Category Archives: Jl Photography

Game photography with HDR

Shooting landscapes is the dream of most people who hold a camera, and for good reason – their sheer beauty and depth can create a very dramatic photograph.

But photographing these amazing scenes can be tricky. Often a single exposure won’t capture the entire range of light in a landscape scene, and your photo may look a little flat. By shooting brackets and then using HDR techniques to create your photo, you have the opportunity to bring that scene to life. While HDR photos can be edgy and intense, you can also create serene, beautiful HDR photos by using the technique in a subtle way.

All of these are HDR photos which were built and edited in Aurora HDR 2017 by Macphun, which is the most powerful HDR software available. If you aren’t familiar with Aurora or HDR photography, you can find a wealth of information, training videos and tutorials on the Macphun website.

Chase The Right Light

In landscape photography, it’s often all about the light. The best light can come at sunrise, although of course sunset is usually most popular (since it doesn’t require a wakeup call). Regardless of whether you get up early for sunrise or show up for sunset, keep in mind that these are the times of day when the light is best, and better light results in better photos. Bright, overhead midday sun is less likely to produce a beautiful and dramatic shot.

Add A Human Element For Scale

Although we assume a landscape photo will not have any people in it, if you do add a human element it can lend a great sense of scale to the photo. When you just see the landscape, we don’t always recognize the sheer enormity of a place. Add in a human element and it becomes quite clear.

Find Natural Lines In Nature

In cityscapes, lines abound and it is generally easy to find something to lead your eye through the image. But in nature, it can be a bit trickier. Using a leading line can add emotional depth to a photo and give the viewer a sense of walking into the frame.

Field-Testing the K&F Concept Large Professional Camera Backpack

K&F Concept is a company that has been around the world of photography since 2011 but admittedly has flown beneath my radar. That was until I was approached about evaluating some of the gear they offer.

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve put this bag through it’s paces. The bag or, more accurately a backpack, was tested during some outdoor photography outings and during day to day shooting. It looks outstanding and has some great features that real-world photographers will appreciate.

The Basics

First of all, if you’re the type of shooter who insists that form just as important as function then you will love this pack. The material is a weathered texture and resembles the look and feel of old denim jeans. The color is a blueish-gray with accents being black faux leather.

The entire package is stylish and utilitarian without looking drab or plain by any means. Overall the appearance and feel of the construction is overtly heavy duty yet refined.

All the zippers and buckles are large and work smoothly. There are also grabbers at the end of each zipper for easy handling even if you’re wearing gloves. There’s not much to say about zippers and buckles on camera bags except whether they work well or they don’t… and these do.

Something I noticed immediately was the bottom of the bag, which is also covered in the faux leather material.

This is a great feature and here’s why. When out shooting and you shove off your bag the first thing to often make contact with the ground is the bottom of the pack or bag. The extra protection provided by this material greatly increases the life and wear of the pack. A great feature for those who intend to really use this bag. However, one thing I would like to have saw included would have been a built-in rainfly for sudden rain showers. The material itself seems as if it would likely shed a moderate amount of moisture but the added security of a rainproof barrier is always welcomed.

At the top of the bag is a padded carry handle that makes unshouldered transport a breeze.

Landscape Photography

Whether you’re a professional photographer or a budding hobbyist, one of the many challenges you might face is choosing the perfect subject for landscape photography.

Given the abundance of natural splendor that’s available, it can be difficult to focus on an appropriate subject for your landscape photography. These tips should help you capture beautiful images of scenic landscapes.

Brainstorm

Regardless of where you live, there are probably some really great landscape scenes nearby. Take a drive around the countryside and keep your eyes open for possibility. Perhaps there’s an old farmhouse or beautiful creek that runs near your home. Odds are, you’ve already passed a hundred suitable spots in your daily life. Take the time to think of some of the places where you’ve gone for walks or a drive.

Make a list of possible places and ask your friends if they have ideas. Try scouting potential areas at different times of day to see what the natural play of the sunlight brings out. Scenes change as the sun moves across the land. Something ordinary can become extraordinary with just a shift of light.

Don’t Be Afraid To Follow The Footsteps of Others



Take some time to look at what the landscape photography pros have done in the past. This is particularly helpful if the photographer lives in your general area. Don’t be afraid to look at their shots of local landscapes and think of ways you can improve on what they’ve done.

The same subject from a slightly different angle can become something entirely new and different. If their contact information is available, reach out and ask if the photographer has any special places they’d be willing to share.

If you are going on a trip, look up photographers in that area and check out their galleries. The internet is a wonderful place to find ideas for photography. With just a few key strokes, you can come up with places that others have photographed and get a pretty good idea of how those photos turned out. Some photographers plan an entire vacation around landscape opportunities.

Photograph Challenging Types of Light

Something I go on and on about is how photography is all about light – that’s no secret. Without light, there is no image. As photographers we’re used to looking for an interesting subject to shoot, but consideration always needs to be taken as to the type of light you’re dealing with.

Midday Sun

Undoubtedly one of the most challenging types of light to shoot with, midday sun is when the sun is at its highest position, sitting directly overhead. The resulting light creates very hard shadows, which are almost impossible for your camera to penetrate. Most of the time, photographers will try and avoid shooting at this time of day but sometimes it may be inevitable.

The easiest way to work with this type of light is to use fill-flash – a short burst of flash from your flashgun or, if your camera has one, by firing its pop-up flash. This will help to fill in the shadows. You can also use a reflector to help fill in the shadows, although this won’t be as effective as the flash.

Bright Overcast Skies

Whilst this sort of light can produce dramatic images if handled correctly, it can be tricky to master. The main problem is that the sky can be hard to meter, as the contrast between brightness and overcast can fool the camera into underexposing the image. Alternatively you can end up with blown-out parts of the sky when the camera has metered for the scene as a whole.

The simplest way to deal with this problem is to invest in a graduated neutral density (ND) filter. By positioning the dark half of the filter over the sky you’ll let less light into the lens on this half of the image. This means that you can meter correctly for the land, whilst also keeping the sky correctly exposed. ND filters come in different aperture strengths (e.g. 2, 4, 6), allowing you to choose the one most suitable for the lighting requirements.

Backlight

When you position your subject in front of the light, you create backlighting. And if you don’t meter properly for this situation, you’ll end up with a silhouette or an under-exposed subject. This is due to your camera trying to compensate for the bright light in the background.

You’ve got two options to solve this problem. One is to switch to centre-weighted or spot metering mode, allowing you to meter specifically for your subject. Alternatively you can use a flashgun to put light onto your subject and balance out the light with the background.

Low light

Low light presents its own unique challenges, especially when shooting landscapes. Obviously, a landscape requires a large depth of field but this means a small aperture. The usual solution to this problem is to use a long exposure and put your camera on a tripod. The problem is, of course, if you’re out and about without a tripod and spot a great shot. A way around this is to push your ISO to a higher sensitivity.

Modern cameras allow you to push your ISO further, meaning that you can get acceptable results up to ISO 3200 / 6400. The important thing here is to know how far you can push your own camera, as each model’s limitations are different.

Incredible Surf Photography Approaches

If you’ve ever tried photographing surfers before, you know how challenging it can be at times, with the constant motion of your subject and even the environment of the saltwater and the salty sea air.

Learn About Surf Photography

Before jumping headfirst into this genre of photography, do a bit of research so you understand what you can do with this pursuit instead of just showing up at the beach and snapping away crazily.

The most obvious place to get a sense is surfing magazines. Here, you’ll find out all about the angles being used, the locations for photography, proximity to surfers, and equipment being used. You’ll also get a good deal of inspiration about what kinds of pictures to take and how to proceed.

Some of the leading publications include SURFER Magazine, Stab Magazines, and CURL Mag.

After all, when you begin to chronicle a sport like surfing through your photography, you first have to find out the basics, such as how said sport can translate over to an art form like photography.

Get a Good Location, First of All

Surf photography is hard to pull off when you’re in the wrong spot or wrong beach. The weather conditions and opportunities for great shots simply differ based on the locale you’re at.

Here’s a great example: Hawaii’s North Shore, just by nature, features grand and impressive-looking waves. Photographing them is going to produce extremely different results than going to your local beach or even surfing spots on the east coast.

In the end, it comes down to your technique and experience in how your shots come out.

Understand How the Light Will Work

Photographers always have to work with light, but with surf photography, this is more intense than ever since you’re dealing with strong, natural light, as well as light during the brightest times of day.

Start by looking right at the water and studying how the light’s bouncing off of it. Depending on the time of day as well as your positioning, you’ll often notice that there’s a considerable amount of reflection on the water. Look opposite to this reflection, and you’ll simultaneously realize that there’s a lot less or even no reflection at all.

To get the best shots of surfers amid this reflection, shoot at an angle while on the beach and in the direction with little or no reflection at all.

Nailing the Exposure

The next part is getting the perfect exposure. Set your camera for shutter priority. Then, make some test exposures and check your histogram to ensure that you’re not inadvertently removing the highlights of the whitewater. The whitewater is the ridge of foam and turbulence that occurs as a wave begins to break, which looks great in shots.

It’s vital to capture rich detail in this whitewater, as it’ll make your shots that much more exciting. To achieve this, start with -1/3 exposure compensation, and then keep checking your histogram to ensure that the whitewater isn’t being removed. You should keep going with the exposure compensation until you see the whitewater isn’t being clipped from the frame.

The Size of Your Surfer Subjects

Depending on how far away surfers get from the beach, they can appear relatively small in your shots. You don’t want tiny spots of surfers in your shot, as this’ll defeat the purpose of surf photography.

In general, aim to make your subject larger in the camera’s frame than one of your camera’s focal points within the viewfinder. If the surfer ends up being smaller than one of those points, it’s a clear sign that you’re too far away from him.

Either get nearer of grab a better zoom if this happens.

A Low ISO Is the Way to Go

Help your surf photography out by making your ISO as low as you possibly can. The lower that you set your ISO, the less noise you’ll have to tackle inside your image.

Always remember that you’ll be virtually bathed in a plethora of natural light each time that you’re out on the beach for this style of photography. Thanks to this sheer availability of natural light, it should be no problem to keep your ISO as low as possible.

In general, though, keeping your ISO low is usually a helpful approach in any style of photography.

Storytelling in Your Photographs

We all love a great story. It’s a human habit that’s ingrained in all of us since we were young kids, and it’s also cross-cultural, as it’s a universal practice to tell stories.

Remember to tell a story with your surf photography. It can be easy to get carried away with snapping action shot after action shot, but try to infuse some story into each shot.

For example, it could be a complicated maneuver done by a surfer, or perhaps it’s just the gorgeous beauty of the pristine waves. Even relatively simple shots of surfers simply sitting on their boards and talking can be an effective way of telling the story of surfing: relaxation, a good atmosphere, and hanging out with your surfing brethren.

Are You a Rude Photographer?

From concerts and baseball games to barbeques and beach days, we bet you’ll be spending plenty of time at snapshot worthy events this summer. But when you bring your camera along to public parties and occasions amongst large crowds, it’s important to use the best photographers’ etiquette. Often times in an effort to get the best shot, we forget to remember that others around us are trying to enjoy the show as well, and we might be stepping on their toes. To save you from social faux pas, we came up with a quick list of protocol you should generally adhere to:

1. Flash –

Picture this- you’re at a beach wedding during sundown and there’s really low lighting. Is it okay to use flash? We vote no- when it comes to special events (especially those where there is likely a hired photographer there on the job), religious ceremonies, or intimate concert settings, you should respectfully avoid using your flash. The best way to gauge? If no one else (other than paid photographers working the function) is taking flash photos and your flash would be even slightly noticeable in an otherwise very dimly lit ambiance, it would be distracting to other guests and rude of you to use.

2. Photographing Strangers –

If you’re in public somewhere (like on the beach or at a park), this can be a fun time to practice your portraiture- but would it be rude to take a stranger’s picture? In this instance, our advice is to simply ask.

You might feel worried about seeming invasive, but just try to remind yourself that in the absolute worst case scenario, the subject could say no, in which case they’ll surely be glad you asked instead of just going for it. We recommend simply explaining that you’re a portrait photographer getting some practice and asking if they’d like to be a subject. If they seem hesitant or uncomfortable, don’t ask again or try to convince them. What we tend to find instead however, is that most people are excited for the chance to participate and flattered that you want to include them in your portfolio. If the shot comes out really well, they might also appreciate if you offer to email them a free copy of their own.

3. Special Events-

To elaborate on the example used in #1, if you’re at a wedding or special event where a photographer has been hired to take pictures, is it rude of you to also unpack your camera gear and start capturing your own shots? It really depends on the preferences and comfort level of the professional, and we strongly advice you politely introduce yourself and ask. Simply explain that you’re a friend/ relative of the guest of honor, you’re a photography hobbyist yourself and that you’d love to take some pictures for your own collections or to share with others. If he/she tells you this makes them uncomfortable, you should respectfully refrain.

Generally speaking, you can use your own judgement to decide whether your photoshoot is impeding on a special event or distracting the people around you. For the most part, we find that other professionals are excited to meet another photo enthusiast, and that pedestrians are happy and flattered to be included in your shots. Just remember to be polite, and to always err on the side of polite caution by introducing yourself and asking permission before you get started.

Shark Photography

We all remember the horrifying movie Jaws. How that massive great white shark terrorized all the people in that seaside town until Roy Scheider eventually killed it. Since then, people have had a morbid fascination with sharks in general, not just great whites.

Get Rid of the View Finder

One of the most important rules to follow in shark photography is that you don’t need your camera’s view finder. This means you’ll have to start snapping your shark images by instinct alone, but it’s really for your own good (and safety).

After you’ve dealt with pre-setting your focus, you’re good to go. The more you get comfortable with working underwater and also with the view of different lenses (wide-angle, fisheye, etc.), the more naturally you’ll frame your shots underwater just by pointing your camera at the sharks.

Not having to deal with the view finder also leaves you free to be more aware of your surroundings – which is always helpful when you’re surrounded by potentially dangerous sharks.

The Perfect Lenses for the Job

Shark photography works best when you have the correct lenses. Ideally, you’ll want to use a wide-angle lens, and this is a general rule of thumb that applies to most cases of shark photography. If you want to go in closer still, you can use a macro lens, which is perfect for getting specific, interesting features of sharks up close and personal (such as neat markings or their eyes).

Then, there are also fisheye lenses that are meant for very wide shots if the shark is that close to you. The fisheye is your go-to lens if you want to capture numerous sharks together in the same shot. A 10-17mm fisheye works best in this situation, but at other times, it’ll be too wide.

When you want to shoot sharks that are unpredictable in their swimming patterns, go with the 12-24mm rectilinear option. If you’re in full frame, use anything in the 17–70mm range.

As for aperture, a maximum aperture of f/2.8 gives good results if you’re utilizing a fast lens. Alternately, f/4 with a constant aperture across the range also gives good outcomes.

Find the Sharks in the Best Places

Some parts of the world are just better suited for shark photography because of the plethora of sharks and the ease of access of the location. If you think you can just go into any saltwater area (read: any ocean) and have great opportunities, you’ll find a different story altogether.

The Power of Professional Photos in Building Your Brand

Creating an image or brand for your product is important if your goal is to build awareness among consumers and achieve success. Conceptualizing a brand can be easy, but exposing it to the buying public involves a long process. Professional photography is one of the best ways to establish a brand.

What is Branding?

A brand refers to the image of a product or company. It acts as the identification of whatever product you are trying to promote or sell. A brand is the first and last thing that consumers take note of and remember. For example, a well-made logo can help consumers easily identify a company. Product slogans have the same effect, too. Aside from logos and slogans, brands can also be names, symbols, designs or any unique identifying feature of a product.

When you use your brand and market it to consumers to help create awareness, what you are doing is branding. This is used not only for the buying public to recognize or familiarize the product, but also to establish a standard and reputation that will become synonymous with the company. In today’s Internet-crazy world, branding is as important as the food we eat every day.

So if you want your product or company to soar high in the marketplace – both online and offline – you need to have good branding strategies. And, as previously mentioned, one of the best ways to do this is by hiring the services of a professional photographer.

Professional Photos Help Build Brands

Many business owners tend to think twice before spending money on professional photographers. Some prefer to simply use stock photos or ask one of their employees to take the photos of their products. While it is understandable for businesses to closely follow financial spending, it is also important to emphasize that getting help from a professional photographer is an essential branding investment. Your company will benefit a lot, especially in terms of product/service awareness and consumer engagement.

There are several reasons why stock photos and point-and-shoot cameras will not be able to deliver the message you want your consumers to understand.

Essential Wedding Photography Tips

A wedding is a special event that marks a vital transition in the life of lovers, and so documenting its proceedings should come with a great deal of care and accuracy.

1. Expect the unexpected

One of the things as a photographer you need to learn is that things could go wrong any time and this could in some way form the best moment. All you need to do is to embrace the event with an open mind and a flexible eye so as to capture moments as they come not as your fixed plan says you should do.

2. Have fun

A wedding is an event that is all about celebrating, so you should not be left behind while the rest will be enjoying themselves. Having fun allows you to be relaxed and this increases your confidence and accuracy level.

3. Set continuous shooting mode

Events proceed quickly at some point and this where you need to capture the drama as it unfolds. To achieve the goal easily, you should use continuous shooting mode, which allows you to capture as many photos as possible within a short time span.

4. Try group shots

Trying to capture every person in the wedding is also important as this gives a preview of the amount of frenzy present in the event, and it allows you to share the story better. You could do this by getting on a raised ground where you can easily capture every person in the venue.

5. Fill flash

During the day where there could be shadow, a little fill in flash comes in handy as it works out the clarity stolen by the differences in lighting on that day. You need to keep your flash attached to achieve this.

6. Get a little creative

Having a fixed perspective while shooting wedding photos could limit your effectiveness. You need to include some creativity by coming up with ideas like using different angles to create the dramatic and unexpected shots your photos should have.

7. Don’t delete your mistakes

Many photographers are tempted to discard their mistakes but this is also a mistake in itself. Images can be cropped to give a perfect photo, so not every image you feel is not perfect is useless.

8. Pay attention to your backgrounds

The biggest challenge about wedding photography is that you will have people moving about and you cannot control where they should be at any particular time. It is, therefore, advisable to time when your target is at an uncluttered background to create emphasis.

9. Do it RAW

Many people don’t prefer shooting in RAW because of the processing time, but gives you much more flexibility to manipulate the shots after taking. You are not assured to get the perfect lighting and this means you need to make manipulations to cater for your needs perfectly.

10. Apply diffused light

You also need to have the ability to diffuse light as this will help you when the light in the venue is too low. You can do this relatively easily with a diffuser.

11. Exude boldness

Being timid won’t give you the perfect shot and sometimes you need to be strong to capture a moment. Timing is vital and thinking ahead allows you to get the perfect position for key moments.

12. Invite a second photographer

You cannot be everywhere every time and this is the reason you need to work with someone else. With another photographer (i.e.: a second shooter) helping you, it becomes easy to focus on one area by minimizing movement.

13. Have two cameras

Hire or borrow an extra camera and make sure to use a different lens. This allows you to create diversity and come up with perfect shots for different moments.

The Best Way to Take Fireworks Photos

Whether you’re on the beach or at a baseball game, if you’re planning to capture some awesome fireworks photos this summer, be sure to check out this simple guide to shutter speed, gear, ISO and aperture before you head out.

For a more comprehensive education on the secrets of exposure, lighting and lenses, consider taking NYIP’s complete professional photography course.

Shutter Speed:

From the second it’s launched from the ground until the moment the sparks really begin to fade, the explosion of a firework takes some time. That being said, you need to be careful when selecting your exposure settings. Generally, we recommend that you should have an exposure setting of at least one full second. But often, having an exposure of even 2 seconds+ can capture awesome images. If the exposure is too short, you probably won’t catch the full burst and the firework explosion shot will look kind of pitiful and underwhelming. To get that huge colorful starburst all in one shot, 1-4 seconds is the way to go.

Cameras:

The type of camera you choose to work with will also inevitably effect the shots you’ll achieve. It’s super easy to adjust your exposure using a DSLR. If you’re working in manual mode, you can also just use the bulb setting (B setting) to save time- or you can select shutter priority mode to control the shutter speed for you. If you’re using B setting, note that you should also be working with a cable release. If you’re using a digital point-and-shoot mode, your camera might actually have its own fireworks mode that will give you an ideal long exposure. If you instead have manual settings, we recommend you simply figure out the look you’re going for through some careful trial and error at the beginning of the fireworks show.

Aperture:

The right f-stop for you will depend on the ISO you choose. It’s important to keep in mind that just because the sky is inevitably going to be dark, that doesn’t necessarily mean you need a super wide aperture. In fact we’d argue that for the best shots, you should work with the opposite. To intensify the colorful bursts of fireworks, we recommend you use a smaller aperture like ƒ/8, ƒ/11, or even ƒ/16. As with your choice of shutter speed, you will also have to adjust your aperture manually.