Category: Photography Tips

Tutorial Tuesday | Photography Tips for Shooting in the Dark

As the Northern Hemisphere eases its way into winter and the days get shorter and shorter, the amount of light available for our photography decreases significantly. Don’t put your camera away for the season and let your scrapbook go empty, however. Grab it back out of the closet and take great photos with these shooting tips!

Low Light Photography Tips

EXPOSURE TRIANGLE — We already know that light is the most important consideration for taking great photos. You’ve heard about the “exposure triangle” with regards to photography — which refers to ISO, aperture, and shutter speed. To make the most out of our settings in low-light conditions, we’ll need to increase our ISO, open our aperture as wide as we can, and lower our shutter speed to as slow as we can get it without incurring camera shake. A tripod can be useful if you need a very slow your shutter speed. Make sure you double-check your white balance, too (one of the disadvantages to using ambient light is that indoor light has more of an orange-ish tone to it).

FLASH — Use a flash. I’m not a huge fan of the onboard flash, and my camera body doesn’t even have one… but sometimes, we have to do what we have to do so we don’t miss capturing something. If you have an onboard flash, explore some options for diffusion or direction. If, however, you have an external flash, try pointing it up and behind you to avoid direct flash and red-eye.

ALTERNATIVE LIGHT SOURCES — Get creative with other light sources! Ipads, flashlights, or even the moon can give you enough light for a great shot. Here are a couple of examples…

Turn your photo black-&-white and increase the contrast! It can be tricky to get the coloring just right without a great light source (and/or your photos might have more graininess with a high ISO)… but you’d never know that in black-&-white! Black-&-white images also look GREAT on scrapbook layouts…

 

I hope these tips will help you create photos — and scrapbook layouts — that you love (easier and faster)!


FarrahAbout the Author  Farrah Jobling is a member of the creative team here at The Digital Press. She lives in Denver with her amazing family — Mike, Nicholas (9), Claire (7), Hope (2 yr old puppy) & Kringle (9 mo old bunny). She works from home as a photographer and enjoys scrapping her personal photos.

 

Save

Tutorial Tuesday | Creating Star Bursts

 

When I first started out in photography, I was always amazed when I managed to capture camera lens artifacts such as star bursts, sun flares, or bokeh in my photos. They seemed to appear randomly and I had no idea when and why they were occurring. Eventually I took a look back through my photos, studied the camera settings, and then started experimenting. I now have a few tips on how you can capture star bursts such as the one in the photo below (taken at the beach just after sunrise)…

 

 

So what causes these star bursts? Simply put, star bursts are caused by the diffraction of light hitting the blades of your lens. The effect is magnified the smaller the opening through which the light passes into your camera. That is why it is easier to get this effect using a wide angle lens with a small aperture opening (i.e. higher F-setting). You can use any light source — including the sun, of course — or you can experiment with other light sources such as street lamps, night lighting, car headlights, Christmas tree lights, etc.

For those who are more technically-inclined, it is interesting however to note that the number of rays on the star burst is usually directly related to the number of blades of your lens. For lenses with an even number of blades, the number of star rays will be that number (that is — an 8 blade lens can create a star burst with 8 rays, etc.). For lenses with an odd number of blades, the number of star rays will be double the blade number (so a lens with 5 blades will create a star with 10 rays).


The following tips will help you to create star bursts…

1. Camera and lens

You can achieve this result with a simple point and shoot camera… but it is easier with a DSLR (I am not sure what is possible with all different models of phone cameras). Also, try experimenting with different lenses. The effect is usually easier to obtain with smaller focal lengths… so the wider the view the better.

2. Time of Day

It is possible to achieve this at any time of day… but I have found it is easiest early in the morning or late in the afternoon when the sun is not too overwhelming. If you shoot during the day, however, you should always make sure that you do not look directly into the sun — even through your camera’s view finder.  🙂

3. Camera Settings

You will ideally need an aperture setting smaller than f9 (i.e. f9 and above). Also you will want a wider focal length… so use your 50 mm,wide angles lens or telephoto lens at the widest angle.

4. Angle to the Light Source

This is where you will need to experiment and move about. Look through your view finder or screen while moving around and changing angles. You will be surprised at the difference a few degrees up or down or a few feet to the left or right will make. Walk around until you get the effect you desire. As a final tip, you may find it easier if you partially block the sun as I have done in some of these photos.

Here are another couple of recent photos of mine (with the camera settings I used listed on them)…

 

 

I have been experimenting trying to get star bursts in my portrait photography… but still need more practice, as you can see. 😉

 

 

To finish off, here is a page for my Word of the Year book (my word is “breathe”), which I created with one of my starburst photos…

 

 


AvatarAbout the author  Carolyn lives with her partner, eldest daughter and 3 rescue dogs on 5 acres of paradise in the hinterland of the Sunshine Coast, Australia. Her camera, along with an assortment of lenses, is never out of sight. When not taking photos, she loves cooking and gardening and of course scrapbooking.

 

Tutorial Tuesday | Importing Photos into Lightroom

How many times have you opened your new Lightroom (LR) software and shut it because you found it too daunting? How many times have you tried to drag images over to LR, like we so easily do in Photoshop (PS), only to realize nothing happens? If you are anything like me, your answer is more than a few times! 🙂

We’ve all heard it time and again — Lightroom is a powerful program. It’s a game changer. And… it truly is. But how do we harness its power if we can’t even complete the initial step of getting started? Well, this post is here to do just that — to help you get your pictures into LR.

The first thing you need to do to get started is open the program. Once you have it open, click on the “Library” button at the top (see image, below). Then, press the “Import” button.

[Please note that my screen (shown above) might look a little different than yours… as I already have pictures in my LR.]

Next, from the left side panel, you will now need to select the photos that you want to import into LR. Photos can be on your hard drive… or on an external hard drive… or on a memory card. Wherever your photo is, you need to browse on this left side panel and select that source (as shown below)…

Using the image above as an example… suppose I were to select “Year 5 — April” as the source. LR will now show me all pictures contained in that folder. This is where you can select the specific photos you want to import. You can choose to select one photo… or a few photos… or even all photos in the folder.

Another thing to note — that top panel (see next image). I shoot in Raw, so I choose the “copy as DNG” option… which is the suggested option for Raw files. For JPEG images, I always choose the “Add” option.

Now we come to the right side panel (again, see next image). Here, there are two steps that I usually complete. First is to select the “Don’t Import suspected duplicates” box. You don’t want to import the same photo twice, right? 🙂

The other step I complete using the right side panel is very important — the destination step. This is where you tell LR where (and how) to save your images. I save my images chronologically… so my files are saved by year and by month. You can organize your files however you like, creating a filing system that works for you.

Now you come to the very last step. You can just press “Import” (as shown below) and tada ….. your photos should start uploading in LR. At that point, once the photos are imported, you are all set and can start playing with the program more! 🙂

Hopefully this “first step” tutorial is helpful in getting you out of the starting blocks, and on your way to using Lightroom. If you have any questions, definitely feel free to reach out to me using the comments on this post, and ask away!


PallaviAbout the Author  Pallavi resides in Mexico City with her husband and her ever-growing little son, Rajveer. She has previously lived in Calcutta, Pune, San Francisco, Chicago, and London. She reflects all these places in her pages as she captures her everyday stories. She is an alumnus of Northwestern University. Currently, she is learning photography and working towards getting to a healthy weight. Her days are full and she loves it that way!

Tutorial Tuesday | Capture the Everyday

I’ve been following a few photography challenges this year, and even if I don’t do them every week (or at all, let’s be honest!), they are slowly influencing me and helping me see my daily world with new, creative eyes. A few days ago I was doing our laundry and decided to capture this everyday, mundane task as artistically as possible, and in as many different ways as I could think of. And it was so, SO fun!
Capture the Everyday

Of course, some of my images didn’t turn out… but that’s OK because experimenting was part of the fun. I decided to implement various photography techniques — like macro, changing angles and perspectives, long exposures, purposeful blurs, compositional “rules” like leading lines, centered compositions, repetition/pattern, texture, rule of thirds, etc.

Capture the Everyday

This was truly an eye-opening experience and I never thought photographing something as mundane as the laundry would be so fun and could bring so much variety in the images.

Capture the Everyday

To add some cohesiveness to the photos I took, I edited them all with The Basics Lightroom Presets (#1) by Dunia Designs.

If you, too, want to see — and document — your everyday life with new eyes, why not try something similar?

  • Grab your camera and focus (pun intended!) on some daily aspect of your life — a task (like my laundry), an object, a place, etc. You don’t need much time to do this; 5-10 minutes is plenty to do this sort of creative exercise
  • Try to look at your everyday event like an explorer would when discovering a new civilization. Forget everything you know about this thing and try to see it with fresh eyes, as if it were the first time you laid your eyes on it
  • Then… simply grab your camera and start playing! Change your angles, take a wide shot to capture the whole environment (or the opposite — come closer and do a close-up shot), play with light and shadows, experiment with the composition rules and have fun. Maybe you won’t produce a masterpiece but you will definitely start seeing your world with new eyes!

I hope you’ll have fun experimenting and being creative, and I’d LOVE to see the result if you try your hand (and eye) at it! You can leave links to photos in the comments, below… or if your photos actually result in the creation of a scrapbook layout, you can post it in TDP’s gallery and then link me up here!

 


ChloéAbout the author  Chloé is in charge of PR and communication for her small town by day, is a digiscrapper “by night,” and a photographer whenever the light is beautiful. She lives with her man and fur-babies in a small town of Alsace (in the northeast of France), where she loves to read, watch good TV shows (TWD being her absolute favorite), and just hang out with her friends — no matter if they are close by, online, or away in her Swiss hometown. She recently became quite obsessed with her BuJo (bullet journal) and can’t wait to discover how much it’ll help her improve her (so far non-existent!) organisational skills!

Tutorial Tuesday | Playing with Color to Change the Mood of Your Photos

Playing with Color to Change the Mood of Your Photos

 

This tutorial is about playing with color in post-processing to change the mood of your photos… but first, I want to give you a basic idea of white balance.

White balance measures the color of the light. DSLR cameras have the ability to preset various white balances. White balance is the setting on your camera that is telling the camera what kind of light you are shooting in. It’s called white balance because the goal with this setting is to make anything white (or neutral) actually look pure white with no other color contaminating it. The color temperature is how white balance is measured — in degrees kelvin. For a lot of my shooting scenarios, Auto White Balance (AWB) is just fine. If I need minor changes, I can always do that in Photoshop’s Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) when I open my photos, so I will save the in-camera discussion for another day, and for now, we’ll just stick with AWB.

Once we have a photo, we can use color to change the mood of our photos (and/or scrapbooking layouts). We can create a fun, bright, white-light look for a summer afternoon… or a dark, moody feel for Halloween… etc.  An over-saturated, high-contrast look could give the feel of an urban travel layout, while a de-saturated portrait might draw attention to the subject’s soulful eyes. The warmth of an image can even change the feel of the season — a warm tone is perfect for the beach, while a cooler tone works best for the winter scenes.

Easy ways to change the mood of your photos with color

1. Increase/decrease the saturation & contrast — The degree of saturation in your photo can give a feel for a location. Urban scenes tend to have a more dramatic look, using higher saturation and contrast… while a more rural setting tends to have lower saturation & contrast. To change the saturation and contrast in Photoshop, use Layer –> New Adjustment Layer –> Hue/Saturation and/or Contrast.

Playing with Color to Change the Mood of Your Photos

2. Turn your photo to black & white — Ted Grant once said, “when you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in black & white, you photograph their souls!”  Sometimes our subjects (specifically, my daughter; choose your battles, right? hee hee) are wearing mismatched outfits and/or obnoxiously bright colors… and yet, that smile gets us every time. If you want to eliminate distracting backgrounds, you can change the photos to black and white! It’s an easy way to focus on the important parts. Black & white photos can also work really well when you’re scrapbooking and you’re using elements and papers that have different colors than in your photo, but happen to have just the right sentiment for your overall layout. There are many different ways to turn a photo to black & white, so feel free to use your favorite method. For a quick and easy method, just click on Image –> Adjustments –> Black & White.

For instance, looking at the picture below — ok, really?!  Neon green and hot pink? MY EYES! Who buys them these clothes, anyway? 😉  BUT… by changing the image to black & white, we lose the distraction of the bright colors and instead see a sweet moment between brother and sister.

Playing with Color to Change the Mood of Your Photos

3. Change the temperature, change the season — The warmth/coolness of a photo says a lot about the season. Warmer tones indicate summer, while cooler tones feel like winter. Sometimes AWB can be fooled (especially in the winter). Snow is white, not blue… correct? Or maybe, on occasion, we actually want an overall blue tone for our whole scrapbooking layout, as we journal about the long winter months, etc. A summer evening sunset can be full of vivid colors, but might look a little dull when we pull the photo into Photoshop.

Sunsets can be tricky; they can go from bright and glowing to dull in less than a minute.  I missed the best of this sunset, below, by a minute or two when I was photographing it. Not to worry, though. To change the temperature of the photo, I simply used a photo filter. To do this, click on Image –> Adjustments –> Photo Filter (I used warming set at 85).

Playing with Color to Change the Mood of Your Photos

4. The proper use of selective color — I have a love/hate relationship with selective color. There are times in which selective color can really make or break a photo. To create a photo that is partially black & white, open your image in Photoshop and then duplicate the image onto a new layer. Use the tip from #2 (above) to turn the top layer to black & white. Then, use a layer mask to selectively add color back to your image.

Playing with Color to Change the Mood of Your Photos

5. Bam…..whhaatttttt? Mix it up and do something unexpected — Play around with different color overlays, seasons, or a combination of all of the above to create a photo for your AMAZING layout. There really are no rules, so just have fun!

Here is a layout I created using photos from a series… in which the kids were in the bright green and pink shirts. I changed the photos to black & white, because I love the more muted yellows and how the black & white photos help to tell the story instead being a distraction with clashing colors.

Playing with Color to Change the Mood of Your Photos

 

And here is another layout I created. I added a soft yellow layer over the photo to really highlight the poem by Robert Frost…

 

Playing with Color to Change the Mood of Your Photos

 


FarrahAbout the Author  Farrah Jobling is a member of the creative team here at The Digital Press. She lives in Denver with her amazing family — Mike, Nicholas (9), Claire (6), Hope (1.5 yr old puppy) & Kringle (3 mo old bunny). She works from home as a photographer and enjoys scrapping her personal photos.

Tutorial Tuesday | Intentional Blur in photography

Tutorial Tuesday | Intentional Blur in Photography

In many cases, blurry photos are a bad thing: photos are supposed to be in focus and sharp to be considered good. I usually follow this “rule” but I’ve been trying to be more creative recently and I’ve decided to create intentional blur in my photos. And I found out that the result could be awesome, fun, and creative (as is often the case when you break an artistic “rule” on purpose!).

Let’s discover the 3 types of blur you can have in photography (all images are retouched with Dunia Designs‘s The Basics Lightroom Presets):

Camera shake: when your shutter speed is too slow to handheld your camera, you get camera shake. It can be “bad” when it’s distracting from the subject of your picture, but it can also be a fun technique when done on purpose. I took this very abstract image, for example, with a 3 seconds exposure and while spinning my camera in front of Christmas lights.

Tutorial Tuesday | Intentional Blur in Photography

Cynthia Haynes is a photographer I discovered recently who is known for her long exposure / intentionally blurry pictures, and she has some pretty inspiring shots!

Bokeh: this type of blur is created by using a very big aperture (very small f/number, like f/1.8 for example) and it’s usually in the backgound of something sharp, but you can also create bokeh “by itself”, on purpose. Last week we had some spectacular sunsets, and I obviously had to snap some pix after work. I started with the classic, in focus, shot.

Tutorial Tuesday | Intentional Blur in Photography

Not bad, but not very original either, right? Then I decided to manually un-focus and create bokeh with the sun reflection on the river. You can’t see the landscape any more, but you get an abstract picture where light and colors are the most important things.

Tutorial Tuesday | Intentional Blur in Photography

Here’s a more classic example of bokeh, that I created by focusing on the puddle right in front of me with a very big aperture, so that the background (and a bit of the foreground too, since the depth of field is very small) is out of focus.

Tutorial Tuesday | Intentional Blur in Photography

Movement blur: this happens when your camera is steady (because your shutter speed is fast enough for you to handheld it or because it’s on a strong support like a tripod, a table, etc.) but that your subject moves faster than your shutter speed. This is the technique you use to photograph fireworks, for example, that’s how you create those gorgeous “flowers”.

Tutorial Tuesday | Intentional Blur in Photography

You can also use this technique to show movement and gives a sense of speed. That’s what I did (without even knowing, I was just starting to take pictures and had absolutely no idea what I was doing! LOL) while photographing the Tour de France in our little town in 2005. I got on the first floor of a building, right above the road, and since the day was cloudy and dark, my camera (in auto mode) selected a shutter speed too slow for those speedy athletes.

Tutorial Tuesday | Intentional Blur in Photography

If I had do take that picture again, knowing what I know now, I’d definitely try to use a technique called panning where you follow your moving subject with the camera. That way, your subject will look sharp and the environment around it will become blurry, kinda the opposite of the image above.  It’s a perfect technique for races of all sorts because of how much it materializes speed.

I hope you’ll enjoy playing with intentional blur and find these tips helpful! Don’t hesitate to comment with your questions or post in the forums!


Chloé

About the author  Chloé is in charge of PR and communication for her small town by day, is a digiscrapper “by night” and a photographer whenever the light is beautiful. She lives with her man and fur-babies in a small town of Alsace (in the northeast of France), where she loves to read, watch good TV shows (TWD being her absolute favorite), and just hang out with her friends — no matter if they are close by, online, or away in her Swiss hometown