Take Advantage of the Seasons

If you use a studio for your portrait photography, then the seasons don’t matter. But if you venture outside, you must take the environment into consideration, and one of the primary environmental factors is the season. Don’t ignore the season; embrace it. This article discusses how to take advantage of the season.

Beautiful spring blooms on a japanese magnolia

Spring

For many, spring is a favorite season. You are coming out of the cold doldrums of winter, and the world is waking up again. As a photographer, this means you are just beginning to get some greenery for your backgrounds, and most importantly, those spring flowers.

Don’t allow those bright yellow jonquils or red and purple tulips overpower your subject, but a touch of color in the background, out of focus, can add some interest to your image. Or use a curving bed of spring flowers to create leading lines toward the subject. Also, be aware of the light falling on your subject. Those trees, just budding new spring leaves can produce a distracting dappled light on your subject. Move to full shade or use a diffuser to soften the light.

Bright Sunflower in Field

Summer

Summer should provide you with full shade under those oak trees to give you lovely open shade. As with spring, be aware of dappled light and make sure you have full, consistent shade on your subject. Be mindful of the heat and shoot late in the day, or even better early in the morning before the heat builds up. Use a stand-in to dial in your exposure and composition before bringing your subject onto the set. Nothing can ruin hair and makeup quicker than high temperatures and humidity.

A tree with golden yellow leaves against a brilliant blue sky in the autumn

Fall

Autumn is probably the best time to shoot. You still have plenty of cover overhead to provide open shade, but there are also plenty of colors to give you warm backgrounds. Just be aware of plants and trees that lose their leaves early. Find a spot with plenty of green grass under a large tree that hasn’t lost its leaves. Take advantage of the golden hour late in the day, include plenty of fall color and make those images pop.

An old granite courthouse in the winter

Winter

Many photographers move inside during the winter, but there are still some environmental shots you can take advantage of. The cold, stark nature of winter landscapes lends itself to black and white photography. Dress your model in clothes that give a good contrast and shoot for black and white. This doesn’t mean to set your camera to black and white. Always shoot color. You will have more control with tones and contrast in post-processing. Also, if you are shooting in snow, you will need to use exposure compensation to get the snow looking white. Remember your camera always wants to shoot neutral grey.

If you shoot portraits outside, and you should, don’t just shoot the same scenes year around. Take advantage of the seasons and bring some variety to your imagery.

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Five Tips for Real Estate Photography

A nice residential kitchen with fruit on the counter

Everyone takes pictures of their home. But there is a big difference between taking snapshots of your new kitchen and producing real estate photography. This article discusses five tips for Real Estate Photography.

A nice white kitchen furnished with appliances and decorations

Shoot Wide

You may think you have a wide angle lens for your camera. That is until you try to shoot the inside of a room. You will find that there is wide and there is wide enough. This doesn’t mean you need a fish-eye lens, but you do need to shoot wide enough to take in enough of a room to give it a sense of scale and size. You need to be somewhere in the 15-24mm range to effectively capture interior spaces.

Modern empty kitchen with granite countertops

Use All Available Light

Real estate interiors should come across as light and airy. No matter how well decorated and designed a room is, if it looks like a cave, it isn’t going to sell. Open all draperies and blinds. Turn on all interior lights. Use strobes if necessary, but only if you really know what you are doing. Controlling the light in interior spaces can be tricky. If you are including a window with a nice exterior view, you will have to figure out a way to include that view in your shot. Either meter for the exterior and provide fill light for the interior, or take two shots and include the window in post-processing.

A nice foyer by interior stairs with table and flowers

Use a Tripod

Unless you completely fill the interior space with light from strobes, you are not going to have enough light to hand-hold your camera. Nor should you. Using a tripod will allow you to use more natural available light, while still giving you an aperture to allow the most depth of field. In addition, using a tripod, especially in conjunction with live-view, will allow you to fine tune the exact angle of the shot. Finally, if you need to shoot HDR to include an exterior view, or create a pano for a wide angle, a tripod is a must.

A fireplace in a home with a child’s chair and blanket

Include the Details

You want to get several wide angle views of each room to make sure everything is included and you are showing the space in its best light. But capturing a few details will give the shots some personality and a feeling of being home. Find one small detail or area in each room to focus on and bring some life into your portfolio.

A new red brick home with a gas lamp out front

Don’t Forget the Exterior

Most of your work on real estate photography will be done inside the home. But you need at least one broad, sweeping shot of the exterior. The trick to this will be catching the house on the right day. Blue skies and white puffy clouds are great, but not if you end up with harsh light and dark shadows. If the home is always back-lit or a sunny day is not flattering, you will need to sacrifice the sky for nice lighting.

Like most forms of photography, real estate photography is a specialized niche. But with knowledge and experience you can create some great real estate images.

How to Keep Your Photography Fresh

If you have been shooting for a long time, eventually you will find yourself getting into a rut. Shooting the same things all the time, or worse, getting bored and not shooting at all. This article will discuss ideas for keeping your photography fresh.

Atlanta skyline


Be A Tourist

Everyone is the same. When you travel, you make the time and effort to see all the sites and take a lot of pictures. But you can’t remember the last time you visited the local landmarks or tourist attractions. Plan a day and be a tourist. Do a search on your hometown and highlight all the touristy spots. Then grab your camera on go visit them. Plan the day like a tourist would. Take public transportation where possible. Go see your city like an outsider would and take lots of pictures.

A long span of bridge over the water on a grey winter day

Shoot the Other Stuff

Take a look through your photographs over the last year or so. See a pattern? What have you shot a lot of, and what have you not shot at all. Go back further. Are there things you used to take pictures of that fell by the wayside? Maybe it’s food or architecture. Make a list of things you haven’t shot for a while and make a point to add those to your list. Mix it up and keep it fresh.

A german shepherd looking directly into the camera on a wooden deck


Volunteer

Everyone needs pictures, but not every person or organization can afford a photographer. Let your neighbors know you are available to shoot their next party or event. Contact a local shelter or nursing homes and see if they could use your services. If you aren’t comfortable with people, go to your local pet shelter and volunteer to take pictures for their adoption efforts. Volunteer work will not only make your photography fresh but will make you feel good.

BARCELONA, SPAIN – February 12, 2019: A dozen leaders of Catalonia’s failed 2017 independence bid have gone on trial in Madrid, facing charges including rebellion and sedition.

Make It Into a Job

This may seem like the opposite way of making your photography fresh. After all, you started shooting as a way to get away from work and do something fun. But find a local happening or newsworthy event and go shoot it as if it were an assignment. Chronicle the event as if you were going to submit it to a newspaper or magazine. This will give you a fresh eye and perspective and may lead to another avenue for your photography.

If your photography is in a rut, just change things up a bit. Get outside your normal shooting habits and keep your photography fresh.

Do You Need a Skylight Filter?

We were sailing away from the beautiful city of Lisbon. I was looking at sunset shots of churches and bridges, when I noticed these two cranes silhouetted against the last rays of the sun

Photographers are split on the use of skylight filters. On the plus side, they can cut down the blue tint you get shooting outdoors. They also provide an extra bit of protection for the front element on your lens.

We were in a Japanese garden in Vancouver full of koi ponds and bonsai trees when I turned around and caught the sun shining through the trees and reflecting off the green, mossy floor of the forest

Detractors state, and I think rightly so, that using the right color balance and shooting in raw alleviates the first concern. And a lens hood and proper care will prevent the need for the second. Another factor is that some camera and lens manufacturers use the same diameter so you only need one, while others have a different diameter for each lens, making it a more expensive proposition.

The American and Puerto Rican Flags flying under a sunny sky

If you are a beginner, you may want to give a skylight filter a try to see what you think. After all, they are fairly inexpensive and there is not a lot of downside. If you do, get one of a good quality and make sure it is perfectly clean before you put it on your lens. You don’t want your images ruined by a cheap or dirty filter.

Five Ways to Get Better Pictures

Whether you have just started taking pictures with your phone, or you’ve been shooting with a DSLR for a while, everyone wants better pictures. As a beginner, you may not even know where to begin. But even with experience, you can become stale and uninspired. Don’t worry about buying new and better equipment. Follow these five tips and begin getting better pictures today.

Having the camera handy allowed me to capture this plane just as it hit the water

Always have your camera with you

This is an easy one if you shoot with your phone, but is just as important if you have a full-sized camera. Keep it with you. Even if it’s not practical to carry it around, keep it locked in your trunk so it’s handy if you need it. You never know when luck or a happy accident will put that great image right in front of you.

If I had thought about it for a few seconds, the seagull would have been gone


Just Shoot the Picture

It’s digital. You can erase it later. Just grab the shot. You can’t recreate the moment. If you take the shot and it sucks, delete it. But if you hesitate or try to overthink it, it may be gone. You will be kicking yourself and saying, “Wish I had taken the shot.” Just do it.

A zoom lens would have been nice, but the wide angle gave me this epic shot


Use What You Have

Just like the tip above, don’t miss the shot because you don’t have the perfect equipment. If  your $10,000 worth of DSLR equipment is at home and you just have your camera, get the shot. If the shot really calls for a zoom and you have your wide angle, get the shot. You may be surprised what you can do later in post-processing. But you can’t do anything if  you didn’t take the picture.

Forsyth Park, in Savannah, Georgia is full of these majestic live oaks draped with Spanish moss. But the details of these old streetlamps gave it scale and context.


Look at the Details

It doesn’t matter if you are standing at the foot of the Rocky Mountains or on the edge of St Mark’s Square in Venice. Sure, take the sweeping, wide, epic shot that encompasses the whole scene. But look at the details. Find that small patch of color or puddle of light. Focus on the close-up items that give the place scale. Always be looking wide and close.

The sky was almost blown out and I lost detail in the tree and bird. But I converted it to black and white, pushed the sky to completely white and the foreground to black for this striking silhouette

Don’t Delete It

Despite what it says above about being able to delete the bad shots, that doesn’t mean you should. You took the shot for a reason. Maybe it didn’t come out quite right, but don’t delete it right away. Technology continues to evolve. Maybe it can be salvaged with next years software. Maybe it can be converted to black and white or processed with a filter that turns it into something useful. 

Becoming a better photographer is an evolutionary process if you allow it to be. Follow these five tips and learn how to get better pictures. 

Picture of the Day

Check back often. Unless I’m traveling, I’ll try to post a new one every day…. hence the title.

One of my favorites cities in the world is Barcelona, Spain. And, of course, my favorite place to shoot people is on the famed La Rambla.
The old city of Corfu in Greece is a beautiful place to walk around. But across the strait is this old temple on the rocks.

#corfu #corfuisland #corfugreece #greece #greecetravel #mythology #greekmythology #temple #travel #travelphotography 

https://fineartamerica.com/featured/greek-temple-by-coast-darryl-brooks.html
The old city of Corfu in Greece is a beautiful place to walk around. But across the strait is this old temple on the rocks. #corfu #corfuisland #corfugreece #greece #greecetravel #mythology #greekmythology #temple #travel #travelphotography https://fineartamerica.com/featured/greek-temple-by-coast-darryl-brooks.html
The beach along the coast near Cancun is one of the most crowded in the world. But like many places, if you don’t mind getting up before sunrise, you can find a quiet place.
Fans of Twin Peaks will recognize the Great Northern Lodge from the TV series. It is actually the Snoqualmie Falls and lodge a few miles east of Seattle. #twinpeaks #snoqualmiefalls #Seattle #waterfall #waterfalls #travel #travelphotography #nature #naturephotography https://fineartamerica.com/featured/snoqualmie-falls-with-dusky-blue-sky-darryl-brooks.html
I have shot New York from the harbor several times, but never on a day with this little haze. Added to that the amazing sky and the orange Staten Island ferry and I loved this shot. #newyork #newyorkcity #nyc #iheartnewyork #statenislandferry #newyorkharbor #freedomtower #travel #travelphotography https://fineartamerica.com/featured/staten-island-ferry-and-manhattan-skyline-darryl-brooks.html
A fresh green salad of lettuce, spinach, cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes and peppers in a wood bowl
We were about to sail out of Lisbon and I was taking pictures of the beautiful skyline and churches against the sky, when I looked up the river and saw this bridge.
On a bus from Seward to Anchorage, I had the chance to stop at many beautiful overlooks and vistas. This was actually taken at a roadside restroom stop just as the clouds broke up. #alaska #nature #naturephotography #naturelovers #natureperfect #travel #travelphotography https://fineartamerica.com/featured/pristine-blue-alaskan-lake-darryl-brooks.html
After a long day touring Pisa and Florence, Italy, the driver asked if I wanted to stop at one of the many vineyards in Tuscany. I was tired and said no, but she talked me into it. #tuscany #italy #vineyards #travel #travelphotography https://fineartamerica.com/featured/tuscany-farm-darryl-brooks.html
I was shooting the exterior of the St. James church in Charlottetown, Canada. Prince Edward Island. There was a sign stating that there was an event in progress and it was closed the the public. At that moment, a priest stepped out the front door to look for someone. I asked if I could take a quick shot from the door and he gave me his blessing (so to speak). This is the result. #charlottetown #charlottetownpei #princeedwardisland #church #travel #travelphotography https://fineartamerica.com/featured/st-james-church-in-charlottetown-canada-prince-edward-island-darryl-brooks.html
An old rusty green bicycle leaning against a brick wall
Walking along the waterfront on the North Shore of Vancouver, I came across these marina homes reflected in the absolutely still blue water
Travel to distant lands is great for photography, but don’t forget to look around where you live. There are probably hidden gems within an hour of your house. This train museum was a couple of miles from where I lived for years, but I didn’t discover it until I moved away
People eating in an outdoor cafe in Positano, on the Amalfi Coast of Italy
If you spend more than a few hours in Fort Lauderdale, you need to take a water bus ride through the intracoastal waterway. It’s a beautiful, guided sightseeing trip that only costs a few bucks.
Pikes Place Market in Seattle is a photographer’s paradise. From a variety of food, both prepared and fresh, to people, to colorful, fresh cut flowers. I could spend hours in there and never grow bored. Here is one image of the iconic sign.
seattle #PikePlace
travel #travelphotography

https://fineartamerica.com/featured/1-seattle-public-market-darryl-brooks.html
I had great seats last year at a Braves-Boston game and came away with a few shots that baseball fans would love to have.
I was walking along the beach on St Simons Island, Georgia and saw these three dinghys speeding along. Turns out they were trying to beach their boats right in front of me.
As a photographer, I usually have my camera with me, especially on my daily walk on the Greenway near home. The trees were particularly bright this day backlit from the sun and the bright blue cyclists shirts caught my eye.
Wandering around the museums in London is an amazing experience, but like everywhere else in the city, the architecture is the best part.
I had great seats last year at a Braves-Boston game and came away with a few shots that baseball fans would love to have.
I’m walking through Seattle, near Pikes Market, when I spotted the rare coffee shop. I was attracted to the colorful wall and the Tully’s sign before I spotted the cook taking a break.
Seattle Space Needle Under Clouds. The Space Needle has been shot so many ways, but I have always liked the view from down below. On this day, the skies were a bit stormy, which inspired this edit, adding lightning.
San Francisco is a ciy of many neighborhoods, tastes and smells. The waterfront is the most touristy and the touristiest of the touristy is Pier 39. But the sights, colors and people make it a photographer’s paradise
San Francisco is a ciy of many neighborhoods, tastes and smells. The waterfront is the most touristy and the touristiest of the touristy is Pier 39. But the sights, colors and people make it a photographer’s paradise.
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Dust Spots

And What to do About Them

When you first get a digital SLR camera with interchangeable lenses, you may notice smalls spots on your images, especially on blue sky. These are called dust spots and are the result of dust getting on your camera’s sensor. This can happen when you are changing lenses, especially on a windy day.


Are They a Problem?

In and of themselves, they aren’t that big a problem, except they indicate a lack of knowledge and care for your equipment. Newer models have a self-cleaning mode that will help with the problem and may even eliminate existing dust. Now that you know about the problem, you may want to Google sensor cleaning if you are a do-it-yourselfer, or take your camera to a shop for professional cleaning.


How to Prevent Them

Fortunately, preventing them is easy. Don’t change your lenses out in the wind or leave a lens off your camera for any length of time without the protective cap on. Even out of the wind, change your lenses quickly and efficiently, while pointing the camera body down so dust doesn’t fall into it. If there is a breeze, protect the camera with your body. With proper care, dust spots can be a thing of the past.


Are my Pictures Ruined?

What do you do about the pictures that already have dust spots on them? Fortunately, almost every piece of processing software out there has a spot removal tool, and they all do a good job of removing dust spots. Adobe Lightroom even has a function that will highlight spots, making them easy to find and eliminate. You can also use its synchronization function to eliminate dust spots in the same place on other photos.


Dust spots are a common problem, but can be prevented and once discovered, can be eliminated.

How to Shoot Better Food Images

A plate of fresh, hot, crispy fried chicken on a blue plaid towel on a wood table

It may begin by snapping pictures of your food with your phone at a favorite restaurant. Or you may decide to take pictures of a meal you prepared at home. But somehow the images you shoot don’t look as good as the ones you see in a cookbook or on that food blog you follow. This article will give you five tips on making your food images look more professional.

Read All the Tips
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