Thursday, 20 February 2014

Lightning Photography: 8 Important Tips To Consider

Lightning Photography: 8 Important Tips To Consider

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Lightning Photography: 8 Important Tips To Consider

Posted: 19 Feb 2014 11:13 PM PST

Lightning photography is self-explanatory: photographing lightning. Because lightning is a very unpredictable force of nature, the actual process of photographing lightning presents unique challenges to photographers. It is, however, possible to be an outstanding lightning photographer if you are equipped with the necessary skills. Below are 8 useful tips that will help you capture stunning lightning shots:

lightning in landscape photography

“Lightning Strike at Fischer Panoramic” captured by Robert Carl (Click image to see more from Carl.)

1. Use a tripod or steady surface.

This is one of the most important tips to consider. Although a tripod works best, any steady surface will do the trick. Because lightning is accompanied by storms, it is obvious why a tripod or steady surface is important.

2. Consider long shutter times.

Lightning is unpredictable; it is very hard to make decent captures tripping the shutter every time you see a flash. For this reason, you should consider investing in a good camera with slow shutter speeds, preferably 30 seconds.

lightning photography

“Approaching Storm” captured by John S. (Click image to see more from John.)

3. Set the horizon.

Most lightning action takes place in the sky. For this reason, the field of view must be set from the horizon up or skewed to the sky. Depending on how close lightning strikes, you will be including more blank sky than normal. You shouldn’t worry about this, because the sky will be more exciting when lightning strikes.

lightning strike photography

“Daylight” captured by Steven Maguire (Click image to see more from Maguire.)

4. Include something interesting.

Although the main focus should be on the sky, you shouldn’t forget to include something interesting in the frame to give your photo relevance and/or perspective. For instance, you can choose to include buildings or vegetation or other things that show how big a storm is.

lightning storm photography

“Untitled” captured by Sohail Nakhooda (Click image to see more from Nakhooda.)

5. Use manual focus.

It is better to use manual focus when taking lightning photos, because lightning is best seen at night when there is enough darkness. Instead of letting your camera hunt for focus automatically when taking every new shot, get a suitable manual focus and leave your camera there.

6. Set shutter speed and aperture manually.

If you are using a camera with the ability to set shutter speed, pick a suitable shutter time like mentioned above and choose a fairly wide aperture. The depth of field should be shallow unless you have nearby objects you would like to include.

7. Consider using stacking software.

This tip is useful if you succeed in capturing steady shots one after the other. You can use stacking software to combine multiple images into one. Most spectacular lighting photos are a a result of stacking, because a single strike usually captures faint cloud action or a single lightning strike.

8. Exercise patience.

This is the last most important tip to consider about lightning photography in this list. Because lightning is unpredictable, you have to be patient. You also need to prepare yourself for multiple camera adjustments in an effort to capture the best shot.

About the Author:
Swee Shiong Chong writes for SG East Photo, a photography blog on techniques and equipment that is used in creating all types of photography from around the world.

For Further Training on Lightning Photography, PictureCorrect Suggests:

Check out Trick Photography and Special Effects by Evan Sharboneau; a very popular instructional eBook that explains how to do most of the trick photos that often capture attention and amazement from viewers. It also teaches the basics that are essential before moving onto advanced techniques. With 300+ pages of information and 9 hours of video tutorials, it is very detailed and includes extensive explanations of many complicated methods that are very fun to learn.

It can be found here: Trick Photography and Special Effects

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Winter Tips for Outdoor Photography (Video)

Posted: 19 Feb 2014 02:15 PM PST

Any photographer who’s shot through a harsh winter can tell you: it ain’t fun. You have to choose between finger dexterity and frostbite, between constantly moving to keep warm and standing perfectly still to capture the shot. Photographer and videographer Mike Wilkinson spent two weeks in below-freezing conditions in northern Michigan recently, and he came back with a few basic tips for winter shoots:

Winter Photography Gear & Shooting Tips:

  •  Keep equipment in small padded bags to protect from snow and keep lenses in individual bags.
  • If the weather is calm enough, use Think Tank support straps to clip your camera onto the front end of your backpack.
  • Bring multiple gloves: fingerless gloves for shooting, and thicker ones for if you’re dealing with snow and ice.

Fingerless gloves are a photographer’s friend.

  • Keep extra batteries in your pockets, because cameras tend to freeze up in cold weather. Batteries also die quicker, so it’s better to keep a spare pair warm and available.
  • Audio is tricky. Use lav mics on your subjects, or, if you use a shotgun mic, block the wind with your body.
  • Keep your kit in your bag when you reenter a warm space. You gear will suffer condensation if you acclimate too quickly. Try opening the bag’s zipper in a drafty place to let it warm up slowly.

With the right gear, even the most treacherous conditions can make for a fun photo shoot.

Go to full article: Winter Tips for Outdoor Photography (Video)

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Interesting Photo of the Day: Twilight in Paris

Posted: 19 Feb 2014 12:01 PM PST

Paris is frequently lauded for being stunningly beautiful and romantic, possessing an almost magical quality. This photograph is certainly in keeping with that image, but is this an accurate depiction of what Paris is really like? A look at the Google Street View of a corner in the Montmartre neighborhood shows that this location is indeed picturesque, but the reality lacks the certain je ne sais quoi present in the photograph:

HDR imaging gives this photo an otherworldly beauty. (Via Imgur. Click for larger size.)

This is thanks to HDR, or high-dynamic-range imaging. With HDR, multiple exposures are combined to create one image with a larger range of luminosity and a greater wealth of detail. In many cases, looking at an HDR image may give one the feeling that they’re actually there, more so than looking at a traditional photograph, because of the heightened intensity of light and color.

HDR helped this photographer capture an enchanting Parisian moment. Many digital cameras now have an HDR function built in– try using it to enhance your own photography.

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10 Photoshop CC Tricks for Beginners (Video)

Posted: 19 Feb 2014 10:35 AM PST

With Photoshop Creative Cloud, Adobe has once again lessened the gap between pro and amateur digital editors. Shortcuts are enhanced, new tools combine the functions of old ones, and the overall layout is strongly integrated into the rest of Adobe’s suite. In this 46-minute video, they’ve enlisted tech blogger Terry White to give a comprehensive guide to help Photoshop beginners perform 10 of his most-requested digital enhancements:

The video is very comprehensive and easy to follow. White recommends users buy a Wacom tablet or stylus for a touchscreen monitor if they’re thinking seriously about digital editing–not just because it’s easier for precise editing,  but because you can apply different levels of pressure for more sensitivity, which you can’t do with a simple point-and-click mouse.

Most of his tutorial is useful not just for Photoshop CC users, but also users with older versions of Photoshop, too, although some of his tools and shortcuts won’t apply.


Basic Photoshop Tricks for Beginners

  1. Remove blemishes. Using the spot healing brush tool, you can blend the pixels surrounding imperfections into the imperfection itself, smoothing out discolouration like pimples and moles.
  2. Make layers. Rather than working on the background image, create layers to add filters and text on top of the image itself, so that you can reverse them if necessary.
  3. Create masks. Layer masks mean you can adjust images indirectly using the paintbrush tool in black or white to colour correct, brighten up or add contrast to any specific area of the photo.
  4. Crop your image. Photoshop CC introduces a new smoothness to cropping, wherein it’s easier for users to toggle between the automatic “original ratio” setting (which prevents distortion) and the various ratios underneath, like 1:1, 4:6, etc.
  5. Use the camera raw filter for exposure and coloring. Find the eye-drop tool to spot a natural color that’s around 18 percent grey, black, or white. This will automatically correct the rest of the image. You can then adjust the contrast, saturation and brightness individually until it looks right.
  6. Remove objects from images. Use the lasso or the quick selection brush tool to draw a rough outline around the object you want to remove. Once it’s selected, hit “delete” to use a content-aware fill. (If hitting delete doesn’t work, go to Edit > Fill > Content-Aware.)
  7. Move objects. Use Photoshop CC’s new tool called “content aware move” that combines both movement and content-aware fill in one stroke. You can also lift an image from the background into a new layer, and transform it to create a realistic duplicate.
  8. Put people on new backgrounds. Drag and resize your foreground image onto the new background image window in Photoshop. Use the quick select tool and hit “refine edge” to test your cutout. If it looks choppy, you can smooth it out with the “smart radius” option.
  9. Add text to your image. This is very similar to past Photoshop versions, in that you simply hit the text tool and type away. Photoshop CC has cloud cooperation with font warehouse Typekit whereby you can instantly browse and download any among thousands of specialty fonts.
  10. Save your file in different formats. Save in .psd to keep all your editable data, while the next most-common format is a low-size .jpg via “Save For Web,” which compresses your image to optimize loading times online.


None of these tutorials are very difficult, and they range from beginner to intermediate–meaning even if you know how to save a file for web, you may not know how to create a realistic shadow for an object on a new background. So even just a skim through the 46-minute video might produce some insight.

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