Category - Beginning Photography

Photography is Potential

Does every image in a collection of RAW files have the potential to become art? Here are some insights as to how you can make assets realize their potential.

Why the Pros Shoot in RAW

The JPEG represented a huge leap in technology compared to film. RAW files are another leap – one that professionals were glad to make.

Photographers Make Their Own Opportunities

[smart_track_player url=”; social_linkedin=”true” social_pinterest=”true” social_email=”true” ]Subscribe via:   iTunes  |  RSS  |  YouTube  |  Google Play As a photographer, sometimes you get the sense that opportunity is just not finding you. There are no new places around you to take interesting new photographs and there is not the time or money to head out on a trip to somewhere exotic. You fall into a kind of doldrum, unable to move forward, finding that it becomes an incredible struggle just to get the inspiration you need to create something new. Worse, that attitude often extends into other areas of photography. Your work isn’t being published or displayed because no good opportunities have presented themselves to you, for instance. Once you get into this mode of thinking, it can be incredibly difficult to break free, to keep going. I’ve been there myself. The thing is, an opportunity is not something that will come to you. Though it is a challenge, an opportunity is something that each photographer makes for himself or herself. Let me show you some ways to make opportunity happen. Make Photographs Happen, Don’t Wait for Them It is common for photographers to become frustrated with the area that they live in. After so many years of exploring and documenting all of your favorite haunts, you start to think that you’ve seen everything there is to see and done everything there is to do within a certain radius of your home. Even more frustrating, as I said before, there just isn’t time or money to visit exotic locales as much as you would like to. However, I would argue that chances are, you have not seen and done everything in the area that you live in. Part of making opportunities is finding the time to explore, to ferret out the hidden secrets that you may never have noticed even though you’ve walked or driven past hundreds of times. Find a day where you can simply get out and drive or an evening where you can go for a long walk and do it. See what happens, see what you can find. If you still are not having luck, then it might be time to get a map of the city, county or locale that you live in. Look at every single route on that map, from the major highways down to the tiny little service routes and alleys that are open to the public. Make a point to travel every single road at some point. As you travel the roads, mark them off so that you know you’ve been there at least once. And, as you travel, keep a journal so that you know where you’d like to visit again. You’ll find that even within your own community, there are probably many, many roads that you have not traveled, which means many photographs waiting to be taken. If you have traveled all the roads within a certain area around your home, then maybe it is time to get a bigger map! Move on to the next county or city and start exploring again. Exploration isn’t the only thing you can do when you’re looking for a way to make photographs happen. If it just isn’t a good day for exploring, look around the house for things to photograph. You might find yourself spending the day on macro photography or creating still life images on your dining room table. Don’t Wait for Publication to Happen Almost every photographer harbors the dream of publication or recognition of one kind or another at some point in their careers. As with the photos themselves, however, you can’t simply wait for that opportunity to arrive. Instead, you have to reach for the opportunity — without letting a sense of discouragement get in your way. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to work toward your goal of publication or recognition. One of the easiest things you can do is start a website or update a website of your own that has been languishing for some time. This will get you some exposure and who knows, you may even have some offers come your way. But don’t stop there. Submit photographs to magazines or portfolios to galleries — and keep on doing it until something happens. Every photographer faces rejection, sometimes hundreds of times. Don’t let those rejections stand in your way. Another thing you can do is enter a photography competition. You may win an award and even if you don’t, the satisfaction of summoning the will to participate is something that you can use to encourage yourself. Strive to do as many of these things as you reasonably can and you will be miles ahead of most other photographers. And, like I said, don’t let rejection get you down. All photographers face it. Remember this: If you don’t submit, then there is no chance at all for an opportunity to find you. What to Do When You Can’t Figure Out What to Do No matter how hard you push, there will still be times when you simply don’t know what to do with yourself. Perhaps there just isn’t time to go out on a photo walk or lay out a still life on your dining room table. You’ve already worked on portfolios and submissions as much as you are able. Now what? I say, do something else! And by something else, I mean pick up a new photography book that you’ve not read. Go online and look at blogs and photography websites. Order a new magazine subscription. Perhaps you can slip away to a local gallery or museum for an hour or two. Make yourself a checklist of various “downtime” activities so that the next time you are feeling stuck, you can simply pick something from the list and move forward. There is always something that you can be doing to further your photography goals, to make opportunities happen instead of waiting for them to present themselves to you. Always be thinking about things you can be doing and then make time to get them done. And, of course, don’t forget to take a break once in a while. Though your efforts may yield opportunities aplenty, it is no good if you’ve exhausted yourself too much to take advantage of them fully!

8 Tips for Taking Great Wildlife Images at the Zoo

If you ask photographers, most would say that they’d love to go on safari or take a trip to an exotic land just for the opportunity to create amazing images of fantastic animals. However, it’s not so easy to break away from daily life for a trip to the wilds. Fortunately, you can still create some amazing images while staying much closer to home. Take a trip to your local zoo and use these tips to take breathtaking wildlife photos! 1. Choose the Right Day and Time The biggest mistake that some photographers make is going to the zoo on a weekend, during the middle of the day. If you pick the wrong time to go, you’ll spend an undue amount of time-fighting crowds to take photos of animals that are sleeping in a shady spot. Try to plan your trip for a weekday, and if possible, visit in the early morning or towards evening. You’ll experience fewer crowds, and the animals are likely to be more active, too. Morning and evening sunlight will also help you get that perfect golden lighting, and it helps make the colors pop. Don’t be disappointed if the day is rainy or overcast. These days offer some of the best opportunities as animals play in the rain. You’ll also have fewer harsh shadows, and the even lighting will help you get beautifully saturated colors. 2. Dealing with Glass In many cases, the animals you’re photographing are behind glass, which presents a couple of challenges. For one thing, the glass may be reflective. It may also be covered in fingerprints from other zoo patrons. Take along a cloth to polish glass, and wear neutral or dark clothing since bright colors produce more reflections. You may also want to use a polarizer to cut down on glare, but keep in mind that the polarizer will darken your exposure. 3. Take the Right Lenses If you plan to spend the whole day at the zoo, you probably don’t want to lug around a large equipment bag. You’ll need two things from your lenses: A wide aperture, and the ability to zoom in on faraway animals. The wide aperture is particularly important because the narrow depth of field will let you blur fences and other distracting elements. Choose lenses that will give you both wide apertures and a range of focal points to minimize the amount of gear you need to take. 4. Bring a Monopod The uncertain lighting within the shade or inside enclosures means that you’ll probably have to deal with slow shutter speeds at times. You can bring along a tripod, but a monopod is even better. It’s easier to move as the animals move, more portable than a tripod, and when you get tired, it doubles as a walking stick! 5. Be Aware To make images that look like they were taken while on safari, you’ll need to pay careful attention to your surroundings. Keep buildings, enclosures, and obviously man-made structures out of your images, and also pay attention to details like food and water dishes. If need be, get creative with your framing to ensure that these objects don’t intrude. You can also avoid obstacles by zooming in as close as possible. When you can capture a great expression, a close-up of an animal at the zoo has just as much power as an image that was taken in the wilderness. 6. Have Patience It may take time, but the animals you’re watching will eventually do something interesting or amusing. Watch the animals through your viewfinder as they play, and keep your finger on the shutter release – a great moment will come and you’ll be ready! The key to creating great images at the zoo is to look for unique moments that not everyone has the chance to capture. Anyone can take a quick snap of a napping tiger, but not everyone can catch him growling, pouncing or playing. 7. Get on Their Level Some photographers hesitate to crouch, lay down or climb onto a nearby bench, but if you want truly excellent images, then you need to be taking them from the animal’s eye level. Images at eye level are much more dynamic than those that are taken from above or below. 8. Be Prepared for Post Processing You’re sure to run into a situation where there is simply no way to salvage an image on-camera. Tinted glass and florescent lighting can skew your colors, while unavoidable objects will need to be cropped out or removed with a clone tool or retouching brush. Be prepared to do color and exposure correction with Photoshop, Lightroom or similar software. If the colors are way off, try a black and white conversion instead. The same goes for lighting – if you have blown out highlights or dark shadows, you may find that you can still turn the image into a beautiful piece of abstract art. If you have access to a nearby zoo, then give zoo photography a shot. With the right equipment and tactics, you can create images that any wildlife photographer would envy!