One important aspect of photography is getting critiqued. Having photographers honestly evaluate your images and tell you what works and what doesn’t is a great way to help in improving your photography. Critiques can be helpful even if it’s not your photography that’s being critiqued as you’ll see things photographers are doing right and things they are doing wrong. So for today’s edition of “The Link” I wanted to link you to an episode of “The Grid” that focuses on blind critiques of travel and landscape photography. The Grid is a great weekly photography podcast that airs every Wednesday and once a month they do blind critiques of viewer’s photos. So here’s the link:
One of the key aspects of photography that I think doesn’t get much coverage is editing. I actually read a photography book a few weeks ago in which the photographer used examples of his images to demonstrate how to make the images more interesting to the viewer. He spent a lot of time covering important things such as composition, lines, orientation, and other decisions that need to be made when framing a photo but he never once mentioned why he did what he did in the editing of his photos. He had made a lot of editing choices that really left me scratching my head as they were things I wouldn’t have done to the image so I as the reader only got a partial explanation of why he thought his images worked.
Editing is a complicated thing to write about, there are tons of different software makers who have their own tools to perform various functions and then there are plug-ins to photo editing software that add filters and other features for specific types of photography. But I don’t think there’s a lack of discussion about photo editing because it’s hard to talk about I think some think of photo editing as something bad photographers do, something people have to do because they didn’t get it right in the camera. This is wrong and editing isn’t some new fad that came about because of digital photography. The greatest film photographers in the world, the photographers everybody has heard of spent hours in the darkroom editing their photos so that they matched their vision. Photography is art and unless you’re doing journalistic or product photography where you have to demonstrate an accurate view of the person, scene, object you really should be editing your photos to eliminate distractions, flaws, and to put your artistic fingerprint on them. Anybody can publish what their camera saw, a photographer/artist publishes photos the way they see the scene or subject.
Today I want to provide an example of the types of things I do to photos and the basic editing you should be doing to your photos before putting them on display. Now, the things I’m covering don’t apply to vacation photos or candid family shots (of course you could edit those types of shots as I like to do at times) but is intended to demonstrate things you should be doing for images you want to display for art or profit. I will be showing you what I did to an image I took of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Modern Art in Kansas City, Missouri this past weekend and I plan on doing these types of posts from time-to-time to give you an idea of what you can and/or sould be doing to your images.
Here is a before and after of the photo we’ll be looking at today:
I produced this image by combining 3 exposures into a single HDR image, each image differed by 2 stops (-2.0 EV, 0.0 EV, +2.0 EV). If you have no idea of what any of that just meant please take a look at my post that discusses HDR photography. After opening the 3 images in Photoshop CS6 I converted them to HDR using Photoshop’s HDR Pro conversion. In the before and after photo above HDR has already been rendered for both images and that’s all I had done to the “Before” photo that is seen here. In Photoshop’s HDR module there are presets you can apply to the image that give it different looks and in this case I applied the “Surrealistic” preset to the image and made some minor exposure adjustments to that. This preset blew out some of the highlights, added more detail, increased whites and blacks among other things.
After rendering the HDR image an applying the preset I then needed to perform a lens correction. If you notice in the “Before” image the building kind of bows out in the center and you can see that the walls that stick out on each side of the building are curved. Obviously this isn’t how the building actually looks so I used the lens correction tool in Photoshop which uses the lens information provided by my camera to perform a geometric correction. The auto-correction wasn’t perfect so I had to do some manual adjustments to the image to make everything nice and straight. So now instead of a crooked building I have a straight building.
Getting Rid of Blue Fountain Lights
The first thing the eye is drawn to when viewing an image is the brightest aspect of the image. After applying the Surrealistic HDR preset the blue lights in the fountain turned bright white and that’s the first place the eye was drawn to. When I took this picture my intention was to remove the fountain lights anyway, I wanted to highlight the reflection of the building in the water (ice in this case) and the fountain lights really interfered with that reflection. So from an artistic standpoint I needed to get rid of these lights, even if I didn’t intend on removing the lights when I took the shot since the HDR preset made them so bright I would have had to remove them anyway to keep them from distracting the viewer.
To remove the lights Photoshop has a tool called the Patch Tool. The Patch Tool has a “content aware” setting that allows me to make the area I’m removing an object from look like another part of the image. To do this I simply draw a lasso around what I want to get rid of and then when I move the item to an area the place I moved the object from looks like the area I “move” the object to, even though I’m not actually moving the object there as it will disappear when I’ve completed the move. Now even though this tool does an awesome job it’s not perfect, especially in the area where the columns are reflected in the fountain. So even after I moved that light I had to spend a lot of time touching up the area with the patch tool in smaller segments to make the columns align where they should. This was the most time consuming part of editing the photo as I figured it would be.
Eliminating Space Between Bricks
The rim of the fountain makes up part of the foreground of this image and in the “Before” photo on the left-hand side you can see a space where two of the bricks join. I felt this was distracting and wanted to make this portion of the fountain look like a continuous piece of material.
It might not look the same but the above photo is of the same section, with lens correction, cropping, and obviously my logo it may not look like it but it is the exact same portion of the image. To eliminate the space in between the bricks on the fountain I used Photoshop’s Spot Correction Tool. The Spot Correction tool is used to eliminate unwanted spots from your images that appear because of dust or dirt on either your lens or image sensor. But if you have the “content aware” option selected you can “paint” the image with this tool to eliminate entire objects from the image or even build up objects. So I painted the crack with this tool which replaced the crack with the pattern of the surrounding stone. Now you can’t even tell it was ever there.
Replacing a Window
There’s a row of windows above the front doors on the center of the image, the lights are off on all of these windows except for one which has a green shade on it. I didn’t like this window and wanted it to match the others so I ended up replacing it with one of the other ones.
To replace this window I ended up going back to the Patch Tool. If you recall earlier I had mentioned that I used this tool to remove the fountain lights. Again, the patch tool replaces the area you’re removing an object from with the area you’re “moving” the object to (even though the original object is deleted and doesn’t actually move to the area you move it to). So I figured I could just draw a lasso around the window and move it to one of the other windows and it worked! The lighted window was replaced by a dark window.
The Normal Stuff
So that’s some of the special things I did to this image, I’m sure I’m missing some. Usually I have to edit an image more than once as I find things I need to fix that I didn’t catch the first time. That’s the case with this image so I will have to do some more things to it but I’m not going to point out what my mistakes were! So what’s “normal stuff”? These are the things I do to every image, regardless of whatever else I need to do to it.
Remove Spots. I zoom every image I work on to 100% and go over every inch of it to see if there are any specks or spots, I then use the Spot Removal Tool to get rid of these specks and spots. A simple click over them an they go away.
Sharpen. I sharpen every image. I don’t know a photographer that doesn’t do this. No matter how sharp your picture is you always want it even sharper, especially if it’s going to be displayed on computer monitors. So I sharpen every one.
Resize. For images I’m going to display on social media sites or my website I shrink them down to make the file size smaller and more manageable. I usually change the ppi (pixels per inch) to 72 and then make the image 1000 pixels wide. This makes the files small while still leaving me with a fairly good size image.
Sharpen Again. Once you shrink an image you have to sharpen it again because pixels are lost. So I do one more minor sharpening after shrinking my image.
Contrast, Detail, Blacks, Whites, etc. Before I do anything I’ve mentioned in this post I open the image in Photoshop’s Camera Raw and adjust the white balance if needed as well as contrast, blacks, whites, highlights, shadows, detail, saturation, etc. I’ll probably write a separate post at some point covering these settings.
So that’s it, and example of some of the work I do to images. If you’re publishing images you have to edit them to make them look right. This image actually didn’t take me long to fix (probably why I missed a few things) as I finished this in under an hour. But for some images it’s not unusual for me to spend over an hour or two editing over a few days to make it the way I want it.
In my first blog post I had mentioned that I will post articles from other sites that relate to photography. As of yet I haven’t done that and I’ve been posting my own written content and being as this weekend was Super Bowl weekend I had wanted to post something related to that. Obviously I’m not in a position to write anything about Super Bowl photography so I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to post my first linked post. I’ve decided to title this series “The Link”, get it? Today’s link is to a Verge interview with Super Bowl veteran photographer Peter Read Miller (you’ve seen his work in Sports Illustrated even if you didn’t realize it). So without further ado here you go:
I think the best thing you can do to improve your photography is to look at what other photographers are doing. It’s easy to get trapped in your own bubble as you keep busy with your own projects and executing the ideas that have been rattling around in your head. But every now and again you should step outside your bubble and look around at what everybody else is doing. The nice thing about modern times is that there isn’t a lack of places to seek out other photographers’ work, you can search images via Google, check out pages on Facebook, or look at thousands of pictures of people’s food on Instagram. The problem you’ll find though is that while you come accross some decent images you’re going to end up spending a lot of time wading through terrible pictures. So what are you to do?
A while back I kept hearing photographers talk about, and reading blogs referencing, a site called 500px. So a few weeks ago I signed up for a free account and have absolutely fallen in love with this site. 500px is a site designed to show off great photography and the name is a play on the ideal pixel display size for CRT monitors if you were wondering (500 pixels).
This site rocks, after you create your account (see account types below) you can upload your photos to the site and even have the option to sell your photos. 500px uses advanced proprietary algorithms that rates the popularity of your images on a scale of 0-100 using a number called the “Pulse” and is based on image views and other factors. Users are able to “like” your photos and add photos as their “favorites” which also determines your image’s Pulse number. If your Pulse number reaches a certain level your photo will be featured as an “Upcoming” image and once it reaches an even higher level it is displayed on the site’s “Popular” page which is a collection of the most popular images on the site.
Here’s an example of an image I uploaded to the site:
The site will tell you how many times your image was viewed, likes, favorites, highest pulse rating, etc. You are also able to include camera information and geographic location to your images.
500px offers 3 different types of user accounts; Free, Plus, and Awesome. The Free account is well, free, and allows you to upload 10 images per week and you can sell your photos in your “store” on the 500px website. Plus membership costs $19.95 per year and allows you to upload unlimited photos, organize your photos into unlimited “sets” and gives you some advances analytics regarding your uploads. Awesome membership is $49.95 per year and in addition to the features included in Free and Plus you get a personalized portfolio site in which you can track Google Analytics, use a custom domain, as well as other features. When I signed up they gave me a free trial of the Awesome account, but for what I plan on doing I’ll probably just stick with the Free account for now.
Once you open your account you can roam the site in search of great images and inspiration. Your homepage is called “Flow” and is a collection of your friend’s activity on the site (just like other social media sites you can follow others). From there you can click on the Photos link which is broken into three categories; Popular, Editor’s Choice, and Upcoming. You’re going to find amazing photos on the Popular page and since users can add tags to photos they upload you can conduct searches for whatever type of photo inspiration you’re looking for. Here’s a shot of the Popular page:
The Editor’s Choice and Upcoming pages also include some great photos but you’ll find the best of the best on the Popular page which updates frequently.
Now the downside to the site is that you’re going to feel like a terrible photographer after looking at some of these images, but for me that’s the point. You should always strive to improve and I like to compare my work to other’s to see what decisions I could have made when framing the shot or editing the photo that would have made it better.
Again, you need to look at other photographers’ work if you want to improve your photos and even though I’ve only been on the site for a few weeks I feel that I can safely recommend 500px as a great source for great images. Check it out at http://500px.com
HDR stands for High Dynamic Range and is a method that combines multiple exposures into a single image that provides the full range between the darkest and lightest areas of an image. This technique is great if a portion of what you’re shooting is in the shadows and the rest is in full light as it can bring out what’s in the shadow without blowing-out everything else. I absolutely love HDR and I use it anytime I do landscape or architecture shots as it helps make the image look the way I saw the scene as opposed to how the camera sees the scene. And churches!! HDR was made for places like cathedrals that have a lot of really dark lighting toward the ceiling and bright lights down around window level. But like everything else there are those who absolutely hate HDR. One of the things HDR allows you to do is give your images a really artistic (fake) look and once you learn HDR you can easily spot images that have gone heavy on the HDR effect. Photography is art after all and sometimes heavy HDR looks great, but what people who “hate” HDR don’t understand is that you can apply the HDR technique without making your image look fake or artsy, in fact a lot of the photos they love likely were made using the HDR technique. So here’s a basic overview of how to shoot HDR.
The only equipment you need is your regular DSLR camera (you could even use a point-and-shoot if you can control exposure settings on it) and a tripod. You have to use a tripod. You should be using a tripod anytime you’re doing landscape photography anyway but you really really need it when shooting HDR as HDR requires multiple exposures of the same subject. If you’re hand-holding your shot the subject just isn’t going to be in the same place in every shot no matter how steady your hand is, so good luck trying to apply HDR. You may also need photo editing software that supports HDR. Some cameras will actually process an HDR image in-camera (my Nikon D5100 does) but if yours doesn’t you’ll need to either buy HDR specific software or photo editing software such as Photoshop that can apply HDR. Even though my camera can do HDR itself I have no control over exactly how the final image will look so that’s why I do all of my HDR processing in Photoshop.
Applying HDR requires you to bracket your shots. What bracketing means is that you take a shot at a normal exposure and then you take several more shots at various “stops” above and below your normal exposure. If you look at your camera’s LCD screen or viewfinder you’ll likely see a symbol that has a “+” and “-” on it or you’ll see a horizontal scale with a reference to “EV” which stands for Exposure Value. This shows you if your exposure is set to be lighter or darker. To bracket your shot you would make the EV 2 stops darker to -2.0 (a “stop” is a full EV like +2.0 or -1.0) and take a shot, change it to -1.0 and take a shot, change it to 0.0 and take a shot, then +1.0 and take a shot, then finally +2.0 and take a shot. You don’t have to take 5 exposures as described above, you can do HDR with as little as 2 exposures or you could even take more than 5. I typically take at least 3 exposures if I’m shooting HDR. Many cameras have an auto-bracket setting so instead of manually changing your EV you can set it to 2 stops and each time you press the shutter it will automatically change the EV based on what you’ve set.
If your camera is able to HDR itself and that’s what you’ve programmed then you’re done at this point, you can download the image onto your computer and apply whatever edits you need to. But I prefer to use photo editing software for processing HDR as I get more control so if that’s the case once you upload your images and open them in your photo software you can then apply the HDR technique at which point the software combines your multiple exposures into a single image for you to edit. There are all sorts of values you can apply in addition to the basic contrast and exposure sliders but I’ll let you read your software user guide to learn about those.
Below are some examples of how HDR can look:
Above are a few examples of more heavy-handed HRD processing. The top image is of the “Space Stations” atop Bartle Hall in Kansas City, you’ll notice the real “grungy” look HDR give the image. Below that is a shot taken near the tracks in the West Bottoms of Kansas City and the HDR application in this instance makes the image look more like an illustration or painting. So when people say they “hate” HDR they are talking about these types of images. Below are two examples of HDR images that don’t look like HDR:
The top is an HDR image taken of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts that was taken with the sun behind it. Normally this would make the front of the building in sillouette or if I adjusted for that the background (notice the “Space Stations”) would be blown-out. But by using HDR I can keep everything in range. The building is darker but that was an artistic decision, since I shot HDR I could have the front of the building looking as if it was taken in direct light. Below that is a night shot of downtown Kansas City, since Union Station was so brightly lit with blue light a normal exposure would have rendered everything behind it unviewable, but by using HDR I can keep everything in view as I could combine the exposure of Union Station with the exposure of the buildings behind it so that they’re all properly exposed. This is one of the times I actually let the camera apply HDR for me to see how well it worked and it did a great job. These are examples images that have HDR applied but don’t have the fake or artsy look that those who say they “hate” HDR dislike, which is why those people probably like a lot of HDR image without even knowing it!
I usually write these posts the night before I publish them and I had some grand plans to post a more educational entry today but I wasn’t feeling that great so I’ve decided to do a shameless plug instead. This is a business after all so I guess I should do that from time to time. I recently did a product shoot for a lady that plans to sell jewelry online and thought I would show off some of the images from this session. I’ll likely write a blog entry at some point with tips and best practices for shooting jewelry but for now it will just be some pics with light descriptions. And if you hire me to do some work for your company you’ll likely get some free advertising on this site via these posts, but in this case I don’t believe she’s started selling them online yet.
The above piece (click image to enlarge) is a simple frontal view of the product. This particular piece is platinum and I find that platinum and silver look better on black backgrounds.
This image (click to enlarge) is the same piece as the first one you saw but taken from a more artistic perspective. It’s important as a seller to have multiple views of your product so I like to provide my client’s with multiple images of the products I’m shooting. The reflection is created by laying the piece on a glossy acrylic base (in this case I just used one of my black external hard drives, you don’t always have to spend money on special equipment).
Here is yet another image of the same piece we saw in the previous examples but this time against a white background. Since I took it upon myself to do the more artistic platinum on black shots I wanted to give my client a more traditional shot on a white backdrop in case they preferred that instead.
And simply to prove that I shot more than one piece for this client (I think it was around 30 pieces) here’s a shot of a different bracelet.
So if you are a small business owner, or know somebody who is, that’s based in the Kansas City area who needs product shots or other photography services (except people, I’m not equipped to shoot people and it’s not my specialty) please feel free to direct them to this site or have them contact me for pricing and availability. As a small business owner myself I can appreciate the need to keep prices low and although I feel my prices are very competitive they’re not written in stone and depending on the project there may be some wiggle room with pricing.
Note: I have not received any compensation from, nor have been asked by, Scott Kelby or Peachpit Press to review this product. Products or services you find in my reviews are ones that I actually use and recommend, or not recommend if that’s the case, and if I ever do write a review for a product that I have been specifically given/asked/compensated to review I will always disclose that at the beginning of the review article.
I’m an avid reader and I read to learn, so I consume a lot of non-fiction books on a variety of subjects throughout the year and needless to say a lot of the books I read have to do with photography. This is the first entry for an ongoing series of book reviews you will find on this site and I figured what better way to begin the book review series than by reviewing a book series focus on beginner to intermediate level digital photography?
The Digital Photography Book is a series of 4 books that are designed to take you from the basic snapshots we all start out taking and enhance your photography by adding new techniques, skills, and tips to your reputare. Each volume in the series builds upon the previous book and adds new information based on advances in software or hardware that happened between the time the previous volume was released to the time next volume was written as well as new tips and tricks the author developed or picked up from other photographers. The book is geared towards those who are newer to digital photography or enthusiasts who want to take their photography to the next level and gain insights on how the pros get the shots.
Here’s a bio blurb from one of the author’s websites, http://kelbytraining.com/ :
“Scott Kelby is the world’s #1 best-selling author of books on photography, as well as Editor and Publisher of Photoshop User magazine, and President of the National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP). He’s the co-host of the highly acclaimed video cast The Grid (the weekly photography talk show), and teaches digital photo and imaging workshops around the world. Scott is an award-winning author of more than 50 books, including The Adobe Photoshop Book for Digital Photographers, The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Book for Digital Photographers, and Light It, Shoot It, Retouch It: Learn Step by Step How to Go from Empty Studio to Finished Image.”
I absolutely love this series and can honestly say that reading these books improved my photography. Scott takes a unique approach to teaching photography in that he doesn’t spend a lot of time talking about the technical or philosophical aspects of photography, basically he writes as if you’re out on a shoot with him and are asking him direct questions. Want to know how to best shoot fireworks? Scott will tell you exactly how to do it without spending a lot of time explaining the small technical details that make the exposure settings work. That being said, as you get farther along in each book and series you actually end up learning the technical stuff because he’s been reinforcing it throughout the book instead of making you memorize some specific technical factors.
I also really enjoy Scott’s writing style, even though he has had a ton of success in photography he pokes a lot of fun at himself and a lot of his advice is very tounge-in-cheek. Pretty much every chapter begins with an intro that either has nothing to do with the chapter or just ends up being a lame joke. Yes there are a lot of groaners in there but to me that’s part of the fun. He’s also not afraid to pass along lessons he learned the hard way and fess up to mistakes he’s made as he’s developed as a photographer. Scott gives credit where credit is due, if he’s picked up a technique from another photographer he tells you who it was. I felt like I ended up chasing him down the rabbit hole and the further we got down the more avenues laid out before me to access works by other photographers and let me in on other resources I never would have known about otherwise.
Each chapter is devoted to a specific topic whether it’s on landscape photography, hot shoe flash, travel photography, etc and is full of tips specific to that genre. Even though I read these books cover-to-cover they’re great for reference as well. Maybe you’re focused on getting into wedding photography and those are the chapters you ended up reading and afterwards you put the books on the shelf. A few months later you’ve planned on going out for a hike and want to take some landscape shots, you can just pull these books off the shelf and review the sections on landscape photography or take them out with you to use as reference.
Scott’s photos are good. That may initially sound like a strange reason to like a book but I’ve read a ton of photography books and if the photographer’s photos aren’t good I end up questioning everything that photographer is telling me (notice I said books, not blogs, if you think my photos suck you should still read my blog!!). With Scott I know the tips he’s put on paper will help you to better get the shots that are of the quality of those displayed in his book. At the end of each book Scott will go through a series of photos and tell you how he got “the shot.” I don’t mean that he skims over a few things and keeps little secrets to himself, he tells you exactly what he did to get the shot from what equipment he used to what settings he had in the camera to what post processing work he did to it.
I highly recommend The Digital Photography Book series, especially if you are just getting into digital photography. Scott’s writing style is fun and easy and extremely effective. If you’re like me you’ll end up smacking your forehead when he explains very simple techniques the pros use to get a certain look that you could have easily been doing this entire time. If you want to take your photography beyond snapshots you should definitly look into buying this series.
With my product reviews I tend to tell you how much something costs, but with books I find prices change often and vary depending on whether you want to buy the printed version or in ebook form. I’m big on ebooks and buy them pretty much exclusively from Amazon as I find they usually have the best deal. You can find both the printed and ebook version of this series at Amazon as a set here (you don’t have to buy them as a set, you can also find them on Amazon individually) and you can also find them on Scott Kelby’s website here (and like on Amazon, you don’t have to buy them as a set).
My goal is to blog every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and I’ve really been enjoying my weekend plus I’m off today for Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday so I just wanted to provide a few quick tips for today’s entry so I can get back to enjoying my time off. Have a great day!
The first thing you should do when purchasing a camera is buy an extra battery or two. The last thing you want to have happen out in the field or while out on vacation is to run out of batteries. One of the major advantages to digital photography is you don’t have to worry about running out of film, but if you run out of batteries, well, you’re going to feel pretty bad about it. And if you’ve been commissioned to do a shoot do you really want to tell your client that you have to finish the job another day because you didn’t bring an extra battery? And don’t forget your extra batteries at home or leave them back in the hotel room!! I always leave an extra (fully charged) battery in the camera bag I’m going to be carrying with me for the shoot that way I never end up without one.
Almost worse than forgetting an extra battery is forgetting to charge your extra battery. The first thing I do upon walking through the door after a shoot is I take the battery I used out of the camera and put it on the charger and take a fully charged spare and put it in the camera. This ensures two things; the first is that the battery in my camera is fully charged and the second is that the backup I’ve put back in the bag after charging is also fully charged.
Keep them warm. Cold batteries drain faster than warm batteries, so when I’m out in cold weather I usually keep my extra battery in a pocket against my body to keep it warm, every little extra helps.
One last tip on batteries, if you’re buying a new camera (meaning not a used one) don’t go cheap and buy an off-brand battery. Your camera likely came with a warranty, if you put an off-brand battery in your camera and it causes some damage you can forget having your camera manufacturer repairing it under your warranty. In fact you can kiss the warranty goodbye. The other advantage to buying the battery made by your camera manufacturer is that it was designed to work with your camera’s firmware. What that means is that the battery indicator on your camera will accurately reflect how much of a charge you have, put in a generic battery and the indicator may display that you have a full charge when you actually only have half of he battery life left. That being said, as soon as your camera’s warranty is up and you need a new battery buy a generic one and save a few dollars!
Memory cards are the digital equivalent to film and just like batteries you should always have extra memory cards for all the same reasons you need extra batteries. Do you really want to end up having filled a memory card while on vacation by noon and you can’t shoot the rest of the day? The user manual that comes with your camera will outline what types of memory cards are compatible as well as what capacity sizes are compatible. When it comes to memory cards I say go with the largest size your camera supports. I currently have a 32GB card in mine, although I believe my camera can work with a card up to 64GB so I may have broken my rule on that one, I blame that on sticker shock. So let me rephrase what I just said. Be sure to buy a memory card large enough to support more than the number of images you think you’ll regularly shoot while keeping the cost within your budget. Your camera’s manual should also tell you approximately how many images you can fit on your card. So my 32GB card should hold 976 images when shooting RAW + JPEG or 3,376 images when shooting JPEG Large.
Besides capacity you should also consider the speed of your memory card. Yes, memory cards have different speeds. The card I use has a transfer rate of 20MB per second which is on the fast side, although I think I’ve seen cards now with speeds up to 45MB per second. The faster the speed the less time it takes images to transfer from your camera’s buffer and onto the memory card. Your camera has a very minimal amount of storage space that allows a few images to remain on the camera while waiting to be written to the card. So if you do a lot of sports or action photography where you’re shooting multiple frames with the press of the shutter button you’ll want a faster card so the camera’s buffer is cleared more quickly so you don’t have to wait to take more shots.
You need to format the memory card after first placing it into your camera, your camera’s user guide will tell you how to do this. I also format my card before each shoot. Once I’ve transferred images from the card and onto my computer and before I do another shoot I format my card. This deletes all of the images from my previous session and ensures that my card won’t be corrupted, if corrupted the card doesn’t save images and you’ve lost all of the day’s work.
Use Your Strap
Your camera came with a strap, use it. Don’t like the strap it came with? Buy one you like and use it. One thing I can’t stand is seeing somebody carrying a few thousand dollars worth of camera body and lens without using the strap!! One slip and it all comes crashing down to the ground. I’ve actually seen “photographers” say not to wear your strap or to just sling it over your shoulder (I put “photographers” in quotes because I’ve never seen any credible and respected photographers recommend not using a camera strap). I wear mine around my neck. I don’t care how stupid I look. I don’t care if I look like a tourist. I’d much rather look stupid for having my camera around my neck than look stupid from picking pieces of my camera off of the ground. Now even though it’s around my neck I hold it by the lens so it doesn’t smack into anything if I bend over, or knock anything expensive over if I’m shopping or walking through the Louvre! I also don’t trust the tip of carrying the camera over your shoulder. Now, I’m a pretty big guy with a broad chest and shoulders and I can’t fit a camera over my neck and shoulder so if you’re smaller you can probably carry it this way without issue. But I think people actually mean to carry it on your shoulder, with no part of the strap over you neck, kind of like a purse or backpack. I think this is as bad as not using a strap at all, I just wouldn’t trust myself to not have it just fall off my shoulder. There are special straps out there that go around your neck and shoulder that allow the camera to rest at your side so there are options out there. Regardless of what strap you use just be sure to use it!
Changing Your Lens
There are times you will need to swap out your lens during a shoot so here’s a few tips to keep your sensor clean. Your camera’s sensor is where the light is captured and processed into the final image, any dust or dirt on your sensor will show up as spots on your images. Obviously you want to keep your sensor as clean as possible. I try and change my lens as infrequently as possible, I usually have a plan when I go out to shoot even if on vacation and I have the appropriate lens on my camera before I walk out the door (although I have other lenses in my bag). A few tips when changing lenses though. Whenever possible I change the lens indoors, this way I don’t have to worry about the wind blowing sand or dust into my camera and I can use a table to help with holding the lenses so I don’t have to worry about dropping them on the ground. I point the camera towards the ground. Even when changing the lens indoors there are still dust particles in the air, gravity pulls these particles down. The last thing I want to do is point my camera towards the ceiling where the dust can fall in, I point the camera down so I don’t have to worry about it. Avoid moisture. Another downside to changing lenses outside is if it’s a humid day you’re introducing moisture into your camera body. The last you want is moisture corroding the inner workings of your camera, another reason to change lenses indoors.
I could keep going on and on with these tips but I wanted to write a quick entry for today so I’ll save the rest for another day.