Useful Photography Tip #182: When Shooting a Photo Using the LCD Screen, Bring Your Elbows Into Your Body

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The lead photo of this blog post is surely not the way to take a photo when using the LCD screen of your camera. Instead, it’s actually the worst way; but lots of people do it when they shoot with their phone or even with a camera that has an LCD screen. Instead, what you should do is find a way to stabilize it by also stabilizing your body.

If you take karate or any other form of martial arts, depending on the art form, they may tell you to never fully extend your arms because they’re an easy point for you to be taken down. Instead, get very close and extend only to your elbow. This way you’re more stable. The same idea applies to photography. The closer the camera is to your body, the more stable it will be, so that you don’t produce photos that have camera shake in them.

I normally try to keep Useful Photography tips very short but check out the image after the jump.

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Useful Photography Tip #181: How to Look for Abstracts in Landscape Photography

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One of the reasons why you use telephoto lenses in landscape photography not only has to do with capturing an entire scene, but also being more artistic about the format in one way or another. What some of the more advanced landscape photographers do beyond looking for layers of sky and land is look for shapes in a scene to focus in on and play with. So how do you do this?

  • Crops: Experiment with various crops of your images and try different sizes. Modern cameras have enough megapixels where you can crop for quite a bit.
  • Looking at things on a micro scale: You know how folks like pixel peeping? Don’t pixel peep but instead look at the image closer and make your psyche vulnerable to shapes, tones, etc.
  • Rendering in black and white: One of the easiest ways to do this is to go black and white. Looking for shapes, tones and everything else becomes simpler. You can find so much in a black and white image.
  • Shapes: Circles, lines, leading lines, squiggles, etc. Look for them and keep them in mind. Sometimes even rotating your photo can help.
  • Contrasting colors: Go for at least two colors; no more than three.
  • Think about paintings: Imagine the scene without any sort of details. In fact, try to strip them away in post with stuff like Gaussian blur. I personally really like to think about and bring up Bob Ross. He created paintings of scenes but nothing was incredibly detailed obviously because they were paintings. From this you can recognize in your mind what he was painting. The same goes for Van Gogh and so many others.

Our friends over at Outdoor Photographer have even more tips on how to do this. Head on over and take a look.

Useful Photography Tip #180: Spot Meter A Portrait For the Skin, Focus on the Eyes

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Here’s yet another quick portrait photography tip for lots of photographers who have been reading the meters of their cameras but getting the readings wrong. You see, light meters in cameras tend to read a scene and meter for what you tell it to meter for. So with that said, if you’re metering a portrait, the scene will be metered for the entire scene in the evaluative setting. Photographers have otherwise tried spot metering. Spot metering up until recently took a meter reading of the center of the image and then you recomposed based on that. But these days, you have the option to set the spot metering up with the actual focus point itself.

Now, if you’re spot metering, you probably won’t be metering for a person’s eyes necessarily because that can throw off an exposure. Instead, you’re going to focus on the eyes but you’re going to meter for what’s more important–their skin and clothing. To do this to your absolute best ability, I strongly recommend simply metering manually vs using something like aperture priority and overexposing by a stop. If I had exposed for the eyes of the subject in this post, the skin would have been much brighter.

For most camera systems this first requires you to check the metering of the spot that you’re working with–which should be the subject’s skin. Then set the metering manually. After this, simply move the focusing point to the eye, focus, and shoot. But with Sony systems you can focus on the face, take a reading, meter manually, and then activate the eye focus option to focus automatically on the subject’s eyes.

Pretty nifty, huh? Typically, if the light isn’t changing you’ll have the same reading over and over again.

Useful Photography Tip #179: The Golden Rules of Working with Film

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When it comes to working with film, there are a number of photographers who have obviously done it for years already. But interestingly enough, you don’t apply the same techniques necessarily that you would with digital photography. So here’s what you can do and the Golden Rules of Working with Film Photography:

  • Slide film: Expose for the highlights, but personally I like to overexpose just a tad due to the way that I light.
  • Color Negative film: Overexpose the film by around a stop. I’ve found great success in then developing normally.
  • Black and White: Lots of photographers like exposing for the shadows and developing for the highlights. Personally, I tend to shoot a lot of black and white film the box speed or giving it a bit more light or less light depending on my personal tastes. But with some films, you may not want to underexpose them–like Japan Camera Hunter Street Pan 400 which is a near infrared film that needs a lot of light.

That’s it! Good luck!

Useful Photography Tip #178: How to Get the Blade Runner Look In Your Photos

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Lots of photographers everywhere tend to want what’s called the “Blade Runner” look in their images, and what they don’t realize is just how incredibly simple it is to do within the camera and not even worry about post-production at all. And guess what: it has everything to just do with white balance and the lights around you. The scenes that we’re specifically talking about happen in the cities–which are bathed in Daylight colored lighting. If you’re unaware, a flash is balanced to daylight. When you look at the lights around you too, they’ll tend to be whiter in color and output. To clarify just a bit more, think about your phone’s white light color display and how it becomes warmer at night.

Back to daylight lighting: you’ll need to find a whole lot of that. Now there are two ways that you can proceed here. With your digital camera, manually set the kelvin temperature of your camera to 3200K. That’s the color of tungsten film properly and will give off the blueish look when you’re in the presence of daylight. Alternatively, load your camera up with CineStill 800T and go shooting. For the best results, shoot at ISO 800 when you’re around really bright lights. Otherwise, feed the film more light by overexposing by around a stop or so.

Useful Photography Tip #179: Why Shooting Landscapes With a Rangefinder Can Really Suck

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Medium Format and film rangefinders in particular seem like such a perfect package for going about and shooting landscape photos, right? Or if not, maybe you’ll want to tote along your Leica! But before you do that, you should note that that’s probably a really bad idea if you want to do things right. With digital, this can be easier because getting details in the highlights or shadows is as simple as moving a slider. If you’ve got burning and dodging skills that can be used in the darkroom, then you’ll also not really have a problem when it comes to printmaking. However, if you’re trying your hardest to get it right in camera, then you’re going to be working with a tripod, ND filters, and Graduated NDs.

And that’s where this all becomes a bad idea.

With a mirrorless camera that has an EVF or with a DSLR, you’ll be able to see exactly where the ND filter is covering in the scene. In most situations, photographers position graduated ND filters over the sky and expose for the shadows. But if you’re doing that with a rangefinder, you’re not going to be able to see what’s happening through the lens unless you’re using one of the newer Leica cameras with an EVF. So instead what’s going to happen is you’re going to put the graduated ND filter on in front of the lens and you’re not going to be 100% totally sure how much coverage you’re getting. You can make a guesstimate but that is as great as you’re going to do.

Instead, I tend to want to reach for SLR cameras and mirrorless cameras that have an EVF. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you can’t shoot a great landscape photo with a rangefinder. It’s just much tougher.

Useful Photography #177: Have a Portrait Subject Lean Forward from the Hips to Make a Chin Look Better

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Photographer Peter Hurley and many others tell portrait photographers to instruct their subjects to stick their chin out. When someone sticks their chin out, they elongate the area under their chin and therefore make their jaw line look better when it comes to taking a portrait. So in order to take it one step further without making your subject visually uncomfortable, you can also tell them to bring their chin down just a tad. But then what do you after that?

Here’s a tip: when the chin can’t be moved any more and you’re shooting a relatively tight portrait, have your subject lean forward from the hips. It’s important to not do this from the back–have them keep their back straight because otherwise this can throw off stuff like shoulder and the chest. So instead, make it also like the equivalent of bending down a bit from the hips; but instead just bringing the body forward a tad.

What this effectively does is brings the chin and neck down even more. These photos of Byron from Sony Mirrorless Pro show this off perfectly. You can check them out after the jump.

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Useful Photography Tip #176: The Simple Trick to Make Hair Easier to Work With in a Portrait

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Here’s the situation: you’re outside and about to shoot a portrait. But the wind kicks up and makes the hair from your portrait subject get in their faces. It goes everywhere and it’s pretty uncontrollable. So how do you deal with this aside from just waiting for the wind?

The answer is incredibly simple yet so incredibly underdone in the portrait photography world: pull all the hair to one side. When the hair gets pulled to one side, it’s out of the way and perhaps will make for something easier to work with. Most people have a natural part in their hair and so it can naturally look good going in one direction or the other. If you simply work with this you can make your life a whole lot easier when it comes to creating a portrait.

Like most of our other useful photography tips, that’s really all that there is to it. Just part a person’s hair and you’ll make it much easier to manage for a portrait.