Saturday, January 9, 2021

A Year Ago on BYP: January

A Year Ago on Boost Your Photography is a twice-monthly post rounding up all the great content available on BYP that has been published during this same time of year, across the years. It's a quick way to catch up on content you may have missed, including seasonal and time-sensitive photography tips and ideas.

  • Boost Your Photography in the New Year. Great ideas for photography projects and resolutions to keep you shooting all year long. Find out about 365 projects, 52 weeks projects, the 100 strangers project, and more!
  • How to Freeze and Photograph Frozen Bubbles. This how to post walks you through the basics (and the difficulties!) of freezing and photographing bubbles. This is a great way to put a positive spin on your winter weather.

  • Then, take your knowledge of light a step further by Using Directional Light. Paying attention to the angle, direction, and quality of the light can make a huge impact in your images!
    • Series of Top 5 Posts. Check out these great collections of the "Top 5 Posts" across a range of photography styles and topics. Click on the images below to go to the full articles. 





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      Wednesday, January 6, 2021

      12 Days of DSLR Day 12: At-Home Photography


      Not sure how to push yourself and learn more about your DSLR while staying at home? Never fear! There are unlimited ideas of ways you can push your creative boundaries within the confines of your home. 

      Welcome to the 12 Days of DSLR! We’re revisiting and updating 12 of our most popular posts to give you the jumpstart on making the most of your DSLR camera. This series is aimed at first-time DSLR owners as well as those who want a little more guidance for how the make the most out of shooting with a DSLR.
       

      Day 12: At-Home Photography

      One of our most popular subsets of posts here on Boost Your Photography is our Inspired Ideas section - one-off articles about a particular style or type of photograph to try. Many of these were designed to be tackled at home or can easily be adapted for the indoors. 

      No Prep At-Home Photography Ideas


      Food Photography. Use these simple tips and tricks to create incredible photographs of food from home. 

      Photographing Interiors. Harness your inner decorator and make your home look dazzling with these interior photography tips.

      Shoot a Successful Selfie. Most of the examples from this post were ones I shot inside. A tripod and remote trigger are handy but not required. 

      Start a Photography Project in the New Year. This is a round up of several different photography projects to consider committing to for more long-term growth.

      Creative Christmastime Photography. Still have the lights or the tree up? (I definitely do.) Then you might enjoy some of these holiday-themed photography ideas. Practice for next year's Christmas card!

      Minimal Prep At-Home Photography Ideas


      Create Your Own Bokeh. Scroll to the bottom for ideas of bokeh shots using holiday lights. Then take it to the next step with Shaped Bokeh and 5-Minute Heart-Shaped Bokeh. What's not to love?

      Master the Heart-Shaped Shadow (in time for Valentines). Have a book and a colored filter or other large ring? Capture charming heart-shaped shadows in minutes.

      Fun with Fizzy Fruit Photography. These are so bright and cheerful, they make me smile. Have some sparkling water (or leftover champaign) to use? Then you're all set!

      Spoon Reflection Photography. Spoonflection! Spoon + paper (or a tablet) = mind-bending images.

      Water on CD refraction. Water + CD = amazing, colorful photographs!

      Droplet Refraction. These are super fun too. I used a piece of glass from a picture frame, some cups, and some leftover scrapbooking paper. The possibilities are endless.

      Slow Sync Photography. This unusual style of shot allows you to create ghostly and mysterious images without any post-processing.

      How to Photograph Ghosts in a Single Shot. While moody lighting is often easier outside, you can see an example shot indoors as well. Or, if you have access to Photoshop or other editing software, try this Spooky Levitation How To.


      Some Advanced Planning Required


      Foldable DIY Light Tent for Photography. One of our all-time most popular posts. You likely have all the supplies you need already - a cardboard box, tissue paper, and two desk lamps are the key ingredients. Endless opportunities for fascinating images and product photography shots.

      Easy Set Up for Formal Newborn and Kid Photographs. Get professional-style results from the comfort of your own bedroom or living room! I love my backdrop kit and use it for individual and family-style portrait sessions with adults and older kids too.

      5 Easy Tips for Better Sunrise and Sunset Photographs. Ok, this is stretching the definition of "at-home" a bit, but you might have just the right positioned window ... 

      How to Photograph Frozen Bubbles. This is more advanced-waiting then planning, but if you can get the right weather conditions, you're all set. (These were shot on my apartment's balcony, which qualifies as "at-home" in my book.)

      Check out the rest of the 12 Days of DSLR! 







      Want to learn more? Boost Your Photography: Learn Your DSLR is available from Amazon. Get the most out of your camera with practical advice about the technical and creative aspects of DSLR photography that will have you taking beautiful pictures right away.

      Tuesday, January 5, 2021

      12 Days of DSLR Day 11: Snow Photography


      We have a lovely blanket of snow here on the ground - with this morning's surprise of hoarfrost to make everything particularly sparkle and shine. A holiday-themed round-up of favorite posts wouldn't be complete without one about snow!

      Welcome to the 12 Days of DSLR! We’re revisiting and updating 12 of our most popular posts to give you the jumpstart on making the most of your DSLR camera. This series is aimed at first-time DSLR owners as well as those who want a little more guidance for how the make the most out of shooting with a DSLR.
       

      Day 11: Snow Photography


      Snow poses some unusual challenges for photography - and photographers. Read on for advice and recommendations for how to take better snow photographs.

      Up Your Exposure

      Snow is fundamentally difficult to photograph accurately. I see snow and know that it is white; you see snow and know that it is white; but your camera sees snow and does not know that snow is white. Your camera and its sensor see snow and know that it is brighter than the 'expected' exposure. It responds (assuming you are shooting in any mode other than manual) by taking a photograph that darkens the snow to match the average exposure of an image. (Confused about exposure? Take a moment to catch up here by reading All about Exposure and More about Exposure: how to fix common exposure problems.)

      snow, snow photography, photography, how to, winter photography
      Here the snow looks much darker than it did.

      If you are not ready to make the jump to shooting in full manual mode, there is an easy way to tell your camera that you want your snow to turn out bright and white: exposure compensation. The exposure compensation scale, available on DSLR as well as many point-and-shoot and phone cameras, allows you to 'tell' your camera that you want your images brighter (positive) or darker (negative) than the camera's default expectation. For most snowy situations, you should adjust the exposure compensation on your camera to between +1/2 and +1 full stop of exposure. (Depending on your camera settings, your exposure scale may be in thirds or half units, called stops.) Many DSLR cameras also have the option to 'bracket' your exposure or take three or more photographs in a row at different places along the exposure compensation scale. When shooting snowy scenes, I often set my camera to shoot three bracketed images at 0, +1, and +2 stops.


      You want to strike a balance between brightening up the snow to the white that it appeared to your eyes without losing its structure and definition. If your snow becomes too bright (overexposed), then it becomes a featureless, white mass rather than an identifiable snowscape. Bracketing your shots gives you the advantage of choosing your favorite in the sequence home on your computer, rather than relying on your LCD screen while you are out shooting. In the example shots above, the normal exposure (left) seems too dark, while the +2 exposure (right) is too bright, leaving the +1 exposure as a good, balanced shot.

      Follow the Snow

      Memorable snow photographs require patience and timing. While you can photograph snow lying on the ground on nearly any given day, you can only photograph pristine white snow just as or just after it has finished falling. The glorious snow that sticks to trees and transforms everything into a winter wonderland does not last long after the sun and the wind catch up with it.


      Getting these types of snow shots requires a willingness to get out and start shooting as soon as the snow has finished falling. Make sure that you are prepared for snow-covered roads and trails and prepare yourself accordingly.

      snow, snow photography, photography, how to, winter photography, falling snow

      You can also be daring and capture the snow while it is still falling. Longer shutter speeds will blur falling snow into bright streaks, while shorter shutter speeds will show only spots of snow. If you want the large, falling snow effect, use your flash. The flash will illuminate nearby falling snow and show it off better than without a flash.


      If you are going to be outdoors photographing falling snow, you want to take some basic precautions to keep your camera safe and dry. The simplest method is to use a gallon plastic bag and cut out one corner of the bag. Stick your lens through this cut out and use your lens hood to secure the bag around the camera and lens.
      http://www.boostyourphotography.com/2014/01/snow.html
      Simple gallon bag as snow protection for your camera.

      Many photographers also recommend bringing another (intact) plastic bag with you when photographing out in the cold. When you are finished shooting, put your camera into the bag, and close it securely while you are still outside. Then, when you come in and your camera slowly adjusts to room temperature, any condensation will occur on the outside of the bag, rather than inside your camera.

      Follow the Light

      As with any subject, the intensity and direction of the light can have a big impact on your snow photographs. Backlight will bring shine and sparkle to newer snow, while early morning or late afternoon sun will bring long, dramatic shadows and possible silhouettes. Consider the 'look' you want in your snow photographs and choose a time of day that will match that intention.


      Snow can also add drama to your sunrise and sunset shots, as the white snow will often reflect or take on some of the tones of the surrounding sky. And speaking of the sky …

      snow, snow photography, photography, how to, winter photography, sunrise,
      Four-shot panorama of sunrise over the skating rink.

      Don't Forget the Sky

      The sky can be a critical component of winter snow photographs. There is a huge difference in feeling and emotion between a bright, blue sky and an overcast, white one. For one, it is much easier to get correct exposures when shooting snow against a bright blue sky. An overcast sky also means that you will need wider apertures or longer shutter speeds to compensate for the reduced available light.


      When shooting snow under blue skies, you may want to consider adding a polarizer to your camera lens to further emphasize the bright blues in the sky. (Read more about how to improve your photography by using a polarizer.) Remember when using a polarizer that you will lose a stop or more of light and may need longer shutter speeds (or wider apertures) to compensate.


      Snow Photography Summary

      Take these few simple steps to dramatically improve your snow photographs. Start by nailing the exposure: use exposure compensation to deliberately overexposure your image slightly (positive values) to get the pure, white snow that you saw with your eyes. Get out there and capture the snow while it is still falling or soon after it has stopped, in order to capture pure, pristine snow fields and heavily laden trees. Think about the light and the time of day in order to get the shot you want, and remember the sky and use it to your advantage.

      Tomorrow wraps up our 12 Days of DSLR! 







      Want to learn more? Boost Your Photography: Learn Your DSLR is available from Amazon. Get the most out of your camera with practical advice about the technical and creative aspects of DSLR photography that will have you taking beautiful pictures right away.

      Monday, January 4, 2021

      12 Days of DSLR Day 10: Black and White Photography


      Black and white photography spawns entire fields within itself, and Boost Your Photography has dedicated entire months to book studies around this theme (see links at the end if you are curious). For this black and white photograph remix, we'll look at two key issues: subjects for black and white photography and whether to shoot or post-process your images.

      Welcome to the 12 Days of DSLR! We’re revisiting and updating 12 of our most popular posts to give you the jumpstart on making the most of your DSLR camera. This series is aimed at first-time DSLR owners as well as those who want a little more guidance for how the make the most out of shooting with a DSLR.
       

      Day 10: Black and White Photography



      Certain subjects seem to better lend themselves to successful black and white photography than others. From a book club study of Andrew Gibson's The Magic of Black and White, Vol 1, pages 45-58 discuss different common subjects for black and white photography and how to approach each one.

      Here are my quick take-aways from each of the individual subject chapters.

      Portraits. In black and white portraiture, the attention is on eyes and texture. You will often see the elderly as the subject of a black and white portrait.

      Landscapes. Black and white landscapes force you to focus on tone, light, and shape. Black and white gives you the freedom to interpret a landscape in a unique or unconventional way to truly make it your image.

      Travel Photography. Black and white lends a timeless feel to travel photography and almost immediately makes you feel nostalgic.

      Flowers. Without the worry of color, flowers are all about shape, tone, and contrast.

      Architecture. Black and white emphasizes form and texture and allows you to create more dramatic compositions against unique skies.

      Try to seek out different subjects this week than you have before. Or, use black and white to explore a familiar subject in a different way. See how you can create something special that represents your statement about the subject.

      Black and White Photography: in camera

      Black and white photography has changed tremendously since the days of black and white film. Now, digital shooters face a wide variety of options for shooting and creating black and white or monochrome photographs. But which method is best for you? 

      The more traditional way to shoot black and white photographs is to do so in camera. Nearly all cameras, from point-and-shoots to DSLRs to phone cameras have an option for shooting and recording in black and white. This hearkens back to the days of film, where if you put black and white film in your camera, then you were shooting black and white images. (If you shoot JPEG, all color information will be lost, and you will retain only the black and white image. If you shoot RAW+JPEG, the color information will be retained in the RAW file, and you will retain a black and white JPEG version of the image.)

      One of the biggest benefits to shooting black and white in camera is the immediate feedback. You can see the photograph on your LCD screen, which may guide you to try different angles, compositions, or exposures in your next shots. Because we do not naturally "see" the world in black and white, this feedback can help you train your eye to understand what works well in black and white.

      There are many different ways to control and refine your black and white photographs in camera. Within the monochrome setting on my DSLR, there is the ability to adjust the sharpness, the contrast, or add a filter or toning effect. (Sepia is a common choice for monochrome toning.)

      In-Camera Monochrome Settings (no post-processing for black and white) | Boost Your Photography

      The series of six photographs above were all shot by manipulating the settings in camera with no post-processing involved (other than making the collage). The top row shots were left: monochrome default settings and right: monochrome with maximum contrast. The middle row shots were left: monochrome with minimum contrast and right: monochrome with default contrast, maximum sharpness, and red filter. The bottom row shots were left: monochrome with default contrast, maximum sharpness, and blue tone and right: color with standard settings. This is just a quick look at some of the many different monochrome effects you can create within your camera.

      The biggest downside to shooting black and white in camera is that your black and white settings and conversion become baked into the final photograph when you are shooting JPEG. You cannot get back the color information and any post-processing changes will potentially degrade the quality of your image.

      Black and White Photography: post-processing

      The second option for shooting black and white is to shoot in color (or RAW) and to convert your photograph to black and white through a post-processing program, app, or web site. The benefit to this method is that you have significantly more flexibility in the final look of your photograph, but the downside is that you lose the instant feedback of "seeing" in black and white through your camera's display. 

      Comparison of the three different color channels for black and white conversion

      One way to post-process a color photograph into black and white is to look at the three different color channels that make up the color image. (A color photograph is recorded by your camera's sensor by three different colors of sensors: blue, red, and green.) The comparison of all three channels and the color image, above, highlights some of the variation that can be found in black and white conversions of the same image. (If you are having trouble seeing some of the differences, look at the colors in the sky and the red sign across the three different channels.)

      Another way to post-process a color photograph is to use a default conversion. Most photography software programs and apps offer different default methods for converting a color photograph into black and white. After you have chosen your default conversion you can also adjust other post-processing options such as contrast, exposure, vignettes, or dodging and burning to get exactly the look you wanted. 

      What about you? Do you have a favorite way for achieving black and white shots or a great conversion tip? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

      Want more posts on black and white photography?


      See Boost Your Photography's book club of Michael Freeman's The Complete Guide to Black and White Digital Photography (or the Black and White Photography Field Guide). Be sure to read the overview and week 1week 2week 3week 4, and week 5 posts if you are curious.

      Or check out our book club study of Andrew Gibson's The Magic of Black and White, Vol 1. We focused on seeing in black and whitedetails in black and white, and subjects (covered above).


      Stay tuned for the rest of the 12 Days of DSLR! 







      Want to learn more? Boost Your Photography: Learn Your DSLR is available from Amazon. Get the most out of your camera with practical advice about the technical and creative aspects of DSLR photography that will have you taking beautiful pictures right away.

      Sunday, January 3, 2021

      12 Days of DSLR Day 9: Zooming vs. Cropping - watch the background and move your feet


      This one is a bit of a mash-up between two previous posts: Zooming vs. Cropping: Perspective in Photography and Remember the Background and Move Your Feet! Yesterday's composition basics will do you no good if you aren't willing to move around and experiment with where and how you are standing to get the best shot.

      Welcome to the 12 Days of DSLR! We’re revisiting and updating 12 of our most popular posts to give you the jumpstart on making the most of your DSLR camera. This series is aimed at first-time DSLR owners as well as those who want a little more guidance for how the make the most out of shooting with a DSLR.
       

      Day 9: Zooming vs. Cropping - watch the background and move your feet

        
      One overlooked aspect of composition is the difference between zooming and cropping when getting to the final composition. Zooming, of course, is changing the length of your lens to create the final composition (whether on a point-and-shoot, DSLR, or any camera in-between). Zooming happens in the field, while you are taking a photograph. Cropping, on the other hand, is changing the photograph itself, after it has been taken, by selecting a smaller section of the original photograph to make the final image. Zooming happens with your lens or with your feet; cropping happens on your computer.

      The distinction matters for several reasons. One is that cropping decreases the amount of pixels in your final image, which can impact how well you can blow up and display or print the final image. The second is that how you choose your zoom (based on where you stand) impacts the perspective of the final photograph, while cropping does not. Wide angle lenses (or wide focal lengths) tend to expand and distort perspective, while zoom lenses (and narrower focal lengths) tend to compress a scene and make objects seem relatively closer together. These different focal lengths can greatly change the perspective of your scene.

      These images below of my "portrait session" with my old car serve as a good visual. I decided to take a series of shots at different zoom lengths to see which one offered the best perspective. To accomplish this, I had to zoom with my lens as well as my feet. For the first image, at 18 mm (the widest focal length for the lens I was using), I was standing very close to the car, slightly in the road itself. For the 35 mm shot, I had to back up to just across the road. This gave me the same compositional placement as the first shot (with the car the same approximate size within the frame). Then I repeated the process of backing up and taking another picture at 50, 100, 150, 200, and 270 mm (the maximum zoom amount for the lens I was using).

      Zooming Vs. Cropping: perspective in photography | Boost Your Photography
      Impact of changing focal length (and backing up) on perspective.

      This collage shows six of those images, each shot at the same ISO (100) and aperture (f/16). The top row of shots was shot at a shutter speed of 1/100th of a second, and the bottom row of shots was shot at 1/60th of a second (to make the darker tree backdrop a little lighter). The differences between each of the shots are purely a result of the changing perspective from each of the different focal lengths.

      Comparison of 18 mm and 35 mm focal lengths on perspective

      The differences are quite apparent when comparing the widest shot, 18 mm, with the next widest shot, 35 mm. The 35 mm length is considered to be most similar to the view and perspective that is captured by our eyes, and this photograph matches how the car 'naturally' looked to me at the time. The wider 18 mm view creates distortion in closer objects, which exaggerates the lines of the front of the car in particular. This view of cars is often used to make them seem large, grand, or imposing, as the car seems to dominate over the wide views in the background.

      This distortion of objects at wide focal lengths can create problems when photographing portraits. While a distorted look is common in photographs of cars, a wide angle and up-close photograph of a person is far less flattering and tends to over-emphasize features, making noses look large or faces look wide. This is why lens in the 85-120 mm lengths are often referred to as 'portrait' lenses: these focal lengths give a perspective of the human face that is considered more flattering. (See more about Portrait Photography Basics.)

      But back to the discussion of cropping. While I can crop an image I took from farther away to make it look like I was standing closer to that object or using a longer zoom, cropping cannot replicate the changes in perspective from actually standing closer to that object. Only zooming in or out for the shot and moving your feet changes the perspective.

      Comparison of 35 mm and 270 mm focal lengths on perspective

      Standing in one location (such as where I took the 270 mm shot) and changing the zoom on your lens will make photographs that are different. It will not, however, make photographs that have any differences in perspective. The relative locations and impact of the foreground and the background will remain the same. If you want to change the perspective, if you want to emphasize one object over another or influence their relationships to each other, you will need to change your zoom and move your feet. Read on for more on how moving your feet can impact your photography.

      Watch the Background and Move Your Feet


      As a photographer, your mind is always on your subject – whether that is a person, a physical object, an idea, or an inspiration. But if you are wondering why many of your images look and feel more like snapshots than photographs, it may be because you are focusing too much on your subject and not enough on everything else in your viewfinder.

      The background of the image is often overlooked by beginning and casual photographers. Everyone has, at times, fallen prey to the allure of the subject and neglected to notice some background detail that will, upon discovery, ruin what might have been a wonderful image. This category includes the classic ‘pole growing out of someone’s head’ shot where the subject accidentally aligns with some background object, as well as many other ‘not quite right’ shots.

      Many times, however, the background and its distractions are so integral to the image that it may be beyond the reach of post-processing to remedy (or certainly beyond the length of time I’d be willing to commit to try). The best and simplest solution is to remember the background when you are shooting and, if you come across a distracting background, use your feet.


      These two photographs of lilacs were taken of the same bush within moments of each other, but the backgrounds give each image a very different feel. In the top image, the background is very busy, with several sharp diagonals and a stone path leading the eye out of the image and away from the flowers. In the bottom image, the background is more consistent and more blurred, with a hint of other lilac bunches and trees beyond. The colors blend well together and it makes for a more harmonious image overall.  

      Two major things played a role in the differences in the background. The first was that I moved my feet. Changing the perspective of an image requires you to move physically, whether that means moving your feet, standing up or getting down, or trying a different angle or viewpoint with the camera. In this case, I looked around longer and, instead of pointing my camera at the lilac with the stone path behind it (top image), I turned and got lower, so that the lilac bunch was silhouetted against the more distant branches and trees (bottom image). 

      This led to the second major difference in the background – the out-of-focus background achieved in the second image. The depth of field of an image (the depth of the focal plane or area in sharp focus) varies based on a number of factors, including aperture, focal length, and distance. The further away something is from the focal plane, the more blurred or out-of-focus it will be. So, because the trees behind the lilac bush (bottom image) were fifty feet away, they appear nicely blurred, while the stone path (top image) was only five feet away and appears more angular and distracting. (Click here to read about Depth of Field: its more than just aperture.)

      So, the next time you prepare to take a photograph, stop for a moment, ignore your subject, and consider the background. If you find something distracting, try moving your feet or adjusting your aperture to get more blur. You may find that a small change in perspective can make a big change in your final image.

      Stay tuned for the rest of the 12 Days of DSLR! 







      Want to learn more? Boost Your Photography: Learn Your DSLR is available from Amazon. Get the most out of your camera with practical advice about the technical and creative aspects of DSLR photography that will have you taking beautiful pictures right away.

      Saturday, January 2, 2021

      12 Days of DSLR Day 8: Composition Basics


      Composition is what can take a good photograph and make it into a great one. Knowing how to use your camera is important, but knowing what to DO with your camera is what will really make you stand out. This post for the 12 Days of DSLR covers some composition basics with links to many more in-depth articles.

      Welcome to the 12 Days of DSLR! We’re revisiting and updating 12 of our most popular posts to give you the jumpstart on making the most of your DSLR camera. This series is aimed at first-time DSLR owners as well as those who want a little more guidance for how the make the most out of shooting with a DSLR.
       

      Day 8: Composition Basics

       
      Composition and design are fundamental to strong, memorable photography. You can search up plenty of lists of composition "rules," but the key is knowing when to try out a rule and when to break it. Once you get a feel for what some of these rules are, you have the knowledge and flexibility to make them work for you. 

      One of the best-known photography composition rules is the Rule of Thirds. The idea is that you mentally divide your image into thirds, both vertically and horizontally, and try to align key elements in your image along those lines OR along the points where those lines intersect. You can see an example in the image below. (Curious? Read more about Composition and the Rule of Thirds here.) 

      Teaching the Rule of Thirds | Boost Your Photography

      Leading lines are another key composition element. Just like arts learn about perspective and vanishing point, photographs need to think about how to use lines to inform their photography. Lines can also include visual cues like the horizon. See the image below for an example of how a crooked horizon line can throw off your entire image. (Read more about Composition and Leading Lines here.) From lines you can move your way up to shapes, form and volume, and finally texture. These four topics were part of a book study on Boost Your Photography a few years back. Click any of the links above to learn more.

      Composition: Watch Your Horizons | Boost Your Photography

      Another crucial element of composition is what you include in a photograph and what you exclude. Filling the Frame (zooming or cropping in closer to make your entire image a single subject) is a creative way to experiment with bold, dramatic images. See the image of the umbrella at the top of the post for an example. Click here to read more about Composition: Fill the Frame. You can also use elements within your image to create a frame (think: windows or columns or peering through the trees). Framing is a great way to create memorable shots. Click here to read more about Composition: Framing

      Finally, think about how you hold your camera. Most DSLR photographers shoot their images in landscape orientation (because that's the natural way to hold a DSLR) in the same way that most photo photographers shoot their images in portrait orientation (because that's the natural way you hold your phone). Don't let your camera determine what kind of shot you take. Click here to read more about how to use Orientation as a Compositional Element.

      Conclusion: Make Composition Work for You

      Composition and design is a great place to start when trying to do more with your photography. Start by exploring just a few basic rules at a time, and see how a little bit of planning can make a big impact. (Plus, don't forget to have a little fun!)

      Stay tuned for the rest of the 12 Days of DSLR! 







      Want to learn more? Boost Your Photography: Learn Your DSLR is available from Amazon. Get the most out of your camera with practical advice about the technical and creative aspects of DSLR photography that will have you taking beautiful pictures right away.

      Friday, January 1, 2021

      12 Days of DSLR Day 7: What the ... White Balance

      What the ... White Balance!? is one of our all-time most popular posts on Boost Your Photography. Don't miss out on incredible shots by relying too heavily on auto white balance. 

      Welcome to the 12 Days of DSLR! We’re revisiting and updating 12 of our most popular posts to give you the jumpstart on making the most of your DSLR camera. This series is aimed at first-time DSLR owners as well as those who want a little more guidance for how the make the most out of shooting with a DSLR.
       

      Day 7: What the ... White Balance?

        


      White balance is an often-overlooked aspect of photography. Many, many of us are guilty of simply adopting a "set it and forget it" approach to white balance, relying on auto white balance and our camera's ability to interpret a scene and choose an appropriate white balance. For many situations, your camera's auto white balance will do a decent job. But if you really want full creative control over your photograph, it is important to understand white balance and how to use it to truly capture the photograph that you are after.

      What is White Balance?

      We tend to think of light as white, even though we have all seen the science demonstration of a prism and how white light is actually the full rainbow of colors. Our eyes look at a white piece of paper, and we see it as white, whether we are standing outside in full sun, in dappled shade, or indoors under fluorescent tube lights. Our cameras, however, are less flexible.

      If you take a photograph of a white piece of paper, you may find that it looks white in daylight, blue in the shade, and yellow indoors. This difference is referred to the 'color temperature' of the light, and it is measured in K or Kelvins. If you want the whites in your photograph to look white, then you need to shoot with a white balance that matches the situation of the photograph.

      Canon has several different white balance options, other than Auto: Daylight (5200K), Cloudy (6000K), Shade (7000K), Tungsten (3200K), Fluorecent (4000K), Flash, and Custom. The photograph above demonstrates what each of these different white balance options look like for a single photograph.

      (Quick aside: if you shoot in JPEG, white balance is an unchangeable part of the final image file. If you shoot in RAW, however, the RAW file contains information that allows you to use software, like Photoshop, to change the white balance in post-processing, while still maintaining all the original information recorded for the photograph. The sunset photograph above is a composite of all the white balance options from a single RAW file.)

      Cloudy white balance works well for sunset shots.
      The cloudy and shade white balance settings are considered "warmer" than daylight or tungsten, which means that they tend to bring out more orange and yellow tones in a photograph. Cloudy and shade settings can work extremely well during the 'Golden Hour,' the approximately hour-long period before-and-after sunrise and sunset, when the sun rays lend a much more golden tone to the morning or evening light. The cloudy setting is also popular with landscape photographs, as it can add a golden tone to non-golden hour photographs. Read a few landscape photography books, and you will find that many well-known landscape photographers use cloudy as their default white balance setting.

      Indoor White Balance

      White balance can also make a huge difference with your indoor photographs. Common sources of indoor lighting (halogens, compact fluorescents, etc.) do not contain the full spectrum of white light, like sunlight, and often impart an awkward yellow tone to indoor photographs. Knowing the type of lighting you are using allows you to choose an appropriate white balance setting, like fluorescent, to compensate for this issue.

      Use White Balance to Correct for Color Cast | Boost Your Photography
      Get the how to on this shot: Fizzy Photography

      Think about the lighting for the particular scene you are photographing, and consider changing your white balance to match the scene at hand. Shooting indoors? Consider fluorescent. Using your on-camera flash? Consider flash. Shooting a sunrise, sunset, or other scene with golden tones? Consider cloudy or shade. Better yet? Consider shooting in RAW and adjusting your white balance to your preference.

      Want to know more? Read on about How to Use White Balance Strategically.

      Stay tuned for the rest of the 12 Days of DSLR! 







      Want to learn more? Boost Your Photography: Learn Your DSLR is available from Amazon. Get the most out of your camera with practical advice about the technical and creative aspects of DSLR photography that will have you taking beautiful pictures right away.