Category Archives: Things to try

Things that photographers can try out and enjoy.

Seven Easy Photography Tips With Simple Props

Simple props  Seven DIY Photography Tips Using Household Objects | External link - opens new tab/page

Seven DIY Photography Tips Using Household Objects
(Image from the video)

Use your imagination

You are a photographer right? Then your imagination must be one of your key assets. So don’t just use it with your shots, use it to find simple props too. Think about how you can make your shot better without buying new expensive stuff. Go DIY. Just look around your home for inspiration. Here are some tips to get you started.

Simple Props – just look around you

When we are working on our shots we often think only of the difficult shot, the ‘different’ viewpoint, or the unique perspective. With all aspects of our photography we try to bring something different to the shot. Something to make our viewers think. Something to give them a new insight.

Often ordinary things in our lives inspire a new way of looking at things. In each of our houses are many things we can deploy as simple props in our everyday photography. The video below shows us some of those things and how to shoot with them. But it is not too much of a push for us to look at other household objects as inspiring for our shots. Here is a list of the sorts of things that can help you get started on some new ideas…

  • A pile of books
  • Kitchen tools
  • A candle
  • Chess board and pieces (or other game)
  • A toy
  • Drawing pins (or any stationary)
  • Cut glass ornaments

With a little imagination you use simple props to make some extraordinary shots. I am sure you have many such items you can use for your shots.

The key to using simple props…

There is nothing extraordinary about the simple props I have listed. What will make your shots different is how you use these things. You can start very easily. Get some ideas together first as inspiration. Try these links. The phrase in quotes was entered into the search engine:

Personally I find stationary is great for photography. It definitely provides simple props to work with. Here is an example of my own…

Simple props  Bulldog clip - When you are different, make sure you stand out! | External link - opens new tab/page

Bulldog clip – When you are different, make sure you stand out!
[Click the image to see it full size on http://365project.org/

Spend a little time playing with the phrase you put into the search engine. You will quickly expand the range of images you get as examples. Draw your ideas from the pictures you see. Then set about working on how you are going to use your simple props as you make your image.

7 DIY Photography Tips Using Household Objects – the video


Uploaded by: COOPH

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Using tablets in photography

[Todays article comes from contributing author, Honest Blossom]

Photo of a camera taken with a tablet as a light source.

Taking shots in soft light is so easy with a soft light source. A tablet can provide just that.
{Image by Damon Guy}

Mobile devices give us new tools

Mobile photography is on the rise. Yet despite high usage of smart phones and tablets many believe nothing beats photos produced on a DSLR.

Mobile devices do have a place in the photogs bag. Many pros use mobiles Tablets in photography | External link - opens new tab/page effectively. Photographer-author Anne Hamersky used her iPhone 5 to take photos for her book, “Farm Together Now Tablets in photography: Link to Amazon | External link - opens new tab/page (jointly authored with Amy Franceschini and Daniel Tucker)”.

Apart from being used as cameras, smart phones and tablets in photography have huge potential. They can assist with simple lighting, easy viewing of images, and controlling cameras.

1. Simple Lighting

You don’t need professional lighting equipment to create a soft light. Your tablet can create shadow graduations on your subject. How? Use a bright-white image on your screen (Download white-screen image here). Point the display toward your subject. It will create soft light and shadows. You can also use your smart phone to light smaller objects. The screen illumination produces white light. It’s a source of localized soft light in your image.

Table-top studio photo showing how to use a tablet as a soft light source.

The camera image at the top of this article was taken using the table-top studio set up in this image. Simple to do and simple to set up.

Use tablets in photography to create direct light too. Devices with built-in flash can be used as a photographic light. Use a flashlight (torch) app. There are also some LED light apps. that you can use on your tablet to create coloured light sources.

2. Camera Controller

Want to control your camera functions via your tablet? Try the Chainfire app for Android devices. You can use your tablet as a Canon EOS camera controller. Here is how to do it:

  1. Install the Chainfire app Tablets in photography: Chainfire app. | External link - opens new tab/page.
  2. Connect your DSLR to the tablet via a USB OTG connector line and a mini USB cable for the camera. {Tip: It’s best to get a longer USB cable}.
  3. Turn on the camera and the app to view the subject.

Navigating through the app is easy, as it uses the controls of your camera. Photos taken using the camera can also be saved to the memory card of the tablet. I suggest downloading photos to your computer later. Photos take a lot of space and are safer on a PC.

View a guide on how to use the Chainfire app Tablets in photography: Chainfire app guide. | External link - opens new tab/page. Also read more details on the Chainfire website Tablets in photography: Chainfire website | External link - opens new tab/page.

3. Field or Preview monitor

It’s advisable to opt for a tablet with at least a 9-inch display. The main purpose of using a tablet is as an extended monitor. You will get a better preview of the subject than the small display on your DSLR. According to O2, tablets such as the Apple’s iPad Air (9.7-inch screen) and ‘Samsung Galaxy Tab S’ (10.5-inch screen) are the best preview monitors you can use on a photo shoot Tablets in photography | External link - opens new tab/page. They allow more space to view and work with the images. You are less likely to strain your eyes with decent sized screens.

Using tablets in photography to control the camera uses the same procedure as any shoot. Taking the shot is set up and released from the mobile. You will need a USB OTG connector to use the tablet as a preview monitor. Applications such as the DSLR Controller, GoPro, CamCap, Helicon Remote, and DslrDashboard are the advisable software to use.

Tablets in photography – top devices

What are the top tablets for photographers? There are various devices to choose from. They offer many features and functions. Choosing one can be quite confusing when picking the best to help your shoots.

To make it easier, consider the other reasons you’re buying the tablet. Email and editing photos or other uses are also important. This will help narrow down your list of choices, as most devices have their own strengths. It will also help to opt for a tablet that has been recommended by other photographers. Here are some examples:

  1. Apple iPad with Retina Display
  2. Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2
  3. Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet
  4. Microsoft Surface 2
  5. Lenovo Yoga Tab

Mobile devices have found their way into DSLR photography because of powerful camera lenses and relevant apps. These assist professional and amateur alike. The changes have come about because using tablets in photography helps and simplifies our work.

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Contributing author: Honest Blossom

Honest Blossom is a seasoned blogger and practising photographer from the UK. She has written various articles ranging from the latest technology and innovation, travelling spots, mobile and digital photography and more.

Backdrops – make them yourself

Create your own backdrops.

Here is a quick and simple way to create a great backdrop. You can produce your own great designs with a little creativity.
Image from the video below.

The shots and the props can be creative

Great backdrops often make a picture. The simple ones are the best. They do not pull the viewers eye from the subject of the shot. Instead they focus your viewer on your subject. A backdrop should create an environment for the shot that both completes the scene and brings out the best in the subject.

Photography is creative and the backdrops should be too

There are a million creative things you can do with your pictures. Making backdrops can be equally as creative. In addition they add a new spin and level of creativity to your shots.

You can make backdrops out of wood, canvas, sheets, paper, metal… well millions of things. Be careful they are not too heavy. If they fall and hit someone they might be injured. Don’t make backdrops too flimsy. They might fall apart during the shoot. Apart from that the sky is the limit!

Here are some ideas I have seen used to good effect.

  • Autumnal leaves densely stuck to an old sheet.
  • Spaghetti stuck to an old sheet.
  • Chinese lettering enlarged in a copier and stuck on white wall paper liner.
  • Wallpaper of many designs.
  • Hundreds of pieces of string hanging down.
  • Dozens of electric lights hanging down.
  • Hundreds of Wooden scraps nailed to five planks in a random fashion.
  • White back drop paper with lightly pencilled circles drawn all over it.
  • A white sheet “tie and dyed” with various patterns.

I am sure you can think of many more creative ways to enhance your shoot with DIY backdrops. Just take a little time to think over what you need for your shoot.

Here is a Google search for “Creative backdrops images“. Plenty of ideas there to stimulate your thinking!

Some simple principles for good backdrops

Some backdrops are simply not right for the shot. Of course there are those artists who seem to make anything work. For those of us who need a little guidance, here are some principles to help you design your backdrop:

  • Do not make the backdrop stronger or brighter than the subject.
  • Choose colours that bring out the colours in your subject.
  • Use colours and designs that almost fade into obscurity allowing the subject to blossom.
  • Allow your backdrops to complement the subject – not clash with it.
  • Use texture, tonality and hue to vary the background so it appears to be slightly 3D.
  • Be careful that patterns do not emerge unless they are deliberate.

These are not rules. They are guidelines to get you started. Of course as your skill as a photographer and backdrop-maker develop you can make or break these principles. Have fun. Make great shots!

How to make your own studio photography backdrop – video

In the video below there is a quick and simple method of setting up a canvas backdrop. It can be done in a few hours. If you don’t have much space you can make it out of doors. Enjoy this video short and let it help your mind be creative.

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Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photographer and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.

Exposure changes the mood of your image

Exposure changes can affect many aspects of an image.

Exposure changes can affect many aspects of an image. Colour, mood, visual impact, contrast and others. The second image below show the differences.
Image better seen large. Click image to view large.

There is no such thing as a perfect exposure

The main goal of starter photographers is to control the exposure. The Exposure Triangle, or other models of balancing light, lead learners to pursue ‘perfection’. Once they grasp the concept of balancing ISO, Aperture and Shutter speed, the needle in the camera viewfinder is their guide.

In manual mode, that central needle is important. It shows that the three elements are balanced. The unwary learner is soon overwhelmed by that needle. They have learned how to keep it central. Now they are going to keep it there despite everything. They have learned that, if the exposure changes, the needle drifts off the middle position. When that happens it is no longer “perfect”.

That mid-position needle is useful. However, it is not ‘perfection’. It is just a guide. Modern camera manufacturers have made things easy for the camera user. The technology, sensors and controls on a modern camera mislead the unwary into a false position. Complex technology and controls give the user confidence that the camera must be right. They assume the central needle creates the perfect capture. That is simply not true.

The balance of light controls the quality of outcome you want. Your final image is created by that quality of light. The creative photographer uses exposure changes to to conjure up the result they want. A good photographer commands the camera to create the picture. The camera does not create the perfect exposure for the user. The user makes exposure changes to create the desired image. Deliberate under or overexposure is an important part of creating your image.

Exposure changes allow you to command the camera

In the image below we see (almost) the same picture as above…

A different quality of exposure changes the whole experience of the picture.

This second image shows same scene as above. But the different quality of exposure changes the experience of the picture. This outcome is no more correct than the top picture. However, when it was taken this one was 1 and 1/3 stops underexposed on the camera viewfinder scale. It was taken within seven seconds of the first image.
Image better seen large. Click image to view large.

Exposure changes allow the user to create the mood of the shot. This is clearly shown by the deeper contrasts, more saturated blues in the sky and reds in the Autumnal leaves. The low sunlight brings out the shadows and colours more. It all adds up. Together they create a very different view of this fountain scene. A twilight feel perhaps.

I was trying to create an Autumn evening view and the deliberate underexposure gave me the key. Yes, I deliberately underexposed to create the effect. I was commanding the camera to create my “perfect” scene for what I wanted.

Experienced photogs make exposure changes regularly

For me, the darker version was right for the reasons I needed that photograph. The control of the intensity of shadows, colours, contrasts, and so on, can be done many ways.

For example, High key shots often use exposure changes. They are created by deliberate overexposure. That brings out the intense whites in a high key image.

Many portraits are lit very brightly to the eye, but a very small aperture or fast shutter speed limits the light entering the camera. This will create an underexposure bringing out the facial features. This gives shadows a depth, without harshness, as can be seen in the next image. This use of exposure changes is a great mood enhancer.

Portrait shot in bright light but underexposed in-camera.

Portrait underexposed in-camera creates a tonally controlled result.

Create the exposure changes you want

How do you create this effect of under or overexposure? Simple. There is a control that can do it in auto or semi-auto modes. While in an auto-mode use the “exposure compensation” dial. You can add or subtract one or two stops of light. You can find out how to use the dial in your manual.

For the learner going fully manual it is even easier. That central needle position is your guide to what the camera calculates as an optimum light level for the shot. To create a manual over or underexposure simply dial the exposure-meter back or forward. Move the needle away from the central position. Shocking I know. You actually create exposure changes by deviating from the central needle position.

Exposure changes of one stop halves or doubles the light entering the camera. So be careful. Take several test shots. Dial one third of a stop or more at a time. Look at the result and check if you have created the right effect.

Create your image in mind – then make exposure changes to suit

The way you want your image is a creative decision. The camera should not be allowed to dictate the outcome.

You have two choices. If you go with the settings the camera gives you, the result is an optimum of the balance of the settings. If you can foresee what you want to achieve, then create your own result. In this case, make the balance of settings so the exposure changes to your choice. Your choice will be different to the result the camera would give you. But with care and practice it will be what you intend for your shot. You have taken control.

So next time you are taking a photo consider this. If you think your picture would be more effective as a darker or lighter representation, then make the exposure changes you need. Do it – create. Really make your images – don’t just capture what is there.

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Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photographer and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.

Photography hacks – adapting your equipment

Seven photography hacks :: adapting your equipment

Seven photography hacks

Photography hacks- making something work differently

In most shots our standard equipment does what is required. Yet, the standard shot is not always what we want. Sometimes we want to make some special effort to provide a different effect, a new view. There are many thousands of photography hacks. Each one can give us something different. Some are more radical than others. But what it really comes down to is making our equipment fit our need to get a specific type of outcome.

Regular readers will know that creative work often involves visualisation. Seeing a hoped-for image outcome in your head helps you to have ideas. Such pre-thinking can help you plan how to use or adapt your equipment. To get the desired result you may have to do all sorts of small adaptions. Walk into any working studio and you will see, card, boards, gaffer tape, clamps, flags. They are all there to help jury-rig things into a new way of creating an effect for the shoot.

These photography hacks are the mainstay of studio work and important on location too. You can do lots of simple things to change the light, the colours, the shadows, the effects of light on your lens, and so on. All that is required is to try and think ahead about what you want to achieve. Then, find ways to change your equipment to get the effect. Familiarity with your equipment helps. As you get creative, then other ideas will come to mind. Look around for ways to change things, or to get new effects.

Photography hacks video

In the video, “7 Simple Photography Hacks” you can get an insight into some of the basic ideas. These are a good start for some examples you can develop yourself. Spend a little time thinking about things you have around you. See if some of them could be used in your own photography hacks.
Provided by COOPH Photography hacks video | External link - opens new tab/page

Messy

The “Vaseline” photography hack in the video can be a bit messy. Only do it on a filter, not the lens. And, try to keep any of the “Vaseline” off the rest of the camera. It is difficult to clean up too. So use an old filter.

Another photography hack for you to try

Here is another idea you can use. It is less messy and gives some satisfying results too…

  • Cut a section out of a fine quality pair of ladies tights (psst… make sure they are surplus first!).
  • Pull the piece tight across the end of your lens.
  • Fix it in place by securing it with elastic bands tight enough over the end of the lens to hold it taught.
  • Take your photo through the material of the tights.
  • To vary the effect, you can make a central hole in the material.
  • Try different colours, try different types of tights knit.

This one is a very old photography hack. It used to be used a lot in wedding shoots years ago. It is just as effective today. Have a go. It is fun.

Let us have some of your shots. We would love to put up a few for others to see.

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Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photographer and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.

Looking for the natural detail

Looking for natural detail :: It is all too easy to miss the finer details in nature.

• Looking for the natural detail •
Casual observation often misses the natural detail in a scene. Most of us are guilty of walking past the fascinating detail and seeing only the bigger picture.

Getting closer to the riches.

“I’m sure we’ve all walked along a beach, enjoying the moment. A time to kick off shoes, socks and the shackles of daily life. To relax in one’s own world, exploring new surroundings. But do we soak up all we see around us or do we merely pass by, with little more than a cursory glance? To stop and look closely, could be considered a luxury – but then why not? Enjoy all the riches a beach has to share, it fuels our memories all through the winter time. Is it real, or just a dream?”

These are the opening words to a sequence from the second presentation in my Hebridean Trilogy, entitled “The Island Dream”. And how true they are. I am sure we have all been guilty of overlooking the finer natural detail, spread out as it is, all around us.

Natural detail :: Patterns left by the falling tide as the sea, sand and peat mingle

• Water patterns in the sand •
Patterns left by the falling tide, as the sea, sand and peat mingle on a Hebridean Island.

Natural detail – the wonders up close

I am often on my knees, on a beach, photographing the wonders to be seen up close. Whether they be patterns left by the falling tide, as the sea and the sand and the peat mingle together, or broken shells who have ended thier life by being smashed in the endless surf.

You don’t need specialist equipment or Macro lenses to capture this natural detail. Most cameras have a close up feature incorporated which adjusts the camera’s settings accordingly. With your feet and legs set firm in the sand, and holding the camera tightly, you can almost replicate a tripod. This ensures images are sharp and in focus where they have to be.

Natural detail :: Shells which ended their life smashed in the endless surf.

• Broken shells •
Shells which ended their life smashed in the endless surf.


You may also need to consider lighting. We photographers often keep the sun behind us. When crouched on the beach your subject could be in deep shade. This is tasking the camera too far. Perhaps a bright but overcast day would be better, avoiding strong directional light which may cause camera sensors to work overtime.

A quiet, wondrous place

A quiet beach in the right light can be a wondrous place. Try mooching along the sand, being careful not to leave footprints where you may later wish to photograph. No need to rush either, enjoy the rare moment.

Natural detail :: You can almost replicate a tripod

• Detail in the sand •
With feet and legs set firm in the sand you can almost replicate a tripod for your natural detail shot.


I recall a visit to Harris, in the Outer Hebrides. One beach offered me countless opportunities to photograph the finer points of natural detail. I must have spent several hours, in glorious warm sunshine, ambling along the shore line. I can’t recall now how many images I got. It must have been several dozen. With digital, if the shot doesn’t work for you, at least you can delete it later. In the days of colour transparencies, you couldn’t delete them and each shot had a cost attached. Even then you couldn’t see how it had come out!

Work the scene

So my advice is to find a suitable beach and “work it” hard, but in a relaxed fashion. Enjoy both the atmosphere and the images you find.

Natural detail :: On a beach there's fine detail is all around.

• Fine detail everywhere •
Find a suitable beach and “work it” hard. The natural detail is all around.


Photography should be fun and not a chore. I used to be most concerned if, after 3 or 4 weeks shooting in the Hebrides, I came home with very few images. Nowadays it doesn’t bother me so much, as I have revelled in the hidden beauty of the wonderful Hebridean Islands.

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Ruari Cumming ARPS (contributing author)

Words and images by: © Ruari Cumming ARPS/Hebridean-Island-Images.com
Ruari has been photographing the Hebridean Islands for many years. He is a distinguished photographer holding the “ARPS  External link - opens new tab/page” award. He continues to take stunning pictures of the landscapes, beaches and people of the Islands. He also regularly gives talks on his work. More… Hebridean Island Images Hebridean Island Images | External link - opens new tab/page

Family day out – three tips to help you remember

Family day out :: Try not to take formal shots on the beach

• Family day out •
The memories are preserved better if you have relaxed shots. Don’t ruin the day obsessing about your photography – make a story. Forget the world class aesthetics and concentrate on the stuff of memories.

Capture the spirit of the day out.

The “Family day out” is one of the important bonding moments for a family. When you get to your destination the family relax and spend time doing what they enjoy. Memories are made of great days out. And, your pictures of the day make for wonderful memory-moments when you look back.

Often photogs out for the day tend to line people up in stiffly-posed formal positions. The informal clothing and location put these poses at odds with the scene. And it is not all about great aesthetics either. The family day out is more about people enjoying themselves than it is about achieving a world class image.

Here are three tips to help you get the most out of your family day out memory-shots.

Family day out – the candid moment

It’ll be fun, especially if you have the children there. So the most important thing is to get them doing what they enjoy. There is a problem though. You’ll never get a memorable family day out image if you spend the day fretting about getting it all just right.

Sometimes as photographers we get rather precious about poses, backgrounds, set up, simplifying scenes… It all has to be right. But does it really? Capturing a family scene is about your memory. Great aesthetics are one thing. Seeing your loved ones in a memory popping moment is another. So, relax your high principles – for the sake of a family memory moment.

Family day out :: candid moment

• A quiet moment at lunch •
Catch your loved ones in a candid moment. Tell a compelling story of your family day out.


There are lots of different aspects to photography. Instead of being an over-bearing photographer consider a different way. Just do something for you. You could make a great family day out miserable by regimenting them just so you can record it.

Alternatively, you could make the whole experience a vital and unique series of captures. Spend your time documenting what your family are doing. Catch them really enjoying themselves. Leave them be, spend your time getting the candid moments when they are most absorbed. That way you will see the deeper aspects of their character as well as making your shots tell a compelling story.

Capturing people doing what they enjoy

Doing what you enjoy on a day out is very character revealing. If you capture your subject in a moment that reveals their inner self then the shot is more memorable for you. It’s still in the spirit of the candid moment. Don’t interrupt them – capture them in action. It helps tell the story of the day. It also will help you remember the context of the shot and what you were doing at the time.

Family day out :: Capture your loved ones doing what they enjoy.

• Making pictures •
Capture your loved ones doing what they enjoy. It helps make the story of your family day out more compelling.

Family day out – vista shots – story continuity

As the family photog you can be happily engaged in your interest while the rest of the family pursue theirs. So don’t forget to have a good look around. There are plenty of things you can be photographing as well as your family. This is your chance to make your photographic skills come out. You can obsess all you like over the detail of things you photograph while you leave the rest of the family to have their fun.

Take in the vista too. Make sure you look at the surrounding area. Capture the things that interest you and others in your family. Think about how to put your “family day out” story in context. So make sure you take some shots of the scene and the surrounding areas or activities taking place. If you take the time to do this through the day you can build a story line with your pictures. It will make a great album for you all to remember your family day out for years to come.

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Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photographer and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.