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Shutter Basics

Understanding how a shutter works can make a big difference in pictures and video—especially when working with fast subjects or mixing ambient light with flash

Do you know what kind of shutter your camera has? It’s probably one of two different styles: the focal plane shutter or the leaf shutter. More than likely it’s a focal plane shutter, because that’s the standard in most DSLRs. Just because it’s the standard, though, doesn’t mean it’s the only one, or even necessarily the best. Here are the... Read more

The Blinking Highlight Method Of Exposure Verification

Digital cameras and post-processing software all offer "blinking highlights." Here’s how to use them to determine if your exposure is exactly as it should be.

Flashing highlights, blinking highlights, blinkies, zebras. Each of these is a different name for the same thing: an overexposed highlight alert that many DSLRs use to alert the photographer that they’ve blown out details in the highlights. This alert can actually be used as a very precise and effective exposure tool. Here’s how. At first... Read more

Fix Your Hair

How to use Photoshop to make improvements to a portrait subject’s hair

I love shooting portraits. The only problem is, more than almost any other photographic subject, people tend to have very strong opinions about how they’d like to look in their portraits. That means you have to get very good at not only making them look great with your choices of cameras, lenses and lighting, but also in fixing up those portraits... Read more

Dramatic Lighting – Up Close and Personal

With the light close to the subject, contrast and drama both increase

When I interviewed tremendous luxury car photographer Tim Wallace last year, I was struck by how dramatic many of his automotive detail shots are. He’s a master of using light to let a sensuous subject emerge from the shadows, and he told me how he does it: lots of light. A lot of people might see deep shadows in a picture such as that and assume... Read more

Making Metallic Prints

From the lab and at home, there are lots of great options for metallic printing.

It used to be that if you wanted to print on metal you’d have to make a tintype or, even earlier, go see Louis Daguerre. But in recent years, there’s been a resurgence in metallic printing options, some of which are actually printed on sheets of real metal, while others are just metallic-looking photo papers that impart a metallic look.... Read more

How To Travel Light As A Photographer

Shaving pounds and ounces can make the difference between a traveling struggle and a truly pleasurable adventure

I love photography, and I love to travel. Problem is, I don’t necessarily love to travel for photography. The issue, of course, is figuring out how to get all the necessary equipment from point A to point B safely and efficiently. The best way to make this task easier is to travel light. Of course, it can be a challenge figuring out how to do that... Read more

Creating Faux Infrared In Photoshop

No need for infrared film, filters and processing. You can make any image appear infrared with a few easy editing steps.

It’s easier than ever to recreate the look of an infrared black and white photograph with the help of Photoshop. Using a Black & White Adjustment Layer, you can easily turn landscapes and portraits into faux infrared masterpieces. Here’s how. First, open your image file in Photoshop and keep it in full color RGB, or convert it to... Read more

Add Pop to Portraits in Post

Soft lighting is flattering, but a little drama can add interest

I’m always striving to keep my portraits from being flat and boring. Consequently I find myself reaching for harder, contrastier light sources to give my photos pop and pizazz. The problem is, contrasty lights don’t look good on everybody. On most people, in fact, they accentuate wrinkles and blemishes and texture. It’s not a popular portrait... Read more

Break The Rules: Use Lens Flare As An Artistic Tool

Creative uses for the good kind of lens flare

I’ve noticed a trend toward photographic rule breaking in recent years. After generations of investment in better technology and improved fidelity, suddenly photographers are in love with the imperfect—whether that’s the faded nostalgia of Instagram or the artful use of blurry images. But the trend that I find most intriguing, the one... Read more

The Importance Of Waiting To Sharpen For Final Output

The last thing you do to your image file should be sharpening. If you resize after that, you’re going to be disappointed.

This isn’t intended to be your typical sharpening primer, nor an exploration of all of the myriad creative ways to sharpen your image files. This post is designed exclusively to drive home one of the most important sharpening fundamentals: sharpening for final output. If you sharpen an image file too early in its life cycle, what you may find... Read more

Creating a Top-Down Still Life Setup

Shooting from directly above a subject can be difficult. Here’s how to do it well

Sometimes, it’s necessary to place your camera in a difficult position in order to get the shot you need. No position is trickier than trying to shoot straight down from above. Imagine you need to photograph a process that’s taking place on a surface—like a cooking show, for instance, or a drawing on a desk—or perhaps you simply need... Read more

Build a DIY Fluorescent Ring Light

This inexpensive, neat little light works well for photos, and videos, too

Ring lights are cool. They produce a unique, near shadowless, slick, frontal illumination when used as a key light, and they’re an ideal on-axis fill. The only problem is, most ring lights are pretty darn expensive. So why not save a few bucks and build your own ring light. Rather than making a strobe version, though, we’re going to use... Read more