Tag Archives: digital photography

Five things you can do today to improve your photography

Lincoln Memorial at twilight, Washingon, DC.
Lincoln Memorial at twilight, Washingon, DC. This shot would be impossible without a tripod.

Want to get better at photography? Then here’s a quick list of some things you can do right now to start getting better.

  1. Step away from the gear forums and the endless debates over what the best camera/lens is and just use the gear you have. All the online advice in the world is no substitute for getting out there and capturing images.
  2. Get a good tripod and ball head, and use it. Yes, the tripod can be cumbersome at times, but the degrees of freedom it offers you in terms of creative options are worth it. With a tripod, you can capture long exposures that would be impossible to do hand-held. Plus, using the tripod will force you to slow down and think about your shots more.
  3. Learn to shoot RAW. Even if you aren’t a master of post-processing, shooting RAW today means that you’ll be able to have maximum flexibility with your images down the road. Since RAW editing software continues to improve, you’ll be able to use new tools on your old shots and get great results.
  4. Practice zooming with your feet. Use either a fixed focal length lens, or put some gaffer’s tape on your zoom ring. You’ll get a feel for perspective and composition, and it will force you to try new angles.
  5. Get out of Program Mode and tell your camera that you’re in control. Try using Aperture-priority metering to control depth of field. Compare images captured wide-open (low f-number) with those captured while stopped down (high f-number). Use auto ISO if you’re shooting hand-held so that you can get sharp images, or use your tripod for the best results.

Happy shooting!

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Photography: Process and Practice

Mesquite Dunes, Death Valley National Park

You’ve heard it before: A new camera won’t make you a better photographer. If not, then what will? Photography is a craft that blends art and technology. Each skill on its own requires patience and practice. I can break down my process into several key components. Continue reading Photography: Process and Practice

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Nik Software HDR Efex Pro 2.0 Hands-On Review

Badlands sunrise, processed in HDR Efex Pro 2.0

Some of you may have noticed that I’ve recently been posting a lot of HDR photographs here and on my G+ page lately. Part of the reason is because I enjoy being creative, and HDR is one of my creative outlets. The other reason is that I’ve had the opportunity to test the latest version of Nik Software’s HDR tone-mapping software, HDR Efex Pro 2.0, which was formally announced today and is available now.

At first glance, version 2.0 might seem like a minor revision, with subtle improvements to the interface and control sliders. However, I can honestly say that after testing HDR Efex Pro 2.0 for the last few months, I will not be going back to version 1. My HDR images are consistently better across the board with version 2.0; they have better color, better sharpness, and superior tone-mapping effects.

Continue to my hands-on review of Nik Software’s HDR Efex Pro 2 Continue reading Nik Software HDR Efex Pro 2.0 Hands-On Review

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Ten Simple Tips for Digital Photographers

If you’re going to fly, you’ll need wings and a full tank of fuel.

In today’s digital world, we have unprecedented access to high-quality photographic equipment. Just ten years ago, most photographers had a basic camera, sent their film off for processing, and got back a set of slides or 4×6″ prints to enjoy. Early digital cameras were either too expensive or too limited in quality to really be adopted by the average consumer. Now, you can get a 24 megapixel camera like the Nikon D3200 with a zoom lens for under $700!

Think about that for a second. Today’s digital cameras have enough resolution to rival medium format film cameras of the past. Back then, the only people I ever met who used medium format were studio portrait photographers. A medium format system was completely unrealistic for most photographers; they were harder to use and cost a fortune.

With so many people having access to amazing digital photo technology, there’s a feeling that anyone can be a great photographer because they have a great camera. I see it when I talk to wedding photographers about how their clients don’t want to pay for prints or albums because “uncle Joe” has a DSLR and will shoot their wedding for free. I see it when I browse Google+ or Facebook and see mediocre images posted as “works of art.” Friends, a mediocre 24 megapixel snapshot is still mediocre. You just have more resolution to display your mediocrity. With that, here are five fundamental tips for anyone who has recently picked up a new DSLR (or even an older one) and wants to improve their photography. Continue reading Ten Simple Tips for Digital Photographers

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Creative Outdoor Photography Workshop Wrap-Up

Skulls on a truck, Park County, CO (HDR Image)

I just wrapped up a four-day workshop here in Colorado, where we explored creative outdoor photography. We started out by doing traditional landscape photography in Garden of the Gods, then we moved on to several unique locations for interesting compositions and shots. We had a great photo walk in Manitou Springs, and we were able to shoot inside the Miramont Castle, a unique Victorian building. After each morning’s shooting session, we held classroom sessions where we explored the creative aspect of post-processing, including HDR, Monochrome, and Color Efex Pro. We also learned how to use Photoshop layers to maximize our creativity and enhance our workflow with Nik Software plug-ins and Flypaper Textures. Continue reading Creative Outdoor Photography Workshop Wrap-Up

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