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18 Ways to Improve your Photography in 2018

18 Ways to Improve your Photography in 2018

Counting down the New Year? Make better photos your goal for 2018 with these different tricks and exercises to help you improve your photography.

Take pictures every day. The more you photograph, the more you pick up on the small things that make a big difference.

Learn the art of flash photography. Many new photographers are afraid of flash photography — because they never like the results. Learn how to turn that flash down with manual flash mode and a diffuser for a whole new love for flash.

Try intentionally getting the exposure wrong. Once you’ve mastered how to make sure a photo isn’t too dark or too bright, use those same skills to intentionally break the rules. Try shooting dark, moody images or overexposing for a bright and airy feel.

Get bold with your composition. Center. Don’t center. Put the subject on the edges of the frame. Embrace empty space.

Look for color. Compose images based on complementary or opposite colors for a photo that pops.

Identify your weaknesses and pick up a book on the subject or take a class. Pick a topic a critique has mentioned before, or simply a topic you’re struggling with. Tackling weaknesses can make the biggest impact.

Try film. There’s something about having a limited number of shots and being unable to instantly preview the results that improves photography even when you are using digital.

Shoot in all types of light. Sure, a cloudy day makes it easy to get great photos with soft light, but it doesn’t do much for your photo skills. The more types of light you experiment, the more you’ll understand light and how to manipulate it.

Experiment with panning to blur the background of action shots.

Head out after the sun has set with a tripod and try long exposure night photography of cityscapes or even the stars.

Go someplace familiar and boring — shooting here will help you find the beauty anywhere.

Spend a week shooting only in black and white, with your camera set to black and white mode so you see every shot in black and white.

Take a break and try another creative art form, from painting to sketching, to avoid burnout and bring in new ideas from another creative discipline.

Follow the top photographers shooting in your favorite genre on social media to find new inspiration and pick up new tips.

Print your photos — photographers are often better at self critiquing when looking at a large print, rather than a computer screen.

Learn new photo editing skills. Try following a photo editing blog or YouTube channel as an affordable way to learn.

Shoot a dozen different photos of the same everyday object — this exercise forces you to look for lighting and perspectives you wouldn’t have thought of originally.

Set up a shoot for practice only. Take the pressure off and start with practice in mind — and you may be surprised at what you find.

5 Black and White Photography Tips To Master Monochrome

5 Black and White Photography Tips To Master Monochrome

Photography originated in black and white — so why does black and white sometimes feel so hard? When you see the world in color, it’s hard to make the mental transition to determine what would make a great black and white shot. Some great shots just don’t look so good when you lose the color.  So how do you master monochrome? Here are five black and white photography tips to get you started.

Use RAW.

How does each color translate into a shade of gray? If you shoot RAW, you can make that decision yourself. Working with a RAW file and a photo editor like Adobe Camera Raw or Lightroom allows you to choose just how light or dark each color becomes in the final monochrome. Shooting in RAW is actually simpler than it sounds — inside your camera menu, change the file type from JPEG to RAW, just make sure you have a photo editor compatible with RAW files (most of them are). Then, when you open the RAW file, you’ll see the option to adjust each color individually (in Lightroom, that’s in the HSL panel).

Learn to “see” in black and white.

Shooting better black and whites starts before the image is even shot, however. Knowing how each color will convert helps you decide what would make a great black and white shot as you compose the shot. That takes experience — but there is a trick for beginners to get a jump start. While shooting in RAW, switch your camera’s color profile to black and white. Since the file type is a RAW, you’ll still capture all the color data so you can do the conversion yourself for more fine-tuning (or if you change your mind and want the shot in color). But, by switching the color profile, the shots you see on the back of the LCD screen will be in black and white. Seeing the shot in monochrome right away helps you develop that eye for good black and white.

Look for contrast.

What makes a great black and white shot? Often, the answer is in contrast. While there are some lighter black and white conversions, often, a good black and white has both a true black and a true white, instead of being all shades of gray. When you are out shooting, look for scenes with a lot of contrast to help the shot stand out in black and white. Backlighting, for example, often looks great in monochrome.

Embrace filters.

Black and white film photographers use filters to adjust how each color converts. Now, that color conversion is done digitally — but that doesn’t mean filters are obsolete. Using a polarizing filter when outdoors will help add contrast to the shot. Graduated neutral density filters to darken the sky and full graduated filters for long exposures also works well with black and white shots.

Think shapes, patterns and texture.

When you convert to black and white, you are removing one of the interesting elements of an image: color. But when you remove color, other elements tend to stand out — like shapes, patterns and texture. As you are composing your black and white, look for shapes, patterns or texture to emphasize with the lack of color.

Color may be new when compared to black and white, but there’s still a few tricks to getting better black and whites. Take these black and white photography tips to master monochrome — and head out with your camera to practice.

5 Essential Tips for Photographing Groups

5 Essential Tips for Photographing Groups

The more faces you put inside a photo, the harder the shot becomes. More faces means more people to pose. More blinks. More time. And more people to please. While group photos may be tough, a good challenge can also be incredibly rewarding, especially when the result is a great family or team photo. Ready to master the group shot? Here are five essential group photography tips to get you started.

Set up in full shade.

Groups are challenging enough without tossing challenging lighting in the mix. Soft, even lighting is flattering and great for groups. Set your group up in the shade, but make sure that the shade is large enough to get everyone in completely. It’s also helpful to set up so that the background is also in the shade. If you’re comfortable with manual flash, turn on a low powered flash with a diffuser to add a bit more punch (and some catchlights).

Use a narrow aperture.

Often, it’s impossible to get everyone in a group shot the same distance from the camera. That means if you use a wide open aperture, the people in the back rows will be out of focus. When shooting groups, using a narrow aperture is essential. Use manual mode or aperture priority mode with an aperture of at least f/8.

Think angles.

How do you pose a big group? There’s a lot that goes into posing, which multiplies the more people you add to the shot. Tips for individuals — like creating angles with the arms and legs and checking for double chins — still apply. But, with large groups, it’s best to create angles with their faces, instead of shooting everyone in a straight line. For example, try posing everyone so that their faces create a triangle.

Use burst mode.

You have everything set up perfectly and everyone is smiling — but then you get back home and someone is blinking. Always take more photos than you think you need when shooting groups, so it’s easy to eliminate the blinks. A simple way to do that is to turn on your camera’s burst mode to take a few photos in quick succession.

Work quickly — then relax!

When you are shooting a group photo, you have a lot of people waiting on you, yet group photos tend to take much more time than shooting single portraits. Try to work as quickly as possible when working with groups — don’t be afraid to speak up to get everyone arranged quickly. Don’t take it too far though; people can sense when you are tense — and then they’ll be tense in the photos! Work quickly, but relax and try to throw in a few jokes to keep the mode light.

Group photos pose a big challenge for photographers — but with a few group photo tips, you can increase your changes of getting a shot where everyone looks great. Set up in the shade, keep it sharp with a narrow aperture, create angles in your posing, take multiple shots, work quickly and keep the mood light. Happy shooting!

5 Sports Photography Tips for Rookie Shooters

5 Sports Photography Tips for Rookie Shooters

The click of the camera shutter pairs well the ping off a bat, the clash of cleats and the swoosh of the net. Sports photography often produces incredible images, but the faster the action is, the tougher the shot is. So do rookie photographers have any chance at scoring a winning shot? With a few sports photography tricks, some patience and a willingness to get up off the bench, even rookie photographers can step up their game.

Anticipate the action.

Sports photography is much easier when you are familiar with the sport. Any action shots require some anticipation — where are the players moving to next? Anticipating what’s going to happen when helps you determine where to stand, where to point your camera and even what settings to use. Nothing in sports is completely predictable, but understanding the general flow of the game is helpful for increasing your odds of capturing a great shot.

Use shutter priority mode.

In sports photography, shutter speed is essential. A fast shutter speed, like 1/1000, will freeze the action, while a slow shutter speed will create blur. Most of the time, sports photography requires a fast shutter speed. Shutter priority mode will let rookies choose the shutter speed without a complete understanding of manual mode. In this mode, you only need to set the shutter speed — if you are shooting outdoors with plenty of light, use a quick 1/1000. Indoors where lighting is a bit limited, you can step that down a bit (using a high ISO is also helpful) but if you notice blur in your photos, you went too far.

Capture quickly with burst mode.

Burst mode allows you to take several photographs in quick succession. By turning this mode on, you can hold the shutter down and continue shooting until the action has stopped. Timing the exact moment a goalie gets his hands on the ball or the split second the ball hits the bat with a single shot is tough to do. By using burst mode — and anticipating the action to start shooting just before — you increase the odds of getting a shot at the peak of the action.

Leave room for the action.

Where is the player in your photograph headed? Hopefully not right off of the frame. When composing the shot, leave some empty space in the frame in the direction that the player is headed in. This helps complete the feeling of motion in the image.

Always consider the story.

Photographs tell a story — and so do sports photographs. What does your shot say about the game? Can viewers easily tell what’s going on by looking at your photograph? In sports with balls like football and baseball, that means including the ball in the shot to help tell that story and show what was happening at that moment. While there are some exceptions to every photography rule, including the ball is a good move for rookie photographers. In sports without a ball, look for ways to show what’s happening at that moment — instead of shooting just one runner, for example, photograph a runner passing another.

Sports photography takes practice — just like sports — but snapping great action photographs isn’t out of the question with a few basic concepts like anticipation and using burst mode.

5 Underwater Photography Tips To Make Your Next Dive Go Swimmingly

5 Underwater Photography Tips To Make Your Next Dive Go Swimmingly

Heading underwater is the closest thing to exploring another world without leaving Earth— and the plant life, sea creatures and coral make bringing a camera long on that underwater exploration a must. But adding water to a photograph multiples the challenge — underwater photography isn’t a simple point-and-shoot kind of experience — or at least not great underwater photography isn’t anyways. Whether you are using a casual waterproof camera or a DSLR with underwater housing, here are five underwater photography tips to dive deeper into the world of photography beneath the waves.

Get Close.

When there’s nothing but air between you and the subject, getting clear colors is relatively simple, but with water between your subject and the camera, clarity drops dramatically the further you are from the subject. Now, we don’t recommend swimming up to a Great White, but for friendly fish and coral, getting closer will reveal more accurate colors and details.

Explore different angles.

When you’re swimming, you have many more heights to choose from than simply standing or kneeling. If you’re diving (sorry, snorkelers) explore those angles. Look critically at what’s in your frame and how close you are to the sea floor. Shooting up adds a nice blue space to the top of the frame, but if there’s lots of coral directly below, you may want to shoot to include the beautiful underwater structures in your background.

BYOL – Bring Your Own Light.

Underwater photography is tricky because the farther down you dive, the further you are from the sun — and any light source. While snorkeling may not require an additional light, deeper dives will benefit from bringing a light along — some cameras have built-in flashes that will still work well underwater, while a waterproof video light may be essential for photographers using a DSLR and hoping to eek the most quality from their shots.

Try macro.

Underwater photography opens up an incredible new world — and that’s even more amazing up close. Macro photography underwater turns the details of the underwater scene into a larger-than-life shot. Some underwater-point-and-shoot cameras have incredible macro capability, while others can’t focus close to the lens (GoPros, for example, while generally good affordable underwater options, can’t focus up close). If your gear allows, put your camera or lens into macro mode and find those little details.

Keep it safe.

Diving with a camera isn’t like walking around the park with one. Always use safe diving practices. Experience will not only keep you safe, but will also help you get better shots by knowing how to keep your body still underwater. Dive with a partner, and consider the critter before deciding how close to get.

Underwater photography opens up amazing possibilities for sharing a scene that few ever get to explore. Getting close to the subject (when it’s safe) will help minimize the distortion that the water creates — you can even try some macro shots. Swimming allows you to explore different angles, but bring along a light for heading down deep. Play it safe — for both yourself and your camera with proper housing — and underwater photography can be an incredibly rewarding experience.

How to Take a Perfect Picture: 12 Photography Tips

How to Take a Perfect Picture: 12 Photography Tips

With billions of photos on the web, the one that pauses that scrolling is truly special. But how do you take a perfect picture? Photography, like all art, is subjective — what’s perfect to one viewer my be uninspiring to another. Still, there are ways to improve your photography to take your images from boring to inspiring — here’s 12 photography tips to get you started.

  1. Use composition to eliminate anything that’s unnecessary from the photo. Use the zoom or simply move to a different vantage point until everything in the frame contributes in some way. That age-old Keep It Simple Stupid applies to photography too.
  2. Don’t automatically center the subject. The Rule of Thirds suggests placing the subject off to one side — and while it often leads to better photos don’t do anything automatically. Think about your composition. Why are you framing the photo that way — and is there a way you could make it better.
  3. Don’t always shoot from eye height. Some of the most inspiring images are taken from higher angles or even lower ones.
  4. Learn manual modes. Auto mode is simply shooting with a computer, and there’s still a lot that computers have to learn. Dig into manual modes and you’ll really find ways to accelerate your shots.
  5. Use depth of field to your advantage. Controlling how blurry the background is — or how sharp — lets you eliminate distractions and show off the subject or to show the dazzling surroundings.
  6. Find ways to introduce motion into your photography. Still photos can still have a sense of movement — blurring the background through the panning technique, for example, or simply adjusting the composition to show where your subject is headed will help.
  7. Light, light light. Photography literally means writing with light, so if you don’t know light, you don’t know photography. Look for harsh or light shadows in your images and learn how to create them.
  8. Don’t be afraid of the flash — but learn manual flash. Manual flash allows you to turn the power down so it doesn’t look like a flash was used at all. So why use it? Flash helps fill in dark shadows under the eyes and add in catch lights — and that’s just for portraits.
  9. While you are learning, practice with light coming from the side or front of your subject. Once you are comfortable in these scenarios, however, learn how to successfully shoot with backlighting. Shooting with the light behind the subject is tricky, but can be incredibly rewarding when done right.
  10. Learn your genre. While many qualities are the same, different types of images require different tricks. Identify what you like to shoot the most — like kids, sports, macro or portraits — and find some tips from experts in the field on that specific genre.
  11. Embrace filters — and not the Instagram ones. A polarizing filter will help make the sky pop as well as enhance or eliminate reflections. Graduated neutral density filters are great for capturing a dramatic sky and neutral density filters allow you to take long exposure images during the day.
  12. Shoot in RAW. Camera technology today is amazing — but still not as capable as the human eye. While it’s always better to get the shot right in person, photo editing is often necessary to make it look just as impressive as it did in person. RAW is like a digital negative, choosing this file type instead of the typical JPEG gives you more control over the final image.

The best photographers never stop finding ways to improve their craft, however small. While perfection in photography may be impossible, great isn’t with the right knowledge and practice.

Photography Depth of Field Test

Let’s look at getting a better understanding of our camera today and have a look at ‘Depth of Field’.

This is often mentioned in photography articles and often it is assumed that everyone already understands what Depth of Field is. So today we are going to set you a challenge and take some test photos at home to really get a grip in Depth of Field and how it changes the look of your photos.
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Where to next with your Digital SLR?

Okay so you bought yourself a great new Digital SLR with all the bells and whistles. You got the two lenses that came in the kit and, after playing around with them for a while you want to take the next step and buy another lens that will really change the way your images look. So what are your options?
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