Camera Hack: Build A String Tripod - 7/14/08
Homemade image stabilization for any camera and lens It's hard enough to carry a camera everywhere you go, so how can you possibly be blamed for not always having a tripod? Unfortunately, all too often a camera is worthless without something stable to hold it. Dim lights and long exposures are everywhere. Manufacturers have long been working on ways to improve photographers' abilities to work in low light without relying on tripods-better high-ISO film and sensors, digital noise-reduction software, portable monopods, image stabilization built in to cameras and lenses-but nothing's quite like the ability to simply stabilize the camera when you click the shutter.
Gel Your Flash For Complete Color Control - 7/7/08
Learn how gelling a flash can make you look like a digital color expert Digital tools make it easy to control color effects after a shot is in the computer. But sometimes there's no better way to get a great color-whether it's subtle warming or wild and wacky saturation-than by doing it with real light while you're really shooting. It may sound daunting, but simply gelling a flash can make your photos look like you're a digital color expert.
The Secret To Perfect Travel Shots? - 6/30/08
Check the postcard rack When it comes to travel photography, knowing all about your destination is a great way to begin. In the grand scheme of vacation prep, however, photo research isn't always high on the list. For someone whose journey is sure to encompass serious photography, however-even if it's squeezed into a family vacation-a little research can go a long way.
Ideally, when you're planning your next getaway, you'll get a good idea of where you want to photograph before you leave. Notable locations, scenic overlooks, historic settings-all are common tourist spots no matter where you're traveling. Even if you like to fly by the seat of your pants, a little online investigation before you depart will help you come back with great photos.
Get Grand Vistas - 6/23/08
Using people for scale to improve your photos Sometimes great scenes aren't as powerful through the camera as they are to the naked eye. Often it's because little two-dimensional photographs can make it difficult to comprehend the size of a subject-especially if it's a big subject. In those situations, it's best to consider including something as a point of reference for scale. Be it a sailboat or a sign or a building or a car. All these things help give a sense of scale to photographs-as long as the "thing" you're adding to the picture is so recognizable that it instantly registers as a yardstick for the picture. And what is most recognizable to humans? Other humans. That's why they're the best indicator of size you could ever want.
Perfect Architecture Shots - 6/16/08
Seven simple steps for correcting vertical convergence Some photographers spend a lot of their time keeping things straight: horizon lines, roofs and walls, interior decorâ¦ No matter how straight the line started, leave it to the camera to make it crooked. One of the best ways to deal with these off-kilter angles is to correct for them in the computer.
A common example of crooked lines that should be straight is in an architectural photograph. Even if you're not an architectural pro, sometimes the goofy convergence that shows up in shots doesn't do a scene justice. When this optical distortion strikes, try these few simple steps to correct for that vertical convergence-and then apply the same principles to fix all sorts of other distortions in your pictures.
Create Faux-Infrared Images - 6/9/08
Get infrared film effects from digital shots with a few image-editing tricks Not everything in the digital era is better than the film equivalent. Think of black-and-white infrared film, for example. This analog process created totally unique results that were as much fun for the great photos they created as for the surprises they delivered along the way. When you clicked the shutter, you never knew exactly what you were going to get.
Though the surprise isn't quite the same, you can actually create similar infrared effects in the computer. True infrared film records light that's invisible to the human eye-in the reddest region of the light spectrum. Similar in-camera effects can sometimes be created digitally (depending on a particular CCD's sensitivity to near-infrared light, or whether you've had it converted to a true IR sensor), but why not skip the in-camera filtration techniques and turn any image into infrared after you've got it in the computer?
Hot Hyperreal Sharpness Effects - 6/2/08
You’ve seen this hip look everywhere. Now you can make it your own. Fashionable trends make their way into all aspects of life-from clothing to television to music and art. The hot trend right now in photography seems to be a hyper-sharp look that's everywhere in advertising and editorial. It's tricky to describe, but it looks like a super-detailed, overly sharp image with extra detail in the shadows and what appears often as heightened grain. [To see examples, check out the work of Matthew Clark, Mitchell Funk and Gary Land in recent issues of PCPhoto and Digital Photo Pro.]
The Secret To Stronger Compositions - 5/26/08
Simplify your shots with shallow depth of field One of the simplest ways to improve your photographs is exactly that: simplicity. When things aren't working and you feel like your composition is too cluttered, go minimal. Step back, examine your scene, and figure out how you can boil it down to the essential details. One of the best ways to do that, of course, is to pick a single detail and use a shallow depth of field to isolate that detail from its surroundings.
Ten Tips For Better Low-Light Photos - 5/19/08
It’s easy to make great shots in great light, but what about when the light’s barely there? Low-light situations can be tricky, but they can also make for great shots you're up to the challenge. Here are ten great ways to turn low-light situations into fertile ground for fabulous photos.
1. Don't fight the light-think about new ways to make your compositions work. Maybe a silhouette is the perfect solution; it's often ideal when the day's last light is silhouetting a unique shape like a tree or a skyline or a body. Whatever the case, go with the sillo and you'll not only create an interesting shot but you'll get to hand-hold the camera because of the faster shutter speed it enables.
Darkroom Effects Improved In The Computer - 5/12/08
Mastering the art of digital solarization Sometimes digital techniques are barely adequate stand-ins for their original chemical counterparts. Other times, however, the computer provides so much control that the old darkroom method pales in comparison. Sabattier and solarization techniques are the perfect example of the new method improving on the old.
In the darkroom, solarization (or what is technically called the Sabattier effect) is achieved essentially by re-exposing the print or negative to light during processing. This made parts of the print reversed, turning dark areas light and light areas dark. The first time you create this effect in the darkroom it's very exciting. The first time you do it in the computer it makes you wonder how anyone ever accomplished anything in a darkroom.
Learn Lighting From A Point-And-Shoot - 5/5/08
Become a lighting genius with a little help from automatic camera modes
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.