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Light

Lighting and shooting environmental portraits

Location, location, location! That’s the key to getting a successful environmental portrait, where you use the surroundings and props to give visual clues to what a person is like, or what they do. Nikon D3X | 29mm lens | ISO 100 | ƒ/14 | 1/200 sec More often than not, this means you’ll be in […]

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Taking photos in tropical light

Low latitudes, around the equator and into the tropics, take the sun even higher in the middle of the day, which means that if you insist on going for traditionally ‘pretty’ each time you shoot, your working hours are going to be quite limited. It’s best to find ways of accommodating this high and harsh […]

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How to measure light

Light must be measured before it can be used creatively, and over time you will learn to ‘read’ the light before ever bringing the camera to your eye. You can build this expertise in a practical way by making use of a light meter—a tool for numerically quantifying the intensity of light re􏰍flecting off or […]

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How to create beautiful bokeh

Bokeh is a term derived from the Japanese word for ‘blur’ or ‘haze,’ which refers specifically to the nature of the out-of-focus areas in an image, particularly out-of-focus point-light sources. 500mm mirror lens | 1/100 second | ƒ/8 | ISO 400 It is increasingly common to hear photographers discussing bokeh, often describing it as ‘good’ […]

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Getting a handle on spot metering

All digital cameras contain reflected-light, TTL-type meters that use at least one of three different types of metering ‘modes’ in order to calculate exposure, either from the entire scene, or from some specific part of it. Spot metering is excellent for dramatically capturing spotlit subjects, ensuring only the brightest area is properly exposed and letting […]

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How to photograph a dark subject against a light background

All in-camera and handheld meters are designed to operate on the premise that everything that you’re metering produces an average amount of reflectance or, in photographic terms, about 18-percent reflectance. This is an extremely challenging exposure scenario—with a jet-black subject in shadowed foreground in front of an area receiving direct midday sun. Just enough shadow […]

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Flash and full-length portraits

Taking pictures of the full length of a person’s body can be more problematic than it sounds. If they’re stood by a window then the chances are that their face will be lit better than their thighs, and certainly better than their feet. If you move them away from the window the light starts to […]

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Controlling lens flare

Flare is an artefact, in that it is non-image forming light. It also takes more forms than many people realise, from lines of polygons to halation. Mountain Air: In this shot of Iceberg Lake in Glacier National Park, Montana, there is a very distinct and deliberate use of flare. The polygon stripe adds a useful […]

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Making the most of minimalist compositions

Some people say that photography is based on the art of subtraction; the careful selection and arrangement of elements in a scene so the viewer can concentrate on the message the photographer wishes to communicate. If this is really the case, then minimalism is photography in its purest form. If you can crack the minimalist […]

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When and how to use custom white balance settings

The ability for cameras to automatically set white balance according to the prevailing conditions is extremely useful, but it does have a down-side, too. Auto white balance sets your camera in relentless pursuit of totally neutral colours. Occasionally, you will need to know how to set a custom white balance. Here, the white balance was […]

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With light, comes shadow

I can think of no more important topic to discuss when it comes to photography than light. Without it, there would be no photography. With light, comes shadow To get the exposure you need, you need the right amount of light, this is true, but that is only the beginning. Light defines everything in our […]

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Umbrellas: a universal lighting solution

When it comes to ease of use, lightness and portability, soft but adjustable quality of light, and great value for money, nothing comes close to the humble photographic umbrella. Softboxes and beauty dishes may seem more modern and certainly offer a more controllable output, but they’re not as versatile and—crucially—nowhere near as cheap to replace […]

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