As a beginner photographer, we don't always have a killer budget to invest in education. I found some very useful tools over the years that helped me along the way without breaking the bank. Here are 5 totally FREE options to improve your photography skills! 1) YouTube This is such a powerful one. We have access to thousands of hours of free content right at our fingertips. Everything is in there. I can't tell you how many times I looked for video tutorials and how many times I found the answers in a matter of seconds. There are … [Read more...] about Improve Your Photography Skills For $0 – $5 with these Essential Tools
I was looking at the picture from the cover of my previous article How to Step Up Your CrossFit Photography Game and I realized something really cool. This was actually one of my debut portraits in sports photography. It has been taken with my first camera: an old Nikon D5000. Even if I've taken thousands of cool pictures with better gear since then, I still really like this image two years later. That leads to something really important we should remember starting out photography: the gear doesn't make the photographer. Buy what you can … [Read more...] about Why Your “Lightweight” Gear Works for Heavy Weight Pictures
Photographer Zack Arias, recently released a new ebook entitled, Get to Work. You might've heard Zack and Marco talking about it on the podcast (a great interview by itself). As a photographer knee deep in business development, I thought I’d check it out. While I’ve been operating as a full-time photographer the last couple years, I’ve recently relocated my business to a new state. So the great thing is that I get a fresh start, but the tough part is that I have to start from scratch. Having read some of Zack’s previous books, I knew this one … [Read more...] about eBook Review: Get to Work – Dedpxl Business Primer
The Moment It Clicks is not a new book, but I just read it again for the third time and realized that some of you may not have read it yet. And we need to fix that. This book is ideal for photographers of all skill levels. It teaches the beginner, inspires the amateur and reminisces with the seasoned pro. Every turn of the page is filled with a large photograph from McNally's career and is accompanied by a story and tips for making that kind of picture happen. You won't find too many camera settings, but you will find principles that will … [Read more...] about Book Review: The Moment It Clicks, by Joe McNally (Must Read)
Luminar, by Macphun, is a photo finishing tool for Mac computers, and I'm really impressed. It's simple and intuitive to use. I think if you're a new photographer that this is probably the best photo software for you. As a new photographer, it's important to remember that software doesn't make your pictures better, it can only put the finishing touches on them. Practicing composition and mastering all your camera's controls and their effects will make your pictures better, and then Luminar will help you refine your pictures so they convey the … [Read more...] about Got A New Camera? Get Luminar Pluto, Too
Like black and white, HDR photography is a terrific tool. It can both save the day technically and also allow us to be creative in unique ways. But how do you know when you might need to use HDR to make you photograph look it's best? The Name Says It All HDR stands for High Dynamic Range and in photography, that means there's a big difference between the proper exposure in the dark areas and in the highlight areas. An example of a scene with low dynamic range would be a picture of a pen sitting on my desk. The light shining on my desk from … [Read more...] about HDR 101: How Do You Know When To Use HDR?
If youre like me, you got a new camera and dove in, shooting like a madman and making all kinds of pictures of all kinds of things. After a few gazillion pictures, I was starting to figure out a few things about my camera and how it worked. I remember that my world really changed when I learned how to use control the autofocus. I stopped having soft focus pictures and pictures with the background sharp and started getting the tack-sharp focus I saw in others work. Focus is one of our most creative tools in photography. Its the power to draw … [Read more...] about Got a New Camera? Take Control of Autofocus
Drones are really a lot of fun once you safely learn to fly them. Here are a few important tips to help you get up and flying. I didn't list them in any particular order, so be sure to read through all of them before you get started. Know how to shut your drone off quickly! As youre learning to fly your drone, things can sometimes get out of control. The best thing to do is land the drone and shut it off. Practice just turning it on and off, without lifting it from the ground. Find a large, open area outside for your first flight. Its going … [Read more...] about 10 Tips for New Drone Flyers
1. There is no magic camera that makes you a great photographer - no more than there is a magic set of golf clubs that will make you a pro golfer or piano brand that will make you a great muscician. 2. Well-known travel photographer David duChemin says Gear is good - vision is better. How do you develop vision? Look at lots of published photos. 3. Study the craft and the art of photography before you spend a lot of money on gear. During your study you will come upon your own photo truth and this is necessary before making a big investment in … [Read more...] about 10 Things Beginning Photographers Should Know
When using backlighting in an image, the first thing to decide on the light source. For beauty portraits, I prefer to use natural light, as it has a soft and lovely look to it, but this can easily be accomplished with studio lighting. In this tutorial, images are taken using a very large window diffused by sheer white curtains. The curtains I used for this window are simple netted curtains from IKEA named LILL and are just $4.99 a set. There are 3 sets on the curtain rod and a pair of VIVIAN curtains that can be purchased for $9.99. I have … [Read more...] about Using V-Flats with Backlit Portraits
When it comes to portraits, the slightest change in posing can dramatically change the feel and look of the overall image. It is normal for people to sit with their heads further back, which does not make for an engaging portrait. One of the most simple shifts in your subject's head position can change everything. After the subject's body is positioned, direct them to push their chin forward, and slightly down. Be sure not to direct them to tilt too far down, unless you would like them to look up through their lashes, which creates a bit more … [Read more...] about Portrait Posing Tip: Forward and Down
Recently, I was cleaning out the dreaded "room of stuff" in my house when I came across piles and piles of old portfolio pieces from school. It was a fascinating trip down memory lane. There were things I'd forgotten about; paintings, etchings, prints, and yes, even photographs. As I sifted through all of it I started getting sentimental and then, between two binders of old negatives, was an 11x14 print I had completely forgotten but instantly remembered. It was (now looking back) my very first wedding image! I remembered the day well. I was … [Read more...] about My First Wedding (And I Didn’t Even Know It!)
Filters of all sorts, flashes, cards, readers, light-meters, remote triggers, straps, battery chargers, batteries, business cards, business card holders, lens bags, cases, cords, levels, tripods, lens cloths, blah, blah, blah. Do you need it all and does it have to be the best of the best? YES, GO BUY IT ALL RIGHT NOW-- but only if you've got a limitless income! Well, most of us can't go out and buy a car full of photography equipment, so I'd recommend that you start off slow and figure out what you need and want to use first. I always felt … [Read more...] about Building Your Bag: Accessories | Part 2 – Functionality
While we were at the Las Vegas Photoshop World, Photofocus hosted a focus group breakfast. Our mission, ask our loyal subscribers what topics they want us to write about and give us honest feedback on how we are doing. Several people commented, "We want more controversial articles that make us think, don't be afraid to hold back." So, here is an article that I'm sure is going to offend a few people, well only those that are not holding their camera correctly! Last week I photographed a swim meet for Aran, talented 13 year old multi-sport … [Read more...] about For God’s Sake, Hold Your Camera Correctly!
So there's maybe more bungles that people would make if they didn't know any better or were just starting off. I figured that there could be some extra help in identifying some of the more recent blunders that have been popping up more often in communities that I'm associated with. Before you read this, make sure that you've read Beware of these 5 Beginners Blunders in Post Processing Portraits. It'll help you put all of this into good light. It really isn't a big super deal if you do any of these. If you find yourself doing something that's on … [Read more...] about Beware of these 5 MORE Beginner’s Blunders in Post Processing Portraits
If you want to get serious about shooting calculated photoshoots, get yourself off Auto White Balancing! The camera usually does a great job at analyzing the lighting scenario and chooses a suitable color temperature when it is set to AWB. The problem is that setting it to auto lets the camera adjust the white balance ever so slightly for every single image, reducing consistency if you're sending out a batch of pictures from one specific location. Varying factors, such as color of clothing or reflected sunlight, are the prime suspects for the … [Read more...] about Want Better Photos? Turn OFF Auto White Balance (AWB)!
When you are first learning Photoshop, layer masks can seem overwhelming and confusing. It's ok, photoshop itself can be overwhelming and confusing. I promise, once you understand the basics of Layer Masks, you'll be glad to utilize this skill in your post processing workflow. In fact, you will find that using layer masks is one of the most essential parts of Photoshop. What is a Layer Mask? Mask might be a deceiving term. Think of Transparency instead. If you think of it as Layer Transparency, that often will make a difference in understanding … [Read more...] about Working with Layer Masks
Ive been frequently asked to help take pictures (with a cell phone) simply because Im a photographer and therefore MUST make better pictures than those coming from an average joe. Probably not always true, but I feel that there are some elements to know that could help everyone take better pictures even with a phone. As a disclaimer, I shall say that this is NOT A RECIPE. When I shoot for myself, I shoot out of love. I choose and design my images based off feeling what is evoked when I come across an image and how it jumps out to me … [Read more...] about 5 Design Elements for Better Pictures!
As you read this, think back to when you were beginning photography Im sure youd be able to relate to this to yourself (or your friend) and hopefully laugh (and not cry). Alright, so this list may not be super accurate and is in no particular order, but, I think it is safe to say that every beginning photographer has experimented with at least four out of the five blunders. I know I did, and believe me, I have had to work through these as I grew and became more experienced in photography. The goal with portraiture is to make that person look … [Read more...] about Beware of these 5 Beginner’s Blunders in Post Processing Portraits
Having an off day? Questioning whether or not your photography "measures up"? Worried you may never be "good enough"? Take a few minutes to watch this video featuring producer/writer/actor Ira Glass (This American Life) discussing self-doubt, one of the real challenges of the creative life, and how to overcome it. Then, go do the work. https://vimeo.com/85040589 … [Read more...] about Do The Work, Defeat Doubt
This is just a series of random tips for people who are new to portraiture. Like everything in photography, you could find a perfect example that is just the opposite but these have been very good to me over the years. I hope they help those of you who are just starting out. 1. When you want to make a portrait, try to schedule enough time to get to know your subject. Provide them with a clothing checklist. Long sleeved turtle necks or crew necked sweaters are very flattering. Solid colors are better than patterned clothing. Women should wear … [Read more...] about Beginner’s Portrait Photography Tips
Typically, I tell beginners to put the sun at their backs. This means they stand the best chance of even illumination of their subjects. But sometimes, it's fun to experiment. If you want a dramatic feel to your images, reverse my earlier directions and stand facing the sun - with your subject between the camera and the sun. This is called backlighting. You can use a flash, or a hot light or any light source but the outcome will be the same. The backlit subject will appear to pop out of the photo. Backlighting can be used to achieve all sorts … [Read more...] about Photography Basics – Using Backlighting
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This photo was made years ago at near Julia Pfeiffer State Park at Big Sur. I wanted to make the waterfall and the waves look like cotton candy. In order to do this, I used my ancient Canon 40D's lowest ISO (100) and then "stopped down" or closed down (using the smallest aperture/largest f-stop) to f/32. This automatically allowed me to use the slowest shutter speed possible. In this case, two and one half (2 1/2) seconds. The camera was mounted on a tripod because it would be impossible to hand hold a shot that long without getting motion … [Read more...] about Photography For Beginners – Use Slow Shutter Speed to Convey Motion
Its okay to be new. Everyone is new at one time or another. If youre new, there are some things that those of us who are not want you to know. These aren't the only things you need to know. This list could be 1000 times longer. But you have to start somewhere so here are just a few things to consider. 1. A great camera will NOT make a great photograph unless its operated by a great photographer. 2. Beginners are absolutely capable of making great photographs if they have passion. 3. Read your camera manual - several times. The answers to … [Read more...] about 10 of the Things Beginners Should Know About Photography
In Aperture, EDGE SHARPEN gives photographers significantly more control than was available using the standard SHARPEN adjustment. With Edge Sharpen, only the edges are impacted. This is important because there are times when sharpening an entire image just isn't required. Who needs a sharp sky? The main value of Edge Sharpen is that if applied properly, you can sharpen without creating noise. LUMINANCE One of my favorite things about this adjustment is that it works only on luminance, not in the RGB space. Long ago Id learned the trick of … [Read more...] about A Basic Primer On Aperture Edge Sharpening