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Useful Photography Tip

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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.

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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.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer GM5 Panasonic hand (1 of 1)ISO 4001-320 sec at f - 2.8

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While many street photographers tend to shoot with their cameras in shutter or aperture priority, lots of street photographers shoot in manual mode. If you’re looking to give this a shot, then we recommend a very handy trick (literally) to make metering a scene and people in the scene even easier.

When you point your camera at someone, it’s bound to try to meter for skin or for the person. In that case, a good place to start is to point the camera and lens at your hand, take a meter reading and adjust the shutter speed, ISO and aperture based on this. Then depending on if your scene is more dominated by shadows or highlights, you fine tune the exposure from there before even putting the camera up to your eye to shoot.

By metering off your hand, you’re exposing for a similar subject in most likely similar lighting and you’re that much more likely to get the exposure correct the first time around. Plus, folks don’t think that you’re posing a threat to them.

Go ahead, try it out the next time you go to shoot street photography.

Chris Gampat Lauren Englebert portraits Early winter 2015 first batch (3 of 8)ISO 1001-160 sec at f - 2.8

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“Smile.”

“Come on, smile.”

The problem with this is that your portrait subject can end up giving you some sort of really awkward expression that isn’t genuine and that clearly translates into that when you take their photo.

Meet Lauren: a fantastic woman I know here in NYC that wanted her portrait taken and that gave me the very same situation. So with this, I, as a photographer, faced the problem of not only making her deliver a genuine smile but also delivering an image that looked great in the end. So here’s how I did it and how you can, too:

– Pre-focus on an area of their face (in this case I chose her right eye that is camera left, closest to the light source and also closest to the camera.

– Politely ask for a slight sliver of a smile

– When the subject states that they hate their smile, try to figure out a way to make them genuinely elicit a feeling that will render a facial expression in the direction of what you’re going for.

– When Lauren gave me an awkward smile, I very seriously yet jokingly said, “A little less awkward and terrible please.” Because she knows me, it got a genuine giggle out of her. Because I had been pre-focused, I snapped the photo at that exact same time.

Yes, Lauren knows me, but even with other people that I’ve done this method with I’ve gotten it to work. The way that you get to this to work has to do with sitting down with the person first, getting comfortable with them, understanding where they’re coming from, having an actual conversation, and most importantly getting them comfortable with you.

So what’s the overall secret? Do something on the spot that makes them elicit a facial expression or body language that you want to capture. But first, have a personable conversation and relaxation time. Have a cup of coffee with the person first and chat a bit, it makes them realize that you’re a human and not just someone with a camera.