History of Photography

"Photography" is composed from the Greek words photos ("light") and graphein ("to draw"). Scientist Sir John F.W. Herschel was the first one who used this term and it was in 1839. Photography means a method of recording images by the action of light on a sensitive material.

Pinhole Camera (aka the Camera Obscura)
Photography history begins from Pinhole cameras. There are different opinions on who was the first inventor of pinhole. The first mention of the principles behind the pinhole camera, a precursor to the camera obscura, belongs to Mo-Ti (470 BCE to 390 BCE), a Chinese philosopher. Alhazen (Ibn Al-Haytham), a great authority on optics in the Middle Ages who lived around 1000AD, has natered the pinhole camera further. He was able to explain why the images were upside down. Around 1600, Della Porta reinvented the pinhole camera. Apparently he was the first European to publish any information on the pinhole camera and is sometimes incorrectly credited with its invention. Johannes Kepler was the first person to coin the phrase Camera Obscura in 1604, and in 1609, Kepler further suggested the use of a lens to improve the image projected by a Camera Obscura.

The First Photograph
On a summer day in 1827, Joseph Nicephore Niepce made the first photographic image with a camera obscura. Joseph Nicephore Niepce's heliographs or sun prints as they were called were the prototype for the modern photograph, by letting light draw the picture.

Niepce placed an engraving onto a metal plate coated in bitumen, and then exposed it to light. The shadowy areas of the engraving blocked light, but the whiter areas permitted light to react with the chemicals on the plate. When Niepce placed the metal plate in a solvent, gradually an image, until then invisible, appeared. However, Niepce's photograph required eight hours of light exposure to create and after appearing would soon fade away.

In 10 years Louis Daguerre was able to reduce the exposure time to 30 minutes. It was the first practical use of photography and he named this method: the daguerreotype. Daguerre's process 'fixed' the images onto a sheet of silver-plated copper. By 1850 the daguerreotype became popular in Europe and US.

Negative to Postive Process
Fox Talbot is known in History of Photography as an inventor of the three primary elements of photography: developing, fixing, and printing. Although simply exposing photographic paper to the light produced an image, it required extremely long exposure times. By accident, he discovered that there was an image after a very short exposure. Although he could not see it, he found he could chemically develop it into a useful negative. The image on this negative was then fixed with a chemical solution. This removed the light-sensitive silver and enabled the picture to be viewed in bright light. With the negative image, Fox Talbot realised he could repeat the process of printing from the negative.

Wet Plate Negatives
In 1851, Frederick Scoff Archer, an English sculptor, invented the wet plate negative. Using a viscous solution of collodion, he coated glass with light-sensitive silver salts. Because it was glass and not paper, this wet plate created a more stable and detailed negative. It was not convinient to use this method in the field.

Dry Plate Negatives & Hand-held Cameras
In 1879, the dry plate was invented, a glass negative plate with a dried gelatin emulsion. Dry plates could be stored for a period of time. Photographers no longer needed portable darkrooms and could now hire technicians to develop their photographs. Dry processes absorbed light quickly so rapidly that the hand-held camera was now possible.

Flexible Roll Film
In 1884 Eastman patented the first film in roll form to prove practicable; in 1888 he perfected the Kodak camera, the first camera designed specifically for roll film.  In 1892 he established the Eastman Kodak Company, at Rochester, New York, one of the first firms to mass-produce standardized photography equipment.

Color Photographs
In the early 1940s, commercially viable color films were introduced to the market. These films used the modern technology of dye-coupled colors in which a chemical process connects the three dye layers together to create an apparent color image. At first color prints were not stable because organic dyes were used to make the color image. The image would literally disappear from the film or paper base as the dyes deteriorate. Kodachrome, dating to the first third of the 20th century, was the first color film to produce prints that could last half a century.

Film Speed (ISO)
An arbitrary number placed on film that tells how much light is needed to expose the film to the correct density. Generally, the lower the ISO number, the finer grained and slower a film. ISO means International Standards Organization. The slower the film, the more light is needed to expose it.

How cameras developed

By definition a camera is a lightproof object, with a lens, that captures incoming light and directs the light and resulting image towards film (optical camera) or the imaging device (digital camera). All camera technology is based on the law of optics first discovered by Aristotle.

After years of pinhole cameras use, George Eastman invented the Kodak camera. For $22.00, an amateur could purchase a camera with enough film for 100 shots. After use, it was sent back to the company, which then processed the film. The ad slogan read, "You press the button, we do the rest." A year later, the delicate paper film was changed to a plastic base, so that photographers could do their own processing.

Andrew Heafitz applied for and received his first U.S. patent for the camera shutter.

As early as 1905, Oskar Barnack had the idea of reducing the format of film negatives and then enlarging the photographs after they had been exposed. As development manager at Leica, he was able to put his theory into practice. He took an instrument for taking exposure samples for cinema film and turned it into the world's first 35 mm camera: the 'Ur-Leica'.

Polaroid or Instant Photos
Photography history won't be complete without Polaroid photography. It was invented by Edwin Herbert Land. Land was the American inventor and physicist whose one-step process for developing and printing photos created instant photography. The first Polaroid camera was sold to the public in November, 1948.

Disposable Camera
Fuji introduced the disposable camera in 1986. We call them disposables but the people who make these cameras want you to know that they're committed to recycling the parts, a message they've attempted to convey by calling their products "single-use cameras."

Digital Camera
In 1984, Canon demonstrated first digital electronic still camera.

The first modern photoflash bulb or flashbulb was invented by Austrian, Paul Vierkotter. Vierkotter used magnesium-coated wire in an evacuated glass globe. Magnesium-coated wire was soon replaced by aluminum foil in oxygen. On September 23, 1930, the first commercially available photoflash bulb was patented by German, Johannes Ostermeier. These flashbulbs were named the Vacublitz. General Electric made a flashbulb called the Sashalite.

Very detailed history of photography up to 1920 can be found here: www.rleggat.com/photohistory

How to Find a Model for Photoshoot

If you are a beginner in photography and your interest is portraiture, you need to have a model to photograph. Of course you can use your family members or friends but sometimes it is not possible and you need to find a stranger model.

This video shows how two guys were out on a shoot and how they invited girls to model.

  • Models' websites and Facebook groups can be a source for local models. Try to use a local website if possible.

  • Make a portfolio to show a model, at least a few pictures that tell what kind of photography you do.

  • Aim at those models who need to build up their own portfolio.

  • Seek TFP or TFCD models. It means that neither a photographer, nor a model is paid any money. The model receives prints or a CD with digital images in return for their time.

  • Obtain a model release which will allow you to use the photos you took. Download model release (PDF).

  • Ask a model to send you some of her photos to see what her strengths and weaknesses are beforehand.

  • Be polite and business like with a model. Try to establish a good rapport with them and make the whole process easy and enjoyable. Do not touch a model!

  • Inform the model of the location, costumes, make-up that  you have planned.

  • You need to agree beforehand on who pays a studio rent and a make-up artist costs, if any. Or whether you share these costs.

  • Once you have done the shooting, act in a professional way to deliver your model what you have promised (prints or a CD).

What are Strobes, Flashes and Speedlights

First of all about terminology, flashes, strobes and speedlights are just different names for the same thing.

A flash consists of three parts:

  • the head with the actual flash tube. It may be rotating horizontally and vertically;

  • body with electronics, sensors and batteries;

  • foot with electrical contact points that you attach to the camera.

Your camera has a flash shoe and its trigger contacts match those on the flash foot so that the camera and the flash can speak to each other. When you press the shutter button, a command is sent from your camera to the flash to trigger it.

There are three ways how your camera can be connected to an off-camera flash:

  • via an electrical cord with PC connectors;

  • via optical connection;

  • via radio connection.

If your off-camera flash has no PC terminal to attach a cord to, you need to use a PC to hot shoe adapter. The same goes for your camera, if it has no PC port, get one of hot shoe to PC adapters and you will be able to use a cord to connect the camera body and your flash. The cord's length may be 2-4 m.

For optical connection, you can use infra red or light triggers that are attached to the flash using the PC terminal, in case your flash is not equipped with an optical trigger system. It is better that using a cord but still has some limitations like your camera and flash must be positioned in the direct visual sight. If there are other photographers using strobes, your off-camera flash may be triggered by their cameras.

A radio trigger system is the most expensive but most convinient one as it allows much greater distance and is protected from being influenced by other cameras. You attach a radio transmitter to your camera and a receiver to your flash.

Off camera flashes need a light stand which is high enough depending on your shooting situation. You also need an umbrella adapter to attach the flash to the light stand. It allows to set various anges of your flash direction.

There are many creative options for reflecting, diffusing, blocking and filtering your flash light. There are shoot-through umbrellas that are postioned between the subject and the flash. It produces a nice looking glow. Another option is using a reflective umbrella that sends the light back to the subject. The flash is directed in the opposite way, from your subject.

It is important to correctly install the umbrella adapter and the flash so that the light is directed into the center of the umbrella and when you change the position, both the flash and umbrella are moved in the same direction, without changing the angle between them.

There snoots and grids that you can use to produce a narrow light beam.

You can place a plastic color filter in front of your flash to change the color of the light for correcting a white balance or creating special effects.

Flags are used to block some portion of the light which may cause lens flare or when you need not light some part of your subject.

Five Ways to Protect Your DSLR Camera

As you already know photo gear costs hundreds and sometimes thousands dollars, especially high-end lens. If you decided to shell out and make such an expensive purchase, it is a good idea to protect your investment for at least these two reasons:

  1. Your photo equipment will last you longer

  2. Less value will be lost when you need to sell it in the future

I will give you an overview of what you can do to protect your camera, lens, strobes, etc. The video above demostrates a free DIY solution to protect your camera from rain and snow using simple plastic bags.

First of all let us review camera bags.
There are many manufacturers and hundreds of models starting from very small to weel based cases. Think Tank Photo Bags [www.thinktankphoto.com] may be worth your consideration for their ultimate quality and durability. It is not uncommon for a photographer to change bags as he or she expands the variety of photo gear. The bag you are buying today may not be enough for your needs in a couple of years.

Lens protection
For lens more expensive than $100 it is highly advisable to use a protective UV filter. It is so easy to scratch your lens' front glass and if it cost you $1,500 it may be a disaster. A cheap UV filter from Canon or Nikon (or any other producer) will save you from damaging your lens glass. In the worst case you will just replace a $20 filter. Since it is transparent to visible light and filters out higher ultraviolet wavelengths, the UV filter is useful in a sunny weather condition. There is a dispute of whether or not to use it [see http://photo.net/equipment/filters/] but by all means it will act as protection to your expensive lens. And do not forget that lens loose much less value over time compare to camera bodies, so when you sell your lens its condition will highly affect its price. Check Hoya and B+W for UV filters.

Next comes camera screen protection
These small LCD screens are easy to scratch. Therefore a film or plastic cover can save you from damaging it. They are priced from $2 to $10. Check various options here: www.thefind.com/electronics/info-camera-screen-protector-protective-lcd

Memory cards cases
Cards are very sensitive and if are not careful enough with them, contacts may get dirty which will result in a faulty card. Using a simple case or even a small plastic bag will solve the problem. Check here for ideas: www.bhphotovideo.com/c/buy/Memory-Card-Carry-Cases-Accessories/ci/3688/N/4289945363

Finally camera armor or skin
If you plan using your camera in wet or rainy or dusty condition, try the DIY solution in the video above or buy a special armor case or so called camera skin that seals your camera. This does not mean you will be able to drop your DSLR into water but it will give some extra protection from short exposure to negative environment conditions. Check these options: www.bhphotovideo.com/c/buy/Digital-Camera-Skins/ci/12670/N/4294538488

Secrets of White Balance

What is White Balance?

Basically it is the light colour temperature. A low colour temperature shifts light toward the red; a high colour temperature shifts light toward the blue. Different light sources emit light at different colour temperatures, and thus the colour cast. With digital cameras, we can simply tell the image sensor to appy a colour shift.

This is where the concept of "White Balance" comes in. If we can tell the camera which object in the room is white and supposed to come out white in the picture, the camera can calculate the difference between the current colour temperature of that object and the correct colour temperature of a white object. And then shift all colours by that difference.

Although there are built-in white balance presets, you can manually set the white balance. It is very simple, point the camera at a white or gray card (angled so that it is reflecting light from the room) as a neutral reference, filling the screen completely with it, then pressing the White Balance button (or set it in the menu), the camera does its WB calculation. Now any picture taken will have its colour temperature shifted appropriately. When the lighting situation changes, you should adjust the custom white balance accordingly.

There is a number of add-on products available on the market that help you set the White Balance manually. They are based on two methods:

  • Reflective-Style White Balance method (meaning that you measure the white balance with a gray card or other remote object that light leflects from)

  • Incident TTL-Style White Balance method (meaning that you put a special cap on your lens and capture the white balance through the cap)
This article gives a list of products to choose from: www.outdoorphotographer.com/columns/solutions/white-balance.html

  • When using a gray card, ensure the card is not in shadows, but illuminated by the artificial light in the room. If you are bouncing light off the walls, ensure the card is reflecting the bounced light.

  • In mixing artificial lights situations, it is advisable to use RAW and adjust in post processing for each light.

  • Beware of fluorescent light: since fluorescent light does not contain all the spectrum of light, you may obtain unexpected results.

  • Pictures of snow scenes typically reproduce the snow not as white but with a bluish tinge. Sometimes, the blue adds to the mood of the picture, but at other times you may want to remove the blue.

  • If you are taking landscapes, and it's early in the morning or late in the evening, or you are not too sure of which WB setting to use, try it in RAW.

Preset White Balance

If setting your custom white balance is too much of a pain to you, cameras provide preset WB settings such as, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Cloudy, Sunny, etc. Such WB presets can improve on a picture, especially under indoors lighting.

Besides custom WB and WB presets, digital cameras are equipped with an Auto White Balance (AWB) function. Usually AWB works very well in sunny and cloudy outdoors, and fine for most indoors situations (a little orange or bluish cast does sometimes contribute to the mood of the picture anyway, e.g. the warm orangle glow of a candle). In most cases Auto WB does a pretty good job in diverse situations, outdoors and indoors.

RAW File Format

When you save an image in RAW file format, you are saving it the way the image sensor sees it -- without applying any adjustments (including white balance) to it. In fact, the camera ignores any WB setting you dial in. If you opt for shooting in RAW format rather than JPEG and you have an image editing software with the appropriate RAW plug-in, you can convert the RAW image to JPEG, and apply any colour temperature shift. This editing can be done again and again until you are happy with the color temperature in your photo.

Creativity in Setting Aperture and Shutter Speed

Bryan Peterson explains how to achieve creatively correct exposure with your dSLR. He shows an example of shooting a man who jumps up. When he chooses the correct exposure with f22 to f3.5 the subject comes out blurry because the shutter speed for the correct exposure is way too slow to capture a fast moving object. He is trying to convey that the pair of F stop and shutter speed will always give the "correct" exposure for the current lighting situation. However, when we are shooting the jumping man for instance, we do need the shutter speed to be around 1/500 to get the man sharp in his action. This is what he calls creativity in selecting your parameters for the right exposure.

When you plan taking a photo, ask yourself what you want to achieve. If it is a waterfall, you may way the water to be blurry. Then you need to increase the shutter speed, as oppose to the example with the jumping man where you prefer him to be sharp.

The other side of the exposure selection is choosing what depth of field you need for the shot. If it is a landscape, the F stop should be 16-22 because you want everything to be sharp from a few meters distance to far away. When making a portrait, it is another story, usually a model is highlighted by making the background blurry. That way all attention of the viewer is focused on the model. In this case your F stop should be 4 or less, depending on the lens you are using. It may go down to 1.4 or 1.2.

Don't forget about the ISO setting that may help reduce the shutter speed if necessary. It increases the sensitivity of your camera and it can shoot with faster shutter speed at the same aperture. It is often vital for taking a photo in low light environment, handheld because there is a limit to the shutter speed which you can use without a tripod not having blurred images.

Tutorial for Action or Sports Photography

In order to avoid blury photos when shooting sport or fast moving action, pay attention to the shutter speed you are using. It is the length of time the shutter remains open. If it is slow, your subject will be blury. You need to have a plan. Being familiar with the sport will help you choose the best place. You need to know in advance what and how you are going to shoot. When choosing your location, keep the sun behind you. To get closer to the action a telephoto zoom lens is very helpful.

Set your camera to a Sport mode or dial the right shutter speed manually in the shutter priority mode. 1/500 of a second should work for most sports. In low light situations use higher ISO (the sensitivity of your camera) but be aware of grainy images that may result from high ISO settings. Also it is a good idea to use a continuos shooting mode to capture a series of frames at a high speed.

Another useful technique for photographing fast moving objects like racing cars is panning. You move your camera steadily as the subject moves. Jasin Boland gives advice to prefocus your camera on the ground, in place where you expect the subject will get to. Set the manual focus for that. Stay loose but hold the camera as stable as you can trying to avoid any vibration.

Another tip is to shoot in horizontal orientation of your camera.

How to Shoot Portraiture with One Light

Studio photography can get quite complicated. Using just one light source for your portraits will make it simplier. You can place a large soft box close to the wall so that some light is reflected from the wall to the model. The aperture setting is set to f9 or f11 because the photographer is using a 200 mm lens. This aperture will allow the model to be in focus.

With one light what you see is what you get. If you place the soft box at 45 degrees and install a reflector on the other side of the model, there will be no harsh shadows on her face. Another way is to use a diffuser which softens the light coming to the model and leaving the intensity of light on the background. Also add a big reflector and you will have three lights portrait with just one light source.

Everything You Wanted to Know about Lenses

First of all there is no such thing as a perfect lens. If it were, it would have been too heavy to carry around and too expensive. So you must understand what your needs are and choose your lenses accordingly.

The main characteristic of any lens is its focal length, which ranges from really wide angle to telephoto. Also lenses can be zoom or prime ones. A zoom allows to change the focal length from wide to narrow angle. Prime lenses are usually less expensive and have a fixed focal length which means that if you want your subject be bigger in the frame you have to physically move closer to the subject.

Another point for consideration is image stabilization feature. If you do not plan carrying a tripod, a lens with built-in image stabilization (IS) can serve you a good job by reducing micro shaking of your hands. However please note that this technology fights with your own movements. If you are shooting a fast moving object, it will not help to get a sharp image.

For fast moving objects you need a faster shutter speed to freeze your subject. For this and for low light situations you need to use a lens that opens wide and allows more light to hit your camera sensor. It is called aperture and it can be 2.8 or even less. If you compare Canon 70-200 f4 to 70-200 f2.8 you will see that the latter is significantly bigger, heavier and more expensive. Prime lenses' aperture can be as low as 1.4 or 1.2.

Another important point is to pay attention to the material the lens is made of. Some cheap lenses have the plastic mount ring that is attached to the camera and it will not last long if you keep changing lenses. More expensive lenses feel much more solid and partly are made of metal.

Speaking of quality, some lenses come as weather sealed which will enable you to use it under rain for example.

Check the speed of lens focusing as some lenses may focus faster than the others. Every maker has an ultra sound range of lenses which means their motor rotates much faster and thus faster focusing.

For portrait photography bokeh is important. Bokeh is the shape of the blured light in out-of-focus areas of an image. It is affected by the number of lens' aperture blades and their shape.

Lens Focal Length*TerminologyTypical Photography
Less than 21 mmExtreme Wide AngleArchitecture
21-35 mmWide AngleLandscape
35-70 mmNormalStreet & Documentary
70-135 mmMedium TelephotoPortraiture
135-300+ mmTelephotoSports, Bird & Wildlife

*Note: Lens focal lengths are for 35 mm equivalent cameras.

3 Tricks to Correct White Balance

White balance (WB) is the process of removing unrealistic color casts, so that objects which appear white in person are rendered white in your photo. Proper camera white balance has to take into account the "color temperature" of a light source, which refers to the relative warmth or coolness of white light.  Our eyes are very good at judging what is white under different light sources, however digital cameras often have great difficulty with auto white balance (AWB).

An incorrect WB can create unsightly blue, orange, or even green color casts, which are unrealistic and particularly damaging to portraits.  Performing WB in traditional film photography requires attaching a different cast-removing filter for each lighting condition, whereas with digital this is no longer required.  Understanding digital white balance can help you avoid color casts created by your camera's AWB, thereby improving your photos under a wider range of lighting conditions.

Color TemperatureLight Source
1000-2000 KCandlelight
2500-3500 KTungsten Bulb (household variety)
3000-4000 KSunrise/Sunset (clear sky)
4000-5000 KFluorescent Lamps
5000-5500 KElectronic Flash
5000-6500 KDaylight with Clear Sky (sun overhead)
6500-8000 KModerately Overcast Sky
9000-10000 KShade or Heavily Overcast Sky

Photo by dear Edward

  • Most digital cameras contain a variety of preset white balances, so you do not have to deal with color temperature and green-magenta shift during the critical shot.

  • If you shoot in RAW you can always change the white balance in post processing of your image in Adobe Camera Raw for istance.

  • There is an option to use a so called gray card. You place a piece of photocopy paper for example where your subject will be located. It is important because you need the card to receive the same quality of light as will your subject. Then you shoot the card, focussing is of no importance here, and then go to your camera menu and instruct it to sample the color temperature from this image. So your custom whitebalance is set and all your next shots will have right color temperature.

How to Improve your Portraits

  1. Use at least a 6 megapixel camera

  2. Always shoot in FINE mode and save images in Jpeg or RAW if you have a DSLR

  3. Ask your subject to wear solid colors. Pattens can be distractive

  4. Shoot against a white background

  5. Lighting is very important, shoot in the room with lots of natural light coming from large windows (use them as softboxes)

  6. Edit later, spend all your time shooting and trying to get the best result with as little post processing as you can

  7. Do not move

  8. Experiment with different poses and emotions, be creative

  9. Shoot as much as possible. The more images you produce, the better chances are for good pictures.

  10. For better quality of lighting use a bounce card.

Rule of Thirds for Photographers

Rule of thirds is very important for creating your composition.

The rule of thirds is a compositional rule of thumb in photography. The rule states that an image should be imagined as divided into nine equal parts by two equally-spaced horizontal lines and two equally-spaced vertical lines, and that important compositional elements should be placed along these lines or their intersections.

Simply try not to put your subject right in the center of your image because it will have less tension, energy and interest in the composition than when it is placed off-center.

Every rule can be broken but only if you do realise that you need to break it for some reason.

Some cameras already have a grid in the viewfinder that make it easier to compose an image.

If you set the focus point to the center, focus on your subject when it is right in the middle of the frame, and then recompose your frame to move the subject off center.

Off Camera Flash Lighting Outdoors

This demo shows how to use two off camera flashes when shooting a wedding in a park. The first rule is that shadows should be facing the camera because it creates a more dramatic effect. These are set up photos, not candid by all means. Flashes are set to Manual mode and full power. The photographer is able to get drama to the sky even in such a sunny day, thanks to the use of flashes. The camera is also in Manual mode: f11, 1/60 and 50 ISO.

Off Camera Flash Tips

This video explains how to use an off camera wireless flash. You will see a difference that taking your flash off the camera makes. When it is attached to the hot shoe of your camera, images you get look quite flat.

It is better to take the flash unit off the camera and position it on a side and slightly above your subject.

In the past we needed a cord to connect the camera and the flash. Today modern cameras (and we use Nikob D300) allow triggering an off camera flash from a built in flash. You need to configure the pop up flash to work in a commander mode (go to your camera menu). Then set up your external flash as well so that it is a slave. Note the Channel number and Group name, they must be identical on the camera and on the flash. You will be able to use your off camera flash in TTL mode.

DIY Family Photos Tips

Family photos are great for memories.

  • To make a good family photo try creating a relaxed atmosphere that allows all those wonderful personalities to shine. Aim at your portraits to look natural.

  • Position your family members artistically, not like furniture. DO not use lines, place the people at different height levels instead. If you have a large group of people, try splitting them into smaller groups to fill your composition trying it to look natural.

  • Showing the relationships between the people on your photo is very important.

  • Catch candid moments.

  • Fill the frame, concentrate on your subject and eliminate elements that are not important in your composition. Zooming in often helps getting rid of busy background.

  • Shoot subjects at the eye level.

  • Try experimenting with crazy angles.

  • Beware of red eyes.

  • Choose the right clothes, the clothe that work well together. Focus on your family and do not let their clothes to distract viewer's attention. Clothes should be matching and create and impression that the family is connected.

How Chase Jarvis Packs His Photo Gear

Award winning commercial photographer Chase Jarvis shows us how he packs his photo gear for shoots on locations.

He shoots with a Nikon D2X camera and 15-55 mm 2.8 lens. He has another Nikon D2X camera as a backup. He takes at least 2 bodies. Another important lens is 70-200mm 2.8. Plus he uses 12-24mm, 85mm tilt/shift, 50mm 1.8, 12mm fisheye. He  always keeps two flashes, 5-6 extra batteries. All this goes to his DSLR bag.

He also takes some lighting equipment in hard cases.

Chase gives tips on various travel arrangements, what you should plan and what you should be prepared for if your plans ruin. He speaks on travelling by airplanes with full load of his photo gear. It is definitely worth watching.

Baby/Infant Photography Tips

Carrie Sandoval shares tips on how to shoot babies. She uses a prime 50 mm lens.

  • The baby can be undressed or dressed in something very simple of a solid color.

  • Have an uncluttered background - it is very important. You may simply hang a sheet to hide the clutter.

  • Try to get eye contact with the infant.

  • Laugh and the baby will laugh with you too.

  • When the baby looses interest, bring in some toys or even cover your camera in a soft toy.

  • If they start crawling, you may use baskets.

  • Lighting from the above.

  • Stay down at the baby's level.

  • Use macro lens for shooting closer.

  • Black and white or sepia looks always classic.

  • Hide the toy behind the camera.

How to Shoot Birthday Parties

Learn how to take great birthday photos. A birthday happens once a year and you do not want to miss this occasion by producing bad photographs.

You need to be always prepared for the shoot. Get extra batteries and memory cards.

  • Work with the existing light as much as you can. To get some more light into your picture, use the popup flash for fill light.

  • Increase the ISO settings.

  • Try telling a story about your party by capturing important moments like guest arrival, birthday cake candles, kids' playing.

  • Be creative: use different aperture settings on your camera, shoot through a balloon, try different angles.

  • Consider getting a portrait lens.

Tips for Different Low Light Situations

Basically low light photography can be split into four branches:

  • Hand help;

  • Sky;

  • Street and cars;

  • Indoor and interior.

For each of these situations you need to special eqipment and settings.

Hand held photography requires the manual mode in your camera and high ISO. Unless you plan to sell your image or print it in larger format, higher ISO settings like 3200 should not become a problem. You can always reduce the noise produced by higher ISO in post processing of your photos, Lightroom or Photoshop. See Photoshop tutorials on how to reduce noise. It is also important to have a good lens. Your kit lens will not work well in this situation. Choose if you can something with fixed aperture of 2.8 or 1.8.

Sky and stars photography requires a heavy tripod that is not afraid of wind. There is no need to jump up the ISO. As for the lens, you need it to be as sharp as possible. The aperture does not have to be 2.8, actually if you do have a lens of 2.8 aperture, set it to 8 because it will be sharper.

Street and cars photography requires a tripod and a good lens with vibration reduction since passing cars will generate a lot of vibration. Then you will be able to achieve cars' lights' trails using longer shutter speed.

For interior indoor photography you need a good lens as well (preferably 2.8 or 1.8) and higher ISO.

What is a Focal Length

The light comes from the front element of your lens to the back element and then to the sensor. The distance between the digital sensor and the back element is called the a Focal Length. It is usually measured in mm. If this distance is small, you have a very wide field of view.

  • 14 mm - 28 mm : wide angle

  • 50 mm : standard

  • 100+ mm : telephoto (compressed or magnified field of view)

These numbers refer to crop factor 1 (35 mm film size sensor).

See this online calculator to determine the required lens focal length to take a picture in order to generate an image of a certain size on the film (or the CCD/C-MOS image).

Camille Seaman Tells About Natural Lighting

Camille Seaman tries to make people connected with the planet. It is not enough to have the viewer see what he or she has not seen before. It is important to make him or her feel an emotional connection. She never photographs when it is a bright blue sky. She is looking for a particular quality of light. Camille likes storming skies. Once she sees the natural light she feels appropriate, she is looking into the scene. Her advice is to see classical paintings that were made with natural light. When you are at home making a portrait of someone, turn off all the lights and see what light is coming from the window. She considers her cameras and equipment as just tools. Although she shoots film, she is shifting to digital more and more.

How to Wet Clean DSLR Sensor

You do not clean the sensor, you clean the filter that is attached to the sensor. But to keep it simple everybody refers it as a sensor.

Some people clean their camera sensor every day while others do it annually. It really depends on the environment you are using your camera in, how often you change your lens, etc. If you do not see dust spots on your images, do not clean it. However, if you have an important shooting ahead, make sure you do a sensor inspection beforehand and if necessary - clean it.

When actually doing the cleaning, do it in a clean, dust free room. You also do not want to be disturbed during the process and it will take 15-30 minutes. Usually a bathroom is the cleanest room in house. Choose your working space far from fans or air conditioning, better turn them off.

You can use a rocket blower, Eclipse liquid, sensor swabs and sensor inspection device.

You first use the blower. Swabs are the ones that actually touch the sensor. They come in 3 different sizes, depending on the size of your sensor. You will apply Eclipse solution on the swab.

First step is to put your camera into a cleaning mode, the menu depends on the make. The blower can remove big dust pieces well but for moisture dust cannot be removed with the blower.

Open the swab's package and apply three drops of Eclipse solution. See the video for instructions on how to use the swab. You must not reuse the swab.

Undestanding Camera Exposure

Like an eye the camera uses a lens to focus on an image recording area. Aperture is adjusted to control the quantity of light coming through. Underexposed or overexposed image will be mostly black or white. Our aim is to capture between these black and white extremes.

A shutter speed is the other way to control how long each exposure takes. Doubling the shutter speed is one unit in the measurement called F-stop.

Aperture and shutter speed must be combined correctly to capture just the right amount of light and record the full range tones. Too much light causes overexposure and too little - underexposure. Even if it happens to a small degree image details are lost and cannot be recovered.

You can also adjust the ISO setting. The slower the ISO the more details and richer tones it produces. Slow ISO speed gives less noise and grain.

How to Take Better Photos of Pets

The best pet photos are those that capture unique pet personality. However taking photos of pets is quite challenging because they are constantly moving, changing. They will not pose for you so you have to follow them and catch them in action.

  • Shoot a lot of photos so that you can delete bad ones and still have a good chance to get a good shot.

  • Try to show your pet's personality.

  • Use Action (or Sport) shooting mode in your camera which gives shorter shutter speed.

  • Anticipate where your subject is heading so you will be ready to shoot when he gets there.

  • Press your shutter release button half way to freeze the focus.

  • Get in close or let them get close to you.

  • Get down to the pet's level.

  • You may need to use some signal to attract their attention.

  • Try photographing the fur, tail or other beautiful parts of your pet. Go for details and make a really unique image.

  • Get a pet helper.

  • Get rid of glowing pet's eyes.

What is RAW and how is it different from JPEG?

You need to decide on your own if working in RAW is right for you. There is a number of advantages of working in RAW.

First of all RAW is not simply and equivalent of a digital negative as some used to say. In short, your camera does whole bunch of things just moments after you pressed the shutter release button. It automatically applies various filters to the image like: saturation, contrast, sharpening. It changes the white balance either trying to figure out what suits best (Auto white balance) or uses the one you specified. Then the camera compresses your image to a small file called Jpeg. The RAW file will be about 12 Mb if your camera's sensor  is 12 Megapixel but a Jpeg will be much smaller size, around 3-4 Mb.

If you want to keep all these changes but do not apply them and have more control later for editing on your computer, then consider RAW.

However, there are disadvantages too:

  • RAW takes much more room on your card;

  • You cannot print;

  • You cannot email;

  • You cannot upload;

  • It still has to be converted to Jpeg.

So you decide what you need more!

Strip Lighting Lesson

In this video tutorial Scott Smith shows how to use one light source in a studio for shooting black and white and then color portraits. A strip light is very narrow and soft, it comes from a soft box. It brings very soft shadowing to your photos. He uses black background because it will eat all the light coming in and that way he does not have to worry about reflections. This particular strip soft box has the light flashed back and then reflected to the model. There are other models in which the light comes directly to the model.

Techniques for Better Photography with T1i

If you have a Canon T1i or any other DSLR camera, there basic techniques may be useful when you learn your way in digital photography.

If you have a dark situation, use the exposure compensation and dial it to +2. It will make your subject much brighter. In the opposite situation, dial it to -1 and your photo will be a bit darker.

The same way you can control your flash output power. There are situations when too much flash can make your models flat. In this case, go to the menu and dial the flash compensation to -2.

If you want to make the background out of focus, just switch to Av (Aperture priority) mode and dial the smallest figure possible for your lens (2.8 or 3.5 or ...).

It is also a very effective technique to use a white card to lighten your model's face by reflecting sun or sky light back to the face.

Top 10 Tips for Digital Photographers

Rick Sammon shares very useful tips that help you make better photographs. Tips like:

  1. Learn how to see the light, the light quality, the shadows and highlights learn how to use the exposure compensation to set the correct exposure;

  2. Try to create a sense of depth and dimension in your images (choose the right composition);

  3. Take a hike/walk when on location to find the best angle, view;

  4. Always look down, up and back;

  5. Aim at telling the whole story by taking wide angle shots, medium shots, vertical and horizontal shots (shoot closer and look for details);

  6. Frame your photo;

  7. Beware of background, it can break your picture;

  8. Fill the frame;

  9. Shoot in RAW and you will have much more flexibility in post processing of your image;

  10. Envision the end result, try to foresee what you will do with the photo in post processing.

All rules are not fixed and they are meant to be broken if it serves your plan.

Four Tips for Landscape Photography

These simple tips allow you to dramatically enhance your landscape photos.

  1. First of all you definitely need a good tripod to eliminate any camera shaking.

  2. Then it is important to lock up the mirror in your camera body. When it flips off it causes movement of the body. So you set in the menu Mirror Lock and then you press the shutter twice. The first time it lifts the mirror up and the next press actually makes the shot.

  3. Using lens filters outdoors cannot be underestimated. The sky is usually too bright and your digital camera's dynamic range covers only five stops. So you would either get a blown out sky or underexposed grass. That is why using a graduated neutral density filter comes to help. It is very dark in the upper half and very light in the lower part. It does a good job with darkening the sky and leaving the grass at the same luminosity level. Also if you shoot waterfalls and want to achieve real water falling effect you need to use longer shutter speed, about 1-3 sec. You cannot do that outdoors when there is a great deal of light. That is why you should use a neutral density filter (not graduated) which darkens the whole frame area evenly for 3 stops.

  4. And lastly it is advisable to get a remote trigger for your shutter release. It takes off any camera shake when you press the button. However you can set your camera to time delay mode (2 sec.)

How to Make Good Photos at Night

This video tutorial explains how you can get good results from photographing at night. City's best images are made at night but it is a real challenge when there is not enough light. If you have a DSLR camera, you can change a few settings and achieve nice looking photo images even at night. First of all if you leave your camera in the Auto mode, the results will probably be disappointing. There two main rules to avoid too dark photos:

  1. increase the exposure (open the lens by setting the smallest f number and use longer shutter speed)

  2. have your camera steady on a tripod.

Change your mode to manual (M). Open the lens to the maximum at the given focal length. Increase the shutter speed to 1 sec and if your image is too bright, use half a second. There are situations when you need to set your shutter speed to 15 or even 20 sec. At such slow shutter speed, your camera will shake regardless of how strongly you can hold it in your hands and even if there is a built in camera or lens stabilization. You definitely need to use a tripod. When you mount your camera on a tripod, do not forget to turn off any camera or lens stabilization because it may add shake by itself. Use a self timer or an optional remote control to release.

When photographing the city at very slow shutter speed, you can achieve nice trails of car lights.

When done, switch back to AUTO or P mode.

Business Portrait Setup on Location

This video shows how you can do a business portrait on location. If you have two flash kit, one flash can be equipped with a softbox, positioned quite close to the subject. The other flash is simply a bare bulb, lighting from behind. A reflector is directed to that bulb to send some light back to the model. All setup needs to be fixed before actual clients arrive so that you save their your your time.

Stripbox Gives Glamourous Portrait

This tutorial shows how to use a very narrow softbox, called strip box to create glamorous images of your models in a studio setup. Strip boxes, being slim, can direct the light the way you want. A panel reflector is also used to fill in the shadows, and the model is photographed on the white background, close to the wall.

If you experiment with your hand by placing it in front of a strip box, you will notice how the shadows and light are changing when you are moving your head to and from the center of the strip box. So you should use the light from the soft box to stress the volume (shadows) of your model and not to make her look flat.

How to Achieve Perfect Exposure

This video lesson shows what the right histogram should look like in a perfect exposure setting. You do not want the date in your histogram to extend to either boundary (to have no clipping on the left or right). The general rule is to shift the histogram to the right a bit (as close to the highlights as possible but without going over). You will see a series of photographs illustrating how exposure is related to the histogram.

Studio Lighting Adjusted for Model

Adam Bonilla explains and shows how you should adjust your lighting setup according to your model's face and figure. Some photographers prefer using just one setup that they have learned and it may not suit every model.

Models' faces are different, some have more oval or wider faces and you need to take this into consideration. He shows one model with an oval face for whom he chooses top lighting, so called a butterfly scheme.

If you need to separate your blond model from the background in post processing, the only way to do it is using dark background in your studio.

What is a Histogram?

Computer programs and cameras are able to draw histograms of an image. What is a histogram and how you can read it.

This video shows what it is by hand drawing a histogram. Basically it is a bar graph. We have values from 0 (complete black) to 255 (complete white). The height of each small bar represents the number of pixels of the same gray level. If the histogram is moved to the left side, it means there are more dark tones in the image. If it is moved to the right side, there are more light tones.

How to Use Vanishing Point Filter in Photoshop

In this tutorial you will learn the basics of using a vanishing point filter in Photoshop. See how to setup a perspective grid and clone in 3D space, also place graphics in a perspectively correct environment. A new logo will be placed on a side of the truck.

Model Portfolio Photography Tips

This is a real life shooting session of a model's portfolio. The photographer explains what he wants from the model. He is constantly moving around the studio to find the best angle. He suggested to put a reflector to soften strong shadows from sun light. One side of model's face is dark, so he wants to use a reflector. However, harsh lighting emphasizes the model's shape which cannot be achieved by soft light.

A model should be and look relaxed because the message she needs to convey is how she is enjoying the clothes she is wearing.

If a photographer asks the model to do something, like straightening her hair, she should do it in slow motion.

What is a High Key Portrait

Garry Edwards tells in this masterclass about shooting portraits. First of all you need to find out the purpose of the photo, as your client/model sees it. Be it an image for a corporate web site or a gift to a partner. Basing on this you can think up how you should shoot it.

If your subject is looking into a big source of light placed very close to the subject, shadows will not be hard on his/her face. The further away you take the light source, in this case it was a light box, the harsher the shadows become.

If you want to have a circle of light behind the model's head, put a light beamer directed onto the background. You can also use some color gel. Blue is popular because it goes well with red and all people's skin has red color. It is also a good idea to overexpose the background by at least 1,5 stops.

High key effect means the absence of any dark tone in the photo. This technique produces good results when you need to hide any imperfections of the model's face. If you set exposure on the model's eyes and lips, only eyes and lips will be shown on the photo image while her skin will be overexposed and thus too bright.

Fill light on the other hand is placed where it lights whole subject.

Candid Photography Tips

Erin Manning speaks about candid photography and what it takes.

The only way to capture magical moments that appear for an instant to be gone in a second, is to shoot without the model posing. You will be able to produce really memorable photos that show life being lived naturally and genuine emotions of the people you shoot.

A few tips for candid photography:

  • Always bring your camera with you and be ready to shoot;

  • Never use flash;

  • Do not worry about your composition as you can always crop it later at home;

  • Expect a shutter lag in your camera and avoid it by half pressing the shutter release button;

  • Occasionally using a self timer may become necessary;

  • Try to be and look discreet, dress in black.