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Hints and Tips

milkyway

Some hints to get you started with space and galaxy photography

Some of the most beautiful landscape images you’ll see will be filled with a swathe of stars from the Milky Way. These night-time images are gorgeous and ethereal, but can be a little tricky to capture without the right techniques.

In this piece, we’re going to look at some simple tricks you can try to get you started when you’re trying to figure out how to photograph the Milky Way.

 Best locations for Milky Way photography

Light pollution is a big issue in most towns and cities, so while you could give Milky Way photography a go in your back garden, for best results you’ll probably need to take a little road trip further afield.

The more remote the area the better, as you’ll stand a good chance of seeing as many stars as possible. You can use smartphone apps to help you find locations which are less prone to light pollution to help you plan your trip.

Always be safety conscious if setting off into a remote location. If you can travel in a pair or group, it’s advisable, and always make sure you tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to be back.

Certain times of year work better than others too, again, there are apps which can help you track what the milky way will look like in your chosen area to pick the best time for your shots. In order to get the best image of the stars, you want to avoid the moon being in your shot – for this reason, it’s best to pick a time in the month when there is a no moon or very little moon visible.

Best weather for Milky Way photography

When photographing the Milky Way, you want the skies to be as clear as possible. There’s virtually no point in planning a shoot without looking at the weather, as you don’t want to turn up to your location to find it is completely cloudy and you’ve had a wasted journey.

 

Choose your time of the month to go, but if you can, keep a couple of days either side of your proposed date free and check the weather closer to the time.

 

As you’ll likely be standing outside for large stretches of time, you may want to avoid Milky Way photography during the coldest months, but even in the middle of summer you should make sure you take plenty of warm clothing as it can get very cold, very quickly under a clear sky.

 

Best camera equipment for Milky Way photography

 

If you’re serious about astro or space photography, you might want to think about picking up a dedicated camera for the job.

 

You’ll need something which copes well with shooting in low light, producing crisp and clear images, even when shooting at high ISOs. Most modern DSLRs and CSCs have pretty good low light capability, but certain cameras excel at it. A good example is the Sony A7S II, which is famed for its low-light shooting power and has even been used in a recent space mission.

 

Other cameras known for having good low-light prowess include the Nikon D5 and the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. A full-frame camera, with its large sensor, such as any of those suggested, is ideal for capturing the most amount of light – which is the aim of the game when it comes to night sky photography. Don’t be put off by APS-C and Four Thirds cameras though, as they can also produce some excellent night-time images.

 

When it comes to lenses, wide-angle lenses are ideal for Milky Way and night sky photography. The reason for this is fairly obvious – you want to capture as much of the night sky as possible, for which a wide-angle lens is designed for.

 

Aim for lenses which fall somewhere between 14 and 24mm. A good example which you could use with the Sony A7S II is the Sony 12-24mm f/4 G Lens, or the Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master lens, which has a wide aperture for letting in even more light.

 

As you will be using long exposures, a tripod is an essential piece of kit. You’ll want to go for something which is as sturdy as possible, but because you might be walking some distance to get to remote locations, you’ll also want one which is relatively portable and light. A carbon fibre tripod usually combines the best of both worlds. Additionally, you should look for a tripod which has a flexible head that will allow you to point your camera upwards towards the sky.

 

The 3 Legged Thing Leo Equinox Tripod with AirHed Switch Ball Head tripod can support very heavy camera and lens combinations, but folds up to a small and compact size. It can also be configured to shoot low to the ground if you want to get a maximum amount of sky in your shot as possible.

 

Finally, a remote release ensures that you don’t need to touch the camera and risk introducing image blur. The release you’ll need depends on the camera you’ll be using, but can be picked up for as little as £15.99.

 

Best camera settings for Milky Way photography

 

What you most need to achieve with galaxy photography is capturing as much light as possible. In order to achieve this, there are a few key settings which you need to pay attention to.

 

Normally you’re advised to use as low an ISO as possible for most types of photography, but for Milky Way photography, upping the ISO is advised for maximum light sensitivity. Don’t be afraid to use values such as ISO 1600 or ISO 3200, perhaps even higher if your camera is capable of producing good images at higher values. Use the highest setting you feel comfortable using, and don’t be afraid to experiment with higher settings than you might otherwise consider using.

 

It’s a similar story when it comes to aperture – use as wide an aperture as your lens will allow. Don’t worry about creating a shallow depth of field, as shooting at wide angles into the night sky almost certainly will still result in a very large depth of field anyway – the aim is to get as much light onto the sensor as possible. Shooting at f/2.8 is a good benchmark, but if your lens can go even wider (such as f/1.4), then even better. You can still get some good images with lenses which can only shoot at f/3.5 or f/4, so don’t be too worried if you don’t have any ultra-fast glass.

 

Make sure you’re shooting in manual mode so that you can take full control of all shooting parameters. As well as a high ISO and wide aperture, you’ll want a relatively long exposure, again so you can let in the maximum amount of light possible. It can be very tempting to dial in the longest speed your camera is capable of – for example 30 or 60 seconds, or use Bulb mode and leave the shutter open for several minutes. However, because the earth is rotating, if you do that, you run the risk of producing “star trails”, where stars appear to be moving across your image.

 

If you don’t want star trails in your image, you’ll need to keep the exposure down to just a few seconds (depending on the length of your lens and the sensor size of the camera). You can experiment with different shutter speeds to see which produces the crispest image, but, again, there are apps which can help you calculate the optimum shutter speed to use for astro photography.

 

Milky Way photography is a good time to use Live View. Avoid using autofocus, as many camera systems may struggle to lock onto such a distant subject. Switch manual focusing on and zoom the view on your camera’s LCD screen until you have a single star as large as possible in view. Adjust the lens focus until the star is sharp, and then you’ll be ready to take your shot.

 

Best composition for Milky Way photography

 

Experiment with different compositions, but a good trick to get started with is to include some foreground interest – allowing the Milky Way to sparkle in the background.

 

You might be a little limited when it comes to foreground subjects in remote areas, but trees and isolated rocks make for good natural subjects. Man-made objects such as cars or perhaps an abandoned shack or habitat can also be interesting, depending on the object.

 

Otherwise, shooting straight at the milky way can also yield some interesting compositions, as star constellations make interesting patterns in themselves – give a few different ideas a go and see which you like the best.

 

Will you be heading off into the wilderness to give Milky Way photography a go? We’d love to see your results – share your shots on our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages!

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car_photography

Useful advice for taking shots of your four-wheeled friend

 

Car photography is often viewed as one of the most thrilling and exciting genres to shoot. Although you may not necessarily have access to supercars worth more than your house, you can still have fun experimenting with this subject – even if it’s just taking pics of your family car. Here we offer some advice on how to get started with creative car photography.

 

Car photography tips: before you start

 

If you like, you can head straight outside and start photographing your family car. However, if your car’s just sat on the driveway, it’s unlikely to yield particularly exciting or different results. Instead, spend some time scouting for car photography locations that are going to work well.

 

Think about factors like: where would be a good backdrop, what location makes sense for the car (if you have a standard car, plonking it in the middle of a field makes less sense than if you have an off-road vehicle) and most importantly, where can you safely park and photograph the car.

 

Sometimes car parks can make for gritty or urban backdrops, but it’s important that you get permission from the land owner if you intend to start photographing on location – a simple call should do the trick.

 

If you’d like to photograph a subject that’s a little more exotic, you have a couple of options. You could consider renting a vehicle, but again it’s worth double-checking with the owner that it’s fine to photograph it. Alternatively, there are lots of car shows which you can attend – you won’t be able to move the car to a location of your choice, but it’s great for close-up and detail shots.

 

Track days can also be a good place to practise your car photography – a Google search of your local area should reveal your nearest locations. Once again, check with the owner that photography is permitted, and if there are any restrictions (such as the use of tripods).

 

Best camera for car photography

 

You can get started with almost any camera when you’re photographing cars, but for the best results pick something which allows you to change the lenses – whether that’s a DSLR or compact system camera.

 

There are benefits to each type of system, so try to go for the one which best suits your needs. If you intend to photograph moving cars, a camera which offers a fast frame rate can be a good idea.

 

For full-frame, the Sony A9 mirrorless model is perfect for fast-moving subjects as it can shoot at a remarkable 20fps including AF/AE tracking. You can keep shooting for up to 362 shots per burst, ensuring you never miss a moment.

 

Other compact system cameras that you might want to consider include the Fuji X-T2, which can shoot at up to 14fps, or the Panasonic GH5, with which you can utilise 4K or 6K photo to record at up to 60fps and extract stills.

 

Alternatively, if you prefer a DSLR, the Nikon D500 offers 10fps shooting, which should still give you excellent flexibility to capture the moment. If you prefer Canon, the 7D Mark II is a good all-rounder which also offers 10fps shooting.

 

In terms of lenses, there are a variety which work well for car photography. A wide-angle lens allows you to showcase the whole vehicle in its surroundings – something which offers 24-28mm is a good place to start. For APS-C sensor cameras, that equates to between 16 and 18mm, while for Four Thirds sensors, look for 12mm lenses.

 

As well as a wide-angle, a prime lens (especially if it has Macro functionality) is a good idea for picking out details – whether that’s a car badge, or dials and buttons on the interior. An extreme wide-angle lens will give you an unusual look, which can work well for some cars. A telephoto lens can be handy when photographing from a distance, such as during a track day or event.

 

Other equipment you should consider include a tripod, which can come in useful for a variety of reasons. Look for a light and portable model, as you might find you’re moving around a lot. The Vanguard VEO 235AB Aluminium Travel Tripod with Ball Head is ideal.

 

A monopod, such as the Manfrotto Compact Extreme Monopod, is also great when you’re attempting to take panning photos. A reflector is useful for directing light onto small details, especially on a bright day. A 5-in-1 reflector such as the Lastolite 75cm Bottletop includes a diffuser, which can be used to weaken the effect of problematic bright sunshine.

 

Best weather and timings for car photography

Although you may be tempted to photograph cars in bright sunshine, bear in mind that highly reflective surfaces can be problematic to photograph. It’s less of an issue with cars that have a matte surface, or if you can position the car so it blocks out any direct sunlight – but it’s still something to consider.

 

An overcast day can be the perfect conditions to photograph cars, as the bright sky will act as a giant softbox without the harsh light and shadows caused by the sun. Ideally it won’t be raining, but dramatic clouds can add impact to the background – and raindrops on a car’s surface or windscreen and windows can be used to create an interesting look too.

 

Just as with many other genres of photography, shooting at the golden hour (the hour or so just before sunset) can yield terrific results. You get a golden glow, while the sun is low enough in the sky to avoid casting harsh shadows.

 

Best camera settings for car photography

 

The camera settings you will use for automotive photography depend very much on the kind of car photographs you want to take.

 

If for example, you want to photograph your car in a static position against an interesting background, you’ll want to keep the ISO as low as possible, use a relatively narrow aperture (f/8-f11) and a quick shutter speed. Shooting in aperture priority is a good idea for this kind of shot so you can concentrate on controlling depth of field. Mounting the camera on a tripod is a good idea to remove any issues with blur from hand-holding.

 

You may find you also want to photograph some fine details of your car. For this, shooting with a wide aperture (for example f/2.8) will isolate the subject nicely from the background. If you can keep the ISO low that’s advised, but if you’re photographing a car’s interior, a tripod is less practical so don’t be afraid to up the ISO a little to make sure you still get sharp shots.

 

Car photography is the perfect excuse to give panning a go. This shows the car in-motion, and takes some practice to get right – but once you do, you’ll have dynamic action shots which show the car at its most natural. Track days and events are good for this type of photography, where you can stand from a safe distance to photograph the car.

 

In a nutshell, panning involves locking focus and following the movement of the car, resulting in a sharp car and a blurred background which conveys a sense of speed. For this, you’ll need to use a relatively slow shutter speed – start with something like 1/30, experimenting with even slower speeds as you start to feel more comfortable with the technique. As the car comes into the frame, press the shutter release button and move the camera across the frame with the car. It can help to pre-focus on an area which you know the car is going to arrive in, and switch to manual focus to stop your lens from trying to autofocus and missing the moment.

 

Best composition for car photography

 

It pays to experiment when it comes to car photography, and there’s no set right or wrong answer. However, there are some classic composition ideas when it comes to photographing cars which will show off your subject in its best light.

 

Placing the car according to the rule of thirds generally results in a pleasing image. Imagine your frame is split three ways horizontally, and three ways vertically. Compose so that the car is found where the lines meet for best results. Once you’ve given this a go, rip up the rule book and go off-piste – place the car in the middle of the frame and forget about the rules altogether.

 

Shooting from a very low point of view can result in a dramatic look, which is particularly suitable for powerful or particularly large cars. If you have a camera which has an articulating or tilting screen, use it to compose from as low to the ground as possible.

 

Try to get a selection of different angles and crops to make up a portfolio, gallery or montage of shots of your car. Don’t forget to capture both the interior and the exterior – especially for classic cars with vintage or antique points of interest. Lastly, always be mindful of what’s going on in the background of your shot  – a tree which appears to be sticking out from the boot (for example), can ruin an otherwise great image.

 

Will you be giving car photography a go soon? Share your shots via our Instagram, Twitter or Facebook channels.

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audio3

In Part 2 of our audio guide, we covered the settings and switches for getting our RODE VideoMic and camera working well together. In this final chapter we explore some acoustics principles that affect our ability to get good audio, how to go one step further for even better results, and what solutions are there when our VideoMics are beyond ideal distances for capturing audio.

So what are the limitations of a VideoMic?

Well the golden rule here is that the closer you have your microphone to the subject matter, the better it will sound.

When you’re up close to a sound source, be it speaking person or music performance, you’re predominantly hearing the dry direct sound straight from the source, unaffected by the room itself. This is exactly what we’re hoping to capture for the best possible results. But as you move further away from your subject, you begin to hear extra sound – reflections, very short echoes as the sound source reverberates off of surfaces in the room, creating an echo. This adds up to create the sound of a room itself – the ‘echoey’, ‘roomy’ sound you will have heard when you shout into a big empty space. Every room (except an anechoic chamber!) has an acoustic signature like this, and if you clap your hands right now, you’ll hear a little (or big) ‘tail’ of echo unique to the space you’re in. We have to be mindful of this, as some spaces are better than others. And if you can hear the echo, a sensitive mic will too.

You might say that surely a VideoMic is designed to combat this, and yes that’s true – and they do, they make an enormous difference as the built-in camera mic has no selectivity. But the trick is for the best audio with the least ‘influence of the room’, you do still need to get the mic as close as you can.

Think of every picture of a professional film set you have ever seen – where is the microphone? Is it on the camera? No, it’s on a boompole, hanging just above the actors heads – no more than five or six feet from of their mouths. And these are microphones that cost thousands of pounds, potentially! For ‘Run and gun’ style shooting, solo, we can still get great results with our VideoMic on top of our camera, but for the best results – don’t assume that where the camera is, is the best place to capture audio from.  Especially given crop-sensor cameras require us to get further from our subject matter to fit them in frame!

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The great thing is that all VideoMic models (mono or stereo) feature a ⅜” thread on the bottom so they can go straight onto RØDE boompoles, and the inbuilt shock-mount means you don’t need to buy an additional cradle to defeat handling noise.

So if you have any mono VideoMic, we recommend having both a Micro Boompole (a 2 metre telescoping boompole) and a VC-1 (3 metre 3.5mm jack) extension cable on hand as an essential, highly affordable solution for ‘upgrading’ your results enormously. This will let you ‘boom’ your mic – put the camera on a tripod if you’re shooting solo – and give you the fullest, most detailed sound, with the least influence of the environment you’re shooting in.

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There is an additional two-fold benefit as well. You can turn your camera input down further – so if you’re still experiencing hiss with VideoMics that don’t feature the +20dB boost, this will alleviate that, and you’re minimising ambient hubbub by making the subject relatively louder than the street noise, traffic, and so forth.  And you look like a pro doing it!

 

But what if we can’t use a boompole, what if we’re filming a lecture, or a wedding, and we can only put our cameras at the back of the room – forty feet away? In this instance, the VideoMic is still better than the in-built sound. But that is a long way away. No professional would exclusively use a shotgun mic in that situation – this is what Lavalier mics were invented for.

 

These are tie-clip mics as you will have seen news reporters wearing, and the beauty of them is they are fixed to the speaking subject – always nice and close, no matter how far away the camera is.

 

RØDE have a rather magic solution here in the SmartLav+, a tie clip mic you can plug directly into an iPhone and many Android phones. You record with a free app (Reporter on iOS is recommended) with the phone recording in the subjects pocket, and you export your audio file afterwards and line it up with the video.  To make it even more useful you can also grab a bunch of handy cables such as RØDE SC3, which lets you plug the SmartLav+ directly into a DSLR! Or the SC1 (6 metre extension cable) and SC6…so you can plug two SmartLav+’s into a phone, and a pair of headphones for monitoring!

 

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The step-up here would be the Filmmaker Kit, Rode’s digital wireless system which gives you a broadcast Lavalier mic, beamed wirelessly straight to your camera (no after-sync required!), and it includes the +20dB boost too.

 

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We hope that helps demystify the process for you! It’s completely possible to get professional audio into your camera. And while it’s important to have the right mic for the right job, it’s equally important to learn your tools, be mindful of the environment, and to experiment – so you get it right first time.

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family

Great ideas to help with your family photography

As a photographer, one of the most obvious subjects to point your camera at is your own family. After all, being on hand to document family life is one of the key reasons why people buy cameras in the first place. You may also find you’re asked to take pictures for friends and extended family.

 

Taking charge of family portrait photography can be a bit of a tricky challenge. It’s more complicated than standard portraiture, and co-ordinating groups of people can always be problematic. With a bit of preparation and planning, along with some handy tips, you can create beautiful family portraits which will be cherished for many years to come.

 

Family portrait photography: preparations

 

Sometimes a family photo opportunity just occurs naturally, but there will be other times when you set out with the intention of pulling together a proper shoot. On those occasions, making some basic preparations can pay dividends.

 

Have a think about your family’s outfits – you don’t have to go completely overboard with a matchy-matchy theme, but an attempt to co-ordinate can give your photos a polished look.

 

You should also consider where you want to do the shoot. A natural environment, such as your own home, is great for capturing documentary style shots of a family going about their normal business. Meanwhile, shooting outdoors gives you more space if you are photographing a large group of people. Try to think about a location which gives you different options – especially when it comes to backgrounds – which will give your shoot variety. Maybe plan to take a walk with your subjects after capturing them around the house?

 

The time of day that you do your shoot is also important, as is the weather. A bright sunny day is great for a family picnic, but can be a potential washout for your photos. Avoid the middle of the day when the sun is at its highest or harshest – you want to avoid shadows across faces, as well as closed eyes from people squinting in the sun.

 

If you can shoot at sunset, where the light is low and golden, you can create some beautiful effects. Don’t give up hope if it’s an overcast day, as the softer light is much more flattering – but you’ll need to have a background that doesn’t include too much sky.

 

Best kit for family portrait photography

 

You can use pretty much any camera for family portrait photography, but having a mirrorless or DSLR which allows you to change lenses is ideal for creating different looks and styles.

 

There is a lot of choice on the market, ranging from models which are aimed pretty squarely at beginners, such as the Canon EOS 1300D and the Nikon D5600, all the way up to professional level cameras such as the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, or the Nikon D810. And that’s just in the DSLR market: there’s lots of great models in the compact system camera market too, such as the Panasonic GX8, the Olympus PEN F or the Fujifilm X-T20.

 

When it comes to lens choice, there are a few different options you might want to consider if you have a family portrait session in mind. A wide angle lens is a must if you’re attempting group shots. You should be trying to get an equivalent of 24mm or so, as anything wider than that is likely to result in a distorted look. If you’re shooting with an APS-C camera, look for lenses no wider than 16mm, or 12mm if you’re shooting Micro Four Thirds.

 

You should also consider prime lenses, such as a 50mm or 85mm, if you’re going to take any individual portraits. These lenses can offer a maximum wide aperture and produce the most flattering effects for portrait shots. You might also want to consider a 35mm lens for “environmental” type shots, or to take photos with 2-3 people in them.

 

Using a tripod is ideal for group shots because you can fully interact with your subjects. It’s also a necessary item if you intend to be in the shots yourself! You probably don’t need to worry about it being super light and portable for this kind of photography, instead try and look for one which extends to a good height. This 3 Legged Thing Punks Corey Tripod with Airhed Neo is a good example of a useful tripod.

 

If you’re going to be in the photograph, a remote release is a good idea. With this, you can remotely control the camera from a distance – firing off the shutter release without having to rely on everybody getting in place by the time a timer has elapsed. Remote releases can either be wired or wireless – a wireless one is more expensive, but gives you much more flexibility. The Hahnel Captur Remote Control and Flash Trigger is compatible with a wide range of camera models.

 

Many cameras now offer built-in Wifi or NFC connectivity with smartphones, which you can then use as remote screens to preview the shot before taking it – ideal for group portraits where you want to be involved in the shot as well.

 

Other useful pieces of equipment include a flash gun, which you can use to add fill-in flash, or get creative with lighting. A reflector is also a good idea for angling light – but it’s best for individual portraits rather than group ones.

 

Best camera settings for family portrait photography

 

Which camera settings you need to use for family photos depends, as always, on the situation.

 

If you’re shooting outdoors, you can keep your ISO low for the best detail possible. Try to use a fast shutter speed so that you freeze the movement of anybody in the shot, and avoid unwanted blur.

 

The aperture you use depends on whether you’re photographing individuals or attempting a group shot. For individuals, a wide aperture of f/2.8 or even wider is ideal, while for group shots, you’ll probably want to use something narrower to make sure everybody is sharp. Apertures between f/5.6-f/8 should yield good results, while still blurring the background somewhat.

 

It can be a good idea to use a fast frame rate – how fast you can shoot will depend on the camera. Set the camera to continuous shooting and fire off a few frames when taking group portraits – that way you should have a few different options to choose from, especially useful if someone blinks or pulls a strange expression in one of the frames.

 

If you’re shooting indoors, the light isn’t likely to be quite so good. That will usually result in you having to shoot at a higher ISO. Don’t be afraid to use speeds such as ISO 1600 or ISO 3200 if it means getting the shot – something with a little bit of image noise is better than a completely blurred shot.

 

Set your camera up to back button focus – that is, using a button on the rear of the camera to autofocus, rather than the shutter release. This makes taking a picture into a two-step process which locks in the autofocus, making it quicker to shoot each time.

 

Before you take a shot, take a couple of seconds to scan the frame for anybody with eyes closed, looking the wrong way or grimacing. That couple of seconds can save you a lot of time in the post-production stage.

 

Family portrait ideas: best poses

 

Unquestionably, what will make or break your photo is how the subjects pose. Getting group portraits right takes time and practice to know what works in a photo (and perhaps more importantly, what doesn’t!).

 

You’ll probably find that you get the best results with young children by letting them simply get on with whatever it is they want to do. Having props or their favourite toys on hand for them to interact or play with can yield some really beautiful results.

 

Avoid standing groups in a straight row, as nothing says “awkward” more than a forced line-up pose – you wouldn’t really stand like that in real life, so it looks strange in a photo.

 

Instead, try staggering the people in the group, so there’s different heights and shoulders facing towards each other. Experiment with different groupings until you get an arrangement that works well. You could also try having some of the group standing up, while some of them sit down – this is especially welcome if you have older people in your family.

 

Ask people to stand closer to each other than they might ordinarily. It’s not that natural to stand super close to somebody – but that closeness tends to translate into a happy and loving picture, while gaps can increase the awkwardness.

 

Don’t be afraid to try fun or quirky poses such as jumping, or pulling strange faces – perhaps you have some kind of in-joke in your family that you can incorporate. Don’t be too disappointed though if these shots look a little cheesy – at worst, they’ll be something you can laugh at in years to come and will surely loosen up the group for the more natural poses.

 

As the photographer, it’s your job to get the best from your subjects. Get ready to throw in a few jokes – even if they are classic “Dad” jokes – you want your subjects to have fun, laugh and look as if they are enjoying the shoot.

 

Do you take family portraits? Share your best shots with us via our social media channels on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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Tamron Lenses

Posted - 26 June, 2017
tamron

Lenses

Having the right lens for the occasion can make the biggest difference to your photography and although some will suggest specific fixed focal length lenses lens as being “ideal” for a given scene, this is not how the majority of us live our lives.

Having flexibility as an enthusiast or even a professional photographer can change the images you take as they give you the added option to react to situations and occasions in a different way, creating opportunities to take great images that with fixed lenses would not be possible.

Whether your passion is the city, long country walks, birds or planes we have some great zoom options to help you catch those great scenes and moments.

Superzoom Lenses

One of the most popular types of lens are superzooms, ie lenses such as Tamron’s 16-300mm lens that cover the focal length ranges of several combined alternative lenses.  This is a great way of giving you a multitude of Photographic options from 16mm wide angle right the way through standard and on to telephoto at 300mm.  The advantage you get is not only the variety and flexibility of such a large zoom range making lens changes largely unnecessary, but also that it is a lightweight solution making it easy to travel with.  This is achieved by using some clever optics and mechanical design to achieve a lens that at its wide end is still less than 10cm long. In this series of lens there are also several options to fit your budget with Tamron’s most recent 18-200 VC lens now offering an image stabilized superzoom option for under £200 (at SRP).

Tamron 16-300mm VC – Street Photography 1/640s F13

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Tamron 16-300mm VC at 16mm

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Tamron 18-270mm PZD at 270mm 1/400s F7.6

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Ultra Telephoto Zoom’s

If your passion is nature, birds or Aircraft for instance, you can change the type of images you take by adding a zoom lens that gives you flexibility with huge reach from 150mm to 600mm.  At 600mm the effective focal length on the most common entry level and mid range APS-C (crop) sensor cameras is about 900mm giving you the ability to take amazing images with remarkable detail.

Tamron have two lenses in this field, both of which have 150-600mm focal lengths but appeal to different budgets with the latest lens having enhanced weather resistance, optics, focus and stabilization as well as a zoom lock for breathtaking performance, but still weighing in at just 2kg.

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Extremely Wide

Of course there are occasions where a standard zoom lens simply isn’t enough to fit everything in. If you find yourself drawn to long walks and landscape photography or maybe if you prefer “city life” or interiors, then an ultra-wide lens is a great solution.  Tamron have two lenses, one for Full frame users, the 15-30mm VC which has stabilization built in and has a very fast F2.8 aperture giving great depth of field control or low light options.  If you however have a Crop sensor camera then there is a new stabilised option from Tamron in the 10-24mm VC HLD which like the 15-30 also boasts a Moisture Resistant design and has Tamron’s most advanced Fluorine coatings on the front element just in case you don’t get the weather you may have planned for!

Both lenses are designed to give superior sharpness and performance with the latest DSLR cameras.

Polperro by day 15-30mm VC at 15mm 1/400s F10

 

tam6

 

 

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wildlife

Get started with nature photography with these simple tips

 

Wildlife photography is a hugely popular genre, with hundreds of beautiful and varied different subjects to choose from. The good news is that you don’t necessarily have to go far to find some local wildlife to capture on camera – giving you the opportunity to hone your technique regularly, and hopefully produce some stunning animal photography shots.

 

There are a few key things to think about when it comes to photographing animals, especially wild ones. You’ll need to research your locations, take the appropriate gear with you and think carefully about your camera settings. In this post we’re going to take a look at some of the information you need to know if you’re thinking of getting started with wildlife pictures.

Wildlife photography: getting started

 

Wildlife photography is one of those genres where it really pays to do your homework before setting out on a shoot to avoid disappointment.

 

First of all, you might want to think about the type of wildlife you’d like to shoot. You may be lucky enough to have birds, insects and other wildlife in your very own back garden, but if you don’t, you shouldn’t have to look too far to find something to photograph. If you want something a little more unusual, national parks can be a great place to start your nature photography – take a look at official websites to find out what’s available. Of course, you may also want to venture further afield, on a destination or overseas trip to capture a specific type of wildlife – again, it pays to take a look at what’s available and plan ahead.

 

Next you should spend some time researching your chosen animal’s behaviour. There’s no good turning up to a renowned wildlife hotspot only to find that all the animals are asleep, or have migrated due to the seasons. A quick look online to determine the typical patterns of your intended subject can pay dividends.
When you get to your location, remember to be patient. Wildlife photography is almost never a case of turning up, taking your photo, and going home. Be prepared to wait for animals to show up, behave how you want, and to get the shot. Always be mindful of your and the subject’s safety too – never take risks that could endanger yourself, or the animal, just to get a photo.

 

Best weather for wildlife photography

 

Although you will be restricted in some ways by how animals behave when faced with different weather conditions, there are some other aspects of the weather to consider when tackling wildlife photography.

 

If you can, seek to shoot at the golden hour. You may have heard a lot about this special time for photography – it generally refers to the hour or so around sunrise or sunset, when the sun is low in the sky and creates a golden glow. For wildlife photography, this can be especially beautiful, and it can also be the time when some animals are most active.

 

Try to avoid shooting at midday, when the sun is at its strongest. The harsh shadows caused by bright sunlight are not usually conducive to great animal shots. If the weather is cloudy however, you have a little more flexibility – an overcast sky acts a bit like a huge softbox, with flattering and even light which can work extremely well.

 

When planning your shoot, you should also take into consideration the weather forecast – some animals hate the rain, but others love it, so try to find out both what the weather is scheduled to do, and how your subject is likely to react.

 

Best kit for wildlife photography

 

As with most photography subjects, you can start out with a relatively basic kit bag, adding more as you get more deeply involved.

 

In terms of which camera is best, there are several options. For DSLRs, the standard advice is often that full-frame gives you the best image quality. However, when it comes to wildlife photography, the “crop factor” associated with a smaller, APS-C sized, sensor, can be beneficial in helping you get closer to the subject.

 

Being able to shoot at a fast frame rate is also useful. The Nikon D500 is an excellent choice, with its 10fps shooting speed and APS-C sensor. If you were to use a 100mm lens with a Nikon D500, you’d actually be shooting at 150mm, whereas a 300mm lens converts to a 450mm – handy if you need to get as close as possible to your subject without getting too close in person.

 

For compact system cameras, you also have a lot of great choices currently on the market. Olympus and Panasonic cameras use a Four Thirds Sensor, which has a 2x crop factor – in which case, a 300mm lens becomes a 600mm equivalent, which is even better for getting close to the action. Both Panasonic and Olympus have impressive shooting modes which allow you to shoot at super fast frame rates, and then choose the best frame from a range of stills. The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II is a fantastic option, with its superb optical image stabilisation system also being handy for this type of photography.

 

If you don’t want a camera with interchangeable lenses, there’s a good range of bridge and superzoom compact cameras which you can use to great effect for wildlife photography. As an example, the Sony RX10 III has a 25x optical zoom, giving you an equivalent of 600mm to work with.

 

In terms of lenses, something which offers a long focal length is a good idea for helping you get as close to the subject as possible. The Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G lens is a flexible and affordable choice. Lenses such as the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM C will get you even closer to the action. Similar lenses are available for Canon, including the Canon EF 70-300mm f4-5.6 IS USM.

 

For Micro Four Thirds, there are options including Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 75-300mm f/4.8-6.7 IS lens. Other lenses for other mounts, are also available – look for a long focal length wherever possible.

 

There are other lenses you may also want to consider taking with you. A wide angle lens can help you to show context and an animal’s natural environment, while a macro lens is ideal for photographing insects and other small wildlife.

 

If you’re using very long lenses, a tripod is essential to help you get sharp shots. Something which is stable, but also easy to carry around makes sense for wildlife photography, as you may find you have to walk long distances to get to your subject. The Manfrotto BeFree Compact Travel Tripod is a good example of a tripod which is light enough to easily transport.

 

Other pieces of kit which can come in handy for wildlife photography include remote releases, binoculars, camouflage gear and lens filters.

Best camera settings for wildlife photography

 

As always, don’t be afraid to experiment with different camera settings, but there are some starting points you can use to get you off on the right foot.

 

Use a fast shutter speed in order to freeze an animal’s movement and to prevent blur. To allow for fast shutter speeds, increase ISO from low or base levels, using mid-ranges such as ISO 400-800, depending on the lighting conditions.

 

Your aperture is likely to depend on the subject. A wider aperture is great for isolating subjects from the background, but a narrower aperture is ideal for context and environmental shots. Bear in mind that even reasonably narrow apertures, such as f/8, will result in a shallow depth of field effect if you’re shooting with very long lenses.

 

It makes sense to shoot in Raw format if your camera offers it, giving you the opportunity to adjust and tweak key parameters in post production if necessary. For white balance, adjust to match the situation, such as Daylight or Cloudy – but by shooting in Raw format, you can adjust afterwards if the camera hasn’t got it quite right. Choose a fast drive mode, along with continuous autofocus if you’re tracking a moving subject. Be aware that your memory cards will fill up faster if you’re shooting lots of photos in quick succession – always carry a spare.

Best composition for wildlife photography

 

Once you know some composition rules, you can begin to break them. The same is true for wildlife photos.

 

You can think of some types of wildlife photography in the same kind of terms as portrait photography. That means getting eye contact with your subject is the ideal aim to create striking animal portraits. Use a shallow depth of field to isolate the subject from the background, and always pay careful attention to any distractions appearing in the background that could ruin an otherwise good capture.

 

Classic composition tips, such as the rule of thirds and using leading lines, are also strong ideas for wildlife photography. Some subjects will also work well by being placed in the centre of the frame, while frame-filling close-up shots can be great to give you a more unusual view of the animal you’re photographing. Why not try lots of different compositions and putting all the shots together in a collage or montage?

 

We’d love to see your animal and wildlife photography – please share with us your best shots on our social media channels of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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flower

Tips and tricks to try for macro flower photography

Flowers are one of the most popular subjects that us photographers enjoy pointing our lenses at. This colourful and abundant subject can be hugely diverse, with so much opportunity to take vibrant macro shots often practically on our doorstep. In this post, we’ll take a look at some close up photography ideas to help get you started with this most beautiful of opportunities.

 

Best locations for flower photography

 

One of the best things about macro flower photography is that the subjects are so readily available, no matter where you are, and no matter what time of year it is. Whether it’s wild flowers in an orchard, formal gardens, your local park, your own back garden or a vase of blooms in your living room, there’s lots of opportunity to find suitable subjects to photograph.

 

That said, you may naturally be drawn more towards some flowers than others, so if you have something particularly in mind, it can be beneficial to put some time into research and location scouting. Many flowers are seasonal, with a brief window of opportunity to get some shots – bluebells and blossom are a particularly good example of this.

 

If you’re planning to visit a formal garden, have a look at the garden’s website to discover which species they hold, as well as any photography policy they may have (for example, some places prohibit the use of tripods).

 

Best kit for flower photography

 

You can get started photographing flowers with very basic kit. A compact camera with a macro mode is ideal, but, if you’re serious about close up photography, you might want to consider investing in some additional kit.

 

A DSLR or CSC (compact system camera) is ideal for macro flower photography. There’s a huge choice of different options available, but beginners may want to take a look at something like the Nikon D5600, Canon EOS 1300D for DSLRs, or the Panasonic GX800 or Fuji X-A3 for CSCs.

 

Next, consider your lens choice. A macro lens is the obvious choice for picking out those fine details, but don’t discount other options too. A wide angle lens is great for placing your flower photography in context of its location, such as a meadow or field. If you don’t want to buy a dedicated macro lens, telephoto zoom lenses can also be useful at helping to isolate the flower from its background.

 

Macro lenses are available for all major brands, at a variety of price points. For Canon, the Canon EFS 60mm f/2.8 Macro lens is an ideal choice for APS-C DSLRs, while for Nikon, the Nikon AF-S 40mm Micro f/2.8 DX G lens is recommended. For Fuji users, there’s the Fujifilm XF 60mm f/2.4 R Macro lens, while Panasonic and Olympus users can use the Panasonic 30mm f/2.8 Macro Lens or Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 30mm Macro Lens. Sony also has a macro lens for its E-mount cameras, the Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS lens is available.

 

While a tripod isn’t absolutely crucial for flower photography, it can help to keep your camera steady and leave your hands free to manipulate the scene, or hold props. Look for a tripod which is specifically designed for travel, such as the Vanguard VEO 235AP Aluminium Travel Tripod, since you may have to do a fair bit of walking to get to your preferred flower location.

 

A reflector is invaluable for directing natural light onto flowers, highlighting key areas of the bloom, and removing harsh shadows. You may also want to consider a cable release to remove camera shake, while a macro ring flash is something to consider for a different and unusual effect.

 

Other useful bits of kit include a kneepad or plastic sheet (a bin liner will do) so you can get low on the ground without getting wet or dirty, and some pegs or string to carefully move flowers into the position you want them to be.

 

Best backgrounds for flower photography

 

It’s important to pay attention to the backgrounds you use when photographing flowers. Depending on the lens you decide to use, you may find that you completely isolate the flower from the background, or you may find that you have a more contextual shot. Either way, keep an eye on shapes, colours and objects in the background that could become a distraction from your main subject.

 

A fun way to experiment and to create different looks is to carry a pack of brightly coloured card with you. Place the card behind different flowers to create a type of flower portrait that can have a very striking effect. If you use a colour which contrasts from the colour of the flower, you can create something very vibrant. Alternatively, a colour which matches your flower can leave you with a wonderful monochromatic effect. If you shoot with a tripod and cable release, you can hold the card in place, or, alternatively, use a peg to clip the card gently in place – be careful not to damage any flowers while you’re doing this!

 

If you’re photographing flowers at home, the same principles apply, but here you have more control. Try photographing flowers against a window, which should act as a giant soft box for backlighting your flowers. Similarly, you can attach a piece of card to the window for a different background.

 

Best weather for flower photography

 

You don’t need to wait for a sunny day to photograph flowers, as an overcast sky is actually much better for this subject. The bright white of a sunless sky acts like a huge soft box, with gentle light without harsh shadows that direct sunlight can produce.

 

It’s also good news if it’s been raining – drops of dew on petals and leaves can add a point of interest. You can cheat if it’s a dry day by taking a water spray bottle with you and spritzing flowers for the same effect.

 

Try your best to avoid windy conditions as this is the big enemy of close up flower photography. Any slight movements in your subject can throw your focus off, so in an ideal world, the air would be as still as possible.

 

If the day is forecast to be sunny, you can still create some excellent shots. Try heading out at dawn or dusk to take advantage of the golden hour, where the sun produces warming rays which work well as backlighting for your floral subjects. Shooting through your subject towards the sun (careful when doing this!) can create fabulous contre-jour lighting, where leaves and petals glow with light.

 

Best camera settings for flower photography

 

Another great thing about close up nature photography is just how much you can experiment with different camera settings. Depending on what kind of look you want to achieve, you can try a whole host of different techniques – perhaps even collating them together in a collage or set.

 

If you want to pick out one small detail of your flower, it’s likely that you’ll want to create a shallow depth of field effect. For this, shoot at a wide aperture – most macro lenses open up to f/2.8. If you’re using a telephoto lens, you can get a similar effect even if you can only shoot at f/4.5 or f/5.6.

 

Alternatively, if you want to maintain as much detail as possible in your shot, shooting at a narrow aperture is a better idea. Use a setting such as f/11 to maximise detail. You could also try out a technique called focus stacking, which involves shifting the focus slightly over a series of images and merging them together in software. Some cameras, such as the Panasonic G80, can perform this clever technique in-camera without the need for specialist knowledge or software.

 

When it comes to white balance, try to match the weather conditions with the automatic settings on offer, such as cloudy skies. For ISO, keep it as low as possible for best detail, but, don’t be too concerned about using mid-range ISOs such as ISO 400 – 800 if you’re having trouble getting a sharp shot.

 

Flower photography was made for shooting in Live View, especially if your camera is mounted to a tripod. Use manual focusing, and magnify the view, to ensure pinpoint critical focus.

 

If you’re using a DSLR, switch to Mirror Lock Up Mode and activate the camera’s timer to mitigate for camera shake to keep details sharp. If your camera has it, shoot in raw format – that way you have the most flexibility for editing in software such as Photoshop.

 

Best composition for flower photography

 

There are plenty of rules when it comes to composition, but you can have a lot of fun with experimenting. Flowers are the ideal subject to hone your creativity, since they don’t complain and can’t run away.

 

Try a variety of angles to show the flowers in different contexts. Get on the same level as the flower for a dynamic look, but also try shooting from underneath (a camera with a tilting screen helps enormously here), or even from directly above for a different effect.

 

Isolate one particular part of the flower and place it according to the rule of thirds, but, equally, feel free to break that rule and see whatever works best for you. A neat trick to try is to use another flower to create an abstract blob of colour – by placing it very close to your lens and focusing on a flower further away, the first flower should be thrown out of focus.

 

We’re keen to see your beautiful blooms: share how you get on photographing flowers via our social channels on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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audio part1

“I feel that sound is half the experience.” – George Lucas

“Sound is more important than picture.” Michael Moore

 

Audio part 1: In this three part total-beginner series we’re going to tell you how to get professional audio from your DSLR or mirrorless camera. We’ll explore some of the easiest options available to you, how they work, advise ideal camera settings, and explore how to push your new gear to get even better results.

 

We’re working closely with the team from RODE Microphones and we’ve spoken to many, many people taking their first steps into video, so we know that audio can be a daunting proposition. However, as you’re about to find out, it’s not a hard problem to solve – and it makes the difference between creating professional paid-for work…and ending up with a home movie.

 

The bottom line is you can have a ‘bad’ image (grainy, low light, entry level lenses and sensors) and good sound, and the result is still watchable. But you cannot pair a good picture with bad (distant, tinny, echoey, full of wind-noise) sound – it’s completely unwatchable! So if you do have a great looking image to start with, then capturing good sound will elevate your video project even further.

 

WHAT’S THE ISSUE WITH CAMERA AUDIO?

 

First – let’s better understand the problem. We all know how amazing our cameras are as imaging devices. What was once only a stills camera is now an incredible video camera, with access to beautiful lenses and shallow depth of field, giving cinematic results that videographers couldn’t dream of achieving on a modest budget even just a few years ago.

 

The problem becomes apparent when you start to watch your footage back. It might look, feel and move like a movie – but it doesn’t SOUND like a movie. Specifically:

 

  • People sound thin and distant, and you can barely hear them over the hubbub of chatter, street noise and other ambience going on. In bigger rooms, it sounds like you’re in a swimming pool. The video ‘feels’ cheap: you want speech to sound full, clear, close and intelligible.
  • You may not have stereo audio at all, so we don’t get any sense of the ‘3D space’- for example if you filmed a passing car, you’d want to hear it travel left to right.
  • You’re filming gigs or other loud concerts, and the music sounds distorted rather than clear – even given the loud volume.
  • The minute you step outside, your audio is ruined by buffeting wind noise. You want to be free to record sound that isn’t affected by even just a casual breeze.

 

So how do we do it?

 

The simple fact is that in order to capture decent audio, you do need a dedicated microphone. We’re going to explore your options by talking through different microphones and referring to Rode’s range of VideoMics, which will all help to address the issues above.

Each mic features a 3.5mm audio jack output, compatible with 3.5mm jack ‘microphone’ inputs on cameras (if your camera has 2.5mm jack inputs, then you can just grab a third-party adapter), and cold-shoe mounts so you can screw them into your flash mount. All of them will help to improve your camera audio enormously.

 

how

 

 

MONO VS. STEREO

 

The first subject we’ll be tackling is: do you need a stereo or a mono ‘shotgun’ mic? Well, the type of microphone you choose depends on what you want to film.

 

Do you predominantly want to capture speech such as interviews, or people who are presenting straight to camera? If this is the case, you should use a mono ‘shotgun’ style mic, as the long barrel of shotgun mics makes them more selective – what you point them at, you’ll hear in the final footage, with ambient sound minimised.

 

When you’re trying to capture speech, you really do just want to zone in and record the speech as cleanly as you can. Ambience can always be added/faked later, whereas speech is much, much harder to ‘fix’ – if it can be fixed at all. Most ‘mono’ mics do output a stereo signal as well – but it’s just the same signal on both the left and right channels equally.

 

Rode’s range includes the VideoMicro (compact – great for action cameras), VideoMic GO (a great entry choice for DSLRs), VideoMic (a good, directional midrange choice for DSLR) or the VideoMic Pro (gives the best results on all DSLRs – more on why in Part 2!).

 

The alternative is to get a stereo microphone, such as the Rode Stereo VideoMic Pro, which gives you two-channel ambience – a proper, independent ‘left and right’ and a real three-dimensional sense of space.

 

You don’t get the selectivity of a mono microphone, but stereo mics really suit music performance, ambience and nature recordings. That’s why we’d suggest you use a mono shotgun microphone for speech/interviews, and a stereo microphone for everything else.

All of these mics have compatible furry windshields, which protect the microphones from wind noise shooting outside. If you do intend to leave the house with your microphone, ensure you grab the compatible windshield so your audio’s protected.

two

So now you’ve connected a mono or stereo microphone to your camera, added your wind protection, and you’re ready to shoot.

But how do we set it up? What settings do you need on your camera for the best results? What do the switches on the mics actually do? Stay tuned, and join us for part 2…

 

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blacknwhite

Get your head around marvellous monochrome with this introduction to taking fantastic black and white photography

Black and white photography is all about paying particular attention to lines, curves, contrast and form. It’s an intriguing genre of photography that has appealed to many photographers throughout the ages. It’s often seen as more artistic than colour photography, and it’s certainly a different way to look at the world.

 

There’s more to monochrome photography than desaturating the colours, but it can also be a simple subject to get started with. If you’ve always fancied giving it a go, but aren’t sure where to begin, have a look at our simple tips to get you started.

 

Best subjects for black and white photography

 

A variety of different subjects work extremely well for monochrome photography, but some are arguably better than others.

 

Landscapes, portraits and street or documentary photography are classic choices for black and white pictures, but still-life and abstract can all work well too.

 

If you’re going to shoot landscapes, look for classic leading lines and shapes that give your shots a bold and minimalist look. Portraits work well because the lack of colour allows the subject’s character to shine through, which is one reason why monochrome is preferred by actors for headshots. Street photography can work well in both colour and monochrome, but perhaps a feeling of nostalgia for the “golden age” of street photography leads to a tendency to shoot in black and white.

 

For still-life work, look for patterns and textures that will be emphasised by a removal of colour. Shooting in black and white in the first place will help you to see if anything really doesn’t work well without colour – for example, red flowers on a green background can often be rendered as very similar shades of grey. In which case, bold textures and patterns will help your subject stand out – pay careful attention to composition in such cases.

 

Abstract black and white photography is an art form all by itself. Again, look for patterns that are bold and work well – try using a telephoto lens when shooting landscapes and architecture to pick out details that make for interesting studies in isolation from the main scene.

 

How to set up your camera for black & white photography

 

Most modern digital cameras give you the option to shoot black and white directly in-camera. This can be an excellent way to help you learn to “see” in black and white, as it’ll give you a great indication of how your final image will turn up.

 

There are usually two ways to shoot in black and white directly in camera. Some cameras, such as Nikon DSLRs, Canon DSLRs or Panasonic compact system cameras have a setting called “Picture Styles”, or “Creative Styles”. One of these is usually a variation of monochrome or black and white. Simply select one of these to shoot in, and away you go.

 

Alternatively, digital filters may also be available. These can often be available in JPEG only and are more dramatic or stylised than styles tend to be, but are definitely worth experimenting with.

 

Where possible, you should shoot in raw format. This means that you will have the colour version of the image to work with in post-production and create your own black and white conversions if you’re not happy with how the JPEG has been rendered.

 

If you use a camera which has an electronic viewfinder, such as mirrorless cameras like the Fujifilm X-T2 or the Panasonic GX80, you’ll be able to see how your black and white photos are rendered as you shoot them. If you’re using a DSLR, you won’t see black and white through the viewfinder – but, depending on the subject you’re photographing, you could try shooting in Live View to get a real-time monochrome view. Don’t forget to switch black and white off once you’re done, unless you want all of your photos to be monochrome.

 

Best camera settings for black and white photography

 

Sometimes, black and white pictures can look a little flat. Upping contrast can have a huge impact and really lift an otherwise dull photograph, no matter what the subject. You can do this easily in photo editing software such as Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom, but you can also make certain adjustments in-camera for JPEGs.

 

Every camera will be different, but it’s usually possible to alter contrast in Creative Styles, Picture Styles, or whatever it is called in your camera. As an example, if you’re using a Canon EOS 6D, head to the main menu and search for Picture Style. Choose the Monochrome setting, and then tap “info” to dial in some extra contrast from the options available.

 

You should also pay some consideration to sensitivity (ISO speed). Black and white photographs of old are often characterised by a rough “grain” as a result of image noise. Some people love that look, while others prefer a much smoother and crisper appearance. There’s no right or wrong answer about which is better, but, if you want to go for the cleaner look, keep your ISO as low as possible, but if you want to introduce grain, don’t be afraid to whack the ISO number up higher. Whichever you prefer, remember that a little noise is always preferable to a blurry shot – so if you’re shooting in darker conditions, don’t get too picky about shooting at the lowest ISOs.

 

Best weather for black and white photography

 

Everything you think you know about the best weather for landscape and outdoor photography when you’re trying to create a successful black and white photo can be turned on its head.

 

Converting to black and white can turn an otherwise dull weather shot into something far more interesting, so don’t write off packing up the camera and heading outdoors if glorious sunshine isn’t forecast. In fact, an abundance of clouds and moody skies can look seriously dramatic when colour is removed from the equation – remember to boost contrast for best effect.

 

Similarly, while you’re usually advised to avoid shooting in the middle of the day because of harsh lighting and shadows, these conditions can result in extremely interesting black and white shots. Meanwhile, shooting at dawn or dusk can look a little flat and dull in monochrome.

 

Accessories for black and white photography

 

Although you can get started with pretty much whatever gear you already own, there are some accessories which can help you get even better results.

 

Many cameras will allow you to adjust black and white mode to include a digital filter. You can use different colours depending on the look you’re trying to achieve – for example, a red filter will boost the appearance of skies in landscapes. You can also buy physical filters, such as the Cokin Black & White Kit, which also achieve this result without the need for digital intervention.

 

An ND filter can also come in extremely useful if you want to create some long exposures in black and white. The Cokin X-Pro Nuances ND1024 10-Stop Filter enables extremely long exposures without risking over exposure – you could try creating some dreamy milky water monochrome images.

 

Don’t forget, you’ll need a tripod if you want to create long exposure shots. For landscapes, a dedicated travel tripod, such as the Manfrotto Befree Carbon Fibre Travel Tripod with Ball Head, is a good idea for keeping weight and size down, while also providing great stability.

 

If you’re shooting monochrome portraits, a reflector can come in handy for manipulating light and shadows for best effect. Look for one which offers a variety of different surfaces, and ideally includes a diffuser to help soften light if necessary. The Lastolite Bottletop 5 in 1 Reflector is a great example of a reflector you can use for many different purposes.

 

High Key and Low Key Monochrome Photography

 

If you’ve not come across high key photography or low key photography before, experimenting with black and white is the ideal time to give it a go.

 

A high key photograph consists mainly of bright highlight areas, and is perfect for minimalist subjects. You can either search for naturally occurring bright subjects – such as a white flower on a white or bright background, or you can deliberately overexpose for dramatic effect. Portraits work well in high key, too.

 

By contrast, low key photography is, as you might expect, the complete opposite. These photographs are characterised by large areas of dark or black areas, with minimalism again being the key to a successful image. You can get some great results shooting low key portraits, but the technique is also ideal for still life shots lit by a simple single light set up. 

 

Do you like to shoot black and white photos? Let us know how you get on with our tips and tricks by sharing your monochrome shots on our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages.

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bank_holiday

A break from work is the perfect excuse to dust off your camera and have a go at some bank holiday photography projects

 

Bank holiday photography projects are a great way to have some fun and develop your photography skills. No matter what the weather, you can take part in some of these ideas for photography projects.

Water drop photography

 

A simple home set-up can yield some super interesting results. You don’t need too much kit to get you started, but you can add more if you find that you like the technique. The great thing about this idea is that you’re not reliant on the weather, as it’s 100% indoors.

 

Take a look at our blogpost on experimenting with water drop photography for more in-depth advice on this project.

 

Family portraits

 

There’s no better time than an enforced break to get the family together for some new portraits. That’s especially true if the ones on your mantelpiece are starting to look a little dated. Try different combinations of family groupings, or photograph just one family member (the one who complains the least) to really hone your skills. If the weather’s good, head outside, but portraits inside can be just as beautiful. Don’t forget to include the dog if you have one!

Still life and macro in the home

 

You may never have realised that there are thousands of photoshoot ideas in your very own home. Many different objects make for fantastic still life and macro shots, especially if you can get creative with lighting, or use different backgrounds. There are so many ways you could turn this idea into a project – you could focus on one room, pick one object from every room, look for hidden details that you never knew were there, and so on.

 

Food photography

 

Combine some bank holiday cooking with some fantastic food photography. If you’re new to food photography, pick something that you can take your time over – a cake that won’t go cold, for example. Fruit and vegetables also make for interesting still life subjects that you can manipulate in all sorts of ways. If you have a macro lens, make use of it to show off the interesting patterns and lines that natural subjects provide.

 

Find a new landscape

 

Are you guilty of visiting the same locations over and over again – perhaps sticking to somewhere local for your tried and tested photoshoot? There’s nothing wrong with that, but a new place can really invigorate your creativity. Spend some time researching some new locations that take you out of your comfort zone, and use the long weekend to make that trip you’ve been putting off for some time.

 

Experiment with monochrome

 

Some photography ideas never get old, and monochrome is one of those. No matter what you shoot this weekend, why not try shooting in monochrome. Most cameras offer at least one monochrome setting you can experiment with. If you shoot in raw format, you can always revert back to the colour version if you don’t like the results. Alternatively, why not convert some of your existing shots into monochrome using a program such as Photoshop for a new perspective.

 

One lens, one weekend

 

Too much choice can sometimes be overwhelming for creativity. This weekend, why not try picking one lens and shooting only with that. You might find that you have to rethink how you take some shots, leaving you with interesting results. If you’ve got an underused lens, now’s the time to let it shine and give it a new lease of life – you may be pleasantly surprised.

 

Create a photo book

 

How many of your photos are sitting languishing on a hard drive? Will they still be around in years to come for your family to enjoy? Why not use the bank holiday break to finally put together a photo book to showcase your best work. You could make something which highlights a special trip, or you could make it broader. There’s a range of photobook styles to suit just about every photographer, with prices starting from as little as £6.49.

 

Let us know how you plan to spend your bank holiday – and don’t forget to share the resulting shots via our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages!

 

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