Posts Tagged ‘Next’

Our Next Two Strobist X-Peditions:Havana, Cuba and Hanoi, Vietnam

20 Feb

We are back from our inaugural Strobist X-Pedition, which was held last month in Havana, Cuba. The attendees are readjusting to life back on the grid, and busy editing photos and trading stories via email.

Havana X-Pedition, January 2018

Photo by Jeremy Langsky

Our week in Havana was filled with photography, new friends, eye-opening experiences and perhaps even a spot of Cuban rum. Now that we are back, I wanted to send a quick note out to Strobist’s readership both to show off some of the student work and give you a heads-up about plans for next year’s X-Peditions.

Photo by Martin Stephens

Photo by Michael Grigoriev

Photo by Bob Plotkin

Upcoming X-Peditions

If you would like to learn more about our planned X-Peditions for next year, you can read all about them here. We are planning to return to Havana in the winter and then we’re off to Hanoi in the fall. (I am headed to the latter on a shooting/scouting trip in three weeks.)

The info page linked just above is also where to sign up to ensure you’ll get advance notice about next year’s trips. As with 2018’s Havana X-Pedition, these will certainly sell out. There are only 12 slots available for each of the two trips. And because of the advance interest sign-up sheet, they may not be publicly announced.

I hope to see you next year, someplace really interesting.


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5 Ways to Invest in Your Photography Over the Next 365 Days

02 Jan

Happy 2018! Can you believe it is already 2018? Seems like just a little while ago we were all celebrating ushering in the Y2K era and now to think that 2020 is just two years away seems unreal. I love the new year. It brings forth hope, aspirations, and positivity.

Metaphorically, it is like the slate has been wiped clean and you have a chance to chase some of your most amazing and lofty goals. So why not use this new year to invest in something that you really love as well – your photography. Here are some simple easy ways to invest in bettering your creativity and your craft over the next 365 days.

Sunset golden hour photo - How to Invest in Your Photography Over the Next 365 Days

#1 – Create smart goals for your photography

Let’s drop the myth that only professional photographers who are in business are allowed to have photography goals. I don’t care if you are just beginning to learn photography or have been doing this for years, one of the best ways to improve at anything is to have realistic goals for what you aspire to and want to achieve.

Goals can be things like learning to photograph in manual mode, selling stock images or booking your first wedding client. No matter what your goals are, I encourage you to take it a step further and create SMART goals. A SMART goal is defined as one that is;

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Results-focused
  • Time-sensitive

So for each of your goals, add additional parameters to convert them to SMART goals by figuring out how to measure them, how to achieve and execute them, and what specific timeframe you want them to be completed by.

Jaipur Lake Palace Photo - 5 Ways to Invest in Your Photography Over the Next 365 Days

A SMART goal to travel and explore my home country has lead to some amazing opportunities. All because I really thought through what I wanted to do, how I wanted to execute it, and what outcomes I wanted from those opportunities and really working towards those goals!

#2 – Plan to do at least 4 personal photography projects

I really believe that personal projects are the cornerstone to helping you improve your photography. Once you take the pressures of working with clients out of the equation, you are free to explore, get creative, and challenge yourself. This creative freedom is bound to reflect positively on your work.

Personal projects can be short exercises directed to help you improve in some area of your photography or extended self-assigned projects that really take you completely out of your comfort zone to try something different. You can choose to space out your personal projects throughout the year – perhaps even commit to doing one per quarter.

No matter what you choose, have SMART goals on what, when, and how you are going to execute your personal projects. You can see more details on the importance of personal projects in this previous article.

Ocean views from the caribbean - 5 Ways to Invest in Your Photography Over the Next 365 Days

One of my ongoing personal projects to learn and master film photography because it provides so much more room for learning and improving my photography in general. I even went so far as only taking a 35mm film camera on vacation to the Caribbean.

#3 – Practice photography every day

One of the easiest ways to practice photography every day is by signing up for a 365 series. Quite simply put, a 365 series is a commitment to creating one photo every day for 365 days. You can use a DSLR, a point and shoot camera, or even a smartphone to work on this series.

You can even take this a step further by joining one of the many online groups available. They are created solely for the purpose of encouraging you to photograph and post a single photo every day for 365 days straight. They even provide photo prompts to help you stay on track so you are constantly thinking of what to photograph every day.

Small waterfall photo - 5 Ways to Invest in Your Photography Over the Next 365 Days

A picture a day is literally just that – a photo a day. Get as creative as you want with this exercise. Use it as a way to get out of the house, meet fellow photographers, or just as some quiet time to reflect on who you are as a photographer and what motivates you.

#4 – Share your work online and offline

Join online groups or even local camera clubs to meet and socialize with other photographers. Many clubs have critique nights where members submit photos and comment on each other’s work. This is a great way to not only have your work be seen by others but also to get unbiased feedback on your work, which can be used for improvement and growth.

Many times we are our own worst critic and downplay our talents and skills because we are afraid or maybe lack the confidence in our photography. And you know what’s the best part? Having a group of like-minded people that you can talk photography about with all day long without them tuning you out within the first five minutes of any conversation (Can you tell this is how my family is when I start to talk photography!?).

Photo of the Taj Hotel in Mumbai at sunrise - 5 Ways to Invest in Your Photography Over the Next 365 Days

I have made some amazing friends via online communities – we have collaborated together, referred work to each other and bounced life and business challenges off one another. But most importantly, I have made some incredible friends who I know have my best interests at heart.

#5 – Attend a photography workshop, conference or take an online course

Like most other professions, the photography industry is continually evolving and changing. New products, techniques, and styles are constantly being introduced. So attending a photography workshop or conference is a great idea.

Plus you never know who you might meet there in terms of future friends, potential clients, or even referral opportunities. There are numerous workshops, seminars, and even free online events and tutorials to keep you busy learning new things.

Keeping abreast of the latest in any business is a good thing. It shows your clients, both present, and future, that you value your business and skill, enough to invest in it.

 Mirror reflection of an alpine lake in Oregon - 5 Ways to Invest in Your Photography Over the Next 365 Days

Workshops, and conferences are another great way to expand your professional circle, make industry friends and learn new skills/techniques. Make sure you do your research prior to committing funds to attend an event/workshop or conference.

What will you do with the next 365 days?

I hope these tips were helpful to you as you plan out 2018. Remember, getting your photography to a level that you are proud of takes time and a lot of hard work. Make this your year to shine with your photography.

The post 5 Ways to Invest in Your Photography Over the Next 365 Days by Karthika Gupta appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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So you got a brand new camera? Here’s what you need next

26 Dec

If you’re the proud owner of your first camera, congratulations! Now the fun starts. We’ve got some ideas to help you get started and get the most out of your new gift.

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Snapdragon 845 will bring 10-bit color, faster burst and more to next year’s smartphones

07 Dec

With smartphones, image processing is as important—if not more important—than the camera hardware components themselves, which is why the chipset is a crucial element in the imaging pipeline. Most Android smartphones come equipped with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chipsets, and the company has just unveiled its latest top-end product, the Snapdragon 845.

We will probably see the Snapdragon 845 in many of 2018’s high-end devices, and that’s a very good thing for the camera system.

As you’d expect from any new chipset, it’s faster than the predecessor Snapdragon 835, comes with more integrated AI processing power and supports higher data speeds. However, the Snapdragon 845 also offers a range of important improvements in the imaging department.

Images can now be captured in 10-bit color with a Rec. 2020 gamut, offering a wider range of tones and hues than the previous 8-bit color. While that’s impressive, the 845’s capability to shoot 60 frames per second at 16MP is even more important when you consider image stacking applications, such as HDR modes or low-light modes that combine several frames to average out noise and improve overall quality.

Another area of improvement is slow-motion video. Next year’s Android flagships will be able to record an impressive 480fps slow motion at 720p in HDR—unfortunately, 1080p resolution will still be limited to 120 fps, lagging behind the current iPhones’ 240 fps capability. Qualcomm is catching up with Apple in terms of video frame rates, though. Like the iPhones 8, 8Plus and X, Snapdragon 845-equipped phones will be able to record 4K footage at 60 fps.

The Xaomi Mi 7 will be the first 2018 model to come with the new chipset, but it’s also expected to be installed on the Samsung Galaxy S9 (which may also come with a variable aperture…). Other brands will likely follow soon after, giving mobile photographers a lot to look forward to in 2018.

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Phase One unveils Capture One 11 with ‘next level layers’ and more

01 Dec

Watch out Adobe. Early this morning, Phase One unveiled the next major update to Capture One. The new version, Capture One 11, promises improvements in every regard: from “new, highly responsive tools,” to “workflow enhancements” to a new “finely tuned processing engine.”

Here’s a quick introduction to what’s new in Capture One 11 straight from Phase One itself:

The major improvements can be broken down into three categories: layers, workflow, and performance.


When Phase One talks about ‘optimized’ performance, the company is not just talking about how quickly Capture One can open and edit your Raw files. Included in these improvements is ‘re-engineered’ color handling, as well as the addition of a LAB Readout option for “customers who wish to measure image output to critical values.”

‘Next Level Layers’

With this update, Phase One is now characterizing Capture One 11 as a ‘layer centric application.’ All of the program’s adjustment tools are now compatible with layers, masking tools have been improved with the ability to refine and feather masks after drawing, and you can now control the opacity of individual layers.


Since Capture One 11 is trying to be “the professionals’ choice in imaging software,” several improvements have also been made on the workflow side.

You can now add annotations and graphics on top of your image as overlays, and export them as separate layers in a PSD file; crops can be added as a ‘Path’ when exporting to a PSD file, so you don’t lose any pixels if you transfer out to Photoshop; and, finally, you can now export watermarks as a separate layer in an exported PSD file as well.

As with all major Adobe competitors—and Capture One is arguably one of the best-known and most widely-used—the message Phase One wants to send loud and clear is, “we care about our customers’ needs.” In fact, you could say Phase One stopped just short of calling Adobe out by name in its announcement:

In keeping with Phase One’s commitment to its customers’ choice, Capture One 11 is available for purchase by either perpetual license or by subscription – whichever best suits the customers’ needs.

For photographers eager to escape Adobe’s subscription-only model, Capture One 11 represents a very tempting choice.

Capture One 11 is available now for both Mac and Windows at $ 300 for a brand-new perpetual license or $ 20/month on subscription (or $ 180 if you pay for a year in advance). If you already own Capture One Pro 9 or 10, you can get a perpetual license for just $ 120, and if you purchased Capture One Pro 10 on October 31st, 2017 or later, you can actually upgrade to Capture One 11 for free by using your same license key.

To learn more or download a fully-functional 30-day free trial, head over to the Phase One website.

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Expect twice the resolution and speed from the next Fuji GFX and Hasselblad X1D

17 Nov

It’s hard to say much about the next generation mirrorless medium format cameras at this point—even the rumor mill has been quiet—but if you look at Sony’s recently updated sensor roadmap, you can confidently assert one thing: the next-gen Fujifilm GFX and Hasselblad X1D models will contain a 100MP backside illuminated sensor with twice the readout speed of the current models.

This is a BIG deal.

It seems like just yesterday (it wasn’t) Sony released the a7R II, the first camera with a full-frame BSI sensor. But they’re already planning to scale that tech up to medium format in 2018. In fact, their 2018 sensor lineup includes two new MF sensors: a 100MP BSI 44×33 sensor and a 150MP BSI 55x41mm sensor.

These sensors first appeared on the roadmap back in April, but they only received their official announcement on Sony’s Semiconductor website on November 9th. That’s when Sony revealed the readout speeds of the new sensors, which is what really caught our eye.

The IMX161 is the chip (with some modifications…) that you find inside the current stock of 44x33mm medium format cameras—the X1D-50c, the GFX 50S, and the Pentax 645Z. That sensor’s max readout is 3.3 fps, and it offers 50MP of resolution. The upcoming IMX461 that you’ll very likely find in the next-generation models of these same cameras not only doubles the resolution to 100MP, it also nearly doubles the max readout speed to 6fps at 14-bit.

For the next Pentax model, that might not make a huge difference, since it’s a DSLR. But for the next Hasselblad X1D and Fujifilm GFX models, which are mirrorless and require on-sensor AF, that will make a huge difference in performance. Plus, the new sensor can record video at both 4K/30fps and 8K/18fps at 12-bit, which means it should comfortably capture the 8-bit and 10-bit flavors we’re more accustomed to seeing.

For fans of ‘real’ medium format digital (55x41mm sensor), keep an eye out for the IMX411 to show up in a PhaseOne camera of the future. That sensor is also backside illuminated, ups the resolution to 150MP, and can shoot 12-bit 4K/30fps and 8K/16fps.

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How to Plan and Take Killer Sunset Photos on Your Next Vacation

31 Oct

Who doesn’t love a good sunset photo? There’s something about that colorful, ethereal time of day that strikes a cord with just about every person. But as appealing and ordinary as sunsets are, the ability to capture that magical time of day as a photo can be surprisingly difficult.

Sunset Photos

Photo by Martin Genev

Yes, gear and camera settings are important. However, the ability to be in the right place at the right time of day is arguably the most important factor to photographing a sunset. Below, I’ll highlight several tips for planning

Yes, gear and camera settings are important. However, the ability to be in the right place at the right time of day is arguably the most important factor to photographing a sunset. Below, I’ll highlight several tips for planning

Find the best sunset location

How to Plan and Take Killer Sunset Photos on Your Next Vacation

If you’re visiting a new town and searching for an ideal sunset spot, your best bet is to do some online searches. Do a Google image search for “[location] sunset” and see what pops up. Better yet, visit stock image sites and enter similar search queries.

In most cases, you’ll see sunset photos taken from one or two popular locations. It might take some digging to find out exactly where those spots are, but once you have the answer, you’ll know where to shoot.

What time is the sunset?

A simple Google search will tell you exactly when sunset happens in the location of your choice. Keep in mind, however, that the hour or so before sunset is the ideal time of day for most photographers, so you’ll want to show up at your chosen sunset location closer to Golden Hour.

To really hone in the ideal times of day to shoot in a new location, the PhotoPills app is a handy tool. It’s packed full of information that can help you plan and execute outdoor photo shoots.

PhotoPills Sunset Planner - How to Plan and Take Killer Sunset Photos on Your Next Vacation

Image courtesy of PhotoPills

Camera settings for sunset photos

Your ideal camera settings for shooting a sunset depend on a variety of factors, but generally speaking, these are some rules to go by.

Shoot in RAW

When it comes to shooting the sunset, one of the biggest challenges is making sure your camera captures the same warmth and vibrancy that your eyes are seeing. You can typically make White Balance and Picture Style tweaks in camera (more on those below). But just in case, it’s also a good idea to shoot in RAW to give you greater creative control when you post-process the image.

Set White Balance

Leaving your camera White Balance set to Auto might suffice. However, if the color cast of your image is looking too cool or slightly off, try setting your White Balance to Daylight or Cloudy to warm up your shot.

Shoot in Aperture Priority

What shooting mode you should use is certainly debatable, but Aperture Priority will give you greater control over the depth of field. Shooting with a small aperture (f-step of f/16 or higher) will give you a large depth of field. This is ideal if you want more of your scene in focus.

How to Plan and Take Killer Sunset Photos on Your Next Vacation

Keep ISO Low

To avoid excessive noise in your image, maintain the lowest possible ISO for the amount of light you have available. If it happens to be a cloudy sunset or you’re shooting a scene with lots of shadows, you might have to increase your ISO unless you use a tripod.

Composition tips for unique sunset photos

After you’ve got your ideal sunset spot secured, it’s time to start thinking about what kind of sunset image you want to capture.

Keep this in mind: the way that most people photograph a sunset is to whip out their camera at hand, point it directly at the sunset and start snapping away. There’s nothing wrong with capturing the sunset this way, but it doesn’t always make for unique images.

If you’re trying to think outside of the box and get an interesting sunset photo, try some of these tips.

Zoom in

How to Plan and Take Killer Sunset Photos on Your Next Vacation

For most spontaneous sunset photographers, the camera at hand is their point and shoot or cell phone. These cameras are usually equipped with wide-angle lenses. Set yourself apart from the crowd by picking an interesting feature and zooming in.

Shoot away from the sun

Instead of shooting directly into the sun, consider pointing your lens in the opposite direction. The bright and often vibrant colors generated by the sunset can make the scene in the opposite direction equally alluring, without having to compensate for shooting directly into bright light.

Wait for Blue Hour

Every photographer has heard about Golden Hour, that magical time of day just before sunset. Lesser known is Blue Hour, that brief time of day that begins roughly 10 minutes after the sun has set (and before it has risen at dawn).

Blue Hour Photography - How to Plan and Take Killer Sunset Photos on Your Next Vacation

This image was taken just after sunset during Blue Hour.

The sky isn’t as obviously colorful during Blue Hour as it is during sunset or Golden Hour. However, Blue Hour still offers a window of time when it can be best to shoot cityscapes or landscapes with deep blue tones in the sky. You will almost certainly need a tripod to shoot during Blue Hour as it is significantly darker without the sun. But the lesson here is that many more photo opportunities exist even after sunset.

Over to You

Do you have any tips for shooting sunset photos? Share your photos and tips below!

The post How to Plan and Take Killer Sunset Photos on Your Next Vacation by Suzi Pratt appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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From Mundane to Magical: Tips on Taking Your Photos to the Next Level

05 Oct

You may be at a point with your photography where you are comfortable operating your camera and are capable of taking a good picture. You can work with exposure, you understand composition, and can even enhance your photos in post-processing. You should be pleased with this, as this puts you ahead of the vast majority of other photographers. But at the same time, perhaps you are not seeing the elevation in your results that you expect. You are beginning to wonder why you aren’t getting more stunning pictures. Are you doing something wrong? Is there some part of this you’re not getting?

From Mundane to Magical: Tips on Taking Your Photos to the Next Level

We all go through a phase where we feel like we know what we’re doing but are frustrated by a lack of great results. In fact, for some of us, it always feels like this. You’ll never go through a time where you’re hitting magical shot after magical shot. It just doesn’t work like that. You are after something extraordinary, and by definition that is rare.

How do you maximize your chances of finding these great shots? The short version is, “through a lot of effort,” and – while true – that isn’t very helpful. So here are some areas where I focus my efforts and perhaps they will help you too.

1. It Starts with Location

We all seem to want to take our cameras down to the local park or take a stroll around a nearby lake and then come home with stunning pictures. For the most part, it just doesn’t work like that. You typically need a great location in order to end up with a great picture.

You have likely heard that “you can take a great picture anywhere” – and that is true. But just because it is possible doesn’t mean it is probable. Magical lighting or sheer genius may allow some to get great shots in ordinary places, but it is extremely unlikely. To put the odds in your favor, you need to start with an extraordinary location.

How to Scout Your Photography Locations

From Mundane to Magical: Tips on Taking Your Photos to the Next Level

Everyone from tourists to photographers, to the producers of the Game of Thrones use this location as the background for their shots. Dark Hedges, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.

How do you find such a location? There are lots of ways. If you are going to a well-traveled place such as a large city or a national park, some enterprising photographer has likely done the work for you. They will have written a book on how to photograph that particular place. These guides are invaluable and often all you will ever need. Beyond that, there are a plethora of online resources. I personally start with the 500px World Map and look at where great shots have been taken. I also like to check out the work of photographers who specialize in whatever I am going.

These resources will help you pick out good places to go. But they will also help you pinpoint specific spots to head to once you are in the area. None of this is to say you should slavishly copy any of these people, but rather that you should let their work inspire you and give you an idea of great locations that might serve as a backdrop for your upcoming stunning picture.

2. Getting that Magical Lighting

A great location alone will not result in a stunning picture. I’ve been to countless areas of great natural beauty or stunning urban environments only to walk away empty-handed. To create the stunning picture you are after, you are also going to need great lighting.

Some of you will create your own lighting through the use of flash. In that case, you’ll be able to create your own stunning lighting – and the whole thing is up to you. But that doesn’t work for me since I am always out and about photographing scenes, which aren’t as conducive to using flash.

Assuming you are like me and are relying on natural lighting, you just cannot guarantee great lighting. We all have to deal with bad weather and occasionally things don’t work out. That said, you can put the odds more in your favor.

Photograph at Sunrise and Sunset

From Mundane to Magical: Tips on Taking Your Photos to the Next Level

When you are photographing the outdoors, the sky is often a big part of the picture. A great sunrise or sunset, therefore, goes a long way toward helping you create a great picture.

The first thing to do is make sure you are photographing around sunrise or sunset. I cannot tell you the number of times people have asked me how to elevate their photography and when I look at their pictures I find that they were all taken in the middle of the day. Usually, that’s just not going to work.

Photographing at sunrise or sunset has a myriad of advantages. The sky will often be very colorful. You will also not have to deal with the extreme contrast created by bright light and dark shadows. The diffuse rays of the sun are more pleasing as well. Think about it this way: there is a reason people sit outside and watch the sun come up or go down. Take advantage of that.

Don’t Overlook Bad Weather

Keep in mind that bad weather can often lead to the best shot. It is very much a risk/reward situation. Most of the time, cloudy hazy conditions result in failure. Sometimes, however, the sun might peek through or do something interesting such that you get magical rays in your photo. Typically, nice weather will result in nice pictures. Dramatic weather can result in dramatic pictures, and that is what you are going for.

From Mundane to Magical: Tips on Taking Your Photos to the Next Level

Even an average marina can become a great shot when there is a storm approaching.

3. Creating the Composition

A great scene does not necessarily make a great photo. You’re probably familiar with rules of composition such as the rule of thirds. That is great, but this alone won’t result in the stunning photos you are after. To get there, you need something more. Here are some ideas to think about.

Start with a Center of Interest

The first thing you need is a subject or center of interest. Again, simply capturing a scene in front of you might create a nice picture, but not the shot that will cause people to say “wow” that you are after. You need something to hold the picture together. I cannot tell you exactly what that is since there are so many different things to use in this world, just be on the lookout for that.

Lead the Viewer’s Eye

Another thing that will help you is if you think about leading the viewer’s eye. You might immediately leap to the concept of leading lines, but it goes further than that. Think about where you want the viewer’s eye to start in your picture and then the route you want them to travel around it. Many times this is done in the post-processing phase. Remember that the eye is attracted to areas of brightness and sharpness. You might darken areas where you don’t want the viewer to concentrate while sharpening areas where you do want their eyes to go.

From Mundane to Magical: Tips on Taking Your Photos to the Next Level

A nice view made more interesting by the path leading the viewer’s eye into the picture.

Concentrate on the Foreground

While you’re setting up your picture, be sure to think hard about the foreground. Think of your pictures as consisting of a background, subject, and foreground. The background is already largely set by your choice of location and lighting. The subject might be the thing that caused you to raise your camera to your eye in the first place (or in any event, you will already have thought about it). That leaves the foreground as the final variable. Don’t give it short shrift. Very often, getting low to the ground gives a sense that the viewer can walk into the picture and really enhances the image.

Add Mood and Emotion

Finally, be sure to think about the mood of your picture. A great picture stirs some emotion in your viewer. Therefore you’ll need to think about the emotion or mood as you are creating it. In the field, you might underexpose a bit to add some drama to your shot. Later, when you are on your computer, you will have time to consider this further and tweak your photo with an eye towards setting this mood.

4. Enhancing the Shot with Post Processing

There are photographers who shun the use of post-processing and devote all their time and energy to getting the shot right in the field. I’m not one of them. I have never taken a shot that I didn’t think could be improved with the use of post-processing.

From Mundane to Magical: Tips on Taking Your Photos to the Next Level

Of course, there are a million things you can do to enhance your photos in post-processing. It is not my intent to walk through them all here. Rather, I just want to stress the importance of taking your time and thinking about what you want to accomplish with your picture when you sit down with it at your computer. When you are sitting down in front of your computer, you have time to think it through and work on it. In the field, you may have been rushed – dealing with a moving subject or fleeting light. Now you have as much time as you want.

Think about what your picture is about. If a part of your image does not support that idea, crop it out. Use some selective sharpening and brightening/darkening to lead the viewer’s eye. Set the mood of your picture using brightness values.

The point is not to take a mundane picture and try to post-process it into some masterpiece. Rather, selectively take a few shots and enhance them with an eye towards both (a) what you were trying to accomplish and (b) what you want the viewer to think/feel when they are looking at your photo.

From Mundane to Magical: Tips on Taking Your Photos to the Next Level

5.  Have Realistic Expectations

Finally, it is important to have realistic expectations. You aren’t going to go out and come home with a stunning picture every time. I fail all the time, and to avoid getting frustrated about it, I think about the words of Ansel Adams. He once said that he got about one great picture a month. Only one a month! If this master of photography was forced to settle for that kind of hit rate, then who am I to think I can do better? I ought to be happy with one shot a year.

From Mundane to Magical: Tips on Taking Your Photos to the Next Level

Creating the Magic

This all takes time and effort. In a lot of ways, it is like waiting for the stars to come together. There is no magic formula for going out and getting a stunning picture every time. If there were, we would all do it. Again, the whole idea is that you are looking for the extraordinary – and that doesn’t happen all the time.

Of course, these factors all work together somewhat. You can have magical lighting at a mundane location and end up with a stunning picture. Or the right post-processing can take a B+ picture and turn it into a winner.  The point is not to get you to wait around for perfect conditions. Rather just to keep moving forward with the mindset that it isn’t always going to work, but when it does it is magic.

These are the things I look for in trying to create a great photo. But that’s not to say there aren’t other – even better – ways to go about it. What do you look for in trying to elevate your photos from the mundane into something magical? Please let us know in the comments below.

The post From Mundane to Magical: Tips on Taking Your Photos to the Next Level by Jim Hamel appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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How to be Better Prepared for Your Next Photo Shoot

21 Sep

Greater success with your event, street, travel or any other genre of photography can depend a lot on how prepared you are before you leave the house and how observant you are at the location you are making pictures. Here are some tips to help you be better prepared for your next photo shoot.

senior Thai woman taking part in a street parade holding a painted parasol - How to be Better Prepared for Your Next Photo Shoot

A participant in the annual Chiang Mai Flower Parade enjoys having her photo taken.

I’ve based this article on street and event photography so I can use my photos to illustrate specific situations.


Planning your photography session in advance can make it a much more rewarding experience. You don’t necessarily need to start making spreadsheets and contingency preparations if you’re going out to photograph a local farmers market or craft fair. But a little groundwork can make times you are out with your camera significantly more enjoyable.

Having some prior knowledge of your subject, the location, and the type of activity that happens there (if any) will increase the opportunities you have to capture better photos. Even the way you dress and the footwear you choose can potentially have an influence on your photos. Certainly, the amount and type of camera equipment you choose to carry will have an effect on the outcome of your photography excursion.

Women in traditional Thai costume prior to the start of the Flower Parade in Chiang Mai, Thailand - How to be Better Prepared for Your Next Photo Shoot

Girls talking before a parade starts.

For example

Performers rest prior to the start of a Chinese New Year parade in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Performers rest prior to the start of a Chinese New Year parade.

Before heading out to photograph the Chinese New Year Parade I checked so I knew the starting time, location, and the route it would take. I arrived at least an hour early for some behind the scenes moments when the morning light was rich.

Some prior knowledge of the type of subjects and activity I would encounter enabled me to anticipate the flow of action. So I was able to capture the dragon as it moved through the streets and received cash gifts from locals in its mouth.

A woman places money in the mouth of a Chinese New Year dragon during a street parade in Chiang Mai, Thailand. - How to be Better Prepared for Your Next Photo Shoot

A woman places money in the mouth of a Chinese New Year dragon during a street parade in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Prepare yourself too

I was wearing a good pair of sports shoes as I knew I would need to run at times to keep ahead of the parade. With many parades and festivals in south east Asia, there are often few restrictions for photographers assertive and considerate enough to just go with the flow of things.

I traveled light, without an abundance of camera gear. There’s always a choice between carrying more and having it weigh you down and making your movements more difficult and not having the right lens with you. I typically prefer to take two lenses so I have one on the camera and the other in a small belt bag. This way I am free to move and can often get closer to the action than if I was weighted down with a shoulder bag or backpack full of gear.

Chinese New Year parade and photographers - How to be Better Prepared for Your Next Photo Shoot

Photographing the dragon during a Chinese New Year parade.

Researching is easy these days. So planning and being prepared before you head out with your camera takes very little effort but can make a huge difference to the photos you’ll make and how much you enjoy your experience.


Once you’re on location it pays to take a little time to observe and anticipate how you can obtain the best photos.

  • Walking around, watching people, and considering what you think will be the best spots to take photos from is an important first step. Think about lighting and composition.
  • How many places will you be able to clearly see your subject?
  • What will the background be like?
  • Will the lighting work for the style of photo you want to make?
  • Are there any vantage points that allow you to get above your subject?
  • Is there some place safe to get down and lie on the ground for a low perspective?
Chinese New Year parade with a ceremonial dragon - How to be Better Prepared for Your Next Photo Shoot

Try to position yourself where there will be a good background.

Find a good vantage point

Once you’ve found a good location it can often pay to stay there for some time. Consider the flow of the action and if you can get a good variety of photos from your position, don’t rush off. This is particularly relevant when you have a pleasing combination of good lighting and a background you can incorporate into strong compositions.

If you are constantly changing locations you may find that you have to adjust your exposure frequently and your background is different which will require more attention to your framing.

Sometimes moving around is necessary to follow your subject. It’s good to be aware of your surroundings and considerate of who else is around you, especially if you are on the move a lot. At events with a lot of spectators, you don’t want to block their view but you also want to make sure you and your equipment are safe.

How to be Better Prepared for Your Next Photo Shoot

Watching dancers practice prior to the start of a parade I observed the pattern of their movement and positioned myself so the background and light were best, and then made a series of photos. The image on the left illustrates reasonably well what’s happening. But because I had paid attention to the dance I knew the girl would arch her back and I would be able to photograph her face and a more interesting pose.

Get out of the flow of traffic

Putting yourself in position a little away from the traffic flow, when there is one, will allow you to work more freely also. I made this series of photos of cheese vendors at Istanbul’s spice market by standing in between two of the stalls where there were no other people. I got the nod from the men selling the cheese nearby that I was okay to be there and was even offered a slice of very tasty cheese to try.

Vendor selling cheese at the Istanbul spice market - How to be Better Prepared for Your Next Photo Shoot

It’s good to get out of the traffic flow so you can take photos without being bumped or disrupting business.

As I savored the flavor of the cheese I observed the action of the vendors offering cheese to passers by and got a feel for the rhythm of activity.

close up of cheese being sold in a Turkish street market - How to be Better Prepared for Your Next Photo Shoot

Once you find a good location make a series of photos.

Being out of the flow of foot traffic (which was very busy) allowed me to take my time without being bumped and jostled. I made a series of photos that illustrate this part of the market better than I could have with a single image taken as I was just passing by. This series of photos were made with my 50mm prime lens.

Istanbul spice market cheese - How to be Better Prepared for Your Next Photo Shoot

A few tips for taking the photos

  • Concentrate. Don’t hesitate or be distracted from your task. Stay focused and single-minded about getting the photos that you have come to make.
  • Don’t worry about making mistake. These will help you learn. Keep all your photos on your card so you can compare them once you have them loaded to your computer.
  • Choose your moments carefully. Machine gunning your subject will result in an overwhelming number of bad photos which can be discouraging.
  • Use a narrow aperture and a fast enough shutter speed to avoid blur. You might need to raise your ISO even if you are working in bright conditions.
  • Use manual focus and zone focus to ensure greater success.

Kebab Seller, Istanbul, Turkey - How to be Better Prepared for Your Next Photo Shoot


With a little research and planning, you’ll be better equipped mentally to approach your chosen subject with confidence. Observing your surroundings and the flow of activity once you’re on location will help you find the optimal spots in which to position yourself to obtain the best photos. Then, employ some solid photographic technique to ensure you make some great photographs.

The post How to be Better Prepared for Your Next Photo Shoot by Kevin Landwer-Johan appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Humans of New York is turning into a TV series on Facebook, debuts next week

25 Aug

Brandon Stanton, the photographer behind the wildly successful website-turned Facebook page-turned Best Selling Book “Humans of New York” surprised everyone today with a bombshell announcement. For the past 4 years, he’s been quietly filming over 1,200 personal interviews with his portrait subjects, and he’s turning those interviews into a HONY TV series starting next week.

The series was created in conjunction with cinematographer Michael Crommett, and the official announcement and trailer went live just 20 minutes ago on the Humans of New York Facebook Page.

“Early on I realized that video would add a deeper layer to Humans of New York. At the heart of all these posts are the conversations themselves,” writes Stanton. “I’m often deeply moved by the people I meet. Or they make me laugh. Or they make me think. And I always do my best to recreate the experience through photos and words. But I always knew that video would provide the closest thing to ‘actually being there.’”

Inspired by this realization, he began filming interviews… many many interviews. But instead of posting them one day at a time as he has been doing with his photos, he held onto them in the hopes of creating something special down the line. Down the line has finally arrived.

“My goal was not to make a television show based on Humans of New York. I wanted the television show to *be* Humans of New York,” explains Stanton. “I think I came pretty close. And I think/hope you will love it.”

Watch the trailer for Humans of New York (The Series) at the top of this article, and then head over to the HONY Facebook Page for more info. The Series premiers next week on Facebook Watch.

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