The Perfect Panorama

So we know that the iPhone can take panoramic shots now. Yep, it’s super easy, you just make that tiny little arrow (oops! you are moving too high!) stay as close to the horizontal line (shoot, now it’s too low…) as you possibly can. That might be all well and good for family reunions or a killer crowd shot at the Rolling Stones concert, but is that really what you are going for? If you have subscribed to this blog (which you most likely have if you are reading this) then you are seeking a better level of panorama. Let us share with you what we know.

Perfect Panorama Rule #1:

First and foremost, and we’ve said it in earlier blogs…tripod, tripod, tripod! Stability in every way is an absolute must when it comes to creating seamless panoramas so start with that great 3-legged foundation.

Perfect Panorama Rule #2:

Shoot vertically, in portrait style. You will have to take a few more shots to cover the entire landscape, but it will create the most seamless and stunning panorama.

Perfect Panorama Rule #3:

This one is SUPER important; change your white balance to cloudy. If you leave it on auto, the balance will change between each picture and then you’ll be looking at a patchwork panorama. Nobody wants that.

Perfect Panorama Rule #4:

For the same reasons as above, set your exposure. See what it is through the viewfinder, switch to manual and then keep it at that same exposure. We don’t want any auto exposure going on and thus changing the image from frame to frame.

Flickr djshanu
Flickr djshanu

Perfect Panorama Rule #5:

Third times a charm. You guessed it, follow the same process for your focus. Once you’ve set your focus, turn off the auto feature so the focus remains the same for each frame.

Perfect Panorama Rule #6:

When capturing each segment, make sure to include at least 15% of the previous frame in the new frame. Having overlap will be important when it comes time to put everything together.

Perfect Panorama Rule #7:

Use a shutter release or a self-timer. We always want our photos to be tack sharp but in this particular instance, having zero camera shake is even more dire because it will be far more noticeable when the frame right next to it is clean and crisp.

Perfect Panorama Rule #8:

Last but definitely not least, HUSTLE!! Move quickly through capturing each frame so clouds or lighting or a new object coming into frame will not create inconsistencies in your image.

That’s it. Super easy and super worth remembering. Your next panorama will be so spectacular, it will make your viewer feel as if he or she were there. Take that iPhone 5!

Incredible Hand-Held Shots Without the Camera Shake

incredible-hand-held-shots-natural_tripod-djmatsuda
Flickr djmatsuda

A tripod can be a photographer’s best friend when it comes to tack sharp, steady shots. However, what if that funky, artistic, avant guard image you are about to capture does not allow for the wide stance of a tripod? How can you assure your client or yourself (possibly the most demanding client of all) that you will still be able to provide the needed clarity? Below are 4 quick tricks to keep in mind so steady hand-held camera shots can become your “in a pinch” specialty.

Incredible Hand-Held Shot Tip #1

Natural Tripod Formations – First, use that creative eye of yours and look for fences, railings, boulders or any other stationary object. All you need is a place to rest your lens and it will take the focus off your arm shake and put it back where it should be, on the moment.

Incredible Hand-Held Shot Tip #2

Lean on Me – If Mother Earth did not provide any tripod-esque opportunities, use yourself as the brace. Lean against a wall, lean against a building or whatever you can find because the steadier you are, the steadier your shot will be.

Incredible Hand-Held Shot Tip #3

Less Than the Best – Believe it or not, perfect lighting will not always exist for your shoots. I know, terrible but true. However, next time you find yourself in such a predicament, and don’t want to deal with camera shake as the lens focuses, switch your camera to continuous shooting or “burst” mode. Hold down the shutter release and take a stream of photos. Chances are at least one of those multiple photos will be as sharp as you need it to be.

Incredible Hand-Held Shot Tip #4

The Death Grip – This term was coined by photographer Joel Lipovetsky and when used, can provide extra stability and ultimately sharper hand-held shots. Start by putting your arm through your camera strap so the padded part is sitting just above your elbow on the underside of your arm. Then wrap both sides of the strap around the outside of your wrist leaving just enough room to hold your camera snugly in your hand. Use your other hand for additional balancing.

Adding any one or a combination of these tricks to your photography resume will increase your versatility and ultimately, your marketability.

incredible-hand-held-shots-sitting_steady_shooting-library_of_congress
Flickr library_of_congress

 

 

Lightning and Fog – Two Elusive Muses, Captured

Elusive-Muses-Captured-Lightning_hunty66

When it comes to artistic muses, lightning – with its white hot bursts of power and fog, with its soft, almost ethereal quality, are often found at the top of most photographers’ lists. While capturing these two natural phenomenons can be tricky, they’re not impossible. Here are simple steps and techniques you can use to capture both, faster than Mother Nature can say, “Cheese!”

Lightening – Dramatic, Powerful and Just a Wee Bit Dangerous

A gorgeously captured shot of lightning as it streaks across the sky is downright dramatic. And as we all know, the power behind lightning is a force to be reckoned with, and therefore it goes without saying (but we’ll say it anyway), that standing outside in the midst of a lightning storm can be dangerous. So, before we tell you how to capture the lightning, here are some safety tips to help prevent the lightning from capturing YOU instead:

  • Photograph at a safe distance from the action
  • Do not stand directly in the rain, under a tree, etc.

Now that we’ve got that settled, let’s move on to the how-to portion. First things first: you’ll need a tripod and a shutter release cable or wireless shutter release. Both are absolutely necessary as they will prevent any and all vibrations from thunder, wind, rain or your shaky hands from blurring the “money” shot.

Next, switch your camera mode to “Bulb” or the “B” setting. This allows your camera’s shutter to remain open for as long as you hold down the shutter button. You’ll also want to use f/8 as a good starting point. (This can be adjusted later, if need be.) Once you’re settings are dialed in, compose your shot by aiming your camera toward the area where the lightning has been most active.

When the see the first lightning strike, press and hold your shutter release cable button down. Then, when you see the second lightning strike, pause for a half-second, then release the shutter….voila! That should do it! Granted, it may take you a few times more to get your timing down exactly right, so don’t get frustrated. Just keep trying and you’ll get it eventually. (The shot that is. Not the actual bolt of lightning itself. Ahem.)

Elusive-Muses-Captured-Fog_acidzebra
Flickr: acidzebra

Fog – Misty, Intriguing and Despised by Light Meters Everywhere

A gentle rolling fog can add an element of mystery, enchantment and perhaps even a touch of “spooky” to your shots – if you can capture it! So what’s a frustrated photographer to do?

Begin by aiming directly at the fog itself while holding the shutter button halfway down. Next, you’ll need to adjust your camera’s Compensation Control (you can find this just behind the shutter button) and increase the exposure by one stop. (You’ll do this by holding down the Compensation Control button while simultaneously turning the Command Dial – the black dial on the back of your camera) until you see the “+1” in your viewfinder.) By doing this, you’re basically telling your camera, “You’re wrong, fog is good and we’re gonna do things my way!” When you’re finished capturing the “misty mornin’ fog”, don’t forget to return your exposure compensation setting back to zero; otherwise the rest of your shots will be overexposed by one stop all day long. (And trust me – that’s pretty frustrating, too.)

And there you have it, folks. Two of nature’s most elusive muses, captured right before your very eyes. Experiment with these two techniques and watch how fast you ramp up the cool factor during your next outdoor shoot!

10 Landscape Digital Photography Tips

You’re driving down the road when suddenly a breathtaking scene is upon you. You hurriedly pull over feeling it’s your lucky day since your camera happens to be in the back seat. You excitedly photograph the scene thinking how great it will be to capture this beauty to share with others. Then you push play to look at your image. You feel let down. Why doesn’t the image on your screen compare to real life?

Does this sound familiar? Continue reading “10 Landscape Digital Photography Tips”

12 Elements of Composition in Photography, Part 2

Photography Composition - Element of Color

Here’s Part 2 of 2 of our Photography Composition post. If you missed Part 1, check out 12 Elements of Composition in Photography, Part 1.

With so many images all around, what will make someone stop and look at yours? Grasping elements of composition that naturally draw eyes to an image or part of an image will help take your photography to a new level.

Color

I was reading about King Henry VIII the other day. Apparently he and Anne Boleyn wore yellow after the death of his first wife, Katherine of Aragon – the queen beloved by the people. When you read that, how do feel they were reacting to her death? My first thought is they were jerks to wear such a joyful color (they claim they wore yellow because that represents mourning in Spain, where Katherine was from).  The point is, color can represent and even trigger emotions and moods. It’s hard to imagine a picture of someone wearing yellow as depressing.

Photography Composition - Element of Color Continue reading “12 Elements of Composition in Photography, Part 2”

12 Elements of Composition in Photography, Part 1

Composition photography - Element of Repetition

With so many images all around, what will make someone stop and look at yours?

Grasping elements of composition that naturally draw eyes to an image or part of an image will help take your photography to a new level.

Rule of Thirds

Just put your subject in the middle of the viewfinder and click – right? Wrong.

For a more professional and balanced image, imagine dividing the scene into thirds both horizontally and vertically.

Composition photography - Rule of Thirds
[Photo Credit: Rachael Olson] Continue reading “12 Elements of Composition in Photography, Part 1”

Understanding Aperture: the Key to Being Artistic

f/5.6 Aperture Example
f/5.6 Aperture Example
f/5.6 Aperture Example / Photo by Rachael Olson

People often ask me how to get a blurry background. Something about a blurry background makes people think “professional”.

First, if you want to sound cool, call it bokeh (pronounced: boke-uh), which means “haze” or “blur” in Japanese.

Next, you need to understand depth of field. This way, you don’t let in just enough light, but instead you control depth of field to achieve what you want artistically. Continue reading “Understanding Aperture: the Key to Being Artistic”