The Ins and Outs of Aspect Ratio

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It’s a story as old as time itself. Client orders prints. Client picks up prints. Client wants to know why the 5×7 doesn’t look like the 8×12 or why the 8×12 doesn’t look like the 11×14. I can even see it coming, as they look back and forth from one to the other, as if the sheer force of will can make the two match up exactly. When supernatural forces don’t resolve the problem for them, they all ask some variation of the same question– “Why are they cropped differently?” And thus begins yet another explanation of aspect ratio. Forget that we had this conversation when they ordered their prints. Forget that I pulled out a set of sample photos I keep on hand for just such a conversation. Forget that I showed them with these very same photos on the monitor when they ordered. Forget everything that happened before the moment they laid eyes on their own prints for the first time. All they know is that the different sizes don’t match up exactly and they want to know why.

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8 Tips for Responsible Nature Photography

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I’ve been spending a lot of my time lately on portraits, food, and event photography, so I got pretty excited recently when testing a new camera bag forced me to lace up the boots and hit the trails. The new Loka UL from F-stop Gear is a pretty awesome bag, but this article isn’t really about the bag. It’s about the overall nature photography experience. It’s one thing to be the master of your surroundings in the studio, but it’s quite another when your photographic adventure takes you off the beaten path into the trails, woods, mountains, or waters of Mother Nature’s studio. Being a responsible photographer on those journeys is about so much more than just getting The Shot. While I believe we all have a responsibility to our art, we can’t let ourselves lose sight of our responsibility to the environment and the world around us. [Read more...]

6 Things My Cat Taught Me About Photography

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Okay– so, let’s be clear about something. He’s not actually MY cat. We happen to coexist in the same house, thanks to my wife and son convincing me in ways only they know how that it was time for a new pet and that he was just the pet we needed. Personally, I’m a dog person. Seamus and I, however, seem to have a love-hate relationship. As in we love to hate each other. Call it a restless detente. That may be overstating things just a bit, but this cat spends quite a bit of his time pissing me off. I actually believe he schedules it in some sort of kitty tablet (there’s an app for that). It wasn’t until recently, though, that I realized this havoc-wreaking creature that my son loves so dearly might actually be able to teach a thing or two about photography.

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11 Travel Photography Tips To Get You Through The Summer

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It’s summer once again and the fortunate among you will be hitting the road, hopping on planes, maybe even boarding a ship or two, and getting the hell out of Dodge for some hopefully stress-free rest and relaxation. Regardless of whether your travels are taking you around the world or just a day’s drive from home, it’s important to not only pack your camera gear carefully, but to also spend time putting some safeguards in place to make sure that you and your gear not only make beautiful travel photography together, and that you both get home safe and sound.

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Best Tips for Working With Seamless Paper Backdrops

 

SONY DSCRegardless of whether you are shooting portraits, products, food, fashion, pets, or any of the countless other subjects that find their way in front of your lens, eventually you’re going to be faced with the prospect of clean lines or high contrast against a solid background. While shooting high-key against a white backdrop obviously poses different lighting challenges than let’s say shooting a dramatic portrait against a black background, there are certain aspects that are common to both, regardless of the color of the paper. It’s what all of this paper has in common that we’re going to take a closer look at today.

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Top 10 Father’s Day Photography Gift Ideas

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It’s that time of year again. Time for a greeting card holiday created specifically to let Dad know how much you love him. It doesn’t matter if you are looking for something special for the photographer dad in your life, or if you’re in search of hints to drop around the house to ensure your offspring pay adequate homage and tribute to you on your special day, this year’s DIY Photography Father’s Day Gift Guide is sure to have something for everyone. We’ve searched the four corners of the globe– climbing mountains, sailing oceans, hiking trails, and fording streams– all with one goal in mind. Making sure that you or your dad have one of your best Father’s Days ever.

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What Else Happens When the Photographer Becomes the Client

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“What Happens When the Photographer Becomes the Client” appeared here on DIY Photography in January.

“You only have one job,” she said. “Hire the photographer.”

This was back in January, and my wife and I were about to embark on planning our son’s bar mitzvah. The truth of the matter is that I had more than one job, but being in charge of finding a photographer was a pretty big one.  Just like my clients, I want my family’s milestones photographed and memorialized. Obligatory portraits, perfectly balanced with meaningful candid shots that tell the story of the big day. More importantly, when your wife says, “You only have one job,” what she really means is, “Don’t screw this up!” Screw this up? Nope. Never gonna happen.

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Two Easy Tricks For Adding Light In Photoshop

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If you’ve been reading my articles for a while, you already know two very important things about me and my approach to photography. The first– getting it right in the camera– is certainly not unique, but I truly believe that a unicorn loses its wings and the Earth briefly stops rotating on its axis every time the words, “I’ll fix it later in Photoshop” pass someone’s lips. The other has become a bit of a mantra in my photography classes– Photoshop is a tool, not a crutch. A bad photo is a bad photo– no amount of Photoshop is going to change that. But working a little bit of Photoshop magic can, in fact, bring that extra creative dimension to the work if used carefully. When I look at a photo, my first reaction should be, “Nice image.” It shouldn’t be, “Nice editing.” Having said that, however, I recently learned a couple of easy tricks for adding light to almost any scene in Photoshop.

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Making Sense of Your Flash’s Guide Number

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If you’ve been reading my posts here at DIY Photography for a while, you probably already know that I generally don’t spend too much time on some of the more technical aspects of photography. I’ve covered legal issues, written some fun reviews, and put some myths to rest, but I pretty much spend most of my time here howling at the moon. Okay– maybe not literally howling at the moon, but the opportunity to share whatever random thoughts have been bouncing around in my head a couple of times each week is a privilege I don’t take lightly– even when I’m ranting. I’ve decided that today’s going to be a little bit different. Today we’re geeking out and deciphering one of the greatest photographic mysteries of all time– your flash’s guide number.

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Why Composition is So D–n Important

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It’s easy to pick just about any photography-related topic– exposure, lighting, etc.– and make the claim that it is the most important element of photography. By extension, that bold statement would mean that the element in question would also be the most important step to taking better photos. The truth is, though, that all of the components come into play each and every time we bring the camera to our eye. We continue, however, to give more weight to some than to others. Sometimes it’s because we’re learning something new, while other situations may be dictated by the subject or surroundings. For me, though, that quintessential element is composition. If the composition fails, the entire image fails. Now, I can already hear feathers being ruffled. Some of you are already scrolling down to the comments section to remind me that without proper exposure, composition becomes irrelevant. The reason I totally disagree is that I am confident in your ability to assess a scene and dial in the right aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. But telling your story– creating a photo that truly speaks for itself within the four corners of the frame– that’s a process that separates a photo that works from one that doesn’t.

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