Monthly Archives: January 2017

Tips to Use a Speedlight

One of the best ways to improve your compositional skills and expand your portfolio is to experiment with new equipment whenever you get the chance. If you’ve never worked with a speedlight before, using this tool is a great way to improve the strength of your flash as well as how far said flash can reach. Compared to the units that are built into your device, speedlight flash typically offers a better range.

Not only that, since they aren’t technically a part of your camera itself, using a speedlight doesn’t kill any additional battery power- they run on a battery life of their own, so they’re great to use when you’re on the go. If you want to try adding this element of flash to your next series of shots, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Flexibility- something worth taking advantage of whenever you’re using an external flash unit is the added flexibility. Unlike build-in flash units that are restricted in the direction in which they can shine their light on your subject (directly to the front), speedlights are portable and can be placed wherever the angle of the flash looks best. Try experimenting with a few different placement adjustments to find the perfect spot to add a gentle glow to your subject.
  • Bounce Capability- One of the biggest issues photographers face when using flash is that the light looks way too harsh. Thanks to the flexibility we mentioned before, it’s much easier to avoid this issue when working with a speedlight. If you’ve never done it before, check out this tutorial to learn How to Bounce Your Flash. This technique is an excellent way to soften an otherwise harsh-looking light.
  • Daytime Use Many photographers shy away from using flash when the sun is up for fear of creating an overwhelmingly harsh look, but this might be a mistake. Speedlights are great to use outdoors during the day to add some fill light, especially when taking shots like silhouettes where you need to fill in certain darker spots.

5 Sunset Photography Tips

Want to work on your sunset photography as the weather warms up? Check out these 6 tricks to make sure you always capture the best shot:

  1. Consider Timing-This is probably the most common mistake made by amateur sunset photographers. Don’t leave too early! Too many people pack up their gear and head home immediately after the sun dips below the horizon. Unfortunately, those people are missing out on the period of time (usually about 20 minutes later) when the sky lights up again with a stunning, colorful glow (some say it’s almost like a second sunset)!
  2. Don’t Overexpose-If you slightly underexpose a sunset shot, you’re more likely to bring out those rich, striking colors with better definition. By selecting a fast shutter speed and working in manual mode, you can better achieve this look.
  3. Make a Silhouette-Too many photographers make the mistake of composing sunset shots with the horizon line smack dab in the middle of the shot, every single time. Stop doing this! For a more compelling and colorful shot, put the horizon in the bottom or top third of your image instead.
  4. Avoid Filters-Too many amateurs make the mistake of using polarizing filters for their sunset photography. The truth is, they don’t help deepen the hues at all.
  5. Use an App-In order to make sure you’re not rushing to catch the sunset in time (and therefore rushing your setting selections and compositional process), try using an app that can tell you the best time to head out. This NYIP graduate actually developed and launched an app that can tell you the best time to take sunset shots based on your GPS coordinates.

5 Essential Tips to Elevate Your Drone Photography

Just out of reach of the longest selfie stick and the lowest hovering helicopter, drones can capture what no other technology is typically allowed or capable of capturing. That’s particularly liberating in a world where 350 million photographs are uploaded to Facebook daily.

1. Fly Prepared

Find a location worthy of your drone’s battery life. Start from a place of inspiration – for example, follow aerial photographers on Instagram (I have a pretty good drone photography feed if I do say so myself). Then, make a list of nearby locations and regional points of intrigue. Utilize tools such as Google Maps to examine the feasibility of each of your ideas. If you were to go there, think about what the backdrop of your image might be and how the light would interact with your subject at different times of the day.

2. Light Your Way

Endeavor to fly when the light is most tantalizing. Golden hour refers to the soft yellow-tinted light that fills the skies as the sun begins and ends its journey across the horizon. Blue hour is another special stage in the day when vibrant blue hues take over the sky before sunrise in the morning and after sunrise in the evening. Light is a crucial ingredient to every photograph and these special times of day offer visual opportunities for artists both on the ground and in the air.

3. Composition with Intention

Lines, patterns and geometry are some of the most potent compositional elements in this new, high-flying medium. Lines have incredible implications for the compositionally aware as they have the power to direct the human eye from the foreground to the background of your photograph. Patterns are of paramount importance in drone photography as height allow pilots to discover visual rhythms that can easily go unseen from the ground. Lastly, geometry is a pillar of thoughtful framing because shapes, particularly ones that interact with one another, keep our eyes moving throughout the frame.

4. Effective Perspective

Obviously, the main compositional advantage that you control with your UAV is perspective. As a result, seek out visual drama that a different angle can bring to life. Remember that the best photographs aren’t necessarily taken at maximum flight altitude. Usually, the drone photography sweet spot exists just a few feet above your head. At about 10-100 feet high, you can create clean but nuanced imagery with foregrounds, middle grounds and backgrounds capable of guiding your viewer through a unique visual experience. It’s also at this height where you can best capture the unseen.

5. Charged Up

Snag multiple drone batteries for the best photographic experience. With one battery, you can explore the entirety of your environment and envision a shot list of notable perspectives, compositions and frames. Sometimes, you can also venture to distant scenes that show visual promise and begin to discover the unexpected. Then, you can devote your entire second battery to executing your shot list to perfection. If you aim to capture moving imagery as well, snag a third battery in which you can fully devote your efforts to captivating cinematography.

3 Golden Hour Photography Tips

If you’re a photography enthusiast, we’re almost positive you’ve heard of the infamous golden hour. A compositionally magical time of day, this key block of time is best known for offering artists some of the most flattering possible natural light to work with in developing stunning shots. For those who want to make the most of Mother Nature’s golden hour opportunity, here are some of the best ways to take advantage:

  1. Time it Right- When should you be ready to shoot? According to experts, the golden hours happen during the first hour right before the sun rises and during the last hour of light right before it sets. At these precise times, the sun is closer to your subject because it’s going through more of earth’s atmosphere. Because of this key positioning, it will shed a stunning, soft, diffused light on your shot. Predicting these exact times can be tricky, especially depending on where you’re located. Lucky for you, this NYIP grad developed a Smartphone app for photographers that will do the calculating for you.
  2. Perfect your Lighting- Depending on the look you’re trying to achieve, there are different ways you should adjust accordingly to take advantage of the golden hour glow. If the subject you’re shooting is facing the sun head-on, golden hour lighting will give your shot a naturally warm feel (that you can further enhance if you’d like via post-processing). To backlight your images, the sun will be behind your subject instead. If this is the case, your most important adjustment should be to your exposure, to make sure you’re capturing the correct tones of your subject.
  3. Get creative- If you want to create a halo look around your subject, either place the sun behind your subject or make sure the background is dark. It can also be helpful to try a lower camera angle if you’re looking to achieve this.