Photo Tips

MYSTERIES OF THE HISTOGRAM UNRAVELED

What secrets are hidden in the digital histogram?
What secrets are hidden in the digital histogram?

One of the pillars upon which good photography rests is proper or optimum exposure. Without it, an otherwise outstanding photograph falls short or may be completely ruined.

If you don’t know much about histograms, and don’t want to know much about them but want to improve your digital photography here’s the condensed version of this post: Histograms show the distribution of brightness values in a photo. Check the histograms after every shot and adjust your exposure to keep the graph within the left and right borders like the histogram above. If you want a better of understanding of histograms then READ MORE…


HOW TO PHOTOGRAPH FIREWORKS

I often like fireworks photos where they spill out of the frame.
I often like fireworks photos where they spill out of the frame.

Fireworks are intensely hot explosions but photos of fireworks can be pretty cool. How’s that for some clever word play? OK, forget that… I’ve had a glass of wine…

Seriously, getting good photos of fireworks requires both knowing how as well as good luck. I can help with the first part. READ MORE…


HDR… WHAT’S THAT ABOUT?

The HDR image at the bottom right combines the best of the other three.
The HDR image at the bottom right combines the best of the other three. Click the image to enlarge it in a new browser window.

You may have heard of it. Possibly seen the letters on your camera or smart phone screen: HDR. What does that mean? What does it do? Why should you care? Glad you asked. What follows is a simplified, lay explanation of HDR but it should suffice for our purposes. I’m also including some photos so you can see for yourself. READ MORE…


MAKE BETTER PHOTOS BY CHEATING ON YOUR SPOUSE!

Stuff you find in tide pools
Stuff you find in tide pools

NO! Not that kind of cheating! I would never profess infidelity. My headline was just another cheap trick to suck you into reading this piece, like so many other cheap tricks I’ve offered up before. I always get a kick out of that. Hah! Never gets old…

Now, I do mean cheat, and not only on your spouse, cheat on everybody! So what do I mean by cheat if not engaging in a clandestine affair of hearts or loins…or both? I’ll use the photo accompanying this photo tip to illustrate. READ MORE…


“SHOOT THE MOON AND MISS COMPLETELY”

Full moon
The exposure for this moon shot was calculated using the Sunny f-16 Rule. See article text.

Have you heard the song? Shoot the Moon by Norah Jones? How does any man listen to her sing and play her piano and not fall hopelessly in love with the woman? And it’s not just Shoot the Moon. I’ve got her album Come Away With Me in my music library and it’s the most listened to of all the albums I own.

In Shoot the Moon there’s a line, part of which is title of this Photo Tip. Have you ever seen a big, beautiful full moon in the dark night sky that you wanted to photograph but when you tried it came out over-exposed, all white with little or no detail? You may have a camera that makes terrific exposures most of the time but when you shoot the moon it misses completely, giving you disappointing exposures.

Here’s what’s going on… READ MORE


MAKING BETTER PHOTOGRAPHS: WHICH CAMERA TO BUY

It’s not uncommon for people interested in improving their photography to ask me about the equipment I use to shoot my photos once they’ve seen them. Nikon? Canon? Some other brand? The thought is that with the right equipment their photography will improve.

While there is some truth to the thought that good equipment will help make better photos, I’m here to tell you that the equipment used has a lot less to do with it than you might think. It’s understandable that people ask about equipment in pursuit of making better photos. There are better, more important questions to ask, however, but people often don’t ask these questions because they don’t know what questions to ask… READ MORE

 


TRANSILLUMINATION

Transilluminated trees: sunlight is passing through some of the leaves making them glow
Transilluminated trees: sunlight is passing through some of the leaves making them glow

If you haven’t looked for it before, here’s a quick tip that can enhance your photographic results. In a word, transillumination. This means light coming through your subject.

When light comes through the subject instead of bouncing off of it the appearance of the subject can be radically altered. I’m including two photos of trees taken along the Fremont Trail in Capitol Reef National Park. In the one on the left the trees look lit up. They have a glow. This is because the sun is on the other side of the leaves from where the photo was taken and light is coming through them.  READ MORE…

 


FOREGROUND/BACKGROUND, THE LAZY MAN’S WAY

Shot using my lazy man technique.
I took this photo by bending over a little and hanging the camera down, without even looking through the viewfinder. Click to enlarge.

Years ago when I was admiring the work of photographer David Muench I noticed one of the things that set his work apart was that he sometimes had something of interest in the foreground as well as the background of a photograph. I distinctly remember one shot where a flower was in front and a mountain was distant, and both were in sharp focus. This is a pretty good trick if you can pull it off. I’m uncertain how he did it but I suspect he used a small aperture and the swings and tilts of a view camera in order to maximize depth of field. Having learned from Muench I sometimes try to incorporate something of interest in both the foreground and background of my landscape photos. READ MORE…

 


Wet Rock
This shot shows the rock after pouring water on it. The colors stand out a little more than when dry.

TO MAKE MORE COLORFUL PICTURES PEE ON A ROCK

Huh? Yep. You heard me right. Pee on a rock. How will that help you make better pictures? It’s simple really, but before I explain that I should confess, the whole pee on a rock thing was just a gimmick to get your attention. It worked didn’t it? READ MORE…

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