Photographic Education

Learning scenarios for photographers.

Copyright Law: Understanding Your Rights as a Photographer

In the age of social media, a clear understanding of your rights as a photographer is crucial to receiving the credit you deserve. But with so much information out there, you might find yourself asking:

  • What laws are in place to protect photographers like me?
  • What do I do if someone uses my photo without permission?
  • How long do photographers have ownership of their images?

Here you will find an overview of what copyright law is and how it impacts your photography business. We’ll also take a look at the downloadable copyright resources and copyright infringement tools available to PPA members.

What is Copyright?

Copyright law in the United States prohibits the unauthorized copying of a “work of authorship.” In 1988, the following amendment was added to address visual works including photography:

“Pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works” include two-dimensional and three-dimensional works of fine, graphic, and applied art, photographs, prints and art reproductions, maps, globes, charts, diagrams, models, and technical drawings, including architectural plans. Such works shall include works of artistic craftsmanship insofar as their form but not their mechanical or utilitarian aspects are concerned; the design of a useful article, as defined in this section, shall be considered a pictorial, graphic or sculptural work only if, and only to the extent that, such design incorporates pictorial, graphic, or sculptural features that can be identified separately from, and are capable of existing independently of, the utilitarian aspects of the article.”

Phew. That’s a mouthful of legalese! So what does it mean in English? Basically, copyright law says that when you take a photograph, you become the copyright owner of the image created. This means you hold exclusive rights to:

  • Reproduce the photograph
  • Display the image in a public space
  • Distribute the photo
  • Create derivatives of the image

Seems straightforward, no? But what’s considered a “derivative?”

A “new version” of a work that is already copyrighted falls under the term of a “derivative” work. Special re-edits of movies, art reproductions, and literary translations all qualify as derivatives. A film based on a book or play is another common example.

In the realm of photography, any time someone creates a photograph that is a copy or “substantially similar” to another copyrighted work, they are potentially infringing upon the original owner’s rights.

By comparing and evaluating a derivative work to the original, a court of law can determine if any copyright laws have been violated. In other words, a photographer who went to great lengths to recreate an original work’s composition, lighting, and other creative elements would be more likely to be found guilty of copyright infringement than a photographer who simply takes pictures of subjects that already exist in other photos (i.e., monuments, nature). This means many different photographers can take photos of, say, the Golden Gate Bridge without infringing on each other’s artistic rights.

If you suspect your image has been used without your permission, use PPA’s copyright infringement tool to help you determine your next steps.

Mercedes Benz & Detroit’s Eastern Market Murals

In addition to looking out for your own rights, you as a photographer need to be aware of ways you may unknowingly infringe upon another artist’s rights. The last thing you want to do is misuse another creative’s work!

Take for example Mercedes Benz’s 2018 ad campaign featuring the company’s new vehicle “barreling through Detroit’s boho Eastern Market district past commercial buildings painted with vibrant murals.” Cool concept, no doubt. But the artists who created those murals that contributed so much color and atmosphere to the campaign were never asked permission to use their work, let alone credited:

“While Mercedes sought municipal permission to make beautiful shots of its vehicles on public city streets, it did not seek the muralists’ permission to make and post images of their works on Instagram. Copyright infringement? Mercedes thought not. The muralists—James Lewis, Jeff Soto, Maxx Gramajo, and Daniel Bombardier—thought otherwise.”

Read the full story at PPmag.com. The Mercedes Benz ad campaign is important for two reasons:

  1. It shows the importance of being aware of how others’ work appears in your photographs
  2. It serves as an example of how your work may be misused

The exception to copyright law is when the reproduction of a photograph or visual work is deemed “fair use.” The next section digs deeper into this term.

Fair Use

Fair use is an exception when it comes to copyright law. Journalism, critiques, research, and teaching materials are examples of specific types of writing that allow the reproduction of copyright-protected works without the permission of the “author”.

For example, if you exhibit your photography in a gallery, an art publication generally does not need permission to reproduce your image if they’re using it as part of a critique. Or, conversely, a newspaper may publish photographs of works and use them as part of an article. Both of these are examples of copyrighted work being used under “fair use” guidelines.

When considering whether a reproduction of a work is fair use, the U.S. Copyright Act says “the factors to be considered shall include whether:

  1. The use is of commercial nature or if it is for nonprofit education purposes
  2. The copyrighted work is highly creative or if it is fact-based
  3. Part of the entire original work was reproduced or just a part of it
  4. The reproduction reduces the value of the original work or has no effect

One important thing to keep in mind is that social media marketing’s use of images very rarely falls under “fair use.” If your photographic work is being used without your permission, check out the resources from PPA below for help determining if you need to take further action.


Resources

Remember: If a company uses one of your images in their marketing—on social media or otherwise—without your approval, they are violating your rights as a creator. So, what do you do if you suspect your work of being used without your permission? PPA has resources to help you understand copyright law, and even a Copyright Infringement Tool to leave no question in your mind whether or not your rights as a creator have been violated.

Protecting your work is vital to your success as a photographer. For more PPA resources, click here. 



Sources:
https://ppmag.com/news/photographers-should-be-cautious-about-using-murals-as-backdrops
https://blog.hootsuite.com/understanding-image-copyright/
https://www.legalzoom.com/articles/what-are-derivative-works-under-copyright-law
https://copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html


 

Five spectacular subjects for springtime photography

By Jamie Carter

From a sea of blue flowers and pink blossom to new life and an uptick in celestial activity, spring brings photographic opportunities galore

Flowers in bloom. Rushing waterfalls. The birth of new life. After a long winter, the beginning of spring is the ideal excuse to dust off your camera and get creative outdoors.

Nature comes alive in spring, with the longer days and warming temperatures leading to colorful sights such as wildflower displays and cherry blossoms, young animals frolicking, and even a little-known uptick in ‘space weather. Here are some of our top tips for taking full photographic advantage of the change from winter to spring…

Bluebell woods

Bluebell forest, taken at sunset in Micheldever Woods in Hampshire. Photo by Stuart Rouse – f/14 | 1.6s | ISO 100Micheldever Bluebells

A carpet of bluebells is an evocative image of spring, but like cherry blossoms, the season for capturing bluebells is short and sweet. They flower in April and May in the UK – home to over half the world’s bluebells – so you’re only going to get a short window to visit a bluebell wood to photograph them.

Although it’s a classic spring shot, bluebells can be tricky to capture. The options are endless. A wide-angle lens will help you create a dreamy scene, though you’ll need a very thick carpet of bluebells for that to work well. A telephotos lens can help you zoom in on a section of bluebell growth for a more luscious look. You can also attempt some macro shots of the flowers themselves. Close-ups are best done after rain when you can see droplets on the flowers, but you’ll likely have to be very patient because even a breath of wind can make a macro shot very difficult. 

Author tip:

Be really careful when in a bluebell wood because the flowers are very sensitive despite being perennials; they take many years to colonise a wood and if you stand on one it’s likely to die. So stick to paths and if attempting macro shots be very careful where you put your feet. There are actually two types of bluebells in the UK; the sweeter smelling British bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) and the less scented Spanish bluebell (Hyacinthoides hispanica).

Three lambs running across a field. Photo by Kieran Metcalfe – f/6.3 | 1/1000s | ISO 1250

Lambs gamboling in meadows and ducklings following their parents across streams and rivers; both are classic springtime photos, but they’re not particularly easy to get. A mistake a lot of casual wildlife photographers make is standing up. For a more interesting point of view crouch down to the eye-line of the animal. That way you’ll get a more natural-looking shot.

What lens to use depends on how far away the wildlife is, of course, but count on at least a mid-telephoto lens such as 300mm. Once you’re in position you have another problem because young animals move fast! So you have two choices; use a really fast shutter speed to make the animal sharp (but the background likely blurred) or a slightly longer shutter speed – and a smaller lens aperture – to keep both the subject and the background reasonably sharp. Exact settings will depend on your lens. For ducklings, go near sunset for more chance of activity and both reflections and silhouettes. For lambs, try to capture them in mid-gambol and be careful not to oversaturate their pure-white wool. 

Author tip:

There are ethics to consider before you stake-out a young family of animals to photograph. The golden rule is never to disturb wildlife, and that applies as much in your local park or a farmer’s field as it does when on safari. Firstly, don’t wear luminous or garish clothing. Secondly, keep as still as you can. Thirdly – and perhaps most importantly – don’t get too close to them. Your focus should be on making yourself as invisible as possible. That way you won’t disturb your subject and you’ll also get more natural behaviour.

Cherry blossoms

Cherry blossom in Kyoto, Japan. Photo by Yuval Shoshan – f/4.5 | 1/100s | ISO 100

The sudden flowering of cherry trees is a sure sign that spring has sprung. Incredibly photogenic, you’ll find the beautiful, fleeting pink blossom across the world everywhere from Europe and Asia to North America. Surely one of the more iconic places to head to photograph cherry blossoms in Japan, where the sakura tends to bloom from the last week of March until the middle of April.

The fleeting flowering of the country’s thousands of cherry trees is a national obsession and there’s even a blossom forecast on the TV to track the blooms from south to north as spring unfolds. The most popular, and therefore most crowded, places to capture the sakura are Kyoto’s Philosopher’s Walk canal, Osaka’s Okawa River, and Tokyo’s many urban parks, though it’s much quieter – and just as impressive – in the southern state of Kyushu and even in South Korea, which have far fewer tourists. 

Author tip:

Since blossoming cherry trees are so bright they tend to work really well as foregrounds in nightscape photography. Easily reflecting any ambient light or moonlight, they can work well against a starry background, and thus also as the centrepiece of a star-trails composite photo. In manual mode and on a tripod, put your camera in front of the cherry tree and set it to ISO 800, the lowest f-number your lens has, and use a 30 second exposure. Make adjustments then take the same image repeatedly for at least an hour (put your camera on continuous mode and use a shutter release cable in the locked position). Then use the simple and free StarStaX software to produce a drag-and-drop composite photo. 

4 Northern Lights

The northern lights dance above the lighthouse in Andenes, Norway. Photo by Chris Rohner – f/2.0 | 2s | ISO 1000

Not many people know that the aurora borealis – also known as the Northern Lights – are at their most intense around the equinoxes in late September and late March. It’s because the axis of our planet is perpendicular to the Sun, which makes its solar wind – the cause of the optical phenomenon – more likely to push charged particles down the field lines of Earth’s magnetic field.

However, before heading for 66-69° North latitudes (or thereabouts) to pray for clear skies in northern Scandinavia, northern Canada, or Alaska for March ’20s vernal equinox do check the phase of the Moon. Displays tend to be easier to photograph away from a full Moon. Once you’re there the manual photography side of things is simple; wide-angle lens, tripod, 10-25 second exposures, ISO 800-1600, and infinity focus.

Author tip:

If you’ve always wanted to photograph the Northern Lights then get ready to start planning. We’re now entering a once-a-decade period when they’re going to be at their most frequent and intense. That’s because we’re in a new solar cycle and the Sun is waxing towards ‘solar maximum’, which will probably occur in mid-2025. The Sun has a 11 years cycle, with solar maximum being when the most sunspots are seen on its surface. That means more charged particles being hurled at Earth’s magnetic field, so more Northern Lights.

5 Waterfalls in full flow

The wonderful Buachaille Etive Mòr with the tumbling Coupal falls on a perfect spring day. Photo by Douglas Ritchie – f/16 | 4s | ISO 200

Like a lot of spring subjects, timing is everything if you want to capture a waterfall at full throttle. That’s mostly likely after heavy rain, of course, but there’s something else you want if you want to create that classic ‘milky’ motion. Clouds. Since you’re going to have to use a long exposure – between a second and two seconds – it massively helps if there is no direct sunlight on the waterfall, which instantly over-exposes your shot.

On a dark day, you can get away with stopping down your aperture (using a bigger f/ number) or using the shutter priority mode on your camera, and even using a circular polarizer. All will reduce the amount of light coming into your camera, but the easiest technique is to use a 1-stop or 2-stop Neutral Density (ND) filter, which lets you increase the exposure time.

Author tip:

If you want to capture something special alongside a waterfall then head for Skógafoss on the Skógá River in the south of Iceland. This 60 metre waterfall is south-facing, which means three optical phenomenon are possible; rainbows (and even double rainbows!) in its spray, the Northern Lights behind it at night (best seen between September and March), and Moonbows or lunar rainbows when a full Moon is low in the sky. If you’re really lucky you can get the latter two together!

Jamie Carter is a journalist and author focusing on stargazing and astronomy, astrophotography, and travel for Forbes Science, BBC Sky At Night magazine, Sky & Telescope, Travel+Leisure, and The Telegraph.

Jamie Carter

Ideas for Getting out of a Creative Rut

by Karen Foley

They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. I mean look at Groundhog’s Day. Every year furry aficionados gather on Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania in the freezing cold at sunrise and look to a cute little rodent named Phil to tell them if there will REALLY be 6 more weeks of winter. Trust me folks, regardless of what Phil wants you to believe, there is still 6 weeks left of winter, and nothing he says or does is going to change that!

As photographers we have a tendency to fall back on our favorites too – a favorite lens, a favorite subject, or a favorite style of shooting – and then we cannot understand why our art is not growing and evolving as fast as we would like.

To break free of the creativity hamster wheel (get the rodent reference?), use this Groundhog’s Day to try something new to spur your artistic growth.

Imitation is flattery

We all want our art to be original, but the idea of finding inspiration from the past is an age-old tradition. Every art student studies art history and is encouraged to go to museums to view and even sketch masterpieces of old. Use that same concept to study other photographers to hone your skills and gather some inspiration.

Look here on Dreamstime.com at the Editor’s Choice area, or choose your favorite topic and sort by best selling images. Study your favorite pictures and ask yourself:

1)What is it about this image that I like? This could be the composition, lighting, color scheme, special effects, etc.

2)How can I use that in my next image?

3)How could I recreate this image?

4)What would I like to do differently to this image?

5)How could I cover the same topic in a completely new way?

Enter Assignments

Every month Dreamstime.com hosts a new assignment focusing on a different topic or theme for stock photos. Challenge yourself to cover every single assignment from as many different angles as possible – you have up to 10 entries in each contest. Then go back afterwards and look at how others covered the same topic – see which ones won and look at those that were voted highly by the contributor community and ask yourself the same questions as above. If you have the time, try your hand at recreating your images using the answers you glean.

Challenges

Speaking of challenges, try your hand at a 365-52-12 challenge this year.

365 Day Challenge is just what the name implies. Challenge yourself to take a picture (or video or illustration) a day for 365 consecutive days. Some people have taken this to mean take a picture of the same place/theme/topic everyday, while others take it to mean just create an image of SOMETHING everyday.

A 52 Week Challenge takes a little of the daily pressures off while still providing a creative jolt to the system. In this challenge, you have a new theme every week designed to motivate you to shooting or drawing.

Dogwood Studio has created a 52 week challenge that can be started at anytime during the year. Choose the original version, or the advance challenge or combine the two to meet your own needs.

Or make up your own list of weekly themes entirely. Shoot a single image, a series of images over a few days, our use this as your guide to shoot daily around one theme or topic for a full week.

Create your own 12 month challenge. Having a full month to cover each different theme allows for lots more time to develop and explore the theme or concept. Google the topic of 12 month photography challenges to get a suggested list of themes – or make up your own.

Every month has one or more holidays, falls within a season, is either hot or cold, will have food/drink specific to that time of year, etc. etc. etc. Anything can be used as your monthly theme. Try shooting through out the month to tell a more complete story. See how creatively you can cover one single topic or theme.

Exercises

Creativity is a lot like muscles in your body – the more you use it the stronger it will get. So set up a schedule to try one or more of these creativity exercises on a regular basis.

1)Take 12. Stand in one spot and take 12 unique images of what is around you without moving.

2)Take 10. Choose one small object and take 10 unique or abstract images.

3)Take 4. Shoot one subject framing it in each of the four corners of the image without moving locations.

4)Make it artificial. Try restricting yourself to shooting for a week (or day or month) with a lens, or in a location, or at a time, or using a composition style, or any other restriction you can think.

5)Shoot a roll. Limit yourself to shooting only a “roll of film” (24 or 36 exposures) during any outing.

6)Take baby steps. Choose a number of steps (5,10,100) and shoot one picture for every step you take.

7)Take your subject. Take the same object to different locations and see how creatively you can shoot it.

8)Use a Favorite. Recreate your favorite photo. Or take a photo from an ad or a magazine and see if you can recreate it exactly.

9)Shoot only B&W.

10) SOOC. Shoot only straight-out-of-camera without post processing to force yourself to control all the aspects of the image in camera.

Hopefully one or more of these ideas can get your creativity juices flowing again for this Groundhog’s Day and beyond.

Photo credits: Gow927Karen FoleyKeantian.

10 tools to improve composition in your photography.

SmugMug

SmugMugFollowingSep 9, 2020 · 5 min read

Have you ever taken a photo, certain this one will be a masterpiece, only to find your final shot doesn’t convey the power, emotion, or story you hoped it would? There are lots of factors that contribute to a photo’s impact, but one of the biggest is photo composition.
What is photo composition?
Composition in photography is defined as the visual arrangement of elements in your photo. Believe it or not, there are better and worse ways to compose a photograph based on how we see and interpret color, light, and shape.
Let’s consider your photo from the introduction: Each element to create your masterpiece may be in the frame but, for some reason, the finished photo doesn’t have the impact you wanted it to. It could be that certain objects within the frame are distracting your eye from the main subject. Or maybe a misplaced line is leading your eye away from the focal point of your photo. Perhaps a particularly dark or bright feature in your photo is overwhelming the rest of your image.

Photo composition takes all these factors into account. By learning a few simple rules of composition, you can make sure your next shot is a masterpiece.

Before we get to the tools, though, let’s clear up one point of common confusion: photo composition versus composite photography. Composite photography is taking multiple images and layering them into one. Photo composition is how you capture or arrange elements within a single shot. Composition plays a big role in composite photography, too, but we don’t want to get too in the weeds here. On to the tools!

Composition in photography is defined as the visual arrangement of elements in your photo. Believe it or not, there are better and worse ways to compose a photograph based on how we see and interpret color, light, and shape.

Unlimited Photo Storage

10 tools for better photography composition.

  • The rule of thirds: How you line up your subject in the frame plays a huge role in how visually interesting your photo is. One of the most common rules in composition is known as the rule of thirds. Imagine a grid that divides your photo into nine equal sections. Using the rule of thirds, your focal point should be placed around one of the four spots where these lines intersect, or along one of the horizontal or vertical lines. This helps you establish a balanced image that’s pleasing to the eye. Many cameras have the ability to display a grid while shooting, which should help you keep the rule of thirds in mind.
  • Negative space: Negative space is the space in your photo that isn’t occupied by your subject. Depending on what you’re shooting, you may want to fill the frame and leave as little negative space as possible (keeping the rule of thirds in mind!), or use lots of negative space to your advantage to simplify your photo and focus on your subject. Pay attention to colors and brightness with this technique: contrasting colors and light levels will emphasize your subject far better than similar tones.
  • Frames: While the edges of your photo naturally frame your subject, you can add some extra impact by including more structure and visual interest in your framing. For example, when photographing architecture, look for pillars, archways, posts, or other elements that you can use to frame your subject. When taking landscape or wildlife photos, trees, branches, and other plants can serve the same purpose, putting your viewer into the shot and adding an element of mystery or exploration.
  • Lines: Lines in photo composition are used to guide the eye of your viewer, drawing the eye to a focal point. Lines can also contribute to the feeling your image evokes. Horizontal lines can convey stability, like the horizon in a landscape. Diagonal lines often convey motion or distance, especially when they converge (think of a road going off to the horizon). Vertical lines are excellent for imbuing your image with height, structure, and grandeur (trees, architecture, etc.). When shooting, note the relation of your frame and your lines, and try to be intentional about the way you use these lines to your advantage. Does that powerline lead the eye away from your subject? Is that road cutting across your frame where it shouldn’t be? Maybe find another vantage point to eliminate unwanted lines.
  • Focus: This one is simple: It’s important not to have too much distraction from your main subject. While your photo may have more than one focal point (or a broad focal range), if there’s too much going on the viewer may feel lost. Make sure your focal point is clear and uncluttered.
  • Juxtaposition: This composition technique uses two elements that contrast each other, often to draw a comparison between the two. Sharp and soft, happy and sad, tall and short, light and dark, near and far — the options are endless and can make for a much more interesting photo than either subject on its own.
  • Symmetry: There are times when the rule of thirds isn’t your best option. When the subject has exciting details that are symmetrical, you can place your subject in the center of your frame to excellent effect. For example, an ornate staircase, a path through the woods, or a reflection on a still body of water can make a great subject if you want to play around with symmetry.
  • The rule of space: When your subject is traveling or facing a certain direction, give it some room to breathe! The rule of space refers to the amount of space in your frame given to the direction that your subject is traveling or facing. For example, if you’re photographing a car driving from left to right, you may want to have more space on the right side of your photo than the left to keep your image from feeling cut off.
  • Patterns: Repeating or otherwise visually appealing patterns can make for a beautiful photo. Pay attention to the lines, symmetry, and directions when composing your photo and make sure the pattern highlights or points to your subject.
  • Odd numbers: When you’re composing a photo, it’s more visually appealing to have an odd number of elements than an even number. The theory behind this is with an even number of elements, the viewer has trouble choosing what to focus on. This same rule is often used in decorating.

While all these tools may seem daunting if you’re first starting out, once you begin to practice them they’ll start to become second nature. Keep these in mind when shooting, and watch your photography skills grow — then experiment! Once you have a handle on photo composition, intentionally breaking a rule or two can give your photos even more impact.

What do you do to improve the composition of your photos? Leave a comment below or share with us on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook.

Photoshop VS Gimp VS Affinity Photo, Which is Right for You?

 Blog by Wisconsinart

A common question photographers ask is which photo editing software is best. Well-known applications are Photoshop, Gimp, and Affinity Photo. Factors are a combination of cost, level of editing functions needed, and to some degree, personal preference.

Virtually everyone is familiar with Photoshop and many dislike the subscription fee though it can be as low as $9.99/month. Photoshop is extremely powerful and even high-level professionals do not need or use everything the software is capable of. Having a multitude of functions at your fingertips is an enticing reason for getting Photoshop because you never know when you might need to take advantage. However, the $9.99/month can be a lot for the casual photographer.

The advantage to Affinity Photo is while it’s not as robust as Photoshop, it still is a powerful image editing package. The price is more than reasonable and it’s a one-time purchase. There is also an even lower-cost version that runs on an iPad. Affinity Photo can open Photoshop files so if someone sends you a PSD file, you will be able to open it and edit.

Gimp is an open-source application and free of charge, there is no cost to use it. It’s regularly updated, mostly by volunteer programmers. Gimp is extremely popular, primarily because of the cost and it is capable of performing professional-grade editing.

For the majority of photographers, either Affinity Photo or Gimp will suffice if cost is an issue. However, cost is not the only factor for choosing software. The time it takes to learn a complicated software package can also be considered an investment. Working with layers and performing high-level edits along with other advanced features can take years to learn. Photoshop has been around for decades and is considered to be the premier application among professionals, so it stands to reason that it will be around for a long time. Many software applications have succumbed to Microsoft products which has forced individuals and companies to start over when their software of choice was no longer available.

You also have to consider the support that is available. The internet has a virtually unlimited supply of tutorials on how to use photo editing software. There also are many different forums where users can ask questions and get help. As you may have guessed, most of these resources are going to be geared towards Photoshop. Finding a way to do something in other software packages or get an answer to a question may prove to be difficult for non-Photoshop products.

In addition, many universities and colleges have evening or weekend courses for Photoshop. Formal classroom training can be beneficial for many by having an expert user providing guidance and you can learn from other students by seeing what they’re doing and learning from the questions of others. Again, the advantage with these options is toward Photoshop.

In professional settings, Photoshop is going to be the norm. If you have aspirations for your photography to generate any kind of income or to work in settings with other professionals, you will need to speak the language of Photoshop.

As you can see, the advantages are great for going with Photoshop. Regardless, Photoshop is still not right for everyone. Affinity Photo and Gimp provide professional-level photo editing and if you’re a photographer who is not looking to move to higher plateaus, then a non-Photoshop product will be more cost-effective. This is a subject that is endlessly argued on the internet, but in the end, Affinity Photo and Gimp are the better products to use for certain individuals. But there is another option, too. Photoshop has a product called Photoshop Elements which is similar to Photoshop but is less powerful in what it can do. It can be purchased for a one-time fee. If you want to stay in the Photoshop world then this fourth option might be something to consider.

See also:

Tip of the Week: Better Photo Editing Apps

Tip of the Week: 8 GIMP Newbie Tips

Photo credits: Wisconsinart.

Autumn in New York

Featuring LINDSAY SILVERMAN

Tips and Tricks for Great Autumn Photographs

“I am very lucky to live in a place that has distinct changes of seasons. Once September hits, we start seeing a gradual shift from greens and blues to the rich and warm tones of fall: tawny brown, red, orange, mustard yellow. Autumn in New York is a wonderful place to observe the changing colors,” says Lindsay Silverman, senior product manager for the Nikon professional DSLR line.

Silverman, who has had his hands around a camera since 1974 in order to meet college course requirements, reasons he’s produced several tens of thousand images over the course of his career—from the U.S to Latin America, around Europe and throughout Asia. Loads of locales indeed, yet one of his favorite photo venues will always be New York. Silverman sat down to offer inspirational thoughts, while dishing up some autumnal pointers.

Where do you capture autumn’s finest?

I start by exploring what is within a few blocks of my house here on Long Island. There’s always something to catch my eye over the course of the day. I favor early morning light. It has a beautiful, yet soft quality that I really like. I also revisit locations several times to observe how things alter.

© Lindsay Silverman
Reflections in water can create painterly abstracts that show texture, form and shape.

Water draws my attention. It’s a medium that can dramatically change over the course of the day, most notably this time of year since the sun is lower in the sky. I like to frame images that clearly show reflections. I also seek to create photo abstracts that display lots of texture. If you are a DX shooter, I suggest lenses with focal length ranges from 18mm to 300mm. DX NIKKOR lenses are portable and versatile. For the FX photographer, I suggest going with wide to telephoto. My favorites include the AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm f/4G ED VR and the AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR. For traveling light, I recommend the AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 ED VR. All of these lenses allow ample compositional freedom.

© Lindsay Silverman
To intensify richness in the sky and help draw out textural variety and depth, consider an aid such as a Nikon circular polarizer filter.

What are some must-get seasonal shots?

Wide views that showcase nature are a must. Highlight the immense variety of tones and bluer skies; frame to convey a story. Also, a tripod and/or lens with VR image stabilization can reduce blur in your images. To intensify richness in the sky and help draw out textural variety and depth, consider an aid such as a Nikon circular polarizer filter. Fall brings dew to foliage, especially in the morning. I actually use my polarizer to help saturate colors when dew is present, or after the rain.

© Lindsay Silverman
I love how the sharp patch of trees frames the edge and that you observe the rock jutting out from the water. There is a pleasing contrast between the softness of the mist areas and the strong colors of foliage and nature.

Fall mornings can get chilly here, and as the air moves over a water source it often produces a low-hanging mist. Conditions such as this offer opportunity to create landscape views that contrast sharp to soft (branches and foliage against fog) and warm aside cool (harvest tones against steely liquid tones). When framing, consider building distinct levels within your depth of field. Here, I love how the sharp patch of trees frames the edge and that you observe the rock jutting out from the water. There is a pleasing contrast between the softness of the mist areas and the strong colors of foliage and nature. For ultra-wide views with a full frame camera, the AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED and the AF-S NIKKOR 16-35mm f/4G ED VR work well. For the DX-format, I suggest the AF-S DX NIKKOR 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED.

How do you frame an autumn image?

Nothing says, “It’s fall” better than harvest. Think pumpkins, gourds and wonderful apple pies observed at roadside stands. I’ll hop out of the car to photograph the display, and of course buy a pie. First to attract me is color; second is contrast and texture variety. When framing, pick a key element and be judicious about aperture setting. To really isolate the subject, shoot with a wide aperture that is anywhere from f/1.4 to f/4, depending on the lens. If you want the viewer to see more details, shoot at f/8 to f/16. Chances are you will be shooting handheld and close-in, so watch where shadows fall. Keep clutter out of the frame and consider any leading lines or curves that can outline.

Close-up and macro shots tend to put a lot of emphasis on a very small point in the frame, so focus and sharpness are important. Nikon cameras offer many options for point of focus determination. Some of the newer cameras really make it easy when using Live View, courtesy of the touch screen functionality.

© Lindsay SilvermanNothing says “It’s fall” better than harvest. First to attract me is color; second is contrast and texture variety.

© Lindsay Silverman
Make fall colors even more brilliant by setting the in-camera Picture Control to Vivid. A new favorite Auto White Balance setting of mine is “Keep warm lighting colors” which is perfect for taking pictures in the fall.

Rich and warm tones are everywhere in autumn. How do you make color pop in an image?

Make fall colors even more brilliant by setting the in-camera Picture Control to Vivid. Pay heed to the White Balance setting too. The Auto White balance on many Nikon models has evolved. In addition to the “Auto” setting, newer cameras permit you to select “Keep White,” which reduces warm colors. A new favorite of mine is “Keep warm lighting colors.” This setting makes a lot of sense for fall photography! You also have the option to set the white balance to Kelvin and apply a specific color temperature. I capture images as RAW (NEF) files. Working in RAW permits me to run files through Nikon’s Capture NX-D software, then play with the setting to see what I like best. Shooting in RAW and using Capture NX-D is a great way to learn more about photography and your camera. The software is a free download and offers many tools to help fine tune your images.

© Lindsay Silverman
Don’t overlook the obvious—when you see something that screams “fall”, get your camera out and start taking pictures.

No matter where you live or travel within the United States, the harvest season is a great time of year for photography. The light hangs lower in the sky and foliage turns dramatic. Not everyone resides in the Northeast, but I hope these few tips will help you create your best-ever seasonal photos. When setting out on your journeys, be sure to pack a camera.

FeaturingLINDSAY SILVERMAN

Lindsay is a former Sr. Product Manager, Pro DSLR for Nikon. Early in his career Lindsay served as general manager of Nikon House in New York City’s Rockefeller Center, where he hosted some of the world’s finest photographers as well as photo enthusiasts and photo writers, editors and educators from around the world. He has held technical, marketing and product management positions for the company, and for 19 years was a contributing writer, photographer and editor of Nikon World magazine.

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TOP 15 SITES TO SELL YOUR PHOTOS ONLINE

SEPTEMBER 20, 2014 curated article by: Elle-Rose,

I take a lot of travel photos (it comes naturally, being a travel blogger!) and I’m always thinking of ways that those photos can make me money. I love the photos I’ve taken, so surely other people would too?

Here I’ve put together a big list of websites where you can sell your travel photos online, some are big companies you’ll have heard of – others are smaller companies – that might make a better choice if you’re taking this on as a side project for extra ‘pocket-money’. Either way – these are all great places to sell your photos online – so get reading!

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iStock Photo

Sell your images through iStock Photo and you’ll earn a royalty rate of 15% for each download. There is also an option to become an exclusive contributor and earn up to 45% instead, which is pretty impressive. These website has a good community feel to it – there are lots of forums and group discussion, which really helps when you’re trying to figure out which of your photos will sell online better than others.

Art Storefronts

Learn how to sell photos online as fine art, and get your own eCommerce website with must-have features to increase your art sales.  This is a robust website platform for professional photographers focused on selling their images as art prints.  They provide first-class educational resources, and a step-by-step Success Plan to ensure that you follow best-practices.  You can print and fulfill your own orders, choose your own lab, or use one of their labs for automated print fulfillment (“print on demand”).  There is also a members-only forum where all customers share ideas, sales strategies, and receive guidance from industry experts.

TourPhotos.com 

If you work in travel, and want to make extra money from your photos – TourPhotos is a professional photography platform dedicated to tourism and activity companies. It will help you manage and deliver your tour photos (the photographs from your activities, excursions and attractions) to your customers. You will be able to choose whether to sell or make your photos available for free (SELL plan or GIVE plan). TourPhotos charges between 19% and 25% commission on your sales with zero fixed fees (if you decide to sell photos) or a 19$/49$ (pro/business) monthly fee if you decide to share your photos for free.
With its endless features and tools, TourPhotos guarantees you, your photographers and your final customers an extremely user-friendly, customisable and professional experience.

SmugMug

This website is a lot like an online gallery or portfolio – with the added benefit of being able to sell your photos online via the tool too. It’s great as it has two purposes. The first (of course) to sell your photos, the second – to make them look awesome. And you’re more likely to sell more photos online, the more professional and awesome you’ve got them displayed.  You can set your own pricing and you get to keep 85% of the markup – but that’s not all, as well as selling digital downloads, you have the option of selling prints and greetings cards too, which is good for those of us who want more selling options.

Unlimited Photo Storage

Alamy

On Alamy photographers earn a whopping 60% royalty fee on any images they sell, so it’s easy to see why this website is such a popular choice when it comes to selling photos online. It’s one of the world’s largest stock photo libraries – so you’l have a fair bit of competition,  but maybe that’s a good thing and will help you step up your game!

Stockxpert

This is one of the smaller websites on the list, but still offers a great reach for beginners – so would make a fantastic option for anyone wanting to dip their toe into the world of selling photos online. The royalty isn’t too bad either – you’ll get 50% of the price of each photos you sell.

Dreamstime

Dreamstime is a microstock agency, and one of the best there is. Aside from being easy to use, it is well thought of and reputable too – which is just as important when making the decision of where to sell your photos online. Before you start selling, you’ll need to get your images approved by their editors (which can be a long process) but once you’ve been approved and you’ve got the hang of it, a rate of 25-50% royalty is yours for the taking.

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PhotoShelter

This is perhaps one of the more well known options on this list, and if you like the idea of selling your work (but at the same time want to retain complete control and pocket more of the profit – who doesn’t want those things?) you could consider setting up a professional photography website with built-in ecommerce from PhotoShelter. The PhotoShelter system is modern, and will make your images look beautiful.

Crestock

To start selling with Crestock, simply sign up to their website, follow through the easy registration process… and you’re good to go! They’ll give you 30% royalty, so once the images have been approved by staff you may be able to start selling images within the week!

Fotolia

I like Fotolia for its convenience, fair royalties and expansive market reach. Sign up and present your work to more than four million image buyers around the world, around the clock and you’ll notice your images start selling quickly and seamlessly. Each time one of your photos sell, you earn a royalty of between 20% and 63% of your sale, which is immediately added to your Fotolia account – which takes away any money hassles.

Shutterstock

Shutterstock is a highly ranking website which means it likely gets a lot of online traffic – perfect for making sure you sell your photos! Shutterstock also have an approval process in place – and you’ll have to submit ten initial images for approval before you can proceed with any others. But no fear! There are many online forums on their website where you can pick up hints and tips for getting this right first time. With Shutterstock you’ll earn between $0.25 and $28 each time an image of yours sells, depending on the licence.

123RF

With this site, their royalty structure is based on your contributor level, which is quite unique. It basically means, the more images you upload, the more you can earn – good news for anyone who plans to commit to this full-time. The amount you receive could rise from 30% up to 60% if you are particularly active on the site – so get started quickly and build up your reputation.

Can Stock Photo

Can Stock Photo offers photographers a 50% royalty fee which is great if you’re just starting out. Once you’re a member it’s easy to submit images and you can get going almost immediately.

Zenfolio

Zenfolio allows you to create a portfolio site of your work, a little like Smug Mug mentioned above. You can upload photos, create galleries, password protect galleries, and make your photos available for purchase – a great option for wedding and event photographers where you might make several sales off the back of one event. There is a 14-day free trial available if you want to give it a spin first.

Red Bubble

This is a more quirky one, but I wanted to include it! If your images are more VSCO and Instagram friendly – than studio lighting and fake smiles, you may find the audience on Red Bubble more interested in what you have to sell. They don’t just sell images, it’s all about the products too – so you could sell canvases with your images on, for example.

Snap Market

This is a bargain stock photo website, so the amount you’ll make will be less per image – but if people buy in bulk, it may end up equalising anyway. With a less strict submission process that other big names on this list, it may be a good option for anyone wanting to test the water.

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10 expert tips for improving your street photography

ByKav Dadfar

Street photography is one of the most popular genres for image-makers. But getting those striking photos isn’t always easy. These top tips will help you get the best results

Street photography is a genre that many will experiment with at some point in their photography journey, even if it’s not their principal subject of interest. It’s easily accessible for photographers of all levels, and provides ample opportunity to practice a wide range of photography skills and techniques. Great street photography has the power to evoke a range of emotions with the viewer, turn the environment around us into something extraordinary, and provide an unseen and intimate glimpse into the everyday life of others.

Saying this, capturing great photos within this genre takes time, patience, and above all, practice. So, to help you elevate your street photography–here are our top tips:

Travel light

One of the biggest advantages of street photography versus other photographic genres is that you do not need a lot of equipment for it. This is handy as you will be spending a considerable amount of time walking around looking for interesting scenes to capture. And you will generally be shooting handheld so those cumbersome tripods can stay at home, as can the bulk of your camera gear. 

Just pack your camera, mirrorless, smartphones and compact cameras are great for street photography as they are lighter and smaller than DSLRs (read more about different types of cameras here). Also consider a zoom lens – something like a 24-70mm or 24mm-105mm lens will be more than sufficient.

The only other accessory, besides a spare battery and memory cards, that might be useful would be a small LED light. This will help in low light scenarios by allowing you to illuminate your subject a little – instead of having to raise your ISO too high, which may impact the overall quality of your image. Read more about ISO here.

When it comes to street photography it is best to travel light. Compact cameras, mirrorless cameras and smartphones are ideal, as they are easy to carry around, more discreet, and much less cumbersome compared to larger cameras. Image by Grgrgrz

Get close and get over your inhibitions

Often street photography will involve people being in your composition, and to capture an intimate moment, it might mean taking a photo without the subject noticing. At other times your subject needs to be looking at the camera to help build that engagement in the photo. Either way, you will need to be close to your subject to get the best shot.

One of the most common issues encountered when practising street photography is shyness in approaching strangers to photograph, which might result in trying to take a photo from a distance with a telephoto lens, which won’t yield good results. If this sounds like you, the shyness will be a big hurdle that you need to overcome if you want to get better at street photography.

So how do you overcome your shyness? A task that I often set for my workshop attendees who suffer from this is to capture at least 3 head and shoulder portraits of strangers every day. This means they have to ask people which, when done enough, helps overcome that shyness. And in turn, you’ll find your street photography will become much more engaging.

You may need to get out of your comfort zone to get close to your subjects. But once you do, you’ll get much more intimate shots. Like this beautiful image of a mother and baby from Manila, Philippines captured by Edwin Tuyay

Learn to shoot from the hip

This is a useful technique for every street photographer to master – but especially for those who struggle with shyness. It involves just pointing the camera and shooting from lower down without looking at the LCD or through the viewfinder. The benefits of this technique are that your shots can feel more spontaneous and of course, people will be far less aware that they are being photographed.

But as you might imagine, without composing your shot properly through the viewfinder or LCD screen, the results will be very hit and miss. Sometimes you will capture a great photo, but you must accept that most of the time your shots will not work. Like anything, the more you practice the better you will become at using this technique.

Move your camera to your hip to get more discreet shots. With this technique you can get some great results–but it takes some practice. Without the assistance of the viewfinder or LCD to guide you, you’ll be relying on an element of luck to get the perfect shot. Image from Sven Hartmann

Make sure you’re ready

Good street photography will involve capturing fleeting or spontaneous moments. So, you need to be ready to shoot at any moment. That means your camera needs to be out of your bag, turned on with the lens cap off. You should also get into the habit of tweaking your exposure settings regularly based on the environment around you.

There are no universal settings for street photography as every scenario is different. But as a rule, I would recommend shooting in burst mode (when you hold down the shutter button on your camera to take multiple shots in rapid succession) as it’s extremely difficult to nail the perfect moment with one shot. Using burst mode, you can select the best frame later when you are editing your shots.

The other setting that you will find useful in most street photography scenarios is “continuous focus”. When enabled, if the shutter button is held down half-way the camera will continue to focus on the subject. This is vital when photographing a moving subject – as the point of focus will change every millisecond to stay on the subject.

With street photography it’s important to be ready to capture a moment in an instant. So make sure you have your camera out of your bag, turned on, and with the lens cap off. That way you’ll be ready when that serendipitous moment comes about–like with this stunning shot by Liviu Ratiu

Wait for the right moment

I refer to this technique as ‘setting a photography trap’. It simply requires you to find an interesting setting or location and wait for the perfect moment to take a photo. You could be waiting just a few minutes, sometimes a bit longer, and in extreme cases – hours!

See the visual examples below, the key is to try to pre-visualise the shot in your head, get your settings correct and wait for the perfect moment.


This shot wouldn’t have the same impact without the person in it – waiting for that moment with the shopkeeper is what has made this image by Niney Azman so striking
Places with street art can provide a great opportunity for photography. Photo by Michael Townsend
Choose a location and be patient–waiting will bring about the best moment for the shot. Image by Klaus Balszno

Look beyond eye-level shots

Every photographer is guilty of taking too many shots at eye level. You will be amazed how different your photos will look by simply raising your camera above your head or lowering it to the ground. Even just kneeling will give your shot a completely different perspective.

A lot of cameras these days come with a tiltable LCD screen that makes it incredibly easy and a lot more convenient to shoot at different angles. A good habit to get into is to take a variety of shots low to the ground, eye-level and above your head when you’re out with your camera. This will give you a nice range of images from different perspectives.

The lower angle for this shot adds an interesting dynamic to the scene. Image by David Young
It may be subtle, but moving the camera to above eye level (even just a little) can give your photos more unusual perspective. Image by Andrei Bortnikau
Lower your camera to the ground to find atypical angles for your subject. Image by Jean-Baptise Poupart

Simplify your composition

It is easy to fall into the trap of trying to include too much in your composition. In street photography, it is even more important to have a clear and defined story. This does not necessarily mean that you should have only one focal point in the shot. But rather to be aware of other elements in your composition that might be distracting to the viewer.

For example, if the main point of interest is in the centre of your shot, avoid distracting elements around the edges of the frame. Or if you are photographing a busy scene, make sure you have a clear point of focus for the viewer so that their eyes are not darting around the image.

The shallow depth of field in this shot by Gagan Sadana helps the main subject stand out against the busy background
Don’t be afraid to go minimalist with your shots–they can make a much bigger impact with the viewer. Image by Grgrgrz

Incorporate the urban environment

Photo opportunities for a street photographer are endless. There are just so many different variables that you can combine to make your photos unique. One of the biggest elements is the environment around you. Any built-up area will have interesting textures and features that can bring a photo to life.

Some of the best street photos are those that incorporate the built environment into the main story of the image. So be on the lookout for interesting scenes where you can combine the main subject of the photo with the surrounding environment.

The metal fence in this shot actually adds to overall composition of the photo. And the soft focus helps it not be distracting to the viewer–image by Ollie Kerr
The use of leading lines, created by the subway entrance, helps draw the viewer to the subject of the image. Image by Sven Hartmann
This image from San Sebastian by Rosie Andrews incorporates bold colours, lines and shapes in the environment around the subject which helps amplify the scene

Look for interesting light and contrasts

It is not just your subject and story that can elevate your street photos, but also the light and contrasts present in any scene. Street photography will naturally mean you’re taking photos in built up areas. This will present challenges in being able to control harsh light in bright and dark areas. But often you can use these contrasts to your advantage by making them part of your composition.

Like the examples below, if you are faced with a harsh backlit scenario, then look to capture silhouettes. If there is strong light and shadow across your scene, see if you can use it as a frame for your shot, or as leading lines to guide the viewer into other parts of the image. Strong contrasts also look great when converted to black and white

Conditions for silhouettes are a gift for street photographers and can create beautiful settings, as seen with this stunning shot from New York City by Dan Martland
Use strong shadows and contrasts to guide the viewer through your image. Here is a creative example by George Natsioulis

10 There’s no such thing as bad weather

One of the best things about street photography is that you are not restricted by changing weather and light conditions as you may be with landscape photography. In some ways, what could be considered ‘bad conditions’ is perfect for street photography. For example, overcast and rainy conditions are often the bugbear of landscape and nature photographers. But with street photography, these can be great conditions.

Muted light makes it much easier to manage your exposure, and the city streets after rainfall present tons of opportunities to capture reflections or interesting shots through rain-soaked windows (see the examples below). Even in harsh sunshine, you can utilise the shadows I talked about above to add an interesting element to your compositions.

 Bad weather is great for street photography – when it rains puddles and reflections provide an excellent opportunity to add an additional dimension to your shots. As seen with this stunning shot from London by Jackal Photography
Bad weather can add atmosphere to your shots, as demonstrated with this striking shot from Manchester, UK by Maria Panagiotidi

Next steps


Street photography is a great genre of photography to be involved in. Not only will you learn a lot of skills that will help you in whatever type of photography you specialise in, but you will also end up with some amazingly unique photos. By following these 10 tips above, you will find your images become much more striking, not just with street shots, but across many other photographic subjects too.


Kav Dadfar

Kav is a full-time photographer and author of 400+ articles. He is also a judge on the Wanderlust Magazine Photography of the Year competition and leads small group photo tours around the world.

Photography And Color

In the midst of this Travel Shut Down, I have been devoting my time to learning as much as possible about photography. My love of photography crosses a multiplicity of genre.

Whatever the genre, as a photographer we must address the big three; Light, Color, and Composition. For whatever reason my study of color has been limited.

While I am stuck at home I intend to increase my knowledge of this most important subject. The blog below from 500px Blog is my starting point. Check it out!

500PX BLOG
Color theory for photographers: An introduction to the color wheel

In 1907, Auguste and Louis Lumière presented autochrome—a revolutionary method for reproducing color in photographs. The world was stunned and enraptured. “Soon the world will be color-mad,” photographer Alfred Stieglitz wrote that July from Munich. “And Lumière will be responsible.”

We’ve come a long way in the last century, and we no longer need potato starch—the crucial ingredient in the autochrome process—to render color. But the power of color hasn’t faded over time; all these decades later, the world is still color-mad.

While you can find color theory in any painting classroom, it remains a somewhat overlooked field in the world of photography, so we’re devoting a three-part series of articles to examine colors and the relationships between them. This is just part one–an introduction to the color wheel–so keep an eye out for the rest in the coming months.

The Color Wheel

A color wheel is just a convenient way of visualizing the relationships between colors. The most common wheel used by painters is based on RYB color system–where red, yellow, and blue are the primary colors. Mix those colors, and you end up with secondary colors orange, green, and violet. Combining those results in one of six tertiary colors: red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, blue-violet, or red-violet.

Sometimes, however, photographers might use the RGB system–in which case, red, green, and blue are the primaries. Mixing these colors will create secondary colors yellow, cyan, and magenta. The RGB system also has six tertiary colors: orange, chartreuse green, spring green, azure, violet, or rose.

In this brief introduction, we’ll look at six easy ways photographers can use the color wheel and simple “color schemes” to strengthen their compositions. While photographers can certainly use the RGB system, we’ll rely on RYB for right now.

Monochromatic colors

A monochromatic color scheme uses one of the twelve colors on the color wheel with different tints, shades, and tones. You create a tint by adding white to your base color, a shade by adding black, and a tone by adding gray. Photographers can use these schemes to create harmony throughout a composition.

Puchong Pannoi’s photograph of the ancient city of Bagan in Myanmar has many layers, from temples to trees to a hot air balloon floating in the distance. While these elements could be distracting in the eyes of another photographer, Pannoi has brought them all together beautifully–with a little help from a monochromatic palette.

Monochromatic color schemes can often be bold. According to photography legend, Ansel Adams was once so displeased upon seeing one of William Eggleston’s most famous monochromatic photos that he remarked, “If you can’t make it good, make it red.” Fortunately, these days dramatic color is not only accepted but embraced–with stunning results. Take a cue from 500px Contributor Estislav Ploshtakov, and use it to make a strong impact.

Complementary colors

For a complementary color palette, use two colors on opposite sides of the color wheel. Complementary color schemes are well-suited for photography because they add contrast–resulting in pictures that “pop” off the page and screen. Here, Da Miane uses complementary colors green and red.

In this street photo from Singapore, Peter Stewart uses complementary colors blue and orange. No need for an overly complex composition–these colors catch our eye all on their own.

Split-Complementary Colors

In this variation on a complementary color scheme, you’ll select your base color, and then instead of using the color directly opposite, you’ll use the two colors on either side of it.

In this colorful photo, Claudio de Sat photographs the blue sky against the architecture of East Berlin’s Plattenbauten buildings. He then incorporates hues closer to red-orange and yellow-orange on the color wheel. The result is a striking and harmonious photo with a little bit less of the dramatic tension we’re used to seeing in photos with complementary colors.

Tetradic colors

A tetradic color scheme, sometimes called double-complementary, features a total of four colors, including two sets of complementary colors. Of the basic color schemes we’ll cover here, this one might be the trickiest to pull off–if only for the fact that it incorporates four colors.

This photo by Alena Haurylik does it brilliantly. By using two complementary pairs (orange-blue, green-red) in moderation, it succeeds in being both eye-catching and sophisticated.

Analogous colors

Analogous color schemes incorporate three colors that sit next to each other on the color wheel. Wildlife photographer Jonne Seijdel encountered this dazzling Rwenzori three-horned chameleon while traveling through the Rwenzori mountains in Uganda. In this photo, he was able to include side-by-side colors for a pleasing and dynamic result. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given this example, analogous colors are often found in nature.

When using analogous colors, photographers usually choose one dominant color and then use the others in a supporting role. Designers use what they call the “60-30-10 rule”–meaning that the main color (usually primary or secondary) takes up 60% of the space, while a supporting color (secondary or tertiary) takes up 30%, and the final color takes up just 10%.

This photograph by Jovana Rikalo, appropriately titled Orange Dream, features mainly the color orange, with red and yellow accents.

Triadic colors

A triadic color scheme comprises any three colors that are evenly spaced around the color wheel. Like complementary colors, these schemes are vibrant and full of contrast. In the majority of situations, these will be the three primary or secondary colors. 500px Contributor Sabrina Hb’s portrait of a woman and fruit in Colombia might be called Yellow, but those touches of blue and red on the woman’s dress complete the photo–giving it that extra “oomph” and vitality.

Designers generally recommend sticking to the three primary or three secondary colors for that “clean” look. Use too many tertiary colors, and you run the risk of a photo that looks muddy. This landscape by Gunar Streu is another perfect example of color done right because it uses the three secondary colors of the RYB color system: orange, violet, and green.

While color theory might be easiest to implement in the studio, these talented photographers remind us that photographers of any genre, from street to wildlife to architecture, can use it to their advantage. Color is a photographer’s playground. Experiment with different schemes, and see what works best for you. We’ll see you again in part two of this three-part series on color theory.

While color theory might be easiest to implement in the studio, these talented photographers remind us that photographers of any genre, from street to wildlife to architecture, can use it to their advantage. Color is a photographer’s playground. Experiment with different schemes, and see what works best for you.

Stay tuned for part two of this three-part series on color theory.

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How to improve your photography with the rule of thirds

Published by Feature Shoot  • 1 week ago

In his view, landscape paintings worked best not when sky and land were given equal weight, but when one or the other took up an entire two-thirds of the canvas. Contrary to popular wisdom, which favored the “formal half” or a one-to-one ratio, he wondered if the most appealing compositions, in fact, featured a different ratio altogether: one-to-two. 

In 1797, the engraver and painter John Thomas Smith, who worked as the keeper of prints at the British Museum, came up with a revolutionary theory. 

Smith’s theory predates the invention of the camera by about twenty years, but these days, we know it as one of the guiding principles of photography. Now, when we discuss composition, we still use the same term Smith coined all those years ago: the rule of thirds.

Once you understand this common photographic technique, you can learn to position your subject in any image so that the photo is both visually balanced and interesting to your viewers. In this article, we’ll explore the rule of thirds and how you can use it to your advantage.

What is the rule of thirds?

The rule of thirds is one of the easiest ways to experiment with your composition; it is simply a matter of placing the elements in your image so that each of them carries the proper amount of visual weight. 

Imagine you are looking at a tic-tac-toe board. Notice how the lines on that board create three distinct horizontal sections and three distinct vertical sections. There are also four points where the lines intersect. According to the rule of thirds, placing your subject along a line or point on this grid will create a more dynamic composition. 

You have the option to view a rule of thirds grid as an overlay in your DSLR viewfinder, and you can even look for a grid option in the camera settings on your phone. This can be helpful when you’re practicing the rule of thirds, but be wary of using it too much as it may interfere with your ability to visualize other compositions while you shoot. The best way to master the rule of thirds is to practice visualizing it in your mind.

How to use the rule of thirds

New photographers tend to put their subjects in the very center of the frame. While this can result in a strong composition under the right circumstances, it can also create static images that lack interest. 

This is partly due to the way our eyes view a scene: they naturally try to follow the lines and points on the grid, even when the grid is not visible. It’s also due to another compositional element: balanced asymmetry. Usually, your subject will already carry the greatest impact out of all the elements in your image, so it wields a lot of visual weight. By positioning the subject so that it takes up approximately one-third of the image, you’re leaving enough negative space to balance that weight.

In landscapes
Try aligning your horizon line with one of the two horizontal lines on the grid. This keeps your viewer’s eye from getting stuck going side to side. If the sky is distractingly bright, this is an easy way to balance that punch of brightness with the more muted detail in the land portion of your image.

In portraiture
The eyes are usually the focus of a portrait, so try to line up your model’s eyes along the grid to give them high visual exposure. For group portraits, use stools, steps, or natural height strategically to utilize different areas of the grid.

Some things to consider

The rule of thirds is a great “cheat sheet” for getting dynamic compositions out of almost any scene. However, it’s not always the best choice for every photo. If you’re shooting in one of the following circumstances, the rule of thirds might not be right for your image. 

You want something to have a larger-than-life effect
Platon is famous for his in-your-face portraits of celebrities and world leaders. You really get a sense of who they are, and for that kind of impact, the subject is the only thing that matters. Although some of his other work does use the rule of thirds, these pieces would only be hindered by it.

If you already use the rule of thirds too frequently
This rule is meant to stimulate creativity, not inhibit it. If you’ve come to rely heavily on the rule of thirds and notice that a lot of your work is looking eerily similar, it may be time to try something new.

You’re battling lens distortion
If you’re using a wide-angle lens, placing your subject in one of the outer thirds could cause them to appear too distorted. If that’s not the effect you are going for, switch lenses or switch photography rules.

The rule of thirds in post-processing

Sometimes we want a rule of thirds composition, but due to shooting circumstances, it’s not easy or possible on-location. If you’re shooting macro photography of insects, for example, you’re already using a lot of mental energy just to get the right point of focus before your subject moves on. In a situation like that, it can help to shoot just a little wider than you think you need. That leaves you room to crop for the rule of thirds in post-processing.

If you plan to do this, check your camera settings before you shoot. Be sure you are shooting in RAW and give yourself a nice, high-resolution file to work with so that you aren’t cropping away all of your image quality. Keep a copy of the original image in your backups in case you need to go back to the drawing board. 

If you simply want to enhance the rule of thirds effect, you can use an adjustment layer mask (or in Lightroom, an adjustment brush) to draw attention to elements that line up with the grid. You can add a little pop of saturation, enhance the brightness, or do some selective sharpening to draw attention to those areas.

Practice is all it takes to master this rule completely. Try setting up a dedicated shoot for this technique and see how many different compositions you can think of. When you walk around without your camera, try visualizing compositions from the things you see around you that follow the rule of thirds. You can also gain a lot of inspiration from finding examples of images that use the rule of thirds to analyze.

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