Tag : photo tip

09 Oct 2015

Photo Tip: Light painting during the day

VisitorI was out in my favorite location in Pomfret, VT, looking for foliage photos and looking at a small set of birch trees. A single fallen yellow maple leaf had landed on the trees and provided a nice splash of color against the white bark.

Without the flashlight

Without the flashlight

But the light was pretty bad. I was deep in the woods and there wasn’t any light getting down to the leaf.

So I pulled out my flashlight and since I use my tripod for most of my photos I was able to do a long exposure which let me light the scene with my flashlight. Rather than illuminate it from the front with a flat light, I moved the flashlight to the side to give it nice modeling and texture on the tree. I like sidelight and backlight and use it whenever I can, so when I can control the light, that is what I aim for.

Usually most people think of doing light painting at night, but there are many times when kicking in some extra light can make a big difference in an image. It is good to have a strong flashlight handy.

14 Jan 2015

Photo Tip: Fancy Fill Flash


Many photographers use fill flash outdoors when faces are in the shadow. The flash built into the camera can do a good job punching a little light into an area that is too dark. I went out to photograph a field of sunflowers and the sky was gray, so I made the “fill flash” the main light source and underexposed the rest of the photo by one stop. The flash was off the camera bouncing into a small umbrella to create a softer light, but it would still work with an on-camera flash.

12 Jan 2015

Photo Tip: Don’t give up on the dark


During a workshop in Cape May, NJ, we were getting pretty tired at the end of the day. I had seen a row of tents on the beach and knew they would make a fun photo but the light was too harsh. So long after the sun had set I said I wanted to go shoot the tents and asked if anyone wanted to join me. I got some strange looks but everyone had enough energy left to join me. The street lights were yellow and cast a strange color on the sand and the tents. Tire tracks made interesting patterns in the beach and there was barely enough light in the sky to give it some blue. I shot this at f/5.6 for 30 seconds at ISO 800 and my lens was zoomed to 20mm. So when you think the day is over, there usually is more out there to shoot.

12 Jan 2015

Photo Tip: Don’t be afraid to photograph people

Many photographers are hesitant to photograph people. I understand the reasons, but with the right approach, most people are honored when I ask to make their picture. Not because it is me asking but because I take the time to talk to them. I almost always let them know who I am and why I want a picture of them. I’ve found few people turn me down when I say “You have a great looking face.” It is a good line that isn’t too creepy and makes people feel comfortable with me sticking a camera in their face. When I try to sneak photos is when they get nervous, I only do that when I’m shooting hard news. So talk to people, many times the conversation is better than the photo.


30 Dec 2014

Photo tip: Proper use of a telephoto

birchInFoliageI hear a lot of people saying that an iPhone will make pictures as good as my expensive DSLR camera. That’s true if the iPhone is the only camera you have with you, but the difference is the ability to use wide angle or telephoto lenses. A telephoto is not used just so you don’t have to be as close to your subject. Yes, when I was in British Columbia this summer I needed my telephoto to shoot a breaching humpback whale, but one great creative use is to pull the background closer to the foreground and to give an image a flatter look. I often use a telephoto when I want to make the background look closer to the foreground, like in this shot of a birch tree against colorful maples. If I would have gotten closer to the birch and used a wide angle lens, the birch would have looked farther away form the maples and not had the colorful impact.

28 Dec 2014

Photo Tip: Shooting at eye level

In The SurfWhen photographing anything that has eyes, people, birds, frogs or dogs, I almost always want to have my camera at the same height as their eyes. Sure, there are exceptions, but generally being at eye level makes for more compelling photos. So if you are taking photos of a child opening Christmas presents, get down on the floor. If you are shooting eagles plucking fish out of the water, be at water level. If you are taking a portrait, shoot head on with the person, although older folks do appreciate if you get a just little higher which will hide double chins and saggy necks.

28 Dec 2014

Photo Tip: Make the most of flaws in your lens

sunburstTreesCamera lenses are full of flaws, which can be bad, but we can also use some of them in a creative way. I’m sure you’ve seen sunbursts in photos but maybe you haven’t figured out how to get them in your photos. All lenses will create the effect when the sun, or any strong light source, shines directly in the lens. But it doesn’t always happen, only when the lens aperture is very small, like f/22, and letting in very little light. Stopping your camera down to f/22 doesn’t always make the points happen either. If you aim your camera directly at the sun, you probably won’t see any bursts. You need to have the strong light source be slightly diffracted by something, like a tree branch, or lamp post.

08 Dec 2014

Photo Tip: Work the scene

bwLeafI run into a lot of beginning photographers who see something they want to photograph, look at the scene, take one picture and move on. Unless they are damn good or really lucky, they are probably not getting the best photo possible. When I am out shooting, I’m looking to get the best photos I can, not the most photos. I prefer quality over quantity and I achieve this by what I call working the scene. Working the scene means that I am going to exhaust all possible angles, positions, settings and lenses before I am satisfied that I have made the best image possible. It may require moving my tripod down two inches or to the right two yards. I tend to look at angles first without the camera because over the years I’ve learned what it will look like, but I recommend you look through the camera first, find the right spot to start and then put the camera on the tripod. Slowing down and working the scene will make you a happier photographer!

19 Nov 2014

Photo Tip: Exposing at night

middleBridgeNightOne the keys to photos at night is to add light where needed. Many times we just shoot what is there but adding some light of your own can make a big difference. It doesn’t require tons of equipment, just imagination and experimentation. This show of a covered bridge was lit with a flashlight. I did a 30 second exposure and walked around shining my little flashlight on the end of the bridge and the fence. It took several attempts to get it right but checked the each exposure on of the back of my camera and then made adjustments.