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7 Tips for Urban Landscape Photography

22 Apr

When you ask people what is landscape photography they have no trouble defining it. But ask what urban landscape photography is and you will get conflicting answers. People have an idea, but often don’t really understand what it is, or how to go about doing it. One of the first things to do is work out what it is, and then how you can do your own urban landscapes.

7 Tips for Urban Landscape Photography

Urban landscape photograph, taken in the early evening from a rooftop looking back towards the city.

What is urban landscape photography?

Before you can start taking specific urban landscape images it is good if you understand what it is. If urban refers to cities and towns, then it is generally understood that landscapes of these would be defined as that. Any image within those places where humans live, work and play would be considered in that category.

Cities are very popular for this kind of photography. You will find that many of you are already doing urban landscapes, especially when you travel. However, when you ask others what it is you are often told cityscapes. Yes they are, but there is so much more to the genre than that.

Here are seven tips to help you get better urban landscapes and, hopefully, help you to understand what it is as well.

1 – Street photography

Street photography can fall into two categories, one is street portraits, and the other looks more at the scene and what is going on. The first is not what you would typically find in urban landscapes, but the second is.

Look for scenes where people are, groups, or individuals, but place them in their environment so you get a context of where they are and what is happening. You could photograph people shopping and take a look at consumerism. Perhaps go to sporting events and photograph how people carry on at them. There are parks where people may be sitting on their own with no one around. Anywhere that people hang out is going to make for some interesting urban landscape photography.

7 Tips for Urban Landscape Photography

A street scene showing the landscape and what people are doing in it.

2 – From above

There are many ways to photograph above the city now. You can see the tops of the buildings looking straight down to the streets below. You can get amazing views that are unique.

Observation decks allow you to look down onto the city. They aren’t always easy to shoot from, as you sometimes have to take photos through glass or some sort of security mesh.

Another way is a helicopter ride over a city. It is an option that many cities offer now. You can take a 15-minute ride if you want to pay for it. If you are lucky to live somewhere like Melbourne, you can also take early morning balloon rides over the city. You will get some views of the city that are available no other way.

7 Tips for Urban Landscape Photography

A view from above, this was taken from Eureka Deck, an observation deck looking over Melbourne.

3 – Long exposure photography

Without a doubt, there aren’t many types of photography that long exposures don’t suit. You can use it for individual buildings or for groups and streets. It allows you to create some magical scenes.

The most common one that people think of is using Neutral Density filters so you can get very long exposures, anything from 30-seconds to several minutes. They can help create movement with getting blurred clouds, or you can remove people and cars from streets. You can get some interesting effects with the filters. Whether you use it for one building or many, and over water you will get some different images.

7 Tips for Urban Landscape Photography

A long exposure of Melbourne taken across the river.

4 – Night photography and light trails

Night photography is another way. Urban environments are great when the sun goes down. As the lights come on you can get a completely different view. The camera will pick up a lot more than you can see with your eyes. Depending on how bright or dim it is you may be able to take some exposures for a minute to two, even longer.

You can also get great light trails at night. Look for interesting streets that have some great buildings in the background that you can use when capturing the trails.

7 Tips for Urban Landscape Photography

Light trails of cars moving around captured during the night.

5 – Interesting architecture

Every city strives to build interesting buildings. Architects like to show off as much as anyone. No matter where you are, see if you can find the most interesting structures to photograph.

You could figure out why a building was designed for an area; if there is something unique about it. Churches were often built on hills so the congregations were still looking up to them when they weren’t attending.

Look for buildings that are nestled in with others that are very different. Perhaps there is an old building somewhere that is surrounded by new ones. Scenes like that can give your images an interesting story.

7 Tips for Urban Landscape Photography

One of the most distinctive buildings in Melbourne, Flinders Street Station.

6 – Weather and seasons

People often forget how a city or town can look completely different in each season and how the weather can change it as well. If you only go to a place once, you don’t get a lot of choices. But if you live or visit them often then you can get a wide variety of shots when you photograph it at other times and in various conditions.

Throughout the year, the seasons will give you numerous opportunities to get scenes that are unique to that time. Autumn will have the colors, so any trees in the streets or parks can make them colorful. Winter will have people rugged up against the cold and public places are empty. In summer everyone is in lighter clothing and those same spaces are filled with people. Consider what sort of photos you want and then choose the season accordingly.

Rain, hail or shine, well perhaps not hail, but each will give your urban landscape a distinct look. The weather is not something you can control but you can take advantage of it. Photos of cities that are white from the snow can be magical. Rain will make all the surfaces reflective and make it look bigger and shinier. Don’t underestimate how much bad weather can make your photos that bit different.

7 Tips for Urban Landscape Photography

Rain has given Hosier Lane a shiny appearance.

7 – Leading lines

Bridges are beautiful, but they can be used for so much more than traveling. They can be the perfect way to help your viewer enter your image. Leading lines are fantastic for helping your audience know where you want them to look. Though bridges are one type, there are lots of others as well.

Really anything that will lead people into an image will work. Look for roads that enter and leave cities and towns. Using the light trails of cars or other vehicles can be great for the same thing. Don’t just think road and bridges, consider train tracks, a moving bus, anything that will take or point your viewer to the area where you want them to focus.

7 Tips for Urban Landscape Photography

Using the bridge as a leading line to take you into the early morning light in Melbourne.

Taking the tips

You don’t have to do all of these, but using one or a few will help you get good urban landscape photography images. Consider what you are taking and think about the environment around you. Make the most of it and give your images a purpose.

Share your urban landscape photography in the comments below!

The post 7 Tips for Urban Landscape Photography by Leanne Cole appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Bought Your First DSLR? 6 Tips for Learning How to Use Your New Camera

22 Apr

After a lot of thought and research, you finally pull the trigger. You bring home your first digital camera, pull the sleek marvel of engineering out of the box, and stare at it excitedly. Then you look at all the buttons and controls, and the excitement turns into fear… You realize that you have no idea how to use your new camera!

Bought Your First DSLR? 6 Tips for Learning How to Use Your New Camera

So what’s next? Well, the most important thing is to not be intimidated. It’s not nearly as complicated to learn photography as it might seem – despite what all those buttons might make you think. You will thankfully never need half of those buttons.

This article is going to cover the technical aspects of using your new camera; what you need to know right away to get up and running. The three other aspects to becoming a good photographer are the conceptual, composition, and the editing aspect, but we can cover those another time.

1. Light

Before we get into how to use your new camera, there is an important ingredient that will make thinking about using it much more intuitive. What does the light look like? I want you to spend some time looking at light, without a camera over the next few days. A camera is a tool that records this light. You can’t figure out what settings to use if you don’t look at the light first. This is why many new photographers get confused when trying to figure out the best settings. They were never taught to start with the light.

Where is the light coming from in relation to the camera? How strong is it? Are you in direct sunlight, is it diffused, are there multiple light sources, are you in the shadows, is it late in the day, is there artificial light, and what color is the light? The technical side of photography is really all about the light.

Bought Your First DSLR? 6 Tips for Learning How to Use Your New Camera

As you get more experienced, you can start looking into using your own light sources, such as flashes and strobes, but that can come later. Don’t be afraid of this part either. It is not as hard as it looks, as long as you get good at looking at the light.

Now it’s time to look at your new camera and figure out the settings.

2. Shutter Speed, Aperture, and ISO

Besides white balance, if your camera only had three dials on it, one for the shutter, one for the aperture, and one for the ISO, that is all you would need. These three factors all come together to record the light. Here is what they each do:


The ISO is your camera sensor’s ability to capture light. The higher the ISO, the more light it can capture, but it also means that your image will look grainier (digital noise). Landscape photographers or anyone using a tripod often prefers to use a low ISO, such as 100 or 200 so the images have as little grain as possible. High ISOs are primarily used when handholding the camera in medium strength light and in dark situations, such as indoors or at dusk. This is why concert and event photographers, street photographers, or even travel photographers will often shoot at high ISOs. They often find themselves shooting in low-light situations.

Bought Your First DSLR? 6 Tips for Learning How to Use Your New Camera

It is important to know that newer cameras can easily shoot good quality images at an ISO of 1600, and many at 3200 – 6400 for the higher end cameras. A lot of the grain/digital noise will not even show up when making smaller prints, such as 8x10s. The large prints are where grain shows more, but even with this, most viewers will not notice it, and many will even consider it beautiful. I rarely go below ISO 400, unless I am on a tripod. When you get the chance, take a few similar shots at different ISOs and zoom in on the computer to look at the differences.

Aperture (F-number):

The aperture is a hole that opens in your lens to allow light to hit the sensor. Changing the aperture adjusts the size of the hole. The larger the hole, the more light that hits the sensor, but it also means that you will have a shallower depth of field (i.e. a smaller range in your image will be in focus). A large hole corresponds to a small f-number, such as f/2. The smaller the hole, the less light that hits the sensor, but more of your image will be in focus. A small hole corresponds to a large f-number, such as f/16.

I am overgeneralizing here, but often portrait photographers will shoot at very low f-numbers such as f/2.8. This is because they can focus on the subject’s eyes and have the sharpness fall off quickly to  separate the subject from the background. Landscape photographers, on the other hand, typically use tripods and try to shoot around f/11 or f/16 to have as much of the image as sharp as possible, from the foreground to the background.

Shutter Speed:

Bought Your First DSLR? 6 Tips for Learning How to Use Your New Camera

Using a slow shutter speed and a tripod allowed me to blur the moving trains.

The shutter is a curtain inside your camera body that opens and closes. The amount of time the shutter is opened to expose the sensor to the light is referred to as the shutter speed. 1/160 refers to 1/160th of a second. So an exposure of 1/10th of a second is a slower shutter speed than 1/160th, and allows more light to hit the sensor.

As you get to slower and slower shutter speeds, you start to see more motion blur in your images, depending on whether or not subjects are moving. How much motion blur will depend on the shutter speed and the speed of the subject. While 1/200th of a second would freeze a person walking, you might need 1/1000th of a second to freeze a car driving past.

Minimum shutter speed

Keep in mind that when you are handholding your new camera your hands will shake a tiny amount, which can introduce blur into your images. So you need to use a fast enough shutter speed to offset this. The rule is that your shutter speed needs to be at least one over your focal length. Look at your lens. You see those numbers on the front (i.e. 35mm)? That is your focal length.

The smaller the number means a wider field of view, while the larger numbers mean more of a telephoto. If you are shooting at 24mm, then you would need your shutter speed to be at least 1/24th of a second, whereas at 70mm you need to shoot at 1/70th of a second (or faster) to not have any handheld camera shake. It makes sense when you think about this. If you are zoomed in on a small part of the background, your slight hand movements will be much more obvious in that small area versus a wide angle of view.

If your new camera has an APS-C (cropped) sensor, which is normal for most entry-level cameras, the true focal length of your lens is actually 1.5 (Nikon)  or 1.6 (Canon) times what it says (the crop factor). So if you are at 24mm, your actual focal length is 24×1.6=38.4mm, so you would want to be shooting at 1/40th of a second or faster. Micro-4/3rds cameras have a crop factor of 2x instead of 1.6. Full-frame sensors are 1-1.

3. Manual versus Aperture Priority versus Shutter priority

In photography, there are three ways to skin a cat. You will want to set your camera to either Manual, Aperture Priority, or Shutter Priority. Once you learn your new camera well, you can use any of these settings to get to the same endpoint.

Set the ISO first

Of these settings, the first thing you will do is to set your ISO. Turn ISO Auto off (or read this for a different perspective: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Auto ISO). If you are shooting with a tripod – set the ISO to 100 or 200. Are you handheld in bright sunlight –  an ISO of 100-400 will do. In the shade, an ISO of 400-1600 will be ideal depending on the brightness levels. At dusk, at night, or indoors without a strong window light – usually, ISOs of 1600-6400 are ideal. So for any photography session, step 1 is to assess the light and step 2 is to set the ISO.

Bought Your First DSLR? 6 Tips for Learning How to Use Your New Camera

What mode to use next

Next, you need to figure out if you want to shoot in Manual (M), Aperture Priority (A/Av), or Shutter Priority (S/Tv) mode.

In Manual mode, you set both the aperture and shutter speed yourself. Some people think it’s macho to only shoot in Manual, but in many situations, Manual can slow you down significantly. For this reason, I use this mode the least of the three. With Aperture Priority, you choose the aperture and the camera uses an internal light meter to guess the correct shutter speed to expose the scene correctly. It usually does a good job at this, except for situations with a lot of bright or dark tones. In Shutter Priority, you choose the shutter speed and the camera chooses the aperture.

Except for when I’m using studio lighting or in a situation where the lighting is consistent, I mostly shoot in Aperture or Shutter Priority modes. I prefer Aperture Priority mode for portraiture, landscapes, most images on a tripod, or any situation where I want a lot of bokeh (the background blur due to a shallow depth of field). I prefer Shutter Priority for street photography, sports, or anything where either the subject is moving and I want to freeze the motion, or where I purposely want to show motion blur, such as panning.

While I personally prefer to only shoot in Manual in very specific situations, I suggest you go out for a couple of your first sessions and only shoot in Manual Mode. Guess the ISO, the shutter speed, and the aperture. Take the shot and look at the picture. Is it too dark, too light, is it blurry, or is there motion blur? At first, you will have no idea what you are doing, but you will quickly learn. This is a great way to learn how your settings will affect the scene.

4. Exposure Compensation (+/-)

Bought Your First DSLR? 6 Tips for Learning How to Use Your New Camera

Scenes like this will require you to use Exposure Compensation as the camera will attempt to make the snow gray.

We’re almost there – I promise. Exposure Compensation is your best friend when shooting in Aperture or Shutter Priority Mode. When using these modes, the camera will use its light meter to guess the correct exposure. Its goal is to render your scene as a neutral gray tone, so sometimes it will get the exposure wrong from what you want. You can use Exposure Compensation to offset this issue. You can raise or lower the exposure compensation (+/-) on your camera to lighten or darken a scene. Use it!

Some situations where you might need to use Exposure Compensation are scenes with lots of light or dark tones, such as an image with a lot of bright white sky or white snow (like the image above), or in a dark alleyway or at night. For a scene with white snow, the camera would see all that white and try to make it neutral gray – ultimately darkening the image too much. So you have to raise the Exposure Compensation (use + to increase the exposure) to brighten the scene back to normal. For a dark alleyway, the camera will try to brighten the dark walls to be a neutral gray, so you have to adjust the Exposure Compensation (use – to lower the exposure) to make those grays look much darker and more realistic (true to tone).

5. White Balance

Bought Your First DSLR? 6 Tips for Learning How to Use Your New Camera

White balance is how your camera portrays the color of the light in a scene. Different light sources have completely different colors, and the camera has many settings for the most typical ones, such as a sunny or shady day. However, start off by setting your white balance to auto. Auto white balance usually works great. Once you become comfortable with everything else in this article, then start learning more about white balance. It’s a more advanced thing to learn down the road, and auto can take you a long way. I still use auto white balance a majority of the time.

6. Autofocusing and Taking the Picture (Finally!)

Bought Your First DSLR? 6 Tips for Learning How to Use Your New Camera

This is the last thing! I promise!

Your focus area is the spot that your camera chooses to be sharp. When you set your camera to autofocus and look through the viewfinder, you will see many boxes (squares or circles depending on your camera) that you can select from to choose the area where you want the camera to focus. Figure out how to move this box around (you do not want the focus area to be set to auto or zone) and select one. You will want to move it to focus on the subject in your image.

Many photographers, myself included, will often just keep the focus box in the middle. I will then aim the middle box at the subject that I want in sharp focus, press the shutter halfway to lock the focus, then recompose the image while holding the shutter halfway pressed. When the composition is right, I will take the photo. This is a great way to focus if you do not feel like constantly moving the focus point around.

When you press the shutter down halfway, it will focus the camera using the point you select. Pressing it all the way will take the picture. Be careful, because sometimes when you are focusing on the edge of a subject, a subject that is small, or a subject that is far away, the camera can mistakenly focus on the background instead. This is a very common problem called back-focus that happens frequently to newer photographers.

Note: your camera needs contrast to focus. So make sure you select an area that has an edge so that the camera can focus. It cannot focus on a plain white wall, for example.

Wrapping up

Bought Your First DSLR? 6 Tips for Learning How to Use Your New Camera

I know this was a lot to cover, especially if this is one of your first lessons. It’s a lot to be taken in right away, but it’s really not that hard to learn all of this in real life. It seems much more daunting to read about it all than to see it in person. Really, if I were to show you all of this in real life – in three hours, you would have it down.

So let’s stop here. Read over what I wrote five or seven times in the next few weeks and play around with the settings. Take photos indoors and outdoors and at different times of day and figure out how to expose them well. Create sharp images, try creating bokeh, and mess around with motion blur. Take your time and change the settings to see how the images look. Look at them on the back of your camera right after you take them. Zoom into the details as well.

Once you have this all down, then it’s time to move on to the more advanced stuff!

The post Bought Your First DSLR? 6 Tips for Learning How to Use Your New Camera by James Maher appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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How to Overcome Difficult Lighting Scenarios at Weddings

21 Apr

A wedding photographer has to be prepared for pretty much anything. Big belly laughs, impromptu outbursts of song and bear hugs can happen at any moment. Not to mention that the light is constantly changing and you’ve got yourself a schedule to keep. Let’s just say weddings keep you on your toes.

That’s why it’s always worth planning ahead and being prepared. Weddings rarely take place in just one location and moving from indoors to outside, or from sunshine to shade can cause a huge change in exposure. When not competing with the sun, indoor lighting poses new problems. Tungsten bulbs mixed with daylight causes all sorts of white balance issues. But this is why we love weddings, they keep us sharp.

Being prepared and practice is key to achieving consistent results. Here are three top tips on how to make the most of difficult lighting situations.

Couple portraits – How to find good light on a dull day

Believe it or not, it is raining at the point of capture in the image below. This photograph was taken in July in Surrey, UK. The British weather was doing all it could to play up to the stereotype it would seem.

Couple portrait weddings

Not every wedding takes place on a gorgeous sunny day and it’s not always feasible to shoot at sunset to capture the golden hour of light. What can you do to create images that your clients will love and to which you’re proud to put your name? Especially when the heavens decide to play against you. Here is the process I use when assessing lighting conditions and how this photograph was taken.

Understanding the principles of lighting is fundamental in any photographer’s quest to a beautifully lit photograph. Fortunately, these principles are consistent regardless of where you are located in the world or how expensive your equipment is. Whether you’re using the latest Canon or a generation old Smartphone, light can be manipulated to your advantage.

Approaching every scenario with the same set of questions can radically change how you see light and ultimately how you take pictures. Where is the light coming from, where is the even light and where are the greatest differences in the light?

Place the subjects in shade

Shade weddings

Here you can see the scene exposed to what the human eye sees. The background is correctly exposed which throws the foreground into darkness. What we want is to do is correctly expose the foreground to create a clean canvas with an overexposed background. In this scenario, there is about three stops difference in exposure, which is perfect.

Shade overexposed weddings

By placing the couple under the branches of the tree they are instantly evenly lit. There are no stray light rays coming through branches or dappled light on faces, and the pebbles on the driveway aid in reflecting light back onto the subjects. By exposing for the skin tones the background will be overexposed, providing a clean canvas.

A few tweaks in Lightroom to warm the skin and recover some of the highlights and voila! An evenly lit portrait on a rainy day. The added benefit of the tree branches is that they, of course, provide shelter from the wind and rain. This technique of using trees as shelter can also be employed on dry days that are windy. Even if the sun is shining, a venue on a hill can increase the risk of a veil blowing away!


Why is this difficult? Depending on the location of the venue or church, you may be competing with changing light that the couple will walk through as they process down the confetti line. This is problematic as you are going to be walking backward, trying to capture the action, as well as tracking the changing light.

It is quite common in the UK for churches to have tree lined pathways, this creates a lighting issue as a break in the trees will cause the couple to walk from light to shade to light, etc. This can mean a dramatic jump in exposure.

Confetti lighting weddings

Take pictures of your hand

This is probably the easiest method to test the exposure of skin tones which can and should be used to test all of the techniques in this article. Take a photograph of your hand, inspect the screen and adjust accordingly. The wedding guests may look at you in an odd way, but when you’re working at a fast pace this can be a life saver.

Take images of your hand in both the light and the shade and note the difference in exposure before the bride and groom appear. Depending on how you shoot, it makes sense to only change one setting as you will be multi-tasking. The control for shutter speed on Canon cameras is located where the index finger naturally rests, and logically is the easiest of the settings to change.

Pay attention as the couple moves from light to shade, remembering the readings of your hand. The camera settings are displayed in the viewfinder and alternate between the two as the light changes. Where possible, pre-plan your shots, performing a mental run through of where people are likely to be and what lighting difficulties you may encounter.

Confetti lighting 2 weddings

First dance

Who knows what kind of lighting setup the DJ will have. Will they make a beautiful white spotlight for the first dance, or will they bust out some crazy laser snowflakes? Anything could happen. One method to overcome this is to shoot into the DJ’s lights and use them as compositional features rather than compete with them.

This isn’t the only option, sometimes shooting with the lights are beneficial as it gives you scope to capture the guest’s reactions. To create this shot, one flashgun at both corners of the stage (pointing at the center of the dance floor), elevated on tripods, and attached to Yongnuo wireless triggers were used.

First dance weddings

This setup offers two things. Firstly, by backlighting the subject even exposure on the skin can be achieved with no unwanted shadows. Secondly, you don’t have to worry about what the DJ is doing with their lighting setup.

It pays to ask the DJ before any dancing commences, what they plan to do and work with them. You would certainly be unlucky should you encounter anyone who wasn’t amiable in having a discussion. However, the point remains that they have a job to do. If they feel the song warrants a change in lighting then they will adapt it for the benefit of the wedding, not for your advantage. This is completely understandable, however, lighting surprises aren’t often welcome. This is why it makes sense to pre-plan and take control of the lighting.

Lens chimping technique

A caveat to shooting in this way is that it is possible to end up with equipment or the DJ themselves in the background. For this reason, an interesting tactic to employ is Sam Hurd’s lens chimping technique. By placing a convex lens element in front of your lens it creates cool flares and throws the background out of focus.

First dance 2 lens chimping technique

Practice is certainly recommended as an incorrect application of this technique can result in the lens element focussing all lights onto your sensor and completely blowing out the shot. The first dance is often a tricky one to shoot, it would be interesting to hear about your ideas and innovations below. Happy shooting!


Hopefully, these quick tips will help you deal with challenging lighting situations at weddings or any other photography opportunities. Do you have any others you want to share? Please do so in the comments below.

The post How to Overcome Difficult Lighting Scenarios at Weddings by Liam Smith appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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How to Shoot and Stitch a Panorama Photo

21 Apr

Sometimes the landscape is just too big. Sometimes, just one image won’t do the trick. Then it’s time to create a panorama!

How to Create a Panorama photo

I’m fortunate to spend a lot of time in the grand landscapes of Alaska. But often, camera in hand, I’ve stood there, unable to create the image I wanted. There was just too much going on, or things were happening in a way that just didn’t match a typical single-image format. I was photographing along a gravel beach near Haines, Alaska this winter, while the alpenglow was lighting up the peaks across the inlet. The glaciers and spires were painted in peach light. Going super wide to capture it all, with my 14mm, made the mountains too small and distant, and left too much empty space. I wanted the details in the

I was photographing along a gravel beach near Haines, Alaska this winter, while the alpenglow was lighting up the peaks across the inlet (see image above). The glaciers and spires were painted in peach light. Going super wide to capture it all, with my 14mm, made the mountains too small and distant, and left too much empty space. I wanted the details in the mountains while maintaining a sense of the vast landscape. A panorama was the only way to go.

How to Create a Panorama Photo

Panoramas are hardly a novelty, Smartphones and many point and shoots can create them in-camera. But stitching together images from a DSLR or other high-resolution camera will yield better results if you do it right. Sadly, panoramas are easy to screw up. Here are a few tips for making an effective panorama from a series of images.

What lens to use to make a panorama

Making a panorama isn’t the time to use a wide angle lens. The optical distortion inherent in these lenses tends to mess with the process of stitching them together. Pick a standard lens or a short telephoto; something between 40mm and 100mm will work well, though I’ve occasionally gone as high as 200mm if the situation warrants.

How to Create a Panorama

Remove all filters from your lens, especially polarizers. They can cause gradations across an image that are impossible to work with later, so get that thing off your camera.

Cameras and settings

I shoot all panorama images in RAW format. This allows me greater flexibility in post-processing to make sure that exposures, white balance, and other settings match from one image to the next. That said if you are careful in-camera, and manually select all your settings from ISO to exposure and white balance, you can get by with JPGs.

How to Create a Panorama Photo


Take a few sample shots of your subject. If you are shooting a landscape that varies in tones, meter off the brightest part of your scene and make the image as bright as possible without blowing out the highlights. Take note of those numbers (exposure settings), then using Manual Mode set your aperture and shutter speed accordingly.

How to Create a Panorama Photo


Turn off autofocus. As you pan across your scene, you don’t want your camera grabbing a new focus point each time. Set the focus so that your subject is sharp, then don’t touch it again until you’ve finished the series.

How to Create a Panorama Photo

White Balance

There are two options for white balance. The first, and easiest, is to set your white balance in camera, using one of the presets. Don’t use auto white balance, because the camera may decide each image varies slightly, and the colors will shift within the final panorama. Pick something appropriate and stick with it. The second option is to set the white balance of your RAW images in post-processing (see below).

How to Create a Panorama Photo

Making the images for the panorama


Almost all of my panoramas are created using vertically formatted photos (i.e. the camera is oriented vertically). First, this allows me to stitch together a greater number of photos for the same scene. Second, it allows me to compose with more negative at the top and bottom. This dead space is important to allow for cropping later.

Here is a series and final image to show you how I took the shots:

Notice how there is overlap from one image to the next, and they are all shot vertically. So nine images were stitched to make this final panorama image.


How to Create a Panorama Photo

A level tripod is very useful, but not absolutely essential. If you are using a tripod, level it. With a level tripod, as you pan, your camera’s angle will not shift up and down. If you are hand-holding be very careful to keep your camera level as you move across your scene shooting your images for the panorama.

Start a full frame to the side of where you expect your final image to begin. This assures that you have some negative on the sides of the image. Then begin making your series as you pan right or left. Overlap each shot by between a third to one-half of the frame each time. The overlap is what allows the computer to detect which images go where and line them up, so make sure to leave plenty of overlap.

Move across the scene making as many images as necessary to fully capture the landscape. Take a breath.

How to Create a Panorama Photo

Post-processing your panorama


In the computer (I use Lightroom), go through each your series and confirm that the white balance of each image is identical. If you shot in RAW, assuring white balance continuity is as easy as checking that they each have the same color tone. Check the numbers, if they aren’t all exactly the same, change them so that they match. If you set your white balance in camera, you can skip this step.

How to Create a Panorama Photo

Don’t edit the images separately, leave your photos as they are out of the camera (except to make sure the white balance is the same). Any additional post-processing is best done once the panorama has been created.


There are many programs that can create panoramas. These include specialty programs like PTGui, which is designed to create enormous images involving hundreds of individual photos. However, both Photoshop and Lightroom have merge to panorama capabilities which work great in most situations. As an example, I’ll go through the steps in Lightroom:

Select your images by clicking the first one in your series, pressing and holding the Shift key, then selecting the final image. All the ones in between will now be selected as well.

Right-click (PC) or Control-Click (Mac) and select Photomerge > Panorama.

How to Create a Panorama Photo
A preview window will pop up offering three options; Spherical, Cylindrical, and Perspective. For most simple panoramas, Cylindrical will work, but feel free to click back and forth between these options to find the best option for your image. Click Merge.

How to Create a Panorama Photo

The stitched image will appear in your Lightroom Library, or as a new image in Photoshop. The result will likely have some jagged edges from your base images not quite lining up. Select the crop tool and cut the jagged edges away. (This is why the negative space I noted earlier is so important.) Note: you can also check off “Auto Crop” in the panorama popup box and it will be done automatically for you. 

Once you’ve got your image cropped you can post-process as you would any other photo in your collection.

How to Create a Panorama Photo


Panoramic photos, while definitely not the best option in all scenarios are a great tool to keep in mind for those moments when a landscape is just too big, too dramatic, or too epic to be captured in a single photo. When I first started shooting panoramas many years ago, I regularly overlooked simple things like remembering to remove my polarizer, or failing to assure the same white balance from image to image. Screw up a setting or forget a filter and the final image just won’t work, and there is nothing you can do about it. Pay attention to those annoying little details and you won’t miss your chance to create some epic panorama images.

Do you shoot panoramas? If so, show them off below, or share some of your own tips for success.

The post How to Shoot and Stitch a Panorama Photo by David Shaw appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Lighting 103: Using Gels to Shift the Ambient

21 Apr

Abstract: By combining a white balance shift in your camera with a complimentary gelling of your flash, you can easily and efficiently alter the ambient color temperature of an entire environment.

In addition to controlling the color of light from your flash, gels can also allow you to control the color of the ambient areas of your frame. This can allow you to tweak, enhance or drastically an ambient color environment. Read more »

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19 Apr

Disclosure: I am an advisor to Priime.

A lot of people tell me that they know that they should shoot in RAW and edit their photos in Lightroom but that they just don’t have the time or desire to do the editing work. I’ve long been an advocate for photo editing, but also understand that time can be short sometimes and many people would rather spend more time behind a camera than behind a computer screen editing photos.

Here is where Adobe Lightroom presets can be super helpful. There are many different preset packages out there that you can purchase, but one I’d like to highlight today is a new preset package put out by the photo editing company Priime.

Lightroom presets are super easy to install with a few clicks and then when reviewing your photos in Lightroom you just hover over a preset to see which look makes your photos look the best. With a single click, instantly your photo is given the full editing process of that preset. Sometimes I’ll use a preset and just leave the photo exactly as edited in the preset and other times I’ll use the preset as a base doing 90% of the editing for me and make a few finishing tweaks from there. Either way good presets can save a ton of time and are a useful tool for photographers who want to edit their work quickly and professionally.

One of the the things I like about the new Priiime preset package is that the presets were developed by photographers for photographers. My friend Art Chang, Founder and CEO of Priime, is also an amazing and accomplished photographer who personally helped design this package himself.

Below are some before/after photos that I edited today using some of the new Priime presets so you can get an idea of the impact a particular preset can have.

Priime’s preset package comes with 13 presets with 112 variants on the styles. Priime’s package sells for $ 49.99.

You can learn more about these presets and purchase them at Priime here.

Capitol Lights Pre Edit
Capitol Lights no editing

Capitol Lights
Capital Lights edited with Priime’s Atlantic preset

Texas Sunset Pre Edit
Texas Sunset no editing

Sunset, Marfa, Texas
Texas Sunset edited with Priime’s Montana + contrast preset

Marfa Portrait Pre Edit
Marfa Portrait no editing

Marfa, Texas
Marfa Portrait edited with Priime’s Utah preset

Hank Williams Grave Pre Edit
Hank William’s Grave, Montgomery Alabama, no editing

Hank William's Grave, Montgomery, Alabama
Hank William’s Grave, Montgomery Alabama, edited with Priime’s California vibrant preset

Coca Cola Pre Edit
Alabama Coca Cola, no editing

Montgomery Alabama
Alabama Coca Cola, edited with Priime’s California + green preset

Thomas Hawk Digital Connection


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How to Use Colored Gels for Creative Off-Camera Flash Photography

17 Apr

Diving into off-camera flash photography opens up a world of exciting, new and creative possibilities. Besides giving you the option to shape and control the light in your image with a flash unit, you can also use colored gels to modify the color of your scene to add either a subtle creative touch or a more dramatic impact.

off-camera flash using a blue colored gel

A man playing electric guitar lit creatively by an off-camera flash colored blue.

This guide will help you to get started using off-camera flash and colored gels to bring your photography to the next level!

What are colored gels and how are they used?

Colored gels (sometimes called color filters or lighting gels) are thin pieces of colored transparent material. They can be fitted over the top of your flash unit to modify the color of the light.

Examples of colored gels that can be used to modify the color of light from off-camera flashes

A small example of the variety of colored gels available.

Often, the reason for using a colored gel is to tone of the flash so that it matches the color (white balance) of the room. For example, a typical camera flash fired in a room lit by tungsten light bulbs will appear much bluer against the orange ambient background light. By covering the flash with a gel that is tinted orange, you can make the flash match the existing lighting conditions so that all sources contribute the same color to your final image.

Attaching the colored gels to your flash

A gel can be attached to a flash in a number of ways. Perhaps the most common method for portable flash units is with a velcro strap that wraps around the flash tube. If you’re in a real pinch, you could even simply use a piece of tape. Just make sure that the gel completely covers the flash so that it completely modifies that color of the light.

Note: Magmod makes a system to do just that – read Suzi Pratt’s overview of Magmod options here.

  • Magmod Basic Kit on Amazon including attachment device and gels – $ 89.95 (are a bit more durable and will last longer than the gels).
  • Honl Photo Speed Strap – $ 10.95
  • Honl gel kits – around $ 19.95
A red colored gel filter covering an off-camera flash unit

A red gel has been attached snugly to the flash unit and will now change the color of the light from the flash to red.

A sideview of a colored gel fitted over a flash unit, attached by a Velcro strap

A view of the Honl Photo Speed Strap, which uses velcro to allows you to quickly and easily attach a color gel to your flash unit.

Gels come in a wide variety of colors and are very inexpensive, which makes it easy to get started experimenting with this fun style of photography. Also, they can continue to be used even if they are scratched or folded. You only need to replace a gel if it has a rip or a small hole.

Once you have your off-camera flash or multiple speedlight units ready, you can begin to get creative!

Using colored gels with a dark background

When getting started, one of the best ways to get a sense of how to use color gels is by taking pictures in a dark room. This gives you full control over the light throughout the scene. Creating a dark background doesn’t have anything to do with putting up black curtains or finding a wall that is painted black – it’s all about controlling where the light spills.

First, you’ll want to find a medium to large sized room. Dim the lights so that you can produce a perfectly black image without flash (available room light only). Place your subject a fair distance away from the far wall. By directing the light from your flash units only towards your subject and away from the wall behind them, you can create a completely black background.

To add just a hint of color, put a color gel only on your secondary flash. The key (main) light provides adequate lighting for the subject, while the secondary flash adds drama, intrigue, and style to the photo.

A man plays guitar with a burst of blue color from the flash behind him

This photo was taken with two flashes – the one in the front hitting him is not tinted with any color, the one behind him is gelled blue. Light from the blue-tinted flash has been allowed to “spill” towards the camera lens, created the colored lens flare effect.

Once you’ve mastered this straight-forward style of shot, you can start to mix and match colors for unexpected and fascinating results.

Getting creative with color

Color plays an incredibly vital role in telling a story or establishing a mood. We are all familiar with typical color associations – yellow represents happiness, red represents anger, blue represents sadness, and so on.

With a variety of color choices at your fingertips, you can craft a precise feeling or mood in your images simply by adding a colored gel over your flash unit.

A portrait of a man taken with a light from a flash that has been tinted blue

This image was lit by a single flash with a blue colored gel to give it a mood of introspection and melancholy.

It is important to visualize the final image you intend to create, otherwise, your shot can quickly turn into a jumble of mismatched colors.

Remember that you can also color more than just the subject. Firing a colored flash at the background wall can instantly update it, which is perfect for adding some variety to studio-style portrait shots.

An image of a man with a lightsaber, made possible through a red colour placed over an off-camera flash unit

Since lightsabers haven’t been invented yet, an off-camera flash that has been covered with a red color gel provides the distinctive glow for this image. The lightsaber itself was added later in Photoshop.

How understanding color can help you create drama

Once you start playing with color, it helps to have an understanding of how and why certain colors work better together than others.


You can apply even some basic knowledge from a color wheel to get a sense of how you can create bold and vibrant color pairs. For example, colors directly opposite each other on the color wheel are called complementary colors, as they pair together very well. Knowing this you can mix blue and orange for a dramatic shot. Many Hollywood movies use color theory to help make their footage more vivid.

Or, you can break the rules for more surprising and unexpected results!

A man holding a guitar, lit by light from blue and red colored gels on off-camera flashes

Blue and red create a strong contrast, which adds a feeling of tension and drama to this image.

Once you get comfortable with controlling and creating colored light, your creative options are endless. For example, you can use a flash tinted orange to recreate the glow of a sunset. You can also begin mixing and matching with ambient light conditions, which is much trickier but can be very rewarding.

You’ll be surprised how much a thin sheet of colored plastic can transform your photography!

Some important tips to remember

  • Darker color gels, such as deep reds or blues, block a portion of the light that the flash gives off. When working with these colors you will need to increase the amount of flash power compared to when you use flash on its on.
  • If you don’t have a full set of colors, you can layer two colored gels over top of each other. For example, blue and red colored gels can be combined to make purple. Remember that doubling them up will block even more light and require additional flash power.
  • You can use any traditional flash modifiers, such as umbrellas and soft boxes, along with color gels in order to soften or shape the light that is produced.
  • Experiment and play! Even if it seems intimidating or complicated at first, trial and error is a fantastic way to learn a new skill or technique that you can add to your repertoire.

Please share your questions, comments and images shot with colored gels below.

The post How to Use Colored Gels for Creative Off-Camera Flash Photography by Frank Myrland appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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The dPS Ultimate Guide to Getting Started in Lightroom for Beginners

16 Apr

Note: this is one of the most comprehensive articles we’ve written on Lightroom. Read it below or get a free downloadable copy to print and/or refer to later by adding your email address below and we’ll send you a copy.


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If you’re new to Lightroom you may be wondering what it does, how it differs from other programs (like Photoshop), and how to use it to its full potential – this article will answer a lot of questions and help you get started.

The reason that Lightroom has become so popular is because it is a workflow application. You use it to manage your photos the moment they are downloaded from your camera’s memory card and saved on your hard drive. Once they are inside Lightroom you can organize them into Collections (a type of virtual folder) and process RAW, JPG, and TIF files.

You can also add photos to a map to organize them by location, create a photo book or slide show, print photos, or export them to other programs for further processing. Lightroom remains at the heart of your workflow as you do it all.

The Ultimate Guide to Getting Started in Lightroom for Beginners

Lightroom can be used for printing photos as well as processing and organizing them. It’s the complete workflow tool.

The Lightroom Catalog

The Lightroom Catalog is a database containing a preview of every photo you have imported into Lightroom. It also contains a record of each photo’s metadata (which includes all processing done to it) and the location where it is saved on your hard drive. Lightroom works by saving the edits you make to your photos as a series of text commands in the Catalog. This includes any and all processing instructions you set up for each image.

The benefit of working this way is that it saves a lot of hard drive space. This is especially true when working with RAW files, as there is no need to convert them to 16-bit TIF files first (as you do in Photoshop) to work on them. All processing in Lightroom is non-destructive, meaning you can undo any steps or everything, and return to the original state of the file at any time.

Lightroom Modules

Lightroom has seven modules (Library, Develop, Map, Book, Slideshow, Print, and Web). You can only work in one module at a time. This article concentrates on the Library and Develop modules, as they are the most important to learn first, and one you’ll use most often.

Scroll down to the end of the article for links to other articles I have written that explain how to use the other Lightroom modules. I’ve also linked to other articles throughout this guide that expand on the points within.
The Library Module

The Library module is the heart of Lightroom. It’s where you view, search, filter, and organize your imported photos. For example, if you want to find all your photos taken with a particular camera or lens, that’s easy in Lightroom (it takes seconds).

The Ultimate Guide to Getting Started in Lightroom for Beginners

This example search shows all the photos taken with my Fuji X-T1 camera and a 35mm lens in 2016.

But the real benefit of the Library module is that it lets you organize your photos any way you want. It does this by using Collections, a type of virtual folder system.

Folders are limited for organization purposes. Let’s say you took some photos of a friend called Peter in New York in September. You can only save those photos in one folder on your hard drive (which may be named Peter-New York-September or something similar).

But in the Library module you are free to add the photos to as many Collections as you want. In this example, you could have a collection named Peter, another called New York, and another named September. In fact, you can add the photos to as many Collections as you want. You have complete freedom to organize your photos how you see fit.
How to Import Photos Into Lightroom

As Lightroom is built on a database (the Catalog) you have to import photos before you can do anything with them. During the import process, Lightroom adds your selected photos to the Catalog and generates previews for viewing. Imported photos stay in the Catalog forever (or until you remove them) and don’t have to be imported again.

If this is the first time you have used Lightroom, then it will look something like this when you open it. There are no photos to see because nothing has been imported yet.

Lightroom tutorial 03

The screen is divided into four. This basic layout is repeated throughout the seven modules.

1. The Module picker: The bar at the top that tells you which module is currently active. Click the grey triangle (arrow) at the top to make it disappear, saving screen space.

2. The side panels: The left and right-hand panels containing all the Library module tools. Click on the grey triangles (arrows) to hide them.

3. The Filmstrip: This displays thumbnails of the photos in the currently selected Folders, Collection, or search results. Click the grey triangle (arrow) at the bottom of the screen hide it.

4. The Content window: This is the central display area. You view photos here after they have been imported into Lightroom. Use the keyboard shortcut Shift + Tab to hide all four side panels and see only the middle content window portion. This is handy when you are sorting and flagging images.

More on sorting and flagging images in Lightroom here: 4 of the Most Important Elements of the Lightroom Library Module.

Importing Photos into Lightroom

If this if your first import you will probably be adding photos that you have already downloaded from memory cards to your hard drive. You can also import photos directly from a memory card, or a connected camera or smartphone.

If you have already saved your photos in folders it is best to import one folder at a time. This gives you time to organize your images as you go along. Be aware that Lightroom will make you wait a long time while it builds previews if you import too many images in one go.

This is what happens during the import process:

  • Lightroom notes where the imported photos are saved and adds this information to the Catalog.
  • Lightroom reads each photo’s metadata and saves that in the Catalog. This includes the camera settings and file names, data that is used to help search images.
  • Lightroom creates a preview of each imported photo and saves it on your computer’s hard drive.
  • The previews are saved in a previews (.lrdata) file.

Please note the following: This is important and often trips up first-time Lightroom users. Your photos are not stored in the Catalog. Backing up the Catalog does not back up your images. Nor are your photos stored in the cloud if you’re a Lightroom CC subscriber. The Catalog only stores the metadata and processing information.

Always remember that your photos are saved on your hard drive. You can only back up your photos by backing up the hard drive on which you’ve saved them.

The Import Window

Get started by clicking the Import button. Lightroom opens the Import window. It’s divided into four areas.

The Ultimate Guide to Getting Started in Lightroom for Beginners

1. Source: This designates from where Lightroom will be importing the photos. All devices and hard drives connected to your computer are shown here.

2. Photo thumbnails: Ticked photos will be imported into the Lightroom Catalog when you press the Import button. You can choose Check All or Uncheck All at the bottom of the thumbnail window. To select several in a row tick one, hold the Shift key and select another – Lightroom will tick all of the images in between. To select random images hold the CMD/CTRL key and click each one individually.

3. Import options: These tell Lightroom what to do with the photos. You have four options, they are:

  • Copy as DNG – Lightroom copies your files and converts any non-DNG Raw files to the DNG format. Only select this if you understand the benefits (and disadvantages) of using the DNG format.
  • Copy – Lightroom copies the selected files without changing the format. Use this to copy files from a device or memory card over to a hard drive.
  • Move – Lightroom moves the selected files from their current location to a new one. This is the same as Copy, except that Lightroom deletes the originals afterwards. This option is NOT recommended if you are downloading from your memory card! Always use Copy for that, so that if anything goes wrong during the import process you still have your original images on the car.
  • Add – Lightroom adds the selected photos to the Catalog, without copying them. Use this if the imported photos are already saved in the correct place on your hard drive (i.e. you aren’t downloading them from a card).

4. Destination: Where you tell Lightroom to save the imported photos and what to do with them along the way.

If you select the Add option you’ll see two panels here. File Handling (where you can select the preview options and save a second copy to another drive) and Apply During Import (which allows you to apply Lightroom develop presets to all the images being imported, this can save a lot of time if you wish to apply things like Lens Corrections, a slight edge vignette, etc., to all your images).

If you select Copy as DNG, Copy or Move you’ll also see the File Renaming (where you can rename and number your images) and Destination (tell Lightroom where to put your actual images) panels.

Further reading: Make Lightroom Faster by Using DNG.

Putting it Together

Now it’s time to import your first photos. This initial workflow assumes that you’re importing files that you have already previously saved to a hard drive.

  1. Under “Source”, navigate to the folder containing your photo files.
  2. Select the Add option from the top section.
  3. Open the File Handling panel (on the right, click on the heading to open and close panels). Set Build Previews to 1:1.
  4. Open the Apply During Import panel and set Develop Settings and Metadata to None. This is just to keep your first import simple.
  5. Click the Import button. Lightroom takes you to the Library module and starts importing the selected photos. It takes a while to create the 1:1 previews, but the wait is worth it as it makes viewing your photos much quicker.

The Ultimate Guide to Getting Started in Lightroom for Beginners

At some point, you’ll want to import photos directly from a memory card, camera, or Smartphone. There are a couple of extra steps in this process.

  1. Under “Source”, navigate to your memory card containing your photo files.
  2. Select Copy (instead of Add) at the top of the Import window.
  3. Set the File Handling and Apply During Import panel settings as above.
  4. Ignore the File Renaming panel (advanced users only).
  5. Under “Destination Folder”, select where you would like to save the imported photos. You can create a new folder by right-clicking on an existing one and selecting Create New Folder.
  6. Click the Import button when you’re ready.

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How to Organize Your Photos in Lightroom

Photos are saved in folders (on your hard drive) and organized in Collections (in Lightroom). You can view both Folders and Collections in the Library module, but you can only view Collections in the other modules. This is one of the reasons why you will want to use Collections to organize your images.

You can create as many Collections as you like. The more you use Collections, the more you will appreciate how useful they are.

Lightroom has several types of Collections

Collections: Virtual folders to which you can add any photos imported into Lightroom.

Collection Sets: Another type of virtual folder. You can add Collections and other Collection Sets to a Collection Set, but not photos. They are for organizing Collections.

Smart Collections: Collections populated automatically according to criteria set by you. Lightroom already contains several Smart Collections, you can add more as you see fit.

Published Collections: These have a lot of uses, but the most common is for sending images to photo sharing websites like 500px and Flickr. This is for advanced users only.

For Further reading on this topic, check out:

  • How to Upload Photos to Flickr and 500px Using Lightroom 5 (the information applies to Lightroom 6 and Lightroom CC as well).
  • How to Publish Images Directly to Instagram From Lightroom.

Book, Slideshow, Print, and Web Collections: Created in Book, Slideshow, Print, and Web modules. These collections keep track of images used in these modules for specific projects you create.

This screenshot shows the icons used to represent Collections in Lightroom.

The Ultimate Guide to Getting Started in Lightroom for Beginners

  1. Devon (1) is a Collection Set that contains a Collection.
  2. Speke’s Mill Walk (2) is a Collection containing photos.
  3. Print (3) is a Print Collection.
  4. Web Gallery (4) is a Web Collection.
  5. The Collection Set Smart Collections (5) contains . . .
  6. The default Smart Collections (6) that come with Lightroom.

The numbers on the right tell you how many photos are in each Collection. We will concentrate on Collection Sets and Collections in this article.

Creating Collection Sets

1. Go to the Collections panel and click on the plus (+) icon. Select Create Collection Set.

The Ultimate Guide to Getting Started in Lightroom for Beginners

2. Give the Collection set a name. This might be something like the year or the country where the photos you imported earlier were taken.

The Ultimate Guide to Getting Started in Lightroom for Beginners

3. Right-click on the Collection Set you created and choose Create Collection. Give it a name (relevant to the photos you just imported), tick the Set as Target Collection Box and click Create.

The Ultimate Guide to Getting Started in Lightroom for Beginners

4. Go to the Catalog panel and click Previous Import. Lightroom displays the images you imported earlier in the Content window. Go to Edit > Select All to select all the photos and press the B key. Lightroom adds the selected photos to the Target Collection – the one you just created.

The Ultimate Guide to Getting Started in Lightroom for Beginners

Further reading

Now that you understand the basics of the Library module, you can learn more about organizing and searching your photos with these articles.

  • 5 Essential Things You Need to Know About the Lightroom Library Module
  • Use Lightroom Collections to Improve your Workflow
  • How to Organize Your Photos in Lightroom
  • Making Sense of Lightroom’s Grid View
  • The Hidden Secrets of Lightroom 5’s Loupe View
  • How to Find Your Best Images With Lightroom 5’s Compare View
  • Comparing Images with Lightroom 5’s Survey View
  • How to Create and Use Smart Collections
  • Four Advantages of Using Lightroom Collections
  • How to Use the Filter in Lightroom’s Library Module

The Develop Module

Now that you understand the basics of the Lightroom Library module, it’s time to get started post-processing some photos. To do so, select an image by clicking on it, then press the D key. This keyboard shortcut takes you straight to the Develop module.

The layout of the Develop module is similar to that of the Library module. The Filmstrip (bottom) and Module Picker (top) are the same. What have changed are the panels on the left and right-hand sides.

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When you’re ready, hide the Module Picker, Filmstrip and left-hand panels by clicking on the grey arrows (triangles). Your screen should look something like this – the photo you’re working on is in the centre of the screen (the content window) and there are some panels on the right.

The Ultimate Guide to Getting Started in Lightroom for Beginners

The panels on the right contain most of Lightroom’s RAW processing tools. You can jump around these in whichever order you want, but it makes sense to use a purposeful workflow and approach them in a logical order.

I’m going to show you my workflow. Follow this to start with (it works) but don’t be afraid to switch things around if you find a way that works better for you.

This article isn’t long enough to cover every tool in the Develop module, but I will cover the most important ones, and include links to articles that explore the other tools in more depth.

Camera Calibration Panel

There are two important settings you will want to take note of in this panel:

  1. Process: This should be set to 2012 (Current).
  2. Profile: The options here match the color profiles of the camera used to take the photo (and vary by manufacturer), plus the Adobe Standard option. Select the most appropriate for your photo. This should be done at the beginning of your post-processing as the profile affects both color and contrast.

The Ultimate Guide to Getting Started in Lightroom for Beginners

Don’t worry about the other sliders in the Camera Calibration panel they are for advanced users only.

I set Profile to Camera Landscape for this photo. This is the best profile to use as it brings out the soft blue hues of the early evening sky.

The Ultimate Guide to Getting Started in Lightroom for Beginners

By comparison, this version using the Camera Standard profile, is not as effective. There is a big difference between the colors in both photos, which shows why it is important to set the most appropriate profile at the beginning of your workflow.

The Ultimate Guide to Getting Started in Lightroom for Beginners

Lens Corrections Panel

Some photographers like to work with this panel near the end of their workflow. I place it near the beginning because it’s important to correct barrel distortion in landscape and architectural photos, otherwise you can’t straighten horizons using the Crop tool accurately.

To get started there are only two things you need to do inside the Lens Corrections panel. Both are found under the Profile tab.

1. Tick the Remove Chromatic Aberrations box. This tells Lightroom to automatically remove any chromatic aberrations in the photo. {Link to this URL with the highlighted text }

2. Tick the Enable Profile Corrections box. Lightroom should automatically detect the lens used to take the photo and apply the correct profile to eliminate barrel distortion and any edge vignetting that is present.

The Ultimate Guide to Getting Started in Lightroom for Beginners

There are two things to note here:

  1. The screenshot shown is from Lightroom CC. If you have Lightroom 6 or an earlier version of Lightroom the Lens Corrections panel has a different layout.
  2. Don’t tick the Enable Profile Corrections box if the Built-in Lens Profile applied message is displayed underneath. Some cameras have built-in lens profiles that are automatically applied by Lightroom. You won’t find profiles for them in the menu.

The Ultimate Guide to Getting Started in Lightroom for Beginners

If you have Lightroom 5 or earlier, the Built-in Lens Profile applied message isn’t displayed, even if the photo has one. If you can’t find the profile for your lens in the menu, it is either an old lens that Adobe hasn’t profiled or a new lens with a built-in profile (this mainly applies to lenses from Mirrorless camera systems).

Ignore the other tools in the Lens Corrections panel for the moment, they are for more advanced users.

Basic Panel

The Basic Panel is quite important as the work you do here establishes the tonal values and colors of your photo. Most of your post-processing is done here, and the tools in the other panels are used for refining the image.

White Balance Sliders

The Ultimate Guide to Getting Started in Lightroom for Beginners

Here you can use one of the presets (Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, etc.) or adjust the Temp and Tint sliders yourself. Move the Temp slider left to make the image cooler or move it right to make it warmer. The Tint slider is for removing green or magenta color casts (usually caused by fluorescent lights).

Alternatively, select on the eyedropper icon and click a neutral grey or white area in the image. Lightroom analyzes the pixels under the cursor and sets the White Balance sliders to remove any color cast (making the image color neutral).

There are three ways to use White Balance:

  1. Create an image with neutral color.
  2. Give the image a warm color tone. You might do this with a landscape taken during the golden hour (when the light is naturally warm) or a portrait (as warm colors are more flattering for skin tones than cool ones).
  3. Create a cool color tone to give the photo a cold feel (perhaps for a landscape photo taken in the winter).

Once you have decided which of these three paths you want to go down, you can adjust the sliders to suit. For example, I gave this portrait a warm tone by setting the White Balance to the Shade preset.

The Ultimate Guide to Getting Started in Lightroom for Beginners

Here, I set White Balance to Daylight. This gave the portrait a blue cast which is much less pleasing to the eye.

The Ultimate Guide to Getting Started in Lightroom for Beginners

Presence Sliders

There are two more sliders at the bottom of the Basic panel that affect color. They are called Vibrance and Saturation. Move them left to reduce the color intensity, or right to increase it.

The Ultimate Guide to Getting Started in Lightroom for Beginners

The Saturation slider affects all colors equally. The Vibrance slider has a greater affect on saturated colors. Play around with them on a few different photos to get a feel for how they work. Be careful – these sliders are best used for desaturation of colors (lowering the intensity) rather than increasing them (which often looks false).

The Clarity slider emphasizes texture when you move it right, and reduces texture when you move it to the left. Setting Clarity to +20 or +30 improves most photos (but beware of using it on portraits where it can over-emphasize skin texture and wrinkles and become unflattering to the subject). It may also change the brightness of the image.

This photo has Clarity set to zero.

Lightroom tutorial 16a

This version has Clarity set to +30, bringing out the texture in the bricks and roof tiles.

Lightroom tutorial 16b

Further reading: Four Ways to Improve Your Photos with the Clarity Slider.

Tone Sliders

The Tone sliders are for adjusting brightness and contrast. If you’re feeling lucky press the Auto button to see what happens. If you don’t like the effect simply go to Edit > Undo to step backward.

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  • Exposure slider: Move it left to make the photo darker, right to make it brighter.
  • Contrast slider: Move it left to decrease contrast, right to increase it.
  • Highlights slider: Move it left to make only light tones darker, or right to make them lighter.
  • Shadows slider: Move it left to make only dark tones darker, or right to make them lighter.
  • Whites and Blacks sliders: Don’t worry about these sliders at this stage.

The best way to learn how to use the tone sliders is to use them and see what happens. Take the following photo as an example. This is how it looked before making any adjustments.

Lightroom tutorial 17a

In this version I set Shadows to -68 to make the bottom part of the image darker, and Highlights to +43 to make the sky lighter. Notice that this effectively increased the overall contrast of the image as well.

Lightroom tutorial 17b

Tone Curve Panel

This is an easy one for newcomers to Lightroom, as my recommendation is that you avoid it for the moment. You can work just as effectively with the Tone sliders in the Basic panel.

There’s just one exception to this – some of you may be comfortable with the Tone Curve because you have used in extensively in another program like Photoshop. In that case you can go right ahead and use it in Lightroom too.

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HSL / Color / B&W Panel

The sliders in this panel give you much greater control over the colors in your image. You can also use them to convert your photo to black and white. The complexities of this panel are a little beyond the scope of this article, so I’ll point you towards the following articles to learn more.

Further reading:

  • Mastering Color in Lightroom using the HSL Tab
  • How to Convert Photos to Black and White in Lightroom
  • Understanding the HSL Panel in Lightroom for Beginners

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Split Toning Panel

This is another panel that is useful both when working in color (for color grading – adjusting the overall color balance of the image) and in black and white (for toning photos). Once again, it’s a little advanced for Lightroom newcomers, but you can learn more with these articles.

Lightroom tutorial 21

Further reading:

  • How to Split Tone Black and White Photos in Lightroom
  • How to Create a Vintage Look using Lightroom
  • Understanding the HSL Panel in Lightroom for Beginners

Detail Panel

The controls in this panel have two purposes. The Sharpening sliders are there because RAW files are slightly soft (they are unsharpened) straight out of the camera. The Noise Reduction sliders are for reducing noise caused by using high ISO settings or long exposures (longer than five minutes).

Lightroom tutorial 22

The best thing to do is leave them at their default settings. They are good enough for most photos.

Effects Panel

The Effects panel is used for adding vignettes, adding grain (to imitate the look of film) and (with the Dehaze slider, available only in Lightroom CC) for removing atmospheric haze.

Lightroom tutorial 23

It’s another panel you can skip over for the moment. This will give me space to tell you about something that will really help improve your photo processing in Lightroom – making local adjustments.

Local Adjustments

Local adjustments are kind of a big deal in Lightroom because they are what elevate your post-processing technique from good to great. There are very few photos that can’t be improved by some sort of local adjustment.

First, let’s look at a definition. A global adjustment is one that affects the entire image. All the Develop module tools you have learned to use so far are global adjustments.

Local adjustments affect only part of the image. If you have a Photoshop background, then you know that you can make local adjustments in Photoshop using selections or masks. The theory is the same in Lightroom, but the tools are different.

Lightroom has three tools for making local adjustments; the Graduated Filter, the Radial Filter and the Adjustment Brush. You have the same options for each one.

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The most obvious use of a local adjustment is to make part of the image lighter or darker (using the Exposure slider). But you can also adjust contrast (with the Contrast slider), color (with the Temp, Tint or Saturation sliders) or emphasize texture (with the Clarity slider). The more you use your imagination the more uses you will figure out for local adjustments.

The Graduated Filter

This tool is named after graduated neutral density filters used by landscape photographers to make the sky darker. The Graduated Filter inside Lightroom does something similar. The key to making the most of the Graduated Filter is to look past its most obvious use in landscape photography, and think about how it can be used elsewhere.

To start, click the Graduated filter icon (marked below), or use the keyboard shortcut M. The Graduated filter panel opens beneath the histogram.

Lightroom tutorial 29

Add a Graduated filter by clicking on the photo and holding the left mouse button down. Hold it and drag the mouse down over the image.

The Graduated filter is marked by three lines, which spread farther apart as you move the mouse. The further apart you pull the lines, the softer the graduation of the effect you’re applying will be. You can move the Graduated Filter by clicking and dragging the grey pin at the center.

This may sound complicated, but a few minutes playing with the Graduated Filter tool is all that’s required to get the hang of it.

I used three Graduated Filters on the following image. This is what I started with:

Lightroom tutorial 24

This is the result:

Lightroom tutorial 25

These screenshots show you the location of each Graduated Filter (shown in red) and the settings used for each one.

Lightroom tutorial 26

Lightroom tutorial 27

Lightroom tutorial 28

The Radial Filter

The Radial Filter was introduced in Lightroom 5. It creates a circle or oval shaped selection. You can apply the affect to the area inside or outside the selection.

Click on the Radial Filter icon (marked below) or use the keyboard shortcut Shift+M. Hold the left mouse button down and drag the mouse across the photo to create the filter.

Lightroom tutorial 31

You can change the size and shape of the Radial Filter by clicking and dragging the four white squares around the edge. Rotate it by moving the cursor to the edge of the filter until it changes from a hand or plus icon to a double curly arrow. Click and drag on the arrow to rotate the Radial filter.

Use the Feather slider to set the softness of the gradient at the edges of the Radial filter. The default setting of 50 seems to work well, but you can change it as needed.

Lightroom applies the adjustments to the area outside the Radial filter by default. Tick the Invert Mask box to apply the adjustments to the area inside it instead.

One use for the Radial filter is to darken the edges of your image to draw the eye towards the subject. Here’s an example, using a photo of a dandelion that I decided would look better if I made the green area darker. This is what I started with:

Lightroom tutorial 32

Original image.

Lightroom tutorial 33

This is the difference with the Radial Filter applied.

This screenshot shows the location of the filter, the area affected by the adjustment (in red), and the settings used.

Lightroom tutorial 34

Further reading:

  • Lightroom’s Secret Weapon: The Radial Filter and How to Use it.
  • Understanding the Radial Filter in Lightroom.

The Adjustment Brush

The Adjustment Brush is for making local adjustments that can’t be easily carried out with either of the Graduated or Radial filters. Click the Adjustment Brush icon (marked below) or use the keyboard shortcut key K. The Adjustment Brush panel opens up underneath the histogram.

Lightroom tutorial 35

You’ll find sliders for setting the size, softness (feather0, and strength of the brush at the bottom. Start by selecting Brush A (if it’s not already selected). Use the [ and ] keys to adjust the brush (you can also use the Size slider).

Use the Feather slider to adjust the softness of the brush (or hold the Shift key down and use the [ and ] keys). The size of the Adjustment Brush is displayed with two circles. The inner circle shows the area fully covered by the brush. The outer circle shows the feathered area. The gap between the two circles changes as you adjust the Feather setting (make it bigger for a more gradual effect).

Lightroom tutorial 36

Here’s an example of the how to use the Adjustment Brush. I wanted to emphasize the texture in the baboon’s face. The Adjustment Brush is the best tool to use for this because I could paint over an area that matched the shape of his face.

This screenshot shows the masked area (in red) which will be affected. I set Clarity to +51 to bring out the texture in the animal’s skin and fur.

Lightroom tutorial 37

Lightroom tutorial 38

This is the starting image.

Lightroom tutorial 39

This is how it looks with the adjustment made.

You can create another Adjustment Brush by clicking on B and changing the settings. You can switch between the A and B brushes whenever you like. If you want another that is different just click New and you can add as many Adjustment Brushes as you need.

If you paint over an area you don’t want to effect, just select Erase then paint over the parts where you want to remove the mask.

Flow controls the opacity of the brush; density sets the maximum strength. For now, keep both at 100 (you can learn more about these controls if you get into advanced retouching techniques) and vary the strength of the effect with the slider settings.

Leave the Auto Mask box unticked for now. It’s bit of a specialized tool that often doesn’t work very well.

Further reading:

  • How to Retouch a Portrait with the Adjustment Brush in Lightroom
  • 5 Tips for Using the Lightroom Adjustment Brush Tool
  • How to Create and Import Custom Adjustment Brush Presets for Lightroom

Combining Local Adjustment Tools

In Lightroom 6 and Lightroom CC you can use the Adjustment Brush to refine the mask created by the Graduated and Radial filters. This is an advanced tool that is very useful for creating precise selections.

Further reading:

  • New Graduated and Radial Filter Features in Lightroom 6
  • How to Save Images Using Export in Lightroom

The Other Lightroom Modules

Lightroom has several other modules, which aren’t possible to cover here. These articles will help you learn more about the Map, Slideshow, Print, Book, and Web modules.

Further reading:

  • How to Create a Simple Blurb Photo Book in Lightroom
  • Two Useful Lightroom Print Module Custom Layouts
  • How to Create a Simple Slideshow in Lightroom
  • An Overview of Lightroom Web – What is it and who is it for?


Lightroom may seem intimidating when you are new to the program, but the reality is that once you understand the basics of importing and processing images it really is surprisingly straightforward to use. The lessons learned from this article lay a foundation on which you can build to truly master Lightroom. This powerful program will become the center of a new and efficient workflow that saves you time and is easy and enjoyable to use.

If you have questions about the content of this article then please let us know in the comments below. I’ll do my best to help.

For more Lightroom learning you can also check out our course Lightroom Mastery here on dPS.

Author bio: Andrew S. Gibson is a long time Digital Photography School contributor and the author of the Mastering Lightroom ebooks.

Note: did you enjoy this guide to Lightroom? – get a free downloadable copy to print and/or refer to later by adding your email address below and we’ll send you a copy.


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7 Ways to Become More Spontaneous with Your Street Photography

16 Apr

As you become more experienced and comfortable doing street photography, you will notice that the way you shoot will begin to change. You will notice more, focus more on what you like, and your work will improve significantly. At this point, it can be important to embrace spontaneity in the way that you shoot.

street photography NYC

So often the first shot of a scene that you take will be the best, for reasons I can’t explain, except that your gut and instinct are something to embrace with this type of photography. The more experienced you become, the more vital they will be.

Here are some tips that have helped me to shoot in a more spontaneous fashion.

1. Choose your camera settings so that you can forget about them

The first step is to figure out your camera settings so that you can forget about them. You don’t want to worry about your camera or changing settings as you’re shooting. When you’re feeling good, it often feels like the camera isn’t there.street photography

If it’s a shady day and the lighting is consistent, then it’s easy to choose your settings and not have to worry about them. But it becomes tough when you are shooting in direct sunlight, where some areas are lit with extreme light and others are in the shadows.

For these situations, what I will do is change my camera to Aperture Priority mode, around f/8, and I will put my ISO up high, to around 1600. I will make sure that when I point my camera at shady areas it will still give me a fast enough shutter speed, like 1/250th of a second, to freeze motion in people. Then, when I point the camera in sunny areas, the shutter speed will be something insane, maybe 1/1000th or more of a second.

Obviously, these settings are not perfect for sunny areas since the ISO is high, but with newer cameras, ISOs of 1600 look beautiful. I prefer to shoot with these settings because it allows me to forget about my settings regardless of what light I walk into. It makes the day much more fun and relaxing, and I can spend more energy looking around.

2. Slow down and shoot quick

street photography NYC

When I work with newer photographers, I often seeing them run from place to place, searching for that elusive spectacular moment, as if the more ground they cover will yield more of those moments. Those moments will occur whether you are moving fast or not. Except when you are moving fast, you’re not focusing on the area that you’re in at the moment. There are interesting photos everywhere, particularly in places that you might have previously disregarded.

The slower you move, the faster you will be able to react when something happens. By increasing your awareness, you will allow yourself to be more spontaneous. You will have more gut feelings to follow. This will allow you to react much quicker when actually capturing the photograph.

3. Spend more time looking with your eyes than the viewfinder

street photography scene

In street photography, your eyes should be the real viewfinder. Focus your energy on looking around. It’s actually hard to do, especially if you are easily distracted or going from place to place. Notice the potential for something to happen with your eyes and get in position, then the viewfinder and camera will follow. But it should almost feel like the camera isn’t there – the hard work is done before you even bring it up to your eye.

4. Figure out how to take good photographs anywhere

street photography - garbage

Stop taking things for granted. The more you think an area will not provide you with a good photograph, the more you should try to get a good one there. Much of the time you’ll get nothing, but you will be surprised how often this works out, and it’s a fantastic way to train your eye.

This will also allow you to create unique and interesting photographs. By shooting in areas where not many others photograph, your good shots will be unexpected. They will stand out.

5. Go with your gut

street photography - crosswalk

We’ve talked a lot about going with your gut already, but what does that really mean? When you’re out there shooting, you’re going to get feelings that moments are about to happen. Most people wait to actually see something happen before they shoot, and often the moment has disappeared by then.

When you feel something good is about to occur, capture the moment in a quick and spontaneous way. Go for it instinctively – use your instincts to your advantage and develop them. While many of these shots will turn out to be nothing, when you hit one at the perfect moment, you will be left with an incredible image that you could not have captured otherwise. Be spontaneous.

6. Don’t worry about perfection

street photography

It is common for newer photographers to worry about cutting people’s feet off, something getting in the way, or the shot being skewed. I have heard so many comments about wishing that a person, group, or object wasn’t in the background or in a certain location. This is, of course, important stuff to consider. But when I hear these comments being made, I detect that the reason they find these things annoying is because they ruin the perfection of the image.

Have you ever shown an image to someone and the first thing they notice is this random background detail that’s barely noticeable? This is part of having too much focus on perfection, and it can drive you crazy. You’re trying to get the most perfect and clean image possible, and that is rarely possible in street photography. You take what is given to you, and an interesting moment is an interesting moment.

Street photography is supposed to feel real, and so many of those imperfections can add to that feeling of it being a spontaneous moment. They can improve an image just as much as they can ruin it. Try to embrace these imperfections when you can as being part of a real and special moment.

7. Don’t be afraid to take weird photographs

street photography - weird

These photographs are for you. You don’t need to take photographs that appeal to everyone, and not everything has to be perfect, grand, and pleasing. Capture photos that are not standard, off in some way, and weird. Focus on what interests you and try to foster that. This is where the voice in your work will begin to shine.

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5 Tips for Photographing Street Portraits

16 Apr

Isn’t it always the way that the most daunting things in life are usually the most rewarding? It takes a certain amount of backbone to shoot street portraits. Whether it’s walking up to a total stranger and asking their permission, or taking a more candid, reportage style approach, many photographers get put off through lack of confidence.

It’s a great shame because there is no more fascinating photographic subject than people.

Street portraits Thailand

If you follow the Humans of New York project, you’ll know that every single person has a story to tell; sometimes uplifting, often heartbreaking, occasionally hilarious. The very best street portraits give us a glimpse at those stories in a single frame.

If you’ve always wanted to give it a go but have yet to summon up the courage, hopefully, the following tips will give you all the motivation you need.

The approach

The first time you approach a potential subject is going to be the hardest. It can sometimes feel like an insurmountable hurdle. But try and think about it from your potential subject’s point of view. He or she is going about their daily routine, possibly doing the same thing they have been for years and finding it all a little boring. Then, out of nowhere, someone has judged them interesting enough to want to take their picture. Chances are, you’ve just made that person’s day. At the very least, you’ve given them an anecdote to tell their friends.

He or she is going about their daily routine, possibly doing the same thing they have been for years and finding it all a little boring. Then, out of nowhere, someone has judged them interesting enough to want to take their picture. Chances are, you’ve just made that person’s day. At the very least, you’ve given them an anecdote to tell their friends.

street portraits photography China

Different methods

So, what’s the best way to approach someone? Different photographer’s stand by different techniques. Some just come straight out and ask if they can take a picture. Others want to try and make a connection first in a more roundabout way, striking up a conversation or asking questions.

One psychological technique favored by many salesmen is to first ask for a small, unrelated favor, such as directions or whether they have the correct time. Studies have shown that once someone has done you one favor, they’re much more likely to say yes to another, bigger one. Don’t ask me why—people are complex!

In any approach, confidence is obviously vital, but enthusiasm is just as important. Enthusiasm is contagious. Be genuinely interested, listen carefully to what they’re saying and be respectful. Also, if you can make them laugh, or at least smile, you’ll find all their barriers will start to lower.

The environment

Street portraits market London

Where you find your subject (i.e. their environment) can sometimes tell you as much about them as what they look like.

Finding an impeccably groomed city trader striding around the financial district is to be expected. But finding him in a crowded flea market hints at a story. If the environment adds to the portrait, include as much of it as you need to enhance the photograph.

If you want your portrait to be all about the person, if they have an interesting face or you want to highlight the way they dress, try and find a background that won’t distract from them. A busy background can confuse the eye and take away from the impact you’re trying to make. If you need to, open up your aperture to throw the background out of focus and bring attention back to where it should be.

Street portraits photography East Timor

The eyes have it

The most important part of your portrait will always be the eyes. The eyes tell us everything; how the person is feeling, what they’re thinking, if they’re happy or anxious, and even if they would rather you stopped taking their picture.

street portraits photography China

Eye contact

Eye contact is incredibly powerful in real life. If you’re talking to someone and they maintain a natural, unwavering eye contact, there’s something primeval that makes you trust them and creates a connection. It’s the same with a portrait. You need that eye contact to make a successful shot.

If you photograph a subject who’s not looking directly back at you, the natural instinct is to follow their gaze to see what they’re looking at. You can sometimes use this to your advantage to draw the viewer’s eye towards an element of the picture you want them to focus on. For example, in this shot of a man carrying baskets full of rabbits, the eye line of the two children always brings us back to the cages.

street portraits candid photography China

On a technical note; as I’m sure you’ve noticed, people tend to blink. Try to take a quick burst of shots of your subject to ensure you capture at least some with their eyes open. Autofocus systems can also tend to hunt around, and taking more shots increases your chances of grabbing a pin sharp image.

The candid street portrait

If you’re looking for a way to ease yourself into this genre, shooting candid street portraits holds some definite advantages. You do away with the whole nail-biting business of asking permission and perhaps suffering a rejection. You capture people as they really are rather than the front they put up when a camera’s pointed at them.

But that’s not to say candid street photography is easy. If anything, it’s more difficult (or, at least, a different kind of difficult) and can be just as nerve-wracking.

street photography portrait candid Jerez

Your timing has to be split second in order to capture the spontaneous moments that occur all around you. You need to know your equipment inside out in order to be able to frame a great composition and adjust settings as needed quickly.

Capturing great candid street pictures takes a great deal of practice and a lot of luck. Whatever your personal feelings are on the ethics of taking someone’s photo without permission, there are people who really don’t appreciate it.

It would be very unlikely you’d get into any serious trouble, but it’s worth using your street smarts and common sense. As a personal rule of thumb, if a certain person looks too mean for me to even consider asking permission to photograph them, there’s no way I’d try and sneak a shot.

The technicalities

Whatever type of street portraits you’re taking, the one thing you don’t usually have on your side is time. With candid shots, you’re constantly reacting to the world as it unfolds in front of you at its usual breakneck pace, and with the more posed approach, you’re still cutting into someone’s, probably busy, day.

You need to be able to work quickly, without fussing over settings or lens changes or tripping over bags. Keep your equipment as simple as possible—a single camera body and a zoom lens that covers all eventualities. I put a lot of trust in my Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L. It might not have the widest aperture in the world, but I’m happy to trade that for the versatility.

I generally shoot in Aperture Priority as well. So I only really need to think about the depth of field I want in a shot and let the camera’s far superior brain work out the rest of the details for me.

street portrait photography China

One area where you do need to stock up is memory cards. Make sure you have plenty of storage space with you, you’ll be taking a lot of images—especially if you’re heading out for a day of sneaky candid shooting. Throw in a couple of freshly charged batteries as well, just in case.


Like every area of photography, shooting street portraits has challenges all of its own. By far the most difficult thing to overcome is finding the courage to approach your subjects.

The good news is, if you’ve always felt too intimidated to attempt this genre of photography, you’re in esteemed company. Legendary names such as Diane Arbus and Elliott Erwitt have said they’ve used their cameras as both a kind of license to take photos and to act as a barrier between them and their subject. There’s still something mysterious about a camera that intrigues people—even more so these days when most photos are taken on phones.

street portrait photography candid Jerez

All it takes is a little daring, a projected air of confidence, and you can capture some unique moments and great street portraits.

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