5 Tips For Shooting Winter Landscapes

Winter brings out the toughest elements in our climate, with many people putting away their camera bags ‘till early spring. But, if you do put away your camera you are missing out on the raw beauty that this magical season brings.

Here are a few tips to make the trip more enjoyable.

  1. Wear the right clothes: It’s very important to wrap up warm when out shooting winter images. The winter season brings the toughest elements, so if you are planning to spend a few days out and about always be well prepared.
  2. Watch the weather: It’s very important to know what the weather is going to be like. You don’t want to travel for a couple of hours and then hear a weather report that tells you that: the weather is wet for the next few days. During the winter months the weather can dramatically change in a matter of hours.

It’s always advisable to let someone know where you are going and which route you’re planning to take. If you do get injured or ever caught in a storm someone may be able to help.

  1. Carry only what you need: Carry only the essentials. You don’t need to upload your camera bag with every piece of equipment you own. If you are going to be out taking pictures all day you are much better off going as light as possible. Carrying a light load will also help preserve energy. You could be climbing icy rocks or crossing snow filled hills; a warm flask would serve you a lot better than a third camera.
  2. Look for detail: Snow, ice and frost bring out texture and atmosphere in most subjects. The early frosty morning is an ideal time for close-up photography. The frosty morning also brings out patterns in our landscapes.

Take care where you place your camera: if you are taking pictures early in the morning try placing it at oblique angles to the sun – this will give your images strong shadows. This will also add mood to your landscape images. Once you have found the perfect spot pay extra attention to foreground interest as this will add depth to your image.

  1. Expose carefully: Snow and ice are extremely difficult to expose properly. Snow usually confuses your cameras metering system or your hand held light meter. When you take a light reading from snow you will automatically get an underexposed image. The meter will record the snow as grey.

Now is the time to start bracketing your shots. If you bracket your shots add 1 – 2 stops of light to compensate for your light meter reading. Using an 18% grey card, which I described in a previous article, should also give you a perfect light reading.

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8 Tips For Better Digital Photos

Whether you consider yourself an amateur photographer, or you just want to create better family photos, there are many things you can do to get better photos. Here are some easy tips to use the next time you head out with your digital camera.

Even a beginner can take professional-looking photos – suitable for framing.

Be Prepared

Keep all your photography equipment ready for use. Collect everything you’ll need into one place. A camera bag is ideal, because it keeps all your stuff together and lets you carry it all with you. Everything in its place. A good camera bag will let you organize a miniature tripod, extra battereis, memory cards, etc. – even a plastic bag or waterproof housing to protect your camera in wet weather.

Hold your Camera Steady

Blurry photos are almost always the result of camera movement. Just your own unsteadiness, causes your camera to shake enough to blur your pictures.

So steady yourself and your camera before you take the shot.

Plant your feet firmly on the ground and tuck your elbows in close to your sides. Instead of using the LCD viewer, steady your camera against your forehead and frame the shot using your camera’s viewfinder. You can also steady your upper body by leaning against a wall or a tree. Or totally eliminate any camera movement by using a tripod.

Once you’re all set, gently press the shutter release in one motion. Pressing the shutter release too hard could jerk the camera downward.

Get Closer

One difference in “snapshots” and really great photos is the composition of the shot. Unless you’re shooting an outdoor landscape, you can improve most photos just by getting closer to your subject. Depending on the situation, you can physically move closer to your subject, or use the zoom feature on your camera for the same effect. Try to get within a few feet of your subject so you eliminate most of the background. You’ll like the results.

Take more Pictures

Even professionals take loads of shots of the same subject – to get just a few that they will use. With a digital camera, you can delete the images you don’t like, and only print the winners – so don’t hesitate to take several shots of the same subject. Change the angle of the shot. Get a little closer. Adjust the lighting.

Why not fill the entire memory card with pictures of your kid at the pool, or your daughter in her cap and gown? The more pictures you take, the better the odds that you’ll get a few shots that will really thrill you.

Vary the Lighting

Using natural light will give better skin tones when photographing people, so try not to use the flash if you don’t have to. Outdoor daylight shots are easy, but you’ll have to be a little more creative when shooting indoors. Try using the light coming in from a window for warmer tones than you would get using the flash.

Experiment with natural lighting. You can get stronger shadows by moving your subject closer to a window, and turning your subject can create more dramatic shadows.

Eliminate Red-Eye

Red-eye is the result of light passing through your subject’s eye and reflecting back. You’ll get it more often when using your flash, just because the light from the flash isn’t as diffused as natural light. So the first tip for eliminating red-eye is simply to avoid using your flash when you don’t absolutely have to.

Another way to reduce red-eye is to have your subject look anywhere but at the camera. This reduces red-eye because any reflection isn’t directed back at your camera lens.

If you have to use the flash, some digital cameras have a built-in feature to automatically remove red-eye. Use it.

Go for Candid

Instead of posing two (or more) people looking directly at the camera, get a shot of them interacting with one another. Even two people having a conversation is more interesting than having them stand next to each other facing the camera. Some of the best professional portraits have the subject captured deep in thought, with their attention focused inward, rather than on the camera lens.

It makes a more interesting shot. Your portrait will look more natural – less posed.

Create a Scene

Putting your subject in the center of a photo is just boring. You’ll get a much more pleasing result if you place your subject off center when you frame the shot.

This is a truly professional technique. Place your subject so that they occupy 1/3 to 1/2 of the total composition, but NOT at the exact center of the frame. Capture an interesting background object in the rest of the frame.

Anybody can practice these techniques. They’re easy and you’ll get better, more professional photos.

A Brief History Of Photography

For centuries images have been projected onto surfaces. The camera obscura and the camera lucida were used by artists to trace scenes as early as the 16th century. These early cameras did not fix an image in time; they only projected what passed through an opening in the wall of a darkened room onto a surface. In effect, the entire room was turned into a large pinhole camera. Indeed, the phrase camera obscura literally means “darkened room,” and it is after these darkened rooms that all modern cameras have been named.

The first photograph is considered to be an image produced in 1826 by the French inventor Nicéphore Niépce on a polished pewter plate covered with a petroleum derivative called bitumen of Judea. It was produced with a camera, and required an eight hour exposure in bright sunshine. However this process turned out to be a dead end and Niépce began experimenting with silver compounds based on a Johann Heinrich Schultz discovery in 1724 that a silver and chalk mixture darkens when exposed to light.

Niépce, in Chalon-sur-Saône, and the artist Louis Daguerre, in Paris, refined the existing silver process in a partnership. In 1833 Niépce died of a stroke, leaving his notes to Daguerre. While he had no scientific background, Daguerre made two pivotal contributions to the process.

He discovered that by exposing the silver first to iodine vapour, before exposure to light, and then to mercury fumes after the photograph was taken, a latent image could be formed and made visible. By then bathing the plate in a salt bath the image could be fixed.

In 1839 Daguerre announced that he had invented a process using silver on a copper plate called the Daguerreotype. A similar process is still used today for Polaroids. The French government bought the patent and immediately made it public domain.

Across the English Channel, William Fox Talbot had earlier discovered another means to fix a silver process image but had kept it secret. After reading about Daguerre’s invention Talbot refined his process, so that it might be fast enough to take photographs of people as Daguerre had done and by 1840 he had invented the calotype process.

He coated paper sheets with silver chloride to create an intermediate negative image. Unlike a daguerreotype a calotype negative could be used to reproduce positive prints, like most chemical films do today. Talbot patented this process which greatly limited its adoption.

He spent the rest of his life in lawsuits defending the patent until he gave up on photography altogether. But later this process was refined by George Eastman and is today the basic technology used by chemical film cameras. Hippolyte Bayard also developed a method of photography but delayed announcing it, and so was not recognized as its inventor.

In the darkroomIn 1851 Frederick Scott Archer invented the collodion process. It was the process used by Lewis Carroll.

Slovene Janez Puhar invented the technical procedure for making photographs on glass in 1841. The invention was recognized on July 17th 1852 in Paris by the Académie Nationale Agricole, Manufacturière et Commerciale.

The Daguerreotype proved popular in responding to the demand for portraiture emerging from the middle classes during the Industrial Revolution. This demand, that could not be met in volume and in cost by oil painting, may well have been the push for the development of photography.

However daguerreotypes, while beautiful, were fragile and difficult to copy. A single photograph taken in a portrait studio could cost US$1000 in 2006 dollars. Photographers also encouraged chemists to refine the process of making many copies cheaply, which eventually led them back to Talbot’s process. Ultimately, the modern photographic process came about from a series of refinements and improvements in the first 20 years.

In 1884 George Eastman, of Rochester, New York, developed dry gel on paper, or film, to replace the photographic plate so that a photographer no longer needed to carry boxes of plates and toxic chemicals around. In July of 1888 Eastman’s Kodak camera went on the market with the slogan “You press the button, we do the rest”. Now anyone could take a photograph and leave the complex parts of the process to others. Photography became available for the mass-market in 1901 with the introduction of Kodak Brownie.

Since then color film has become standard, as well as automatic focus and automatic exposure. Digital recording of images is becoming increasingly common, as digital cameras allow instant previews on LCD screens and the resolution of top of the range models has exceeded high quality 35mm film while lower resolution models have become affordable. For the enthusiast photographer processing black and white film, little has changed since the introduction of the 35mm film Leica camera in 1925.