Thursday, July 28, 2016

10 Mistakes To Avoid That Will Instantly Make You A Better Photographer

Mistake 1. Combining Light & Shadow

A good example of the mistake of combining light and shadow into photographs can be seen when family photos are taken outdoors. They might be in a really nice location, but the one orchestrating the photograph fails to appreciate how the light from the sun, as it filters its way through tree branches and foliage, is going to impact on the resulting image.

An example of bad lighting is where you've got your subject in "some some, some shade" and it just ends up being a really, really bad place to take a photograph of someone. And this is what happens with typical family orchestrated portraits, taken outdoors.

The ideal to aim for is something more neutral, such as taking your subject (i.e. family members) and placing it/them all in shade, and then adding light with your external flash - the key is to start with the right location (such as in the shade), so that you don't have any shadows falling on your subject and creating a really strong and visually off-putting combination of bits of shadow and bits of light.

Mistake 2. Wrong Location
This tends to happen when the elected photographer (again, typically a family member) is too shy to get their subjects to move to a location that will help result in a more appealing photograph. They'll tend to make-do with any old location, if their subjects are suddenly all together. What then happens is they'll end up with something in the background that totally ruins what could be a really nice photograph - such as random cars that aren't out of focus enough to truly stop them from being a visual distraction. Or, there are rubbish bins, or just something that detracts from the overall appeal of the resulting photograph. And, most of the time, all the photographer had to do was move their subjects (e.g. family) to a spot only a few meters away, or turn them to a slightly different angle, and they would have had either a clutter-free background, or at least one that would have blended nicely behind the main subjects, without being an eye-sore or unwanted distraction.

Mistake 3. Focus In The Wrong Place
Many a time, people have managed to compose a really nice photograph, but the elements you'd want to see clearly just aren't in focus. You have to be aware that the eyes of those viewing the photos are going to go to whatever happens to be sharp and bright.

Examples are flowers, where the head of the flower is blurred and out of focus, but the leaves (nice as they are, but which most likely aren't the main feature to show off) are the parts that are in focus. So, the focus was good on the leaves, but as it was the head of the flower that was meant to be the main subject, the focus was clearly in the wrong place.

When it comes to taking portraits (of a person, pet, whatever), it's not uncommon to see that the photographer has managed to get something either in the foreground or the background in sharp focus, but then they've made a total hash of the face and eyes of the subject, which is frustratingly blurred. When viewing the photos, you want to see the detail of the person and don't want to be impeded by the facial details being blurred and out of focus - this is often what ruins an otherwise nice portrait photo.

When taking a portrait, ALWAYS make sure you have tac-sharp focus on the person's eyes. If you've positioned the person at a slight angle to you, using center-point focus, lock it in on the closest eye to you. The key to good portrait photos is to get the eyes in crystal clear focus (UNLESS you're aiming for something creative and artistic, that is!

Mistake 4. Wrong Aperture
Using a wide aperture (low f-number), to create a shallower depth of field, enables you to use selective focus to determine what is in focus and what will be blurred and out of focus. This approach helps you to dictate what those viewing your photos will look at.

For example, if you're photographing a pilot standing in front of his or her plane, you want the pilot in focus and not the plane, because you want to draw the viewer's attention to the pilot - the one who flies the plane - and, in this case, not so much the plane. If it were the plane you were wanting to draw the eye to, you probably wouldn't have the pilot in foreground of the shot... he/she may be in the plane, but it's going to be more obvious that the plane is the main subject of the photo, as you photograph the plane in its environment (such as about to taxi onto the runway); the background would be secondary to the plane, so you'd allow the background to become out of focus.

Of course, if you purposefully wanted to capture both the pilot AND the plane in clear focus, with the pilot standing in front of the plane, then you'd shoot with a narrower aperture, such as f11 or all the way down to f22, depending on how far the pilot was standing in front of the plane.

Learn to use your DSLR in Aperture Priority mode, to learn how to take photos with a low aperture number (f-numbers such as f4, f2.8, f2, f1.4, etc.), as these will allow you to explore selective focus, to get away from the "point-and-shoot look", where everything is in clear focus.

Mistake 5. Bad Composition
Landscape photography is a good example where the average photographer tends to come away with poorly composed photographs. The problem usually stems from them not knowing what their subject actually is. If you were out at Niagara Falls, it'd be fairly obvious that your subject will be the stunning waterfall, and so that is what you would want as the star attraction in your frame. However, problems can arise when there are multiple candidates for being the main subject - is it the autumnal colors of the leaves? Is it the flowing stream as winds its way down into the valley beyond? Is it the valley? If you know what your subject is, it will help you to craft a better photo.

You can sometimes get interesting photos by angling your camera. This is using a technique known as "Dutch angle", "Dutch tilt", "canted angle", "oblique angle", or "German angle" photography, to produce a point of view that's pretty much like what you see when you tilt your head to one side. It is a technique that can be used to add a dramatic effect to an otherwise ordinary subject matter.

Another cause of bad composition is not getting down to the level of your subject to take the photo. Photographers can get a bit lazy and shoot everything from the height that THEY stands, regardless of the height of the subject they're photographing. If photographing, say, kids or animals, you'll often be rewarded with better images, if you make an effort to get down to their level - even going as far to lay on the ground, if you have to, in order to get the shot, so you can portray in the photo what it's like to be at THEIR level. If you can get LOW, below your subject and shoot UPWARDS, it has the effect of making your subject look much bigger, and/or more powerful.

Another composition mistake is trying to shoot every subject from head-to-toe. This is typical of portrait photos. Images can be more interesting if you get in close, either physically closer or with a zoom lens, to photograph your subject(s), say, from the waist, upwards.

Always centering subjects in photos is a habit that can create routinely poor photos. If you don't center subjects in the frame, you get to take your viewer on a journey through your photograph, which can help make your images a little more compelling. For instance, you photograph a monument... instead of placing that monument in the center of the frame, step back enough so that it can be positioned to either side (where you think it looks better), and then use leading lines (such as the shape of the land, or a fence, or a road, or path), to lead your viewer's eye from the far side of the image, up to the monument (or whatever your subject is), where they may spend a little while taking in the details of that subject, before their eyes naturally travel back along the leading line, to where they started - at which point, they'll either be done looking, or they may take another visual walk through your photo, if it's compelling enough to them.

Mistake 6. Don't Shoot Tight Enough
If you take a photo of someone, for example, and you show the person from head-to-toe, plus a lot of what's in the background and surrounding that person, then the photograph tends to be about the environment that your subject is in - it could be the person is wearing a football kit and is on the pitch, with the goal posts in the background. If, instead, you focused in really tight, so that you fill the frame with your footballer, as much as possible (from the waste up, for instance), then the resulting photograph will now be more about the person, than where they are.

It's not that you shouldn't shoot in one way versus the other (head-to-toe versus up tight), but consider shooting both types, in order to give you more options - once you get the photos printed or onto your computer, with a bit of reflection, you might find you prefer one style over the other. But, if you only shot one way, such as always trying to get everything in the frame, from head-to-toe, then you're missing out on achieving a totally different feel or look to your images.

It doesn't matter what the subject is... if it's a car, for example, take one photograph showing the entire car, which will include some of the surrounding environment, and then get in really close and tight, and photograph an appealing section of the car in isolation - it could be just one side, or a diagonal shot either taken from the front nose section looking toward the back, or from the interesting back end of the car, looking forward.

Mistake 7. The Wrong Use Of Flash

First of all, a flash unit at full power can be really harsh, which can result in the loss of interesting features and details of your subjects. So, if using flash, turn down the power, such as to -1 stop. You'll know when you've used too much flash, because people will be commenting on the fact you used flash to take the picture. It should be used to enhance the subject(s) in the photo, not to become the main feature or talking point of the image.

You should also take time to learn how to use your camera during the day, as much as at night. If you're taking photographs outside on a bright sunny day, flash can help to get rid of some of the harsh shadows that may be present in the background or shining onto your subject(s).

If photographing someone outside, in the sun, and you find a small pocket of shade, you might end up with the sun shining down on them and, while you may get the sun adding a nice portion of hair light to the top of their head, the rest of your subject may be lost in a silhouette. By adding a subtle amount of flash, you can capitalize on the hair light coming from the sun, and kiss just enough light with your flash, to illuminate your subject from the front, to take them out of the dark silhouette. The result will be a nicer portrait, overall.

It can be very effective, when outside on a sunny day, to position your subject so the sun is coming from behind, and then you use your flash to help illuminate them from the front. With the sun shining down from the side, it can tend to add really dark shadows, particularly around the eyes, giving your subject a kind of "raccoon look". This is something you can avoid, with the use of a flash, and simply positioning them so that they are between you and the sun, with the sun directly behind them.

Another problem with photographing people looking into the sun, is they all invariably end up squinting into the camera, which is never a flattering look to have in a photo.

Mistake 8. Not Aware Of The Shutter Speed

Photographs that have captured, say, a sportsman in midair as they're about to touch down and score a try in rugby; where they're frozen, with no image blurring, will have been shot with a fast shutter speed. Conversely, when you see a bit of motion blur in the photo, such as the movement of the arms and legs of a marathon runner, then these will typically have been taken with a slower shutter speed - the shutter stays open fractionally longer, giving enough time for the camera's sensor to record the movement of the limbs at various different points as the athlete moves along.

It all depends on the speed of the subject, as to how fast or slow your shutter speed needs to be, in order to capture either some movement in your photo, or to ensure that there's no motion blur and the subject is completely frozen in that moment. A person jogging along might allow you to capture motion blur at 1/40th or 1/50th of a second, as you pan with them. But, a motorbike or race car may require 1/100th of a second or so, in order to get a similar result.

Mistake 9. Trying To Shoot At Night Without A Tripod

If you know you're going to be photographing at night, take a tripod along, as you will most likely be needing to use slower shutter speeds. You don't want to discover a fantastic photographic opportunity, only to be prevented from capturing that moment because you didn't have a tripod - and because you couldn't hand-hold the camera, as the outcome would have been photo-ruining blurring, due to having to hold the camera during the slow shutter speeds.

There are some places you go where they don't allow tripods, in which case you will need to make the best use of whatever stable platform is available - this could be a ledge or a wall, or, if you're forward thinking, you might be able to arrange a mini tripod in a backpack, which pokes out just enough to let the camera appear like it's just sitting very well behaved atop your bag... But, in general, if you can use a tripod, it's often the best choice. Camera bean bags are another option - you just have to scrunch your camera down into them, to get it level, but that can solve a problem of not being allowed to take a tripod somewhere, and yet still manage to get your camera onto a level base, to take your shot.

Mistake 10. Standing By Walls & Bushes
If people know they're going to have their photos taken, they inevitably find a wall or a bush and reverse themselves right up to it and then wait there until you take their picture.

If you're using flash, or outdoors in bright sunlight, and you let them remain in front of the bush or wall, this will most likely result in them having a harsh shadow around them. The bush or wall can also merge with your subjects and you may not get sufficient separation between subject and these background objects, resulting in a rather cluttered portrait.

What tends to happen, when people have their photo taken up against a wall or a bush is that people viewing the photos will get somewhat distracted, as they may find their minds are caught between looking at the people and looking at that bush or wall. By all means, if the bush is attractive, you can have it in the background, but just bring them far enough away from it so that you can use a wide aperture (small f-stop number), combined with a longer focal length, to have the bush nicely defocused in the background, while letting your subjects take the starring role, as should be the case.
Graham Wadden created and maintains the Creative Commons photography website,, specializing in creating Royalty Free Stock Photography primarily for home educators and those in education.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Rain Photography - Learn the Best Ways to Compose Your Pictures

"What if it rains?" This is a question that every professional and amateur photographer will hear eventually. We're living in a golden age of photographic technology with photography possible under all kinds of circumstances and situations.

Rain can be subtle or it can be dramatic, but for photographers it gives a unique photographic opportunity that most people don't understand until they see it in an image. Rain can seem like a scary proposition, but with a little preparation one can handle even the craziest of storms capturing amazing images. Let's explore how.

Have a Raincoat for Your Camera

There are several options of protective camera gear. The real problem is whether you have it at the right time. It is always advisable to carry protective gear in your bag that is flexible and doesn't take up too much space in your camera backpack so that you can have it every day.


A common co-incident with umbrellas is that "If you have them, you won't need them! But if you leave them, you'll wish you had them." Umbrellas keep your subjects dry and happy,as well as add some fun to your compositions. Most photographers don't have a set of attractive umbrellas on hands, so it's worthy to invest in a few decent and colorful umbrellas for rainy day photography. If you are planning to buy some, then go for brightly colored umbrellas with fun patterns which can add a touch of color to a dull day.

Plastic Bags

Even if it stops raining, you still have to be prepared. The ground will be wet and can affect your posing. Plastic bags can keep your subjects dry and also keep you dry if you want to lay down for a unique perspective.


Do you know raindrops can be accentuated quite noticeably with different light sources that may come into play? Find light sources which can be a streetlight at night or the sun breaking through the clouds, and shoot toward it. And remember, the umbrella that you carry can serve as a serviceable lens shade.

Go For Rainy Emotions

People react to rain with a gamut of emotions, from the astounding joy of children to sullen anxiety of rain-drenched commuters. Take pictures of those emotions and make great rain pictures.

Remember that wonderful clicks can be taken in the rain. Rain gives you the chance to break routine and get some creative shots.

The author of this article is a part time blogger and a full time photography enthusiast. He also works in as a dealer of camera equipment and accessories. To know more, visit

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Photography in the New Era

The Digital Camera was once a modern means of taking photographs. And you could use a USB cable to upload them to your PC/laptop. But now in the new era, there is a cooler way to photograph oneself. You have probably guessed it. Read on to find out what I talk about.

Remembering to take the digital camera whenever you are going to a party, get-together, function or a picnic seemed like a hassle to me. With so much to think about and prepare for these occasions, the camera was the first thing that used to slip off my mind and in vain, all those beautiful and memorable moments could not be captured by me. Nevertheless some of these could be retrieved from somebody else's camera.

But now in the modern age, you no longer need to carry a camera with you. Your cell phone has everything you need. Taking a selfie with your cell phone is very much popular nowadays. I find it convenient too because it is something I will never forget to take along with my accessories but even if I do, that will only happen in rare cases. It is a part of my everyday essential belongings whenever and wherever I go.

Also before going out to a wedding or birthday party, I am well dressed. So I take the opportunity of taking a selfie with my best looks and upload them to my laptop using a USB cable, which is also possible with these cell phones, and I resize, crop and edit them in any way I like on my laptop and use these photos anywhere I need to post online.

Since everything is digital and online, gone are those days when you really need hardcopy photos. A selfie is a lot better, easier and convenient to handle. I simply love to take selfies. I don't grab everything with the flow of the new era but taking selfies is something I really enjoy and cannot remain separate from it - ha, ha.

But of course, the cell phones not only allow you to take selfies but also capture others' photos in their environments, and nature environments too which are equally fun and entertaining because you can also put various effects on them and make the pictures even more stunning and save and savor these in a good and secure place, only to look back at them in complete awe from years beyond.

Rosina S Khan has authored this article, talking about modern photography in the new era and how taking selfies with cell phones has become so much popular, gradually replacing the digital camera.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Don't Regret Not Hiring A Professional Photographer

One of the challenges of being a "wedding photographer", rather than someone who just "takes photos at weddings" is showing the meaning within a photograph - and using that image to tell a story. It takes more than just a great camera to take a great photograph.

Of course, technology is amazing these days. It's almost impossible to buy a phone without a camera on it. And those cameras have more mega pixels than some of the first digital cameras! The high-end digital camera market is incredible. The dynamic range, features and build quality of professional cameras is truly amazing - it's important to remember that. As a professional photographer it's very easy to forget how amazing technology is. You can get cameras now, that you choose the focus point after the photograph is taken - that blows my mind. It's even more important to remember that without vision and understanding, these images would just be pixels. Boring pixels... Just because we can, doesn't mean we should.

Fashion magazine Vogue, published an article January 2016 saying that hiring a professional photographer to photograph your wedding "made sense back in the olden days, pre-Facebook albums and Instagram". They also went on to say that you could "scatter some disposable cameras around the party and let your drunken guests go to town". If you have friends anything like mine, I'm sure you'd know that this is not good advice.

In Vogue's defence, the article was about breaking traditions and throwing out the rule book - which I'm all for. Of course every wedding is different, but it's when a couple really put their personality into a wedding that it becomes so much more than different. It becomes, personal and that's so much more interesting... Anyway, I'm getting side tracked.

One of the main reasons to hire a professional for anything is consistency. And a professional photographer is no different. They're able to deliver beautiful images, in all conditions and deliver those images consistently. That doesn't mean getting a few lucky shots while the couple are stood still, in good lighting. It means delivering over 400 photographs that all demonstrate an understanding of lighting and composition. It also means being able to produce those high quality images, day in day out, year on year.

The example I like to use is I've probably been using scissors since I was 5 or 6, but you wouldn't trust me to cut your hair. As I said before, just because we can, doesn't mean we should.

One of the other main reasons to hire a professional is trust. Trust plays a huge role in a wedding photographers job role. You need to trust your photographer completely. Otherwise you won't be able to relax, which will only make the photographers job even harder. So, making sure you trust them to get the photographs you want from your day is essential.

When I'm talking to couples about their wedding, I always explain how I photograph a wedding. I explain that I have a documentary approach - that means that I'll be photographing their day with the goal of telling their story. If they're looking for something different, then we part on good terms and they find a photographer who they can trust to get the photos that they want.

Weddings are hard work, I'm generally working for a good 13 hours - not including travel time. However I've never left a wedding without a smile on my face and a warm fuzzy feeling inside! But it took me years and years to feel confident enough in my ability to photograph such an important day. If you think about it, it only takes a split second to miss the perfect photograph. When you add in the fact that the couple have probably spent thousands and thousands of pounds on this day that they're only ever going to have once (well hopefully anyway). Then add in the emotional significance of the day and that's a lot of weight on any photographer's shoulders, let alone a professional.

But the pressure doesn't stop there. What happens if something goes wrong? I could write a whole article about what could go wrong at a wedding (and maybe I will) but for now, let's just say that not only will a professional photographer be able to cope with most unexpected situations, but they'll have already removed as many of the risks as possible.

There's a saying I like to use to justify buying something better and more expensive than I really need to my wife... "Buy cheap, buy twice." And it's great advice if you're buying something like a freezer or a desk. Not so much for a once-in-a-lifetime event. A poll in New York Magazine stated that "21% of brides wished they had spent more on their wedding photography". That's 1 in 5! One in five! I know weddings are expensive, I'm married, so I really do know that weddings are expensive. But the photography will outlast your flowers, cake, bubbles and just about everything else from you wedding. It's the photography that will form your lasting memories of your wedding, so if you skimp on your wedding photographer you may end up regretting it every time you see your photographs. Which will probably mean you hide them away and therefore have wasted your money - wedding photographs should be celebrated!

You and your partner will likely spend a huge amount of time planning your wedding. There are no small decisions - every detail matters. My wife and I pretty much spent a year planning our wedding. Everywhere we went we'd be taking photos for inspiration, cutting out ideas from magazines. When you pour so much of yourself into something why wouldn't you choose a professional photographer. Ignoring the sentiment and meaning of the day, surely you want to show off all your hard work? And want it to look as beautiful as possible?

By choosing a specialist wedding photographer you're choosing someone who will carefully compose each photograph, as your florist carefully selects each stem. Someone who pays attention to the details of each just as your dressmaker pays attention to each stitch.

Wedding photography shouldn't be another cost or purchase. Wedding photography is an investment. I know that sounds a bit pretentious, but stay with me for a minute... An investment is something that becomes more valuable with time - that's exactly what will happen to your wedding photos. It's a sad fact of life that memories fade. But by investing in a professional wedding photographer you can help to preserve those memories, and not only that you will be able to share those memories with your loved ones. People who were at your wedding like your partner, your parents and best friends and people who weren't, like your children can all share those memories with you and that's really special.

That's why you should invest in a professional wedding photographer. That's why wedding photography is so valuable.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Seven Classifications of Commercial Photography

Amidst a vast plethora of fields in which photography is utilized these days, commercial camera work is one category that is used exclusively for the business purpose. It is essentially used for the promotion of brand, individual or product in order to enhance the sale of the product or the services. You can find them in the advertisements in the magazines, newspapers as well as brochures. Brand awareness is the major task that is accomplished by this category. The photographers in this field strive to understand the essence of the products and convey it accordingly to the target audience with the help of comprehensible images.

Below are mentioned the various types in which this category can be classified.


Aerial - This type involves clicking from a higher elevation using high end devices. They are mostly taken from balloons, helicopters, aircraft as well as parachutes. They use variety of concepts like focal length, frame numbers, fiducial marks, stereographic coverage and index maps etc. for the accomplishment of the purpose.

Advertising - This is mainly used for promoting brands or services though the magazine, newspapers, leaflets, etc. They can also be seen on billboards, television ads, websites and digital ads. They are fundamentally sales were driven and e usually accomplished by the design firms and advertising agencies.

Automobile - As the name suggests this type of photography is mainly put to use by the automobile dealerships and the car companies at the time of launching a new car, or making the customers aware of the existing features as well as the brand new add-ons if any.

Architecture and Interiors - This is used for capturing the buildings, structures as well as the interiors of the restaurants or any housing. A number of features like the proper techniques of lighting and the shooting tips are used by the shutterbugs to bring forth the beauty of the space. These are predominantly used in the real estate business and the restaurants to attract and turn the potential customers to buyers.

Sports - This one involves taking the snaps of the all the important happenings of the sports world. These are used for covering sports news or player-related news or cover the important events related to sports.

Jewelry - This is necessary for every jewelry business. For attracting the customers, the photographers see to it that every intricate and subtle design is highlighted in every piece of jewelry like that of the earrings, bracelets, rings, etc.

The above are only some of the varieties of commercial photography and there are many more. The significance of these is utterly enormous in today's economic world for brand building and promotion.

The author Dylan Flint owns a company that deals with the commercial photography in Brisbane. This company has made a name for itself in the world of business for fine art photography in Brisbane too.