uk 0800230220

Pete finds it easy to take beautiful pictures.



One of the great things about photography is that it rna kes you look at the world differently a nd everything becomes a potential subject. Even the dai Iy commute or walk with the dog can be a shooting opportun ity. But. if you are in need of a spot of inspiration, you've come to the right place,

I n this packed issue of Digital Photography Techniques, the experts from Amateur Photographer and What Digital Camera have put their heads together to offer a healthy dose of good advice, top tips and, of course, some cracking images. Whether you want to improve your landsca pes, photograph garden bi rds, try your ha Ild at natu tal-light portraits or get a bit closer to your subject, we've got something for you. As the nights start to draw in towards autumn, the good news is that you don't even have to wait for the sun to rise; we've got plenty of ti ps on how to capture

stu n ning night-time landsca pes and: tackle

pa i nting with light - it's easier than you might think, Angela Nicholson

,I J J


The great outdoors Top shots:

Getting it right

Follow these tips and learn how to get It ,i !fht I n an y situ ati 0 n

06 City scenes

34 Street portraits

58 Twilight city views

Reader portfolio

Inspirational images from readers

08 Stewart Hardy, bold architecture 52 Ga ry Newma n. long exposu res

How to shootu~

Follow these steps for great outdoor images

13 Great landsca pes

22 Motion pictures

47 Macro photogra phy

60 Night landsca pes

66 Painting with light

78 Garden birds

82 Infrared

Improve your shots

Expert advice fortaking better photographs

37 Macro

41 Macro master

Rough guide to ...

Lookingto buy new gear or baffled by teohnology? We've got all the info you need

30 Tripods

70 Flasll

75 Newtechnology

The great indoors Improve your shots

How to improve the images you take at home and indoors

89 Set up a home stud io

How to shoot •..

Top advioe for creating stunning images in your home studio

92 lightboxstililife 94 Torchlight portraits 96 Torchlight still life

98 Home-studio portraitu re

,Making it better~u The last resort

OUf step·by.step guides to

perfeoting your images on the compute,

20 Add a digita I NO grad filter effect 56 Dodgi ng and bu rn i ng to add contrast 102 Creating clearerskin in portraits

Cover image Adam Burton

i nfo@adam-burton.co.uk www.adam-burton.co.uk




Getting it right: citbJ scenes


::J .c o c ill o

Restricted depth offield

We are rema rka bly good at i nterpreti ng images and we intuitively

u ndersta nd how much blurring we expect to see in a scene of a certai n scale. But by blurring the foreground in this shot, the scene seems shallower than it actually is. In restricting the depth of field, Dan manages to fool us into thlnklng that this scene is actually a model rather than the real world.

Great background

During the Beijing Olympics, the Aqu atics Centre became famous and its space-age construction is now instantly recognisable. By i ncludi ng it in the background, Dan has given this scene context, without making the picture solely about the bu ilding itself. The blurring of the background also contributes towards the 'min iatu risation' of the people mi II ing about.



Take time to study your scene and consider what the most important elements are withi n it, and determine which parts need to be exposed as a midtone. The relative darkness of the foreground helps to di reet the viewer's attention towards the central part ofthe scene.

White balance

Choosing the correct wh ite bala nee is essential for getti ng your image looking as you wa nt it. With such a large a rea 01 bright bl ue, some cameras' automatic white balance systems would overcompensate and make the centre of this shot too wa rm.

Always one to find an original angle, awardwinning Guardian photographer Dan Chung used a Nikkor PC-E 85mm f/2.8 tiltand-shift lens to 'miniaturise' the Beijing Olympics' aquatics centre

The checklist


Try to find a novel angle from which to photograph your subject, especially with scenes that are recogn ised throughout the world.


The time of day that you shoot a city scene makes a huge difference to the number of people in theframe.


A tilt-a nd-shift lens is a pretty specialist piece of kit, but trying new lenses or using a favou rite optic in a different way - perhaps with the aperture wide open - can be a great method of reinvigorating your photography.


Take a good look at your subject and decide what it is you want to captu reo Is it the shapes, the colours or the subtle tonal gradations? Think about where the light should come from a nd if needs be, come back when the su n is in the right position.



From: Edinburgh www.tlitedimage.com


The 040X was released in 2007 as a 10MI' upgrade to the 8MI' 040. rthas now been discontinued, but it can still befound for sale online and second-hand



Nothing beats getting out into the countryside with your camera, so here's Colin Varndell with ten tips that will help you capture great landscape images

Colin's experience in bothlandscapeand wildlife photography means he always knows how to get the best shots www.ocllnvemdeiLco.uk

_..L. __ ____'

How to shoot ...

1. Create strJking foreground Interest

Foreground Interestoan create drama and,

a real sensed depth. In raot, one of the oldest tricks in the landscape book is toshootwith a wideangle lens and include subject matter in

the Immediate foregrou nd. The baslc characteristic oftha wideangle lens is

its inherentlq greater

depth offield. Which has

the effect of drawing

the viewer into the

picture. Try tocapture a subjeot that either creates a striking contrast with the background or subtlld complements the ecene while creating Interest


2. Focus on fog

Never underestimate fog as an excellent weather condltlon torlendscepe photography. Fog or mist often ocoursjn spring due to the contrast between night and dal,ltime temperatures. when the cool night air causes warm, moist airin valleys to oondense.ln WOOdland fog acts as a masstve diffuser. m akl ng dlstanttrees fade Into the background to create an atmosphere of my sterid. The brightness of fog ormistcan fool an exposure meter so take your Initial readings from the rnldtone, then take the shot and oheok !dour histogram. These conditions will inevitabl'!d dictate slow shutter speeds, especially, if the lens is stopped down, so use a tripod" a cable release and your mirror look-up faoility Of !d0u have one}

4. Avoid areas of white light

overcast days are Ideal for photographing woodland scenes. But it is important to keep a watohful Elide for small glimpses of skid that manifest themselves as white light. If you don't get bJour crop right youoan flnd~ that white light oreeps into the top of the frame and will ultimatelbJ distract from the overall image. If ldoU crop in tight and ellmrnate all sky. as I have done In the Image below, the viewer's Interest oan be focused solelbJ on the forest scena,


How to sheet. ..

5. Use a long lens to isolate a portion of the landscape

While it Is easy to become attached to a wldeengle lens when shooting expansive countryside vistas, sometimes choosing a lens with a longer focal length and cropping in on one specific element of the ecenecan reap greater reward. Of course, In certain circumstances It's wcrth recording the whole scone; if the light is exceptional in one particular part of the scene, though, why not focus on that part alone? This approach can also afford you an unusual take on an oft-captured view

6. Shoot in low evening light

By, the middle of the day, the sun is high In the skid and It produces light that Is far too h ars h for shooting landscapes. Shadows are verld short and the form of the land is hidden. Use this time wisely to do your legwort and check out potential shooting locatlona, This approach will help you find images without wasting good light, so that you can return later in the day when the sun is raking across the landscape almost holizontaliid. As you can see above, an otherwise conventional line of fields and trees is brought to lite bid the low evening sun and lovely, long shadows.


8. Make good use of colourful wild flowers

Be it bluebells, daffoldils, daisies, dandelions, sunflowers or poppies, flowers can inject a Fabulous splash of colour Into the landscape,

With the right crop, they can even fill the entire scene. Head down to bJour nearest woodland, park or field , and use either jdour macro lens for close-ups, or a wldeangle optlo to feature them

as foregrou nd Interest

9. Use converging verticals for impact

When you point a wldeangle lens

upwards it will distort vertical shapes and linesthe result of which is often referred to in photographic terms as converging vertlcats. Take advantage of this phenomenon by. swinging bJour Wide lens 900 upwards to take in the forest canopy. The tree tops will converge together from all corners to create a, great Impression With plenty, of lrnpact. On a,oIearday, the green leaves will contrast nicely with the bright blue of the sky.

10. Try using filters

Experiment with filters to enhance landscape shots, Diffuserfilters can produce foggy effects and are Ideal for creating atmospheric woodland Images, while polarising filters oan Inorease colour saturation, especiallbJ in blues and greens_ Polarising filters also remove reflections tosorne extent and can be used to

great effeeton watsrin ~ ... ..:. the woods, a polarisercan remove some of the sheen from the foliage.


Enrol on a course and start improving your photography today!

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The Foundation in Digital Photography teaches you how to use your digital camera,

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Making it better: NO grad filter effect

The British weather isn't the most reliable in the worl d -it can be blue skies one minute, and then overcast the next. A graduated neutral density filter (or ND grad, as they are also known) can ma ke an overcast sky more dramatic and hel p to reta i 11 h ighl ight detail. Sadly, even the most prepared photographer


sorneti rnes forgets to pack their ND grad, but tha nkfully a similar effect can be replicated using image-eo iting software, as long as there is still highlight deta il in the sky.

By using a layer mask and an original and adjusted image ,it is possible to use tile Gradient Fill tool to make it look like a filter was

used when the image was taken, Furthermore, the digital technique is very simple and ca n easi Iy be applied .. Those photographers who use Adobe Photoshop Elements, and who don't have a layer mask facility readily

ava ilable to them, can still create tile effect using the sim pie work-a round shown right.

How to create an NO grad filter

Replicate a graduated neutral density filterto help create a more dramatic sky

1 Open up the image you are going to be workingon -a landscape shot with an overexposed (but not completely burnt out) sky works best. Du plicate this i mage onto a new layer by selecting Layer>DupLicate Layer and name it 'Darker'.


2. Ma ke sure that the Darker layer is selected a nd use the Levels or Curves tool to adjust the image to make the sky darker. Don't worry about the foreground becorru ng too dark, Just concentrate on recO'<'erlng deta il in the sky.

3 I n the Layer palette, create a new layer mask on the Darker layer by usmg the button at the bottom of the palette.

4 Selectthe Gradient Fill tool from the Tools palette. It is found paired with the Paint Bucket tool. Select a black-to-white gradient.

6 The dark side ofthe grad ient creates a

. hole in the layer mask that reveals the

. original layer below wh ile leaving the darker lop half on show. If the effect is too strong, repeat step five or lower the Opacity of the Darker layer.

5· Use the Gradient Fi II tool to add a black-to-white gradient to the layer mask. Unlike an optical ND grad fi Iter, apply the da rk side of the gradient to the bottom of the adjustment layer (the dark side of anN D grad filter is usually applied to the sky). Hold down the Shift key while you drag the tool from bottom to top to keep the line straight.


Unfortunatelbl,Adobe Photoshop Elements does not feature laljer masks that can be applied directlldto Image lablere However. there is an easid W81d around this bbJ appllding a lald.er mask to an adjustment layer.

you,'11 see a new. square thumbnailth is icon represents the layer m ask for the adjustment layer.

3,0 make the

adjustment layer work you needlo create a clipping group, which groups together the De rker

I eld.er with the adjustment laldsr and its lalder mask. To do this select the Darkerleyerand press CTRL +G.

1 Carafully follow steps one and two in the main tutorial.

2 Create a newLevels adjustment ISljer between the Background and Darker layer by selecting the Sac·kground ISblerand then selecting Labler-lNew Adjustment Lalder-lLeveIs from the menu. Don't adjust any of the levels, just select OK. Nextto the Adjustment Layer leon on the Layers palette

4 Now simply select the adjustment labler mask and continue from step 4 in the main tutorial.


The ore detail our cameras are able 10

ca era, su bject and phologra pher ove ent,

resolve, the greater ou r appetite, It see s, for

shutter speed and supple entary lighting.

subject movement, sh utter speed and

Niall is a pro landscape and nature photographer from Scotland and a regular ccntributorto What Digital Camera www.lrnegeefrcmtheedge.ccm

110W tile ca era is moved (if at all) - there is

How to shoot ...

portray subjects that move naturally, Blur can emphasise speed or dyna mism and that's just not appropriate wi til , say, a boulder. Having sa id that, rna ny people eruoy making blurred images of trees by moving the ca mera up or down during the exposure, in harmony with tile subject's form, though latera I panning

du ring the exposure rarely works. Del i berately blu rred photographs rely on a strong compositional structure to hold them together much more so than sharp images do; a lot of blending ofform, texture and colour is

ha ppening already and therefore the need for strong, obvious shapes is helghtenedit the pictu re is to be deciphered by the viewer.

Aside from the obvious portrayal of motion, blu rring can also lend a subject an emotional dimension; with its identity ill-defined, it becomes more mysterious and intriguing.

I am especially keen on portraying people in

a landsca pe this way because if you show someone in detail, the viewer can build a story round til em with the setting ta king second place. If, however, they are un recognisable, they become part of that landscape, a mere presence moving through it. It also saves the need for model release tormsl

Motion at night

We move into different emotional territory

du ring the very long exposures needed as it gets da rk - and the scope, by default. to represent movement. The latest generation of DSLRs have su perb low noise capa bility and once cran ked up to ISO 1000 exhibit (i n a well-exposed shot) no more image noise than an I SO 200 image shot with an older camera,

Leave tile shutter open for 15 or 2 0 seconds and you can shoot when it is too dark to see clearly Skies will typically acqu ire a strong blue cast, sympathetic with that time of day, and the effect is particu la rly attractive when the re are reflect i ve surfaces su c has wave s or pale pebbles to borrow this cool cast. Most fascinating of a II is to see the form that movi ng subjects - especially moving water- acquire during these long exposures, and 110W that varies between shots.

Within u rba 11. a reas long shutter speeds present endless opportu nities to convey subject movement, with the lighttrails left by moving traffic and the spinn i ng I ights of

fai rgrounds provi ng to be popular subjects.

We often hea r people comment, Iavou rably, that a painting looks Ii ke a photogra ph. Well, here is au r cha nee as creative photogra phers to get ou r own back and make pictu res til at have a quality of distance from ou r normal visual experience, and are ill possession of an emotional content on Iy ever found in the

very best paintings.


Subject movement

If l,louwantto contrast a sUbJect·s movement with Its still surroundings, mount the camera on a tripod end choose a shutter speed slow enough to give the desired degreeofblur. This depends on how far the subject Is from theoameraand how fast lrsrnovlog, but l,lou csn sta rt off at 118 orl/15seo an d see how that looks. Pictures of birds tn flight generally require faster shutter speeds andyou may, need to pan with them to aohleve the light belenoe of sharpness and blur. Above Nikan D3, 1/15580 at 1/4

Panning with a moving subject

The un predictabilitlj stakes are at their highest when both camera and subject move, ideally with the former In pureultot the latter. Horizontal panning delivers a streakid background while retaining a degree of sharpness on parts of the subject, and is a great way to conveu that the subject is in motion. It'S a popular technique with subjects such as motors port and; horse raoing but can be applied to anid subject in lateral motion, as shown here. The trick isto move thecamera With the subject to keep It In roughly the serne areaof the frame. Press the

shutte r button while panningthe camera and continue tofollowthrough for a moment after the picture has been taken. The shutter speed !,I.oU'11 need will varid depending on how fast the subJeot Is moving and the effect ljou want to achieve, but for pictures like these two a speed of between 1/30 and 11400c should produce a. good result. Tr1,l1115sec as a starting point. In bright light you'll need a low ISO and small apertureto achievesuch low speeds. Above Nikon D3,80-200mm, 1liOsecat f1l8, ISO 200 Left Nlkon 03, 24-70mm, 1I6sec at fl22 , ISO 200


How to shoot ...

Moving clouds

Capturingthe movement of clouds across an open sky: usually requires a long exposure time of several seconds. This means yoU'll need atripod and, if ljou're shooting in thedaljtime, probably

a neutral density filter over the lens to cut the light

level down to enable slow speeds.jesse Estes took this beautiful lake view in Oregon, USA, at sunnse. With a 6&W NDS Grad fl I ter fitted to his lens, plus a ~3EV ND grad filter to further darken the Skbl, he needed an exposureof 261oocs_ The cloud

movements during this time have recorded as blurred streaks.

Above Nikon D300, 10-20mm, 251secs attl8,ISO 200, B&W N03 Grad, -"'EV NO grad


Zoom burst.s

Mother great technique isto phld.sicalild zoom the lens barrel duling the exposure. You'll need to experrnent, but stsrt with e shutter speed of 112sec or longer and, If possible, use e trlpod_1I1Jdtfferent zoom lenses such es28-80mmor70-300mm, end vsry the zoom range and starting point fordifferent effects.

Left Nlkon D2)(, 110mm, 1/10000 etf/lO, ISO 200

How to shoot ...

Capture wind power

Wind Is a triokl) thing to photograph, what with it.beinginvisibla_ However, it is fairll,l, aOOl) to record the effects of wind on the landscape - especialll,l, in thewal,l, It blows leaves and grass,

Marl Stirling took the seaside Image below

late on a windl,l, afternoon in Februarl,l,during a brief moment when the sun peeped thro ugh the clouds.

Ell) Fitting four stops worth of ND ftltersshewas able touse a slow shutter spsed ofl/288C, which enabled her to record the motion blur of the grasses In the foreground du nes, provid Ing a oontrast to the sharpll) deftned buildings and beachjn the background. BelowGanon EOS 5D.17-40mm,

-4EV NDfilters, lf2sec at f/16, ISO 50


Essential gear

Everything you need

to capture creative, blurred images


Ideally a DSLR with low noise and high-ISO oepabillty for after-dark shots, and low 180 settings for long exposures on brighter days. If It has a Live View histogram, you can speed up exposure assessment even with the camera's long exposure noise reduction turned on (as it should be). In this

mode, foreverbl second the shutteris open, the camera will take an eculvalent amount of ~me to process the Image. This Is a nuisance With very long exposures, but the Live View histogram saves you having to wait to see if the exposure Is right.

Smote ea~e th mer

unct on

Th 1s 1s vel1:J useful when youwanttD make exposures

that are longer than the oame18'S timed speeds.


I use mbl80-200mm a lot forthis sort of work, but trbl to avoid zooming the lens during a long exposure as the result looks very mechanical.

NIALL USES: Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8 0 ED. A.LTERNATIVES: Everbl manufacturer has its own equivalent fasttelephoto, or bloU oould look at one of these Independent alternatives: Sigma 70-200mm f12.8 EX OG Macro HSM II; Tamron 70-200mmf/2.8 01 LD IF Maoro.


This reduces the amount of light reaching the sensor and allows you to make long exposures, even in very bright conditions. NIALL USES: a 0.9 (three stop) Lee ND filter. ALTERNATIVES: Choose round screw-in NO filters by HOkja, B+W, Tiffin or Kood (above), or square Slot-In lkJpes for filter holders by brands like Lee and Cokln.


Popping a flash off at the end of a long exposure Introduces an element of sharpness In an otherwise blurrkj image and adds extra dynamism to moving subjects. A TIL flash allows you to follow the action more easily, but one with manual control works well too, once you'Ve determined a good balance between daylight and flash

NIALL USES: Nikon Speedlite SB-800. ALTERNATIVES: Tum to page 70 for our Rough Guide to Flesh, and page 73 forourbuyer's guide.


YoU thought you'd get away without

one? Well you can fora lot of this work, especially if it involves introducing a deliberate shaketothe picture. But for others that contrast still and mOVing objects, blou'll need a tripod to keep thlngssharp during long exposures. Don't extend the central oolumn

if your tripod has one- you'll greatlbl compromise stabllitbl- and extend the

legs only as high as absolutely necessary. Thefewersectionsthey comprise, the better. You can add tothe stability of a tripod by hanging your camera bag

from It with a bun gee cord.

NIALL USES: Gitzo 1340 alloy tripod

with a Really Right Stuff ball head. ALTERNATIVES: For panning, a three-way head is best.

Rough guide to ...



... and other supports A reliable tripod or support is an essential tool

for landscape photography and much more. Here's everything you need to know

If you want to get serious about your photography then one of the most im porta nt accessories you can own is a sturdy tripod" Whether your passion is for la ndscapes, nature, wildlife, macro, travel, sports or portraiture, a tripod (or monopod)

is a prerequisite if you want to achieve professional-quality resu Its. Without one your creative potential will be limited.

Tripods have many benefits. They enable you to fix the camera's gaze on a predetermined spot perfect for achlevi ng precise composition and a level horizon in landscapes, or for saving your arms when you need to keep a camera and long lens trained on a nest or lair, or a corner of a ra cetra c k, for exten d ed pe rio d s.

They're great for shooting portraits, so you can concentrate on maintain ing a ra pport with the subject rather than keeping yourface hidden behind your viewfinder. Tiley ca n also hel p you achieve, and hold, high or low viewpoints that would be uncomfortable or im possible if you had to handhold the camera.

But perhaps the most obvious benefit is that they hel p photographers get sha rper shots. This is because we are a II inherently a bit shaky, though we may not be aware of it. Eve 11 at moderate shutter speeds the movement caused by our shaking reduces the image sharpness. The slower tile shutter speed we use, the less sharp our pictures become, until the blur is obvious even at small viewi ng sizes.

The answer may be to a Iways shoot at fast shutter speeds, but this isn't always practical ordesirable. You may be forced into using a slower shutter speed because the light level is too low to use a faster one a nd you don't want to sacrifice image qua lity by raising the ISO.

You may be using a slower shutter speed because you've selected a small aperture for maximum depth offield. Oryou could have chosen a slow sh utter speed because you deliberately want to introduce artistic motion blu r to a moving su bject in your composition, such as running water or car lights.

A tripod completely eliminates this ca mera movement, enabling shutter speeds of


minutes, and even hours. Alternatively, you cou Id use a monopod, which is more portable and potentially more useful when you need to move the camera quickly, butis nol as stable, though it will still provide several extra stops of useable sh utter speeds.

How slow is ·slow'?

So at wh ich point should a shutter speed be deemed 'slow' enough to benefit from the use of a tripod? The answer, rather unhelpfully, is that it depends. A speed that isn't fast enough to freeze camera shake is, therefore, too slow. But that point depends on a variety of factors. Our choice offocallength has an important part to play. As we zoom in, the lens not only magnifies the subject, but magnifies our

sha kingtoo. So, tile more we zoom in, the faster our minimum shutter speed needs to be to

freeze the action and negate any camera shake.

The rule of thumb is that the shutter speed number needs to be higher than the effective focal length the lens is set to, so if your lens is at 200mm you need a shutter speed of 1/200sec orfaster.

However, othertactors also come into play, such as the weight and balance of the ca rnera and lens combo, how we hold it, and whether the camera or lens has some kind of image-stabilisation technology, which will delay tile visible effects of camera shake by two to th ree stops ..

What is without question, though, is that the range of speeds at which you can safely

ha ndhold a camera without losing image sharpness is quite narrow, a nd to Ii mit you rself to usi ng Just these speeds is to hold you r creative potential in check.

Leg construction

All. tripods have three legs, but there the similarities end. Most tripods are made from aluminium, but thloknessand srrengthvaries greatlbJ. VerbJ light aluminium tripods are likelbJ to beflimsld, and are best avoided. Onthe other hand, the betterqualitbJ ones can be quite heavld'. Carbon-fibre legs provide the best weightistabilltld: ratio. shaving about a third off the weight while offering greate r rigiditldi. although th8!d' cost at least dou b le the p rice of comparab le aluminium legs. Stili, Ifyou·fe going 10 be carrbJlng your tripod around a lot, this premium maid be worth it.

Head and quick release plates

Manbl tripods comewlthout a heed .. so ldoU need 10 bUId one separatelysee page 32 for selection advice. Most heads come with a quickrelease plate that detaches and screws Into the bottom of Idouroamera. Attaohlng the plate before a shoot allows bJou to fit Idourcamera to the tripod almost instantly. This speeds up the set-up time and ensures that bjou never miss a shot,

Which tripod is right for you? Here's what to consider when making your choice ...

AnJlle adjustments

Most deoenttrlpods enable the legs to be opened out at a range of angles right up t0800. This mekeslteasler to setthe tripod up on uneven ground, or to splay the legs wide for low-level shooting. With Benbo tripods an the legs c an be simultaneously set to enid, angle vie a single lock.

Centre column

Theoentre column allows theoamera to be raised higher once the legs are fully extended, although this comas at the price of stabBitld,_ On some tripods the centre column can be madeto turn horiZontally like a boom arm, making It eas ler to pointtheoamera directlbJ downwa rds towards the ground, Some centre columns feature a hook on the bottom to hang your camera bag for extra stabllltbJ- Tripods designed, 10 support heavbJ cameras or lenses mabj come with a geared centre column that cen be wound: up and down. These are often combined with leg braoes for greater stabmty, though at the cost cf

leg extension.

Leg sections

Mosttripods feature telescopic leg aectlons that extend Into either

three or four sections. Three sections means there's

less ,looking and Un looking

of eaoh leg tobedone, but with four sections the tripod can collapse to asmaller size, making It easier tocarry, orro pack Into a suitoase

for travelling.

Leg covers

some tripods come

with foam leg covers. or 'leg warmers'. While bbj no means an essential feature they do make the tripod moreoomfortable to hold and carrbj, especially invery'cold weather when the

metal can. quite Iiteraliid. be freezing_


Mosttrlpodscomewlth rubber feet. but ifbJou often shoot in muddld, fields bJou mabj prefer spikes for a firmer grip. Some tripods .offe r both. with rubber feet that screw up to reveal spikes.

Leg locks

Most leg sections must be unlocked before being extended, and then locked again before USB_ Themostpopulartype Isthe quick-release lever(right). which is the speediest to operate, Twist-action 'leg locks are slower to use and more prone to slippage , but there areno ohunky attachments that stick out Premium twist looks, like those on Gitzo tripods, don't s uffer from this so much, but cost a lot more. The Manfrotto Neotec tripod bypasses leg locks altogether In favour of a clutch-based push-pull action, though at the cost of extra werght and expense.

Rough guide to ...


Tripod round-up

Here are some of our favourite tripods currently on the market

There are two main types of tripod head when It comes to stills photography; the ball head and the three-way pan-and-tift head. Here are the pros and cons of each.

Vel bon CX640 £50 WWW.INTR02020.COM

Serving thenaede ·of the budget buyer. the no-frills CX640 Isn't designed for. and shouldn't be expected to support, heavl,l cameras, orto withstand regular, heavy-duty usein a tough environment. However, it is.sturdy enough to accornmocete an entrb!-Ievel DSLR and a small kit lens. You might wantto keep a close eye and a steadying hand on It In windy conditions. but for occasional use in tranquil settings itwiU dothe job.

• Max height:162cm • Min height: 59cm

• Folded:65Cm. Weight: 1.75kg. Max load: 4kg

BALL HEADS £30 to£350

way to adjust your camera's position. typIcally, you undo one lock and the head can be adjusted in every direction before being re-Iocked to that position.. Advanced ball heads alSo employ controls that allow the biting point olthtllooking mechanism to be finely tuned. Hydrostatic ball heads use a reservoir of liquid (usually oil) as a locking mecbanlsrn instead of a clamp or pin. This means the tripod will not wear out as quickly, or move when the lock Is tightened. Alternatively, Manfrotto and Slik both manufacture tripod heads fe aturln g a spr U ng grIp-lock, where the grip is connected to a baJJ head, and allows comparable movementto a standard ball head unit. The dlsadventege rs both Increased weight and bulk.

Manfrotto 055XPROB £110 I £60 head WWW.BOGENIMAGING.CO.UK

conedered something of a design classic by many, the aluminium-built 055XPROB features a versatile centre column that can be swung round and used hcrllOntalll,l without having to remove the head. This makes it practical for use with low orgmund-based subjects, as well as more standard angles of view. Eaoh leg oan be splayed and looked to a choice offour angles ~ 230• 450• 650 and 880 ~while the length of each thraa-aectlon leg can be easily: adjusted and .locked via the quick-release

leg locke. TheS04RC2 three-way head allows for e6sb! adJustment via two ergonomioalll,l, shaped handles that can be locked in place with a couple of twists. The

head can eupportcornblnatlons of up to 4kg. Overall, this Is a very stable and solid trlpod, well suited to enthusiaste whorequire solid performance and good durabilitbj .

• Max helght:178.5cm. Min helght:lOcm

• FOlded: 65.50m. Weight: 2.4kg • Max load: 7kg


WIth three-way heads, each plane

of movement ~ horizontal, vertical and sideways (for portrait orientation or levelling the hortzon) - has its own lock, enabling movement in a single plane only. This is useful for, say, landscapes and architecture where you wantto levelthe horizon but still enable horizontal and/or vertloal movement. However,lrsslower for subjects where you might wantto adjust all the angles at the same time.



£200 with head WWW.INTR02.020.COM



This work horse is primarrnlj. a imed. at professional users of lar~erDSLRs and. telephoto lenses of up to 500mm. According toSllk, the legs ereconstructed from en aluminum-magnesium-titanium (AMD composite that offers a 40CIJo greater strength-to-weight ratio than standard aluminium. Eaoh three-section leg Is operated bld qulok-release leg locks and can baaojusted toone of three angles. There's also agaarless centre column in two-parts thatcan be unscrewed and used as ashort column for added rlgldltlJ. On top of this sits the ell-metal SH-807E three-way, head - a no-nonsense solid head designed. to support professional cameras with eBse.

• Max height: 195cm • Min height 41.3cm

• Folded: 82.3em. Weight: 3.1kg. Max load: 6.Ski')

The Giottos MTL8350Bisconstructedfrom oarbon-flbrelegs and a.dle-eastalumlnlum erown wltha neat'oobalt' paint finish. This results Ina lightwe;ghtlJet durab Ie tripod that's also rather striking. Each leg can be set to one of three angles and emplolds quick-release leg looks for the sections. It also features a n adjustable oentre oolu mn that can be locked at any anglEl through a 1800 arc. In addition, the MH1301-652 ball head features three friction controls to give Idougreateroontrolcveryourlooklng meohan Ism's bltlng point.

• Max height 1460m. Min height 210m

• Folded: 530m. Welght:l6kg

• Max load: 5kg


£540 f £260 head WWW.BOGENIMAGING.CO.UK Gitzetrlpods are the Ferrari of the tripod WOrld, with prloes to match, Thecarbon-fibre GT3541 LS Is from Gltto·s Sblstematic range and offers the ultimate combination of strength and li!;lht weight. It's also a mod ular system that can be built up with a number ofoentre column ootlons (or indeed no oentre oolumn at all) depending on the user's specific needs. Paired here with a Gitzo GH3780 ball haad that features Gitzo's patent-pending Spring Assisted Double Look rnechenlsm, tripods don'tcorne much more exotic (or cos Hy) than th is!

• Max height: 146cm. Min height: lOcm

• Folded: 55cm • Weight: 17kg. Max load:18kg

Getting it right: street portraits

Serkan Cetin used a lucky coincidence of colour to add extra impact to this street portrait

The checklist


If, I ike Serkan, you chance upon a great

portra it in the street, you may not have long to capture the shot, so have you r camera ready and be prepared to focus and fi re quickly.


A bit of local knowledge can go a long way. Serkan had seen this door before and was in the process of photographing a friend against it when this cheeky chap appeared. As luck would have it, his lolly was a Imost exactly the same colour as the door.


Wa itingfor the right light ca n make or break an image. As a rule, avoid. midday a nd shoot earlieri n the morning or later in the evening when the light is less harsh.


Make sure you use a shutter speed that is fast enough to freeze any camera or subject movement.


Going in close to a portrait subject doesn't always feel comfortable, especially with a relatively short focal length optic. Serkan used a 27mm setting here, wh ich on his N ikon 080 is equivalent to around 40m m. However, as with this shot, it can add im pact.


Props can give you r su biect something to do with their hands and make them feel more comtorta ble, especially if they <ire not a professiona I model. In some cases they ca n encou rage your subject to act up for the camera and give a beller expression.

Though the blue door in itself is interesting, it is the connection between the colour of the background a nd the boy's tongue that really makes this image. The boy has obliged by sticki ng his tongue out to d raw attention to this colour match.



Shooting in shutter priority mode at 1/200sec to ensure the subject was frozen, Serka n set his N ikon DBO to a sensitivity ofl SO 400, which meant that the apertu re was f/5. 6, This has ensured the boy's face is sufficiently sharp, wh ile the door is a little soft to sepa rate the subject from the backgrou nd. The late afternoon light is nice and soft too, so the shadows a ren't too harsh or the contrast too high.

Visualise -;

Serkan had already recognised that th is door would make a good background for a portrait and visited it at arou nd 5pm when he knew the light would be good. When the boy wandered along Serkan spotted the potential for a great shot and ca lied him over. The door's colour contrasts well with tile warm tones of the boy's skin and is a great match for his tongue!


ImprOV8bjOUr shots


Reflectors a re among the most val uable of accessories, whether you're using fill-in flash or pure natura I light. They ca 11 be used to lighten the shadow side of your subject by bounci ng light onto it from the I ight source. Reflectors come ill many shapes a nd forms. Sheets of white card or polystyrene make good im provised reflectors, while tin foil can produce a more intense, less diffused fill effect. You can buy more dedicated reflectors too, from companies such as Lastolite, which come in many shapes and sizes and fold away for easy transportation.

The ambient light won't always be ideal for macro photography so you may need to give it a I ittle help. Flash offers the intensity required when working with small apertures, and will freeze movement in subjects such as bees and butterflies. Some skill and perhaps a few test shots will be required to balance the brightness of the flash with the ambient light if you are to avoid. unnatu ral and unflattering lighting, but a skilfully ba lanced fill-flash setup can produce stunning results. However, a hots hoe-mounted flashgu n is of little use for macro because it's too farfrom the lens. The acute angle of ilium ination at close ra nge will result in ha rsh sidel ighting and deep shadows. For even illumination a dedicated macro flash is the answer, and there are two main types:

Essential gear


Macro is aile of the few areas where digital compact ca me ras are actually at some advantage over digital SLRs. A by-prod uct of having a much sma Iler sensor is that most of them ca n focus to within just a few centimetres of the subject, whereas few DSLRs can getwithin half a metre straightout of the box - to get closer you'd need a different lens or alens-modifyi ng accessory.

For a camera that will give you good-qual ity macro results right out of the box ta ke a look at the Nikon Cool pix P6000, which can focus within 2cm of the subject and offers both full manual exposure, as well as a hotshce for external flash accessories.


At close range depth of field is very sha Ilow, so small movements will cause the subject to drift in and out of focus. Stopping down the apertu re to maxim ise focus will give you ca mera shake-inducing slow shutter speeds, so you ca n 't win, The best solution for static subjects such as plants and fungus is a tripod. Not only wi II a decent tripod enable you to get sharper shots, but you'll end up with more carefully com posed pictu res too.

The Ma nfrotto 190X PROB features a centre colum n that switches to a horizontal boom at the press of a button - idea I for macro work.


Pressing the sh utter release on the camera causes some vibration that, if using slow shutter speeds, ca n translate 10 camera shake on your photos. A remote release not on Iy solves this problem, but mea ns you don't have to be right next to the camera to take a pictu re -ideal when you're photographing some nervous subjects.

Macro flash

A more versatile, but usually more expensive, option is the new generation of macro flash systems produced by the likes of Canon and Nikon, whereby a series of small, independently adjustable heads are fitted to a rig around the lens. This is a more flexible option, as you ca n adjust the angle and intensity of each head for more control, with the ability to create more modell i ng, Nikon's awesome R lCl (above) costs around £500.

Ring flash

A donut-she ped flashgun, you sim ply poke the lens th rough the hole for even, virtually shadowless illumination upon your subject. For a good value, fully featured independent option look at the Sigma EM-140 DG macro flash (around £250).



Useful for holding th ings in place, whether it be a flashgun to a fence, a reflector to a sta nd or perhaps a pia rrt ste m to a su p po rt. It's also worth keeping some wi re bag ties, bulldog clips a nd so forth for holding things ill place. One of the most versatile accessories for holding things is the Wi mberley Plamp (below) - a flexible arm with a clamp at each end (£30 from Warehouse Express).


for movi ng subjects such as bees and butterflies a tripod may prove im practica I, so one of the best ways to get sha rp pictures is to freeze your subjects with a burst offlash.

AU the main ca mera

rna nufacturers offer comprehensive macro flash systems., though for best results a dedicateo macro flash is the best option (see panel on left). Thes~ ~ re worth conside ri ng if you intend to get serious about macro photography.

Macro sliding plate

With macro photogra phy sma II changes in lens-to-subject distance can make a big difference to your picture, but precise movements a re not easy when you have to physically move the tripod back and forth. One solution is a sliding pi ate such as the Ma nfrotto 454 (below,. a round £60),. which fixes between the camera and tripod and: features a lockable sliding rail so you can va the distance from you r subject by small degrees without having to move the tripod itself.


With DSLRs, getting your camera lens to focus close enough to fill the frame with your subject is the first challenge. Here are a few lens-modifying accessories that willie! you doiust that.

Close-up lenses

These look I i ke filters but are in fact lenses that act Ii ke magnifying gl asses when screwed on to

the front of your cam era. They co me in different dioptre strengths, and you'll need to buy the

right diameter for your particular lens, so there

are a lot of combinations. Close-up lenses offer

the advantage of beingsmall, relatively mexperrsive and do not affect your exposure, but they will have some negative effect on the image quality. You may also have to swa p between different lenses to get the effect you want.

Look at the Hoya Close-Up set, which contains + 1, + 2 and + 4 lenses and costs from a round £50, depending on the diameter.

Extension tubes

Extension tubes fit between the ca mera body and lens, and enable closerfocusing by increasing the distance of the lens from the sensor. Because there are no lenses inside, they do not affect image qua lity, but do cut out tile light level reaching the sensor by up to a couple of stops, so you'll need to usee slower sh utter speed or higher ISO. Kenco produces a populargood-value set of three to fit most digita I S LRs for around £130.


Bellows offer a versatile alternative to extension tubes. Attach your body to one end and your lens to the other, a nd the image magnification can be varied by moving the lens back and forth along the rail. Bellows are bulky and relatively expensive, but magnifications much greater tha n litesize can be achieved. (For exam pie, Nikon's £450 P8-6 bellows, left, can achieve 23x magnification with the optional £250 extension.)

Macro lenses

The ulti male option for most photographers is a proper macro lens, which will enableyuu to focus from infinity right down to 1: 1 lifesize with a twist of the lens barrel. Image qua lity is usually excellent, there's no light loss (as with tubes), or fafling about with accessories. Macro lenses come in various tocal lengths, but the most common are around 50mm, 100m m and: 200mm. The longer the focal length the fu rther from the subject you can be, which is ideal for wildlife subjects. A good valu e option is the Tamron 90mm f/2.8 SP DI Macro lens, wh ich comes in most mounts for under £300.





Grays of Westminster is, a uniquely Nikon shop, offering a. Nikon retail experience that is probably the most comprehensive in the world.



......... I'IMrt. mntalnsmoNIII.ndJnuks pu squ.,. mil. thu UlJWh .... 1. in Ute Qlpitlil.

'NIth tts e! egant archItecture and wide vistas,. Westminster ,Is also the location ofa number of distinctive sllOpslncludlng Fortnum & Moson, GEo F. Trumpet, london'S barber and perfumer since 1875, BenyBfOS. & Rudd. Britain'S oldest. wine and spirit mi!l'dlants, and the dlstingulllhed banke!!, Coutts" Co.

COI'IW"j'S a sense of bo'chtradltlon

and expertise. Theirs Is an ~llntemiitlonal success story, winning num.et'OWi awards

as well as ill vast ratalogue d adcnawledgement5, acx:olades

and prizes. They haw ilworld-wide cusUlrrrer-ba$e of 35,000; theirci ients hIM! Induded the 1atI!'legendary film-dlrector Stanley KUbrldc, Ernmy-award winning actor David Suchet,. sOOies'iconTerenceDoI"IO'4ll, thecelebrtty photographer R1dMld Young. Osair-wlnnlng compantes such as Ailrdman Animations of Wallace and Grnmltfame. rooplty and many othel!.

Grays of Westminter haoe managed to retain their unique ambience coupled with legendary old-world style ...

Grays of Westmlnskr15 II .unlquely Nikon shop, ofl'eiing a Nikon

retail experience that is probably the mostcompl1l!!henslw! In the world. They provide a besp.okt! service ina distr.JI;tion,free environment. where customers can 'talkthe language of Nrkon with people who speak.it as If it were their m.other tongue; and have available perhaps d'leworld's Widest range of new .and secondha.nd Nlkon equIpment with iI

PD I icy ofstockin.g every possible Nlkon QIMRI ahd attetSQry tlley an!! able to.


In 1985 by dln!CWr'Gray L.ewtt: and both he and co-dlrector Uri Zalcay are committed to ,providing their CUSUMTIel! with 'the ultllM1e retaIl or mill I·ol'der experience Situated

In anelegantGeotgian bUIlding in Westmir1Ster;. with its Y«JOd·par1ell ed walIs andflne delks. die company

Yet~ because of their extensive a~ of new and second·hand bodies, lenses .andaccessQries, me)' are able to offer equJpment lind pelSORal aSSlmn.ce to an all·lncluslve range of customers, from young people with limited budgets wflo need pnotographlC adv.lce and cou.nsel, to professional photographers, keen enth.usiasts, or specialists from ScIence and Industry

pnd udlng Cinematography, Forensics. Architecture, Entomology, Medicine).

Expert knowledge

TheIr staff arehlghly knowledgeable, and newrustomers tan gain an introduction tothe Nikon ·systemwhilSC longo.stanciil'lg clients can ~·thelr questions comprehenslvelyanswered.cal[1lg upon over a hundred ye;iIfS of combined photographlcexpertlse. and In six languages. The'Gm)<5"tIf

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Absolua. p.rat.ulDn.lbm ~ire their unpar.llieled expansJon, Groy$ ofWestmlnmr have managed to retain theIr unique ambience mtlpled with legendary old-world .style. Speed of service does not conftld

with exemplary customer ,care. absolute professIonalism. or attention to detail.

Westminster~, P'lblisllecl twke-yearly, has also became an ,essential source oflnfotrnatlon for the Nikon enthusiast.

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ImprOV8bjOUr shots


Robert Thompson doesn't Just take pretty pictures of insects purely for their aesthetic appeal. Instead, he's one of a select breed of natural history photographers meticulously recording macro images of native wildlife as a matter of scientific record. Of cou rse, it doesn't do any harm that Robert's pictures are also quite exquisite to look at. So, how did th is quietly spoken 48-year-old from Northern Ireland become one of the world's most respected natural history photographers?

'I grew up on a I'arge parkland estate, which was like having a huge natural history garden on your doorstep, and this greatly influenced my interest in the natural wor'ld,' he explains. 'Later on in life. wh lle living in London, I became interested in photography. Thefirst camera I bought was a Pentax MX, wh ich I used to take pictu res of all kinds

of things, such as events and the usual London attractions.'

And how did th i ngs develop from there? 'When I returned to Ireland I did a lot of survey work with va rious conservation agencies, mostly covering insect groups.

I suppose it was a natural progression in that the more I became interested in the ecology and behaviou r of insects, the more I thought it would be worth recording them photographically.

'I had a particular interest in dragonflies, butterflies and moths, and realised there wasn't a lot of high-quality imagery of these species a rou nd, partly because they are immensely difficult to photograph" I decid:ed I wanted tofocus on recording these groups and their natural environment - it has been both a passion a nd a questfor me ever since.'

Medium format

Havi ng decided to emba rk 011 a career

as a natural, history photogra phsr, the next step for Robert was to equip himself with all the right kit - but where to start?

'I upgraded my MX to a professional

LX model, which I really liked for its 45" viewfinder. Given that I was spend i ng qu ite a lot of time at ground level I found it a much more comfortable system to use,' he explains.

However, even with h is back-saving viewfinder attached, Robert soon came to

rea lise the lim itations of 3 Sm m. 'I n terms of speed and portability 3Smm worked well, but I found that if I wanted to show mysubjects in relation to their ha bita! the actua I subject became quite small, especially when tryi ng 10 accommodate a good degree of backgrou n d.

'As a pertectionist I wa nted the ultimate in quality $0 I decided to moveto medium format. I found that mediu m format allowed me greater rnagn ification of the subject while still

retain ing quite a lot of the background. For what I was doing at that poi nt in time I. found it ideal. It didn't take me all that long to develop my own style and way of using the system to get the best out of it:

switching to digital

Back in the 1990s, before digital camera technology had evolved sufficiently, mediu m format was the obvious choice for Robert's chosen specialisation. However, that all bega n to change a few years ago, as Robert explains: 'M a ny natural history photographers were reluctant to use digital kit at the start, myself incl uded For me, the early cameras Just didn't offer the quality I was used to getting with medium format.

'My fi rst real breakthrough with digital photography was when I bought a Kodak Pro SlR/n; despite being prone to noise at higher ISO settings, it could produce excellent results if used correctly. It also had the Nikon mount offering access to a vast array of Nikon glass and close-u p accessories. However, it was the launch of the Nikon D2x that really changed my opinion of d igita I tech nology. I felt that it was the firstdigital camera that proved a serious contender to fi 1m.

'Currently, I own two D2x bod ies and one D3. I still use both D2x cameras, but tile D3 for me is even better - it's phenomenal. It has

certainly made a lot of my photography in some ways much easier - as it has for ma ny photographersi n other fields:

But how exactly has the D3 made his work easier? 'Well, although I'm primarily known for my macro work I also cover all aspects of

natu ral history, and this means that I sometimes need to use high ISO speeds. Not only does the D3 offer this, but it prod uces stunn ing results.

'The D3 also works fantastically well with flash, which is very important because 11 ash is such a major part of macro photographysomething that is integral to maintain Lng consistency under difficult I ighting conditions, I n fact, it's d ifficu It to m aster macro photography without fi rst mastering the use of flash - when and how to use it.'

So, is Robert happy with the way digital has changed tile photographic landscape, or does he still secretly long for the golden days offilm? 'Well, when digital camerasfinally caught on I found that most magazines no longer wanted transparencies, they wanted digital images, so digital has certainly revolutionised the photographic world in that way: he laughs. 'Perhaps it had gone a bit stagnant and in that respect digital has breathed new life into it. It has also opened photography up to a lot more people .. The quality of amateur photography today is very high as a result'


ImprOV8bjOUr shots

Images as scientific record

When itcomes to recording exquisite, pin-sharp macro images of nature, Robert has few peers. However, as a committed natura I history photographer, there is also a more serious and scientific angle to his work: 'I have a strong backgrou nd in conservation and natural history, and have authored several comprehensive books on insects and photography,' he explains.

'When I go out to take pictures I'm always looking to capture somethi ng that is not only an interesting photogra ph, but also something that is scientifically correct. This is im portent because a lot of my work is archived as

sci e n tific reco rd, so record in g t h i ngs pro pe rl yin their correct context is of utmost im partance.'

Fortunately, though, Robert isn't required to repeatedly switch between his field jou rnal and camera when on assignment in order to keep h is notes up to date. Instead, Robert now uses the voice tag function on his D3 to record all his observations. It's a solution he's clearly happy with: 'In the past it was common practice to record species information on a recording card or collect a specimen - we no longer need to do that; we can go out with a digital camera and record our observations photographica Ily. The D3 is great in th is respect because I can dictate data directly into

the camera. This might include ha bitat details and a ny other field info that might be releva nt, plus a six-figure grid reference of where the image was taken, The voice tag is linked to the digita I image file, so it becomes a scientific record with long-term vatue.'

I n addition to accuracy and detail, authenticity is another tra it Robert takes extremely seriously. So much so, in fad, that he's able to spot a mocked-up macro image at ten paces: 'I often look through magazi nes and see pictu res that have dearly been contrived to make them more attractive,' he laments. 'Often this is done badly a nd is quite apparent to those who know. I'm not interested in that kind of photography - for me it's important that all my subjects, where possible" are photogra phed in natural resti ng postures as a matterot scientific record.'

1 NikonD3


astonishing camera, pOI rtlcularly at hlgheo ISO settings, Tha larga LCD screen is an invalu able aid in the field for checking Image sharpness.

2 NikonD2x

I use the D2xvmen I need highermagnifications and lNibhstacking lenses. The seme Images, If taken on a 03. would frequentllJ require croppngreducog the oveoall file size.

3 Mamiya Pro TL

1he vast majoritbl ofmbl work theseday.slsdlgltel. ~~==:===::::=::;:::==:::::=:",, _ _J although I do still shoot with f~m on someofthe

long-term projects I am currently working on.

4 Uni-Loctripods

For consistencbl and quality; I shoot virtually every image I can from a tripod,onlyresortlngtoamonopod or hand held 'Nhen ccndltlons or the terreh make It dlffioult to use one. ·1 ourrently use two sizes of Unl-LoO tripod, each fitted with a specially designed, movable platform headforlNOrkingathighermagnification& The Manfrctto qulck-releaoo bracket and plates were also oustom-made forme by ManfrotID.

5 Macro lenses

I use NlkkorlOSmm and 200mm rnloro lenses on the 03 and 02x. and a 120mm macro lens on the Mamiya. The 200mm is my most frequently used optic. It gives me extra working distance when photographlngshYi and mobile subjects, with less chance of hlttlngthe surrounding vegetaticn. The built-In tripod collaralso allows me toohange format without having to tilt the whole camera assembly. The narrow angle of view helps to control backgroundiciutter, producing a rncreoffueed result. The lOSmm and 120mm lenses are also useful in situations where I have s hoot handheld.


Know your equipment

If you want to get serious about natural history photography, Robert advocates getting to know your equ.ipmentinside out: 'Successful natural history photography is an amalgamation of two disci plines: first, your knowledge and skill as a naturalist and your abil ity to research su bjects, and second, you r tech n ical abil ity with a camera. The two are inextricably linked.

'The choice of lens is importa nt because it affects the overall look of the image. A longer focal length macro lens produces better differential focus, and the restricted a ngle of view affects how the background vegetation looks, compared to using, say, a 50mm macro lens. I n the majority of cases 50mm isn't practical as you end up casting shadows over your subject or distu rbing them.'

With this in mind it's hardly surprising that

6 Telephoto lenses

I use a Nikkor300mm telephoto lens for portrait shots of orchids and fungi and the like, and when Iwantto gIVe a soft. diffused Iooktoan Image where the background and foreground is welloutof focus.

7 Wideangle lenses

The 24-70mm on the 03 and the 17-SSmm onthe02x aremy most frequently used zoom lenses. I find them Indispensable when twent to illustrate a subjeot in relation to Its habitat

8 Flash units

Flash Is an esoontial part of the macro ph.otographelS kit Apart from my own braoket designs. I frequently usetheNikon R1Cland SB-29smacroHashSldstems on small subjects andathlghmagnlfloa~ons,andfor shooCilNcontrolonsunnydOlys.Forml-lnnash lusea stngle nash an the 1<1Cl. which I can rotate to whatever positionlneed.l use two wireless Nikan Speedlight 88-800'S off-camera. with the cammanderunit from the R1Clwhen Ineed·mcrepowerandheightThe Metz units are used WITh the Mamya in similar situations,

Robert's lens of choice allows him to keep his distance when working:: 'I use a combination of equipment depending on the result I want, or how close J feel I can gettothe subject. I have a N ikkor 200mm micro lens, wh ieh I use probably about 70% of the time. It has a tripod collar, which means J can rotate the camera into a vertical composition without havingto lock the camera on its side - a big advantagei n tile field. Of course. it also gives me a greater workingdistance, which means I can stand weLl back from the subject and not disturb it.'

According to Robert, there is an optima I time of day for shooting. 'It is im portant to choose the righttime of day,' he says. 'I prefer to work

Extension tubes CNikonand Mamiya)

I use these to Increase

Electronic cable release This is absolutely essential for redUcing vi bratlons du~nglongexposures.

2x Mamiya converter

Doubles themsgnlflcatlon on the 120mmmacro lens for smaller su bleots

Polariser filter

For rod uorng or enmJn atlng [reflections on the foliage of plants.

Custom flash bracket

Used tn rook pools and when I need, to Inarease the distance between the ftash units and subjects.

ea rly mornings a nd evenings, because when it's cooler the temperature of tile ani mals drops below the threshold for insta nt flight. You certainly won'lfind me out chasing butterflies on a hot, sun ny day.'

• Robert has authored severa I notable books including Close-up and Macro:

A Photographer's Guide (£13, ISBN 9780715319055). Tobruya copy or to see more o:f Robert's work, visit his website at www.robertthompsOfi


Memory cards

Idon'tuse cards above4GBin case of fEil ure. I use tbesecondcard slot In my 00 either asbaokup an the first card. or as an overflow


For diffusing drect sunlight on subjects. especially flowers.


These save 610ur knees When working etground level on rocky terrain.

Epson P-3000

I no longer cerrld: a laptop with me In the field

or when travelling. \Mththislcan download cards anywhere and the high-q uality screen allawsmetodoan Initlsl edit of my raw flies back at base.


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How to shoot ...

Choose the best lens option

The focallenglh of macro lenses ranges from 50mm 10 200m m. Although many zoom lenses boast a macro setting, these usually produce less than half I ite-size magnification: true macro begins with 1: 1 magnification a nd nothing less. A SO-60mm lens is suitable for general macro work, but if you want greater subject-to-lens distance, then a lOOmm lens will give you this, but at a price. Forcreatures like butterflies and dragonflies, lens-to-subject distance becomes even more important, so focal length needs to be greater. The lS0-200mm ra nge is the most expensive, but you will appreciate the extra power when sta I king flighty subjects like this Gatekeeper butterfly.

Gatekeeper butterfly Nlkon D200. Nikkor 200mm micro, 11160880 at fI8.ISO 100

Add a dioptre to make a lens focus closer

Close-up lenses are single elements that look like magnifying glasses and screw on to the front filter thread of a lens. They can provide a n inexpensive alternative to splash i ng out on a dedicated macro lens. They come in a variety of strengths that are measured in d ioptres, Close-up filters are often avai lable in sets of + 1, +2 or + 4 dioplre magnification. Dioptre lenses are also ava i lable to fit Cokin-style square filter systems. Add a dioplre lens to a bridge camera or a com pact model to ach ieve rea Ily close-up shots. The golden ringed dragonfly shown here was shot on a Panason ic Lumix DMC-FZ30 bridge camera with a +3 dioptre lens added to the front element.

Golden-ringed dragonfly Panaoonic Lumix DMG·FZ30, CoI<ln +3 dloplre, 11250000 at f136. ISO 200


Use a third hand

A 'third ha nd' device is an essential macro accessory. It will en able you to support or position subjects just where you want them. ln turn, it can also hel p to provide endless possibil ities for positioni ng backgrounds.


Iris seeds NlkonD200. 150mmmacro, 11125000 at fill, lS0100

Use apertures to control depth of field

To get the most out of available depth-of-field, select a small aperture likef/16 or even fiZZ. You will find that at half-life size the depth of field you can achieve at fiZZ will be only around 15mm at best. On the other hand you may wish to go to the other extreme and show as little sharpness as possible by open ing up to full aperture I ike f/2.8 or f/4. One adva ntage of the latter option is that any out-of-focus highlights will show as circle-l ike bubbles that can look very attractive. Ofthe two snowdrop shots shown here, the main image above was shot atf/Z.8 while the inset image was taken atf/22.

Blend flash with ambient light

With more static subjects it can befun to add a pop offlash just to liven up an image. In this composite shot of a sycamore leaf, both images were exposed for natural light. However, the image on the

ri ght wa s gi ve n a bu rst of off-ca rnera fill- i n fla sh and the sh utte r speed was increased by one stop in orderto darken the background.


How to shoot ...


Point of focus

It is imperative to consider the actual point otfocus when working close-u p with Ii ny subjects; you can dramatically change the appearance by where you choose to focus. The two shots above are althe same teasle head and were both shot at the same maxi mu m aperture, but the point of fo eus was changed by a couple of millimetres to producaan entlNll$dlfferent effett


Nlkon D200, lSOmm macro,ll320sec at f15.6, 180100


With small but lively subjects like butterflies, it can be difficult getting close enough to them for frame-filling shots. Try stalki ng them later in the day, just as they are about to settle down for the night.

Swallowtail butterfly Nikon 0200, Nikkor 105mm micro, 1I8seo atf128,180200


Add. different coloured backgrounds to macro shots to change the look of the subject. These backgrounds were all made by deliberately shooting natural

su bjects out offocus, su eh as grass, tree foliage and a combination of bushes and sky. They were then printed to A3 on matt paper and placed behind the fl.owers. The choice of matt paper helps to minimise

th e ris k of refl ectio n if ami rror or fl ash gu n is used to expose the image.

White cherry blossom

Nikon 0200, Nikkor105mm micro, lf10seo at fl11, ISO 200



From; Bristol www.gnewman.co.uk

The 12MP Nikon D300 offers excellent control of noise In low light and has a superb AF system. It has recently been replaced by.the 0300s, which can record 720p videa fcotage

Making it better: dodging and :burning


Amateur PhotographerJsRichardSibley shows how to use the Dodge and Burn tools to adjust specific areas of an image post-capture

Before yousta.rt


Adobe Photoshop, Photoshop Elements or similarsoltware




The terms dodging and burni ng refer to a dark room technique where the exposu re can be altered for different pa rts of an image by blocking the light falling on to a piece of photograph ic paper.

Th is ca n be done in two ways, Dodgi ng pa rt of an image is usually carried out by using a tool made from a length of wire with a piece

of ci tCU lar-shaped card stuck to one end. By holding the wire so that the card blocks some of tile light falling on to the piece of paper, it


lightens specific parts of the

image. The tool can be used 211 most like a shadow puppet to hold back the exposure where the image meeds brightening.

Burning works in the opposite way,. by giving the photograph ic paper extra exposure in some areas. Itis often done using a card with a hole cut into it or by using your hands to prevent light fa Iling on to certain areas, while allowing it to fallon other specific parts ollhe image. The

a reas that need da rkening are burned in using light passing through th is hole.

Th is is why the Dodge and Bu rn tool icons in Adobe Photoshop are represented by a dodging tool and a pair of hands respectively. The power of these tools lies in thei r

a bility to allow you to change the brightness and contrast of a specific area in an image. This is particularly useful where a globa I Levels or Curves adjustment cannot do the Job.

How to dodge and burn an image


1 The problem with

the original image is that the tonal range of the sky is very simila r to that of the ice ill the foreground, Adjustingthe Levels or Curves will affect both areas of tile image. I want to retain the subtle shadow detail in the hills and the soft sky, but slightly lighten and reveal details by addi ng contrast to the ice in the foreground.

3 Usethe DO .. dge tool .. to bring out detail in the

foreground by going over and around existing highlight areas, such as these sheets of ice .. To see what cha nges you have made as you go along, open up the History palette (Window> History). Clicking a previous History state allows you to view a nd revert to th at poi nt if nece s sa ry.

5 Using the Dodge tool on the Midtone range can decrease the contrast slightly. To regain some detail contrast in the h ighl ight areas of the foreground, selectthe Burn tool. Set the Range to Shadows a nd the Exposu re to 2 %. I used a smaller brush size of 150. Bu rn in the shadow and darker midtone details to increase contrast in these areas.

Shad ows M idto n es

2 Select the Dodge

. tool from the Tools ._ palette .. Changethe Ra nge of the Dodge tool to Highlights and adjust the exposure to Just 2%. Select a fairly small brush size to start with .. The exact size will depend on theoverall size of your image. For th is 12-million-pixel image I have selected a brush size of 125 and have set its Hardness to 0%.

4 c. hange the .Size oflhe Dodge tool to around 400, keeping the Hardness at 0% .. Change the Rangeto Midtones, but keep the Exposure setto 2%. Using longer a nd wider sweeps, use the Dodge tool tal ighten the ice slightly in the foregrou nd. Aswell as making the detail in this area more visible, it a Iso helps to blend the Highlight changes that have just been made.

6 Asse. ss the image and apply any further Dodge and Burn adjustments where necessary. The h ill and sky should be completely untouched, butthe ice should now be brighter and have more contrast, creati ng a more eye-catching image. By gradually building up a series of sl ight adjustments, you can reveal detail and add contrast to an image.

Shadows" midtones and highlights

The effects of the Dodge end Bum tools can be spplied, to specific tones In an Image. Thlsmeens only, the highlights will be affected if the Bum tool Is used to darken bright araasjn ask!d. However. the!d can.be used in combination to increase local contrast. For example. you can brighten the highllghte and midtones using the Dodgetool,butthenuoothe Burn tool on the shadows to increase the mlcrocontrastln these areas. Thlsoon make an Image look sharper and brrngOUl detail. The images tothe left show the effect of using th 13 Doege and Bum too Is when sst to Shadows, Midtonesand Highlights. Setting the Dodge tool to shaoowshas the strongest effeot on dark a reas, with little effeot on mldtones end none on highlights. When set to Highlights, the Dodge tool affects the brightest af the midtonas, but none of the shadow areas, while the Midtones setting lightens the midtones, With asUght effec:ton shadow and highlight areas. With the Bum tool the settings have the opposite effeot. For example, when set to Shadows, the Sum tool turns the d erkest of the mldtones arrostblaok, buUhehlghaght areas

H ighligh Is are unaffected.

Highlights Shadows Midlones


Getting it right: twilightcit~ views

Amateur Photographer)s Barney Britton used

a wide aperture and early evening light to inject new life into a famous national landmark

The checklist


A thorough understanding of your equipment and its lim itations can be very useful when you photograph in extreme lighting conditions. Wilen shooting handheld you need to know how slow a sh utter speed you can use without introduci ng bl ur, how high the camera's sensivity setting can be pushed before noise becomes unacceptable, a nd the impact of apertu re on depth of field.


Knowing your subject and when the sun wi II hit it from the right angle is inval ua ble for getting the right light in your image.


It can be frustrating waitingfor tile right moment with busy city scenes. Mornings are often quieter tha n evenings, but have patience and wait for passers-by to move off or, as here, into the right spot to enhance the composition ..


Da rker scen es may fool your camerai nto

ave rexposu re a nd destroy the atmosphere created bylaw-light. Keep a n eye on the histogram view on your camera's LCD screen and don't be afraid to reduce the exposu re using exposu re compensation. Alternatively, use the ma nual exposure mode and set both the shutter speed and aperture you rsell


Using a very wide aperture like f/l.4 means the depth of field is very restricted, so Barney took great ca re to ensu re that his main subject was absolutely sharp. Even a slight error woul d have been noticeable.

Depth of field

Using a very wide aperture tol imit the depth of field hel ps direct attention towards the cathedral and draw the viewer's eye along the bridge into the shot. It a Iso gives the image much more depth.

Th is couple are at the perfect point ill the scene. They don't obscure a ny of the main subject and, though blurred, they add interest to the foreground while hel ping to give the image depth. They are also walking towards St Paul's, which contributes to directing the viewer's eye ,i nto the image.


Ba rney shot this image in raw format to give hi m more flexibil ity to adjustthe image post-capture. He set the camera to its daylight white balance setti ng to enhance the colou r in the sky and then twea ked the image in editing softwa re to get the hues Just right to suit the last glow of su nlight all the dome.



Based in Norwich, Chris Is e freelanoe pro landsoape and nature photographer

How to shoot ...

section of an image with the bonus of being able to control the power output. When fitted with colou red gels, a flashgun can a Iso add a splash of colour to scenes.

Taking pictures

Taking pictures at night requires only the most basic kit. The essentia I. items are a DSLR. with a bulb setting, a lens, a sturdy tripod, a cable release or remote to lock open tile camera's sh utter, and a I lght source to ilium i nate the subject.

I like to arrive at my chosen location while it's still fairly light to al.low me plenty of time to compose a nd set the focus on my camera before it gets dark. I a Iways make su re I set up my tripod on secure ground before suspending my camera bag from it using the hook underneath. This helps to steady the camera and ensures that it's not going to blow over should there be a sudden gust of wi nd,

With long exposures digital noise can be a major problem, so it's essential to keep the ISO setting as low as possible, usually around ISO 100 or200. Of course, you can also use the


long-exposure noise-reduction facility on you r camera, if it has one. I find this works well, but the downside is that the exposure time is effectively doubled wh~le the camera takes a dark frame to identify noise. For this reason,1 generally find it acceptable for use on exposures of up to 5mins,. but for longer ones I turn it off and a pply any necessary noise reduction in post-processing.

Once you are ready to lake the image, lock open the shutter usi ng a cable release or remote and take a note of the start time. While the shutter is open the next job is to illurni nate your main subject using a torch or tlashgu n. I always make sure I stand to one side of the camera and avoid walking intothe exposing frame with a visi blel igtnt source,

The amount of I ight your subject requ ires will depend on several th i ngs, includ ing what tile subject is, and its distance from the camera. For su bjects such as windm i lis, I normally use a rnixtu re offlash and torch light. When painting by torchlight it's important to use slow and even strokes, without leaving the torch shining on a pa rticu lar part of the image


To aid with focusing in the dark. shinea powerfUl torch on your chosen subject. once your camera gets a focus b::k,swltch your lens to manual focus so that it doesn't hunt when you press the shutterbutton,


tocoropose In the derk.chenge the ISO setting to your mostsensiliveavailable. then take atest exposure and reoompose as required. Remember to lower youriSO settlngbaok to 100-200 onoe you're done,


Take a compass witl1 you and work out the position of the North Star. As the Earth rotates lh e North Star wrll ap pear to stay fixed and the rest of the stars will appear to :rotate around it.


Night photography can be quite spooky. sotake a friend with you to keep you oompsrnj and make you,feel safe.


If your camera has a noise-reduction facility, tum iton for yourfinal shot of the evening. Onoe the main exposure tscornpleted you can pack away, youroamera while it's

still exposing for the dark frame. When you arrive hornell's


It oan get very cold at night,partiGularly when standing around waitlngfor long exposures. sowarm cloth ing is essential.

for too long. If the subject is more than 20 metres away from the ca mera, then it will require considerably more light tha n you think. Getting the correct exposu re requires a little bit of trial and error, so it's important to remember the length of the overall exposu res a nd the rough n umber of flash bu rsts you used, or the amou nt of time you ill uminated the subject using the torch. When you feel you've given the subject long enough, release the shutter or

ca ble release lock a nd review the completed image on the ca rnera's LCD screen.

I. I .. ... ..

long exposures IS that they are Rower hungry. With this in mind I normally limit my exposures to less tha nan hOll run less I am USI ng a battery

How to shoot ...

step bbJ step

~ .... -

Step 2 Shoot raw

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Shoot '11/0 c-ard On

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Color temp. 52001(

Bid shooting Idourimages in raw format ldoU Will be ableto applld,slight ohanges to Idour Images atthe processing staga Small adjustments to white balance, exposure and noise can all be applied when converting the raw files in software_

Step 3 Setup your camera

Attach !douroable release, set bJourcamera to bulb mode and select Idour apertu re, F ina 1IId, focus the lenson !doursubJeot, andonoe this is completed remember to sWitch tomanual focusing so that the len sdoesrrt start to huntonce it's dark.

step 5 Review your test shot

Look at your test shot and work out What areas need more or less light, as getting the correct exposure involves a little bitoftrial and srror, Once ldoU have decided what exposure changes bJou need to make, take the shot again. Keep revIewing bjourlmages until ycu geta result bjou're hapP!d wlth,


As with all tid pes of photograph bj, ha If the battle of gatti ng things right Is good forward planning. Things to consider before setting outon a night s hoot might include the following:


The moon will have a dramatic effect on our images. A full moon will cut exposure times and make the sky appearmoreof a blue colour, almost like it's daldtime, though It will also reduce the number of visible stars. The moon CbJcle, along with the moonrise and set times, can easilbJ be found for most locatlons on the Internet


Keep an elJeon the forecast. Clear sklee work well fur stertrale. 'but don't Ignore oloudbJ orpartl!d cloudy nights_The condITionsto avod are mist, fog ormin, as th.ewster droplsts can settle on the lens surface durlng long exposures and are amoot impossbls 10 cletect inthe dark.


I often workln rernotelocetlons so I alwabls oarrbl a spare torch with me to ftnd my, way back to the car, particularly as my main rechargeab Ie torch of ten runs out of power. I find a spare wind-up torch works we'll, as bjou are then not reliant on battet"Jd, power.


Long exposures canquicklbj drain camsrabatteries sornake sure thebl are fully, charged and that you have a spare.

LIGHT POllUTION Whllellghtpollutlonoan mean Irs harder to see as m an!d stars. It can also add some much-needed colour to a skid, Lightpollution will have the most dramatlo effect on a skywhen there Is a new moon or the moon is yet to rise.

The word 'photography' has Greek origins and means 'a light paintbrush' or 'paintingwith light', This meaning is sometimes overlooked, as we tend to think we are capturing a moment or an emotion in time, But in the end,it

all boils down to harnessing rays of the visible spectrum to create an image. More often than not we rely on the natural or ambient light to ilium i nate a scene, but in fact we have many tools ava ilable to us through wh ich we can man ipulate I ight as we see fit.

Night provides us with a perfectly blank

ca nvas, a nd by using a fl ashgu n we ca n choose which parts of a scen e to reveal to the viewer and whieh to keep hidden in the

da rkness, However, you may fi nd that it ca n ta ke a few attempts before you get a result you are happy with, largely because of the nature of the I ighting, a nd it can take some


time to work out how much light each part of the scene will need.

Night portrait

I pi aced a Ni kon D300 on a tripod and set it to a 30see exposu re at f/8, with a sensitivity of ISO 400. Then, using a Nikon Speedlight S8-800 and a Speedlight S8- 600, I went around the scene I ighting the subject in the foregrou nd and the trees in tile backgrou nd,

The 30sec exposure turned the sky a deep amber colou r, due to the lawn lights a few miles away. It was also enough time for me to run around lighting the scene. Ratherthan setting the flash to fu II power, I set the flashguns to manual on 1/8 power. This allows more

flexibil ity when fill ing in areas with light; they can be made more or less dramatic by firing multiple times, Using the flashgun's guide

number (GN = distance to subject x f-number), I estimated how many flashes were needed to light each area at my chosen aperture. Lighting the subject and foreground took five flashes, and a fu rther two were used to light up the picnic bench in the background. The mai n silver bi reh tree took arou nd seven flashes, and the trees to the left around four. A few more. to add a little I ight to the ground, were fired as I ran

qu ickly between the locations (turn to page 68 for more about exposure),

With on Iy 30 seconds to run and light each location I had to be extremely qu ick, and. some of the results sirn ply did n't work out.

When I was happy with the shot, all that was left to do was adjust the white bala nee of the image in software to balance the colourofthe flash and ambient light, Finally, I cropped the image to a 16:9 ratio to enhance the filmic look.


1 Set i,Jourflash to a slightly lower power than i,Jou would normally_ Increase the illumination by firing the flash more than once and from different angles to.help build up and flU In areas and objects

2Asecond pair of hands is veri,J useful, especialli,J if you have a large area of ground tocoverwltrsn a short space of time. of course, you oando It all yourselfuslng the bulb setting on your camera and a release that will allow you to lock the shutter open

3weardark clothes so you dcrrt show up In the shot and make sure bjourbodyishlelds the flash from the camera, LlghI objects from a few different angles so that silh ouettes of ld.Durself don't appear

41t will be. CO.ld If Shoo.tlng In tho e.Wlnter, w. hloh can affect.the recy. cle time' of bjourflashgun as battery performanoe drops. Keep the batteries and flashgun in an inside coat pocket when not in use to keep them warm


ABOVE LEFT The light on the sUbJeot was from about 450 and s~ghtl!J above the head height of the subject A couple offlashes were used to fill in the front and fa negro und. I Ih en rushed to light up the silver birch trees In the backgro und

ABOVE A plan diagram showing the locations at which I fired the flash. Sometimes I fired it multiple times at the earne locatlon when more brightness was needed, orto light the trees from higher up

LEFT This is an earlld attempt where I was trlding to work out how to light the subject on the right-hand side i,Jou,oan see bright highlights where the flash has been fired_ The trick is to shield the flash behind Idourbody so that the flashes remain hidden from the camera


How to shoot ...

Painting with colour

I nstead of painting wi,th plain wh ite flashlight, you can also inject a little bit of colour. Simply placi ng a coloured gel, acetate or sweet wrappers over the flashgun is enough. You can even use the coloured transluscent folders found in most office supp.ly shops.


There are no ha rd-and -Iast rules when it comes to exposing for painting-with-colouredlight images, but the first thing to consider is the amount of ambient light. I begin by worki ng out an exposu re time for the amount of ambient light I wish to appear in the scene. This can vary from a few seconds to a few minutes, depending on the amount of ambient light present. I genera Ily choose a time of between 20 and 30secs. With this length of exposure it is important to use a sturdy tripod and tripod head - a heavy camera may slip if you don't have a head that locks securely.

Sim ilarly, you may need to take the wind and the ground that you r tripod is sta nding on into consideration. If you don't use a suitable tripod, strong wi nds or even vibrations from road traffic ca n cause slight movements that may bluryour image. Bear this in mind when you are deciding on your exposure t! me.

Try to keep your ISO sensitivity as low as possible. This will help reduce image noise and also a Ilow for a long exposure. That leaves the apertu re as the last exposu re va riable, and this obviously depends on your chosen exposure time and ISO sensitivity.

Having calculated the exposu re for ambient light, now comes the trickier problem of working out the flash output for your scene. Place your flashgu n on full power and fi re it once at each location you wish toi Ilu minate. Once the exposure is complete, check the image on the camera's display to see what



1 Scout around for suitablelocationsduring theds!d and make a list oFthe equipment you may, need, If !d0u make the list a few days before !d0u shoot, !d0u have the chance toadd tothe list should !d0u think of something else you me!d need

2Rememberthat if !d0u are shooting in a built-up area, the sk!d will most likel!d turn orange

31f !d0u want blue skies, try shoottng in the countryside under a full moon

4Don'tuse too man!d different colours - keep it simple

effect the flash has made on the image. In some places you may need to fire the flash morethan once, while in others you may need to reduce the power of the flash or move it

fu rther away from the subject It may be a case of trial and error and requ ire a number of attempts before you get an image you are happy with


One major consideration when deciding the colours to use in your scene is the col au r of the am brent sky. If you live nea r a built-up area, you will struggle to make the sky any colour other than ora nge. The orange hue is caused by the sodiu m street lam ps that light the night sky arou nd au r towns and cities.

Shooting in the countryside gives you a better chance of shooting with the moon providing the ambient I ight, For this reason, it is best to shoot when there is a full moon in the sky. Under moon light you will find that the colour temperature of the light is fa r cooler.

Try placi ng gels over you r flashlight to create coloured light. A filter kit, such as the Rosco Gel Starter Kit (£25.30 from www..flaghead. co.uk), is useful. Alternatively, you can simply buy some gels, cut them out and tape them over yourflashgu n. If you plan to use more tha n one colou r, rna ke sure you have a flashgun for each colour. It ca n be very time consu mi ng constantly swapping filter gels midway through an exposure.

I find that it is best to shoot images in raw format and leave the camera on auto white balance, particularly if shooting with a n orange sky a nd a n umber of different colours. Th is gives you the option to adjust the wh ite balance in post-production.

For a truly pa i nterly effect, try using torches rather than fl ashgu ns. You can ta pe coloured gels to the torches a nd use them to light parts of the scene. For more information on usi ng a torch to pai nt with light turn to page 94,


Rough guide to ...

Flash is a mystery to many, but with a little effort it can become an indispensable tool that adds an extra level of creativity to your shots

let's face it, the F-word has always been a little bit scary and mysterious, particu larly when shootlng on film. You could never know if your flash settings are correct until the film is developed and it feels a bit hit a nd miss. Digital cameras have changed all that, and you can now see straight away on the LCD screen whether your results need tweaki ng,

Flash technology has improved markedly over the yea rs, and even a small pop-up camera flash can yield good results when the subject is close enough. That said, they are lim ited in use because they are not very powerful; they often cause bad redeye and harsh background shadows, and you ca n't move the flash around to get good modelling effects on your subject. If you want complete creative freedom and control then the next step is to buya separate rlashgu n that attaches via the hotshos. While an integral flash has a guide nu mber (G N) of 12 at ISO 100, separate guns are much more powerful with a GN of 50-60 at ISO 100.

Indispensable to many areas of photography, flash puts extra light into a situation where light levels are low. ltcan also be a means of adding creative lighti ng lor a more dramatic shot. Most studio photography, including still life, fashion and portraiture, is created using large flash systems that are generally not very portable. Photographers on the move require a smaller, lighter design giving a powerful light source, and use one or several flashgu ns in synchronisation to add a bit 01 sparkle to their shots. Wedding, portrait, fashion and press photographers all use small flashgu ns for location work, while travel photographers always have a small gun to help out in low-light portrait/l nterior situations.

What to use

a flashgun for

Fill-in flash is probably the most popular use, where the flash exposure helps to lift the ambient light levels, pa rticu la rly when sh utter speeds fall below 1/60sec in low light or indoors. It can be used to add detail in backl it images of people where the faces WOLI Id otherwise be too dark because of camera underexposure. It ca n also be used as the on Iy


light sou rce in extreme situations, such as outside after da rk, but often yields an unflattering I ight when shooting people - just look at the awful papa razz! pictu res to see the effect. An interesting idea is to use multiple flashes during a long bulb exposure to 'paint with light'. This is particularly successful with foreground subjects ina dusk landscape.

Feature-rich technol,ogy

Flash can freeze movement due to its incredibly short duration (upto 1/40,OOOsecl. Wildlife photographers will often use a ringflash or special ist macro flash system to freeze insects and birds in mid-flight, revealing incredible detail, and giving crisp, sharp, elear images with no blur due to the short flash duration.

Modern flashguns have a wealth of features and tile more you pay, the more features you get. A basic flash might have a single power

output, no tiltfacHity and may not even allow auto flash exposures. Most people should aspi re to a unit that allows the exposure to be controlled automatically by their ca meta's built-in exposure system - til is is called a dedicated flashgun .. It allows much more

accu ra te resu Its as the ca m era and II ash 'ta I k' to each other, so you can Simplyfire away, as you rarely have to think a bout the settings. Most camera manufacturers will have their own flashguns, which will work in perfect harmony with your camera. Top-of-the-range guns are well worth the moneyfor all the feature-rich technology. Don't forget to check out independent brands such as Sunpak, N issin, Jessops, Sigma and Metz, who can often match features at a more competitive price.

Flagship models call usually be used

wi relessly to give accurate resu Its and numerous flashgun setups are possible. Til is is great for

I a rge i nte riots orfo r portab I e portra it stud i as.

Swivel bo .. unce head

A sWivel/bounce head is essential for ehadowless f.lash portraits. It allows !,Iou to ph!,lslOall!,l move the flash head Up, down and sideways!o redirect the flash off a oonvenlent wall or ceiling.

Angle of coverage

Cheaper flash designs can have a poor angle of coverage, causing vigneltingincomers when using wideangle lenses due to light fall-off. Good flashguns will automatlcajq adjust the flash head to give the optimum angle of coverage fer wldeangle or telephoto lenses. Themest popular focal length 'Is usuall!,l between 24mm and IOOmm, with a diffuser dome allowing 17mm coverage.

USB co'nnectiviy

Some flash models offer a US6 slot so

future-proofed as it maid allow you, to resolve software

151 itches or use it with a new camera in the futu reo

Which flashgun should you go for? Here's what to consider

Batterg povver recycllhg time

Don't bUb) a flash that takes

fo rever to rechargaor you will be oonstantly missing the actlon, Some designs. such as the Nilan Speedlight 86-800. allow the attaohment of an extra battery. whloh enables fasterrecb)cllng times and longer use.

Probablb) the most Important thing to look for when bUb)lng a flash Is whether lt Is dedicated to !dour camera model ornot Most flashguns come with a list ofsuppcrted cameras, but some older carnerasrnau not be able to use some of the functions available. Without a dedlcated flashgun you will lose the amazing teohnologieal advancee that make It so easy tousa flash.


Rough guide to ...

Flash expo~ure compensation

Moresvphisticated flashguns allow ~ou to alter the power of the flashlndependentl~, of the camera settings. This allows you

to create more su btle or over, the-top results bydlalllllg In a dlfferelloo ofbatwean +2 and,2 stops. This is great for adding a small amount of flash, allowing ~ou to reta In a natura I look to the 1m age.

Exposure modes

A good flash will have several exposure modes to choose from:

TIL for automatic exposure via the camera.batanced flll,flash to stop the flashbeoomlngtoo heav~ for a natural look: and high seed sync for fast shutter speeds above 11250sec. AUto aperture, manual and a strobe mode that flashes repeatedly during a single exposure should also be present Manual·exposure, Which is popularwlth the otf-carnera.tatroblst' school of lighting, has a range of power settings from full power at

111 to 11128 power in increments.

Wireless flash

Top-end flashguns allow You to control single or multiple flash es Wirelessly. This removes the need: for flddlyextenelon leads, allowillg oomplete oreatlve freedom as to where !,Iou plaoethe individ ual flashguns. Canon and Nikon both use this system, but some oameras will require a epeotal'commeno rnoou Ie' to use the feature.



Some top-of-the-range flashguns allow you to create a strobe effect where th e tlssh fires many. times during an exposure. The exact number is dependent on the settings you use. Thlscan beusee to

oa pture various slagesof a movingobject such as aball in fl igbt or a dancer.

Guide number

Essentially, the higher the gUide numberthemorepowerful the flash unit 113.813 careful, as sorne manuracturers rate It at ISO 100 while others use ISO ,200 to make it look more powerfuL The most powerful flashguns are usuall!,l found hlgherup,

or at the top of the range.



Most oameras have a maximum flash sync speed of around 111 25sec or 11250sec. Some dedicated flashguns oan override th Is setllng and shoot at speeds of up to ll8.000secb!,l using their own bUilt-in s!,lstem This is useful for freezl ng fast action orusingWide apertures for eha Ilowdepth of field effeots on bright d'ays. A neutral density filter can also be used to solve this problem, though.

Flash round-up

Canon 430EX II £220 WWW.CANON.CO.UK

Oanon's top-of-the-range E- TTL II dedicated flashgun Is the 8peedlite 580 EX II (£370).11 has a guide number(GN}af 58 and features high-speed sync and wlrelesscapabilitld. It's also dust and water resistant. At the ather end of the scale Is the little Speedlite 220 EX (£140) with a guide number of 22. It's a bit limited, though,and If bloU can stretoh to It the Speedlite 430EX II piotured here offers probably the best balance between price and specs, with a GN of 43 an d a hast af features.

Sony HVL-F42 £190 WWW.SONY.CO.UK

The £:400 Sonbl HVL-F58AM Is the premier flashgun in the Alpha system and features a powerful guide number of 58, a fest recha rge and high speed sync at all shutter speeds. If blou can't stretch to tile £400 price teg, take a look at the HVL-F42, which Is half the price and has a GN of 42.

Metz76 MZ-5


WWW.INTR02020.CO.UK Theleadlnglndependent nash brand Is theoholce ofmanld professionalswcrldwldeand makes a bewildoong range of flashguns, stertlng from under £40 forthe tiny, non-dedicated 20 02 right up to £600 for the state-of-the-art 76 MZ-5 harrmerhead, withits GN of76,secondary

flash head and dedication to Nikon, Oanonand Son\dDSLRs.


PentaX's most popular flashgu n isthe £200 AF360FGZ with Its bounce head and auto-zoom,GN of36 and wireless dedioatlon. Above It sits tile £459 AF540FGZ (GN 54), and below It the AF200FG (GN 20) at £140. Pentax and samsung owners can also use 8amsung's 8EF-54PFZ flash, which Is very similar In spec to the AF540 FGZ, but a bit cheaper.

Nikon S8-900



U<eCanon,Nikon also calls its flashguns '8peedllghts', though spelt differentlbl. The flagship In its trio of i- TIl. flasl15,uns IstheSpeedlightSB-800, Which features a GN of 48, a 17-200mmauto-zoom range and fest recycnng.lt Is aIsoflrrnwareupgradeeble, which makes IT one of the most futt.re-proof flashguns aVEilabie. BelowtheSB-800 Is the Speedllght SB-600 (£200) and fixed-head Speedl1ittt S 8-400 (£150). All three S4Jport Nikon's superb Creative lighting Sldstem.

Sigma EF-530 DG ST



You won't find manld more powerful dedicated flashguns for£120 than the E-F530 DG 8T (GN 53), whloh probablld aocounts for Its popularttq. For more bells and whistles, step up to the EF-530 OG Super, Which adds manual control, wireless TTL and more - and about 50"70 to the price.

Olympus FL-36R £200 WWW.OLYMPUS.CO.UK

Olympus's range of flashguns starts with the little FL-20 at £120, which has a fixed head and GN of 20, and ends at the FL-50R Wireless flash (GN 50) at N20.

In between is our pick of the bunch, the stylish FL-36R with a GN of 36 and full wireless functlonalitld at under £200.

Sunpak PF30X

£80 WWW.INTR02020.CO.UK

Sunpak Is a longestablished flash brand known tortts value for rnoneu If \dou're on a budget try the PF30X, with Its bounoe head and GN 30 output, all for under £80 (although the Canon version can befoundforlessl.

Nissin Di622 £100 WWW.KENRO.CO.UK

Another long-standing value brand, Nissin's Oi622 boasts a good speo,lncludlnga GN of 44 and built-in wireless remote slave, for around £100.


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Auto scene recognition

Certain commonly encountered scenes, such as portraits, low-light, backlit, landscape and macro, require partie ular satti ngs for Ih e best results. For example, if your subject Is backlit. the oamera should normelly be setto increase expos ure or use fill-in flash to avoid an unintentional sllhcuette. Auto scene reoognitlonalms to make these kinds of camera adjustments automatically. Most cameras equipped with the function will indicatewhat type of scene has been detected, and also allow you 10 override the system if It gets it wrong.

Auto ISO

Letting the cam era choose its own ISO is not new, but its usefulness has evolved, On compacts, auto ISO oan help avoid the need to stop the lens aperture down, which is helpful as small compact camera lenses quickly lose sharpness when stopped down too far. In low-light, auto ISO oan be used to boost ISO to ensure a faste r shutter speed settin g. For the latest generatlonof DSLRs, even moderately high 180 settings have little l1egative impact 01'1 image quality. Auto ISO is therefore an attractlve option, especially to maintain a particular aperture and

s flutter speed.

InteUigen.t Auto

II you combine various featuressuoh esscene recognition, highlight and shadow optimisation, auto ISO and imagestabilisation, then you get What many oamera manufaoturers call an Intelligent Auto CiA) mode. Many cameras now feature anlAexpasure mode alongside tbaother, usual options. And don't be put offmostolthetimeiA modes work well and thsy. are certainly ideal if you aren't interested in manual or semi-auto exposure control,



I. . \?;
, . ~
Rough gu'ide to ... .'
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, I ~ " . . . , " • Smile detection

Usuailid implemented in an 'active' form. when enabled and while the photographer keeps the shutter release fuilid pressed, the camera waits until one of the faces detected in the scene smiles, As soon as a smile Is detected, the camera takes the picture.

Face ::! -----, detection

Fortunatelld, faces have some easily recognisable features that cameras can lock an to: a pair of eldes, a nose, and a mouth. Bid being able to detect a face in the scene, the camera can concentrate its autofocus on that person's face to ensure it is the primarld subject in focus within the image, More sophisticated Implementations can also ~ nk up to sce ne-reoagn Itlon algorithms and optimise the exposure forthe subject's face. Once a face has been detected, the system will track that face as best It can. If the person turns awald. detection lock will be lost, though some camera manufacturers have enhanced the detection oapabllltid to maintain a lock even when the sub jeet has tu med to the extent thatonlld one elde remains visible. Some face detection modes can lock on to severa I faces at once. in which casethefacethat is used as the primary subject of focus v,J11i usually be based on which is closest ormost prominent, though sometimes you can override this bid selecting a face manually. If several faces are detected at once, not all of them will necessarq, be in focus.

Blink detection

Photos of people with their e!des closed could become a thing of the past with blink detection. An extension of face detection, blink detection recognises When the ebles of a detected person's face have closed, This usually happens In the form of a wamlng Immediately after a picture has been taken, enabling!dou to take it again. More sophisticated s!dstems flag a warning as ldoU are composing the shot, even preventing the picture from being taken if closed eldes are detected.

Face .• recognition

Face recognition Is an enhanced form of face detection. I nstead of aim pl!d I elting the camera recognise anbl face Inthe crowd, bloU can oonflgure the camera to recognise a partlcula r person's face and use this as the focal point Todo this, !d0u

$1m ply ta ke a portrait shot of the person bloU want the camera to recognise and save it in the recognition system's rnernoru. You can usuall!d program In several Identities at once. Same camera manufacturers are even starting to SUppl!d software that reads the embedded identity data saved In the image file. This could be a useful tool when searching images for a partlcula r person who was recognised b!d th camera at the time the picture was taken.

SUbiecttracki::T '. ,

Ratherllke face detection, subject tracking involves the camera locking on to an area of the scene and maintaining focus on that area, even if it moves around the frame, The difference Is that the photographer chooses what the camera locks on to, usuall!d bbl half-pressing theshutterrelease when a targeting aid is lined up with the section of the scene to be tracked ,

Single action panoramas

A couple of camera, manufacturers, Sony and GE, have introduced a much easlerwey ofcreatlng panoramas,

I nste ad of pamstek Inglid taking a series of overlapping stills, you just pan the camera steadily; and the camera automatically takes dozens of stills end

stitches them inside the camera. The examples on the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HXlls very Impressive, The camera features the same CMOS-type sensor as in Sony's DSLRs,so don't be surprised if it appears in Sony's next-generation Alphas.

Touchscreen digital cameras have been aroundfor more bJears than idoumlght'rea~se_ Butonly now, as camera makers strive to differentiate themselves Via value-adced features, have tcuchscreens started to make inroads into digital camera designs. This has been spurred; on by the recent popu larity of touch-enabled smartphones like the iPhone.lt could becorne standard torrnd- to high-end compact cameras vJithin a year or so.


Compactdigital cameras have Included standardvideo-clip feoording modes for around ten years, but some cameras, including a lew DSLRS, nowofferthe ability to record in Hi!;lh Definition (HD) video, Combined with thecorvenenceot integratedHDMI or Component video ports, this new.breedof cameras could eventuallybeoomeaserious altematiVeto dadlcated HOcemcorders, Onecfthegrest thingsabouta DSLR INith rnovlereco rdlng Is the depth of field contro I afforded .bythelargersensor_ AVCHDencodingsaems tobethe technology of cholce astt rnanta ins quality atahigher compression rete and taxes the camera's processing power, snd .battery reso urces, least Ave H D's otiglnaldrawback, a lack of video-editi nJ;l software support, now saemsto.be easlhg, with I«:IXio"AdobeandAppietlOWSupt:lQ(ttlgJt

colin is a top natural history pro p hotographe r with of axperience and knowledge of the best teohn iques 10 use www.colinvamdell.co.uk


These starlings were attracted to food on a blrdtsble, The lens was focused just above the food and as theld squabbled I kept mid finger on the shutter button. Nll(on 02)(, SOOmm,l160 atffll,lSO 200

pursu ing as a photographic project,

The first stage is to make yourself inconspicuous by constructi ng an inexpensive h ide. A hide must be introduced near a perch or nest in gradual stages to prevent it from upsetting the birds. Scrounge some old bits of cloth or sheets, preferably in subdued colou rs like green or brown. Cut four sticks and dra pe tile cloths around these. You can hlds in this and the bi rds will take no notice of you except for one tiling. If they see you crawl. into your makeshift hide they will know you are there and wi II refuse to come back. But birds cannot cou nt - they know tile singular from the p.lu ral, but that is all. So round up a couple of

mem bers of your family orfriends and get them to mill around you r hide wh lie you get into it and make yourself comforta ble. Once your friends walk away and leave the garden, the birds will usually relax into normal behaviou r. They will have seen a group of people come and a groupof people go and think the coast is dear. If your subject does not settle back into normal behaviou r, then the project must be aba ndoned.

When you r subject la nds on the perch for the first time, refra i n from tripping the shutter. If the bird has any doubts at all, this will be when

it is most nervous. let it come a nd go a few times before you start taking pictures.

When you a re confident that your subject is at ease, select a large aperture to blur the background and wait until the bird is side-on to you, to ensure it is all in focus. Good timing and perfect focus are essential.

When you have successfully completed your session, signal to your rent -a-mob to come back out into the garden and approach your

h ide. This is because a human suddenly emerging from a h ide could have a very

sta riling effect on birds, which might cause them to never return or even desert thei r nest.


How to shoot ...


First, cut four sticks around l.5m long with plenty of top growth.


Trim off the lops otthe etlcke. leaving some branches to supportthe hids cloth. Make a sharp point onthe other end.


Sort yourself a comfortable seat. Three-legged portable seats are Inexpensive and avallable at garden centres and DIY stores.

STEP 4 SET THE FRAME OF THE HIDE Push the fou r sncks I oro the groun d to provide enough room for !dour seat and tripod. Makesurethe front of the lens protrudes OObiond the forward sticks.

STEP 5 COVER ITWITH MATERIAL ScrouI"Igesome dull coloured matenal and drape itoverthe sticks. Herewe used an old bedsheet There Is no need 10 make a roof because birds will not aasoclate blouwlth danger if the!d happen to fllJ above you.


CuI a hole In the oloth Just large enough forthe lens to fltthroughsnuglbl· Cut a horizontal slit above the lenshole, whioh Will allow you toviewthe subject.


The hide is ready to gradually move into posltlon, SOIdOU can get readbl to lake great bird shots'


Allon lives in a smalltown

ne a fTel-Aviv in Israel. He uses a converted Canon EOS 200 and a regular Nikon 070 for his infrared work

Preparing for shoofing

EVen If you can see Infrared Ilgl1twlth your camera, IMthout some additional preparation the chances are you won't get velld, spectacular results. Theoommon solution isto use an

In frared filter on the front of your len e. These are verb! dark red In colour and block out all but the infrared light to !dpur sensor. This causes one main problem for photographers, in that With the filter attached you can't see anytl1lng through the viewfinder. One solution Is to compose first and add the filter atthe last minute. Some specialist companies offer a service to convert your camera for Infrared use. The sensorcen be Altered! tcauow Just IR. orlR and visible light. while leavmg b!0u with a. regular view through !dour Viewfinder. This ls notea.sily reversible though, so lrs bestnotto use your brand new camera.

Choosing your suHJect

For the best results from Infrared yeu shoulc aim to Include some follage to give the trademark white glow. You don'lnsed b right sunl1ght - in fact, a cloudy or overcastday can achieve good results - but shooting In the summer provldes more greenerld and ensures there's plenl!d of chlorop hid II in the leaves. Tfid to contrast your greenery with something man-made; stonework looks good for mono Images, or trld some water and sky for darker ooloura.

se\tingthe whltelJalance

InFrared IIght,by deflnltlon, has lowcolour temperature, so gives a verld warm Image To counter this !dpu need tomakethe necessary adjustments to the white balance, For natural results hold up asbeet of white paper (once the filter is on) and takeamanual whltebal'ance reading. For more extreme results, however, try taking a reading from some green grass or from ablue sku,

Set to raw )Vith mono preview

Shoetlngln raw format will not only allow bjew the best possible quality, but It will also give !dou the option to change the white balance during processing to fine-tune or accentuate the effect. If you are looking to achieve a mono infrared effect,select raw+JPEG shooting and use yourcamera's black & white or monochrome function Clf It has one). This will allow you to get a better Idea. of the result on the backofyour camera but still allow you tornake the co nverslon during postprocessing.

Faking infrared with software

Where there's a technique, there's a trick, and most Irnage-ed itlng software provides a method of simulating an Infrared' effect by boosting the greens and bjellows with a, mono conversion to make anbj, plant lifeappearloglow. Photoshop does this from Itsdropdo\o\lTl menu of presets In the Channel Mixer. while others. such as Corel Paint Shop PmX2. feature it as a filter.

STEP ONE To make the mono conversion. select Image ... Adjuslments->Black & White. If you have an older version of Photoshop, or altematlve software. you can usebjourChennel Mixer for similarresults.

STEP TWO Select Infrared From the dropdown menu. This will give you a black & white conversion with boosted levels in the !del lows and greens to give extra brightness and an apparent glow from any plant life.

srEP THR:EE NowbjOU can manuslly, sdjustthe levels as shown here to fine-tune !dour infrared effect. Boosting the Reds and lowering the Blues will help to darken the sky, andvohlten any greens In the Image.

FUJIFILM FINEPIX 18-1 £390 Based on the popular RnePix 9600 bridge camera, the 9MP sensor In the 18-1 records both visible and Infrared light for forensic and scientific use, it includes an integrated 28-300rlll'n equtvalentzoom lens and flash,~1'IJt1 control and raw me shooting.


The IS Pro Is a modified version of Fuji's FinePix 85 Pro OSlR and offers an extended range of light Sensitivity that spans into both ultraviolet CUV) and lnfrared OR) wavelengths, covering roughly 380nm to 1,000 nm. This is a tool designed mainly for professlonal sclentiflo use and the relatively high price for th is model may put off amateur users.


£150-200 second-hand

Though It Is nowdlsoontlnued, the six-million-pixel Nlkon 070s remains a popular choice for infrared photographers as it has a fairly weak IR filter over the sensor. This means It Is possible to take Infrared Images without having to have the camera converted. It's worth keeping an elde on second-hand listings for one.

SIGMA SD14 £390

Even if ldou'Ve never considered one of Sigma's DSlR bodies before, you maid be Interested to know that this now budget-priced model has Its infrared filter Situated at the front of the lens mount, and it can be easilld removed and replaced bid hand - without the use of tools or the risk of invalidating the warranty. The 80l4's Foveon X3 sensor Is also great for tonal range, so for little more than the price of an infrared oonverslon you can have a shinld new, IR-readbJ camera in Idourkit bag. For best results use it with the ultra-wide Sigma 10-20mm f!4-5.6Iens (£389).

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Improve bJour shots

Improvebjour shots

Essential gear


You ca n, of course, use any camera for 110me stud io photography - a DSLR is by no means essential. However, there are a few features that will make life easier. A manual exposure mode will give you a lot mere control ever things like exposure a nd depth offield. You'll a Isc need to be able to focus fairly closely If you're doing, say,. srna II-scale ta bletop photogra phy. If you're fortunate

enough to own a camera with a PC

flash sync socket, this will make life easier if you're using flash ton.


This is an essential item for the home studio, especially Iorstlll·llfe photography. A tripod will enable you to fine·tJuneyour composition, and will ensure sharper pictures -e\'Ien at 'ha ndholdable' sh utter speeds. It will also. enable you to. shoot at long exposure times of many seconds or m in utes - wh ich opens you r photography up to a va rlety of c rea tive tech n i q ues.

Remote release

With long exposures the act of pressing the shutter button can introduce vibration, which can reduce the sha rpness of your pictu res. A remote release not only eliminates this risk but also. allows you to fire the shutter while standing some distance away from the camera,

dependi Ilg on the type of release you have.

This means that if you're working around a tabletop you don't have to keep going back to the camera position to take a picture, Even for portraits, a tripod and remote release will enable you to make eye contact with the su bject a nd get a better rapport goi ng than when your face is hidden behind the camera.



If you're doing still-life photogr:aphyyou'li need a flat surface. A kitchen table, coff~e table or any other flat-su rtaced item of

fu rn ilure is ideal, and of course this may dictate where in the house you have to work. If push comes to shove you can a Iways use the floor, though th is would mean spending a lot of time on your knees, which Isn't ideal from a comfort point of view,


Rega rdless of you r subject, there's a good chance that you'll need a background. Thankfully, with still I ife this needn't be very big and your options are infi n ite. Sheets of stiff card are ideal, and can be bought from gra phic arts shops in many different colours. Perspex is more expensive, but is more durable and can be lit from behind.

I n the right circumstances fabric also works well as a photogra phic backgroundwhite bed sheets a nd sheers of black cotton, for instance. However, they tend to work better as portrait backgrounds beca use for s6'11-1 ife shots the textu re of the fabric may remain in focus if a small aperture is

used, and this can be distracting. With portraits, however, the subject is usually some dista nce in front, so the texture is easy to blu r using a wide-ish aperture. Old projector screens also make for great, free-sta nding wh ile backdrops for half-length

portra its, and they ca n be easily sourced from car-boot fairs.

I n portraiture you can often discard the background altogether and use your house as a set. Pose yoursubject in an armchair or on a window ledge and make the room part of the picture. You r success here will largely depend on the room and your furnitu reo Unci uttered period rooms, or ultra-modern ones, tend to work best.



By positioning your subject close to a window you can take advantage of natural daylight. A north-facing wi ndow wlll provide the most consistent illurn matron since you won't get direct sun per.iodically making

things difficult. The ru Ie of thu rnb is that even, diffused light is best. Beggars can'! always be choosers, though, so if your on Iy option is a south-facing window you can diffuse it with net curtains or even greaseproof paper. If you have a conservatory this will provide a lot of light, but it will be from all directions and difficult to control.

Domestic lights

Forget about using the lightbu I b that hangs frorn your ceiling - it's very unflattering for both portraiture and still-life work. Desk

lam ps, a nglepoise or spotlights are better as they offer direction and ca n be moved around. As they're not very bright, you'll be

I imited to a slow shutter speed or a high ISO.


If your su bjectis static, try usi ng torchlight as a I ight source. Set the camera to bulb and move the torch a round the subject for severa I seconds until it has been evenly I it. See page 94 for more about this technique ..


A flashgun {or two} can be a great asset, as they're srnall and very versatile. Bounce them off a wall orthe ceiling, orfirethem through a diffuser such as a bedsheet. Some flashgu ns can be triggered wirelessly, wh ile others can be fired using a cable or a slave flash as a trigger. Although there is no modelling light, you can review and refine your efforts on the camera's LCD screen.

Studio lighting

If you have a few hundred pou nds to spare, the best option of all is to invest in a studio I lghting kit. Studio lighting gives you rnore power, the ability to preview the effect before shooting, and the system can also be modified with a wide ra nge of accessories. YOU'll find that even a single light will greatly increase your options, but a twi n-light kit is ideal ..


How to shoot ...

Using a lightbox to illuminate your subject from below can yield some mteresti ng results, as our two exam pies here show, The strong underlighting can be used to boost tile vibra ncy 01 your su bject, or highlight its internal texture, or it can be used to give it an ethereal glow,

Of course, if you happen to own a proper photogra phic lightbox so much the better, but if you don't, fear not, because there's nothing to prevent you from constructing your own.

The two main things you need to construct

an impromptu lightbox are a pane of glass (or sheet of clear acrylic) and a diffused light

sou rce sucl1 as a desk la mp. Bear in mind that the glass or acrylic pa ne needs be strong enough to support you r subject, a nd it a lso has to be raised high enough off tile ground so that the light source can be placed safely underneath without tumi ng the whole setup into a fi re haza rd .

Also, try to ensure you r light sou rce is as even a nd diffused as possible, either by using a

lam p with as wide a beam as possible, or by placing a white sheet or piece of card over (or under) tile pane of glass or acryl ic,

Once you've got your lightbox in place - be it commercial or horne-made - you're ready to try your hand at some new creative techniques.

Don'l be put off if you don't get it right first time; play arou nd with the exposures untf you get the final image you want. The veritable feast of props you can photograph is endless and you'll have heaps offun. Enjoy!


The setup

The above image shows how Chad lit his two black & wh ite portraits. He used one torch to light the model from the side, and shone another through a blind to create the effect of light - be i,t natura I or neon - coming from outside the bu i Iding.

This setup is something Chadleamt at an early age. 'I started out with torches before I cou Id afford tlashgu ns or strobes, and even now I still use my flashguns as if they were torches!

'All but one of the torches I use are small, pocket-sized ones. They allow me to be

more specific with my lighting and are easy to ta pe to anythi ng.'

Chad positions the two torches $0 that the direction of their beams work in harmony, 'I always have 011 e torch specifica Ily for the face and a notherfor the body at a more angled perspective,' he says. These brighten up the face and body to make them stand out from the shadows created by the otherflash I igh! shining through the blinds.

'If you play with the angle and distance you can alter the resulting shadows quite a bit.'

o :::J" OJ 0.

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How to shoot ...

Torchlight still life

What Digital Camera's Nigel Atherton used only a humble pocket torch to create this still life

I nspired by the torch lit portra its of Chad Coombs (previous page), I decided

to try the techniq ue myself using my pocket Maglite. I covered my kitchen table with a black cloth hungfrom two old light sta nds, and with my ca mera all a tripod I simply held the shutter open using a remote release and 'painted' the subject by movi ng the torchl ight

arou nd it. After some experimentation I settled on a n a pertu re of fIll a nd an exposure time of 30secs, at I SO 200, which gave me plenty of time to work around the subject. The great thing a bout this tech n ique is that no two results are the same and you can have great fun creating backlight, spotlight or dappled light effects.


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Before you can begi n, you'll fi rst need the right equipment. Butfear not, there isn't a great deal of it. Which ca mera body to use isn't a major concern, but the type of lens you use is. For this shoot I opted for a fast 70-200 mm f/2.8 lens. Its speed is beneficial, because even though you a re using a n a rea that has sufficient light, you'll need a lens that can transfer as much of that light to tile sensor as possible. The short telephoto range enables me to crop in and come out as necessary.

Because you won't be using any flash to light the scene, itis Ii kely you'll need to shoot at a slow shutter speed to captu re enough of the available light, so I would advise usinga tripod, even if you feel confident that you have

Once you have you rlocation sorted you need to do a bit of reconnaissance work to find the most suitable parts ot the house to Sl100t in. We were rather spoilt in our location, with no less tha n three areas being ideal for such a shoot, and once the first port of call was finalised we were able to set everything up, i nclud i ng working out what camera settings to use. This is where the grey card came into play.

Grey cards help the photographer get exposure and colou r bala nee right. To use them, set your camera to man ual exposure mode so that you have total control over it, then use the spot meter to take a reading from the card to see what the ideal exposu re would be in the available light. The grey card should be placed as close to the Sll bject you a re photograph i ng as possible, if noti 11 its place. There are noru les to say that the

steady hand. I'd recommend one that allows the camera to be moved from landscape to portra it format with the mi nimum of fuss. My tripod of choice is a Ma nfrotto, but any decent-quality one wi II do.


The next vital piece of kit is a reflector. There is a huge range ava i lable on the marketLastolite being a well-used brand - but if your budget is a problem, you can simply use a large piece of wh.ite ca rd or even a towel. The reason for usi ng a reflector is that because your light source will be coming in from one location, it mea ns that one side of you r su bject wi II be in shadow. By positioning the reflector

readings you get are tile only ones you can use, but it wi II give you a benchma rk from which to work. By using the spot meter you are isolating the area you wa nt to expose for. If, for exam pie, you used matrix meteri ng, you would be laking a wider read Lng around the subject and th is could come up with settings that will not expose your subject correctly.

Taking some test shots is an ideal way of determ i n ing what settings you will need to set your camera at, so before firing off the sh utter for real, I had a few test- runs first.

As with most portrait shots, and because we were not lighting the scene arnticially, I wanted to use a wide aperture to pick up all of the available light and at the same time blur out the backgrou nd. A wide aperture mea ns careful focusing is critical so that the eyes and a la rge part of the face are sharp.

on the other side of your su bject and facing it towards the light, you will be able to bounce the available light coming in through the wind.ow back into the shadows, giving a more ba lanced a nd natural look, a nd not a shot heavy in contrast. In this shoot we used two reflectors: a circula r Lastol ite reflector a nd a large piece of white card.

If you ate lucky enough to have an assistant you can ask them to hold the reflectors for you, but if th isis not the case you may require a stand that you can use as a prop. Failingthat, you can always ask the subject to hold the reflector themselves, but that could produce an awkward-looking shot. If you possess some light stands and clamps, you will be able to position the reflector accordingly.

A common photographic tool, and one that will ensure your exposure is correct, is a grey

ca rd. Placi ng it next to the Sll bject's face will allow the ca mera to determine what the correct exposure settings should be (see below)

Find a suitable model

Last, but by no means least, is the model themselves, It's a good idea to use someone you know if you're just starting out, as they'll feel relaxed and the shots will look more natural. For this shoot, we used Jenna, a professiona I model. Great subjects need little prompting, and they will constantly alter their pose so the photogra pher can ca pture a variety of different shots.

Also, allow you rself the opportunity to experiment. Don't feel you have to follow everything a book or person lells you.

When I took my grey card reading, with a se ns i tivit y

selti ng of ISO 200, I was given a shutter speed of 1/15sec. At this test-shot stage camera shake isn't a hugeissue,but for the real shots, I put the camera on a sturdy tripod and used a remote shutter release. This prevented wobble bei ng introduced and allowed me to get sharp

i mages even though I was using a slow

shutter speed.

And then, we begin ...


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