In my photography classes I often get asked, “What is a long exposure?” Many beginning photographers want me to give them a definitive shutter speed with my explanation. However, long exposures are not only subject driven, they are largely based on the artistic vision you have for your photograph. Panning, light painting and night photography all make use of long exposures. However, these techniques are subjects of a future article. Today I would like to discuss “really” long exposures, exposures in excess of several minutes. These types of exposures create surreal, dreamlike images. They use neutral density filters (think sunglasses for your lens) to extend exposure times far in excess of what could be achieved by simply decreasing ISO and stopping down your aperture.
No matter what you photograph, there is one thing you should realize about light. Not all light is created equal. I’m not talking about the quality of light, but rather the color of light. What you might see as white light from different sources can actually have different colors, or what are referred to as color temperatures. Direct sunlight at noon (which I’ll just refer to as sunlight) is considered to be a “normal” color temperature, so all light sources are compared to this as the standard. For example, light from an incandescent light bulb appears to be more orange than sunlight. On the opposite side of the spectrum, shady areas appear to be more blue than sunlight. In photography, we refer to these differences as being “warmer” (or more orange) and “cooler” (or more blue) than our neutral sunlight reference point. In this article, we will go over the basics of white balance and color temperature, topics that can be a bit intimidating for beginners to understand.
Drones – often called unmanned aerial vehicles – have become vastly more common over the past few years. In the United States alone, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) predicts that more than one million drones will be sold over this holiday season; many more will be sold in other countries across the world. Whether you love or hate the growing prevalence of drones, their popularity has never been greater. In this tutorial, I will share some tips that I have learned over the past few months of using a drone for taking pictures. My focus is on still images, but many of these tips apply to drone video and cinematography as well – particularly for people in the midst of buying their first drone.
We are continuing our series on how to choose and buy computer hardware for photography needs and today we will be providing suggestions on what Apple laptops are worth looking into. First, we will do a quick overview of the Apple line of MacBooks, then we will provide our top recommendations for doing post-processing work. This article has been written in collaboration with our team members who use Apple’s MacBook products exclusively and extensively for their photography work.
We have written quite a bit about building PCs here at Photography Life, but sadly, we have not given nearly as much attention to Macs. Part of the reason is the platform of choice – a few of the PL’s team members have been using PCs for many years, including myself, and as a result, we have not had a chance to write much about Apple products. But things will hopefully change going forward. Earlier this year, I purchased my first iMac Retina and I have been exploring the Mac world ever since. While I am planning to write a separate article on my thoughts about Mac vs PC and some of my personal experiences with potentially switching to a different platform, in this particular article I want to focus on one topic, which is purchasing an iMac for photography needs. I have had quite a few requests from our readers on this topic and many wonder what type of an iMac would suffice for photography work without breaking the bank. After doing quite a bit of research before purchasing my iMac and consulting with other Mac experts, I believe I found a couple of configuration options that are optimal for photography work for the next few years.
Noise is the sleet storm Satan drenches our photos in when we stupidly leave our tripod in the trunk thinking VR will save our lazy butt, but instead we end up shooting at quadruple digit ISOs. In this article, we will take a look at a couple of techniques on how to reduce noise and how to avoid it in the first place.
LED lights have been a big trend in the last few years in dance parties, Many of us have photographed events where harsh LED light was used on the dance floor, and these LED lights have flooded our images and prevented us from taking available-light photos without them looking over-saturated and alien. One obvious option is to use a flash, whether ON or OFF camera, but you may be losing those moments where the light is causing interesting shadow situations. A second option is to convert the images to black and white, which is also a good solution, however sometimes you want to show certain characteristics, for example showing a party full of people with red-hair :)
As the number of photos taken each year continues to increase at a nearly exponential rate, infrared photography remains a relatively small niche in the photography world, one that allows us to see and capture the world in a unique manner. Because of my infrared articles and photos, I often receive emails from others struggling to achieve good IR processing results, sometimes even from our illustrious leader. ;) Recently, I received a spate of questions regarding my technique and seeking assistance. I thought that sharing a detailed example of my workflow might be helpful for those of you who have an interest in this style of photography and are looking for some tips and pointers.
Most people who enjoy taking images of birds will attest to the fact that it can be especially challenging to photograph hummingbirds. These little ‘pocket rockets’ dart around constantly and very seldom stay in one place long enough for us to find them in our viewfinders, let alone actually get an image. If you’re like me even being able to capture a decent image of a hummingbird on a feeder with its wings spread is an uncommon feat.
During our recent photo walk in San Francisco, where we had over 30 Photography Life readers join us for some awesome time together, one of the participants noted that a number of photographers who came to the photo walk were carrying tripods. As we were shooting a brightly-lit scene, his question was – why would you even want to bring a tripod to photograph in bright light? He then pointed out the fact that he almost never carries a tripod, that considering how good the performance of digital cameras is today, that a tripod is unnecessary. While I agreed about the fact that modern cameras are certainly very good at handling noise and the fact that I rarely use a tripod in broad daylight myself, I stated that I still carry a tripod with me when I travel and pointed out one specific situation that took place a couple of days earlier, where a tripod made it possible to capture a dynamic scene that I could not have captured otherwise. I asked if the participants had previously seen the below photo of San Francisco, captured from Twin Peaks (which was in my San Francisco at Night post):