Tips

5 tips on how to take good photographs in the harsh midday sun

5 tips on how to take good photographs in the harsh midday sun

Bright sunny days are generally not great for photography.  The harsh light can make it very difficult to create good photographs but we should learn to use whatever conditions are available to our best use.  There are lots of techniques and ideas you can do to help in these conditions.

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Eight things I learned shooting environmental portraits

It has taken me a very long time but I have finally got a project off the ground.  Okay, its been in the back of mind for a long time but I finally made a start.

Scott_Naismith_Landscape_Painter_Artist

Over the course of the next few months I will be photographing artists from in and around Glasgow.  I want to try and show the vast variety of creative people living and working in Glasgow.  Whether they are a painter, a potter, a photographer, a sculptor or a … you get the idea,  I want to try and get a glimpse in to how these people work, what are their methods, similarities, differences, and what it is that pushes them to create their art.

I put the call out on Facebook for artists who would like to be photographed in their working studio and I have already got a lot of interest and carried out my first shoot last week, and immediately I realised this is going to be a steep learning curve.  I did my first shoot with Scottish Landscape Artist Scott Naismith.  It was fantastic see Scott working on his vivid landscapes in his studio - I really appreciate you making the time Scott.

What I learned in my first shoot

  1. PLAN BETTER - I thought I would be able to turn up, get to know my collaborator, and capture at least a few images of them at work.

  2. YOU NEED TO WORK FAST – I am used to working at more leisurely pace, planning a shot, taking my time with composition – time does not exist when working with an artist in their moment, you need to be stealthy, fast and know when to pick your moment

  3. BE CAREFUL OF BACKGROUND CLUTTER – I found it nigh on impossible to get a clutter free shot in the studio.  I managed to get some nice shots of the artist at work only for the background to be too cluttered or a brightly lit screen background ruining the shot.

  4. SHOOT LOTS OF CLOSE-UPS – artists use all sorts of interesting stuff – photograph them – you can make some nice abstract shots from these things

  5. BE CAREFUL OF REFLECTIONS – with so many different tools in use some are bound to be metal and give off some harsh reflections

  6. MY NIFTY FIFTY IS FANTASTIC - the Nikkor 50mm 1.8G is a dream lens, so flexible, lets in so much light, and pretty cheap too - buy one!

  7. KNOW WHEN TO TALK – and when to be quiet, when my collaborator was in the groove I let him be.

  8. YOU NEED TO ENJOY IT – working with other people really opened my eyes to new areas of photography I never considered before.

I have already got three more shoots arranged with different artists, with a loy more planned for November and Ican't wait to continue.  If you think you might be interested in taking part just message me here.

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How to make better cityscape photos: look for layers

First things first, I know this isn't a 'killer' shot.  Its nice enough but hardly likely to win any awards.  What I do like about though it is that it doesn't look like Glasgow.  It has a bit of a Parisian feel I think.  The mix of different architectures gives shot a timeless look. 

View from Macintosh Tower, The Lighthouse, Glasgow

View from Macintosh Tower, The Lighthouse, Glasgow

What interested me the most about this shot before I took it is the different layers which can be seen within it.  Each of which adds depth to the image.  Fore example:

  • Layer 1: Victorian architecture in the foreground

  • Layer 2: The black tin building on the roof tops

  • Layer 3: A glimpse of 'old Edinburgh' - similar to layer 1 but more aged

  • Layer 4: Modern blocks in background and sky

What do you think, would looking for layers in your cityscape images help you?  Do you have any other techniques for cityscapes to share?

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Why you really need to get down the Clyde and photograph the Glasgow Science Centre

Why you really need to get down the Clyde and photograph the Glasgow Science Centre

Sunny day photography can be a bit awkward.  The harsh light and shadows can make it difficult to get any decent shots.  However, it is possible to use this light to your advantage and make some good photographs.

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Four photography YouTubers actually worth watching

Four photography YouTubers actually worth watching

Enter "photography tutorial" in YouTube and you'll get over eight million results.  It's not easy finding the right content but the four channels below provide a top notch starting point for your photography needs.

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Make Camera Calibration your first stop in Lightroom editing

With so many options available in Adobe Lightroom it can be difficult to know where to start.  It is all too easy just to follow the built-in work flow of Lightroom: Basic, Tone Curve, and ending with Camera Calibration.  Here I will explain why the 'camera calibration' setting should be your first port of call (after setting your white balance that is!) in order to get a good starting point in your edits.

Image imported with no edits carried out

Image imported with no edits carried out

Depending on your camera, the camera calibration tab will offer you a choice of settings which you can choose from.  You should be able to see in the second image that I have a choice between Adobe Standard, Camera Landscape, Camera Neutral, Camera Portrait, Camera Standard and Camera Vivid, again, you may have different choices depending on your camera and you should try all of these in order to get the histogram you want.

Check the two images below and note the differences between Adobe Standard and my choice of Camera Vivid.  The differences are quite subtle, however, you should be able to notice a stronger blue in the boat and the reflections on sand are more impactful.

The only difference between this and the image above is that I have chosen Camera Vivid as the calibration profile

The only difference between this and the image above is that I have chosen Camera Vivid as the calibration profile

Admittedly this is a subtle change but the point here is to find a better starting point before carrying out any in-depth editing.  You can take this process further by using the saturation sliders in this setting too.  Below you can see the next step where I have slightly tweaked the 'Blue Primary, Saturation' slider.

By increasing the saturation in the Blue Primary sliders you can see a noticeable difference in the boat

By increasing the saturation in the Blue Primary sliders you can see a noticeable difference in the boat

And that;s that.  This is a very simple technique but it really can make a difference to your editting process.  These edits took a total of 10 seconds to carry out so it clear that the often overlooked camera calibration settings can speed-up and improve your editing workflow.  Give it a try and let me know how you get on in the comments.

Got a question about Lightroom?  Leave a comment below and I'll get back to you.