Practice Framing and Learn Your Camera

Marc Silber gives an introduction on how to take better photos.

First of all make friends with your camera. Read the manual and know how it operates. Pros always know their pieces of equipment as this is a starting point.

Despite the above advice, it is not the camera that makes you a photographer. Any piece of equipment can produce a good photo as it is just a tool.

Framing your shots well is what makes a difference. You need to use the space of the frame in the best way. In order to learn this skill, a simple framing card is often recommended. Just cut out a 3 by 2 rectangle and always take this card with you. Instead of setting up all your photo gear to compose a picture, opt for faster capturing the frame with your card. It will train your eyes to find the best composition.

As C. Bresson said, Framing is a precise organization of forms which give that event a proper expression.

Creative Way of Using Flashes

This video shows how you can use flashes even on a sunny day to get really creative photos. The cross effect is achieved because two flashes light the subject from different sides, crossing their rays at the subject.

One flash is directed down at 45 degrees and the other one is placed on the ground. Both of them are controlled from the built in (pop up) flash on the camera. The upper flash has a colored filter and therefore it gives warmer light, while the other one gives colder light. It adds to the effect.

The camera is set to 1/125 sec shutter speed and f22 aperture. Flashes are manually set to half power.

Chase Jarvis' Advice

Award winning photographer Chase Jarvis shares a simple but yet useful advice on how you may improve your photography.

It is very simple - just start taking more pictures with your camera. Do not be obsessed by technical stuff: new photo gear, new features, etc. Modern cameras are wonderful tools that have a program mode "P". It works well and you need not bother with apertures, exposures and so on. Create art with your mind by taking photos.

Portraits in Natural Light

Davide Greene shows how he photographed his model in the day light without using any reflectors or flashes. This short masterclass compliments Using Natural light for Indoor Portrait.

First of all he is picky of the right location. It needs to be shade but with some reflected light coming from a large building across the street for example. A model has better lean on something, in his case it is a brick wall. That way the model's pose looks relaxed.

In portraits background is not as important as surfaces and textures near your model.

Experimenting with Depth of Field

This tutorial is based on one photograph taken at different aperture settings. It allowed to demonstrate how Depth of Field really works.

In order to practice with depth of field try finding something in line to photograph. It can be tennis or golf balls, concrete paving, a fence or anything similar.

The equipment that was used to take these photos is: a tripod (see how to use a tripod) and a cable release because longer shutter speeds were involved; and a Canon 250d camera. The ISO was set to 100.

A series of photos of the same fence, shot at different aperture shows how the depth of field increases as does the area in focus.

At aperture f4.5 the area in focus is only one or two inches and you see the background is completely blurred. As you increase the aperture, more and more becomes in focus and shutter speed gets longer.

It is a combination of ISO, shutter speed and aperture that makes an exposure of your image. These parameters correlate with each other, which means that if you leave your ISO fixed to 100 and increase aperture from 4.5 to 32, your shutter speed will be increased too.

Create a Portrait with One Light

Actually in order to make a nice portrait you don't need many lights. If you have just one light source, it is enough, providing you use several reflectors to utilize and redirect the available light.

The main light may come from a softbox, at 45 degrees angle to your subject (from above). Then you need to place a quite large reflector below the model's face to bounce the light to the face.

Secondly, you need a fill light. You can set a simple white panel on the model's side that will reflect the light from the main source back to the model.

And finally if you place a small reflector above your model's head, you will have a hair light.

Such a setup can be also used when shooting on locations.

Using Natural light for Indoor Portrait

This tutorial shows how to use natural light coming from windows for creating quality portraits indoors.

In order to manipulate the natural light you can use reflectors, diffusers and large panels. They do not require any power and never overkill the main light source.

Also if whalls are white, they reflect light well by themselves. A gold reflector can imitate a sun beam on your model's face and create a soft glow effect.

How to Make a Panorama

In order to make a panorama you do not need a fancy camera and expensive tripods. You can use your point&shoot camera that you normally use.

All you have to do is making a series of photos. Start from the left.

Hold your camera steady and at the same level horizontally. Shoot one image and turn a little bit to the right overlapping the previous photo.

Make five to seven photos.

You can use a program called ArcSoft Panorama to actually build your panorama from the images you have taken. Just start the program, select the folder where your images are located and chose the first one. The software is so smart that it recognizes the whole series of images and suggests to open all of them. When all images are loaded, the program will stich them together. Usually the output is good enough to skip any further editing. Just save a new photo and it is ready for printing.

Fill Flash as a Solution to Back Light Situation

In this tutorial Michael explains why you need to use a flash (even built in your camera) when shooting in the day light.

When your subject or model is positioned against the light source, for example the sun is behind your subject, you need to compensate the back light. Otherwise your model will be underexposed, i.e. dark, compare to the sky. It happens because the camera metering system tries to expose the sky which is a lot brighter that your subject.

If you are a beginner, set your camera to the "P" mode and have your flash open. Try shooting and you will see that your subject is exposed more relative to the sky. You may have to play with a flash compensation feature on your camera that decreases or increases your flash's output power by 1 to 2 stops. Usually you can adjust the flash power from -2 to +2. If your subject is still darker than you want, try dialing plus 1 or 2 and see how it affects its brightness.

In order to make use of your flash in back light situations, remember that your model needs to be close to your camera (flash). Otherwise the flash power will be insufficient to properly lighten the subject.

General Photography Tips

Evaluate the Lighting Situation

  • Sun, Shade, Incandesent, Halogen?

  • Look around: highlights, shadows, spotlights.

  • Put your subject in good light.

  • Look for reflection/catchlight in the eyes.

  • Use lamps, spotlights, etc.

Shoot in Low Light/Available Light

  • Increase your ISO

  • Increase your Aperture (F-stop)

  • Decrease your Shutter Speed.

  • Focus manually if autofocus fails.

  • Brace on Thinks (tripod, gear bags).

  • Try manual settings/metering.

Learn Your Camera

  • Isolate the variables (depth of field, shutter speed, ISO, aperture, etc.)

  • Play, tweek, shoot lots, share your photos, get feedback, change it up.

  • Share gear - find someone you can test out lenses, flashes, etc. with.

  • Set the white balance.

Rule of Thirds.

Get high, Swing low

  • People look better from above.

  • Stand on things

  • Lay down

  • Get the angle

  • Change your perpective

How to be a pretty subject?

  • Laugh, smile, have fun!

  • Make eye contact with the camera.

  • Stand in the light.

  • Get close, show some love

  • Stand still

General Photography Tips from Kris Krug. Kris Krug is part photographer and part open source web entrepreneur.

What is a Lighting Ratio?

This tutorial is for studio photography. You may have wondered what a lighting ratio means.

The lighting ratio is simply a ration of the key and fill lights used to light a subject. For example:

  • 1:1 ratio - produces soft, even lighting when the key and fill lights are exactly the same.

  • 2:1 ratio - gives lighting usually used for shooting portraits. The key light is twice as bright as the fill light, 1 stop difference.

  • 4:1 ratio - more contrast result. There is a 2 stops difference between the key and fill lights.

  • 8:1 ratio - very contrast lighting. It is a 3 stop difference between the key and fill lights.

In other words the higher the ratio, the higher the contrast.

One more tip, position your lights 45 degrees from the camera. The greater the angle, the greater the contrast.

Learn Focussing in dSLR Cameras

In order to take full advantage of shooting with a dSLR camera, you need to learn how it focusses.

You will see in the viewfinder 9 points with one in the center and 8 over the perimeter. These are focussing points. Most often people set the central focussing point active and use it all the time. However you can switch between these points according to your needs. Just press a special button (refer to your camera manual) and you will see that one of the points becomes red. By rotating the primary selection wheel or moving the joystick you can switch the focussing point from one to another or to the situation when all 9 points are selected (red). When all points are read it means that the camera will automaticall choose the focussing point that it believes to be right in a particular composition, usually it will focus on the closest to the camera subject.

Another important tool to use is the shutter release button that has two stops. When you half press it, the camera focusses on something and starts metering. So if you hold this button half pressed and move your camera, the chosen focus point and metering will remain the same. It allows achieving creative shots because you get something in focus and then recompose.

Formal Pose for Female Portrait

First of all turn the body of your model in 45 degrees. Turn in the shoulders. Have her drop her back (from you) shoulder a bit to achieve basic composition.

These is what you should be thinking: pose, light, lift and refine.

To get beatiful shadows you need to place your light source a bit higher. You can adjust the light by asking the model to turn her head. That way you can control the shadows and you can always move your camera to choose the right position.

Your camera level should be just above the model's eyes. An adjustable posing stool is highly recommended.

The closer you come to the subject, the upper your camera gets.

Ask your model to lean a bit forward. Ask her to smile.

Always use a tripod even when you are shooting in a studio. If you need to quickly take out a hair, you won't have to recompose having a tripod.

Tip the camera towards the higher shoulder of the model.

How to Use External Flash on Camera

Bert Stephani reveals secrets about how you can get better images with an external flash on top of your camera. We all know that professionals do not recommend this and there are obvious reasons for that. It is However if you a few methods, you still can use it on your camera and produce quality photographs.

If you set your camera in "P" mode, it will make the flash to light everything, including your subject and the background. You want a complete control of exposure and that is why you set the mode to "M". In Manual mode you can control how you want the background to be exposed. For instance, in face portraits, it is advisable to darken the background to avoid cluttering. Always make a few test shots and see on the camera screen how it looks.

Usually setting 2 or 3 steps below the neutral exposure will make your background dark. You may have to dial some flash compensation though.

The main goal is to correctly balance the flash light with ambitient light available. Do not be afraid to use longer shutter speeds: 1/15 or even longer if you can hold the camera steady. The flash will freeze your subject.

Longer lens are not so good in this case because they reduce the angle between the lens and the flash. Try short focus lens instead.

Take a lens hood off so that it does not block the light coming from your flash.

Thanks to Bert Stephani

Secrets of Using Tripod

A tripod is a stand for your camera and a mount is something that connects it to your camera. You need a tripod when your shutter speed is long and you want to avaoid hand shake. If you hold your camera in your hands, there is going to be a slight movement and in longer exposures it will be noticable by blur images.

Another advantage of using a tripod is when shooting in studio or doing group shots. In these cases you do not usually have to change your settings and it is useful to have your camera rest on a stand while you adjust the lighting or arrange the people in the group.

If your camera is heavy, heavy lengs for example, tripod is also very desireble.

Do not buy cheapy tripods. Their quality leaves much to be desired, they are mostly made of plastic, their mounts are fused to the tripod.

A tripod can cost you from $100 to $3000 and a decent one can be obtained these days for about $230, including the mount.

Pay attention to the material it is made of. It can be steel or carbon fiber which affects its weight and durability. Choose the size you will be comfortable with when travelling. Ball heads are usually quite expensive.

More videos

Introduction to Macro Photography

Macro photography means shooting blown up images of small subjects like flowers and insects.

There is a problem with Depth of Field reachinh its limit. The closer you get to the subject, the thinner the DOF, which means a small part of the subject will be in focus. Another problem is that an ordinary lens has a limit of how close it can get to the subject. Therefore you should buy a macro lens (that are usually more expensive) or get so called extention tubes. Extention tubes are a cost effective way to begin macro photography. They allow to move your lens further from the camera body.

When you set small aperture (down to f45 on some lenses) in order to obtain broader DOF, less light is coming to the camera. It means you need to use much longer shutter speeds (1 sec or even 3 sec). Here is what you should do to reach good macro results:

  • Use a tripod;

  • Set the smallest aperture;

  • Use macro lens or extention tubes;

  • Use a timer to avoid camera shake when you press the button.

Photo Analysis

This video tells you how to select what photograph is worth selecting for your portfolio or an exhibition from many similar ones you have taken.

You need to determine what is unique about it. Why you want to include it. The photo used as an example was cropped. It was done in order to leave out distracting elements like a tripod. After cropping it really started to stand out. The person on the photo is seen as a silhouette. His missing legs are balanced with legs in the left upper corner.

All the photos were taken from one position with 18-200 mm lens. It is very important to SEE what will look original and use cropping wherever necessary.

Five Wedding Tips

  • Go for details. The bride and the groom have prepared so many special things that it would be a pity if these small details are not documented on your photos. There is so much going on on the wedding day, try to stop and pay attention to some unique elements of decoration, etc.

  • Expect unexpected. The best images are those, when a couple does not know you are shooting them. You can catch a very tender look or sentimental touch and make your photos personal to the couple.

  • Neat backgrounds. Try avoiding boring backgrounds. Look for cool colors and patterns surfaces that will compliment the couple's dresses.

  • Daddy's little girl. The moments when dad takes the bride to the church are most emotional and memorable. So you always should pay close attention to this part of the ceremony.

  • A new life ahead. When it is over, it is time for new family life and you really should convey this transition.

How to Use a Mirror for Glamour Lighting

Rod Evans shows us how he achieves glamour look of the model with just a small mirror.

He has grid lights behind the model and two softboxes on both sides in his studio. In order for the light not to come into his camera he has to set a board cover. Now to emphasize the model's eyes he uses a small mirror with a tape. He left a narror area of the mirror only and he beams the light to the model's eyes, which gives a good effect.

White Balance Manipulation


In this video you will learn how you can achieve color effects of your photos if you use a set of home made white balance cards.

First of all you need to prepare cards of various colors. It is advisable to laminate them in order for them to last longer.

Once you have various colors cards in your photo bag, you can set a custom white balance setting on your camera. In order to do it you simply zoom into the card and press the button telling your camera to use this particular color as white. They you shoot an image.

You can see in the video examples of the same photo, that was made with dirrefent white balance settings.

It may stimulate your creativity and produce eye catching images.

How to Shoot Landscape


You obviously want the landscape to look as spectaclular on your photo as it does in real life. The first tip is to pay attention to the lighting conditions. Generally the best time of the day is just after the sunrise and one hour before the sunset. It is called a Golden hour because it gives you soft shadows and warm glow that cast of everything.

Choosing the right location is also very important. You do need to turn your flash off. As the shutter speed is quite long when you shoot landscape, it is really advisable to steady your camera, preferably on a tripod. It will help you avoid any camera movement.

Of course you can shoot in the middle of the day too. You may experiment of how you do it.

Use landscape shooting mode or high aperture setting on your camera. People or other subjects like posts can give you a feel of perspective.

The rule of pro photographers is to place your subject off center, that way you can create a really beautiful image. Natural elements (like trees) can be used to frame your photo.

What is the Depth of Field

Shelton Muller explains in this video what the depth of field is and how it can be used.

First of all we make an assumption that we expect our lens to be sharp.

There is a difference in what photographers want to achieve in landscape and portrait shooting. In landscape we want everything to be in focus and the whole image to be sharp. To get this result, you need to use the apeture of 22 or larger. Of course since the hole is tiny, the amount of light coming to the sensor or film is minimal and we have to set longer shuter speed (and therefore having to use a tripod). Landscape photographers usually prefer wide angle lens.

With portraits we try to highlight the subject, and especially the model's eyes. So we want a very narror length to be in focus and the rest blured. It enables us to remove the subject from noisy background which otherwise would distract. Smaller apetures (1.4, 1.8 or 2.8) and longer lens (85mm, 100mm or 200mm) are good for achieving this effect. Shelton shows sample photos of the same model in the same background, shot with different lenses and different apetures.

Getting a Natural Smile From a Model

Yuri Arcurs shows in this video the difference between a full and laughing smile of a model.

The most important is to get from your model a natural smile. Also you should try to have the model freeze between shots. It is what professional models do. A good model controls her emotions and pose and waits before the photographer instructs her to change something.

If you need a laughing smile, ask your model to tilt her head to one side and have her mouth half open.

She also should a bit over exaggerate by conveying a "ha" feeling.

If the shooting time is limited or the model is expensive it is a good idea to use a second shooter. Usually a second shooter can produce 15 to 20% extra images and shoot when you are idle.

Step-by-Step Product Shoot

Kerry Garrison walks you through the process of shooting a product in a studio. In this case it is a telephone set.

The backgound is lit by two light boxes, only some light from which goes to the product and the rest goes to the white background. If you make your backgorund as bright and clean as possible, it will save you time in post processing your image, as usually product pictures are usually done on white backgound for further useage in print.

Kerry measured the exposure of the backgound as well as the product and the difference between them was just one stop. The right exposure for this shoot is f8 and the shutter speed 1/15 sec. He also used a gray card for measuring the white balance but he did no WB adjustments inside the camera, istead he would use the gray card image when he does the post processing for easy white balance correction.

He uses 50mm prime lens as it produces the image with least distortion.

Once he found the right exposure and memorized the white balance, he switched to a live mode on his camera to achieve precise focussing on the subject. Using magnification allows you to fine tune your focus manually.

And finally, when doing the final shoot, he set a 2 sec timer to avoid any camera shake.

Good luck!

Source may be found here.

Travel Photography Tips

Tips by Nigel Atherton.

  • Travel photography may consist of portraiture, landscape, nature, architechture, etc.

  • If you get up early in the morning you will not only get best light but also less crowds.

  • Do not be overburden by your photo gear. Travel shooting often requires wide angle to telephoto. It is a good idea to invest in a 18-200 mm lens although the quality it produces may not be as good as two lenses 18-55 mm and 50-200 mm.

  • Do not shoot everything with your lens focus set to infinity. Go closer to pick up details.

  • Some images look better in portrait and some in landscape orientation. Turn your camera 90 degrees to see how it looks and if you are not sure, shoot both ways. You can of course crop your image later.

  • Do not shoot from your eye level all the time, look up or down!

  • Carrying a compact point&shoot camera may prove useful.

  • Experiment with your camera's settings: use slower shutter speed to create blur or wide aperture to achive required depth of field.

  • Flash can also be handy in sunny bright days if used as fill flash. At night you can also use the flash but it is advizable to set it to a slow-sync mode, that way you will capture ambient light as well.

  • Do not forget people, short telephoto lens is recommended for portraits.

  • Even if you had a busy day, try to stay till the sunset as it is the most beatiful time of the day.

Shooting in the Woods

Bert Stephani tells in this video how he did his photo set in the woods.

The model was lit by hard sun light. He wanted to compensate it with speedlights. In the shade he had to set his speed light to the full output. When the model was standing in the direct sun light he had to back lit her.

He used flash through an umbrella to equalize the fore and backgrounds.

The direct sun light from above helped him separate the subject from the background.

His photos illustrate well the approaches he used in his session.

Camera-Ready Makeup for Model Photography

Any model, including male, needs to have some makeup when photographing.

The major rule is no shine on the skin. You need to have a matt finish and in order to get it, you have to apply foundation in downwards motion to go with the skin and not against the hair of the skin.

Then female and male models need to use blush.

For female models a classic eye looks great on photos. A neutral tone of different color may be applied.

The only part of the face that requires shine is lips. You can leave your natural color but add a bit of shine.

Also teeth should be as white as possible, so one really must take proper care of his/her teeth on a regular basis.

Hold Your Camera Without Shaking

Neil Creek shows his method of holding a camera to minimize its shaking. It gets especially important when your shutter speed is slow.

You just need to twist your camera a little bit and it will be much steadier. Try to turn one hand one side and the other hand the other side a little bit.

It works well with point and shooet cameras but can be useful with DSLRs too.

How to Take Great Shots and not Snapshots

Rick Sammon explains and gives examples on how you can turn ordinary snapshots into really great shots that you will be proud of.

The first advice is to hike. It means that when you see some subject that you want to take a photo of, you should walk around it looking for an non-standard angle. That way you photograph will not be boring, like 10,000 others already taken of the same subject.

You can also play with the level which you are holding your camera at. Try to move it a bit down or a bit up and you will notice that by doing this simple trick you can avoid so called dead space in your shot.

It is always advizable to think of what you want to achieve and try different approaches. Be as much creative as you can and it will pay you with decent photos.

In one of his examples Rick shows how he managed to turn a dull snapshot into a rather artistic photography. Instead of shooting the subject on the beach straight forward, he just walked on the other side of it to shoot into the sun. He got a dramatic silhouette.

Where to Photograph Children

In this short video you will learn how to find a good place for taking pictures of a child.

Even if you go just outside of your house, you may find lots of opportunities to choose an excellent location for children photography.

First of all a neutral background will help you focus a view's eye on the subject, i.e. the child. In this case we have a non-distracting wall.

You really need to think about bringing something for the child to play with and better if the toys are either his/her favorite or new ones to surprise him or her. What you are looking for is genunine emotions. Try to get a smile on the child's face.

The light can be natural, if it is not too harsh like it happens under direct sun in the middle of the day.

It is a good idea to use a white sheet (placing it simply on the ground) as a reflector to add some light to the subject from below.

You should always be communicating with the child, maintaining his/her attention. Try to fill the frame with your subject and you will be proud of your photos.

Hollywood Photo Lighting Scheme

This tutorial comes in black and white. It was done on purpose, because in black and white one can see more clearly the effect of using a particular lighting scheme.

This lighting reminds those old Hollywood movies from 40s and 50s of the last century.

No softboxes or flashes are used in this scheme - just plain lights.

First of all we have two lights above the model to light her hair. Then there is a key light beaming from a side slightly above and a fill light at a bit below her face level. We also light the background.

The fill light should not be placed high as in that case there will be no spacle in her eyes.

You can see in this video that by switching various lights on and off what effect it makes on the model. For instance one can do without the fill light but in that case the shadows on the model's face will be harsh. To soften these shadows we have to use a fill light. However, if you need a more dramatic effect (a mean look of her face), then you can turn the fill light off.

Strip Lighting Lesson

In this video tutorial photographer Scott Smith explains and shows how he uses strip soft box for shooting in black&wite and color.

The strip soft box beams quite narrow light at the model and therefore you have to always watch carefully if her/his head is lighted.

Scott uses black background in order to emphasize the light coming from the strip box, as black eats all the light that reaches the background and does not reflect it.

His camera settings are 1/250, f8 and ISO 100.

The strip soft box he is using has the lamp reflected from the box, unlike most other models which have the lamp pointing to the subject. It gives even softer effect.

The light from a narrow soft box looks very dramatic and you can achieve great results with your model using this equipment.

Cheap Lighting Solution

Erin Manning, a professional photographer, shows in this short video lesson how she uses lighting gear when shooting in sunshine weather. One way to light your subject is to reflect the sun light with a professional reflector that can be quite expensive. Its one side is silver and the other one is gold.

If you are on a budget and cannot shell out for buying professional photo accessories, Erin Manning suggests that you visit your local store and get one of car reflectors that you normally use to protect your car from sunshine. They also are double sided (gold and silver) and they serve just as well as professional reflectors but cost a lot less. By the way, they usually come folded and it makes another advantage of
using them in the field.

How to use an external flash and avoid mistakes

It is a guide for beginers who want to learn how to use flash units and get better results. It explains synchronisation issue and what can happen if the synchro speed is too fast.

It also warns you from bouncing your flash from a color ceiling or wall (that is of course if you shoot in jpeg and cannot correct the white balance in post processing).

How to hold your camera tip from a pro

Famous photographer Joe McNally (he writes a very interesting blog, by the way) demonstrates in this 7 minute video how he holds his camera in oder to capute sharper images at slower shutter speeds.

He explains and shows the approach that works for him and the mistakes you can avoid.

Joe McNally is an internationally acclaimed American photographer and long-time photojournalist.