Archive for June, 2018

Leica introduces new features and enhancements to five cameras in mass firmware release

30 Jun

Leica has released new firmware for five of its camera models, making significant changes to the way existing features operate while also adding totally new functions in some cases. The updates effect the M10 rangefinder, the Q compact and the new CL, as well as the TL2 and the T/TL.

The highlights of the update include allowing four minute exposure times in the M10 at base ISO, and the addition of aperture value recording in the camera’s EXIF data – even though it will be an estimate. Q users get a favourites menu that can hold up to 15 items for especially quick access, and the ability to determine that the electronic shutter should be constantly on. They will also welcome faster processing of the camera’s DNG Raw files.

The CL now offers users the option to transfer the functions of the two main dials between each other, and for those who find themselves accidentally pressing buttons on the small body a new lock feature deactivates access points to keep them from being unintentionally altered.

Control over the shutter mode comes to the TL so users can choose when to shoot with the electronic or mechanical shutter, and the firmware brings focus peaking to users of the M adapter and to those using R lenses on this little camera. The T and TL bodies get better chromatic aberration correction and support for the Elmarit-TL 18mm F2.8 ASPH lens.

The firmware is available to download now, or you can take your camera to a Leica store and have someone do the job for you. For more detail see the listing from Leica below, or visit the Leica website.

Press Information

Extensive updates for Leica Cameras: New firmware releases with numerous improvements and entirely new functions.

Leica Camera AG has released a series of extensive firmware updates for the Leica M10, Leica Q, Leica CL, Leica TL2 and Leica T/TL camera models. Alongside further improvements of existing features, these updates also introduce a considerable number of new camera functions.

Leica M10 (v2.4.5.0)

  • Optimisation of the delete menu: The graphic user interface for the deletion of pictures has been revised.
  • Longer exposure times: Exposure times of up to four minutes are now possible at base ISO.
  • New continuous shooting mode with lower frame rate: An additional continuous shooting mode is now available (Continuous Low Speed, three frames per second).
  • ‘Load profile’ is now available in the favourites menu.
  • Aperture value in EXIF data: The camera compares the brightness measured through the lens with the measured ambient brightness to estimate the aperture used. This value is then written to the EXIF data. In some cases, the interpretation of the subject or scene may lead to incorrect estimation of the aperture value, for instance when shooting subjects or scenes with high contrast and black or white objects.
  • LED deactivation: The red LED on the back of the camera can now be deactivated in the control elements menu.
  • Auto-ISO setting: Auto-ISO for base ISO is set to the default value of ISO 200 to optimise dynamic range.

Leica Q (v3.0)

  • Favourites Menu: Users can now enter and save up to 15 settings for faster access in a Favourites Menu.
  • Power Saving Mode: If required, the camera can now be set to switch to Stand-By Mode after 10 seconds.
  • Extended functions for the Fn button: Even more options can now be selected for programming the multi-function button.
  • User Profiles: Profiles can now be imported from and exported to a memory card.
  • OIS – optional ‘Auto’ setting: This setting enables automatic activation of optical image stabilisation at shutter speeds of 1/60 s and slower.
  • EVF/LCD setting options: This menu item can now be assigned to the Fn button.
  • Settings for the electronic shutter: The electronic shutter can now be set to permanently active.
  • DNG files: The processing speed of DNG files in the camera has been increased.
  • Autofocus fields: The last AF field used is now memorised and recalled when switching the camera off and on again.
  • Self-timer: The setting is now memorised and recalled when switching the camera off and on again.
  • Exposure preview deactivation option: Exposure preview can now be deactivated in manual mode (especially useful when shooting in the studio with flash systems, underexposed settings or in dark environments).
  • Image review: Automatic image review remains active as long as the shutter release button is pressed.

Leica CL (v2.0)

  • Programming of setting dial functions: The programming of the two setting dials can now be swapped from one to the other.
  • Button lock: Pressing and holding the left-hand setting dial activates button lock (this does not lock the on/off switch, the shutter release or the left-hand setting dial).
  • Power Saving Mode: If required, the camera can now be set to switch to Stand-By Mode after 10 seconds.
  • Touchscreen autofocus: The AF metering points can now also be shifted with the joystick control in Touch AF mode when using the electronic viewfinder.

Leica TL2 (v1.4)

  • Selection of LCD / viewfinder settings: It is now possible to select when and where the content is displayed (up until now, display was simultaneous).
  • Customisable left function menu: The items of the left function menu can now be customised by the assignment of up to six of a total of thirteen functions.
  • Extended functions for the Fn button: Now, one of a total of six different functions can be assigned to the Fn button.
  • Settings for the electronic shutter: The electronic shutter can be deactivated, permanently activated or set to complement the mechanical shutter.
  • Focus Peaking in AF Mode: Manual focus corrections can now be applied in AF Mode with the MF-ring. In the meantime, Focus Peaking is available from FW 1.4.
  • Focus Peaking with M-/R-Lenses: Focus Peaking is now also available when using M- R-Lenses with the M-Adapter L.
  • Exposure correction during video recording: The left-hand setting dial can now be used to apply exposure correction during video recording.
  • Zoom-in when reviewing images in the EVF: The right-hand setting dial allows users to zoom in while viewing images in the EVF.

Leica T/TL (v1.8/v2.3)

  • Simpler connection between the camera and a smartphone by app
  • Reduction of chromatic aberration for all TL-Lenses
  • Support and auto-update for the Elmarit-TL 18 mm f/2.8 ASPH.

The firmware updates are available from the Leica website ( Users can either download and install the update themselves or have it installed within the scope of the free update service offered in all Leica Stores.

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Weekly Photography Challenge – Bridges

30 Jun

I hope you haven’t burned any bridges lately, literally or figuratively. Because it’s time for this week’s photography challenge which is – you guessed it – bridges.

Here are some articles to give you some ideas and tips:

  • Tips for Shooting Blue Hour
  • Tips for Location Scouting to Get the Perfect Sunset Photograph
  • Find the Perfect Photography Location Using Google Maps
  • 26 Sublime Images of Bridges and Connection

Weekly Photography Challenge – Bridges

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

Share in the dPS Facebook Group

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

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SD Express SDUC memory cards will give you 985MB/s transfer speeds and 128TB of storage

29 Jun

The SD Association has released the name and official specifications for SD Express, the latest Secure Digital (SD) memory card format, as part of its SD 7.0 specification. Created as a successor to UHS-III cards, SD Express is next-next-gen technology that will work alongside a new SDUC card to provide fast, high-capacity memory cards in a familiar package.

As the name suggests, SD Express cards are going to be fast. The SD Express format uses third-gen PCIe and NVMe transfer protocols on top of the dual-level pin layout interface to achieve a maximum transfer speed of 985MB per second—almost a gigabyte per second and roughly 1.5 times faster than UHS-III cards, which still haven’t hit the market yet.

In order to achieve the maximum transfer speed of SD Express cards, you’ll need a camera or device that supports the new format as well. If you end up sticking your brand new SD Express card inside your 5D Mark III, it’ll simply default back to the speed of UHS-I cards.

SD Express cards will be available in SDHC (High Capacity) and SDXC (Extended Capacity), as well as an all-new SDUC (Ultra Capacity) format. The new SDUC cards will have a maximum storage capacity of 128TB, a large leap from the maximum 2TB capacity of SDXC cards.

Infographic provided by the SD Association that details the various specs and classifications of different SD cards.

It also appears as though it’ll be possible for memory card manufacturers to make SDUC cards for slower SD bus interfaces. So, according to the above graphic, you could theoretically have a 128TB High Speed SD card. With a little back-of-the-napkin math, that means it would take 1,481 days to transfer all 128TB of the card based on the 25MB per second speeds of High Speed SD cards.

To find out more and read more details about the SD Express and SDUC formats, be sure to check out the SD Association’s press release. The SD Association has also released a white paper detailing the new capabilities and features found in the SD 7.0 specifications if you’re interested in really digging deep.

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How to Create an Exploding Sandwich Food Photo

29 Jun

Here is a fun tutorial to try if you enjoy food photography. Anyone can photograph a sandwich on a plate, but you can you make it explode and capture all the layers in a photo? Here’s how it’s done as shown by photographer Skyler Burt.

How to do it

If you enjoyed that and want to brush up on your food photography in general, check out these dPS articles:

  • Are You Making These Five Food Photography Mistakes?
  • Five Essentials of Doing Dark Food Photography
  • 4 Tips for Beginners to Food Photography
  • Household Items to Bring to Your Next Food Photography Shoot
  • The Secret to Finding the Hero Angle in Food Photography

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2018 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year winner announced

29 Jun

2018 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year winners

Nature 1st Place – and Grand Prize winner
Photo and Caption by Reiko Takahashi / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest | MERMAID

Reiko Takahashi’s image of a humpback whale calf’s tail has been named Grand Prize winner of this year’s National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year contest. Her caption for the photo reads:

I was fortunate to have encountered a humpback whale with her calf on my first day snorkeling near Japan’s Kumejima Island. Most of the time, the calf stayed close to her mom. At one point, the calf began jumping and tapping its tail on the water near us—it was very friendly and curious. Finally, the mother, who was watching nearby, came to pick up the calf and swim away. I fell in love completely with the calf and it’s very energetic, large and beautiful tail.

Winners in three categories have also been chosen, from over 13,000 total entries. Takahashi’s photo, titled Mermaid, also took first place in the Nature category – Cities and People round out the categories.

Take a look through the winning images above and see more outstanding photos from the weeks leading up to this announcement at National Geographic’s website.

2018 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year winners

Nature 2nd Place
Photo and Caption by hao j. / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest | FLAMINGOS TAKING OFF

Thousands of flamingos are seen taking off from the colorful Lake Natron in Tanzania. Before taking off, flamingos need to take a short run on water to build up some speed. At that moment, their long, red legs create a series of water ripples on the surface of the lake. Looking down from the helicopter, these ripple lines look like giant aquatic plants flowing in the water. This photo was taken from a helicopter.

2018 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year winners

Nature 3rd Place
Photo and Caption by Marco Grassi / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest | MARS

These natural sand towers, capped with large stones, are known as the Earth Pyramids of Platten. They are situated in Northern Italy’s South Tyrol region. Formed centuries ago after several storms and landslides, these land formations look like a landscape from outer space and continuously change over the years and, more accurately, over seasons. This natural phenomenon is the result of a continuous alternation between periods of torrential rain and drought, which have caused the erosion of the terrain and the formation of these pinnacles. As the seasons change, the temperatures move between extremes and storms affect the area, pyramids disappear over time, while new pinnacles form as well.

2018 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year winners

Cities 1st Place
Photo and Caption by Hiro Kurashina / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest | ANOTHER RAINY DAY IN NAGASAKI, KYUSHU

This is a view of the main street from a tram in Nagasaki on a rainy day. The tram is vintage, but retrofitted with modern ticketing equipment. A conductor is no longer on board—only the lone driver. The quiet streetscape seen through the front windshield of the tram somehow caught my attention. This view presents quite a contrast to busy urban centers in Japan, such as Tokyo and Osaka. The ride on a vintage tram through the relatively quiet main street was a memorable experience during our week-long visit to the historic city of Nagasaki.

2018 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year winners

Cities 2nd Place
Photo and Caption by Enrico Pescantini / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest | Geometry of the Sun

Teotihuacan means ‘the place where the gods were created,’ and that’s the exact feeling visitors have when they walk along the Avenue of the Dead at this Mexican archeological site. This pyramid was dedicated to the god of Sun, and I found it mesmerizing how the rising sun in the picture conquered just half the image, while the other half is in the shadows. I have always loved archeology and ancient civilizations, so I couldn’t wait to visit Mexico and explore the remains of the pre-Columbian civilization. I planned my visit to Teotihuacan at sunrise, to get a combination of golden sunlight, play of shadows, and few crowds around. I flew my drone to see if the image I had in my mind was really out there: luckily for me, this frame was just waiting for my camera!

2018 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year winners

Cities 3rd Place
Photo and Caption by Gaanesh Prasad / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest | REFLECTION

On an early morning, I wanted to photograph the fog, which is epic in Dubai every year from December to January—and almost every photographer’s dream in this part of the world. Sadly, I could not get access to the rooftop and so I peeped through the glazed window on a lower floor. I was overwhelmed and excited to see how beautiful the city looks, and my excitement was quadrupled as soon as I saw the reflection of the road and building on the building that I was in. I immediately opened the window to the maximum permissible amount and clicked a single shot with stretched hands.

2018 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year winners

Cities Honorable Mention
Photo and Caption by Gary Cummins / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest | ALONE IN THE CROWDS

In this photo, I tried to bring the intense and stacked living conditions that Hong Kong is famous for into perspective for the viewer. With so many people living in small spaces, it’s strange to see all these amenities empty. As a solo traveler, I’m often alone in crowds and this photo resonates with me. I barely scratched the surface of this incredible urban environment, but this image really summarizes my experience here.

2018 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year winners

People 1st Place
Photo and Caption by Alessandra Meniconzi / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest | TEA CULTURE

For a long time, I have been fascinated by the ancient Mongolian method of hunting with Golden Eagles. In early 2018, I followed one family of eagle hunters during their migration from winter camp to spring camp. Mongolia is sparsely populated, but the inhabitants have a very hospitable and welcoming culture. Tea for Kazakh culture is one of the attributes of hospitality. Tea isn’t just a drink, but a mix of tradition, culture, relaxation, ceremony, and pleasure. Damel, seen here wrapped in heavy fur clothes, drinks a cup of tea to keep warm from the chilly temperatures in Western Mongolia.

2018 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year winners

People 2nd Place
Photo and Caption by TATI ITAT / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest | LEIDA AND LAELLE – I WILL LIFT YOU UP

Since 2016, I’ve been involved with Haitian immigrants and refugees living in my city, Estrela. I have become friends with some families, and especially with twin sisters, Leïda and Laëlle. They say living in Brazil is like living in paradise—very different from the reality of their country of origin. They dream of becoming models and teachers, as a way to earn money to bring their other relatives from Haiti to Brazil, to live all near one another. On this day, they were playing in front of their home, improvising exercises to develop their imagination and creativity, as if they were actresses, and playing an imitation game with poses. Laëlle reached for Leida’s face and lifted her head up, showing her where she should look. At this brief moment, I took the photo.

2018 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year winners

People 3rd Place
Photo and Caption by MD Tanveer Hassan Rohan / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest | CHALLENGING JOURNEY

This photograph was taken from Dhaka’s airport rail station during the Eid vacation. People were returning to their village homes to spend Eid with families, and the rush at the last hour was immense. One man caught my attention: he was dangling on a train’s handle with his family, trying to get inside the train. At that time, rain started and the train began to slowly move. The family had tickets to board the train, but couldn’t get to their seats. There are many people like him, who come to Dhaka for work—leaving their families and home villages—so when they get vacation, they don’t want to miss the opportunity to spend time with dear ones, no matter what.

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Canon EOS Rebel T7 sample gallery

29 Jun

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The Canon T7/2000D is about as affordable as DSLRs come – the 24MP camera goes for €470 with a kit lens in Europe and $ 500 in the US (from Canon directly only at the moment). We’ve been out shooting it with both the 18-55mm F4-5.6 IS STM and the compact 24mm F2.8 STM for good measure – take a look.

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Pentax FA* 50mm F1.4 SDM AW lens shipping in July for $1199

29 Jun

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First announced last October, Ricoh is ready to ship the HD Pentax-D FA* 50mm F1.4 SDM AW, a weather-sealed fast prime for the company’s full-frame DSLRs. The lens has 15 elements in 9 groups: one anomalous dispersion and three aspherical. A newly developed SDM ring-type motor has 7.5x as much torque as previous models in order to move all of that glass quickly and smoothly. As the lens uses an electromagnetic diaphragm, it is fully compatible with only the K-1 Mark II, K-1, K-3 II, K-3, KP, K-70, K-S2 or K-S1.

HD and Aero Bright II coatings reduce flare and ghosting while a Super Protect coating on the front element should help repel dirt and precipitation. The lens is sealed against dust and moisture and weighs in at 910g / 2lbs. The 50mm F1.4 has nine rounded aperture blades, and a minimum focus distance of 40cm / 15.6″. The maximum magnification is 0.18x.

You’ll be able to pick up the FA* 50mm F1.4 SDM AW in late July at an MSRP of $ 1199.

Official samples:

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Press Release:


First model in new generation of high-performance K-mount lenses delivers exceptional imaging performance and superior dependability in a wide range of shooting conditions

WEST CALDWELL, NJ, June 28, 2018 ?Ricoh Imaging Americas Corporation today announced the availability of the first model in its new generation of PENTAX Star series lenses, the HD PENTAX-D FA?50mm F1.4 SDM AW. This large-aperture, prime lens delivers stellar imaging performance and maximum light transmission—the hallmarks of the acclaimed Star series line—and is the perfect companion to any K-mount digital SLR camera including the full-frame PENTAX K-1 and new PENTAX K-1 Mark II models.

Premium-quality Star-series lenses deliver the highest performance among the PENTAX SLR interchangeable lens series, and have enjoyed enthusiastic support from PENTAX SLR camera users since the days of film. In addition to the initial design concepts of optimum image quality and large apertures for maximum light transmission, the series has embraced the additional concepts of exceptional toughness and outstanding operability, achieved through the development of a dustproof, weather-resistant lens housing. The resulting lenses provide superior dependability in wide range of shooting conditions.

The HD PENTAX-D FA?50mm F1.4 SDM AW lens delivers exceptional resolving power from the center to the edges of the image field, even when set to open aperture. The lens incorporates state-of-the-art PENTAX-developed lens coating technologies — including the new Aero Bright Coating II for exceptionally low reflectance and high-grade high-definition (HD) Coating — that enable it to produce extra-sharp, high-contrast images free of flare and ghost images. The lens’s dustproof, weather-resistant body also makes it extremely dependable and durable for shooting in demanding outdoor conditions. Its PENTAX K-mount covers the image circle of a 35mm-format full-frame image sensor.

The new lens is the first produced following Ricoh’s extensive review of standards for the top-of-the-line Star series. Engineers evaluated a variety of approaches to minimize aberrations and deliver the highest image quality. The HD PENTAX-D FA?50mm F1.4 SDM AW lens is designed to deliver optimum imaging performance with all compatible camera bodies, including next-generation digital SLRs.

| Key Features |

  1. New-generation, high-performance Star-series lens with large F1.4 maximum aperture

This lens has been developed as a new-generation member of the high-performance Star series — a lineup designed to deliver extra-clear, high-contrast images with edge-to-edge sharpness while keeping aberrations to a minimum. The lens, which is the result of an extensive review of traditional Star-series standards, provides greatly improved resolving power, which enables it to deliver excellent imaging performance even with more advanced, next-generation camera bodies. Developed as the first model of the new-generation Star-series lenses, the new lens boasts an extra-large F1.4 maximum aperture, useful with many different subjects in a range of applications, including portraiture with an effectively de-focused (bokeh) background, and handheld shooting of indoor scenes. It provides exceptional image quality even at open aperture, as well as outstanding performance at close ranges.

  1. State-of-the-art optical technology

The lens is treated with PENTAX-developed Aero Bright Coating II — a lens coating developed using a state-of-the-art nanotechnology process. It consists of a silica aerogel layer with a uniform porous structure over a regular multi-coating layer that reduces surface reflections across a wide wavelength range and produces crisp, high-quality images.

By coupling this advanced lens coating with the high-grade, multi-layer HD (high definition) Coating, average reflectance in the visible ray spectrum is reduced to less than 50% compared to conventional multi-layer coatings. As a result, the lens effectively reduces flare and minimizes ghost images even in demanding lighting conditions, such as backlighting. The lens incorporates three super-low dispersion glass elements and one aspherical element to effectively compensate for chromatic and spherical aberrations, enabling it to produce brilliant, high-contrast images with edge-to-edge sharpness. Since distortion is minimized even at a focusing distance of approximately one meter, the lens produces crisp, distortion-free images over the entire focusing range, from the minimum focusing distance to infinity.

  1. Dustproof, weather-resistant construction

Developed as an AW (all weather) model, this lens features a dependable dustproof, weather-resistant body with eight special seals to prevent the intrusion of water and dust into the lens interior. When paired with a PENTAX weather-resistant digital SLR camera body, it forms a durable, reliable digital imaging system that performs superbly in demanding conditions — even in rain or mist, or at locations prone to water splashes or spray.

  1. Newly developed ring-type motor

This lens features a newly developed ring-type SDM (supersonic direct-drive motor), which generates as much as 7.5 times the torque as the SDM installed in previous-generation lenses. This enormous driving power assures a smooth, high-speed shift of the heavy, multi-element rear lens group during focusing operation.

  1. Other features

?Nine-blade, round-shaped diaphragm produces a natural-looking de-focus (bokeh) effect up to an F2.8 aperture setting, while minimizing the streaking effect of point light sources

?A minimum focusing distance of 0.4 meters, effective for capturing images with a de-focus effect

?Electromagnetic diaphragm-control mechanism,* for flawless, high-precision exposure control during movie recording

?SP (Super Protect) coating to keep the front surface free of dust and spots

* This mechanism is available when the lens is mounted on a PENTAX K-1 Mark II, K-1, K-3 II, K-3, KP, K-70, K-S2 or K-S1 camera body.

| Pricing and Availability |

HD PENTAX-D FA?50mm F1.4 SDM AW will be available in late July 2018 at and retail outlets nationwide for a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $ 1,199.95.

HD Pentax-D FA* 50mm F1.4 SDM AW specifications

Principal specifications
Lens type Prime lens
Max Format size 35mm FF
Focal length 50 mm
Image stabilization No
Lens mount Pentax KAF4
Maximum aperture F1.4
Minimum aperture F16
Aperture ring No
Number of diaphragm blades 9
Elements 15
Groups 9
Special elements / coatings 1 aspherical + 3 anamalous dispersion elements, Aero Bright II + HD + Super Protect coatings
Minimum focus 0.40 m (15.75)
Maximum magnification 0.18×
Autofocus Yes
Motor type Ring-type ultrasonic
Full time manual Yes
Focus method Internal
Distance scale Yes
DoF scale No
Weight 910 g (2.01 lb)
Diameter 80 mm (3.15)
Length 106 mm (4.17)
Sealing Yes
Colour Black
Filter thread 72 mm
Hood supplied Yes
Tripod collar No

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9 Ways to Create Balance in Your Photography

29 Jun

Sometimes it feels like getting the right composition is an endlessly moving target, with this technique and that idea and many other considerations. Balance is one of the more complicated concepts but is also a really powerful tool that is worth investing some time learning. To help you out, here are 9 ways and elements you can use to help you create balance in your images.

lighthouse - 9 Ways to Create Balance in Your Photography

What is balance?

Balance is a way of composing an image so that all elements complement each other equally. Visual tension or harmony are created which results in a pleasing image.

Many different elements can be involved with incorporating balance into your image composition:

  1. Color
  2. Light versus shadow
  3. Texture
  4. Visual weight
  5. Subject placement
  6. Relation of elements to each other
  7. Symmetry
  8. Depth of field
  9. Negative space

How do you achieve balance?

When you compose your scene you need to think about the different elements and how they interact and relate to each other. What is the story you want to tell or frame up? What is the emotion you are trying to convey?

Balance can be harmonious, where all elements are equally present and form an aesthetically pleasing whole – symmetry is a good example. A landscape scene perfectly mirrored in a still pond or lake is very harmonious.

An image can have visual tension due to unbalance. It may seem counterintuitive to say that this also creates balance but think about negative space or a small spot of bright red in an otherwise dull image.

Often several different factors come into play in considering balance, it’s not necessarily just one problem to solve for each image. Every image has color, a subject, tone, contrast and so on, which are all involved in producing your final image.

Some of these concepts have to do with the mechanics of how you take the photo (light/shadow/contrast/tone) and some are more compositional (symmetry/negative space/subject placement). So there are many different things to consider at once within each image.

Let’s look at each in more detail:

#1 – COLOR

cherries in a bowl - 9 Ways to Create Balance in Your Photography

Even though this is a very dark image with a lot of blacks, the rich intense color of the cherries is not lost in the background – the color, quantity and placement balance out against the black shadows

Color has a great impact on your images.  When color film finally emerged it had a huge impact on photography. Being able to see bright colors instead of monochrome was very different. It lead to many different styles and techniques in photography and is still the dominant way images are processed today.

It allows you to evoke emotion, create tension, highlight a specific element, catch our attention and tell the story of the image in different ways.

garden with a red bush - 9 Ways to Create Balance in Your Photography

Take this garden shot with all the different foliage shades of green and yellow – yet the eye goes immediately to the small but prominent red flowers. This image has balance because the red has a lot of visual weight but physically is only a small part of the overall image.

If it was much bigger it would overwhelm, instead, it gives somewhere to start the journey looking at all the different textures and colors contained in the garden.

b/w of a bike - 9 Ways to Create Balance in Your Photography

Using color to evoke a mood, a feeling, or a period of time

This old bicycle turned into a Welcome sign at a historic homestead. By opting for a slightly sepia tone it picks up all the textures in the shot and evens out all the different competing colors.  The focus becomes the bicycle and not the bright green of the grass or the red of the chicken in the background. Changing the colors balances out all the other elements and allows the subject you want to be the focus.


Light and shadow are the opposite elements necessary for photography. If you have light, in general, you will have shadows. When you have both present it gives your subjects added dimension, they become physical rounded elements, not flat even though they are being viewed in a flat 2D medium (either printed or on a screen).

Contrast and tonal difference make an image more dynamic and interesting. Contrast comes from the difference between the amount of light and shadow in an image.  More contrast also widens out the tonal range of the image, when it is too similar it will look very flat (like the seaside landscape below).

overcast seascape image - 9 Ways to Create Balance in Your Photography

This image taken on a heavily overcast day has very little contrast, it’s quite flat and tonally similar and as a result, lacks punch and impact. It is not balanced in the light/shadow equation and it shows up visually as a result.

So learning to use both light and shadow together can create balance in your images. The horseshoe image below was specifically shot to use the harsh midday sun to generate the shadows and capture the patterns and how they hang on the nails. It would be a much less interesting image without the shadows.

horse shoes in b/w - 9 Ways to Create Balance in Your Photography


Texture can be present in different ways – in the image of the spoons with spices (below) there are three layers of texture – the background surface, the spices in the spoons, and some scattered spices.  While there is a lot of texture in the image, it balances due to the scale and the blending layer in between which softens the difference between the spices and the industrial background.

If the extra scattered spices were not there it would not work as well as they help transition the eye around the image.

spices in 3 spoons - 9 Ways to Create Balance in Your Photography

This blueberry shot uses texture in a different way, where the subjects themselves become the textural element, with some added interest in the form of water droplets. Without the droplets, it was a much less interesting image, and the fine detail of the droplets help balance out the size of the berries, giving the eye more elements to engage with.

blueberries - 9 Ways to Create Balance in Your Photography

Think tree bark, patterns on the water, brick walls, cracks in the pavement, clouds in the sky, foliage in a garden, shiny reflective metal, stones in a pond, sand at the beach. Think long exposure to produce soft foamy waterfalls or interesting cloud patterns. Consider ICM (Intentional Camera Movement) for soft blurred effect or pretty light trails.

Texture is all around you and in everything you see, but it is often taken for granted. Texture can be highlighted and become a key element in your image if you take the time to see it and take advantage of it.


This is a tricky concept to come to grips with as it sometimes seems a bit contradictory. How can a small element overwhelm a bigger image? How can one color dominate another one?

In the butterfly image below, the tones are all very similar, even the colors are shades of yellow and brown. Yet the visual weight is actually held by the fuzzy green leaf in the bottom corner.  If you crop the bottom section off it completely changes the feel of the image, and the butterfly becomes more prominent.

monarch butterfly - 9 Ways to Create Balance in Your Photography

One of my personal favourite images is of a fresh new bright limestone headstone in a cemetary of very old and weathered stones (below). The light was at the perfect angle to highlight the one stone which carries the visual weight yet is only a very small element physically within the image.

The central placement works well in balancing the other elements around it and allows more of the story to be told – if the focus was tight on the headstone it would have had a very different feel to the image.

cemetery - 9 Ways to Create Balance in Your Photography


Where you place the subject in the frame is important in many ways. It can be used to show scale, the relationship between elements, to highlight tension, or to create a specific feel or stylistic tone to an image.

A classic example is the Rule of Thirds – where it is taught that a center placed subject lacks drama and impact – place the subject on the third lines to make it more dynamic within the frame. When the subject is looking in a particular direction, where you place them affects the feeling of the image. If they are looking out of the frame, placing them close to the edge is quite a different image than if you compose the image so that they are looking more into/across the frame.

In the cave image below the people add balance by providing scale. Without them there we would be unable to appreciate the true size of the cave as we have no context to apply. The bright colors of their clothes also offer some visual weight in contrast to the textured details of the rock walls. The positioning at the bottom of the frame grounds the image and helps tell the story.

large cave opening - 9 Ways to Create Balance in Your Photography

The placement of this bellbird on the branch is an appealing balance of angles and lines. The line of the main branch is echoed by the blurred ones in the background – this gives some depth and scale to the image.

The bird is a nice size within the image, large enough to see the details, but not cramped within the frame and his crimson eye holds a lot of visual weight as well. If the bird was angled the other way it would be less pleasing as it would not be balanced the same way, as the X is symmetrical.

yellow bird in a tree - 9 Ways to Create Balance in Your Photography

Similar to #5 above, this takes the placement concept a step further. You need to consider the specific relationship between elements and how can you use that in composing your image.

In this landscape shot below, it’s a pretty simple land/sea/sky shot – not really very interesting at all.  But the inclusion of the sign right next to the edge of the cliff changes everything. The bright red of the letters catches our attention (as it should) and even though the sign is small it has large impact.

Had the sign not been so close to the edge, it may have been a less compelling image. In composing this, the Rule of Thirds was also used to provide scale and context with the cliff edge off to the right, showing that the cliff continued (it was actually a whole headland of several hundred meters with just this one sign).

danger sign cliff warning - 9 Ways to Create Balance in Your Photography

Below is a wide-angle landscape shot of some fossilized totara tree trunks at Curio Bay, The Catlins, NZ. Landscapes when taken with a wide angle often lose context if they don’t have a foreground element to anchor them.

The person also helps tell more of the story, while providing a color pop of bright blue visual interest and weight against the sand and rock. His presence in the front of the frame balances out the large wider angle landscape behind him and gives scale to appreciate how big it is.

man in a landscape image - 9 Ways to Create Balance in Your Photography


When done well and with thought, symmetry can be a useful tool. Putting your subject dead center in the frame can be a risk too. While a mirror image in a lake or puddle can be pretty, it can also be quite static and uninteresting. An odd situation where the image is perfectly balanced and yet it doesn’t actually work compositionally!

Below, the autumn tree reflection is a mirror image but the angle at which it has been shot puts the focus on the landscape. So the reflection is not necessarily the point of the image. Instead, it is more of an added bonus. Also, the way the trees are arranged creates balance across the image, the two golden willows are rounded and slightly shadowed.

They are counterbalanced by the taller golden poplar, with similarly toned grass behind, and the green of the reeds in the water. There is enough contrast in the image with the light and shadow elements to add depth and interest while the gold/blue color combination is an aesthetically pleasing one.  The reflection softens the colors and tones enough that they allow the actual landscape to take prominence.

This image was specifically composed with all those things in mind.

fall scene and reflection - 9 Ways to Create Balance in Your Photography


Does everything in your image have to be 100% sharp? My answer to that is no. You can use Depth of Field creatively, balancing the subject against the softer background, allowing the subject to be prominent and the strong focal element.

Imagine the shot of the larch cones below if the aperture was more like f/11. If all the foliage and trees in the background were in focus then the cones would be lost against it. Portrait photographers use this concept to their advantage, shooting their subject in a similar way to get them to stand out from a sometimes messy or distracting background.

pine cones on a tree - 9 Ways to Create Balance in Your Photography


Negative space is an interesting composition element that works for some shots. Remembering to keep it in the back of your mind for the rare occasion it might suit can be difficult. Also being brave enough to try a different approach than you normally use is challenging.

When used carefully, negative space adds value to an image by providing a lot of empty space to create balance for a particular subject. It is often used successfully in travel photos, where brightly coloured walls or buildings offer a great canvas for a person to be posed against, often as they walk past.

This gerbera shot has a lot of negative space on the left and underneath the flower. Because of the curving stem and the dynamic angle of the flower, this image has a lot of movement for the eye. The negative space offers a calming balance to that energy.

pink gerbera - 9 Ways to Create Balance in Your Photography

The smooth soft water of this long exposure offers some negative space to balance out the visual weight of the rocks and the busy sky. The light tones of the water also create balance with the darker tones of the sand.

b/w beach scene - 9 Ways to Create Balance in Your Photography


Sometimes an image can feel just subtly off even though the subject might be good, the light is good and the composition seems to be alright. It is worth taking a look at those images with fresh eyes and considering the balance of the different elements discussed here. Perhaps you will begin to see some opportunities to compose your images in a different way?

Composition often seems to be a never-ending quest to find the holy grail of elements.  Do you have perfect lighting? Is your subject awesome? Are they doing something cool or interesting? Are the colors fresh and vibrant? Is it exotic? Does it have a wow factor?

Yet your image might have all of those things and still not seem quite right. So take a look at how the different elements relate to each other from a balance point of view.

Maybe instead of trying to remember all the complicated rules of composition – let’s keep it much simpler and start with balance. Or maybe you want your work to be really edgy and challenging and you aim for the tension in a deliberately unbalanced work – that is also a viable creative choice too.

But if you feel that your images lack a certain something, try looking at them from a balance point of view and see what you get. Like everything in photography, there is no one single right way to do it. Instead, there are many different ways, and hopefully one will resonate with you to help you learn something new.

If you are someone who considers balance when composing your images, what other ways do you think about? This is merely a summary of the many possible options that I keep in mind when shooting. Please share any others I haven’t mentioned in the comment area below.

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Phottix announces larger LED panels with the Kali600

29 Jun

Lighting brand Phottix has announced a new LED panel for videographers and stills photographers called the Kali600. Larger than the company’s hotshoe Nuada series, the Kali600 is designed for location and studio work and to be mounted on a stand.

The panel has 600 LEDs and can produce light across a range of 3200-5600K while offering a maximum brightness of 3000Lux. With a pair of battery plates the panel can be run from two optional Sony NP-type batteries or directly via the mains using the supplied AC adapter. A set of barndoors and a diffuser are included, as is a wireless remote that can be used to control the brightness and color temperature of the output.

The Phottix Kali600 costs $ 170 and is shipping straight away. For more information see the Phottix website.

Press release

Feel the power – Meet the Phottix Kali600 Video LED

Following the success of the Phottix Nuada series LEDs, Phottix is announcing a new LED lighting line-up: the Phottix Kali.

The new series will debut with the Kali600 model – a larger studio-style LED Panel for video and general studio and location photography.


  • Excellent color rendering – CRI 95+
  • Digital Power Control: 10% – 100%
  • Digital Color Control: 3300K – 5600K
  • Uses 2 Sony-compatible batteries or AC Adapter

The Phottix Kali600 will feature a maximum brightness of 3000Lux (36W). Being both mains and battery powered it can be used in the studio or on-location. The Kali600 offers power and color temperature control – via the panel as well as a wireless radio remote. Barndoors, white diffuser panel and AC Adapter are included.

What’s included:

  • Kali600 LED Main Panel with Barndoors and Diffuser Panel
  • Remote Control Unit
  • AC adapter ( US & UK & AU & EU plug )
  • Printed User Manual

Articles: Digital Photography Review (

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6 Ways to Improve your Cityscape Photography

29 Jun

Cityscape photography is becoming increasingly popular and can be a welcome change to capturing rolling hills and scenic vistas. Urban landscape environments can offer you, the photographer, attractive buildings, patterns and lines to capture stunning scenes and an alternative to the familiar nature shots found in the countryside.

6 Ways to Improve your Cityscape Photography

Here are 6 elements you will want to consider to improve your photographs of cities:

1. Shoot at different times of the day

Think about blue hour, golden hour, and daytime for your city images.

As the sun goes down and darkness falls, cities come to life when buildings and architectural details become illuminated and can make for some spectacular image opportunities. However, a common mistake people make when doing cityscape photography is to capture images too late at night when the natural light has disappeared and the sky is completely black.

6 Ways to Improve your Cityscape Photography

Shanghai skyline at night.

Total darkness is generally not the best time to photograph buildings as they will appear less attractive with little detail.

If you intend to photograph in the evenings, I would recommend that you arrive at your location for sunset and wait for dusk to fall. You could shoot during blue hour, a period of twilight when the sun is at a significant depth below the horizon and when the sky takes on a predominantly blue shade.

Although it is called the blue hour, it usually occurs for a window of around 20-30 minutes, depending on your location and the season.

Golden hour is another good time for cityscape photography. During the early morning or late afternoon, you’ll have beautiful long shadows to work with, as well as soft golden light.

6 Ways to Improve your Cityscape Photography

Daytime shot of the same city.

Alternatively, photographing during the day allows for a more interesting composition as scenes can be more crowded. Just add people in your frame that can make intriguing subjects combined with buildings.

2. Use ambient light effectively

If you capture the final elements of ambient light in the sky before darkness falls and combine it with the artificial light of the buildings, this will usually result in good photographs.

Once the city lights come on there is usually a window of about an hour to capture pleasing cityscapes. Shooting scenes at this time will allow you to balance the sky with the artificial lights of the city.

6 Ways to Improve your Cityscape Photography - blue hour bridge

3. Consider color

Look for patterns and blocks of color that may offset one another. Buildings may be painted in different colors that work well together, for example.

The cool blue sky of the blue hour complements the warm, golden, amber hues of street and building lights perfectly. The harmony of an image is apparent when colorful tones come together, such as this image of Oxford at night.

6 Ways to Improve your Cityscape Photography - Oxford at blur hour

Also, the sun can create different colors as it strikes buildings and reflects off them.

4. Consider composition

It is best to try and exclude any distracting and unwanted objects from the frame such as trash bins, signs, and any unsightly buildings that will make your image less attractive. Re-compose your image until it’s free of clutter and you are happy with the way the image looks.

6 Ways to Improve your Cityscape Photography - building at night

Work with the light if you’re capturing cityscapes during the day. Usually, you will want to shoot with the sun lighting the buildings for the best results and to ensure everything in your view is illuminated.

5. Experiment with exposure

Cityscapes often provide a great opportunity to experiment with your exposure. You will discover that after sunset, as the light fades, you will be less able to hand hold your camera to capture your cityscape scene. Recording long exposures in cityscape photography will create motion and that feeling of movement is only possible by using a tripod.

6 Ways to Improve your Cityscape Photography - London Tower Bridge

As twilight unveils, you can capture the low ambient light by using slow shutter speeds to create mobility within your image. The stillness of buildings contrasting the movement of clouds or light trails from traffic, for example, make for an interesting image and can add drama to your composition.

Using fast shutter speeds can help to freeze the motion of different objects in the scene. I recommend that you experiment with different shutter speeds to see what different moods this creates and see which style of image you like.

6. Get creative

Add some beauty to your shot by capturing close up objects such as bridges or signs with the cityscape in the background. You could even try photographing people and the cityscape to show the full setting you are photographing within.

6 Ways to Improve your Cityscape Photography

Don’t be afraid to get closer to your subject and focus on the action. I suggest that you play around with various angles to capture something truly unique and inspirational, one that you are proud of.

Cityscape photography requires a great deal of practice and you most likely won’t walk away with award-winning cityscapes overnight. Keep shooting and with these tips, you will become more adept at capturing urban imagery you can be proud of.

Now it’s your turn, please share your cityscape photography images and tips in the comments area below.

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