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What You Can Learn From Shooting JPEGs

I’ve been a RAW shooter for several years now, but that doesn’t mean I’ve mastered every aspect of the format

I’ve been a RAW shooter for several years now, but that doesn’t mean I’ve mastered every aspect of the format. I try to learn new things about my tools and techniques every day. I already knew that when working with RAW files you have to do some things manually that happen automatically with JPEGs. Most notably, you have to make... Read more

How To Shape Hard Light

Softboxes and umbrellas—and the soft light they produce—really seem to get all the love.

Softboxes and umbrellas—and the soft light they produce—really seem to get all the love. You’re building your lighting setup, and what’s the first thing you add to your strobe and light stand? An umbrella or softbox, of course. They’re great modifiers for turning hard specular light into beautiful soft light—which looks great... Read more

Reverse Engineering Instagram

In the early days of cell phone photography, I resisted the trend

In the early days of cell phone photography, I resisted the trend. I considered anything produced by a smartphone nothing more than a dime-a-dozen snapshot. But then … well, I was proved decisively wrong. There’s some pretty cool stuff happening with cell phone photography, from big-time photojournalists using camera phones because of their... Read more

How To Build And Use A V-Flat

If you’re outfitting a shooting space of any sort, from huge studio to converted garage, one of the most useful tools is a V-flat

If you’re outfitting a shooting space of any sort, from huge studio to converted garage, one of the most useful tools is a V-flat. V-flats are easy and inexpensive do-it-yourself projects, and they’re useful as everything from a multi-purpose light modifier to a portrait background. Here’s how to make them and put them to use. ... Read more

How To Photograph Butterflies

Recently I found myself anxious for the arrival of warm weather and craving a bit of outdoor photography

Recently I found myself anxious for the arrival of warm weather and craving a bit of outdoor photography. So what did I do? I headed indoors, of course. I found my local butterfly house and got a dose of outdoor photography in its warm and comfortable confines. There are dozens of butterfly houses to be found throughout the coldest parts of the country,... Read more

The Importance of Negative Fill

Photographers learn at an early age about the importance of reflectors and fill light to prevent shadows from becoming too dark and dramatic

Photographers learn at an early age about the importance of reflectors and fill light to prevent shadows from becoming too dark and dramatic. But what many of us don’t learn is the importance of the opposite—negative fill. Negative fill is a great way to add definition and dimension, as well as a touch of drama to prevent dull, flat, lifeless... Read more

Techniques for Maximizing Sharpness

When it comes to sharp pictures, we all know the age-old standard is to put the camera on a tripod and use a cable release

When it comes to sharp pictures, we all know the age-old standard is to put the camera on a tripod and use a cable release. But what other techniques can help increase sharpness, without requiring an investment in any new equipment? Here are eight great ones. – Use the sharpest aperture. You can test every lens in your bag to determine which... Read more

Tools for Maximizing Sharpness

Are you looking to increase the sharpness of your photos? Who isn’t

Are you looking to increase the sharpness of your photos? Who isn’t. We all know about the basic techniques for maximizing sharpness, but what about the tools that really help too? Here’s some hardware to help you go the extra mile in your quest for ultra-sharp photos. – The tripod and cable release go without saying, so I’m... Read more

5 Game-Changing Photo & Video Apps

I’m not one who typically takes my phone photography particularly seriously

I’m not one who typically takes my phone photography particularly seriously. But since I started using Instagram I’ve found myself growing increasingly enamored, not only with that service in particular (especially for the way it brings me the work from great photographers around the world) but with my cell phone camera as a legitimate visual... Read more

How To Photograph Art Like an Expert

My friend Elon Schoenholz is a talented photographer who is often hired by museums to photograph gallery interiors and artwork

My friend Elon Schoenholz is a talented photographer who is often hired by museums to photograph gallery interiors and artwork. He is also a former staff photographer for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, where he photographed everything from tiny paintings to large sculptures and installations. When I wanted to know more about photographing artwork... Read more

Photographic Copy Work

The foundation of photographically reproducing two-dimensional images is called copy stand photography, or copy work

The foundation of photographically reproducing two-dimensional images (such as paintings, drawings, prints or photographs) is called copy stand photography, or copy work. It involves making the closest duplicate of the original image as possible. That means minimizing distortion with the right lens and camera position, and lighting the subject so no... Read more

Contrast Correction and Color Balance By The Numbers

No matter what mood you’re trying to create in a photograph, one thing about exposure values generally remains true

No matter what mood you’re trying to create in a photograph, one thing about exposure values generally remains true: there should be pure black values and pure white values if you want your images to have pleasing contrast and reproduce well. If you can set a solid baseline of black tones and white tones—which varies with the image in question... Read more
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