Raptor Photography

I really enjoy raptor photography, definitely much more than any other type of bird photography. Birds of prey are powerful, aggressive, fast, agile, precise and even at times ravenous, having no mercy on their targets. They are also tough to photograph and get close to, since most of them (especially adults) do not like people and their presence. I have been studying raptor behavior and habitat during the last 3 years and have traveled to various locations both in Colorado and in other states to see and photograph these beautiful creatures. In this article, I will show you some of the latest pictures and videos of predators I took during the last month and will give you a few tips on photographing raptors.

Red-tailed Hawk in Flight

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How to Recover Deleted Photos from Memory Cards

Have you ever accidentally formatted your memory card with important images in it? Or perhaps your hard drive crashed, you had no backups and you already deleted images from your memory cards? You never think about it until it happens and when it does happen, it hits you hard. I once lost all images of Red Fox kits that were very dear to me and I even managed to format and overwrite images from a trip to Utah this year. Unfortunately, disasters happen to everyone and if you happen to be in a similar situation, it is better to be prepared and know what to do. In this quick article, I will show you how you can recover and retrieve lost images from memory cards and will give you some information on what can be recovered and under what circumstances.

1) Data disaster types

Whether you are using a Compact Flash or SD/SDHC card, there are several types of disasters that can happen with it:

  1. Formatted card (Chance of Recovery: High) – if you happened to format the memory card for whatever reason, either in-camera or on your PC. Chances of recovering all data are very high, as long as the card was not touched after the last format. This is due to the fact that the formatting process never actually deletes the images from the memory card – it simply labels the card as “free” and prepares it for writing.
  2. Deleted images (Chance of Recovery: High) – if you manually deleted images from the card either on the camera or on your PC/Mac, the chances of recovering all data are very high, as long as more images or data were not written on the disk. Just like in formatting, deleting files simply marks certain area of the disk as free for writing. The actual files are never erased from the disk.
  3. Non-physical damage/data failure (Chance of Recovery: Moderate to Low, depends on type of failure) – there could be different scenarios, but one of the more common ones is when a memory card fails during the process of writing images to the card (corrupted data). This is where your camera would give an error, indicating that the data could not be written to the card. The chances of data recovery are moderate to low, depending on how serious the damage is due to bad sectors, etc. Some unreadable cards can be recovered, again, depending on the damage.
  4. Physical damage (Chance of Recovery: Low to None) – if your memory card has suffered from physical damage and is unreadable, the chances of recovery are very low. You could try one of the data recovery tools shown below to see if it can recover anything. If all programs fail and the drive cannot be recognized, it might be better to take it to data recovery experts, who can try to retrieve the data in a lab environment.

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How to Photograph Fireworks

Wondering about photographing fireworks on 4th of July, New Year or some other event / occasion? In this quick article, I will provide some basic tips on how to best capture fireworks, what type of equipment to use and what camera settings to use during the process. Although the process is relatively simple, there are some things that might be worth considering, as outlined below.

Fireworks 1

Fireworks, 3 second exposure

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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

Some Canon EOS models also offer “Partial Metering”, which is similar to Spot Metering, except the covered area is larger (approximately 8% of the viewfinder area near the center vs 3.5% in Spot Metering).

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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