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77 photography techniques, tips and tricks for taking pictures of anything

Portrait photography techniques, tips and tricks
Improve your photos of people with our quick and easy camera techniques
Portrait photography technique 01: focus on the eyes
While eye contact is not always desirable in a portrait, sharp eyes certainly are.
Manually select an AF point that’s positioned over one of your model’s eyes, or use the central
focus point to lock focus on their eye.
Then, with the shutter release half-pressed to keep the setting locked, recompose
your picture before taking the shot.
Portrait photography technique 02: using a standard or telephoto lens
Wide-angle lenses are a great choice for photographing environmental portraits,
where you want to show a person within a specific context. However, wide-angle lenses
used close-up will distort facial features and creative unflattering pictures.
A better choice for portraits is either a standard lens or a short telephoto lens. The classic
portrait focal lengths for a full-frame camera are 50mm, 85mm prime lenses and a
70-200mm zoom.
These will help to compress features and provide a more natural-looking result.
Portrait photography technique 03: use Aperture Priority mode
Aperture Priority gives you direct control over the aperture, and as a result the depth
of field (DOF).
Fast prime lenses, such as 50mm f/1.4 and 85mm f/1.2 enable you to choose very
large apertures for a shallow depth of field. This can help you create those creamysmooth, out of focus backgrounds that give portraits a professional quality.
Working with such a narrow band of sharpness means that you need to be accurate
with focusing – the entire portrait will look soft if you don’t focus accurately on the
eyes.
Portrait photography technique 04: using window light
You don’t need an expensive home studio lighting kit to take amazing portraits – a window and a
reflector can help you achieve stunning natural results without spending too much.
Position your model at an angle to the window and use a white or silver reflector to
open up any shadows across their face. A silver reflector will give a crisper quality of light than
a white one, although the effect won’t be as subtle.
Be aware of any colour casts that may be introduced by features on the other side of
the glass as well – a lush green lawn can give skin tones a sickly quality, while late
evening sunlight on a patio will reflect lots of warm light.
Portrait photography technique 05: high-key portraits
Deliberately choosing to over-expose a photo to create a ‘high-key’ effect results in a
light and delicate look that can enhance feminine portraits and pictures of children.
The trick is not to blow the highlights in-camera, but rather brighten up the shot later
in software such as Photoshop.
Shooting RAW files will give you the most editing head-room, as you’ll be able to extract
more detail across the tonal range in raw compared to JPEGs.
Portrait photography technique 06: baby portraits
When it comes to lighting baby portraits, natural light is the best choice. Flash will

set your camera in its fastest drive setting. They’ll be more active and alert than at other times of the day. Portrait photography technique 10: family photo posing ideas Think about how your arrangement of people in a group family portrait can tell a story about the relationship between the different members. poking the camera into their face. then the aperture doesn’t have to be so narrow. Photos may end up full of noise. the lower ISO sensitivity you can use for the best quality photos. but shooting in short bursts will ensure you capture a fleeting range of expressions. and you’re more likely to get the kind of cooing baby portraits that parents will love. and even then the shutter speed may not be fast enough for sharp images. Portrait photography technique 08: shooting in burst mode Whether you’re taking a child’s portrait or a group portrait. The more light you can get onto your subject. To ensure everyone appears sharp. and that will be more noticeable in the final picture. By grouping the rest of the family around them. Portrait photography technique 09: posing group portraits When you’re arranging a group portrait. A simple idea is to place the emphasis on the patriarch or matriarch of the family. But if you’re taking an indoor group portrait. Fit a wide-angle lens and shoot without looking. having a range of shots taken fractions of a second apart means you can easily swap faces in Photoshop. Portrait photography technique 07: photographing children Taking photos of children is fun but challenging. photograph them just after a feed or when they’ve woken up first thing in the morning. Sit the children in front of it and have the adults standing behind it. However. use furniture – whether that’s a sofa for indoor shots or a gate for outdoor portraits – to break the group up. putting taller people at the back and shorter people at the front. Even if you don’t capture everyone’s eyes open or their beaming smiles.just end up spooking them. For larger family group photos. Get them used to the shutter sound and not having to look down the lens and smile. . you’ll be able to create a clear focal point. It also improves your chances of getting a shot where everyone’s eyes are open in a group portrait. It’s easy to miss clashing colours while you’re focusing on everyone’s height. you’ll need to use a high ISO in order to shoot at that aperture and get sharp handheld photos. Chat to them as you would with adults and once you’ve taken a few photos show them the results on the LCD screen. or the newest arrival. the first thing you’ll probably consider is height. A trick here is to arrange everyone in a line along the same focal plane. To catch a baby at their best. so that they feel involved. keep a close eye on clothing too. Make the most of opportunities when they’re still for a moment. such as when they’re concentrating on a toy. Keep a kids’ portrait session short and entertaining. you need to use an aperture of at least f/8 with a wide-angle lens. Play games with them: ask them of they can see their reflection in the front element of the lens is a good way to get some eye contact. Try and position them near to a window and use a reflector to bounce light into any shadows. You don’t need to machine gun the shutter release.

Landscape photography technique 04: long lens landscapes It’s instinctive to reach for a wide-angle lens when photographing landscapes. Both of these effects are tough to pull off authentically in Photoshop. The hyperfocal distance changes according to the focal length and aperture being used. Not only will it increase the amount of light available to make the exposure. It’s often desirable to get as much of a view – from foreground details to the distant horizon – to appear as sharp as possible. but a telephoto lens is also an essential part of the creative landscape photographer’s camera kit. extending shutter speeds for long-exposure landscape photography. This is the point at which the depth of field will stretch from approximately half the hyperfocal distance to infinity. choose smaller apertures and then manually focus at the hyperfocal distance. and it may also have an electronic level display that can be superimposed over the image. Switch off any lights. Your camera’s Live View screen has a grid overlay that can be activated in the menu to ensure horizons are level. Landscape photography technique 03: hyperfocal focusing technique Depth of field is an important consideration when photographing landscapes. take a meter reading from your portrait-sitter’s face and let the rest of the room slip into darkness. solid ND filters and polarising filters still have their place in the landscape pro’s camera bag. Although HDR photography and exposure blending in Photoshop have reduced the need for ND grads in the field. If your camera lacks these features. Turn your camera’s flash off and use Manual exposure mode. Solid Neutral Density filters reduce the amount of light entering the lens. the camera or the candle flames. you’ll need to push the ISO to 1600 and beyond and work with large apertures if you’re to get a fast enough shutter speed to freeze any motion in your model. strong Neutral Density filters and polarisers Landscape photographers often carry a range of filters to help them solve exposure problems or achieve an effect that’s difficult to recreate in photo editing software. Landscape photography technique 01: using ND grads. otherwise the water will appear to be running out of the frame. so we’d advise using one of the many useful hyperfocal smartphone apps available to do the calculations for you. and boost the contrast between blue skies and white clouds. . use the rows of autofocus points you can see in the viewfinder as a rough guide to keeping the horizon straight. If you’re planning a candlelit portrait shoot. To increase the depth of field. use more than one candle. This is especially true if you’re shooting seascapes.Portrait photography technique 11: candlelight portraits When you’re taking photos by candlelight. Polariser filterss remove reflections from the surface of water and shiny leaves. They’re also more fun to do in-camera… Landscape photography technique 02: level horizons Most of the time you’ll want the horizon in a picture to be level. but it will allow you to spread the illumination for softer shadows.

Landscape photography technique 07: tilt-shift landscapes Tilt-shift photography enables you to combine the sharpness of large lens apertures with the extensive depth of field you normally associate with small apertures.A telephoto lens enables you to compress the elements of a scene. HDR photography essentially involves taking a number of photos at different exposures – either manually or using your DSLR’s autoexposure bracketing function – and then blending the best bits of each exposure into a single image. The most convincing tilt-shift landscapes combine an element of hardware (trains. do it later in specialist software like HDRsoft’s Photomatix. By using your digital camera’s raw picture quality setting rather than JPEG. you’ll record a colour image that you can convert to black and white later in photo editing software such as Lightroom or Photoshop. Landscape photography technique 05: HDR landscape photos High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography enables you to capture detail in all areas of a picture – from shadows through to highlights – that you normally couldn’t squeeze into a single picture. However. making the foreground and background appear closer together than in a photo taken with an ultra-wide lens. by tilting the lens to give an ultra-shallow plane of focus and. do it later in specialist software like HDRsoft’s Photomatix. Tilt-shift lenses are expensive though. cars) and a raised shooting position to mimic the view of looking down at toys on a bedroom floor. Zoom in with a long lens and mountain ranges will seem more tightly packed. for more control and flexibility. However. . Landscape photography technique 08: black and white landscapes If you want to take great black and white landscape photos. Being able to simplify a scenic often makes for stronger pictures. Enthusiast and semi-pro DSLRs like the Canon EOS 5D Mark III and the Nikon D800 have built-in HDR photography modes that do the blending for you in-camera. boats. for more control and flexibility. so why not create a fake tilt-shift miniature photo in Photoshop? The results can be just as effective. which can be both tilted (to control the plane of focus) and shifted (to correct any converging verticals). Telephoto lenses can also make it easier to compose landscape photos as they capture a narrower angle of view compared to wide-angle lenses. you can make landscapes look like miniature models. HDR photography essentially involves taking a number of photos at different exposures – either manually or using your DSLR’s autoexposure bracketing function – and then blending the best bits of each exposure into a single image. Enthusiast and semi-pro DSLRs like the Canon EOS 5D Mark III and the Nikon D800 have built-in HDR photography modes that do the blending for you in-camera. trees in a forests more densely populated. Landscape photography technique 05: HDR landscape photos High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography enables you to capture detail in all areas of a picture – from shadows through to highlights – that you normally couldn’t squeeze into a single picture. This is achieved by using a tilt-shift lens. shoot in colour. However.

Fog. Landscape photography technique 09: panoramas Instead of using an ultra-wide angle lens to try and squeeze an entire view into a single frame. as the difference between razor-sharp and just sharp enough is slight. Even though you’re shooting in raw format. nothing beats the thrill of doing it in-camera. split-toning the image or adding a colour-popping effect. snow and featureless skies will provide a suitable blank canvas for this type of picture too. you can position the point of focus precisely. Macro photography technique 02: choosing the best aperture To increase the depth of field – the area in front of and behind the subject that you’re focusing on that appears acceptably sharp – you’ll need to use small apertures.Doing it this way means that you have full control over the black and white conversion. Manual focusing is made easy with your DSLR’s Live View. why not try shooting a panoramic landscape photo instead? To build a panorama. Look for single trees. Landscape photography technique 10: infrared photos Although you can create a fake infrared effect in Photoshop. manual focus and a manual white balance preset – to ensure consistency across every picture. often square and frequently realised with the help of Neutral Density filters. You won’t be able to use it for regular colour photography once the IR conversion has been carried out. Landscape photography technique 11: minimalist landscapes Usually black and white. so accurate focusing is critical. When you take the pictures that will be combined to make the panorama. even though you’re recording a colour image. as even small movements of the camera can throw the focus completely off. select the Monochrome picture style on your DSLR. minimalist landscape photographs are more about what you leave out than what you leave in. Depth of field (DOF) can be measured in millimetres when you’re shooting close-up details. The latest version of Photoshop’s Photomerge app is particularly adept at this process. particularly if you’re using software that stitches a panorama automatically. This will give you a useful black and white preview of the image on the rear screen. Go easy with the focus ring though. they’re not always necessary. You’ll also need to use a tripod. Infrared landscapes can be in black or white or colour. Macro photography technique 01: manual focus Switch off autofocus when you’re taking macro photos. first take a series of overlapping shots with the camera positioned vertically – this will give you much larger panoramic image than if you use the camera horizontally. use manual settings – manual exposure. it’s worth considering getting an old DSLR converted to infrared. For the best photos. Telephoto zooms will help you to frame interesting details that would make for a great minimalist landscape. . such as using dodging and burning techniques to make specific areas of the photo brighter or darker. Although specialist panoramic tripod heads are available. with both offering a very different look and feel. By magnifying the area you want to focus on on the Live View screen and turning the lens’s focus ring. but it’s much more convenient than having to mess around with IR filters on an unconverted camera. lone clouds and isolated rocks.

To be able to see what will look sharp and what will look blurred. Any slight movement – even the vibration caused by the mirror moving inside the camera – will increase the risk of blurred pictures. When combined with the Live View magnification control that allows you to zoom in and check focus on specific areas of the image. it becomes even more useful than checking DOF through the viewfinder. Depth of field preview also works in Live View. The image will get darker. dial in large f-numbers. Avoid the highest f-numbers that your lens offers though. such as leaf or feather. as this will lead to soft pictures as a result of diffraction (where the light is bent out of shape by the aperture blades in the lens). . position your DSLR so that the back of the camera is parallel with the subject. Macro photography technique 07: make a DIY a reflector It can be challenging to ensure a small subject is evenly lit. This is especially important when you’re shooting frame-filling shots of flat subjects with strong patterns. it makes it impossible to judge the depth of field at smaller aperture settings. Macro photography technique 03: using depth of field preview The image you see through an optical viewfinder is always shown at the largest aperture available on the lens.Switch to Aperture Priority mode. or shoot using Live View (where the mirror is automatically locked up) and trigger the shutter using a remote release or the camera’s self-timer. You’ll need to be spot-on with your focusing though. Macro photography technique 04: parallel camera trick To make the most of what little depth of field there is. while completely defocusing a lens can lead to abstract blurs and beautiful bokeh – a trick that’s often used in contemporary flower photography. as the wafer-thin depth of field leaves little room for error. as this will enable you to manually set a specific aperture. try using the focus stacking technique in Photoshop to increase the depth of field. If part of the image is blurred it will ruin the impact of the photo Macro photography technique 05: break the rules You don’t have to use small apertures to make an impact with macro photography – using the largest apertures available on your lens is just as an effective technique. such as f/16 and f/22. If you can’t get everything you want sharp at a single aperture setting. particularly if you’re using a shorter macro lens to take life-size images – the camera will need to be very close to the subject and this can limit your creative lighting options. This will stop down the lens to what’s known as the working aperture. and this can lead to slow shutter speeds and long exposure times. although you’ll get the cleanest looking shots below ISO 1600. press your camera’s depth of field preview button. Although this gives the brightest available picture. For small apertures. Macro photography technique 06: sharper photos Small apertures reduce the amount of light passing through the lens. activate your camera’s Mirror Lock-up function. To combat this. so you’ll need to let your eyes become accustomed to the change. Increase the ISO to get a faster shutter speed if necessary. Using wide apertures and selective focusing to sandwich a sharp subject between a blurred foreground and background is a popular food photography technique.

even an item of clothing could provide a soft. Macro lenses with longer focal lengths will enable you to restrict what makes it into the background of a picture. not just because that’s when the light is invariably at is best. you get more room to position a flashgun or other light source near to the subject. Wind is the enemy of the garden photographer. even background that helps the subject stand out. Knowing the behaviour and habitat of the animal you’re photographing is key. as you’re less likely to disturb them. For long-stemmed flowers and plants try using a specialist macro support . set your alarm clock.A simple reflector goes a long way to solving this problem. matte prints of blurred natural backgrounds you’ve previously taken – hell. A DIY solution is to tie the stem to a cane that you’ve wedged into the ground next to the plant. spider webs and other delicate objects. That might sound like we’re stating the obvious. but the best wildlife shots are rarely taken on the spur of the moment. Macro photography technique 08: using longer macro lenses Macro lenses with longer focal lengths offer the same 1:1 magnification as those with shorter focal lengths. good fieldcraft makes a bigger difference to getting a frame-filling shot. The extended working room also makes longer macro lenses a better choice for bug and insect photography. and the best locations and time of year (and time of day) that you can expect (or are allowed) to get close to them. plus a tripod that can get you close to that surface. Do a Google search on your chosen species. but do so at a greater distance from the subject. Because you don’t need to be as close. but distracting colours and out-of-focus highlights might still be unavoidable. All you really need is a small area of table. Macro photography technique 09: start early If you’re planning on doing some outdoor macro photography. These are essentially clamps on the end of a small stand that can be used to hold a subject in place. Macro photography technique 10: create your own macro backgrounds The quality of the background can make or break a macro photo. ditch the deodorant and be on the spot when the animals are most active – that’s usually dawn or dusk. Position it on the shadow side of a subject to reveal previously hidden details. plants. but because wind is usually at its weakest at this time of day. You can make your own DIY reflector using a piece of aluminium foil: screw into into a ball and then flatten it out again to create a more diffuse quality of light. Sheets of coloured card. It’s worth getting up early. . Wildlife photography technique 01: learn fieldcraft tricks While a telephoto lens with a focal length of at least 300mm is pretty much essential for wildlife photography. kitchen worktop or floor. Build up your own collection of backgrounds that you can substitute when necessary. Macro photography technique 11: make a macro home studio One of the (many) appealing things about indoor macro photography is that it doesn’t require a great deal of space. rustle-free clothing. Wear camouflage or neutral-coloured. as the combination of a slight breeze and the slow shutter speeds typically required for close-ups can lead to blurred images of flowers.

Manually choose an autofocus point that corresponds with the animal’s eye. and it’s easy to do that with portraits and landscape photography – less so with wildlife photography. A collapsible rubber lens hood can work well here. and you won’t be able to change the aperture as you can with a telephoto lens. For the sharpest shots. The extreme magnification means that the effects of camera shake (or scope wobble) are equally magnified in the image. Wildlife photography technique 06: use a spotting scope Big lenses cost big bucks. One solution is to turn your car into a mobile hide. It’s manual all the way. but you’ll usually have to shoot through wire fences or glass enclosures. although you’ll still need to avoid sudden movements once you’re parked up. use a beanbag – or even make your own DIY beanbag – to support the lens on the door frame. If you leave it to the camera to select an AF point it’s likely to focus on the part of the creature that’s closest to the camera – and that’s likely to be a snout. that’s why a hide or blind is an essential part in the professional wildlife photographer’s kit. It’s also harder to get sharp images when digiscoping. However. However. too. you can attach a DSLR or compact camera to a spotting scope and get frame-filling shots of distant birds and animals. nor the time to sit in it for days. A professional-quality 600mm lens costs the same as a small family car. allowing you to press the lens against the glass. Wildlife photography technique 03: taking photos of garden birds Practise makes perfect.Wildlife photography technique 02: use your car as a hide Getting close to wild animals and birds is the most difficult part of wildlife photography. you’ll need to get the front element close to the glass in order to reduce reflections. activate the camera or lens’s stabilizer and switch the car engine off to stop any vibrations. a beak or claws (depending on how close you’re getting!). Using an adapter. The trick here is to set up your own garden bird studio. There are drawbacks: you won’t have autofocus. Clamp a branch in place in front of an uncluttered natural background. you get even more magnification for much less if you go the digiscoping route. When you’re shooting through windows. over time. hang a feeder close by and. we don’t all have a suitable location in which to set up and leave a hide. . birds should start using your branch prop as a landing post before heading to the feeder Wildlife photography technique 04: Practice at the zoo Zoos and wildlife parks provide the perfect opportunity to hone your big game photography technique. Wildlife photography technique 05: take eye-to-eye animal portraits Make the effort to get down to an animal’s eye level as this will result in a more intimate portrait. Wild animals are surprisingly tolerant of vehicles. A good way to get to grips with the basics is to photograph garden birds. focusing on animals that are far away from it and using a large aperture to create a shallow depth of field can make the wire fence almost imperceptible. Getting as close as possible to wire fences.

switch to Manual metering. and that’s particularly true if the animal is looking to the left or right. For consistent exposures. such as patch of grass or a rock. Wildlife photography technique 10: sharper photos with a monopod A big. You can now recompose your picture and be sure that the animal should be correctly exposed. where the lines on the grid cross. while the moving background is recorded as a blur (as long as the shutter speed is slow enough). Alternatively. activate Live View and use its 3×3 grid display. as this will help you develop your eye for stronger compositions in-camera. so they appear sharp in the photo. while light subjects can appear too dark (underexposed). Off-centre compositions are often recommended for more balanced images. do what sports photographers do and use a long lens on a monopod. very often it’s a case of nothing happening for ages and then everything kicking off all at once. heavy telephoto lens requires a big. or its most important feature. It’s an essential technique to master for birds in flight photography. lugging this kit around can slow you down – a good thing for considered compositions. Wildlife photography technique 09: use manual metering for consistent exposures Many animals have either very dark or very light fur or feathers and this can cause problems for a camera’s metering system. If you need to do a lot of chasing through the undergrowth. . Treat a monopod as another weapon in your arsenal rather than a substitute for a tripod and you won’t go far wrong. heavy tripod and specialist tripod head if you’re going to get shake-free shots. a lens fitted with an image stabilizer that has a panning mode will help. Dark subjects can come out looking too light (overexposed).You’ll also need plenty of light. The idea is that the subject stays more or less in the same position within the frame. Using a tripod fitted with a ballhead can help to ensure that the pan is as smooth as possible and the image is sharp where it needs to be. Wildlife photography technique 07: Panning with animals and birds Panning is a technique where you move the camera and lens to follow a moving animal. Try to keep the original aspect ratio. When it comes to positioning the animal off-centre. you gain in mobility. but another thing entirely when it comes to following an active subject. but there are a few tricks you can use. Compose the shot so that the creature is off to one side and with more room in front of it to ‘look into’ than behind it. What you lose in the stability that three legs provides. Wildlife photography technique 08: better composition With wildlife photography. and adjust the aperture and shutter speed until the exposure indicator lines up with the ‘0’ on the exposure scale in the viewfinder. use the camera’s AF points in the viewfinder as a guide. point the lens at a mid-tone subject in the same light. Position the entire animal. as the effective apertures is small and consequently shutter speeds can be slow. Try improving your photo composition by cropping the shot later in your preferred photo editing software. Composing pictures quickly can be a challenge. However. If you’re shooting handheld.

it also makes it easier to create a balanced exposure. Combine this with a touch of underexposure. you can just use the actual focal length of the lens as a guide – if you’ve got a 300mm lens fitted.6. to reduce noise and achieve clean colours and to get the most from the camera sensor’s dynamic range. Night photography technique 03: choose the wrong white balance A quick and easy camera technique to enhance landscapes photographed at night is to use the Tungsten white balance preset. low ISO sensitivity and the slow shutter speed it entails. If you do. You’ll be working with long exposures. Obviously this is just a rule of thumb. you shouldn’t let the shutter speed be any slower than the equivalent focal length of the lens being used. Night photography technique 02: set up early It’s better to set up your tripod and camera equipment before it gets completely dark. This is tuned to reduce the warmth of pictures taken in artificial light. and even scenes shot during the day can appear as if they were taken at midnight. such as at the zoo or other captive animal collection. Floodlit architecture often looks its best when the sky is a deep blue colour rather than coal black.5 or 1. . so the lens’s focal length needs to be multiplied by this amount for the ‘safe’ handheld shooting speed. then the minimum recommended shutter speed for blur-free pictures is 1/300sec. Wildlife photography technique 11: safe shutter speed for handheld photography For sharp handheld photos. Not only will this enable you to compose and focus shots more effectively. but it’s sound advice when it comes to night photography. An APS-C has a crop factor of 1. Night photography technique 01: use a tripod It’s become rather a photography cliche to recommend a ‘sturdy tripod’ for general photography. You can of course use a high ISO sensitivity in order to get faster shutter speeds. On a full-frame camera. However.It’s a perfect choice for those locations where there’s not always enough space to set up a tripod. If you shoot raw files you can leave the white balance adjustments till the raw conversion stage. and it gives scenes shot in moonlight a cool blue tone that accentuates the mood. and in brightly-lit areas of towns and cities this can make handheld photography at night possible. The same 300mm lens fitted on an APS-C body would need a shutter speed of around 1/500sec for sharp handheld shots. it also allows you to capture some colour in the sky. tree or railing. Night photography technique 04: shooting light trails The classic night photography technique. you run the risk of blurred photos through camera shake. and the actual speed you need depends on your handholding ability. requiring patience and persistence rather than a ton of specialist camera kit. whether the lens has stabilization and whether you’re able to brace the lens on a fence. As well as adding depth and interest and providing a cool contrast to the warm lighting. whether the animal is moving or not. even with the aperture at its largest setting. there’s no substitute for a tripod. as well as fine-tuning the exposure then too.

To make a photo where the moon looks large enough in the frame you’ll need a telephoto lens – and the longer the better. and focus the lens at infinity. Make sure the focal point is in the centre of the frame. and try adding a blip of flash to add a sense of sharpness to static objects. Keep the shutter held openwith a lockable remote release for several minutes. it often pays to shoot numerous exposures and then blend these together in Photoshop. Judging the perfect light painting exposure for a given scene and power of your light source. You’ll need to set the camera to Bulb mode and use a lockable remote release to keep the shutter held open while you illuminate the subject. Using Bulb mode. set a low ISO to reduce digital noise. but exposures typically run into many minutes. Switch your camera to manual settings. try this technique with the camera fixed to a tripod. Photographing the sky at night as the Earth rotates can take hours.8 to gather as much light as possible and keep exposure times comparatively short. You’re really looking at a 400mm lens as a minimum. look away now – or at least move to the next night photography technique. pictures will feel much fuller and livelier Night photography technique 05: photographing star trails If your’e not a patient photographer. which gives the equivalent view of a 600-640mm lens when attached to an APS-C DSLR. For the straightest streaks.Simply use a slow exposure to render a moving light source – whether that’s car headlights or a fast fairground ride – as bright streaks through the frame. it’s a photography technique that comes alive with night photography. This way. You may find it requires an exposure of 30 minutes to record a substantial amount of trailing. so capturing the best moon photos comes down to preparation and prevailing weather conditions. and time your shots to record the maximum amount of streaks. Shooting a number of shorter exposures and stacking these in Photoshop to build a dramatic rotating starscape image can help to reduce digital noise. When shooting car light trails or bursts of fireworks. Keep the torch moving to prevent any hotspots. Light painting is a popular photography technique that can be used on everything from still life photos to sweeping landscapes. colourful light trails that transform the most mundane scene or subject. Night photography technique 06: light painting Try using a torch or flashgun to ‘paint’ a scene during a long exposure at night. Lock the camera off on a tripod so that other elements of the picture are captured sharply. compared to doing it all in one long exposure. and check the exposures using the histogram on the rear screen – the light-painted features should be bright but not burning out. . and a wide aperture such as f/2. Night photography technique 08: photographing the moon The rise of a full moon is one of the most predictable things in nature. Zooming the lens either in or out during a long exposure while there are artificial lights in the frame creates bright. Night photography technique 07: zoom bursts While a zoom burst can produce dynamic photos in daylight.

Getting ‘in amongst it’ allows you to react to situations faster. By suspending a lightweight pen torch from a ceiling using a length of string and sending it spinning. Night photography technique 11: indoor photo projects Taking photographs indoors in the dark can be just as rewarding as shooting outdoors at night. A small.Take a test shot and check the histogram. they’re more likely to confront you. Street photography technique 01: choose shorter lenses Avoid using long zoom lenses for street photography. You can also make your own DIY lens flare buster for night photography using a simple piece of black card – it can really make the difference when you’re shooting under strong street lights. so make sure the torch is secure! Other tabletop home studio projects which work better with the lights off include smoke photography. It’s easy for the moon to be overexposed and you may need to dial in negative exposure compensation to reduce the brightness level Night photography technique 09: remove UV filters If you use a UV or Skylight filter to protect the front element of your lens. and use reflections in puddles to add brightness and colour to dark foregrounds. and this can have a positive effect on your street photography. One fun photography project to try is to shoot creative light spirals or spirograms. now is the time to remove it. Street photography technique 02: camera settings for fast reactions Don’t walk around with a camera pressed to your face. If someone clocks you ‘sniping’ from a distance. rivers and canals can be used to capture reflections of buildings too. but street lights can cause flare just as readily as the sun. standard zoom lens that offers focal lengths somewhere between 24mm and 50mm forces you to get closer. This will protect the lens from bumps and scratches. Of course. but you’ll miss potential pictures. Fit a lens hood instead. Take the time to absorb yourself in your surroundings before you start taking pictures. We’re more used to shielding the front element during daylight hours. a tripod-mounted camera and a remote release to fire the shutter. and also block stray light from entering the lens. Night photography technique 10: photographing cities at night In terms of technique. Head out on clear nights following a day of rain. Leaving a UV filter attached for night photography will just create internal reflections – particularly noticeable effects when the moon or light sources in the frame. Rather than making you inconspicuous. water drops with high-speed flash and light-painting a still life photo. . photographing buildings at night draws on the familiar low light principles of long exposures. these will actually draw attention to you. Not only will you look conspicuous. You’ll need to position your camera directly beneath the torch. It’s easy to overexpose brightly lit buildings. so take a test and check the histogram – activating your camera’s highlight alert function can provide a quick guide to potential hotspots too. you can record the light patterns it creates using a long exposure.

Shadows can also be used as a strong visual element – and even become the focal point themselves. Try shooting from a high position and allowing people’s shadows to take on a life of their own… Street photography technique 05: shooting from the hip Try taking street photos without looking through the viewfinder. Street photography technique 03: best locations for street photography Rather than running around a town or city chasing pictures. as even small adjustments to focal length and the position of the camera can make a significant difference to the success of this technique. Select your camera’s Program mode. you’ll be able to put yourself in a position where subject and background come together. The greater the footfall. so you can concentrate on grabbing the shot. the more opportunities there will be for taking opportunistic photos. Finally. Use continuous drive mode so that you can burn through frames when needed (although time your shots to capture the ‘decisive moment’). We’re not talking about harrassing individuals. Continuous focus will allow to track action. . shot from above. start shooting in Program mode as the camera will set both the aperture and shutter speed (and ISO in Auto ISO mode). chasing the around the streets. are a good place to try this photography technique. turn the camera’s control dial to enter Program Shift mode. If you keep your street photography local. If you need more depth of field or a faster shutter speed. This approach will work best in areas that you know well. follow them. unusual clothes or interesting looking dog crosses your path. make the most of the opportunity. Street photography technique 04: find graphic shapes in cities Look for a location that offers clean lines. Look for crowded areas where there’s a constant stream of people. But if someone with memorable hair. you’ll need to react quickly to the fleeting moments that make for the best street photography. set the drive mode to Silent if your camera offers this feature. choose a wide pavement for your street photography as it will give you more room to work.That said. although you’ll need to manually select a focus point to prevent the camera locking onto something you weren’t expecting. Go for a walk on a busy street with the camera on a strap over your shoulder. bold shapes and strong design. and press the shutter release in short bursts. An old woman walking past a poster advertising underwear is a predictable choice that doesn’t say very much. and have built up a mental map of prime locations. and framing people’s legs and the pavement against an interesting backdrop. Previsualise your photo and then wait for the right people to walk into shot. Or why not try getting low. stake out a promising location. without slipping into photographic cliches. Street photography technique 06: follow an interesting subject Once you spot a subject with potential. Review your shots regularly on the rear screen. and manually pre-focus the lens at around five or six feet. Street photography technique 07: use juxtaposition Look for ways in which you can capture unreal or witty street photos. On a practical level. Stairwells.

Shooting candids is likely to mean working at the longer end of a zoom lens’s range. Juxtaposition and forced perspective can also work hand in hand… Street photography technique 08: using forced perspective Force yourself to finding a camera angle that enables you to bring two unrelated and often quite distant objects into the same world. Shoot colour images in camera and do the black and white conversion later in software. Carnivals. Take some example photos with you so that you can show that you have a passion for photography if you are confronted on the street. and use a fairly small aperture to extend the depth of field through the scene. road signs and vehicles can all be used to add vibrancy. but bear in mind the sensitivities of certain subjects and locations. Alternatively. you don’t want a subject to see you and get angry – or start smiling for the camera (although it’s good to get a few examples of this type of shot in the bag. but you get the idea). such as Big Ben. or someone ‘leaning’ against an iconic landmark. urban art. Actively look for colour to give your street photos a stand-out quality. Chances are. street parties. but remember that this may draw attention to you. You’ll need the objects to be in similar light to create a convincing effect. On a smaller scale. Think of a fountain in the background appearing to spring from a bottle in the foreground. check your results and speed up or slow down the exposure as necessary. Try using it to show the movement of crowds around one of those silver-sprayed street performers – just remember to give them a tip! You’ll need a tripod to pull off this technique with precision.But finding a composition where the billboard advertising is ‘interacting’ with a person – a giant hand appearing to push her along – is a different case altogether. fit a standard ND filter or polariser. Street photography technique 09: candids One of the hardest aspects of starting out in street photography is building the confidence to take pictures candidly. Street photography technique 11: emphasise colour The urban environment can be populated with rather drab colours and flat tones. balloons being carried at head height (particularly effective if the balloon has a face painted on it) or dogs appearing to drive cars are classic examples of forced perspective. Street photography technique 10: blurring people in crowds Using a slow shutter speed to introduce motion blur into your street photos will help isolate and emphasise a stationary subject. In the UK you’re free to take photos of people in public places. People in front of shop windows that provide a visual ‘joke’ make for good juxtaposition pictures (a bald man in front of hairdressers is a cliche. You’ll need a small aperture and low ISO in order to achieve a slow shutter speed. remove colour altogether and try the picture in black and white. Aim for 1/4sec to begin with. but if it’s too crowded to risk setting one up then you’ll have to make do – try resting the camera on your camera bag on the ground instead. just to add variety to your street photography portfolio). . If the lighting is too bright to achieve a slow enough shutter speed.

more even illumination. Negative flash exposure compensation will underexpose the flash – try a subtle amount of 1/3 or 2/3 of a stop to start with. get them to face in the opposite direction. particularly when it comes to portraits. then the flash exposure may be automatically increased in order to brighten things up. This will cause skin to be overexposed. ranging from the rigid plastic StoFen Omni-Bounce to larger collapsible units like the Gary Fong Lightsphere. although you can achieve a similar effect with a pop-up flashgun using a piece of white card held at an angle. as it’s all-too easy to end up dialling in compensation on top of compensation! Flash photography technique 03: flash exposure lock Flash metering can underexpose or overexpose a photo in the same way that normal metering can. but this means that people in the foreground will appear too dark in the photo. Flash photography technique 05: bounce flash Direct flash is hard and directional – shadows behind the subject will be obvious. which will result in them screwing up their face and squinting. Remember to reset flash exposure compensation once you’ve taken the photo. A wide range of commercial flash diffusers are available. although there are a number of DIY flash diffuser solutions – such as using a plastic milk carton to soften the light. The camera will do a decent job of creating a balanced exposure. Rather than asking your portrait sitter to face into the sun.adding grain and boosting the contrast for a classic old-school street photography look. . and there’s a greater risk of hotspots and red-eye when shooting portraits (although it’s easy to learn how to remove red-eye in Photoshop). However. Then take a test shot and increase or decrease this amount to taste. Flash photography technique 02: how to use TTL flash compensation If you’re trying to subtly blend a flash exposure with an ambient light exposure. The same is true of bright or reflective backgrounds. If someone’s wearing dark clothes and in front of a dark background. The flash meter will reduce the flash exposure to prevent a picture being overexposed. fit an ND filter on the lens or activate your flashgun’s high speed sync function. simply use a burst of flash to brighten up their face. Flash photography technique 01: using fill-flash in daylight Flash isn’t just for studio and night photography – it’s also useful for outdoor photography on sunny days. and lock that setting in for the next shot. if the ambient light requires a shutter speed that’s faster than the flash sync speed. use you the flash exposure compensation control offered by your camera or compatible flashgun. you may need to use a smaller aperture. Options for diffusing pop-up flash are more limited. bounce the flash from a wall or ceiling. With the sun now behind them. You can also use the flash exposure compensation function to correct this. fit a flash diffuser on the flash head. or alternatively use your DSLR’s flash exposure lock button. Most flashguns enable you to swivel and angle the flash head. For a softer. This enables you to take a reading off the subject rather than the background. Flash photography technique 04: flash diffusers To soften the light emitted by a flash.

The maximum flash sync is the fastest shutter speed at which normal flash photography is possible – typically 1/200 or 1/250sec. An orange gel will add warmth. The easiest option is to use a remote off-shoe flash cord.Bouncing the flashgun will reduce the flash’s reach. cheap flash radio triggers instead. try using simple. for instance – while others have a dedicated Night Portrait mode that does the same job. Flash photography technique 07: coloured gels for flash When you’re carrying out flash photography in areas lit predominantly by warm light – whether that’s natural warmth of sunset or the artificial glow of tungsten bulbs – the cool ‘blue’ light from a flash will be stand out a mile. which screws onto both the camera hotshoe and the base of the flashgun. and even then you need to consider how the camera and the flashgun will communicate. One way to solve this problem is to use coloured gels in front of the flash head. Flash photography technique 06: off-camera flash Taking a flash off camera gives you more creative lighting options. . A wireless flash trigger will give you more freedom for flash placement. ensuring that the flash output is balanced well with the ambient light. Many of your camera’s shooting modes are programmed to produce a well-exposed foreground subject with flash. Another option is to fix mixed white balance in Photoshop. Whichever you use. The result should then be interesting rather than obvious. These are two-piece units based around a transmitter and a receiver. Of course. after all. The limiting factor here is how fast the shutters in front of the camera sensor can open and close. helping you blend the flash light with the ambient light. make sure the camera is supported well during the longer exposure time. If your flash isn’t compatible with a wireless off-camera system. Some cameras default to slow-sync flash in certain modes – Canon EOS DSLRs use slowsync flash in Aperture Priority mode. you’ll need a flashgun to do this. Otherwise the areas of the image illuminated by ambient light may be blurred. Flash photography technique 09: high speed flash sync You need to know the maximum flash sync speed of your flashgun if you’re going to avoid flash exposure errors. and you need to bounce the light from a neutral-coloured surface otherwise you’ll introduce a colour cast to the photo. A flashgun’s high speed flash sync mode – known as Auto FP on Nikon cameras – allows you to use shutter speeds beyond the maximum flash sync. using the selective adjustment tools in Adobe Camera Raw. More expensive RF based wireless systems enabling you to position one or more flashguns completely out of sight of the transmitter. The reach of a typical flash cable is limited to a few feet though. not the speed of the flash itself – its burst is blink-and-you-miss it fast. but the background can look too dark. Flash photography technique 08: slow-sync flash photography Your camera’s slow-sync flash setting enables you to combine slower shutter speeds with flash. Slow-sync flash gets around this by combining a slower shutter speed with flash. This way you can adjust the white balance in those areas lit by flash or by the other light sources.

it can be harder to time shots perfectly. Flash photography technique 10: second curtain sync Slow-sync flash is also a creative technique to use when you’re photographing moving subjects. and this is known as first curtain sync. it means any blur from the slower exposure will be recorded in front of the subject.Use it when you’re shooting portraits in bright conditions. For instance. The downside of high speed flash sync is that it reduces the range of the flash – you’ll need to be close the subject to create a balanced exposure. The slow shutter speed will record moving elements as a blur. reducing the exposure by 2-3 stops. while the short burst of light from the flash will capture a freeze-frame of the subject. . Although this looks more natural. including the flash’s. as it will allow you to freely choose wide apertures (to blur backgrounds) without worrying about the shutter speed being too fast for the flash exposure. Although this allows you to time the flash exposure perfectly. which looks odd. You’ll need to increase flash exposure compensation by the same amount to fix this. Flash photography technique 11: underexposing the background An effective way to add drama to outdoor portraits shot in daylight is to illuminate the subject with flash but underexpose the background. Normally the flash fires at the start of the exposure. This means any motion blur appears behind the subject. The combination of sharpness and blur gives a very effective sense of motion. The technique for doing this depends on the DSLR you’re using. so it’s worth referring to the camera manual. on Canon cameras you control the flash exposure and ambient light exposure separately – all you need to do is use exposure compensation for the ambient light. Switch the flash to second curtain sync. and it fires at the end of the exposure. Nikon flash exposures are handled slightly differently: using exposure compensation reduces the total exposure.