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Whether you're just learning photography basics or you need some advice on an advanced photo technique, our How-To section offers tips for shutterbugs at every level.

June 2008 HelpLine
Get The (Focal) Point?

Capturing talent
Q) I want to start shooting photos of local bands and some other bigger acts that come through my area on a regular basis. I'm new to the D-SLR game and still learning all the things I can do with my camera. So I'm looking for some advice on what settings to use while in this type of situation. Of course, it's low-light and fast-moving action, along with light changing all the time. I'm in the market to buy a new lens specifically for this task, but would love to also use it in the field for the nature photography I'm starting to enjoy. I'll have access to the sides of the stage and the front of the stage on the calm side of the barrier, so I'd think that my shooting distances could range from about six to 25 feet.

Make Your Subject Stand Out
Focus the point of interest in your photos with these easy techniques
quick fixOften, one of the main goals when composing a picture is to make the subject stand out from the background and surroundings. This is especially true in sports photography, where the photographer wants to isolate the subject from a distracting background, such as when a football player is running in front of a cheering crowd.

Making A Connection
One well-traveled photographer shares her insights on approaching, composing and lighting memorable portraits, and on learning from the pros
Making A ConnectionNew York-based Dutch photographer Mirjam Evers has traveled and photographed in more than 50 countries, focusing her camera and her eyes on creating environmental portraits and travel, documentary and adventure photographs. She's able to transcend cultural and language barriers with an intangible spirit that comes through in every portrait.

Learn Lighting From A Point-And-Shoot - 5/5/08
Become a lighting genius with a little help from automatic camera modes
Learn Lighting From A Point-And-Shoot - 5/5/08

Whenever I pick up a point-and-shoot camera, the first thing I do is change the mode to "Night Portrait." It's a simple little setting that makes great effects, thanks to a long shutter speed combined with a flash exposure. It always seems to deliver a well balanced flash/ambient mix.

This ambient/flash setting doesn't always work well in bright sun or other well-lit situations, but when you're indoors or when the subject is in front of an illuminated background the combination of a longer shutter speed and stop-action flash makes for great results-the kind of thing you create when you're a lighting genius.

Try A Tilt/Shift Lens For Funky Focus - 4/28/08
Use tools the “wrong” way to shift the plane of focus and make unique photos out of everyday shots
Try A Tilt/Shift Lens For Funky Focus - 4/28/08 From casual family shooters to high-profile pros, many photographers use the same tools for vastly different effects. Sometimes the results from using a tool the wrong way are more interesting than when things are done by the book.

Architectural photographers have long used view cameras with movements to adjust the plane of focus and control perspective in their photographs of tall buildings and tight interiors. In the digital era, though, those movements are unavailable on dSLRs. Unavailable, that is, unless you have a special lens.

10 Tips For Green Photography - 4/20/08
In honor of Earth Day, the Earth-friendly photographer’s manifesto
10 Tips For Green Photography - 4/20/08

Photography can be a very environmentally friendly medium. For those interested in trying to preserve the world they photograph, here are a few simple guidelines to help reduce, reuse, recycle and raise your eco-friendliness as a photographer.

Creating A High-Key, High-Fashion Look - 4/14/08
With the proper subject, background and positioning, a big-time overexposure can make a perfect shot
Creating A High-Key, High-Fashion Look - 4/14/08The term "high key" gets tossed around a lot in lighting discussions, and it means different things to different people. It often refers to a relatively low lighting ratio-as in not much contrast between highlight and shadow. High key can also be when a photo consists of primarily bright tones. Or high-key shots can be created by lighting-more specifically, by overexposing in whatever light there is.

These intentional overexposures are a great way to break the rules and give your shots-especially portraits-a high-fashion kick. Ultimately, it doesn't matter what you know about lighting to create high-key photos. You can do it all with exposure, creating a high-energy, high-style photograph.

Great Portrait Light! - 4/7/08
Let nature worry about your lighting so you can focus on making great shots
Great Portrait Light! - 4/7/08Portraits are always a big challenge-even bigger if you're photographing kids. So why not simplify the distractions so you can concentrate your efforts on making great shots? Instead of worrying about lighting effects and flash exposures, just go outside at any time of day, any day of the year, and find some open shade.

Digital Start To Finish
How I get from capture to print

quick fixI usually devote this column to fixing and enhancing pictures in Photoshop Elements or Photoshop CS3 and, more recently, Adobe Lightroom. For a change, I thought I'd share my digital start-to-finish process, covering what I do, and what you can do, in the quest to make a picture-perfect inkjet print.

May 2008 HelpLine
When New Tech Meets Old Tech

helplineQ) A lot has been written about the amazing things that can be done with plug-ins. PCPhoto has given me a lot of great tips as I've been learning more and more about using layers in order to fine-tune my digital images. I've become fascinated by what I can do with filters when editing my images. So now I'm wondering about whether I even need any filters when I take my digital photographs.

Painting With Light
Use a flashlight and colored gels to keep the photography going after dark
Painting With LightI had 30 seconds left. Running through the pitch-black desert night, I stumbled into a prickly pear cactus, but didn't have time to worry about the quills embedded in my leg. I was in pursuit of a masterpiece! I quickly switched gels, aimed and fired. Twelve seconds left. I practically flattened a tripod leaping behind an old juniper. I had to get one more critical burst in...bang, bang, bang...two seconds left.


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