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19 Creative and Inspirational Photos

If you’re a seasoned photographer you probably remember the days when you first started and the enthusiasm you had to shoot anything and everything, but as time goes by you keep shooting the same photos and it gets monotonous. Creativity is the key to overcoming this obstacle and probably the hardest aspect of photography which doesn’t just apply to amateurs, you’ll find you’re constantly working on this and thinking up new ideas for every shot, even as a professional. Photography is constantly changing, there’s always some new gear, new locations to discover and new creative ways to shoot them.

A few tips to help you get those creative juices flowing is to simply browse other photographers work online, for example on some photography social networking sites like 500px.com or flickr.com. Some other ways could be choosing a theme and starting a new project based on this or a photo challenge such as taking a self portrait of yourself for a month. One good way to practice your creativity if it’s not feasible to carry a DSLR around with you every day is to use your phone, and perhaps try some filters and practice editing them.

Now to get into the inspirational photos, which are all copyright free and will hopefully give you some useful ideas for your next project.

baubles, tree

Assorted coloured baubles decorating a tree

white, blue, bubbles, ice

White and blue ice bubbles clouds

metal, bike

Metal motorbike sculpture and pipes

woman, forest, tree trunk

Woman floating on a tree trunk in a forest

art, patterns, shapes

Retro spiral patterns wallpaper

mannequins, art museum

Mannequins hanging in an art museum

coloured umbrellas

Pattern of coloured umbrellas

woman, bushes

Woman hiding in a bush of flowers

coloured crayons

Macro of three coloured crayons sharpenings

spiral shapes

Spiral shaped tunnel and a human hand

face, woman, wall, painting

Painting of a woman on a wall

woman, face, shadows

Woman in shadows with glitter on face

woman, purple mist

Woman in purple paint fog

paint splashes

Coloured paint splashes palette

ice cream, clouds, hand

Ice cream cone and clouds held in a hand

ceramic, head

Ceramic head with brain sections labelled

stars, jar

Night sky stars in a jar

lemons, fruit

Yellow and pink lemon fruit slices

umbrella, paint clouds

Clouds of coloured paint on an umbrella

Using Complementary Colors For Color Correction – How Does It Work?

umbrella, coloursColor Correction, also known as Color Grading, is the technique of altering the colors present in a photo. This can be either a subtle change like white balance or a stark change like blue to red conversion. Color Correction is actually changing the color of a pixel to another color. The colors of a photo are important to help you achieve the desired effect and this is why a lot of photographers apply color correction to the images. Color Correction usually involves adjusting various aspects of an image to increase its appeal. The most common corrections include contrast, white balance, highlight, noise and exposure.

Color Correction is a vital step in any photography work as it completes the overall mood and effect the photographer aims to achieve. At times, you face situations where the color scheme might be striking but the surroundings may not be ideal to complement the photography subject. The reason might be the lack of time to find the right location, great lighting or creating the ideal setup. Though you might get a really amazing outcome, you feel that your photos still lack something special in terms of colors. You may feel like adding something more.

This is where complementary colors come into picture. Complementary colors are those that are opposite each other on the color wheel. They can be found everywhere, especially in nature. Imagine a beach or sunset and you can see that they are full of these colors. They are called so because they complement each other.

You can use complementary colors in the photography to create a consistent look, feel and style in your images. You can either use the colors while capturing or apply subtle adjustments to colors of the image in post-processing. Here, we see how you can precisely achieve color correction with complementary colors in Adobe Lightroom.

Creating a Color Palette

Before actually starting color correction in Lightroom, it is important to be clear about what colors you want your image to include. An ideal way to do this is creating a simple color palette which you can refer to while editing the photos.

It can be anything, from few color swatches picked from a paint store, a bunch of squares on the computer filled with your favorite colors or a collection of pictures cut out of magazines.

Using HSL

When working with colors, you need to subtract the colors from your images which don’t match your color palette. Once you get satisfied with your colors, you can proceed to add, enhance and stylize.

Start with Hue option in the HSL tab. Hue sliders let you replace the existing colors with adjacent colors on the color wheel. The Saturation sliders enable you to control the color intensity in the images. Increase the saturation to make your colors more vibrant and stronger. Decrease it to make the colors less intense. Another look at the image will let you take note of any distracting colors which don’t align with the color palette. Use the corresponding sliders to desaturate such colors to get only the colors aligning with the palette you have. Once you get the base colors properly, give them some saturation boost to enhance the image.

The Luminance sliders let you control the brightness and darkness of a particular color in the image. Increasing the luminance adds brightness while decreasing it darkens the colors. Comparing the image to your color palette lets you identify whether they are too light or dark and lets you adjust the luminance slider in the HSL tab to lighten or darken the colors.

Using Curves

Next is the time to apply your consistent editing style to the images. You can apply specific characteristics to the image using the Tone Curve. You can create control points in the graph by using the Point Curve icon and drag the control points to change the values of the corresponding tones.

It works in four channels – Red, Green, Blue and RGB. If the tone curve channel is set to RGB, you can control the overall tone of the image by adjusting the Red, Green and Blue tones at the same time.

Adding control points on the left side of the Tone Curve allows working with shadows. Dragging them downwards darkens the shadows while dragging them upwards lets you create flat, light shadows. You can achieve a perfectly murky look by darkening the highlights using the control points on the right of the Tone Curve.

The Tone Curve essentially isolates the individual color channels to let you adjust how little or much of the particular color channel is present in your shadows, mid-tones and highlights. Introducing a tone to your image can help enhance the overall look, feel and style of your photographs. Select the color channel you want to work with and make adjustments to the Tone Curve to affect the particular color in the image.

Note that when you use the Tone Curve to remove a primary color, you introduce the opposite color. Here are the primary colors and their complementary colors:

  • Red – Cyan

  • Blue – Yellow

  • Green – Magenta

Split Toning

This step, though optional, is an important step in stylizing the image by applying a subtle split tone adjustment using the Split Toning option in Lightroom. If you feel that your image looks perfect by now, you can go ahead.

But if you feel that your image still needs a little work, use the Split Tone tab which offers a simple way to add a final layer of polishing to your image. Split Toning allows applying a particular color tone to your shadows and highlights. You can refer to the color palette to pick the right hue that you want to be present in your shadows as well as highlights. Then, you can adjust the intensity by using the saturation sliders until you get satisfactory results.

Conclusion

Working with colors is a process and not an exact science. We hope this tutorial helps you apply complementary colors in your photography and stylize your collections better.

Range Mask In Lightroom Classic – A Complete Guide

strawberry, water splashThe addition of Range Masking features to Lightroom Classic has bestowed newer superpowers on the photographic community. Range masking tools are an effective way to bring professional quality precision to the local adjustments, enabling you to create complex masks for detailed areas such as feathery critters or reef edges which would otherwise require editing with Photoshop.

Lightroom Classic’s Develop Module offers global controls which affect the tone and color of the entire image but photographers often come across situations where an edit requires perfecting any particular area of the picture without affecting others. The local tools of Lightroom – Graduated Filter, Adjustment Brush and Radial Filter are the way to achieve this as they allow applying corrections only where they are actually required while masking the rest of the image.

What is a Range Mask?

A mask allows applying an adjustment to select parts of the photo. It is simply a way to control what parts of the image get the edits you want to apply. There are numerous types of masks and they vary extensively by their applications.

When you use the local tools in Lightroom, ticking the checkbox for ‘Show Selected Mask Overlay’ or typing the letter O toggles a red overlay which shows the area where current adjustments are being applied. You can obviously erase the parts of selection to finesse the mask. However, subjects featuring complicated outlines and translucency are quite tricky to select precisely with just erasers and brushes.

The Range Masking options in Lightroom Classic are effective, powerful additions to the local tools, making it easy to create detailed masks depending on brightness and color. These features provide two different ways to apply masks to images – luminance and color.

Luminance Range Masking

Much like luminosity masks in Photoshop, Luminance range masks apply local adjustments depending on the brightness range selected. This means you can apply an edit using local adjustment tools to just the highlights, mid-tone or shadows luminance range you choose. The luminance range masking feature comes with a ‘smoothing’ slider that controls the intensity of the masking effect, hard to soft.

To use the Luminance Range Mask in Lightroom, you should first add a filter or brush to the image.

1. Double-click on ‘Effect’ at the top-left of the control panel to reset all sliders to be able to start with a clean platform and see that ‘Auto-Mask’ is deactivated.

2. Turn the Selected Mask Overlay ON to be able to see where you are editing the image. Add a brush stroke or gradient filter to the portion of the image you want to adjust.

3. Select ‘Luminance’ from the pop-up menu of the Range Mask.

4. Set endpoints of the Range slider to select the tonal range you are interested in. The endpoints, by default, are set to include everything. Move the slider’s right endpoints to the left to target dark areas. To target mid tones, move both the endpoints towards the center. Move left slider to the right to target lighter areas.

5. To specify how gradual the transition between the selection and the adjacent pixels is, use the smoothing slider.

6. Once you have made a satisfactory selection, turn the ‘Show Selected Mask Overlay’ OFF from the tool panel and begin adding your effects to the image.

Color Range Masking

The Color Range Masks work much like luminance masks but instead of basing the masking function on brightness, it depends on the color ranges selected using the dropper tool. You can use the dropper tool to select a big color palette by clicking and dragging the eye-dropper over a region of the image. Alternatively, you can use shift+click at desired points to select specific color areas.

To use Color Range Masking, add a filter or brush to the image first.

Follow steps 1 and 2 from the Luminance Range Masking section.

3. Select ‘Color’ from the pop-up menu of the Range Mask.

4. Pick the Color Range eyedropper and click on the color you want to work with. It is possible to pick four more colors using Shift+Click with your eyedropper. You can alternatively click and drag the rectangular pieces of colors and gradients to select them. As you proceed to sample colors, you find that the red Selected Mask Overlay gets turning more precise.

5. Adjust the Amount slider to set the transition between the selected and non-selected regions. A low setting leads to higher accuracy while a high setting gives a soft transition.

6. When the selection appears to be perfect, turn the ‘Show Selected Mask Overlay’ checkbox OFF from the panel and start adding effects with the help of sliders available in the control panel of the Filter or Brush.

Ideal subjects for using Color Range Masking feature are those distinctly-colored from backgrounds. Bright colored sponges, fans, colored patterns, stripes or red or yellow fish in front of blue waters are great candidates for this tool.

Final Thoughts

The new Range Mask feature brings the power of Photoshop masks to the comfort and safety of Lightroom. With the color range mask, you can use the power of color by selecting exactly which tones receive the adjustment. Color Range Mask is an outstanding way to bring out the contrast when working with complementary colors in an image. The luminance range mask lets you fine-tune where exactly your edits are applied depending on the brightness within the image. This feature is specifically advantageous when working with highly contrasting scenes and is great for black-white photos.

Find Your Best Photos Using Lightroom Compare View

photos, coffee mugFor photographers who tend to capture a lot of photos, it can sometimes be difficult to figure out which one is the best within a group of similar pictures or the photos of the same thing taken at different angles. This is where comparing the images becomes necessary. Comparison allows choosing the best images to edit in Lightroom.

If you take 500 snaps on a single shoot, you would definitely not want to develop them all. You would prefer to pick the best 20 or 25 photos and use your time and attention on developing them to their fullest potential. Adobe Photoshop’s Lightroom allows users to quickly compare the photos through the Compare View feature. Users can see the images side by side and decide which photo they want to use, edit or send to the client.

Lightroom Grid View

The starting point of using Compare View is the Grid View. First of all, you should select the photographs you are willing to compare. The first image you select is called the most selected image and it will feature a lighter frame than other images in the selection. Next, press the ‘C’ key on the keyboard to enter the Compare View. The most selected image is displayed on the leftmost. This photo is known as Select and the next photo is displayed on its right. This image is known as the Candidate.

Alternatively, users can select an image by clicking on it and then click on another image on the filmstrip to compare the first image with. Both the photos are then displayed side by side.

The Candidate photo can be changed using the arrow button to move to the next image in the Filmstrip. If you decide not to keep the Select image as the set image, it is possible to change the Select image using the Swap button. In this case, the Candidate image becomes the new Select image.

Info Overlay

Hitting the ‘I’ key on your keyboard displays the date and time the image was shot and the pixel size. Hitting the ‘I’ button again shows up other information like your camera settings, lens info and more. Press it once more and the information disappears.

If you select a photo and go to Compare View, the software uses the photo and the previously selected photo, last photo or the subsequent photo in the filmstrip. The Select image remains constant on the left while it is possible to choose different images for the Candidate. You can do this by using the left and right arrow buttons in the toolbar.

Compare View Icons

There are some icons under the images in Compare View. Here is what you can do with each of them.

Zoom

An interesting feature of Compare View is the ability to zoom in on your photograph which is not possible in other modes. This can be done using the Zoom option.

You can use key combinations like Ctrl+ to zoom in and Ctrl- to zoom out. When zooming in, you can have a closer inspection by clicking and dragging the image around.

Swap

This control can be used to change the image showing up in the Select panel. Swap button changes the Select image with the one in the Candidate panel. It is possible to swap the images by clicking on any of the photos in the filmstrip.

Make Select

Clicking on this option moves the currently selected image to the Select panel and make the next filmstrip image as the Candidate.

Clicking on the arrows for previous and next lets you move through the photos in the Candidate panel.

Link Focus

Resembling a clock in appearance, the Link focus option is quite useful for comparing images with a somewhat different composition. When you scroll through a zoomed image, the other image also moves. You can unlock the photo using the lock option to scroll around only one photo at a time.

Sync

When the Link Focus is unlocked, you can zoom into any of the images without touching the other. The Sync button can be used to bring the other photo into sync with the current one you are moving or zooming.

How to Use Lightroom Compare View

One of the major purposes of using Compare View is comparing similar images to figure out which photos you want to develop in the Develop Module. Another purpose can be comparing the photos that you have partly or fully developed before.

You can use the arrow buttons to move through the photos in your selection and Make Select and Swap options to compare various images. The learning curve is minimal and you can quickly work your way through tons of images using Lightroom Compare View.

Photographers use rating methods like star rating, flagging and color label to organize the images. This can be done in Compare View as well. Flagging is one of the simplest ways to rate the photos. Here is how you can do it. If you decide to develop an image, you can click the grey flag icon beneath the photo to flag it as a Pick.

You can leave the photos unpicked when you decide not to develop them. When you are done, you can return to the Grid View and select the Flagged option to delete all the useless photos and stop seeing them in the filmstrip.

Next, choose the Select All option from the Edit menu to select the flagged photos and send them to a collection which contains only those photos you want to develop using Lightroom.

Benefit from Lightroom’s powerful and handy features to filter through lots of photographs at a time. Getting rid of photos which are not useful or images which you have rejected is quite easy and quick. Doing this frees up a lot of memory and makes life convenient when it comes to going through filmstrip and searching for the right photos.

The INCREDIBLE Power of Luminosity Masks In Photoshop

flower, perfume bottlePost-processing has always remained an integral part of photography and with digital advancement, we have more possibilities than ever before, regardless of how hard you want to manipulate the photos. Luminosity Masks are one of the possibilities and is such a powerful technique that it is worth considering for everybody working with Photoshop.

Though these masks are not direct adjustments and don’t change anything by themselves, they are blended with adjustments like color balance, curves and others for better enhancements. Luminosity Masks are generally used by landscape photographers to create a dynamic range image through digital blending. The power and benefits of this technique lie in its ability to create a highly focused selection and its self-feathering profile.

What are Luminosity Masks?

In simple words, they are tone-based selections which make it possible to alter particular tones in a photo by making use of luminance value of a pixel and assigning a grey-scale value in the mask. A Luminosity Mask is essentially a gray-scale version of a photo but it is possible to refine it further by targeting dark, bright or midtone pixels.

There are three basic kinds of Luminosity Masks – Darks (Shadows), Midtones and Brights (Highlights). All these three types of masks can be tuned to create restricted selections. The initial selection is basically a gray-scale image representation but we change the number of targeted pixels by refining the masks further.

Why Use Luminosity Masks?

There are several benefits of using selective refinement but one of the most important is the flexibility of altering just the parts you need. Those who work with Photoshop would know that there are many ways to remove refinement with a mask like Quick Selection and Lasso Tool.

Though such tools work, they are not as precise as the luminosity mask. This technique allows a precise selection which results in a seamless transition from adjustment to non-adjustment portions and vice versa.

Color Adjustment

One of the most common ways of using Luminosity Masks is to make targeted selection to apply color adjustments to only the areas you are interested in. As this selection is made on the basis of the pixel luminance, you should not directly apply the adjustment on the layer but paint the adjustments in.

When applying a saturation adjustment to parts of your photo using luminosity masks, target the required areas first as others will be masked. Once done, apply the luminosity mask to the black layer while painting the areas of your interest with white.

Tonal Adjustment

Another amazing way to use luminosity masks is making a focused selection to apply the tonal adjustment. Luminosity masks give you the ability to recover the details in shadows or highlights in particular areas of the photo without affecting others.

Sharpening

Everybody has his unique way to achieve sharpening, whether they are high pass filter or unsharp mask. Many of us often simply apply an overall sharpening adjustment to the photo. It is possible to mask out the areas you need not sharpen using a layer mask but the unmasked areas get a total sharpening effect, causing the image to look slightly unnatural.

Using a luminosity mask is an ideal way to solve this problem. Applying the mask to the sharpening adjustment layer lets you achieve the desired result.

Here are the steps to do this:

1. Apply a sharpening adjustment layer and add a layer mask then fill it with black.

2. Select a luminosity mask covering the area you want to sharpen and get it on to the layer mask.

3. Use painting on the layer mask with a white brush on the parts you want to sharpen.

Dodge & Burn

Though used frequently in the darkroom, this technique is not so popular in digital photography. Dodge and Burn use white and black to brighten and lighten image parts. It is applicable to black-white as well as color images. Dodging & burning with luminosity masks is an extremely artistic and easy way to improve contrast and make the image pop.

Firstly, you create two layers named ‘burn’ and ‘dodge’ and fill both with 50 percent gray and then change the blend mode to overlay for dodge and soft light for burn. There is no magic formula that works here. All you need to do is focus on a single tiny part at a time. Select the part you want to burn or dodge and ignore the others. Then, find a luminosity mask targeting the particular area of your interest, load it onto the burn or dodge layer and apply adjustments. Once you get satisfactory results, move on to the other portions. You can always return and adjust the same part.

Working with Luminosity Masks

Once you get the main Luminosity Masks created, you can start making the adjustments with them. To work with Luminosity Masks, first, select the mask you wish to work with using the Ctrl button and clicking on the thumbnail. After making the selection, open the Curves Adjustment Layer. If you have used the Brights mask, you will find that the Layer Mask resembles the Brights mask. This means the adjustments you make will be applied to only the white parts on the mask.

Next, you can drag down the curve to darken the highlights. You will note that only the bright portions of the photo are affected. Try using Shift+click on the Layer Mask to reveal and hide and see the difference in refinement with and without the mask.

Luminosity Masks offer an excellent way to transform your images while maintaining the natural look. It can be applied to any type of photographs. The possibilities with luminosity masks are limited just by your imagination.

Using luminosity masks may sound difficult and confusing if you are new to Photoshop but that should not discourage you from utilizing the power of this technique. You can explore and use some of the most comprehensive tutorials available online to take advantage of these powerful tools which would soon take a natural place in your workflow.

6 Creative Tips to Improve Your Photography

creative paintChanging up your photography and thinking of new ideas is probably the most difficult part of being a creative photographer. Creativity is the most important skill to develop and seperates the amateurs from the professional photographers. So here’s a few ways to improve your photography and get better results.

1. Play with Focus Points

It’s common with most photographers to focus on the main subject in your photo and ensuring the whole of this subject is sharp, and this isn’t a bad practice and works well. For more interesting results try setting your aperture to the widest setting and focus on something behind or in front of the main subject. Another idea is to change the focus to manual and throw the whole image out of focus.

2. Get on the Ground

Changing your viewpoint can really make your images more eye catching and interesting. Taking every photo at eye level will give you a photo that the viewer sees over and over in other photos, but getting down on the ground or higher to show angles people don’t regulary see from can give great results.

3. Long Exposures

Using slower shutter speeds is quite common but there’s lots of ways of doing this. To get a slower shutter speed without overexposing there’s a few options, such as using high f numbers (narrow apertures) or using neutral density filters. Some ways of using these slower shutter speeds is for shooting rivers for example, which gives the water a nice smooth surreal effect. Also on a windy day you could find a field with crops moving in the wind for a cool effect.

4. Panoramas

Panoramas are great for getting in a lot more of the scene in your photos, and this technique is most commonly used for landscape shots. If you’re using a camera phone or a modern compact system camera for example, these often come with an inbuilt panorama mode where you simply move the camera left or right across the scene and the camera will do the rest. But if you’re using a camera without this option then there’s another way to do this. Firstly you need to avoid as much vertical movement and camera shake as possible, and next you simply take a photo then move to the left or right of this point and take another so this photo overlaps the previous by a tiny amount. Once you’ve taken a few photos the next step is editing them using photo editing software, but we won’t go into detail of how to do this, but simply put you will stitch all the photos together and the software should do a good job at doing all this.

5. Panning

Panning is very common in sports photography to capture moving subjects and is a good way to emphasize movement and speed of the subject by adding blur to the background while keeping the subject mostly sharp. It’s pretty simple to do and involves simply moving the camera with your subject keeping it in the same position in the lens and then taking the shot. You might need to play around with the shutter speeds a bit to get the right amount of blur and sharpness of the subject.

6. Surreal Effects

Creating surreal, unreal effects can give some striking results that will definitely keep the viewers attention. So here’s a couple of examples you could try out:

-Try out some levitating effects by getting your subject to jump in the air and use a fast shutter speed to capture them in mid air. It’s important to keep the subject as sharp as possible to make it appear like they aren’t moving and not so obvious they are jumping.

-Light painting is an interesting technique for more arty types of photos. All you need for this are dark conditions and some kind of light source. You will need a long exposure for this and all you simply do is move the light source around creating patterns while the camera is exposing, and this will create some interesting light trails in whatever shapes you choose.

-Infrared photography is not that common and can create some very unreal looking photos which you can’t possibly see with the human eye. This type of photo will show trees as whites and the sky as black for example. Some cameras come with this option built in so you’ll need to check if your camera has this or not.

34 Creative Photography Ideas

If you’re stuck for ideas of what to shoot next and looking for some inspiration, this article will hopefully give you a few creative ideas you can try out, whether you’re a full time professional or a beginner.

1: Write on different objects and photograph them

Photograph text on different objects, for example you could write in a book, on a banana skin or plastic bottle. Also you could try setting your camera to a 30 second exposure or bulb mode, and photograph the object as you write the text.

2: Create your own pinhole camera

A pinhole camera is essentially a light proof box with a hole in it, from which light from the scene projects on the opposite wall inside the box. You can create your own pinhole camera from common household materials, a useful instruction guide for making one can be found here.

3: Convert your photos to black and white or monochrome

An obvious idea but often overlooked, try converting your photos to black and white. This usually gives photos a more contrasting look, and works well with scenes with strong dark and light areas.

4: Remove all colour from your photo except for 1 or 2 colours

This can be done easily in Photoshop, simply turn the saturation down for the colours you want to remove from the photo, and leave 1 or 2 colours, or even increase their saturation slightly for a punchier look.

5: Photograph your food

Cook a dish of your favourite food and arrange it in a stylish way, then photograph it. You could do this for all of your meals for a week.

6: Create a photo illusion

Create a photo illusion such as a human in the foreground (close to the camera) eating a mountain in the distance (so it appears smaller) or more commonly done, place your index finger in the foreground with a human in the distance, so it appears you’re lifting them with your finger.

7: Photograph a water droplet

Take a photo of a water droplet landing in water, or you could try capturing the splash of an object landing in water.

8: Photograph a scene in a mirror

Try placing a mirror in front of your camera and taking a photo of the scene shown in the mirror instead of the scene head on.

9: Paint on a black and white photograph

You could try this with an old black and white photo (preferably not a valuable one), and paint colour on the photo so it looks like you would have imagined it to be, had it been in colour, or you could do this on a digital photo using paint tools in Photoshop.

10: Create a pattern of objects

Arranging identical objects into a pattern can make for an interesting shot, or you could duplicate the object in Photoshop with a bit of know-how.

11: Capture peoples lives

You may need to ask the permission of each person but photographing people as they go about their daily lives can get you some interesting photos.

12: Capture your own life

Take a self portrait of yourself in different situations throughout the day, emphasising the change in your surroundings, mood etc.

13: Take a photo of the night sky

Take a photo of the stars by using bulb mode on your camera and a remote shutter release to reduce camera shake from pressing the shutter. Or if you don’t have a remote shutter release you can use a timer with a 30 second exposure. You may need to experiment with different exposure times to get this right, and if you live in a city or light polluted area, an orange glow may show up on your photo with longer exposures, potentially ruining it.

14: Human figurine in different scenes

Try photographing a small human model figurine in different scenes, such as surrounded by fruit and vegetables, or even take it to work and photograph it in the different situations you find yourself.

15: Set objects on fire

You could try photographing things on fire such as a match or book, but take proper precautions when doing this.

16: Photograph abandoned ruins

Find a local abandoned building and photograph the remains.

17: Try using a film camera

An old film camera in particular would be best to use, since this will give you a more pronounced arty film camera style photo.

18: Car light trails

Try taking a long exposure of moving car headlights at night, a good place to do this is on a bridge above a road or next to it. Don’t limit it to just car lights though, you could try this with a Ferris wheel or fireworks also.

19: Shoot the same scene every day for a year

A good scene for this is usually a natural one with trees or anything that changes throughout the seasons. Also you could try taking a self portrait of yourself in that scene for a year, or even longer. It will take a while to complete, but is well worth the effort.

20: Close ups of every day objects

Take macro shots of every day objects you use, such as a pencil, food, or your clothing for some great photos.

21: Camera shake

Moving your camera intentionally while you photograph a subject can make for some interesting abstract shots. You will need a slower shutter speed for this, which you can experiment with until you get the desired effect.

22: Shadows

On a sunny day, try using a shadow as the main subject of your photo, such as for a portrait you could use the persons shadow as the main focus of the scene, while placing the person further to the edge of the photo.

23: Prism

Using a prism in front of your camera lens can give you some interesting abstract shots, and have unpredictable results.

24: Unfocused

Try putting your camera out of focus, this can be done with any subject, but works well with lights and uncomplicated scenes. To put your SLR out of focus, set the focus mode to manual, and then move the focus wheel until you get the desired photo.

25: Geocaching

The reason I chose to include this one is because some of the locations can be very interesting and you may come across places you never knew existed before, nearby to where you live. If you haven’t heard of it before, geocaching is like a treasure hunt on a global scale. Boxes are hidden in locations all around the world, and you can get the GPS coordinates for any of these, you then find one of the boxes at the coordinates provided, which should have some kind of treasure hidden inside, then you replace the treasure with your own and re hide the box. Check out the geocaching website for more information.

26: Homeless

Homeless people always make for a good photo, perhaps you could offer some money in return for a photograph of them.

27: Pick a theme

Choose a theme to photograph, such as trees, roads or shops etc. and shoot photos of all of the subjects you can find based on your theme.

28: Light Painting

Light painting involves taking a long exposure and moving a light source around in front of the camera while exposing. This can be done by moving the light around in mid air to create a kind of light painting, or you can point your light source at different parts of an object to give it an unreal kind of look.

29: Clone a person

Clone yourself or someone else so there are multiple copies of you in the same scene. Simply put, this is done by taking multiple exposures of the same scene with the person in different positions, and then merging all the photos together.

30: Use your phone

You can now take professional looking photos with just your phone. There are many apps available that you should consider using that will give you more options you would normally see on a DSLR. One recommended app if you’re an android user is Open Camera which includes options such as auto stabilizing, zoom, and the ability to set ISO and exposure.

31: Aerial photography

This idea involves lifting your camera with a kite or drone, although you will probably need a GoPro camera to do this due to their smaller size and weight. Also if you’re interested in using a drone, you can buy some with cameras already built in.

32: Tilt-shift

Tilt shift involves taking a photo of a real scene and making everything appear smaller, like a miniature model. There are a few ways to get this effect, such as using a tilt-shift lens and editing the photo in Photoshop, to blur parts of the photo. Some basics for taking a tilt-shift photo are, you will need a well lit scene, and the photo should be taken from above, since this is the view you would normally take a photo of a small model at.

33: Visit your local zoo

If you’re interested in wildlife photography, or would like to get started at it, go to your local zoo or safari park and practice your photography skills. This is a much easier option than waiting around to see the animals in the wild.

34: A-Z

Find something to photograph for each letter of the alphabet, or as an alternative find something that looks like each letter, for example a car wheel for the letter O.

Top 19 Photography Tips For Beginners

Tip 1: Use RAW File Format

This is one neat tip that you should learn from experimenting with your camera. A lot of cameras offer RAW, if yours has this feature, use it. The RAW file format stores more data and so allows you to capture more detail and colour enabling you more room for tweaking the settings in post production. This allows you to maintain a realistic look when editing files, which will make a whole lot of difference to the end result. Also all changes made to RAW files can be undone and restored to the original photo.

Tip 2: Light and Darkness

Before you take the shot, take a look at your subject for dark and light areas, such as shadows and strong sunlight, and try to include both of these in the photo as this should create a pleasing contrast. A good example of this would be dark clouds with shafts of sunlight appearing through, or with a portrait shot you may want to place the subject with a shadow across part of the face.

Tip 3: Composition

A simple tip for composition is using lead in lines, which are vertical lines starting near the bottom of your photo which lead up to the main subject of your photo. Try arranging your photo with a subject in the foreground area for a more interesting landscape photo. Also look out for contrasting areas such as shadows and highlights to shoot.

Tip 4: ISO

This requires a bit of practice when set manually, but as a general rule use the lowest ISO possible to get a sharp image. Increasing ISO gives you faster shutter speeds, which will allow you to take photos hand held in darker conditions and at night without using a tripod. Increasing ISO is also useful for using a smaller aperture, for example in a landscape photo. The negative side to this is, the higher you increase the ISO, the more noise you will add to your photos, although higher end cameras suffer less with this.

Tip 5: Try an ND Filter 

An ND (neutral density) filter is useful for taking photos with a slower shutter speed, such as when you want to add blur to your photo. By adding an ND filter, the amount of light entering the camera decreases which means the shutter speed also needs to be decreased in order to capture the photo at the correct exposure. An ND graduated filter can also be used to darken just part of the photo, and is usually used to darken clouds.

Tip 6: Flat Light

Light that has a small exposure range, more common on a cloudy day is known as flat light. These conditions are often bad for some types of photography such as landscapes, but can be good for portrait photography, by creating a more even, soft lighting, but you may want to add some flash if the conditions are too dim. In the event of flat lighting, you may want to look for very contrasting subjects, for example snow and a dark path.

Tip 7: Add Some Blur

Add some blur to your photo, or part of your photo for a more creative shot. A common subject that is often blurred is water, such as a river or waterfall. You can add blur by decreasing your shutter speed using ND filters and a smaller Aperture on your camera. When increasing the shutter speed, you will need to use a tripod to prevent any unwanted blur to the rest of your image.

Tip 8: Night Photography

Using bulb mode (B) you can take an exposure of more than 30 seconds, which is useful for taking photos in the dark. This is also useful for taking photographs of the sky at night, but make sure to remove any filters such as skylight or UV since these may produce flares or halos from light sources, which could be a problem if shooting for example in a lit up city.

Tip 9: Take Unique Photos

Take some different or unique looking photos by thinking outside of the box. Some different types of photography you could try are black and white photography, underwater photography and HDR photography. You could also try tweaking your camera settings to over or under expose your photos for a unique looking effect. You can do almost anything to your photos in Photoshop, such as removing all of the colour and just leaving one or two colours in, or adding a photo filter.

Tip 10: Burst Mode

Burst mode can be of use when capturing fast moving scenes, such as in sports. This mode captures photos in quick succession, and can be utilized by pressing and holding down the shutter button. Burst is useful for freezing movement and getting a sharp photo of a fast moving object, and more photos means you have a higher chance of getting the perfect shot. Also when you press the shutter button, this jerks the camera and so the first image may be blurry, but subsequent shots will be sharper.

Tip 11: Timing and Contrast

Different times of the day bring different conditions, and each have their own advantages, but generally the morning and evening has the most dramatic lighting conditions, since shadows are longer and the lighting is usually more colourful at these times. The time of the year also dictates different conditions, such as on a winter morning there may be fog and frost or snow which can create an interesting atmosphere and contrast. But in summer the sun is much higher in the sky and the shadows will be shorter and less dramatic.

Tip 12: HDR (High Dynamic Range)

High Dynamic Range (HDR) allows you to capture a larger range of colours and lighting from a scene and so capture more of the detail. An example of this is if you were to take a photo of a bright sky with a dark landscape below (likely the sky will be overexposed, or the landscape underexposed), but using HDR you can capture the sky and landscape at the correct exposures. For some useful software to create HDR photos, check out Photomatix.

Tip 13: Outdoor Flash

Flash is useful both indoors and out. On a dull, cloudy day, some fill in flash may come in useful to light up the scene, although this will only be useful in the foreground and works best with portraits. Also on a sunny day when taking a portrait the subjects face may be covered in a shadow, so some fill in flash will also be useful then to light up the face.

Tip 14: Manual Mode

Manual mode takes some time and work to master, but once you understand how to use aperture and shutter priority modes, it’s time to start using manual. This mode is useful for situations where the light level is consistent and you want to get the same exposure each time, without the camera automatically changing any settings between shots which is common in other modes. It will take a lot of trial and error to get the correct exposure at first, but with time you will learn what works in different situations.

Tip 15: Edit your photos

Editing your photos is frowned at by some people as unauthentic and unnatural, but almost any great photo will have been edited to some degree, whether it be, levels adjustment, saturation or simply cropping. There are more advanced tools available to use now, and one which I would recommend you to use is Lightroom. Some of the useful tools available in Lightroom are clarity, vibrance and black & white mix.

Tip 16: Find different angles

Don’t just take the photo from the first available location you can find, take a look around and test out different positions. You may get a more interesting shot from low on the ground or much higher up, or try getting in closer.

Tip 17: Use a Polarizing Filter

Probably one of the most useful filters you can buy is a polarizer. They can be used to remove reflections in things such as water and glass, and to enhance the colours in your photos. They are very useful for landscapes in particular, and will make the sky appear darker and more blue.

Tip 18: Take lots of shots

Don’t just take 1 shot and expect it to be the best you will get, there may be a slight blur or the focus may be off, which you may not see when reviewing the photo on your camera screen. Take lots of photos of the same subject, perhaps changing up the angle or camera settings for each shot, and you have a much better chance of getting that perfect shot.

Tip 19: Prevent Blur

Blurred photos is perhaps one of the most annoying and common things that can be prevented by taking some simple measures. A slow shutter speed is most commonly the cause of blurred photos, as a general rule you should aim to use a shutter speed at least equal to the focal length of your lens. For example if using a lens at a focal length of 50mm, you should aim for a shutter speed of at least 1/60, and this applies when you zoom in also, so if you zoom to 200mm you should aim for 1/250 at least.

Photography Basics For Beginners

This guide covers the basics of photography and should be useful for any beginner photographers wishing to gain a basic understanding of photography.

Part 1: Camera Modes

Auto
This mode is the easiest to use, everything is set automatically so all you need to do is point and shoot.

Manual
The most difficult mode to use, which allows you to set everything yourself such as ISO, aperture and shutter speed.

Program
This mode sets the shutter speed and aperture for you, but allows you to set the ISO.

Shutter Priority
Shutter priority allows you to set the shutter speed and ISO manually while the camera will set the aperture accordingly.

Aperture Priority
Aperture priority allows you to set the aperture and ISO manually while the camera sets the shutter speed.

Scene Modes
Most cameras have scene modes, which like auto mode set everything for you, but with more suitable settings for different scenes, such as landscape, portrait and night modes.

Part 2: Camera Settings

There are three important settings on an SLR camera that everyone should learn. They are aperture, ISO and shutter speed, and changing any one of these will affect the exposure of your photo.

Shutter Speed

Shutter speed is the amount of time light is allowed into your camera and exposed to the image sensor. The shutter speed all depends on how much light there is in your surrounding, such as on a very sunny day you can use a much faster shutter speed, since this is all that is needed to get the correct exposure. If the weather was cloudy, or towards the evening when it’s darker, you may need a much slower shutter speed to get the same exposure as on a much sunnier day.

There is also a minimum shutter speed you should use when taking photos hand held to avoid your photos blurring caused by camera shake from your hands. The minimum shutter speed as a rough guide should be equal to or slightly more than your focal length, so if your focal length is 50mm you will need a minimum shutter speed of at least 1/60 to avoid blur.

Aperture

Aperture is the amount of light that’s let into the camera, controlled by the size of the opening inside the lens. It is measured using f stops, so the higher the f number the less light is let into the camera e.g. f/16, and the lower the number the more light e.g. f/1.4. Aperture’s main use is for changing the depth of field, which dictates how much of the scene is detailed and in focus.

Different apertures are useful for different subjects, such as if you want to focus on one subject in the foreground like a model, and have the background blurred, you would use a wider aperture, such as f/1.4, but for landscapes where you want all of the scene in focus, you would need a narrower aperture such as f/11 to f/16. Although it seems counter intuitive, narrower apertures are higher f numbers, and wider apertures lower f numbers.

Aperture also affects the shutter speed, so the larger the f number, the less light is let in, and so you would need a longer shutter speed than a smaller f number, which would allow a lot more light in.

ISO

ISO is the film speed of the camera and the sensitivity to light. Before digital cameras, film cameras used films that had a rating on them of say 100, 200, 400 etc. which were useful for different situations, such as 100 for taking photos outdoors and 800 for indoors. The same rules still apply to digital cameras, but without the film. Higher ISO numbers will increase the cameras sensitivity to light and therefore give you a lighter photo and allow you to use faster shutter speeds.

A higher ISO is useful for taking photos in darker conditions, such as at night where if you tried to use an ISO of 100 and hand hold the camera, the photo would almost certainly come out blurred. But if you use a much higher ISO of say 1600, you would be able to use a much faster shutter speed and therefore capture a sharp photo.

The downside to higher ISO is the quality of the photo suffers, and it will come out more grainy or noisy, so usually you will want to use the lowest ISO possible to capture the photo.

Exposure Compensation

This setting is useful for situations in which the camera doesn’t get the exposure quite right, and you want a easy way of changing it. Scenes that have very contrasting colours, such as dark blacks and bright whites are commonly exposed wrong, a common example of this is snow which is usually underexposed. To rectify this simply change the exposure compensation to +1 or +2 or until the snow exposes correctly.

Flash Modes

Flash is useful both indoors and out, and is usually used when you need to light up areas in the foreground. Indoors in can be useful for lighting up a room, where it’s often too dark to get a good exposure, or outside it can be used to fill in shadowy areas in the foreground.

No flash
Flash will not fire.

Forced flash
Flash will fire every time, in any conditions.

Auto flash
The flash will fire whenever the camera decides it’s necessary because there isn’t enough light.

Auto flash with red eye reduction
The same as auto, except two flashes occur in order to minimize the chance of red eye.

Slow sync
This mode uses a slower shutter speed so the background of the photo where the flash doesn’t reach is exposed properly, because this is often underexposed when using flash.

White Balance

If you’ve ever taken a picture and it looks either too blue or orange, this is what white balance is. Different types of lighting give different colour temperatures, which are measured on a temperature scale in kelvin. An example of this is candle light, which will give you a very warm, orange colour cast to your photo, whereas a cloudy sky during the day will give you a much colder, blue colour cast.

Some of the optional white balance settings are-

Auto
The easiest option and will give good results in most situations, but you may get different results between shots.

Tungsten
This is useful for most indoor lighting and adds more cool colours.

Fluorescent
Adds more warm colour to the photo.

Daylight
The midday sun gives a very neutral light, so this mode leaves the colours looking neutral.

Cloudy
Slightly warms up the photo, because cloud gives a more cool colour cast.

Shade
Shade gives a cool colour cast, so this mode adds some warmth.

Flash
Flash has quite a cool light, so this adds some warmth.

Histogram

The histogram is a useful tool which shows you the tonal range of your photos from the black tones to white tones. The graph displays the amount of each tone in the photo, with the darkest tones on the left and the lightest on the right. So if the graph has large peaks to the left of it, this means the photo has a lot of dark areas, which could mean the photo is underexposed, whereas large peaks to the right means there are lots of lighter tones, which could mean the photo is overexposed. But peaks in the middle of the graph indicate the photo has a lot of midtones present.

Every photo displays a different histogram, and there is no perfect one. What many people think is an ideal histogram would have peaks in the middle of the graph, with some at either end, but this all depends on what you’re trying to capture, such as a high contrast black and white photo would show peaks at either end, with little in the middle.

One more thing to look out for is for tones that are touching either edge of the histogram, which means those tones are being clipped and therefore details will be lost.

Part 3: Composition

The Rule Of Thirds

The most commonly known and probably the first composition technique that every photographer learns is the rule of thirds. This rule involves splitting the scene into thirds with two horizontal and two vertical lines, and then placing points of interest at one of the four intersecting points or along the lines.

For example in a landscape shot you may want to place the horizon along one of the two horizontal lines, or for a portrait, place the person at one of the four intersecting points. The subject doesn’t have to be exactly on a point or line either, but close by to them is acceptable for the rule to still apply. This is more of a guide than a rule though, and you will find many of your photos deviate from this with decent results.

Leading Lines

Leading lines are useful for drawing the viewers eye into your photo, and for adding an element of depth. Most lines usually start at or near the bottom of the photo, such as a photo taken standing in the middle of a footpath or road is very common.

Balance

A balanced photo is an important part of photography, and every photographer tries to achieve this whether consciously or not. Not every photo needs to be balanced, and sometimes an unbalanced photo can work as well as a balanced one. If you split your image down the middle vertically, as a general rule you want to have equal parts of a scene on the left and right, although this isn’t necessary for the top and bottom parts of an image.

12 Black and White Photography Tips

A long time ago photographers didn’t have the choice of using colour, so they were forced to take all their photos in black and white. Now that colour photography is here, some have started migrating back to black and white, perhaps unimpressed by the realistic, down-to-earth feeling colour photos give. However, even black and white photography enthusiasts still take some of their photos in colour, because it is better suited for some subjects.

Tip 1: Visualize In Black And White

Visualizing how a scene would look in B&W is key to being successful at black and white photography. First try visualizing how the contrasting textures and tones will translate into black and white. Contrasting colours won’t necessarily equal contrasting shades of grey though, some contrasting colours are very similar shades in black and white, but with a bit of practice you’ll be taking eye catching photos in no time. You don’t need to take every photo in black and white, eventually you’ll learn what works better in black and white and what works better in colour. To get some practice you could try converting all your old colour photos into black and white in Photoshop and you’ll soon work out what works and what doesn’t.

Tip 2: Choosing A Subject

Certain subjects are more suited for black and white, while others are more dramatic left in colour. Scenes with very strong, contrasting colours, like autumn foliage or a sunset make a much better image leaving the colours in, and converting to black and white can create a dull image with very little contrast. Some good subjects that work well in black and white are portraits of people, because this better emphasizes the shapes and lines of the subjects face, older people are especially good for this. Older, vintage items work well in black and white also, and often create a vintage looking photo that looks like it was taken decades ago. Also, snowy winter landscapes have lots of contrasting tones and textures which work very well in black and white.

Tip 3: Composing The Shot

All the same composition rules that apply to colour photography such as lead in lines and the rule of thirds also apply to black and white. But there’s a few differences in what you need to look for in the scene. For a colour photo you will usually be looking for strong, contrasting colours but for black and white you should focus more on textures and how the different colour tones will look in black and white. Some things to look out for are simple, strong shapes and very high and low key areas such as sunlight through clouds and dark shadows.

Tip 4: Contrast, Shape And Texture

For black and white photography you’re relying on a range of shades of grey, and so the larger the range, the more contrast and eye catching your image will turn out. A good image would usually have a large range of shades of grey, but a mostly high key or low key (light or dark) shot works well also. Also take note that strong contrasting colours doesn’t always translate to contrasting blacks and whites, for example reds and greens when converted tend to come out similar shades of grey. Also look out for simple shapes, which are often defined by the contrast between dark, shadowy areas and lighter areas of the photo. Texture is also an important part of black and white photography, some good subjects to include are clouds or waves breaking on a beach. Texture is best emphasized by side or backlighting (facing towards the light source), but if you use frontlighting (the light source behind you), you can often lose a lot of the texture.

Tip 5: Keep It Simple

Don’t clutter your photo with lots of unnecessary, distracting objects. Using black and white is all about removing the endless range of colours which can be distracting, and instead focusing on the simple shapes and form of your subject. This is a good tip when taking portraits, try removing any objects in the background, and blur it using a small F number then focus on the subjects face.

Tip 6: Use Colour

Always take your photos in colour, because image editing software like Photoshop can convert your photos much better than your camera. Also you have more options when editing them to adjust settings like black and white mix, which you can’t do if the camera takes them in black and white, because all the colour information is discarded. If you want to take the photo in black and white, a way around this is to set the image mode to JPEG and Raw which will give you a JPEG in black and white and a Raw file with all the original colour information.

Tip 7: Filters

To get the most out of your black and white photos it’s useful to learn when and what filters to use. When shooting in colour, a polarizer is useful for bringing out colour contrast such as clouds against a blue sky. Also very useful is an ND graduated filter, which is usually used to stop the sky from overexposing and the details being washed out. Single colour filters are a good option for bringing out more contrast, especially in the sky. They come in a range of colours such as red, orange and yellow. The red filter will give you the strongest effect by turning blue skies very dark and outputting very dramatic photos, although this can be too much for some people. The yellow filter is the weakest and doesn’t always give enough of an effect, but the orange filter should be a good choice for most scenes. If you don’t want to carry colour filters around, an alternative is to use colour filter modes, which is an option most DSLR’s give of replicating the effect of the filters in-camera.

Tip 8: Lighting

The positioning of your light source is very important because this determines if shadows are in the scene on your photo or not. Shooting towards the sun when it’s low in the sky will emphasize the long shadows your subject creates, and can act as lead in lines which is a bonus. For portrait photography generally you want back or sidelighting, because although frontlighting will fully light up the subject, you lose some of the texture and often create a more uninteresting photo. If you choose to use backlighting for your subject, depending on the position of the sun they will probably end up hidden in shadow, but a way to remedy this is to use some fill in flash although this will remove the shadows you wanted to create in the first place.

Tip 9: Flat Light

Flat light is every photographers nightmare, and for some subjects in these conditions you might not be able to get a decent shot, but if you look for light and dark contrasting areas you can still make it work. For example, mist and snow works well to create lighter areas, and rocks, footpaths and roads make a good contrast with these.

Tip 10: HDR

Black and white relies heavily on the range of tones in the image, so to make the most of this, taking a few images at different exposures and combining them will give you many more tones to work with, and this often creates a more dramatic photo. You can do this by using an in-camera setting if yours has one for taking multiple exposures, or by combining multiple exposures in Photoshop using layer blending modes.

Tip 11: ISO

In black and white there’s no right setting concerning ISO. Depending how high or low you set your ISO, you will get a more or less grainy image, with higher ISO settings giving more grain. On newer, higher end cameras this is dealt with a lot better and you would need a much higher ISO to notice any grain than on a cheaper camera. But grain can add an old, vintage look to your photo which is sometimes desirable, but once you’ve made the choice there’s no undoing it, so grain is probably best added in post production.

Tip 12: Post Production

Rarely will you achieve an acceptable image just by converting it to black and white, almost all images need at least some adjusting in editing software. Probably the most popular applications used for image editing are Photoshop and Lightroom.

Here’s a few black and white photography tips for editing your photos in Lightroom

  • Try increasing the clarity, this should bring out the details better, giving your photos a more sharp, contrasty, realistic look.
  • The black and white sliders are useful for increasing or decreasing the brightness of the blacks and whites, which is useful for getting those dark blacks and bright whites,
  • If you capture your photo in colour or RAW format, with the black and white mix you can change the tones of the blacks and whites for each colour, for example moving the red slider changes the black or white intensity of all the reds from the original colour photo.


Here’s a few black and white photography tips for editing your photos in Photoshop

  • The black and white adjustment tool is great for adjusting the brightness of each colour. This tool gives you 6 colour sliders, which you can move to make the corresponding colour lighter or darker in black and white.
  • The levels adjustment tool is useful for changing the brightness of the shadows, midtones and highlights individually, and so you can use this to make a more dramatic photo by making the shadows dark blacks and the highlights bright whites.
  • If you don’t have a newer version of Photoshop, you can use the channel mixer tool instead of the black and white adjustment tool. This tool gives you the ability to change the brightness of 3 colours- red, blue and green, but if you have a newer version the black and white adjustment tool is a better option with 6 colour sliders.