While Nasim is busy traveling, I am going to try to fill in for a few days and post some articles. Although there are a number of reasons why I have not been writing for PL for a while now, one of the main reasons has been simply lack of time! I hope our readers can forgive me for that, but going forward, I will do my best to show up a bit more often, since we need more female content here :) Anyway, since I get a lot of questions and requests from our readers regarding food photography (many of whom are novice photographers and food bloggers), I decided to do a quick review of Nicole S. Young’s book titled “Food Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots” that I bought a few years back for my own personal use.
Perhaps the best-known hosting website for photographers is SmugMug, a platform that has been around since 2002. SmugMug acts as an online gallery space, letting you display your photos easily and – relatively – inexpensively. I have been using SmugMug exclusively for almost a year, and I have grown very familiar with its range of tools and capabilities. In general, I have been very impressed by SmugMug; for this review, I will cover some of its main uses and features, as well as the positives and negatives of using SmugMug to host your online gallery.
Have you ever wondered why you are instantly drawn to some photographs, but not to others? Or why some of your images lack that wow factor that you see in other’s. It may be related to how you compose your pictures. How a photograph is composed has a huge impact on how long we look at it. The longer our brain is allowed to wander through an image, the more likely we are to like it. Photographs that are not composed well do not have staying power, and are quickly discarded by our brain. In this article I want to discuss four very basic compositional tips. I won’t be talking about the “rule of thirds” or “leading lines”, but rather four pointers you should consider before you take a picture. These tips will save you a lot of post processing time, and will allow you to create much stronger images.
When photographic architecture, landscapes and even people, photographers often desire to increase detail and resolution, capture a wider angle or create a unique look that is impossible to achieve with standard camera gear. That’s where panorama photography comes in – it can be a great technique to utilize in order to accomplish such goals. Although the concept and the technique itself are fairly straightforward, panoramic photography often confuses many photographers. We often get many inquiries about this topic from our readers and one of the most frequently asked questions is about the specific type of gear to buy in order to produce stunning panoramas. And that’s certainly one of the biggest myths about panoramic photography – you rarely ever need such gear! Most of the panoramas I have stitched so far have been done without panoramic gear and although I do own a panoramic slider, I rarely ever get to use it. Read on to find out why!
When photographing landscapes and including a bright source of light like the Sun, we often end up getting quite a bit of ghosting and flare in images. Although seeing lens flare is quite normal in both images and video (in fact, videographers and movie makers often purposefully add ghosting and flare to their footage to make the scene look more natural), sometimes the effect can heavily harm images. Since every lens reacts differently to bright sources of light, with some having special coatings and optical optimizations in place to reduce such effects, the effect of ghosting and flare and its damage are not something that can be easily predicted – there are too many variables involved, like focal length, optical design, coating, light source angle and even dust within the lens. So what do you do when you have a beautiful sunrise / sunset moment and you want to capture it with the sun in the frame without traces of ghosting / flare? I have been using a “finger the sun” technique for many years and today I want to explain how this technique works and how you can use it to create stunning, dramatic landscape images.
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.
So while new gear is released and debated and salivated over this month I humbly submit that it may be worth a reminder as to why it means anything to us at all. Something to do with taking photos, I think, I’m not really sure. But while a newer sensor or greater ISO range or more AF points gets your hearts racing again as when the world was new, at some point we’ll need to remember to take some photos. This is in no way to diminish the enthusiasm people have for new equipment but perhaps I can be a small counterpoint to the frenzied gear fetish and dwell on some images.
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.
In this final installment to this series, I have chosen to discuss one of my favorite topics in photography: close-ups. My goals with this article are to provide a basic understanding of light and exposure when photographing a subject at close range, the rationale for exposure loss during magnification, and guidance on how to correct for this exposure loss. To illustrate these principles, I will share my own empiric observations, review the pertinent calculations that govern magnification and exposure loss compensation, and discuss select photographs that I have made at close range. Hopefully, this article will help beginning and advanced photographers grasp the physics of light at close range and take command and control of magnification and exposure compensation. Although I crafted this article from the framework of a photographer using traditional close-up and macro equipment (i.e., bellows, extension tubes), the use of an external light meter (i.e., non-TTL metering), and continuous lighting (e.g., natural light, lamps), the tenets and technical considerations for close-up exposure compensation are still relevant to those photographers who prefer automation, TTL metering, and electronic flash. Finally, I will wrap up the discussion by sharing some thoughts on the use of film as a tool for learning the visualization process.
As yet another new year beckons (entirely too quickly for my liking; I still vividly remember 1986!) we may be reflecting on the photography we have made this year but also on what we aspire to in the coming year. I’m sure most of us want to improve our skills and produce better images. Perhaps some of us simply want a newer camera and more pixels. Maybe those of you who do it for a living want more clients and more success for your business. Perhaps the hobbyists among us are wondering if we need to specialise in a particular genre. Is our poison landscapes, architecture, wildlife or street? Or perhaps we want to leave the camera on the shelf and spend more quality time with our families.