Tips for Newbie Wildlife Photographers

Try to come out of the auto-mode and start handling the options found in manual mode like ISO, shutter speed, aperture, etc. Read the manual that came along with your camera, and refer to the guidelines to get a good hand on your primary equipment. Once you get to know how to navigate through the manual settings, you’ll be able to customize every shot as per your liking.

If your camera comes with an external attachable lens, it is better to carry a decent zoom lens to maintain a safe distance between you and the subject. A handy waterproof backpack, along with comfortable shoe wear are a must-have for a quiet predatory walk near your subject. A compact lightweight tripod can help in getting the perfect steady shot.

Whenever you are trying to capture any photo, never compromise on the sharpness aspect. An image which is not sharp enough should hit the trash. Try clicking the capture button when you are breathing out for maintaining a more steady hand, if you are taking the shot by hands.

If you want the subject to be still while keeping the background a little blurred, it is advised that you take the shot at high shutter speeds. The more challenging the shot is in terms of movement, the higher the shutter speed should be. Adjusting the proper shutter speed manually for capturing the perfect shot will take diligent practice.

Keeping the ISO value at an optimal level prior to taking the shot is quintessential. Ideally, the ISO value should be inversely proportional to the day-light availability. The less amount of natural light in the environment means you should set the ISO value at a higher level. You can use the Auto ISO setting, but it may sometimes result in noise factors. After taking a good amount of pics, you’ll get a good idea as to what the ISO value should be set at.

Climatic conditions play an important role in photography. A normal sunny day is apt for taking photographs, but too much of sunlight may result in shadows. Using a flash to clear the shadows is one solution, but it may scare away the subject, so it’s best avoided.

Patience is a virtue that you’ll have to worship when studying your subject. You may have to make multiple trips to the same place in order to click that magic moment, and yet, still control yourself of not going berserk when things don’t happen the way you plan.

Don’t get caught up in the intricacies of photography, so much so that you miss the bigger picture. Whether you’re on a wildlife safari or just for a trip around the zoo, take your time to enjoy the moment, relax a bit, and then opt for clicking your desired picture.

Tips to Start Your Career as a Travel Photographer

This will come as a dampener if you’ve been wondering how to get a travel photography job. This happens to be one profession which does not involve a 9-to-5 grind. But then, neither does it hold any promises of a solid paycheck at the end of the month. And yet, there are so many dreamers out there, desperately waiting for that one break which catapults them to stardom. And not just any kind of stardom, but Nat Geo stardom or Smithsonian stardom.

Gee, it even sounds preposterous when it’s put like that. Photography, until recently, was seen as more of an exaggerated hobby, rather than a means of income, unless you were doing weddings or wars. Travel photography, heaven save us, is even more lethal, as one has to pay for his travels, at least in the beginning; with no solid assurance of any returns on the initial investment.

But when it comes to creative passions like photography, returns and investments are tossed out of the picture (pun intended), and the only thing that matters is creative satisfaction. Which is our first point, by the way.

Treat photography as a passion, not a source of income.
Now, there is no way to define a good picture; it simply lies in the eyes of the beholder. Which means that you may click anything, from an elusive black jaguar in the Amazon, to a done-to-death beach sunset shot in Phuket, and surprisingly strike gold with the latter. You’ll never be able to tell what exactly sells, but the only thing you can count on is your sincerity and consistency. When you’re working in a highly eccentric and creative field like photography, it won’t do well if you keep clicking things with one eye on the anticipated paycheck. Keep your focus solely on raising the bar, do all it takes to not just get it right, but keep working until you can’t get it wrong. At the end of it all, if your work manages to “speak” with the viewer, you’ve got yourself a winner. And remember, doing this is possible only if you do not have any bread-and-butter worries.

Know where to begin.
Assuming you have your bread-and-butter issues comfortably sorted, you need to take the first step, which is building a portfolio. Which means that you need to pack your bags and leave to wherever you think the best pictures lie, be it Cambodia or your backyard. Yes, it is a good idea to begin small―you may want to make a picture profile of your town, clicking the good, the bad, and the ugly. Because when it comes to travel pictures, you never know what will get you that much-needed first assignment.

Cultivating some writing skills would be great.
A great and affordable way to put your work “out there” is to have a blog. The Internet is a godsend for the times we’re in, and it only makes sense to milk it for what it’s worth. A travel photography blog is a nice way to get noticed, considering the massive reach of social media. The only downside here is the plethora of such blogs out there, but as long as your work manages to shine, you’ll have nothing to worry about.

Keep your customer in mind.
Who do you think will be willing to pay money for your work? Magazines, holiday resorts, tourism boards, book publishers, web publications, travel agencies, advertising agencies … the list can go on. Make a list of your potential employers and reach out to them, ensure that your work gets a look, and glue your fingers crossed.

Expand your vision.
You may think of stock libraries to be your Plan B, but it’s quite competitive even here. Do your research and find out what they want, though doing this is easier said than done. It could be random shots or peculiar ones; as far as stock libraries are concerned, anything goes or nothing. Of course, do not stop at these, and consider lifestyle or editorial shots as well. Say no to nothing is the best mantra here.

Selling travel photos requires a lot of backbreaking work and frugal living. But in the end, none of this matters if you’re doing this for the happiness rather than the money. Travel photography job opportunities are hard to come by, but you should never stop putting your work out there, as the big guns are always on the lookout for something groundbreaking each day. A former director of photography at National Geographic magazine used to say, “If we want to hire you, we already know who you are!” And that, my friend, is how you land your big break.

Photography Lighting Tips

This was just a flashback that I wanted to share with you before going into the depths of photography. Photography in simple words is just – “CLICK the image”, but technically, photography has lots more to offer. Perfect light, angle and time are hallmarks of good photography. Lighting determines the mood of the photograph or the video shot. Right use of light reflects your innate creativity. A video or a picture is alive only through good photography skills.

Photography Tips on Lighting

Appropriate use of light is one of the most important factors that determines the quality of the picture. It can be awesome, spectacular, dramatic or terrific. The camera has an inbuilt light meter that measures how much light is being reflected to the camera. Automatic adjustment of aperture and shutter speed enables the camera to measure the amount of light reflected and thus the clarity of the picture.

Source of Light
The quality of the picture resolved depends upon the source of light. The source can be natural, like the sun or artificial, like constant light sources, strobes and different types of light sources used in studios. The effect of rays of light is very spectacular. A setting sun, rays cascading through the windows, landscapes and portraits create impressive pictures with intelligent use of lights. Use of brighter light from behind the object is the typical way to create silhouettes. You can simply experiment with different types of light in order to get different images with different effect.

Angle of Light
Angle of light is a very important aspect while creating special effects in the photographs. Half cast shadow, full bright, dimmed low, back lighting, front lighting, side exposures, diffused light, etc are a few examples where adjusting the angle of light is very important.

Camera Exposure
The time of camera exposure depends on the shutter speed and the aperture speed. To get a good resolution there should be a narrow aperture and slow shutter speed. Increase the exposure time to get a clear image. For example, a camera with a high f/stop (depth of field) aperture value and low shutter speed 1/X (secs) gives a good resolution. f number determines the amount of light entering the aperture and the time of exposure of the shutter is denoted by seconds.

Film Speed
Film speed is one of the important parameters in determining the quality of a picture. The sensitivity of light towards the photographic film determines the film speed. ISO system has been introduced to measure the film speed. Higher the film speed, higher the sensitivity. But a high film speed (high ISO value) results in poor quality of the image.

Portrait Photography Tips

Behavior of light, intensity, brightness and contrast are the important parameters for portrait photography lighting. Controlling the intensity and brightness can be done in studios with the help of strobes. There are devices such as gobos, snoots, scrims, grid spots and barn doors, which can direct the light according to the need of the photographer and create different effects. The light’s color temperature is also one of the factors governing portrait photography. Contrast of the image is dependent on the size of light source and the distance from the object. These are the basic know-how of portrait photography. However it is always best to LEARN photography tricks from a professional photographer.

Digital Photography Tips

Digital photography also has the same basic principles of lighting. Know to handle the camera with subtlety and use your creative skills to get a good resolution. The tips and tricks are simple. Know the buttons, adjust the techniques and click.

Tips for Blue Hour Photography

The blue hour is a favorite time for many photographers. Though the golden light that precedes it is much more popular, blue light photography is an exciting avenue for photographers. Many photographers pack up when the sun goes down, and remain completely ignorant of the beautiful blue light that follows it.

Blue light has its own set of virtues and difficulties – the least of which is actually being able to use the tiny window of the misguided term, blue ‘hour’. The dominant hues in the blue hour are actually purples, steely grays and magentas. Also, the ‘hour’ usually lasts for less than half that, and more often than not even less than that.

The key to capturing great blue hour photographs is, more than anything else, knowing what to frame. Unlike the golden light during sunsets, which makes everything look prettier, blue light is not so generous and benevolent. Silhouettes are tricky to capture in blue light without an artificial light source, since not much is discernible against the advancing wall of black in the background. Buildings with their own lighting, such as cityscapes, churches, and factories, are the subjects to concentrate on while shooting in the blue hour. The contrast between the internal lighting and the blue-purple background is the most sought-after setting in blue hour photography.

Landscape shots in the delicate, undulating time between the golden hour and the blue hour are also beautiful. Here, the contrast is provided by natural elements: remnants (or the first signs) of golden light, white clouds, etc. Here’s an example of this technique.

Here’s how to make full use of the tricky blue hour.

Use a tripod

The blue hour is actually the initial period of night, and planning to shoot in it without a tripod is like planning to arrive at a gunfight with a knife. You may as well shoot with the lens cover on!

Shoot static subjects

Don’t try to capture portraits in the blue hour; those are best dealt with early in the golden hour. Pitch static objects – preferably those with artificial lighting – against the constant, blue background to achieve the best results.

… But portraits are not impossible

Capturing portraits in the blue hour is tricky, but possible if there is a significant secondary source of light, such as a bonfire. Without such sources of light, candid portraits are impossible in blue light, since there is too much motion and not enough light. A secondary light such as a fire provides a beautiful contrast with the blue overtones, and perfectly illuminates the face of the subject.

Slow shutter speed, high f-number

Continuing on from the last point, use the blue light mainly for landscapes. Unless it is a dazzling cityscape, keep the aperture open. If there are other light sources (windows, street lights, etc.), keep the f-number around 22, and slow down the shutter speed as much as you have to. This allows you to capture the details so helpfully illuminated by the light, while keeping the beautiful blue background.

Plan ahead

As with any photography session, planning the shoot is crucial. Since the blue hour consists of a relatively tiny period of time, caught unawares is the last thing you want to be. Scout your best locations beforehand, and be ready with your equipment before sunset.

Keep shooting

Once you have set up, keep shooting – sunsets aren’t exactly ugly, are they? Lighting conditions change rapidly after sunsets, and the perfect mixture of contours, artificial lighting, and blue light could just be available for a matter of moments.

If only the photographer of the picture on the left had waited for a few moments, he would have been able to capture the perfect mixture of natural and artificial lights, and an excellent composition. Always keep your camera ready, and only stop the session when the only option is to use the flash.

Blue light, when aided by the last embers of sunlight, wraps the world in a stunningly beautiful blanket. In a matter of moments, the sky casts a shroud on the day and takes on the garb for the night. In such a delicately balanced moment, timing is everything. Be ready to pounce when a beautiful frame emerges, and for a change, make hay immediately after the sun has set.