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2018-08-01 Digital Photographer

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© Mark Bauer
“The fundamentals remain the same and the
things we all love about photography endure”
Wow – Digital Photographer
has reached its 200th issue!
I started on the magazine while
issue 121 was in progress, and I
can distinctly recall wondering
what the photography industry,
and of course the magazine
itself, might look like when issue
200 rolled around.
Back then that milestone seemed a long way off,
but time passes quickly and, to be honest, things
aren’t all that different, in many respects. Cameras
have naturally improved, with greater dynamic range
and more megapixels, and more photographers are
now stepping beyond stills and exploring video. But
the fundamentals remain the same and the things
that we all love about photography endure, no matter
what technological innovations appear on the scene.
Photography itself is timeless.
With this in mind, we’ve put together a set of tips
exploring the concepts that are at the very heart of
photography, and a great number of them would
have applied equally to the days of film. At the end
of the day, photography is photography and always
will be. Turn to p34 to begin reading it.
We’ve also got a feature looking at the essentials
of file handling, from the capture stage through to
storing your files. You can find it on p70.
It just remains for me to thank you for all your
support – here’s to another 200 issues! As always,
until next time, happy photography.
Matt Bennett, Editor
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Editor Matt Bennett
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
Mark Bauer, Peter Eastway, Tina Eisen, Lee Frost,
Matt Golowczynski, Scott Johnson, Matthew Joseph,
Vit Kovalcik, Rod Lawton, Adrian Mueller, Angela Nicholson,
Matthew Richards, Alex Rotas, Simon Skellon, Max van Son,
Ami Vitale, Charlie Waite, Julia Wimmerlin, Holly Wren
Cover images
Getty Images
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© Holly Wren
Head of Newstrade Tim Mathers
Our contributors
Our Staff Writer
has taken a look
at the ins and outs
of file handling,
exploring the
concepts and
considerations involved in ensuring
a successful shoot-to-edit workflow.
Turn to p70 to read it. He’s also taken a
look at creative flash synchronisation
for portraits, and you’ll find that on
p88 of the magazine.
Lee Frost is a
master of many
different forms of
photography, and
knows how to find
something creative
to shoot at almost any location and in
most conditions. This issue, he’s taken
a look at capturing abstract rock art
when shooting at the coast, explaining
both the capture and edit process.
Turn to p82 to read it.
Gear expert
Angela spends
a huge percentage
of her time
reviewing kit,
and knows what’s
available inside out. In this issue, she’s
taken a look at six diverse accessories
to see whether they are worthy of your
consideration for your next purchase,
considering their benefits in detail.
Head over to p110 of the magazine.
Our regular
gear reviewer
Matthew has
taken his hand
to testing out
a group of
speedlights in this issue’s group
test, exploring their pros and cons
to assess which of them is the most
impressive and most deserving of
your money. Discover his findings on
p98 of the issue.
Rod is Head
of Testing
on our sister
publications and is
a consummate and
experienced expert
when it comes to cameras. For this
issue’s camera review, he has spent
some time with the new Sony a7 III to
find out if this is the best mirrorless
model on the market. Turn to p106 to
begin reading it.
Nikon ambassador
and National
Ami Vitale has
some incredible stories and moments
during her career, and in this issue’s
pro column, which can be found on
p114 of the magazine, she reveals the
story behind one of her most moving
images to date.
General Manager Matthew Pierce
Group Content Director Paul Newman
Head of Art & Design Rodney Dive
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Your Images
Shooting Skills
10 The Gallery
82 Turn rock into art
Some of our favourite images from the
Digital Photographer website
Pro landscape photographer Lee Frost
provides a step-by-step tutorial to
making the most of the smaller details
in a landscape – specifically, rocks.
Learn how to capture and enhance a
rock’s patterns, textures and shapes
for artistic imagery
22 News
The latest product announcements
and industry developments
24 Interview
This issue we chat to Max van Son
about his stunning urban architectural
photography and the skills behind it
34 200 tips to transform
your photography
In celebration of our 200th issue,
we’ve put together a mammoth
feature jam-packed with tips, tricks
and expert advice from professionals
across a range of industries, offering
their guidance on shooting, kit, editing,
choosing a subject and so much more
70 File handling essentials
How to build an efficient, organised
database of images is a hugely
important part of the photography
process, and with our feature you’ll
learn the most important steps and
skills required to do so, with advice on
how to avoid the common pitfalls
Take a new approach to shooting
portraits with this guide; employ
high-speed flash synchronisation
and increase the shutter speed for a
creative gradient effect
Print & Share
© Julia Wimmerlin
In Focus
88 Use creative flash
200th issue special:
200 expert tips
80 Build a successful
How can you ensure that your
online image gallery is an accurate
representation of your work and skill
level? Learn how to curate a successful
image portfolio with these tips
Go Pro
90 Quality control your
image library
Your portfolio needs to showcase
the best of your photographic
ability, so follow our advice on how
to periodically reassess your image
database and quality control your work
for commercial success
114 Pro Column
Ami Vitale on her heartbreaking
journey to say goodbye to the world’s
last male northern white rhino
© Vit Kovalcik
20 Story Behind the Still
Alex Rotas takes us behind the scenes
of one of her captivating sports images
and discusses how photography has
the power to challenge stereotypes
© Roydon Woodford
File handling
© Matthew Joseph
Quality control your
image library
24 82
98 Group Test
Four top flashguns are put to
the test this issue – which one
should you consider when you
need controlled lighting?
106 Sony a7 III
How does the third version
of Sony’s a7 model fare when
looked at as a complete
package? Is it the perfect
all-rounder camera, with an
affordable price tag to boot?
110 Accessories
A roundup of products for
photographers to consider
Group Test
© Ami Vitale
© Max Van Son
© Lee Frost
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The Gallery
2x © Roydon Woodford
Some of the best images
from our website
Roydon Woodford
DP Gallery address:
Image title:
Banjo Swanage
What camera, lens and settings did you use to
capture this stunning shot?
Nikon D610, 28-300mm at 100mm f6.3 and 1/100sec
exposure, ISO 100.
How did you decide on the composition?
The composition is one that I know works, as I have used
it before during different seasons, with sunrises, some
night-time shots and even waves breaking over [the pier].
What do you like most about the image?
Liking this image is easy for me, because of its simplicity
and lines on a backdrop of colour, as well as the fact
that it captures one of our local landmarks very well. It
reminds me of what a great place we live in.
Did you do much post-processing?
Not being an expert in post-processing, it was the usual
sort of processing of Whites/Blacks, Highlights and
Shadows, moving sliders to bring out the picture as it was.
Upload your images to our online gallery now for
your chance to be printed in the magazine.
Go to
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wins a 32GB MicroSDHC PRO Plus
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for professional shooting and 4K
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information visit
Mick Parmenter
2x © Mick Parmenter
DP Gallery address:
Image title:
Dance of the Egret
“A photo of a little egret, taken at
Lepe beach, Hampshire. It’s a
beautiful place – no two days are
the same, with differing weather,
tides and light. These egrets are
easily spooked, so the secret is to
position yourself in a place that you
expect them to be feeding and wait.”
Gavin Kelly
2x © Paul Reidy
2x © Gavin Kelly
DP Gallery
Image title:
Scaleber Force
“The image was taken at Scaleber
Force, North Yorkshire – a
waterfall that I have visited on a
number of occasions. I decided
to visit the waterfall again due to
the heavy snow. I wasn’t prepared
for the amount of ice that had
formed due to the extreme
weather conditions though. The
main focus was the small sections
of water falling through the large
amounts of ice.”
Paul Reidy
DP Gallery address:
Image title:
The Reading Room
“The shoot was originally to be an
outdoor art nude shoot, but due to
heavy rain a last-minute location
was needed and I was lucky to be
allowed to shoot in this old historic
house. This image has done very
well in international competitions
including representing Ireland at
the Celtic International in Wales
winning best overall colour print.”
2x © David Ball
David Ball
DP Gallery address:
Image title:
Misty Reflections
“Staying in Glencoe Village for a few
days gave me the perfect opportunity
to explore Glencoe Lochan. Upon
arriving after a short walk, I was
greeted with beautiful mist and still
waters. I settled on this composition
and after waiting 10-15 minutes, the
clouds started to disappear, revealing
the snow-capped mountains.”
2x © Premier Elipe
Premier Elipe
DP Gallery address:
Image title:
Mayon Volcano
“Famous for its ‘Perfect Cone’, the
Mayon Volcano is the Philippines’
most active volcano and a popular
tourist destination in the province
of Albay. The main subject is the
beautifully symmetrical volcano,
which has steep upper slopes
averaging 35/43 degrees, capped by
a small summit crater. An amazing
landmark in the first light of the day.”
Photographer: Marco Boria
Take a look at some of our past
Photocrowd winners and find out
how to enter the latest contest
he many competitions that we’ve run online in
association with Photocrowd have covered a wide
range of different genres, and we’ve received
an overwhelming response time and time again, with
a huge amount of entries for each and every one of
the topics. Not only that, but the quality of the work
submitted has been even more overwhelming. This has
of course meant that choosing the winners each time
has been extremely difficult, as the standard of the
entries has been absolutely superb. In this issue, we’ve
distilled what we consider to be some of the highlights
from among the contests over the past year, which will
hopefully inspire you to enter our future contests in
association with Photocrowd.
Photographer: Todd Merica
WIN! Prizes from Affinity
Enter our decisive moment contest in
association with Photocrowd
We’re looking for your best images captured in that crucial splitsecond in which the photographer identifies an event or occurrence
that’s ideal for photography, and then brings it all together in an image
that tells a story. If you’re a street or documentary photographer then
this is the competition for you; whether it’s black and white or vibrant
colour, we want you to tell us a story in a single frame. 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 all the power and
performance you’ll ever need. Speed, power and accuracy are at the
heart of Affinity Photo’s workflow, with non-destructive editing, RAW
processing and end-to-end colour management as standard. Edits
work in real 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 20 May. Head over
to to enter.
Photographer: Elena Paraskeva
Photographer: Chee Keong Lim
Photographer: Tahir Abbas
Photographer: Chee Keong Lim
Photographer: Alex Rotas
Location: Turin, Italy
Type of commission: Personal/Commercial
Shot details: Canon EOS 7D with 70-300mm,
1/1,000sec at f5, ISO 100
About the shot: Striking sports images are difficult to
capture for many reasons, notably the fast-paced nature
of the subjects and also because of the tendency to
produce a standardised ‘look’. Expert shooters like Alex
Rotas know how to get the most from any action scene.
“I’m a sports photographer with a niche remit: I take
pictures of older people doing sport. So I always want to
get a sharp-enough and a close-enough image to make
sure the face – and hence the age – of my subject is
clearly visible, together with their physical athleticism.
The shots that excite me are the ones that show
emotion, but I can’t predict when that’s going to happen.
Some athletes, like Andrew, are more expressive and
emotional than others,” Alex explains. “In this case, the
race took place under a roof that protected spectators
from the sun, so by crouching low, I was able to get
that lovely dark background (it’s very unusual in a busy
stadium to get an uncluttered background). Andrew was
running in the outside lane, so he was lit up by the sun
that shone over him obligingly from the right direction.”
Alex is a selector for photography competition Patient
Portraits: A New You, run by a collaboration between
the Royal Photographic Society and charity Heart Valve
Voice. “I was photographing the track events with
the aim of getting images that challenge the popular
preconception (or misconception) that ‘ageing’ means
slowing down, being frail and being physically inactive,”
says Alex. “Actually that’s what attracted me to Heart
Valve Voice’s Patient Portraits competition. Its remit
is to challenge the misconception that having heart
valve disease means you can’t live a vibrant, rich and
active life. I love the power photography has to smash
stereotypes.” To find out more about Heart Valve Voice
and RPS visit and
Shot at the World Masters Games in Turin in August 2013,
the biggest challenge for Alex was to find the perfect
angle, while maintaining focus on her subject’s face
All images © Alex Rotas
Andrew Webb
Triple-camera model has already achieved
highest DxOMark Mobile score
Chinese smartphone manufacturer
Huawei has ended months of
rumours by confirming its new P20,
P20 Pro and P20 Lite smartphones.
The P20 Pro is the most significant option
for the photographer, largely thanks to its rear
three-camera setup. This combines
a 40MP RGB sensor with an
f1.8-aperture lens and 20MP
monochrome sensor with an
f1.6-aperture lens, together
with a further 8MP sensor
that’s fronted by an f2.4
80mm-equivalent lens.
The front camera is also
respectable in its specs, with
a 24.8MP sensor and an f2 lens.
Huawei has complemented this
with what it describes as AI-driven
3D facial modelling technology, which in turn
allows for a similar collection of portrait lighting
options seen in other recent releases.
Perhaps the most ambitious claim for the
new model is that its new AI stabilisation
Large and clear
The front is largely occupied
by a 6.1in OLED display with
a 2,240 x 1,080 resolution
The model features RAW
shooting, 4D predictive
focus and a 3x optical zoom
Camera trio
The P20 Pro boasts
three separate camera
modules on its rear
(AIS) option is effective enough to stabilise
handheld exposures up to six seconds long.
Other photographic features include a 5x
hybrid zoom, predictive focus, automatic scene
recognition and a new white balance sensor
incorporated just beneath the flash on the rear.
The model, which has been finished
with a 6.1in OLED display, is also
capable of both 4K UHD and
Full HD video recording, with
an additional 960fps Super
Slow Motion capture option
that can output slow-motion
footage up to 32x slower than
it’s captured. Other features
include IP67 dust protection
and waterproofing, a 4,000mAh
battery and 128GB of storage space.
Huawei also took the launch as an
opportunity to reveal that the P20 Pro boasts
the highest overall DxOMark Mobile scores
of any current smartphone, with an overall
score of 109 placing it ahead of the likes of the
Google Pixel 2 and Samsung S9+.
GoPro releases budget HERO camera
Action cam company targets entry-level users with waterproof model
GoPro has confirmed a new GoPro HERO action
camera offering. The new entry-level model has
been designed along similar lines to its previous
HERO offerings, although the company is making it available
for just £200/$200, making it ideal for a beginner’s first
action camera.
Although it lacks the 4K video recording option of its pricier
HERO5 and HERO6 stablemates, the HERO still boasts a
respectable feature set for the less-demanding user. Headline
features include video recording at 1440/60p and 1080/60p,
which is bolstered by electronic stabilisation to help keep
footage stable.
The new model can capture 10MP still images and be
safely taken ten metres (30 feet) underwater. It also follows
previous HEROs in allowing helpful key operations such as
starting and stopping videos to be controlled entirely through
voice commands.
The “extremely durable” unit is finished with a two-inch
display that responds to touch, and all captures can be easily
offloaded to smartphones and tablets using the iOS and
Android GoPro app.
Furthermore, the model is compatible with the same
collection of mounting accessories as its siblings, which
allows it to be secured to bikes, bag straps and helmets
among other things.
The new model is available now from GoPro’s website
( and retailers.
Photo framing
The model boasts a two-inch
touchscreen on its rear
A new addition
The GoPro HERO is positioned
underneath the HERO5 and
HERO6 models
In other news
Laowa lens line grows
once more Newultramacroandwide
Venus Optics has broadened its Laowabranded lens portfolio with two new optics.
The company has focused much of its
recent attention on crafting affordable
lenses for mirrorless users, and the new Laowa
9mm f2.8 Zero-D expands this range.
Available in Canon EF-M, Sony E and Fujifilm X
mounts, it has the honour of being the latest Zero-D
lens, which indicates “close-to-zero” distortion. It’s
available now with a price of £499/$499.
The second lens is the 25mm f2.8 2.5-5X Ultra
Macro, which boasts a magnification of up to 5x –
way beyond what a standard macro lens is able to
achieve. The lens is said to have been deliberately
designed with a small barrel and with an extended
working distance of up to 45mm, and it can also be
used with an optional tripod collar for better supportt.
The £399/$399 optic is now available in Canon
EF, Nikon F, Pentax K and Sony EF mounts, although
optional adapters also allow it to be mounted on
micro four thirds and Fujifilm X-series bodies.
More announcements from
around the photography world
Ultra wide
The Laowa 9mm f2.8
Zero-D promises close to
zero distortion
Tokina has started a new Opera line of
optics designed for full-frame DSLRs,
beginning the series with the 50mm
f1.4 FF. The lens, which is designed for
Canon and Nikon bodies, is set to arrive
in the summer.
Leica has announced a Stealth Edition
of its M Monochrom camera, which
features a matte black finish and
engravings that glow in the dark.
Production will be limited to 125 and it
will arrive with a £13,000 price tag.
Light-field camera manufacturer
Lytro, best known for its palm-sized
Lytro camera and Illum models,
has announced its to wind down its
operations. The news comes just a
week after rumours emerged that the
company would be sold to Google.
For more news and updates, be sure to pay a visit to our website,,
and if you’ve got a story for us, you can email us at
Max van Son applies
his use of directional
lines, light and shadow
to his street life image
compositions. The
reversed person
is another form of
contrasting element
with which Max has
experimented here
All images © Max van Son
Max van Son reveals the thought process behind his award-winning
abstract architectural images and captivating street life shots
rban areas can seem
like a playground
for photographers.
The vast array of
architectural forms provide
boundless opportunities to
capture the interplay of shape, colour and
texture. Unlike natural landscapes, artificial
structures are not randomised and have
been designed to be pleasing to the human
eye. Architectural design is an art form
in itself, so images of buildings can feel
very organic. The key difficulty is deciding
what components of a scene are the best
candidates for a shot. The photographer
must ask themselves what should be
included in the frame and what elements
should be left out. Max van Son (maxvanson.
com) is an expert in creating graphic,
narrative images of buildings that tell a story
about a wider context than just a single
structure. Here he explains how he creates
his enchanting images and how he arrives at
his final compositions.
What got you started in photography? Tell
us about your early career.
My first attempts in digital photography date
back to 2010 and since then it has become
my playground, my way of seeing the world
around me. In November 2011 I sent my
first photo to an international photo salon
and since then I have participated in many
international photo competitions.
A large number of photographs have
been awarded in international photographic
Left above
Inverse Lighting
The repeating pattern
and low colour theme
contrast with the strong
warm light to produce a
clear point of focus
The spotlighting effect,
vertical lines and rich
colour here produce a
high-contrast style
The subtle lighting and
attractive curves lend
this to B&W conversion
The symmetry creates
a pleasing composition,
while the crossing
figure breaks the effect
and adds interest
“My work is
by the portrayal
of people in
– the context,
typology, society
and environment
exhibitions and international salons
of photography. I was shortlisted and
commended in the Architecture category
and was selected as the winner of The
Netherlands National Award of the Sony
World Photography Awards 2016. In 2013
and 2014 I was also shortlisted in the
Architecture category of the Sony World
Photography Awards and in 2017 I was
commended in this category.
What are your favourite subjects to
photograph and why?
With my architectural background I am
obviously very interested in abstract,
(contemporary) architecture, design,
environmental and urban photography. My
work is characterised by the portrayal of
people in architecture – the context, typology,
society and environment around architecture.
As a result of my frequent stay in urban
environments, I gradually became more and
more fascinated by the daily scenes on the
street. In addition, I find my inspiration in
capturing animals in relation to their natural
habitat. For me, it’s a kind of counterpart to
architectural and urban photography.
How do you decide on a composition for
your amazing architecture photos?
I think there is an important intersection of
photography and architecture – due to my
architectural background I have developed
a different approach to photography. This
can be seen clearly in my abstract and
architectural images. I am looking for the
singularity and uniqueness of a building, detail
or environment. As a photographer, I think it
is of great significance to bring out the hidden
qualities and values of the subject. In my view,
analysing architecture is an important factor,
to give the images a personal interpretation.
It’s a challenge to combine lines, patterns,
shapes and light to create an interesting and
original photographic composition.
What cameras and lenses do you usually
use for your shots of buildings?
I am using a Canon EOS 5D Mark lll in
combination with my favourite Canon lens, the
TS-E17mm f4L. This tilt and shift lens is of very
good quality and is suitable for both interior
and exterior photography. I also use a Sony a7
ll, mainly for interiors and street photography.
Other lenses that I use for architecture are
the Canon EF 16-35mm f2.8L ll and EF 70200mm f2.8L ll. These lenses give much more
distortion, so lens corrections are often a
necessary step. I have a Vanguard tripod and
a MeFOTO RoadTrip carbon fibre travel tripod.
How does your photographic approach
differ between your architecture, abstract
and street life images?
Both in architecture and abstract photography,
I look carefully all around the building or
Urban Wave
Deep contrasts of
both colour and tone
give a very graphic
impression, which is
a hallmark of Max’s
work. The tight crop
leaves much of
the context to the
object to see more details, characteristics
and textures, before taking any photos. I look
for mutual connections between different
components, in combination with good
light and shadows. Before I visit the location,
I assess the situation on Google Maps.
Photographing architecture and abstracts
requires a coordinated and systematic
approach. Street photography is much more
unpredictable and you have to wait for just the
right moment to capture something special.
When shooting with my Canon EOS 5D Mark
lll I am usually too conspicuous, to avoid being
noticed – with the Sony a7 ll I can more easily
[mingle in amongst] the crowd. The interaction
between people and the environment
is fascinating to photograph. Capturing
spontaneous moments in the street, in
particular ‘the decisive moment’, is obviously
a great challenge.
How do you decide if colour or black and
white will work best for an image?
I always ask myself if colour does have
a large impact on the image, or says
something about the unique appearance of
the subject. If the image really has nothing
to say in colour and there are interesting
contrasts, lines, patterns, textures and/
or great silhouettes, then I usually choose
to convert it to black and white, to create
a strong graphical impact. Due to the
omission of colour, the sense of abstraction
can be increased in certain compositions.
The mood of the scenery, in combination
with the light and abstract shadows, also
play an important role.
What are the greatest challenges you
find in your line of work and how do you
overcome these?
My interests in place, form, structure
and texture largely influence my style
of photography. I pay close attention to
composition, lighting and colour. Inspired by
minimalism and fine art compositions, I try
to simplify [mine] – I just include one or two
points of interest. Simplicity is the ultimate
sophistication. I use my intuition, personal
interests, curiosity and connection to the
subject or scenery to create something
special. It’s a challenge to turn something
ordinary into something exceptional. I like to
make photographs that leave something to
the imagination.
Do you have a favourite image from the
selection you sent us and why?
It’s difficult to choose only one, but the image
with the title ‘Inside Outside’ reflects, in my
opinion, the essence of architecture. The
interaction between ‘inside’ and ‘outside’
space is expressed nowhere as clearly as in
this museum, by choosing this exact point of
view. As a result of this position I also have
“As a photographer,
I think it is of great
significance to bring
out the hidden
qualities and values
of the subject”
created a somewhat ‘puzzling’ composition.
The colours are natural and subordinate to
the composition. This image (of the Serralves
Museum of Contemporary Art in Porto,
architect: Álvaro Siza Vieira) was shortlisted in
the Architecture category of the Sony World
Photography Awards 2014 and awarded
with a honourable mention in the IPA-Int’l
Photography Awards 2014.
Is there a location you’d love to visit with
your camera and why?
There are too many interesting locations
in the world to visit. Regarding this
question, I will limit myself to locations
in The Netherlands. I regularly visit the
docklands of Amsterdam and Rotterdam,
where there are interesting developments
in the field of contemporary architecture
and infrastructure. In the centre and the
‘Museum Quarter’ of Amsterdam, I often
walk or cycle to try to make an original
street photograph.
Max’s tips
for success
Check the location in a detailed way
before you get started; it helps you to
choose an optimal position. How are
you going to compose the shot?
Pay close attention to the play of
light, framing, lines, shapes and size
of the subject – it stimulates you to
determine correct viewing direction.
Make a clear selection of what is
important and what is not. Do you
want to photograph the building itself
or the building and its surroundings?
What message do you want to send?
Try to create a ‘harmonious contrast’,
for example between light and
shadows, large and small, and
colourful vs. limited use of colours.
If you see a good street scene, don’t
just take one photograph. Make
enough shots that you can select the
best image afterwards.
While shooting in the street, stop
checking the photo on the back
screen – by doing that you could miss
the special moments.
Above left
Below left
Arc Runners
Museum Visitor
Inside Outside
The strong curve and
moving figures give this
image a strong sense
of direction, leading the
eye around the frame
The use of leading lines
and the introduction of
the man with the red
coat lead the viewer into
the frame
The perfect alignment
of the lines in this shot
produce an abstract
element that demands
multiple views
Our Little
Here the curves and
colour contrasts draw
the eye to the centre,
generating depth
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hotographic technology may
change and develop, but most of
the fundamentals of photography
are timeless. To celebrate
the 200th issue of the magazine,
we’ve worked with eight professional
photographers to put together a
collection of tips to help you take
better photos, no matter what genre
you most enjoy shooting.
Julia is a portrait
and offers advice
for working
with clients.
Mark Bauer gives
advice based on
vast experience in
the field.
Tina Eisen
discusses advice
for portrait
creativity in
her tips.
Wedding shooter
Scott explores essential
tips for
the big day.
Charlie is used
to giving advice
on his workshops
with Light & Land.
Holly provides
her tips for
shooting better
on location.
Peter offers
his practical tips
for getting better
results in the
great outdoors.
Product and
Adrian reveals
his studio tips.
© Getty Images
Discuss the lighting Lighting can make
or break the portrait. Discuss the lighting
with the model. Explain the principles to
non-professional models to avoid a badly
lit face (especially if moving), and guide the
professional to get the best result.
Make time for creativity Running a
portrait business is 90 per cent regular
good shots and 10 per cent creativity. Always
have a creative idea for a shoot after you’ve
done the ‘regular’ portrait. These are the shots
that become viral and are picked up by social
media, and will help to promote you without
any extra effort.
Ask before sharing images Always
ask clients’ permission before sharing
their portraits on social media – even if you
are legally allowed to share your work. Be
especially careful sharing kids’ portraits.
Adapt to face shape Narrow or broad
faces can be portrayed in an exaggerated
or flattering way. Choose optics wisely: use a
longer focal length from further away to widen
the narrow face, and use a shorter focal length
shot closer to the face to narrow it down. Use
shadows to sculpt or create accents.
Use slight distortion Create unusual
portraits by using distortion to your
advantage. Using a 50mm lens on a fullframe camera from a distance of around 1m
from the model’s face will create an intense
portrait through slight distortion, as well as a
particular tension from invading the model’s
private space.
Mood is everything
The photographer is
the conductor of the shoot, so it’s
the photographer’s job to create the
atmosphere where everybody can be
most productive. The photographer’s
own mood, inspiration, dynamism, jokes
and music during the shoot help to keep
the stress down and unify the team.
6x © Julia Wimmerlin
Always try to grow No matter how much
success you currently enjoy, repeating the
same thing over and over stops your growth
as a photographer. Always try to improve your
qualification with classes, experimentation or
by learning a new technique.
Use proven business models Grow your
business using the proven Ansoff Matrix.
Start with market penetration (same product,
same clients – repeat business with birthdays,
anniversaries). Continue with product
development (new product, same clients –
new segments of business portraits, editorial,
family). Advance with market development
(same product, new clients – referrals, new
geographies). Consider diversification (new
product, new clients – video).
Do your own post-production
It becomes common to outsource
portrait retouching, and while it may save you
time, it will dilute your personal style. Create
your own workflow of editing basics and add
more value through personalised photo styling
and colouring.
Go beyond the face Portraits are not
just about the face, it’s also an overall
idea of a person. Portraits with no face can
be much more powerful, as they trigger
imagination and make the viewer concentrate
on body language.
Hold a preproduction meeting
For larger commercial shoots
directly with a client (with no
ad agency’s art direction) it’s
important that a photographer holds
a thorough PPM meeting to discuss
all the shoot details – including
overall shoot goal, number of
setups, mood board, style and light
references, styling and make-up.
Don’t limit client time Private clients
aren’t professional models. My job is
to show their character in a flattering way.
Most photographers charge per hour. I don’t
limit time and I charge per final photo that I’ll
edit. This turns the session into a self-learning
experience, brings fantastic portraits and
increases referral rate.
© Julia Wimmerlin
Have personal
projects By working
on personal projects you can forget
the usual client constraints. This allows
for greater creativity that you can later
incorporate into regular work. They serve
as shop windows and eventually bring more
business by increasing visibility.
Keep client files forever Clients may
ask you for the shots even years after
the job. It may pay back with more work/
referrals if you can provide them.
Feed the models During long shoots,
despite the possible desire to finish the
project in one go, it’s best to take a break, let
everybody eat and restart.
Make models move Capturing real
and interesting faces becomes easier
when models move – either their heads or the
whole body. Twirling, walking and turning left
or right works best for full-body and half-body
portraits. Flipping hair upwards or side to side
is great for head-and-shoulder images.
Use gestures to direct “Your left, my
right” as directions can be confusing.
Use palm inclinations and rotation to position
the model’s head and body, and show
directions with your hand instead of telling.
Discuss this before the shoot.
Perfection is boring We all laugh
at plastic faces over the internet but
we all went through [phases of] overdoing
it. Perfection does not exist so over-editing
creates boring portraits. Life and character
are the essence of a good portrait.
Create your ‘trigger’ phrases
Models/clients are not actors. If they
get too stiff make them think of something
else. Create a list of questions that will trigger
different reactions. My favourite question is
“What’s 7 to the power of 3?”
Fake the sun In the UK the
sun doesn’t always shine, so
adding a bare head flash behind your
subject pointing towards the camera
can create the effect of sunlight.
Adding a CTO (colour temperature
orange) gel will help warm up the
image and create the warm
temperature of sunrise
or set.
© Holly Wren
2x images © Julia Wimmerlin
Aim for same-day client response
In the modern era of constant
connectivity, potential/existing clients
expect same-day response to their requests.
Respecting this increases your chances of
getting the job.
Create flat lays with punch
If you aren’t blessed with natural light
in your location, add some extra punch by
bouncing a speedlight or studio light off
a white wall or ceiling. This is a great way of
quickly and easily mimicking natural light, but
watch for colour casts.
Switch to prime lenses These are
great for portraiture, and are often
used because of their superior quality in
sharpness, large maximum aperture and
focusing abilities. Try using a 50mm, 58mm,
85mm or even 105mm prime to create
beautiful portraits.
Open doors and windows Even
inside, natural light can be enough
to create a well-exposed image. Place your
subject near to and facing natural light if
possible, and make sure you open all doors
and windows to allow as much light in
as possible!
TTL makes quick work If you
are adding flash in changing light
conditions, consider using through-thelens metering. This uses your camera to
approximate the power of the flash on a
frame-by-frame basis, so as the conditions
change, the output will vary automatically.
Get two lights from one If you only
have one flash available, you can use
natural light as a rim light whether inside or
outside on location. Turn your subject so the
natural light creates a rim or hair light and set
your exposure for that. Then add your flash to
infill the subject from the front.
Reflect the light You don’t always
need studio flash or multi-light setups
for the best portraits, as a reflector can add
the punch of light you need. Start simple,
assess the light and then try a reflector before
you go and add flash – overcast days are
perfect for this!
3x © Holly Wren
Use flash
Use flash to balance images
where there is hard midday
sun. Place your subject in
the shadow or create shadow
with a scrim. Expose the shot
for the ambient light in the
background, then add the
flash to light your subject
and even out the exposure
across the image.
Take time to location hunt If you’re
including the environment in your
shot, location is key. Scout or find locations
that help tell your story, and make sure it has
the colours, ambient light and feel that you
want from your shot.
Consider what you don’t see
Shadows are just as important as
the light; what you see or rather don’t see
in an image helps to tell the story. Don’t
be afraid to leave parts of your subject in
shadow. Partially place your subject in a strip
of hard sunlight and expose for that portion
of the image.
Having a simple onelight setup in low light
can leave images feeling
flat and without separation.
To overcome this, pick
somewhere that has some
ambient or existing light in
the background and shoot
on slower shutter speeds
or higher ISOs to help
bring this out.
Use creative lens flare When the
sun hits your lens and causes flare
you can use it to be creative. Frame the shot
so the sun isn’t overpowering then bring down
the shadows in post-production to help the
image pop.
Correct temperature in Lightroom
If auto white balance didn’t produce
the correct temperature, you can change to
the exact Kelvins you want in Lightroom’s
Develop module.
Avoid harsh sunlight If you can’t
find shade, or have patches of
sunlight, use the diffusion of a reflector to
control the hard light falling on your subject
and even the exposure.
Create beautiful catchlights
Use a beauty dish or reflector to
create round catchlights in the eyes, which
can really lift a portrait. Alternately you can
use three strip lights in a triangular formation
to frame the pupil.
Eliminate background distractions
If you don’t like the look of your
location, open your aperture and create
distance between the subject and background
to blur it and hide unwanted distractions. That
way, you can look at backgrounds as colours
and shapes rather than objects, or use white
walls like a studio backdrop.
Control light direction Adding grids
to flash off-camera helps to close
down the light and make it more directional –
you can add grids to softboxes, beauty dishes
or bare heads to stop light spill and control
the direction of the light.
soft light
The softer the light, the more
natural it will feel. To create this,
keep the source of light close to the
subject and as large and diffused as
possible. Large softboxes or umbrellas
are ideal for this, but you can also create
soft light by bouncing light from a ceiling
or reflector.
4x © Holly Wren
flash direction
If you want to make the flash
you use look natural, add it
from the same direction as the
natural light. This way you are
shaping, controlling and adding
to the light that naturally
exists, thus concealing the
fact that the natural light
has been bolstered by
artificial light.
Shape light,
retain shadows
You can mimic natural light with
flash by paying careful attention to
how it falls on the face. Although you
want to eliminate drop shadows under the
eye, retaining shadows to the sides of the
face where the natural light drops off keeps
it looking authentic.
© Holly Wren
Practice makes perfect Photography
happens in the moment. While we
can’t always plan for these moments we
can practise and become confident in our
skill. Lose your fear of large-scale editorial
productions by organising your own mini test
shoots and use this as a practice run.
Get creative with props A wellplaced prop can be a way to introduce
hands without making them look out of place.
Make sure the prop fits into the story you’re
trying to tell though.
Get into the flow Once happy with
the light and camera settings, find
your flow. Don’t stop to look at the back
of your camera after every image; give the
model a chance to get into an uninterrupted
rhythm of poses and expressions.
Be creative with backgrounds
There is so much more than plain
background paper! Try introducing exciting
patterns and textures by using wallpaper and
fabric samples or nature’s own backdrops,
like bushes and fields of flowers.
Gel the light Light doesn’t just
have to be cold and warm shades
of white. Try adding some coloured gels and
watch your images come to life! Have a play
with colourful foils from craft stores before
committing to the real thing.
© Tina Eisen
with your subject
No matter how experienced your
subject might be, we all love feedback!
Tell people what works well, give them
previews of poses that looked particularly
great and let them know the mood,
expression and poses you’re after.
Add movement Portraits can feel
a bit static. Add some drama by
introducing some movement: try blowing hair
or throwing some garments to create extra
excitement in your images. Even dramatic
poses and expressions can add a feeling of
motion to your portraits.
Build rapport In order to create
images the viewer can connect with,
you need to connect with your subject!
Before taking any images, get to know them,
spend some time with them while they are
getting hair and make-up done. A genuine
human connection is very hard to fake, so
spend some time creating a real one!
Awkward hands Rule number one:
if the ‘emotion’ of the hand doesn’t
match the emotion of the face, it won’t work.
Not everyone has the ability to pose their
hands well, so it might be better to leave the
hands out than adding awkward fingers.
Get creative with your lights Flash
versus constant light… it’s not just
one or the other! Try mixing both of those in
the same shot, capturing some sharp detail
with the help of your flash and whimsical
motion at the same time!
Hail the reflector It’s not all flashes
and sunlight. Handheld reflectors (my
favourite is silver) are a lightweight, costeffective way to fill in shadows and create
stunning catchlights in your model’s eyes.
Complementary colour schemes
We’ve all heard of the colour wheel.
Try to consider these aesthetic rules and use
its theory to your advantage; try to match
clothing, accessories or even hair colour with
a complementary background colour and
create a pleasant-to-the-eye atmosphere.
Change up the
angles Free your mind
from the front-facing, ‘lookstraight-at-me’ attitude. Play
around with angles, get low,
get high, get right in there.
Create some drama your
viewers will love.
Demonstrate your vision Have an
idea in your head but unsure how to
explain it to people and put it into words?
Find visual aids! Print out images or show
digital files of things that inspire you to help
you communicate your ideas.
Work for free… lots Yes, I said it.
Use your free time for free tests. Play
with new gear, try out new lighting setups
and most importantly, meet like-minded
creatives! Build your portfolio the way you
like it, not how your clients dictate it.
4x © Tina Eisen
Get inspired Don’t just get inspired
by others’ images. Open your mind
to things around you. What shapes, colours,
patterns do you get drawn to? Define what
excites you as a human (not a photographer)
and let this help you find inspiration.
Horses for courses You’re a
photographer, not a make-up artist,
hair stylist or nail technician. These creatives
are highly skilled in their fields and possess
endless knowledge of upcoming trends.
Listen to their ideas, appreciate their input.
It will not only create amazing collaborative
results, but will also give you space to
concentrate on your own craft.
Experiment with expressions
There’s more than just smiley and
stern. Once I’m convinced I’ve got some ‘safe’
poses and expressions in the bag I ask my
models to “go wild for the next 20 images”.
You will be treated to a range of mad laughs,
scowls, messy hair and smudged make-up,
and exciting expressions that will catch the
viewer’s eye.
Study your goals Know who and
where you aspire to be. Maybe
published in a certain magazine? Study its
editorials, layouts, poses, crops. The more you
surround yourself with images you’d like to
take, the more it will become second nature to
your own style. Besides that, knowing industry
standards will help you choose the right
images during your culling process.
Get up close
and personal
Who says the whole face needs to
be in the frame at all times? Aside from
cropping out parts of it afterwards, try
capturing only the details. Macro lenses are
a great tool for creating stunning close-up
images of eyes, lips or fingers.
© Tina Eisen
Go square I’m a big fan of the square
crop, and old enough (just) to have
shot film at weddings, so sometimes revert
back to old habits… give it a try, as you might
surprise yourself.
Be brave If you have an idea, share it
with the couple; if you don’t ask, you
don’t get! If need be, take them for a drive
away from the venue to get that killer shot.
Always remember your sunscreen!
We’re outside for eight hours a day, so
sunscreen is key! P20 is a personal favourite
of mine, as one application will last all day.
Look for light Look for pockets of
light wherever you go. Walk into a
room and turn the lights off so you can see
where the best natural light is.
Use negative space As well as
leading lines, negative space is a
great way to help with the album spread
sales. Leave negative space to fill the space
with more images in the album.
© Scott Johnson
Don’t be shy! Ask your brides
to share your posts – it’s free
advertising! Also, try and tag them in where
possible so their friends can see it.
Fix distortion Architects spend years
in university learning so that their
buildings look perfect, so let’s honour them
by making sure our images aren’t wonky! A
short adjust in Photoshop will correct and
make the building perfect.
Use HDR carefully The HDR trend
seems to be subsiding, thankfully.
But HDR done correctly can work beautifully,
so a more subtle approach is needed for the
best results.
Offer teaser shots Post a teaser
shot on your social media platforms
to build hype for the main gallery.
4x © Scott Johnson
Be social savvy Facebook is okay,
but Instagram is key – as image
makers, it’s the best platform. Aim to post
three to four images a week.
Keep up to date If you’re selling
wedding albums, keep them looking
fresh. A couple won’t want to book you if
your sample albums are looking tatty! Most
companies offer sample discounts, so take
full advantage!
Invest in lights Whether it be
off-camera flash, video light or LED
panels, external lights can help to make the
perfect shot.
Always blog Show the brides that
you are active by blogging. If like me
your never have enough time, employ a ghost
writer to help. A one-hour Skype will give
them plenty of content.
Use a portable HDD I take a portable
HDD to back up on the shoot. Seagate
offers a standalone drive with built-in SD slots
to back up on the move.
Leading lines Leading lines are the
perfect way to draw the viewer into
what you actually want to show. They can
also work well as a double-page spread in
your album.
Don’t walk past it! Even the most
challenging venues can offer the most
amazing photographic opportunities, so think
outside the box when looking for locations to
shoot in.
Ask for forgiveness, not
permission! Never ask for permission,
as people will often say no… if you see a shot,
take it, then just say sorry afterwards. That
way, the shot is in the bag!
Roll with the punches Be adaptable
and flexible on the wedding day, and
remember, it’s not all about you. No matter
what shot you might want to get, it’s their
day, not yours.
detail There
is nothing more frustrating
as a print judge than seeing
the most amazing image, but
the small details are missing.
Always show cuffs where
possible, for example.
Be Instagram relevant Be
consistent with what you post on
your professional social media profiles. If you
shoot weddings, post weddings. Brides don’t
want to see a photo of you on holiday!
3x © Scott Johnson
High dynamic range If you decide
to use HDR, ensure you are familiar
with lighting ratios and don’t underestimate
the human eye and brain to detect where
these ratios are skewed i.e. too much light
drenching a foreground shadow when the
light source is in front of you.
Do your own tests Don’t trust
others to inform you about your
camera and its performance. Experiment
with all ISOs yourself and check to see when
image degradation sets in. Test at what
aperture and with what lens any diffraction
appears. Don’t sacrifice a sacred small
aperture if little or no diffraction is evident
at that aperture.
Investigate and decide Take your
eye around the entire outside edge of
the viewfinder, and make sure to do so twice
to be totally familiar with all that exists on
the perimeter. Decide whether what exists
on the outside edge supports what takes
place within the body of the image. Omit any
redundant elements. A painter would not
neglect the edges.
© xxxxxxxxxxx
A way out If there has been a
rhythmical and sinuous river or road
in your image, try and find an easy departure
for it through a corner. Better that exit rather
than slamming abruptly into the edge of the
frame in an ungainly fashion.
Don’t panic There will be
times when you may feel
‘photographically blind’. Do not panic,
as your vision will eventually return.
Any artistic endeavour is fraught
with decline of confidence,
anxiety and joy. Doubt your
doubt and build back your
Restraint and integrity For
classic landscape photography, your
audience needs to trust your image. Maintain
your integrity with restrained post-production
manipulation. A good maxim is: in-camera, on
the day.
Consider shadows and highlights
Look at where shadows are and how
deep they are. It is surprising how deep black
‘nothingness’ can dominate a photograph as
much as unwanted highlights. Find a balance.
Squint to evaluate brightness range.
Refine your vision Only acquire a
new camera if you can really justify
the expense. It’s better to develop your
perception than buy another camera that you
may not need.
© xxxxxxxxxxx
Visualise a print When looking
through your camera try and envisage
the image as a giant print. It will help you
to take your photograph seriously if you
can make the leap from the postage-stamp
size image in your viewfinder to imagining it
becoming a print 1,000 times bigger.
4x © Charlie Waite
Attend and
intend Try and
attend to all the elements within
the image you plan to make. Landscape
photographs can often be made up of
many components. Get to know all of them
and ensure that you intended for them to be
there before depressing the shutter.
2x © Charlie Waite
© xxxxxxxxxxx
Use shadows from clouds Use cloud
shadow to conceal any ugly features
of the landscape. Look up to see what the
clouds are doing and use them. Clouds that
are not in your image are often actually more
useful than the ones that are.
Create a portfolio Build a website
with all that you want to say, but no
more. Less can often equal more. Be sure
to check that all the images you present in
your gallery are your best, so that they are
representative of your skill level. Also, create
a print portfolio.
Frame up Using your hands, make
them into a rectangle to see whether
there is a photograph to be made. Possibly
make a piece of thick and durable black
card about 4 x 5 inches with a rectangular
aperture cut out of it. This will help a great
deal to remove the potential image from its
wider context.
© xxxxxxxxxxx
Use the histogram If the subject
brightness range is compressed, then
no need to bracket. Think of bracketing with
extreme contrast. Highlights and shadows will
be on the margins. Decide which is sacred.
There is no need to bracket if the contrast is
low. The histogram is all knowing and super
informative, so make the most of it.
Win a five-day photographic
holiday in Venice, Italy
£15L 0
o celebrate Light & Land’s 25th
anniversary, enter our incredible
competition to win the trip of a
lifetime by photographing Venice
over four nights in January 2019 – a
great prize worth £1,500.
Venice’s great wealth has led to some of
Europe’s finest architecture, from
the Byzantine, Gothic, Baroque and
Renaissance periods. Nowhere else can
you see such a remarkable medley of
architectural styles, and this, along with the
city’s 410 bridges, will present a neverending series of opportunities to the
photographic eye. Literature, painting and,
latterly, the movies have all contributed to
embedding the city’s mythical nature into
our minds.
For early risers amongst our party, a fine
dawn across the Piazza San Marco offers a
fabulous photo opportunity. Nothing could
be more poetic than to stand on the Rialto
Bridge looking westwards in the winter
months, as the soft evening sun reflects and
radiates in slippery golden ribbons across
the black lacquer of the serene gondola.
Next is the delightful island of Burano.
On a sunny day the toy town houses,
colourfully reminiscent of liquorice
allsorts, spill their wiggling reflections
into the canals providing the photographer
with some tantalising imagery.
This is an intensive workshop
making for exciting images of the
wonderful Venetian architecture, canals
and gondolas led by photographers Phil
Malpas and Clive Minnitt.
Light & Land prize
• Five-day workshop worth £1,500
• 26-30 January 2019
• Tutors Phil Malpas and Clive Minnitt
• Staying at Hotel Ala for four nights
• Single occupancy, breakfast
• Airport transfers from
recommended flights
To win this Light & Land competition
simply go to
and answer this question:
How many bridges does Venice have?
A 410
B 41
Entries must be received by 31 July 2018. The
winner will need to arrange their own transport
to Venice, their meals other than breakfast,
water bus ticket and insurance. The winner will
be selected at random from all correct entries
received by this date. The prize is as stated: no
alternatives, cash or otherwise, are available.
For full terms and conditions please visit www.
For more information
on Light & Land go to
© Charlie
Monitor the sky Try to monitor the
movement of the sky. If it is lacking in
interest, consider omitting it. Look at the wind
direction and prepare for a better sky than
the one that you found on your arrival.
Use your tripod If you have a
tripod, try to use it! It has two
functions. First and most obviously to allow
long-time exposures, and secondly, and
as important, it enables you to take your
photograph seriously. With the aid of a
tripod fine adjustments can be made. Think
of your photograph as being an important,
considered production.
Be the lighting director Make sure
that you are always consciously aware
of the light. A photographer must be acutely
aware of nature and the quality of light, as
well as how the light is falling on the subject
and how the light is absorbed and reflected
by different surfaces.
Be clear Big views can at times be
overwhelming and difficult to manage
and make sense of. Aim to make them
coherent and cohesive; don’t be scared of
them. Try to look for relationships, no matter
how tenuous they are. Your audience will find
Look at postcards Look at
postcards with a critical eye.
Compare relevant postcards of the same
subject. Check out photography exhibitions
whenever you possibly can. Go to talks and
fill yourself up with photography and further
your inspiration.
Develop a signature When you
look at a photograph you like,
try and unravel it to learn what it is about
the image that you like. Take a workshop
or a private one to one with a landscape
photographer you admire. Aim to develop
your own personal style.
Shoot the Blue Hour If
you like moody landscapes,
wait past the Golden Hour (or
arrive before the morning Golden
Hour) and shoot in the Blue Hour;
the cool, blue tones add an air of
tranquillity and mystery.
Explore new locations On days
when the light and weather are
poor, invest some time in scouting new
locations. Check out viewpoints and potential
compositions and you’ll have something to
look forward to when the light is good.
Make use of bad weather
Although some weather is
nearly impossible to shoot in, overcast and
dull days present plenty of opportunities. For
example, head to the coast and shoot long
exposures with an ‘extreme’ ND filter, or
go to the woods where the soft lighting
will keep contrast low and allow
you to capture plenty
of detail.
Highlight the focal point Most
landscapes benefit from having
a clear focal point and compositions are
strengthened if you exploit natural features
to lead the eye to it. Lines such as rivers and
paths are ideal, and objects pointing in from
the corners direct attention into the frame.
Shoot a project To boost
motivation, shoot a project where
you concentrate on one type of subject
or technique – for example, shooting only
monochrome or with a single focal length.
Be flexible We often plan shoots
with a particular viewpoint or
composition in mind. Don’t let this close your
mind to other opportunities; be prepared to
react to the conditions and go off plan.
2x ©Mark Bauer
Add a sense of place Many
landscape photographs are
anonymous; try to include features in your
compositions that identify your location and
add a sense of place.
2x © Mark Bauer
the rules
Most photographers are
familiar with the ‘rules’ of
composition, such as the Rule
of Thirds, Golden Section and so
on. They work well, but can be a
little constraining. Don’t just break
them for the sake of it, however
– know when this will work, for
example, when a scene naturally
lends itself to symmetry.
Less is more The best
compositions are often the
simplest. Composition is a reductive
process – starting with everything in
front of you, exclude any items from
the frame that do not enhance
the mood you’re trying
to evoke.
Enjoy the process Slow down
and make sure that you enjoy the
experience of being out in the landscape with
your camera. Your images will really benefit as
a result.
Ignore the forecast The most
dramatic light is often in marginal
conditions. Forecasts can tell us that, for
example, it will be cloudy, but they can’t
predict things like small gaps in the cloud,
which can let light through and transform a
scene. So head out whatever the forecast.
Try a new technique It’s very
easy to get stuck in a rut, doing
the same thing over and over again. To add
some variety to your landscapes, consciously
try out something different – whether that’s
night shots, cityscapes, long exposures…
anything you’ve not tried before, to kickstart
your creativity.
Use long focal lengths It’s easy to
get obsessed with wide angles; don’t
ignore the possibilities offered by telephotos
for focusing on shape, pattern and texture, as
well as their ability to compress perspective
and created layered landscapes.
Look for shapes Instead of only
looking at the details in a landscape,
look at the overall shapes that are being
made; for example, a group of rocks may
form a triangle or a line of trees may create
an ‘S’ curve. How shapes interact with each
other helps to create balance, harmony and
mood in a composition.
Respect the environment Don’t
be tempted to trample over wild
flowers or do other damage to get your shot;
the environment is always more important
than your photograph.
Use foreground interest
effectively Getting in close to
foreground objects with a wide-angle lens
is an effective technique for enhancing the
perception of depth in a scene. However, don’t
just set up in front of the nearest big rock –
choose foregrounds that connect with the
rest of the scene.
doubledistance focusing If
shooting with a wide angle
and smallish aperture,
this technique will help you
maximise depth of field without
complicated hyperfocal
distance calculations. Estimate
the distance from the camera
of the nearest object you
want to keep sharp and
set focus at double that
Learn your kit Spend time
familiarising yourself with your
camera and accessory controls. Being able
to change settings quickly and instinctively
allows you to concentrate on composition,
without the camera ‘getting in the way’.
Anticipate the light Great light
is fleeting and you must be ready
to shoot before it happens, or you’ll miss it.
So for example, to capture a rainbow, you’ll
need to stand in the rain waiting for it to clear.
Observe carefully and predict how conditions
will develop.
Choose the right height Camera
height has a huge impact on
composition. High viewpoints help to separate
planes and key elements in the composition,
therefore creating depth. Low viewpoints can
reduce separation and therefore depth, but
can be necessary if there is little interest in
the middle distance.
© Mark Bauer
Consider backpack choice It’s
wet, muddy and you need to put
your backpack down to get your camera out.
You need a design like the Lowepro Whistler
that opens on the inside, so mud doesn’t dirty
your jacket when you put the pack back on.
Lens hood flare control Direct
light hitting the front element of
your lens can bounce around through the lens
and onto the sensor, lowering image contrast
or worse, creating unwanted flare marks.
Putting on your lens hood is an easy habit to
get into and it saves problems like this!
Contrast emphasises your
subject When processing your
files to make your subject more prominent in
the frame, don’t only use exposure to make
subjects lighter or darker – consider using
contrast. Increasing the contrast of your
subject will bring it forward, decreasing the
contrast of your background.
© Peter Eastway
Pinch blacks for
impact Photographs can
look more powerful if they
have a base of solid black.
Achieve this by ‘clipping’ the
black point or use the Blacks
slider in Lightroom.
Grey card colour correction
How do you always ensure correct
colour balance? Whether indoors or outdoors,
shoot a grey card or a set of colour patches
(like the Datacolor SpyderCheckr) in a test
shot. Take one for each different lighting
condition, then use it in post-production.
3x © Peter Eastway
cool background Introduce depth
into an image by using colour theory:
warm colours approach, cool colours
recede, so warm up your foreground or
subject so it stands out against a cooler or
bluer background.
Geared heads for control Are
you frustrated every time you
release your ball head to adjust the camera
position, because it moves too far and is
difficult to fine-tune? A geared tripod head is
the solution – like the Arca Swiss D4. Minor
adjustments are very easy to achieve.
Auto ISO = easy life Travel
photographers shoot under a wide
variety of lighting conditions and the Auto ISO
feature on modern cameras is a huge help in
ensuring your shutter speeds are sufficiently
fast at all times.
Choose spiked tripod legs
High-pixel camera images are more
likely to suffer from visible camera shake,
even when on a tripod. Rather than using
the normal rubber feet, consider steel spikes
which can be driven into the ground for a
much more stable platform.
Watch your histogram’s
highlights We are more forgiving
of black shadows than we are of white, detailless highlights. To help ensure that your files
have enough detail in the highlights, keep an
eye on your camera’s histogram, making sure
it is close to but not touching the right side of
the graph.
Capture One vs Lightroom Not
all RAW processing is the same.
Different processors deal with colour, contrast
and tonality differently, so if you currently use
Lightroom or ACR, check out Capture One
and other RAW processors as well.
Grey card in editing Remember
that grey card you photographed
to determine correct colour? Using the white
balance colour picker, click on a mid-grey
square to set correct colour and apply the
same settings to all the other shots.
Keep your kit in the
cabin When travelling
by air, take a full camera kit with
you in the cabin so if
your checked luggage
doesn’t arrive, you can
still shoot.
Lenses for beautiful bokeh
‘Bokeh’ is the out-of-focus areas
in front of and behind your sharply focused
subject. It is the result of shallow depth of
field and you get the shallowest depth of
field using lenses with a very wide maximum
aperture – like f1.8, f1.4, f1.2 or f1.0. The best
news is that 50mm f1.4 and 85mm f1.8 lenses
are very affordable!
Why f22 is no good! When
light passes through very small
apertures, like f22 and smaller, it can bend
or interfere with itself, resulting in blurred
images. This is called diffraction.
Shoot wider, crop later Some
experts recommend cropping your
subject in the viewfinder as you take your
photograph, but not every image works best
with a 3:2 or 3:4 ratio rectangle. Take a step
back, shoot a slightly wider scene and then
take some time to consider the best framing
and cropping for your image during post.
Know your sharpest aperture If
you want big prints with optimum
sharpness from corner to corner, determine
the sharpest aperture for your lens. You can
work this out by taking a series of photos at
different apertures and comparing.
Beware nasty Clarity! One
of the great discoveries for
photographers editing their photos is the
Clarity slider. Images can have a beautiful
sense of sharpness and detail added to
them, but push the slider too far and you can
end up with unwanted haloes around your
subject, especially when your subject sits
against a light background.
Shower caps for protection Is
it theft to take a shower cap from
your hotel room if you don’t use it there? If it
isn’t, they actually make great rain protectors
for your camera!
Polariser best for
reflections While
polarising filters are
problematic with skies,
they are incredibly useful
for controlling reflections
on water (either enhancing
them or minimising them),
and are also great on
wet days for reducing
specular highlights
on foliage.
Silhouette on black backgrounds
Use a large softbox with diffusion in
front of it, then place the black background in
front of the softbox. The background should
not be bigger than twice the size of the object
you’re photographing and should not be
covering the full softbox. Place the object on a
small C-stand in front of the background and
capture from eye-level.
Understand chips and strobes
Make sure that the size of your
digital chip is in proportion to the flash
duration of your strobes. The bigger your chip,
the faster your strobes need to be to properly
freeze any fast-moving object.
Work closely with your
retoucher Discuss any project with
your retoucher before the shoot, so you won’t
miss capturing important additional elements,
if necessary. Input from your collaborators is
crucial for a successful shoot, especially in
regards to post-production work.
Gradual tones for food It’s
visually pleasing to have gradual
tones from light to dark on your food set.
Always put your surface at a slight angle from
your main light source to achieve that.
Shooting on white surfaces
Never shoot on white seamless.
The surface should trail off into the
background, which should be a diffusion lit
from behind with a softbox. The softbox and
diffusion should always be far away from the
surface, so the background is out of focus.
Water-resistant labels Whether
you use condensation on beer
bottles, submerge them into ice or drop them
into a tank, it’s crucial that you treat the
labels beforehand. Get separate labels from
the client, apply a translucent lacquer and let
them dry before reapplying to the bottles.
Evian for condensation effects
When creating condensation effects
on your cocktail glass or ice-cold beer bottles,
always use Evian Brumisateur spray. This is a
super-fine pure water mist spray, which evenly
distributes tiny condensation droplets.
3x © Adrian Mueller
Always work with a stylist
Always use the experience,
expertise and skill of a food, drink or liquids
stylist when shooting in these genres.
Excellent collaborators are the key to excellent
images. Great stylists are indispensable and
will elevate your work.
and setup
Always schedule a full day for
setup, test and prelight, so by the
time the client shows up on set
the next day, you’ll basically have
the first shot already captured.
This alleviates pressure, reassures
the client and your shoot will run
smoother, guaranteed.
4x © Adrian Mueller
Use ‘Sun
Seeker’ When
using daylight as your main light
source, determine the best spot to set
up within your studio or on location with an
app called ‘Sun Seeker’. It shows the exact
trajectory of the sun and possible direct
daylight interference.
Dry ice for ice cream Cut ice
cream scoops in half and put them
in a small box of dry ice. Frozen solid, place it
on set to shoot from above – with plenty of
time to spare before it softens.
Foam stabiliser for beer When
shooting beer, I highly recommend
a foam stabilising agent, to keep and hold the
foam for a little while. Usually, I do not use
any artificial ingredients for food or liquids,
but having more than ten seconds to shoot
the perfect beer head is a big advantage.
Keep fruits fresh When cutting
fruit/veggies, you can prevent
accelerated browning of the exposed surfaces
by keeping the cut pieces in cold water mixed
with lemon juice.
Remove liquids If you want to
remove liquid from a glass, use an
eyedropper, as this way you won’t have to
move the beverage off set or recompose
your shot.
Add bubbles If you are shooting
a drink that is carbonated and is
supposed to have fizz, you can always add a
little sugar to renew the bubbles.
Shoot in layers I always shoot
in layers and for great results, so
should you. Make one main overall exposure
and then concentrate lighting different
elements separately, without moving any
of the objects. Then layer each element
into the main exposure in post.
Subtlety is crucial!
Create glow When shooting
drinks, use large milky plexi as
diffusion behind the drinks. This will allow you
to create gradual tones and beautiful glow
when lighting the plexi with grid reflectors
from behind, at an angle.
Subtlety in retouching When you
work on a campaign for a longer
period of time, it can be easy to lose track of
how it initially looked. When you are happy
with your final version, always cross-check
with your initial capture to see whether you
went too far.
Shoot with real ice Using real
ice when capturing drinks is a
huge advantage, since all the little ridges,
edges and refractions are hardly matched by
a plastic cube. You will need to shoot faster
since the ice transforms, but if you shoot in
layers you will be able to take care of this
problem easily.
High-speed strobes for liquids
It is absolutely crucial to use
high-speed strobes such as Broncolor when
capturing liquids. High-speed strobes have
the ability to produce very short bursts
of light (depending on the pack, between
1/4,000th-10,000th of a second). Since the
light only illuminates the splash for such a
short time, the liquid will be frozen in time.
Clean your tripod Look after
your tripod, and it will look after
you. Care should be taken to ensure that the
joints between leg sections are not rusting or
deteriorating in any other way, as this could
prevent them from locking properly.
Bracket when in doubt If you
are unsure of the exposure, or
the dynamic range of the scene can be
adequately recorded in a single frame, simply
bracket your exposures to give you the
chance to choose the best later, or merge two
or more together in Photoshop.
Process with care It’s very
tempting to start getting more
than a little carried away with your image
processing, particularly with things like the
Saturation slider. However, less is often more
when it comes to Photoshop.
Keep the passion It’s easy to get
so caught up in your own photos
or business that you stop looking beyond this
and being a ‘fan’ of photography in general.
It will help you to stay fresh.
Only clean when necessary
Your lenses are tougher than you
perhaps think, and can be safely cleaned
provided you’re careful and sensible – but
don’t obsess over every last speck of dust, as
this will not affect your photos.
Don’t shoot sharp
Again, this flies in
the face of what every
photographer tries to
do when they start out,
but a slow shutter speed
or slight defocusing,
with the blur that
results from this, can
produce creative
Change your camera strap
Don’t just stick to the strap that
came with your camera – there are dozens of
different types available on the market, so find
one that suits you best.
Listen to constructive criticism
Photographers, like all artists, can
be defensive of their work, but don’t ignore
constructive criticism. There’s no such as a
perfect photo and there’s always something
to learn from the comments of others.
2x © Mark Bauer
© Tina Eisen
exposure mode Experiment with
the possibilities produced by blending
two or more frames in-camera.
© Charlie Waite
Zip up your bag properly This
might seem like a mundane and
obvious point, but you should always ensure
that you do this if you stop along the road
to quickly grab a photo. Failing to close your
bag fully could result in disaster when you get
back home and take it from your backseat.
Keep your camera with you
The fastest way to ensure you miss
photo opportunities is to leave your camera at
home – so don’t do it!
Use a lens hood Many people
prefer to ignore these in favour
of UV filters or a lens cap, but a lens hood
provides an excellent means of protecting
your lens from many dangers without
sacrificing image quality.
Charge a spare battery Avoid
missing shooting opportunities
unnecessarily by always carrying a spare,
fully charged battery with you. This means
that the chances of lack of power preventing
you from snapping are greatly reduced.
© Mark Bauer
Shoot with others Photographers
can be extremely private about
what they do and are protective of their
knowledge and ideas, but teaming up with
another photographer to go out on a shoot
will enable you to learn new ideas.
Make notes Whether you choose
to do this via your smartphone or
opt for the traditional pen and paper method,
it’s always worth noting down information
about lighting or locations that can be used
on future shoots.
Carry a chamois leather This can
be used to protect your camera in
the event of rain or to cover the viewfinder
during long exposures. They fold easily and so
fit neatly into any bag, so there’s no reason
not to have one with you.
Don’t rely on mono Black and
white photography shouldn’t
be treated as a means of rescuing failed
colour exposures. You’ll rarely achieve mono
masterpieces by accident.
Customise your camera Always
take the time to explore your
camera’s menu and take advantage of
the ability that modern cameras offer to
customise buttons, modes and dials.
Work with local wildlife
Don’t ignore the possibilities
offered by photographing birds and other
animals in your back garden or local park.
It’s tempting to assume that only exotic
species will impress competition judges, but
because of this assumption, local species are
often under-represented.
Research your subject
Photography is a technical
field, and an artistic one too, but both
are immaterial if you don’t have a sound
knowledge or passion for your subject matter.
Your images will be all the better for it.
© Mark Bauer
© Peter Eastway
Experiment with different
styles If there’s a type of
photography or a particular look that
appeals to you, try it; don’t just stay
within your comfort zone. This will
help you to improve all aspects
of your photography.
Don’t review
every frame As you
shoot, there’s really no
need to keep looking at
the back of the camera
after every press of the
shutter button. It only
serves to slow you
down and you will
miss a great shot
sooner or later.
© Adrian Mueller
Underexpose the ambient
Another technique that works very
well with flash is to underexpose the ambient
by two or more stops. However, for this to be
effective, you must use off-camera flash and
sculpt the light attractively.
Use fill flash correctly The
chief secret behind successful fill
flash is to ensure it doesn’t appear to be the
dominant light source. Provided it’s used only
to lift shadow areas slightly, you’ll be fine.
Support your stand When using
flash off-camera and employing
flash stands, it’s wise to use supports to
ensure the stand doesn’t topple, especially in
windy conditions.
Print your work For many digital
photographers, this has become
somewhat lost amidst the focus on social
media and online galleries. But printing
your work is very satisfying and results in
a tangible end product that you and others
can enjoy.
Keep it simple There’s no need
to overcomplicate things when it
comes to off-camera flash. One key light, and
perhaps a second flash as a hair or kicker
light, is often all that’s required.
Control flash with aperture
Opening up your aperture, from
say f8 to f5.6, will increase the output of your
speedlight. Opting for a faster shutter speed
will decrease the ambient light exposure.
Get the focus right When
shooting at wider apertures, pay
close attention to the sharpest point of focus,
especially with portraits. If the nose is sharp,
but the eyes are not, or the far eye is sharp
but the near eye is soft, the image will jar.
Go to galleries Your images will
benefit if you take inspiration from
oil paintings and other artworks, as they offer
plenty of lessons regarding light, atmosphere
and storytelling.
Use flash distance correctly
Place your flash nearer to your
subject and it becomes softer, more tightly
focused and stronger – moving it away does
the opposite, making it harder, less focused
and, due to the inverse square law, weaker.
Tell stories Photographs exist not
only as visual art but as a means
of telling stories about the world in which
we live, in a way that other art forms cannot.
Establishing a sense of the story you want to
tell will improve your work.
Use manual mode Even if you
don’t use it all the time, you
should aim to be completely secure using
your camera’s manual mode, controlling the
shutter speed, aperture and ISO yourself.
Get to know a focal length
Either by working with prime
lenses or by being disciplined with a zoom,
get to know a particular focal length and
familiarise yourself with its potential.
Look for reflections Irrespective
of the genre that you shoot,
reflections are worth watching out for, as they
can add an artistic and evocative element to
your work.
Be quick and be ready No
matter what genre you shoot, the
most successful photographers are adept at
capturing the image they want very quickly
and without fuss. This comes with practice!
© Tina Eisen
Shoot from the hip If you
want to capture spontaneous,
documentary-style images, it’s worth learning
to shoot, quite literally, from the hip – without
even raising the camera to your eye.
Practise processing Like it or
not, this is a key part of most
modern photography, and if you want to
stand out you will need to be proficient when
it comes to processing your shots.
Obscure your subject We often
want to get the clearest view
possible, but superb images can be created if
you shoot through glass, or find another way
to slightly obscure your subject.
Try creative optics For
example, a Lensbaby can enable
you to create a range of interesting effects
entirely in-camera without the need to resort
to Photoshop.
Learn the fundamental skills required for an organised
database of high-quality images
hotography has always been a two-stage process, with
significant amounts of work performed at both the
shooting stage and in processing, be it in a darkroom
or at a computer. However, this division has never
been more equal than in the digital age – the vast degree of
processing and archiving possibilities make post-shooting
work occupy 50 per cent or more of the complete imaging
workflow. Therefore, the success of this stage can be a makeor-break factor in the quality and integrity of our final images.
Handling of digital files is a vital consideration, not just in the
organisation and archiving within an image database, but also
in maintaining the quality and longevity of the files themselves.
A common misconception is that image quality is defined
solely at the shooting stage, but misuse of file transfer and
duplication methods can result in degradation and limit future
use. Good file treatment is essential to ensure maximum
quality of the end product, guaranteeing that all users, viewers
and clients receive equal versions. With regards to organisation,
it is useful to have a proven system of storing and backup that
works for you, enabling you to construct an ordered database
from which images can be easily searched for and retrieved.
Scheduling backups and categorising both your original and
edited images gives you peace of mind that you will be able to
find a shot for any possible function.
From shoot to print
By correctly taking, processing and
cataloguing images you can be
sure that the final print matches your
expectations in the field and for your
client’s needs, even years in the future
All untagged images
© Vit Kovalcik
Perfect camera-based file-handling skills by
learning how your images are treated
tonal and colour changes. Whichever format
The first stage of file handling will of course
you choose to work with, it is necessary to
occur in-camera. The process begins with file
be aware that camera work is not the same
format choice, which will determine how your
for all file types. With RAWs, it is essential
images will need to be treated later. This is an
that you fully commit to the appropriate work
important decision, since compatibility is an
process; since exposure is less fixed than
ever-shifting variable in the digital world. It is
when shooting compressed files, it is better to
possible that a format in common use today
will be largely obsolete in ten years’
calculate settings that generate the ideal
time. This is especially the case
distribution of tonal information
with RAW formats, which are
i.e. ‘shooting to the right’. With
only supported by thirdJPEG shooting, always aim to
party editing applications
capture correct colour and
for a limited period.
brightness at the moment
These days, there’s every reason
It is often suggested
of exposure, to reduce the
to shoot both JPEG and RAW files
that RAW is the best
need for file-damaging
at the same time, as memory cards
format in which to
software edits. This
with large capacities are now more
shoot, due to the
can be done by taking
affordable and ubiquitous. This
extended processing
custom white balance
enables you to decide at a later
possibilities. The file
readings or using a preset
date whether you want to keep
sizes of these images
and bracketing exposure,
all the RAW files.
should not be overlooked
to capture a full tonal range
however – RAW files are
across multiple files where
considerably larger and take
necessary. You should also adjust
up more memory card and hard
other parameters, such as sharpening
drive space than JPEGs. This may impact
and contrast, based on the current scene.
your archiving and back-up schedule, as
When deciding which format to use, assess
file moving takes far longer and additional
which characteristics are most desirable at
‘sidecar’ files, containing processing data,
the time. RAW can be your standard option
must also be monitored. Conversely, JPEGs
for scenes with difficult tonal range control,
offer advantages in space saving and transfer
while JPEGs are the best option when space is
times, yet provide little scope for making major limited and the end use of the image is known.
RAW compression
Why would you want to compress your RAW files? Learn the main advantages
While it’s common knowledge that JPEGs are
‘lossy’ files (some valuable data is removed),
RAW compression is a less-familiar concept.
RAW files are often compressed slightly by
default, to reduce the space they occupy on
a memory card. There are several options
for compression levels available on many
cameras, each with variable usefulness.
Uncompressed RAWs are impractically large,
while the Compressed option can strip too
much data. Ensure your camera is set to
Lossless Compression, which will package
data for later decompression in software –
the best balance between size and versatility.
Tonal advantage
In scenes with tones
extending to the
extremes of the
camera’s dynamic
range, 14-bit files
offer more in terms of
detail recovery
studio lighting
Under constant
lighting conditions,
where you have full
tonal control, it is
possible to shoot
in 12-bit mode for a
quicker workflow
© Peter Fenech
Quality JPEGs
When JPEG file size
is desirable, get your
exposure and colour
perfect in-camera.
Adjust contrast,
white balance and
sharpness for printready results
Learn bit-depth essentials
Beyond RAW compression, you should also
consider tone capture per pixel
It is also possible to select how many tones are stored
in each colour channel in your RAW files, on a per-pixel
basis. The default setting is usually 12-bit, which will output
smaller files but will place less data in highlights and
shadows. 14-bit RAWs contain 4x the information, making
it easier to recover tones in the brightest and darkest areas
of an image. The files are significantly bigger, but unless
you are working in a controlled lighting environment, 14-bit
is the best choice. Switch bit depth from the camera menu.
There is more to transferring and cataloguing images than you might imagine
– learn how to avoid the common potential pitfalls
Creating an ordered image library is of utmost
importance for a professional photographer,
where the rate of image production is likely in
region of several hundred per week. Learning
to correctly and efficiently separate usable
files from rejected ones for easy and rapid
retrieval is where many people fail. There
is little more frustrating than being unable
to find an image that you know will suit a
specific function or client, several years after
it was originally created. Using archiving
software such as Adobe Lightroom is a first
step to solving this issue, but learning to
use it effectively is a further challenge. When
starting out with a new collection of images,
be it your first Lightroom Catalog or a series
in a new genre or with new equipment, it is a
good idea to define an organising schedule
at this early stage. This will help avoid the
common problems faced by inexperienced
users. A frequent example is where Lightroom
loses track of the source RAW files on the hard
drive. This can be caused by moving these files
between subfolders, or keeping them on an
external drive that is subsequently removed
from the system. A possible solution is to
“A mistake is to fill a memory card until the
camera registers it as full, as the image
counter is based on average file sizes”
store all your images in a single folder, which
may seem counterintuitive, but will simplify
the linking process for Lightroom. Secondly,
unless a good tagging strategy is devised,
searches within Lightroom can be ineffective.
The same is true of rating images – unless you
have a well-established system, using a mix of
flags, stars and labels can be confusing in the
long-term. It is better to use only one of these
methods, to streamline the screening process.
Before even transferring files to a computer,
there is room for error in the photographer’s
treatment of them. A very widespread mistake
is to fill a memory card until the camera
registers it as full. This can result in corruption
of some or all of the other files on the cards,
as the image counter is based on average
file sizes, so sometimes there is insufficient
capacity to support an image.
Streamline your cataloguing workflow
Sidestep archiving difficulties by working out the easiest and most efficient process for you
Use fast
readers If
you have
invested in
cards, choose
a quality card reader to get the most benefit
from the fast read speeds. These will be
more efficient than transferring directly from
the camera, with faster file movement and
image render previews.
Instead of
or using a
complex folder structure on your hard drive,
sub-categorise files within a Catalog, using
Collections. This will enable you to quickly
isolate related images in the future, while
also minimising the chance of broken links
to source files.
images from
a card, select
the option in
Lightroom to exclude suspected duplicate
files from the transfer. This will avoid
cluttering the Catalog with multiple versions
of images, which can result in confusion
when reviewing shoots in the future.
and rate
Once the
images from
your shoot
have been
and arranged
within your Lightroom Catalog, it’s now time
to assess each for sharpness, exposure
and composition. Apply simple star ratings
or flag stand-out images for further
examination. Add file-specific tags at this
stage if required.
to two
Assign two
drives to
receive a
copy of the
files from
the memory card on import. Choose a main
destination folder for your import and then
select ‘Make a Second Copy To’ from the File
Handling tab in Lightroom – an excellent
time-saving step.
files As
you review,
immediately, to remove them from the
Catalog. You can choose to delete the
source files from the drive or simply to
delete the preview from Lightroom. For
images that may be useful elsewhere,
choose to remove from the Collection only.
Avoid common
cataloguing mistakes
Be aware of these key errors and quickly
identify where challenges may arise in future
© Peter Fenech
In a photographer’s tight schedule, the last thing
we want is to be unable to find images, or realise
we have lost hours of editing work. Practising a
logical workflow will help to prevent these issues.
Mistake: Forgetting to appropriately tag all files
from a shoot, so some are missed in searches.
Answer: Add tags to all images from any given
shoot on import. Use Lightroom to apply specific
tags to every image simultaneously.
Mistake: Image tags are too general so searches
are less effective.
Answer: Perform test searches periodically to
find the most common and usable tags for your
regular work. Add these as standard, then apply
secondary, shoot-specific tags.
Mistake: Splitting files between folders so that
Lightroom Catalog links are broken.
Answer: If using Lightroom, keep all relevant files
together on your hard drive, in the same folder.
This will help LR keep track of all source files.
Mistake: Relinking a Lightroom preview image to
the incorrect source RAW file.
Answer: Save your processing settings as a
preset, so that edits can be quickly removed and
reapplied to the correct image.
Geotag your files
The importance of tags
Big-screen quality
Use an external or in-camera GPS
device to embed location data
into your images. This will enable
searches based on place and time
Adding tags not only makes file
searching easier, but a well-tagged
file will have greater appeal for a
potential client
Wait until you have checked quality
on a large computer monitor
before choosing to delete files. The
camera LCD can obscure potential
Mistake: Backing up the Catalog to the same,
default destination, so no redundancy exists.
Answer: Change the Catalog backup destination
to an external drive in the LR Preferences
dialogue. This will create a true, remote backup,
along with your RAW files.
Mistake: Exporting sensitive image metadata
and distributing this to clients and unknown
third parties.
Answer: By default, all camera data (including
serial number) is embedded in your images.
You can remove this by copying the image
to a blank Photoshop document or by using
specialised software.
© Peter Fenech
Above top
Mistake: Failing to back up the Lightroom
Catalog, placing image edits at risk.
Answer: Remember to create regular backups, so
that all processing information is duplicated and
safe, in the event of hard disk damage.
Mistake: Using multiple Catalogs.
Answer: While new Lightroom Catalogs can be
created to group files, this adds complexity to
your archiving strategy. Unless you are highly
experienced with LR, use Collections instead.
Choose your
storage option
Images can be stored on
physical drives or online. Each
option has its pros and cons
While local storage (on the hard drive of the
computer used for editing) allows instant
access to files for review and processing, it
is a standard practice to back up to at least
one other external hard drive. This ensures
there is a duplicate of all files in the event
of a disk failure. However, cloud storage is
an easy way to add an off-site collection of
duplicate photos to your back-up structure.
Even if there are three separate local backups,
all can be lost due to fire, flooding or theft.
Online storage can slow the process of
cataloguing however and it also relies on a
stable Wi-Fi connection to be usable, which
can be problematic while travelling. Cloud
backups should be seen as an additional line
of defence against file loss, but should not
be used as an ‘active’ database from which
images are sourced for editing and output.
Learn the correct process for safe storage,
backup and long-term archiving of files
Furthermore, new operating systems result
The age of digital technology has brought
in outdated software support, and ongoing
with it great advantages in the ease and
camera updates can make some memory
efficiency of which we can store and retrieve
card types obsolete. There are several options
our work. Whereas, during the days of film,
that enable us to safeguard our images in
large amounts of physical space was required
to safely store negatives and prints, now digital the long term. Storage can be done on both
physical drives and online, both of which have
images can be kept in their thousands within
their own benefits and costs. It is a good
electronic repositories. For working
practice to use both, to ensure
professional photographers,
there’s a compromise between
this also provides significant
speed of accessibility
time-saving benefits,
and adequate safety, so
allowing files to be rapidly
that there is always a
found, adjusted and
It might be tempting to delete a
redundant backup of
distributed to clients.
RAW file once you have processed
every file in case of drive
However, there are also
and outputted it to a JPEG, TIFF
failure or damage. With
reciprocal challenges
or PSD file, but retaining the
regards to a back-up
to tackle, namely the
RAW original enables you to
protocol, it is highly
need for a water-tight
revisit your images at a
advisable that images are
back-up strategy to
later date to produce
copied from the memory
avoid potentially massive
different – and perhaps
card onto a more robust
irretrievable data losses.
superior – edits.
device, immediately after a
There are also issues relating
shoot. Similarly, edited images
to the continuous evolution of
should be duplicated to a second
technology and the consequences
location soon after their creation. It is a useful
this has for file longevity. As new cameras
idea to create a folder or Lightroom Collection
are released, these introduce unique RAW file
specifically for multiple, differentially
formats, for which processing software must
processed versions of your images, which will
be constantly updated. To avoid exponentially
also be present in two locations. To combat
growing programming difficulties, software
outdated files and software, a popular solution
manufacturers must periodically remove
is to convert RAW images to a universal
support for older formats, meaning
format, such as DNG, and to save any edited
photographers must take measures to ensure
images as PSDs with layers fully intact.
they future-proof their images.
Top left
Choose your file format
You can never be certain how
your files will be used in the future.
Choose TIFF format for lossless
archiving, especially for shots
containing delicate tones
Far left
Pair edits and originals
Create a folder structure that
makes searching for processed
images simple. Store these in the
same folder as your RAW files, so
they are sequential in your Catalog
Create virtual copies
If you want to avoid generating
multiple TIFF files, create virtual
copies in Lightroom, so you can
apply varied editing. These will all
be saved within your Catalog
© Peter Fenech
Safeguard your photographs
Keep largest colour space
Pro photographer Vit Kovalcik ( explains the ideal procedure for safe file backups
Safely keeping your images backed up is a process that begins at the shooting stage. For professional assignments,
valuable files need to be safe from loss from the moment of their creation, to their final output.
Use two cards Memory cards have the
potential to fail; if your camera features
a dual card slot be sure to use two cards
simultaneously, so your photos are safely
stored from the moment you hit the shutter.
Don’t erase prematurely After you
copy the contents of a card to the
computer, there is no need to delete files on
the card immediately. Keep the data there as
a temporary backup until you need the space.
Back up to offline disk Disks that
are connected 24/7 to your computer
are not immune to a ransomware attack or
an electrical catastrophe. Doing a manual
backup once a month to an offline disk is not
fun, but might be well worth it one day.
Make a cloud copy Depending on your
connection speed and the amount of your
data, there is an option of doing free or paid
cloud backup. Storing your images far outside
your house might provide another level of
safety, if you trust the cloud provider.
For archiving purposes, save your images
using the Adobe RGB or ProPhoto RGB
colour spaces, for the maximum possible
colour information
Mirror your files As a measure against a
disk failure it is vital to have a secondary
copy of its contents. The most straightforward
might be a RAID array or an automatic daily
copy of your files to another physical disk.
Convert to DNG For extra futureproofing of your photos, consider
converting RAW files to the DNG format,
which is trusted and universally recognised.
You can be sure that it will remain readable,
even after many decades.
Show the world your best work by
learning to curate a representative gallery
It is safe to assume that the majority of digital
photographers will have some form of webbased image portfolio. Whether this is a Flickr
profile, Instagram account or 500px page,
the function of such a portfolio is to prove to
viewers and prospective customers that the
photographer is capable of producing highquality work. It is therefore essential that the
gallery is well designed, informative, attractive
and engaging. It is common for portfolios to
become overcrowded, disorganised and out
of date, lessening the impact of the featured
images, regardless of their individual quality.
Be aware of the common problematic areas
and protect the integrity of your brand.
Consider processing style
Keep to a theme
Beyond the evolution of your shooting approach, your image processing
style may also change through time. Remember to consider this
as you choose new images for your collection and decide which
older files should be replaced. A photo can be radically changed
in appearance by differential processing, so older images
may highlight a shift in your work. This may be a positive and
engaging factor, but re-edited images may no longer fit the
continuity of your portfolio, so exercise caution.
It is important to consider colour and
shooting style when sorting the order of your
images on the main page (or ‘camera roll’
view) of your gallery. While variety is certainly
desirable, having a collection of vastly
different shots together often results in colour
clashes, which are harsh on the eye. In such a
case, each shot will be jostling for attention –
counterproductive for a multi-image portfolio.
Frequently check how
well your images fit
together on-screen.
thumbnail view
The majority of
online platforms
feature a
which displays
images as
Predicting how
this will look, and
how the impact of
each photo will be
affected, will go a
long way to ensuring
you create a portfolio
that encourages
image visits and
repeat views.
Crafting a successful gallery of images is an
additional skill every photographer should
learn. While it is possible to use the internet
to access a huge audience, you only want
to reveal your very best work, in a style that
generates maximum ‘hits’.
A common
beginner’s mistake
is to upload many
images from the same shoot, all showing a very
similar view of the same subject. While there
may be several files that are worthy of attention,
your viewers don’t necessarily want to see them
all together. Often, the varying composition
can degrade the integrity of a neighbouring
image, if it reveals extraneous information that
alters context. Isolate the best shot from your
series and ensure your audience focuses on the
greatest aspects of that image.
older images
Take the time to
regularly revisit your
image database
and cut older, less
up-to-date images.
Files shot six years
ago are unlikely to
reflect your current
skill level, especially
in niche areas of
Your gallery
should not
show your
‘journey of
as this is not
what potential
clients want to
see. Try re-editing
the image to appear
more in line with your
present brand.
Titles and captions
Decide to either add or omit captions – it can make
your site look messy to feature a variable amount of
information on different photos. Furthermore, try and
standardise your title and caption format, both in length and
content. Aim for a concise and informative style.
w w w. p h o t o s h o p c r e a t i v e . c o . u k
from all good
‡ Striking imagery ‡ Step-by-step
step guides ‡ Essential tutorials
Print edition available at
Digital edition available for iOS and Android
When dull weather rules out grand vistas,
fill your frame with geological delights
Difficulty level: Intermediate
Time taken: 30 minutes
There’s nothing more frustrating
than planning a hard-earned day out
with your camera, only to find that
the weather fails to live up to the forecast or
your expectations. Grey skies and flat light
are hardly conducive to dramatic landscapes,
and your initial reaction may well be to pack
up and head home.
But don’t be so hasty to throw in the towel.
Landscape photography isn’t just about
grand vistas – small details in a scene can
also be a source of great images, and they
actually suit the soft light you can find on
those dreary days.
This step-by-step tutorial is all about
shooting details in rock. You never have to
travel far in the countryside or on the coast
to find a lump of rock, and if you take a closer
look, you’ll often see that it’s full of beautiful
shapes, textures, patterns and colours; almost
a representation of the landscape itself, but in
miniature form.
Shooting rock details is easy. You don’t
need any exotic optics or advanced
techniques, just a keen eye. And plus, you
can still take great rock images even on rainy
days; with your camera pointing down, you
can stand under an umbrella and shoot away,
without worrying about your camera getting
soaked or any raindrops on your lens spoiling
the shots. Wet rocks often look better than
dry ones too!
Sedimentary swirls,
Spittal Beach near Berwick-upon-Tweed is the
location for this image. At low tide, a band of colourful
sedimentary rock is revealed and you can spend hours
shooting amazing shapes, swirls, stripes and colours
All images © Lee Frost
What you’ll need
Remote release
(in the rain)
Find the location Interesting
rock formations can be found all
over the coast and inland, so keep
your eyes peeled when you’re out
and about and make a note of any
promising locations. Sedimentary
rock works well as it often contains
different-coloured bands.
Set up your equipment
Mount your camera on a tripod,
compose the detail as you want
to shoot it and focus the lens. Set
your DSLR to aperture priority and
the lens to f8 or f11. Getting the
exposure correct should be easy,
but use exposure compensation if
necessary to correct any errors.
Take the first shot Start to
look for any interesting lines,
colours, shapes, patterns and
textures in the rock. Once you’re
happy with the composition, take
the shot then assess it on the
preview screen and ask yourself
how it could be improved. The first
take is rarely the best.
Move to another spot It’s
always worth having a look
around the location for other
options as you can often shoot
many different images in a small
area. Remove sand and other
debris if necessary (carry a small
paintbrush for this job), or you can
splash water on the rocks to add a
wet look.
Add a focal point If the shots
lack scale or depth, consider
adding another element. This
colourful pebble was found nearby
on the beach, and though it was
added to the composition, there’s
no reason why it couldn’t have been
there naturally, washed onto the
rocks by a wave.
Develop the idea Often, detail
shots evolve as you experiment
with ideas and compositions. In
this case, the addition of a pebble
worked, so that idea was developed
by finding and adding more pebbles
on a different area of the rock
formation. The swirls and lines in the
rock carry the eye towards them.
The setup
These rock formations are
only accessible when the
tide is receding, so it was
important to check tide
times in advance.
The weather on the day
was dull, cloudy and damp,
creating perfect conditions to
shoot rock details as the light
was soft and contrast low.
Time was spent looking for interesting
details in the rock formation and the
shots were taken using a full-frame
DSLR and 24-70mm zoom.
Convert to
black and white
Simplify your rock images by
removing colour
The main images in this tutorial rely on colour
for much of their appeal. The subject matter
was naturally colourful, so making a feature of
that colour was relevant and effective. However,
the majority of rock formations you’re likely to
encounter in the landscape are usually quite
drab, so don’t feel that the final images always
have to be in colour. Converting detail images
to black and white can work well as it helps to
focus attention on textures and shapes. You can
also boost contrast to make the tones bolder
and really strip the image down to its bare
bones. The conversion can be done during RAW
file processing, or in Lightroom or Photoshop.
Alternatively, use a third-party application like
Silver Efex Pro 2.
Open the RAW file To begin
we open the RAW file in Adobe
Camera Raw in Photoshop CC
2018. It’s fine in terms of the
composition and exposure, but as
is usually the case with a RAW file,
it appears a little flat.
Try the Auto tab Select the
Auto option under the Basic
menu to see what Photoshop will
do to the image. It tends to work
much better in the latest version
of CC, but in this case the image
appears underexposed.
Make basic edits Click the
Default tab to take the RAW
file back to its original state.
Next apply Lens Corrections and
Profiles, then adjust the Tone
Curve to brighten the image and
boost contrast.
Perform final tweaks To
finish, increase Clarity to +10
to enhance the texture of the
rock, the Vibrance to +29 to boost
colours and select the Auto option
under White Balance, which
increases the colour temperature
from 6,900 to 7,500.
Rock art
Boosting colour, contrast and clarity
transformed the rather flat-looking RAW file
into a striking fine art image. Basic editing is
often all you need
Use creative
Learn to utilise shutter speed to create an
attractive light gradient effect for flash-lit portraits
Every DSLR camera has a maximum
shutter speed at which there can
be effective synchronisation with a
flash unit. The flash duration must exceed or
match the duration of the total exposure, or
the scene will not be evenly illuminated. This
can be a major problem, as using flash limits
the usefulness of shutter speed as a means
of controlling brightness – without adjusting
aperture, the scene may be overexposed
at the locked 1/200sec that is standard.
However, if used in moderation and with
the correct camera mode, the otherwise
undesirable frame darkening can be used
creatively. By employing high-speed flash
synchronisation and increasing the shutter
speed above the maximum limit, a feathered
brightness gradient is introduced. This helps
to direct the viewer’s focus within the frame
and gives an image some visual ‘weight’ at
the bottom of the composition. This is a very
popular technique with portrait and wedding
photographers, especially when on location,
where extraneous detail may compete with
your subject for attention. It is also a very
easy technique to learn and can be employed
without requiring further kit investment. You
may find that you have to use an external
flashgun for this work, as some built-in
camera flashes won’t be able to utilise the
high-speed mode.
Attach the flash Begin by attaching an
external flash unit or turn on the camera’s
built-in flash. Diffuse the light as required
for a softer spread appearance. Ensure
there is good ambient light in order to avoid
background underexposure.
Flat lighting
While lighting is even and pleasant, it is overly
uniform, meaning the intended focal point of
the image (the face) is unclear to the viewer
Meter the scene (Av) In Aperture Priority
mode, calculate an appropriate overall
exposure, using matrix or evaluative metering.
You can use TTL (through the lens) flash
metering for accuracy, or you can adjust for
flash light later.
Switch to Manual mode TTL flash
metering can vary in its reliability from
scene to scene. To avoid any unpredictable
exposure changes as you compose your shot,
use Manual and enter the settings suggested
by the camera in the previous step.
Added dimension
By shortening the exposure
by a couple of stops, a subtle
light falloff effect is introduced,
drawing attention to the
important area of the frame
Set flash sync mode To enable you
to raise the shutter speed above the
native max sync speed, enter the camera
menu and choose the highest possible flash
synchronisation setting. Some cameras may
have a single High Speed option.
Increase shutter speed Use the
command dial to shorten the exposure.
Start at around one stop above the max sync,
then progressively increase the speed until
you get the desired effect, using the LCD to
review your progress.
Adjust exposure Depending on the
amount of ambient light, you may have
to adjust the flash output in order to better
blend with the background. If parts of the
scene darken too far, increase f-stop or ISO to
balance lighting.
Building a
Quality control is an
essential step in ensuring
clients always see the
best of your work – early
impressions can secure
work in future
All images © Matthew Joseph
Self-assessment of our own work is one of the
hardest things a photographer has to learn to do
Use 100% zoom
While ‘pixel-peeping’ is not always a realistic way of assessing image quality, it can often be a beneficial exercise
For commercial purposes, zooming in to 100% magnification in your image archiving software, such as Lightroom, ensures there is a
quality buffer between your informed standards and the expectations of the end user. Submitting an image with more resolution than is
likely required, or with insignificant visible noise at 100%, can guarantee there is little cause for a picture agency to reject your work. While
images may seem harshly judged using these magnifications, employing the highest standards as a reference covers your files for almost
any potential usage – especially important if you don’t know what the final function will be.
The importance
of content
Matthew Joseph always excludes
the obviously unsuitable images
first, but considers the success of
the content and atmosphere to be
of greater importance than
absolute technical perfection
Local quality
Sometimes it is best to assess
image success based on key areas
of the frame. If the face in a portrait
is ‘perfect’, the shot may still be
acceptable, despite any minor
flaws elsewhere
The RAW advantage
Like many photographers, Matthew
Joseph shoots in RAW format by
default, since this offers the greatest
opportunity for maintaining quality
throughout his shooting and postproduction workflow
nsuring that the images you supply
to your customers are of the highest
possible quality is a deceptively
challenging task. While investing
in professional equipment and perfecting
your technique will provide more consistent
results, shooting files is only one stage
of the output process. Sorting an image
database and isolating the best photos from
a particular shoot is a skill in its own right.
The working photographer has to establish
that their images are fit for purpose and are
aligned with the required functions expected
by the client.
The first stage is to determine what
the term ‘quality’ means in any given
circumstance. What is desired by one
consumer is not necessarily considered of
utmost importance by another. While stock
agencies aiming for sales to poster and
magazine publishers are likely concerned
with absolute sharpness and even lighting, a
newspaper picture editor may place more
emphasis on subject, context and timing. For
a breaking news story, successfully capturing
an illustrative image in the right place at the
right time is more important than technical
perfection. Be sure that you offer your client
what they need for their current project
by defining the parameters of what makes
a successful image, while sorting files for
deletion or archiving.
An effective strategy is to pass images
through multiple stages of assessment –
which allows comparison to similar frames
– to make an informed decision about which
is the most appropriate. At the initial stage,
run through the images in a timeline view in
Lightroom or Adobe Bridge, assigning a quick
star rating as you go. There is often limited
use in applying a scaled rating at this point;
a two or three-star label won’t indicate a
usable image anyway, so a better strategy is
to eliminate these files from your library now
and avoid a convoluted rating system. Simply
star any stand-out images and delete failed
“Offer your client what they need for their
current project by defining the parameters
of what makes a successful image”
your portfolio
Periodically reassess your
online galleries to give first-time
viewers a good impression
Even shots that are not destined for
direct sale to a customer, such as
those used to advertise your own
work, should be reassessed from time
to time. As your style changes and
your skills improve, refresh your image
portfolio to check all compositions
are on-brand. Every six months, revisit
your homepage and replace shots you
no longer want people to see – this is
your ‘shop window’, so only the best
possible shots belong here.
While sentimentally significant to you, viewers won’t
always connect with your images in the same way.
If you have to justify its presence, an image has no
place in your portfolio
shots – all other images are worth further
scrutiny, or may be useful in the future.
Always make image assessments in a
‘clean room’ – a space with neutral-coloured
walls (mid-tone grey is the best ambient
colour) and no direct, undiffused sunlight.
This will work around issues relating to
colour misrepresentation and exposure
discrepancies induced by the vision of the
examiner. Always calibrate your monitor in the
same room as you intend to analyse and edit
your work, to circumvent unexpected colour
and brightness shifts. It is also a sensible idea
to save multiple edited copies of your images,
to give you several file choices later and to
increase the chance of you having an image
that matches client requests. This may relate
to variances in image resolution, sharpness
and composition.
Whenever starting out with a new camera,
lens or computer monitor, try making test
prints on different media to create a reference
for future image workflows. When gauging
image quality on-screen, use the printed
samples to form an idea of how the image will
appear to the client. This may help you make
a choice between two shortlisted files. For
archiving purposes, choose a lossless format
such as TIFF to be certain that your qualityassessed files are not altered by compression
at the final step. Finally, use a side-by-side
view to compare the outputted TIFF to the
original RAW, to ascertain if processing
has resulted in software-induced noise and
banding artefacts.
“Always calibrate
your monitor in the
same room as you
intend to analyse
and edit your work”
Left above
Consider context
Before assessing the files from a shoot, define the
characteristics you feel will and won’t be desirable to
your clients, and use these as a template
Left middle
Remember composition
The term ‘quality’ also refers to composition, as well as
exposure and sharpness. When presented with multiple image
versions, pick the file with the most usable and versatile framing
Left bottom
Resolution matters
Always provide customers with the largest files you have
available, to increase their usability. Matthew Joseph uses the
longest pixel dimensions of his files as a reference
Pro case study
Matthew Joseph
(matthewjoseph. explains how
he sorts the masterpieces from
the misfires
For how long have you sold your
images commercially?
I first got paid for photography when I
was 16, so I started young! I’d say that I
really started working consistently with
commercial clients about seven years ago.
How do you decide which images from
a shoot meet the necessary quality
standards for commercial sales?
I like to think that I understand commercial
branding, marketing and advertising – I’m
always thinking from that point of view.
Regarding quality standards, there’s
no questions really – you get rid of the
misfires, focus misses, lighting errors, bad
compositions and only ever submit what
you’d be happy seeing on the biggest
billboard for eternity! Copy space is a big
consideration and over the years I’ve spent
a lot of time visualising in 16:9 and thinking
about web banners. They must be sharp,
the exposure must be good and they must
fit the brand and brief.
How do you organise and archive your
files for the highest quality?
Always keep RAWs, shoot RAW and edit
in RAW. After retouching, these are
exported as TIFFs and I judge size on pixel
width of the longest edge, which changes
between DSLR and medium format.
Clients receive high-res JPEGS, but in
reality, medium-res is more than ample for
most applications these days. I then resize
those JPEGS into another low-res format,
which will be for my application – sending
to people, mood boards, blogs, websites,
social media etc. Always remain nondestructive as much as possible!
How would you define your
photographic style?
I call myself a people-based advertising
photographer and whatever I’m shooting,
it’s mainly about putting people at the
centre of everything. People say my work
has a ‘sheen’ or ‘gloss’ to it, which is
quite different to the more raw and gritty
approach that a lot of UK photographers
go for. Colour is very important to me and I
don’t tend to shy away from bold palettes.
Matthew Joseph’s top tips
for commercial success
Ask ‘so what?’ to every one of your images. If it doesn’t
move you, then why is it there?
Learn how to separate emotional attachment to an image,
from whether it actually says something to others or
answers the brief.
Consider your colour palette – is it consistent and does it
flow? This is always a work in progress with me.
Keep file structure neat and tidy. Build a system and stick to
it to try and future proof as much as possible.
Less is more. Tell a story and leave some mystery (yes, even
if you absolutely love the sharpness and bokeh in that shot!).
Above top
Perfect for purpose
As a commercial
photographer, Matthew
must produce images for
a wide range of purposes
and client bases, making it
essential for him to ensure
reliable image quality
A clear vision
Commencing a shoot with
a clear concept in mind
helps to speed up qualitycontrol work, since you
know what aspects to look
for from the start
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The XPRO 5-section photo monopod easily
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to be won!
If you’re after power combined with control and crafty tricks
aplenty, these pro-spec flashguns have a lot to offer. We put
them to the test and deliver our verdict
At a glance, it might seem outrageous
that a top-end flashgun from the likes
of Canon and Nikon costs considerably
more than an entry-level DSLR from the same
company, complete with a kit zoom lens. Delve
a little deeper, however, and it soon becomes
apparent that these flashguns are highly
technical pieces of kit, wrapping advanced
features and top-level specifications into
premium-grade construction.
For starters, all of the flashguns we’ve chosen
for this group test boast a powerful maximum
output, ranging between Gn 55 and 64 (‘Guide
number’ at ISO 100 in metres). They have
bounce and swivel heads with motorised
zooms that stretch to match a focal length
of 200mm at the long end, when used with a
full-frame camera. Advanced flash modes are
supported in every case, enabling you to fire the
flash multiple times during a long exposure.
As well as fully dedicated flash with
automatic, through-the-lens metering, there’s
something of a feast on offer when it comes to
wireless connectivity for off-camera flash. All
of these flashguns offer infrared master and
slave modes, for triggering multiple flashguns
with the option of assigning them to separate
groups. Better still, the Canon and Nikon
models on test feature RF (Radio Frequency) as
well as infrared connectivity, enabling a greater
range and the ability to communicate through
obstacles or around corners.
Despite undercutting both of the camera
manufacturers’ flashguns for cost in most world
regions, the Hahnel literally doubles up on flash
potential and comes complete with a dedicated
RF transmitter and triggering system. Let’s take
an in-depth look at all the options.
“These are highly technical pieces of kit,
with advanced features and top-level specs”
Canon keeps
it simple
The underside of the
20-200mm zoom head
has slots for automatically
detecting the fitment of
colour filters or the
diffusion dome
Straightforward and
effective, the rear control
panel is based on an
illuminated LCD screen
and four context-sensitive
‘function’ buttons
Flaps reveal an external
power pack socket, PC
terminal and a mounting
hole for an optional bracket,
and the mounting foot is
Canon Speedlite 600EX II-RT
Better, faster and with more stamina, this is the Mark II edition of
Canon’s flagship Speedlite PRICE: £510 / $580
As with the original 600EX RT, the Mark II
features a built-in RF transceiver. This boosts
the range of master/slave communication
between multiple ‘RT’ flashguns to as much
as 30m, compared with about 10m for a
conventional infrared connection. It has the
same pro-grade standard of weather-sealed
construction but adds speed and stamina.
The Mark II is designed to allow longer
periods of continuous shooting without
overheating problems. The number of flashes
from a set of batteries is also increased by
as much as 50 per cent and, as with most
pro-grade flashguns, an external power pack
is available.
Included accessories comprise of a diffusion
dome, two coloured filters, a mini stand and
a soft case. The flashgun itself has a powerful
Gn 60 rating and a versatile head that covers
a bounce range of -7 to 90 degrees and full
180-degree swivel to both the left and right.
The automated, motorised zoom range is
also very generous at 20-200mm. As usual
in up-market flashguns, there’s a retractable
catchlight panel and wide-angle diffuser, plus a
red AF-assist lamp.
Around the back, the layout of the control
panel and illuminated LCD screen is virtually
identical to that of the original 600EX-RT
flashgun. The upper row of context-sensitive
menu buttons and selection dial is fairly
simple and intuitive.
In our tests, the Canon enabled unerringly
accurate TTL metering and gave the jointstrongest output of Gn 45 at the 105mm
zoom setting, matching the Nikon SB-5000.
Recycling speed with NiMH batteries is swift
at 3.2 seconds after a full flash, only slowing
slightly to 3.4 seconds when using alkaline
cells. The only drawback is that the price is
relatively high, particularly when compared
to the Metz offering on test, for example.
However, if you are a Canon user and want
a proprietary speedlight, the 600EX II-RT
certainly won’t disappoint.
Twice as flash
The bounce and swivel
head has a 20-200mm
motorised zoom range,
14mm wide-angle diffuser
and catchlight card
The layout of the backlit
mono LCD, context-sensitive
function buttons and
selection dial is very similar
to that of the Canon flashgun
You’re not likely to need them,
but additional Hahnel HLXMD1 Extreme Li-ion batteries
cost around £45/$60 each
Hahnel Modus 600RT Pro Kit
You’ll be seeing double as the Hahnel Modus takes multi-flashgun
versatility to the max PRICE: £450 / $625
Flashguns like the Canon 600EX II-RT enable
multi-flashgun setups with advanced RF
control and communication. The downside
is that buying a pair of Canon’s top-end
flashguns will set you back over a grand.
This ‘Pro’ kit from Hahnel gives you similar
benefits at a lower cost (in the UK).
At the core of this kit is Hahnel’s
revolutionary Modus 600RT, available in
dedicated versions for Canon, Nikon and
Sony cameras. Unlike most flashguns, it
runs on a rechargeable Li-ion battery pack,
instead of the more usual set of four AA
batteries. Benefits include a super-fast
recycling speed of 1.5 seconds after a fullpower flash, and as many as 600 or 1,000
flashes on a single charge, at full or halfpower settings respectively.
The ‘Wireless’ kit combines the 600RT
flashgun with a Viper TTL Transmitter, adding
full RF communication for off-camera flash,
at a distance of up to 100m. TTL, manual,
high-speed sync, rear-curtain and multi
(programmable repeat) flash for up to
three groups of flashguns can be controlled
from the Viper Transmitter, which sits in the
camera’s hotshoe and comes complete with
its own control panel and LCD screen.
The range-topping ‘Pro’ kit comprises two
600RT flashguns and the Viper Transmitter,
giving you much greater versatility with
easily controllable dual-flashgun setups. The
transceivers built into each flashgun enable
them to work as master or slave, leaving the
Viper out of the mix. Conventional infrared
linking is also supported.
Each 600RT achieved Gn 40 at a zoom
setting of 105mm in our tests, matching the
Metz but falling slightly short of the Canon
and Nikon flashguns. Recycling after a fullpower flash is more than twice as fast as in
the Canon and Metz.
It adds light
and colour
All the usual attractions are
present and correct but,
uniquely in this group, the
Metz adds a secondary subflash module
Simple and uncluttered, the
rear of the flashgun features
a colour touchscreen which
is an absolute joy to use
Should firmware updates be
required to suit new cameras,
they can be applied via a
handy built-in USB port
Metz Mecablitz 64 AF-1
The most powerful and desirable model in Metz’s current lineup of dedicated flashguns PRICE: £390 / $480
Metz has a prestigious flashgun heritage that
stretches back to 1952. The 64 AF-1 tops the
current range of dedicated flashguns, and is
available in Canon, Nikon, Micro Four Thirds,
Pentax and Sony-fit editions. Key attractions
include a powerful Gn 64 rating, 24-200mm
motorised zoom head and generous -9 to 90
degrees of vertical tilt. Swivel is more limited
because while there’s full 180-degree rotation
to the left, the Metz is the only flashgun in
this group that only swivels 120 degrees to
the right. It’s also the only one to lack built-
in RF transmission, although there’s a full
range of master/slave functions available via
infrared linking.
At the front, the Metz 64 AF-1 adds a
secondary, sub-flash tube. This is great for
adding a little fill flash when using the head
in bounce or swivel mode. There’s more
innovation around the back, the Metz again
bucking the trend and replacing conventional
controls with a colour touchscreen. It’s
wonderfully intuitive and makes even
complex settings easy to access. As with
the Hahnel flashgun, a USB port enables the
application of firmware updates.
Compared with other flashguns on test,
the Metz is prone to very slight overexposure
in auto TTL flash mode, generally giving
results of +0.16EV in our tests. Running on
NiMH batteries, it’s also marginally slower
than the Canon flashgun to recycle after a
full-power flash, at 3.4 seconds. However, it’s
dramatically slower on alkaline cells, taking
7.4 seconds to recycle, compared with 3.4 or
2.9 secs for the Canon and Nikon respectively.
RF is an
opportunity missed
Automatic filter detectors
are built into the bounce
head and there’s a socket for
attaching an optional SD-8A
or SD-9 battery pack
The buttons are dedicated
rather than context-sensitive
and the rotary multi-selector
also acts as a four-way
directional switch
A sync socket is built into the
side of the flashgun but, for
radio frequency connectivity,
there’s only a receiver rather
than a transceiver
The company’s latest and greatest flashgun bumps up the power and
adds radio reception PRICE: £600 / $600
Taking its position at the top of Nikon’s
Speedlight tree, the SB-5000 replaces the SB910 as the flagship pro-grade flashgun. It has a
24-200mm motorised zoom head but the Gn
55 rating is the least powerful of any flashgun
in the group, on paper at least. However,
it achieved Gn 45 at 105mm in our tests,
matching the maximum output of the Canon
and beating the Hahnel and Metz. Recycling
speed after a full-power flash is just 2.3 or
2.9 seconds when using NiMH or alkaline AA
batteries. That’s noticeably quicker than the
Canon and Metz, but still not as fast as the Liion powered Hahnel.
For extended bursts of continuous shooting,
the SB-5000 features a new integral cooling
system that enables 100 or more shots, even
at full output power. Like in the Canon and
Hahnel flashguns, the Nikon also adds RF
connectivity to its more basic infrared wireless
communication system. Sadly though, RF isn’t
as well implemented. Whereas the Canon and
Hahnel flashguns feature transceivers, the SB5000 only has a receiver and therefore can’t
work as a ‘commander’ with RF linking. To use
RF linking for multiple flashguns, you’d need to
buy Nikon’s WR-R10 transceiver, plus a WR-A10
adaptor if your camera has a ten-pin accessory
connector, adding as much as £140/$200 to
the overall cost.
The build quality is very good but, as with all
but the Canon flashgun on test, the SB-5000
lacks a weather-sealed mounting plate. The
control panel and menu system are quite easy
to get to grips with, but lack the simplicity of
Metz’s touchscreen.
Canon Speedlitte
Speedlite 600EX
Max claimed Gn (ISO
100, metres)
Gn 60
Bounce, swivel
-7 to 90, +/-180
Zoom range
Manual power
1/1 to 1/128
Min secondary lamp
Wireless Master/Slave
Master/Slave IR/RF
Full power recycle
3.2 / 3.4 seconds
Flash info LCD
Supplied accessories
Pouch, stand,
dome, filters
(W x H x D), weight
79x143x123mm, 435g
s 600RT
o Kitt
Modus 600RT Pro Kit
Max claimed Gn (ISO
100, metres)
Tough and strong, the
Gn 60 (200mm)
Canon is well built and
includes a full set of
Bounce, swivel
weather seals
-7 to 90, +/-180
Zoom range
The design is hardly
innovative but Canon
has stuck to a trusty,
intuitive control panel
1/1 to 1/128
Min secondary lamp
Wireless Master/Slave
Master/Slave IR/RF
Powerful output backed
Full power recycle
up with accurate TTL
flash metering and
1.5 seconds
quick recycle speeds
Flash info LCD
Supplied accessories
Pouches, stands, charger,
The Canon is relatively
RF transmitter
expensive to buy,
especially when
(W x H x D), weight
compared to the Metz
64x76x190mm, 540g
The rich feature
e set
ensures good v
while RF conn
nnectivity is
well implemented
adline features are
thatt the kit doubles up
ashguns and adds
on fla
an RF
F transmitter
Build quality isn’t quite
up to the standards of
the Canon and Nikon,
but it’s pretty close
The flashguns and Viper
Transmitter enable
complex setups via
quick adjustments
Fast recycling, powerful
output and dependable
TTL metering make it a
strong performer
As with the single-flash
Hahnel kits, the dualflash ‘Pro’ kit is standout value for money
Metz M
64 AF-1
Mecablitz 64 AF-1
Max claimed Gn (ISO
100, metres)
Gn 64
Bounce, swivel
-9 to 90, -120/+180
Zoom range
Manual power
1/1 to 1/256
Min secondary lamp
Wireless Master/Slave
Master/Slave IR
Full power recycle
3.4 / 7.4 seconds
Flash info LCD
Yes (colour
Supplied accessories
Pouch, stand
(W x H x D), weight
78x148x112mm, 422g
Smart features include
a sub-flash module and
colour touchscreen, but
no built-in RF
There’s a premium look
and feel to the Metz,
with a typically high
standard of engineering
Handling is refined, the
colour touchscreen
bringing simplicity to
all adjustments
There’s marginal TTL
overexposure and
recycling is slow on
alkaline cells
For such a high-end
flashgun, the Metz is
keenly priced and offers
good value for money
ght SB-5000
Max claimed Gn (ISO
100, metres)
Gn 55
Bounce, swivel
-7 to 90, +/-180
Zoom range
Manual power
1/1 to 1/256
Min secondary lamp
Wireless Master/Slave
Master/Slave IR/RF
Full power recycle
2.3 / 2.9 seconds
Flash info LCD
Supplied accessories
Pouch, stand,
dome, filters
(W x H x D), weight
73x137x104mm, 420g
There are wide-rranging
features and im
specifications, but RF is
poorly implem
The SB-5000 feels
solid and dependable,
but lacks the Canon’s
mounting foot shroud
Some might prefer the
dedicated controls
rather than contextsensitive buttons
Rapid recycle speeds
even over long bursts
of continuous shooting,
and TTL flash is spot-on
It’s relatively poor value
compared with both
the Hahnel and Metz
flashguns on test
It’s an excellent flashgun but,
if you’re buying in the UK and
Europe, it pays to shop around.
For on- and off-camera flash, this
kit rules for versatility and is a
steal at the price.
It lacks a built-in RF transceiver
but is still an outstanding
flashgun with top-class handling.
A superb flashgun with excellent
all-round performance. Shame
about the lack of RF transceiver.
The a7 III’s newly developed full-frame CMOS sensor
has the same resolution as its predecessors, but a
more efficient back-illuminated design and much
faster readout and image processing speeds.
Price: £2,000 / $2,000
Sony a7 III
With its full-frame sensor, 10fps continuous shooting,
powerful video features and an affordable price tag,
the Sony a7 III looks like the perfect all-rounder
The a7 III is the third version of Sony’s
entry-level model, though the Mark III
version is certainly far from basic.
The sensor shares the same 24-megapixel
resolution as previous a7 models, but has
a newly developed back-illuminated design
with a front-end LSI and Sony’s latest BIONZ
X image processor for better light-gathering
power and faster data processing. What
these advances mean in practical terms is
an increased maximum ISO of 51,200, or
204,800 in expanded mode, and continuous
shooting at up to ten frames per second, with
a decent-sized buffer capacity of 177 standard
JPEGs, 89 compressed RAW files or 40
uncompressed RAW images.
This puts the a7 III in proper sports camera
territory, especially since it can also shoot at
“The a7 III’s sports
credentials are
enhanced by its
extremely powerful
autofocus system”
these speeds in complete silence, opening up
a whole range of sports and scenarios where
noisy cameras might normally be banned.
The a7 III’s sports credentials are enhanced
by its extremely powerful autofocus system,
taken straight from the range-topping a9. It
offers no fewer than 693 phase-detection AF
points spread across 93 per cent of the image
area, and a further 425 contrast AF points over
a slightly smaller area to aid focus accuracy
further. It offers variable tracking sensitivity in
five steps, an effective eye AF mode for people
shots that now works in continuous AF mode
too, and a new Expand Flexible Spot mode
to keep a subject in focus even if it strays
outside the focus area. You can even adjust
the autofocus drive speed for movie shooting,
selecting Fast, Standard or Slow.
This is a reflection of the a7 III’s formidable
4K movie capabilities. Instead of simply
cropping the frame or using ‘pixel binning’ to
produce its 4K video, Sony uses ‘oversampling’
instead so that video is captured at full
resolution then ‘downsampled’ to 4K as it’s
captured and stored, in order to deliver the
highest possible quality.
The Sony a7 III can also capture high
dynamic range footage with an HLG
By using its latest NP-FZ100 lithium-ion battery,
Sony has dramatically extended the battery life,
which is always a sticking point with mirrorless
cameras. It’s not quite in DSLR territory yet, but it’s a
big step forward.
A strong selling feature in all Sony a7 cameras
from the Mark II models onwards, the sensor-shift
stabilisation system now offers up to five stops of
shake compensation, and this works for both stills
and video.
It’s a surprise to discover Sony has migrated its
top autofocus system from its flagship a9 model to
this one. With 693 phase-detection AF points, 425
contrast AF points and a wide range of modes, it’s
highly impressive.
Increasingly, pro photographers need cameras that
can shoot top-quality video as well as stills, and the
a7 III certainly delivers, with 4K ‘oversampled’ video
and S-Log3 mode for high dynamic range.
Sony has opted for a tilting rather than a fully
articulating display, and the touchscreen control
doesn’t extend to menu options and settings, but
the tap/drag focus feature is welcome.
Low-light performance
Thanks to its five-stop, five-axis
stabilisation and excellent highISO performance, the a7 III is
great in tough low-light situations
The focus options are versatile
and very effective, offering
pinpoint accuracy when you
need it
RAW dynamic range
This black and white conversion
from an a7 III RAW file gives a hint
of the tonal range the new sensor
can capture
(Hybrid Log-Gamma)
profile for an instant
HDR workflow via
compatible TVs and
other devices. Or,
for videographers
who want to capture
high tonal ranges
for grading/editing
later, the a7 III offers
an S-Log3 profile for a
claimed dynamic range of
up to 14 stops – it’s the video
equivalent of shooting RAW files.
The five-axis in-body image
stabilisation system is carried over from
the a7 II and is now a standard fixture in all
of Sony’s a7 camera bodies, and here Sony
claims it gives a five-stop shutter speed
advantage. Sony has also introduced a new
‘Edge’ software editing suite, consisting of
three separate applications: Remote, for
tethered shooting; Edit for processing RAW
files; and Viewer for viewing, rating and
selecting images.
The a7 III’s design and layout will be
instantly familiar to anyone who’s used a
Sony a7 model before. The body is remarkably
compact and neatly laid out for a full-frame
camera, though this does mean it feels
somewhat unbalanced when matched up with
Sony’s altogether larger and bulkier lenses.
The top is pretty uncluttered, with just a
main mode dial, shutter release, exposure
compensation dial and C1 and C2 custom
buttons. There are two further custom
buttons (C3 and C4) on the back, plus a tilting
touchscreen display, a four-way controller with
a central OK button and a spinning control dial
Does the design work?
Sony has compressed a lot of powerful
technologies into a very compact body, but it’s
almost as if no-one told the lens designers to
do the same thing, because Sony’s premium
professional lenses are just as big and heavy
as their DSLR counterparts – sometimes even
heavier. We tried the a7 III with Sony’s 24105mm f4 and 24-70mm f2.8 lenses, perfectly
logical lens choices for this camera, and both
left it feeling slightly unbalanced. Additionally,
the a7 III’s control layout follows the same
basic template as previous a7 models, which
means there’s no dedicated drive mode dial
and no external AF mode or AF area selectors
– yet both of these are key features in this new
camera. This feels like a design shortcut that’s
compromised this camera’s abilities.
around the outside and – usefully – an AF-ON
button and a thumbstick for selecting the
focus point.
You can also choose the focus point by
tapping or dragging on the LCD display,
though this is about as far as the touchscreen
interaction goes. The screen also displays
camera settings and modes, but these can
only be changed via the menus, buttons
and dials, not through direct touch-based
interaction. However, given that two of this
camera’s main strengths are its continuous
shooting and autofocus modes, it would be
better if these had their own external dials
and levers. And it’s a shame that only one of
the memory card slots is UHS-II compatible
and not both. But Sony’s decision to upgrade
the battery to its newer NP-FZ100 now gives
a battery life of 710 shots on a single charge.
That’s unexceptional by DSLR standards, but
excellent for a mirrorless camera.
The a7 III’s performance lives up to its
specifications. The autofocus system is so
good that keeping moving subjects sharp is
as much a test of the photographer’s framing
skills as it is the camera’s AF technology. It’s
not quite perfect, though. The screen display
at 10fps is very slightly sluggish, and it’s easier
to follow fast subjects in the 8fps Live View
mode. And while the focus-tracking mode
does work well if the subject movement is not
too sudden, it can sometimes lose contact
with more erratic subjects.
The image quality is excellent – bearing in
mind that this camera has ‘only’ 24 million
pixels, and fine detail rendition is bound to
suffer in comparison with the 42-megapixel
a7R III. Where it excels though is in its low
noise, even at higher ISO settings, and great
dynamic range. We didn’t quite get the 15
stops claimed by Sony at low ISO settings,
but it did hold on to shadow and highlight
detail very well.
Sony has managed to really hit the nail on
the head with the a7 III’s specification and
pricing. Some might be disappointed that the
resolution stays at 24 million pixels, but let’s
remember that this is Sony’s ‘entry-level’
a7. That makes its other specifications –
including its advanced autofocus system,
10fps shooting and 4K video capabilities –
all the more exceptional.
“Image quality is excellent – where it excels
though is in its low noise, even at higher
ISO settings, and great dynamic range”
Sony a7 III
Megapixels (effective)
Max resolution
6,000 x 4,000
Sensor information
Full-frame Exmor R
CMOS, 35.6 × 23.8mm
Shutter speed
1/8,000-30sec, bulb
ISO sensitivity
100-51,200 (expandable
to 50-204,800)
Exposure modes
P, A, S, M, Auto, Scene
Metering options
Multi, Centre, Spot,
Average, Highlight
Flash modes
Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth,
USB, HDMI, Mic, Audio
650g (body only,
with battery and
memory card)
126.9 x 95.6 x 73.7mm
1x NP-FZ100
1 UHS-II compatible
3-inch tilting touchscreen,
921,600 dots
XGA OLED, 2,359,296
dots, 0.78x magnification
Is there anything this camera
can’t do? For the money, this is
the ultimate affordable all rounder
The a7 III feels solid and well made,
with a reassuring weight and
precision to its controls
The body doesn’t always match
well with big lenses, and it relies
heavily on its digital interface
As long as 24 megapixels is
enough for you, you can’t fault the
a7 III’s image quality
There are cheaper full frame
cameras than this, but not with
these features
The a7 III has some handling
flaws, but does that matter
when you look at the overall
package? Sony has judged
the features, price and
performance to perfection.
Size and weight
The a7 III is tiny compared to a
full frame DSLR and it can feel
unbalanced with pro lenses
The a7 III’s multi selector is
used to move the focus point
around the frame
With the AF ON button you
activate the AF separately to
the shutter release
The memory card door is
sprung open via a catch on
the right side of the body
With 2,359,296 dots it’s not
the highest resolution, but it
is big and clear
Acollection of the best fun-yet-functional products out there for photographers
Get a PfCO
You need a Permission for
Commercial Operations (PfCO) from
the Civil Aviation Authority to use a
drone for commercial purposes. A
training school such as Aerial Motion
Pictures (aerialmotionpictures. can help you go through all the
required steps
Fly More Combo
Battery life limits the flight time to just 21 minutes
but if you buy the Fly More Combo (£949/$999)
you get three batteries and a charging hub along
with extra propellers and a carry-bag
£769 / $799
Drone photography and videography is a
growing area, with many wedding shooters
throwing away their stepladders and utilising
them for group shots while landscape
photographers are discovering a whole host
of new angles and opportunities.
Although the DJI Mavic Air is aimed
at consumers rather than professional
photographers, its relatively affordable
price and impressive feature set make it
an attractive option for anyone wanting to
try aerial photography for the first time.
Crucially, it’s easy to set up, having an
integrated camera mounted on a threeaxis gimbal, a collection of Smart Capture
modes to simplify the videography and DJI’s
FlightAutonomy 2.0 to help keep the craft
stable and safe.
The sensor inside the camera is a 1/2.3inch CMOS device with 12 million effective
pixels. This means that although the quality
of the footage you get from the Mavic Air
is very good, it’s not going to compete with
what you get from your Nikon D850 or Sony
a7R III. It’s a different beast, but one that
can shoot 4K (3,840 × 2,160) video in MP4/
MOV format at 24/25/30p. On the front of
the camera is a 24mm (equivalent) lens with
an aperture of f2.8 and a closest focusing
distance of 0.5m. Sensitivity can be set in the
range ISO 100-3200 for stills or video.
After charging the drone and controller
battery, the first set-up step is to update the
firmware using the DJI GO 4 app on your
phone. It’s also advisable to go through the
in-app tutorial and watch DJI’s instructional
videos, but once everything is updated and
charged, the next step is to remove the lens
cover, unfold the arms and deploy the landing
gear ready for your first flight.
The Mavic Air can be flown using your
smartphone as the controller, but the
joysticks make it easier to use the supplied
remote controller that connects to and
houses your phone.
There’s 8GB of internal storage, but a
microSD card slot is also available for storing
your images and video. The gimbal does a
very impressive job of keeping the camera
steady so you can achieve smooth, vibrationfree footage.
Ease of use
Value for money
Quality of results
If you’ve been thinking about dipping your toe
into aerial photography, the DJI Mavic Air is a
great drone for making your first flights.
£45 / $63 (approx)
In issue 199 we
tested PNY’s USB-C
to HDMI adapter
and while it worked
well, allowing you to connect an HDMI cable to a USB-C port, it has
one drawback when used with the latest line of Apple MacBooks –
you can’t power the laptop at the same time. While the blame for
this might be laid at Apple’s door for only providing one port,
it doesn’t help when you’ve got a long presentation to make at the
end of the day.
Thankfully PNY also offers this 3-in-1 adapter, which in addition
to the HDMI port has USB-C and USB-A ports. That means you
can connect your laptop, tablet or phone to an HDMI display while
still charging them. It’s worth noting however that the supported
resolution of the HDMI connection tops out at 3,840 x 2,160 at
30Hz, whereas the USB-C to HDMI adapter supports 4,096 x
2,160 at 60Hz.
£399 / $500
Lensbaby’s quirky lenses have proved popular
with photographers who want to apply
creative effects at the shooting stage and
make their images stand out from the crowd.
The Burnside 35’s calling card is a bright,
sharp central area surrounded by bokeh
that has a swirl effect and corner
shading, making it an interesting
proposition for portrait photographers.
Covering a full-frame (or smaller)
sensor and available in Canon, Nikon,
Fujifilm, Sony, Micro Four Thirds and
Pentax mounts, the Burnside 35
looks quite old school but its metal
barrel and silky-smooth focusing
action give it a high-quality feel.
Meanwhile the long focus throw
makes focusing manually a pleasure
(there’s no AF), especially when
assisted with focus peaking. Maximum
effect is created by shooting wide open
with the subject close to the camera and
separated from the background, the same
conditions that minimise depth of field.
Snapp Guides is a smartphone app
with location guides for landscape
photographers. The app is available for free
for iOS and Android smartphones but the
Guides, which can be downloaded for use
when you’re offline, cost between $3.99
and $14.99. Each Guide covers a collection
of locations within a geographical area such
as the UK’s Lake District and the Rocky
Mountains in the US.
Once the Guide is open on your phone,
you can browse a selection of high-quality
£79.50 PLUS £10 POSTAGE
Click Props backgrounds are made from
hard-wearing vinyl which means they can
be wiped clean and should survive well in
a busy studio. The Quad Background is a
little different from the norm, having four
different patterns across its 1.52 x 1.52m
surface. It can be used as it is or cut into
smaller squares (0.76 x 0.76m) to make it
easier to handle when photographing small
products and still-life scenes.
We tested the Wood Quad background
which has squares resembling wooden
flooring, with sections having white-wash,
monochrome, aged-wood and dark-wood
effects. We found uses for all of them, but
would gladly swap one of them for a light
pine-wood effect.
The ‘planks’ are life-size and look realistic
albeit slightly soft as befits a background.
There’s also some noise visible at very
close quarters but this is unlikely to
register in an image.
images for inspiration, tap ‘Spots’ at
the bottom of the screen to browse an
alphabetical list or hit the map icon to
see the location of each spot. Tapping to
select any of the shooting spots reveals
information about what and when to shoot
as well as the ideal shooting conditions
and how to get there. If you also have the
Photographer’s Ephemeris app you can tap
its icon for more information.
slip in o your ki ag al os unno ice , so you can ake i
wherever you may need some extra storage capacity or to
back up on the go
£170 / $180 (512GB)
The use of solid state drives rather than hard
drives allows the size of storage devices to
be reduced dramatically, and at 90 x 45 x
10mm the WD My Passport SSD is almost
half the size of a standard My Passport that
uses a hard disk drive (HDD). This makes it
attractive to anyone who needs extra storage
when they’re on the move.
Western Digital offers the My Passport
SSD in three capacities: 256GB, 512GB and
1TB; we tested a 512GB unit that retails for
£170/$180. The drive is supplied compatible
with Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7,
macOS High Sierra, Sierra or El Capitan, but
if necessary can be reformatted for other
operating systems.
Four useful software packages are supplied
on board the drive, WD Backup, WD Drive
Utilities, WD Security and WD Discovery.
As you might guess, WD Backup helps with
backing up your files, WD Drive Utilities
facilitates drive reformatting and healthchecking while WD Security lets you protect
the drive with a password. The fourth, WD
Discovery, helps you to keep the other three
packages up to date.
Perhaps with the latest breed of MacBooks
in mind, the My Passport SSD has a USB-C
port and is supplied with a USB-C cable that
enables transfer rates of up to 515mb/s. It
also comes with an adaptor that allows it to
be used with devices that have older (and
still more common) USB-A ports.
As it’s an SSD rather than an HDD, there’s
no spinning disk in the My Passport SSD,
which means your data is more likely to
survive a drop or knock to the outer shell.
However, being made from plastic, the casing
feels a little less robust than the Samsung T5
which has an aluminium case. Nevertheless,
it works well and files transfer quickly to and
from the drive. Even when using the adaptor
to connect to the USB 3.0 port on a WD
PR4100 NAS, for example, it actually took
less than five minutes to transfer 201 files
(11.4GB data) from the Sony a7R III – that’s
around 304mb/s.
Ease of use
Value for money
Quality of results
Using solid state technology pushes the price
up but it also shrinks the size of the drive,
making it a great storage solution for travelling.
Ami Vitale retells the story of her goodbye to the world's last male northern white rhino
All images © Ami Vitale
his week, I made a heartbreaking
journey back to Kenya to say goodbye
to Sudan, the world’s last male northern
white rhino. Sudan lived a long and
good life and he was surrounded by love, with
people who committed their lives to protecting
him. Sudan’s death could mean the extinction
of his species, but if there is meaning in
Sudan’s passing, it’s that all hope is not
lost. This can be our wake-up call. In a world
of more than 7 billion people, we must see
ourselves as part of the landscape. Our fate is
linked to the fate of animals.
I had the privilege of meeting Sudan nine
years ago, and he changed the trajectory of
my work. When I heard about a plan to airlift
four of the world’s last northern white rhinos
from the Dvur Králové Zoo in the Czech
Republic to Kenya, it sounded like a storyline
for a Disney film of captive animals returning
to the wild dusty plains. In reality, it was a
desperate, last-ditch effort to save a species.
Poaching is not slowing down.
At the time, there were only eight
It’s entirely possible, even likely,
of these rhinos left, all living in
that if the killing continues, these
captivity. He looked ancient, part
rhinos – along with elephants
of a species that had lived on this
and a host of lesser-known plains
planet for millions of years, yet
animals – will be functionally
could not survive mankind.
extinct in our lifetime.
I remember so clearly when
The plight of wildlife and the
Sudan first set foot on the African
conflict between poachers and
soil. The skies darkened and
National Geographic
increasingly militarised rangers
torrential rains came moments
magazine photographer
Ami Vitale has travelled to
has received much-needed
after we arrived. He put his head
more than 90 countries.
attention. But very little has
in the air to smell the rains and
She has lived in mud huts
been said about the indigenous
immediately rolled around on
and war zones, contracted
on the front lines
the ground. It was his first mud
malaria, and donned a
panda suit – keeping true to
of the poaching wars. We often
bath since he left the continent,
her belief in the importance
forget that the best protectors
taken from Sudan, the country
of “living the story.”
of these landscapes are the local
with which he shares his name.
communities. Their efforts are
That Sudan was moved to the
the best immunisation against forces that
Dvur Králové Zoo may have saved his life;
threaten both their wildlife and way of life.
the last known wild rhinos were poached on
My hope is that Sudan’s legacy serves as a
the border of the Democratic Republic of the
catalyst to awaken humanity to this reality.
Congo in 2004.
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