There is a period of time each day, just before sunrise and just after sunset, when the sun is below the horizon, when the light is known as “sweet light.” This period of time is known as “The Blue Hour.” This is a period of time each morning and evening when there is neither full daylight, nor full darkness. The light is almost ethereal, with a soft blue glow bathing the scene. The Blue Hour happens in tandem with the Golden Hour, making the beginning and end of the day exceptional for photography, providing two very different types of light within a single time span.
While visiting an art gallery or a photography exhibition, at times you may have noticed certain landscape photographs have extremely elongated fields of view. They seem quite impossible to have been photographed with a standard camera. If you wonder how such elongated photographs are made, you are not alone. I had my first encounter with a panoramic image of the Himalayan mountain range being displayed at Das Studios in Darjeeling, a Himalayan resort town in West Bengal, India. That photograph had a huge impact on me and it led me to searching for ways and means to photograph panoramic images.
During my initial search I figured panoramas were probably made with highly specialized cameras and lenses. But, to my surprise I found that panoramic photographs can be made with any kind of camera at your disposal. All you need is a camera, preferably one capable of shooting in Manual mode. Yes, with certain cameras and Smartphones you can get Apps for recording a panorama in a sweep but I never found the results quite satisfactory. Shooting your own panorama gives you the creative freedom and a sense of satisfaction.
Have you ever tried taking a picture of food and it just didn’t look as good as the dish tasted? Don’t worry, you aren’t alone. Taking pictures of food requires a different mindset and approach than what you would use in your portrait or landscape photography. Here are 8 steps you can take that will help you create mouthwatering food images.
Step 1. Choose one light source
I know what you may be thinking. The more lights the better, right? Adding lights in portrait photography does give you ability to shape and light the face in beautiful ways, but when shooting food, one large diffused light source will yield amazing results!
Using layers in your photo editing software is one of the most important things you can do to create great images. Layers are so powerful, even the most basic understanding of them can improve your photography tremendously. The good news is that using layers is extremely easy, and very quick. If you follow along with this tutorial and incorporate the techniques, you’ll see a huge difference in the quality of your images.
While there are countless things you can do with layers, it’s convenient to group them into three main categories:
Local adjustments to specific parts of an image
We’ll go through all three categories in this tutorial. Please keep in mind this guide is meant to demonstrate the power of layers and why you want to use them. It’s not a software-specific guide and the exact mouse-clicks and menu items may vary slightly among the different photo editing packages available. That said, the use of layers is very similar in all software.
Sometimes, to get the lighting right in-camera, we’ve got to sacrifice some spots to darkness. High-dynamic range photography, known as HDR, composites multiple exposures to draw out hyper-realistic details and evens out the lighting range. That kind of effect is possible to achieve in Photoshop, too—and with more subtlety than most HDR. Here’s how to do it:
How to Bring Back Shadow Detail
In this tutorial by Phlearn, we’re shown how to isolate parts of an image and lighten them up without unbalancing the lighting curves of the entire image. It’s easy:
Create a duplicate layer.
Click adjustments -> shadows/highlights.
Click show more options.
Leave the highlights at zero, and play with all the shadow options until you can see the details you want.
Create a layer mask.
Paint white over the details that need lightening, while the rest of the image remains as it was.
After a bit of practice, you’ll find it’s easy to gain an eye for balanced lighting and colors, and you’ll never again have to worry about imperfect lighting rigs or overdone HDR.
Getting exposure correct when shooting in high contrast situations—such as landscapes with bright skies and dark foregrounds—is a challenge. In the video below, Bryan Peterson explores the advantages of using a graduated neutral density filter and how to use this tool to amp up your landscape images:
Neutral density filters offer several advantages to photographers:
They allow for slower shutter speeds even in bright daylight.
They permit the use of wider apertures, which result in shallow depth of field.
They bring out the color in otherwise washed out parts of an image.
In the image below, we see the difference the filter can make. Without making the foreground of the image too dark, the neutral density filter stops down the sky, giving it a correct exposure.
The top of the filter brings the exposure down three stops and gradually fades the further down the filter you go. This section of your photograph that is stopped down is controlled simply by rotating the filter around as needed. You can hold the square filters in place or use a holder that mounts to your lens.
Graduated neutral density filters are a simple solution to frustrating, high-contrast lighting conditions.
The Lightroom Graduated Filter is a versatile tool for making local adjustments to your photos. Don’t be fooled by the name – it may be named after a type of filter used for making skies darker in landscape photography, but its uses go far beyond that.
Before we look at how you can use the Graduated Filter tool to improve your images, you may want to think about the style in which you’d like to process the photo. What is your ultimate aim? My article Finding and Achieving Your Style in Lightroom will give you some advice on figuring that out. Once you know what you want to do, the rest falls into place.
My absolute favorite time to photograph anything is a time of day called the Golden Hour. The Golden Hour occurs during the time just before sunset, and just after sunrise. When the sun is lower in the sky, near the horizon, it must travel through more of the atmosphere, reducing the intensity of direct light and thus reducing the contrast in the scene. More blue light is scattered, so sunlight will appear reddish and shadows won’t be as deep as when the sun is higher in the sky. In addition, the lower angle of the sun creates longer shadows, which can add interest to images.
When you use the Dodge and Burn tools found in the flyout menu of Photoshop, you may be risking your entire image. These tools are destructive, meaning they permanently modify the pixels in your image. So, if you don’t want to make any permanent modifications, you can dodge and burn nondestructively by following the instructions in this video:
Deke McClelland uses a panoramic image he’s created of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain to show us how to enhance the drama of the scene without compromising the image.