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.

Group Photography Tips

Not everyone is familiar with the latest photography techniques, and when you add high-end digital cameras in the mix, you can expect issues to arise. And who says that you need to be an expert like Martin Klimas, Nigel Barker, Jill Greenberg, or any other famous photographer to take beautiful pictures. You can just as well be an amateur and still get the best pictures possible. How, you ask? The first step to taking workable pictures is by understanding your camera. Whether your camera is the latest model with innumerable features or is an older model from few years, you have to familiarize yourself with it.

Taking group photographs isn’t different than taking portrait, still, or landscape photographs. Regardless of the number of people, you can capture images that are natural, pleasant, and elegant. In this article, we are going to give you some tips for indoor and outdoor photography that will enhance the images tenfold.

Tips for Indoor and Outdoor Photography

Imagine that you and your family (or friends) are gathered for a special occasion and you wish to capture this moment forever. You grab the camera and start clicking pictures. But somewhere down the line, the light is too bright or dull, you can’t capture the angles correctly, and/or you are confused with all the different features on the camera.

The point to remember is that everything lies in the facial expressions. Whether you click pictures inside the house or somewhere outside, the secret to liven up the images is in everyone’s faces. When you focus on them, rather than the background, you end up clicking the best pictures. Now, I don’t mean that a background doesn’t count. But the point is, you don’t always have to focus on the background. For an amateur photographer, concentrating on the subjects’ faces is very crucial. Once you have mastered this art, you can move on to other details of pictures and features your camera has to offer.

Indoor Photography

  • First of all, using natural light is the best way to capture vibrant images. Yes, it does sound ironic but it’s the truth. Using the flash has its own benefits and it is quite tempting to use them indoors as well. Which is why, try taking pictures with the light coming from the windows and doors. Have everyone stand in such a way so that the light falls directly on their faces.
  • Second of all, pick backgrounds that are easy to work with. A plain wall, a couch, a table, or even a computer desk with as little clutter as possible will work in your favor. When there are less things to get distracted by, the focus stays on the people in the images. You want to accentuate the people in the images and not the background.
  • With large groups, using a tripod is the best way to avoid shaky images. This is one of the most important tips for beginners; whether the images are being taken indoors or outdoors. With a tripod, you will spend less time deleting shaky images and more time clicking pictures.
  • Always take 2 to 3 shots of the same poses so while editing, you can select the best one. With large groups, you are bound to get certain shots with someone’s eyes closed, a person looking away from the camera, people yawning, making weird faces, etc. So instead of wasting the images, you can delete the ones that aren’t perfect and select the ones that are.
  • Always read the instructions that come with the camera. The different features like ISO, shutter speed, white balance, light sensitivity, and camera modes are provided for a reason. Experiment with the features and see what results you get.

Outdoor Photography

  • The light is your best friend here. While clicking outdoor pictures, you have enough light to capture the images without having to use the flash. However, you need to be aware of the direction of the light, where the group is standing, and is there any light falling directly over the camera lens. Of course, with practice, you will understand the difference and how you (the photographer) need to position yourself to get perfect images possible.
  • Many times, you will notice that the faces in the images are coming a bit dark, even after you’ve used the natural light effect. Here, what you can do is use the reflecting light technique. Using sunlight or the reflection from a white wall works wonders. This way, even with an open sky and the possibility of darker faces, the reflecting lights will brighten everyone’s faces in those images.
  • You can either use a point and shoot camera or try your hand at using a DSLR camera. Of course, the results will be poles apart because of the advanced features provided in DSLR cameras. However, the images will be remarkable nonetheless.
  • Don’t use sideways or downward angles while taking group photographs. Here, you can use a tripod or hold the camera in such a way that your hands are not moving involuntarily. The images need to be centered so that the group’s photographs come clean. Also, it’s alright if you can’t include the sky along with the people. Outdoor photographs don’t necessarily require the sky background in them.

While you’re taking group photographs or any other photographs for that matter, practice, practice, and more practice. Keep experimenting with your camera, try different backgrounds, and see what results you get. The more you get familiar with your camera, the better chances you have to get amazing images.

Explore Your Passion for Night Photography With Simple Techniques

Night photography can be a bit challenging because of the less amount of light that is available to us; therefore, one often faces the problem of the picture containing a lot of noise. With some effective settings and the right equipment, one can get to do some amazing photography at night.

Here is a beginner’s guide to photography with techniques for shooting night subjects such as the moon, fireworks, traffic lines, and night landscapes.

How to Shoot the Moon
For this technique, you will need at least 300 mm zoom lens.

  • Secure the SLR on a tripod, on a wide base.
  • Use these manual settings on the SLR: ISO 100, aperture at f/9, exposure at -5 or less and vivid picture quality.
  • Keep the sharpness at a max and the white balance on automatic.
  • Switch on the self-timer for 10 seconds.
  • Never shoot without a tripod as you might end up blurring the picture.
  • Zoom out the lens to its full capacity.
  • Start shooting using auto focus initially, and later experiment with manual focusing. You can also experiment with the setting at maximum focal length.
  • Take some shots and check how they have turned out.

How to Shoot Fireworks
Techniques for night photography of capturing fireworks is easier than you think, but it is important that you get a place from where you can frame your shot nicely. With different shutter speeds, one can always make the fireworks look sharp or achieve different blur effects.

  • Arrive early before the fireworks show, and select a place from where you can compose your shot properly.
  • Mount your camera on a tripod.
  • Set your camera for 4 – 5 seconds of exposure, and aperture at f/8.
  • Switch off the camera’s flash, and set the ISO on 50 or 100.
  • Zoom out and compose your frame.
  • Set the timer and start shooting.
  • Check how the shots look, and later experiment with different shutter speeds.

How to Shoot a Night Landscape
Some of the best subjects for night landscapes are city landscapes (it looks even better if the city landscape is reflected in a water body), a farmhouse, a stream or river, trees and cottages, etc.

  • The first thing is to compose your subject; for example, try to go for a low dynamic angle of a lit-up building with a road, or buildings reflected in the water.
  • Mount your camera on the tripod well and switch off the flash.
  • Use manual settings of ISO at around 100, exposure of 4 seconds and aperture at f/9 .
  • Set the self-timer or use the remote control.
  • Start shooting. One can always take multiple shots if the camera is digital.
  • Take a look at your cityscape pictures and experiment with different shutter speeds and composition. You can also try out the cityscapes in black and white photography setting.

How to Shoot Traffic Lines
This is one of the long exposure techniques. Climb up a bridge to get a top angle of a road or highway.

  • Fix your camera on the tripod, and compose your shot well.
  • Switch off the flash, and manually set the camera aperture at f/9, exposure at around 20 seconds, and ISO 100.
  • Keep the white balance on auto and with a self-timer or remote, start shooting the subject.
  • Check your images for the results, and experiment with different exposure times.

How to Shoot a Night HDR
This is similar to day HDR (High Dynamic Range) technique, but capturing HDR is very interesting, as the final result gives a picture a very dramatic-surreal look. Some subjects for clicking night HDR are landscapes. Make sure you have the sky in your frame or a landscape with river, water bodies, etc.

  • You absolutely need a tripod for capturing a day or night HDR.
  • After setting the camera, select AEB (Auto Exposure Bracketing) setting of -2, 0 and 2.
  • Compose the scene, and start shooting.
  • If you don’t have the AEB setting, then mount the camera on a tripod. Very carefully without moving the camera or tripod click, three pictures on exposure setting of -2, 0 and 2.
  • Open these pictures with a software like Photoshop CS-2 or CS-3, or a HDR rendering software and merge the three pictures together.
  • Experiment with the different brightness, contrasts, hue and saturation settings, to make the sky look purple or orange.

Tips for Nocturnal Photography

Here are some tips to make your shots using the above techniques for photography at night look better.

  • A tripod is essential, so always use one for night photography. If you don’t have one, then invest in a decent one if you want to take some good night pictures.
  • Keep the ISO at around 100 to reduce the noise.
  • Try to shoot on a full moon night, so that there will be more light.
  • Check the weather forecast, so that you don’t get caught in a rainy situation with your expensive photography equipment.
  • Do not be sad, if you don’t own a SLR. Try to experiment with the different exposure triangle settings in your camera, of ISO, shutter speed and aperture, and take pictures with the above digital photography techniques.
  • When you think you need a better camera for digital photography, borrow from your friends and use different models and then buy a good DSLR for yourself. The rates have recently dropped, and one can always buy a DSLR on EMI, if that is a practical and viable option.

These were some of the interesting photography tips and techniques of low light or night photography. To learn some more such techniques, visit popular photo sharing sites and look for the pictures you like and would like to shoot. After selecting the picture, click on more properties of the picture and you will get all the settings on which the person has captured the picture. Some more interesting subjects for nocturnal photography are city skylines, a street with or without cars, abandoned old buildings, nightlife or concerts, amusement rides, silhouettes of birds or trees, etc. So good luck and keep shooting!

How to Winning Photography Contests

2015-11-25-photography-contest-2The best part of competing in a photography contest is not only winning a prize, but getting a great platform to display your creativity. You have to prove how good you are with your work, before you can get some recognition and become a professional.

A winning entry in a photography contest is usually selected by a panel of judges based on various criteria. One of major criteria that a judge will look for in your photograph is the visual impact that it can make. The image should be such that it should demand attention. A fresh and imaginative approach to the image is as important as the style. In a contest, the judges will also evaluate the technical competence with which the photograph was taken, some of the areas of technical expertise being correct exposure, composition, contrast, and clarity. Lastly, to enhance the chances of you winning, ensure that the photographs you submit are printed in the highest quality.

Categories
Some of the categories that are generally available in free photography contests are as follows:

  • Animals
  • People, Baby or Child
  • Creative, Artistic or Digital Art
  • Black and White
  • Nature, Landscape or Seascape
  • Macro, Abstract or Still Life

Useful Tips

Here are some tips that you can use:

  • The subject of the photograph should be chosen wisely. It will help if the entire photo, except the subject, is plain, so that the focus of the person viewing the photograph is immediately captured.
  • Anticipate and plan out photo opportunities instead of waiting for a ‘great’ shot.
  • You could also create a photograph from somebody else’s perspective, like a baby’s view out of its crib.
  • Incorporate new angles, use different times of daylight, filters, and colored lighting to create new and innovative effects.
  • It is important to constantly go through books, magazines, websites, and product catalogs to keep up with all the latest and new trends, and also pick up new ideas.
  • It is always advantageous to use a tripod or a monopod to help increase the details and reduce the blur in the photographs.
  • Your photograph must provide a compelling reason that will force a user to look at it. Other that the fact that your photograph must be really good, you can add a thought-provoking or an interesting title that will help grab the attention of the viewer further.
  • The color combination should be such that it should capture an interesting color palette which is complementary and analogous.
    With the help of silver, gold, and white reflectors, lightening can be improved. Further, ensure that you bounce your flash off the ceiling, as a direct flash creates ‘red eye’ and harsh shadows.
  • Analyze the theme of the competition correctly before submitting your photographs. Further, you must make it a point to view the winning images in other competitions, and try to understand as to why they have been selected. Incorporate the positive qualities that you find in these entries into your photographs.
  • When you have to submit a set of pictures for a competition, ensure that all the pictures are equally appealing, as a single bad picture can weaken your overall score considerably.

When you win a contest, notify your local newspapers with a press release. The press is always looking to publish good stories, and this free publicity will go a long way in increasing your credibility as a photographer, and will help you get work, which I guess is the aim of entering a contest, unless you enjoy photography as a hobby. All the best!

Tips for Shooting Black and White Photos

Black and white photography is coming back into vogue among photography enthusiasts. When color came into the scene, it resulted in good old black and white photography being less favored. It just seemed so drab and dull when compared to the bursts of color that color photography represented. However, of late, people are beginning to rediscover the intrinsic beauty of black and white photography and the purity and power that these pictures can have. Here are a few tips that should be considered while shooting these photos.

Choosing Your Subject
Irrespective of whether it is a color or a black and white picture, choosing a subject and focusing on it is very important. Needless to say, there is a difference. For example, while some subjects may seem very interesting in color, they often would turn out looking dull and drab in the other version. But then, often a simple scene or a portrait can come out looking quite dramatic in black and white.

When photographing people in black and white, the pictures come out better if they are dressed in simple clothes and solid colors, instead of prints. You can achieve a dramatic and dreamy effect by having as few elements as possible. Many people in fact are opting to get their wedding pictures shot in black and white because of the romantic and timeless quality it gives them.

Landscapes, cityscapes, still life with fruits and flower arrangements also make great subjects for black and white photography. You need to have a keen eye for the unusual, such as the effects of shapes and shadows made by various objects, buildings, or trees.

The Effects of Light and Shadow
As a matter of fact, such photographs are basically about light and shadow. This is the reason they must be used as effectively as possible. For instance, try taking pictures of a scene at various times of the day and you will notice how light and shadow can affect the picture. Another idea is to experiment with the quality or intensity of light. For instance, you could take a picture of a tree on a foggy day, and then photograph the same tree on a bright day.

Take Shapes into Consideration
Since black and white pictures lack color, they are dependent largely on lines and shapes to create interest. Try to incorporate a variety of shapes that create different types of lines such as curving lines, crooked lines, or slanting lines. Stark straight lines can also create a dramatic effect.

Mind Your Perspective
Perspective can create some very interesting effects, especially in black and white photography. Perspective can bring alive a standard subject, it can suggest depth and mystery in everyday objects, and, in fact, you can make a picture tell a story just by using an unusual angle while photographing a scene.

Take Care of the Background
You need to make sure that the subject does not get lost in the background. Often, just by shifting your subject a little to the left or right can help in eliminating unwanted elements in your photograph. Or you could try to take the picture from another angle.

Add Texture
Texture can add interest and definition to these photos. For example, a black and white picture of a roughly textured wall will certainly look more interesting than a smooth wall, or a road made of cobblestones will look more dramatic than a smooth one. A smooth, plain texture will create the desired effect when shooting for shadow photography.

Colors Do Matter
Yes, each color has a different effect on black and white photos. For example, while green and red may look striking juxtaposed against each other in a colored photo, however, the two colors become almost indistinguishable in a black and white photograph. The more contrast the colors have in their grayscale values, the more interest will they create in black and white pictures.

Keep in mind that you can use the stark qualities of black and white shades to create dramatic and meaningful pictures. You can have a lot of fun, and often get strikingly unusual effects, by experimenting with this genre of photography.

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.