Category Archives: Photography

Tips For Beginning Photography

Welcome to the wonderfully addictive world of photography. We have a great community. As the title says, these tips are meant for those beginning photography. I hope you find them useful.

1. Basic Equipment – There is no need to spend thousands of dollars when you just begin exploring photography. There is some basic equipment that every photographer should have though.

A Single Lens Reflex (SLR) camera is a must in order to go beyond the everyday point and shoot. SLRs give complete control over the aperture (iris opening in the lens), and shutter speeds. Together the aperture and shutter control the exposure of the shot.

The basic lenses are the standard, telephoto, and wide angle lenses. If you are just learning how to use an SLR then the standard lens that probably came with it is fine for learning all of the controls. I recommend eventually getting one of each of these lenses.

Whenever possible, use a tripod. The slightest movement of the camera can cause blur. The tripod will help keep this from happening.

2. Choose a Subject – When people look at photographs they should not have to guess what the subject is. Make it prominent in the picture. There should also not be too many things drawing the viewer’s eyes away from the subject.

3. Composition – The easiest composition rule of thumb to use that gives the best results is the Rule of Thirds. This rule boasts the idea that just the right amount of stress in a photograph creates more interest.

This rule is followed by dividing the viewfinder into 9 equal parts with two vertical lines and two horizontal lines (a tic-tac-toe board). The points of interest should be located where the lines intersect.

Horizontal and vertical lines in the scene (the horizon or side of a building) should be placed on a corresponding line in the virtual viewfinder grid (tic-tac-toe board).

4. Portraits – Remember, the subjects in portraits are the people not the scenery. Get in close for the head and shoulder shots. Use the viewfinder to crop out any distractions that may be near the subject.

If there are still distractions in the background, narrow the depth of field to blur it out. A narrow depth of field will cause the foreground and background to be blurred while keeping the subject in focus.

5. Landscapes – Here the subject is the scenery. Use a deep depth of field to keep as much of the landscape in focus as possible. Most photographers use a wide angle lens to increase perspective (the lens’s field of view).

Always use a tripod with landscapes. A deep depth of field required a small aperture opening. This usually required that the shutter be open longer than usual. The slightest jostle of the camera while the shutter is open will cause blur. As states before, a tripod greatly decreases the chances of this happening.

6. Wildlife – Practice at the local zoo. You will be able to get some great shots of exotic animals without having to worry about becoming prey.

For the larger predators, ask the zoo keeper when the feeding times are. This is when you will get your best action shots. With that in mind, be ready to use shutter speeds of 1/400 or less.

Home Process in Film Photography

This is not an easy question to answer. For example, I am using digital SLR most of time but I still enjoy film photography as hobby; I enjoy the adventure of photo discovery in the field as I seek out new subjects to explore. However, I do not enjoy spending time with chemicals in the dark doing what others do better than I do and in less time. With film photography, I work almost exclusively with color transparency material, straightforward slide processing does not make much sense for me. I used to set up several darkrooms in my photographic life from rudimentary bathroom variety to custom-designed, electronically controlled units complete with commercial temperature controls and automated processing machinery. In all instances, I came to realize that the darkroom was not where I could be most creative. However, I also recognize that wonderful and exciting things happen in darkrooms. Many individuals derive great satisfaction from the work they do there. For large numbers of people, it is a wonderful experience to see full color emerging from the haze as slides dry or prints develop.

If you opt for home film processing you should be able to cut processing costs a lot, and since most of the film processing shop is shutting down nowadays, home film processing might be the only choice left for those who still have a space for film photography.

A case can be made for home processing if, first, you cannot find a consistently good lab close enough and quick enough to make its use practical; second, if you enjoy it; third, if you intend to process film at other than standard times or with exotic chemistry; and fourth, if you want to ensure your film is being processed in the freshest chemicals, using absolutely correct procedures.

In addition to all of this, there is a down side to sending film out to be processed commercially. A small risk always exists that your film will be damaged or lost. Also, random problems at most labs result in substandard results that often can’t be corrected. Industry research indicates a well-run processing laboratory should experience a problem rate of less than one-tenth of 1 percent. Additionally, home processing is not without risk itself. Failures do occur to even the most fastidious darkroom experts. The question of whether to process film at home or not ultimately comes down to the question of how fulfilling it is. If processing your own film is enjoyable and satisfying, by all means do it. On the other hand, if it becomes a tedious chore, find a dependable, consistent commercial processor.

Finally, if you intend doing a great deal of black-and-white printing, you should strongly consider developing your own film. Locating a lab that does custom black-and-white is difficult and the results are expensive. Much of the creativity in black-and-white photography begins with precise exposure and processing. Black-and-white film development is not as critical as color, so a relatively simple darkroom arrangement will suffice.

Suppose you decide to have your processing done commercially. How does one find a first-rate lab? First, ask experienced photographers for their recommendations. Next, send away for lists of services found in the back of leading photo magazines. Be careful of labs offering services priced much lower than the competition. You can also inquire at local colleges or tech schools offering photo courses. Try contacting the instructors of black-and-white courses.

Be careful to read advertising carefully. Ads for processing and printing services sometimes imply custom work, which should mean all services are performed by hand rather than by machine. Advertising claiming “individual video analysis” of negatives is not custom work but a semiautomatic procedure whereby negatives are automatically printed after a split-second decision is made about contrast and color by an operator viewing a video screen. The phrase “each roll individually handled” is also misleading. In order to put your film into the automatic processor, your film must be “individually handled” at one point or another, if only to take them out of the mailing envelope.

Beauty of Black and White Photography

It’s called black and white photography, but it’s so much more. There’s the black at one end of the spectrum, white at the other end, and a whole lot of beauty in between. Just like the old black and movies of the 1940s, black and white photographs can appear classic and romantic.

Black and white photography is all about contrast. Texture creates a great deal of interest in a black and white picture. Shooting from different directions and different times of day will produce shadows and shading and result in an entirely different picture of the same subject.

If you’re new to the world of photography, beginning to photograph in the simplicity of black and white allows, or forces, you to focus on the real subject of the photograph and nothing else. You’re not distracted by the color, which can sometimes detract from the picture. Whether you use film or digital, black and white photography is at your fingertips.

Consider investing some time doing research. There are some good books devoted to the art of black and white photography. But nothing can replace experimenting as one of the best ways to learn. Most beginners look for bright, sunny days to grab their camera bags and head out for a day of photography. These conditions aren’t what will produce the most striking black and white images. To get some really amazing shots, take your camera bag and go out early in the morning when there’s some frost or fog across the field, lake, or mountains and take as many shots from various directions to capture the pure beauty of the landscape. Take some shots during an active thunderstorm from your porch or on a gray, misty day in the forest.

Portraits are another photographic category that lend themselves nicely to black and white photography. Where color shows every blemish and blotch on the skin, black and white tends to lessen the flaws of the skin tone and presents a softness. Many brides choose to have some black and whites included in their wedding albums. It adds an elegance and, again, there’s the undeniable romantic touch it lends to the collection of photos.

Elegant Wedding Photography

Wedding photographs are truly something to be cherished throughout your life. These photographs speak a lot about the moments of enjoyment, the presence of the couple, the feeling of joy and everything that the bride and the groom experiences. Wedding photography should capture every move and every emotion that comes once in a lifetime.

It is also about a lot of advanced planning and management, or else, your wedding photographs could be a great disappointment. Even if you have hired the best photographer and had the best crew to assist you, incomplete arrangements can prove to be disastrous.

The key to elegant wedding photography is communication. Good photography begins with the development of good relationship with the photographer. Discussing all the intricacies of photography, including the style and the approach will give an insight to the person who would be taking the photographs. This helps in making these photographs a memorable experience and the photos seem more real.

You can as well give your photographer the liberty to use his own shooting philosophy. Depending on the different aspects of the wedding, such as venue, style, event etc. The photographer can use his imagination to produce excellent photographs.

If you also want to help your photographer in creating the best and the most beautiful photographs for that special day of your life, you must also look into the attribute layout of the site, the lights, the overall atmosphere and the hues used to make sure that everything is perfect.

The elegance of the photographs lies in the natural looks, the ambient light and the overall decoration. Simple is perfect for photograph. But the lights make a great difference. When dark places are chosen for weddings, which happen occasionally, the photographers are left with no other option but to use the flash lights.

Every wedding photograph is like a memory of overwhelming emotions. From the point the bride is being dressed, till the time the couple kiss each other, every moment is worth capturing. From the wedding gown to the rings, to the cake and the flowers, the ceremony and the venue, everything is important. Concentrating on the close-ups is also a must.

Some classic examples of elegant wedding photographs can be seen in different websites. The background, the attire and the colors are so well matched that it seems natural and not just photography.

Classiness also lies in the different positions and angles used for photography; it isn’t everybody’s forte. Only a handful of photographers can give you those perfect shots to make your wedding photos stand out in the crowd.

Capturing every emotion is also another sophistication of photography. The bride goes through countless emotions on the weeding day – sometimes happy, sometimes sad, and sometimes nervous and sometimes longing for the groom. Remembering these emotions can give you heart-felt joy even after years of wedding. These photographs can freshen up your memory whenever you want to experience that special day once again.

Five Ways to Improve Your Wildlife Photography

There are a few ways to learn nature photography skills such as reading general wildlife photography books or reading interviews of wildlife photographers but the specific ways are the most effective. Here we focus on the three most important specific ways for you to quickly improve the standard of photographs you capture when on an Africa safari.

We stress ‘specific’, as we have seen people going on an African safari and being disappointed that they could not find a leopard even though they are skilled at photographing bears in Yellowstone, for example. Each continent has different animals with different habits and habitats that we must learn about before we can expect to capture great images of them.

This even applies from park to park in Africa – just because a photographer can successfully find and photograph the big-five animals in the Serengeti or Etosha does not mean they can just arrive in the Kruger Park, Pilanesberg or Kgalagadi and be photographing with the same results from day one. They need to first do some homework.

So here are the three ways that we have found helped us the most to improve our wildlife photography in the shortest period of time…

1. Read your Camera Manual!

Learning how to improve your wildlife photography begins with reading your camera manual – we cannot stress this enough! You may think this point is so obvious but we had a lady come up to us in Etosha just as a leopard had arrived at the Halali waterhole and she asked us to show her how to use her camera!

When you purchase your new camera you get a manual plus a quick start guide. Please read the quick-start guide and then don’t read your camera manual from cover to cover as it’s not a novel! The manual has a lot of information so what you need to do is break the information down into bite-size chunks.

And just because you own an old Nikon or Canon camera doesn’t mean that the new camera operates the same way! Each model can have different buttons in different places with different functions!

Skip the manual sections you already know then read what you need to know immediately and the rest you can read when you need to. You therefore should take your manuals with you – if you have a problem while on safari and you don’t have your manual how will you resolve it?

If you are like us you will have a large pile of manuals, for the different camera bodies, lenses, flashes and other accessories! This can take up a lot of space so rather download the manuals as PDFs to your laptop and take your laptop with. Go to a search-engine and type in “manual download PDF” with your make and model, and you will get a whole host of sites for you to choose from.

2. Understand the Basics of Photography

You should know how to obtain correct exposures by setting your camera’s ISO, aperture and shutter speed. These three elements work together to produce a well-exposed photograph.

In addition you should understand where to place your subject in the frame before capturing the image – this is known as composition.

And lastly you should know a bit about light and its direction. Front, side and backlight all produce very different effects on your photographs so you need to understand this and then where you should position yourself when photographing your subjects to make the most of the light direction.

This information is freely available on the internet or in general photography books.

3. Learn some Animal Behaviors Specific to the Park you will be Visiting

Invest some time researching the behaviors of the animals that you want to photograph or that you know are in the parks you will be visiting. The aim is so that you can learn some basic the behavior signals that lead to interesting behavior.

For example, a lion sticks out its tongue just before yawning, every giraffe, when it has finished drinking, raises its head very fast by flicking it up with the resulting spray of water making most appealing photographs and when herbivores have stiff posture or all stare in one direction, there may be a predator nearby.

The goal is for you to be able to anticipate what the animal is going to do when and then you need the endurance to be able to wait patiently for the right moment to start shooting.

A good place to start would be books like Richard Estes’ The Behavior Guide to African Mammals or The Safari Companion.

4. Go on Photo Workshops

The next stage of improving your wildlife Photography would be to go on a photo workshop or photo tour in the national park that you are passionate about and that you intend visiting a few more times. These photo tours are offered by many professional wildlife photographers who live in Africa or who visit Africa on a regular basis. A 10-day African safari photo tour will provide you with a very steep learning curve where you will learn so much in such a very short space of time.

These workshops can, however, be expensive, from between US$3 000,00 to over US$12 000,00 per person, depending on the duration and the destination. These prices exclude flights, tips and drinks.

If you have this type of money go for it – you cannot beat hands-on wildlife photography tuition, especially with a professional safari outfit who understands animals and understands photography.

Most of the quality tours limit the number of photographers to just 3 or 4 per vehicle so that you can shoot from either side or from the sunroof, while the cheaper tours will cram people into the vehicles like sardines.

5. Invest in Photography ‘Site Guides’ or ‘Park Guides’

If a photo workshop is too expensive for you or your schedule doesn’t allow you to attend then the next best thing is a dedicated photo site guide / park guide.

What tends to happen is that you arrive at a new destination and then you waste several days getting to learn the animal hotspots and by then it’s time to move on to the next camp or go home. Keep in mind that finding the animals is half the battle won.

Think of a tennis match – if you can hold your serve you are halfway to victory. It’s the same with wildlife photography – if you cannot find the animals you have nothing to photograph! Once you find the animal all you need do is implement what you have learnt in terms of light direction, exposure, composition and animal behavior to get a great photograph.

Site guides, specific to each park, will prepare you so that with a bit of study you will be able to photograph from when you arrive. Included in the site guides are shooting strategies for different areas & camps, specific times of day, light direction where to go when, expected subjects, and knowing what equipment & techniques will be most effective.

The site guides can be printed out or downloaded onto your laptop or Kindle so that you can refer to them while in the parks.

Most site guides cost between US$20,00 and US$50,00 – a very small price to pay for the specific and detailed information you get! Arthur Morris is the world’s premier bird photographer and he sells site guides for all his favorite bird spots. He has sold thousands of site guides to smart photographers who understand their value in terms of effective and affordable wildlife photography tuition.

But yes, there are people who refuse to pay the small price for a site guide – they will spend thousands of dollars on camera gear, travel and accommodation in the parks but they are reluctant to spend a few dollars on such valuable information. Arthur calls it ‘Site Guide Resistance’.

These people usually end up wasting a week’s salary on their safari and return home with regret as they missed so many photo opportunities, that they could have captured if they had purchased the site guide. Any purchase demands a return on investment (ROI) and the ROI on an African photo safari is the photographs you return home with.

Learn Digital Photography

Each one of us wants to become more effective in our photography. That could be winning a competition, selling your images or just taking great photos to put on your wall. So, what is effective for one might not mean effective for another. And, the person who determines how effective is…? You! How do you increase the effectiveness of your photography? Here are a few keys that have helped my students become more effective.

1. Plan

This is just so simple to do. The old adage, “those whole fail to plan, plan to fail” is so true with photography. Happy snappers just don’t get the images that are stunning and fit in the context of effective photography. Before you decide to go out and shoot make sure that you sit down, even if for just five minutes, and plan what you are going to do. What type of image are you going to shoot, where do you want to go and for how long. A simple plan will increase your effectiveness quite dramatically.

2. Make a specific time

If you are serious about your photography, whether it be for pleasure or to make a career out of it, set a specific time to go out and shoot. Tagging a shoot at the end of a busy day or rushing off a few shots before going off to work is not an effective use of your photography time. It deserves your full and undivided attention. In addition to this specify how long, an hour, two hours or even just thirty minutes. Then give it your full and undivided attention.

3. Implement something new

Effective photography means learning a new technique or method so why not try to implement something you have just learnt and see how it turns out. Treat it as a project or assignment. Better still enroll in a free online course or buy a book with assignments at the end of each chapter. Use these assignments as the basis of your photo shoot.and put into practise your new knowledge. If you are more experienced then use it to brush up on your rusty techniques.

4. Get some advice

If you have a friend who is more experienced than you or you are part of a photography club, then seek out their advice. Find out where you are lacking in skill or technique and ask them to show you how they do it. I always look to those more experienced than me for help despite being a photography teacher. Never stop learning and always be teachable.

5. Evaluate

This to me is one the most important things you can do as you learn digital photography. Look at what you are doing and then evaluate it. If you aren’t too sure then get others to help. Be careful who you ask as some people will say anything so as not to offend or hurt your feelings. Positive criticism is essential to uplift your level of competence. When you are trying out new techniques, print out the image and compare it to your textbooks or course material. Whatever you do keep on learning.

Turning Photography Into a Business

Photography is an enjoyable hobby that is practiced by many people. Turning photography into a business is not difficult at all. It is one of the easiest hobbies to turn into a business of your own.

Imagine making money doing something that you enjoy. Even basic photography skills can start you on the road to making money with photography.

Beginning photographers usually start by acting as event photographers. That means they go around and shoot photos during parties and dinner events. If you are lucky or if you try hard enough, you can even get a gig as the event photographer at a major trade show or convention.

Another very lucrative areas of work for those starting out in photography is portrait work. Many people find a need to have a good portrait shot of themselves at some point. These could be for their resume or to create a personal portfolio. You can easily and quickly start this section of your business by using friends and relatives. Very quickly, referrals will start flowing in from satisfied customers. This is the best chance to turn photography into a business.

There are many professional photographers who do nothing more than event photography work. Others specialize in portrait jobs. You do not need to find a specialization. As you start your photography business, be open to any opportunity to be the shutter-bug.

One very important point to remember – always charge for your services. It would be a bad start if you begin your business without charging a dime. This would be an obstruction to turning photography into a business. Even if it is a token fee, make sure that you are charging your clients (yes, even your brother). Once you establish a fixed business process and practice, given time and effort, your photography business will surely grow.

The Value Of Perfect Baby Photography

For some parents, baby photography begins prior to the birth of the baby. Once they get the good news about the pregnancy, many parents will take ultrasound images of their unborn baby in the womb. Each moment can be recorded right up until the mother gives birth.

After their child is born, many parents will hire a professional photographer to photograph their baby. Most of these photographs will be taken right after the baby is born or a few months later. This is the perfect time to portray the baby in all types of endearing poses while awake or asleep. These photographs will serve as constant reminders of some of the best moments of the parents’ lives and the beginning of a new one.

A baby photography session requires patience. This has to come from both the photographer and the parents because the baby will not understand what is happening. A good baby photographer has to be understanding and sensitive. The parents will therefore need to be very sympathetic and should monitor their baby’s comfort.

Parents often choose to use props during their photography session, which can help entertain and distract the baby; props can also help the baby feel more comfortable. In addition, props will enhance and give a unique look to the photographs. Depending on the needs of the parents, props can either be simple – such as baby toys, blankets – or larger and more intricate.

Some baby photographs include the baby’s parents. They can either be fully in the photograph or just parts of them, such as an image of the baby on the father’s hands or in a parent’s arms. These types of photographs portray a sense of tenderness and love.

Baby photography can be quick and easy to organize. Once the parents find a good baby photographer, decisions can be made regarding location – whether they want to have the session at home in a family environment or outside in a park or on the beach, which can provide a sense of imagination and a large expanse of space to photograph.

Photography and Special Effects Photographs

Photographs are amazing keepsakes alone, but there are special techniques which can enhance and spice up your pictures, making them even more unique. You do not have to be a professional photographer to use special effects or trick photography.

Even beginning photographers can shoot really amazing pictures that will require a second look. Learning these techniques is simple when you know the basics of photography, and the creative possibilities using the various techniques are endless. Here are just a few of the benefits offered by special effect photography.

Beginning Photographers Can Learn – You do not need to be a professional photographer to use effects or trick photography. It does however help to know the basics of photography such as shutter speed, aperture, and film speed. If you know the basics of photography and have adequate practice using your camera, then learning to do special effect photography is just learning the techniques used.

No Expensive Equipment Necessary – You can achieve special effects and trick photography techniques without spending excessive money on equipment. Any camera can be used if you know the special effects photography techniques.

Adds A Personal Touch To Photographs – If you want a photo to stand out, special effects and trick photography is the way to achieve this. Photographs which start conversations or require a second look, are just more fun to view sometimes, and with a little effort and practice, you can take the pictures everyone wants to see again.

Unleashes Your Creativity – Using your creativity through photography is exciting. You can capture a moment with time-lapse photography, or see the entire view through panoramic photography. Light painting can give your pictures a surreal look, and steel wool photography can make your pictures light up with sparks. You can capture the tiniest details with macro photography, and add more vivid color and detail using High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography. The possibilities and combinations are endless, and only limited to your imagination.

Adds The Wow Factor To Photos – Adding these effects to your photography can be a conversation starter, or bring out details that the human eye cannot see. They can be shot for your own personal satisfaction, or for a certain event. If you want people to look at your photos in awe, this area of photography is an element to use. You may just spark an interest in someone else who would like to try using the techniques.

If you are bored with looking at the same photographs, and want to make them more unique, special effects and trick photography is simple to learn. Not only will it increase the use of your creativity, but it will also improve your photography skills by using the camera on various settings and in various environments.

Special effects and trick photography is not a secret photography method that only professionals know and use. Anyone with an interest in photography, who has the most basic photography skills can achieve brilliant and eye-catching shots with practice.

Trick Photography

Photo editing is now possible using different programs such as adobe Photoshop, GIMP, Corel draw etc. Photo editing software can sometimes be strenuous to work with but they enhance the creativity in photographers.

There are a variety of photo editing practices that will transform greatly your pictures to an extent. Either getting rid of unnecessary parts from picture, extracting dust, marks and spots or resizing the image properly are among many editing strategies.

There are lots of stages in editing. Presently I will be discussing some photo editing tricks to try at home. These include getting rid of common errors in photos:

1. Tinting the Image – This is changing of color temperature of photo to make the subject emerge greener. The green look will make the colors become cooler, and this will certainly create a vintage look that features a lot of influence on individuals.

Tweak the contrast of the photo, and fine-tune the slider setting that regulates the whole tint. Normally, image editors allow users to adjust the tint of images without the need to work on certain areas of the image.

2. Stylizing Action – To make an action photograph look more dynamic, you will need to make duplicates of your original photo and change the color pattern so that you will have different color scales to work with. Primarily green or blue tints are good for dynamic, stylized action snapshots. The blurring effect is attained once the stylized photo duplicates are placed together in a layer.

3. Black & White – Vintage style is still in vogue, due to the fact individuals are frequently bombarded by color selection. A black and white picture works well when you are trying to lay emphasis on the actions your subject is performing. High contrast images have a tendency to underemphasize the background, therefore make sure you alter the brightness level and white balance in order to achieve the correct balance of light and color in your final output.

4. Pre-set Filters – Instagram and a variety of smart phone photo editing applications use pre-set filters to adjust color temperature and contrast level of images. Fill free to use your iPhone or Android device to take snapshots!

With the available photo editing tools you will be able to express and make editing even if you are away from your PC or Mac. My advice for you is to constantly take pictures using the highest possible settings.

You can always take off pixels from an image, however adding pixels once image is shot is impossible that’s the reason professional photographers prefer taking pictures in the RAW format, regardless of whether it takes up plenty of storage space in the memory card.

5. Sharpen Images – Digital sharpening through Photoshop and other similar program eradicates noise but also at the expense of some of the detail of the photos.

Hence, if you are going to sharpen your picture, it is advisable to focus on certain areas instead of the full image. This is to help retain dramatic parts of expression. Initially, it may not seem much, but when it comes to realistic look, excessive sharpening can affect the reality and quality of your pictures.