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Want to Fall in Love With a Lens? Try a Prime Lens


Zoom lenses are everywhere in modern photography — from mobile devices to point and shoot cameras to entry level DSLRs, a zoom lens is pretty much a standard marketing companion. Even many higher end DSLRs typically feature a zoom lens as part of the kit. Sure, you can always buy just a camera body and choose your own lens, but, with a few exceptions, it seems that the days when cameras came with a simple 35mm or 50mm lens are a thing of film photography’s distant past. This isn’t an effort to denigrate zoom lenses because that would be pointless; zoom lenses play a vital role in photography. But given the dynamics of modern (digital) photography, it is quite possible that many new photographers have never used or even heard of a “prime” lens. Lenses Trilogy by Ryan || photo, on Flickr If you happen to be one of those who have never used a prime lens — a single focal length lens — you’re probably wondering what all the fuss is about. Is it just hype and no substance? Is the awesomeness of prime lenses all in other people’s heads? Both of those questions can be assuredly answered, “No.” So let’s go over the reasons why you should give prime lenses a try and why I’m confident that you will absolutely love the results. Prime Lenses and Image Quality One of the things you will hear most often when it comes to why photographers adore prime lenses is for their superior image quality. To be sure, there are indeed a handful of zoom lenses that produce images of a quality approaching — if not matching — some prime lenses. But this isn’t the norm and doesn’t apply to the majority of zoom lenses. The main reason exceptional image quality is associated with fixed focal length lenses is because they contain less glass, a less complicated optics formula, and fewer moving parts than their zoom counterparts. This all translates to better contrast (which most people interpret as sharpness), less distortion, and more pleasing bokeh (out of focus areas). Mackie #290 by Peter McConnochie, on Flickr There is probably no zoom lens in existence that can match a prime lens in every aspect of image quality, and if such a zoom did exist, it would likely weigh a ton and be out of the price range of all but the richest 1%. Both Nikon and Canon make highly regarded 70-200mm zoom lenses, yet both companies also produce comparatively cheap 50mm lenses that are held in high esteem for their optical qualities. Prime Lenses and Maximum Aperture This could, perhaps, compete with overall image quality as the number one reason photographers love prime lenses. Having a wide maximum aperture (small f-number) gives prime lenses two very important advantages: They can capture more light, meaning you won’t have to sacrifice shutter speed and you can keep ISO levels lower. Wider apertures allow more control over depth of field and, thereby, subject-background isolation. It is not uncommon to find a prime lens with a maximum aperture of f/1.8 or f/2.0. If you are willing to pay a little more, you can get a lens with a maximum aperture of f/1.4 or f/1.2. In 2013 Sigma lenses introduced the first zoom lens with a constant maximum aperture of f/1.8; all other zoom lenses on the market max out at f/2.8, with the average maximum aperture being f/3.5 to f/5.6. Prime lenses simply hold a distinct advantage in the lens speed department. When you want to isolate your subject from the background, shoot indoors under poor lighting, or shoot outdoors at night, a prime lens is the way to go. Ghost Street by Jonathan Kos-Read, on Flickr Prime Lenses and Your Compositional Skills If one were to cast an aspersion of some kind on prime lenses, it would probably be that they aren’t as versatile as zoom lenses; they can’t change focal lengths. Whether that is truly a “con” is debatable. No, you can’t twist the barrel of a prime lens and suddenly be closer to your subject; you’ll have to use your feet to do that, which will change the shot’s perspective and framing. All of this means that when using a fixed focal length lens, you need to be ever so conscientious of your composition. Sometimes just taking a step forward or backward is all you need; other times, that’s not going to work at all and you’ll need to reframe/recompose the shot. The bottom line is that you will be forced to think before you shoot. If it sounds like too much work, just remember that most things worth doing aren’t usually easy. But the perceived “inconvenience” of using a prime lens may very well end up making you a better photographer. Prime Lens Weight, Size, and Price Prime lenses are smaller, lighter, and cheaper than zoom lenses. There are, of course, exceptions to this, particularly in terms of price, as there are some f/1.2 prime lenses that can put a real dent in your bank account. As a guiding principle, however, if you want a small, lightweight, affordable lens, you are very likely to find all these traits in a prime lens. What Are Prime Lenses Used For? Almost anything you want, really. And this is where prime lenses’ supposed lack of versatility becomes more a matter of perception than an objective fact. General purpose/walk-around lens . Sometimes you just want to grab your camera and go; you don’t have any specific themes or subjects in mind, you simply feel the urge to go out and shoot, unencumbered by a heavy lens. Street photography . Size and weight make a prime lens the perfect candidate for street photography. You want to be comfortable, not lugging a weighty lens around your neck; and you want to be discreet, not bringing undue attention to yourself, a feat considerably less attainable if you’ve got a foot-long lens protruding from your face. Resting #1 by João Lavinha, on Flickr Close-up photography . While not true macro photography, you can use a prime lens in conjunction with a close-up filter or a set of extension tubes to approximate the look of a macro lens. You can also reverse mount one lens onto another to achieve a similar result. And just so there’s no confusion, true macro lenses are, in fact, also prime lenses. Portraits . Lenses 85mm and longer are often considered traditional portrait lengths. But there’s no right or wrong here; you can also use a 35mm or a 50mm lens for portraits, just be aware of the distortion that may be introduced at shorter focal lengths and compose accordingly. What Lies Beneath by jDevaun, on Flickr The benefits of using a prime lens are many: image quality, aperture, cost, improved technique. We can’t deny, however, that there is a time and a place for zoom lenses; there are situations that simply demand them. If you shoots sports, you will likely find a zoom lens perfectly suited to what you’re shooting; a similar case can be made for wedding photography. The real drawback of prime lenses might be that you would need to carry two or three primes to cover the same focal length of one zoom. Yet, for some photographers, the image quality of a prime lens is enough to override concerns about having to carry multiple prime lenses. If you are interested in building a collection of primes, you simply need to know what you shoot so that your collection is a smart collection. And it will almost certainly be a sharp collection. 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 Want to Fall in Love With a Lens? Try a Prime Lens appeared first on Light Stalking .

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Want to Fall in Love With a Lens? Try a Prime Lens

A New Photographer’s Guide to Composition


Recently I wrote a New Photographer’s Guide to Camera Settings . Once you become comfortable with your camera settings, the next step is to learn the rules of good composition and design for your photography. So here are the 10 most important tips to take into account when framing your scene. Your guide to composition. Grand Central Terminal and Chrysler Building, NYC #1 How will the viewer’s eyes flow through the scene? I prefer to think about composition as if it is a game to please the eyes, and if you want to please the eyes, they need something to do and somewhere to go. When creating an image you want to think about the path that the viewers eyes will take through the scene, and whether this will be a fluid path or a jarring path. Fluid Path – an image with leading lines , such as a road or stream, or an image with a foreground, middle ground, and background, which leads your eyes gradually from one level to the other. Jarring path  - an image with multiple, well spaced subjects for the eyes to bounce around between. Since there would be no lines leading between the objects in this type of image, they must be well spaced within the scene. If you look at the photo above, the eyes are led directly to the Grand Central statue in the top left one third line in the scene, particularly because most people read from top to bottom and left to right.   The eyes are then led over to the Chrysler Building Spire and down to the detailed bridge.  These three elements make a triangle shape to lead the eyes through, however, the bridge acts as a very important element of the composition, keeping the eyes from leaving the scene and leading them back into the image, where they can either head up towards the statue or down to the people and cars on the street. #2 Watch the Edge of your Images Continuing from tip #1 above , for an image to feel balanced the edges of the image should be balanced. The eyes have a natural tendency to want to fall off an image through its edges. By putting elements in the corners you stop and catch the attention of the eyes, pushing them back into the scene. This is why landscape images often have small branches of trees or foliage in the top corners of the sky, and why vignetting is commonly used. Central Park South, NYC Notice the branches in the top corners that function to keep the eyes in the frame. The corner elements often work even more effectively when only part of them is showing. #3 Rule of Thirds Versus Centered Images The rule of thirds is more of a suggestion than a rule. I’ve seen people take it to the extreme, but there are so many instances where a centered or different composition is preferable. The rule of thirds refers to placing your main subject, or subjects, at one of the four one-third intersections in your photo, which you will notice in the second image below. This feels more pleasing to the eyes and it also allows you to simultaneously focus on a foreground subject on one side, while having a significant amount of space for an interesting background to balance out the scene. Silk Exchange Building, NYC Rule of thirds In the above photo, while not exactly on the one third line (it’s not a rigid rule), you can see the building is balanced out by the tree on the corresponding one third line. The buildings on the each edge act as leading lines and have the added purpose of acting as edge frames to keep the eyes within the scene. However, don’t be afraid of placing your main subject in the center. A centered subject can block everything else out of the scene and make you focus only on the most important element. This works especially well with a strong facial expression or look in the eyes. In addition, this works for symmetrical scenes, which can feel extremely balanced. Rucker Park, NYC #4 Horizontal – Vertical or Skewed Whether to capture an image horizontally , vertically, or slightly skewed is always a tough decision. There are many reasons to photograph both horizontally and vertically, however I often find that photographers have a tendency to rely more on one format. Horizontal images often feel more natural to look at because they mimic the way that our eyes see the world. They also allow you to to fit more elements into your image and they provide an easier format for the eyes to flow through the image. A vertical format can be beneficial when you want to get in closer and focus on a single subject or a tight area. It is a way to simplify your photo and get rid of any elements that might take attention away from your main subject. When you are creating a horizontal or vertical image you want to make sure that your lines are straight.  If they are slightly off, the image will not feel balanced. However, sometimes you will want to skew your subjects at an angle. Skewing your subjects so the scene is neither horizontal nor vertical adds interest and energy to the photo . It promotes a spontaneous feeling and the lack of balance can actually be a pleasing to the viewer. Tight, classic, vertical shot vs. energetic, skewed, detail shot #5 Triangles and the Number Three The triangular shape can be very important to good composition in photography. This does not refer to having the actual shape in an image but a relationship between three objects that create a triangle within the scene. As long as the three objects are able to balance each other out, this is pleasing to the eyes because it creates a constant path through the scene. Prada store, SoHo, NYC #6 Perspective The height from which you shoot can be a significant factor in how your images appear. If you want to emphasize height and power in a scene, get low to the ground and tilt the camera slightly up. People will look more important and prominent, and objects like trees or mountains will look even larger. Shooting from a high camera angle on the other hand makes everything feel smaller and diminished in power. If the shooting height becomes extreme enough the image can even tend to take on an abstract and graphic feeling. When photographing people, always pay attention to the camera angle.  Sometimes raising or lowering the camera slightly can make a big difference. #7 Minimalist Versus Maximalist Minimalist refers to keeping a photograph very simple, such as an image with a single subject and a pleasing and calm background. This can create a very powerful and graphic design.  There is power in the simplicity.  Valerie Jardin, recently wrote a good article on minimalist photography . Maximalist on the other hand refers to a chaotic image, with a lot of elements competing with, and playing off of each other. However, within the chaos there is balance. This type of image is very hard to create in a balanced way, but when it works it can be a delight for the eyes that allows a viewer to explore through the scene. Canal Street, NYC. Balance in the chaos The image above would not work if the subjects were not all spread out evenly throughout the scene. #8 Color Color is a vital aspect of design. A strong color on your main subject can add extra emphasis, while a strong color in an insignificant element can ruin the balance of a photo. There is a large trend these days towards strong and unrealistic colors in photography, similar to the movies or on instagram. Strong colors do a better job of catching our attention at first, but muted colors can be just as interesting and create just as much of a mood as strong colors, if not moreso.  Explore desaturating your images slightly. Each color has its own properties and ability to create mood within an image. A red tint can add a warm and energetic feeling to a photo, while a blue tint can make a scene seem either calm or cold and sterile. As portrait photographer Dan Winter’s states, “Green is an inherently calming and inviting color, and is tied to our natural surroundings.” Winters uses green for many of his portraits. Here are some ways that colors can play off each other to add balance: Complementary colors (colors on the opposite side of the color wheel) Analogous colors (colors next to each other on the color wheel) Different colors in similar shades The same color in different shades Spring and Bowery, NYC #9 Getting Close and Filling the Frame This is a very important concept. Figure out what is significant in the frame, get close, and only capture that. Cut everything else out and envelope the main subject. If the most interesting part of a person is their eyes, then capture the eyes up close. Shop Owner, Trash and Vaudeville, NYC #10 Uniqueness and Breaking the Rules Learn these rules and practice them, but keep in mind that sometimes you must break the rules. Be unique whenever possible. There is nothing more pleasing to the eye than something that is different. Do you have any additional tips you’d like to add to this list? Please share in the comments, with example images if you have some. The post A New Photographer’s Guide to Composition by James Maher appeared first on Digital Photography School .

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A New Photographer’s Guide to Composition

31 Beautiful Photography Links That Will Delight You


With another wonderful week in the wide world of photography passing us by once again, we find Toad Hollow Photography searching points high and low online for the best photography links to share here with everyone.  This week’s comprehensive list includes an interesting selection of tutorials, some special features and the usual list of great photography.  We really hope you enjoy checking out these pieces and articles as much as the Toad did in bringing this list to you.   Untitled by Lucas, on Flickr TUTORIALS What Are Neutral Density Filters and How to Use Them – Alex Wise writes a detailed article on the technicalities and applications of neutral density filters.  These filters allow the photographer to create a specific effect and mood in their images by using long exposure times and allowing a degree of balance in the exposure between landscape and sky.  Alex illustrates his article with a selection of his incredible photographs, giving the reader a detailed look into these filters. A Thorough Video Guide to Using a GoPro with a Quadcopter – this terrific video presentation delivers some really important and useful tips and tricks for using a GoPro and a Quadcopter in capturing elevated video.  This is definitely an area of photography I am interested in, and I really learned a lot by spending the time to watch this video tutorial. Breaking Down How Tilt-Shift Works and How To Use It for Focus Control – a great video that takes the viewer through various aspects of using a tilt-shift lens when capturing portraits.  The effects showcased in this piece are subtle, but add a powerful element to imagery that helps the photographer tell a story in a picture.   IMG_6356 by Tom Woodward, on Flickr”> Quick Photo Tip: Taking Pictures of People Taking Pictures – Joe Baraban discusses capturing people who are taking pictures of other people in this great post.  Joe’s tips and accompanying photographs show you how to achieve the very best results from this technique. How to Rock Your High-Energy Senior Shoots – this tutorial takes you through the entire process of a photo shoot with a senior student.  Terrific tips and tricks are shared to help you get the most natural looking and candid photographs of the subject to truly capture special images.  Many of the tips shared in this piece are totally applicable to any portrait session, really. Lighting Techniques: All the Things you can do with One Speedlight – this is a terrific article, detailing many different techniques and applications for a single speedlight.  Photographs are included in the article that show the reader the effects being discussed, adding a great dimension to the piece.   Danube at Sunset by Eximius84, on Flickr”> SPECIAL FEATURES Photographer Explores the Very Extensive Network of Tunnels Under Montreal – perhaps not the subject matter that most photographers pine after, the underground sewer systems of Montreal do make for a terrific study.  This special feature discusses Andrew Emond and his unusual and utterly fascinating look at the underbelly of one of the world’s iconic cities. MicroSafari – Stentor the MicroTrumpeter – let’s join John Mead as he takes us on another microscopic adventure, this time taking a very close look at an organism called a Stentor.  John’s terrific photography allows us to get a very close look at this tiny creature, and the accompanying talk teaches us about it’s life.  This is an amazing presentation, well worth the time to visit and view. GREAT PHOTOGRAPHY Sheldon Church Ruins-Beaufort County South Carolina – a truly epic scene awaits the viewer in this set of photographs captured and shared here by Mike Criswell.  The rich history of the area dates back to the 1700 and 1800’s, and Mike visits a historic landmark in this post revealing some of the great stories that create the fabric of the heritage in prose and picture. Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird – this famous plane is a perfect subject for the fan of aviation themed photography.  Jimi Jones captures a great composition of the nose of this incredible bird as it sits on display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, showing off the inherent drama found when viewing the business end of this incredible plane.   dark corners by Georgie Pauwels, on Flickr Rural landscapes: alone on the prairies – abandoned wooden structures make for the best photography subjects, as exemplified in this wonderful photograph by Frank King.  What once was a home to someone today stands as a monument to the effects of time and weathering. Brussel Notre-Dame du Salon – incredible ethereal light streams into a breathtaking cathedral in this wonderful photograph by Ricci Speckels.  The rich architectural details play with the dark exposure to deliver a dramatic sense of the grandeur of the interior. Old Zermatt – we get to visit and enjoy a very old little town high up in the alps in this wonderful post from Andy Hooker (LensScaper).  The little wooden buildings literally exude character in their weathered condition, adding to the overall sense of personality and character found here.  Andy’s photographs do a terrific job of capturing and sharing this. Recording Duncan – local photographer and personal friend Joseph de Lange shows exactly why it’s important to document our towns and villages on an ongoing basis.  Joseph wanders into town before sunrise one cold morning, coming away with a great selection of photographs featuring the interesting and character-filled architecture of some of our favorite buildings.   Spider on fire by Phi Phi Hoang, on Flickr Supercell near Vega, Texas – an incredibly dramatic supercell storm cloud hangs looming overhead in this epic shot captured by Valentina Abinanti.  The menacing and brooding cloud formation finds balance with a lightning strike occurring in the right part of the composition, creating a strong sense of artistic tension and wonder at the inherent power of Mother Nature. Hudson River From Yonkers Pier – Mark Garbowski shares a monochromatic piece from his collection that features the George Washington bridge and the New York city skyline in relief.  Mark’s shot utilizes strong contrasts to deliver a wonderful shot that shows the true power of silhouettes in great photography. From another world – this blue toned shot features a beautiful seascape scene, looking out over the most fascinating rock formations out towards the endless sea.  Incredible textures come to life in this shot that takes advantage of the long exposure used to capture it, creating a wonderful feel and mood.  A photo by Danny Velasco. A sort of guillotine – Melinda Green Harvey captures a dramatic black-and-white image, using the remains of a window in an abandoned building as a frame.  Terrific textures and details are exposed in the weathered remains of the building’s structure, creating a wonderful sense of artistic tension within the overall scene.   Pulau Rawa by Phalinn Ooi, on Flickr Curious Kids – this is simply such a terrific shot, featuring a pair of young fox puppies just beginning to explore their world around them.  Tapan Sheth captures a great composition of the heart-melting cuties as they peer back behind the lens at something of extreme interest. Security Cam – Randy Hall shares a terrific character study of a Barred Owl sitting on it’s perch surveying all that sits below.  The details in the bird accent the mesmerizing quality of the image, delivering a true must-see shot in this week’s list. Obsession I – shapes and patterns are explored in this wonderful piece by DB Photographe.  Ornate details and terrific tones are captured and shared in this picture that features the absolutely incredible staircase inside the Vatican. Wickedness – an abstract study in the shapes and drama found natively in brooding cloud formations is shared in this terrific image by Derrick Birdsall.  Derrick’s use of black-and-white in processing this image furthers the overall feel and sense one gets when viewing it.   Pride by Jarle Refsnes, on Flickr Light in the Valley – a stunning composition by Barry Turner finds us overlooking a gentle rolling valley, bathed in glorious natural light.  The way the light casts shadows and accents the trees and their colors is almost magical. Mystic Iceland – this stunning huge resolution panorama (12,000 x 15,000px) captures an ethereal feel and mood of a breathtaking waterfall under a canopy of brooding clouds in what looks like a looming storm.  The details and beauty captured in this shot by Jonathan Besler reveals a little of the mystery and wonder found in nature in this spectacular part of the world. Quackers – absolutely wonderful details and colors come to life in this shot of a duck in flight.  The hues and colors captured and shared in this shot really showcases the natural inherent beauty in these birds. Family owl portrait! – a family of owls stands perched looking past the camera with wide, expressive eyes in this amazing photograph by Itamar Campos.  Perfect natural lighting adds to the overall feel of the shot, as do the simply wonderful spirits of the birds as they stand together.  

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31 Beautiful Photography Links That Will Delight You

How to Safely and Successfully Photograph Lightning


Lightning is quite simply a marvel of nature. While it does carry with it an appreciable potential for destruction, we can’t ignore our fascination with lightning. It’s a beautiful phenomenon and, as such, easily lends itself to being photographed. 1.21 JiggaWatts! by MikeBehnken, on Flickr     Fortunately, that’s not how it works. While capturing lightning is indeed tricky, it’s hardly the mystery that some suspect it is. Secure your camera to your tripod. It’s vital that you are using a sturdy tripod, as any movement (you may have to deal with strong winds) will cause the image to be blurry. Set your camera to bulb mode, typically indicated by a “B” on the mode dial. Dial in your exposure settings. Check to make sure you’re happy with the framing and composition of your pending shot. Focus on something in the distance or focus to infinity; in either case, manual focusing is going to work best. Open the shutter using the remote shutter release. Wait for a lightning strike (or multiple strikes) to occur within the frame of your shot. Release the shutter. * Alternatively, you can use your camera’s continuous drive mode and hope that a few lightning strikes occur during shooting. You’ll end up with plenty of throwaway images afterwards, but this technique may prove generally useful, if less efficient . Post Processing It is recommend to shoot in raw so that you can more easily develop your images. Virtually all of what you do in post will be a matter of personal taste, but you may want to pay particular attention to the following:

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How to Safely and Successfully Photograph Lightning

Separatists in east Ukraine call on Putin for help, Kiev warns of force – Reuters


Irish Independent Separatists in east Ukraine call on Putin for help, Kiev warns of force Reuters LUHANSK, Ukraine (Reuters) – Pro-Russian separatists reinforced barricades around the state security building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Luhansk on Wednesday and called on President Vladimir Putin for help after the government warned it could use … G-7 Nations to Weigh New Sanctions Against Russia, Sources Say Wall Street Journal Ukraine's Rust Belt Fears Ruin as Putin Threatens to Choke Trade Businessweek Ukraine crisis: US hawks say now's the time for more sanctions on Russia (+video) Christian Science Monitor Xinhua  - Fox News  - Washington Post all 4,938 news articles »

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Separatists in east Ukraine call on Putin for help, Kiev warns of force – Reuters

To be or not to be a Street Photographer


Top 6 Reasons NOT  to do Street Photography: 1 - Your pics won’t get many ‘likes’ Most people on social media don’t appreciate the art of street photography. Cats and flowers do get more ‘likes’. 2 – Your prints won’t sell People usually don’t buy prints of street images unless the photographer is somewhat famous. ©Valérie Jardin 3 – You won’t make any money doing it No one is going to pay you to walk for hours with your camera to take pictures of strangers. Period. 4 – It’s intimidating It can be scary to photograph strangers in the street or to ask a stranger to make a portrait. It’s not for the faint-of heart! You will get rejections and some people may even get angry and confrontational. ©Valérie Jardin 5 – It requires a lot of patience and a lot of walking You can be out for hours and go home with an empty memory card. The hunt for the story, the right gesture or expression can take you many miles. You have to learn to be satisfied with just one good shot for the day, if any! 6 – A technically perfect shot does not mean it’s a good street photograph You only have one shot at getting the shot . That fraction of a second that will never happen again. As a result, many of your best shots will have motion blur and noise. When you have to compromise between the technically perfect shot and the story, the story always wins! ©Valérie Jardin Top 6 Reasons TO do Street Photography 1 - You will be part of a very cool community Only people who truly appreciate the art of street photography will like your work and it will be a lot more meaningful and gratifying than any ‘likes’ you’d get for a pretty picture. The street photography community is awesome. They are so passionate because they are doing it for the pure love of it, not to please anyone or get recognition on social media. You are documenting life around you. ©Valérie Jardin 2 – You are documenting life around you Street photography is not a hot seller in the fine art world. As a street photographer, you have to look at the bigger picture (no pun intended). You are creating images that reflect a moment in time that will provide some valuable insight for future generations. Just look at the work of street photographers from 50 years ago, and how much we learn from it. That said, you never know when someone is going to connect with one of your images and want to buy a print. Be open to the idea of an occasional sale but don’t bet the farm on it.  3 – You shoot street photography for yourself You won’t get paid to walk the streets with your camera but, on the bright side, you won’t have to compromise with a client either! Make money doing paid gigs on the side, and get out on the streets for YOU! The technical aspect of the resulting image is not what street photography is all about. ©Valérie Jardin 4 – It’s addicting Street photography never really stops being intimidating. But the rush you get is just as powerful as the rush the wildlife photographer gets when she gets that perfect shot of a wolf in the wild. Street photography is thrilling, exhilarating and addicting.  5 – Walking is good for you! Street photography will make you appreciate the world around you so much more. You will never be bored again, anywhere! Get a good pair of shoes and get out there, practicing your street photography is one fun way to get your exercise! ©Valérie Jardin 6 – You won’t waste too much time in post processing Street photographers don’t care about noise, they embrace it! Documentary street photography doesn’t require any fancy post processing. A quick exposure adjustment, an occasional crop, a custom black and white conversion if that’s what you like… Et voilà! That’s about the extend of the time you’d ever spend on a picture.  You are capturing a slice of life that will never happen again. It’s not going to be perfect, life on the streets is not perfect! No Photoshop action is going to turn a boring picture into a story. You need to know your camera and be ready to get the best possible shot. With practice you learn to anticipate and be ready without attracting too much attention to yourself. Those rare moments, when the story, the light and the composition all come together, are what keep us roaming those streets tirelessly with our camera. Street photography is something you can do almost anywhere. As long as there are people. No matter where you are, the number one rule of street photography is respect. As a bonus you will make friends along the way, and that’s a beautiful thing! I will leave you with a quote that, in my opinion, best represents what street photography is all about: “Get a good pair of walking shoes and… fall in love.” Abbas ~ Those rare moments, when the story, the light and the composition all come together, are what keep us roaming those streets tirelessly with our camera. ©Valérie Jardin Why are you a street photographer? Please share with our readers in the comment section below!  Need a few tips on practicing your street photography? Check out some of these articles: Practical Tips To Build Your Street Photography Confidence Tips for Taking Street Portraits – Lessons Learned in India In the Dark: 10 Tips for Street Night Photography Using Street Photography to See Beyond the Ordinary How to Approach Street Photography in 12 Easy Steps Street Photography: Exploitative vs Respect The post To be or not to be a Street Photographer by Valerie Jardin appeared first on Digital Photography School .

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To be or not to be a Street Photographer

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 . 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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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Travel Photography without the Travel – Going Local