Arquivo: Podcasts

The Mode Dial Explained

AUTO – AUTOMATIC MODE

Automatic mode is the camera mode most, if not all, beginners start out using. In this mode, that camera choosing all the settings for you based on the light that is coming into the camera. The ISO, the aperture, and the Shutter Speed will be automatically adjusted just based on the light in the scene. If the camera detects less light than if needs to take the photo, if will automatically fire the flash to help with the exposure.

 

PORTRAIT MODE

In Portrait Mode, you camera will select the widest aperture (smallest f-number) to really make the subject that you focus on standout and the background be out of focus. It will then select the best ISO and shutter speed to match that aperture.

 

MACRO MODE

Using Macro Mode, you camera will try to allow you to focus closer to a subject to make it look like a more macro (super close-up) shot. Just make sure that when you a try to focus on a subject upclose, you can will stop focusing if you get too close. This is because camera lenses have a minimal focusing distance. This means that’s a certain point, you will start to be out of focus.

 

LANDSCAPE MODE

Landscape mode is almost the opposite of portrait mode. In this mode, you camera will try to select a very narrow aperture (larger f-number) so that you you will have the greatest depth-of-field as possible. One thing to note is that depending on your scene, the shutter speed that the camera automatically selects might be too slow to handhold. It would be helpful to have a tripod handy.

 

ACTION MODE

Using Action or Sports mode, is basically a telling your camera that you want to have the fastest shutter speed possible. This is helpful when you want to photograph really fast moving subjects like runners. You camera will choose the fastest shutter speed possible based on the available light and will also set the ISO and shutter speed to match.

 

NIGHT PORTRAIT MODE

Night portrait mode is a fun mode to use when you are trying to take photos of any subject at night or in low-light. When using this mode, your camera will use a slower shutter speed to try and capture the as much available light as possible and right before the photos is done, it will fire the flash to light up the subject in the foreground. This is usually called rear-curtain or second-curtain flash.

 

APERTURE PRIORITY

Now we ar getting into the semi-manual modes. The first, and the most widely used, is Aperture Priority mode. Using Aperture Priority, you select the aperture you want to use and the ISO, and your camera will select the appropriate shutter speed. Even if you don’t want to worry about the ISO, you can still set it to Auto and your camera will tighten select the Shutter speed and the ISO.

 

SHUTTER PRIORITY

Shutter priority mode is very similar to aperture priority mode but in this case, you select the shutter speed you want every photo to be taken at. Then, your camera will select the ISO (or you can sell it yourself) and the aperture to get a neutral exposure to match the shutter speed you set. In this case, if the camera can’t get enough light to achieve the shutter speed, it will fire the flash.

 

PROGRAM MODE

Program mode is a mode that is almost like Auto mode with the exception that you can’t control the ISO. This is probably the least used mode on the mode dial but if you want to have a little bit on control over your image while still not worrying about all of the settings, this mode is great for that.

 

MANUAL MODE
Manual mode is pretty self-explanatory. This is the mode that most every beginner fears but wants to start using because it gives you the most control over your image. Basically, using this mode, you control everything, and your camera will do nothing to adjust the scene if it is over exposed or under exposed. It takes a lot of practice to be able to use manual mode during your photo shoots but It certainly can be done.

Best Settings for Social Media

In this episode of the photography podcast, we go over the best settings to use to make your photos look as good as they can on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. This may seem like a simple thing and something that you can easily overlook but since social media is the way most business market these days, it is important that we as photographers make our images look the best they can everywhere.

 

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Photography Q&A

In this episode of the Sleeklens Photography Podcast, we talk about your questions.

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Thank you to those who have submitted the questions below!

  1. How can you achieve a bokeh effect in your backgrounds using a regular lens? -Kent Harrison
  2. I just got my first drone and was wondering if you have any apps that show where it is legal to fly? -Lara W. Smith
  3. I have a Canon T5i that I bought used as a background video camera. I have noticed that it usually quits recording after about 9-10 minutes. Do you happen to know why? -Michael Ticks
  4. I have found that my photos seem to be blurry even if using a small aperture. How can I correct this? -Angie Consworth
  5. What are the best settings to photograph the moon? -Neil S.

 

To submit your photography questions to be featured on the podcast, email them to [email protected]

Landscape Photography Tips + New Video Course

Have you ever seen those awesome landscape photos that just look they were taken on a different planet? Shots that have amazing light, great composition, and amazing editing? When you see shots like these you instantly get jealous that it isn’t a shot that is in your portfolio. It may seem difficult to capture photos like these but mostly it is just a matter of using some simple tips to get the best image possible. In this podcast, we are going to go over different tips for getting better landscape photos.

 

Do Your Research

One of the most important things a landscape photographer can do to instantly improve their photography is to research possible locations. This might sound like a boring step but you will get a better idea of the types of photos you can shoot while you are at a location. Two of the best tools to use for researching your photo locations is Google Maps and Google Earth. Both tools allow you to zoom in to see a street view and even change the time of day and see the lighting situations using Google Earth.

 

It’s All About Light

Plain and simple, lighting is key when it comes to landscape photos and even photography in general. This is why when you are going out to shoot landscape photos, make sure you have the best lighting possible. One way to do this is to go out and shoot in the morning, evening, and at night. These times of the day have the best lighting scenarios possible for photography. It is usually had to get a really interesting and creative photo during mid-day.

 

Make Sure You Have a Quality Tripod

You might think that a tripod isn’t going to make a huge difference in your photos but having a solid and sturdy tripod can make all the difference when it comes to getting a clear and sharp image. Don’t think you are going to get a great landscape photo by getting a $15 tripod. If you are looking for a good tripod at a great price, you can check out the Sleeklens Daily Deals section for special discounts on various types of gear.

 

Pay Attention to the Weather

Just like shooting at the correct time of day is important, the weather is also very important. If you are wanting a really awesome sunset with tons of clouds then it is important to check the weather in the location you are wanting to shoot to make sure you will actually have clouds. There are many different apps that can help with this but the one I personally use is called Storm. It is currently only available for iOS but you can tons of different options for seeing cloud cover, sunset and sunrise times, and even lightning strikes.

 

Don’t Settle for Easy

Everyone knows the photographer that takes the easy route to get their photos and most of the time you can tell that they are the lazy photographer. Don’t be that person! Find different angles, different routes, shoot at different types of the day and experiment with different lighting effects. Sure it might take more time to get a photo, but it will be worth it to be different from all the other photographers.

 

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3 Big Questions Asked By Beginners

When beginners first start in photography, they typically have a ton of questions but there are 3 big questions that are asked the most. In this podcast, we will talk in-depth about the top 3 questions.

 

Question 1: What is the Exposure Triangle?

The exposure triangle is a collection of “settings” on your camera that control the amount of light that comes into your camera. These settings are Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO. The Aperture comes the amount of light coming into your camera by adjusting the blades in your camera lens to either open up wide or to narrow them down. The Shutter Speed controls the light by opening and closing the shutter door in your camera to allow more or less light to hit the camera’s sensor. And lastly, the ISO adjusts how sensitive your camera’s sensor is to light.

 

Question 2: Should I Shoot In RAW or JPEG?

One popular question for beginners is should I set my camera to capture JPEG photos or RAW images. The short answer for most photographers who want to get the most out of their images is shooting in RAW is the best option. That being said, there are times were shooting in JPEG can actually be beneficial. We will talk about that is this episode of the podcast

 

Question 3: What Lens Should I Invest In First?

This question is a popular one but it is probably the toughest to answer because it depends on the style of photography you shoot. No matter what style of photography you shoot, however, there is one lens that I love. It is the 50mm f1.8 lens. Most camera models have a 50mm prime lens and it is a great, and fairly inexpensive, camera lens that is good to keep in your camera bag. We talk about why in this episode.

 

 

Photography Projects For The New Year

With the new year starting, there are many photography goals. One of the greatest things you can do for those who are new in photography, want to start a new project of their own or those stuck in a creative rut and don’t really know where to go from here and maybe bored with photography, I will show you that there are a couple of self-initiative projects you can do to really drive your creativity and get more familiar with your photography. If you are new, these two projects can really help you out and you actually have a choice of which project you want to choose.

365-project

What do I mean by a project? There are two things you can do in order to get familiar with all the photography related things, get you thinking about different things and to keep your mind creative and actively working to make better photos. The first thing is kind of obvious. Some people have actually heard about this one but nobody has really thought that this is a good idea. I actually have done this one and it’s called the 365 project. What this means is that for the whole year, you have to try and take one cool, creative photo per day. It means taking a really good photo and editing it really nice and maybe posting it in your portfolio, facebook page, just share with your friends or keep it to yourself. Basically, you try and create a very interesting photo per day.

In case you are listening to this, you might be thinking that this doesn’t sound so hard but it’s actually very difficult. I personally did this when I first got my “real camera” and I tried to take a photo every day and while I managed to take some really cool photos, most of them I had really to stretch in order to find something very creative. There was a lot of time when I knew that I wanted to catch a very cool sunset, sunrise or something like that and I would actually have to get up and shoot that photo early in the morning when I wasn’t really used to getting up that early in order to grab that sunrise photo. You have to try and get out of your comfort zone and create a really interesting photo. There are some days you have to get home from work and grab your camera and figure out something interesting and if you can’t figure out something, you just end up pointing at the sea or something like that.

Despite this, the experience really pushes you into creating a really great photo. That’s what we call 365-project, basically taking one photo per day for the whole year and it’s really cool once you get the year done and you get to see all those photos and how you’ve progressed as far as your creativity and quality of your photo from the first day to the last day. This also helps you get used to your camera and also try new photography techniques that you might not have tried in the past and this is a great way to show those off. You can also post the photos in some sort of public platform such as Facebook, and let people know you are doing this because that keeps you accountable for doing this and also allows people to see what kind of stuff you are up to. If you are a photography business owner, you can actually make a small low tab on your website and say that this is the kind of photos you are doing all year round and people can check in and see. This also updates your website which also helps the SEO. The 365-project can really benefit you if you want to share publicly.

Project-52

Because project 365 can be a little bit difficult, project-52 becomes another option for you to consider. Project-52 is basically taking one photo per week which gives you a little bit of a leeway if you are not able to take a photo per day. However, it can also be difficult because you might let’s say that you’ll slate your project 52 every Friday and by Monday you are already thinking you have 5 more days to figure things out and you end up waiting until the last minute. Personally, I have done this project as well but it took me a long time to come up with something creative.

To help you along for those who are just starting in photography, you probably don’t want to jump straight to project 365use it can be a little overwhelming at times but project 52 is more manageable and easy to track. If you want to start project 52, I have put together a really nice, simple worksheet that will give you some tips and a guide to follow per week. There are some things you can do to help succeed with this project and we will discuss them here briefly. These do not have to be done in the order they are listed but they are just labelled as 1-52 to give you a jest of what they’d follow into.

  • Rule of thirds photo – This is the first thing you should do and it basically means doing a composition with the rule of thirds. We too can be a self-portrait and by this, I don’t mean taking a selfie with your cellphone, iPhone or something like that but making a really creative self-portrait. As photographers, sometimes we don’t think about taking photos of ourselves and there are times we could use one for ourselves and creating a really nice self-portrait could really help. You get to learn some different ways of taking pictures of yourself and also get some promotional photos for your business.
  • Light painting – This is yet another topic you can do. It means taking long exposure and shining maybe a flashlight somewhere and light painting something.
  • Architecture – If you are a portrait photographer and mainly interested in portraits, this topic could make you interested in different fields of photography. Going out and trying to get a really creative architecture photo could be a good one as well. Some examples of this could be fireworks which can be done very well over the holidays, urban decay photos, long exposure photography or iPhone photography not necessary using an iPhone but a smartphone to shoot and edit on your phone before exporting the jpeg to post anywhere you want to post. These are different ways of learning photography.

The list has 52 topics which you can choose from and figure out exactly how you want the photo to come out. You can follow the 52 topics one by one or re-order them the way you need to. However, this is a simple worksheet that you need to get a little familiar with different things in photography. So, doing a project like 365 or 52 is a really great way to get you thinking about different creative aspects of your photography. You can download the worksheet using the link

https://lightroombrasil.com.br/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Sleeklens_Project52.pdf

Featured Item of the Week: Project 52 Topic Worksheet

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Drone Flying and Photo Taking Tips

Drones are becoming very popular especially when it comes to photography despite the fact that they’ve been with us for a very long time. A lot of people it seems are acquiring drones with the hope of furthering their photography experience. I personally, got so excited when I got my drone for use in my real estate photography and as soon as I flew it and could see the photos I could capture. Not only was I impressed by the real estate photos but also the landscapes I could capture. It opened my eyes to different possibilities when it comes to drones. I have a couple of flying and camera tips in case you might be getting your drone for photography. Here are the tips starting with the simple ones when it comes to flying the drone: –

  1. Staying in the beginner mode when you start

A lot of most popular drones out there have what is called a beginner mode. This might be different depending on the model that you have but what this basically does is that it limits you from going to certain heights and a certain amount of distance from you. This means you can probably go approximately 50 ft or 100ft above the air and 200ft or 300 ft away from you in any direction. This is a helpful thing when you get started because what this does is that it helps you to know the drone. Obviously, when you fire the first flight you don’t want to be taking off and getting it 1500ft away from you where you can’t even see it, you are not even sure where the buttons are and all that kind of stuff coz you will eventually lose it if you do it that way. So, the beginner’s mode is a really cool feature where you can just practice flying in your small area and get to know the camera control and how fast your drone can go, the speed, the acceleration of going up and down. I stayed in the beginner mode for about 5 flights when I first got my drone and this helped me get used to the control. This helps you a lot because you get comfortable with the controls, which is very important when you’re flying a very expensive piece of machinery because you want to be sure that you can bring it home at the end of the day.

  1. Do it in an open field

Next to the beginner mode is to have you try controlling your drone in an open field or set of some sort. This is a really common sense thing but a lot of people don’t it. They’ll get their drone, run out in the backyard in a residential area and start flying around. This can’t end up well and since they are not used to flying it, they ran into a house or something like that. Not only will you damage your drone but you could also damage a home. Being in an open field or area is a very good thing. A lot of people don’t do it but this is a common sense thing that should happen. When practising in an open field, you are not going to run against anything else apart from the ground and if you do that, it will only be your fault but at least you won’t damage anything else and be liable for any other situation.

  1. Paying attention to the wind

This is another obvious thing but these days a lot of drones can actually handle a fair amount of wind. If you’re flying out there and have a 10m/h wind gas depending on the drone, most likely it won’t be able to handle that. It’s not going to blow it away or anything like that. So, paying attention to the wind is a very important thing but when you’re looking at the wind, don’t just pay attention to the wind speed but also pay attention to the wind gas because you could have 10 miles per hour wind but you could have higher wind gas and that could have potential thing especially if you are flying at a high altitude. As such, you should pay attention to the wind gas and the feature item of the week will be an iPhone app that can help you handle that but I will go through this later.

  1. Mastering the Figure 8

This is a side technique of flying your drone in a shape of an “8”, meaning that you’re flying it in big loops. The mastering of figure 8 is the kind of thing that allows you to get used with the control of your drone because if you are flying it away from you, it’s very easy because ‘left is left and right is right’ but when you’re flying it towards you, ‘left is right and right is left’. The controls have flopped that way in different directions and it can very hard think about that depending on how your drone is flying. So, if you fly your drone in a figure 8 right in front of you, it will help you get used with the controls in a way that if you’re flying it away from you can press right and it’ll go right or left and it will go left but when you are flying it towards you, you reverse the directions and start thing about it. All that this does is that it helps you think how the direction will be different and this is what is called “mastering figure 8” and it helps you understand the control directional.

  1. Landing and take off

Some drones are super easy when it comes to taking off. Some of them have a take-off monitor which allows you to see the take-off button once you plug them into your phone. Clicking the button propels your drone to around 4 or 5 feet and it stays there until you command it to go anywhere else. Take off is super easy even if you don’t do it on the phone or the control of the monitor. Landing, however, can be the hardest part and a lot of people think that this is very easy and only requires dropping down the drone and having it hit the ground. This is specifically difficult depending on the speed and could take you up to 5 minutes to land it safely because it is slow and you do not want to come crashing to the ground. Some people like to stop the propellers or mortar maybe a foot above the ground but this could be damaging especially if you have a camera underneath. So, practising the landing is also very important. I can certainly land my drone but a lot of time I like catching my drone mid-air depending on the situation and then turn off the propellers. The reason why I do that is because I might be in a residential setting where I’m taking photos of a building or something like that and there might be tall grass or cars in the area. Landing your drone is very important but if you are in an open area there is no reason for you to catch it. Instead, you should master the landing technique and do it safely.

  1. GPS

GPS is a very popular thing and is built into a lot of drones these days. Basically it allows you to connect to the satellite centers opening the earth and kind of tells your drone exactly where it is and if you have a hover setting on your drone, what it can do is hover in one particular spot so you can let go of the controls and you don’t have to touch anything and it will stay in one spot. If you don’t have GPS turned on, then that’s when you need to pay attention to the wind and something like that because wind can actually push your drone far away from you if you are not paying attention. As such, when at all possible especially if you are doing something simple like taking a photo of some sort of landscape, you might want to keep your GPS on because you can really dial in the composition when you’re trying to take a photo and it’ll pretty much hover where it is. If you try some other modes such as altitude mode or program mode, it’s going to be a little bit difficult especially in the beginning because it will want to drift but GPS mode keeps it from drifting.

Finally, we will discuss a few basic things when it comes to flying a drone and these are known by many people but they don’t pay attention to them. This is where a lot of people get into trouble with drones. In the US for example, there are at least some regulations that one should stick to. The main three are:-

  • Line of sight – always make sure you can see your drone. This is very hard to do especially because the thing is so small in the sky and if you fly it 800 ft away from you, which is legal, then it’s pretty difficult for you to see it, only seeing a small speck in the sky. But definitely, you will need to get to the line of sight so you can see it when it flies.
  • Do not fly above 400 ft – 400 ft is actually the maximum altitude for a lot of drones’ flight. This is intended to stop it from flying into any other commercial or private airspace. There are a lot of drone software you can use to set the maximum altitude and if you find it flying above 400 ft then it’ll stop and won’t go any higher.
  • Stay 5 miles away from any airport – By this, I don’t mean a huge, international airport, No. There are sometimes when maybe there’s a small municipal airport where only small planes take off and land, you will need to keep off that as well. There might be unpaid airports out there where there are crop planes, it’s really difficult to stay away from those because they can be everywhere but try to look at the map and see where there might be an airport near you and try to stay away from that as much as possible.

Now we get into some camera tips when it comes to using your drone. Obviously, cameras are really awesome to have on your drone because you can get some awesome shots in unique perspectives. The following tips are essential especially in the beginning: –

  1. Try the automatic mode

A lot of drones out there allow you to dial your shutter speed, aperture, ISO and others manually or you can have the camera dial it in for you. In the beginning, I will definitely recommend just paying attention to the automatic mode and let the camera do everything for you. Let the drone dial in all the settings because, in the beginning, you are concentrating on flying the drone and trying to compose a really cool picture. So, if you’re flying the drone and trying to pay attention to this, you don’t wanna have to stop the drone and look down at the screen and start dialling a bunch of settings. Pay attention to the automatic mode until you get really comfortable with it and that’s when you can start dialing the settings especially the ISO (that’s a big one because in most of the drones it tops out to around 30 to 100 or something like that and it can really latch at that really quick). If you are shooting in some cloudy situation, your ISO will probably be very high and being able to control the ISO is a very important thing.

So, on that topic, let’s talk about shooting in different conditions. Probably, the best condition to shoot it according to my experience will be a partly cloudy condition because you don’t have those high contrast areas and those really stand out especially when you’re photographing from above. Sunny is also a perfect condition to shoot in and although it might not be perfect for the actual results for the photo, because of the very high contrast areas. I like to shoot in partly cloudy situations, since overly cloudy situations are a bit difficult to shoot in, not because of the flying conditions but because you will have a little bit less light hitting your sensors on the drone and it might be a little bit noisy in your photos.

Another thing you need to pay attention to is shooting in shooting in DNG if possible. A lot of these drones do shoot in jpeg only but there are some especially the DJI series which will allow you to shoot in DNG. So you have digital negative which gives you a little more flexibility when you’re editing in Lightroom or Photoshop although not a whole lot because the quality of the files is still a bit lackluster depending on the drone that you have but you have a little bit more leeway when you’re editing so if it is possible you should shoot in DNG if your drone allows it.

Before committing to any type of shooting with your drone especially if you’re doing a commercial shoot, make sure to practice and learn the buttons. If you are flying your drone and trying to pay attention to not hitting the trees or buildings, the last thing you want to do is to try and not ram your drone into anything and also try to figure out where the buttons are so as to take a photo or to control the camera. As such, you should really practice with your drone in an open field and make sure you master the controls. This will mean not only practising the flying but also the camera as you’re flying it. It will be good to have the memory of where the buttons are located and how sensitive they are especially the turning and tilting of the drone.

These tips will come in handy if you acquire a drone and want to start off with drone photography. Just make sure you master them and you’ll enjoy the experience.

Feature item of the week | Hover App http://www.hoverapp.io

Our featured item of the week has to do with drones. It is an app which we have talked about in other episodes and it’s called hover. This app is available for iOS and I also believe it’s available Android as well. Hover allows know your location through GPS in your phone and it will automatically look for the weather conditions and also give you notifications for airports in the area, wind gusts, among others in a very easy to view window. At the very top, you don’t have to look for anything in specific but it says “ready to fly”, meaning in your location you’re ready to fly and there is nothing that’s going to impede you. Obviously, if you are within 3 miles of an airport or something like that it’ll say, ‘caution’ and you can click on that and it’ll show you what the caution is. This is built-in in a lot of different apps for DJI and they’ll notify you when there is an airport, high wind or something like that but it is good to have a separate app just to be sure of everything.

5 Photoshop Tips for Photography Editing

Photoshop is often overlooked when it comes to your regular Joe who is editing photos. Typically, everybody throws their photos in Lightroom because it is so easy to catalogue all your photos and you can do a lot of really awesome basic edits to your photos and it handles ninety to ninety percent of the jobs. However, Photoshop is obviously a really powerful and popular tool and a lot of people still use it for much of their photos. As such, I’m going to talk about 5 photography editing tips you can use when you’re using Photoshop. Some of these tips are known while others are little known. Some of them are like workflows you can kind of consider but I’m gonna go over these tips that I typically use when I jump into Photoshop. These tips include: –

  1. Dodging and burning

We’ve all heard about dodging and burning a photo and what this basically means for those who don’t know is to selectively highlight or darken parts of your photos. This used to be a technique used all the way back in the film, where we kind of expose a little bit more of a photo or not expose some of the parts during the film process and it’ll basically create some highlights and shadows in selective parts of the photo. In Photoshop, we have a dodging and burning tool that is built into Photoshop and does exactly what it says it does. A burn basically means that it darkens a part of the photo and a dodge means it lightens part of the photo. These tools are built in Photoshop and you can find them in the Toolbar on the left side of your Photoshop window but there are different ways to achieve this kind of dodging and burning effect.

One of the most popular and that does give you a lot more control is actually using a layer and a brush. What I mean by this is that if you open a photo and create a brand new layer right above your photo, change the blending mode of the blank layer to overlay and then lower the opacity of your brush to approximately 20 and then change the color to black or white, black will darken the photo while white will lighten the photo. You can paint strokes across the photo to gradually darken or brighten the photo. This is a very popular technique and it gives you more control because if you happen to mess up by any chance, all you do is to delete that layer and do the dodging and burning process again. You can also lower the opacity of that particular layer and that will lessen the effects of the dodging and burning. There are multiple dodging and burning techniques you can use but this is by far the one that gives you more creative control over your photos.

  1. Using Layer Mask

At this point, we will talk about using layer masks instead of eraser tools. When you’re trying to get rid of a background, for instance, if we have a model that’s on a white background and we typically want to remove that background, what we might do is to select the model away from the background by using any of the selective tools including a quick mask, magical wand or something like that. Once you select the model, just use the eraser tool to erase the white background. That might seem like a typical common practice. However, instead of using the eraser tool, what you can do is to actually grab the layer mask and apply it the selection. When you do that, you are able to make a layer mask from that selection and you can remove the model from your photo. But let’s say you happen to select too much or you cut off the models hair, what do you do about that? You can take the layer mask and paint back the hair but if you use the eraser tool, you won’t be able to do that and will instead have to make a duplicate layer of your image and try to kind of bring that back or start the process all over again and that might seems like a real time waster. So, using the layer mask option instead of the eraser tool is actually a real time saver and it allows you to fix the little problems you might run into when removing an object from a background.

  1. Dual View Photo Editing

This is a really popular workflow if you’re doing a lot of retouching. If you are a portrait photographer and doing a lot of retouching to your models and maybe you’re removing blemishes from their faces or something like that, there is actually an option in Photoshop which allows you to open up a document in two separate windows. This means you’ll be opening one photo in one window and that same exact photo in another window and no matter what edits you do to one of those documents, it reflects in the other document. For example, if you’re retouching somebody, you can zoom in to a photo to a 100% if you want to see how the photo looks like when zoomed out instead of keeping zooming in and out and flip over the other tab and that’ll show you the model completely zoomed out with all the effects you’re doing to the other window. So, the way to actually do this is to open up your photo in Photoshop and on the top of your Photoshop window go to Window Arrange > New Window of > and then it will say the file name of whatever file you are working on. When you click that, it’s going to open a brand new tab in Photoshop and you could go back to the original photo and maybe zoom in to a 100% thereabout and start removing blemishes from your photos and if you want to see how the photo looks like a 100%, just hoop to the other tab where it’s already zoomed out to a regular fitting window and then go back. It’s a really great workflow option and I recently found out that option while doing a little bit of portrait retouching and it’s a very fantastic way of simplifying your workflow without having to zoom in and out all the time.

  1. Camera Raw Filter

This is a very popular tip but one that a lot of people actually forget. When you open a raw image in Photoshop will automatically open up in a program called camera raw because Photoshop conatively edits raw files.  From there you can make your normal adjustments like you would typically see in Lightroom including exposure contrasts, highlights, shadows and others. You can then open the edited photo directly in Photoshop and do all your advance retouches as you would do to any image. However, if you like the way Camera Raw is laid down, you can open the camera raw filter. Even if you have a Jpeg image, you can actually open the camera raw filter and still get all the advanced options that you’d typically get in a way that they are laid out nice and easy. It doesn’t matter whether you have a tiff file, raw file or PNG file, you can actually open those images in the camera raw filter and just kind of edit like you typically would. Just because you’re editing in camera raw doesn’t mean you can make any major adjustments like you would do when editing a raw file. So, if you have a jpeg and you’re trying to make many adjustments like bringing back a whole bunch of details and the shadows among others, it’s not going to bring back like it would in a natural raw file. You are basically getting an interface, the way it looks and the way it’s laid down and thus you can easily find some really simple adjustment tools. Just think about that and if you want a really easy way to maybe just change the exposure easily, you can just hoop to the camera raw filter and do it that way.

  1. Using actions for very simple tasks

A lot of people might think that you have to do everything manually just because you are dragging a photo into Photoshop and that’s how Photoshop is. But if there are some simple tasks that you typically do to every photo that you drag to Photoshop, why not create some simple actions which can do those tasks for you? for example, every time I drag a photo into Photoshop, I want to change the resolution of that photo to 300ppi or dpi so that when I have the option to print it’s already at 300 and thus I have a very good resolution there. Normally, when I drag my photos into Photoshop they’re at 240 and what I did was to create a simple action to apply the image resolution and change it from 240 to 300 and I also apply a little bit of sharpening as well. That’s the action that I click on every time I drag a photo into Photoshop. It saves me a couple of seconds but if you do it every time to every photo, that’s a great amount of time you’ll typically be saved. You can also create some advanced actions to help do things like changing a photo to black and white (maybe there’s a certain effect that you always like applied to your photos). Also, remember Sleeklens does sell a whole lot of actions which are super advanced and you can check those out as well.

Those are just 5 simple tips for Photoshop editing and although they are really simple things, many people typically forget them because they’re wrapped in their own workflows. However, it is always good to experiment with other different types of workflows and settings in Photoshop to continually improve your workflow.

This episode was dedicated to Photoshop and we have a special announcement for you. We just released our first Photoshop course and this is for Photoshop photographers. This course is dedicated just to photographers showing you different scenarios and tools that a beginner might need in Photoshop when trying to learn how to use the Software. It can be tricky and intimidating when you open up Photoshop and fine all those tools. But when it comes to Photography and Photography editing, Photoshop has some really simple tools in there and these will allow you to really enhance your photos. If you want to check out this Photoshop for Photographers’ Beginners Course, just visit Sleeklens and click on the courses’ tab and you’ll see it there. It’s a 5-hour course and you get a lot of downloads of the course. There are about 25 videos in there so you can learn a lot of different things ranging from portrait retouching to using layer masks to using clipping masks, smart objects and all kinds of stuff such as adding special effects to your photos among others. These are typically essential for beginner photographers who might want to learn when they get into Photoshop.

Reasons to Shoot in the Golden Hour

This post will cover the golden hour. I shall seek to answer questions such as, what the golden hour is and why you should be shooting in the golden hour timeframe.  I will also go through a few examples to give you a reason why you should be shooting during the golden hour and not just going out in high noon in some parts of the world and just grabbing some boring shoots. There is a really great benefit for you going to shoot in the golden hour.

What is golden hour?

The golden hour is not technically an hour but a timeframe when the sun is setting and you have some really awesome colors and different tones in the sky than you would in any other time of the day. You may have noticed that when you see many of these professional photos and especially portrait photos that are taken during sunset or around that timeframe, the photos tend to look a little bit different. They look a little bit warmer and have a little bit of mood to them and they just make an all-around better photo. With this in mind, I will go through some examples why you should shoot during the golden hour and I know it can be a bit hard to go out there after you get off work and have a little bit of time to spend with your family and everything but it pays for really awesome photos to get out there and take pictures at sunset or around sunset to make sure that you get some really different and awesome photos. Here are some of the reasons why you should shoot during the golden hour:

  1. Soft light

The first reason why you should shoot during this hour is that you have an opportunity to photography in really soft light when the sky is sort of low. During this hour, the sun is a little bit less harsh and there is a little bit of soft light going on. Because the sun is somehow lower on the sky, the light is kind of somehow diffused and a little bit contrasty in your photos meaning your highlights are not going to be as bright and your shadows are going to be as dark as you would be shooting in a perfectly bright sunny day. This allows you to get a little bit more information on your photos so you can have a little bit more leeway in playing with your photo and editing the same. The hour just makes for great diffused light and this is a great kind of photo which you would require a whole lot of different gear to shoot during the daytime including reflectors, block lights, and portable reflectors to bounce light back in but when you start shooting in the golden hour, you kind of get that automatically without having to take a whole bunch of gear with you. This is a really awesome benefit for shooting in golden hour.

  1. Color

Color is the other reason why you should shoot in the golden hour. Color is a very important part when it comes to grabbing some awesome photos because if you have this awesome, warm magenta color in your photo automatically without doing any editing, then you have a fantastic-looking image 99% of the time. Color is a really fantastic way to improve your photos and all you have to do is go out during sunset and get that oranges light where the sun is low on the horizon and just make for a cool, awesome photo and also different looking. Unless you’re a professional photographer who gets out there and makes it a point to shoot portraits during the golden hours, the majority of the time, you probably don’t have a portfolio full of sunset photos and as such it is a really awesome thing to get out there and start shooting those photos. Just by having the color and the nice soft light, you will have a really great beginning of the photos before you even start editing. Side-riding is also another thing that I would like to mention. When you have side riding especially when the sun is pretty low on the horizon, you have a really nice level of the sun to you instead of having it up on the sky and catching sun flares and lens flares, this is a really warm sun hitting the sides of your face and you get side riding. This is such a different way to accent different parts of your photos especially if you have a landscape photo by any chance and you have that nice soft sunlight and are getting that side light hitting parts of the landscape that you’d never really notice, even something as simple as grass or wheat in a field or something like that has a really different looking feel to it because of that really nice, warm soft sunlight.

  1. Silhouette

This is somehow easy because it’s a classic photo. If you want to have a really amazing silhouette, especially if your sky is just killer when you’re going out to take these types of photos, silhouette can make a huge a huge impact on your photos. If you point the camera right at the sunset and maybe the sun has gone down on the horizon and you still have all those warm colors popping up, if you have an option for a nice silhouette you will be able to photograph almost anything out there and it’ll look really amazing. Just because you have that nice silhouette and you have no details but are really concentrating on the figure of the person or whatever object you are shooting in the really awesome sunlight with the sky on the background, it’s going to automatically make for a great and amazing photo.

  1. Glowing, simmering portrait-type of a look

What this means if you’ve ever done photography and have the term ‘hair light’, typically there is a light when you shoot portraits in the studio that can accent the hair in a way that separates the subject from the background using a nice little pop of a light near the top of the head and usually kind of accents part of the hair and so that’s why it is called hair light. But when you have the golden hour sun hitting the portrait and the warm golden sun hits the hair, it automatically makes for a really amazing looking and feeling moody photo. If you’ve ever seen those folks out there who maybe shot directly into the sun and were able to have a flash to pop up a little bit of flash into the subject so you get a perfectly balanced exposure for the subject and the background, you automatically have a nice fill light with the flash but you also have a really nice and warm hairline.

  1. Backlighting

Backlighting is kind of the same way and you can classify it as somehow a hair line but when you’re shooting maybe a portrait and you want to have a backlit subject, you can actually do this with a pop up flash and have the warm, golden hour sun behind your subject and you fill it in a little bit with the flash and automatically have a telephoto lens or some lens that has a really low aperture number, meaning a very wide aperture opening, if you have that type of lens meaning f-2.8 or f-1.8 you can get that really awesome color in your sky and a backlit subject but also have an awesome bokeh and those two combined will pretty kill every photo out there. It will make every photo you shoot with those two color combinations to look automatically awesome.

  1. Getting a cool sun flare in your photo

This is somehow considered a golden hour type of shoot but it doesn’t have to be.  A few hours prior to writing this page, I went out and photographed a home and right behind it was the sun just one hour or so before sunset which gave it a really nice sun flare. Since it is winter here in the US, the sun was right behind the home and I saw a peek through the tree and I wanted to get the sun flare peeking through the trees just to add a little interest to the photo automatically. Just the idea of seeing that sun flare gave the idea of capturing the sun flare to have it in the photo otherwise it I would have photographed a boring straight shoot of a home. But the little sun flare peeking through the tree adds something to the photo. Obviously, if it was noon I wouldn’t be able to get that and if I did, it wouldn’t be that great of a photo because I would have very harsh shadows especially in a clear day. So, seeing that automatically pops up a little bit of warmth, sun flare and visual effect to the photo and that can really go a long way.

These are some of the quick examples as to why you should shoot in the golden hour and although it might be hard as pointed out in the beginning, when you get out you’ll enjoy a great experience and see how nice it is outside. Pretty much any subject you photograph is going to look like an amazing subject because you don’t deal with this kind of lighting most often. Real photography is all about lighting and if you can enhance your lighting by going out at a different time of the day, then it’s well worth it. You can also check out for different Lightroom brushes from Sleeklens to enhance your sun flare effects on your golden hour photos.  There is one brush particularly known as “Golden Hour Golden Sun” and it’s a really awesome brush which I use all the time.

Is HDR Photography Dead?

HDR photography was a much talked about a topic a few years ago. However, it has since died down and this lead me to think about the topic, “Is HDR photography dead?” I will start with a brief introduction on what HDR photography really is and then talk about whether this technique is dead or not.

What is HDR photography?

For those who may not be aware or familiar with the term or the topic, HDR stands for High Dynamic Range and when people talk about it, normally they refer to a technique of blending photos but this is a term that basically talks about how your camera handles extreme light situation and extreme dark situations in the same scene. Basically what I mean by that is if you go out on a bright sunny day and you are to set your camera into a neutral exposure where your light meter is at zero and your camera takes that as the perfect neutral exposure, and you take a photo, depending on the kind of a camera model you have, you are probably going to see that there are some spots that are extremely blown out or extremely bright and then there are other parts which are extremely dark. So, if you have some extremely bright situations and your camera can’t handle that, then your camera might not be good at dynamic range. Same with the darks, if you take a photo and your darks are almost on the black side, then your camera can’t handle the dynamic range very well.

There are some cameras out there which can handle dynamic range way better than other cameras brands and models. What this means is that the camera can handle really dark situations or areas of a photo in lighter areas of that same scene and you still get details in those areas instead of them blowing out or being completely lost and having no data. So, there are some cameras out of the box that can handle dynamic range very well and you really don’t have to use some certain techniques to bring some of that back. Sure, if you bring the photo into Lightroom or Photoshop and bring down the highlights and then increase the shadows, you are going to get a little bit more details out there but some of these camera brands and models typically have a very awesome dynamic range and this is especially helpful for landscape photographers who may be shooting in bright situation and they want to still have details and some sort of foreground elements and other things like that.

It is also good for real estate photographers who want to capture the inside of a home and not blow out the windows because typically the inside of the home is darker than the outside. As such, you can handle that a little bit better with some of these camera models. So, just to give a general idea, the Nikon D810, D8-100/E, D750 and even the Fujifilm XE1 are really good cameras that have very awesome dynamic range. I’m not trying to single out any particular canon but these are some of the cameras which have been rated to have a really good dynamic range and you can see that Nikon typically handles that better than any other camera brand. The new Canon EOS 5D Mark IV also handles dynamic range a little bit better than some of its predecessors but it does a good job. Nikon typically has a really good dynamic range as well as low light noise.

The kind of slogan for most of the camera brands when it comes to Nikon vs. Canon is usually that Nikon can handle the low light situation than Canon but Canon has that really awesome looking color and for some reason Canon is always associated with color and although there might be some argument about that going back and forth but this is an age-old question as to which is better but really there is no better camera but whatever works better for you depending on your type of photography. So, those are some camera brands and models to think about if you are looking for a camera that has some really good dynamic range.

Just because you might have a camera that does not have a good dynamic range and can’t handle that very well doesn’t mean that you can’t capture that. You just need to go through a couple of different steps in order to get a really good dynamic range and that’s where the HDR photography movement kind of came. What basically this means for those who haven’t shot HDR and are not really sure how to do it, you’re basically shooting the same scene with the same settings minus the shutter speed. So what you typically do is set your tripod up with your camera there and you maybe take a scene that’s for example, f8 ISO 100 and then you’ll change your shutter speed accordingly to try and get a darker photo, a neutral exposure and a bright exposure. That’s the basics of HDR and so there’re different ways you can take HDR when it comes to getting maybe 7 images, 10 images or all kind of series of different images but typically the HDR is technically going for 3 different exposures. A lot of cameras have blackening where you can do an automatic blackening where the camera automatically takes the shots that are maybe 2-stops underexposed, a neutral exposure and 2-stops underexposed or you can do it manually by dialing the shutter speed yourself and just looking at maybe the histogram to try and get a better idea of how the photo will turn out. But that is the basic idea for setting up an HDR photograph if you want to do an HDR photograph or run it through software.

One quick thing before I move on to kind of the typical software that’s used for HDR photography is that I notice that a lot of people when they start getting into HDR photography, they’d try and hand-hold it and sure you can try and manipulate the software and do a little bit of de-ghosting but you really might need to try a tripod if you can because that way everything is stable and neutral and you don’t have to increase your ISO. I’ve seen a lot of HDR photos that are very noisy and this is probably one or two things maybe they’re dialing in more of the exposure composition than they should, where they are trying to increase the shadows and decrease the highlights way too much maybe or they have an HDR photograph they’re trying to shoot but they have a relatively high ISO. A lot of people think that just because your camera might handle ISO and noise better than some cameras then you don’t have to worry about the ISO performance for a camera when it comes to HDR photography. But you need to keep your ISO down as real as it can go. This is mainly due to the fact that when you run your photos through an HDR program, whatever program you choose to use, it kind of amplifies the noise a little bit. As such, even if your camera can shoot a low ISO at 100, if you go to 200, you are going to see a little bit of a noisy image. Again, depending on the camera model, you’re going to see a little bit of a noisy image because your camera is kind of amplifying that when you run it through the software.

HDR software

There is a bunch of different HDR software which you can find especially if you do a little search on Google right now. All these will claim to be really good when it comes to HDR photography but some of the top HDR programs that people use are obviously Photoshop, Lightroom, Photomatix Pro and Aurora HDR. If I had to rank all these programs based on the one that is best for doing HDR photography, then I will have to go with Lightroom as the best to do HDR photography with. There are a few reasons why I like having my HDR photos in Lightroom and number one is that you are dealing with raw files and although you can deal with jpegs and TIF files working with raw file gives your program a lot more information to deal with and ultimately you get better results. You also get to do the whole process from start to finish in one program and thus have all the awesome capabilities than you would normally have if editing a single photo and that’s being able to catalogue your images, being able to edit and go back and do non-destructive edits to it. This is not as cumbersome as it would be to do this in Photoshop where you have to import it into Photoshop as a script, open the file, play around with it and try to get the best image and then save the PSD and then you might need to go back to the camera raw filter to make more edits and this becomes some sort of a mess. However, Lightroom really does a fantastic job of making a HDR photo that doesn’t really look like it’s an HDR photo and that’s kind of the whole goal nowadays when taking an HDR photo as you don’t want it to really look like it was taken through a program or like you generated a file and made some adjustment. You want it to look like a very natural photo because that is what it kind of what it’s all about. It’s not applying really nice looking grunge effects to a photo but making a photo that has a very good dynamic range where you can still see a lot of bright areas and bring back a lot of the dark areas.

We mentioned a program called Photomatix and this was the first program I used for HDR Photography and without putting the blame on this software, there are many filters it offers from where I think HDR gets a bad rap. One of the filters in there is called Painterly where you can just click and it makes some real artistic looking effects to your photos and I think people saw that and they were like ‘oh these are some new looking photos that we’ve never seen before. I wanna share this and see how it looks but originally probably it looked really awesome because there was something different or new that we’d never seen before and everybody just kind of ran with it…’ also everybody in HDR photo looked just the same and had this ‘paintry’ feel to the photo and that kind of got a bad rap according to me. I don’t think you can really edit one of those today and people say, ‘wow that looks really crazy’ but instead they say it looks like an HDR photo.

When it comes to HDR photography nowadays, I think people just want it to be an HDR photo and if their camera doesn’t handle the High Range well, they want it to be an HDR photo without looking like an HDR photo. That’s kind of my whole goal when I’m trying to capture a scene with a lot of dynamic range, just to make it not look like an HDR photo at all.

One quick trick when it comes to HDR photography as I mentioned earlier is to take three different photos thus giving you three different files which you run through this kind of software. You can actually do this with one single image but it wouldn’t give you the same best results as you would receive if you were using 3 different raw files to deal with. You can actually work with a single raw file and it just takes a little bit extra work but again the quality is not always the same. I have done this on occasions when I was in a fix and I needed to have a little bit more dynamic range. It definitely helps a little bit but not as much as obviously having three separate files to deal with. So, the way to deal with one image is to actually take the raw file and drag it into camera raw (I like using it because it is a quick in and out program) and then take the neutral exposure and do a little bit of adjustment by maybe doing the highlights and the shadows by either increasing/decrease the highlights and increase the shadows and do a little bit of vibrancy Nothing major really but just slight adjustments before saving the file as a Tif. File. I will keep that file open and then do the same thing with that file except that I’ll leave all the settings that I just made but I’ll take the exposure and maybe knock it down one or two steps depending on how deep I want to go with the shadows. So, I’ll drag it down there and I’ll save another Tif file and then I’ll take the exposure and bump it up one or two steps overexposed and save that as another Tif file. As such, I will technically have 3 files to deal with and the reason why I’m doing Tif files and not jpegs is because I want something that’s totally uncompressed to help the quality of the photo. Jpegs normally give you a compressed version of what you had before and that’s how you start seeing noise, ghosting and defragging and stuff like that.

If you want to do this technique, the best thing is to do a Tif file. I will then take those Tif files and run them through an HDR program like Photoshop or Lightroom or Photomatix among others and then try to adjust them from there. If you do this and you are not getting the same results as you would when editing one file altogether, this could be the way to get some stuff back but again this is what  I will only use in a case of emergency situation and needed something that looks ‘HDR-ish’ or brings back a little bit of details. If I want to get a real HDR photo, I will have to use 3 individual photos.

Now that we know what HDR is, we go back to our original question on whether HDR photography is dead? My short answer to this is “No”. The reason I say this is that it’s not really as it was but is kind of revolving a little bit. What I mean by that what it seems to me is that people are totally ok in doing HDR photography if it is done almost the manual way. What I mean is that maybe you are taking 3 separate photos but you are not running it through a program. You will take the three separate photos, edit them a little bit and drag all of them through Photoshop and manually blend them in with layer masks and all these other stuff. That is what HDR photography seems to be; you are capturing more data for 3, 5 or any number of separate images and then manually blending them in.  I think more people will respect this rather than running them through a program but that is what it tends to be now. So, if you’ve ever heard of manual blending, that’s kind of how it goes. Maybe you are blending a bright sky and the dark foregrounds, what you will do is take the exposure of the sky that is over-exposed and not worry about the foreground at all but worry about it in the next photo and you store those in Photoshop and mask them out and blend them together. That’s kind of what is being considered ok now when it comes to High Dynamic Range photography.

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5 Useful Mobile Photography Apps

This podcast is all about mobile photography and mobile editing, and other related stuff. I will go over 5 popular and main mobile apps that I personally use for my mobile photography on my Smartphone. I will try to break them down as much as possible for everybody to understand and see which app will suit your style of photography. I will also tell you whether it’s available in Android or IOS, whether it costs money or not and I’m gonna go through the five most popular apps out there just to kind of forewarn you a little bit, most of these apps actually do a lot of the same thing. There is rarely a time when you will get an app that has mind-blowing features that another app might not have but most apps will require you to control the exposure adjustments, do contrast and some effects in there but it’s really about finding an app that you like to use, design, the interface, how easy it is to use and I will keep that in mind.

  1. Lightroom CC App

So, let’s start with the list and the first app I will look at is a no-brainer for everyone out there especially now that Adobe has released the new Lightroom CC  for the desktop application but the Lightroom CC app is basically meant to be an app that floats between platforms. If you are part of the Adobe Creative Cloud photography subscription, you can download the free Lightroom CC version, the desktop app for your computer. you can play around with it and it’s some kind of slim version of Lightroom but it also works very well with the new Lightroom CC app that is available for IOS and Android. Before this app was released, the mobile photography part of Lightroom was kind of difficult to understand. You had the main Lightroom CC which is now called the Classic Creative Cloud (Classic CC), and that was meant to be able to sync with your phone but sometimes it worked while other times it didn’t. At least in a bunch of occasions, I tried to sync some files and they would never sync but now it’s easier to drag your files into Adobe Lightroom CC and it would sync the files across your devices. So, if you drag it into your desktop’s Lightroom CC, you can then go to your iPhone or iPad and it will automatically be there. It syncs the files very well.

If you have the subscription, make sure to download the Lightroom CC app, it is free especially if you have the subscription model and it works great in syncing between your desktop application and all other applications in your other devices altogether. One of the cool things it allows you to do is that if you shoot something with the Lightroom CC app, you will actually be editing a digital raw file of whatever you photographed. So, you won’t be editing a jpeg file that you might have shot with the native camera app and then pulling it in there but instead editing with a raw file. That’s one really cool thing as you’ll have plenty more information to play with and might be able to get a little bit better exposure. Anybody who has that subscription should have this app even if you do not want to sync between your devices, it is a really cool app to have especially just for simple editing.

  1. SnapSeed App

This is yet another no-brainer app and everybody likely has heard about it. It is a free and amazing app for Android and iOS with tons of features but it is also free. The creators seem to update this app a lot more than any other feature photography apps that I have found, always adding more features, effects, filters and the ability to do different things. Back then when I downloaded the app, it was kind of slim down and I could do some manual exposures, contrast and sharpen details among other things but now you have the ability to do brushes, selective color adjustments, and you have a lot of crazy filters you can do and it’s just a really awesome app. It also has an iPad version if you have an iOS device and this can help you when editing since it gives you a bigger screen to work on. If I was to rank my top 3 best apps, this would definitely make it among them because it is so easy to use.

  1. VSCO

This is also another popular mobile app and is available for free and is compatible with Android and iOS. It’s a really cool app allowing you to create some kind of subtle adjustments that will mimic film effects. If you are really interested in these kinds of film effects, this is one of the mobile photography apps that you should probably download. The one thing that I’m not really particular about when it comes to this app is the workflow. Much like Snapseed you can apply different effects but I like the way Snapseed lays out the effects such that you kind of apply a group of effects and the click “done” when you are through with them and then get another menu. VSCO seems like you have to go backwards a little bit and if you play with the app you will understand what I am talking about. That’s the only thing I don’t like about this app but would use it if I wanted to get that awesome film looks because it is so easy so easy to create those really subtle film looks. One of the cool things it does have and which I haven’t taken a part of because the workflow doesn’t suit me is that it has a community like Instagram around it. It is kind of a photo-sharing platform that is built in and once you take a photo and maybe you want to share it on your social media account, you can also share it in the VSCO portfolio that is kind of built into your account when you signed up for it. That’s a really cool thing to do but obviously, you are going to get more popularity when you upload it to your regular social media like Instagram, Facebook and so on.

That’s pretty much for the free apps that are available and it’s not a huge list and you’ve probably heard of these apps before but the reasons these are ones that everybody talks about is probably that they are the top rated apps out there. They are the best working apps and give you the best experience and quality of your prints. These are really good apps that I have and I keep popping out and especially the Lightroom CC app which is very awesome and the one I’ll probably continue using more.

  1. ProCam

One of the paid apps that is kind of expensive depending on whether you are thinking of an android app or iPhone app pricing is called ProCam. It is a $4 US Dollar mobile photography app and is only available for iOS. But if you have an iOS device ProCam app it’s probably one of those go-to apps you’ll do when you want to have more control over the actual taking of the image. You have really nice control over exposure settings and so you can both the exposure settings manually so shutter speed aperture, ISO and all that stuff for stills and video as well. This is the main reason I particularly downloaded the app because I wanted to change the video settings on it. So, you can actually change to video mode and record videos. You can change the frame rates for both stills and videos so you can kind change the ratios for stills but especially for videos and frame rates you can change 24 fps 60, 30 all in the app without the need to go out to the main settings of the iPhone or Android phone. You can do everything in the app and this is what makes it really great. The other thing is that you get a DNG file from and so if you are not shooting jpeg and you can’t shoot jpeg, you are not getting compressed jpegs but instead, you get full DNG that you can then export to Lightroom, open it up in Lightroom CC and play with it there. That is another really great feature of that mobile photography app.

Another one is that if you have an Apple watch per chance, then you do have a compatible app with it. This means you can take a photo with your Apple watch and have it as a remote shutter in a way. That’s a really good selling feature from it but again, its price tag is $4.99 and so, if you’re not used to spending money on small Smartphone apps this might be a little bit pricey for you.

  1. Enlight

This is also another great photography app for mobile and costs $3.99. It is for iOS and Android. It has tons of creative tools that you will have double exposure effect built into the app, tool shift effect, slight leaks, tons of crone tools that help you remove distracting elements of your phone that you’ll typically have to export that file to some sort of desktop app like Lightroom or Photoshop and remove it that way. For a simple removal of distracting objects, there are really cool clone tools that allow you to easily remove stuff. If you just enter that creative photography space and you don’t want your photos to look like just simple edited images, Enlight is one of the best apps you can look into because it allows your photos to look really creative with a lot of tools in there.

Those are the 5 main apps that I wanted to go over but I just want to throw in a quick honorable mention in there which is actually Instagram. You might be thinking, ‘well, of course if you are in photography you do need Instagram as the main way of sharing photos in social media’ but the reason I say Instagram specifically for editing is that a lot of people don’t know that you can actually edit plenty heavily in Instagram with basic adjustments such as contrast, brightness, shadows, tilt-shift, highlight of shadows, sharpening and many other things. One of the recently released versions of Instagram you get a download button in the editing section so that if you want to edit your photo and save that file you are able to do it without even posting it. Previously, if you wanted to have a really cool effect or filter to it you had to edit in Instagram and then post it because it would save the edited version in your phone or you just had to take a screenshot and kind of crop it a little bit. However, Instagram has now given you the opportunity to download the photo without even posting it. So, if you want to do a quick edit and you don’t want to mess with any other apps and you have Instagram on your phone, you can do it and then download the file.

Featured item of the week

The featured item of the week is from Sleeklens and the reason I am talking about it is that it mainly involves autumn. Autumn is in full swing and we have the cool weather coming in and the leaves coming off the tree. I want to go over a really cool collection which I personally like a lot. This is the Autumn Pumpkin Glaze Overlay and Action Collection. It really is crazy how much value you get out of this collection because you will have 78 actions specifically designed help you edit your fall photos. You also get a lot of overlays including 20 color filter overlays that will help you match a little bit of color tones and bring stuff to your photos so they can look really awesome. You will also get 20 light overlays, 15 sky overlays which include storm clouds, sunset clouds, and regular day sky clouds and stuff like that. It also gives you 10 rain overlays and 8 leaf overlays which are really great if you want to enhance those leaves on your photos. In addition, there are 2 customary brushes so you can paint in leaves yourself and place them exactly where you want them to be. You also get 10 bird overlays to easily add birds flying to your photo so as to enhance the images a little bit. All these are imported to Photoshop and are transparent which allows you to add them easily. This is a really cool thing to have and if you want to enhance your fall photos in Photoshop, make sure to check the Autumn Pumpkin Glaze Overlays and Action Collection from Sleeklens and also with every episode we like offering a coupon code which you can use to get 10% off your purchase. You can use coupon code Sleeklenspodcast to get 10% off anything in your cart.

7 Things to Do To Every Photo

In this episode of the photograph podcast, I go over 7 things you should think about doing to every photo

This episode will talk about most of the edits that I do to my photos but it’s actually 7 things you should do to every photo. This doesn’t mean there are individual steps that you have to take per photo. Most of the time, these are done altogether without you even knowing because you’re kind of used to going through your own little workflow. But there might be some things that you can learn from this and that you may kind of overlook or maybe oversee that you kind of mess up on one thing and you realize you should have done it in this particular spot. That is what we’re going to talk about as 7 different things that you should do to every photo. These include: –

  1. Profile corrections

A lot of times when you import a photo into Lightroom or open it up in Camera Raw, a lot of people make the mistake of not applying profile corrections to their photos. Profile corrections are almost needed in a way because they allow for you to correct a little bit of distortion, maybe vignetting in your photos and that you normally have to apply and which would make your photos look bad and you don’t want that to happen. What profile corrections do is kind of take a combination of your camera and your lens and Adobe has built-in a profile for both the camera model and lens model and will apply a correction to that. So, for my particular lens, I have Canon 6D, which is a full-frame camera and I also mainly shoot with a Canon 17-40. What that’ll do is kind of wider angle lens and when I kind of apply profile correction to that it’ll kind of whoop it up a little bit, mainly stretching the center of the photo and remove a heavy distortion or heavy kind of black vignette around the edges of my lens or the edges of my final photo. It will automatically remove that without having to do anything but if I want to keep the vignette for maybe an artistic style, I can definitely do that but profile corrections help by removing distortion and does a really good job in that. Profile correction is like one click and you’re done. There is one small click box in both Lightroom and Camera Raw, and if you do most of your editing in camera raw, there is one little checkbox that says “enable profile correction” and when you do that it kind of automatically detects the camera models, the lens that you used and it will automatically create a profile for you and apply that distortion removal, vignette removal and you are ready to go.

  1. Applying an alignment and straightening your photos

Depending on the style of photography that you use, you can apply an alignment and straighten your photos with ease. Portrait photographers might not have to do this but wedding photographer might have to do this depending with the room they are in or maybe they are photographing a couple in a gazebo and the lines are perfectly straight but it kind of depends on the style of photography that you are into. For example, if you are a landscape photographer if you go out to a landscape and you have a definite horizon line you definitely want to kind of straighten that up. A lot of people might leave it and concentrate on the creative edits to their photo thus straightening things out. There is a tool especially in Lightroom and it’s very easy to find and under the ‘Crop Overlay menu’ you’ll see kind of a little angle that has a little ruler next to it.  What you can actually do is click on that ruler and drop it from one side of the photo to the other and it will kind of drag it along the horizon line and automatically straighten it so that your photo does look perfectly level/straight with ease.

If you need to remove distortion, that’s another separate thing. You can go to the Transform menu and therein find a number of options including off (allows you to keep your photo as it was shot), you also have auto, guided, level, vertical and fore. Auto is the one you should use as it works for almost 99% of the scenarios. Auto alignment does a very good job as it detects all the vertical and horizontal lines and straightens them out especially if you are in a situation like a venue or a room. It straightens the lines and removes distortions from your photos and makes them look really nice. I personally will use auto alignment and also straighten the photo with angle tool in Lightroom.

  1. Sharpening

A lot of people don’t sharpen their images but this is one of the most important steps to take especially for shooting raw. This is because when you are shooting raw, your images are coming right off the sensor, right out of the camera with minimal, if any,  processing is done to them. As such, you always get raw data and therefore your photos are going to be a little bit soft. You might see a little bit of softness in your photo. So, if you are going to ‘Detail menu’ in Lightroom, you are going to get a couple of options for sharpening amount including the amount, radius, the detail and the masking. There are no rules although some people have some mathematical equations to apply to sharpening what I typically do is (sharpening is normally set to around 25 when you import them into Lightroom for example) to bump mine to around 75 to 80 and that typically gives me a good amount of sharpening. If I am making a photo that I definitely know will go to print, I want it to have a good sharpening amount and radius and thus will apply the amount to around 95 to 100 and radius to 1.5 (radius default is normally set to 1.0) and that kind of a number is based on a resolution of 300dpi when you finally get it printed and that kind of mathematical equation normally works out. So, no matter how big a photo I am printing, I normally make it 300dpi and always set the sharpening amount to 100 and the radius to 1.5.

Those values are great for global adjustment and what you are doing is applying a global adjustment throughout the whole photo. But there is also one more slider in there and that is the masking slider. The masking slider helps you refine the edges in your photo and as a default, the slider is set to zero whenever you import a photo and what that means is that zero is implying a global application across the whole photo. Masking applies the sharpening amount to the detected edges to your photo. Let’s say you have a portrait of somebody and you don’t want to sharpen globally because you don’t want to sharpen the texture of the skin, and you may not want to sharpen the details in the eyes, you don’t want the hair to look overly sharp and what you can do is slide that to the right and the further you slide the slider to the right, the more you are going to sharpen the edges to your photo and so, if you want to actually see what it’s doing, you can hold the Alt or Opt key on your keyboard and slide the slider over and its going to change into a black and white view of a photo and so the black images or areas on your photo when you slide the slider over are going to be the parts that are not sharpened and the white areas are going to be those which are sharpened. As such, you can see that it’s only sharpening the edges of your photos. So, if you are working with people, this might be a good reason to use masking but if you want global sharpening effects to your photo, try to keep your masking around 0-5.

  1. Spot and blemish removal

This is kind of an easy one and many people think about it as the first thing when thinking about how creative they want to be with the photo. This is not a technique that you’ll look to but it’s kind of a process you’ll think about when editing your photo. You might have some people in your photo who you’d want to remove or other distractions such as power lines or anything such leaves or whatever that you consciously would want to remove from your photo beyond your subject. You can think of removing it or darken the area a little bit but if you can remove it, then this is something you should consider. Remember that distraction to your photo is not something you want the viewers’ eyes to go to and thus is easily removable especially if you have a model that has some blemishes or something, just get a spot removal tool in your Lightroom or Photoshop and just remove all of that.

  1. Dodging and burning

A lot of people don’t think about doing dodging and burning in their photos. Some of you might not even know what dodging and burning means. Basically, dodging and burning means darkening or highlighting/lighting part of certain areas in your photos. For example, if you have a field that has some flowers in certain parts which you would like to stand out a little bit more than the other parts of the image, what you can do is apply certain exposure amount to that part where the flowers are and it will make them stand out more and what you’ll be doing is brightening the exposure a little bit so that the areas can stand out more and that is called dodging. You can also do burning to the image and this is basically darkening it a little bit more. In dodging, you will be lightening the image while in burning you will be darkening the image. For example, you might be having a sky and would want to bring out a little bit of details out of it, you can do burning on it to make it a little bit darker. A lot of people might say that you can do some dodging and burning if you go to the basics panel in Lightroom for example and you bring down the highlights and increase the shadows but in the traditional dodging and burning you’re actually taking a brush of some sort and painting in a little bit where you want to lighten or darken and this starts with the creative process of how you want the viewers to see your photo and this leads to step number 6.

  1. Your creative edits

This is a weird step to think about but when it comes to creative edits, you want to know what it is that you should do. This is where you start thinking about color differences, color tones, white balance, color balance, split toning, black and white and all other creative edits. One thing I like to do specifically if I have an image and am not sure which direction to go mainly on color adjustment, I will go into my Sleeklens’ presets and hover over them a little bit and then get a preview window on top left side of Lightroom to get a feel of what the image could look like. That gives me an idea that will help things start flowing about how I want the image to eventually look like. That’s one thing you can think about and it’s kind of playing around with your ideas.

  1. Exporting

This is the last step when working on your photos. There is a different workflow that a lot of people have when it comes to pretty much of the workflows that they have and that is, what they do with the photo after it is done. Does it stay on your hard-drive or do you immediately start sharing or something like that?  It depends on the photo obviously but what I like to do after I’ve had the final edit of the photo or what I believe to be the final edit and most likely I’m not going to do anything with it is to export it and this is kind of a backup situation. What I do is that I would export the photo in two different formats. So, I will open up Lightroom and click ‘export’ and then export a high-resolution Jpeg of the image. As such, I will do a 300dpi jpeg as a quality maximum and then save that as a backup. Obviously, the raw file is still in my Lightroom catalogue where I imported it and so everything is great there. But I still want a high-resolution jpeg of it and in case something happens I can still have access to it. As such, I just take the high-resolution jpeg and move it to a service like Dropbox or Google drive among other options available and this happens to be my offside backup. I know this is just a jpeg but that’s the best I can do if something were to happen to my computer. The other format that I would export it in is actually a TIF file. I kind of go-between TIF and PSD file and this is actually in Lightroom if I’m exporting it from there but if I’m doing it from Photoshop, then I would just save it as PSD file or Photoshop file while still keeping the jpeg file. The reason why I do a TIF file in Lightroom is that this format offers a whole lot of data backed into the file so that if I needed to make some further adjustments I will have all the necessary data to work with. There is no much data in raw files but if something happens to my backup situation or computer, then I definitely want what I can get out of it. If I don’t have a solid backup solution, something I believe every photographer should have, some sort of all in one backup solution in my computer, these two kinds of file formats will kind of help me along and would be better than losing everything.

These are the seven things that should be done to every photo but again, a lot of these things are actually thought about without going through step-by-step. You kind of do all together, all at once especially if you have an import preset in Lightroom, you can actually knock a lot of these out as you import your photo. So, you can make a quick import preset and just say “apply auto-correction”, “apply auto alignment” or “apply the sharpening” and you’re completely done since Lightroom will apply all these changes to your photos as you import them. if you don’t want to do all these step-by-step, that’s one of the really quick steps to use.

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Light Meter vs Histogram

In this episode of the Sleeklens Photography Podcast, we talk about using the Light Meter and the Histogram built into your camera.

This episode will cover the usage of the histogram and light meters in your camera. It is kind of a beginner’s episode and also good even for those who know as it could work as a refresher. There are certain tools that are built in your camera that’ll help you along to get a more balanced exposure when you’re photographing pretty much in a situation and light meter and histogram is part of the main tools you should use and we will be looking at some examples of how to read them, use them and also when to use them.

Using the light meter, what it is and how to use it

What exactly is a light meter? A light meter is pretty easy to understand. It’s a device of some sort that measures the amount of light that’s coming into the camera. Some of the old school cameras have light meter devices that are not to your camera in any way but they kind of allows you to set a certain aperture or some sort of setting on your camera and then you’ll be able to measure the light and will kind of give you a balanced exposure with the different kind of settings you can use. This was kind of a big thing in the film days because when you had films, you didn’t have any way to measure the light but had to use your judgment or expertise to meter the light correctly.

A lot of old-school photographers who used films a lot would probably wear a light meter around their necks and that’s what they would use to measure the light and get some balance, neutral exposure and get a better exposure that they wouldn’t have to guess it. Light meters were that kind of tool you’d typically see but in most modern cameras you actually have a light meter that’s built in. if you are shooting in an automatic mode, the light meter judges the kind of settings it’ll put in this mode and as soon as you press the shutter button it’ll read the light in the scene and suggest the settings it has kind of predetermined depending on the light coming in. But if you are some sort of a manual mode or aperture priority mode or something along those lines, the light meter is going to be a little more useful there because you can see the total amount of light coming in. That’s basically what light meter does. It kind of judges the total amount of light hitting your camera.

You can find the light meter easily by just looking in the viewfinder of your camera and you’ll see something like a little graph at the bottom and it’s gonna be from -3 on the left side to zero which is a balanced neutral exposure based on what the light meter reads and then it’ll go up to +3 on the right side. What that exactly means is that the 0 (zero) is what is considered to be the balanced neutral exposure for a particular scene that you’re photographing. If you might have pushed the shutter button down and you see they have a little indicator showing that you might be at -2, what that means is that you are two stops under-exposed, and so that is the negative portion. If you go to the other side when you click on the shutter button half-way down and you see that the light meter is reading at +2, that means you are two stops over-exposed, meaning your image will be really bright compared to two stops under-exposed meaning that your image will be pretty under-exposed, a little darker than it would be if it was closer to the zero range.

Again, the light meter measures the total light coming into or hitting your camera sensor but can be fooled by little things that might be really bright or really dark on your scene and that’s something we need to pay attention. For example, if you’re shooting in a very backlit situation, meaning that maybe you’re shooting a model and she has a window behind her, it’s going to measure the total light that’s coming in to the camera and it’s going to see that the window is extremely bright and when you take the photo most likely your model will be pretty dark or dimly lit and that’s because of the light coming from the window. As such, that should be something you pay attention to because it can be fooled easily. Just because you get a balance neutral exposure showing in the meter you might not actually have a balanced neutral exposure for what you want to photograph. The same thing happens with people wearing dark clothing. If someone is wearing a dark pant or a dark shirt, that could throw off the exposure because it’s measuring the darkness coming into your camera lens. It might not have a harsh exposure as the bright open window would but again you might have to bump up your aperture, ISO and shutter speed or whatever else you need to in order to compensate for that dark reading. That’s one thing you need to pay attention to in most situations, it can be very helpful in most situations but it can be easily fooled.

As such, if you are running into a situation where you find that your light meter is reading a balanced neutral exposure of around zero or thereabouts, but you still find that you’re still finding that your exposures are a little bit off or maybe you’re losing information in some of the brighter points or darker points of your image, this might probably be the time you might need to look at the histogram.

What is histogram?

The histogram is kind of a separate light tool that’s built-in most cameras. It’s kind of a bar graph that measures the brightness of each individual pixel and displays it in kind of a horizontal line graph. If you want to see what we are talking about as far as what histogram is, make sure to open your camera’s manual to see where you can turn that one on as in most cameras that is like an info button and you can hit that a couple of times when you have a photo pulled up and you’ll be able to see what the histogram will look like for the particular photo that you have. It’s good to pay attention to this and know when you can pull up the histogram, and how you can pull it up so you can see it. What histogram do for example if you’re shooting a model right in front of a bright window, what you are going to see if you have the histogram pulled up will most likely be a graph that looks like a slide going from top left all the way to bottom right. What that is doing is that it’s reading a lot more bright information on the right side of the histogram. So when you look at the histogram, what you see is an area or a little graph that is divided into 5 sections. On the far left, you’ll have your really dark black points in your image and that’s kind of the zone you want to stay away from as much as possible. It’s ok to have a little bit in that area but you want to make sure that you do not have most of your image in that area because it means you’re losing a lot of information.

Right next going to the right you have very dark, shadowy tones, in the middle you have mid tones, next to that you have a very light area that’s kind of the brighter point but not completely white and then on your far right you have your very light pixels and again that’s the kind of point you want to stay away from. You don’t want to be too much in the white or too much in the black because that means you are losing information. If you see a spike in some of the areas all the way to the right maybe you are shooting that model that means you are losing information and even if you pull your photo into Lightroom or Photoshop and try to bring down the highlights or the white sides, you’re not going to get pretty much of anything back because you’ve lost the information. There is no information for that pixel to present you and it’s going to be completely white or completely black.

As such, using the histogram is a really good thing when you’re shooting in a difficult situation because you can actually see where in the image you have your brightest or darkest points and if you want to have perfect exposure with histogram, what you should try and do is have what I call a “little hill”. It starts from the left side, the darker points and then it kind of starts going up and then in the mid-tones you’ll have a little lump before it starts going down towards the white side. That means you’ll have a lot of information in the mid-tones. In such a case, when you bring your photo into Lightroom, Photoshop or whatever editing program you have, and you mess with those sliders; the shadows, the highlights and the exposure, you’ll probably be able to bring back a little bit of information if you got your exposure a little off. The histogram is a really great tool to use especially in those many difficult situations. If you have time to pull out histogram when you’re shooting out there, it is a really important tool to look over. A lot of people have their histogram already on their LCD screens and so if you were to shoot like a light view, you can see the histogram on the light view and as you change the settings, the histogram will change with it. It shows a real-time view of your exposure changing.

I particularly have a histogram on my camera so and it’s a small bar graph that’s on the top left of the light view and it’s kind of cool tool to have. So, if you really want help to balance your exposure, that’s one really nice feature to use.

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For example, in the landscape photography shooting you will learn how to research your shoot, go on location, grab your photos, the settings to use and even bring the photos back to show you how to edit them in Lightroom and you can see the whole process from start to finish. You will have 5 guides you can go through. Even if you are not interested in one particular photography style such as food photography, the video is still a great one to watch as you’ll learn new things, new tricks and kind of brainstorm your kind of photography. The course has more than 8 hours of content and you also all the downloads that are used in this video series so you can follow step by step. If you are beginning in photography, these courses will definitely come in handy for you and will help you get proper foundation as you kick off.

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Stuck in a Creative Rut?

This post will be all about how you can get out of a creative rut you might be getting in with your photography. Photography just like any other art out there, even if it’s not a technical art, it may be writing a book or even other creative pursuits, there are times when we all seem to fall into a creative rut. At this time, we can’t figure out what we want to do with our photography or any other art. However, this problem is more rampant in photography because it seems like we are doing the same thing over and over again. You could be a portrait photographer and it seems like the only kind of thing we photograph are just the same types of families and although we obviously do get different poses, lightings and stuff like that, we just get to do the same thing time after time. One of the things we can do is to think about how to get out of the rut and start liking your photography again. How can I start thinking of new ideas to further the business that I’m just beginning or get better photos in general with different looks and not just shoot the same thing over and over again? I have about 8 little tips you can use to help you get out of any creative rut that you might be getting in. Hopefully, by sharing these tips you will be able to get out of any rut that you might be stuck in, maybe you don’t feel like you should be doing photography anymore and that’s a pretty sad thing. These tips will help you out because they have personally helped me get out of any rut that I have been in. these tips include: –

  1. Get out of your normal setting

This first tip is kind of counter-intuitive to what you might think will get you out of a creative rut. Normally we think that if you are in some sort of a rut you need to buckle down, sit down at your desk and figure out what you want to do. But what helps me at least is getting out of my normal setting. Maybe you are a portrait photographer, you start your day by getting to your computer and checking your emails and going through some business stuff among other things and you always find that when you get in front of your office it’s just the same routine over and over again. Maybe you are looking for your bookings or something like that. How about you take your laptop and go to a coffee shop or café and do your work there a couple of days and see whether that kind of breaks you out from your normal routine? I’ve actually heard a great quote when it comes to this. It goes something like “old ways won’t open new doors” and what this means is that maybe the old thinking is not going to open up any new situations for you. So, try to break away from any old ways that you are used to doing things and this might actually jog some creativity in your mind and it could start opening new doors as far as different things you might want to shoot or any kind of different projects you might want to start.

  1. Projects

Starting a personal project is very important when you want to get out of a creative rut. You need to have a project that you’re working on and this should be just for you. It doesn’t matter whether you are super-busy or the kind that shoots 35 wedding projects in two months, the truth of the matter is that you need to have personal projects even if it takes you 5 years or 10 years to finish. Having an awesome project that you can call your own is one of the surest ways to break away from any sort of rut that you might be stuck in where you do not really like your photography anymore because it seems really easy. Making a personal project even if it’s something outside your personal style of photography is a really awesome way to get out of a rut. Personally, I’m trying to start a project and I will give you a background of that.

I typically do real estate photography and landscape photography and wanted to get into Photoshop composite. I did one recently and I really like it and that made me start my own project of doing 4 composites making it kind of a small collection. They all have to be the same theme and include the same element and that is kind of my personal project.  It turns out that the Photoshop composites do take a long time to create especially if working on a tone of other stuff at the same time and so this is going to take me a while to complete but I still have this project. What this has done is to advance my style of photography because now I know these new techniques and ideas I can apply to my style of photography and it kind of opens up these new doors. So, it can be a simple thing like starting a small project like that or not shooting wedding photographs for a month if that’s the style you’re accustomed to. So, if you are in wedding photography it could mean breaking away from that in order to do something different. It can be some sort of different projects that you start on your own, just to get your mind thinking in a totally different way.

  1. Taking on a different photography style

To kind of piggyback on that a little bit when it comes to doing a different style of photography that could actually be something that helps you break out of a rut as well. Maybe you’re a wedding photographer and you kind of want to break away from that for a little bit, obviously don’t quit completely and refuse to do wedding photographs anymore because you still want to make money for your business. Maybe you can do sport photography and if there is a sporting event in your neighborhood such as a high school activity, you can ask whether they could allow you to take photos for free so you can break into a new style of photography. If you’re a portrait photographer, maybe you can go for camping for a few days and do landscape photography without shooting any people whatsoever. You probably will hate it because that’s not what you are used to but that’s the part where you start growing and get your mind thinking a little differently when it comes to breaking into different types of photography. Even if you do it, you hate it and don’t want to promote it on your website as a part of your business at least you know it opens up new ways of doing photography and that can jumpstart your creativity.

  1. Watching movies, playing video games or reading books

Just like the first step sounded a little counter-intuitive to get you started in your photography, this one is going to sound counter-intuitive because it sounds kind of fun. This has helped me very much and it’s like doing a combination of things and if you don’t like doing one of the things you can do other ones. These 3 things can help take your mind out of the norm and allow you to concentrate on something else. Let’s say when it comes to watching movies, there are tons of movies out there with a lot of visual effects and that is what basically photography is all about. It’s kind of creating a visual that you want people to look at over and over again and really love the image. And so, watching different kinds of movies can really jumpstart your creativity. I know one movie that kind of jumpstarted mine, not because of the subject matter but because of the colors. The movie Abattoir is from a while back but it got me thinking about different things. It was an animated movie and this made is so easy to kind of piece those two fields together as far as photography and kind of effects are concerned. That movie really jumpstarted a little bit of photography creativity in my personal field.

Playing video games is another activity where you can really get adventurous with your creativity and you might get some ideas there. Obviously, you shouldn’t allow it to consume a big chunk of your time but if you’re just looking at the aspect of playing video games, everything that went into the making of the games including the visuals, lighting and effects will give you some great ideas. Reading books especially the non-fiction ones can really jumpstart your creativity and get your mind thinking.

  1. Limiting your disrupting inputs

One thing I like to do when it comes to the limiting of disruptions especially if you are used to driving is to not do anything in the car as far as input is concerned. This means not listening to the radio, music podcasts or anything like that because if you have a lot of disruptions especially if you do your own personal photography business you will not be giving your mind space to breath or let loose and develop any creative thoughts that you have going on. Mostly it will mean that you have calls and emails coming in, video comments, Twitter notifications and all kind of stuff coming in which can really be disruptive. If you’re driving, shut off all these disruptions and only hear the hum of the engine and all that going by and this will let your mind to just roam and think on its own in a while without having anything come in as you just concentrate on the road. Once you start doing this over and over again, you get some interesting ideas coming in and you start thinking new things like how to start getting some kind of effects on your photographs or grow your photography business or even new ways or things you can embrace to do editing on your photos. All this stuff comes in when you let your mind breath and this is just a simple one to do but there are many other ways of stepping away and getting away from any kind of input and letting your mind do its things but this is one really easy one that a lot of people are able to do especially because many people do drive.

  1. Step away

To piggyback off that one as well, we also have stepping away and what I mean by this is that maybe take a “vacation from photography”. So, if you don’t have a lot of bookings or you don’t feel like going anywhere and doing photography that day, maybe stepping away and taking a break from it will let you come back to it as if it’s a new thing. Don’t even take your gear and although you can look at some of your photos once in a while, limiting your input as far as photography is concerned. I know when it comes to musicians, there’s a lot of people especially guitar players, who have developed calluses on the fingertips from pressing the strings and what many guitarists say when it comes to reconnecting with music and becoming great musicians again is that they know they’re ready to get back to it when their fingers begin to hurt again while they’re playing. That means they’ve been away for a long time and they start getting a connection with the guitar again when they start playing and it becomes like a new thing. It’s kind of the same thing when it comes to photography, don’t touch your camera for a while, don’t concentrate on photography groups on social media but just get away from it for a while and let it become new again and that’s one easy way of doing that as well.

  1. Limit your gear

What I mean by this is, let’s say you have a new top of the line DSRL and it has all the bells & whistles but maybe leave it at home once in a while. Maybe you can use your Smartphone as your main camera but obviously not when going to do a wedding shoot. However, if you’re going for an outing and you would like to take some photos, leave your gear at home and use your android, iPhone or Smartphone as your main photography device and let your mind roam on how you can achieve an effect without using your fancy gear. When it comes to the use of phones for photography, you’re to kind of zoom with your feet and so you have to learn on how to do that. Simply what we are saying is you try to limit your gear or any type of thing you normally carry with you to see if that breaks into any kind of creativity that you might be thinking.

  1. Change your space

Let’s say you have an office in your house that you use for your editing or maybe you have a small studio in your office, change it up a little bit. This will also help you break away from creativity rut. It could be something like getting a fresh coat paint on the wall to kind of change the look a little bit or maybe rearranging your furniture or desk or it can be something honestly as simple as changing your desktop wallpaper to something different than it has been for many months. Just change what you have been looking at constantly and all that ties back to the very first tip on “getting out of your norm”. Change things a little bit. Your mind is not going to grow if it’s doing the same thing over and over again and that comes to creativity as well. So, change up your space, do something different and if you have a desk you’ve been wanting to have for a long time, maybe it’s time to grab that desk so that it’s different to sit at or look at and you can kind of dress it up a little bit. Maybe you can change your computer or stop working from your main desktop and work from your laptop for a little bit. It can all be about doing very simple things to change up your norm.

Those are the 8 tips that could help you break away from your photography creativity rut and some of these have worked for me as I use them quite often and it kind of gets me new to photography again and that’s the fun part because I start learning new things I never thought of before.

Featured item of the week

This week’s featured item is something you can do right now as you sit in front of your computer and this has to do with creating your own gray card in Photoshop. A gray card is sort of used to help white balance as you have medium gray, a scale from black to white and then a medium gray in-between. What this does is that it helps you with white balancing your photos to kind of get the correct colors and you can go on Amazon and buy all these really expensive color check cards and gray cards but if you want a really simple one right now, you can create it in Photoshop. It is as easy as doing a couple of steps which I’ll outline below:

  1. Open up Photoshop and create a new document the size of a regular paper that is on your plate.
  2. Draw a gradient from pure black to pure white on that document (Black at the bottom and white on top.
  3. Go to the adjustment layer and choose to posterize and this will bring a small dialogue box which allows you to choose “Labels” and this basically means the number of colors that are going to show up. Choose 3. This will give you pure black at the bottom, medium gray at the middle and pure white at the top. If you have a semi-normal printer or laser, you can go and print that off and that will be a very simple color checker card.

This is a good one if you have a pinch but if you already have a professional gray card or color checker you can just stick with it. You can carry this simple card with you to help get balanced colors. I have used this a couple of times while shooting videos and it actually works very well.

5 Useful Lightroom Tips

In this episode of the Sleeklens Photography Podcast, we talk about 5 real easy Adobe Lightroom Tips and Tricks that can really help improve your workflow. Featured Item of the Week | myTracks iOS App Easily tracks your GPS location on your iPhone with the myTracks app. Find information at http://www.mytracks4mac.info


This episode will cover 5 of my favorite tips and tricks which you can use in Lightroom tips and tricks. These are basically shortcuts that you can type on your keyboard and get different things to pop-up in Lightroom. these are kind of different things around the modules and settings that you can apply to kind of enhance or maybe better your workflow. Below are the 5 favorite tips and tricks that I use in Lightroom:

  1. Smart preview enablement

If you are in a hurry to edit your photos and maybe you notice that Lightroom is running a bit slow than it should be, one thing you can do is to enable what is called smart previews.  A lot of people don’t know about this but it’s a very important feature. What exactly smart previews are is a way for Lightroom to build kind of a lower resolution image that you edit on. This will allow your Lightroom catalogue to respond faster and kind of be speedy. So, if you happen to have an older machine that has Lightroom installed, this might be one of the features you can turn on. As such, when you import a photo into Lightroom, the software will basically be creating a smaller lower resolution version of your image that you can apply the edits to. That way the edits are applied faster, your Lightroom catalogue will be running faster as well but the best thing about it is that Lightroom will still do the final full resolution output of whatever file you choose. Thus, even if it creates a file that you edit on and that has a lower resolution and lower quality, when you do a final export, you still are going to get the full resolution file that you originally imported.  As such, you are not importing a lower resolution file and losing all the capabilities or anything like that. You are basically allowing Lightroom to create a smaller preview of that image that you can apply your edits to and then when it has the edits you can apply those edits to the original file that you imported and then go ahead and export a full resolution version of whatever size you want be it jpeg or photoshop file and it will still do the output. So, if you want to turn that on, just go to Preferences>performance tab> and then click on the checkbox that says “use smart preview instead of the originals for image editing”. That setting will turn this on and every time you import, it will go ahead and create a small preview of the file and offer faster system response as well.

  1. Lights-Out feature

This is another small feature which is a shortcut on your keyboard and not a tip or trick. It allows you to focus only on your image when you are editing. Lights Out will basically turn your Lightroom interface dark but only keep the color of the image that’s in the development module. So, you can hit the “L” key on your keyboard and that will toggle your Lightroom interface to completely go dark. When you have your interface dark like this, it still shows the image in full color, full brightness so you can focus on the edits that are going on, in your image. This is also a great way to make sure that you’re not staring at the screen over and over again where you are getting the “editors’ fog” when applying all these edits. If you have ever had that editors’ fog, where you look and edit an image and things are really great, you walk away and come back after 5 minutes and you find out that you really don’t like something, maybe the exposure was too bright or too dark, this kind of helps a little bit so that it allows you to focus just on the image itself.

  1. Smart Collections

This is another feature in Lightroom. Many people use the collection and it’s a really popular way of organizing multiple files in your Lightroom catalogue so that they are stored in a kind of virtual folder thus making it quick and easy to pull out an image that you want to. However, smart collections kind of taking the regular collection a step further. What it does is that it set parameters that will automatically add to the collection based on whatever parameters you set. One of the most popular ones is actually a parameter that will allow you to choose the best photos from particular years. I truly believe that every photographer out there whether you are brand new or seasoned and have been in the industry for a number of years, you should always have a collection of the best photos in your mind and which you have taken over time. One of the ways to do this without having to wade through your catalogue over and over at the end of the year is to basically create a smart collection that is called the best of the year. What you will do is make a smart collection and you set every image the way you want. Personally, every image that I set for example if it has the year and has a 5-star rating, that means it is one of the best photos I have taken that year and so when I go to the smart collection, it will show all the photos from that particular year with a 5-star rating. This will, therefore, make it a lot easier for you to go through your smart collections and choose the best photos from the year. You can take them down after that and maybe give then 4 stars and that way you will narrow down on your collections and this is one of the best ways to have Lightroom automatically do this for you.

  1. Dual Screen Uses

This feature is for dual screen uses. I have 2 screens attached to my computer and this will be a great help for those people who do have multiple screens attached to their computers. This could even be for people who have a laptop that is pulled to another display because technically you do have 2 screens there. This allows you to have 2 different things on Lightroom showing on 2 different screens. We all know that we pull Lightroom up on the main screen and you have all the information in Lightroom including the development module, the library and everything that you typically see. But you can actually enable what is called ‘Dual Screen Uses’ and this will help you pull up something else on a separate screen. One of my favorite options is to actually pull up a grid view of the images that I am editing. If you’ve ever seen the grid view in the Library catalogue, instead of having a timeline view at the bottom and you kind of scroll from left to right, you can turn on the grid view which basically looks like a thumbnail view of your images. So how you can have this happen on your second screen is pull up a grid view of your images on the second screen. That way you can still have your edits on the main screen and have all your edits (7.46) on the main screen. But you can have a grid view of all the images so you can easily go back and forth, pull up an image on your second screen and it’ll automatically pop up on the main screen and you can kind of go back and forth and that way you can have the full use of your Lightroom on both screens. If you really want to zone in on your editing because maybe you have a project that is due, this is one of the great ways to blackout everything else on your computer so you can completely focus on your editing. Again, if you want to turn that on and have two screens, you can go to windows> secondary display and turn on the grid in there. There is also another couple of options like the loop but I usually use grid display and it works very well.

Snapshots

This is the last small item that I want to touch a little bit on. It is a well-known feature but I like to retaliate it because it is a super popular and useful feature if you haven’t used it yet. We all know presets which are also very popular and Sleeklens sells tons of quality presets and you can check them out. However, snapshots are more like presets but they are for a particular image. What this basically means is that if you were to apply presets to an image, you will have to select the preset from your presets panel and then apply them to an image but if you want to have several edits to that particular photo, you will have to use snapshots. The reasons you will have to use snapshots over making a virtual copy of a photo because what you are trying to do is to actually make a couple of different edits to one photo. Maybe you have one photo and you are not sure whether maybe to go black and white, or color, or really saturated with color, you don’t want to keep creating multiple copies of one particular photo because that will junk up your catalogue, making it hard for you to go through your photos. This is where snapshots come into play as they will allow you to make an edit to one particular photo, save that snapshot in the snapshot panel and then you can kind of reset that photo and make another edit to that same photo, save it and then make another edit to that photo and on and on. You can keep editing that same photo over and over again so that what you are basically doing is that when you go that photo, you can see all the edits you have done under the snapshot panel and this will allow you to kind of wind out the best photo editing styles that you did to this particular photo. It’s a really great way to do that as you definitely want to make virtual copies all over the place as this can mess up your Lightroom catalogue especially if you have a well-organized catalogue and starting to make copies and copy and pasting will mess up your catalogue. So, you need snapshots to create multiple edits for one particular photo and this is really a great way to do that.

Those are the 5 most popular tips and tricks for Lightroom to really help you get a better workflow and speed up your system. These are not just shortcuts but great ways to utilize different features you might not be aware of.

Featured item of the week

The featured item of this week is a new one I came across known as My Tracks app. This is an app for iOS and unfortunately, it’s not available on Android. I searched for it to see whether the makers have it for android but couldn’t find but in case you come across it you can let me know. There are other apps just like this one but this one is a purple icon with a globe in the middle of it. What this basically does is that it allows you to track your GPS location. If you are a photographer and you go on a cool adventure and you want to keep track of where you are going, or you have a photo location where you go all the time, and just want to make sure that you’ve captured all the scenes around there or just show where you’ve been over and over again, My Tracks is a great app to do that. It basically runs in the background and tracks the GPS location without you even noticing that it’s there. It tracks your GPS location, your altitude, and tracks everything on where you’ve been and when you stop it you can actually see your really great visualizations on a map of where you’ve been and you can save those for viewing later. It does not use your battery but basically uses your GPS and that’s it.

If you want to view this app, you can go to mytracks4mac.info. It is a great app and I have used it a couple of times already. It is fun to see the different places where you have been on a map as far as your photo location so you can play around with different locations that you have or haven’t been to.

You can rate and review the podcast and if you have any photography topic you would want to be featured in the show, be sure to write an email to [email protected] and we will try and have those in the show for you.

Night Photography with Photog Adventures

This is an interview with guys from PhotoG Adventure.com. The discussion explains what PhotoG Adventure is and how it came to be plus their journey in photography. PhotoG Adventure comprises of two photographers (Alan King and Brendan Porter) who are involved in landscape photography, Astrophotography and also sharing and teaching everything as they learn it.

See more at http://www.PhotogAdventures.com


Alan King: – We are guys who are learning the skills as we go on and then sharing what we learn. At this point, we’ve become masters in small areas like Milky Way photography where there is so much we’ve done in such a ritual and we feel comfortable saying that we are experts in this area. We are however learning more about landscape photography and challenging ourselves there. What we do is that we have a podcast and YouTube video every week and then add more on our Facebook page to give tutorials and talk about composition and feature people who have followed us until we feel they are friends and heard their adventures and what they are doing and we see their photography and we feature them on our channels. We have a lot of fun featuring the stories of photography.

How did you get there? What was it like getting there? How was the experience? What went well and what didn’t go well? We always try to feature things that if we blow something, are you going to point out the thing and let us know about it and if we do something really well, we show you how we did it. We thus ‘tutorial-ize’ everything and makes sure that everybody knows what it is that really works for us.

Brendan Porter: – The whole thing started by me and Alan having a family dinner (he’s married to my cousin). We would do it two or three times a month and then hang out. One night Alan said, “hey everyone, would you want to shoot the Milky Way with me?” He would ask people in the past but no one would want to go. I got interested to go and was willing to do it.

(Alan) I would go for my Milky Way photography from 1am to 3 am and Brenda would have to come to my place at that time and by the time he went home from 3am to 5pm it was freezing cold.

Brendan – I was ready for the experience and after all, I was used to that schedule and that is how it started. I had not photographed the Milky Way before and I had wanted to do it for the past 5 or 6 years. So when I got the opportunity to do it with a guy that I knew had telescope and had studied the Milky Way and the stars before I was ready to join. So, we went out and after we had a great time freezing our bums off, I was so excited by the pictures we got and I was like “We should do this more often, this is awesome especially if it’s warmer it’d be great”. We started discussing after that point for a month or so and then started going on and off. In our discussion, we thought we should put together a YouTube channel and that is the genesis of all that.

Alan – Brenda has been in marketing in 3D animation, web design and all that but I was in the game industry as a producer working for Disney and thus we’ve always been in the industry of producing content and having fun with it and we always wanted to do our own thing on YouTube since it is an open platform for us to be able to do something we always wanted to do, and I think it was a match made in heaven in that we can marry photography, trips, adventures and going out for Milky Way photography and have all those experiences on camera and share how it goes. Brendan is someone always willing to do it anytime and in any condition and he is the perfect part of it.

Brendan – II have been doing photography since then and my first camera was a DMR-7 and then I bought an 8-200 which was my first SLR digital camera. Ever since that, I have used different models and that is for more than 15 years ago. When the digital film was becoming more of a reality, that’s when I got in there and have been doing pictures since then. I had not gotten serious enough about it to study it as an art or discipline, and would only take pictures of my kids and plants or other cool stuff and experiment like that and I’ve had a huge library. I had tried photography and videos as a teenager and I loved the idea of doing both and this was really cool. I went to Canon because my Sony couldn’t do video and when Canon t2is and t3is came out, I bought t3is as my first Canon camera because I loved the idea of doing videos with it. We also thought that before taking pictures, we also needed separate cameras to take videos while we are shooting photos and so we bought some video pros and we started building content from there.

Alan- The last two years have been wow with trip and trip seeing well over 30 different state run national parks, national monuments and being all over the Western United States and now for the first time ever we are here in North Carolina having a photo adventure. Our most distant photo adventure yet.

Jordan – And I think that is what I enjoy about your channel more than any other because you concentrate on adventure part of it than like settings and stuff. How easily we talk about certain settings and some of the things you can improve when taking photos but you’re obviously concentrating on the actual adventure of doing it because that is what everybody really likes and especially all those landscape photographers, night photographers and nature photographers, where the adventure is the whole point of it and that’s kind of the whole fun part of our channel and your journey videos have seen that whole process.

Alan– We are focused on a story in the videos and on the podcast and people around us who were making landscape photography podcasts kind of died out or slowed down or we’ve caught up with them in the number of episodes because it’s really hard to get enough content to put out there. If you want to teach someone about landscape photography, you will run out of content within a short time and Brenda and I were amazed that no one else had a channel or Podcast that was focused entirely on the story where whatever happens, happens, just go do it and then tell the story. If you blow it because you have your shutter turned on for 3-and-half hours instead of having it turned off, you tell that story and then cry out every time you hear it. That is what we do. We focus on the adventure of the story and I think the best part of it is that we say, ‘get out there and have a photo adventure of your own” and thus we are encouraging other people to tell us their own stories. It’s not just us telling people our stories but we encourage them to tell us what happens when they go out there and we hear people telling us how they got inspired when they went to this or that place to take some shots. We have people all over on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube telling us their stuff and we love hearing this and we would quite often share these adventures on the podcast and it’s all about encouraging others to go out and enjoy an adventure no matter the conditions or time.

Brendan – But obviously don’t do it at the expense of your marriage, it’s not that serious but we brainstormed and figured out what kind of format we would want to proceed with and came up with the idea that we can both go out there and fill up each other and make it more interesting especially when we focus on the fact that we are going out and exploring these cool places and it kind of gets to my inner person coz I like exploring new things and looking at what is next and that is adventurous. The good thing is that you always discover something new even if you’ve been there before and there is always a different way of approaching the same object in Landscape photography especially at night because we get the night settings down and once this is done, it’s always “what can I get that’s cool to go to the next Milky Way?”, What are the dark areas or places we can explore which are unique and of course there are those iconic places especially in the park but what are those places outside the park which are cool and so it’s fun to discover those places and share with others?

Jordan – So, going along with that when you guys are trying to find different things to put in your photos to help enhance them a little bit, that kind of goes with the fact that you are two guys, what are the differences between your individual photography styles coz you guys usually landscapes, nightscape and stuff like that; how do you tell the difference between your two photos, coz you guys are next to each other most of the time? How do you kind of differentiate your photos from each other?

Alan – That’s a very good question and with Brendan’s experience, he has been with the cameras longer than I have. I’m relatively new to the DSRL camera world, as I have only had a DSRL Canon EOS 70D since 2016 January, just so that I can attach it to my telescope and do deep sky imaging and I wanted to do Milky Way photography sometimes with it and it completely frets and I always doing Milky Way photography with it. I have a 60 now and I’m completely new to it and I can see all the time I go to a location I think of a composition and Brendan comes in and he might not figure out what the composition but have an idea naturally as he has the instinct and he hits that instinct and more often than not being just 10 yards away from me, he will naturally bring in a leading line, a curve or something interesting that has shown up in his frame that I didn’t notice because I go through it almost like a checklist, like what most probably some of you listening to this have when you go with a checklist and it’s like ‘I want this and that’ and you try to find those things and when you are there you don’t photograph enough like Brendon in his instinct and you happen upon a great composition and you start taking the shots. So, there is a difference in style and I would say that Brendon has a very good hand for the panorama, a very good handling of the leading line up to a shoot and he is drawn to those first while I am more drawn to a vertical shape that’s going to bring the bottom plane to the top plane and break those plains and give the composition some strength and structure. So, I would lean towards those while he’d lean towards the nice sweeping rivers, leading lines, waters, foreground elements that are plain the subject like tree branches which are plain to the subject. All of that you keep hitting all the time.

Brendan – it’s really amazing to see what the differences even between 3 or 4 figure part and how incredibly different those images just the various angles can produce and sometimes we go through our images and feel like they are almost identical. This is because we are focusing on the same spot or same thing and sometimes, like in the next trip, it’ll be barely 10 feet apart and it will be like a completely different scene.

Alan – I want to say, like several weeks ago we were down on the National Bridges National Monument and we were literally standing 5 yards apart. Underneath this Owachomo Bridge and I’m trying to capture a shoot for a video I am doing and Brendan is there to see it for the first time in Milky Way photography. He is standing next to me and I’m seeing the Milky Way and it’s totally vertical, intersection with this long land bridge above our heads and I am going for this vertical shot or a single frame and Brendan pulls off this 3-tier panorama that stretches from right to the left and the shape of the rock as he gets it and spreads this entire scene out where I thought I couldn’t even begin to do a whole full-wide panel because of the distortion, the angle and everything, Brendan pulls off a shoot that I don’t really want to work on my national bridge on a natural light like that. That’s the better image than what I’m going to pull out and I’m just depressed thinking about it.

Jordan – There is nothing like competition when you guys go out there?

Alan – There is no real competition but there is absolutely a winner. We always see who’s shot one that has completely conceded easily but we never try and fight for the better shot or compete for a wow while there but it’s very obvious when someone else pulls off a thing that is fantastic out of the image.

Brendan- And sometimes Alan will pull out a piece that’ll poke people for their worth but then use my images for thumbnails in the podcast of the videos or something like that because it’s really cool image that is perfect for the thumbnails but clearly Alan got a better shot that day for such and such whatever.

Alan -We feature both images in Alan’s videos, so if we go down to the Canaries Creek Falls, we show both our images and how they turned out, we see our RAWs and you see our finals and can see how we process  complete differently. We had common stock on threshold but we both have different ideas on how to process the Milky Way, even though we both have an object that’s completely 2 or 3 ways to capture and just one image is enough and different process is enough and you can see kind of that. Don’t worry about your own method just go and find your own style, don’t try and mimic anyone else’s and just try to figure out the settings and have fun with it.

Jordan – So, going off with that, you guys as we have been talking it’s like you concentrate on Milky Way photography or that kind of thing, what are like quick steps for those who want to get started? Not that you are technically telling them what to master but what are some quick things to look for when getting started coz I know that histogram is one and how it should look, there’s a particular one?

Brendan – We go with this one first coz that is my favourite one to teach. You sit there with a camera that is a crop factor and it’s an older camera body and you don’t even trust that it’ll be anything but noisy. Don’t worry about it but look at your histogram and make sure that your Milky Way is exposed with a spike and a far black and a gap between the black and the mid tones. Then you want to hunt that tail all the way through the mid tone to the middle line. If you overexpose, you’ll have too much of your illuminate histogram showing up on the right, you want to end and terminate at the middle. You can overwrap a little bit, that’s quite fine but not much, it’s not all. Everything on your histogram is over on the left, from middle over, it’s touching the middle and it’s far on the left with the blacks but then you have a gap and there you have a properly exposed Milky Way.

It’s hard to describe that with an image but you just know you want spike a lower valley and then a hill on to the right. So imagine a mountain with a statue of Liberty next to it, that’s the histogram that you want to see all the way to the left of your histogram. For a properly exposed Milky Way, the noise you might get at a higher ISO to achieve that, we don’t have too much to the statue happening is so worth it and you might not notice it and no one else you show the image to will notice it unless there are pixels people who might have an angle about it.

Alan – Some people might look on the back of the camera and say ‘oh I can see it, it’s bright enough’ but you really get a false reading because you will get an illumination from the back of the camera. It is really easy to pay attention to the dark and get a good image.

Brendan – What a lot of people do is that they take multiple ISO instead of completely taking the shoot and then pull up in-form histogram to see a fore-shoot of that that picture is reading out and then re-adjust the ISO and speed accordingly to pump it more to the right or more to the left depending on what they were getting. So, even live hue histogram could be a false reading.

Alan – I want to talk in the light of the live hue histogram too, normally we talk about a picture taken and reviewing a shoot that has already been cast.

Jordan – So, before we take a picture

Alan – Yes, not the simulation, not the live view one but it’s the histogram that comes back from the captured image.

Brendan – Another tip is that you can’t capture the Milky Way with just any lens. You can use just anybody, anything that’s within 5 years in your world is going to be able to do it easily. And as long as ISO can go up to 12,000, you can get it but the camera kit lenses, well, it just not going to happen.

Alan – We just have a disclaimer … there is a method you can use to fix those lenses that don’t have a great output but those are far more advanced processing techniques that you will need to go through and learn but if you want to go and have it as easy as possible, what Brendan is talking about is the best way to start.

Brendan – Get the first lens, meaning f1.8 to f2.8 or lower. You can do an f3.5, that was my first experience and I left it wide open, I sometimes dialled it down to 4 and if you turn your ISO up and the timer you can get some decent images but really 2.8 and lower is what you want look for a lens and wide. If you want a 15mm or 20mm depending with your camera body, you will need to get a wide angle but if you go to 8mm or 10mm, you will get a very wide fisheye and you’re not going to be too happy with the results. 15mm to 16mm to 24mm seems to be like the suitable option.

Alan – And if you do not have anything faster except for your 15mm, use it in your Milky Way photography because the panorama with that is a better shot than my Tanron 15 to 30 f2.8. 15mm can capture the texture and the widest area of the Milky Way and much better in that you see the grains of sand instead of seeing the whole blown sheet of white. In my Timron I’ll see sheets of white in there a lot of the time while you out there with the 1.8/1.2 with 15mm those can turn out an amazing sandy texture in the Milky Way, so use your 15mm if you have nothing else.

Brendan – If you have a 15mm, this is not the fastest lens but you gonna be doing panoramas and are going to be taking like 30 shots but just know you won’t be getting those wide vistas with that 15 but if you stitch them together in Lightroom you can get something great. Lightroom has great stitch-ability and has never let us down. One advice when it comes to doing panels if you only have something like a 15 is to get a good ball-head with a little separate shovel or get something like a gear-head which is fantastic, heavy and bulky but they are perfect for doing panels.

Jordan – Would you recommend an L bracket?

Brendan – I will definitely recommend it…

Alan – You shouldn’t go for landscapes or outdoor photography without an L bracket because you’ll swerve from vertical to horizontal or will tilt over and over again.

Brendan – And are easy and cheap options of L Bracket these days

Jordan – Those are really great tips and will help somebody out.

Alan – Let’s know how it goes. If you have some shots using a 2.5 with a crop factor of Kurt lens, the best thing is to increase that ISO so you get the proper exposure of the Milky Way and you’ll get some nice shots. Don’t worry about the noise, it’s worth the noise than having to pay $5000 for your camera. Right now we’re starting, don’t care about the noise.

Brendan – Just keep the settings down and get familiar with the process. Practice by getting out there and finding the Milky Way.

Jordan – Do you have any tips for finding the Milky Way?

Alan – Yes, absolutely! If you guys don’t want to spend any money at all and still want to learn where it is, you can understand it’s going to be over South-East-south or south-west-west, you can know where the Milky Way will be at that time. You can also use the Stellarium app which can be used in your mobile or computer at home. This app is completely free in your computer but it’s about a buck or two. PhotoPills is the app you will want to use not only because it not only will tell you where the Milky Way is and how it’ll be, whether the moon is going to be up and on the way of the Milky Way but will also help you know the exact spot on the border where you should stand in and then you can estimate the timeline and know “if I’m there and wait until 2:09am, I can get that core pretty awesomely between these two borders that I want and set up a shoot” and Photopills is practically critical for that.

Brendan – And the great website is DarkSiteFinder.com which is a Google Map and they overlay a dark areas over that map and show you where you live and where the nearest grey, purple or black site is with the lowest amount of light pollution. Light pollution can kill the Milky Way photo since the light can bloom so high from the sky and with your own eyes you can’t see it in the city. So, you go out of the city and as eyes adjust, you can just start seeing it and your camera can see way more than your eyes can see and still you might be getting some light and so you want to look at that map and plan like, ‘if I drive half an hour from here, it’s pretty dark and I can start trying it’ and another good tip is to point your camera in the direction where its darkest. So, if you are a green zone but you’re facing the purple or black zone, that’s going to be your best result coz a facing a known light. There could be a turn of light pushing behind you but in front of you there is nothing and you’re going to have a great shoot.

Alan – Frankly, the key to awesomeness in Milky Way photography, only like two or three tips have to do with your camera and your path but everything else has to do with knowing when to go, where to go and how to take advantage of your time out there. Make sure the moon is not up and that the Milky Way is above the horizon and also make sure you have the spot that’s not going to have the light bloom that’s going to block the Milky Way. Beyond that, you’re going to have great Milky Way shots.

Jordan – At the end of the Podcast usually we put together quick feature item of the week. Anything you guys have that might help photographers?

Alan – This is my absolute favourite recommendation and a must-have because first it’s crazy cheap and everyone needs it because the most difficult thing for a beginner and some of us who’ve been doing it for years, is getting your focus. Sometimes you can’t just focus on an object during daytime and go out thinking you’ve got it set to an affinity on your lens because it gets colder and it changes. You have a range of your affinity because of the temperature. So the best way to get focused on a location and know you’re confident that you have sharpness is a Carson LumiLoupe™ which you can get at Amazon for 8 bucks. It has typically been between 4 and 8 bucks but it’s a 10 times magnifier. The reason why I love this is that it has a cup on it that sets the ideal focus. You can literally set it on top of your LCD panel and look through it and you can see everything 10-times magnified. So the steps are, get a star, a bright planet or something in the middle of your lens, use Light view and then zoom in on it. Your camera might have a magnifying option to zoom in on that star and now you are looking at that star as you’re focusing and you’re seeing it go from blurry to sharp to tiny but then when it’s tiniest, and you’re just using your eyes and the 10 times magnification on your LCD panel, you still can’t see too much of the details then you take that 10 times Carson Lumiloupe, add it to the 10-time digital zoom that you have and then you have a big white ball that you can see little pixels on your LCD screen as you change your focus and are rotating it. You’ll see that the ball is taking over a 4×4 space and before it was a 6 by 6 or 8 by 8 but you can see the little squares of pixels on your LCD panel.

I always use Carson Lumiloupe to get my focus just right. It’s always hard to do and get past it but when you have the Carson Lumiloupe, it changes it into something that is easy to see and awesome and once you do that the images are sharp.

Brendan – One thing I recommend to people is to try a tripod and ball head or a good gearhead or something that is useful to keep your camera nice and still so you can have a lot of flexibility is to have a good tripod. As you go out there, you don’t want something that is flimsy because if you kick it or the sand moves, you want something that is sturdy. Get a good, sturdy tripod and a good ball head like those used in most landscapes and L-bracket is a good addition to that as this is very key for a stable base and flexibility.

Alan – You might think that your tripod is strong enough for 20 seconds and that might be true but most of the time how do you get your foreground looking awesome? You either take your shoot when the moon is up or when the sun is up or take it when it is just getting dark or you are going to light paint so you are going to capture the foreground at different times often, then your Milky Way shot unless you use low level of lighting, you are going to be in a situation where you are composing those two moments together and if your tripod is not sturdy enough to keep it completely still between those two times when you capture those shots, you’re going to lose your easy composite, easy Photoshop work and you’re going to miss it. So, you’re going to need a stable tripod that is going to sit there and be steady the entire time you need it to be in order to capture your shots, your foreground and Milky Way just the way you want it to be.

Jordan – It seems like it’s not that hard to start

Brendan – It’s very easy, you can get into Milky Way photography right now with whatever camera you have just make sure you do the extra techniques and steps that we talked about and other people can tell you about stacking to your panoramas and you can fix that and make sure that you camera has the best output that it can possibly have. But just go out there and get the right exposure and you’ll see the Milky Way and you’ll love it.

 

Starting Your Photography Business

This is the second edition of Sleeklens’ podcast and this particular piece will be addressing how you can start a photography business. This is a really important thing that many people who actually go to photography want to do. They want to start their own photography business and grow it into something that allows them to quit their full-time jobs. There is nothing wrong if you go into photography and you do not want to start your own business. However, a lot of people start out wanting to know the best way to start a photography business.

I will go through a lot of different tips and things to think about as well as the tools you can use. However, make sure to visit Sleeklens website which has a lot of material on how you can start your own photography business. The page has videos and free downloads.

How to start a photography business

The first thing you need to learn or do is to understand photography. You will need to understand the ins and outs of basic photography and exposure. Just because you have a camera that does auto exposure and has green box mode does not mean that we are able to take photos. We actually need to understand how the camera works and how to take photos. There are a lot of beginner photographers out there who think they have the ability to take great portraits or any type of photography for pay just because their friends admire their photos.

portrait

It is very easy to get overwhelmed or nervous and therefore it is really to first understand your craft. You need to understand the exposure triangle, understand how gear works and which gear to use for different situations. There is a lot that goes into photography than just pressing a button. This is a no-brainer but really important to understand the very basics when it comes to settings and exposure before you get started.

Getting a photography mentor

The other thing which is very important but many people do not consider it to be important is to get a mentor. If you are a portrait photographer, for example, you will need to contact a few portrait photographers in your field of photography. You can contact a few photographers near your area. It is advisable not to contact those within your area as you will become a competition to each other and this is not a good environment to be in. You can go to the next city or village and find a photographer who is doing exactly what you are doing and ask them whether you can become a second shooter for free. This is to help you go along and see how the process works, how the posing work and what kind of gear they use for different situations. You can also watch to see how they do their edits and how they get certain effects to their photos. This is something that many people do not think about but is especially prominent in wedding photography. Although most of the second shooters on such occasions could be getting paid, you will understand that most of them are just looking for a mentor to follow along and understand how the process works.

Choosing your fun photography niche

The next step goes hand in hand when it comes to finding a mentor. When looking for a mentor, it is important to look for someone within your specific niche of interest. If you want to be a wedding photographer, you will need to find wedding photographers within your area and go along with and see whether that is something you would want to go into. You may find that wedding photography is too stressful and not your thing and decide to switch to something else such as portrait photography or landscapes. Always go along with those within the niche that is fun for you than you think as a business.

photograhy

Creating a photography business plan

Once you figure out your mentorship and niche, then next step is to create a business plan for yourself. This plan doesn’t have to be extensive but one that gives you the kind of goals you should set. This simple business plan should outline things such as how to re-shoot something like three weddings the whole year. This helps you to fill out things and knowing whether you want to do it and also how your pricing should be. Being the beginning, you aren’t sure what you should be doing exactly but this plan will help you to learn. You can come up with a 5-year plan and maybe decide that you’ll want to be shooting a wedding every month, making it twelve weddings per year. You can also come up with a secondary goal and decide you don’t just want to shoot in weddings along but venture into engagement portraits.

You can also put other small goals you want to include in the plan including things such as the number of social media likes and follows you want to get for your photography. Other things within the plan could be how you intend to stick to your plan all the way until your goals are fully achieved as you go fulltime with your photography.

The right type of photography gear

Next, we have a question which every beginning photographer or even photographers, in general, want to know. This has to do with the right kind of gear to use when shooting a specific type of photography. We will go quickly through a list of options available but you can learn more by checking the full-length article on Sleeklens’ blog page. But mainly what we are talking about has to do with knowing the specific type of gear that you need for your particular niche of photography. If you a portrait photographer and you want to make sure that you have the right camera lens and other accessories. With that, if you are a portrait photographer, you should be thinking of a nice entry level DSLR but if you do not have this already, you can try and see whether you have the right camera combination because you don’t need a wide angle lens as a portrait photographer but you’ll need some sort of nice portrait lens or many be telephoto lens or prime lens. You may also need to think about lighting and if you are doing wedding photography, you might need just what a portrait photographer needs but then add an external flash, a nice replacement for your pop-up flash and stuff like that.

If you are a real estate or landscape photographer most likely you will need a Tripod and a really nice camera which doesn’t have to be super expensive but should at least capture decent quality images. You probably do need a wide-angle lens for these different styles of photography. If you are a sports photographer and want to capture great sporting events, you need a long telephoto to capture good action in your shots and fill the frame a little bit. You can see an example of all the gear we recommend in our full-length article on blog section on Sleeklens’ website.

Starting an online portfolio

Next, we will talk about gathering up your photos and starting your online portfolio. This is a huge step when you want to become a professional photographer. You definitely need an online source for your portfolio. By this, we’re not talking about choosing a social media platform such as Facebook where you put your album therein since this is not really professional. Instead, you should consider your own website which becomes your personal space where people can get all the information about you and understand that you’re somebody they can hire. The website becomes some kind of store where people can go and shop and know you are someone they can hire.  If you are going into a field where you don’t already have photos for, it can become a little bit difficult but there are ways to get around it.

If for example, you are planning on becoming a portrait photographer, the best way to get portfolio photos is to use your family and friends. You can ask them to gather somewhere in a park and have them pose for you. You can take photos that mimic engagement photography where two of those present can act as though they are engaged. While this might look like cheating the system, the truth is that it doesn’t matter who the models are but the quality of photos which you are able to capture. Another example will be, let’s say, sports photography. You can go to local high school games or sporting events for a friend and start shooting the action there just to show that you can get these kinds of photos. If you are going to a basketball game or any other event, you can go early and request to be allowed to take some shots so as to build a portfolio. The organizers might allow you or deny you the opportunity. Whichever the case, you should try and get some simple images on different types of styles of photography and there are a lot of ways to do that and you just need to be creative.

When it comes to the website, it is really important to have a very high-quality host. The days of building a website from scratch are almost over and you can get a lot of hosting options out there. WordPress hosting is highly recommended, very popular and free option it comes to photography websites. You will need to pay for hosting and domain name but the actual software that runs the back-end of your website is free. You can learn more about this option from the article as well. There are also other options if you are not familiar with WordPress including SquareSpace, SmugMug, Zenfolio among others and these are worth looking at depending on the style that you want to get into. For example, if you are a wedding or portrait photographer and you don’t want to worry about printing your own images, you can choose SmugMug or Zenfolio as your website service and couples or people who buy your wedding photos or portraits may be able to order them directly off your website. You don’t have to worry about printing them as they are completely ordered off your website, printed and shipped directly to your customers. This is kind of a passive business that would be really good to have so you can worry about shooting and not printing.

When optimizing your website, it is very important to do a number of key things. First of all, you need to choose the best domain name. Most people go for their name plus the word “photography’ and while there is nothing wrong with that, but if you want to be a little bit creative, you can actually generate a lot of SEO traffic (Search Engine Optimization) from your URL. If you are a photographer in New York, you can choose something like .newyorkphotography.com or something that is closely related to that. You can actually go to photographyinnewyork.com. Of course, you can still stick with your name plus the word “photography.com” as part of it but you can get a little bit creative in this just to help generate traffic to your site based on the domain name.

You can also keyword your images before uploading them to your website. Most of the images come off the camera with a generic name but you can rename them to something with keywords. You can use something with the keyword such as -wedding-New-York or something closely related to that just to help generate traffic as well. Simple things like these can help people who are looking for images in Google to find your site and see your work which can help grow your business.

Spreading a word about your business

Spreading the word about your business is very important since marketing is 95% of the battle when it comes to growing your photography business. When seeking to spread the word about your photography business, there are different methods such as printing flyers, postcards, business cards but the main thing you can do to promote your business is to use word of mouth. This is the answer but many people don’t like it when it comes to spreading the word about photography business. Just think of a friend who says, “I want to go and see a movie or something like that…” The way that movie is spread around is when people say, ‘I have seen that movie and it’s very good” and all who hear about it want to go and see it for themselves. The opposite also brings about negative effects. A word of mouth brings great impact on any business and people who use your services can help spread the word about you and bring customers your way.

The social media

Social media is huge when it comes to promoting and keeping up to date with customers. You need all the popular platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest and make sure they are updated regularly or at least once a week. This will help you keep up to date with your customers and get a lot of eyes on your business. If you are running something special such as half the price portrait photography sessions, just post it on Facebook and other social media platforms so that most people will come across it without join some different mailing lists. If you are a photographer, Instagram is one of the most powerful platforms especially because it is more image-based and people will, therefore, see your images and that’s what entices them to click on it. Make sure you post a lot on Instagram and do a lot of keywording and hashtagging and this will, in turn, generate a lot of business for you.

This is just a short preview of the big article on Sleeklens blog and there is a lot more not covered here. Make sure to check this article as well as the videos that will guide you on a lot more including how you can build a WordPress website from scratch. There are also many other free downloads for you and you can take advantage of all these.

Featured item of the week

The featured item of the week is very simple. This is actually an iOS and Android app for your Smartphone known as Trover. This is an app that is basically labelled as a discovering and saving ideas for your next trip. This is one important step if you are travelling photographers who maybe want to travel and get some new places that you would want to photograph and get a couple of memorable pictures from. You just open it up after downloading and you’ll be able to see your location and different photos from around your location. This could be anywhere from monuments, foods, sceneries, or overlooks but just anything that people have seen from that area and photographed to just tell others that there are some great spots. The app helps you know these great spots and the distance from where you are located. It also helps you get the direction to the specific monuments or sceneries just in case you are in a new place. You can also find more about this little app by visiting trevor.com and you can see it is available for both iOS and Android.

trover-app

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Simple Smartphone Photography Tips

In this episode of the Sleeklens Photography Podcast, we talk about easy smartphone photography tips.

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Smartphone photography is kind of a big deal these days. Many people are quickly ditching their big cameras and carrying their Smartphones around. I actually answered a question by one user who wanted to know which the best Smartphone editing app is so she can leave her camera behind and just take her iPhone with her to help take photos and edit them on the go within the app.  Since this is happening more and more these days, obviously DSLRs and high-quality cameras are much needed but it’s becoming a big thing when people want to travel light, therefore wanting to carry small cameras with them and that’s usually their phone because they have it with them most of the time anyway.

smartphone

As such, these tips are going to be just some simple things that you can do to try and get some different and more creative photos while at the same time making your photos generally better overall. However, these tips are going to concentrate on some basic features which are found in iPhones because that is what I am familiar with. But most of these features can be transitioned over to an Android device or any other kind of Smartphone that you might have. A lot of these features are found in most smartphones as well and you can check your device to see whether they are there even when you hear me talking much about iPhone.  Some of these tips are going to be very simple but others are likely to be some things that you haven’t noted. These features include:

Composition

This a really a simple thing that a lot of people forget but you can easily and almost instantly improve your photography without changing any settings by just working on your composition. One of the main composition rules out there is called the rule of thirds. This rule has to do with spreading your frames into two lines going vertical and two lines going horizontal and this is basically cutting your image into nine squares. This gives you some points of interest to put a subject on. So, when you look at the intersecting lines, maybe you’ll put your subject in the bottom left corner and that will kind of create a rule of a third that’ll give you a lot of negative space on the right side.

iphone

The iPhone has a feature that allows you to put a grid on your phone thus giving you an automatic rule of thirds and you can kind of play with it that way and obviously the lines do not show up in your final image but you will be able to see them when working with your camera just to help you position your image that way. The rule of third is one of the widely known features when it comes to composition but there are also other rules out there including leading lines (that’s maybe having a walking path going up to an object and that can create an instant interest in your photo). You can even use symmetry just to make sure that everything is perfectly symmetrical from left to right, basically looking like a perfect mirror image of each other. If you flipped it into halves, you’ll have a lot of symmetries there. The basic rule of thirds, basic composition strategy will definitely improve your photography without changing your settings whatsoever.

Using angles

This goes along with the composition. The beauty of being able to use a small camera such as an iPhone or any other Smartphone is that you can easily get into different places that you might not be able to if you were using a big DSLR. One of the most popular angles that get this kind of a low angle looking up at a subject and what it creates is some sort of more dominant and impactful image. As such, you are able to bend down low and position the camera very low when using a Smartphone and still see that large screen which is much larger than the LCD screen on the back of the DSLR. So, you’ll still be able to see your image and again just because the phone is so small, you are able to get down low without any kind of trouble positioning it thus being able to go down to many different places.

iphone

If you go to the opposite side of going down low, it means you can hold it up above your head and kind of fire a burst mode of shoots. If you are trying to shoot at a crowd or a concert, you can just hold the shutter button and get a burst mode of shoots and select the best photo from that which will look a little bit less intrusive if you are holding a small iPhone or Smartphone up in the air as opposed to a big DSLR camera.

 Using exposure lock to control lighting

On the iPhone, there is a camera app which is normally known as ‘Camera’ and when you click on it, then that is your native or inbuilt camera app on the phone. What is exposure lock does is when maybe you are shooting into a bright window and so your subject is going to be completely dark because the whole image is exposing that bright window. The way to collect this is to kind of move out of the way and find a different kind of composition that is not directly pointed at the window or you can use the exposure lock. The way to do that is to click and hold on your subject on the screen and the camera will kind of lock itself in that different mode, the focus-exposure lock, meaning it won’t move the exposure not unless you tell it to do so. Once you’re locked in there, you can scroll up or down the screen and as you scroll up, it will kind of lighten the image and as you scroll down, it will somehow darken the image. With this feature, you can easily play with more lighting effect depending with what you want without letting the camera to do any evaluative metering when it comes to finding the right exposure for the photo. This feature also works well when using videos on your phone using any mode. If you find that some of your videos are a little dark, you can use the exposure lock and focus lock as a really great way to haze the exposure a little bit without having the camera do all the work.

Using camera apps with more features

Now that we talked about the native camera app in the phone, let’s just say that you’re fed up with it and don’t want to use it either because there are no many features in there and you want to use something different, what could you do about it? Well, I will encourage you to look at different apps that I’m going to discuss but some of the best apps that I like to use are those which allow you to control almost all the image settings as you would in a DSRL camera.

apps

One of my best apps that I like is called ProCam. This is a great app that does both videos and regular stills and you are allowed to change the ISO, the aperture, the exposure and even the ratio of the image among other dozen things. You can even out this app as a shortcut widget on your phone so that you do not have to go to your native app intuitively but instead use this one for your photography. The app also allows you to edit the DNG files right inside it which means you will be editing the raw files that you just took. This feature makes it a great app to use. You can also export it and eventually update it in another program such as Lightroom or even export it to your desktop and edit the photos in Lightroom just to give you better results as you would just using the JPEGS.

Using Polarizing sunglasses

The next tip is kind of a fun one. Let’s say you are out in some bright, sunny situation such a beach and you’re trying to take photos of a family but realize that the sky is really blown-out and doesn’t look like you’ll get an appealing photo. What you can do is take your sunglasses and put them over the camera lens and this will help darken the exposure, trying to make it a little bit more balanced. This works best when you have polarizing sunglasses. We all know what polarized filters do to a regular DSLR and polarizing lens in the sunglasses work exactly like that. It darkens up part of the image while leaving the bottom part of the image a little bit brighter and allows for more neutral exposure. It also cuts down the reflection as well. As such, polarizing glasses can actually help while taking pictures like those. That’s a really easy way to get great shots with your sunglasses when exposed to excessively bright light.

Using natural light

Natural light is a big key when it comes to getting really great, well exposed and creative images. A lot of people stick to using the camera flash but this is not really powerful no matter the technology or colour tones in the flash feature and thus does not match up to what you would get when using the natural light for your photography. One thing that is really interesting especially in a sporting event is that you’ll see multiple flashlights pop-up and that can be a lot of different things and also some people might have DSRLs which have flashes, most of the little popup flashes you see are from Smartphones or iPhones.

landscape

What people don’t understand is that although they think they need those flashes, the fact of the matter is that they are damaging their photos. These flashes normally ruin the exposure since they can only travel so far. The little, tiny dot can’t transfer as far as to where the object or action is and if it were to go far, the truth of the matter is that it can go beyond two feet. The best thing will be to put the flash off and try to get the best natural exposure and this way you will get better-looking photos. The truth is that you might see a little more noise and movement in the photos but at the end of it all, you’ll have better-looking results that when you use the little tiny flash.

Using panorama mode in the Smartphone

Using a panorama mode helps to mimic the wide angle lens. This is kind of good when taking a group photo but can’t get back far enough to capture everybody in the frame. Normally what happens in such a situation is that you try to squeeze people together or try to shrink the frame. However, you can use the panorama feature on your phone to do a makeshift widening effect. Using the panorama, you have to go from 180 degrees from left to right although it’s not a must that you get the 180 degrees. You can move slowly from far left and pan over the group and get the whole group in the shot and then kind of pan away from the right and then we can crop in later on in the editing and get kind of a makeshift wide angle lens and also get everybody into the photo. This is a really quick thing which I use a lot, especially when shooting real estate photos using my phone.

Using headphones as a shutter release cable

To do this, you just need to plug your earphones into your phone and then set your camera very far away from you. On the headphones, you have a little ‘volume up/down’ locker which you can use as a shutter release when maybe you want to take a photo and you don’t have anyone to help you, you can plug your headphones and do a little bit of selfie action. Some wireless headphones also allow you to use them a shutter release locker but it depends on the maker and the model. However, most of them work just the same since they have the volume up/down locker. You can also do that with a small headphone since they all act like a wireless shutter release.

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Editing in Smartphone photography

I personally don’t like editing on the Smartphone especially if I don’t have to. If I can save the photos and transfer to my laptop or PC later for editing, I would prefer this to editing on my phone. However, there are a couple of great photography apps which allow you to edit your photos on your phone. The first one is known as Snapseed by Google and its updated regularly, something that is really great. It offers a number of pro-level features including transform, blurring, colour adjustment, and blemish removal among many other cools features and functions that allow you to take control of your photo. Many people normally do take photos using their phones and then transfer them to their iPad as their main editing source using Snapseed. This is a really good app if you are the kind of people that like sitting down in front of their computer to edit photos.

VSCL is also another great app that you can use for editing on your Smartphone. If offers some great filters and other features, some of which are free and others premium. The app also allows you to transfer your photos directly to social media thus making it a great and convenient option if you want to edit your photos using your phone. The other option is the Instagram. Many people think that when you edit your photo on Instagram you have to post it. However, you really don’t have to. When you open a photo on Instagram and start editing and then push the next button after you are done editing, it is saved on your phone before you post it on the social media. As such, you can cancel the whole process after pushing the next button which allows you to have the photos on your phone but not posted on to your Instagram account. Instagram has some great features although they don’t have a lot of filters such as VSCO dust you can do the usual fine-tune edits using the well-known features as you would find in Lightroom.

Next, you can use Lightroom but use what is known as Lightroom mobile. This is a mobile version of Lightroom which allows you to edit your photos which are taken using your phone. The great thing about Lightroom Mobile is that it has almost the same features as the main Lightroom software but these are layered differently to suit the smaller screen of the phone. Once you edit your photo, your files can instantly be transferred back and forth if the Lightroom in your computer is synced up with your phone. This allows you to edit your photos on your phone and if you can get back to it, then you can access it through your computer. That’s a great feature if you have your phone and computer synced together.

Lastly, we will touch on one of the most interesting and better options when you are trying to get the best photos using your phone. This involves exporting your photos as a Digital Negative file (DNG) and editing it in Lightroom on your desktop. You will be able to see more of the image and also have more features as you are used to and also enjoy better-known adjustments and also use the presets that you’ve downloaded or bought. It is a really well-known place to edit your photos and actually if you have the time you can export your photos as DNG files for editing.

Featured item of the week

The featured item of the week is not an actual item but a really cool technique for getting really fast edited photos if you are in a hurry. There is a feature found in Adobe Lightroom known as import preset. This feature is found in the Import module and is a section on the right-hand side known as ‘Apply during import’. There is a little box under that called “develop settings”. In that ‘develop settings pull-down menu, you will see all your well known presets that you’ve installed on your Lightroom catalogue. Any preset you have installed in your preset module will be seen in that develop setting panel. Whether it’s a popular setting that you’ve applied to your preset module, Lightroom will apply it to you while importing back to your computer. As you import your photo, just change the ‘develop setting’ to the preset that you regularly apply to your photos and allow Lightroom to apply that and when you get back to your computer, you can see that all the presets were applied on all your images and you can only do some fine-tuning adjustments. This makes for quick photo editing session and is a really cool feature that many people do not know about.

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Lightroom Vs Photoshop: The New Debate to Acknowledge

Welcome to the very first episode of Sleeklens’ photography podcast. This is a weekly podcast where we will be talking about everything photography including Photoshop, Lightroom or anything you can think of. It does not matter what style you shoot; we are still going to talk about it in this podcast. We will go with the flow of the podcast, and you can see what to expect going forward and what we will be talking about in the next few podcasts.

Remember you can stream our podcasts as simply as to click here 🙂

I am going to go through a popular topic which is about Photoshop vs Lightroom, which is a very popular topic when it comes to a lot of beginner photographers out there. Basically, we are going to look at the flow of the podcast going forward. But before then, just a little bit about me as a person. My name is Jordan Younce, a real estate photographer from the United States where I do a lot of real estate stuff. I’ve done a lot of other styles of photography, but I’m kind of concentrating in real estate now. This is a really cool topic and journal to concentrate on now. That just shows you that you can start with one style of photography and then move on to a different one, and in the process, you might find one that you love better than the one you originally planned on starting out with. That’s something you might need to keep in mind. I also do a lot of video content on Sleeklens YouTube channel. You can go to YouTube and search for Sleeklens and you will find a lot of videos to help you with photo editing, shooting or anything you can think about including all about the Sleeklens’ workflows, Photoshop actions, Lightroom Presets and all other stuff and I can help out with that if you need help as well. So be sure to send me anything you want to see in this podcast, any ideas, and I will be happy to help you with that. You can send those to Jord[email protected]. Anything you would like me to help or any questions, just send them my way, and I will be glad to help.

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With that out of the way, let’s talk about the podcast going forward. This is going to be a weekly podcast and is eventually going to be moved to a weekly live show on YouTube. If you don’t want to be on a live show or don’t have the time, don’t worry. We are still going to take the audio from there and release it as a podcast. So, even if you subscribe here, you still will be able to get all the episodes so you can follow along with us.

In this weekly podcast, we’re going to talk about news, general topics for the episodes, and recent articles which are posted on Sleeklens.com website, and there is also going to be a featured item of the week. This is going to be some fun little things such as Photoshop actions, Lightroom presets, gear or any kind of a thing you can think of that is photography related.

To show you our appreciation for listening to the podcast, we are also going to offer a coupon code which you can use at the Sleeklens cart. If you add something that you want to pick and then enter the coupon code “sleeklenspodcast”, it’s going to take away 10% off anything on the store. So, make sure to check that out if you’ve been looking forward to buy anything from the site. That is the basic flow of how this podcast is going to be laid out; it’s a really fun podcast and cool environment to have all photographers out there listen to. I did mention that I’ll be talking about a topic on this episode, but this is an introductory topic which is very popular when it comes to beginner photographers out there. This has to do with the program one should use to edit my photos? Should I use Lightroom or should I use Photoshop?

The quick answer to this question is that there is no magic answer, but it depends on the kind of style of photography that you’re shooting and what you want to do with your photos. Both programs have their pros and cons. I’m going to look into that in in-depth. So, let’s go over Photoshop first and start by the pros of using this program.

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What one of the main things that Photoshop does but Lightroom cannot do is to use Layers. A layer allows you to put an edit on top of an edit that you can do in Photoshop. This does a non-destructive editing of your files. It also allows you to do tons of stuff more than I can cover in this podcast. Being able to do a lot of stuff on your photo non-destructively is important because you don’t want to mess up with your original file but want to keep it intact and in its original form. Photoshop also has what we call ‘Actions’ and Sleeklens sells a bunch of actions out there to do certain effects to your photos, and these are like presets (if you are familiar with Lightroom). They allow you to take one effect and apply it to your photos with one click and it automatically does all these types of effects to your photo. This allows you to do all kinds of editing. You can do color adjustments, visual effects and other fun stuff with a single click using the actions.

Blending and compositing is another really important Photoshop feature that you can do to your photos. What I mean by this is that, let’s say you’ve gone out for landscape shooting and you have this really amazing scene and you take a picture but realize that the sky maybe just a little boring and you don’t like the way it looks. But earlier on you had taken a really nice sunrise or something similar to that but with a very impactful sky. What you can do is take that sky out of one photo and put it in the other photo and blend them together thus giving you a very to scene by replacing the blurry sky with the better one. Photoshop can do that, but Lightroom cannot get any closer to something like that. That’s kind of an advanced editing technique that Lightroom can’t do. So, Photoshop is another reason for you to use layers as they allow you to do that as well but Lightroom cannot get any closer.

Photoshop also has a ton of tools that you can use. Lightroom has a little bit of what Photoshop has, but the latter can do almost everything. One of the tools that many people like to use and they think they can do the same in Lightroom but they cannot is actually the Liquify tool. A lot of people are familiar with that tool and what that tool does is that it allows you to whoop your photo to make it better looking. What I mean by that is that, let’s say you took a photo of somebody, but they are concerned with the weight or something like that. You can actually slim them down using the Liquify tool. You can take a really cool facial portrait of somebody and enlarge their eyes a little bit to make them appealing. You can do stuff like that. You can make them smile if they weren’t smiling when you took the photo. Photoshop has some really awesome tools and a large variety of things you can do to your photo. So, basically, anything you can imagine is possible to do to your photos using Photoshop. It might take a little bit of time, but you can actually do it in Photoshop.

Even though Photoshop has a lot of high points when it comes to editing photos, there are also many low points or negative aspects that some people cannot get around. One of the major ones is that it has no image management. Once you drag a photo into Photoshop for editing, you have to save it just as you would a doc file. You have to figure out where you want that image to be saved while in Lightroom, you can put them in a catalogue, you can organize them and open them in Lightroom, and your file management is basically Lightroom. But in Photoshop, you have to save the photos in your hard-drive or file structure that you specify, and you can lose files just because you do not know where you are saving them. Thankfully, Lightroom has a better file organization, and that one is a major con when it comes to Photoshop.

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The next one is that it has no built-in raw support. You might be asking yourself, why you have been able to edit raw photos in Photoshop before. Well, technically you haven’t but what you have edited your photos in is what we call ‘camera raw’ which is a small separate program from Photoshop. This is not really a big deal because camera raw is updated to edit raw files from almost any camera. However, you are not editing your RAW photos in Photoshop but doing it in camera RAW. So, when editing your RAW photos in camera RAW, you basically need to have all your main adjustments done before you bring them into Photoshop because you are not going to have that leeway to edit your photos later on. You will lose some of the information when they go into Photoshop, and that is kind of a negative thing but again you can edit your RAW photos in Camera RAW but can’t do it in Photoshop.

One of the last negative points with Photoshop is that it’s hard to learn and we all know this. It is a little hard to get accustomed to the Photoshop interface, and if you are not familiar with it and you happen to open a file, it is still going to be overwhelming when you do it in Photoshop. It takes a lot of time to learn Photoshop while in Lightroom, you can almost jump in there and start editing your photos right away. That is one major con of Photoshop.

Next, we look at Lightroom….

One of the main pros if Lightroom is that it does has Built-in RAW support. So, when you import your photos into Lightroom and you keep making adjustments to your files, you are constantly making your edits on that raw file rather than a compressed file format of that raw file or any other type of file and all the edits are non-destructive. Anything you do to your files can automatically be reset and you get back to the way it was when it came off that camera. That’s really important if you are someone who goes back and edits photos regularly because you have that raw file to fall back on.

Like I mentioned in Photoshop, Lightroom has a major file feature and optimization. You can organize your files greatly. I know in my case when I go shooting in a home, I always put them in an individual folder in Lightroom and that way if someone wants to see the files for any particular house I can pull out the specific file where I put the files and export them and send them their way. This is very easy and it is very easy to organize your files in Lightroom.

Again, as I mentioned, Lightroom is very easy to use. You have your modules on the top-right hand side of the Lightroom window and these are self-explanatory. Your library is where you keep all your files, your develop module is where you edit the files, map shows exactly where your photos were taken at if you have GPS location just among many others. It is a very easy file structure or file management window to allow you to edit your files in. the develop module is also very straightforward with the correct labels such as basic adjustments, tone curves, Split toning details and all that stuff. It is very easy to understand and all of them are in one place.

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Another major pro when it comes to Lightroom are the presets. Presets are fantastic and you can use them in almost every photo because not only do they allow you to do your edits quickly, which is a major thing when it comes to photographers who put out a lot of work all at once, but you can also apply almost any effect that you can ever think of. For example, if your photo is very much underexposed, you can apply a certain effect to bump up the exposure but it doesn’t mess up with certain highlights of your exposure. It only brightens up certain spots on your image. Sleeklens has a ton of presets which you can use in almost any situation from landscapes to real estate to drone photography, to visual effects and if you want to look at these effects you can visit the site and look up the collections available. Again, presets are fantastic as they give you some ideas on effects you want to apply to your photos. You can also create your own presets if you know there are certain effects you apply in almost every photo thus making it a really awesome feature to have in Lightroom.

Let’s now look at the cons when it comes to Lightroom…

First, Lightroom has no advanced editing tools. What I mean by this is that as we were talking about Photoshop when it comes to compositing and replacing the sky and stuff like that, you can’t do that at all. Basically, you have to go into Photoshop to do that. Let’s say you have a portrait of someone who may have some blemishes or something like that, you have the spot removal tool and you can take those out, you can have the healing tool to help you take that stuff out that way. You can remove some simple stuff from your photo but as far as doing any major adjustments that you might want to do, you must do it in Photoshop.

Again, as mentioned under Photoshop, no “layerability”, meaning you can’t do stackable presets which is mainly what the Sleeklens’ presets are which allows you to stack on top of each other until you have the desired effects. You do not have the ability to do layers in Lightroom and that can be a drawback for some if you really concentrate layer editing.

One of the last cons when it comes to Lightroom is that it’s only for photos. You might be asking, ‘isn’t Photoshop also just for photos?” But actually, this is not the thing. A lot of people don’t know that you can actually edit videos in Photoshop. You can edit your videos as you would an image by opening it in a Camera RAW filter once you import it to Photoshop and edit all the same features, all the same sliders that you are used to in Photoshop. It’s probably not the best video program out there but if you are doing simple video adjustments and are not used to any other video editing software, Photoshop will definitely help enhance the video quality. It also does have a timeline and so you can make that as your video editing suite. However, I would recommend looking for some other type of video editing program. Although you can edit your videos in Photoshop, importing the same into Lightroom doesn’t allow you to do much but you can catalogue it in order to save it but you can’t really view it or edit it. That’s one real drawback for someone who wants to edit or catalogue video because you will have to come up with your own file or structure for that as well.

That is the main topic of this episode and hope you enjoyed it. Just some quick information for beginners out there who are trying to find what editing program is best for them, I personally use Lightroom 99% of the time but there is something we have to dive into Photoshop to kind of fix or correct but for the main part, Lightroom is the main go-to tool when it comes to editing.

Featured item of the week

The featured item for this week is a brand new collection when it comes to Sleeklens’ Lightroom workflows and that is the Visual Noir Collection. This collection is really great and focuses on cinematic film presets effect. If you’ve ever wondered how to get that cinematic effect look on your photos, this collection is probably the one you want to look out for.  You can actually go to Sleeklens YouTube channel to see some great videos showing you some really awesome effects that you can apply to your photos using the Visual Noir Collection. To see these effects, just go to Sleeklens.com and checkout the Visual Noir Collection. Just look at the before and after photos for how great results you can get using the effects. Remember to use your coupon code ‘Sleeklenspodcast’ to get 10% off that collection.