Published On: Mon, Jun 30th, 2014

Virtual Photography Studio

“tips, resources, and advice for using your camera to build a successful photography business.”

7 Tips on How to Use a Softbox for Portraits

Posted on December 8th, 2017

Quite a few elements come into play when creating a great portrait. But an argument can be made that lighting is the most important. Shadow and lack of it can transform the entire feel of a picture.

A softbox is among the more popular options when one needs to carefully control lighting. In the following article we’ll examine how to how to use a softbox for portraits. These seven tips will give photographers a perfect skillset to build upon.

1. Intensity and Scaling

how to use a softbox for portraits

When people learn how to use a softbox for portraits they’ll typically face some sizing issues. A softbox functions through a continual rebound effect. The softbox’s enclosed area creates a light source which operates somewhat differently than normal. As such, one should relearn some basic techniques to get the most out of a softbox.

One important tip to keep in mind is that size and proximity work inversely to normal expectations. If one wants to create softer light than the softbox needs to scale up rather than down. A larger softbox can create softer light. Likewise, a softbox produces softer emphasis on a subject as they move together.

2. Create Movie Poster Lighting

middle aged man photographed using monster lighting

Movie posters often utilize a particular lighting trick. It’s used so often in movie posters that people often refer to it as movie poster lighting. It’s a fantastic way of pushing light upward to capture the nuance of a beautiful face.

Movie poster lighting is easy to create with a softbox. Positioning comes up fairly often when learning how to use a softbox for portraits. The other main point which tends to come up quite often is communication. A photographer needs to communicate positioning details to the models. Learning how to use a softbox for portraits usually involves learning how to give directions as well.

In this case one needs to position the lightbox underneath a model. The photographer will then need to have the model move around to test lighting conditions. The most important part of this is her head position. The softbox will bring different facial features into prominence as the model moves her head. A subtle shift in posture will often bring out some amazing effects when paired with a softbox.

3. Using Light Itself as the Background

fashion photography

Backgrounds are a vital part of a great portrait shot. Learning how to use a softbox for portraits should maintain this significance. Use of a softbox presents some exciting new background options. The softlight itself can create the portrait’s background. The main tip relates to changing the normal softbox position.

The photographer should place a softbox behind the subject. This is counterintuitive given that softboxes are usually meant to remove shadows. Instead, this will create shadow. But it’s more in the sense of a silhouette.

From here the photographer can position the model. It’s often best to test a variety of different poses to get the best effect. The silhouette can perfectly highlight areas of particular note. It simply takes a little experimentation to find the best position.

4. The Bay Window Effect

Neewer 6x1.5m Nylon Silk

Bay windows are a popular decorating choice for good reason. Bay windows can present beautiful lighting for both rooms and the people within them. However, simulating a bay window effect with softboxes can produce superior results.

The technique involves draping translucent silk over the softbox. It’s important to position the silk some distance from the actual softbox though. There shouldn’t be direct contact between softbox and silk. A distance of around five or six feet will usually work best.

The end effect is a brighter and crisper shot. The extent of this can be further controlled by moving the subject and box further apart.

5. Create a Beautiful Glow

shooting with softboxes in small spaces

When learning how to use a softbox for portraits, people often need to unlearn some habits. One very important tip to keep in mind involves space. A portrait done with softbox lighting can be shot in very different environments. Those environments can also produce unique effects.

Photographers can use this principle to create a subtle glow in their subjects. The easiest way to do so is by using smaller enclosed areas. The photographer will move a softbox into very close proximity to his subject.

He should position himself within that sphere of light as well. The photographer can judge the distance by this feeling of envelopment. When one feels enveloped by the light, the shot should produce the needed glow.

6. Secondary Reflections

secondary reflection

A softbox functions by bouncing light around within an enclosed environment. When learning how to use a softbox for portraits, one can build upon that principle. The light will first bounce around inside the softbox. The reflected light inside a softbox is a primary source.

When framing the portrait layout one should consider additional reflective elements. Obviously nothing should take too much emphasis off of the primary subject. But highlighting elements near a portion which deserves more attention is a fantastic way to draw an eye.

White surfaces will usually provide some extra reflective ability. One can combine these white surfaces with items that have a more refractive ability. Glass objects or gemstones are the perfect example. They’ll pick up some beautiful traits when used with secondary light from softboxes.

7. Group Compositing with a Softbox

business people photographed in the office

Shooting a group of people poses some unique challenges. A group shot can easily make connections with different demographics. For example, a picture with people of different ages should connect with a similar audience.

Every person in the shot is an important connection to the audience. Placing extra emphasis on one over another will decrease the technique’s effectiveness. But traditional lighting is almost certain to do so thanks to shadows and diffusion. A softbox is usually the answer when photographers find problematic shadows.

Shadows on groups of people can be harder to handle though. Even a softbox will sometimes end up overwhelmed by group pictures. Photographers can get around this problem through less conventional use of softboxes.

The softbox is first set up to shine in a horizontal orientation. One will then orient the light to perfectly highlight a specific person. Finally, the photographer can take the softbox lit shot. The trick is to do this individually for every person in the group in quick succession.

The photographer can then composite the pictures into a singular whole. This trick gives perfect softbox lighting to everyone in the group. In doing so it maintains emphasis on every individual who’s a part of the shot.

Summing Up

These tips show just how much a softbox can do. It’s a fairly simple tool when compared to most photography equipment. But the simplicity hides some amazing versatility.

Just changing the position of a softbox can create dramatically different results. The tips showcase just how much one can gain through experimentation. It’s easy to build upon these tips to create innovative new techniques.

Image Source: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

8 Best Photography Portfolio Websites to Showcase Your Talent

Posted on November 16th, 2017

Part of being a successful photographer is building an effective portfolio. With the advent of the digital age, it became particularly important to create an online portfolio website. There are a lot of different factors to consider when choosing a reputable provider like the overall costs, supported features, and file type limits. This article is going to cover eight of the best photography portfolio websites available based on user popularity.

1. Format

Format is one of the best photography portfolio websites to consider. It offers four different plans to consider starting at $6 a month and going up to $44 a month when billed annually. The most basic plan is designed more for personal use and supports up to 100 images and unlimited video uploads.

Where Format excels is in its large theme collection. They divide them into five different categories based on their display type and they are very easy to use. The online store feature comes standard with all package plans and is an excellent way to help grow your online business.

Format, best photography portfolio websites

2. 22Slides

Another one of the best photography portfolio websites available is 22Slides. One of the best features of this service is that there is no upselling and they utilize one of the easiest to understand pricing models. They only charge $10 a month for their services and there are no additional plans to pick and choose from. Their pricing includes a free custom domain name with one year as well.

Their templates are perfect for users who prefer to do a bit more customization and are very easy to use. The service is completely free to use for 30 days and requires no credit card information to try it out.

22Slides photography portfolio website

3. SmugMug

SmugMug is another one of the best photography portfolio websites. One of the nicest things about this service is that templates are completely customizable allowing for a more unique website design. For users who are a bit less technically inclined, you can still create a functional website using their predefined settings.

They offer four different pricing levels on their website that support various levels of website control and commercialization tools. One downside is that the user interface side can take a bit of adjusting. However, it is still a great site for new and experienced photographers alike.

SmugMug, one of the best photography portfolio websites

4. AllYou

For users who prefer a more simple approach, AllYou is one of the best photography portfolio websites for you. While it is much simpler to use, it is important to note that this also somewhat limits your website design choices. Their service currently only offers 25 templates to choose from.

However, their pricing plans do make up for it and are very easy to understand. The two plans they offer are Carbon and Titanium costing $8 and $12 a month when billed annually. All packages include a custom name, landing page, and mobile compatibility view. You also receive access to 24/7 email support as well.

AllYou photography website

5. Foto Merchant

With a variety of customizable photo gallery layouts, Foto Merchant is another one of the best photography portfolio websites available. Another one of the best features that this service has is the innovative store design. This is perfect for selling prints and other merchandise from your custom designed website.

You can also easily manage digital file licensing rights by using their platform as well. As far as pricing goes, they have four different plan levels. The lowest plan is $7 a month and the highest goes for $80 each month. New customers are eligible for a free trial on all eligible plans as well.

Foto Merchant website screenshot

6. PhotoShelter

If you’re serious about commercializing your photography work, PhotoShelter is likely the best photography portfolio website for you. They have a wide range of template options that support quick website creation. They also offer additional services that are very beneficial to setting up your online business like cloud storage and e-commerce tools.

They also offer an impressive selection of advertising solutions that can help increase the traffic to your website. Unfortunately, they are one of the pricier options available. Their base plan starts at $10 a month and their most expensive plan is $35 a month. It’s still an excellent choice for users who want a more comprehensive service.

PhotoShelter portfolio website

7. Cargo Collective

Cargo Collective is another excellent choice for photographers who want to start their own portfolio website. They have an impressive selection of customizable templates that can help you set up your own custom website in minutes.

One of the nicest things about this service is that it supports drag and drop customization making it an excellent choice for photographers. If you have a bit of basic HTML knowledge, you can further customize the look and feel of each page. This is also an excellent choice for users who do video work as well since it supports Youtube, Vimeo, and SoundCloud content.

Cargo Collective screenshot

8. FolioLink

FolioLink is another popular photography portfolio website service. One of its nicest features is that it supports batch photo uploads making it an ideal choice for artists who have lots of samples to share. Customer service is also readily available and can assist with a broad range of basic questions relating to their website design service.

They have two main pricing plans that cost $15 and $21 each month for the first six months. After the promotional period, the price climbs to $19 and $29 each month when billed annually. With their broad range of template options and numerous features, they are a great option to consider.

FolioLink screenshot

Summing Up

The eight services we covered are among the best photography portfolio websites available. They all offer a variety of exciting templates, are owned by reputable companies, and support many different types of files. Take your time browsing the selections we covered and pick the one that is most suitable for your needs. Once you’ve tried out their services, feel free to tell us about your experience with them.

The One Photography Equipment List You Need to Read

Posted on November 8th, 2017

Photography as a hobby can be a great way to express yourself, can be a rewarding experience, and in some cases can be a lucrative path to a successful career. For the most part, when you first start your photography venture, a camera, a memory card for your DSLR, and a single lens is a good way to begin.

You can practice your newfound skill before you move on to adding to your photography bag of tricks and expanding your choices. Once you have really started to delve in, you can think about new lenses and other equipment. This article will give you a recommended photography equipment list to help get you started in the right direction.

1. The Camera

female photographer shooting outdoors

Obviously the most important, and often the most confusing and stressful part on your photography equipment list, is the camera. This is your main piece of equipment and many people get overwhelmed with the options and features to choose from. You will want to choose something you can afford. However, there are many technical specifications that can prove to be difficult to understand. Do a little research and get to know shutter speeds, megapixels, types of viewfinders, etc.

For a good beginner’s camera that can grow with you, here are some good features to keep in mind:

  • High ISO. An ISO refers to a camera’s sensitivity. A higher ISO will give you a better ability to take photos in a low light situation.
  • Camera Settings. A DSLR will work great for you on a budget and often has many valuable settings. Think about what you are likely to shoot and cater to that aspect of your hobby. Once you get more professional, think about moving on to a mirrorless camera or expanding your lenses.
  • Budget. Consider a used camera body if you are on a tight budget. This is a great way to save a little cash that you can apply to other equipment.
  • Megapixels. More mega pixels means a sharper image that you can freely enlarge in scale without losing quality and it getting blurry.

2. Lenses

Nikon lens

If you speak to people very involved in photography, you will likely get the majority opinion that the most important item on your photography equipment list are the lenses you equip your bag with. You will quickly notice that the price range of lenses are great and the choices are overwhelming. They can definitely become the most expensive aspect of the hobby.

Here are some lenses to consider for your photography equipment list in the beginning:

  • Prime. A prime lens is sort of like a point and shoot lens. It has no zoom and has one focal length. Many people are familiar with a 35mm lens and find it a comfortable choice to start with. A 50mm lens is also a good choice.
  • Zoom. Sometimes you can get a zoom lens as part of a kit that comes with your camera body. These tend to be low quality and many choose to buy a better one instead. A zoom lens does exactly what the name suggests. It gives you the ability to move in closer on a subject using the lens instead of having to move yourself or any equipment.
  • Telephoto. These lenses will allow you to blur backgrounds so you can focus on your subject. They can also help change the perspective of your photo.

Once you get more involved, you will understand your choices more and can look for specific lenses to fulfill specific project needs.

3. Tripod

Photographer using tripod

An often overlooked piece on the photography equipment list is a good tripod. If you do not realize the importance of a well-made tripod immediately, you will later. If you are doing stills or want to adjust your subject, being able to set up your shot and move between the two without having to readjust your camera every time you step back into position can be a time and frustration saver. A tripod will give you a place to set up your shot and leave your camera in position.

4. Ballhead

Believe it or not this is sold separately from the tripod. You can choose a specific strength to meet the weight of your camera and lens to avoid slippage on the tripod as you work.

5. Film or Memory Cards

Do not forget this photography equipment list essential. For digital cameras, make sure to have a few memory cards to store your photos. SLR cameras will need good old traditional film rolls. Be sure to have plenty because there is nothing more frustrating than running out of film or memory before your shoot is complete.

6. Extra accessories

  • Batteries are a necessity. Having extras on hand can prevent a shoot from ending before you are ready.
  • Lens cleaning supplies are also necessary. Keep a supply with you so that you can properly care for your expensive lenses while on a shoot.
  • Grey card. These really help keep your white balance spot on. They are easy to use and can make a big difference in your shots.
  • Filters. A polarizing filter is great to have around for keeping colors vibrant, cutting out glare and reflection, and shooting through glass. If you are an outdoors photographer, this is a must have.
  • A comfortable strap and roomy Bag. Lugging equipment can be a pain- literally. Invest a little bit more into a strap with some padding – your shoulders will thank you. A good bag will protect your equipment and keep you organized.

7. Software and Hardware

  • Software Programs. There is a lot of competing software brands out there to choose from. Some will offer more ways to manipulate your photos. Others will give you some simple adjustments to just tweak lighting and color. Choose what is right for you.
  • External Drive. This will give you a place to back up your photos.
  • Memory Card Reader. These will save you time and frustration because often it takes a long time to go straight from the card in your camera to a computer. A memory card reader will definitely speed things up.

Summing Up

This photography equipment list is not all inclusive but it gives you a general idea of what to buy to get started. Start with the basics and allow your equipment to grow as your hobby grows. That is the best way to stay within your budget, learn the ropes, and get the most enjoyment out of your new hobby without breaking the bank.

Image Source: 1, 2, 3

Depth of Field in Photography – A Beginner’s Guide

Posted on October 26th, 2017

Understanding how to manipulate depth of field in photography to focus and enhance the subject of a photograph is as essential to the art form as finding the light. The depth of field surrounding the subject of a photograph can be used as a spotlight to focus the viewer’s eyes of a classic portrait shot. The wide, large depth of field used in landscape shots serves to emphasize the scene’s great breadth.

Read on to find useful information on identifying depth of field in photography and what factors can affect its size.

What Is Depth of Field in Photography?

depth of field in photograph

‘Depth of Field’ refers to the zone between the closest and farthest objects in a photograph that still appear acceptably sharp. While a camera can only focus on one point, there is a gradual transition from in-focus to blurred and out-of-focus images. This area of sharpness is highly variable from one photograph to the next. The distance can be affected by things like the type of camera used to capture the photograph, the length of the camera’s lens, and the distance between the camera and the subject of the photograph.

How to Choose the Right Depth of Field

Managing depth of field in photography allows the photographer to enhance the impact of the subject of the photograph and direct the viewer’s attention to the most important part of the image. Learning how to manipulate the focal points in an image allows the photographer to have greater artistic flexibility and creativity.

1. Narrow Depth of Field

insect photographed up-close

A photograph is said to have a narrow depth of field when there is only a small area of acceptable sharpness. The images in the foreground and background are blurred. Using a narrow depth of field allows the subject of the photograph to shine. This type of photography is best for capturing portraits, wildlife, and sporting events. In these scenarios, the photographer seeks to isolate the subject from the busy background so that the subject stands out.

2. Large Depth of Field

Flowers at the beach and the sea in the background

A large depth of field means that much of the photograph is crispy and clear. There is only a small area of blurriness in the foreground. Most photographs of landscapes are shot using a large depth of field. This allows the camera to capture as much of the scenic background in focus as possible.

What Affects Depth of Field in photography?

The primary way to control depth of field in photography is by adjusting the camera’s aperture. Aperture types and sizes vary by camera. The two other factors that can impact the depth of field are the camera’s lens and the distance between the camera and the subject of the photograph.

1. Type of Camera

Different types and brands of cameras have various sized imaging sensors inside the cameras. An imaging sensor is the mechanism inside the camera that converts light into a viewable image. The larger the imaging sensor on a camera, the more narrow the depth of field will be at any given aperture.
A camera with a smaller sensor can use a shorter focal length or be positioned physically further away from the subject and attain the same image size as a camera with a larger sensor. The larger sensor requires a longer focal length or to be close to the subject of the image in order to obtain a comparable photograph.

2. Aperture

A camera’s aperture is the adjustable opening inside the lens that allows light to enter the camera and be processed by the imaging sensor. The size, or diameter of the aperture hole, determines the amount of light that enters the lens at any given time. The larger the size of the aperture, the narrower the depth of field. Conversely, the smaller the size of the aperture, the larger the depth of field.

Some cameras have a feature called the “F-number” or F-stop”. This number represents the ratio of the focal length, discussed below, to the aperture diameter. A small number means the aperture opening is large and sending lots of light to the camera’s imaging sensor. On the other hand, a large number means the aperture opening is small and less light.

3. Focal Length

The focal length is the distance between a camera’s lens and imaging sensor when the subject of the photograph is in focus. This number is represented in millimeters (mm). A high number means the camera has better zoom capabilities. The higher the number, the more narrow the depth of field.

Below is a helpful chart that shows the most common focal lengths and their corresponding depth of fields:

  • 70mm = Largest Depth of Field.
  • 100mm = Large Depth of Field.
  • 200mm = Narrow Depth of Field.
  • 300mm = Most Narrow Depth of Field.

4. Distance between Subject and Camera

Setting up the camera the correct distance from the subject of the photograph and the background is paramount to determining the possible depth of field. Depth of field in photography can be as simple as remembering the saying “two steps forward, one step back”The closer the camera is placed to the focal point, or subject matter of the photograph, the less depth of field is possible in the image.

Summing Up

The best way for any new (or even an experienced) photographer to perfect an image’s depth of field is by taking as many photographs as possible. Experimenting with focal length and subject distance is a great way to see how changes to the depth of field can affect the overall, aesthetic tone of a photograph. For a more narrow depth of field, a photographer should position the camera closer to the subject or opening the camera’s aperture. Conversely, for a large depth of field, a photographer should move away from the subject and open the camera’s aperture.

Image Source: 1, 2, 3

7 Photography Contract Apps to Ease Your Paperwork

Posted on October 18th, 2017

There are a lot of legal forms that need to be completed when a photography takes on a job. Two of the most common are model and property releases. With the rise of smartphones, you can now complete these types of releases using your smartphone while on the go. This article is going to cover seven of the best photography contract app choices, including their main features and links to their respective download sites.

Hipster desktop with male hands

Image Source: DepositPhotos

1. Easy Release

Download on iOS or on Android

One of the best photography contract app choices to consider is Easy Release. This app is perfect for users who have both Android and iOS devices. The app is used to create model and property release forms in a variety of different language types. It offers a lot of customization with options like logos and banners, addendums, shooting date ranges, and custom legal release input fields.

The interface supports seven different language options as well. You can easily use your device’s camera to snap pictures of identification and attach them to your model release forms. When you’re all finished, you simply email the completed form to yourself.

Features

  • Releases are available in 13 different languages.
  • Fully customizable legal text fields.
  • Branding header supports a broad range of logo types.
  • Supports multiple shooting date ranges.
  • Import model and witness information directly from contacts.

2. Image Release

Download on iOS.

Image Release is another one of the best photography contract app options to consider. This one is a great fit for users who prefer to use cloud storage services like Dropbox to store their release forms. If you prefer, you can print your releases in PDF or JPG format in standard letter size to give out to your clients and models as needed. You can also prepare and store your release forms in advance to help speed things up when you arrive on set to shoot. The app is compatible with most iOS devices. It also comes with free updates for life and doesn’t have any additional in-app purchase requirements.

Features

  • Supports 12 different language types.
  • Compatible with a broad range of cloud storage services like Dropbox.
  • Images can be exported in either JPG or PDF format.
  • Search function simplifies locating specific releases.
  • No additional purchases or subscriptions required.

3. Releases by Snapwire

Download on iOS.

Snapwire is another one of the best photography contract app choices to consider. It is perfect for both model and property release needs and is very easy to use. As you continue to use the app, it gets easier since it automatically stores information to easily paste in for later shoots when needed. The app is designed to be compatible with most current iOS devices and is completely free. One downside is that it does not support legal text modification like some other apps. It also does not offer additional language support like some of the other options currently available.

Features

  • Completely free to download and use.
  • Stores photographer information for easy use on future forms.
  • Nine different industry standard templates to choose from.
  • Syncs with various cloud programs.
  • Easily exportable in PDF format.

4. Releases by 500px

Download on iOS.

Another one of the best photography contract app choices available is Releases by 500px. This app is suitable for both property and model releases and is available for iOS devices. One of its best features is that it is completely free. It syncs with services like Dropbox and Box to easily store your documents for future use. This app is best suited for basic needs and for users who are seeking a really simple user interface. Two downsides worth mentioning are that the app doesn’t support ID upload via camera and there is no additional language support.

Features

  • User interface is clean and easy to use.
  • Free to use with no purchase requirements.
  • Syncs with storage programs like Dropbox and Box.
  • Documents export quickly and easily in PDF format.
  • Model information can be saved for future shoots.

5. Forms by LegalShield

Download on iOS or on Android.

Forms by LegalShield is another one of the best photography contract app choices available. The actual app is free but requires a subscription to LegalShield to fully use. It supports a broad range of document types including model releases, property releases, and other things like property rentals. Additional forms can always be downloaded from the LegalShield website as long as your membership remains active. This app is best suited for users who prefer to have the backing of a trusted legal provider behind them when creating documents.

Features

  • Identification can be attached via your device’s camera.
  • Multiple types of legal documents are supported.
  • Legal questions can be answered at any time.
  • Forms can be sent directly to the model for their signature.
  • Supports several export methods.

6. Model Release Maker

Download on iOS or on Android.

Model Release Maker is another one of the best photography contract app choices available today. The basic app is completely free and includes 12 different model release templates to choose from. It also supports uploading a copy of your model’s ID using the camera on your device. If you decide to go with the paid version, you can easily attach your brand logo to your documents and remove all the advertisements. It also supports a larger assortment of photographer profiles for larger studios.

Features

  • Available as either a free or paid version.
  • Paid version supports a larger assortment of photographer profiles.
  • Directly import model information from previous forms.
  • Supports custom model release forms.
  • Completed forms can be stored securely via cloud storage.

7. JAM Pact: Easy Contract Maker

Download on Android.

Another one of the best photography contract app choices to consider is JAM Pact. This program supports a broad range of contract types and is very easy to use and customize. It supports several default template types that can be customized as needed based on the job. The app is free and advertisement supported but users can unlock an ad-free experience for a small upgrade fee. It also supports multiple signers as well for larger gigs. Completed contract copies can be sent via email to all parties involved with just the touch of a button.

Features

  • Multiple contract types supported.
  • Easy to use interface.
  • Completely free with an ad-free option available.
  • Share completed contracts via email.
  • Supports custom logo placement.

Summing Up

All of the photography contract apps reviewed in this article are perfect for ensuring you have completed the required legal forms before beginning work in a new shooting area. Take your time browsing our top picks and pick the one that is best suited for your needs. Feel free to tell us about your experience with the app of your choice as well.

9 Best Free Online Photography Courses

Posted on October 11th, 2017

Photography is about much more than taking a camera and pushing a button. There are factors like lighting, exposure, and post-processing to consider. Mastering these elements takes plenty of time and patience. Fortunately, there are a variety of courses online that can help. This article is going to cover nine of the best free online photography courses available today.

Sony camera and laptop

1. Basics of Photography: The Complete Guide by LifeHacker

One of the best free online photography courses to try is the Basics of Photography by Lifehacker. This course is designed to teach new uses a broad range of tips and tricks to help them get started.

The course starts by familiarizing users with how their camera works and explains what all goes into picking the perfect camera to fit your needs. As you progress further in the course, you will learn how to take advantage of a variety of automatic settings before learning how to take custom shots on your own. This is definitely a perfect course for new users who have limited to no background knowledge.

2. Intermediate Photography Course by PhotographyCourse.net

As the name implies, the Intermediate Photography Course is one of the best free online photography courses for intermediate users. The course was designed by PhotographyCourse.net and is intended to teach users a wide range of interesting photography techniques.

Some of the subjects covered in the course include depth of field, white balance, polarizing filter usage tips, and discussions on composition. It also goes into detail about proper reflector usage making this an ideal course for users who are thinking about going into professional photography in the future. Each subject is broken down into easy to understand modules for added convenience.

3. Your Road To Better Photography by Udemy

Your Road To Better Photography is another one of the best free online photography courses available created by Corey Reese. This course is suitable for both beginners and experienced users alike. For more experienced individuals, this course will be more of a refresher for certain key core fundamentals.

The course has 28 minutes of on-demand video that users can stop and pause as needed throughout the course. It also has four articles that talk about different aspects of photography including insider tips for improving your average shot quality.

4. Lighting 101 by Strobist

Proper lighting can really make or break a professional photo shoot. This is why Lighting 101 by Strobist is another one of the best free photography courses. The course is completely text based and is suitable for those of you who prefer to read at your own pace during your free time.

Each section is broken down into easy to understand language that provides a few photographic examples. It also includes specific equipment examples to help set new users on the right path if they do not already have a flash for their camera.

5. The Art of Photography by Open2Study

For users who prefer a more complete course, The Art of Photography is one of the best free online photography courses to consider. It’s taught by Dr. Shane Hulbert and teaches things like how to understand exposure, how to identify pixels, and what is RAW and why you should use it.

The Open2Study course is divided into four modules that each have 10 videos. Each model has nine quizzes and one assessment to measure your understanding of the material. If you’re serious about photography, this is one course you cannot miss.

6. Professional Family Portraits by Kirk Tuck

If you have always wanted to learn to take professional looking family portraits, this is one of the best free online photography courses for you. Professional Family Portraits is taught by Kirk Tuck and features five different modules that are very easy to follow.
Each module has an HD video that can be stopped and paused at any time for you to catch up. Some of the subjects that are touched on include ambient lighting, proper locations for group photos, and processing.

7. Ditch Auto – Start Shooting In Manual by Jared Hill

If you’re stuck shooting in auto due to lack of knowledge or confidence, this may be one of the best free online photography courses for you. Ditch Auto – Start Shooting In Manual is designed for DSLR cameras and is approximately four hours in length.
While the course is very detailed, it is self-paced and can be paused as needed for you to practice with your camera. It is a great resource for users who have just gotten their first DSLR camera.

8. Cambridge In Colour Courses

Cambridge In Colour is another great resource for new photographers. They offer a broad range of courses that are designed to teach the basics in an easy to follow format. All of the courses are completely free and you can interact with other users via the forums for additional help and support.

Some examples of the courses they currently offer include focal length and aperture, camera exposure, and understanding depth of field. Visit their website to take a look at their updated course catalog.

9. Getting Started with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5

Getting Started with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 course is designed to teach users how to use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 from start to finish. Each section is broken down into videos ranging from 10 minutes to 20 minutes in length. You will find a wide range of topics ranging from how to upload your photos for editing to applying special effects.

The course is very easy to follow and can be accessed at any time. While the course doesn’t go into the finer details of the program, it is a great asset for users who have never used the program before who need a bit of basic guidance.

Summing Up

The nine courses covered in this article are great assets to professional and amateur photographers alike. They offer a great deal of information and are completely free to use. Take your time browsing the available courses and tell us which one was the most help to you.

10 Best Photography Apps for Mac in 2017

Posted on September 19th, 2017

With the rise of digital cameras and high quality camera phones, more people than ever have become interested in photography. While learning proper shooting techniques will take you a long way towards capturing great photos, it’s important to have the proper editing tools as well. Here are the current ten best photography apps for Mac, sorted by price (least expensive to most expensive).

1. GIMP

PriceFree download.

One of the photography apps for Mac that is a direct competitor of Photoshop, GIMP provides many of the powerful features of you find in Photoshop without the monthly price tag. There is a learning curve if you’re used to working with Photoshop, but this app is worth the trouble if you’re looking for an all-inclusive pro editing tool.

Features

  • Customizable interface;
  • Layer selection;
  • Supports a wide range of file formats;
  • Text and brush options.

Gimp for Mac

2. Fotor Photo Editor

Price: Free for basic app or online access; upgrade to Fotor Pro monthly subscription ($8.99/month or $39.99/year).

Fotor is unusual among the available photography apps for Mac in that you can download in through the App Store or use it online. Either way you choose to use it, the software provides reliable, basic editing features like rotating, cropping, and recoloring images. It also has a few nifty features like refocusing, slimming down your subjects, and taking away wrinkles.

Features

  • Solid editing basics;
  • Focus;
  • Effects and borders;
  • Textures;
  • Save, share & print.

Fotor Photo Editor for Mac

3. ACDsee

PriceFree download (upgrade to monthly subscription to store photos).

A version of this photo software has been around in the mid-90s, and its longevity is due to its easy of use and fun features. In addition to the editing standards, this software allows you to quickly fix your photos and then upload them to your favorite social media site. There’s no need to download to your computer first, which is handy for prolific Facebook and Instagram sharers. If you want to save the photos for later use without downloading them to your computer, you’ll need to pay for a monthly subscription.

Features

  • Cropping, recoloring, saturation, and sharpening;
  • Easy to use organizational features;
  • GPU-accelerated adjustment layers;
  • Seamless sharing to social media sites.

ACDsee for Mac

4. Google Photos

PriceFree download (can purchase Google Drive space for uploads over 15 GB).

Google Photos is an excellent replacement for now defunct Mac Photos software. If you love photography, but don’t want to splash out on expensive photography apps for Mac, Google Photos is a great basic editor. In addition to typical editing software offerings like recoloring, enhancement, and cropping, Google Photos also offers the ability to search your library by subject matter (so, search for “dog” to get all of your photos of your family pet).

Features

  • Motion stills;
  • Content-aware filters, adjust lighting, and more;
  • Smart automatic albums;
  • Share up to 1,500 from the app.

5. Photozoom

PriceFree trial ($169 for full version).

One of the best photography apps for Mac, Photozoom allows users to focus in on the details of their captures without distorting or pixelating the image. Beyond the main feature of zooming capabilities, Photozoom has basic editing tools like rotating, sharpening, and resizing images. It’s not the most comprehensive of editing programs, but it does well with what it offers.

Features

  • Excellent for zooming and cropping;
  • Two-stage sharpening;
  • Self-timer;
  • Instant uploading on the photos on social media.

Photozoom for Mac

6. InPaint

Price$19.99.

If you want to take your photo editing skills beyond the typical cropping and rotating, but aren’t ready to take on a pro software yet, InPaint might hit that sweet spot. The software includes handy retouching tools that allow you to remove background noise or watermarks. That might come in handy for your vacation photos: take out all of the other visitors in your photo of the Eiffel Tower! It’s also helpful in restoring old photos or giving your subjects perfect blemish and wrinkle-free skin.

Features

  • Digital facial retouching;
  • Watermark removal;
  • Eraser tools;
  • Fill black areas tool.

InPaint for Mac

7. Pixelmator

Price: $29.99.

Now on its 3rd version, Pixelmator is a tried-and-true photo editor that includes everything that the standard photographer would need from an editor tool. Use one of the 160 effects to enhance your photo and use the color correcting tool for crisp hues.

Features

  • Vast retouching and painting options;
  • Drawing tools;
  • 160 effects;
  • Pixelmator Team-designed layer styles presets
  • Full support for Photoshop files.

Pixelmator for Mac

8. Capture One

Price$99 (Express version), $299 (Pro version).

Created by a digital camera company, the Capture One software is an excellent choice if you do collaborative, interactive or on-set photo shoots. It allows you to upload and share your photos in real time so clients or art directors get immediate access to how the shoot is going.

Features

  • Custom-made color profiles for more than 400 cameras;
  • Color balance tool;
  • Black & White tool;
  • Skin tone editor;
  • Supports 250 RAW formats.

Capture One for Mac

9. Photoshop Elements

Price: $99.99.

If you want photography apps for Mac that incorporate the best of Photoshop Apeture or Lightroom without the monthly fees, Elements is a great place to start. The selection tools suggest up to 5 alternatives for each effect you’re considering, which makes for quick, simple editing work. You can also make Facebook covers and photos with the templates provided.

Features

  • In-program editing suggestions from Elements Live;
  • Easy photo correction;
  • Collage and slideshow creator;
  • Photo organizer.

Photoshop Elements for Mac

10. AfterShot Pro

Price$100 (free 30-day demo available).

This is an excellent option for professional level photographers who shoot in RAW. Easily recolor your photos or add a watermark for sharing files with clients. The program is responsive, intuitive, and has multiple shortcuts for easy touch ups.

Features

  • Easy-to-use editing sliders;
  • Preview photos quickly below main editing panel;
  • Watermarking;
  • Enhanced Highlight Recovery;
  • Blemish Remover tools.

AfterShot Pro for Mac

Summing Up

Whether you’re a parent looking to improve your favorite family photos or a photographer polishing your skills, these apps will make all of your photos album ready. Choose from basic editors like Google Photos if you’re a beginner. Some, like InPaint and Photozoom, allow you to focus on one particular type of editing if you’re not a prolific editor yet. There are also top of the line apps like Elements, GIMP, and Capture One for the professional photographer, so you can choose what’s best for your skill level.

GoPro Hero 4 Camera Review: Pros, Cons, Best Features

Posted on January 30th, 2017

If you’re the kind of person who enjoys action and is constantly on the move, and want to film your adventures in the best way possible, then you have every qualification to be a GoPro owner. In case you’re not familiar with what a GoPro is, we must mention that it’s the world’s most famous action camera. An action camera is a type of camera that you can take with you when you go surfboarding, snowboarding, and doing all sorts of activities where you wouldn’t dare to use your phone or another type of camera to film.

the GoPro Hero 4 camera from three angles

If you’re interested in buying such an action camera, today’s review is going to be particularly useful to you. We’re going to look at the GoPro Hero 4 action camera and talk about some of its best features, and its pros and cons.

GoPro Hero 4 Action Camera Review

Main Features

The GoPro Hero 4 shoots 4K full frame, and its resolution is an impressive Ultra HD 3,840 x 2,160. But these aren’t the only shooting options you have. You can also choose to shoot with 2.7K at a resolution of 2,704 x 1,520, and with 2.7K 4:3 at a resolution of 2,702 x 2,028. The resolution settings on this GoPro are truly amazing, as it’s quite obvious from the examples above. You also have some high-speed options such as 1080p (1,920 x 1,080), 1,440p (1,920 x 1,440), or 720p (1,280 x 720).

Another cool feature of the GoPro Hero 4 is the time lapse which you can control according to your needs, from 0.5 to 60 seconds. If you want to use your GoPro when you’re riding your bike (by placing it on your helmet) or when you’re in your car (by putting it on the dashboard), you’re free to turn on looping for a high-quality image and the possibility of multitasking while filming. With this mode, you don’t have to worry about the camera stopping because its memory is full. The new files will replace the old ones in case this happens.

One of the most notable features of the GoPro Hero 4 is its SuperView mode, which is perfect for when you want to shoot wider frames. In this mode, the angle of vision is of 4K, 2.7K, 1080p and 720p. However, we must mention that the image will be a bit more distorted than what you would normally expect from a GoPro Hero 4.

If you’re looking for a camera that allows you to take pictures while also shooting video, then you’ll be happy to hear that this GoPro allows you to take both time-lapse pictures and 12-megapixel pictures while filming at 1,440p, 1,080p, and 720p. Moreover, the burst mode allows you to take up to 30 shots per second. This 12-megapixel CMOS is an improved version of the GoPro Hero 3.

If you’re wondering how you’re going to mount your GoPro Hero 4 in order to use it on your adventures, you should know that you have more than one mounting option. The adhesive bases you can use are both flat and curved, to fit any type of surface. You can also mount your camera with clips, which come in two different lengths, and add a link extender as well, in case you want the camera to rotate and capture a 90-degree view. The camera comes with two such extenders, that you can also use together, since they help you manufacture a pivot arm.

As with most action cameras that are designed to stand extreme weather elements and adventurous activities, this one too has a waterproof housing that works up to 131 feet deep.

GoPro Hero 4 camera placed under water

GoPro Hero 4 Pros

Among the most important pros that we have to single out in today’s review is the quality of the images you shoot with the GoPro Hero 4. The details are pretty spectacular, and so are the colors. The audio is also really great, and the camera does a good job even in situations where there isn’t that much light. Then, the 1.7-inch touchscreen LCD is definitely something that is worthy of our attention, and an important factor in deciding what kind of action camera to purchase. We should also mention the ProTune mode, which provides better control and quality, as well as an impressive range of peripherals, mounts, cases, and so on. Plus, all you need is the mobile app and WiFi in order to control the camera. Finally, another important pro is the fact that this camera is suited both for people who are more experienced with this kind of technology, and for people who are just getting started.

GoPro Hero 4 Cons

While there aren’t many cons when it comes to the GoPro Hero 4, we should mention a couple of things that could be improved. For instance, in some cases, the photos and videos can come out looking a bit hazy. Moreover, the case tends to sometimes muffle the audio. Another thing that we’re not particularly excited about is the fact that the LCD panel is an optional extra. The camera wouldn’t be waterproof if it weren’t for the housing, and this is something that can bother some people. Finally, we should also mention the battery. First of all, you can’t use any of your old GoPro batteries for this camera. This means that you run the risk of being left with no battery to film something you’re interested in. For instance, just to give you an idea of how much battery life you should expect, let us tell you that if you shoot at 1080p 30fps, you only have around 100 minutes of footage before the battery dies.

The Final Verdict

Overall, we are highly impressed by GoPro Hero 4’s quality, especially considering its affordable price. All the features it comes with, as well as the multiple accessories, make it one of the best action cameras on the market. It’s definitely better than the GoPro Hero 3+ Black, and we strongly recommend it to people who are looking for a compact device to help them capture their daily adventures.

Image Source: 1,2

Nikon D3300 Camera Review: Pros, Cons and Top Features

Posted on January 23rd, 2017

A lot of people would answer Nikon when asked what kind of camera they most like to use when taking professional photographs. That’s because the Nikon brand has managed to establish itself as one of the leading creators and developers of high-performance cameras, and with good reason. Nikon’s dedication to provide people with many camera options that can satisfy their highest expectations shows in the number of cameras they have on the market. One such camera is the Nikon D3300, which we’re going to talk about today. In our Nikon D3300 review, we’re going to touch upon its main features, what makes it shine, and what could have been made better.

a nikon d3300 camera on a table

Nikon D3300 Review

Performance

Naturally, the first thing we should discuss when it comes to a Nikon D3300 review is the way this camera performs. In this respect, the Nikon D3300 doesn’t disappoint, especially if we were to compare it with its predecessor, the Nikon D3200, or with other competitors. If you’re wondering how long it will take for you to power it on, focus on a particular subject and then shoot, the answer is about half a second, which is definitely impressive. Of course, the amount of time you’ll have to wait also depends on whether or not you’re shooting with the flash, whether it’s dark outside or not, and so on.

When it comes to Live View, this takes much more to focus and shoot, which can be regarded as an obstacle by some people. Still, there are other things that make up for it, such as the fact that if you use your Nikon D3300 with a 95MB/sec SD card, you will get a 5.1fps burst, which is indeed amazing. We should also mention that its LCD is the same as in the case of older Nikon models, but this is a good thing, since it’s visible even when the sun shines bright, and it also has a perfect size.

Top Features and Design

Next, let’s focus our Nikon D3300 review on some of its most impressive features. First of all, whenever you take a picture, you can choose between the Easy Operation and Advanced Mode options. The Easy Operation one is similar to Auto and it provides you with a limited number of features that you can use. The Advanced Mode is more suitable for people who have more experience using this camera. This one suggests what settings would work best for the scenario you chose. Plus, it also allows you to edit those setting if you want to.

Another impressive feature is the Fn button that you can use to control ISO sensitivity, image quality, Active D-Lighting menus, or white balance. The SD card is not in its usual place, having been moved to a more convenient one, namely the grip-side location. Nikon also implemented the interactive display in this model, and we’re loving it. You can now simply adjust the options by looking under the setting readout.

The Nikon D3300 looks almost identical to its predecessor. However, there are a couple of improvements that we should mention. For instance, it feels lighter and it’s much easier to hold for longer periods of time, which can be a great plus if you’re a professional photographer who takes pictures on a daily basis. Right on top of the grip, you’ll notice the shutter button and the power switch, and three more buttons behind them. Those three buttons are a record one, an info display one, and an exposure compensation one. The back of the camera includes the Menu, Review, Zoom in, Zoom out, and “i” buttons.

person holding a nikon camera

Finally, we should mention that the Nikon D3300 also comes with a collapsible kit lens that you have to pay an extra $50 to get. Even if this could be an interesting addition for some people, it’s absolutely not necessary to buy it if you just want to take high-quality pictures. You can do that just as well with the basic Nikon D3300 camera. Something that we wish we could see in this model is bracketing, both for flash exposure and simple exposure, but this is not an option that the D3300 has.

Pros

The most important pro that we should mention in our Nikon D3300 review is the image quality, which is really impressive. If you want your images to be full of details, then this is a great camera for you. Then, another pro is the fact that the ISO performance is very good, and the dynamic range as well. This camera has a high pixel count and a really great Guide Mode that is easy to use. When it comes to JPEGs, the Nikon D3300 has a really nice buffer capacity. Finally, some other things that impressed us were the uncompressed HDMI output, the 5fps continuous shooting rate, and the 1080/60p video.

Cons

While there aren’t many significant cons that we can identify when testing the Nikon D3300, especially if we keep in mind its price, competitors, and target audience, there are a few things that we should mention under this category too. For instance, there’s a lot of image noise that users are complaining about. Plus, there’s no built-in Nikon D3300 WiFi, no AE bracketing, and a slow contrast-detect in Live View. When the natural light is not strong, you might have to struggle a bit more with taking a high-quality photo, and if the flash overheats, it will shut down. The automatic video autofocus could also be better, but this is not something that particularly bothers us.

man setting up camera to take pictures at night

Final Verdict

Finally, we would say that the Nikon D3300 is one of the finest DSLRs for beginners, because it comes with great features and it’s easy to use. Both compared to older Nikon models, and to several other competitors, the D3300 promises and delivers a lot of high-quality features for a really affordable price. We’re definitely most impressed by the quality of the Nikon D3300 photos, and we’re sure you’re going to be as well, once you test it out.

We hope this Nikon D3300 review was useful to you. All in all, if you want to experiment with your first DSLR, we strongly recommend this one.

Image Source: 1,2,3

Top 5 Prestigious Photography Classes Worth Completing

Posted on January 17th, 2017

If you’ve always been passionate about photography and you want to learn more about how to take breathtaking pictures, you should consider attending a photography class. Since photography is a discipline that is studied by people all over the world, it makes sense that there are a lot of course options available to you, depending on what it is that you want to learn. From free online courses, to classes that you have to pay for and attend in person, the choices really are endless. Because we want to help you out, we’ve devised a list of 5 of the most convenient and well-regarded photography classes that you could attend. Let’s have a look, shall we?

Photographer taking a picture with a professional camera

5 Amazing Photography Classes Worth Taking

1. World of EOS Learn from Canon

Canon is definitely one of the best camera manufacturers in the world, which is why Canon photography classes appeal to so many people. This class is made even more appealing by the fact that it’s absolutely free to attend. The World of EOS Learn is divided into two main sections, each of them containing several online tutorials that you can find on YouTube.

The first section is called Getting Started and it’s perfect for people who don’t have any knowledge of photography and want to learn the basics in an easy and interactive way. For instance, here, you can learn more about how a camera actually works. The second section is called Get Creative and this is where the fun begins. You’ll learn all about different types of lenses, you’ll be given advice on how to shoot portraits, you’ll understand what low light photography is and how you can use it, and so on.

2. The Art of Photography from Open2Study

Photography is indeed an art, and this is precisely what Shane Hulbert, this course’s instructor wants to help you understand. You will learn how to look at photography as a contemporary visual art, by looking at contemporary artists and their work, in hopes that this will inspire you to create your own photographic art.

If you’re concerned that this class is more about theory than practice, then you should put your worries aside. You’ll also get to explore some practical skills that you’re going to need as a photographer and that can make you unleash your creativity when taking pictures. Moreover, this course will teach you all about the main features of a camera and how to use them, as well as how to use image editing software to enhance the look of your pictures.

3. History of Photography Podcast from Jeff Curto

There’s no reason why photography classes can’t come in the shape of podcasts as well. In fact, podcasts are some of the most exciting and appealing ways in which you can learn new things, since you can simply listen to them while on your way to work or when you’re cooking dinner. Jeff Curto is passionate about both history and photography, and you can easily notice that when listening to his podcast.

This podcast is perfect for people who have an interest in learning more about how photography evolved into what we know it to be today. If you’re hoping that this class is going to teach how to take pictures, then you’re in the wrong place. But if you’re hoping to get to learn more about the fascinating world of photography, the evolution of different types of cameras, and so on, then you’re definitely in the right place and should start listening to Curto’s podcast.

two large spotlights used for photography

4. Lectures on Digital Photography from Marc Levoy

If you’re looking for more extensive photography classes taught by experts in the field, then this series of lectures coming from Marc Levoy might become your new favorite thing. Marc Levoy is a Principal Engineer at Google and Profession Emeritus at Stanford, where he teaches Computer Science. His experience is quite obvious from the amount of detailed information that his lectures contain.

They’re absolutely free to access, fit both for people who are photography beginners and people who’ve worked with a camera before, and they cover almost every imaginable aspect of photography. You’re going to learn how cameras work, what you can find inside of a digital camera, how you can use all of the camera features to take amazing photographs, and so on. This is an online resource that you won’t regret accessing if you’re interested in taking some photography classes.

5. Photography Beginner’s Bundle from CreativeLive

Even if this class is not free, as are the other photography classes discussed above, it’s also not as expensive as to create a large gap in your budget. The Photography Beginner’s Bundle costs $299 and it includes 4 classes, exclusive access to some bonus materials, and on-demand access. The website claims that if you were to purchase all of these features separately, you would have to pay $606, which definitely makes this bundle a great bargain.

The 4 courses that you’re going to get if you buy this class bundle are: Fundamentals of Photography, Adobe Lightroom CC Photo Editing: The Complete Guide, Practical Adobe Photoshop Basics, and Understanding Light. As you can see, this bundle tries to offer people a little bit of everything, which makes it one of the best photography classes for beginners. You don’t only get to learn about the basics of it, but also about more specific things such as how light works in photography and how to edit your images using Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom.

collage of two pictures showing the before and after of using Photoshop

Summing It All Up

There’s no doubt that the world of photography is a complex one. Professional photographers have a deep understanding of how to use their equipment, how to frame their subjects, how to use their surroundings in their favor, and many other things. Whether you want to become a professional photographer yourself, or you simply like taking pictures as a hobby and you want to be able to do it in a more professional way, the 5 photography classes we provided you with above will definitely make that happen. Don’t hesitate to check them out as soon as possible!

Image Source: 1,2,3

About the Author

- "The Back Page" was developed by Kristakov & Co. as an aggregation resource tool for sharing tips, techniques, inspiration and news with the larger photographic community. The site is threaded with information that is produced for or can be found around the web in disparate sources. The Back Page serves as a means of bringing those disparate sources together for discussion, comment and insights.

Leave a comment

XHTML: You can use these html tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>