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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

The Easiest, Best, One-Click Black and White Conversion Available

Lightroom’s B&W presets are simple to use and produce beautiful results

Want to convert your colorful digital images into black and white? Well, you’ve got about a million choices for doing it, and about half of them will do a nice job. You can learn about altering the black and white mix in Photoshop or Lightroom, and it really is a comprehensive, infinitely fine-tunable way to make very deliberate black and white conversions.... Read more

Three Great Uses For High-Speed Flash Sync

High-speed sync is a versatile tool. Here’s how to put it to good use.

I tend to think of strobes and flashes as fairly simple lighting tools, even when they’re high-tech and capable of doing all sorts of things like TTL metering and wireless communication. But the one bit of high-tech wizardry that I regularly employ with my flash is high-speed synchronization. Both Nikon and Canon offer flashes (their Speedlights... Read more

Why Chimping is Good!

The screen on the back of your camera provides invaluable feedback

Do you know what “chimping” is? Chimping is a derogatory term for looking at the LCD on the back of the camera after an exposure. I don’t know why we’re compared to chimpanzees when we look at the back of the camera, but that’s the term that took hold. Here’s the thing, though: chimping isn’t bad. Anybody who says otherwise is either... Read more

The Most Important Fact About Image Resolution

To understand how resolution works, start with area resolution

A whole lot of people are confused about digital image resolution. So I’m going to simplify it as much as possible, and tell you the only thing that really matters when it comes to the resolution of your digital image files: area resolution. The area resolution (or overall resolution, or, frankly, just plain “resolution”) is the end all, be all,... Read more

Lightroom's Targeted Adjustment Tool

Exposure and color control with the easiest editing tool around

There’s a tiny little tool found in Lightroom’s Develop module, and it’s called the Targeted Adjustment tool. And this simple little one-click tool makes major adjustments to color, contrast and exposure with precision and ease. Here’s how. In the Tone Curve pane of the Develop Module, you’ll notice in the top left of the window... Read more

Fun with Focus and Depth of Field

Three techniques for creating funky depth of field effects in the camera and in the computer

Shallow depth of field in a photograph has always been a great way to put the attention exactly where you want it—at the point of focus and nowhere else. But a recent influx of various tools and techniques has made shallow depth of field, as well as special depth of field effects, more popular than ever. Here are three techniques for creating your... Read more

How To Handle Harsh Light

What to do when you need to get the shot but the light is just too harsh

We all know how important it is to make sure we’re working with nice light. It’s not enough to have a great moment and a great subject in a great composition. If the light’s not right, the picture’s going to suffer. So does that mean if you’ve got bad light—the kind of harsh sunlight that makes midday an awful time for taking pictures—you... Read more