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10 Essential Things to Think About for Portrait Photography

05 Sep

The post 10 Essential Things to Think About for Portrait Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Darlene Hildebrandt.

10 essential things for portrait photography

Portrait photography isn’t easy, and in fact, there are many elements that go into a great portrait. You have to think about the technical stuff like exposure and focus, as well as the non-technical stuff like composition and working with a live subject.

If you’re just starting out with portrait shooting, all this can be pretty daunting. That’s why I’ve broken it down, piece by piece, into the 10 crucial elements you need to think about when doing portraits.

Starting with number one:

1. Lighting pattern

The lighting pattern refers to how the light falls on your subject’s face. Note that your lighting pattern will determine the mood of the final portrait and whether or not the subject is flattered. Therefore, it’s a critical piece of the portrait photography puzzle, one you must get right for impactful results.

There are four main types of lighting patterns:

  1. Split lighting
  2. Loop lighting
  3. Rembrandt lighting
  4. Butterfly lighting

And there are two lighting pattern styles:

  1. Short lighting
  2. Broad lighting

For a sense of what lighting can do, check out these examples:

Portrait tips lighting ratios

Left: Split lighting | Right: Loop lighting

Portrait tips lighting ratios

Left: Broad lighting | Right: Short lighting. Notice how different my subject looks in each image, particularly her nose!

So study different patterns. Test out different options. And note what works best in different situations!

2. Lighting ratio

A ratio is a comparison of one thing to another; here, the ratio compares the dark and light sides of your subject’s face. How much difference is there from the shadow to the highlight side?

Higher lighting ratios lead to greater contrast and increased moodiness. On the other hand, lower ratios lead to less contrast and will give your portraits a lighter, fresher feeling.

Look at the following examples:

Portrait tips lighting with reflectors

The ratio on the leftmost image is very strong, about 16:1 (four stops). The middle image ratio is about 4:1 (two stops), and the rightmost image ratio is almost 1:1 (even).

Note that, as I took these photos, the only difference from one to the next was a reflector (the more even the ratio, the more I included the reflector). And note how the mood and feel of the portrait changes as the contrast is adjusted.

3. Quality of light

Another aspect of lighting you need to think about when shooting? Whether you want your light to be hard or soft.

Hard light is produced by a small source and is characterized by high contrast, enhanced subject texture, added drama, and harsh, well-defined shadow edges. Examples of hard light sources are:

  • The sun (yes, it’s large, but it’s far enough way to be relatively small)
  • A bare light bulb
  • The small built-in flash on your camera
  • An unmodified speedlight

Here are two portraits with hard light. Which use of hard light is more appropriate for the subject?

hard light portrait

hard light portrait miner

Soft light is produced by a very large light source. It is low contrast (i.e., flat), less texture-enhancing, and is more forgiving and flattering for people photography. Examples of soft light sources are:

  • The sky on an overcast day
  • Large studio softboxes
  • A large reflector
  • An on-camera flash that has been bounced off a ceiling or wall

Here are two portraits done using soft light. Which use of soft light is more appropriate for the subject?

soft light portrait of a woman

soft light miner portrait

Along with the lighting ratio, the quality of light will have a major affect on the mood and feeling of your portrait. Choose soft light for flattering, beautiful portraits, and choose hard light for an edgier look with more grit and drama.

4. Lens selection

Your lens will change the appearance of both the subject and the background.

A wide-angle lens will introduce distortion and cause the subject’s face to look abnormal and stretched. It will also give you a large, sweeping view of the background.

wide-angle portrait of a woman in a classroom

Take a look at the example above. Notice how the shape of my subject’s face and her features are distorted by a 17mm lens? This is not an effect most folks will appreciate!

However, there may be instances when you want this look: a humorous portrait, kids having fun, or an editorial-style portrait of a street vendor at a market where you want to see both the subject and the environment.

wide-angle portrait of a man and a horse

The wide-angle view (17mm) adds to the comical nature of this portrait.

Telephoto lenses, on the other hand, compress perspective, which does two things:

First, it is usually more flattering to the subject because their facial features look less distorted.

Second, it simplifies the background – both by showing less and by defocusing background elements. This, in turn, puts more emphasis on the subject, which is what you want.

The image below was shot at 70mm. Compare it to the portrait at the start of this section, which portrays the same subject in the same setting but at 17mm. Do you see how the face is less distorted and the background is both out of focus and more compressed?

woman in a classroom

Here’s another portrait, this one shot at 105mm:

woman in a field

The long lens has compressed the background, and because it is so far away (on the other side of a river), the grass is really out of focus and provides a soft background that makes the subject stand out.

5. Background

One thing many photographers fail to think about is the background. It’s so easy to be focused on all the other stuff that you forget to even look at the background, which then ruins an otherwise great image.

Two questions you should ask yourself:

  1. Does the background make sense with the portrait?
  2. Does the background distract the viewer from the subject?

There are four background elements that can distract the viewer:

  1. Contrast
  2. Bright colors (warm tones are the worst, like red and yellow)
  3. Sharpness
  4. Bright areas

Watch for these in your viewfinder and adjust your camera position and composition accordingly. After all, the eye is attracted to the brightest and sharpest area of an image – so if you can keep the background dark, blurry, and low contrast, your subject will take center stage.

wedding couple with distracting background

See how the bright, high-contrast areas in the background draw your attention away from the wedding couple?

In other words: Get your portrait subject away from the background (far enough to get trees and grass out of focus), and watch for hot spots that grab the eye. Sometimes, simply moving your camera a foot or two to the left or right can eliminate trouble areas and give you a cleaner background that lets the subject shine:

wedding couple out of focus background

The background is now solid, out of focus, and does not take your eye away from the couple. Instead, it complements the portrait!

6. Exposure and metering

For a portrait of a still subject, I almost always use the following camera settings:

  • Manual mode
  • Single-shot drive mode (that is, I press the button to take a single image)
  • Single Point AF
  • One-Shot AF (i.e., AF-S focus mode) to focus and lock
  • Shade white balance (I am usually working in the shade, but if you’re in the bright sun, you might choose Direct Sunlight instead. Just pick one that matches your lighting condition and leave it.)
  • RAW format

Why do I like these settings? They give me the most control over one important thing: capturing a consistent exposure from one frame to the next. If you ever decide to do portraits for a friend or have paying clients, you want to be able to show images on the back of your camera without worrying about that random shot in the middle that was black because you forgot to adjust the exposure.

camera controls

(These settings also make editing much faster.)

So set your exposure, do a test shot (review it using the histogram), then don’t make adjustments unless you move to a new location or the light changes.

7. Focusing

I already mentioned my focusing settings above, but I’d like to recommend one more option:

Back-button focus, which lets you engage your camera’s focusing mechanism by pressing a button on the back of your camera, rather than the shutter button.

That way, you can lock focus on the subject – on their eye, if you’re close enough – then recompose the portrait and shoot away. Unless you or the subject move, there is no need to refocus.

Of course, if you’re shooting a moving target, like kids in action, you’ll want to choose different focus settings. Try continuous focusing (AI Servo/AF-C) plus your camera’s fastest burst mode.

8. Posing the subject

Getting your subject or model into a comfortable yet flattering pose can be tricky. People are generally nervous when being photographed and will look to you for guidance on how to stand, hold their body, turn their head, and adjust their hands. So you need to have a few posing ideas at the ready.

Here are some tips:

  • If it bends, bend it. In other words: Get your subject out of a stiff body position by bending one leg slightly, bend the elbows, and bend the wrists.
  • Ask your subject to shift their weight away from the camera for a more flattering pose.
  • Ask your subject to turn their body when standing. You can tell them to turn and point their feet (the body will follow naturally).
  • Turn your subject’s shoulders slightly to narrow the body width; this is flattering for most people.
  • Let your subject pose naturally at first, then make slight tweaks or adjustments. Watch how they move on their own so the final pose looks like them.
two different poses

Check out the images above. The left shot is stiff and boring – but the right shot has bent limbs, shifted shoulders, weight toward the back, and more.

9. Facial view and camera angle

How you position the subject’s face is another factor that determines the portrait’s beauty and mood. Some people look really great in full face view (facing the camera directly), but most benefit from turning slightly to one side, thus narrowing the face a little.

People cannot see their profile view in the mirror, so most subjects have no idea what they look like from the side. Only by trying it out can you determine whether it’s flattering for them.

The key to choosing the right face angle is to observe your subject. Do they tend to turn slightly when talking to you? Take note; that is probably the side they subconsciously prefer.

head anglesThe images above show three different views of the same woman’s face. She has a really gorgeous profile and a square jaw. I think the profile and last image (¾ face view) are the most flattering, but she looks great in any image.

You must help your subject look their best by doing comparisons and making choices, and if you’re in doubt, just shoot various poses and choose later (or let them pick).

As for the camera angle: This will determine what you emphasize on the subject. A low camera angle can show height and make someone look taller, but it also emphasizes the body more, which is not a good choice if someone wants to appear slimmer.

On the other hand, a slightly-above-eye-level angle will emphasize the face and minimize the body, a good choice for most people. It also makes kids look smaller and can be effective if that’s the look you’re after. A really high angle will make the forehead more prominent (perhaps not the best choice for subjects with a receding hairline).

Just know that where you place your camera will affect the final look of the portrait.

10. Expression

Okay, this is the thing you need to get right for great portraits. You can nail all nine points above, but if the subject has a bad expression, they will not like the image.

Here’s my big tip for getting the best expressions:

Talk to the subject and interact with them. That’s how I got this shot:

child with ultrasound

This little girl is holding a photo of her auntie’s ultrasound; I just asked her to show me her baby cousin, and she did this.

I’ve photographed Bob (below) many times. He is a volunteer at an old coal mine where I do a workshop twice a year. He was a miner way back in the day and is as spry in his 70s as many people in their 40s! He loves telling stories about the mine and ghosts, so I just get him talking and let him go. We have fun, he loves being my model for a day, and it shows in the images.

man in a mine

Pro tip: Instead of putting your camera to your eye, try talking to your subject with your camera on a tripod, then shoot with a remote trigger. That way, you can have eye contact, which will significantly enhance your subject’s expression!

Portrait photography essentials: putting it all together

Whew! See, I told you doing portraits comes with a lot to think about. But you can do it. You got this. Just take it one step at a time. If you aren’t at the stage of getting all 10 of these things right, just pick one and work on it. Choose patient models that will help you practice. The only way to get better is by doing!

Now over to you:

Which of these portrait photography essentials do you struggle with the most? Do you have any tips for improving portraits? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

woman intense portrait

Table of contents

Portrait Photography

    • 15 Common Portrait Mistakes to Avoid
    • 10 Ways to Direct a Portrait Shoot like a Pro
    • How to Photograph People: 7 Tips for Photographers Who Never Photograph People
    • 10 Crucial Things You Need to Think About for Portrait Photography

    • 5 Portrait Photography Rules You Should Probably Ignore
    • Five Budget Portrait Photography Hacks to Save You Money
    • 8 Lessons Learned from My First Attempt at Portrait Photography
    • How Self-Portraiture Makes You a Better Photographer
    • The Photo Critique: Portrait Edition
    • 10 Shots, 10 Portraits, 1 Focal Length: Take this Photography Challenge
    • How I Got The Shot: Portrait Style
    • Tips for Preparing for a Portrait Session
    • 8 Tips to Help Make People Comfortable for Their Portrait Session
    • Clothing for Portraits – How to Tell your Subjects What to Wear
    • How to Plan a Successful Sunset Portrait Session
    • 5 Secrets for Finding Great Indoor Photoshoot Locations
    • 10 Christmas Portrait Locations (with Bonus Lighting and Composition Tips)
    • How to Build a Bench Prop for Great Portrait Photos
    • A Beginners Guide to Taking Portraits of Elderly Clients: Part 1 – Preparation and Rapport
    • How to Scout for Portrait Shooting Locations
    • The Importance of Location for Outdoor Portraits
    • How to Choose Urban Landscapes for Portrait Photography
    • The Best Camera Settings for Portrait Photography
    • How to Achieve Blurred Backgrounds in Portrait Photography
    • How to Bypass the Portrait Mode on Your Digital Camera and Get Great Portraits
    • Understanding the Focus and Recompose Technique
    • Overcoming Depth of Field Problems in Portraits
    • 9 Ways to Ensure You Get Sharp Images When Photographing People
    • Stunning Portraits: Manipulating White Balance
    • Shooting for HDR Portraiture
    • How [Not] to Take a Self Timer Portrait
    • How Focal Length Changes the Shape of the Face in Portraiture
    • 5 Tips How to Set Up a Home Studio for Dramatic Portraits
    • Simple Portrait Setups You Can Create on a Tight Budget
    • How to Eliminate Reflections in Glasses in Portraits
    • Portrait Photography: How to Photograph People in the Harsh Midday Sun
    • 4 Ways to Shoot Portraits in the Middle of the Day
    • 6 Portrait Lighting Patterns Every Photographer Should Know
    • 3 Lighting Setups for Photographing Headshots
    • 6 Ways of Using Reflector to Take Better Portraits
    • How to Create and Shoot Night Portraits
    • How to Make Beautiful Portraits Using Flash and High-Speed Sync
    • How to Make a Low Key Portrait (Step by Step)
    • Fill Flash Photography: How to Get Beautiful Portraits (Even in Bad Light)
    • A Lighting Ratios Guide: How to Make (or Break) Your Portraits
    • How to Mix Ambient Light and Fill-Flash for Outdoor Portraits
    • How to Photograph Fantastic Portraits with One Flash
    • DIY How to Build and Use a Reflector to Take Better Portraits
    • Understanding Light for Better Portrait Photography
    • Tips for Doing Natural Light Headshots and Portraits
    • 3 Reasons to do Headshots with Natural Light
    • A Beginners Guide to Taking Portraits of Elderly Clients: Part 2 – Lighting and Posing
    • How to Create Stunning Wide-Angle Portraits (Using an Off-Camera Flash)
    • Tips for Making the Most of Morning Light for Portraits
    • 5 Ways to Use a Beauty Dish Light for Portraits
    • Beginners Tips for Sunrise Portraits : Part I
    • Getting to Grips with Fill Light in Portrait Photography
    • How to Use Flash for Night Portraits
    • What Size Beauty Dish is Right For Your Portrait Photography?
    • How to Create Catch Lights in Your Natural Light Portraits
    • Tips for Using Golden Hour Light for Portraits
    • Side-by-side comparison between reflectors and diffusers for portraits
    • 6 Tips for Taking Better Natural Light Classic Portraits
    • How to Use a Small Softbox With Your Flash to Transform Your Portraits
    • Simple Tips for Positioning Your Portrait Subject to Leverage Natural Light
    • The Importance of Shadows in Portrait Photography
    • So You Have No Model? Here are Ways to Practice Your Portrait Lighting With Toys
    • How to use Colored Gels to Create Unique and Creative Portraits
    • 3 Steps to Professional Looking Headshots Using One Flash
    • How to Use Two LED Lights to Achieve Moody Portraits
    • Made in the Shade – Why Taking Portraits in the Shade Can be Ideal
    • What Is Good Light? (And How to Use It for Beautiful Portraits)
    • How to do Accent Lighting for Portraits
    • Tips For Great Indoor Portraits Using Natural Light
    • 5 Reasons for Doing Natural Light Portraits
    • Review of the Westcott Eyelighter for Headshots and Portraits
    • How to Use Angle of Light in People Photography for Added Punch
    • High Speed Sync Versus a Neutral Density Filter to Overcome Bright Sunlight in Portraits
    • 5 Creative Portrait Lighting Tricks Using Only Phone Light
    • How to Use Off-camera Flash to Fix Lighting Problems for Outdoor Portraits
    • How to Create Awesome Portrait Lighting with a Paper Bag an Elastic Band and a Chocolate Donut
    • Tips for Using Speedlights to Create the Right Lighting for Outdoor Portraits
    • How to use a Gobo to add Depth to Your Portraits with Subtractive Lighting
    • How to Use Hard Lighting to Create a Dramatic Portrait
    • Portrait Comparison – Flash Versus Natural Light
    • Stealing Light – Using Street Lights for Portraits
    • Five Places for Perfect Natural Portrait Lighting
    • How to See the Light for Portraits: A Quick Tip for Beginners
    • Shooting with Available Light – Lifestyle Portraiture
    • 5 Ways to Light Your Christmas Tree Portraits This Festive Season
    • A Simple Lighting Technique for Couples Portraits
    • Awash In Light: High Key Portraiture
    • A Portrait Lighting Project for a Rainy Day
    • Simple Portrait Lighting Setup: Gorgeous Result
    • How to Achieve Great Portraits with Window Light
    • A Simple Exercise on Working with Natural Light in Portraits
    • Small Flash Portraits on Location with Adorama TV
    • Portraits on an Overcast Day? Use a Reflector
    • Tips for Using Flash for Beach Portraits
    • How to Find and Use Natural Reflectors for Portraits
    • How to Create Dramatic Portraits with Shadow Photography
    • Tips for Portrait Photography in Overcast Weather
    • How to Photograph People Outdoors Without Using a Reflector
    • How To Use an Outdoor Studio for Natural Portraits
    • Female Poses: 21 Posing Ideas to Get You Started Photographing Women
    • Glamour Posing Guide: 21 Sample Poses to Get You Started
    • Posing Guide: 21 Sample Poses to Get You Started with Photographing Men
    • Good Crop Bad Crop – How to Crop Portraits
    • How to Pose and Angle the Body for Better Portraits
    • Posing Guide: 21 Sample Poses to Get You Started with Photographing Groups of People
    • Posing Guide: 21 Sample Poses to Get You Started with Photographing Couples
    • Your Guide to the Best Poses for Engagement Photos
    • How to do Gentle Posing: A Collection of Prompts to Get You Started
    • Tips for Posing Large Families and Groups
    • How to Pose People for Headshots
    • Tips for Posing People in Outdoor Portraits
    • 20 Tips for Getting People to Smile in Photos
    • How to Avoid Fake Smiles in Your People Photography
    • Tips for Posing Muscular Female Body Types
    • Your Posing Guide for Maternity Sessions
    • Handiwork: How to Pose Hands
    • Your Guide to Posing Bands in Photography
    • Posing Tip for Portraits – Which Way Should Your Subject Lean?
    • Posing Tips – Waistlines, Thighs and Bustlines
    • 3 Posing Tips for Young Siblings
    • What Everybody Ought to Know About Posing for Portraits
    • Poser: Achieve Perfect Portrait Expression
    • Capturing Better Portraits Between Poses
    • A Posing Technique from A Girl With a Pearl Earring
    • Tips for Posing Men
    • 6 Types of Portrait Backgrounds for Creative Images
    • 6 Tips for Perfect Composition in Portrait Photography
    • How to Find Great Backgrounds for Outdoor Portraits
    • How to Make Colors Pop in Your Portraits – Without Using Photoshop
    • How to Use Foreground Framing to Improve Your Portrait Photography
    • How to Use Negative Space in People Photography
    • 3 Simple Ways to Use Framing and Layering in Portraits
    • Is Portrait Formatting always best for Portraits?
    • Portrait Tip: Don't Fill the Frame
    • How to Use Portrait Angles More Creatively: A Visual Guide
    • How to Use Facial View and Camera Angle to take Flattering Portraits
  • GEAR
    • Comparing a 50mm Versus 85mm Lens for Photographing People
    • Comparing a 24mm Versus 50mm Lens for Photographing People
    • 3 Tips for Taking Portraits with a Kit Lens
    • Best Fujifilm X-Series Kit for Urban Portraits
    • 3 Ways to Get Killer Portraits Using a Tripod
    • Photographing Portraits with Classic Lenses (includes Example Images)
    • Portrait Photographers: Do You Really Need a 70-200mm Lens?
    • Essential Portrait Photography Gear You Need When Starting Out
    • Portable Portrait Studio in a Bag: Now You Can Take Portraits While on the Road
    • How to Choose the Perfect Portrait Lens
    • Which 50mm Lens is Best for Portraits?
    • 13 Tips for Improving Outdoor Portraits
    • Create Beautiful Indoor Portraits Without Flash (NSFW)
    • 10 Tips for Photographing Great Headshots
    • 3 Simple Ways to Create Stunning Eyes in Your Portrait Photography
    • 11 Tips for Photographing High School Senior Portraits
    • Tips for Doing Fall Portraits
    • 6 Tips for Photographing Large People
    • 7 Tips for Black and White Portrait Photography
    • How to Create Environmental Portraits (Tips and Examples)
    • Capturing Unenthusiastic Teens: Forget the Perfect Pose and Get Photos You Truly Love
    • Tips for Taking the Torture out of Extended Family Portrait Sessions
    • Self Portrait Photography Tips
    • What the Mona Lisa Can Teach You About Taking Great Portraits
    • 5 Tips for Musician Portraits (So You Can Hit All the Right Notes)
    • 5 Tips to Help You Take More Natural Looking Portraits
    • 15 Tips for More Powerful Portraits
    • How to Create Dramatic Portraits in Your Garage
    • 9 Tips that Make Couples Happy During a Portrait Session
    • 5 Tips for Taking Better Portraits in Nature
    • Snow Portrait: Behind the Scenes
    • Tips for Creating Dance Portraits
    • How to Take Better Beach Portraits at Any Time of Day
    • The Introverts Guide to Photographing People
    • 6 Ways to Take a Candid Portrait of Somebody You Know
    • 3 Body Language Hacks to Improve Your Portrait Photography
    • 5 More Tips for Making Better Black and White Portraits
    • Tips for Planning and Capturing a Creative Portrait
    • 5 Tips for Creating Romantic Portraits of Couples
    • 10 Tips to Create Emotive Portraits
    • 7 Tips for Photographing a Bridal Portrait Session
    • 3 Lessons I Learned by Doing a Self-Portrait Project
    • The Ultimate Guide to Photographing People for the Shy Photographer
    • Tips for Getting Yourself to Relax as a Photographer and Have More Successful Portrait Sessions
    • Tips for Taking More Natural Engagement Portraits
    • 6 Tips for Better Portraits on Location
    • 7 Ways to Take Advantage of Autumn in Your Portrait Photography
    • 7 Tips and Etiquette for Taking Portraits in Public
    • How to Make a Unique Portrait in the City at Night
    • 3 Tips for Creating Outstanding Portraits, Inspired by the work of Dutch Artist Van Gogh
    • 5 Keys to Taking Beautiful Maternity Portraits
    • Photographing People: To do Styled Portraits or Not?
    • 7 Steps to Capturing Truth in Your Portraiture
    • Engagement Portrait Shoots: 7 Professional Tips to take your Engagement Shoots to the Next Level
    • Personalities and Portraits – and Getting Them to Mix
    • 3 Reasons to Have Your Own Portrait Taken
    • 5 Tips for Photographing Portfolio-Worthy Costume Portraits
    • 3 Critical People Skills Portrait Photographers Need
    • The Essence of Masculinity – Portraits of Men
    • 5 Corporate-Style Portrait Techniques
    • 5 Tips for Doing Portrait Photography in Busy Locations
    • Tips for Great Beach Sunset Portraits
    • How to Create Portraits with a Black Background
    • How Using Props in Portraits Can Make Your Photos More Interesting
    • How to Take Unique Crystal Ball Portraits
    • How to Create a Hollywood Film Noir Portrait
    • How to Create this “Fight Club” Inspired Portrait using One Light
    • Dragging the Shutter for Creative Portraits
    • 5 Secrets for Creating Perfect Silhouette Portrait Photography
    • How to do Tilt-Shift Portraits
    • Copper, Prisms, and Orbs, Oh My! – 3 Creative Techniques for People Photography
    • Portrait Tip: Add Interest and Movement into Your Shots with Wind
    • Glitter Portrait: How I Took It
    • How to Create a Unique Bokeh Portrait for Under $ 10
    • 5 Ways to Use a Piece of Glass for Unique Portraits
    • Room with a View: How to Create this Window with Blinds Portrait Anywhere
    • 7 Steps to Perfect White Portrait Backgrounds in the Studio
    • How to Make Unique Portraits Using Light Painting
    • 11 Steps for Basic Portrait Editing in Lightroom – A Beginner’s Guide
    • Five Common Portrait Retouching Mistakes to Avoid
    • How to Create a Dramatic Cinematic Style Portrait Using Photoshop Color Grading
    • How to Edit Corporate Headshots in Lightroom
    • How to Create a Dark and Moody Rembrandt-Style Portrait In Lightroom
    • How to Retouch a Portrait with the Adjustment Brush in Lightroom
    • Photoshop: Red Eye Fix for Difficult Cases in People and Pets
    • 3 Steps to Photoshop Retouching for Natural Looking Portraits
    • How to do Frequency Separation Portrait Retouching in Photoshop
    • Basic Portrait Post-Processing Workflow Tips to Help You Save Time and Stay Organized
    • How to Add a Grunge Effect to Your Portraits Using Lightroom
    • How to Create Twinkle Lights for Christmas Tree Portraits in Photoshop
    • How to Enhance Portraits Using Gray Layers to Dodge and Burn in Photoshop
    • How to Blur the Background of a Portrait Using the Magnetic Lasso Tool in Photoshop
    • How to Use Photoshop Blending Modes for Fine Art Portraiture
    • Stylized Techniques for Editing Portraits Using Lightroom
    • How to Make a Bubble Portrait using Photoshop CS3
    • Creating a Black and White High Contrast Portrait Edit in Lightroom
    • How to Create a “Soft Portrait” Preset in Lightroom 4
    • Basic Photoshop Tutorial – How to Add Creative Overlays to Your Portraits
    • 3 Essential Photoshop Tools for New Portrait Photographers
    • How to Make Creative Lightroom Develop Presets for Portraits
    • 5 Reasons to Use Lightroom for Portrait Retouching
    • Advanced Portrait Retouch on a Male Subject in Lightroom 4 – Part 1 of 3
    • 3 Ways to Make Selective Color Portraits Using Lightroom and Silver Efex Pro 2
    • Correcting For Under Exposure and Boosting Dynamic Range with an Environmental Portrait in Lightroom 4
    • How to do Portrait Retouching With Luminar
    • Tips for Portrait Processing with ON1 Photo RAW 2018.5
    • 5 Tips to Cut Your Portrait Editing Time in Half
    • Portrait Consultations: Two Questions That Make A Big Difference
    • How to Shoot a Self Portrait to Support your Brand Identity
    • 5 Examples of Beautiful Simple Portraits
    • DISCUSS: When you Photograph People in Black and White, you Photograph their Souls
    • 21 Inspirational Natural Light Portraits
    • 24 Photos of Perfectly Posed Portraits
    • 19 More Creative Mirror Self Portraits
    • 18 Stunning Self Portraits
    • Interview with Fine Art Portrait Photographer Bill Gekas
    • 11 Influential Portrait Photographers you Need to Know
    • Black and White Portraits a Set of Images to Admire
    • Nadav Kander on Portrait Photography [VIDEO]
    • 21 Spooky Portraits
    • Inspiring Portraits of Women – a Collection of Images
    • 12.5 Years of Daily Self Portraits [VIDEO]
    • Interview with Self Portrait and 365 Photographer – Anna Gay
    • Triptych Portrait Series
    • 8 Striking Portraits from Photograph Einar Erici [Shot in 1930]
    • An Interview With Underwater Portrait Photographer Sacha Blue
    • Masters of Photography – Yousuf Karsh Portrait Photographer
    • 21 Fun Images of People Laughing
    • Portrait Photography: Secrets of Posing & Lighting [Book Review]
    • The Luminous Portrait: Book Review
    • The Portrait Photography Course by Mark Jenkinson – Book Review
    • The Perfect Portrait Guide – How to Photograph People – Book Review
    • Improve Your Portraits with these Courses from Ed Verosky
    • People Photography and Portraits: Best Resources Toolbox

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The post 10 Essential Things to Think About for Portrait Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Darlene Hildebrandt.

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65 Films About Photography: Our Picks to Watch

30 Jan

Photography and movies have a lot in common. While one is the art of capturing a frame, another is capturing moving frames. However, both are powerful creative mediums to tell a story. Apart from practicing photography yourself, one of the easiest ways to learn and improve your photography skills is to watch other people’s work and be inspired. And, what’s Continue Reading

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Learning about Exposure – The Exposure Triangle

15 Dec

The post Learning about Exposure – The Exposure Triangle appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Darren Rowse.

the exposure triangle

Bryan Peterson has written a book entitled Understanding Exposure. I highly recommend you read it if you want to venture off of your digital camera’s Auto mode and start experimenting with its manual settings.

In Understanding Exposure, Bryan illustrates the three main elements that need to be considered when setting your exposure. He calls them the “exposure triangle.”

Each of the three aspects of the triangle relates to light and how it enters and interacts with your camera.

So if you’re ready to become an expert in exposure…

…read on!

The three elements of the exposure triangle

The exposure triangle has three corners:

  1. ISO – the measure of a digital camera sensor’s sensitivity to light
  2. Aperture – the size of the opening in the lens when a picture is taken
  3. Shutter speed – the amount of time that the shutter is open

It is at the intersection of these three elements that an image’s exposure is determined.

Now, exposure refers to the overall brightness of an image.

So depending on your camera settings, you might end up with an exposure like this, which is too bright:

learning about the exposure triangle overexposed rose

Or an exposure like this, which is too dark:

learning about the exposure triangle underexposed rose

Or an exposure like this, which is just right:

learning about the exposure triangle well-exposed rose

Here’s the most important thing to remember:

A change in one of the elements will impact the others.

This means you can never really isolate just one part of the exposure triangle. You need to always have each corner of the exposure triangle in the back of your mind.

3 metaphors for understanding the digital photography exposure triangle

Many people describe the relationship between ISO, aperture, and shutter speed using different, easy-to-follow metaphors. And in the next section, I’ll share with you three of those metaphors.

A quick word of warning first, though:

Like most metaphors, these are far from perfect and are just for illustrative purposes. So learn from them, but make sure you don’t take them too seriously.

The window

Imagine your camera is like a window with shutters that open and close.

The aperture is the size of the window. If the window is bigger, then more light gets through and the room is brighter.

Shutter speed is the amount of time that the shutters of the window are open. The longer you leave the shutters open, the more light that comes in.

Now imagine you’re inside the room and are wearing sunglasses (hopefully this isn’t too much of a stretch!). The sunglasses desensitize your eyes to the light that comes in, and this represents a low ISO.

There are a number of ways to increase the amount of apparent light in the room. You could increase the time that the shutters are open (i.e., decrease the shutter speed), you could increase the size of the window (i.e., increase aperture), or you could take off your sunglasses (i.e., increase the ISO).

It’s not a perfect illustration, but you get the idea.


Another way to think about exposure in photography is to think about taking a photo as getting a suntan.

Now, a suntan is something I always wanted when I was growing up. But unfortunately, because I was very fair-skinned, it was something that I never really achieved. All I did was get burned when I went out into the sun. In a sense, skin sensitivity is like an ISO rating, because some people are more sensitive to the sun than others.

Shutter speed, in this metaphor, is the length of time you spend outside. The longer you stay in the sun, the higher your chances of getting a tan (of course, spending too long in the sun can mean being overexposed!).

Aperture is like sunscreen that you apply to your skin. Sunscreen blocks the sun at different rates, depending on its strength.

Apply a high-strength sunscreen, and you decrease the amount of sunlight that gets through. As a result, even a person with highly sensitive skin can spend more time in the sun. (In photography terms: Decrease the aperture, and you can slow down the shutter speed and/or increase the ISO).

The garden hose

A third metaphor I’ve heard used is the garden hose.

Here, the circumference of the hose nozzle is the aperture, the time that the hose is left on is the shutter speed, and the pressure of the water is ISO.

If you increase the circumference of the nozzle, increase the length of time the hose is left on, and increase the water pressure, then your garden is going to get really wet (i.e., it’ll get overexposed). But if you decrease the circumference of the nozzle, shorten the time the hose is left on, or decrease the water pressure, your garden will stay relatively dry (i.e., it’ll get underexposed).

The key is to find a nice balance of nozzle size, length of time, and water pressure; that way, you can have a perfectly-watered (i.e., well-exposed!) garden.

As I’ve said, none of the metaphors are perfect. But they all illustrate the interconnectedness of shutter speed, aperture, and ISO on your digital camera.

Bringing it all together

Mastering the art of exposure is something that takes a lot of practice. In many ways, it’s a juggling act, and even the most experienced photographers experiment and tweak their settings as they go.

Keep in mind that changing each element doesn’t just impact the exposure of the image. Each exposure element influences other aspects of your photo, as well.

Changing the aperture changes the depth of field; changing the ISO changes the graininess of the shot; changing the shutter speed impacts how motion is captured.

The great thing about digital cameras is that they’re ideal for learning about exposure. You can take as many shots as you like at no cost. Plus, digital cameras generally have semi-automatic modes like Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority, which allow you to make decisions about one or two elements of the exposure triangle while the camera handles the rest.

learning about the exposure triangle swans on a pond

The exposure triangle: conclusion

A lot more can be said about each of the three elements in the exposure triangle. So check out these articles, which cover each point of the triangle in greater depth:

  1. ISO Settings in Digital Photography
  2. Introduction to Aperture in Photography
  3. Introduction to Shutter Speed in Digital Photography

The post Learning about Exposure – The Exposure Triangle appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Darren Rowse.

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Hands-on: What you need to know about the Leica SL2-S

13 Dec

Hands-on with the Leica SL2-S

Leica’s third full-frame L-mount camera, the SL2-S, has just landed. Based on the SL2 which launched just over a year ago, the SL2-S has a 24MP sensor and it’s a bit more video-focused than its higher-resolution forebear.

If you’re familiar with the SL2, there frankly isn’t much that’ll surprise you about the SL2-S. But if you’ve overlooked the SL2 previously or are just new to the Leica SL-series in general, then follow along for a closer look at the newest model in the lineup.

Sensor, grip and logo

The most immediate change on the SL2-S relative to its sister model is right here, front-and-center: the sensor. It’s a 24MP unit that sits on an in-body stabilizer, and it grants users the ability to capture oversampled (meaning, very detailed) 4K/30p video using the sensor’s full width. You can also opt for 4K/60p capture, though you’ll need to crop in to a smaller APS-C portion of the sensor to access that. There a few other nitty gritty video details to cover as well, which we’ll get to shortly.

As for the rest of the camera, the most obvious outward change on the SL2-S relative to its sister model is the blacking-out of the ‘LEICA’ lettering on the viewfinder hump. It does make for a slightly more subtle look, but of course, the bright red dot next to it will probably still draw some attention for those in the know. Lastly, the grip remains pretty comfortable despite its blocky shape, helped by an indent for your fingertips just visible in the shadow here.

Rear controls and screen

On the rear of the camera, along the screen’s left side, you’ll find Leica’s standard set of buttons. ‘Play’ enters playback, ‘Fn’ can be pressed once to access a custom function, or can be ‘long-pressed’ to select a different custom function for the next time you short press. It’s a handy way to change the button’s behavior without diving into the full menus.

Hitting the ‘Menu’ button enters a quick menu where you can control some key functions via the touchscreen, including the shooting mode, drive mode, focus settings, and more. A further press of the Menu button brings up the main menus, which let you delve a little deeper into the camera’s settings. You can continue to press the ‘Menu’ button to navigate along the six pages of options, or you can use the top command dial to do so. The rear dial will navigate up and down various settings.

Speaking of that rear dial, it’s also how you quickly change shooting modes without entering the quick menu at all; you press it in, and then rotate it to swap between PASM modes.

The AF Joystick allows you to move your AF area around the frame, and it allows you to manipulate settings in the main and quick menus as well. The button next to it defaults to manually swapping between the LCD screen and electronic viewfinder (EVF), but a long-press allows you to change its behavior, just like the ‘Fn’ button. Speaking of the EVF…


The viewfinder alone could be a reason for someone to consider an SL2-S. It’s big, bright and detailed, offering 5.76M dots of resolution. The only other 24MP camera you’ll find that type of detailed picture on is the Panasonic Lumix S1; other comparable 24MP offerings from the likes of Nikon, Canon and Sony have viewfinders that are a similar size but lower resolution.

The ring surrounding the viewfinder is a large diopter adjustment dial for those glasses-wearers among us; its size makes it easy to set it just right, but there’s enough resistance that you won’t knock it out of place accidentally.

Top plate controls

On the top of the camera we see a generously sized display that shows pertinent exposure and camera settings. To its right are two more custom buttons that, again, you change the behavior of using a long press. A close look reveals, in fact, two more custom buttons well-placed to be manipulated with your middle or ring fingers on the front of the camera, though we wish they were separated a bit more.

You also get a flash hot-shoe, and on the right side of that you’ll see an engraving reading ‘LEICA SL2-S’, the only place on the camera you’ll find its model name. (A rather cryptic ‘Type no.: 9584’ is printed on the bottom of the camera.)


The headline video spec of the SL2-S is 4K at up to 60p, which, on paper, looks a lot like that of the SL2. There are differences, though. The SL2 shoots sub-sampled video from nearly the full width of its sensor for all of its video modes, whereas the SL2-S shoots full-width oversampled video for its 24, 25 and 30p modes. This means the SL2-S is using all its pixels to shoot 6K footage which is then downscaled to 4K. This should give more detailed video and possibly better low-light performance. The ‘S’ uses an APS-C region for its 60p footage, which gives up some of this benefit but should still look good.

In addition, the SL2-S includes features such as built-in display correction LUTs to give a usable preview when shooting in Log gamma (both of which are also available as ‘Cube’ files which can be applied as you edit the footage). A future firmware update will add options such as waveforms for assessing exposure, and the ability to set exposure time as shutter ‘angle’ rather than shutter speed, along with a ‘tally’ lamp mode that indicates when the camera is recording.


Behind a thick, flexible rubber door on the left side of the camera body are headphone and microphone ports, which also double as remote release ports, as well as a full-sized HDMI port (which feels a lot sturdier than the ‘mini’ or ‘micro’ ports on many competing cameras). Immediately beneath these, behind its own rubberized door, is a USB-C port that supports charging, tethered shooting and image transfer.


On the other side of the camera is a set of SD card slots; both support the faster UHS-II type memory cards, and you’ll likely want to use reasonably quick cards if you’re planning on using the 25 fps silent shutter burst feature, or shooting at the camera’s highest video quality settings.


On the bottom of the Leica SL2-S you’ll find a BP-SCL4 battery pack, the same as you’ll find in the SL2 and the Q2 and Q2 Monochrom fixed-lens cameras. It’s good for a CIPA-rated 510 shots per charge, though you’ll likely get many more than that in normal use. We find that a rating of 500 or so is good for at least a couple of days of focused photography if you’re, say, exploring a new city.

Interestingly, there’s no battery ‘door’ per se; the entire unit pops out and leaves a hole in the bottom of the camera. But each BP-SCL4 has its own gasket around the bottom, ensuring that the camera lives up to its IP54 weather-sealing rating.

Hands-on with the Leica SL2-S

And there you have it: Leica’s latest full-frame mirrorless camera, the SL2-S. Although compared to the SL2, the exterior differs only by the blacked-out logo, its lower resolution sensor will likely be welcomed by those who don’t need 47MP of resolution, or those who need better quality video (which will be augmented further in a promised firmware update next year). The SL2-S also comes with its own high-res shot mode, which can churn out 96MP files on the occasion that you do need more resolution (though you also need a tripod and a pretty static subject).

What do you make of the SL2-S? Is it something you would consider adding to your camera bag? Let us know in the comments.

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DPReview TV: We answer your questions about how to start a YouTube channel

05 Nov

Following our DPReview TV video series ‘How to start a YouTube channel’, we received lots of follow-up questions from viewers, so Chris and Jordan sat down to answer some of the most common ones.

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

  • Introduction
  • How important is it to publish consistently?
  • How much time does it take to shoot an episode?
  • How do you get things like health insurance?
  • How do you know what videos will succeed?
  • Should you include humor/personality?
  • Video editing speed round!
  • Should you focus on making videos for yourself or your audience?
  • Chris is cold

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What you need to know about Canon’s new RF 70-200mm F4 and 50mm F1.8

04 Nov

Introducing the Canon RF 70-200mm F4 L IS USM and RF 50mm F1.8 STM

Canon’s full-frame mirrorless RF system keeps on growing, and today sees the addition of two much-requested new lenses. The RF 70-200mm F4 L IS USM is a compact, more affordable alternative to the previously-announced RF 70-200mm F2.8, and the RF 50mm F1.8 STM is a low-cost standard prime for photographers that don’t need F1.2 (i.e. most photographers).

Click through this article for a walkthrough of their key features (hands-on images courtesy of Canon).

Canon RF 70-200mm F4 L IS USM

Let’s look first at the RF 70-200mm F4 L IS USM. Spiritual successor to the popular EF 70-200mm F4 family of tele-zooms, one of the main selling points of this new RF zoom is its size (it’s both smaller, 32% shorter than the EF equivalent, and 11% lighter). In fact, at its 70mm position, the new RF 70-200mm F4 is only slightly bigger than the RF 24-105mm. The zoom can be locked at 70mm for storage.

Despite its medium/long-tele reach, minimum focus is a respectable ~0.6m (2 ft) at all focal lengths.

Canon RF 70-200mm F4 L IS USM

Like its big brother the RF 70-200mm F2.8, however, the lens gets considerably bigger when zoomed-in towards 200mm. Despite the extending design, the RF 70-200mm features ‘L-series dust and weather-resistant build,’ which includes a fluorine coating on the front element to repel water and dirt.

Optical construction consists of 16 elements in 11 groups, including four UD (ultra low dispersion) elements that mitigate chromatic aberration. The new lens also features Canon’s Air Sphere Coating, to reduce flare and ghosting.

Canon RF 70-200mm F4 L IS USM

On the barrel of the RF 70-200mm F4 you’ll find the usual array of switches, for focus (and focus limiting) and image stabilization. The RF 70-200mm F4 offers three I.S. modes: 1, for general use, which stabilizes in all directions, 2, which is intended to offer best performance for panning shots, and 3, where stabilization only activates once you fully depress the shutter button.

The RF 70-200mm F4’s rated I.S. performance is impressive: 5EV from the lens alone and up to 7.5EV when used in conjunction with the in-body image stabilization system in the EOS R5 and R6.

Canon RF 70-200mm F4 L IS USM

You might need that stabilization because unlike the RF 70-200mm F2.8 (and previous EF designs) there’s no provision for a tripod foot. Potentially also frustrating for some photographers is that just like its ‘big brother’ the RF 70-200mm F2.8, this new lens is not compatible with Canon’s RF 1.4X and 2X extenders.

Focus elements are driven by a pair of Nano USM motors. Based on our previous experience with Canon’s Nano USM technology, we expect autofocus performance will be very fast, and silent as well.

The Canon RF 70-200mm F4 L IS USM will be available in early December for $ 1,599.

RF 50mm F1.8 STM

Next up is the RF 50mm F1.8 STM, a low-cost prime lens for RF shooters. Essentially a native RF equivalent to the older EF 50mm F1.8 STM, the new lens is tiny (weighing only 160g / 5.6oz) and at $ 199, considerably more budget-friendly than the RF 50mm F1.2L.

RF 50mm F1.8 STM

Optical construction is all-new, consisting of six elements in five groups, with one aspherical element. Minimum focus of ~0.3m (1ft) works out to a maximum magnification ratio of 0.25X.

The ring you can see in this picture (and the previous one) is a customizable control ring, which can be set for direct control over manual focus, or in it’s ‘control’ position to provide access to other settings like aperture control or exposure compensation, via the menu system of RF cameras.

RF 50mm F1.8 STM

Seven rounded blades deliver a near-circular diaphragm at wide aperture settings, and the new lens features a front filter diameter of 43mm. Canon’s SSC (Super Spectra Coating) should help reduce flare and ghosting. The RF 50mm F1.8 STM will be available next month.

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What might the Z6 II and Z7 II tell us about future pro Nikon mirrorless models?

02 Nov
The Nikon Z6 II and Z7 II are solid updates to the original Z6 and Z7 but neither represents a ‘new’ concept in the Z-series lineup.

With the Z6 II and Z7 II, Nikon has modernized its high-end Z-series full-frame lineup, and made its offerings more competitive against midrange and high-end ILCs from Canon, Panasonic and Sony. But while the Z7 II is the nominal flagship, it’s clearly not a ‘professional’ model in the same sense as the D6 and (arguably) the D850. While new to the market, neither Mark II model represents a new concept. This means that the gap which has existed at the top of the Z-series lineup since 2018 is still there.

So how might Nikon fill it? What can the Z6 II and Z7 II tell us about a future Nikon pro model?

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that instead of a single semi-pro or professional ‘Z8’ we’ll actually see two high-end models from Nikon, probably announced sometime next year, to be available in summer 2021. They will offer extremely similar controls and UI, but will be based around different sensors and intended for different purposes: one for speed and versatility, and one for resolution and maximum image quality.

For the sake of simplicity as you navigate this article, I’ll call them the Z8 and the Z8 S – with the ‘S’ here being my shorthand for ‘speed and sensitivity’.

Nikon Z8 key specifications (hypothetical)

  • 60MP sensor
  • 10 fps continuous shooting
  • Full-sensor PDAF down to -4EV
  • Comparable autofocus performance to D850
  • Expeed 7 processor
  • D800-level weather sealing
  • Dual card slots (2X CFe or CFe + SD)
  • High-res sensor-shift mode/s

Nikon Z8S key specifications (hypothetical)

  • 20-24MP sensor (possibly Sony 24MP stacked-CMOS from a9/II)
  • Super-high maximum ISO
  • 20 fps+ maximum continuous shooting (unlimited buffer)
  • High-quality electronic ‘silent’ shooting
  • Full-sensor PDAF, sensitive down to at least -5EV
  • Comparable autofocus performance to D5/6
  • Expeed 7 processor
  • D800-level weather sealing
  • Dual card slots (2X CFe)
  • High-quality 4K video

Both models will feature D850-level build quality and will offer a similar UI, with a button-and-dial logic for switching exposure modes (rather than the Z6/7’s exposure mode dial). They’ll use the same battery pattern as the existing Z6/7-series, keeping the standard bodies relatively small, but both will be compatible with a twin-battery vertical grip, which will add at least one uniquely ‘pro’ expansion feature (a LAN port, maybe? Or a rear OLED sub-display?). Nikon isn’t going to make the ‘only one card slot’ mistake again so expect twin slots, either both CFexpress Type B, or maybe CFe + SD in the case of the resolution-focused Z8.

Expect the Z8 to feature a relatively low-resolution sensor in the 20-24MP range, paired with a new faster processor

The hardest thing to predict is which sensors Nikon will use in its next-generation of high-end full-frame ILCs. Let’s take the hypothetical Z8S first – the high-speed action-focused model. The 24MP sensor used in the current Z6 and Z6 II is excellent, but dated. It’s fast enough for most photography, but likely not fast enough to support super high frame rate shooting, really cutting-edge autofocus, or next-level 4K video.

It’s possible that Nikon might reuse the Toshiba/Sony sensor developed for the D6, or maybe a version of the 24MP stacked-CMOS chip introduced in the Sony a9 (assuming that Sony Semiconductor is willing and able to supply it). Either way, expect the Z8S to feature a relatively low-resolution sensor in the 20-24MP range, paired with a new faster processor called – and I’m going to go out on a limb again – Expeed 7.

The Sony a9 and more recent a9 II have defined what a ‘professional’ sports and action-focused mirrorless camera should be. I expect Nikon will want to put a Z-mount product into this category as soon as possible.

Low-ish resolution will be the tradeoff for what I’d expect to be a very high frame rate and near-unlimited buffer. The 2020 Olympics never ended up happening but assuming the world of sports and events gets back on track in 2021, you can bet that Nikon will want its mirrorless cameras to be visible on the sidelines alongside high-speed pro models from Canon and Sony.

While it’s possible that the Z6 II will remain Nikon’s flagship video/stills hybrid camera for a while longer, I think it’s more likely that a hypothetical Z8S will represent a step up, offering meaningfully different (better) 4K, aimed at satisfying the needs of semi-pro and professional multimedia shooters. If the sensor does end up being in the 20-24MP range, It won’t be able to shoot 8K but maybe that’s not a bad thing…

A continuous shooting rate of 10-12 fps seems reasonable, but the Z8 doesn’t need to be any faster than that

It’s easier to predict the chip which might go into a hypothetical resolution and IQ-focused Z8. While not currently listed as available to third parties, the Sony Semiconductor 3.76µm 61MP sensor currently found in the a7 IV may become an option for Nikon in the coming months. While not a massive step up in terms of effective resolution over the 46MP sensor in the Z7 II, this high-speed BSI-CMOS chip is a solid technological leap forward.

If a version does make its way into one of Nikon’s future high-end ILCs, I’d expect to see it paired with beefed-up IBIS and a sensor-shift high-resolution mode. A continuous shooting rate of 10-12 fps seems reasonable, but a 60MP camera doesn’t need to be any faster than that.

The Nikon D6 and D850 feature backlit controls for comfort during low/no-light shooting. I’d expect that future professional Z-series cameras will do the same. This shot shows a D5, with its top and rear LCD status panels also illuminated (in pale blue). Maybe a future ‘Z8’ could have an optional vertical control grip with a secondary rear status LCD?

As for autofocus, I’d expect the Z8 and Z8S to offer extremely similar systems (at least in terms of how they operate) which get much closer to the experience of the D850 and D6, including a true analog for 3D AF tracking. The Z6 II and Z7 II seem somewhat improved over the original-generation, but Nikon knows it needs to close the pro performance gap with Canon and Sony, and I expect that this will be a major priority (and a major marketing-point) in future high-end Z-series model.

Much of what I wrote above is wishful thinking, but while this is guesswork, it is somewhat informed

As for cosmetics, I wouldn’t be surprised if Nikon takes the opportunity to break from the slightly angular, skinny-feeling Z6/7-series and create somewhat larger, curvier bodies, somewhere between the D780 and D850. Expect a 10-pin remote release socket and flash sync on the front of the body (like the D850 and D6) and a return to DSLR-style rubberized, recessed control dials.

So that’s my article. And I won’t lie, much of what I wrote above is wishful thinking (I guess I just really want a Z8…). Despite the oft-expressed conviction among commenters that DPReview sees product roadmaps years ahead of time, I know no more about what Nikon is planning in 2021 and beyond than you do. But while this is guesswork, it is somewhat informed, both by Nikon’s approach to building out its DSLR lineup, and by the gaps and omissions in the current Z-series lineup compared to its competitors.

What do you think? Feel free to make your predictions in the comments.

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Slideshow: Winners of All About Photo’s AAP Magazine #13 Shapes competition

28 Oct

Winners of All About Photo’s AAP Magazine #13 Shapes competition

Earlier this month All About Photo selected 25 photographers from 11 countries as winners of its “Shapes” competition. Winning images appear in the 13th edition of AAP Magazine, which can be purchased here. The subject matter displayed in these works illustrates shapes and patterns found in place settings, architecture, abstractions, and more.

The top 3 winners, who were rewarded a $ 1,000 cash are as follows:

First place winner: JP Terlizzi (United States)
Second place winner: Wendel Wirth (United States)
Third place winner: Klaus Lenzen (Belgium)

The remaining mentions, whose images also appear in print alongside the winners are: Maureen Ruddy Burkhart (United States), Zak van Biljon (Switzerland), Hyun De Grande (Belgium), Hans Wichmann (Germany), Steven Raskin (United States), Fabrizio Spucches (Italy), Deborah Bay (United States), Donell Gumiran (United Arab Emirates), Marcus Trappaud Bjørn (Denmark), Kevin Lyle (United States), Songyuan Ge (China), Nicola Ducati (Italy), Axel Breutigam (Canada), Frank Lynch (Switzerland), Barry Guthertz (United States), Karine Coll (France), Francesco Pace Rizzi (Italy), Abdulla AL-Mushaifri (Qatar), Rosario Civello (Italy), Ursula Reinke (Germany), Golnaz Abdoli (United States) and Don Jacobson (United States).

All About Photo is currently accepting entries for their Solo Competition.

1st Place Winner: ‘Marchesa Camellia with Rhubarb’ by JP Terlizzi (United States)

Artist Statement About the Series: The Good Dishes integrates memory, legacy and metaphor with my response to loss. As I witness an early generation of family members pass, my cousins and I were each faced with the emotional task of cleaning out the family home. Sorting through the heirlooms, we would determine which items to toss, sell or preserve. Without fail, when it came to the family’s fine china, that item was always given to the person that most cherished its memory and sentimental value.

Growing up in a large Italian family, everything was centered around food and the family table. I remember vividly my mother’s vintage marigold stoneware dishes that she bought at the grocery store back in the early 1970s. She used them every day for as long as I could remember, and they had a life of their own. Along with my mother’s everyday dishes she had one set that she kept on display behind glass that only she handled, only she washed, and only she hand-dried; these were deemed ‘the good dishes.’ Whenever I heard, ‘I need to use the good dishes,’ that meant one of two things in our household: the priest was coming over for dinner or it was a very special occasion. Either way, the food presentation, table dress and table manners all changed whenever ‘the good dishes’ came out.

Eating is a physical need, but meals are a social ritual. Utilizing the passed down heirlooms of friends and family, The Good Dishes celebrates the memory of family and togetherness. It borrows the stylized rituals of formal tableware and draws inspiration from classic still life paintings. Background textiles are individually designed and constructed to reflect patterns found in each table setting while presentation, etiquette and formality are disassociated by using food and fine china in unconventional ways as metaphors for the beauty and intimacy that are centered around meal and table.

2nd Place Winner: ‘Wood III’ by Wendel Wirth (United States)

?Artist Statement: In the winter months, the muted horizon parades elemental forms; barns and grain elevators, cow houses, cowsheds, granges as they have been called.

3rd Place Winner: ‘Architecture Minimal I’ by Klaus Lenzen (Germany)

Artist Statement: The photo shows the contours of a cooking plant, seen in Duisburg in the Ruhr area in the western part of Germany.

Merit: ‘Triangle Theorem’ by Deborah Bay (United States)

?Artist Statement: Image from the Traveling Light series exploring the interaction of light and color with optical objects. The series follows in a long lineage of experimental studies that investigate the most elemental components of photographic processes: light and lenses.

Merit: ‘Working Class Virus’ by Fabrizio Spucches (Italy)

Artist Statement: Under the umbrella of Corona Virus, current matters such as integration, global warming, conspiracy theory, ecology are depicted through a series of portraits.

Merit: ‘City Waves’ by Hans Wichmann (Germany)

Artist Statement: Skyscraper in Vienna/Austria photographed upwards with light from the side. Edited with hard contrasts in Photoshop. The sky was photographed separately and then inserted.

Merit: ‘Untitled’ by Hyun De Grande (Belgium)

Artist Statement: Attendre dans l’espace de rien (wait in the space of nothing).

Merit: ‘City Center, Las Vegas, NV’ by Axel Breutigam (Canada)

Artist Statement: Buildings and structures are fascinating to me, in particular, modern and contemporary designs.

Exploring a building from all possible angles of view and finding the parts of the structure which lead to another layer of abstraction is what I am seeking visually. To do so it is often necessary to give space and put things into a reductive perspective.

Merit: ‘Shape of Desert’ by Donell Gumiran (United Arab Emirates)

?Artist Statement: Liwa Desert lies 155 miles Southwest of Abu Dhabi, and about 62 miles south of the Arabian Gulf. It’s at the edge of the Rub’ al-Khali, aka the Empty Quarter – a 255,000 square-mile desert that has more sand in it than the Sahara. The area has an assortment of villages and farms – situated along the top of the T – in the midst of the ‘endless landscape of undulating sand shape dunes.’

Merit: ‘City Shapes’ by Ursula Reinke (Germany)

Artist Statement: N/A

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What you need to know about Nikon’s new 14-24mm F2.8 S and 50mm F1.2 S Z-mount lenses

17 Sep

What you need to know about Nikon’s new Z 14-24mm F2.8 S and Z 50mm F1.2 S

We’ve known they were coming for a while, but Nikon’s mirrorless lens roadmap moved two steps further forward with the launch of the new Z 14-24mm F2.8 S and Z 50mm F1.2 S. Keep reading to learn more about these two premium Z-mount lenses.

Z 50mm F1.2 S

Good news for Nikon Z shooters looking for a standard lens – you now have another option. The new Z 50mm F1.2 S is positioned between the affordable (and excellent) Z 50mm F1.8 S and the considerably less wallet-friendly Z 58mm F0.95 S.

Size and weight

First (and most obvious) things first: This is a pretty big lens. At almost six inches long (without the hood) and with an 82mm filter thread, the new Z 50mm F1.2 S is almost twice as big as the F1.8, and almost twice the weight (1095g, or 2.4lb). Nikon claims that key optics in this new lens are ‘1, 1/2x larger’ than in the F1.8, and the new lens also houses twin STM motors for accurate focus throughout its operating range.

Amazingly, the Nikon 50mm F1.2 S is even larger and heavier than the Canon RF 50mm F1.2L USM, which weighs in at 950g (2.1lb).

Size and weight

For the historically inclined, the last 50mm F1.2 from Nikon (the Nikkor 50mm F1.2 AI-S) weighed less than 400g (0.9lb) and was only 5cm (2in) long. However, due to the compromises involved in stuffing an F1.2 maximum aperture into the narrow F-mount, it was not, sadly, a particularly good lens. This 50mm F1.2, however, promises to be much better.

Optical construction

Optical construction comprises 17 elements in 15 groups, including three aspherical elements and two ‘ED’ extra-low-dispersion elements, and both Nikon’s Nano Crystal Coating and the newer ARNEO coating for flare, ghosting and coma suppression. Meanwhile, distortion is well-controlled and nine rounded aperture blades should help keep out of focus highlights circular at wider apertures.

Because of the exceptionally wide dimensions of the Z-mount, the rear element of the lens can be very large, helping to keep light rays near-perpendicular when they reach the sensor.

Nikon describes the optical construction of this lens as ‘symmetrical’, and in theory this should mean that the Z 50mm F1.2 S is capable of high resolution at all apertures, across the frame. This is obviously something that we want to put to the test as soon as we can.

Twin STM focus motors

The Z 50mm F1.2 S becomes the latest Nikon lens to feature twin STM focus motors, which should increase focus accuracy at close distances, as well as being quieter and more power-efficient than traditional Ultrasonic motors. Minimum focus distance is 0.45m (about 18″) and of course manual focus is also possible using the large focus ring. As we’d expect, this is ‘manual focus by wire’ but very finely-geared for precise adjustment.

Nikon promises ‘minimal’ focus breathing (where magnification changes as the lens is focused), which is good news for videographers.

Handling and operation

There’s no getting around the fact that this is a large lens, and it makes the Z6/7 feel pretty small by comparison. We strongly suspect, however, that it will pair well with those cameras when used with their optional grip, and of course any future high-end Z-series camera with a bit more heft.

Handling and operation

In terms of operation, the Z 50mm F1.2 S is also pretty consistent with other high-end S-series Nikon lenses of late. A control ring can be customized for direct control over exposure compensation or aperture (and other things, but those are the two most useful) and an ‘Fn’ button can be customized via the camera for quick access to various modes and features. Meanwhile an OLED status panel on the barrel shows focus and aperture + hyperfocal distance information. In line with other S-series lenses, the Z 50mm F1.2 S is ‘extensively’ sealed against dust and moisture.

The Nikon Z 50mm F1.2 S will be available in December for $ 2099.

Z 14-24mm F2.8 S

Nikon’s AF-S 14-24mm F2.8 was a wildly popular lens, and for many years it was among the best wide-angle zooms you could buy. Nikon was always going to create an equivalent for its new mirrorless Z mount and here it is: the Z 14-24mm F2.8 S.

Size and Weight

The old AF-S 14-24mm F2.8 is a famously large, unwieldy lens, thanks mostly to its enormous front element. The new Z 24-24mm F2.8 is an altogether more portable option, and considerably lighter (650g / 1.4lb compared to 970g / 2.1lb). That’s a weight reduction of 35%.

It’s not a small lens by any means, but at around five inches long, it is the smallest and also lightest 14-24mm F2.8 on the market (albeit in a class of only three – the third being Sigma’s 14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM Art). Minimum focus is 0.28m (~11in) so get ready to shoot some classic ‘wildflowers at sunset’ landscapes.

Optical construction

Optically too, this lens is totally different to its nominal F-mount predecessor. This is very obvious from the flat front element, which contrasts very clearly with the large, bulging front element of the older AF-S 14-24mm. And yes, this does mean that you can use screw-in filters, although you’ll need to attach the included HB-96 hood to do it, and you’ll need to hunt down 112mm filters – not a particularly ‘standard’ size (or a cheap one), but both Nikon and B+W do make them.

If you don’t fancy shelling out for massive new filters, there’s also a tray for trim-able 40.5mm drop-in gel filters at the very rear of the lens.

Optical construction

Internally, the new Z 14-24mm F2.8 S comprises 16 elements in 11 groups, including three aspherical and four ED elements. Like the 50mm F1.2, it features both Nano Crystal and ARNEO coatings. Nikon promises “stellar point light reproduction capabilities” and excellent coma and flare suppression, which should make this lens ideal for wide-aperture astrophotography.


The front element is coated with fluorine, to aid with cleaning if moisture and fingerprints should make their way onto the glass. Speaking of which, the Z 14-24mm F2.8 is sealed against dust and moisture.

Price and availability

The Nikon Z 14-24mm F2.8 S will be available in November for $ 2399 – a considerable premium over the older AF-S 14-24mm, but one that’s hopefully justified by its image quality. We’ll be sharing sample images as soon as we get hold of a production lens.

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Interview: Photographer Cath Simard talks about developing your own personal style

11 Aug


Above: El Chaltén, located in the Argentine side of Patagonia, is known as the National Capital of trekking.

I first stumbled across Cath Simard’s work on Instagram and was instantly mesmerized by its beauty. Not only does the Canadian photographer capture stunning and unsullied locations around the globe, she’s developed a distinctive style. Every photographer serious about making a living with their work especially needs to focus on creating an aesthetic that makes them instantly recognizable.

Simard’s humble, down-to-earth demeanor and grace dealing with the occasional critic is also refreshing. I got a chance to catch up with the former model and find out how she got into photography, why she’s passionate about teaching others her methods, and how traveling solo altered her outlook.

What inspired you to get into photography?

Above: This campsite, located at an altitude well above 4,000 meters, was the perfect site to capture the night sky against the Andes Mountains in Peru.

I started in the creative industry as a model when I was 15 years old. I modeled for ten years and worked as an Art Director and fashion stylist for four years. I’ve always been attracted to the visual arts but I would have never thought I’d be a photographer one day. Then, back in 2014, I got tired of the fashion industry. I decided to sell all my belongings and buy a one-way ticket to Australia with very little money in the bank.

I did farm work for two years over there, documenting my journey with my iPhone. I was approached by an Australian bandana company to take photos of their products. I said yes, immediately, even if I had no experience using a camera or in professional shooting. I decided to purchase a Sony a6000 with a 35mm F1.8 lens and started photographing people wearing bandanas doing outdoor activities.

Why did you gravitate toward nature?

Above: After a long evening hike, the best was made of a foggy morning in the mountains of Peru.

After completing my farm work, I decided to go on a three-month solo trip covering Indonesia, Hawaii, and Western Canada. Never before had I seen such huge mountains as when arriving in Alberta. The feeling I got when I saw them for the first time is indescribable. It was in Alberta I discovered my passion for hiking and I was introduced to scrambling, which allowed me to access more remote areas and reach viewpoints that have never been photographed before.

I started to document my adventures and fell in love with photographing the mountains, specifically. It was the first time in my life I found something that made me feel whole and brought me so much joy and energy.

How were you inspired to grow into offering workshops?

Above: Here are the Cerro Yerupajá and Siula Grande mountains, in Peru, amongst other giants, captured between 2:00 and 3:00 am.

Three years ago, a company from Quebec (my hometown) asked me if I would be interested in teaching photography to a group of 10 people for one day. It was something I have never done before and I was curious to find out if it is something I’d enjoy, so I said ‘yes.’ That day was quite a revelation for me – the amount of excitement, satisfaction, and the feeling of accomplishment I got from teaching each student was indescribable. A new passion was born.

After this experience, I decided to combine my passion for teaching, hiking and traveling into unique international photography workshops for people to learn photography while completely immersing themselves in nature. I highly enjoy spending time with people that have similar interests, sharing my knowledge, and giving as much insight as possible so they can return home with images they are proud of.

Which photo are you most proud of and why?

Above: My favorite photo to date was captured at Jasper National Park in the Alberta province of Canada.

I don’t have one in particular but, in general, the images I’m the proudest of are the ones where I followed my own personal creative vision. They often involve a lot of physical work and perseverance. Being unique is also something I value and prioritize a lot, so I’d say that my favorite images usually have a unique and original compositional component or mood along with a great story behind them.

What gear are you using lately?

Above: I wanted to capture this ice cave in Iceland at night. Although I didn’t get Northern Lights when I took this particular image, I decided to composite it with a night sky I captured a couple of days before.

I use the Sony a7R III + 16-34mm F2.8 lens for 80% of my images. I also love the Sony 100-400mm F4.5-5.8 lens for tighter shots of mountain peaks and compression.

What is your favorite photo editing software?

Above: This image was taken with a drone at El Chaltén National Park. It’s important to note that you need a permit to fly inside the borders of a National Park, or you need to take off outside the border.

I used to say Lightroom Classic CC, but I’ve been experimenting much more with Photoshop over the last year. I like to combine both software programs for my editing.

You’ve traveled extensively. Do you have a favorite place? If so, why?

Above: My favorite image from 2019 was taken at Torres del Paine National Park in Chile’s Patagonia region.

I simply cannot choose between Patagonia and Peru. I love the variety in landscape and wilderness that Patagonia offers and the remoteness and untouched beauty of Peru. Both places demand that you put work into creating great images – especially Peru, since you need to trek in high altitude for many days to reach interesting viewpoints.

Any destinations you wish to visit?

Above: Also captured in El Chaltén, I challenged myself to get out of my comfort zone by creating something interesting out of an average foreground and backdrop.

I would love to explore Alaska – especially its giant snow-covered peaks, glaciers, lakes, and ice caves. It seems this part of the world has it all!

What grounds you and keeps you inspired?

Above: I spent all night photographing the Andes Mountains in Peru. Obviously the Milky Way doesn’t bend in an arch but I had some fun with compositing to create this effect.

Traveling solo multiple times allowed me to do discover hidden parts of myself through self-reflection and introspection. I think that introspection is essential for becoming a better person and it is the single most powerful tool for internal self-awareness and how to find true happiness.

When you take the time to become an expert, you make better decisions, you are more confident, you learn to respect your limits which all brings you closer to live the life you want. You worry less about what other people think of you, you become more empathic to others, and have a more positive attitude towards life.

This is definitely easier said than done. You need to find a time and space for this, and to me this happens whenever I’m alone hiking in the mountains. It’s like a meditation that grounds me and helps me get back to what’s important in life.

Other tools that help are self improvement books such as How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie and What to Say When You Talk to Yourself by Dr. Shad Helmstetter, to name a few.

What advice do you have for someone looking to develop their own style?

Above: A final perspective of El Chaltén, located in Patagonia.

Pick three photographers that inspire you and analyze their images. Why do they speak to you? Try to identify the elements that you like in their photos and look for them when you are shooting or editing. I do believe that imitating – not copying – is a great way to learn and find your own personal style.

Another thing is to listen and trust your creative instinct. For example, I started creating composites at a very early stage of my learning process. Compositing has always been a creative way for me to express myself but it has always attracted negative comments. I’ve often been told that my images were too contrasting, too blue or too Photoshopped.

If I would have left these comments get to me and influence the way I create, I would never be where I am today as an artist. The moral of the story for me is to ignore negative comments and only take constructive criticism from people you trust and who you know truly believe in you.

Lastly, developing your style takes time. A lot of a time. So be patient, learn new techniques and practice as much as you can.

Catherine Simard is a Canadian-born self-taught travel/landscape photographer and digital artist with a passion for the outdoors and the wilderness. She is a Sony Artisan of Imagery. Simard will be resuming workshops at various international destinations in 2021.

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