How to Make the Most of a 50mm Lens for Portrait Photography

If you’re the type to often shoot at 35mm or wider, then a 50mm lens could be ideal for portraiture.

Photographers who often reach for 35mm or 28mm lenses can make a great case for using the 50mm lens for portrait photography. At times, an 85mm lens can feel too long, but modern 50mm lenses like a Canon RF 50mm f1.2 L USM can render a look like much of what’s on the market today. As one of its biggest advantages, it lets you frame your scene in tighter locations and also keeps you within a closer physical working distance to the subject. Best of all, due to the f1.2 aperture, the lens lets you seriously isolate your portrait subject in a way that only most 85mm lenses can.

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Learn How to Get Stunning Photos Using Parallelism

Looking for ways to improve your photography? This lesson on parallelism should help you get more interesting and eye-catching snaps.

With everyone essentially being photographers now, how do you make your work more insightful and set it apart from the rest? How do you keep improving your photography? The short answer is that you work on composition. One of the ways to achieve this is to apply the principles of parallelism to your photography. If you’re hearing about this concept for the first time, Switzerland-based freelance photographer Samuel Zeller talks about it in great detail and what it can do for your work.

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Everyone Should Be Able to Take Great Food Photos

In my ideal world, everyone should be taking great food photos but that’s not always the case.

One of the highlights of my brief but intense career as a food photographer has been to teach food photography; I really enjoy the passing of knowledge and experience down to those who want the knowledge.

For a couple of years now, I’ve been running one to one food photography workshops in Brighton and London and most recently, I was offered a lecture on food photography at the CNM College in London. I’m running two courses there: A full day food photography workshop where I teach the basics of photography, the differences of food photography, light and styling and then we set-up different food scenarios to put the theory into practice. The other one is a food photography lecture as part of their Natural Chef course where I teach the fundamentals of plating and manipulating food, the composition of a dish based on the recipe and ingredients and then the basics of food photography and food styling. It’s awesome to put my culinary skills into practice and more when it is for education.

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Pro Tip: Put Something in Front of Your Lens for Instantly More Interesting Photos

Bored with your photos? Try this easy pro tip to change the way you see and frame scenes and get instantly more interesting snaps!

Once in a while, we feel the need to shake up our routine, styles, and techniques to improve our photography. If you feel your work could use something new and different, you might want to try out this quick pro tip. It’s so easy that you probably haven’t thought of it before!

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Landscape Fundamentals: 10 Tips for Better Landscape Composition

Stop pulling your hair out wondering why your landscape photos aren’t turning out and try these tips!

Landscape photography is one of the easier photography niches to get into, while simultaneously being one of the harder disciplines to really master and be known for. But assuming your goal is simply to take better landscape photography, there are some things you should have in mind while you are out in nature looking to capture the beauty of the world around you.

This YouTube video from Shubert Photography offers a quick look at 10 tips for basic landscape photography composition. These are not earth-shattering, nor are they going to help you stand out, but they will give you some solid, basic tips on things to consider when you are composing your images to maximize the opportunities around you and increase the potential to capture an image that catches the attention of your fans. Continue reading…

Question: Why Do Photographers Still Need Tripods?

Back in the day, a tripod was a necessity for photographers

I’m going to preface this post by saying once again, no, this isn’t an ad of some sort. Our policies on sponsored content are clear and also clearly labelled. Instead, this is more of an insight into the evolution of photographers. Years ago, having a tripod was an absolute requirement. You’d put a camera on a tripod to ensure that your images were blur free due to your coffee drinking habits. You’d get a crisp images at ISO 50 10 seconds and f8 to the best of your ability. But then photography evolved and lenses started to become image stabilized. It got better and better and these days photographers don’t necessarily require tripods with them all the time. Plus now there is image stabilization built into camera sensors for the most part. So with all that tech supporting your ability to take a good picture, why do you need a tripod?

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How Do Leading Lines Work in Black and White Photography? (Premium)

Leading lines: they’re one of the first things that every photographer learns about when it comes to shooting images in school. If you learned online and without format training, then you probably studied the rule of thirds first. But when you’re looking at a photo, one of the best ways ro artfully create an image that photographers have traditionally been taught is by using leading lines. Call it a rule that needs to be broken, it’s still a very effective one that when done correctly, can trump pretty much any other rule out there with the exception of using text in an image. For many years, black and white photography was the way to go. But when color came around, things changed quite a bit. So let’s explore leading lines and black and white photography.

What are Leading Lines?

First and foremost, what are leading lines? Well, let’s look at the image above. The main lines in the image are:

  • The shadows of the people on the boardwalk
  • The people casting shadows
  • The horizon that goes inwards to the people
  • The lines and patterns that the birds are making

Why are these leading lines? Well, it’s because those are the areas that are leading a person’s eye around a scene. That’s more or less what leading lines do. Leading lines in photography find a way to take the viewer’s eye and direct it to exactly what the photographer wants someone to look at. Some photographers think about this later on while others are on point and look at it as it happens. Typically, the latter requires a specific creative vision but it can also just come with an understanding of how light works.

Leading lines can be used in conjunction with other compositional methods like working with the rule of thirds for example. They’re an inherent part of geometry–which is what Henri-Cartier Bresson worked with and that a number of other photographers work with every day. And in order to make the most effective, there needs to be a whole lot of contrast. But we’ll get into that deeper later on. As a preface, these days the movement of urban geometry and cityscape photographers tend to work the most with leading lines. They work just fine during the day, but arguably when they tend to come out the most is during the night. At nighttime, there tends to be a whole lot more contrast.

Understanding When Leading Lines are Most Effective

Now, let’s get something straight here: not every image will have leading lines per se. But you can find them in an image through cropping, editing, or even composing in a specific way. The old school photography minded folks out there will think that the image above is absolutely horrible due to the leading line that it cutting the man’s head off. This is why photographers use techniques such as depth of field and decluttering their background. Of course that works when you’re not being candid and quick, but you’d otherwise need to take your time and search for a background that isn’t visually distracting. The old school mentality would call this image a technical failure even though new school techniques would find it acceptable.

This is a problem that can be pretty easily fixed in post-production. The long way of doing this is by creating a mask and lightening up that entire area. But that becomes too tedious and not always fun.

In the example above, I simply created a gradient from the side going into the center and lightened the entire right side of the photo. It still looks pretty natural and the line doesn’t have as big of an effect now because it’s not extending out into the very end of the image. In this case, the leading line effectively worked against us but it can be negated pretty easily if you’re just careful. This satisfies both schools of thought.

Leading lines can also work really well when they’re not there simply because the human eye is designed to look at something and make sense of it. The example above with the roller coaster showcases that pretty well. It goes from tallest, to slightly shorter, to even shorter. It’s using the horizon to make your eye create a sort of triangle.

In Color vs Black and White: The Contrast

Believe it or not, black and white works significantly different when it comes to creating leading lines and working with them vs color. With color, you’ve got various shades of the ROYGBIV spectrum and colors can be used subtly to differentiate one subject from the other. Photographers have been using this technique for years. Here are a few examples:

  • Steve McCurry’s portraits
  • Landscape photography
  • Pretty much almost all of drone photography

Color is more or less easy to work with, but black and white is…well, different. Where color relies on luminance/saturation of colors, black and white photography relies on their tonality more so when it comes to working with leading lines. 

I want you to take a look at this example above. Can you guess which building was a shade of green? If you’re guessing the one all the way at the end, you’d be wrong. Instead instead the building with scaffolding on it. That building was a light shade of green but because of how light that shade is, it tends to blend in with in the white buildings on the right side of the frame. The buildings on the left were more greyish. However, just by looking at this image in black and white, you couldn’t tell.

So how do you use that effectively when it comes to leading lines? For starters, ensure that there is a high degree of contrast in the scene. Then ask yourself these questions:

  • What colors are in the scene?
  • Are each of these colors bright or dark?
  • What is the ratio of bright to dark colors in the scene?
  • Do these colors contrast a whole lot if you were to make them monochrome? Further, are there enough bright colors next to dark colors that create contrast and layers?
  • Do those tones end up leading our eyes around the scene in a specific way? How?
  • Is the scene distracting?
  • Should I step forward or move back?

Let’s start out with these.

Minimalist Photography Tip: Liken Your Photo to a Painter’s Canvas

Minimalist photography may sound easy in theory, but it’s challenging when you’re not working with a blank canvas. Photographers, like painters, work with a canvas to create their visual masterpieces. However, the differences in the craft aren’t limited to the tools of the trade. The canvas itself offers a clue on how these two kinds of artists work and the challenges they face to create an artistic image.

In painting, there’s a blank canvas to work with so the painter has the freedom to create an image from scratch. The photographer, in contrast, starts with a canvas that’s already full. Therefore, if the challenge for the painter is to fill the canvas, the photographer’s objective is to empty it.

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Shooting Cityscapes at Night, From Composition to Lightroom

Feature image screen capture from video, all credit to Serge Ramilli.

Shooting cityscapes at night can be a great hobby for photographers and civilians alike: the city never moves, it’s always available to shoot, and you can do it at your leisure. During day or night most can take some breathtaking images that will capture the attention of your viewers. But if you are new to this, the idea of shooting at night may give you pause… so, let’s remedy that.

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The Rule of Tenths is the Photographic Compositional Rule of Thirds on Hard Mode

You’ve obviously heard of the rule of thirds when it comes to composition, but have you heard of the rule of tenths? It’s basically a much more complicated rule of composition. Where the rule of thirds breaks images down into thirds diagonally and horizontally, the rule of tenths goes even further. You go both up and down when breaking your images into ten sections. Essentially, you’re breaking your images into 100 equal parts and composing your images based on those rules. They make a whole lot of sense for things like landscape and architecture, but can become more complicated when working with portraits, street photography etc.

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Levi Wedel’s Invisible City Envisions an Eerie Cinematic World Without People

All images by Levi Wedel. Used with a Creative Commons permission.

There are more than enough films out there that use and envision a near apocalyptic future, but perhaps none really capture it like Levi Wedel’s Invisible City. Levi hails from Alberta, Canada and the Invisible City project is a number of photos taken at night on medium format film. The scenes depicted are devoid of people–and when you look through the images it’s really easy to feel as if you’re completely alone in the scene. This sense of being alone leads to an eerie uneasiness that someone or something may pop out and get you; and that something is creeping in the darkness.

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How to Shoot Golden Hour Portraits That Require Less Editing

Spring is here; it’s a time for golden hour portraits and photographers to get excited about chasing the light in the creation of the killer photo. Many photographers love shooting during the Golden Hour especially due to its ability to deliver soft, golden light and to make a person’s skin tones look fantastic. When it comes to photographing people in traditional portrait settings, there’s something much more appealing about warmer lighting situations than cooler lighting. While cooler lighting surely has its place, warmer lighting is often more flattering.

So if you want to go out there and create better golden hour photos, here’s how to do it while also spending less time in Lightroom or Capture One.

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Want To Improve Your Instagram Photographs? Try These 3 Simple Styling Tips

Screenshot taken from video. 

The fundamentals of good photography apply to all kinds of mediums, from a professional grade DSLR or a smartphone. Composition has always been one of the most important factors in either making or breaking the shot. Professional wedding photographers Daniel Inskeep and Rachel Gulotta (and their dog, Carlton) created an extremely helpful short video on their Youtube channel demonstrating three easy to use composition tips on how to improve styling for Instagram photos.

The first tip shared in the video is all about perspective and how it can affect the different outcome of photographs. Typically there are three basic perspectives that can be applied: the birds’ eye view, 45 degrees and neutral perspective. Using birds’ eye view provides a top down perspective giving equal emphasis on all subjects laying flat, while the 45 degrees framing can result in a more 3 dimensional look, adding layers of depth to the image. The neutral position works best if you intend to use shallow depth of field to isolate your subject, creating that desirable “bokeh” background look.

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The Silence of Munich is a Beautiful Street Photography Series

All Images By Skander Khlif. Used Under A Creative Commons License

Photographer Skander Khlif moved to Germany earlier this year, to Munich specifically, and in order to get to know his new surroundings a little better he took a free Sunday and hit the streets. The resulting series, which he titled The Silence of Munich offers an in interesting perspective on the German metropolis and its residents.

For his trip, Khlif went to the center of town, a place full of museums and other beautiful buildings of art and architecture. Khlif noted on his description of the series, “The first Sunday I had to present myself to my new city and at the same time get to know ‘Her’ better! The heart of every city is the museum area and so there I went!” 

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Screw the Rule of Thirds: “Composition” For Street Photographers

All images by Mason Resnik

“I’VE SEEN THIS PICTURE BEFORE.”

It may be cliché to say that rules are made to be broken, but it can be argued that the genre of street photography is the photographic discipline where breaking the rules will most likely allow you to see—and capture—more interesting photographs.

Traditional compositional rules come out of pre-photographic art forms. Leading lines, the rule of thirds, centered subjects and so on were developed over centuries by painters, and others using two-dimensional forms in order to organize the content of their images and create a common visual language.

Visual artists—painters, photographers, cinematographers and the like—are taught these rules and mostly conform to them.

 

 

 

 

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How to Use an ND Filter For Better Seascape Images at Sunset

Seascape photography can help you create captivating imagery well worth hanging on your wall. One of the biggest tools that photographers use to create these images are Neutral Density (ND) filters. Essentially what they do (in layman’s terms) is cut down light in a scene. For many photographers, they’re very useful–and sometimes they’re a big staple in their camera bag.

Using ND filters isn’t really that difficult to do.

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Cityscape Photography: Composition, Gear and the Application

All images and text by Bryan Minear. Used with permission.

When it comes to cityscape photography, I truly believe that every city has a unique “soul” to it that you have to find and visualize. Let’s begin by talking about your mindset when approaching a new city. Sometimes it takes a little time to acclimate to a certain place in order to really get the “vibe”.

For example, I have been to Chicago about 10 times now. But it wasn’t until my 3rd or 4th trip that I really started to mesh with the city and shoot the kind of photos that were portfolio-worthy. The same can be said for NYC, which is wildly different than Chicago. I still absolutely love looking back at photos from my first or second trip there, but it wasn’t until later trips that I found my groove. All in all, just do what you can when you are visiting a place. When I vacationed to London, I only had four days before we were on our way to Florence and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to just come back to shoot anytime that I wanted. So I had to do the very best that I could in the time that I had.

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How to Create and Compose a Great Landscape Photo

All images and guest blog post by Sebastian Boatca. Used with permission

 

In my opinion, landscape photography is one of the most important categories in Photography. At some point, we all experimented with landscape photography and for a beginner, it is the perfect way to start learning and master the artistic and technical insights of photography.

I love to travel and when you encounter a beautiful landscape, especially when that moment of the day carries some beautiful emotions with it, your biggest desire is to capture that moment and cherish it, save it in your dearest memory collection and share it with the people you care about. This was the beginning of photography, for me. And like every beginning, you deal with difficulties, but the safest way to approach Photography is by starting with Landscapes. You have enough time to think about your composition, to get the camera settings right and your “subject” will not move or get bored, waiting for you to be ready for the shot. Landscape Photography is forgiving, is comfortable, especially for shy people and it is beautiful.

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