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Monthly Archives: September 2018

  • How to do Portrait Photography in Bright Midday Sun

    In photography, learning and knowing how to use and manipulate light will always be an advantage. Especially when it comes to portrait photography because you aren’t always going to photograph your clients in the most ideal light.

    wedding couple by the pool - How to do Portrait Photography in Bright Midday Sun

    Sometimes you don’t have a choice but to put your clients in direct sunlight.

    Backlight your subjects

    You might think that backlighting can only apply during sunset hours, however, it can be used any time the sun has passed its peak. Once the sun angles a bit, you are able to backlight your subject.

    This technique is best to keep direct sun off your client’s face and avoid those weird shadows that happen under the eyebrows, nose, and chin.

    How to do Portrait Photography in Bright Midday Sun - family on the beach

    Backlighting your clients can help minimize shadows.

    It also helps to keep people from squinting. Keeping your subject’s face away from direct sunlight will also help keep them comfortable during the session. Beware of backgrounds as well because sometimes, to keep the light of your client’s face, it may mean having them in front of ab undesirable background.

    couple by a river - How to do Portrait Photography in Bright Midday Sun

    Backlighting can also add lens flare to your photos in an artistic way.

    Try your best to position your subjects away from direct sunlight while still keeping the background that you desire.

    Use reflectors

    Luckily, because the sun is high in the sky, and most likely really bright, you’ll have big natural light reflectors at your disposal.

    Natural reflectors are great to bounce light back onto your subject without having to spend tons on expensive photographic gear. They are found at the location and can fill in the shadows nicely.

    family on the beach under a palm umbrella - How to do Portrait Photography in Bright Midday Sun

    Use a shaded area to help with bright sunlight. The sand also acts as a natural reflector and bounces light back onto people’s faces.

    Natural reflectors include big parking lots, sidewalks, windows, big light-colored walls, silver or white cars, buildings with silver or reflective paneling/architectural designs, light-colored cement walls/floors, sand at the beach, and any found natural reflective surface.

    wedding couple on the beach - How to do Portrait Photography in Bright Midday Sun

    Use the sand as a natural reflector. Use trees to create a frame within a frame.

    Backlight your subject when the sun has passed its peak and position them in front of a large natural reflector to bounce light back onto their face.

    Professional photographic reflectors are also great to use if you have one already. Position your subject with their back to the sun. Use the silver side of the reflector to bounce light back onto them.

    Be careful not to aim the reflected light directly into your subject’s eyes as it can be really bright, almost as strong as direct sunlight. Angle it a bit until you find enough fill on their face.

    family outdoors - How to do Portrait Photography in Bright Midday Sun

    Backlighting your clients can help with shadows.

    Make sure you do not place your reflector on the floor pointing upward at your client. This will cause the light to bounce upward which will give you odd unflattering shadows on the face. Rather, have a stand or a friend hold the reflector up so that the light bounced back is around torso height.

    Be careful when using the white side of the reflector during midday sun as this can cause your client’s face to wash out and look opaque.

    Use a scrim to diffuse light

    Some reflectors, especially the 5-in-1 kind, come with a translucent side. This translucent reflector helps to diffuse sunlight without completely blocking it out. You can also make your own using translucent fabric and a PVC/hula-hoop.

    How to do Portrait Photography in Bright Midday Sun

    Hold the scrim over your client’s face or body to diffuse the light. Be careful of your backgrounds. If your background is brighter than your client, the background will be overexposed. If possible, try and match the light on the background to the light on your client.

    Scrims are especially effective if you are going for close-up photos of your client.

    Slightly underexpose

    Underexposing while photographing in bright midday sun can help you get less washed out backgrounds. Underexposing your photo can also help retain details that otherwise get lost if they are too bright.

    bride and groom kissing by a pool - How to do Portrait Photography in Bright Midday Sun

    Put your clients in direct sunlight to get a different look.

    After the session, you can bring up the shadows in your editing program of choice without losing detail in the rest of the image. Underexposing 1/2 – 1 stop can also help to keep the background details intact.

    family photo - How to do Portrait Photography in Bright Midday Sun

    You can also expose for both your clients in one photo and in the next expose for the background. Later you can merge both photos so that your final photo is exposed for both the people and the scene.

    This will also look a bit like HDR which gives your photo a more artistic and dynamic look. Make sure that both photos are taken using the same lens, at the same distance, with the same framing so that both images line up. Otherwise, it will be more difficult to merge the photos in an editing program.

    couple in black - How to do Portrait Photography in Bright Midday Sun

    Try to avoid photograph clients in really bright backgrounds otherwise, you’ll get this washed out background and lens flare.

    Use flash

    Flash is a great resource to use during the midday sun. Especially when you are in a location where natural reflectors are scarce or you need an extra pop of light. Flash is also handy during midday sessions so that you can properly expose for your clients while keeping the background from washing out.

    smiling boy in a field - How to do Portrait Photography in Bright Midday Sun

    Use flash to fill in shadows and compete with the bright sunlight behind.

    Since you’ll be competing with the bright midday sun, point your flash directly at your clients to make sure the light reaches them. Using a diffuser can help to disperse the light. If you’re using your flash in manual mode, aim to use it at 1/8th power or more. This will give you enough power to light your clients.

    couple on the beach - How to do Portrait Photography in Bright Midday Sun

    Experiment with your flash in the high-speed sync mode where you can use shutter speeds higher than 1/200th of a second. You’ll get more fashion styled photos as the pop of light will be more directional and your background will be darker.

    Pointing the flash at a big white wall can also help to bounce light back onto your clients meanwhile diffusing the light so that it isn’t so harsh creating a nice blended fill.

    2 portraits of a man - How to do Portrait Photography in Bright Midday Sun

    Two different portraits created in midday sun during the same session.

    If your flash is attached to your camera, you can slightly bend the flash down to direct it towards your clients rather than having it all the way up. It can add more light to the scene and direct it where you want it to be.

    Shoot in Shade White Balance

    It might seem a little weird to photograph your entire session in the Shade White Balance and your eyes might take some time getting used to the sepia tones. However, photographing people in shade mode helps to keep skin tones even.

    This is very important, especially while photographing during midday sun since it can be really bright and hard to keep the skin tone consistent.

    How to do Portrait Photography in Bright Midday Sun - girl with balloons

    Have fun photographing in the midday sun.

    Shade White Balance allows you to then edit your photos so that you can get the exact skin tones that you desire.

    Let creativity flow

    Photographing during midday sun may not be ideal yet it can offer many different ways for your creativity to flow. Use shadows to create interesting effects. Try to face your client toward the direct sunlight and focus on the details.

    couple with shadows - How to do Portrait Photography in Bright Midday Sun

    Use midday sunlight to create different effects.

    You can also use hats, palm leaves, water, and other interesting elements to create different styled photographs. Experiment with your flash in different positions. Use the sun as a subject within the photo.

    How to do Portrait Photography in Bright Midday Sun

    Use the sun to create repeating patterns and shadows.

    Allow your backgrounds to grow dark or wash out. Use the midday sun to highlight details that you want and put into shadow the details that you want to eliminate. There are many different ideas and letting the sun guide you can often give you the best results!

    Put your clients in the shade

    Just because you have to photograph during the harsh hours of midday sun, it doesn’t mean that you can’t use shaded areas to your benefit!

    You don’t need a much shade, just enough for your clients to fit in. Tall buildings, large tall trees, and tall walls work to help shade your client from harsh light during the middle of the day. Position them close to a big natural reflector, keeping them in the shade while taking advantage of the light being bounced back.

    couple with car - How to do Portrait Photography in Bright Midday Sun

    Put your clients in the shade if you can.

    Make sure you expose for your client’s face and not the background, this will help keep your skin tones even if the background washes out a bit.

    In conclusion

    While photographing in midday sunlight isn’t necessarily ideal, it can always offer some great ways to create different and interesting photographs of your clients. Practicing during these hours is also helpful in case you do have to photograph in midday sun such as a wedding day, for example.

    How to do Portrait Photography in Bright Midday Sun

    Photograph your client in direct sunlight.

    If you find yourself photographing during these peak hours of the day, just know that these tips will help you to get the best out of your session, no matter what the light is like.

    The post How to do Portrait Photography in Bright Midday Sun appeared first on Digital Photography School.

    Source: DP School

  • Review of the SKOUT Handsfree Camera Carrying System by Cotton Carrier

    If you want an alternative to using the regular camera strap for hiking or walking around town type of activities, then this review is just the thing for you! Read on to find out about the SKOUT Handsfree Camera Carrying System and whether it will suit your needs.

    Review of the SKOUT Handsfree Camera Carrying System

    A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to review the SKOUT handsfree camera carrying system by Cotton Carrier during a backcountry camping family trip in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park over a period of five days.

    To say I was impressed with the performance and comfort of the SKOUT would really be an understatement. I was super impressed with the way Cotton Carrier’s handsfree system worked. It actually held up really well over 30 miles of hard terrain for the duration of the entire trip.

    If you have ever been hiking in the mountains, especially the backcountry, you know that total weight and back comfort are very high on the list of priorities for any hiker. I have broken down my review of the Cotton Carrier in terms of the following factors.

    Review of the SKOUT Handsfree Camera Carrying System

    The first day of the hike was without the SKOUT carrier and just using the camera strap around my neck. I was uncomfortable and the strap was so annoying to hold especially after 2-3 hours of a tough incline hike.

    Review of the SKOUT Handsfree Camera Carrying System

    A much happier me with the SKOUT sling on a day hike. Being handsfree was the best part.

    #1 – Ease of use

    The SKOUT design is a one-size fit all solution for almost any camera and lens attachment. I used it with my Canon 5D MKIII and 16-35mm L lens as well as the 24-70mm L lens. The first setup with the 16-35mm lens was definitely lighter than with the 24-70mm lens. But with both lenses, the sling held up really well.

    The side-strap provided the support needed and balanced the weight effectively. Since I was already carrying a heavy camping pack on both my shoulders, the side strap ensured the camera was well balanced on my back. I was really impressed with the SKOUT’s patented “Twist & Lock” mount that attaches and detaches the camera from the anodized aluminum hub with a simple twist.

    I have to admit I was a little nervous the first few minutes after attaching the camera to the SKOUT, being completely handsfree. But my body and my back quickly adjusted to the freedom and I loved not having to constantly pull up the camera strap from my shoulders while walking and hiking in the rough terrain.

    Hidden inside the system is an internal stash pocket that fits a phone or a few credit cards. There’s also a rain cover/ weather guard so the gear stays safe and dry in less than ideal environments. I actually ended up using this a couple of times during my hike when we got caught is a mild downpour in the moutnains.

    #2 Comfort

    Attaching the SKOUT was fairly simple. After wrapping it over one shoulder, there is a single strap that wraps around the torso and snaps into place on the front, securing the entire system. The shoulder strap is really padded well, so even heavier camera systems don’t put too much stress on the body.

    Review of the SKOUT Handsfree Camera Carrying System

    The bracket attaches right where you would attach your tripod insert.

    Review of the SKOUT Handsfree Camera Carrying System

    The bracket then connects to the sling body with a twist and turn and it is quite secure.

    Review of the SKOUT Handsfree Camera Carrying System

    The crossbody sling with the camera attached to it along with the rain cover.

    The cotton fabric is very breathable. I was hiking for almost 5-6 hours every day on some pretty rough terrain. Yet the shoulder and body straps were soft and did not rub against my back. The padding on the shoulder straps is thick and really does support the camera weight across your shoulder nicely.

    #3 Durability

    Like I mentioned earlier, I used the SKOUT camera sling system over a span of 10 days in the mountains of Colorado. I used it on backcountry hiking days as well as day hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park.

    After the first few minutes of figuring out how to attach the camera and secure the system in place, I really forgot it was even on my body. I absolutely enjoyed being handsfree and having the camera readily available to snap a photo when I saw a beautiful landscape or wildlife.

    No more taking the camera out of the daypack and risking missing the moment. The straps, the clasp, and even the camera attachment held up really well to some rough use during my trip.

    Here is a video of the SKOUT handsfree camera system in use during my trip.



    All in all, I would definitely rate this product a 9/10 and highly recommend it for anyone looking to do photography on a trail or during a backcountry hiking/camping trip.

    It is easy to use, comfortable to wear for extended periods of time and seems reliable even after some rough use in the outdoors.

    The post Review of the SKOUT Handsfree Camera Carrying System by Cotton Carrier appeared first on Digital Photography School.

    Source: DP School

  • Make a DIY low-angle quadpod under $20

    I love low angle photography! It brings fresh and unusual angles that makes your pictures  stand out. You can buy Platypod for this purpose but I didn’t want to spend $100 on a chunky piece of metal. This site have many  suggestions for do-it-yourself low angle stands including a frying pan.  Good luck taking it […]

    The post Make a DIY low-angle quadpod under $20 appeared first on DIY Photography.

    Source: Diyphotographynet

  • A Beginner’s Guide to Abstract Flower Photography

    Abstract flower photography can stop you in your tracks. But unfortunately, when it comes to abstract flower photography, you probably don’t know where to start. What equipment do you need? What techniques do you use?

    The world of abstract flower photography can seem distant and difficult.

    abstract flower photography aster

    Actually, it is no harder than any other genre of photography. It can be a lot more rewarding, though. You just need to know how to get started.

    In this tutorial, you’ll learn the fundamentals of abstract flower photography. You’ll learn about the required equipment, as well as several key techniques for getting powerful abstract images. When you finish, you’ll be ready to go out and start applying these tips immediately.

    Sound good? Read on.

    What is abstract flower photography?

    I’m going to define abstract flower photography simply as this – photographing flowers in a way that the viewer doesn’t immediately see the flower.

    abstract flower photography swirls

    That is, an abstract floral focuses not so much on the flower itself, but on parts of the flower: the curve of the petals, the color of the flower center, the play of light on the stamens.

    To do powerful abstract flower photography, you have to stop thinking in terms of flowers, and start thinking in terms of shape, color, and light. This isn’t complicated. It’s easy to do, once you get the hang of it. The tips I share below will help you to do just that, so keep reading.


    To get beautiful abstract flower images, you need two things: a camera and a macro lens.

    The type of camera doesn’t matter. These days, essentially all cameras are capable of capturing stunning images. In abstract flower photography, it’s the lens that counts.

    So what lens do you need?

    Any sort of macro lens will do. I’ve taken excellent abstract flower images with cheap, sub-300 dollar lenses. I’ve also used my much more expensive Canon 100mm f/2.8L lens.

    The thing is, abstract flower photography isn’t really about sharpness and perfectly rendered detail. It’s about composition, light and color.

    abstract flower photography daisy

    A tip worth mentioning is that the shorter the focal length of a macro lens, the closer you need to be to your subject to get life-size images. So, for instance, 60mm macro lenses can be a problem when you’re trying to get a close-up of a rose and you keep casting your shadow on the petals by accident.

    You may have also heard that for abstract flower photography you need a tripod.

    abstract flower photography silhouette

    I would disagree. I don’t use a tripod for abstract flower photography, myself because I find that it’s too limiting. I need to explore the flower through the lens, change my composition, take a few photographs, and change my composition again. You can’t do that with a tripod.

    Have you got your camera and a macro lens? If so, you’re ready for the bulk of this tutorial on quick and easy tips for stunning abstract flower photography.

    Tip 1: Shoot on cloudy days

    If you’ve done natural light macro photography before, you’ll know that you can get beautiful macro photographs at a few different times of the day. First, when it’s cloudy. Second, during the golden hours: just after sunrise and just before sunset.

    abstract flower photography tulip

    I photographed this tulip on a cloudy spring day.

    For abstract photography, I recommend that you only shoot on cloudy days.

    On cloudy days, the light is even, resulting in colorful, deeply saturated images. And in abstract photography, color is key. In fact, out of all the images featured in this article, all but one were taken on a cloudy day.

    abstract flower photography tulip

    Once you become a more experienced abstract flower photographer, you can start to experiment with other types of light. But until then, stick to cloudy days. Your results will speak for themselves.

    Tip 2: Get close. Really, really close!

    In abstract flower photography, you cannot just take a snapshot of your subject. Your goal must be to show the viewer something new, something unexpected.

    The way to do this is to get close. Really, really close.

    abstract flower photography pink

    As I said above, you must think in terms of shapes, color, and light. The way to start is to magnify your subject.

    Take that macro lens and crank it up to its highest magnification setting (which should be 1:1, if you have a true macro lens). Then get close to a flower. Look through the viewfinder of your camera, and just move the lens around.

    abstract flower photography tulip center

    What do you see?

    You probably won’t immediately notice a stunning composition. I spend a lot of time looking through my lens without taking any pictures. There’s a lot of experimentation involved, and that’s okay. Which brings us to Tip 3…

    Tip 3: Use a shallow depth of field

    The depth of field is the amount of an image that is actually in focus.

    Images with only a small amount of the subject in focus have a shallow depth of field. Images with a large amount of the subject in focus have a deep depth of field.

    Depth of field is controlled by your camera’s aperture setting, also known as an f-stop. A low f-stop (f/1.4 to f/5.6) gives you a nice, shallow depth of field.

    On most cameras, you will be able to choose your f-stop. For abstract flower photography, I usually keep it in the f/2.8-3.5 range but feel free to experiment a bit depending on your creative vision. Just keep that depth of field nice and shallow.

    abstract flower photography black-eyed susan

    Why do I recommend having so little of the image in focus?

    In abstract photography, you must photograph flowers so that the viewer doesn’t immediately see the flower. You must work in terms of light, color, and shapes.

    By using a shallow depth of field, you emphasize those elements and take the focus off the flower itself. You shift the focus to the shape of the flower, the color of it, and the light falling on the flower.

    abstract flower photography aster

    This is what I focus on in my final tip.

    Tip 4: Look at the shape of the flower

    As I mentioned above, it’s essential that you think about light, color, and shape.

    Out of these three elements, I think that shape is most important in abstract flower photography. This is because flowers have naturally interesting shapes: sinuous curves, perfect circles, radiating lines.

    The photographs are there. You just have to find them.

    abstract flower photography coneflower

    For instance, flowers tend to have such beautiful, soft petals. You can use these to your advantage in your photography. Think about the petals, not as parts of a flower, but as twisting lines. Try to see these shapes moving about through the flower.

    Carefully set up a composition that uses these lines. Keep it simple—one or two lines is all you need.

    Only once you’ve composed deliberately, keeping the shape of the flower at the forefront of your mind, should you take the image.

    abstract flower photography black-eyed susan


    Capturing beautiful abstract photographs can be an intensely rewarding experience.

    Make sure you have the right equipment. Then, if you shoot on cloudy days, get super close, use a shallow depth of field and, above all, think in terms of the flower’s shape, you’ll be well on your way to taking stunning abstract flower photographs.

    Have any more tips for abstract flower photography? Share them in the comments!

    abstract flower photography orange

    The post A Beginner’s Guide to Abstract Flower Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School.

    Source: DP School

  • Batteries and Backups: How to Shoot Off the Grid

    Road trips, and other “off the grid” travel adventures are a time for slowing down, for finding the unexpected, and for reconnecting with the world around you. Unfortunately, for us photographers, they can also be a time of anxiety and frustration. How can you keep your camera charged so it’s always ready when inspiration strikes? How can you handle batteries and backups of your photos so they aren’t lost in the mix before you return home?

    Batteries and Backups: How to Shoot Off the Grid - photographer shooting in a canyon

    As a consummate road-tripper and photographer, I’ve spent many years fine-tuning how to keep my camera charged, and my photos safe, for weeks of off the grid travel. Here are some tips to help you do the same.

    Charging 101

    Many cameras, from point and shoots to DSLRs, are powered by lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries. Li-ion batteries are small, lightweight, rechargeable batteries that can tolerate hundreds of charge and discharge cycles.

    They are recharged by an external charger, which comes with your camera when you purchase it. That charger plugs into a wall via a two-prong plug and feeds off your house’s Alternating Current power (also called AC power).

    Batteries and Backups: How to Shoot Off the Grid - external battery

    Here’s where charging off the grid gets tricky. Unless you’re staying nightly in a hotel room, two-prong AC plugs (and the charging capacity to power them) are hard to come by. In order to keep your camera battery charged, you will need to adapt.

    Batteries and Backups: How to Shoot Off the Grid - camper van

    Essential Charging Gear

    Start out by purchasing a universal Li-ion battery charger. Universal chargers can hold almost any kind of small Li-ion battery, and come with a two-prong plug as well as a 12-volt Direct Current (DC) adapter. This adapter is cylindrical and fits into your car’s 12-volt port (traditionally called a “Cigarette Lighter” charger).

    Batteries and Backups: How to Shoot Off the Grid

    If you plan to drive for long distances each day and are only looking to recharge a camera battery, this may be all you need. If you plan to charge other devices—tablets, phones, and laptops—or won’t be driving, you’ll need a power bank.

    Power Banks

    Power banks are essentially big batteries. They receive a charge, either from a wall outlet or an alternative source like solar panels, and hold onto that charge until you need it. Power banks vary greatly in size, weight, and capacity.

    Batteries and Backups: How to Shoot Off the Grid - power bank

    Small USB power banks are perfect for powering cell phones and tablets. Depending on their capacity, they can recharge a phone or tablet anywhere from two to eight times.

    Though they are harder to find, some small power banks also have a two- or three-prong port for plugging in a Li-ion camera battery charger. For quick trips where a little backup is needed, these power banks are just right.

    If a little backup isn’t what you’re looking for, it’s time to call in the big guns. Portable power stations range in size from 150 to 1250 watts and are designed to be a full-service power solution. Power stations offer three-prong ports for AC power, multiple USB ports, and a 12-volt port.

    They can charge camera batteries, laptops, tablets, and cell phones with ease (charging capacity varies by model).

    Batteries and Backups: How to Shoot Off the Grid

    Portable power stations are relatively large, as well as heavy. To illustrate, they are great at a campsite but too bulky to hike comfortably into the backcountry. These power stations are recharged by plugging them into a wall outlet, or by connecting them to solar panels and allowing them to charge for 8-12 hours.

    If you’re looking for serious charging power, or plan to be off the grid for long stretches, a portable power station is a wise investment.

    Note: Portable power stations cannot be brought on airplanes, though smaller USB power banks often can.

    Batteries and Backups: How to Shoot Off the Grid - battery in use at campsite

    Photo Backups

    Is there anything worse than returning from travel and finding your image files are corrupted or missing? A savvy photographer will avoid this scenario by doing daily backups of their images.

    Batteries and Backups: How to Shoot Off the Grid - on the road

    Backing up images online to the cloud is an option if you have fast, reliable Wi-Fi at your disposal. Set the backup to happen overnight, and you’ll wake up knowing your images are safe.

    Fast Wi-Fi is hard to find. Hotel and coffee shop connections are often sluggish, so always be prepared with another backup plan. If you’re traveling with a laptop you can either back up the images directly to the computer or carry a rugged external hard drive. If the images are critical, such as a wedding gallery or a shoot for a client, back up the images to two different locations.

    Batteries and Backups: How to Shoot Off the Grid

    When traveling without a laptop, invest in a portable backup device like a Gnarbox. These small drives have an SD card slot and will copy and store all of the card’s images. Again, if the shoot is extra-important, be sure to back up the images to at least two locations.


    Keeping your camera and other devices charged while on the road can be a challenge, but is made easier with a few pieces of essential gear designed to meet your charging needs. Together with regular backups, you can take images off the grid with ease and peace of mind.

    The post Batteries and Backups: How to Shoot Off the Grid appeared first on Digital Photography School.

    Source: DP School

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