10 Common Compositions in Wedding Photography

The expectations in quality and artistry for wedding photographers have increased over the years with the influx of competition and increase in overall pricing. Not only are they expected to capture each moment and deliver great portraits, but they’re also expected to bring a high level of creativity under time constraints and less-than ideal lighting conditions. Unique, diverse compositions are a cornerstone to delivering work in-line with these high expectations.

The following article goes over common compositions in wedding photography. They should not be thought of in terms of rules, as rules are generally restricting. These compositions should instead be thought of as guides to help you expand your repertoire of shots and serve as a baseline from which you apply your own vision and creativity. [Read more...]

How to Shoot With Your Left Hand Only

Shoot With Your Left Hand Only

This topic was brought up by a reader who broke his right arm and asked how he was supposed to take photos and operate his camera with just his left hand.

Even if you are left-handed, cameras are designed to be gripped and operated primarily using the right hand.  That’s why the grip and shutter release are on the right side.

If you have to go one-handed on your camera, you want the right hand to be holding it.  But what do you do when you can’t use your right hand for 45 days?

Sure, you can carry around a tripod for a month and a half, but you’ll probably be without a camera quite often if it has to have a tripod attached to it every time you go out.

So, what are your other options? [Read more...]

4 Principles of Photography Marksmanship

Marksmen use a handful of fundamental principles to take aim, fire and hit their target.  Many of these same principles can also be applied by other kinds of shooters – photographers.

When marksmen fail to abide by those principles, they may miss the bulls-eye.  When photographers fail to follow them, they may end up with a blurry photo. [Read more...]

HDR Poll Results – Lightroom vs. Photomatix

Last week, I showed you a couple of images that I processed with a goal of creating an extended dynamic range.  One was processed in Lightroom from a single image and one was processed from three separate images in Photomatix to create an HDR image.  This grew largely from an experiment with a Canon 5D Mark II RAW file to see how far I could push the dynamic range from a single file in Lightroom 2.5.  Nothing scientific.  Just a little fun.

If you missed it, here is the original post.

To make things a little more interesting, I posted both images with metadata stripped and asked you to decide which was a single image processed in Lightroom and which was a combination of 3 images processed in Photomatix. Take a look at the results of that poll below. [Read more...]

7 Beginners Tips for Shooting Sports and Action

Astana Team Time Trial by Eric Reagan

In sports and wildlife shooting, it’s all about getting that one particular moment that happens within a fraction of a second. Mastering the techniques to shooting sports will be able to help you progress as a photographer as those skills can be used in other forms such as photojournalism, weddings and street candids. My mentor, who has shot NY Knick games, has been kind enough to pass along some of his knowledge to me.

Here are 7 quick tips for those of you wanting to get better at shooting sports and fast action. Hint: You don’t need a camera that shoots 8fps like the Canon 7D, but it can help.

Note: Several of the photos in this article are from a recent trip to a Medieval Festival where the chance to really use the correct lenses and a better quality camera was presented to me. [Read more...]

Do You Need a Rangefinder for Street Photography?


Since the arrival of the Leica M9, bloggers have been abound with posts about Leicas, street photography, and why you need a rangefinder right now. Further, Chris Weeks has made a documentary on street photography and the human condition. If you watch it, you’ll see that it’s very pro-rangefinder. A personal critique of mine is that it almost seems like what we call in the industry to be an “advertorial.” To clarify, this is an article or piece of media that is supposed to be presented in a journalistic fashion but can seem more like subliminal marketing. To be fair, Mr. Weeks probably does legitimately love Leicas for street photography. However, as a photographer that has shot with all brands of cameras, I see no reason why a DSLR can’t do the same job. Regular readers of this blog may know that street photography is some that is held dear to me. More on this after the jump.

Author’s Note: This is not an anti-Leica post, when I worked for Magnum Photos many of their photographers used Leicas. I hold them in high regard and respect their history, but this post is about you as a photographer.

[Read more...]

Tips to Shoot Awesome Portraits

We all do portraits.  It’s something that we learn how to do when we are first trained as photographers. Sometimes though, many portraits look the same after a while. Therefore they become boring to look at unless you find a way to make them fun and different than anyone else. Here are some tips to shoot that awesome portrait.

Break the Rule of Thirds

Christine on the floor

This rule is so extremely essential to creating interesting portraits. The rule of thirds is how us photographers are taught to compose our shots in order to make them effective and pleasing to the eye. If you’d like a more interesting shot, try messing with the way your viewer will look at the shot. In the above shot, she is totally off the rule of thirds. It shows her being relaxed, happy and totally serene/confident with herself. If you set up the rule of thirds composition lines on this shot you’d see that it doesn’t exactly meet the standards. On top of that, you’ve got the lines going horizontally as well as her arms and body going in the same direction. Slap on a black and white filter and you make this one really cool shot. [Read more...]

The Essence of Street Photography: The Paparazzi

Julia Roberts: close up side shot

There are many different elements to street photography. As I’ve stated in previous posts, good things to focus on are the recession and the unusual/candid. There are lots more elements to street photography than that, and in this posting we will be focusing on something that I’m only now delving into: the paparazzi. [Read more...]

Tips For Shooting Sunsets

The Sunset in Queens

Shooting sunsets is something that isn’t as easy as one would think. Keep in mind that you can’t always be in the right spot at the right time to consistently be able to get those dreamy, beautiful shots. Also remember that sunsets only last for a little while at a time and that the sun continues to go down into the horizon until it isn’t visible anymore. With all this going against you, here are some tips for photographing those beautiful sunsets.

Shoot Wide, Crop Later

Shooting wide allows you to get a view of the entire sky. Depending on the timing, it can also show how the light is hitting the surrounding areas. If you shoot wide first, you’ll be able to fix the shot later in post-production where you can recompose how to wanted it to look. Most consumer zoom lenses close the aperture up as you zoom in. This can create an unbalanced shot depending on how you are metering what’s in front of you. In my experience, primes do the best in this situation.

Part of this also depends on your own positioning to take the shot. Similarly in shooting fireworks, your position to accomplish the type of shot that you want is critical because the sunset happens quicker than you’d think.

The New York City Skyline

Set Your Depth of Field Correctly, Use Neutral Density Filters

While shooting your picture, keep in mind your vision. Do you want the entire sky in focus such as in the picture above? Or perhaps you’d like the sunset to be nothing else but blurry and beautiful bokeh like the first shot in this posting. Either way, figure that all out is worth it in order to save time and getting your shot perfect.

Additionally, you may want to try a neutral density filter. ND filters allow for a shallower depth of field. If the sunset is above water, the ND filter will allow for a slower shutter speed in order to achieve a really slow and milky water effect. Other ideas could be perhaps setting your camera to take the picture at different temperature or exposure brackets. When it’s all done with, you can combine the photos in Photoshop to look exactly the way you want it to. While ND filters will slow down your shutter-speed, generally try to keep it fast enough to not get an overexposed picture or the sun trailing. Additionally, shoot at the widest aperture that you can.

The Seaport at sunset

You Don’t Always Need the Sun To Make a Nice Shot

Yes, despite the fact that you are shooting a sunset your viewers can know that you are doing it without shooting the sun. In the above two shots you don’t see the sun at all but you can easily tell that the sun is going down. Instead, the focusing is on different areas that work for the shot because of positioning and saturation of colors. Everyone that looks at those shots always says, “Nice sunset.” or something else along the lines.

The Colors of The Wind

If You Can’t Get the Sun, Get the Surrounding Sky

A great example of this is what you may have seen in the news recently with the clouds. Every now and then, the sky will literally turn into a pinkish color that is very saturated and almost orangish-red. We get this every now and then in New York City and it’s quite lovely but also very scary too because you sometimes don’t know what is really going on. But if you just shoot the sky with buildings in front or trees of some sort you can achieve a very lovely shot.

What About Your Tips?

Do you have some sunset tips to add?  Let us know in the comments or feel free to share your shots in the forum.