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!!