Traveling Photography – What to take in your Kit

During the traveling, you may want to photography the beautiful scenery. Once searching your kit, you may find something were lost at home. Therefore, to ensure you have a nice trip with fantastic shots, you need to arrange your kit in order. Below is a list of equipment quoted from the digital camera school.

• Extra Batteries – depending upon how many shots you tend to take in a day.
• Recharger – of course when you have a rechargeable battery you’ll want to remember a way to charge it up.
• Power Adapter – if you’re traveling overseas always do a little research before you leave on what power sources they have and what type of adapter plugs you’ll need.
• Cleaning Gear –some basic cleaning gear including a lens cloth, a cloth for wiping down the outside of the camera and a bulb blower.
• Filters –These are great for cutting out flare and have a considerable impact when photographing water, glass or sky.
• Flash – external flash units can be very handy to have while you travel although can add significantly to the weight of your kit (and you’ll need more batteries for them of course).
• Memory Cards –One might just get the largest size available but consider below scenarios. What if your card becomes damaged, what if it’s stolen, what if you lose it? Whatever your strategy, you’ll need to pack the equipment concerned.
• Camera Bag –If you are traveling with plentiful equipments, you’ll need something sizable. Another option is to take two bags – one to transport your gear with on travel days and the other which you use on a day to day basis for taking what you’ll need that day
• Tripod –Some use the mini tripods that are all the rage these days, but they tend to be best with lighter point and shoot cameras than larger and heavier DSLRs.
• Point and Shoot – some DSLR users back a compact point and shoot camera as well.

PS: Don’t forget to make sure your travel insurance covers your equipment!

Festival Photograph Tips: Never Stopped by the Crowd

quoted from national geographic

For Chinese national day is coming, an 8-day holiday is right here under our noses. As to most of office staff, it’s a good chance to travel around and relax them. Beautiful scenery definitely can’t be missed. Therefore, besides of keeping security of yourself and personal effects in the crowd, you may also need some useful tips on how to take clear photos in the crowd, which is more than avoiding shaking!

Keep your camera at the ready
When you're squashed in a crowd of people, trying to pull a camera out of your bag is really hard work so it's best to have it in your hands ready before the crush begins. If you want to make sure you're not going to lose it put a smaller strap on it and place it over your wrist.

Compose your shots
As you won't be able to move very far, the ways you can compose your shots will be limited and you'll just have to rely on the band getting into poses/positions you think are worth photographing.

Get decent shots as the light fades
quoted from national geographic
As most compacts try and use flash when it gets dark make sure you turn it off. If you don't turn your flash off you'll probably end up with a shot that shows a few rows of heads and nothing behind them. You can increase the ISO manually but just keep an eye out for noise as some compact cameras struggle with this when you start to use higher ISO settings.

Try and stand still
It can be hard to do when you're in a crowd but by doing so you'll reduce the amount of shake in your shot, particularly when the sun's set and your camera's having to use longer shutter speeds when any movement can be easily picked up in your final photograph.

Remember the crowd
Try turning around and photographing the mass of people around you. It's not as easy if you're standing low down but get up higher on a slight hill/banking and it's easy to capture a sweeping shot of the festivities.


Google Photography Prize: a Photography Contest for Students

When I open Google’s website today, a cute cake suddenly jumps into my eyes. At first, I think it maybe any hero’s birthday. Then, I figure out it is the 14th birthday of Google. Time flies and I had never imaged my growth 14 years ago. And many thanks wishes to Google, for it always provides the most effective information at once.

And today, I’d like to introduce Google Photography Prize, a photography contest designed for students in higher education aged 18 years or older. Including 10 categories such as Me, Food, Travel, Fashion, Action, Street, Sport, Night, Sound/Silence and Point of view, you can submit a series of photos to any one you like. And the prizes are quite rich. In addition to having your photos displayed online, you can achieve a Samsung Galaxy Nexus phone or a trip to London. The Grand Prize winners even can obtain an once-in-a-lifetime photography trip companied with a professional photography coach.

And below are some of the winners in 2012. All the brilliant works are captured by excellent students. Enjoy them and you may learn something from here.
Grand Prize - Viktor Johansson

Top Finalists - Category: Night

Top Finalists -  Category: Night 
Top Finalists - Category: Point of View 


How to Photograph the Moon

Photo by penguinbush
The Chinese Mid-autumn Festival is around the corner. And for the Chinese, it is a time for family members and loved ones to congregate and enjoy the full moon - an auspicious symbol of abundance, harmony and luck. Most of time, we will take out a camera and photograph the sweet moment. And being the brightest object in the night sky, it’s something photographers of all levels can shoot, however it does take planning and preparation to accomplish.

Tripod. A secure base for your camera is essential to capture the moon and avoid camera shake.
Long zoom lens. In order to help fill the frame and properly show off the moon, the longer your zoom lens the better. It’s best to use anything 300mm or longer.
Photo by Flowery *L*u*z*a*
Shutter release cable. This is not an essential piece, but it’s nice to have and helps avoid camera shake. If you don’t have one, you can use the self timer function on your camera.
Camera. While almost any camera will work but rarely produce decent photos, mostly due to the small size of the sensor and it over-heating during longer exposures resulting in digital noise. A DSLR is preferred here, or film SLR, again with a long lens on it. No preset or auto function of your camera will be able to properly meter the moon, so you are best off shooting in full manual mode. 
ISO. Digital cameras should be set to 100 or lower, film shooters should shoot film of 100 ISO or slower to eliminate noise and grain.
Aperture. Because you’re after crisp, clean shots shooting at f/11 to f/16 will be the best place to start.
Photo by jurvetson
Shutter speed. This will be the point at which you will need to adjust on a number of shots.  The variables include the phase the moon is in, geographical location and desired shot, but on a clear night starting at about 1/60th should be a great middle ground.

Picking a spot to shoot the moon is one of the most important factors in achieving a quality shot. If you want to showcase the moon itself you want to avoid any other ambient light, including street lights and traffic. On the contrary, if you are trying to include a city skyline under your moon shot, you’ll need to find a lookout that allows for the twinkling lights.


How to Use Color Effectively to Enhance Your Digital Photography

Pink Sherbet Photography
When I feel blue, I always want to look for some colorful things to brighten my mood. And if I photograph it into photos, I can share it with my friends. Therefore, let’s learn from Amy Renfrey’ advices, who is the author of the Digital Photography Success ebook.

The first thing I recommend to start with if you are a serious digital photography enthusiast is to understand how color works. When you understand how color works in digital photography you can then use different colors to create very different feelings and emotions in the photo itself.
Colors such as blues, greens, mauves, etc are introverted colors and can often give your photo different feel to reds and yellows. For example think of a field of green with a tree that has purple flowers. It tends to represent, and even induce, feelings of tranquility and calm. These, in digital photography, are regarded as introverted colors.
Color such as yellows, red, oranges and pinks can often instill an energetic feeling. If you want to create a sense of stillness and calm in your digital photography then aim for subjects that have cold colors. And the same goes the other way too. If you want to have a bright energetic feeling, then go for colors that are warm
Pink Sherbet Photography
Contrasting colors in digital photography work very well too. Primary colors together such as blue and yellow seem to look great side by side, or one as a back ground and the other as a main subject. When doing digital photography, think about the colors you are creating in your photo. Try to aim for digital photos that have colors that look good together, and do not clash like hot pink and bright red next to each other for example. If you want extrovert bold color in your digital photo, don’t overcrowd the viewer with too many bold colors. In digital photography it works best if you have the main subject having the bold color, rather than multiple points of bold color in the background for example.
Choosing good digital photography subjects with simple composition makes colors work well to compliment each other. And remember digital photography is all about creating a feeling. And working your colors together well will enhance your digital photography images tenfold.


Ottok: Find Beauty in Incomplete Things

When immersed into something really fond of, we are always easy to forget tiredness and unhappiness. That’s more than a hobby. We love what we do and one day if we develop it to become our lifelong profession which may be the best thing ever. And as to me, I like handwork and photography most. But neither of them has been developed into my vocation. Therefore, I will always admire those people who can work for his heart and enthusiasm. But who can say amateurs are not high on the list?

And today, I’d like to introduce an amateurish photographer, Ottok, whose works have nothing with amateur. When asked for the reason why photography, he just responded, “ I photograph because I have a passion for it. It’s that simple.”

“I have struggled in the past to find the right words to describe what drives much of my art. And then I read an article on the Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi: finding magic in the ordinary…in the flawed. As Leonard Loren said: “Wabi-sabi is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. It is a beauty of things unconventional.” Wabi-sabi is what I seek when I explore an abandoned factory or walk the streets of a city or find a deserted house in a field.”

If you are interested in his works, please read more on his photoblog: http://www.ottokphotography.com


Small Tips to Control White Balance

Yesterday, I have talked about the basic knowledge about the white balance. Learning from their icons, you will figure out their functions and make the most of them. And today let’s study deep for more information about the white balance. And I hope the following tips will help you to shoot excellent photos.

1.       Find the white balance control on your camera
On your compacts, it's generally buried fairly deep in the menus, because they really don't want you messing with it, but you can get there. Hit the menu and it's generally in the camera or shooting mode, you'll find the setting white balance or WB and once again, press the button and choose which white balance you want to use.

2.       Try your "Auto", "Daylight", "Cloud" and "Shady" white balance settings under daylight.
Most of the time the colors will be too cool in "Auto” and you'll also find that things will look much nicer in the other settings. This differs from camera to camera; some cameras (specifically camera phones) have terrible white balance algorithms in some settings.

3.       Try using your "cloudy" and "shade" settings to get warm colors, even in daylight!
As said, these settings are intended to compensate for bluer light, but you can use them to warm your colors, too. Cameras have built-in color correction algorithms, not built-in artists; they don't know that your photograph should be warm.

4.       Use white balance trims to get your colors perfect.
You might find, for example, that under certain kinds of indoor lighting your camera almost gets the white balance perfect in its "Auto" setting, but could do with being a little cooler, or that your sunsets would be perfect if they were a little bit warmer. This is where white balance trims come in: it allows you to take one of the camera's white balance presets, and adjust them slightly warmer or cooler to get perfect results. 

The Basic Knowledge about the White Balance

Understand what white balance is and how it affects your digital camera's picture will help you a lot to photograph a more desirable photo. Most cameras have a white balance control, and will have all or some of the following settings:

Automatic white balance
The camera will analyse the image and set the white balance automatically.
This is for shooting in direct sunlight.
Cloudy light
The light on an overcast day is somewhat cooler (bluer) than it is in direct sunlight, so this setting compensates by warming the photograph.
Subjects in shady areas will be slightly bluer than daylight, so this setting compensates by warming the colours even more. You can also use this setting to get warm colours even in daylight.
Flash light is slightly cooler than daylight, using this setting will warm the picture a tiny bit compared to the "Daylight" setting. This only applies for situations in which the flash is the sole source of lighting.
Light from tungsten bulbs is substantially more orange than daylight, so the camera compensates by adding blue to the picture.
Fluorescent light
Fluorescent lamps are somewhat redder than daylight (less so than tungsten bulbs, however), so this setting will compensate by cooling the picture.
Preset white balance
This is often the only way of getting good results under "energy saving" lighting. It can often get more accurate results under artificial lighting than the white balance settings dedicated to that kind of lighting.
Manual white balance
 This allows you to specify a color temperature for which to correct.

Setting this differs from camera to camera, so read your manual. Some compact cameras lack white balance settings entirely and put them as scene modes. You'll have to figure out the effects yourself. A "Foliage" mode will typically bias the colors towards green, "Sunset" will make them warm, and “Fall Foliage" will also warm the picture.
 Left to right: automatic, tungsten and preset white balance settings. The preset setting has much more accurate colors.


Five Photographic Tricks to Freeze Moving Subjects

For me, it is very hard to photograph those rapidly moving subjects, especially on some fierce competition. Those athletes’ quickness and agility impress me a lot while my blur photos disappoint me a lot. Therefore I try to figure out some effective solutions to better capture those fast moving subjects. And I find below tricks on ehow.com, hoping you can learn something from here. And more importantly, never miss to capture those exciting moments.

photo by Mr. Physics
1.       Pick a fast shutter speed to freeze the action
The faster the object is moving, the higher the required shutter speed. However, with fast shutter speeds, images can appear dark. Use a flash if the object is close enough to illuminate.

2.       Pan your camera to capture the moving object while blurring the background
Turn on your camera’s auto focus and, with your finger on the shutter release, move the camera, keeping the object in the viewfinder and taking the photograph when you’re ready.

photo by longristra
3.       Set up a tripod with a slow shutter speed and focus on the background
The moving object in the foreground will become a motion blur. Experiment with various shutter speeds in order to capture the essence of the object, yet blur it beyond recognition.

4.       Increase the focal length to prevent blurring
Back away from the moving object and use the camera’s zoom feature so that the camera has time to focus and freeze the motion.

5.       Adjust your shutter speed when the object is moving
Fewer pixels in the camera’s sensor are involved with an object that is moving closer or father away, whereas a horizontally moving object involves more pixels, slowing down the reaction time of the sensor.


Good News: ArcSoft Portrait+™1.1 Is Released Today

Buried in the repetitive work of portraits retouching, have you ever wished to be saved from inefficiency and low productivity? Have you ever hoped to earn more money and expand your business? Hooray, photographers, here comes the rescue - ArcSoft Portrait+.

Anyone who has used Portrait+ will find it is an effective tool for batch-processing portrait photos. With only 4 steps, hundreds of photos will be retouched in minutes. It helps a lot for professional photographer to save more time but improve productivity.

And today, I’m glad to notice that Portrai+ has upgraded to a new version 1.1. It now supports up to 8 languages, including French, German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese and English. And a dynamic user guide leads to quick startup while the control area of key points has been enlarged for easier manual adjustment. Besides, it provides a new result comparison interface, eliminating the need to click sequentially to select the best retouched photos.

Aiming at improving user experience, ArcSoft always devote large time and money on producing better products. And it will work hard and providing more efficient solutions to the photography worldwide.

For more information about Portrait+TM 1.1 and to download a free trial version, please visit: www.arcsoft.com/portraitplus/


Tricks for Photographing in Low Light Conditions

When approaching the autumn, it gets earlier to embrace the night. And the amount of light is quickly diminishing after sunset. For most of us, the sun gets off work with us together. But the nightfall is also special. Pick up your camera and capture the fleeting mysterious color before the night. Here are some tricks for photographing in low light conditions quoted from Mansurovs Photography.

1. Stand closer to the light source
The closer you are to the light source, the more light there will be for your camera to use. Large windows are great sources of light, so open up those curtains and blinds and let the light get into the room.

2. Stabilize yourself
Learn to stabilize yourself and hold your camera better. Practice yourself to shoot at very low shutter speeds without introducing camera shake.

3. Be careful about autofocus
In low-light environments, the camera might start to lose its autofocus capabilities. Many DSLR cameras are equipped with an “AF assist” light. If you have such functionality, definitely turn it on in dim environments. When you focus on a subject, make sure that it looks sharp in the viewfinder. If it is blurry, try to re-acquire focus by half-pressing the shutter/autofocus button.

4. Use a full-frame camera
A full frame sensor is expensive, but very helpful in low-light situations.

5. Use a monopod or a tripod
Last but not least, try using a monopod or a tripod that will really help with keeping your gear still. With a tripod, you could set your ISO to the lowest number to decrease the amount of noise and shoot at very slow shutter speeds. 


Rule of Thirds: Better Photographic Composition

Yesterday, our department had organized a photographic training to improve our photographing skill and I used to think it might be filled with boring theory. In fact, the class was very interesting for the host had presented a lot of pictures to make it vivid. I got benefit from the training and now I wanna share with you about the Rules of Third, an effective way to better composition.

To keep balance of the picture, the Rules of Third is a basic but efficient principle to place the subjects. Before snapping, image your picture are broken down into thirds and place the subject on one of the intersections. Here’s how it works: 
You can also apply the rule of thirds guidelines to the placement of the horizon in your photos. Here the center position of the boat and horizon results in a static feeling.
Let's move the horizon to the upper third and the sailboat to the left. This time, we focus on the sailboat and emphasize the sea. Remember, these are the only guidelines. So if you don't like this subject placement, try another.
Like this. We've moved the horizon line to the lower third. Now, we focus on the sailboat and emphasize the sky. In general, place the horizon high or low in your scenic, but rarely in the middle.

Using the Rule of Thirds comes naturally to some photographers but for many of us takes a little time and practice for it to become second nature.
(photos are quoted from Photo Composition Articles)


Play with Lines in your Photography

The lines that can be found in images are very powerful elements that with a little practice can add dynamic impact to a photograph in terms of mood as well as how they lead an image’s viewer into a photo.

Horizons are the most common horizontal line to be found in photographs and they often act as a dividing point in a photograph – in effect an anchor that the rest of the image is formed around.
Layers of horizontal lines can create rhythm or patterns in an image that can become the focus of an image in and of itself. Unbroken horizons can often lead to a photograph feeling somewhat static or dull and a good strategy is to use other shapes in the landscape you’re photograph to break things up. Horizons should generally not be placed in the middle of your frame. A much more effective technique is to place them in the upper or lower third of your frame.

Vertical lines have the ability to convey a variety of different moods in a photograph ranging from power and strength to growth. As horizontal lines can be accentuated by shooting in horizontal format, vertical lines can be used very effectively by swapping the way you hold your camera into a vertical framing. This lengthens the vertical subject further which can emphasize its height.

It’s important to attempt to keep your vertical lines as much in line with the sides of your image as possible. This is not always possible if you’re shooting looking up an image as the subject will taper off towards the top – but attempt to keep its center as straight as possible and you should be ok.

Learning how to use lines in photography doesn’t just happen. It takes time and practice to become good at it.
(photos and the text are quoted from the digital photograph school)


Interesting Photos of Smart Animals Doing Things Like Human

Nowadays, animals can be found everywhere around to our life. We keep them as pets and make their life connect tightly with us. As the cutest creatures in the world, animals are easy to steal the spotlight. Their moving stories sometimes will be shot into movies, like Hachi, a Dog’s Tale, which has won millions of tons of tears. Dogs are the dearest friends of human beings. It is true and proved in this movie.

Play with your animals and get familiar with their characteristic that is the prime important thing to photograph your pets. If your pet is on the naught lists and prefer running all the time, bring it to a park. Animals only present their best performance when they are happy. Low your camera down at their level. No matter how large your pet is, it is much smaller than human. Get close to your pets or zoom in your lens and flash the moment.

Get creativity with your photos. Capture their casual movements may brighten your eyes at that time, for keeping them stay is prohibitively difficult. But if you figure out a way to post them, you will also try out methods to stop them running. Below are some photos abstracted from the blog Animals Doing Human Things. Get inspiration from those photos and shape your pets up!


Batman: the Super Hero in the world

Batman has won great popularity around the world.
To me, he is the greatest hero.
I worship him and I get deep impressed for his words:Batman is just a sign; everyone can be Batman.
I believe him. Put on a mask is to protect his friends.
As to us, a mask is also of great importance. Bury our emotion deep and never bring disaster to the innocent.




Crop Ordinary Photos into Special

It’s important for a photographer to spare no effort to study the professional skill and make progress. But knowledge is boundless. Neither the best professional can shoot a fabulous photo seamlessly according to the strict shooting guidance. Thus, when you find your photos are less desirable, you’d better apply some manual enhancement. Cropping, white balance, exposure are basic adjustments for photos. But never underestimate them. A little change may energize vigor to your ordinary photos. And nowadays, many photo editing software like ArcSoft PhotoStudio Darkroom can directly provide the most effective resolution.

Cropping images give you a second chance to frame your images and there are some ideas abstracted from the digital photograph school to help you make stunning images.

Things to consider when cropping

Duplicate your images first. It’s always good to keep an original that you can go back to later to find a different way to crop.

Take your time when cropping. There are almost unlimited ways to crop an image and it’s worth trying a few of them before settling on one.

If you change the shape of your image this could make printing more difficult, especially if you’re going to a photo lab which generally only print in standard shapes and sizes.

Cropping works best when you’re starting with a fairly large image. When you crop an image and then try to view it at the same size as it was before you cropped you’ll notice that the pixels are large. If you’re using small images keep this in mind or you’ll notice the quality of your images can decrease to an unusable level.

The ideal is to use cropping as a fine tuning of a well framed picture. With experience you’ll find your framing of images gets better and you’ll probably find yourself cropping drastically in post production less and less.


Gallery of Wild Animals’ Photography

Land Nick Compared with docile pets, wild animals are much dangerous and unpredictable. Therefore, shooting wild animals’ photography requires abundant of courage and patience. And animal photographer becomes one of the most mysterious types of profession. A photographer who uses good exposure, color and blur settings along with appropriate shutter speed and focusing techniques can produce stunning photographs.

Sushyue Liao
To shoot the best performance of wild animals, photographers have to get disguised. I used to see a photographer squatting in a poor, covered with duckweed and lotus leaves. He is so focus that he keeps his body unmoved to shoot a frog. Persistence is so important for a professional animal photographer that he has to be prepared for the unknown.

When shooting in wildness, photographers usually shoot with long telephoto lenses from a distance. When the animal is in its natural environment, capturing the elements behind and around the wildlife adds character and life to the photos. When the location is as spectacular as the animal, the composition is made by incorporating both, giving the animal a sense of place. By photographing the animal in its natural environment, the wildlife should compose a majority of the frame, making a proper statement.

(Photos are quoted from smashingmagazine)


Leon Baas

Cyrus Khamak

Tim Flach

Maurizio Peddis

Thijs Giesbers