Family Photography: 5 Tips for Laughing Children

5 tips for laughing children in front of your camera You are happy when children laugh, especially in photos. But laughing straight away, unfortunately children don’t just pretend, especially not when you want to. Almost at the push of a button when you stand in front of them with the camera. And we as family photographers have to be creative in order to make our little photo actors laugh naturally. In this respect, the following points could help you to conjure up a natural child’s smile on the picture. Tip 1 – involve parents Children have parents. Often they are a bit more photo-shy than the children, but I solve that very easily. I just give the parents something to do. This way you look at your children and are busy with them instead of always looking at me in the camera. I often say that too, look at your kids. Then the parents begin to smile full of love. On the one hand this creates exciting and natural situations and on the other hand, some parents know how to get their children to laugh. The parents’ own tricks sometimes surprise me, and so I have a few tricks that I like to use with other families. Tip 2 – sure instinct Which action I use best with which child, of course, also depends on the age and the child itself. In this respect, as is so often the case: a sure instinct. It’s like jokes, not everyone can laugh at the same joke. In addition, you have to deal with different sensitivities. Even with children. For example, not all children just want to be touched like that or it is the parents who don’t want someone else to just touch their children. Of course, on a photo shoot, it’s not exactly like being a complete stranger, but there are shy kids and extroverted kids. As with us adults too. Of course that is clear, but consciously observing which type you have in front of you is an important point.   Tip 3 – tickle If I was able to verify the above, spontaneous tickling helps in many cases. For some photo motifs, I like to do it myself. But it is better if the parents play along and tickle their little ones. So I have laughing children and exciting attitudes with their parents in one picture. I have to be careful that I press the shutter button and not miss the many beautiful moments because it is so beautiful to look at. But not every child likes to be tickled off, what then? Tip 4 – hop If there are two children in the family, another very successful action is to let the parents hop on top of each other with one child on each arm standing next to each other. At the beginning, the parents stand about 2 meters apart and then jump towards each other. This ensures that everyone is equally sharp. Be careful, choose a fast shutter speed, otherwise you will have lots of beautiful but blurred pictures. By now the ice should be broken and there will be no shortage of laughter. It always works great indoors and outdoors. And all family members have a lot of fun. Tip 5 – pop noises Fart noises are wonderful! Small children love that. What I always like to say to parents is to snort on the neck or stomach of their children, to make bubbles. That tickles, is funny and also sounds like a fart. Often, however, it is enough to simply imitate the sound yourself. But that laugh as they snort at each other is just priceless. So these were my tips for you guys. Of course, there are no limits to your imagination, just try it out and come up with your own funny ideas. In any case, a lot of fun cannot be avoided.

Wide angle photography – Chris Marquardt

At first glance, it seems a bit unusual to devote an entire book to wide-angle photography. But already after the first pages in the book, Chris convinced me: He reports on planning a trip where he deliberately left his zoom lenses at home and only traveled with a 24 mm lens. According to him, the best decision he has made in recent years. His really worth seeing sample pictures, which illustrate each of the content-related lesson, prove that he was right. In his book, Chris first explains the technical and creative basics of wide-angle photography and then goes into the various areas of photography in which the use of a wide-angle lens makes sense. And it makes the reader think again and again: Why does it actually make sense to use a wide-angle lens when photographing the Grand Canyon? And why does the same consideration not apply when Mount Everest is to be put into the picture? Chris also deals with special use cases such as the Brenizer method (unfortunately only very briefly and without an optimal example photo). He explains how to use a tilt-shift lens to take photos head-on in a mirror without actually being seen (vampire trick) and describes how you can use the same procedure to photograph a bridge that appears to be in the middle of the river. without using a boat or getting your feet wet. My conclusion A very nicely designed and stimulating book for photographers who want to come up with new ideas in image design and a plea for conscious and decelerated photography.

Planning and setting up a photo studio – what should you pay attention to?

Photographers who want to set up a photo studio are first looking for a suitable property. But which rooms are suitable for setting up a photo studio? And what should the technical equipment look like? Of course, the requirements are different depending on the type of shoot you want to do there and whether it is done professionally or as a hobby, but there are many similarities. location Every real estate agent knows the saying about the three most important criteria for evaluating a property (“location, location, location”). The location also plays a major role in a photo studio. Basically, a distinction should be made between photo studios that have walk-in customers and those where customers only come with a fixed appointment. In the case of the former, a location is preferably in a pedestrian zone or the like. makes sense, where many potential customers pass the shop window. If customers only come to order or are mainly served industrial or advertising customers, a location in a commercial area with good transport connections and sufficient parking spaces makes more sense. The distance from your own place of residence must also be taken into account, as this distance must be covered every time you drive to the studio. Dimensions of the room For photo studios in which people (full body) are to be photographed, a minimum room height of 3 meters is advisable, otherwise you will have too many problems hanging up the background systems. Background boards are 2.70 or more wide. So that there is still enough space for the flash tripods, a room width of at least 5 meters is required. The length of the room should be at least 6 – 8 meters, so that you can achieve a sufficient recording distance. The aforementioned dimensions apply to people photography. If cars or other things are photographed, the recommendations are of course completely different. window Some photographers like to work in daylight photo studios, in which case large windows are of course helpful. As a rule, daylight is avoided, so windows are more of a hindrance or are masked. ceiling What color and texture is the ceiling? Can I attach ceiling mounts for studio flashes? walls As a rule, the walls in photo studios are painted white, sometimes black or gray is also chosen. Any kind of color does not make sense because you get unwanted color casts from light reflections in the photos. With white walls you always have to expect scattered reflective light. If you want to avoid that, you hang the white walls with black molton or paint them black straight away. To be honest, I would feel uncomfortable in a studio painted black, so the walls in my studios have always been white. heater The rooms should be easy to heat. A comfortable room temperature is necessary, especially for models who are lightly or not dressed at all. My tip: Don’t just look to see whether there are any radiators, but also make sure that the rooms are well insulated. I was once offered a former warehouse as a photo studio that had radiators, but the walls and floor were absolutely uninsulated. In this case, you will not be able to achieve a sufficient room temperature in winter even with well-functioning radiators. air conditioning For some photographers, air conditioning in the studio is imperative. Most photo studios have little window space anyway, so that little heat gets into the room even in summer. Access A large entrance on the ground floor is helpful if, for example, a customer wants to be photographed with his motorcycle in the studio. The transport of bulky things is also made much easier. If, on the other hand, the studio is on the 3rd floor, a spacious (cargo) elevator is very valuable. Sanitary facilities The absolute minimum is a wash basin and toilet. A shower is helpful, but not essential in my opinion. costs Of course, the costs are not entirely unimportant. These include rent, ancillary costs and VAT. If a property is rented out without VAT, this is of course a disadvantage for a professional photographer because he cannot claim the VAT for tax purposes. Daylight or artificial light studio? As a rule, when you think of a photo studio, you tend to think of working with studio flashes. But a daylight studio is also conceivable. If the studio has large windows and you can do your photo shoots mainly during the day, it is quite conceivable to operate the photo studio as a daylight studio. In any case, you are more independent of the time of day and of the incident light with light guidance through flashing or continuous light. daylight In a daylight studio, you only need a few brighteners to guide the light in order to reflect the light coming in from the windows. You don’t necessarily have to use the relatively expensive brighteners from California Sunbounce, for example. Simple styrofoam sheets or the like do it too, because the sheets don’t have to be folded to save space for transport. Steady light A few years ago, permanent light systems had the major disadvantage that they produced a lot of heat and were very limited in terms of light exploitation. Today, however, LED panels and permanent light lamps are available that hardly get warm and are sufficiently bright. Only with the choice of the light shapers are you still somewhat limited compared to flashes. Flash system A flash system usually lives significantly longer than a digital camera. It is therefore worthwhile to spend a few euros more here and focus on quality. The following quality aspects are important: Mechanical stability (is the flash head built of high quality and stable or do the control buttons fall off after a few months?) Repeatability (does the flash head constantly emit the same light output or does the brightness fluctuate from picture to picture?) Color stability when the power changes (does the color temperature remain stable even if the power is changed?) Control range (How many f-stops does the control range include?) Bayonet (which bayonet is installed and are there also light shapers from other companies?) Burning time (how long or short is the burning time? Can jumping movements be frozen, for example?) Recharge time (how long does it take for the flash to be ready for use again after triggering?) Weight (how heavy is the device?) Service (can the flashes be repaired and are spare parts available?) Background system or fillet For the typical studio recordings in front of a neutral or monochrome background, either a background system for recording rolls of paper or a masonry or timbered groove is used. The use of fabric backgrounds (e.g. molton) is only useful in exceptional cases, for example when full-body photos can be dispensed with. Because Molton is never completely wrinkle-free, so you have to eliminate the wrinkles by choosing an open panel or through targeted lighting. However, this does not work with full-body recordings because the person is in the background. Make-up and changing area If you do not only take physical photos in your photo studio, but also (or exclusively) take photos of people, you need a make-up and changing area. Meeting area A meeting area / conference table is useful for customer meetings or preparatory meetings with models. kitchen If you have the opportunity to set up a small kitchen in your photo studio, that’s great, of course. Otherwise, a coffee machine and refrigerator are sufficient for cold drinks. props Some photographers have a prop store that is larger than the rest of the studio. Most of the time you will get by with a larger closet or a small adjoining room. Full equipment? My tip: Do not buy everything possible in advance. It is better to “upgrade” gradually as needed and, very importantly, dispose of any equipment that is not required. Otherwise, the photo studio will sooner or later degenerate into a junk store in which you can barely find your way around. My own photo studio My own photo studio, which I used until the end of 2018, was 55 square meters, which was enough for my purposes (portrait photography). It was equipped as follows Room size: 5 meters wide and 11 meters long Room height: 3 meters Separate changing and make-up area Meeting table (extendable) with up to 10 seats Set 1: Background role system Set 2: Modern seating area with different backgrounds Material and props warehouse Music system Graphic monitor for tethered shooting Sinks in the studio and toilets in the house Good heating options and air conditioning Three parking spaces directly in front of the photo studio The studio flash system consists of the following parts 4 Hensel Expert Pro Plus 500 Ws 2 Hensel Expert Pro Plus 250 Ws 1 Hensel softbox 80 x 100 cm 1 Aurora softbox 90 x 120 cm 1 octabox 120 cm with honeycomb 1 Striplight Aurora 40 x 120 cm with honeycomb 1 Striplight Aurora 40 x 180 cm with honeycomb 1 beauty dish Various normal reflectors, umbrella reflectors, honeycomb inserts, swing gates My photo equipment I have described my own photo equipment here: And your photo studio? Everything I’ve written is based on my personal requirements. Depending on what you want to do in the studio, it can look very different for you. Tell me what you have or will be paying attention to when setting up your photo studio. I’m curious!

Drone photography: technology, possible uses and permits

Multicopters are no longer just a small, insignificant branch in photography. Highly developed algorithms in control and sensor technology, compact and at the same time powerful image sensors and reliable gimbal technology have revolutionized the market within a few years. The step of getting a flyable copter nowadays hardly requires any more in-depth basic knowledge of model making. Not least because of this, more than 900,000 semi-professional drones were sold in 2017. But how do you get the most out of your copter? After a few years in the industry, we would like to share a few recommendations and tips that should make it easier for beginners in particular to use multicopters. Legal background With the new drone ordinance from 2017, the operation of multicopters was uniformly regulated for the first time. It is essential to consider whether the copter is used for leisure or commercial purposes, what it weighs, where exactly you want to fly and whether you are violating personal rights. You can find an illustrated overview and a detailed description on the website of the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI). A general and individual permit can be applied for from the responsible state aviation authority in your state. The control Get to know the controls at the beginning! The zest for action when unpacking is always great, but a large number of crashes are caused by pilot errors and lack of experience! The leading manufacturers provide a simulator on which you can practice. Here you can also try out which of the four possible assignments on the remote control is the best for you. Perspectives and possible applications Top down Top Down is arguably the best-known setting when it comes to drone photography. Here the gimbal is swiveled down by 90 °, whereby the camera points vertically at the subject. This creates a 2-dimensional impression of the motif, which is also the origin of the name “Flatlay”. This technique is particularly suitable for photographing high-rise buildings or forests, as these are symmetrical to one another and so interesting perspectives are created from the center to the edge. Landscape photography In landscape photography, just like on the ground, it is advisable to use short focal lengths in order to be able to locate the surroundings as a whole. The combination of low temperatures and high humidity / fog can, however, lead to the copter’s propellers freezing up! You should therefore always take a look at the weather on site to avoid the risk of falling. Quite a few spots are also in nature reserves where flying may be prohibited. Night pictures Images at night, especially of cities, have a very special charm from the air. However, long exposure times have to be used here, which is why good camera stabilization and a low-vibration drone are essential in order to obtain an acceptably sharp and at the same time correctly exposed image. Especially the latest generation of DJI copters achieve very good results and exposure times of up to 2s can be achieved without any problems. Image format and sensor utilization The apps of the drone manufacturers often offer the option to change the format of the photos. Find out in the technical data sheet of your copter what format your sensor has and choose this aspect ratio for your pictures. This is the only way to use the entire sensor and get the maximum out of your copter – you can then still crop afterwards. Iris and ND filter for drones If your multicopter has a variable aperture, you have another option in addition to the ISO and shutter speed to regulate the amount of light that hits the sensor. In various tests, however, it was found that with strongly closed apertures, the sharpness suffers particularly in the edge area. For small sensors as well as for Micro-Four-Thirds sensors, a value around F4 is recommended for the best results. If this leads to an overexposed image, the use of ND filters (gray filters) will help you to reduce the amount of light. These are available for almost every copter model from the manufacturer directly or from third parties. Here it is worth spending a little more to avoid unwanted color falsifications. Battery care and use Almost without exception every copter today flies with LiPo batteries (lithium polymer). Compared to older battery generations, these are characterized by a high cell voltage and capacity with low weight. This means that flight times of over half an hour are possible. The disadvantage of this battery technology, however, is its susceptibility to temperature, mechanical impact and overcharging. At low temperatures, the chemical processes in the batteries run more slowly than normal, which is why their voltage drops and your copter can crash. In the event of external damage or overcharging, the battery can catch fire or even explode. Therefore, it is essential to find out about the proper use of your batteries and, for example, think about preheating your batteries in winter. We hope that we were able to give you a small impression of drone photography with this article and look forward to your opinions in the comments.

Portrait photography in the flow – the 7 most important tips for authentic portraits

From Benjamin Wohlert In the flow – what does that even mean? For me, the photo flow is a state in which you practically no longer think about it, but only do it intuitively. The photographer and model are completely on the same wavelength and the photography is completely coordinated – I think that can best be compared with making music together. Both know what to do and when and “are in time”. In my experience, the very best 1% of photos succeed in the flow – that’s why you will find 7 tips here to take photos in the flow and to photograph people in an extraordinary and authentic way. Adapt yourself and your communication to the model What you will see in your photo later is what communication you do! Does the person like to talk a lot or do they prefer to listen? Accordingly, you should behave appropriately, i.e. be a good listener, if the person likes to talk. Conversely, it is your job to lead the conversation yourself more if you notice that she prefers to take on a listener role. In order to have good conversations during the shoot (or during the breaks), it is important that you get to know the person. Get away from boring small talk quickly! Ask open-ended questions that cannot be answered with just a “yes” or “no”. In this way you build up a better relationship of trust and are more likely to actually capture “the person himself” in the pictures. Your portraits will be more candid, authentic, and real when you do that. Be genuinely interested in your counterpart. In my experience you can learn something from everyone, broaden your horizons through each person or get to know a different, new perspective on many things. This is incredibly enriching not only for the pictures! Increase the well-being of your model Devote all your attention to the person in front of the camera, listen carefully, notice every little sign, give her security, encourage her, make her feel that she is exactly right and good as she is. That sounds so natural and simple, but I often hear from models that it is neglected by many photographers. And it’s not at all easy, it takes a sure instinct and a lot of experience. Because everyone is different, and that’s what makes it so exciting! If you can make the person feel like the most beautiful person in the world while standing in front of your camera, you’ve made it. Praise and compliments are very important, but of course they have to be honest. After my shoots, I often get the feedback that I “exude such calm” when taking photos. And after a while, this is carried over to the person in front of the camera. One thing is very important to know: emotions are always mirrored between people. You have probably heard of it before. Therefore it is important to show security and relaxation to the outside world, then your model will quickly feel in good hands, even if she is still very unsafe at the beginning. Furthermore, you should try to avoid anything that could make your model feel negative. For example: Unwanted “spectators” during the shoot of any kind (assistants can also be included), clothing that the person does not feel comfortable in, time pressure / stress, uncomfortable seating, too bright light, cold or heat … Develop a feeling for noticing, eliminating, or, best of all, preventing such things in advance, even before the person feels them and speaks to them. Train to be able to see and appreciate light In order to be good in the long term and to achieve the best possible image results in all situations, it is essential to learn to see and “read” the light. But one thing should not be underestimated: It can really take some time! It is, however, that you decide everything in this regard. This is your job alone. Whether hard or soft light, a lot of light or rather little, from which direction it should come and so on – this of course has a direct influence on the appearance of your model in the picture. You can only make these decisions correctly when you have seen how the currently available light is falling. They are the basis for many other things that you determine, such as the cropping, direction of the picture and posing instructions. It is therefore advisable to initially only work with the available light, because you can see it directly when taking photos. I recommend working with flashes later, if at all. Because with the latter you can no longer see the light before it is triggered, but you have to be able to imagine what effect the flash has on the image (or check this afterwards on the camera display and then improve it if necessary). So how do you learn to read the light? Here are a few things I’ve done: During a shoot, you can let your model move in the available light (e.g. turn slowly around itself once) and walk along yourself and track how and where the shadows fall and where, for example, highlights arise. When you come to a scene or situation in which you want to take a picture, first identify the main light source and its properties (direction, color, strength, etc.). Think about what effect you want to achieve on your photo and whether and how this is possible with the available light. You can also train your eye for light in everyday life, wherever you are, without a camera, by analyzing existing lighting situations. You can do it anywhere! Whether you are sitting in the office, waiting in line at the checkout in the shopping center or just taking a walk outside – always try to be aware of, classify and evaluate the light. Ask yourself, “How would I take a portrait here and now if I had to?” And try to imagine what the result would be. You can do all of this anytime, anywhere to learn to read the light. If you can think of another exercise on this, I would be very happy if you write it to me! Experiment with perspective Always try out new perspectives – the positioning of the camera to the object (in this case to the model) is one of the most important and powerful tools of the photographer. Sometimes take photos from high above, sometimes at eye level, sometimes take a very symmetrical face, or also from the side. You will definitely develop a lot as you do more such experiments. And what if a perspective doesn’t work out and looks ugly? No matter! Then you’ve just used a little space, nothing else. But you are smarter than before! Also analyze the shooting angles, image sections and perspectives of other photographers. Just start with the photographers whose pictures you like. Then try out these angles yourself during your shoots. So photograph the same pose of your model from different perspectives, because everyone without exception has angles from which they look the prettiest and some that look less advantageous. People with big noses, for example, are less likely to like themselves in a picture if they are photographed from the side. A frontal image is often better here. One of your main jobs behind the camera is to find those best parts of a person. I personally enjoy this task a lot and I always recommend taking the time to do it. It is always exciting to get to know people and their different sides in this way. Don’t look at the camera screen that often and don’t show pictures in between I know it’s tempting. You take a photo and want to see how good it turned out. Just take a quick look! You’re out of the flow again. Now do you think the model wants to see pictures in between? I always explain beforehand that it is my way not to show any pictures during the shoot. This has always been accepted so far. As long as you don’t constantly hang on to the display, that’s no problem at all! And yes, here, too, I sometimes make exceptions if I am absolutely sure that the picture shown gives the person additional self-confidence and does not unsettle them (see below). Many photographers say that their models want feedback about the pictures, how they look in the photo and what they should possibly do differently when posing or printing. You say that gives the person security. However, I take a different approach: I am responsible for everything when it comes to photography, and trust between the photographer and the model can grow precisely by letting me control that. Also consider: The “wrong picture” that you show in between can create a lot more uncertainty than a “correct picture” would provide for security. My advice: Set the review time of photos on your camera. Take picture series of 15-20 pictures and check in between with a quick glance whether the settings of the camera are still correct. The more experienced you become, the longer your series of images can be before you look at the display again. Try the creative, the crazy and the unusual Use props and things that not everyone can simply buy. Just look for what you can find in the household. This way you save money and train your creativity! In addition, your results will be more individual and you will automatically stand out from the image results of other photographers. For example, if you use a curtain from your grandmother’s attic for light and shadow play, nobody can imitate you exactly! To get your creativity going, here are some things from the household that I have already used when taking photos: curtains, broken glass, mirrors, pasta sieves, sheets, sand, water, drinking glasses, flowers, flashlights, cell phones … The only limit is your imagination! Leave your photographic comfort zone Yes, you’ve read so often that you should leave your comfort zone. It’s already coming out of your ears! But there is something to it. When I started portrait photography, I was the most introverted guy (can you even improve it?) You can imagine. My communication, if it existed at all, was, in German, horrible and full of uncertainty. And today? I’m still an introvert, but I really enjoy getting to know new people through photography and I’m confident in my demeanor. I’ve learned that being good or bad at taking photos has NOTHING to do with it. If there was only one thing I could give you on your way, it would be this. Don’t let anything stop you, grab your camera and go! I wish you a lot of fun, success and good light in our hobby and exciting encounters with great people!

Photographing the northern lights – 5 tips for your pictures

Northern lights photography – what a highlight in my “photo career” so far. In this article I would like to tell you what you need to photograph the Northern Lights. It’s actually pretty easy to answer: 1. happiness Happiness is really the most important prerequisite for seeing the Northern Lights. The weather is simply unpredictable and as long as this is the case, one is simply dependent on luck. But I don’t want to fob you off here, because you can consider many other factors to increase the chance of seeing the Northern Lights. 2. Preparation Unfortunately, it is not always possible to fly to Iceland or other polar regions at short notice, because the weather forecast has just announced a clear night … the case that you have a memory full of money is excluded at this point. Most of the time you book the flight a little earlier and the weather forecasts often do not go far enough and are too imprecise to predict the weather in your holiday week (s). But there are actually some regions where, statistically speaking, the weather allows clear skies more frequently and the probability of precipitation is lower. There are some tables for the individual regions on the Internet and so we come to the first point: simply plan a station for your stay in such a region. As far as I know, the Myvatn region in Iceland is particularly known for little rainfall. In Norway, for example, the coastal regions are more volatile in terms of weather and inland it is statistically drier. During my penultimate stay in Iceland it was mostly rainy and the sky was full of clouds. Only in the Myvatn region did the sky clear and at night it was clear with stars. For the travel period, it should be noted that you go on the hunt for the northern lights in the months between September and March. At this time the nights are dark enough to see the Northern Lights at all. 3. phases of the moon Second point , look at the phases of the moon! I keep it that way that I always prefer the new moon phases for nocturnal recordings. Without the moon, it’s just darker at night and the stars come out better. However, this point is worth discussing and opinions differ at this point. Information about northern intensity When you are there, and that brings us to point three , find out about the intensity of the northern lights in your hostel or guesthouse. If you have internet on site, you can of course do it yourself. I recommend two pages to you: I particularly like the second page because you can also see how the cloudy sky is developing at what time of day. So if you don’t have such a fixed travel plan, you can spontaneously decide differently 🙂 The second page offers information about the northern lights intensity and the current moon phase at the same time. You are now well prepared in theory, so let’s move on to practice. 4. Equipment I’ve been to Iceland twice now. The first time with a Sony Alpha 500 and the last time with my Nikon D600. My attempts to take night shots with the Sony failed miserably because the noise was so loud that you couldn’t see any stars. So we come to point four , the equipment Today’s cameras have improved significantly in terms of noise sensitivity. Nevertheless, differences between full format and APS-C cameras are clear, especially in the ISO behavior . So if you are really busy photographing phenomena in the night sky, in my opinion it is worth investing in a full-frame camera. Another important component is your lens. The basic rule here is: the brighter and the less focal length (between 14 and 24 mm focal length for full format), the better. The smaller the focal length, the longer you can expose without the stars leaving any traces on the photo. The stronger the lens, the lower you can leave the ISO value. This just makes the photos clearer. Another important part is a good tripod. You don’t believe how the wind can blow on Iceland. I was traveling with a Cullmann Magnesit 528Q , which is really bombproof and I can only recommend it! You should also think of a headlamp, so you have your hands free to set up the tripod and the camera and don’t have to hold a flashlight. 5. Place of admission We come to the last point of your preparation and thus to point five . When you are there, think about what can serve as a suitable foreground for a great northern shot and look out in daylight. At night, there is a high probability that you will not find anything, because everything outside of your headlights will disappear into the darkness. I also had to make this experience and so once I stood in front of an empty field and the other time in front of a place full of gravel and therefore three photos as it should not be:       Oh, and I almost forgot something: If you are so lucky and see the northern lights, put your camera aside and enjoy the natural spectacle. What you see then is unique and beautiful memories are at least as important as a great photo (!), Right?

Tips for better photos: the composition of the picture

“Tips for better photos” should be a small series of articles that give you an insight into how I design and edit photos. Today I would like to give you a few simple tips that will give your photos a more professional appearance without much additional effort. In my article series, however, I assume some basics, such as the correct use of your own camera. If these are not yet available, I recommend the article by Jenny on 22places: Basics of photography Today I want to start with the basics of image design . 1. Observe the rule of thirds when taking photos Often the spot setting of the autofocus tempts you to place objects or motifs in the middle. A central placement, however, looks very static and artificial. In order to make a photo look more lively and harmonious, the motif should not be placed in the middle. As a guide, there is the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds describes, as the name suggests, the division of a photo into thirds. By aligning the main motif at the intersection of the thirds, an image should appear more balanced. As an example, I have taken a photo of myself that complies with this rule and divided it up accordingly with white lines. As you can see, the two boats (my main subject) are at an intersection of the white line. The division of sea and sky is also based on the rule of thirds. One third of the picture is taken up by the sea, the remaining part by the sky. In the future, you should remember these white lines when taking pictures. Nowadays, many cameras also offer the option of showing such lines in the viewfinder or on the display. Note: Place the main motif at one of the intersections and try to align the horizon with one of the thirds. 2. Align photos horizontally In photo forums you get every photo that is not aligned horizontally, directly acknowledged with a stupid saying. The basis of every good photo should therefore be a straight horizon. For this reason I have got used to paying attention to the horizontal alignment of the photos when taking pictures. I often use the horizon itself as an orientation. Should this not be visible, I rely on my feelings or on the virtual horizon of my camera. Virtual horizon Nikon D610 (C) Nikon In freehand photography, it is often difficult to get a 100% straight image. That’s why I readjust a lot of my photos. This is pretty easy to do in Lightroom with the help of the Crop Overlay Tool . In the previous image, the option to be selected is framed in red. There you can fine-tune the alignment of the photo by entering the angle. And you see, by selecting the tool, the photo is divided by four lines. So you can also observe the rule of thirds when cropping your photos. Note: A straight horizon is mandatory for professional photos. I hope I was able to help you with my first “Tips for Better Photos” and motivate you to improve the quality of your next pictures! Do you have any other tips that you should consider when building the image? Then let us know. We look forward to hints.

Looking for photo locations?

For me, the search for photo locations is part of a trip, just like packing your suitcase for others. Eye-catching photo locations usually represent spectacular landscapes, breathtaking viewpoints or very special places. Did I forgot something? Many countries have very well-known photo spots: Iceland the Kirkjufell, the Lofoten the village Hamnoy or Germany the Eibsee . You don’t have to look far for these. In addition to photos, there is also a wealth of information on the Internet. But how about lesser known photo locations? How do you search for them or how do you find them? I want to describe to you today how I go about it.For More Information Click On Travel blog. Finding photo locations Often my first step is to search in popular photo portals. There is almost nothing that has not yet been photographed. My contact points are 500px and Flickr . I use the search function and enter my travel destination. I just scroll through the pictures and let myself be inspired. If I discover images with potential, I check … .. whether a geolocation is stored. If this is the case, I make sure via Google Maps. Check whether the landscape in the picture corresponds to what you can see in Google via satellite image. .. or whether the photo location is mentioned directly by name. Then I search explicitly for the name in the Google image search or in the photo portals in order to get more impressions. In fact, it is usually the case that neither the geodata nor the designation is given. Then only the Google image search helps. Here I use the opportunity to search for similar images. Often you will find the recording again or something like that and then with geodata or the name. If the search for similar images is also unsuccessful, I look for keywords that describe the image in the image search. For example, a search term could be “Lake Reflections Drei Zinnen”. Then it is time to scan the search result for name or geodata again. However, this only works reliably if I know the rough location. Photo location portals Another way to find photo locations are portals such as locationscout or 22places . These offer several advantages: In addition to the location, there is also information about the reception and accessibility of the location geographical representation of the photo locations Opportunity to comment on inquiries with the photographer From my point of view, however, the disadvantage is that often only very well-known locations are entered there (… although a lot is happening now). This should not diminish the added value that the portals offer when finding photo locations. However, if you are looking for a little less known motifs, 500px could be a good option. At you can find a map of the world where all, really all images are stored that were stored with geocoordinates at 500px. Awesome, isn’t it? By zooming in or searching for individual regions, you can enlarge the view and more images become visible. However, it is always worthwhile to search for and verify the locations again using Google Maps. We only recently had the case that we wanted to go to a street art location in Lofoten. We went to the geo-data, searched the area, all in vain. At home in Germany it turned out that the information on the website was simply wrong. Last but not least .. Sometimes you should just leave things to chance, because as Wilhelm Busch said so beautifully: “But here, as in general, things turn out differently than you think” And while we are already with quotations, a necessary note for behavior on location : Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints Please leave the photo location as you found it. Please adhere to the local prohibitions and respect private properties, nature reserves and the like.

Taking photos with a filter – screw-in or slide-in filter?

Distorted water, deep blue sky, many photo effects can be created by taking photos with a filter. In this post I want to give you an overview of what different filter systems are and what their advantages and disadvantages are. The differences in the filter systems The two most common filter systems are screw-in filters and plug-in or slide-in filters. A distinction is made here between the type of filter attachment. Screw filter With screw filters, as the name suggests, the filters are screwed directly onto the lens. How do I use this? You will find the corresponding thread on the front of your lens. In order to do justice to the different sizes of the lenses, there are screw filters with different diameters. You can use various sources to find out the diameter of your lens: The lens itself – there is usually a Ø and a number somewhere on the lens Operating instructions or manufacturer’s website Advantages of screw filters From my point of view, the big advantage of screw filter systems is the 100% “light tightness”. As the lenses and filters are screwed together, daylight cannot penetrate and cause reflections in the filter glass. This could cause problems, especially with long exposure. Disadvantages screw filter The disadvantage of such a system is quite clear, the lack of flexibility in use: You are tied to the filter diameter Graduated filters cannot be adjusted Slide-in filter In order to be able to take photos with a slide-in filter, filter holders are necessary. Well-known manufacturers of such filter holders are Lee, Formatt Hitech or Haida. These filter holders are mounted on the lens and the filters (often made of glass or plastic) are inserted. A practical report on the Haida filter holder for the Nikon 14-24 f2.8 can be found here: Haida filter holder for the Nikon 14-24mm: experience report Advantages of slide-in filters The disadvantage of the screw filter is also the advantage of the slide-in filter. This means, .. .. for many filter holders there are adapter rings for different focal lengths. For example, I bought a filter holder for the Nikon 14-24 ( my photo equipment ) and a matching adapter ring for the Nikon 24-70mm. This means that the expensive filter glasses can be used on both lenses. I am also much more flexible when using graduated filters. The course of the filter can be adapted to the subject. In a screw filter, the gradient is rigid in the middle. Disadvantages of slide-in filters Disadvantage for me is .. the comparatively complex attachment of the filter holder .. and the size and amount of extra baggage As can be seen in the video, the lens has to be removed for the Haida 150mm filter holder and the filter holder screwed on from behind. The filter bag and filter holder also have to be in the photo backpack. Screw filter vs. Slide-in filter – how to get in? For many, the number of filters and filter systems will have grown historically. I speak from my own experience 😉 I succeeded in taking photos with filters through the screw filters. They are easy to assemble and can be stored in the photo backpack to save space. At the same time, you can leave a screw filter on the camera and stow the camera back in the photo backpack. This is ideal, especially with UV or polarizing filters. I only came across the slide-in filters when I wanted to venture into photography with graduated filters. The uncertainty at the beginning was great .. how do i attach the filter holder? how do I transport the filters safely? … and is it even worth the investment? I have now found an answer to all of the questions. However, I actually use the holder for taking photos with a graduated filter less because I can get the effect more precisely in Lightroom (see my tutorial: Tips for better photos: an exciting sky ). Since there are no other ways to use filters for the Nikon 14-24, the filter holder is still used frequently. Then mostly with a polarizing filter. I hope I was able to give you a small overview of the different filter systems and I am curious what experiences you have had so far.

Photographing with a filter – the gray filter

Taking pictures with a filter enables exciting picture effects to be achieved. A filter that is often used here is the gray filter. In this post I will show you what the neutral density filter is all about, how you use the neutral density filter, what to look out for when buying and how this affects your exposure time. The neutral density filter The neutral density filter is also often referred to as a neutral density filter or ND filter. These are glass or plastic panes of optical quality. Depending on the filter system, this can be used as a disc or enclosed in a metal ring as a screw filter. What is the difference between slide-in and screw-in filters , I explained in an older post : Taking photos with filters: screw-in or slide-in filters? While searching for neutral density filters in online shops, one often comes across a wide variety of names. ND3.0, ND1000, ND64x, etc. This usually means the neutral density or the extension factor of the exposure time. Using the following table, I would like to show you three common neutral density filters and their different names and modes of action: Sales description Neutral density Light transmission Extension factor of the exposure time ND8 0.9 12.6% 8-fold ND64 1.8 1.6% 64-fold ND1000 3.0 0.1% 1000 times In addition to different names, the neutral density filters are also offered in different sizes. Basically applies here: With screw filters, the mm specification refers to the lens diameter In the case of slide-in filters, the information relates to the height and width of the filter and thus relates to the width of your slide-in filter holder system The areas of application The neutral density filter is mostly used when you … .. cannot darken sufficiently using the aperture to overexpose the image .. you want to blur movements with the longest possible exposure time The first case usually occurs when you want to take photos with the aperture open to highlight an object and the light (usually daylight) is too bright. For example, this could be the case during a photo shoot on the beach. When blue sky is required and the sea and the beach also reflect the light and the shutter speed cannot be set any shorter. In the second case one would like to artificially lengthen the exposure time in order to achieve a motion blur. The stylistic device is often used when photographing bodies of water, e.g. a waterfall or a stream. I would like to show you this using the example of an Icelandic waterfall : The purchase When purchasing gray filters, make sure that they have the greatest possible color neutrality. This means that the filters should not falsify the color information. With cheap products, long-exposure photos can turn milky purple. However, cheap does not mean bad. So far I have had good experiences with Haida products (in the test: Haida filter holder for the Nikon 14-24mm ). A neutral density filter from B + W also serves me well (but this comes from the expensive segment). Only applies to screw filters : In addition to the falsification of color information, when buying gray filters, you should also pay attention to the frame thickness. Particularly “thick” frames can lead to strong shadowing of the edges when taking pictures with a wide angle. Where can you check the criteria mentioned? Before buying, I check sample photos and read testimonials. Blogs and a search on Google are of course good sources for all kinds of experiences. On Amazon you can also find numerous testimonials and sample images for selected filters. Take a photo with a gray filter When taking photos with a neutral density filter, everyone will certainly develop their own habits, so I do not want to presume to speak of “correct photography with a neutral density filter”. Precisely for this reason, I will simply show you how I use them and what I need for it. Basically, three things are necessary for photos with neutral density filters: Camera (including lens of course ;-)) tripod Neutral density filter .. and now the procedure for landscape photos with a “light” gray filter (e.g. ND64) : Set up the tripod and camera and point them accordingly at the subject For optical viewfinders, attach the eyepiece cover and set it to live view Set self-timer with 2 seconds Set automatic timing (mode A, Av) Determine the composition of the picture and focus on the subject ( tips for better photos: the composition of the picture ) If no back button focus is active, switch off the autofocus Attach filter Trigger If the image becomes too dark or too light with, correct it using exposure compensation and take the shutter again Iceland waterfall on the ring road – ND64 filter – EXIFS: f11, 0.6 sec., ISO100, 24mm With really thick filters, the so-called big stoppers (ND1000) , I proceed as follows: Set up the tripod and camera and point them accordingly at the subject For optical viewfinders, attach the eyepiece cover and set it to live view Set self-timer with 2 seconds Determine the composition of the picture and focus on the subject ( tips for better photos: the composition of the picture ) Set automatic timing (mode A, Av) Read off the determined exposure time Set manual mode (M) Calculate the exposure time of the photo using the app ( ND filter calculator ) If no back button focus is active, switch off the autofocus Attach filter Release and expose the picture according to the calculated exposure time (the arbitrary or bulb mode is often necessary as well as a remote release) If the image becomes too dark or too light with, expose longer or shorter accordingly Iceland’s famous plane wreck – ND1000 filter – EXIFS: f14, 30 sec., ISO50, 24mm FAQ Why do you need a tripod? With the gray filter, you aim for long exposure times (often more than half a second) when taking landscape photos. This makes it impossible to take photos freely by hand. Why do you need an eyepiece cover with optical viewfinders? The eyepiece cover is required to prevent unwanted light entering the viewfinder. Even small amounts of light can make long-term exposure unusable when entering the housing. Why don’t I use a remote shutter release? I rarely use a remote release because I’m usually too lazy to take it out. It is quicker to simply set the camera to a 2-second self-timer and then release it. This also avoids the risk of blurring. In my experience, however, when taking pictures with Bulb, you can hardly avoid a remote release. Why do I apply the filter to the subject after aligning it? Strong gray filters darken the picture so that you can neither see the subject in Live View nor in the viewfinder. Therefore, it is better to align beforehand. This saves a few attempts to align the camera with the filter. Why do I turn off the autofocus? The autofocus needs contrast in order to focus. At the same time, the gray filter significantly reduces the amount of light. If you’ve ever photographed in low light conditions, you’ll understand what I’m talking about. The autofocus simply works worse in low light and hardly works at all in absolute darkness. Therefore, before attaching the gray filter, it is better to turn off the autofocus and point the camera at the subject. Which neutral density filters do I use for my pictures? In the beginning I took photos with B + W. However, they were quite expensive, so I sold my B + W ND1000 and bought the Haida gray filter set for it . So far I have not been able to determine any qualitative difference. In terms of price, however, the difference is enormous. What are common problems and mistakes when taking photos with gray filters The most common mistakes or problems I read about are the incidence of extraneous light during long exposures. This usually occurs in two different ways: The eyepiece is not properly closed or covered The body, the lens or the filter (holder) are not 100% tight How to recognize this is very simple: This is how it looks when extraneous light enters Usually the incident light is reflected and leaves purple traces on the pictures. Depending on the intensity of the incident light, the reflection can be seen more or less strongly in the photos. What helps? If light enters through the viewfinder, simply use the eyepiece cover. If light comes through the lens or body, you should contact the manufacturer. Actually, these should be 100% lightproof. What many photographers do to prevent light entering the lens or filter holder: They buy a black tube scarf. Sounds fun, but it actually seems to help.