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Useful Photography Tip

Felix Esser The Phoblographer kid action pre-focusing

Taking pictures of fast-moving subjects can be difficult. Pre-focusing often helps a lot.

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Taking images of fast moving subjects can be very difficult–and we’re using the term ‘fast moving’ very loosely here. A fast moving subject can be anything from a racing car coming your way at terminal velocity, to a snail trying to cross the street. Ultimately, what is fast depends on how quickly and how accurately your camera’s autofocus is able to lock on to a subject that is not holding still. Some cameras are better suited at this, while some have a hard time locking on to anything that moves only slightly.

This is one of the reasons why sports photographer usually go for high-end DSLRs, as these have the most elaborate and advanced AF systems. A very good AF system and a lens that is quick to focus are a necessity if you regularly take pictures of moving things, persons, or animals. But not every scenario that involves a subject on the move is as unpredictable as a tennis player pacing across the court. So for some situations, there is a simple but effective trick to work around your camera’s autofocus limitations: to pre-focus.

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Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Fujifilm X100s photos from first meetup (18 of 26)ISO 10001-20 sec at f - 2.0

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Lots of folks when they’re first starting out (and even when they’re more experienced) bring their camera up to their eye and have their elbows and arms out and about. Even when combined with proper breathing control, you can still get blurry photos as a result of camera shake. The reason for this is because you’re not stabilizing yourself and instead your making your body more prone to shaking. The way to eliminate this problem is by streamlining your body and straightening up.

By this, we specifically mean by tucking your elbows into your body. The logic for this works similarly to taking photos otherwise–the close the camera is to your body, the more stable the photo will be. The further outstretched your arms are, the more shaky the image will be.

So what you’ll need to do is tuck your elbows into your body or as close as you can to prevent shaking.

Pass this onto to anyone who always has blurry images.

julius motal the phoblographer fujifilm x-e2 image 001

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So, you’ve offloaded your images onto your computer last night, and today, you’ve got a shoot. You can’t find your other SD cards, so you grab the one from yesterday. With the card in, you start shooting without checking how many images you’ve got left. Sure enough, you’ve exhausted all the shots, and the shoot’s not over. There are some great shots that you took, but in order to keep going, you have to bite the bullet and clear the card.

Always, always, always offload your images as soon you get to your computer, and make sure they’re backed up. Then be sure to format the card so that you don’t have to worry about hitting a brick wall in the middle of a shoot. Simply deleting the images from the card isn’t enough. Formatting makes sure you get rid of any artifacts on the card that’ll keep you from screaming at your camera. Also be sure to have some extra SD cards on hand.

concert - julius motal-2

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New cameras often bring with them a bevy of new features that can at times feel overwhelming. Whether it’s swanky built-in Wi-Fi or split-image focusing, there’s a great deal to explore, but the core functions are often the same across cameras. Out of the box, that new camera of yours is set to save images as JPEGs.

If you’re serious about your photography, mosey on over to the menu, and set your camera to save your images as RAW files. For those who don’t know, RAW images have loads more information than JPEGs, and more can be done with them in Lightroom and other editing platforms. JPEGs don’t have that much latitude in post-production. With a RAW file, you can save an image that would otherwise be thrown in the trash. So, setting your camera to RAW straight out-of-the-box means the difference between an image that can be salvaged and one that can’t.

Granted, you’ll have less shots to work with, but you can always buy another SD card.


Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony hvlf60m flash uses (1 of 5)ISO 16001-40 sec at f - 9.0

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If you’re starting out as a photographer shooting events or portraits, one of the biggest rookie mistakes made (along with using a Gary Fong Lightsphere incorrectly) is simply pointing a flash directly up towards the ceiling and expecting the best and most perfect results. The problem with this method is that you tend to create unflattering shadows (and there is a difference between flattering and unflattering shadows) on a person’s face and therefore make them look not their best. While many flashes give you a small bounce card, it usually isn’t enough to fill in those shadows either.

In the situation where you don’t have something like a large Rogue FlashBender, we recommend this: point the flash up towards the ceiling and behind you just a tad–then crank up the flash output around 2/3-1 stop brighter. Based on the way that light and flashes work, the ceiling is used to become a main light source as it is illuminated by the flash output. But if you put the light source right above someone’s face, you’ll create shadows underneath. However, if you move it around to above and slightly in front of them, the light will seem a tad more natural.

julius motal the phoblographer street photo tips 07

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The number of images available online is growing by the day, and if you’re looking for certain images, it can be a bit of a tall order to separate the wheat from the chaff. If you want your images to be seen, you need to do more than just upload them and share them on Facebook, Twitter, and the like. What they really need is to be properly tagged in the metadata along with the naming structure.

Tagging your images may seem like a bit of a chore, but it helps with broadening your reach. It certainly felt like a chore for me when I started putting my images online about five years ago, but I soon learned that tags are a great boon when you want your images to be found.

Consider the image above taken outside the Strand in New York City. Some of the obvious tags would include: books, literature, nyc, and strand. Perhaps less obvious is to put all the gear you used to make the image. In this case, the gear tags are: fujifilm, xe2, fujinon, and 35mm f1.4. Then consider environmental elements and aspects of image quality: winter, snow, street, portrait and bokeh.

If your images are properly tagged, someone looking for a very specific image could contact you about purchasing or publishing it.