Time and time again we see the most beautiful places photographed with a perfect sunset. We all want that shot. Then, before you know it, everyone has that shot. And when you do an image search on that location it’s nothing but sunset shots. That bright orange sky and glowing ball of beautiful energy floating just above the horizon. Then, after doing this 5 or 6 times you start to realize that the same shot that you’re out to get has been shot a thousand times before you.
When we first start shooting photos, our natural instinct is to pull the camera up to our eye, point at the subject and click away. Easy enough, right? That may work in sometimes, but in many cases you will want to get on the same level as your subject, if possible. Get out of the habit of standing and shooting at your eye-level for smaller subjects.
Now that you know how to use your histogram, lets look at another quick tip that goes along with it. If you see that a portion of your image is clipped, you may wonder how to know exactly what part of the image is blow out completely (overexposed), or which part is far too dark (underexposed). Most cameras now have a way to let you know right upon the image review.
The highlight and shadow warnings, often called “blinkies”, are an awesome tool to go along with the histogram. When they are turned on, your image will blink on all of the pixels that are either completely blown out, or completely in shadow. Some cameras will blink red for overexposure, and blue for underexposure. My Sony a6300 blinks black on the highlights and white on the shadows, so each camera may be a little different.
In this episode I talk with commercial photographer and top photography educator Joseph Linaschke, who many of you will know as PhotoJoseph! He is a regular on This Week in Photo, and has had his own podcast on the TWiP network called TWiP Apps. The current iteration of his podcast is now called Photo Apps. We discuss how he ended up with his first camera at 7 years old, all the way to becoming a Lumix Luminary and now producing some of the best educational works available on the web. Joseph has shot commercially for many large corporations, like Mercedes-Benz, Apple, and the US Army Reserves, and has also been on tour with the musical artist Seal.
One of the biggest things you can do to improve your exposures in a hurry is by getting to know your camera’s histogram, and what exactly all those peaks and valleys mean to the outcome of your picture.
Most all cameras now have an option to show you the histogram when review an image on the back of the camera. It will look something like this….
For far too long after getting my first camera (and probably into my second one…), I went out to shoot, but really only took what came to me. I wanted to shoot, but would just go somewhere pretty and snap what I saw without putting much thought into the image. I’d get home and pick a couple that looked good and I was happy. It was only after getting a flash system that I really started putting thought into a picture before I took it.
For example, I may know that the Dallas Skyline looks really cool from this one spot. Before, I would head to that spot, set up the camera and shoot. I didn’t put a lot of thought into the angle of the camera, the time of day or the overall composition.
Podcasts have been a huge factor in keeping my photography drive alive. I can listen to them during a commute, or when I just get a quiet moment at home and want to relax. The good thing is that there are dozens of good quality photography podcasts on iTunes (or Google) for you to fill your brain with. Another good thing is that they cover such a wide range of topics, from purely technical “how-to” style shows, to news, to gear reviews.
Like I said, there are a ton of podcasts out there (including one coming very soon for this very website!) so listen to several of them and find two or three that really speak to you. The two major players are the TWiP (This Week In Photo) network of shows along with the Master Photography Podcast network. Both groups put out extremely high quality content, with multiple shows on each platform releasing weekly episodes.
Suppose you’re going out to shoot your city’s skyline at dusk. I live in Dallas, Texas so there are about a million shots of the city at all hours of the day. I can use those pictures to help me find a composition that I like, or an angle to shoot from. Maybe the shot from my chosen location looks better in the morning rather than the evening due to the position of the sun.
However, I also use other photos of that location to help me choose what shots I don’t want to take. I want to make an image that is my image, not one that has been shot a thousand times before. It’s easy to run into this at highly photographed locations, national parks and other vacation destinations. The challenging part is finding a composition that hasn’t been done while still gathering all of the pieces of the scene. Always look for a foreground, a middle ground and a background element to have in your shot.
The very first piece of gear I recommend to everyone is your camera brand’s 50mm f/1.8 prime lens. All of the big brands have one, and they are all relatively similar in build quality, performance and price. Micro 4/3 users will have something in the 25mm range that will be equivalent.
In this episode I talk with nature and wildlife photographer Juan Pons. For many years he was the co-host of the Digital Photo Experience podcast, and is now a part of the wildly successful Alpha Mirrorless podcast on the TWiP network. Juan was in the technology industry for many years before finally giving that up to go full-time behind a camera! Now, he gets to lead workshops at some of the most beautiful locations on the planet! Juan talks to me about his path to becoming a professional and his recent switch to the Sony camera system after spending two decades with Canon. As usual, there are plenty of laughs along the way!