Editing Photos on iPhone and Android with ParkerArrow Lightroom Presets

Editing Photos on iPhone and Android with ParkerArrow Lightroom Presets

The scope and ability for easily editing photos on iPhone and Android have come a long way. You no longer need to have a full on desktop computer setup to get that amazing look you’re chasing after. In my opinion, the iPhone photo editor, and yes, I’m leaning a little more towards iPhone here for now, but hear me out. The best iPhone photo editor right now has to be Lightroom CC.

You’ve no doubt seen how many Instagrammers have exploded in popularity over the very recent couple of years. This has become something that has caught a lot of people off guard, and some, who were aware enough to see the opportunity, have clearly ridden the wave. But how do they get those amazing shots? I mean, surely the light isn’t always absolutely perfect for them, is it?

You and I both know that it’s not. In a similar way to how you can modify the white balance presets on a range of cameras, Lightroom CC offers this level of flexibility for you to get the final shot you want. It has never been so easy to edit photos on iPhone as it is now, and the smartphone photography industry is booming!

Editing Photos on iPhone and Android with ParkerArrow Lightroom Presets - www.darkphotography.org

For the Android audience, the great news is that you can also take advantage of these Lightroom presets for editing photos on Note 8 or any other compatible device. In fact, Lightroom is the best Android photo editor out there. Consider the strength and experience of the team behind the Lightroom CC project when compared to other apps for editing photos on Android.

The Lightroom CC team has clearly made this a robust platform for editing photos on iPhone and Android. So much so that other developers have the capacity to build on it through the creation of their own custom presets. These Lightroom presets are able to integrate without issue into the main system, and you can use them to get that look that you are chasing without as much of the fuss and expense as you might otherwise have.

Choosing just any old presets off a random website will get you a collection of options that you can apply easily, but often they are not as polished as they could be. I’ve been working with the Lightroom presets for smartphone photography by ParkerArrow and been able to achieve some mind-blowing results.

Tips for editing photos on iPhone and Android

The first thing you need to do is to import the image you want to edit on your iPhone or Android into Lightroom and open it up. Once this has been imported, you will see a series of options or tools for you to edit the image on the bottom of your screen.

The first option I usually apply on any photo I’m editing, whether I’m using Lightroom on my smartphone or the PC version of the software is the Preset Setting which gives me a starting point to determine the mood I want to convey for the photograph.

When working with portraits, I tend to like the feel of a faded, sometimes moody feel. You can get these with a range of different presets, but I’ve found that the Lightroom mobile app preset California Mobile Pack with California 07, as shown below, by ParkerArrow gives me a good basis.

Editing Photos on iPhone and Android with ParkerArrow Lightroom Presets - www.darkphotography.org
The thing to keep in mind is that you don’t want to use the exact same settings for every picture, but in this case, the kind of edit I’ll describe gets a specific look that I find works well on portraits. There are a lot of different Lightroom presets for smartphones that you can get through ParkerArrow.

What I would do after selecting this preset is to turn on ‘Lens Correction’ and adjust as needed. After that, I use the  ‘Detail’ tool to sharpen the image. Then I adjust the following effects settings using the slider to get the look and feel that I want:

  • Clarity
  • Dehaze
  • Vignette

The key thing to keep in mind with this is that you don’t want to overdo things here as these settings can easily ruin your image. These settings can make a big difference to the feel of the image with dramatic effect differences applied when compared to the original.

Next, I like to work with Split Toning. I believe that this is a very important part of editing photos on iPhone or Android. Split Tone is essentially adding different colors to the highlights and the shadows of the image. This can help provide an impactful look that really causes your photo to pop. But, be careful not to go too heavy with this.

Once I’m done with the split toning of the image I adjust the temperature of the image through the color palette. Using different colors you are able to change how warm or cool the image looks. This does a lot to help convey a certain type of emotion in the image. Adjusting the vibrancy a little can help with this stage in the editing for specific effect also.

Changing the ‘Light’ settings allows me to be able to adjust pretty much every aspect of the image when editing photos on Android or iPhone. You can change the exposure, contrast, highlights, and shadows here to smooth out the picture. Remember to use these in moderation to maintain the integrity of the image you are editing with your chosen Lightroom presets.

The next step I take is to adjust the curves to change the highlights and shadows, and the RGB to adjust the Red, Ble, and Green respectively. This is done in a graphical manner with the curves tool. Once all of this is done, it is time for the last stage of editing, which is the cropping and rotating.

Cropping and rotating an image is often overlooked by many when editing photos on iPhone or Android. If you want to find that viral look, you need to check out what is curently getting the likes and shares online, and apply that into your photos. I find that the 4 x 5 crop works very nicely for Instagram. Make sure that you adjust your photo accordingly before you save it. When saving, select the highest quality possible, and save the image to your device.

Using your creative flare when editing photos on iPhone or Android are just as important as applying suitable techniques, as this is what is going to result in you developing your own style. Download the Lightroom presets for smartphone photography from ParkerArrow, and have fun exploring and developing your style.

5 Tips From Annabel Law; The Top Wedding Photographer in Singapore

5 Tips From Annabel Law; The Top Wedding Photographer in Singapore

Have you found that you are struggling for wedding photograph ideas that are unique? You’re not alone if you answered ‘yes’ to that, in fact, in my experience, it is normally the Bride who is the most apprehensive about her wedding photos, and what they will look like. This is why we have a few tips on the topic from a woman who I believe is the top wedding photographer in Singapore.

Annabel Law has worked with hundreds of people on countless photo shoots in her time, thus, earning herself the reputation of being the best wedding photographer Singapore has to offer. As a result of her hard work in the industry, Annabel has become a highly sought-after photographer, along with the select few that she chooses to work with out of her Lor Chuan studio in Singapore.

Given that Dark Photography tends to focus on nighttime photography, and all of the amazing things that can be done with an image when you can play with light trails and delayed exposures, we found that the following tips from Annabel were refreshing when applied to wedding photographs. We’ve chosen to call these tips from the top wedding photographer in Singapore ‘Annabel’s Laws’ as they really are based on the fundamentals of creative wedding photography.

Annabel’s Law #1 – Angles

When it comes to creativity, night wedding photography isn’t going to give you the same results as wedding photographs taken during the day. You’re going to need to think about different angles and how these will play a part in the composition of the image with the type of light you are working with. Try at least several different angles to find the one that works best for the situation and the couple at the time.

If you are able to use the surrounding landscape to help frame the couple and draw attention to them, then use the elements in this level of light to your advantage. Trees can catch the ambient light from a strategically positioned spotlight in such a way that the image can almost look like it belongs somewhere in a fairytale.

I love how this type of photography allows me to draw the attention away from all of the background goings-on and put the focus on the subject, in this case, the happy couple. Setting up from a slightly lower vantage point than normal, you’ll be able to use the darker expanse above the subject to emphasize the prominence of the couple in the photograph. Get this balance right and you’ll be looking at a photo that just wants to pop right off the page!

Annabel’s Law #2 – Silhouettes

Another thing to consider with your wedding photography at night is using the light that you have in the background to create a silhouette.

The story that can be told through a silhouette is one that speaks of mystery and untold secrets. This type of photograph in a wedding album almost echoes the bond between the newly wedded couple and hints at the romantic little secrets they share together.

When used to add contrast to the dozens of photos that will no doubt grace the pages of the wedding album, or the walls of the newly married couple, a good wedding photographer understands the value that such images can provide.

It is through their ability to break the monotony of smiling face after smiling face in what can soon become a collection of same-same images in a photo album. A silhouette shot speaks of intimacy and romance that is exclusively for the couple in the photo, and it does a lot to tell the story.

Annabel’s Law #3 – Lighting Props

The best wedding photographer Singapore can provide suggests that by using impromptu lighting props, such as sparklers and fairy lights, you can bring a lot of fun into the scene.

After all, it is how the moment is captured and the story that is told which really matters. Take a look at the next few shots to see how Annabel Law uses these playful methods in her photo shoots.

The light trails that can be captured in a delayed exposure can add a Disney-like feel to your photos. Think of Cinderella’s dress appeared by magic under a blanket of falling sparkles; wouldn’t that make for the ultimate fairytale wedding photo!

Annabel’s Law #4 – Soft Light Images

To create an amazing effect in low light, the top wedding photographer in Singapore suggests using a mixture of soft lighting sources which are scattered in such a way to present a softer series of tones.

Have a look at the image below and consider the depth of field as used in conjunction with the lighting sources. This type of approach is something that can seriously turn heads when it is applied effectively in a photo.

Annabel’s Law #5 – Connectivity

Annabel creatively uses subtle elements of connectivity between her photos to keep the viewer connected to the story. Think of this like the script to a movie; there needs to be a flow in the dialogue for the audience to follow the story.

With images, there is a need to have elements from the previous photo echoed in the next photo to keep it connected. This is a great technique to bring it all together.

However, you don’t want to overuse this technique. It should be something that the viewer has to really look for to consciously notice. If they are flicking through the photos, you want them to feel like they are on the ride with you.

This is something that Annabel Law, the top wedding photographer in Singapore, uses with care. See if you can identify the elements that flow from one photo to the next in the images below.

Making Your Light Bigger

Making Your Light Bigger

If you want to make your photography light source larger, but don’t want to diffuse it with a softbox or scrim, you could bounce it off a wall, a reflector or fire it into an umbrella. Give this a try and see how the light source has gotten larger. I appreciate that most of you probably don’t have studio lights, and may never get them, but it is still important to know how to modify and shape light.

With digital photography, it is pretty easy to control the color casts on your final photo, so those work lights you can buy at any home repair type store work very well.

These will all work as beginner replacements for studio lights. They will need some post-processing to remove color casts, but it’s a low-cost way to get started. Caution is needed though, these are hot lights! Be careful about any sort of modification devices catching fire. There usually isn’t a problem, but never leave them unattended while they are turned on.

If you are after some inexpensive photography hacks subscribe to Dark Photography. I’ll show you how to make a soft lighting setup that you can use in your home to create some pretty stunning photos.

Flags, Dots, and Fingers

You will soon be able to manipulate your photography light source and create photos with your homemade $10 lights that will rival the best studio portraits. And you will be able to use them as hard or soft lights. Another way to shape light is by using flags, dots or fingers.

Flags are like taking one of the flaps in a barn door and just using that to block the light. They come in all shapes, colors, and sizes. Generally, larger ones are called flags, if the flag is smaller and narrower in shape – it’s generally called a finger. If it is round, we call it a dot. In reality, they are all different sizes and shapes of the same thing; a way to block light from hitting some part of, or your entire subject.

Above are samples of a finger and a dot, a flag is the same thing, just larger. We don’t usually think of permanent, stationary objects as flags, but a tree trunk or an overhanging leaf-covered branch that blocks light from hitting your model would be the same concept.

What if we don’t want to completely block the light, but instead want to cast a specific shadow on our scene?

Imagine taking one of the above flags and cutting out a pattern. For example, cut away all but a big ‘T’ and when the light shines through it, it will cast a shadow that resembles the shadow cast by the panes in a window frame. Or you could cut out a pattern of leaves and have that pattern striking your backdrop to add to the complexity of your photography light source.

Hard Light

Hard Light

What is hard light?

We define a hard light as one that is small in relation to the subject, generally un-diffused and it creates hard-edged, dark shadows. What we are looking at here with hard light is the light quality and finding a suitable balance that provides the light quality we are after.

Our key light is the light that we are using as our main light source. It is the brightest light hitting your subject. Now let’s spend a minute or two discussing the light quality being emitted by our key light.

Is it “hard” light? Or is it “soft” light?

The sun is a hard light. It is unfiltered and un-diffused (unless it’s a cloudy day). Plus, it’s relatively intense and small in relation to our subject.

When a hard light hits a subject, intense highlights and sharp black shadows are created.  The gradation, or fall-off, of light from highlight to shadow, is sharp and very abrupt.

When you see an actor on stage being lit by a spotlight, it is emulating the sun in that it is a very hard, directional light. When you think of hard light, think of it like a spotlight hitting your subject.

This creates strong modeling of shapes and dramatically emphasizes outlines and forms. It is also useful to create mood. Imagine an athlete after a big game where he or she lost. Now imagine him, or her, sitting in the locker room. They are dejected – beaten. In your imaginary image was the locker room brightly lit? Or was it dark and brooding? You can convey a great deal of emotion with your lighting choices.

Classic Hard Light Use Cases

hard lightHow about those old film noir movies where they show a “has been – but never really was” boxer – it’s after the fight and they are in the locker room tending to their injuries. The scene almost always shows them alone or with their one and only supporter.

Imagine that scene. You can see every drop of sweat, the ragged edges of the cut above the grossly swollen eye. It’s all in stark relief. The room is dark or very dimly lit. It’s all done by using a hard light source and few if any fill lights. They are attempting to show you the fighter’s “bottom of the barrel” type existence. In fact, the whole film noir industry was built on hard light and shadows.

hard light

By the way, there are BIG BUCKS available to photographers who can duplicate the film noir (hard light) look in portraits!

This involves hairstyle and make-up too. Not just the light and shadows. The portrait of Gene Tierney, the 1940’s Hollywood Starlet, shows a butterfly lighting pattern.

Can you see why it is called that? Butterfly lighting is called butterfly lighting as a result of the shadow cast under the nose. Can you see the butterfly-shaped shadow now? You get this by putting the primary light source directly behind, and above the camera.

To make this a little easier to understand, you, as the photographer will be positioned below the light source in order to achieve this pattern. You will have seen this used extensively in glamour shots as it is a great way to create a shadow under the chin and cheeks. A  little sneaky tip, this is a more flattering type of light to use for subjects who have a few more years on the clock as it places less emphasis on wrinkles when compared to side lighting.

13 Bad Photography Habits That Can Ruin Your Photos

13 Bad Photography Habits That Can Ruin Your Photos

Do this simple test below. See if you have developed some of these bad photography habits. They are easy to pick up, but hard to shake off! For each bad habit, give yourself a test score. Finally, resolve to drop at least one of these habits this year.

01 Leave the Camera at Home

The best camera is the one you have with you – even if it’s on your smartphone. Not every photo you take is photography competition material, or is of commercial value. Regardless, a huge megapixel count and optimum lens quality on a DSLR is useless if left at home. You can see why tis is right up the top of the list of bad photography habits, right?

02 Rely on a Single Memory Card

Those little storage cards are hugely expensive, but the temptation to be frugal will bite you on the bum. Murphy’s Law states that your memory card will fill up precisely when you’re shooting that ‘money shot’; when the light is right; or when the entire group is all smiling at you. The remedy? Buy more memory cards.

03 Don’t Back Up Your Photos

I know a friend who fills up a memory card with images, then buys another, fill that up, then buys another – a dangerous habit! He recently confessed he’s lost some of his precious photos. Personally, I have experienced the pain of having a hard drive fail, losing more than a year’s commercial photography work. To be super-secure, you really should store your photographs in three different locations.

04 Chimp

Constantly checking your images on the LCD display is called chimping, and it’s a really bad photography habit. To be fair, there’s nothing wrong with it, per se, except if you’re into street photography, or at a wedding or party. You may miss that definitive moment, as you’re too engrossed in the perfectionistic tendency of chimping.

05 Shoot From Eye Level

Amateur shutterbugs tend to hold the camera at head-height. However, this will produce predictable results. When shooting in a location, learn to ‘work the scene’. Drop to your knees, or even lie on the ground, searching for fresh angles. An aerial perspective can be stunning. Remember that the best tool of composition is your feet.

06 Fail to Consider the Background

Look for a simple background behind your subject. For example, avoid having a telephone pole (in the distance) that appears to protrude from a person’s head. If you have a long lens, you can employ a narrow depth-of-field to blur the background. This will isolate your subject from the clutter beyond, achieving a degree of separation.

07 Center the Subject

Ignore the rules of composition at your peril. This bad photography habit is practiced all too often. If you want your photos to stand out, learn and use the Rule of Thirds, rather than place your focal point bang in the middle, like most folks do, (in blissful ignorance). Or, add dynamic by tilting your camera at an angle. Don’t forget to try different types of framing: portrait orientation versus landscape orientation. Or even a really wide panoramic crop.

08 Shoot Only in Bright Daylight

Confession time… I am guilty of this. Because I trained back in the bad old days of film, when strong light was necessary to capture good images, I became a fair-weather photographer. Also, I used compact digital cameras for a decade, which were hopeless in low light situations. So I was infatuated with clear, blue skies, as cloudy skies often washed out into a white haze.

However, under a harsh, midday sun, shadows are short and therefore objects do not look three-dimensional, lacking form. Human subjects may squint into the sun, or blink. Worse, they may have an ugly ‘sun-dial’ effect under their noses! Better to pose people in the shade.

Landscapers should learn to work with softer, diffused light – this is mandatory for waterfall scenes. Thunderclouds overhead will introduce a sense of foreboding that blue skies cannot. Golden hour lighting will exude warmer tones and longer shadows.

09 Don’t Read the Camera Manual

Same old story: you buy a new camera, put the box away and the camera’s manual stays inside the plastic bag. Perhaps you were too eager to use your new gadget. Well, now it’s time to dig out the manual and attack it with a highlighter pen. Not so much a bad photography, as a really obvious rookie mistake I guess, but still, it is often the source of lost opportunities in photography.

Be methodical, and diligently work through each function of your camera. You may find features you didn’t know existed!

10 Shoot on Auto

If you haven’t read the camera manual, your photos may suffer from the restrictions of shooting in Automatic mode. Modern cameras are amazing, and can produce great results on Auto, but not consistently. Better to take control yourself. Learn the semi-automatic shooting modes, such as Shutter or Aperture Priority. Then, if you are brave, try shooting on Manual.

11 Think that Post-Processing Can Fix Everything

This is a lazy habit to fall into. It’s much better to get a shot right in-camera, including the correct exposure, as blown-out highlights cannot be retrieved later. Another consideration is ensuring that the horizon is straight, or you will lose the edges of your image when rotating then cropping it on a computer. Use the 3 x 3 grid on your LCD display, or a spirit level fitted on the hot shoe.

If you shoot landscapes, buy some ND and ND Grad filters. The most useful filter is the Polariser, the effects of which cannot be replicated using software. Finally, it’s better to do a bit of gardening, removing distractions from a scene, than be forced to clone them out in Photoshop – tedious work!

12 Shoot Only JPEGs

JPEG files are compressed. Unfortunately, this narrows the dynamic range of your photographs, and changes the colour, according to the camera’s presets. This can’t be undone. Shoot using the RAW file format, as this is more forgiving. RAW allows you the latitude to correct exposure and colour, as well as sharpen the image, on computer software. Think of RAW files as digital negatives, that need processing and fine tuning.

13 Post Too Many Photos

We all take poor pictures, badly exposed or blurry… but there’s no need to inflict these on the unsuspecting public! Carefully select only your best images, then process these on the computer.

Also, display a variety of images on social media, or online galleries, but limit these to 3–5. Essentially, don’t submit minor variations of the same shot.

So, what’s your score? How many bad habits can you identify with? Tick these habits and tally up your total.

SCORING

1–3 habits: Wow! You are disciplined, and must have done a few photography courses.

4–6 habits: Not bad. But there is room for improvement.

7–9 habits: Don’t despair; there’s still hope for you.

10–13 habits: You need professional help!

Light Angles Matter

Light Angles Matter

Light angles can make a big difference to your photography. Using a side-glancing light to accent an item with shadows can soften and balance out your image. Hard light is great for that.

Dark Photography - Starry Night and Aurora Photography - Light Angles MatterWhat about the face of a young girl wanting to be a model? How would you light her face? A glancing, hard light is going to show every blemish and line in her face. Do you think that she would want that type of photograph in her portfolio? Probably not!

By the way, she doesn’t have to be a model. Any woman is not going to like a photo that shows all her acne scars, and other bumps and bulges in her face. Boys and men generally care less than women, but they won’t like seeing every mark and blemish either.

Many model photographers use a hard light source – an on-camera flash – but they use a “ring flash” to fill in all the wrinkles and shadows from blemishes.

When considering light angles and the effects, there are several drawbacks to using a ring flash. First, there are problems with red-eyes. Second, it creates really odd looking round catch lights in the eyes. And third, since it eliminates shadows, you end up with a flat, 2D image. I recommend against using a ring flash for portrait work. If you need or want a hard light source, use one but put it at an angle to your subject. Then fill in the shadows as needed.

Want to see a masterful usage of angles with a hard light source? Pick up any bodybuilding magazine. They use a hard light source glancing across the body to define and visually enhance the muscles.

Consider the angle of your light. A hard light that is off to the side and glancing across the face (or body) will show every muscle, scar, pit, and bulge. But move that same light so that it is shining directly into the model, from the camera viewpoint, and you fill in all those facial anomalies, totally erase all their muscles and give your model smoother skin.

Sometimes when you are working with light angles, with a pretty girl, for example, shining the light directly into the face is a good thing, but try to avoid using a ring light.

The tradeoff is that you flatten the face and body, and lose most of the 3D effect you get from shadows. The shadow that defines shape is called “modeling”. Sometimes like with a bodybuilder – shining the light directly into the subject will ruin the portrait.

Every photographic situation has trade-offs, and the difference you will get with your light angles will be more than contrasting, trust me. It’s how you deal with them that will define your photographic vision or eye. Stepping away from taking photos of people for a second, here’s another example of how the angle of the light can change everything. Suppose you want to shoot a photo of a spider’s web.

Shooting spider webs can be done with hard light or soft light, but in my experience, hard light makes a more dramatic shot. With the hard light of the sun, it is easy to see the thin filaments of the web as well as the glistening dewdrops in the early morning; assuming of course that the angle is right.

If the sun is behind the web (shining towards you), the spider webs seem to pop up everywhere. But if you are looking for them with the sun at your back, you could spend all day searching and never find one!

Light angles can make some things completely disappear, take the next two photos for instance. There is a spider web in the below photo on the left. The below photo on the right is much less obvious as the light is at our back.

Light Qualities

Light Qualities

Previously we learned a bit about photography lighting and light qualities that have to be considered when you are planning your creative vision. Some of the questions to consider include; it hard light? Is it soft light? Does the light give off a white or yellow tone?

Dark Photography - Starry Night and Aurora Photography - Light Qualities Hard LightThis is a sample of how hard light can present on a subject. Notice how the distinction between light and shadow is very obvious. The lighter areas between the nose and lips, and on the chin are a stark contrast to the shadow cast by the nose running over onto the cheek.

Controlling hard light to achieve the desired effect is something that you should practice. When you can work with hard light confidently you can create some very appealing effects and draw on viewer emotion to get your audience to connect with your work in a way that they might otherwise not be able to.

Dark Photography - Starry Night and Aurora Photography - Light Qualities Soft LightThis is a sample of how soft light can appear on a subject. Notice how there are no strong distinctions between light and shadow, even the shadow cast between the right cheek and jawline under the layers of hair are quite subtle.

Look at how the balance of light and shadow moves down the neck, gently emphasizing the shape of the neck, rather than being bold and obvious, which would draw the viewers attention away from the eyes. Again, controlling the light to communicate what it is that you want to share with your audience is an art that needs to be mastered in the initial shoot; and not so much in post-production.

We’ve defined and discussed the key light in posts here, which is the main, or most powerful light, but we also need to consider the source of the light, the intensity, direction, and color. We’ve learned that shadow defines form. With no shadows, your subject will appear flat and two dimensional.  So to make our photos more realistic and more 3D, we need to give a lot of attention to the shadows.

Notice how the shadows make this photo of a mannequin look three dimensional as a result of the photography lighting? And, here is a sample of a photo with fewer shadows. Notice how it makes this real person looks more two dimensional (or flatter) than the mannequin photo?

Comparatively this photo of the young girl also looks faded and washed out when compared to the mannequin. There are so many things wrong with this photo, and through your Dark Photography journey, you will learn how to avoid taking photos that do not convey the message that you want.

We’ve also learned to study shadows. They are more important than most beginners to photography realize. In fact, in portrait photography, all six of the most popular lighting setups are named for the shadows they create! Broad light, narrow light, split light, loop light, butterfly light and Rembrandt light. Always ask yourself:

  • Are there any shadows?
  • What is their direction?
  • What about the shadow’s depth?

Remember: if the shadow is too dark, we lose all the facial details. If it is too light, we lose our roundness and 3D effect.

We’ve also learned that we can manipulate our shadows with photography lighting by adding in a secondary light called a fill light. The fill light is generally set opposite to the main, or key light, and adjusted so that its intensity is less than that of the key light. In this way, it fills in the shadow areas but doesn’t completely eliminate them. Your on-camera flash can be used as a fill light, so can white reflectors, walls, or even a van!

There are many different photography hacks that can provide you with the different results you are looking for, and many we will teach you that will cost you almost nothing to use compared to the commercial alternative. To get access to these you will need to subscribe to Dark Photography.

A key thing to remember is that a light source doesn’t have to actually generate the light; it can merely reflect light from another source. Are your shadows not dark enough? Try using a black reflector. Yes, that’s right, a black reflector!

We learned about raccoon eyes and several ways to fix them. We did several exercises to help sharpen our “creative eye” and learn to predict the effect of various light and shadows affecting our subject.

Here are a couple samples of raccoon eyes. Can you see why they are called raccoon eyes?

We learned how to take a lot of weight off our subjects by controlling the depth of shadows and the color of their clothing. We learned how to make our subjects look younger by filling in the shadows created by the wrinkles on their skin.

We’ve learned about the causes of the glare in our subject’s spectacles or sunglasses, and several easy ways to remove it. We’ve learned why studio photographers use umbrellas and softboxes in their photography lighting aresenal to soften and diffuse the light in order to control the shadows.

In this review of ambient light, we’ve briefly touched on and covered a lot of ground. It wouldn’t hurt you to go back and re-read about light shaping and snoots, and cookies and gobos. Re-do the photo exercises. Light and shadow is an important area to master.

Moving on – Let’s get more into hard light and how to shape and control it.

10 Commandments for Landsacapers

10 Commandments for Landsacapers

To take the stunning photographs you want to there is a lot more to consider than just the old point and shoot. Planning is the key and you will find that the more research and planing you do the less time you will need to spend trying to figure out the how. This will also reduce any potential expense you may encounter through the consumption of not just time, but other resources that don’t come freely.

Let’s explore the ten commandments for landscape photography that have helped us catch that exact shot we have been looking for.

The Photographer's Ephemeris - Dark Photography01 Use The Photographer’s Ephemeris to calculate the time and the path of the sun and moon as they set and rise. TPE is a great little app that has so many handy features built into it. You can set pins in the map to come back to at later dates and plan your attack to get the perfect position in those precious moments of the most creative soft light. The sun and the moon, just like the tide, wait for no man; so be prepared. You can find this great tool online at http://photoephemeris.com/

02 Check thy tide charts. With coastal scenes, an out-going tide will leave a pristine beach, free of footprints. Rocks will still be wet and hence, reflect the light.

03 Check thy gear before leaving home. Batteries must be charged; memory cards must be empty. The tripod shoe should be on the camera. Lenses and filters must be clean.

04 Arrive at thy location one hour early. If thou art relaxed, thou wilt be in a better frame of mind to produce great images.

05 Scout thy location thoroughly, looking for likely compositions. Pre-focus. Wait for the right light.

06 Use a hot shoe spirit level to keep the horizon straight. (This is very useful for video, or when shooting in the dark.) Alternatively, of course, if thou hast a recent-model DSLR, it may have an in-built level.

07 Tell someone exactly where thou art going.

08 Thou shalt look after thyself. Don’t forget to fuel up. Have snacks, hot drinks, music, warm clothes, first aid and cellphone.

09 Know thy gear. (Thou cannot see thy camera controls in the dark). When the sun is setting, thou wilt only have a short window of opportunity to capture the best light. Now is not the time to be fumbling around trying to read the manual in the impending darkness!

10 Thou shalt have fun! If it doesn’t work out, don’t fret. Pack up, go home and treat thyself to a hot shower or a decent meal. It is not uncommon for two out of three photo shoots to fail. That is, thou may not have bagged any great photos. But this can be par for the course, as one cannot completely control the vagaries of the weather… the wind, the tides, the clouds.

Indeed, it is precisely this uncertainty which makes Landscape Photography such an exciting pursuit.

5 Habits of Highly Effective Photographers

5 Habits of Highly Effective Photographers

To be truly effective when taking photographs you need a mix of skill, knowledge and above all, patience. Frustration through a lack of ability to get the shot you want will, more often than not, drastically reduces your chances of succeeding. Don’t let your emotions get in the way, keep a level head and apply these five habits of highly effective Photographers.

01 Don’t expect your camera to do all the work

This means saying goodbye to ‘Auto’ and bravely using other modes such as Aperture Priority or Manual.

  • Read the camera manual, several times, to get familiar with your gear.
  • Gradually work through various functions and features on your camera.
  • Take control of the camera, and the lighting conditions you are faced with.
02 Understand that pressing the shutter is only half of making a good photograph
  • Modern cameras are still no match for the human eye, and have lots of limitations, especially in low light situations.
  • Post-processing has been done since the invention of photography (either in a traditional darkroom or on the computer). This is where you polish your final images, and make adjustments to compensate for the constraints of the camera.
  • Select and present only the very best images from a photo shoot.
  • Store a backup copy of your images onto an external hard drive.
03 Publish photographs

So your photographs aren’t destined to die on a dusty hard drive, unseen by the world, take these steps to keep them alive.

  • Share your work to get constructive feedback from your peers, such avenues can include; online galleries such as 500px, Flickr, Google +, Instagram, or a Facebook group.
  • Present your images as a means of self-expression; these are your contribution to recording the world, from your point of view. Get them framed, make greeting cards, calendars, show them in art galleries, photo-books, or even as prints inside a photo album.
04 Get inspiration from other photographers you admire
  • Read eBooks, magazines, blog posts, look at Facebook posts, or view YouTube videos.
  • Visit galleries, take workshops or go on a photography tour to learn from a more experienced shooter.
05 Travel in search of fresh subject matter

Effective Photographers are always in search or fresh subject matter. This could be a range of things that can bring about inspiration, and could be anything from interesting locations to photogenic people.

  • On a micro level, you need to use your feet to find fresh angles and perspectives – you need to ‘work the scene’, and don’t just settle on the first composition you see.
  • On a macro level, you need to consider visiting exotic or remote locations away from home and opening your eyes to new possibilities.
  • Avoid shooting clichés, looking for a new ‘take’ on well-photographed subjects.

Cookies And Gobos

Cookies And Gobos

In photography, we call these patterned flags a “cookie”. They are very useful for adding a little life to a backdrop or creating a scene.

In the theater, they are called “gobos” which stands for GOes Before OpticS the gobo is physically located between the light source and the lights optics. It is actually inserted into the light’s housing. To avoid being burned up and ruined by the intense heat of the lights, theatrical gobos are generally made of metal.

In photography, we don’t place a gobo between the light source and the light’s optics. Instead, we place it in front of the light. It is between the light source and the area we want the shadow to fall upon. So, though it does the same basic thing, it technically isn’t a gobo. In photography, we call them cookies.

The term “cookie” comes from the repetitive “cookie cutter” patterns that most cookies have.

The major difference being that since a gobo comes before the light’s optics; it is easier to control the focusing of the shadow images. They are much sharper than what we get with a cookie.

Cookies can be made of most any materials ranging from metal to paper and everything in between. We have this flexibility since the cookie isn’t subjected to the heat that a gobo has to endure.

In this picture of the cat, the cat appears to be snoozing with the late afternoon sunlight shining through the window. In reality, it was shot with a hard light source and a cookie which has been cut to resemble the ‘T’ shapes of the window crossbars.

Sometimes the use of a cookie is not hidden and is very obvious, other times it’s hard to tell.

In the picture of a girl looking out a window in the late afternoon light, the window coverings, or slats, are casting a shadow on her face. The final picture with the rose on the table is one where I was fooling around with shadows and it is pretty obvious that there is a cookie involved.

Question; is this a real scene of a girl looking out a window? Or is it a studio shot with a hard light source and a cookie? There’s no way to know, and that’s the whole point.

Obviously, since they are smaller, it is easier to modify studio lights with flags, dots, and so on, but the sun can be controlled too!

Flags can be put between the subject and the sun to either block the light or cast a shadow. Natural objects, like a building, trees and so on can be used as well.