Our Best Tips for Photographing Fireworks

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With the Fourth of July right around the corner here in the United States, along with other summer celebrations around the world, photographers everywhere will be photographing fireworks over the next couple of months. Many will try, but how many will succeed? Fireworks photos, in my experience, are usually an all-or-nothing proposition. You either get the shot or you don’t. The good news is that there are steps you can take and tips you can follow that will vastly increase your chances of success. This is not a ranking. Missing any one of these elements can mean the difference between a crisp, dramatic photo and an over/under-exposed frame of out-of-focus smoke. Instead, I chose to list our tips for photographing fireworks in the order you’ll need them.

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7 Keys to Epic Travel Photography

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In the 20-plus years since I discovered the joy of photography, I’ve been fortunate to travel all over the world, capturing everything from Italian cathedrals to the bamboo forests of Kyoto. Along the way, I’ve learned some tricks for making the most of photo opportunities wherever I find myself.

Whether you’re heading to the Amazon, the Alps or anywhere in between this summer, a little advance planning and a thoughtful approach can make all the difference when it comes to taking great travel photos. Following are some of my best tips for shooting amazing photos, no matter where your travels take you. [Read more...]

The Business of Photography: Why It’s Important to Know What We’re Talking About

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In photography, as in life in general, it’s important to know what you’re talking about. You and I could get together for beers and spend hours talking about exposure, lighting, composition, and any number of other photography-related topics (I’d enjoy that, by the way). But what if I started asking you questions about your business model? Would you be able to tell me what your cost of doing business is? How many photo shoots do you need this month in order to keep the electricity on and your family fed? What about a question or two regarding the fine print in your contract? When it comes to the numbers aspect of what we do, many photographers have a bit of trouble explaining themselves. This is by no means an insult, blanket statement, or judgment call. It’s simply a concern that’s been popping up on my radar quite a bit lately– one which we could all avoid if we had a better handle on knowing what we’re talking about when clients start asking us business-related questions.

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Using Everyday Objects For Making Outstanding Backdrops

I am a big fan of using simple objects or DIYing solutions in my photograph. One thing I always like doing is using a Gobo (photography lingo fo go-between) to make any plain background stand out. Nowadays, I am using a device called the Light Blaster which can act as a dedicated gobo projector, but before I got it, I DIYed my own patterns for the background.

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So here are examples of everyday objects I use to create some cool patterns on the background.

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The Comprehensive And Contemplative Guide On Creating Magical Smoke Composites

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There is an old song that says that no good story ever started with the words “No Good Story Ever Starts With Drinking Tea [Watch this link, it has some pretty explicit music]. Anyhow,  I am not really sure if this is 100% accurate, but it definitely applies for my story today. I once drank a nice shot of Whiskey. Drinking Whiskey and smoking cigar. I kinda threw my head back and relaxed while enjoying the smoke swirling upwards. Ahhh…. What a nice swirl…… It was actually dancing its way up. I know that this is what incepted this ballerina photograph: [Read more...]

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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How To Do A 2.5D Parallax Animated Photo Effect Using Only Free Software

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I had been fiddling with creating these 2.5D parallax animated photos for quite a few years now, but there had recently been a neat post by Joe Fellows that brought it into the light again.

The reason I had originally played with the idea is part of a long, sad story involving my wedding and an out-of-focus camcorder that resulted in my not having any usable video of my wedding (in 2008). I did have all of the photographs, though. So as a present to my wife, I was going to re-create the wedding with these animated photos (I’m 99% sure she doesn’t ever read my blog – so if anyone knows her don’t say anything! I can still make it a surprise!). [Read more...]

How To Use The Histogram Tool For Getting A Perfect Exposure

Looking on the back of the camera to see if you got a shot properly exposed can be misleading. The LCD may not be calibrated showing a too dark or a too light image. Or the sun hitting the LCD can be laying tricks on you.

Yet there is a tool, that is often ignored that can give you a very quick and good indication if you exposed correctly – The Histogram.

In a nut shell, the histogram is a graph that show how many pixels of each brightness level are present in a frame.  John Greengo of CreativeLive give a full back to basics course on photography, in this installation he discusses the Histogram in very easy to understand manner.

Generally, John mentions that you would want a histogram that looks like a mountain with a strong peak in the middle and a slope that goes out to either end. While specific captures may be unique, (such a capturing snow, or night shots), a strong peak on the right may indicate an over exposed image, while a strong peak on the left may indicate an under exposed image.

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Quick Tip: Using Double Reflection When There Is No Line Of Sight To The Light Source

It is no secret that we love reflectors here on DIYP, and we’ve shared quite a few reflector tips before. This one from The Slanted Lens is kinda different though, as it does not show you how to actually use a reflector but it shows you what to do when there is no line of sight between the light source and the reflector.

Sometimes, the set dictates that light should be reflected from a certain location,. Mostly when you are using the sun light to light interior locations, like when you are deciphering hieroglyphs in a pyramid. But if that location has no light, you need to figure out a way to get light into there. This is where double reflection comes in.

The solution that TSL suggests is quite simple – Double Reflect. Set a soft reflector where you want the light on the subject to be coming from, then set a second, hard reflector, where the sun is. Use the hard reflector as the light source and use the soft reflector as, well…, a reflector.

While Double Reflection does require two reflectors, as the name suggests, it is a great way to get natural light to places that are hard to reach. And while JP uses high production bug reflectors, even a set of two small 5in1 reflectors @$20 each can do the job.

[Using Double Reflectors to Light a Cave | The Slanted Lens]