Monday, November 24, 2008

Better Photography - Look at the Light

photo by:ChrisY

Story by: Duncan Wherrett

Photoshop is now one of the major computer programmes around. The basis of it all, however, is the photographic image.

Very often the quality of the original image can get overlooked or can be considered unimportant. We hear sentences like: "Oh that'll do - we'll fix it later in Photoshop".

Perhaps it can, but starting off with a better photograph in the first place can save a lot of trouble later.
Well begun is half done.

Light does have a special place in photography, but all too often it is largely
ignored, whereas in actual fact, different light can change the whole scene
dramatically. Good photography requires lighting rather than light and when
shooting outside, the light can be controlled and used in much the same way
as it is used when photography is undertaken in a studio.

At the risk of stating the obvious, light is a visual thing, and it should be
considered in its own right and used and controlled as much as possible by
being more selective about the time and place when the photograph is taken.
A change in the light will change the landscape and with a little practice these
changes will soon be noticed.

Spring light in the early morning gives a feel to
a scene not found later in the day.

Early morning light and sun have a unique quality not found at other times
– a freshness and sparkle with or without any mist. Such circumstances
give a special feel to most situations, and it can be worth rising for an early
morning walk in order to catch these moments. The atmosphere of a scene
will, therefore, be greatly influenced by the light and the same scene can look
very different in the sun, under cloud or in the numerous changing weather

Evening light adds warm tones and, with long dramatic shadows, will give extra modelling to the subject. The same scene photographed with a high sun in the middle of the day can look flat and uninteresting.

The low sun emphasizes the shape and character of the scene.

Back light, that is shooting into the sun, also has its own qualities, giving attractive halos to the subjects.
If there is water in the scene, such as a lake or river, then the use of back light will put a real sparkle into the water.
With the sun in front of the photographer, the water has a sparkle it would not have if the sun had been in any other position.

Even the sun behind the photographer can be effective sometimes, although it is not generally recommended, because it will make the subject look too flat and characterless. The very low sun over one's shoulder late in the day, however, can give colours a strength and richness not normally seen.
It's under such circumstances, with the sun behind the photographer, that rainbows are usually seen.

Perhaps one of the most appealing types of sunlight is that of dapple light,
with a strong sun shining through trees and lighting up the subject in patches.
In any season, such sunlight can really make the picture, with its depth and
multitude of tones. If there is any early mist around, the sunlight might be
seen as shafts of light and with autumn leaves there is likely to be an extra
warm glow to the colour of the light.

Dapple light can give an interesting look to a scene.

There can be situations where a cloudy day is best. Strong sun gives a
bright picture but it also gives high contrast. When the sun is shining in a
narrow street or a picturesque alley in a Mediterranean village, some of the
street will be in strong sunshine and some of it will be in shadow.

This will give a contrast range which is so extreme that it will not be possible to produce a good print through a normal printing system. In such circumstances, if you can manage to photograph that side street or market corner on a cloudy day or when no sun is directly on that area, then the lighting will be much more even and all of the detail will be printable.

Certain lighting conditions can definitely be a bonus:

  • sun poking through the clouds
  • sun on rain-covered ground
  • a shaft of sunlight coming through a window or doorway.

All this means that it is not advisable to shoot too quickly, but to look at the
light and consider its effect. The sun brings out colours and brings everything
alive so it can be worth waiting perhaps 10 minutes for the weather to change, or going back on another more suitable occasion.

A potentially good picture can be a great disappointment purely because
the light at the time does not do the scene justice. It can often be better to save the film on a very dreary day and return later when the sun has moved round to the best side of a building or landscape.

Just a short walk might be sufficient for that gap in the clouds that will
send out shafts of sunlight; or try using the gathering storm clouds to your
photographic advantage before running for cover.


* Look at the light, and its effect on the subject
* Don't shoot too quickly but be prepared to come back when the light might be more suitable.

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Photographs which illustrate the points described here can be seen at
A reminder then that better photography makes later work in Photoshop easier.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Wildlife Photography: Natural Light For Great Wildlife Photos.

photo taken at 11.30am in the morning by: Home Photography
(Click on image to view larger version)

Wildlife photography combines a range of skills, both creative and technical. Many people struggle with one aspect in particular; knowing the best light for capturing their wildlife photo.

To take a top-class wildlife photograph, you need to know your animal; where to find it, how to approach it without scaring it away, and how to know the precise moment to press the button to capture the character of the subject. Often a wildlife photographer will spend hours trying to get a good shot. What a shame, then, if all that effort is wasted by taking your photo in bad light.

As a nature photographer, I have learned that the ideal light for a photo can vary depending on the subject. Landscape photos are usually best photographed in sunny weather, early in the morning or late in the afternoon when the contrast is low and the light is soft and colouful. On the hand, rainforest photography is usually best in the middle of the day, in cloudy weather to eliminate extremes of light and shade. To understand the best lighting for wildlife photography, you can take a lesson from both landscape and rainforest photography.

To get the best light for a wildlife photo, you are really looking to minimize contrast, and to eliminate shadows from important areas; especially across the face of your subject.

If you take your photos in the middle of a sunny day, you are bound to encounter shadows in all the wrong places. Bright light is likely to overexpose parts of the subject, while the face and the underside of the animal could be lost in heavy shadow. The result will be unattractive, and lacking in much of the detail that should give character to your photo.

There is nothing wrong with taking your wildlife photos on a sunny day. Just remember the lesson from landscape photography and seek to take your photos early in the morning and late in the afternoon. At these times the sun is shining from a more horizontal angle, so it will illuminate the full face of the subject; you are less likely to have shadows over the eyes and other important features. If there are shadows, they will be much softer because the contrast is much lower when the sun is low in the sky.

The light at these times is also much more colourful, with the golden hues you associate with sunrise and sunset. This is a classic technique for improving landscapes, but it can be just as effective for wildlife. The warmth of the light can create an intimacy in your pictures that is completely lost in the harsh light of midday.

Your other option is to follow the example of rainforest photography and take your photos on a cloudy day. This allows you to catch your subject in very even, low-contrast light.

I find cloudy days particularly useful for animals with glossy surfaces. A frog, for example, has a shiny skin that reflects a lot of light. In glary conditions a green frog may appear mostly grey or silver in a photo. On a cloudy day the same frog will be shown in its true colours.

Birds can often appear more colourful on a cloudy day, for the very same reason. The sun shining on glossy feathers can create a lot of reflection, robbing the photo of its natural colour. It may seem the opposite of what you would expect, but the dull light of a cloudy day can actually produce the truest colours in a bright wildlife subject.

One final question you may ask: should you use a flash to illuminate a wildlife photo? My answer to that is a definite "NO." Flash photography bathes the subject in white light, coming from directly in front of the subject. It may illuminate the subject, but at the same time rob it of the natural play of light and shade that makes a good photo so appealing.

Some wildlife photography experts use multiple flashes to brightly illuminate a subject from every possible angle. This can be effective when it is done well, but remember; these are experts in flash photography. If you are at the beginner stage, I recommend learning to work with natural light. When you get the hang of it, I guarantee you will be happy with the results.

Check out Andrew Goodall's popular wildlife and landscape photography at , and learn from his experience with the top selling ebook "Photography in Plain English." Don't forget to sign up to the online newsletter for tips and's free!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Photo Studio Accessories

Story by: Sharpics

Now that you have decided to set up a photo studio, you can start hunting for the tools you require.

The first and foremost thing of course is the camera. Depending on how good you are at photography, you can choose from the basic digital SLR camera or a point and shoot type, a semi pro model or if you are a confident user, the professional model. Select a large memory card to begin with or even perhaps get one or two extra. Most cameras have a display screen. It is better to have one as this allows you to perceive the composition of your image before you shoot. Just in case you haven’t come across one with this feature, look for one with a video-output so that it is possible for you to attach the camera to a TV or computer screen to preview the results.

When it comes to studio photography, a tripod is one thing you cannot do without. There are many varieties to choose from to suit your needs. It provides a steady support. And stable platform for your camera.

It is important to use the correct lighting. These comes in as continuous or tungsten and flash. With the more traditional continuous lighting is cheaper and easy to work with as this gives what you see is what you get image. Tungsten lighting produces a lot of heat and it can be uncomfortable to both the photographer and the subject.

The flash lighting or strobe lighting also creates near-to-perfection results. This also you can choose from an array of things you get in the market. There are flash adapter rings, flash battery packs, flash diffusers, flash brackets; flash modules flash synchronizers to make your life easy with.

A good lens set is also needed in your studio. Other than the standard lenses, there are zoom lenses wide angle lenses, macro lenses to choose from.

You can enhance the use of the lighting methods by incorporating the use of backdrop accessories. They come as umbrellas, softbox. You can use just white paper or fabric to achieve the desired results as well or even paint your backdrop with acrylic paints. You can add a decorative backdrop too, which also comes as a backdrop accessory.

Next the use of a reflector will help you to cast away the shadows you tend to get while shooting. These will soften shadows and reduce reflections. You can achieve this by holding a white cardboard to reflect those shadows or you can buy a number of things available in the market. Reduce hot spots

There are software solutions available to help you with the minor faults while shooting. There are software solutions available to correct or enhance practically every drawback you have.

There are carrying cases available to suit all your equipments, which make it easy for you to carry them around if any need arise. They are compact and beautifully built.

All these gadgets are available in a wide variety so that one can choose what suits their need and pocket and make their photographic experience a pleasant one.

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Sharpics specialises in
tabletop camera
, camera tabletop stand, tabletop studio.We offer portable seamless
backgrounds, daylight studio lighting,
and tabletop monopods
for camera stability.

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