Category Archives: Practical Photography

How do you take those award winning pics…

Friday – Site/Blog of the Day – Stuck in Customs

Ok, so for my next site or blog of the day, I would like to introduce you to a really great blog about photography by a guy called Trey Ratcliff. His blog, stuck in customs,  is the #1 blog on the web on travel photography with about 350 000 views per month. So he is a serious blogger, but also a serious photographer. He has some really great stuff on his blog and I regularly check in to see what he is up to. Trey has a great HDR tutorial which, if you are keen on HDR, I suggest you read it. It makes sense and is pretty straight forward. More than that, go and visit his blog, regularly, he will inspire you to take better images…below is an image of his, enjoy…

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Getting it right – Exposure – Tip 2

To follow on from my last “getting it right” post we will continue looking at exposure. Please understand that I am really giving some basic tips about exposure, you can go into serious detail about exposure, in fact, whole books have been written on the subject. You can look at things like Ansel Adams Zone System (mostly applicable to negative film, but can be used in digital) this is a complex system, but can give some amazing results. Many photographers swear by light meters, which are great and add tremendous value, if you have some spare cash. Others will talk about a grey card, a less expensive solution, but will also work pretty well (If you arent sure what a grey card is let me know)

I am not going to debate the merits of each of these ways or measuring light, what needs to be said is that you need to choose a system that works for you and then make sure you use it.

How to control Exposure

We saw in the previous tip that you as the photographer need to control exposure. The best way to do this is to ensure that your camera is in Manual mode (See image below)

Yes, I know, you will HAVE to come Continue reading Getting it right – Exposure – Tip 2

Getting it right – Exposure – Tip 1

So here goes, the first of the getting it right series. I am going to discuss the theory and the practicalities of exposure, but firstly let me define what exposure means photographically. When I talk about exposure, I am talking about the amount of light that is enabled to fall onto photosensitive medium such as film (yes, some photographers still use it) or a digital sensor as found in digital cameras. Without getting too technical, Exposure is measured in Lux seconds and generally refers to a single shutter release. So, what that means is how much light was enabled to fall onto a photographic medium in one shot. Simple right, well, there are a few variables. The first is Shutter Speed, second is Aperture and then thirdly ISO settings. There are other variables to take into consideration, but thse are the key controls that you need to be aware of to make sure that you get the correct exposure. Continue reading Getting it right – Exposure – Tip 1

Quality not quantity

In this day of digital cameras and the cheapness of memory cards, it is easy just to “burn” through hundreds of pics and hope for the best. This is initially how I used to shoot and i was often disappointed with the results. I would get a few good shots but it was more “miss” than “hit”. Then I read an article by a pro digital photographer (whose name escapes me) who said that when he shoots, he imagines that he is shooting on film. The reason he does this is that he wants to get a higher crop of great images that he can use. This got me thinking and I made a conscious effort to be more deliberate about how I approached creating an image. It took a lot more concentration and certainly took a bit more time, but the results have been amazing. It has revolutionised my photography…my images are sharper (because I am a LOT more specific about WHAT I am focusing on) my images are better composed (I make an active effort to compose properly in camera and check the image on the screen afterwards, if I am not happy, recompose) My images are more dramatic, more colourful (because I am making sure my exposure is right the FIRST time) and overall my photography is much better. So try it, imagine that you only have 36 shots in you camera and NO PHOTOSHOP to fix a bad image. Photoshop should only be used to make a good image, superb. So, here are my tips to make some quick improvements to your images, they worked for me…

  • Exposure – make sure you exposure is correct. Use a grey card, use a light meter and learn to use your built in meter in your camera. By doing this, you will be sure that your exposure is correct and this is a very key part of getting things right
  • Composition – we all know about the rule of thirds, we all know about the golden mean (if you dont know, I am going to put some ideas down on these at a later stage) These are good rules and can really make a difference to an image, but you also need to know when to “break” these rules or when not to use them.
  • Focus – this is critical, you need to make sure that your subject matter is in crisp, sharp focus. Enough about this cannot be said. There is nothing worse than realising after you have taken the photo, that the camera was focused on the tree behind the bride and not the bride herself, trust me, it happens
  • Interesting subject matter – This goes without saying, your subejct matter must be compelling, if its not, then present the mundane subject in a new way (MORE about this too at a later stage)
  • Quality – this will be the combination of all of the above areas, if you get this right, your images will take on a whole new level of quality

Try this, I can tell you that it works, if all of these elements start working together, your images will be changed forever, remember less IS more, quality is the real differentiator.

Prime or Zoom?


A friend of mine is getting into photography and he asked me about some of the differences between the lenses that are out there. We then got into the discussion about the pro’s and cons of prime lenses. For me, there is no real debate, prime lenses are superior, no doubt about it. The build quality and the components are superior and the results are amazing. My favourite lens is my 50mm Nikon F 1.8. Take a look at the Flickr Nikon 50mm F1.8 group to get some idea of how good this lens is.

It truly is a great piece of kit. The images are sharp, the bokeh is superb and the overall colour rendition is beautiful. Also, it is small and compact, but it has become my staple

Continue reading Prime or Zoom?

Photo and Film Expo – July 10 – 12 Johannesburg

If you are a photographer or want to get into photography, then you cant miss this show. The Photo and Film Expo is going to be the first dedicated Photographic and Film show in SA. It has been organised by Matt Raven from Ivok (pronounced evoke) and all the latest camera equipment will be on show and you might have bring the BIG credit card along. It promises to be a fantastic event, you can even win a Nikon D3X at the show, that alone is worth going for. There will be live photographic demo’s workshops from photographers like Peter Hassall, Brett Florens, Robert Miller and many more. Of course, if you are new to photography and have just spent some serious money on a new camera, you need to know how to use it and the College of Digital Photography are going to be at the show too. The college specialises in training new and advanced photographers about every aspect of photography from taking the image to final editing processes in photoshop. So, get to the Northgate Dome from the 10th to 12th July, I will be there, hope to see you there too. Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Scott Kelby’s 2nd Worldwide Photowalk

So, what is a photowalk? Well, its a group of photographers, amateur and professional alike that get together and capture images of anything they feel is compelling enough. It takes only 2 hours and I am fortunate to be leading the Johannesburg Photowalk in this worldwide event and I think it is going to be amazing. For more info on the Photowalk, click here. Remember the walk is worldwide and is taking place in over 500 cities around the globe, so find the walk nearest your city, click on it and register. If it is full (there can only be 50 walkers) then maybe drop a comment to Brad Moore on the photowalk website. If you need more info, drop me a comment and I will see how I can help you…..