Posts Tagged ‘Tips’

Video Tutorials – Portrait Posing Tips

23 Feb

Taking portraits is a challenging genre of photography, but add in posing and it can seem insurmountable if you’re just starting out in photography. Here are three videos I found to help you with some portrait posing tips. Practice with a friend and see tell us how it goes.

How to pose a single portrait

In this video excerpt from a class, you’ll see how the photographer works with a single model. She helps him get comfortable in front of the camera and create poses that are flattering to him.

How to pose (direct) couples

In this video from Mango Street, you will see how to gently direct a couple in how to pose. Giving them a few suggestions and tips and letting them fall into their own comfortable pose makes the images look more natural.


How to pose people to get rid of a double chin

Finally, in this last video, photographer Joe Edelman shows several tips for posing to flatter your subject and get rid of or minimize a double chin. Where you position the camera is also important, taking a higher position can be helpful for posing.


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Tips for Getting Sharper Real Estate Interior Photographs

23 Feb

Photography is a key part of advertising a property for real estate sales. But just as stunning images show the property looking its best, the opposite is also true. Poor photography, with blurred, sloping rooms, and out of focus images does little to inspire viewings.

Here are some basic, but important, steps to help you improve the quality of your interior photos. You’ll see what causes photographs to turn out blurry, and get some handy tips on equipment and techniques to avoid falling into these traps.

Preparing for the shoot

The best techniques for getting sharp photographs can be let down by poorly working equipment, or badly chosen or untidy scenes. So it’s important to start your session with good preparation and follow your check-list. Here are a few things that should be on your list.

1. Check your equipment

Make sure your equipment is okay, batteries are charged, extra lights working, tripod joints tight and in good condition, and that the lens is completely clean. Loose tripod joints, broken lights, and dirty lenses make problems for you later, so good preparation is worthwhile.

2. Make sure everything is clean and tidy

Dirty windows still look dirty in photographs, so take a household cleaning cloth and some glass cleaner. Cleaning everything is always easier than removing debris in post-production.

3. Set the scene

Tidy and set the scene, removing unwanted items from window sills, adjusting furniture positions and cleaning the windows. Don’t forget to look through the window too – a washing line of underwear probably isn’t what your client wants to see!

Think about the final image and what you want, then keep that in your mind throughout the photography session.

Using a tripod

Three common issues ruin a real estate photograph: blur, poor focus, and sloping rooms.

Blur and bad focus often come from camera movement during the long exposures you need when photographing interiors. Rooms appear sloping when the camera is not level.

You can resolve all three problems by securely mounting the camera on a sturdy tripod, which is why a tripod is highly recommended when photographing interiors.

Here are some pro tips for using a tripod:

  • Hang your camera bag from the center of the tripod (if it has a hook, as seen above) to increase stability.
  • Set the tripod exactly where you’ve decided to take the photographs, and extend the thicker sections of the legs first as they provide most stability. Avoid extending the center column as this is the least stable section and will reduce the stability of the tripod.
  • Give the tripod a gentle prod to make sure it won’t slip on the floor or wobble.
  • Mount the camera on the tripod, ensuring that the base plate and mounting are tight and cannot move around.
  • Adjust the tripod head until the camera is perfectly level and the image doesn’t slope to the left or the right. By getting the camera level, you ensure the room won’t look as if it slopes sideways.

For more on getting sharp images with a tripod, read: 5 Tips to Get Sharp Photos While Using a Tripod.

Eliminating sources of camera shake

There are also other sources of blurriness in photos. One of these is called mirror shake.

DSLR cameras have a mirror which sits in front of the camera sensor and helps you see the view through the lens by reflecting the image up to the eyepiece (through a prism). The mirror snaps up and out of the way when you take the photo, creating vibrations that can cause blurring.

You can eliminate this problem by setting it in the up position before taking any photographs. Look in your camera menu for the Mirror LockUp setting.

Left: The mirror is down in this image. Right: the mirror is up here exposing the camera’s sensor.


With good preparation and technique, and the right equipment, you can consistently get sharp, crisp interior photographs. When you set out to capture that image, remember:

  • Set the scene by making the room look neat and clean.
  • Make good use of a tripod.
  • Choose an appropriate lens.
  • Keep your camera stable and free from vibration.

The video tutorial expands on some of these tips, as well as showing other helpful hints for getting sharp photographs like choosing an appropriate lens and focusing correctly.

Watch the video to learn more about tripods, lenses, focusing, and keeping the camera steady.

Please share any other tips you have for taking sharper interior photographs of real estate in the comments area below.

Disclaimer: HDRsoft is a paid partner of dPS

The post Tips for Getting Sharper Real Estate Interior Photographs by David Robinson appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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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!

Photography in National Parks -1

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.

Photographing National Parks -2

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.)

 Photographing National Parks -7

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.

Photographing National Parks - 11

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.

Photographing National Parks -12

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.


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.

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6 Tips for How to Photograph Waterfalls

22 Feb

Waterfalls are some of the most beautiful natural features you will ever get the chance to photograph and are a very popular subject for landscape photographers. Photographing waterfalls provides a great way to get outdoors and explore nature.

 Tips for How to Photograph Waterfalls

There is something magical about the patterns and sounds of flowing water that really heighten your senses and make you feel at one with nature. Although waterfalls look great, you may be wondering well how do I photograph them? Here are six tips to help you on your way.

1 – Get the right equipment

You will be better equipped to photograph waterfalls if you have the right equipment. A wide-angle lens is essential to broaden the angle of view and ensure you are able to photograph the whole waterfall. You will also be able to get up close to the falls rather than photographing them from a distance.

Once you have found a great waterfall and have the right equipment to capture it, you are ready to take some photographs.

6 Tips for How to Photograph Waterfalls

2 – Experiment with different shutter speeds

So now that you have the gear, how do you take photos that capture the authenticity and beauty of the scene?

When photographing waterfalls, finding the ideal shutter speed involves a lot of experimenting. This step is all about trial and error, which is part of the fun. Try taking shots with different shutter speeds and check out the results to see the differences.

I would recommend taking pictures with both fast and slow shutter speeds ranging from between 1/500th of a second to a few seconds and see which style of image you prefer.

3 – Freeze motion

How you shoot waterfalls effectively depends on the look and feel of the image you are trying to achieve. If you want to capture the water in a static way, you will need to choose a fast shutter speed to freeze the motion of the water. This isolates the water in motion and gives a very different result to using an extended shutter speed.

See the difference between the three images below and how the change in shutter speed affects the water. (Images courtesy of dPS Managing Editor, Darlene Hildebrandt)

ISO 100, f/4, no ND filter, 1/640th of a second.

ISO 100, F/22, o.3 sec with ND filter

ISO 100, F/22, 1.3 sec with ND filter

4 – Blur motion

Using a slow shutter speed will help you to capture the water’s movement. You will find that the longer the shutter is open, the smoother the water will be. Be careful not to use a shutter speed that is too slow if the water is very fast flowing as the water may become one large white mass without any definition.

6 Tips for How to Photograph Waterfalls

Generally, you will obtain better results by using an extremely slow shutter speed of over a second. However, this will not be possible if you are hand holding the camera due to excessive camera shake, which brings us to the next tip.

5 – Use a tripod

Investing in a tripod will help to keep the camera more stable and enhance your chances of getting good images. The main advantage of using a tripod is that you are more likely to capture images of waterfalls that are sharper as the camera is less prone to movement during slower exposures.

Using a tripod will allow you to use slower shutter speeds to give you a smoother look and feel to your waterfall images. Images captured using long shutter speeds tend to look more dramatic and the silky water looks more appealing and pleasing to the eye.

If you do not have a tripod, you could set your camera on a stone or some other object to capture part or all of the waterfall.

6 Tips for How to Photograph Waterfalls

6 – Use a polarizing filter

One of the best ways to add some color to your images is to use a polarizing filter. This is a great way to deepen colors by increasing their saturation. But be aware that the polarizer also cuts the amount of light entering the camera, and thus increases your exposure by up to two stops of light.

6 Tips for How to Photograph Waterfalls

Polarizers also help to eliminate glare and reflections from the surface of the water and can be used to increase contrast. This is especially true when shooting during the day in bright conditions.

When adding a polarizer, the water you capture should become blurred, depending on how fast it is flowing. The advantage to using a polarizer is that you can increase the exposure time and slow the shutter speed, as the amount of light going through the lens is decreased. This allows you to create images with motion and silky-smooth water action.

Your turn

With these practical tips, it’s time for you to get out there and start photographing your next waterfall!

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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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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.


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


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.


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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How to Capture a Winter Wonderland – Essential Tips for Photographing Snow

08 Feb

There’s nothing quite like waking up to the winter’s first snow covering the landscape. It’s an amazing transformation that affects everything from light and sound to mood. Whether you’re interested in nature photography, abstract photography, or portraits, winter is a fantastic time to do something different!

01 winter photography tips

Snow offers a lot to the willing photographer. The unique light, the brilliance of the white, the refreshed feeling you get when a fresh blanket of snow covers the ground, the low temperatures — the opportunities (and challenges) are endless. In this article, I hope to help you prepare with some essential tops for photographing snow so you can get started on your wintery outdoor adventure. So let’s get to it!

Before you set out

Before you grab your camera and run outside to capture your wintery landscape, there are some very important things to remember. First of all, you need to get dressed, and you need to do it well. Wear several layers of clothing rather than just one very warm layer. Put on shoes that will keep you warm and dry and don’t forget gloves and a hat!

02 winter photography tips

It’s important that you’re dressed warmly, but who said anything about your models?

When you’re certain you’ll stay warm for long enough to be able to enjoy the snow, make sure you grab some extra batteries. The cold weather will drain the camera’s batteries surprisingly quickly. Keep the extra batteries close to your body (preferably your torso), inside your clothing, to keep them from getting cold and discharging faster.

Now you’re ready to head out!

03 winter photography tips

Practical things to keep in mind while you’re rolling in the snow

Once you’ve stepped out the door, there are some things you should keep in mind to make your photography excursion as comfortable as possible for you, and as safe as possible for your gear.

Be sure to stay warm. Taking photos often means you’ll be standing (or lying) still for a long time. So if you’re getting cold, get up and move around a bit. Also pay attention to your toes and fingers, as they can get really cold even if the rest of you is warm and cozy.

04 winter photography tips

Use protection

It’s also important to protect your eyes. Especially if it’s cloudy it might seem like there isn’t actually that much light. But as snow reflects light very effectively your eyes can easily get damaged without you even noticing. This is called snow blindness and the best way to avoid it is to wear sunglasses.

Yes, sunglasses, in the winter, even when it’s cloudy! It sounds crazy, but ask anyone who spends a lot of the winter outdoors and they’ll agree. And, of course, you’ll also look cool.

05 winter photography tips

To protect your gear, it’s important to keep snow off of it. Once the snow melts, it can damage your camera, your lenses, as well as other electronics. Keep the gear you’re not using in a bag, and remove any snow from your camera before you go indoors. Also, if it’s snowing while you’re out photographing, be careful so it doesn’t get on your lens and end up as big blurry blobs in your photos.

Technical aspects and tips

So let’s get to the bit that’s actually interesting, the photography itself. There are some basic technical aspects to keep in mind while you’re photographing snow, but I’ll also bring up some ideas for how to enjoy your snow white photography to its fullest.

1. Overexpose

If the world around you is more or less completely white, and you’re not going for a drab kind of image, you need to overexpose by at least one stop. This will give you a photograph that looks more like what you saw with your bare eyes, as well as one that captures the magical atmosphere of winter.

11 winter photography tips

2. Pay attention to shutter speed

As always, you need to use your shutter speed intelligently to capture the scene the way you want to. In winter, it’s good to remember to use a very short exposure time if you want to freeze falling snow, and to play around with slower shutter speed if you’re trying to capture drifting snow moving across a landscape.

07 winter photography tips

3. Look for contrast

In a completely white world, you might have to look quite hard to find something to contrast with the snow. Contrast is interesting, though, so keep your eyes and mind open.

To add colour contrast, look for something colourful or wait for sunset when the blue of the shadows and the warm colours of the sun mingle. If you find moving water, contrasting the stillness of the snow with the rushing water can add a lot to your image.

08 winter photography tips

06 winter photography tips

09 winter photography tips

4. Try something different

Like any season, winter offers a diversity of photo opportunities. Snow can be a great way to create negative space in your image. It is a great way to really bring out your subject or to create a calm atmosphere.

10 winter photography tips

You can also try to go beyond the obvious to find the treasures that are hiding in your winter wonderland. Go from landscape photos to close-ups, from strong color contrast to black and white, from a classical winter landscape to a surprising take on the season…

Don’t let the weather stop you, and remember to have fun and tell an interesting story with your photos.

12 winter photography tips


What do you think is the best thing about photographing snow? Do you have any fun or informative experiences to share? I’d love to hear your thoughts and see your snowy creations in the comments below/

The post How to Capture a Winter Wonderland – Essential Tips for Photographing Snow by Hannele Luhtasela-el Showk appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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3 Key Tips for Making More Dynamic Photos

07 Feb

Do you find it difficult to make photographs which stand out and truly resonate with the people who view them? Let me share with you three key ways you can practice that will change your photographic experience and will assist you in making more dynamic photos.

Two Kayan long neck women laughing - 3 Key Tips for Making More Dynamic Photographs

Two Kayan friends share a joke in Chiang Mai, Thailand, Asia.

1. Know your subject – don’t just know about them

Research, understand and relate to your subject. Communicate with your subject – whether that be a person, pet or place, (or anything else,) you need to relate to and have rapport your subject.

The more knowledge and understanding you have of your subject the easier it will be for you to make compelling photographs of it or them. Sometimes, as is common with travel photography, having a fresh perspective on a subject will allow you to capture it in a way an expert may not see. But generally having some education about your subject will aid you in producing better, more dynamic photos.

Kayan girl having fun playing with soap bubbles. - 3 Key Tips for Making More Dynamic Photographs

Kayan girl having fun playing with soap bubbles.

Develop an intuitive sense

Knowing your subject well will give you more opportunity to get an intuitive sense of when it’s the right time to make a picture. Knowing and being passionate about your subject will help you develop your intuition.

Being comfortable with your subject, even if you do not know it so well, will also help you to create more interesting and unique photographs of that subject. Having the ability to really focus in on your subject, observing them carefully, the surroundings, the lighting and any activity associated with them, will help you to develop a meaningful connection.

This is something that can sometimes happen quite quickly and at other times will need to be developed over a longer duration.

Kayan girl with a front tooth missing. 3 Key Tips for Making More Dynamic Photographs

Kayan girl with a front tooth missing.

2. Don’t Focus on your equipment

“The fact is that relatively few photographers ever master their medium. Instead they allow the medium to master them and go on an endless squirrel cage chase from new lens to new paper to new developer to new gadget, never staying with one piece of equipment long enough to learn its full capacities, becoming lost in a maze of technical information that is of little or no use since they don’t know what to do with it.” – Edward Weston

There’s a lot to be said for knowing your camera equipment well and being confident using it like you’ve mastered it. Being in control of your gear and being competent using it so that your focus can be immersed on your subject allows you to connect in a more meaningful way because you are not distracted. Achieving this ability takes nothing more than a little study and a whole lot of practice.

Porter at a fresh market in Chiang Mai, Thailand. 3 Key Tips for Making More Dynamic Photographs

Porter at a fresh market in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Use camera settings you’re comfortable with

Using camera settings you are comfortable with releases you to give more attention to your subject. When you work with camera equipment you are not familiar with or maybe when you first start trying to understand and use manual mode, your focus will be on your camera, not on your subject.

Becoming familiar with a camera and how to work with it confidently takes concentrated practice. Just as a musician will not take the stage and play a brand new song they’ve written without practicing it well first. Neither should you expect stunning results from a camera or technique you are not familiar with and well practiced at doing. Sure, sometimes you can get lucky, but to be consistently good you need to practice a lot.

Buddhist nun standing at the temple window - 3 Key Tips for Making More Dynamic Photographs

Buddhist nun standing at the temple window.

Balance the technical and creative aspects

Balancing the technical and creative aspects of photography is challenging for most people. You are generally either more technically oriented and love learning how to use your new equipment or you are more creatively oriented without much interest in learning to understand all the bells and whistles on your camera.

Be mindful that photography is a creative process which requires a complicated tool. Even if you are using the most basic of cameras you must command a certain amount of technical skill to produce pleasing results regularly. To grow as a photographer and develop your own style, you will need to find a happy balance of the technical and creative aspects of this art form.

close up of a man riding a tricycle taxi with a strong shadow in Chiang Mai, Thailand. 3 Key Tips for Making More Dynamic Photographs

Tricycle taxi abstract

Aim to capture mood and feeling

Aim to capture mood and feeling in your photographs by giving as much of your attention to the technical settings as to the feeling you have and how you want to portray your subject. If you set your camera so your exposure is good and you have as much depth of field as you want, you will be free to connect with your subject. This will give you more freedom to get a real feeling for what you are doing which will resonate in your photographs.

Reaching beyond the technical and concentrating your creative energy on the subject you will produce photographs which draw in your audience. They will be able to experience and feel the relationship you have with your subject.

portrait of a red head teenage boy - 3 Key Tips for Making More Dynamic Photographs

3. Follow your passion

“Your connection with the world is unique” – Martin Parr

This is why people who photograph subjects they are passionate about will typically produce more creative, interesting pictures than someone who photographs a subject they have no real interest in or connection with.

My wife takes far better photos of flowers than I do. She is passionate about flowers, she loves growing them. She has a lot of knowledge about flowers and flowering trees. Taking care of them and making sure they have the best conditions in which to flourish is important to her. She consistently makes far more beautiful and creative photographs of flowers than I do because she is passionate about them. They may not always be technically correct, but they are made with feeling and convey that feeling.

pink orchid flowers - 3 Key Tips for Making More Dynamic Photographs

Photo by: Pansa Landwer-Johan

Have a deeper, more soulful relationship

When you have a deeper, more soulful relationship with your subject, you will naturally make more interesting, creative photographs as well. Your connection with the world is unique. No one else sees things and experiences life as you do. By applying your unique perspective and conveying this through your photographs they will resonate more strongly with people who view them.

You may even find you pay less attention to technical aspects as you genuinely begin to follow your feelings and become immersed in photographing your chosen subject. Enjoying photography in this manner can be deeply therapeutic. As you begin to concentrate totally and follow the flow of your feelings toward your subject everything else will become secondary, nothing else will matter.

At times like this, you must take extra care to be aware of your own safety. Many times I have stepped back onto a road, come close to stepping backward off a jetty and had wet shoes because I stepped in a puddle. I was so focused on what I was photographing and not paying much attention to anything else. So please take care!

Woman in the mist with a red scarf over her head an shoulders - 3 Key Tips for Making More Dynamic Photographs

A practical example

When I visited the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey, I went looking for a quarter I’d read about where craftspeople still produce copper wares using traditional methods. I love photographing people engaged in creative activities and I had never photographed people making copper goods.

I eventually discovered the right location and found three men in a small workshop. Two of them were putting finishing touches to some beautifully crafted artworks.

3 Key Tips for Making More Dynamic Photographs

I politely approached and using gestures and showing them my camera, as we had no common language, I was welcomed in and made to feel comfortable. I showed an interest in what these men were doing and they were comfortable with my presence. The older man even gave me a glass of Turkish tea. I quickly became engrossed making photographs of the creative process I was witnessing.

3 Key Tips for Making More Dynamic Photographs

Despite having no prior experience with this subject I was still able to connect with the men and easily relate to what they were doing. Eventually, a fourth man entered the workshop and he spoke some English so I was able to ask how many generations this family had been working with copper. After a considerable amount of discussion all three men, who were cousins and father/uncle, looked at me and shrugged their shoulders. Their tradition had been in their family longer than they could tell me.

3 Key Tips for Making More Dynamic Photographs

Sadly, the fourth man who had joined us was a buyer. He told me he wanted to push the price the craftsmen were asking for their artworks down and was threatening to steal their designs and mass produce them in his factory (which now mass produces lamps, coffee pots, urns and other goods which were traditionally made in small, family-owned workshops.) As he told me this story I continued to photograph with the aim of capturing the mood of the conversation.

3 Key Tips for Making More Dynamic Photographs

In conclusion

Connecting with your subject in a meaningful manner will support and enhance your creative process. Knowing your subject in advance, or adapting quickly to relate to it in a short time, gives you a depth of connection that is not likely if you are distant and non-communicative.

Being technically competent enough to not spend most (or even some) of your attention on your equipment will release you to develop your connection with your subject.

portrait of a young Kayan girl in Chiang Mai, Thailand. - 3 Key Tips for Making More Dynamic Photographs

Young Kayan girl without her neck rings on.

Being passionate about your chosen subject will favor you to go that much deeper and further without distractions to create more interesting and more creative photographs.

The most effective way to learn these things is to choose a subject that you can photograph many times, preferably one that you enjoy. If your chosen subject is a person, one who enjoys being photographed. Make time to photograph your subject as often as you find enjoyment in the creative process and develop a feeling for the technical settings of your camera. Doing this will help you to learn more about your subject and hopefully, you’ll become more passionate in the process as well.

Watch the video below to see this in action.


The post 3 Key Tips for Making More Dynamic Photos by Kevin Landwer-Johan appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Tips for Better Smartphone Photography

03 Feb

Everyone has a camera nowadays. If you have a smartphone, you have a camera. Many of them take great photos, full of color and clarity. But what can you do to take your smartphone photography to the next level? Here are 3 videos with some tips to help you out.

7 Smartphone Photography Tips & Tricks

In this video from Serge Ramelli, you get some practical and easy to apply tips to help you elevate your smartphone photography.


The 101 of Smartphone Photography from COOPH

Here are a few more ideas from the crew over at COOPH who consisting have great video tips.


9 Smartphone photography tips from B&H Photo Video

Finally, here are 9 more tips from Larry Becker and B&H Photo Video.


If you still haven’t gotten enough tips for better smartphone photography here are some dPS articles to help:

  • 9 of the Best Apps to Help You Do Awesome Mobile Phone Photography
  • 9 More Great Apps You Need for Your Smartphone
  • How to Get Stunning Macro Photos with Your Mobile Phone
  • Lightroom Mobile – The Secret to Shooting and Editing on Your Smartphone
  • Review: Struman Lenses for Mobile Phones

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Eight tips for photographing your first hot air balloon festival

01 Feb

This article was originally published on Elliot Nahm’s website, and is being republished in full here on DPReview with express permission from Elliot.

Ah, you’ve just received your first camera over the holiday season, and you’re itching to use it. Or, perhaps you’re just looking for something new to photograph this year. Well, allow me to make a suggestion: You should go photograph a hot air balloon festival!

Why hot air balloons? I personally enjoy their vibrant colors against the sky; it’s a pleasure for me to meet the pilots, and their crew; and, last but certainly not least, it’s fun to fly in them!

Some of you may be surprised that these festivals have already been happening in the winter. It should come as no surprise, though, that the number of events ramp up as the weather gets warmer. Check out for information of any events near you.

To be frank, I’m no master of photography, and there are bigger names photographing hot air balloons. However, these tips should still help make your first hot air balloon festival a more photographically enjoyable experience.

Note: these tips apply more for festivals based in the United States. I understand that other countries do some things differently, but many of the tips should still apply.

More days, better chances

I’m going to start with the most important tip of all. Try attending as many days as possible for the best chances of getting great photos. Hot air balloon festivals typically happen for at least two days, usually over a weekend. Larger events can span the entire week. Understandably, this can be difficult to budget time for, but the time isn’t just for photos, it’s also to account for weather.

To many peoples’ dismay, hot air balloons cannot just fly whenever. High winds, rain, smoke, etc. can all prevent mass ascensions (many balloons flying together), and balloon glows (balloons glowing at night) from occurring. Balloon festivals play it very safe, and generally do not fly if winds are above 8 miles per hour (12.9 kph). You may be at an event that only flies once out of their allotted days.

I personally was at the Lake Havasu Balloon Festival & Fair this year when high winds canceled all six flights. Weather happens, and the more days you have, the better your chances of a successful day.

Get close

This tip is in almost every type of photography guide out there, and it still applies to balloons. Get close! I’ve seen so many people stand way out on the edge of the field using their cameras at the widest focal length possible. Then they pull out their smartphones, and take the same picture. C’mon, folks, you’ve already put so much money into a camera, why use it in the same pedestrian way as you would with your smartphone?

Get onto that field and get closer to the action.

Photograph the pilots, and the crew. Capture the detail in the balloon fabric. Witness the shadows from inside of the balloons. Do something more than just being an observer. Wide shots from the edge of the field have their place, but recognize that many other people already have that angle covered.

While being up close, be courteous, and follow pilot and crew instructions. I will list some DO NOTs that you need to heed:

  • Do not step on the balloon fabric. Just play it safe, and don’t touch the balloon.
  • Do not smoke by the balloons. There have been many cases of carelessly tossed cigarettes burning holes into the fabric.
  • Do not bring pets near the balloons. There have been many cases of claws tearing the fabric.
  • Do not stand on, or cross, laying ropes. Always go around.
  • Do not peek inside of the balloon without asking crew and pilot permission first. You may be getting in the way.
  • Do not get in the way of the crew.
  • Do not stand right behind the basket when the pilot starts shooting flames. You will get crushed.
  • Do not be in the flight path during take off. Flight directors, or crew, will try to clear the area—follow their instructions.

I empathize that a list of DO NOTs doesn’t give much credence that this is a fun subject to photograph. This is all about safety though, and we should all take safety seriously.

Note: some festivals actually fence observers off from the field. In that case, you need to start planning, and the next tips can help with that.

Find a prominent feature

Is there a body of water, or some cliffs near the launch field? If so, you want to keep an eye on balloons approaching those areas. Many pilots aim for these features, and you can get some of the best shots at these locations.

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At bodies of water, balloonists like to perform a “splash-and-dash” in which the pilot will touch the basket to the surface of the water, and just float there. This provides a great chance for you to get a reflection of the balloon on the water.

For cliffs, pilots like to hang around them, and just go up and down them. If a balloon has a seated pilot instead of a basket, you may find the pilot “running” along the face of the cliff. Pilots also like to fly close to the tree line, or land onto hay stacks to flex their skills. So you may find an amusing moment even if there are no significant land features.

Larger balloon festivals have flight directors. These people give the pilots the “okay” before taking off. You’ll often find these flight directors wearing a uniform that stands out. Taking a photo of them can provide great contrast to the balloons.

Attend the pilot meeting

As a photographer, understanding the conditions the pilots are flying in can help for planning where you want to be. During this meeting, someone will release the “pibal” (pronounced ‘pie-ball’; short for pilot balloon). It’s just a typical party balloon, but it’s a great indicator for how the winds above are behaving.

If, for example, the winds are blowing south, take a note of what’s down there and find a place where you want to be. This information is especially useful if you plan on taking photos away from the launch field. If the mass ascension is canceled… well… go enjoy your breakfast at the nearby Denny’s before everyone else floods it.

The pilot meeting is also a good place to find the opportunity to crew for a balloon which is conveniently the next tip.

Crew for a balloon, and get free flights

Volunteer to crew for a balloon, and you may just have a chance to get a free flight out of it. Commercial flights can cost anywhere from $ 180 USD to $ 450 USD, so if you can fly for free, you had better take that opportunity. Understand, though, that crewing does not always guarantee a flight. Sometimes the pilot will already have paying passengers, and you may never fly. Still, your chances are pretty decent, and a chance to fly for free is definitely better than none.

While crewing, consider having your camera on a sling so that you can use both hands freely to do your duties. If you spot a moment, take a quick snap of it, and continue your crewing. While pilots are grateful for the help, they won’t sign you on again if you don’t do what is asked of you.

Another incentive for crewing is free food. Many festivals cater a few meals for pilots and crew. Pilots often have tailgate parties as well. If you earn your pilot’s trust, you’ll likely be invited to these. Saving money is always good, right?


Whether you pay for a flight or you get it for free by crewing, flying is always a great place to be for taking pictures. Flying in a hot air balloon is quite the different experience in contrast to helicopters or fixed wing aircraft. Because the balloon moves with the wind, you too are moving with the wind, so you don’t really feel it at all. Some passengers find it to be a very odd sensation.

It is tempting to go wide with your shots, just don’t go too wide. In my opinion, making balloons super tiny just doesn’t look too good. Wide angle lens distortion is heavily pronounced on the balloons on the edges, and sometimes the simple lens profile fix isn’t enough to correct it. If the pilot allows for it, bring a telephoto lens as well when you go up.

Note: weight is an issue for ballooning. Sometimes pilots won’t accept a camera bag, or second lens on board to keep things as light as possible. Also, having extra objects in the basket can be a hazard.

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Attend the balloon glow

Although I greatly prefer the mass ascensions, balloon glows are still necessary to having the full experience. You may find photographing the balloon glows more difficult however.

Wide aperture glass is highly recommended, and higher ISO is required. You can attempt to use a long shutter time but, if there’s any breeze, you will have blurry balloons. I personally don’t like to cranking up the ISO so, I get close to the light sources (the balloon burners), and use ISO 1600 or less. I also greatly prefer the colors of the balloons during the day than the glow.

And go again…

If you ever want the best photos of anything, you must keep revisiting it. Sometimes we can get lucky with getting a grand slam of a photo on the first try. Between you, and I though, that rarely happens. If you enjoyed your first balloon festival, go to another one, and another one, and then the same festival again the near year.

Check out for finding out festival information around the world. It’s by far the best resource I’ve come across, and I believe that you too will find it useful.

Whew, what a read, right? Since you’ve made it to the end, congratulations, I guess. For more examples of balloon photos, you can check out my portfolio, Instagram, and my other blog posts. I hope that you find these tips useful, and take fantastic photos at your first balloon festival!

Elliot Nahm is a Denver, CO-based photographer whose ambition is to be able to travel the world, camera in tow. His two great photographic passions are hot air balloons, and the outdoors. You can see more from Elliot on his website, Instagram, and YouTube channel.

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