Using the Best Techniques for Shutter Speed Photography

Today’s post focuses on photography techniques that will help you use the shutter speed both effectively and creatively. We hope this article will provide you with inspiration for a new day of work.

Shutter Speed Photography Techniques

Before getting into detail and discussing more complex aspects of shutter speed photography, let’s go back to the basics and see what shutter speed is and why it is essential to know how to use it for high quality photos. Shutter speed refers to the length of time the camera’s shutter is open when capturing an image. Also called exposure time, the shutter speed is measured in fractions of a second and seconds. [Read more…]

What Does ISO Mean in Photography?

Understanding what ISO is in photography and using your digital camera accordingly is essential for capturing great grain free images. What does ISO mean and what are the ideal ISO settings for different types of photography are the questions we decided to answer to in a more in depth manner.

What Does ISO Mean?

 

ISO is one of the three pillars of photography along with Aperture and Shutter Speed. We have already touched both on the ISO meaning and its importance when we discussed how to make the most from your camera exposure. However, there’s always more useful information to provide on the subject, especially for beginners.

To put it simple, ISO refers to how sensitive your digital camera or film is to light. So anytime we talk about ISO photography, we refer to the ideal amount of light we need for well-exposed images. Both in film and digital photography, ISO indicates the sensitivity to light and is measured in numbers – 100, 200, 400, 800 etc. These numbers are established by the International Organisation for Standardization. Here are the ISO standards used in photography:

ISO Standards used in Photography - ISO scale

Back in the film photography days, an ISO of 100 was best for shooting in natural light, while 400 ISO was commonly used for indoor photography.

In our digital age, though, ISO settings allow you to better control the quality of your photo. As compared to film, on digital cameras you can set a different ISO for each shot. So, in case you come across situations when you cannot use flash, you can rapidly switch your ISO up to 3200 and make the image sensor more sensitive to light. With film, the higher the ISO, the more grainy and noisy the pictures were.

How does ISO work? The lower the ISO is, the less sensitive your camera will be to light. A higher ISO number is thus necessary in low light conditions. This, unfortunately, increases the noise of your shots, which means that finest images are always achieved in natural light.

experimenting with iso settings

Experimenting with ISO Settings

Base ISO

All digital cameras have a so-called base ISO which is the lowest ISO you can use to capture high quality images. While most of Nikon cameras have a base ISO of 200, the typical base ISO for Canon is 100.  ISO 100 is the lowest recommended ISO for digital cameras, but the number can drop to 80, 64 and even 50 depending on light conditions and shooting purposes.

The ISO number can be increased from 100 or 200 to 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400 end even higher. The highest the ISO is, the less time is needed to capture an image. For instance, ISO 100 has a capture speed of 1 second, while ISO 1600 speed is sixteen times lower.

Auto ISO

Many digital cameras have a special setting called Auto ISO. How does Auto ISO work? Auto ISO is great for low-light shooting. All you need to do is set a maximum ISO number to limit the grain in your image, such as ISO 800, and the camera will automatically change it based on the amount of light available.

auto iso settings for Canon

Auto ISO for Canon Digital Cameras

ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed

Before experimenting with different ISO settings, it is important to learn more about Aperture and Shutter Speed which with ISO are part of the Exposure Triangle.

Light and noise are affected not only by the ISO number, but also by how fast the shutter speed and how large the aperture are set. A slower shutter speed means a longer time for the light to hit the image sensor. Also, the larger the aperture is, the more light will get through the lenses.

A low ISO goes hand in hand with a larger aperture. The less sensitive is the image sensor, the more light will need to get through the lenses. Also, when using a lower ISO, it is advisable to set slower shutter speed so that the light is delivered into the sensor over a longer period of time.

Consequently, if we set the ISO high, we need less light over a shorter period of time.

ISO Settings by Types of Photography

Next, we are going to answer to how to use ISO on your digital camera according to different types of photography.

  • LOW ISO USAGE

Low ISO numbers, such as 100 or 200, are perfect for shooting in bright light. Natural light allows you to stick to a low ISO which will result in a higher quality and less grainier or even grain free images. A low ISO is ideal for all types of outdoor photography, be in landscape, nature, flower or travel photography as long as the sunlight is your friend.

Flower at ISO 100

Flower Captured at ISO 100

Low ISO can be used in dark settings as well, if you wish to add a dramatic effect to your photographs. However, if you want to lower the ISO number and there is little light to work with, you should also use a tripod or hold your camera steady by placing it on a flat, solid surface.

  • HIGH ISO USAGE

High ISO is mandatory in low light conditions. In order for your shot to be well-exposed, don’t forget to set a faster shutter speed as well after increasing the ISO number.

Usually, higher ISO settings are needed for indoor photography when shooting:

  • Indoor Sport Events
  • Art Gallery Shows
  • Parties and Weddings
  • Interior Design Photography
low light examples of ISO settings

Low Light Examples of ISO Settings for Indoor Photography

In certain circumstances, you can use a flash instead of increasing the ISO, but the images will probably get noisier and grainier.

We hope we provided you with useful answers to ‘what does ISO mean?’ and ‘how does ISO work for stunning results?’. If you have any other questions or comments, just drop us a line.

Image Sources: 1,2,3,4

Quick guide on how to shoot big sky photography

Camille-Seaman

Big sky photography – a way to give your landscape photos the shock element.

But it ain’t easy shooting the sky, and you need to acknowledge the fact that the there will be obvious contrast issues. Even more importantly, you’ll encounter a big problem in finding the best time to go on a photo shoot. This is were we come in and save the day.

What to keep in mind when embarking on a big sky photography shoot?

Besides worrying about what gear you are using, you should consider thinking about when it’s the perfect time to take a landscape photo that is encompassed by the sky. We can’t just take photos of sunny, beautiful scenery all the time – where’s the fun in making everything blissfully happy? We need to get out of our comfort zone and take a walk, with our camera of choice gripped tightly in our hand, when there’s a storm about to hit, or a slight summer shower. The most beautiful photos that I have managed to take were the ones that made me worry not about my health, because I was soaking wet, but if my camera can withstand so much downpour.

Sfortis

We need to make the landscape more exciting by adding the sky, and that means paying attention to weather reports. Can you imagine what impact a bland landscape enveloped in a sky filled with a single cell Cumulonimbus cloud can have? I’ll tell you – jaws will drop.

The land needs to play the supporting role in your big photography shoots – don’t focus on capturing the essence of the land, focus on timing it perfectly so the sky is the main star in your picture.

This doesn’t mean that you forget about the importance of the land all-together. Even though it doesn’t get the lead part, it also has to bring something to the scenery – it may not be much, but still, it needs something. You could capture a single withered tree, a blacked-out boy that plays with a basketball, even a dog that just looks straight up, maybe wondering, like all of us, what does it all mean. You need to let your creativity run amok through yourself, and not worry about failing – you will fail countless of times, but failing at something is a step into being sort of a good at it.

Big sky photography

Everyone has different preferences regarding lenses – and sometimes it really depends on the circumstance you are in – but try starting with a wide-angle zoom. I’m just stating the obvious now, but when you use a wide angle lens, you will capture more of the sky thus exaggerating the feel of impact, and you will create the illusion that clouds are rushing out at the viewer. You can play with perspective all you want, you just require time to find out what best suits your style.

Let’s talk about filters!

There is not such thing as a correct exposure of the land, there are only things that work in a certain circumstance, and other things that feel just wrong using. What’s important though is to significantly differentiate between the landscape and the sky. For starters reduce the exposure of the top portion of the frame, and the easiest way for beginners, and veterans alike, is to use a Neutral Density graduated filter, and align it such that it covers the sky. By doing so, you will darken the sky, while the landscape below remains bright. Play with the Neutral Density graduated filter as you like – 0.3, 0.6 and 0.9 are the most used, but let your imagination flow.

Neutral Density Grad Filter

Another trick you can try is to polarise the sky – no, you’re not getting advice from a mad scientist right now, just bare with me. It’s a polariser filter that enhances the sky thus making the clouds stand out in an ocean of blue. It’s actually pretty cool once you get a hang of it. For the best outcome be certain that the sun is at a 90 degrees to the direction your camera is pointing – if the sun is straight behind you nothing will be accomplished.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different style of frames!

You’ve done research on countless weather channels, you got your gear set up, and you just arrived at the location you are dead set to shoot, but you are missing one essential point. How big should the frame be? Should I shoot it wide, or just capture a part of the sky and a little land? From what perspective should I try shooting? Well, for starters I highly recommend using a wide angle lens so that the sky composes half of your picture, or 2 thirds of it – and balance it with a strong focal point.

Different Perspective

Once you go out on a trial run, get home and marvel at your creation, you’ll find that you completely forgot to take a meter reading. Aren’t you glad that you are reading this? Before starting to shoot do a meter reading by tilting the camera forward. By doing so you will exclude the sky entirely. Set the reading to Manual Mode, and you’ll be able to play with the land’s exposure – balance it by using the Neutral Density graduated filter.

Final tips and tricks!

  • Be careful while you use the polarise filter. At first it will look odd, and unsettling – some parts of the sky will look much darker than others, but you can solve this problem by reducing the angle’s width.
  • Experiment with different Neutral Density graduated filters. The 0.6 one is set to be the most useful of the bunch, but don’t form a routine. Use the 0.9 too – they can be bought in a set.
  • Lighting can be a pain in the buttocks, and you’ll most certainly try to use a ND grad filter, but you’ll learn it to be impractical when facing such problems. Shoot two, or more frames from the same point and then combine, and edit them in Photoshop for the best outcome.

 

With this being said, I only wish you the perfect weather, and that spark of creativity to shoot photos that you love.

 

Image Source: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

 

 

DSLR Guide for Beginners: The Best Entry Level DSLR Tips

So, you’ve purchased your first DSLR camera, have you? You most likely read the manual, watched tutorials, asked your fellow photographer friends for tips. And still, you are reluctant to experiment with your new purchase. Do you find it easier to just use the Auto function? You don’t even take the camera out with you because you find it too difficult and somewhat embarrassing to fiddle around with various settings? This guide on the best entry level DSLR tips for photographers just starting out. [Read more…]

Tips on Indoor Photography

One of the most important features you need to consider when talking about photography is light. Once you have your subject you need to think about light and then about all the other parameters, especially when it comes to indoor photography.

In the following article you will find some the best tips on indoor photography that you can start using today.

There is not much you can use when you are shooting indoors or au contraire, there is too much. If you consider starting your own business as a professional photographer you must explore everything and see what you are actually good at. Although you may think that an expert photographer is good at taking any types of pictures, you might be surprised on how an awesome portrait photographer can be considered average when it comes to landscape photography.

The secret behind every successful story is finding what you are good at and just go with it.

So enough with the small talk, here are some things you need to take into consideration when shooting something or someone, indoors.

1. Every photograph tells a story

Some of the best photographs that have ever been taken were spontaneous. You don’t need to think all things through before taking the best photograph, if you are not conducting a professional photo shoot. For example, if someone approaches you and asks you for an indoor portrait photography photo shoot, the first thing you need to do is to try finding out something about the person.

You have to be in harmony with the subject of your photograph and understand what he/she expects from you and your photography skills if you want to reach perfection. If you are not necessarily taking a picture of someone, but of a something, you have only one point of view: yours, so be careful on what you are trying to say with your photograph.

2. Light, Light and again, Light

indoor photography

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The biggest struggle you will face when trying to shoot a portrait photograph indoors is with light. If you are shooting during day time, you must certainly find a window and place your subject close to it, so that you can make the most out of the natural light you have. To control all the shadows and curves you should also consider investing in a reflector. By placing a reflector on the side of your subject, opposite to the side with natural light, you can obtain stunning effects. Things will get even trickier when you are shooting without any or very low natural light. One way to try solving this problem by using Lightscoop, a great little mirror which redirects the light from your pop-up flash so that you can obtain warmer images, without making your skin look like you just won the casting for the next Twilight movie.

3. Know your camera as good as you know yourself

Many people do not even bother to understand their cameras before or after purchasing it. You would be amazed on how many options and features you have. Before starting to shoot any kind of photographs, take some time and understand your camera and what it is able to do.

4. Background

When shooting indoors, background is also important. To make the best out of an indoor photography, try choosing white backgrounds, so that the light can be reflected and you can achieve a great result. If you do not have an entirely white background, try emphasizing the subject on whatever background you choose but be careful on the contrast. You do not want a chaotic background, especially not when it comes to indoor photography, because then you will lose your subject.  Another idea is taking black and white pictures so that the people do not get distracted by the background or pieces of clothing and stay focused on the subject.

5. Aperture

indoor photography

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It is important to use a wide aperture especially for indoor photography because you want to make the most out of the light you have. A wide aperture not only gives you a better photograph on low light level but it also creates a shallow depth of field with will help you subject pop out of any cluttered background.

6. ISO

There are a lot of mixed reviews when it comes to ISO and shutter speed. Some photographers say that in low light levels you can use a higher ISO, mainly between 800 and 1600 if you want to achieve a fast shutter speed and take advantage of the light you do have. However, higher ISO means a lot more noise in the photograph so other photographers say that you should not use an ISO level higher than 800 especially when shooting indoors. If you have reached ISO 800 and you are still not fully satisfied with your picture, you should probably try either going to ISO 1600 or play with artificial sources of light such as your flash or a reflector.

7. Spot

Find the perfect indoor photography spot in your house. It can be the kitchen, especially if you have a lot of natural light coming in and white walls or cabinets, it can be your living room if it has more light or more white than your kitchen or even your bathroom, it does not matter as long as you have the key element: light. Try taking pictures all around your house and see which spot is the best for indoor shooting.

8. Understand what and why you are shooting

indoor photography

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Even if you are shooting at home, in the supermarket, in your car or any other indoor location, if you want people to understand the story you are trying to tell with your photographs you must first understand it yourself. If you understand exactly what you or your subjects want from your photograph, it will be that much easier to shoot a photograph which speaks for itself.

These were 8 great tips on how to make the best out of a photograph, even if you shoot it indoors.

What other indoor photography tips do you have or use?

Wildlife and Nature Photography Tips

You can never be too cautious when it comes to taking photographs in nature, but you should not let cautiousness get in the way of you and your perfect shot. Try mixing both of them and achieve perfection when it comes to wildlife and nature photography.

There are many things you should consider before putting on your backpack, grabbing your camera and just march into your backyard. To come to your aid and help you out on your journey to being a great photographer, here are 8 great tips on wildlife and nature photography.

1. Pick a theme or a topic

wildlife and nature photography

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You can choose different seasons, a certain color or even a category of animals such as insects, mammals or birds. It is important to have a certain theme or topic already figured out before actually starting shooting everything, everywhere because this way you have something to focus on and you are more likely to accomplish a goal if you actually have one. Moreover, by shooting a lot of pictures of the same object, animal or category of either objects or animals, you can find which pictures are better, under what conditions and you can actually try finding out what is the influence behind the pictures that are better.

2. Know your camera and what it can do

I cannot stress enough on this subject. It is hugely important to know what your camera is capable of, sometimes even before actually purchasing it. There is much more to photography than simply point and shoot and there are a lot of functions and features that you should know abut such as ISO, Aperture, Exposure, Shutter Speed, Macro and so on. Learn how you can use all the feature your camera has into your own benefit.

3. Dress for the occasion

Try finding out where you want to go after you have decided what you are going to shoot. This is important because you have to be prepared for any type of weather conditions. Do you need hiking boots and a rain coat or flip flops and sun-block? These are all factors that can influence your photographs and photography skills so you should definitely take them into consideration.

4. A tripod is your best friend

If you want to shoot landscapes without having to worry about blurry pictures due to shaky hands, you should consider bringing a tripod – especially if you are going with the raincoat rather than the sun-block. A tripod and the perfect filter are a badass combination which can easily make an average quality picture look a hundred times better. However, if you are going for wildlife shooting, a tripod might not come in that handy since you have to be part of an animal’s environment if you want great pictures.

5. Be part of the animal’s environment

wildlife and nature photography

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It is settled – if you want great wildlife pictures you must not be afraid of getting your hands dirty. You cannot expect an animal to stay still while you take 100+ pictures of it and then try to pick the best ones. Let’s face it, you often get only one chance to a perfect shot, so you have to make the best of it.

If you see an interesting animal you want to shoot, before grabbing your camera and make a 2 foot leap to it, think. What is the animal doing? Is it feeding, running for its life or just chilling around? Is there any way you can get closer without scaring it off? Is the animal dangerous for you or your gear? These are all important questions you need to ask yourself before putting you or your camera in danger.

6. Focus points

wildlife and nature photography

One thing many people involved in the artistic field do not know is the fact that a central focus point can be tiring to the human eye. In order to obtain photographs which are aesthetically pleasing to the eye you have to check out the rule of thirds. For this rule, you need four lines.

Two of these lines divide your photograph into equal thirds – length wise while the other two divide it into equal thirds width – wise. You will obtain four intersection points between these lines and by focusing your subject in one or two of those points, you will reach perfection when it comes to focus.

7. Zoom in and get close

A good quality optical zoom on your camera is definitely very useful, especially when it comes to wildlife and nature photography. You do not always get the chance to get as close as you would want to a certain animal or flower, so your zoom might prove to be the best tool you have.

Another great tip which can prove useful especially if you cannot zoom in as much as you would want is using a pair of binoculars. Simply put your camera lens at one of the eyepieces and allow your camera to focus before taking the picture. Moreover, if you spin your binoculars, you have instant macro lens. Do not expect a high quality but it is certainly better than using your digital zoom.

8. All about light

Flowers collage

There is something called “the golden hour” when it comes to wildlife and nature photography. This “hour” which can sometimes actually be hours is the period of time around sunrise or sunset, when light appears golden because of the atmosphere. Some photographers even say that this is the only time you should take wildlife photographs since in the middle of the day, your camera will most likely struggle with the bright spots and different shadows. However, there is something beautiful about photographs even if they are not taken during the golden periods of time if you know how to take advantage of the light.

Avoid taking pictures directly into sunlight as you will not be able to understand anything of that picture. Instead, try finding some shade and make the most out of all the natural light you have at hand. Try using the sun as if you would use a reflector and find sources that can reflect sunlight, such as water or even wet leaves. Take some time and study the environment to see how and where light is reflected before considering taking the perfect shot.

What other tips or techniques do you use for your wildlife or nature photographs?

The Best Photographers We’ve Encountered Online in 2013-2014

Talking about something as definite as “best photographers “ can be more than a little bold, if truth be told, since the visual arts in general and photography in particular are so highly subjective that picking absolutes is impossible. But since we’re not claiming to choose the best photographers of all time, but only a few select ones which caught our eye since last year and the months that passed from this one, we dared to give it a go.

1. Davina Palik and Daniel Kudish

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This couple of photographers, based in Montreal and Ottawa, specialize in wedding photography, taking beautiful pictures of couples around the world on their big day. Although wedding photography seem to be a field where you can’t improvise all that much, at least not in a completely innovate or shocking way, these two are some of the best photographers out there precisely because they can demonstrate the contrary.

Take a look at their superb portfolio here and see for yourself how fresh wedding photography can actually be with Davina and Daniel behind the camera. We especially love the occasionally funny moments captured, because one rarely gets to see something funny and romantic at the same time.

2. Spencer Murphy

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For the portrait photography niche, our favorite is Spencer Murphy, one of the best photographers in Britain, in our humble opinion. We especially like the serious air of his portraits, because sometimes, there’s just more to the realm of photography themes than autumn foliage (not that there’s anything wrong with being into that). Pictured above, you can admire the portrait of a female jump jockey right after the jump (part of a wider series of specialized portrait, which won him impressive awards).

You can take a better look at this photo series of his here.

3. Rafael Marchante

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This brilliant photographer from Portugal has reached a famous professional status on numerous websites after this iconic photograph of his was widely distributed in the aftermath of Nelson Mandela’s death. He managed to capture the spirit of the African leader’s legacy in a unique photograph of a well-made graffiti that was serious and playful and full of great impact all at the same time. His niche is taking pictures of seemingly banal street situations and homeless people, as opposed to most of our visitors who are mostly taking pictures of clients, but his images are a great inspiration nonetheless.

Take a look at his Facebook page here to browse some of the most amazing portraits you’ll ever see.

4. Camilla de Mafei

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This brilliant Italian lady truly deserves a spot in the best photographers of recent years. Her work is hard to put into just one box, as she seems to move effortlessly through landscape photography, sad and eerie portrait photography or still life shots.

Her official website, where you can browse more of her photos, is here.

5. Michael Roud

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One of the best photographers of Los Angeles, Michael Roud isn’t exactly a recent entry in the field of famous photography, but his works remain so edgy and impeccable that we couldn’t finish this list without him. Mostly into headshots (but also into wedding photography), he also impresses with his work as a director and with collaborations with celebrities. The one certainty about the work of this incredibly talented guy is that getting photographed by him is certainly an honor and privilege.

His official website and portfolio can be admired at will here.

These were, according to us, the best photographers of the recent years which you should check out every now and then for an inspiration bonus. All in all, there’s no improving your own skills without also getting familiarized with the work of as many photographers as possible, and they might as well be worthy of the attention.

5 Ways to Experiment More with Your Photography

professional-photographer

Becoming a good photographer takes more than just hard work, mechanical knowledge of the basic know-hows and the investment of time and money. None of these things are easy to give, of course, especially if you’re striving to make the transition from an amateur to a pro while also maintaining an unrelated job and investing all your extra money in new gear and props to fuel your still not so lucrative hobby. But that little extra we’re talking about could be equated to the unquantifiable spark of talent, or confidence, or creativity which your work will eventually need to stand out from the crowd. Put in more technical and less romantic terms, in order to develop this sixth sense in photography and obtain better results, you need to experiment more with your work. Here are 5 ways to start.

Experiment more with the camera settings

As we mentioned earlier, it’s always a good idea to keep playing with your camera’s settings and discover new ways to make them work for the situation at hand. Nothing will give your imagination stronger wings than knowing every last effect obtainable from every last setting on your camera. Once you get to know them all and to know how your camera reacts to every possible combination of settings, you can experiment more in creative ways for pleasantly surprising effects.

Try new angles of viewing things

When approaching your usual subjects, establish your normal, go-to viewing angle and then try 2 or three completely different ones. You may be surprised of what you discover if you allow yourself to experiment more with the angles. The results may be better than what your usual approach would have produced, or, even if not, can prove to be valuable lessons in how you’ll perceive space through your lens.

Take photos of things out of your comfort zone

After you experiment more with the angles, it’s time to temporarily change your usual subjects as well. Try photographing things you wouldn’t normally think of photographing and see how your usual techniques are suitable or not for the new themes. We’re not suggesting you to go very far out of your comfort zone if you don’t want to (like to switch from wedding portraits to the morbid and grotesque), but trying something even a bit new as a subject can make you a better photographer once you return to your usual line of work.

Go wild with post-photo editing

Even if less is more when it comes to photo editing, you can play a bit with all the editor’s features just as you did with the camera settings. Even if the results are way over the top to count as decent pictures, if you experiment more with digital tools such as Photoshop or Picasa or whatever photo processing program you prefer, you will learn a great deal about what you can do with your photos in the future.

Try to work through the lens of another photographer for a short while

Every photographer, and especially the established ones, has their unique style, and trying to emulate it for a while can do you some good, even if it’s not a style you would like for yourself. Get familiar with two or three photographers who employ a very personal view, as different from each other as possible, and study their works. Then, for a week or so at a time, try to experiment more with your photos by channeling the style of each of them. Even if you won’t borrow anything from your muses on the long term, you will know yourself better as photographer by the end of this experiment and your enhanced knowledge will soon reflect positively in the quality of your photos.

5 Small Tips that Can Truly Make a Difference

Taking good photos is hard, though it may not seem like that from afar. When they actually agree that a photographer’s work is good, people are either saying “Oh gosh, look at that photographer, they have are so talented”, as if that elusive quality of talent has been magically bestowed upon the photographer by a well-meaning fairy godmother, or they are simply explaining it through the semi-professional equipment. I’m sure you’ve seen both these kinds of reactions, the latter kind also including the enthusiasm of a clueless person about investing in a camera way above their skills, expecting to somehow take pro-level pictures immediately after the said acquisition.

photographer

But all of us here probably know that becoming a photographer does not happen overnight and it takes work and learning. To that effect, here are 5 small tips you may not already know about how to improve your skills even if you’re still at the beginning of that journey from amateur to pro. As a disclaimer, we should probably mention that this post is for the beginners among us, so bear with it if you feel yourself too advanced for such meager small tips.

1. Look at other photographer’s works and even ask questions.

Don’t underestimate the value of being humble enough to ask for advice even if you’re not very sure what to ask. Also, even without asking anything, browsing as many photographic works as possible is the sole thing which can train your eye to detect what makes a picture good or bad, better or worse, or to notice when a professional is using a technique you might be interested in yourself. When you see something like this, ask away: you’d be surprised of how friendly people can be, and getting a few small tips from an established photographer can really make a difference.

2. Ask an untrained eye which version they prefer out of 2 or 3.

But don’t neglect the feedback you could get from a pair of well-meaning untrained eyes. Oftentimes, they see the same kind of things which your potential clients may see and you should take it into account if you want to seem like a good idea. So whenever you’re editing photos and would like some feedback, save some intermediary versions and ask a good non-photographer friend or one of your parents what they think about them.

3. Try Picasa or a basic contrast editor to train your hand at photo editing.

Speaking of photo editing, you should be careful not to overdo it. It’s true that most raw photos need a little fixing, but one of the best small tips you will ever hear is that less is more. To make sure you learn to do it moderately, start with an editing tool for beginners, like Picasa.

4. Avoid putting the focus/subject in the center of the photo.

Pictures which put the focus or the subject of their portrait right in the center have a decisively amateur air about them. Whatever you do and no matter how much of a beginner you really are or not, try to avoid this mistake. Of course, there’s no need to do the opposite and put the subject of the photo in a corner of it as that would be pretty annoying (unless it’s occasional and for artistic reasons). To get it right, look for an online tutorial about proper photo framing and focusing, you can find a lot of small tips on how to avoid the center in a non-obvious way.

5. Play with the settings as much as possible.

This is another piece of advice which may seem like a cliché to our more advanced users, but keep going out of your comfort zones and play with the settings on your camera as much as possible. There’s a common tendency among many beginner photographers, to finally find a configuration that works for them, save it and use it on every occasion thereafter. Remember what works, of course, but keep searching and trying, and you will soon understand your camera and your settings much better than you thought you did. This way, you will eventually come to a point where you can easily adjust them to the present situation and take the most mind-blowing photos possible. You’ll soon be in the position to offer some small tips to others on how to improve themselves, you’ll see.

5 Ways to Deal with Bad Wedding Photos

It’s another one of those photographers’ nightmares that everyone has to deal with, sooner or later in their career. It usually tends to happen to beginner wedding photographers: you shoot the wedding, spend tons of time editing the pictures, then, one day, you get the dreaded call. The client hates your work. They are disappointed with it. They may even ask for their money back. What do you do? How do you deal with bad wedding photos? Here are 5 tips from actual wedding photographers, with enough experience in their portfolios to be speaking with the best of intentions.

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1. Don’t dwell

This is the most important step in learning how to deal with bad wedding photos, unless you want to end up too scared to ever pick up a camera again. The past is in the past and you can’t reshoot a wedding. You can analyze what went wrong, enlist the aid of a very skilled photo editor and try to do as much damage control as possible. However, at the end of the day, all you can do is learn from your mistakes (as everyone does) and move forward.

2. Analyze & acknowledge

Perhaps the conditions in which you shot the wedding were harsh. Perhaps you lack the experience to handle the weather, the light, the temper tantrums thrown by the wedding party, or anything else. Maybe your compositions are bad. Try to pinpoint the causes, in order to deal with bad wedding photos. Understand what went wrong, but make sure to be as objective and detached as possible. It’s actually a good idea to sit down with said ruined set and a trusted fellow photographer and ask for their opinion. A second call could be what you need, in order to prevent you from doubting your professional abilities altogether.

3. Pay up… or not

Sometimes, when you are forced to deal with bad wedding photos, you must simply understand that some clients are out to get their money back. Nothing you say or do will feel like compensation enough for them, before you pay up. You can comply to any other request they make, edit and re-edit the photos until you turn blue in the face – they want their money back and that’s final. At this point, your options are those listed in the contract you signed with them. If the client has just cause to ask for their money back, both legally and ethically, there is little you can do but pay up. Whatever you do, don’t let yourself be bullied away from your money.

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4. Get a second shooter, be a second shooter

The best way to learn wedding photography is by being a second shooter. Wedding photography pros recommend second shooting weddings for at least a year, before you attempt to go it on your own, as the main wedding photographer. Similarly, if you’re starting out as a main wedding photographer, it’s almost mandatory to enlist the aid of a second shooter you can trust. At the end of the day, they can make a world of difference, in terms of client satisfaction.

5. Trust your instinct

Lastly, the main takeaway, when you have to deal with bad wedding photos, is that you should always trust your gut when it comes to taking on a gig. If you feel you lack the experience and/or are worried the responsibility is too much for you to handle, find a gracious way to say no. You should never let a client pressure you into a booking, because chances are at the end of the day no one’s going to walk away happy – not you, nor the client.