Month: October 2016

4 Secrets for How to Get Tack Sharp Photos

We’ve all been here before. You get home from an afternoon with your kids in the park, at the ball game, or even a formal photo session only to load your pictures on the computer and realize that many of them are fuzzy, blurry, or just plain out of focus. It’s a problem that has plagued photographers for years. While new cameras offer all sorts of features like 3D focus tracking and real-time face detection to help make sure to get the ultimate tack sharp photos, the fact remains that out-of-focus images are still an issue for just about everyone with a camera.

It’s an unfortunate reality of the way cameras work with incoming light, and until we are all shooting with Lytro-style light field cameras we are all going to have the occasional out-of-focus picture or two. Fortunately, there are a few relatively simple things you can do to make sure your pictures are indeed as sharp as possible.

tips for getting tack sharp photos

Use a fast shutter speed

The world around you is constantly in motion, and having a camera means you are equipped to freeze that motion into a single frame. Depending on what you are shooting the result can sometimes be a blurry mess, which is often the result of a shutter speed that is simply too slow. There’s an old bit of conventional wisdom that says the minimum shutter speed needed to get a sharp image of a still subject is 1/focal length. So if you are shooting with a 50mm lens you need a shutter speed of 1/50th of a second.

Note: Due to the cropped sensor on cameras like the Canon Rebel series or lower-end Nikons the formula becomes 1/(1.5x focal length), so you would need a minimum shutter speed of 1/75 second.

This might sound fast but it’s actually not, especially if you are shooting in low light conditions or with a small aperture on your lens. It gets even worse when your subject is moving, in which case you need a much faster shutter speed! This is why many mobile phone pictures end up looking blurry, in order to let in enough light to get a photo they often use slower shutter speeds.

This jittery squirrel was moving all over the place, so I shot with a speed of 1/180 second to get a sharp picture. tips for getting tack sharp photos

This jittery squirrel was moving all over the place, so I shot with a speed of 1/180 second to get a sharp picture.

Proper settings

The solution is to use a faster shutter speed, which might sound fairly obvious but it doesn’t always work unless you have your camera configured properly. If you shoot in Auto your camera might not know you want to use a fast shutter speed. So shooting in Program or Shutter Priority is a good way to control the shutter speed to make it as fast as you want.

You can also utilize higher ISO settings like 1600 or 3200, which look just fine from most modern cameras if you need a fast shutter and there isn’t much light. Most photographers would take a slightly grainy (noisy) photo that can often be fixed with software like Lightroom or Photoshop over a blurry photo that can usually not be fixed. If you find that you consistently get blurry pictures of your subjects, try increasing your shutter speed and you just may just be surprised with the outcome.

Use a smaller aperture

The lens on your camera is designed to gather incoming light and focus it so you can take a picture. The amount of light it lets in is largely dependent on the size of the physical lens opening. A bigger opening, or aperture, lets more light pass through than a smaller opening, much in the same way a bigger hole in the bottom of a bucket lets more water leak out than a smaller hole. Wider apertures let you use faster shutter speeds and also help you achieve the type of beautiful out-of-focus backgrounds, called bokeh, that are common in portrait, wildlife, or even sports photography.

tips for getting tack sharp photos - family photo

Even though my 85mm lens has a maximum aperture of f/1.8, I shot this at f/2.8 because I wanted a wider depth of field in order to make sure all three subjects were in focus.

Depth of field

One tradeoff that comes into play when using wide apertures, is that your depth of field is much shallower. That means you have a very narrow section of the image that will actually be in focus or tack sharp.  Under very carefully controlled conditions this can be fine and even quite desirable. But in many situations, a thin depth of field can result in more headaches and frustrations than it’s worth.

Shooting with a wide aperture can result in a depth of field that is so narrow a person’s nose could be in focus but her eye might not. One of the best solutions is to just use a smaller aperture. The tradeoff when using smaller apertures like f/2.8, f/4, etc., is that your background won’t be quite as blurry and you will need a longer shutter speed, but if your lighting is good the latter won’t matter. And as for the former, I like to err on the side of caution and go with a technique that will give me a higher chance of having my subject sharp and focused, even if it means a slightly less blurry background.

tips for getting tack sharp photos

Use cross-type focus points

Almost every interchangeable-lens camera has one or more cross-type focusing points. That means they look along the horizontal and vertical axes to make sure things are tack sharp before taking a picture. These points are the little dots or squares you see when you look through the viewfinder of your camera. The ones that are cross-type are usually a bit faster and give you better results than their single-axis counterparts. Of course, you will need to know which of the points on your particular camera are cross-type but a quick online search of your camera model and “cross type focus points” will usually get you the information you need.

tips for getting tack sharp photos cross-type focus points

The center focusing points on my D750 are all cross-type, so I like to use them whenever possible in order to make sure to get maximum sharpness.

Cross-type focusing points are usually limited to a certain portion of the viewfinder. This can present a bit of a problem since normal-type focusing points are what is commonly used to lock focus on objects along the outer edges. A solution I like to use for these situations is the focus-and-recompose technique. I use a cross-type focusing point, often the one right in the center, to lock focus and then recompose my shot to frame it how I want. This does not always work when shooting wide open since even the smallest amount of movement can affect your shot when the depth of field is razor thin. But as I mentioned earlier, if you want tack sharp pictures you should probably stop your aperture down a little bit anyway.

Sharpness is critical when shooting macro pictures, so I used a wide aperture (f/8) and cross-type focusing points to make sure the foreground tulip was tack sharp.

Sharpness is critical when shooting macro pictures, so I used a small aperture (f/8) and cross-type focusing points to make sure the tips of the petals on the foreground tulip were tack sharp.

Use a tripod and Live View and zoom in to 100%

If you’re like me, you spend 99% of your time looking through the viewfinder of your camera as opposed to using the Live View function (where you use the LCD screen on the back of your camera to compose your shot). DSLRs have traditionally been designed for photographers to use the optical viewfinder which is why this method is generally faster and easier to use. But Live View has some very good features as well depending on the type of photos you want to take. If you are doing a lot of action shots like sporting events the Live View function is quite frustrating. But if you shoot landscapes, products, or other types of pictures where your subject remains relatively still, Live View can be a major advantage in terms of getting the sharpest image possible.

Using Live View helped me get this small wooden duck very sharp and focused.

Using Live View helped me get this small wooden duck tack sharp and focused.

Using Live View

The trick to using Live View for getting sharp images is to frame your shot with your camera on a steady surface such a tripod, then zoom in to 100%, using the controls on your camera. This gives you an ultra-close-up look at your image, and you can then use autofocus or manual focus to make sure everything is perfectly tack sharp.

While the autofocus points in the viewfinder do a good job, this type of 100% magnification shows you precisely how in-focus your image will be and helps you get pixel-perfect images. Landscape (and macro) photographers often use this technique, combined with small apertures for a wide depth of field, to get pictures that are much sharper than they could otherwise. It’s a tip that I highly recommend you try, especially if you don’t often shoot in Live View.

tips for getting tack sharp photos long exposure image

I wanted to get this 30-second exposure as sharp as possible. So I first used Live View and zoomed in to 100% to check that the foliage was focused.

Bonus tip: Use Focus-Peaking on mirrorless cameras

Most of the items in this article are geared towards traditional DSLR shooters, but if you use a mirrorless camera there is one handy tool you probably have that gives you a leg up on your traditional-style camera counterparts.

Focus-Peaking is a way for your camera to show you precisely what is tack sharp as you focus your lens. Many, but not all, mirrorless cameras have this capability and it is a fantastic way of making sure you get everything that should be tack sharp focused properly. With Focus-Peaking enabled, as you turn the focusing ring on your lens you will see a swath of dots (usually red or green) travel across the viewfinder. These dots indicate the spots that are perfectly focused, and when you see an outline of dots around the part of your image that you want focused, you can snap a picture and rest assured that it will show up exactly how you envisioned.

You can even use Focus-Peaking in conjunction with autofocus, so it’s another tool in your repertoire to help make sure you are taking the best possible pictures.

tips for getting tack sharp photos - focus-peaking

The edges of the leaves are all outlined in red by Focus-Peaking, which indicates that they will be in focus. Image by Bautsch (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Over to you

Do you have any favorite tips or tricks for getting sharp photos? Are there things I left off this list that you’d like to share with others? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

The post 4 Secrets for How to Get Tack Sharp Photos by Simon Ringsmuth appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Categories: Digital

A Simple Way to Conquer Your Fear of Street Photography

Frustrating, isn’t it? You are ready to go out, your camera is in your hands, it’s a nice day outside and once you actually go where people are….panic starts settling in. It’s that old fear of street photography.

It’s almost like, as soon as you start putting the camera to your eye, your heart starts beating faster and you start sweating. You can’t think about the picture anymore, it’s gone. You are pretty sure you can get a nice shot if only you could get close enough. But you chose to play it safe and settle for some wide angles where everyone is pretty far away.

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That, my friends, is called the fear of street photography. And if you are reading this, I am pretty sure you want to get rid of it, right? The good news is, you not only can, it’s actually probably not the way you think. Oh, and take it from a guy that couldn’t even look his own older brother in the eye.

But before diving into the logistics of fear, let’s get two things straight and out of the way first.

1 – Getting closer means nothing

There’s an unspoken creed amongst street photographers, it’s the notion that that you always need to be close for it to be a good image. While it is probably better to be closer than not, that’s just one thing. A bad image is a bad image, whether it’s close or far away. Just getting close won’t magically make an image good. Look at the image below, I’m not particularly close to the guy in the middle and he’s not even facing me!

fear-street-photography-3It’s not just about getting close. There are far away images that are great and very close images that are the epitome of boring. If anything, you might NOT want to get too close to people, so that you can include them and their surroundings. All of this to say what? Street photography is an art form, it’s about images, and getting closer sometimes has no bearing on the final results!

2 – A smaller camera is better

Some cameras bring more attention to them than others. No one would really notice a pocket camera, but pull out a double battery DSLR with a large lens and you will be noticed. So, use a small camera, it’s de facto less attention on you, at least for the time being.

With that being said, let’s get to the nitty gritty of fear!

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People don’t really care about what you do

Sorry to break it to you. You are not so important that all the people in the street want to do is to notice you. Except if you are Brad Pitt, or Beyonce. If you are, call me! If you are just a regular Joe like the rest of us, the bottom line is this; people just don’t care about you. They care about themselves, and it’s easy to prove. Just go out in the streets without a camera and ask yourself how many of these people actually notice you.

Hint: Very few, most likely none will notice you.

Psychology tells us we all have something called the spotlight effect, where we believe a spotlight on us, that everyone notices us, but that is not the case, it’s just how we feel. But it’s not the same when you have a camera with you and near, right? Yes and no. Again, most people won’t notice you with a camera, but even if they do, what’s the problem?

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Why you fear street photography

What’s the problem if people notice you taking a picture of them? Well, let me ask you a question. Don’t worry, it relates to the matter at hand. Do you feel guilty when your boss pays you? The answer (except if you are doing something fishy) is probably NO. Because you exchanged value for it. Your time and skills in exchange for his/her money, nothing wrong there.

But it’s not the same on the streets. There you feel like you are TAKING something from the person you are photographing. Something that is theirs, and you took it. That’s called stealing, right? So doesn’t it logically follow that you feel fear because you fear being caught at thievery? It’s easily proven. As soon as you ask for permission the fear dissipates because there is no more tension.

street-photography-fear

You fear because you think you are doing something inherently wrong. Let’s look at it in another way, do you feel any fear when just walking down the street? No, because you don’t feel you are doing anything wrong. Fear in street photography comes from fearing the reaction of others to your perceived wrong-doing. And between me and you, if I was stealing, I would feel fearful!

The cure for fear

The answer then is understanding the value exchange that happens on the street. You are not taking anything, you are making a photograph. You are creating something. Of all the people and things to photograph, you have chosen one person to make an image of them. You have acknowledged that person’s existence and importance.

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Sounds cheesy? The photograph is the ultimate ego tool. Check your Facebook, everyone is clamoring for attention through their selfies. Why can’t you be the one that bestows that attention on them with your lens?
Images are so powerful, that a Japanese photographer got carte blanche to photograph Yakuzas, Japanese mafia. Quite powerful, no?

By making a photograph of someone, you are acknowledging their existence, something that every one of us needs and desires at a deep level of our psyche.

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The exchange between you and the subject

Go down the street, give a nod to someone. Smile, and say hello. You have just altered someone’s day with your acknowledgment. Images are like that, they are visual acknowledgment. Once you stop seeing what you’re doing (photographing them) as something that’s wrong and actually see it as something good by exchanging value (they get to participate in the making of an art piece in exchange for their photo) your outlook will start to change. And by doing so you change your way of approaching street photography and the fear will dissipate.

The street photographer’s posture

This is truly where the magic happens because here’s a truth – the street reacts to you. The way you are in the street will dictate how people react to you. That’s the whole secret. But wait. If that was the whole secret, why then did I write all of the stuff above? Couldn’t I just cut to the chase, get right to this part? The streets react to you, so it’s all about appearing confident, right?

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Well, not really because I don’t believe you can fake it. I could tell you to go up and down the streets and act confident, to fake it till you make it so to speak. But I think people smell these things like a dog smells fear. If you think you are doing something wrong, it’s probably going to show in your posture and people will react accordingly.

Street Karma

Think about this with me – you look out your window and this guy is just strolling by your house, all happy go lucky. Then you look out your window once again and see this shady looking guy, looking right and left, as if he is doing something wrong. How are you going to react towards each one? Towards the first one you might even smile, but to the other, you may be ready to call the police.

The same rule applies on the street, it’s called street karma. You will get out of it the energy that you put into it. And it’s no woo-woo stuff either. It’s because of mirror neurons, those things in your brain that make you tend to mimic others. The street reacts to you. That’s what makes the difference between getting a dirty look and a smile of amusement.

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Conclusion

As you have seen, people care less about you than you may think, and the streets react according to how you hold yourself. Act like a thief, be treated like one. But act like you are enriching the world, and people will react differently.

Such things can be faked. It all comes from knowing that what we are doing in the street isn’t anything wrong. Indeed we are not thieves because as photographers we seek to simply interpret the reality that is in front of us with our lens. Now go out there and shine forth. Be yourself, stay focused, and keep on shooting.

The post A Simple Way to Conquer Your Fear of Street Photography by Olivier Duong appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Categories: Digital

How to Go Beyond the Hero Image and Get Real Storytelling Photos

Good photography is really about telling stories, and that’s where all the lessons of composition, juxtaposition, lines, and focus fall short. Compelling images tell compelling stories, but the hard part is recognizing that story. I’ll tell you a story of how I missed the opportunity to do that, and look at some ways you can add more storytelling into your photography.

A bear story with a moral

I was camped on a low tundra bench above a swift blue river in Alaska’s western Arctic. Our green canoes lay upside down next to the kitchen tent, and the willows along the river were flecked with the first autumn yellow. It was early when I crawled from my tent, stood and stretched. While still reaching skyward I saw another form rise from the tundra a stone’s throw away, a young grizzly giving me a curious look. I dropped my arms and turned just in time to see its sibling offering me a similar stare from a bit farther back. These bears were three-year-olds, spending their first summer away from their mother, ursine-teenagers, and just as troublesome. Unlike the many adult bears we’d encountered on our journey down the river, these two didn’t yet know to give humans a wide berth.

In Katmai National Park at the famous Brooks Falls tourists are inescapable. In this image, I embraced that part of the story of being there.

In Katmai National Park at the famous Brooks Falls tourists are inescapable. In this image, I embraced that part of the story.

Safety first

They backed off, after I shooed them with a wave of the arms, though not far enough. I woke my co-guide, and together we herded them away from camp and down onto the gravel bar below. One of the two young bears, rather than wandering off, decided to push my buttons and walked straight over. When off hiking or away from camp, you always give bears the right of way, but in camp, you can’t do that. Bears cannot learn that camps are places to explore.

Standing on the low bench, I knew that I could not let this mischievous youngster enter our camp. I stepped forward as he approached, right to the edge of the cut bank, and started speaking to the bear in a low steady voice. “I can’t let you up here, you have to back off. Back off. Now.” The bear paused in its approach, then stepped forward again. I raised a can of strong pepper spray, and held it up, ready to fire. The bear took another step forward, and then another until he was just eight feet away.

Hard lesson learned

And that’s when I felt a sudden moment of regret. Not for my behavior around this young, dumb bear, (in that, I knew I was doing the right thing) but for the fact that my camera lay in my tent. This beautiful (if troublesome) beast was so close I could count his whiskers. What a photo-op I was missing! But I pushed that aside, and spoke again, “One more step and you are getting it in the face. Don’t do it”, I said. “I’ll give you a count of three, then you are getting sprayed. One. Two…” before I could say three the young bear thought better of his situation, turned and ambled back to the river, swam across with his sibling, and disappeared.

Similar to the story I related above, this bear approached a group of photographers I was a part of on Admiralty Island, Alaska. He came very close, and I regret not taking a moment to show a wider shot with the group of us in the frame.

Similar to the story I related above, this bear approached a group of photographers I was a part of on Admiralty Island, Alaska. He came very close, and I regret not taking a moment to show a wider shot with the group of us in the frame.

Think outside the frame – the moral

In retrospect, as I thought about the images I missed, I realized that it wasn’t the frame-filling portraits of the bear that would have been so spectacular about that moment. It was the story that went with it. Facing the bear down with a can of pepper spray, the bear testing us, and his eventual retreat. That’s where the compelling images were, not in the missed photos of the bear, but in the missed story that went with it.

If I had a camera in that moment with the bear, even if I’d been on the sidelines, I know I would have blown it and gone for the wildlife portraits, missing the much more interesting interaction that was taking place.

Here a herd of caribou is seen migrating across the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. This image tells a more important story of movement, landscape, and perspective than a more typical portrait of an animal would.

Here a herd of caribou is seen migrating across the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. This image tells a more important story of movement, landscape, and perspective than a more typical portrait of just an animal would.

Learn from the best

Take a look at any issue of National Geographic. Many, even most, of images that are selected are storytelling images, not illustrations. The compositions are atypical, often showing the interaction of people or animals within the scene. Those photographers stepped back from a typical composition and explored their surroundings in a way that most of us, myself included, usually forget to do.

This image of an Adelie Penguin on an iceberg, I made in Antarctica. Getting close to wildlife is easy there, and the following image provides information to see just how easy.

This image of an Adelie Penguin on an iceberg, I made in Antarctica. Getting close to wildlife is easy there, and the following image provides information to see just how easy.

A zodiac pull right up to an iceberg with Adelie Penguins.

A zodiac pulled right up to an iceberg with Adelie Penguins.

Look around

This is an easy lesson to say, a much harder one to perform in the field because the real story is often easy to miss.

Another example: I was photographing the start of the Yukon Quest sled dog Race in Fairbanks, Alaska, where I live, a few years ago. I’d been concentrating on the passing dogs, the smiling mushers, and been studiously avoiding the crowds of people that surrounded me. At one point a spectator raised a point and shoot in front of my shot, I was irritated, but in that moment I was forced to pause. It clicked, and I realized that the real story was the crowd of mushing fans, out on a cold morning to watch the race. I changed my composition and made an image of the spectator’s camera. That shot is much more telling of the experience than any of my previous photos.

Here, the scene of the dog teams seen through a spectator's camera is more telling of the experience of the start of the Yukon Quest.

Here, the scene of the dog teams seen through a spectator’s camera is more telling of the experience of the start of the Yukon Quest.

This broad perspective is also an effective way to tell the story, showing the rows of spectators and the buildings of Fairbanks in the background.

This broad perspective is also an effective way to tell the story, showing the rows of spectators and the buildings of Fairbanks in the background.

Sometimes it’s a sudden realization like mine at the mushing race, but often, you have to put some effort into the real story. You need to break away from the scene you think you should be photographing, pause, and look around. Consider not just the scene, but the experience. What are you, or those around you, feeling, seeing, and doing?

Stay open to your surroundings

While being focused on your subject is vital to creating good images, it’s important not to close yourself off too much. Take the time to look around. Literally step away from your tripod, and turn 360 degrees while paying attention. What else is out there? Have you been missing anything as you’ve been staring through your viewfinder? What happens if you back up and show the surroundings?

While an image of single bird, in this case a Least Sandpiper is nice portrait, it is more of an illustration than a story.

While an image of a single bird, in this case, a Least Sandpiper is a nice portrait, it is more of an illustration than a story.

A large flock of shorebirds, when compared to the single-bird portrait, is more telling of the lives of the birds, and their epic migrations.

A large flock of shorebirds, when compared to the single-bird portrait, is more telling of the lives of the birds, and their epic migrations.

Think in terms of stories

That real story can be told within a single image, but there are also other strategies. Though an entire article is required to discuss the photo essay (5 Tips for Creating a Photo Essay with a Purpose), I do want to note that you can always think through your story using a series of images. This is also a good way to make the classic images you strive for while simultaneously capturing the storytelling ones as well.

Telling the real story is important not just for the quality of our images, but also for the quality of our experience. These storytelling images may not have the flash and glamor of a bear portrait or a sprinting sled dog, but it will help your viewers know the story, and that really is where the real excitement lies.

The post How to Go Beyond the Hero Image and Get Real Storytelling Photos by David Shaw appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Categories: Digital

How to Experiment with Different Editing Styles to Find Your Own

Photography is an art form and like every art form, it goes through its fair share of evolution. Hence, it is only fair that as photographers (artists of this trade), we too go through an evolution process of defining and redefining our artistic flair. This redefinition can take place in many different ways. It can be technical (going from digital to film or vice-versa) or it can be business (changing genres of what you photograph). Another way you can evolve as a photographer is with your editing style. And it is perfectly okay and acceptable to make one or all of these changes in your personal photographic journey.

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For a photographer, his or her images are the art form. Experimenting with the images is creatively satisfying.

There comes a point in one’s career when you really take a hard look at what your journey has been. What you have been through to get here and where you are headed. While you may call this a mid-life crisis of some sort, I call it reassessing your strengths, talents, and goals.

A few years ago, while I was searching for what style of photography appealed to me, I was instantly drawn to bright and airy images with lots of light and emotion. This kind of images really inspire me and make me happy. But of late, I have been drawn to more moody contrasty images that are still full of emotion. I don’t consider this a flaw or a failure of my part but instead, choose to look at it as a natural evolution in my journey as an artist.

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The same subject shot two different ways. I love them both equally and feel like both represent the message/story I wanted to convey about summer’s favorite produce – blueberries!

If you are at such crossroads, I encourage you to fully explore each of these paths and find a way to integrate it with your existing work. I have found that, if done correctly, your clients (or fans) will also value this evolution process as a sign of internal growth of your talent.

There are a few ways to go about this discovery.

1 – Identify your personal editing style

What style of images are you most drawn to? In other words, when you seek inspiration what sort of images do you gravitate towards? For me, images that are full of emotion and personality really call out my name! That is my first requirement; what story is the photographer trying to communicate.

Then I look for processing – is it dark and moody, or full of light and crisp? I like airy, light images just slightly more than dark and moody ones but they both appeal to me. My personal opinion – I am not inspired by sepia or warmer toned black and white, it’s just my personal preference. If that is what moves and motivates you, you own it and rock that style!

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A clean, crisp, bright edit brings out the freshness of the florals against the blue backdrop of the chairs.

2 – Research all other styles that inspire you

There are a few common editing styles that seems to surface over time. This is by no means a comprehensive list, just some that I noticed as I browsed through the internet and Pinterest for inspiration.

Matte Finish

Those images that appear as if a slight hazy filter has been placed consistently over the image.

Matt style typically has black which is not sure 100% as it it were printed on matt paper.

Matte style typically has blacks which are not sure 100% as if the image was printed on matte paper. (see original image below)

Original image

Original image

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A slight haze like finish that is predominately seen over the florals (especially comparing to the earlier image).

Desaturated Look

Images where all the colors are very muted. This style seems to be quite popular lately, especially images where the greenery (i.e. trees and brushes) are toned down in the saturation of green tones.

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A desaturated look where all the colors are muted from the original vibrancy seen in the first image of this series. The reds are toned down, the greens and blues are also muted (reduced in intensity).

HDR

As Per Wikipedia, HDR or High Dynamic Range is the effect to reproduce a greater dynamic range of luminosity than what is typical of standard digital imagery. I have seen this typically with urban night shots but in theory, this effect can be applied to any image.

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HDR here almost has the opposite effect of desaturated colors…the greens, reds, and pinks seem to pop in this image.

Monochrome

This quite simply means single color and is most commonly used in black and white images.

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3 – Identify artists that do these things well and follow them

There are many artists that excel at one or more of these types of editing styles. Once you have identified the ones you want to experiment with, find those artists and follow their work. You will begin to see a pattern in their shooting and editing style that may provide you with the right amount of motivation to try and achieve a certain look for your own portfolio and images.

4 – Shoot for a particular style and close to your vision

This ties in with the above two points. Once you have identified the type of look you want to achieve, take the time and effort to set up all the parameters needed to achieve it. For example, if I am aiming for a dark and moody look to my image I will look for lighting, textures, and tones that will support that type of imagery. I will not set up the shoot in the brightest part of my house where sunlight fills the room.

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This food editorial shot was set up in my basement studio on a dark cloudy day to minimize the amount of light hitting the overall scene. Additionally the dark tones of the bread and the wood board compliment the look, feel, and tone of this image.

5 – Invest in LR presets or PS actions or experiment

There are numerous editing aids out there for almost every style of photography. Just google the kind of look you want to achieve and chances are someone has created a template/preset/action for that effect. Some editing aids are free while others cost money. Depending on your personal preference, you can choose to use these aids or not. My primary editing software is Lightroom and sometimes I will use a free preset just to see if I like that style of editing before I go down the path of additional research and experimentation with my own shooting style.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, there are many different ways to look at your creativity and your photography style. There will always be those of us who go through life with the mindset of – Don’t fix what isn’t broken – while others follow the logic of – Change it up, mix it up, rock that boat…fall in the water and you will learn to swim! No matter what camp you belong to, the message I want to leave with you is that do that what makes photography fun, interesting and creatively challenging for you!

The post How to Experiment with Different Editing Styles to Find Your Own by Karthika Gupta appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Categories: Digital

8 Photography Training Tips You Can Do To Help Improve Your Work

Photography is like any other pastime or profession. You need to constantly improve your skills and work on areas where you feel there is room for improvement. It doesn’t matter if you are a pro or an amateur, you are never too good to learn. But people often find it difficult to improve their photography skills as you can get into a habit of a particular style or working in a specific way that becomes difficult to change. Here are a few training methods and ideas that can help you improve your photography.

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1 – Only Use Prime Lenses

Prime lenses are ones that have a fixed focal length, unlike zoom lenses that allow you to change the focal length by zooming in or out. Although most people tend to avoid prime lenses simply because zoom lenses offer greater flexibility, the real benefit of prime lenses is that it means you have to actively move around to get the photo you want to capture. This often means moving in closer to your subject which also means you have to engage with them.

So next time you are heading out for the day to photograph, just take a prime lens with your camera and nothing else, so you are not tempted to switch half way through. You may learn a lot about yourself and your photography, and you might surprise yourself with the photos you come back with.

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This photo was taken in Turkey with a 50mm prime lens.

2 – Photograph in the Worst Conditions

This is a bit of a contradiction because, as a photographer, you should always look to photograph everything in the best possible way and in the best possible light. However, as a way of training yourself to deal with different conditions, this is a great way to learn to adapt because sometimes you won’t have the luxury of time. If you are required to photograph something specific you may not get another chance so you would need to find a way around the problem.

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For example, if you are interested in photographing landscapes, go out at midday or cloudy weather when the conditions might not be ideal. This may mean that you won’t be able to capture the usual vistas that you would normally during the golden hour. So you will have to get creative find other things to capture that still tell the story.

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3 – Take Limited Memory Card Space

One of the great advantages of digital photography is that you don’t have to worry about wasting film when taking a photo. Often with enough memory cards, you can capture as many photos as you want and still have room to spare. However, this has also led to people snapping away in the hope that one of the photos they have taken has turned out okay rather than thinking about each individual photo. If you could only take 24 photos in a day, you would be much more selective about when you click the shutter.

But this is also a great way to train yourself to really think about composition, lighting, and focus before taking a photo. Simply either take a small memory card that only holds a few photos, or set yourself a limit of 20 photos that you are allowed to come home with. You will have to delete one to add another when you have reached your limit.

You can then take this exercise further by replicating the days of film photography by not allowing yourself to delete anything, so when you have reached your limit, then that’s it. Do this enough times and you will become incredibly efficient in taking great photos.

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4 – Ask Someone Else to Give You an Assignment

Photographing for your own pleasure is completely different to photographing for a client. But trying to capture someone else’s vision, or photographing for a story can really help you improve your photography. Not only will you have to ensure that you capture their vision, but you also have to ensure to cover off everything on their shot list.

As an exercise, get a family member or friend to give you an assignment to photograph something in the genre that most interests you. Treat it as a real job and present the work to the person who has sent it. Remember that they are the client and they may not necessarily agree with you on some photos, but the exercise is in ensuring that you cover all the necessities of the job.

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5 – Shoot Film

Imagine if you couldn’t review your photos on the back of your camera. How would you know if they were any good or if you had composed them properly? The answer is that you can’t until the film has been developed.

There’s no doubt that digital photography has made it much easier to capture great photos, but if you really want to test yourself as a photographer then using film is the ultimate test. Besides the fact that with film you can only shoot a limited number of photos, but because you can’t see the photos you have taken you have to rely on your instinct, eye, skill, and technical ability as a photographer to capture great photos.

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6 – Work to a Time Limit

Another great way to improve your efficiency as a photographer is to set yourself a time limit. Give yourself a certain amount of time and you’ll suddenly become much more organized and efficient at getting around and doing things. You need to have an idea of what you want to photograph (i.e. photograph a specific market in an hour) and with practice, you will become faster and better at capturing great photos every time.

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7 – Try Something New

If you have been photographing for a while, you might find yourself falling into the tedious mindset of going through the motions and not really experimenting. One of the great things about photography is that everyone is different and has their own taste and style. So instead of doing the same thing every day, try something completely different for a while. If you are a wedding photographer, take landscapes, if you are a street photographer, photograph sports. Not only will you learn new skills, but you may also find that you find a new passion in something.

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8 – Don’t do any Post-Production

There’s no doubt that every photo does benefit from some level of post-production. Sometimes that might just be cropping and straightening, other times to more extensive retouching and colour corrections. But a lot of photographers also use post-production as a get out of jail free card in that they take a photo with the thought of fixing it later in post-production.

But if you really want to improve your photography, you need to learn to take great photos, not create them. The reality is that a great photo should only need a small bit of post-production to enhance it. So set yourself a task of showcasing your work without doing any processing.

This will test you as a photographer and it will mean that you won’t be able to rely on that phrase, “I’ll fix it later in post-production”.

Here is a recent photo without any post production.

Here is a recent photo without any post-production.

Conclusion

Photography is a great profession to be involved in. Whether you are a seasoned pro or a beginner you should never stop learning and improving. These techniques are to test and push you. With enough hard work and dedication, not to mention practice, you will see vast improvements in your photography.

Do you have any training methods you would like to share? Tell us below.

The post 8 Photography Training Tips You Can Do To Help Improve Your Work by Kav Dadfar appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Categories: Digital

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