The Basics of Photography: A for Aperture

Felix Esser The Phoblographer SLR Magic 35mm f/1.4 Aperture

Today we start our new series entitled The Basics of Photography. The series is aimed at the aspiring amateur photographer who desires to learn more about his photographic gear and photographic techniques. It will cover all the basics you need to know about photography and explain all the jargon terms. We will start off with the letter A and go all the way through to the letter Z in the coming months. Today’s issue of The Basics of Photography deals with a part of the lens–the aperture.

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UV Filters: Do They Degrade Image Quality?

B+W UV Filter

UV filters, do they degrade your image quality, or are they actually useful? This is a question asked by many, and often answered  in many different ways. My goal is to provide you with a meaningful answer based on my experience. The big question is, should you spend your money on these filters or skip them all-together? Read on for my opinions.

 

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Field Instructional: Disaster Aftermath Photography

Very close to where I live

Hurricane Sandy Passed through. It left a trail of devastation. This is the second year in a row we have had freak weather after Photo Plus expo. Yesterday, I went out on a walk just to see how my neighborhood was doing before the worst part of the storm hit. Our Editor and Chief went out and tested the Canon 5D Mk II and the 24-70mm f2.8. These things were easy to do. In the storms’ aftermath this is where things get hard, especially for  photographers. Some of us want to get and shoot but it can be dangerous for us in many ways.

Here I offer you practical tips to help you get through the aftermaths of events like this.

Editor’s Note: If you’re going to do this, please exercise a ton of caution and please think about your safety first. Please, please, please; if you are going to try to attempt shooting in hazardous situations, please think any movement you do through and always plan ahead before you head into the maelstrom. We wish all the victims and those who had unfortunate circumstances happen to them during Hurricane Sandy a speedy recovery and only the very best. May the upcoming holidays bring you miracles.

 

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Tips on Taking Better Halloween Photos

Everyone’s favorite spooktacular holiday is right around the corner. You’re also bound to be taking your camera out to capture and document the activities and people’s costumes. But if you want your photos to stand out the next day when everyone is flooding Facebook with theirs, you’ll need to try a couple of things.

Here are a couple of pointers from The Phoblographer staff.

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My Data Backup Strategy (and Why it’s Important)

As photographers, our data is our most important asset. Unfortunately though, it’s also the most volatile part of our entire production. Hard drives are fragile, memory cards can fail, and worst of all, gear can be lost or stolen. Without our data, our history and credibility as photographers is gone, and all of our time building out our portfolio is wasted.

If you take any of your work seriously, or even would just like to preserve your memories more securely, you need to think about creating a file management and backup workflow. Having multiple copies of all your data is crucial, and creating redundant backups has become incredibly easy with the advent of cheap hard drives and highly effective off-site backup solutions. I’m going to recommend a few very effective and easy to use backup systems that I use regularly, and explain why I believe it’s absolutely critical that you implement something similar.

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Getting the Right Flashlight for Light Painting

Have you ever had the urge to take gallons of colored paint and throw them at inanimate objects? If so, then you are in good company because I would love to do that too. Since defacing national monuments or other ancient forest artifacts is frowned upon, I decided to use flashlights instead. Amazingly, the results are pretty good when carefully done.

But before you go out and get yourself arrested for destruction of public treasures, read this and find a way to satisfy that inner child with a box of virtual crayolas and not have to clean up when you are done. Interested?

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Creating “Faux-DRs” From Single RAW Files In Lightroom (Or Any Other RAW Software)

In his recent post on HDR photography, Andy mentions the possibility to create HDR images from single RAW files by developing them with different exposure levels. This way, an image with enhanced dynamic range can be achieved from a single exposure — which is handy when you don’t have a tripod with you, or your scene features moving objects. But you still need an HDR software to merge the three files you get from your original RAW image. This made me think: isn’t there an easier way? Why yes, there is. I call it “faux-DR” (from French “faux” = false), and it is a simple technique that can be done with most RAW developing softwares — in this post, I will use Adobe Lightroom exemplary.

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5 Tips for Tasteful HDR Photography

HDR, or “high dynamic range” photography could divide a nation: either you love it, or you hate it. The problem is, HDR gets an increasingly bad reputation for being “hyper realistic” and painful to look at. There’s no denying that those photos exist, but there’s also a tasteful way of going about HDR, and creating a photo that is not only beautiful, but more accurately represents how the human eye witnesses a scene. Trey Ratcliff, a photographer that has built his entire portfolio around HDR, is often used as an example of someone who is able to put together absolutely stunning HDR shots.

See, The human eye has significantly higher dynamic range potential than the digital sensor in a camera, so images we take in situations with relatively high dynamic range can end up looking flat, and we lose detail in shadows and highlights. The goal with HDR photography is to bring those details back, and present a single image that does our scene justice. Here are a few tips on how to go about creating “tasteful” HDR photography.

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Quick Tips for Event Photography

 

Coffee Common NYC , An event I recently shot

In my time as an event photographer, I have come up with some things that always seem to work. They are simple and clean methods that never fail. It requires something that goes beyond just having great gear. A little preparation can go  long way.

So let’s get right into it.

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A Quick Refresher Course on Composition

We all get the gist of composition. Think of how many times you’ve heard about the rule of thirds or the golden spiral. If you’re just starting to take your photography seriously, however, there are times when we get caught up in things, or stuck on “auto”, and let this important aspect of photography slide to the backburner. When used properly, these elements of composition can make an image really come together. That’s because you frame and arrange elements together in a way that accentuates the subject and your own personal style. The viewer will, hopefully, walk away from the image with an understanding of visual aesthetics, form, and design.

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Basic Tips on Photo Archival

Now that you’ve had some fun capturing great photos and touching up the images to arrive at a finished product, it’s time for a less fun task – that of backing up all those files. This is one of the more mundane parts of being a photographer, but if you don’t, you risk losing all the moments you’ve frozen in time and the work you’ve put into them. So, what are some of the best methods and options for this?

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Making the Most of Window Lighting for Your Photography

I do not know what it is like for other photographers but natural light from windows is very appealing. Photographically, it can be your best friend. This type of light can be used to minimize your mobile kit, especially when it comes to food photography. Natural light from a window can also give still life and product shots an interesting look. If you are photo walking and want to get some quick food and coffee shots, a window can be a great tool that will, mostly, be there for you when you need it.

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The Beginner’s Guide to Travel Photography: Capturing the Spirit

So you’ve finally landed in (insert destination of your choice here) and you’re ready to give your camera a workout (in my case, a Canon Rebel XSi). Shooting in far-flung locations can be an inspiring and invigorating experience – but it also comes with some unique challenges. You have to keep the photographic in mind all the while attempting to get your bearings in check, which can range from which direction to go to converting currency to staying safe as both a foreigner and a photographer. This challenge is compounded when you want to get shots of people. This is, however, arguably the most compelling and telling way to capture the spirit of a place.
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Six Things They Won’t Teach You In Portrait Photography Class

The one thing that will teach you to become a better portrait photographer is failure. Typically, when you fail at something, you sit there and wallow in agony. Then you figure out what you could have done better and find a way to keep those mistakes in mind for your next project. Failure, trial-and-error, and perseverance will help you to create better portraits. That’s the first major lesson that they won’t teach you in portrait photography. Here are five more.

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Knowing Natural Light: Photographing Weddings

Bride and Veil
Bride and Veil

Bride and Veil

Natural light photographers have become wildly popular in the past several years. Many photographers actually market themselves purely as natural light photographers. There’s a good reason for this: natural light can create some of the most beautiful images that you’ve ever seen. Using natural light whenever possible is a no-brainer to give your images that beautiful, natural, dreamy quality that is synonymous with Weddings. However, there is more to it than just not using lights. People who have mastered natural light photography did more than just not use lights while shooting. You must really learn and understand how light behaves, reacts, and interacts with your subjects.

Click on through to view some tips to start you off down the right path for shooting weddings using natural light.

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Taking Environmental Portraits

Trainer
Trainer

Trainer

Some of the best pictures I think I’ve ever taken are of people in their own environment. Whether it’s an athlete in their element, a musician performing for the crowd, a trainer in the gym, or even a newborn that’s only a couple of days old snuggling up in some blankets. These types of images are powerful.

These types of images aren’t terribly hard to create. Click on through to learn a couple of my tips and tricks on creating these fascinating images.

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