Wedding retouches – the five most common techniques

Wedding retouches are essential to great results. Of course, they can be a challenging aspect of wedding photography. Every professional photographer has at least tried retouching their work. However, wedding specialists are particularly under pressure to provide the perfect image of the newlyweds. Specialists in the wedding genre, who also excel at retouches, are rare. The work is sometimes complex and often a tedious procedure. Each part of the work is important. There are no shortcuts. But, you have to do the work if you want perfect results.

[The article today is by Sara Reinhard, Wedding-Retouching.comBio]

The clone stamp can be used to do a wide range of wedding retouches

The clone stamp can be used to do a wide range of wedding retouches

Application and experience

There is a great variety of editing programs that can be applied to solve retouching tasks. Of those, Adobe Photoshop remains an undeniable leader. This application has proved its great usability, wide range of options and graphic potential.

The techniques I have chosen are by the way of experiment and developed through my experience. I hope that this list will help your workflow and make your life easier. With a good start, and practice you can really make an impact with your digital wedding retouches.

Wedding retouches – 1. Develop the picture in Raw

To get the best results with editing you should always work in RAW. This format allows the greatest manipulation of the data in the file. The common *.jpg file has very limited ability to make changes.

The first thing to work on is adjusting tone, temperature and exposure. This is done early in the process. Good skin tone and colour temperature are important. Of course, applying them is not obligatory and I use them only if I need them. This work involves a variety of sliders and largely depends on adjustment by eye. You have to develop your colour sense over time. So practice and careful observation of true colours and light are important. (See: Using curves for skin tones – Google search Using curves for skin tones - Google search | External link - opens new tab/page).

With editing wedding photos, I focus on shadows and highlights next. To make wedding images look realistic and natural, I usually try to make the highlights dull. Bring down the brightness on the highlights only a little. At the same time bring the visible shadows back from black. Flatten them so the visible shadows are not distracting. It is ideal for wedding photo edits when all shadows are as flat as mid-tones. That gives the most realistic result.

This procedure, toning deep shadows and highlights, helps make my later work in Photoshop faster and easier. When I get it all right, the image will have a perfect contrast. If I do not tone the lights and darks before starting, adding changes and effects later can ruin a photo. Correct basic contrast levels are so important.

Wedding retouches – 2. The Healing brush! Mask imperfections

The healing brush is an effective tool when editing wedding portraits or guests pictures. There are two variants. You may use either the common Healing brush or Spot healing brush. I prefer the first. The reason is simple. I like to choose my own color source points. This brush is effective in masking all kinds of skin inconsistencies from acne to permanent scars or birthmarks. The healing brush produces a masking effect over the blemish. It takes its mask colour from the surrounding area, or a point of colour of your choosing.

The healing brush is just as effective for removing the spots in other places in the image. Removing facial marks are important. It is also handy when I need to improve the backdrop of a picture. I am amazed how an image changes after simple background work with this brush. Often people do not notice individual spots and marks in an image. However, they certainly notice when the image is crisp and clean. The careful use of this brush really improves the overall impact of the shot. (Learn about the healing brush: Using the Healing Brush – Google search Wedding retouches - Using the healing brush | External link - opens new tab/page).

Wedding retouches – 3. The clone stamp

This is the quickest way to change the level of lightness or darkness in parts of a photo. I mostly apply this technique to lighten the dark areas in a photo. Basically, it is used on the background, but you can use it on the skin too. I use an opacity of 15%. Unlike the healing brush tool, the clone stamp is best used on the areas that do not have many details. For instance, it works well on landscape backgrounds, limited texture, or areas of a single tone.

Using the clone stamp can be pretty harsh at 100% opacity. At 15% it is barely visible. So, once you have selected the opacity you want then also select the mode as “lighten” or “darken”. In this mode the clone tool will do what it says, lightens or darkens the area it affects. It has the added bonus of not affecting areas around it that are the opposite to the selection you have made. (See: Lighten Up with the Clone Tool Wedding retouches - Lighten Up with the Clone Tool | External link - opens new tab/page).

Wedding retouches – 4. Dodge and burn

That is one of my favorite photo editing techniques. To be able to shape the visible light in a picture is brilliant. Photoshop has versatile ways to do this. I don’t use the actual tools for dodge and burn over wide areas of the image. I simply make the exposure brighter with one curve, and use a second curve to bring out the darker tones. That is better for making the overall contrast give a feeling of depth in the image. (See: Using curves in Photoshop – a Google search Wedding retouches - Using curves in Photoshop - a Google search | External link - opens new tab/page).

Dodge and Burn as well as Healing Brush  techniques are essential

Every photographer should use these tools for wedding retouches

From time to time I use the actual dodge and burn tools in Photoshop. They are better for more detailed work. Why do I like them as a professional wedding photo editor? I can set the mid-tones, shadows and highlights quite easily. I have noticed that for wedding pictures the most effective use is to add depth. That is possible by bringing out the lighter areas and toning down the darker areas where lights and darks lie close to one another. The obvious transition from light to dark in close proximity causes the eye to see depth. To use the subtle effects of these tools use the ‘Range’ and ‘Exposure’ drop-down settings on the Photoshop top bar.

Wedding retouches – 5. Frequency separation

There are plenty of photo editing tips for improving the skin condition. For wedding pictures, I am convinced that perfect skin is a keystone of success. The problem is that it is a very intense task. This technique makes the skin smooth. Still, it should be used in moderation. If you smooth out the skin too much it looks unnatural. The technique brings effective results in enhancing backdrops, clothes or other parts of the image that need smoothing. Try it on your own images. You will find it a great technique. However, it takes a lot of practice. Once learned it provides a solid way of preserving skin texture but taking out some of the more distracting aspects of tones, highlights and blotches. Have a look at the video below.

Two more techniques for great wedding retouches

Using layer masks

When I retouch pictures, I want every effect to be applied to a specific part of the photo. That is because every thing has different colors, tones and relationships with the surrounding areas. To successfully keep a natural feel I work with layer masks a lot. Each change I make has to be specific and effective. Layer masks allow me to isolate these specific parts of the image without my work spilling onto surrounding areas. The layer mask makes it easy, and quick to isolate each area I need to work with to make the changes.

Furthermore, when using different layers, your changes will not have a global effect. You can limit each change to a specific layer. I often add filters and dodge and burn on different layers. That too saves time and makes the overall task simpler.

Here is a little secret. I often edit a background and a photographed subject on different layers. I use layer masking to take out the photo-subject onto another layer. This allows separate toning and other treatments.

When you are using layer masks, it is important to remember while toning that the black colour conceals and the white colour reveals. (See: Working with layer masks in photoshop Wedding retouches - working with layer masks in photoshop | External link - opens new tab/page – Google search).

Blending modes – a versatile choice

Commonly, editors overlook blending modes. They appear to be complex. But actually, they give you a lot of creative scope. It is really worth having a go with them.

There are 27 possible blending modes (including ‘Normal’). They can be used in many ways. Basically, they allow you to blend something on a selected layer with an image below it. Blending modes change the way layers interact. The layers remain separate. Your image is quite safe! You actually just see the image with the “blend” laid over the image.

For wedding retouches, there is a high level of romantic impact. So, you can use blending modes to bring texture, tones, colours and hues into your image. Using overlays this way, allows you to raise the artistic and emotional impact. You can use textures in Photoshop templates or, there are a wide range of textures available on the Internet Photoshop textures - Google images | External link - opens new tab/page.

Here is a great video. It introduces the gentle art of using blend modes. They are not nearly as intimidating as they sound!

There is a lot to learn. Therefore, the best idea is to experiment both with the choice available and the opacity you use.

I have a favourite blending mode – ‘soft light’. It suits my tastes and photo preferences. From time to time I experiment and change curves to appealing ‘luminosity’ mode. It adds an elusive charm to wedding pictures.

An amazing world of opportunities

All these techniques, in skillful hands, provide results beyond the expectation of the original. They are powerful enough to change a photo in the most unbelievable way. Still, I ask you to use these techniques with care and attention. It is too easy to be over the top and spoil the effect.

Concerning wedding pictures it is especially important to preserve naturalness. Thus, it is better to add less rather than to over retouch. If you are experimenting, take my advice. It is best to use a separate layer for each effect or tool that you apply. That allows you to cancel changes you have made by deleting the layer. And, never make changes to your original. Always keep your original file as a safe back up file. Work only on a copy.

One further point. The presented pictures above were taken with natural light. That is important with wedding retouches. Why? Because the bulk of contemporary wedding photo shoots are held outside. It is quite expensive and difficult to adjust natural light. Modern photographers are used to professional editors improving imperfect light digitally.

If you are worried about the level of your skill when doing wedding retouches, or other digital work, our team are happy to help. If you face some unsolved editing problem, we also will give a supporting hand. ( My company is | External link - opens new tab/page)

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Post contributed by :: Sara Reinhard

Sara works at “Wedding Photo Editing Service”, a leader in picture editing since 2003. They have a team of experts that edit wedding photos. The service works to tight deadlines and high quality standards. The photo retouchers work directly to support photographers through every photo order. They work directly with photographers to build professional relations offering wedding photo editing at all levels and varied styles. The business also offers photo editing in other forms of photography, such as body, portraits or family pictures. A range of editing services are available at modest prices. | External link - opens new tab/page

Making an abstract image – opening your eyes

A personal path to making an abstract by Alison Bailey
Interplay By Alison Bailey.

Abstract image :: Interplay.
By Alison Bailey.
Seen on: Interplay By Alison Bailey | External link - opens new tab/page
Dated: 15/01/2017
Click picture to see full size image.

I became serious about photography through doing a 365 project My 365Project | External link - opens new tab/page in 2011. I got my first DSLR camera for Christmas that year and have been happily obsessed ever since.

At the end of 2014 I had a eureka moment: abstract photography was for me. It’s ideal for depicting what moves me most in my world – the aesthetics of the characteristics of things. Abstract photography’s exciting, exasperating, exhausting and exhilarating. I love it. I hope you will too.

Making an abstract image

Abstraction is intensely personal and one of the most imprecise art forms. There are no recommended settings or specific lenses that will produce an ‘ideal result’. The accepted ‘rules’ of composition are often deliberately broken or disregarded. There’s no magic formula that will guarantee success. This article aims to provide you with thoughts, ideas and suggestions, along with information about how I work. These may help you to make an abstract image or gain experience to make many of them.


I began my journey by researching exactly what is meant by ‘abstract’. I didn’t find a universally accepted definition. The definition of abstract photography in the Photokonnexion glossary hits the spot for me. It is easy to understand and includes a list of the different aspects of abstraction. It makes a great reference guide for use in the field. I re-read it occasionally for revision.

When I think about an abstraction, what I see in front of me is not manifested in my mind’s eye. Well, not as a picture. I don’t ‘see’ – I experience. Things come to me as impressions with verbal descriptions. I have recently learned that when people say they ‘see’, it’s not shorthand for a thought process that’s like mine. They really do make pictures in their heads. I first thought we all imagine in the same way. It seems that is not true. ‘Seeing’ an abstract is an intensely personal thing. You have to do it your own way.

Studying, analysing and commenting other people’s work teaches you a lot. So, I researched the idea of the ‘abstract image’ on the internet. I viewed many abstracts, examining their composition. I had fun, gained insight into what abstracts can look like and developed ideas and personal preferences too.

The next step toward making an abstract image

I began habitually looking everywhere for shapes, structures, patterns, lines and textures. I looked for them whether I was taking photos or going about daily life.

Then it was time to put what I’d learned into practice.

If you’re unsure where to begin, here are some ideas to get you started. Three dimensional artworks can be inspirational. They are a good choice for the abstract image novice. Less representational work is particularly suitable. Find a piece you like and can legitimately photograph. The artist’s concept and execution of it will give you some useful pointers. However, your appreciation of the work is key to how you interpret it. Beyond works of art, here are some other sources…

  • Look at items in your house. The kitchen is a great source of inspiration.
  • Is there a type of photography you are especially enthusiastic about?
  • Architecture: plenty of lines, shapes and patterns, often textures too.
  • Street scenes (people and/or transport) have many abstract sides.
  • Wildlife and fast-action sports photography lend themselves to expressing movement through abstraction.
  • Macro photography shares an emphasis on detail so it too lends itself to abstract image work.

Keeping an open mind and expecting to find a promising subject is a good recipe for success. The more you look for subjects, the more you will see, sometimes in unlikely places. Whatever you choose, it is important it moves you in some way. A way that makes you care about it.

Rhythmic - I spotted this chair stack in an out-of-the-way corner of an historic cathedral.

Abstract Image :: “Rhythmic”
I spotted this chair stack in an out-of-the-way corner of an historic cathedral. Their lines caught my eye. I felt they had a rhythmic quality.
Breaking the pattern, a compositional device often used to focus the eye, wasn’t appropriate here. The rhythm – the whole point of the image – would have been lost.
By Alison Bailey.
Seen on: Abstract Image :: Rhythmic | External link - opens new tab/page
Dated: 10/07/2015.
Click picture to see full size image.

Studying the details

Once you find something meaningful to you, examine it closely from all angles. You are looking for a way to portray it.

This is a process that cannot be rushed or forced. It is important to be relaxed and receptive. Take a long, leisurely look, soaking up the details. Ask yourself:

  • What do I feel about this?
  • What visual aspects – lines, shape, texture, etc – make me feel that way?
  • How can I present, compose, those aspects to engage viewers and tell them what I saw?

Look carefully. Allow the answers to those questions, and any other ideas that might occur, time to form in your mind. For the best results, keep these answers and ideas in mind at all stages of making an image.

I study a subject via the camera’s viewfinder to remove distractions from the periphery of my vision. I often take photos at this stage too; the act of pressing the shutter button helps me think.

Layers upon layers :: Detail of a sculpture comprising seven pillars of piles of slates.

Abstract Image :: “Layers upon layers”
Detail of a sculpture comprising seven pillars of piles of slates. The profusion of layers and the arrangement of the slates are wonderful. I spent nearly an hour looking and studying them. The light – bright, midday sunshine – cast hard shadows that define and separate the slates and augment the idea of profusion. I composed to create opposing diagonals that prevent a jumbled confusion of lines by drawing the elements together.
By Alison Bailey.
Seen on: 365Project Abstract Image :: Layers upon layers | External link - opens new tab/page
Date: 20/11/2016.
Click picture to see full size image.

Making the abstract image

Choice of lenses, use of light, camera settings and how close you can get to your subject are all factors to take into account when composing your abstract image.

It’s usually not possible for me to use a tripod or flash. I prefer natural or constant, artificial light, anyway. So I have to work round resulting restrictions. You should consider how best to make use of light, depth of field, angle, and point of focus. A good angle and an appropriate focal point can make or break the flow of a composition. That is especially true with a shallow depth of field.

I have discarded many shots owing to poor choice of focal point. I still struggle with it. However, an effective composition is important. So it is worth the effort to get the focal point right.

Once you are satisfied with your composition, take a photo, maybe several. It is good to experiment with other settings and angles, you might discover another approach to your subject that is more meaningful to you than your original idea.

Abstract image :: “Thorny subject”.

I had intended to compose for the spiral created by the arrangement of the leaves of this plant but realised I was more taken with its thorns. I angled to emphasise them whilst, again, looking for a cohesive composition. To emphasise the spikiness of the thorns stronger tonal contrasts were created in processing.
By Alison Bailey.
Seen on: 365Project Abstract Image :: Thorny Subject | External link - opens new tab/page
Date: 30/09/2016.
Click picture to see full size image.

Assessing your work

After you download your photographs, consider and critique them. Take time to do this.

Don’t delete a shot straight away; experience might alter your opinion of it. If I am uncertain, I reassess a photo periodically, sometimes processing it, until I feel sure about it. I’m still mulling over a few taken a year or more ago.

Got a keeper? Then it’s time to add the finishing touches.

From photograph to abstract image

Thoughtful processing will take your photograph to another level. How this is achieved is very much a matter of personal taste.

I almost always process in black and white. Colour isn’t usually what my images are about. For me it will distract the viewer’s eye from the aesthetic aspects that I want to express, weakening the image’s impact. Other authors may take a different avenue. Final processing is very much a personal style.

I often choose to use high tonal contrasts to accentuate, even exaggerate, detail (see Thorny Subject above). My preferred method is to enhance clarity in the image processor’s ‘raw’ filter when developing the image for *.jpg. Then I adjust contrast, brightness and light levels in the main editor.

Whatever you do, the aim is to enhance your composition for maximum impact. You should work to help engage viewers with the aesthetics of your subject and give them the best chance of understanding the artistic intent of your image.

More after this…

The Edge of Vision: The Rise of Abstraction in Photography The Edge of Vision. A book about abstract photography. External link - opens new tab/page
There are few good books on abstract photography. So this historical view is welcome. It brings together the concepts and the art in abstract photography. Spanning the earliest images to modern processes with quality colour pictures too, the book includes up-to-date work from well known abstract photographers. The book gives readers an all-round view.
What readers said:
» Great buy! :: 5*
» A lovely book :: 5*
» Be educated and stimulated :: 5*
» …filled with deep and insightful articles and ideas to inspire. :: 5*
The Edge of Vision: The Rise of Abstraction in Photography The Edge of Vision. A book about abstract photography. External link - opens new tab/page


Completing the abstract image

Abstract image :: “Internal structure”
A macro image and a personal favourite. High contrast wasn’t appropriate here. I love the the way this whelk shell is constructed. The fragility of its exterior (suggested by the light tones) belies the strength of the internal structure, brought out by contrast created with natural, diffused light.
On reassessing, I felt the right-hand curve was drawing my eye down out of the frame, so I cropped the bottom of the image to draw the eye back to the pillar.
By Alison Bailey.
Seen on: 365Project Abstract Image :: Internal structure | External link - opens new tab/page
Date: 02/11/2016.
Click picture to see full size image.

After a day or two, I reassess my image. I take time to let the initial pride of authorship fade. Then, if needed, I do whatever is necessary to improve it. Any processing you want is allowable. It could even mean scrapping the image and starting again. It’s frustrating but not daunting; mistakes are excellent teachers and I want to learn and improve.

If that sounds serious, it is. But, it’s seriously tremendous fun. Happy abstraction!

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Post contributed by :: Alison Bailey

Alison is a veteran participant in | External link - opens new tab/page. She worked as an assistant librarian and a Civil Servant before becoming a traditional housewife and mother. She enjoys life with her retired husband – and her camera. Alison has at last realised that photography is the medium best suited to her artistic abilities. She is having serious fun striving to express, through her images, her love of, and fascination with, the world around her.

Stay Motivated in Photography if You need to Grow

Post by Brendan Hufford [Click here for Photo MBA’s 7 days of free training Click here to get Photo MBA’s 7 days of free training | External link - opens new tab/page].

Stay Motivated in photography

So there I was, yet again, searching Instagram for hashtags related to photography inspiration. I’d lost steam. I’d gotten new cameras and new lenses, but my photos weren’t improving.

I’d tried learning new techniques, but my interest still waned. I couldn’t find a reason to pick up my camera.

I was facing the second biggest hurdle we face as photographers. It seemed like a mountain to climb.

Stay motivated in photography - Taking the first hurdle - beat the taste gap

Getting ahead in photography means taking the first hurdle to beat the taste gap.

I’d later learn that this hurdle is ironically called “the dip”. It’s the price of entry. It’s when your skills start to catch up to your taste. Here’s what I mean…

Hurdle #1 – The Taste Gap

When you start photography, you know what kind of photos you love. You have great taste in images. However, having good taste means you know that what you’re doing does not match what you see quality photographers producing.

Being able to continue working, taking photos, editing them, and sharing them will get you over the Taste Gap. It will allow your skills to catch up to your taste.

Ira Glass on Storytelling from David Shiyang Liu on Vimeo.

From a Video by Ira Glass  Ira Glass on Wikipedia | External link - opens new tab/page

As you develop, you’re the best photographer in your family, then among your friends, then probably, one of the best in your local photography club or community. But, you still don’t feel like you’re “there” yet. It’s then that we encounter the second hurdle.

Hurdle #2 – The Dip

Coined first by Seth Godin in a business context, the dip is the small inflection point right before we start to move toward mastery of our craft.

The Dip [Graph Image By Seth Godin]
The Dip – shows how performance dips just before mastering our craft [Graph Image By Seth Godin Seth Godin | External link - opens new tab/page].

The idea of growing as a photographer has already been covered quite a bit on this web site. However, it all involves using your camera to “get better” by doing more. Here, we want to look at staying motivated enough just to pick up the camera after you’ve started to really feel stuck.

Stay Motivated in photography through a 5-step process

Here’s a ‘5-Step Process’ that others have used to overcome the dip and stay motivated in photography even when they want to quit.

1. Develop a “Not Do” List :: This is all about protecting your time and creativity. What you don’t do determines what you can do. Eliminating stressful habits around photography is one of the best ways to do your best work.

Here’s a few that I think are super-helpful:

  • Don’t do tasks that kill your creativity as they occur; batch them.
  • Don’t fully book your schedule; leave white space so you can be creative.
  • Don’t be overprotective of your camera; take it everywhere with you.
  • Conversely, don’t feel like you always have to be taking photos.
  • Don’t take a million photos at once. If looking through them later is overwhelming, you’ll skip it completely.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others; their work isn’t inspiring you, it’s making you feel bad.

2. Be Tougher :: This isn’t overly complicated. Just decide. Decide to be tough. This is a short period of time. Push through it. You’ll start growing in more noticeable ways soon enough. See this time period for what it is (temporary) and decide to come out the other side.

Think back to the past whenever you’ve struggled with something. You’ve probably struggled with thousands of things in your life. How many of those do you still struggle with? Close to zero.

When you push through, you learn something important (even if you’re forgetting it right now): the thing that’s on the other side of this struggle is you. It’s the realization that you’re capable of so much more than you initially thought. Be tougher, beat this momentary block, you’ll grow as a photographer.

I’ve found it helps to break an overwhelming task into micro-goals. When you can’t be tougher than something huge, break it into smaller parts. Then you simply need to be tougher than that one small goal. With that small goal accomplished, move onto the next and so on. This has a cumulative effect. You can accomplish much bigger goals in the end.

3. Surround Yourself with Success :: Earlier I mentioned not comparing yourself to others and your photos to theirs. What I mean is, physically surround yourself with successful photographers. Go to meet-ups, join a mastermind (more on that below), go to events and photo-walks. If these don’t exist in your area, start them.

You can also meet people online. However, online meetings shouldn’t be used in lieu of meeting in person. The benefit of meeting people online is access. We have a tremendous amount of access to successful people who can help us grow when we’re struggling. There is a problem, however. We think that if we join a few Facebook groups or follow a few people on Instagram, we’ll become successful. That is not necessarily true.

The answer is to do both. Join a club or create local groups of successful photographers that can help you grow. Then, follow photographers who are active on social photography sites, like Instagram Active on Instagram | External link - opens new tab/page. Build a relationship with them. Join with a group of other photographers on a 365 project. You’re the average of the five people you associate with most. Make them count!

One of the best pieces of advice I can give a photographer is to join a ‘mastermind group’. A mastermind group is a committed group of people that meet together. Stay Motivated in photography through your meetings on a regular basis with those who help each other achieve their goals.

Nothing encourages growth like accountability. I’d been running businesses Photo MBA | External link - opens new tab/page for years before I joined my first mastermind group Join a mastermind group | External link - opens new tab/page. We met every week to talk and the accountability that I received from those three other people was a game-changer for me.

The same is true for photography. Meet regularly with a set group of people to review each other’s work and push each other and watch yourself grow.

4. Make it Binary :: Binary decisions are between two options, typically “yes” and “no.” When we make decisions into variables, like shades of gray, we lose focus because we can be overwhelmed. “Where should I go on a photo walk today?” is overwhelming because of too many variables. What if it rains? What if the sun isn’t out? What if…

If I have to decide fifteen different things before photographing, I’m making it difficult for myself. However, re-framing that question helps make it easy. Asking, “Should I go on a photo walk before work or after?”, makes it an either/or decision. That question is much more easily decided. Growing as a photographer is hard, but making questions a binary “yes or no”, makes it easier.

5. Limit Yourself :: When you introduce constraints into your work, you’ll force yourself to really get the most out of what you are using. You’ll find new opportunities that you weren’t even aware of before.

Whenever I don’t feel like I’m growing as a photographer, I take things away to force creativity and growth. Instead of trying a million things, I focus on just one, such as one of these:

  • One camera
  • One lens
  • Only black and white
  • One editing program (or no editing program!)
  • One location
  • One time of day
  • …and so on.

For instance, by limiting the number of shots that you take, you start to put more time and effort into setting up the shot. You become a sniper rifle instead of a machine gun. When I limited my focal length, I had to consider how to photograph things differently. Where I’d previously taken hundreds of photos of something in the past I now had to look at them in a whole new way. I had to move around my subject, instead of relying on my zoom lens.

By forcing a constraint, you’ll grow in that one area of your photography. You will also quickly see a carryover into other areas. Limiting my focal length meant that now I move around a lot more as a photographer. It has an impact even when I am using a zoom lens. In another area of my work, shooting only in black and white taught me to respect the effect that contrast has on my photography. I have seen that benefit carry over into my colour photography too.

5. Motivation and Action :: I’ve always felt that searching for motivation was a distraction. Reading motivating quotes, looking at the work of other photographers, trying to be someone else… All of this lead me to feel like I needed those things in my life in order to be creative and grow as a photographer.

I was wrong. The best way I’ve found to grow as a photographer is through action. Motivation is fantastic as long as it translates into action. Motivation feels like action. So, we often spend time thinking about doing the things we should do to grow as a photographer, but we never get to them. If you want to stay motivated in photography you also need to continuously take action upon it.

Combine motivation and action. Look at things that inspire you and stimulate your creative sense. But temper that with the commitment that, no matter what, you’re still going to put in the work.

Some great resources to help you stay motivated in photography:

And, two tips on taking action:

You Can Do This

Being motivated isn’t something that comes from outside of you. It comes from within. And, it is the child of discipline. Commit to pushing through this small hurdle and remember why you were excited about photography in the first place.

Comments Are My Oxygen

I read each and every comment. Comment below and commit to doing one of the things above. How has this article helped you? Don’t feel like my comments are a fit? Comment below with what you’re struggling with. I’d love to help.

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Post contributed by :: Brendan Hufford

The hardest part of running a photography business is the stuff that let’s you take photos, like marketing and sales. Click here to get Photo MBA’s 7 days of free training Click here to get Photo MBA’s 7 days of free training | External link - opens new tab/page that will change how you look at running a photography business and start making your business work for you.

Landscape photography problems – think clearly, think ahead

Landscape photography can be a cold and lonely pursuit. What are you likely to face.

Landscape photography can be a cold and lonely pursuit. What are you likely to face? Carefully consider the implications of Landscape photography problems you will encounter.

Landscape photography problems are not your first thought!

I have done my fair share of landscape photography over the years. As a lover of great open areas and natural scenery I have done a lot of thinking about the problems of photography in the wilds. I think, maybe, that we often think about the simple pleasure of being in a great landscape and making a successful shot. The pleasure over comes the pain. Success provides the gratification we need.

With the occasional success, we also forget the cold, the wet, the waiting, even the cost. Many other things also get in your way. Success only comes when you do things right when trying for your landscape shot. Here are some things for you to think about.

What are the Landscape photography problems?

First of all, your planning. Most snappers think about landscape photos when they are there, in the moment, seeing the landscape. Actually, you will have few successes down that route if you are a committed photographer. You should have a clear idea of your whole trip to get truly great shots squared off.

What exactly do you want to shoot? What short of shot do you want? Do you have the time right – is the sun going to give you the right light, or even be present? Weather? Location? What do you really want to see and how do you want it illuminated? All these questions might require either an intimate knowledge of the location, or a lot of online research. The best landscape shots are previsualised (see also: Definition: Previsualised) and researched in advance of the trip. That way the elements of chance, site hunting and waiting for the right light are reduced.

If you think you have the time of year, day and hour planned to get the right light, are you able to take the shot you want? Your equipment needs planning too. Lenses are especially important to the landscaper. Think too of a decent tripod, filters, batteries, and a whole host of other equipment. So plan the shot logistics carefully. You need to make sure you don’t turn up at your location and find yourself unable to make the shot.

Do you have the personal equipment? Do you need to climb? What weather will you face – hot or cold weather? How hot, how cold? Are you able to get the right clothes, the maps, the food, even the transport to get you there? Budget can be a big issue for all the equipment and transport too.

On the personal safety side, are you safe? Do you need special safety equipment? Do you have the skills? Mountains and deserts, coasts and fens all need very different skill sets to stay safe. Many people have lost their lives failing to anticipate the conditions and have the right equipment with them.

Perseverance gets you past landscape photography problems

Have you got it all perfectly planned? You think you have all the landscape photography problems overcome in advance. Then on the appointed day it all goes wrong. Why? Because the shot you want needs the right light. Planning the right time can help you get past that. Unfortunately the weather is not always so forgiving. That is especially true in the more challenging zones of the world.

In my mind I have a shot I want to make. I once saw the conditions of this location just right. Total inspiration hit me. Wow, just what I wanted. But, and it was a big one, my camera was in the hotel. I metaphorically kicked my own posterior. Anyway, I decided I was going to return and get the shot another day. Well, I have been to that location over 30 times in the last 25 years. I’ve never again seen the shot with the light I want. However, it will be there one day. And, I will get it.

Ansel Adams, the great landscape photographer once said,

Landscape photography is the supreme test of the photographer – and often the supreme disappointment.

Ansel Adams

More Ansel Adams quotes  Landscape photography problems - Ansel Adams Quote | External link - opens new tab/page

Landscape work is like that. If you have been very lucky you may get a great shot. If not, you could be really up against the conditions or time limits. This is where your planning can pay off, or your persistence – more likely both. How ever you may have to run your trip many times to get it right. That is the essence of getting to know your location, yourself and your limits.

The ugly side of landscape photography problems

In the video below is a day in the life of a failed image. If you are hoping to get a shot in a location you are not familiar with I suggest you watch this. If you are hoping to get into landscapes, the video can give you an insight. There is more than a quick snap behind the successful shot. It also reveals the harsh reality of Landscape photography problems for one man in the English Lake District.

One day is often not enough for “the one” shot. Dedicated landscapers often spend many days on looking for the shot they want. Ansel Adams, mentioned above, was also aware of the rareness of great images. He said,

Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.

Ansel Adams

More Ansel Adams quotes  Landscape photography problems - Ansel Adams Quote | External link - opens new tab/page

This hit rate is not as far fetched as it seems.

So, while you watch this video, remember, the best landscape shots come with previsualisation, planning and persistence.

Uploaded by: Thomas Heaton  Landscape photography problems | External link - opens new tab/page

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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 courses in digital photography.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.

Low light action shots – tips for getting them right

“Low light action shots” is contributed by Melanie Hyde (Bio) of Low light action shots | External link - opens new tab/page.

Low light action shots need care to get them right.

Low light action shots need care to get them right.

Action photography itself can be extremely challenging. Being in the perfect place at just the right time, capturing that incredible moment. Then, hoping to transport anyone who sees your photo across time and space to take them back to the moment the image was taken. It’s a truly a magical experience, whether you’re taking the picture or the viewer.

Given the challenges that come with action photography, removing most of the light only makes it all the more difficult.

There is good news. The same principles of action photography and proper exposure apply. It’s just a little more challenging to get those low light action shots.

Light sources for your low light action shots

When it comes to taking low light action photos, you’ll need to combine the available light sources. This will help to make the most of the situation. First, take a look around and identify whether the lighting is constant or variable.

Constant Light

Constant light occurs within your setting when you can isolate out a source for a shot. Framing the shot is important so that the light is consistent for that shot. The next shot may have a different source – you need to isolate the light for that too. For example, if you were shooting a wedding reception, you might capture an image of the bride and groom on the dance floor. Then, you turn around and capture an image of the bride’s parents dancing across the room. Depending on the setting, the lighting may be different between the two subjects but consistent within each shot.

When lighting is consistent, operating your camera becomes much easier. The camera can adjust to meet the needs of the low light action shots. Here are a few points to keep in mind when shooting with constant low light:

  • Shoot in shutter priority mode so the camera can adjust.
  • Use Auto White Balance so the camera can adjust.
  • Manually control your ISO.
Variable light

Variable light occurs when light sources are constantly changing and are inconsistent across your field of view. Imagine you’re photographing the lead singer at a rock concert. You may have to deal with strobes, spotlights and pyrotechnics. The constant changes in light sources will cause your camera to struggle to automatically expose the image correctly.

Low light action shots with variable light sources can confuse your camera - go manual.

Low light action shots with variable light sources can confuse your camera – go manual.

When dealing with variable light conditions it’s usually best to go manual. In this situation, remember to:

  • Manually set your aperture and shutter speed.
  • Manually set your White Balance.
  • Manually set your ISO.
Balance aperture, shutter speed, and ISO

You have three ways to control the way your camera exposes an image. Aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. To successfully capture great low light action shots, you must be able to manipulate these elements. Select settings that allow you to capture the highest quality image for the ambient light conditions.

The exposure triangle helps you to keep your shot’s exposure within the capability of the camera and lens. So when going manual your settings should allow these three essentials to balance. Look in your viewfinder to get the needle settled in the centre for a proper exposure. For more detail check out The Exposure Triangle – An aid to thinking about exposure.

The exposure triangle is an idea that helps you balance aperture, shutter speed and ISO for a good exposure.

The exposure triangle is an idea that helps you balance aperture, shutter speed and ISO for a good exposure.

Start with shutter speed

Low light action shots are by definition going to be in difficult light for your camera. Getting your shutter speed right can be tricky. However, it has a huge impact when shooting movement in low light. The following diagram will help you select the right setting.

Camera shutter speed guide.

Camera shutter speed guide :: Low light action shots need the right camera speed. If the shutter speed is too low you get blurring.

You have to select a speed that is fast enough to capture the motion clearly and without blur. The speed should still slow enough to deal with the lack of light. For action shots, it’s always best to use the fastest shutter speed that the light allows. It is a balancing act so you will need to practice.

Select the widest aperture for your low light action shots

In action photography, capturing crisp and clean images is usually the priority. When shooting with low light settings, it’s crucial to get as much light to your sensor in the small amount of time that your shutter is open as possible.

For low light action shots use a wide aperture to increase the incoming light.

The aperture sets the initial amount of light coming into the lens. For low light action shots use a wide aperture to increase the incoming light.

To accomplish this, use the widest aperture that your camera allows. While shooting in shutter priority mode, you allow your camera to do this automatically. Shooting in manual mode however, you’ll need to keep a close eye on your exposure. You need to make sure that your images are not underexposed in the low light.

Using high ISO

Are your images are consistently coming out blurry with your aperture is as wide as can be? Consider stepping up your ISO settings.

Your low light action shots can really win the day if you get your ISO right.

On the dance floor the light is almost always difficult. Your low light action shots can really win the day if you get your ISO right.

By changing your ISO, you alter your camera’s sensitivity to light. The higher the ISO, the more exposed your image will be. Just be cautious: using a higher ISO may introduce more “noise” to your photos. This noise can often be reduced or corrected in a post-processing software like PaintShop Pro Low light action shots | External link - opens new tab/page or Lightroom Low light action shots | External link - opens new tab/page. (Shooting in RAW is especially helpful with noise reduction).

Check your work as you go

Throughout the shoot, use your histogram. (See: Can you use the histogram on your camera?) It will help to make sure you’re exposing your images correctly. The histogram shows the distribution of the type of light in your shot. It aims to help you capture a consistent amount of light across the full spectrum of your image.

The histogram on your camera helps you ensure effective use of light in your exposure.

The histogram on your camera helps you ensure effective use of light in your exposure.

The histogram on your camera helps you ensure effective use of light in your exposure.

You’ll also want to make sure that your white balance looks good and adjust accordingly. In most cases, your camera is going to be able to set white balance automatically, but you may need to tweak it; especially if your lighting is wildly inconsistent.

Increase your odds

Low light action shots are all about being in the right place at the right time with the right equipment.

Use the fastest lens you can find. The wider the aperture, the more light your lens allows to strike your camera sensor. Anything higher than F2.8 will cause you to struggle with exposure.

Set the camera to continuous drive. This equips your camera to capture a burst of images every time you press the shutter release and gives you a better chance of capturing that perfect picture.

Use a fast memory card. Your camera can only capture images as fast as it can write them to the memory card. If you snap too many images in rapid succession, you’ll have to wait for the card to catch up with your camera and you might miss “the shot.”

Be prepared to shoot…a lot. You’re going to have a lot of images that are no good. So remember to keep tinkering with your settings. The key is shooting lots of images at different settings until you get the perfect mix.

Don’t forget to have fun

Low light action photography can be both challenging and fulfilling. As you refine your skills and your eye for lighting, action, and composition, remember to regularly experiment and try new settings.

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Famous Failures – how you can equal the greatest

Famous failures - How to equal the greatest - it's simple! A video and how to succeed ideas.

Famous failures – How to equal the greatest – it’s simple! A video and how to succeed ideas.

Famous Failures – Some surprises

The main reason that we become successful at something is that we work at it. In history there have been many famous failures. They failed at their chosen goal early on. Then they went on to be successful at the very thing they failed at first-off.

In this video you can see who some of these famous failures are. I think you will be surprised. For us as photographers, we need to think about what these fails mean for us. More after the video (3 mins).

Uploaded by: MotivatingSuccess Video :: Famous failures - How to equal the greatest | External link - opens new tab/page

Famous Failures :: What they did about it

We know most of these famous people. We know them, perhaps, as some of the most successful people of all time. So why did they fail?

The answer is simple. Everyone needs to start somewhere. We all start from a basic position of no knowledge and no skill. We may have a talent or aptitude. Without development they will never be realised. If we do have them is not the main issue. The point is, these famous people saw that they could get past the failures. They made the effort to go to the next step; then to the next level.

Photographers, like everyone else, have to start somewhere. Inevitably starting out is difficult. So, we must expect our own fair share of failed attempts.

What takes you past failure?

Famous failures usually have two key attributes. First, they pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and start again. Studies of successful people frequently show that they were prepared to fail. Not just once either, but many times.

The second key to success is the ability to be persistent. Famous failures will keep on doing, learning, trying, developing, improving and moving forward – regardless of what others say or do. They will, through adversity, keep their eye on the goal and do everything they can to succeed.

How do ‘famous failures’ help photographers?

Photography, like all pursuits has its difficulties. For us, the famous failures model is important. Many times I have been asked by my students what does it take to be a successful photographer? My answer is, “Don’t be afraid to fail and keep trying”. If you can do that you will learn all the things you need to learn. That is as true for each individual shot as it is for whole shoots and career moves.

In his book, best-selling author and world-renowned photographer and teacher Bruce Barnbaum, explores draws upon personal experience and observations from more than 40 years of photography and teaching. See the book: The Essence of Photography The Essence of Photography | External link - opens new tab/page. So, ignore failure, and with persistent effort, you will surpass those with talent and creativity who do not apply themselves. And, if you start out without as much talent and creativity as others, you will develop them along the way.

I am reminded of this quote:

Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.
Zig Ziglar

This is equally true of the start-up photographer as it is for the keen hobbyist. You set your goals. You go for them.

Enjoy your photography!

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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 courses in digital photography.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.

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

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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