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Useful Photography Tip

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nikon D810 first impressions product images (5 of 8)ISO 4001-60 sec at f - 3.2

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When it comes to seeing through a viewfinder, many folks don’t ever bother to adjust the diopter of their camera. But the truth is that you really should adjust it lest your eyes strain when looking through this very small hole. The problem though is with people not knowing how to properly adjust it for themselves.

For starters, consider your eyesight. If you wear glasses you’ll know whether you’re near sighted or far sighted. Depending on your prescription, you’ll want to adjust the diopter accordingly. Diopters often have a +2 or =3 setting to enable photographers to adjust what they see through the viewfinder for their vision.

Both EVF and OVF work differently though. With an EVF, it’s mostly a matter of looking through the viewfinder, turning on text displays and adjusting the diopter until you can see the text correctly. But when working with an OVF, it can become much trickier as what you’re seeing is optical and not electronic. For optical viewfinders, we recommend taking the lens off, pointing the camera at a light source and looking at the focusing points through the viewfinder. Then adjust the setting accordingly until you see them the clearest. When this is done, you’ll have set the diopter for your eye.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samsung 85mm f1.4 review images (1 of 2)ISO 1001-800 sec at f - 2.0

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Before you even get into reading this piece, know that we’re talking about an actual lens focal length, not equivalent to field of view. Look at it this way: you like taking photos with a 50mm lens, right? Let’s say you’re working with Micro Four Thirds camera options. In order to get a 50mm field of view, you need to slap a 25mm lens on your camera. But guess what? That 25mm lens will still act like a 25mm lens. It will be just as distorted and even though you’re still using the center area of the lens more or less you’ll still get all the problems that a lens like that faces. To get rid of that distortion, you’ll need a longer focal length. I found this out the hard way when working with a subject of larger stature. Though I felt the images looked great, she didn’t–and the only thing that really could have helped would have been a longer lens.

To eliminate that distortion to begin with, you’ll need to work with longer focal lengths. The generally accepted portrait focal length is an 85mm or longer. Now again, I’m not talking about an 85mm equivalent field of view on Micro Four Thirds. I’m saying that I need at least an 85mm focal length. Yes, the M43 coalition does a great job with making sure that their lenses are superb, but if you’re going to do portraits then you should eliminate any sort of distortion problems from the start.

Moving up to larger formats like APS-C or Full Frame, we think that the 85mm to the 135mm range is a great area to start working. Remember, the main thing that you’ll need to do is keep the distortion down to begin with.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony A99 Studio Samples continued (5 of 9)ISO 100

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The importance of a rim light, also known as a hair light is very overlooked. It can add a lot of extra beauty and a beautiful halo effect to your subject whether it be a person or a product. The reason why it is often overlooked is because we focus on literally what’s right in front of us and not enough on what’s behind our subject.

Photographer Jim Johnson sent this tip into us:

“If you do studio photography, bounce a light off of the ceiling behind your subject. This accomplishes two things. It lights up your background & also gives your subject a nice hair light to boot.

This does not work well with follicle challenged (bald) people. I have a boom to which an older white lightning strobe is attached. It is bounced into white ceiling panels or I could use an umbrella if need be.”

What Jim is saying doesn’t only apply to rim lighting in this case but also the idea of making a background go to a seamless color–as is the case with photographing a subject on a seamless white background and having to crank the light up one stop higher than your key light.

More specifically, a rim light doesn’t always have to be created with artificial lighting. The easiest way to add a rim/hair light is to backlight your subject using the sun. This is where golden hour is usually best because of the nice, warm glow that it can give to hair. If your flash/strobe is capable of overpowering the sun, you can create a very evenly lit image and surround your subject in light.

This tip comes to us from photographer Jim Johnson.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Shooting Coffee Steam tutorial (1 of 1)ISO 8001-80 sec at f - 1.4

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Every single photographer and artist faces some sort of terrible creative slump. It’s an incredibly scary moment for all of us but an essential one as it helps us to grow and evolve into better shooters. And as we grow, we need new ideas. When recently faced with both writer’s block and photographer’s block, I decided to find a way to still stay absolutely productive instead of stepping away from being creative.

And so it began with something that I learned years ago in poetry class in high school. But when applying it to the photography world, the advice is so super simple: shoot anything. Shoot anything and figure out a way to just keep shooting. Then build on the idea of what you shot and do a free-word association challenge. Let’s say you photographed a picture of your morning coffee. In this case (and every case) apply the thought process of who, what, when, where, how and why. When you do this, you can think about questions that can apply to this. Eventually, it turned into my own little miniature photo project into how to make the perfect cup of coffee. That lead to story boarding and figuring out the right angles and lighting. Then the post-production. And before you knew it I had my own little photo project done in under an hour.

So when a creative slump hits, think random and think free. Don’t get confined by burnout.

We’re not saying that this will work for everyone, but why not give it a try?

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Lomography Bel Air Hands on Review (2 of 10)ISO 400

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The other night I was in a bar with a photographer that we featured here on the site recently. When we chatted, we talked about how the industry was going in general. She (the photographer) assists other larger names and does her own work on the side. For extra income, she thought about doing weddings with another photographer she is close with. The problem is that they didn’t want to deal with the editing process and everything else in the post-world that has to do with working with weddings. Additionally, everything that they found wasn’t worth the money and there are tons of low ballers out there. Essentially, that is also only one of the reasons why wedding photographers get paid what they do.

So after chatting with her and a couple of other photographers, we figured it out: just don’t post-process. If anything just shoot JPEG, cut the session down to the best images, and then hand them off to the clients. This goes for weddings, portraits, events, etc.

Again, we are not preaching laziness here–and if you take away from this article that we are doing that then you’ve obviously not read it. We’re preaching a way for photographers to make some extra cash on the side and still make the work profitable for them. If someone only wants to pay you $300 for a wedding and you’re giving them six hours of your time, just find ways to cut corners and make your time totally worth it and as profitable as you can.

On the other hand, if someone is paying you handsomely, put the according amount of work in and show that work off in your portfolio accordingly. Then always keep in mind that the high end photographers will never compete with the ones that only do cheap weddings because they are totally different price points. To the gear heads, it’s like comparing a Nikon D4s to a Canon Rebel.

Then in the end, just don’t tell anyone that you did it.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nikon D810 high ISO samples Speakeasy Dollhouse NYC (3 of 9)ISO 8001-80 sec at f - 2.5

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We’ve done a slightly longer tutorial on how to make an image look sharper, but what if we told you that you can do it in Adobe Lightroom in less than 30 seconds and without even touching the sharpness sliders? Sounds crazy, right? Well, the reality is that it is completely possible.

Like our other tutorials, it begins with proper in-camera exposure techniques. For the absolute best sharpness from a lens straight out of the camera your best bet is to use some sort of diffused flash. It could be as simple as bouncing a flash off of a wall. If not, then consider stopping your lens down just a bit and exercising the reciprocal rule of shutter speeds to ensure that your image is blur free from camera shake.

Then if you bring your image into Adobe Lightroom, all you’ll need to do is raise the overall exposure of your image by around 1/3rd of a stop, lower (deepen) your black levels, raise your contrast, and raise the clarity of your image by just a tad. And to be honest–you’re done. The human eye looks at images with deeper blacks and puts a stronger emphasis on other colors in the scene to be able to naturally find objects. In this method, you’re actually fooling the human eye into thinking that something is sharper than it really is.

Give it a shot and see how many people you can actually fool with it.