Have a guess where the most photographed spot in the world is. Go on. Have a think.
The Eiffel Tower? The Taj Mahal? The Statue of Liberty?
Nope. According to Sightsmap’s map of the most photographed places in the world it’s the Guggenheim Museum in New York. This place:
Snapping the Big Apple
Where better, then, to start the ultimate photographic trip round the world than this most iconic city? Photographers have been drawn here for as long as cameras have existed and with good reason. From the obscure corners of the Bronx to Times Square in the heart of Manhattan the scenes of New York have played host to some of the most famous frames in photography. Ever.
While the Vivan Maiers, Diane Arbuses, Bill Cunninghams and Elliott Erwitts of the world had years to explore New York, your gap year might leave you with only a few days or weeks. So, make the most of it. Don’t hold back. Take those shots of the amazing busker on the subway, that incredible sunset from the top of the Empire State Building or that abstract photo of the Guggenheim, and add yours to the photographic tableaux that captures every moment of life in New York.
Although hard to top for cityscapes, street photography and diversity, there is a lot more to America beyond New York, regardless of what kind of photographer you are. Whether you want to fly straight to the likes of Chicago, San Francisco or Las Vegas, to shoot more iconic urban scenes, or travel overland and follow in the footsteps of photographers like Ansel Adams and Stephen Shore, there’s an unbelievable amount to see and shoot.
Get trigger happy in South America
While North America is practically synonymous with photography, South America also has much to offer. From old coastal towns in Colombia’s tropical north, right down to the snow-capped mountains of the Torres del Paine, in the far south of Chile, it really is astonishingly beautiful and more varied than you could ever imagine.
Not only that, but it’s a dream to photograph, the light is fantastic and the people, scenery and climate are conducive to great photos. Mario Testino, one of the greatest living photographers, comes from Peru. It is easy to imagine how while growing up there these elements helped influence his style and formation as an artist. Maybe you’ll find the inspiration you’ve been waiting for there.
Travel and all the new sights it offers are the best inspiration for any kind of photographer. Your gap year is the perfect way for you to discover or hone your photographic style and try something completely new in completely new surroundings. Perhaps you’ll branch out from those beautiful landscapes and try some portraits of the locals, or maybe you’ll find yourself captivated by the colours in a local food market where normally you might focus on the lines of the local architecture.
While you’re travelling through South America in search of that perfect photo, whatever your style may be, you’re pretty much guaranteed to stop off at a few cities – Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires and Santiago to name just a few.
South America is well known for its beautiful landscapes, but it also has these vibrant, colourful and downright crazy cities. La Paz, surrounded by snow capped mountains, is the world’s highest capital city. Rio is possibly the most scenically located city in the world and is home to both the best beach on the planet – Copacabana – and the best party – Carnival. Santiago is the gateway from South America to the South Pacific so you never know who or what you might meet there!
From Santiago go west and cross the international dateline and end up in New Zealand. The Land of the Long White Cloud is where you can practice your wildlife photography – perhaps snap some whales from Kaikoura – and walk the Tongariro Crossing, maybe trying your hand at some winter photography before winding up in Christchurch to explore in search of some haunting urban shots.
Right next door to New Zealand is what is jokingly referred to as the ‘mainland’ – Australia. This mammoth island is more continent than country and its diversity reflects that. For photographers it’s got everything, from the opportunity to study the maze-like Sydney Opera House, to the beautiful Great Ocean Road with its famous rock formations. And then there’s the verdant beauty of tropical North Queensland, home to ancient rainforests and some of the best beaches in the world.
Beyond the more obvious and well-trodden side of Australia, there’s also a wealth of diversity in people and settlements. Everywhere from the busy streets of Sydney to the remote Aboriginal settlements in the Outback, there are fascinating places and people with stories to be captured.
Lights, camera… Africa!
From Australia, head to South Africa, a brand new continent with awe-inspiring environments.
There’s a good reason we associate images of Africa with pictures of lions, elephants and vast savannahs and that simply is the fact that it is home to some of the most amazing wildlife and their natural habitat is these primeval plains.
Regardless of whether you are planning to explore the backwaters of the Okavango Delta, the ancient Rift Valley or just simply the national parks that are dotted about Africa, there’s something that will catch the eye of any photographer.
These are the images that any explorer of Africa searches for. The ones that convey the scale of the place, the nature of life there and how everything else seems small by comparison. Africa will give you some perspective on your photography and teach you quickly what you are best at and how to put your photographic skills to best use.
Work your way overland through Africa snapping those elusive Big 5 and all the myriad other animals that dot the landscape, before winding up in one of Africa’s cities. Whether you stay in South Africa and head out along the Garden Route, before flying out of Johannesburg or Cape Town, or decide that you want a bigger adventure and make your way overland to Nairobi, the photos you will come away with are sure to be some of your best.
Frame the organised chaos of Asia
Taking a step back there’s a whole other route you could take from Australia – via Asia. Again, the options are pretty much unlimited, pack your kit up and head for Indonesia in the south of Asia or fly straight up to South East Asia’s crown jewel – Bangkok.
If you choose the former you’ll get to trek through jungles in search of the Old Man of the Forest (Orangutan) and climb active volcanoes through steam-shrouded rainforests. For almost all photographers these will be completely new environments to explore and work out how to shoot in, so not only will you come away with these amazing photos, but you’ll have a chance to really stretch yourself photographically too.
Or, if you head to South East Asia, on that classic backpacker route, you’re bound for the nightlife of the Thai islands, the gold-clad Buddhist culture that runs throughout the area and the intoxicating chaos of the cities. All of it just begging to be recorded forever in your photos.
There comes a time in everyone’s life when they’ve had enough of clicking the shutter on their camera. It may take years, months, hours or even minutes but at some point I can guarantee the average person will get photography fatigue and just want to put the camera to one side.
I travel with a Go Pro, an iPhone and a point and shoot camera, I feel ridiculous but they’ve all got their purpose. Sometimes I even add a DSLR on top of that too. I’ve increasingly noticed lately that I’m just not in the photography mood, and as a full time blogger, my snapping can come more from duty than from love.
I just feel like people are taking all these photos, thousands for every trip, but what do they do with them all? Is it not better to live an experience for real, rather than view it from behind the lens?
1. Look up
When I went on safari in the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania everyone was stuck to their viewfinder. You can get the same view as they did if you Google ‘Ngorongoro Crater’ and for a lot cheaper too. The fun of actually being on safari is looking up, looking around and trying to spot the wildlife for yourself. Safaris are all about feeling the savannah air and looking out to the expanse of the landscape. I understand wanting a photo of the wildlife, I want one too, but when you get home all you have is a photo of a lion like everyone else who’s ever been on safari. You won’t have that feeling of what it was like to be on a safari because you were too busy setting up the camera for the shot.
Instead of looking down, sorting out your camera or clicking the shutter for the tenth time, how about talking to someone? We’re so quick to hide behind our technology these days. In the olden days of disposable cameras, which I just about remember, you’d ask someone else to take a photo (and make a new connection) and you’d take the one or maybe two because they cost 30p per photo to develop. Now it’s all selfies and 7 snaps before you’ve even sorted your hair. Trust someone else to take a photo once in a while and strike up a conversation while you’re at it.
3. Draw or paint
Do people still paint anymore? I’m guessing that if ever anyone made some sort of graph showing the amount of paintings done per day compared to the amount of photos taken, the lines would cross somewhere around the late 1990s. From 2005ish the photo line would be off the chart. Painting a scene is a great way to really look at an image, to notice all the nuances and characteristics and to record them for yourself. Instead of taking the obligatory photo of a landmark or site as you walk on through, painting gives you the time to actually really sit and look at it properly.
Sure, a picture paints a thousand words and all that, but what about writing a few verses on what you see? It doesn’t have to be for any sort of publication but the notes you write now on how you feel will me sacred memories when your gap year is over. If you’re quickly progressing from destination to destination it’s surprisingly easy to forget the details and how you felt at the time. Writing when you’re on you gap year gives you the perfect opportunity to actually sit down and think about all the amazing things you’ve done, rather than just relying on your memory or the photos on your iPhone.
How about you don’t do anything but just soak up the experience and live in the here and now? Put the camera down, any other thoughts to one side and just focus on the here and now. Work your way through your senses when you reach a moment in life you’d normally photograph and think about how it affects each one and enjoy it.
6. Take your time
It’s easy to get caught up in attractions, to follow the crowd and eagerly get onto the next thing before you’re ready all to get the perfect shot, orshots. Take time out at a destination. Have a cup of tea, a picnic, or simply sit and people watch. Find out what it’s like to actually be there rather than just to see it and snap it.
7. Quality photography
Obviously I’m not suggesting you give up taking photos all together, but maybe cut down on the snap happy attitude and go for quality over quantity. Think about how you want to frame the shot and take time to set it up. Don’t fill your phone with half hearted attempts at photography that waste time and memory – go for the money shot. Done!
Gone are the days of taking a cheap disposable camera on your gap year – now, anyone can get their hands on a camera that’s capable of capturing great images. But how do you achieve shots that are truly jaw-dropping and stand out among the mass of shared photos online?
Make sure you read these top tips before you head out on your travels.
1. Pack the right gear
Have you ever tried capturing that once in a lifetime experience on camera, only to find that you don’t have a back-up battery to hand when your current one inevitably dies? Battery life is crucial to ensure you capture the best footage, but there are dangers to recording for long periods of time.
Keep in mind that your camera can overheat, which can damage it or stop you getting your footage or photo. Look out for cameras with their own heat management system to help avoid overheating when capturing high-resolution footage. Ensuring you pack the right gear is vital for ensuring you get the perfect shots without any setbacks.
2. Know your equipment
Get used to your equipment before you head off on your travels. Having the right size camera is crucial too; something that’s small and easy to fit in your pocket is ideal if you need a camera that’s convenient to use at any time and in any place. Be sure to gain a good understanding of what its strengths and weaknesses are so you don’t miss out on the opportunity to capture something amazing all because your camera takes a few seconds to fully switch on.
Explore different settings on your camera, experiment with burst mode and slo-mo, and don’t forget about the self-timer as it gives you the chance to get into that shot you’ve spent so long setting up. Of course, settings such as Electronic Image Stabilisation (EIS) are ideal for when you need to compensate for any tilts, bumps and shakes when recording footage.
3. Add a human touch
There’s nothing wrong with capturing the view of a vast landscape which looks totally untouched by humans, but it can feel like something is missing. Try adding people to your photos to give the shots some more personality and to provide a real sense of scale. This will help you to showcase how amazing a location really is to visit. If you can get yourself in the pictures, then it also gives you bragging rights to prove that you’ve actually been there.
Don’t forget to make the most of the range of accessories you can get for your camera. Additions like selfie sticks and handlebar or head mounts can take your pictures to the next level to help you take even more amazing shots.
4. Go waterproof
You never know when you might need to protect your camera from an accidental splash, or when you want to take a dip in a lake surrounded by beautiful scenery. When finding the right waterproof housing for your camera, be sure to choose something that’s designed to be compatible. You can even attach a floating grip to your camera if you’re worried about it sinking into the abyss.
An extra tip: if you are worried about damaging your equipment, then make sure it’s all covered by your insurance.
5. Have fun
Don’t forget to have fun when you’re out exploring every nook and cranny of each new place you visit on your gap year. Get locals involved, try striking new poses, and don’t be afraid to do something that you’ve never tried before. The more you get stuck in, the more you’ll relax.
Remember to use a camera that makes downloading your pictures and footage straight to your phone easy and quick, so you can instantly edit and share that amazing shot to your social media channels for your friends and family to see.
Ensuring you have the right equipment is key to capturing great photos. Thanks to advances in technology, many cameras are capable of capturing every step of your travels whilst staying extremely lightweight and compact. This is the perfect combination that allows you to see and do more as you continue on your gap year.
One of the great things about shooting with a wide-angle lens is that you can incorporate more of the scene into the photograph.
Landscape photographers, in particular, make use of that added real estate to create dramatic, sweeping photos of their subjects.
Yet, wide-angle lenses can be a tough cookie to master…
Well, it’s the same reason as why they’re so great. Because wide-angle lenses incorporate so much of the scene, it’s easy to get a shot in which there really isn’t a strong subject.
Without a strong subject, the composition suffers and what results is a wide shot of a whole bunch of details, but without anything to necessarily grab the viewer’s attention.
With that in mind, consider these tips to help you take better wide-angle shots.
Have a Strong Subject
This one is a no-brainer!
Given what we discussed above, a prime solution to the wide-angle problem is to simply incorporate a strong subject into the shot.
No matter if you’re shooting a landscape, a portrait, or a street scene like the one pictured above, having a strong subject will anchor the shot, provide an area of interest to draw the viewer’s attention, and act as a leaping point for investigating the rest of the image as well.
In the image above, the rock formations provide the visual detail necessary to draw the eye inward. The archway, in particular, grabs the viewer’s attention, while the right-to-left appearance of the rocks pushes the eye toward the sea and the sunset beyond.
Get in Close
Though wide-angle lenses are great for getting an image that surveys the larger scene, don’t be afraid to use it to get up close and personal with a subject.
The beauty of an up-close shot with a wide-angle lens is that you get the strong subject you need as discussed above, but because of the angle of view, you can still incorporate some of the surroundings into the shot.
For example, note how in the image above that the chain in the foreground adds tons of visual interest. Not only is it a great leading line to move your eye to the left towards the Golden Gate Bridge, but the texture of the chain adds some depth to the shot as well.
Ask any landscape photographer when their favorite time to shoot is, and they’ll most likely say Golden Hour.
Golden Hour light is unparalleled in that it’s soft yet vibrant, warm yet even.
And man, does it do wonders for showing off the features of a landscape!
But taking a high-quality landscape photo during Golden Hour requires more than just pointing the camera toward the sunset and pressing the shutter.
I’ve put together a collection of nine spectacular sunset shots to inspire your work, and I’ve included a few tips and tricks along with them.
Let’s see just what you need to do to improve your Golden Hour photos in order to create masterpieces like the photos below.
When shooting a sunset, many photographers will make the sky the focal point of the image. And while that works in many instances due to the gorgeous coloring of the sky, sometimes the image works better if the sunset takes a backseat to another element. In this shot, Kevin McNeal uses the beautiful waterfall as a focal point, which plays perfectly into the photo. The bright white of the water really pops while the visual weight of the waterfall balances out the layering of the cliffs that dominate the right side of the image.
Using water in the foreground of a sunset shot is a great way to improve the exposure. By reflecting the brightness of the sky in the water, the photographer, Steve Kossack, was able to open up the foreground and help prevent it from becoming a dark, shadowy weight that brings the photo down. Better still, the water reflects the gorgeous colors of the sunset, adding additional pop to an already gorgeous image.
In this image, Rick Sandford highlights the value of having a perfectly level horizon. Though it’s easy to be taken in by the beauty of the scene, it’s imperative that when you’re photographing a sunset with a clearly defined landscape like this one that you pay close attention to the framing of the shot. If the horizon is off just a little, it will be plainly visible and ruin an otherwise breathtaking photo.
In this gorgeous Golden Hour photo, Loscar Numael capture golden tones as the sun illuminates the distant mountains. When photographing sunsets, you can enhance these golden tones by switching your white balance to the “shade” setting. Because the shade setting is intended to warm up bluish tones, it adds red and orange tones to the shot. That means that when it’s used on golden tones, it makes those red and orange tones that much more prevalent.
When photographing a sunset, don’t be afraid to extend the length of the exposure to show the movement of the clouds. As we can see in this shot by Jason Odell, the clouds take on a dreamy quality with the blurriness that’s induced by the long shutter speed. Paired with the explosion of color from the setting sun, the movement of the clouds gives this image a greater level of depth and interest.
Even though Golden Hour is a prime time to show off the sky, again, we see the value of incorporating foreground interest into the shot. In this case, Joe Rossbach has framed the shot perfectly with the rocks in the foreground serving as an anchor for the photo. The rocks also give our eye something to follow deeper into the scene, giving it a greater sense of dimension. The cool tones of the rocks act as a nice balancing point to the bright, warm colors of the sunset as well.
In another beautiful example of a long exposure, Edwin Martinez pairs the harsh lines and shapes of the rocks in the foreground with the soft, smooth surface of the water. In the background, the fog acts like a giant diffuser, helping to spread out the rays of the setting sun in a way that makes the fog glow. In looking at the differences in the colors between the foreground and background, we also see how you can use color to help achieve improved visual balance from front to back.
Gary Hart demonstrates with his photo above how not all sunset photos have to be taken after the sun actually sets. When photographing a landscape before the sun has hit the horizon, it’s a good idea to work in aperture priority mode so you can make quick changes to the exposure settings as they rapidly change with the movement of the sun. Then, once the sun dips below the horizon, switch to manual mode so you have greater creative control over your camera’s settings.
Not all sunset photos have to include the sun or even need to be taken in the direction of the sunset. In this image by Steve Kossack, the setting sun bathes the rock formations in an orange glow, giving us a better sense of the texture of the rocks and the size and scale of the landscape. The lesson here is the value in turning around. Often, as spectacular as the setting sun might be, there very well could be an equally beautiful view behind you!
These photos show what’s possible when you put in the time and effort to find an interesting vantage point, incorporate foreground interest, use the appropriate camera settings, and so forth.
Another crucial aspect of creating images like those seen above is to use high-quality filters that boost colors, help you blur movement, and control the dynamic range of the scene at sunset.
Singh-Ray makes some of the best filters around, including polarizers, solid neutral density filters, and graduated neutral density filters. They even have reverse neutral density filters that are perfect for sunrise and sunset shooting because they are darkest in the center of the filter with clear glass on the bottom and graduated from dark to light above the horizon line.
That’s beneficial because at sunset, the brightest part of the sky is along the horizon. By filtering out some of that light, the reverse neutral density filter helps you control the dynamic range of the shot by lightening the foreground and gradually controlling the brightness of the sky.
The benefit to you is that you get all those effects with a single filter. No more long post-processing sessions!
I shoot with Singh-Ray filters because I feel they are the best on the market. If you want to take your photos to the next level, I suggest you check them out.
If you’re like me, you enjoy a good timelapse video now and then.
Fortunately for us, timelapse videos are everywhere these days, from Instagram to YouTube, Vimeo to Twitter.
And the more ubiquitous they become, the more us regular photographers want to jump into the world of timelapse and create awesome videos of our own.
Of course, it’s not quite that simple! To create a timelapse video (a good one, anyway), you’ll need a few bits of gear to make it possible.
In this quick gear guide, I offer a list of all the equipment you’ll need to start creating timelapses that are worthy of sharing and will get other people to exclaim, “Wow, that was an awesome timelapse!”
Obviously, you’ll need a camera to create a timelapse video. And though you can create timelapses on even your mobile phone, to get the best results, a DSLR system is in order.
It’s simple: resolution and file type.
A DSLR camera will get you individual images that are in much higher resolution that your mobile phone. Essentially, the higher the resolution, the greater the leeway you have in post-processing in terms of cropping as well as programming zooms, pans, and tilts into the shot sequence in post.
What’s more, these systems allow you to shoot in RAW format, which gives you access to all the data the camera collects for tweaking when you edit the photos.
Additionally, DSLR systems give you plenty of in-camera controls that address things like exposure, white balance, focusing, and the like, that are simply impossible (or very difficult) to do with lesser cameras. If you want the best results, a solid DSLR like the Nikon D5 is the way to go.
You’ll also need a solid tripod to give your camera an absolutely stable base. Without a tripod that resists the effects of wind, your timelapse images will turn out a blurry mess.
Fortunately, the ideal tripod for a timelapse shoot is an old, metal one.
These can be found on the cheap because few people want to carry around such a heavy beast anymore. But, all that weight works in your favor, because the more weight, the more apt the tripod is to stand up to the effects of wind.
Of course, you can go with something newer and lighter, and simply improve its stability by adding weight to it yourself. Look for a model with a center column hook from which you can hang your camera bag, a bag of sand, or a bag of rocks.
That weight will pull the tripod down, thus planting its feet more securely into the ground. It’s also a good idea to remove the strap from your camera, that way there’s one less thing to catch the wind and cause vibrations.
Neutral Density Filter
Unless you want to be relegated to tackling timelapse photography at night, you’ll need a good neutral density filter. These filters come in a variety of stops that allow you to extend your shutter speeds from fractions of a second to seconds-long or even minutes-long exposures.
But, buyer beware – filters are like lenses in that you definitely get what you pay for. Don’t opt for a cheapo neutral density filter. If you will use it, spend money on a top-shelf filter so it works with the quality of your lens rather than against it.
At the very heart of timelapse photography is the camera remote.
This little guy is what allows you to program your camera to take photos at exact intervals and determine the duration of each shot, that way you have the best assets with which to make the gorgeous timelapse video you have in your mind.
But not all camera remotes are made equal.
For years, timelapse photographers have used intervalometers, but these devices are somewhat limited in their functionality in that you can control little more than the intervals between shots and the duration of each photo.
However, there’s a new gadget on the market – Pulse by Alpine Laboratories – that takes the camera remote to a whole new level.
Pulse gives you wireless control over your camera right from your phone. Rather than relying on a tiny screen and a few buttons like a traditional intervalometer, Pulse gives you a slick mobile app that gives you access to your camera’s settings. Control aperture, shutter speed, and ISO, manage your HDR settings, and even dial in – with just a few touches – basic or advanced timelapse photography settings.
Even better, Pulse gives you image previews as you work, so if need be, you can make adjustments to your camera settings right then and there.
And, because it gives you control over exposure settings, you can create timelapse videos that show the transition from day to night with perfectly exposed images. All you have to do is plug Pulse into your camera’s USB port, attach it to the hot-shoe mount, and you can operate your camera wirelessly from up to 100 feet away.
So, as complicated as timelapse videos appear to be, it’s really just a matter of equipping yourself properly such that you can get the shots you need. A good camera and tripod, a high-quality neutral density filter, and a feature-packed camera remote like Pulse will get you well on your way to becoming a master of timelapse video.
It wasn’t all that long ago that simply having a phone with a camera in it was relatively rare. Not so today!
Now, the cameras on our smartphones are fully functioning with all sorts of bells and whistles that give us the capability of taking stunning photos (and videos) with little more than a decent understanding of the camera settings, a few apps, and maybe some add-on equipment like a lens or a tripod.
If you’re looking to step up your smartphone photography game, consider learning how to use the following three settings.
HDR (which stands for High Dynamic Range) is a camera setting that produces an image that has better quality in shadowed to highlighted areas. In other words, when you’re presented with a scene in which there are bright highlights and dark shadows, your smartphone camera might not be able to generate an image in which the full range of subject matter is visible. If the camera meters off of a bright area, the shadows will be dark black; if the camera meters off a dark area, the highlights will be bright white.
HDR solves that problem because it takes three separate shots, each one at a different exposure level, then automatically blends the images together. The resulting image has much greater detail throughout the image.
Although HDR can be used for any type of photo, it is especially useful for backlit scenes, like a silhouetted portrait, and landscapes. In the image above, note how the rock faces are still well-exposed, even though the sun is behind them. This is because one of the images that made up the HDR composite was exposed for the rocks while another was exposed for the sky.
Engaging HDR is different from one smartphone to the next, so consult your owner’s manual if you aren’t sure how to turn it on.
Many of today’s smartphone cameras also have an option to create time-lapse videos. This is a handy feature on occasions when a single still photo or a short video just won’t do justice to whatever it is you’re recording.
Essentially, the smartphone’s time-lapse feature takes a series of individual photos at an established interval over an established period of time. Those individual photos are then strung together into a single, seamless video that shows the event in a much shorter time span. To do this on your own by manually taking a photo at specific intervals would be difficult, to say the least.
Like the HDR function, each smartphone is a little different regarding how to create a time-lapse video. But, once you determine how the feature works on your phone, be sure to select a subject that has indicated movement so you can see the effects of the time-lapse. Clouds, waves crashing on the beach, or vehicles passing by on the street are all good subjects. No matter the subject, be sure you have your phone mounted on a tripod – it will need to remain absolutely still throughout the sequence of shots.
Action scenes – be that your kid’s soccer game or a deer bounding across the road – are best captured in a series of frames as opposed to one static shot. The theory is that by taking a number of shots in rapid sequence that at least one of them will be a pleasing shot of the action unfolding before you. What’s more, you can see the movement from frame to frame and choose the image that best represents what the action is all about.
Where the time-lapse setting on your phone takes a long series of individual photos and then seamlessly combines them into a video, burst mode takes a short burst of individual frames and saves them individually on your camera roll. So, where you might be able to manually take three photos in a five-second time span with your phone, in burst mode, the phone might be able to fire off double that.
But burst mode isn’t just for action shots. When taking a portrait of someone, use burst mode to get a range of facial expressions. Better still, you can use burst mode to capture candid shots between formal takes, resulting in laid-back and relaxed images that might well be the best of the bunch.
Add-On Lenses Benefit Your Images
Using the camera settings outlined above will help you get out of your normal routine and challenge your comfort zone. Rather than taking a solitary photo, you can challenge yourself to try burst mode to capture more than simple portraits or landscapes. Likewise, your creativity can be inspired by using the time-lapse setting to see how you can represent a scene over a longer period of time. Furthermore, using the HDR setting expands your ability to photograph scenes even when the lighting isn’t ideal.
What all that means is that using your smartphone camera’s tools will make you a better photographer because you will be better equipped, more informed, and have varied shooting experiences to help you develop your photographer’s eye.
But why not add a lens to your phone that enhances your ability to do all those things even more?
There are plenty of add-on lenses on the market today for virtually any kind of smartphone. Sirui has a line of three high-quality lenses that are easy to use in a host of shooting situations. But just because it’s a quick add-on doesn’t mean the results are so-so.
The beauty of Sirui’s lenses is that they are made with high-quality German schott glass. That means your images will be sharp and clear, so that no matter your subject, it will shine through in your images as it should. What’s more, Sirui has an entire line of lenses, from a 60mm portrait lens to an 18mm wide-angle lens to a fisheye lens that’s ideally suited for creating unique, eye-catching images of all sorts of subject matter.
Better still these lenses offer excellent color quality, minimal distortion, and minimal vignetting. They also come with an anti-reflection coating, so even if you’re shooting at the lake or on the coast, the sun’s reflection off the water won’t interfere with your ability to get the shot.
Smartphone cameras aren’t as powerful or feature-packed as a DSLR or mirrorless system. However, they’ve come a long way and continue to get better with every new model that comes out. By taking advantage of your smartphone camera’s features and using them in conjunction with a Sirui mobile phone lens, you’ll be able to create photos and videos that look much more like they were created with an expensive digital camera and less like they were created with your phone.
What’s the one thing all photographers are guilty of?
It seems that no matter how much gear we acquire, there’s always something else that we MUST have.
I’m certainly guilty of this, and I’m willing to bet you are too.
But, I’d like to argue that aside from the essentials like a camera body, a few great lenses, an excellent tripod, and some killer filters, there’s not much that the typical photographer absolutely must have in their kit.
That being said, there are plenty of awesome gadgets and gizmos that make photography easier, more fun, or both.
I’ve found a few such gadgets that, if you ask me, should be on your list of must-haves.
Let’s check them out!
I’ve written about pulse in the past. As I said then, it’s a fantastic product that makes creating stunning timelapse videos a veritable breeze to make.
It’s one of my favorite gadgets, hands down.
But to characterize Pulse as just for timelapses is selling this little guy short.
It’s a feature-packed remote that facilitates shooting traditional videos, still photos, heck, even selfies!
What makes it so innovative is that Pulse is controlled wirelessly from your phone from up to 100 feet away.
And when I say “control,” I don’t just mean firing the shutter.
You can take charge of everything from ISO to aperture, shutter speed to the timer. You can also control up to three cameras!
Better still, Pulse doesn’t have to always be connected to your phone. Once you’ve dialed in the settings, you can take off, and Pulse will do the rest. Watch the video above to see just what can be done with this awesome gadget.
Pulse even turns your phone into a live view monitor. Check the histogram for every shot you take and see thumbnail previews of images too.
All that in a hot-shoe mounted gizmo that weighs just 1.5 ounces and is priced under $100!
Whether you’re just starting out in photography or you do this for a living, Pulse is something you definitely need in your kit.
LockCircle Camera Body Cap
If I had to name one thing I like the least about photography, I’d put cleaning my gear at the top of the list.
It’s just such a drag, and even though I know it needs to be done, I find myself putting it off and off until I break down and finally do it.
But I found a way to keep my sensor cleaner for longer…
The LockCircle camera body cap is unlike any other body cap you might find.
This bad boy is made of billet aluminum, so you’re sure it stands up to the bumps and bruises it might encounter as you work.
The tight seal the LockCircle creates helps prevent dust from getting into the camera body, and it can’t be removed unless you press the lens release button on your camera.
That means it stays in place, safely and securely, which means fewer cleaning sessions! Anything that allows me to shoot more often and spend less time cleaning my camera is a must-have item in my opinion.
Like Pulse, LockCircle is easy on the pocketbook. Pick one up for Canon EF mount cameras and Nikon F mount cameras for under $80.
GearEye Gear Management System
As your collection of gear grows, it can be hard to keep track of where everything is.
As you can see in the video above, the GearEye Gear Management System helps you keep your gear organized and tracked, that way you’re never left wondering where your second camera body or nifty fifty lens is at.
All you have to do is place an RFID GearTag on your gear and GearEye will track it for you.
Access GearEye with the accompanying smartphone app and you can account for everything that’s been tagged, all with one tap of the phone’s screen.
This is especially handy for photographers that have gear for specific purposes. For example, if you currently need your landscape gear in your bag, GearEye will let you know if something that should be there isn’t.
Not only that, GearEye will help you locate the missing gear if it’s in range. That’s a lifesaver if I’ve ever seen one!
Once it’s released (check the Kickstarter page), it’ll only be about $200 for the standard package.
So for less than $400, you can get three of the hottest, coolest, and most functional photography gadgets currently available. In the photography world, $400 isn’t much money at all!
And the best part?
These gadgets aren’t just something to have for fun. Each one helps address a different need that will help you create better photos.
Camera shake is the bane of just about every photographer’s existence. It makes us use shutter speeds that are too fast or apertures that are too wide for the subject. We might even use a higher ISO to compensate for other exposure adjustments. It causes our backs to ache because we carry tripods around everywhere we go.
We invest in remotes, use mirror lock-up, and even trigger our shutters from afar with our smartphones, all in the name of getting photos that are as sharp as possible.
But what if there was a way to minimize the blurriness of camera shake without any of the aforementioned tools?
You can minimize camera shake without a tripod just by using your own body.
The Heidi Klum
The simplest method is to simply tuck your elbows in, like Heidi Klum striking a pose on the runway. Doing so improves your overall stability while giving your camera additional support because its weight is transferred from your hands to your arms to your elbows and finally to your chest.
Additionally, camera shake can be induced by the action of breathing. When using this technique, it’s important to exhale before you press the shutter button. If you don’t, the movement of your chest outward and inward as you breathe could cause your image to be blurry, especially if you’re shooting at a large aperture or slow shutter speed.
The Scarlett Johansson
Next up is the simple “on the ground technique.” It’s reminiscent of when Scarlett Johansson fell on her face and set the internet ablaze with memes.
It’s simple in that it’s really a no-brainer – lie flat on the ground and let your elbows and the ground form a tripod, as seen in the image above.
Much like the previous tucked elbows technique, using the ground beneath you as a support will help give your arms, and thereby the camera, the stability they need to get a tack-sharp photo.
In some instances, you might simply rest your lens on the ground or extend your hand such that its flat beneath your lens.
The problem with that is the extreme low perspective, which might incorporate too much of the foreground into the shot. However, you can get around this by taking the position shown above.
The Matt Damon
If you aren’t keen to lie on the ground, there is an alternative that allows you to stand up. As seen above, by bringing your left elbow in (like the first pose) you give added support to your camera and lens. Plus, it makes you look like tough guy Matt Damon in his new movie.
But, by locking your right arm in an upward and outward position, you create added tension in your upper body that might allow you to shoot handheld with a wider aperture, a slower shutter speed, or both, without inducing camera shake. Shift the camera to your left eye to create a tighter connection with your brow, and, like mentioned before, completely exhale before pressing the shutter button.
Use Your Off Shoulder
This pose is probably the most unconventional of the bunch, but trust me when I say, it works! By bringing your left hand back and wrapping it around your chest, you give your left shoulder a great deal of stability.
You can make use of that stability by resting the bottom of your camera on your shoulder. Bring the camera firmly to your face, using your brow as another point of support. Between your shoulder, your brow, and your grip on the camera body with your right hand, you’ve got three points by which to keep the camera nice and steady.
Use Your Knee
Using your arm and leg in tandem to create a sort of tripod is one of the most effective poses for stabilizing your camera.
Think about it – sitting on the ground with your knee upward forms an incredibly stable base for your body. Pressing down on your knee with your elbow transfers that stability upward, helping you to maintain control over the camera and lens.
Note in the image above that, again, the camera is held tightly to the face for further support, while there is a solid, supportive grip on the camera from both above and below.
This pose might look silly, but as you in see in the video below by Eventos Impresionantes, it’s certainly not the silliest pose you can use to get a photo:
6 Poses You Can Use to Avoid Camera Shake image
In some instances, you might find that getting your body into a tight tuck will be most advantageous for keeping camera shake at bay.
Note in the image above that the photographer uses the tuck in combination with the previous tip on utilizing the stability of the knee meeting the elbow, only in this case, both knees and both elbows are being used.
By getting into this position, you can counteract the effects of a strong breeze, take a lower shooting position to create a more unique point of view, and you avoid the displeasure of laying down or sitting on the ground.
So, as you can see, there are plenty of options to give your camera more stability that doesn’t involve carrying a heavy tripod around or having to use a remote shutter release.
Sure, those options are preferable in terms of getting images that are optimally sharp, but not every occasion will allow you the time or the space to set up your camera on a tripod and fire the shutter remotely.
For those occasions, give one of these shooting positions a try. I think you’ll find – as I have – that they provide a surprising amount of stability for minimizing the effects of camera shake.