Archive for April, 2020

British Museum launches revamped online collections database early with 1.9M images

30 Apr

On Tuesday, April 28, the British Museum announced that it is the latest institution to make digitized images of its various collections available for free online. The ‘revamped’ online collections database now contains 1.9 million images that are offered to the public under the restrictive Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0 license, which allows for non-commercial use with attribution.

According to the announcement tweet from British Museum, its team expedited the release of this new online database so that the public can browse the museum’s collections while in quarantine at home. The launch follows similar big digitized collections launches from institutions like Paris Musées and The Smithsonian.

This revamp simplifies things for public users who are no longer required to register in order to use the images. Going forward, anyone can browse the online collections database and download any of the 1.9 million images for non-commercial use with attribution. Each image is scanned at a high-resolution; the online viewer enables users to zoom in on objects to view fine details.

According to the British Museum, this collection features two million years’ worth of history that spans six continents. The museum digitized nearly 4.5 million objects, making it the largest online collection of its kind. British Museum explains that its revamped interface not only provides access to these images for free but also makes it easier for the public to find the specific items they’re looking for.

The online collections are vast, including everything from ancient Egyptian sculptures to Assyrian artifacts, Greek objects, Iranian jewelry, artwork from the Roman Empire and much more. Viewers can sort through the content based on collection galleries, as well as searches using museum numbers, persons, places and keywords.

This launch is a welcomed addition to the growing body of digitized artifacts and other works made available to the general public online. However, the release isn’t without criticism. Unlike The Smithsonian and Paris Musées, both of which released their online collections with Creative Common 0 licenses, the British Museum’s collection is made available under the CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license.

Author and activist Coro Doctorow highlighted some of the concerns related to this in a recent tweet thread, pointing out, among other things, that UK law states that copyrights can only subsist in cases where the work is ‘original in the sense that it is the author’s own ‘intellectual creation.” Among other things, the nation’s copyright law [PDF, page 3] notes that it’s ‘unlikely that what is merely a retouched, digitised image of an older work can be considered as ‘original.”

Critics have also pointed out that Wikimedia Commons only allows images that aren’t ‘subject to copyright restrictions which would prevent them being used by anyone, anytime, for any purpose,’ meaning the British Museum’s digitized collections can’t be included in the Commons catalog.

Despite these concerns, the revamped database is a step in the right direction. The British Museum has been commended for the effort it put into this launch — not just for the high-resolution images and scans of the content, but also the number of tools and information the museum provides for each listing.

The database includes the name(s) of the original excavator who discovered the items, where the object was found, the materials it is made from, the technique used to craft it, its size and weight, its present condition, where it was acquired, its registration number and more. The collection is available here.

Via: ianVisits

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Sony provides an in-depth look at the Sony Xperia 1 II camera tech

30 Apr

Sony first announced its triple-camera-equipped Xperia 1 Mark II flagship phone in February but users around the world are still waiting for the commercial release of the device. Once available, with its photo-centric design that borrows a number of features from Sony’s Alpha series cameras, the Xperia 1 Mark II should be a compelling option for mobile photographers. Now the company has shared additional information on camera technology and features in Japan.

In its primary camera the new Sony offers the same 12MP resolution as its predecessor. However, those pixels are distributed across a larger sensor surface. The Mark II’s 1/1.7″ primary sensor is quite a bit bigger than the Mark 1’s 1/2.6″ variant, but still falls short of some other flagship phones. The Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro and Huawei P40 Pro for example come with 1/1.33″ and 1/1.28″ sensors respectively.

The Xperia 1 Mark II comes with a larger sensor than its predecessor.

However, Sony is deploying a different strategy to most of its direct rivals. Both rival phones mentioned above use much higher resolution sensors and pixel-binning technology to reduce noise levels and capture images with a wide dynamic range.

Sony bets on ‘traditional’ large 1.8µm pixels, which, according to the company, make the new sensor 50 percent more light sensitive than its predecessor and results in improved low light performance.

The 12MP sensor offers faster read-out than the 108MP Quad-Bayer sensors used in some competitors.

Sony says the conventional design of the sensor offers faster read-out speeds than the pixel-binning Quad-Bayer technology deployed in most current high-end phones. The entire sensor can be read out in 10ms versus 32ms for a 12MP image from a Quad-Bayer sensor.

The sensor features 247 phase detection points.

This speed is necessary to enable the Mark II’s 20fps continuous shooting with autoexposure and autofocus. Dual-Pixel AF is embedded into the sensor and an additional 3D time-of-flight (ToF) sensor supports the system. Overall, the camera can use 247 phase detection points on the image sensor and 43,200 points from the ToF sensor to perform AF calculations.

The AF also uses data from a 3D time-of-flight sensor.

This is done by Sony’s BIONZ X branded image processor which performs 60 AE/AF calculations per second to keep subjects in focus and the image well exposed. The new phone also comes with the Eye AF feature that we already saw on the original Xperia 1. However, now it can lock on to animal eyes in addition to human eyes.

The ultra-wide and tele lenses of the triple-camera setup cannot quite keep up with the primary shooter in terms of read-out speed and processing, though. They both offer continuous shooting at 10fps with AE/AF enabled and AE/AF calculations are performed at a slower rate of 30 per second.

Sony says the triple-camera offers the same flexbility as a camera system with 16-35, 24-70 and 70-200mm lenses.

This said, with equivalent focal lengths of 74mm for the tele and 16mm for the ultra-wide, both cameras make nice additions to the primary camera’s 24mm-equivalent lens, covering a wide range of shooting situations. Sony goes as far as comparing the lenses in the Xperia 1 Mark II triple camera to a full-frame lens set including a 16-35mm wide-angle, a 24-70m standard zoom and a 70-200mm tele-zoom. Those lenses should have you prepared for almost anything, and according to the company the same is true for the phone’s triple-cam.

To make the new device even more attractive to serious photographers it comes with Sony’s new Photography Pro app, which features Shutter and Aperture priority modes in addition to a bunch of other manual controls you would find on the company’s mirrorless cameras. Most camera apps offer some sort of manual controls these days, usually in the shape of a separate ‘Pro mode’, but it looks like Sony is taking things a step further than most.

The Photography Pro app offers a range of manual modes and settings.

The Xperia 1 Mark II is also the first Sony smartphone to feature a ZEISS lens. ZEISS lenses can be found on many of Sony’s Cybershot compact cameras and are also available with an E-mount for Alpha cameras. ZEISS lenses featured on Nokia phones previously but the new Sony is the first to come with the German lens maker’s T* anti-reflective coating to reduce glare and ghosting effects.

It’s good to see Sony, which is the only current smartphone manufacturer that also runs a sizeable camera operation, creating more synergies and technology interchange between its mobile and Alpha divisions. Now we just need to wait for the device to appear in the market and see if the camera can compete with the best. According to rumors that could happen as soon as next week, starting in Taiwan.

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Raspberry Pi launches 12.3MP interchangeable lens camera module for its Pi computers

30 Apr

What if I told you that for just $ 50, you could have yourself a fully-customizable interchangeable lens camera capable of shooting 12.3MP stills and capturing 4K/30p video? You’d probably tell me to kick dirt, but the truth is that’s now a possibility thanks to Raspberry Pi’s new ILC camera module and accompanying lenses, which start at just $ 25.

‘There has always been a big overlap between Raspberry Pi hackers and camera hackers,’ reads the Raspberry Pi blog post announcing the setup. ‘Even back in 2012, people (okay, substantially Dave Hunt) were finding interesting ways to squeeze more functionality out of DSLR cameras using their Raspberry Pi computers.’

The full kit currently available from Raspberry Pi.

Since 2013, Raspberry Pi has released a few different camera modules: the original 5MP camera board based around the OmniVision OV5647 sensor, a Pi NoIR board for infrared photography and a follow-up camera board that used the Sony IMX219 8MP sensor (this unit replaced Raspberry Pi’s 5MP camera board, which has the distinction of being just two other products the company has ever officially discontinued).

Despite selling more than 1.7 million units of the 8MP camera boards to date, the Raspberry Pi team wasn’t content with the limitations put in place by fixed-focus camera modules with small sensors and poor performance. Enter the new Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera.

This new module is build around the Type 1/2.3” (7.9mm diagonal) Sony IMX477 backside-illuminated CMOS sensor that features 1.55?m pixels (double that of the IMX219 found in the 8MP camera board). In front of the sensor is a C and CS lens mount with adjustable back-focus, a mount most commonly used on 8mm, 16mm cameras, closed-circuit security cameras and other industrial-focused systems. It even features a built-in 1/4”-20 tripod mount for supporting the system.

While any off-the-shelf C- and CS-mount lenses will work with the new sensor, Raspberry Pi has announced it will be working with its official retail partners to carry a pair of lenses: a 6mm CS-mount lens and a 16mm C-mount lens for $ 25 and $ 50, respectively. There’s always the option of 3D printing and purchasing third-party adapters to create wild combinations, such as this monster, shown below, built around the Canon 70–200mm F2.8 IS II lens.

The possibilities are nearly endless.

The High Quality Camera is compatible with ‘almost all’ Raspberry Pi models, starting with the original Raspberry Pi 1. The only exception are a number of early Raspberry Pi Zero boards that lack the connector. Raspberry Pi has compiled accompanying support documentation on the product page, including a ‘Getting Started’ guide. There’s also ‘The Official Raspberry Pi Camera Guide’ that’s available to download for free as a PDF or buy in physical form on the Raspberry Pi Press Store for £10.

The Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera, which will remain in production until at least January 2027 per Raspberry Pi’s obsolescence statement, is available starting today for $ 50 on the Raspberry Pi website.

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How to Create Mandalas in Photoshop Using Stack Modes

30 Apr

The post How to Create Mandalas in Photoshop Using Stack Modes appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Megan Kennedy.

create mandalas in photoshop with stack modes

There are so many facets to Photoshop that even regular users can sometimes be surprised by new ways to use particular features. Stack Modes is one of the tools in the Photoshop repertoire that I’ve only just started really playing with recently. And, it turns out, the function is great for generating intricate patterns and even mandala-like designs. In this tutorial, I’ll guide you through the steps to create mandalas in Photoshop with Stack Modes.

create mandalas in Photoshop

Can I use Stack Modes?

First things first – unfortunately, Stack Modes aren’t available in all versions of Photoshop. For this tutorial, I’m going to be using Photoshop CS6 Extended. Doing a little research, it looks like Extended and CC versions of Photoshop have the stack mode function. However, if you don’t have the Stack Modes tool required for this tutorial, you can try creating something a little similar here.

What are Stack Modes?

So what exactly are Stack Modes?

The Stack Modes function works by combining a group of image layers with similar content into the one image. For example, astrophotographers may use Stack Modes to combine hundreds of shots into one frame.

Stack Modes can also be used to reduce noise and remove people and objects from photos. It’s a pretty nifty function!

What are mandalas?

Throughout history, mandalas have seen numerous incarnations and applications. Meaning circle in Sanskrit, mandalas are a geometric array of symbols and designs made for spiritual, meditative and artistic purposes.

In modern terminology, mandala is a phrase sometimes used to describe other circular visual arrangements like spirographs and scientific diagrams. The term mandala may also be used to describe the meditative or visual quality of an artwork.

How to create mandalas in Photoshop with Stack Modes

Setting up

To create mandalas in Photoshop, the first step is to pick a single photograph to work with. Something with a few colors and small details is a good bet. I’m going with the flower seen below:

create mandalas in photoshop with stack modes flower close up

Open your image in Photoshop and right-click on the image layer in the Layers Panel. Select Duplicate Layer… and click OK at the prompt.

Select the Background layer in the Layers Panel (not Background copy) and hit Delete.

Next, click on Image on the top toolbar. Select Canvas Size… and (roughly) double the height and width of your canvas so we have room to expand the design.

Click OK.

How to Create Mandalas in Photoshop Using Stack Modes

Adjusting layers

Drag your image to the top of the canvas. Right-click on your image layer in the Layers Panel and select Duplicate Layer… hit OK at the prompt.

With the Move Tool selected, click on the image on the canvas to select it (one layer will be behind the other).

Hold the Shift key on your keyboard down and drag the selected image by the top-middle transform control icon towards the bottom of the canvas, flipping the image to mirror the remaining photograph so it looks like this:

create mandalas in photoshop with stack modes – duplicating the image

Select both layers by depressing the Shift key and clicking on each layer in the Layers Panel.

Right-click on either layer icon and select Merge Layers. The two layers will merge into one. Drag the merged image to the left edge of the canvas.

Right-click on the layer in the layers panel and hit Duplicate Layer… and Click OK at the prompt. Hold down the Shift key and click the left-most transform icon and drag the duplicated layer towards the right edge of the canvas, flipping the second layer to mirror the first. Like in the example below:

create mandalas in photoshop with stack modes – duplicating the image again

Making room

We have a pretty cool image now, but we aren’t finished yet!

To create mandalas in Photoshop, we need to extend the canvas further to accommodate the rest of the layers we will be making.

Click on Image->Canvas Size… and add an extra hundred-or-so cm’s to the height and width of the image. Don’t worry if the canvas looks too large, we can always crop it back down once the mandala is finished.

Back to layers

Okay. In the expanded canvas, select our two layers by holding Shift and clicking on both layers in the Layers Panel. Right-click and select Merge Layers.

Next, right-click on the merged layer and click Duplicate Layer… Click OK at the prompt. Hold down the Shift Key and rotate this newly created layer to form a cross-like structure.

How to Create Mandalas in Photoshop Using Stack Modes

Duplicate one of the layers again and rotate it so that it looks like mine below:

create mandalas in photoshop with stack modes – rotating the image

Duplicate the layer again and rotate it so that your image looks like this:

How to Create Mandalas in Photoshop Using Stack Modes

You can continue adding layers with the duplicate/rotate process until you are happy with the look of your image, or you can leave it as is.

When you are ready, select all the layers in the Layers Panel by holding Shift and clicking on the first and then the last layer in the Layers panel. Right-click on the selection and select Convert to Smart Object. This will combine your layers into a single Smart Object.

Making the mandala happen

With all this duplicating and rotating, the final step to creating mandalas in Photoshop is pretty straight forward. With your Smart Object layer selected, click Layer (in the top tool bar) then click on Smart Objects->Stack Modes. A range of options like Entropy and Kurtosis will become available.

How to Create Mandalas in Photoshop Using Stack Modes

You can look up the exact mathematics behind each setting here, but basically, each option is an algorithm that blends the layers together a different way. Select one and see how it looks…and if you don’t like it, simply undo it and try a different mode.

Here’s my result using the Maximum Stack Mode:

create mandalas in photoshop with stack modes – the final result
The result from using the Maximum Stack Mode

Final touches

Now you have your mandala, the rest is up to you! You can adjust the colors of your creation or increase/decrease the contrast…you can even invert the colors via the Curves Adjustment Layer and see what that looks like.

You can create mandalas in Photoshop forever – the possibilities are endless! It’s a great opportunity to experiment and explore.

If you’ve created a mandala with this method, go ahead and share below!

The post How to Create Mandalas in Photoshop Using Stack Modes appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Megan Kennedy.

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Watch ‘My Friends Were Mountaineers’, a film about photographer Dee Molenaar

30 Apr

Dee Molenaar, an icon in the Pacific Northwest mountaineering community passed away recently at the age of 101. Filmmaker Eric Becker, a long time collaborator of DPReview was lucky enough to spend some time with Dee around his 100th birthday. What resulted was a short film produced by Eric in collaboration with DPReview about Dee’s life, his love of the mountain climbing community and his prolific work as a visual artist.

The film takes a look into Dee’s expansive archive of paintings, hand drawn maps, 8mm film footage and a treasure trove of archival slide photographs. You can watch the final piece above, and read on for a personal account, from Eric, of the background behind the film.

Eric Becker – director

In 2018 I was finishing up my feature documentary Return to Mount Kennedy, which centers around the first ascent in 1965 of a remote mountain in the Yukon – Mount Kennedy – then newly named after assassinated president John F. Kennedy. Climber Jim Whittaker lead the expedition, which included JFK’s brother, Bobby Kennedy.

Dee Molenaar was one of the photographers in the group. I originally connected with his family to track down some of his original images, but in talking to Dee’s son Peter I learned that there was a lot more to his life and work than just that one trip, back in 1965. Peter invited me to come and go through his father’s photos, and it occurred to me that this might make for an interesting short film on its own.

When I arrived at Peter’s house to take a look through his father’s archives, I was shocked. There were just so many boxes of slides, reels of footage, and beautiful paintings that Dee had created during his life. Peter mentioned that Dee’s 100th birthday was coming up in June and that the family was planning to take him to Mt. Rainier to visit his favorite place on earth. At this point, I knew there was a story.

There was a bittersweet element to the trip which gave it an emotional thrust – the unspoken sense that this would probably be Dee’s last opportunity to see the place

Good stories need some key ingredients. First off, there needs to be visual material to work with, which we had in volumes, in the form of Dee’s photographs and paintings. Second, you need strong characters. Peter was totally comfortable being filmed, and the love and admiration he had for his father came through when he spoke. The same was true of his sister Karen, and his brother David.

The third ingredient is action. In this case it was the simple act of taking a 100 year-old man to see his beloved mountain. There was a bittersweet element to the trip which gave it an emotional thrust – the unspoken sense that this would probably be Dee’s last opportunity to see the place.

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During the making of this film we digitized about 40 reels of 8mm film footage and found some absolutely beautiful imagery of the Pacific Northwest in the 1940, 50’s and 60’s. I also read Dee’s autobiography and did as much research as I could to get some background on his life and work. We filmed interviews with the Molenaar family, and we joined Dee on the trip to Mount Rainier.

My favorite moment was when I showed Dee some of his films that we had digitized. He watched them on an iPad for about 45 minutes and was totally tuned in, even talking about some of the people and places.

This was a very archive-heavy project, and the bulk of the editing for this short film happened in early 2019 once we had collected all of the pieces. Editing is both my favorite and least favorite part of the process, but it’s where the magic happens. Whenever young filmmakers ask for advice, I tell them to learn the tools, including editing. The reality is that cameras and computers are so inexpensive and user-friendly these days that the way to distinguish yourself from the crowd is to focus on the craft of it all. And getting good at editing, as anxiety-ridden as the process can be, is one of the easiest ways to advance your craft as a storyteller.

Getting good at editing, as anxiety-ridden as the process can be, is one of the easiest ways to advance your craft as a storyteller

We made the film using the Fujifilm X-H1, some of it handheld shooting internal 4K but mostly paired with an Atomos Shogun, with Senheiser wireless lavs for sound. We have a simple rig that holds everything. Aside from the camera (which changes from shoot to shoot) this is the same basic setup we use for all of the DPReview long-form videos. Everything was shot in 24p, except for some 60p footage that we captured for slow motion. We used the Fujifilm Eterna profile, and I cut the piece in Adobe Premier Pro.

With this video and with all of the other pieces in the long-form series that we’ve shot with DPReview, I hope we’ve succeeded in inspiring people to get out and shoot. I’d like to think that Dee would approve.

Read Dee Molenaar’s obituary at

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The Fujifilm X100V is our favorite prime lens compact camera

30 Apr

We’ve updated our ‘best fixed prime lens camera’ buying guide and – no surprise here – the Fujifilm X100V came out on top.

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DPReview TV: Take better indoor portraits with natural light

30 Apr

Want to shoot some portraits with great lighting while stuck at home? We show you how – and you probably won’t need any new gear to do it! If Chris and Jordan can light a scene with a Rubbermaid container lid, so can you.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel to get new episodes of DPReview TV every week.

  • Introduction
  • Window light
  • Reflecting fill light
  • Negative fill
  • Overexposing windows
  • Controlling background light
  • Three easy poses
  • For more info…

Sample gallery from this episode

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ProGrade Digital’s new microSDXC cards offer faster speeds at lower prices

30 Apr

ProGrade Digital has released an updated line of UHS-II microSDXC cards that offer improved read and write speeds at a lower cost than ProGrade’s previous microSDXC lineup.

The new microSDXC UHS-II V60 memory cards feature read and burst write speeds up to 250MB/s and 130MB/s, respectively, a 50MB/s increase in both departments compared to their predecessors. Sustained, the cards only guarantee 60MB/s write speeds, as denoted by the V60 label. Despite the increased performance, the lineup, which now includes a 256GB option will retail for much less than the cards they’re replacing.

The 64GB, 128GB and 256GB cards retail for $ 34.99, $ 54.99 and $ 99.99, respectively; that’s $ 15 and $ 45 less than the previously available 64GB and 128GB cards, respectively. In addition to a three-year warranty, all cards will come with a UHS-II SD adapter and ProGrade’s Refresh Pro software for keeping tabs on the health of the cards.

It doesn’t appear as though other retails have listed the new cards yet, but both the 64GB and 128GB versions are available to purchase on ProGrade Digital’s website. The 256GB option will be available sometime in the second quarter of 2020, according to ProGrade Digital.

The old 200MB/s microSDXC cards The newer 250MB/s microSDXC cards

Something worth keeping in mind when looking for these cards is to make sure you’re getting these new, updated cards, rather than the old cards. The design on the cards is effectively identical with the only noticeable difference being the read speeds printed on the cards. The old cards will read ‘200MB/s’ while the new cards will read ‘250MB/s.’

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Lomography’s new Analogue Aqua is an underwater ‘Simple Use’ film camera

30 Apr

Lomography has announced the release of the Analogue Aqua a new ‘simple use’ reloadable camera that comes packed an underwater case.

The Analogue Aqua is the latest version of Lomography’s take on the disposable 35mm film camera—this time with an aquatic twist thanks to its protective plastic housing, which is waterproof down to 10m (33ft).

The kit will be available in two versions, pre-loaded with one of two Lomography film stocks: Color Negative 400, for ‘classic analogue character’ or LomoChrome Purple for ‘violet tones that flourish and fade,’ in the words of Lomography. When you finish the 27-exposure pre-loaded film, you can put another roll in its place with the help of Lomography’s guide, giving you the convenience of a disposable camera with much less waste.

The camera itself operates on a single ‘AA’ battery, features a very rudimentary 31mm F9 lens, will focus on anything from beyond 1m (3ft) to infinity and has a permanent shutter speed of 1/120th of a second. In the event you need more light, the camera features a built-in flash that can fire once every 15 seconds.

Below are a few sample photos provided by Lomography:

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The Lomography Analogue Aqua ‘Simple Use’ camera is available in both the Color Negative 400 and LoomChrome Purple versions starting today for $ 40 on Lomography’s online shop. The first units will ship out in May.

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5 Tips for Doing Photography While Social Distancing

29 Apr

The post 5 Tips for Doing Photography While Social Distancing appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

5 Tips for Doing Photography While Social Distancing

Are you having a hard time doing photography while social distancing?

Do you need some help determining what and how to photograph during these difficult times?

5 Tips for Doing Photography While Social Distancing
90mm | f/2.8 | 1/320s | ISO 320

You’ve come to the right place.

Because as hard as it is to deal with the current situation, there are still photographic opportunities everywhere.

You just have to know how to see them!

So if you’re looking to capture some great images, even now…

…read on.

1. Go on walks and photograph the scenery

Plenty of countries are currently in full lockdown, which means that you can only leave your home for exercise.

But while you’re out walking, why not take some pictures?

Obviously, don’t approach people on the street or linger too long in one place.

But there are plenty of gorgeous parks out there where you can capture some stunning landscapes as you walk along.

trees captured on walk
An image taken on a recent walk.
Canon EF 24-70mm f4L lens|70mm| f/8.0| 1/20s| ISO 200

And if you don’t live near a park, just go for a walk around your neighborhood! Take some photos of trees waving in the sunlight, of flowers starting to bloom in gardens, and more.

The opportunities are endless. The key is to be open to more unusual, spontaneous images.

By the way, I’d recommend using a telephoto lens for this, such as a 70-200mm zoom; that way, you can stay on paths and avoid approaching houses and other people.

I’d also recommend going out at sunrise or sunset, when the light is warm and golden. That way, you can capture gorgeous skies, gorgeous clouds, and just take in the beautiful world.

2. Capture gorgeous macro photos in the garden

It’s now officially spring in the Northern Hemisphere.

With spring comes flowers, and with flowers comes the potential for beautiful macro shots.

Get your closest-focusing lens, or a dedicated macro lens if you have one, and go out into your garden.

photography while social distancing –rose center from garden
You can easily photograph flowers like these in the garden!
Nikon 60mm f2.8 lens | 60mm| f/5.0| 1/200| ISO 320

Look for flowers, and try to capture some beautiful colors, textures, and even more abstract flora shots.

I recommend doing macro photography on cloudy days, because the diffused light will help bring out flower colors.

I also recommend getting down low, on a level with your subject, so you can portray the world from a more intimate perspective.

By the way, if you don’t have any flowers, that’s okay!

You can still photograph plants, trees, buds, or even weeds. The beauty of macro photography is that there are subjects everywhere.

3. Spend time creating a studio in your home

If you’re like me, you’ve always wanted to create a photography studio in your home.

But you just haven’t had the time.

Imagine what you could do with a studio (after all the social distancing is over, that is!).

You could do portrait photoshoots.

You could do pet photoshoots.

You could create all sorts of still life setups.

You could do high-speed photos of balloons popping, or of colored water, or of products, or of food…

Really, you can do tons with a proper studio.

photography while social distancing –studio shot taken at home of pet
A home studio is great for capturing photos of pets!
55mm| f/6.3| 1/160s | ISO 250

So why not set it up now, while you’re stuck at home?

Here’s what you need:

First, some sort of backdrop. A black tablecloth will work just fine for many purposes, but you can also use a large, white slab of cardboard, a proper photography backdrop (these can be purchased online), or even an interesting wall.

Next, you’ll want at least one light source. You can use natural light, in which case you should simply position your studio near a window (ideally with the window light coming from slightly in front of your setup, so you have light falling on your subject from the front and side).

You can also use artificial light, which is what I’d recommend; this gives you more options and limits you less in terms of shooting on poorly-lit days and at night.

If you do go with artificial light, you’re going to want several speedlights at the very least. I recommend two for beginners, though three is also a good number, and one is adequate if you’d like to keep costs down. These speedlights will need to be held up with light stands, so you’ll want a couple of those.

You’ll also need light modifiers. Options here include umbrellas, softboxes, diffusers, snoots, and more. Though I’d recommend going with a couple of basic umbrellas because these are great for softening the light and easy for beginners to get the hang of.

Last, if you’re doing any sort of product or still life photography, you’re going to want a table. A simple wooden option works well, and it doesn’t have to look new. A bit of texture can make your product shots and still lifes even more interesting!

And speaking of still life photography:

4. Level up your still life photography skills

If you’ve ever considered pursuing still life photography, now is a great time.

You can do still lifes with a studio setup, as discussed above.

Or you can do still lifes without much of anything, except a few subjects, some window light, a table, and a wall.

The latter method is practically free, and it can result in stunning shots. So it’s a great way to get started with still life work over the next few months.

For basic still life subjects, fruit is a great choice (I’m partial to pears and apples, but you can use basically anything).

Flowers, including cut flowers you can grab when checking out at the grocery store, are an excellent option, as well.

In fact, you can do all sorts of cool photography with flowers or fruit. While it’s possible to do classic still lifes, you can also do more abstract shots, like this:

photography while social distancing –abstract still life flower
This type of black background, illuminated flower setup is something you can work on when doing still life photography.
Canon EF 100mm f2.8L Macro | 100mm | f/2.8 | 1/100s | ISO 200

Given the current situation, I don’t recommend taking trips to the store just to buy still life subjects.

But if you’re already at the store, there’s not much harm in grabbing a couple of extra apples or a bouquet of flowers.

And, by the way:

You can also do still life photography using objects you find in your home.

Objects such as bowls, plates, silverware, vases, jugs, antiques, and much more.

So don’t feel like you have to go out into the world to get subjects. Some of the best subjects are right in the house with you!

5. Get to know your camera while stuck inside

Cameras are complicated.

Which means that there are probably things you don’t know about them, but should be familiar with if you want to capture the best possible photos.

So, whenever you get the chance, I recommend you turn on your camera and explore.

Start with all the external buttons. Do you know what they can all do?

Then dig into the menu items. Scan over every single option.

photography while social distancing – chandelier hook in house
While getting to know my camera, I snap a lot of random pictures to test out functions. This is one of my most recent ones!
Canon EOS R | Canon 24-70 f4 lens | 70mm| f/4.0 | 1/160s | ISO 3200

And as soon as you hit something you’re not sure about, or you’re not completely familiar with…

…look it up.

(You can use your camera manual, or you can just do a quick Google search.)

If it’s an especially useful feature, then make a note. And ensure that, the next time you get a chance to do some photography, you try it out.

Make sense?

And by the way, every camera is different. So if you have multiple cameras, I recommend you follow this tip for each and every one of them.

That way, when things are better, you’ll feel much more at home with your camera.


Hopefully, these tips will help you continue to improve your photography while social distancing.

Because while things are tough, it really is possible to keep up your photography!

So good luck, and stay safe! And, as always, share your photos with us in the comments section!

blossom on tree

The post 5 Tips for Doing Photography While Social Distancing appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

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