Category: Photography Tips

What is Noise in Photography?

When we talk about “noise” in the world of photography, we’re not referring to audible sound. Instead, this term signifies something entirely different. Noise in photography denotes the visual distortion seen in an image, often manifesting as random specks or grain. But what exactly causes it, and how can we minimize it? Let’s delve deep into understanding the phenomenon of noise in photography.

noise in photography

Photo captured by Dollar Gill

1. Defining Noise in Photography

In simple terms, photographic noise can be likened to the ‘static’ or ‘snow’ you might remember seeing on old televisions when the signal was weak. It appears as tiny, irregular colored pixels or specks scattered throughout an image, giving it a coarse, grainy look. Noise can make your photos look less sharp and degrade the overall quality.

There are two types of noise that commonly occur in digital photography – luminance and chrominance noise. Luminance noise affects the brightness of pixels, producing a grainy effect akin to film grain, whereas chrominance noise results in random color pixels appearing in the image.

2. Causes of Noise

There are several reasons noise can occur in your digital images. The most common culprits are high ISO settings, long exposures, and inadequate lighting.

  • High ISO settings: ISO measures the sensitivity of your camera’s sensor to light. A higher ISO value amplifies the sensor’s response to light, helping to capture images in low-light conditions without using a flash or tripod. However, this amplification process also magnifies the inherent electronic noise in the sensor, resulting in a noisier image.
  • Long exposures: Long exposure photography involves keeping your camera’s shutter open for a prolonged period, which can result in noise. As the sensor of the camera continues to record light, it also heats up, and this increase in temperature can cause digital noise.
  • Inadequate lighting: Underexposing your photos, either intentionally or due to poor lighting conditions, can also contribute to noise. When you try to brighten such images in post-processing, the noise gets amplified along with the brightness.

3. Managing Noise in Your Photos

While you cannot completely avoid noise, there are techniques to manage it effectively.

  • Optimum ISO Settings: As a rule of thumb, it’s best to stick to the lowest possible ISO setting that allows you to adequately expose your image. Modern cameras perform very well at higher ISOs, but it’s still wise to stay as low as possible to reduce the risk of noise.
  • Correct Exposure: It’s always better to get your exposure right in-camera. Underexposing your photo and trying to fix it in post-processing is a sure way to introduce noise.
  • Use Noise Reduction Software: Many software tools can help reduce noise in post-processing. Such as Topaz Photo AI or Lightroom and Photoshop.

4. Embracing the Noise

While noise is generally seen as undesirable, it’s not always a bad thing. When used creatively, it can add a sense of atmosphere, mood, or a retro aesthetic to your images. It’s all about your vision as an artist and how you want to express it.

Noise in photography is often seen as an unwelcome guest, but with the right understanding, you can control and sometimes even embrace it. Photography, at its core, is about capturing light, and noise is part of this process. So the next time you see those grainy specks in your images, remember – it’s just your camera’s unique way of recording the world around you.

For Help with Noise Reduction:

In photo editing news, Topaz Photo AI was recently updated; version 1.3.7 introduces substantially improved noise reduction for non-raw image formats like jpeg, tiff, and png, along with other overall improvements. The company has marked it down $40 off for a short time to celebrate the update if you want to try it out.

topaz photo ai

Topaz Photo AI (see how it works)

Sharpen, remove noise, and increase the resolution of your photos with tomorrow’s technology. Topaz Photo AI supercharges your image quality so you can focus on the creative part of photography.

Deal ending soon: Topaz Photo AI at $40 Off

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Lens Considerations for Pro Wildlife Photography

Photography enthusiasts often feel that their equipment is holding them back, particularly when it comes to bird and wildlife photography. There is a common belief that capturing professional-quality images requires top-of-the-line gear that could potentially cost as much as a new car. However, according to professional nature photographer Greg Basco, this simply isn’t the case. His recent video highlights the potential of telephoto zoom lenses as a more affordable and accessible alternative to pricey prime lenses, specifically for bird and wildlife photography:

Basco acknowledges the allure of large, expensive telephoto prime lenses. The fantastic image quality, snappy autofocus, and effective use of teleconverters are undeniably attractive. However, he also points out their drawbacks: their cost (ranging from $11,000 to $15,000) and their weight (between six and seven pounds), which can make them challenging to carry around and travel with.

In contrast, telephoto zoom lenses, available for under $3000, can also produce pro-quality bird and wildlife photography. Basco shares his experience using Canon’s 100-500mm RF zoom lens and Sigma’s 150-600mm contemporary zoom lens, which he managed to acquire for just $600. Despite being less expensive and lighter, these lenses still deliver in terms of autofocus, image stabilization, and sharpness.

Of course, cheaper telephoto zoom lenses come with their own limitations. They gather less light, which requires more ISO to maintain the same shutter speed as with prime lenses. However, Basco suggests that advancements in software like DxO PureRaw and Topaz DeNoise AI make this less of an issue.

Another drawback of telezooms is that they are limited in terms of focal length, meaning they may struggle to blur out the background of your photos. However, Basco sees this not as a limitation but as an opportunity for creativity. It pushes you out of the “mental jail” of consistently filling the frame, allowing for more diverse, story-telling shots.

The inability to consistently fill the frame with the subject can compel photographers to embrace the smaller size of the subject in the frame. This, according to Basco, can result in photos that tell a story and give a sense of place. For example, while a photo of a single Chilean Flamingo may be beautiful, an image of a group of flamingos at a distant Salt Lake in the Atacama Desert provides context and tells a more compelling story.

wildlife lens

A key advantage of using telephoto zoom lenses is that they force you to consider how the background can contribute to the composition of your photo. This, in turn, enables you to consider how you can use light, tones, and colors in different parts of a wider scene to enhance your exposure. These constraints can improve your overall photography skills.

So, whether you’re a budding wildlife photographer on a budget or a seasoned professional wanting to diversify your portfolio, telephoto zoom lenses could be the tool you’ve been waiting for. They offer an affordable and more accessible entry into professional-quality bird and wildlife photography while also challenging you to think more creatively about your composition and use of light.

Basco’s message is clear: great photography is about more than just your equipment. It’s about embracing what you have, thinking creatively about your shots, and making the most of the conditions. It’s a democratic view that makes bird and wildlife photography more accessible to all – and one that could indeed revolutionize your own approach to the field.

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Creating beautiful bokeh

This post is by Pam DeCamp from Photofocus

Create Bokeh in your imagesBokeh is a word that is often used to describe images with backgrounds that are out of focus. Photographers gravitate toward the goal of creating beautiful bokeh. First we need to understand what bokeh is and how it adds creativity to our images. When I was asked to critique images, and the theme was bokeh, […]

Flash Photography: Taking Photos With vs. Without Flash

This post is by Angela Andrieux from PictureCorrect

Without flash: When taking photos without flash, you’re relying on the image sensor being sensitive enough to capture as much information about the scene as possible, based upon the available light—whether that’s ambient light from the sun, whether the sun is shining directly or being diffused through cloud cover.

no flash portrait

Without flash, ISO 250, 1/125 sec, photo by Ansel Edwards

The larger the sensor, the more data can be recorded, and this helps, to a degree, when taking photos in low light conditions, particularly indoors. However, with the more sophisticated, modern DSLR cameras, there are a few settings adjustments you can make to help improve both the amount and the quality of light that go into making a nice looking photo.

Adjusting the ISO Setting = Adjusting the Sensor’s Light Sensitivity

One of the things you can do to improve the light recording capability of your DSLR is to adjust the light sensitivity of the sensor. This is done by adjusting what is known as the ISO (pronounced “EYE-so”) setting. This is a numerical value and the higher the ISO number, the better your camera’s sensor will deal with low light conditions—to a point! You see, there is a trade-off for this wizardry; the higher you push the ISO setting, the grainier your photos will turn out. This graininess is referred to as “noise” and it lowers the overall quality of the image.

high iso noise

ISO 3200, photo by suman roy choudhury

A general principle is to keep the ISO setting as low as possible for the best possible quality in your images. Get to know your camera’s lowest “native” ISO setting. What I mean by this is that on some of the more sophisticated DSLRs, you get the option to select Extended ISO from the camera’s menu and this allows you to digitally take it below the manufacturer’s natural or “native” ISO setting, which is where the camera’s sensor performs at its best. For instance, on the Panasonic GH4, you can turn on the Extended ISO feature and this will allow you to take the ISO down to either 100 or 80. Turn off the Extended ISO and the lowest you can get to is ISO 200—this is the Panasonic GH4’s lowest native ISO setting.

Adjusting the Aperture Lets More Light in Through the Lens

Another thing you can try to adjust is the aperture of the lens. This works like the iris of a human eye: the wider it opens, the more light can enter, so the scene looks lighter and brighter; with a narrower aperture, less light can enter the lens, so the image will be darker.

If your images are looking too dark when you review them on the LCD screen of your camera, you can try and open up the aperture. This will require dialing down to a lower f-stop number. For instance, f/2.8 is a wider aperture than, say, f/8. If, on the other hand, your images are too bright and detail is being lost because of the brightness, you can try to dial a higher f-stop number, to close the aperture down and make the image darker.

shallow depth of field

photo by Joel Olives

However, notice that in both instances I said “you can try”? This is because adjusting the aperture impacts on the overall image by adjusting how much of the scene is in clear focus and how much will be blurred. Basically, lowering the f-stop number (widening the aperture of the lens), increases how much of the background will be blurred (focus on a subject in the foreground and stuff in the background will become defocused/blurred), and you might not want this; you might want everything in the image in clear, sharp focus. The way to do this is to increase the f-stop number (narrowing the aperture of the lens). But, in doing so, you’re going to reduce the amount of light that can come through the lens, so you’ll once more encounter darker images.

Adjusting the aperture, to employ what’s called “selective focus”—where you deliberately blur out background subjects in order to make foreground subjects stand out more clearly, helping direct the eyes of those looking at your photos to precisely your chosen subject—is a key part of helping your photos tell a story, so you may not want to adjust your aperture in order to brighten up your image. It depends. If your image doesn’t suffer from the wider aperture, then do so to help aid the image sensor in grabbing as much of the available light as possible.

Adjusting the Shutter Speed Allows More or Less Light to Be Recorded by the Sensor

If you’ve decided you’ve got the right aperture for your photo and don’t want to alter it any further, then adjusting the shutter speed is another way to increase or reduce the amount of light that can be recorded onto your digital image.

Basically, when you select a faster shutter speed, you’re reducing the time that the shutter stays open and, as a result, less light can reach the sensor, so this will make images darker. Conversely, when you select a slower shutter speed, you’re keeping that shutter window open for longer, exposing the image sensor to more and more light. For all the time the shutter is open, the sensor will record every scrap of light it detects. Keep it open for long enough and you will end up with an overexposed image, to the point where you just have a totally white photo, which has lost all of its detail because you allowed the shutter to stay open too long—light rays get recorded on top of light rays, and you end up with a washed-out image. So, you play about with the shutter speed, increasing and decreasing it until you have the shutter staying open just long enough to capture the perfect amount of light detail, resulting in a nicely exposed photograph.

However, there may be times when you don’t want to adjust your Shutter Speed any further. For instance, you may deliberately want a slower Shutter Speed, because you’re trying to capture movement of, say, a car as it passes with its lights on, and you want to add a sense of motion to your still image, by capturing the light trails as the vehicle whizzes by.

Taking Photos With Flash

What do you do when you’ve adjusted your ISO and don’t want to risk introducing any noise into your images; and when you’ve adjusted your aperture to get the right amount of depth of field; and when you’ve adjusted your shutter speed as fast or slow as you want it and you’re still not getting enough light onto your sensor to expose your photo(s) properly? Well, that’s when you need to add some flash into the mix, preferably from an external flash (as you can control direction, as well as the power of the light, to get that perfect balance of light hitting your subject when you take the shot).

camera flash

photo by Tom Pumford

The pop-up flash on your camera is better when you’re able to turn down the power, so you’re just “kissing” subtle light onto your subject to fill in what would otherwise be lost to shadows. But because it’s facing your subject directly, it tends not to give the most flattering look, especially when taking photos of people. If you can get hold of an external flash unit, you will improve the look by taking the flash off to the side (at an approximate 45-degree angle from your subject).

Depending on the external flash unit you get, you will be able to change certain settings on the flash, to add sufficient light when you don’t want to make any further changes to your camera settings.

Settings that top of the range flash units allow you to adjust, include:

  • Flash Power. This will be a feature of virtually all external flash units, allowing you to keep the ISO on your camera low, by increasing the power of the flash output.
  • Flash Zoom. If this is an option on your flash, you’ll be able to select a wide angle setting, to spread the light wider in the foreground; or you can zoom the flash to get it to spread deeper into the scene (but at the expense of how wide the light will spread – the further out you zoom the flash, the narrower the beam).

And Don’t Forget to Experiment With Bounce

When I first got my external flash for my Panasonic FZ1000, I was a bit disappointed with the results. No matter how much I changed the flash power and zoom settings—higher or lower—it made no difference; the photos just didn’t look very good. And then, just pratting about out of sheer frustration, I turned the flash head so it was pointing up toward the ceiling, and with that one change, I got instant improvement with my photos. As the light from the flash hits the ceiling, especially if it’s a light colored ceiling, it spreads out and is then redirected back down. As it comes back down, it spreads out. The force of the direct flash is softened and this helps to give a much nicer spread of light down onto your subject. Direct flash (when the flash is pointed “directly” at your subject) tends to be a bit too hard, but when you bounce the light off a surface (it can be a side wall; it doesn’t just have to be the ceiling, so experiment!), the softer light just has a nicer look to it against your subject.

One thing you’ll need—particularly with the ceiling bounce—is to find a way to project some of the light forward. If  it all goes straight up to the ceiling, this is when you’ll likely get unpleasant shadows, particularly under people’s eyes, nose, chin (basically, anything that protrudes that will block the fall of the light as it comes down off the ceiling). The flash unit I bought came with a white strip of plastic that you pull out and this helps to project some of the light forward. It’s okay, but I found the white diffuser cap, which also came with my Panasonic flash and fits over the flash head, helps to soften the light coming out of the flash, as well as projecting slightly more light forward, even when doing a ceiling bounce. Other products that seek to enhance this forward spread of light, are Gary Fong’s Half Cloud, and Rogue’s Flash Bender, both of which increase the area the direct flash light hits as it leaves the flash head, thus throwing even more light toward your subject than a basic diffuser cap, helping to fill in more of the shadows. So far, I’m happy with the results I’ve been getting with a simple diffuser, but I am considering experimenting with those other two flash attachments, and that’s possibly something you’ll want to consider, too.

About the Author:
Graham Wadden created and maintains the Creative Commons photography website, WaddenCCPhotography, specializing in creating stock photography primarily for home educators and those in education.

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How to Set Custom White Balance with a Gray Card

Are you looking for a quick way to instantly improve your photography? Aren’t we all? Phil Steele has some great tips for taking it up a notch by understanding how to work with and customize white balance in the following video:

Steele says that if you want accurate color in your photographs, you need to know how to set white balance. He gives us two ways to do so: setting white balance directly in your camera while shooting, and altering white balance in post-production.

Customizing White Balance in the Field

To set white balance while taking pictures, you’ll need a gray card. Steele explains that there are inexpensive and expensive gray cards, and that he’s perfectly happy using the cheaper ones. If you don’t have a gray card, get one! But if you don’t want to get one, Steele says that you can sometimes get by by using a white sheet of paper. That said, not all white sheets of paper are created equally—some have a color cast that you’ll need to watch out for, because that will skew the color of your images.

How to Set Up Custom White Balance in Your Camera

1. Set your gray card against your subject. In Steele’s example, he’s shooting a field of lavender flowers:

grey card custom white balance

2. Fill the frame with the gray card. If you’re shooting in autofocus mode, you may need to switch to manual mode. Take a picture of the card.

3. Individual cameras vary, but you should be able to go into your menu after photographing the gray card and set the white balance using the image you just shot. Refer to your camera’s manual for instructions on how to do this.

Steele explains that setting the white balance using the gray card allows you to get perfectly accurate color in different lighting situations. Check out his before and after shot of the lavender field:

before and after custom white balance

The first image was shot without customizing white balance; the second was taken after setting the white balance in the camera using a gray card.

It’s important to remember to reset your white balance after shooting, or to just switch it back to the default settings—otherwise you may end up with weird color casts when you shoot in different lighting conditions than the one for which you set the custom white balance.

Customizing White Balance Post-Production

Sometimes you don’t have a chance to set white balance inside the camera, and you end up with an entire set of photographs that have an odd tint. Steele explains that this is quite easy to correct in Adobe Lightroom. In his example, he’s photographed a sporting event with awful fluorescent indoor lighting that has given his subjects a sickly yellowish greenish tint. He planned ahead, though, by shooting a gray card as part of the series:

The first image in Steele's set contains a gray card. This can be used to set white balance for the entire set.

The first image in Steele’s set contains a gray card. This can be used to set white balance for the entire set.

You don’t have to have someone around to hold the gray card–you can just lay it down someplace and photograph it that way, as well. If you forget to do this or don’t have a gray card, you can probably use a neutral gray object in one of the photographs within the set to modify white balance.

Setting White Balance for a Set of Photos in Adobe Lightroom

1. Open up your set of oddly tinted images in Lightroom. You’re going to use the White Balance Selector tool to select one of the gray blocks on the gray card:

white balance lightroom

The White Balance Selector tool looks like a little eyedropper.

2. Light or dark doesn’t matter here–the important thing is selecting a neutral tone. Click on that neutral color block, and the tone of the photograph will change.

3. Select the photo you just changed by clicking on it. Then, navigate to the last photo in the set that you want to alter, and select the entire set by Shift+clicking the last image.

4. You’ll see that the first photo is highlighted a bit more than the others–that’s because it’s your source image for white balance changes. Next, click on the Sync button:


5. A menu is going to pop up here–just go with the defaults, Steele explains, because you’re only changing one thing (white balance).

Voila! The entire set now has better white balance.

We hope that you can use these tips to improve your own photographs–let us know in the comments if this was helpful or if you have additional tips and tricks for tweaking white balance in your work!

For further training: Understanding Your Camera Course

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How to Use Auto Exposure Lock on a DSLR Camera

The auto exposure lock (AE-L) function on a digital camera lets you physically lock the exposure reading from anywhere in the scene. You can use it on its own or at the point where you focus the image.

Just about all DSLR or Mirrorless cameras have an auto exposure lock button. When you press the AE-L button, the current exposure settings are fixed (locked) so that they can’t change as you recompose the shot—even if the level of light alters as you aim the camera elsewhere.

exposure lock

Photo captured by Aziz Acharki; ISO 100, f/4.5, 1/800s.

When the shutter is pressed halfway down, the autofocus mechanism is engaged. As it does so, the camera takes a meter reading and sets the exposure. But what if you want to focus and meter from different parts of the scene?

This is where the auto exposure lock function comes in handy. It lets you take an exposure reading independently of where you want to focus.

The AE-L function is best used with spot or partial metering in order to fix the meter reading from a small area in the scene. This is very useful in lighting conditions that may fool the metering system.

For example, if you shoot a scene that has a bright source in part of the image, an evaluative, matrix, or multizone meter can easily force underexposure. To get the right exposure, you need to take a reading away from the bright region.

This can be easily be done by taking a spot or partial meter reading from a mid-tone area of the scene and then locking that reading by pressing the AE-L button and keeping it pressed until you’ve recomposed and taken the shot. On some cameras you don’t need to keep the AE-L button depressed, on others you do.

The AE-L button can be used if the subject or subjects are positioned off-center in the scene. It is also useful when you’re shooting a sequence of images that you want to be stitched together in order to produce a panoramic photograph. The AE-L function makes sure that every shot taken in the sequence has exactly the same exposure settings.

About the Author:
Chris Smith is a writer for an online photography magazine Photography-Expert.

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How to Turn Any Background Black

This post is by Sunny Shrestha from PictureCorrect

Black backgrounds work great when you want to create high contrast and moody images. They work great for almost any type of portrait photography. And the good thing is that you can create a black background with almost any type of background that you have. You just need to be careful with where and how you place your lights. In this video, photographer Mark Wallace from Adorama talks about how you can create a black background from a white wall. You can apply the same principle to any wall with any color and get the exact result:

If you take a regular approach and place the lighting in front of the model, some lighting will naturally fall on the background. This will result in the background being visible and not appearing black. So, how do you go about making the background disappear?

“The answer is simple; we just need to not illuminate it.”

To go about it, first start by turning your flash off and then adjust your camera settings in a way that you get a black frame. This ensures that all the ambient lighting is cut out, and that the final image will only be affected by the light that you add in. Next, position the model and the lighting in a way that no light strikes the wall while the model is still illuminated. Using a grid on the softbox is a good way to prevent any light spill.

This is quite a convenient and an economical way to create a black background for your image. Give it a try, and you’ll realize how easy this is.

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How to Handle Bad Lighting in Landscape Photography

In a recent video, landscape photographer James Popsys took us on an enchanting journey to Keem Bay, a serene spot on the west coast of Ireland. Popsys’ work has always been about the harmony between natural and man-made elements, and his latest adventure provided a stage for this balance to play out in full:

Keem Bay has long been on Popsys’ list of places to photograph. Interestingly, this stunning location was also the backdrop for a hit movie – with a house that plays an integral role in the story (and which is digitally burned down!). Undeterred by the less-than-ideal light on his visit, Popsys had a clear plan – he would visit the spot multiple times to try to capture its full glory.

Popsys, along with his fellow photographer friend Rich, was visiting Ireland on an assignment for the tourism board. They had a week to explore the west coast of Ireland – a trip Popsys had been meaning to take in winter, hoping for the atmospheric mood, massive waves, and storms that the season brings.

The Tools of the Trade

Popsys brought along both his Leica and Sony a7r for this journey. Despite his recent enjoyment of shooting with the Leica, he found himself gravitating towards his Sony camera upon arrival. He reflected on this choice, suggesting that his years of experience with the Sony might have influenced his trust in it to help him achieve the shot he desired.

Discovering New Shots

Popsys wasn’t just after the obvious shots at Keem Bay. Believing that any good photographer should be able to create more than one composition in such a beautiful location, he searched for other perspectives. This included a shot that required a bit of Photoshop manipulation, including the cloning of a lifeguard and a tent. He suggests that using these techniques in a place like this is justified, adding a playful note that if it’s considered “cheating,” then he is fine with it.

bad light landscape

The Power of Patience

Popsys’ video not only explored the beauty of Keem Bay but also served as a lesson in patience for photographers. Despite his long-held desire to photograph the area, Popsys found himself facing conditions that didn’t align with his vision. However, rather than viewing this as a disappointment, he saw it as an opportunity for multiple visits and a deeper connection with the place.

He explains that if he achieves a portfolio-quality photo from a place right away, his interest in the location fades almost instantly. This realization has transformed his perception of what it means to connect with a location, teaching him the value of revisiting the same spot multiple times to develop a deeper understanding and relationship with it.

Popsys ended his journey with a philosophical reflection: the pursuit of the perfect photo isn’t meant to be easy, and the challenge is part of what makes photography so rewarding. He views his lack of the ‘perfect shot’ from Keem Bay as the beginning of a long-term relationship with this place, a chance to return and keep exploring the location through his lens.

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Summer Photography Improvement

As we feel the warm breeze ushering in the summer season, it’s a great time for us photographers to not only capture beautiful sunlit scenes but also to explore new learning avenues. One such path to growth is coming your way through my good friend, Ken Schultz, the brain behind the highly-acclaimed “EasyDSLR” training course.

summer photography

Summer photo captured by Alex Lamb

Ken is on the brink of launching a brand-new program: “DPInsiders”. This exciting venture, grounded in Ken’s vast expertise and dedication to excellence, is designed to elevate your photography skills to new heights.

To make things even better, Ken is offering PictureCorrect readers an exclusive opportunity to sign up and secure spots on the DPInsiders’ waiting list before the official launch. This is a no-fee, early-access pass to enroll at an introductory price when the program goes live.

As we await this exciting new journey with DPInsiders, let’s prepare ourselves for the summer photography season with a few handy tips:

Understand Your Light: Summer is known for its intense sunlight, which can lead to harsh shadows and overexposed shots if you’re not careful. Try to shoot during the ‘Golden Hours’ (the first hour after sunrise and the last hour before sunset) when the light is softer and has a warmer tone.

Consider using a Polarizing Filter: This can help reduce the glare on sunny days, enhance the blue of the sky, and increase the saturation of the scene. It’s a very helpful tool for outdoor summer photography.

Capture the Summer Vibes: Summer is all about energy, fun, and bright colors. Try to capture these elements in your photos.

Play with Shadows: Summer is a great time to experiment with shadow play. Use the strong sunlight to your advantage and capture the contrast and depth created by shadows.

Water and Reflections: Summer provides opportunities for great photos near bodies of water. You can capture amazing reflection photos early in the morning when the water is calm.

Look for Detail: While it’s easy to focus on landscapes and wide shots during the summer, also pay attention to the smaller details. The textures of summer – like blooming flowers, a close-up of a chilled glass of lemonade, or the details of a seashell – can make for captivating photos.

Experiment with Silhouettes: The strong light of summer sunsets can help create stunning silhouette shots. Place your subject between the camera and the light source to create these.

Looking forward to your photographic summer and to the launch of DPInsiders.

Found here: Secure Your Spot on the DPInsiders Launch List

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The post Summer Photography Improvement appeared first on PictureCorrect.

Slow Shutter Speed Photography

This post is by janie from PictureCorrect

Shutter speed works two ways on your camera: it can be used to freeze motion so everything in the frame is nice and sharp; or it can be used to blur motion so some things in the frame are blurred, giving the picture a unique look. You may be shaking your head at this; but sometimes I want to actually slow down my shutter speed to create blur in my image, giving it somewhat of an artistic expression. These are images that probably don’t exist in the real world, as viewed through a pair of normal eyes; but with a slower shutter speed we can create beautiful, artistic expressions that otherwise might have never been seen.

how to take photos with slow shutter speed

Photo by June Marie; ISO 100, f/22.0, 6-second exposure.

Camera Settings for Blurring Motion

When taking slow shutter speed shots, I sometimes use shutter priority mode on my camera, which is the Tv (time value) setting on my Canon camera and the S setting on Nikon cameras. And now with my camera in shutter priority mode, I’m going to slow my shutter speed down to 1/15 of a second to start. Depending if you’re shooting in daylight or dark, you might have to tweak your f-stop a bit to get the desired effect. In lower light situations, you want to keep the ISO as low as possible—like around 100—because the camera is actually letting more light in with the slower shutter speed. For different effects, you might try using a zoom lens and zoom in and out while you take the shot.

slow shutter speed for beginning photographers

Photo by Sitoo; ISO 160, 1/20-second exposure.

What I like about slow shutter speed photography is getting the contrast between the things that are in motion and the things that are absolutely still in the same shot. This gives you some really neat images—like a river’s water flowing over the rocks.

photography with slow shutter speed method

Photo by Christophe Surman; ISO 640, f/5.0, 1/8-second exposure.

A slow shutter speed might give the water a harsh blur, but at the same time, the landscape around the river water will be in focus. You can make the moving water in a fountain look like glass by using a shutter speed of about 2 seconds or slower with a tripod attached to your camera. This will give your image a unique look of motion being blurred in the water and the fountain and scenery in sharp focus.

photography techniques slow shutter speed

Photo by axbecerra; ISO 200, f/22.0, 13-second exposure.

Preventing Camera Shake

When I use the slower shutter speeds I often set the timer on the camera or use my shutter release cable to eliminate any camera shake when pressing the shutter button. But using the shutter release cable, you may want to go to a manual focus to prevent the camera from refocusing and causing your image to be out of focus.

When it comes to night time shooting, I always make sure I have my tripod: this eliminates camera shake from slower shutter speeds, but it also helps achieve shots that include the blurring light motion of passing cars. You can really get some neat shots at a 4 second shutter speed.

use slow shutter speed like a pro

Photo by Chris Dart; ISO 100, f/8.0, 5-second exposure.

Getting More Creative

You’ll notice that when you’re in shutter priority mode, the camera calculates the approximate f-stop when you set you set the camera at a desired shutter speed. If you want to get more creative, you can take those settings and switch your camera to manual mode and put those setting in manually; that will give you a starting point. You can also get some cool shots at night without the tripod by using manual mode and shooting at just under a second while moving the camera around.

slow exposure camera trick

Photo by Andrew Stawarz; ISO 800, f/4.0, 30-second exposure.

Slow shutter speed photography is just another way to be creative with your camera while having a little fun with intentional blur. Keeping an open mind with photographic creativity is what separates photographic art from a plain snapshot.

About the Author:
This article was written by Alan Slagle from FrolickingPhotos. “I’ve been doing photography all my life and it’s a great way to get away from life in general. I believe digital photography has no rules so I do a lot of experimenting and that gives me a chance to write an article about my experiences.”

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