Writer’s Favorite Lens – 70-200mm Zoom

What is the best lens for taking flattering portraits? ZOOM, ZOOM, ZOOM!

Zoom Main

Model credits left to right: Sherri Lee Bigs/Image courtesy Nine Network Australia, Nicole Di Silva/Foxtel, Jocelyn Idriss. All images copyright Gina Milicia

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

My love affair with the zoom lens began in the late 80’s. I started my career as a portrait photographer using an entry level Nikon with an 80-200mm Sigma zoom lens. Back in the day “zoom lens” was code for paperweight or doorstop because they had the similar optics to a pair of cheap sunglasses and were about as sharp as a butter knife.

5 Christmas photo ideas for creative photographers

5 Christmas photo ideas for creative photographers

Depending on what kind of photographs you like to take, Christmas is either replete with opportunity or a time to hang up the camera and work on your website.

The Insider’s Guide to DSLR Camera Modes

is the
I’ve seen this question come up often in photography groups both online and live – the question of what camera mode should I use! The absolutely correct answer is – “it depends”. Recently a person suggested that if you aren’t shooting in ‘M‘ mode (fully manual), you’re half the photographer that you could be and you are surely cheating yourself. And you clearly don’t know what you’re doing, so put that camera down before you break it.

I disagree, though, and here’s why – when it comes to measuring light and making favorable compromises, your camera is smarter than you are. A lot of people who wear white lab coats to work and have a lot of alphabet letters at the end of their names have researched and programmed these modes to ensure that you get the best possible photos in any circumstance.

Camera_ModesFirst, a quick intro to shooting modes found on most DSLR cameras – Nikon, Canon, Sony, etc, all use the same modes and presets. They may be called something different on your camera, but chances are they are there. I use Nikon, so I’ll go with their scheme:

  • Auto: completely automatic mode. Setting to Auto tells the camera to decide aperture, shutter speed, ISO and flash on/off, based on readings it gets when you push the shutter button. It turns your DSLR into a point-and-shoot (and I don’t mean that is always a bad thing, depending on the conditions you’re shooting in)
  • Scenes / specials: Most cameras will have several scene-specific modes, such as close-up/macro, sunshine, snow, sports, portraits, landscapes, etc. These have pre-programmed settings based on best-case scenarios in most situations.
  • Effects: Don’t use these – just, don’t. If you want to add special effects to your shots, it’s much better to do it later in post-processing, ESPECIALLY if you shoot in jpg mode. There’s nothing worse than finally getting the perfect shot only to discover later that you were shooting jpgs in Solarize mode. That shot is gone….  If you shoot in RAW, you’ll still have the original, though. But you still should add effects later, not in camera. Please.
  • M: Manual mode. The photographer controls everything: the Aperture, Shutter speed & ISO independently of each other.
  • A: Aperture mode. This means that you set the aperture and the camera calculates the shutter speed, one of the other two settings of the “exposure triangle”: aperture, shutter speed and ISO. Aperture is how “open” the lens is – it determines how much light comes into the CCD and determines your depth of field. It’s also slightly counter-intuitive, in that a low aperture (f-stop) like f/1.8 or f/2.6 means that the lens is pretty wide open, allowing a lot of light in and creating a shallow depth of field (i.e., the background is blurred with a “bokeh” effect); a higher number (f/16, f/22, f/30) means that the lens is closed down more, allowing less light in and increasing depth of field (i.e., everything from the end of the lens to infinity is in focus)
  • S: Shutter mode. In this mode, you set the shutter speed you want to use, and the camera decides on the best Aperture. A fast shutter speed will need a lot of light in a short period of time, so the aperture will adjust itself wide open (creating a LOW number like f/1.2). A slower shutter speed won’t need as much light as fast, so the aperture closes itself down small (creating a HIGH number like f/22).
  • P: Programmable Auto mode. This mode allows you to quickly make adjustments to one aspect of the exposure triangle (shutter speed or aperture) and the other element automatically adjusts with it to maintain exposure – and it’s usually done just by spinning the wheel on the back of your camera. For example, if you have metered your shot using a shutter speed of 1/1600, an aperture of f/2 and ISO of 200, but then you decide that you want more of the background to show up, spin the wheel on the back of your camera to change your aperture to f/9 and the shutter speed will compensate.
    • What’s the difference between P mode and S or A, then? In P mode, you adjust both shutter speed and aperture just by spinning the wheel. In S mode, you adjust only the shutter speed by spinning the wheel, and in A mode, you adjust only the aperture by spinning the wheel. Make sense?

The other point of the exposure triangle is ISO, which dictates the sensitivity of the camera’s sensor. A lower ISO = not as sensitive (think bright lights), and a higher ISO = really sensitive (think a dark nighttime scene). The trade off is that the higher the ISO is set, the more likely you’ll wind up with noise, so try to choose the lowest ISO setting you can get away with. Here’s some quick, basic ISO generalizations:

  • ISO 100: bright sunshine
  • ISO 200: outdoors, maybe on a slightly overcast day
  • ISO 400: indoors, or outdoors on a dark overcast day
  • ISO 800: night scenes in well-lit locations (a parking lot or stadium on game night)
  • ISO 1600 – up: night time in the woods or in a starlit field. In a closet with the door closed. Expect noise….

ISO can be used for effect, though – see some shooting examples below.

So – now that all that’s covered, these are the situations I use each of the shooting modes above (except Effects. I NEVER use the effects modes):

For sports like biking, boarding, basketball & lacrosse (or really any fast-moving stuff) I use S mode so I can set a fast shutter speed to capture the action without blurring, and let the camera resolve the rest. Usually I have to kick the ISO up a little higher than usual too, to compensate for really fast shutter speeds (1/500 and up).

For street photography, I use either A or S, depending on what’s going on: in shadow-y areas (alleys, sidewalks), or where I want a deep or shallow depth of field, I use A to set it and let the camera resolve the rest. When looking at fast-moving scenes, I use S and set a long or short shutter speed (for blurred or sharp images – depending on what I want). Again, ISO might need to be adjusted separately. With really fast shutter speeds (or sometimes even with slower shutter speeds like 1/80 or 1/100)) I push it up to add noise and give a nice gritty look to my images.

When shooting closeups, either of a person or a plant or a rodent or an insect, I’ll use A mode, because I like the control over depth of field. I can get really nice bokeh, or I can change it to focus to infinity and let the camera decide how fast the shutter should blink.

When shooting landscapes or architecture, or anything not moving that’s kind of far away, I go with M generally because I have time to meter through the lens and make fine adjustments to all three points of the triangle. I can also tweak the exposure compensation, but that’s another article.

For P mode, on my cameras, I’ve pre-programmed it for generic indoor shots / snapshots (shutter speed / Aperture / ISO / white balance) so I can just grab and snap without too much futzing.If the light changes (it gets cloudy or the lights get turned on) I can adjust either aperture or shutter speed quickly without worrying about everything else. This mode is great for the “spray-and-pray” mode of shooting, where you’re going to shoot a lot of shots (maybe at a party or a gathering of some sort) and you don’t want to spend too much time messing with settings. Get initial meter readings, set the shutter speed & ISO, and away you go, making minor tweaks as the event progresses.

With my “toy” lenses (Holgas & Dianas & pinholes), there is no chip in the lens to tell the camera how to read the light, so I use M for them – I have to!

So for “someone in the know” to say that there is a “best” mode to use all the time tells me that they possibly aren’t really in the know after all. Those modes on your camera are all different tools, just like my toolbox in the garage. If the situation calls for a nail, I’ll use my hammer. If the situation needs something cut, I’ll use my saw. If there’s a hole to be made, I use my drill.

Once you learn what the different modes do, you’ll know when (& why & how) you can use them. You’ll also learn that there isn’t a “best” mode for all situations!

How to Correct Purple Fringing in Photoshop

A couple years after starting my business, I received a large print from my lab. Upon checking it, I noticed a problem with the print that was so blatant I couldn’t deliver it to my client. At first I thought the lab made the mistake, but nope. It was a problem created by my digital camera when I took the shot! It’s more than likely you’ve already noticed it in your images.

The problem is called purple fringing. In this article I’ll go over what it is, how to prevent it, and how to get rid of it.

What is Purple Fringing?

Purple fringing is when you get purple color in high contrast boundary areas in an image that was most likely taken in low light situations with a brighter background. It is most often attributed to a chromatic aberration that occurs commonly with digital cameras, but purple fringing can also be caused by lens flare.

How can you prevent getting it?

  • Avoid shooting with your lens wide open in high contrast situations.
  • Get a UV filter for all of your lenses.

Unfortunately, these actions don’t always resolve fringing problems, but it can prevent it from happening some of the times.

Create Delicious Donut Text That Will Make You Hungry

In this tutorial, I will walk you through the process of making a yummy sweet text in Photoshop. We will use the basic tools and effects along to achieve the final outcome in short time. So let’s begin!

Final Image

What you will be creating


Tutorial Details

  • Program: Adobe Photoshop CS6
  • Estimated Completion Time: 45 minutes
  • Difficulty: Beginner-Intermediate
  • Tutorial Resources: http://www.dafont.com/joint-by-pizzadude.font

Step 1

Open a new file (File > New) in Adobe Photoshop with the following settings.

12 photo editing tutorials for replacing dull skies

We’ve all been that fortunate situation where almost every element of a photograph comes together; the composition, the landscape, the lighting, the subject.

But there’s just one thing holding the picture back; the sky. And unfortunately it’s completely out of your control. Or is it?

If you have a photograph that’s let down by a flat, boring or dull sky, it is within your control to replace it with skies that are more sympathetic to the rest of your image, creating a more eye-popping shot.

The below tutorials will ensure that you have the ability to make the dull skies that plague your photography a thing of the past

Graffi’s Note:  My tutorials for replacing the sky can be found here and here!

1. Replacing skies for beginners

For those who have Photoshop CS4 or CS5, this five minute video tutorial is your step-by-step guide to replacing a burnt-out sky that lacks detail.

2. How to replace a so-so sky with a standout sky

12 photo editing tutorials for replacing dull skies: 02. How to replace a so-so sky with a standout sky

David Peterson is a man who understands how disheartening it can be to have an otherwise good landscape shot let down by a sky that has no punch. In this tutorial he shows you how it can be replaced with a more interesting sky in Photoshop Elements.

DON’T MISS: Discover how the new irista platform
can simplify your photo management

12 photo editing tutorials for replacing dull skies: 03. Photoshop CS6 replacing skies

3. Photoshop CS6 replacing skies

This official Adobe tutorial presented by Richard Harrington details how to replace blown out skies with an alternate backdrop. In order to make it look realistic, Richard also demonstrates how to apply colour spill to bring out details and ensure that the composite matches.

The post 12 photo editing tutorials for replacing dull skies appeared first on PhotoVenture.

[syndicated from PhotoVenture]

10 Things Successful Photographers Do Before They Press the Shutter

Are you an aspiring pro photographer? Have you ever wondered how to shoot like a pro? Don’t worry; you are in the right place.

Anyone today can qualify as a photographer, provided they have a smartphone or any other device with a good camera. However, it takes more than owning a camera to become a real photographer. There are a lot of factors that come into play for a person to be transformed from a hobbyist photographer to a successful photographer (getting the right equipment, training/education, etc.).

smartphone photography

This article will not focus on the practical aspect of becoming a successful photographer. Instead, we will attempt to get into the heads of successful photographers and try to find out how they think.

If you are interested in discovering what goes through the minds of successful photographers before they press the shutter, you are in the right place. Below are ten thought processes that have been proven to be the essence of successful professional photography.

How to Correct Skin Blemishes Using the Patch Tool in Photoshop

There are many articles that discuss the overuse of skin smoothing in portrait photography. Photographers strive to find a balance between realistic skin and fixing the imperfections. Obviously, one way to minimize the use of Photoshop for skin issues is to hire a phenomenal makeup artist who can make the skin look realistic and flawless all at the same time. For the times when there are issues with a client’s skin I try to not go overboard and fix every little thing. I want my client to still look like themselves when I am done editing.


Some photographers use the spot healing brush religiously. I never use it. Instead I use the patch tool. My reasoning is that the Patch tool actually takes samples of the pixels and closely matches them to what you are trying to fix. If the results are not quite right, you can tweak them to suit your needs.

Step 1. Open your image

As you can see my model is absolutely beautiful, but she does have a few blemishes on her skin and we are going to fix those before we give the image to her.

How to enhance a sunset in Photoshop: download our start file and follow along

Discover how to enhance a sunset in Photoshop using Adobe Camera Raw’s range of tools. In this photo editing tutorial we show you step-by-step how to enhance the colours* in your sunset photos.

*before you all comment at once, we pushed the enhancements a little further than we’d normally do to a make the effect obvious and account for people viewing on different types of screens!

How to enhance a sunset in Adobe Camera Raw

When you’re shooting sunsets you could use your camera’s picture style options to boost the scene’s colours, but this can produce garish, unnatural tones – and if you shoot JPEGs you won’t be able to make heavy colour edits without introducing banding or other artefacts.

But if you shoot uncompressed Raw images, you can push your colour adjustments further without compromising quality.

There’s always light.

In absen_tia has added a photo to the pool:

There's always light.

instagram.com/nebuladaphne || 500px.com/sabrinaturturro

[from Graffi’s That Retro Lo-Fi Look group on Flickr]