Useful Photography Tip #155: Want to be a Pro Photographer? Pay Your Taxes Quarterly

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer MyMiggo camera strap large review images (7 of 9)ISO 4001-1000 sec at f - 2.8

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Here in the US, professional photographers are getting ready to pay their taxes. One of the biggest things that you learn as a business owner though has to do with paying what are called quarterly estimates. This means that you pay taxes each quarter of the year in smaller bits rather than one large bit once a year. At the end of each year, you submit your expenses and income and readjust what you pay each quarter.

It works much better than paying once a year and also means that you discipline yourself much better on top of managing your monthly budget on a different level. Of course, there are also sales taxes and other things involved. The added benefit is that since you’re budgeting yourself in a different way then you’re also not spending excess money that you possibly may not have if you just pay once a year.

Additionally, you also end up paying taxes in a different way than regular employees do. For example, you can write off a certain percentage of business meals, marketing promotions, travel, office expenses, bills, etc. because they’re all seen as costs for your business. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you should splurge; but instead be honest about everything.

There are many benefits to photographers paying their taxes quarterly; and if you’re just getting started be sure to talk to your tax consultant about it.

 

Useful Photography Tip #154: Teaching Your Eyes to See Shadows and Light

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The above photo is not an emboss or done with any sort of special filter in Photoshop. Instead, it was all done manually by hand and with Adobe Photoshop Sketch on the iPad Air 2. It’s an image from my Sony a7s Mk II review and was rendered into a black and white simply because I liked the look of it.

What a lot of people don’t realize about photography is that the best still you’ll ever have is your ability to see light and judge it to help you create a better exposure. Black and white photography can help with that but so can literally taking a stylus and sketching over a photo of yours. By doing this, you’re matching specific colors to certain areas and learning more about the way that shadows and lighting works. With this photo, I was able to better understand how the image came to work–because of the lighting coming from the windows hitting Evelyn from one side being blown out and the shadows working to help create a pleasing scene.

By doing this, I was able to clearly differentiate how lines worked in the scene, how shadows worked, and the simplicity behind the entire photo. It’s what many black and white photographers talk about often: colors can be complicated to work with unless done really well.

Though it isn’t specifically involving you shooting an image, it’s still an exercise that will help you to carefully judge lines, lighting, shadows, etc if you pay attention to the parts of the scene that you’re painting over.

Give it a shot.

Useful Photography Tip #153: Creating Pure Black and White Images in Adobe Lightroom

Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 8.37.48 PM

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If you’ve ever tried creating a black and white image in Adobe Lightroom, most of the advanced photographers know that you should start by converting the image using the Black and White Treatment option. But the problem here is that sometimes you don’t really get just pure black and white photos. Instead, what you’ll get is a mix of some sepias or other tones that oddly look something like Kodak Tri-X or Kodak BW400 CN.

To create images in pure black and white that instead look something like Ilford Delta 400 or Delta 100, the process is fairly simple.

  • In the basic adjustment panel, move the black levels to the left a specific number. Then adjust the exposure of the image to be basically what you want.
  • Move the white levels to the right the inverse number. So if your blacks are -38, move the white to +38.
  • Scroll down to the color channels and you’ll see options called Black and White mix with specific color regions and channels.
  • Click the color selection tool and move the mouse pointer over areas of the image that aren’t quite either black or white. Then click and raise or lower their exposure levels.
  • After this, come back to the basic adjustment panel, lower your contrast and adjust your exposure.

That’s it! That’s how you create more pure black and white photos using Adobe Lightroom and all in less than a couple of minutes.

Useful Photography Tip #152: Print the Photos That Tug at Your Heart

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Leica M9 at Bryant Park (10 of 27)

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For many readers of the Phoblographer, you’re probably celebrating the Christmas holiday today. And today should be not only a day that you spend with those you love and care about the most, but also one that makes you remember to not only take photographs, but make them. Beyond just making the photographs, make them special.

In today’s mostly digital-centric photography world, we take photos, post them online and forget about them. But truth be told, that wasn’t photography was designed for. Photography was designed to capture a moment that will last forever. To that end, the way that we have to remember the images that we take these days is to physically surround ourselves with them. Shoot a photo and then print it. But don’t just print any and every photo, print the ones that mean something to you and that tug at your heart.

Though it may not physically last forever, it’s bound to always make you remember that very precious moment in your life.

Happy holidays to everyone.

Useful Photography Tip #151: Direct Flash and Macro Photography

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Direct flash Macro tutorial (3 of 3)ISO 4001-30 sec at f - 2.8

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One of the best ways to get even illumination in a macro photo is to use a flash. But you don’t need to use a giant ring flash. At the same time, ring flash attachments for hot shoe flashes tend to cut down on the amount of light that comes out–which forces the flash to work harder than it really has to.

Instead, just simply set the zoom head of the flash to the longest focal length, set the lens to the macro focusing range, and shoot. In the case that you’ve got a TTL flash, this is very straight forward if you also have radio triggers. Otherwise, you’ll need to set the flash manually–which really isn’t such a big deal and allows you to have even more control in an even more straightforward way.

This method can make the output from an older lens like the Tokina 100mm f2.8 Macro lens look really great. And as far as flashes go, there are loads of affordable flashes and triggers from Yongnuo, but in the image above I’m using the Phottix Laso with a Canon 580 EX II. Sample photo is after the jump.

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Useful Photography Tip #150: Black and White Images Fool The Eye Into Thinking They’re Sharper

Black and white vs Color comparison the phoblographer

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A while back, I posted a short tutorial on the secret behind sharper photos; to this date it’s one of the site’s most popular posts. But as I’ve been experimenting more and more with black and white photography, I’ve noticed something different. In that secret to sharpness post, I talk about the black levels and how deeper blacks help the eye to perceive that you’ve got a sharper image. It’s part of the idea behind the manipulation of contrast and mid tones in Adobe Lightroom.

While I’m not suggesting that everyone always shoots in black and white, if you want an image to appear sharper, you should convert it to black and white. But at the same time, don’t use this as a crutch to not getting good lighting and a sharp image to begin with. Just use it as a way to enhance the experience if you absolutely care about a critically sharp image that will make people on DPReview’s forums order Vaseline and Kleenex.

In general, high contrast and overly sharpened black and whites generally look much better than images in color.

You can view the images individually after the jump.

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Useful Photography Tip #149: Remove the Lens Hood When Shooting at Macro Focus Ranges

macro

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Lens hoods are generally a great idea. In fact, I’d say that you should always have one on the front of your lens to protect the front from damage of most sorts. But if you’re shooting with a macro lens in the macro ranges (super duper close up focusing), then having the lens hood on isn’t such a great idea.

Sounds like photography 101, right? Unfortunately, for many folks it isn’t.

When you’re focusing on a subject within the macro ranges, you’ll need all the light you can possibly get. At a certain focusing distance from the subject, a lens hood will just get in the way of allowing more light into the scene or even to allow light in the scene at all. You’d be surprised at how that can happen even if you’re using a flash or strobe lighting.

To get the absolute sharpest macro images, it makes sense to do this with a traditional and proper studio setup involving a tripod, strobes, reflectors, etc. That way you can control the light to function exactly how you want it to with your camera set to a low ISO reading. Oh right, and be sure to remove the lens hood.

If you’re really concerned about the front element of your lens, then a UV filter is an affordable solution.

Looking for your own macro lens? Here are some you’ll really enjoy.

Useful Photography Tip #148: A Trick to Taking a Better Photo of Someone in Costume

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Halloween is coming up, and you know what that means? You’re going to spend the entire time alone at home eating all the candy by yourself and watching reruns on TV spend time taking photos of people in their awesome costumes. But don’t just ask them for a portrait–make your photo stand out from the crowd. We’re not just talking about adding lighting to bring out beautiful details in the image, but instead this is all about posing and scenery.

First off, try to get a neutral background, that way someone will be able to focus on just the person and the costume when they look at your image.

Then, try to go for even lighting on the subject. If you don’t have a flash, then go for ambient light sources like a street lamp or a ceiling light.

Lastly and the most important, talk to the person about who they’re dressed as and try to get them to mimic a specific pose from that person or thing. It’ll just make sense. For example, if someone is dressed as Stewie from Family Guy, you know to make sure that they look miserable or like they’re plotting something.

The last bit is the most critical part and like anything in photography, it requires communication between people.