Monday, September 12, 2011

Light Painting - Photography Tips

Light painitng is simply a photographic technique that uses a long exposure at night (or in a dark room), and which a light source is moved to "paint" a scene.  The light source itself will generally not be visble in the end result, nor will the artist.  Of course, the light could be coming from inside the frame or outside the frame.

There a some great photographers out there who have some amazing light painting lesons you can purchase (like from Evan Sharboneau).  I highly recommend his course.  As a starter though, here are some basic photography tips on light painting that you can start with.

Stability - since you will be working in low lighting conditions, you will need to have ensure has zero shake.  A tripod of some sort is a must!

Bulb Mode/Remote Shutter Release - I find that you will want to have the shutter opened and stay that way until you are done "painting" your scene.  Most DSLRs will have a bulb mode you can use.  Since they are built in, they can be handy.  However, they can produce tiny amounts of shake when you press the shutter open and closed, which is why I recommend a remote shutter release if you have one.

Manual Mode - you will want full control on the scene, so put the camera in manual mode (which is normally needed for bulb mode anyway).  You will need to do some trial and error with the aperture size based on your lighing conditions and how long you want to have the shutter open.

Light Source - light graffiti requires your "paint brush".  It could be a small, bright flashlight in which you would jump around the scene with or a laser pointer where you draw by projecting.  Note I've read that a laser pointer to the sensor can damage your camera, so be careful.  It can also damage a persons eyes, so never point it at someone.

Photography Special Effects
Trial and Error - with these basics of light painting, you can go nuts and create amazing effects (like Evan did above).


Visit our site for more photography tips.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Beginners Guide To Wedding Photography

You bought your first DSLR camera and you’re ready to roll at your best friend’s wedding! The first thing you need to do is to make sure you, and your friend, understand what you are getting into. Not only that, but make sure expectations are very low. That way, if something goes wrong there will not be hurt feelings. Here are a few photography tips to help you get started with wedding photography:

Under Promise, Over Deliver


Make it a habit to always under promise and try to over deliver. If your photos do not turn out as good as they could have, you will still hopefully have a friend. If they are expecting snapshot images they won't be disappointed with the results but they will be grateful and impressed with any photos above the average level.

Create A ‘Shot List’


One of the most important things in wedding photography is to have the couple decide upon a list of photos that they’d want you to capture on the big day and make a list so that you can check them off. This is especially good in the family shots, where the couple wants to photograph with everybody and not be disappointed that you didn’t photograph them with grandma!


Practice With Lighting And Exposures


It may be really frustrating making excuses for terrible exposure in your wedding shots. It doesn’t sound right to just say that the church was too dark or blame it on the flash. The best thing to do before the wedding is to scout the location, take a lot of test shots and experiment with different angles, lights and exposures. Then write down your notes, so you know exactly which settings to use on the wedding day.



There is no such thing as the best camera, really. Pick one that you are totally comfortable with. It’s pointless to get the latest model and be intimidated by all the new stuff you need to learn. Choose one that you feel competent with and know all its settings and features and most importantly, know when and how to use them. Basically, any DSLR camera will do a good job on a wedding, if combined with a high quality fast lens.


Here is a breakdown of the main equipment you’ll need in wedding photography:


Lenses – A great asset for any wedding photographer, be it professional or amateur, is a lens with a large maximum aperture of f/2.8 or larger. You will need it to capture all the available ambient light, even in dark churches or dimly lit rooms. Another important thing is the option to shoot without a flash, as very few people would actually consider the flash burst as being romantic. Your prime lens kit should include a wide-angle zoom, a wide-to-telephoto zoom and an image-stabilized telephoto zoom.


Flashes and accessories – If there is not enough ambient light, you might find yourself with a bunch of underexposed images. A flash solves the problem and is a must-have tool for evenings as well as indoor shots where the lighting is just not enough. Also, make sure to include a diffuser to avoid harsh shadows and instead give your photos a soft and warm look.


Tripod – Invest in a stable tripod, as the last thing you want during the wedding is to make sure your tripod does not topple over. Also, a tripod is a must have for group shots, especially if your lens come without image stabilization.


Memory cards – This is one of the most important items to include in your equipment. Choose Secure Digital and Compact Flash cards that are high quality and have a good speed, which allow you to store the images at outstanding quality and never get lost. Stay away from cheap cards that may ruin your entire work and performance. Next, you’ll need battery packs and a bag to hold it all.

Change perspectives  


Changing your perspectives and shooting at different angles allows you to get out of the comfort zone and showcase your creativity. While most images in the album will probably be pretty normal poses, it’s always fun to mix things up a little by shooting from down low, up high, at wide angles etc.

Continuous Shooting Mode


Being able to take a lot of pictures fast is extremely helpful during a wedding. Switch your camera to Continuous shooting mode and use it. Often times it’s the picture you take a second after the posed one – when everyone is relaxing – that really captures the moment!

Have Fun!


Weddings are about celebrating so they should be fun. The more fun you have as the photographer the more relaxed those you are photographing will be.


Looking to get a more serious level of wedding photography education?  Then check out <!-- /* Font Definitions */ @font-face {font-family:"Cambria Math"; panose-1:2 4 5 3 5 4 6 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-536870145 1107305727 0 0 415 0;} /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-unhide:no; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; margin:0cm; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:EN-CA; mso-fareast-language:EN-CA;} .MsoChpDefault {mso-style-type:export-only; mso-default-props:yes; font-size:10.0pt; mso-ansi-font-size:10.0pt; mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;} @page WordSection1 {size:612.0pt 792.0pt; margin:72.0pt 90.0pt 72.0pt 90.0pt; mso-header-margin:36.0pt; mso-footer-margin:36.0pt; mso-paper-source:0;} div.WordSection1 {page:WordSection1;} --> Digital Wedding Secrets and get their Wedding Photography 101 book for FREE!


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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

iPhone Photography - The Cat's Meow?

I have an iPhone and I love it!  (I also have a BlackBerry Torch for work - not quite as good).  And I find myself using it's handy camera more and more (as I don't always have my DSLR with me).  I thought I would hate a camera phone, mainly because I was a quasi-camera snob.  (Well, I still may be, but I'm getting better).  But as each generation of phone gets better in features and functions, the camera is also getting more usable.

The first photo I took with the iPhone 4 was of my financee's cat; her name is Lily - the cat that is (I started a cat name blog because of her).  It was just for fun and to show her (now my wife) how the camera worked on the phone.  And there the addictaion began.

The camera on the phone is more of a tool for me that a creative outlet (although some use it for art these days).  I have it with me everywhere, and when I need to remeber something on a sign or want to record an interesting moment of scene, then bam!  It's there.

Sadly, the most photographed muse on my iPhone is Lily, our lovely cat.

I took the photography above with an iPhone 4 and I think that this is an example of the best quality shot that comes from an iPhone.  The photo is not grainy, the colours came our correct, and the brightness and balance is great.  However, not every shot is so good on them.

This photo, as cute as Lily is with her kitty paws sticking out, is slightly more grainy and the colours are not as good.  And this is with just slightly less light.

This last phote of our Lily cat going for a treat is much more graining and the colours are really off.   Note, it is near dusk and with incandescent light on.

This small sample shows some range of the iPhone 4 camera.  While not amazing, I find it works very well in bright light (for a camera phone).  I wouldn't thrown our your P&S or DSLR for using this as your main camera, but for something easy to carry around and use, iPhone 4 cameras (and by extension, other camera phones) and a useful tool to have in your bag of gear.



Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Night Photography Tips: Taking Photos of People and Monuments

Learning night photography tips can be far more exciting than practicing in the clear sunlight. The mood of the world changes at night, there are additional light sources everywhere – and opportunities to capture images of people and monuments wherever you may be.

Night time is not as dark, black and boring as you think! When everyone else goes home, the night photographers come out to work their magic. You’ll need to remember some fundamental photography techniques when taking photos at night – but if you do it properly, you can truly create some masterful images. The next time you’re away on holiday somewhere, remember these great night photography tips.

A haunting photo of the Colosseum by photographer David Wilmot

Preparing For Your Night Shoot

A lot of night photography is about spontaneity, but first you have to come prepared to be spontaneous! Always bring along a tripod, so that you can take the sharpest images possible and eliminate any kind of vibration that would interfere with the clarity of your image. Because you’ll be photographing moving people, and still buildings or monuments (bridges, statues etc) you need to prepare for both.

Your light sources are going to come from the things around you, not from the sun. Always be aware of all ambient light in each image you frame. Professional photographers will tell you one of the best night photography tips they ever received was to – know their equipment. You’ll be out at night shooting, and no one has time to try and figure out a particular setting before they do. Learn all you can about your DSLR camera before you go.

The Finer Points of Night Photography

The first thing you need to know about shooting at night is that you need longer exposure times, with average ISO settings of between 100 and 400. There is the constant danger of camera shake, which happens when you press the capture button – and the only real way to solve that problem is with a remote or cable release. Because your shutter will be open for longer, the risk of motion blur from ambient light is extremely high.

When you find a scene you enjoy, and have chosen the right angle and frame – you’ll need to set up for a timed exposure. This works best on monuments because they don’t move. People tend to make slow shutter speeds difficult, and you’re bound to come up with some blurred images in the end. Shooting through live view, and not your view finder – will make the process easier.

Keep in mind that if there is almost no light (or no real light sources) in your image, your ISO settings will have to increase, so that you can get proper exposure out of your photo. For well lit areas, however – this just isn’t necessary. Let’s get into the intricacies of photographing people and monuments at night.

People and Night Photography

Here are some night photography tips that matter! Always shoot in RAW mode when capturing images of people at night. Check to see if your DSLR camera has a ‘night mode’ - it usually activates the flash when framing portraits in the evening. Without the flash your subjects might come out very dark, depending on the light sources in the area. Beware of underexposure! It’s a night photography tip you can count on happening.

Great use of depth of field by photographer Tommy Ga-Ken Wan

Your goal is to ensure that your subject is well lit, but that you also capture any ambient light in the background. You’ll constantly be readjusting your settings to try and match this evening light, with the artificial daylight that allows your subject to be seen. Though you’re shooting people, you should always be aware of your background. If it’s too busy, just use depth of field and blur it out to enhance your subject.

Use your landscape to add light to an image if there isn’t enough, or if you’re looking for a more dramatic element in your photo. Water at night casts beautiful reflections of light from cityscapes – and they can make for breathtaking portrait backgrounds. Night photography tips like these will help you recognize photo opportunities as you move through the city, or area that you’re shooting in.

Monuments and Night Photography

Unlike people, monuments give you all the time you need to position, compose and frame your shot. Keep your flash off, and depending on your exposure time – make the necessary adjustments to your ISO, and aperture settings. A monument photo with a 15 second exposure time for example, needs a narrow aperture for greater depth of field. Shoot in RAW mode to get the most out of color and light in your images.

Carefully assess your position, and take a variety of shots from different perspectives and locations. Use symmetry, or other buildings to frame your image, but remember to pick a foreground image for depth and focus. If your sole goal is to shoot a single monument and it’s huge – go for simplicity, focus and clarity. There are very few creative shots of bridges, but there are also few perfect shots of them.

Night Photography Round Up

At the end of the day, after you’re armed with your settings – it’s just you and an unlimited source of subjects, perspectives and creative opportunities. What makes night photography so challenging, is learning to identify prime subjects and interesting spots - and then shooting them before they change. Take this to heart, and you’ll become a well-rounded photographer.

You’ll have far more failed photos than good ones, but don’t be discouraged – that’s just the process that needs to happen. It all becomes worth it when several of your batch turn out to be exquisite. Keep learning more night photography tips and expand your knowledge on the subject. It will only help you improve your skills! 

Also, check out this night photography video on YouTube for more knowledge!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tips to Create Amazing Water Drop Photographs

Tips to Create Amazing Water Drop Photographs

Ever see those amazing shots of water splashing up, frozen in mid air with awesome colours and shapes?  Well, now you can create your own series with these water drop photography special effects.  They are fairly easy to follow and simple enough to setup.  Read on and learn how do them as well.


Required Equipment (as least how I did it)

As with almost anything in photography, you will need to ensure you have the correct gear to do this.  While there are probably a few (if not several) different ways to do the same trick, I am showing you one way.  It will hopefully give you enough ideas try different approaches.

* DLSR camera – you want a camera that has manual settings; the ability to use a remote trigger is key for how I do these shots.  I used my Canon 40D
* A long lens – I used a lens with a 200mm focal length (Canon 70-300 L F4), but use the longest one you have.  You will also want a lens with manual focus capability.
* Extension tubes – only if your lens is not a macro lens, you should consider buying some extension tubes.  They are circular tubes (with no glass) that is placed between your camera and lens.  This allows the lens to focus closer and on smaller objects.
* Tripod – a stable tripod is essential capturing extreme close up shots.   Use what you have, but a heavy, sturdy one will be more stable
* Off Camera Flash – proper lighting is important in all photography, and this is especially true for water photography.
* Flash cord/trigger – Besides an off camera flash, you want to be able use it remotely (unless you have a very, very bright location, but flash works better).  With many Nikon cameras they have built in ability to remotely trigger some of their flashes.  With Canon cameras, you have to buy a Canon trigger (or a trigger from another manufacturer – I bought an inexpensive Chinese made one for under $100 on eBay and it works well with by Canon EX580 II flash).  You can also use a flash cord that does the same thing and is much cheaper.  Make sure you have a long enough one and that the connectors are the correct fit for your camera.
* Remote trigger (optional) – I prefer to use a remote trigger to fire the camera and flash.  The reason is that I can control the exact moment for the shot without having any camera shake.  You can use the timer function as well, but this will be more difficult.

For those eager to leave more photography special effects, click here to learn from a master.

Items you will need for the setup are:

* A wide bowl/pan – to hold the water that we will be focusing on and creating drops in.
* White Bristol board/poster board – I use this behind the water bowl (opposite side of the camera) to bounce the flash off of so we create a nice diffused indirect light.
* Plastic cup – why a plastic cup you ask?  Simple.  I use this to create the water drops.  More to come on that.
* Pin – to create a hole in the plastic cup
* Paper towels – you will make a mess (of water)


The Setup

The basic setup is simple to follow.  This should note take you long before you start taking great photographs of water drops.

* Place the bowl on a table, fill with water (perhaps put a paper towel underneath if you want to protect from splashing)
* Set the camera on the tripod beside the table and compose the shot to be the center of the bowl.  I recommend you play with the angle of the camera to the water.  I found the most success with the camera above the bowl (by about 18 inches) and aim down at your focal point.
* Manually focus the lens.  You want auto focus off as you down what the delay of the camera and lens trying to refocus each time you take a shot.
* Prop the white board on the table behind the bowl (opposite side of the camera).  Place it about 6-12 inches back.
* Place the flash (off the camera) to the back right or back left of the bowl, and aim it at the center of the white cardboard.  When the flash bounces of the cardboard, you will get the nice diffused light hitting the scene.

How to Execute the Shot

Once you have all the items in place above, here is what you want to do.

* Poke a small hole in the bottom of the plastic cup
* Pour some water in and hold it above the center of the bowl
* Ensure you get some water drops coming out and dripping into the bowl.  If no drops come out, you may need to widen the hole a bit.
* Once you have drops coming out (hopefully a slow, rhythmic cycle), you are ready to take some photos.
* Each time a drop comes out and is about to hit the water, press the remote shutter release.  You will need to play with timing of when you press the shutter release to get a great shot.


Some Final Photography Tips for Water Drops

As with any technique, there is room for you to play and experiment to try something new and exciting to get fantastic results.

Shutter Speed – play with how fast the shutter goes to see if you can get a different effect when capturing the motion
Poster Board Colour and Flash Gels – alter these to create a different colour effect on the water.
Vary the Bowl – different bowls (glass, metal, wood, colour and size, etc) will have a different effect on the photo.  Experiment and see what happens!
Image Under a Glass Pan – some people have been known to use a flat, glass pan and will put a photo underneath to try and get the image in the water.  Also, you can have a photo on the poster board and try to have image reflect in the drop.

Learning about photography is never ending.  You can learn more creative photography tips by the book written by the master, Evan Sharboneau, by clicking here.

To learn other tips, try


Monday, June 20, 2011

Lightning Photography Tips: Taking Awesome Lightning Photos

Lightning Photography Tips: Taking Awesome Lightning Photos

Lightning photography tips can help you prepare for that perfect storm, and keep your equipment and yourself safe at the same time. In locations all over the world photographers rush out of their homes to snap some reverent shots of mother- nature’s fury when it happens. It’s a dangerous hobby, and can lead to broken equipment, so it’s good to know what’s waiting for you before you go.


A striking image of lightning over land by photographer MaxinAus

Preparing For a Lightning Shoot

If you happen to be in an area when lightning photography tips will come in handy on your travels – then take down some of these key points.

Finding a Safe Location – Photographers getting struck by lightning is rare, but it doesn’t hurt to follow these simple rules. Stand in the open on level ground, and a fair distance from buildings, power lines, fences, trees or on a hill. Lightning is also attracted to water, so steer clear of any rivers or lakes in the area.

Avoiding The Storm – It’s better to photograph lightning from a distance, or in a location where it isn’t raining. Rain can seep into your camera and debris can scratch your lens, both leading to the same thing – you having to buy a new camera. If you have to go out in the rain, use a camera cover, or a simple plastic bag to keep your camera dry.

Bad Weather Composition – If you’re out in the storm and the wind and rain are pelting you, take a few minutes to check that your composition is good, and that you are properly framing your shots. It’s easy to be distracted or overwhelmed by a bad storm, and end up with bad lightning photos.

Keep an Eye on The Weather – If you know a storm is coming, and prepare for a lightning shoot in advance, your chances of taking great photos drastically improve. Lightning photography tips like this one are understated, but they make all the difference, especially in harsh weather conditions.

Taking Excellent Lightning Photos

When you are forced to take photos in a storm, simple processes like tripod set up, and reducing camera shake – become a challenge. Photographers always come up with inventive ways to solve these problems, by keeping a roll of tape around for extra weight or stabilization.

Your Tripod – Set up your tripod on level ground, and bring along a remote release if you can. It’s remarkably simple to get blurry lightning photos because of climate interference, or manually pressing the shutter open. Lightning photography tips like this one will reduce camera vibrations.

Autofocus and Flash – The first thing you should do is turn off autofocus, so that your wide angle lens doesn’t try and find a subject far off in the distance. Keep your flash off as well, its not going to help you at this great distance.


Stirring imagery by photographer Friday the 13th.

[Click here to learn amazing trick photpgaphy from a pro]

Aperture Priority – Set your camera to AV mode, or aperture priority mode. This will make each photo as sharp as possible, especially when you’re shooting in burst mode. Your shutter speed will have to be set fairly high, or you’ll risk missing those bright strikes you want.

RAW Format – Always shoot in RAW mode, for better color in your images. You can also set your camera to ‘bulb’ mode, which is a manual setting on your DSLR camera. It will help you regulate your shutter speed, to capture striking shots for exposures a little longer than normal.

ISO Settings – With your tripod on hand, you only need a low ISO setting to shoot great lightning photographs. A setting of 50 or 100 ISO is perfect. Lightning photography tips, like keeping your ISO low, will help you produce sharp, clear images.

Composing and Framing Lightning in Photos

If there are other elements in your pictures, you can use a subject in your foreground to properly frame your image. But what happens when it’s just you and the sky? Take note of interesting cloud formations and zoom in for a powerful single strike shot. You should also be aware of the exact locations the lightning is coming from, so that you can capture ‘the branch effect’ with wide angle landscape shots.

You won’t be able to control where the next strike is going to hit, so you’ll have to be patient. Having a quick shutter speed will help you capture those fleeting flashes of lightning – the trick is to keep shooting for as long as you can. These lightning photography tips will prepare you for photography in the storm. Obviously if you’re in a city, the rules change, and it gives you some interesting framing options with lightning above cityscapes.

Your goal is to keep your equipment dry, and to play around with your settings. Higher ISO’s for example, will make the lightning appear much brighter – which could be very rewarding in a well framed image. Like all new ways to capture images, these lightning photography tips are just the beginning. Keep working on your style, and don’t be afraid to try new things in the storm. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Great Silhouette Photography Tips For Beginners

Silhouette Photography Tips for Beginners

Silhouette photography tips can transform a plain image into something extraordinary. Silhouettes are an appealing way to create drama in an image. They say so much more than the average photo, and are brimming with emotion, imagination and meaning.

Classically defined a silhouette is nothing more than a dark image set in contrast against a light background – but the opportunities for capturing something incredible are heightened because of the simplicity involved.

Silhouettes Properly Defined For Photographers

Silhouette photography includes all bold subject matter that would make a thought-provoking composition in any given image. That means people, buildings, animals and objects are all available for you - to try your hand at these excellent silhouette photography tips. But first, you need to understand what it’s all about, so that you can start seeing opportunities for great silhouettes yourself.


Warm light surrounding a sharp silhouette by photographer Stu-pot78

The most important part of silhouette photography is – lighting. The dark subject can be broody and interesting, but it must be enhanced with a natural light source behind it. Photographers have found fascinating ways to boost the emotion of their silhouette images by contrasting them with varied light, imaginative settings and strong symbolic resonances.

It’s your goal as a silhouette photographer to find these same features for some groundbreaking photos of your own. Silhouette photography tips can really improve your composition and exposure. Here are some brilliant features to notice when creating your first set of silhouette photos.

Your Background – The background of your image might not be the focal point, but it needs to be interesting in order to enhance your subject. Strong light, shapes and patterns are a few things you need to look out for to create a memorable silhouette.

Your Subject – The 2D subject of your image can be completely black, or partially black depending on the statement you’re trying to make with your image. It should block the resonant light source, and draw attention to the drama of your photo.

Camera Settings For Silhouette Photography

These silhouette photography tips will help you set up your camera, to properly capture a dark subject and a light background. Begin by turning off your flash so that your subject doesn’t receive any light at all.


A great example of exquisite framing by photographer Nathan Hunter

Exposure – Use the light metering on your camera to focus in on the light in your background. You can also use the auto-focus function – first focus it on the light part of your image, then reframe with your silhouette. More advanced photographers can tweak the manual settings by making the exposure of light the focus, on your photo.

Framing – The most important silhouette photography tips are about framing. If you don’t frame your image right, you could lose the mood or capture an angle that doesn’t set off the tone of the image. Try a few shots with direct sunlight in the background – at sunset – and centre your subject in the middle of your frame.

Aperture – You’ll want to capture a large portion of the background, so a narrow aperture will work best. Once you learn more about the manual aperture settings, you can play around with them to get the most out of your scene.

The Finer Points of Silhouette Photography

When searching for silhouette photography tips, you’ll often find advice on the larger features of an image, but never the finer points that make one extra-special. To make your human subject more interesting for example, capture their profile – or even better, set up for a shoot when it is windy.

You want to immortalize their sharp dark lines, their activity, to make the shot truly magnificent. Actively look for opportunities to capture lively silhouette photos. Something as simple as walking on the beach at sunset can render incredible images.

While a posed or still silhouette can be very stirring, you’ll often find that capturing a silhouette in motion can give your photo an authenticity that these still images lack. Trial and error is the basis of good silhouette photography, so don’t be afraid to try different settings, challenging subjects or tweak your own personal process.

The Essence of Silhouette Photography

These silhouette photography tips should help you create some excellent images, full of emotion and pensive simplicity. Remember that your images shouldn’t contain any shadows, your subject needs to be completely 2D to work – with depth and light flooding in from the background.

A decent silhouette is so easy to capture that you can do it with a point and shoot camera. The difficult part comes in when you choose your subject, position your camera and frame your shot! These skills you’ll have to build up over time. Some of the best silhouette photographers still get it wrong, but the trick is to take your time – find that drama and keep shooting until you hit that one photo that trumps the rest.

Build up a portfolio of your best shots, and take notes when you discover personal silhouette photography tips in the field. Get close to your subject and try distance photos using these settings and tips. You’ll soon find out what you enjoy most, and will be able to knit together your own style when shooting silhouettes.

For more tips like this, check out my site at

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Excellent Fireworks Photography Tips

Excellent Fireworks Photography Tips

(Presented by

Fireworks photography is a favorite for both beginners and advanced photographers using DSLR cameras. The appeal of the night sky adorned with blazing light, sparking out in breathtaking designs – is enough to get even the most hesitant photographer reaching for their equipment in excitement. And with the 4th of July (as well as Canada Day) less than a month away, you may want to be prepared.


Exquisite timing by photographer William McIntosh

To improve your fireworks photos so that they really pop, check out this great list of fireworks photography tips – for sharper, brighter and more striking landscape photos.

Tip #1: Planning Ahead For Success

For excellent fireworks photography you will need to know a few basic things. The first is your position, or distance from the fireworks display. Distance will affect your DSLR camera settings, and the way you frame your images. You’ll want to find a spot that is not only fairly level for your tripod, but that encompasses the surrounding scenery for easy framing and composition.

Keep in mind that the weather also plays a large part in the photos you’ll be taking. Too much wind blowing in your direction, means that smoke will fog up your images, and they’ll come out hazy and unclear. Fireworks photography is about planning ahead. These displays are usually held on holidays, and a lot of people show up to watch. Be sure to get there first so that you can choose the most ideal spot for the best photos possible.

Tip #2: Proper Set Up For Clear Shots

The most important fireworks photography tip, is knowing your DSLR camera’s capabilities. If you feel your lens for example, is not going to make the grade – then hire one for the event. The last thing you want is to realize at the last minute that your zoom lens can’t cope with the distance between you and the fireworks. Here are some suggestions on how to set up your DLSR camera.

Your Tripod – Even professional photographers will admit that photos don’t come out nearly as well if they leave their tripod at home. Your goal is to keep your camera level and steady – so that it can shoot at maximum efficiency. If there are people all around you, carve out your section and keep it clear. A cable release is also a good idea, but practice with it beforehand, or you may end up missing the best parts of the show.

Aperture Setting – It might be night time when you shoot, but you only need a small aperture to capture that amount of light. A narrow aperture is best, but keep your distance in mind, and your flash off. Don’t exceed f/16 or your camera will automatically diffuse the light and you won’t get clear, sharp lines when the fireworks go off. For fireworks photography an aperture of f/8 and above will do.

Shutter Speed – Fireworks photography can be difficult because of timing, and the speed at which the fireworks are launched and explode. But this doesn’t mean you need to shoot in burst mode, quite the opposite. Long exposures (3-10 seconds) will help you capture the movement and light streaks in the sky. For quick sharp shots, burst mode will do, with a high shutter speed.

Light Sensitivity – Set your DSLR camera’s ISO low, so that you don’t get overexposure or additional noise in your shots. There is plenty of light up there in the sky, so ISO 100 or less is optimal. To reduce noise even more, check to see if your camera has a noise reduction option, if it does – turn it on.

Tip #3: Framing and Composition

As a fireworks photographer, it’s your job to capture the most breathtaking scenes as they happen. This means brushing up on your composition and framing. You should be prepared to move around after a while for new perspectives as well. First, use a wide depth of field, and focus manually with your lens. Once you have the general focus in place, you can tweak it as the show progresses.


Incredible framing and composition by photographer Altus

Water – Fireworks photography is most striking above water. If there’s water in your scene you can frame some great shots of the reflections below.

Buildings – Use the cityscape, or landscape around your fireworks display to set the mood for your image. Your goal is to give your image depth, context and a focal point that doesn’t include the fireworks themselves.

People – Crowds can add even more emotion to a fireworks display. Luminous bursts of light that are cast on the landscape below - always makes for an interesting photo.

Tip #4: Using The Right Lens

You will need a wide angle lens for fireworks photography. This is because a shorter lens will almost certainly cut out most of the show – and you want the whole picture when you’re shooting. Ideally a 20-35mm lens will work well, and will help you fill your frame with bright colors and stirring compositions.

If you’re a compulsive photo reviewer, then you’ll need to repress these urges at the event. Firework displays end before they begin, and you need to be prepared and shooting the whole time. Don’t be afraid to test your skills by adjusting your settings yourself – sometimes that produces the most interesting photos of all. Fireworks photography is exhilarating, so get these basics right and you’ll produce some excellent photos on the night.

To learn more tips and tricks, visit our site at

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Review - Wedding Photographer - Mexico

Selecting a wedding photographer can be a daunting task, especially if you are getting married in another country and can’t meet with them in person. While this review, I hope to shed some light on one photography company that my wife and I used for our wedding in Cancun, Mexico – La Luna Photography.

My wife and I used La Luna Photography for our wedding at Moon Palace in Cancun, and we were exceptionally happy! I recommend them to anyone looking for a photographer for the wedding in the Cancun area.

We are very par
ticular with photography and spent a considerable amount of time reviewing our options in the Cancun area. We looked at the work of several other photographers in the area and evaluated their photographic style, their creativity, the clarity of the photographs, and how well they seemed to be processed. After all the searching, we ending up selecting La Luna Photography.

Our initial contact was to email them asking some basic questions. They were very prompt to reply to us and answered
all of our questions quickly and clearly. The next step for us was to decide on which photographer to select. Of course this is based on who was available the day of our wedding (remember to book now to ensure you get your choice!). Our decision was unanimous - we wanted Melissa to photography us! So we let the team at La Luna know and booked her to ensure she would be there for our day.

During th
is time, they also had us fill in a client survey. This survey was very useful for them to understand what were looking for and get the key details. If I recall, some of the questions were: names of parents, what start and end time we wanted, what kind of sessions we wanted (getting ready, ceremony, reception, etc.). And one that was very interesting and a good idea to ask - is there anything the need to be aware of to avoid mentioning, asking, doing, etc. to avoid an uncomfortable situation for anyone at the wedding. Good idea!

At the time of booking, we paid a deposit (which I think was 50% of the fee). They allowed me to pay by credit card on their web site, which was really convenient.

As they wedding date approached, they proactively contacted us to sort out the key details of the wedding day so they would be prepared and would arrive on time. Remember - make sure you have an arrangement at the hotel for your wedding photographers.

The day of the wedding, Melissa and Rodrigo arrived ahead of schedule (a good thing for sure!). Melissa met up with my wife and her maid of honour to start the getting ready shots, and Rodrigo did the same for my best man and I.

Our ove
rall experience was fantastic. Both Melissa and Rodrigo suggested many creative shots, were excellent at keeping the photoshoot on track, are very friendly and easy to work with, were excellent in English (which may be a concern for some of you - no worries here), and projected a HUGE amount of passion for what they did. In fact, a few of our friends even commented on how their passion for photography was so evident and were impressed. During the whole time they were there, the moved about very swiftly, from one position to the next, ensuring they covered our wedding from all angles (literally!). And they were exceptionally aware of what times the lighting would be best and would mobilize quickly to take advantage of that.

If all of this has not convinced you, please check our our photo gallery at the link below.

I hope this review helps you decide on a great photographer for your wedding day!!