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5 Tips for Doing Photography in National Parks

22 Feb

I am a national parks buff – I mean I am really crazy about traveling to national parks all over the world. As a family, we have been known to pack our bags at the drop of a hat, load up the car and head out for a visit to our fabulous national parks. National parks provide some of the best landscapes and vistas you can find.

Because much of the land and natural resources are protected, you really get to see nature at its very best. There is so much to see, do, explore, and of course, photograph. Photography in national parks offers incredible opportunities to create some amazing photos and memories!

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Additionally, there are a huge number of photographers who make a living photographing landscapes, animals, and vistas in these national parks – talk about it being a dream job.

But photography in the national parks is not an easy slam-dunk. There is a lot of preparing to do before and during a photography trip to a national park. Here are a few things to keep in mind when planning a trip to photograph your favorite national park.

#1 Preparation for a national park photography trip

Let’s just start from the very basics on how to prepare for a trip to photograph national parks. First and foremost, the National Park Service in the United States has a certain set of rules and guidelines for photography in the national parks. Before you plan a trip specifically for photography, make sure you have familiarized yourself with the latest rules and regulations.

This article in Backpacker Magazine is quite informative, but if you are confused on what is allowed and not allowed, feel free to call the park services directly. The rangers in almost all the parks we have visited have been very well informed and are very helpful with rules around photography. In a nutshell:

  • Drones essentially are banned from National Parks and if caught, you can be fined.
  • Permits are not needed if you are using basic tools (tripod, camera, and a lens) to photograph vistas that are accessible to the public.
  • Permits are needed for commercial filming (still and video) and sets that involve props and/or models.
  • You will likely need a permit to enter an area not accessible to the public.
  • Backcountry rules may differ from front country rules, so definitely call the park to confirm.

Keep in mind that these rules are applicable for parks here in the US. If you are traveling outside the US, check with the local park authorities and/or check in other travel forums. Being prepared is an added bonus that will really pay off in the long run. The last thing you want is to get to your location only to find out that you don’t have the right paperwork and/or permit.

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Parks in India don’t have much of a hiking concept – most people prefer to go on safari to see the wildlife.

For example, parks and historic monuments in India that require an entrance fee have specific fees for Indians versus foreign tourists and an additional fee per camera (still and video). Some places don’t even allow camera bags and tripods – you have to check your camera bag pack into a locker prior to entry to the park.

#2 Rules and Regulations – Dos and Don’ts

Along the lines of rules and regulations, there are some basic dos and don’ts when it comes to visiting and photographing inside national parks. Most parks are very good about letting you know what is allowed and what is not allowed. Signs, posters, and even handouts are available in plain sight. Playing ignorance is not an option and isn’t going to let you off the hook.

Stay away from wildlife and help them remain wild

My friend works for the Yellowstone National park and every spring she puts up this message on her Facebook page, “Welcome to the season of the crazies. May this season be shorter than the last!”

While it might be amusing and make you smile, this is quite serious to the men and women who work at Yellowstone. People (a.k.a visitors and some photographers) seem to want to go to any lengths to get a selfie or award-winning photograph with bison, bears, and the hot thermal features that Yellowstone is so famous for.

People have lost their lives trying to get the perfect shot! Nothing is worth losing your life over and endangering the lives of innocent animals whose habitats we are encroaching upon. (Note: if an animal attacks you, it may get put down, so by not following the rules you’re endangering their lives as well as your own.)

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It is amazing how many people think that just because bison are herbivorous it is safe to get close to them! The people in the car did something right by just stopping the car to let the bison go and taking photos from inside the vehicle!

Never feed wildlife just for the sake of a photo

I have seen this happen time and time again. One time, my daughter was so angry to see a group of people who were feeding a bunch of squirrels lettuce and nuts, that she went up and chastised them and reported them to a ranger! Any activity that alters the natural behavior of animals is unacceptable no matter what the reason.

Never jump the fence and get off the trail

Getting off trail affects the land, the soil, and the environment. Trail markings are there to keep visitors safe and out of harm’s way. Every season rangers and outdoor crew hike the trails to ensure they are safe and can handle visitor foot traffic.

Yet people seem to ignore the signs to stay away so that they can get the epic shot – standing on the edge of a rock, diving into a pond at the base of a waterfall, or climbing the face of a mountain and take a selfie.

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This is pretty much the scene at most of the waterfall/bridges in Yosemite National Park – but what you don’t see here is that there is an even bigger crowd on the other side of the bridge climbing on slippery rocks with the most illogical footwear!

#3 Playing fair and playing well with others

I really love reiterating this one time and time again. Over Christmas break, we traveled as a family to Zion National Park. If you have been to Zion you know that capturing the sunset against the Watchmen tower formations are iconic and almost every photographer (amateur or professional) is looking to capture that epic sunset.

Crowds start to gather almost an hour or more before sunset and getting a prime spot can get competitive and sometimes ruthless! There is also a path that leads down from the bridge to the water’s edge for tourists and anyone looking to hike along the river. One evening we were waiting for the sun to set, cameras ready to fire, when a few families decided to walk down to the river essentially getting into the frame of each and every photographer waiting on the bridge above.

Suddenly someone in the group decided to shout at the visitors – essentially asking them to leave the area. I was so mortified and embarrassed about being on that bridge that day with all those people. The National Parks and all its beauty is for everyone to enjoy – being a photographer does not take precedence over being a visitor taking in all of Mother Nature’s beauty. Thankfully a few others felt the same way and spoke up to let the photographer know we didn’t agree with his sentiments.

Long story short, be respectful and aware of your surroundings. These special areas are for all to enjoy – you don’t have special privileges just because you have a camera (however big or small). Most people are well aware of photographers and if they see you all set up, will try and avoid getting into your shot or quickly move away. If this doesn’t happen, just move or patiently wait it out. I never ask people to move just because they are in my shot, especially in national parks.

Article Photographing National Parks -10

A typical scene in Yosemite waiting to photograph Half Dome right at sunset.

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Those people right by the water – they have the right idea – getting out and enjoying their National Parks. It is we photographers that sometimes don’t quite know how to have fun.

#4 Making the most out of the trip

Before heading out, do some research on what the areas are famous for. Is it the epic vistas? Is it the magical sunset and sunrise glows? Or maybe it’s the wildlife? What are some of the famous monuments and landscapes to photograph and what are some of the lesser known areas?

Just because an area is not on the “must photograph list” does not mean it is not spectacular in its own right. Once you know what all YOU want to photograph, plan your time wisely. Look for road closures and construction notices. If possible stay in the park. This eliminates the need to travel into and out of the park daily – some of the popular parks have major clogs at the entrances especially during popular times. This can cause a lot of traffic delays and you might just miss that epic sunset (and I speak from experience!).

#5 Getting the shot

Now that you have planned your trip, figured out what and where you want to photograph, you understand the rules and know what to do and what not to do, here are some ways you can actually get those epic photographs.

Get out before sunrise and stay out after sunset

Get out when it is still dark outside and experience a different side of the park. Chances are the only other people out at this time of the day are photographers and people who really want to enjoy some quiet and solitude. This is a time when the park is quiet and animals tend to be out and about.

Morning mist, if present, adds so much interest and drama to a photo. In addition, the wind is usually calm at this time of day, making for easy reflection shots. The same holds true for sunset shots. The average person will spend a few minutes admiring the sunset and get back inside. Stay out past sunset and you have some incredible lighting all to yourself!

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Yellowstone in the winter after the sun sets is the place to really enjoy all the wildlife. Coyotes enjoy a bison kill.

Find your primary subject and then try something new

When you find an interesting subject, try to look at it from different angles. This not only will change your perspective, but also allow you to see how the light affects and changes the image. Try it with the sun on the side, at the back, and in front by simply moving your feet.

Photographing National Parks -8

I am not an equestrian photographer by any means, but when we came across the wild horses in Roosevelt National Park, I just had a mental picture of photographing them galloping across the road. Sure enough, while we pulled over to admire them, a few folks just drove on by and the horses got spooked and took off! So I got the shot I wanted!

Enjoy your surroundings beyond your viewfinder

I am very very particular about this! There have been numerous occasions where I have not looked past the viewfinder and come home feeling frustrated and irritated. Travel and the outdoors mean the world to me, photography is just icing on the cake. If I don’t get to enjoy my cake, just filling up on the icing, it is a moot point, don’t you agree?

So during the day when the light is not that great, I try to put the camera in my backpack and enjoy time with my family hiking the park. Plus this gives me a chance to scout locations to visit later in the trip, specifically for photography.

Hike into the backcountry – away from the crowds

I find that most people in the parks stay in or near their cars when taking pictures. To get a different picture (literally) find a trail and head out. You may find that you can leave the crowds behind, have a better experience, and make better pictures.

Be sure to plan ahead by checking out the park’s map for safety tips and any route closures. And of course, follow all safety rules of hiking in the trails and in the backcountry.

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As a family, we really love to camp and backcountry really gives us the opportunity to get away from it all and enjoy the outdoors together. Gear is obviously not a priority here – so this was shot using a small 35mm film camera – a perfect companion for a 5-day camping trip.

Conclusion

I hope these tips were helpful. One of the most important events in history was the establishment of the world’s first national park on March 1st, 1872. Since then, thousands of national parks, national monuments, and preservation areas have been set aside for the enjoyment and pleasure of the common person.

So get out there and enjoy nature while creating some amazing photos and share your images of national parks near you in the comments section below.

The post 5 Tips for Doing Photography in National Parks by Karthika Gupta appeared first on Digital Photography School.


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How to Understand the Science of Photography and Technical Terms for Mastering Image Tonality

22 Feb

What is it that makes one picture appear dull and another more striking? What is it that makes some tones appear detailed and others smooth and transient? The answer to both of these questions involves the issues of color hue, color purity, and tone distribution.

Prague A - How to Understand the Science of Photography and Technical Terms for Mastering Image Tonality

This street scene in Prague is the original underexposed camera image.

Prague B - How to Understand the Science of Photography and Technical Terms for Mastering Image Tonality

The same image after tonal and color adjustments have been applied.

The science of color and tone

All color detail is determined by these three elements. In the Photoshop/Lightroom world, you’ll recognize these terms as HSL or Hue, Saturation, and Luminance. The world of photography is both an art and a science. The science part is filled with graphs, measurements, and strange words that most people don’t encounter every day.

These terms come from the scientific vocabulary of engineers, chemists, and mathematicians in the photographic trade. When digital cameras were introduced to the general public years ago, suddenly everybody could push around the colors and tonal range in their own pictures. While Adobe Photoshop provided a serious workshop, it showed up with a boatload of technical color science terms.

Unfortunately, if you don’t fully understand the terms, you may not be taking full advantage of the controls they provide. In this article, I’ll do my best to bring these terms down to Earth and make them understandable. We’ll get past the technical jargon and get into the practical application of these terms.

Hue, Saturation, and Lightness

Hue, Saturation, Lightness (luminance) are the irreducible minimum building blocks involved in good color editing and reproduction. While there are many more issues to be addressed in the processing of an image, these three are the make-or-break elements that must be understood and adjusted if you want your color images to catch a viewer’s eye.

Incidentally, when editing your images, these elements should be addressed in that very order; value (hue), intensity (saturation), and tonality (luminance). While hue and saturation concern color, luminance refers to the tonal structure of an image; pretty much an issue of dark versus light.

The Saturation slider affects the intensity of the color in an image. This is a powerful tool; exercise restraint.

Genoa A - How to Understand the Science of Photography and Technical Terms for Mastering Image Tonality

The Saturation effect on a Genoa Italy cathedral – normal saturation levels.

How to Understand the Science of Photography and Technical Terms for Mastering Image Tonality

Genoa B - How to Understand the Science of Photography and Technical Terms for Mastering Image Tonality

None.

HSL Dialog Sat Low - How to Understand the Science of Photography and Technical Terms for Mastering Image Tonality

Genoa C - How to Understand the Science of Photography and Technical Terms for Mastering Image Tonality

Oversaturated.

HSL Dialog Sat High - How to Understand the Science of Photography and Technical Terms for Mastering Image Tonality

A Primer on Image Detail

Contrast usually refers to the overall light-to-dark extremes of an image but the real power of post-production editing is in pushing the tonal values around inside the overall range.

But if you really want to make the detail in your image stand out, you must adjust the internal contrast of the image. The biggest difference-maker adjustment should be the middle tones of your images; tones in-between the lightest and the darkest in your image.

TrafalgarSq A - How to Understand the Science of Photography and Technical Terms for Mastering Image Tonality

Trafalgar Sq O Levels - How to Understand the Science of Photography and Technical Terms for Mastering Image Tonality

The middle slider in Photoshop’s Levels dialog is referred to as the gamma slider. Gamma is another one of those legacy scientific terms that you can think of as a “mid-tone” adjustment. Moving this elementary slider from left to right actually shifts the entire middle range of tones from lighter to darker.

TrafalgarSq B - How to Understand the Science of Photography and Technical Terms for Mastering Image Tonality

This picture of the King Charles statue in London’s Trafalgar Square is backlit and was dark, but a simple middle tone adjustment opened up the shadows and revealed hidden detail.

TrafalgarSq A Levels - How to Understand the Science of Photography and Technical Terms for Mastering Image Tonality

Photoshop’s Levels tool is the most basic of tonal controls. There are actually several much more effective tonal shaping tools available in Photoshop and even more comprehensive controls in Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom. We won’t get into a thorough discussion of these tone adjustment tools and workflow recommendations in this article (perhaps at a later time).

Leaves A - How to Understand the Science of Photography and Technical Terms for Mastering Image Tonality

Leaves B - How to Understand the Science of Photography and Technical Terms for Mastering Image Tonality

This picture of winter leaves was fairly well exposed but required both tonal and color adjustments to reveal the rich colors in the original scene.

Camera Raw dialog - How to Understand the Science of Photography and Technical Terms for Mastering Image Tonality

Editing for Tonality

There’s a reason why tone adjustment should be your number one issue in image preparation; even more critical than color accuracy.

Your eyesight has tonal perception and interpretation capabilities that far exceed the dynamic range of any digital camera. Make no mistake, capturing seven stops of light range is an amazing feat. But capturing this wide range of tones doesn’t automatically translate into detail, image definition, or good tonal distinction.

Properly reassigning those internal tones to more closely match what your eyes see is where the real editing magic happens. Hang with me here because this will get a bit involved, but I think it will definitely be worth your time.

LinearCapture Eye Camera - How to Understand the Science of Photography and Technical Terms for Mastering Image Tonality

This chart shows the difference between the way your eye registers light and how your camera records it.

Camera View – Human View

Your camera’s image sensor records light quite differently than your eye perceives it. The camera actually records a lot of data from the lighter portion of the scene and very little data from the darker portion. The image sensors capture light in a linear fashion. Unfortunately, humans view the lighting in scenes in a logarithmic fashion.

You might say that original camera files usually benefit from a “fashion” adjustment, generally lightening the middle tones. Camera images that don’t get their tonal values adjusted almost always lose detail in the darker areas of the image. Virtually all camera images benefit from internal adjustments.

Chrominance and Luminance Explained

Chrominance deals with the color component of an image while luminance deals with the contrast or tonality component of an image.

Chroma refers to the color in an image while luma describes the non-color or tonal part. Achromatic is a fancy scientific word that is pretty simple to understand. Remember your high school English… the prefix “a” means “without,” so a-chromatic literally means without color.

In the HSL model of color, hue, and saturation fall in the chrominance column while tonality and contrast are on the luminance column (the structural or tonal backbone of an image).

Basic Luminosity Adjustments

Where does the term “luminance” come from? Light is measured in lumens. A lumen is the smallest measurable unit of light visible to the human eye. Luminosity then is the measure of lumens reflecting from (or transmitted through) a light source and perceived by your eye. The more lumens, the brighter the light. Light measurements are also made in increments called candelas. A candela is roughly the value of light produced by a single household candle.

Photo by Akshay Paatil on Unsplash

Just as “horsepower” is a carryover index of a measurement of power (relating to the pulling strength of multiple horses) candelas is an index of the cumulative light emitted from multiple candles. These legacy terms are sometimes confusing, and it would be nice if photographic color science terminology were simplified for those just entering the process, but until then, you’ll have to get acclimated.

I’ll take it slow, as you can easily drown in the scientific terminology minutia. I’ll keep the terminology on a basic digital imaging level so that you can make practical use of what you learn.

Basic Color Science

Ryb-colorwheel

As stated before, all color is composed of three elements; value, intensity, and luminosity. Value (or hue) refers to the “color” of color, or what differentiates red from orange or purple. Intensity (or saturation) refers to the purity color, distinguishing pastels to pungent colors (the more white light is combined with pure color, the more the color strength is diluted). Luminosity is the measure of the brightness and relates to the image’s lightness or darkness.

Hue (value) differentiates one color from another. Saturation (intensity) determines the purity of color. Luminosity (brightness) determines tonality.

The detail in digital imaging terminology is the degree to which colors and tones distinguish themselves from each other. While hue, saturation, and luminance all play a significant role in detailing an image, the heavy lifting of detail is done by luminance or the shaping of the internal tones in an image. Detail is a product of contrast, and contrast is almost completely controlled by the luminance element. This is why post-production professionals perform all their sharpening adjustments in the luminance channel exclusively.

Shadows Highlights dialog - How to Understand the Science of Photography and Technical Terms for Mastering Image Tonality

Photoshop’s Highlight/Shadow dialog box

Camera Raw dialog - How to Understand the Science of Photography and Technical Terms for Mastering Image Tonality

Adobe Camera Raw main dialog.

Shaping Light

Contrast, like audio equalization, cannot be effectively accomplished by using a linear (bass-treble) type control such is the luminance slider in the HSL panel which simply lightens or darkens an image. The effective shaping of an image requires the individual adjustment of five specific tonal regions of an image; highlight, quarter-tone, mid-tone, three-quarter tone and shadow. I use a variety of controls to shape my tonal contrast.

Ansel Adams once stated, “Half the image is created in the camera, the other half is created in the darkroom.” Though you may never use a darkroom to produce a photographic image, the essence of his statement is still true. Capturing pixels with your camera is only your first step in producing a good picture, what you do with the image that comes out of your camera will determine your skills as a photographer.

Digital photography provides almost limitless avenues for personal expression. Shaping the color and tonality in your images is the backbone of great photography. Determine to learn something new about this fabulous art form every day. Push pixels around and stay focused.

The post How to Understand the Science of Photography and Technical Terms for Mastering Image Tonality by Herb Paynter appeared first on Digital Photography School.


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Tips for Shooting Landscape Photography Towards the Sun

21 Feb

Avoid photographing towards the sun is one of the most common tips you’ll hear for landscape photography. In fact, it’s a tip that I’ve shared previously myself.

While it’s not without a reason that’s it’s a well-known tip, it might not be as relevant today as it was several years ago. Today’s sensors and post-processing opportunities are much more forgiving and what once was a bad idea can now be an opportunity.

In this article, I’ll show you how including the sun in the frame can enhance the atmosphere and add an extra dimension to your images as well as sharing my best tips for doing so.

Why you should include the sun in your images

I’m sure that many of you are ready to jump straight into the comment section right now and tell me how much of a bad idea it is to shoot towards the sun. But give me a minute to explain a few reasons why it’s something you might want to consider doing with your landscape photography.

Tips for Shooting Landscape Photography Towards the Sun

The greatest benefit of adding the sun in the frame is that it adds depth to the image. Take the image above as an example. Remove the sun and the image becomes flat and much less interesting. With the sun included, the image comes to life and drags you into it.

Tips for Shooting Landscape Photography Towards the Sun

Compositionally it can also be beneficial. Of course, this depends on where you place the sun. In the example above, the bright sun serves as a focal point. Naturally, the viewer’s eye is guided along the cliffs and up towards the bright area.

Keep in mind that our eyes are naturally attracted to the brighter parts of the image.

Another benefit of shooting towards the sun is that you often get beautiful shadows striking towards you. This serves as additional leading lines and benefits the composition.

Tips for including the sun in your images

Now, there’s one thing I need to make clear; including the sun in an image won’t always be beneficial. There are certain conditions or methods you should take advantage of for this to work. Here are some tips.

The time of day matters

While there are exceptions, the best images come when the sun is low on the horizon. The sun then creates a soft glow and gives a nicely balanced light.

Tips for Shooting Landscape Photography Towards the Sun

During midday when the sun is positioned higher in the sky, the light is harsh and less pleasing to the eyes. Generally, this is something you want to avoid.

Consider the sun’s placement within the frame

I’ll start by saying this, there’s no one single correct spot to place the sun within your image. Sometimes it’s beneficial to place it in the center, while other times it’s better to place it on the side.

This is where trial and error, and experience come into play.

Tips for Shooting Landscape Photography Towards the Sun

In the image above, I chose to place the sun at the very edge of the frame. Partly obscured by the clouds, it doesn’t take too much attention but instead, you’re drawn to the beautiful light hitting the landscape.

If you are familiar with semi-advanced post-processing techniques, you might be aware of a processing style called light bleed. This is a technique that involves heavy dodging and enhancing/creating a light source that strikes through the image. However, this is an effect you’re able to get in-camera as well by placing the sun at the corner or edge of your frame.

Tips for Shooting Landscape Photography Towards the Sun

Other times, you want to place the sun in the center of the image. In the image above, placing the sun in the center adds a light source that your eyes naturally go toward. Had I instead placed the sun to the side, this image would be less balanced.

Obscure the sun

In my opinion, one of the most efficient ways of including the sun in your image is by partly obscuring it. Combining that with a narrow aperture, you get a nice sun-star or sunburst.

Tips for Shooting Landscape Photography Towards the Sun

Use a Graduated ND Filter

Since the sun is so much brighter than the surrounding landscape, it can be hard to capture a well-exposed image when including it in the frame. By using a Graduated ND Filter you’re able to darken the sky in your image – meaning that you can capture a well-balanced image even with the sun in the frame.

Unfortunately, a Graduated ND Filter is not always ideal. Since the transition between darkened and transparent parts of the filter is a straight line, it can create some unwanted effects if you’re photographing a scene where something is projecting above the horizon.

Graduated ND Filters are better to use when the horizon is flat, such as the image below:

Tips for Shooting Landscape Photography Towards the Sun

… Or bracket multiple exposures

Another more flexible method of capturing well-balanced images with the sun included is to bracket multiple exposures and blend them in a photo editor. This is the better choice when the sun is at the highest position in the sky, as the contrast is even greater.

For the image below, I captured three images; one exposed for the landscape, one exposed for the sky and one even darker to balance out the brightest parts.

Tips for Shooting Landscape Photography Towards the Sun

Your turn

Hopefully, I’ve been able to convince you that shooting towards the sun isn’t a complete no-no anymore. Have you captured any images that are shot towards the sun for your landscape photography? I would love to see them in a comment below!

The post Tips for Shooting Landscape Photography Towards the Sun by Christian Hoiberg appeared first on Digital Photography School.


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8 Amazing Photography Tricks You Can Do With a High-Speed Camera Trigger

18 Feb

If you are a photographer, you probably heard that the camera doesn’t take a good picture, the person behind the camera does. It’s true because with right knowledge and practice you can take great photos with an entry level camera or even a mobile camera. But if you don’t have an idea about lighting, composition or the features of your camera, the world’s most advanced camera can’t take good photos for you.

8 Amazing Photography Tricks You Can Do With a High-Speed Camera Trigger

But when it comes to some special equipment, this phrase sometimes doesn’t apply. One piece of such equipment is called the MIOPS Smart Camera Trigger. This high-speed photography trigger can take photos at a precise moment which just impossible doing your own.

The trigger has various modes like lightning, sound, laser, time-lapse, scenario and DIY that can help you to take some outstanding images which you may have seen only on the internet previously. It can trigger your camera or fire the flashes and you can control everything using your smartphone.

So, let’s see what we can do using this wonderful high-speed trigger.

1. Popping Balloons

8 Amazing Photography Tricks You Can Do With a High-Speed Camera Trigger

When you burst a water-filled balloon, the water inside the balloon makes a shape similar to the balloon for a few moments before it falls on the ground. It happens so fast that you can’t see it happening live but you can capture it using your camera.

The MIOPS Smart Trigger has a sound mode for this kind of photography. As soon as you pop the balloon, it will trigger your camera or flash. You can change the sensitivity so it doesn’t trigger with other sounds and it also gives you the option to set a delay time for triggering so that it clicks at the exact moment you want.

The sound mode can be used to photograph bursting balloons in different ways. For example, you can place sunglasses or a hat on a water-filled balloon, burst it, and capture the shape of the water wearing a hat and glasses. Or you can burst a balloon with an arrow or a dart, fill the balloons with different colored water, and take different shots and merge the images into one. The possibilities are endless.

2. Lightning

8 Amazing Photography Tricks You Can Do With a High-Speed Camera Trigger

Lightning is the most beautiful natural phenomena. But it’s extremely difficult to photograph because you have no idea of when and where it will strike and chances of missing the moment are very high.

MIOPS Smart Trigger has a lightning mode for this scenario. All you need to do is set your camera on a tripod, attach this trigger, start lightning mode and leave your camera. When lightning strikes, it will trigger the camera automatically and capture that beautiful moment.

3. Paint Sculptures

8 Amazing Photography Tricks You Can Do With a High-Speed Camera Trigger

You can create amazing paint sculptures and satisfy for your artistic soul with the help of this sound trigger. Do do this, you need to put a rubber sheet on a speaker, put some watercolors on it and play sound. The sound will generate vibrations on the rubber sheet and because of that paint will jump up and make different shapes.

With the help of sound mode of the MIOPS Smart Trigger, you can focus on creating different sculptures by experimenting with quantity, density, and placement of colors. Thus you leave the tough job of clicking at the perfect moment to the MIOPS.

4. Dancing Colors

8 Amazing Photography Tricks You Can Do With a High-Speed Camera Trigger

It’s just like paint sculptures, but you can use dry colors instead of watercolors and create totally different results.

5. Water Droplet Refraction

8 Amazing Photography Tricks You Can Do With a High-Speed Camera Trigger

Imagine capturing our Earth or even the entire universe inside a drop of water. Yes, it is possible.

MIOPS Smart Trigger has a laser mode that can help you to take such pictures in the easiest way. All you need to do is create a setup to release water drops and place a picture in the background that you want to capture inside the drop. When the drop comes in front of the camera and breaks the laser beam, the camera will capture it automatically.

6. Water Galaxy

8 Amazing Photography Tricks You Can Do With a High-Speed Camera Trigger

When you spin a water-soaked ball, the water comes out from the ball and creates a beautiful galaxy shape which looks amazing.

You can capture this moment by using the laser mode of MIOPS Smart once again. When the ball comes between the trigger and the laser, the camera will shoot automatically.

7. Collision in Mid-air

8 Amazing Photography Tricks You Can Do With a High-Speed Camera Trigger

Imagine a scenario where two glasses filled with colored water or paint collide in mid-air and create a beautiful splash. MIOPS Smart Trigger’s sound mode helps you to take such pictures, as seen above.

8. Action Sports Photography

8 Amazing Photography Tricks You Can Do With a High-Speed Camera Trigger

You can capture high-speed action sports like a cyclist in mid-air or someone jumping on a skateboard with the help of the laser mode of this trigger. It’s very useful when you are performing the action yourself and shooting it too. Just set the MIOPS Smart Trigger to laser mode and start doing actions and leave the rest to the MIOPS.

Finally

You can also photograph birds or insects using laser mode. Just set the laser near the bird feeder and when a bird will come for feeding, the camera will capture it. Also, you can shoot fireworks with the lightning mode. The possibilities are endless, you just need to use your imagination.

In addition to this, MIOPS Smart also works as intervalometer in time-lapse mode and clicks images on a set interval to convert to time-lapse videos. Using HDR mode you can capture bracketed images and merge them into HDR. You can check the MIOPS Smart User Manual to learn more about the MIOPS Smart Trigger.

Disclaimer: MIOPS is a paid partner of dPS.

The post 8 Amazing Photography Tricks You Can Do With a High-Speed Camera Trigger by Ramakant Sharda appeared first on Digital Photography School.


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Weekly Photography Challenge – Hands

17 Feb

Last week I sent you off to photograph feet – this week let’s try the other appendages – hands!

Hands can be young or old, tough or tender, but are always very expressive. What do the hands you’re photographing have to say? Add some storytelling into your hand photos for extra marks!

Photo by JORGE LOPEZ on Unsplash

Weekly Photography Challenge – Hands

Simply upload your shot into the comment field (look for the little camera icon in the Disqus comments section) and they’ll get embedded for us all to see or if you’d prefer, upload them to your favorite photo-sharing site and leave the link to them. Show me your best images in this week’s challenge. Sometimes it takes a while for an image to appear so be patient and try not to post the same image twice.

Share in the dPS Facebook Group

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

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Photography Equipment Comparisons – Entry-Level Versus High-End Gear Does it Matter?

16 Feb

Photographers tend to get obsessed with having the latest, greatest toys. But does it matter which camera or bits of equipment you use? If so, how much? Or is it more about how you use it, and the skills you possess?

Let’s take a look at three video comparisons of some of the top level photography equipment available and some entry-level options.

Rich photographer – poor photographer

I like the play on words here, hinting at the concept of the “Rich Dad Poor Dad” series of books by Robert Kiyosaki. In the video, the guys over at f-stoppers do a portrait shoot with two different sets of lighting equipment. One which costs nearly $ 10,000, and the “poor man’s” version which will run you about $ 425.

Can you see a difference in the final portrait results? No, I can’t see much difference either.

$ 1100 versus $ 5499

In this second video, Peter McKinnon looks at the virtues of both the Canon 80D ($ 1099) and the Canon 1Dx Mark II (Note: at the time of writing, this camera is listed at $ 5499). Is the latter worth five times as much? You decide.

If you are a sports shooter, you may need the extra frames per second rate the 1DX offers. But if you’re a wildlife photographer you may prefer the extended reach of the crop sensor in the 80D. Portrait photography can be done with either, but you likely don’t need to spend the extra money on the 1DX if that’s what you shoot.

Note: when the video was made the 1DX was likely priced higher, so please note the difference in prices in the video to current pricing.

Camera shootout – it’s not about the gear

In this last video let’s see what happens if two professional photographers each pick up an entry-level Canon Rebel T3i and hand their Canon 5D Mark IV to an amateur. They do a little shootout with the same model, in the same lighting conditions and studio. Let’s see who comes out on top.

The Canon T3i is discontinued, the price for the current model, the T6 is $ 449 with the 18-55mm lens. The Canon 5D Mark IV  is $ 3299 + $ 1699 for the 35mm f/1.4 lens shown in the video = total $ 4998.

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Your thoughts?

So what are your thoughts after watching the videos? Have you made the decision to invest in high-end lenses or a full frame camera body? If so, have you found it to fill your needs better – was it worth it? Let’s discuss in the comments below.

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Science photography award goes to image of a single trapped atom

14 Feb
Single Atom in an Ion Trap | Photo by David Nadlinger/University of Oxford/EPSRC/PA

A photo of a single trapped atom has won the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council’s (EPSRC) science photography contest. The image, which is titled “Single Atom in an Ion Trap,” was taken by David Nadlinger of the University of Oxford. Showcased in the image is single positively-charged strontium atom trapped by electric fields produced by metal electrodes.

You have to zoom in to really see it, but even that is incredible when you really wrap your mind around what you’re looking at. Here’s a closer crop:

This closer crop better shows the glowing strontium atom, trapped by electric fields produced by electrodes in the vacuum chamber.

According to the EPSRC, the image is a long exposure that was taken through an ultra-high vacuum chamber’s window. A blue-violet laser was used to illuminate the atom, which absorbed light particles and then re-emitted them. That process produces enough light that a regular camera can photograph the atom if a long exposure is used.

Photographer and overall EPSRC contest winner David Nadlinger discussed the idea behind the image:

The idea of being able to see a single atom with the naked eye had struck me as a wonderfully direct and visceral bridge between the minuscule quantum world and our macroscopic reality. A back-of-the-envelope calculation showed the numbers to be on my side, and when I set off to the lab with camera and tripods one quiet Sunday afternoon, I was rewarded with this particular picture of a small, pale blue dot.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Why Olympus Mirrorless Cameras are Top Notch for Travel Photography

14 Feb

From entry-level to pro, the Olympus Mirrorless Four Thirds OM camera series has something for every aspirational travel photographer.

Why Olympus Mirrorless Four Thirds Camera Systems are Top Notch for Travel Photography

Camera – Olympus Mirrorless E-M1 with kit lens at 38mm, 1/250th, f/14, ISO 400.

Are you looking to get serious about your digital photography and move up to an interchangeable lens system? Or maybe you are looking to upgrade to a pro level weatherproof transportable system?

Are you off on a journey of a lifetime and looking to record every moment? You want to be sure there’s no danger the camera won’t be up to the task – so which will you take along?

Why Olympus Mirrorless Four Thirds Camera Systems are Top Notch for Travel Photography

Camera – Olympus mirrorless E-M10 Mark II, Lumix G 20mm lens, 1/125th, f/2.2, ISO 200.

The Olympus OM Micro Four Thirds system could be heaven sent. In this article, we’ll look at the OM-D E-M10 entry-level camera and the top of the range OM-D E-M1 through almost 12 months of use.

Why Olympus mirrorless systems are phenomenal travel cameras

Why Olympus Mirrorless Four Thirds Camera Systems are Top Notch for Travel Photography

Olympus EM1, kit lens at 14mm, 1/5th of a second, f/22, ISO 3200.

This was taken handheld, showing just how good the image stabilization is on these cameras.

The important considerations for travel cameras are size and weight, versatility, durability, performance, and picture quality. Ideally, you want a light-weight system that will easily move between landscape, street, and portrait photography.

Let’s look at each of these considerations in turn.

Size and weight

Why Olympus Mirrorless Four Thirds Camera Systems are Top Notch for Travel Photography

The flagship model Olympus EM-1 weighs in at just under 500g (1.1 pounds), the smaller and lighter EM-10 at an incredible 342g (0.75 pounds). Both are smaller in size than my hand.

Incredibly, they both fit in a parka-style coat pocket when fitted with a 14-42mm kit lens. Look at the size of my Sony DSLR in this picture below to see just how much of a space saving there is comparatively.

Why Olympus Mirrorless Four Thirds Camera Systems are Top Notch for Travel Photography

There are obvious advantages to the smaller cameras in regards to luggage on a plane, and carrying gear around all day. But the small size is also non-threatening if your shots include passers-by. Plus you can take it places where professional style cameras are not allowed.

The Micro Four Thirds System also means lenses are much more compact. For instance, the Olympus 75-300mm zoom lens measures 130mm and weighs in at 430g (just under a pound). The equivalent focal range for a full frame camera is 150-600mm. That kind of glass for a DSLR would weigh in at about 3kg (6.5 pounds)!

Versatility

Why Olympus Mirrorless Four Thirds Camera Systems are Top Notch for Travel Photography

There is a good range of lenses available for the Micro Four Thirds mount including ranges by Lumix and Panasonic, as well as Olympus. The range will take you from a fish-eye pancake lens, through wide-angle primes to long zooms. The image stabilization system built into the camera means the lenses are both light and affordable.

Extension rings with electronic connections to allow your lens and camera talk to each other are also available allowing you to make the best use of your available lenses. Two lenses and one converter will take you from wide-angle to macro to long zoom without missing a beat.

Durability

Both these cameras look and feel solid and durable. Having used them both for almost a year in sometimes inhospitable conditions and on long hikes, I have had no issues with these cameras or the lenses I use.

If you look at the pictures the condition is still like new. They even get taken along on motorbike and camping trips in the winter!

Why Olympus Mirrorless Four Thirds Camera Systems are Top Notch for Travel Photography

Olympus E-M10, 40-150mm zoom at 150mm, 1/400th, f/7.1, ISO 200. Despite the dark and overcast day, the camera produced good detail straight out of the camera in this JPEG image.

Performance and Picture Quality

Firstly, I should mention I am using systems that were current when they were purchased at the beginning of 2017. They have both been upgraded since with some notable improvements. The EM-1 now has a Mark II version with a 20MP sensor rather than 16MP chip, and improved AF tracking. The EM-10 moves up from Mark II to Mark III with more minor improvements.

Why Olympus Mirrorless Four Thirds Camera Systems are Top Notch for Travel Photography

The camera has a fantastic viewfinder with 100% picture coverage as well as a touch-control rear screen, a feature that will feel familiar if you use a smartphone. A massive range of buttons allows you to set up the camera to suit your style with several where you can assign the functions. The menu system will feel familiar if you’re a DSLR user. It has a very useful one-click user “Myset” comprising four customizable options for configurations that you use frequently.

My set screen - Why Olympus Mirrorless Four Thirds Camera Systems are Top Notch for Travel Photography

The 5-axis stabilization is excellent, making handheld shooting easy and rewarding. The AF system has 81 points and is surprisingly good though tracking is not up to that of the weightier and roomier APS-C cameras. This is one of the trade-offs for having the compact size.

As the cameras use electronic viewfinders or the rear LCD screen, batteries get used up quickly. Battery packs are available, but this adds to the size. So if you attach one the camera won’t fit in a pocket anymore.

Why Olympus Mirrorless Four Thirds Camera Systems are Top Notch for Travel Photography

Olympus E-M1, kit lens at 35mm, 16mm extension tube, 0.3-second exposure, f/7.1, ISO 400. I adjusted levels in post-processing to lighten the image and create a fine art feel.

All the photographs in the article are taken with either one or the other of these two cameras, so you can judge for yourself the quality of the results. The newer versions of these cameras can only be even better.

The cameras provide great results for landscape photography, handling a range of tones well, especially with the added use of the HDR function to bring out details at both ends of the scale.

At lower ISO levels, up to 1600, there is little evidence of noise, although it increases in the dark areas as you approach that mark. Quality is acceptable up to ISO 6400, in my opinion.

Why Olympus Mirrorless Four Thirds Camera Systems are Top Notch for Travel Photography

Olympus E-M1, 82mm, 1/200th, f/9, ISO 1600. Look, I’m Pinnochio! Grab shot – love the skin tones and the AF got the near eye, spot on.

Skin tones are good, producing great portraits and color handling is great. Low light shooting isn’t a problem for this camera, especially at the lowest ISO.

Millstone beach - Why Olympus Mirrorless Four Thirds Camera Systems are Top Notch for Travel Photography

Olympus E-M10, Lumix 20mm, 1/80th, f/1.8, ISO 200. Fabulous colors despite the overhead canopy and reduced light.

CONCLUSION

Both of these Olympus mirrorless cameras are fantastic pieces of kit for almost every situation. Picture quality is good, handling with the stabilization is awesome, AF and exposure are solid. With an entry-price of about $ 500 for the EM-10, the value is terrific.

The pricier EM-1 is also a good value, especially when considering the price of additional lenses. A Mark I at less than $ 1100 represents astonishing value. However, I do aim to upgrade to the EM-1 Mark II when finances allow, knowing I already have a decent range of accessories for it.

Why Olympus Mirrorless Four Thirds Camera Systems are Top Notch for Travel Photography

Olympus E-M1, 75-300mm lens at 270mm, 1/40th, f/6.7, ISO 400. The quality of this shot is fantastic, just look at that tail!

As a travel camera, I don’t think these two Olympus mirrorless cameras can be beaten at their respective price points. If you are new to system cameras, the EM-10 would be a fantastic introduction, with its straight-forward layout. A more seasoned photographer may prefer the customizable options and total control of the EM-1

Why Olympus Mirrorless Four Thirds Camera Systems are Top Notch for Travel Photography

Olympus E-M1, kit lens at 22mm, 1/60th, f/22, ISO 2000 using Aperture Priority. Straight out of the camera JPEG file. Great results even if you’re not a Photoshop fan.

Either way, you won’t be disappointed with the results. You can take that once in a lifetime trip knowing you’ll bring back images of your travels to be extremely proud to show off to friends.

The post Why Olympus Mirrorless Cameras are Top Notch for Travel Photography by Janice Gill appeared first on Digital Photography School.


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5 Reasons Why You Might Want to Try Black and White Photography

13 Feb

5 Reasons Why You Might Want to Try Black and White Photography

There are different schools of thought when it comes to black and white photography. Some believe it was a technical limitation of the past that you need to get over and move on. While others see it as a creative choice, that needs to be explored in great depths.

As camera technology gets better, with more emphasis on improved color ranges, why would you choose to shoot or process your images in black and white? In this article, we’ll look at five reasons why you might want to shoot or convert your images to black and white.

5 Reasons Why You Might Want to Try Black and White Photography

1. B&W Helps you see differently

The old “Masters” of photography shot in black and white initially, because they had no choice. Even with the advent of Kodachrome, which introduced the world to color photography, there was still a pursuance of black and white. This was because black and white was (and still is by some people) seen as photography in its the purest form.

5 Reasons Why You Might Want to Try Black and White Photography

When you remove color the emphasis shifts to the other compositional elements of the image. These include lines, shape and texture, contrasts and tones.

With this in mind, it is obvious that not all images will translate well to black and white. So, look at all the elements and deduce what else you have to work with, besides color.

5 Reasons Why You Might Want to Try Black and White Photography

Many times black and white helps you develop a different perspective from what you are used to seeing, which nurtures your photographic eye.

2. B&W Eliminates distractions

You are used to seeing the world in color and there nothing is wrong with that view. Sometimes this contributes to other elements or details being lost or taken for granted. Some of the elements (highlighted before) required for a great photo include contrast, texture, lighting, shape, and form.

When you shoot for black and white, you challenge yourself to remove the distraction of color. These include color casts and differences in color temperature (ambient light sources), as well as specific colorful elements that are strong, which may reside in the background or take away from your story.

5 Reasons Why You Might Want to Try Black and White Photography

Monochromatic imagery forces you to focus on form, shape, and texture while composing. If your emphasis is on making colors work together, these elements are sometimes overlooked. With black and white, distracting colors are now translated into shades of gray that add to your image.

3. B&W Offers creative choice

Since your world is in color, it is safe to say that color photography depicts reality and is more realistic. Thus, black and white photography is viewed as a rendition of reality – or how you interpret what you see.

When you remove color, you not only isolate the different elements, you are compelled to find how they relate to each other. This helps you explore and create different ways to tell your story.

When you take away color, you remove what your viewer is used to seeing. Now you are charged with finding the stronger elements in the scene and figuring out how to use them to convey what you want to depict.

5 Reasons Why You Might Want to Try Black and White Photography

4. Adds emotion or mood

Something about the variance of tonal ranges, rich blacks, and deep contrasts appeal to us psychologically. It creates a connection that makes you stop and pay attention to what is being presented.

5 Reasons Why You Might Want to Try Black and White Photography

Many photographers use black and white for storytelling in travel and street photography, as well as when portraying religious or cultural activities. Monochrome in some genres connects, enhances and strengthens emotions and mood.

5. Timelessness

Even though this is lower on the list, it is one of the more common reasons why some photographers shoot in black and white. Monochromatic photography adds what is seen as a timeless quality to your images.

Black and white photos seem to transcend reality and take you back to a time gone by. Historically there were color schemes that were specific to types of film or trends in digital photography that can date your image. The removal of color makes it tougher to figure out when the image was taken/produced.

5 Reasons Why You Might Want to Try Black and White Photography

Bonus

You no longer have to imagine what your scene will look like in black and white, as current camera technology allows you to try this on the spot and see if it works. While some photographers prefer to shoot in black and white, others prefer to shoot in color and then process or convert their images to black and white to get a different or better tonal range.

Note: If you shoot RAW format and set your camera to its version of the monochrome setting, you will see a black and white preview on the LCD when you review your images. But you will still have all the color data available in the RAW file at the post-processing stage. This gives you the best of both worlds – a quick b/w preview and ability to convert later.

5 Reasons Why You Might Want to Try Black and White Photography

This image was shot in black and white using the camera’s monochrome settting.

5 Reasons Why You Might Want to Try Black and White Photography

This image was shot in color and then converted to black and white in the processing stage.

Conclusion

While black and white photography still has an important role in photography, please note that not all subjects translate well to this mode. Even though a strong composition is not color dependent, sometimes the power of the photo is its color. This is why it is good to know when to use black and white.

5 Reasons Why You Might Want to Try Black and White Photography
If you are interested in pursuing the monochromatic, look for the other elements of composition like texture, shape, form, lines, and contrast. Experiment with shooting and processing black and white images and figure out which resonates with you more.

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Getting Started with Landscape Photography – 4 Easy Tips for Beginners

13 Feb

One of the things I like most about photography is that there is always more to learn. It keeps the mind active and the creative juices flowing. But the wealth of information out there can be overwhelming for beginners in landscape photography. Where do you start?

There are a few easy things you can do that will have an immediate impact on your photography so you can start making better images right away. Let’s focus on those and leave the more technical stuff for later.

1. Pay attention to the light

There is no such thing as bad light. The key is to understand what kinds of images are suitable under various lighting conditions.

Red Rock State Park, Arizona by Anne McKinnell - Getting Started with Landscape Photography - 4 Easy Tips for Beginners

During golden hour, the day’s last light makes the rocks glow.

The Golden Hour

This is the time right after sunrise and right before sunset when the sun is low in the sky and casts beautiful golden light. Start here! It’s hard to go wrong with golden light, which is the most popular time of day for photography.

Ajo, Arizona by Anne McKinnell - Getting Started with Landscape Photography - 4 Easy Tips for Beginners

The cactus in the foreground is in the shade while golden hour light reflects off the mountain in the background.

Bright Midday Light

The opposite of golden hour, the harsh direct light you find at midday can be the most difficult to work with – unless you photograph in the shade.

Just look for interesting subjects that are in the shade and leave the sky out of the frame. The even soft light is great for close-ups and flower photography.

Bush Lupin - Getting Started with Landscape Photography - 4 Easy Tips for Beginners

Flowers photographed in the shade.

There are more types of light to work with and different times of day to photograph, but start with these for the quickest results.

2. Remove distractions

Pay attention to the things in the background of your images and try to simplify the background as much as possible. Sometimes there is an unwanted object, like a trash can for example, that you might not notice unless you are looking for it. These things can often be hidden behind your main subject simply by moving to one side, photographing from a higher or lower perspective, or getting closer.

Try to simplify your composition as much as possible with fewer items in your scene. Find a way to photograph your main subject on a clean background.

Big surf on the Oregon Coast. Getting Started with Landscape Photography - 4 Easy Tips for Beginners

To make this image, I had to change my perspective to eliminate debris on the sand as well as other rocks and birds from the frame.

Beware of tree branches or other things that poke in to the edge of your frame. Before you take your shot, try to remember to do an “edge check”. Look around the edges of your frame and make sure it looks clean.

3. Look for one thing

Your photograph cannot be about everything. You need to decide what is most interesting in your scene and make your photograph about that. Get closer to it.

One exercise that will get you in this habit is to go on a photo walk with the purpose of looking for one particular element of design. You’ll find that when you set your mind on one thing, you’ll start to see it everywhere. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Textures and Patterns

Often beginning photographers will try to capture an entire vista in one photograph and don’t notice the details. But the more you train your eye to notice the details, the more interesting your photographs will become.

The best thing about photographing textures and patterns is that you don’t have to go far to find them. Your subject can be anything from rocks to grass or peeling paint. I’m sure you can find subjects with wonderful textures close to home. Try to fill your frame with the pattern.

Weston Beach, Point Lobos State Reserve, California - Getting Started with Landscape Photography - 4 Easy Tips for Beginners

Filling the frame with the pattern of colorful rocks.

Lines

Look for horizontal lines, vertical lines or diagonal lines. Try to find lines that lead the way to some interesting subject.

Colors

Take a look at the color wheel and notice complementary colors. Those are the ones that are opposites on the wheel such as blue and orange, red and green, or yellow and purple. Any scene with complementary colors is always striking (which is why so many photographers carry around a red umbrella or a red jacket for their partner to wear in a grassy or forest scene).

Bamboo Forest - Getting Started with Landscape Photography - 4 Easy Tips for Beginners

Complementary colors plus diagonal lines.

4. Make time to practice

It doesn’t take long to develop good habits and learn what makes an interesting photograph. But it can be hard to remember if you only go shooting once in awhile. Try to make a habit of doing it every day, even if it’s only for fifteen minutes. By doing this, you’ll reinforce the habit and find yourself seeing the potential for great images all around you all the time.

Spider Rock, Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona - Getting Started with Landscape Photography - 4 Easy Tips for Beginners

Golden hour – there is still enough light to photograph the depths of the canyon while the last of the day’s light reflects off the top of the highest rock.

Conclusion

There are more technical things that you’ll want to start learning soon such as; how the exposure triangle works, understanding depth of field, picking the right shooting mode, focus settings, and more. It’s endless (which is a good thing).

But for now, these tips will get you on the right track so you are happy with your images right from the beginning. Have fun!

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