Tips

Turn On Hightlight and Shadow Warnings

Turn On Hightlight and Shadow Warnings

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.

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Envision the End Result Before Ever Getting Your Camera Out

Envision the End Result Before Ever Getting Your Camera Out

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.

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Listen to Photography Podcast to Keep Your Drive Alive

Listen to Photography Podcast to Keep Your Drive Alive

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.

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Look at other photos for inspiration, and to find out what you DON'T want your shot to look like.

Look at other photos for inspiration, and to find out what you DON'T want your shot to look like.

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.

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Set Your Picture Style In-Camera, Even if You Are Shooting RAW

Set Your Picture Style In-Camera, Even if You Are Shooting RAW

Alright, today’s tip is short and sweet. Your camera likely has different “picture styles” to choose from somewhere in the image menu. This is the style that is applied to your image when shooting JPEG files. They have preset image settings like contrast, saturation, and sharpness to enhance the image for what you are shooting. These styles are typically labeled Landscape, Natural, Portrait, Vivid, B&W, and so on. However, if you shoot RAW files these settings do not get applied to the image since you will be doing the editing at the computer. So there is really no need to set a picture style in the camera if you are shooting in RAW though, right? Wrong.

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Make the Camera YOURS by Using Custom Functions

Make the Camera YOURS by Using Custom Functions

I know what you’re thinking. We’ve all said it before. A camera is a camera is a camera. You change a couple of settings, press a circle and a picture shows up on the rear LCD (and hopefully a good one!). You could pick up any camera and after a minute or so be snapping away just like it was your own. If that is the case there is a good chance that you’ve never dived far enough into the pits of your camera menus to find the Custom Function settings!

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RAW vs JPEG. What's the Difference?

RAW vs JPEG. What's the Difference?

One of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make regarding your images is choosing which file type for the camera to record. All DSLR/Mirrorless cameras will come with the option of recording the file as a RAW file or a JPEG. I’m not going to hit you with all of the technical details about what each file type is and how many bits and all that. I’m just going to explain it in layman’s terms and help you understand the difference and when it may be suitable to shoot in each type. There are advantages and disadvantages to each and we’ll cover those below.

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Join a Photography Forum (message board)

Join a Photography Forum (message board)

One of the first things I recommend to new photographers is to go out and join a photography forum, or several in my case! There are many of these out there, and a lot of times there will be a board for your local area or state. The thing I love about message boards is that you have a whole community of people there to help you learn and grow as a photographer. Having the ability to ask questions and get several answers back, and usually pretty darn quickly depending on the board. Many forums have archives that date back several years, so there is a good chance that someone has asked the same question you want to know already. Just do a quick search of the forum and you may find your answer right away. If not, just post the question and community members will respond.

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What is a Diopter, and how do I set it?

What is a Diopter, and how do I set it?

If you’ve ever wondered what that tiny dial attached to the outside of your viewfinder is, the one with the little +/- on it, well, you wouldn’t be alone. I’m constantly amazed by how few people actually take the time to make sure this is set correctly. The good thing is even if your diopter is completely out of whack it usually won’t have an impact on the outcome of your image.

So what is a diopter, and why is it important?

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Understanding Your Camera's Semi-Automatic Modes

Understanding Your Camera's Semi-Automatic Modes

Yesterday we talked about the exposure triangle, and understanding exactly what happens in the camera when you make an image. Today we are going to talk about the different automatic modes that come on most cameras. Each manufacture is a little bit different in their labeling of the three automatic shooting modes, so for this example I will stick to the big three companies: Canon/Nikon/Sony. Nikon and Sony share the same markings, while Canon is a little different. If your camera is a different brand, refer to your manual to verify which of the modes matches the descriptions listed below.

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Learn the Exposure Triangle

Learn the Exposure Triangle

How exactly does the camera get the exposure perfect every time (in optimal conditions, mind you), and what are those numbers that are constantly changing on my display before I press the shutter button to snap the photo? If you’re like most people out there, you had the exact same questions the first time you tried using a camera more advanced than a smartphone. Even compact cameras have come a long way and have become very capable little machines in recent years and many offer similar setting and options to professional level cameras! So lets look at what is really going on inside your camera to get you to that perfect exposure.

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