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20 Things I Wish I Knew About Photographing in Manual Mode

1. ISO is an important setting. It controls how sensitive your camera’s image sensor is to the light. In bright light use a low ISO, in low light you can use a higher ISO.

2. WB or White Balance is a setting used to ensure you have even white and grey tones in your photos. Different kind of lights can make the whites in a photo appear to have a color to them. Fluorescent lights can make white sheets appear bluish. Tungsten lights (like a lamp) can make things appear yellow. Cameras have many settings for White Balance, but learning to use custom white balance is a great tool. Check out my blog about white balance to learn more about how to use the custom setting.

3. Aperture controls how much light is allowed through your lens by setting the f-stop. A lower f-stop (like 1.4) will let in a lot of light and a higher f-stop (like 16) will let in less light.

4. Shutter speed controls how long the image sensor is exposed to light. A lower shutter speed will let in more light, but may give your subjects motion blur if they are moving in the photo.

5. You don’t need to use manual focus to photograph in manual mode. Manual mode means you’ll have more control over how your camera reads the light, but manual focus will entail a few extra seconds to use the focusing ring in order to capture a sharp image. Many photographers auto focus so they can photograph and capture moments quicker and ensure they are tack sharp.

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20 Things I Wish I Knew About Photographing in Manual Mode » Photography Awesomesauce.

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Posted by on June 27, 2012 in Technique, Tutes & Tips, Worth a Look

 

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How to Use Steel Wool for Beautiful Light Painting Photographs

Here’s an awesome tutorial that teaches you how to create beautiful light painting sparkler photos. The materials are pretty cheap: all you need is some steel wool, an egg whisk, and a rope or cable. Simply place the steel wool inside the whisk, light it on fire using a lighter or 9V battery, and swing it around at the end of the cable while your camera snaps a long-exposure photo. Just be careful not to start a fire!

Recommended Starting Settings:

Manual Mode
Tripod Use
Shutter Speed: 30 secs or Bulb
Apperture: F/8
ISO: 200
White Balance: Tungsten
Format: RAW

via How to Use Steel Wool for Beautiful Light Painting Photographs.

 

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2012 in Inspiration, Night Photography, Technique, Tutes & Tips, Worth a Look

 

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Must-Have Filters for Landscape Photography

Must-Have Filters for Landscape Photography

By Nasim Mansurov

While I was photographing the beautiful scenery of the Glacier National Park at sunrise, I realized that some filters are pretty much required to get good results when photographing landscapes. While many photographers think that some of the built-in tools in Lightroom and Photoshop can simulate filter behavior, making filters redundant in the digital age, some filters in fact can never be simulated in software, while others help in getting even better results in post-processing. If you do not know what filters are and what they are used for, I highly recommend reading my “lens filters explained” article before you continue to read this one.

1) Polarizing Filter

B+W Circular Polarizing Filter

A polarizing filter is a must-have tool for landscape photography. It is typically the first filter landscape photographers buy to instantly improve their pictures and and add vividness and contrast to them. A polarizer can reduce reflections from objects such as water and glass and can be used to darken the sky, bring out the clouds and even reduce atmospheric haze, making the scene look much more vivid. For all normal lenses that have a filter thread in the front, you can get a circular polarizing filter, also known as a “circular polarizer”. A circular polarizer is very easy to use and once you attach it on the front of your lens, all you need to do is rotate it clockwise or counter-clockwise to get a different amount of polarization. Polarizing filters work by blocking certain light waves from entering the lens. Rotating a polarizer allows certain types of light waves to pass through, while blocking other ranges of light waves. Thus, you could turn a sky from light blue to very dark blue or increase/decrease reflections by simply rotating the filter.

The effect of polarization cannot be reproduced or simulated in post-processing, especially when dealing with natural reflections. Take a look at the below image:

Read more about Neutral Density Filters and more via Must-Have Filters for Landscape Photography.

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2012 in HDR, Landscape, Post Processing, Technique, Tutes & Tips, Worth a Look

 

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TUTORIAL: What’s your time of day? (Part 3) The Midday Sun

By tom dinning via Light Stalking

Noel Coward wrote that only mad dogs and Englishmen would dare go out in the midday Sun. Fortunately for us, Noel didn’t include photographers in those that shouldn’t.

Now that we have been up since 4am for the First Light at the beach and spent a pleasant morning strolling through the gardens in the Second Light, we may as well stick it out for the rest of the day. I still have some space on my CF card. Do you? So lets get out from under this tree and enjoy the rest of the day.

11.01am

My watch says 11.01am and it’s heating up. It’s going to stay this way until about 2pm so some preparation is in order. Looking out there, you might think there isn’t much to offer. But you are very much mistaken.

11.10am

Other than some UV cream and a hat, a comfort stop and a cool drink, I’m ready. I’ve snapped on a wide zoom (17-35mm) because I’m not heading anywhere special. That’s my ‘nothing special in mind’ lens. I’m going to wander to see where life takes me. Since I cast only a little shadow to follow I’ll let my nose lead the way. It’s big enough not to loose sight of in a crowd.

11.24am

I’ll do a quick pass by the beach to see if there is anything going on. The glare will be severe so I’ll slip on a polerising filter to cut back on the reflections and increase the blueness of the sky. You might be lucky enough to spot some interesting landforms as well ….. whatever your preference.

11.26pm

11.27am

11.35am

Last week the storms made the sky a bit more interesting but you take what you can get when it comes to the weather.

11.55am last week

And when things start to happen you don’t consult your watch to find out if its within your allocated shooting time.

Just because its midday, there’s not reason to be wasting your time in a library with a good book – or not!

12.08pm

If you’re looking for people doing interesting things, go have lunch with them. People, for some reason, swarm around food outlets at this time of the day. I don’t have a lot of luck with my pick-up lines but you might try: ‘I like the look of that pasta. Can I have a bite?’

12.22pm

If the weather permits, stay outdoors and shoot over the top of your sandwich. The wide angle will help here. Since there will be plenty of light, find a good depth of field and the focus will take care of itself. This is candid stuff – not museum masterpieces, so enjoy the moment without the hassles of perfect picture control.

12.50pm

You might be lucky enough to have a local market handy if it’s the weekend. The colours will be bright in this full sun so search out those in the red end of the spectrum.

12.59pm

If you are near a local Mall, have a walk down the thoroughfare. If it’s too hot you may have the place to yourself. Look around for those colours again. Assume that anyone who looks a bit strange has been affected by the Sun’s heat and give them some space; cranky fairies included.

1.00pm

Keep in mind the shadows will be about 8 stops below the sun lit promenade, so don’t expect too much detail up alley ways and through doorways.

The contrast at this time of the day is extreme and it can be used to your advantage. If you have some countryside nearby look out for full sun on textured surfaces. The sky might get a bit burnt out here so keep your horizon high or totally out of the picture.

1.02pm

If you choose to include the horizon, convert to B&W and darken the sky with the blue slider in the B&W adjustment layer. It looks better than a big blob of white overhead.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing the tourist thing and taking that shot from the lookout with the busload of grey nomads on their ‘Round The World Expedition. I fit right in.

1.07pm

I love the fountains at this time of the day. The water sparkles but you might need to walk around to find the right angle. Then wait for the lunchtime crowd to pass by. Someone will catch your eye.

1.10pm

Of course, if you live in some miserable climate like Brighton or Vancouver and it rains all the time, you can still go out. The wet streets provide a great atmosphere for you to practice your skills or just record your memories.

1.27pm

The old buildings are worth a look. Because the Sun is high in the sky, the shadows will be short. You will find one side of the building in light shadow, though. This is probably a bit easier to work with as far as exposure is concerned.

1.29pm

But don’t neglect the sunny side. Again, the contrast will be extreme and this can give you some interesting textures and shadows to play with.

1.32pm

Those hours between 11am and 2pm when most people are having a siesta, lunch or a respite in the air-conditioning can be a rewarding and exciting time for you with your camera if you are willing.

Oh, and save some memory for our early afternoon shoot. There’s always a sunset on the way.

2.00pm

Besides. if you’re making excuses for not taking photographs you’re only half serious.

via Light Stalking » TUTORIAL: What’s your time of day? (Part 3) The Midday Sun.

 
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Posted by on May 28, 2011 in Composition, Featured, Landscape, Technique, Tutes & Tips, Worth a Look

 

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TUTORIAL: What’s Your Time of Day (Part 1)- Shooting at First Light

By tom dinning via Light Stalking

This is a guest post by Tom Dinning who, besides being a professional photographer, teacher and mini-celebrity in the Light Stalking community, has also shared some very popular tutorials in the forums and in other posts.

Recently I had a browse through my files to see if there was any consistency with the times of day I choose to take photographs for my own pleasures. To my surprise, there was an even split between early morning, mid-morning, midday, late afternoon and evening. Its good that I’m not a creature of habit.

I though it might be a good exercise to examine each of these times of day in terms of the photo’s  taken and the issues that arise during the preparation stage and the recording of the images.

So here’s the first.

EARLY MORNING – COAST

First Light. Nightcliff Beach NT

I’m not good in the morning so the first preparation for such an event is to psych myself up weeks in advance for a possible 4am start. The next bit of preparation is to prime Christine for the awakening for fear she may be expecting something more than a gentle kiss goodbye. She’s even grumpier than me in the morning.

High tide. Myilly Point NT

Since I want everything to be just right for such a monumental occasion I check the sunrise times well in advance. I’m also interested in the time for first light, since I want some preparation time when I arrive at my destination. My preference for the coastline means I need to check the tides. Low tide is best where I live. It allows access to the beaches. It’s also more visually interesting since there will be many isolated pools along the beach for those nice reflections. All the information you need with regard to sunrise, first light and tides can be obtained through the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) website (in Australia) or the equivalent in your country. While you’re there, check the weather. You don’t want to be caught out in the rain, but a few clouds add interest to the sky.

Casuarina Beach NT

Checking the equipment the night before is part of the routine. Clean your sensor. Those funny little spots will show up against a clear sky at small apertures. Charge your batteries and take a spare. I’m not big on long focal lengths but that’s just me. I find myself using wide to mid-range (anything between 14mm and 70mm). A tripod is essential since you will probably be shooting at shutter speeds slow enought to write in your diary while taking the shot.

Tidal pool. Casuarina Beach NT

Getting there before the first glow of light needs a torch if you have some interesting ground to cover. It helps to find your way, locate things in the kit bag, provides a reading light for your camera knobs and dials if you haven’t learnt to find them in the dark yet, and, if its a big enough torch, it will fend off the dogs and muggers ( and the odd croc in my part of the world).

Casuarina Beach NT

It’s always good to check out the scene from a vantage point and grab a few shots to start with but usually I reconnoitre the spot a few days before so I know what I’m in for. Moving around in the dark in unfamiliar territory is risky for an old bloke like myself.

Rock outcrop. Nightcliff Beach NT

Shooting from water level creates great foreground for the shots. Look for items along the beach that might serve as points of interest. Watch how the light reflects from the water. Look for points of contrast as focal points in your frame.

This can be a time of solitude as well. Encompass that feeling and get it in the frame. Simplicity and the light is all you need to work with.

Casuarina Beach NT

Think in B&W as well. The tones will be subtle but worth capturing.

Little Watego’s Beach, NSW

Keep your shutter speed long enough to blur the movement of water. If the clouds are moving as well, all the better. You can get some great textures in the sky.

Rocks. Byron Bay, NSW

Reflections work well. Seek out the pools left behind. Walk around the pools to find the best angle. Get the best depth of field possible for these shots and make sure the foreground is sharp. If the auto-focus isn’t working its because it can’t find enough contrast in the scene to focus on. Switch to manual. When the going gets tough on focusing, I set the manual focus to about 2m and the aperture to about f:18. This seems to take care of most situations.

Dripstone Cliffs NT

As the light intensity increases, life and focusing will get easier. But there will be another issue to deal with. Exposure.

That sky will be about 6 or 7  f:stops over the ground exposure level. Your sensor will probably have a fit. Bracket and deal with it when you get home and have had your first cup of coffee.

Outcrop facing East. Nightcliff beach NT

In spite of the sand in your shoes and camera, wet feet from the incoming tide, the odd dogs dropping you stood in, a grumpy spouse to return home to and the need for a Granny Nap during the day, it should be worth every minute of your timely effort.

Low tide. Lee Point NT

If it’s not, take up knitting.

This is a guest post by Tom Dinning.

via Light Stalking » TUTORIAL: What’s Your Time of Day (Part 1)- Shooting at First Light.

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2011 in Composition, Featured, General, Landscape, Technique, Tutes & Tips, Worth a Look

 

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How Using Just One Light Will Make You a Better Photographer

By alohal via Light Stalking

Many times, one light is enough.

The master of the “one light,” Zack Arias once racked up a huge debt from being a gear head. From this experience, he learned to use the bare minimum equipment and came out stronger as a photographer. As someone who has been a gear head myself, I subscribe to Zack’s philosophy that a little gear can go a long way. After all, we are trying to develop not a collection of stuff, but a body of knowledge with which we create artistic interpretations of what is around us.

So, one light is enough.

The effectiveness of lighting depends on where you place it, how much power you give it, and what it does to enhance the composition of the image.

One light can enhance ambient light. Copyright Aloha Lavina.

The photo above was made in late afternoon. The sun was descending, and it made these wonderful streaks across a vine-covered wall. I asked Afrodite to stand in front of the wall, positioning her where the sun’s rays would spotlight her in the brilliant gold dress.

I also placed a bare flash gun camera right and above her head, tilted so it shone a light parallel to where the sun’s rays fell. I put a light shaper tool called a snoot on the bare bulb—essentially a cereal box I had cut and taped together with black duct tape so it fit on the front of my flash, but that’s another story— focusing the light specifically on her head.

Because the composition already had the sharp slice of shadows and streaks of light from the sun, I only needed a pop of light to remove some shadows from the model’s face. I opted to give the flash the intensity of 1/32. That was enough to enhance the sun’s light without overpowering it, and the portrait looks like it was lit with natural light.

Who would have thought a bare light could be this soft? Copyright Aloha Lavina.

Even in a room without large windows, it’s possible to use just the one light. For the shot above of Angie with the burgundy curtain, I placed a bare flash about two meters in front and above her head, zoomed out to a wide range, around 24mm, so I could illuminate her and parts of the curtains.

I asked Angie to play with the drapes and waited for just the right moment to take this image. The result is soft light, almost like that from a beauty dish, but it was actually from the light of one bare flash. Who knew that undiffused light could be so soft?

The trick was to control the amount of light that came out of the flash. I triggered the flash with my on-camera flash on commander mode, and the effect I wanted was of lamplight in a room—soft, with soft shadows. The flash firing at 1/40 was enough to create the lamplight effect.

Arias mastered his shoot-through umbrella along with the one light. I prefer to use a 60 cm softbox. It’s one of these inexpensive, non-brand items that fold up like a reflector. It’s light and I can use it with portable flash guns: great for portability and flexible set-ups.

I used the softbox to enhance the window light in the shot of Chloe below. This image was taken around one in the afternoon. Lots of harsh light outside. But in this broken building with the North facing window, that harsh light came in softer than it would have been without the roof. I wanted to enhance that softness; my model had a soft look, and soft light would accentuate that. So I placed one light in a softbox, firing at 1/16 to approximate the window light, about half a meter away from the model. The result was an image that had brilliant, diffused window light.

One light plus one light shaping tool equals soft portrait. Copyright Aloha Lavina.

With one light, you have the advantage of learning everything you can about how minimal gear can help you make magic. It’s true that learning how to light with only one strobe can be a challenge. But it’s a challenge that doesn’t hurt your pocket, and can only help your skill.

Aloha Lavina is a Bangkok based photographer whose photographs have appeared in CNNGo (USA), UTATA Tribal Photography Magazine (USA), Seventeen magazine (USA), Estamos! (Ecuador), The Korea Times (South Korea), and several books. You can see her work at her website, read her articles on her blog or follow her on Twitter.

via Light Stalking » How Using Just One Light Will Make You a Better Photographer.

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2011 in Featured, Flash Photos, Technique, Tutes & Tips, Worth a Look

 

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On Camera Flash Photography Tips

by Ricky Davies at PictureCorrect

on camera flash photo

“the girl stops traffic” captured by Stacey Russell (Click Image to See More From Stacey Russell)

If you already own a DSLR camera then you are halfway there to capturing some beautiful images. However having a camera alone isn’t going to make you an excellent photographer. Knowing how to use the camera on the other hand will. In this article I am going to discuss how to use on camera flash to get some pretty excellent results.

The great thing about having a flash gun is that their much cheaper than purchasing lenses with a low aperture. Now low aperture lenses are great and I have a few in my line up but there’s only so much a low aperture lens can do and without light you can’t capture any images at all.

Now as many of you know I’m a Canon shooter so I would recommend either of these flashes:

  • Canon 430 EX II Speedlite (expensive but not too expensive)
  • Yongnuo 456 (Chinese product but does the job)

The two above flashes are excellent products. If you can afford the Canon 430 ex II Speedlite then get this one as it has a better build quality than the Yongnuo. However having said that there is nothing wrong with the Yongnuo 460 and you can probably buy 3 of these things for the canon equivalent.

If you already have a flash then great, if not look into getting either of the above as the built in flash already on your camera is pretty much a waste of time. The images will look rubbish and the results will be unflattering.

Indoor Flash Techniques

The reason why I recommended both flashes above was that they have the ability to tilt and swivel the main head. Other flashes are fixed and I really don’t see the point in these flashes at all. If you have a fixed flash then sell it now because you are ruining your chances to taking good on camera flash photos.

Now let’s say the flash is mounted to your camera and you’re shooting in landscape mode. The most unflattering shot to take in this instance is to point your flash head straight at the subject and fire off a shot. If you don’t believe me then take the shot yourself. You should notice that the image looks washed out and your subject will have a deer in the headlight look to them. Not good at all!

If you have a white wall available you will want to turn your flash head to face this wall. A ceiling is just as good. Turn your flash head so that it is facing against the wall/ceiling and then point your camera at the subject. Take your shot.

flash photography tips

Photo captured by metal menace (Click Image to See More From metal menace)

You should notice that there aren’t any harsh shadows on your image. This is because the white wall has now diffused the light which in turn has created a much softer and natural light.

No wall/Ceiling available

Now in some instances in my case quite a lot there won’t be a white wall to bounce light off upon. So what do you do in these instances? Well don’t worry I’m going to tell you. You need a light diffuser to create the same effect.

Stofen Omni Bounce

The most common light diffuser for a Speedlite is a Stofen Omni Bounce. One of my friends describes them to tupperware but they do actually do a job. You simply put the Stofen on top of your flash and once again point the flash head up in a vertical position and fire away.

The only thing about the Stofen that I don’t like is that it wastes flash energy by throwing light in all different directions which sometimes is an unwanted effect. For this reason I often use the following product.

Gary Fong Diffuser

Now I have no idea who Gary Fong is but I’m guessing he is a photographer, because the product he came up with would only be thought of by a photographer. The Gary Fong diffuser is a little weird to look at but I swear by its results. The Gary Fong is a much larger diffuser than the Stofen Omni Bounce so it gives better results.

Images taken with the Gary Fong produce less harsh shadows and because of the way the product is designed no light gets wasted.

flash photo

Photo captured by Robert Nemeti (Click Image to See More From Robert Nemeti)

The Free way

Now I have no idea what this diffuser is called, I simply call it a bounce card but I’m unsure if this is technically correct. These bounce cards though are an excellent way to diffuse light if you’re on a budget.

When I first started shooting weddings people were a bit worried that I was shooting them using a card on my flash, however I believe my results speak for themselves.

About the Author
Learn how to make your own Flash Bounce Cards. You can also find more free DSLR Tips by visiting my camera tutorial website.

via On Camera Flash Photography Tips – PictureCorrect.

 

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