7 Tips for Better Compositions

7 Tips for Better Compositions

John Cooper specializes in corporate, industrial, and commercial photography for various business communities in Texas and teaches basic skills to other burgeoning photographers. If you are just starting out, or looking for a refresher, check out his advice below. 7 Tips for Better Compositions by John Cooper What makes one photo better than another?  Good photographs have compositions comprised of visual elements that abide by certain design principles.  Photography, it is said, is the subjective application of objective tools. Here is a cheat sheet on how to get better photographs. It is not an analysis of art theory or physics.  However, I urge you to research those topics if your passion is photography. In the meantime, here are 7 quick ways to make better photos.  You “make” photos, by the way – you do not merely “take” them. You Can’t Fix Blur Yes, we can put a man on the moon but we still cannot focus a blurred image.  The rule of thumb for hand-held shots is to use a shutter speed that is faster than the reciprocal of the lens’ focal length.  Using a 200mm telephoto, for example, would require you to use faster than a 1/200th second shutter speed.  A 50mm would require faster than 1/50th and so on.  Image stabilization has changed this up to 2 stops but it’s not worth the risk, in my opinion.  Remember, you can’t fix blur no matter what version of Photoshop you may have.  Increase your ISO and/or open you aperture or use a tripod.  Do whatever it takes to get tack sharp focus every time the shutter actuates. Understand...
5 Reasons to Reject an Image

5 Reasons to Reject an Image

Journalist and adventure photographer Jay Goodrich is always looking for new approaches to producing images, which means getting plenty of practice in rejecting photos that fail to rise above the mundane. Learn how you can quickly separate the good from the bad in your own body of work and increase the quality of your portfolio. 5 Reasons to Reject an Image by Jay Goodrich With the age of digital photography now becoming a mainstream part of society, how do you decide what photos are good to keep and what ones should be thrown in the trash? While we need reasons to reject an image, we don’t necessarily want to form a hypothesis of rules. If you ever take a workshop with me you will quickly realize that I choose to disregard rules in almost every aspect of my life and my photography. And I believe that creativity cannot be contained within a set of rules. Rules force us to follow a standard of practice, and while that may work for controlling crime, slowing down speeders, and successful scientific discovery, it completely ruins the concept of creativity. While my way of teaching others how to create a compelling image differ from the norm due to my educational background as an architect, there are areas of image making where decisions have to be made. So in a world of creative decision making that has many drinking the Kool-Aid of free expression, how do I decide on what work to keep? Here are 5 reasons to reject an image that I have discovered work best in most image making scenarios. Just like...
6 Website Mistakes You’re Probably Making Right Now

6 Website Mistakes You’re Probably Making Right Now

Our friends over at SmugMug.com help photographers from all walks of life put their best memories into beautiful and safe photography websites. They have seen every kind of website, from breathtaking portfolios to always-under-construction blunders. To kick off a new blog series of photography website tips and tricks, SmugMug lists the most commonly made mistakes of the website world. Avoid these and you’ll be on the right track toward making a good first impression! 6 Website Mistakes You’re Probably Making Right Now by Schmoo Theune So you’ve put your photos online? Great! At SmugMug we believe photos are best when shared, even if it’s only with a few people you really trust. Many of us love to make new connections by building a fully public website but to throw open your door to opportunity (or profit), you’ve got to have the right combination of personality and presentation. Your personality is ultimately up to you but as website builders we’ve got a few tips to help you get the most presentable, functional, online home possible. We’ve seen thousands of websites by photographers who shoot all kinds of stuff so we’ve compiled a few of the most common website bloopers we help customers eradicate every single day. 1) The Dead-End Hello: Zero Contact Information This is one of the most common mistakes we see. You may have done everything right and created a beautiful website but what happens if your visitors love your work and want to hire you? So many websites have great photos on them but zero personality, such as an email address, a personal photo, or even a brief bio....
Intro to Light Painting with Olympus Trailblazer Jamie MacDonald

Intro to Light Painting with Olympus Trailblazer Jamie MacDonald

Jamie MacDonald is an Olympus Trailblazer who shoots nature and wildlife in the Mid-Michigan area exclusively with the Olympus Four Thirds and Micro Four Thirds camera systems. He is also a contributor for Small Camera Big Picture. Light painted photography is one of his passions and he is currently working on a new light painting tool to make the job easier for beginners. Check out his tips below for creating a successful light painted photo. Intro to Light Painting by Jamie MacDonald As photographers we know that our craft is all about light. We long for the golden hours of morning and evening, the blue hour of twilight, and some of us make our own with strobes and Speedlights. But there is a subset of photographers out there who choose not use light to highlight our subjects but, rather, to make light the subject itself. This is what happens when light becomes the scene. What does it take to start light painting? It really takes nothing more than your camera, a source of light, and your imagination. Let’s start off with the gear. Below is a general recommendation for the gear needed to begin light painting: A camera capable of shooting in manual mode. If you’re an extreme beginner, don’t worry – shooting in manual is easy for this! A tripod or some other way to make sure your camera is stable during the exposure. A cable release for your camera. If you do NOT have one, don’t worry. I have a trick for you to use that will work just fine. A light source. What kind? Pretty much anything that makes...
Serene Travel Photography with the Canon EOS-M

Serene Travel Photography with the Canon EOS-M

The Canon 5D Mark II has long been Tristan Pott’s go-to camera for capturing snippets of Japan and Taiwan, where he has been living for the past several years. To save a little space while still getting to use his normal lenses, Pott picked up a Canon EOS-M, Canon’s first mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. Pott’s serene photographs of scenes from his day trips around both countries shows that a little camera can produce some beautiful visual keepsakes. If you’re trying to save on weight, especially if you are a Canon shooter with some lenses already available to you, the Canon EOS-M with the EF to EF-M adapter just may be the ticket! Find out below why Pott chooses the EOS-M. BL: You already have some larger glass, such as the Canon 100mm f/2.8L and the Canon 24-105mm f/4L. What made you want to start using them on the Canon EOS-M? Pott: To be honest, I didn’t think I’d use my L lenses as much as I actually do when I received my EOS-M. I was initially perfectly content with the kit lens, which is a little 22mm prime, but I decided to give the adapter a try. When I actually tried out my 24-105mm f/4L for its zoom capabilities with the EOS-M, I was really happy with a few of the shots I got that day. From there, I realized that an EOS-M plus good glass equals better shots. BL: What are the EOS-M’s greatest weaknesses and what are its greatest strengths? Pott: I consider the greatest strength to be the image sensor. For the price and the form factor, it’s great in terms of image...