A Simply Guide To Posing

Posted By ammirare / September, 4, 2012 / 0 comments

Posing can be a tricky business. Have you ever been on a portrait shoot and it doesn’t quite feel right, everything looks a bit forced and you can’t get the subject to look natural? Well it falls on you as the photographer to make those decisions and have the confidence to direct and adjust even the small variations that can make so much difference and enable you to get the shot you’ve been looking for.

How To Portray the Subject

It’s essential to do a bit of thinking before you dive straight into the shoot, wielding your camera and hoping for the best. Consider how you might want to portray the person you’re photographing and have a conversation with them about how they might want to come across in the photographs.

Do you want shots that look strong and tall, bright and optimistic, delicate and sweet or scared and uncertain? Understanding what you’re aiming for will strongly influence the following decisions about poses to try out.

Head On

Photographing someone straight on is probably the most direct way to communicate your subject to your audience. It portrays a feeling of confidence and assurance and allows the viewer to really engage with the subject as nothing is hidden from sight.

It’s important to ensure there is plenty of interest with the shot, focus in on the eyes and blur out the background, as otherwise it ends up looking like a corporate head shot!


A really interesting way to shoot a portrait that can actually tell you more about the person than you’d originally think. A good option if the subject is shy or nervous about the shoot which may well help build their confidence. It’s also very useful in it’s own right as a creative tool, as it’s not how the majority of portrait photographers would shoot. Again, it’s important to be creative to avoid it looking like a police mug shot.

Looking Back Over The Shoulder

This will give a relaxed and easy going feel to the shot. Often used in fashion shoots, it’s something that’s probably slightly more natural for women, but can work for male models if you’re going for that steely look. Be careful to get this right though, as it can quickly start looking like a jovial parody!

It’s also important to make sure the neck isn’t twisted too far around. When we say looking over the shoulder, we actually mean part way over the shoulder.


This is an extremely good option if you’re looking to get a relaxed looking shot, as most people appear far more at ease when sitting down as they know what to do with their limbs! Don’t feel restricted to using conventional chairs and sitting poses, there are many things that can be sat on in many different ways, so be creative!


The leaning pose is very good for portraying a casual sense of confidence and ease. Have your subject either lean side on or with their back to the wall. This can then be shot head on, but also looks good in a profile position as it highlights to angle of the lean.

Lying Down

This is a great way of portraying a relaxed and playful atmosphere with the subject either on their front or back. You have the option of shooting from ground level or from above, which can create a dramatic view of the subject!

What To Do With Hands!

This can be a real dilemma for subjects as they’re often thinking about their face and body structure. Not knowing what to do with your hands can portray an unwanted nervousness. Dictating what the hands are doing will add another point of interest and structure to your shots, so it’s important to have them in the right place!

Having crossed arms can add a sense of confidence and security and works well for men in particular. Relaxed arms down by the side can make the hands look slightly lost, but you might just want to keep them out of the way!

Hands in pockets or hands on hips again gives them something to do and would both look fairly relaxed and intentional. Hands touching the face can say an awful lot. Just try it yourself and see what expressions you can form with the involvement of your hands on your face, grumpy, tired, surprised, angry! You could also use hands to hide elements of the face for added secrecy.

For women, open arms portray a welcoming sense, but having hands covering the body can add a feeling of proximity and sensuality to the shot. For kids, give them props, such as a favourite cuddly toy or a story book to keep their hands busy.

Group Poses

Group poses always benefit from staggered or shaped line ups to avoid feeling very flat. Shooting from slightly above the group allows good lines of vision for each group member. Depending on the group, it’s important to show some togetherness through physical proximity. Something as simple as having their arms around each other can work.

Connecting With The Eyes

For you as the photographer, consider whether or not you’re going to prioritise connecting with the eyes of the subject. This will add considerable strength to your image, allowing with viewer to engage with the shot, and will almost certainly be the focal point of your image. That doesn’t necessarily mean the subject has to be looking into camera, so feel free to try out some variations and see what think works best on each shoot.

Natural Is Best

I find that often, natural is best. Something that feels awkward and unnatural will often come across that way in the shots, so it’s important you maintain the conversation with the subject to see how they’re feeling about the poses.

The best portrait photographers somehow manage to portray a person in an image, they tell you so much about them by allowing the model to be themselves and capturing the essence of who they are in a single frame.

I may be a way off that just yet, but it’s certainly possible to allow a subject to act naturally in order to capture some of who they are without trying to recreate it with elaborate poses!

Photo by Ekaterina Utimisova

Information from  Simon Bray


Guide to Natural Light

Posted By ammirare / August, 11, 2012 / 0 comments

If you want to improve the quality of your photography, one thing you can do right away is learn to use natural light better. The good news is that unlike good quality lenses and camera bodies, natural light is free. The best photographers seek out the best quality light for their subject. Their quest for better photos is paralleled by a search for better light

“Painting With Light”

The word photography is derived from the Greek for ‘painting with light’. This is a good description – a photograph is made from the light that enters your camera’s lens and hits the sensor (or film). Without light you would have nothing.

Broadly speaking, there are two types of light – natural and artificial. Natural light (the topic of this article) comes from the sun. The quality and quantity of the light depend on where you are, the weather conditions and time of day.

As photographers, we need to be students of light – observing the lighting conditions and learning why light behaves like it does. Then we can understand how light affects our photos and how to make the best use of it.

The more you understand light and how it affects your photos, the better a photographer you will be. To help you out, we’ve put together a brief guide to the main types of natural light and how to make the most of them.

Hard Light

The light from the sun on a sunny day is hard light. It’s strong and direct and casts deep shadows with hard edges. In the middle of the day, especially in the summer, hard light can be very ugly. Avoid taking photos at this time if you can.

Hard light is best at either end of the day, shortly after the sun has risen and just before it sets. Photographers call this period the golden hour, because of the quality of the light. If the sky is clear, the light is still hard, but it’s a great deal softer than in the middle of the day. It also comes at your subject from a low angle which reveals form and texture and is much more interesting than midday light.

 Soft Light

Soft light describes the type of light that you find in the shade or on a cloudy day. Any shadows have soft edges. Soft light, especially on a cloudy winter’s day, can seem grey and dull, without much potential for photography.

The key to using soft light is to understand that it has very little contrast. It’s the opposite of hard light from the sun.

Soft light is great for taking photos of people, especially portraits. If you’re outside on a sunny day, taking photos of people, find some shade and take photos of them there. The results will be much better.

Soft light is also suitable for taking photos in rainforest and woodland, and for still life and flowers. On a cloudy day, avoid including the sky in your photos – it usually just comes out white.


This is my favourite type of light. Backlight is created when the light source is behind the subject. Backlight, like hard light, has lots of contrast. Also like hard light, it’s normally best for photos at the end or the start of the day. Backlighting from the sun at any other time of the day has too much contrast.

Backlighting is good for landscapes, portraits and architecture. It’s a powerful, moody, evocative type of lighting. It is very dramatic if combined with weather conditions like mist or fog.

You’ll need to keep your lens scrupulously clean for shooting backlit subjects, as the light will shine right on the front element of your lens, causing flare. Sometimes flare is unavoidable – if this happens to you the best way to deal with it is to work the flare into your composition. Make it look like a deliberate part of the photo, rather than an unwanted side effect.

 Dramatic Light

Dramatic light is created by dramatic weather such as a thunderstorm. It’s the type of light that you see when the clouds clear after a rain storm, or if the sun breaks through the clouds on a rainy day near sunset.

Dramatic light is ideal for photographing landscapes, seascapes and architecture – almost anything outside. If you are confronted with a scene lit by dramatic light, treat it as a gift and take as many photos as you can while it lasts. Dramatic light normally doesn’t last very long, and it may not return.

 Sunrise and Sunset

At sunrise and sunset the light is beautiful and full of colour. It has the potential to be any of the types of light we’ve discussed so far – soft, hard or dramatic. If the sun is out your subject will be backlit. The light can change between all of these states very quickly.

No matter what your subject, sunrise and sunset are wonderful times for taking photos. This is especially true for landscapes and seascapes, but also for architecture and nature. This is your time for creating evocative photos full of mood and atmosphere.

It’s the kind of light that travel photographers love because it makes everywhere look so beautiful. Professional landscape photographers love this time of day so much that they get up early to make the most of sunrise and stay out late for the sunset.

 Interiors With Natural Light

You can use the natural light coming through doors and windows to photograph interiors. You have to pay lots of attention to where the light is coming from when you’re doing this. The light, even on a cloudy day, will be hard because it’s coming in through the doors and windows. If you include open doors or windows in your photo, they will burn out because they are so bright compared to the interior.

The good thing about this type of light is that it can be very dramatic and moody, especially inside an old building. Some people will solve the problem of shooting in these conditions by using HDR techniques. But for me, HDR photos often have an unreal appearance that I don’t like. I don’t want to see every detail; I like dark shadowy corners and prefer that something is left to the imagination.


Information from  Andrew S Gibson Blog : Writer & Fine Art  Photographer


Photo  from Ekaterina Utimisova

Methods for Adding Mood to Your Photos

Posted By ammirare / June, 26, 2012 / 0 comments

With today’s modern digital cameras, it’s easy to take a well-exposed photo. But how do you take it a step further and capture an image that encompasses the mood you felt at the time? In this tutorial I’m going to explore some techniques you can use to inject mood and emotion into your photographs.


There are several methods you can use to express the feelings that a scene evoked in you. They all involve creative input from the photographer – by exploring these techniques you will stop ‘taking’ photos and start ‘making’ them instead.

It all starts with being selective about what you photograph. Just because you can take a photo doesn’t mean you should. Good photographers are selective about what they photograph. You should be too – your photos will improve.

For example, if you find a beautiful location that you want to photograph, but you happen to be there at midday, you know the light isn’t at its best. Coming back in the late afternoon or early morning – when the sun is low in the sky and there is a beautiful, raking light illuminating the scene – will really improve your photo.

This one technique alone will dramatically improve your photos. But most photographers know this already – so here are some more ideas for you to explore.

Use a Wide Aperture

Try using the widest aperture on your lens. If you use zoom lenses, this will be between f2.8 and f5.6. This technique works best with standard and telephoto lenses because these lenses have less depth-of-field.

The idea is to focus sharply on your subject and throw the background out of focus. This is a technique used in portraiture – focus on the subject’s eyes and use a wide aperture so that part of the face and the background is out of focus.

The out of focus background is moody because we can’t see what it’s supposed to be. We have to use our imagination to fill in the gaps. The technique works best when the background is darker than the subject – shadows are moodier than bright highlights.

Shoot in Low Light

Try shooting when the light is low. Low light is moody and evocative. If you’re shooting static subjects like landscapes you can put your camera on a tripod and use a cable release to avoid camera shake.

If you’re shooting something that moves, like people, you’ll need to use a high ISO and a wide aperture to get a shutter speed fast enough to avoid camera shake. Don’t be afraid of high ISOs – noise can add mood to your photos, just like grain did when people used film.

In low light you can also use slower shutter speeds to introduce blur into your photos. It’s another way of creating a moody image. 

Adjust Your Colour Temperature

Shoot in RAW and adjust the colour temperature in post-processing. This means you can decide the optimum colour temperature afterwards and don’t have to worry about setting it correctly in camera.

It also gives you another significant advantage – you can make more than one interpretation of an image. Your RAW file is just a starting point, much like a negative in the hands of a skilled black and white darkroom printer.

Shoot Into the Light

Backlighting is a dramatic and moody type of lighting. It works because the exposure range is outside what your camera can handle. There are several approaches – you can expose for the light source (normally the sun in the sky, but it could be a flash in a studio or a window indoors) and if the light source is strong whatever is in the foreground will be silhouetted or semi-silhouetted.

Another approach is to expose for the foreground, and the background will be overexposed. Two different techniques, two different types of mood.

A third approach is to shoot a backlit portrait and use flash to light your subject from the front or side. This technique is used when you don’t want to overexpose the background too much and still show detail in your subject’s face.

For moody photos, avoid HDR techniques in backlit situations. You create mood when there are details in the photo that get filled in by the viewer’s imagination. HDR photos provide all the detail, and leave nothing to the imagination.

Shoot Into the Light

Backlighting is a dramatic and moody type of lighting. It works because the exposure range is outside what your camera can handle. There are several approaches – you can expose for the light source (normally the sun in the sky, but it could be a flash in a studio or a window indoors) and if the light source is strong whatever is in the foreground will be silhouetted or semi-silhouetted.

Another approach is to expose for the foreground, and the background will be overexposed. Two different techniques, two different types of mood.

A third approach is to shoot a backlit portrait and use flash to light your subject from the front or side. This technique is used when you don’t want to overexpose the background too much and still show detail in your subject’s face.

For moody photos, avoid HDR techniques in backlit situations. You create mood when there are details in the photo that get filled in by the viewer’s imagination. HDR photos provide all the detail, and leave nothing to the imagination.

Use a Long Exposure

I’m talking a really long exposure – two seconds or more. This is a technique for landscape photos. Make sure the camera is on a sturdy tripod and use a cable release and mirror lock-up to avoid camera shake. If it’s windy, stand between your camera and the wind.

Long exposures work best when there is something in the photo that is moving, such as the sea, water in a waterfall or grass blowing in the wind. The moving elements are contrasted against the still elements of the scene. You combine this technique with shooting in low light and shooting at or just after sunset.

It’s also effective in urban landscapes taken in the evening with cars moving through the picture. The lights from the cars leave trails. Take this kind of photos when there is still some light in the sky so that the sky retains some colour – it will come out dark blue rather than black.

Add Textures

Adding textures is a good technique for creating moody photos. You can combine this with converting to black and white and toning. Like converting to black and white, it’s essential that you start off with a photo that’s already moody. The aim is to go as far as you can and see just how moody you can make your photo.

Use this technique selectively. It doesn’t suit every photo, and if you add textures to all your photos it soon becomes boring. Ideal subjects are portraits, nude studies, still lifes and some landscapes.

How do you add textures to your photos? You’ll need Photoshop, or another editing program that supports layers. You simply paste the texture as a new layer over the original photos, and then adjust the opacity and layer blending modes to get the effect you want.



Information from  Andrew S Gibson Blog : Writer & Fine Art  Photographer


Photo from Ekaterina Utimisova

Fine Art Landscape Photographs

Posted By ammirare / June, 26, 2012 / 0 comments

Nearly every survey I’ve seen published in a photography magazine that asks readers their favourite subject has the same winner – landscapes. Why is this? I suspect it’s because landscape photography is seen as a relatively easy subject. Most people live within, or relatively close to, a landscape of some sort, and I’m sure that most photographers enjoy capturing the natural beauty around them.
Today we’ll be exploring the idea of landscape photography in a new direction – fine art, black and white images. Along with explaining the reason and thinking behind this technique, I’ll offer a few tips to get started.


What is Fine Art?

The irony is that landscape photography is extremely difficult to do well. You’re relying not only on finding beautiful landscapes to photograph, but being there at the same time the weather and light are working together to create the conditions that you can use to photograph the landscape in a way that fulfills your creative vision. It takes a dedication that most of us don’t have.

Some of these landscape photographers are working in the field of fine art. What is fine art? A good working definition is that fine art photography is imagery whose final destination is designed to be the wall of someone’s house or office. Fine art photographers, freed up from the commercial restraints of stock and editorial photography, have tremendous creative freedom. They can pursue their personal vision, and many choose to do it in black and white.


Why Black and White?

When we’re in a landscape, we see it in colour. Black and white photography strips away the colour, leaving the bare bones. The features of the landscap, such as rocks, trees and mountains, become compositional elements made up of light, texture and tonal contrast. Black and white is beautiful. The photo becomes an interpretation, rather than a literal representation, of the landscape. We’re seeing the artist’s personal vision, and emotional response to the landscape, as well as the place itself.

Photo Gallery

Xavi Fuentes


Chris Friel



Kevin Saint Grey


Arkadius Zagrabski

Peter Scammell

Information and photo from Andrew S Gibson


The Best Way to Learn about Long Exposure Photography

Posted By ammirare / June, 24, 2012 / 0 comments

Long exposure photography can create dynamic, surreal images full of motion. This fashionable technique amongst landscape and black and white photographers is characterized by simple composition and exposures up to several minutes long that blur any moving elements like water or clouds.

For me, there are four key reasons for the popularity of long exposure photography:

1. Digital cameras have made long exposure photography much easier. Unlike film, digital cameras don’t suffer from reciprocity failure, making it much easier to calculate exposure. You can also check the exposure and the composition immediately by playing back the images you have taken. This makes correcting mistakes much easier, and the learning process much faster.

2. Filter manufacturers have begun making six, nine and ten stop neutral density filters. These allow photographers to use shutter speeds in excess of 30 seconds during the middle of the day, greatly increasing the usability of the technique.

3. Long exposure photography allows you to create good photos in the middle of the day under cloudy conditions, a time that is normally unproductive in terms of landscape photography.

4. Long exposure photography appeals to photographers who see themselves as fine art photographers. By concentrating on seeing the landscape in black and white and creating images with simple compositions, they are improving their design skills and developing an eye for a good image.

Tripod Needed

Long exposure photography may seem daunting, but it’s quite an easy technique to try out once you have the correct equipment. Let’s take a look at what you need.

You definitely need a good solid tripod with a good ball-and-socket tripod head. An aluminium or carbon fibre tripod is ideal, with a tripod head that is capable of supporting the weight of your camera and lens. It is important that your chosen combination can hold your camera absolutely still for durations of thirty seconds or longer.

Giottos and Manfrotto are among the manufacturers that make good quality tripods. So do Gitzo, but at a price. Really Right Stuff makes L brackets and other accessories designed for landscape photographers to support their cameras.

Cable Release, Remotes and Self-Timers

These are useful to have, but not essential. You can get by without them, at least to start with.

A cable release or remote control. You use this for firing the camera’s shutter without touching the camera body. This allows you to take images free of camera shake.

However, if you don’t have a cable release or remote control, you can use the camera’s ten second self-timer function to take a photo. The ten second delay is ample time for vibrations caused by pressing the shutter button to fade away. This is an easy way to take photos up to 30 seconds in length (the longest shutter speed available on most cameras). For longer shutter speeds, you need a cable release or remote control.

Neutral Density Filters

Neutral density filters come in strengths of three, four, six, nine and ten stops. They allow you to take long exposure photos during the day, and extend the period during which you can shoot.

If you don’t have one, the best time to take long exposure photos is at dusk, or just after the sun has set. At this time of evening the fading light will let you use shutter speeds of 30 seconds or more without a neutral density filter.

Polarizing Filters

These are useful for removing shine caused by water reflections from rocks and concrete, or to see through water. They can also block one to two stops of light, enabling you to use longer shutter speeds. You can combine a polarising filter with a neutral density filter to take long exposure photos during the day.

You can learn more about filters at the Cambridge in Colour website. They have good articles about neutral density and polarising filters.

Find Good Locations

The next step is finding good locations to take photos. You may know of some already, if not there are plenty of ways to scout for good places. I like to use Flickr.

For example, we have just moved to Wellington in New Zealand and I found a set of photos that has helped me find some good locations for long exposure photography already.

Another useful tool is the Photographer’s Ephemeris. This is a free program you can download for your computer that calculates sunrise and sunset times for anywhere in the world. It also shows the direction of sunrise and sunset. There are also iPhone, iPad and Android versions (you have to pay for those).

Finally, if you are taking photos by the sea, you should look up the local tide tables. It is important for your safety to know whether the tide is rising or falling at the time you plan to take photos. There are places in the world where the tide rises rapidly and can cut you off from land very quickly, so please be aware of tide movements at all times and put personal safety first.

Seascapes change dramatically with the tides, weather and time of day. Some locations are better for photography at low tide, others at high tide. Keep a record as you explore so you get know the best times to return.

Know your Camera Settings

Long exposure photography requires a firm mastery of many of your camera’s settings. The best way to take a long exposure image is to use the Raw format. This has a number of advantages:

1. The extra bit depth enables you to capture more highlight and shadow detail.

2. You can adjust white balance in post-processing, instead of deciding which setting to use during the shoot. To start, I normally set white balance to the daylight setting. This enables me to see the true colour of the light, which may be warm during a sunset (the golden hour), or cool at dusk (the blue hour).

3. You can easily convert to black and white. The extra bit depth makes black and white conversion much easier.

4. You can adjust the Picture Style in post-processing. I normally set the Picture Style to landscape, but again I can change it in post-processing to suit the image.

Experiment with Bulb Mode

The main advantage of ultra-long shutter speeds is that you can use them to blur the motion of the sea, and it is with seascapes that you will most often see this technique used. 

The bulb setting on your camera lets you take photos with a shutter speed of your choice. You need a cable release or remote control so that you don’t disturb the camera. Press the shutter button to open the shutter and let it go to close it.

Your camera may display a timer in seconds so that you can see how long the shutter has stayed open. You can also use your watch. Check your camera’s instruction manual to verify how it works.

Your camera may also have a “T” shutter setting, “B” usually indicates bulb. The “T” setting allows you to press the shutter button to open the shutter, and then it will stay open until you come back and press it again.

Work on Exposure

When shooting long exposures, it’s important not to lose detail in the highlights caused by overexposure. It’s also helpful to avoid underexposing the image, as this increases noise in the darkest tones. You may also lose important shadow detail. 

Work on Composition

Part of the appeal of long exposure photography is that it helps you practice your composition skills. This is especially true if you work in black and white as there is no color to distract from the composition. In black and white, the fundamentals of composition (line, texture, tonal contrast and so on) matter far more than they do in color.

One of the tenets of long exposure photography is that simplicity, or even minimalism, are best. Study the work of some of the long exposure photographers mentioned in the last section to see this in action.

Know your Light

Light is an important element of any photo. These are the four lighting situations you will most often see used in long exposure photography:

1. Sunset or sunrise. It’s fairly obvious why. These are beautiful times to take photos. A good time to take long exposure photos is when the sun is below the horizon (before sunrise or after sunset) as there is less contrast and the light levels are lower, allowing longer shutter speeds.

2. Twilight. Also known as the blue hour because of the color of light at this time. This is the period between sunset and night (or night and sunrise) when light levels are low and the fading light illuminates everything in a ghostly glow.

Twilight is a good time for taking long exposure seascapes as the water reflects the fading light, creating contrast between the water and the sand and the rocks. This is a good time to take photos if you don’t have a neutral density filter.

3. Overcast days (for landscape photography). This is popular with photographers who use nine or ten stop neutral density filters to obtain long shutter speeds during the day. If the sun was out, especially during the spring and summer months, the light would be too harsh for good landscape photography. But on a cloudy day, moving clouds add interest to the sky.

4. Sunny weather (for architectural photography). Some photographers take long exposure photos of buildings during the day. The hard sunlight is good for illuminating buildings, especially in black and white (it may look a little boring in color).

A requirement is that there are clouds in the sky. Moving clouds create the contrast between the buildings and the changing sky that you need for a successful long exposure photo.

There is one notable exception to the above guidelines: infra-red photography. For this you need specialist equipment, either an infra-red filter or a camera converted to infra-red.


 Long Exposure Photographers on Flickr

Information from  Andrew S Gibson Blog : Writer & Fine Art  Photographer


Photo from Andrew S Gibson


How to Get the Best Summer Shots

Posted By ammirare / June, 23, 2012 / 0 comments

Summer, the few months of the year when photographers come out of hiding, well, for most of us it isn’t true, but there are some out there who seem to hibernate for the winter and reappear when the sun comes out. You can’t blame them, the summer months offer many great advantages for getting great images, however, there are various challenges and difficulties that we may encounter on the way.

Summer Locations

For many photographers, summer can feel like the best opportunity to get those shots that you’ve been planning for months. Locations that have looked dull and boring through the winter months have come alive during spring and are now at their most appealing.

As well as having the chance to visit fresh new locations, it’s also a great idea to revisit locations that you’ve worked at previously to see how they look in the summer sun. Beaches, gardens, BBQ’s and festivals all make for great settings for summer shots and will enable you to capture that relaxed summery atmosphere.

The Golden Hours

This may well be a term that many of you have heard, but don’t quite understand the concept of. Essentially, during bright sunny days, the sunlight through the middle of the day is extremely strong and bright, often too harsh to get good shots.

The golden hours are the periods of time around sunrise and sunset, during which the sun is far lower and shining from the side. It offers a warmer and less intense light. It is this type of light that photographers favor for their shots, particularly landscapes and portrait work.

Utilizing Bright Light Effectively

It’s vital when working with summer sunlight to avoid overexposing your shots. The vast amounts of natural light will blow out the sky in shots, so keep an eye on your exposure and if needed, stop down a bit to ensure your skies aren’t just a sheet of white. Below are a few creative ways in which you can utilize the bright sunlight and hopefully avoid that nasty overexposure.


Having vast amounts of natural light available will result in the chance to capture some shadows. You may have to wait until slightly later in the day, once the angle of the sun has lowered, but keep your eye out for shadows cast by people and architecture in particular.

Shadow shots also work quite well in black and white because the contrast between the light and dark areas is highlighted.


In a very similar fashion to maximizing the opportunities to take shadow shots, the summer light is great for silhouette shots. Get into a frame of mind that prioritizes shape and form and study the way in which shapes correlate and correspond.

Use architecture or people to help you form shapes that will make for good silhouettes. Remember, the more distinctive the shape the stronger the shot. You may even want to experiment mixing together defined shapes to make some interesting silhouette creations.

Get Your Reflector Out!

We’ve already talked about avoiding the bright sunlight during the summer months, but one way to utilize that abundance of light is to use a reflector to light a subject.

They are particularly useful for portraits and still life work, placing the subject side on to the sun, then using the reflector to bounce the light back towards the subject will allow the warm glow to bring your shot to life.


Sun-Kissed Portraits

For me, a summer evening is the best time to do a portrait shoot. The warm light gives the shot a relaxed and joyful feel and people are happier in the summer sun!

Try finding locations that reflect the season, maybe a field with flourishing crops or a garden with summer blooms. In order to avoid difficulties with strong light, stand your portrait in a possible location and get them to turn on the spot. If you follow them around the 360 degree turn, you’ll be able to tell which angle to the light best suits the shoot.

Using Gradual Changing Light for Landscapes

The summer months give you a chance to get out in the great outdoors and explore the natural world, with the long days and vast amounts of warm light around, it’s an ideal opportunity to try to get those landscape shots you’ve been waiting to take.

Utilize the golden hours and try to work in one location over a few hours in order to capture it as the light develops and changes, you never know when a landscape scene is going to come to life before you as that glimmer of sunlight breaks through the clouds of the sunset casts an array of colours across the sky, but having that extra time to be patient and wait is key. It will give you the best chance of getting the shot you want.

Maximizing in Post Production

For me, post production is about enhancing the atmosphere within a shot, and in the case of a summer shoot, it’s important to maximize that warm vibrant feel. I would use custom white balance in order to ensure that my shot has a warm yellow tint as opposed to anything cold and blue.

You can also tone up the shot by adjusting the color saturation, but be careful to work in small amounts and keep the changes subtle, otherwise you’ll end up with a shot that is bursting with color, but looks entirely unnatural.

Over To You

So there we have it, a few essential tips for summer photography, now it’s up to you to put them into action and try them out for yourselves. Whichever genre or form of photography you prefer working with, landscapes, portraits, street photography, still life, the warm summer light is awaiting you. Try out different shoots to see the ways in which the summer light can give a different feel to your work.


Information from Simon Bray

Photo by Ekaterina Utimisova

Getting Started as a Second Shooter

Posted By ammirare / June, 14, 2012 / 0 comments

Professional photography is an extremely rewarding and enjoyable profession to get into, but getting started can be very difficult. There’s an important distinction between taking photos of your friends for free and getting people to pay you for photography, and the line to profitability is a hard one for many to cross.

Today we’ll discuss one of the best possible methods of beginning to get paid for your work as a photographer: second shooting. We’ll go over what second shooting is, some tips for how to do it well enough to get invited back and how to find second shooter jobs.

Why Second Shooting?

Helping another photographer with a session, also known as being a “second shooter”, is an awesome way to begin to establish yourself as a professional photographer. There are a ton of benefits to second shooting that you may not be able to duplicate going it alone.

First of all, being a second shooter is much less stressful than taking on a project all by yourself. When you’re the lead photographer, you have to handle communication with clients (often a real pain), plan every little detail, take charge on the date of the shoot, spend hours in the post-processing stage and assume liability over anything that goes wrong. As a second shooter, you often don’t have to worry about any of this!

Further, second shooting is a great way to gain experience. Though it may or may not contribute to your portfolio (more on this later) it will give you the experiential knowledge and confidence that you need to step up and run similar events all by yourself.

Finally, being a second shooter gets you acquainted with other photographers in your area. This is something else that we’ll discuss further later in the article but for now just know that making connections with other photographers can really help jumpstart your career.

Tips for Second Shooting

If you’ve landed a second shooting gig, there are definitely a few things that you should know before you jump in. Below you’ll find tips on proper etiquette and some practical advice for making sure one opportunity leads to many.

Make Sure the Terms are Crystal Clear

My first and perhaps most important piece of advice is to make sure you work out all of the “business side” details well before the session date rolls around. Agreements between photographers and their clients are complicated enough, if you throw another independent photographer into the mix, things can blow up fast.

This goes for anyone you’re second shooting for, whether it’s your best friend or a complete stranger. The problem is that inevitably, both you and the other photographer come to the table with unspoken assumptions. For instance, the lead photographer often assumes that all images taken throughout the day belong solely to them. Whether the photos come from your camera or theirs is irrelevant, you’re being paid so you should hand them over without a thought of self-promotion. Meanwhile, your assumption is that you can keep and use any photos that you personally take. Sure, you’re being paid to help out and will gladly hand your photos over, but that doesn’t mean they won’t show up on your portfolio. After all, they are your photos right?

This is just one possible scenario of many. The point is, too many photographers rely on their own assumptions as truth only to find out after the shoot that there is a conflict of opinion. Disagreements after the shoot are far worse than those before. The worse that can happen before the shoot is that the partnership simply never takes place. After the shoot however, both parties have already put in a lot of work and emotions are therefore running high. Arguments get nasty, relationships are permanently severed and in the worse case scenario, lawyers are called.

The simple solution to avoiding all of this is to ask for a simple contract outlining the basic terms of the agreement for both parties. If the photographer shrugs off this idea as too formal, push for it. At the very least, force a conversation and a verbal agreement regarding any areas that you could see going awry. If the photographer still refuses, they probably aren’t professional enough to waste your time helping. Most experienced photographers will be very interested in protecting themselves in the event of a disagreement and would ideally present a contract without you speaking up at all to suggest it.

Bring More Than You Need

The quintessential question every second shooter has for the lead photographer is, “What Should I Bring?” The answer you receive will obviously vary dramatically based on who you’re working with. Many photographers are insistent that you use their equipment because it makes things simpler for them. When it’s their cameras, their cards, and their lights, there is no confusion or concern about reliability. On the other hand, some photographers will prefer that you use what you’re most comfortable with, which will usually be your own equipment.

Regardless of what the answer is, it’s a good idea to pack some backup equipment. There are several reasons for this. It could be the case that the lead photographer isn’t used to packing for two people and will forget something important. Or maybe you’ll be using their backup equipment, which means if something goes wrong, there’s nothing else to reach for to replace it.

Bottom line, photography sessions can be fast-paced and unpredictable. If disaster strikes and you save the day by being prepared, you look like a hero. Anything you can do to establish yourself as a serious professional who brings value to the table will help ensure you get invited back. Which brings us to our next tip.

Make Yourself Useful

Second shooting is a very different situation than running your own event. This person has hired you because they would likely be overwhelmed running the shoot themselves, which means that the best thing that you can do is look for ways to relieve their stress.

Obviously, this relates to actually taking photographs, but it goes well beyond that. Don’t imagine that just because you have a camera around your neck that you are too important for lesser tasks. Here are a few possible ways to make you an indispensable second shooter:

  • Be the first to grab the equipment bags and carry them from location to location.
  • Offer to set up light stands, umbrellas, soft boxes, or even props so the lead photographer can step back and think about the shot.
  • Grab food and water throughout the day for your lead photographer.
  • If you’re walking to different locations, run ahead and do what you can to prep the next area while the lead photographer is finishing up at the last spot.
  • Be prepared with clear advice and solid opinions when asked for them.
  • Watch for anything that the lead photographer doesn’t seem to excited about handling and offer to take it over, whether it’s asking a bride a question or helping some wayward children look towards the camera with their best “cheese” smiles.
  • Try to make yourself busy when the other photographer sits down for a break. They will really see your value when they realize how much work is getting done even when they need to take a quick breather!

All of these things may not be the most glorious tasks to place on your photography resume, but if you resent them then you should probably be focusing on getting your own gigs. Remember that being a second shooter is about building experience and connections while you earn a little extra income, not about being a rockstar professional photographer. Our next tip takes this discussion further.

It’s Not About You

As much as it may suck, being a second shooter means that you’re not necessarily going to be in charge of much, if any of the session. Great second shooters are those that know when they should stay in the passenger seat and when to jump in and drive.

Don’t spend the day offering too much unsolicited advice (notice above we said to be prepared when asked) or trying to convince the lead photographer that they’re doing something wrong. And if you do make suggestions, don’t be whiny about how your ideas aren’t being heard or how you’re creativity is being squelched. When someone hires you specifically to shoot an event, you get to call the shots and do whatever you want, but when someone hires you to help out, you have to be prepared to work in an entirely different way.

One huge faux pas in this area is self-promotion. You might approach this innocently enough and begin discussing your own business with a few of the guests at the event, it might even be someone else who begins the conversation. However, you have to remember that if you’re shooting with Jane Smith, that day you’re part of the Jane Smith photography team. You don’t have to lie and run away from questions about yourself, but try to be respectful of the person who hired you.

Don’t Shoot The Same Thing

One of the most practical pieces of advice that you can keep in mind is to pay close attention to what the lead photographer, and any other member of the team, is shooting. If you’ve ever sorted through 5,000 wedding photos from multiple shooters then you know that 200 shots of the same scene from a few inches apart really isn’t valuable to anyone.

If you’re just getting started with professional photography, it can be very tempting to just cling to the lead photographer and stay at their heels the entire day, pointing your camera at anything they seem to think is important. However, you’ll be seen as far more helpful if, when they sort through the photos, they see that you genuinely captured all kinds of things that they didn’t or even couldn’t.

This can take many forms. Perhaps you focus on decoration detail shots while they’re shooting people, or maybe you take a few shots from the ground looking up while they are at eye level. The point is to find the gaps in coverage and put yourself in that position.

A word of caution while following this advice though, nothing is more annoying than a second shooter who ends up in half of your shots. While working those unique angles, always keep an eye on the lead photographer’s lens. The second it points at you, it’s time to move quickly out of the way. If you’re being continually asked to move a few feet over, you should take the hint that you’re being more of a pain than a resource.

Learn Everything You Can

One thing to keep at the forefront of your brain the entire session is that there is always more to learn and watching other photographers in action is a great way to do it. This goes for every aspect of the shoot. Take note of how the lead photographer interacts with the people, how they dress, how they structure poses and anything else you can glean.

In many cases, a more experienced photographer will offer to be the second shooter for a less experienced photographer. If this is the case for you, never kid yourself that you’re too advanced to learn something new. Just because you’ve been shooting for ten years and you’re helping someone who has been shooting for six months doesn’t mean that they don’t possess both experiential and technical knowledge that you don’t. If anything, sometimes watching other shooters helps you become aware of poor tendencies you might have. For example, maybe you constantly ignore the suggestions and feedback of the person that you’re photographing but won’t become aware of this tendency until you spot the same thing in another photographer.

Don’t Give Up After the First Time

Despite all your preparation and hard work, sometimes everything will go horribly wrong. We’ve all walked away from a shoot wondering how it’s possible that such a seemingly simple task as snapping a few photos could turn into such a disaster.

When you’re new, having one of these experiences could really turn you off to second shooting. Or, if you’re the lead photographer, a bad day could turn you off of the idea of hiring second shooters all together. My advice is, don’t let a single experience form your judgment, try it a few times before you decide whether or not it’s right for you.

Sometimes a bad day is just a fluke, other times you just got stuck working with someone you hate. Ask yourself what went wrong and how you can potentially make it better the next time, even if that means finding someone new to shoot with.


Information from writer and designer Josh Johnson

Perfect Portrait Background

Posted By ammirare / June, 14, 2012 / 0 comments

Flatter your portrait subject with the perfect background, even if you don’t have professional backdrops or lighting. A little exposure and composition know-how can get you a long way toward a beautiful portrait background.

This tutorial is a grab-bag of helpful ideas for photographers of any level. I’ve written them with the idea that once you master them all, you will have a bag of tricks at your disposal. Pull out one or combine several, and you’ll be able to quickly adapt to all kinds of lighting and subject situations and walk away with a wonderful portrait. Many of the techniques, however, work best with just one or two subjects. As a group becomes larger, you’ll find your available options becoming fewer. Such is the life of a portrait photographer!


Crop Out Distractions

Have you ever looked around you and been disappointed about your subject’s location? Maybe it’s a messy home interior or an unremarkable backyard. A location might appear boring at first, but you can improve it by thinking about what your camera “sees”. Look through your viewfinder and pay attention to what’s visible in the background. Get down low or up high. Get in close and to the side. Notice the effect of your movement on what you see in the viewfinder.

One of the most important things you can do to get rid of background distractions is to get in closer to your subject. This is thought of as “in-camera cropping”.

Look Down or Up

In almost every situation, if you get above your subject and look down, you’ll likely find a decent – or even great – background. At the very least you’ll avoid power lines, street signs, or any other distractions. I’m not very tall, so sometimes this means that I need to have my subject get on the ground, kneel, crouch, or otherwise. Or, I’ve been known to climb trees or stand on walls, chairs, park benches, etc. Taking pictures of a child or baby? You’re all set! One other approach is to look up and use tree leaves or the sky for your background.

Blur, Baby

This step is critical, but your options change depending on the lens you’re using in two ways: aperture and focal length. Blur increases with the length of the lens and the size of your lens opening. Regardless of your lens, however, moving in close to your subject and positioning them further from the background will increase the amount of blurring you can get. Open up your lens and shoot with the aperture as wide as you can. If you’ve got just one subject, you can shoot at f1.8 or f2. Blurring the background as much as you can will allow you to make the ground, a wall, anything far away from your subject, turn into a pleasant background.

Exposure Trickery

I remember being amazed when I first learned that you can make a background go completely black or white just by how you make your exposure. What a cool trick! By taking advantage of bright skies or dark shadows, you can be anywhere and no one would ever know that you didn’t use a professional backdrop. This trick can be a tutorial or even book of its own, but I’m going to keep it simple: your camera can only record a limited range of light. So start with the light falling on your subject. Now think about the comparativeamount of light on your background. If there’s a big difference, either much more or much less light, what your camera records will either be solid black or solid white.

If your background is a shadow area, for example, there won’t be enough light reflected back into the camera to register anything on your sensor. If your background is a bright, even blue, sky that’s much brigher than your subject, so much light will get into your sensor, it’ll just record all white. I should mention that getting a white background is different from what’s called “blowing” out your highlights, which is considered a technical error that occurs when your camera’s sensor gets too much light and doesn’t get anything at all in a range of pixels. You want the sensor to record white, not nothing, if that makes sense.

Just remember to measure the exposure of your subject, not the background, and you’ll be on your way!

Subject-to-Background Distance

It’s often a great idea to increase the distance between your subject and your background. Benefits include increasing blur (Step 3) and increasing the likelihood that the background will go to white or black [increased difference between the amount of light on your subject compared to the amount of light on your background (Step 5). You’ll also add depth to your image, which makes for a more interesting composition.


Mottled or Blurred Light

Bright sunlit patches or blurred lights can make for a very pleasing background. Mottled sunlight can spell disaster when it falls on your subject’s face or even body if you’re not using it intentionally. But if you’re careful, and you’re outside on a sunny day, use the light shining through trees to your advantage in the background.

Feed the Flare

When I was in photo school, I was taught that lens flare was the result of bad compositional technique, and I’m sure there are people who still hate it any time they see it in an image. However, especially in wedding and engagement portraiture, lens flare is used intentionally to add interest to what might otherwise be a boring background or to obscure a distracting one. The best part is that your cheaper lenses work better since the expensive ones have been engineered to reduce the likelihood of flare.


  1. Position the sun so it’s in the frame (but don’t look at the sun because I don’t want to be sued after someone read this and went blind!)
  2. Use a cheap lens.
  3. Use a smaller aperture to get a more star-like shape to the flare.

Complement the Subject’s Eye Color

Finally, find colors that will flatter your subject, usually by bringing out their eyes. Bark groundcover or even dirt or sand can make a person with brown eyes look vibrant. Green leaves or plants blurred out or a blue sky can highlight blue and green eyes.


Information from Valerie Robinson


 Photo from Ekaterina Utimisova