Digital Camera Cleaning and Maintenance

cameracleaningIt is too easy to come home after a days shooting, whip out the memory card, have a play with your new images and forget all about maintenance of your kit.

If you are like me, anything new that I buy over time (car, motorbike, watch, glasses etc), get cleaned immaculately at least once a day. Then after a few weeks it falls to once a week or so and then just “on the odd occasion” or when they look really dirty.

Because photography is my livelihood, I have to physically make myself grab my camera bag, go and sit somewhere quiet and take a good half an hour to an hour after a shoot to clean every piece of equipment that I have used.

This kit has cost thousands and its cleanliness has a direct bearing on the quality of my images and the longevity of its use. Not only that but as I upgrade my equipment, I may want to sell on my old cameras at the best price.

These are the checks that I make;

Digital Camera Cleaning and Maintenance – Lenses

Obviously take great care when cleaning the glass, it is what makes the lenses so expensive and costly to repair or replace. Use only fine tissue paper and alcohol solutions that are designed for camera optics. Clean both the front and rear elements using a blower brush first to remove any dust particles.

The last thing you want to do is scrape even the smallest piece of dust across your lens.

I also use the bristles of a blower brush to clean in between the moving parts of the external barrel. This prevents a build up of dirt over time and maintains smooth operation whilst helping to prevent dust from entering the internal optics.

Make sure you clean the brush or replace it often too otherwise you simply end up smearing minute particles of grease and dirt onto the lens.

Digital Camera Cleaning and Maintenance – Camera Sensor

The most talked about and asked about issue with Digital SLR maintenance is the sensor and the accumulation of dust. If you are altogether unsure of how to go about it, wait until any sensor dust is at a point where it is unbearable (most specs are easily and quickly removed in editing), and then take it to be professionally cleaned.

Damaging a sensor is expensive…

If you intend to do it yourself, just be careful. Set the camera to manual with a 30 second exposure. You will need time to clean the sensor but using the bulb setting (“B”) could be a mistake.

If whilst cleaning the sensor, you accidentally close the shutter you are in danger of damaging the mirror, shutter, sensor or all three. Even if you use a remote release set to “B”, the batteries on the remote could give out and close the shutter prematurely.

With a fully charged battery in your camera and a 30 second delay, you know where you are.

Once the shutter is open, hold the camera up so that the sensor is facing down, and use the blower (without the brush) to blow any dust away from the sensor.

N.B. The camera is held this way to allow any dust to fall out of the camera and the brush is removed in case it touches the sensor and adds grease smears or dust to it rather than removing it.

If the sensor is really dirty, you are able to buy cleaning kits with swabs where you physically touch the sensor to “swipe” away dirt. Again, you need slight of hand and great care to do this so if unsure, seek professional help.

Digital Camera Cleaning and Maintenance – Mirror/focussing screen

Unless I can barely see through the viewfinder (exaggeration), I tend to leave the mirror and focussing screen alone apart from a quick blow/swipe with the blower brush. The only time I would give it more attention is if it were to run the risk of transferring dust to the sensor.

Dust on the mirror or screen has no effect on the final image so any dust you see on these through the viewfinder, won’t affect the photograph (although excessive dust on the screen “may” affect the accuracy of focussing).

Once again, be careful as the mirror in particular is extremely sensitive and easily scratched.

Digital Camera Cleaning and Maintenance – Outer casing

Even though it is mostly aesthetic, it is still important to try and keep the external workings clean. The dirt on the outside can easily make its way inside, particularly if you change lenses often with dirty hands.

I give it a quick once over with the blower brush first and then a quick rub with a lens cloth or dustcloth. I usually do the outer parts before the inner. This reduces the chance of dirt transferring itself inside.

Digital Camera Cleaning and Maintenance – Accessories

Most accessories have mechanical or electronic workings so it is just as important to keep these clean to help with their longevity. For example, the battery contacts in a speedlight or remote switch need a quick clean now and again just to prevent any build up of dirt or even rust.

A failing accessory can be as disastrous as a failing camera in certain situations, especially paid ones.

Digital Camera Cleaning and Maintenance – The Bag

This is something that many people wouldn’t consider but the quickest way for cameras, equipment and accessories to become dirty is if you have a dirty camera bag or holdall.

Dust, dirt, sand and even bits of Mother Nature (leaves, grit etc) are easily accumulated when out and about.

Remove all equipment once in a while and just Hoover/vacuum the bag thoroughly inside and out.

All of this seems a bit tedious but once I have done it I feel surprisingly good and happy with myself. I also know that when I go out shooting or turn up to a paid job, the equipment is in tip-top condition.

Creating a Photography Studio in a Greenhouse

WestGreenHouseBAn at-home photography studio is a fantastic supplement to support aspiring and experienced photographers. However, there is a great deal of planning involved in designing a photo studio. Space, lighting, backdrops, props, and many more details need to be addressed before the studio is prepared to accept clients. Choosing to design a photography studio in a greenhouse will eliminate the need for several of these necessities and provide quite a few added benefits. There are a number of factors to consider when specifically designing a new greenhouse or converting an existing greenhouse into a photography studio. It is important to contact an experienced engineering and design team that have the innovative design capabilities to create the perfect photo studio in a not-so-typical space, such as a greenhouse.

Photo studios require adequate space for capturing different angles and properly zooming in on subjects to prevent image distortion. It is also important to have enough room for storing props, backdrops, and equipment. For these reasons, a small living room nook will not provide the appropriate space for a photography studio. A greenhouse, whether it is a standalone structure or a lean-to addition, will provide enough room for moving subjects, zooming, and storing equipment. A lean-to will already have one solid wall, which is perfect for the staging area. Freestanding greenhouses can be designed with a solid wall, or they can include a sliding wall with solid panels that act as a solid wall when closed.

Since a greenhouse is predominantly made of glass, photographers are able to take advantage of ample natural lighting. There is some controversy surrounding natural light photography, but when properly harnessed, natural lighting is a cost-effective and efficient photography method. When planned correctly, a greenhouse can be used for both natural and artificial light photography. The windows will provide enough light to eliminate the need for a flash, but they are also easy to cover with a proper shading system. Because of this, there is a reduced need for standard lighting techniques, such as: constant lights, speedlights, and studio strobes, as well as light modifiers, like umbrellas and softboxes.

During the planning stages, it is important to determine the best possible location for a greenhouse photo studio. A south or north facing structure will be out of direct sunlight and will produce soft, even light. For increased lighting control, drapes and adjustable shading systems can be added to the windows and ceiling to help photographers create the perfect lighting for any photo shoot. Polycarbonate can be used as an alternative to glass in the ceiling and walls to reduce light transmittance and leave the studio illuminated with a soft, natural glow. For those looking for more a traditional glass structure, Dynamic glass is a self-tinting option, which reduces light transmittance, but does not require a permanent change in traditional aesthetics. With this option, different window sections can be tinted individually at various levels, allowing photographers to control the light transmittance at any angle of the greenhouse.

Backdrops and props are essential in photo shoots. A greenhouse photo studio can include an interior dividing wall such as a folding glass wall to separate the storage area from the work area ensuring the studio remains organized at all times. An interior dividing wall can also create different climate zones to separate a growing area from the studio area. This will allow tropical plants or orchids to be grown in the greenhouse zone and used as unique scenery for pictures, all while keeping the studio zone at a comfortable climate for clients.

A greenhouse photo studio doesn’t have the standard greenhouse setup, so the wet concrete floor and humid atmosphere that one typically imagines when thinking about a greenhouse are not included when used for a photo studio. Superior ventilation features like ridge and eave vents will ensure the structure remains comfortable for clients, and tile flooring will withstand water damage and require minimal additional maintenance.

For those who aren’t ready or don’t have room for an entire greenhouse, a greenhouse wall can be added to the north or south-facing wall of a structure and provide the same natural lighting benefits as a greenhouse

Why Hiring a Professional Tacoma Newborn Photographer Makes Sense

Chronicling the journey of your little bundle of joy is often the best way to live those memories years later. However, very often, parents don’t have photos of their kids as newborns. They are so busy playing parents and tending to their tiny ones, they hardly have the time or energy to keep the camera ready for those timeless shots. That’s probably the most important reason to hire a Tacoma newborn photographer than going DIY. However, that’s not the only reason.

1. Newborn photography takes a lot more than skill

Photographing a newborn isn’t just about getting the lighting right or using simple backgrounds. You have to be really patient with newborns in order to get the perfect shot. A professional newborn photographer would have the necessary experience to get the right shots from newborns. He would not only be good with the camera, but also with your little ones too; which means he would be able to change the baby’s position while he is sleeping, and conduct the shoot in the safest, most convenient manner possible.

2. You can be in the photos too

Even if you find the energy to go DIY with newborn photography, only the mother or the father can be in the frame with the kid. Yes, there is self-timer and all such techniques, but self-timers rarely get you good pictures. Hiring a professional lets you get those family photos in, not to mention the use of some interesting props too.

3. It is once in a lifetime opportunity, literally

Your kid will be so little only once in his lifetime. He will give you those cute, curled poses only during this time. In fact, newborn photoshoots should be done before the baby is more than 2 weeks old. Once that 2 week threshold is exceeded, your baby stops being so flexible, or getting that deep sleep. Moreover, chances of baby acne or skin peeling become greater after 2 weeks. You really want to make the most of this short period of time, and that’s where hiring a Tacoma newborn photographer becomes important.

How to hire the right pro

1. Don’t just look at online portfolio

Online portfolios can be a great starting point to shortlist potential newborn photographers. However, don’t trust online portfolios alone. Some unscrupulous so-called professionals put up images from their workshop, or even steal photos from others. Stealing photos online isn’t so difficult anymore, given the abundance of baby photos on social media platforms. Once you shortlist photographers, ask them for their most recent work. To be doubly sure, ask for references of their most recent clients. Contact a couple just to get feedback.

2. Match the style

Some photographers work with props, while others choose to go the simplistic route. Similarly, while some are good at candid shoots, others are better with poses and following a story approach. When you go through a portfolio of a photographer, see that the style matches the ideas in your head. You want your ethos to match, otherwise it’s going to be a waste of time and money.

3. Make sure they can come to you

Taking all the props you need to a studio for newborn photography can be tough. It is always better if your Tacoma newborn photographer can come to your place for the shoot. Not only is it a lot easier, but it also opens up a lot of possibilities, since everything is handily available.

Professional Image Editing and Photo Retouching Services

Most of the times the very easiest things are taken as granted, hence this Image Editing Services is a solution to fix little problems which create by people when they taking footage. Many biggest photo editing studios show off their work & also their expert professional team, but it simply tries to explain to the customers what is going wrong & how image editing software is helpful? Once all the troubles are solved digitally, then it becomes simpler to get better quality pictures along with clarity. The image editor tool is like a doctor who knows all the problems in the pictures as they fix them as soon as possible for betterment. To create a beautiful along with clarity this software has many important benefits as an image has various issues such as unwanted elements to be finished, masking & adding text to it and darkness to be reduced.

Whatever might be the problem in your images, the software is enough to fix everything because it’s designed with latest technology. Therefore, many people prefer to go professional picture studio because the quality of their image editing services is really amazing and outstanding. The Image Editing Companies In USA is able to do many things like layer masking, clipping paths, adjust layers, multiple masking, remove background, do quick masking, brushing of all kinds, curve adjustment, noise filters and retouching along with cropping. These special things are done by the image editing software to make the image more gorgeous and finish the blurriness. As we all know that the pictures is play an important role in our lives because they feel those sweet moments who never come back therefore we take care & love to all the images with family, friends & loved ones.

Pictures are not taken as for personal purpose, but also using at professional level and we all know the famous profession is photography that does talented photographers as they take pictures of models, celebrities, actor/actress & many more. The professional photographers also execute this amazing software to provide more quality of those images that taken by them. The Image Editing Services Company, also has many services to get a new look to an image such as photo retouching services, image manipulation services, jewelry retouching services, color correction services, clipping path services, stock photo retouching and last but not least e-commerce photo retouching. All these services have their own benefits and specifications as well as they do their best work to makeover the any dull or burr image to pretty one.

The multiple outsourcing companies are making on the updated state of infrastructure along with the software, that all means those photo retouching services execute resources that offers the superb image editing & also improve the photography services. Some studios can also add special effects in the pictures on their customer’s requirements as the photo fixing agencies present to assist photographers on a big scale with evergreen image editing wants. Those agencies meet your problems towards pictures and provide long term pictures along with a glow and clarity that make the photograph sassier.

Having a Safe and Right Access of Cash Loans Services

When you get to the place, you will be directed by the staff there about the services that you can get from them. It will be very nice to ask more details about it. It prevents you to take any more risk in doing the corporation in it. You should educate them well in order to know it further and do not take the wrong decision later. There will be a payday service which will prevent you to pay higher interest when you pay the loans back. If you really want to know more about this access, you can visit the link via online. You can access it as well as possible and get enough information about the safe and right cash loans.

Talking about cash loans can be hard for some people. They do not like it because they are afraid when the day for paying the next bill will hamper them in doing activity or they can’t afford it. They are also afraid that if they can’t pay it, the company will break the things they have and take it away from them. It makes them thing that it is better for us to just borrowing the money from the closer people such as family and friends. But have you know that actually it can be a big problem. Money can split up the people, it is not just an expectation but this is the things that exist in society. It can also break our reputation if we can’t pay it as well as we have determined before between two sides of people. It is worse actually than we expect before. So, to solve the misconception and misunderstanding between people towards the cash loans services, here we provide you some information about it.

Talking about money sometimes can be the crucial things to discuss especially if it related to cash loans. People may think that indeed the cash loans will help them but in the end it will be a nightmare for them to pay it in the day has been decided. But actually the cash loans services do not only provides you the money that you need but also provides you some other services. The company will consider the things which make the customer comfortable and free from the worried feeling in working with them. It is not that hard as what you think, instead it will give your safe and right access in it. First, the service is available in many places. It can be reached in the area where you are in. It will not make you take more time to go to another part of district to get the cash loans service. Before trying to apply in this service, it is better for you to do some researches about it. You may allow making your estimation about it. Use the service is only when you are in really big hard condition. And the money you borrowed will be used as its purpose so you may not to ask more in borrowing in order to prevent the higher interest that will come to you.

How to Capture Aerial Photography And Videography Properly

Aerial Photography and Videography have become very popular, and people don’t do it only as a hobby, but now it has also been used for commercial purposes as well, thus photography has also become a profession for many numbers of people. The concept of aerial photography is not a new one, and has been used for a long time now, but the popularity it has gained was never registered earlier. In the previous years, not many people used Aerial Photography but now the picture has changed altogether.

In today’s time, the accessibility and affordability of drones have given a new life to the art of photography, and there are ample number of options to make a mark in the field of aerial photography, for that reason there is a whole market for it, and people also take help of Aerial Photography Hire Services‎.

The trend of Aerial Photography and videography has emerged in Singapore for low-altitude imagery with the use of light-weighted helicopter drones. This technology helps in taking some great and stunning aerial shots, that can also be used for different commercial purposes, such as, real estate videos, construction videos, and films. There are many other uses of aerial videography and photography, but the already mentioned once are early adopters of the new technology. People also take Aerial Photography Hire Services‎ for commercial purposes.

Most of the demand comes from the real estate sector and natural resource management sector and the further demand is also expected from urban planningand the insurance fields.

As the aerial photography and videography has become so popular, there are some factors which need to be taken care of, while choosing aerial production, let us have a look at some tips which will help you to make successful videos and pictures:

Type of Drone: The most necessary thing while doing Aerial Videography or Photography is the type of drone which needs to be used for shooting. The cheapest ones are the quadcopters as they are small and lightweight, but they have the problem of lack of stabilization. A gamble is a support system which is used to control the camera on a role and it also helps in compensating the movements of drone, and some better quality gimbals also pan and tilt the camera. A gimbal also stabilizes the camera to get some quality shots. A hexacopter along with a speedy gimbal can be the excellent choice for a flawless and good coverage. The weight of a hexacopter also stabilizes more than a quadcopter.

Type of Camera: While making a choice of a camera, one has to be aware of some important factors, such as you should choose the lightest camera to get the results you desire. The Hexacopters have the capability to fly up to 8 to 10 minutes with a DSLR camera, because of the limitation of the battery. The choice of the camera also depends on the final use, a light weighted DSLR camera is highly recommended.

Hope this article will help you to get good photos, and you can also interested in Aerial Photography ‎ in Singapore


Fluorescent Bulbs can be used for Photography Studio Lights

The bright light bulbs of today are a long ways from those uproariously humming, clean white tubes found in workplaces and healing zones in the 80’s. Presently, accessible in an extensive variety of styles and “shading temperatures,” eco-accommodating reduced fluorescent bulbs are intended for the home and screw into a large portion of the medium attachment and candelabra lights sold on our site. Use them in roof apparatuses, sconces, crystal fixtures and other light installations. Simply put, CFLs produce light when electrons from the knob’s counterbalance crash into mercury vapour all through the globule’s length, which thusly animates a phosphor covering within the glass. The outcome is an enduring radiance that is additionally amazingly vitality effective, in light of the fact that more vitality is spent on creating light and less is squandered on delivering warmth! This is the reason CFLs stay cooler to the touch than a brilliant globule, and why a low-watt CFL lights up a room with the same power of a high watt radiant knob.

Once fluorescent bulbs are spent, it’s lawful to toss it in the refuse; in any case, these vitality proficient knobs do contain follow measures of mercury vapour. On the off chance that they are sent to an incinerator, this mercury could enter the climate. Rather, gather your CFLs for your group family unit risky waste accumulation for treatment and reusing; if a globule breaks, fare thee well not to breathe in the vapor and quickly wipe up pieces with a wet cloth. Hurl everything, including the cloth, into a plastic sack for appropriate transfer. It’s critical to take note of that the general advantages of a CFL’s vitality sparing operation far exceed any danger follow measures of mercury vapour in the knob may posture to landfills.

We all found out about fossil energizes in school however did not give it much thought as of not long ago that these assets are non-renewable. Since we can see the end of the line for these wellsprings of force in our lifetime everybody has vitality preservation on their brains. There are numerous things we can do to spare vitality. Beginning can be the critical step. This article is one in an arrangement I am composing on the things we can do effortlessly and rapidly to enhance the vitality effectiveness of our homes. You can use CFL bulbs, as a wonderful photography studio lights. The expense of a smaller bright light bulb is more than ordinary knobs; however they can last up to 10 times longer. This can be useful for those difficult to achieve attachments. While this may be a huge sum if done at the same time, you could focus on doing a couple at once, or simply supplant your ordinary knobs as they go out.

Photography School Unlocks Creative Potential

offers three general courses to help individuals. The photography course that most people start with is the short course. This course teaches the fundamentals of digital photography. Through online, DVD, and a professional advisor that can be contacted anytime, the photography student can learn the in’s and outs of their new photography equipment.

The world’s oldest photography school is located in New York, New York. The New York Institute of Photography was established in 1910, and according to its website, “has grown to become the premier provider of distance learning in photography, educating more than 20,000 students in the US and more than 50 countries abroad at any given time.” They offer several photography courses to get on started in the photography business. If one is interested, no matter where in the world they are, The New York Institute of Photography can accommodate anyone wanting to learn this intriguing art.

The photography school offers three general courses to help individuals. The photography course that most people start with is the NYI short course. This course teaches the fundamentals of digital photography. The basic goal is to teach someone exactly how to use the digital camera that they own. Through online, DVD, and a professional advisor that can be contacted anytime, the photography student can learn the in’s and outs of their new photography equipment.  Another course that this particular photography school offers is the complete digital photography course. With this course, Adobe PhotoShop will be completely taught. The instruction will include how to “to retouch photos, post pictures on the web and how to take better digital photographs.” Also taught in this course will be how to restore old black and white photography pictures that may have suffered damage with age. This instruction is always helpful to photographers because many people have old photographs that need restoring, and they are not sure who to take them to or what to do to restore them. By having this instruction at this photography school, the future photographer will enhance anyone’s budding photography business.

The last course that this particular school offers is more than likely the most important. The NYI complete course in professional photography is the last correspondence course that this school offers. Here the photography student will learn all of the in’s and outs of the photography business including: wedding photographers. nature photography, art photography, and many more. If someone is serious about becoming a professional photographer, this is the course that is for them. After completing the other two courses, this one is the icing on the cake for the budding photographer.

One of the oldest photography schools around is the New York Institute of Photography. This school offers several classes for would be students to learn everything about photography from the fundamentals to the in’s and outs of the photography business. By taking advantage of this trusted schools instructionFree Web Content, a budding photographer may become a world renowned master of this particular art form.

Photography Schools – U can Find one Easily

Photography schools are the most sought after courses in present days, as photography has become a lucrative and desirable career. Be it fashion photography, wildlife photography or wedding photography, photographers are making their mark.

It is possible to learn the basics of photography without seeking formal education in photography but attending the ideal school will help you learn all the intricacies. It will help you to become a professional photographer and a flourishing career to follow.

Before joining any photography school, find as much as information about the best photography schools. Internet sites are the best option to seek information. Go through different reputed schools located in and around your city. Find out what do they offer.

Some of the schools teach magazine photography, some teach nature photography while some schools will have different courses rolled into one. However, the duration of such courses will be long. So, find out your area of interest and then start your search for photography schools accordingly.

Advantages of selecting a right school:

Although, reputed photography schools charge high fees, the knowledge and the experience, which you obtain, is worth as compared to other lesser-known schools. The reason is best schools will help you to learn master your art by teaching you many more things that are beyond the regular lighting courses. Reputed schools conduct routine tours to several art classes and studios, so that you understand how to balance color and light all at the same time. Some of these schools also business courses so that you become knowledgeable in different financial aspects of developing a career in this field of photography.


You may opt for degree in photography, which are offered by many photography schools in present days. Otherwise, you may choose few courses that take few months to get complete. After completion of the degree or courses from these photography courses, you will receive certificates. However, after that you may still have to work under professional photographers to obtain the hands-on experience. If you take admission in best schools then this need not be a problem because such schools offer internships to help the students to acquire experience and prepare for career.

The history of photography schools dates long back. Established in 1910, New York institute of photography is one of the best photography schools in the world. It also offers courses through distance learning. In present days, such schools are contained within the premises of art schools. Some career centers too have their own photography schools.  So, if you wish to take up photograph as career then use this helpful information and enroll in some good school.


The lightening of objects as they recede is a function of aerial perspective. That which causes objects to appear to diminish in size the farther from your camera they are is a function of linear perspective. The photo on page 94 illustrates the effects of both linear and aerial perspective. If you extend the edges of the path, the lines will eventually meet and that intersection is called, appropriately, a vanishing point.

The Picture Plane

The picture plane is a vertical plane which is, for most nature photographs, perpendicular to the ground plane. It is comprised of the contents of the field of view, and its borders are defined by the edges of your viewfinders. You can think of the picture plane as a vertical slice of the scene before you. An example of the picture plane is a print. This ‘slice’ of two-dimensional information is a visual representation of the picture plane.

Given that the picture is a plane, it can only capture a two-dimensional rendering. However, there are visual effects that can suggest three dimensions. These effects are created by object and light positioning, and can reveal forms and suggest space and distance.

It is important to select the lens that will most effectively capture the sense of depth you desire. Because super telephotos will compress the appearance of space, they are often the culprit for the perceived flatness in a photograph. Care should be taken when you select your lenses lest the choice defeat your purpose!

Line of Sight

Line of sight is the path the eye takes from camera to subject matter. Some nature scenes won’t have an obvious line of sight, such as a visual path, while others, a forest, for example, my have items such as trees or rocks forming a well defined line of sight.

The Ground Plane

The ground plane is, in most nature photographs, a horizontal plane on which rest the items in the line of sight. The main areas of a scene on the ground plane, from front to back, are referred to as foreground, middle ground, and background.

  • Foreground: Objects in the foreground are usually closest to the bottom edge and situated in front of other objects. In many specialties of nature photography, the foreground is a popular place to situate objects (secondary focal points) that complement, support, and guide the eye to the main subject.
  • Middle ground: The middle ground is the space between the foreground and background. When using long lenses with wide apertures, objects on this plane will be in focus while the foreground and backgrounds are softly blurred. This is often desirable in wildlife photography because your subjects will appear isolated and your viewer’s focus will stay on the subject.
  • Background: The importance of the background is usually dependent on the scene. In many landscape photographs, the background is part of the subject itself, such as mountain ranges where clouds and sky merge with the land. Some close-up and wildlife images, on the other hand, rely on uncluttered backgrounds for their success.
    • Bird, flower, and insect photographers often strive to photograph their subjects against backgrounds of pure color and little texture. This can really make the subject pop, especially if the background contrasts the subject in value or color

Many nature photographs have a foreground, a middle ground, and a background. Some photographers are able to use key elements such as lines and focal points to lead the eye from the foreground through the middle ground, the background, and around again. These are usually interesting and complex compositions that a viewer can spend a long time appreciating.


Have you ever wished you could photograph a bird in a certain pose or on a certain perch? How about a bear displaying a particular behavior in a setting of your choice?

I know many photographers who have a “dream shot” and it’s usually something that gets them very excited when talking and thinking about it.Visualizing photographs that you would like to take someday is a healthy, pleasurable and educational exercise for photographers of all skill levels. At present I have six pre-visualized bird images that I would love to capture on film. I call these my “vision birds” and they exist only in my imagination and sketchbooks. For each of these images I have the composition, pose and behavior, lighting and exposure values all figured out. All I need to do is put myself in the right situation for the opportunity.

In 2000 I found my first vision bird at the Alligator Farm in St. Augustine, Florida. I had dreamed of this image since I saw my first Great Egret in 1999, many months before buying my first camera. I was touring the boardwalk at Wakodahatchee Wetlands looking for songbirds when I turned the corner and found myself standing before the most breathtaking creature I had ever seen.

According to my field guide, it was a Great Egret. It was perched atop a small pond apple tree, leisurely preening against a strong orange sun. It was daybreak and smoke from a distant fire cast a light yellow haze over Wakodahatchee. The bird was magnificent as it preened. The backlighting created a halo around the bird, giving it an angelic presence. The way the light moved through its long, wispy back plumes transformed them into sparkling strands of golden silk blowing softly in the cool morning breeze. When the bird stretched its wing against the big orange sun, the long, translucent primaries flashed in the sun and I was awestruck. I felt as if I were witnessing grace and elegance for the first time. I desperately wanted to touch this bird. I wanted to know what something that beautiful felt like. I was mesmerized by this vision dancing before me in sweet, golden light.

Since that day I have not been able to get that bird out of my mind. I have sketched it a dozen times and even started several paintings. My endless pursuit of this image has inadvertently launched a passion for shooting backlit birds of all sizes and shapes. It is great fun and I really like some of the images, but until last year I remained in search of my vision bird perched atop the pond apple.

I took many photos of that bird preening and by a stroke of luck it finally stretched its wing. Trying my best to steady my hands and breathe regularly, I got two clean shots. I was a ball of nerves waiting to get the slides back and when I saw the slides on the light box I beamed from the inside-out. All I could say was “Oh My Lord” over and over again. They were almost exactly as I had envisioned them and perfectly executed. For an artist there’s not a more satisfying feeling in the world than to see a vision to fruition. I’d gladly wait another three years for the next opportunity.While shooting a nest at the Alligator Farm in May 2002, I turned back to see how the sun was falling on the birds behind me. From the corner of my eye I saw the big white bird hop gracefully from its nest up to the small tree, right between the sun and me. My heart hit the ground and I trembled with adrenaline. The image that had haunted me for three years was within reach. Knowing the patterns of the nesting birds there, I knew there was good chance that it would stay on the tree and preen for awhile before flying off to forage. This gave me the extra time I needed to get set up with shaking hands and a rapidly beating heart.

Having given this topic considerable thought, I realize that most nature photography is impossible to arrange or predict. There are some captive and in-studio set-up shots that are done, but in general, animals won’t listen and mountains are hard to move. The point of pre-visualizing your images is not to dream of an image that is unattainable, but to practice the exercise to reap its many benefits, which include:

It allows you to daydream a little and forget about your everyday worries. Many photographers revel in the solitary craft of nature photography. They take advantage of their time alone to escape the pressures of life and immerse themselves in nature. Depending on the limits of your imagination, pre-visualizing your photography allows you a similar escape without leaving your home.

Pre-visualizing your images stimulates your creative juices and if you practice it often, you can get into the habit of composing images in your mind. Not only does this flex your creative muscle, it forces you to think about composition and design;

Pre-visualizing images also forces you think about how you would handle the technical part of the situation. This is a big help when you’re in the field and time is of the essence; and

Depending on how realistic your visions are, the exercise helps you to create and work toward photographic goals, which is an excellent way to improve your photography without actually being in the field.

Although I have these vision birds that I would like to capture someday, and plans for their execution, I understand how important spontaneous shooting and experimentation is to the creative soul. Just as setting out in the field and letting nature guide your camera can be a wonderful creative release, pre-visualizing images and thinking about how you would make the photograph can be as healthy as a form of meditation at home. When and if you ever capture your vision bird, you will find that it can be one of the most personally satisfying experiences that an artist can have.

You may wonder what there is to think about when trying to pre-visualize a photograph. In my preening great egret shot it is a bird, a pose, and some vegetation. Not much to think about, right? Wrong. For that shot, here are some of the things I thought about and solved way before the opportunity presented itself: was the texture of the feathers shiny or rough? How will that look on film? Aside from the wing stretch, what does the bird look like? Is it looking at the camera or preening or looking elsewhere? How does that cause the sun to fall on its head and face? What is in the background and how light or dark is it? What are the other elements I want in my picture? What kind of exposure compensation should I use and how much? What kind of film? Should I shoot in early or late light?

All these questions and answers may seem frivolous and a waste of time. You might think the situation would probably never present itself the way you imagine anyway, so why waste time thinking about it? Because thinking about it will help you make decisions in the field in other situations. You go through various scenarios in your mind and they force you to think about things like image design, exposure, light, etc. I had about five minutes with my great egret and although the background and foliage are not exactly what I had in mind, and the near wing is a bit of a mess, I wasted not a single second, nor a single frame.

I’ve been accused of being a dreamer with little direction and discipline in my life. I’ve even been told that I need someone to run my life so I can spend all my time creating images and not worry about real life stuff. This isn’t nice to hear but I don’t mind being a dreamer of beautiful visions. When people get me down, I retreat to the quiet of my studio and look around at some of my paintings and photographs. There, on the wall beside my bed, hangs a small reminder that with a little perseverance, dreams really can come true

How Can An Old Photo Restoration Help You?

Worried about your crazy childhood photos or some old pictures got damaged? Do not be upset about it, as you can find so many modern tools to get your pictures restored. Restoring old photos and gifting them can be the best gift ever to your family and friends to make them remind of the moments or memories that have passed with time. It describes the commitment you had put in to restore the older photos to recollect everything. With photo restoration services, any type of photo can be easily restored to look like the way it was first taken.

Below are the few old photo restoration services:

• Recreating missing parts of the photos
• Removing spots, stain damage and molding’s
• Manipulating the photograph
• Enhancing and Enlarging the smaller Images
• Restoring the faded photographs
• Repairing tears, scratches and creases
• Water and fire damages
• Stitching back the torn up photos

Now, let us see a detailed explanation of how these photo restoration services can help you:

• Recreating the missing pieces of photos: For some older photos, you can find some missing sections like eyes, hands and etc, but do not worry about the damaged pictures, as the missing parts can be painted out or reconstructed digitally and can be manipulated from any other picture to match the original image.

• Removing spots, stain damage and moldings: Stains and spot damages are frequently occurring on the photos. In the photo restoration process these damaged stains can be removed by scanning the photograph. By scanning you can also change the background of the photograph and can fix the mold damages.

• Manipulating the photograph: Sometimes a good picture of an individual does not exist. Extracting an individual photo from a family photo or from a wedding photo is very simple to do. It can be manipulated by cropping and isolating the picture to create a new picture.

• Enhancing and Enlarging the smaller Images: Sometimes you may have to resize a passport size or small size picture for a large image. This can be done by cropping the smaller picture and enlarging the same to a larger image by adjusting the image quality.

• Restoring the faded photographs: It is the known fact that the photos will be faded with age. Some photos placed in the photo frame for a longer time can be faded due to sunlight and other reasons. The color of the images can be changed with the color tinting services.

• Repairing tears, scratches and creases: Tears, Scratches and Creases are most commonly occurred problem for the pictures which were handled from past years. With the use of photo restoration these will be modified digitally without losing the feel of the original image.

• Water and fire damages: Some miscellaneous damages like ink pen marks, water and fire damages can also be recovered by the photo restoration methods.

• Stitching back the torn up photos: If the pictures are torn into pieces or the pictures got stuck to the glass frames. Do not be upset about it, as it is very easy to stitch back or recreate the missing parts with the use of the existing parts to make it look as new.


Therefore, all the above excellent services will definitely make you search your albums for favorite and precious pictures which were faded, creased and scratched to send them for the photo restoration process.

The Importance of Understanding The Fix!

That Burning Desire to Get the Latest “Thing” No Matter What…

April 2012 – I recently battled with myself as to whether I should buy the new Canon EOS 5D Mark III or not. On paper it looked amazing and exactly what I needed (really? I needed it?). It had some great updates and additions that I could most certainly use but things I could almost certainly, and have up to now, lived without on a DSLR at least.

I even have most of the features I wanted in the Mark III on my other cameras that I own, particularly with regards to video…and then some (I already have time lapse, slow motion, stop motion, multiple frame rates, dual mic inputs, 3 sensors, solid state dual card slots, peaking…blaa blaa. Some things the Mark III doesn’t have).

After checking a few image quality tests, including this interesting one over at “The Digital Picture” which shows, if you look at the Kodak Colour Control Patches a couple of scrolls down, a huge difference in quality between the 5D Mark II and the Mark III even at 100%. Are the high ISO pictures better on the Mark III or has the new low pass filter simply blurred the pixels?

For me the Mark II wins hands down with regards to sharpness on this occasion and I have heard the same from videographers like Philip Bloom who talk about greater softness in video mode on the 5D Mark III too.

Let’s face it, a bride or client has never said “Oh wow, I love the way you shot that at ISO 25,600 and presented it to me straight out of camera” or “You have nailed that focus on my right eye, it must be the 61 point autofocus in your new DSLR”…

; )

I was quite disappointed with the above comparison, and other reviewers saying that you can correct this softness by sharpening in post was a cop out as far as I am concerned. Now I may eat my words when I see the real time comparisons start to emerge, but I still absolutely love the sharpness and clarity of the 5D Mark II…so much so I bought another one last week instead of the “doubly-priced” EOS 5D Mark III.

Now, despite all my whinging above, when the new 5D Mark II arrived I noticed something very strange and quite mystifying…

Even though I had EXACTLY the same camera sitting right next to me, I excitedly opened the box, put in a fresh battery and played with the camera for a couple of hours. I went through the menu system and set everything up to suit my shooting style.

It felt as though I had bought a new camera that I had never used before.

I then realised that this was “the fix”.

The excitement of buying something new and expensive, almost like an unconscious justification of spending so much on something I already owned…this wasn’t even an upgrade but simply a second camera purchase for weddings.

I honestly believe that this is what fuels the consumerism we see all around it these days…the “I gotta have that” attitude.

This year, I am weaning myself off all that and using what I have to make money and good images. I am concentrating on improving my photography and editing skills as well as my video techniques. I have an office that looks like B & H Photo Video (well, not quite) and a PC bulging with software (admittedly most of it gets used) and I know I have enough gear to produce the goods in any situation, location or time of day.

I feel like I have been liberated from this decision that has been haunting me for weeks and can now get on with my life…did I make the right decision? Time will tell but I do know it is time to forget all the hype and get back to enjoying my photography and not worrying about all the new toys being released…(until the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV is announced : )

I got into photography more than 30 years ago for the art. For the joy of getting just one in 36 shots nailed. For the dizzying smell of the chemicals in my darkroom. For the pleasure of walking endless miles searching for that one elusive landscape shot. For the sheer joy of experimenting with basic kit and a whole heap of ideas.

Even the disappointment after waiting for two weeks for my photos to arrive only to find they were all cr*p was a surreal pleasure!

Batch Processing Photos

Shave Hours From Your Digital Workload Using These Methods

Batch processing photos – It’s a love/hate thing.

Ever since I learned about batch processing and what it did, I have had mixed feelings about it. Whereas I understand the time-saving benefits that batch processing offers, there have only been a few areas in which I find it most useful until recently.

I have always been a stickler for tweaking, poking and prodding each image to the max which, becomes mighty tedious when processing up to 1,000 images from a wedding, but it is worth it for me.

The reason I do this is because no matter how pushed I am for time, I find it very difficult to “wash over” each image with the same process. Sure, there are times when a batch of 5 or 6 can be automated, but the whole lot? Never!

For me, each photo I take may have minor and barely noticeable differences in white balance, light, shade, colour etc, and needs that personal touch to get it just right.

There may be items or artefacts that I want to remove or clone out, or slight changes made to the alignment that simply cannot be done via the batch processing “process”. Each image is unique to me and batch processing them may alter some aspects beyond what I am trying to achieve.

Even batch processing a bunch of images to black and white needs to be done separately in my opinion. Each one will have differing tonalities and shades and you run the risk of blowing out the whites or darkening too much in some images if you are not careful.

Also, unlike some photographers, even if I am just giving out proofs to someone, they have to be fully processed. I can’t bear the thought of giving a client sub-standard, batch-processed images and explaining that the final photos will be “much nicer”.

However, there are some times when batch processing can save me so much time without using up too much PC power. These are a few programs I use to speed up my workflow when batch processing certain requirements.

NOTE: If you already know how to do batch processing using these software titles, please spare yourself by not watching and listening to my dulcet, cold-ridden tones

Canon’s DPP

I use batch processing in DPP for setting the WB, sharpness, levels and curves for a number of very similar images and converting RAW to JPEG. You can also resize and rename the RAW files whilst converting to JPEGs saving even more time.

This short video below outlines the benefits of batch processing photos within DPP (Canon’s Digital Photo Professional) for the 4 most used actions for my personal workflow:

  • General levels, curves, contrast etc
  • Convert to JPEG
  • Resizing
  • Renaming

4 Reasons Why You Need A Good Tripod

A tripod is one of the pieces of gear that differentiates a pro from an amateur. The tripod is usually perceived as cumbersome or additional work thus many beginners don’t bother with it. For you to appear like a professional, it’s paramount that you have a tripod. When getting the tripod, you should ensure that you get the best that you can. The benefits of getting a good tripod include:

Easy To Set Up

A good tripod is easy to set up-you don’t struggle putting things in order. The easy-to-set-up feature is of great importance when you are taking nature photos. The special moments don’t last for a long time; therefore, you need to be fast.

To make your work easy when setting the tripod, you should try out different designs when you are at the camera store. Here you should try to set up the different designs and settle on the one that is ideal for you.


The main function of a tripod is to keep your camera still; therefore, for your camera to be stable, you need a good tripod. When your camera is stable, the camera stops moving completely when you lock it on the head of the tripod.

If you are using a good quality tripod and you notice that your camera is shaking even after locking it in place, you should check and confirm that you are putting the right amount of weight on the head of the tripod.

If you are using a long lens, you should get a tripod collar for the lens. This is to prevent the long lens from shifting.

High Quality Photos

Since the tripod will hold the camera in one position, you will be able to take high quality photos that are very sharp. Of most importance you will be able to take sharp images even at night when you are using slower shutter speeds.

Freeze The Moment

Since your camera won’t be moving, you will be able to comfortably use slower shutter speed and easily freeze great moments. For example, you will be able to easily capture a waterfall or slow moving objects such as cars.


These are some of the benefits that come with having a good tripod. Before you buy it, you should ensure that you first learn how to professionally use it. For ideal results, you should buy the tripod from a well-known, reputable camera store.

6 Benefits Of 50 Mm Lens

The 50 mm lens or the Nifty fifty is one of the most popular camera lenses in the market. The lens is preferred by many photographers due to its many benefits:

Ideal For Low Photography

The 50 mm lens is a prime lens thus it takes professional-quality photos. It has a wide aperture of f1.8 which allows more light to enter through the lens opening. The large aperture gives you the freedom of using faster shutter speed in order to avoid camera shake.

You can also use slower shutter speed and lock out noises you get from higher shutter speeds. If you are experienced, you can use both the faster and slower speeds.

Light Weight

Depending on the brand, a 50 mm lens weighs between 4.3 oz to 6 oz. This means that there’s no reason why you should leave the lens at home. If you are not in the mood of carrying a whole bag of stuff around, you only need to take your camera and the lens and you will be good to go.


Lenses from the most popular brands go at a price range of $100-200. This price is too low compared to the quality of images taken. According to expert photographers, the quality of an image taken by the nifty fifty lens is almost the same as that taken by a $600 lens.

Super Sharpness

Since this lens is a fixed lens, you are able to take sharper images as there are less moving parts inside the lens. There are also less lens elements to give you blurred images. The large aperture in the lens greatly contributes in giving you sharper images.


Since the lens is neither too wide nor too long, you can use it on a wide range of environments. For example, you can use it on the streets. You can also use it to take portraits. To take portraits, you only need to put the lens on an APS-C sensor.


The lens is categorised as a normal or standard lens. This means that the lens mimics the human eye. Due to this feature, the lens gives a natural look to the images that you take. This feature is also great for beginners as they won’t feel as if they are looking through a lens.


These are some of the benefits of a 50 mm lens. Regardless of the brand that you are buying, always ensure that you buy from a reputable store.

Stock Photography Course

Stock Photography Course with All Things Photography

  • Do you own a Digital SLR?
  • Do you want to make money from your camera?
  • Ever wondered how stock photography works?
  • Are you a full time photographer with spare time on your hands?

Well, ATP are now running a new 2 day stock photography course on how to produce, shoot, upload and sell your own stock photography. It is recommended that you are fairly competent with a DSLR but fast learners can certainly fast-track this business!

If you have a DSLR camera, you may well be leaving money on the table as some of those images cluttering up your hard drive as well as the pics you take every day may be perfect for the thousands of stock buyers out there.

You will learn:

  • Introduction
  • Equipment
  • Traditional vs. Microstock
  • Agencies
  • Exclusive or Non Exclusive?
  • Go it alone?
  • Licensed, Royalty Free or Rights Managed
  • Standards
  • The Images, concepts, topics and subjects
  • Rejections
  • Lighting
  • Colours
  • Composition, macro, wide, cropped etc
  • Camera Settings
  • RAW/JPEG Processing
  • Photoshop, Finishing touches and attention to detail
  • Noise/Grain
  • Keywording and adding info
  • Upload only your best
  • Consistency
  • Competition and inspiration
  • Setting up your own studio
  • Copyright, Trademarks and the Law
  • Getting seen
  • Staying ahead of the game/Moving on/Future Proofing
  • Earnings

Whether you see this as simply a way of making some extra money or a possible full time career, the opportunity is there and our stock photography course will help you to grab it.

Hi Nick,

Just thought I would make contact and say how much I enjoyed the stock photography course. Being a semi-pro photographer and travel writer, I know about Lightroom and Photoshop but very little about stock photography. This weekend course opened my eyes quickly to the fact that I would have made a series of mistakes immediately upon uploading my first photographs. This would have given me rejections straight away and could have put me off this type of photography. I am now organising the 2/3000 images I have, to start uploading the images prepared properly.

Also I am thinking about the way I take photographs in a different manner. My aim is to be up and running within a month of your course and starting to see the cheques coming in. If any photographer thinking of coming on your next stock photography course needs a little reassurance as to what to expect please give them my email address so they can hear about your courses from a recent student. Once again thanks for a great weekend. – Lyle Mallen (Spain)

I often wondered how it was done and just over 5 years ago I uploaded hundreds of images to various online stock photography agencies and those same images have earned me a regular, monthly, 4 figure income ever since. I have barely added to them for years and still the money comes in (although I do have around 3,000 new images to upload at some point)!

What could you do with an extra income of £100, £500 or £1000 and above every month?

“If you want to do more than just learn the theory of stock photography, this stock photography course is ideal for you. On the first day Nick showed us how to set-up and light still life scenes, and how to shoot them for stock use. He took the best image and worked on it in Photoshop, then he explained how to title, keyword and describe images to maximize their chances of success. He uploaded the best shot to an agency and two days later it got accepted!

On the second day we did a walkabout shoot and Nick taught us how to look at a scene and decide what make a good stock photo. Afterwards Nick went through all the photos we took and gave a very useful and constructive critique, explaining why certain shots would and wouldn’t be approved by an agency.

This course has taught me how to look for opportunities everywhere and given me masses of inspiration and enthusiasm. Nick has been an amazing teacher and a great inspiration for what can be achieved with creative thinking and hard work. Thanks!”Andrew Gardner

Judging by my own research and personal use of stock sites over the years (I am a buyer as well as a seller), I fully expect this industry to continue to grow and grow. Once your images are on with the agencies, that is it, they do everything for you from marketing your photos to sending you a cheque each month! You can grow your portfolio as slowly or as quickly as you wish…a perfect part time business doing something you love.

Gone are the days where you need to be a professional photographer with years of experience, a studio and a huge portfolio to get accepted at the agencies…learn how to do it in 2 days! We include practical sessions both in a studio environment as well as out and about in “town and country” and then show you how to process your images to an acceptable standard in Lightroom and Photoshop.

For me, this is one of the most exciting and enjoyable areas of commercial photography and it is open to everyone so enroll on our 2 day stock photography course now (only 4 places available)!

This image recently sold at one of the larger agencies for $352…could YOU take a photo as simple as that?

Kevin Kubota Adobe Lightroom Tutorials

Kevin Kubota Adobe Lightroom Tutorials – Do you shoot RAW? Do you have a fairly hectic workflow? Do you already own Adobe Lightroom and feel a little confused?

Even if you haven’t yet bought Adobe Lightroom for your MAC or PC, you may have thought about it, read reviews and even downloaded the trial version to have a play.

Even though you saw its potential, you may have been left thinking that you hadn’t quite seen enough of what this amazing program can do and therefore couldn’t justify its cost?

I have used and enjoyed Adobe Photoshop for 5 years now and wasn’t about to start learning yet another program during an incredibly busy time for me and my family. A photographer friend of mine was using Adobe Lightroom and swore by it…he couldn’t believe that I wasn’t using it yet either.

In all honesty I had looked at it but even though the interface looked incredible, like so many other people, I just didn’t have the time to learn it. Then I thought to myself “What is my time worth?

On my own, Adobe Lightroom would take maybe 4 or 5 solid days to learn? A week? More maybe? For less than $100 and just 3-4 hours out of my day, I can recoup a whole week of my time for a mesely $30 per hour, plus I have a permanent reference which I will review once a monthevery month! When I think that during a wedding I charge maybe $200-400 per hour, the price of these tutorials is peanuts but also priceless for my business!

So when my friends at Kevin Kubota Image Tools asked me to review a copy of their new Adobe Lightroom Tutorials, I gladly accepted knowing that this would once and for all get me more involved and clued up on it.

Kevin Kubota Adobe Lightroom Tutorials – Who is Kevin Kubota Anyway?

Kevin Kubota is rated as one of the worlds’ top ten wedding photographers and as soon as I started watching Kevin’s video tutorials embedded within an extensive, good looking and well written document, I knew why…I was hooked.

Kevin Kubota understands photographers…that much is obvious by the way he teaches. He has a slow, calm and methodical approach to explaining things that just “stick”. He even has quite a good (dry) sense of humour!

All the time I was watching the tutorials (in one complete session by the way) things were clicking in my head and becoming obvious. Things stood out that I absolutely knew for sure would assist my heavy workflow during weddings, portrait and stock shoots.

In the few short hours it took to watch and read the whole lot, I went from complete novice to actually understanding the fundamentals of this amazing piece of software.

So much so that I immediately started organising my stock images using Adobe Lightroom’s excellent image management system…and it works!

Kevin Kubota Adobe Lightroom Tutorials – What do I get?

Included in the package is;

  • Getting Stared PDF (1.3Mmb)
  • Written PDF version of Raw Workflow for Adobe Lightroom (18mb)
  • Interactive Quicktime Movie version of Raw Workflow for Adobe Lightroom (170mb)

You may have seen already a couple of short video clips taken from the Adobe Lightroom Tutorial that I showed on the Adobe Lightroom Review. If not, here they are again.

The first shows very quickly how the pre-sets work within Adobe Lightroom in the fact that you can see the effect before applying.

Photography Ethics and Photoshop

Is Photoshop really cheating when it comes to photography ethics?

I keep coming across people accusing and being accused of “cheating” an image by using the wonders of Adobe Photoshop, and that their work isn’t really photography at all, but another form of art altogether.

First of all, my opinion is “so what”? What does it really matter how the artist or photographer got to the finished image? As long as it is thought provoking and pleasing to the eye, and as long as it can be used in any necessary context for publication if so desired, do we really need to know how and/or why it was done?

Sure, a hard-core, original style photographer would say that the true image should be made at the time of capture, as the event happens and that any later enhancements are misleading to the end viewer. To that I say “poppycock”!

For me, the only true and real photography is that of photojournalism, and as I am sure you will agree, photojournalism should not and must not be tampered with for monetary gain or to purposely mislead the viewer.

Some of the most awesome and thought provoking photo-journalistic images have stayed in my mind since I was at primary school. One image that springs to mind is that of a young, naked Vietnamese girl having just been napalmed during the war, running down a road.

There would be no reason and no point to further enhance this image, it tells its own horrific story as it is.

When it comes to photographs as an art form, I guess photographers have been “misleading” people since the first “Daguerreotypes” were being made. The famous photo of the Cottingley Fairies held true for years until being finally exposed as a fake. Does it matter that it was a fake? The authors have created one of the most famous images and talked about legends for nearly a century that will be discussed for centuries more no doubt!

What about when an interior photographer like myself moves items of furniture in a house, or adds a bowl of fruit to a room to enhance the image? What about when we add make up to a model before a shoot or re-arrange a wedding dress? None of these images tell the story of a scene as it was when we arrived at it. All the alterations were made manually to make the image more pleasing.

So what is the difference between doing it before the shoot at the scene, or after the shoot in Photoshop? What is the difference between pulling an obtrusive branch out of your way for that perfect landscape or simply removing it later on your PC? Why do wedding photographers carry clothes pegs to pin back the dress for some formal shots? Is that cheating?

I am sure also, that when Turner or Constable made their beautiful paintings, that maybe another ship was added here, or an annoying, unwanted bush was removed there. In fact it has been suggested that the “Masters” used optics to project the model’s images onto their canvasses when painting “The Renaissance“. This was highlighted when someone pointed out that everyone including the animals, were left-handed! Is this cheating?

My whole point to this discussion is that each person who picks up and uses a camera, digital or film, has their own individual interpretation of what makes a good photograph, “Photoshopped” or not! In the same regard, each individual “viewer” that sees these images, has their own interpretation of why they like or dislike the finished product.

For me, this is what makes photography so unique and exciting, especially in this new digital era. There are so many combinations, techniques and tools we have at our disposal, that the bountiful supply of and possibilities for different and beautiful images is endless. If it weren’t for the phrase “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, and if we all saw things in the same way, the world would be a very dull and boring place.

When it comes to photography, or any other art form come to that, do what makesyou happy and proud of what you have achieved, however you got there!

Flash Basics – Flash Photography

On-camera flash basics: (forget the built-in flash) Using a hot-shoe mounted flashgun, directed straight at the subject is very flat lighting, possibly the very worst of all. There are ways that we can modify the on-camera flash to control our lighting.

We can diffuse the flash by means of clip on plastic domes, (think non-coloured Tupperware-type pots that will fit over flash head), or we can bounce our flash from ceilings, walls, off of reflectors, etc.

Balancing the light between existing light and flash is quite simple. Just remember that the shutter speed controls existing or ambient light and the aperture controls the flash effect. You set your camera’s mode to Av (aperture priority) selecting aperture to desired depth of field (i.e. for weddings F8 does the job).

Get a reading from subject and take a note of these settings. Now select M (manual) mode and use the settings you got from Av mode. Fit your flash to hot shoe, use manual flash. Try first maximum sync speed (usually 1/250 sec or 1/500 sec), then come down from here just adjusting shutter speed, and checking on monitor, until ambient light looks right.

As for power setting, I like to start at a quarter power, then I can go down two stops to 1/8 and 1/16 power, and up to a half and full power. (My flashguns only span from full to 1/16 power). For interior shots use the same method: If ambient light reads 1/125 @ F4, you will need to set aperture to F4, and set shutter speed at 1/500(if this is your camera’s maximum sync speed, or 1/250 @ F5.6 if that is your maximum sync speed, and bounce off ceiling.

Adjust power of the flash until it looks right in the monitor. This gives a ratio of 3:1 as a basic starting point. A big advantage, especially when photographing people, is to have the flash off-camera, so wherever you wander to get different angles, your lighting will remain constant. If flash is on camera, you would need to make adjustments each time you move out of the pre-set range of focus.

Your flash can be triggered by radio transceivers (Pocket Wizards) or by means of pc cables. For wrap around, or cross-lighting, you could place your subject between the sun and your off-camera flash, using the sun as fill and your flash as the main, or “key” light.

Ideally, indoor images should not show that flash was used, so for this to take place, modification is required. I use a black computer mouse-mat, which forms a half snoot and is rubber banded to the underside of my flashgun when bouncing off of ceilings etc., this ensures no direct light lands on the subject.

You can choose of course, to use automatic mode for flash, or TTL, (through the lens), I just prefer the manual mode. Problems occur when using flash under fluorescent illumination, where you will get a severe green cast over your images, the solution is to use a gel (Window green) over the flash window, and a magenta filter (FL-D) over the lens.

These filters will lose you one stop of light, but the lens filter alone will do the trick, if you aren’t using flash. Why this works is green over the flash window equalizes foreground and background color temperature, and the magenta on the lens absorbs the green from both sources to neutralize the image.

Most cameras will let you select the front or rear curtain flash set-ups, (Front curtain flash fires as soon as the shutter opens, while Rear (or second) curtain flash fires just before shutter closes) and for most types of photography the front curtain will do the job. If the subject is on the move however, rear, (Second) curtain flash is the way to go.

The reason being that if you were to use front curtain flash on a moving subject, the movement defining blur, especially against a black, or at least a dark background, would appear in front, and not behind the subject, giving the impression that the subject is going backwards.

On the other hand, if you were to use rear (second) curtain flash for say a portrait, and you are trying to capture a certain mannerism, you would not want the flash to fire too late and miss the emotion.

If you shoot at a party or wedding reception, indoors at night using the auto or programme flash setting, which is usually either 1/250 or 1/500 second, you will end up with ultra black backgrounds, and not the scene you saw.

That is because the flash fired too fast to record any background detail. Solution:set camera to shutter priority or manual mode, and adjust speed to between 1/30 and 1/8 second-these are normal settings for fairly dark conditions, because of the actual flash speed, blur won’t be a problem. This is known as “dragging the shutter”.

When using the dragging method, keep the flash set to auto or TTL, as, unless you are comfortable with doing this, you could complicate matters. If you only have a point and shoot camera, use the night setting so the camera will automatically set shutter speed to allow background detail to be captured…BUT, you will need a tripod/monopod as for night mode, shutter speeds are likely to be a lot slower than 1/8second.

Flash doesn’t reach as far as you like? Up the ISO! Twice the distance, four times the speed. For instance: If your flash has a Guide number (GN) of 25(metres (80 ft), the best you can expect is a realistic distance reach of 20 metres (60 feet) at ISO 100, so at ISO 400 you will get a realistic reach of 120 feet (40 metres), and at 1600 ISO, a reach of 240 feet (theoretically), but noise will play its part at high ISO’s.

If you are using an automatic flashgun, that does not give you fill-in values, just double the ISO you are using. Meter the scene, select an f-stop for the DOF you want, set auto flashgun aperture to same f-stop, and take your shot, this will give a 2:1 ratio, and your fill will be 1 stop darker that the main subject.

Photoshop Actions – Kubota Image Tools

Give Your Image Punch and That Professional Look With Kubota Actions

Photoshop Actions are set scripts that are created for and run in Adobe Photoshop (and Lightroom…see below). They can be made by anyone via a somewhat complicated process and your end results may not always be consistent on every image you use them on. These actions are automated and will run any processing script that is available from within Photoshop.

You may want to add a certain effect or black and white conversion to a huge batch of images. By running set actions, you can literally shave hours from your workflow, especially if working on wedding images.

Rather than spend countless hours trying to create my own set of actions for Photoshop, and then hoping they actually work, I prefer to use preset actions created by one of the top ten photographers in the world, Mr Kevin Kubota. He has created numerous production and image enhancing actions for Photoshop CS2 and above that are geared towards and made with the digital photographer in mind.

I personally use Photoshop Actions from Volumes 1, 2, 3 and 4 as well as the Production Tools on every wedding shoot I process…without fail. They speed up my workflow and give my images the edge I need and I use them for many other areas of my work too.

I can’t recommend them enough!

Kevin Kubota Photoshop actions are powerful, easy to use, professional “plug and play” Photoshop effects tools that will enhance your images and improve your workflow. Created by World Class professional photographers, these Actions for Photoshop can be used with ease by any photographer at any level. If buying in bulk, I recommend that you look at the various studio packages below.

African Safari Photography

I recently went on a photographic safari to South Africa which was conducted by a professional photographer from Florida, Greg Sweeney and his wife Karen. They have their own tree house lodge in the Limpopo province not far from Hoedspruit. They conduct two safaris in May and September each year and it is operated as a self catering facility out of those times.
To say this trip exceeded my expectations is a complete understatement. Nine days of non-stop activities from pre-dawn to 9 o’clock each evening. There was myself, another lady from Sydney, a Greek banker who lives in Switzerland and four wacky friends from different parts of the USA. Their camaraderie, banter and humour added a load of fun to the experience.

On our first morning we went on a game drive in the Thornybush Game Reserve and found a lioness with three cubs on a kill and while we were photographing a very old Lion walked into the group and marched off with what was left, mum and the kids had left him only the bones. He settled down not far away and proceeded to finish off the carcass crunching the bones as though they were match sticks. We wide eyed visitors saw Rhino, Giraffe and Buffalo, as well, on just that morning.

We went on two occasions to Kruger National Park, which is different to crashing through the scrub in Thornybush, vehicles are not allowed off the roads and to exit your vehicle brings a hefty fine. These were the times the boys dragged out their big guns, 500mm lens plus extenders. Imagine eight photographers (that includes Greg) all with huge lenses in one game vehicle, at times we were the spectacle and people were taking photos of us taking photos.

It was a dodge and weave situation and I ended up with bits of hats, elbows, lenses etc. but we all worked together so that we each got a shot at the target. The Yanks were Birders (Bird Photographers) and were always after birds in flight, and soon taught me to rattle off a heap of frames. Our guide could not help but laugh at the noise from eight cameras in continuous shooting mode.

We were able to feed her and yet she is able to come and go as she likes. She eats 60kg of cut up vegetables and is bottle fed 8lt of a South African tea on a daily basis. She is now old enough to be a mother and has several suitors so her life as a pampered Hippo my cease for her babies sake.

We visited the Mohololo Rehabilitation Centre and photographed a lot of birds of prey, a baby Black Rhino, Cheetah, Wild Dogs, Hyena, Honey Badger and had our photo taken feeding a Cape Vulture.

We were allowed access to a private lodge and saw lots of Giraffe and a beautiful (if you call her that) baby White Rhino and her mum. We happened upon two Dwarf Mongoose, so cute and no bigger than a small rat.

The food was excellent, we ate meat from a Kudu, Impala and all the food was cooked in a traditional way. We were surprised with a Bush Braii (there version of a BBQ) and entertained by the Ringatani Dance Group. This group was formed by a gentleman providing self esteem and a pride in culture for some young men who would otherwise be in trouble.

Our tree house lodgings were excellent. Showering was a different experience as it was at the rear of the tree house in the open air, what an experience to be about 7m off the ground watching the view and having a shower at the same time.

Each year Greg and Karen take supplies for the Elementary School, such as pencils, rulers, rubbers etc, but this year Greg’s mother had knitted dolls for the girls and socks for the boys. We presented these to the best achievers in the school. I have since sent a parcel of the pencils etc that my daughter had kept.

We moved to Tshukudu Game Lodge for the last two days and this was an added highlight, rather up market including a pool. The food was never ending. The lodge has four resident cheetahs who are all hand reared and yet have to hunt for their own food.

As long as you do not touch their tummies or feet they loved to be stroked just like an ordinary cat and I was not apprehensive in doing so. On a couple of occasions they followed the game vehicle and our guide actually took them out on a hunt, he looks for something they can catch and when he whistles and stops the vehicle the cats then go into hunting mode.

We got the opportunity to photograph a rather magnificent lion. The guides have a trick of revving the engine and the sound makes the lion roar in defense of his territory.

The lodge recently saved a baby lion from death as her mother had abandoned her for some reason and they found her sitting on the side of the road obviously in distress. She is being raised by the young man who was our guide and when she is able to successfully hunt larger game then she will be released in Mozambique in a reserve that does not have human visitors. Even at three months of age she will go into a hunting crouch if she sees a Guinea fowl. They also have a young Caracal which was a dream subject to photograph.

For me it was a trip of a lifetime with memories to last my lifetime.

had huge problems getting all my gear on the plane as hand luggage, I stowed several items in my large purse and after I passed through customs put it back in the camera bag as Qantas is very strict on carry-on limits.

What did I take do you ask?

Canon 5D Mk II: Canon 550D as a backup: 300mm f2.8: 70-200mm f2.8 mkII: 30mm f1.4: Extenders 1.4 and 2: Flash: Charges, extra batteries, 68gb of cards, card reader, elect adapters plus bits and pieces which all weighed in at over 12kg and then there was the small laptop. If I were to go on another trip the monopod would be the only thing I would leave at home. The only thing I lost was a lens cap.