Tips for Capturing the Golden Hour

When Is The Golden Hour?
The golden hour is the first and last hour of sunlight in a day. Check the sunrise and sunset times in your city to make the best of the precious hour.
Golden light photography is like being dealt a pair of aces in a game of Texas hold ’em. It’s a great hand, but you still have to raise the stakes to rake in some real moolah, you have to be careful not to go overboard with your bets and mess it up, and the five community cards can still mess up the hand of your life.

The golden hour is (approximately) an hour after sunrise and before sunset, and this time can vary from region to region. The light during this period is ideal for amateur photography, and a very helpful natural aid for the pros.

Photography is all about light and the best ways to manipulate it. In a studio setting the photographer is in full control of the lighting, and can determine just how ‘fresh’ the latest aspiring model would look. Nature, on the other hand, is a fickle mistress, and your best-laid plans can be ruined by the slightest of showers in the middle of summer. So it’s best to go along with the flitting moods of Mother Nature, and take advantage of the times when she’s helpful.

But first, let’s get something out of the way. Just why is the golden hour so important, and why is the golden light so venerated?
It is balanced
The golden hour is the perfect mixture of light and dark. The difference between the darkest and brightest elements of a photograph is the smallest during the golden hour. This means that you can take beautiful shots and experiment more, without fearing a blowout of the highlights or the abyssal darkness of the shadows.
It is soft
In photographic terms, golden light is very soft. Soft light doesn’t make you squint, and makes your subjects look better. Its effect is not just limited to human portraits, but extends to natural elements such as trees and sand. When contrasted against the beautiful golden light, even something as inanimate as a road looks warm and inviting.
It is warm
Speaking of warm, golden light has a high color temperature. There is very little blue light present, since it is dispersed by the Earth’s atmosphere, and the vivid reds and yellows are present in full bloom. This enhances skin tones, and brings about an effect similar to tanning. Who doesn’t like that much-vaunted bronzed look?
It Is 3D
Photography is the representation of 3D elements on a 2D medium. Golden light, with the inherently long and soft yet pronounced shadows, is the best tool to merge the two.
There are some simple tips for maximizing the gain from the golden light. Here are the prominent ones…

How To Capture The Golden Opportunity
Focus on the golden light
When you get up before the crack of dawn just to shoot the glorious sunrise, there is really no point in not focusing on the golden effect the light brings. As a photographer, you always have to be on the lookout for an inviting frame, but when shooting in the golden light, concentrate on shooting in the golden light. Try to capture frames that feature the golden light prominently, and make the golden light an element in your photos.

If you are photographing a client, try to schedule your sessions around dawn or, more preferably, dusk. If clicking away for fun, take the effort of getting up before the sun rises, and march to the perfect spot. The clicks will be worth it.

Keep your equipment ready
When the first, precious golden rays peek out from behind the doors of the horizon, do you want to be diving into the action head-on, or do you want to be setting up your tripod that always gets stuck precisely at the perfect moment, and sorting between your lenses?

The annoying thing about the wonderful golden hour is in the name – it only lasts for an hour, at most. More often than not, clouds will obscure the sun and other uncontrollable elements will be determined to get in and ruin your picture. The ideal lighting conditions in a golden hour actually last for less than half an hour. So keep your camera battle-ready, well before the sky turns yellow.

Don’t use the flash
If there’s one thing that ruins the whole effort made to use golden light, it’s using the flash. The flash has a very specific set of uses, and golden hour photography is not one of them. Use the beautiful natural light fully. If you intend to shoot both portraits and landscapes, do the portraits first, and use the tripod for the slower shutter speeds for the landscapes.

Use both front and back lighting
Fully explore the effects of front lighting and silhouettes at different times. Partial silhouettes and even full silhouettes early in the evening will look drastically different from silhouettes captured later on.

Adjust shutter speed according to aperture
Getting the aperture right can make or break a photograph; this is especially true in golden hour photography. Keep the aperture constant, and adjust the shutter speed according to the light reading. For candid portraits against the backdrop of the setting sun, keep the aperture wide (keep the f-number low), and use faster shutter speeds to catch that perfect smile. Use the tripod for landscapes, and keep the aperture small (keep the f-number high) to capture the intricate details of the silhouettes of trees, buildings, etc., with a slower shutter speed. A small aperture will also bring the Sun itself into the shot as a conspicuous element.
Use every precious moment
Don’t just click a couple of shots and go back home to perfect them on Photoshop. Lighting conditions change rapidly in the golden hour, especially during sunset, and a scene may look completely different just a few minutes after you gave up on it. Keep clicking away.

Here’s an illustration of why golden light is the best light for photography.

Some minor elements in the following images are ‘Photoshopped’, but would not affect the image drastically if removed. The images are chosen to illustrate the difference between similar scenes.

As you can see, golden light can completely transform any scene with a wave of its magic wand. Clicking great photographs is as much about technique as simply being at the right place at the right time. The golden hour is a natural lifeline to that end – use it wisely and exploit its full potential.

How to Seize Your Special Moments

Birthdays – no matter how old you grow, you never grow out of them! My Dad will turn 66 this year, and me and Mom still buy him a birthday present and make him a nice birthday lunch, and we still go out for dinner and cut a birthday cake, complete with singing ‘Happy Birthday To You’! Yes we do it, and you know what? It feels great. Boo the people who think you cannot or should not celebrate your birthday just because you are now old. It is nice to say “It’s my life”; but none of us ever really live for ourselves. We don’t do everything we do only for ourselves – even the smallest of selfish deeds has a hint of selflessness, if only you look deep enough. But your birthday is YOUR birthday. It is the one single day in your life when everybody wants to talk to you, everybody wants to be with you. It is indeed a special occasion, and it comes around only once a year. So why not click a few pictures and create memories on your special day?
A birthday is the perfect kind of occasion that begs you to click pictures. But it is of no use if you are going to click boring pictures where everybody is simply looking at the camera and smiling mechanically. Photography is about capturing emotions, sentiments, feelings and moments. How do you do that? I am here to tell you exactly that! Read on…

Birthday Party Photography Tips
Children love playing. They are completely devoid of inhibitions and when they are having fun, they are having FUN! They are going to jump, run, play, dance, eat, and OMG! Did that little boy just kiss your girl on her cheeks? LOL. Kids really do all the things that birthday parties are made of. So make sure you are ready with your camera to click as many pictures as you can! You can get some really cute snaps when they are playing games. Their faces are going to be livid with expressions, so make sure you capture those moments. If it is a birthday party with a theme, like say Super-heroes theme for a boy, or Princess theme for a girl, then have something like a spaceship, or a moon crescent cut-out in the garden, or against a plain wall in your house and have the kids pose in front of it to click pictures. (Don’t put up a big dinosaur if the theme is Jurassic Park – the kids might just get scared!)

… for a Teenager’s Birthday Party
So I am guessing your parents are not going to be around for the entire party right? Use the opportunity! I am sure you have arranged for that cute guy from your class to come over as well, and you must be dying to click pictures with him, right? Make your friends partners in crime, and make sure to get yourself clicked with that guy. If you are going to head outdoors, like to the mall, or for a movie, take your camera along with you. Most cell phones have a camera these days, and a good camera too. So you can even choose to click pictures on your cell phone. Make sure you click pictures with everybody – you and your friends, your friends without you, you and cute guy, you and best friend with your respective cute guys, group pictures, couple pictures, all sorts of combinations. You can even print these pictures and use them in the future, like on a Valentine card maybe…? (Wink Wink!)

… for a 21-Year Old’s Birthday Party
Turning 21 spells out lots of things for different people – and one of them is a-l-c-o-h-o-l! You are legally, officially, and (thank God!) finally old enough to get your spirits high! Make sure you click yourself with your first drink in hand, even if it is only wine. If you want some funny or wacky pictures, you could maybe act drunk and click pictures with lots of empty alcohol bottles around! Cheesy? Cheap? So what? It’s fun to do stupid things once in a while! Now, 21 could also spell g-a-m-b-l-i-n-g for many of you! So if you are going to hit the local casinos, or better still if you are going to make a trip to Vegas, go click! You first spin at the roulette table, your first hand of Blackjack, even the first time you hit the Jackpot machine is all indeed special, no matter whether your win or lose. Ensure you capture these moments.

… for a 50-Year Old’s Birthday Party
Celebrate being a birthday-‘boy’ or birthday-‘girl’ again! At 50 I am guessing you are probably married have one or maybe two kids, a nice house and all that jazz. But I am also guessing you have a very hectic job, full of responsibility, a busy life, and no time to just sit down and relax. Why not take the opportunity of your birthday to do something different? You have worked hard to earn the life you are living, now it’s time to do something for yourself. Get a make-over. Go on a shopping spree. Spend the afternoon with your gal-pals instead of with the laundry! And click pictures doing all these things. They are things you have not done in a long time, isn’t it? Go out on a dinner date with your partner. Or take your partner out if he/she has turned 50!

… for the 60+ Birthday Person
Reminiscence… I guess that is going to be the single most over-powering emotion in your mind as you turn 60, isn’t it? Take the opportunity to reconnect with old friends. Social networking websites have made it a lot easy to find almost anybody. Also take the time out to celebrate with your family. Your kids, perhaps your grandchildren as well. Celebrating turning 60 is the perfect kind of occasion to organize a big family reunion. Call everybody – even that cousin you fought with and haven’t been speaking to since you were 30. Bury the hatchet, embrace each other, and smile at the camera! Click a huge family picture with everybody in it; and when I say everybody, I mean everybody, including your dog and cat!

Some General Tips
➽ Make sure you click at least two individual pictures – one portrait photograph, and one head-to-toe. Wear your best clothes, turn on your charm, and flash your best smile, for it is your day and you are the star!

➽ Click at least one picture with your Mom and Dad. You may do it after the guests have left or before they arrive, if you feel it is too geeky or out-of-fashion or whatever. But do click one. You will cherish these memories in the later years.
➽ Make sure to click at least one picture with all your friends! Let it be a real group picture, with EVERYONE who came in it. Do not miss out on anybody.

➽ Try and click these ‘planned’ pictures early on in the party, if it is a house party. Your guests may all leave at different times, so if you leave these picture for the end they may not all be there. Everybody is going to be tired by the end of it, so why look haggard in your own birthday party pictures?
➽ Yes, you need to click a few planned pictures, but that does not mean every picture should have people looking at the camera and smiling. capture some candid moments as well – somebody eating a big piece of cake, somebody having dozed off after the meal, somebody exchanging numbers, and OMG! Did your brother just kiss your best friend on her cheek thinking nobody’s watching? Well, he can think again – for you already caught it on camera!
➽ If it is an indoor party, hire a photographer if you can. If that is going beyond your budget, have one family member dedicated to only taking pictures. There are going to be lots of moments to take pictures, you don’t want the divided attention of the photographer!

Man invented the arts, so each one of us has got an artistic side to us. It is only a matter of identifying it. Even if you are not into photography, there is a little bit of photography in all of us. Don’t we understand when our picture doesn’t come out right? If we can understand that, we should be able to figure out how to take a good picture ourselves; it is not that hard. Hope you enjoy your birthday party and click lots of pictures!

Tips No One Ever Told You

There are many aspects of photography, such as portrait photography, aerial photography, wedding photography, and some other types. However, the most sought-after area in the photography field is in the fashion world. To get into the fashion industry as a photographer, you compulsorily need to consider some fundamental fashion photography tips.

Fashion Photography

In our daily lives, we read newspapers and go through many magazines, which have models flaunting their products. But have you ever thought what makes the photos so vibrant and attractive to look at? It is the contribution of fashion photographers who capture the pictures. These photographers are professionals in their field, and have a good knowledge of photography along with a sense of the color, style, lighting, etc. They use all their expertise to come up with such great and adorable pictures of the advertising models.

Becoming a Fashion Photographer

If you want to enter into the fashion world as a photographer, you most importantly need to have the right equipment and have to self-practice a lot to get the basics right. The first step is to invest in a good piece of digital SLR, which is known for capturing and producing quality photos. You also need to understand every bit of the functions and features of your photography tool by referring to the user manual. Learn and understand the fundamentals of fashion photography by looking at the pictures in fashion magazines and tabloids. Get to know various poses, color suitability and lighting conditions. Read different books and guides which have useful fashion photography tips from famous photographers. Ask your friends, brothers, or sisters to pose and click their photos. Practice as much as possible, and prepare your portfolio, which is very important for getting into this industry. The portfolio should at least consist of 20 quality photos.

With Models

• While working with models from the industry, you need to keep three things in mind, which are precision, color effect, and lighting conditions. Fashion photography is kind of similar to portrait photography. The only difference is that you have to focus and capture the complete model, instead of only the face, as in case of portrait photography. You also need to know how to make adjustments to your camera settings to produce the optimum results in the available conditions.

• One of the most important outdoor fashion photography tips is that you should use natural light at its best to come up with bright, colorful, and clear photos. The best time for outdoor photo-shooting is the afternoon, when the sun in right over the head, so you can make optimum use of its light. The best direction for a model to stand in while photo-shooting is when the light falls on the face from the side.

• While photo-shooting with models, you necessarily need to know how to position them. You should make sure that they are comfortable in wearing fashion clothing. Do not put much pressure on the models regarding the poses, as it will only make them feel nervous, which may have an adverse effect on the end result. Try to take photographs in many different angles, and then determine which one is best to be selected.

• One best tip any fashion photographer in the world would give you is to never stop shooting. Most often, the beautiful images you see are not a result of a planned or intended idea but are spontaneous and impromptu. There will be times when your model just won’t get the expression or a pose right, but that doesn’t mean you stop clicking as it is often during the ‘in-between’ shots, where the model is practicing to get it right or switching from one pose/expression to another that you get a natural picture, which totally transcends your expectation and leaves you astounded.

Tips to Get the Perfect Shot

3b3048ee63f701cbb965edb7ca3d7833One of the greatest joys of photography lies in the way it can be used for different purposes by different people. While some use it as an artistic medium, by producing abstract images while others use photography to create detailed and accurate representations of real life. I am always amazed at the superbly shot wildlife photos or close up photos that appear in National Geographic or Nature magazine. These photographs never fail to fascinated me and leave me wondering how much effort and skill is needed for that one elusive shot. Recently, I happened to meet a good friend of mine who gave me the low-down about such photographs. These shots are taken by a technique known as macro photography.

What is Macro Photography?
The word macro means ‘large’, or ‘of great size’. In photographic terms, it can be called a type of close-up photography that normally tries to produce images on a 1:1 ratio. In other words it tries to create images that are of the same size as the objects or subjects they represent. These techniques are popularly used in nature photography, wherein it is often required to produce images that exhibit the true detail of a plant or animal that is being photographed. Nowadays ‘point-and-shoot’ digital cameras come equipped with in-built macro functions making it easier to photograph close-ups. However, a single lens reflex (or SLR) camera is generally considered superior for such type of photography. This photography is especially useful in forensic science, where small details at accident or crime scenes may often be substantial. Fingerprints, skid marks, or trace evidence which are vital to any crime case are easily recorded using macro photography.

Macro Photography Equipment
The following equipment is generally considered essential for macro photography techniques.

Camera
As said earlier, many point and shoot digital cameras nowadays have remarkable macro capabilities making them an obvious choice for beginners. But for best results you should opt for a single-lens reflex camera (SLR) or if your budget permits a digital single-lens reflex camera (DSLR). The latter allow you to attach special-purpose macro lenses and show you in a bright optical viewfinder that are very useful for close-up photography.

Macro Lenses
These lenses are also, confusingly, sometimes called ‘micro’ lenses by manufacturers. These are one of the most vital macro photography equipment. Macro lenses are generally fixed focal length lenses that are particularly designed to produce sharp images at a magnification of 1:1 or higher. Latest available macro lenses can even produce magnification ratios far higher than this. Generally most macro lenses are fixed, you will be required to choose the focal length that best suits your purposes. for example, a focal length in the region of 50-60 mm would be sufficient for fairly small objects, whereas 100 mm focal length would suffice for things such as insects and details of flowers.

Flash and Diffuser
Lighting is very important in any type of photography, a hand-held flash comes in handy for lighting your subjects and is powerful when used just a few inches from your subject. While sometimes a flash might give you a sharp and noticeable shadow, giving your picture a harsh, stark effect. For softer light, try to diffuse the light from the flash, by using transparent white cloth or paper for example, colored gels. If you are keen on capturing close-ups of small things then you may experiment with different lighting techniques and get amazing results.

Tripod and Other Equipment
A tripod or monopod will decrease the risk of camera shake. The movement by the subject is also an important element, as this type of photography enlarges the subject, thereby leaving a possibility for blurred photos. Tripods or monopods could prove to be useful, especially while taking photos of flowers. Though flowers, unlike animals, are usually very patient and if there is no wind they stay still. People use different techniques and ideas like, using paper clips to keep a grass leaf still while taking a photo of some insect on it. Or the use of dead flies to feed spiders or other “deadly” insects which might make a great shot. A bottle of honey to feed butterflies or some other hungry beasts out there. Be creative and think about what you may need before you go on a hunt.

Macro Photography Ideas and Tips
Here are some DSLR macro photography tips that can spell the difference between ordinary and excellent close-up photographs. Also some lighting tips are provided.

Check Focus
One of the basic necessity of any photography, let alone macro or close-up photography, is focus. While shooting at 1:1 or higher magnifications the distance in front and behind the subject of focus is extremely narrow. So, one needs to double-check if the subject is in exact focus or not. Check the image in your LCD screen, if you’re using a digital camera. Zoom into it as far as your camera can zoom, this will let you to confirm that your subject is in exact focus.

Eliminate Background and Foreground Clutter
A thumb rule in photography is that the viewer’s eye, naturally, gravitates towards the brightest spot in a photo. So, while shooting in mixed light, bear in mind about what’s in the background, change your point of view or move closer and fill the frame with your subject in order to negate the background. Another idea is to hold a sheet of plain white paper or any branch or leaf foliage behind your subject. One smart tip to control background clutter is by shooting at wider apertures. This reduces background focus, using a ring light is a nice way to eliminate the background since a ring light throws most backgrounds into darkness. While shooting through dense foliage trim away blocking branches or leaves if they are hindering you view of the subject or try to find another angle. The essence is to keep on trying till you get the perfect frame for the perfect shot.

Get the Correct Exposure
The correct exposure can make or break a near to perfect setup. One has to be especially careful about exposure, greater the distance between the film or sensor and the subject, the longer the exposure or wider the aperture. If your camera has exposure metering through the lens, then your task is much easier, somewhat. A tip for correct exposure will be to check your histogram repeatedly.

Right Lighting
One of the toughest task in photography is sufficiently and evenly lighting the subject. In extreme close-up photography it is impossible to place a light between the camera and a subject that close. Nowadays some cameras can focus on subjects so close, that they almost touch the front of the lens. Using off camera flash is the next lighting tip, as the subject will be so close that the light on your camera will fall beyond the subject, hence this flash needs to be off camera. Besides, extreme close-up work means that there is almost no natural light falling on the subject. Using a ring flash or a two-flash, lens-mounted setup can help to achieve greater depth of field and sharper focus. Sometimes overhead sun causes harsh shadows, diffuse it with a translucent white umbrella. Right lighting will enable you to exhibit greater details in your subject thereby enhancing your shot quality.

Get Real Close
Close-up shots require you to get down to the subject’s level which might mean getting dirty, but it’s worth the effort. Not only does it produce a more dramatic point of view but also adds to the area of focus. Getting your lens parallel to the subject enables more of the subject to be part of the frame reducing background and foreground clutter. Moreover, while being parallel, the subject is more in focus than if the lens were angled with you looking down. One of the best option is to use the right tripod, the one whose legs can spread out almost flat enabling you to get right down low. Another tip is to get the heaviest tripod, though it might not be fun to carry around but you’ll be rewarded with better quality photographs.

Shutter Speed and Self-timer
If you cannot shoot faster than the length of your lens then use a tripod. A general rule of thumb for hand-held macro shots, is that if your lens is 100 mm focal length, then the shutter speed should be 1/100th of a second, or faster, to achieve a sharp image or photograph. If you are shooting in a spot which has shade or indirect sunlight, use a tripod to achieve great results. An important tip is regarding the use of the camera’s self-timer. This feature is vital in limiting vibration and camera shake while pressing the shutter button. A self-timer is basically a delayed shutter release that allows jerks and vibrations to subside before the actual photo is taken. Refer to the manufacturer’s manual to see how it works on your particular brand of camera.

Be Patient
One of the most vital yet oft-ignored asset is learning to be patient. In my experience, there is no point in chasing an insect, like a mad photographer, that won’t sit still. It simply doesn’t work! You’ll be surprised to know that many insects are just as curious of you, as you are about them. Try to make good use of morning sunlight to capture details or bring out certain aspects of the subject that may not be seen otherwise. While many photographers don’t like shooting into the sun, when it comes to macro or close-up photography, I find it can often help highlight a feature or characteristic of the subject. For instance, early morning light can be used brilliantly to capture dew drops or an insect’s tiny hair. You do need to be careful not to capture lens flare though. Sometimes it doesn’t work, sometimes it does. Trying numerous angles and distances to help you find the best position and capture the best shot.

These were some of the close-up photography tips and techniques which I found extremely helpful in improving my photography skills. Enough of the theory, it’s time to have fun. Get out and keep shooting, don’t be afraid to experiment, Shoot closer, still closer and then some more. The closer you shoot, the more you will be rewarded for your patience and toil. Get clicking and enjoy exploring and photographing the tiny world that awaits you.