Category Archives for "Photography"

Architectural Photography – 5 Quick Tips

Architectural Photography – 5 Quick Tips

Enjoy taking photos of buildings? Or it's official name "architectural photography"?

If, like Jason Mann, you can’t walk down the street without noticing the intricacies of every structure then these 5 quick architectural photography tips are just for you.

1: Context

All architecture is built for a purpose which often reflects ideas of a specific era – it shows us a window into past traditions and techniques, present trends and a glimpse into the future.

A successful photograph is as much about exploring this narrative as it is about taking a ‘technically perfect’ photograph.

2: Planning

So you have a building in mind that you really want to photograph.

You glimpsed it one morning on the way to work (looking majestic I might add) and have been eyeing it up ever since. The first things to consider are what time of day does this building look its best, which direction does it face and do you want to show it in use?

As a general rule don’t photograph a building on a dull day or when it is in shadow it just won’t do it justice.

Directional light (i.e. the sun) is amazing at bringing out detail and making colours pop. I like to shoot at either end of the day when the sun is about mid height in the sky (between 10 and 30 degrees or so) at an angle to the building I am shooting.

Get into the habit of just being aware of what is around you and how light interacts with different buildings throughout the day.

You really don’t need to be too pedantic about it, but if, you are like me, you are a bit of a perfectionist then I highly recommend the Photopills app for planning shoots.

Architectural Photography

Architectural Photography By Jason Mann

3: Equipment

A lot of people think you need the latest and greatest DSLR to take amazing photos. That is just not true.

While it helps, spending thousands of dollars on a kit is just overkill for 90% of people.

So many options, what do you buy? The key things to look for in a camera for architectural photography are:

Wide Angle Lens

I shoot most of my work on a 24mm lens. I recommend that you use a lens that gets you at least close to this. Your typical high end point and shoot will usually get you to 28mm which will be fine for most situations. If you have a DSLR there are plenty of wide angle zoom options.

Manual Controls

The automatic settings are not going to cope with architectural photography – especially when you are shooting at dawn/dusk. Look at getting acamera that has full manual or semi manual (aperture priority) controls. If you are not sure what I mean by the above please take a look at some of the Canon tutorials

Megapixels

I wouldn't focus on the megapixels of a camera too much. It does not define a good camera and as a measurement is very misleading.

Any mid-range camera with 12+ Megapixels is easily good enough for printing large prints. Almost any modern camera purchased in the last few years that you have spent $500+ on will meet the above criteria.

An example of this is the Canon SX60HS . It is a good all-rounder and its specs definitely satisfy the requirements of architectural photography.

My current point and shoot camera of choice is the Canon G5X.

4: Use a tripod

Dial down the ISO, increase the aperture and get some firm legs underneath your camera.

As architecture is stationary, the main camera setting you will tweak is the shutter speed.

The ISO should be low (100400)and the FStop high (around F8 for a point and shoot camera, F14 for a DSLRs). During twilight hours this may result in exposures up to 5 seconds or more so a tripod is a must.

Be sure to get a cable release or use the shutter delay function to ensure that you do not bump the camera when taking the shot.

Architectural Photography - Jason Mann

Architectural Photography - Jason Mann

5: Straight Lines

Straight lines in architectural photography is a rule that is hardly ever broken. The vertical lines of a building should be vertical.

When you are taking the photo you will no doubt be looking up at the building which will make it look like a bit of a triangle. The more distance you can create between yourself and the subject the less you will be looking up at it and the more accurate the photo will be: cross the street, ascend the neighbouring carparking building or shoot it with a longer lens from a distance (i.e. a nearby hill).

Even with all those steps you may still need to make some corrections when you edit the photos. If you are using Adobe Lightroom they have an automatic feature for this. In Adobe Photoshop it is slightly more complicated but still fairly straightforward. You can even do this on Instagram.

ABOUT JASON MANN

Jason Mann Architectural Photography

Jason Mann is an award winning photographer specialising in Architectural Photography.

He regularly has work featured in architectural publications such as Architecture New Zealand, Interiors Magazine and Landscape Architecture NZ

Want More?

For more architectural tricks and tips please check Jason's blog

Or take a look at the stunning portfolio on his website or connect with him on Facebook

Landscape Photography – A Professional’s Process

Landscape Photography - A Professional's Process

Landscape photography is one of the top things people print with Pixelpaint. 

Some of the most stunning ones we get are shot by professional photographer, Adrian Hodge.  So we thought it would be interesting to get an insight into his landscape photography process.  

In this article, you'll learn how to plan, execute and process amazing landscape photography like a pro.

Plan: What's needed?

When planning a shot you need to think about the time of day and the direction any natural light will be coming from, mostly from the sun.

Do you want to be shooting into the sun or away from it, how will the sunlight look at different times of the day?

You may also be interested in shooting the stars in the night sky (astrophotography) and need to know where the moon and Milky Way will be Ideally, you’ll want to drive at least 30 minutes out of any major city to get away from the light pollution to get to see the dark sky in all it’s glory.

One invaluable tool I use to plan my photos is a mobile phone App called Photopills.

Photopills allows you to plan where the sun, moon or even the Milky Way will be at any time and in any location.

They even have augmented reality to have a virtual look around to see where these things will be. At $15 it’s a small price to pay for something jam packed with features. I use it every day!

Obviously if you’re shooting outside you’ll become interested in the weather, you start noticing cloud pattern and the different types of clouds, and you’ll start learning which clouds look the best at sunrise & sunset.

Landscape Photography Planning

Landscape Photography Planning

Execution: 

The day has come, the weather is perfect and you’re heading out to do some landscape photography, hopefully you set your alarm properly if you needed to get up in the middle of the night or early before sunrise.

Batteries

Make sure your camera’s batteries are all charged up, the last thing you need is a flat battery when the light is just right.

Dress Warm

Make sure you’re going to be warm enough, you can always take layers off when the sun comes up

Tripod

A tripod is another thing you shouldn’t skimp on, particularly for landscape photography.  It needs to be light and portable enough to carry around while being sturdy enough to handle a bit of wind. Some have hooks under the centre column to hang your camera bag which can help weigh them down.

Settings

SHOOT IN RAW. You can shoot JPEG’s as well, but you need to be capturing as much information as possible, for processing later. Most landscape photos have a great depth of field (DOF) meaning shooting at a higher f/stop or smaller aperture.

Focal Length

Do you want a wide angle to capture all your surroundings, or a zoom to focus in on a specific part of your view?Sometimes less is more, so check the edges of your composition.  Sometimes it’s easier to zoom in a little now to remove some annoying branch, bush, animal than to have to edit it out during processing.

Filters

I find the use of filters invaluable while out shooting.

For example, the effect of a polarising filter cannot be reproduced later during processing so it’s so important to get it right in the camera first. Also the use of solid neutral density (ND) filters to slow down the shutter speed, or graduated ND filters to tone down the sky or bright areas of your shot to reduce highlights blowing out. I use LEE Filters

HDR (High Dynamic Range)

Sometimes when shooting a landscape photography scene with a large dynamic range of light from bright whites to dark blacks it’s handy to take multiple bracketed exposures. e.g. Normal, under exposed and over exposed.

These can later be merged in processing into a single HDR photo or SuperRAW file to bring more balanced light to the scene.

Panorama

Are you greeted with a wide expansive vista?

You may choose to capture multiple frames from one side to the next. Allow for roughly 30% overlap between the photos and shoot in portrait (vertical).

Also see this blog post on panoramic photography.

Processing

You’re home again and time to process some shots, after importing the photos to an organised folder structure you can open them in Lightroom.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is pretty much the industry standard for processing RAW files, it’s a powerful tool for processing but comes with a how lot of additional functionality including cataloguing and organising your image library, sharing web slideshows, printing etc.

There is a subscription called Creative Cloud or CC which is only $10 AUD per month, it includes Photoshop and a suite of mobile apps to process on the go. It’s a great investment that you will not regret.

Below are screenshots of the main process steps I take in Lightroom.  It’s a 49sec long exposure photo of mine from last November.

The long exposure was achieved by using a LEE Filters ‘BigStopper’ which is a 10stop solid ND filter.

Which blocks lots of light from entering the camera, meaning you have to take a longer exposure to gather the same amount of light. This results in all movement becoming blurred, clouds blend across the sky, running water turns smooth. Lots of creative opportunities.

Landscape photography processing: The original RAW image taken straight off the camera

Landscape photography processing: 10000 Temp; +30 Tint; +1.52; Exposure-100; Highlights+100; Shadows+50; Whites-50; Blacks+20; Clarity+30; Vibrance & Saturation; Lens Correction; Removed Chromatic Aberration; -10 Vignetting; +10 Dehaze; Removed seagulls from end posts; Dust spot removal

Landscape photography processing: Lightened top left corner with +0.99 grad filter

Landscape photography processing: Lightened bottom left corner with +0.99 grad filter

Landscape photography processing: Darkened bottom edge with -0.66 grad filter

Landscape photography processing:
Darkened top half with -0.33 grad filter +20 tint for added magenta in sky

Landscape photography processing: On the left is the original RAW file straight off the camera, on the right is my edit using the PROCESS tab in Lightroom.

There are tonnes of videos on YouTube showing various landscape photography processing workflows in Lightroom, one person I’ve learnt a lot from and watched heaps of their videos is Serge Ramelli

As you can see, I prefer more vibrant & saturated colours, something that comes out great on Pixelpaint canvases, their colour reproduction and quality of finish is stunning and all my photos I’ve had printed to canvas by them have looked amazing.

ABOUT ADRIAN HODGE

Adrian Hodge Photography

Adrian Hodge is an enthusiastic landscape photography expert based in Rotorua, New Zealand.

He loves taking photos of landscapes, experimenting with HDR (High Dynamic Range), long exposures, panoramas & astro-photography.

Want More?

Check out Adrian's work on his website or on his Facebook page

Panoramic Photos – How To Shoot & Process

Panoramic Photos - How To Shoot & Process 

Printed panoramic photos looks a little out the ordinary and can really set off a room.  Beyond the simple world of automatic mobile phone panoramics, Werner Kaffl has perfected the art of the high resolution, high detail. stunning panoramic shot.

In this article he tells us how to replicate one of the many incredible panoramic photos he sells in galleries around the country.

"Many people just use their mobile phones to shoot a panorama. Those look alright on social media, but with such a small lens and sensor, those panoramas lack quite some detail and quality on a big screen or even printed. Also, you don’t have much control over the outcome." - Werner Kaffl

Gear: What's needed?

Camera:

Most digital cameras can be used. 

This tutorial goes for DSLR, but essentially the process is similar with cheaper gear.

Lens:

As panoramics typically cover a wide area, you'll want to use a wide angle lens rather than a zoom lens, if possible.

The ideal lenses will have little distortion but high sharpness.

Tripod:

A good idea is a tripod with a pano head, but in bright daylight handheld shooting is possible too (for 1-row panos).

A pano head has some important features...

It can be adjusted to different vertical angles and then be moved horizontally (or the other way round for vertical panoramas), many will even have scales. It becomes essential when shooting more than one row, as you need to keep the same vertical angle for each shot in each row.

Many tripods have a so called “ballhead”, which allows you to fix a camera in any angle, but those aren’t very good for panoramic photos shooting.

Filters:

Not essential, but some filters can be useful too, especially for sunsets (or sunrises).

Preparation: What you need to know

1st:  First it’s important to know if you want to shoot during daytime or in twilight/night.

2nd: You need to know how high OR wide your panorama shot will be.

For example, most sun sets will be horizontal panoramas, but a milky way shot can be a vertical pano.

The Process: Shooting

Panoramas can consist of just 2 images (easiest version of a 1 row pano) as well as virtually any number of shots at different vertical angles (multi-row pano).

To capture as much as possible in any given scene, you'll be shooting in rows.

For example, 10 shots when the camera is pointing down a bit, to capture the foreground, then another row of 10, camera pointing up slightly, to capture the sky and distant scenery.

I like to use graduated filters which darken the upper, bright part of a sun set, but leave the bottom part clear. This allows to expose longer without blowing out the highlights, and this gives you effects like creamy looking clouds or milky looking water.

The Shoot:

In daylight, without a tripod, you should try to shoot in one direction (I shoot left to right).

You should try to keep your vertical angle (if there is a horizon, try to keep the horizon at the same height of each shot).

Your single shots should overlap at least by 30% - I personally overlap up to 70%, more shots make more detail.  Also, if one pic sucks, you can just leave it out.

You should not change camera settings (like exposure) within a row, as this would cause darker or lighter patches in the final picture.

If your pano has more than 1 row, shoot each row in the same direction as the others. The single rows should overlap as well, at least 30% or more.

When shooting a sunset (multi row), you might start shooting from the bottom row, then the next higher row etc. Reason being, it’s getting darker quickly, and that way you get still good light on the foreground.  In the next row it’s already darker and the highlights won’t blow out too much.

For sunrises it’s the other way round.

Pro Tip:  

Shoot sceneries which give you enough reference points – i.e. if you shoot 100 degrees of horizon, the stitching software can’t find differences between photos and so it can’t determine which shot belongs to what place within the pano.

The Process: Stitching

If you use a DSLR, you would shoot in RAW, and I assume you are already familiar with converting the RAWs to JPG format, adjusting contrast etc.

Usually you would process all of them the same way, otherwise you will get patches.

Stitching Programs:

There are a lot of programs out there for stitching. Many of you will use Photoshop for editing and stitching.

I personally prefer Microsoft ICE. It’s freeware, more powerful and a lot faster than Photoshop or Lightroom. But that’s personal preference, and if ICE fails, I can still try Photoshop.

Here is a pano, stitched “manually”, to show how it might look like without panorama software.

It not only puts the shots together, it also alters distortion etc. You can also see how far those shots overlap. This one is composed of 38 single photos in 2 rows of 19 shots in portrait mode each.

The final version is over 150 Mega Pixels, should be easily printed to a size of 4 m wide or more, without losing detail.

Panoramic photos: Werner Kaffl - Panoramic Shot Manually Stitched

Panoramic photos: Werner Kaffl - Panoramic Shot, Manually Stitched

The Results:

Below is the result I got with ICE – Color, contrast and highlights needed to be adjusted too, as you will have variations in your single shots, “steps” in the horizon and clouds needed to be corrected (as clouds moved during the shooting).

Mostly this will be done in Photoshop (or similar software), which allows you to brighten or darken parts of a photo – and a lot more, which I might explain in another article, as this doesn’t only count for panoramas.

Panoramic photos: Werner Kaffl - Panoramic Shot - Stitched With ICE

Panoramic photos: Werner Kaffl - Panoramic Shot - Stitched With ICE

I used a 24 mm wide angle lens for this, which allows quite a high level of detail, here a 100% crop from bottom right:

Panoramic photos: Werner Kaffl - Panoramic Shot - Close Up

Panoramic photos: Werner Kaffl - Panoramic Shot - Close Up

Getting an amazing result like this can be a quite long and complicated process...  on some of my photos I work 10 hours or more to get them right!

ABOUT WERNER KAFFL

Originally from Germany, Wener's passion for Photography started with his first 1.2 MP digital canon camera, which he quickly outgrew.

After moving to NZ in 2010 his interest in low light and astro photography was ignited after seeing some astro photos on the internet.  Like many photographers, this meant a lot of learning, stocking up on gear and practise with post shoot processing.

Want More?

Check out Werner's work on his website or on Smugmug

He also runs 1on1 and group coaching sessions, so get in touch via email!

Pet Photography Perfection – 6 Tips and Tricks from The Pet Posse

Pet Photography Perfection - 6 Tips and Tricks from The Pet Posse

We print hundreds of pet photography shots at Pixelpaint every year, so we asked Kelly, Tara and Carol from The Pet Posse for their top 6 pet photography tips and tricks for those of you wanting to take better photos of your own furry pals!

1. Keep it fun!

If your pet is showing signs of stress or isn’t happy in front of the camera, step back and give them a bit of space or even put the camera away completely and try another day.

Even the most beautiful pet photography portrait in the world is not worth making your pet stressed or uncomfortable.

Always remember to take plenty of breaks for your pet to play and relax between photos, and always reward your models!

"We like to use healthy treats, or even just playing a simple game of fetch to reward our models for a job well done.

It keeps them relaxed and makes for better portraits and happier pets."


- Kelly Wolfe

Pet Photography - Make it fun

Here boy!

2. Yes, your background is very important

It is not always possible, or practical, to take your pet to the top of a mountain or to a garden in bloom however home furnishings, plain walls, a stained fence or even their favourite chair can make a beautiful setting.

The important thing to consider is that the background is free from clutter and objects that don’t add anything to the scene - also watch those trees growing out of heads!

Pop the washing basket away, move the kids trike off to the side or clear away that branch, move a step to the side if you need to.

A few seconds now can save you a headache later.

- Tara Sutherland

Background is key in Pet Photography

Your background can make all the difference

3. Eyes are the window to the soul

There are some things that are expected as the focus points in pet photography.

Eyes are definitely top of the list.

Compelling and memorable moments all give a sense of connection and the number one way humans make a connection is generally by making eye contact.

This is the same for portrait pictures.

Essentially, that means that to make a compelling and memorable portrait of your furry friend, it is likely you will need to focus on their eyes.

- Carol Howell

Eye contact is key

Eye, eye!

4. Get on their level

While you can get some great shots of your pet when you are standing (the bobble head is one of our favourite poses!), try changing up your angle to find a fresh perspective.

Pet Photography - Bobblehead

The "Bobblehead"

We recommend getting down to your pets level, on the ground if you have to, and really capture their personality.

If you end up with clean clothes at the end then you’re not doing it right!

- Kelly Wolfe

Be on their level

Get down and dirty.

5. Get Attention - Woof, Moo, Meow, Quack

Cats are visual creatures so to get their attention, slowly introduce a toy such as a toy mouse or a fishing lure.

- Cats often need a little space and time to warm to you so be patient.

- Dogs on the other hand will most often react to noises.

The people around you will find this hilarious but if you practice your repertoire in the shower, the giggles you get from those around will be outweighed by the reaction, and gorgeous head tilt, that you get from your pet.

- Tara Sutherland

Don't be afraid of sounding silly when getting their attention

Peek-a-boo!

6. Keep your shutter speed fast and your photos sharp!

If you have a camera that doesn’t allow you to set your shutter speed, try using the “Sports” mode when working with pets to keep your photos sharp.

For action pictures with a camera with manual controls, I start with a shutter speed of 1/1200 and go up if I have to.

- For still portraits, I start with a shutter speed of 1/800 MINIMUM to avoid blur.

You may also like to select your own aperture and depending on if you want the background to blur or stay in focus.

PRO TIP: Remember, the smaller the number, the shallower the depth of field and the brighter your image.

Personally, I love the depth of field from f/2.8 or wider.

It gives a beautiful blurry background and separates your subject from the background.

- Carol Howell

Nice depth of field shot

Sports mode or fast shutter speed will do the trick


ABOUT THE PET POSSE

The Pet Posse

Each member of The Pet Posse spends countless hours each month photographing their own, and others, pets.

They share their images via their Facebook pages and Instagram accounts and enjoy answering the questions they receive on how to create photographs worth printing and sharing.

Want More?

Check out their eBook "Click, Click, Treat – The Pet Posse Pet Photography Ebook"

OR

Attend one of their New Zealand Pet Photography Workshops tailored especially for beginner, intermediate and advanced Pet Photographers

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