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You Need A Cable Release

To make sharp pictures, get your hands off your camera with these tools and techniques.

If you go back far enough in the history of photography, you’ll get to a time where photographers absolutely had to use a cable release in order to trigger the shutter. And this was a good thing, as it usually makes for sharper pictures. Consequently large format photographers have been employing cable releases since day one, and they’re... Read more

If You Can Only Have One Background…

…A white seamless is your best bet. Here’s why.

– When you want your background to look white in pictures, it’s much easier to start with a white background. True, you could dump enough light on a gray background that you overexpose it and make it look white, but this presents a number of challenges that are usually alleviated by simply starting with a white background. –... Read more

Turn A Hollow-Core Door Into A Long-Lasting Studio Reflector

How to DIY a versatile, rolling reflector that’s built to last

Foamcore and insulation sheeting make nice reflectors when you need something large—say, four feet or more in any dimension, and especially if you want a big ol’ 4×8 sheet reflector. But the problem with these paper-based products is that they don’t hold up well to use and abuse. So that’s why at my studio, we discovered that... Read more

The One-Click Trick To Make Photoshop Adjustment Layers More Useful

A tiny little button makes a real big difference with Adjustment Layers

When working with Layers in Photoshop, one of the most powerful tools for lossless editing is the use of adjustment layers. Rather than actually changing the pixels in the content layer (i.e. altering the original image), you can use an adjustment layer to virtually put a filter over the layer and make the layer hold the adjustment for you. Turn off... Read more

Lightroom’s Adjustment Brush Auto Mask

Keep an eye out for unwanted artifacts from Lightroom’s automatic masking aid

Lightroom has a little tool called Automask that lives inside the Adjustment Brush. It’s intended to help photographers by making their retouching jobs easier, automatically creating a virtual mask that limits adjustments to an automatically selected area. And while I like the idea of this tool a lot in theory, I don’t really like it at... Read more

Make A Paint Chip Gray Card

Find a neutral gray paint chip and you’ve got an ideal, inexpensive, easily replaceable white balancing aid

The other day, as I was perusing paint chips while trying to select a color to paint my dining room, it occurred to me that these paint chips could be useful for photography. A truly neutral gray paper paint sample would make an ideal inexpensive (i.e. free) and very portable white balance aid. In the spirit of using a sample pack of gels to adjust... Read more

How To Photograph Basketball

Simple tools and techniques get you closer to the action than in any other sport

The NBA Playoffs are in full swing, so I thought why not offer some tips for photographing basketball. When I was a young photographer, there was nothing I enjoyed more than covering a high school or college basketball game. No sport puts you closer to the action with your camera, so it can really be a lot of fun to shoot. I’m not expecting you... Read more

Understanding The Exposure Triangle

A look at the three camera controls that dictate exposure and how they work together

Switching the camera’s exposure controls from Auto to Manual for the first time is a big step. For beginning photographers ready to make that leap, all you need to know about exposure can be found in the exposure triangle. There are three camera controls that affect exposure: ISO, shutter speed and aperture. Each of these occupies one side... Read more

Clean Up The Background

Simplify a composition with subtle changes to camera settings and angle of view

One of the best ways to improve a composition is to simplify it. And a great way to make a picture simpler and drive the focus to the subject is to clean up the background. So here are five techniques for simplifying the background and improving your pictures. 1. Move the camera. Simply raising or lowering the camera, or moving it left or... Read more

How A Flash Is Like A Double-Exposure

Controlling flash and ambient independently in a single shot

Someone recently suggested to me a new way of thinking about flash exposures. This piqued my interest, of course, because among students and young photographers it appears that understanding the intricacies of flash, and in particular of balancing flash with ambient light, is quite a challenge. So in an effort to bring more understanding to the concept... Read more

That Extra 5%

Five Ways to give your image a little extra quality to help it from good to great.

I recently had a great professional photographer tell me about how he does all sorts of things to help him eke out another 5% of image quality. He’s looking to do a few extra little things that add up to a big improvement in his pictures. So here’s a list of five ways you can add an extra 5% of quality to your pictures. Do enough of them, and the... Read more

The Importance of “Closer”

A closer look may be all that stands between you and a great photograph.

There are a variety of ways that the concept of “closer” comes into play in making better pictures. From composition to lighting to retouching, harnessing the power of “closer” can make all the difference in your pictures. – Iconic photographer Robert Capa famously said, “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not... Read more
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