repeat technique in Photoshop.

Creating a custom pattern image using the Step and Repeat technique in Photoshop.


Select all your shape layers


Make a group of all the shape layers

You can now use the Free Transform tool to hold to scale the shapes (CMD/CNTL+T ), so that they are all contained within the document boundaries to create a seamless pattern effect.

Go to File>Save for the Web. Choose PNG-8 for the file format and click Save. Another pop dialog box appears. Name your file and select the location on your computer and click Save.


You now have a pattern preset image to transfer to your iPad or tablet.

If you haven’t got Photoshop, feel free to download the preset images by downloading the ones I made below, enjoy (just right-click and choose “open link in new tab”, then right click and choose “Save Image As”).





Can an iPad be used for photography? Well not in the professional world. If you a beginner to photography and experimenting with artificial light for the first time, give it a try if you have an iPad or tablet. But I wouldn’t suggest going out to purchase an iPad for this reason only.

I am great believer in using whatever light source(s) are available, to explore different shooting techniques and styles. So if you don’t have an iPad/tablet or photography lights, why not experiment with just a flashlight or LED light!

Do you have an iPad/tablet? If so what photography apps have you used? Please leave your comments below.

The post How to Use an iPad as a Softbox or Custom Background by Sarah Hipwell appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Tips for Doing City Photography from Above

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Many cities have places with great panoramic views of the city vistas from above. For example, in the U.S., New York has the top of the Empire State Building or Rockefeller Center. Similarly, Chicago has observation decks in both the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) and the Hancock Building. In Europe, there are great views of Paris from Montparnasse Tower. You can capture London from the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral, or now the observation deck of the Shard (the new tallest building in London), and the list goes on.

Madrid, Spain, from the Circulo des Bellas Artes

The Gran Via in Madrid, Spain, from the Circulo des Bellas Artes

But these shots present certain challenges. Often tripods are not allowed. Sometimes you have to shoot through glass. And when should you go? What settings should you use? In this article, we’ll work through these issues so you can get great shots from these city overlooks.

What? I Can’t Use My Tripod?

Sometimes you are allowed to use a tripod, and sometimes not. Each building has its own rules. To make things even more interesting, some buildings seem to have different rules depending on when you visit (or perhaps the mood of the security guards). So you will need to be prepared to shoot without a tripod.

If you go up the building in the middle of the day, that might not matter very much. There will be enough light to support a fast shutter speed, and you can get away with hand holding. But if you are shooting in dim light or at night, you will want to use a longer shutter speed. That will require some sort of stabilization.

Paris from the Eiffel Tower

Paris from the Eiffel Tower

In almost every case, you will find something available at the top of the building to support your camera. Sometimes you have to resort to using the the floor (which can work if you press your lens up against the window), but often there is some sort of shelf to use. Many buildings have plexiglass panels at the top, with small gaps between them, and you can hold your camera against the sides of the panels to steady it.

Shooting Through Glass

Oftentimes, you are photographing from an enclosed structure surrounded by glass. That means reflections are going to be a problem. I wish there was a magic bullet to solve this problem, but there isn’t. I do have a few tips to help you minimize the reflections though.

Chicago from the Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower)

Chicago from the Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower)

Before resorting to that, see if there is any way to shoot unobstructed. As mentioned above, some buildings have plexiglass panels on top. There are often carve-outs in the panels that you can shoot through, which you should definitely use. If not, check to see if you can shoot between the panels. That will avoid the whole issue with reflections.

If not, you are going to need to take steps to minimize reflections. Let’s start with one that should be obvious (but I always see people doing it). Do not use your camera’s flash. First of all, the flash is useless in this situation. Everything will be too far away for the flash to have any effect. More importantly, the flash will cause reflections and glare in the glass.

Next, hold your camera directly up against the glass. This will minimize reflections. In addition, make sure your point of focus is set far away from you and that your camera is not trying to focus on the reflections.

Panama City, Panama from the Intercontinental Hotel (shot through glass)

Panama City, Panama from the Intercontinental Hotel (shot through glass)


If you are on your own (like in a hotel room or somewhere you can set up), then make sure all the inside lights are off, and use the curtains to block any light coming from the room. Some photographers hold a black cloth against the window with a hole cut in the center to shoot through. If you have the opportunity and time to prepare, that is the best option.

Usually, you will find yourself in a public place where such steps are not possible. In that case, just use your body or hand to block any areas of glare or bright light.

After that, just take a few pictures and see if there are any reflections in the final result. Zoom in on your LCD to take a close look. If you find any reflections or glare, just adjust your position slightly to try to get it out and shoot again. You would also try a polarizing filter.

London from the top of St. Paul's Cathedral

London from the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral

What Camera Settings Should I Use?

Your exposure settings will depend on how much light is available at the time you are shooting. While I obviously cannot give you exact exposure settings, I can give you a few ideas to maximize your light and get the best exposure.

First and foremost, remember that you don’t need to use a small aperture for these shots because you do not need a deep depth of field. Your focus will be set at infinity. Nothing in your shot will be within 50 feet/15 meters of you. Too see this for yourself, take a look at the distance scale on the top of your lens (assuming it has one). It will show you that everything farther than about 30 feet/10 meters is set at infinity (in fact, the focus will be at infinity even sooner for wide angle lenses). There will not be a wide range of distances in your shot that require a deep depth of field. Therefore, if you find yourself in need of more light to create your exposure, widening the aperture is a good place to start.

Chicago from the Hancock Building

Chicago from the Hancock Building

Your other two exposure settings (shutter speed and ISO) will depend entirely on whether you can use a tripod. If you cannot use a tripod, raise the ISO until your shutter speed is fast enough to hand hold. Remember you can cheat a little bit and use a slower shutter speed than usual by propping your camera on something. But blur from movement during the exposure will ruin the picture. Remember that digital noise can be fixed in post-processing, but camera shake cannot. Raise the ISO as much as you need to get a supportable shutter speed.

If a tripod is allowed, things are much easier when it comes to exposure settings. You can use as slow a shutter speed as you want. That will also allow you to reduce the ISO, and use a smaller aperture as well. In fact, you may want to keep the the ISO low and the aperture small to force the camera to use a long shutter speed. That will capture traffic trails, create some movement in the clouds, and other effects.

New York, from Rockefeller Center (Top of the Rock)

New York, from Rockefeller Center (Top of the Rock)

Finally, consider bracketing your photos, especially if you are shooting at night. The scene before you will contain bright lights and dark portions. This will challenge your camera’s dynamic range. Even if you will never use any sort of blending or HDR, you might be pleasantly surprised by the overexposed or underexposed images.

Making a Composition from a Jumble of Buildings

When you are up high in a building overlooking the city, you will have a great view, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a great picture. The key to success is creating a composition out of what is before you, in other words to generally find a center of interest. That is, find something to key on that will anchor the picture. Sometimes it is obvious – like when you are staring at the Empire State Building or the Eiffel Tower – but other times it isn’t. You’ll just have to find something to center your picture on. It could be a building that stands out, perhaps a bridge, or even a leading line.

In doing so, don’t overlook the usual compositional rules. Start with the Rule of Thirds. Put your horizon line on either the top third or the bottom third. After that, you might consider placing an important, or prominent, feature on one of the vertical third lines.

Paris from the Montparnasse Tower

Paris from the Montparnasse Tower

Just these two concepts – ensuring you have a center of interest and following the Rule of Thirds – will go a long way to ensuring success. After that, you can find lines, shapes, and forms to work around. Experiment with different focal lengths and angles. Remember that nothing is moving so you can keep experimenting all you want.

When to Go

Deciding when to go capture you city view from above will have more to do with how the pictures turn out, than anything else you do. Avoid going in the middle of the day. Travel schedules don’t always allow that, but that is the worst time for these pictures.

If you are going to a public observation deck, when you can go will be limited by the opening hours of the building. They are generally not open early enough for sunrise, so that won’t be an option. Almost all locations are open for sunset and a few hours of darkness, so that is often an option.

London from the tower of Westminster Cathedral

London from the tower of Westminster Cathedral

The best time to go is just before sunset. You will have the best of all worlds with one ticket. You can capture the sunset and twilight. After that, just wait around for a little while for some night shots.

But in any case, go. It is an easy way to get great shots of whatever city you happen to be visiting. Get up high and capture the city from above.

The post Tips for Doing City Photography from Above by Jim Hamel appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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4 Tips to Creating More Unique Images

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You can call it the “Intelligent Eye”. The ability of you, the photographer, to see something unique, unusual or comical in your surroundings, then have the awareness to capture it for storytelling. With practice, you can develop the skill of capturing those interesting moments or opportunities, that many would miss or otherwise ignore. As a result, your photography will stand out from the rest because it will be distinctive and specific to your own personal experience. It’s good to be different! Read on to get tips for creating more unique images.

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Okay, so how do you achieve, or improve this ability to see unique things, and all of the interesting opportunities in your environment?

TIP #1 – Practice Observing

Practice observing. To be great at just about anything requires practice, or actually doing that thing. Yes, some people have natural talents and they don’t require extensive practice, but for others, myself included, practice is the best way to improve.

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Take some time, daily if you can, and throw yourself into a busy street (not literally!) and observe. Walk slowly, or sit, and simply observe your environment. Notice the colours, shadows, words, and the things people do. People do the most fascinating things if you pay attention.

My only gripe is people staring at their smart phones, and yes, I can be guilty of that at times too. Imagine all of the interesting things people could be doing, if only they put down their phones. Of course, they may say the same thing about us standing there with our cameras.

Focus on the smallest of details. Maybe you notice someone walking across the street without shoes, or someone with interesting hair or clothes, or maybe there is nothing interesting and that’s okay too. Move on, remain aware of your environment, and keep practicing the skill of observation. Over time, you will begin to notice more opportunities for some great photographs, and you’ll make unique images.

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TIP#2 – Practice Without a Camera

More practice. Okay, this may seem redundant, but I’m talking about practice without a camera. You can practice this skill at any time, no matter where you are in the world, or what you are doing. Carefully observe and study your environment.

I don’t know how many times I’ve seen something clever or interesting, and got a little frustrated because I didn’t have a camera. You must begin to make a habit out of always observing, seeking out the unusual, studying the world and people around you.

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Keep in mind, the greatest artists become obsessed with their work, so make it a habit to always be focused on your skill of seeing, with or without a camera. Over time, you will be amazed at how many things you would have missed or ignored without this improved skill.

TIP #3 – Be Different

It’s good to be different. Share your work, and enjoy the works of others, but please, don’t become overly concerned about how many likes or hearts or comments you get. It’s not important! You can conform, and begin to manipulate your work to become popular and fit with what is expected, or you can be original and create something unique to your own personal experience and creative spirit.

Photograph 12

There are some great online communities, but it’s disappointing to see so many works of art looking the same, lacking originality. Yes, the basics of post-processing are important, but it will be difficult for you to stand out from the crowd if your artwork looks the same as every other artist.

Capturing your unique experience and environment will help you stand out. You may or may not become famous, but at least you had the courage to be different, to tap into your own unique creative abilities. Finally, embrace your uniqueness, and remember that life is complex and messy, so it’s okay to create photographs not in line with what is expected. Focus on tapping into your personal and unique creative spirit.

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TIP #4 – Be Present

This is the most important tip. Enjoy living and creating in the present moment as much as possible. Whether you are in the field, in a darkroom, or behind a computer – get lost in the moment, focus on your environment and enjoy the experience of life and witnessing the world as it unfolds.

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Do you have any other tips for finding and creating more unique images? Please share in the comments below.

The post 4 Tips to Creating More Unique Images by Jason Lowry appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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One of the big hurdles for DSLR camera owners considering the switch to mirrorless, is the notion of having to buy brand new lenses to accompany their new purchase. While it’s ideal to have brand name lenses that match your camera body, it’s not at all necessary, thanks to third-party lens makers and lens adapters. This article discusses the latter option, specifically, a lens adapter that allows just about any Canon EF lens, to be used with a Sony E-Mount camera.
ony Canon Lens Converter

My Camera Background

As a corporate event and food photographer, the Canon 5D Mark III, plus an array of Canon zoom lenses and a handful of primes, are my go-to choices for professional photo work. However, the desire to carry a smaller camera while traveling casually, led to my recent purchase of a Sony a6300 camera, my first investment in a mirrorless system. While I did opt for a Sony 16-50mm kit lens and a 20mm f/2.8 prime lens, I wasn’t financially ready to invest in any more Sony brand lenses. Instead, research and recommendations from other fellow photographers led me to purchase a lens adapter, which promised the ability to use my existing Canon EF lenses with my new Sony E-Mount camera body.

If you’re in a similar position, where you’ve accumulated a collection of DSLR lenses and are considering adding the Sony a6300 to your kit, this article is for you!

ony Canon Lens Converter

Sony a6300 body with a Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens, mounted using the Fotodiox adapter.

Lens Adapter Options

Third-party brands have already hopped on the lens adapter train, and there are quite a few options available, but two main ones that came up in research were the Metabones Smart Adapter IV and the FotodioX AF Adapter. At first glance, both options seemed comparable in their offerings:

  • Compact, lightweight, all-metal design.
  • Allows for automatic focus and aperture control from the Sony E-Mount camera body.
  • Infinity focus allowed if needed.
  • Removable tripod mount included to help distribute the weight.

The main difference between the two products came down to price: the Metabones version is priced at $385.99, while the FotodioX option is considerably cheaper at just $99.99. In the end, the price was the determining factor, and I went for the FotodioX lens adapter.

ony Canon Lens Converter

Sony a6300 with the FotodioX AF Adapter attached.

How did it perform?

The first thing to note about using an adapter is how it will impact the overall heaviness, bulk, and appearance of your system. The FotodioX adapter itself is truly compact, and isn’t much larger than the Sony a6300 kit lens. As a result, it looks like a natural complement to the a6300 when it’s connected. Adding on Canon EF lenses changes the look and feel of the a6300, depending of course, and which lenses are paired. Small, lightweight, prime lenses such as the Canon 50mm f/1.8 don’t add a lot of bulk to the camera, and also look like a natural fit.

ony Canon Lens Converter

Sony a6300, FotodioX AF Adapter, and Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens.

However, adding larger zoom lenses such as the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 definitely make the camera more front-heavy, to the point that it makes sense to grip the rig by the lens rather than the camera body. Still, the rig is considerably lighter than pairing the same Canon lenses with a DSLR such as the 5D Mark III.

ony Canon Lens Converter

Apart from aesthetics, the adapter actually performed surprisingly well! There are many reports of adapters causing autofocus to be either painfully slow, or lost altogether. While autofocus was not as snappy and accurate as it was using a Sony brand lens, the a6300 was still decently responsive, even with the FotodioX adapter and a Canon EF lens attached. If autofocus wasn’t working properly, which tended to happen for close-range shots, it was easy to switch the lens to manual focus and still capture a photo. Image quality was also tack-sharp, here are some image examples:

ony Canon Lens Converter

ony Canon Lens Converter

ony Canon Lens Converter

ony Canon Lens Converter

ony Canon Lens Converter

ony Canon Lens Converter

Overall thoughts

Using a lens adapter isn’t a perfect solution. The lagging autofocus was fine for casual use, but eventually became more noticeable and cumbersome when trying to shoot anything that moved. I’d hesitate to rely on an adapter when shooting something where quick autofocus mattered. It also felt like a pretty big tradeoff to not be able to take full advantage of what Sony purports to be the “world’s fastest autofocus” in the a6300. But other than that, the ability to use my existing DSLR lenses with a new camera body made by another manufacturer is a convenient luxury.

Have you tried a lens adapter before? What was your experience like?

The post FotodioX Lens Adapter – How to Put Your Canon EF Lens on Your Sony E-Mount Camera by Suzi Pratt appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Ah yes, the priceless questions photographers get from their clients. If your work involves human subjects, you may occasionally feel that you’re locked in the eternal struggle of staying true to your vision, while still making your clients happy. Any of these photography client questions sound familiar:

  • Can we have all the RAW files?
  • Wouldn’t a jumping shot near this cliché tourist destination be awesome?
  • Can’t you just fix this in Photoshop?


While it may feel like you can only have either one or the other, I’m convinced you can have it both ways: happy, well-served clients, and a strong standard for how you shoot and share your own work. Here’s how we tackle the three tough client questions we get most often:

1 – Can you to deliver all the RAW files in the final package?

I KNOW, I KNOW, when you get this question your first instinct may be to delete their email and never respond again (or am I the only dramatic one?). But this one is an easy one to tease apart. The goal here is to get to the bottom of what the client really wants. So, before you launch into your response, ask them leading questions to find out real the root of the issue.


The first possibility is one of sheer numbers: Do they fear that they won’t get enough images? Are they hoping to go through them to make sure that you really did select the best ones for them? This is the time to gently explain your process to them. Explain ow you carefully cull, deliver only the best image, and spare them the misery of pawing through all the shots of their double chin or half-closed eyes.

Client education is key

Conversely, they might not even know what a RAW file actually is. Some clients think that RAW is a synonym for unedited, and want to try out their own iPhoto tricks on their images later. Now’s the time to lay down some education about the advanced programs that can open RAW files, including the fact that they require quite a bit of training to use them correctly. Normally that’s more information than the average client has ever gotten about photo editing, and they are able to reframe their question to express their needs more specifically.


This is also a good time to throw out the old “It’s industry standard to not provide RAW files, so that we photographers can provide you with the exact final product that is worthy of your time.” They wouldn’t walk into a chef’s kitchen and judge their work based on the raw meat in the fridge, the same holds true for their photographer.

Once you hear their concerns, and educate them through your process in a professional and kind way, most sane clients realize that asking for the RAW files just isn’t realistic.

2 – Wouldn’t this jumping shot in front of the Space Needle be awesome?


Okay, the late 90s jumping shots aren’t our bag either (if it is yours though, I hope the clients who ask for this are finding you!). However, we make it a firm policy to never say no to a client’s idea. Not only does it throw off the energy of the shoot, it makes the client feel that they are separated from the process of creating images; that their ideas aren’t as good as the professionals. In short, it makes them feel bad, and a subject who feels bad will never create the bomb images you want.

Always say yes client ideas

We always say yes if a client has an idea for an image that we aren’t particularly into. It lets them know they’re an integral part of the process, and encourages everyone to get creative with the shoot. Not only that, but sometimes we think a particular pose or scene isn’t going to look good, and it ends up being an awesome idea that we never would have come up with ourselves. That kind of discovery is golden. Never think that your style is so entrenched that you can’t hear new ideas, and always be ready to learn and experiment when you have clients who are in it with you.


All that being said, sometimes you do end up with shots that are just not you, not your look, and not something you necessarily want to represent you. Guess what? You get to choose what you share, how you blog, what your social media will show off, and how you want your portfolio to look. Deliver the client’s images with a smile, make the client happy, and share the ones you love on your own pages. There’s no rule that you have to share every image from a shoot. Select your favorites and move along.

3 – Can’t you just fix this in Photoshop?

I will be the first to admit that I’m abnormally flattered when people assume that I’m a Photoshop wizard, just because I’m the photographer. Thanks for the vote of confidence, guys.


However, the reality is that I am fairly abysmal at it. I would rather spend my time out shooting, than inside glued to my computer, making people look ten pounds thinner, or removing the billboard from behind the venue. Just no thank you.

So when the Photoshop question comes up, I try to manage of expectations ahead of time, as much as possible. When the parent at a wedding asks very seriously if you’ll make them look thinner, I respond with something like, “There’s absolutely no need for Photoshop on a perfect day like today. Everyone here loves you and wants to keep you just as you are. Also, no.”

If there’s an object that could easily be moved from a scene (garbage cans, a sign, trash) then I make a point to move them before shooting, so the client is aware that not everything is post-production magic.

Follow this general rule of thumb


Our general policy for retouching in Lightroom is that if something will not be there in two weeks (e.g. a bruise, zit, etc.) we’ll do a light erase, no problem. If there are larger things that the client requests be handled in Photshop, like the mother of the groom who insisted that I edit all the photos of her scowling in the background (you can’t make this stuff up) we let them know individually that we do have a per-image rate for Photoshopping. If they want to go ahead with it, fine by me, but it’s a friendly reminder to clients that Photoshop isn’t a magic button that photographers press behind the scenes to turn every Furbie into a Victoria’s Secret model.

Plan moving forward

The moral of the story is to be kind, ask questions, and get to the bottom of what your clients really want when they ask you these dreaded things.

Then let me know in the comments below. What questions do you dread? How do you respond to them? I’d love to hear how you tackle the tough ones.

The post 3 Tough Photography Client Questions and How to Answer Them by Laura Sullivan appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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As a beginner photographer, I still remember experimenting with random photo-shoots of colorful fruits, leave,s and flowers. Believe it or not, capturing the inanimate has always been one of our favorite pass time activities as photographers. But, not anymore! With so much demand for lively product shoots in magazines and websites, still life photography is a million dollar business today.

Capturing the still life is a very unique photographic experience. With your subject being inanimate, you get enough time to play with all the creative controls on your camera, and keep snapping until you end up with a shot to which you say – Woah! That is the perfect one.

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Capturing still life photographs seems easy, but breathing life into those inanimate objects requires a great deal of creativity and obviously, a lot of practice. Should you mess up with the lighting and framing, it’s fairly easy to end up with an austere shot of that already dull bunch of keys. Here are the six most common mistakes that photographers make while doing still life photography.

Still Life Mistake #1 – Improper Lighting

Rule one, your subject needs to be well lit up. After-all, it is the central theme of your photo-shoot. Using natural light generally gives superb results.

In case you are shooting inside a room, you need to be a little creative with the way light falls on your subject. One of the most common mistakes is to photograph your subject under full blown artificial light sources like LEDs and fluorescent tube-lights. Why? Because such light sources add a color temperature to your subject that makes it look less natural. Moreover, they make your inanimate object look just what they are – lifeless and boring.

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Place your subject near a natural light source, such as an open window. Get creative with the light falling on the subject. Does it look amazing when light falls on it from the side? Or does it look more attractive with light falling on it from behind? I personally find natural light from the side to look more attractive. The subtle shadows and visible details under the natural light, sparks interest in the otherwise dull object.

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Another important thing to take care of is the intensity of the natural light falling on your subject. Avoid shooting it under direct sunlight. The bright sunlight may washout the otherwise delicate details and colors of your subject. As a remedy, in case you really need to shoot under broad sunlight, use a light modifier such as a soft-box (or translucent reflector) that will help produce an overcast effect, and will direct the light to softly diffuse over your subject.

Still Life Mistake #2 – A Distracting Background

Placing your subject on a backdrop full of distractions is another potential mistake in still life photographs. Your product being the central theme, deserves all the attention. Therefore, you need to ensure that the background is free from all such distractions. By this, I mean anything that shifts your attention from the main product to the backdrop behind it. For example: capturing a vase of flowers in a background of a home furniture shot.

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Choose a wall that’s simple, and painted with a plain color. If your wall is not plain, use a piece of white chart paper to cover the wall, so that it doesn’t interfere with your main subject. One more tip, if you’re shooting your product over a table top, again make sure that the table is neatly covered with a white piece of cloth or paper. The main idea is to focus as much attention on your product as possible.

Still Life Mistake #3 – Not Using a Tripod

In case you need to shoot your subject with longer shutter speed, you need to make sure that you do not end up with a blurry shot. An example under this kind of setup can be a decorative indoor water fountain. You may want to use longer shutter speed to capturing the motion of the falling water. So in this case, it makes any sense to use a tripod because even a slight camera shake can result in a blurry shot.

With a tripod, you may also wish to use a wireless remote control for shutter release. This makes sure that not even the slightest of the shakes can blur your photo. Alternatively, in case you do not have a remote control shutter release, you can capture the shot by setting your camera on the 2-second timer mode.

Still Life Mistake #4 – Improper Framing

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Framing your shot helps focus and arrest the attention of the viewers on your main subject. While framing the shot, determine whether the subject fills the frame in a way that draws the required attention. Utilize the rule of thirds, move around and experiment with different possible angles. You’ll definitely come up with that perfect shot.

Still Life Mistake #5 – Not Experimenting

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Being fastidious really pays off when it comes to taking still life photographs for professional and commercial purpose. When you’ve finished setting everything up for the shoot, take a few good clicks and randomize the entire setup – shift your subject to a little different location, add something to the scene that complements the subject, use different angles and lights, try framing the shots all over again. You’ll end up with a unique piece of art each time.

Still Life Mistake #6 – Wrong Choice of Lens

Still life photography is all about creating depth, and bringing out the subject in a way that directly interacts with the viewer. How will you achieve this level of focus? By utilizing the shallow depth of field.

This works great with subjects with high levels of detail such as: flowers, leaves, and fruits. Under this kind of a setup, you will want to come closer to your subject, set the camera to AV mode (Aperture Priority), and keep the focal length as long as possible. A telephoto lens is your best bet for this kind of a setup, because the longer focal length compresses perspective, helping your subject stand out more.

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This doesn’t mean that only telephoto lenses work for still life photography. If you wish to bring out, and focus on the delicate details of your subject, go ahead and shoot with a telephoto lens. On the flip side, if you wish to capture everything on your table top setup, you would be fine with a either a standard 50mm lens or a wide angle.

How do you capture the still life?

What has been your experience with still life photography? Do you have any other useful tip to share? We look forward to your thoughts and suggestions on this article.

The post 6 Still Life Photography Mistakes and How to Avoid Them by Rika Guite appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Lets face it, we all love to take pictures, basically to get out there and photograph what makes us happy and gets our creative juices flowing. Many of us, myself included, hate sitting in front of the computer, sorting and sifting through images from a session, wedding, or just personal work. From busy professionals to active hobbyists, having a good solid workflow and method of organizing images is crucial. I am a wedding, lifestyle and travel photographer. So my workflow is slightly different based on the type of session I am photographing, but for the most part I follow the same series of steps. Here are some tips on how to create an effective workflow that can work for your style of photography.

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Camera gear

My camera of choice is a Canon 5D MKIII with a Canon 5D MKII as a backup camera. I have to admit, 90 percent of my sessions are shot using the MKIII. I very rarely use the MKII, but when I am photographing a wedding, the MKII is fully loaded and ready to go, in case I need it. I start of each session (wedding or lifestyle) with a fully charged battery and a Transcend 32GB CF card. I own four 32GB CF cards, three 16GB CF cards and two 8GB CF cards.

For weddings that are over 10 hours long, I carry all my cards with me. Each camera will start with formatted 32GB CF card. When I am traveling for work or pleasure domestically, I carry my MKIII but when I am traveling internationally I typically carry both MKIII and MKII. The night before any photoshoot (either wedding, travel, or lifestyle), I charge all my batteries (I have five batteries between my two cameras and luckily they are the same configuration) and format all my CF cards. My bag is packed and ready to go in my office.

Fits a Canon 5D Mark II with 28mm lens.

During the shoot

Depending on the photoshoot timeline, I will swap out my cards during a logical break in the shoot. For example – the bridal portraits, first look, etc., will be on one or more CF cards. I will swap out the used card before the ceremony (even if it is only partially used), so I can photograph the ceremony on a fresh card. I learned this the hard way early on, when I lost an entire session on a card that failed. Luckily it was not a wedding, but a personal shoot that I was able to recreate. Since then I don’t take any chances with failed CF cards, especially for important events like weddings. Used CF cards from a photoshoot are placed in a separate pouch, from fresh CF cards which are placed in another pouch in my camera bag.

After the shoot (local)

When I am back home from a wedding or a lifestyle shoot, the first thing I do is pack away my gear. I separate my camera bodies from my lenses, and pack them away separately. All batteries are removed, including those from my flash. I have heard horror stories where batteries, especially AAAs, have leaked into the flash socket, so I don’t want to have to deal with that mess!

I download the images from my CF cards onto an external hard drive, that acts as a storage for my RAW images. Once the RAW images are transferred to my external hard drive, I then format the cards in camera (not via the computer). I use Seagate external hard drives to store my images. I also download my images into the Photos app on my iMac computer. The Photos library resides on another Seagate external hard drive.

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My external hard drives from Seagate are used to store RAW files from my cards and my Photos library. The RAW files are not deleted but the Photos library are deleted at the end of every year.

I use iPhoto (now Photos) and quickly sort through the images that I like. Those images are exported as Originals to a folder on my iMac (I name my folders based on the date of the shoot. For example: YYYYMMDD_ClientName_TypeoftheShoot. These selected images are then imported into Lightroom, my preferred editing software.

My Lightroom catalog also resides on a WD My Passport Ultra, external hard drive. I understand you may have some concerns over running a LR Catalog on an external HD, because of potential LR speed issues. So far, I have not experienced any issues with LR in terms of speed by having the catalog on an external HD. But if you are concerned about speed then your LR catalog can be put on your computer’s hard drive, and keep a backup on the external HD.

This is more portable than a Seagate and I carry it on extended trips, especially international travel. Once the images are imported into Lightroom (I retain the same name of the folder in Lightroom as well), I delete the folder containing the RAW images from my iMac hard drive. If you are keeping track, my RAW images are stored on two separate external hard drives – one that is a dump of the card and the other in a Photos catalog.

After the shoot (on the road)

When I am traveling for work or pleasure, I carry two WD My Passport Ultra external hard drives. One holds the RAW files from my CF cards, the other holds my Lightroom catalog. My original LR catalog is also backed up on one of my Seagate external hard drives. Once I copy the Raw files over, I follow the similar process as when I’m at home.

When I get home, the raw files from the CF cards used during the trip are copied over to the Seagate that houses all my RAW images, and deleted from the WD Ultra so that it is ready for my next trip. I carry my Lightroom catalog only for extended travel trips, when I know I will be editing images and posting them on social media and/or my blog. For short weekend getaways, I either carry just the WD Ultra just for the raw files or nothing at all, based on the duration of the trip.

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My portable hard drives are used to save my RAW files when I am traveling, as well as my Lightroom catalog when I am traveling for an extended period of time.

Editing and delivery workflow

80% of my editing is done in Lightroom. I use Photoshop sparingly if I have to make any advanced editing like head swapping, and or removing large objects from images. I have invested in the Adobe Creative Cloud for LR and Photoshop. It’s the bundle package deal for $10 per month for photographers (get both for only $7.99 as a dPS reader). I am able to use both on both my iMac, which is my primary editing device, as well as my MacBook Pro, which is my travel companion.

After editing is complete, I export my client images onto the same WD Ultra external hard drive as my Lightroom catalog. The client folders are also arranged by date of the session. This time my naming standard is as follows: Memorable Jaunts_ClientName_YYYYMMDD – all images will have the same naming convention as the folder, along with an image sequence number. The images are also uploaded to my portfolio site, in a gallery which is password protected. I share the password with my clients, for viewing their images and ordering any prints. I use Zenfolio to host my client galleries. I have been with them since I launched my business in 2010, and have had a very good experience with them (and no, I did not get paid to say this about them, my views are my own).

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My naming convention for my Lightroom Catalog – the folders are ordered by Year and then by date for each of my sessions

When I am traveling, I follow the same process, and edited images are saved in the same WD Ultra external hard drive. Should I need to touch-up or re-edit an image when I am back home, I simply connect the same external hard drive to my iMAC, launch the LR catalog, and I am good to go.

Client galleries are live online for two weeks, and then they are deleted. At the end of every year, I delete old client processed images from my external hard drive. I retain client session raw files for three years before I delete them from my Seagate external drives (both the original CF card download as well as the Photos catalog) to make room for new sessions. My personal images (images of my family and personal travel) follow the same process as my client sessions. Except these images are never deleted, they are too precious to me and live on forever on my external hard drives!

Client galleries are live online at Zenfolio for two weeks, and are then deleted from that site. At the end of every year, I delete client processed images from my external hard drive. I retain client session RAW files for three years before I delete them from my Seagate external drives, to make room for new sessions. This is something that I communicate with all my clients when when they receive the link for their online gallery. If any of my clients request additional time to store and/or purchase their images, that is something I will most certainly accommodate 

My wedding photography packages all include edited images on a personalized flash drive. Whereas my family portraiture clients have the option of purchasing digital images, if they want them for future use. If you don’t want to delete client images in the event that a client may come back to you after a few years (for example in case of death in the family, etc.), you can invest in a large external storage unit like Synology system for backing up, or use Amazon s3 in a cloud environment. 

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The naming convention for my processed files


As you can see, my workflow and image organization is not too complicated. I tried a few different variations, both in terms of file naming conventions, as well as file storage options, but I find working off external hard drives is fast, easy, and safe. It does require investment in external hard drives, but I typically pick some up when they are on sale.

I encourage you to use this, or some variation of this workflow, and tweak it to make it your own. Having a workflow will help you be better organized, spend less time in front of the computer, and more time out there doing what you love the most – shooting.

The post How to Create an Effective Workflow and Image Organization by Karthika Gupta appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Categories : Digital
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Weekly Photography Challenge – Neon

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Sign Sign Everywhere a Sign – check out these images of neon signs.


By wbeem

Weekly Photography Challenge – Neon

If you live in an urban center or city, chances are you can find some neon nearby somewhere. Look for old diners, city center squares, movie theatres (especially old marquees like this one).

Mike Boening Photography

By Mike Boening Photography

There are a number of ways you can approach this subject, but if you choose to shoot it after dark you will most likely need a tripod and a long exposure, you may also want to incorporate some bracketing and do some HDR or exposure blending to help combat the contrast problem (the dynamic range between night sky and neon is very high, hard to keep detail in all areas).

You can also add in some extra things like car trails (as seen above) or do a zoom during your exposure. Perhaps shoot just a portion of the sign even. Those are just a few ideas to get you started.

Tip: if you want some color in the sky and background try shooting just after sunset at dusk, during the blue hour. The sky will be a dark rich blue and not totally black yet, and the lights should start to come on and show up better. It’s about finding the right balance for your exposure.

Oz Dean

By oz dean

Hernan Seoane

By Hernan Seoane

Charlie Essers

By Charlie Essers

Jeremy Brooks

By Jeremy Brooks

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.

Share in the dPS Facebook Group

You can also share your images on the dPS Facebook group as the challenge is posted there each week as well.

Patrick Brosset

By Patrick Brosset


By Roadsidepictures

Tim Carter

By Tim Carter

Brett Monroe

By Brett Monroe

Jeremy Brooks

By Jeremy Brooks

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

Categories : Digital
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