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The key to improving your photography is repetition

8 Advanced Street Photography Tips That Can Help Take You to the Next Level

Teaching and learning can only get you so far in photography. At some point, you’ll reach a skill level that makes it up to you to put time and effort into continued improvement. You must take some time to master your skills in order to improve your photos. Luckily, there are things you can do beyond dedication and self-learning. However, there are some advanced street photography tips that can be used, which can help you improve your skill level and take better photos.

1. Use Your Eye, Not A Viewfinder

It is common for people to look straight into a viewfinder when making a photograph. This allows you to forget the world around you, however, this can make street photography difficult. Through the viewfinder, your vision is hindered significantly. This can damage your ability to spontaneously capture moments. You must see everything happening around you. This can help anticipate the moments about to occur in front of the camera.

8 Advanced Street Photography Tips That Can Help Take You to the Next Level

Your eyes are the best viewfinder. You will also notice more if you use your eyes. Use your eyes to scan an area, looking for subjects from far and near, waiting until you notice something. Then you can use the viewfinder to help you capture the moment. If you start by looking through the viewfinder, when the moment happens, you’ll be a half-second too slow. The viewfinder will slow down your ability to notice the moment when it occurs.

2. Embrace Spontaneity

According to Garry Winogrand, this is one of the best tips he received early in his photography education. It set him on a path to becoming one of the world’s most renowned photographers. You can spend your time thinking about what you’d like to shoot or your current work, but when you’re shooting, you should embrace your gut instincts. Don’t worry about whether you’re doing a good job, or not, or trying to work out the little details. Instead, push these thoughts aside and enjoy yourself.

There’s no need to worry about what others will think. If you believe there’s a chance for a good photograph, go for it. It doesn’t matter how weird you think the image may be. Your brain will try to talk you out of it. There’s a reason for the gut feeling, so make sure to use it to your advantage. Using your instincts allow you to shoot confidently. This will show in your work. They’ll feel more you and more real. Of course, you’ll take more bad photographs, however, the good ones will be much better. Trust your gut instincts.

Keep in mind that it’s easy to take this suggestion too far. You don’t want to machine-gun fire your camera without having an inkling of a good photograph. Although you want to take lots of photos, you still want to improve your skill. Taking random rapid photos is taking things too far. Turn off continuous shooting and ensure you’re able to capture and recognized the moment with just a few shots.

3. Think About How Your Photos Will Age

Think about our work in the historical context. If you look at classic photographs, think about what makes it special. The modest old photographs of fashions and window displays look incredible. However, these same photographs may have seemed ordinary when they were shot. If you could go back in time and take photographs, what do you think might interest you. This may be much different from what other photographers were shooting.

Is there any part of your life, that you believe will be interesting in the future? What will change? In the future, will people spend every second staring into their cell phones will huge headphones on their heads, disconnected from the world around them? Who knows?

Try not to take things for granted. If you feel yourself disregarding something in your life, think about why you feel this way. Occasionally, the situations you want to ignore, make the best photographs. So, pay careful attention to the things that are going on around you.

4. Create Themes and Consistency in Your Photos

The more you shoot, the more you’ll notice that you’re attracted to certain photographs. Find consistencies when editing, then embrace them. Over time, these ideas can blossom, becoming full-fledged books and projects.

Group the images together into collections. Consider the type of photograph that you’d like to add. The next time you come across a moment, fitting into a category, you can quickly notice and capture it. Every individual photograph is a work of art. Each collection of photographs is also a work of art. Play with the order of the photographs. The meaning which comes out will vary with different sequences.

Consistency does not mean you should avoid photographing various types of subject matter. It also does not mean you can’t use black and white and color photography. You may be diverse in your shooting methods and techniques. You can change your style and evolve as you go. However, you should still group consistencies into a project so that the photos fit together.

5. Repetition

The key to improving your photography is repetition. You must take frequent photographs to keep your eyes sharp and improve your hand-eye coordination. Over time your instincts will improve. The more often you take photographs, the better you will be. Don’t get rusty. Even the best photographs must continually work on their craft, to maintain and improve their skills level.

The key to improving your photography is repetition

If you learn to enjoy the act of photography, it will be easier for you to walk out the door and shoot more. You should not have to wait to feel inspired. Photography is not about being inspired or uninspired. If you enjoy walking, you can create a plan for how you can take photographs while you’re out. Just like going to the gym, you need to stick to your plan if you want to see results. Over time, this plan will become a routine and your enjoyment will grow.

There’s no need to worry about bringing back great photographs. This might happen, but you should not feel said if you don’t get anything good during your session. Good photographs will come in time, however, if you often feel frustrated, it can affect your shot. Enjoy the process of being out in the world. Do something you love. The more you enjoy that, the better.

6. Photograph Where You Live

You can use where you live as a backdrop for a project, whether you live in a small suburb, or the middle of a big city. Look for an area that you frequent most and know best. Go to a place that you think would be boring for photographs. Then, you can figure out how to get the best photos. Don’t take anything for granted. Anything can make a beautiful and good photograph. It only takes dedication.

7. Emotion and Gesture

A photographer’s job is to pass on an idea or emotion to the viewers of their work. How you do this, is something you should figure out. Search for emotions and feelings when shooting. Aim to create evocative photographs.

When photographing people, capture them while portraying emotions. This can be shown through facial expressions, what they’re doing, or their body gestures. Sometimes, you may capture unique looking people with no gesture or emotion, which will ruin the photograph. Other times, you’ll capture the image of someone that you didn’t think would be a great subject, but their gestures and emotions can make the photograph. When you photograph people, emotions are essential.

8. Zone Focusing

In street photography, zone focusing is one of the hardest technical skills to master, but it’s important to learn. At first, you’ll screw up many of your photographs, however, over time it will become more accurate. This is the best way to obtain a sharp photograph.

Zone focusing works well in busy areas. However, this technique can be used anytime, after your skill improves. I personally zone focus 60 percent of the time, then use autofocus for the rest. If your subject is still, and you have time to autofocus, it’s good to use this feature to guarantee perfect focus. The rest of the time, zone focusing should be used.

What is Zone Focusing and How Is It Done?

Zone focusing is a strategy that uses manual focus for your camera. You must guess the subject’s distance. This means you’ll need a distance meter in your camera or on your lens. You must set your camera, or lens, to manual focus. Then you can set your focus to a specific distance from the camera. I prefer a distance of 8 to 10 feet, although I will use a smaller distance in a really busy are where people are close together. Next, determine how far away the person is from the camera and now you know that all subjects ate that distance will be sharp.

You can do zone focusing at very large apertures, even f/2. However, this can become difficult. The focusing strategy will work better with the f/16, f/11, and f/8 apertures and a wide-angle lens, like the 35mm. This ensures your image has a large depth of field, but you must make sure you raise the ISO in order to achieve this effect and still maintain a fast shutter speed.

There may be a significant area in front of the spot you’re focusing on, and behind it. Everything in this area will be in sharp focus. This can help when you miscalculate distance, such as when the perfect moment occurs and you’re not able to focus on the exact area or if you have several subjects at varying distances and you want all their images to be relatively sharp.

It’s a good idea to start zone focusing in an area with bright sunlight while using a wide-angle lens. Then, you will be able to shoot at f/16 or f/11, which means more of your images will be sharp. This gives you less to worry about. Set the focus at 8 to 10 feet away. Pay attention to your subject, more than what you’re focusing on. This can be a very freeing experience for a photographer. Any time you’re able to save time by not having to focus will make it easier for you to capture moments. This will help you catch instantaneous and spontaneous moments as they appear.

6 Tips To Help You Capture Action Within Your Wildlife Photos

6 Tips To Help You Capture Action Within Your Wildlife Photos

Even using the top-end DSLR cameras and the fastest lenses, it can be tricky to catch fast movement within your wildlife photos. The physical speed on your autofocus might not be able to track and keep up with a moving subject. Due to the limitations that your equipment might have, you might discover that you miss a fight going on between two animals or a flutter of wings.

Fortunately, there are a few things that can be done to overcome these problems. The following are my best tips for capturing action within your wildlife photos successfully.

1. Pay Close Attention To Behavioral Clues

Animals are really good at providing information about what they are about to do next. When you pay very close attention to the subjects you want to photograph, then there is a good chance you can predict the future and end up with a great chance to capture something amazing on camera. You can frequently apply a general overall rule to a certain class of animals, instead of having to learn a hundred or more different cues from all kinds of different species. For instance, when a bird is getting ready to fly off, a majority will lean forwards first and before taking flight appear “twitchy.”

While I was photographing a greenshank, it was taking a bath in a puddle that was in a field. Based on my experience, I knew that after preening and bathing that birds shake off or fluff their feathers. I properly composed the image, then I waited while having the subject in focus and having my finger ready on the trigger. Probably after waiting for around 20 minutes, eventually the bird stretched its wings out and I clicked my camera shutter.

What made capturing this moment possible was having the ability to anticipate this behavior. If I had attempted to jump into the action after seeing the stretch, this action would have long been over before I could even get my camera focused. I applied this same principle to another image. I discovered a black-headed gull who was washing itself and dipping his head underwater. Soon after finishing, the gull threw droplets into the air. What made the image possible was waiting in position.

2. Don’t Use Live View

live mode that comes with your DSLR camera

With wildlife photos you shouldn’t touch the live mode that comes with your DSLR camera. It makes it very difficult to do tracking, and anytime you engage autofocus your live view will go off and the mirror will flip down. Due to the way you have to end up holding your camera, things also become unstable. Stick with using your viewfinder instead. It is a lot easier to track your subject and react quickly with that method.

3. Use A Shutter Speed That Is Sufficient

Of course you need to have a sufficient amount of available light. However, you also need to make sure you use a fast enough shutter speed for freezing movement. One general rule that you will want to use in order to avoid having camera shake is to have 1 over your camera’s focal length. For example, when using a 400mm lens, in order to avoid camera blue your shutter speed should be a minimum of 1/400th second.

However, the rule still might not provide you with a fast enough shutter speed for freezing the subject. Adjustments may be required since animals frequently move very quickly. A good option for flying or fast running animals is 1/1000th second or higher. In terms of what shutter speed you will need, it depends on what you’re wanting to photograph, and exactly how you will be shooting it.

One good tip is making sure you review your images whenever possible and check to make sure you are using a fast enough shutter speed. Zoom in on your LCD and check for motion blue. Increase the shutter speed if you find any.

4. Don’t Stick With Your Tripod

If you feel comfortable holding your camera, then perhaps you can get rid of your tripod. Certain tripod heads, such as ball heads, can restrict you when you are attempting to follow a subject that is moving when it does a lot of stopping and starting. When you have to undo knobs in order you to move your camera, it can really slow you down.

When you free your camera from your tripod it let you move about freely. Engage the vibration reduction on the lens of your camera. That will help to eliminate camera shake. However, if you use a fast enough shutter speed you shouldn’t have that problem.

5. Use Continuous Focus

You should switch over to continuous focus mode on your camera in order to track focus on a moving subject. If you’re having to refocus manually continually due to your camera locking onto one spot after focus is achieved, then most likely you will be one step behind whatever animal you are trying to photograph at all times. Continuous mode helps to prevent the lane of focus from shifting.

6 Tips To Help You Capture Action Within Your Wildlife Photos

Make sure you check the menu on your camera and locate the setting that chooses whether pressing the shutter or achieving focus receives priority. You should set it to shutter. That will ensure you can fire frames off at those opportune times.

6. Lay in Wait

If the focusing motors on your equipment are too slow and unable to keep up with an animal that is moving, you need to change your approach. Search for patterns of behavior, like the route an animal make take on a regular basis. There is a good chance that they will pause at certain places. Focus on that spot, and point your camera directly at it. Then lay in wait, and as soon as the animal comes into view, then fire your shutter.

Whenever you are trying to follow a bird while it is in flight, try to set your focus on a plane that the bird is going to pass through. By this point you will need to be in manual focus. Pan right along with the bird, and hold the shutter down to use the burst mode as the animal passes by you. If you have timed things right, hopefully one of your shots at least will be in focus. In order to get the focal plane adjusted to an optimum distance you will need to do this several times, and have some luck on your side as well!

4 Tips To Maximize The Use Of Your Kit Lens

If you are a beginner photographer who is purchasing your first interchangeable-lens camera, most likely the camera body you choose will have a starter lens that it comes with. This is also referred to as a kit lens. Usually kit lenses are priced quite inexpensively and are found on a manufacturer’s offerings lower end. A majority of experienced photographers turn up their noses whenever a kit lens is mentioned. However, as technology keeps evolving, kit lens continue to improve with every new camera release. So if you just bought a camera, check out the following four tips to maximize the use of your brand new kit lens.

Why Should A Kit Lens Be Used?

As previously mentioned, kit lens work best for those who are just getting started with a specific model of camera. If you don’t know what lens you should buy for your new camera, go with the kit lens that is recommended. The first kit lens that I invested in was when I first entered into the mirrorless world and bought a Sony a6300.

I was intending to use this camera for casual travelling, so I didn’t want to buy an expensive Sony lens, so I just went with the 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom lens that was included. This lens choice was not only cheap, but it was very compact as well due to its retractable zoom. The kit lens of course had lots of different pros and cons to it, but after doing some practicing with it, I was able to take shots that rival the ones taken with my L-series lenses and full-frame Canon DSLR. The following are a few practical tips to help you get the most from your news kit lens.

1. Usually kit lenses come with variable apertures.

The kit lenses from a majority of camera manufacturers come with variable apertures, which means as the local length is increased, the minimum and maximum aperture sizes decrease. The feature is what makes the lens a lot less expensive than fixed aperture lenses. However, for experienced photographers it can be very frustrating when they want constant aperture (like f/4 or f/2.8) on all focal lengths. But most likely variable apertures won’t matter that much to casual and beginning photographers.

The Sony 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 is most certainly a variable aperture lens, which basically compromises packing the focal length into a very small physical space. In general this was fine since I was mainly shooting landscape and street photography during the day. However, not having constant aperture did become very frustrating whenever I tried to shoot in low light conditions.

2. Know what limits your kit lens has

Before you use your kit lens to start shooting away, you need to realize that there is a reason why they have a stigma attached to them. Very rarely do kit lenses offer the finest image quality. Instead it’s a trade-off for them being less expensive and more compact. For my Sony 16-50mm kit lens that’s definitely the case.

4 Tips To Maximize The Use Of Your Kit Lens

The lens has a fairly decent mid-range zoom, thank to its retractable zoom that is packed into a very small body. Its size actually rivals the Sony 20mm f/2.8, which is the camera maker’s official pancake lens. However, as a compromise, there is a tendency for images to be on the softer side, and when using 16mm to shoot wide there is obvious distortion. Also, the variable aperture on the lens does come with some limitation whenever you are shooting without flash in low light. Becoming familiar with the limitations of your kit lens will help you make adjustments to your expectations and provide you with a better understanding of what you can photograph well using the lens as well as what you might struggle with or not photograph very well.

3. Find the sweet spot on your lens

For all of our discussion of kit lens limitations and compromises, it’s very important to also recognize that every lens does have a redeeming quality – which is its sweet spot. When it comes to the exact process of discovering the sweet spot of your lens, there is much that could be said. However for a brief summary, the sweet spot when shooting produces the sharpest possible image using that lens. Based on my experience using the Sony 16-50mm kit lens, the sweet spot for it is 35mm at f/8. Even then the images aren’t as sharp as I want them to be, since the corners of the frames still are fairly soft. However, when it comes to the abilities of the lens this is when they are at their best.

4. Use a prime lens to supplement your lens kit

As previously mentioned, typically kit lens suffer the most in terms of producing really tack sharp images as well as trying to work in low light. Investing in a prime lens is the best way of combating this while remaining in a price range that is affordable and that doesn’t add a lot of bulk onto your gear.

The prime lens that you end up selecting will vary depending on your photography style, your budget and the brand. In general, it is best to opt for a prime lens in the 35mm to 50mm range, given that the closest focal composition for the human eye is 35mm. For my Sony setup, I chose the 20mm f/2.8 pancake as the prime lens for supplementing my 16-50mm kit lens. Now I can use my prime lens whenever ultimate image sharpness is critical and for shooting in low lighting conditions.

Summary

The first essential step that you need to take in mastering how to use your lens is to understand what your kit lens limitations are. Those limitations become more obvious the longer you experiment with and use it. You can also learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of a specific kit lens through reading critical and user reviews online.

4 Tips For Supercharging Your Lightroom Workflow

In this article, we will be discussing four tips to assist you with supercharging your post-processing and Lightroom workflow. That way you will be able to spend more time on photography, which is the part you actually love doing!

The Issue

It can be a very time-consuming and daunting task to have to go through several hundred photos following a photo session to the point it can feel more like an unpleasant chore than a creative and enjoyable part of the overall photography process. Those late nights of staring at the collection of photos on your computer monitor can really take all the fun away from photography. It may make you want to throw your computer monitor out the window, and toss your camera gear in the garbage and look for real estate prices on desert islands so that you don’t have to edit a photo ever again in your life.

Fortunately, a majority of image editing programs come with some kind of built-in photo management system to help with streamlining your editing. A set of tools comes with Lightroom that have continued to be perfected over the course of many years worth of iterative development. They can really help you with cutting down on the amount of time you need to spend on your post-processing workflow. Whether you are just getting started with photography or are a seasoned veteran, the following are four technique you can use to help you save valuable time and perhaps bring back your artistic spark that you might have lost somewhere along the way.

1. Create presets of your own

A majority of people realize that Lightroom provides an extensive selection of built-in presets for you to use. You can even purchase additional sets. However, although these can be very useful, they may not meet all of your specific photography needs. If you are anything like me, you have a tendency to use the presets as your starting point and then continue tweaking your images endlessly. However, it can be tricky at times to get to the right starting point.

The solution for this is user-created presets. Lightroom allows you to save adjustments in any combination as a Preset within its Develop module that can be applied at any time to any photo. When going through my initial photo imports I find this very useful. I like to add some vim and vigor to my RAW files coming out of my Nikon D750 right away. So on import, usually I apply a preset that I made and named “Nikon RAW Import. It adjusts shadow levels, white, black and a couple of other parameters. It provides me with a great starting point for practically any image and when editing helps save a lot of time.

Saving Your Presets

In order to make presets of your own, go into the Develop module and then changing your sliders values dial in the levels of noise reduction and sharpening that your prefer and adjust the tone curve and you will be 90% done. Once you have created your initial edits, go into the Develop menu and select “New Preset.” Choose the parameters you want to include in your Preset. Finally click on “Create.”

Now your Preset is ready to use and can be applied with just one click to a set of images or one image. You can do this through choosing them (via the thumbnails) within the Develop module. Just right-click on the images you and want and then select “Develop Settings > User Presets > Your Preset Name.” Your Preset can also be applied to all of your photos when you import them by going to the Import screen and choosing the option “Apply During Import” located on the right-hand side of the screen. Pull down the menu called “Develop Settings” and your presets will be in the list.

As an added bonus, it is even possible to share your Presets by navigating over to the folder where they are stored on your hard drive (“Preferences” menu > Presets > Show Lightroom Presets Folder), and then copy the file that has your Preset data in it and then share it with whoever you want to.

2. Sync edits over multiple photos

This option is something that photographers are crazy about! You can save so much time for your Lightroom workflow through using this one odd trick! It might sound cheesy and something that might be found on a used car site, but it really is true in this case.

Over numerous photo sessions you’ll end up having dozens of images which are fairly similar to one another and therefore can frequently benefit from having the same kinds of adjustments done to them. For example, you photograph a wedding and end up with 20 very nice images of all of the groomsmen getting ready in the church office and adjusting their vests. It could easily take you 5 to 10 minutes to adjust the noise reduction, color saturation, highlights, black levels and white balance. Finally you have one photo looking just right. Then you suddenly realize there are still 19 more for you to do. At that point you thinking about how much you could sell your 70-200mm lens for on Craigslist since you know it’s going to be another long editing session of staying up way too late and drinking too many cups of coffee.

Syncing Your Processing Setting

There is actually some hope after all! To sync the edits instantly from your first photo to all of the others that are similar, choose the initial image while in filmstrip view which is located on the bottom of your Develop panel. Next hold the shift key down while choosing the rest of the images and then click on the Sync button, which is located in the lower-right corner of the screen.

You can select which edits you would like to sync, and then once you click the button, all of your other images are edited instantly just like your first one. You have just saved a ton of time. You are very welcome.

Or you can use the Copy/Paste option for copying edits from one photo over to another one. However, you can only do this with one photo at a time. In my experience, the Sync option is a lot more useful.

3. Use the White Balance Eyedropper

As a beginner digital photographer, I was the type of individual wanted to do everyone on my own. Auto mode? No thanks, I can set the exposure on my own. Autofocus? No, I don’t think so.

I learned over time to let go some of my tendencies except for one glaring exception. For far too long I stuck with setting the while balance in post-production on my RAW files.

wbeyedropper_grande

Setting the white balance properly is the absolute foundation for most photo editing. Usually you can achieve a good result if you fiddle around with the Tint and Temp sliders long enough. The problem is that takes a very long time, particularly when you have hundreds of images to work on. It takes lots of guesswork as well as trial and error to get the white balance just right.

How To Use The Eyedropper

There is a strange icon located on the left-hand side of the Develop module’s Basic Panel. It looks like a light saber or maybe a medieval dagger. It is actually an eyedropper. It can help you a great deal when it comes to getting the proper white balance to use on your RAW files.

Click on the icon and then locate a slightly gray (neutral) spot on the photo. Not pure white, but a bit off-white to provide Lightroom with a reference point for calculating the value for how the other colors in the photo should look. It neutralizes any shift or color cast in the area. Then in half a second your photo is now white balanced correctly. However, in case it doesn’t look exactly right you can still use the sliders to make adjustments. When you use the eyedropper, it isn’t a totally guaranteed method. However, it almost aways will get you very close or right on the mark.

4. When Culling Images, Flag/Reject

Recently I was chatting with a friends who takes lots of photos of his children using his DSLR. He said that for him one of the toughest things to do was going through his images and removing the bad ones. So his solution is just to not delete anything.

If that sounds like you, whether you happen to be an amateur or profession, and you aren’t able to bring yourself to click on the Delete key whenever you are looking through your photos – Lightroom can help you.

supercharge-lightroom-workflow-flag-reject

Maybe you did a family portrait session and you got 20 pics of just dad and mom, 50 that were taken in burst mode with their children sitting on their laps. And also a few hundred when the pet ferret joined in on the shoot. It would be easy to discard some of your imaged due to them being poorly composed, or out of focus, but what about all of the others? What about the ones are still pretty good but also fairly similar?

Flagging Images In Lightroom

When you are in Lightroom and scanning through your library, the arrow keys can be used for moving from one image to another, and the X and P keys are for marking images as rejects or keepers. Tap on the X to give is a small black flag that denotes it is a rejected image or tap on P to give a pic a white flag.

A Rejected photo isn’t worthy or your consideration while a flagged pic is one you have highlighted as being especially good. When you mark a photo as Rejected it doesn’t delete it. That way you can go back any time and look at it later if you want to. However, as you are culling it does signal to you that it doesn’t need to be considered.

Filter Your Image

The filter bar located on the bottom of your screen can also be used for showing only the images that are Rejected, Unflagged or Flagged by clicking on the corresponding icon. If you mark an image improperly by accident, just press on the U key in order to remove its Rejected or Flagged status.

Using the Rejected and Flagged marking has reduced my editing time by a significant amount and will most likely decrease yours also. In a similar way, the number keys 1-5 can be used for marking images to give them one to five stars. You can also use the number 6-9 for labeling images with various colors. I don’t find these as useful as just using the Rejected/Flag method while doing my initial culling. However, I do find it a lot more useful when deciding, for example, which of the images are worth showing to clients, sharing or printing or are the very best images.

Your Turn

I hope you find the above tips to be useful. Definitely there are a lot more options to help make your Lightroom workflow go even smoother that we don’t have time to cover in just one article.