Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Black and White Book Club: week 1

It is nearly February, which means it is time to start thinking about the Black and White Book Club and our study of Michael Freeman's The Complete Guide to Black and White Digital Photography (or the smallified version, Black and White Photography Field Guide). An overview of the book club and weekly topics can be found here. If you do not have access to a copy of either book, you can still join in by reading the summaries, below, and participating in the styles for each week. If you do have the book, you will have a lot more material to draw upon and work with each week.

Week 1 (Feb. 1-2nd) will focus on Black and White Photography as Fine Art and the styles of fine art or abstract photography. (For those curious, we are following the British tradition of starting the new week on Mondays, as it fits the monthly calendar views on, a site that many are using to participate in the book club.) For this short week, we will focus on the first three chapters of the book (pgs. 7-23 Complete or 6-21 Field Guide). Below is an overview of the main topics covered and some quotations (the first number will be from the Complete Guide and the second will be from the Field Guide).

The Black and White Tradition

"…black-and-white photography is traditionally more strongly associated with art than is color, and there are lessons to learn also from monochrome painting" (pg. 9/9).

The book begins with an overview of the history of photography and its connections to the primacy of monochrome in early fine art, calligraphy, and finally abstract art. Throughout the discussion, Freeman focuses on two important considerations: the impact of emotion and the importance of tone. He stresses the recognition of emotion-through-monochrome as a recurring theme in photography and of the role of tone: "As we will see time and again in photography, restricting the palette allows the artist to concentrate fully on the subtleties of tone" (pg. 14/15). As you experiment with fine art or abstract photography for these first days, try to keep both emotion and tone in mind.

The second half of this week's readings covers the history of the photographic tradition and the mechanisms behind camera sensors (wavelength and sensitivity). An important take-away from these sections is that "Camera sensors do not match the eye's color response, and need both physical filters and special image processing to come close" (pg. 22/20). While this section might be a bit technical for some, it may be enough to recognize that eyes and sensors interpret scenes differently and that different 'translations' from color to black and white can produce very different versions from the same original image.

Finally, one of the big ideas in this book and an excellent starting point for book club discussion is the question of why, as a photographer, you would choose black and white for your final image. As Freeman argues, "More fundamental than the 'how' of shooting monochrome is why and when" (pg. 9/9). Spend some time this month thinking about why a certain subject appeals to you in black and white and consider sharing those thoughts for a specific image or images.

Multiple Ways to Join the Book Club

Want to participate? Post a comment with your thoughts or a link to a picture you have taken for the book club and an explanation of how the book influenced your image. Or, you can post pictures and contribute to the discussion by joining the Photography Book Club Group on Flickr or the bw-bookclub discussion and tag on

Parting words for the week: "What sets black and white apart from color is that it is not the way we see the world and it does not pretend to represent reality …. it is a creative choice" (pg. 9/9).

Enjoy, and I look forward to seeing your thoughts and images!

Click here for the post from week 2.

Boost Your Photography: Learn Your DSLR is now 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 25, 2014

Aspect Ratio: Think of Your Crop before You Shoot

Aspect ratio is one of those photography technical terms that people often ignore, until a situation arises where it becomes critically important, and by then, it is too late. You need to think about the aspect ratio and the size of your final print before you make the shot, rather than after, to avoid disappointment.

Aspect ratio refers to the relative length and width of your image, and different cameras will have different, set aspect ratios. Many DSLR cameras have an aspect ratio of 2:3, while many point and shoot and phone cameras have an aspect ratio of 3:4.

Unsure of your aspect ratio? Look at the details for one of your photographs, and divide the length (in pixels) of the shorter side by the longer side. An answer of 0.67 is 2:3, and 0.75 is 3:4. For example, with my Canon T1i, the final photographs are 4752 pixels by 3168 pixels. 3168 divided by 4752 is 0.67 or 2:3.

Aspect Ratio: So What?

Aspect ratio matters when you decide to print your photographs. In the United States, there are a variety of standard print sizes (4x6, 5x7, 8x10 and so forth), and each of these has a different aspect ratio. Depending on what size of print you choose, you may need to crop, which results in a loss of some of the original image. The infographic, above, provides a visual look at what kind of cropping to expect, based on your original aspect ratio and chosen print size.

If you are more of a numbers person, then you can think of it this way:

  • With an aspect ratio of 2:3, there will be no loss as a 4x6. There will be a loss of 7% of the width for a 5x7, 17% for an 8x10, and 36% for widescreen.
  • With an aspect ratio of 3:4, there will be a loss of 11% of the height for a 4x6, 5% of the height for a 5x7, 6% of the width for an 8x10, and 43% of the width for widescreen.

The 'so what' part of aspect ratio is that you need to worry about it, particularly if your subject fills the frame or is close to one or more of the edges. Of course, you can choose where to crop (rather than equally from both sides, as shown), but you may be out of luck trying to print a tall image as widescreen or a wide image as an 8x10 or 16x20 canvas.

This is easier to understand with visual examples. The infographic, above provides two scenarios for photographs and how each crop would affect them. Aspect ratio most often becomes an issue when a critical part of your subject is located near the edge (or edges) of your photograph. Printing on canvas further exacerbates this problem, as canvas-wrapped prints involve using a portion of the edge of the image to 'wrap' around the inch or more thick sides of the canvas.
Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River, original aspect ratio, 2:3

The photograph of the double rainbow at the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River, above, was one that I was considering printing as a 16x20 inch wrapped canvas print. It was shot with my DSLR camera at an aspect ratio of 2:3, which means that I would have to crop off 17% of the height in order to fit it onto a 16x20 inch print. An example of what that crop might have looked like is below.
Lower Falls of the Yellowstone, showing the loss (gray) in cropping to a 16x20 aspect ratio.

You can already see the problem. The top of the falls is getting slightly chopped off on the left edge, while the end of the rainbox (and most of the double rainbow) are getting chopped off on the right edge. I cannot keep both elements and would have to choose which to lose more of.

But wait. Then there is also the canvas wrap. I have to also factor in at least an inch around all the sides of the cropped image that will be wrapped around the edge of the frame. This further cuts in to the final, displayed image, as seen below. The double rainbow is gone completely, the edge of the falls wraps around the canvas, and the edges of the main rainbow fall around the wrapped edge too.

In the end, I had to go with another image entirely. Since I had composed this original image so close in to the falls and the rainbow, I was unable to salvage the picture for printing as an 16x20 wrapped canvas.

Plan for Cropping – Keep Your Aspect Ratio in Mind 

The most important part of aspect ratio is simply to know what it is and how it can affect your final print. If you are doing a family shoot for someone who wants a big canvas print hanging above their fireplace, then you will want to be sure to shoot a little 'wide' to accommodate all the family members in the final print – without anyone losing the top of their head or the bottom of their leg! (Read more about important topics to consider when printing photographs in this article on Photography Gifts for the Holiday.)

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Boost Your Photography: Learn Your DSLR is now 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.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Perspective in Photography

As photographers, it is easy to fall into a rut or routine. We find the styles and subjects that draw our eye, and we begin to use the same ideas, angles, framing, etc. to capture our images. Get yourself out of that rut by making a change ... learn more in my newest guest post on Digital Photography School about Perspective in Photography: don't just stand there, move your feet!

Getting low can give you a different view on the world.

Boost Your Photography: Learn Your DSLR is now 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 20, 2014

How to Take Better Snow Photographs

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Winter has calmed down a bit here, with the passing of the Polar Vortex, and the reintroduction of reasonable winter weather. What better time to think about getting out and taking some snow photographs? 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 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.
Simple gallon bag as snow protection for your camera.

Many sources 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.

Bottom image available for purchase.

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.

Want even more snow photography advice? Follow our "Winter Photography" board on Pinterest or follow all our boards on Pinterest for more photography ideas, inspirations, and "how to"s from across the web.

Boost Your Photography: Learn Your DSLR is now 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.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Black and White Book Club: Michael Freeman

Everyone is invited to join in the Black and White Book Club (and Flash of Color February) for the month of February. The idea is to join a group of photographers in reading a relevant photography book during the course of a month, while also applying the techniques and strategies of the book to your daily photography. There was a great turnout and interest for our last book club in August, and you can read the weekly posts and updates about it, if you are curious (Overview about the August Book ClubWeek 1Reflections on Week 1, Week 2Week 3, and Week 4.) We are also continuing in the tradition of Flash of Red February, started by @olivetreeann last year, and you can see examples of the finishers' monthly layouts here. (Mine is below.)

For the month of February, we will be reading either Michael Freeman's The Complete Guide to Black & White Digital Photography or Michael Freeman Black and White Photography Field Guide. (The Field Guide is a slightly slimmed down version of The Complete Guide, but the vast majority of the text and examples are the same, just in a smaller, more conveniently-sized package. If you really want to stare at the subtle differences in some of the example images, however, I recommend the larger size of The Complete Guide.) You do not have to read the book to participate, but you will get much more out of the experience if you do. Your local library may have copies of the books (mine did), or they are available from many sites online, such as Amazon.

The Book Club will be broken down into weekly sections, and there will be a detailed post each week with thoughts and summaries about the relevant book sections and their possible applications to your photography. The following is an overview of the ideas and topics covered:

  • Week 1, Feb. 1-2: Black and White Photography as Fine Art – fine art or abstract photography
  • Week 2, Feb. 3-9: Black and White Photography as Normality – still life, landscape, street, portrait, architecture, or journalism / documentary photography
  • Feb. 13th: Flash of Color February – an image processed with selective color to bring out a specific color
  • Week 4, Feb. 17-23: Creative Choices in Exposure – exploring over- and underexposure, high key, low key, high contrast, and low contrast
  • Week 5, Feb. 24-28: Putting it All Together – a final week to go back to your favorite or most challenging ideas or styles of black and white photography. You can also explore topics not covered in the weeks above, such as Grain or High ISO photographs, HDR, Tone Mapping, and Adding Tints.

Section Two of the books, Digital Monochrome, will not be included during a specific week. This section deals intensively with the processing side of black and white photography and how to achieve specific looks using post-processing software. I highly recommend reading or skimming through this section at the beginning and then using the relevant techniques or strategies as they apply to the final photographic look that you are trying to achieve for a specific image. (There are a wide range of free post-processing apps or programs that you can use, if you do not already have post-processing software. Some of these include Picasa, Gimp, Picmonkey, Snapseed for Apple and Andoid, and many more. You can also shoot black and white by setting your camera to its 'monochrome' setting and not doing any processing to your images.)

All are welcome, even if you do not want to commit to the full month and just join for a week or a few days.

Feel free to leave a comment if you're interested in participating. You can also sign up to receive email updates, read it in your RSS reader, or be notified via Google+ (see links on the right hand side). Or you can 'like' the Facebook page  for updates via Facebook. You can also join the Photography Book Club group on Flickr to see and share photographs during the month.

Hope you'll join us!

Boost Your Photography: Learn Your DSLR is now 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 14, 2014

Fun with Fizzy Fruit Photography

Bright, high key, fizzy fruit shots are a great item to cross off your photography bucket list on a rainy (or snowy) day. While they may look difficult, you can get great results with just a few simple supplies. This post will walk you through the basics of creating fascinating fizzy fruit shots.

Supplies for Shooting Fizzy Fruit

You can shoot fizzy fruit shots with a point-and-shoot camera or a DSLR. If you use a point-and-shoot, you will want to shoot on the macro setting (tulip symbol), which allows you to focus up-close and take detailed shots. If you use a DSLR, you can use a dedicated macro lens, if you have one. If not, you can use your longest zoom lens (zoomed in to its farthest focal length, like 200mm or 270mm etc.) or you can use accessories to turn your 50mm or kit lens into an inexpensive macro lens. (Read specifics on how to use close-up lenses, extension tubes, or a reverse mount adapter for close-up photography.) All of the photographs in this post were taken with a Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens with a +10 close-up lens (or a +4 and a +10 stacked together). A tripod and remote shutter release can be helpful, but you can also shoot hand-held if you have a fast lens (wide aperture like f/1.8) and good lighting.
The blur of bubbles adds to the feeling of motion in this shot.

Lighting can be as simple as a flexible desk lamp or pedestal light. You want something that you can position directly behind the fruit, so that light is shining straight through the fruit and into your camera. I have had great luck with a simple column light, shown below, which is just a light bulb inside a frosted column. A single piece of tissue paper was used over the light to act as a diffuser and make the light softer and more evenly spread out.

Finally, you will also need fruit, a container to hold both the fruit and the liquid, and a fizzy liquid. For a long time, I was confused when reading peoples' comments that they had used lemonade for these types of shots. I finally realized the lemonade in England or Australia is not the same as lemonade here in the US and that a closer equivalent would be sparkling mineral water. I have also had some luck with Champaign, but the bubbles were not as furious or long-lasting.

For containers, you want something glass with at least one straight side to shoot through. This is a great item to look out for at thrift stores, as you can often find old vases for next-to-nothing. My favorite, shown above, is a very narrow vase with two straight sides that I found at a hobby store for less than $10 USD.

As for the fruit, you want something that you will be able to cut into thin slices. The thinner you can slice it, the more light will shine through, making it easier to photograph and capture details. I would estimate my slices were between an eighth and a quarter of an inch. Citrus works particularly well, but you can experiment with all kinds.

Once you have gathered your supplies, you want to arrange your light source so that it is behind the vase or container and will be shining directly at your camera. My pedestal light was large enough to simply rest flat on the table, but you could also use a stack of books to prop up your light to get the right angle.

Tips and Techniques for Shooting Fizzy Fruit

Pour in your fizzy liquid, grab your fruit and your camera, and you are ready to go! The biggest difficulty I found when taking these shots is that the movement of the bubbles caused the slices of fruit to bounce and spin around inside the vase. If you are able to shoot at a quick enough shutter speed (like 1/250th of a second or faster), then this won't be a problem. Otherwise, you will want to find some way of anchoring down your fruit while you are shooting. My improvised method was simply to use my left hand to hold the fruit steady against one wall of the vase and then shoot with only my right hand. An easy alternative would be to set up the tripod for the camera, hold the fruit with one hand or with tongs, and use a remote with the other.

As for settings, I chose to shoot in Aperture Priority with ISO 200 and a wide aperture of around f/1.8-3.5. I used the slightly narrower apertures of f/2.8 and f/3.5 near the end of the shoot, when I was trying to get a little more focus and definition out of the bubbles.

You may also want to consider using Exposure Compensation to overexpose the picture slightly (from one third to one full stop in the positive direction on the scale). This will help the background become a more true white and brighten up the fruit as well. Experiment to see what look works best for you.
At +1/3 exposure compensation, the kiwi fruit is still fairly dark in this photograph.
+1 exposure compensation makes the fruit much lighter and more vibrant.

Try for a mixture of really close-up as well as farther back shots. You will also see differences if you hold the fruit up against the front of the vase compared to the back. If you feel like your bubbles are running out of 'oomph,' let go of your fruit or bounce it around a little bit, to bring back the internal fizz.

You will find that your depth of field (the area of the subject in focus) will be very thin, both from using a wide aperture and from shooting your subject up-close. Play around with having different parts of your fruit in focus – the bubbles in front vs. the bubbles around the sides, for example. Even out of focus bubbles make for interesting compositions.
Focusing on the bubbles in front makes the bubbles along the sides become little out-of-focus dots and bokeh.


There are many different ways that you can setup to shoot fizzy fruit, and this is only one example. The orange, below, was shot in a wine glass against a black tri-fold board backdrop (read more about the humble tri-fold board for photographs ). In this case, the fruit was lit from the front by very bright, direct sunlight streaming through a nearby window. This natural light was enough to even light the fruit and give it a different feel against the dark background.

Don't feel confined to just shoot fruit either. All kinds of objects can look more interesting with bubbles. (I used two of the lamps for the colored pencils, below: one from behind to light the liquid and bubbles, and one from the front to light up the pencils themselves.)

Experiment and have fun it! See what you can come up with, and feel free to post a link in the comments to any successes you might have.

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Boost Your Photography: Learn Your DSLR is now 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 10, 2014

Top 5 "How To" Photography Posts on Boost Your Photography

The Top 5 days of Top 5 posts wraps up with this look at the Top 5 "How To" Photography Posts from 2013 on Boost Your Photography. While an earlier Top 5 list covered Instant Inspiration Ideas, this post focuses on photography ideas that might take a little more advanced planning ...

#5: Long Exposure Photography at the Fair(e)

A carnival or fair(e) is a great place for photography, especially as the sun is setting and into the evening. This post on Long Exposure Photography at the Fair(e) covers the supplies and camera settings you will need to capture stunning long exposure pictures of all the lights and rides. Great fun for the next carnival or fair(e) that comes your way!

Long, swirling star trails shots are on the Bucket Lists of many photographers. This post, Stacking Photographs: Beyond Star Trails, provides both an overview of using stacking for star trail photography and some suggestions for how to apply this strategy to other photography situations and subjects. While stacking photographs requires software, this article provides links and information about free programs that are available and do an excellent job.

Want to capture an ideal shot of the full moon rising over a famous or local landmark? Find out how in this post on how to Shoot the Moon with the Photographers' Ephemeris. The Ephemeris is a free download (on computers, the mobile apps cost money) that will allow you to plot and plan your perfect moon rise, moon set, or even sunrise and sunset shots. This post will show you how best to use the Ephemeris to capture those elusive moon shots you have been after!

Mastering how to spin an orb is another photography Bucket List item and one that is easier to achieve than you may have realized. This post, Light Painting: How to Spin an Orb, lays out the basic supplies you will need, as well as a thorough overview of the settings for your camera and the techniques behind spinning that will give you perfect orbs every time. Truly addictive photography fun!

 By far the top post in our series of "How To" photography posts was How to Spin Fire with Steel Wool. This post explains all you need to know to photograph spinning steel wool safely and effectively. The supplies are fairly simple, and this technique is endlessly interesting and entertaining. (And, for all you non-DSLR photographers out there, the shot above was taken with a Canon point-and-shoot camera.)

Catch up on the rest of our Top 5 roundup of Top 5 posts:

Boost Your Photography: Learn Your DSLR is now 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.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Top 5 Guest Posts on Photography

The fourth post in our Top 5 series will take a look at the Top 5 Photography Posts that I have published as guest posts on other web sites.

#5: Jumpstart Your Photography: Start a 365 Project

This post on Starting a 365 Project just went live yesterday over at Digital Photography School, which is why I am slotting it in at the lowly number 5 in this countdown. I am now into my fourth year of participating in a 365 Project, and I honestly think it is the best thing you can do to make an immediate and lasting impact in your photography. Read more in the full post: Jumpstart Your Photography: Start a 365 Project. Still curious? You can find my 365Project at .

Close-up or macro photography is a way of looking at the small details and wonders of the world through photography. This post was the third of a series of four articles that I did for the photography web site Photokonnexion. Extension tubes screw in between your lens and the camera body, allowing you to focus and get your camera closer to your subject, which then makes your subject relatively bigger in your final photograph. Read more about how to use extension tubes in the full article here

This article on close-up lenses was the second in my series of four articles on close-up and macro photography that first appeared on the web site Photokonnexion. Close-up lenses, like filters, screw on to the front of your existing lens. They allow you to focus more closely on your subject, making it bigger in your final image. Read more about how to use close-up lenses in the full article here.

This post was the conclusion to my four-part series on close-up and macro photography that was published on the web site Photokonnexion. This article focused on the settings and techniques recommended to achieve the best results, whether you are using extension tubes, close up lenses, reverse rings, or a dedicated macro lens. Read the full article on Inexpensive Close-Up Photography: Tips and Tricks for all the details.

#1: Using Sun Flares and Starbursts to Create Dramatic Images

... and the top post of my guest articles that appeared on other web sites was this one on Using Sun Flares and Starbursts to Create Dramatic Images, which was published on the web site Digital Photography School. This post lays out the timing strategies and the camera settings that will help you achieve large, dramatic sun flares and starbursts, using the camera and equipment you already have. Both make for impactful and unusual images.

Catch up on the rest of our Top 5 roundup of Top 5 posts:

Boost Your Photography: Learn Your DSLR is now 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.