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2018-07-01 Digital Photographer

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©Rob Read
WELCOME
“Artists of all disciplines have long drawn
inspiration from the natural world”
Welcome to the latest issue of
Digital Photographer magazine.
Artists of all disciplines
have long drawn inspiration
from the natural world – and
photographers are no different.
However, wildlife photography
can present many challenges,
from the need to understand and
find your subject to the technical challenges involved
in capturing a successful image. In this issue,
Rob Read and Paul Sterry have taken a look at the
skills involved and produced a guide to dynamic
wildlife photography. Turn to p34 to begin reading it.
Also this issue, Kasia Burke has explored the art of
still life photography, starting on p48, while our staff
writer Peter Fenech has been busy considering ways
to shoot architecture. Turn to p62 to read his feature.
As ever, we’ve got industry news, pro interviews
and tutorials to help you develop your skills, plus a
career feature exploring school event photography.
We always love to see your own work, so head over to
dphotographer.co.uk to upload your images.
Until the next issue – which, of course, is our 200th
– happy photography!
Matt Bennett, Editor
matthew.bennett@futurenet.com
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3
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01202 586286
Senior Designer Neo Phoenix
Production Editor Rachel Terzian
Staff Writer Peter Fenech
Senior Art Editor Rebecca Shaw
Group Editor in Chief Chris George
Photographer James Sheppard
Contributors
Mark Bauer, Kasia Burke, Matt Golowczynski, Rebecca Greig,
Andrew Kirby, Nina Masic, Angela Nicholson, Erin Perez,
Rob Read, Matthew Richards, Simon Skellon, Paul Sterry,
Sharon Tenenbaum, Mark White, Chris Yiu, Pawel Zygmunt
Cover images
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Group Marketing Director Sharon Todd
© Andrew Kirby
Circulation
Head of Newstrade Tim Mathers
Our contributors
KASIA
BURKE
NINA
MASIC
This issue, our
Staff Writer
Peter explores
the ins and outs
of architecture,
revealing
techniques for creative imagery
in towns and cities, no matter
whereabouts you live. Turn to p62 to
begin reading it. He’s also taken a look
at in-camera black and white on p84 of
the magazine.
In this issue’s
shooting and
editing tutorial,
Nina Masic
explains how to
capture a beauty
portrait using just a home studio,
exploring the lighting and posing
concepts that will enable you to shoot
stunning shots, even if you don’t have
access to a fully-fledged professional
studio space. Turn to p78 to read it.
Kasia shoots
commercially but
her real passion
lies in still life.
She began putting
together her own
shoots when she had time between
her professional work, but over the last
few years this has started to become
a larger portion of her work. Turn to
p48 of the magazine to read her guide
to still life.
Website:
Website:
Website:
dphotographer.co.uk
ninamasic.com
kasiaburkephotography.co.uk
MATTHEW
RICHARDS
ANGELA
NICHOLSON
ROB READ
&
PAUL STERRY
Gear expert
Matthew Richards
has covered
telephoto lenses in
this issue’s group
test, reviewing
four different offerings and giving his
verdict on which he would recommend
for those who would like to try their
hand at shooting distant subject
matter. Turn to p94 to discover which
of the optics impressed him most.
Freelance
photographer
and one of our
magazine’s regular
camera reviewers,
Angela Nicholson
has taken the Fujifilm X-H1 out for a
thorough test this issue, and has
given her verdict on it on p102.
She’s also reviewed some appealing
accessories for photographers on
p110 of the magazine.
Experts in the
field of wildlife
photography,
Robert and Paul
have put together
a guide to all things related to the field.
From working close to home through
to birds in flight, they’ve covered
everything that you need to know in
order to produce incredible images.
Turn to p34 to read it.
Website:
Website:
Website:
matthewrichards.uk
angelanicholson.com
naturephotographers.co.uk
4
Management
General Manager Matthew Pierce
Group Content Director Paul Newman
Head of Art & Design Rodney Dive
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@ Shreenivas Yenni
YOUR FREE
ASSETS
Techniques
10 The Gallery
34 Focus on
wildlife photography
20 Story Behind the Still
We hear from Sebastian Tontsch
about how he overcome the logistical
challenges of shooting Dubai’s skyline
beautifully shrouded in fog
In Focus
22 News
The latest product announcements
and industry developments
Featuring shooting, editing, kit and
location advice, our cover feature
reveals everything you need to know
about capturing amazing wildlife shots
48 Shoot still life like a pro
Learn the tricks of the trade from
Kasia Burke and discover how to shoot
compelling images of everyday objects
62 Master artistic
architecture
62
Discover the skills you need to capture
dramatic urban architectural imagery
24 Interview
Print & Share
Expert landscape photographer Pawel
Zygmunt reveals his inspirations and
the messages he hopes to convey in
his stunning imagery
76 Choose your ideal
photo paper
Shooting Skills
We review the options you have when
it comes to printing, to help you make
a decision for your own imagery
All it takes is a simple setup and you’ve
got yourself a home studio, ready for
you to capture a professional-looking
beauty image. Follow these shooting
and editing tips to find out how
Go Pro
86 Make money from
school events
School events are great opportunities
for photographic experience, so learn
how to make them a success
84 Perfect in-camera
monochrome
114 Pro Column
Simple steps to achieving marvellous
monochrome imagery in-camera
Mark Bauer discusses the stresses of
meeting publishing deadlines
6
@ Andrew Kirby
78 Take home studio
beauty portraits
Shoot still
life like a pro
@Kasia Burke
Some of our favourite images from the
Digital Photographer website
The
Gallery
48
Contents
Your Images
10
Master artistic
architecture
Reviews
94 Group Test
This issue we test and review
four affordable super-tele
zooms from the likes of Nikon,
Sigma and Tamron
102 Fujifilm X-H1
We test out Fujifilm’s new
flagship APS-C and give our
expert verdict on its design,
features, image quality and
value for money
106 Canon EOS M100
An entry-level camera with
some clever, advanced
features – how does this
offering from Canon perform?
108 Software
Two photo-editing options are
put under the spotlight
110 Accessories
A roundup of products for
photographers to consider
Master school events
@ Nina Masic
@ Rob Read
78
Take home studio
beauty portraits
24
@ Pawel Zygmunt
86
@ PeterFenech
Perfect in-camera monochrome
@ PeterFenech
34
Focus on
wildlife photography
Interview
94
Group test
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YOUR IMAGES
The Gallery
2x ©Paul Carruthers
Some of the best images
from our website
Paul Carruthers
DP Gallery address:
Swimstones
Image title:
Cheddar Gorge
What camera, lens and settings did you use to capture this
stunning shot?
Canon EOS 5DS, 11-24mm lens at 11mm, 5mins, ISO 320, f8.
How did you decide on the composition?
I got to the gorge and drove up and down a few times, pulling
in at certain points to have a look around. I spotted some cars
going around this bend, which I now know is Horseshoe Bend,
so I clambered up the side of the hill to have a better look. There
was not much light in the gorge, and it was at that point I realised
I was going to need the torch (which was still in the car), so I
went back down the hill [to get it]. I’m glad I did.
What do you like most about the image?
The mountain climbers. I think when they turned up and started
climbing in that spot, it added so much to the image and proves
just how lucky you can get as a photographer, if you keep getting
out there. A great sky, nice light or some climbers with their
lights on.
Did you do much post-processing?
Not much – I have a love-hate relationship with my computer,
so I like to get my image right in-camera. I asked the climbers
if it was alright to flash the torch over towards them. I was so
worried I might blind them while I was light painting the gorge.
Upload your images to our online gallery now for your
chance to be printed in the magazine.
Go to www.dphotographer.co.uk
10
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WITH SD ADAPTER
Every issue one reader gallery entry
wins a 32GB MicroSDHC PRO Plus
memory card with SD adapter worth
£44.99, boasting blazing-fast read
& write speeds of up to 100MB/s &
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information visit samsung.com/
uk/memory-cards
11
YOUR IMAGES
Erick Castellón
2x © Erick Castellón
DP Gallery address:
ecastellon
Image title:
Calla Lilies
“Taken in Garrapata State Park on
the California coast. This strip of
beach is known as ‘Valley of the
Lilies’, where calla lilies grow wild.
Having had warmer weather than
usual recently, I figured it may
also impact the bloom cycle and
perhaps have the flowers bloom
earlier. I wanted to have both the
foreground and the background
in focus, so took two shots.”
12
YOUR IMAGES
Ian Millward
“Myself, my partner and friends had a weekend
break in northern Italy. We decided to have a day
in Venice. At this particular point I was hoping for
a nice sunset shot, but the cloud didn’t quite clear.
I was still pleased with the light in the sky that the
cloud cover provided. It turned out to be an iconic
Venetian scene!”
2x © Mark Jereos
2x © Ian Millward
DP Gallery address:
Ian Millward
Image title:
Venice
Mark Jereos
DP Gallery
address:
mjereos
Image title:
Milky Way In
The City
“This is a composite of two
photos: city buildings in the
Philippines and the Milky Way,
shot here in the UAE. What I
like about this photo is
how it shows an imagined
view of how beautiful it would
be to see the Milky Way in
the city.”
14
2x © Jukka Koukkari
Jukka Koukkari
DP
Gallery
address:
poptician
Image title:
Walking On A
Wood Stump
“This image of my
daughter was shot
when we were walking
in a park near our
home. There’s a
certain tranquillity and
harmony in this image
that I like. I processed it
in Lightroom (I always
shoot RAW), converted
it to black and white
and added an extra
tone which, in my
opinion, suited it well.”
15
2x © Nick Stratford
YOUR IMAGES
Nick Stratford
DP Gallery address:
Viavadum
Image title:
King’s Cross
Shreenivas Yenni
DP Gallery address:
snivas1008@gmail.com
Image title:
Light Festival
“I took this image on the banks of the
River Ganga at Varanasi, India during
Dev Diwali, Karthika Purnima Festival.
Thousands of people gather at
Varanasi and light the mud oil lamps.
The main subjects are the people
who are lighting lamps and their faith.
We can see the leading lines of lights
and people, standing on both sides,
balancing the image.”
16
2x © Shreenivas Yenni
“Taken at London King’s Cross
Station. I had gone there specifically
with the aim of trying to capture the
amazing roof detail. However, just as
I arrived, I noticed a lone commuter
standing on an upper concourse,
highlighted against the structure. I
particularly liked the way the diffused
light worked on the scene.”
2x © Yuriy Marutyak
Yuriy Marutyak
DP Gallery address:
Marandmar
Image title:
Time
“I love London’s architecture and
this viewing spot, overlooking
Parliament and Elizabeth
Tower, is very popular. I knew
refurbishment works were about
to begin and soon Big Ben would
be hidden for a long time.
I used a 16-stop ND filter with
my camera set to Bulb. The low
tide and calm Thames created
a nice reflection.”
17
PHOTOCROWD COMPETITION
THE BESTOF BIRDS IN FLIGHT
The winners of our latest contest with Photocrowd have been revealed
I
n our most recent contest in association
with Photocrowd we challenged you to
submit your best images that successfully
captured birds in flight, and after sifting
through over 3,000 stunning photos the
winners have been selected.
Both crowd-voted and expert winners will
receive a Loupedeck (£220). Congratulations
to all of the winners!
WIN! Prizes from Affinity
Enter our Portraits with Personality contest in associattion
with Photocrowd for a chance to win
Pictures of people can come in many different
forms, but the ability to capture a person’s true
personality takes real skill. We want to see your
best portraits that show off your subject’s true
self. Enter now to win a licence to Affinity Photo
professional editing software (£48.99 for Mac
and £19.99 for Windows).
Affinity Photo is a huge toolset engineered for
modern photography professionals. Whether
you’re editing and retouching images or creating
full-blown multi-layered compositions, it has
18
all the power and performance you’ll ever need.
Speed, power and accuracy are at the heart
Affinity Photo’s workflow, with non-destruct
editing, RAW processing and end-to-end colour
c
management as standard. Edits work in re
time, so there’s no waiting to see results.
Expert and Crowd winners will be able to pick
between Mac, Windows or iPad versions. The
contest closes on 22 April.
www.photocrowd.com
1ST PLACE WINNER
Whooper swans in flight
Photographer: Haitong Yu
Our comment: This striking and unique image really stood out
for us from all of the other entries in this contest. The dark tones
of the background really help to make the swans stand out, and
the beautifully blurred wings serve to convey the movement of
the creatures.
THE BEST OF BIRDS IN FLIGHT
2ND PLACE
3RD PLACE
Into the storm
Chaos!
Photographer: John Gooday
Our comment: This is a very striking image of a red kite. The
photographer has skilfully captured a sharp image of the bird while
blurring out the background using a wide aperture and extremely long
lens. This is the perfect image for the Birds in Flight brief.
Photographer: Gladys Klip
Our comment: This bright and wintry capture really caught our
attention. Like the first-place expert winner, this is a unique take on the
Birds in Flight theme that we really love. The movement is blurred, but
is still noticeable and the swan’s head is wonderfully sharp.
1ST PLACE CROWD VOTED Kissing Finches
Photographer: Kath Aggiss
19
YOUR IMAGES
STORY
BEHIND
THESTILL
Photographer: Sebastian Tontsch
Website: instagram.com/sebastian_t1000
Location: Dubai, UAE
Type of commission: Personal
Shot details: Canon EOS 6D with Tokina 16-28mm f2.8,
10 secs at f10, ISO 100
About the shot: Aerial views of cities can be truly
magical, especially those captured after dark. The mix of
cool ambient colour and warm artificial lighting provides
a very unique atmosphere that can be almost painterly.
Dubai in the United Arab Emirates has become a
magnet for photographers looking to study its futuristic
architecture. Sebastian Tontsch set out with a very
specific goal in mind – to capture the famous skyline
blanketed in fog.
“This image was taken on a beautiful foggy morning,
from the 77th floor of a high-rise building in Downtown
Dubai,” recounts Sebastian. “I have seen how beautiful
the city covered in fog looked from up high, so I worked
on getting access to a high-enough flat to witness this
beautiful natural phenomenon and photograph it.” There
are several key exposure challenges to shooting foggy
scenes, not least in a city, where contrast is often very
high. However, for Sebastian, the biggest difficulty was
gaining access to a good vantage point. “The biggest
challenge at the time was to get access to a flat above
the 60th floor, in a building that has a good lookout on
Downtown Dubai. Nowadays I don’t have that problem
because I’ve got far more contacts, but back when I shot
this I didn’t have many good connections in Downtown
Dubai, only in the Marina.”
When faced with an excellent photo opportunity such
as this, it can be difficult to know what to focus on first,
to ensure a great capture. “The thought process at the
moment when the fog rolled into the city was basically
to just check my settings were right and to watch the
composition – then it was all about just capturing the
situation.” This approach helps focus the photographer’s
mind to see the best possible image, without getting
swept away by the brilliance of a location.
Right
Sebastian Tontsch used an ultra-wide lens on his fullframe Canon EOS 6D to capture this cinematic cityscape.
Aperture and exposure choice ensured sufficient depth of
field and energy in the fog and clouds
20
All images © Sebastian Tontsch
Journey of Fog
21
IN FOCUS
Below
Vari-angle
The EOS M50 can have its 3in
LCD screen pulled away from
its body to face the front
Right
Central
The model has been
designed with a centrally
positioned viewfinder
VIDEO TO EOS M RANGE
Mirrorless model announced alongside budget-friendly DSLR pair
Canon has finally joined the likes of
Panasonic, Fujifilm and Olympus by
adding 4K video to its mirrorless
camera stable. The first recipient
of the technology, the
EOS M50, appears to be
positioned between the
most junior EOS M100
and last year’s EOS M6.
The camera records
footage in the 4K UHD
format, with the option
of extracting stills
from captured footage
available. Video and stills
are recorded using a 24.1MP APS-C sensor,
one that’s been fitted with Dual Pixel CMOS
AF technology.
The new model has been designed
with a centrally positioned, 2.36 million22
dot electronic viewfinder, together with a
three-inch, 1.04 million-dot Vari-angle
touchscreen, and it’s the first
camera in any of Canon’s camera
lines to be equipped with
a DIGIC 8 processing
engine. The spec sheet
is rounded off by 10fps
burst shooting and both
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for
easy image transmission
to smart devices.
Canon has also
announced a pair of
new DSLRs alongside the
EOS M50, one being the most
affordable DSLR ever to have been launched
by the company. The EOS 4000D combines
an 18MP APS-C sensor with a DIGIC 4+
processing engine and Wi-Fi capabilities,
together with a nine-point AF system and Full
HD video recording. To help keep costs down,
the company has finished the model with
a plastic lens mount, while the LCD screen
measures a reasonably modest 2.7 inches,
although it does at least resolve images with
a respectable 920K dots.
The other model, the EOS 2000D, is based
around much the same idea, although it
offers a 24MP sensor, a metal lens mount, a
larger three-inch LCD screen and both Wi-Fi
and NFC technologies.
The EOS M50 is now available, with an RRP
of £540 for its body and £650 in a bundle
with the EF-M 15-45mm IS STM lens. The
EOS 4000D meanwhile, is retailing at £330
for its body and £370 for a kit with the EF-S
18-55mm f3.5-5.6 IS II lens, while the EOS
2000D has an RRP of £370 for its body and
£470 for a kit.
NEWS
Pentax K-1 Mark II
Second-gen model reboots the flagship offe in
Ricoh Imaging has recently updated its sole
full-frame model, the K-1, with a new secondgeneration version.
The K-1 Mark II boasts a revised Pixel Shift Resolution
option, whose new Dynamic setting enables you to use the
technology while hand-holding the camera, rather than
having to use a tripod.
While the camera mirrors the original model in offering a
36.4MP full-frame sensor without an optical low-pass filter,
image processing is said to have been revised, and the
presence of a new accelerator means that the camera’s
sensitivity can now be adjusted to a lofty ISO 819,200.
Other changes include slight revisions to focus tracking
and audio capture, but otherwise the model offers
much the same as the original K-1. This includes a glass
pentaprism viewfinder with almost 100 per cent coverage,
together with a 3.2in LCD screen that can cleverly be
adjusted over three axes. Image stabilisation is once again
provided at sensor level, with five-axis correction for up to
five stops.
Sales of the K-1 Mark II will start from the end of March,
with a body-only price of $2,000 in the US and £1,800 in
the UK. Ricoh Imaging has also announced plans to offer
significant deductions on the price for anyone planning on
upgrading from the K-1.
Sony confirms a7 III
Recent a7RIIIisquicklyfollowedbythemoreaffordablea7III
Sony has added the a7 III to its
third generation of full-frame
a7 mirrorless cameras. The a7
III maintains the same 24MP resolution
as the a7 II, although it now uses a backilluminated full-frame sensor, much like the
42MP a7R III and the sport-oriented a9.
Furthermore, the camera also gains
an autofocusing system that partners
693 phase-detect AF points with 425
contrast-detect AF points, a feature that’s
augmented by a new joystick on its rear
and allows for very convenient focuspoint adjustment.
The model also splits from the Mark
II version in offering both 4K and Full HD
video recording, and it arrives with a higher
capacity battery too, promising up to 710
shots per charge.
Other notable features include 10fps
burst shooting, dual SD card slots, five-axis
image stabilisation and the combination of
a 2.36 million-dot OLED viewfinder with a
three-inch tilting LCD screen.
The Sony a7 III will be available from April
for £2,000/$2,000 for its body alone, or
at £2,200/$2,200 for a kit with the FE 2870mm f3.5-5.6 OSS.
KEEP INFORMED:
Above
Protected
The K-1 Mark II has been crafted
with a dust- and weatherresistant magnesium alloy body
Left
Tilting display
The camera has been designed
with the same 3.2in tilting LCD
as the Mark I version
In other news
Below
Backilluminated
The a7 III is
the latest
Sony model
to gain a backilluminated fullframe sensor
More announcements from
around the photography world
VENUS OPTICS ANNOUNCES
POWERFUL MACRO LENS
Venus Optics has unveiled the Laowa
25mm f2.8 2.5-5X Ultra Macro lens,
which boasts a magnification range of
up to 5x. The lens can already be preordered in Canon EF, Nikon F, Pentax K
and Sony FE mounts.
CANON’S NEW PARTY TRICK
Canon has complemented its camera
releases (opposite page) with the
Canon Speedlite 470EX-AI, a new
flashgun that automatically adjusts the
position of its head to provide the best
bounce angle.
SIGMA SETS ITS SIGHTS
ON SONY
In addition to announcing a new
105mm f1.4 DG HSM and 70mm f2.8
DG Macro options to its Art series,
Sigma has now announced it will
shortly be making nine of its Art lenses
available to users of Sony’s Alpha
mirrorless cameras.
For more news and updates, be sure to pay a visit to our website, www.dphotographer.co.uk,
and if you’ve got a story for us, you can email us at team@dphotographer.co.uk
23
INTERVIEW
Pawel Zygmunt explains the artistic thought process
behind his beautiful, storybook images of landscapes
24
PAWEL ZYGMUNT
Fanad Head
Lighthouse
Here the lighthouse lends
the otherwise flat scene
a compositional ‘full stop’,
adding balance
All images © Pawel Zygmunt
25
INTERVIEW
L
andscape photography
is a deceptively difficult
genre to master. While
there are potential
subjects everywhere for
any photographer to enjoy,
actually crafting an effective and timeless
composition is no easy task. Expert
landscape photographer Pawel Zygmunt
(500px.com/pawelzygmunt) has first-hand
experience of all the major challenges and
has learned how best to overcome them.
What got you started in photography? Tell
us about your early career.
I always dreamed of taking photographs
and my first fascination was with black
and white street photography. That was 17
years ago, in Poland, in a time where there
was no access to fast internet, to get all the
information required to even start learning. I
didn’t have much money to spend either, as I
was at university.
I remember getting my first camera, which
was a Soviet Union-manufactured Zenit. I
also bought black and white film for it with
12 frames to shoot. As I didn’t know anything
about composition and light, I wasted that
film and had only two photographs exposed
more or less correctly. That discouraged me
for few years until my access to [training
materials] became easier. I tried again
when I emigrated to Ireland in 2005, and
got my first digital camera, a Nikon D200.
I discovered that travelling and landscape
photography was my destiny.
What are your favourite landscape subjects
and why?
I don’t have a favourite landscape subject,
but most of my shots are seascapes. This
could very much be caused by the fact that
I live on an island! I absolutely love places
where the ocean meets with land, especially
Western and Northern parts of Ireland’s
coast. From massive sea stacks, sea caves
and blowholes to ripped cliffs or even
mountains falling into rough waters; from
waves crashing onto the cliffs or washing
stones on the beach, to calm turquoise
waters and calm bays – you find all of that
in Ireland, as well as beautiful mountains,
lakes and places so secluded and rugged
that you’ll forget you are living in times
of globalisation.
What cameras and lenses do you usually
use for your photography?
I now use a Nikon D810 and I always have
two standard landscape lenses with me,
which are a Nikkor 16-35mm f4 and Sigma
24-70mm f2.8. I am planning to buy a Nikon
70-200mm f4 and Samyang 14mm f2.8 in
the near future.
26
PAWEL ZYGMUNT
“I always try to
be on location
as early as
possible, before
sunrise or
sunset, so I can
enjoy the place”
Above
Dunluce Castle,
Northern Ireland
Pawel highlights how vital it is to plan
your landscape shoots, so you are
able to better predict where to find
captivating images, from the ideal
vantage points and at the right times
Far left
Enchanted Forest,
Wicklow, Ireland
By using a strong leading line, Pawel has
created a composition with direction,
drawing the viewer’s eye to the centre
of the picture
Left
Eilean Donan
Castle, Scotland
Pawel has a special fondness for the Irish
landscape, which shows through in his
personal and characterful compositions.
Here the long exposure adds to the
mysterious and cinematic feel
27
INTERVIEW
Left
Kilt waterfall, Skye
A favourite subject of Pawel’s is the
border between land and sea. Here
the waterfall bridges between the two,
while the use of portrait orientation
emphasises the height of the cliffs
Below
Loch Etive, Glencoe
This is one of Pawel’s all-time favourite
images. Shooting handheld, he
managed to frame an environmental
portrait of this stag, collating multiple
symbols of Scotland to tell a story
28
PAWEL ZYGMUNT
What are you trying to say with your
images? Are you trying to tell a story?
Since I mostly photograph landscapes of
Ireland and Scotland, my photographs are
about the beauty of these two countries. My
message is clear – you have to visit these
places to feel their power and you will never
forget the experience. Light is the power
in photography and light in Ireland and
Scotland can be amazing, which is what I
am trying to show.
How do you decide if colour or black and
white will work best for an image?
I always shoot in colour and then change
into monochrome in post-processing. I prefer
colour photographs however and when out
on location, I can usually predict what will
work better in black and white. It has to do
with how much light is in the scene or what
kind of weather I’ve got. For example when
I get harsh morning light or a fully overcast,
stormy sky I will quite often decide to go for
black and white.
What challenges do you find in your line of
work and how do you overcome these?
Building strong compositions is still
something I am trying to improve. When
I’m out there I sometimes struggle to find
a decent frame and start panicking right
before sunrise or sunset, afraid I won’t get
anything. If I’m in a very good location, I try
to do too much, instead of focusing on one
particular shot. While stressful, I’ve learned
how to handle it better – I already mentioned
that I always have my main subject in mind
before I go on location, so all I have to find is
something interesting in the foreground.
Do you have a favourite image from the
selection you sent us and why?
The stag image I photographed on my recent
trip to Scotland. It was an adventure to be so
Planning is power
Creating unique landscape
compositions can be difficult,
especially when you’re spoiled
for choice
A big challenge faced by landscape
photographers is isolating a single
subject, amongst the plethora of
framing possibilities you might find at a
location. Pawel adopts a classic strategy
to solving this problem. “I always try
to be on location as early as possible,
at least two hours before sunrise or
sunset, so I can enjoy the place and feel
it before I start taking any pictures,” he
explains. “I have time to walk around,
to look for some point of interest or to
just sit down and watch the changing
light. I usually know what I am going to
photograph before I go, as I do some
research at home. Knowing my main
subject, I look for something which can
lead the eye to it. Sometimes, when
I find myself in a situation where it’s
difficult to find a strong composition,
I try to make it up by catching great
light.” By leaving time to explore all
of the possible perspectives, Pawel is
able to better match his pre-imagined
creative vision, resulting in a more
efficient and less stressful photoshoot.
This demonstrates how good use of
time yields more successful shots. His
approach also enables him to better
enjoy his surroundings and create a
connection with the scene.
29
INTERVIEW
“My message is
clear – you have
to visit these
places to feel their
power and you
will never forget
the experience”
close to a wild animal. It was so unexpected
– I was just passing and as I don’t really have
a proper wildlife lens, I didn’t plan it at all.
He was just sitting there and resting when I
got out of the vehicle. I slowly approached it
to a few metres and took a photo handheld
at 35mm. The deer composes so well into
the beautiful Scottish Highland scenery and
looks like he is watching over his land.
Is there a location you’d love to visit with
your camera and why?
I’d really love to visit Iceland and Norway
one day, mainly because I have never
experienced an aurora show. That definitely
would be the main attraction, but Iceland
and Norway are also known for fantastic
landscapes. On my first trip I’d like to go to
the most iconic locations and another trip
would be to reach deeper.
What tips would you give photographers
new to your favourite genres?
Landscape photography can be a bit
frustrating at the start but don’t get
discouraged – it will all come with time. To
start, get tips from other photographers,
social media and YouTube. There is so much
material that people can learn from and
with such easy access to it, you can make
very quick progress. Always plan your trip
by checking [everything from] weather, tides
and wind speed to light direction. If you
come to the spot well prepared you minimise
your chance of failure. Enjoy discovering new
places and take photography as an extra to it.
What is next? What are your photographic
ambitions for the future?
I’d love to try myself in astrophotography
and because it involves learning new postprocessing techniques, it could improve my
editing in general, helping me in producing
better photographs.
It would be nice to get to know other
places in Europe and maybe even on other
continents. The world is so beautiful and
is just full of spectacular things, waiting to
be discovered.
30
Above top
Above
Below
Opposite top
Finnich Glen
Sgurr na Stri
Malin Head
When composing
his images, Pawel
looks for a strong
foreground interest
and builds his scenics
from there
Pawel stresses the
importance of isolating
an aspect to focus on,
especially when in a
location where there are
limitless possibilities
The golden light and
blurred water create
a soft theme, which
contrasts with the
sharpness of the Irish
coastal rock
Ballinafagh
Church
Pawel always looks
for great lighting in his
images, choosing to make
this a character of the
composition in itself
Opposite
Cave Killybegs
The splash of strong
colour and sense of scale
introduced by including
the human figure in this
shot, create a photo with
more depth and story
PAWEL ZYGMUNT
31
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TECHNIQUES
34
FOCUS ON
WILDLIFE
Take striking images of birds and more
W
ildlife photography c
daunting proposition.
attractive field, but it
presents plenty of ch
owing to the wide variety of tech
and subject knowledge needed.
rewards of making the effort to
are abundant, with the chance to
stunning photos that are captivat
at, satisfying to produce and also
very marketable. Over the next few pages,
you’ll discover how to improve your wildlife
photography, with the help of experts in
the field, Robert Read and Paul Sterry, who
between them run the Nature Photographers
image library, which can be found at www.
naturephotographers.co.uk.
Read on to discover their advice, as they
tackle everything from kit suggestions
through to editing skills.
35
TECHNIQUES
CHOOSE THE
RIGHT KIT
Build quality You’ll need a camera that
can cope with everything from humidity
in the Amazon to sub-zero temperatures
at high altitudes in the Andes.
Selecting the best kit for wildlife
photography can be tricky, but
always opt for quality
Action photography To capture
the action a fast frame rate is
important. The camera’s ability
to operate the lens’ autofocus at
optimum speed is also vital.
Detail For close-up macro
an ideal camera is a fullframe model with a sensor
size of more than 40MP,
without an anti-alias filter.
Lenses for wildlife
Wildlife photography embraces a
wide range of interests, and three
lens options cover most eventualities
Mid-range zoom Use a
100-400mm zoom lens
to compose images
of animals in the
landscape, and where
subject distance is
unpredictable. f5.6
lenses are ideal.
Telephoto lenses 500mm or
600mm f4 lenses are the
ultimate tools for bird and
mammal photographers,
where subjects are often
wary or distant. The cost
and weight of the lens is
a downside, though.
Macro lens Designed
for close focusing (1:1).
50mm lenses are ideal
when you can control
subject distance;
100mm lenses are great
for subjects disturbed by
a close approach.
36
The market is awash with cameras, lenses and
all manner of photographic accessories. And
with new kit seemingly being launched daily,
you could be forgiven for being confused as to
what is the best gear for your style of wildlife
photography. Ultimately, there is no right or
wrong answer when it comes to choosing
your equipment. Much will depend on your
photographic style, your intended subjects,
the budget you have available and, quite often,
how much you can physically carry. But there
are some general rules and principles that will
help you make the right choice before you part
with your hard-earned cash.
If money is no object and you can afford
the latest top-of-the range camera body and
lenses, all well and good. But it is useful to
remember that the most expensive cameras
do not necessarily generate the best image
quality. Furthermore, ultimately, it is not
the camera that takes the picture but the
photographer; with wildlife insight and
photographic skill, you can take great wildlife
images even with a modest budget.
To begin with, think carefully about what
you want to photograph and where you will
be doing it. If you are an adventurous globetrotter, then your gear will have to take some
punishment. From sub-zero temperatures
to arid sandy deserts, your camera bodies
and lenses need to cope with whatever
these environments throw at them. Your
choices will need to be as uncompromising
as the environments themselves. At the
other extreme, if your photography never
sees you straying too far from home, taking
snaps of garden birds and other wildlife, your
equipment will not need to be so robust.
The difference between a pro-level camera
body and those at the cheaper end of the
scale may not be obvious immediately.
But drop a camera and lens, or bash them
around a few times, and the difference will
soon become clear. Of course, protective
and padded coatings will help mitigate
damage. But if you are serious about wildlife
photography then sooner or later your
equipment, as well as you, will get splattered
with mud, be subjected to rain and freezing
temperatures, or will get covered in dust.
Wildlife photography is not a pursuit for those
of a delicate disposition.
FOCUS ON WILDLIFE
PROTECT KIT
Rubber casings can be purchased
to cover most camera bodies to
protect them if they are bashed
or dropped, and neoprene sleeve
coatings are manufactured for
most large telephoto lenses. They
protect the lens from the
elements and everyday
wear and tear.
“With wildlife
insight and
photographic
skill, you can
take great wildlife
images even with
a modest budget”
Wildlife photography
accessories
Some accessories are essential, and
others will improve your chances of
getting the perfect shot
A hide Many birds and mammals are
understandably wary of the
human form and a hide
allows the photographer to
remain hidden from view.
A range of models can be
purchased, most adorned
with camouflage patterns
to enhance the deception.
Beanbag This saddle-shaped bag can
be filled with dry beans and is
invaluable when using large
lenses. Draped over an open
car window the vehicle
becomes a mobile hide.
Inverted and placed on
the ground it is perfect for
low-angle shots.
Gimbal tripod head A must if you
use a long telephoto lens. Nothing
comes close to this intriguing
device in terms of flexibility
for movement and action
shots: when balanced
perfectly, even massive
lenses handle as if they
were weightless.
Top
Feather detail
At just 6.6cm long, the tufted coquette
hummingbird is one of the smallest birds in the
world. Using a 600mm lens with a 1.4x converter,
every feather detail can be seen
Middle left
Lobster moth larva
A 105mm macro lens was used to capture the
detailed structure of this caterpillar. Subtle use of
macro flashes helped bring out detail and texture,
and allowed a good depth of field to be employed
Bottom left
Quizzical blue tit
500mm or 600mm f4 lenses are ideal for bird
captures, but the weight of the lens, camera and
tripod combination is a downside
Far left
Mid-air fight
Split-second action captured between two
squabbling blue tits. To capture action a fast
frame rate (10 per second perhaps) is important
37
TECHNIQUES
PHOTOGRAPH
BIRDS IN FLIGHT
If you are up for a challenge,try capturing
dynamic images of birds in flight
Flight is arguably the aspect of bird behaviour
that offers the most potential for creative
photography. But before you can express your
artistic flair it is important to master the skills
required to capture sharp images of birds.
These days it is not unrealistic to expect to
be able to see feather detail – even individual
barbs – in a flying bird.
At first glance the skills required to capture
birds in flight appear to echo those needed
in sports photography. However, there are
significant differences that make this branch
of wildlife photography more problematic.
Firstly, flying birds tend to move unpredictably
with more three-dimensional challenges than
their human counterparts. Secondly, and more
importantly, their movement through space is
much faster, with blurringly speedy wingbeats.
Back in the days of film, flight photography
was the realm of specialist imagery, or reliant
on luck. Today, however, modern digital
cameras and lenses are up for the challenge.
In most circumstances, a shutter speed of at
least 1/2,500th second is needed to ‘freeze’
movement and in an ideal world 1/4,000th
second is better. Depth of field is also crucial.
Although soaring birds of prey occasionally
present their wings in an even plane of focus,
generally flying birds require the depth of field
associated with an aperture of at least f11
for satisfactory results. A combination of fast
shutter speed and good depth of field may
seem unrealistic at first, but you can use your
ISO settings to achieve this goal.
Right
Feather detail
Birds of prey are fast fliers and so a fast shutter speed and good
depth of field (f11) was needed to capture this kestrel
Above top
Kittiwake at sea
Being pale birds, gulls add another level of complication with the
background changing from blue sea to pale sky in an instant
Above
Predictive photography
Predictive (i.e. best guess) focusing rather than autofocus was
used to capture this flying cuckoo coming in to land
Hone your skills
Improve your chances of capturing the perfect flying bird image by following these six steps
1
Shutter speed Many photographers
shoot using aperture priority, but with
flying birds another option is to use shutter
priority and dictate the shutter speed you
want. In most circumstances 1/3,200th sec
should be enough to ‘freeze’ the wings.
38
2
Select depth of field In some
instances, you may want to use a fixed
aperture to give you a good working depth of
field. With flying birds, f11 is ideal and enough
of the bird will be in focus in order to make a
pleasing result.
3
Auto ISO With some camera bodies you
can dictate both the shutter speed you
want to employ and the lens aperture; correct
exposure of the image is achieved through
the use of variable ISO settings, which the
camera itself determines.
FOCUS ON WILDLIFE
IMAGE
STABILISATION
IS is not necessarily the best
option for flight photography. It
becomes irrelevant when shooting
at speeds needed to capture birds
in flight and tends to delay shutter
release, albeit by a (potentially
crucial) fraction of a second. So
consider turning it off for
flight photography.
4
Autofocus For flight shots, the bird’s
head should be in focus. If you use an
array of focus points it is often the closest
point (wingtip perhaps) that is sharp, not the
head. Try using a single central focus point
and concentrate on getting the head central.
5
Anticipate events In some instances
birds fly in a regular pattern, perhaps
gliding past at a reasonably predictable
distance. To aid your lens’s ability to
autofocus quickly, try manually focusing
using a best-guess estimate of distance.
6
Correct exposure A bird’s underwings
are paler than the rest of the body. If
shooting against a dark backdrop there could
be two stops’ difference for correct exposure
between subject and background. Watch for
highlight burn-out and compensate settings.
39
TECHNIQUES
WORK
AT HOME
In some locations many
animals will make willing
photographic subjects
STUDY
BEHAVIOUR
It may be tempting to raise your
camera at the first sign of your
subject. But investing some time in
first observing its habits
and behaviour can reap rewards.
Gaining knowledge of your subject
and predicting behaviour will
result in more satisfying and
diverse results.
40
Some wildlife photographers enjoy the
challenge of capturing wary subjects in remote
locations. But you do not always need to go to
extreme lengths to take great images: there
are plenty of places where wildlife is indifferent
to people and in photographic terms this
removes one of the hurdles. Seabird colonies
are a good example and there are places in
Britain where you can practically stroke puffins
and Arctic terns. And without straying too far
from home there are urban parks and gardens
where creatures positively seek out human
company – generally for food. So once in a
while make life easy for yourself and hone your
wildlife photographic skills by tackling easily
approachable animals.
Accessible wildlife is often accustomed to
people and some species will pose beautifully
for you. Where you have obliging subjects the
challenge is to be creative and imaginative
with your photography, and to make sure
your lighting is perfect. It is tempting to snap
the easy picture, but take advantage of your
subject’s indifference and aim for candid shots
with atmospheric lighting, perhaps taken
at ground level; or try to capture unusual
behaviour or interaction between species, and
members of their own kind.
Of course, you need to do your homework
when it comes to accessible wildlife to find out
the best times of day and optimum seasons
for photography. For example, there is no point
expecting to photograph the rut in a deer
park in July – October is the month for that.
Remember that even with obliging animals,
fieldcraft and natural history insight will always
help you achieve natural-looking images.
Knowledge of how animals behave and their
posture when relaxed or agitated is important:
knowing when to back off can make all the
difference to your resulting image.
Lastly, do not forget to work with the
weather and turn it to your advantage. Falling
rain can produce amazingly atmospheric
results with large, relatively static subjects
such as deer. And if there is a good covering
of snow, this can turn an otherwise mundane
picture of a common creature into a
wonderfully original image. Furthermore, snow
is reflective and hence great for under-lighting
flying birds. So consider visiting a raptor
feeding station to photograph red kites in a
snowy winter.
FOCUS ON WILDLIFE
Attract garden
subjects
Turn your home and garden
into a wildlife studio and help
conservation at the same time
3
2
Make a pond Drinking birds,
breeding frogs and toads,
and emerging dragonflies are
among the attractions. Avoid
introducing fish: they will deplete
amphibian and invertebrate life.
Flowers for butterflies
Do your research and be
sure to plant the right species
– some do not produce nectar,
or the flower shape may make it
inaccessible for feeding.
4
Stop cutting the grass An
ideal approach for the lazy
gardener is to only cut the grass
once a year in late summer. The
caterpillars of certain butterfly
species feed only on grasses.
5
Foodplants for insects Do some research and grow, or tolerate,
plants that insects feed on. For example, hazel and hawthorn are
food for a wide range of moth caterpillars and make good hedging
species; leave a patch of common nettle and the leaves will be eaten by
various butterfly caterpillars.
6
Compost heaps Recycle
your compostable vegetable
matter and garden cuttings
in a compost heap and you
will attract all manner of
unusual creatures. Invertebrate
life abounds and, heated
by decomposition, they are
favoured incubation sites for
grass snake eggs.
1
Bird feeders Put feeders
out for the birds and you will
greatly increase the opportunities
for photography. To avoid a feeder
setting, strategically placed
branches and perches will soon
be used and even flight shots of
hovering birds are possible.
The exotic at home
If you have space, create
an indoor wildlife studio
where, for example, you can
photograph insects under
controlled conditions. Set
up an aquarium in a cool
spot and you can create a
pond in miniature, or provide
temporary accommodation
for more exotic creatures.
Opposite top
Garden fox
Foxes are regular visitors to many gardens. If
you have access to a cooperative individual then
try something different photographically – for
example, smear a tasty scraping of food onto tree
bark and see what happens
Opposite bottom
Grey squirrel
Visit easy spots and use cooperative subjects
to take your photography to a new level. Utilise
the ability to get close to capture intimate close
encounters or behaviour where your subjects are
indifferent to people
41
TECHNIQUES
GO ONTHE ROAD
Planned carefully, exotic foreign trips can
provide welcome photographic contrast
and a wealth of opportunities
Most wildlife photographers do not have to
stray far from home to find subjects that
will keep them fully occupied and their
memory cards full. And there is an argument
to say that if you cannot find something to
photograph nearby then a lack of imagination
and creativity may be the issue, rather than a
dearth of subjects. However, that philosophy
quickly evaporates when photos of weird
and wonderful creatures and landscapes are
viewed online or drooled over in a magazine.
So, sooner or later most photographers
succumb to the lure of the exotic, and are
tempted to travel to distant locations in
pursuit of wildlife images.
Today it has never been easier to travel
to wildlife-rich destinations and there is a
wealth of information available online and in
books to help you thoroughly plan a trip and
research your subjects. If you have the time
and money, pretty much any part of the world
is now accessible, and individual species can
be targeted photographically with reasonable
certainty that you will be able to point a
camera at them.
In the spirit of adventure and creativity,
many wildlife photographers prefer solitude
“Invest in a sturdy but
lightweight rucksack
that conforms to airline
luggage dimensions”
The ultimate honey buzzard?
For honey buzzard devotees, the
best shots are always going to
be flight shots. Here, this bird
was coming in to land with its
‘undercarriage’ down, skimming
over water that provided subtle
under-lighting through reflection.
3
Upperwing shots The
challenge is to photograph the
upperwings of the honey buzzards
and opportunities sometimes
arise as late-comer birds arrive to
roost in the evening.
42
4
Drinking pools Migration is
thirsty work, especially if you
have migrated from Sub-Saharan
Africa. So pools and reservoirs act
as magnets for the birds and allow
great photographic opportunities.
Project honey buzzard
Honey buzzards migrate through Israel in early May, providing
unrivalled opportunities to capture this notoriously shy bird
1
The classic view You’ll find
honey buzzards in the Eilat
Mountains. One aim is to create
an image that hints at the vast
number of birds involved.
2
5
6
Spectacle of numbers
Honey buzzards migrate in
flocks and upwards of 40,000
migrating birds can be seen.
Successfully depicting the scale of
the migration is a challenge.
Eye-level Low-level migration
occurs between 7-8am, after
which birds begin to soar. The
white mountain slopes provide
under-lighting, like a softbox.
Perched birds Honey
buzzards are wary and perch
in trees before landing to drink.
By anticipating where birds might
land, the judicious use of a hide
allowed this image to be taken.
Above
Below
Top right
Bottom right
Indian rhino
Copper-rumped
hummingbird
Elk in the rain
Lilith little owl
It is tempting to pack up at
the first sign of rain. But the
atmospheric quality that light
drizzle added to this Roosevelt
elk image demonstrates that
shooting in damp weather can
be a positive experience
Sunsets and sunrises are
beloved of photographers.
Knowing the habits of this owl
– it routinely perched on its
favoured rock as the sun went
down – enabled this image to
be taken in the Negev desert
This Indian rhino was
photographed as the sun
was setting in Nepal’s
Chitwan National Park.
The backlighting seems to
emphasise the bulk and
power of the animal
Traditional hummingbird
photography requires multiple
flashes, however, a single flash
(high-speed synch), ambient
light and ISO 1250 was
sufficient for this image
and opt to go it alone when travelling abroad.
There is merit to this approach and the
sense of achievement and uniqueness of the
resulting imagery bears testament to this.
However, for those who prefer to have the
logistics arranged for them, an array of travel
companies are more than willing to make
life easy for wildlife photographers – but at a
price, of course.
Wherever you intend to travel, and by
whatever means, the key is to do your
homework in advance. Find out about the
difficulty or ease of photography in that
location, and the climate, in order to manage
your expectations. Research the likely species
and habitats you will encounter to help you
plan what equipment to take. But these
days, the limiting factor is likely to be what
you can carry on a plane as hand luggage.
Invest in a sturdy but lightweight rucksack
that conforms to prescribed airline luggage
dimensions. And if luggage weight is an issue,
buy a photographer’s waistcoat and stuff
the pockets as full as you can. Do not forget
battery chargers, card readers, plug adaptors
and the like, and take plenty of memory cards
and back-up storage for your images.
HEALTHY
SKEPTICISM
Regarding advice about
where, when and how to
photograph wildlife abroad,
take what you read on the
internet with a pinch of salt
– unless certain the source
is reliable. It’s far better
to talk to photographers
who have already been to
wherever you want to go,
and faced the challenges.
43
TECHNIQUES
EDITWILDLIFE IMAGES
Employ a light-touch approach to picture editing to
keep your pictures looking natural
Given planning and a little bit of luck, wildlife
photographers will often find themselves
working with perfect lighting and cooperative
subjects. In theory the resulting images
should need little editing, apart from perhaps
tweaking the levels and tinkering with the
colour balance. The key with editing wildlife
photographs is to keep it simple and the aim is
to try to keep them looking natural – look out
of the window at real life if in any doubt about
colour accuracy. Working with a calibrated
monitor and a well-lit image, the process
should be to check that the colours are true to
life and that the contrast is optimal, and then
save the image as an archive TIFF file; resist
the urge to reduce noise, sharpen or enhance
the saturation at this stage.
More often than not, however, shooting
conditions are less than ideal and the
photographer has to work with what is
available. This can mean using high ISO
settings to achieve sufficient shutter speeds to
capture movement in low light. Consequences
of high ISO and poor light are the creation
of ‘noise’ in the resulting image, a tendency
for colours to appear undersaturated, and
a reduction in detailed definition. Applied
correctly, attempts to subtly and selectively
remedy these drawbacks in the editing
process can enhance the resulting image. But
in the hands of the inexperienced the results
can be catastrophic. Noise reduction, image
sharpening and oversaturation of images are
some of the most inappropriately used and
misunderstood digital software techniques
employed with images taken under less-thanideal conditions.
Noise is something that photographers
agonise about, but for anyone who has
scrutinised a digitised slide, you will appreciate
that the effect is trivial and seldom visible
when the image is printed. It is worth
remembering that by reducing noise you will
also be degrading definition in your image,
and subsequent attempts to then sharpen
images and increase saturation are only likely
to simply exacerbate the problem further.
And it is also worth remembering that an
image optimised for viewing on a computer
screen will almost certainly not be optimised
for printing. Perhaps the best advice when it
comes to this conundrum is to ignore what
others say and experiment for yourself to see
what works, adjusting copies of an awkward
image in various ways and then printing them
for comparison.
The way you sort and file your archive
images can have a significant bearing on the
ease with which you can subsequently find
and retrieve them. At the simplest level, some
photographers use a system of folders based
on the way wildlife is classified and named.
But a more sophisticated approach is to use
Lightroom to make the process efficient and
help with organisation. Remember to caption
your images consistently and employ useful
keywords including scientific names; consider
using the month, season, weather conditions
and other factors as keywords.
Make natural-looking tweaks
High-ISO images are inevitable at times, but is noise really such an issue?
Straight from
the camera
The camera has handled
the low light and colour
definition well, even 4000
ISO that was necessary
to enable a high enough
shutter speed to capture
this image. Push it too far in
post-production however
and problems could arise
1
Straight from the camera The low light in which this black
bear cub was photographed necessitated an ISO of 4000 to allow
sufficient shutter speed for a sharp image. Fortunately, the camera
has done a pretty good job with the colour and exposure, allowing a
light-touch approach to editing.
2
Adjust the levels
Tweaking the levels will
‘lift’ the image, increasing the
contrast and colour saturation.
But be gentle, as excessive
use soon starts to emphasise
noise in the background greens.
The tree bark will also become
overexposed if you drag the
right-hand slider too far to
the left.
44
3
Save a master
file The image now
accurately represents
the scene as it was at
the time. After cloning
out the twig across the
cub’s nose, this is where
a master file is saved
as a TIFF, providing the
reference point for any
future editing.
FOCUS ON WILDLIFE
4
The effects
of saturation
Low-light images
can suffer from
problematic colour
balance and
applying saturation
across the colour
spectrum can
emphasise the
problem. Here
the greens have
been selected
and boosted.
Conversely, blue
and cyan have been
reduced. Having
a master file to
go back to allows
experimentation.
5
Living with noise Comparing our original
camera file with the adjusted image on
screen at 100% reveals an enhancement in
the definition of the bear’s fur, at the cost of
increasing the noise in the background areas.
Attempts to reduce its effect could leave you
worse off.
6
The road to ruin The top half of our 100% screen view shows a
denoising filter applied and sharpened suitable for print. Note the
mosaic-like squiggles that result. The bottom half is our file without noise
reduction applied.
7
Use layers and selections If you really feel the need to use
denoise and sharpen, experiment with copies of your master
file. Use layers to introduce these filters selectively and retain
detail in vital areas; in this case the cub’s fur and the tree bark.
EMPLOY THE
BEAR ESSENTIALS
8
Soften layer edges Use a soft-edged
eraser to soften the edges of layers to
avoid any obvious boundaries and keep
reviewing your changes as you go. You can
save a working file as layers, but save storage
space by flattening completed images
intended for end use.
Taking a light-touch approach
to editing in post-production
has resulted in this image
retaining its integrity, both in
terms of the faithfulness to the
reality of the original scene,
and the quality of the digital file
45
TECHNIQUES
Kite in flight
Think before you reach
for the Saturation
slider and keep colours
looking natural
1
Calibrate your screen It sounds obvious,
but all computer screens are different and
consistency in colour rendition is an important
consideration when editing digital images.
Ensure that you start by calibrating your
monitor properly, preferably with an external
calibration device.
Soaring high
The camera has done an excellent
job of capturing a relatively faithful
image of this black kite, requiring
minimal post-production work to
bring out the best in it. Levels and
subtle colour adjustments are all
that are required
2
Adjust levels The Levels adjustment
tool is extremely effective for accurate
exposure and contrast adjustments. But
beware the effects of overuse as it also
increases saturation in colour, particularly
blue skies.
3
Saturation slider This slider is a
tempting tool and boosting colours on
screen can prove appealing. But ask yourself,
do the colours in your image reflect real
life? Remember that a global increase in
colour saturation will also increase colours
incorrectly balanced in your image.
By maintaining a close link to the
colours encountered in nature,
and avoiding the temptation to
over-process in certain areas, an
image capable of printing accurately,
while retaining punch and impact, is
produced. You can adjust copies to
suit different applications
46
4
Gamut Warning The image on screen
may have no relation to how it will look
printed. Oversaturation may render certain
colours incapable of being reproduced in
print; this can be assessed using the Gamut
Warning feature.
All feature images © Rob Read
Keep it real
9@ 0::<,: -69
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TECHNIQUES
SHOOT STILL
LIFE LIKE
A PRO
48
SHOOT STILL LIFE LIKE A PRO
Discover techniques to producing
unique and highly creative images of
everyday still life
S
till life photography may not be as
ubiquitous as landscapes or portrait
photography, but it has a lot going for
it as a subject matter to work with.
For a start, it’s virtually limitless, as there are
no real rules about the kind of subject matter
you can capture, and it’s an ideal home studio
pursuit. However, not knowing exactly where
to start with the nuances of composition and
lighting can put some people off, which is
why we’ve asked Kasia Burke to take a look
at the ins and outs of this genre and explain
some of her influences, working practices and
shooting techniques. She also explores some
of the considerations required when working
for a client and gives some editing advice.
Custard creams
Blue and white as the base colour
contrasted well with the beige biscuits. I
wanted to create some chaos around a
classic setup. The cream was the last bit to
add. Once I was happy with the composition
there was no turning back
All feature images © Kasia Burke
49
TECHNIQUES
SHOOT IN NATURAL LIGHTING
Learn essential tips to utilising natural soft light in your still life photography
Shooting still life has an advantage in that
because you’ll mostly be shooting inanimate
objects, you have the luxury of being able
to use long shutter speeds if needed. So,
shooting with natural, soft lighting becomes
really easy. You have the option of shooting
with a closed aperture if you want sharpness
throughout the image, and can maintain a low
ISO (100 or less) for greater sharpness and
bright colours. You’ll need a tripod or at least
a sturdy place to balance your camera, and
shoot with the timer on or a shutter release
to ensure you don’t nudge the camera when
releasing the shutter. The disadvantage of
using the ambient light is that depending
on the weather, the colour temperature will
change from project to project or even within
the same shoot. If you want all your imagery to
look the same, you’ll need to take care of both
the colour balance in-camera and how you
process your imagery afterwards.
Direct sunlight can create dramatic effects
that look great especially when converted to
high-contrast monochrome. Shady lighting can
give a softer, more natural image combined
with a wide-open aperture for a shallow depth
of field, which can create some really dreamy
effects focusing in on very particular areas of
the shot whilst blurring out backgrounds.
When planning a still life shoot in daylight
you’ll need to make note of the direction of the
sun at your location, including the time of day
and year, which will dictate when your shoot
happens. If shooting outdoors keep an eye on
the weather, and be prepared for anything.
Diffusers, reflectors and flags are really
useful, and if you are happy to mix your
lighting then carry a speedlight with you to
fill in shadows or bounce light off walls and
ceilings. Use a coloured gel to balance out the
flash light with the ambient light.
Composition and setup doesn’t always need
to be contrived. Some of my favourite still life
images are of nature in situ. With a clever bit
of post-processing and retouching you can
isolate your subject either by darkening the
background or cutting out the subject from
its environment.
1
2
3
4
5
6
Set up Even with a small space to work
in simple, clean natural lighting can be
possible. This test shot uses the light from
the bay window on the other side of the
studio, which bounces off the white wall and
ceiling to give me plenty of light.
Initial tweaks I open my selected
images in Camera Raw and make some
adjustments. I bring down the highlights and
up the detail in the shadows. A bit of clarity
helps the image pop. Then I use Photoshop
for any final adjustments.
50
Focus and framing I have my back
function button set up as my focus. With
automatic focus I use single-shot mode.
Once I am happy with my composition and
framing I move my focal point to the part of
the image I want sharpest.
Further detail In Photoshop I open up
a Levels layer where I can lighten the
midtones if needed and bring down the
blacks further. This helps to make a punchier
but realistic image. The proof is always in the
final print so do some test prints to check.
Handheld at
f3.5 for 1/200th
of a second to
create a soft
focus with
crisp detail
Shoot and check I like to check the
information on the back of the camera
after taking my shot. I shoot everything as
standard and neutral so any adjustments
can be made in post-processing. I prefer to
achieve contrast through lighting control.
The final look I darkened parts of the
background using Photoshop’s Burn Tool
and converted the image to greyscale for
enhanced drama and elegance. The shallow
depth of field with the black and white adds
an artistic yet simplistic quality to the image.
SHOOT STILL LIFE LIKE A PRO
Above
Stillness
I used the shady light
through glass doors on
location for this cream tea
shoot for Magpie Vintage
Crockery Hire company. With
my camera set up on a tripod
I could shoot at f22 ISO 125
for a 1.3 second exposure to
achieve sharpness
Right
Atmospheric
I spotted this dramatic natural
light coming through a window
whilst on set. I switched off
the studio lights and I took
my shot set up on a tripod
at 1/80th second, with the
ISO set at 160 to capture the
atmosphere the light created
Far right
Texture
This bloom was shot with the
camera handheld from directly
above with my 24-70mm f2.8
Nikon lens. The aperture was
wide open at f2.8 to create a
soft image with the camera set
at ISO 400. I love the effect this
has created with the soft petals
51
TECHNIQUES
UTILISE STUDIO LIGHTING
Take control of your lighting with a creative studio setup
The main advantage of using studio lighting
for still life photography is the control. Using
just a basic two-head kit and a small array of
diffusers it is possible to create a wide variety
of looks and styles. Softboxes are great to give
a soft but directional and controlled amount of
light to your subject.
A backlight is essential for most shoots to
really make an image pop, but this can also
be done by reflecting back the key light. I like
to have my key light coming from behind and
then reflect back onto my subject from the
front to create a soft fill with subtle tones and
detail. Umbrellas are great for lighting up the
52
whole scene with huge bursts of soft lighting,
or for more control you could use a snoot to
pinpoint specific areas of the composition to
be lit, which is great for backlighting too.
I like to use a grid attached to a beauty
dish as my key light, which gives me the
Old Masters’ low-key lighting I desire. If you
are new to studio lighting then take time to
experiment. Choose a few simple objects and
just play with the lights and composition. Try
all angles and directions and see what you like
and whether it creates the mood you are after.
Remember there is no right or wrong when
you are being creative. Research styles by
looking at still life paintings and photography
and learn techniques from the best.
Shooting commercially can be very different.
More often than not I will be asked to shoot
sharp, clean images onto white for simple
product photography for catalogues and
online shops. There are many ways this can be
done, but I like to use a white box tent placed
on top of a light box table. I can light the tent
from underneath, behind, from the sides or
from above with the studio heads. Set up the
camera on a tripod to make sure that every
similar product in the shoot is shot at the
same angle and height.
Left
Bottom
Below
Pumpkin
Cooking apples
Snails in glass
With a studio lighting
setup I can control the
lighting exactly how
I want, and this way
I will know that the
colour balance and
power will be the same
throughout a shoot if I
want it to be
I have set my ISO to
125. This gives me true
colour replication and
clarity. This test shot
was lit using one head
with a honeycomb
grid from behind and
a silver reflector in the
opposite corner
Shooting still life
doesn’t always mean
inanimate objects. It
took a while to wake up
these garden snails,
but the results were
spectacular. Star
performers, who’d
have known?
SHOOT STILL LIFE LIKE A PRO
Wilted flowers in vase
Take full control of lighting to produce an effective, moody atmosphere
1
2
Light direction control When using a
black background, make sure the light
does not cast across the backdrop, otherwise
it will appear grey. A dark background creates
atmosphere and allows focus on the subject.
Low settings in small spaces Here I
am using an Elinchrom lighting kit. I keep
the charge output at its lowest setting, which
on this head is number 2. This gives me a
softer light, useful for smaller studios.
3
White balance When working in the
studio I set the white balance in-camera
to Flash, which gives me an accurate colour
representation. I can always change it later in
Camera Raw if I want it warmer or colder.
I shot this at f6.3 to
ensure the background
was blurred out but to
maintain sharpness
throughout the flower
bouquet. Wilting flowers
have more interest
and work well with the
moody lighting
4
Simple and effective This example of
a studio setup is as simple as it needs
to be. Low-key lighting doesn’t require too
much fuss. Just keep it simple and clean for
maximum effect.
5
Crop to preference You can crop in
Camera Raw or Photoshop, but before
doing so make sure you make a duplicate
of the image as a backup. I mostly shoot in
landscape but have the final crop in mind.
6
High-resolution imaging Making initial
tweaks in Camera Raw is very simple and
working from the RAW file means that the
image will retain its full quality. Images can be
saved as a new JPEG file straight from RAW.
53
TECHNIQUES
CREATE FOR
ACLIENT
Ensure 100 per cent
client satisfaction in a
professional project
When shooting for a client the first thing to
do is to get a feel for their business and the
message that they want to purvey. Working
with smaller companies or individuals often
means dealing with the owner directly. A
client will normally approach me because they
have seen my work and would like something
in my style, but not always, so it is important
to make sure that their requirements are fully
understood beforehand.
If they have images in mind that are not
your own, then it’s a good idea to put together
a mood board or a selection of images to
reference to. Once a style is established
a client may then leave the rest to the
photographer. This entails a huge element
of trust on both parts, so even when a client
gives you free reign it is advisable to put a
plan or sketch of the final images together
for them to approve. On the other spectrum
a client can be extremely controlling and may
want to be involved with every process. They
may have their own stylists or designers, in
which case you will need to be prepared to
work with a team of people that are not your
usual go-to specialists.
The photoshoot here was for an artist
named Humna Mustafa; she came to me
because she had seen my work and wanted
to have images of her kitchenware in a
lifestyle setting with an arty edge. We talked
extensively about her passion for her own
designs and in turn this really inspired my
own work. As a client she was very relaxed
and trusted me to create something beautiful
and unique for her collection.
After any shoot I like to do my own pre-edit
using the star function in Photoshop Bridge.
Open the folder in Bridge and do a quick one
star for all images, leaving out test shots,
multiples or other shots that just don’t meet
the customer brief. Then with the star filter
selected I would either let the client look
through the images and allow them to select
their preferred images by my side, or I would
do that on my own on their behalf. Again
this comes with an element of trust between
photographer and client. Depending on the
shoot this could go to 3, 4 or 5 stars.
Once the final images have been selected
I then open these in Adobe Camera Raw for
some post-processing and then some final
adjustments or retouching over in Photoshop.
54
Right
Beetroot soup
Adding hidden smoke from an incense cone
behind the soup bowl gives the effect of hot
food, making the shoot more appetising
Below
Pomegranate with bowls
Using props with complementary
colours helps to bring the
shoot together
Bottom
Food cascade
I had an idea of the cascading food with the
bowls central. I wanted it to look make-believe
but natural in arrangement
SHOOT STILL LIFE LIKE A PRO
Breakfast still life
Shoot an appetising scene full of colour
BEFORE
1
Bespoke backgrounds
I had discussed the look and feel of the
shoot beforehand and made a bespoke
background for the look I was going for.
2
Sharpness I used my 50mm lens on my
Nikon shot at ISO 100 for real sharpness
throughout the image at f13. This allowed the
viewer to take in the whole image in one look.
3
4
5
Camera Raw adjustments Bring out
detail in the shadows, bring down blownout highlights and bring back the blacks. Here
I pushed up the clarity and vibrance.
Check focus Zoom in completely on
the LCD to check the focus. I’d always
check on the computer before anyway, but a
quick check in-camera helps.
Fine-tune In Photoshop adjust the levels.
Make sure your highlights do not get
blown out. Aim to maintain as much detail as
you can.
AFTER
6
Curves If I feel the image is still a little too
dark and could do with some brightening
I use the Curves in Photoshop to give the
image a final lift.
Make a bit of mess
when shooting food, as
it makes it look more
believable. The result
is more interesting and
less sterile
55
TECHNIQUES
BE CREATIVE
Understand some of the key influences and
concepts behind these unique still life shots
My still life work is influenced by the style of
Old Master paintings from the 17th Century
whose illuminations I replicate through a very
controlled low-key lighting. I keep it simple,
although this doesn’t necessarily mean easy.
Where a painter can set up a composition
and tailor the lighting as they desire, with
photography the lighting needs to be cast in
exactly the right place to achieve the desired
effect. Adjustments can be made in postprocessing but I believe in getting it right incamera initially so that hardly any work in post
is needed at all.
I mostly use flash studio lighting which
means I have control over the light, rather than
relying on available light which could differ
throughout the day in colour temperature
and strength. I use flash lighting which allows
fruit, flowers or other perishable items to stay
fresher rather than under the hot lamps of
continuous lighting.
I’d usually have plenty of props to
accessorise a composition, to tie in colour
or to create the story, but in this project the
56
vegetables speak for themselves, and as
always sometimes less is more.
As a majority of the subjects in my own
projects or commissioned work tend to be
around food I have many shelves stacked with
props: jugs, cups, bottles, bowls and an array
of utensils, tools and other curious objects.
Occasionally the props become the subject.
I have a penchant for bric-a-brac and love
browsing the charity shops or flea markets to
find little treasures that could inspire a whole
shoot or be the perfect accessory to a shoot
I already have in mind. It is always better to
have enough props and multiples of your
subject as possible. You just never know what
might be needed and once in the middle of
shooting it is not the time to realise you are
missing something. The more preparation
time spent in advance the better, but it also
pays to be flexible with your ideas, as some
things just don’t work out exactly as planned.
If you are working for a client then a test shoot
is advisable before any promises are made if
you are not entirely sure a concept will work.
Below
Top and above
Still life in
yellow
The Gourd
I like to expose
beauty where none
is normally noticed
or recognised
I use a honeycomb grid to control the
direction of the lighting. Here, placing the
gnarled nature of the gourd against the
minimalist plank of old wood highlights the
knobbly nature of its outer skin
SHOOT STILL LIFE LIKE A PRO
Squash
Get creative with simple everyday
objects for striking results
1
Avoid hot spots Keep the ISO low; 100 or
125 is good. Shooting in this way with my
50mm lens gives me a sharp image at f16 or
near to. Keep the lighting as low as possible
and not too close to avoid hot spots.
I turned this image upside down
back to the position the subject grew
in. I didn’t plan this prior to shooting
in the studio but saw it in postprocessing and thought it looked
more interesting that way up
2
Directional lighting A honeycomb grid
over a beauty dish gives just enough light
to cover the setup whilst painting the dark
background untouched by the light. It also
allows enough light to spill over for reflecting
back onto the subject.
3
Check the histogram Viewing the
images in the back of the camera and
making a note of the shape of the histogram
gives a good indication that there are the
right proportion of highlights, shadows and
midtones as expected.
“In this project the vegetables speak for
themselves, and sometimes less is more”
4
Steady shooting To ensure that the
image is not disturbed when pressing the
shutter release either use a cable release or
set the camera on a two-second timer. That
way you won’t need to touch the camera at
the point of shooting, but make sure your
tripod is steady anyway.
5
Change the canvas size With some
images I like to create a larger canvas
for it in Photoshop. If you used a black
background this is really easy to do, simply
use the paint bucket to fill the extra canvas.
Make sure you also blend the edges where
it’s needed.
6
Crop the final image Once you’ve
made the larger canvas you can then
crop it to whichever dimension you prefer
for the look you are after. Some images look
great in a square format and this is a popular
choice. Frames are easy to buy off the shelf
in this format nowadays.
57
TECHNIQUES
10 STILLLIFE ESSENTIALS
Follow these tips to improve your own images
IMPACT
Dark background for
greater impact
FOCUS
Manual focusing on
crab even though
the whole image is
sharp at f16
STABILITY
Use a tripod to frame
the shot and compose
within that frame
EDITING
Increase vibrancy
in post-production
LOW ISO
Shoot using a slow
ISO, in this case 160,
for crisp colour and
sharpness throughout
EXPOSURE
Soft reflected light
to fill shadows at
the front
58
SHOOT STILL LIFE LIKE A PRO
GRID
Controlled backlight
using honeycomb grid
END PRODUCT
Think about the image
as a final print and how
it will look framed.
This piece had a
chunky gold frame in
mind before creation
RAW
Shoot RAW
for post
adjustments
TELL A STORY
Do this through props
and composition
59
TECHNIQUES
EDITSTILLLIFE
Refine your photography with subtle yet effective digital
imaging techniques
To maintain high-end imagery it’s advisable to
shoot in RAW, so that any adjustments made
in post will retain their quality. Saying this, it is
better to get everything as close as possible to
the final result desired in-camera so that postprocessing is minimal. Unless of course you
are looking for a special effect, in which case
the way you shoot will be pre-emptive to the
effect you are looking for in post. It is a good
idea to have a vision of your final image, as this
way you are going in with the knowledge that
certain aspects will be edited for effect, rather
than needing to edit mistakes.
Best practice is to back up all your RAW
files straight away. I do this on an external
hard drive, but you can back up to a cloud if
you prefer. Once I’ve selected the images I
want to work with I’d make a copy of the RAW
image, before I open my file in Camera Raw
where I’d make my first adjustments. I tend to
bring down the highlights and push up detail
in the shadows. I’d then recoup my blacks and
maybe increase the clarity marginally. The
changes are slight but make a difference.
I’d then open up the image in Photoshop for
some fine-tuning. Ultimately I want to show
my images in print and I use a specialist art
printer that I have worked with for a few years
now. The choice of paper will also have an
important impact on the final image, and I still
get excited every time I see my images in print.
Top right
Right
Spilt milk
Pigeon with
potatoes
Creating a scene with
mess and chaos helps to
enrich the story. This piece
reflects my own interest in
the natural and wonderful
chaos of life
Shooting death alongside
the normality of potatoes
with soft lighting creates
an image of calm in an
otherwise distasteful scene
Abandonment
Fine-tune your image in post with Photoshop
BEFORE
The image is shot in-camera with as much detail as possible.
Highlight and shadow control is in the studio lighting. I then
concentrate on the composition and story behind it. In my mind
I know how the image will look after post-processing.
1
Select Once I’ve uploaded
all RAW images I will go
through the star system in
Photoshop Bridge to select
the images I want to process.
3
2
Shadow tweaks In this
Duplicate Before opening
image I had a lot of dark
the first file I want to
shadowy areas, so I have
start work on, I will make a
lightened these by moving the
duplicate of the image as an
Shadows dial to the right.
easy-access backup.
AFTER
4
Tidying In Photoshop
I used the Clone tool
to copy nearby areas over
any unwanted bits. Change
the size and strength of
the tool to fit the area.
60
5
Final adjustments
The Levels function will
lift the image and make
my blacks darker. Take
care not to over-push the
highlights and lose detail.
6
History tab With this
tab take a snapshot of
every stage when you feel
satisfied and you can jump
back to that or compare
shots at different stages.
The final image processed is punchy and maintains the detail as it was shot.
With a bit of clone magic the photograph is complete. The proof is then in
the print to follow. Build a relationship with a professional printer so that they
know what you want your images to look like.
TECHNIQUES
62
Urban character
Using differential shooting
and processing skills to
tightly control each aspect
of a scene will ensure the
photographer can accurately
capture the atmosphere of
architectural subjects
© Andrew Kirby
MASTER ARTISTIC
URBAN
ARCHITECTURE
Learn to find and photograph engaging subjects and
post-process for your best architectural studies
A
rchitecture is a very popular, yet
specialised area of photography.
This is likely due to the innately
artistic nature of building design
itself – older structures convey the grandeur
of times past, while newly built, modern
structures show the progressive nature of
current trends and construction technologies.
Much like human portraiture, every building
has a character that can be challenging to
accurately capture in an image. Exploring the
nature and form of a structure appeals to our
creative tastes as photographers and allows
us to experiment with a seemingly unlimited
number of novel and exciting compositional
approaches. The key challenges of this genre
are capturing a flattering perspective that
accurately depicts the shape and design,
and showing or controlling the context of the
building’s environment. Additionally, finding
unique angles and dealing with distractions
within the frame can challenge our artistic
abilities. Beyond this, there are the many legal
considerations we must keep in mind – it is
easy to forget that buildings are property and
we must take care not to infringe the rights
or privacy of the owners. All of these aspects
may make urban photography seem like a
complex and potentially intimidating area
to tackle. However, with some forethought,
a creative skill set and an understanding of
what we are entitled to shoot, it is possible to
exploit the endless opportunities for stunning
and dramatic imagery that they present to us.
63
TECHNIQUES
ADAPT FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
No one photographic approach suits all building styles. Adjust your shooting
style to exploit architectural variety
building materials reflect very little light
back towards the camera, resulting in the
subject appearing dull when lit from the front
and easily underexposed with backlighting.
Warm-coloured stone can also introduce white
balance problems, by confusing auto-WB
systems into making unsightly cyan or green
colour casts. To combat exposure issues,
take a meter reading from a neutral midtone
(such as grey), and use +2/3EV exposure
compensation to lift the shadows, while
simultaneously neutralising unexpected colour
shifts. Using a preset WB or manual colour
temperature also offers more predictable
colour control.
When shooting modern structures that use
large amounts of glass in their construction,
be prepared to adjust camera settings
to compensate for the highly reflective
properties. Bright ‘hotspots’ are common,
especially under midday sun, so use -1EV
approximately to avoid loss of highlight detail.
Compose so that the sun is not directly visible
in a reflection, to make exposure calculation
manageable. Contemporary designs use
more curves and sinuous lines than pre-20th
Century architecture, so try wider framing
to emphasise the ‘direction’ of the design
philosophy – the leading lines.
64
Know your rights
Understand the laws surrounding structural photography, so you can be
confident that your images are usable
Photographers are often accosted by
security for innocently taking images in
unrestricted areas, so it is advisable that
you know what you are entitled to. If you
are standing on a public pavement or
street corner, you can shoot photos of
public and private buildings unhindered.
Publication of images is often limited to
personal use, so a property release may
be necessary for commercial distribution.
If within a building or on indicated private
property, permission from the owner
may be required, so expect potential
intervention from representatives.
Public or private?
If you are unsure if a location is on public or private land, do your research and contact nearby owners or the local council to
make enquiries. You are then prepared to defend your rights
© Peter Fenech
“The age of the
structure influences
how to approach
the subject”
© Pasquale Di Pilato
When you arrive on location in any major
urban area, it is possible to feel overwhelmed
by the vast array of engaging subjects for our
attention and study. Knowing where to start
and how best to capture the atmosphere and
tone of a city can seem like an impossible task.
A common strategy adopted by beginners
is to try and capture everything, all at once,
often employing very wide-angle lenses and
creating extensive compositions. This is likely
a mistake, as the dense levels of detail can
quickly swamp an image, and reduce the
overall dramatic effect. One style does not fit
every building type and design.
The age of the structure has a great
influence on how the photographer should
approach the subject. Old buildings frequently
feature a large amount of coloured, textured
stone, with an often angular profile. These
© Pasquale Di Pilato
MASTER ARTISTIC ARCHITECTURE
Above
Elaborate
detail
Where there are
many textures and
details, compose
in areas that are
smoother and less
populated. These
break up the frame
and add contrasting
elements, providing
comfortable balance
and depth
Right
Modern
repetition
Contemporary
buildings often
feature repeating
patterns, with lots
of horizontal and
vertical lines. To
make the most
of the symmetry
ensure the camera
is exactly parallel to
the subject
Left top
Older buildings often
feature colourful
facades or elaborate
masonry. Look for
contrasting colours
or shapes to break
up the pattern
and give the eye
something to rest on
65
© Pasquale Di Pilato
Rustic colour
TECHNIQUES
FIND UNIQUE ANGLES
Look for unusual compositions to shoot engaging, eye-catching images
Composition can make or break any
image, but it is even more of an important
consideration when attempting to capture
photographs in ‘busy’ environments. Cities and
other built-up urban areas are usually densely
populated, with both people and buildings,
making it challenging for the
photographer to correctly isolate
a single subject on which viewers
can concentrate. Furthermore,
buildings themselves often
feature a great amount of detail
and engaging design elements,
which need to be arranged with
some thought if the final image is
to have the desired impact.
One of the key aspects that may let an
architectural image down is the angle from
which the structure is shot. If a photo shows
a building at eye-level, it is simply recreating
a scene anybody could view with their own
eyes, stripping away the potential intrigue. In
addition, selecting a perspective on a building
that merely shows it from one well-known
angle is far from creative and wastes the
potential demonstrated by all details that are
out of shot. Although many have an iconic
facade that is instantly recognisable, it is good
photographic practice to walk around and
explore new angles, before setting up a tripod.
Try changing camera height, to exaggerate
the vibrant tone of the environment is clear to
viewers. This can be lost if the incorrect lens
focal length is used – too wide and details
seem overly distant, too long and points of
interest may be excluded.
Vary lens choice to intentionally experiment
with placing a building or
architectural design in or out
of context, by showing more
or less of the surroundings. An
entirely different theme can be
conveyed by simply zooming in
a few millimetres. ‘Iconic’ is a
theme that can add sales value
to your images, or remove it
almost entirely – be sure to use
your artistic experience to create unique views
of widely viewed subjects, to utilise all of the
potential a location offers.
© Pasquale Di Pilato
“If a photo shows a building at
eye-level, it is simply recreating a
scene anybody could view with
their own eyes”
66
or hide low-level foreground detail. Then
experiment with tilting your camera up or
down, to see how perspective is altered and
how this impacts depth. This can also help
with compositional balance, by excluding the
often-busy lower half of the frame, which
contains people, cars and street furniture, to
produce a bottom-heavy feel. Cityscapes really
benefit from an immersive atmosphere, where
Below
Tunnel vision
Extreme angles play with the viewer’s perception of
depth. In this image the strong colour and contrast
grab attention, while the lack of context attracts
repeat views
MASTER ARTISTIC ARCHITECTURE
Master creative framing
Architectural photographer Andrew Kirby (www.mrkirby.photography)
explains his thought process for engaging compositions
1
Find an interesting location This is
the easy part. Exciting architecture is
everywhere, and as a photographer it’s a
great challenge to find a unique angle on
something that many people may not initially
find interesting.
2
Search for engaging angles Once
you’ve found your subject, try to find
an angle that catches your eye. An ordinary
building can look incredibly dramatic when
you get close and look up. This vantage point
will create leading lines and vanishing points.
AFTER
Dynamic depth
The reflection of the building creates a
unique image, enhanced by the angle of
the opposite building. The street where this
building is located is unremarkable – it’s
no more than a service alley. Hundreds of
people will walk this street and never notice
the scene above them
3
Create a clean image You’ll want a
clean and sharp image, so I recommend
you reduce the shutter speed and ISO
as much as possible. If handheld, image
stabilisation will help. Alternatively, you could
use a tripod, although I find tripods hinder
the tiny adjustments you’ll need to make.
© Andrew Kirby
4
Stop down to f8 You’ll want as much
of the frame in focus as possible.
f8 should be adequate, as it’s often the
sharpest aperture on many lenses and will
allow handheld shots in good light.
5
Wide angle for drama To add scale
and create the visual impact of the
building looming over you, use a wide angle.
This will create a dramatic feel to the photo
while also increasing the depth of focus.
6
Shoot and review Finding symmetry
and leading lines can be a great place to
start. However, you’ll want to take your time
to compose the image. Don’t be afraid to
take multiple shots with small adjustments.
67
TECHNIQUES
CREATE ARTISTIC EXPOSURES
There is a great deal of movement in urban
locations. From traffic speeding through busy
road intersections, to commuters flowing
along pavements during the morning rush
hour, cities are full of energy. It is therefore
vital that we consider how this will appear in
our images and take control of exposure, to
ensure the dynamism of our subject shows
through. Ultra-short shutter speeds won’t
often find a place in an architectural and
cityscape photographer’s arsenal, since the
frozen movement these generate produces
unnaturally static compositions. Long
exposures can be used for a multitude of
purposes. They can be employed to soften
skies for contrast against sharp structural
detail, and to produce a soft light quality that
creates a painterly style. This balances the
distribution of detail throughout the frame.
Exposures of several minutes will also help
to minimise distracting elements by removing
people and traffic, providing they are not
stationary for extended periods. Semi-slow
shutter speeds, in the region of two to three
seconds, are best for occasions where you
want motion to be visible. Try this in places
where people, vehicles and clouds are widely
spaced, to give them room to move through
the frame and remain discrete. Use 30-second
exposures and above to capture traffic trails
or to apply a silky look to skies, for a neutral
backdrop to closer-cropped studies.
The main exposure challenge you will face
in a city is the extreme range of contrast.
The dynamic range of current cameras is
excellent, but is not wide enough to maintain
detail in the brightest highlights and deepest
shadows. Moreover, it is mostly impossible to
use an graduated neutral density filter, without
artificially darkening the tops of foreground
buildings. Software blending options are the
best choice in these cases, as full control
over localised exposure problems is possible.
However, it is then important to consider the
method of blending, to avoid the halo effects
and noise exaggeration that is synonymous
with conventional HDR processing. Intelligent
exposure choice can ensure the effective
application of creative technique and
fundamental tonal management.
© Andrew Kirby
Use exposure wisely to capture the energetic atmosphere of a city
Above
Soft tones
By extending the shutter speed, sometimes to
several seconds, lighting can take a soft quality
under diffused lighting. A longer exposure will also
soften detail in the sky, creating a pleasant and
neutral background
Long-exposure workflows
Sharon Tenenbaum (sharontenenbaum.com) explains her steps for perfect long-exposure cityscapes
AFTER
Clear and colour-balanced
Using careful composition at the shooting
stage and precise post-processing, images
with a neutral colour balance and ideal
but natural reflections can be produced.
Long exposures are a classic way to add
dynamism to a cityscape
© Sharon Tenenbaum
68
MASTER ARTISTIC ARCHITECTURE
Tourist tranquillity
© Peter Fenech
Using an exposure of several seconds is an
effective method of removing people from
usually busy locations. As long as they do not
remain stationary for too much of the exposure,
most figures will not be recorded
1
Set up and shoot Compose the skyline
to maximise geometric harmony. In this
case symmetry was an obvious choice. I was
using B+W ND filters (a 10 and a 3 stacked),
which resulted in a slight reddish colour cast.
2
Open RAW file Architectural subject
matter celebrates lines, form, shape and
texture. Therefore, increasing clarity and
adjusting contrast are fundamental steps
before taking the image into Photoshop.
3
4
5
6
Create reflections Reflections in
water add an element of balance and
symmetry. I add a reflection by duplicating
the pixel layer, selecting the skyline and
flipping the layer vertically.
Blur the reflection Reduce the opacity.
Then go to Filter>Blur>Motion Blur,
choose 90° for the Angle box and play with
the Distance slider. Go back to your skyline
and mask areas you don’t want blurred.
Brighten the water The first step is to
apply the Lens Correction filter. I opt for
an exposure to achieve the desired sky and
then brighten up the water with a White to
Transparent Gradient adjustment layer.
Work with colour I chose to go with
subtle colour tones for this capture,
using Levels and Curves, as I wanted the
story to be about the form and balance of
the image.
69
TECHNIQUES
Shoot without tripod support
It’s not always possible to set up tripods, for security and practicality, so learn to work handheld
1
Adopt correct stance It is essential
that you minimise vibrations, to maintain
sharpness. Hold the camera close to your
body, tuck in your arms and support the
lens with your other hand for stability.
2
Use a monopod Monopods are
often allowed in places where tripods
are prohibited. Use a self-timer to avoid
pressing the shutter button, and apply
downward pressure on the monopod.
3
4
5
6
Set minimum shutter speed Another
safeguard is to set a minimum shutter
speed, so you can be confident that the
shutter speed will never fall beyond that at
which you are able to hold the camera still.
Shoot in burst mode Set your camera
to continuous shooting mode and fire
bursts of frames, instead of single images.
This increases the possibility of capturing a
perfectly sharp frame.
ISO 1600 Many cityscape images
can be spoiled by the shutter speed
dropping unexpectedly as the photographer
moves into different lighting. Set ISO 1600
to guarantee there is enough shutter speed.
Use the viewfinder Hold the camera
close to your body to increase the
steadiness of your grip. Show preference
to the viewfinder as this will keep the setup
close to your person in the ideal posture.
AFTER
Unaided stability
The administrators of many
well-known landmarks do not
permit the use of tripods. In lowlight conditions, such as in this
sunrise image, knowing alternative
methods of keeping your camera
steady is of huge benefit – allowing
you to shoot sharp images in the
most desirable shooting spots
70
© Pasquale Di Pilato
MASTER ARTISTIC ARCHITECTURE
WORK WITH LIGHT
Alter your style for each time of day and embrace lighting characteristics
One of the great qualities of urban
environments is that the densely populated
scenes very easily take on new appearances
as the light changes, either reflecting or
absorbing colour and tone from the sky. In
modern cities, the predominance of glass
results in light ‘bouncing’ between buildings,
altering its softness and hue. It is possible
to shoot the same scene at
sunrise, midday and sunset
and produce an almost entirely
unique atmosphere. Meanwhile,
after dark, a city can adopt an
otherworldly style as the artificial
light from within buildings
produces vibrant contrast against
the low-light surroundings.
However, each lighting condition presents its
own set of exposure challenges, requiring the
photographer to recognise where problems
may arise and adapt their composition and
settings to compensate.
At dawn the biggest advantage is the
frequent lack of traffic and people – this
is generally when city streets are at their
quietest. There is also good colour contrast,
with plenty of cool and warm colours
present in the sky to blend with or stand
out from the artificial street and interior
lights. Unfortunately you may also find many
building lights are not on in these early hours,
presenting backlighting challenges, resulting
in loss of shadow detail. A potential solution is
to use the reflective properties of modern
building materials. The strong lighting can
introduce exposure and over-polarisation
difficulties, while the top-down light often
makes it difficult to pick out texture. Consider
using deep contrast to produce punchy
monochrome images and use the extended
Low ISO setting on your camera to maximise
shadow detail, while being
mindful of highlight loss.
When it comes to shooting at
night, the black sky can create
a bottom-heavy composition,
with little to ‘weigh’ down the
top area. Try to compose out as
much negative space as possible
and wait for the clouds to pick up
the colours of the city lights, for better balance
in the frame.
“We can shoot with the rising
sun behind us to pick out surface
detail and reflections”
to use this to our advantage and intentionally
underexpose foreground detail to generate
silhouette shapes, highlighting the outline of
iconic skylines. Alternatively we can shoot with
the rising sun behind us to pick out surface
detail and reflections.
At midday we experience good contrast,
deep blue skies and excellent opportunities
Above
Ideal night lighting
Many professional ‘night-time’ images are actually shot
just before dark, when some sky colour is retained.
Alternatively, shoot when some clouds are present to
adopt colour
71
TECHNIQUES
True to life
The majority of the key editing steps
performed on architectural images
will be standard colour, sharpness
and perspective adjustments. Be
confident these have not impacted
the integrity of your work
© Pasquale Di Pilato
Experiment with black and white
Get more from shape and form using DxO FilmPack 5 to add monochrome drama
1
Pre-process RAW While DxO FilmPack is
able to read most proprietary RAW files,
it is still advisable to make essential tweaks
in your RAW editor. Make cropping decisions,
sharpen and apply lens corrections.
2
Open in editor Locate the image, rightclick and choose Open. This will reveal an
editor window, at the right side of which is a
selection of presets. Browse until you find an
appropriate style and click on the preset.
3
4
5
6
Work with grain DxO FilmPack can
recreate the look of film types, including
the grain and texture of various emulsions. If
your image has noise in flat tones, this can
look more intentional with a light application.
72
Adjust contrast Under Development
you can use simplified Contrast and
Exposure sliders. Alternatively, the Tone
Curve can be used to target specific tones
and alter the RGB mix, for bespoke tweaks.
Modify settings Click the slider icon
next to Modify. Adjust brightness, colour
bias and contrast, to balance highlights and
shadows. Use the straighten tools to make
final adjustments to composition.
Experiment with effects panel For
handheld images that are lacking in
absolute sharpness, adding a light Paper
grain can hide blurring. Choose a colour tone
from the menu to emulate film processing.
MASTER ARTISTIC ARCHITECTURE
PERFORM CREATIVE EDITING
Use the many post-processing tools available for imaginative, unique styles
Due to the highly graphic properties of
many architectural images, these subjects
lend themselves to a broad spectrum of
experimental processing techniques. Whether
this involves introducing unnatural colour
casts and split toning, or removing colour
completely for black and white photographs,
it helps to be aware of the options available to
you and when each will work best.
The use of post-processing software is
subject to ongoing scrutiny
and is potentially controversial,
especially where it involves
making changes to well-known
scenes. In urban photography
we have to be extra vigilant
that we do not compromise
the integrity of our shots to
the extent that they are unusable. This is
especially applicable when the end goal is
to publish files on a commercial basis. It
is essential that we balance creativity with
truthfulness. The key corrections that are
likely to be applied regularly to architectural
shots should be free from these constraints.
These surround modifications to exposure,
colour and sharpness, to improve the overall
image quality and impact. While there may
be some degree of variance, the professional
photographers’ processing workflow usually
follows a recognisable schedule.
Starting with RAW processing software,
the highlight and shadow control tools in
these applications are used to balance the
tonal range of the image, to produce a file
essential retouching (such as removal of dust
spots or, if necessary, removal of telephone
cables and other distracting elements) it is
most effective to move into Photoshop, or an
equivalent application. Once here, work on
effects and stylising can begin. Deciding on
your approach early on will minimise the need
to back-track or save multiple versions of your
image, which can be necessary if late-stage
editing introduces blown highlights or image
noise for example. Two main
editing routes are to focus on
colour, contrast and tone or to
place more emphasis on detail
and texture. While this choice
may be influenced by the lighting
conditions present at the time of
shooting, aligning or contrasting
your editing approach will give differing ‘looks’.
Black and white processing tends to suit
scenes that already contain a good degree
of contrast, and while this can accentuate
texture, it is equally effective where deep tones
are deemed more desirable than absolute
detail. Forward thinking will maximise success.
“In urban photography we have
to be vigilant to not compromise
the integrity of our shots”
with good amounts of information in the
brightest and darkest areas. Colour is most
frequently balanced at this stage too, due to
the freedom of white balance choice that the
RAW format provides. Lens aberrations and
perspective distortions are also best corrected
here, being applied non-destructively. For
AFTER
Graphic monochrome
The colour image had several unappealing
colour clashes and as such the impact
was degraded. By converting to black and
white, additional contrast could be added
to create a graphic, abstract composition
with a focus on patterns and shapes. The
processing style matches the modern
building design
© Peter Fenech
73
TECHNIQUES
Balance perspective and detail
Chris Yiu (chris-yiu.com, @chrisyiupro, @chrisyiuphoto) demonstrates
the perfect process for correcting perspective and enhancing fine detail
AFTER
Harmonious symmetry
I further cropped the photo to balance the
proportions between the ceiling and the floor. In
architectural photography we look for symmetries,
geometry and patterns.
© Chris Yiu
1
2
Select a profile In order to enable
lens corrections, we need to check the
option Enable Profile Corrections. Then we
will have to double-check the lens profile
assigned and make sure that the camera/
lens combination matches the lens used to
take the image.
3
4
5
6
Lens corrections Barrel distortion
bends the straight lines in images,
especially those near the centre. Navigate
to the Lens Corrections panel – we can
eliminate the unwanted barrel distortion and
vignetting caused by the lens [which spoil
the symmetry in this shot].
Perspective Check Constrain Crop
if you do not want extra white spaces
around the edges of your photo. Draw at
least three guides along the lines which are
supposed to be levelled or perpendicular.
74
Crop for symmetry This is the result
after lens and perspective corrections.
Guided Upright is an advanced perspective
correction approach for accurate results. I
also applied some final image cropping.
Use the Transform panel Perspective
distortion is not acceptable in
architectural photography under most
circumstances. To fix these distortions,
navigate to the Transform panel, click on the
button above Off and now the upright mode
will be switched to Guided Upright.
Sharpen and extract edge detail In
the Detail panel drag the Masking slider,
while holding Alt/Opt until the outlines that
you want to sharpen turn white. Adjust the
Amount slider accordingly.
PRINT & SHARE
CHOOSE YOUR IDEAL
PHOTO PAPER
Selecting the best paper for your image is an important decision for
guaranteeing professional print quality
Different paper types exhibit a great variety
of display properties, which have to be
understood for the photographer to be able to
predict how their image will look when printed.
Paper texture and thickness have a profound
impact on how the ink from your printer will
interact with the paper surface. This in turn
influences the colour depth and balance of the
photograph. It is essential that the paper used
is best able to accurately recreate the colours
Pearl/lustre
Glossy
This is the most
universally popular
paper type. The
shiny, smooth
surface creates a
very sharp look that
suits naturally
brightly coloured
subjects, such
as flowers
and those
featuring a
large amount
of fine detail.
The surface is
very unforgiving
of photo defects,
such as camera
shake or image
noise, but offers a
wide colour range.
It is often the best
choice for printing
high-resolution files.
Surface glare and
reflections can be an
issue in direct lighting.
Matte
Matte papers suffer from less glare than
glossy media and so make good largeformat prints, destined for mixed-lighting
environments where the exact display location
is uncertain. Matte is a common choice
for printing black and white images, as the
textured surface adds to the fine art feel, while
the low glare has less detrimental impact
on high-contrast monochrome tones. A key
disadvantage of matte is
print longevity – the
surface can easily
be damaged
through handling
and cannot
be effectively
cleaned.
A variation on satin, these papers have an
additional texture that many professional
photographers prefer to use for wedding
and portrait images. These types of
images are likely to be handled more
frequently, so this paper is more
durable than matte, but still feels
pleasant to hold.
Conclusion
No matter how many pixels your
camera’s sensor possesses or how
much you have paid for your lenses
and printer, if you fail to select the
appropriate paper on an image-specific
basis, you will never achieve the ideal
print for your photos.
Choose a
paper weight
Generally speaking,
the heavier the paper –
measured in grams per
square metre (GSM)
– the better the print.
While weight itself does
not necessarily impact
print quality directly
(there are many
other factors,
such as printer
quality and
surface texture,
that dictate
this) heavier
paper provides
a nicer handling
experience. Look
for 280gsm or higher
for archival prints.
Canvas
Aside from
the artistic
theme the threedimensional nature
of box canvases can offer,
canvas is also a great option for printing
very large photos, where resolution may
have to be compromised for size. The deep
texture can also hide defects in the image,
such as a slight lack of sharpness, since
canvas prints are not as crisp as glossy photo
paper. This also makes it unsuitable for finely
detailed images. The texture can become
a distraction in flat areas, when prints are
viewed up close.
76
in the original image file, to ensure a reliable
image processing and output workflow. It is
advisable to run test prints on every paper type,
to assess which generates the ideal colour and
brightness for your taste.
Satin
Satin paper is pitched as a halfway measure between matte
and glossy, featuring a moderate texture and exhibiting
qualities of both. Sometimes referred to as ‘semi-gloss’, satin
is able to display a good range of colours, while minimising glare
and reflection, providing good display properties. Durability is
slightly better than matte and prints can be handled with more ease.
SHOOTING SKILLS
Take home studio
beauty portraits
Take beauty shots in an
improvised home studio
with a simple setup
BEFORE
Difficulty level: Intermediate/Expert
Time taken: 1 day (max 8 hours)
In this brief tutorial you will learn how
to make a professional-looking beauty
shot, with some basic equipment
and a simple lighting setup. There are a lot of
simple steps that can be easily overlooked, so
pay attention not to miss these as they can
make a huge difference to your end results. For
this particular shoot we will use a full-frame
DSLR – in this instance we are using the
Canon EOS 5DS with a 50-megapixel sensor
for ultra-high clarity, but you can still use
cameras with half that resolution, even with
APS-C sized sensors. For the lens we chose
Canon’s EF 135mm f2L USM telephoto lens,
which is really one of the best and sharpest
Canon lenses around.
In the light department, we’re going with
only one light source – here it’s the SK300 II,
a very affordable studio flash made by Godox,
and it was fitted with a parabolic softbox. We
used a cheap backdrop kit, but you can do this
even in front of the wall. This photoshoot won’t
require a huge working area, nor a studio
with high ceilings, and we’ll elaborate why as
we go along. However, it is advisable to have
someone assist you with make-up, unless
you’re going for a particularly natural look.
Right
Far right
Natural
Finalised image
The initial image before
any retouching, captured
using a simple home
studio setup
This is the final result
of all the retouching
steps, along with light
and colour corrections
DSLR
Telephoto lens
Backdrop
One studio flash
Parabolic softbox
Adobe Photoshop
Make-up
78
All images ©Nina Masic-Lizdek
What you’ll need
AFTER
HOME STUDIO BEAUTY
79
SHOOTING SKILLS
Shooting
steps
1
1
Working environment Although
you won’t be needing a large
studio for this shoot, you should
try to find a spacious room so that
you won’t have trouble with walls
reflecting your light source. Make
sure you have enough clearance
so you can move around and
experiment with different positions.
2
Set up backdrop This step is
pretty straightforward. If you
don’t have a backdrop setup like
this you can easily improvise –
you can even go with a plain
white wall, but in that case just
make sure you have enough clear
surface, without any furniture
invading the shot.
4
3
Position your lighting The
sweet spot for a shot like this
would be 2-2.5 metres away from
the model and angled around
30-45 degrees up in relation to
their face. Don’t position the light
too low or you’ll end up with flatlooking light, but also don’t go too
high or you’ll have the eyes buried
in shadows.
4
Camera and lens Beauty
photography is all about
details, so select a camera with a
high resolution. Here we’re using
Canon’s EOS 5DS. For lens go with
a telephoto lens and make sure it’s
sharp enough. Having a mediocre
lens on a good camera isn’t going
to help matters.
5
Model preparation If make-up
is not your thing, try to find
someone to help you. It is crucial
not to cover the skin with too
much make-up, otherwise you’re
in for the retouching nightmare
– it’s much easier to edit natural
imperfections than skin that’s
covered with too much powder.
6
Start shooting Make sure you
shoot in RAW format. Feel free
to experiment with different angles
and poses. If using light with
sufficient flash duration, you can
shoot without a tripod – you’ll be
more flexible with movement and
won’t risk blurry images.
80
5
HOME STUDIO BEAUTY
2
3
6
81
SHOOTING SKILLS
The setup
NEUTRAL
BACKGROUND
For easier editing
choose a neutrally
coloured background,
so you won’t have
any unnecessary
complications with
colour contamination
and casting.
MODEL’S POSITION
If you are working with
one light source and want
to have control over the
brightness of the backdrop
separately, you can do this
simply by distancing your
model and light closer
or further away from the
background.
Useful tips
Apply these simple tricks to ensure you’ll
achieve a professional-looking photo
Tip 1: If you’re going with this crop avoid shooting with
anything less than 100mm, otherwise you’ll have to
approach close to your model and her face will become
unpleasantly distorted. If you don’t have a lens with
that focal length, go with a wider shot and crop it after.
Tip 2: Make sure you don’t get any strong reflections
from the surrounding surfaces. For example, in this
shoot we covered the floor with black cloth so as not
to get a brownish cast on the model’s face from the
wooden floor. Apply this principle on any surfaces that
are close to your model, if they’re not neutral in colour.
82
STUDIO FLASH
WITH SOFTBOX
Beauty shots usually
look best with soft
diffused light, so choose
a sufficiently large
softbox, preferably a
rounded/parabolic one
if you want nice-looking
reflections in the eyes.
HOME STUDIO BEAUTY
Editing steps
1
2
1
RAW conversion When
converting your RAW photos it
is mandatory to get things right at
this step – make sure your white
balance is spot on, as well as the
exposure. Avoid adding too much
contrast at this stage, leave that
for later editing.
2
Healing Brush Retouch
the most prominent skin
imperfections with the Healing
Brush. Do this on a separate layer
so you can easily go back to the
original state if necessary.
3
Dodge and burn Instead of
dodging and burning on two
separate layers you can simplify
it – make one layer in Soft Light
mode and just use a black and
white brush with very faint opacity.
This step requires patience!
4
Colour and light corrections
As the last step you can
do some additional skin toning,
maybe to reduce the redness.
After that use Curves to adjust
global light. Make sure you don’t
have any clipping blacks or whites.
3
4
83
SHOOTING SKILLS
Perfect in-camera
Monochrome
While black and white conversion in software offers
flexibility,creating monochrome images at the
moment of exposure has its own benefits
Inset
There’s an abundance of dedicated
black and white conversion software
applications that provide sophisticated
options for quality colourless images. However,
while shooting in colour and stripping it away
later has become standard practice, it can cause
problems. Conversion is not a quick method of
making a dull image worth keeping, as can be
the tempting frame of mind to adopt. Shooting
your image with the initial intent to produce a
mono shot allows you to consider tone, detail
and compositional balance before the exposure is
made. Once you have decided how you want the
final image to look, using the scene in front of you
as a reference, you can select contrast, sharpness
and tone from a range of file-customisation
options in your camera’s image style menu,
while seeing an immediate preview. Sometimes
a slight adjustment to exposure or composition
can improve your tonal range, parameters
which cannot be easily altered at the computer.
Modern cameras often have toning filters or
film simulation modes, which can be added to
create unique photographs. Applying effects in
the camera saves time at the processing stage,
and can output print-ready images that don’t
suffer from the mis-application of processing or
variations in tone, induced by inconsistent colour
balance between computer screens.
1
Choose RAW + JPEG When shooting RAW
files, picture styles are not applied. Shoot
a JPEG to get the benefits of a preview of the
final image, but also keep a RAW version in
case you want to tailor the file differently in
the future.
84
2
Flat and misframed
Shot in colour and converted in
software, this image lacks contrast and
also has distracting highlights to the left
of the frame, spoiling the composition
BEFORE
Select Monochrome styling Enter
your camera’s menu and select the
Monochrome picture style from the list of
available options. Toggling this preset will
mean it is applied to JPEG files on capture
and a black and white image will be displayed.
3
Adjust composition Frame your shot,
composing with the final monochrome
image in mind. Vary focal length to isolate
detail and texture rather than colour and
tone, excluding areas that appear flat in the
review image.
AFTER
In-camera perfection
Shooting in monochrome allowed
the photographer to visualise final
contrast and composition, tailoring
this in-camera. A high-contrast filter
was used for added effect
4
Customise brightness and contrast
Once you have settled on a general
exposure, tailor the styling of the image using
the picture style editing menu. Alter detail and
highlight/shadow balance using the sliders
provided, and take a test shot.
5
Consider filter effects Depending on
your camera model, choose from a variety
of filter effects and toning options. You may
have to revisit brightness and contrast to
compensate for tonal shifts created by the
filter effects.
6
Shoot, review and adjust Shoot your
image, review the instant monochrome
photo and make informed alterations
to exposure and framing. Try under or
overexposing slightly for varying atmosphere,
experimenting with high and low-key looks.
85
GO PRO
Right
Amongst
the action
For memorable images
of school proms and
events, use a fast
standard lens and
blend yourself into
the environment
for immersive
compositions
© Peter Fenech
MASTER
SCHOOL
PORTRAITS
AND EVENTS
chool proms and events can be a
lucrative market.Learn to overcome
the biggest creative challenges
S
chool events are a contradictory
area for photographers. Proms,
fashion shows and senior portraits
all provide a wealth of opportunities
for new photographers, sometimes even
for school pupils themselves, to break into
the world of professional photography and
gain invaluable commercial experience. Yet
these events also tend to be large in scale
and difficult to coordinate efficiently, even for
highly experienced photographers. The large
number of attendees offers huge potential
for revenue, representing an inflated per-hour
rate of pay. Beyond this, assuming you make
a good impression, there is the possibility
86
of repeat business, as school
events often occur annually. It
is a challenging sector to enter,
so it is beneficial to be aware of
the main difficulties beforehand.
As an individual photographer, it
can be hard to effectively cover
large events and capture all of the
desirable details – after all, you
can only be in one location at a
time. A solution is to equip yourself
with two camera bodies, each
mounted with a different lens. Try
fitting one body with a wide-angle
and the other with a telephoto,
MASTER SCHOOL PORTRAITS AND EVENTS
Charge a
retainer fee
Be sure to cover your costs
by arranging an up-front
payment, independent of
image sales
When shooting weddings or other
similar events, you can be fairly
confident of the proportion of
guests that will purchase prints
from you. At school events, when
the exact format and attendee
engagement can be undecided
and unpredictable, you need to
reduce the impact of poor sales,
not least because your images
will have limited long-term
significance. Consider charging
a retainer fee, that is enough to
cover your travel expenses to
the venue and time preparing
previews later. This can be
contributed in small amounts
by each attendee, who can be
discounted this amount on their
print order, for example.
87
GO PRO
© Peter Fenech
or alternatively use a fast prime, such as a
Ensuring a good return on your time is
30mm f1.4 on camera one, and a mid-range
another major consideration. School-based
zoom on camera two – a 24-105mm f4 or
shoots are intensive and require considerable
similar is common. Lack of venue control
effort on the photographer’s part, so it is
is another challenge. Unlike many wedding
essential we achieve a sustainable profit.
venues, where layout can be tailored to suit
While you may shoot many images on
the couple’s requirements, school events
location, often only a small fraction of these
mostly occur in fixed settings, forcing the
will be purchased. Events such as proms are
photographer to work around the
very context-driven and attendees’
environment provided. Arrive
buying behaviour changes
BUILD
early, calculate camera
quickly. Always provide
A RAPPORT
settings for each area and
previews of your images as
Make sure to interact
once shooting queues
soon as possible, usually
with your subjects and
get to know them. This
of students, avoid
within two or three days
will help students become
changing your settings
of the event, to encourage
comfortable around you, which
between shots for
sales while it is still fresh
will reflect in your images.
higher throughput. Try
in customers’ minds.
Expressions will be more
saving settings to your
Provide clear information
natural and the excitement of
camera’s custom mode
regarding the online
the atmosphere will shine
dial positions, so you can
gallery where images can
through, increasing
call up pre-defined and
be viewed and when they will
selling appeal.
unchanging parameters on
be available. Also encourage
demand. Coordinate with venue
group and couple images, as these
staff to find the best places to set
can give you maximum sales for minimal
up your shots and maximise your
processing time. Don’t resist requests to see
control over lighting, space and backgrounds.
images on the back of your camera, since
Frame your shots wider than necessary to
modern generations are used to instant
include more peripheral space for increased
image reviews. Giving your subjects a glimpse
cropping options. Students in groups won’t
of your shots may drive traffic to your event
stay still for long, so use burst mode to
page and adds to the interaction between
capture sequences of shots, to guarantee
you and your models. Make the process fun,
the best composition.
so it stands out from the rest of the event.
88
Above
Below
Use your
environment
Know the itinerary
Shooting in an outdoor
setting and making the
most of the location you
have is an effective way of
shooting natural, relaxed
senior portraits
Events like proms move
quickly, so being aware of
what will happen and when
ensures you will be well
positioned for your target
images, such as students
arriving or mingling
MASTER SCHOOL PORTRAITS AND EVENTS
Focus on context
Use the environment to tell a story about
the event, for unique images
Think carefully about how the environment complements the subject.
Here Erin has used monochrome, as it suits the tone and atmosphere
of the background, creating an impactful and stylised fashion look
Above
Left
Below
Your audience
Use natural light
Groups
When shooting with
students in mind, Erin
creates photos that she
knows will be popular
on social media
Erin Perez makes
great use of directional
sunlight rather than the
artificial light, for shots
that look different
Shoot group shots or
use other people as a
background element,
to capture the event’s
atmosphere
89
© Peter Fenech
All images © Erin Perez
Formal school portraits and prom images are
often associated with a highly standardised
look, which does not display creativity. To stand
out from the competition, make strong use of
the setting to form engaging backgrounds and
venue-specific, reportage-style photos. In spacelimited areas, use the tighter environment to your
advantage and apply background lighting effects,
using off-camera flash. Where more space is
available, frame wider and be sure to compose in
identifiable details, for context-tailored images.
GO PRO
Pro case study
Senior portrait and
prom photography
expert Erin Perez
(ecubedphoto
graphy.com) shares
her experience and pro tips
How did you get involved with shooting
seniors and school photography?
After shooting all of the genres of
portraiture, I came to the conclusion that
senior portraits fit me best. Seniors were
fun, adventurous, and more than anything
talkative – making senior portraiture
perfect for creating fun images with stressfree marketing.
What are the greatest challenges you find
shooting senior portraits and proms on a
regular basis?
With senior portraits, my main challenges
are staying relevant and keeping it fresh. My
main market is a small town with closest
towns at least 1 to 2.5 hours away, which can
make location scouting a bit redundant.
How do you overcome these challenges
and ensure repeat business with your
target audience?
Senior photography trends change
seasonally. In order to stay relevant to a
teenager, I try to incorporate some of the
trendy elements with my signature style.
Sometimes that means just throwing in a
pair of clear aviator glasses or changing
the posing.
The major trend is to have a candid
editorial. The pretty posed images sell
to parents, but the trendy images get
likes and shares on Instagram with your
target audience.
In your opinion, what makes a
successful senior portrait and perfect
prom image? How do you make your
images appeal to the target audience?
Senior portraits are not about perfect
lighting or amazing locations. Successful
senior portraits are about taking ugly
locations with bad weather and still
making the senior feel amazing. It is
the awe and excitement during the
image reveal. My goal is to capture true
personality, find a sense of stillness, as
well as boost self-esteem.
Far left
Image personality
Erin tries to introduce her own
style into each of her images, to
give them a unique tone. The
use of props adds a vibrant feel,
attractive to younger viewers
Left
Close connection
Erin enjoys shooting
teen subjects due to their
adventurous nature, which
opens up opportunities for
intimate viewer engagement
Build a senior model team Having ageappropriate representation for your studio
is worth a little extra time to plan sessions.
Senior models create interest, exclusivity and
word-of-mouth advertising.
Be visible Show up to events wearing your
logo. Be active in your community by donating
sessions to charity auctions. Work with
boutiques to create seasonal look books.
Take a break Take some time to focus on
yourself and create an action plan for your
business. Design a few strictly creative
projects throughout the year to keep you
feeling energised and ready to shoot.
Conferences Attend a conference for senior
photographers at least once a year, if you
can. This is where you will meet like-minded
photographers, gather new ideas, learn new
things, and most of all grow as a photographer.
Be open to change The market is always
changing, so change with it, even if it makes
you uncomfortable. Take some online courses
to learn what you might struggle with to stay
on top of the game.
90
All images © Erin Perez
Erin’s pro tips for
senior portraits
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94
GROUP TEST
Photographers can be a greedy
bunch. However much telephoto
reach we have, we often hanker
after a little more, and there are various
ways of achieving this. The starting point
for most of us is to buy either a 70-200mm
f2.8 or 70-300mm f4-5.6 tele zoom. You
can boost the former to 400mm with a 2x
tele-converter, or gain an effective 450mm
focal length by mounting the latter on an
APS-C format body (480mm for Canon).
Another option is to buy a wellestablished super-tele zoom like the
Canon 100-400mm or Nikon 80-400mm.
However, if you are used to shooting with
a 70-300mm lens on an APS-C format
camera, and have moved up to full-frame,
you might still feel a bit short-changed
when it comes to outright reach. Next up
are the Canon 200-400mm and Nikon 180400mm lenses which feature built-in 1.4x
tele-converters, but they’re monstrously
expensive at around £11,000/$12,000
apiece, and monster prime lenses also tend
to be very pricey.
Offering a more manageable and
affordable solution, Sigma and Tamron
have pushed the boundaries with their
recent 150-600mm super-tele zooms.
Nikon has responded with a 200-500mm
lens which, while it doesn’t quite match the
others for zoom range or maximum reach,
isn’t far off. And the Nikon is similarly
competitive in terms of price.
One thing you won’t get with a zoom lens
that’s sufficiently lightweight for handheld
shooting, yet stretches to 500mm or
600mm, is a ‘fast’ aperture rating. This
makes image stabilisation an absolute
must. It’s featured in all of the lenses in this
test group, apart from the Sony A-mount
edition of the Tamron, which relies on incamera stabilisation instead. Let’s take a
closer look at what the current contenders
have to offer.
95
REVIEWS
PRICE: £1,130 / $1,300
Tamron SP 150-600mm
f5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
Aiming to take everything to a whole new level,
here’sTamron – the next generation
As with the excellent 24-70mm and
70-200mm G2 zooms, this one boasts
improvements in features, handling and
performance. A revised optical layout
includes three LD elements rather
than just one, and a mixture of both
conventional and nano-structured coatings.
A full set of weather seals is added, plus a
fluorine coating on the front element.
Useful features include a short/longdistance autofocus limiter, which can lock
out the range either side of ten metres.
The ring-type ultrasonic system has the
same manual-priority override as in the
Nikon lens, but lacks the Sigma lenses’
auto/manual-priority selection switch.
For stabilisation, the Tamron has a threeposition VC (Vibration Compensation)
switch. It covers all bases with static and
panning modes, plus a mode for applying
stabilisation only during the exposure.
This makes it easier to track erratically
moving subjects through the viewfinder.
The system delivers 4.5-stop effectiveness,
matching that of the Nikon lens and
edging ahead of the Sigma lenses. And
where you can lock the Sigma lenses’
zoom ring at any marked setting, the
Tamron has a push-pull zoom ring enabling
it to be locked at any focal length.
In a reversal of fortunes to the Sigma
Contemporary lens, sharpness is very
good at the long end of the zoom range
but less impressive at short to medium
focal lengths. Ultimately, if you want a
lens that delivers excellent 400-600mm
performance in a strong, weather-sealed
yet reasonably lightweight build, all at a
keen price, this Tamron is a smart buy.
Left
A high-quality but reasonably sized build
Smaller and lighter than the Sigma Sport lens, the
Tamron is nevertheless strongly built and features an
Arca-Swiss compatible tripod foot
Left
150mm
Levels of sharpness are a little
disappointing in the shorter half
of the zoom range
Far left
600mm
From around 400mm right
through to 600mm, sharpness
is very good indeed, very nearly
matching that of the big Sigma
Sport lens
96
GROUP TEST
PRICE: £1,680 / $1,800
Sigma 150-600mm f5-6.3 DG
OS HSM | S
Big and heavy,Sigma’s mighty Sport lens literally
puts all the other contenders in the shade
Physically longer, wider and heavier than
other lenses on test, Sigma’s Sport lens
is a bit of a beast. It tips the scales at
2,860g, which is good news if you enjoy a
physical workout without paying gym fees.
The front section of the lens is particularly
large, and has a 105mm filter thread
instead of the 95mm in the other lenses.
This lens comes closest of any in the
group to the look and feel of a fully prograde optic. Unlike the Nikon and Sigma
Contemporary lenses on test, it has a full
set of weather seals, rather than just a
sealed mounting plate. It also feels very
sturdy and robust, from its brass mounting
plate to its metal outer barrel and hood.
The rear of the barrel also features strap
lugs, so you can hang it from your neck
without stressing your camera mount.
All of the attractions of the Sigma
Contemporary lens are carried through,
including an identical set of switches for
auto/manual-priority autofocus, a short/
long autofocus range limiter, dual-mode
stabilisation, and two custom modes. Both
lenses are also supplied with padded
soft cases, but the Sport lens also has a
padded soft lens cap that encircles the
hood when extended or inverted. Handling
benefits from a much bigger focus ring
than in the Contemporary lens.
The Sport also goes extra-large in terms
of image quality and all-round performance.
Autofocus is super fast and highly accurate,
while sharpness and contrast are better
than from any competing lens, throughout
the entire zoom and aperture ranges.
Colour fringing is minimal and pincushion
distortion is fairly negligible.
Left
Meet the Bigma
This lens takes the attractions of
Sigma’s Contemporary lens to a
different scale, with a bigger, better
build, enhanced handling and
premium performance
Far left
600mm
At the long end of the zoom
range, the Sport lens retains
excellent sharpness, edging
ahead of the Nikon and Tamron
Left
150mm
Image quality is marginally sharper
than from the Sigma Contemporary
lens at 150mm, and noticeably
better than from the Tamron
97
REVIEWS
PRICE: £1,000 / $990
Sigma 150-600mm f5-6.3 DG
OS HSM | C
It’s a much more lightweight affair than Sigma’s Sport lens,in price as
well as overall construction
This is the only lens on test that weighs
in at under two kilos; in fact, it’s nearly
a whole kilogram lighter than Sigma’s
Sport lens. It still comes complete with
a detachable tripod mounting collar, but
it’s easier than most to use for prolonged
periods of handheld shooting.
Despite costing considerably less than
competing lenses, Sigma’s ‘Contemporary’
offering packs plenty of up-market
features. It beats the Nikon by offering
both auto- and manual-priority AF modes,
and the ability to lock out the long and the
short end of the autofocus range. There’s a
dual-mode stabiliser for static and panning
shots, which gave an effectiveness of just
under four stops in our tests.
Further trickery includes two ‘custom’
modes which can be selected via a
switch on the barrel, enabling you to alter
autofocus and stabilisation parameters.
You’ll need Sigma’s optional USB Dock to
set up custom modes, and it can also be
used for applying firmware updates.
The optical path includes three SLD
(Special Low Dispersion) elements and
one top-grade FLD (Fluorite LD) element.
The front and rear elements have a fluorine
coating to repel water and grease and
to make cleaning easier, and the brass
mounting plate has a weather-seal ring.
Sharpness and contrast are a close
match to those of the bigger and pricier
Sigma Sport lens, at least throughout
most of the zoom range. However,
sharpness isn’t retained so well at the long
end of the zoom range, between 500mm
and 600mm. At these focal lengths, it’s
good rather than great.
Left
Small in size, big on features
A neat trick shared with Sigma’s Sport lens is that you can
lock the zoom ring at any of the eight positions that have a
marked focal length
Far left
150mm
Sharpness is good at 150mm
and remains impressive all the
way through to 500mm
Left
600mm
It loses out to the Sigma
Sport and Tamron lenses for
sharpness at 600mm
98
GROUP TEST
PRICE: £1,300 / $1,400
Nikon AF-S 200-500mm
f5.6E ED VR
Keenly priced for an own-brand Nikon lens,it leads the field in some
ways but lags behind in others
Considering the price tags attached to
some of Nikon’s recent lenses, this one
looks a bit of a bargain. The constantaperture design is unique in this test, and
makes the Nikon a third of an f-stop faster
at the long end of its zoom range. However,
it has a smaller 2.5x rather than 4x zoom
range, with focal lengths that don’t go as
short or as long as in the competing lenses.
Build quality is good with a solid
construction and weather-sealed mounting
plate. The zoom mechanism can be
locked at its shortest setting, while other
switches are on hand for focusing modes,
long-distance autofocus range limiting and
VR (Vibration Reduction). The ring-type
ultrasonic autofocus system is manual
priority, in that it instantly swaps to
manual focusing if you twist the focus ring
while in autofocus mode. It therefore works
in continuous AF mode, as well as enabling
you to swap to manual if AF is struggling
to lock onto a subject.
Like a number of recent Nikon lenses,
this one has an electromagnetically
controlled aperture. Compared with
Nikon’s more conventional mechanical
lever, this enables greater exposure
consistency when shooting in fast
continuous drive mode. The downside is
that it’s incompatible with older Nikon
DSLRs, up to and including the D200,
D3000 and D5000.
Autofocus is fast and accurate.
Sharpness is mostly impressive but dips a
bit in the middle sector of the zoom range.
Colour fringing is slightly worse than with
the other lenses on test at the long end,
but image quality is good overall.
Left
It’s a high-tech affair
Headline attractions include manualpriority autofocus, a dual-mode 4.5stop stabiliser and three ED (Extra-low
Dispersion) elements to boost image
quality, all wrapped up in
a solid build
Far left
500mm
Despite a dip in the middle
sector of the zoom range,
sharpness comes back on
song at the long end
Left
200mm
With a minimum focal length
of 200mm, you can’t squeeze
as much into the frame as with
competing lenses
99
REVIEWS
Sigma 150-600mm f56.3 DG OS HSM | S
Manufacturer
Sigma
Model
150-600mm f56.3 DG OS HSM | S
Web
www.sigmaimaging-uk.com
Elements/groups
24/16
Angle of view
16-4 degrees
Max aperture
f5-6.3
Min aperture
f22
Min focus
distance
2.6m
Mount
Canon EF, Nikon
FX, Sigma
Filter size
105mm
Length
290mm
Diameter
121mm
Weight
2,860g
100
FEATURES
Top-end features
include customisation
options, strap lugs and
a pro-grade tripod foot
BUILD QUALITY
The quality of the
entire lens feels
consummately
professional
HANDLING
Everything works
smoothly, efficiently
and effectively, but it’s
undeniably heavy
QUALITY OF
RESULTS
Image quality is highly
impressive in all
respects, throughout
the entire zoom range
VALUE FOR
MONEY
The priciest lens in the
group, but not by much,
making it great value for
a top-notch lens
Sigma 150-600mm f56.3 DG OS HSM | C
Manufacturer
Sigma
Model
150-600mm f56.3 DG OS HSM | C
Web
www.sigmaimaging-uk.com
Elements/groups
20/14
Angle of view
16-4 degrees
Max aperture
f5-6.3
Min aperture
f22
Min focus
distance
2.8m
Mount
Canon EF, Nikon
FX, Sigma
Filter size
95mm
Length
260mm
Diameter
105mm
Weight
1,930g
Tamron SP 150-600mm
f5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
Manufacturer
Tamron
Model
SP 150-600mm
f5-6.3 Di VC
USD G2
BUILD QUALITY
Web
It feels more ‘consumer’
www.tamron.co.uk
than ‘professional’
Elements/groups
but the standard of
21/13
construction is great
Angle of view
16-4 degrees
HANDLING
Max aperture
The manual focus ring
f5-6.3
is small but overall
Min aperture
handling is good, and
it’s the lightest lens here
f32-40
Min focus
distance
QUALITY OF
2.2m
RESULTS
Image quality is very
Mount
pleasing overall but
Canon EF, Nikon
sharpness drops off when
FX, Sony A (no VC)
you zoom beyond 500mm
Filter size
95mm
VALUE FOR
Length
MONEY
260mm
The cheapest lens in
Diameter
the group, this Sigma
108mm
is unbeatable when it
comes to value
Weight
2,010g
FEATURES
FEATURES
Smart features include
the ability to set up
custom modes for AF
and stabilisation
Wide-ranging features
include compatibility
with Tamron’s USB Tapin Console
BUILD QUALITY
It doesn’t feel quite as
robust as Sigma’s Sport
lens, but it’s not as bulky
or heavy
HANDLING
Handling is refined in all
respects and it’s nice
being able to lock the
zoom at any focal length
QUALITY OF
RESULTS
Sharpness is uninspiring in
the short half of the zoom
range but very good at the
long end
VALUE FOR
MONEY
Excellent value,
considering the build
quality and weathersealed construction
Nikon AF-S 200500mm f5.6E ED VR
Manufacturer
Nikon
Model
AF-S 200500mm f5.6E
ED VR
Web
www.nikon.co.uk
Elements/
groups
19/12
Angle of view
12-5 degrees
Max aperture
f5.6
Min aperture
f32
Min focus
distance
2.2m
Mount
Nikon FX
Filter size
95mm
Length
268mm
Diameter
108mm
Weight
2,300g
FEATURES
The lens has some of
Nikon’s latest features,
like electromagnetic
aperture control
BUILD QUALITY
It doesn’t quite feel
like one of Nikon’s prograde lenses, but it’s
solid and robust
HANDLING
Handling is good overall,
helped by smooth zoom
and focus rings, and the
Sport VR mode
QUALITY OF
RESULTS
Sharpness could be a
little better at mid-zoom
settings but quality is
very good overall
VALUE FOR
MONEY
Unusually, the price is
in the same ball-park
as the Sigma Sport and
Tamron G2 lenses
Overall
Overall
Overall
Overall
It’s a handful at nearly 3kg, but
its build quality and performance
are more than worth the weight.
If you can live with a slight drop in
sharpness at the long end, it’s a
great lens for the money.
Taking everything into account,
the Tamron is a wise buy and
won’t weigh you down.
For Nikon shooters who prefer to
use own brand lenses, this one
delivers better value than most.
REVIEWS
Above
Status report
The top-plate screen
is handy for checking
key information and it’s
possible to customise
what’s shown
Opposite
Gesture control
Up, down, left and right
swipes on the screen
can access key features
for adjustment
102
P
Price:
i
£1
£1,699
699 / $1,899
$1
(body only)
Fujifilm X-H1
The new flagship APS-C format camera combines elements
of the popular X-T2 with some from the medium-format GFX
Fujifilm has introduced the X-H1
in response to requests from
professional photographers, but at
its core is the same 24.3MP APS-C format
X-Trans CMOS III sensor and X-Processor
Pro engine as can be found in the company’s
other recent X-Series cameras.
However, in a notable difference, the
sensor can move to compensate for camera
shake, as the X-H1 is the first Fujifilm X-Series
camera to helpfully feature in-body image
stabilisation (IBIS). This operates across
five axes and has a claimed maximum
compensation value of 5.5EV. Another key
introduction is that Fuji has given the X-H1’s
mechanical shutter a new spring mechanism
that is designed to minimise vibration and
operation sound.
Like the X-T2, X-Pro2 and X-E3, the X-H1
has Fuji’s 91/325-point Intelligent Hybrid
“With 3.69 million
dots, the X-H1’s
electronic viewfinder
(EVF) matches the
GFX’s for resolution”
autofocus (AF) system that uses both phase
and contrast detection. However, Fuji has
improved the phase-detection algorithm and
made the system sensitive down to -1EV while
the contrast detection system has the same
-3EV sensitivity. In addition, Fuji has worked
on the continuous AF performance to make it
better at tracking moving subjects.
Fujifilm also wants the X-H1 to have more
appeal to videographers than its earlier
cameras. With this in mind, it’s possible
to shoot C4K (4,096 x 2,160) footage at
200Mbps with F-Log Gamma for better
grading and matching of multiple camera
outputs. Further good news is that this can be
recorded to a memory card in the camera or
an HDMI device.
Those who want to produce attractive
results direct from the camera can use Fuji’s
Film Simulation modes, including the new
‘Eterna’ mode introduced with the X-H1, which
is designed to replicate the look of cinematic
film, with rich shadows and some subtle
colour saturation.
Looks-wise, the Fuji X-H1 resembles a
cross-breed of the X-T2 and GFX 50S. It’s
not as deep as the medium-format GFX,
but at 139.8 x 97.3 x 85.5mm it’s quite a bit
chunkier than the X-T2 (132.5 x 91.8mm x
49.2mm) – this was a key request to Fuji from
professional photographers.
FEATURES
THREE-DIRECTION TILT
The screen can be tilted up and down or flipped out
for portrait-format shooting. It’s not as intuitive to
use as a vari-angle unit, but it’s solidly constructed.
BATTERY
CIPA testing gives a battery life of 310 images. You’re
likely to be able to capture more images in real-world
shooting, but a spare battery is advisable.
CONTINUOUS SHOOTING
There’s a max continuous shooting speed of 14fps,
or 8fps with the mechanical shutter, but you have to
drop to 5.7fps if you need uninterrupted Live View.
QUIET PLEASE
A new shutter button design and spring mechanism
make the shutter the quietest of the X Series. The
electronic shutter allows silent shooting.
VIDEO
4K (4,096 x 2,160) video can be recorded to an
external device via an HDMI connection. Footage
recorded internally to an SD card has 4:2:0 colour.
FLICKER-FREE
When the mechanical shutter is employed, the
Flicker Reduction system can be used to ensure
more stable exposure under fluorescent lighting.
THREE-DIRECTION TILT
103
REVIEWS
100%
Inset
Good exposure
On the whole exposures are
good but the EVF means you can
assess them in the viewfinder at
the shooting stage
Top
Film Simulation modes
Fuji’s Film Simulation modes are
popular for good reason, and
there’s one for every situation
Left
Midtone contrast
Images have attractively high
midtone contrast that makes
them look extra sharp and bright
straight from the camera
A new scratch-resistant
coating makes the camera more
durable than previous models,
while seals around the joints and
controls ensure that the X-H1 is
dust and water-resistant. It’s also
freeze-resistant down to -10°C.
On the top of the camera there are
dials for setting the sensitivity and shutter
speed, but the presence of a 1.28-inch LCD on
the top plate means there’s no room for an
exposure compensation dial. Instead, there’s
a button to the side of the shutter release
that is pressed while the rear command dial is
rotated. This button is little awkward to locate
when the camera is held to your eye, but it is
possible to use the customisation menu to
dedicate another button, such as the one on
the front of the camera next to the grip, to
take on this duty.
Both dials on the X-H1’s top plate are
lockable and while the shutter speed dial
seems well protected from being accidentally
knocked out of position, the sensitivity dial
is more prone and we found it best to keep it
locked in place.
With 3.69 million dots, the Fujifilm X-H1’s
electronic viewfinder (EVF) matches the GFX’s
for resolution and is paired with a maximum
frame rate of 100 frames per second in the
Boosted performance setting plus a lag of
0.005 seconds. It provides a detailed view
of moving and stationary subjects. There’s
also a Natural Live View setting if you prefer
the electronic viewfinder to simulate the
look of an optical viewfinder, but we prefer
the standard view that shows the impact of
exposure, colour and white balance settings.
TALKING POINT…
Custom settings
In the AF/MF tab of the X-H1’s menu is
the AF-C Custom settings, allowing you to
customise the response of the continuous
autofocus (AF-C) system.
These comprise five Sets of settings
along with a sixth that is provided for
the photographer to customise. Each of
the Sets specifies values for Tracking
Sensitivity, Speed Tracking Sensitivity
and Zone Area Switching. These are
designed to take control over how quickly
the camera adjusts the focus when the
subject distance or speed of movement
changes, or prioritise the focus area. A
good understanding of the subject and the
situation is needed, but the menu screen
displays typical uses for each Set.
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FUJIFILM X-H1
1 AF-ON
Back-button focusing fans will be pleased
by the dedicated AF On button.
3 CLEAR VIEW
An optional wide eye cup is available if
you find you need it.
3
2
2 DRIVE MODE
This dial speeds switching drive mode
and dovetails with the focus mode switch.
4 FOCUS LEVER
This mini joystick makes setting the AF
point very easy.
1
4
“The X-H1’s AF system is fast in
decent light and can keep pace
with a speeding subject”
By Fujifilm’s own admission, the presence
of the same sensor and processing engine
as is in the X-T2 (and others) means that
the X-H1 produces the same quality images.
However, the addition of IBIS and the
improved AF system should enable it to
produce the highest possible quality in a wider
range of situations.
When shooting with the XF 16-55mm R LM
WR lens at 55mm, we had a hit rate of 60
per cent at 1/8sec and 20 per cent and 1/4
sec; these equate to compensation values of
around 3.5 and 4.5EV, which are a bit shy of
Fujifilm’s claims.
As we expected, the X-H1’s AF system is
fast in decent light and can keep pace with a
speeding subject. However, it’s not completely
reliable in low light and when photographing
dancers indoors, it missed a few shots that
we felt it should be capable of delivering. To
be fair, there were also a few tricky lighting
scenarios where it surprised us by getting the
subject sharp.
As with the rest of the X Series, the
images that the X-H1 produces are generally
attractive with a good level of detail and
pleasant colours that are dictated by the
selected Film Simulation mode. Noise is
controlled well and even ISO 6400 images
look very good.
Fujifilm X-H1
Megapixels (effective)
24.3
Max resolution
6,000 x 4,000
Sensor information
23.5 x 15.6mm (APS-C) X-Trans
CMOS III
Shutter speed
15min - 1/32,000sec
Bulb to 60min
ISO sensitivity
200-12,800 expandable to
100-51,200
Exposure modes
PASM
Metering options
Multi, Spot, Average,
Centre-Weighted
Flash modes
1st Curtain, 2nd Curtain, Auto FP
(HSS), TTL (Auto, Standard, Slowsync), Manual, Commander, Off
Connectivity
Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB 3.0, HDMI,
3.5mm Mic, 2.5mm remote, Sync
Weight
673g (including battery and
memory card)
Dimensions
139.8 x 97.3 x 85.5mm
Batteries
NP-W126S Li-ion battery (included)
Storage
Dual SD/SDHC/SDXC both UHS-II
LCD
3-Direction tilt 3-inch 1.04 milliondot touchscreen
Viewfinder
0.5-inch 3.69 million-dot OLED
FEATURES
There’s not a huge step up in
features from the X-T2, but the
specification is solid
BUILD QUALITY
The chunky grip and thick shell
make the camera feel solid and
capable of holding a heavy lens
HANDLING
We love the traditional controls
but the exposure compensation
control is fiddlier than we’d like
QUALITY OF RESULTS
Fabulous Film Simulation modes,
plenty of detail and good noise
control, what’s not to like?
VALUE FOR MONEY
It might not have the best lowlight AF, but Fujifilm gives you
quite a lot for your money
Overall
There’s not a massive
amount to separate the X-H1
from the X-T2, but the points
all add up and it’s a wellrounded camera that delivers
the goods where it matters.
Inset
Battery
grip
An optional grip
provides improved
battery life, as well as
the ability to easily shoot
in portrait format
105
REVIEWS
Price: £630 / $780 (with EF-M 15-45mm & EF-M 55-200mm IS STM)
Canon EOS M100
Small, lightweight and compatible with the entire
EOS system, is this compact system camera a
genuine option for serious photographers?
Entering as a direct replacement
for the 18MP EOS M10, the M100 is
pitched as an entry-level option in
the EOS M line-up. When handling the camera
for the first time, the body does feel more like
a beginner’s tool, featuring a largely plastic
construction. While this may discourage more
advanced photographers, the size, shape and
balance will be familiar to users of compact
digital cameras. The outer shell feels rigid and
does not distort when depressed, suggesting
a better build than many compact offerings.
Although there have clearly been some
compromises in construction quality, this
does not affect the overall handling of the
M100, which benefits from a textured front
plate and thumb rest. The setup feels nicely
balanced with the EF-M 15-45mm f3.5-6.3 IS
STM, which adds a reassuring weight to the
front of the camera. All of the buttons and
dials are within easy reach when keeping one
finger on the shutter button. One possible
complaint is that many of the physical
settings controls have been removed from the
camera body, meaning the user must make
alterations to shutter speed, aperture and ISO
from the LCD or from within the menu system.
However, the screen itself is very responsive
and with a little practice, it is possible to
operate the camera intuitively, with speed.
The use of an APS-C sized imaging sensor
allows greater control over depth of field and
superior noise performance, relative to a
compact camera or smartphone. The M100
uses a 24.2MP unit – an increase of roughly
6MP from the M10 – which is capable of
resolving plenty of fine detail, even when using
the kit lens. Noise is well managed in JPEG
files throughout the ISO range and resolution
is still acceptable at the highest settings, albeit
with some smudging and loss of contrast.
As is expected from a Canon APS-C
format camera, colour rendition is very
good, reflecting natural hues and excellent
colour gradation. The white balance system
copes well in mixed lighting – the camera
successfully neutralises strong colour bias
under artificial light, while maintaining a
natural amount of warmth.
For an entry-level camera, the EOS M100
comes with a fairly comprehensive feature
set. In addition to the high-resolution sensor,
a top sensitivity of ISO 25,600 is available,
as is an improved 6.1fps burst rate – an
improvement over the 4.6fps of the EOS
M10. Both cameras incorporate Wi-Fi, but the
M100 adds Bluetooth connectivity, for extra
versatility. A useful feature is the built-in flash,
which can be adjusted to bounce light for a
more diffused and professional lighting style.
Autofocus is quick and generally very accurate.
While this falters a little in low light, there is a
bright AF assist light that helps speed up the
process. The touch-focus feature is a great
addition for rapid image capture – a simple
tap of the screen triggers the shutter, which
is an asset when covering fast-moving scenes,
such as street and travel locations.
The stand-out aspect of the M100 is of
course its size. For a new photographer who
would like to experiment with interchangeable
lens photography, as a step up from a
smartphone, the M100 offers a small, discreet
and lightweight introduction.
FEATURES
Top
DSLR quality
Using a comparable sensor/
processor pairing, the M100
offers reliable performance
Middle
Close focus
You can achieve close focus with the
M100 and EF-M 15-45mm lens, which is
good news for fans of macro photography
Bottom
Natural colour
The M100 produces a
realistic and appealing
palette, with natural hues
106
HD VIDEO
KIT LENS
FOCUS PEAKING
The bundled EF-M 15-45mm f3.56.3 IS STM lens feels surprisingly
well built and offers a retractable
design for easier storage.
The LCD screen can be used to
rapidly assess focus, with the
peaking feature highlighting sharp
areas of the image.
BULB EXPOSURES
MEMORY CARD SLOT
For full creative control over
exposure, a Bulb mode is provided,
so the shutter can be locked open
for ultra-long exposure photography.
The door is a little fiddly to open, but
the M100 accepts UHS memory
cards, for high-speed data transfer,
unlike the preceding M10 model.
BATTERY LIFE
HD VIDEO
The Lithium-ion battery for the
EOS M100 has a greater life than
that utilised by the M10, offering an
average of 295 shots per charge.
Standard on most interchangeable
lens cameras today, the M100 is
equipped with a full HD video mode,
with 24fps – 60 fps options available.
CANON EOS M100
EF-M
LENS MOUNT
The EOS M100 uses
the newer EF-M mount,
accepting the dedicated range
of mirrorless Canon lenses. The
flexibility of the camera can be
extended using an EF/EF-S
mount adaptor, to access
the full Canon lens
line-up.
Canon EOS M100
“Touch-focus is a
great addition for
rapid image capture”
Below
Right
Touchscreen
APS-C quality
This articulated LCD is
the main access point to
camera settings
The 22.3mm x 14.9mm
sensor offers superior
image quality
Megapixels
24.2
Max resolution
6,000 x 4,000
Sensor
information
22.3 x 14.9mm
Shutter speed
30 - 1/4,000sec,
Bulb
ISO sensitivity
100 - 25,600, A
Exposure modes
Auto, P, A, S,
M , A+
Metering
options
E, PM, CW, S
Flash modes
Auto (E-TTL II)
Connectivity
Wi-Fi, USB
(Mini-B
compatible)
Weight
302g (including
battery and card)
Dimensions
108.2 x 67.1 x
35.1mm
Batteries
Rechargeable
Li-ion
Storage
SD, SDHC,
SDXC (UHS-I
compatible)
LCD
3in (1,040K dots)
FEATURES
Canon’s trend for building
advanced features into entrylevel cameras carries on here
BUILD QUALITY
While unsuitable for professional
use, the build is in line with the
current competition
HANDLING
The body could use more
texture, but the camera is still
comfortable to operate
QUALITY OF RESULTS
The image quality is comparable
to other Canon APS-C entrylevel cameras. Above average
VALUE FOR MONEY
A touch pricey for the user it is
aimed at, but the M100’s spec
will keep them happy in use
Overall
The M100 is an interesting
camera – while not built for
professional use, there are
some clever features. Overall
it is an attractive high-quality
compact system camera.
107
REVIEWS
PortraitPro 17
Main
Inset top
Inset bottom
Face sculpt
Add make-up
Alter eyes and hair
Take full control over the shape of
the face, from the eyes and mouth
shape to the nose and lips
With more make-up options than
ever before, you can get even more
detailed with colour and toning
Change the eye and hair colour
of your subject with the specific
drop-down menus
Tweak your portraits to perfection with this professional-level software package
SRP: £60 / $84 (approx) OS: Windows XP and above, Mac OS X 10.7 and above
For as long as retouching has been
part of the public consciousness,
there’s been a debate over its ethics
and morality. For a lot of people, it’s not
so much a case of how far a program can
retouch your subject, but rather how far the
user should go themselves. Unrealistic beauty
standards are a topic of debate likely to last as
long as retouching itself.
Aside from all morality issues and debates
though, PortraitPro 17 is just the kind of
program that promises the kind of wide-scale
retouching effects to completely transform
your photos from rough shots into fashion
magazine-quality images. For the most part
it’s extremely easy and user-friendly to get the
hang of too, and it comes with basic presets
and sliders for tweaking your shots.
Everything starts off in PortraitPro with
identifying the face, selecting the gender and
going from there. It’s adept at editing faces
that are slightly side on, and it can manage
108
with glasses and lower resolution without
too much bother. From there, the presets
available are subtle enough that a lot of your
editing in PortraitPro can be reduced down to
just a few clicks.
New to PortraitPro 17, you can now edit
backgrounds, which is great for studio-shot
images, and this function works pretty
smoothly. There are more make-up options
than ever before, which is also good for giving
you more choice and more realism when
editing female portraits.
The sliders though are where the program
really excels, and in truth, it’s very impressive
what PortraitPro can do. Everything is
editable, from the lighting on the face to the
colour of the eyes and the shine of the hair,
meaning that whatever you want to focus on,
PortraitPro can do it. The masking capabilities
maybe aren’t the greatest, but when the other
tools are this accurate, that’s just a mere fly in
the ointment.
Whether or not it’s ethically sound
to completely perfect a subject’s face,
PortraitPro can manage it. The title doesn’t lie:
this is a professional-level piece of software
that can do some pretty amazing things, for
just £60. A must-have for portrait retouchers.
portraitprofessional.com
Summary
Ease of use
Value for money
Features
Quality of results
Overall
Portrait Professional is an incredible piece
of software, especially considering the price.
It is a powerful, easy-to-navigate program with
plenty of cool features to try out.
SOFTWARE
PhotoScape X
Is PhotoScape X a fantastic freebie? We take a look at everything it has to offer
SRP: Free OS: Windows 10 and above, Mac OS X 10.10 and above
Free software can often be a mixed
bag. Sure, there’s a lot of really great
stuff out there that can really enrich
your editing needs, but sometimes these
downloads are missing some of the editing
essentials needed for a complete package.
PhotoScape X positions itself as a free
piece of software that sits somewhere
between Adobe Photoshop and Photoshop
Elements in terms of tools and skill level. It’s
simple enough to navigate with Viewer and
Editor panels to begin with, which displays
your files before you are able to go ahead and
make adjustments to them.
The editing tools themselves vary in quality.
Some of them like HDR and Miniature are
unnecessarily powerful to the point where you
really don’t need them on full strength, while
the Colour section delivers excellent effects
to help alter the tone and contrast. Either way,
there’s a huge array of tools on offer.
Where PhotoScape X perhaps excels is in
the Film section. Here you’ll find some goodquality filters for one-click fixes. Whether you
use them as a final flourish or you want to
build on them is up to you – they are versatile
to your needs and are arguably the highlight
of the program.
For a free program, there’s a hell of a lot to
play with in PhotoScape X, but if you upgrade
to the paid Pro version you’ll unlock even
more options. Whether you want to take that
plunge or not, there’s something for everyone
with this free download.
x.photoscape.org
Summary
Ease of use
Value for money
Features
Quality of results
Overall
Not the most complete program,
but for free, PhotoScape X is well
worth trying out and exploring.
It’s perhaps best for someone of a beginner
level, looking for simpler software that
has more challenging tools available.
Inset top
Viewer
See your photo in all its glory and
view resolution and file size using
the Viewer section of the program
Inset bottom
Editing tools
Make all kinds of changes to your images from
resizing and cropping to HDR adjustments
and other more sophisticated effects
Main
Colour tweaks
Change the brightness, vibrance and
temperature, and make the picture deeper and
clearer with the sliders
App Focus
Photo E
ro
Pric Free
: Android – varies with
vi
Photo Edi
Pro real
has to be s ectacular to
stand out in i
and while it d
have
a slick interface and
cool filters, the
tools themselves
are not particula
outstanding. Its
feature though is
the collage secti n,
which can crea
great montag
of as many
photos as
you ca t.
109
REVIEWS
ACCESS RIES
Acollection of the best fun-yet-functional products out there for photographers
Above
Element-free
There are no elements inside the Mount Converter
MC-11, so the image quality produced by the lens
should be the same – but the change in sensor and
resolution will have an impact
Above
Lens extension
SIGMA MOUNT CONVERTER MC-11
With the MC-11 the lens will effectively be 2.5cm
longer than it is on a Canon camera, but that seems
a small price to pay for the convenience of using an
old favourite lens
www.sigma-imaging-uk.com
£250 / $249
With cameras like the a9, a7R III and now
the a7 III, Sony is doing a lot to tempt
photographers to full-frame mirrorless
photography. But switching an entire system
in one swoop is very expensive, so naturally
many photographers would rather look for
an alternative option.
Spotting a potential market, Sigma has
introduced the Mount Converter MC-11 that
allows Canon EF-mount optics to be used on
Sony full-frame and APS-C format E-mount
cameras. Sigma only references its own
EF-mount optics, but it is possible to use
the adaptor with Canon lenses. There’s also
an MC-11 available that enables Sigma SAmount lenses to be used on Sony cameras,
but this review is based on the Canon
version on a Sony a7R III.
As well as converting the mount of a
Canon lens to fit a Sony camera, the MC-11
110
extends the flange depth by around 2.5cm
to maintain the lens focal length. Electrical
contacts also allow the lens and camera
to communicate so that there’s the usual
control over exposure and autofocusing.
We tested the MC-11 with a range of lenses
including the Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L
USM and EF 70-200mm f2.8L IS II USM
and the autofocus (AF) worked well with
both. Neither Automatic AF (A-AF) nor DMF
modes are available with the a7R III, but it’s
still possible to use Wide, Center and Flexible
Spot (Large, Medium or Small) in both
Single and Continuous AF mode.
While the autofocus is pretty good, it’s
not quite as snappy as with a Sony optic
and it doesn’t track subjects so well into the
corners. The Eye Focus also only seems to
function with the phase-detection zone of
the sensor.
To focus manually, the a7R III’s focus
peaking system works well, but remember
the menu-based MF/AF control won’t work –
you need to use the lens switch.
Swapping from a Canon to a Sony sensor
will mean there are some changes in the
image quality, but the Canon optics still
deliver great results.
Summary
Ease of use
Value for money
Features
Quality of results
Overall
A no-brainer for any Canon photographers
with an extensive collection of lenses and who
are investing in a Sony Alpha camera.
ACCESSORIES
3 LEGGED THING
QR11-L AND QR11-FB
www.3leggedthing.com
£50 / $50 and £60 / $60
These two universal L-brackets are designed
for use with a wide range of cameras, to
enable quick switching between landscape
and portrait shooting when using an ArcaSwiss compatible ball head. Instead of
having to flip the ball to change orientation,
you just unlock the plate clamp and rotate
the camera using the QR11 in place of the
quick-release plate. There will be a slight
change in the shooting position, but it’s less
of an issue than moving the ball head and
you don’t have to do any re-levelling.
The QR11-L is suited for use with a wide
range of cameras, including models like the
Canon EOS 5D IV, Nikon D500 and Fuji X-T2,
while the QR11-FB is designed for use with
twin-gripped cameras. With some cameras
there’s reduced access to the ports, so it’s
worth checking the 3 Legged Thing website.
PNY USB-C TO HDMI ADAPTOR
www.pny.com
£36 / $N/A
Apple’s latest breed of MacBooks are great in terms
of portability, but with just one USB-C port, their
lack of connectivity is a common complaint.
If you’re going to see a client or are giving
a talk, and you need to be able to display
a slide show, presentation or 4K video from
your computer on a larger screen, you’ll need some way to
connect an HDMI cable.
PNY offers this simple solution, which at just 3.7 x 4.2 x 1.44cm
and 23g can just slip in your pocket or bag. It’s easy to use:
you just plug the adaptor into your MacBook’s USB port and
then connect an HDMI cable to the adaptor. It works well, and
supports video resolutions up to 4,096 x 2,160 at 60Hz, but it
would be helpful if there were an additional port to allow your
laptop to be charged while the HDMI cable is in use.
111
REVIEWS
PEAK DESIGN
EVERYDAY
BACKPACK 30L
www.peakdesign.com
£260 / $290
Identical to the 20L version apart
from its size, the Everyday Backpack
30L has a more ‘urban’ vibe than
traditional photographic backpacks.
Its tidy, understated styling makes
it look completely at home in a
business environment, but its
weatherproofing ensures it’s suitable
for use on a landscape shoot. One
word of caution, however: we found
that some moisture seeped into
the zip-closed laptop compartment
during a heavy rainstorm.
A large flap at the top with Peak
Design’s nifty MagLatch closure
gives some flexibility in capacity,
while openings on both sides allow
quick access to your gear. Don’t
let the neat lines of this backpack
deceive you, it can hold a lot of kit
– in fact, we were able to squeeze
in a Panasonic G9 along with
four lenses (including a 100400mm) plus a battery grip,
laptop and a few accessories.
What’s more, the broad straps
kept the load bearable on a
long trip.
SAMSUNG PRO PLUS MICROSD
CARD WITH SD CARD ADAPTOR
www.samsung.com
£50 / $80 (64GB)
As it comes with an SD card adaptor,
the Samsung Pro Plus microSD
card can be used in a wide variety of
cameras, from smartphones and action
cams like the GoPro Hero6 Black in its
microSD form, to mainstream cameras
like the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV or the
Fujifilm X-T2.
It’s a UHS-I Class 10 U3 card with
claimed maximum read/write speeds
of up to 100/90MB/s, but in our
tests we found it achieved speeds of
88.9/81.3MB/s. That speed makes it
suitable for use when recording 4K
112
video, and in a GoPro the 64GB card
has capacity for almost four hours of
footage or over 48,800 12MP images.
We used the card in a variety
of cameras and found it
reliable, but with many
cameras now offering
UHS-II compatibility,
it won’t necessarily
enable them to deliver their
maximum burst depths.
ACCESSORIES
3 LEGGED THING EQUINOX
LEO CARBON FIBRE TRIPOD &
AIRHED SWITCH BALL HEAD
www.3leggedthing.com
£300 / $350
When the word travel is associated with
a tripod it can often be a watchword for
thin, spindly legs. That’s not the case with
the 3 Legged Thing Equinox Leo carbon
fibre tripod. Naturally, the lower tubes are
quite slender, but the upper tubes have a
diameter of 23mm and the overall build
quality is very high, so they combine to
create a pretty solid support.
With three leg angles (23º, 55º and
80º), a two-section centre column and
five sections to the legs, the Equinox Leo
is versatile and adaptable, but at 1.4m
including the AirHed Switch tripod head, it’s
not the tallest tripod in the world. However,
it is one of the stronger models around and
has a maximum load capacity of 30kg. As
the Leo weighs 1.44kg, that means there’s a
load-to-weight ratio of almost 1:21.
When folded down, the Leo measures just
35cm in length, so it can fit sideways in a
suitcase and is easy to fit on the side of a
backpack or carry in the supplied bag.
Like all 3 Legged Thing tripods, one of
Leo’s legs can be detached and used as
a monopod, or a mic boom, albeit quite a
short one at 1.46cm. The leg locks are the
twisting type and have a nice chunky build
so they’re easy to grip and rotate. Their
clever design means that as you twist to
unlock them you’ll feel a dull click inside
that indicates the point of release has been
reached, which means you don’t have to
keep twisting and checking. Then when
you’ve selected the leg length you require, it
just needs a quick turn to lock it solidly.
The tripod can be purchased legs-only,
but we tested the kit that comes with the
AirHed Switch ball head. This is a wellmatched head that is small enough to hide
within the legs when the Leo is folded for
transport. It’s Arca-Swiss compatible, and
has a levered clamp that makes locking and
unlocking the release plate very quick. It can
even be flipped to suit left or right-handers.
Left
Aerospace grade
Aerospace-grade magnesium
alloy helps keep the AirHed’s
weight down to just 283g while
still giving a high-quality feel. A
large knob allows easy friction
control and secure locking
even with heavy lenses
Left
Pure carbon fibre
3 Legged Thing uses eight
layers of carbon fibre for its
leg and centre column tubes
to give strength without
excessive weight. Meanwhile
the leg locks are chunky to
make them easy to use
Summary
Ease of use
Value for money
Features
Quality of results
Overall
3 Legged Thing has put a lot of thought into
producing a high-quality travel tripod that’s
capable of bearing a heavy load yet doesn’t
take up lots of space.
113
PRO COLUMN
WRITER’S BLOCK
Publishing a book is very rewarding – the problem is, you have to write it first!
All images © Mark Bauer
S
and nothing else. As a writer of
of us. But in order to get a book
o it’s coming up to my end-of-year
photography technique books,
published, you have to write it first
exams and I have a sudden, sickening
I’m happy to get a big enough
realisation: I’m completely unprepared. – and that is, without beating about
advance to pay for a night out.
the bush, a real slog. I know quite
I’ve attended no lectures, have done
Book publishers won’t like
a few people who write for at least
no coursework and have no notes. I have a
to hear this, but it’s therefore
part of their living and not one of
rising sense of panic as I wonder what I’m
the case that book-writing
them would describe themselves
going to do about this…
tends to take second place
as a ‘natural’ writer. We all find it
When I wake up, there are a few moments
PRO BIO
to activities that will generate
very hard work.
of disorientation as I try to disentangle my
Mark Bauer is one of the
more immediate revenue and is
So it’s partly because of this
stress dream from the real world around me,
UK’s leading landscape
photographers. His latest
usually shoe-horned in between
that there is a tendency to
followed by relief as I remember that these
book, co-authored with
running workshops, carrying out
procrastinate and miss deadlines.
exams were actually thirty-odd years ago and
Ross Hoddinott, From
commissioned work and writing
But there are practical reasons,
I passed them. The dream is usually triggered
Dawn to Dusk: Mastering
magazine articles. As a result,
too. The main one is quite simply,
by the same event – an impending deadline.
the Light in Landscape
Photography, will be
deadlines get missed or pushed
Most recently, it was the deadline for my latest that there is only so much time
published at the
back, life gets a bit stressful
you can devote to a book project
book – or to be more accurate, I should say
beginning of May.
and I start dreaming about my
whilst also having to make enough
‘my late book’, as I bust the deadline more
markbauerphotography.com
university finals all those years
money to pay the bills. Unless
times than I care to remember until given an
ago. Science fiction writer and humorist
you’re a multi-million selling author and have
absolute, final deadline by my publisher.
Douglas Adams’ words seem particularly
producers bidding for the film rights of your
As a professional photographer, I still get
appropriate here: “I love deadlines. I like the
next book, you’re never going to get enough
a kick out of seeing my work in print and
whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”
publishing a book is the ultimate goal for many of an advance to allow you to focus on it
114
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