Useful Photography Tip #184: How to Find the ISO Button of Most Cameras in the Dark

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You’re in a bind; you’re in a dark place and you’re trying to find the ISO button on your camera. What do you do? Some folks end up pressing buttons until they get to exactly what they want. But if you’ve got a camera with a dedicated ISO button, then you’re a bit more in luck. For some time now, camera companies have made their buttons have a little bulging dot on top of their ISO buttons. So when you’re in the dark, you’ll be able to feel for exactly what you need. Canon and Nikon have both done this for years and on the newer Panasonic GH5s, the ISO button has perforations on it while the white balance button is more rounded out. Once the photographer knows what button does what, they’ll be all set to shoot.

If you have a camera with buttons that are programmable, you’re not in as much luck. Or if you’ve got a camera with a dedicated ISO dial, you’ll need to look at the screen or the dial itself. But in these cases, the function buttons can help if you set them up in a specific way that you’ll understand.

Useful Photography Tip #183: The Trick Your Sony Camera Has That You’re Probably Not Using

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Photographers who want better metering of their scene should know that Sony has a bit more science to their camera metering system than you’d think. Besides the more traditional center-weighted, spot metering (which can be linked to the focusing point) and evaluative metering modes, there is another another option called “Entire Screen Average.” To figure out how that works, we asked Sony’s Mark Weir about just how exactly the algorithms do their magic. “Entire Screen Averaging meters the entire frame, but differs from Multi-pattern metering by eliminating the weighting on any individual segment.” says Mark. “The idea is to avoid any shifts in exposure that might be influenced by slight changes in composition.”

What that basically means is that it finds a way to look at all the different segments and averages them out, so it truly is an average of all the segments on the screen. This can be really useful in most situations. In other situations, spot metering is still my go to method when using Sony cameras.

Useful Photography Tip #183: Vinegar Can Kill Some Forms of Lens Fungus

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While this tip may not be the most important for photographers who own newer lenses, it’s very important for photographers who may acquire vintage or used glass. Something that can be quite annoying is fungus. In most cases, lens fungus doesn’t affect the image quality of a photo unless the fungus severe. It also depends on the type of fungus and how much there is. The severity will also determine how you go about dealing with it.

In many cases, lens fungus can be dealt with using vinegar–specifically white vinegar. White vinegar is a gentle cleanser that can take care of this issue if you catch it early. If the lens you’re working with is a bit more infested with fungus, then it’s going to be a much different story. You’ll probably need to bring that in to an expert who will deal with it themselves.

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.