Posts Tagged ‘Photography’

Weekly Photography Challenge – Music

21 Mar

Sing, play that funky music, listen and look at these 21 images of all things music.

Weekly Photography Challenge – Music

Think of all the things you can photograph related to music:

  • An individual instrument
  • Musician with this instrument
  • Full band
  • A concert or show in a bar
  • An orchestra or quartette
  • A singer
  • A sheet of music
  • Speakers or a stereo

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By Freaktography

By Gia Willow Alexa Annermarken

So get out and find something musical to photograph this week for the dPS challenge. Here are some tips to help you get started.

  • 5 Tips for Portraits of Musicians That Will Help You Hit All the Right Notes
  • 10 Must-Have Camera Settings for Concert Photography
  • Concert Photography: Choosing the Best Camera Settings
  • How to Shoot a Sequence of Photos That Capture a Story

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By Geoffrey Froment

By Ignacio Bernal

By K ~ The Eternal Spirit

By kennysarmy

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Share your images below:

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 on the dPS Facebook group as the challenge is posted there each week as well.

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The post Weekly Photography Challenge – Music by Darlene Hildebrandt appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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15 Photography Ideas to Boost Your Creativity

21 Mar

Doing photography exercises brings forth new opportunities to improve your skills, hone in on your craft and who knows, even guide you in the direction of finding a new genre that you love more than anything in the world! Here are 15 creative ideas to take you out of your comfort zone, and guide you in your quest to boost your creativity.

Get out there and put your own spin to each of these prompts. Bonus points if you have never tried any of these before. When you push yourself to get comfortable being uncomfortable, to step outside your comfort zone, to try new things, and to give yourself the permission to fail – you also give yourself the chance to figure out who you want to be when you grow up!

#1 – Add emotion to your images

15 Photography Exercises to Boost Your Creativity

I absolutely adore this image. There’s nothing like laughing with unabashed happiness on your wedding day!

Choose to evoke emotion in your images – either in the eyes of the beholder or in the eyes of the beheld (a.k.a your subjects). When you want emotion from your subjects, ask for it. There is nothing more uncomfortable for your clients than a photographer who is silent behind the camera while continuously clicking the shutter.

Most clients are not professional models and generally, they are quite camera shy and self-conscious. It is our responsibility as the photographer to direct, educate, and interact with our clients to make them comfortable in front of our lens.

If you are shooting landscapes or still lifes, aim to create emotion in your images that move your audience to feel something. Be it a serious case of wanderlust viewing a travel photo from an exotic locale, or insane hunger when looking at your food images!

15 Photography Exercises to Boost Your Creativity

Sometimes staged photos take a turn of their own and present opportunities for different perspectives!

#2 – Try some motion blur

There are many different ways to achieve motion blur. I associate motion blur with the effect of capturing movement in a frame. You can either capture movement in your subject or by moving yourself or the camera (e.g. panning). For me, the easiest way to achieve motion blur is to slow the shutter speed and show some movement of the subject. Motion blur adds an interesting artistic element in your images if done right. One tip, use a tripod for optimal effect.

15 Photography Exercises to Boost Your Creativity

When fog was our constant companion on a beach camping trip in the pacific northwest, I chose to use it to my advantage to create an eerie effect with motion blur – in the waves and the people walking along the beach!

15 Photography Exercises to Boost Your Creativity

Panning image courtesy of dPS Editor, Darlene.

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#3 – Go macro

Traditionally macro photography has been associated with floral and fauna. But resist the urge to get out into the garden to find the smallest ant to photograph. Instead, think of macro as a great way to isolate details in an image.

15 Photography Exercises to Boost Your Creativity

As a wedding photographer, I love using my macro lens to capture unique ring shots for my couples. And of course, nothing like highlighting the snow (I live in Chicago!).

#4 – Find reflections

As the name suggests, try and find mirror images or reflections, either with mirrors or with water, of your subject and shoot creatively.

Reflections of people in water image - 15 Photography Exercises to Boost Your Creativity

It really helps if your subjects are great sports and willing to get into the water for a shot like this!!

#5 – Shoot out of focus

Whether it’s an unlucky accident or intentional, I love out of focus images. Remember these creative exercises are simply an attempt to create something you are proud of. There are no right or wrongs, they are all just ways to stimulate your creative juices.

#6 – Wabi-sabi – embracing imperfection

As per Wikipedia, wabi-sabi represents Japanese aesthetics and a Japanese world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete”.

There is something innately beautiful in imperfections. That feeling of being alive and being human and living life to the fullest, versus living in the proverbial glass house where nothing is out of order. The best way to think of wabi-sabi is to look for imperfections in your everyday.

15 Photography Exercises to Boost Your Creativity

I love everything old and vintage. They always tell me stories of a different, more interesting time and place!

15 Photography Exercises to Boost Your Creativity

#7 – Double exposures

Ding a double exposure is a carry-over from the old film days and it is a super creative way to take your images from boring to wow! In its simplest form, it is a way to superimpose two images onto a single frame. The good news is that you don’t need a film camera to create double exposures. Some of

Some newer DSLRs have a multiple exposure setting as a tool for creative photography. It takes a little bit of reading but once you get the hang of it, I promise, you will be hooked. We also have a great article in the DPS archives that talks about the techniques of multiple exposures How to do Multiple Exposures In-Camera.

15 Photography Exercises to Boost Your Creativity

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#8 Diptych

A diptych is a concept of placing two images side by side so that they add context to each other and tell a complete story. When choosing images to form a diptych, pay close attention to light, tones, and exposures. Typically I compose my diptychs to include a big picture image and a detail shot of an element of that image.

15 Photography Exercises to Boost Your Creativity

My focus with dyptics is to dig deeper into my stories…focus on the details along with the big picture.

#9 – Triptych

Similar to diptych, a triptych is a concept of placing three images side by side so that they collectively tell a story.

15 Photography Exercises to Boost Your Creativity

Especially with tryptics, pay special attention to the order and orientation of the images. At times this might limit the placement of the images in a certain order.

#10 – Shooting through objects

I love shooting through objects, it adds an element of interest and depth in the foreground. You can really take this up a notch by using every day elements like leaves, branches, fabric pieces and ever glass to create some cool artistic effects in your images.

15 Photography Exercises to Boost Your Creativity

15 Photography Exercises to Boost Your Creativity

#11 – Different perspective

The next time you find yourself shooting the same subject the same way, take a step back and rethink your strategy. Are you a 100% vertical shooter like me? Then force yourself to take a horizontal frame. Are you always looking at details? Then use a wide-angle lens and force yourself to take in the big picture. Do you always shoot at a narrow aperture so as to get everything in focus? Then dial down your aperture and shoot at the widest possible setting (based on your lens) to focus in on one detail of the whole image.

15 Photography Exercises to Boost Your Creativity

Personally, I tend to shoot closeup and focus on the details a lot more than I do the big picture. So I have been forcing myself to do just that…and I love when I get diversity of 50-50 in my vertical and horizontal orientation shots! Bonus point to you if you can spot the subject here!!

#12 – Burst of color

It’s a beautiful, colorful world out there. Get out and photograph it. Don’t be afraid of the bold bright colors, but definitely be aware of which colors work and which ones don’t quite translate well in imagery. Train your mind to look for certain colors and patterns and before you know it, you will have a collection of colorful images that make you happy.

15 Photography Exercises to Boost Your Creativity

15 Photography Exercises to Boost Your Creativity

I just loved the pop of color from my husband’s red jacket as he walked along the lakeshore with the Olympic mountains in the background.

#13 – Monochromatic

This is the exact opposite of #12 where your challenge is to look for and shoot a black and white image. You can either convert the image to B&W in post-processing or change the setting on your camera (depending on the make and model) to shoot monochromatic in-camera.

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The key here is to look for patterns and compositions that work well in black and white. A point to note is that processing is very subjective, as is black and white imagery. There are no right or wrong images, but here are a few articles to help you take great monochrome images.

  • How to Create Good Black and White Portraits
  • 6 Tips to Help You Make Better Black and White Landscape Photos
  • Avoid These 5 Common Mistakes in Black and White Photography
  • A Guide to Black and White Conversion in Photoshop
  • A Guide to Black and White Conversion in Lightroom
  • Improve Your Middle of the Day Photos By Doing Black and White

15 Photography Exercises to Boost Your Creativity

15 Photography Exercises to Boost Your Creativity

#14 – Pattern play

Take the time to look around and see if you are able to find any natural patterns around you. These can be either man-made or natural. Facades of buildings, windows, parking lots, and landscapes all provide many opportunities to capture repeating patterns. Capture them in an interesting way to highlight those patterns.

15 Photography Exercises to Boost Your Creativity

#15 – Shadow play

Shadow play is most prevalent in situations when the sun is high in the sky creating harsh shadows on the ground, on buildings and directly unto the subject. But magic with light also happens indoors. Learn to embrace this high contrast between shadow and sun and try to capture some creative angles.

Dramatic light Images Shadow play - 15 Photography Exercises to Boost Your Creativity


I hope these exercises have proven to you that there isn’t any lack of creativity prompts in and around you. You just have to look for them anytime you feel stuck or find yourself creating the same or similar images again and again. Keep these prompts in the back of your mind, use them, combine them, mix them up – the possibilities are endless!

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What are the Best Street Photography Camera Settings and Why

21 Mar

Did you ever wonder how the photographers of the past did it? All they had were manual cameras and yet somehow they had a method that beats even the latest technology in autofocus! Wonder what it was? Let’s find out first what it was and discuss what most call the best street photography camera settings.

The best street photography settings

Now, before getting into this, let’s get something straight. If you are doing something in your street photography and it works for you, then by all means, you’ve found the settings that fit you best and you probably want to stick with them. What I am presenting here are the tried and true ways that not only past photographers used, but most street photographers prefer today. But it’s not magic by any means. With that being said, let’s start with focusing on street photography.

What are the Best Street Photography Camera Settings and Why
What’s faster than autofocus?

I know you are probably wondering how something can be faster than the latest autofocus, especially when every new camera wants you to believe they have the fastest AF in the world. The answer is – pre-focusing. What photographers of the past did was to pre-focus their camera onto a certain zone and simply shot, paying attention so that their subjects were within that area.

If you look at the example below, the photographer could either pre-focus on the blue or red area. Then anything or anyone that came within the blue or red area (depending which they chose) would be in focus.

What are the Best Street Photography Camera Settings and Why

Pre-focus zones.

Autofocus also comes with certain issues, because even if you have the fastest autofocus in the world, it can only guess WHERE you want it to focus. When you have people coming at you, it will most likely focus on the person that is closest to you. You could change your focus points, put if you wanted to shoot outside of that point, you would have to focus and recompose. That is not a luxury you often have in the street. Zones eliminate that problem. They are like a forcefield that you have in front of your camera, whoever enters that force field will be in focus. Those fields usually require smaller apertures, hence street photographers usually rely on f/5.6 or f/8.

Setting up your forcefield

In order to set up your own forcefield, you will need to know what kind of shots you want. Do you want to make images of your subjects up close, or further away? That will determine where you need to focus. Let’s say you want to take a few shots with your subject at less than one meter. All you need to do is to put your lens like so:


My aperture is at f/16, so I would put the marking on the left to 0.7, and look at the other marking on the right. That would tell me that everything between 0.7 to 1.2 meters will be in focus. The way aperture works, the further away you are, the larger the depth of field, so putting it at one meter would have had a lot of space in focus.

But, “my lens doesn’t have those marks”, you say! That’s where a tool like DOFmaster comes in:

Say you have a Canon 7D, for example. Select it from the camera dropdown menu and put in the lens focal length (say 35mm). If you focus at one meter, everything from 0.89m to 1.14m will be in focus. But the tool also tells you how to get the greatest zone of all, it tells you what your hyperfocal distance is. So if you focus at 8.09m, everything from 4m to infinity would be in focus at f/8.

Most street photographers I know set it to the hyperfocal distance. But when the light starts dropping, if they want some part of the image not in focus, or if they want their subjects really close, they use smaller zones (and larger apertures) and switch between them.

But what if your camera doesn’t even tell you where you are focused? Then you just need an app for that. You can download EasyMeasure (iOS) or Smartmeasure (Android). Then stand in front of a wall to get your distance to it, go back and forth until you get your desired distance, then focus on the wall and voila your zone is set!

What are the Best Street Photography Camera Settings and Why
The other settings

Once you have your focus and aperture set, what about your other settings? You’ve got a few choices. First of all, you can leave them all on manual (shooting in Manual mode) and adjust them on the fly. Or you can put the shutter speed on automatic (camera in Aperture priority mode) and deal with ISO manually.

A good choice is to keep the shutter speed above 1/125th because stuff usually happens fast on the streets and below that there is risk of camera shake. Of course the same applies for when you are shooting manually too, better to not go below 1/125th, but that might be different for you if you shoot slowly.

The other setting that is left is ISO. You could also put it on auto-ISO, but put a cap on it. I think most modern cameras that are adjustable should be okay with a cap of 1600. But you’ll have to watch out, some cameras don’t have great auto ISO and will go to ISO 1600 in broad daylight.

What are the Best Street Photography Camera Settings and Why
The Semi-automatic Settings

The settings below will help you to focus on the image and only worry about if someone is in your focus zone or not:

  • Set your aperture to f/8
  • Focus at the hyperfocal distance
  • Auto shutter speed, do not go lower than 1/125th
  • Auto-ISO set to not go higher than 1600

One of the strengths of this system is that it accounts for transition time. Imagine you are walking out of a building, from which the inside was darker than outside, which is super sunny.

If you are in manual shooting mode for your ISO and shutter speed, you may have to adjust the exposure by three stops if an image suddenly appears in front of you. While you’re changing the shutter speed you might not have time to change the ISO and may mess up the exposure. However, if at least one of them was auto, this would have been done for you automatically.

What are the Best Street Photography Camera Settings and Why


There you have it, the street photography settings that the photographers of the past used (sans automatic modes of course) and that many street photographers still use today. But what’s most important is to find out what works best for you and your style of shooting. Try these out. They are tried and true, but nobody said you HAVE to use them. Do what works for you! Be yourself, stay focused, and keep on shooting.

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Why Wireless Tethering Will Improve Your Photography

20 Mar

As a photographer, shooting tethered is one of the best ways to improve your photography skills. Tethering helps you zoom into the details of your shots on a big screen so you can make adjustments as you go. It also encourages collaboration by keeping your photo subject or client engaged if they’re on location with you. In this article, I’ll explain what tethered shooting is and why wireless tethering with an app like CamRanger is the best choice.

What is tethering?

By definition, tethering is when a mobile device shares its internet connection with another device. This can be done through Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or a physical connection cable (e.g. USB). Many mobile phones can tether to share their Wi-Fi with laptops or tablets. Similarly, cameras can tether as well. But in the case of tethered shooting with a camera, the purpose is to transmit images from the camera directly to another device such as a laptop computer or tablet.

CamRanger Wireless Tethering 11

The cheapest and most efficient way to shoot tethered is to use a wired connection. All you need is a standard USB cable that connects to your camera and tethering software such as Capture One, Adobe Lightroom, or DSLR Controller. Wired tethering is very cheap, and it’s extremely quick. There’s practically no delay between pressing the shutter on your camera and seeing the resulting image pop up on your screen. Get more info and a detailed step-by-step guide to wired tethering here.

What is wireless tethering?

However, the main disadvantage with wired tethering is the cable. It can easily get unplugged from your camera or laptop and mess up the tethered connection. The cable can also be a hazard on set, causing you or your photo subject to trip over it. This is where wireless tethering can come in handy. If you shoot on location and can’t be bothered with a cable limiting your movement, wireless tethering is an option you may want to explore.

When you tether wirelessly, you plug a device such as CamRanger into your camera and use it to create a wireless network. Any device such as a laptop or tablet can join that wireless network and your images are transmitted wirelessly every time you press the shutter button. You can even remotely control the camera from your tethered computer or tablet.

CamRanger Wireless Tethering 10

Why CamRanger is the Best Wireless Tethering Device

There are several wireless tethering devices available, and I tried many of them out in search of the one that would work best. My devices requiring connectivity included a Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 6D cameras, Android smartphone, and Apple laptop computer. Although it’s the most expensive, CamRanger is my wireless tethering device of choice. Here’s why:

1. Minimal stuff in the box

The contents in the CamRanger box are very minimal, consisting of just a few cables, a case, simple instructions, and the unit itself. I really loved the zippered case with a carabiner that easily fit all of the items. One thing that would be nice to have is the CamRanger hot shoe mounting device, which has to be purchased separately.

CamRanger Wireless Tethering

2. Intuitive setup

After unboxing CamRanger, setup is pretty simple. Begin by downloading the CamRanger app to your tethering device of choice. Currently, you can download the CamRanger app for iOS (iPhone and iPad), Android devices, Kindle Fire, and both Mac and Windows computers.

Next, switch on the CamRanger device so that it broadcasts a Wi-Fi signal. This might take a minute or two. Then connect your tethering device, with the app installed, to the CamRanger Wi-Fi network using the CamRanger’s serial number as the Wi-Fi password. Boom! You’re ready to shoot!

CamRanger Wireless Tethering 01

CamRanger desktop app allows for wireless tethering and remote camera control.

3. Compatible with Canon and Nikon

CamRanger will work with both Canon and Nikon DSLRs. For a full list of compatible cameras, check out their website.

How CamRanger actually works

Whenever you shoot tethered with CamRanger, the device stores image previews in a cache on your device. The actual files are still written to your camera’s CF or SD memory card like usual. While the wireless transfer of images can definitely be slow, this process can be sped up if you change your camera preferences to shoot in JPG only, or RAW + JPG. Transferring JPG images goes much faster than RAW images.

Another huge benefit of CamRanger is the option to switch the app into Client Mode. This allows you to hand your tethered device over to your client to preview images created in real time, without allowing them to remotely control your camera so you can keep shooting. It’s a clever feature that really adds value.

CamRanger Wireless Tethering 11

In practice, there are a few limitations of CamRanger to be aware of. First, note that wireless tethering still has a limited range of about 100-150 feet. If your camera and connected device drift outside of this range, you risk losing connectivity. Second, CamRanger does have a decent battery life of 5-6 hours by itself, but using it in conjunction with Live View on your camera can drain your camera batteries quickly.

CamRanger Positive Features

  • Very easy to setup and start using immediately
  • Built-in features include focus stacking, bracketing, and intervalometer
  • Minimal pieces, so it is easy to travel with
  • Lets clients easily see my images and give feedback
  • Reduces time in post-processing by making real-time adjustments when shooting
  • Eliminates the long, hazardous USB cable needed for wired tethering

What about built-in Wi-Fi?

If you have a camera with built-in Wi-Fi, you can probably remote control your camera and perform some tethering functions. As an example, I have the Canon 6D DSLR which has Wi-Fi connectivity. This is great for wirelessly transmitting images to my mobile phone and for doing some remote camera control via the Canon Camera Connect mobile phone app. However, no such app exists for my laptop, so I cannot wirelessly connect to my computer without using another device and USB cable. This is why I still use CamRanger to shoot tethered from my laptop, even with my Wi-Fi enabled camera.

CamRanger Alternatives

There are a couple of other popular CamRanger alternatives that also permit you to do wirelessly tethering. I tried both of these options out and found they weren’t nearly as comprehensive or reliable as CamRanger.

  • CamFi
  • Tether Tools Case Air

In Conclusion

Do you shoot tethered? What do you think about the pros and cons of wireless tethered shooting? Let me know in the comments below!

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Erez Marom: On causality in landscape photography

18 Mar

Causality is the relationship between cause and effect – and in landscape photography, this dynamic can help you tell a story, beyond the conventional structures of composition and color.

Considering causality in a landscape image can have a number of advantages. First of all, including a visual indication of cause and effect can provide a through-line, within the composition of an image. Imagine a light source – mostly the sun or the moon in nature photography – on one side of the frame and the light or shadow it casts on the other side. This simple visual element does a great deal to connect the different sections of the image, and the different compositional elements on a higher level than just symmetry or balance.

Causality also adds interest. Images are comprised of several levels. The basic foundational structure is the composition. Beyond that, there’s brightness, color, contrast and similar traits, which bring the compositional elements to life by articulating the more delicate visual intricacies of the photographed subject/s.

Including a cause and effect dynamic can add another level in this hierarchy: not only there are interesting elements and good colors, there’s a story. Story-telling can be hard to achieve in landscape photography, but inclusion of a cause/effect dynamic can immediately introduce a different level of content. Picture an image which includes sun rays and a glacier melting into a river. Maybe it’s just a pretty picture, but maybe you’re telling a story about the threat of global warming.

The sun, reflected on the walls of this ice cave, is what caused it to form. This image tells the story of the glacial melting, and the inclusion of the cause and its effect enriches the picture’s visual appeal.

The final way that a case and effect dynamic can contribute to an image is by what might be called imagined causality: the inclusion of elements which don’t affect each other in real life, but which are placed in such a way that the viewer is encouraged to imagine they might be related.

Take for example the image of Quiver Tree Forest, Namibia at night (above). I call the image ‘Phototaxis’, which is the movement of an organism toward a source of light. Needless to say, the Milky Way isn’t what draws the quiver trees to grow upward, but composing them in this way, using the ultra-wide angle lens to cause them to tilt toward the center of the image, all together with the image’s title, encourage the viewer to imagine the trees being drawn to it.

The quiver trees are thereby humanized, and the anthropomorphism makes the viewer identify and feel a deeper emotional connection to the trees and to the image as a whole, which is turn achieves our goal as photographers: having the viewer look at the image a bit more carefully, and take meaning from it.

If you’d like to experience and shoot some of the most fascinating landscapes on earth with Erez as your guide, you’re welcome to take a look at his unique photography workshops around the world:

Land of Ice – Southern Iceland
Winter Paradise – Northern Iceland
Northern Spirits – The Lofoten Islands
Giants of the Andes and Fitz Roy Hiking Annex – Patagonia
Tales of Arctic Nights – Greenland
Saga of the Seas and The Far Reaches Annex – The Faroe Islands
Desert Storm – Namibia

Selected Articles by Erez Marom:

  • Parallelism in Landscape Photography
  • Behind the Shot: Dark Matter
  • Mountain Magic: Shooting in the Lofoten Islands
  • Behind the Shot: Nautilus
  • Behind the Shot: Lost in Space
  • Behind the Shot: Spot the Shark
  • Quick Look: The Art of the Unforeground
  • Whatever it Doesn’t Take
  • Winds of Change: Shooting changing landscapes
  • On the Importance of Naming Images

Articles: Digital Photography Review (

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10 Step Guide to Improving Your Photography Without Buying New Gear

17 Mar

Will buying that new camera or lens or travel to iconic places automatically result in beautiful images?

Landscape photographers often dream about the latest gear or traveling to far away places to capture great images. For example, places like Iceland, Patagonia, Lofoten Norway, or Tuscany. The problem is that we spend too much time in front of our computers seeing all those great images on social media platforms and dreaming about photographing those vistas ourselves.

10 Step Mini-Guide - How to Improve Your Photography Without Buying New Gear - leading lines

We believe that going to iconic places or buying the latest gear will automatically make us better photographers, or that this is the only way of capturing great imagery. As with any craft, you need to practice, practice, and then do some more practice. This way you’ll have the greatest possibility of taking that fantastic photo, either close to home, or once you finally go away on that travel adventure of your dreams.

Here are my 10 tips for how to improve your photography without buying new gear:

1) Learn the basics about your camera and photography

Start by reading your camera’s user manual. Yes, it’s very basic and should be obvious to everyone, but you would be surprised how often people buy a new camera and start using it right away, thinking that the camera is going to do all the work. Many camera stores also offer beginner courses. Ask your local camera store about this option before deciding to buy from them.

Learn about topics like leading lines, the rule of thirds, exposure compensation, and the relation between aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. I will not go into this in more detail as it would merit a whole book, but these topics are available in printed books, e-books and here on dPS.

Read more here:

  • How to Use Leading Lines Effectively in Landscape Photography
  • 5 Simple Techniques for Leading the Viewer’s Eye in Your Images
  • How to Use Exposure Compensation to Take Control of Your Exposure
  • Mastering the Exposure Triangle for Newbies
  • Understand Exposure in Under 10 Minutes
10 Step Mini-Guide - How to Improve Your Photography Without Buying New Gear - leading lines

Using leading lines.

10 Step Mini-Guide - How to Improve Your Photography Without Buying New Gear - rule of thirds

Using the rule of thirds.

2) Do your photography under the right conditions

A word photography literally means drawing with light (from the Greek photós meaning “light”, and graphê meaning “drawing, writing”). I would say that at least 80 % of your most successful images will be taken during the sunrise or sunset when the quality of light is the best. The other 20 % will be taken during cloudy days when the light is much softer than days with direct sunlight.

Many photographers don’t consider this second aspect enough. When starting out, I would often photograph during sunny days with clear blue skies with hard light that produced too much contrast. Today I try to do as much photography when there’s a shift in the weather pattern from high to low pressure or vice versa. The reason is that during this period there’s often a build up of dramatic clouds and the weather shifts between rain and sun creating more drama in your photos.

I suggest that you regularly check the weather forecasts and try to plan your photography for these days.

10 Step Mini-Guide - How to Improve Your Photography Without Buying New Gear

10 Step Mini-Guide - How to Improve Your Photography Without Buying New Gear

10 Step Mini-Guide - How to Improve Your Photography Without Buying New Gear

10 Step Mini-Guide - How to Improve Your Photography Without Buying New Gear

3) Scout for new locations and return multiple times to the same place

The majority of my best photos are from places very close to home. Most of the time they were not taken on my first attempt, but rather I had to come back many times to the same location before the conditions were right.

Google Earth is a great tool for your initial location scouting as are social media platforms like 500px, Instagram, or Google+. Remember that you should use these sites for inspiration, and not try to copy the same images that have already been taken numerous times before.

4) Change your vantage point

Have you ever considered the vantage point of your photos? The majority of photographers always take photos from the exact same position as they are standing – at eye level. This creates boring photos that all look the same. It’s also the same vantage point from which your viewers see the world.

By crouching down low or shooting from a higher position, like a hill or even from the top of a rock, it will drastically improve your photos. The visual appearance of your photo can dramatically change by just placing your camera a couple of meters in another direction. You should “work the scene” by looking for different viewpoints and not be satisfied with your first choice.

10 Step Mini-Guide - How to Improve Your Photography Without Buying New Gear - low viewpoint

Taken from a low vantage or view point.

10 Step Mini-Guide - How to Improve Your Photography Without Buying New Gear

Shot from a low view point.

10 Step Mini-Guide - How to Improve Your Photography Without Buying New Gear

Taken from a high vantage point.

5) Use your lenses creatively

Use your wide-angle lens for creating depth in your image and your telephoto lens to compress the landscape. Both techniques are very effective and create totally different effects. By trying to pre-visualize how your want your photo to look, your choice of lens will be much easier. This takes time and comes more naturally as you gain greater experience.

For landscape photography, you often want to maximize your depth of field by taking photos between f8 and f/16. You could go higher than that but then you risk having softer images as most lenses have a “soft spot” between these parameters.

You could also try to zoom or move your lens during the exposure. This technique is more a trial and error basis and often you need to take many photos before you’re satisfied. Luckily all your frames in digital photography are free.

10 Step Mini-Guide - How to Improve Your Photography Without Buying New Gear

Use of a wide-angle lens.

10 Step Mini-Guide - How to Improve Your Photography Without Buying New Gear

Use of a longer or telephoto lens.

10 Step Mini-Guide - How to Improve Your Photography Without Buying New Gear

Created by intentionally moving the camera or lens during the exposure.

6) Use the elements in your surroundings to your benefit

Is there is a rock, a tree, strong colors, some leading lines, etc., that you can use to create interest in your image and lead the viewer’s eyes throughout your image?

Because we are fed daily with thousands of images, it becomes important to immediately catch the viewer’s attention and make sure that their mind is stimulated. Therefore, the image should have a clear object, this could be a person or a landmark, which the viewer can quickly identify.

If the photo is too busy with too many conflicting elements, the viewer will become confused and move on to the next image. Less is often better than more. Consider excluding elements that do not add to the image. It could be annoying things like tree branches entering the photo from the corner, paper bags and other waste in the photo, etc.

10 Step Mini-Guide - How to Improve Your Photography Without Buying New Gear

10 Step Mini-Guide - How to Improve Your Photography Without Buying New Gear

10 Step Mini-Guide - How to Improve Your Photography Without Buying New Gear

10 Step Mini-Guide - How to Improve Your Photography Without Buying New Gear

10 Step Mini-Guide - How to Improve Your Photography Without Buying New Gear

7) Invest in good quality accessories instead of buying the latest camera or lenses

There are some camera accessories that are more important than the latest camera or lens.

The single most important one is a good quality tripod. You should not waste your money buying a cheap aluminum tripod that will shake every time you put your camera on it, resulting in useless blurry images. In the end, you’ll be forced to buy a more expensive tripod anyway, adding unnecessary extra costs. Instead, spend the extra money on a quality tripod from Manfrotto, Gitzo, 3 Legged Thing, or any of the other top brands. Trust me, in the end, you will end up saving money.

Another very important accessory for us landscape photographers are filters. You definitely need a good polarizing filter to reduce the reflections on water and other shiny surfaces. Polarizing filters work the same way as your sunglasses.

Cameras are also limited in their ability to handle dynamic range. In short, this means the ability to register the darkest and lightest tones and everything in between. An example of this cis when you’re photographing a landscape and the foreground looks good, but the sky is too bright. This is where the graduated filters come into play. They have a dark and light part with a soft or hard transition in between. Generally, you should use a hard transition filter when photographing seascapes, as there is a clear definition between the sky and the water. A soft transition filter is preferred when photographing landscapes where there are trees, hills or mountains.

I’ve tested many different brands and would highly recommend LEE filters, They are expensive, but in my opinion are worth every penny. Lee also produces two neutral density filters called Little Stopper and Big Stopper. These filters enable you to slow down your shutter speed. When you see those photos with silky smooth water or clouds, most likely the photographer used such a filter.

While these accessories will cost you some money, they will be more of a one-time expense. Taking good care of them means you can use your accessories for many years to come.

8) Photograph in RAW format and learn to use a photo editing program

When photographing in JPG mode you let the camera do all the processing of the image. This means you have less control over the final outcome. It’s better to photograph in RAW format and then use a software like Adobe lightroom to post-process them yourself.

For me, the main reason for shooting in RAW is to have a greater dynamic range so that I’m able to save many images that are otherwise too light or too dark. Of course, it’s important to get the exposure correct from the start, but RAW files definitely give you some room for errors. There is a lot of information about RAW format and post-processing, read;  RAW Versus JPG – Why You Might Want to Shoot in RAW Format and How to Use Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop to Make Your Landscape Images Pop.

9) Learn to focus manually

This is crucial for landscape photography. As mentioned above, you’ll hopefully be taking most of your photos in low light during the morning or evening. You will also be using a tripod to avoid camera shake.

10 Step Mini-Guide - How to Improve Your Photography Without Buying New Gear

During long exposure photography, it becomes very important to focus manually in order to avoid having the focus move during your exposure as is the risk when using autofocus. You should use a small aperture like f/11 and focus about a third of the way into the scene if you desire to have sharpness throughout the frame. Make sure you use your camera’s Live View mode or focus peaking if you own a mirrorless camera, for manual focus assistance.

10) Think before you shoot and study your photos afterward

Often I see photographers arrive at their location, take out their gear, and do the “machine gun “photography approach, taking dozens of photos from the same location over and over again. It’s important to work the scene, moving around looking for the best viewpoints.

The same applies when you’re done editing your photos at home. Try to study your photos and look for improvements. Compare your work with other established photographers to see how you can do things differently next time. This takes time, but after a while, you’ll certainly notice better quality in your work.


These 10 points are just the very basics to get you started. Make sure you search dPS for more information, study photography books, and feel free to leave a comment below or ask any question you might have. Good luck!

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6 Practical Tips to Instantly Make Travel Photography Easier

17 Mar

Documenting exotic places, capturing priceless memories, and recording once-in-a-lifetime experiences are just a few of the pleasures travel photography affords us. But it can also throw up challenges. Time constraints, logistics, and lack of portable storage can make getting the perfect shot far more difficult. Here are a few tried-and-tested tips to help you make those challenges a little more surmountable.

Travel photography tips 01

1. Eliminate the unnecessary

Lack of storage, dubious safety, and the sheer weight of equipment may put the kibosh on your plans of bringing two DSLRs and five lenses to adequately capture your trip. By thinking about how you tend to shoot, you may be able to hone down your kit to just one camera and lens.

Some photographers opt for a fixed focal-length camera like the Fuji X100T. It’s compact, versatile, and good for all-round shooting. But for a photographer who shoots at long focal lengths, it would be a constant source of frustration.

Bridge cameras may provide an alternative, with their versatile zoom ranges in one neat package. Consider your individual needs based on your preferences and narrow down what kit you really need to have with you from what you merely want.

Travel photography tips 02

If you just can’t decide, try this; take one entry-level DSLR with a lens that has a varying zoom length from wide-standard to telephoto and a constant aperture of f/2.8 which is ideal for most situations.

Travel photography tips 03

2. Pick a lens with IS or VR

Each lens manufacturer offers some form of in-built stabilization. Canon has Image Stabilization (IS); Nikon has Vibration Reduction (VR). Choosing a lens that has in-built IS or VR helps when you can only shoot handheld.

When traveling, there are so many times when the perfect shot can only be captured on-the-fly. Unpacking a tripod and fiddling with camera settings may even be entirely out of the question. For moments when the light is low and shooting handheld is all you can do, IS or VR can help reduce shake and potentially save a photo.

Travel photography tips 04

3. Carry a mini-tripod

Slinging a folded down Manfrotto over your back may not be possible, but it also might not be something you’d want to do if you are taking photos in between relaxing moments on your family vacation. Having a portable, mini-tripod in your pocket or bag is a cheap and easy way to get around that issue. A flexible option like the Joby GorillaPod can even help get stable shots from unusual angles without adding too much undue weight to your bag.

Travel photography tips 05

4. Invest in memory and charge those batteries

Don’t come back from your holiday with 700 amazing shots from the first three days and absolutely nothing to show for the remaining week and a half because you ran out of memory. It’s now easier than ever to get lots of data and a fast write speed on one reasonably-priced SD card, so hoard a few of them before you go!

Do the same with batteries. Planning to re-charge every night is a great habit to get into, but don’t rely on that alone. When you end up in a hotel that has no power sources or you realize that you left your adapter in the last place you stayed, you’ll wish you’d invested in a few extra batteries and charged them before you left home.

Travel photography tips 06

5. Shoot for post-processing

We all want great results straight out of the camera. But if you don’t have all the equipment that you need or the time to nail your exposure by toying with intricate histograms, shooting a certain way to enable post-processing can be what helps you get the shot.

Bracketing your exposures and post-processing the final image into HDR when shooting the dimly lit walls of medieval ruins might be the only way to save the deep blue of the hot Mediterranean sky outside the cracked windowpanes. Without that, the blown-out highlights may not be salvageable.

If you don’t have a tilt-shift lens on hand and you can’t sprout wings and fly, shooting wider than usual and then correcting perspective in post-processing may be the only way to save that great shot of the iconic tower you visited.

Travel photography tips 08

6. When in doubt, take the shot

There are many times when you feel that it’s not worth taking the shot. A thousand other photographers may have captured the same view before; you may not have the equipment you need to get the results you want; the weather may have turned sour on the one and only day you got to visit. But regardless of how you feel, take the shot.

If it turns out to be a dud, you just delete it when you get home and you’re in the exact same position as if you hadn’t taken it. But if it turns out to be better than you’d thought, you could have a hidden gem that you hadn’t been expecting. Don’t miss a shot because you feel trapped by circumstance. Just shoot, and the magic will happen.

Travel photography tips 07


I hope these 6 tips have given you some ideas for your travel photography to make your next trip a bit easier.

Do you have any others to add to this list? Please share in the comments below.

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How to Plan and Prepare for Landscape Photography

16 Mar
How to Plan and Prepare for Landscape Photography

Autumn morning in the Alaska Range. Colors peak in late August or early September, if you are planning to catch the fall colors, plan accordingly.

The best images rarely come together on accident. Yes, I know, sometimes serendipity will place you at the perfect spot in the perfect light with all the gear you need and you are able to click away. But that is a darn rare thing. Good images, particularly landscape photography, almost always require a bit of planning. The season, times of day, weather, and your location, should all be considered before you head to the field. Though this is particularly true on multi-day trips, planning can be useful even for shoots around your local area.


I once got an inquiry about one of my private photo workshops from a gentleman who wanted to photograph the northern lights in the mountains of northern Alaska. This is an area I know well and a place I regularly lead photo tours, so I was eager to send along the information he requested. Until I got to his last sentence; he was planning his trip for July.

How to Plan and Prepare for Landscape Photography

A curtain of aurora over the Dalton Highway and Brooks Range of northern Alaska. If you want to see the northern lights, it’s best to not plan a visit in the summer.

In northern Alaska, far north of the Arctic Circle, the sun never sets in midsummer. The northern lights only come out at night. You can see the problem, right?

Though I laugh about it now, I have to give credit to the guy. He contacted me before making his plans, and I was able to set him straight before he bought some expensive plane tickets and ended up on a very disappointing (and likely mosquito-infested) trip to the arctic.

I realize that’s a dramatic example. It’s not as though endless daylight during the arctic summer is a well-guarded secret. That said, for every location you might visit, there are things about seasonality you should know in advance.

How to Plan and Prepare for Landscape Photography

Late autumn in the Brooks Range of northern Alaska means early September.

Research your destination

Do your research. Most parts of the world have cold, wet, dry, or hot seasons and the success of your photos could depend on the season you choose. Think of the types of shots you are hoping to make, and then find out what time of year is best suited to those images. Seasonality is pretty intuitive for most photographers. We generally have a good understanding of how spring, summer, fall and winter relate to our photography. But within those seasons things get a bit murkier.

Let’s return to my aurora borealis example from earlier. Yes, if you want to shoot the northern lights, you’ll need to make your trip to my neck of the woods during a time of year when it gets dark. But there are better and worse times between September and April. Arrive in mid-January, and you may encounter nighttime temperatures of -40 degrees; not a fun photo temp. In addition to being warmer, the times around the spring and fall equinox also coincide with the usual peak of auroral activity. And in the spring, there is less chance of cloud cover. I reiterate – do your research!

Time of Day

How to Plan and Prepare for Landscape Photography

Side light adds drama to the mountains around Haines, Alaska.

This is a big one that often goes overlooked. Most landscape photographers are happiest in the hour or two surrounding dawn and dusk. The light is low and sweet, throwing long shadows across the terrain. But those times vary based on your location.

What are the sunset/sunrise times? Depending on where you are and the time of year, that sweet light may occur late, or early (even the middle of the night here in Alaska during the summer). Long before you head out, look up these times and plan accordingly. A simple Google search will provide this information, as will many GPS devices and smartphone apps.

How to Plan and Prepare for Landscape Photography

Morning fog lifts off the forest and pastures of Chiloe Island, Chile.

How will the light fall on the landscape? If you want to capture the mountains with a certain kind of light (backlight, sidelight, front light) then you need to know not only the time of the sunrise or sunset but where it will set in relation to your subject. More than once, I’ve been shooting in the evening and found my subject draped in bland, gray shadows and wished the light was coming from the opposite direction.

Look at maps, see how your locations are situated, and keep in mind both time of year AND time of day, since both will impact how the light falls.


How to Plan and Prepare for Landscape Photography

Bad weather isn’t always bad. During a winter storm, a break in the clouds allowed this patch of sun to hit the mountains of southeast Alaska.

This is a short-term planning tool, but can help a few days out from your shoot. Honestly, I’m hesitant to include weather in this article because forecasts are occasionally wrong enough, and besides, thelandscape photography opportunities in bad weather can be amazing. Usually it’s best just to go out anyway and see what you can find.

However, by paying attention to the forecast, you may be able to moderate your expectations or plan around any undesirable weather. Trips I lead to go shoot the aurora are perfect examples of this. Clouds are bad when it comes to astral photography, but the weather isn’t uniform across a big landscape. Just because it is cloudy locally, doesn’t mean an hour away that it isn’t clear. By paying attention to weather forecasts and conditions, you can plan to adjust locations or change dates.

Location Scouting

Once on your site, it’s never a bad idea to go out for a hike, or drive and check out the good compositions before the sweet light of evening hits. Sadly time, commitments, and life in general may not allow you to get out and scout. Fortunately, there is a digital solution that can help: GoogleEarth. Using GoogleEarth you can check out the places you’d like to shoot, get driving times, and (my favorite part) use the street-view function to get an idea of how the landscape will look from the ground. Using this, I’ve actually found the exact spots and compositions for images I hoped to make.

How to Plan and Prepare for Landscape Photography

I went out for an ill-advised hike in a thunderstorm in Denali National Park, but it resulted in the brightest rainbow I’ve ever seen hanging over the tundra below.


The internet is full of information, and a few well-worded searches will get you much of what you need to know. But the internet will never be better than personal experience. Reach out to photographers familiar with the area you hope to visit. Social media is a great way to find shooters who know your destination. From there it is a simple matter of sending some questions via email or a message. It’s extremely rare that someone isn’t willing to share what they know, provide advice, and point you in the right direction. This can also be a great way to make connections, and even friendships.


How to Plan and Prepare for Landscape Photography

Northern lights over the mountains of the Brooks Range, Alaska.

Consider your photographic goals for the location you are planning to shoot, then do your research. Ask the right questions of the people who know, and you’ll have a much better chance of success when you hit the field. Plus you won’t feel foolish when you show up in the middle of the arctic summer to photograph the northern lights.

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Movement in Fashion Photography

15 Mar

  One thing that I love to see in a photograph is movement.  Movement  makes a photograph come alive, but is also  one of the hardest things to portray.  Newer photographers have a lot to deal with, settings wise, and might not  know how to tell the models to move, and newer models have it stuck in their heads not Continue Reading

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How to Enhance your Black and White images with Infrared Photography

09 Mar

This article will give you some tips on how you can enhance your black and white images by using infrared photography.

Enhancing your Black and White images with Infrared Photography

Infrared photography for something different

Are you a fan of black and white photography? Like many, I love a good black and white image. The mood you can exude from the shadows and light always fascinates me.

When I was new to photography, I mostly avoided black and white landscapes. I used it mainly a handy way to hide the sporadically bizarre white balance my old Olympus EPL1 used to occasionally surprise me with.

Infrared photography (IR) also took a while to attract my attention. I wasn’t a huge fan of the typical false colour images, but quite liked the black and white IR photos, particularly the work of Simon Marsden. If you haven’t explored his portfolio of dark and atmospheric infrared film photography, you are missing something unique.

Anyway, after a while, I started doing more black and white landscape images, and eventually followed the urge to get into IR images purely for their unique monochrome potential.

Enhancing your Black and White images with Infrared Photography

I went down the path of buying a modified camera off Ebay. You can buy anything from a point and shoot to a full frame DSLR, and everything in between. If you have an old body you can always get it converted, but it’s worth checking the cost against buying one that’s already been modified.

I picked up an Olympus EPM1 for around AUD $ 300 ($ 230 USD). The advantage for me was being able use the same lenses and batteries I already had for the EPL1.

Why buy a modified camera rather than use IR filters?

Filters are a great and relatively inexpensive way to get into IR photography, but they have their limitations.

The main attraction of a modified camera is that you are not limited to the long exposures needed for an IR filter. You can capture sharp images in any conditions, and can be more creative with your exposures (e.g. pick the perfect shutter speed for moving water). You can shoot handheld from any point of view without being limited by a tripod.

Enhancing your Black and White images with Infrared Photography

It is also much quicker. When using filters, you need set your focus before attaching the filter which can become tiresome.

I used to take my IR camera with me for a run along the river. Without the need for a tripod, I could travel light and take quick photos whenever an interesting composition presented itself.

Enhancing your Black and White images with Infrared Photography

What can infrared photography bring do for a landscape photographer?

Perhaps the most striking characteristics of infrared photography are the typical white vegetation, black water, and dark skies. You can create punchy, high contrast images. The middle of the day works best for these type of shots. Perfect for those landscape photographers that hate early mornings!

If you like capturing the complex patterns in clouds, you’ll find that the black skies really allow the clouds to stand out.

Enhancing your Black and White images with Infrared Photography

IR also gives you clarity. Any haze visible to the eye tends to disappear in infrared photography. So you can achieve a very crisp and contrasty look.

Enhancing your Black and White images with Infrared Photography

The deciding factor for me was tone. I found the infrared monos gave me a wonderful palette of greys and blacks to work with, particularly for trees and vegetation. The balance between light and dark just seems easier to manage in infrared and really lets you produce some unique images.

Enhancing your Black and White images with Infrared Photography Enhancing your Black and White images with Infrared Photography


So what processing should you use for infrared photography? The short answer is not much really. Experiment to find out what works for you.

Myself, I don’t normally use Lightroom or Photoshop, so my workflow may be a little different than yours. But the principles will be the same.

I import my raw images into Corel’s AfterShot Pro, which is a handy little raw file editor. Here I’ll straighten the image, adjust the exposure, and maybe increase the contrast if required. My infrared raw files come into AfterShot Pro displaying blue-grey hues, which is a good starting point for me. From here I export them as TIFFs into PaintShop Pro.

PaintShop Pro has a “Black and White Film” effect that lets you apply a colour filter to your image. Changing your filter between blue, red, and green gives a different result.

From here it is a matter of personal taste adjusting the light and dark of your image, the white and black points to suite the image, and maybe applying curves as appropriate.

Enhancing your Black and White images with Infrared Photography Enhancing your Black and White images with Infrared Photography

What is the Secret Sauce?

Infrared photography is wonderfully clean and crisp. But what if you love that IR film look with a ghostly flare?
Don’t worry. PaintShop Pro has it in the bag. They have an “Infrared Film” effect that was probably created to make ordinary images look a bit infrared-ish.

But when you apply it to a proper infrared image as a starting point, you get a wonderful controlled flare effect. It doesn’t quite match the often spooky and surreal results Simon Marsden achieved with IR film, but it does get you a lot closer than anything else.

Enhancing your Black and White images with Infrared Photography

Enhancing your Black and White images with Infrared Photography

The flare can be applied to give a sense of mystery, mood, and surrealness that is hard to replicate any other way.
Enhancing your Black and White images with Infrared Photography

Are there any downsides to infrared photography?

Not really. The only big drawback you’ll find is that you cannot use your favourite filters. Standard neutral density and polarizers do not work in the IR spectrum. If you sky is very bright and your subject is dark, you’ll just have to blend a few different exposures. Shooting in RAW of course gives you more leeway, but my Olympus files are not as forgiving as my Nikon files when recovering blown highlights.

Enhancing your Black and White images with Infrared Photography

The only other thing I notice is that some people get so enamoured by the white leaves and black sky effect that they forget to put their attention on the composition. Yes, everything looks cool in IR, but don’t take pictures of everything. Aim for strong compositions and uncluttered images. IR really shines with a minimalist approach.

Enhancing your Black and White images with Infrared Photography

Many dismiss infrared photography as an oddity; a strange niche that is a bit too left of centre for them. Others just think it is too hard and expensive to get into.

But if you like creating black and white images that stand out from the crowd, I’d suggest you have a crack at it. You’ll find it a challenge but also quite rewarding.

Enhancing your Black and White images with Infrared Photography

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