Friday, March 2nd, 2012

Shoot right at night – Tip #4 – Capture silhouettes

At night, if you’re using what light there is, you need capitalize on it. One option is to look for silhouettes where you capture a subject in front of a light source.

In this image shot in New York after dark on a wet night I used the lights of the oncoming traffic to backlight this woman as she walked down the road trying to hail a cab.

Because she was moving fast I was walking behind her at a similar pace so there was no chance to stop or use a slow speed so this image had the ISO set high to capture what light I had.

Helen Bradley

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Shoot right at night – Tip #3 – Set a high ISO

While a flash is handy for taking snapshots of friends, it’s useless when the subject is more than about 10-15 feet away as this is the range of a typical flash. It also makes it impossible to shoot candid images.

So, the best solution to shooting at night is to turn the flash off – before you head out, make sure you know how to disable the camera’s flash so it doesn’t fire.

If your camera lets you do so, set the ISO equivalent to use for capturing the shot, increase this at night to 1600 or more. In the shot above the ISO was 6400, the image is grainy but a flash would have disturbed the couple and that would have spoiled the candid moment.

The shots will be more grainy – like film, shots taken at higher ISO levels are more grainy even when shot digitally. However, grain is not a ‘bad thing’ and night time images can look particularly interesting when the film grain is obvious.

Helen Bradley

Friday, February 24th, 2012

Shoot right at night – Tip #2 – Find the interest

At night what can look very uninteresting during the day can take on an entirely different look.

A single light on a wall or a neon sign can make an interesting shot and, when it is raining you’ve got a double bonus of night lights and reflections in the wet surfaces.


Helen Bradley

Monday, February 20th, 2012

Shoot right at night – Tip #1 – Get the light

When the sun goes down, a world of different lights opens up and it’s a great time to pull out your camera for some stunning photos. However, before you go out to shoot at night, there are some things to think about that will help you take great shots even when the lighting isn’t ideal.

Today we’re starting a new tip series – shooting right at night and here’s the first tip:

Make light or capture what little there is

At night, there’s obviously less light than there is during the day. So, to get good shots you either have to replace the missing light with a flash, or open up the aperture so more light gets in and slow the shutter speed so the camera gets enough light to register the image. You can also up the ISO – in the next few tips we’ll look at each of these options in more detail and find some great topics for shooting at night.



Helen Bradley

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

Capture a great Panorama


There’s something very compelling about panoramic images. They’re much wider than regular photos and, instead of showing the small portion of a scene that is in front of the camera lens, they show much more.

Some panoramas show a semi circle around a point and others wrap around a full 360 degrees showing everything there is to see. Panoramas have been popular with photographers since the early days of photography. Then, as now, they were created using a series of side by side images put together to form a single seamless image.

Today’s digital cameras and photo editing software let you create panoramas quite easily. Even simple cameras like prepaid phone cameras and point-and-shoot cameras are advanced enough to have a panorama setting. There are, however, some tips and tricks for taking the photos that will help ensure you get a great panorama and I’ve thrown in my best solution for when things go wrong!

Use a tripod

When you take photos for your panorama make sure you stand in one position to take all the shots. It is easiest if you fix the camera to a tripod and test to ensure it will swing around smoothly to capture the images that you want to take. If you don’t have a tripod, practice standing in one position and rotating your body to capture the images.

This painted sign on the building above was too large to capture in one shot but it works well as a panorama.

Overlap the images

When taking the individual shots for a panorama, make sure that the photos overlap each other by around 25 percent. This means that the objects that appear on the far right of one photograph should appear on the far left of the next photograph in the sequence.

If your camera has a panorama feature you can use this to help configure the overlap for the images. Your photo editing software uses the overlapping areas as a key for aligning and matching the images so it’s important that you have enough of an overlap for the software to do its work. On the flip side, avoid having too much overlap as that’s not desirable either.

Try to photograph scenes that don’t change rather than subjects that are moving as it’s much harder to match up your images if people are moving around in them such as in this image:

I had to put a lot of work into tidying up this image – with so much action it was far from an ideal topic for a panorama but the results were worth it.

Fix your settings

When capturing photos for a panorama make sure that you do not alter your camera settings, such as the zoom, between shots as this will mess up your images and they won’t be easy to match.

If you’re using a digital SLR camera, keep the exposure the same between shots too. Using Aperture priority mode is a good choice.

There are some classic occasions when a panorama is an obvious solution and I dream of one day spending an afternoon at Lord’s capturing that wonderful cricket ground as a panoramic image. Other shots that work well as panoramas include scenery and landscapes. However panoramas aren’t limited to major spectacles and you can capture a series of two or more images of anything from a sign to a streetscape and assemble it into a panorama.

I’ve shot panoramas of signs, cityscapes, the mounting yard at a racecourse and I’ve done one of my street so one day I will be able to look back and see then what I see now, as I stand on my front porch.

If you’d like to learn more about creating Panoramas, check out this post on Creating Panoramas with a twist. It’s a great way to save an imperfectly shot panorama.

Helen Bradley

Monday, February 6th, 2012

Cool Suffolk Sheep

On the weekend I had the chance to photograph some suffolk sheep, the lambs were so cute and the ewes too. Click here for the picture gallery.

Helen Bradley

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

Winter Photography Tip # 9 – Camera care

Most cameras work just fine in cold weather but their batteries don’t so you’ll treat your camera one way and batteries another.

To avoid condensation affecting your camera it’s best to keep it cold rather than taking it from warm to cold all the time. So, don’t tuck your camera inside your jacket, and if it’s wet use a rainproof covering for it only.

If you get the camera covered in snow just brush or shake it off – don’t rub so it melts into the camera!

On the flip side, a battery’s chemicals will simply not work efficiently if the batteries are cold so tuck them close to your body in an inside jacket pocket until you need them. And expect to consume more batteries in winter as they won’t last as long as they do in warmer months.



Helen Bradley

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Winter Photography Tip #8 – White balance

When you are photographing in snow conditions there are situations where you’ll need to adjust the white balance so that snow is white and so it doesn’t have a blue cast.

On the other hand the colourcast you get when you shoot in the early morning or at sunset is desirable so don’t remove it or your sunsets and sunrises will be ruined.

To capture the colour of the light set the camera’s white balance setting to sunny day – the camera makes almost no adjustment to white balance when you do this. This makes it a good setting to use when capturing sunsets, for example.

However, when there is a colour cast that you don’t want to capture such as blue light on snow, then adjust the white balance setting in your camera to remove it. To warm up an image, set the white balance to shade as this adds a pink/ orange warming cast to the image and counteracts the blue/colder light.

Helen Bradley

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Winter Photography tips #7 – Work with what you have

Winter scenery typically lacks the bold colors of the other seasons. However, there’s still plenty of good subject matter to photograph. Look for the contrast of bare trees against wintry skies or soft snow hanging from the boughs of prickly conifers.

Contrast in line and texture make a great focal point for your images.

In the city, look for winter fogs and mists that partially hide buildings and in the country, look for elements which break the landscape drawing your eye to them such as a stream running through snow, a fence, hoof prints in icy paddocks or early bulbs.

Helen Bradley

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

Winter Photography tips #6 – Light and Shadow

The light in winter is different to light in summer and because the sun is lower in the sky you get longer shadows.

When taking photographs in winter, take notice of where the shadows are falling.

If you photograph with the sunlight falling across the scene you can capture detail in not only the light but also in the play of light and shadow.

This contrast adds detail and interest to a landscape or anywhere where you have objects large enough to cast shadows and the sun to create them.

Helen Bradley

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Winter Photography tip #5 – Play with Depth of Field

Winter is a great time to capture images taking advantage of your camera’s ability to create depth of field effects.

Get close to your subject and use an aperture setting of f2.8 or f4. When you use a wide aperture you achieve a very small depth of field so there will be a small amount of the image in focus and most of it out of focus. This is a great way to turn an otherwise humdrum subject into something a lot more interesting.

Helen Bradley

Saturday, January 14th, 2012

Winter Photography tips #4 – Capture Reflections

When you’re looking around a scene for photographic opportunities take the time to look down as well as out and up.

Winter brings with it not only stiller waters but also puddles created by rainfall.

On any day when rain has fallen a wealth of photographic opportunities exist at your feet. Capture a scene in a puddle to get a reflected image with artistic qualities that simply aren’t there when you take a photograph of the object itself.

Helen Bradley

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

Winter Photography Tip #3 – get in close

Often it is the small things that offer the most creative opportunities in winter photography.

Look for the little things around you such as a drop of water hanging from a leaf, or a steaming cup of cocoa.

To capture small objects use the macro setting on your camera which is indicated by a flower shape icon. Get in close to the item that you want to shoot – your camera’s manual will tell you how close your camera can focus with macro enabled.

Helen Bradley

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

Winter photography Tip #2 – Grab the Color

Any splash of colour in a winter scene will show up beautifully and can be the makings of an attractive image.

Look out for things as simple as a blue sky over a snow covered mountain or a skier’s jacket.

The colour will be the first thing that the viewer’s eye will go to in the photograph so make sure to place it in an appropriate position in the shot. Draw an imaginary tic-tack-toe board across your view finder and position the colorful item where two lines intersect to get a more vibrant photograph.

Helen Bradley

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Winter photography tip #1 – B&W

Most digital SLRs and point and shoot cameras can capture black and white images. Winter is a good time to experiment with this feature because of the general lack of color.

Find and enable this feature on your camera and then head out looking for suitable subjects.

This early morning scene shows the mystery of the branches lit by a streetlight against the dark predawn sky.

Because you will not be capturing any color from your images, look for a scene that shows the contrast between light and dark elements. You may also find that foggy scenes where everything is not only by nature monochromatic but also biased towards mid tones is a great option for black and white photography.

Another topic which can be rendered interestingly rendered in black and white is texture and repeating elements – the lack of color will enhance the texture and draw attention to the repeating elements.

In this image the texture and contrast between the rough wood and the metal letters is more apparent when captured in black and white.

Helen Bradley