Yes, we all know what automatic exposure bracketing (AEB) does. Why do we need to do it manually? Sometimes, the contrast of the scene is so extreme that AEB is not capable of capturing the whole dynamic range. This is when manual bracketing saves the day! When to bracket exposure manually? Once you have bracketed with AEB, check the histogram of the brightest and the darkest image. If the graph touches the far right in the brightest image or the far left in the darkest image, then you should re-bracket your exposures manually. First, take a shot like you would do normally in aperture priority mode. Make a note of the aperture, ISO and shutter speed. Switch your camera to manual mode and dial in the settings (keep your lens in AF). Now, step up the shutter speed by half or one stop (e.g. one stop up from 1/250 second is 1/500 second – just double it) and take another shot. Check the Now, step up the shutter speed by half or one stop (e.g. one stop up from 1/250 second is 1/500 second – just double it) and take another shot. Check the histogram, repeat this step until there is no highlight clipping (i.e. the graph of the histogram doesn’t touch the vertical line on the right). Next, set the shutter speed back to the initial value and step down using the same method (but in reverse) until there is no shadow clipping on the histogram (e.g. one stop down from 1/250 second is 1/125 second). Congratulations, you have just shot with your camera in manual mode! Congratulations, you have just shot with your camera in manual mode!
These are just a few examples of what long exposure can achieve. You can also use this technique to remove people when shooting at a touristy spot. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination! You need a tripod to stabilize your camera as any long exposure without it results in motion blur. How slow should the shutter speed be? It depends on how much light is available and what effect you want. If you want to take an image of traffic light trails, simply compose and shoot like you normally do in aperture priority mode. Because of the limited light available, the shutter speed will be slow anyway. You can also step up the aperture to slow down the shutter speed more. If you want an even slower shutter speed (e.g. 1 minute), you need a neutral density (ND) filter. It’s basically a transparent, dark glass that limits the amount of light passing through it. Place it in front of your lens in a filter holder to slow down the shutter speed considerably. Use this to smoothen water flow, create light painting or ghosting effect.
Sounds pretty cool, right? Star trails images often have the power to mesmerize because of its phenomenal visual effect. To your surprise, you can create the same effect with your camera too! Normally, a tutorial on star trails with time stack is a long post. But I’m going to give you a super duper crash course here. Essentially, you need to be at the right place at the right time with the right camera settings. I’ll explain. Place: You need a location with minimum or no light pollution. This means away from the big cities and major highways. Luckily, you can find these places on the internet easily these days. Start with the International Dark-Sky Association. Time: Moonlight and weather affect how much you can see in the sky. The presence of moonlight makes the stars appear dimmer. So, ideally, you want to have no moon in the sky (a.k.a. new moon). You can plan with this moon phases calendar. Weather is pretty self-explanatory, you want a clear sky instead of clouds obscuring the stars. Camera settings: Use a fast lens. In my opinion, widest aperture of at least f/2.8. However, I’ve come across images with f/3.5 or even f/4. In manual mode, set the ISO between 800 to 1600 (experiment to get the best result). Use the 600 rule to get a rough estimation of your shutter speed. Focusing in the dark is tricky. You can manually focus on the brightest star, on an object in the foreground, or use the hyperfocal distance (if there is enough foreground to do so). The 600 rule: This is to give you an estimation of what your maximum shutter speed should be before star streaks appear. All you need to do is divide 600 by your focal length. For example, if your focal length is 18mm, 600/18=33 seconds (maximum shutter speed). This formula is for full frame cameras, remember to add the crop factor to the focal length if you use a cropped sensor. Tips: Use a tripod (must) and a remote release (optional). Find the North Pole (for Northern Hemisphere) or the South Pole (for Southern Hemisphere) if you want the stars to circle around a center point. To avoid motion blur, enable mirror lockup in a DSLR. Take at least 50 images to get long, beautiful star trails. The more images you get, the longer the trails. You can get an intervalometer to trigger the shutter release for you. Apply the same technique to clouds during daylight and be surprised by the results! Thanks to Matt Molloy’s tutorial on 500px ISO. Post-processing: I use Lightroom and Photoshop, so I’m going to explain post-processing with these. In Lightroom, select all the images, right-click and choose Edit In > Open as Layers in Photoshop. Once in Photoshop, go to Edit > Auto-Align Layers to fix any minor inconsistency. Now, make all layers invisible except the first two. Change the blend more of the second layer to lighten (you’ll see the trails starting to build up). Next, make the third layer visible and change the blend mode to lighten. Repeat this step for all layers and fix any light trails from airplane or shooting star as you go along (unless you want to include them). This can be tedious, but you can automate the process with a plugin like this. Have fun!
Tilt-shift is a technique that utilizes a specialized lens to create selective focus or simulating a miniature scene. A tilt-shift lens is often expensive, but you can create the effect with your non-tilt-shift lens in an unconventional way. Freelensing works by you holding a detached lens in front of your camera and tilting it at different angles to create selective focusing. This is the same principle as a tilt-shift lens but without the specialized mount to the camera body. To begin with, you need a lens that has a focal length of 50mm or more, anything less than that creates fuzzy images that may not be usable. In aperture priority mode, select the widest aperture available. Any other aperture will not work unless your lens has a manual aperture ring (often in old lenses only). You should also switch your lens to manual focus and turn the focusing ring to infinity (with the ∞ sign). Now, detach your lens while the camera is still switched on (don’t cringe!). Hold your lens and tilt it to one side while maintaining contact with the camera body on the opposite side. Look in the viewfinder or the LCD screen, you’ll see part of the image is in focus and part is not. Tilt the lens at different direction and angle to change the plane of focus. For example, when you tilt the lens to the right, the left side of the lens mount is lifted off the camera body while the right side remains in contact. You’ll soon find that the side of the image in focus is the side where the lens is lifted off the mount. The focused plane shifts to the center of the image with a greater angle of tilt. You may get many blurry images at first, but I promise you’ll eventually get the image you want with A LOT of practice!
This is a trick I picked up early on, and while I don’t use it quite the same way, I still bring out the handy PEZ at times. The PEZ candy dispensers will almost fit into the hot shoe slot at the top of the camera. If you take a sharp pair of scissors and trim the plastic at the bottom, the candy dispenser will slide right on top. With a colorful guy that hands out candy on top of your camera, it’s easier to get little kids to look at your otherwise uninteresting camera. The only problem? You can’t use a flash while your hot shoe is busy with the candy dispenser. I usually use flash to at least create catchlights. When the Pez dispenser comes with me, I hold him in my hand near the camera. (Make sure to check with the parents before offering a child candy!) Portrait photographers use bubble machines, favorite toys, and puppets to help get little kids to look towards the camera. And it can help keep create real smiles.
My favorite places for DIY photo inspiration are hardware stores and craft stores. They’re great when you’re looking for props or creating your own backdrops. For large, sturdy backdrops, I pick up panelling from the hardware store. The kind that’s used to decorate your walls. While panelling can be an outdated style, today there are several options. These look like an actual floor and don’t cost too much. The downside is that they aren’t as portable as rollable floor-drops, but there’s a definite cost saving. For smaller backgrounds, try the craft store. A simple piece of scrapbook paper can work for tiny setups. And quilting fabric can easily serve as a background without the three-digit price tag.
Tinfoil is good for more than a makeshift reflector. If you rumple that tinfoil up first, the tinfoil will scatter the light. This creates excellent bokeh. Crumple up a piece of tinfoil, then stretch it back out and arrange over a piece of cardboard. Then, use that cardboard as a photo background. Make sure you have a light source in front of the tinfoil. You should also keep the tinfoil at least a few inches behind the subject. Using a wide aperture will also help.
Reflectors are among the most inexpensive lighting equipment. But you can make your own for even less. DIY reflectors aren’t portable like the ones designed as photography accessories. You might also look a bit silly using one. But, a DIY reflector works in a pinch and it only takes a few minutes to put together with items you already have. For this DIY photography trick, wrap a piece of cardboard in tinfoil. The larger the cardboard, the larger the reflector and the softer the light. Use tape as needed to keep the tinfoil in place. Once the cardboard is covered, place the DIY reflector across from a light source. This will bounce some light back into the scene.
Lighting modifiers make up a big chunk of the DIY photography tricks floating out there on the web. From using a business card to bounce your flash to a milk jug diffuser. This tutorial from 30Five Millimeter doesn’t look like some random household object. But it’s still cheap. By shaping a bounce card out of foam and velcro, you get the same benefits, without the tacky look. Creating the foam bounce card softens the direct light of the flash for more flattering light. But be forewarned, the light doesn’t reach quite so far once softened.
Boudoir photography started as one of the incorporated styles inside wedding photography. Before the wedding, the bridge would gather her bridesmaids together to get ready for the big day. This is a special time of female bonding. As the bride prepares, a photographer would capture her. These photographs are something intimate to be shared with the groom. They are also perfect for capturing sensuality and boosting the model’s self-esteem. Boudoir photography is another part of the wedding photograph list. So, cover your bases and immerse yourself in this world.