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Getting to Know Your DSLR: Part One


Today’s article is aimed at the newcomers amongst you, both to Lightstalking and to photography itself. Today we are going to take a look at getting to know your DSLR, understanding what some of those knobs, buttons and dials do, and which ones you need to master first to get to grips with your new tool. I am sure there will be many of you that have joined the ranks of DSLR owners from compact cameras or even camera phones and find that a DSLR looks great but is somewhat daunting to understand. Obviously with so many different DSLR’s on the market, all with slightly different controls, this article has to take a generic look at the features but for the most part, these are the most important things to learn. The Big Dial – Exposure Modes Every DSLR has one, on the top, looking like a cypher from the Da Vinci Code. The most important letters are P, A, S, and M. These are the traditional camera exposure modes. P is the program mode and in this, the camera will do everything for you; A is Aperture Priority, in this mode you decide the aperture that you want and the camera will set the shutter speed; S is Shutter Priority, here you decide the shutter speed and the camera will set the aperture; M is Manual, where you set both aperture and shutter speed. Most likely you will use the P mode when you first start out, but take time to learn the A and S modes next, as this will give you a good understanding of how exposure works. Experiment with different apertures and shutters speeds and see the different effects they have on your shots, for example a slow shutter speed may give you a shaky image, whilst a wide aperture (lower number) will give you a shallow depth of field, in other words the background will be out of focus. When you are comfortable with A and S, it’s time to go to M. Here you will learn to read the exposure meter, that appears in your viewfinder. The basic idea is to change your shutter speed or aperture until the indicator is in the middle, which means a correct exposure. With your understanding of aperture and shutter speed gleaned from the A and S modes you are now free to be in complete control of your exposure. On most cameras, the big dial will also give you a range of modes suited to different scenes, for example landscapes and portraits. Whilst this are fine if you are just starting out, learning the A, S and M modes will give you greater control over your images compared to the scene modes. The big dial by Jason Row Photography , on Flickr ISO or Film Speed This control may be in the form of a button or may be buried in the menu system somewhere. Put simply, it controls the sensitivity of the sensor to light. Lower numbers are better quality but if there is not enough light, you may get camera shake, higher numbers will reduce this but also reduce image quality. The basics of DLSR and indeed all photography is the balance between Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO. Menu based ISO settings by Jason Row Photography , on Flickr Metering Modes Most cameras will have two or three metering modes. The default is usually matrix or evaluative mode – this is a very clever mode that measures the light levels from all over the scene and averages them out to give a correct exposure. For many shots this mode is great but if your subject is very much in the center and has different light to the background, for example a brown dog in a field of snow, then switch to the center weighted mode. This reads the whole image but gives more “weight” to the central area of the scene. The third mode, found on some cameras is spot metering, this is a further development of center weighted giving a reading from only a small percentage of the center of the scene. Autofocus Modes Most common autofocus modes are S, C and M. S is single shot mode. This means the camera will attempt to focus on the subject and then lock on to it. Ideal for non moving subjects. C is continuous mode, here the camera will attempt to track a moving subject and will not fire until locked onto it. M is of course manual focus and an art that is well worth learning once you understand the other autofocus modes. There is another element to autofocus, which is the autofocus area. Like exposure modes, your autofocus system can select from a matrix mode where it decides from a range of points where the correct focus is or single point, which is a little like spot metering, where the focus is a single point with in the frame, you can decide where you want that point to be. When learning about auto and indeed manual focus, it is best to use the single point focus mode, this will teach you you to reposition your camera after focusing on your subject and aid you to think about composition. Single Shot autofocus mode  by Jason Row Photography , on Flickr That’s it for part one of this series, and I think plenty for you to get started on. Whilst getting used to a DSLR might seem daunting at first, there is no harm in playing with the various controls and trying to understand the relationship between them all. If you get lost, confused or frustrated, the forums here at Lightstalking are a friendly place to seek advice from your fellow DSLR users. In the second part of this series, we will look at some slightly more advanced features, such as exposure compensation, which is useful to know in combination with exposure modes, exposure bracketing, color balance and image file and quality settings. Author information Jason Row Jason Row is a British born travel photographer now living in Ukraine. You can follow him on The Odessa Files . He also maintains a blog chronicling his exploits as an Expat in the former Soviet Union . Facebook Google+ Blog Flickr The post Getting to Know Your DSLR: Part One appeared first on Light Stalking .

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Getting to Know Your DSLR: Part One

Travel Photography without the Travel – Going Local


Many photographers love to travel. They love the thrill of being in a new place, of capturing new scenes and experiences, and of coming home with quality images. But landscape and travel  photography do not need to be confined to weeks-long trips to far-flung locations. This article will explore how to get the most out of a weekend (or even weekday) local photography outing (all photographs in this article were taken within a few miles of where I live). Before: Planning and Packing Making a plan or having a bucket list of photography wants is a great place to start. Always wanted to photograph a slow, silky waterfall? Looking to capture candid street photography shots of interesting people? Want to bring home that idyllic sunset shot over open water? Now is the time. Start by spending a little time evaluating the photographic potential of what is already around you. We often become so accustomed to our day-to-day that we forget to recognize the possibilities of the familiar. Challenge yourself to find and seek out a nearby or local photography opportunity. Try browsing on Flickr for waterfalls and streams in your area or make a plan to spend some time in an older part of town watching for street photography opportunities. Urban waterfall Want to catch that sunset or sunrise ? Plan for the light. Look up sunrise and sunset times for your date(s) and location, and decide where you want to be shooting during the blue hour and golden hour in the morning and evening . You can even use programs like the Photographers’ Ephemeris  to determine the timing and angles of sunrise, sunset, moon rise, and moon set, which can help you capture dramatic photographs of these events and their relative surroundings. Now that you have a plan, create a packing list. Consider creating a ‘basic’ packing list for any photographic excursion that you can reuse for future trips. At a minimum, be sure to bring your camera body and any extra lenses, extra memory cards and batteries, your battery charger, a camera case, and basic cleaning supplies (blower, brush, and cloth). You may also wish to add a tripod , remote shutter release, and any additional filters or flash units, depending on your anticipated shots. Also do not forget about basic travel or emergency supplies like a flashlight or headlamp, cell phone, and snacks. Finally, I always stash a gallon sized plastic bag in my camera case or purse as well, which makes an impromptu rain or snow cover (cut out a corner to keep shooting) or just easy protection from unexpected weather. During: Follow Your Plan, Amend Your Plan, and be Flexible Getting the most out of a quick photography outing requires using your time wisely. This is where you will reap the benefits of your pre-trip planning and research. Give yourself extra time at each location to scope out the scene before you start photographing. Minutes spent walking around without your camera raised will help you zero in on the shots and angles you want rather than simply trying to capture it all and hoping something turns out well. Avoid the temptation to ‘lock’ yourself down once your tripod comes out. Be sure to consider alternate views of your subject. Read more about the importance of Perspective in Photography: don’t just stand there, move your feet! As with any photography, you should also be prepared to amend your plan as necessary. Weather, crowds, unexpected building closings, and innumerable other factors can interfere with even the best laid plans. Consider having a backup indoor plan for your outdoor day or an alternate location nearby, just in case. The benefit of exploring a nearby photography location is that it is much easier to return again if your first time does not work out the way you had planned. After: Workflow and Reflection Once you get home, be sure to download all of your photographs immediately and back them up as well, using whatever system you have established (multiple hard drives or disks, portable hard drives, cloud backup, etc.). Establish a system for tagging and evaluating your shots so that you can find your favorites quickly and easily. Don’t shortchange yourself after the outing either. Take some time to review the trip as well as to review your shots. Write yourself some notes about what worked well and what did not. Continue to add on to your bucket list by thinking of new ideas or missed opportunities. You may be surprised at how much photographic potential you can find around you! Have you been able to check items off your photography bucket list by focusing on opportunities closer to home? Share your favorites in the comments below. The post Travel Photography without the Travel – Going Local by Katie McEnaney appeared first on Digital Photography School .

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US to deploy two extra missile defence ships to Japan over North Korea concerns – ABC Online


Washington Post US to deploy two extra missile defence ships to Japan over North Korea concerns ABC Online The United States will deploy two extra missile defence ships to Japan in response to increasing concerns over North Korea. The move was announced by the US defence secretary Chuck Hagel during his visit to Tokyo, where concerns are growing about … US sends ballistic missile destroyers to counter North Korean threat after … National Post Hagel urges China to use its 'great power' responsibly Business Standard US sending two warships to Japan to counter North Korea CBS News Daily Times  - Zee News  - TODAYonline all 611 news articles »

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Four Ways to Improve Your Photos With the Clarity Slider in Lightroom


Andrew S. Gibson is the author of Mastering Lightroom: Book 2 – The Develop Module. There’s a special deal on now at Snapndeals, get 40% off for a limited time only. The Clarity slider is one of the most useful in Lightroom when it comes to giving your images extra punch and impact. Today I’m going to show you several ways you can use it to improve your photos. But first, let’s take a look at exactly what the Clarity slider does, and how it differs from its cousin the Contrast slider. This photo is ideal to demonstrate the difference: It was taken on an overcast day and the light was very flat. This is confirmed by the histogram, which has gaps on both the left and right-hand sides (screen capture image to the right). Now let’s see what happens when we set the Contrast slider, and then the Clarity slider, to their maximum settings of +100: The most obvious difference at this scale is that the Contrast slider has a more far reaching effect. It makes both the shadows darker and the highlights brighter, stretching the histogram in the process. The Clarity slider works differently. It increases contrast, but in the mid-tones only. The highlights aren’t affected, and if anything the photo becomes darker as the Clarity slider has a greater effect on dark tones than the Contrast slider. Here’s a close-up of both images so you can see the effect in more detail. Look closely and you’ll see that the Clarity slider brings out more texture than increasing Contrast. That’s the key to using this slider successfully. Increasing mid-tone contrast brings out texture and detail, increasing the tactility and apparent sharpness of the image. That’s what the Clarity slider is designed to do. Now I’m going to show you some practical applications. 1. Emphasizing texture The Clarity slider in the Basic panel is a  global adjustment – meaning that, moving this slider affects the entire image. A small but subtle boost to Clarity can lift just about any image. Photos with more texture , such as the one below, may benefit from a larger increase in Clarity to bring out the texture and detail. This technique is especially effective in black and white. Plus, there’s nothing to stop you increasing contrast as well, especially in black and white, which usually benefits from higher contrast than colour images. 2. Emphasising texture locally There is a theory in photography called visual mass that states that certain elements pull the viewer’s eye more than others (you read more about it in my article Composition, Balance and Visual Mass ). One of these elements is sharpness. The eye goes to sharp parts of the image before it goes to unsharp, or out of focus areas. You can use this to your advantage by making local adjustments to Clarity rather than global ones. In the example below, I wanted the white stones to be the centre of attention. The principle of tonal contrast ensures that they are, and I emphasixed it here by placing Radial filters over the stones and setting Contrast to +100 in each one. Note: The Radial filter is new to Lightroom 5. If you have an older version of Lightroom you can use the Adjustment Brush tool instead. 3. Emphasize the eyes in a portrait There’s another area where increasing Clarity locally can make a huge difference and that’s in portraiture. Use either the Radial filter or Adjustment Brush to increase the Clarity of your model’s eyes. Again, it’s a subtle, but often effective change. You can also do the same with your model’s mouth to emphasize the lips. Remember that as Clarity tends to make things darker, you’ll probably need to increase Exposure a little as well. 4. Soften skin So far we’ve just looked at what happens when you increase Clarity, but you can also go the opposite way and decrease it in order to obscure detail, or soften part of the photo. You do have to be careful with this as the result can look a little false. A light touch is essential. You can use negative Clarity as a kind soft focus effect in portraits . The most effective way is to increase Sharpness at the same time that you decrease Clarity. This helps retain realistic looking texture in the skin and avoids the false effect I spoke of earlier. Lightroom has a built-in Adjustment Brush preset called Soften Skin which does exactly that. You can see the effect here. It’s subtle, look at the area under the model’s eyes if you’re not sure what the difference is: To use the Soften Skin preset, start by activating the Adjustment Brush and paint in the area you want to apply the preset to (shown in red below). Leave the eyes, eyebrows, mouth and tip of the nose alone as you don’t want to soften those areas. Select Soften Skin from the Effects menu. Lightroom sets Clarity to -100 and Sharpness to + 25 . This is the strongest Soften Skin preset. If it’s too strong, you can reduce it by hovering the mouse over the Adjustment Brush pin until the double arrow icon (left) appears. When you see it, hold the left mouse button down and move the mouse left. Lightroom reduces the Clarity and Sharpness settings proportionally. Moving the mouse left, reduces the settings, moving it right increases them. Let go when it looks good to your eye. (You can also adjust the sliders manually) Your turn How do you use the Clarity slider? I’m curious to see what applications you have come up with for it. Let us know in the comments, and feel free to share your photos so we can see what you have done. Mastering Lightroom: Book Two My new ebook Mastering Lightroom: Book Two – The Develop Module teaches you how to process your Raw files in Lightroom for spectacular results. Written for Lightroom 4 & 5 it takes you through every panel in the Develop module and shows you how to creatively edit your photos. It’s now 40% off at Snapndeals for a limited time only. The post Four Ways to Improve Your Photos With the Clarity Slider in Lightroom by Andrew S. Gibson appeared first on Digital Photography School .

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9 Accessories That Rock for Mobile Phone Photography


It wasn’t so long ago that we talked about the value of the iPhone as a photographer’s tool and what so-called iPhoneographers can do to get the most out of their devices. While the focus of that particular piece is on the iPhone, the advice contained within can easily be applied to any mobile device.  Regardless of one’s brand loyalty — iOS, Andriod, Windows, Blackberry — we’re all acutely aware of the prevalence of mobile devices; they have become much more than just phones. I’m sure, in fact, that for a fair amount of people, voice calls account for the least of their “cellphone” activities. Texting, web browsing, and photography have become prominent features on the rapidly evolving landscape of mobile technology. So, beyond simply improving your technique, what else is there that can make a mobile photographer’s experience more enjoyable and more successful? Accessories, of course! Because photographers and mobile phone fanatics love accessories. Here are 9 very cool ones. GripTight Mount by Joby – A steady camera is often the primary determining factor between a keeper and a throw-away shot. If you have a tripod but don’t have a way to attach your smartphone to your tripod, then the GripTight Mount is just what you need. It can hold any Android, iPhone, or Windows phone and can attach to virtually any tripod out there. Holga 5-Lens Filter Kit by Holga – This cool rotary phone dial filter set attaches to your iPhone and gives you 9 different ways to achieve that oddly beautiful Holga look. There is no software to install, no firmware upgrades needed — just snap the case onto your iPhone 5 (there is a version available for iPhone 4/4S) and you’re ready to shoot in classically quirky style. Holga Lens & Filter iPhone 5 Case – Urban Outfitters by Wickerfurniture , on Flickr   Camalapse by Camarush – The Camalapse assists you in creating panoramic images and panning time-lapse videos. Simply attach your camera (works great for both smartphone cameras and small point-and-shoot cameras) and the Camalapse can spin up to 360 degrees over the course of an hour. Photojojo Lens Series by Photojojo – These high quality lenses work with iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android, Windows, Blackberry…basically any device with a small lens on it — even laptops. Available individually in wide angle/macro, fisheye, or polarizer; various bundles include telephoto and super fisheye varieties. My #Photojojo order arrived today; iPhone lenses, Bikepod and a prehistoric guest!! by Numinosity (Gary J Wood) , on Flickr   The Bikepod by Photojojo – Made of cork and metal, the Bikepod attaches snugly to your bicycle handlebars without scratching anything, allowing you to capture your world from a rather unique perspective. Muku Shuttr by Muku Labs – Available for Android and iOS, this remote shutter has a sleek design that allows it to be carried with you at all times on your keychain. Now you can stop taking selfies at arm’s length. Steadicam Smoothee by Tiffen – Inspired by those big, expensive Hollywood-style camera rigs, the Steadicam Smoothee is designed to provide the ultimate in stabilization and smoothness for your mobile devices (iOS, GoPro Hero 2, Hero 3 White, Silver & Black, with support for more devices coming soon). Say goodbye to shaky handheld video! Steadicam for iPod by mBlazeVideo , on Flickr   Look Lock System by Tether Tools – Ever had a hard time getting your kid to look at the camera while you’re trying to take their portrait? The Look Lock Systems seeks to remedy that problem. The device is essentially an articulating arm that attaches at one end to a DSLR while the other end holds a smartphone. Use the smartphone to show your kid a Spongebob cartoon and you’ll have her undivided attention.   iblazr   by iblazr – Billed as “the first fully synchronized flash for iPhone, iPad, and Android,” this LED flash boasts adjustable brightness, a long lasting battery, a USB charger, and numerous other unique features. After successfully funding the project on Kickstarter , the iblazr is now available for pre-order . Photo 29.04.13, 14 35 56 by TislenkoV , on Flickr   The world of smartphone accessories is a wild one, full of weird but wonderful contraptions aimed at improving, simplifying, or customizing the experience of avid camera phone photographers. If you can’t find a use for the 9 accessories listed here, I’m willing to bet the one you need is out there somewhere.  Author information Jason D. Little Jason Little is a photographer (shooting macros, portraits, candids, and the occasional landscape), part time writer, and full time lover of music. You can see Jason’s photography on his photography blog or on Flickr . Twitter Facebook Blog Flickr The post 9 Accessories That Rock for Mobile Phone Photography appeared first on Light Stalking .

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9 Accessories That Rock for Mobile Phone Photography

Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Polarizing Filters


A short while ago, I addressed the ins and outs of selecting and using a neutral density filter ; to follow up on the basic theme of cool things you can attach to the front of a lens, let’s now take a look at polarizing filters. What is a Polarizing Filter? Polarizing filters are often discussed within the same context of ND filters, and for good reason. They both attach to the front of a lens, they both block a certain amount of light from entering the lens, and they both can have a significant impact on the images you produce. Polarizing filters are also often described in a similar fashion to ND filters — as sunglasses for your lens, but in this case polarized sunglasses. Again, it’s a mostly apt analogy, though unlike sunglasses, both filters avoid tinting your photos. And while ND filters block light coming in from all directions, polarizing filters cut out light coming in from one specific direction, hence the term “polarizing.” These filters employ specially treated glass to analyze, convert, and concentrate scattered light; your camera, thereby, “sees” and treats that light differently than it would if no polarizing filter were present — specifically, the filter changes how a camera handles reflection and glare. The Two Types of Polarizers Linear Polarizers . A linear polarizer allows light to pass through it only when the polarizer is held at a specific orientation. If, for example, you hold the polarizer at a baseline orientation, it might allow only vertically polarized light to pass through it; if you were to rotate it 90 degrees, only horizontally polarized light could pass. Circular Polarizers . A circular polarizer consists of two polarizing elements. The first is a linear polarizer, which functions just as discussed above. The second element is known as a quarter wave plate and is situated behind the linear element so that the light, instead of being polarized only in a left/right manner, can now be polarized in a “circular” fashion. Additionally, you can adjust the angle of polarization by simply rotating the front element. Linear polarizers are less expensive and are generally regarded as more effective than circular polarizers. But if you are using a modern DSLR — or any camera with through the lens (TTL) metering and autofocus — you will need to use a circular polarizer. It’s yet another quirk of physics and is beyond the scope of this discussion but, in short, linearly polarized light wreaks havoc on TTL metering and autofocus systems. If you’re using a camera from before the advent of these technologies (essentially pre-1970), then you’re probably fine using a linear polarizer. Any camera/lens combo can work a circular polarizer. When You Will Want to Use a Polarizing Filter Though the task that a polarizing filter is designed to perform is very specific (reduce reflections), it can perform that task across a number of scenarios that you will likely be confronted with quite often during your shooting adventures. These are some situations where the use of a polarizing will exhibit the greatest benefits. Sky – Many new photographers quickly discover that photographing the sky can be a challenge. It is easy to overexpose. If you don’t have access to an neutral density filter, a polarizing filter can fill in effectively. In fact, you might even prefer the polarizer to the ND filter in some instances, as you will have more flexibility over the degree of change made to the sky. A polarizing filter also cuts out the smoggy haze sometimes associated with shooting in cities. Polarizer on min effect. Demonstration of the effect of using a circular polarizer by Mike Baird, on Flickr   Polarizer on max effect. Demonstration of the effect of using a circular polarizer. by mikebaird, on Flickr   Water – Water is tricky to photograph mainly because of its reflective surface. With the sun hanging over you and no polarizing filter on your lens, there is really no effective angle at which to hold your camera to eliminate the reflection and glare being created by the water. You simply need to use a polarizing filter and adjust it until you get the desired effect. You’ll also get the added benefit of enhancing the clarity of the water. Polarizer on min effect . Demonstration of the effect of using a circular polarizer by mikebaird, on Flickr   Polarizer on max effect. Demonstration of the effect of using a circular polarizer by mikebaird, on Flickr   Glass – Shooting through glass can be yet another challenge, and the more glass there is, the more difficult it becomes to deal with, as the light just bounces around in multiple directions over multiple levels of glass. A polarizing filter cuts down — or sometimes eliminates — glare and, as is true of its effect on water, increases clarity. Working effect Nikon circular polarizer filter CPL II 2 by SanShoot, on Flickr   Color – Of course, reflections aren’t limited to water and glass. Everything you encounter and intend to shoot has some degree of reflectance to it; even if you can’t perceive it, it’s there. This is simply the nature of optics. In addition to being a distraction for photographers, reflected light also serves to lessen the perceived vibrance of objects. This is why a polarizing filter, which reduces or eliminates glare and reflections, can make colors appear deeper and more vibrant. Without CP Filter by Mark Turnauckas, on Flickr   With CP Filter by Mark Turnauckas, on Flickr   How to Use a Polarizing Filter Effectively Polarizing filters, especially circular polarizers, are easy to use. You can see how the use of one is going to impact your shot, and you can make adjustments on the fly by simply rotating the front element of the filter. For best results, a rule of thumb is to keep the sun at a 90 degree angle to your shooting position — meaning shoot with the sun (or other light source causing reflection) to either side of you instead of behind or in front of you. Also note that polarizers do not work on metallic surfaces. To be clear, I’m talking about bare metal; if a metal has been painted, then a polarizer will work to varying degrees, which is why some car photographers use polarizers and some don’t. The type of paint finish (pearl, metallic, flake, matte, etc.) has a direct impact on how a polarizer responds. So, if you are using a polarizer for car photography, you will just have to experiment in order to know whether your polarizer will be effective. Choosing the Right Polarizer It probably wouldn’t be very practical to put forth a specific checklist of buying points; everyone is going to have different needs and considerations that warrant a great deal of flexibility. There are, however, a few basic ideas to keep in mind when getting ready to buy a filter of any kind. Know the filter thread size of your lens, and remember the larger the size the higher the price. It is not necessary to buy the most expensive filter on the market, but… Don’t skimp on quality. Anytime you place additional glass in front of your lens, you risk lowering image quality. High quality filters use the best glass and coatings, so as to not degrade your images. Unfortunately, higher quality means higher price. Good circular polarizers tend to be more expensive than both linear polarizers and ND filters. Filter coatings help reduce or eliminate glare and reflections that might otherwise be caused by the filter glass itself; multi-layer coatings are better than mono/single-layer coatings, and both are better than no coating. Depending on what you shoot, a polarizing filter may become the most useful and most-used photography accessory in your kit. So, consider a polarizing filter an investment; learn how to use it, put it to good use, and maximize its role in your creative ventures. Author information Jason D. Little Jason Little is a photographer (shooting macros, portraits, candids, and the occasional landscape), part time writer, and full time lover of music. You can see Jason’s photography on his photography blog or on Flickr . Twitter Facebook Blog Flickr The post Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Polarizing Filters appeared first on Light Stalking .

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The Fundamental Considerations of Basic Portrait Photography


Portrait photography has and always will be a huge source of fascination for photographers, but there are quite a few tricks to getting a great portrait. In this article, we are going to have a look at some of the major considerations that portrait photographers take into account when they are shooting. The Eyes Have It Getting the eyes of your main subject in focus is practically essential in most traditional portraiture ( see our guide here on a few exceptions to this). You can get away with having a lot of the rest of the image out of focus, but if the eyes are blurry, you are usually going to have a hard time. Photo by Daniel Zedda Tack sharp eyes.   In addition to focus, this means you need to actively consider your depth of field (which is controlled with your aperture and distance to subject). Many portrait photographers prefer to blur their backgrounds (especially when shooting outdoor portraits) so that means shooting at relatively wide apertures from 3.5 through to 5.6. You can also experiment with apertures wider than 3.5, but often it will narrow the depth of field too much and lead to some elements of the photograph being out of focus that you might want to keep sharp). Nail Your Backgrounds Even in portrait photography, backgrounds are of huge importance. Sometimes you might be forced to use a plain background (head shots for an actor for example), but if you have any leeway, then get creative. Indoor, that might mean getting your subject in front of something interesting (curtains, material, textured walls or a contextual background for environmental portraits for example) and outdoors it can be anything from a brick wall to a stunning sunset. Now, you are not necessarily going to want the background in focus, so again, be aware of the blurring effect that a wide aperture and distance between yourself and your subject can have on it. Playing with your aperture to produce softer and sharper backgrounds to your portrait or moving your shooting position towards or away from the subject are some of the main controls the photographer has on DOF, so whatever you choose, make sure it’s deliberate. Photo by Vincent van der Pas This shot was taken at f2.0 – notice the perfectly sharp eyes, but blurred background and even blurred hair and cheeks.   Be Very Aware of the Effects of Focal Length on Your Subject Traditionally, photographers use prime lenses between 50mm and 85mm (on full frame cameras) to shoot portraits. The 85mm primes by both Canon and Nikon are considered by many to be the most popular portrait lenses. Many photographers also carry a 24-70mm zoom as a backup for shooting portraits (or even as their primary shooting lens). Why these focal lengths ? The main reason is that these focal lengths don’t produce much distortion. Distortion can be a bit of a problem with wider angle lenses. They also don’t compress the foreground and background to look close like longer focal length lenses can do. Photo by Geraint Rowland Wide angle lenses can be fun for portraits, but also produce quite a bit of distortion.   It should also be noted that some portrait photographers prefer longer telephoto lenses which afford them the ability to reframe their shots easily and without moving their shooting position. It’s something to consider (and to do if it fits your personal style). Soft Light and Soft Shadows Rule in Portrait Photography One of the most common issues with portrait photographs is that there are harsh shadows across the face of the subject. This can be caused by harsh sunlight or harsh artificial light (often from a built-in-flash) among other sources (and if that was the intention of the photographer, then that is fine). Luckily, if it isn’t something you intended, there are a few ways to get more agreeable and softer lighting. The common ways to address the lighting issues are to shoot in softer lighting conditions. Outdoors, this means choosing times of the day with softer lighting (shooting portraits at midday is usually a bad idea) towards the morning or the afternoon. It is also possible to get great portrait lighting on overcast days. Photo by Jonathon Kos-Read Notice the softer outdoor lighting produces softer shadows across the face of the subject.   Indoors, using natural window lighting can be very effective. If lack of light is a problem, then newer DSLRs can be very good when you increase the ISO (ie. high ISOs don’t introduce as much noise into photos on newer DSLRs as they did on older models). The other option (for both indoor and outdoor portrait photography) when you want to reduce harsh shadows is to use a reflector. You can buy a good reflector for quite cheap. You can also use other natural reflectors that you have on hand such as a piece of cardboard, a light coloured wall etc etc (anything light can really be used as a reflector in a pinch). Using Your On-Camera Flash for Portraits The final consideration in lighting is to introduce artificial light to the shot. This is a huge topic in itself so we will just cover the fundamentals of using your on camera flash for this article. If you want to learn more about flash photography there are some good articles on Light Stalking and also the amazing site at Strobist.com In general, photographers do not like on camera flash. It produces harsh shadows and light and undesirable outcomes. But what do you do if that’s all you have? The key point to remembers is that you will probably want to reduce the harsh shadows that an on-camera flash can produce. This should usually be diffused by bouncing it off a card onto a wall or ceiling (A white business card with a rubber band can be good enough to do this and produce softer lighting). You can also use a small soft box or diffuser. These often aren’t great but can be ok in pinch. The main thing that any of these options for diffusing on camera flash do is to diffuse the small, harsh light source. Making the light source that hits your subject as large as possible will lead to more diffused light. Know the Portrait Conventions Then Ignore Them We tend to get a little hung up on “how things should be done” in photography. At the end of the day, you only have to please yourself so shoot how you feel. Knowing the rules and conventions of how certain things can be achieved can be very useful. However it should never be constricting. Author information Admin I’m Rob, the editor of Light Stalking. I try to keep this ship on course. 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The Fundamental Considerations of Basic Portrait Photography

Interesting Photography Trivia to Casually Drop Into a Conversation


A little knowledge is a dangerous thing or so the saying goes. Of course, generally in photographic circles, a little knowledge is not so much dangerous as potentially embarrassing. Misquoting a tidbit of photographic information will soon be jumped upon by the elders of our community leaving you in virtual tatters, your online credibility shredded or worse still, your real life peers looking down at you. One way to combat this is to arm yourself with some entirely useless, but undeniably interesting facts about our chosen pastime, the sort of things that can regain your street cred amongst the photographic elite. So without further ado, lets look at some conversation enhancing photography trivia. Origins of the Name Kodak Since the day George Eastman launched perhaps the world’s most famous photographic company, there has been speculation as to the origins of it’s name. Was it derived from some deep light related Latin or Greek? Perhaps it emanated from the mystical east, where names often have spiritual meaning. The reality is a little more down to earth, Eastman liked the letter K, he thought it was strong and incisive. After playing with many combinations of letters all starting with K, the final decision was Kodak and a legend was born. It’s all in the K by twm1340 , on Flickr Kelvin and White Balance So what has an Irish born physicist called William Thomson got to do with balancing color on modern digital cameras? Mr Thomson created a thermometric scale to determine the temperature of absolute zero. His scale was later adapted to measure color. Heating a perfectly black object causes it to radiate light at different colors. At about 4000 degrees it is emitting a reddish color, the higher you go the bluer the light becomes. It is this scale that modern cameras use to analyse the color of the light reaching the censor. So why the name Kelvin? William Thomson became an eminent mathematician and physicist and in 1892 was made a British peer. The name he took was Baron Kelvin. The Strange Numbers for Apertures It seems at first glance, an odd sort of combination of numbers, f1, f1.4, f2, f2.8, f4, f5.6 and so on, perhaps the sort of sequence you might see in a Mensa test. In fact the numbers are actually a logical sequence, opening an aperture by one stop, increases the amount of light reaching the sensor (or film) by a factor of two. The f stop numbers on your aperture ring run in a sequence based on the powers of the square root of two. So if f1 is the maximum aperture possible, the next in sequence is f1 multiplied by the square root of 2 to the power of one, which equals 1.4. The next is created from the square root of 2 to the power of 2, which is 2 and so on. All of which add up to give us this strange but instantly recognizable sequence. A seemingly strange scale by aperture_lag , on Flickr The World’s Largest Camera In this day and age of increasing miniaturization you might be supposed to find that the largest camera was in fact built very recently. Created by renowned photographer Dennis Manarchy, it takes large format to another level with its film format of 6ft by 4ft and an overall length of 35ft. Its resolving power is said to be 1000 times that of modern day digital cameras, although getting the film to the lab can be quite difficult. Mr Manarchy and his massive camera by lgdrew , on Flickr Hasselblads for Free Hasselblads are even today, legendary cameras, with an unrivaled reputation for quality. So where would you find free models of this seminal camera? On the moon! During the NASA Apollo missions, “blads” were taken to the moon by astronauts to record the surface or our nearest neighbor. However, their weight meant that they need to be left behind when the missions returned to earth, the astronauts bringing just the film rolls back. There are thought to be around 12 blads still on the moon. Why Victorian Portraits Look So Stiff We take high film speed and great image quality for granted these days but back at the dawn of the photographic era photographic film was painfully slow and required shutter speeds ranging from many minutes up to, in some cases, hours. For the Victorian portrait photographer, getting his subject to remain still for such long periods of time was challenging to say the least. The solution was neck braces. These, cruel looking contraptions would clamp the subject around the neck, hidden underneath his or her collar and preventing any excessive movement of the head. The result was beautifully sharp but unerringly characterless portraits of our Victorian ancestry. Portraits in Victorian times could be a pain in the neck by seriykotik1970 , on Flickr So there you are, a few irrelevant yet interesting tidbits with which to impress your peers or bore your dinner guests. If this post made you curious and you are hungry for more, do check out this post about 15 Fascinating Firsts in Photography . Author information Jason Row Jason Row is a British born travel photographer now living in Ukraine. You can follow him on The Odessa Files . He also maintains a blog chronicling his exploits as an Expat in the former Soviet Union . Facebook Google+ Blog Flickr The post Interesting Photography Trivia to Casually Drop Into a Conversation appeared first on Light Stalking .

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Interesting Photography Trivia to Casually Drop Into a Conversation

Amazing Portraits of the Most Isolated Tribes of the World


In 2009, a photographer set about a unique journey. A journey with an intent to document as many isolated civilizations and cultures as he could. Through his project, called Before They Pass Away , photographer Jimmy Nelson wanted to capture the lives and traditions of the last surviving tribes around the world.  Jimmy wanted to create a piece of work that would remind the future generations of these societies, their distinctive lifestyles, art and traditions. Spending about two weeks with each of the 35 tribes he visited, he witnessed and became acquainted with their  time-honored traditions, joined in their rituals and discovered how the rest of the world is threatening to change their way of life forever. Speaking about his work, Jimmy says, “Most importantly, I wanted to create an ambitious aesthetic photographic document that would stand the test of time. A body of work that would be an irreplaceable ethnographic record of a fast disappearing world.” Jimmy Nelson traveled for about 3 years and his journey took him to remote corners of  Ethiopia, Papua New Guinea, Kenya, Tanzania, New Zealand, Mongolia, Siberia, Nepal, China, Vanuatu, Argentina, Ecuador, Namibia, India, Chukotka and Indonesia. His detailed portraits, created with a 4×5 camera, showcase jewellery, hairstyles, clothing, and cultural elements unique to each tribe. Here is a small selection of images from his journey.  (Photos © Jimmy Nelson Pictures BV )   Nenets, Russia   Drokpa, India/Pakistan   Maori, New Zealand   Maori, New Zealand   Kazakhs, Mongolia   Himba, Namibia   Tibetans, Tibet   Ladakhi, Himalaya – Jammu & Kashmir This article features just a small selection of photographs from Jimmy’s travels. You can purchase his book, Before They Pass Away , to see 500 of his best photographs in print. You can stay updated about this project through Jimmy Nelson’s  Facebook page. Author information Ritesh Saini Ritesh is a professional photographer and image retoucher. Twitter Flickr The post Amazing Portraits of the Most Isolated Tribes of the World appeared first on Light Stalking .

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Amazing Portraits of the Most Isolated Tribes of the World

You Won’t Want to Miss These Cool Photography Deals


We hope you are having a great time photographing! If you’re looking for deals on photography gear or resources, then you’ve arrived at the right place. Here’s the latest edition of our ‘Deals and Discounts’ post to bring to you some sweet photography deals from around the web. Do check them out. Photography Education – eBooks, Guides and Training Resources Complete Portrait Lighting Training It’s not as difficult to master portrait light as you may think. All you need is a proper guide that tells you what equipment to use and how to use it. In this eBook, photographer Andy Lim will teach you everything you need to know about how to effectively and quickly tackle portrait lighting. Price – $24 (20% discount), only for 72 hours       Shooting in Manual Mode – Ditch Auto Manual Mode is the way to go to use your camera to its full potential. In this free online course at Udemy, photographer Jerad Hill will teach you how to transition from Auto Mode to Manual Mode and take better photographs. Price – Free   67 Portrait Poses (Printable) If you’ve had trouble in the past when it comes to getting the best poses in your portrait images for lack of ideas, this is one resource you would not want to miss. With 67 beautifully illustrated poses, this printable guide can be handy on many occasions. Price – $9.99    Build a High Volume Senior Photography Business In this course, Matthew Kemmetmueller will show you how to set up your entire high volume senior photography business step by step — including successful sales tactics, shooting techniques, and efficient workflow practices. This ‘live class’ runs from April 3 – 5, 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM Los Angeles time. Price – Free during broadcast    Photography Gear Canon Rebel T5i DSLR Camera with 18-55mm lens Canon Rebel series has long enjoyed popularity with beginners and enthusiasts  alike. The T5i being the latest installment in the series. Packed with features like vari-angle touchscreen, ISO range upto 25600, this 18 MP camera boasts of great picture quality. Price – $749 (after 12% discount)   Panasonic Lumix DMC -TS5 Digital Camera If you are the adventurous kind and need a camera that is waterproof, shockproof, freezeproof, and dustproof, this camera might just be the one to give you company in your adventures. 16.1 MP, 4.6x zoom, Wi-fi connectivity, 10 fps burst mode, Full HD video with stereo mic are some of the specs this camera boasts of. Price – $249   Polaris Digital Light Meter A compact flash and ambient light meter that has many features of the more expensive flash meters, the Polaris digital light meter gives you plenty of bang for your buck. Use it for ambient conditions or with strobes to get an accurate exposure reading. Price – $171.36     Presets & Actions Understated Collection – Lightroom Presets These gorgeous presets from Presetify will help you give your portrait images an elegantly understated tone while taking advantage of an old-school film look. Price – $37     Retouch Necessities - Photoshop Actions These 50 Photoshop actions from Greater Than Gatsby are great for retouching portrait images. With essential tools to manage color, smooth skin, and clarify different aspects of your portraits, these actions will give a professional look to your photos. Price – $50. Bundle it with another set to save 10%.  Author information Ritesh Saini Ritesh is a professional photographer and image retoucher. Twitter Flickr The post You Won’t Want to Miss These Cool Photography Deals appeared first on Light Stalking .

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You Won’t Want to Miss These Cool Photography Deals