Somewhere at the start of the adventure that is photography, a newer photographer will soon realize that having your subject stand out from the background, really gives the photo a near-3-dimensional effect. Your subject just pops out with the background blurred. The question of how to get blurred backgrounds in photos, is easily answered.
There are two ways to blur the background in a photography - In-camera (i.e., optical) vs Photoshop. Doing it in Photoshop is in my opinion, a boring way to spend an afternoon when you could be out Read more inside...
Following up from the article on focusing modes of your camera - when your subject is off-center, you have two options to acquire and hold focus:
use the appropriate off-center AF sensor
(but you can run into the problem of it not being a cross-type AF sensor), or
lock focus, and then recompose the shot
A scenario where you might want to use focus-lock & recompose, is when there is strong back-lighting, and your camera has difficulty auto-focusing. The photo above would be a typical example.
Here I was shooting Read more inside...
The focusing modes and options can be confusing for new camera owners. The instruction manual's dry distillation of facts might also be overwhelming. Where to start? Let's break it down to the basics and make this all much easier.
The photo at the top illustrates the most essential consideration when deciding on a focusing mode - deliberate choice. I deliberately focused on her eye closest to me. Not her hand in the front or the back. Definitely not the background. I chose what I wanted most sharp in the photo. It wasn't the camera's Read more inside...
When I posted the article with tips and advice for second-shooters, it generated a lot of conversation in the comments. I want to follow it up with a related article on how to improve your technique as a photographer. It is general advice for any photographer. And it is especially pertinent if you're a second photographer / 2nd shooter.
Camera technique can be distilled into a few elements:
- composition & framing, including lens choice
- timing of the photograph, ie that moment
- choice of aperture (for depth of field)
- choice Read more inside...
In teaching workshops on flash photography, I frequently encounter newer photographers who are overwhelmed by flash photography. Overwhelmed to the extent that they fear their flash, and would rather not deal with flash photography at all. Instead, they adopt the idea that they will only specialize in available light photography. Now, that kind of thinking is an artistic dead-end. As a photographer that aspires to truly being creative, you need to understand light, regardless of how it is supplied to us.
I do feel that flash photography is one of those Read more inside...
I noticed that search engine query come up in my web-stats - 'which metering mode for outdoor photos'. So it might be a good idea to answer it specifically. Which metering mode should you use for outdoor photography? Or for that matter any kind of photography?
The basic approach is quite simple: Since I'm using manual exposure mode nearly exclusively, no matter which route I take to get to a specific shutter speed / aperture / ISO combination ... I would be getting the exact same exposure regardless of which metering mode was used.
In this Read more inside...
A valid question on how much the change in aperture affects depth-of-field, is whether an 70-200mm f/4 zoom would give you the same kind of look that an f/2.8 zoom would.
For me, a fast f/2.8 aperture is essential on a zoom lens, especially the telephoto zooms. For the same scenario, it gives me a higher shutter speed than the f/4 zoom. Or I can use a lower ISO. More importantly, since I often bounce flash in large areas, the f/2.8 aperture gives me more chance of successfully bouncing my flash than an f/4 aperture would.
A presentation that I've given on several occasions, is called 'Just Give Me The F-Stop'. The presentation is based on the perception that many photographers, in trying to get to grips with flash photography, try to break it down into what they think are the understandable elements – the numerical values of the settings used. They want numbers, believing that in knowing a certain image was taken at 1/125th @ f4.5 @ 400 ISO, that they might get closer to understanding lighting. They want the f-stop.
However, the scenarios we Read more inside...
It's a constant debate whether it is a good idea to use a UV / skylight filter on your lens for protection. There are viable arguments for either choice. During this recent shoot with Jeannie Dee, I immediately noticed that with these heavily backlit portraits, I was getting an unusual amount of flare … and removing the filter on front of the lens immediately helped. Noticeably so!
Shooting towards a bright light source or a bright background, is one time where NOT using a filter makes absolute sense.
You risk getting lens flare, no matter Read more inside...
choosing the necessary aperture for depth of field (DoF)
Depth of Field (DoF) is one of those elementary factors in photography which seem to mystify most (new) photographers. A question that I'm often asked is, "How do you know how much depth of field you need?" Now anyone who has delved into the topic and has done some research knows that you soon stagger back .. your head spinning trying to tie together all the concepts: circle of confusion, focal length, subject distance, size of enlargement, format size, hyper focal distance, and so on.
But a working approach might just Read more inside...