How to make a boring sunset more dramatic

Do your sunrise and sunset images often look flat and dull? Try these simple photo editing tips to make them more dramatic!

How to make a boring sunset more dramatic

The main problem when shooting sunrises or sunsets is getting detail in both the sky and foreground. Even if you use a graduated neutral density filter, it’s often impossible to get the balance exactly right.

Shoot in Raw, though, and you’ll find that the tools in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) in Photoshop will allow you to get much more detail out of both the highlights and the shadows.

SEE MORE: Adobe Camera Raw – the secret to using it for just about everything

However, bear in mind that ACR has limits! You should always make sure that you keep as much highlight detail in the sky as possible when you’re shooting your sunrise and sunset images.

SEE MORE: Sunset photography – the only tutorial you’ll ever need

How to give a dull sunset photo more impact

How to do Dreamy Landscape Photography with a Neutral Density Filter

Neutral density filter 01

16mm lens, ISO 100, f/13, 2 second exposure

Perhaps one of the most overlooked and undervalued tools you can own as a photographer is a Neutral Density filter (ND Filter) or Graduated ND Filter. In fact, if photography is considered painting with light then a ND filter would be considered the brush tip. You see, different paint brush tips can be used to regulate, if you will, the amount of paint you apply with each stroke – just like different Neutral Density or Graduated ND filters can be used to regulate the amount of light you allow to enter your camera.

What is a Neutral Density Filter?

A Neutral Density filter reduces the intensity of all wavelengths or colors of light equally. That’s just a fancy way of saying it lets less light into your camera. They come in different intensities and styles. One such style is the Graduated Neutral Density filter which blocks light on half of the filter, and gradually transitions to the other half which is clear.


Exposure Blending Using Luminosity Masks Tutorial

There will be a time when the wizards behind your camera technology conjure up a sensor so powerful they will swallow up any scene and spit it out just as it was – no over, or underexposed areas. Until then, in order to produce an image with a high dynamic range of light, you have to work with the sensors available to you and create your own post-processing magic.

Pink sunset

Image created by blending two exposure with luminosity masks, one for the sky and one for the foreground.

While you, and many photographers, may have relied heavily on HDR programs in your exposure blending quest, many more are now beginning to turn to luminosity masks as a cleaner alternative. Through the use of luminosity masks you can create stunning, balanced images that encapsulate a vast dynamic range of light. They give you incredibly fine control over your imagery in almost every area.

While some HDR programs nowadays produce very natural, clean HDR images, luminosity masks do not affect the original files at all, so there is literally zero image degradation during the blending process. That is why so many digital photographers are beginning to make luminosity masks a staple in their workflow.

What are Luminosity Masks?

Success: Professional Portraits in a Makeshift Home Studio

For those who have been following DIYPhotography for a while now, you are well aware of the awesome photographic results that can be achieved with materials NOT purchased from your local, friendly photo gear retailer. For those who are finding this to be your first visit to DIYPhotography . . . .

Read More

[post syndicated from DIY Photography Net]

Finding and Working with Available Light

I don’t use a flash for my photography, it’s a personal preference. Available light, in its many forms, is both challenging and rewarding so I rarely find a need to turn to creative lighting.


Natural light, golden hour

What is ‘available light’?

Let’s be clear on definitions first. As a street photographer my preferred source of light is sunlight, more specifically, natural light. Available and ambient light refer to any and all light sources the photographer did not introduce for their photograph; light bulbs, candles, fire, neon, to name a few.

The available light around us is a great opportunity for our photography and photographers should be passionate about making best use of this light when capturing a photo.

The Power of Post-processing for Landscape Photography

Embracing the power of creative post-processing can transform your landscape photography from dull and lifeless, to lustrous and vibrant overnight!

We’re acutely aware that the preceding statement reads suspiciously like the voiceover script for a ‘next generation, nano-organic hair care’ commercial, but it’s true – digital post-processing can be a transcendent experience for your landscape images.

1 intro 001

Sunset over the Mount Egmont from Wai-iti Beach, Taranaki Coast, New Zealand (by Sarah). Post-processing doesn’t always have to be complex to be effective. This image has received some basic adjustments to color, contrast and exposure to enhance its visual impact.

Why we need to post-process our landscape images

Candid portrait photography: how to use a macro lens to draw out character

In this quick tutorial we’ll show you how to get up close and personal with your macro lens to take candid portrait photography that really draws out the character of your subject.

Candid portrait photography: how to use a macro lens to draw out character from your subjects

All images and text by Hollie Latham

Photo composition can often be the most challenging aspect of taking a photograph, and in portrait photography we need to think hard about where to position our subject, how much ‘breathing space’ we should leave around them, what should be in focus and so on.

However, there’s more potential for pushing the boundaries of how we frame portraits than with other subjects.

The most striking portrait photography is often that which breaks the rules, so in this candid portrait photography project we’re going to be looking at how you can capture a more abstract style of portrait that goes against some of the conventions of photo composition, by coming in really close for maximum impact.

You’ll need a friend or family member who can model for you. Look for distinguishing features that you can accentuate, such as the eyes, mouth and bone structure, and try to coax expressions from them that convey something of their character; our model had striking eyes and long hair, so we worked with those features in particular.

You can either concentrate on capturing one portrait, or shoot a series of images that can be presented together, as we’ve done.

SEE MORE: How to compose a classic portrait

How to shoot up-close, candid portrait photography

How to shoot candid portrait photography: step 1

Let there be light!
For close-ups you need soft natural light for the best results, so if you’re shooting outside avoid bright sunshine. If the weather is miserable you can shoot indoors like we did, positioning your model by a window.

Whether you’re indoors or outdoors, use a reflector to bounce light back onto your model’s face and fill in unflattering shadows.

SEE MORE: Photography lighting – how to take control of everything from natural light to your camera’s pop-up flash

How to shoot candid portrait photography: step 2

Macro lens
The Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro is ideal, as you can get up close without being restricted to the minimum focusing distance, as you would with a non-macro lens.

The 100mm focal length enables you to get nice close-ups without distorting facial features, and the lens has a four-stop stabiliser, which is great for shooting handheld in low light.

SEE MORE: What is a macro lens – magnification, minimum focus distance explained

How to shoot candid portrait photography: step 3

Camera settings
Set your camera to Manual mode for full control. To shoot handheld you’ll need to set a wide aperture to let in plenty of light; depending on the speed of your lens this will be somewhere between f/2.8 and f/5.6.

This will ensure that you have a fast enough shutter speed to avoid camera shake, and will also create a nice shallow depth of field, so your model’s facial features stay sharp while peripheral detail and the backdrop are thrown out of focus.

SEE MORE: The best camera settings for perfect portrait photography

How to shoot candid portrait photography: step 4

Shutter speed
Once you’ve set your aperture, half-press the shutter button to meter the scene, and turn the dial to adjust the shutter speed until the exposure indicator is in the middle to obtain a balanced exposure.

Keep the ISO low for maximum image quality; however, to ensure you have a fast enough shutter speed to capture pin-sharp shots you may need to increase the ISO to 400 or even 800, depending on the ambient lighting.


How to shoot candid portrait photography: step 5

When it comes to composition, try to think outside the box and capture something a bit different. Most portraits are taken face-on with the camera around the subject’s eye level, so try changing the camera angle and viewpoint.

Get up high and shoot down on your subject, and get low and angle the camera up for an abstract feel. Try shots from the side too, with your subject looking both at you and away from you.


How to shoot candid portrait photography: step 6

Focus on features
Make the most of features such as the eyes, mouth and hair, but don’t feel that you have to include every feature in a single frame.

Try shooting half of your model’s face, or their profile, and come in tight to emphasise details such as the eyes for added impact.

For precise focusing, manually select the autofocus point that’s closest to the detail you want to capture – you’ll need to change the active focus point as you compose different shots.

SEE MORE: Master your camera’s autofocus – which AF points to use (and when to use them)

Final candid portrait photography tips

Show examples
To capture natural-looking portraits your model needs to feel relaxed. Direct your model as much as you can, explain what you’re trying to achieve, and show them some of the shots you’re getting to make them feel more involved.

It helps to have a selection of images that you’ve seen online or in magazines and books on hand during your shoot, to give you ideas and inspiration.

 SEE MORE: 10 posing mistakes every photographer makes (and how to avoid them)

Candid portrait photography tips: use a reflector

Use a reflector
A reflector is simply a large sheet of reflective material that’s used to direct light onto a subject.

When you’re shooting portraits in natural light you can use a lightweight, collapsible reflector.

They’re a cheap, portable and easy-to-use option for controlling the light without having to use flash.

Reflectors are available in a range of sizes and colours, and many have multiple surfaces so that you can create different effects.

White is great for lifting shadows and balancing the light, gold adds a warm glow to skin tones, and silver creates a much cooler feel and can also create nice highlights in the eyes.

PAGE 1: How to shoot up-close, candid portrait photography
PAGE 2: How to edit your candid portrait photography


Wide-angle portraits: how to use your wide-angle lens to caricature your friends
How to abuse your raw files to create stunning high-key portraits
10 common portrait photography mistakes every photographer makes (and how to fix them)
14 portrait photography tips you’ll never want to forget
17 posing tips and in-camera slimming tricks for shooting curvy models

[syndicated from Digital Camera World]