Monthly Archives: August 2018

Beginner Photography Tips

With that in mind, I’d strongly advise you to read through the whole article, even if you’re an average amateur, just to freshen up on the mental aspect of photography. I’ve never written an article on my way of thinking when taking pictures, but I think it’s cool because it’s not like your everyday photography.

Learn To See Creatively

The best way to learn to see creatively is to take more photos. The reason being is because the more pictures you take and the more time you spend on your photography , the more you will begin to see things you would normally never see. The eyes of a true photographer, or artist, sees shapes, patterns, light and color when walking down an ally or across a street. For example, let’s imagine I took a photo of a railroad track at night in a big city:

I saw a good photo because of the 1) light reflecting off the metal 2) the contrasts in color between the wood and metal 3) the strong diagonal lines of the track leading from edge-to-edge. Before I learned how to see creatively, I’ve probably walked over that railroad track a million times and not once have I seen it the way I do now. All these things added together create a great picture for the eye. That’s good and all, but, the photo is missing a strong message. It doesn’t emit a strong enough feeling/emotion when one views the photo. To get that, you gotta:

Feel The Moment

If the following makes any sense what-so-ever, it’s that I believe everyone has the ability to see creatively in their own personal way. To see creatively is, in my opinion, to set your mind free and get in-tune with your feelings. These feelings are what drive powerful photographs. And if you can get your brain, eyes and camera to link with your feelings then you’ve just opened up a door that has the potential for you to become a great photographer.

You want people to feel your photos; To get a strong emotional reaction because it’s all about the feeling, the impact and the structural composition of a photo. There are just a few key steps to improve the feel and impact of your photos, making them into memorable masterpieces. It’s certainly not as easy as you’d think and definitely not something you can learn in a few hours or a few days. It may take weeks, months and sometimes years. It’s all up to you and how much time and devotion you spend taking photos and learning photography. When you are out shooting and see something you want to take a picture of, stop and ask yourself these three questions:

  • Why do I want to take this photo?
  • What is the main message of the photo?
  • How am I going to take the picture effectively?

Keep asking yourself these three questions before you press the shutter and, I promise you, there will be an improvement in your photos. Let me explain the questions in more detail:

The question “why do I want to take this photo” forces you to explain your feelings. You did after all stop to take the photo because you “felt” it could be a good photo. But why? Was it because the light was good? Was there something extraordinary happening? The more you ask yourself why and the more you answer why, the more you’ll start to feel the moment and start seeing creatively. Remember, it’s all about feeling and communicating that feeling to the viewer.

So now that you know why you want to take the photo, you have to ask yourself, “what is the main message of the photo?” This question will better refine the first question, helping you define the actual subject whether it be exquisite shapes and colors or a person whose face tells a story of a life-long struggling journey. Whatever it is, it prepares you for the next question:

“How am I going to take the picture effectively?” Well, you can start by thinking of the first two questions and what their answers were. Imagine this as an example:

Say you’re sitting in a car at a red light and see a man starting to cross the street. You feel it can make a good photo, so you ask yourself “why” and answer “because the sky is blazing red and the timing just right.” So you quickly ask yourself the next question, “what is the main message of the photo” and answer “to get the feeling and mood of an urban sunset.” Next you swiftly take out the camera (shame on you not having it out already) and ask yourself the final question; “How am I going to take the picture effectively?” You struggle at first, then you realize that timing is everything. So you quickly compose the shot, frantically making sure the buildings are lined up roughly using the rule of thirds and wait until the man crossing the street is right in the middle of the blinding sun, creating an awesome editorial like silhouette.

These three questions will become second-nature to you and soon you will find yourself asking and answering these questions sub-consciously. Just remember once again, that communicating your feelings through your photographs by using your creative eye and brain, all linked together will make for amazing, memorable photos.

Study Amazing Photos And Books

Granted, I’m not an amazing photographer by any sorts, just an average amateur, but I believe that if you want to take good photos, you can, and you can do so without going to school. I am self taught in pretty much everything I do, photography being my main passion. A big influence for me are amazing photos. You can learn a lot by studying them and figuring out what makes it an awesome photo just by asking yourself the same three “why”, “what” and “how” questions mentioned above. I sometimes spend hours just analyzing photos, both to enjoy and also to figure out the ingredients of making it a memorable photo. Go to sites like Flickr, Photo.net, 500px and 1X because not only do they have photos, they have amazing photos. Especially 1X. Look at the photos that interest you and ask yourself why they interest you. Just start studying them, and read the peoples reactions to the photos. Learn everything there is to know.

If you like to learn through books and want something good to read, I’d suggest picking up at least 3 out of the 5 books mentioned here because all 5 of these books have made a significant impact on my photography:

  • The Photographer’s Eye: Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos by Michael Freeman
  • Understanding Exposure, 3rd Edition: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera by Bryan Peterson
  • Scott Kelby’s 7-Point System for Adobe Photoshop CS3 by Scott Kelby
  • The Hot Shoe Diaries: Big Light from Small Flashes by Joe McNally
  • The Camera (Ansel Adams Photography, Book 1) by Ansel Adams and Robert Baker

Did you notice that I picked 5 books on 5 completely different subjects? That’s because with these 5 books you can learn everything from off-camera lighting and composition, to Photoshop and exposure. These books combined together are just awesome to read and study, and because they’re written by very well known photographers, you know there’s good info to gather inside.

Get Constructive Criticism

Improving your photography and taking good photos means you have to get advice from the pros, because they’ve been where you’re at and know the good and bad, and the right and wrong in photography. I personally have never talked to a real “professional” photographer face-to-face. I’ve only chatted with pros through the use of web forums and email. I’d suggest, if you can, to meet a few pros and join them in a few gigs or whatnot, which is actually something on my to-do list because working with an actual pro will give you hands-on experience and get real feedback, real constructive criticism, unlike the kind your family and friends give you.

I’d suggest you sign up to one or all of these critique websites because they, too, can give you honest but sometimes blunt, constructive criticism. Google the following to find the sites:

  • photocritique
  • flickr
  • digital-photography-school
  • And last but not least my favorite and by far the best of them all, 1X. You have to sign up to see and use their critique system, but it’s totally worth it, and free.

What you do is you sign up to one or all of the critique websites, and post a photo that you want to receive some feedback one. Most of the time these sites require you to give feedback on at least one photo before posting your own. This makes the community balanced, so everyone doesn’t just keep posting pictures for critique and never give out any critiques themselves.

In addition to critique websites, there are a few photography blogs that I love, also. The first being the well-known blog authored by David Hobby called Strobist. His blog is mainly about off-camera lighting, or hence the name, strobes. I have to mention him just for the sake of mentioning him, Ken Rockwell. He’s pretty much a Nikon fanatic that talks jokes a lot about a wealth of different subjects. He also has a lot of great information on Nikon camera gear. Joshua Hoffine is probably one of my favorite photographers because he sets up his shots as if they’re movies. He also has a great blog so I would recommend that you follow him just so you can see his latest amazing work and how he creates them.

And now for the no brainer…

Keep Pressing That Shutter!

Practice makes perfect and taking photos is no exception. If you want to become the next best photographer in town, or in the world (hey it’s possible!) you have to get out and start shooting more. And for those who log in 60 plus hours of work a week and still strive to be a great photographer, you have to find time to get out and shoot. It’s tough, I know. I only work around 50 hours a week at my retail job here in Berkley, Michgan and know first-hand how hard it is finding time to take photos.

If you want to get better, you have to dedicate time to shoot pictures. When I first got into photography I didn’t spend more than a few hours a month with my camera. And it showed; My photos looked the same as they did when I first started. Something needed to be done so I got into the habit of spending a few hours every week working on my technique. That eventually developed into a few hours every other day learning how to take photos. Soon I’d find myself spending hours upon hours every single day taking photos and learning, that I think my head literally got a few centimeters bigger from all the information I had gathered!

Final Words

If there’s one thing that I’ve found out over the last year while trying to become a better photographer, it’s that attitude has everything to do with photos. Most of this article has nothing to do with an actual photography “technique” if you will, because I feel that if you’re told to take photos a certain way you’re constricted within a set silly rules, and you will never be able to explore photography with your own feelings. Anyways, I hope I brought up some good points, ones that you will take into action soon because if you do, I know you’ll soon discover that there is a great photographer within you. You just gotta have the motivation to continue and have the right attitude.

Inspiration for Your Wedding

Many couples have already booked their big items, like their venue, photography, food, etc. Once you start looking at the smaller details, it is useful to have a theme in mind to tie it altogether. But where do you start? Some couples will have their theme thought out long ago and some have no clue where to start. This is more for the latter, to hopefully get the creative juices rolling.

Your Story

As cheesy as it may be, dig deep and remember your journey together. Do you both enjoy going to the movies? Maybe an old-fashioned cinematic theme would work for you. Are you both very eco-friendly? Consider having a very green wedding theme. These sort of similarities (or sometimes differences) can be a great starting point to a theme.

Colours

It definitely helps to pinpoint a few key colours to use throughout the wedding, however this can also be a good starting point. Colours evoke emotion and mood. Maybe the bride has a set colour palette in mind, but nothing to go along with it. Use these colours to brainstorm – what do these colours feel like? Are they warm or cool shades? Is it whimsical/romantic/fun? A turquoise and yellow colour palette may suggest a more fun and light feeling, than a palette of reds and purples. And on the contrary a whole banquet hall set in deep reds and purples may give an opposite vibe to fun and light if that is what you wanted.

Seasons

Will your wedding happen in the sunny days of summer or will it be a brisk fall day? The season can be a great indicator of themes that can be created for your day. Picking a seasonal-oriented theme or even to just have some elements of it in place could save you money on flowers. Tip: Flowers are seasonal and will cost you more on the offseason, sometimes significantly more. It is always a good idea to check with a florist before you are set on having a specific type of flower for your wedding, especially if you are not having a summer wedding. Tropical flowers in the fall or winter, for example, will definitely come at a premium.

Your Venue

Sometimes your venue is a blank slate or sometimes it has its own look already. This is definitely something to consider when planning your theme. It would be hard to do a modern theme at a grand Victorian ballroom, or a princess theme in a sleek new building with all wood and glass. It can be done of course, but it would take a lot of extra decor and details to pull it off well, or you risk it looking like a poorly executed theme.

Digital Wedding Photography Tips

Taking digital wedding photographs can be much different from taking pictures with a standard camera. You will have a number of advantages available; however, there are also other considerations that must be made. Below you will find digital wedding photography tips to help guide you through the process.

Digital Wedding Photography Tips #1: Getting the Shot without Disturbing the Service

One of the most important digital wedding photography tips that should be observed is how to make sure you achieve the shot without actually disturbing the ceremony. First, you should always make sure the sound on your camera is turned off.

Nothing disturbs a ceremony more than the sound of a digital camera. In addition, make sure you time your movements with other activity during the ceremony so that you can achieve the boldness you need to get the right shot without being obtrusive.

Digital Wedding Photography Tips #2: Being Prepared

Being prepared when taking wedding photographs is always important but it is even more so when using a digital camera. You will need to make absolutely sure you have an adequate number of batteries. Batteries tend to drain quickly and you do not want to find that your battery has run out of power before the end of the event.

Memory is also another critical element that should be observed. Make sure you bring enough memory cards with you.

Digital Wedding Photography Tips #3: Types of Photos

Ideally, you should go over the shot list with the bride and groom ahead of time. You can always provide a shot list to the couple and allow them to add or subtract the types of formal group shots they want taken. Candid shots are always popular for weddings. Both photos taken before the ceremony as well as during the reception can provide an excellent opportunity for natural, candid shots.

When you are working on the shot list with the couple is an excellent time to have them review some of your prior work. This can help to manage expectations and ensure the couple knows what to expect from your work. Of course, you should always have a signed contract to make sure all contingencies are covered in the event something does not go as planned.

Digital Wedding Photography Tips #4: Choosing your Equipment

A tripod can come in quite handy when shooting digital wedding photography because it allows you to set-up and maintain the shot with perfection. In addition, you should also make sure you bring along your extra flash just in case you need it. Try to predict in advance what kind of equipment and lenses you need, if possible by visiting the location before the wedding.

Digital Wedding Photography Tips #5: Editing

Digital wedding photography provides you with the unique advantage of being able to correct or enhance the photos after the fact. You can crop them in order to remove elements that are distracting or you can correct red-eye. These benefits allow you to focus more on capturing the image with the knowledge that you can always touch it up later through the editing process.

Digital Wedding Photography Tips #6: File Formats

When using a digital camera there are a number of different formats that can be used. RAW is one of the best formats due to the fact that this format allows you to manipulate the photos after they have been taken. It does require additional processing time; however, the benefit of being able to manipulate white balance and exposure can be well worth it for wedding photographs.

JPG allows you to achieve very high image quality along with good compression ratios. This is something that GIF is not able to do.

Even though JPG is a good compromise between file size and quality I would advise you to use RAW file format for all your digital wedding photography. The reason is the flexibility RAW format provides to adjust exposure and white balance.

You generally won’t get a second chance to shoot wedding photographs and using RAW file format provides can help you recover otherwise hopeless photographs.

Tips for Aerial Video Production

The Aerial Video shot is a new trend emerging for creating low-altitude imagery through the use of lightweight, remote-controlled helicopter drones. This technology allows for stunning aerial shots that can be used for various kinds of videos including real estate videos, construction videos, action-sports and films. There are many more uses for aerial filming, but these industries are early adopters of this new trend. Transparency Market Research finds that the aerial photography market is expected to reach $1993.3 million by 2019, with most of the income coming from the U.S. market. Most of the demand will arrive from the real estate, construction and the natural resource management sectors. Increased demand is also expected from urban planning and insurance fields.

There are many factors to consider when choosing to perform aerial filming. Here are some tips for successful aerial video production:

Weather

The most important factor is the weather. It is advisable to film on a day when the winds are less than 10 mph and usually the optimum conditions are in the morning. I’ve watched a lot of aerial videos and in almost all of them there are some shaky shots. I think it’s the nature of this type of videography since sometimes the drone can encounter a sudden gust of wind.

Type of Drone to Use

The next most important factor is the type of Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) or drone to use. The least expensive ones are quadcopters which are small and lightweight but suffer from lack of stabilization controls like a gimbal. A gimbal is a support system that can control the camera on the roll and pitch axes. It also compensates for the movement of the drone the better gimbals can also pan and tilt the camera. A properly adjust gimbal can stabilize the camera well enough to yield “movie” quality shots. A hexacopter with a steady gimbal is the best choice for a flawless video shoot and. The extra propeller and weight of the hexacopter provide a much more stable experience than with a quadcopter.

Type of Camera to Use

You should also choose the lightest camera possible for your desired results. Most hexacopters can only fly 8-10 minutes with a DSLR due to the limitations of the batteries. If you fly a Go-Pro then expect 20-25 minutes. Your choice of camera depends on your final use, if you want high quality, beautiful shots then I suggest using a lightweight DSLR like the GH-3, or a Canon 5D series. Go-Pros can look great, but they just don’t have the image quality of a DSLR. It’s advisable to have several extra battery packs on hand, especially if you intend to be filming all day.

Have a Monitor System.

You have to see what the drone is filming in order to get the best shots, so a good wireless monitor system is a requirement. The terminology in the UAS world is FPV which stands for First Person View. Our aerial video system has two monitors, one for each remote control. The ideal filming situation is to have 2 drone operators. One just pilot’s the drone, and the other operator uses the second remote-control to adjust the camera tilt and pan.

Safety

Lastly, you must take safety into consideration. You can’t fly within 5 miles of airports and nor can you fly above a crowded place. Also, you have to stay under 400 feet and within a line of sight to the UAS. Currently, the legislation covering small drones is murky. The are legally classified as “Model Aircraft” and subject to the laws governing model or hobby aircraft. Recently a FAA court case was settled in favor of the defendant when a judge dismissed all charges against a drone pilot who had been aerial filming over a college campus last year. This led drone enthusiasts to celebrate but the FAA quickly appealed the decision. According to Inman news, the FAA is currently drafting a rule for small drones expected to be released in late 2014.

Have Fun!

Flying helicopter drones is a lot of fun and the cinematic beauty of the footage is very rewarding. I’m sure the government will come to their senses and realize this is a profitable and needed resource which needs to be regulated fairly. In the meantime keep getting amazing aerial footage and have fun practicing and experimenting with different maneuvers. Surely engineers will keep inventing smaller and more stable drones and lighter video cameras. I can’t wait to see what new advancements will arrive this year!

Digital Photography Tips

It is always very important to look out for any digital photography hints and tips. Some people can literally take fabulous photographs without really trying, but the majority of us need whatever help we can get to make our photographs look professional.

It may appear daunting to think that you can, quite easily take on board a few of the professional photographers digital photography tips and hints to turn your photographs into those of a pro. The truth is, you can and it does not take much.

Lets Take a Look at Some of the Main Digital Photography Tips and Hints:

Portraits

The key to taking better portrait photographs and the number one digital photography tips and hints is that of keeping things simple. You do however need to plan what you are doing.

If you are going to take a photograph of a couple as a portrait, don’t just get them to face the camera and hope for the best. Try to get them to look at each other, or get one to give the other a ‘playful’ kiss on the cheek.

This also applies to family portraits. One of the best digital photography tips and hints is to have one of the parents swinging their child above their head in a playful manner. Or try mom and dad to hold the child’s hand as they walk towards you. These tips and hints will ensure that the photograph appears natural and will produce excellent results.

Other recognized digital photography tips and hints are to get your ‘subjects’ out of the somewhat drab studio and use different and natural settings.If they have a pet dog or cat, get them to hold it or include it in the photograph. If they have just passed their driving license, get them to stand in front of their car with their new license.

Digital photography tips and hints for Landscapes

If you are like me and really enjoy taking pictures when you’re on vacation or traveling, you may wonder how to make these professional landscape photographs. There are some very quick and easy ways to do this.

First, take a closer look at what you are about to take a photograph of before you take the picture. One of the best digital photography tips and hints is to look at the colors. If it is a bright blue lake against a blue sky, then there may be too much blue! Wait just a short while, or come back when the sun is about to set and snap a photo of the sunset against the blue lake

Good digital photography tips and hints for landscapes and any other type of photographs include being aware of how the same color is going to actually translate on a photo, regardless of how breathtaking it may be in person.

If you are going to take a photo of the autumn foliage, avoid a picture of just a bunch of trees all at the same height. Again, it will probably result in just a jumble of all the same colors. Adjust your angle so as to get a hill or part of a field in the picture so as to break up all that color.

Basic Digital photography tips and hints