Photography Tips for Better Results

At, we offer every great photography tip we can find. Here is a collection of quick ideas that will improve photographic results. Feel free to read our Top Ten Tips for more ideas to help point you in the right direction.

  • Shooting Things That Crawl
    When photographing reptiles, amphibians and insects in spring and fall, the morning sun can be your greatest asset. These creatures, being cold blooded, rely on the rays of the sun to warm their bodies after a cool night, and they can usually be found lying dormant in bright, sunlit areas. During these early hours of the day, their metabolism is at its lowest and they can often be approached to within inches for some great close-ups.
    The autumn months are better than spring for shooting insects, since most species have reached adulthood, and are quite large. When possible, get low and shoot the subject at eye level.
    - 2004-05-10 15:58:00

  • ....Another Simple Tripod Tip
    When shooting in the field, and your intended subject is waist-high or higher,…fully extend and lock the bottom legs of your tripod BEFORE putting it into place. Then you can position the tripod, and fine-tune the height and camera angle by using the upper leg adjustments while concentrating on the subject and composition,….(and thus, avoid a lot of needless bending down to ground level.)
    - 2005-03-14 17:24:00

  • 2&1/2 Important Things About Lighting
    There are 2&1/2 important things about lighting. #1 is color, whether you control it in the camera or in the computer. #2 is the size of the light source the bigger the light source is the softer and more directionless it is. Light on an Overcast day seems to come from everywhere. #1/2 is direction, the smaller the light source the more important direction is. So the smaller the light source the easier it is to create a strong line on the face. Another tool for controlling the amount and strength of the dark side is a light panel covered with black fabric. This prevents reflections from filling in your shadow. If you want to lighten a shadow use a silver, white or gold cover for the light panel, it will do the job. - 2006-11-13 10:35:00

  • 5 Tips for Getting More Out of Betterphoto Courses
    1) Ask questions of the instructor when you have them -- after trying something twice. If you have questions others in the course likely have the same ones -- they just aren't asking them either.

    2) Read the assignment, and then read it again, and maybe one more time. Re-reading is free-reading; understanding the ideas in a lesson may take more than one pass through the materials. Retaining is priceless.

    3) Use title and description to add information to your images when uploading. This allows for easy reference (by image name) and helps you customize your experience in the course by supplying the instructor with direction to target comments to what you want most. For example, you will get critique on composition if you mention compositon in your description.

    4) Participate with other students by looking at their portfolios, making helpful comments, and offering encouragement. Interaction between students enriches a class experience for all involved.

    5) Make time to do the assignments, and get them in. Most learn best not just from reading, but from a combination of reading and applying techniques hands-on. Doing the assignments gets your hands dirty in the projects instructors hope you will do.
    - 2007-07-20 16:32:00

  • A Bag That Doesn't Look Like a Bag
    Keep a couple things in mind when setting yourself up with a camera bag. First & foremost, do your best to keep your pack from looking like a camera bag. The more obvious it is that you have an expensive camera on-broad, the more likely you will be targeted by a thief. Second, you may want to get a backpack instead of a shoulder bag, especially if you have multiple lenses, a flash, etc. You will find the balanced weight distribution a big advantage in the long haul. - 2002-04-11 02:49:00

  • A Formula for Classic Travel Images
    The way you can guarantee that you'll get great shots of people when you travel is to set up shots. I do this on all my photo tours for my group. I preconceive the type of image I want (like a model in an arched window, for example), and then I talk to local people about the best way to set it up.

    Serendipity is great, and when you are lucky enough to get awesome shots by happenstance it's a wonderful experience. This doesn't happen often, of course, and therefore I make things happen with a little persistence and a preconceived notion of what I want.

    Editor's note: Jim Zuckerman teaches many excellent courses here at BetterPhoto. See Jim's bio and course listings... - 2009-03-23 09:18:00

  • A Frame Within a Picture Frame
    One of the most striking field techniques around is the foreground frame. Used effectively, an arch, a tree, or another object directs the viewer's eye right to the photo's star attraction. But there's more: A frame can also hide unwanted elements in a scene, show a subject in relation to its surroundings, and even produce a three-dimensional effect, in which the scene sweeps away from front to back. For ideas and inspiration, check out BetterPhoto's "Framing the Subject" gallery at: - 2004-04-05 23:31:00

  • A Key to Flower Photography Success: Background!
    Watch out for busy backgrounds, hot spots, black holes, and extraneous elements entering the frame. In fact, the background is at least as important as the subject. Nothing can kill an image quicker than a busy background. There may be as little as an inch or less of camera repositioning to go from a distracting background to a pleasing, detail-less, muted background. - 2008-07-17 15:00:00

  • A Photo for Each Year of Your Life
    Having trouble deciding what subject matter to photograph? Go back in time, say as far back as you remember and write down one event from each year of your life. Try photographing things relating to them. You'll find some cool ideas for sure! - 2007-03-05 15:45:00

  • A Simple, Excellent Reflector
    From an autoparts supplier, purchase a car window reflector; they can be found with dimpled silver (or gold) on one side and white on the other, either large (for front and rear windows) or small(the side windows ones). They fold up easily or if you can get the ones on a spring frame, they're just like the "professional" reflectors!
    (Kiwi ingenuity) - 2003-06-27 19:23:00

  • A solution to having no cable release
    If you have mounted your camera on the tripod for a steady shot, and then discover you left your cable release behind, use your self-timer to trigger the shutter release. If you have mirror lock-up capability, use it to help dampen the vibration of the mirror - especially useful on long lenses, as Kerry Drager's helpful tip point out. But even without mirror lock-up, the self-timer will aid you in getting that sharper image! - 2004-06-09 11:01:00

  • A Tripod Workflow
    I advise using a tripod for all stationary scenes. But after making the effort to expand the tripod legs and lock your camera in place, it's reeeeeally tempting to simply stay put, without even considering a potentially better vantage point or better composition.

    Try this tripod "workflow" strategy for maximizing your creative options:

    - Set the tripod aside (assuming there's a safe place) and wander around and scan your surroundings for fresh angles BEFORE you set up your tripod.

    - Only when you've lined up a potential shot should you break out the tripod. - 2006-09-03 07:52:00

  • A Tripod's Key Companion
    Even with a good-and-sturdy tripod, it's still possible to jiggle the camera accidentally while taking the picture. The cable release is an absolute must-have accessory that attaches to the camera's shutter button or its electronic terminal. With its hands-off operation, it helps minimize vibration for telephoto shots, close-ups, long exposures ... actually, I use it routinely with a tripod. Also, some SLRs have a lock-up mode that reduces the possibility of vibration when the mirror flips up during slower exposures or when using super-long telephotos. Still another option for preventing possible fuzziness in your pictures: the camera's self-timer. - 2006-01-30 10:31:00

  • A Tripod's Key Companion ... By Kerry Drager
    Even with a tripod, it's still possible to jiggle the camera accidentally while taking the picture. One accessory - the cable release - attaches to the camera's shutter button or its electronic terminal, thus letting you record a sharp image via a hands-off operation. Also, some SLRs have a lock-up mode that reduces the possibility of vibration when the mirror flips up during slower exposures or when using super-long telephotos.
    - 2004-04-22 15:02:00

  • Add The Human Element
    Here is a tip to keep in mind when photographing nature scenes and landscapes: try adding the human element. By including a person in your composition - or even something man-made - you can often add a great deal of visual interest to your photo. The added element could be a human being or it could be something like an old car, a road, or a run-down barn. For example, say you are shooting the tulips in Holland or Skagit Valley, Washington. You could fill many frames with rows upon rows of colorful flowers. And these will likely be stunningly beautiful. But you can add a totally different kind of image to your collection by also shooting the fields with a farmer's hands holding a bundle of freshly picked tulips. This kind of image takes on a whole new dynamic interest, just by including the human element. - 2003-07-05 14:37:00

  • All That... And A Bag of Chips
    When you are in the market for a photo bag, tote all your gear down to a professional store and try out the bags that catch your fancy; it's tough to know how everything fits until you try it. A shoulder or hip bag can keep your gear in an easy-to-reach place but they may not feel as secure as a backpack. Most protective are hard cases with cut-away foam padding. - 2002-04-11 02:48:00

  • Analyzing a Photograph's Effectiveness
    If you look at your picture in front of you quickly, you can often see what grabs your attention right away, and where the eyes travels. If you try to do this after you've been looking at something else for a few seconds or minutes, it's easier. I put my picture up on my computer, then I look at a magazine or something on my desk, for a moment or two, and when I look back at the computer, I'm mentally ready to analyze what grabbed my attention first, where my eye traveled, etc., and what things I found distracting. I have used this in classes, where I will have everyone look at the projected image, and then I'll move off it, then move back to it, and ask them right before I change to quickly 'read' the picture when it comes up. That first impression tells us so much about how well we did with composing our picture. - 2008-06-05 22:33:00

  • Angles
    Just read the tip about "work on your angles". I heard a quote many years ago that, in it's own way, emphasises this tip... "The only difference between photographers is where they stand". - 2009-01-28 06:58:00

  • Another Idea for protecting your lenses
    I found that those soft neoprene type of soda can insulators work very well to slip your extra lenses into. - 2005-09-25 02:12:00

  • Any Lens Can Be a Close-up Lens!
    You don't always need fancy equipment for capturing photogenic details and close-ups! Sure, you may not be able move in super-tight on tiny objects - that's what macro specialty equipment is for - but you might be surprised how close you can get with everyday lenses. This applies to any focal length ... with wide, "normal," and telephoto each providing its own unique close-up perspective. Have fun experimenting with close-ups! - 2008-07-17 14:55:00

  • Are We Shooting Too Quickly?
    Because there's no need to pay for film and processing, we all take far more pictures. That's great when we really “work” a subject, exploring it from various viewpoints and perspectives. But it can also produce a shotgun approach where we simply blast away whenever something vaguely interesting appears.

    Shooting too quickly - without taking the time to make a serious creative effort - leads to snapshots without attention to composition and other details. - 2011-10-31 10:12:00

  • Are Your Photos Slightly on the Soft Side?
    Jim Miotke's new book - The BetterPhoto Guide to Digital Photography - is so practical and reader-friendly, and illustrated by great images. In fact, it's packed with tips, tricks, and techniques, including this one:

    Turn Off Your In-Camera Noise Reduction:

    If you're having problems with images not appearing sharp enough, be sure that your camera doesn't have an internal noise reduction function turned on. In the interest of smoothing out any graininess, the noise reduction function can produce results that are a bit on the blurry side.

    How you go about turning noise reduction functions on and off will vary from camera to camera. Check your camera manual to see if you have noise reduction, if you can control it, and if so, how.

    With one of my Canon digital SLR cameras, I go into Menu and choose Custom Functions, and then turn off Long Exposure Noise Reduction. When shooting raw files and importing them via Photoshop's raw converter, I tun the Color Noise Reduction down to 0. - 2005-08-29 10:04:00

  • Avoid distracting backgrounds
    At times, getting on a chair and shooting DOWN, or getting on the floor and shooting UP will provide a less cluttered and many times more interesting background. With people, I like to get high...have them lift their chins and this reduces the double chins.
    The heavy people love this look.

    Karl - 2006-02-27 20:13:00

  • B&W
    Instead of adding creative touches to a photograph, you can subtract something to make an image more powerful—for example, take away the color. Stripped of the emotional appeal and connotations of color, black and white helps isolate the subject. Immediately, other qualities and strengths such as light, shadow, shape and texture, of the image are enhanced. A black and white photograph is simple yet sophisticated, has timeless appeal, and in many cases, communicates more clearly with the viewer.
    Here are a couple of ideas to help you push the limits a little further. Try using HDR for more dimension and detail with your black and white photography. As with color photography, HDR provides more information in the shadow and highlight areas which can create a cinematic image. Traditional black and white infrared photography captivates photographers and viewers alike. Consider using an infrared filter or infrared converted camera to create surreal black and white photographs.
    - 2009-07-02 12:22:00

    This may sound crazy but it works! When using your camera or videocamera in windy or unstable conditions I once tried (in desperation) a 2kg bag of sugar in a plastic shopping bag held in the same hand as my camera (hanging underneath). It worked a treat.... especially when panning with video camera. The action was especially smooth. It does get heavy, so constant resting is a must. - 2005-08-20 08:43:00

  • Basic Keyboard Shortcuts
    Bare Bones Digital Photography
    Basic keyboard shortcuts for photo-image makers

    I know for many this could seem to be as exciting as sitting watching grass grow but a basic knowledge of keyboard shortcuts will do two things: speed up your photo-editing and make it more enjoyable. There are only a few here and most are universal regardless whether you are using Photoshop Elements 2/3 or Photoshop 6/7/CS/CS2. Many will also work using programs like Picasa…

    Open a Photo: To open a picture file using Photoshop, Elements – File>Open or Ctrl + O

    Close a Photo: To close a picture window - File>Close or Ctrl + W

    File Browser: To run the File Browser – File>Browse or (Ctrl + B)

    View Palettes: to hide all the palettes and the toolbar, press the TAB key. To make them come
    back, press the TAB key again

    View Toolbar: to hide the palettes but to leave the toolbar and all-important options palette in place, press SHIFT + TAB. Press SHIFT + TAB a second time to get them back again. Alternatively, find them under the WINDOWS menu

    Hand tool: quickest way to move an enlarged image about the screen is to use the Hand tool. Quickest way to get hold of that is to press the SPACE bar. Whatever tool you are using at the time changes to the Hand tool, but re-appears once you let go!

    Levels: To use the Contrast/Brightness Levels feature – Ctrl + L

    Hue/Saturation: to change the colour intensity/make a photo black-and-white – Ctrl + U

    Clone Brush (retouching): Press the ‘S’ key

    Healing Brush (retouching): Press the ‘J’ key

    Paintbrush: press the ‘B’ key To make the brush BIGGER, press the RIGHT SQUARE BRACKET, smaller, press the left square bracket.

    Selections: to finish a selection, press Ctrl + D (to ‘deslect’)

    Hide selection: to hide the selection marquee (but not make it disappear, press the ‘H’ key. To bring it back, press ‘H’ again

    Text: To add text to any photo, press the ‘T’ key, click in the picture, and type away

    Bounding Box: If you made have a Selection (using the Lasoo tool, for example), or have a Crop bounding box in operation, but don’t want eithert, press the ‘Esc’ key

    Ctrl = the CONTROL KEY (PC)
    Alt = Alt KEY (PC)
    Cmd = the COMMAND KEY (Mac) is the SAME as the Ctrl key on a PC
    Opt = OPTION KEY (Mac) is the same as the Alt key on a PC

    - 2005-07-15 17:56:00

  • Be Careful in the Camera Store
    In any exchange, you have to be careful. With photo shops and camera stores, the danger usually just gets worse. If you feel pressured in any way while talking with a camera salesperson, politely hang up or walk away. Some resellers in particular have a reputation of being gruff, manipulative or downright mean-spirited. Don't feel the need to give them your business. If you are still searching for a few pleasant places to shop, check out Leslie O'Shaughnessy & Douglas Blondin's online survey of mail-order photographic suppliers; it is a gold mine of honest evaluations: - 2002-04-11 02:50:00

  • Bean bag substitute
    In times of desperation, an airline pillow makes a great "bean bag". I lost my bean bag on a recent trip to Kenya and the airline pillow worked very nicely on the top of the vehicle.
    It also works pretty well out the window of a vehicle. - 2006-12-12 11:29:00

  • Benefits of Premium Galleries. . .
    I have found the BetterPhoto Gallery to be a very useful tool in my photography . . . I took some portrait photos and posted them to the website as I got them complete. .. One set was for a girl's Senior Pictures and she loved the idea that she could pop in and out while she know I was editing and see something new. The Gallery has also allowed me to show others my work and it has been forwarded on to many people as a result! Thanks Better Photo for a top notch site! - 2005-07-24 10:31:00

  • Best Shots at Weddings
    As a professional wedding photographer in Toronto, I'm always watching for that unposed, wonderful look or move - especially where children are concerned. My greatest disappointment is when mom or a guest tells the child to "turn around, dear, and smile for the camera". A perfect shot down the drain. Remember to remind everyone you talk to that if you're moving in on someone, "Please don't interrupt". For samples of lots of candid shots, see my Wedding page at ... thanks! - 2005-07-12 04:33:00

  • Beware of Slanting Horizons
    Be certain that your horizon is straight. Although it is reasonably easy to 'fix' an unwanted tilt in a photo, it is a shame to have to do that. Because once that photo editing program does straighten your horizon, some cropping is necessary and then you are really throwing away some pixels because of the cropping. You did not buy that camera with the number of pixels you wanted to just throw them away. - 2013-05-03 14:32:00

  • Black and white
    Kodak is discontinuing TriX so best stock up. For those of you who work in the
    traditional darkroom there is a company called "Formulary" out of Wyoming who makes and sells excellent chemical kits for many B&W films.....Much better stuff then you can buy at your local shop! - 2004-04-27 09:08:00

  • Black and White on an Overcast Day
    If you are struggling with shooting on an overcast day - and all your scenes must by necessity include the boring, dull gray sky - try using black and white. A blown out sky is much more easily forgiven and overlooked by the viewer's eye when recorded in black and white than in color. If you have the choice, give it a try next time. - 2002-04-11 02:16:00

  • Bracing for a long Exposure
    There are several ways to brace yourself when shooting a picture that requires a long shutter exposure:
    Shoot like you are shooting a gun - breath in and hold your breath until your shot is done.
    Stand with your feet shoulder length apart and your elbows in toward your ribs keeping your left hand flat under the camera while the right hand does the fine motor work.
    When kneeling for a low shot, put the right knee to the ground and the left knee up to support your left elbow. This position creates stability and allows for freedom of movement as well. A waitress once told me something I use in stabilizing myself when shooting. Depending on which side you favor for dexterity, the oposite side is used for leverage and balance. If you write with your right hand then you should carry a tray full of food in your left hand. This explains why the camera rests in the left hand while the right hand does the finger work of adjusting the knobs and triggering the shutter. When squeezing the shutter, include your whole hand in the action. Avoid "pressing the button" with one finger. Because your whole hand is gripping the slightly tighter, you are adding more stability to your camera.
    Also, where possible, try leaning on something: put your back and one foot up against a wall or lean on the hood of a car placing both elbows down in front of you. This way only the points of your sleeves where your elbows touch the car will get dirty. Your body is your tripod. Sometimes you only have to put one leg diagonally out in front of you to accomplish the required stability. Another seldom thought of consideration is to make sure the shoes you are wearing have good arches and a slight heal. Women expecially need to avoid wearing high heals when operating a camera. Gently resting the camera against your nose and forehead also provides stability because it is the face that becomes the third point in the tripod - your feet being the first two.
    Many photographers feel best when using a slightly larger and heavier camera. If you have the time and inclination, a good way to train your body to be still while taking a picture is to practice photographing a subject lit by candle light only. Start with a wide open aperture f/2 and a low shutter speed - 1/30 second. Then work your way down the scale on shutter speed. If you can shoot
    at 1/2 second without noticable shake you have accomplished a great deal. Can it be done? Yes. But it takes practice, calmness and patience. It is worth the effort though because when you have mastered this, you are freer to do more with your camera without the added burden of a cumbersome tripod.
    Vary important: NEVER, walk backwards while looking in your viewfinder. Take a second to look behind you to see where you are going. - 2005-01-26 22:43:00

  • Bracing for a long Exposure
    There are several ways to brace yourself when shooting a picture that requires a long shutter exposure:
    Shoot like you are shooting a gun - breath in and hold your breath until your shot is done.
    Stand with your feet shoulder length apart and your elbows in toward your ribs keeping your left hand flat under the camera while the right hand does the fine motor work.
    When kneeling for a low shot, put the right knee to the ground and the left knee up to support your left elbow. This position creates stability and allows for freedom of movement as well. A waitress once told me something I use in stabilizing myself when shooting. Depending on which side you favor for dexterity, the oposite side is used for leverage and balance. If you write with your right hand then you should carry a tray full of food in your left hand. This explains why the camera rests in the left hand while the right hand does the finger work of adjusting the knobs and triggering the shutter. When squeezing the shutter, include your whole hand in the action. Avoid "pressing the button" with one finger. Because your whole hand is gripping slightly tighter, you are adding more stability to your camera.
    Also, where possible, try leaning on something: put your back and one foot up against a wall or lean on the hood of a car placing both elbows down in front of you. This way only the points of your sleeves where your elbows touch the car will get dirty. Your body is your tripod. Sometimes you only have to put one leg diagonally out in front of you to accomplish the required stability. Another seldom thought of consideration is to make sure the shoes you are wearing have good arches and a slight heal. Women expecially need to avoid wearing high heals when operating a camera. Gently resting the camera against your nose and forehead also provides stability because it is the face that becomes the third point in the tripod - your feet being the first two.
    Many photographers feel best when using a slightly larger and heavier camera. If you have the time and inclination, a good way to train your body to be still while taking a picture is to practice photographing a subject lit by candle light only. Start with a wide open aperture f/2 and a low shutter speed - 1/30 second. Then work your way down the scale on shutter speed. If you can shoot
    at 1/2 second without noticable shake you have accomplished a great deal. Can it be done? Yes. But it takes practice, calmness and patience. It is worth the effort though because when you have mastered this, you are freer to do more with your camera without the added burden of a cumbersome tripod.
    Vary important: NEVER, walk backwards while looking in your viewfinder. Take a second to look behind you to see where you are going. - 2005-01-26 22:45:00

  • Bracing for a long Exposure
    There are several ways to brace yourself when shooting a picture that requires a long shutter exposure:
    Shoot like you are shooting a gun - breath in and hold your breath until your shot is done.
    Stand with your feet shoulder length apart and your elbows in toward your ribs keeping your left hand flat under the camera while the right hand does the fine motor work.
    When kneeling for a low shot, put the right knee to the ground and the left knee up to support your left elbow. This position creates stability and allows for freedom of movement as well. A waitress once told me something I use in stabilizing myself when shooting. Depending on which side you favor for dexterity, the oposite side is used for leverage and balance. If you write with your right hand then you should carry a tray full of food in your left hand. This explains why the camera rests in the left hand while the right hand does the finger work of adjusting the knobs and triggering the shutter. When squeezing the shutter, include your whole hand in the action. Avoid "pressing the button" with one finger. Because your whole hand is gripping slightly tighter, you are adding more stability to your camera.
    Also, where possible, try leaning on something: put your back and one foot up against a wall or lean on the hood of a car placing both elbows down in front of you. This way only the points of your sleeves where your elbows touch the car will get dirty. Your body is your tripod. Sometimes you only have to put one leg diagonally out in front of you to accomplish the required stability. Another seldom thought of consideration is to make sure the shoes you are wearing have good arches and a slight heal. Women especially need to avoid wearing high heals when operating a camera. Gently resting the camera against your nose and forehead also provides stability because it is the face that becomes the third point in the tripod - your feet being the first two.
    Many photographers feel best when using a slightly larger and heavier camera. If you have the time and inclination, a good way to train your body to be still while taking a picture is to practice photographing a subject lit by candle light only. Start with a wide open aperture f/2 and a low shutter speed - 1/30 second. Then work your way down the scale on shutter speed. If you can shoot
    at 1/2 second without noticable shake you have accomplished a great deal. Can it be done? Yes. But it takes practice, calmness and patience. It is worth the effort though because when you have mastered this skill, you are freer to do more with your camera without the added burden of a cumbersome tripod.
    Very important: NEVER, walk backwards while looking in your viewfinder. Take a second to look behind you to see where you are going. Silly and trivial as this may sound, try to shoot on a full stomach. The added bulk adds stability and a reasonably full tummy means less chance of trembling from low blood sugar. Be good to yourself. Rest periodically if you feel fatigued. All these things add up to a more confident, relaxed and enjoyable experience.

    Michel J. Paller - 2005-01-26 22:57:00

  • Bracketing Your Focus
    I have been focus bracketing for a while with my digital camera. This is somewhat similar to exposure bracketing that we do when we are unsure of the exposure for a shot. The idea is to focus as accurately as possible and then take additional shots focused closer and further away. There are several reasons for doing this; first auto focus often has trouble with a low contrast subject, such as the hood of a car. Second often we often can’t predict what focus point will make best use of the available depth-of-field, we are more likely to find that point among several shots. Finally digital cameras use very bright focus screens to make the viewfinder as bright as possible. While these screens are significantly brighter than standard ground glass screens they don’t give the photographer the sense that an object is in sharp focus that previous screen do. This means that we really need to bracket focus because we may not be able to see the focus point accurately. - 2006-12-28 11:13:00

  • Branch for Framing
    I had to photograph a new housing development - but there was much wasteland and very little foliage to compose and frame the houses and streets (very boring). On the way, I tore of a small branch off a bush and took it to the site. Holding the branch in front of the camera at various scenes really helped the composition and also helped me block out unwanted telegraph poles or unsightly bits of construction. One thing to remember though.... don't overdue it. It can get monotonous. Sometimes just have a few leaves showing. - 2005-01-10 09:38:00

  • Camera Bag on Wheels
    My camera bag was getting very crowded and heavy. My shoulder was suffering with the weight. I went to a Travel Luggage place to see what was on offer. All the pieces were geared to computers and documents and clothes. Nothing was really suitable without having to spend hours with foam rubber inserts to protect the gear, and nearly all were side loading (ie: no good for camera equipment) and the prices were well over $100.
    In the end I purchased a collapsible "trolley only" from CheapJacks (only $15) then strapped my camera bag onto it using the stretch bands, and voila! finito! It works great. I can now go walkabout with hands free (and no weight). The handle folds over if I have to carry up stairs. Highly recommended. - 2006-09-05 07:57:00

  • camera protection
    When expecting rain or ocean spray on my camera I use a gallon size baggie to protect it. Just cut away the two corners at the bottom of the bag and run your camera strap ends thru them and re-connect your camera.
    This way you can leave the baggie over your camera with the bottom open to protect it and then pull it up, over the camera before putting the camera to your face. - 2005-09-28 08:14:00

  • Camera Support When Afield
    When photographing in the field, weight and convenience is a major consideration when choosing appropriate gear.
    Tripods, although essential to sharp photos, are too often overlooked as being too heavy or cumbersome to lug around all day.
    A simple tripod bag, slung over your shoulder with a strap, makes it much easier to carry your full-sized ‘pod to a distant locale.
    There are also many high-quality compact tripods on the market which fit easily into a camera bag or photo backpack. These work well from ground-level up to a few feet or so and can be made more versatile by building extensions for the legs from three equal lengths of PVC pipe.
    These leg extensions are easy to make, weigh practically nothing, are easy to stash and carry, and can give you a little additional height from your compact when needed.
    - 2004-10-23 16:12:00

  • Can't get water to bead on a smooth surface?
    You have not been watching enough TV ads! Buy a small bottle of Rainex from your local department store automotive section, apply it and let it dry. Spray with a misting bottle until you get the right size water beads. - 2004-07-14 17:06:00

  • Carry Your Film Onboard With You
    When traveling through an airport with film and camera, carry all film with you rather than leaving it in checked luggage. Take film out of black plastic containers and place in a clear plastic bag or case. As you go through the security check point, hand this bag of film around the x-ray machines. Avoiding the x-ray will keep your mind at ease about film damage and using the clear containers will greatly speed up the process. - 2002-04-11 02:57:00

  • Cellophane & Rubber Band
    A small piece of plastic cellophane (with a small hole in the middle) and a rubber band can be a good accessory in one's camera bag. Place it over any lens, position the hole to match the centre (or on the side slightly) and shoot. Better with small aperture settings (to keep the plastic creases out of focus) and wide angle lens'. It acts in a similar way to the LensBaby... and costs nothing. - 2008-12-23 19:33:00

  • Changing Color Space on Camera (Nikon D70 Example)
    Many DSLR cameras have more than one color space (reflecting the gamut of color it can capture). You can change this based on what you establish as a workflow and how you want to handle color. You will want to consult your manual to find out how to make the change. Let's look at how to change color space on a Nikon D70 as an example.

    1. Press the Menu button on the left of the camera back.
    2. Scroll down to Shooting Menu and press the right arrow.
    3. Scroll to Optimize Image and press the right arrow.
    4. Scroll to Custom and press the right arrow.
    5. Scroll to Color Mode and press the right arrow.
    6. Scroll to your desired space.
    7. Click the right arrow to accept.

    The color space you choose should be one that you can incorporate logically into your workflow. For more information on developing a complete color workflow, see my course From Monitor to Print: Photoshop Color Workflow.
    - 2007-09-19 13:31:00

  • Chicken Scratch Your Way to Photographic Success
    If you really want to learn how exposure works, bring a notepad with you when you go out shooting and jot down the settings of each shot. Then, when you are looking at the results, transfer these notes to the appropriate image and analyze what you see. You'll soon find yourself understanding a lot more about exposure. If you are lucky, your camera may have an automatic exposure noting feature. - 2002-04-11 03:12:00

  • Choosing the Best White Balance
    By Lynne Eodice

    If you were shooting in color back in the film days, you had to buy a film that matched the color temperature of your primary light source. For example, if you were shooting indoors under tungsten light conditions, you bought tungsten-balanced film. For daylight, you bought daylight-balanced film. Today, digital cameras solve the color-balance problem with a control called White Balance, which tells the camera exactly what light source you’ll be using. Most cameras offer you a choice of WB settings:

    Auto WB – This is the default setting, in which the camera measures the color of light and makes a guess about the source. In many situations, it works fine. But if you want to zero in on the best setting for your lighting situation, you might want to fine-tune it further. Read on!

    Daylight – This is comparable to the daylight film of yesteryear, but is more bluish-white in tone.

    Shade – This setting adds a slight warm, reddish cast to counteract the blue cast of shady conditions. This is the setting you should use when shooting in the shade or on very cloudy days.

    Cloudy Day – This setting warms up the cool tones on a cloudy day, but not as much as the Shade setting. It gives a pleasant, late-afternoon look to outdoor scenes, and is my setting of choice for most outdoor shooting, even on a sunny day.

    Tungsten – This setting adds a little blue to absorb some the excess red tones of interior tungsten lighting, and will give you nice, neutral tones indoors.

    Fluorescent – This setting will counteract the cool, greenish tone of fluorescent lighting, although various fluorescent bulbs produce different types of light.

    Editor's Note: Check out Lynne Eodice's online photo courses: Learning to Shoot Inspiring Images and and Pro Tips for Great Exposure - 2011-11-03 08:07:00

  • Classic Cars with Character
    Here are a few tips and hints on photographing classic cars. Shoot low and level to the car, get in close and use a wide-angle lens. A wide-angle lens can create distortions that give more personality to your classic car subject. A polarizer can reduce unwanted reflections and let the beautiful car color shine through. Use a tripod, and shoot for HDR to capture maximum detail in the shadow and highlight areas. Vary your point of view, photographing not only the entire car, but also the fabulous details such as hood ornaments, taillights and fancy grillwork.
    Avoid undesirable background distractions, and that can be a challenge at a car show. Here's a hint, if you can't avoid distractions try replacing the background in Photoshop, or blend it away using a blur effect. Are you up for a little fun in Photoshop? Change your car color using the Replace Color tool. Have fun shooting!
    - 2009-08-25 10:44:00

  • Cleaning Slides Before Scanning
    Before scanning 35 mm transparencies, dirt and other foreign objects can be easily removed by gently brushing both sides of the slide with a dry Q-Tip. Wipe the slide in one direction, (toward the darkest part of the image), then give each side a blast with a can of compressed air.
    Avoid using a lens brush to clean slides. The bristles will hold contaminants, and the brushing action magnetizes the film,….causing the particles to jump and adhere to the slide.
    - 2004-03-07 14:28:00

  • Cleaning Your Digital Camera's Sensor
    You should do everything possible in protecting the delicate sensor in
    your digital camera from becoming dirty. Specks of dirt or dust that
    adhere to the surface of the sensor will show up in every picture you
    take. In areas of the frame that have a lot of texture and detail,
    such as forests or cityscapes, the dust won’t be that obvious. But in
    large expanses like the sky, they will be a serious problem. To determine how much dust is in your pictures, enlarge the digital files up to 100 percent and examine the entire frame.

    Whenever you change lenses, turn off the camera. This prevents static
    electricity from attracting floating dust particles in the air from
    being attracted to the sensor. In addition to this, I always face the
    camera downward as I choose another lens. Never change lenses when
    there is a danger of blowing sand or ocean spray

    If you do get dust on the sensor (this is virtually inevitable unless
    your camera has a fixed lens that can’t be removed), use a pocket air
    blower and try and dislodge the dust. Never, ever, use compressed air
    in any form to do this, especially in the small cans available in
    camera stores. Not only might dirt particles scratch the sensor
    surface, these cans have propellant in them that can be ejected out and
    spray the sensor. This would be the kiss of death for the very
    expensive sensor.

    The pocket air blower is the safest way to clean the sensor, as long as you keep the tip of the blower away from the sensor so it never makes contact. I make sure that it never goes past the lens mount.

    - 2005-06-13 12:42:00

  • Close Up Lenses-An Alternative
    We like the macro and micro lenses the best BUT a great inexpensive way to get wonderful effects is to purchase the nikon diopters even if you shoot with a different model camera than Nikon. They come in 52-mm filter thread size and in 62-mm thread size. we recommend that you get either the 3t, 4t set or the 5t, 6t set (this is the 62-mm ones) and then purchase a set of stacking rings to hold them securely when you are not using them. If you have a set of 3t and 4t, then you can use just one of them or you can stack them and use them both together. we usually use these on a zoom lens such as a 80 to 200 zoom or thereabouts. Or they can be used on a macro or micro lens as well. If your lens does not have a thread size that corresponds to 52-mm or 62-mm then you will need to purchase a step up ring or a step down ring -whichever is appropriate for your lens, diopter combination and then screw that on the lens and screw the diopter into the other side of the ring. This will allow you go focus much closer to the subject or object and therefore get more magnification. - 2007-05-17 08:04:00

  • Colored filters for your flash
    A spin-off on Bob Cameratta's helpful tip about adding yellow cellophane over your flash head: you can obtain a sample packet of theatrical gels and diffusion effects from Rosco gel or Lee Filters (both in southern California). These sample packs contain pieces of gel that are just big enough to fit most accesory flash heads. I choose what I want from the set and tape it on to the flash. The packs have everything from standard color correction gels to theatrical effects, plus spun glas, vellum, etc. for diffusing your flash. They are great! Contact Rosco at Go to 'products', then choose 'color filters', then 'cinegel', then scroll to the bottom of that page, and you'll be asked 'would you like to receive a sample swatchbook?' Have fun with them when they arrive! - 2004-02-17 13:06:00

  • Commercial Lighting Tip - Extra Cord
    Always keep an extra sync cord for your strobe. It doesn’t cost a lot or
    weigh a lot, or take up much room. But it can save a shoot.

    - 2007-02-19 10:38:00

  • Composition & Interest
    So much has been written about the technicalities of photography in general. My wife made a comment the other day that I thought was very relevant: "Composition and Interest" are more important to her than any technical stuff. I think she has a point and incidentally she has a very good "eye". It's easy to get carried away and side-tracked with all the other stuff. I suppose, learn the basics, develop an eye and take it from there. - 2005-12-28 06:05:00

  • Composition: Don't Stop Now ... Keep Shooting
    Whenever I find a photogenic (and static) scene that really motivates me, I work it every which way I can within whatever time constraints I have. This means trying different compositions, different focal lengths, or different lighting angles. But this process also might mean the following:
    - Try different f/stops ... in order to experiment with the depth of field (the range of sharpness in a scene that has front-to-back depth).
    - Try different shutter speeds ... in order to experiment with subject motion - by freezing the action or by showing a soft blur of movement. - 2008-07-17 15:57:00

  • Composition: Exceptions Can Sometimes Be the Rule
    Here's a composition tip from The BetterPhoto Guide to Creative Digital Photography, co-authored by Jim Miotke and Kerry Drager:

    You’ll rarely go wrong in choosing a photographic composition that follows the rules. However, for stepping up the creativity at times, don’t get locked into the Rule of Thirds as a hard-and-fast policy. At times, it can be restrictive for those scenes that just don’t fit into a Thirds setting. While the best spot for the subject may be somewhere off-center, for example, it might not necessarily be in one of the power points.

    In fact, there are times when a dead-center composition is dead-on. This can be a subject with strong symmetry, such as a wheel, in which the hub is in the middle while the spokes spread out in all directions. Certain flowers, when photographed close up, work, too, as does symmetry in architecture. Likewise, some pictures don’t even have a specific subject; rather, the entire photo is the subject, such as pattern or repetition scenes. - 2012-03-19 13:13:00

  • Compositional Choices
    Finding a great subject is essential in photography. How to compose for a great subject is the next challenge. Your first instincts about composition are good to follow; but also push yourself to additionally compose your subject in different ways. You might surprise yourself with what choice you like best.
    Here are a few ideas… If your first inclination is to photograph in landscape orientation, let portrait orientation be your next choice. Try tilting your camera to the left or right to compose diagonally. This simple step often creates a more dynamic image. What happens if you use a LensBaby? Go for selective focus and softly blur all elements except your subject. Use a wide-angle lens for a composition that tells the whole story. Try isolating a section of your subject using a zoom lens. Compose for the rule of thirds, and then break the rules. Move around your subject, find light that is different, and photograph the shadows. Change your perspective by moving to your left, right, up or down. Photograph your subject in HDR, infrared, use multiple exposures, pan your subject, or consider a panorama. These compositional choices and techniques will expand the creative opportunities you have in photographing a great subject.
    - 2009-07-02 12:27:00

  • Control In Photography
    The control of photography *is* technical in practice, and these details require *artistic decisions*. It is NOT a simple technical matter to decide on how to render scenes that have broader tonal ranges than film, for example, as the result is an *interpretation*, rather than a documentation. Of course, that will be obvious to pro photographers, and oblique to point and shooters.

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    - 2006-05-11 03:42:00

  • Controlling Depth of Field with a Point and Click
    You can achieve images with soft, intentionally out of focus backgrounds even if you do not have an SLR camera.
    1) Choose Macro or Close Up mode on your compact camera (most cameras have this feature).
    2) Have a scene with a foreground subject, and one or two subjects in the background that are some distance away from the foreground object (you can work with salt and pepper shakers, for example).
    3) Put your camera as close as you can to the foreground subject and still be able to focus (the closest focusing distance--your manual will tell you what it is)
    4) Focus on your close, foreground subject by depressing your shutter halfway down.
    5) Do NOT release the shutter button, but DO recompose so as to include the background subjects in your image and then completely depress the shutter button.You can achieve images with soft, intentionally out of focus backgrounds even if you do not have an SLR camera.
    1) Choose Macro or Close Up mode on your compact camera (most cameras have this feature).
    2) Have a scene with a foreground subject, and one or two subjects in the background that are some distance away from the foreground object (you can work with salt and pepper shakers, for example).
    3) Put your camera as close as you can to the foreground subject and still be able to focus (the closest focusing distance--your manual will tell you what it is)
    4) Focus on your close, foreground subject by depressing your shutter halfway down.
    5) Do NOT release the shutter button, but DO recompose so as to include the background subjects in your image and then completely depress the shutter button. - 2007-05-16 17:35:00

  • Creative Composition: Beware of Stray Colors
    Everyone loves color, but sometimes a bright color is simply in the wrong place. In fact, this topic comes up a lot. Students and other budding photographers concentrate so much on their main subject that a stray splash of contrasting color slips by unnoticed. But that clashing color can draw the viewer’s eye away from your subject to the edge of the picture or to the background.

    TIP: When composing your image, if a bright red or yellow object grabs attention - and it’s NOT your primary subject - then the best advice is to recompose and leave it out of the picture.
    by Kerry Drager

    Note: This quick tip is from my book (co-authored with Jim Miotke): The BetterPhoto Guide to Creative Digital Photography
    - 2014-03-12 11:34:00

    Zoom in a little, compose your picture, check all your settings .... then just before you are about to press the button ... zoom out a little and CLICK! This will allow some degree of spare picture, necessary for framing or mounting. - 2005-07-26 19:40:00

  • Cropping
    Always pay attention to the four edges of the frame. Crop in camera. If you think getting closer gets a better crop move in and take a few extra shots. - 2006-04-20 09:43:00

  • CS3 Extended or Standard?
    By now, you've probably heard that Photoshop CS3 will available in two configurations - Standard and Extended. The good news is that most photographers will be fine with the Standard version. Only those wanting to work with videos and/or needing very specific measurement tools such as forensic photographers or other specialty needs will benefit from Extended. Don't let the name "Standard" throw you, though - there are all sorts of new and improved features. Camera Raw has a highlight and shadow recovery feature, retouching tools and parametric Curves, along with great new color controls. (Camera Raw is very similar to the Develop module in Lightroom.) Bridge is greatly improved with compare and loupe features. Photoshop has Smart Filters - which makes filters re-adjustable - a great new Black and White adjustment, new Curves, improved cloning with overlays and lots more.
    - 2007-03-30 07:54:00

  • Custom White Balance & Mixed Lighting
    The auto color balance works pretty well most of the time but can be overwhelmed in mixed lighting situations.

    Carry a small photo gray card in your camera bag (Kodak sells a package with 2 full-size and 1 small photo gray cards). Use the gray side to set custom white balance inside your digital camera. Follow your camera's menu instructions for custom white balance.

    Be sure to take the reading in the same light set up as the subject. For example, if you're going to use flash, take the exposure with the flash on or the balance will still be off.

    Try to get to the site a little early to plan your shots and get the exposures set up ahead of time. You can save exposures for different settings if necessary; just remember to select the correct white balance setting when you change locations.

    If you shoot in RAW format, this will make perfect white balance with no Photoshop tweaking necessary. It sounds like a lot of extra work but with practice, it will save a lot of editing time. I use this method a lot with my Canon EOS 20D because I frequently have to shoot at hotel conference rooms. There is always mixed lighting and as the lights age, the color balance shifts. I learned to take a color balance exposure for each room I had to work in and another for adding flash. - 2007-01-12 18:45:00

  • Cut and Print - It's A Wrap
    If you go out with a metal tripod in cold weather, wrap the legs in the foam pieces of pipe insulation that you can find at the hardware store. Secure the pieces by wrapping them with electrical tape or anything you like. Using them keeps your hands from getting cold and the soft padding also keeps your shoulder from getting sore. - 2002-04-11 03:15:00

  • dark photography, nude and fineart
    while taking picture in dark photography one must be very much concentrated in the subject and the hands during taking the photo should be fine and careful while doing click. - 2003-10-30 04:41:00

  • Depends on required effect
    Meter the sunset and close down one stop for an average. Meter the subject and open one or two stops. It depends on the sunset and the type image you are trying to make. The best choice is to bracket your exposures regardless of what equipment, film or digital you are using. Knowing how your specific imaging equipment reacts to various lighting situations is essential. - 2004-05-05 21:55:00

  • Developing a Tripod Workflow
    I use a tripod for every landscape scene - to achieve the best in image quality and to fine-tune my compositions. But that doesn't mean I break out the tripod immediately upon seeing a subject I like. After making the effort to expand the tripod legs and lock the camera in place, it's verrrrry tempting to stay put, without fully exploring the subject. That's not the artistic approach!

    Instead, the tripod set-up should come near the end of the creative process, not the beginning! Let me explain my tripod "workflow":

    When I come across a promising landscape scene, I set the tripod aside (assuming there's a safe place). Then, with camera in hand, I'll wander around in search of the best viewpoint, the right lens focal length, etc. Only when I've lined up the approximate shot do I grab the tripod, attach the camera, and frame the composition just the way I envisioned it. - 2007-08-30 22:42:00

  • Diffuse on camera flash
    I learned this neat trick from a National Geographic photographer. When using the pop up flash and photographing people, cut the end from a Bandaid and paste it over the flash. This gives you a warm diffused light. The Bandaid is easily removed and can remain stuck on the camera for other pictures. - 2007-07-06 05:55:00

  • Diffusing the light from a flash
    If you hate the harsh light of flash like I do, here are several ways to diffuse, or soften that light. For accessory flashes, Sto-Fen ( makes terrific 'boxes' that slip over the flash head. These scatter the light in all directions, creating a nice wrap-around effect to the light, even when pointed straight at your subject or straight up towards the celing. You can also use a custom sized piece of tracing paper, vellum, or translucent plastic taped over your flash head.

    If you only have a built-in flash (a pop-up type), you can still diffuse the light from it! Cut a piece of translucent plastic, or vellum, to fit the size of your flash head, and once the flash pops-up, tape that over the flash head. This will scatter the light beams, softening the effect, and will still allow your camera to meter the flash automatically. Be careful not to cover any sensor near the flash head, though. For tape, I use two pieces of gaffer's tape. It's reusable, doesn't melt and leave sticky residue like duct tape, and can be stuck to the side of the camera when not in use! - 2004-02-24 11:54:00

  • Digital Sepia
    If you are interested in hand-tinting black and white photographs, you may also be interested in Adobe Photoshop® or a software program like it. With such software, you can work grayscale digital images and easily tint, wash, burn, dodge, composite, etc... (the list goes on and on). - 2002-04-11 03:09:00

  • Do not overlook monopod
    A combination of Velbon UP 4000 Unipod and Bogen / Manfrotto 3229 Swivel Tilt Monopod Head with Quick Release (Supports 6.00 lb) is inexpensive, mobile and very compact set up that beats handholding camera loaded with slow film. Since I purchased this set up, I am using only 50 or 100 ASA film and even in low light camera shake is not an issue. - 2004-03-30 04:59:00

  • Don't Bake Your Film
    Especially during the hot season, don't forget to take care of your film. Make sure you don't leave it in your car unprotected from the sun. A great place for film is in the fridge. A terrible place to keep the film is in the glove compartment. If you do have to leave it in the car, consider putting your film in a lunch pail designed to keep food cold. Remember that film is a perishable - treat it with care and you will get better colors and better endurance out of every roll.
    - 2003-07-05 14:11:00

  • Don't be Shy, Step Right Up
    When I see an interesting person or persons, I ask them if they would like it if I would e-mail a copy of the photo I am about to take. Sometimes they say no, but usually they are flattered. (I reassure them that I am not trying to sell them copies.) I then e-mail the photo and keep a log. If the photo is worth using in some way, I can then contact them and ask for a model release. - 2003-09-11 19:37:00

  • Don't Be Shy; Step Right Up
    Many photographers overly worry about model releases when photographing other people. They hear stories about lawsuits and angry subjects and they reasonable become very concerned and shy when it comes to photographing a stranger. It is all too easy to let this concern stop you from taking pictures of people. But don't let this worry immobilize you. Next time you go out shooting, bring along a standard, boiler-plate model release and simply ask the first photogenic person you see if they would mind. Tell them what you are working on - whether it be your own freelance work, a potential magazine article, etc. Offer to trade them their modeling services for a free 5" x 7" or 8" x 10" print. Just give it a try... if they say no, simply move on and ask another. You'll be amazed at how much fun this can make your photographic outings. - 2003-07-05 14:33:00

  • Don't Get Rid of Your Film SLR Just Yet
    I find myself reaching for my digital SLR almost all the time now. I love the immediate feedback and the ease. Especially when my end purpose is to publish the images at, there is no better way for me to shoot.

    However, I am still hanging onto my film SLR. The main reason is simple: when using my 16mm lens on my digital, I get much less of the wide angle effect. My digital SLR magnifies the focal length of every lens I use.

    When I want to shoot super wide angle images, I just can't beat combining my wide angle lens with my film SLR. - 2004-03-04 14:48:00

  • Don't lose your lens caps
    Stick a small patch of velcro on each lens cap. Stick a larger patch of the opposing velcro onto your camera carrying strap, camera case, or your clothing. With the same technique you can fasten any other small parts, e.g. filter cases, so that they'll remain conveniently available. - 2005-05-17 14:05:00

  • Don't Stop Now ... Keep Shooting!
    Whenever I find a photogenic scene that really motivates me, I work it every which way I can within whatever time constraints I have. That means trying different compositions, different focal lengths, or different lighting angles. But it also might mean trying different f/stops (in order to experiment with the depth of field - the range of sharpness in the scene) or different shutter speeds (in order to experiment with motion - by freezing the action or by showing a soft blur of movement).

    Whenever possible, I’ll even go back for seconds - maybe even thirds! Here’s why I do it, and why you should, too: The act of shooting a subject, inspecting the results later (including AFTER the initial excitement of the shooting session has cooled down), and THEN returning for a re-shoot is a valuable way to develop your self-critiquing abilities ... while ALSO improving your photographic vision.

    - 2003-12-15 10:12:00

  • Don't Flash Your Brights In Traffic
    Many people are surprised to learn that leaving the flash on when photographing people in bright, outdoor conditions can produce better photos. The reason is that the bright light, especially if it is coming from behind or from the side of your subject, can cause extremes in contrast that film cannot successfully capture. Force your flash to fire by overriding the automatic setting and it may counteract the contrast extremes by filling in the shadows. - 2002-04-11 02:24:00

  • Don't Let Your Camera Be Fooled
    Overcast is often great light but sometimes, because it is actually a lot brighter than it seems, it tricks the camera and makes your flash underfire. - 2002-04-11 03:07:00

  • Easy Way to Present Prints With Executive Style
    Here is an quick and easy way to make your enlargements look great, without spending a fortune on custom framing. First, go to a craft store or search online to buy several 3' x 4' sheets of black foamcore and a can of spray glue (the kind especially made for photos). After printing your favorite images on an inkjet printer (or having a photo lab print the enlargements for you), spray the glue on both the back of your print and the foamcore. Do not try to cut the foamcore first - we will do that later. First, carefully lay the print on the foamcore, make sure it is sticking together smoothly, cover it with a piece of craft paper, and stack a bunch of books on it until the glue dries. When done, use an X-acto knife and a straightedge to cut the foam core along the edges of your photo. Voila! You now have a beautifully mounted work of art. - 2003-08-13 01:26:00

  • Easy way to select highlights in Photoshop
    To select highlights in an image
    press Ctrl>Alt>Shift and Tild (thats the~ above Shift on the middle right of the keyboard).
    - 2005-01-26 04:44:00

  • Easy way to use graduated ND filters
    It's not always easy to tell where the 'line' of gradation begins on a filter when looking through the viewfinder. To make things easier, take a piece of paper and place it over the darker area, to where it just meets the gradation line on the filter. Fold the other end over the edge of the filter, trimming to have just enough to allow it to 'hang' on the filter. I use a 3x5 card, but any paper will do if you trim it to be the same width as the filter. When using your filter in a holder, you can place this piece of paper over the filter, and when you slide the filter up or down, the part that's the darkest will be completely dark - covered by the paper. This allows you to see where the gradation line will end up in your picture. When you are satisfied with your placement, pull the paper off and proceed with your photography. - 2004-02-17 13:28:00

  • Edit Your Work
    If you are with family or friends this week and you feel like sharing your photos, go for it! If you want to have the most effect, though, edit your work before showing it off. It is so simple and yet incredible effective. Sifting through albums and boxes of mediocre shots as you make excuses just doesn't make a good impression. Presenting just a few of your best shots makes you look like a photog genius. Image plays a big part when it comes to valuing photographs. - 2002-04-11 02:56:00

  • Enough Said
    Shoot often and keep it simple. - 2002-04-11 03:16:00

  • Essential equipment for macro photography
    Aside from macro lenses, diopters with telephotos, focusing rails, etc. there are some other equally important things that can make macro photography easier and more successful. When I go out for macro work, I bring along a small zippered back that contains the following:

    1. Watercolor brushes with medium and small brush tips. These are excellent for dusting the sticky pollen off the petals and cleaning up messy things like that on leaves and blossoms.

    2. Small hairclips - to pull back grasses, other flower stalks, etc. while arranging my background to be as clean as possible. If any of these things are close to your main subject, it's hard to get them out of focus, so bending them out of the way, gently, and holding them in place with a hair clip (or a clothespin) is really helpful. Colored plastic clips ensure you won't leave them behind!

    3. McClamp - a reticulated (gooseneck type) arm with clamps on either end, or a clamp on one end and a stick on the other. These allow me to either hold the subject still in a breeze, or position the stalk of flowers or leaves against a better background. The stick version works independent of the tripod, whereas the clamp version attaches to the tripod leg. But even that can be attached to a small branch nearby. see for more info and to order.

    4. White diffusion umbrella or medium diffusion disc. A 32" disc is a good choice for diffusing your subject and the immediate background to it; anything smaller often creates diffusion only on the subject, and then the background can become too contrasty in comparison. Made by Visual Departures or Photoflex, these discs are invaluable - I never leave for the field without one! Umbrellas can be found in most any store, but you want a white one, not any color or you'll get a color shift.

    5. Right angle finder - if you can get one for your camera, it can ease the neck pain and the resulting chiropractic bills! Low to the ground macro work is hard on the neck, and my right angle finder is a god-send.

    6. Gardeners' kneeling cushion, or cushioned kneepads. Forget the wear and tear on the jeans - it's the kneecaps you're protecting here and being comforable means you'll feel more creative.

    These are just a few things I have found useful in the field for macro work. - 2006-02-16 19:24:00

  • Explore Your Subject, Then Trust Your Eye
    Amid the excitement of shooting, it's not always easy to keep all of the compositional strategies in mind. Here's the key: Whenever possible, slow down and examine your scene in-depth. Try different camera positions, place your main subject in different parts of the frame, switch from horizontal to vertical, etc.

    So how will you know when you've come up with the "perfect" photo? If, after thoroughly investigating your subject, you have a picture that "looks great," then you most likely have your shot! But what if the view through your viewfinder still "doesn't quite feel right"? Then it may be time to pack up, move on, and find a more cooperative subject.

    To sum it all up: Look, analyze, experiment ... and then go with own visual instincts!
    - 2004-08-09 21:20:00

  • Explore Your Subject, Then Trust Your Eye!
    Amid the excitement of shooting, it's not always easy to keep all of the compositional strategies in mind. Here's the key: Whenever you're shooting non-candid stationary subjects, slow down and examine your scene in-depth. Try different camera positions, place your main subject in different parts of the frame, switch from horizontal to vertical, zoom in and zoom out, etc.

    So how will you know when you've come up with the "perfect" photo? If, after thoroughly investigating your subject, you have a picture that "looks great," then you most likely have your shot! But what if the view through your viewfinder still "doesn't quite feel right"? Well, you may be shooting the subject in the "wrong" light, you might not have the "right" lens (i.e., a super-tele to properly frame your picture), etc. Then it may be time to practice the "fine art of giving up": move on and find a more cooperative subject.

    In short: Look, analyze, experiment ... and then go with own visual instincts! - 2006-12-26 09:26:00

  • Exposure
    Good exposure is about getting close to your subject and metering that part of the image which YOU consider important. Then adjust the camera's aperture or speed to match your visualisation.

    If you are working in black and white under expose 2 stops from the meter reading for the darkest parts of the image that you absolutely must have detail in.

    If you are working in color negative film do the same for the highlights that absolutely must have detail in and over expose by 2 stops.

    In black and white, development temperature and time control the final detail that will appear in the highlights. That's why you meter the shadows.

    In color there is no control over the development process because any changes to temperature or time alter color balance. So you have to ensure detail in the highlights by exposing for them yourself.

    When you use your imaging software adjust the brightness curves for that part of the image that you did not meter for: first.

    Sometimes scanning negatives as a positive and working on the resulting negative image is better. Later convert the negative image back into a positive.

    - 2005-03-15 15:24:00

  • Express Line at the Airport
    One trick that saves a lot of time at the airport is to remove each roll of film from its black canister beforehand. By making each roll clearly visible, I reduce the risk of the ever-dreaded inspection. If you are concerned about dust or water damaging your film, you can use the clear film canisters and still let the security agents easily see your film. For extra convenience, try placing all these rolls in one or two large zip lock baggies to hand around the gate. - 2002-04-11 02:47:00

  • Extending the Fall Foliage Season
    No matter where you live geographically, the autumn foliage season just isn't long enough.
    Each year, when the leaves are most vibrant, hand pick a few dozen prime leaves, immerse them in a plastic container full of water, and put them into the freezer.
    Later in the year, you can thaw them out and use them to add a little color to your winter scenics. - 2004-01-15 11:52:00

  • Filter
    For those with a conventional camera with a professional lens, :( not my case. you can experiment with different cheap "filters", a panty-hose, cling transparent paper, etc. I used to do that with my father's camera and achieved surprising results! - 2004-04-27 06:29:00

  • Filters stuck?
    If you've ever had a filter stuck on your lens, or two stuck together, a rubber jar opener can come to the rescue! Two wide elastic bands can do the job, too, but I find carrying a simple jar opener to be the trick and they take up no room in your bag. If this doesn't work, try letting the two filters sit for a while. Sometimes, if one is warm and the other was colder, the expansion/contraction of the metal can cause a problem. By letting them sit, they equalize and that can often do the job. - 2004-02-17 13:12:00

  • Filters Stuck?
    I've cut squares of old elastic exercise bands and put them right in my filter case. They are extremely light and very convenient. Easy to use two at a time, one on each filter, and whala! - 2004-02-18 08:32:00

  • Finding Lost Images
    If you have ever mistakenly deleted your images from your compact flash card, all may not be lost. Most of the card makers provide a software program that you can download and it will help to retrieve almost all of your images, even if your camera may tell you that there are no photos on that card. When you purchase a card, check the manufacturer's Web site for downloadable retrieval software. And if you are traveling with your laptop, keep it on your computer. Hopefully, it will be one program that you do not need!
    - 2007-11-19 09:06:00

  • Flash Fill Tip
    Camera brackets are a great thing to use with strobes for flash fill.
    Since they move the light away from the lens, they move the catch light
    out of the middle of the eye. This looks more natural!
    - 2007-02-19 11:06:00

  • focusing in a dark or dimly lit area area
    I recently purchased a little point & shoot digital camera and was perplexed on how to get the "auto-focus" (macro setting)to work for me in a dark cavity. What I discovered is that you can have somebody hold a flashlight on your subject in that dark area and the camera will focus on the subject. Which in this case was a structural fastner on an aircraft that was located in a cavity about 12 inches deep. I used fill flash with a homemade diffuser (white wiping tissue). The flash overrides the amber color of the flash light beam and the image comes out in focus with a normal color. - 2006-01-25 18:45:00

  • Focusing on Graphic Design
    Finding strong graphic design when you are shooting architecture and cityscapes is a lot easier than when photographing nature and wildlife. Architects are very much aware of beautiful lines and shapes and they design their buildings.
    Indeed, architects work to incorporate strong graphic design in the doors, the windows, the facade, and the overall shape of the structure. Buildings built on a tight budget usually have to sacrifice the beauty of an elegant or captivating design, but many older works of architecture as well as modern engineering marvels are truly stunning.
    Even though a building or skyline is graphically dynamic, the way you compose the photograph still has to be carefully considered. You don't want to include distracting elements like power lines, out-of-focus trees in the foreground, and unattractive shadows. I feel that too much concrete or asphalt is a problem as well. Don't include a lot of the street in the foreground so it dominates the picture. Our attention should be drawn to the lines of the building. - 2008-07-17 15:52:00

  • Focusing on the Details
    By Susan and Neil Silverman

    Details are important in photography. There are times when you are lucky just to "get the shot" and capture the moment; and that is great. However, we will often point out small details in our critiques and we are doing this to help everyone develop a better eye for seeing small parts of an image. Paying attention to details is what can bring a snapshot a step higher and more into being a good image. At first, the thought of being a "Detail Police" may be overwhelming to some of you; but as you become more experienced and pay attention to these small details in your own photos as well as other images, it will pay off with some different and exciting photos.
    Editor's Note: For more details on the Silvermans, check out their Pro BetterPholio website.

    - 2011-03-11 13:25:00

  • Garage Studio
    When setting up a studio in your garage, position your various lights and backdrop so that you will have the most flexibility in the long run. Place your backdrop so that you are facing it when your back is to your garage door. That way, if you need to get more space between yourself and your subject, you can simply open the garage door and walk back onto your driveway (weather permitting, of course). - 2003-10-11 08:26:00

  • Garbage Bag On, Garbage Out
    To protect your camera and lens in the rain, you can use such everyday objects as showercaps and plastic baggies. Showercaps can be easily stretched over many camera systems to keep them relatively dry.

    If you use a plastic bag, simply rig a hole in the bottom of the bag, just large enough to fit your lens through. Then slip this makeshift cover over your lens and camera.

    When shooting with a super telephoto lens, use a large garbage bag instead. - 2002-12-03 21:01:00

  • Get better flower Shots
    If you place a black jacket behind the flowers before you take the picture it will provide a nice cheap background for the flowers. - 2007-10-16 10:43:00

  • Get Creative: Explore the Times of Day
    By Kerry Drager

    Note: This tip is adapted from my book co-authored with Jim Miotke: The BetterPhoto Guide to Creative Digital Photography:

    Don’t take our word for it when it comes to photographing at the right times of day. For this exercise, you get to try it yourself. Choose a nearby scene or subject. Then shoot it at different times of day. Yes, sunrise, too. You’ll discover firsthand how light changes so drastically throughout the day. And you’ll see how the quality of light varies, as well.

    This assignment can be performed over a number of days. But if it’s overcast, this test won’t work to the same extent as when the sun is out. Find a scene that will get direct light as the sun goes down and when it comes up, too. For example, if tall buildings or trees block the view of a low-on-the-horizon sun, switch to a more open location.

    This exercise will help train your eye to determine what a scene will look like in different light. That’s important when scouting new locations. You’ll learn that paying attention to the light will change your whole photographic life. There aren’t many photography techniques that offer guaranteed success, but routinely shooting at dynamic times of day is
    one of them.

    Editor's Note: Also check out BetterPhoto's online photography school and its lineup of courses on light and exposure. - 2012-06-19 08:38:00

  • Get people to notice your photographs online
    Can't think of a day when I don't work at promoting myself. As a photographer, it's ingrained in my daily schedule. What I do is write every day in my blog. But that's not all it takes...there's promotion of my blog that comes along with making and submitting posts.

    There's key words to attend to (as in getting Google to notice me through what people search for). So far Google has acknowledged that I'm known as the "Digital Traveler" on the Internet and places me first with those key words. The also know that I know what "Yerba Matte" is. Go ahead and type those keywords into Google and see for yourself.

    So hurry and start a blog in Blogspot (Google's blog platform) and connect it up to your Betterphoto portfolio and before you know it, Google will notice you. If you want more hits than normal get to know what RSS means along with news "feed" and you'll be on your way. Oh, and you may want to take my class--Photography for Writers and Bloggers to get in the fast lane to get your photographs noticed! - 2007-04-09 11:53:00

  • Get Your Eye on the... Background
    When shooting a portrait, pay close attention to the background. If you have a choice, select one that is non-distracting and not busy. Choose a background color that contrasts well with your subject to make it stand out. If you do not have much of a choice, blur the background by selecting a larger aperture (smaller f-stop number). Your goal is to focus all attention on your subject without allowing anything to compete for attention. - 2002-04-11 02:54:00

  • Getting A Read On Street Signs
    Roadside signs offer all kinds of opportunities for capturing interesting, intriguing, and often funny subjects. In some cases, you'll want to zero in tight and fill your viewfinder with an eye-catching sign along a street, beside a highway, on a billboard, or in front of a store. More often than not, however, a sign shown within the context of a bigger scene makes for the most compelling or humorous photo.

    Shooting Strategies: The usual compositional "guidelines" also apply to street-sign shots. For example, experiment with different camera angles, beware of a "busy" picture in which too many objects compete for the viewer's attention, and avoid a dead-center placement of your subject (although there are exceptions). Also, keep your eyes open for potential subjects, have your camera handy, and, for inspiration, check out BetterPhoto’s “Street Sign Pictures” gallery: - 2004-03-22 15:02:00

  • Getting sharper pictures in low light
    If you are working in low light conditions, and are hand-holding or using a monopod, here's an idea that will help you get sharper pictures.

    Put your camera on continuous frame shooting mode, and hold the shutter release down for three or four frames. The ones in the middle will typically be sharper, as pressing the shutter can cause camera shake, and releasing it can, too. The ones in the middle will be made with the button already down. This works for film and digital cameras, although digital compacts are harder to do this on because of the shutter lag. - 2007-02-06 21:34:00

  • Getting Straight Horizons - when you want them!
    Aside from inserting architectural grid focusing screens (which I love), there are other ways to ensure you get a straight horizon when you want one. How often have you approached the viewfinder from an angle - perhaps because the tripod was low, and it was easier to bend over from the side to look through the camera? If you do this, you will very often end up with a tilted horizon! Unless you look through your viewfinder from a 'straight on' approach, you run the risk of tilting. Here's another method: In my field workshops, people are amazed when I can walk up to their cameras and without looking through them, say that they are tilted. How do I know this? Because 'in relationship to the scene' I can see that the camera is not straight. Most of us are so busy looking through the camera that we might not catch a slight tilt, but it's a great way to check things. Just take a step back, look at your scene, and look at your camera - from directly behind- and you'll probably be able to tell whether you're straight or not! - 2004-02-17 13:21:00

  • Getting the most out of your course...
    I'm pretty happy about the course I'm taking and what I'm learning through the lesson and the assignment. One thing I think that offers a tremendous opportunity to amplify your learning is to look at the photo's from fellow students, their settings, and the instructor's comments. I think I've learned as much -- in a practical sense -- from that as from the course itself. - 2007-11-06 05:34:00

  • Getting To Know Your Camera
    If you buy a new camera to take with you on a vacation, shoot at least one roll of film (more if you can) with it before leaving for your trip. Have these developed and analyze the results. If something puzzles you or the pictures look bad, ask your camera salesperson or photo lab rep for assistance and work out the problems before before you find yourself in a faraway land. - 2002-04-11 03:14:00

  • Green Make-up
    B&W photography with a red filter works best for photographing female beauty portraits. Though it might seem weird, ask the girl to add some "green make-up" on the cheeks and inner eye lids. This will increase the contrast in the portrait and become more dynamic. Experiment for fun. The results can be striking. - 2005-01-10 10:08:00

  • Harmonious Weddings Make Happy Clients
    Portraits with multiple photographers, such as at some weddings, can often cause you a lot of headache; people don't know where to look. Unless you are very diplomatic or entertaining, though, resist the urge to prohibit all other photography at the event. After all, it is a happy day and you want to contribute to the bliss - just make more exposures. - 2002-04-11 02:59:00

    It is so easy to get caught up with all the "tech things" in photography (exposures, lighting, aperture, ISO speed, lens choice, composition).
    Every once in a while I decide to have a FREEDOM DAY - a day where I set my camera on AUTO - use a medium lens - and head off to photograph anything that takes my fancy - from any angle I choose at the time - all gut feeling. No restrictions, no rules, no mess, no tech bits.
    Admittedly I throw many pics in the bin, but occasionally I discover new worlds, or new feelings in photography. It's nice to have a FREEDOM DAY. - 2007-07-27 21:12:00

  • Have Camera... Will Travel
    Carry your camera with you everywhere you go. Even if you just try this for a few days, taking the camera with you to and from work, you will be surprised at how many opportunities present themselves to you. - 2002-04-11 03:13:00

  • Have Depth of Field Chart, will travel
    When photographing landscapes and scenics from which we want maximum depth of field, we need that handy hyperfocal distance chart. Yet countless times, I've watched students in my field workshops end up 20-40 feet away from their bags as they searched for the best composition, and when they needed the chart, they didn't want to go back to get it - or didn't have time because of the light.

    Here's a quick, inexpensive solution to that problem. Laminate the chart with clear plastic, punch a hole in it, and attach it to your tripod with a cord wrap or plastic loop. The lamination is waterproof enough that the chart will withstand wet conditions, and when it finally wears out or tears off, you can cheaply replace it. You'll be glad to have it close by for those times when you need it. - 2004-09-02 19:49:00

  • Have Tripod... Will Travel
    When travelling, leave the big tripod at home and take only one that is small enough to pack into carry-on baggage. It can cost anywhere from about $30 for a cheap tripod that will get you by to about $500 for an excellent, sturdy and lightweight tripod that will last lifetimes. - 2002-04-11 02:57:00

  • Have your ear syringe?
    I carry an ear syringe (or rubber bulb used for drawing liquid out of an ear) in my backpack to gently blow dust off the UV filter before shooting. A computer vacuum helps to pull out dust, etc. from the camera lens and body when returning home from a shoot. - 2003-10-17 01:45:00

  • Have Your Toothbrush??
    Dust and small particles can get into dials and other nooks and crannys on camera equipment, digital and film based cameras and all lenses. This is quite prevalent if one shoots on beaches, dunes, or just out in the wind. Also, if your stuff is just sitting around for a while, it can accumulate dust.

    I always keep an old toothbrush in each of my camera bags and have often found it the "right tool for the right job" to get sand and dust out of tight areas on cameras and lenses! - 2003-09-30 07:00:00

  • Hold Your Breath, Low-vs.-High ISO
    Here are thoughts on ensuring that your photos are just as sharp as you want them to be:

    - When you are forced to shoot in a low-light situation without a tripod, hold your breath as you very gently push the shutter button. Don't pounce on the shutter with enthusiasm and end up with a blurred image. Lean against a wall or brace yourself against a rock -- anything you can find - for stability. That will help you get sharp images.

    - Don't use an ISO that is inappropriately reduced for low lighting situations. We all should be shooting at 100 ISO or thereabouts to minimize digital noise. But ... there is no point in going this low if your pictures won't be sharp. If you are not using a tripod, you have to adjust your ISO until your shutter speed is fast enough to hand hold the camera. Making your pictures noise-free is irrelevant if they will be blurred. - 2008-11-24 11:25:00

  • How Low Can You Go?
    An ISO tip from Jim Miotke's excellent book, The BetterPhoto Guide to Digital Photography:
    If I want the crispest possible image, my subject is stationary, and I have my tripod within reach, I select the lowest possible ISO and use the tripod. If I want a lot of noise (which is rare), I set the ISO number as high as it will go, whether I'm using a tripod or not. If my tripod is in the car and I'm just being lazy, I force myself to go and get it (unless this interruption might cause me to miss the shot!). If I've left my tripod at home but don't mind a little noise, I bump up the ISO as much as it takes to get a fast enough shutter speed - the idea here being to avoid getting a blurry photo due to camera shake (moving the camera when taking the picture). If my subject is on the move and I want to keep it sharp, I use my tripod and again set the ISO high enough to get a fast action-freezing shutter speed. - 2006-03-06 13:18:00

  • How to Avoid Vignetting
    Although vignetting (dark corners on your picture) sometimes can be used for creative advantage, it's most often a technical glitch that can mar an otherwise fine photo. With an SLR, you should be able to see vignetting in the viewfinder - just point the camera at the sky and take a look. In any case, vignetting usually occurs from any one, or any
    combination, of the following:

    The wrong-size hood or shade for your lens; in most cases, hoods are not interchangeable. Beware of stacking filters (using more than one filter at a time), especially with the addition of a lens shade. Watch out when using a polarizing filter with an extreme wide-angle lens, since polarizers are thicker than other filters; either skip the polarizer altogether or buy one of the thin/slim-style models now on the market. When in doubt, check the manufacturer’s filter/hood specifications for your particular lens.
    - 2004-03-21 13:21:00

  • How to Avoid Vignetting
    Although vignetting (dark corners on your picture) sometimes can be used for creative advantage, it's most often a technical glitch that can mar an otherwise fine photo. With an SLR, you should be able to see vignetting in the viewfinder - just point the camera at the sky and take a look. In any case, vignetting usually occurs from any one, or any combination, of the following:

    The wrong-size hood or shade for your lens; in most cases, hoods are not interchangeable. Beware of stacking filters (using more than one filter at a time), especially with the addition of a lens shade. Watch out when using a polarizing filter with an extreme wide-angle lens, since polarizers are thicker than other filters; either skip the polarizer altogether or buy one of the thin/slim-style models now on the market. When in doubt, check the manufacturer’s filter/hood specifications for your particular lens.
    - 2004-03-21 13:30:00

  • How to avoid Vignetting
    The last tip had a lot of great information but there is another method to use that will avoid the dreaded dark corners.

    Use a step up ring to move up in filter size. The step up ring is inexpensive. You can use the same size on all of your lenses in order to have only one filter size and the larger filter will not vignette even with stacked filters. - 2004-05-04 20:08:00

  • How to get Photo from People in Africa
    Many tribes in Africa are civilised and others have managed to assimilate the Western Culture. But In East Africa, especially in Tanzania there are few tribes which have kept their ancestral Cultures, Customs and Traditions.
    They don't wear clothes, they still gather fruits from the wild and also hunt animals; all for the sole source of food. One fantastic thing is that the Man should kill Lion in order to get Wife.
    These tribes are Datoga, Maasai( Kenya & Tanzania), Barbaigs, Iraq e.t.c.
    The number of these people is increasing, and the Natural Resources is increasing.
    So there are some rare and very few guys which managed to interact with Civilised societies.
    Nowsadays Tour Operators use these Guys as Guides to Visit these People.
    When Tourists go to their remote areas with these guides can take Photo.
    Also asking permission from them
    Also carry with you the raw meat(uncooked meat) from the slaughtered cow. These are very primitive people, and without using those 3 methods, you can manager to photo them. And if you sometimes encounter them, and try to photo them you will get trouble from them, and Your camera and other properties can be taken.
    How ever is not common to meet them, It is a very nice Cultural Tour if a Tourist visit to Tanzania. Don't miss these.
    And if you get the Photo from them, Your photo is very fantastic and MArvelous to have. Their activities and life is Complex. We welcome you for extraordinary Photographic Expeditions.

    One of the Tour Operator who conduct this can be found by

    I Recommend this Company.
    I welcome Questions about Wildnerness Photos in Africa.
    There is Great Land with Species which are their photos not yet taken.
    It is unexplored land, There are untouched Game, and National Parks.
    Katavi, Ruaha and More.....
    Ask me!!! - 2005-10-06 02:31:00

  • How to get sharper hand-held pictures in low light
    When faced with handholding in lower light conditions than you'd hoped for, put your camera on the continuous frame setting, and make three or four exposures of the scene. The middle ones will be the sharpest. The first frame might have camera shake due to pressing the shutter button, and the final frame might have it due to releasing the shutter button. However, the ones in the middle are made when your finger is stabilized on the button, with less movement. - 2003-10-15 12:14:00

  • How to have a stable tripod, continued...
    I use a tripod that has points on its feet to lodge into the ground when outside. It really helps! - 2005-10-18 09:50:00

  • How To Keep An SLR Perfectly Level
    "The Absolute Beginner's Guide to TAKING GREAT PHOTOS" tells you how to keep a camera perfectly level so not to skew a horizon. I've made this mistake taking shoreline shots from the deck of a cruise ship when a tripod is not available. The sea just tilts downward like a waterfall and the land is seen sliding in right behind it.
    What I've done is to replace my SLR's (a Pentax SF1) standard "plain" matte focusing screen with a "cross-lined" matte focusing screen. This interchangeable screen has the appearance of a grid.
    When the "grid" is in place and you need to keep a camera level, all you do is look through the viewfinder and match one of the grid's horizontal lines with one of your subject's horizontal lines. Your picture should come out perfectly aligned. You achieve a level photo "not by guessing" if the camera is so but by "actually seeing" if the lines of your photo and the lines of the grid match up.
    (You can also use the grid's vertical lines to keep a "portrait shot" plumb. And the grid can act as a guide to organize a scene using the "Rule of Thirds".) - 2004-03-31 09:37:00

  • How to photograph candid moments
    My travel class just talked about the challenges of getting candid images without getting caught. Here are some ideas to do this.

    Idea #1: You can put on a long telephoto, but then people usually walk in front of you as they don't know you're photographing! Not a good choice, always.

    Idea #2: Put on a medium to short lens, 28-100mm range and get in there closer. But how to do this and not be seen? If you stand in one place long enough, say in a market, most people begin to ignore you and you end up blending in more. That's when you can make pictures without being noticed. Sit anywhere for a while and that happens, even at a festival.

    Idea #3: Put your camera in aperture priority, choose a focal length on your zoom and keep it there (or use a fixed focal length lens). Set an aperture that will give you depth of field for 8-20 feet, roughly, and prefocus on the hyperfocal distance setting to give you that DOF. Turn off auto-focus, too. Then, as you walk around, the camera is ready for action - and all you have to do is pick it up, frame the scene and press the shutter - without touching that focusing ring or anything else you've preset! It takes a while to get use to this, as it's out of focus, but the DOF will take care of that. The best National Geographi photoraphers and photojournalists used this method for years, before we had automated cameras; many still work this way today.

    Even with auto focus, you still can miss the moment if it's a slower lens and it’s seeking for focus. Try this preset technique, and see how it works for you the next time you want to capture candids quickly. - 2008-06-30 17:26:00

  • How to Photograph Fireworks
    For those of you who are in the United States or elsewhere where fireworks will be a feature of summer activity, I thought I'd share my tips on exposing for fireworks.

    This technique works for fireworks at a good distance away, not for close-up shooting.

    1. Mount the camera on a tripod and point the lens toward the area where the fireworks will explode.

    2. Use a telephoto lens or set the lens you have to the longest telephoto zoom setting.

    3. Focus the lens on infinity--the fartherest point at which the lens will focus. For setup, focus on a distant tree or rock or star.

    4. Set the camera to M (Manual) mode. Then set the exposure thusly:

    ISO: 200
    Aperture: f/11
    Shutter Speed: 1/3rd sec.

    Now it's a matter of timing to catch the explosions at their peak before the smoke begins to form. Take some practice shots, and you'll soon get the hang of it. Then you can take a seat next to the camera, pressing the shutter button once in awhile as you enjoy the show!

    You can also capture multiple bursts on the same frame by setting the camera to Bulb and using a black card to cover the lens between bursts. When a burst happens that you want to capture, remove the black card from the lens for a few seconds, and then replace the black card until another burst happens. This takes some practice, but can result in great shots! It's also advisable to use a cable release instead of pressing the shutter button with your finger.
    - 2007-06-23 14:51:00

  • How to prevent camera shake when on a tripod
    Camera shake is so disappointing! Even when you are on a tripod, you can get it, if using long telephoto lenses, slow shutter speeds, or no cable release! Here's some ideas how to prevent camera shake:

    1) Do not use the center column on your tripod unless circumstances really require it - when extended, it causes an instability - quite the opposite from what you would think when on a tripod!

    2) always use a remote shutter release (also known as a cable release, remote trigger, remote cable release etc.) what's the point of being on a tripod if you are pressing on the camera body to make the picture?

    3) use the self-timer if you don't have a remote release - this will be a more gentle method of triggering the shutter release.

    4) use the mirror lock up function on your camera, if it has one, and then trigger the shutter with a remote release (if not photographing people or wildlife moments)

    Also, when using long telephoto lenses on a tripod, even the mirror locking up can cause camera shake, most noticeable in shutter speeds ranging 1/60 to 1 second. To prevent this:

    1) always be sure to mount the lens to the tripod, not the camera. This creates a better balance of the weight. (use a remote release when possible)

    2) when using long lenses in a breeze, hang your camera bag or some other weighted object over the lens, for added stability. (use a remote release when possible)

    - 2004-11-01 11:53:00

  • How to shoot Against a Sunset
    Use a tripod, or hold camera steady - 2006-05-31 20:08:00

  • How to shoot against sunlight.
    If you have to shoot against the sun,hold up your camera, squint at your photo you should see a dark object in the center.That's your subject.Take the pic and you are done. - 2005-11-26 14:15:00

  • How to Shoot City Lights without a tripod
    For the business traveler who's usual free time in a new city is only after dinner, and for someone who can only carry one camera and one lens, use any permanent vertical city structures as a tripod. By simply holding the camera against a wall, a phone booth, or a lamp post, you have an instant monopod. I've always found it difficult to find a structure high enough to set a short or desktop tripod or bean bag upon. But vertical structures abound in cities. Also especially useful when you slow down shutter speeds with flash in order to capture more background light at night. - 2006-03-06 18:38:00

  • How to shoot indoors
    This is a very simple tip and most must be aware of the same. While shooting indoors where there is a ceiling fan which is likely to come in the frame,it is advisable to keep the fan switched on while shooting. A stationary fan in a photo frame takes away the impact of the photo and makes it look mundane. - 2004-07-20 01:54:00

  • How to Shoot Pets
    Candid shots always works for me. Just ignore the pet & let him or her get into their own thing. And then take that prize winning photo. - 2004-06-08 06:32:00

  • How to Shoot Silhouettes Against a Sunset
    Hold the camera very very steady.

    phone sex
    phone sex

    - 2006-05-11 03:29:00

  • How to shot moving object at night ?
    I like to know how to take good picture at low light and with an moving object ? How to prevent blurring ? - 2005-05-06 16:03:00

  • How to steady a camera
    If my tripod is unavailable,I use a small sandbag to set my camera on!!
    Steve McCroskey - 2004-05-16 02:10:00

  • How to steady your camera
    The simplest and best piece of photo equipment you can build is the chainpod. It works like a monopod, weighs a couple of ounces and fits in your pocket. To build it drill a small hole in 1/2 inch 1/4X20 (that is a thread size) thumbscrew. Attach about 6 feet of chain to the hole (more if you are really tall). Next put a nut onto the thumbscrew and position it so that the screw can’t go too deep into you tripod socket and glue it in place. To use attach the thumbscrew to the base of your camera drop the chain and step on it. Now pull up against the chain. Steady! You can see pictures of this in my Better Photo site. - 2006-03-16 21:16:00

  • How to tell if batteries have been used
    Here is a tip on how I tell if my rechargeable batteries have been used or not. I use the little plastic, 4-pak holders (

    When I take my batteries out of the charger, I put them in a plastic holder with all the positive (++++) ends turned the same way. After I use them, I take them out of my camera and put them back in the plastic holder with the ends staggered (+-+-).

    Donald - 2004-10-19 04:03:00

  • How to Win a Contest
    To win a Web-based photo contest, read the rules carefully and follow any guidelines you find. If the rules suggest uploading images around 1024 x 768 at 72dpi, do it. Contests that mention rules against digital manipulation are not good candidates for any images that have been seriously enhanced on the computer; find another. Also, make sure you are doing justice to your image in the scanning process. If the exposure looks a little hazy or the lines are a bit fuzzy, find out how you can represent your work better in the digital format. If you are not sure, ask a friend to honestly evaluate your photo and help you make it better. - 2002-04-11 02:28:00

  • I Meant To Do That... Really!
    It is a given that sharpness is to be desired in most images. You especially want to avoid blurry pictures caused by unintentional camera shake, slow exposure, system failures, etc. - the keyword being "unintentional." However, a deliberate blur effect can create some powerful, memorable photos. Try a few panning shots to whet your appetite. From there, you can explore effects created by zooming during exposure to a controlled overly slow exposure. - 2002-04-11 02:24:00

  • Identifying your shots after a long travel shoot
    I read Brenda Tharp's article, and loved the tip on dating and time coding film to keep it in order after shooting. In response to this, instead of keeping notes on what you're shooting, I use a derivative of "slating", a term I think comes from film when they wrote the film and "take" number on a slate for the beginning of each shot. If I'm shooting a church in Greece, let's say, there's usually a sign out front giving the name and possibly the location of the chuch. So I shoot a frame of that. Then when I'm looking at 30 rolls of film a couple of weeks later, it's easy to identify the location and subject. It's costs you a frame, but it's more convenient than writing it down in a notebook. This would also work with headshots... just have the person hold up a card with their name on it, take a shot, then shoot the actual pics. Don't know if this is obvious to everyone else or not, but it helps me, especially since I hate taking out a notebook when I'm shooting! - 2004-07-06 06:38:00

  • Image Enhancers
    Use an image enhancer to spiff up your photos. I like adobe photo shop the best. Nobody's photos are perfect and an enhancer helps correct the minor problems.

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    - 2006-09-03 03:14:00

  • Imagination
    "Imagination" is more important than "knowledge" - Albert Einstein - 2006-06-20 08:06:00

  • Immediate Gratification
    The best applications that merit buying a digital camera are ones that need quick turnaround and take advantage of the money saved on time and developing of film. If you need high quality files (for printing, for example) and do not need to get results right away, try shooting with a 35mm SLR and using a film scanner. - 2002-04-11 03:12:00

  • Improving on a Rainbow!
    Did you know that polarizers, although designed to cut through glare and take the shine or sheen or shiny or wet objects, will make rainbows spectacular? It can also make them disappear, but you can see all of this through the viewfinder when the filter is turned. The next time you find yourself photographing rainbows, pull out that polarizer - you'll be really glad you did! - 2003-11-05 14:59:00

  • In Praise of Black and White
    Since the first film was shot and developed, black and white has been a favorite choice among top photographers. Why is it that this medium is preferred by so many fine artists and masters of the trade? Jim Miotke explains:

    It's classic and elegant, even romantic and special. The simplicity of black and white helps you focus on the important stuff. You can often turn a drab color shot into an amazing black and white. If you do your own darkroom work - traditional or digital - it opens up a world of magic and fun. Here's more:

    - Read Jim's article, "The Merits of Black and White Photography," at

    - See BetterPhoto's gallery, Black and White Photography, at - 2004-03-31 12:00:00

  • In Praise of Garbage Bags!
    Keep a medium size garbage bag in your camera case. In a pinch, you can
    make it into a rainproof cover for your camera. There are a lot of
    great images to be captured in lousy weather!
    - 2007-02-19 17:06:00

  • In Praise of Lens Hoods
    I use a lens hood (or lens shade) on ALL of my lenses! This handy device fits on the front of the lens and helps keep sunlight from hitting the glass, which can cause flare - splotches of light on the photo. More thoughts:

    - One hood size definitely does NOT fit all. Each lens has a specific recommendation for its add-on lens hood. Note: Some telephoto lenses come with their own built-in lens hoods, and with ultra-wide or fisheye lenses, you won't want a hood at all. A wrong-size hood can cause vignetting (dark corners on the picture). But even when using the correct-size hood, however, vignetting can sometimes occur if you're also stacking filters (using more than one).

    - More thoughts: The hood only works when the sun is out of the picture frame. With the sun just barely out of view, you may even need additional help - say, your hand or hat to block out rays of light. And, something to keep in mind: Occasionally, flare can be used for creative effect!

    - Lastly, a valuable side effect: A hood can also provide a little extra protection for your lens glass.
    - 2005-05-23 20:23:00

  • In Praise of Rubber Lens Hoods and UV Filters
    I was taking pix from the roof of our 13' tall motorhome as 50 of the same kind were lining up to caravan for a rally. While on top, the wind picked up and I thought the lenses were secured, but one tipped over and rolled to the edge, then went crashing to the street below. The first inclination was to grab for the lens, but realized it was easier to replace the lens, than me after falling off the roof. When retreiving the lens we found the rubber lens hood had protected the lens itself and was not broke. The UV filter had shattered and the rubber lens hood was bent where it screwed onto the lens itself, but the actual lens was not harmed. No dents or scratches. We're still using it, just replaced the UV filter and rubber hood. Now when I use the roof of the motorhome for a platform I carry the extra lenses in one of those pocketed vests with zippers. - 2005-09-28 06:37:00

  • In Praise of Slowing Down and Waiting
    I've come to learn that when I'm frustrated in my search for photos, it usually isn't because there isn't enough time or the light isn't behaving, it's because I'm rushing through the experience instead of just sitting back and "waiting for the images" to come to me. That's one of the reasons I always use a tripod, by the way - it forces me to spend more time in one place.

    There is a "pace" to most places. Sometimes that pace is fast and more frenetic (like working in Times Square at midnight, as I have many times), and sometimes it's more slow and deliberate (like Iowa late on a May afternoon). But there is always time to slow down and wait - to notice the more quiet pictures. And even if you don't find pictures, you'll enjoy yourself more!

    Note: This is an excerpt from one of Jeff Wignall's BetterPhoto blog entries:
    - 2005-06-13 11:21:00

  • In your bag
    Before you walk out the house, make sure you have your "loot bag." It is the little non-photographic things in a small baggy: a little bit of gaffers tape, extra batteries, string, chamoise cloth, asprin, emergency blanket (great emergency reflectors too), etc. These things have multiple uses when you find yourself without your thousands of dollars of camera gear. Experience will tell you what to put in your loot bag. - 2005-02-15 08:44:00

  • Inching Your Way to a Dynamic Image
    I've found a great way to teach oneself composition is to change the POV (point of view) inch by inch - to each side, and also up or down. It's a concept that young photographers and inexperienced ones alike can understand.

    With a digital camera, it's an inexpensive exercise (of course, you may end up with 100 images of a Praying Mantis or a bed of rocks to sort through! lollllllllll)

    In my own experience, I've learned that 1" can make the difference between a lovely picture and a truly dynamic image.

    After practicing this method for a while, you begin to recognize that 'dynamic feeling' BEFORE you click the shutter button. But, it still comes from moving just that one critical inch in the right direction. - 2009-07-21 05:06:00

  • Indirect Light and Reflectors
    If you want to make a nice portrait, try placing your subject in indirect light and using a reflector. Doors & windows work especially well. To reflect light back into the shadows, you can use anything from a white piece of foam core to a professional reflector. - 2002-04-11 03:13:00

  • Inexpensive Backgrounds
    For shooting flowers, plants,…and even insects, a good background can transform a mundane photo into something more eye-catching and dramatic.
    Those 20” X 30” foam boards sold at any office supply or art store make great solid-color backgrounds. They are available in a variety of different colors and because of their thickness, they can double as a wind breaker.
    - 2004-09-10 23:12:00

  • Inexpensive Protection
    Those handy felt bags that come with Crown Royal Whiskey ..(the 1.75 L size), make great soft cases for lenses, flash units, camera bodies, and other stuff. They can usually be found on places like E-bay pretty cheap or if you know someone who owns a bar or restaurant, you can ask them to collect them for you.
    In addition to the felt bag, the gallon sized plastic food storage bags sold at any grocery store provide cheap, temporary, water-proof protection for your cameras and gear. The bags with the sliding “zipper” are quicker to use than the “pinch-to-close” styles. They will usually last around ten trips or so before they need to be replaced, and can offer a little extra peace of mind while afield. - 2004-11-10 00:29:00

  • inexpensive protection
    add to Bob Cammarata tip on inexpensive protection for your lenses. How about a soft sock? One can enclose it in a zip-lock bag as well. - 2005-01-26 09:12:00

  • Infrared triggers
    This is just a quick observation. I used to use an infrared triggering
    system for my strobe. This consisted of a little stobe with an infrared
    trigger that fit in my hot shoe and a very sensitive infrared slave
    that triggered my lights. I gave this up because the trigger unit ran
    on AA batteries and took forever to recycle. I had an expensive strobe
    that recycled in less than 2 seconds, but my trigger unit wasn’t ready
    for 7 seconds. I now use radio slave, which I like much better. - 2007-02-19 10:29:00

  • Instant Art... Just Add Water
    Add an element of interest to your flower shots by lightly misting them with water before you shoot. You can carry a small bottle around with for this purpose. Some feel this is cheating so don't overdue it... But if you feel something is missing as you stare at a flower through the lens, use your spray bottle and add your own little touch of magic. - 2002-04-11 02:51:00

  • Instant dew for your macro work
    To create fine water drops like those that dew creates, I bought a trial size bottle of hair spray (non aerosol type) and emptied the contents of the bottle and filled it with water (after rinsing it thoroughtly). The spray nozzle is so fine that it produces a mist that when built up, appears as real dew on my flowers and leaves. When you live in drier environments, this guarantees you'll have dew! - 2004-06-09 11:08:00

  • Interview Your Photo Lab
    When it comes to finding a good lab, experiment and ask a lot of questions. Ask them if they do the processing in-house; what their redo rate is; how fast they can turn around your order. Ask to look at samples. Also, it always helps if they are photographers themselves. See what they say to casual questions and trust your gut feeling. Have one roll processed before doing a lot and see if you like the results. - 2002-04-11 03:01:00

  • ISO Selection
    Always try to work with the lowest ISO setting that you can in the circumstance you are photographing; you will have better color saturation and less chance of what is called noise, or graininess. As you increase your ISO, you wil have faster shutter speeds and so it is wonderful for darker lighting situations, but always be aware that you might have more noise in the image than you wanted. - 2007-05-15 22:55:00

  • It's all about the picture
    Despite all the technology involved with digital photography, photography is still “all about the picture.” With every image, evaluate all of the elements in the frame; do they support the “story” you’re telling or distract from it? Does the lighting set the mood for the story you want to tell? What aperture or shutter speed best reinforces the story? And, finally, evaluate what image editing techniques that will further emphasize the message. This is a lot to think about, but it pays big dividends in making strong, polished, memorable images. - 2007-03-19 16:58:00

  • Just Inside the Door
    For a pleasing portrait of a friend, spouse, or family member, have your subject stand or sit just inside a door or window. The indirect light there can be amazingly beautiful. - 2002-04-11 03:16:00

  • Just Say No to Raccoon Eyes
    If, when shooting an outdoor portrait, you notice that your subject's eye sockets are looking way too dark, try moving the subject(s) under an awning or some tree, etc. when making the exposure, to get them into open shape. - 2002-04-11 03:08:00

  • Keep Track of Used Memory Sticks
    As with the tip on how to tell a used battery, I keep track of my used and unused memory sticks in the case by loading them all the same direction, then when I change sticks I place the used one the opposite direction in the case. At a glance I know how many are left, and which ones I've used up. - 2004-10-28 12:46:00

  • Keeping rolls in sequence in the field
    When I'm photographing, I like to keep my exposed rolls numbered so I have the sequence of what I photographed that day or session. I've tried just marking them "#1" or "#3", but then I'd forget what number it was supposed to be when pulling it out of the camera - especially if I was in a slight hurry. I came up with another idea while recently traveling in Italy, and it really worked for me. Here's what to do: Simply mark the roll with the date (06/29) and the time that you finished it (e.g. 05:15 pm). This way, every roll will always be sequential and unique. No more having to remember what number you're up to. Of course, you still have to make detailed notes somewhere if you want to remember which village or lake you photographed on that roll, but it really helps keep things organized and even when you forget to make detailed notes, the order of the rolls helps you recall what you did. - 2004-07-03 08:56:00

  • Kerry Drager on Photographing Doors and Windows
    Architectural photography means more than big shots of grand buildings. Sometimes smaller scenes that focus on photogenic doors and windows can tell more about a subject than the full-size view. A few thoughts:

    - Experiment with composition. Explore different camera angles (up close, down low, to the side) and try different lenses (from wide-angle to telephoto).

    - Work with light. Good things happen when the sun is low: i.e., long shadows and warm tones. Heavy overcast? Then play up textures, designs, and colors.

    - Watch for strong visuals: reflections, lines, repetitions, patterns, and curves.

    - For inspiration, see BetterPhoto's "Door Pictures and Window Pictures" gallery at

    Kerry's online classes include:

    Beginning Photography II

    Field Techniques - 2004-03-28 16:06:00

  • Large Group Photography
    I regularly have to take shots of large groups of people. Never 'line them up' Use staircases, escalators, natural mounds, tables(!) chairs and stools, get some kneeling, use a stepladder - the crucial thing is, always be imaginative! - 2003-11-27 05:44:00

  • Learn by Recording Exposures
    I fully Agree with the "Tip" about Recording your exposures AND Frame #s, then Compare & Analyze them, to learn - I have been Doing this for years. HOWEVER - I find it Far Quicker, and MUCH Less Cumbersome (One-Handed) to do this VERBALLY, into a Micro-Cassette Audio Tape Recorder. And KEEP All The Tapes !
    P.S. I also always add notes as to the "4 Ws' too! i.e. : "Roll # 3 - Frame # 16 -on (Date) is :
    XYZ Falls - in ABC State Park - Vertical - With Polarizer " etc..
    This way I can tell a Potential Photo-Buyer, or ?,
    All the "Tech. Data", and Who, What, Where, When, - within 30 Minutes - even of a shot I took 9 or 10 Years ago. ... Sharpshooter - 2004-02-10 22:11:00

  • Learning How You Learn Best
    Ask yourself how you learn best - books, classes, experience - and listen carefully for the answer. If you're like me and you learn best through experience, find a project that inspires you and just do it. - 2002-04-11 02:59:00

  • Lens Protection
    While shooting the 200 US Open Windsurfing Regatta in Corpus Christi, TX I met a guy named Gene. We exchanged some tip ideas and the one he gave me was really cool. He uses the "koozies" they were giving out as lens protectors. I have since started using them myself and they really are nice. They are tight and don't slip off, and they can cover just about the entire lens not to mention the fact that they can be trimmed if they are too cumbersome. The really thin ones are excellent for leaving the lens on the camera. - 2002-12-15 22:21:00

  • Like What You See Behind the Pastry Counter
    Okay, the glass is reflecting badly in front of some of the most beautiful pastries you've ever seen. You want to photograph them. You want to get behind the counter. No worries--put your camera in auto mode, set your focal length and hand it to the person behind the counter asking him if he will shoot the pastries for you. Trust them. I've never gotten a bad shot from people behind the counter. - 2007-03-05 15:41:00

  • Living With Your Camera
    I totally agree with Tip #88. I am in the military and a freelancer for the base newspaper. Job permitting take your camera with you everywhere you go. Be it work, vacation, or just running errands. Knowing you have it with you will cause your artistic eye to be "open" all the time and you'll see the world in a new way. - 2004-10-19 09:18:00

  • Looking for Ideas In All the Right Places
    If you love photography but can't seem to find anything to shoot, look through magazines, stock catalogs, and Web sites for ideas. When you find a shot that excites you, makes you wonder how it was captured, or interests you in any other way, study it and try to make your own shot out of the idea. Don't worry about plagiarizing; you will likely end up twisting it a bit to your own personal expression. - 2002-04-11 03:00:00

  • Low and Wide
    Assuming you have found an interesting landscape with good light, try shooting LOW and WIDE. Get out of the habit of shooting at or near eye level. The low and wide formula gives the viewer a perspective rarely seen by the human eye in everyday non photographic situations. It can even turn an ordinary scene into something special because of its unusual perspective. Of course, shooting wide always puts a burden on the photographer to avoid unnessary elements and clutter and to be look for a strong, close foreground.

    Michael Lux - 2009-07-07 15:36:00

  • Low-Light Focusing
    A laser pointer can help you focus in low light. Just make the bright
    spot from the laser as small as possible and you’re in focus. Just be
    careful where you point the laser.

    - 2007-02-19 10:34:00

  • Macro Photography
    When filling your frame with a macro shot disable your autofocus and set at the closest range. Move in very slowly till the subject is clear and take some consequtive shots to try and get one at least to your desired effect. - 2006-03-19 03:31:00

  • Macro Photography and Tripods
    Whether you have plenty of bright ambient light or if you are shooting in a low light environment, macro photography requires a tripod. As you make the lens aperture smaller for increased depth of field, you lose light. That means that your shutter speed has to be longer to compensate for that loss. Longer shutter speeds mean that you will not be able to hand hold the camera to get sharp pictures.

    This is especially true when the subject is magnified with a macro lens because even the slightest bit of camera movement translates into an unsharp picture at shutter speeds slower than 1/125th of a second. Small apertures like f/22 or f/32 will force your shutter speed to be much slower than this unless you raise the ISO to a high number, and that’s not what you want to do in macro work. As long as your subject isn’t moving, it doesn’t matter how long the shutter is as long as you are using a tripod.

    NOTES: Jim Zuckerman teaches many terrific online photo courses at BetterPhoto. See his instructor's bio and list of classes here...
    - 2012-09-16 22:14:00

  • Macro Photography: Get Sharper Images!
    Two tips on making sure your macro shots are crisp and clear:

    - Don't do macro photography without a tripod. Your pictures will not be sharp and/or your depth of field will be so limited that you won't like the images.

    - Wind is the enemy of macro photographers. If you shoot close-up to small subjects when there is even a slight breeze, your efforts will be in vain. You won't be able to get sharp pictures. If there is a very slight breeze, your only hope is to wait for a lull in the wind before you shoot.

    In fact, the lack of wind is why I love shooting in greenhouses. Outdoors, I like to shoot macro subjects before sunrise and after the sun goes down because often if there was any wind during the day, it dies down. There are many days where the air is very still, of course, but if you try doing macro work in the wind, you'll make yourself crazy. - 2008-11-24 11:20:00

  • Make It Easy On Yourself
    Depth of field is actually a lot easier to grasp than they make it sound in school; simply remember that the bigger number you choose (in aperture or f-stops), the more depth of field you will achieve. And more depth of field means more of your picture in focus. - 2002-04-11 03:01:00

  • Make Sure Your Lens Cap Sticks Around
    If you find yourself consistently losing your lens cap, you can buy a little invention that keeps your cap attached to your camera. One end sticks onto the cap and the other either wraps around your lens or hooks into your camera body. I prefer the ones that wrap around your lens; the string interferes less with your operations and the cap then always stays with the lens, whether it is off or on the camera. - 2002-04-11 03:11:00

  • Make Using a Graduated ND filter easy
    When you use a graduated neutral filter, it's often difficult to see where the line between density material and clear filter is landing in your composition. Pressing the depth of field button helps, but the image becomes dark and, if the filter is a soft-step, or softly graduated, the line still may not be easy to see. The solution? Take a piece of white card stock and cut it to fit so that when you bend over the card, the edge of it matches up with the gradation line of the filter. Place the filter in the holder, with the card stock folded over it, and when you pull the filter up and down, you will be blocking out the dark part of the filter with the card. This will obliterate the image in that area and you'll see exactly where that line is being placed in the composition. Once set in place where you want it, take the cardstock off the filter and you're ready to shoot! - 2005-09-15 00:22:00

  • Make Your Lightweight Tripod Sturdier!
    One way to add stability to a lightweight tripod is to add weight. An
    easy way to do this is to put a gallon bottle full of water into a
    market bag. Then I put the handles of the bag around the top of the
    tripod. I like this because I can fill up the bottle at the site rather
    than carrying the extra weight with me, or I can use water I brought
    for other reasons. - 2007-11-02 10:24:00

  • Makeshift Photo Belt
    When traveling, create a makeshift photography belt by wrapping a jacket with zipping pockets around your waist. You can use a professional photography backpack to carry the bulk of your gear while using the pockets of your jacket to carry the one or two lens you use most frequently. This will provide you with an easy way to access the equipment you need the most without making you look too much like a photographer (and, thus, a tempting target for thieves). Just remember to keep any gear from falling out of your pockets by keeping them securely zipped tight. - 2002-04-11 02:29:00

  • Making People Look Slimmer in Portraits
    When doing studio portraits my clients often want to appear slimmer. If you have the person stand almost sideways to the camera and turning their neck to bring the face to the camera the neck will be firmer and the chin will be stronger. If you have the belly facing the darker side of the shot the viewer will pay less attention to this problem region. Have your subjects stand up for their pictures; this positions the weight better! Finally if the chin is raised just a bit the jaw will look stronger and the chin less fleshy. - 2006-11-09 13:50:00

  • Making Sense Out of Your Camera Manual
    Often, when you buy a new camera, the manual addresses all of its features without discussing the benefits of having these features. If you are unclear on what a particular feature is used for, grab a sales brochure on the model or visit the manufacturer's Web site. The marketing team usually does a much better job at selling the features than the technical writers do. Combining both, you will get the most out of your camera. - 2002-04-11 03:14:00

  • Making your own diffusion filter
    Take a haze filter or warming filter, and lightly coat it with hairspray for that diffused effect. The heavier your spray, the more diffuse the effect. It cleans off with soap and water nicely afterwards, or you can leave it sprayed for the next time - but store it in a hard plastic case or you'll have dust sticking to it in no time! I found that this gave me control over just how much diffusion I wanted. - 2004-06-09 11:04:00

  • Maximize Digicam Responsiveness
    Photographers who switched from 35mm film cameras to digicams often voiced a similar complaint: the new camera is too slow. As one father said, “I can’t seem to get a good candid picture of my kids. I see a great photo opportunity, but by the time the camera actually takes the shot, the girls have turned away and the moment is lost.”

    This common problem was caused by shutter lag: the delay while the camera sets focus and makes all the necessary settings. Some of the more recent digicams are much faster to focus, especially with a nearby subject within range of the focus-assist beam or pre-flash burst. Even so, the camera may not respond instantly to a touch of the shutter button in low light, especially when using a long zoom setting.

    The solution is to anticipate. Frame your intended subjects, depress the shutter button partway, and allow the camera to set focus and make its settings. Then simply wait, with slight pressure on the button. When you notice some interaction or a fleeting gesture, take the picture. With this technique, the delay will be shorter and you’ll capture more spontaneous moments.

    Sometimes, the pre-focusing technique is not practical: at an outdoor party for example, when you want to shoot lots of pics of various people at different distances. In that case, low light will not be a problem. For the quickest autofocus response, select the Continuous AF option, if your camera has one. The system will then constantly adjust the focused distance, so it should be even quicker to focus on a new subject. By reducing the delay for autofocus, you should often capture just the right instant of interaction.

    - 2005-08-01 15:04:00

  • metering your lights
    Once you set up your key light, or main light, you need to decide how bright you want it to look. This is determined by the relationship between the aperture setting on the lens, and the light intensity from the main light. For most portraits, it's nice to have some highlight on the four frontal planes of the face; to do this you set the key or main light at the same intensity as your aperture i.e. set at 100 ASA, 1/60th second, f/11 on the camera, and the meter agrees with this reading.
    Now when you add your fill light, it will not only fill in the shadows, it will also illuminate the main subject, just as the main light does, in the frontal planes of the face (if the subject is facing the camera). So now your exposure on the face is (main light) + (fill light).
    If you set your fill light to be 1 f/stop below your main, e.g. main at f/11 and fill at f/8, the frontal planes of the face are now getting f/11 + f/8. As your light meter will tell you when you fire both lights together, this raises the light intensity to f/11.5 while the shadow intensity, lit only by the fill, is at f/8.
    This is how you determine the overall contrast of the portrait. As just described, the contrast ratio between highlight and shadow is f/11.5 : f/8 , which is 3:1. (3 x f/8 = f/11.5).
    If you want more or less contrast, adjust the ratio of the lights to get the result you need.
    Don't forget that darker skin needs a higher light intensity to render it properly on film; you can make this look beautiful by pushing your main light forward enough to bring out the skin tone. I meter the main light, then use masking tape on the floor at 1/2 f/stop intervals toward and away from the starting position. That way I can adjust the illumination to match the subject.
    If you really want to experience heaven on earth, get a set of barndoors for your main light. Then you can shade the white shirt, for example, while pushing the key light forward to properly illuminate the skin; and you can do it in a controlled manner.
    Otherwise, without a few years of experience, you'll never move the key or main light forward the right amount.
    Finally: do the same metering and taping off distances and fstops with your fill light and background light.
    For all the same reasons. If you just push the main light forward, without touching the other lights, with a darker subject, your shadows will be too dark (because you didn't bump up the fill light) and your subject's face may blend into the background. You want the background to do many things, one of which is to separate the subject from the background. If the background is the same color and tone as the subject, things are lost.
    Typical example: groom in black tuxedo or businessman in black suit jacket, photographed against a dark background, wearing a white shirt. If left unmodified, the portrait becomes a face floating above a disembodied shirt.
    This is something that is a problem with 99% of all wedding photos, where the groom often wears dark clothes while the bride is often in bright white. That's why you can't see any detail in the groom's jacket, or in the bride's veil, unless the photographer is really working.
    - Michael - 2006-03-02 10:25:00

  • Misting Bottles
    If you add a few drops of glycerin to your mist bottle, it will help the drops remain on the subject. This works especially well on spider webs. - 2003-06-17 06:40:00

  • More on camera bags
    Try using a diaper bag. Who would think of stealing a bag that appears to be full of dirty diapers. A baby bottle in one of the outside pouches is a great misleader.... - 2005-07-21 07:09:00

  • More pet photography tips
    To add to the great tips Jim had about the table and using a friend to distract the animal, I often use a small squeeky toy when photographing pets. The toy works wonders getting the animal to look at you and really gets dogs ears to perk up. I have also found that when you photograph animals try to get to their eye level it really makes for a nicer portrait.

    Tom - 2004-06-04 09:57:00

  • More Tips for Getting Sharper Pictures
    Here are a few more ways to make sure your photos are as sharp as you want them to be:

    - Don't trust the autofocus mechanism in low light situations. Don't be so dependent on automation that you can't take good pictures without it. Switch to manual focus when necessary. Autofocus works on the basis of color and contrast. If there isn't enough contrast in a scene, it can't work well.

    - When there is more than one plane of focus in front of your subject (i.e., in scenes with depth - foreground, middle ground and background), the autofocus mechanism can't know which plane should be sharp. Therefore, use manual focus. You have no choice in certain situations. - 2008-11-24 11:17:00

  • Mounting prints - cheapo & quicko
    To mount print by hand you need a small roll of mounting adhesive (call commercial photo supplier). Cut off a piece, put it on a flat surface sticky side up. Place the short edge of your print on it holding the other end up. Start massaging it so it sticks gradually further and further (use soft cloth). The idea is to prevent bubbles of air coming under it. I've done it safely with 5x7 and 8x10 prints.
    When it's done peel the release paper off and mount it the same way on a cardboard. Tip: keep it clean!
    It would be awesome to use the old-fashioned device for squeezing water out of washed clothes - the two rubber rollers and a crank type - to do all the operations. The commercial laminating machines are just like it, only with motor. Let me know, eh? - 2004-12-02 07:42:00

  • Natural Light Photography: Beware of Lens Flare
    By Kerry Drager

    Lens flare occurs when sunlight strikes the front glass and causes light spots, colored hexagonal reflections, or light streaks to appear on the image. Flare can also cause a general washed-out or hazy look. You can actually see this in the viewfinder as you shoot, as well as afterward in the finished image. Occasionally it can be an artistic effect, but most times it’s an annoyance.

    A lens hood works most of the time for blocking the sun from the lens glass, but if the sun is barely outside the picture area, you may need to shade your lens with your hand or a hat to obstruct the sun. This is yet another worthwhile motivation to use a tripod whenever possible, since it’s not easy to hold the camera steady with one hand while blocking out the sunlight with the other. Double-check the results on the back of the camera.

    NOTE: If you can see even a portion of the sun in the viewfinder as you are composing your picture, then it’s impossible to eliminate the flare completely. Some unsightly spots can be cloned out in post-processing, though not all - another good reason to pay attention to flare during the shooting process. Avoid using more than one filter at a time, since extra glass can mean extra flare.

    More information... This article is adapted from the following book by Jim Miotke and Kerry Drager: The BetterPhoto Guide to Photographing Light

    - 2012-07-30 09:08:00

  • Nature Photography - The Best Accessory
    In close-up nature photography, the single most useful accessory is the reflector panel. Used to bounce light into the essential subject area, this produces a highly pleasing effect. Diffusion screens -- held between the sun and the subject – can be just as useful for modifying light that is harsh and contrasty.

    If you have someone to hold an accessory, use a large – translucent but not clear -- plastic sheet between the sun and the subject. This portable diffuser will soften the light producing richer colors and a more pleasing overall effect.

    If you’re shooting alone try this. Mount the camera on a tripod and use your body to shade the desired area. This alone will make for an acceptable photo, but the results will be far better if some light can be directed into the subject. Use wrinkled aluminium foil attached to a sheet of cardboard to bounce some light for fill.

    Long after other photographers have packed up, considering the light “terrible”, you can get some excellent results with a bit of practice.

    - 2005-08-01 15:05:00

  • ND Filters
    If you are serious about blurring subjects with slow shutter speeds, go to the nearest pro camera store and look for neutral density filters. They come in various intensities and you may want more than one. This filter will allow you to get a slow enough shutter speed in such situations. - 2003-07-05 14:05:00

  • Need critque
    I need acretique for thei photograph - 2004-08-18 15:19:00

  • Night Photography: Bright Lights and Bold Colors
    Shooting long exposures at night is one of my favorite kinds of photography - buildings, car trails, star trails, bridges, subways, traffic jams or just the city lights. So many amazing ideas seem to come alive at night as well as the impact of the bright lights and intense colors.
    Certain gear helps get you from a good shot to an incredible shot. First, obviously, is a tripod. Most night shots without flash are long exposures, and a good tripod is crucial. Next is a cable release, which lets you push a switch on the end of a cable to open your shutter without the need for you to touch the camera. It also keeps the shutter open for as long as you want. Having a small flashlight helps, too, to make sure all of your camera settings are correct. - 2008-07-17 15:11:00

  • No Flash Allowed
    If you shoot indoors in a live performance, avoid using flash. Flash in the face of a performer can be disruptive and is often not allowed. If there is no way around it, ask permission first. Then make sure you are close enough for your flash to reach your subject; using flash from a distance will often produce worse results. - 2002-04-11 02:55:00

  • Noise Reducing Software
    I had bought NeatImage several months ago, but was never able to figure out how to use it (am computer literate and been working with computers since 1980). I think it might well be a very good program, but it is not well-served by the documentation. I was frustrated beyond belief when I stumbled across a program from AKVIS, called Noise Buster. It is absolutely intuitive and a incredibly easy to try out various sections of your image so you can see what critical areas will look like. I've been using it for a month now, and am very grateful. It is at

    - 2008-02-27 04:41:00

  • not a camrea bag?
    one of my customers had a camera stolen from her car, learning from the experience she went to the toy dept bought a pink plastic purse and vola hidden camera! who would steal a toy purse? - 2005-06-17 20:41:00

  • On Being Close
    By Susan and Neil Silverman
    There's an old saying that "if your photos are not interesting enough, you are not close enough".; However, always remember that sometimes you want to have some distance from your subject. But if you take a picture of something and it seems a bit boring, think about coming in really close and taking another photo.

    Editor's Note: For more details on the Silvermans, check out their Pro BetterPholio website! - 2011-02-28 07:03:00

  • On Camera Flashes - For the Birds
    Don't be fooled by the camera manufacturers' claims; on-camera flashes are usually terrible. The main reason most cameras have them is market competition; some daring camera company executive needs to go out on a limb like Steve Jobs did by eliminating the floppy disk. In the meantime, you can buy an external flash for your camera. If that is not possible, try to use natural light as much as possible. If you have no other choice but to use it, keep relatively close to your subject and understand that it (or they) will come back looking pasty white. - 2002-04-11 02:52:00

  • On Deleting Images
    By Susan and Neil Silverman
    Try and NOT delete images from you camera with the trash can or delete button on the camera. First of all, an image may look poor on the back of the LCD screen, but on the computer it may be just fine. So it is best to analyze the images on the computer screen. Secondly and equally as important, the card manufacturers suggest NOT deleting in camera, inasmuch as once in a while it can cause a corruption in the card. We also want to remind everyone that the way to "clean" a card is to reformat it in the camera - after you are certain that the images are safely backed up on your computer or your hard drive and you do not need to access them anymore.
    Another tip: Try NOT to use up the card completely. Instead, leave a tiny bit of space. For example, if your card will hold 500 images, perhaps only shoot to 495 - just as a safety precaution.
    There is no more sickening feeling than getting a message that the card is corrupt!!!
    Editor's Note: For more details on the Silvermans, check out their Pro BetterPholio website.

    - 2011-03-07 11:38:00

  • On The Table
    Ever try to photograph a pet? Then you know that it can be one of the toughest assignments. Quick trick: place small dogs and cats on a table to temporarily get them to sit still. If they still prove too restless, have a friend help distract and keep their attention while you set up and shoot those priceless portraits. - 2002-04-11 03:17:00

  • Optimal sharpness on lenses
    Lenses are designed to be optimal, in terms of overall sharpness, lack of chromatic aberrations (halo effects), etc., when used 2 stops in from their maximum or minimum apertures. This means a lens that can go to f45 would be best when used at no more than f22; a lens that can go to f2.8 would be best when used at f5.6. With shooting wide open, however, maximum sharpness throughout the picture is not what we're interested in anyway, so it's not an issue at that end of the range. But on the other end of that scale, it's important to note that while f32 or 45 might give you greater depth of field, the picture might not be as sharp overall. This becomes more evident when making enlargements. So, when possible, using just the barest minimum aperture you need to get what you want sharp is the best choice. - 2005-11-17 13:00:00

  • Overcast days photos
    The light in a photo taken on an overcast day, is considerably softer. Better if it´s post processed in Black and White. Give it a try! - 2012-12-11 13:51:00

  • Overexposing Your Film
    Try shooting both print and slide film about a third of a stop overexposed - if it is ISO 400, shoot it at 320. Experiment with this to see if you like it; some photographers like to overexpose as much as a full stop, especially with print film. For landscapes and such, it can add the touch of saturation you are looking for. - 2002-04-11 03:07:00

  • Overlooking opacity
    After adding an effect that appears in the layers palette, you can adjust the opacity slider to soften the impact of the effect. Many times an effect will be pitched if it doesn't immediately look right, when a change in opacity would fine tune the effect to your satisfaction. It also saves time because you don't have to start over.
    The opacity slider is at the top right corner of the Layers palette. Click on it and move the slider to change opacity.

    After using nikSharpener, which we use, a sharpening layer appears in the layers palette. You can change the opacity of the sharpness. So, if the image is over sharpened, rather than redoing the sharpening process, changing the opacity can fine tune the sharpness.

    Remembering to change the opacity of an effect rather than re-doing it results in a faster, smoother, and more efficient workflow. - 2007-05-11 05:21:00

  • Photo Composition: Tilted Horizons
    By Susan and Neil Silverman

    If you are photographing water, a street, or a building, do try to make certain that your lines are truly perpendicular and straight across the image, if they are horizontal. This may seem like a small detail, but in the overall impact of an image, it is really important to have things level and straight, not tipped horizons or buildings.
    If you are working on a tripod, it is much easier to pay attention to this, but it is equally important if you are hand holding the camera. The response to a photo of water, where the ocean "feels" as though it is running off the page in a tipped manner is not nearly as strong as an image where the ocean is straight across the scene. And working with buildings or walls that are straight should be photographed as straight as possible to create as much impact as you can.
    Now, if you want to tilt your image intentionally, then by all means go ahead. However, make sure that it is enough of a tilt that the viewer's response is one of knowing it was a creative decision on your part.
    Everyone gets caught up in the moment and thinking of straight and level photos is not always something that comes to mind.

    Editor's Note: For more details on the Silvermans, check out their Pro BetterPholio website.

    - 2011-04-04 10:15:00

  • Photographing Butterflies
    When chasing butterflies never move in with the sun behind you. Try to never cast your shadow on the insect or else it will probably fly off. - 2006-03-19 03:28:00

  • Photographing Children Around the World
    One of the delights in traveling internationally is interacting with children of many cultures. They are almost universally both shy and curious.
    There are only two types of natural light that should be used for shooting children, or for that matter any person, when outdoors: diffused and low angled sunlight.
    Diffused light occurs when a cloud cover disperses sunlight similar to what a softbox does to a flash head in the studio. It is soft and shadowless, and your subject can be placed anywhere where the background is complementary to the composition.
    However, if the sun is high in the sky, harsh shadows and contrasty light will invariably degrade the image. Under these circumstances, ask the child (if necessary, through an interpreter or with hand gestures) if he or she will move into the shade of a tree or building. This takes care of the problem. If you have a diffusion panel, it can be held above the child to soften the sunlight, enabling you to shoot in the open. The only problem is that large, unfamiliar objects might frighten small children and dissuade them from posing naturally.
    The second type of natural light that can be used effectively is low-angled sunlight. Early morning and late afternoon light, when the sun is close to the horizon, provides flattering, golden illumination that can be effective for either front, back or side lighting. - 2008-07-17 15:28:00

  • Photographing Reflections
    Reflections are one of my very favorite ways to portray a subject. Opportunities are everywhere, from the smallest puddle to the open sea. The slightest breeze can alter the outcome. The patterns change from mirror perfect, to painterly all within a few minutes. The results are always serendipitous and random, which makes photographing reflections so interesting to me. Mornings work well as the water is often the most calm. Depending on the angle, a polarizer may help by reducing glare on the water, try it and see. Happy shooting... - 2009-10-05 08:19:00

  • Photographing Wildlife in Winter
    The winter doldrums affect us all. As the weather cools, flowers wither, leaves fall, some animals hibernate or migrate to warmer climates…leaving many frustrated outdoor photographers with fewer photographic opportunities.
    State and National Parks can be a great place to photograph in winter. The crowds are gone and the resident wildlife is more active during mid-day than at any other time of year.
    Try to shoot from inside your vehicle whenever possible. Nature has instilled a fear of mankind in most species but somehow they have accepted that our machines will do them no harm.
    - 2005-02-04 15:10:00

  • photography equiptment
    instead of buying a backpack or photo bag, I went into the sporting goods section of Wal-Mart and purchased an aluminum rifle case it has egg grate lining top and bottom, cut the foam to match my things. and whoala it even has locks built in to the case and custom fits all my stuff. - 2005-07-25 18:45:00

  • Photoshop CS3
    I love it. Admittedly the new features for photographers are not as abundant or splashy as in recent releases. The newest additions, however are great. My top favorite is the new Black and White features. The Raw Converter now has the capability to render beautiful Black and White renditions from color images. Go to the HSL tab and click Convert to Grayscale. The sliders in the HSL tab will allow you to brighten and darken individual colors! This is huge addition for the B&W Photographer. The sky is the limit. Be warned though. Pushing any of these sliders too far can lead to an unnatural pixelating. As with any tool, moderation is the key. You can always continue to work on the images contrast and brightness in Photoshop. Think of this as the first step. The fine tuning will come later. In Photoshop proper the Black and White command takes the form of an adjustment layer and has similar controls. For those photographers who were fond of toning B&W prints in the darkroom check out the toning options in either one of these black and white areas. - 2007-04-27 16:44:00

  • Photoshop diffusion
    Softly diffusing a photograph is a technique in photography that has traditionally been done with special glass filters placed over the camera lens. Now in Photoshop you can do the same thing after-the-fact, and you have complete control over the amount of diffusion.

    Open a photo and then use Select > select all, followed by Edit > copy. This places the image in the clipboard, a temporary holding place.

    Next, use the pull down menu Filter > blur > gaussian blur. Move the slider to the right until the image is significantly blurred but still recognizable.

    Now, use Edit > paste. This places the original photo over the blurred version. In the layers palette, adjust the opacity until the blurred rendition is seen through the sharp one. By varying the percentage of opacity, you can vary the amount of the effect.

    This technique can be used on many subjects, but it is especially effective on portraits of women and girls and on flowers. I've also used it for romantic European scenes and it's stunning.

    Jim Zuckerman - 2005-07-25 21:38:00

  • Picture framing - cheapo & quicko
    In art supply store buy a 45 degree mat cutter - the small, portable kind ( I paid $18 canadian for mine)- and a sheet of mat cardboard ($10). I recommend off-white card for b&w and dark grey for colour print. For 8x10 print buy an 11x14 frame, modest but elegant($4 in my case). Cut your card into 11x14 pieces. Practice using mat cutter on leftovers until you get perfectly straight cut and clean corners (it took me 1.5 hr to get it). Tip: use clamps to hold your straight edge and card together, put another leftover piece of card under. When you feel confident, cut a hole 1/4" smaller than your print in the good 11x14 piece. Tape the print to it only on the top and assemble the frame (do not forget to clean the glass!). You got yourself $50 looking frame! - 2004-12-01 18:45:00

  • Planning Ahead - Photographically
    If you are planning to do some travel photography, look through picture books of the area you will be visiting. Study postcards, travel brochures, and anything else with good pictures. Review these photos - and question what you like about each - to find inspiration and insight on selecting subjects. As you research, make a list of the photo ideas that come to mind; this way, you will know what to look for when you are out on the road. - 2002-04-11 02:54:00

  • Planning for your best travel scenics
    When I arrive in a location, I've already done my homework about places I'll want to photograph by reading guidebooks with pictures, getting brochures from the tourism offices, and in general researching the place using books and the internet. Yet often these don't tell you what time to be there for the good light. This is where local shop owners can come in handy. I peruse the postcard racks, finding the places that I might want to photograph, then I start to ask around about when's the best time to go. A photo store is a great place to ask - many times the people that work there are photographers too and can give you good input. You can also go the spots and use a compass to see where the light would be for morning or afternoon. The time you spend doing just a little research will be well worth it when you come home with great pictures of your journey! - 2005-09-15 00:29:00

  • Polarizing Filters
    Polarizing filters are a great thing to have on hand. Use these little guys - circular for autofocus and linear for manual focus - to make blue skies look blue instead of washed out and overcast. Don't overuse them, though; sometimes they make the scene look unnatural. I recommend shooting each polarizable scene both with and without one. - 2002-04-11 03:10:00

  • Positioning Flowers and Plants
    For positioning delicate flowers and plants at any angle you want, try using plastic drinking straws and a small chunk of Styrofoam.
    Thin, round “sip sticks” or coffee stirrers work best on flowers with thin stems and standard sized straws can be used to position larger flowers and plants. It’s a good idea to carry some of both types in your camera bag,…along with a pair of scissors to cut them to size.
    - 2004-09-10 23:29:00

  • Positioning your subject
    Never or at least try to consider other places in the frame to place your subject. This will give much better results than a centered subject. If the background is distracting use a large aperture to blur the background. - 2006-04-20 09:45:00

  • Predict the Weather Yourself
    Did you know that many meteorologists don't bother to look out the window to predict the weather? They rely on computer models. To know for sure what the weather will be later in the day, say in Paris, look directly at the weather map yourself. If you see a sweeping cold front just to the northwest (in the northern hemisphere) a short distance from the city, bring some rain gear and a jacket.

    If you see a high pressure, within good distances around the city in you're in, you've got it made--sun and fun. Vice versa--see a low pressure to the west of your city expect rain.

    Matt--I got a BS in Meteorology : ) - 2007-03-05 15:37:00

  • Preventative Techniques
    If you have found yourself falling into the snapshooting trap, the the solution is simple:

    Take the extra time and effort to study the instruction manual. Learn to appreciate all of your digital camera’s features and how each is accessed. When you’re out shooting, plan to use the pertinent controls instead of taking many (fully automatic) snapshots.

    Take a serious approach to digital photography. Review each image on the LCD monitor for exposure, composition and framing. If any of these factors is less than ideal, make necessary changes. Re-shoot the scene until the image appears to be completely successful. - 2011-10-31 10:14:00

  • Pro Advice: Filter Samples
    Rosco and other companies that do filters for lights make swatch books
    that are about 1.5X3.25 inches. These generally have over 100 different filter samples. The samples are just the right size to fit over most of the camera strobe. You can get a huge color sampler for nothing or close to it.
    - 2007-02-19 11:08:00

  • Pro Advice: Of Cases and Lists
    I have different cases for my camera depending on how I’m going to be
    shooting. I have a hard Pelican case for the studio and a soft case for
    jobs with multiple locations. I have a list of the things I need in
    each case. I have forgotten things too often, and such a list solves that
    - 2007-02-19 11:03:00

  • Pro Advice: Of Filters and Cases
    I have basic filters for lights - orange, 1/2 orange and 1/4 orange, along with some neutral-density filters in each lighting case. Hate to forget the filters, since I have about nine lighting cases! - 2007-02-19 11:04:00

  • Pro Advice: Tape Safeguard
    Keep gaffers’ tape on the outside of your cases. This has saved me a
    bunch of times. If you forget the tape, and we all know how important
    gaffers' tape can be, you still have some on the case. Also it makes
    your cases look less attractive to thieves!
    - 2007-02-19 11:06:00

  • Pro Shooter's Check List
    Among the things that should be in your camera case are model release, extra battery, gray card, and a couple of business cards.
    - 2007-02-19 11:00:00

  • Protecting your ball head on a tripod
    When photographing outdoors, it's easy to get sand, salt, salt spray, water and other 'bad' stuff on and in your ball head, and this can damage the head. Just a few grains of sand in the area where the ball head is supposed to swivel can ruin the precision smoothness of it! To keep it as clean as possible, buy a small draw-string stuff sack that fits over your head, and keep it on the head until you are ready to use the tripod. Believe me, it will save you money in the long run! I have even made mine sack padded, so the head is protected when traveling in my luggage. - 2004-03-01 21:36:00

  • Raining? Don't put your camera away just yet...
    By Deborah Sandidge

    Rain can create a wonderful opportunity for dramatic photographs. I love the look of reflections cast on rain soaked streets. It creates a more expressive image than a photo taken during the day. Paired with a long exposure to record taillights from passing cars, a scene can become quite magical!

    Here are couple of tips to help you with capturing a captivating night scene...

    You'll need a sturdy tripod, remote shutter release (or use the camera self timer feature). An inexpensive three axis bubble level helps guide you to keeping things straight, especially in the dark. If you are using a lens with vibration reduction or image stabilization, turn it off while on the tripod.

    If you wish to photograph streaks from the taillights of passing cars, you may need to stop down so that your exposure is several seconds or longer. Use a low ISO to prevent noisy images. Bring an umbrella, a hotel shower cap (it works great to protect the camera), and bring a flashlight too.

    Have fun shooting! - 2011-02-07 06:33:00

  • Reducing Surface Glare on Water
    Often, we find ourselves in a situation where reflective glare on the surface of a body of water obscures the detail of the objects below the surface.
    Before adding a polarizer, try re-positioning the camera angle, and shoot perpendicular to the sun.
    Hold your thumb and forefinger into an "L" shaped right angle. Point your thumb at the sun, and shoot in the direction your forefinger is pointing.
    The reflected glare will be at its least from this angle.
    This "rule of thumb" will reduce or eliminate glare without the need for lens attachments
    - 2004-02-24 06:55:00

  • Reflectors
    Photographing flowers, fungi, etc? The modern tub of margarine contains a foil cover under the plastic lid. most of them are silver one side and gold the other. a couple of clothes pegs and yo have a complete reflector to lighten the under parts of your subject - 2002-12-06 07:49:00

  • Reflectors
    those windshield covers as reflectors can sometimes reflect light unevenly and be a little spotty, so be careful if you use one as a reflector. - 2003-12-08 15:43:00

  • Remember Your Camera Settings
    It's easy to change white balance, ISO, etc., in your camera settings, all within the same photography session. But it's not always so easy to remember to change those settings back - especially while in the heat of the excitement! We take care of this problem with a piece of colored gaffer tape, which we move into an area that can be seen easily as a reminder that we have made a change to the original settings.
    This is critically important when using exposure compensation. After returning your setting(s) back to normal, then we place the tape in a spot where it does not get much attention. This tape can be reused in this manner many times and will still adhere well and does not leave any residue.

    - 2008-07-17 15:41:00

  • Remote Control - Good for Many Things
    When shooting portraits, look to see if you can use a remote control with your camera. Such a device has much more utility than just allowing you to get into your own pictures. When taking portraits, for example, you can use it to keep your face out in the open, not hidden behind the camera. This will help your subject feel at ease; everybody responds better to a friendly face than a black box. You will also find it easier to converse until you see the expression you want. - 2002-04-11 02:23:00

  • Reoccurring dirt on your digital sensor
    I hate dirty pictures. I did not have a problem with this when I used my 35mm Minolta but then I purchased a Canon 20D. My biggest aggravation is taking a picture that looks clean then viewing it on my computer and finding dirt. I have found it to be dirt on the sensor. I have cleaned the sensor using blown air from my lens cleaner and cotton swabs but had a continual problem with dirt getting on the sensor. I would clean the sensor shoot 30-100 frames and then the same piece of dirt would show up on my pictures. I went through this over and over. Blowing with my lens cleaner just moves it around and before you know it the dirt is back on the sensor. I solved the problem by using a vacuum cleaner with the crevice tool to suck the dirt from the inside of the camera. This has solved the problem. I use a “Shark” vacuum because the tool is small enough to get into the camera and it has a tremendous amount of suction and air movement. Do not blow with any presure, I believe that can lodge dirt or possibly damage the sensor. Suction works great without the possibility of damage. - 2006-02-16 11:13:00

  • Rule of Numbers
    If you are trying to get a great group portrait, take a many pictures as there are people in the group (or as many as they will allow!). Even if you only get a few shots off, this will give you options to choose from. There always seems to be someone joking around or blinking their eyes. - 2002-04-11 03:16:00

  • Rules for Breaking the Rules ... By Kerry Drager
    If you plan to break a compositional rule for creative effect, then it's usually best to go all the way and reeeeeeally break it! In other words, make it perfectly clear that "rule" breaking was indeed your objective. Examples:
  • Horizon: A slightly sloping horizon line usually appears to be an unintentional, and distracting, mistake. But a radical tilt - to produce a strong diagonal line and a distinctive look - will appear to be the photographer's artistic aim.

  • Distortion: Tilt your camera while using a wide-angle lens, and buildings or trees will seem to lean. Although MINOR bending of vertical lines often makes a subject look clumsy, MAJOR distortion can transform a straightforward world into a unique and interpretive one. How? Move in tight with a wide-angle and aim upward or downward. Why? To convey a sense of movement or visual energy; or to emphasize distance, depth, or height.

  • Finally: Of course, whether such rule-breaking will be a visual success is another matter. Here's another "rule": When in doubt and if it's possible, shoot the scene both ways. After all, there's nothing like comparison! - 2004-05-24 10:48:00

  • Save Images Often and Safely
    As you work with digital images you'll want to be sure you save your originals, and save work as you fiddle with them to be sure you don't have to start over. Use the following quick guidelines:

    1. Always save your images fresh from the camera with no changes to a safe archive. This will keep you from losing shots by saving over them.

    2. When you work on an image, be sure to save it with another name with the layers intact. Saving by another name will keep you from over-writing originals or other versions; saving the layers will help you make new changes without starting from scratch.

    3. Save every few minutes as you work. While Photoshop and Photoshop Elements are very stable applications, power outages or other glitches (e.g., filling your hard drive) can lead to unrecoverable work.

    For more on your image workflow or editing with layers, see my courses on! - 2006-08-20 07:06:00

  • Scout it Out
    Before shooting, drive or walk around the area you plan to photograph. Try to imagine what the light will be like during your shooting time. If you are planning a portrait, search for pleasing, non-distracting backgrounds. Preparing yourself in this manner will not take any of the fun out of photography; it will only make it better. You'll save time when shooting and feel one step ahead of the clock, a feeling all too rare in the typical photo shoot. - 2002-04-11 02:53:00

  • Screening Your Photos
    To make almost any scene immediately more interesting, try shooting it through some kind of screen or textured glass. Relying on the same principle that is behind filter usage, you can aim your camera through a rain-covered window, a screen door, panty-hose... whatever. Experiment with various make-shift "filters" for more creative photographs and more enjoyable shooting. - 2002-04-11 02:15:00

  • Seeing the graduated line in a Graduated Filter
    The line of gradation, where the density shifts to clear, can be hard to see in some graduated filters, especially when looking through the lens while it's wide open. On some softly graduated filters, even when the lens is stopped down with the depth of field preview button, the graduation is hard to see. To counter this, trim a piece of cardstock to fit the width of your filter, and fold it over to where the line of gradation begins to go clear on the filter. By keeping this paper in place when sliding the filter up and down, you will quickly see the line - as the paper-covered part of the filter will be dark! When you have placed the graduated line where you want it in your scene, pull off the paper and you are ready to make your exposure readings and picture. - 2004-07-03 09:05:00

  • Seeking the best light for your travel scenes
    "Rise early, and stay out late" is my motto wherever I am traveling. When you work the edges of day and night, you get the most interesting light and you can create more mood-evoking images of your destinations. Plan your evening meals to be early or late - so that you don't miss the great light. And for those hotels that offer breakfast included? You might get them to put it out early for you or prepare a boxed breakfast to go. Or simply come back for breakfast after the best morning light has come and gone. - 2005-09-15 00:36:00

  • seize the moment
    I agree with Elizabeth -Ann Gay 75% of my time taking photos I plan, just the other day I was just sitting in the house and got up grabbed my camera and my dog,Jake went to the river trying to get some sunset pics. and some of them jake took part in, he is my model he will always pose for me,but I drove around the dev.looking for that, just the right fall colors I really want a good fall folige photo.So plan but if you catch a good pic in the corner of your eye take it. Thanks, Colleen Rohrbaugh. - 2005-10-24 17:02:00

  • Selecting the Best Tripod ... for You!
    In the market for a tripod? Be sure to choose a model (both legs and head) that will easily support your camera system - especially crucial if you own a big telephoto or zoom. More houghts:

    - Buying in store: Take your HEAVIEST lens/camera combination, set up the tripod that looks most promising, and see how it performs with YOUR gear.

    - Buying online: If you don't know the weight of your largest set-up, then consult your camera/lens instruction manuals or the manufacturer's web site for the specifications. Next, see how that total weight matches up against the recommended maximums for the tripod/head model you are thinking of ordering.

    Lastly, don't miss Jim Miotke’s excellent article, “Choosing A Tripod,” at:

    - 2004-03-28 10:42:00

  • Selective Sepia
    If you like to experiment with your own darkroom printing effects, try sepia toning selected areas of a print. Simply use rubber cement to mask off the areas you do not want toned before washing the print with the sepia toner. - 2002-04-11 03:09:00

  • Shoot Before You Buy
    When you are considering buying a used camera, ask to shoot a roll of film through it before buying, if you can. Look carefully at the results for film fogging, scratches, etc. Although these cameras are usually sold in good or great condition, it never hurts to be careful. - 2002-04-11 03:10:00

  • Shoot Lighter to Reduce Noise
    When shooting RAW, many people used to think you should shoot underexposed to avoid blowing out a highlight. However, when you brighten the photo, you're also brightening your noise. What you should really do if you're unsure about exposue is to shoot as light as you possibly can, without blowing out the highlights in your shot (indicated by a large peak on the far right side of your histogram). This way, when you convert the image in your RAW converter of choice, you'll end up darkening the exposure and crushing the noise into black. - 2007-01-15 21:07:00

  • Shoot More Verticals
    Most every camera is designed for the greatest comfort and ease of use when held in a horizontal orientation. Even so, professional photographers generally shoot more vertical than horizontal frames, except for those specializing in landscapes and certain types of sports.

    That's because magazines, books, many posters and engagement calendars are vertical. But even if you're a photo enthusiast, plan to shoot more vertical images. No matter what type of outdoor photography you enjoy, it's well worth consciously forcing yourself to adopt this position -- because some 50% of situations will lend themselves ideally to a vertical frame.

    Buildings, mountains, lighthouses, people, head-and-shoulder portrait subjects, flowers, and trees are all vertical in nature. Even with other subject types, try some imagination and make a few vertical frames as well.

    More "active" than the "passive" horizontal, these may very well become your favorites from any outing. My own stock portfolio now consists of 60% vertical frames, confirming that such composition can be suitable for the majority of subject types.

    - 2005-08-01 15:10:00

  • Shooting At Different Angles
    I totally agree about shooting at different angles. I shot some pictures of our hunting dogs laying down and had to lay on my stomach to get to their level and it really made a difference. I took a shot of a silo while laying on the ground looking up to the top and the results were awesome. Taking shots at different angles makes picture taking a lot of fun and the results are more exciting than just the straight on shot. - 2009-09-30 07:11:00

  • Shooting Better Sunrises and Sunsets
    When the sun is rising or setting, meter off a portion of the sky that is evenly lit, and is not exposed to the direct glare of the sun. You can then recompose to include the sun, and record the scene as it appeared to the naked eye. - 2003-11-12 11:42:00

  • Shooting Fireworks
    For fireworks, use a tripod and shoot with a slower film such as Fuji Velvia or a 100 ISO film. Then set your aperture small enough to demand a long shutter speed - up to 15 seconds. An aperture of f/8 is ideal but going smaller (f/16 - f/32) will work well, too. Compensate for reciprocity failure - double the exposure that your meter says is required - and release the shutter before a series of fireworks go off. As your shutter remains open, you will catch some spectacular bursts and explosions. - 2002-04-11 02:56:00

  • Shooting from a low perspective
    One important aspect of shooting sports is to shoot from a low perspective. This is especially important while shooting youth sports. By kneeling or sitting, your subjects will look taller and appear to jump or leap higher from this low perspective.
    Give it a try!

    Newman Lowrance - 2009-03-13 14:50:00

  • Shooting Horse Portraits
    I found a useful tool when shooting horses. Use a small tape recorder and record several sounds of horses - stallions and mares. When shooting, have a second person stand with the recorder at a distance, in the area you would like your subject to look. When you're ready to shoot, have them turn on the recorder. The voices of the strange horses on the tape really perks their interest and you have some very alert expressions from your subjects.
    This will work with nearly all animals, providing you have the sounds of the type of animal you're shooting. - 2004-06-08 11:48:00

  • Shooting in Volume
    Shoot as often as you can! Carry your camera everywhere you go; don't care if you look silly - what other people think about you is none of your business. Just shoot! - 2002-04-11 03:00:00

  • Shooting in wet weather
    I've found that in wet weather, to protect my camera, I wrap it in Glads Press & Seal, leaving just an opening at the end of the lense. It works great for me. - 2005-08-30 03:30:00

  • Shooting RAW with a Canon 5D
    I am venturing into RAW for the first time. I am saving edited RAW images as Tiff files in IPhoto 6. When I upload RAW images into my computer, it says they are aprox. 12-15 MB but after I edit them and convert to Tiff files, they turn into 80-90 MB!! Is this for real??!! Thanks, sincerely, Darrel - 2007-12-19 08:28:00

  • shooting tru windows
    who is brave enough to wear a ski mask on ariplane or any where else for that matter. - 2004-07-20 08:37:00

  • Shooting with Extension Tubes
    When using extension tubes for shooting macros of insects or other tiny subjects, focusing manually will be more effective than auto-focus for locking on to a critical part of the subject,…such as an eye or antennae.
    When possible, pre-focus the lens to the minimum focus distance, then while looking through the viewfinder, lean in to the subject and move the camera and tripod back and forth to lock in on critical focus. Not only is this an effective focusing practice when using “tubes”, but skittish subjects seem to be less fidgety with this type of approach.
    - 2004-07-12 19:27:00

  • Shooting with flash at a Grip & Grin event
    When shooting a grip & grin event try using a 35mm focal length with your flash. There are several benefits. First, the slightly wider angle of view lets you include more people in the shot without cramming them in. Second, the light from the strobe is softer and more flattering since your subject is closer to the light source. Third, you'll save some battery power because the strobe doesn't have to generate more light to cover a longer distance. Forth and maybe final, when you're standing closer to your subject you minimize the possibility of someone walking between you and them at the decisive moment. Good luck out there! - 2009-03-17 20:23:00

  • Showing Motion: Flash-Blur
    This is done by combining the flash with a long exposure. The result actually looks like a double exposure because the flash gives you a sharp rendition of the subject while the slow shutter speed results in a blur.
    I find that dancers are among the best subjects to shoot because of the colorful costumes and artistic movements of their bodies. But you can also photograph athletes in motion, race cars at night, flowers blowing in the wind in low light, horses running and many other things.
    The best circumstance for flash-blur photography is in low light conditions: indoors on stage, outside under a thick cloud cover, or at night. - 2008-07-17 15:07:00

  • Shutter Lag
    Shutter lag often being a problem with children and moving objects, I find that some situations will allow me to use my burst mode and get some good shots with my Kodak digital camera, when I cannot get the timing just right otherwise. - 2005-08-09 06:50:00

  • Shutter Speed Charts for Intentional Blurring
    If you've wanted to blur that waterfall or bicyclist, or the moving train, Fotosharp charts, called 'cheat sheets' can help you. They have produced a series of laminated cards to carry in your camera bag, that offer a quick reference for just about everything photographic - shutter speeds being one of them. These are great tools to get you started and to remind you of where to begin with certain types of movement and focal length combinations. You can buy a set or just the cards you need. I have a set and find them very useful when teaching to guide students in getting a starting point for their blurred action pictures. - 2008-07-16 20:15:00

  • Simulating Sunlight
    We've all needed flash-fill on occasion, to overcome high contrast situations and to fill in shadows.
    Try placing a piece of yellow cellophane over the center of the flash head, and securing it with a rubber band. This will create an amber highlight similar to that from a setting sun. You can vary the width and thickness to produce different effects. - 2004-01-14 19:19:00

  • ski mask on airplane to minimize glare
    As a flight attendant I don't think wearing a ski mask is a great idea on a commercial airline. Maybe something a bit more subtle? - 2004-10-27 08:28:00

  • Squint Your Eyes
    A quick tip to analyse the composure of your pics is an old "graphic design trick", and it's very simple.... just squint. Yes, that's right... "squint" at your pic.
    When you squint your eyes you cannot see any detail, all you can see is the the overall "look" and "balance" of the pic (or design).
    For even more effect, display your creation on your computer screen then step back to the other side of the room, look at it from afar and squint again.
    This will instantly give you an impression of the balance and focal point of your pic. Graphic Designers do this all the time. Try it. - 2008-06-10 08:32:00

  • Stabalizing a Tripod
    I use a shoulder bag for my gear, and have discovered that when your set up and ready to shoot, it's really handy to just drap the strap over my tripod and use it to stabilize my shot, and it's also real easy to access while it's hanging right there below your camera. - 2005-06-29 23:09:00

  • Stability when Traveling without a Tripod
    There are two handy accessories I carry with me for adding stability to my camera when I cannot use (or don't have) a tripod. First is a table-top tripod, the kind that when extended are about 6-8 inches tall. I place the tripod legs against my chest, and with a small ball head attached to it, I can mount my camera and have flexiblity of position while still stabilizing the camera more than just handholding. This has saved many a photograph of interiors, and low light photo-ops when traveling.
    Another handy accessory is a bean bag - but when traveling, they add a fair amount of weight. So, I use either a zip lock back (weightless when empty) or a zippered cordura bag, and fill it with rice, beans, (even sand or small pebbles) when I arrive at my destination. This has worked extremely well, although you are limited by what you can place the bean bag on for support. These two ideas have improved my chances of getting a sharper image than I'd have by handholding the camera. - 2003-09-21 12:47:00

  • Stabilizing your camera without a monopod
    You don't need to carry a monopod while hiking or touring. A stick, picked up along the trail or elsewhere, thick enough to use as a hiking stick can serve just as well and can be discarded when no longer needed. Just wrap your hand around the stick and one end of the camera at the same time. Voila! a monopod.
    Paul Illes - 2004-01-22 07:29:00

  • Steadying your camera at ground level
    If your tripod doesn't get low enough when you want to work at ground level for those mouse-eye macro views you want, here's an inexpensive method of stabilizing your camera and lens. Fill a ziplock bag with dried rice, beans, or sand, leaving enough space to allow it to move around a bit. Rest the camera/lens on the bag. You'll have to smush it around a bit to get into position, but once you do, it will stay there. Then, to be sure you don't shake the camera, use either a remote release or a self timer to trigger the shutter release. - 2004-11-11 16:22:00

  • Still reluctant to try digital?
    For those of you that have drawn a line in the sand and refuse to go digital consider this.
    Some of the less expensive "prosumer" digital camera have many manual controls (focus, film speed, shutter speed, f-stop) and can use the filters you've already spent your hard earned money on. While a 3.1 megapixel model would never replace your SLR it can be an inexpensive way to cut your teeth on digital and more importantly improve your film photography. You can shoot all day long trying every combination of f-stop/shutter speed and so on without spending a dime or waiting for prints. - 2004-07-13 05:44:00

  • Stop and Smell the Photographs
    Especially when traveling, we all have a tendency to speed past some of the most potentially rewarding photographic opportunities. Next time you find yourself in the car - whether driving or passengering - make sure to slow it down. As a driver, you have complete control over the pace; as a passenger, you see more of the passing landscape. Either way, go slow enough to come to a halt at any time. When the cars begin to tailgate, resist the urge to speed, pull over and let them pass. An even better way to travel is by bicycle or on foot. Try to take these alternate forms of transportation as much as possible; you will find it very rewarding, both physically and photographically. - 2002-04-11 02:29:00

  • Strobe Check-up
    Take good care of your strobes and they’ll take good care of you.
    Always charge up the batteries when you get back and get any repairs
    done right away. You should check all of your strobe gear a couple of
    times a year. Better to find a problem when your looking for it than on
    a shoot.
    - 2007-02-19 11:02:00

  • studio flash calculations & setup
    I think it's important to emphasize the basics in studio lighting, because they are essential and easy to learn.
    Much is written and published about light quality, strength and direction, but little is written about how to set up a sound basis for studio lighting.
    Basic helps include: place your background first, be sure it's the right size, shape, and color to separate it from your subject. Then using a light meter, set it up so that the light is close to the main light intensity (e.g. f/11 @ 1/125th 100 asa). Always meter each light on its own, with the others not firing; then when you are done, the last thing to do is measure the combined effect from the subject's position. It's impossible to set up individual lights without metering them individually. Be sure the light and stand are invisible from any camera angle you intend to use. Also be sure that the background light will spread out enough to fill in all the shadows cast by the main and fill lights. It is impossible to get a great photo with errors in the background setup. Once you have the background set the way you want it, put masking tape x's or removable color circles on the floor in the center of each key object e.g. the front edge of the background screen where it hits the ground, the centre of the background support stand, the background light itself, and the posing stool. Let the lights warm up for 20 minutes before you calibrate the setup, popping off flashes every minute or so while you go about doing everything else.
    The main light is another story, but the background is so basic, has such impact on the final image, and is so easily ignored because you are focussing on the subject, not the background.
    The removable tape on the floor saves your life if somebody accidentally knocks anything over or pushes it out of position. Believe me, if you don't tape it, someone will move it during the shoot. It's like taking an umbrella..always seems to rain when you don't have one!
    p.s. check your flash in midshoot also, metering each light independently ie turn off all the lights but one. If anything is off, you can isolate the faulty unit and replace it. Keep spares of everything!
    - Michael - 2005-10-19 06:10:00

  • Studio Lighting Tip - Cases
    Buy cases for your lighting gear that you can stand on. You never know
    when you’ll need to be 2 feet taller. Don’t let any of your cases get
    too heavy, better to have several small cases you can lift than a heavy
    one you can’t lift. I use army surplus ammo cares for a lot of my
    lights. Not only are they tough they’re sealed against water.
    - 2007-02-19 10:30:00

  • Take a Break from Image Editing
    There are times in editing your images that you will know the image could be better, but you just aren't getting it right. Certainly you'll want to be sure you are using the right tools for the right job and applying layered corrections so you can adjust your corrections optimally. Get help when you need it by asking questions (and where better to do that than the helpful forums or classes!)

    But assuming you are using the right tools and you know what you want to accomplish, if you are getting a little frustrated, put the image aside and do something else for a while. Especially when you are working for fun, trying to work on an image without stopping through a frustrating correction is one way to make image editing a chore, rather than the exploration and joy that it can be. The best images were never made when someone was working on an image while they were frustrated and tired. After a break, you'll come back with new vigor, and likely you'll tackle that image problem! - 2006-07-22 08:43:00

  • Taking One Last Look Through Viewfinder... By
    It's easy to get so wrapped up in composing your shot that you miss the extra things that can slip into an image. Assuming fast-changing light or a moving subject doesn't demand quick action, then perform this viewfinder inspection: Scan things from border to border, corner to corner. What to look for:
  • Distractions: These include "hot spots" (sunlit glare), stray branches or pieces of litter, out-of-focus objects in an otherwise all-sharp picture, and out-of-place bright colors in subdued scenes. Remember: The brightest, lightest, or most colorful part of an image will attract the viewer's eye first - usually a problem if that area is NOT your picture's main subject.

  • Merges: The oft-cited example of a merge is a tree or pole sprouting out of someone's head. But a merge also can be any separate subject or same-color object that overlaps another one in a visually distracting way. Check, too, for a key element that touches - or almost touches - the edge of the picture frame; adjust your image to give that item "breathing room."
  • Lastly: Along with a static scene, this process works more efficiently with a tripod! - 2004-05-24 11:37:00

  • Taking Screenshots on a Mac
    Screen shots on a Mac can be taken without a special screen shot utility using the built-in Grab function. You can take a shot of the entire screen, or use click and drag or automated screen selection to confine the screen shots to other portions of the screen (e.g., a program window or dialog/alert). Using Grab will capture the content of the current screen and save it as a file on the desktop named Picture #.png.

    Here are the steps:

    1. Set up the screen so that what you want to shoot is in front of other palettes, images and programs. What you want to shoot a screen of can be anywhere on your screen(s).

    2. Press the Command+Shift+4 buttons on the keyboard. This will initiate the capture mode.

    *Clicking on the screen will take a capture of the entire screen.

    *Clicking and dragging a marquee will take a screen of everything within the marquee.

    *Pressing the Shift key once will turn on the automated mode which will highlight a palette or screen under the cursor; clicking over the highlighted palette/window will take the screen.

    *Pressing the Space bar a second time will return to the normal mode.

    *Pressing ESC will escape the utility without completing a shot.

    This set of steps will create a new image. You may need to crop the image (using the crop tool) so that the result is confined to the area of the screen that you want (e.g., a single palette). When cropping, be sure that the options for the Crop tool do not show a height, width or resolution. If they do, clear the fields with the Clear button.

    Some utilities will do a better job of helping you confine your screen shots to a single palette or toolbar, but the method here is fine for the purposes of my classes. Screen shots are very helpful for conveying the content of your layers palettes, developing short tutorials, and other creative purposes!
    - 2006-09-03 07:12:00

  • Taking Screenshots on PC/Windows
    Screen shots on a PC can be taken without a special screen shot utility using the built-in Print Screen function. You can take a shot of the entire screen, or use the ALT key to confine the screen shot to the fore-most window (may be a program window or dialog/alert). Using Print Screen will capture the content of the current screen in the clipboard. You'll want to create a new image after you take the screen shot so that Photoshop or Elements will size the image for you, and then paste the content of the clipboard.

    Here are the steps:

    1. Set up the screen so that what you want to shoot is in front of other palettes, images and programs. Be sure the palette/window is over the program window (for example, a palette can be detached from the palette well, but it should not be on a second monitor if you have a two monitor setup).

    2. Press the Print Screen button on the keyboard. This will capture the screen and place it on the clipboard. Hold down the ALT key before pressing the Print Screen button to confine the screen shot to the foremost window.

    3. Create a new image file in Photoshop or Elements to paste in the screen shot you have collected on the clipboard. Elements Users: Choose File>New>Image From Clipboard. Photoshop Users: Choose File>New. A New Image dialog will appear with the dimensions of the screen shot in the clipboard. Click OK on this dialog and then press Ctrl+V to paste.

    4. Save the image.

    This will create a new image and paste the content of the clipboard to it. You may need to crop the image (using the crop tool) so that the result is confined to the area of the screen that you want (e.g., a single palette). When cropping, be sure that the options for the Crop tool do not show a height, width or resolution. If they do, clear the fields with the Clear button.

    Some utilities will do a better job of helping you confine your screen shots to a single palette or toolbar, but the method here is fine for the purposes of my classes. Screen shots are very helpful for conveying the content of your layers palettes, developing short tutorials, and other creative purposes!

    - 2006-09-03 07:13:00

  • Test Drive Your New Camera
    Buy your camera long before you go on a trip and take it for a few test drives. There is nothing worse than getting home and learning that either the camera or the operator did not do the job. - 2002-04-11 03:06:00

  • The Best Subject Placement
    By Susan and Neil Silverman
    The more that the subject is NOT placed in the center or the "bull's eye" area of the photo, the stronger the image will be. It is really easy to have the subject in the center because most of the cameras have the focus sensor in the center. But if you press your shutter button halfway down to focus on your subject and then WITHOUT releasing the shutter button, move your composition to have your subject out of the center and then complete the pressing of the shutter, your subject will be focused and out of the center.
    Placing your subject off-center adds more energy and dynamics to a photo. This is not to say that it should always be this way; there are times when having the subject in the center works the best. But to help liven up your images and create some diversity and energy, then it's usually best to go off-center.

    Editor's Note: For more details on the Silvermans, check out their Pro BetterPholio website.

    - 2011-03-21 10:55:00

  • The Photoshop Trap
    Using image enhancing software, we can fix some technical problems. That’s certainly useful for making a good image even better, but it’s not an alternative to "making" a photograph, in-camera.

    Certain problems can be difficult to correct without degrading image quality, especially in pictures taken with a JPEG capture mode. And no software program on the market can turn a quick snapshot into an award winning photograph. - 2011-10-31 10:11:00

  • The Polarizer: More Than Just Blue Skies!
    Best known for deepening a pale blue sky, the polarizer also can enhance colors by reducing glare on most reflective objects - i.e., foliage, water, windows, painted objects, wet rocks, etc. Incidentally, on an overcast day, the polarizer works its visual magic on many surfaces too.
    Note #1: There's a verrrrry good reason that this unique filter rotates in its mount: The polarizer must have the proper orientation! :-) Thus, it's essential to turn the filter while previewing the possible effects in your camera's viewfinder.
    Note #2: If you aren't certain whether the polarizer will help your picture, then shoot the same scene both with and without the filter. After all, there's nothing like comparison!
    More info: Learn all sorts of cool shooting techniques from Kerry Drager in his online courses: Creative Light and Composition and Creative Close-ups.
    - 2007-09-25 19:55:00

  • The Power of Personal Projects
    One of the best ways to hone your skills as a photographer is to always have a personal project in progress. Pick a subject—any subject: Maybe it’s a photo story on how an elder copes with living alone, the first months of a baby’s life, how to use color as the subject of a series of images, or the ongoing construction of a new building. Develop a body of work around the project theme. Then set a limit on the final number of images that you can display. Shooting, editing, and compiling project image into a coherent story is a great way to learn how to tightly edit your work choosing the strongest, most meaningful images. And in the process, you’ll learn which images work and which don’t work, and why. - 2007-03-19 16:31:00

  • The Versatile Polarizer
    The polarizing filter is best known for its ability to deepen a pale blue sky. But just as important, this filter can beef up colors on many surfaces ... by removing unwanted glare or distracting reflections from rocks, water, foliage, windows, painted subjects, etc. And the polarizer can work its visual magic on overcast days, too! (Note: It won't affect a gray or white sky.)

    With an SLR camera, you can preview the polarizer's effects – if any – in the viewfinder. Simply turn the filter in its rotating mount and see for yourself! You can also check things out by holding the polarizer up to your eye and turning it. Such previewing helps you determine how much – or how little! – polarization you might want. - 2003-10-02 12:33:00

  • The Visual Power of Ultra Wide Angle Lenses
    One of the ways in which I dramatize subjects, whether I'm shooting architecture, people, landscapes, or anything else, is to use ultra wide angle lenses. I consider 'ultra wide' to be focal lengths in the 10mm to 16mm range for less-than-full-frame sensor cameras (remember that for Nikon and Canon cameras you have to multiply the focal length by 1.5x and 1.6x, respectively, to determine the real focal length of the lens), and for full frame cameras focal lengths 20mm or less is ultra wide.

    The closer you place the foreground to a wide angle lens, the more distortion you'll get. Sometimes this isn't what you want; in other instances, it produces amazing images that you'll love. In the extreme, you can create outrageous pictures that will crack people up, especially if the subjects happen to be funny anyway - like cows (I don't know what it is about cows, but they make people laugh).

    Using a lens like this is a way to design your images in a dramatic way. It does not duplicate what you see with your eyes at all, but it's a valid and intriguing way to photograph many subjects. When tripods are allowed (like here), you have the luxury of being able to close the lens down for maximum depth of field. Even though ultra wide angle lenses have tremendous depth of field, when foreground objects are placed very close to the camera position, the distant background won't be as sharp as you'd like if you use a large aperture like f/2.8 or f/4.
    - 2009-07-17 14:11:00

  • Thinking about Getting a Tripod?
    The type of photography that you want to do with it is a real consideration and where you are using it. For example if you use it in sand or salt water situations or not. If you are in windy situations or not. Your height is also an important situation. These are just some of the things as well as your ability to carry extra weight since less expensive ones can be quite a bit heavier and more awkward that more expensive ones. A rule of thumb is that you want a good sturdy tripod and you would like it to be as tall as you might need without extending the center column; if you extend the center column, essentially you are creating a mono-pod and not benefitting from the solid stance of the three legs of the tripod. - 2007-05-15 22:45:00

  • Tilt the Glasses
    To reduce or eliminate glare from eyeglasses when doing portraiture, simply tilt the glasses a bit so that they are at a slight angle; this keeps the light from your flash or strobes from reflecting directly back into your lens. - 2002-04-11 02:21:00

  • Tips on Deleting Images
    There is a school of thought and experience that recommends not deleting images from your camera with the trashcan or delete button on the camera itself - only use the reformat function in your menu. An image may look poor on the back of the LCD screen, but on the computer it may be just fine; so it is best to analyze the images on the computer screen itself rather than the back of the camera.

    There is the chance that some corruption may occur on the card itself by using the camera’s trashcan/delete button. After copying (not moving) the images to your computer or backup device, and you are certain that you have good copies of the photos, then reformat the card in the menu function of your camera.

    Another good safety tip is NOT to use your card until it reads "full" but rather to change cards before that message.

    NOTE: Learn more about the Silvermans and their online courses... - 2012-11-12 08:42:00

  • To slow yourself down
    Put your smallest card in your camera and shoot like we used to either 12, 24 or 36 shots per roll. This will make you look the subject over and let you decide what is the best way to capture it for the situation you are in right now.

    Also tripods will slow you down and make you think a little more resulting in better images with less images taken. - 2012-09-19 06:48:00

  • Translating Stunning Sunsets into Stunning Prints
    It's almost impossible to make a sunset look as beautiful in a print as it did in real life. To get around this, try either:
    a) focusing on a detail like a boat in a harbor or,
    b) capturing the glorious light as reflected in the face of a friend, leaving the sunset itself out of the picture.

    Either of these options will help you avoid disappointment upon returning from the photo lab. - 2002-04-11 03:03:00

  • Tripod in a Bag
    When carrying or using a tripod is out of the question, then the next easy alternative is a camera "bean bag". It's small, lightweight and very adaptable in almost any situation. You can even make one yourself... buy a soft cheap purse or small pillow cover from K-mart and fill it with bean balls. El-cheapo and you can make it any size you want. - 2006-06-20 07:55:00

  • Tripod in the Field
    For years I have always had my tripod set with "one" of the legs set shorter than the others. Most of my shots are taken in a hurry, often on uneven ground. I attach the camera, do a general positioning of the subject (very quickly), then grab and lift the whole camera and tripod slightly off the ground with one hand and "rotate" the bottom legs until I find the correct level. It's not perfect, but the "levels" can be achieved very quickly (or very near to it in only seconds). - Roy - 2005-04-27 09:28:00

  • tripod weight
    i use a bungi cord just step on it - 2007-11-06 17:31:00

  • Try JPEG + Raw!
    For those of you who shoot only JPEG, try shooting both JPEG and Raw in your camera. Then maybe as your Photoshop skills develop or you have that wonderful image that you want someone to work on for you, you will have the image with the most information. That way, you will make the final image so much better than trying to photo-edit a JPEG. You can just use your JPEGs as normal, and store those Raw images somewhere else, but maybe someday you will be so happy you have saved that Raw 'negative' to improve on the print or final image! - 2013-05-03 14:31:00

  • Tv versus Av: Which is the best choice?
    Many photographers religioiusly shoot on aperture priority - Av - when they are hand-hold their camera. They do this so they can control the amount of depth of field they are getting, and usually they want as much dof as possible. I feel in many instances this is a mistake.

    My rationale is that depth of field is irrelevant if the picture isn't sharp. What happens too often is that it's very easy to get so involved in the subject that when you close the lens down for increased dof, you lose sight of what the shutter is doing because it's being adjusted automatically based on your f/stop choice. If the shutter speed gets too slow, the picture will be blurred. At that point extensive depth of field won't matter at all.

    I contend that first and foremost, you must use a shutter speed that gives you a sharp picture. This is generally 1/60th of a second or faster unless your subject is moving very fast and/or you are using a telephoto lens. In those cases, you need a faster speed such as 1/250th or more.

    Then, and only then, can you decide on how much depth of field you can have. If you are shooting at, say, 1/250th of a second and you decide you want more dof, your only option at that point (assuming the shutter speed doesn't get slower) is to raise the ISO or put more light on the scene.

    If you are using a tripod, on the other hand, and your subject isn't moving (like a landscape), then you have the luxury of using apeture priority and choosing a small f/stop like f/22 or f/32. The slowness of the shutter doesn't matter since there is no chance of blurring a subject.

    There is only one exception to this. If you are hand-holding the camera and you want the fastest shutter speed possible for a particular situation, then you can choose Av and select the largest aperture on the lens. This, in turn, forces the camera to choose the fastest shutter speed possible given the lighting and given the ISO you are using. - 2009-03-09 10:15:00

  • Twilight Time
    By Susan and Neil Silverman
    For everyone who wants to do some "nighttime" photography, try photographing just after the sun sets, but before the sky goes really dark. There will be a beautiful colored sky. Really black dark sky is often not as beautiful or successful as that very dark royal-blue sky, post sunset.

    Editor's Note: For more details on the Silvermans, check out their Pro BetterPholio website.

    - 2011-04-11 08:23:00

  • Unwanted reflections
    When shooting through glass or plastic windows, and you are in sunlight or artificial light, there can be unwanted reflections of the photgrapher's image. Common situations are through airplane windows, through pane glass windows, and the like. These reflections are not removed with a polarizing filter because light reflected from glass and plastic is not polarized. The reflections can be minimized by shooting with the lens close to the glass, wearing a black ski mask, and using a black camera body and lens. - 2004-07-16 20:21:00

  • Upgrade Your BetterPhoto Website!
    As an instructor with BetterPhoto, many local photographers in my area ask me about my website, and where they can get one like mine. I always point them to

    Recently, I spent a few hours updating my website, hosted here on BetterPhoto, in order to showcase more of my work for my students to view, and also share with many local photographers I work with in Michigan. It was a blast!

    If you want your photography to get noticed, I strongly suggest you investigate upgrading your site to the Deluxe or Pro plan. I did, and I am planning on shutting down my professional site, redirecting all my visitors to my Deluxe BetterPhoto site.

    One of the biggest advantages to BetterPhoto's offerings, is that you don't need to be a techie to build a site, BetterPhoto's website builder is all forms based, you don't need to know a lick of HTML! Anyone can do it, and tutorials and instructions are available on all your pages while building your website.

    I receive a lot of requests from people about purchasing my fine-art prints, which I do sell locally here in Michigan. To accomodate my customers easily, I'll soon be selling my artwork directly on my BetterPhoto website by upgrading to the Pro option. Its simple! and all transactions are handled through a secure PayPal account!

    In summary, I highly recommend looking at BetterPhoto to host your website, If you have one already, consider moving it here. Check the prices, you'll see it is much more cost-effective as well.

    You can tour my website at - 2008-01-22 06:13:00

  • Upgrading to a Digital SLR
    I often get questions from my BetterPhoto students on upgrading their compact digital camera's to digital SLR's, like the Nikon D40x, Canon Digital Rebel, etc. I thought I would share my thoughts:

    There is no question that upgrading your camera to a digital SLR opens up a whole new world of creative possibilities, and a lot of expense to go with it.
    The G9 and similar cameras allow you still to take great photos, and if you use good techniques (tripod use, aperture/shutter priority, good composition, etc.), using these types of cameras, you'll still get great results.

    Digital SLR's have some advantages over compact "all in one" cameras. The ability to upgrade and change lenses, better resolution, less noise in shadow areas, and overall faster operation with no shutter lag time. The expense is greater though. If you want to upgrade to a digital SLR like a Canon Digital Rebel, I would suggest investing in Canon "L" lenses, which are quite expensive.

    A lot depends on your budget too! - 2008-01-19 09:19:00

  • Use Overcast Days for Great Portraits
    Use the overcast sky to your advantage. By simply excluding it from being directly in your shots, and using it indirectly to make soft portraits of friends & family, you can turn these dimmer days into photographic gold mines. - 2002-04-11 03:15:00

  • Use Protection
    To protect you lens from scratches (or worse), buy a UV or skylight filter, screw it onto your lens and leave it there for good. This has kept many photogs from having to fork out the bucks for a whole new lens. - 2002-04-11 03:11:00

  • Use RAW, Don't Abuse It
    A workflow (workflow = the way you process images from beginning to end) that incorporates RAW images can lead to better results than a non-RAW workflow. However, there is danger in temptation to over-process images with the RAW dialog. There are lots of (powerful) controls in the RAW dialog, and they seem to beg for experimentation. My suggestion is that you make gentle changes and resist the temptation.

    Instead of making big changes to your images using the RAW dialog, use RAW processing to set yourself up for better corrections in Photoshop/Elements. It is more like a a lemon juicer that helps you squeeze out extra drops from a lemon, rather than a lemons to lemonaide drink machine. RAW isn't meant to usurp your image editing workflow, it should complement it.

    RAW gives you options and opportunity to tweak your images--by design it is meant for tweaking, not overhauling. Best use of RAW gives you the potential to make better end results in Photoshop or Elements AFTER you accept the changes in the RAW dialog. Use the power of RAW, but keep your changes conservative unless you are looking for special effects or you are working with a deeply flawed image.

    For more on how RAW processing fits into your image processing scheme, see my course on the Photoshop Workflow. - 2006-10-11 03:26:00

  • Use Unique Angles
    All too often, people photograph from only one point of view. To immediatly improve your photos by making them more interesting and unique, try photographing from a different point of view. If you are shooting a portrait of your child, for example, get down on his or her level. Or, think "how would my puppy see the world" and try to shoot from that angle. Also, remember to vary the orientation, using both vertical and horizontal formats. You can even try turning your camera on a 45 degree angle. Have fun getting creative - I'm sure that these techniques will help spice things up! - 2003-04-03 17:26:00

  • Useful Tip for Polaroid Image Transfers
    One of the most useful methods I've found for improving the quality of my image transfers, and those of my students, is to make a "damp" transfer, rather than a "wet" or "dry" transfer. It gives the smoothness and sharpness of a successful dry transfer (without the liftoff). Instead of soaking the watercolor paper, spritz (spray) it and squeegee off the excess water. Instead of floating the developing transfer on warm water, place it on a warming tray or warm surface for 2 minutes. Then peel off the negative underwater in the vinegar bath and rinse for 4 minutes. Blot with non textured tissue, PhotoWipes, or blotter paper and air dry.

    - 2007-01-14 23:34:00

  • Using Your Tripod
    Make sure you add a Quick Release to your Tripod and camera, this will help in making your Tripod much easier and quicker to use. - 2006-08-08 10:31:00

  • Using depth of field buttons/charts
    These days, many zoom lenses and even some of the fixed lenses you buy no longer have the hyperfocal settings to help you set up the maximum depth of field that you want. Using the hyperfocal theory, you can still focus about one-third of the way into the scene, and use your depth of field preview button to verify what will be sharp in the scene. It's dark in there - so if you pull your jacket or sweater, or a dark towel over your head, your eye's pupil will adjust for the light and you'll be able to see what's sharp. Another easy method is to use a depth of field/hyperfocal chart. These handy charts are in every camera bag I own - and I use them regularly. I've photocopied one out of Outdoor Photographer (an old George Lepp column) and laminated it. While I still use my depth of field button to verify things look good, the charts are a quick way to set up the 'correct' focus point for getting the most focus depth possible in your scene. I rely on these when working on landscapes/scenics. - 2003-09-21 12:38:00

  • Utilizing Effective Framing Elements
    Using a foreground element to create a frame within the photo’s frame can be a very effective compositional tool. The framing element not only isolates and emphasizes a subject, but also gives the picture a feeling of depth. It can also serve to obscure distracting details or to create an interesting foreground where none exists. Some frames, like an overhanging tree branch, seem so natural that we’re not always conscious of their presence, just the pleasing effects. Framing devices work best when they’re somehow thematically related to the subject, such as a tree branch framing an interesting rock formation in the background—both are objects found in nature. - 2009-06-26 10:03:00

  • Vertical or Horizontal
    A landscape or horizontal photograph connotes a serene, relaxed feeling while a portrait or vertically oriented photo comes across as more active or dynamic. Shoot one of each for a while to get a feel for the subtle intonations your picture's orientation creates. - 2002-04-11 02:58:00

  • Victorian Tripods - Cover Up Those Legs
    If you use a professional tripod, wrap the legs in pipe insulated foam to keep your hands from freezing in cold weather and to keep your shoulder from getting sore when you carry the tripod. Some companies sell "professional" leg pads but a couple bucks and a roll of electrical tape can often save you over $50. - 2002-04-11 03:04:00

  • vision
    it's true that one must know tech. part
    i.e color temp.but I beleve that a person's inner vision is more important
    than anything else.better pictures r made up by the minds of great vision - 2005-10-29 07:32:00

  • Water on A flower.
    Try taking a small spray bottle of water with you for those water shots of flowers and such. - 2005-06-14 21:11:00

  • What about Vignetting?
    By Susan and Neil Silverman
    There are good and bad vignettes. Bad is when the filter or lens hood of the camera is in the frame of the image and there are dark hard edges in the photo. Good vignetting is accomplished by a photo editing program, and softly and gradually shades or darkens the edges of the photo. This is very subtle and holds the viewers eyes within the image and keeps the attention on the subject.
    Oftentimes, we might suggest that this be done to an image, as it can be really a fine tuning to make an image all the stronger. It was a style often used with old portraits. A good vignette will not be detected by the viewer; but it will just be one of those finishing touches that very often makes a photo jump right out.
    Editor's Note: For more details on the Silvermans, check out their Pro BetterPholio website.

    - 2011-03-28 09:57:00

  • When Photos Get Weird (Resetting Settings)
    There will be times for some of you when Photoshop (or Elements) starts to behave in an unpredictable way. Cursors might look wrong, palettes missing buttons, other parts of the interface misshapen and other things may happen. It may be brought on for a number of reasons, including poor system maintenance (see my article Keeping Your System Healthy), not having enough RAM or feww hard drive space, having a virus, or simply having a preferences file become corrupted.

    Preferences shouldn't really become corrupt very often, and if they do you likely have more than just a simple problem with your system. But before you go reinstalling or calling tech support for Adobe or your computer, there is one quick thing to try: resetting your Settings. It is an easy fix for a variety of inexplicable oddities that might happen in the interface. Here is all you have to do:

    1. Close out of Photoshop/Elements.

    2. Launch the program as you normally do.

    3. IMMEDIATELY on beginning the launch (do NOT wait for the program to open) hold down the following keys: Alt+Control+Shift (PC/Windows) or Option+Command+Shift (Mac/OS X)
    Note: Elements users who see the screen that allows them to choose to go to Editor, Organizer, etc. need to address that screen to go to Editor and hold down the keys a second time.

    4. When the dialog appears asking if you want to delete the Settings File, click "Yes".

    Photoshop/Elements will rebuild the file with default settings, and often will fix oddities. Palettes will be restored to their original positions, and settings that are normally retained behind the scenes will be set to the factory defaults. Noting the position of the palette is one way to know you deleted the Settings correctly. After you reset, check to see if you still have the same issue...if not, it was just the Settings file, and you can get back to work!

    I teach this basic step in my Photoshop 101 course here at! - 2008-09-19 06:36:00

  • Where to crop an arm or leg for a photo
    The "rule" is that you do not want to crop at a joint, for example if you were to crop off a photo involving some legs, you would want to not crop right at the knees,but do crop either above or below the knee joint; it then appears to be a crop of artistic intention rather than being a photo of a subject who might have had an amputation.

    - 2007-05-15 22:49:00

  • Why 'First Things First' is a Good Strategy
    The reason photographers often feel stress on a trip is the self-imposed pressure to capture the definitive images. Celebrated tourist spots, world-class cities, and popular national parks all feature justifiably famous views that have been photographed over and over again. But at the same time, there’s also the desire to come up with innovative photographs. This "shoot the classics vs. strive for originality" disparity is always a challenge.
    The best advice: Attack the top spots as soon as possible. That way, you get them out of your system. After recording these definitive images, you’ll be surprised how that reduces the anxiety, lifts the spirit, and makes you mentally prepared to be imaginative.

    NOTE: This tip is from the new book co-authored by Jim Miotke and Kerry Drager: The BetterPhoto Guide to Creative Digital Photography - 2012-01-23 10:05:00

  • Why You're Photos Are Not Sharp by Jim Zuckerman
    Why aren't your pictures as sharp as you want and expect? While there are many factors that at times are beyond our control to fix - like photographing a kid on a skateboard in a park at night with no flash - there are many situations that can be remedied. Here are a couple of them:

    - Don't raise the center column of your tripod too high. This is a relatively unstable situation. In essence, you will be shooting from a monopod. Instead, extend the legs fully and, if that's not tall enough for you, get another tripod - a model that when the legs are extended, the camera is at eye level.

    - Don't hand-hold your pictures when shooting at twilight or night, and don't raise the ISO so high that the increase in digital noise degrades the picture quality. Use a tripod. - 2008-11-24 11:13:00

  • Winter Blues by Jim Zuckerman
    Photographers go to great pains to eliminate the blue cast from their landscapes. Blue is associated with photographing in deep shade, twilight, and under an overcast sky. Warmer tones are often preferred, and in the past photographers used warming filters to neutralize the blue. Now it's a simple matter of adjusting the white balance on the camera or you can make the adjustment in Bridge or Lightroom if you shoot RAW files. The blue can be eliminated and warmer colors can be chosen.
    However, I have never understood why so many people want to get rid of a deep blue color cast in their landscapes. I always thought it was beautiful. If there isn't enough blue in the original picture, sometimes I'll enhance the image digitally to add what I feel gives impact to the shot. Blue connotes cold, and for winter landscapes in particular I think it is not only artistic but it seems appropriate on a viseral level.
    You can set your white balance to a lower Kelvin temperature setting (like 3200K) or use the "tungsten" option to get blue pictures outdoors, but I prefer to do it in Photoshop because of the control I have.
    Editor's Note: Jim Zuckerman teaches many courses here at BetterPhoto, including Techniques of Natural Light Photography and Perfect Digital Exposure - 2009-02-09 09:10:00

  • Wobbly Tripod?
    Didn't spend $600 on a bogen tripod? don't worry. Most of the extra cost is to ensure stability and you can turn a $50 tripod into a pillar of strength for $5 more. Any small weight (more than a pound or two) tied to a string and hung from the center post of the tripod will disburse the weight evenly to each leg and down the center axis. This dramatically stabalizes your tripod-- even in harsh weather. - 2005-02-15 08:47:00
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