Pico Caster Media https://drouda.com News Gets You Through The Night Mon, 30 Apr 2018 13:24:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.3 A Step-By-Step Process for Improving Your Photos https://drouda.com/a-step-by-step-process-for-improving-your-photos/ Mon, 12 Feb 2018 13:20:17 +0000 https://drouda.com/?p=545 We’re all looking for ways to improve our photos, regardless of whether we just started in photography or have been at it for years.

And the great thing about photography today is that there are tons of things you can do that will help you improve the quality of your photos.

You can read tutorials, watch YouTube videos, and get gear that will facilitate better photo-taking.

In this article, I’d like to focus on a few steps you can take to ensure your photos are the highest possible quality and review some gear that will help you achieve that goal.

Stabilize Your Camera for Sharper Photos

Blurriness in photos is one of the most common problems that photographers experience, especially beginner photographers.

Yet despite being so common, it is a problem that’s easily addressed with a good tripod.

A tripod can solve the blurriness issue because no matter how sturdy of hand you think you are, there will still be minute movements as you take the photo.

But by putting your camera on a tripod, you eliminate the possibility of camera shake and ensure that the photos you take are nice and sharp.

Don’t have a tripod? Get a high-quality tripod from Sirui. Two of their most popular models – the ET-2004 Kit and the W-1004 (both shown above) – offer tons of features that make them easy to setup and use (including some models that have a built-in monopod). Sirui’s tripods are also well-priced, so you can get a great tripod without busting your budget.

Work Hands-Free

Blurry photos are such a common problem that there’s another step you should take to protect against them.

That step is to work hands-free and use a camera remote.

A camera remote allows you to trigger the shutter without actually touching your camera.

The benefit of that, is, of course, that you don’t inadvertently cause your camera to move or vibrate. That means sharper photos.

Of course, not all camera remotes are alike.

The best camera remote on the market is the Alpine Labs Spark.

This thing gives you much more power over your camera than simply triggering the shutter for sharper photos.

In fact, not only can you control your camera in three different ways – as a wired remote, an infrared remote, and via an app on your phone – but you can also take still photos, long exposures, real-time videos, and time-lapse videos as well.

Perhaps best of all, Spark comes in a tiny package that sits on top of your camera, so you don’t have to lug around a big, heavy apparatus to reap all the benefits of sharper (and more creative) photos.

Combined with a good tripod, a camera remote will help you get your photos beautifully sharp and fine-tuned for maximum visual impact.

Upgrade Your Lens Game

One of the best gear upgrades you can make to get higher-quality shots is in the lens department.

The kit lenses that come packaged with many cameras are just fine for learning the ropes, but they aren’t the highest-quality glass (which is why they’re bundled with cameras).

These lenses often have plastic bodies, fewer lens elements, and lower-quality glass, which means photos that are less sharp with poorer color fidelity than higher-end glass.

What’s more, more expensive camera lenses have less aberrations, ghosting, and flare, all of which can reduce the quality of your photos.

If you’re upgrading your lens for the first time, a great choice is a 50mm lens, which is often called a “Nifty Fifty.”

These lenses are great because they are extremely versatile and can be used for anything from portraits to landscapes to architecture and just about anything in between.

They often have a very large aperture as well, so you can shoot in low-light conditions and get improved results without having to resort to using a flash or a very high ISO.

Nifty Fifties are often inexpensive, too, so you can get a great lens for your kit and not have to spend a ton of money!

Get outfitted with a higher-end lens and save money at the same time by buying a pre-owned lens. The ideal marketplace to do so is Lensfinder, which gives photographers like you and me a platform for buying (and selling) used lenses. The process is quick and easy, with tons of protections to ensure it’s a smooth transaction.

Use Filters to Add Drama

Perhaps one of the simplest steps you can take to create more eye-catching photos is to use filters.

Some photographers these days shirk the use of filters in favor of using programs like Photoshop or Lightroom to add effects in post-processing.

But if you ask me, the impact of using a good filter simply cannot be replicated when you edit the photo.

For example, if you’re shooting landscapes, a polarizing filter can do a number of things to bring out the drama in the shot.

That includes boosting the contrast of the sky, such that the blue is deeper and the white of the clouds is brighter for more pop.

Polarizing filters also reduce the glare of the sun off the surface of water and other non-metallic objects, which means viewers get to see the color of the water (and even into the water) and not be distracted by a sharp glare.

Polarizers reduce atmospheric haze as well, so viewers can see the landscape in clear, crisp beauty.

If you’re shooting portraits, you can use a neutral density filter to create an ethereal look in which there’s blurred movement in the shot.

That might be blurring water, as is the case in the image above, or it could be blurring clouds, passing cars, or even people.

You can also pair an ND filter with your flash to get improved results, or use an ND filter when shooting outside to get improved dynamic range in your photos.

Of course, ND filters are also ideal for creating landscapes with beautifully blurred motion, too.

]]>
Things You can do Right Now to Immediately Improve Your Photography https://drouda.com/things-you-can-do-right-now-to-immediately-improve-your-photography/ Mon, 12 Feb 2018 13:10:39 +0000 https://drouda.com/?p=533 If you want to take better photos (who doesn’t?), this article is for you…

Becoming a better photographer doesn’t have to be difficult, confusing, or time-consuming. You just need to know where to focus your attention to get better.

And get better you will if you follow these easy steps!

Learn to Use Your Camera

Today’s cameras are more advanced than ever, which means you need to be more diligent than ever in learning how to actually use yours.

It’s easy to sit back and let full auto mode do all the work for you, but that won’t make you a better photographer.

Take control over how your images look by learning to shoot in manual mode.

Being responsible for the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO is a bit daunting at first, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll never go back. Get a quick how-to on using manual mode in the video below by Moose Winans:

If you’re not ready to make the leap into shooting in manual mode, take baby steps by advancing from full auto to something like aperture priority or shutter priority modes.

In aperture priority mode, you get to decide the aperture and the camera decides a corresponding shutter speed. It’s ideal for taking portraits and landscapes.

In shutter priority mode, you choose the shutter speed and the camera chooses the aperture. This is ideal for action shots of the kids, the dog, wildlife, and so forth.

You can also shoot in program mode, which allows you to set the ISO, and the camera will adjust the aperture and shutter speed accordingly.

However, program mode gives you veto power, so you can actually change the aperture and shutter speed if so desired.

The point is that even though our cameras are highly advanced, they still can’t match your ability to see the scene with your own eyes and fine-tune the camera settings as you see fit.

If better photos is what you want, get out of full auto today!

Focus on Telling a Story With Your Images

Here’s the complicated thing about photography…

On the one hand, it requires technical expertise (see the previous section). On the other, it requires artistic ability as well.

What you need to do to take better photos is to learn how to balance the technicalities of photography with the artistic elements.

In other words, it’s important to learn how to control your camera, but if you get bogged down in the technical details, you might end up ignoring the artistic elements of the shot.

Really make your photos stand out and tell a beautiful story by turning them into fine art.

And believe me, if you ignore things like composition and framing, if you don’t have a strong subject, if your image doesn’t tell a story, it’s going to fall flat just as badly as if it’s not exposed properly.

That’s why shooting in aperture priority, shutter priority or program mode can be so beneficial.

On the one hand, you can begin to master those technical elements of exposure, but at the same time, you aren’t overwhelmed with having to control everything, that way you still have the ability to work on the artistic elements of your photos that draw people in and tell them a story about the scene.

At the end of the day, a photo that’s not technically perfect but that tells a compelling story is preferable to a technically perfect shot that has no emotion, feeling or interest.

It’s You, Not the Gear

I’ve seen a lot of photographers over the years dump thousands and thousands of dollars into new cameras, lenses, and other gear, mistakenly doing so because they thought that new, fancy gear would make them a better photographer.

New gear is nice to have, but the real difference maker in the quality of your photos is you, your knowledge about photography, and your skills in using the gear that you have to take high-quality photos.

Think of it like this – a skilled photographer can take incredible photos with nothing more than a smartphone. By the same token, an unskilled photographer can have a Nikon D850 and take really terrible photos. See how a skilled photographers can use inexpensive gear to create awesome photos in the video below by Mango Street:

So, before you go out and buy the most expensive camera you can find, work to understand how to compose a photo, how to draw people’s attention to your work, and how to lead their eye from one point in the photo to the next.

Learn how to work with different types of light – and even more importantly, what you can do to work around poor lighting conditions like harsh, midday sun or what to do in dim lighting situations.

Combined with learning how to use the gear you have and focusing on telling stories with your photos, this is a recipe for becoming a much-improved photographer in the weeks and months to come.

]]>
Create Photography Magic With These GoPro Photography Tips https://drouda.com/create-photography-magic-with-these-gopro-photography-tips/ Mon, 12 Feb 2018 13:04:35 +0000 https://drouda.com/?p=483 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.

Think About Composition

I know it’s hard to consider how your images and videos will look when your camera is strapped to your chest or mounted on top of your helmet.

But if you mount your GoPro to a tripod, you can use it like any other camera to capture well-composed images of everything from your kid playing soccer to the sunset over the field behind your house.

Just bear the traditional rules of composition in mind when creating your shots:

  • Use the rule of thirds to create a balanced composition that shifts your primary subject to the left or right of center.
  • Pay attention to the horizon line, ensuring that it’s absolutely level.
  • Use leading lines to draw viewers into the shot and create an image with improved depth and dimension.
  • Look for good lighting that adds drama to the shot. Sidelighting is great for adding depth to landscapes; backlighting is nice for Golden Hour portraits.
  • Pay attention to the background of the shot. GoPro’s have a wide angle of view, so you’ll need to work a little harder to eliminate clutter.
  • Frame the shot such that the primary subject is strong in the frame. You want the subject to grab the viewer’s attention.

Additionally, work to find interesting perspectives and points of view to take your shots.

That might mean setting your GoPro on the ground for a worm’s eye view or hooking it up to your drone for a bird’s eye view.

The point is that the more effort you put into the manner in which your GoPro photos are composed, the better they will turn out.

Stabilize Your GoPro

Just like any camera, your GoPro will take better photos if it’s stabilized.

The great thing about GoPros is that they can be mounted just about anywhere, as I noted earlier.

Granted, you’ll get sharper images if your GoPro is mounted to a tripod than if it’s on your bike handlebars, but the point is still the same – the more secure and stable the GoPro is, the better the results will be.

You don’t need anything big, expensive, or fancy, either.

Since GoPros are so lightweight, a small tabletop tripod like the Sirui 3T-35K shown above will do the trick.

If you want to create smooth videos, get a fluid pan head for the tripod as well.

For the adventurous types, you can get improved image and video quality if you add a gimbal to your GoPro.

Essentially, a gimbal acts as a counterbalance to any movement that causes the camera to shake, whether that’s bouncing around on a sailboat or simply having shaky hands.

Wrapping It Up

As I’ve outlined above, getting better images and videos with your GoPro is really a lot like getting better images and videos with your regular camera.

Get outfitted with the appropriate filters, focus on composition, and find a way to stabilize your GoPro, and you’ll find that the results you get are vastly improved.

]]>
7 Reasons Why a 50 mm Lens is All You Need for Great Photography https://drouda.com/7-reasons-why-a-50-mm-lens-is-all-you-need-for-great-photography/ Mon, 12 Feb 2018 12:58:03 +0000 https://drouda.com/?p=525 Of all the lenses you can have in your bag, a 50mm or “Nifty Fifty” is probably the most useful.

Why? Well, as Jordan Matter from Shutterbug Mag explains in the video below, there’s plenty of reasons to have a 50 mm lens.

Have a look at what Jordan has to say, and for a few more details on some of his favorite reasons for having a 50mm lens, check out the article below.

No matter if you’re looking for a 50 mm f/1.4, a 50 mm f/2, or a completely different focal length, buying used lenses will help you save some money and stretch your budget. For the best deals on used lenses of all sizes and types, check out Lensfinder.

With a 50 mm Lens, You Need Less Gear

One of the reasons why I love shooting with my smartphone is that I don’t have to carry around a ton of heavy gear.

Well, if you have a 50mm lens for your DSLR or mirrorless camera, you don’t need a ton of gear, either.

That’s because the Nifty Fifty is such a versatile lens that you can shoot all day long with it.

Take portraits. Photograph landscapes. Head into the city for some street photography. Heck, you can even reverse mount a 50 mm lens to create a macro lens. It’s that versatile!

A 50 mm Lens Can Achieve a Shallow Depth of Field

Because many 50 mm lenses have large maximum apertures, they can create gorgeously shallow depth of field. That’s advantageous for a lot of types of photography, but particularly for portraiture.

By opening up the aperture and minimizing the depth of field, you can get a nice, sharp subject in front of a beautifully blurry background.

Not only does that help you set the subject apart in the shot, but it can also help you minimize any distractions in the background of the image as well.

Another point that Jordan makes in the video above is that the Nifty Fifty allows you to vary the blurriness of the background.

So, in a close-up shot, the background can be maximally blurred for effect. But you can also take a few steps back from the portrait subject and compose an environmental portrait with a background that’s more visible, but still gives that blurry effect for separating the subject.

Again, you can see how the Nifty Fifty is so versatile!

Do you have too many lenses cluttering your camera bag? If so, you can sell your old lenses on Lensfinder! It’s easy to list your lenses for sale, and with built-in communications, rating tools, and fraud protections, it’s a safe marketplace for selling your gear, too. Find out more about Lensfinder.

50 mm Lenses are Great for Stopping Action

As noted earlier, 50mm lenses typically have very large apertures, like f/1.2, f/1.4, and f/1.8.

That’s not only advantageous for minimizing the depth of field, but it’s also advantageous for maximizing the shutter speed.

Why?

Well, the more light that the lens can collect, the faster the shutter speed you can use.

So, with a 50mm lens, you’re getting tons of light, which allows you to bump up the shutter speed.

With that faster shutter speed, you can freeze movement in your shots whether that’s your kids running around in the backyard or waves crashing on the beach.

That opens up plenty of opportunities for getting creative shots in which your subject appears to be frozen in time without any blurred movement.

In other words, a 50 mm lens can challenge you to create new things unlike any other lens can.

And when it comes down to it, improving your craft, getting more creative, and making photos that have tons of visual impact is what this is all about, right?!

]]>
Ingenious Ways to Market Your Wedding Photography Business https://drouda.com/ingenious-ways-to-market-your-wedding-photography-business/ Mon, 12 Feb 2018 12:51:17 +0000 https://drouda.com/?p=516 One of the challenges of being a self-employed photographer is getting your name, your brand, and your product out in front of the buying public.

After all, even if you’re the best photographer in the world, if you don’t know how to market yourself, your business will be doomed to fail.

But marketing your photography needn’t be a difficult or confusing task.

Below, I outline three dead-simple ways to promote your photography and get more clients into the fold.

Use Sample Albums

What better way to impress potential clients and market your brand than by showing them samples of the products you offer?

A sample album does something that your website and social media feeds can’t do – they put the actual product in the clients’ hands, giving them a real-life, tactile experience of what you can do for them as their photographer.

And I don’t just mean that you should have product samples to show your clients at the consultation.

Instead, I mean have a few sample albums made to share with different vendors that also work in the wedding industry.

Leave one with local churches and other wedding venues. Ask the local baker and florist if you can leave a sample album there as well.

By leaving examples of your product line with colleagues around town, you have a surefire way to market your photography and a pretty easy way to get referrals, too.

Of course, to have the maximum impact, the sample albums you provide can’t be those cheap, flimsy ones you can get online for a few bucks.

Instead, if you partner with a company like nPhoto that has a long-standing reputation for handcrafting gorgeous photo albums, you’ll have sample albums that have tons of visual impact and compel clients to contract you for your services.

And the great thing about nPhoto photo albums is that there is so much variety.

There’s virtually endless combinations of album sizes, cover materials, types of paper, and layouts.

You can get a photo album on its own, a photo album with a matching album box, or even a complete album set that includes a photo album, a matching album box, and a matching USB drive.

With options to have rounded album corners, laser etching on the cover, layflat pages, and much more, nPhoto offers your clients the height of customization for preserving their memories of their big day.

They say that first impressions are everything, and by putting a sample Photo album in front of potential clients, you’ll certainly make a strong first impression!

Define Your Client Base

Posting things to social media and putting ads in the local newspaper is fine and all – that will certainly get your name and face out amongst the public.

But there’s a difference between simply spreading the word about who you are and what you do and getting that marketing to convert would-be clients into paying customers.

To do that, you need to define your client base.

By defining your client base, you can tailor your marketing message to that specific group of people.

What’s more, you can create content that that group of people will find helpful, relevant, and valuable. And the more content you create that actually helps your ideal clients solve a problem or learn something new, the more likely they will be to consider you an authority on the matter and hire you when the time comes.

As a wedding photographer, that might mean posting blogs about tips for planning your wedding, pitfalls to avoid when hiring a photographer, and other topics related to weddings.

You might post YouTube videos that detail the consultation phase of working with a client, and offer a behind-the-scenes look at your wedding day workflow.

Even sharing stories about past clients and how much you enjoyed working with them will be helpful in creating content that resonates with potential clients.

Play the Long Game

Very few of your clients will come to you after being engaged for awhile.

In fact, many couples will start looking for a wedding photographer much earlier on in their engagement, if not before the engagement even occurs. At the very least, some people will look at wedding photos just to get an idea of what they can expect.

That being the case, you can’t just focus your marketing on heavy-hitting “Sale Sale Sale” type of interactions with potential clients.

Instead, you need to work a long game, and create low-impact interactions with potential clients that gets you multiple “touches” with them over a period of time.

For example, a short-game marketing strategy for a wedding photographer might be an all-out social media blitz to promote a sale, like offering 20 percent off your photo album packages.

And while that type of marketing is necessary at times, to bring people into the fold over the long-term, they need to see your work over and over and over again.

That’s where low-impact content really works.

By sharing examples of your photos on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media sites, you have a way to market your business without sounding like you’re marketing it.

Instead, your photos speak for themselves, show up in people’s feeds, and begin to plant the seed that you’re a wedding photographer in their area.

That means that over time, you can build relationships with people that might not even need your services for years to come. That’s why the long game works so well!

]]>
How to Set Up and Shoot a 360-Degree Photo https://drouda.com/how-to-set-up-and-shoot-a-360-degree-photo/ Mon, 12 Feb 2018 12:42:04 +0000 https://drouda.com/?p=508 If you’re looking for a new and exciting way to take photos, shooting in 360-format should do the trick.

And though it sounds like something that should be incredibly complicated, if you have the right tools, it’s actually a lot easier than you might think.

In the video above, the folks at Syrp give a step-by-step tutorial on creating breathtaking 360-degree photos.

For a written tutorial, check out the article below!

Step 1: Find a Great Shoot Location

Just like with any other photo, you need a good location to take it.

But the location matters even more in this case since the final image will show everything.

As you can see in the video, the guys find a spot on top of a mountain that offers a virtually 360-degree view of the surroundings.

Step 2: The Gear

Gear-wise, you don’t need anything spectacular.

The usual bits – camera, lens, and tripod – are things you most likely already have.

The kind of lens that’s ideal, though, is an ultra-wide. In the video, the Syrp guys use an 8-15mm lens opened up to 8 mm.

The thing you might not yet have is a Syrp Genie Mini, shown above.

The Genie Mini is a motion control device that enables you to take the 360-degree photo.

It attaches to your tripod, and your camera attaches to the Genie Mini in turn.

Using the companion app, you can direct the Genie Mini to turn 360-degrees to take the needed images for the final 360-degree shot (more on that in a bit).

But the Genie Mini is much more than a fancy way to turn your camera around for a 360-degree photo.

You can use it and its companion smartphone app to create time-lapse videos and real-time videos, as well as panoramic photos.

Its smooth panning motion helps you create professional-looking results with options to ramp the movement of your time-lapses for ease-in and ease-out effects, shoot in HDR, and with a second Genie Mini, you can get both pan and tilt control for even more dramatic movements in your videos.

And if you aren’t much of a videographer, don’t worry! The Genie Mini app is loaded with factory presets for time-lapse videos, so you can create a gorgeous time-lapse with just a few presses on your phone’s screen.

In other words, there’s really no easier way to create time-lapse videos, real-time videos, and 360-degree photos than with a Syrp Genie Mini!

]]>
Pro Tips for Taking Better Portraits https://drouda.com/pro-tips-for-taking-better-portraits/ Mon, 12 Feb 2018 12:26:02 +0000 https://drouda.com/?p=474 You might be surprised how easy it is to take more professional-looking portraits.

Armed with the right gear, camera settings, and composition tricks, you can turn your so-so portraits into something more spectacular.

With that in mind, here’s a short list of tips from the pros of things you can do to improve the quality of your portraits.

Make the Model Comfortable

Whether you’re photographing your brother or a model that does it for a living, you need to build rapport with the person you’re photographing.

The more invested you are in the model as a person and the more you get to know them, the more comfortable they will be in front of the camera.

And that comfort level will show up in the photos you take!

So, ask the model questions, crack a few lame jokes, ask how they’re feeling or if there’s anything you can do to make the experience better for them.

In other words, strive to build a relationship with the model instead of simply treating them like something to photograph.

Use a Professional Background

When taking portraits, sometimes it’s hard not to be so focused on the model that you forget about the background.

That’s a big no-no because the quality of the background can make or break the shot.

Using a professional backdrop for your portraits solves that issue. And don’t think it’s an expensive solution, either.

For starters, they’re affordably priced, so even if you’re an amateur photographer that’s dabbling in portraiture, you can get a high-quality, professional backdrop without breaking the bank.

Secondly, Click Props has a huge selection of backdrops in a variety of styles, so you can get a backdrop that suits your specific tastes and your photography style.

These backdrops are incredibly easy to set up, too.

There’s reinforced grommets every 12 inches along the top of the backdrop, so you have more than enough points from which to hang the backdrop for a clean, even look with no folds or wrinkles.

And when the photo shoot is over, simply roll the backdrop up, slide it back into its clear plastic sleeve, and store it out of the way until the next time you need it.

Click props even has different floor grounds if you need them, and their backdrops come in a variety of sizes to fit just about any sized space as well.

At the end of the day, the model is the star of your portraits, but if you put them in front of an unsightly or distracting background, it won’t matter how good the model looks – your portrait will fall flat.

If you want the complete portrait package, you need a better background, and on that front, Click Props can deliver!

Think About Shutter Speed

While the aperture you use is important because it is one factor that determines the depth of fieldfor your portraits, don’t neglect the shutter speed.

When selecting a shutter speed, you not only need to factor in its role in getting a good exposure, but also its role in getting a sharp image.

If you choose a shutter speed that’s too slow, the likelihood of getting a blurry portrait is increased.

So, you need to take measures to prevent that.

When choosing a shutter speed, use the focal length of your lens as a guideline.

So, if you’re shooting with an 85mm lens, the shutter speed needs to be 1/85 seconds or more.

When using a 50mm lens, the shutter needs to be 1/50 seconds or more.

In other words, whatever the focal length of the lens is, the inverse of it is the minimum shutter speed you should use if you want a sharp photograph.

]]>
The Super Simple Portrait Photography Tips https://drouda.com/the-super-simple-portrait-photography-tips/ Mon, 12 Feb 2018 12:14:29 +0000 https://drouda.com/?p=446 Taking better portraits doesn’t have to be complicated.

In fact, with a few simple portrait photography tips, you can improve the quality of the portraits you take almost immediately!

All you need to do is a little planning, work on the wardrobe, and help the model relax in front of the camera.

Let’s explore each of these tips in more detail.

Scout the Location

If you’re shooting indoors, then scouting the location becomes much easier.

However, outdoor shoots are another story…

Not only do you need to consider what the weather is like and the time of day you’ll be shooting, but you also need to think about when you’ll find the best light of the day (it’s right after sunrise and right before sunset) and what the background looks like.

Sure, the background in a portrait isn’t the primary focus of the shot, but if it’s distracting in some way – say, there’s intense areas of light and shadow, then your portrait will have a problem.

Instead of the focus being on your model, viewers will be distracted by the contrast in the background. Distractions can occur because of colors that are too intense, textures or patterns that are too bold, and backgrounds that are ugly don’t help, either.

So, when scouting a location outdoors, find a place that ticks all the boxes.

You want a background that’s beautiful, yet not distracting and that offers you high-quality light, like the photos shown above.

Watch What They Wear

Much like the background, the wardrobe selections for the portraits you take should support the idea that the model is the focus of the shot, not distract attention from them.

That means avoiding things like bold patterns, clothing that has recognizable labels, and ill-fitting clothing as well.

For example, in the image above, the model’s gown is an eye-catching element that helps draw attention to her.

The color offers beautiful contrast with the rest of the image, and the deeply saturated color is a nice juxtaposition with the softer tones elsewhere in the shot.

There’s another way that the wardrobe selection can help support the model as the primary subject – movement.

Contrary to the first image, in this one, the model’s gown doesn’t contrast with the colors in the shot.

Instead, there’s gorgeous movement as the gown catches the wind, adding an interesting dynamic to the photo.

In both cases, though, the wardrobe selections add interest and elegance to the portrait, which helps elevate the quality of the shot.

If you take portraits of expecting mothers, young ladies or newborns, outfit them with the highest quality clothing to get the most pleasing look. Shop maternity, young ladies, and newborn collections here.

Distract the Model for a Natural Look

It might sound counterintuitive to distract your portrait subject while you’re taking their photo, but trust me, it works.

And this doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to point off-camera and exclaim, “Look at that!”

Instead, if you can do something as simple as engaging the model in conversation, it can help them relax in front of the camera.

If small talk doesn’t work, do something silly. Tell a joke. Ask them to tell a joke. Have them think of their most embarrassing moment.

Whatever you can do to lighten the mood and get them thinking about something other than the sound of your shutter will help your portraits immensely, as you can see in the images above.

]]>
How to Take Silhouettes in 4 Easy Steps https://drouda.com/how-to-take-silhouettes-in-4-easy-steps/ Mon, 12 Feb 2018 12:13:12 +0000 https://drouda.com/?p=447 Looking at photos like the one above, it’s hard not to be impressed with their beauty.

There’s just something about gorgeous backlighting behind a silhouetted shape that makes for an eye-catching photo.

Of course, there’s more to creating a silhouette than just aiming your camera at a bright light and slapping your subject in front of it.

In this post, we offer up an easy four-step process for getting killer silhouettes.

Step 1: Find Backlighting

Backlighting – light that enters the scene from behind the subject – is required for a silhouette.

The sun is an obvious choice, here, though you can also use natural light coming through a window or artificial lighting, too.

Once you’ve determined your light source, position the subject between you and the light.

That allows the light to fill the frame, casting your subject in shadow.

Step 2: Meter Off the Background

Of course, all that great backlighting won’t make a difference if you get your meter reading off your subject…

That means to get a nice silhouette, you need to be sure your subject is dark. You do that by metering off of the strong light in the background of the shot.

In most cases, this will likely require that you experiment with your camera’s metering modes.

For example, if your camera is in center-weighted average mode and your subject is in the middle of the frame, the chances are that the camera will expose for the subject and not the background.

Instead, you might use spot metering mode, select an AF point that falls on the bright background, and use that point to meter the shot.

If you aren’t familiar with camera metering modes, check the link below in the learn more section.

In addition to taking control of metering, you also need to ensure that your flash is turned off.

If not, the pop-up flash will likely fire and fill in the silhouetted subject with harsh light. Needless to say, that’s not a good look.

You can do this by shooting in Manual Mode, which gives you control over all your cameras settings. If you don’t know how to use manual mode, check the video above by Tony and Chelsea Northrup.

Step 3: Ensure the Subject is Tack-Sharp

Naturally, you want your silhouetted subject to be absolutely sharp.

The difficulty with that is that the vast majority of cameras struggle to identify dark objects. The result can be a blurry subject.

To correct this issue, you can use a small aperture, say, f/11 or f/16, to extend the depth of field to ensure the subject is sharp.

If you aren’t in a situation in which you can use a smaller aperture, you can instead switch your lens from automatic to manual focus.

Doing so allows you to rely on your eye to detect sharpness and make adjustments as needed with the lens’s focus ring.

Whichever method you choose, having your camera mounted on a tripod and using a camera remote to fire the shutter will further serve to help you get a nice, sharp image.

Step 4: It’s All About Angles and Shapes

One of the key factors that determines the success or failure of a silhouette is the angle from which you photograph the subject.

That’s because depending on your angle of view, the shape of the silhouette will change.

For example, when creating a silhouetted portrait, an upward angle of view allows you to highlight more of the subject’s body against the bright background, as you can see above.

Conversely, if you take a shooting position that’s higher relative to the subject, less of them will be visible against the bright background, and the image will have diminished impact.

What’s more, when photographing people as silhouettes, be sure it’s a profile shot, so you can see the outline of the person’s nose, lips, and chin.

Again, this makes for more interesting shapes and lines in the image that will capture the viewer’s attention.

The same goes for silhouetting objects.

Whether it’s a ramp at a skate park, a grove of trees, your dog, or something in between, look for ways to highlight angles, curves, and lines to get a more interesting silhouette.

Final Thoughts

Silhouettes are one of the most interesting and eye-catching types of photos, if you ask me.

I love the contrast of darkness and light, and the opportunity for highlighting interesting shapes and forms is pretty cool as well.

Though there are plenty of other factors involved in getting a high-quality photo, the steps I’ve outlined above will get you on the path to creating impactful silhouettes regardless of the subject.

Do a bit of experimentation with the light sources you use and the subjects you feature as well, that way you can get a feel for what works and what doesn’t.

Also get familiar with camera settings for exposure and metering, if you haven’t already done so.

Doing these few things will enable you to get creative and make some pretty compelling silhouettes!

]]>
6 Tips for Landscape Composition https://drouda.com/6-tips-for-landscape-composition/ Mon, 12 Feb 2018 12:07:50 +0000 https://drouda.com/?p=418 When you get down to it, composition is really an abstract concept.

Sure, it’s arranging things inside the little box created by your camera, but how you go about doing that isn’t necessarily rules-based.

For example, you might find that using the rule of thirds for one landscape photo works great, but that breaking the rule of thirds for another gets you the best photo.

 

First Things First: Understand How Your Camera Sees Things

When we stand before a landscape, our eyes automatically adjust and edit the scene.

That is, they help make sense and order out of the chaos by helping us focus our attention on the most important features and eliminating those that don’t require our attention.

However, our cameras cannot do that. They capture every single detail which, left uncomposed, has the potential to overwhelm viewers as they look at the photo.

So, composing better landscape photos requires you to simply understand that your camera needs help to create order and balance in the shot. Here’s how to do that.

Use Leading Lines

It’s not good enough to simply point your camera at something pretty…

In the image above, you can see that pointing the camera at an interesting rock formation doesn’t result in a very good photo. There’s no depth or interest in the image.

However, in looking at this shot, you can see how adding something as simple as leading lines helps create a much better photograph.

Instead of there being massive areas of the photo that provide nothing of interest, now we have something that moves our eyes from one area of the photo to next, creating a more dynamic viewing experience.

The lines in the image above help pull our eyes deeper into the shot, from the foreground to the midground to the background, so that we experience the image as a whole.

Beware of Object Placement

Not every landscape scene you photograph is going to have obvious leading lines.

However, you can help create leading lines or other means of visual interest by working on where you place objects in the frame.

In the photo above, Andy used the placement of the barnacle-covered drum in the foreground as an alternative to leading lines.

Notice how the object is placed low in the frame, that way it grabs our attention in the foreground.

But also notice how it’s placed directly in line with the interesting rock formation in the background. That was done to help connect those two objects, which helps move our eyes deeper into the shot (just like a leading line!).

Try Isolating Objects

 

Sometimes, isolating the subject in the shot actually does the photo more good than trying to incorporate foreground elements as described in the previous tip.

In the shot above, Andy purposefully worked to eliminate details from the scene so that the mangrove tree retains our attention.

So, he moved closer to the tree to eliminate areas of the reef that protruded above the water.

He also used a long exposure to blur the water to create a smooth surface.

Combined with the perfectly flat horizon and soft light, these little tricks aided in isolating the tree for a very strong composition.

Find a Focal Point

One of the best tips for composing better landscape photos is to ensure that your image has a strong focal point that grabs the attention of viewers.

In the image above, though it’s very pretty, it lacks a strong focal point. Instead of there being an object that our eyes go to immediately, we’re left looking at all the detail in the foreground without having a way to easily explore the rest of the shot.

In this image, though, you can see how adding a strong focal point totally changes the image.

In this case, our eyes follow the leading lines created by the rocks in the foreground right to Andy, who has positioned himself perfectly in the photo to serve as the focal point of the image.

Furthermore, because he’s looking in the direction of the sun, our eyes continue past him, along his focal plane, toward the right side of the shot from which the sun’s rays emanate.

Just imagine this photo without the man in it – it wouldn’t be nearly as successful, would it?

Scan the Edges of the Frame

Something as simple as a tree branch or a shadow encroaching on the edge of the shot can reduce the overall quality of the image.

That’s why it’s so important to scan the edges of the frame before you finalize the shot.

Granted, you can maneuver around some things in post-processing by cropping the offending element out of the photo.

However, it’s good practice to get into the habit of scanning the scene before you take the shot, that way you have the best possible image (like the one above) with which to work in post-processing.

Don’t Be Afraid to Subtract Elements

When composing a compelling landscape photo, it’s important that you ask yourself if there’s anything in the shot that needn’t be there or that detracts from the look and feel of the image.

If there is, you need to subtract it from the shot.

In the photo above, the tallest tree on the left doesn’t really serve much of a purpose. In fact, it pulls our eyes over to it instead of allowing them to travel deeper into the shot towards the gorgeous mountain.

In this example, however, you can see that by moving to the right and eliminating that tree from the frame that a more powerful image results.

Granted, there’s a much better sky in this photo, too, but by taking the tree out of the equation, our eyes are freer to be pulled toward the mountain as they should.

]]>