Paul Timpa Photography Blog Photography Tutorials and Tips from Paul Timpa Photography

17Feb/16Off

What To Do With That Great Photo That’s Not Quite Technically Perfect

"What a great photo! Oh wait... it's blurry."

It's happened to the best of us. Even professionals. Sometimes in photography we take pictures that we would've really liked but they've come out slightly blurry, or they have too much digital noise from a high ISO, or maybe they were taken with an older camera that had a low megapixel count or quality not up to today's standards. It might be an awesome wildlife image of a rare animal, the sunrise over the Caribbean, a spontaneous photo from a family outing, or an architectural photo from some far away place. Often these otherwise great photos get deleted or just sit unused in a folder on your computer. The good news is there are many ways these photos can still be useful, even for producing art to hang on the wall.

Of course you can always try to sharpen up a blurry photo or reduce digital noise, and there are some great products that can do this for you. The purpose of this post though is to provide some ideas as to what to do with those photos when even the best software can't quite fix your photos 100%.

Wall Art on Alternative Media

One of my favorite ways to save photos that might otherwise be too blurry or too noisy for "traditional" prints is to print them on alternative media, such as canvas or wood. Not only do these surfaces create amazing pieces of art, but they help mask minor imperfections in the original photo. I recently wanted to make a print of an American Bison for a Western-themed wall, and all of the photos I'd taken with a 21mp Canon 5D Mark II were sharp and clear, but the subject matter didn't fit the wall. I found a much older photo of a bison on my hard drive taken with a 10mp Canon Rebel XTi, that I liked better. I decided to print the Rebel XTi photo on wood and it looks absolutely spectacular (Photo printed on wood by woodsnap.com).

Bison Printed on Wood

Bison Printed on Wood

Similarly, I have several very large canvas prints (36" x 24") that look great, even with photos of relatively lower resolution.

Gifts and Other Items

In addition to wall art, there are plenty of other items that you can print on these days. Everything from custom pillows and blankets, cellphone cases, shower curtains, candles, kitchen aprons, puzzles, playing cards, there are so many possibilities. The quality of the photo doesn't have to be the same as if you were printing a poster-sized wall hanging. Photos that are of "decent" quality will do just fine for many of the items mentioned above.

Social Media

If you're not printing the photos to a physical product but still want to make use of them digitally for sharing on social media, there are still many of ways to make them usable. If your photo has noise from a high ISO, one of the easiest ways to mask this is to simply convert to black & white. The most problematic noise is generally "chroma noise" which you see as all the tiny multi-colored dots. When you convert to black & white, this noise looks more like grain in old b&w film and is much less noticeable.

Statue of Atlas, Rockefeller Center, NYC

Statue of Atlas, Rockefeller Center, NYC

Both noise and blurriness are less visible when the size of the photo is smaller on-screen. Rather than post the photo to social media on its own in full resolution, you can reduce its size and include it as part of a collage or other multi-photo image. This allows you to include the image in context with other images taken at a similar time, and it's also easier for friends and family to share a single post (that contains multiple pictures) than to share many individual posts. Below is a photo grid of three city scenes from Rome, Paris, and NYC:

Photo Grid -- Timpa Photography

Photo Grid -- Timpa Photography

Even if a photo is not blurry and looks fine, I often include it as part of a collage for these same reasons. Mobile apps like "Photo Grid" for Android are great at creating collages, and also include some editing tools (brightness, contrast, saturation, tint, crop, etc.) as well as filters.

Filters

There are countless ways to apply filters that will not only enhance your photos, but also help hide imperfections. If your photo is slightly blurry, perhaps you can go for a tilt-shift Lensbaby type look to give it a dreamy feel. If the colors are muted, or the noise is high, you can try an oversaturated, high-contrast "edgy" look. Explore all of the filters or features of your editing software to see what works for your particular image.

Roman Forum, Italy

Roman Forum, Italy

Conclusion

Just because a photo hasn't come out technically "perfect", doesn't mean you have to deal with no photo of the occasion. With a little creativity you can bring new life to those old photos and they can take their rightful place on your wall, either in the real world or on social media!


For those looking to improve your photography, I've also created an app for Android which teaches photography and how to get photos like these while you're out taking pictures. It's perfect for when you're traveling. Click here:

Photography Trainer for Android

 
If you find this guide helpful, please share it:

Share/Bookmark

If you have any questions about the locations or photo techniques, please feel free to ask any time. You can also become a fan at my Photography Facebook page, add me to Google+ circles, or follow me on Twitter for more photography tutorials and tips:

Paul Timpa Photography's Facebook Page

Paul Timpa on Google+


Thanks for reading, and best regards,
Paul

 
If you'd like to purchase prints or stock photography licenses for my photos (for advertising and editorial use), please visit:

http://www.timpaphotography.com/purchase

 
Copyright 2014, Paul Timpa

http://www.timpaphotography.com/

5May/14Off

How to Use Layers in Photo Editing Software

Introduction to Using Layers

Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park

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.

I've written a tutorial on how to use layers to create amazing images, and it's published on the fantastic Digital-Photography-School.com website.  Click here to read it:

http://digital-photography-school.com/beginners-introduction-using-layers/

To keep up-to-date with the latest photo additions and other topics, you can become a fan at my Photography Facebook page, add me to your Google+ circles, or follow me on Twitter:

Paul Timpa on Google+


Paul Timpa Photography's Facebook

 
If you'd like to purchase prints or stock photography licenses for my photos (for advertising and editorial use), please visit:

http://www.timpaphotography.com/purchase

 
Copyright 2014, Paul Timpa

http://www.timpaphotography.com/

31Jan/14Off

Where to Photograph in NYC — New York City Photo Opportunities

Best Places to Photograph in NYC

NYC Skyline

NYC Skyline

NYC has amazing photo opportunities around every corner. From skylines and night photography, to portraits, architecture, street photography, and even wildlife, NYC has it all.

This guide to the best places to photograph in NYC will highlight many of the popular locations so you can capture that magic image.
 

Brooklyn Bridge from Brooklyn Bridge Park

Brooklyn Bridge, NYC

Brooklyn Bridge, NYC

Brooklyn Bridge Park is one of the very best places to photograph the Brooklyn Bridge with the NYC skyline in the background. It’s very easy to get there via subway. You can also walk right over the bridge from Manhattan.  Be sure to take your wide-angle lens and your tripod. Sunset and "blue hour" are fantastic times for photos.   Blue hour is the brief period right after sunset, but before it's fully dark.  The photo above was taken shortly after sunset.

As an added bonus for this location, the Manhattan Bridge can be photographed from here.
 

Wall Street, New York Stock Exchange

Wall Street and the area around the NYSE area can be a great place to capture the hustle and bustle of life in the city. The subway goes right to Wall St., so this is another area that is easy to get to.  The photo below was taken from a set of stairs across the street from the NYSE.

New York Stock Exchange -- Wall Street

New York Stock Exchange -- Wall Street

 

Rockefeller Center & Radio City Music Hall

The Rockefeller Center / Radio City area in midtown provides many great photo opportunities.

The photo below of the Rockefeller Center ice skating rink and Christmas Tree was taken during the holiday season in New York.

Rockefeller Center Ice Skating, NYC

Rockefeller Center Ice Skating, NYC

 

This photo of Radio City Music Hall was taken from a tripod at 6th ave and 50th street.

Radio City Music Hall, NYC

Radio City Music Hall, NYC

 

This is the statue of Atlas at Rockefeller Center, with St. Patrick's Cathedral, taken from 5th ave between 50th and 51st streets.

Statue of Atlas, Rockefeller Center, NYC

Statue of Atlas, Rockefeller Center, NYC

 

The following is a street scene in the Rock Center area:

Rockefeller Center and Radio City, NYC

Rockefeller Center and Radio City, NYC

 

From this area, you can also take an elevator to the "Top of the Rock" observation deck which provides incredible views of the city.

 

Skyline from Gantry Plaza State Park

If you’re looking to a get a super-wide skyline shot, Gantry Plaza State Park right across the East River is a great place to do it. You can take the subway (#7 train or G train) to the park. The following NYC skyline photo was taken from Gantry Plaza State Park just after sunset during "blue hour".

NYC Skyline

NYC Skyline

 

South Street Seaport 

The South Street Seaport is a fascinating place with endless photographic opportunities, from the pier to the ships to the river.

South Street Seaport, NYC

South Street Seaport, NYC

 

The photo below of the South Street Seaport was taken from the pedestrian walkway on the Brooklyn Bridge.

South Street Seaport, NYC

South Street Seaport, NYC

 

You can also take photos of the Brooklyn Bridge from the South Street Seaport.  The following photo was taken from the Seaport during the "Waterfalls" art installation.

Brooklyn Bridge, "Waterfalls" art installation

Brooklyn Bridge, "Waterfalls" art installation

 

Times Square

Times Square is of course one of the iconic locations in NYC.  There are countless photo opportunities here, so take your time and explore.

In this more “abstract” shot, my goal was to capture the energy of Times Square. This was a panning shot...

Times Square Taxi, NYC

Times Square Taxi, NYC

 

Grand Central Station

Grand Central Station is one of the major transportation hubs of New York City. 750,000 people pass through every single day! While tripods are not allowed to be set up in Grand Central, there is a short wall by one of the sets of stairs where you can rest your camera to take a long exposure such as the one below.

Grand Central Station, NYC

Grand Central Station, NYC

 

Empire State Building 

There are many places to photograph the Empire State Building, which is located at 34th st and 5th ave. This photo is taken from Brooklyn through the structure of the Manhattan Bridge. You can also get great photos from up close, or from up high such as from the observation deck at “Top of the Rock”, Rockefeller Center.

This photo was taken with a telephoto lens from Brooklyn, near Brooklyn Bridge Park which was discussed above.

Empire State Building through Manhattan Bridge

Empire State Building through Manhattan Bridge

 

Central Park

There are so many wonderful photo opportunities in Central Park.

One of my favorites is of “Literary Walk”.

Central Park, NYC

Central Park, NYC

 

Bow Bridge on "The Lake" provides a peaceful scene to photograph, and is a great place to relax.

Bow Bridge, Central Park, NYC

Bow Bridge, Central Park, NYC

 

The Ramble in Central Park is one of my most favorite places to go, both for photography and for relaxation.  You wouldn't think you could find scenes like this right in the middle of NYC!

The Ramble, Central Park, NYC

The Ramble, Central Park, NYC

 

The Ramble, Central Park, NYC

The Ramble, Central Park, NYC

 

Some other great places to photograph in Central Park are:

* Central Park Boathouse on “The Lake”, where Venetian-style gondoliers transport guests over the lake

* The Great Lawn is a fantastic place to photograph people enjoying the outdoors

* Bethesda Fountain
 

Roosevelt Island

Roosevelt Island is a place where you can get great skylines and bridge photos. You get to Roosevelt Island via the Roosevelt Island Tramway, which is a short “gondola” ride over the East River.  The following photo of the 59th Street Bridge and the Tramway was taken from Roosevelt Island facing Manhattan.

Roosevelt Island Tramway, NYC

Roosevelt Island Tramway, NYC

 

The photo below of the East River was taken from the Roosevelt Island Tramway as it crossed the river.

East River Sailboats, NYC

East River Sailboats, NYC

 

Washington Square Park, Greenwich Village, East Village

Washington Square Park is in the heart of the "Village" area of NYC.  Walking west takes you right into Greenwich Village, while walking east takes you into the East Village.  Both present great photo opportunities.  The photo below is of the arch in Washington Square Park.

Washington Square Park, NYC

Washington Square Park, NYC


 

Columbus Circle

Columbus Circle is on the southwest corner of Central Park, and marks the beginning of the Upper West Side.  The photo below is of the fountains in Columbus Circle.

Columbus Circle, NYC

Columbus Circle, NYC

 

Central Park Zoo

If you want to capture some wildlife photos, the Central Park Zoo provides plenty of opportunities.  As you can see below, even the NYC monkeys are cool.

Central Park Zoo, NYC

Central Park Zoo, NYC

 

Other Photo Opportunities

The locations presented above highlight some of the more popular photo opps. There are of course so many other opportunities in NYC, including the Statue of Liberty and the rest of the boroughs. The photos below are some additional images from around the city.

If you can get up high, you can capture fantastic photos of the rivers and skylines.

East River Sunrise, NYC

East River Sunrise, NYC

 

This is a photo of the skyline reflected in a wine glass.

NYC Skyline in Wineglass

NYC Skyline in Wineglass

 

This photo of lightning over the East River was taken from a tripod.

Lightning over East River, NYC

Lightning over East River, NYC

 

The following two photos of the Brooklyn Bridge were taken from from Brooklyn Bridge Park and from standing on the bridge.

Brooklyn Bridge, NYC

Brooklyn Bridge, NYC

 

Brooklyn Bridge, NYC

Brooklyn Bridge, NYC

 

And lastly, the sun sets over NYC.

NYC Sunset

NYC Sunset

 

There are so many photo opportunities in New York City, you can explore for a lifetime. I've provided just a sampling of photo opps as inspiration for you own photos, and to highlight some of the more popular locations.


For those looking to improve your photography, I've also created an app for iPhone / iPad / Android which teaches photography and how to get photos like these while you're out taking pictures. It's perfect for when you're traveling. Click here:

Photography Trainer for iOS and Android

 
If you find this guide helpful, please share it:

Share/Bookmark

If you have any questions about the locations or photo techniques, please feel free to ask any time. You can also become a fan at my Photography Facebook page, add me to Google+ circles, or follow me on Twitter for more photography tutorials and tips:

Paul Timpa Photography's Facebook Page

Paul Timpa on Google+


Thanks for reading, and best regards,
Paul

 
If you'd like to purchase prints or stock photography licenses for my photos (for advertising and editorial use), please visit:

http://www.timpaphotography.com/purchase

 
Copyright 2014, Paul Timpa

http://www.timpaphotography.com/

15Jan/14Off

Where to Photograph in Grand Teton National Park

A Photography Guide to the Grand Tetons

Snake River Overlook, Grand Teton National Park

Snake River Overlook, Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park has some of the most beautiful scenery in the U.S. It's a fantastic place for photography. I've written this guide to highlight some of the best places to photograph in the Grand Tetons.

First, it’s worth understanding the layout of the park. The Teton mountains runs north-south. There are two primary roadways around the park, and both run parallel along the Tetons. Both of these roads are on the eastern side of the mountains, so you’ll be looking westward for your photographs.

This guide focuses on the outer road where you can find many of the most iconic and famous viewpoints of the Tetons. It’s a highway and can be accessed all year round. The inner road also has many viewpoints and will be discussed as well, but note that it is closed in winter.

We’ll start our tour traveling south out of Yellowstone National Park into Grand Teton National Park. All through this guide I’ll include links to the various photography sites on Google Maps, so you’ll be able to find any of the locations even if you don’t follow the route below.

The road that heads into the Tetons from Yellowstone is Hwy 89/191/287. As you drive south from Yellowstone into the Tetons on this road, you’ll first pass Jackson Lake. Here you’ll get your first glimpse of the Tetons up close. FYI, Jackson Lake Lodge is along this route, and you can stop into the lobby to gaze through the large picture windows.

To get to the major photography sites, continue traveling south until the highway splits into the parallel roads that I mention above. These two roads form the Teton loop, along which you can stop to take your pictures.

Here’s the split:


View Larger Map

For any of the maps in this guide, you can send the link to your mobile phone and if your phone supports it, you can use GPS navigation to navigate directly to the site.

The outer road (further from the Tetons) is where many of the popular viewpoints are located, so we’ll start there.

   
Oxbow Bend

To reach the first major photography spot, Oxbow Bend, you’ll travel onto the outer road from the split, so stay on Hwy 89/191/287 as it heads east / south and go one mile.

Oxbow Bend, Grand Teton National Park

Oxbow Bend, Grand Teton National Park

The Oxbow Bend viewing area is very easy to see. The area is right off the main road. You may notice many people photographing right from the parking lot, but the best view is a short walk down to the water's edge. After parking your car, walk north a little bit along the road and you'll see foot trails through the long grass where people have made their way down to the water. If you don't see any trails, just blaze your own -- it's a very short walk down to the water. From there you'll have unobstructed views of the mountains and you'll be able to get beautiful reflections.

The photo above was taken at F8 for 1/160th sec, ISO 100 at 75mm (full-frame equivalent).

Oxbow Bend is here:


View Larger Map

   

Snake River Overlook

The next stop is the famous Snake River Overlook. Snake River Overlook is where Ansel Adams made his iconic photograph of the Tetons.

From this overlook, you're facing West so be there for sunrise. When the sun rises behind you in the east it illuminates the Tetons and the landscape below with a wonderful glow.

Snake River Overlook, Grand Teton National Park

Snake River Overlook, Grand Teton National Park

The area where you can set up your tripod for the best shot is not that wide, so get there early so you can get a good spot.

The above photo was taken with a Canon 5D Mark II on a tripod, F11 for 1/4 sec, ISO 100 at 20mm (full-frame equivalent).

To get here, head south from Oxbow Bend. You’ll reach an intersection after three miles -- continue south onto Hwy 26/89/191 and go about ten miles -- you’ll see the parking lot for Snake River Overlook here:


View Larger Map

You can plan what time in the morning to be there by looking up sunrise times here -- just enter the dates you’ll be photographing:

Sunrise / Sunset times for Grand Teton National Park

 
Schwabacher Landing

Just south of the Snake River Overlook about 4.5 miles is Schwabacher Landing. Schwabacher Landing is a stunning area down off the road and actually on the river, so you can get reflections of the Tetons in the water. As with the Snake River Overlook, you'll want to shoot in the morning when the sun is behind you and illuminating the face of the Tetons.

 

Schwabacher Landing, Grand Teton National Park

Schwabacher Landing, Grand Teton National Park

While there is a dirt road that you used to be able to drive from the highway down to the landing by the water, that dirt road was closed to vehicles when we were there. If that's the case during your visit, you'll need to park along the highway and walk down. It’s not a short walk (about a mile) and while it's not extremely steep, it is long. The incline on the walk back can be tiresome, so be prepared. You may want to bring bear spray as well. Once down on the water, you can walk north along the river for a variety of vantage points.

The above photo was taken with a Canon 5D Mark II on a tripod, F11 for 1/80th sec, ISO 100 at 45mm (full-frame equivalent).

Schwabacher Landing is located here:


View Larger Map

 

Moulton Barn and Mormon Row

To get to Moulton Barn, continue south on the highway about 3 miles until you see Antelope Flats Road. Make a left and follow along Antelope Flats until you come to Mormon Row. Moulton Barn will be to your right, and a few other structures will be to your left.

Moulton Barn, Grand Teton National Park

Moulton Barn, Grand Teton National Park

 

The above photo was taken with a Canon 5D Mark II, F8 for 1/640th sec, ISO 200 at 78mm (full-frame equivalent).

Drive to the right to photograph the famous Moulton Barn, which is located here:


View Larger Map

   

If instead of going right, toward Moulton Barn, you make a left at the intersection, you'll drive a short distance and likely see herds of Bison in the grassy areas on either side of the road. If you can drive so that the Bison are framed by the Tetons in the back, park your car on the side of the road, and capture your images.

Bison, Grand Teton National Park

Bison, Grand Teton National Park

 

The above photo was taken with a Canon 5D Mark II, F9 for 1/640th sec, ISO 200 at 81mm (full-frame equivalent).

The image above was taken here:


View Larger Map

Those are some of the main highlights from the HWY 26/89/191 that is open year-round. Of course there are others, like Cunningham Cabin, so explore.

   
The Inner Road

In addition to the highway, you can also travel the inner road which runs parallel to the highway, but a little closer to the mountains. Starting at the top of the loop, travel west / south onto Teton Park Road:


View Larger Map

There are a variety of photo opps on the inner road, so explore, but I’ll highlight two of the main ones: Signal Mountain and Jenny Lake.
   

Signal Mountain

About 3 miles south of the split, you’ll find the Signal Mountain area, which has a lodge and restaurants. Nearby, you’ll find the road that takes you to the top of the Signal Mountain area, where there are scenic overlooks.

Signal Mountain, Grand Teton National Park

Signal Mountain, Grand Teton National Park

The road to the top can be found here:


View Larger Map

   

Jenny Lake

Continue south for another 14 miles and you’ll reach the beautiful Jenny Lake area.

Jenny Lake, Grand Teton National Park

Jenny Lake, Grand Teton National Park

Jenny Lake is here:


View Larger Map

If you continue traveling south, you’ll eventually reach the bottom of the Teton loop, where you can then turn north and travel the highway where all the photo opps in the previous section are located. All along the way on both roads you’ll pass beautiful scenery, so just stop the car, or hike a little, and explore as much as you can. There are so many amazing photography opportunities.

 
Horseback Riding

If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can reach some incredible and off-the-beaten-path vantage points by horseback. We took a 3-hour horseback trip with Swift Creek Outfitters / Teton Horseback Adventures and it was incredible. Our ride was the “Big Pulpit Ride” and it took us way up in the mountains into some gorgeous scenery.

Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park

If that seems interesting to you, their website is here:  Swift Creek Outfitters / Teton Horseback Adventures   

 
Grand Teton National Park is an absolutely amazing place to visit. The photo opportunities for landscape and wildlife photography are virtually endless. The park is just small enough so that it’s not overwhelming, but large enough to provide you with an incredibly wide variety of vantage points. Combined with its close proximity to Yellowstone, it is a fantastic photo destination.

Oxbow Bend, Grand Teton National Park

Oxbow Bend, Grand Teton National Park

 

Best,
Paul

I've also created an app for iPhone, Android, and iPod Touch which teaches you photography -- more info can be found here:

Photography Trainer for iPhone and Android

Photography Trainer iPhone app

Photography Trainer iPhone app

 
To keep up-to-date with the latest photo additions and other topics, you can become a fan at my Photography Facebook page and follow me on Twitter:


Paul Timpa Photography's Facebook

 
Share this guide:

Share/Bookmark

 
If you'd like to purchase prints or stock photography licenses for my photos (for advertising and editorial use), please visit:

http://www.timpaphotography.com/purchase

 
Copyright 2014, Paul Timpa

http://www.timpaphotography.com/

26Dec/11Off

Learn How to Use that New Camera you received this Holiday Season

Many people received the wonderful gift of photography this holiday season. If you're one of the lucky ones and are now the proud owner of a new D-SLR or lens, you're probably excited to start taking magical pictures!

Once you've played around with it for a bit and taken some photos on auto-mode, remember that it's the Manual mode on your new camera that really lets you take creative pictures. It's easy to learn, and if you have an iPhone or Android phone you can get download an app that will teach you how to use your camera.

The Photography Trainer app for iPhone and Android is a training tool that teaches you photography when you need it most -- when you're out with your D-SLR and taking pictures. Over 50,000 people have downloaded the app and learned how to use their D-SLRS!

The app doesn't require an internet connection, so it’s perfect for vacations and holidays too – learn photography no matter where you are in the world, whether it’s during a beautiful sunset on the beach or while you’re on a mountain top.

You’ll learn how to capture images with impact and creativity by understanding shutter speed, aperture, ISO, and how they all work together. Learn night and low-light photography, sports, wildlife, portraits, architecture, and landscape photography. You'll always have an expert with you in your pocket, there to help you take spectacular photos.

iPhone and iPod Touch users can download the app by searching on Photography Trainer in the App Store or clicking here to download from iTunes.

To download the app for Android, just search on "Photography Trainer" in the Android Market from your phone or click here: Download Photography Trainer for Android.

The app is also available on the Amazon.com Android App Store. To download with your Amazon account, click here: Download Photography Trainer from Amazon.com.

The app has three sections designed to help you:

Photography Trainer iPhone app

Photography Trainer iPhone app

The Interactive Photography Trainer asks you questions about the lighting you’re in, what types of subjects you’re photographing (waterfalls, sports, city skylines, etc.) and then it guides you on how to set the camera. Most importantly, not only does it instruct you on the best settings to use, it tells you *why* to use them so that you actually learn photography in the process of using the app.

Photography Trainer iPhone app

Photography Trainer iPhone app

The Photo Gallery with Camera Settings contains dozens of professional photographs, each with detailed camera settings for shutter speed, aperture, and ISO, so you can see how the settings work together in real-life examples.

Photography Trainer iPhone app

Photography Trainer iPhone app

The In-Depth Techniques section has photography tutorials that go into further detail on topics such as:

* Getting razor-sharp photos
* HDR Photography
* Night photography
* Sports, Action, and Wildlife
* Composition
…and more…

Take your photography to the next level with the Photography Trainer and learn when you’re out with your camera – it’s the best time.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/PhotographyTrainer

To keep up-to-date with the latest photo additions and other topics, you can become a fan at my Photography Facebook page and follow me on Twitter:


Best regards,
Paul

Copyright 2009, Paul Timpa

http://www.timpaphotography.com/

Share/Bookmark

Colosseum, Rome

Colosseum, Rome

Sedona, Arizona

Sedona, Arizona

Tahiti

Tahiti

South Street Seaport, New York City

South Street Seaport, New York City




18Apr/11Off

Photography Myths

There are many "photography myths" out there. When you're just starting out in photography, it's fun to read and to learn and absorb as much information as you can. As you're learning, you may sometimes here things over and over again, that you take as fact. Some of this information may actually be long-standing myth. I've written this article to help provide some clarification on things you may have heard as you learn more about photography.

MYTH: Cloudy and rainy days are not great for photography

TRUTH: Cloudy days are some of the best days to get out with your camera. There are a variety of photographic subjects that are best taken on cloudy or overcast days, from portraits to macro and flowers, to landscapes.

For portraits, flowers, macro, insects, etc., cloudy and overcast days are often better than sunny days because of the significantly reduced contrast and shadows. When the sun is blazing, there are harsh shadows produced on the subject, whether it’s a person’s face or the delicate petals of a flower. These shadows can be a huge problem, requiring everything from flashes and external lights to diffusers and reflectors to overcome. When it’s cloudy, you get beautiful soft light on your subject. The clouds and overcast conditions act like a giant softbox, providing you with amazing soft light for portraits and flower photography. When it's cloudy out, I specifically head out to get the best flower shots!

For landscapes, thick cloud cover and even storms can create some of the most atmospheric and moody photography imaginable. This is especially true if you convert to black & white. Photos of landscapes with brooding skies, hinting at an impending storm, can have some incredible impact.

Tulip

Tulip

The photo above of a tulip was taken on an overcast day. Notice how there are no harsh shadows distracting from the natural beauty of the flower.

Sedona, Arizona

Sedona, Arizona

The image above was taken in Sedona, Arizona on a day with thick cloud cover.

The next time it’s cloudy, get out there and try one of these types of photography and you may be surprised how happy you are with the results.

MYTH: Flash is best for indoor photos or photos at night

TRUTH: Many photographers think of the flash mostly as a tool to use in darker conditions, either indoors or at night. However, one of the best uses of flash is outside during the day in bright daylight. As mentioned in the previous myth, bright sunlight causes dark shadows on the subject, whether it’s a portrait or a flower or the foreground of a landscape. One of the easiest and best ways to improve the photo is to reduce this shadow by using your flash. (This is often called “fill flash” because its primary purpose is to fill in the shadows rather than illuminate the subject). I almost always use the flash when taking outdoor portraits. The best part is that all newer cameras handle this “fill flash” automatically, without overpowering the subject with light. Just turn on the flash and the camera will calculate the correct brightness so that the flash fills in the shadow. If you prefer the flash a bit brighter or darker than the camera chooses, you can always use the “Flash Exposure Compensation” feature available in most D-SLRs to tweak it to your liking.

MYTH: Wide Angle lenses exaggerate perspective and Telephoto lenses compress perspective

TRUTH: Perspective is the distance that objects “appear” from each other in a photo, from front-to-back. (This distance in the photo may or may not reflect "reality".) While it’s true that wide angle lenses often have the effect of exaggerating perspective and telephoto lenses may have the effect of compressing perspective, it’s important to understand that the lenses themselves actually have nothing to do with perspective. It is only your physical distance from the subject and background that determines perspective. Why is this important? Because in order to change perspective and change the way the photo looks, you need to physically move your body to a new location farther or closer to the subject. Simply changing lenses from wide-angle to telephoto will not alter the perspective in any way. The myth exists simply because when photographers use wide-angle lenses, they often move physically close to the subject, which exaggerates perspective in the final photo. When using telephoto lenses, you’re often photographing objects that are far from you – which compresses the perspective in the photo. Note that in both examples it’s the distance that has caused the effect, not the lens. If you took a photo of distant mountains with a telephoto lens, then stood in the same spot and took a photo with a wide angle lens, the mountains would like identical in both photos -- they would be compressed together because you are far away, regardless of lens. The only difference in the photos is that the wide-angle lens would include a wider “view”, meaning you’d see more to the left and right and in the foreground. The mountains however, would look the same. Keep this in mind when you’re out taking pictures. Always remember to alter your distance from the subject so that you can try out different perspectives to see how they affect the photo.

MYTH: HDR produces unnatural photos

TRUTH: Many people see HDR photos on the internet and are immediately turned off by the unnatural appearance and overly saturated, often “cartoony” look. While it’s true that these photos have likely been produced with HDR software, it’s important to realize that those photos were produced by photographers who’ve intentionally created images with that look. HDR can look incredibly natural, and very often you may not even know that a photo is HDR. It’s just easier to “notice” the over-processed, over-saturated, cartoony ones. Many of my own photos are HDR and it’s difficult to tell at first glance. Sometimes, after a while, I occasionally forget which ones of my own are HDR! HDR is incredibly useful for architecture, interiors, landscapes, and a wide variety of subjects. Once you learn the software, you’ll be able to create natural looking images that have the extra dynamic range (bright and dark tones) but still look very “real”.

South Street Seaport

South Street Seaport

The photo of NYC's South Street Seaport above is an HDR photo and would not have been possible without using HDR techniques.

MYTH: When shooting landscapes, you should stop down your lens to the smallest aperture to ensure everything is in focus

TRUTH: Using the smallest aperture on your lens degrades image quality and is rarely necessary. Due to the way lenses are built, when you use a tiny aperture like F22 or F32, the photo can actually get less sharp because of something called "diffraction". Technically, the depth-of-field will be maximized and everything will be "in focus" -- however the overall image quality will suffer and be more blurry than if you had used a slightly wider aperture. You'll often find that apertures like F14 or F16 are sufficient for many landscapes, and will result in sharper photos that are still in focus. I rarely shoot at an aperture smaller than F16.

MYTH: It’s always a good idea to use a UV filter on your lens

TRUTH: Opinions vary on the use of UV filters. For me personally, I don’t recommend using UV filters for most photography. Of course this is just my personal opinion, and I respect those who wish to use them for an added layer of protection. However, it’s important to understand a few things about UV filters and lenses in general. Firstly, lenses today are pretty tough. They’re built to take the standard knocks and bangs you might encounter. If you’re especially accident-prone, then perhaps it may make sense to use one for protecting the front lens element, but otherwise, I suggest leaving it off. This is because from a “UV” and “haze” perspective, I’ve found they do very little to improve the photo. On the down side however, using a UV filter can definitely introduce unwanted flare in your photos. Flare is usually seen as several large, colored or white blobs in your photo. This is caused when bright light sources shine directly on the front lens element. Using a UV filter adds an additional layer of glass which increases the chance of light bouncing around and causing reflections and flare. Any type of photography where there are bright lights on the lens, such as sunsets or sunrises, or night photography where there are streetlights, etc., can be negatively affected by UV filters. For these types of photography especially, I recommend removing the UV filter. The only times I could see needing them is if for example you’re on a beach and there is a lot sand blowing around, or if you’re walking through a hiking trail and branches are frequently whipping at the front of the camera. Or perhaps you’re on a boat and there is salt-water splashing up. In those extreme examples, I could see if someone wanted to use a UV filter. Otherwise, I recommend leaving them off for the best possible image quality.

MYTH: Full-frame cameras are better than APS-C or Micro-Four-Thirds cameras

TRUTH: First let me say that just about any D-SLR on the market today is capable of taking incredible, professional-quality photos. I’m a firm believer in “It’s not the camera, it’s the photographer.” Even so, many photographers see the full-frame camera as the ultimate format to own. While it’s true that full-frame cameras may often provide some of the best overall image quality of the various camera formats, it’s also true that full-frame cameras may not be the best cameras for all types of photography. For example, Canon’s two full-frame cameras the 1Ds Mark III and 5D Mark II, shoot at 5 frames-per-second and 3.9 frames-per-second. While this is just fine for landscape and studio photography, it may not be fast enough for fast-action sports or racing. By contrast, Canon’s 1D Mark IV (a non-full frame camera) shoots at 10fps, twice the speed of Canon’s fastest full-frame camera. The 7D shoots at 8fps. If you shoot a lot of wildlife or sports, you may also be interested in choosing a non-full-frame camera. Without getting into the technical details, just know that non-full-framers have the “effect” of adding extra telephoto reach to any lens. For example, if you buy a Canon 400mm lens, it basically acts as 640mm lens on a Canon 7D. By contrast, that same lens on a 5D is 400mm. The price of a 600mm lens (which is what you would need on a 5D to equal the reach of a 400mm lens on a 7D) is much higher than a 400mm lens by several thousand dollars. So you save a lot of money by using a 7D and getting 640mm out of a 400mm lens!

MYTH: It’s always best to photograph landscapes and architecture with a wide-angle lens, and to take sports and wildlife with a telephoto.

TRUTH: While it’s true that most often landscapes and architecture are photographed with wider angles and that sports and wildlife photographers lean toward telephotos, there are plenty of times when you’ll want to do the opposite. Using telephotos for landscapes can be perfect for picking out important details or isolating a subject. You can also photograph scenes that are far away, and because of the compressing of perspective that is caused by the distance, you can get fabulously layered photos that are really interesting. Similarly, you can use telephotos in architecture to highlight certain details that may otherwise be lost in a wide-angle shot. One of the most useful times to use a telephoto for architecture is when you’re trying to avoid “converging verticals”, that pyramid effect that happens when you’re close to a tall building and shoot with a wide-angle lens pointed upwards. To avoid the lines of the building slanting inwards, use a telephoto lens and stand further back from the building. This allows you to keep the camera pointed straight ahead, rather than pointed upwards. When the camera is pointed straight ahead, you don’t get the slanted lines.

Telephotos are often used for sports and wildlife to bring the athlete or animal closer, but sometimes it’s great to see the subject in its environment. Some of my most favorite wildlife photos are silhouettes of a deer on a mountaintop with a gorgeous sunset in the background, taken at a wide angle. It can really add to wildlife photos if you can show the beautiful surroundings where the animals live.

St. Peter's Basilica

St. Peter's Basilica

The photo above of St. Peter's Basilica in Italy was taken with a 70-200mm telephoto zoom lens from very far away.

MYTH: Low ISOs produce the best picture quality

TRUTH: While technically this is true, it’s important to understand the larger context of how ISO works. From a pure “image quality” perspective, low ISOs produce images that are clean and noise-free. However, low ISOs require you to use longer shutter speeds, which is what causes blurry photos. In almost all cases, it is better to have a noisy photo that is pin-sharp, than a noiseless photo that is blurry! Because of this, it’s important to make sure that you use a shutter speed that is fast enough to prevent blur, even if that means raising the ISO to 800, 1600, or higher. High ISOs also allow you to use a narrower aperture when shooting handheld, which increases depth-of-field ensuring everything is in focus. Today’s cameras are getting better and better at handling noise at high ISOs, so don’t be afraid to use them as necessary. Of course, if you’re using a tripod and shutter speed is not relevant, go ahead and use the lowest ISO to ensure the cleanest photo.

MYTH: A D-SLR is always better than a compact

TRUTH: Sometimes it’s easy to think that a D-SLR is better than a compact camera in all situations. You’ll often find this is not the case. Here are a couple of scenarios where a compact camera may be a better choice.

* Compact cameras are great for macro photography. It is difficult and expensive to design true macro lenses for D-SLRs. In addition, the small depth-of-field of D-SLRs compared to compacts forces you to stop-down your lens to tiny apertures like F22 to get everything in focus. These small apertures require long shutter speeds, and that’s why you almost always need a tripod with D-SLRs for macro photography where focus is critical. Compact cameras on the other hand naturally have a lot of depth of field. You can take amazing macro photos, without a tripod, with most compacts, even the inexpensive ones. Compact cameras are a great way to experiment with macro photography.

* Compact cameras are great for street photography or any photography where you don’t want to draw a lot of attention to yourself and your gear. There are many occasions and places where you may want to blend into the crowd to get more “natural” shots of people and places, whether it’s a bustling city or simply a friend's party where you’re snapping some candids. Compact cameras are great for this purpose.

* Compact cameras are the best and often only choice when you need to travel light. We’ve all heard the phrase before: The best camera is the one you have with you. (They also say that about tripods.) It’s true -- If the option is no camera at all or bringing along a compact, the compact of course wins every time. Whether it’s going on a long hike somewhere, or diving into the ocean with a small waterproof compact, there are many places where a D-SLR can be just too large, heavy, and cumbersome to bring along. Compacts are great for filling in, and many of the new advanced models have full manual control and outstanding image quality. I went hiking across the summit of Mt. Kilauea, Hawaii, with just my Canon S90 compact, and I can’t tell you how happy I was to not have my D-SLR. The hike would have been incredibly difficult otherwise. With the manual controls and a lightweight tripod, I was still able to capture long-exposure shots of the glow from the lava pools.

MYTH: Lightning photography requires special gear or quick reflexes

TRUTH: As you may have seen in my more in-depth article on Lightning Photography, photographing a lightning storm has little to do with special gear and quick reflexes. It’s simply a matter of using long shutter speeds and a bit of patience to capture the lighting. Using manual mode, set the shutter speed to around 30 seconds, and an aperture and ISO that suits the scene. Then just click the shutter and wait for lightning to strike!

Lightning Strike over NYC

Lightning Strike over NYC

MYTH: Professional photography is a glamorous job of jet setting, models, and exotic locations

TRUTH: Many people dream of being a professional photographer and one day traveling the globe taking photos of exotic locales or photographing models on the beach. The job can certainly seem glamorous and extremely fun, and on rare occasions it can be just that, but more often than not, professional photography is just like any other job. You’ve probably heard this before, but pro photography is probably 20% photography and 80% running your own “business”. That business is just like any other business, and running it involves all the activities of accounting, billing and invoicing, marketing, advertising and sales, administrative work, managing client relationships, etc. You may be amazed to find out how little actual photography there is! Also, many pro photographers generate income not just from photoshoots, but a variety of other “photography-related” pursuits. For example, despite generating income by working for my architectural clients, I also hold photography workshops, I sell prints of existing work as art, I have my iPhone app, etc. You’ll need to be able to juggle a lot of different photography activities, all while running the business side of things and handling the sales, marketing, and accounting. It’s a tough career!

MYTH: You don’t need a tripod these days, because high ISOs allow low-light handheld shooting

TRUTH: High ISOs do allow you to handhold the camera in dim conditions that previously required a tripod. However, these high ISOs are purely used to obtain a fast shutter speed. For me, the beauty of the tripod is that it allows long-exposure photography, something that ISO cannot help with. Long exposure photography is one of my favorite techniques in photography, because it allows the camera to capture “motion”, which adds so much interest to the photo. That motion can be the rushing water of a waterfall or stream, the car light trails in a nighttime cityscape, or the hustle and bustle of people. None of these types of photos are possible without a tripod, so you’re missing out on a whole world of photography without one. Perhaps even more importantly, a tripod is required if you want to do any kind of exposure blending, whether manually or using HDR software. You may already know that cameras are not great at capturing a wide range of brights and darks in a single photo. Exposure blending is simply the process of taking two or more photos at varying brightness levels and combining them on the computer afterwards so that all the brightness levels of the scene are present in the photo. This cannot be done without a tripod because all the photos at different brightnesses must be taken with the camera in the exact same position, so that combining them on the computer is easy. Sure, you can attempt to hold the camera very steady to try this technique, but for serious photography, a tripod is necessary to do it right.

Colosseum, Rome, Italy

Colosseum, Rome, Italy

MYTH: Great wildlife shots require an expensive African safari

TRUTH: I’ve seen beautiful and incredibly natural wildlife photography that’s been captured in a zoo or local wildlife preserve. The key when capturing the picture is to take special care and attention to eliminate all of the “man-made” features surrounding the animal. For example, this can be done by using a telephoto lens so that just the animal is in the frame and you can’t see the man-made background elements. If the background is going to be visible in the frame, you can also use the widest possible aperture on your lens. This can blur the background to a wash of color where it’s impossible to tell what’s behind the wildlife. When photographing through glass enclosures, be sure to turn off the flash to eliminate reflections. Also get as close to the glass as possible, even pressing the front of the lens right onto the glass to ensure there are no reflections. When done properly, you may find you can take very natural wildlife photos very close to home.

MYTH: Setting your images to 72dpi is important for displaying them on a computer screen

TRUTH: To this day, I’m unable to determine the origin of this myth. The truth is that when it comes to displaying your images on a computer screen, the dpi (dots per inch) you see in your editing software is completely irrelevant. The size of your images displayed on a computer screen is only related to the dimensions of the image in pixels, for example 1200x800 pixels or 640x480 pixels. The larger the image in pixels, the larger it will appear on screen. Ignore any references to setting your images to 72dpi for on-screen viewing.

MYTH: Using image editing software is “cheating”

TRUTH: This is one of the most commonly discussed topics in all of photography. Everyone has their own opinion on it. The reality is this: No digital image produced today is completely unmanipulated. Even if you don’t personally Photoshop the image or fiddle with the adjustment controls on the camera, the digital photo itself is manipulated by the camera’s settings for saturation, contrast, etc. There’s no difference in choosing the black & white mode on your camera which desaturates the image, or the Landscape mode which intensifies blues and greens, than doing it afterwards on the computer. With film, images are adjusted in the darkroom in very much the same way, for brightness, saturation, contrast, etc, as well as dodging and burning to bring out specific details. Photographers throughout time have adjusted their images to make the best representation of what they saw. Many people like to do a little extra “adjusting” and that’s just fine – photography is art. Really the only area where minimal adjustment is required is in photojournalism. For my personal style, I prefer to keep it natural, especially with my travel and architecture photography where I know the images I capture need to represent reality. If you wish to enhance your images to make beautiful art for all to enjoy, I wholeheartedly encourage you to do so! It’s all up to you.

If you have any questions about these or any other myths you may have heard, please let me know.

I've also created an app for iPhone, Android, and iPod Touch which teaches you photography -- more info can be found here:

Photography Trainer for iPhone and Android

Photography Trainer iPhone app

Photography Trainer iPhone app

Best Regards,
Paul

To keep up-to-date with the latest photo additions and other topics, you can also become a fan at my Photography Facebook page at:

Paul Timpa Photography's Facebook Page

If you'd like to purchase prints or stock photography licenses for my photos (for advertising and editorial use), please visit:

http://www.timpaphotography.com/purchase

Share this Tutorial with friends:
Share

Copyright 2009, Paul Timpa

http://www.timpaphotography.com/




8Oct/10Off

Where to Photograph in Rome, Italy — Rome Photo Opportunities

Rome, Italy is an amazing city for photography. There is such incredible architecture and history, the photo opportunities are endless. From the Colosseum to the Pantheon, from the Roman Forum to Vatican City the wealth of beautiful scenes is astounding.

I’ve highlighted a few of the classic Rome photo opportunities for you below. I’ve also included several of my own images as examples.

The Colosseum is one of the quintessential images we often see of Rome, and for good reason. It is a spectacular sight. The Colosseum is pretty central in Rome and you can walk there from almost anywhere. I’ve found the best light for photography to be just after sunset, but your preference may be different. I encourage you to explore the area at different times of the day to see what works best for your style. I decided to do a “light trails” image, and the result is below.

Colosseum, Rome, Italy

Colosseum, Rome, Italy

St. Peter’s Basilica / Vatican City is another great photo opportunity in Rome. There are a wide variety of vantage points, from up close in St. Peter’s Square to views from a distance. The shot below is taken at dusk from Ponte Umberto over the Tiber River. Ponte Umberto is a short walk from Piazza Navona.

St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, Italy

St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, Italy

Inside St. Peter’s Basilica is the famous and beautiful dome. Since tripods are not permissible inside, you’ll want to use a high ISO and wide aperture to get a sharp shot handheld.

St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, Italy

St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, Italy

The Pantheon is an ancient and wondrous building, both inside and out. It is located in the Piazza Rotunda, which can be very busy during the day and at night, so I photographed it at dusk in the very early morning.

Pantheon, Rome, Italy

Pantheon, Rome, Italy

The photo below is also of the Piazza Rotunda, taken at night from a very low viewpoint.

Piazza Rotunda, Rome, Italy

Piazza Rotunda, Rome, Italy

Piazza del Campidoglio designed by Michelangelo is another great spot at sundown. The photo below was taken at dusk.

Piazza del Campidoglio, Rome, Italy

Piazza del Campidoglio, Rome, Italy

The Roman Forum provides a glimpse into an ancient world.

Roman Forum, Italy

Roman Forum, Italy

The Trevi Fountain is one of the most beautiful and famous fountains in the world. A long exposure provides a silky look to the flowing water.

Trevi Fountain, Rome, Italy

Trevi Fountain, Rome, Italy

In the photo below of majestic Castel Sant'Angelo I used a very long exposure to blur the fast-moving clouds.

Castel Sant'Angelo, Rome, Italy

Castel Sant'Angelo, Rome, Italy

There are countless photo opportunities in Rome, these are just a few. You should also be sure to visit the Spanish Steps, Piazza Navona, and all the other wonderful sights in Rome.

Explore and enjoy!

I've also created an app for iPhone, Android, and iPod Touch which teaches you photography -- more info can be found here:

Photography Trainer for iPhone and Android

Photography Trainer iPhone app

Photography Trainer iPhone app

Best,
Paul

To keep up-to-date with the latest photo additions and other topics, you can also become a fan at my Photography Facebook page at:

Paul Timpa Photography's Facebook Page

If you'd like to purchase prints or stock photography licenses for my photos (for advertising and editorial use), please visit:

http://www.timpaphotography.com/purchase

Share this Tutorial with friends:
Share

Copyright 2009, Paul Timpa

http://www.timpaphotography.com/




23Sep/10Off

Taking Photos in Busy Tourist Destinations with no People in the Shot

Hi everyone! I've created a new tutorial on taking photos in busy tourist destinations with no people in the shot. It's a technique I use all the time, and I hope you find it useful too! While this tutorial is slightly more advanced than some of my other ones (it requires a little bit of work in your editing software), anyone can do it.

I've guest-posted on the always-awesome website Digital-Photography-School.com, and the article is here:

http://www.digital-photography-school.com/taking-photos-in-busy-tourist-destinations-with-no-people-in-the-shot

Enjoy, and as always, please feel free to ask me any questions.

Thanks!
Paul

To keep up-to-date with the latest photo additions and other topics, you can also become a fan at my Photography Facebook page at:

Paul Timpa Photography's Facebook Page

If you'd like to purchase prints or stock photography licenses for my photos (for advertising and editorial use), please visit:

http://www.timpaphotography.com/purchase

Share this Tutorial with friends:
Share

I've created an app for iPhone, Android, and iPod Touch which teaches you photography -- more info can be found here:

Photography Trainer for iPhone and Android

Photography Trainer iPhone app

Photography Trainer iPhone app

Copyright 2009, Paul Timpa

http://www.timpaphotography.com/

16Jul/10Off

Photography Trainer app Now Available for Android

Paul Timpa Photography is excited to announce that the Photography Trainer app is now available for Android phones. Photography Trainer is a training tool that teaches you photography when you need it most -- when you're out with your D-SLR and taking pictures. Already a top-selling app for iPhone, it has just been released in the Android Market.

Photographers with Android phones like the Droid and Droid X, Nexus One, HTC Incredible and Eris, T-Mobile myTouch 3G Slide, Samsung Vibrant / Galaxy S, HTC EVO, etc. will be able to enjoy all the functionality available in Photography Trainer.

The app doesn’t require an internet connection, so it’s perfect for vacations and holidays too – learn photography no matter where you are in the world, whether it’s during a beautiful sunset on the beach or while you’re on a mountain top.

You’ll learn how to capture images with impact and creativity by understanding shutter speed, aperture, ISO, and how they all work together. Learn night and low-light photography, sports, wildlife, portraits, architecture, and landscape photography. You'll always have an expert with you in your pocket, there to help you take spectacular photos.

To download the app for Android, just search on "Photography Trainer" in the Android Market from your phone or click here: Download Photography Trainer for Android.

The app is now also available on the Amazon.com Android App Store. To download with your Amazon account, click here: Download Photography Trainer from Amazon.com.

iPhone and iPod Touch users can download the app by searching on Photography Trainer in the App Store or clicking here to download from iTunes.

The app has three sections designed to help you:

Photography Trainer iPhone app

Photography Trainer iPhone app

The Interactive Photography Trainer asks you questions about the lighting you’re in, what types of subjects you’re photographing (waterfalls, sports, city skylines, etc.) and then it guides you on how to set the camera. Most importantly, not only does it instruct you on the best settings to use, it tells you *why* to use them so that you actually learn photography in the process of using the app.

Photography Trainer iPhone app

Photography Trainer iPhone app

The Photo Gallery with Camera Settings contains dozens of professional photographs, each with detailed camera settings for shutter speed, aperture, and ISO, so you can see how the settings work together in real-life examples.

Photography Trainer iPhone app

Photography Trainer iPhone app

The In-Depth Techniques section has photography tutorials that go into further detail on topics such as:

* Getting razor-sharp photos
* HDR Photography
* Night photography
* Sports, Action, and Wildlife
* Composition
…and more…

Take your photography to the next level with the Photography Trainer and learn when you’re out with your camera – it’s the best time.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/PhotographyTrainer

Best regards,
Paul

Copyright 2009, Paul Timpa

http://www.timpaphotography.com/

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Colosseum, Rome

Colosseum, Rome

Sedona, Arizona

Sedona, Arizona

Tahiti

Tahiti

South Street Seaport, New York City

South Street Seaport, New York City

8Jul/10Off

Your First D-SLR: Best Ways to Use It

Sunrise over Tahiti

Sunrise over Tahiti

Congratulations! You've purchased your first D-SLR and now it's time to start taking pictures. Many of my friends have also purchased their first D-SLRs too. For those without any background in photography (or who haven't yet read lots of books and magazines), you may not know where to start with your new camera. With all the buttons and new terminology, it can be easy to fall into the trap of just setting your D-SLR to “Auto” mode and letting the camera do all the work.

D-SLRs are capable of taking stunning photos. Before we begin, please allow me to let you know where it’s best not to start. Try to avoid using your new D-SLR like it’s just a larger version of a compact camera. A D-SLR offers much more important features than just great picture quality. D-SLRs enable you to create images that are not possible with point-and-shoots. That's what this article is about.

The easiest and best way to improve your photography is to embrace these features and use them to create photos that can't be taken with a compact camera. That will immediately set your photography apart from the crowd.

What are those features? There are quite a few of them and we'll go through them one-by-one so you understand what each feature is and how to take advantage of it for your own pictures:

First, D-SLRs enable you to take photos where the subject is in sharp focus but the background is intentionally blurred. This makes the subject "pop" out of the picture, and can be one of the best ways to make your images look professional.

Pina Colada, Mexico

Pina Colada, Mexico

These types of photos are not possible on a compact point-and-shoot. The physically small size of a point-and-shoot camera's sensor and lens prevents you from blurring the background on most shots. Because D-SLR sensors and lenses are bigger, you're able to blur the background. Blurring the background is important because it eliminates all the clutter behind your subject and draws attention right to what’s important. In order to achieve the blur, simply use a very wide aperture on your lens such as F4 or F2.8. You can set this by using either Aperture Priority (Av) or Manual (M) mode. The closer you are to the subject and the more you have your lens zoomed in, the greater the effect. So set a wide aperture, zoom in, and get close and you'll achieve that beautiful blur. Try this technique on portraits and sports. Portraits look amazing when the subject is in sharp focus and the background blends to a silky blur of color. Be sure to focus on the eyes of your subject when shooting with wide apertures. Sports are another great time to blur the background. The background at sporting events can often be cluttered with other players, the crowd, advertisements and signs, etc. By blurring the background, your bring the attention right on the athlete. Shooting food this way also produces great results.

Second, D-SLRs are much better at taking pictures in low light than point-and-shoots. D-SLR sensors are larger and are better at gathering light, so the picture quality is improved. You can often shoot with no flash. Use this to your advantage to get shots that would otherwise be impossible with a compact camera.

Statue of Atlas and St. Patrick's Cathedral

Statue of Atlas and St. Patrick's Cathedral

Set the camera to your widest aperture and the ISO to 800 (or even higher if the picture quality looks good) and get out there at night, or indoors in dark scenes and start taking pictures. With a wide aperture, a shutter speed around 1/40th, an ISO of 800 or 1600, and a steady hand, you'll be amazed at what you can capture in very dim lighting. Use it for everything from night photography on the streets to indoor photography at concerts, children’s recitals, birthday parties, weddings, etc. Remember, since there’s no need for flash, this is also great for taking pictures of people that are far away where the flash wouldn't reach, such as on a stage.

Third, D-SLRs allow manual control of the shutter speed, enabling long-exposure photography. Most point-and-shoots except for a few of the advanced models do not allow control of the shutter speed. Using long shutter speeds on your D-SLR can be one of the best ways to produce stunning images with loads of impact and movement.

Colosseum, Rome

Colosseum, Rome

Mount your camera on a tripod or rest it on something steady, and set the shutter speed to anywhere from 1/4 second to 30+ seconds depending on what you're photographing. You can use either Shutter Priority (Tv) or Manual (M) mode. Try 1/4 second for moving people in a busy place to show the “hustle and bustle”, or 30 seconds for cars and traffic, to capture light trails at night.

Wall Street, NYC

Wall Street, NYC

A shutter speed of a few seconds is great for capturing the glistening lights of a city skyline.

South Street Seaport, NYC

South Street Seaport, NYC

Use your camera’s Bulb mode and a remote control and you can take photos that last several minutes and show the stars streaking across the sky! Using long exposures is also one of the ways that photographers can capture photos of lightning striking during a storm. For all shots, it's important to use the camera's 10-second self timer or a remote control to trigger the shutter, because touching the shutter button will blur the shot.

Fourth, capture high-speed action. D-SLRs are very fast in two ways: (1) There is very little lag between when you press the shutter and when the photo is taken and (2) The shutter speeds can be very fast, such as 1/4000th of a second, allowing you to freeze action and capture images that you can't even see with the human eye.

Sunrise, Mexico

Sunrise, Mexico

Use this for capturing an athlete mid-air diving for a ball, bicycle riders racing down a mountain, raindrops splashing in a puddle, or birds swooping down to land on a lake. Find anything that moves very fast and see if you can freeze its movement. Use either Shutter Priority (Tv) or Manual (M) mode to set the shutter speed.

Fifth, use wide-angle lenses. Most compact cameras have a widest angle of about 28mm, with the occasional compact going to 24mm. By contrast, D-SLRs can go as wide as 15 or 16mm with fairly common lenses, and even wider with specialty lenses. While this may not sound like a lot in terms of millimeters, it is actually much wider and produces photos that are very different and often extremely dramatic.

Eiffel Tower, Paris

Eiffel Tower, Paris

If your D-SLR has an APS-C size sensor, a lens that goes to around 10mm will be ultra-wide. If you're using a full-frame camera, a lens around 16mm will be ultra-wide. Capture wide sweeping views of a landscape, or get every person at the family reunion in the photo, even in a small room.

By using wide apertures to blur the background, high ISOs for low-light photography, very long or very fast shutter speeds for motion, and wide-angle lenses, you will immediately start taking photos that set you apart from the crowd.

One last comment -- I love compact point-and-shoot cameras and I use them all the time. I even have a few of them for different types of photography. They're perfect for carrying with you wherever you go, and they enable you to capture images that you otherwise might have missed. Today's compacts also have fantastic picture quality. There is a time and a place for everything, and using your existing compact camera along with your D-SLR for more dramatic images will give you the greatest amount of photographic possibilities.

If you have any questions, please let me know. I've also created an app for iPhone, Android, and iPod Touch which teaches you photography -- more info can be found here:

Photography Trainer for iPhone and Android

Photography Trainer iPhone app

Photography Trainer iPhone app

Best,
Paul

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If you'd like to purchase prints or stock photography licenses for my photos (for advertising and editorial use), please visit:

http://www.timpaphotography.com/purchase

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Copyright 2009, Paul Timpa

http://www.timpaphotography.com/