How to Live a More Fulfilling Life

How to Live a More Fulfilling Life

Life isn’t exactly easy. There are bills to pay, mortgages and rent, food, fuel and other things which are pretty much essential to living. These same things become more expensive every day thanks to inflation, a dwindling supply and an ever-increasing population.

I’ve found that there are many ways to make the life I’m living more fulfilling, without adding a lot of extra costs to my daily operations. Changes, both small and large, can really make a difference in one’s quality of life. So, here’s a little list of things I think might make everyone a little bit more happier:

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Travel Tips to France

Travel Tips to France

Recently, I made a trip to France to find great photo opportunities and take lots of great pictures. I do that sometimes; just getting up and going somewhere to photograph what I see. While I was there, I did indeed get a handful of quality shots, so I figured I would share the sites I saw and give other photographers a few ideas on what they might photograph if they happen to be in the area too.

Just about everyone knows about the Eiffel Tower, but how many people have taken good pictures of the popular French monument? The angle of a shot is one of the most important factors when taking pictures, but you can’t underestimate the effects of lighting on a finished image.

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Introduction to Photography

Introduction to Photography

While many people would agree that photography is a form of art (good photography, anyhow), I want to take some time today to tell you that there’s plenty of science behind the art. There are several terms every budding photographer should become familiar with before they go out and spend tons of money on a camera which may not fulfill their specific needs. Like everything else, more expensive doesn’t necessarily mean much better. If you’re travelling around the market for a camera, then you should be looking at the following information, not the price tag, and basing your purchasing decision on these several points.

Controlling Exposure Quality

Most cameras have timers built right into them which control how long film is exposed, usually producing quality negatives which yield legible pictures. However, to really be a great photographer, I think it’s important to get more control over the picture-taking process, from beginning to end. Too much light will ruin an image by destroying whatever you’re looking at and giving back a bright, blank image. Too little light will make everything dark, sometimes too dark to see anything at all. This is why understanding the three underlying factors which control exposure quality can be of much help to a photographer. Knowing how to control the ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed will improve your images.

ISO

Essentially, ISO is a number on a scale which represents the sensitivity of a particular camera to lighting conditions. Upgrades in technology have made it so you’re not stuck taking a whole film roll of images in whatever lighting you’re working under – many digital camera come with ISOs which can be adjusted on the fly. While a camera’s native ISO rating can vary widely (from as little as 100 to as high as 1,500+), there’s really only one thing to take away from this: A higher ISO rating provides better images in darker environments, but also increases the amount of grain and other artifacts which appear on the film. Low ISO ratings won’t give any images at all in low light or darkness, but will provide the highest quality images overall when the pictures are taken with enough lighting. This is because your camera has a harder time distinguishing between light and heat as the ISO rises; very technical stuff and certainly worth reading more about, but I think we should proceed.

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Photography As Therapy

Photography As Therapy

Photography can capture unreal moments or fantastic landscapes, but did you know that it also has therapeutic properties. For me, photography is a way to express my creativity. Others are connected with photography through its therapeutic characteristics. It is so-called art therapy. In addition to photography, this therapy may also include other forms of art – drawing, sculpture, writing poems or stories….

Photo art as a form of therapy is mainly used for the treatment of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and similar problems. How does it help? Taking photos occupy the attention with more beautiful and creative things, and help to keep the bad thoughts in some forgotten corner. Sometimes it’s hard to describe what we feel with words. The photography, in this case, can be a guide to our inner crossroads. Engaging in a hobby will surely lead to contacts with other people who share your similar interests. This is another way to fight depression – an escape from loneliness.

In some way, photography can also help to cope with obesity and diabetes. In both cases, moving and activity is of key importance. This is a hobby that can be a great motivator for moving. To find a good picture, it is necessary to explore the world around you, and it is best to do it while you are walking. If you start to deal with photographing nature, I’m sure that you will eventually gain a top shape. For the best pictures, sometimes you need to win the top of a hill and overcome moving across rugged terrains. That is a lot of physical activities!

I have to say that physical activity has become a habit to me. However, I do not always have time to exercise at the gym. Having a gym in the house seems like a great idea to me. That would allow me to start the day by exercising. I found here power racks and everything else needed for the home gym. For some people, it might seem as a hard task. However, after a good blood flow throughout the body, I have more energies for the whole day, much better concentration and focus on the details.

Photography is as a fuel that pushes my motivation and inspires me to achieve my dreams. I love my job. I’m good at what I do, and I was very satisfied. I know many people who do not like their jobs and who every day put themselves at a certain dose of stress and inconvenience. I’m not a doctor, but I know that daily doses of stress and negativity cannot be inspiring. On the contrary, it is usually the stumbling block. It is a real blessing to do jobs that you love.

To start using photography as therapy is not necessary to be an expert. In fact, you do not need to know anything about it. You need a camera and art therapist who will guide you through the treatment. I recommend you to try to deal with photography even when no one officially recommends that to you. This is one way to express your feelings, whatever it may be. And these feelings are what makes art so special.

Elements Involved In Photography

Elements Involved In Photography

Photography has become a favorite pastime for a lot of people as cameras and other devices have become more affordable over the years. Thanks to the progress that has been made by technology over the past few years, people are able to gain access to cameras through the simple click of their phone. The quality of such pictures has continued to improve over the years and one is able to take beautiful shots with their phones at any opportunity they choose.

There are a number of elements that should be taken into consideration for individuals who want to take impressive pictures. These elements play a defining role in the final product and it is essential for an individual to be familiar with them should they want to be able take wonderful pictures. Some of the elements can be considered to be obvious by most professional photographers but for individuals who have just started out or those who may take part in the activity as a hobby, they are not as perceivable as their professional counterparts would think.

The elements that are involved in the taking of a good picture can be divided in to two categories for simplicity’s sake. These categories include external and internal elements. External elements refer to the elements that are found in an individual’s environment with regard to the location where the picture is to be taken. Internal elements refer to the factors that are under the control of the photographer. This mostly has to do with the various features that can be found in the camera that is being used as well as the manner in which the picture is taken with regard to style and technique.

Some of the elements involved in taking a good photograph include:

  1. Lighting

The light that is available at the location where the picture is being taken should always be taken into consideration by the photographer. The quality of the light available will determine the quality of the picture and thus this is something that cannot be ignored by one who is hoping to take a good picture. In most professional cases, the lighting provided is usually man-made with a setup established to bring out the subject of interest in its best light. This involves ensuring that the light hits the subject in the right angles. These angles are determined by the type of picture than an individual wants to capture. One can use good lighting instead of a decent microdermabrasion machine for example to bring out the soft texture of the subject’s skin.

  1. Editing Tools

Editing tools are a good option for those who would like to change certain elements of the picture after it has been taken. These tools are presented in the form of software that can nowadays be found in the device itself meaning one is able to take a picture and edit immediately from the device they have used instead of having to transfer it to another platform before they can work on it. Editing tools have changed the game of photography for the better but one should be careful not to overdo it as too much editing spoils the natural presentation of the final picture.

Easily Accessible Locations For Great Photographs

Easily Accessible Locations For Great Photographs

Photography is almost becoming a lost art with introduction of selfies that have flooded the social media. Nowadays most young individuals consider a good photo to be one that have captured their facial features clearly enough for them to edit everything they possibly can about themselves. This is not to say that selfies are an abomination to the photography world, but there is a worry that their introduction has led to the deterioration of the more traditional elements of the art.

A photograph is supposed to capture a moment in time to make it more memorable and the best way of doing this is through the capturing of all the details concerned. Taking photographs can be a hobby or a profession for some individuals but what both these groups of people have in common is the need for quality pictures.  The quality can be judged by a number of elements with one main category involving the aesthetic presentation of the photograph. This involves what can be described as the beauty of the photograph in general.

Some photos look so bad it is enough to make an individual want to throw their camera into their meat grinder (like those you can find at this place) and be done with it but practice makes perfect and obtaining the perfect photo is never an easy task. One element that should always be taken into consideration while looking to take a wonderful photograph is the location of the setting. This has to do with the external elements that may affect the overall quality of the photograph such as the quality of the light that is available as well as the subject in focus.

There are a number of locations that are easily accessible and can provide the perfect environment for wonderful photos that will create lasting memories. Knowledge of these locations is important for individuals wishing to create a portfolio of photographs for example and some them include:

Public Viewpoints

There are a number of viewpoints located in various parts of the country that one is able to easily access without too much trouble. These viewpoints are usually placed in strategic locations that allow for a wide view of beautiful scenery from what is usually a high point in the geography of that location. Getting access to these viewpoints is mostly achievable through various means including public transport and one can easily decide to take a small trip to one of these locations nearby in search of a wonderful photograph.

The Central Business District

Most regions have a central business district in their midst and this can be considered to be one of the best places to capture everyday life in action. Individuals going about their daily lives can prove to be an interesting topic especially when comes across interesting scenarios that may be rarely captured on film. For those who may not be sure where the central business district is in their region, all one simply has to do is visit the busiest part of town and they will be home free.

Private Residences

One can easily get wonderful photos in the surrounding of their own home if they are aware of what is going on around them. One may take their surroundings for granted sometimes but it is quite easy to take wonderful pictures without ever living the house especially if you are lucky enough to be living with others.

Basic Photography Equipment

Basic Photography Equipment

When I started with photography, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, what I should buy, which piece of equipment I need or don’t need – everything was a mystery. Now I’m older and wiser, and can therefore use my knowledge to help other beginners not make the same mistakes I did.

The first thing you have to know is how to differentiate something that’s essential (like a car), from something that is good and inexpensive and makes your life easier (like LED light bars), and something that is just a waste of money and does no real good (like a fancy paintjob).

One of the most important pieces of advice I can give you is that, as a novice photographer, you don’t need the newest or most expensive gear. It won’t make you a better photographer, and it’s far better to buy a cheap but decent piece of equipment you can practice on than to buy a expensive piece that’s going to lose its value by the time you learn how to use it properly.

Another essential piece of advice is to just keep it simple. Don’t go buying a ton of equipment until you get at least a solid grasp of the basics of photography. When you’re just starting out, all you need is one boy and one lens. When you learn to use them properly and make decent photos, that’s the time to start thinking about buying additional equipment.

In the beginning, it’s better to invest in a good lens rather than a good camera body. Bodies have a shorter life span, and you will probably outgrow your first one just in time to buy another, while a good lens is good for both beginners and pros. When picking out a body, just go with what is affordable – in my opinion, technology today is so advanced that for a decent price you can get a camera that will be more than what you need as a beginner.

One other important thing is to buy a good memory card. This is where you should aim to get the best quality. If you get a few decent shots, it would be a shame to see them disappear because you got that cheap second-hand memory card. And while you’re at it, you can also buy an extra card as a backup, if your first one fills up while you’re out shooting, and you don’t have time to stop and erase photos at that particular time.

Once you get a nice grasp of the basics of photography, one of the first things you should buy is a tripod. Tripods are used to take photos of people, products, etc. It allows you to take some nice long exposure shots that would wind up being blurry if you were to shoot them by hand. It’s also a great thing to have when taking family portraits, as well as outdoors nature shots. Although professional tripods cost a pretty penny, you can get some decent ones for fewer than 30 dollars.

Photography Tips for Making Better Kids Photos

Photography Tips for Making Better Kids Photos

Of all my photographic jaunts, the ones I like best are the photo shoots that I did of kids. Granted kids are the most difficult subjects to photograph. They never sit still. But I find their expressions and antics endearing and fun to watch and capture. Although at times I had to waste quite a lot of time and tools to get the photos right, I still consider my shots of kids the best of my work.

Recently one of my friends wanted my advice on taking perfect pictures of her grandson on his birthday. While parents love the photographs of their kids, however bad the photograph turned out, they would still love to get a perfect picture that freezes wonderful moments of their child’s life for eternity. And which they can cherish and be proud of constantly. Here are some tips that will help in capturing better photographs of kids.

Getting natural shots

Let your kids play out in the yard. Wait for the right lighting and the moment you want to capture. Most of the time when kids see a camera, they freeze and their natural expression is lost. To prevent this, you have to photograph them frequently. Do it at irregular intervals. This will make them get used to the camera and they won’t stiffen or freeze seeing it.

The important thing to do here is be consistent. This will make them more comfortable near a camera. The natural photographs are those that capture the kids in their everyday routine. These look genuine and kids playing together give you plenty of opportunity to take excellent shots. The shots of kids with their parents or siblings also look good and depict family bonding at its best. You need to be patient and wait for the ideal moment.

Best attire for kids photographs

If you are confused about the appropriate clothes that would look pretty and bright, I follow a simple rule. The clothes should not be too distracting. They shouldn’t draw your attention away from the kids and their activities, which you are trying to capture in the first place. They should complement the picture appropriately without dominating it. While this is easy to say, the clothes that are available in the market today make it difficult to keep the attention on the kids. They are designed explicitly to grab attention. Outfit your kid in clothes that are appealing, but in a subdued manner. Buy such clothes especially for your photo shoots, so you need not worry about the clothes coming in the way.

Age wise tips for kids’ photographs

For newborns, you have a more difficult time than the rest as you don’t know the moment they would pick to cry. If they don’t cry, they fidget. But for parents who want to photograph their newborn, a mother would know when her infant would be calm and cooperative. Letting instinct take over choosing the right moment is an ideal way to get stunning photographs.

Toddlers

Also called as golden age, the time when kids are between two and four years of age is the best time they are most photogenic. The kids also behave naturally. They are not self-conscious of someone looking at them, and they don’t care about what others might think of their behavior. Similarly, if they see a camera they wouldn’t stir or change stance as kids of older age do.

Age 5 and up

When children are five years old or older, they tend to be self-conscious, especially in front of a camera. The important thing you have to do is be patient with them. Allow them to play uninhibitedly and get used to you and your camera. Given ample time, they would certainly forget the presence of a camera and give you stunning shots to relish in

Pictures of kids with their pets

As I mentioned before, capturing kids is in itself a very herculean task. Add a pet to the equation and the difficult escalates further. If you are lucky, your pet may find it fun to be photographed. But understand that not all pets like the sight of a camera or flashlight. And no, there is no magic formula to make a pet compliant and camera friendly.

You may have to spend an equally long time observing their activities, finding out the right angle, and lighting for them. But don’t be misguided into thinking that they would fall for food or other treats. I’ve tried them all and trust me they don’t work. Once they start chewing and licking, the chances of getting a good picture dwindles further. So you have to rely on just luck and lots of patience, when it comes to taking perfect shots of your kids with pets.

Persevere

You never know when all the things needed for a perfect picture would present themselves to you.  While I admit it is difficult to trudge along or in the wake of your kids, being persistent and taking your camera along is necessary. Sometimes taking panoramic photograph works to your advantage. I’ve at times out of frustration taken about 20 or thirty photos at a stretch with none of them coming out good. But the thirty-first photo may be the one you are looking for. So you need to persevere and wait for the right opportunity to present itself. Only when you are ready to grab it, can you reach your objective properly.

There are times when you go to great lengths setting up the backdrop and all other aspects with meticulous care to the clothes, and other things your child handles, only to find that the lighting is not right or your kid starts to put up a tantrum.  Initially you may be discouraged, but once you get a beautiful shot, you would crave for more and would be ready to go to any length trying to get it right. Photography like any other skill can be mastered, if you are patient, persistent and most importantly passionate about it.

Making a Panoramic Photograph with your Phone

Making a Panoramic Photograph with your Phone

Many of you who dabble in photography know that photographers have specialized cameras with a panoramic photo option built-in. Of course, you can also capture a great panoramic photo just with a regular camera, and touch it up in Photoshop. I usually took panoramic photos with my DSLR, but this time, things were different.

I was taking a walk by a lake in a small town in Italy. I wasn’t going to work that day, so I didn’t have my camera and equipment with me. Next to the lake, I saw two guys carrying a kayak – like the ones you find at http://www.kayakouch.com/. I sat down and looked over the lake as they went in and started paddling. The sight was so beautiful and I thought – “I should make a panoramic photo”. Since I didn’t have my camera, I took out my phone and got one of the most amazing panoramic photos I ever took. And it was extremely easy. Here’s how I did it:

Nowadays, most smartphones have apps which are used for taking panoramic pictures. It’s a no-fuss method, since the phone does all the work for you. You don’t have to be careful of the angle or merge photos manually – the apps do it for you right then and there. So here is the procedure – step by step.

  • Step 1 – Start the camera by tapping on the camera icon on your phone or opening the camera app.
  • Step 2 – In the camera app, open the options. They are different from phone to phone, but you’ll find them. Look for the panoramic photo option and click on it. If your phone doesn’t have the option, then you can follow this procedure anyway, but you’ll have to merge your photos manually when you transfer them to your computer. I’ll write an article about merging photos some other time. So then, if you have the panorama option, click it.
  • Step 3 – Once you have activated the panorama option, you will see an arrow on your screen. Move the phone slowly in the direction of the arrow and try to stay close to the centre line. For those without the panorama option, just take pictures from one side to the other, following a central axis, but make sure that each image has at least 30% of the previous one on one side. That way your panoramic photo will be high and complete when you merge the pictures. For those with the panoramic option, your job is almost done.
  • Step 4 – Once you finish shooting the length of your desired image, simply click on Done (or just stop shooting if you’re doing it manually). Your phone will automatically merge all the pictures it took into one giant panoramic photo, and you will be able to see it in your photographs folder.

That’s it – simple and straightforward! From now on, for work-related pictures, I’m still using my camera and doing the work manually, but for personal panoramic photos, I’m sticking to my awesome phone!

Unusual Photography Tips that Work

Unusual Photography Tips that Work

The web has such a huge amount of information on photography that I often am so immersed in them to the extent of finding very little time to experiment something on my own. So I decided one fine day that I’ll make some tips and tricks that no one else has tried out. While some of these may look familiar to you, I bet you wouldn’t have thought of the other tricks that I’ve compiled.

Lamp instead of tripod

If you want to take a group photo, and don’t have a tripod or place to set the camera on, use a lamp shade.  Remove the lamp from the lampshade and screw in your camera to the holder of the lampshade. This is easy as the lamp’s thread size and the tripod’s filter thread are similar, so you can fix your camera easily.  You can now get excellent indoor and party shots. And your reputation among friends and family would rise up a few notches.

Day and night, flash shift

When you are shooting portraits outdoors on a sunny day and you find the light a bit high on the brighter side, you can just increase the power of your flash to maximum and take the shot. While this may cast the subject in too bright a light, when you alter the setting to expose just for the subject, the background will appear dark, as the flash did not reach the background. This will make the image look as if it was taken during night. This can be done in engagements, weddings or any outdoor location shoot where you are bored with the lighting. This is also good for close-up shots.

Shooting macro with backward lens

You certainly haven’t tried this one great trick. Take the lens off your camera and place it in front. You have a new macro lens. While this may look crazy, it works really well. I’ve tried it in wildlife photography too. But before you whip out the lens, here are certain things you should know.

You need to use the camera in manual mode for it to work without the lens.

Use a lens with focal length of 50 mm for ideal shots

You will lose autofocus when you remove the lens. You need to get the focus right by moving closer to or away from the subject

The camera will not be able to open the aperture automatically. You need to manually open it. On the backside of the lens, you should move the plastic slider manually to open the aperture.

Alternatively, you can also purchase reverse lens mount to get sharper images. But make sure you use tripod, while taking macro photos, as even a slight shake can damage the sharpness.

Delete unwanted people from photos

This is great technique to use in travel photos. I use this for real estate photography too. You can get rid of people in your photos, so only the building or scenery or landmark remains. Fix camera on your tripod. Take multiple shots every 10 seconds until you get 15 such shots.

Now open these images using Photoshop, and go to scripts and then statistics page. Select median and open the shots you took. Photoshop removes all the people from the photos and fills in with the parts from the other shots where there was none. Simple isn’t it.

Why fitness is important for photographers

Why fitness is important for photographers

While I always take care of my fitness routine and try to adhere to it despite my busy schedule I’ve seen many of my colleagues suffer during the photoshoots because of lack of proper fitness. For instance, landscape photography can be quite difficult to manage, if you are not fit.

Imagine being in extreme temperatures and trudging along on bare foot with your backpack in rough terrains, away from civilization without the stamina for it. Trust me without fitness it can be one of the most harrowing experience. During the early part of my career, I had experienced a similar situation, which had put me on the fitness path instantly. I often suggest various fitness routines to my colleagues. For that specific purpose I  use one of this grappling dummy to keep myself fit.

Landscape photographer need to be especially fit to taste success. It is because of my fitness level that I was able to take unique shots and uncommon angles of familiar locations or subjects. If you keep up with your fitness routine by spending a little time to work out, you too can enjoy the fruits of success easily.

Take nature photography for instance. You need to visit multiple locations before you can decide on the one that has definite potential. And even if you find one, it would be hard to access. Most of the time I manage well because of my fitness levels. I even invited a few of my stubborn colleagues to look at my grappling dummy or suggest they visit http://www.grapplingdummyinsider.com/ to know how easy it is to get fit.  When you have sufficient stamina and strength, you can deal with difficult terrain and manage your equipment without any sweat.  A professional photographer should be fit first to create expert photos.

Though hiking and backpacking are common during my nature photography sessions, I’ve also done some canoeing, kayaking and even cycling to regions, which were not otherwise accessible.  Once I had done a photo shoot on Hudson River. I had to get the pictures from the water to get a better view of the valley. And it gave a unique feel to the pictures.

But mostly I go on foot, hiking or backpacking uphill with my tripod. And I have even done photoshoots in freezing temperatures, which can be quite strenuous with the heavy equipment and other necessities you have to carry along.

If you still find it hard to be motivated into fitness, take the cue from the world’s best landscape photographers. David Muench, a legend in landscape photography and my favorite icon who is in his seventies, still manages to hike up mountain trails for his photography workshops. Galen Rowell, another great landscape photographer was also a great fitness enthusiast. He had combined landscape photography with mountain and rock climbing making it the most unique creation, which remains unrivalled until date. He had run for about 10 miles per day, while he was doing photo assignments on National Geographic.

When you increase you fitness levels you can access remote and difficult locations easily and fast and carry more gear. You can also stay in the extreme conditions for longer span and recover fast too. And best of all, you get to feel good both mentally and physically, when you are healthy and fit.

Tips on capturing amazing parade photographs

Tips on capturing amazing parade photographs

I still remember how I was excited as a child, while looking at the parades. I would pester my mom for days before the parade to take me to watch them. Parades are loads of fun to watch and not only are children lured by the colorful display of the floats, the music and dances, but adults too are equally enamored by these parades.

It takes them back to their childhood and the fun they had watching them. Why I’m talking about parades is because of this photo shoot I was assigned to recently. Just as you need to take special care and attention for ocean photography or forest or any other set up, parades too need unique attention to details. Here are some tips on taking the best parade photographs.

Location

To catch the parade in all its glory, the first thing that you should look at is finding the right spot. This is very difficult, as the crowd gathered will not let you find a proper place. You need to get in early and know about the route thoroughly. The lighting needs to be right as the sunlight may cast the picture in shade or produce a glaring effect. So you need to find a location where everything is in shade or in full sunlight.

Follow the parade

The best shots of a parade are got, when you move along with the parade. You will see the press people moving along with the parade. Sitting in one spot will not get you all the pictures you need. For instance, if the music band is playing and you want to get the entire band in the right angle, you have to follow them until the right setting occurs. The backdrop also matters a great deal here. I took a splendid picture of one of the musicians and just the trumpeter with the sunlight casting a shadow behind him like a halo. The trumpet had come out quite nicely. By the way, trumpet is one of my favorite musical instruments and which I’m learning to play. I actually got a great one recently at http://www.trumpethub.com/.

Mingle with the parade

If you can get official permission or without it (as I did) you can trail along as a security volunteer or get permission on spot. Mostly parades encourage people to join in, so you can go along with the bands like I did or dance in front of or behind the colorful floats,  This is what makes parades great fun. And getting a close look or taking part in the action is certainly an exhilarating feeling. Parades that are held in smaller towns or cities have more relaxed rules, so choose such parades for better shots.

Backlight is best

Whenever you are doubtful about the lighting, it is better to put sunlight behind subjects, so when you take the shot, the subject is well lit and the background becomes blown out or overexposed. This is better than drab photos without any contrast.

Telephoto lens for zoom

While telephoto lens is mostly used in forest photography for capturing birds or wildlife, it can also be used in parades to get the right focus without distraction from the parade background.

My first aquarium photoshoot

My first aquarium photoshoot

I was recently on a photo assignment, which involved taking photographs of a huge aquarium. There is a lot of difference between shooting the fish in their natural habitat and taking shots inside the tank. In fact, I had to do a lot of preparation before the actual shoot.

The tank had to be beautified first. Since the client used canister filter for the tank, it looked quite clean and fresh. And the greens, pebbles and other additions that are needed for creating an alluring backdrop were already present. I had to suggest only a few additions to make them look more colourful. As for the dangling equipment that are present behind the tank, I hid them using black paper.

Preparing the tank

Clearing the tank of all algae and dirt is necessary for shooting beautiful pictures through the glass. The glass needs to be clean inside and outside to get precise shots. The glass needs to be clear of smudges, fingerprints and scratches. Since intensive lighting is used, even minute dirt or dust is highlighted. A partial change of the water will help in clearing the floating specs and will bring out the colour of the fish more beautifully.

Preparing for the shot

Once you have the tank ready, put together the photo equipment you need. Change batteries and for digital cameras empty the memory cards beforehand. Since glass is reflective, taking the shots in natural light is not a good idea. After dark shoot is the right lighting, you need.

You also need to turn off any other lights in the room including monitors, televisions while shooting. The room should be made dark enough to get the best shots. Set up the tripod and mount the camera. The fish needs to relax before you take the shots, so you need to do this beforehand. Although a few days would be ideal, leave it as long as you can possibly do.

Before the shoot

Remember to feed the fish in advance. This will prevent any stray food from appearing in the pictures. Any stray food or poop will settle by the time you start the shoot. Evening is the best time to shoot. You need to turn off the lights and leave the illumination to come from the tank light setting. This will bring the focus on the fish, minimizes visual contact of the fish with you, giving a natural look.

You also need to turn off the wave makers, aerators and pumps as these cause bubbles and turbulence that can cause blurring of the images.

Shooting the fish

Whether it is the corals or plants that you want to highlight you need to ensure that they do not distract the focus from the fish. The background should complement the subject and not overshadow it. You can blur the background, if it is too dominating by using narrow field depth and wide aperture.

The tripod is the best way to get faster shutter speeds and great shots. Or you can use the vibration control or image stabilizer. Knowing the habits of fish in the aquarium will help you get better shots and keep the camera ready pointing at the areas they hang out frequently. Most of the brilliant shots I took were done in this manner.

How to create spectacular close up shots

How to create spectacular close up shots

Creativity has no bounds. With some creativity, you can turn even the most mundane and usual things look wonderful and enchanting. I had recently been on a photography assignment to an interior décor company. The theme was wood logs and I was stunned at the creative ways the artiste had used the wood logs. The unique way in which the artiste had utilized wood stumps and logs was simply breath taking.

I quizzed about how he had managed to get the logs for the job. He mentioned about his friend who used this advanced log splitting tool which had made it possible to get the type of wood he wanted.  Some of the things that I captured in the exhibit that I’m sure would grace any home include a table made from a large wooden plaque and lumber log, garden path with wood slices embedded, a flower vase, lamp shade and many other such stunning pieces. The trick in bringing out the beauty of these pieces is to know how to take good close up shots. Here are some tips on taking stunning close up shots.

Take care of lighting

For taking close up shots of subjects like flower vase with blooming sunflowers, roses or other vivid coloured flowers you should avoid taking the shots under direct sunlight. Overhead lighting will spoil the effect; instead use the early morning or dusk lighting to get beautiful shots. For close up shots, the small aperture in the compact model digital cameras is best.  Remember that the f-stops, which indicate the aperture size, are actually, inversely related. The larger the number, the smaller will be the aperture.

Focus tricks on moving objects

Capturing moving objects need the most skill. If you’re not careful, the image will be blurred. The shutter speed should be fast, when you shoot the moving objects. If you want to take a shot of bird flying from a branch, using a tripod for holding the camera steady is necessary. If your camera has optical image stabilizer then it would be sufficient. A long zoom lens would affect the stability greatly. Setting the camera on continuous shooting setting will help you take several shots and the probability of getting a great shot will be increased.

Filters for close up shots

There are filters for close-up shots available with almost all manufacturers, which you can purchase separately and fix to your lens. These help in magnifying the subject and let you experiment with different strength choices. They are not expensive and can be fixed easily. But remember that a thick lens can also block light via the lens, which can affect the shot.

Extension tubes

These actually contain a ring, which attaches the lens and the camera body. The tube helps in focusing more effectively. Fine details, like in the case of the log table I had to focus on, the intricate design and shape of the structure would come with precision. The artiste said that the different types of log splitter used determines the shape of the log.

There are several other possibilities that can be tried out to get the best ever close up shots. I try to vary the exposure, focus and other details to get a more detailed and awesome shot, which is even better than the real thing. Knowing the finer points helps me to experiment as much as I can.

Top tips for wildlife photography

Top tips for wildlife photography

I’d been to Scotland recently on a short photo shoot with friends from my photography club. Scotland is filled with some dramatic and magical spots that you’ll be immediately entranced. While we were staying in the countryside, my friends heard about Scottish hunting and wanted to participate.

Armed with the necessary hunting equipment we headed out to the woods. I went along to take shots of their hunting prowess. Scotland with its hunting traditions is certainly the right place to get the best hunting experience.

Capturing shots while on a hunting trip is quite difficult, needs lots of patience, and is similar to wildlife photography or more complex. I’m often asked on what to carry and how to get more from less equipment. Here are some tips for amateur photographers.

  • Before you head out into the woods enquire about the weather condition, and if you expect rain you should have a rain cover for your backpack. Take care to protect eh photography gear always. Keep dry bags or zip lock bags to protect the gear.
  • Have a fully charged additional battery along with memory cards. With hunting, hiking or camping in the woods, you never know when the battery runs out.
  • Use gig cards preferably 4 to download the photos easily to a hard drive or DVD.
  • For taking landscape and mountain shots, use the landscape setting which is present in most of the digital cameras available now. This setting will give you a better focus with sharp pictures for both far away as well as near objects.
  • In case you use a DSLR type of camera, avoid carrying too many lenses. One or two is sufficient as these are heavy and can make you tired easily. Keep the second lens protected properly in a case and well cushioned in your backpack. A zoom lens and wide-angle lens is what I carry mostly and these 2 are sufficient mostly.
  • And refrain from framing an object or person in the centre of the shot you are taking. The rule of thirds should be followed in natural settings to get better looking and real pictures.
  • And sometimes the scenery behind you would be more spectacular than what is before you. So remember to turn around and view the scenery behind frequently, so you don’t miss out on enchanting shots.
  • While you keep clicking away, remember to download the photos and back them up preferably on day-to-day basis. This will be easy to catalogue. And before you download, delete the bad shots. If your camera has GPS feature it is easy for geo tagging and you can easily identify the spot where the pictures were taken. But GPS should be used carefully as it drains battery fast.
  • For quick shots of wildlife, rain etc. having a compact camera too would be handy. I always keep one in my bag where I can access it easily.

The hunting shots came out nicely and while I was having a whale of time taking the shots, my friends had great time hunting and the hunting tools they had, check out this site for more info, helped a lot in their successful hunting expedition.

Picturesque spots in Italy a photographer should not miss

Picturesque spots in Italy a photographer should not miss

It’s natural for a routine tourist to snap shots of the places he’s visiting. These shots serve as a way to remember those wonderful moments in time. While I’m on one of my official photo shoots, I often come across such enthusiastic tourists snapping away pictures either on their smartphone or with the latest model digital camera.

I’d been to Italy recently for shooting the best spots there. My client had wanted to bring out a calendar of the hot spots in Italy for the latest product their company was launching. While I was on the plane, I met a nice Italian businessperson who is crazy about photography and spends his free time indulging in his photography hobby. When he learned about my trip, he was delighted and helped me narrow down the long list of places I’d put together for the photoshoot.

There’s so much to Italy than what you know about it. From the cobblestone studded streets and sparkling seas, to medieval towers and church domes you get many photographic sceneries that overwhelm you easily. I’m glad I’d met the Italian businessman, so I could choose the cream of the most beautiful spots. And it spared me a great deal of energy, time and guess work. Prioritization I learnt pays off well in this historic and culturally rich country filled with natural splendour. Here are some of the spots you shouldn’t miss out on.

  • I started out with Rome as undeniably it has the best spots. The Coliseum is an architectural marvel that you’ll find hard to capture in a single shot. I shot from the Colle Oppio Park nearby for a better vantage point. Parco Savelli or Aventine Hill is the right place for a beautiful sunset picture. I had my reliable hiking boots with me so I’d a great time sightseeing and taking great shots. For early morning pictures I scouted the Trastevere neighbourhood that had some amazing ivy covered structures and archetypal courtyards with classy landscaping.
  • Venice is a magical place that displays unique Italian flavour. The city built entirely on water has a host of enchanting gondolas. I’d a great time riding in them and took some spectacular shots of Venice from these Gondolas. The Accademia Bridge, Sestiere of Castello and Burano village are some of the places that have breath-taking views.
  • The Naples and Amalfi Coast has a vivid coastline that any photographer would love to capture. The lively streets, seaside castles and smouldering volcano make a heady mix of authentic Italian atmosphere that is truly a wonderful experience to behold both for the naked eye and through the camera.
  • Tuscany and Florence serve to showcase the traditional Italian architecture with the awesome church domes, vivid black and white mosaics and the entrancing bridges. The Val d’Orcia in Tuscany is your typical vacation spot with its blooming sunflowers, bordered by cypress trees and hilltop castles.

I confess I sometimes forgot I had my camera with me with the breath taking views I came upon. Tourists would have a difficult time limiting their shots and would run out of space or film in their cameras with the amount of views you get to see here.

A Karaoke Break

A Karaoke Break

I travel a lot in my line of work, moving to different cities, countries and even continents across the world gives me plenty of opportunities to take some breathtaking shots just while I’m in transit, too. But like everyone else I’m sure, I do like to get up and stretch my legs after a long bus, boat or plane trip. Recently I was in Japan for a project and I have to say, that’s quite the place to stretch one’s legs. The bigger cities, like Tokyo, never seem to sleep – they’re as lively in the middle of the night as they are around noon.

I was actually there on business, to get some captivating images of that lively night life I described above. I don’t know what it is about flashing lights, neon and low light, but they turn the heads of people and demand attention when they are seen. Naturally, to get these late night images, I had to be up and working after the sun had gone down. I’m not used to such hours to be honest, and after finding my feet aching from walking up and down the streets with my head tilted toward the sky, I decided to step into one of the man buildings for a bite to eat.

What I got was more than just food; it was a kind of karaoke break since, by luck, I happened upon a karaoke bar. There was good food, good drinks and even some good music too, despite the fact most of the men and women singing had already imbibed a bit much. It’s amazing to me how popular music from the United States is in Japan and I heard plenty of songs from the other side of the world, mixed in with more localized fare as they were. It was a display about as colorful as the sign-lit night outside and I did enjoy myself.

I even managed to get a few pictures of some of the patrons while I was there, and that brings something to my mind I feel like I ought to share. There are different laws about public photography in different countries and different parts of the world. It could be illegal to take pictures of people, places or things without consent, either verbal or written, depending on where you are. For instance, throughout Central America, taking unsolicited pictures of children throws up a lot of red flags and brings up concerns over crimes like kidnapping.

I’m not saying everywhere is unsafe for photography, but that if you find yourself in the middle of a strange place with a camera dangling from a loop wrapped around your neck, you might want to figure out where you are and how they feel about photography before you start taking pictures. You might be somewhere attitudes are easy, a place where you could have a meal and get a couple good shots of people having a good time; you might be somewhere else where your camera could land you in a cell.

Real Estate Photography

Real Estate Photography

Sometimes I’m not looking for the best light in which to catch a person’s portrait, or amazing sights around the globe which are inherently worthy of being photographed. Sometimes I’m just taking pictures of homes or buildings around town to make a little extra money in the real estate business. Realtors are always looking for flattering photos of the properties they want to sell and sometimes I take a little piece of that pie. All the concepts and principles behind professional photography are still necessary for this kind of work – lighting, angles, time of day, filtering, lens quality and other factors all matter.

The last home I took pictures of happened to have a pool and that was where the realtor wanted me to get a number of my shots; from some angle including a view of the pool. The building itself was two floors tall, so I was able to get a number of aerial style shots showing off the backyard from up above. Of course, there is much more about any house which you must show with pictures to give viewers an accurate image. The bathrooms, bedrooms, kitchen, dining room, living room and basement storage space all needed pictures, several at that.

Overall, the job took between two and three hours to finish. It involved getting multiple images of every aspect of the home, then going through the pictures I’d taken to look for the best in each particular set. I won’t say it was as exciting as some of the work I’ve done, but it’s nice at times to get down to the nitty gritty so to speak. It is photography, pure and simple, and that’s probably why I enjoy doing it so much, even if the subject matter can get, well, repetitive. While the job wasn’t very exciting, it also wasn’t very difficult, which was a nice change of pace.

Getting back to the point I’m trying to make, we rely on photography a lot, every day. It’s something many of us take for granted but when you consider we are visual creatures who rely on our eyes more than any other sense we possess, that we take it for granted in the first place is not very surprising. Visual aids can help regardless of what you’re trying to explain to a person. Do you want to describe the interior of a home, or the appearance of a beach, or the makeup of your last evening meal? Often, pictures relate information better than even words can.

That’s not to say there aren’t some compelling writers out there – there are those who can paint pictures with their words still more vivid than something literally painted by another. But, as a people, we do all rely on our eyes more than other senses. I suppose that’s why photography is such a popular way to pass time. I mean, it’s easy enough to understand why there are so many amateur photographers out there when we can all see, right? Anyhow, hopefully my next project is something a little more intensive.