Monthly Archives: January 2017

Try Low Angle Photography

There are plenty of things you can do to try and compose a more interesting photo.

You can add layers to the shot – foreground, midground, and background elements that give the image greater depth.

You can look for dramatic lighting that gives you the opportunity to use shadows and highlights to create visual interest.

You can also strive to frame your shots from a unique perspective, like from up high or down low.

Low angle shooting, in particular, is an interesting compositional trick to use.

Here’s why.

Low Angles Add Depth

The whole point of photography is to represent a three-dimensional scene on a two-dimensional medium such that it looks three-dimensional.

It sounds confusing, but it really isn’t!

A print, laptop screen, or smartphone screen is a two-dimensional space, but by creating a photo using a low angle of view, you can increase the perceived depth of the shot.

In the image above, kneeling down allowed the photographer to incorporate more foreground into the shot, which increases the perceived depth. The addition of the texture of the sand, and the associated shadows gives the shot more visual interest as well.

Low Angles are More Interesting

The vast majority of photos are taken from the photographer’s eye level.

And even though that’s a comfortable and familiar shooting position, it often results in photos that are also comfortable and familiar, and that’s not necessarily a good thing.

Part of our jobs as photographers is to help viewers engage with the shot, and by giving them an unique perspective from which to view the scene, you can more easily help them be engaged.

In the image above, the low angle of view again incorporates more foreground into the shot. Additionally, the leading lines created by the bridge’s structure give the photo more depth, and the runners appear to be taller and more imposing in the frame, which immediately commands the attention of viewers.

A Low Angle of View Emphasizes Perceived Power

As noted above, a low angle of view helps the subject of a photograph take on a more imposing position in the shot.

By virtue of that, the subject also seems more powerful and important.

This is true of just about any subject, from a landscape to a portrait to even a building.

In the image above, we see this concept in action. Though the subject is a group of small, delicate leaves, the low angle of view makes them seem more imposing, more powerful.

This is in spite of the fact that these plants are actually just inches high. Just imagine this photo had it been taken from eye level – it would be far less interesting.

Easy Tips To Photograph The Moon

The moon is 238,900 miles from earth.

In the vast majority of moon photos taken by amateurs, the moon looks like it’s that far away!

There’s plenty of obstacles to creating a beautiful image of the moon – you need an understanding of the moon’s phases and the right gear, like a telephoto lens, to get up close.

You also need to have an understanding of compositional choices that will make your photo shine. Getting the exposure just right is another challenge too.

And though that might seem like a lot to keep in mind, with a few tips, you can master these topics and create images of the moon like the one above.

Let’s get started!

Get Familiar With the Moon’s Behavior

The first step in moon photography is to develop an understanding of the behavior of the moon. Naturally, this means understanding the moon’s phases so you know when the moon will be out from the earth’s shadow.

Because the earth has a counter-clockwise rotation, it’s shadow travels across the moon from right to left. That means that the best time to get photos of the moon is during its waxing stage, when the earth’s shadow is moving ever farther to the left, revealing more of the moon’s pockmarked surface.

To get a detailed understanding of the phases of the moon, watch the video below with Phil from Crash Course Astronomy:

There are plenty of apps that help you track the moon’s behavior as well. MOON – Current Moon Phase (shown below) is available on iTunes and gets very high marks from users. The app works offline, so you can be out in the wilderness without service and still know what the moon is doing and will do in the future.
This app also tells you the lunar illumination so you’re sure to capitalize on nights when it’s brightest. What’s more, the app also sends out notifications before new moons, full moons, and other lunar events, that way you can plan ahead. You can even view what the moon will look like on any day of the year by entering your desired date!

Get the Appropriate Gear

Like any other photo, getting a pleasing image of the moon requires that you have the necessary gear. Here’s a quick list of essentials you’ll need to get the best photos:

Camera

You can take photos of the moon with any camera, even your smartphone. The caveat is that for improved photos of the moon you’ll need a camera with certain features. A DSLR or mirrorless camera is typically the most advantageous because they have an expanded ISO range that allows for low-light shooting.

What’s more, it’s best to have a camera with RAW shooting capabilities, simply because RAW files retain all the data collected by the sensor. That means that in post-processing you have more information to work with, which aids your ability to create the best-looking shot.

Another feature to consider is the size of the camera’s sensor. The larger the sensor, the more light it can collect. As a result, full frame cameras like the Nikon D7200, will do the trick.

Lens

If you’ve ever taken a photo of the moon with your smartphone or a point-and-shoot, or even a DSLR with a wide-angle lens, you know the disappointment of the moon appearing to be a small, white blob in the sky.

That’s a result of a focal length that’s too short – a wide-angle lens, for example, doesn’t get you close enough to the moon to make it appear of any significant size, nor does it allow you to capture the detail of its surface. Since wide-angle lenses make distant objects seem smaller, it stands to reason that wide-angle photos of the moon aren’t impressive at all.

To get up close and personal with the moon as seen above, you’ll need a telephoto lens. Typically, moon photographers recommend at least 200mm, though the longer the lens, the greater the magnification and the more pronounced the compression.

Where other types of astrophotography, like photographing the Milky Way, benefit from a fast lens, speed for moon photography isn’t as much of an issue.

For starters, the moon will be very bright and provide enough illumination on its own (plus you can bracket and blend exposures, as discussed below). Secondly, you’ll have your camera on a tripod, so you can utilize a longer shutter speed to compensate for the darkness of your surroundings.

So, when looking for a lens, worry less about the largest aperture available and focus on focal length. Solid options include the Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED Zoom Lens. Neither lens is cheap, but to get photos in which it seems the moon is very close (and large), a long lens is required.

Tripod

Naturally, with a long lens and long shutter speeds, a sturdy tripod that will give your camera a stable base is of the utmost importance. It won’t matter how beautiful the composition is if the shot is blurry due to camera movement!

There is a mountain of tripods available with a wide array of features that can make your head spin. But the most important thing to look for is stability, quality construction, good feet that provide a stable base, and a center column hook that allows you to add weight to improve stability. Check out our recent list of the best tripods for some solid recommendations.

Mount

If you really want to take your lunar photography to another level, using a dedicated mount is certainly the way to go.

The Star Adventurer Mount from Sky-Watcher USA is an ideal tool for taking photos of the moon because it tracks celestial bodies. Keep the moon (or the sun or stars) in full view by using the mount to track it across the sky. With built-in shutter release control, the Star Adventurer also gives you the power of firing your shutter remotely, thereby helping to reduce the possibility of blurriness due to camera shake.

What’s more, if you want to create a beautiful timelapse video of the moon moving across the sky, you can! The Star Adventurer has preprogrammed parameters for creating timelapses both quickly and easily.

The setup shown above is Sky-Watcher’s special photo package, which comes bundled with the Star Adventurer mount, a polar scope illuminator, and a ball head adapter.

That means that right out of the box, you’re ready to head out, get set up, and take some stunning photos of the moon! Get to know the Star Adventurer Mount in more detail by checking out the video above from Sky-Watcher USA.

Here’s what you need to get this set up:

Camera (Nikon D810 shown)
SkyWatcher Adventurer
Sturdy tripod (Sirui W-2204 shown)
Strong ballhead (Acratech GP shown)
Shutter Remote (RFN-4 Wireless shown)
StarAdventure image image

Consider the Composition

As beautiful as the moon is, and as awe-inspiring as it can be, photos of the moon can easily be boring. This is especially true if you take a large view, like the image above, in which the moon is relatively small in the frame.

In those instances, it’s necessary to pair the moon with interesting foreground elements, just as you would with any other type of landscape shot.

There are a myriad of possibilities here. If you live in a city, incorporate a structure of some sort into the frame – a building, a bridge, or the like, that adds some scale to the shot as well as provides visual interest that makes the image more complex.

If you can head out to less populated areas, pair the moon with natural elements like mountains, trees, or even reflect the moon in a still lake or pond to make the photo more visually appealing.

You might even find that photographing the moon at sunrise or sunset is advantageous because you can incorporate Golden Hour or Blue Hour lighting into the scene, which elevates the interest of the image with the addition of the warm, bright colors of the sky.

In the video above, Bryan Peterson of Adorama TV explains why shooting near sunrise and sunset is so advantageous, and also offers some tips on how to expose the image at this time of day.

Blend Your Exposures

The benefit of using environmental elements in the shot is that you create a more interesting image.

The difficulty, however, is that adding foreground and midground elements can make getting a well-exposed photo more difficult.

Part of the issue is that the light reflected off the moon can be incredibly bright, which can trick your camera’s meter into thinking that the scene is much brighter than it really is.

The result of that is a shot in which the moon might be well-exposed, but the rest of the scene is pitch black.

An effective way to overcome this issue is to bracket your exposures. Take a series of shots, each differing in its exposure by one stop. Then, simply combine the images in the software of your choice, like Photoshop or Lightroom.

If you’re unfamiliar with this process, check out the video above. In it, Serge Ramelli gives us an in-depth tutorial on exposure blending such that the final image has a spot-on exposure throughout.

From planning your outing to composing the shot to processing the images, you now have a better idea of what it takes to create gorgeous photos of the moon.

Though it’s a lot to take in, just remember that all it takes is a little bit of practice. Set aside some time to work on the tips and techniques outlined in this article, and you’re sure to develop the skills needed to capture some truly stunning lunar photos.

Tips For Beginner Photographer

think we can all agree that being a beginning photographer is a lot of fun.

I think we can also agree that it can be a little overwhelming!

When I think back to my first days toting around my camera, I shutter at the thought of everything I didn’t know.

Back then, there wasn’t the wealth of information we have today right at our fingertips.

There weren’t handy guides to clue me in either!

Lucky you, though, because you have in your grasp a quick guide that will help you become a better photographer.

Of course, part of becoming a better photographer is building your skills.

However, you need to be properly equipped if you’re to build the requisite skills for becoming a solid enthusiast.

With that in mind, consider these three items as absolutely necessary for your photography adventures.

Filters

Nyumon Kit image

Photoshop, Lightroom, and other post-processing programs are definitely worth their weight in gold.

These powerful platforms give today’s photographers a great wealth of possibilities in terms of how their final images turn out.

But for beginners, these programs can add to the overwhelming nature of photography. There’s just a lot to learn!

And while you should definitely learn how to process your images, there’s something to be said for knowing how to get things right in-camera.

One of the best tools for perfecting your images in the field is a set of filters.

There are a variety of filters at your disposal, including protective filters and polarizing filters.

Protective filters do just that – protect your lens glass from dirt, smudges, or worse – scratches. Simply screw it onto the end of your lens, and you can rest assured that your expensive glass won’t be adversely affected by dust and other debris.

Another must-have is a circular polarizing filter.

These filters help reduce glare off of a reflective surface, such as sunlight off of a body of water. This action enables you to capture the scene in greater detail without the distracting element of glaring light.

What’s more, polarizing filters also create a more dynamic sky by enhancing the blue color of the atmosphere and making the white color of clouds pop, as seen in the image above.

Polarizers help dehaze landscape scenes as well. For example, if you’re photographing a feature that’s far away, like a mountain range, the mountains might appear to be hazy, or even bluish in color. A polarizing lens filters out that haze and decreases polarized light, resulting in a photo that has much more impact.

When thinking about filters for your photography kit, consider the Kenko Nyumon Starter Filter Kit, which comes with both a protective filter and a circular polarizing filter.

These filters come with coated and polished optical glass, so your images remain clear and sharp. Kenko’s filters resist elements like wind, dust, and rain that can cause smudges and damage to your lens’ delicate glass. The polarizer is mounted in a slim ring, so even if you use a wide-angle lens, you’re assured that vignetting will be at a minimum.

The Nyumon Starter Filter Kit is designed specifically with new photographers in mind. That means you get the lens protection you need and the power of a polarizing filter in one, budget-friendly package. With sizes ranging from 37mm to 82mm, these filters will fit a wide range of lenses. That means that no matter what gear you use, you can reap the benefits of better colors, less haze, reduced glare, and more dynamic skies today! Learn more by visiting Kenko today.

A Nifty Fifty Lens

No matter if you shoot with a Nikon, or some other brand of camera, a 50mm lens should be one of the first things you add to your photography kit.

But why?

It’s simple: 50mm lenses are cheap, but often have outstanding image quality.

In fact, if you could compare the image quality of a 50mm lens and your kit lens that came with your camera, you’d be convinced to buy a 50mm lens right then and there!

Part of the difference is that the optics in a 50mm prime lens are much better than those found in a kit zoom lens. The result is sharper images from edge to edge.

In addition to being cheap and sharp, 50mm lenses are versatile. Use it to take portraits, landscapes, photograph street scenes…you name it! It will quickly become your go-to lens because of that versatility.

And…that versatility extends into the realm of lighting. Many 50mm lenses have a very large maximum aperture of f/1.4 or f/1.8. That means you can shoot in a much wider range of lighting conditions, all with the same lens.

As if that isn’t enough, a solid 50mm lens with a large aperture gets you gloriously blurry backgrounds. That means you can blur the background of a portrait much more easily, bringing greater attention to your subject.

What’s not to like about that?

An External Flash

You know those big flashes attached to cameras you often see the pros using, like the one shown above?

That’s called a speedlight, and even if you’re a beginner, you should snag one.

Why, you ask?

For starters, like the 50mm prime lens, there are many budget-friendly speedlight options. That means you can get an essential piece of gear that will drastically improve your photos, all without spending tons of money.

Additionally, having a quality flash in your bag gives you much greater leeway in terms of when and where you can shoot photos.

With a speedlight, you’re able to take portraits in the dark. You can use it as fill light for a landscape shot as the sun is setting. Heck, you can even use it to add additional lighting to a macro photo of a flower or bug, and much more.

Better still, speedlights create much more pleasing light than the pop-up flash on your camera. If you’re going to learn how to use flash, do so with a quality speedlight so you can create better photos sooner!

With that, you’ve got a better idea of what tools you should seek to add to your kit sooner rather than later. Get one or get all three – either way, adding filters, a 50mm lens, and a speedlight to your kit will have a measurable impact on how your photos look.