The incredible assortment of buttons on your camera can be intimidating. We’re not talking about just pro level DSLRs, either; even entry level cameras really pack it in when it comes to button array. It can be overwhelming, especially for those just getting started in photography. How do you know, of all the features available on your camera, which ones you should learn first? While some might suggest it’s worth the effort to learn everything your camera is capable of, the more measured approach is to master the essentials first then move on to other features. The importance of being comfortable with your camera cannot be understated; mastering the following DSLR features will help you take control of your camera and, by extension, your creativity.
The night sky is a canvas of innumerable wonders; granted, some people look up at night and don’t have much interest in what they’re seeing, operating under the assumption that it’s the same ol’ thing as any other night. I suppose such an opinion can be pardoned, given that much of what happens in the night sky is subtle and often out of reach of the naked eye. But sometimes the skies do put on a pretty spectacular show: lunar eclipses, auroras, and meteor showers. Check out these amazing examples of shooting stars.
Okay, so it’s time to upgrade your gear. You’re quite sure it’s not just another case of G.A.S.; this time isn’t about trying to keep up with market trends. You really have outgrown your starter camera; you’re ditching all those variable aperture zoom lenses; you’ve taken up macro or wildlife photography. There are quite a few logically sound reasons why you might need to purchase new photography gear.
New cameras are great. Whether you’re a beginner about to purchase your first “serious” camera, or an enthusiast or pro looking to make a significant body upgrade, getting a new camera is exciting. Some people will put endless hours of research into their prospective camera, while others are pretty sure what they want from the moment a new camera is introduced to the market. And then you wait. And wait. You wait with bated breath, for what seems to be an eternity, for your friendly delivery person to leave you with the coveted brown box containing your expensive new toy. You unbox it all and, just like that, everything is right with the world. If, however, one of your life’s objectives is to continue to improve as a photographer, going through the above scenario too often can be detrimental to your development. I’ll explain.
One of the reasons people become consumed by their creative endeavors is due to an overwhelming desire to overcome a challenge. Any challenge worth confronting will, once defeated, yield an appreciable sense of personal satisfaction. But such challenges are also, to varying degrees, frustrating — you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but making it there is the hard part. Something that new photographers commonly struggle with (though this is hardly limited to just beginners) is translating the pictures they conjure in their mind’s eye to match the images that come out of their camera.
Anyone who has ever spent much time on the subway will understand that life underground is not drastically different from life above ground; almost anything that people will do at home, they will also do on the subway. This includes — but is by no means limited to — eating, sleeping, listening to music, arguing with family members, personal grooming/getting dressed. You get the idea. If you’re into photography, you may find the subway to be a paradise of sorts where, in spite of the confined space, life happens unabated.
Weather can be maddeningly fickle; this simple statement might be more or less accurate depending on where you live, but I’m quite certain that photographers in virtually every part of the world have had their plans foiled by unexpected and unwelcome changes in weather. What should you do if you ever find yourself confronted by bad weather? Here are a few ideas.
For the uninitiated, flash photography can be scary. There’s all this talk about lighting ratios and sync speed and…it gets to a point where some people just check out of the conversation and carry on using their pop-up flash, despite less than stellar results. But even those who have made the courageous move to at least experiment with off camera flash often find themselves hating the way their photos look. The most common cause of this unhappiness is due to using bare flash. It won’t matter if your settings are perfect, aiming a bare flash at your subject is sure to stand between you and photographic satisfaction. The good news is bare flash syndrome is easily averted — all you need to do is modify the light.
Lightroom is unquestionably a powerful image processing application; even if you were to make use of only its built-in tools, you (and your photos) would be in pretty good shape. But, as with anything, there’s always room for improvement. Fortunately, Lightroom makes it easy for users to fill in gaps left by the software. One of the most common ways of extending Lightroom’s usability and expanding its power is via the use of presets. Lightroom presets, in short, allow you to enhance (improve?) your photos in a simple, streamlined fashion. Two questions frequently asked relating to Lightroom presets include: “Where do I find them?” and “How do I install them?”
High key photography, when done properly, can yield some spectacular results. Originally developed, in part, as a means of overcoming the fact that early film and television were severely limited in their ability to handle high contrast situations, the technique was soon adopted by photographers as yet another creative way to express mood — typically a happy or energetic mood. While the high key look can be achieved in Photoshop, purists will insist on doing it the “right” way: using multiple light sources, bumping up exposure a bit, etc. True high key photography is not about overexposure; it is, rather, about bright, nondirectional lighting and a lack of contrast and shadows. Here are 16 radiant examples of high key imagery.