Panoramic Photography Tutorial

I wrote this tutorial for those who want to learn about panoramic photography and how to photograph and stitch panoramas using a point and shoot or DSLR camera. The technique consists of two parts – photographing a scene using a camera and then using special software to align and stitch those images together to form a single panoramic image. I will go over both and will show you how to create stunning panoramic images of any subject, including landscapes.

Dead Horse Point Panorama at Sunrise

Dead Horse Point Panorama at Sunrise

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HDR Photography Tutorial

This is a detailed tutorial on HDR Photography for beginners and how you can create HDR images from single or multiple photographs using different exposures.

While I was driving through Rocky Mountains last year, I saw a beautiful sunset. It was so beautiful, that I stood there in awe for a moment, before taking out my camera and attempting to take a picture. I took one quick shot of the sunset and quickly realized that there was too much contrast between the sky and the mountains for my camera. The image came out horrible – the sky looked somewhat fine, but the mountains were pitch black. I only had my camera and my trusty tripod with me, so I knew that I did not have many options. I decided to try out a photography technique known as “HDR” or “High Dynamic Range” and I ended up with the following image:

Combined in Software

While some people really like the above image, others just hate it. That’s how it goes with HDR in general – the surreal look of HDR photographs is not for everyone to love and enjoy, although, there are cases when it is done extremely well. But let’s save this discussion for later and first try to understand what HDR photography is all about.

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How to Photograph Waterfalls

In this article, I will share some tips on how to capture beautiful waterfalls. While it seems like a simple task, photographing waterfalls and making the water look silky smooth can be a little challenging, especially if you do not have the right equipment. Use the tips below to understand how to get this effect and capture beautiful waterfall pictures.

Waterfall - 5 Second Exposure (Shutter Speed)

1) Your goal – slow shutter speed

In order to make the water look smooth, you need to use an extremely slow shutter speed of several seconds or longer. Slow shutter speeds create the “ghosting” effect, making the subject appear smooth and blurry, which is exactly what you want. Fast shutter speeds only freeze the running water, making the scene look too ordinary. Here is an image of falls that I captured with a relatively fast shutter speed of 1/250th of a second:

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How to Photograph Corporate Portraits

I have been getting many requests lately to write an article on corporate portrait photography, after my last corporate event photography tips article that I wrote a few weeks ago. Photographing employees for corporate websites and magazine articles is very different from corporate event photography – it is similar to photographing a portrait in a professional studio. Obviously, the atmosphere is different, lighting is different and the gear you use is also very different. You must be equipped with portable lighting equipment that you can assemble and disassemble in minutes. In this article, I will go through the different types of corporate portrait photography and what you can do to get the best possible results with the least amount of money spent on gear and lighting equipment.

Corporate Portrait

Corporate Portrait

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Landscape Photography Post-Processing Tutorial in Lightroom

In this tutorial, I will show you how to transform boring landscape pictures to vibrant and beautiful images in Lightroom in quick and easy steps. I will show you the real benefits of using the RAW image format and just some of the possibilities it gives you to non-destructively enhance your photographs without ever leaving Lightroom. I personally use this technique for post-processing my landscape photography all the time and I hope you find it useful.

Read on if you want to be able to take an image like this (original, as came out of the camera):

Original

and transform it to an image like this:

Final

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What is White Balance?

Ever wondered why your subjects turn out yellow when photographing them in indoor environments? Or why your camera flash can make them appear blue? Thoroughly understanding the concept of white balance and how it works is very important in digital photography, because setting it incorrectly could ruin a picture, adding all kinds of unwanted color casts and causing skin tones to look very unnatural. In this article, I will explain how you can adjust it on your camera or post-production to get accurate colors.

1) Definition of White Balance

Simply put, white balance in digital photography means adjusting colors so that the image looks more natural. We go through the process of adjusting colors to primarily get rid of color casts, in order to match the picture with what we saw when we took it. Why do we have to do this? Because most light sources (the sun, light bulbs, flashlights, etc) do not emit purely white color and have a certain “color temperature“. The human brain processes the information that comes from our eyes and automatically adjusts the color temperature, so we normally see the colors correctly. If you took a white sheet of paper and looked at it outside, it would most likely look as white as if you were to look at it indoors. What most people do not realize, however, is that there is a huge difference in color temperature between bright sunlight and indoors tungsten light.

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Understanding Metering and Metering Modes

Every modern DSLR has something called “Metering Mode”, also known as “Camera Metering”, “Exposure Metering” or simply “Metering”. Knowing how metering works and what each of the metering modes does is important in photography, because it helps photographers control their exposure with minimum effort and take better pictures in unusual lighting situations. In this understanding metering modes article, I will explain what metering is, how it works and how you can use it for your digital photography.

When I got my first DSLR (Nikon D80), one of my frustrations was that some images would come out too bright or too dark. I had no idea how to fix it, until one day, when I learned about camera metering modes.

1) What is Metering?

Metering is how your camera determines what the correct shutter speed and aperture should be, depending on the amount of light that goes into the camera and the sensitivity of the sensor. Back in the old days of photography, cameras were not equipped with a light “meter”, which is a sensor that measures the amount and intensity of light. Photographers had to use hand-held light meters to determine the optimal exposure. Obviously, because the work was shot on film, they could not preview or see the results immediately, which is why they religiously relied on those light meters.

Today, every DSLR has an integrated light meter that automatically measures the reflected light and determines the optimal exposure. The most common metering modes in digital cameras today are:

  1. Matrix Metering (Nikon), also known as Evaluative Metering (Canon)
  2. Center-weighted Metering
  3. Spot Metering (Nikon), also known as Partial Metering (Canon)

You can see the camera meter in action when you shoot in Manual Mode – look inside the viewfinder and you will see bars going left or right, with a zero in the middle, as illustrated below.

Nikon Viewfinder

Metering shown in Nikon Viewfinder

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RAW vs JPEG

The RAW vs JPEG topic seems like a never ending debate in photography. Some photographers say shoot RAW, while others say shoot JPEG. What is RAW format in digital photography? What are the advantages and disadvantages of RAW versus JPEG and why? Should you shoot in RAW or JPEG? Will shooting in RAW complicate your post-production and workflow? These are some of the most common questions that people ask after they buy their first DSLR camera and go through the camera options. Having a thorough understanding of advantages and disadvantages is essential for photographers to make the right decision on whether to use RAW format for their work.

RAW Sand Dunes

Sand Dunes - Shot in RAW

I remember my first time going through the camera options and reading the Nikon D80 manual, wondering about what RAW does and why I should consider using it. JPEG is a no-brainer – it’s the default image format that is used in most point and shoot cameras and we all got used to it and know it very well, seeing and sharing JPEG images online and downloading/uploading them from and to our mobile devices. But there was something about RAW that I wanted to find out about immediately. Maybe it was the word “raw” that sounded intriguing, maybe it was the immediate desire to get the sharpest, highest quality and best pictures ever without knowing much about the camera…whatever it was, I went ahead and changed my camera settings to RAW and tried to take a picture. The first thing I noticed, was how small all of a sudden my memory card became. Wait a second! How come the number of pictures went down from over 700 to under 200? The image looked exactly the same on the LCD and yet it consumed more than three times more memory? Bummer. Then, I took the memory card and inserted it into my laptop. To my surprise, I couldn’t even open the darn thing! Worthless, I thought and changed my camera settings back to JPEG.

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DNG vs RAW

Should you use DNG or RAW format? This is one of the most important questions that you as a photographer need to ask yourself, because it will definitely affect your digital photography workflow. Every photographer has their own say on whether to use DNG or RAW, but it is important to know the key differences between the two, along with their advantages and disadvantages. In this article, I will provide as much information as I can about both formats, in addition to my opinion and workflow. If you are looking for more information about how RAW images compare to JPEG images, then please read my “RAW vs JPEG” article.

1) What is RAW?

RAW images, also known as “digital negatives” are truly “raw”, meaning they are almost unprocessed data coming directly from the camera sensor. Unlike JPEG files that can be easily opened, viewed and printed by most image-viewing/editing programs, RAW is a proprietary format that is tied to the camera manufacturer and sensor, and therefore is not supported by all software products. RAW files preserve the most amount of information about an image and generally contain more colors and dynamic range than other formats.

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How to Organize Pictures

I wrote this basic guide on organizing pictures for those, who occasionally take pictures with digital cameras and who are looking for ways to organize images on their computers. This is NOT a guide for serious photographers with large catalogs of photographs. If you are a photographer looking for ways to organize your photo library, please see my “how to organize pictures in Lightroom” guide written specifically for serious photography work.

During the last 10 years, all kinds of digital cameras have flooded both traditional and online stores. Today, the market is over-saturated with a wide array of digital cameras for personal and professional use and tough competition among the manufacturers pushed the prices so low, that most US households now own one or more digital cameras. Digital cameras have gotten so popular, that they made their way into our phones and other electronic devices as well. With such a wide array of sources where pictures come from, how do we keep them organized?

Most people do not even bother organizing pictures. They take pictures, leave them on their cameras and mobile devices and use them when needed – to share a picture via Facebook or to send the latest pic to their friends and family. As a result, many pictures get lost and memories are gone forever. So, what should you do to keep your pictures organized and saved?

1) First, find all of your photographs

Start with your computer and try to locate every single picture. Common places to look for photographs are in your “My Documents” or “My Pictures” folders, but you might have pictures in other folders as well. Just search your computer for all files with “JPG” extension and see what it finds. Create a local folder on your desktop and move all your pictures there. If you have other computers/laptops at home, perform the same search and try to find every single picture. Next, go through your mobile devices (iPhone, iPod, Zune, etc) and see if you have any pictures stored there too. Copy them all to your main PC, into the same folder that you created earlier.

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