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Useful Photography Tip

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Years before light meters were invented and used by photographers, they used a specific set of rules to figure out what their camera’s exposure settings should be adjusted to. Today, this method is still used by some film photographers and very much so by street photographers.

What are we talking about? It’s called the Sunny 16 rule–and it’s the basis for how the Phoblographer tests a camera’s metering system.

So how do you do it? The Sunny 16 rule states that on a bright sunny day with little shadows your scene will be exposed at f16 and your shutter speed will be the reciprocal of your ISO. So that means that if my film is ISO 100, then I’ll be shooting at 1/100th and f16 on a bright sunny day with little shadows. From there, you figure out the other parameters based on how much sunlight is affecting the scene. Is it getting a bit cloudy? Then open up to f11. Even more shade? Then go down to f8. In the NYC subway system? Well, you’re going to have to get really low down in the settings.

So why would you do this? By simply looking to a scene and knowing what the exposure will be, you won’t need to fully rely on a light meter or your camera’s metering and instead you’ll be able to figure out what the exposure will be. In turn, this will get you the image that you want in a much faster process.

Chris Gampat Raiyan Saed's portraits (7 of 11)ISO 2001-160 sec at f - 3.2

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When shooting portrait subjects, there are typically three lights that you talk about: a main light, a fill and a hair light. But when shooting outdoors with lots of natural light, those rules to go out the window. Your main light often becomes the sun, whether diffused or not.

This tip is a bit more advanced and requires you to build on things cumulatively. First off, when shooting outdoors, we think that you should always try to shoot in the shade where you’ve got more control over the light. After you’ve got full control of the light, you can use a flash to add in a bit of fake sun.

Look at the edge of Raiyan’s face camera right, see the light? It was a flash in a beauty dish, but gives a natural look of sunlight.

So how do you do this? Let’s recap:

- Shoot outdoors

- Use the shadows and get total control over your lighting situation

- Place a flash either with the wide angle diffuser, in a beauty dish, or in a rectangular shaped softbox to add a bit of rim lighting

To make this even more emphasized with the look of sunlight, try adding a gradient–which builds even more on other tips that we’ve done. It’s all about adding the extra rim light that looks very natural but subdued.

Give it a shot. This is something you have to do more than us telling you about it.

f2.8

f2.8

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The image above didn’t originally look like that. Originally, the warm sunlight was only on the left side of the image (the pole) while the right side wasn’t touched by the light at all. Instead, it looked very blue and presented a mixed lighting situation. It didn’t look so great.

The way to fix mixed lighting situations when dealing with natural light has to do not only with proper white balancing, but also with gradients in Adobe Lightroom in order to correctly color balance other parts of a scene.

Gradients allow you to do a whole slew of things: add in extra lights, make those lights look like they are gelled, change white balances, add sharpening, etc.

This is a but of a longer Useful Photography Tip, so hit the jump to see what we’re talking about.

[click to continue…]

Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 3.02.41 PM

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You know that you’ve all had this problem–you shoot in RAW, but the image looks nowhere as good as the JPEG preview on the back of your camera’s LCD screen. So you go through the basic adjustments panel in Adobe Lightroom and with lots of disappointment, realize that you can’t make the image look like the JPEG.

We’re not going to tell you to shoot in JPEG (though there is no real problem with that) so what you should do is scroll down the the Camera Calibration section of Adobe Lightroom’s Develop panel and click on Profile. When you do this, you’ll get the camera profiles and even some of your own if you’ve bought them.

Own a Fujifilm camera? Velvia and Astia are finally yours…digitally that is!

But that’s not the end. You need to go in and sharpen the image, maybe kill some image noise, add a bit more contrast, boost the clarity and maybe mess with the exposure a bit. Then you’ve got an image that’s ready to go.

Go give it a shot.

Mary and Tommy Sutor's Wedding Batch 2 (42 of 149)ISO 2001-60 sec at f - 10

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If there is one very big sin in shooting group photos: besides not posing everyone in the most flattering way that you can, it’s about not getting everyone in focus. It’s very easy for someone to photograph a couple and only end up with one person in focus with the other one blurred into oblivion…or the bokeh.

Don’t let this happen.

For starters, physically walk up to the couple and tell them all that you want them all on the same plane–use your forearm as a reference point. Tell them you want everyone up to your arm. Then when you go to shoot, consider how many people there are. How many rows deep are these folks?

With your current focal length, what aperture can you stop down to and still get everyone in focus?

When you’ve figured this all out, shoot the image and ensure that everyone is in focus and in sight. This means that you’ll need to also position folks so that they’re clearly visible in the image.

Just make sure that they’re all on the same focusing plane.

Pro Tip: The larger the light modifier is, the softer the light will be on your subject in relation to distance from them.

Pro Tip: The larger the light modifier is, the softer the light will be on your subject in relation to distance from them.

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Your camera is at the lowest ISO setting it could possibly organically be at, your shutter speed has hit the maximum setting, and you still want to shoot an image with the lens wide open. The challenge: the sun is way too bright and giving off too much light to let you get anything near a correct exposure.

So how do you shoot the photo? There are three different ways.

The first one is the simplest and least expensive. Try to backlight the subject. Of course, this is tougher if your subject is a flower or your children running around because it means you need to get very low to the ground. But otherwise it’s a solid option.

The second option: use a shoot through umbrella or a translucent reflector to diffuse the sunlight. This will usually kill enough of it to let you get a more balanced exposure. In the case of the umbrella, it can also be used as a fun prop.

The final option: try a variable ND filter–which is what film photographers used to use. These filters let you cut out a specific amount of like that you set them to just by turning them. The quality of these filters has improved so much that it’s bound to not ruin the quality of your image.