blue and orange blossom

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blue and orange blossom

The warm season is here, and there is no end to the number of beautiful flowers out there ready to be photographed. And what’s more wonderful is that they will keep blooming all summer and well into the fall. If you’re fortunate enough to live in a warmer climate, you could be photographing flowers outdoors well into the winter months–possibly year-round. Whether it’s a single bud, a single flower, a bouquet, a plant, a bush, or a blossoming tree, flowers are wonderful subjects to photograph. They’re not temperamental, they generally stay where you put them (or where they grow), they’re a great subject to experiment with, and they come in an array of vibrant colors.

Equipment

As with any task, being prepared is important. Gather your camera and accessories and choose the right camera bag for the equipment and the outing. If you plan on going to one location, such as an arboretum or perhaps a rose garden, take along your tripod, lenses, filters, and any other accessories you may need to spend the day making beautiful images. If your camera calls for them, make sure you have back-up batteries and extra memory cards, as well.

tulip close up macro shot

Tripod

The tripod really is an essential tool when photographing flowers. As you get closer to a subject, the slightest movement of the camera will greatly affect the outcome of the picture. It’s virtually impossible to hold the camera still enough to take a quality picture without the benefit of a tripod. It will be money well spent. There are small tripods compact enough to fit nicely in the right camera bag.

white flower in synchronicity

Focal Point

As with any photography, you need a focal point. A lush, pink rose bud just beginning to open on a graceful thorned stem. Or, maybe you’ve spotted a cheerful plant of daisies with bright yellow centers, but the focal point is the little red ladybug resting on one of the delicate white petals. Look carefully–there’s a lot to see.

Lighting

Lighting can be tricky, at times, depending upon where you’re shooting. It’s almost always preferable to head out with your camera bag in hand in the early morning to shoot your floral, for a number of reasons. The dew is still on the flowers, so you can get some very effective macro shots of droplet covered blossoms. The sun is not yet high in the sky, so your lighting will be more ideal, casting fewer harsh shadows. If you must shoot in midday, pack a diffuser in your camera bag to soften the harsh effects of the glaring sun.

blue and yellow iris after rain

Perspective

Give careful consideration to your point of view. Shooting across the top of a field of yellow daffodils results in a breathtaking picture. Or, laying on the ground and taking a picture from beneath a cherry blossom tree in full bloom results in a picture of a lacy, pink cloud. Look outside the box. Pictures of beautiful bouquets and single stems are still the classics and should never be ignored, but try new, creative pictures. In addition to taking traditional still lives, try taking a shot of a single bloom close up with just a portion of it in the picture.

For more inspiration, you are also welcome to check out my Flower Fine Art Print Collection.

Experiment. Have fun with it. Remember, flowers are excellent subjects. All you need is a quality camera bag with the right equipment, some leisure time, and the right season.

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It’s easy to learn how to capture the moons craters and detail with your digital camera. In fact once you get a handle on why you must use these wonderful photographic methods, taking pictures of the moon will be pretty easy from now on.

lunar_eclipse_2014

A cloudless night

The first thing to try for, naturally, is a clear night a night without clouds. Clouds can smear and smudge an otherwise sharp photo of the moons craters. A lovely, clear night provides the ideal circumstances to take photos of the moon. If there are clouds that butt in, then use that. Try a photo of a soft cloud streaking gently in front of the surface of the moon. This really does lay the foundation for superb images. So let’s have a look at precisely what you will want for your moon shots.

How close?

Lets examine what focal length works best. If you want to take pictures of the moon close up, use a four inch telescope. You can screw your digital camera on a mount and then the telescope effectively results in being your lens. It utilises the lens and you can get close images quite straightforwardly. Of course your camera will need to have the ability to interchange it’s lenses.

If you don’t own a telescope then you can use a telephoto lens. A telephoto photographic lens is a lens that is very long. You may have seen them before. It is used for wildlife photography and portraiture, like wedding photography for example. A good range of focal length might be something like 200mm to 400mm. These telephoto lenses are very expensive but get the loveliest shots.

What about the light of the moon?

Numerous people capture the moon the equivalent way as they would a dark night time city scene. If you do this too, you may experience a big ball of bright light against a black night sky, without detail. That may be okay if you are photographing the moon over a pond for example, but if you like to take photos of the craters, then this is basically not the way to shoot it.

waxing moon

The moon is very, very bright, especially when it’s full. I suggest choosing settings that are used for brighter, daylight conditions. I know this sounds funny, so bear with me.

When I shoot the moon I put my settings at anything from 180th of a second to 60th of a second. If you are not sure which shutter speed is better to use then try few shots on a different selection of shutter speeds to get the best one.

Setting up

You will want a tripod when you take photos of the moon. This is since the moon is so far away, any movement of the digital camera and you may find you chance missing the gorgeous craters. Position your camera on a tripod, and if you have one, use a shutter remote cable to be in command of the shutter speed. We use these because we do not want to accidentally move the camera by pressing the shutter button down. And that’s right, even movement as light as a finger can put your entire photo out of focus.

Keep that camera still!

It’s essential to keep the camera fixed and immobile so you get everything in focus. I use manual focus so I can get the craters as sharp as I can. I occasionally find that auto focus can either have difficulties getting the correct focus or sometimes can’t focus in the least. It can be tie consuming and frustrating. Try moving the focus ring until you come across a position whereby the moons craters look razor-sharp.

Lighting sensitivity

ISO is a quality of your digital camera that controls how responsive the camera is to lighting. If you are photographing the moon as the major theme against a black sky, then you will not want a very high ISO.

 

If you are shooting the moon as an addition to your shot, then this becomes a different matter altogether. The closer you get to the moon, the less ISO you require.

What about the camera’s aperture?

Since the moon is in the far distance I suggest shooting with a tiny aperture. In other words make use of a large f-stop number. I usually fancy F22 for the sharpest I images I can get. It’s better to get as much sharpness into the deepness of your scene as you possibly can. If you can go higher than F22, then by all means try it out. Just remember that the small your aperture the longer the shutter speed you will need.

moon_valley

Image quality

Shoot at the very maximum quality you can. I always select RAW for all my photos and shooting the moon is no exception. If you want excellent quality pictures then opt for the highest quality setting you can go. Even if you are not able to shoot in RAW, pick the largest Jpeg size possible. This might be displayed as Jpeg “L”.

Sharpening and Tweaking

Once you have taken your moon photograph, you may have to sharpen it a bit. Not for the reason that your photo will come out blurry, but remember, it is over three hundred thousand kilometres away. A little increase in the sharpening will help enhance some of detail in the craters. Try improving the darks and lights a little too by using your contrast tool in Photoshop or your favourite editing program. That naturally helps to give the surface more of a three dimensional look and detail, rather than having a large flat white surface. Increasing contrast, clarity and sharpness makes the moons craters look deeper and more interesting.

Moon photography is so much fun and takes a precise type of photographic applications. Just apply some of these principles and methods that I use and you will pleasantly surprised at the lovely photos you get all the time.

 

 

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tables

The point and shoot generation creates a problem when attempting to shoot great images. If you tend to point and shoot without much thought, you are already at a disadvantage when trying to take a great photo. Finding the nearest viewpoint and pushing the shutter button will hardly ever result in a great image. The point and shoot principle is the enemy of good images. When shooting an image you have to consider viewpoint as a key to a great composition. So, how can your viewpoint improve your image? Here’s how.

 

  1. Do your homework

You need to know what to expect when going to a new location to take photos. Do a little research and ascertain what there is available in order to create your perfect shot. Knowledge is power, and if you want to create powerful images, do the homework. Know what to expect and where the elements will fit in the final image.

  1. Use your feet

Once you know what there is and you’ve planned the basic shoot, use your feet. Try variations and move around the location with your camera to your eye and see if there are any other viewpoints that will improve the image. See if there is perhaps another part of the location that will elevate you, take you down a level, or just give a variation of your initial idea.

  1. Look for unusual angles

This can be from lying down on your back to climbing a tree or nearby staircase. Shooting from low down or high up gives a completely different perspective compared to a front and center shot. Trial and error are two great learning companions for any photographer, so use them. Another angle you can try is tilting the camera. This works well with good angle changes. A slight change makes the photo look like the photographer was a little tipsy, so make sure the viewer will know that the angle is part of the composition.

 

Manhatten_Bridge
  1. Fill the frame

You can have the perfect location, a great viewpoint, and a unique angle, but if the subject is too far away the image can look a little average, so get in closer. Fill the frame with more of your subject. Always ask the question whether the composition is tight enough. If it isn’t, move your feet or change the lens. Exclude unnecessary elements or clutter to get the best out of the composition.

 

  1. Take a chance

It’s often only the adventurous who take chances. It’s not about risks but rather compositional chances such as shooting without looking through your viewfinder. Swing your camera around by the strap with the timer on. Hold it high above your head or down at your ankles. Remember to shoot a lot as many of these images won’t look good, but on the odd chance of something looking great, you should take the chance.

Eilean_Donan_Castle

Viewpoint is vitally important to any photo so always be very aware of your position in relation to the subject or object of interest. And, don’t forget safety. Watch where you walk and how high you get. Don’t compromise your safety for that perfect image.

Happy shooting!

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Burning_Sky

Sunsets and sunrises are inspirational subjects for any photographer. In fact, a good sunset photo is often the reason people become interested in nature photography. You don’t need to have a great camera or professional training; almost anyone with a camera can take great sunset photos.

The great news is that good sunset photos are surprisingly easy to take.

 

It is not hard to expose a sunset photo; in many cases you can leave your camera on auto and it will do the work for you. The trouble people have is in making an interesting composition. It is not good enough just to photograph a good sky. The real challenge lies in turning a spectacular sky into a compelling photograph.

 

Here are my five tips for taking great sunset (and sunrise) photos.

 

#1: Prediction

Learn to predict a good sunset before it happens. Have you ever seen a perfect sky, only to realize you didn’t have your camera handy? In the five minutes it takes to get your camera and set up for the photo, the moment has passed. As brilliant as a sunset can be, the effect may last for only a few minutes, so you need to be able to choose your location, set up your camera, and be waiting for the show to start.

Fireball

#2: Patience

Be patient to get the best colors. The few minutes as the sun is crossing the horizon can be spectacular, but that’s not the whole story of a sunset. As the sinking sun lights the clouds from below, often the richest colors appear up to half an hour later. By this time it will be getting quite dark, so be prepared with your tripod. You may be shooting exposures of half a second or more to bring out the best in your sunset photograph.

 

#3: Foreground

Find a good foreground subject. This may be the most important tip of all. We have all seen and photographed spectacular skies, so that alone is not enough to create your work of art. Try to identify some object that stands well above the horizon (trees, windmills, buildings, power-lines) and has a shape that will create a good silhouette. It doesn’t have to fill up your picture. In fact, it may only take up a small area–that will only make the sky seem even more impressive. The important thing is to give your picture a focal point, so that your viewer has something more interesting to look at than just a great sky.

Colors_of_a_new_Day

Think back to tip #1. To get a great photo you need to be prepared in advance, so scout your location for a good foreground well before the razzle-dazzle gets underway.

 

#4: Color

Fill your photo with color. You have probably heard of the rule of thirds in landscape photography. In simple terms, this rule suggests your horizon should be a third of the way from the top, or from the bottom, of your photo to create a balanced composition. The trouble is, when you are photographing into the sunset, everything in the foreground will be in silhouette. This means if you follow the rule of thirds, a big part of your composition will be totally black. This is one situation where you can ignore the rule of thirds. By allowing your sky to dominate the composition, you fill your picture with color and draw even more attention to the richness of the sunset.

 

#5: Water

If you’re near water, use it to enhance the effect. People often see a sunset at the beach or by a river and stand a long way back to get their shot. This approach fails to take advantage of the reflections on the water, so instead of a rich foreground there will be too much empty black space.

Get right down to the water’s edge or to the wet sand on the beach. By capturing the reflections, your foreground will echo the colour of the sky. Not only will your photo be more colourful, but you will start to spot opportunities for much more interesting compositions.

So there you have my simple tips on sunset photography. Notice that I have concentrated on creativity, not technology. As I said at the beginning, exposing a good sunset photo is not difficult; the challenge is to make your photo stand out from the rest. Like all good nature photography, your sensitivity to nature is far more important than technical expertise. Allow nature to inspire you, think creatively, and great results are sure to follow.

 

Happy Shooting!

 

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canale grande in venice with gondolas in front.

It is often believed that good photos are ones with beautiful colors. However, there are other forms of photography such as black and white, monochromatic, infrared etc. There is much more than simple shining colors in pictures. Photography is the recording of light regardless of color and outcome. Black and white has been popular since the early days where cameras would only take these images and were unable to interpret colors.

Black and white photography can be a hard task because your subject is the most important in these photos. With practice you can get the hang of understanding the lighting, the subject and how you want to compose your final image. It is more like a mind-play where you have to imagine your subject in black and white before you shoot the photograph. Below I will explain some common techniques to help you become better at interpreting the situation for a great shot.

You need to understand the incidence and the direction of the light. Pay close attention to how the light hits the subject and reflects off the details, the ups and downs and the curvature in the subject’s surface. Below are some basic considerations for black and white photography.

Rising Moon at Monument Valley

 

Viewpoint

The most important consideration is the viewpoint. Before you even touch your camera you want to know what is it that you want to photograph and how you want to present it. You also want to give a little thought on the angles you might want to shoot from.

Amount of Light

You want to make sure that you have enough light to capture the details. Remember that we don’t have colors to distinguish and make details. We have to let the light do the trick. A beautiful blue sky will look gray in a black and white photo.

Source of Light

An understanding of the source of light is important because different sources have to be shot differently and with different settings. Ask yourself where the light is coming from. Is it coming from a primary light source such as the sun or an artificial flash? Is the light coming from a reflected source such as off a wall or a reflector?

Quality of Light

First think of the types of shadows and contrast you want. Direct light produces sharp dark shadows. Diffused or indirect light produces softer tones. For dark shadows and high contrast difference between light and dark use direct light. On the other hand, for tones of gray and softer looks use a diffused light.

Direction of Light

Decide on the type of depth, dimensions and details you want in your photo. Side lights give larger dimensions. Direct light hitting from front points out texture and depth. Lights from the rear help in reducing details. Place the lights according to your desire.

Shape

Since you don’t have colors you need to decide how you want to portray the shape. Shape is depicted by blocks of light and dark areas in the photo.

Tone

You build your tone through your photography. For example dark tones use harsh shadows to portray a sad or empty mood. However, light and smooth textures convey open and free feelings.

Texture

Texture in the subject’s surface can define the realism in the photo while smooth or blurred out details produce mythic or ideal images.

Lines

Lines can be used to draw attention to a certain point in a photo. They provide a focus of attention. Lines are also used to convey movement and tension.

Order

Just like music photography can be about rhythm. Repeated lines and shapes produce patterns and give a rhythmic sense to the image.