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Moment Smartphone Lens Review – UPDATED 2019 – Turn Your Phone Into A DSLR

abstract, coloured cloudsSmartphone cameras are getting better and better with every new release. They have become the most popular cameras of the time. They are feature-rich, small and continuously improving in quality. The only trouble with the smartphone camera is the availability of just one focal length. However, it is possible to get creative and enjoy the fun of smartphone photography using different lenses to capture various perspectives. Smartphone lenses can enhance the functionality further. A large number of companies manufacture smartphone lenses and one of the most popular of them is Moment which specializes at offering premium choices. It is a Seattle-based brand that offers four lenses to take your smartphone photography experience to the next level.

In this post, we review the Moment Smartphone Lens in detail and see how it can enhance your smartphone camera.

Moment Smartphone Lens Review – UPDATED 2019

Moment is a company that started in 2014 as a Kickstarter fund and has grown since then into a renowned smartphone lens manufacturer. Recently, Moment has introduced newer versions of their four lenses – Fisheye (Superfish), Wide, Macro and Tele Portrait. This update also includes an improved attachment interface with larger diameter of lenses to provide more secure attachment to phone cases.
Prices of these lenses range from $90 to $100 and you will need to buy the Moment smartphone case for attachment of the lens.

Build Quality

Each of the four lenses differs in appearance and can be easily identified at a look. They are made out of glass and metal with a durable finish. The material used is not cheap; they are constructed using aerospace grade metal and cinema-quality glass. They also feature rubber lens caps to protect the front element. Such a design is created to deliver a clear, high contrast, edge to edge, no disturbance result. They have a sleek, beautiful look with some heft that makes them appear like precious jewels. Each of them comes with a microfiber bag for storage.

Attaching to Smartphone

The lenses attach to your phone with a thin, stainless steel mounting plate that adheres to the surface. It uses a temporary adhesive. They can be mounted to the Moment case with a twist and lock system to secure firmly. It is easy to do and does not require any additional tools. Once they get locked in place, the lenses attach firmly to the phone case and would not accidentally fall off easily.

Using the Lens

Moment lenses can be used with any smartphone app and you can also download the Moment app for a better experience. This app gives you various options including selection of exposure and focus points separately, adding grid lines, manual focus, shooting in uncompressed TIF and many more. This app can prove to be really useful when using manual focus with Macro lens.
The metal plate of the lens is made to work with a smartphone case. But it is recommended to check out before buying whether your case is compatible.

Macro Lens

One of the most favorable lenses for anybody, Macro caters the feeling anybody has when starting to use smartphone photography. This lens comes with a diffuser hood which helps soften the light when you are shooting. The lens delivers great color, excellent sharpness and stunning photos which might not look like coming from smartphone. One problem with this lens is that you need to get really close to the object and the hood limits how close you can get. However, Macro is the most compact and flattest lens and offers 10x magnification. The hood can be removed when not convenient.

Wide Lens

Equivalent to 18mm, Moment Wide Lens is almost two times wider than the standard lens and is excellent for landscape photography, particularly. It is a significantly large lens with a curved design. The resulting images are sharp, clear and dynamic with great colors and no distortion or blurring on the edges.

Superfish Lens

This Moment lens is a 170-degree fisheye lens that offers the widest view-out field among all the four lenses. It features a compact, flat front-facing design. The image it produces has a fisheye appearance.

Tele Portrait Lens

The 60mm Moment lens offers about twice the focal length of smartphone cameras. The best thing about this lens is that you get a telephoto effect without the need to use the digital zoom feature of the smartphone camera that can degrade the image quality. This lens poses some trouble focusing, particularly in low-light conditions and is somewhat softer at the edges.

Pros
-The lenses are smaller compared to the DSLR and are easier to carry around
-The Wide and Macro lenses deliver impressive contrast and sharpness
-Lenses are made of very high-quality glass
-Between these four choices and the standard, you get a lot of variety to choose from

Cons
-It may not be easy to mount on all the cases and may need getting the special case
-Price is reasonable considering the build quality but can be higher for those who want to experiment

Conclusion

Moment lens are fun and easy to use. If you are really serious about smartphone photography, they are worth giving a try. However, if you are just experimenting, it is a good idea to invest in one of these initially as they are not cheap. Macro lens is the most impressive and fun choice. This lens is capable of delivering a unique perspective of almost anything and can bring a lot of entertainment for any age of user. You can also try Superfish as it offers many different, exciting ways to capture your surroundings.

Real Estate Photography Leads – 5 AMAZING Marketing Tips

houses, real estateReal Estate Photography is more a business and less photography. Breaking into the field of real estate requires business skills and awareness. It is a fun and fulfilling experience. By helping realtors showcase new listings, you become a part of the process of helping people find their dream homes.
With the growth of real estate business, real estate photography is gaining importance as a vital part of the business. Generating leads and working to retain the clients need some great marketing ideas. In this article, we outline some of the most effective real estate photography marketing ideas.

1. Social Media
Photographers who succeed in real estate field often promote their business across social media platforms. The first requirement for any photographer is to have a great website where you can create your brand and showcase your work. A portfolio and blog on the website can be center of your social media.

An active presence on different social media sites lets you drive traffic to your website where they can find more information about you and your photography. Post high-quality photos on social media platforms to catch attention. Another amazing way to market your business is paid ads. But this requires a study of audience and a well-designed marketing campaign for targeted audience. Another approach to using social media for your brand promotion is creating something viral.

2. Email Marketing
Design a targeted email marketing campaign and consider reaching clients directly. You can collect emails from the brochures you receive in your mailboxes. Consider collecting contacts from real estate websites. Start with a few personalized emails. Rather than sending faceless junk, create an email that looks like you are sending directly to the recipient.

Use the name of the agent, mention a listing that they could have done better with higher-quality photos and tell them you are local to their area. When you collect emails from websites, identify the agents who don’t have great images and those where your photos could be better.

If you are struggling to fill your portfolio, you can consider offering a free first photo shoot. This first shoot free idea is not the same as working for them for exposure. This photo shoot only gets your work in front of your potential customers.

3. Local Directories
As a photographer, your clients are mostly those located in your nearby areas. Hence, marketing your business locally is quite beneficial. You need a lot of citations or local directory listings. Lookup for such directories and join them. Your prospects are likely to go to good directories to find a photographer.
Go to such directories and study the competition. You can also try the paid membership for few months to see how it works. Each of the local directories has its own set of ranking rules and it is necessary to adjust your profile to remain on the top. While some of these sites favor good reviews, others might rank on the basis of portfolio. Some of them may be paying attention to what you did not include in your profile and this can affect your marketing efforts. Read the terms and conditions and FAQ section. You can also contact the support to make sure you do everything you can to be on the top of directory listings.

4. SEO
SEO for real estate photography is no different from other businesses. Search Engine Optimization is the way to please Google and other search engines to rank higher on their search results. It is important because it can quickly become a source of loads of links without having to do much. The problem is that SEO is not so easy to master. It can take a long time to create an SEO-friendly website which ranks for the most searched keywords.

The first step is to optimize your photography website and can be done within days or weeks using professional service. The most difficult thing is the second step- linkbuilding. Spammy backlinks from shady websites can’t help you rank higher. You need genuine links from reputable sites and some great content. You can use local citations to add your listing.

Houzz, Google Business and Yelp are some of the examples of local directories. You can also send your content to public sites and get some backlinks with resharing. You can also track people using your photos on photography sites and then ask them to credit you. Linkbuilding can also be given in the hands of professionals for some quick and effective results.

5. Presentations
This is an opportunity to get real estate business owners to the crossroads where they can compare quality real estate photographs with inferior ones. Invite some real estate agents for a lunch in a local office and use the opportunity to give a presentation or show printed examples of your professional real estate photos compared to other images with bad lighting and no post-processing.

It is really important for your clients to see the difference themselves. Do not be judgemental or critical of their listings. Let them reach conclusions. Keep your presentation casual and interact with them about typical listing. Ask them what they expect from a photographer. Try to put your feet in their shoes. Get into the details of their business because the better you understand their workflow, the better you can customize your photography services to their requirements.

We hope these real estate photography marketing ideas work for you to generate leads. Apart from these, word of mouth, physical networking and flyers are also good ways to market your business. But, remember that the quality of your real estate photos is the primary factor and it should stand out and speak for itself. That is how the word of mouth spreads from one agent to another and contributes to your business growth.

Leica C-Lux Camera Review – A High Quality Compact Camera

circles, spiral, blueA recently introduced fixed-lens camera from Leica, the C-Lux is a compact model featuring a 20 MP CMOS sensor. Designed to be a multi-purpose, compact and portable camera, the C-Lux boasts advanced features like long 15x optical zoom, 4K video recording, maximum ISO sensitivity of 25,600, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, 10fps continuous shooting, built-in electronic viewfinder and a 3-inch touchscreen LCD. With a focal range of 8.8 to 132 mm, the camera lets you capture photos in a variety of genres including wildlife, landscape, street, events and portraits.

In this post, we look at the features, performance, pros and cons of the Leica C-Lux camera to help you decide if it is the right model for you.

Design and Construction
The C-Lux comes in Leica’s classic retro design and is offered in two color options – Light Gold and Midnight Blue. The moment you hold the camera in your hand, the look and ergonomics impress you. It feels luxurious and looks attractive. It is a lightweight model at 340g and is compact enough to be carried easily in a handbag.

It has a metallic body with plastic back panel and rubberized strip on the front for grip. There is also a rubber pad at the back for resting the thumb. These grips let you use it for hours without pain or sweat. The build quality is sturdy.

Physical Features
One of the best features of the camera is the customize lens ring. The ring adjusts the focal length of the lens by default but can be customized to control the aperture value or manual focus. This is an amazing feature for those who frequently shoot in aperture priority or focus manually as it saves you time and effort spent in switching between aperture values.

A 3 inch TFT LCD touchscreen lies at the back of the camera along with the 0.21 inch LCD viewfinder. The touchscreen is quite responsive and allows you to touch and focus while capturing photos and videos. The screen also features a special repellent coating which prevents any smears and fingerprints. A pop-up flash is concealed at the top center and can be used by sliding a key. The back also consists of three function buttons to be used as per custom convenience.

Image Quality
With a range of focal length between 24mm to 360mm, the camera delivers excellent quality at both ends. The images appear to be crisp and sharp between 24 and 200 mm and get somewhat soft after 200mm focal length.

However, it gives outstanding results even at 360mm when shooting in daylight. The crispness reduces as the light decreases. This is why this camera is a good choice for you if you shoot a lot in the daytime and require a longer range of focal length. The camera optics let you shoot images in good color quality.

Low-Light Performance
The real performance test of a camera is always in low light conditions. The ISO performance of the camera is excellent up to 1600 and it offers sharp details without noise. You can notice apparent grains in the photos beyond 1600 ISO. The camera offers an amazing performance while shooting video in low light conditions. It works well even at 1600ISO.

One of the most appealing features of the C-Lux camera is its 15x zoom lens. The camera captures impressive detail at full zoom and offers quick focusing. In low light conditions, farther objects appear somewhat fuzzy and focusing takes some time.

Monochrome Mode
Considering the fact that Leica is known for its monochrome photography, it is no surprise that C-Lux impresses with its image quality in monochrome mode. With one of the best in class sensors, the camera produces completely different images capturing excellent contrast and dynamic range.

AutoFocus Performance
The innovative touch-to-focus feature is quite handy and reliable. The speed of focus is also satisfactory with minimal focus hunting in low-light conditions as well. When you use it below 200mm in low light, the camera’s focusing gets slower and hunting begins.

Features
One of the most important advantages of using a small sensor camera is the availability of fantastic features. Leica C-Lux offers useful features like choosing from various AutoFocus modes like subject tracking, Face/eye detection, custom multipoint, precision, single area and more based on what you shoot.

The burst mode of this camera works brilliantly and you also use the 4K burst shooting option for faster performance. In this mode, it captures a 4K video clip which you can later use to select the frame you would like to save as an image.

Besides standard modes of shooting, this camera offers a mode to add filters along with a ‘Scene’ mode that provides shooting presets like soft skin, black-white, etc. An integrated panorama mode stitches together multiple images automatically as you move the camera.

There are many advanced features like the option to enable zebra pattern that highlights the lesser exposed parts, ability to increment ISO and focus peaking.

Battery life is up to 370 shots on a full charge which is quite appealing for an affordable model. The lithium battery is stored at the base of the camera and can be charged using the USB cable. Social media enthusiasts will love the camera for its ability to transfer photos and videos to sharing platforms instantly through Bluetooth and Wi-Fi using a dedicated app.

Pros
-Impressive zoom range
-Good quality of image and video in daylight
-Stylish retro design
-Useful features

Cons
-Not so accurate EVF
-Average performance in low-light conditions
-Fixed display
-Somewhat expensive

Conclusion
With excellent performance and stylish design, Leica C-Lux makes a great option for frequent travelers who want a compact camera to carry with them for most of their photography jobs. If you like Leica brand and clicking in monochrome, C-Lux is the ideal choice for you.

sRGB vs Adobe RGB vs ProPhoto RGB – Color Spaces Explained

colour blocksYou might have sometimes noticed that the colors of a photo you export and upload on the web look off your monitor. A sure reason for this effect is the Color Space of the picture. Color Spaces form some of the most essential parts of photography and apply to every photo captured in some way or the other.

The most commonly-used color spaces are sRGB, Adobe RGB and ProPhoto RGB. A basic understanding of what these color spaces are and how they work is necessary to get your color management fundamentals right and result in high-quality prints of your artistic photographs. In this post, we explain the most-used color spaces and see what makes them so important.

What are sRGB, Adobe RGB and ProPhoto RGB?
These are three of the most frequently used color spaces in photography. Moreover, Color Spaces is a rather simple term used to mean a container – a set of colors. Consider, for example, that you have two colors and a white canvas, your color space is simply the colors you can create using the two paints.

This also covers painting lightly to show some of the white canvas. You can think of color spaces as a set of all the colors people can envision. sRGB’s color gamut makes only 35% of the visible colors as specified by CIE Lab Color Space.

sRGB
The standardized RGB color space, sRGB is created to provide a standard working space for different types of display units including television, printers, monitors and cameras. sRGB is introduced by co-operation of Microsoft and HP as the standard working color space to ensure consistency of colors across devices. It is the default color space and makes the color-reproduction process easier. sRGB offers a common working space and allows creating acceptable results even when color management is not considered.

sRGB has the smallest gamut of colors meaning it has a comparatively smaller range of colors to work with despite being accepted as the standardized working space. It is the right working space for digital photographs viewed on monitors or to be uploaded to the web.

Adobe RGB
Introduced by Adobe, Adobe RGB is the working color space with a wider gamut than sRGB. It makes about 50 percent of the visible colors as specified by CIE. Adobe RGB is known to extend the color capabilities of sRGB to create rich greens and cyans. This color space was particularly created for photographers as it allows reproducing accurate colors in their prints. Though the color gamut of Adobe RGB is wider than the display capabilities of popular display units, some modern inkjet printers support the Adobe RGB gamut to make it possible outputting them.

ProPhoto RGB
Developed by Kodak, ProPhoto RGB was intended to provide a bigger ground to the photographers when they reproduce true colors. This color space encompasses 100 percent of the visible colors in real life. Its color gamut extends beyond the visible range specified by CIE. While sRGB and Adobe RGB represent the visual color ranges, ProPhoto RGB covers a set of imaginary colors too.

The wider gamut of colors utilized by ProPhoto RGB makes it possible to retain optimum data your camera captures. When you use ProPhoto RGB as your working color space, you can rest assure that all the original colors are present in the image without any conversion or remapping even though you cannot see the color range on the display unit. There are no monitors or printers capable of outputting this color space. Thus, it is recommended that you convert to the target color space before using an image in the medium of your choice. If your printer is capable of printing in something beyond Adobe RGB range, it is a nice idea to use ProPhoto RGB to retain the photo’s original colors.

sRGB Vs Adobe RGB Vs ProPhoto RGB – Which is the Best?
Each of the three working spaces has its own unique attributes making it suitable for some particular medium. The question is which color space you should use. While selecting Adobe RGB or ProPhoto RGB enables the photographer to retain and recreate the color information in the output as in the original image, sRGB clips the information to standard RGB.

Firstly, it is a fact that you should consider exporting photos to the internet or clients in sRGB to view them well on computer monitors which use color spaces resembling sRGB space. sRGB images look less bad when viewed using an app without color management. If you interpret a ProPhoto image on a non-color-managed program with such a monitor, it would appear to be low contrast and dull. So it is advisable to export in sRGB for client and web photos.

Next, it is not a good idea to use sRGB for editing photos. This would lead to color clipping for no reason. However, don’t forget to convert images to sRGB when uploading to the web. Lastly, don’t allow an Adobe RGB or ProPhoto RGB image to go out into the world. This is an essential step to include in any photography workflow.

ProPhoto RGB is an ideal working color space for most images. When editing an image in ProPhoto RGB, you reduce the risk of unnecessary color clipping. You should be careful not to send or publish a ProPhoto image. If your working space is ProPhoto RGB, you might save an image to this space accidentally. But if somebody sees the file in an application without color management, it will be seen as dull and strange. Therefore, it is a big mistake to send your clients a collection of ProPhoto RGB photos. They would, at some time or the other, open the pictures on any old application with no color management to get the impression that you have ruined the entire photo session. This is true for Adobe RGB to some extent. Though the colors will not look so bad on most monitors, you should avoid using this color space too. Always export in sRGB!

If you have a monitor or printer with wide-gamut, Adobe RGB can be useful. If your client has such a system in place and requests the files in Adobe RGB, you can do that. This is a good way to get the output in a better-looking appearance and to get the print matching the original image.

Conclusion
Many photographers don’t understand the meaning and applications of sRGB, Adobe RGB and ProPhoto RGB. It is actually one of the lesser-comprehended topics though highly important. But with this tutorial, you should have a good understanding of it and should be able to avoid the mistakes about using the right color spaces.

Macphun’s Aurora HDR Pro Review – Updated 2019

camera, handsThe Macphun Aurora HDR 2018 is the latest iteration of the Macphun photo editing software, Aurora HDR. While this version boasts a great number of features, its primary purpose remains to be utilising HDR techniques to customise photos and produce high quality, dramatic images.

For those of you who are unaware or unsure as to what HDR, or ‘High Dynamic Range’ implies, imagine the typical plight one faces when in front of a beautiful sunset. In an attempt to capture its beauty before it fades away, the viewer whips out their camera phone to take a picture only to find that the colours on camera are duller and don’t capture the real essence of the view in person. This is due to the limited dynamic range of even the best of modern cameras. HDR is basically the correction of images with limited dynamic range by taking multiple images and merging them together to create a more dynamic image such as what we see in real life.

This would have been a complicated process to undertake before, especially in making realistic looking images that aren’t oversaturated, but has become much easier to use and understand, in large part thanks to developers like Macphun for creating Aurora HDR. On board the Macphun team is a master of HDR techniques, Trey Ratcliff, who has helped enormously with the features seen on the program today. To prevent the user from treading the fine line between ‘vibrant’ and ‘oversaturated’, the new version of Aurora HDR has a tone mapping engine shown in the new HDR Basic panel. This panel is equipped with all the basic tools needed to create a life-like image.

The other new features Aurora HDR 2018 has introduced, aside from tone mapping, since its 2017 predecessor are:

-Availability on both Mac and Windows, as opposed to its earlier versions which were only available on a Mac. The Mac version is now also equipped with Touch Bar support for faster access to editing features

-A new user interface that is meant to provide a more responsive and easygoing experience for its users in their photo-editing endeavours

-A history panel: this will show the user each change made on to the image in descending order for easier reference as to which parts they may wish to go back to

-A lens correction tool to get rid of distortions on the lens captured in the picture

-A transform tool to easily manipulate the image

-An HDR Enhance Filter to adjust elements such as colour, clarity, and contrast

-And improvements on speed, RAW handling, cropping options, and an improved structure algorithm

Though most of the above features are evident enough when going through the program, the question of whether it actually delivers a better photo editing experience as opposed to its predecessors is what we shall explore here.

Let’s start first with the new Windows platform version of this editor.

Making the program available to Windows users is definitely a step in the right direction, though there are still a lot of issues to sort out before these users can fully experience what Aurora HDR has to offer. For starters, several of the tools such as the transform tool, the lens correction tool, and the image flip and rotate were not available at launch, while other features will be added at an indefinite date.

As for the performance and speed of this update, though there is a general improvement of about 9 seconds in loading time, it still isn’t necessarily “fast”. Though this is still a significant improvement considering the fact that the images and application itself are quite large files that take time to load and set up. Some image files can even go up to 800 MB.

Perhaps the greatest improvement introduced by Aurora would be their tone mapping features. Though the changes may not seem entirely noticeable to the untrained eye, these manual adjustment tools allow for reduction in noise, which make that unsightly glowing ‘halo’ effect around objects in the picture. If you’d prefer a glowing radiant effect, but one that’s more precise, there is an Image Radiance and Glow panel. The HDR basic panel provides a great starting point for photo editing, with many fine tuning options like the Smart Tone slider, which lifts dark shadow details. Or the HDR Structure Panel which takes care of photo definition on micro or macro levels. The HDR Details Boost panel allows the user to adjust details on a small, medium, and large scale.

On the other hand, the layers and masking features should not go unnoticed. For beginners, or professionals in need of a quick, go-to edit, the pre-existing layers can be added on to any image and adjusted using opacity, blending and masking tools. If you’re editing photos in a series that all require the same mood and lighting effects, a layer filter could provide a quick fix without the redundancy of manually editing each picture in the series. You can add as many layers as you wish on to your photos just as you would on Photoshop.

The presets provided and designed by Macphun and Trey themselves range from Basic, Architecture, Landscape and Dramatic so the person who’s just getting into photo editing can get a hint of what it is they’re looking to emulate in their own pictures

The great thing about Aurora that sets it apart from mainstream photo editing platforms such as Photoshop and Lightroom is that aside from offering mere colour and lighting adjustments such as hue and saturation, it offers access to all the Manual HDR panels. If Photoshop or Lightroom are still your preferred mode of operation, Aurora HDR is also available as a plug-in to these programs to be used as a supplementing force.

Overall, the Aurora HDR Pro is definitely worth looking into. If you are unsure as to whether you want to invest in it, there is a 15-day free trial period which you are encouraged to check out if you are seriously looking into making your photographs more commercially viable.

Hyperfocal Focusing – What Is It & How To Use It?

bridge, river, treesSometimes when you shoot a landscape, you desire that everything from the front to the back of the site is sharp. One way to achieve this is using a smaller aperture but it limits the maximum depth of field which can be attained using Hyperfocal Focusing. It is essentially one of the most effective techniques to get the sharpest photo with the optimum depth of field.

Hyperfocal Focusing is, in other words, using every bit of the photo’s focal range to your edge for an ultra-sharp image with the widest depth of field. However, to use Hyperfocal Focusing, you need to learn calculating the hyperfocal distance, the point between the foreground and the background of a scene. In this article, you will learn what is Hyperfocal Focusing, when and how to use the technique and what you should consider while working with it.

What is Hyperfocal Focusing?
Hyperfocal Focusing is based on the technique of using every bit of a photo’s focal range to your benefit. You might know that every photo has a distance range where it appears sharp. If you shoot at an aperture of f/1.8 for instance, there is a range consisting of few millimeters on the two sides of the focal point which appear sharp.

When you shoot at f/11, you will have a distance of few feet before and after this point that appears sharp. Using aperture, it is possible to shoot a photo where objects at different distances look sharp. This technique implies that the focal point you use for manual or automatic focus has a range before and after the point which looks acceptably sharp.

To take maximum advantage of this range, it is essential that you use the distance on both the sides of the focal point. Consider you are capturing a group of three lines of people. It suggests that you place your focal point on a person in the middle line. Instead, if you focus on the first line, half of your focal range will be unused in the front.

When you focus in the centre, the closest distance of the range will cover the front line and still the farthest portion of the focal range will capture the back line to result in all the three lines appearing sharp.

What is HyperFocal Distance?
In the simplest terms, Hyperfocal Distance is the exact focusing distance which can deliver the greatest depth of field to your photos. The technical definition of this term suggests the closest focusing distance allowing objects located at infinity to appear to be acceptably sharp. Infinity means any distant object like the stars.

Hyperfocal Distance is based on the concept explained in the above example, with a difference that the focus is set in such a way that the maximum distance ends at infinity instead of the middle line. Focusing at the infinite distance captures the sharpest possible background. Thus, when you set your other end of the focal range at infinity, you not only get a sharp background but can also use the remaining portion of the range to have other sharp details.

Hyperfocal Distance aims to use every bit of the focal range and hence makes an effective technique to achieve maximum sharpness when capturing landscape scenes. It can also be used in any photo where you want the background and other elements to be sharp.

Hyperfocal distance enables you to get the most out of the focal range created by your aperture. This means that you can achieve incredibly sharp landscape photos at any aperture or capture a poorly-lit landscape in absence of a tripod.

How to Use Hyperfocal Focusing?
There are three ways to use this technique in your photos. The first is a method that works in a similar way but isn’t the exact definition of hyperfocal focusing, the second is a simple, less precise method and the third is a math-related, more complex way.

The simplest option to using Hyperfocal Focusing is used by many photographers. It is a generalized concept based on the hyperfocal distance but doesn’t involve the exact hyperfocal distance. For such a method, the rule of thumb is that you should focus on a point 1/3th of the distance to the image to capture a sharp image on any scene. This method isn’t the perfect use of hyperfocal distance but leaves most parts of the image sharp. This is a good way to implement the hyperfocal focusing technique at the beginner level.

The second method is also still not precise but is a good implementation of hyperfocal focusing as it gives a really sharp background. You begin with switching to manual focus and move it to infinity. Then, you pull the focus gradually back keeping an eye on the background. When you see that the background starts fuzzing, you stop and move it back again until you see it sharp and then shoot. This is an excellent method to use hyperfocal focusing to get sharp landscape photos without getting into numbers.

Lastly, when the tiniest distance counts, you can use the third option to calculate the exact hyperfocal distance precisely. However, calculating this distance involves consideration of many factors. There are online calculators which provide a simple way to calculate the hyperfocal distance. Once calculated, you can set the focus manually to this number and achieve the maximum sharpness from the chosen aperture.

Now that you know what Hyperfocal Focusing is and how to use it, you can use it to capture a photo where you want a sharp background. However, before using this technique, it is necessary to make sure that the background of the image is really sharp. In cases where the foreground has more prominent details than the background, this technique isn’t the best option. Hyperfocal Focusing can be a highly useful method and proves to be beneficial outside the landscape category.

We hope this tutorial helps you learn using the Hyperfocal Focusing method to achieve optimum sharpness and depth of field wherever you desire.

Slow Speed Sync Photography – A Complete Guide

camera, lensWhen using camera flash in low-light or other challenging lighting conditions you will require a proper exposure. Most of the times when you don’t get sufficient light, you would lower the shutter speed. However, at a specific point, you encounter camera shake and the motion blur ruins the photo. In such a case, you are compelled to use the standard flash.

There exists a third alternative and that is slow speed sync flash. It is a powerful technique that enhances flash photography. Though it sounds technical, it is really simple to use and can prove to be quite beneficial in certain situations. In this guide, we discuss what slow speed sync is, how to use it and when it is helpful.

What is Slow Speed Sync Flash?
Slow speed sync is a feature commonly available on a variety of digital cameras which enable you to fire flash at lower shutter speeds. Slow speed sync flash enables you to shoot in a number of low-light conditions to open up new possibilities for you. Using slow speed sync, you get a nicely illuminated subject or foreground while getting low ambient light in the frame.

Many digital cameras allow setting slow speed sync manually. Compact cameras also have a slow speed sync mode but known by names like ‘Night Mode’ or ‘Party Mode’. By firing the flash, you can freeze the motion to collect light trails in the remaining time, resulting in a cool effect.

How Slow Speed Sync Works?
Slow speed sync flash allows selecting the synchronization of shutter speed and the duration of flash. When using slow speed sync, the shutter remains open for a much longer time to allow more light for the exposure. The flash fires at a particular moment during the exposure and the duration is quite shorter than the shutter speed in normal flash mode.

Flash photography generally freezes the image and the extended shutter speed blurs out the background but the image is quite illuminated and very sharp because of the flash. It is possible to use smaller apertures to ensure higher sharpness in the final image.

When to Use Slow Speed Sync Flash?
Whenever you feel that normal flash will not give you the desired image, you can use slow speed sync flash. Due to lower shutter speeds with slow speed sync flash, you will need to stabilize the camera to avoid shake. It is advisable to use a monopod or tripod with slow speed sync flash and you can even consider using a cable release to prevent camera shake to the optimum.

Low Light
Consider a situation where you want to take a photo of some friends standing in front of a scenery at night. In this case, you can either use the flash to illuminate your friends and get black background or use slow shutter speed to capture the background but get blurry friends. Either way is not ideal. This is where slow speed sync flash comes into picture and gives you the best of both the worlds. You can use slow shutter speed to expose the background and use a flash to capture the friends in accurate detail.

Fast Motion
Another common application of slow speed sync flash is sports and action photos. It not only helps you shoot in optimum detail but also enables getting motion blur to achieve a sense of speed. This is quite pleasant than the static effect achieved with a normal flash.
As the subject is moving, the setting of flash curtain makes a difference. The best option is Rear curtain because it freezes the subject towards the end of the motion with a blur behind. This gives a photo a natural sense of movement.

On the other hand, front curtain freezes the subject at the beginning with a blur in the front. This can look somewhat unnatural but interesting. Here, you will be able to use faster shutter speed than with low light photography so you need not use a tripod. You can always play around with exposure lengths to see the effects on the amount of motion blur you get.

What is Rear and Front Curtain Sync?
As you set the camera for slow speed sync flash, you are presented with two options – rear and front curtain sync. This choice lets you tell the camera when you want the flash. This can either be the front curtain moving at the start of the exposure or the rear curtain moving at the end of the exposure.

These modes give different final results. Front curtain sync tends to light up the subject and get ambient light while rear curtain sync gives a faint image trail. You can play around with the options to determine the properties of each curtain sync mode. This will also give you higher proficiency at using the tools available to you.

Conclusion
Slow speed sync flash provides a lot of creative options when you shoot indoors or at night and it is an excellent way to avoid uninspired images which are likely to occur when using standard flash. Slow speed sync flash enhances the possibilities with flash photography by allowing you to capture motion that generally misses using a traditional flash. Slow speed sync photography also lets you achieve an illuminated background without having to compromise on the depth of field.

Multiple Exposure Effect Photoshop – Create Stunning Images With Ease

camera, plantYou may have seen an interesting effect of two or more overlapping photos in magazines, advertisements and on music album covers. When you work with multiple photos to create something unique, a multiple exposure effect is the way. It is essentially a combination of two or more exposures to create one image.

The multiple exposure effect is created by photographers using their camera to combine multiple photographs resulting in an abstract and surreal image. It is possible to recreate a similar effect with the help of modern software as well. Photoshop has a Multiple Exposure Effect that lets you create a wonderful effect with your image in seconds.

Here is a step by step tutorial to help you create stunning images with the multiple exposure effect in Photoshop.

Preparing the Main Photo
To kick start your creativity using the multiple exposure effect in Photoshop, try playing with contrasting or opposing concepts. To get started, open your first image. This will be the base image on which you will compose the other images.

When you open the image, it is a background layer that is locked. Next, duplicate the image by selecting ‘Duplicate Layer’ option from the Layer menu. You can click and drag the image to the ‘Create New Layer’ button on the Layers panel. After doing this, you have two identical images on top of one another, in two layers.

Adding the Second Image
The next step is to drag and drop the second photo on the canvas. Drag-drop is a better option to copy-paste because this way it is added as a smart object and can be made smaller or bigger any number of times without loss of quality.

Click on OK to add the photo as a layer. It will be dropped on the top by default. Now, click on the layer you just added, containing the second image and drag it in such a way that it lies between the two already existing layers. At this time, you see the first image while the other is hidden.

Adjusting the Blend Mode
Click on the top layer which is the copy of your background. Now, go to the Layer panel and open the drop-down menu containing the Blending options. Click on ‘Screen Mode’ to see the mixture of two photos.

Remember that the result can change to a great extent on the basis of the colors of the two images you have because Photoshop uses this to mix the images.

Adjusting to your Liking
Following these steps does not actually give the results you are looking for. To achieve the desired result, click on the layer containing the second image and alter it until you are happy. Go to Menu – Edit – Transform to change the image size.

You can use the Move tool from the Toolbox to drag it and use the Filters tool from Menu to add filters. You can also adjust the settings by adding Adjustment Layers. Play around with the tools until you get a satisfactory outcome.

Masking Unwanted Pieces
When you have decided on the ultimate image, create a layer mask on the layer by selecting Add Layer Mask option from the panel. While keeping the mask selected, use the Brush tool to paint black in the portions where you don’t want the image to show.

This works just like an eraser but prevents loss of pixels. The great thing about masks is that they hide things. In case you make a mistake, you just have to change your brush to white color and paint back.

Repeat this process with any number of photos you want to add. You can even create a blank canvas with smaller pieces by combining multiple images on the blank negative. You can achieve this by selecting Menu – File – New and setting the size and resolution for the canvas and following the above-mentioned steps.

A Trendy Twist with Multiple Exposure Effect
Adding a small twist to multiple exposures makes it trendy. You must have seen images of multiple exposures which are silhouettes with the second image inside it. You can achieve this with the same technique by just adding an additional step. Open the first image in Photoshop and duplicate your background layer once again.

Choose your background on this copy using the tool of your choice according to the image. With a white background, you can use a Magic Wand to quickly select the image. If you have a more busy background, you may need to use a Pen tool or a combination of tools.

Once you have selected the background, go to Fill option from the Edit menu and select White color. Next, drag and drop the second image as you did previously to make it a new layer. Then, drag it and place it in between the two layers. It is now completely covered and you can click on the copy of the background to select the layer and apply the ‘Screen Mode’.

Adjust the second image and create layer mask to paint the unwanted areas in black. Your multiple exposure effect image is ready. With these simple steps, you can create a stylish multiple exposure portrait with multiple images and create an interesting surreal effect.

10 Essential Lightroom Plugins You Shouldn’t Be Working Without

camera, laptop, desk, lightroomLightroom has become one of the most essential parts of a photographer’s workflow. It is a highly useful tool from Adobe which is easy to use, powerful and helps make photos come to life. With its visual editing and image processing abilities, Lightroom serves as a key tool a photographer should have in his tool bag.

It is possible to make the tool easier to use and more powerful with the help of plugins. You can extend Lightroom’s capabilities using third-party plugins and add a new dynamic to the editing process.

In this article, we discuss ten essential Lightroom plugins which you should be using.

1. Fader
One of the most commonly used Lightroom plugins, the Fader is a preset opacity slider program. It proves to be much beneficial when working with presets. Fader actually works as the master slider which controls all the tools within Lightroom. Instead of the static ‘100% only’ presets, the plugin allows choosing dynamically how much of the preset you want to apply. As it goes up to 150%, you can over process the processing as well.
The Fader works by applying a faded preset dynamically. It does not alter any existing presets. It computes the new values and moves the sliders for you. It is a simple and powerful way to adjust the strength of all presets with a single slider. Just open the Fader, select the preset you want to work with and use the opacity slider to increase or decrease its strength.

2. LRTimelapse
Another excellent Lightroom plugin is LRTimelapse which provides a comprehensive solution for time lapse editing, grading, keyframing and rendering. Those who create time lapse videos will need a simple way to edit the images in batches to avoid doing them one by one.
Regardless of the system you use, the plugin integrates seamlessly with your Lightroom to let you create keyframes which you can edit in Lightroom. These edits are exported to LRTimelapse and used automatically to edit other time-lapse photos into video.

3. Focus Mask
Designed by Capture Monkey, the Focus Mask plugin does only one thing but does it pretty well. It highlights the parts of the photo that are in focus. This lets you select the best shot between multiple images at a single glance. Depending on your selection, the tool works with single or multiple images with the number of maximum images restricted to 32.
A red mask on the top of every image indicates areas with the most detail. This is a good indication of how sharp your image is. With multiple photos, Focus Mask can help you instantly pick a clear winner.

4. DxO Optics Pro
Providing an excellent ‘one-click fixes’ capability, DxO Optics Pro is a powerful Lightroom plugin that lets you enjoy the specialized fixes which are better than auto-fixes. The tool also features a smart lighting technology that makes the image stand out in case the film and lens fail to capture the real beauty of the moment.
It specializes at separating shadows from light and helps target particular areas to lighten up. It also offers ‘clear view’ and sharpening tools to sharpen blurred edges and cut out the atmosphere between the subject and the camera, giving a cleaner, clearer view with more details.

5. Topaz Adjust
Focusing largely on color correction and manipulation, Topaz Adjust is another powerful and useful Lightroom plugin. The tool features Global Adjustment with a set of basic tools to adjust color, detail, exposure and noise.
Local Adjustments let you apply image adjustments selectively using an advanced brush and Finishing Touches allow applying important finishing touches to the image including vignettes, toning, grain and others. Topaz Adjust uncovers the nuances hidden by the film and brings out the details to make the photo spectacular. It relies on detail, contrast and color to bring back the images to life.

6. Hypertyle
An amazing filter plugin for Lightroom, Hypertyle makes it possible to apply more than twenty different filters to a photo. It allows generating surface, texture, edge, transparency, erosion, shadow effects, frame and other effects giving you unlimited possibilities. You can also apply secondary effects like metal, zoom, rotation, warp, pop-art, noise, blur and others.
Hypertyle plugin goes deeper than the filters offered by Instagram and other programs and it gives you much better control over what happens and a high-quality resulting image. With more than 110 presets and 1200 seamless photo, painting and synthetic textures included, the tool allows enhancing the photos to the best possible.

7. LR Backup
The plugin does what it says – back up the catalog of Lightroom. LR Backup does this by adding the functionality of backing up the configuration files, scheduling the catalog backup for the next shutdown and compressing the catalog backups. The plugin also gives you some additional features which the standard backup tool doesn’t provide.
Having a backup of the catalog is important as it contains the record of each edit you make to the images. LR Backup allows making manual backups of the Lightroom catalog without having to exit the application. What makes the tool really useful is its ability to schedule catalog backups. It compresses the backup to about 10 percent of the original size which is specifically important when you have a huge database of edited photos.

8. Lightroom to Instagram
A publish plugin for Lightroom, Lightroom to Instagram allows posting photos directly to the Instagram account. Simply install the plugin and add your account to start uploading photos right from the Lightroom interface. You can drag the photos to the publish collection and choose ‘Publish’ option to upload to your Instagram account.
You can also add hashtags to caption, use crop and padding to make the photos perfect. You can use multiple Instagram accounts to publish to by creating different publish collections. There is no simpler and faster way to publish from Lightroom to Instagram!

9. Keyboard Tamer
Designed to give some Lightroom personalization capability, the Keyboard Tamer plugin allows users to make the commands suited to personalized workflow habits. It lets you redefine most of the Lightroom shortcuts and create new shortcuts for functions.
This plugin is sure to be useful to those who wish to streamline the workflow and find it difficult remembering the exact keyboard commands for different tools.

10. Macphun
The Macphun apps is a set of photo editing tools which can be used as Lightroom plugins and standalone tools. One of the most useful and versatile apps in the set is the Creative Kit which contains tools to manage:

-Focus – To handle blur effects

-Tonality – To help with black & white conversion

-Intensify – To enhance fine details

-Snapheal – To remove objects

-Noiseless – To get noise reduction

-FX Photo Studio – A set of filters for instant effects

These tools help streamline the process of editing photos and make the most of the Lightroom capabilities.

Creating Digital Cyanotype Using Photoshop – A Complete Guide

flower, blue, roseCyanotype photography is a highly popular film printing technique which gives a beautiful and appealing, cyan-colored tone to a photo. It was discovered in 1842 by an English scientist Sir John Herschel and used as a tool to reproduce notes and diagrams. The technique was later used by designers and architects to create blue prints.

Creating cyanotype print in earlier days required working with chemicals and using complex processes like contact printing. With the introduction of Adobe Photoshop, these techniques became obsolete. These days, you need not go back to darkroom or work with materials to create a cyanotype. In this post, we see how we can create a digital cyanotype using Photoshop.

Creating digital cyanotype using Photoshop is quite easy and there are numerous ways to do it. Here is the simplest method:

Step 1:
Open Photoshop and pick the Brush tool from the Toolbox. You can choose the type and size of the brush. Now the Options Bar will be active and you can select your color. To have the effect emulate brushstroke rather than a pen, choose a brush with a wide tip.

Use black color initially as the tone is later applied. As the original method used manual techniques, uneven brushstrokes give a nice look. The size of the brush depends on the size of your document.

A photo with black or dark background is easy to blend. But you can use almost any image of your choice. As a cyanotype is achieved by applying light-sensitive emulsion on the paper or surface we print on, the most important essential is a background mimicking the effect. If you are crafty enough, you can buy some paint and brush and create the background yourself.

Scan it and adjust the size and resolution which fits the image you are willing to use. If not, you can make your background digitally as shown here. As we are creating a digital cyanotype, we are using the second method for the background.

Step 2:
Next, open the photo you want to convert into a Cyanotype. Apply some filters to desaturate the image. Go to Hue/Saturation option in Adjustment menu and slide the Saturation slider to the left.

Drag this image to the canvas where you have made the background with brushstrokes. It will get applied as a new layer in the document. Use the corner handles to adjust it to the right size for the background. Then, click on the check mark to get the adjustments applied.

Step 3:
In this step, select the brushstrokes background layer and add the Levels adjustment layer. Adjust the middle tones and black tone to lighten the color such that black turns somewhat dark grey.

Step 4:
In the next step, select the top layer with the image and add an Adjustment layer. Choose Color Balance for this layer. You can make different combinations to get the right shade of blue you desire.

Step 5:
When you have achieved a satisfactory color for your image, consider adding another Adjustment layer to make it less intense. Remember to keep the top layer always selected to ensure that the new layer of adjustment masks all other layers.

Now add a layer of Hue/Saturation and slide the slider to the left. See that you don’t go too much towards the grey otherwise it may not resemble cyanotype then.

Step 6:
In case, the borders of your pasted image are visible, the balance is not right and is not incorporating into the background. Change the Blending Mode for layer to fix the problem. Select the image layer and open Blending Mode menu.

Select Screen or Lighten to get a better result. If you still find some border, use the Eraser tool and reduce the opacity. Select a brush having soft borders and use it to erase for border defusion and make the transition smoother.

After following these steps, you should get your cyanotype. Almost any kind of photo works well with cyanotype look. Though simple images work the best, you can try the technique with different images and find out. The good thing is that creating digital cyanotype with photoshop is easy and doesn’t involve working with chemicals. We hope this tutorial proves to be helpful. Do share your experiences and results in the comments section below.