Category Archives: Photography

Take Your Photos to the Next Level

We’ve all been there…

You head out early in the morning to photograph that spectacular sunset and find that you somehow forgot your tripod.

Or maybe you have something small to photograph, like a product, but don’t want to drop a bunch of money on a portable photography studio to do it.

Heck, you might even rock your smartphone as a camera and want to take sharper images, but don’t know how to do it.

Check out their awesome (and functional!) tips in the video above, and read up on what each tip entails in the descriptions that follow below.

Maybe you forgot your tripod, as I have done a few times over the years.

Or perhaps you’re just starting out in photography, and your camera and lens tapped your gear budget, so you don’t have a tripod to begin with.

Either way, you don’t have to suffer with blurry images due to camera shake.

Just make a string tripod by tying the string to each of the camera’s shoulder strap mounts.

Then, dangle the string to the floor, step on it with your feet as shown above, and raise your camera to your eye.

Voila! You’ve got a solid setup to get sharper photos.

GoPro Photography Tips

I’m not sure there’s a camera that’s more associated with adventure and photography than the GoPro.

After all, it’s small, powerful, and can shoot video. You can mount it to your chest, to a tripod, to your helmet, or even to your car to get interesting stills and video, too.

But to unleash the true power of your GoPro, you need to give it a little help, just like you’d do with any other camera.

With that in mind, I’ve put together a quick list of things you can do to make photography magic with your GoPro.

 

Get Some Filters

 

The value of having filters for your camera – GoPro or otherwise – cannot be understated.

Though there are plenty of factors that separate images by amateurs and images by the pros, the use of filters is probably the simplest and easiest of them all.

If you pick up a GoPro Elite Kit by Formatt-Hitech, you get a variety of filters that will help you take your photos to the next level…

With a neutral density filter, you can help your GoPro take gorgeous long exposures.

With a polarizer, you can eliminate glare off of water, reduce atmospheric haze, and boost the saturation and contrast of the sky.

Even a simple UV filter is helpful for your adventures with your GoPro as it will help protect the GoPro’s lens from damage.

 

Of course, having a GoPro means you can take your photography to places you typically wouldn’t like under the surface of the ocean.

In that case, you want to have filters that help correct the colors in your images when diving in blue or green water.

The Formatt-Hitech GoPro Dive Kit has all you need for taking breathtaking underwater shots.

As seen above, the kit comes with a variety of tinted filters for correcting color casts when diving. Also included is a filter holder.

In other words, no matter if you’re diving off the coast of California, riding your bike in the mountains of New Hampshire, or something in between, with the right filter kit, you can turn your GoPro into an even more effective photo and video-taking machine.

How to make baby look princess on photo

I don’t consider myself an especially sensitive guy, but I have to say when I saw these princess-themed newborn photos I couldn’t help but giggle and say “Awwwwww.”

I think you will too!

The images above and below are the work of Belly Beautiful Portraits by Karen Marie.

Working with Sew Trendy Accessories – which provided the princess-themed attire – Karen managed to create a series of gorgeous newborn portraits that will melt even the coldest of hearts.

Whether your favorite Disney movie is Aladdin, Snow White, the Little Mermaid, or something in between, you’ll immediately recognize which princesses these babies are made to emulate.

In an interview with the Huffington Post, Karen noted that the little models were a mixture of her clients’ newborns and babies found in a model call-out.

All told, six little princesses were photographed in her Roseville, California studio.

But, why Disney?

According to Karen, Disney has been an important part of her life as a mother of three: “The amazing tales of love and heroism have always been an inspiration to me, and now I see it inspiring my girls.”

In addition to taking the photos, Karen designed the sets with spot-on accuracy to convey the sense of which princess and Disney movie she was photographing.

The adorable princess gowns from Sew Trendy sure helped, too.

There will be more princess-themed photos coming from Karen Marie and Sew Trendy in the future. Moana, Pocahontas, and Tiana have been mentioned as the next possibilities.

In the meantime, let’s admire these photos and learn a few things about newborn photography at the same time!

Unlike the previous images in this article, in this one, Karen chose to take a close up to create a more intimate shot.

With the Sew Trendy gown and hair bow, it’s unmistakable that this little gal is Snow White, having a restful sleep.

Note how with all the details in the gown and bow that the image still has plenty of visual interest even though it’s a closely framed shot.

Transform the Way Product Photography is Done

For those of you who are looking at getting into product photography or looking at trimming the fat from your current workflow, we have big news!

Known for some our favorite time-lapse motion control gear, New Zealand-based company Syrp has released yet another accessory for the Genie Mini that’s going to drastically reduce all that back and forth you get with product photography and helps keep all your shots consistent.

The viewfinder isn’t bad, either.

It’s big, bright, and easy to see, and offers 100 percent coverage as well.

With Canon’s Intelligent Viewfinder II technology, you get all sorts of critical information in the display.

From a rule of thirds grid to an electronic level to details about metering (and a lot more), it’s a next-generation display that will help you take better photos.

There’s a lot to love about the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, that’s for sure!

When you register your business, you’ll likely have to do so with a business name. You might also need a tax ID number, unless you opt to use your social security number for that purpose.

It’s also a good idea to consult with professionals that can help you in this process. An attorney, for example, can handle the paperwork of establishing your business. An accountant can handle the books. Talk with an insurance agent to get your studio, office, and gear covered.

In other words, it’s a long process to get the foundation laid for your business, but the more you concentrate on these tasks, the better off you’ll be down the road!

DSLRs on the Market Right Now

Let’s face it – when it comes to camera selection, these days, there’s a lot of options.

From full frame to micro four-thirds, DSLRs to mirrorless, and everything in between, it can be a little overwhelming when you look online for a camera or visit your local camera store.

It’s hard to muddle through all the options, which is why I thought it would be beneficial to narrow the field down for you.

With that in mind, I’ve put together this list of the four best DSLRs money can buy right now.

 

Essential Specs

  • 30-megapixel full frame sensor
  • Shutter speed up to 1/8000th seconds
  • ISO range from 64-102400
  • Burst shooting up to 7fps
  • 4K Video
  • 61 dual pixel autofocus points

The Canon EOS 5D has been around for a long time, and the Mark IV version of the camera does its heritage justice as it’s one of the best all-around cameras money can buy.

Granted, it’s not cheap, but if money isn’t a concern, this is the camera you should buy.

The Mark IV’s sensor is magical, delivering results that are tack-sharp.

But aside from superb image quality, the Mark IV’s autofocus system is probably my favorite feature. With “just” 61 AF points, it lags behind some of its competitors (namely, Sony). However, since all 61 points are of the dual pixel variety, you get amazingly advanced performance with handling that you’d expect from a professional-grade camera.

I’d be remiss not to mention a few other features as well.

For starters, the Mark IV has a glorious LCD, which at 3.2-inches with 1.62 million dots is big and easy on the eyes.

It’s also touchscreen-enabled, a must-have for the modern photographer.

It’s actually the same screen that’s found on the EOS 1D X Mark II – an even more expensive camera. However, the 5D Mark IV enjoys full-time touchscreen capabilities whereas the 1D X Mark II only gets that feature in live view.

Workflow for Landscape Photography

The great thing about photographing landscapes is that you don’t have to worry about your subject not smiling or looking at the camera.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t improvements that can be made after the fact in post-processing.

Though some photographers poo-poo the idea of manipulating your photos in post, I’m of the school of thought that doing some light editing to enhance the look of your photos is no different than what we did in darkrooms long ago.

The problem is that programs like Photoshop can be on the overwhelming side, with hundreds of features and functions for your editing pleasure.

Fortunately, Joshua Cripps of Professional Photography Tips has put together a quick, yet effective 5-minute landscape photography workflow for landscapes. See it in action in the video below, and read about each step of the process in the text that follows.

If you aren’t shooting in RAW, you should be. And if you aren’t editing your RAW files in Adobe Camera RAW before importing them into Photoshop, you should be doing that too!

RAW files retain all the data that your camera’s sensor collects, so there’s a lot more information to work with than with a JPEG.

In looking at the image above, you can see how it’s underexposed.

Using Adobe Camera RAW adjustments allows you to increase the exposure level, work on the highlights and shadows, adjust the whites and blacks, and manipulate the clarity, vibrance, and saturation too.

After making all those adjustments, you can see how much the image is already improved. But Camera RAW has other functions that allow you to further prep your image for Photoshop.

Opening the tone curve panel, you can adjust the highlights and shadows to add some contrast to the scene, which helps it look more dynamic and less flat.

Another neat function in Camera RAW is the ability to add a graduated filter effect to the shot.

In the field, a graduated neutral density filter darkens the sky and has little to no effect on the foreground. The purpose, of course, being to even out the exposure levels between the foreground and background.

Making that adjustment in Camera RAW has a similar effect by selected an area of the image to work on, as seen above.

Once you do that, you can manipulate shadows, highlights, saturation, vibrance, and so on in that specific area.

In the lens correction panel, there’s another neat trick you can use to enhance your photos: vignetting.

In this case, adding a slight vignette effect darkens the edges of the frame just enough such that the sun-kissed features of the sky and the mountains stand out a bit more.

Managing Your Photography Business

Setting out on your own and building a business can be an incredibly rewarding adventure.

Of course, it can be extremely scary, too!

There’s a lot on a professional photographer’s plate, from the obvious tasks of developing solid photography skills and marketing the business to all those little things that add up over the course of the day to eat away at your time.

I found that when I started my business that I focused so much of my attention on the “big things” – branding, developing price lists and product offerings, and perfecting my technical photography skills – that I had little time to manage all those little tasks like responding to emails, keeping a laser-focused calendar, and setting long-term goals.

And guess what?

Those seemingly innocuous daily tasks are every bit as important!

With that in mind, here’s three sure-fire ways to manage your business more effectively.

Perhaps the last thing on your mind when you’re trying to get your photography business off the ground is your email.

The problem with that is that in your email might be questions from potential clients, or better yet, solid leads for clients.

No one enjoys waiting around for a response from someone they’ve reached out to contact. So, do yourself a favor and respond to emails right away (or as quickly as humanly possible).

Telling yourself that you’ll respond later just doesn’t work. And if you’re like me, if you read a message and it’s no longer bolded in your inbox like a new message is, it will get buried in your inbox, and you’ll likely not find it for another week when it’s too late.

The last thing you want is to send a message that you aren’t reliable. Instead of letting little things like reading and responding to emails in a timely fashion derail your success, set aside time every morning, afternoon, and evening to check your email and respond.

This doesn’t have to take up hours and hours of your day, either.

If you can get on top of the email situation and be good about responding (and managing and deleting spam as it comes in), your inbox will be neat and tidy, and it will only take you a few minutes several times a day to send out responses.

Reading and sending emails isn’t the sexiest of daily tasks, but it’s better to attend to it than to ignore it and potentially lose a ton of clients!

Get a few ideas for being more organized in the video above from Entrepreneur Magazine.

Take Your Photos to the Next Level

All of us want to take better photos. That’s a given, even for people that to the rest of us are at the pinnacle of creating incredible images.

But when you’re a beginner, getting to that place where you say, “Wow, I just created a great shot!” can be a bit on the daunting side.

There’s many paths you can take to get to a better photo – and that’s part of the confusion, just knowing where to start.

With that in mind, I thought long and hard about all the things I know now that I didn’t know when I started and narrowed it down to three crucial ways you can improve your photography.

 

If I had to say what the most common problem is for newbie photographers, I’d say that it’s too much of a focus on the gear.

By that, I mean that instead of actually learning how to use the camera they have already, they put all their energy into lusting over what camera they should have.

The problem with that is that the camera they feel they should have isn’t going to make them a better photographer…

Practicing and learning photography concepts with the camera they already have will make a big difference, though.

Even if all you have is a smartphone, you can learn a ton about photography, especially compositional principles.

For example, you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on a Canon 5DS to practice things like framing, using leading lines, the rule of thirds, and other basic photography composition rules.

In fact, I’d argue that it’s easier to learn about composition with a smartphone because it’s a much less overwhelming camera than a high-end DSLR.

Besides, you already have a phone, so if you’re just beginning, why drop a bunch more money on another camera before you know what you’re doing?

Just use the camera you’ve got, work on developing your creative eye and understanding basic photography rules, and when your camera becomes a liability, and you can no longer take the sort of photos you want to take with it, then upgrade to something new.

Wrong in photography over the years

If I think back on all the things I’ve done wrong in photography over the years, it’s actually sort of embarrassing.

Granted, I’ve messed up more times than I can remember, but there’s a few doozie mistakes I made along the way that have stuck with me.

I’ll spare you the stories about those problems…

Instead, I’d like to share a few things that all new photographers should learn, but that many seem not to.

By “get familiar” I don’t mean casually flipping through your camera’s owner’s manual, either!

Yes – it’s not much fun to read all the fine print, but trust me when I say that it benefits you in the long run.

In fact, I’d recommend going through the owner’s manual and marking pages with “ah-ha” moments of instruction for quick reference later on.

Then I’d watch a whole bunch of YouTube videos of people walking through various features and functions of your camera (and your lens, tripod, filters, and so forth).

Once you know what each button and dial does, put that learning into practice by shooting in manual mode and manipulating things exposure settings to see how doing so changes the look and feel of your images. For example:

  • Change the aperture to see how it changes the brightness (or darkness) of your image. Likewise, note how the changes in aperture change the depth of field in the image as well.
  • Work on finding out the minimum shutter speed you can use and still get a sharp image while handholding the camera. The shutter speed will vary from one person to the next, so you’ll need to do some experimentation to find what your minimum shutter speed is.
  • Use ISO to alter the exposure level of your images. By understanding how ISO works, you’ll be in a better position to get a well-exposed image, even if you’re shooting in dim lighting.

In other words, if you want to improve the quality of your photos and become a better photographer, that journey starts with actually understanding what your camera can do and how you can tell the camera to change what it’s doing to get a better shot.

Get a few more details on learning exposure settings in the video above by PhotoRec TV.

Starting a Successful Photography Business

Anyone can start a photography business…

But not everyone can start a successful photography business.

If you aren’t fully prepared and committed to the process, finding success as a photographer will be hard to come by.

That’s why you need to make sure you’ve laid a solid foundation upon which to build your business.

The question is, how do you do that?

Here’s a few ideas for getting started off on the right foot.

You’re not a hobbyist photographer anymore the second you start charging people for your services.

And once you do that, you need to have a sound business structure in place so you can keep track of your earnings and debts, collect taxes on your services and products, pay income taxes, and so forth.

That usually means registering your business with a government entity, perhaps in your town or city, at the county courthouse, or with a state-level agency.

The difficulty is that the requirements for registering a business vary from one area to the next, so you’ll need to do some digging regarding what you need to do in your specific location. Check the “Learn More” links at the end of this section for resources on what you might need to do.

When you register your business, you’ll likely have to do so with a business name. You might also need a tax ID number, unless you opt to use your social security number for that purpose.

It’s also a good idea to consult with professionals that can help you in this process. An attorney, for example, can handle the paperwork of establishing your business. An accountant can handle the books. Talk with an insurance agent to get your studio, office, and gear covered.

In other words, it’s a long process to get the foundation laid for your business, but the more you concentrate on these tasks, the better off you’ll be down the road!