Archive for July, 2018

Basic Photoshop Tutorial – How to Add Creative Overlays to Your Portraits

31 Jul

portraits of 3 girls - Basic Photoshop Tutorial - How to Add Creative Overlays to Your Portraits

I’ve been shooting these moody portraits lately and I thought about adding some creative overlays to a few to make them a little different and more interesting.

3 girls portraits with texture overlay - Basic Photoshop Tutorial - How to Add Creative Overlays to Your Portraits

Here is a basic tutorial on how to add an overlay using Photoshop. Take your images from simple portraits (top) to textured backgrounds (above) above and finally to incorporating some surreal or artistic elements in the finished portraits (below).

Basic Photoshop Tutorial - Basic Photoshop Tutorial - How to Add Creative Overlays to Your Portraits

Getting started

First of all, I wanted my images to have a dark background and look more moody rather than smiling portraits. You can read here on how I have achieved these types of portraits in my home studio using natural light only.

Secondly, in order for you to be able to follow this tutorial, you need to have a good understanding of how to use layers and masks in Photoshop. It is a simple but extremely powerful tool which I believe to be the most fundamental editing technique you need to learn when using Photoshop.

Thirdly, you need to decide on the images that you wish to use as creative overlays. A quick search on Google provided me with some free overlays that have a high enough resolution to use with my images.

Basic Photoshop Tutorial - Basic Photoshop Tutorial - How to Add Creative Overlays to Your Portraits

butterfly images - Basic Photoshop Tutorial - How to Add Creative Overlays to Your Portraits

leaves - Basic Photoshop Tutorial - How to Add a Texture Overlay to Your PortraitsDesigned by Freepik

It is essential that these overlays are in PNG format because it supports transparency. If the background isn’t already transparent (which is indicated by the checkered grey and white boxes), you can extract the image from the background if need be before you can use it as an independent overlay. But that’s a lot more work.

I will walk you through this process step-by-step. You will need to refer to the layers shown on the Photoshop screenshots below to be able to understand the process.

#1 Open your image in Photoshop

Once you open your image in Photoshop it will become the Background Layer. In my case, here I have renamed the layer as the file name “lsp-portraits-13” which appears at the very bottom of the file next to the “eye” icon. This just means it is visible and it is what I am showing you now.

file and layers in Photoshop - Basic Photoshop Tutorial - How to Add a Texture Overlay to Your Portraits

#2 Open your texture image in the same Photoshop file

The texture I’m using is called Chambord as you can see on the layer name. You can easily add a new image onto an existing open Photoshop file two ways:

  1. By dragging your image from its source folder on your computer into Photoshop directly.
  2. Or by opening your texture file in Photoshop as a separate image, selecting the entire image, copying it and then pasting it into the portrait image you are working on.

The latter is the long-winded way. The former is quicker and it is the smarter way too because Photoshop automatically makes the new texture a Smart Object. That means it matches the size of your image yet you can still change the scale without losing any pixels.

Change the blend mode of your texture image layer (Chambord in this case) to Overlay on the Layers tab. Add a layer mask to the Chambord layer and remove the texture from the person on the image by painting on the mask with black using a soft brush.

Your layer should look like the second layer below with the “eye icon” turned on. You can also adjust the opacity of your texture to your liking by moving the layer opacity slider next to the blend mode.

Note: If you don’t mask out the texture, the person will also be covered in texture and would look really odd! You only want the texture to fill the background and nothing else.


#3 Now you can proceed with adding overlays

The set of leaf overlays, however, come as one image, so I’ve had to use the latter method mentioned above. I opened the overlay file separately in Photoshop and used the marquee tool to select the specific leaf I wanted to use. Then I copied and pasted it onto the other file that I was working with the portrait image opened.

It is essential that you set the blend mode for each texture overlay to “Overlay”. You can experiment with various modes but for this type of work, I’ve found the Overlay and Soft Light modes tend to be the most suitable.

You can see that I added a mask on the leaf layer so that I could remove anything else around the specific leaf that I didn’t want to use. I have added four leaves in total to this image, each one on separate layers with their respective masks. I have also played around the opacity for each layer.

You will also notice that three of the leaves have a separate Levels Adjustment Layer on top of them. This is a simple way of adjusting the look of the overlay, for example, brightening it, darkening, increasing the contrast, etc. You just need to make sure that you clip the levels layer to the corresponding overlay it is adjusting by pressing Alt+Cmd/Ctrl+G. The arrow down indicates it is clipped (only applies to that and no others) to the layer below it.

You will also notice that there is a layer called Group 1 with the folder icon next to it. I grouped all four overlays after I have made individual adjustments with the levels layers. This is in case I want to make further adjustments to all of them, I only have to clip the adjustments to the Group rather than repeating myself for each overlay layer. Especially if all the adjustments are to be exactly the same anyway.

You can do this by selecting all the overlay-related layers and choosing “New group from layers” from the drop-down menu at the top of the Layers panel.

Basic Photoshop Tutorial - How to Add a Texture Overlay to Your Portraits

#4 Use adjustment tools to make final changes

Although the leaves are now where I wanted them to be, the leaves are far too saturated for my liking and they stand out too much. Not to mention they do not match the green tone of the entire image.

To correct this, I added a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and clipped it to Group 1 so that it only affects that group and not the other layers. I played with the sliders to get the green looking similar to the green leaves on the little boy’s shirt. I wanted the overall image to have the look and feel of an old illustrated postcard with subdued tones and muted colors.

Basic Photoshop Tutorial - How to Add a Texture Overlay to Your Portraits

#5 It’s time to save your work!

If you want to keep all the layers and the original image, you need to save your file as a PSD image (Photoshop Data File). As long as you don’t merge or flatten the layers, you will have access to all the original elements used in making your composite image.

This is a non-destructive process but the files can take up a large space on your computer drive. However, if you change your mind later on about some of the elements, you can always go back into it without starting from scratch. Just choose the layer you wish to make changes on.

You must also save a compressed version of your image, usually a JPEG, which is a flattened lossy file. It is much smaller and only contains the final finished image without all the layers that went into creating it.


So that’s the simple process of using overlays! Below are the other two images showing the various layers using exactly the same process as shown above.



I hope you enjoyed this little tutorial.

Have you used texture overlays before? If you have more tips, please share them below.

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Reader poll results: What would you want from Nikon and Canon full-frame mirrorless?

31 Jul

We asked, and you responded. Thousands of you, in fact. We’ve already voiced some opinions about what we’d like to see from a full-frame mirrorless camera from the remaining two of the ‘Big Three’ manufacturers. So when Nikon went public with its development announcement recently, and with rumors swirling about something big coming from Canon, we turned the microphone over to you – our readers. We asked what you wanted to see from a Canikon mirrorless, and here’s what you had to say.

The number one request across the board was for full compatibility with existing lenses. When Sony created the E mount, it was starting (almost) from scratch and primarily aiming to attract new customers rather than maintain an existing base.

Ironically, creating a new system is much more daunting for Canon and Nikon since there are literally millions of F and EF-mount lenses in circulation, a huge number of them in the hands of working professional photographers. These customers just need their gear to work and can’t afford the time or expense of replacing tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of lenses and relearning an entirely new system. Equally as important are Canon and Nikon’s non-professional users, who even if they wanted to, couldn’t afford to replace their ‘old’ lenses overnight.

For these reasons, we would hope that ensuring compatibility with these legacy lenses will be a major priority for both Canon and Nikon and we weren’t surprised to see this concern reflected in our poll results.

Nikon’s 1-series showed that the company knows how to make a fast hybrid AF system, and Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS autofocus has been impressing us for years

Coming in second is a request for a high resolution sensor, followed closely by a sports-ready AF system and a lifelike viewfinder in third and fourth place, respectively. It remains to be seen how ‘pro’ any eventual full-frame Canikon mirrorless product/s will be, but we know from interviewing senior executives at both companies that matching the DSLR viewfinder and autofocus experience is key to their vision of what a competitive high-end mirrorless camera should look like.

If nothing else, Nikon’s much-maligned 1-series showed that the company knows how to make a fast hybrid AF system, and Canon’s mirrorless-ready Dual Pixel CMOS autofocus has been impressing us for years.

Many of you want to see in-body stabilization too, which we’ve come to really appreciate in the Sony a7/a9-series, as well as in mirrorless ILCs from Olympus and Panasonic. In-body stabilization has never been a standard feature on DSLRs (notwithstanding the sterling efforts of Minolta/Sony and Pentax) and it’s hugely useful for both stills and video capture.

Comments on Facebook, Twitter and on our site ran the gamut from serious and reasonable to not at all serious and wholly unreasonable. Here are a couple of our favorites.

We won’t be left hanging for too long – Nikon will be livestreaming its ‘special event’ on August 23rd. Until then, the speculation continues and you can view the full results of our poll below.

Have your say

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What are the most important things you'd want from a Canon or Nikon mirrorless camera?
  • High resolution sensor11.3%
  • High speed shooting1.9%
  • Good quality video3.8%
  • Sports-ready AF system10.7%
  • Easy-to-use AF system4.0%
  • Lifelike viewfinder10.2%
  • Responsive controls and menus3.4%
  • Configurable controls/interface1.4%
  • Pro video features such as waveforms / 10-bit capture1.5%
  • Small, affordable primes5.4%
  • Fast primes2.5%
  • Tele zooms0.5%
  • Full compatibility / full performance with existing lenses13.0%
  • Lightweight4.3%
  • Compact size6.3%
  • Substantial grip1.6%
  • Good battery life4.5%
  • 16-bit Raw1.4%
  • Top plate settings display0.3%
  • Dual card slots1.0%
  • Effective weather sealing3.2%
  • In-body stabilization7.9%
Total voters: 3,783

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Creative Macro Photography – Using Fairy Lights

31 Jul

Are you interested in doing some creative macro photography? Oftentimes, we macro photographers find ourselves photographing the same subjects over and over, searching for new compositions that seem like they’ll never appear.

fairy light creative macro photography flower

In this article, I’ll discuss a macro photography technique that will get you out of that creative rut: using fairy lights. I’ll explain where to purchase them, how to set them up, and how to use them. Ultimately, you’ll learn how to enhance your macro photography with a cheap accessory. You’ll even have lots of fun in the process!

What are fairy lights?

Fairy lights are tiny LED lights. They come in a number of different colors and can be picked up for cheap ($ 10 or thereabouts) on I prefer to use warm white colored fairy lights, but feel free to experiment. Different colors will give your photographs different tones.

fairy light creative macro photography flower daisy

What makes fairy lights interesting?

There is one reason why I love fairy lights, and it is this:

Bokeh, bokeh, bokeh!

When placed properly in a photograph, fairy lights can create wonderful out of focus highlights that add a magical feel to your images.

fairy light creative macro photography flower

This can be used in any genre of photography. For instance, it is fairly popular in some portrait photography circles. But I most enjoy using fairy lights in creative macro photography, which is what I’ll be focusing on in this article.

How to use fairy lights?

Work in the twilight hour

Fairy lights are not very bright relative to ambient light. Therefore, it’s necessary to shoot late in the day.

fairy light creative macro photography flower daisy

I photographed this daisy a few minutes after sunset.

If your subject is shaded, or if the day is cloudy, you can start shooting a few minutes before the sun has gone down. As the level of ambient light decreases, the overall look offered by the fairy lights will change.

The fairy lights will become more noticeable, and will really pop off the background (which can be good or bad, depending on the look you desire).

fairy light creative macro photography flower bokeh

I generally shoot until I can no longer handhold my camera. This is usually in the area of 30 minutes after sunset. However, If you like to use a tripod, feel free to stay out later.

Shoot wide open and feel free to underexpose

What should you use for camera and lens settings?

The lens aperture is the easiest setting to choose, widen it as much as possible. Not only does this let in the most light (to compensate for the lack of ambient lighting), but it also blurs the fairy lights in a more pleasing way.

Therefore, when working with fairy lights, I generally stick to my lens’s widest aperture, usually f/2.8.

fairy light creative macro photography flower bokeh

This image was taken with a shallow aperture to ensure better bokeh. The large blobs (lower right) were created by putting some of the lights closer to the camera than the flower.

As for shutter speed, I meter off the main subject (for me, this is usually a flower), and then deliberately underexpose the image. Why? I like that blue twilight aesthetic and I want it to be clear that the image was taken after sundown. This also really causes the fairy lights to stand out.

Regarding lenses, I usually shoot with a macro lens. However, you might also work with another fast lens, such as a 50mm f/1.8. These have the added benefit of being smaller and are therefore easier to handhold.

fairy light macro photography flower bokeh

In macro photography, being able to focus manually is often essential. This is even truer when it comes to fairy light photography. When working in such dark conditions, your autofocus will hunt and hunt until the light is completely gone and you’re forced to pack up.

Instead, switch your lens to manual focus. You can also switch on Live View, which can be very helpful in such difficult conditions.

Place the fairy lights directly behind or in front of the subject

There are two general approaches that I recommend for fairy light photography.

#1 – Put the lights a few inches behind the subject

This distance can decrease if you’re working at high magnifications or a very wide aperture. But it should increase if you are farther from your subject or working with a narrow aperture. If I’m photographing flowers, I often just drape the lights over other flowers or branches behind the main subject.

fairy light creative macro photography flower bokeh aster

I positioned some fairy lights behind this flower by placing them in a nearby bush.

The key is to ensure that the lights themselves are out of focus. You don’t want viewers to look at your images and actually see the fairy lights as fairy lights. They should appear as beautiful background highlights. This means that you should work with a bit of distance between the subject and the fairy lights in the background.

Holding the lights in behind the daisy.

Final image.

#2 – Put the lights in front of the subject

The second approach is harder to pull off but is well worth the difficulty. This involves placing the fairy lights in front of the subject, close enough to the lens that they remain out of focus.

fairy light creative macro photography flower daisy

I held the fairy lights between the lens and the subject in order to ensure the fairy lights remained out of focus and generated strong bokeh for this image.

I generally hold the lights in front of the lens with my left hand while manual focusing the lens with the other. This ensures that the fairy lights remain nothing more than out of focus highlights.

fairy light creative macro photography flower bokeh

Final Techniques to Consider

Now you know the basics of fairy light macro photography. But how do you create compelling images?

creative macro photography fairy lights

I find that there’s a particularly useful guideline for fairy light photography which is to incorporate the fairy lights into the composition.

creative macro photography fairy lights flower daisy bokeh

That is, don’t just let the fairy lights spray randomly throughout the background. Yes, this will result in an interesting image, but it will probably seem chaotic as well. In any type of photography, you want every bit of your photograph to be deliberate. Fairy light macro photography is no exception.

Instead, compose so that the fairy lights complement the main subject. Place them so that they appear above the subject (in the background). Make them appear beside the subject. Put them so that they seem to ring the main subject.

creative macro photography fairy lights flower cosmos bokeh

I held the fairy lights in the bottom of the frame, so as not to obscure the flower.

If you are using the second technique that I mentioned above, in which you put the fairy lights in front of the lens, make sure that they don’t block out important parts of the subject.

You don’t want to obscure your main subject with lights. It needs to be recognizable in order to offer a point for the viewer to focus on.

creative macro photography fairy lights flower aster


Fairy lights can add creative flair to your macro photography. They can also help you get out of a creative rut.

If all goes well, you might find yourself inspired to experiment with different colored fairy lights, or even take them with you when engaging in other genres of photography like portrait or pet photography.

creative macro photography fairy lights flower bokeh

By following the guidelines set out above, you’ll be able to take some fantastic eye-catching images!

Got any creative macro photography techniques of your own? Please share them in the comments section below.

fairy light macro photography flower

fairy light macro photography flower abstract

fairy light macro photography flower daisy abstract

fairy light macro photography mushroom

fairy lights photography leaves autumn

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LG G7 ThinQ review

31 Jul

Overall score

The G7 ThinQ is the latest incarnation of LG’s high-end G-series smartphone and comes with many of the latest must-have specs, including a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chipset, plenty of RAM and a high-resolution display.

In the camera department the Korean manufacturer sticks to its strategy of offering an alternative to the tele-zoom systems of the competition by installing a super-wide-angle next to main camera in the device’s dual-cam setup.

For the most part, the LG G7 ThinQ produces images with balanced exposures, and even tackles low lighting conditions relatively well – though pixel-level detail suffers from overly aggressive noise reduction. Still, its super-wide lens is still relatively uncommon among high-end phones and like previous LG devices offers a surprising level of control over video settings.

Behind both lenses you’ll find a 16MP 1/3.1″ sensor. According to the spec sheet the super-wide-angle offers an angle of view of 107 degrees (approximately 16mm equivalent) and an F1.9 aperture. The main camera comes with a 71-degree angle of view (approximately 30mm equivalent), an F1.6 aperture and optical image stabilization. The autofocus system uses both phase detection and laser assist.

Key specifications:

  • Dual-camera
  • Main camera: 1/3.1″ 16MP sensor, F1.6, OIS, 71-degree FoV
  • Secondary camera: 1/3.1″ 16MP sensor, F1.9, 107-degree FoV
  • Laser and PDAF
  • LED flash
  • 4K video at 30 fps
  • 720p slow-motion at 240 fps
  • 8MP / F1.9 front camera
  • 6.1″ IPS LCD display, 1440 x 3120 resolution
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chipset
  • 64/128GB storage, 4/6GB RAM
  • 3000 mAh battery

The LG G7 ThinQ in use

We’ve had the chance to use the LG G7 ThinQ for a few weeks. In general use, the LG feels just like most recent high-end Android phones: swift and responsive. The screen is bright and clear and nice to view even in bright light. It’s also worth mentioning that the LG still features a 3.5mm headphone jack and a microSD slot.

Battery life appears to be a bit of a weak point, however. The 3000 mAh battery doesn’t last as long as the beefier units in some of the competitors we’ve recently tested. Under heavy use, you’ll likely have to recharge at some point in the evening.

LG G7 ThinQ AI Cam

Like on the V30S, the G7 ThinQ’s camera operation is enhanced by LG’s artificial intelligence technology that can detect objects and scenes and auto-adjust camera settings accordingly. In practice the new mode is more of a gimmick than anything else. It often detects objects correctly but has also been wrong quite frequently during our testing. The impact on image output isn’t really noticeable either.

For now, we recommend that you just keep shooting in standard auto mode but LG should be applauded for being among the first to implement such a feature, and we’re looking forward to future iterations.

But now let’s have a look at the all-important image output.

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Compact Canon PowerShot SX740 HS offers 40x zoom lens and 4K video

31 Jul

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Canon’s new PowerShot SX740 HS is an ultra-compact long-zoom camera that replaces the SX730. As with that camera, it features a 24-960mm equivalent F3.3-6.9 lens, 20MP 1/2.3″ BSI-CMOS sensor and flip-up LCD.

The SX740 gains Canon’s latest processor (Digic 8), which brings with it UHD 4K video capture and 7.4 fps burst shooting with continuous AF. The camera also features Wi-Fi with NFC and Bluetooth, with the latter providing the ability to automatically transfer images to both mobile and desktop devices.

The PowerShot SX740 HS will be available in August, in silver or black, at a list price of $ 399.

Canon PowerShot SX740 HS specifications

MSRP $ 399
Body type
Body type Ultracompact
Max resolution 5184 x 3888
Image ratio w:h 1:1, 4:3, 3:2, 16:9
Effective pixels 21 megapixels
Sensor photo detectors 20 megapixels
Sensor size 1/2.3" (6.17 x 4.55 mm)
Sensor type BSI-CMOS
Processor Digic 8
Color space sRGB
Color filter array Primary color filter
ISO Auto, 100-3200
White balance presets 5
Custom white balance Yes
Image stabilization Optical
Uncompressed format No
JPEG quality levels Super fine, fine
File format
  • JPEG (Exif v2.31)
Optics & Focus
Focal length (equiv.) 24–960 mm
Optical zoom 40×
Maximum aperture F3.3–6.9
  • Contrast Detect (sensor)
  • Multi-area
  • Center
  • Tracking
  • Single
  • Continuous
  • Face Detection
  • Live View
Autofocus assist lamp Yes
Digital zoom Yes
Manual focus Yes
Normal focus range 5 cm (1.97)
Macro focus range 1 cm (0.39)
Screen / viewfinder
Articulated LCD Tilting
Screen size 3
Screen dots 922,000
Touch screen No
Screen type TFT LCD
Live view Yes
Viewfinder type None
Photography features
Minimum shutter speed 15 sec
Maximum shutter speed 1/3200 sec
Exposure modes
  • Auto
  • Program
  • Aperture priority
  • Shutter priority
  • Manual
Built-in flash Yes
Flash range 5.00 m
External flash No
Flash modes Auto, on, slow synchro, off
Drive modes
  • Single
  • Continuous
  • Self-timer
Continuous drive 10.0 fps
Self-timer Yes (2 or 10 secs, custom self-timer)
Metering modes
  • Multi
  • Center-weighted
  • Spot
Exposure compensation ±2 (at 1/3 EV steps)
Videography features
Format MPEG-4, H.264
  • 3840 x 2160 @ 30p, MP4, H.264, AAC
  • 1920 x 1080 @ 60p, MP4, H.264, AAC
  • 1920 x 1080 @ 30p, MP4, H.264, AAC
  • 1280 x 720 @ 60p, MP4, H.264, AAC
Microphone Stereo
Speaker Mono
Storage types SD/SDHC/SDXC card (UHS-I compatible)
USB USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
HDMI Yes (micro HDMI)
Microphone port No
Headphone port No
Wireless Built-In
Wireless notes 802.11b/g/n + NFC + Bluetooth
Remote control Yes (via smartphone)
Environmentally sealed No
Battery Battery Pack
Battery description NB-13L lithium-ion battery & charger
Battery Life (CIPA) 265
Weight (inc. batteries) 299 g (0.66 lb / 10.55 oz)
Dimensions 110 x 64 x 40 mm (4.33 x 2.52 x 1.57)
Other features
Orientation sensor Yes
Timelapse recording Yes (up to 4K)
GPS None

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Six Non-Photography Tips to Super-Charge Your Travel Photography

31 Jul

It’s a real challenge to portray the true essence of a destination and to show it to the world the way you see it. This genre, travel photography, calls for immense creativity, technical expertise, and unflinching dedication to the art. Every little detail that can weigh off your shoulders count.

I have been traveling across the most remote corners of the country and beyond for years now, and the best results are a boon of some of the non-photography decisions I’ve made. When you are on the road for long, you realize the real beauty of a travel shot goes deeper than its aesthetic value. All the technical training in the world, the best gear money can buy, and time-tested templates of composition can only take you so far. But then comes the real work. The stuff that makes a photograph, speak.

Six Non-Photography Tips to Super-Charge Your Travel Photography - overhead shot of a road and field

Here are six non-photography tips that will help you improve and super-charge your travel photography.

#1 – Go solo

This insanely frightening, uncomfortable, non-economic travel decision is also the most rewarding of all. This might mean, you will have to make all the plans, work out all the logistics, and deal with any issues by yourself. But, in a very unexpected way, this is what you need.

Travel photography does not allow for the luxury of blending and adjusting to plans of your co-travelers. The darkest hours, the first light of the sun, the busiest markets – what catches the artist’s eyes are endless. To be at the right time and the right place, you will need the freedom you only get when you have no strings attached.

Six Non-Photography Tips to Super-Charge Your Travel Photography - camera and the ocean

You must be ready to ditch your plans and make new ones at a snap, and be prepared for longer stays to get that one single extraordinary shot. Besides, you can always find backpacker hostels, local transport, and the denizen cuisine to fit into the budget; even without a companion to share the charges.

#2 – Learn the tongue

This tip is not just for the special ones with an eidetic memory though. Practically, all you need are a few dozen commonly used phrases and words to get the ball rolling. You will be amazed at how useful a little conversation with the locals can turn out to be, albeit with broken wording and all.

Six Non-Photography Tips to Super-Charge Your Travel Photography - Chinese writing

Learning the tongue goes beyond speaking a few words. It’s also about how you approach the culture and the people within. You have to understand them, think like them and start feeling their home like they do. That doesn’t just open up new doors and undiscovered locations but puts truth in the photographs.

The more you blend in with their culture, the more un-alienated the subject can be perceived.

#3 – Take the local choice

lady buying a bracelet from a monk - Six Non-Photography Tips to Super-Charge Your Travel Photography

The tourist trails are often unrevealing and pompous. The rustic secrets, the basic ingredients to amazing travel photographs need to be chased by getting off track. This might mean, taking the bumpy bus rides, eating spicy street food, cramped roadside shows, and everything over and under.

It adds an amazing perspective, nothing else can provide. Look for couch surfing and home-stays. Try the local cuisine and home-made meals. Take the local roads and transport, and even take part in the native leisure and social events. All of these things will add rocket fuel to your images.

Six Non-Photography Tips to Super-Charge Your Travel Photography - man sitting under columns

#4 – Volunteer

Taking time off from your camera sounds crazy, right? Being a part of the local’s life, besides gives an understanding of the destination, can be translated into unique perspectives, flavors, and themes in your work. The financial freedom, longer stays and new acquaintances are also invaluable.

bowl and hand with a stick - Six Non-Photography Tips to Super-Charge Your Travel Photography

This can be extended to work exchanges, internships, or any other short-term work you can find. Sites like Workaway, Volunteerhq, Helpx offer tons of opportunities all over the world. Deviating a little, one can consider online work, that can enable extended stays in a single place.

The goal is to try and get an inclusive feeling into the community and culture, standing in their shoes before photographing their homes.

#5 – Stay fit. Stay resistant.

mountains - Six Non-Photography Tips to Super-Charge Your Travel Photography

Being picky when traveling is the one biggest art killers. Compatibility of body and mind in extreme of conditions is the greatest tool you can ever have. A travel photographer needs to endure heat, rain, snow, and hail alike and still be ready to go.

Training so you are able to walk for miles or travel for hours is worth the effort exponentially. Being able to sleep wherever, eat whatever, and tune your body to be able to function in diverse habitats, let’s you break the physical barriers needed to visit THE photo spot. A tired body can no longer push itself for perfection.

Six Non-Photography Tips to Super-Charge Your Travel Photography - underwater shot

#6 – Be ready to take the leap

Adventure and nature photography are close cousins of the travel genre, and mastering them too makes you a Jedi. Most of your favorite shots are from off-beat places only the deadliest daredevils venture out. Economic travel facilities and easy gear have saturated the internet with spectacular shots.

sunset silhouette - Six Non-Photography Tips to Super-Charge Your Travel Photography

To make the difference, you have to see like no one has ever seen and go where no one has ever been. This might mean kayaking down the stream, cycling up a valley, hiking up a hill, or flying on a glider. Sometimes this might even mean, getting your own ride, staying in tents, and living off candy bars.

And more essentially, have a heart filled with enthusiasm and craving for adventure. Every step forward past other photographers is a step forward to more unique travel shots.

man in a field - Six Non-Photography Tips to Super-Charge Your Travel Photography


None of these skills require special training or innate power to accomplish. All of them can and will be acquired over time. But to be ready with these in mind, you can get one step ahead of every other photographer in town.

More than anything, a good travel photograph tells a good story and has a strong spirit to it. The best camera is what you have with you, or so they say. So, it’s time to hack into how you are going to make the best of it!

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Nissin MG10 hammerhead flash goes on sale

31 Jul

The MG10 hammerhead flash unit from manufacturer Nissin will be available from the end of this month priced $ 599. The handle-mount flash is designed to be used both attached to the camera and as a studio-type head, and has a maximum guide number of 262ft/80m@ ISO 100 and with the zoom set to the 200mm position.

When connected to the camera via the company’s 2.4Ghz Nissin Air System radio communication the flash can be remotely triggered and controlled, and the zoom head will automatically synchronize with the focal length of the lens in use. The head can adjust to cover focal lengths of between 24mm and 200mm, while an additional diffuser panel expands the coverage to 18mm. Using the Air system the flash unit can be used to trigger the camera too, as it has a shutter release button built-in to its grip.

The handle can be mounted on the left or the right side of the camera, and is powered by either eight AA cells or a pair of rechargeable PS8 lithium ion batteries. When the Li-ion batteries are in use recycling time drops from 3.5 seconds to just 1.5 seconds at full power, and we should expect 500 full power bursts per charge.

A modeling light is included to assist pre-visualization, and every unit comes with a quick release L mounting bracket, AA magazine, a ball head and a filter holder. Via the Nissin Air System the MG10 can wirelessly operate with up to eight groups of other flashes in TTL and M modes, and a MicroSD card slot is designed to allow users to update firmware themselves when improvements are released.

For more information see the Nissin website.

Press release

The ultimate power – Nissin MG10

An advance NAS 2.4Ghz Wireless strobe for on-camera and studio shoot

Nissin Japan Limited (Chairman Mr. Goto Chikara) proudly announces the MG10, an advance NAS (Nissin Air System) 2.4Ghz Wireless strobe for both on-camera and studio shoot, available in the bottom of Jun 2018

The MG10 is a high power (80GN, 165 w/s) advance strobe in the N.A.S., Nissin Air System*1. The flexible hand grip arrangement which can be used both left and right side with height level adjustment. Every single MG10 included a quick release mounting magnesium “L” bracket, AA battery magazine, Li-Ion battery magazine, ball head, filter holder and wide-angle diffuser. There is a shutter release button on top of the handle and standard adapter screw under the flash head for using in the studio shooting. It also fully supports Air 10s and Air 1 commander wirelessly.

Patented design – magnetically contacted motorized zoom head *2

The removable external motorized zoom allows MG10 to zoom 24 ~ 200mm and 18mm with diffuser. It can also control in manual and auto synchronize lens focal length via Air 10s.

Fast recycling time with full power

When two Li-ion batteries with PS8, type 26650, the recycling time is only 1.5 seconds (500 flashes with 5000mAh batteries or higher). With 8 AA re-chargeable batteries the recycle time is approximately 3.5 seconds*3.

High power modelling light (LED)

The powerful modelling light without zoom head which is perfect match for applying to the studio usage.

Set your group of strobes free – The Open Mode allowing multiple Air10s pair to the same group of strobes

The “open mode” allows for multiple Air10s units to pair the same group of the MG10 strobes which means the need to re-pair devices is eliminated. Even if cameras are changed, the same settings can be used as the shoot continues. This convenient functionality allows multiple cameras and commanders to share a same group of NAS strobes (MG10).

New wireless remote shutter replaces the camera shutter button

With the wireless remote button from flash, signal can transfer through the shutter cable socket (2.5mm) on Air 10s and then go to the camera. It is more flexible for holding MG10 as shutter release to moving around during shooting.

Independent control of maximum 8 groups

MG10 supports the basic and advance groups in maximum 8 groups via Air 10s. The basic group which is independently control the exposure setting in TTL or M mode. The advance group which is control both TTL and M mode in the mixing setting.

Sustainable performance – easily updated via a Micro SD card slot

The MG10 equipped with a Micro SD card slot that allows user to update the device easily by themselves. Nissin plans on putting a Micro SD card slot on all future strobes and commanders.

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You can now use Elinchrom’s ELB 500 TTL light with Sony, Olympus cameras

31 Jul

Elinchrom has announced a firmware update for its Transmitter PRO — formerly named Skyport Plus HS — that brings support for its ELB 500 TTL for Sony and Olympus cameras.

Firmware version 2.1 for Sony and Olympus now includes TTL, High Speed Sync (HSS) and Hi-Sync (HS) functionality when used with the ELB 500 TTL. These features, which are described in detail on Elinchrom’s website, bring more robust creative control to Sony and Olympus camera systems. Now, Canon, Nikon, Sony and Olympus users can all take full advantage of Elinchrom’s different flash modes.

Below is a full list of the release notes for firmware version 2.10 for Sony and Olympus (Canon and Nikon are on firmware version 2.20):

  • Skyport Plus HS is now named Transmitter PRO.
  • 2 modes are available: Manual, compatible with all Elinchrom units, and TTL for the ELB 500 TTL.
  • Swapped position of unit selection and modeling light feature on main dashboard.
  • Improved menu ergonomics – access features in the setup menu with the wheel and setting selection is clearer.
  • Automatic switch to HS mode – the camera’s shutter speed dictates which mode is activated.
  • Possibility to display power in F-Stops or Ws.
  • Unit name or unit ID can now be displayed.

Elinchrom also notes in the press release that Fujifilm users ‘will soon be rewarded for their wait.’ According to Elinchrom, the Transmitter PRO for Fujifilm will be available in September 2018.

You can download the latest firmware on Elinchrom’s firmware updater page.

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DJI Mavic 2 drones leak with Zoom and Pro model variants

31 Jul

DJI will release two variants of its upcoming Mavic 2 drone, according to a leaked product listing. The Mavic 2, which hasn’t been officially announced, appeared in a catalog issued by UK retailer Argos, which lists two model variants: the Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom.

The catalog listing, which was shared on Twitter by Brett Thake, describes the DJI Mavic 2 as a small drone with a 45mph / 72kph top speed, 31-minute max flight time, omni-directional obstacle sensing with APAS and Active Track 2.0, and an 8km / 5-mile transmission range, including 1080p video transmission. The Mavic 2 Pro is described as having a 1-inch CMOS Hasselblad camera, while the Mavic 2 Zoom variant advertises a 24-48mm equiv. 2x optical zoom.

DJI confirmed the leak in a statement to CNET, explaining that catalog was preprinted and scheduled before July 18, the date DJI originally planned to launch the Mavic 2

Assuming the catalog details are correct, this represents a significant upgrade from the original Mavic Pro and Pro Platinum. In particular, a 1-inch CMOS sensor should deliver significantly better performance than the 1/2.3″ sensor found in the earlier models, and has been one of the most frequently requested features from users.

Additionally, The Verge is reporting that users will be able to switch lenses on the camera.

The new models will also see an increase in flight time from 27 minutes to 31 minutes, as well as a top speed increase from 40mph to 45mph. Pricing information was not leaked by the catalog, but it does feature a partial image of the two drone variants.

DJI confirmed the leak in a statement to CNET, explaining that catalog was preprinted and scheduled before July 18, the date DJI originally planned to launch the Mavic 2. The event was ultimately postponed, but Argos apparently didn’t get the memo, proceeding with publication of the catalog including the Mavic 2 details. We’ve reached out to DJI for a statement and will update this article with any new information.

“This early look just hints at the many exciting features and capabilities DJI will announce at the proper time,” the company said in its statement.

Via: DroneDJ

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Time-Lapse Photography – Beyond the Basics

30 Jul

Time-lapse photography is a different way to show the world around you. They are videos which are made up of a serious of still images and combined to look like a movie. The frame-by-frame gives a sped-up view of the world. People find them interesting to look at and if done well they are fascinating.

Time-Lapse Photography – Beyond the Basics - sunset and lighthouse

One of the hundreds of photos taken at Point Lonsdale while trying to get a time-lapse there.

There are a few ways of making time-lapse videos The obvious way is to do a video and speed it up, however, most are made from lots of individual still images. Using special programs, you can put them together and set the time for the video to run.

In this article, I’ll share my experiences with you testing out some time-lapse gear and settings so you can learn along with me.

Basic Time-lapse

Doing time-lapse photography is relatively simple. All you really need to do is set your camera up on a tripod and get it to take a photo every few seconds. Put the images on your computer, batch process them if you like, then run some software that will allow you to make them into a time-lapse. Here is an example.


That is a very simplified way of looking at it. Of course, there are many other factors, like what is moving in the scene, how quickly it is moving, etc.

As you experiment more you will learn how to work out what time is best and how many images you need. On average, you will need 30 images for every second of video you want. So if you want a one minute video you will need 30 x 60 = 1800 images.

Adding panning to your time-lapse

Over the years I’ve played around with doing time-lapses, such as I just described. It didn’t seem hard and I thought that adding some new equipment would be fine, That it would just work. I was wrong.

Recently I was loaned quite a few products from Syrp here in Australia to try out. It seemed like the ideal time to step up what I was doing with these. Perhaps get more serious about doing time-lapse photography.

I was loaned enough gear to do panning, tilting, and sliding. In the kit were two Syrp Genie Minis, the tilt bracket, the Genie and the magic carpet rails.

Time-Lapse Photography – Beyond the Basics

Photo by Syrp showing a kit with the magic carpet rails, Genie, and tilt bracket.

Initially I decided to try just the Genie mini. Start with the easy one.

Time-Lapse Photography – Beyond the Basics

One of the stills from the first attempted time-lapse.

Syrp Genie Mini – first attempt

My first attempt was at the Tesselaar Kabloom Flower Festival. There were fields of flowers and lots of clouds, the conditions were perfect time-lapse photography. For a successful time-lapse it is best if there is something moving in the image.

I moved around a bit to various places, but the very first series I shot had to be deleted. The exposure was okay, but none of the images were in focus. It was my first big lesson with doing them this way. I learned that you have to focus the image and then turn off autofocus, otherwise, the camera will attempt to refocus for each image.

The Genie and Genie Minis are all controlled by an app on your phone. It is fairly simple to use, but the arcs for shooting can be confusing.

Next, I worked out how panning worked and wide it should be. Several different arcs were attempted and when I got home and loaded the photos, the problems were clear to see.


The first one was okay, but that was probably more luck than skill. I didn’t really know what I was doing and just let it go for ages, with the camera taking a photo every two seconds. There were around 450 images total.

For the next few, I told the Genie Mini to run for 6 minutes, and for the camera to shoot an image every two seconds. This time it took 360 images. The area it was panning over was increased. When converted to the time-lapse it was jerky and the panning was too fast.

Solutions, if you are going to do a wide pan, you need to take a lot more photos than you think you will need.

flower garden - time-lapse photography

Another one of the stills from the flower center.

Next attempt

I went down to a local area to try it out again, this time giving it more time. Unfortunately, I made a similar mistake.

As I was setting up, I had it in my head to do an image every 5 seconds and to set the pan to last for 20 minutes. This only gave me around 240 images for the video. It wasn’t enough, and the same problem occurred. Next time if I only want to do 20 minutes I should take a photo every two seconds. That will yield 600 images, which should make it a better time-lapse. That is what will be attempted next time.

A couple of other problems happened as well. While panning, the camera was not level for the whole scene. So, I need to work out how to make that happen. Practice will make it easier.


All the tutorials I’ve been watching say to use manual mode for exposure. However, this really only works for constant light. If you are shooting a scene where it is variable, then you may need to use aperture priority.

Working it out

There did come a point when I realized the smaller the arc the better. Not covering such a wide area was better. Making sure there was something interesting in the image as well, something moving.

The number of images and how far apart they are shot is another aspect that can be hard to work out. Taking a photo every 2 or 5 seconds is good for some scenes, but not others. However, it is a good place to start and as you do more time-lapse photography you will begin to understand what settings you need.


Most time-lapse series will result in a video of around 5-10 seconds. When you are compiling it, you need to think about how many images you will need.

As a general rule most are done with 30 frames per second, or 30 images per second. In theory then, for a 5-second time-lapse you will need 150 images. However, if you are adding panning to that, then it will depend on how far you pan. If you are covering a really wide area you might need a lot more images.

time-lapse scene at sunset

You have to make sure there is something interesting in the scene, and that there is movement.

Adding Tilting

Once you think you have worked out how to pan you can try tilting the image up and down as well as panning. I only tried this a couple of times, as the biggest problem I had was my camera is very heavy and the tilt bracket struggled with it. You could see that it was too much weight for the system.

I found that using the Genie Mini with it was a bit tricky and it would tilt the wrong way. The lens would hit the bracket if it went the wrong way. It was the most frustrating aspect.

Again, you have to be careful what you use this for. There needs to be a reason to tilt up or down. Waterfalls are a good choice for tilting. Maybe looking up at a building. Think about why you would do this beforehand.

Gliding along the Magic Carpet with the Genie

The magic carpet rails with the Genie on top will glide the camera along in a straight line. It can add a small amount of movement to your video to make it appear like the camera is moving.

The Genie was very complicated to use and after doing so once, I really didn’t want to use it again. It wasn’t as easy and intuitive to use as the Genie mini. I had been shown how to use it, but when I went to do it myself, I had trouble working it out. In the end, I only used it once.


It does add a nice effect to the final time-lapse, but I’m not sure it is worth the aggravation. Perhaps, if you really wanted to get into doing time-lapse photography seriously it would be worth spending the time learning how to get the best results.

However, Syrp have now upgraded it to the Genie II. It is supposed to be easier to use and can do a lot more. Though at $ 1599 USD, the price will put it out of the range of many photographers, myself included.

Syrp gear

For most of the time that I had the gear on loan, I used the Genie Mini the most. It was small enough that I could carry it around in my bag most of the time and it was easier to use. Using the phone to control it was never a problem.

It is something that will take a lot of getting used to, but for anyone starting out doing time-lapse photography it would be enough. The Genie Mini is what I would recommend. It isn’t cheap, for what it is, but not that expensive that if you really wanted to do time-lapse. The Syrp Genie Mini sells for USD$ 249.

In the end, by the time I had to give the gear back, I knew I wanted to do more time-lapse photography. So I have since purchased the Genie Mini. I like what I can do with it, it’s simpler to use and the price-point is doable for most people.


Storage and processing the time-lapse

Everyone recommends you take raw images for your time-lapse series, that way you can process them in Lightroom. The biggest problem is the size of the raw files. My D850 has raw files that are approximately 50MB each, so when you are taking a few hundred images, that requires a lot of space.

Thankfully, the D850 has the ability to change the size of the raw files, so I can use smaller ones for time-lapse. If your camera has this feature, then I suggest you do so. Once the images are processed and the time-lapse is done, you can delete the raw files as you will be unlikely to use them again.

time-lapse still Princes Pier

Princes Pier is a popular place for photos, so it seemed like a good idea to try a time-lapse. This is one of the still images from the series.

Using Lightroom to process the images is good as you can edit one image, then sync the rest of them. This will help give all your images the same look. You can then export them to make the time-lapse.

I used Photoshop to build the time-lapse. However, there are many different programs available to try. Some will give you more control, however, Photoshop is quite basic. It’s a good place to start.

If you have trouble getting Photoshop to work it could be the sequence of images you are using. They have to be consistent, or Photoshop won’t load the images properly.


Getting into time-lapse photography

If this is something you want to try, then start with your camera on a tripod. Take photos every few seconds.

However, if you want to get some camera movement, then I would try the Syrp Genie Mini. Learn how to use it completely to get the best videos. If you decide to add more then you can look at doing tilting and gliding. Don’t confuse yourself by trying to learn it all at once.

Read more on time-lapse photography here:

  • How to Shoot and Create a Time-Lapse Video Using Lightroom
  • How to Shoot a Pine Cone Time-lapse: A Mini Tutorial
  • Time-Lapse Photography Equipment Guide to Getting Started
  • Discover the Wonder of Time-Lapse Photography
  • 10 Pro Motion Control Time-Lapse Tips
  • Time-Lapse Photography – a Quick Guide to Building Your Movie

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