среда, 25 декабря 2013 г.

ESSENTIAL TIPS FOR MACRO. Simple steps to capturing a stunning macro shot

The ultimate guide to capturing stunning close-up photographs of any subject

The ultimate guide to capturing stunning close-up photographs of any subject

Macro is the official term for extreme close-up photography, and the idea is to make small objects look larger than life size. It is a hugely popular shooting technique, as macro images capture fascinating details, patterns and textures that are often invisible to the naked eye. It can also help to show your subject in an entirely new way and can produce some beautifully dramatic and sometimes abstract images, all you need is a little bit of know-how beforehand.

To take a macro photo, you need to be able to focus on your subject while it is very close to the end of your lens. If you are serious about this type of photography, then it is a good idea to invest in some of the specialist kit that we mention in this feature. However, you don't have to spend a fortune to have a go, as most digital cameras now come with a dedicated Macro mode. You can even take stunning close-up shots with your cameraphone, so there really is nothing stopping you from trying your hand at this fascinating genre.

It's not difficult to find fantastic subject for your macro shots either, as there are plenty of small objects to be found around your house or garden that will look interesting up close. Then, once you have found something to shoot, it is easy to master your camera settings and lighting techniques to help you produce some stunning images. Focusing close up is often the trickiest part of macro photography, but with our few simple tricks you will have no problem taking sharp shots.

We have packed this feature full of all the essential tips you'll need to get started with macro, including some advice on choosing a subject to shoot and how to frame your shot for the best results. Follow our simple guide and then it's all down to you to experiment, practise and develop your photography skills to create a macro masterpiece.

Macro kit options All you need to capture great close-ups

Close-up filters
Close-up filters screw onto your lens and allow it to focus more closely to your subject. Hoya’s close-up filters are available in +1, +2, +3 and +4 levels of magnification and a range of different sizes.

Macro lens
A dedicated macro lens will let you focus at a short distance from your subject. This 40mm f2.8 Micro lens from Nikon has a minimum focusing distance of 163mm and a wide maximum aperture for creating a shallow depth of field.

Extension tubes
Extension tubes fit between the camera body and lens, lowering its minimum focusing distance so you can get closer to your subject. This Dorr Extension Tube Set contains three tubes of different lengths to combine together or use individually.

Macro mode
Most cameras come with a Macro mode, which is usually represented by a flower icon on your mode dial or in your camera’s menus. It will reduce the minimum focusing distance of your camera, for optimum macro settings.

TOP MACRO SUBJECTS. Interesting things to shoot up close

Beautiful plants
Go out after it has rained or add your own water droplets to create more texture.
When shooting outdoors, shield the plant from the wind to prevent blurry shots.

Intricate insects
Find a particular area that is popular with insects and wait patiently for them to arrive. Insects tend to move more sluggishly in the morning until it warms up, so shoot at this time if possible.
Move slowly when shooting insects and use a longer focal length so as not to startle them and make them run or fly away.

Everyday objects
Find objects with intricate details or unusual textures that look great close up.
Create an abstract shot by shooting a small part of a larger object up close.

Fruit and veg
Look for pieces of fruit and veg that have interesting colours, textures and patterns.
Once you have shot the outside of the fruit, cut it open and capture the inside too.

Macro lenses naturally have a shallow depth of field, so set a high f-number to keep as much detail as possible sharp. Use Burst mode to take a series of shots of moving subjects. Use a tripod and self-timer on static ones to stop blurring. If your photos are too dark, use a slower shutter speed or raise your ISO. Just look out for grainy images at high ISO values.

GET PERFECT LIGHTING. Lighting techniques to help enhance your macro photos

Soften the light
Make use of natural light either outdoors or through a window, but avoid shooting when the sun is very bright as it will create harsh shadows in your photos. For more control over your lighting, create your own using a desk lamp. Try placing some tracing paper in front of it to soften the light for more flattering results.

Keep it natural
Using your pop-up flash when shooting up close will produce very harsh light for your images and could startle your subject if you are photographing insects, so turn it off. Use a tungsten white balance setting when using a desk lamp.If the light hitting your macro subject is too bright, try blocking it with a piece of paper or card, or reposition yourself to create some shade with your body.

Compose for more impact

Knowing how to frame your shot is also a vital part of capturing a marvellous macro photo. The position of your subject and the background you use both affect the overall balance of the image, so try to experiment to find out what works best.

Fill the frame
As is the aim with macro, your subject will naturally fill the frame if you can get your camera close enough. A tight composition will also help to create a more dramatic, abstract or intimate image.
Fill the frame

Position off-centre
Use the rule of thirds to create an engaging composition. Place your subject, or the most important part of it, off-centre in your shot. Switch on your gridlines and place it where the lines intersect.

Position off-centre

FOCUS UP CLOSE. Keep your macro subjects sharp

If you are using autofocus, be sure to set the focus point over the most important part of your subject to ensure this is the sharp part of the frame. When you are close to your subject, the camera's autofocus can sometimes struggle. Taking the time to manually focus will ensure your shot is sharp.
Moving subjects
Using continuous autofocus will get your camera to track your subject as it moves and keep it in focus, even if its movements are fast and unpredictable.If you know where your subject is going to land or move to, then use manual focus to pre-focus on that spot, then fire the shutter when they come into view.
If you can't find a clean backdrop for your shot, try adding your own by placing a piece of paper or card behind your subject. Also try using coloured card or wrapping paper that complements your subject.

Produce unique or abstract images by shooting your subject from unusual angles. For example, try shooting from above or underneath and make use of your tilting LCD screen if you have one.

If the background is natural, make sure the colours complement each other and there are no distractions. It is best to include no more than three colours in your photo to prevent it from appearing too cluttered.



воскресенье, 22 декабря 2013 г.

How should I compose my portraits?

I really enjoy taking photos of my children and friends, but I’m never quite sure how to compose my shots. They often end up looking quite dull and unflattering, so have you got any tips on how I should frame my people photos?
How should I compose my portraits?

When you are taking a portrait shot, the first thing you will need to consider is how much of your subject you want to include in your photograph.
Do you want a full body shot or a close-up containing just their head and shoulders? If you are cropping in closer, then make sure you haven’t chopped off any important parts of your subject, such as their forehead or hands. Get your model to pose in different ways and experiment with different angles, making sure that the background of your shot is not distracting. You can also look for lead-in lines and natural frames to draw attention to your subject, or even try using props to add a bit more interest and personality.

Try positioning your subject to one side of the frame. This follows the rule of thirds which suggests that having your subject off-centre makes for a more interesting composition.
Flattering angle
Shooting photos at eye level or from a high angle is the most flattering position for your subject, as a low angle will often accentuate their nose and chin.

Eye contact
Get your model to look at the camera for an intimate photo, or break eye contact for a more natural, candid shot. If you are outside, shoot in the shade so that they are not squinting.

суббота, 21 декабря 2013 г.

How do I change a background?

I went to the zoo last week and took this lovely shot of a wallaby looking right at the camera. I’m really proud of the photo, but I don’t like the ugly wire fence in the background. How can I replace it?

It can be difficult to capture wildlife looking at the camera, but it does enhance animal photos. It is also hard to get a great backdrop for zoo shots, as you can’t tell your subject to move to a different place.

Luckily, it is easy to remove an unattractive background using an editing program. You just need a photo of a more pleasing one to replace it with. Let us show you how.
Photo needs rescuing?

Ugly backdrop
The wire fence in the A background is not particularly attractive and spoils an otherwise wonderful shot
Dull colours
The background colours of the shot are a little dull and uninteresting and don't help to make the photo stand out
The fence post and other elements in the background of the photo also distract away from the main subject
Open both images
Open up the image of the new background you would like to use. Go to File>Place and open your original photo, then click on the green tick to make it a new layer.
Open both images

Add a layer mask

Go to the Layers panel on the right-hand side of the screen and click on the thumbnail image of your original photo. Now click on the Add A Layer Mask icon above it.
Add a layer mask

Adjust your brush
Pick the Brush tool and set it to black by clicking the colour palette under the toolbar. Make the Opacity 100% and open the Brush Settings menu to set the Hardness to 50%.
Adjust your brush
Remove the background
Select a suitable Brush Size, then apply over the background to remove it and reveal the new one underneath. You can use a small brush to get around awkward shapes.
Remove the background

Ways to avoid unattractive backgrounds

Change your aperture
You can blur out ugly backgrounds in your photographs by selecting a wide aperture (low f-number). This will create a shallow depth of field and blur out anything you do not want your camera to focus on.
Change your aperture

Find a new location
When choosing a location for your photo shoots, look for places with attractive, natural backdrops such as a pretty garden or field, or try to find a colourful and textured wall to place your subject in front of.

Find a new location

Create a backdrop
Try standing a plain piece of paper, card or wallpaper behind your subject to create a new background. Use a coloured backdrop that complements your subject and make sure there aren't any distracting joins or creases.

Create a backdrop

Change your position
If your current backdrop is unappealing, sometimes simply changing your position or shooting angle can help you find a new one. For example, you can get down low to use the sky as your background.
Change your position

Enhance, sort and share your shots with Serif PhotoStack

Serif's new all-in-one editing software makes organising your albums simple and speedy
Serif's new all-in-one editing software makes organising your albums simple and speedy

Serif has launched a brand new program for organising, editing and sharing your entire photo collection. PhotoStack lets you import thousands of photos and organise them in seconds. Once uploaded, photos can be tagged, rated or grouped into stacks to make it easier to find your favourite photo, and you can also browse images by their camera details. They can then be enhanced with just a few clicks using plenty of simple editing tools. It's also possible to add creative effects such as black and white, retro and sepia for arty images. Perfected photos can then be shared via email, Flickr, Facebook and Dropbox, or printed with easy control over size and layout. You can even geotag your shots and add them to Google Maps. PhotoStack is compatible with Windows 8/7/Vista/XP and available from £50

Pocket-sized manual control from Canon

Deuelop your photography skills whereuer you go with the new Canon PowerShot G16

You don’t need a big interchangeable lens camera in order to experiment with manual modes, as advanced compacts give you plenty of control over your shots too. The Canon PowerShot G16 has full and semi-manual modes as well as Auto all packed into a tiny body that you can pop into your bag or pocket. The 12MP sensor and wide-angle 28mm lens with a maximum aperture of f1.8-2.8 are on hand to help you take great quality shots even in low light, and zooming in for close-ups is easy thanks to the 5x optical and 10x digital zoom. You can shoot extra fast at up to 9.3fps and operation is also quick with lots of controls for easy one-handed operation. Intelligent image stabilisation keeps your shots and full HD videos steady and you can even shoot in the RAW file format to give yourself more control when postprocessing your images. The Canon PowerShot G16 will be available from October 2013 with an RRP of £530/$550.

Shoot for the stars
Brand new Star mode helps you capture the night sky, with Star Nightscape, Star Trails and Star Time-Lapse Movie presets
Switch to RAW
The G16 supports the RAW file format as well as JPEG, giving more control over your images when editing
Share on the go
Built-in Wi-Fi lets you share your shots on the move, and you can even geotag them using Canon's smartphone app
Fast focus
Improved autofocus speeds mean that the G16 is 41 per cent quicker than its predecessor, the G15

Reasons why we can’t wait to get our hands on this camera...
1. We'll see how easy this advanced compact is to use for beginners. Does it help with mastering manual controls?
2. We'll get to test out the new Star mode and see how the G16's image quality holds up in low-light conditions.
3. We want to know if the autofocus speeds are as impressive as they sound, and if they'll cope with 9fps shooting.