Month: July 2019

Become a Street Photographer

There are street photographers who are like ghosts. You don’t notice them and you certainly don’t notice them photographing you. They carry small cameras and they have learned the trick of focusing the lens by judging the distance between the subject and the camera and adjusting the focus ring based on that distance. Basically, they shoot from the hip, with wide lenses to compensate for framing defects as they don’t actually see the frame, they can only guess it. With such a behavior, it is normal not to see them. They are not paparazzi, but the people tend to control themselves when a person aims a camera at them. By shooting without their knowledge, you can capture genuine expressions which are the heart of street photography.

Stalk people. It’s not illegal on the street. See a person you like, walk with them, follow them until you can get a shot of them. Go for public places so you won’t get the police on your head. Try to follow facial expressions and move like lightning when one that you like comes up. It’s all in the expression, and that’s what you’re supposed to be hunting. Never take close shots. Make the subject and the surroundings a part of your composition. Some bland in, some stand out, but that’s the diversity and the fun of it. A suit and tie in an abandoned factory looks better than a homeless in an abandoned factory. Contrast is the key.

Carry small equipment. Do not go street photographing with big heavy cameras and lenses that look like bazookas, people will notice you right away. Use small cameras, the smallest possible, because quality is not an issue. the best street photography in the world has some of the worst image quality as well.

Always ask for permission afterward. Take your shots, then talk to your subjects. It is extremely unfair and annoying to them to find out they were photographed later on, when your work becomes public. Respect them and, if required, respect their privacy.

Choosing the Right Type of Camera

The electronics consumer market is so vast today that it is extremely difficult to just go and buy a product off-the-shelf without doing a complete analysis on the product itself in terms of price, features, benefits, suitability and many others.

As with automobiles, there are cameras for amateurs and professionals, for fun activities and for serious photography. So, let’s start with a few areas that we should look at and see if all the questions we have can be answered.

Cameras are by and large of these types – compact, compact systems and SLRs (single lens reflex). They come in different shapes, sizes and colors, with or without accessories.

Compact cameras

These are the ones that have a lens attached to the body of the camera, hence the term ‘compact camera’. Compact cameras are used mainly by those who just ‘aim and click’ in the sense that focusing and sensitivity are features that are programmed for the camera to define.

Compact system cameras

A compact system camera comes with one of two lenses that can be attached or detached along with an accessory like a flash gun to take photographs in all kinds of light. While most compact system cameras are sturdy and have in-built controls like compact cameras for taking pictures, they allow some amount of control and flexibility to the person using the camera.

SLRs

This segment of camera contains some of the biggest and most complex photography equipment that any photographer can handle. The camera body itself may be compact and handy and can still be used for an ‘aim and click’ mode but Digital SLRs as most of these cameras are referred to, can be fitted with a complex range of lenses and accessories that allow the photographer to control every aspect of a picture from brightness to contrast, colors, movement and focus etc. DSLRs come with elaborate kits for easy portability of lenses and these cameras are most suited for outdoor photography such as landscapes, wildlife and nature etc.

Bridge cameras

These look like a ‘bridge’ between the compact cameras and DSLRs but come often with long lenses that are not interchangeable. However, their ease of use and portability make them very useful.

Night and Low Light

Choosing the Right Camera

If you are willing to buy a new camera or upgrade your poor smartphone camera to a dedicated model, you might as well get a camera that excels in night photography. A camera with a good flash may sound like the best solution but it isn’t suitable for all photography situations. Using the flash at night can create an unnatural scenery or may cause uneven lighting. Instead, you should opt for cameras that have larger sensors (43.3 mm is sufficient) which are capable of taking in more light. Cameras with lenses that can open to f/2.0 or f/1.8 allow more light into the image sensor to further boost low light performance. If it is too difficult for you to check out the specs for different cameras that fall within your budget, you might as well look for online reviews and check out some low light sample photos. Also know that mirror-less and Digital SLR cameras in general are very superior to compact digital cameras in terms of low light photography.

Working with What You Have

Acquiring night and low light photography skills may be easier than you think. Your current camera might be able to take better low light images if you apply the right settings. The natural thing to do is to try shooting the low light scenery with the auto setting because this setting will attempt to figure out the most optimal settings for the scene. If the picture doesn’t look so good, you have to switch to manual mode and start experimenting away.

The first setting that you should tinker with is the ISO setting because even the most basic point-and-shoot cameras allow you to manually set the ISO. Basically, a higher ISO setting will result to brighter photos but the price you pay comes in the form of extra noise especially at the highest ISO levels so you need to find the right balance. Going for the highest image quality setting is also recommended and you should pick the RAW format if available. If you are able to set the aperture priority, you should make sure it is set to the lowest possible f-stop.

A tripod will also help greatly in low light and night photography because keeping the camera as still as possible will eliminate blurring. It will also help you work with the exposure setting which can do wonders for night photography if the camera is very still. Basically, you have to figure out how long the sensor will gather light. Use your camera’s light meter as a guide.

Make Your Instagram Photo Look Great

There’s nothing wrong with a love of taking photographs. There’s also nothing wrong with amateur photography minus the expensive camera equipment and filters. But if you really want to make your Instagram photos pop, do your viewers a favor, and put a little bit of effort into making them look really good.

Not only will the 100 pictures of your new puppy look so much better, but you’ll also impress your contacts leaving them wondering how you pulled it off.

There’s an app called VSCO Cam that user’s say make your pictures look like they were taken with an old school, high-end film camera. It’s become a viral hit to the point that on Instagram, there are more than 22 million hash tags related to the app.

The app requires some getting used to, say users, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes one of the easiest ways you can make your Instagram photos look great. The app is ideal for making pictures look better after they’ve been taken, but it can also be used to take better pictures.

Thanks to a number of different flash modes, VSCO Cam performs near miracles with lighting. There’s a flash mode for almost every need. Remember those times where you look a sickly yellow because a picture was taken in low light? Well, this app has a special white balance locking system to prevent that unfortunate and unflattering yellow cast.

Other features of the app include a level to make sure your picture isn’t crooked. Focus and exposure points can be controlled simply by tapping two fingers on your Smartphone screen.

A series of photo effects offer subtle ways to touch up your photos like highlighting natural colors and fading the edges of a photo with a vignette effect.

The app also has some preset filters that users are raving about, claiming that they’re much more tasteful and toned down than Instagram’s. Intensity of these filters is also easy to adjust. All you have to do is move the slider. Not sure if you like the filter? Simple tap and hold on the image and you’ll get to see the original again.

Tricks for Shooting Interiors

Use a wide angle lens. Shooting wide can make the room look great, especially when in Hong Kong, the size of the property is most likely less than 100 sq. meters. In a confined space, sitting tight into one corner while you try to get the other three corners in just looks wrong. You shouldn’t shoot all three walls into one picture. Showing the highlights of the interior design features is important. About the lens, anything in the 16-24mm range on full frame (or the APS-C equivalent which equates to 10-16mm approx. on some less expensive camera) is great. I often use 17mm full frame for my wide interior work.

Sufficient indoor and natural lighting are both important. Light up the room. If there is good natural light coming through the windows, use that as well. Adjust the overall feeling of the lighting to a balanced and optimized level.

Find the best angle. Take time to explore different angles to shoot from. Decorate the room with small artistic items, plants or anything you like to add a bit of creativity. We can’t all afford a tilt-shift lens to keep perspective in check, so it’s a really good idea to shoot with the camera at or slightly above mid-room height. This means you can keep the camera aimed out straight to keep the walls vertical. While the perspective distortion you get can be corrected in post-production, it’s much easier to get it right in camera. This is another reason to use a tripod as well.

Use post-processing software, e.g. Photoshop or Lightroom. You should bring the Highlights down and open up the Shadows. Next bring the Blacks down to ensure that the contrast lost from opening up the Shadows doesn’t impact the image too much.

Go vertical for staircases and other special feature. This is also important if you want to share the pictures on the web, as most images are horizontal in the interior photography world. Some vertical images could light up your portfolio. Verticals usually mean letting the eye fill in gaps, so make use of the composition to show hints of the room.

Select The Best Scenic Places For Photography

Finding the perfect location to be shot: It’s always easy and comfortable to go for places around you, like a park. But to find a location for a memorable picture one can think of some special locations like the ocean side, mountains or forest-side. Each location has its own individuality and charm which makes the picture interesting and happening.

Perfect natural lighting: A location which has natural light is preferred by a photographer. But try to avoid direct sunlight of the mid day, always go for shaded lighting than a harsh one. A soft and flattering sunlight would bring out the best picture. Early mornings and evenings light would be the best lighting for a perfect picture.

Being alert: Photography in outdoor locations always comes with the risk of sudden and unexpected changes in weather. So be sure you are ready with a back up plan and have necessary arrangements, in case of bad weather conditions. Make sure you have got something like a shaded shelter nearby to protect your photographic equipments from sudden downpour.

Always go for quiet places: A crowded place is always a distraction to capture the real scenic beauty. Mountains, hills, beach side etc are some of the best locations for scenic photography. These scenic places provide ample opportunities for experimenting.

Decide on a focal point: A focal point always gives your landscape a certain definition and brings out an amazing and eye-catching frame to the viewers. A tree that appears unique or a formation in rock or anything else that appears striking can be taken as the focal point to enhance your photograph.

Cover the sky in photograph: Always make it a point to include and give due consideration to include sky above the landscape in your photograph. A scenic beauty would look incomplete without its overlying sky. Different colours of the sky and formations out of clouds can really bring out an awesome look to the landscape. Even if the look of the sky is dull it can be enhanced with the help of filters.