What is a Stop? The Common Currency of Exposure Explained

What are stops? Are they the same as f-stops? How are they measured? Are they the same for different exposure controls? Are they still useful now?

These are common questions for those just starting out in photography. They are good questions, and the exposure concepts surrounding them can be confusing. You have probably been told that a stop is a “doubling of light,” which of course is true. That is helpful, but it doesn’t show how stops really works and how they tie your exposure controls together.

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What I want to show you in this article is how the concept of a stop acts as a common currency in exposure, and allows you to take complete control of it. Rather than being confusing, stops are really a simplification tool. Without stops, we’d have a hard time controlling our exposure between the three controls; aperture, shutter speed, and ISO.

Introduction

I’m using the term “common currency” to describe stops. To see what I mean, think about the barter system before we had money. If you sold chickens, I sold apples, and someone else sold bricks, how would we all trade? And what if the person selling the bricks didn’t value your chickens as much as I did? It was a mess, which is why the concept of money was developed. Now we all value our goods using money and we exchange money with each transaction. This has proven to be a remarkably useful tool, which is why it has stuck around for a few thousand years.

Similarly, in photography we faced trade-offs when it came to exposure. For example, how could we value a change in the size of the aperture versus lengthening the time of shutter speed? And then how would we value the sensitivity of the digital sensor (or film in the old days) as compared to these other two adjustments? It isn’t apples to apples. The concept of stops is how we square everything up.

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Understanding this is a necessary precondition to mastering your camera and controlling the exposure process. Hopefully this will help you grasp your exposure controls better. First, we’ll take a brief looks at each of them and show you how they are measured in stops. After that, we’ll get into how to use them together.

Shutter Speed

Your shutter speed is a measurement of time. As you probably already know, when you open up the shutter, the camera is gathering light. The longer you allow the camera to gather light, the higher the exposure value. Most shutter speeds you use will be a fraction of a second, but here are the common values for shutter speed you will see when you look through your viewfinder or at your LCD:

Shutter Speeds measured in stops

The segments in this chart are 1-stop increments. Again, a stop is a doubling of light. Remember that shutter speed is a measurement of time, so a doubling of the time your shutter is open is the same thing as a doubling of light. Therefore, for example, a move from 1/250th of a second to 1/125 is a one stop change. You have doubled the time the shutter is open so you have also doubled the exposure value.

Something that might confuse you is that your camera doesn’t change settings (each click of your dial) in 1-stop increments. Most cameras are set to move in 1/3 stop increments. So rather than moving from 1/250 to 1/125, each click of the dial on your camera will only move part of the way there. It will take three clicks to move a full stop. It looks something like this:

Changes to Shutter speed in thirds of stops

The point is to understand that we are taking a time measurement and converting it into a stop. Each doubling of the amount of time the shutter is open equals a stop. Conversely, you reduce by a stop every time you cut the shutter speed in half. We’ll be able to use that stop in connection with the other controls in a bit.

Aperture

Now let’s look at this in the concept of aperture. As you probably know, the aperture is the hole in the lens that lets light through into the camera, and it is adjustable. Making it larger lets more light into the camera; making it smaller lets less light in. To change your exposure value using the aperture control, you are changing the size of the aperture.

Aperture measurements can be confusing. To begin with, the measurement is actually of the size of the aperture compared to the focal length (The F-number of a lens is the ratio of its focal length divided by the diameter of the aperture.). That makes it a ratio or reciprocal figure, which means that the larger the aperture the smaller the measurement, and vice versa. Secondly, different lenses have different maximum and minimum aperture values. With that in mind, here are common aperture values:

Aperture values in full stop increments

Again, remember that your camera is probably set up to change values in 1/3 stop increments. So, for example, you camera won’t go directly from f/5.6 to f/8.0. Instead, it will probably go from f/5.6 > f/6.3 > f/7.1 > f/8.0 as you click the dial.

I’m ignoring the concept of depth of field here because it isn’t important for purposes of this discussion. All we care about now is converting these measurements into stops. So, on that front, what we have done here is convert a size measurement into a stop. That means we can easily compare it to shutter speed changes as we saw above. We’ll also be able to compare it to changes in ISO, which we’ll talk about next.

ISO

Finally, we get to ISO, the third exposure control. This is a measure of the sensitivity of your camera’s digital sensor to light. Making it more sensitive to light increases exposure but leads to increased digital noise in your pictures. Conversely, decreasing the ISO lowers the exposure value but also decreases digital noise. Here is a chart showing common ISO values in one stop increments:

ISO values in full stop increments

As you can see from the chart above, the ability to change ISO is pretty limited. Whereas there are 18 stops within the range of common shutter speeds, there are only seven in ISO. There are cameras with ISO values that go higher (such as ISO 12,800 and even 25,600), but they lead to pretty dramatic digital noise. This limited range though does show why increases are important.

In any case, as you can see what has been done is create a system where we have taken a measurement of sensitivity to light and converted it into stops. Each doubling in sensitivity doubles the exposure value, which equals a stop. What’s great is that (unlike the aperture measurements) ISO is simple. It is easy to understand that an ISO of 200 is double that of ISO 100.

Putting it all together

Now that we have covered the concept of stops for each of the three exposure controls, we are ready to talk about them together.

The key thing to understand here is that a stop, is a stop, is a stop. By that I mean that a stop of shutter speed exposure, equals a stop of aperture, equals a stop of ISO. In other words, lengthening your shutter speed by one stop is the exact same thing as opening your aperture by one stop. And that is exactly the same thing is changing the ISO by one stop. The measurements all equate.

Why does this matter? Because you will face the need to change your exposure values all the time. This will allow you to take complete control over the exposure process. For example, when you want to increase your depth of field you know you need to make the aperture smaller. But that will cause your picture to be underexposed. By using stops, however, you can increase the exposure by the exact same amount using either the shutter speed or ISO.

An example of using stops

If this seems confusing, an example should help make it clearer. Let’s say you are out shooting a landscape scene and you hold up your camera and set up a correct exposure. It is 1/500th of a second at f/5.6, with an ISO of 100.

That’s just fine, except that remember that this is a landscape photo. You want a much deeper depth of field than f/5.6 is going to allow, so let’s move that to something like f/11. You know that this is a 2-stop decrease (check the charts above for confirmation).

Landscape shot at 1/125 of a second at f/11.

Landscape shot at 1/125 of a second at f/11.

If you made no other change, your photo would be very underexposed. But you now know that you can just increase (lengthen) your shutter speed by the same amount (two stops) to offset this move. In other words, since we have converted all these exposure changes to stops, we have a common currency that we can interchange freely. A 2-stop shutter speed increase takes you to 1/125th. In other words, you started at 1/500, twice that is 1/250, and doubling that again is 1/125 (again, check the chart above to see).

You could also change ISO if you wanted (to ISO 400), but you probably don’t want to do that to keep noise to a minimum. Your new settings of 1/125, f/11, ISO 100 are much better for this situation.

For those who do better with visuals, here is how the two offsetting moves appear:

Two-Stop-Move

Another example

Let’s walk through another example to make sure you’ve got it. Let’s say you are photographing a friend or a family member and your camera settings are at 1/40, f/16, ISO 200. The camera’s meter says you have a correct exposure. Take a look at the shutter speed and aperture settings and you’ll see a few problems though.

First, the aperture is too small for this situation. You don’t need a small aperture like f/16. Not only do you not need the small aperture, which costs you light, but you actually don’t want the deep depth of field that f/16 gives you. You’d rather have an extremely shallow depth of field to blur out the background. Secondly, a shutter speed of 1/40 is probably a too slow for this situation. This shutter speed could lead to a lack of sharpness due to the camera shaking slightly or your subject moving while the shutter is open.

The good news is that both your problems can be solved by making changes to the shutter speed and aperture. You can use a stop as the common currency to make sure they offset and your exposure stays the same. You decide to open up the aperture all the way to f/4. That’s a 4-stop increase. Check the chart above, and you’ll see it goes like this; you start at f/16> f/11 > f/8 > f/5.6, and the fourth stop takes you to f/4.0.

Now that you’ve made that change you have the depth of field situation fixed. If you made no other change, your picture would be quite overexposed though. But that’s okay, this just allows you to shorten your shutter speed which you wanted to do that anyway avoid any possible camera shake or subject movement. Now you know you can shorten the shutter speed by four stops to offset the change you just made to the aperture. Starting at 1/40, moving fours stop gets you: 1/40th > 1/80th > 1/160th > 1/320th, and finally to 1/640th. That’s much better.

Shot at 1/620 second with aperture of f/4.0.

Shot at 1/640th of a second with an aperture of f/4.0.

Using stops to master exposure controls

Hopefully you see the utility of the concept of stops. It acts as a common currency so that all changes in exposure equate. One click of the dial that controls your shutter speed equates to one click of the aperture control. And that equals one click of the control for your ISO settings (if you can adjust your ISO in 1/3 stops). It all works out, and that is extremely important in the exposure process.

So many times you want to change one exposure control but keep the overall exposure setting the same. You may want to stop down the aperture to increase the depth of field, lower the ISO to reduce digital noise, or shorten the shutter speed to avoid any camera shake. Using stops you can do this with confidence.

Why can’t you just rely on the camera to do all this for you? In other words, why couldn’t you just use Aperture Priority mode, set the aperture you want, and then watch as they camera sets the right shutter speed? You can just change the aperture and ISO settings until the camera sets the shutter speed you want. And, yes, you can do it that way. But even so, you should understand the process so that you know what is going on under the hood. In addition, if you ever use neutral density filters or find yourself in a situation where you camera cannot meter light properly, you’ll know how to do it for yourself.

The post What is a Stop? The Common Currency of Exposure Explained by Jim Hamel appeared first on Digital Photography School.



Add Motion to Your Fall Photography to Help it Stand Out

This tutorial brought to you by The New York Institute of Photography. NYIP is the largest and longest running online photography school in the world. Offering ten online photography classes to choose from, the school makes learning photography fun and accessible to aspiring artists on a global scale. Whether you are interested in a new career or are in pursuit of a hobby, NYIP students get the personal attention they need to achieve their goals. They have access to professional photographers as their teachers and mentors to guide them through the course and help them improve.

NYIP is a paid partner of dPS.

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If you are gearing up to capture foliage photos this fall, you may want to brainstorm some ways to adjust your typical compositional style in an effort to produce more unique shots within such a commonly photographed category. How to add some motion to your fall photography will help it stand out.

Add motion to fall photography

One interesting way to update a lackluster landscape is to display some motion in your image. People are more likely to be drawn to your pictures if you can effectively incite some feeling that may be attached to the subject you are shooting. Considering the topic of the changing seasons, including some motion is a fun way to invoke that feelings associate with a shift from summer to fall.

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Bulb

Many photographers, new and experienced alike, overlook the BULB mode feature on their cameras. Some aren’t entirely sure what it does and therefore tend to skip past it altogether while adjusting their shutter speeds. This year, take a closer look at this functionality and explore its potential for adding some spark to your seasonal shots.

When working in BULB mode, you will be able to use shutter speeds that are several minutes long. For example, by keeping the shutter open for a mere few seconds, you will have just the right amount of time to move your camera during the actual exposure, allowing you to create a dreamy effect many others are only able to achieve on a computer with the help of post-production tools.

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In practice, let’s say you are trying to capture a shot of two different sunflowers growing several feet away from each other in a field. Rather than stepping back to include both flowers in a static, motionless frame, this is a great opportunity to slow your shutter speed and get creative with some movement. To capture a fluid, wistful effect while including both plants in the shot, simply focus on one flower first, start your exposure, and then quickly move the camera to the second flower while the shutter is still open.

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Capture falling leaves

Falling leaves are another perfect subject to explore when experimenting with slower shutter speeds. This autumn, try heading to a local park or hiking trail on a windy day to try out these new techniques. Find a tree with some pretty foliage that you’d like to use as your subject. Set up your gear and wait for the right moment to capture the natural motion of the outdoors.

As a gust of wind blows a handful of leaves from the nearby tree, get creative with the ways in which you can capture that windy motion. One method could be to try zooming in and out mid-exposure. Another could be to get into manual focus mode. Start capturing your shot in focus, then abruptly twist out of focus at the end of the exposure. You could even physically start moving your camera while the shutter is still open.

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Fall décor

If you’re interested in capturing some similarly unique shots of Halloween decorations, you can employ the same aforementioned techniques in an effort to add a dragging, spooky motion effect to candles or outdoor lights. Again, with open shutter exposure of a few seconds, you can create a look much more compelling than an otherwise stationary image of a home’s exterior décor. When experimenting with creative compositions such as these, you can toss the typical rulebook aside and just focus on trying to produce something innovative and exciting.

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Moving water

If you’re traveling to a hiking trail in search of captivating foliage shots, make sure to keep your eye out for any opportunity to capture images of water as well. At a speed like 1/30th of a second, you can transform an ordinary waterfall shot into a compelling silky cascade with a flourishing fall backdrop. If you can’t locate a waterfall and are instead working with a more slower-moving subject like a stream or brook, you might want to try a speed a bit slower, such as 1/15th or 1/4th. In general, we recommend you try fluctuating between speeds of around ¼ and 1/60 until you find one that you’re comfortable with. Make sure to experiment with the exposure time to find your favorite water effects.

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Getting Started

Before you head out to try these new techniques this year, here’s a checklist of some last minute tips you might want to keep in mind.

Keep the camera steady

When you’re working with such slow exposure times, your shot is prone to be affected by even the slightest jostle of your camera. You might want to consider packing a tripod. If you don’t own one (or lugging one along isn’t practical for your excursion) try to find something outdoors like a boulder as a means for stabilizing your camera before you get started. If you can’t locate a helpful natural prop, you could also try using the 2-second timer and propping the camera up on your gear bag.

Waterfalls

When shooting waterfalls, if you want to capture a more even exposure without the often inevitable inclusion of heavy, distracting shadows, try to head out very early in the morning. If this doesn’t work with your schedule, a cloudy day is your next best option for avoiding this.

Raise the ISO

If you’re trying to photograph fall décor indoors but the exposure is repeatedly too dark, try cranking your ISO (and using a simple noise reduction software).

Blur the background

If you’re trying to focus on a foreground subject but struggling to effectively blur the background, try using the widest possible aperture, and the longest focal length of your lens. Slowly move your subject further and further away from the background as you capture your shot.

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By effectively employing these tips and displaying the motion of your subjects, you’ll be able to capture the essence of autumn in a uniquely captivating way.

This tutorial has been brought to you by The New York Institute of Photography. NYIP is the largest and longest running online photography school in the world. Offering ten online photography classes to choose from, the school makes learning photography fun and accessible to aspiring artists on a global scale. Whether you are interested in a new career or are in pursuit of a hobby, NYIP students get the personal attention they need to achieve their goals. They have access to professional photographers as their teachers and mentors to guide them through the course and help them improve.

NYIP is a paid partner of dPS.

Jacob Boller is the School Director at The New York Institute of Photography and has been in his role for the past decade. Jacob first fell in love with photography taking wildlife photos with his Grandfather and still uses that same Olympus 35mm from time to time. Jacob is honored to be the Director at NYIP, the largest and longest running online photography school in the world, and is proud that via the NYIP Online Learning Center, course updates are made as fast as the camera technology develops.

The post Add Motion to Your Fall Photography to Help it Stand Out by Jacob Boller appeared first on Digital Photography School.



6 Things About a Photography Career that You Only Learn Through Experience

For some people, a career in photography is their dream job. After all who doesn’t want the opportunity to take photos in a sector that they enjoy. For most photographers, their career is a learning experience that never stops. Whether that is photographically, personally, or even on the business side of things, they constantly have to learn from their experiences, develop, and become better and more efficient. Here are six things about having a photography career, that you’ll learn only through experience in this industry.

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#1 Doing freebies

It’s no secret that fees for photographers have fallen over the last 20 years or so. This has been partly due to the advancement and affordability of cameras and also to the subsequent launch of smartphones. There has never been more competition. As a result, clients know that they can either get photos on the cheap or even for free. It’s not just individual photographers who are pressured into selling their work for less than the going rate, even some of the biggest stock agencies in the world are guilty of undercutting each other.

But, after you have been doing photography for a while, inevitably a client will come along who will offer to use your photos in their publication, website, etc., in exchange for giving you a photo credit. I always find this incredible and compare it to asking a builder to work on my house. In return, instead of money, he gets a sign on the lawn to say who has done the work. It’s up to you if you decide to work for free, but would you if it was any other business?

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One of my first ever commissions was for a restaurant. They offered me lunch in return for photos. I negotiated a fee as well as the lunch.

#2 You won’t get rich

Photography is an incredibly tough industry with lots of competition. Very few photographers will go on to become wealthy purely from photography. However, that shouldn’t put you off this industry as most professional photographers will tell you that they would not want to do anything else. If you find your passion and are doing something you love, then you won’t care. But the reality is that to make photography a successful business you will need to ensure that you treat it as such. If you are looking for wealth then you might be disappointed.

#3 Technology moves on

When I was first starting out and was looking to buy my first full frame DSLR, I spent so much time researching the different models and manufacturers that a newer model was released. I then went back to the drawing board and began researching that one when a set of new lenses came out. While research is important, the moral of this story is that you will never be able to keep up with technology.

As I write this article Canon have launched their next model. Trying to keep up with technology will just end up leaving you broke. As you become more experienced you will realize that it doesn’t matter if you have the latest equipment or not. A great photo is great photo, regardless of whether it’s taken with a top of the range DSLR or a smartphone.

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#4 Your love versus client’s love

One of the great elements of photography like any other art form is that it is subjective. Everyone has different views on what they like or what makes a great photo. This is no different to picture editors and clients. The reality is that sometimes things or images that you love are not necessarily the same as those that clients like.

For example, I was recently speaking to a founder of a British travel magazine and she told me that most travel magazines tend to use images with blue sky and/or blue sea on their front covers. The reason being that over the last 25 years they have seen that magazines with these sort of image sells better. Now, you may be the sort of person that likes to photograph stormy weather and that is absolutely fine, but if you want to sell front covers to these magazines you will need to adapt.

That’s one of the reasons that you often find photographers who work on personal projects as well as client work.

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Photography is subjective, this image was rejected by one of my stock agencies but sold multiple times by another.

#5 Being a Jack of all trades

While you should always try to focus your actual photography expertise in one or two genres instead of being a jack of all trades, on the business side of things you will pretty much have to run everything by yourself.

You will be responsible for finding new clients, as well as being your own marketing manager, social media guru, web developer, finance director, customer service manager as well as retoucher and administrator. This is all the other part of running a photography business that a lot of newbie photographers often don’t think about. Some of these skills are things that you will pick up through experience, while for others you may wish to hire someone to help. But

But, in the end, many professional photographers have to do most of the work themselves. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. After all, who can sell you and your brand better than you?

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#6 Budget constraints

Arguably these are the two words that most photographers hate – budget constraints. Those two words have a tenancy to come up frequently in conversations with clients. While this is often unfair to photographers, the reality is that clients are under pressure themselves.

So instead to despairing about it try to look at the positive and make the shoot work if you can for their budget. Obviously, it’s important that you still make money from any work but by helping a client out on one shoot you may get a bigger budget for the next one.

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Conclusion

Photography is a tough industry that has been the victim of the digital revolution. But, while it has taken a hit, it is still one of the most rewarding industries to be involved in. There is nothing like seeing your work in print or online and with hard work, determination, and perseverance you can go a long way. The experiences you pick up on your journey will be invaluable and if you get the chance to learn from others then it would be foolish not to do so.

What experiences have you gotten in photography? Please share your thoughts and experiences below.

The post 6 Things About a Photography Career that You Only Learn Through Experience by Kav Dadfar appeared first on Digital Photography School.



Avoid These 5 Common Mistakes in Black and White Photography

Black and white photography has been around for nearly 180 years, ever since Louis Daguerre introduced the daguerreotype process to the world. It is still hugely popular despite the rise and ease of color photography. And yet, whenever I look at other people’s black and white photos, I see the same mistakes over and over. Are you making any of these? Let’s find out!

Black & white photography mistakes

Mistake #1: Shooting in JPEG format

Ouch! This is a big one. It’s the single worse thing you could do.

The difference between RAW and JPEG

To understand why, you need to appreciate the difference between Raw files and JPEGs. Raw files contain all the information captured by your camera’s sensor. A Raw file is not a finished picture file. It has to be processed (using software like Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw) and converted to a JPEG or TIFF file in order to be usable.

You can think of a Raw file as the equivalent of a negative (as in from film photography). You can’t send a Raw file to a photo library or a magazine any more than you could send a negative. You need to process the Raw file (or scan and process the negative) first.

JPEG files are created by the camera. It takes the information captured by the sensor, processes it (much like you would do with a Raw file in Lightroom, but according to the camera’s built-in parameters), compresses it, discards the unused information, and saves it as JPEG. They don’t necessarily need processing in software like Photoshop or Lightroom, although most can be improved by doing so.

Advantages of shooting RAW

Using the Raw format gives you the following advantages.

  • Control: You process the file yourself, rather than letting the camera do it. You can process it to your taste from a stylistic point of view. Using Raw lets you interpret the file as many ways as you want. Using JPEG means the file gets interpreted one way only – the way the camera does it.
  • More data: The Raw file contains much more information than a JPEG, especially in the highlights and shadows, that you can draw out when you process the file. The extra information helps prevent banding in areas of smooth continuous tone like clear skies.

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Black & white photography mistakes

Using Raw helps you get from the before image shown above to the processed version here. With Raw, you can increase contrast and make the sky darker without introducing banding in the sky or halos along the edges of buildings. You can’t do this with JPEG files.

More advantages of shooting RAW

  • Adjust sharpness: JPEG files created by your camera are sharpened. The sharpening limits the amount you can change tonal values before introducing halos and artefacts. Yes, you can turn JPEG sharpening off in-camera – but how many people bother?
  • RAW format keeps the color info: Raw files contain all the color information captured by the sensor, so you can create a color version of the photo in Lightroom, Photoshop, etc., as well.
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Using Raw let me create both a color and black and white version of the same image in Lightroom, without any loss of image quality.

  • Improvements: The software gets better every year. The version of Lightroom or Photoshop you use in five or 10 years time will be much better than the current one. With Raw, you can take advantage of these new improved tools and reprocess your images in the future.

So please, don’t use the JPEG format any more for black and white photography. There are, however, advantages to using your camera’s monochrome mode, as discussed in my article Mastering Monochrome Mode.

Mistake #2: Trying to save photos by making them black and white

Black and white is not a method for rescuing poorly crafted color photos. If your photo is bad in color, it will be bad in black and white too (although there are always photos that work better in black and white for compositional reasons).

There is nowhere to hide in black and white. In color, if the lighting or composition isn’t as good as it could be, the emotional impact of the colors in the photo may rescue the image (or, depending on how you look at it, cover up its shortcomings). Black and white images rely on factors like tonal contrast, textural detail, line and strong composition to work.

That’s why some photographers consider black and white to be a kind of higher art form than color photography.

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The texture in this photo is essential to make it work in black and white.

Mistake #3: Not processing the photos properly

Before digital cameras and Lightroom came along, many pro photographers used a professional printer to print their images. Creating top quality black and white prints in the darkroom is hard, and it was often outsourced to professionals.

This was a beneficial arrangement that let photographers concentrate full-time on photography and left printing to the specialists. Perhaps the best known pro printer in the UK is Robin Bell, who has worked with big names such as David Bailey, Terry O’Neil, and Eve Arnold.

Nowadays it is much easier to create beautiful black and white images in programs like Lightroom, Photoshop, or Silver Efex Pro 2, than it is to master the chemical darkroom process. But, sadly, many photographers don’t get to grips with the basics. The result is that their black and white photos are not nearly as good as they could be.

Take the time to learn how to use your software properly and your photos will get better.

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Black & white photography mistakes

This before and after example shows the photo how it looked straight out of the camera compared to the final version, processed in Lightroom. Learn how to get from one to the other in order to get the most out of your black and white images.

Mistake #4: Not shooting in the best light

One of the advantages of black and white is that you can often shoot in lighting conditions not suitable for color photography. For example, on a cloudy day you can create beautiful black and white seascapes with a tripod and neutral density filters (this is called long exposure photography). Yet, in color, you would really need to shoot close to dawn or sunset to make the most of the scene.

But what some people do is use black and white to shoot in lighting conditions that are simply unsuitable for the subject. Using black and white isn’t the solution. The important skill is in matching the light to the subject. This takes a while to learn but it’s very important. Don’t be lazy just because it’s black and white.

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A long exposure photo made on a cloudy day. The light suits the subject – it wouldn’t have worked in sunny weather.

Mistake #5: Not having a strong composition

Black and white is a true test of your compositional skills. The best monochrome images use visual elements like tonal contrast, texture, line, shape, pattern, and negative space. The emotional power of color can mask poor composition. But in black and white there is nowhere to hide. You have to learn how to use these building blocks of composition effectively.

That starts with learning how to see them. For example, you can’t use lines in your compositions if you haven’t trained yourself to see straight, diagonal, or curved lines in the scene.

The good news is that once you understand the fundamentals of composition in black and white, you will instinctively apply them to your color photos as well.

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I took a lot of care with the composition of this landscape photo. It has foreground interest and plenty of texture – important elements in black and white landscapes.

Have you made any of these mistakes?

Can you think of any other mistakes that photographers make when working in black and white? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.


If you’d like to learn more about black and white photography then please check out my ebook Mastering Lightroom: Book Three – Black & White.

The post Avoid These 5 Common Mistakes in Black and White Photography by Andrew S. Gibson appeared first on Digital Photography School.



How to Connect With Your Photography Followers Through Instagram Stories

Recently Instagram released on of their biggest updates this year, Instagram Stories. It was met with both love and hate and I’ve found it interesting to see how it has been used since its release. Regardless of what you feel about this “Snapchat-copy”, it could be a great tool to connect with your Instagram audience. Here are my best tips on how you can benefit from Instagram Stories and improve your reach!

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During a recent trip to Greece I was able to interact with my followers through Instagram Stories

What is Instagram Stories?

Instagram Stories is Instagram’s latest feature which allows you to share pictures and videos that, similar to Snapchat, will disappear after 24 hours.  This lets you share images with your followers that you don’t want in your feed. Instagram itself describes their new feature like this:

With Instagram Stories, you don’t have to worry about overposting. Instead, you can share as much as you want throughout the day — with as much creativity as you want. You can bring your story to life in new ways with text and drawing tools. The photos and videos will disappear after 24 hours and won’t appear on your profile grid or in your feed.

Why should you use Instagram Stories?

The big question is then; why should you use Instagram Stories? Perhaps you already use Snapchat to share your day-to-day stuff, why do it another place?

Personally, I wasn’t on Snapchat until a few months ago but after enough nagging from friends and clients, I decided to finally jump on board. Talking to the phone and taking pictures of my travels felt a bit strange, to begin with, but I soon got used to it. However, I did feel like the time it would take to build a new audience, on a new platform, might not be worth it.

Instagram, however, is where I have the majority of my followers. With Instagram Stories I’m now able to do the exact same as I did for a while on Snapchat but with a much larger reach. Already I’ve received hundreds of emails and Direct Messages from people letting me know how much they enjoy my stories.

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Obviously, if you have a greater following on Snapchat than Instagram you might not want to ditch Snapchat completely. Uploading images and videos from Snapchat to Instagram Direct is rather easy, though, so you can be present at both.

I’ve found Instagram Stories to be an excellent way to connect with my audience and get to know them better. The reach and engagement in my feed have also increased slightly (I haven’t done any extended research so this increase might not be related). Instagram Stories is also a great way for your audience to get to know you better.

What should you share on Instagram Stories?

Since the release of Instagram Stories, I’ve paid attention to how photographers use it. What surprised me is how poorly they exploit this new tool. Sorry, but what you had to dinner or a picture of your dog laying on your lap isn’t interesting to most of us. The fact is if you start by uploading that type of content most people won’t come back and look at your stories even though you start creating more interesting content later.

If you wish to benefit from this tool and connect better with your audience you should be more aware of what you upload. If you just want to send pictures of your food perhaps it’s better to stay with Snapchat and send those images directly to your friends.

Here are some examples of interesting content to share with your audience:

Behind the Scenes

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When you’re out traveling or photographing, uploading images and videos from behind the scenes is something many people will find interesting. I love to see behind the scenes images from the photographers I follow and I enjoy seeing how the image turns out later on.

This can be done with both video and images. Perhaps you even could talk a little about the place you’re at or the subject you’re photographing.

Tips and Tricks

You don’t need to be an expert to share tips and tricks with your followers. In fact, it’s often interesting to see how beginners process their images or choose their settings.

I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback on my short tutorials, tips, and tricks that I share on Instagram Stories. Many people have said that they don’t follow anyone else’s stories but mine due to this.

Gear talk

Another interesting thing you could talk about is your equipment. “What camera do you use” is one of the questions I get asked the most, so going through your camera bag every now and then is a good way to answer these questions, while also creating interesting and engaging content.

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I got much positive engagement when sharing my first impressions of the NiSi filter system

Q&A Sessions

Unfortunately, when you grow a large following online you don’t always have the time to reply to all the questions you receive through email or through social media platforms. Many of these questions take time to answer, so a good and efficient way of replying to as many as possible, is through Instagram Stories. When I receive questions now I answer them through videos in my story. This saves me a lot of time but my followers still get most of their questions answered.

Since Instagram Stories is still a rather new feature there’s still much to be taken from it. There are many  ways to benefit from this tool but this is how I’ve found it to be most beneficial.

Have you started using Instagram Stories yet? What do you think about this new feature?

The post How to Connect With Your Photography Followers Through Instagram Stories by Christian Hoiberg appeared first on Digital Photography School.