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LEICA M10 A modern classic?

Practical advice for enthusiasts and pros

Issue 192



Four solid contenders fight it out

Our guide to profitable photos


BLACK & WHITE Discover how the masters of mono create their works of art Work with

GELS combine colour with a creative optic

NIKON D7500 REVIEWED How does this appealing DX-format DSLR perform ?


unlock the secrets of

SUBTLE LIGHTING create better portraits with pro advice

PERFECT YOUR PROCESSING digital darkroom essentials

Issue 192

© Lee Frost


“The brutal reality is that great black and white is hard to achieve – really hard, in fact” Welcome to the latest issue of Digital Photographer magazine. Black and white photography can be all too readily dismissed as a somewhat lazy means of rescuing dull or uninspiring colour shots. But the brutal reality is that great black and white is hard to achieve – really hard, in fact. In many photographs, the most attention-grabbing thing is something related to colour, so when you are in a world without colour it can be far harder to achieve impact. In this issue, expert photographer Lee Frost has put together a guide to achieving high impact without colour and shooting your best ever black and white images. You’ll ind it on p30.

Meanwhile on p42 you can discover the secrets of subtle lighting. Hannah Couzens explains all there is to know about enhancing your portraits with her advice for the careful and skilled application of light. We’ve also got a guide to perfecting your processing skills, looking at the ins and outs of editing and explaining some of the essential considerations involved. You can ind it on p52 of the magazine. We’ve also got a great mix of shooting tutorials, product reviews, career advice and interviews to expand your creative horizons and your industry knowledge. We’d love to see your own photos, so don’t forget to upload them to Matt Bennett, Editor

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Senior Designer Jo Smolaga Production Editor Rachel Terzian Staff Writer Peter Fenech Senior Art Editor Rebecca Shaw Group Editor in Chief Chris George Photographer James Sheppard Contributors Mark Bauer, Ewen Bell, Kevin Carter, Hannah Couzens, Lee Frost, Rebecca Greig, Amy Hennessey, Jake Hicks, Rod Lawton, Lauren Scott, Simon Skellon Cover images © Lee Frost, Hannah Couzens, Peter Fenech Advertising Digital or printed media packs are available on request. Commercial Sales Director Clare Dove Senior Advertising Manager Amanda Burns +44 (0)1225 687286 Account Manager Matt Bailey +44 (0)1225 687511 Senior Sales Executive Claire Harris +44 (0)1225 687221

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Our contributors PEtER FEnEch

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This issue we are very pleased to welcome our new Staff Writer, Peter, who has put together an in-depth guide on how to perfect your post-processing skills. Read it on p52. Want to start selling your imagery? Peter also gives us some top tips for shooting for cards and calendar publishers, over on p80.

This issue, one of the UK’s leading landscape photographers Mark Bauer has been out shooting with four carbon-ibre landscape tripods, putting them through rigorous testing to ind out which offering he would recommend for landscape shooting. Read his verdict on p88.







As one of the UK’s best-known landscape and travel photographers, Lee certainly knows a thing or two about capturing images that have impact and leave a lasting impression. On p30, Lee explores the world of black and white photography, and gives us his pro advice on capturing images with ‘wow’ factor.


Hannah is an award-winning professional portrait photographer who has worked with many high-proile clients, and this issue she has taken the time to put together a feature on how subtle lighting can really enhance our portraits. You can read her advice over on p42 of the magazine.

Over on p114, read up on some advice from Ewen Bell, a travel photography specialist who is an advocate for being more inclusive in our imagery. Rather than trying to exclude ‘unnecessary’ elements from the frame, Ewen’s pro column encourages us to embrace more complex compositions. Jake Hicks is an expert in producing dynamic, captivating portraits with the use of coloured gels, and over on p66 of the magazine he gives us a helpful step-by-step guide to shooting and editing an alluring portrait with the help of a creative Lensbaby lens and some colourful gels.

Management Finance & Operations Director Marco Peroni Creative Director Aaron Asadi Art & Design Director Ross Andrews Printing & Distribution Wyndeham Bicester, Granville Way, Bicester, OX26 4QZ Distributed in the UK, Eire & the Rest of the World by Marketforce, 5 Churchill Place, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5HU 0203 787 9060


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Disclaimer The publisher cannot accept responsibility for any unsolicited material lost or damaged in the post. All text and layout is the copyright of Future Publishing Ltd. Nothing in this magazine may be reproduced in whole or part without the written permission of the publisher. All copyrights are recognised and used speciically for the purpose of criticism and review. Although the magazine has endeavoured to ensure all information is correct at time of print, prices and availability may change. This magazine is fully independent and not afiliated in any way with the companies mentioned herein. If you submit material to Future Publishing via post, email, social network or any other means, you automatically grant Future Publishing an irrevocable, perpetual, royalty-free licence to use the material across its entire portfolio, in print, online and digital, and to deliver the material to existing and future clients, including but not limited to international licensees for reproduction in international, licensed editions of Future Publishing products. Any material you submit is sent at your risk and, although every care is taken, neither Future Publishing nor its employees, agents or subcontractors shall be liable for the loss or damage.

© 2017 Future Publishing Ltd ISSN 1477-6650

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@ Johan Lennartsson



The Gallery

Your Images


10 The Gallery

30 Shoot your best black and white

Some of our favourite images from the Digital Photographer website

18 Story Behind the Still

Learn how to perfect your black and white photography skills and shoot monochrome images with impact

Find out how William Lee captured his perfectly timed crown splash image

42 Secrets of subtle lighting

In Focus

Follow Hannah Couzens’ pro advice and discover how to enhance your portraits with the addition of subtle lighting effects

20 News

52 Perfect your processing

The latest product announcements and industry developments

Post-production is now an essential element of the photographer’s worklow, so learn how to further develop your skills

@ Hannah Couzens

Contents 42

Secrets of subtle lighting


Perfect your processing

22 Interview We chat to newborn photography expert Melanie East about what it takes to be successful in this genre

64 The pros and cons of social media We take a look at social sharing sites and their potential beneits and pitfalls

Go Pro 80 Career Feature Start selling your images by learning how to shoot for cards and calendars

114 Pro Column Ewen Bell advises us to change our perspective and be more inclusive 6

Shooting Skills 66 Create a captivating portrait with coloured gels Learn how to produce a striking portrait with a Lensbaby and some coloured gels

74 Shoot stunning macro images with lash Follow our step-by-step guide to learn how to light a reversed-lens macro shot

76 Nikon Master Your Camera Pro wildlife photographer and Nikon ambassador Richard Peters discussses the beneits of the brand and key skills

@ Johan Lennartsson

Edit & Share

@ Lee Frost


Shoot your best black and white


Create a captivating portrait with coloured gels

Nikon D7500

@ Jake Hicks



@ Melanie East

66 Reviews 88 Group test Mark Bauer tests four landscape tripods to see which comes out on top

96 Nikon D7500 We take this new offering from Nikon out for a spin to see how it performs

100 Leica M10 A beautifully crafted camera – but how does it fare in our testing?

102 Lenses Kevin Carter gives us his in-depth review on two more optics this month

106 WhiteWall Acrylic Mini We take a look at this stylish option for displaying your favourite photos

Subscribe and save

108 Mini group test We pit four multi-card readers against each other – which came out on top?

110 Software Two photo-editing options are put under the spotlight

112 Accessories A roundup of products that photographers might consider


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The Gallery Š Mike Atkinson

Some of the best images from our website Mike Atkinson DP Gallery address: darlo2k3 Image title: Sandhaven Sunrise How did you decide on the composition? I wanted the Herd Groyne Lighthouse to be the focal point during the colours of sunrise. What do you like most about this image? I like the sand patterns caused by the

receding tide – I knew I had to use them as foreground interest. What camera, lens and settings did you use to capture this stunning shot? I used a Canon EOS 600D with the Sigma 1020mm lens at 11mm, 1/5sec, f16, ISO 100. Did you do much post-processing? Post-processing was done in Lightroom where contrast and vibrancy were adjusted.

Upload your images to our online gallery now for your chance to be printed in the magazine. Go to


WIN! SAMSUNG 32GB MICROSDHC PRO PLUS WITH SD ADAPTER Every issue one reader gallery entry wins a 32GB MicroSDHC PRO PLUS memory card with SD adapter worth £50.99, boasting blazing-fast read & write speeds of up to 95MB/s & 90MB/s respectively, which is ideal for professional shooting and 4K UHD recording. To ind out more information visit samsung. com/memorycards.



Michael de Sanctis

© Michael de Sanctis

DP Gallery address: michaeldesanctis Image title: Winter is here…in July?


“Being a fan of Game of Thrones I was fascinated by the new promotional poster of the characters and I thought about making a self-portrait following that style. I used a black background, a large front stripbox (to imitate the frontal light of the ire) with a blue gel for a very Game of Thrones look.”

Johan Lennartsson

© Johan Lennartsson

DP Gallery address: Image title: Flamingo “This photo was taken during a visit to the local zoo. I liked the beautiful colours of the lamingos, however it was dificult to get an image due to the cluttered background. The solution was to zoom in on the most interesting part of the bird and to let the background fall out of focus.”

Basia Pawlik

© Basia Pawlik

DP Gallery address: basiapawlik Image title: Karina “In summer 2015 I started shooting in my own studio. I tend to work with natural light from the window but here I used lashlights with red and blue coloured gels on a very subtle level. I like the mood we created: the look of an exotic princess, with the mysterious pose.”



Graham Borthwick

“This image was taken during a works trip in Oslo, Norway and is of the train station escalator from one of the platforms. I took the image as I loved the way the light relected across the numerous metallic objects yet still maintained its symmetry.”

© Max Mazurenko

© Graham Borthwick

DP Gallery address: GBorthwick Image title: Right to the End

Max Mazurenko DP Gallery address: MaxMazurenko Image title: The Woman in Red “I was lucky to have the sun shining through the leaves to create a soft light on the model’s face – I always try to use natural light. The idea was to show the beautiful eyes of Kristina and the green background has a pleasant connection to the colour of the eyes – my favourite part of the image.”



The besT of Flora and Fauna

The winners of our latest contest with Photocrowd and Lexar have been revealed


n our most recent contest in association with Photocrowd, we challenged you to submit your best images of lora and fauna, and after sifting through over 4,500 impressive images – breaking a Photocrowd record – the winners have been selected. The expert winner will receive a 128GB 1066x CompactFlash card and the CFR1 Worklow Reader, and the crowd’s favourite will win a 128GB 1000x SD card and the SR2 Worklow Reader. Congratulations to all of the winners!

1ST PLACE WINNER Beauty of nature Photographer: Tahir Abbas our comment: The blue tones in this image are absolutely stunning. The yellow of the butterfly really pops off the page and draws the viewer straight into the image. This beautiful capture stood out for us very early on in the judging process.

WIN! Professional Vanguard products! Enter our Play with Perspective contest in association with Photocrowd and Vanguard Change your perspective and capture something from a new angle, shoot with a different lens and create abstract scenes by harnessing the power of distortion, or simply just take a new approach. We want to see you play with the perspective in your imagery and submit the best results for the chance to win great


prizes from Vanguard! both crowd voted and expert winner will get a Veo Discover 41 bag (£69.99) and Veo AM-204 monopod (£34.99), perfect for photographers on the go. enter now at The contest closes on 15 october 2017.




Pufin through bluebells 2

Wildlower meadow

Photographer: Eric Browett our comment: A very creative shot of a pufin. We love that the photographer has utilised the aperture in order to create a beautiful blur around the subject of the image. The pufin sits just off centre, which really adds to the overall effect.

Photographer: David Queenan our comment: The interesting sky is what irst attracted us to this image and made it stand out against the other entrants. The angle that the photographer has captured the image from is also very striking – it makes the wildlowers appear taller so that they dominate the frame.

1ST PLACE CROWD VOTED The Perfect ascent

Photographer: Ita Martin



Story behind the Still Photographer: William lee Website: Location: Camas, Washington, USA Type of commission: Personal work Shot details: Canon eoS 7d with eF 70-200mm f/2.8l iS ii USM lens; 1 second at f11, iSo 400 About the shot: The crown splash is a popular subject for high-speed photographers, but as William Lee points out, it’s very rare that the phenomenon is combined with another subject in an image, such as this frog. “I considered this combination a unique, creative and interesting subject for me to tackle. I’d had the idea for years but had to wait until I had the proper equipment to do it,” he explains. “The highest shutter speed in most of the modern DSLR cameras (1/8,000sec) is not enough to freeze some high-speed phenomena, however in a relatively dark environment, the ambient light can be overridden by speedlights. A speedlight with a 1/128 power setting can cut down the actual exposure time to as short as 43 microseconds, which is fast enough to freeze a crown splash. The real challenge was that I couldn’t determine when to press the shutter button in order to capture the right moment of the splash. I spent some time researching and designed a homemade electronic device to control the timing which I now use for all of my high-speed photographs. “The frog was sickened by herbicide and was shot in Camas, Washington. I had the chance to observe her response to the splash, which was so huge in comparison to her size. I was worried she might blink and I might end up capturing an image with her eyelids half closed. “I set up my camera on a sturdy tripod, using three speedlights at 1/128 power as the primary lighting sources. An infrared sensor was mounted below the dripper to trigger a signal for the microprocessor in my homemade device, to determine the best timing to ire the speedlights. With a few test drips, I was able to determine the best time delay between the sensor signal and the triggering signal for the speedlights.”


All images © William Lee


Frog observing crown splash William lee foresaw several challenges when capturing this image. “i thought there would be another challenge in that the frog would jump away whenever a water drop hit the surface. Surprisingly, she was not only as calm, but also did not blink her eyes, as if she was observing the spectacle.”


NIKON UNLEASHES THE SUPER-CHARGED D850 The 45-megapixel successor to the Nikon D810 combines high resolution, high-speed shooting and 4K video After a three-year wait, Nikon has announced a replacement for its successful D810 in the shape of the D850. The new full-frame model (FX in Nikon notation) fuses features from several lines of the company’s products, blending high resolution with greater speed and high sensitivity. The camera shares multiple features with the lagship D5 and several key systems have been upgraded from the D810. The integration of the latest Expeed 5 image processor supports an increased burst rate of seven frames per second, up from 5fps on the D810, expandable to 9fps using the optional MB-D18 battery grip. Nikon claims the processor also increases in-camera RAW image-handling speeds by 17x. Autofocus is a system that has seen a major upgrade – the 51 AF points of the D810 have been replaced with the D5’s 153-point system, 99 of which are cross-type sensors for extra sensitivity. 15 of these are further sensitive for use at a maximum aperture of f8 and the camera can


autofocus in lighting as low as -4EV, compared with -2EV on the D810. A dedicated autofocus engine has been added for greater focusing speed and accuracy. A new Back-Side Illuminated (BSI) CMOS sensor is present, armed with 45.7MP, the BSI technology permitting a new top ISO of 102,400 despite the high pixel count. Like its predecessor, the D850 lacks an anti-aliasing ilter to maximise detail capture. Video is another area to beneit from processing updates, with the new Nikon able to shoot 4K UHD full-frame footage. This increases the D850’s appeal as a portable, high-resolution camera for ilmmakers wanting broadcast-quality without the expense of a dedicated video camera. In terms of the design, the LCD is now articulated, aiding dificult compositions, while the screen resolution has been almost doubled to 2,350K dots. We look forward to giving the D850 a full test in the near future to see how it performs. It is on sale now for £3,500 body only.


Touchscreen LCD The D850 has an articulated 3.2in touchscreen – better than the D810’s ixed LCD Below-bottom

Impressive detail The FX-format D850 produces detailed images thanks to its 45.7MP CMOS sensor


Olympus gets set with Mark III OM-D E-M10

This popular lightweight interchangeable-lens mirrorless camera now boasts 4K video Olympus has introduced the latest addition to the OM-D range of mirrorless cameras, the OM-D E-M10 Mark III. Conirming online rumours, a new 4K UHD video mode has been added, upgrading the Full HD resolution available on the Mark II. Also new is a TruePic VIII image processor, which Olympus claims improves noise performance when shooting under low-light conditions. This latest-generation E-M10 retains the iveaxis image stabilisation system found on the OM-D E-M1 Mark II, enabling photographers to shoot hand-held at shutter speeds up to four stops slower. A contrast-detection AF system is included, featuring 121 AF points – an increase over the Mark II’s 81. The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III is available priced £630 body only or £699 with 14-42mm pancake lens. A twin-lens kit, which adds the 40150mm R telezoom, is available for £799.


Micro Four Thirds The OM-D E-M10 Mark III keeps the Micro 4/3 lens compatibility of previous models


Flexible shooting An articulated LCD helps with low-level shooting and self-portrait capture

Canon adds four new lenses

Canon bolsters mirrorless line-up

Three TS-E lenses are added to the EF range – as well as a new 85mm prime and a macro speedlight Details of four new professional L-series lenses have been released: an 85mm f1.4 prime and a trio of macro tilt-shift optics. The EF 85mm f1.4L IS USM is a fast, ixed focallength lens built for portrait photographers. It features a four-stop image stabiliser, nine-blade circular aperture and single aspherical lens with ASC coating, for reduced internal relections. The TS-E 50mm f2.8L Macro, TS-E 90mm f2.8L Macro and TS-E 135mm f4L Macro all contain Ultra Low Dispersion glass and lens element coatings in their construction, for enhanced edge-to-edge resolution and minimal chromatic aberration. The Macro Twin Lite MT-26EX-RT lash provides even light coverage when working up close and consists of two detachable lights. This new model boasts lower recharge noise and a brighter focusing lamp than its predecessor. The 85mm lens has a recommended price of £1,569, the three new TS-E optics will go on sale for £2,499 and the updated macro lash costs £1,079. All these new products go on sale in November.

Canon has announced its new EOS M-series camera, the EOS M100 – a 24.2MP model with a Digic 7 image processor and 6.1fps shooting rate. The new product replaces the 18MP EOS M10 and adds better autofocus (using Dual Pixel technology) and adds a higher 60fps video frame rate. It still has a 180-degree articulated LCD, to appeal to the ‘selie generation’. The camera body is priced at £450. Then there were five Canon will now have ive different tilt-shift lenses in its L-series range, ranging from a 17mm to a 135mm


Colour me beautiful The M100 comes in three colours, but can be further customised with optional colour jackets





Beauty sleep This newborn baby was wrapped by me and then snuggled into a newborn prop bed. The parents were millimetres away from her for safety and have been removed in post-production All images Š Melanie East

BaBy sTeps Melanie East discusses what it takes to succeed in the demanding ield of newborn photography


elanie east a.M.p.a. is one of the UK’s most respected leading newborn photographers and one of the most highly qualiied in newborn photography, having been the irst to achieve associateship qualiication with the renowned Master photographers association (the Mpa). she has over ten years of experience photographing newborn babies. as well as teaching global newborn photography workshops and 1:1 newborn photographing training days, Melanie also runs her newborn photography studio in Bristol which has an established client base. Melanie is a Judge for the Master photographers association, a mentor for

its members and was responsible for developing the new Mpa qualiication for newborn photographers with the emphasis on safety of the newborn baby. Melanie is additionally a published author on the subject of newborn photography. How did you first become interested in photography? I have loved photography ever since I can remember. I decided to change career from lawyer to photographer when I was pregnant with my daughter 15 years ago. I decided that I wanted a career that I could work around my family, and one which would be rewarding, creative and lucrative. When carried out properly, newborn photography ticks all of those boxes.


What are the key skills required to become a successful newborn photographer? Aside from photographic skills, you need to possess a good business mind to be able to run your business effectively, and good interpersonal skills to be able to interact with your clients. Practically speaking, newborn babies are photographed usually within the irst two weeks of life, and therefore they can be unpredictable. Some babies may be on a growth spurt and wanting to feed continuously, some babies may be wide awake, other babies may sleep right through the session. You also need to have a sensitive personality that can read the cues of both the baby and the mother, remembering that the mother will be absolutely exhausted. A newborn photographer needs to be able to control the session as far as they are able, and to think on their feet. The importance of newborn photography training cannot be overstated.

“You need a sensitive personality that can read the cues of both the baby and the mother”

What do you think are the key marketing skills needed to run a successful business? It is essential to have a fabulous range of products available in your studio to show your client, which will showcase your work in the best possible light. I am a huge believer that families and newborns should exist in print and that images should not languish on a hard drive never to see the light of day. I love being able to offer totally bespoke products to my clients. When clients fall in love with your imagery, your client service and the products you offer, they tell all their friends and they show their friends – and to that end, they do an element of marketing for you. Networking with like-minded businesses is also key. What kind of person should you ideally be? Patient, calm and unlappable with a good head for business. It is essential to retain a calm atmosphere even when a newborn session is not going to plan. If you become impatient or stressed then both mother and baby will pick up on that. My studio sessions are always calm and relaxed. Less than ive per cent of babies photographed in my studio cry. I understand their cues and sleep patterns and I know how to transition them from pose to pose in a very calm and comfortable manner. It is essential that both mother and baby are happy and comfortable – for many, it is their irst trip out since giving birth. You also need to possess excellent interpersonal skills. Many photographers forget that photographing the baby is only 50 per cent of the job: without a good business head, sales and marketing skills, and great products to offer, you don’t have a viable business. What camera kit do you use and why? I currently use the Canon EOS 5D Mark III. It is a superb full-frame camera which



Two of a kind Texture adds interest to images. These twins were posed by me into soft fabric


Rise and shine This newborn baby woke up and looked straight into the camera, allowing me to create a beautiful awake portrait for the parents

Opposite top

Comfort is key This baby was beautifully posed on her back into a padded woollen bowl for comfort. I shot from above with the camera strap around my neck for safety

Opposite bottom

Tiny grin This baby smiled and I was able to capture it as a beautiful memory for the parents. The baby is posed in Daddy’s hands



10 essential tips Melanie’s crucial advice for succeeding in the business



Undertake newborn photography training. You should be fully trained before you even start. I offer bespoke 1:1 training tailor-made to the photographer’s exact requirements (







Never leave the baby unattended in a prop or on the newborn posing beanbag. A newborn’s head should always be supported if the baby is in a forward-facing pose. Room temperature is also very important.

If possible, prepare the studio in advance. Consider which colours and textures you will be working with and always set up a prop where the baby can be posed on their back – not all babies like to be on their tummy.

If you rush, you risk making mistakes and becoming stressed. The parents and baby will pick up on a stressful environment. Keep calm and reassure the parents.





Discuss colour palettes with the parents so that you know you are working with colours that will complement their home.

I have shot images with a brown colour palette knowing that it would look beautiful in a Graphistudio sequoia leather portfolio.



Newborn photography is an art and should be priced as such. When deciding what to charge remember you should consider the cost of goods and cost of doing business”





Ensure that your studio has beautiful products that your client can envisage in their home, and discuss the end product with your client so that you have in mind how you will shoot during the session.

If a newborn session is not going well, don’t spend hours and hours trying to settle an unhappy baby – simply reschedule the session. The parents will thank you for it!



The parents will be exhausted having had very little sleep since their baby was born. Treat them sympathetically, professionally and with respect.

26 It’s vitally important to offer your clients high quality print products, rather than only digital iles on a USB stick.

“My priority is to ensure that the newborn is safe and comfortable at all times” produces excellent results. I’ve always been a Canon girl. Do you have a favourite lens? The Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L II is my workhorse lens for newborn photography. This is because it enables me to keep nice and close to the baby for safety reasons. It is an exceptional lens. What retouching techniques do you like to employ for your newborn photography? Less is more. I don’t overprocess my images. My general rule is that if a blemish would naturally disappear within ten days, then I remove it with the parents’ permission. Birth marks and stork/strawberry marks are not airbrushed unless the client speciically requests. I ind that most clients ask me to retouch laky skin. Is there a key technique that you often like to use? It is important to me that there are no distracting elements in the image and that the eye goes straight to the baby. Therefore, I don’t use huge amounts of props or very bright colours. I avoid harsh shadows and keep my

lighting lovely and soft. My main priority, apart from obviously capturing beautiful images, is to ensure that the newborn is safe and comfortable at all times. What advice would you give to someone who wants to get into this genre of photography? Professional training is absolutely essential before you even start. I offer 1:1 training and have taught many successful professional and aspiring photographers throughout the UK and abroad on both the art and business of newborn photography. The health and safety element involved when posing a newborn baby is huge, and too many newborn photographers are taking risks by balancing babies unsupported in props. One day there will be an accident and that does not bear thinking about. It does not make sense to take risks with newborn babies, when risks can easily be avoided. My 1:1 tuition days are tailormade to the delegate’s exact requirements and can include, but are not limited to: safety, lighting, posing, working with props, working with parents and siblings, business and editing. For enquiries please contact DP

we buy any camera .com





Sweet dreams

A delicate subject

This baby was photographed on white, with a white bonnet to create a light, airy feel to the image

I love to use textures in my images as they create interest. Here I incorporated lace for this beautiful baby girl

This baby was gently placed inside a padded bucket with the parents supporting his head. I shot into the dark side of the face to create depth to the image. The parents have been airbrushed out in post-production

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BLACK & WHITE Explore the world of black and white photography and learn how to compose striking monochrome images with impact


hen did you last see a black and white photograph that really inspired and excited you? More importantly, who took it – you? It’s very easy to get complacent, reaching a point where you can produce work that’s technically excellent and creatively sound, but is still lacking that all-important ‘wow’ factor. Putting a inger on exactly what it is that elevates an image from average to amazing is dificult, simply because there are so many factors involved. The lens you choose, the quality of the light, the angle you shoot from, the proximity to your subject – all these factors can either add impact or take it away. Henri Cartier-Bresson’s best-known photographs have impact, but it’s very subtle and a result of careful timing to capture the


‘decisive moment’, rather than because he was photographing high drama. He took ordinary, everyday scenes and elevated them to ine art: a family picnicking on the banks of the River Seine; a man leaping over a puddle; a grinning child walking down the street clutching two bottles of wine. Although Cartier-Bresson’s images appear to be spontaneous, as though he wandered the streets, shooting on the move, he was actually far more premeditated, composing a scene to make use of geometry – lines, curves, shadows, shapes and frames – then waiting for someone to step into that ‘geometric pattern’. As he said in his book The Decisive Moment, “Photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the signiicance of an event as well as of a precise

organisation of forms which give that event its proper expression.” In contrast, American photographer William Klein, one of the fathers of street photography, was renowned for rejecting the rules of photography – using blur in his images, getting up close and personal with a wide-angle lens so you feel like you’re part of the story rather than a voyeur looking in. His compositions are often cluttered, with multiple points of interest. They seem raw and unplanned, sometimes technically lawed, but that gives them a vibrancy and urgency that few manage to achieve. Here we will explore the factors to consider when shooting and editing a black and white image with impact, along with tips on how to really upgrade your monochrome shots.

Slowly does it Long exposures record motion in a scene and enable you to record the passing of time instead of merely freezing it. The misty sea here contrasts strongly with the dark basalt boulders illing the foreground patterns All images @ Lee Frost



SURROUNDINGS Location carefully chosen so the subject would be backlit by the setting sun.

AUTOFOCUS Servo AF was used so the lens continually adjusted focus to keep the cart and driver sharply focused.

EXPOSURE Test shots were taken to make sure the main subject didn’t record in silhouette due to the brightness of the sun.

HEAD-ON A sequence of shots was taken as the cart travelled towards the camera and the best frames were chosen for editing.

A MOVING SUBJECT A fast shutter speed (1/1,000sec) was chosen to make sure the moving cart was captured sharp.



How do we produce black and white images with impact when faced with everyday subjects? It could be argued that a lack of colour makes it more dificult to achieve. After all, colour has great symbolic and emotive value. However, as wonderful as colour photography is, it can also be too familiar. It shows us what things look like and leaves us feeling reassured and comfortable. But in art, reality isn’t always the best solution because it doesn’t encourage us to look beyond familiarity and appreciate an image for any reason other than what it depicts. As soon as you remove colour from an image, everything changes because it no longer represents reality. It’s an interpretation of the world, rather than a copy. Black and white images are more dramatic, more evocative and more atmospheric. Our emotional response to a colour image is often rendered supericial by familiarity, but comes from a much deeper place when we take that colour away. Light, shade, texture and shape take centre stage and what’s actually in the scene becomes almost irrelevant. Good black and white images inspire the viewer to complete the picture in their mind’s eye. The late French photographer Lucien Clergue photographed a diverse range of subjects, from bullights in his hometown of Arles to circus children. However, he’s probably best known for his depiction of the female nude. In the ‘Nus Zebres’ series he photographed models in New York; the use of shadow patterns and contrast transformed his images into poetic abstracts where light and shade take centre stage.



Travel inspiration There’s nothing better than travel to open your mind and improve your skills as a photographer. Exploring different countries and cultures will expose you to amazing photo opportunities

Telephoto lenses compress perspective, so the elements in a scene appear closer together. This effect can be used to add impact to an image because everything in the shot seems to be crowded together. Distant features also loom large in the background and dwarf smaller features closer to the camera.

TAKE AN ABSTRACT VIEW Abstract images gain their appeal not from the fact that you can identify the object recorded, but from the shapes, patterns, tones and textures that make up that object. This means that literally anything can be used as the basis of an abstract image. Look for criss-crossing lines, overlapping shapes and eye-catching angles. Forget about what the subject is and focus on how the elements in your camera’s viewinder can be organised in an interesting way. Experiment, and don’t be afraid to let important elements break out of the frame, or reduce the composition to a bare minimum.





Purists insist that in order to produce meaningful black and white photographs you must ‘see’ in black and white – step beyond the realism of colour, strip your subject down to its bare bones and previsualise how the inal image will look as a monochrome print. There is some truth in this, but it doesn’t have to be the Holy Grail. If you’re exclusively a black and white photographer then you’re going to become attuned to seeing the world in black and white – looking at a combination of colours and instinctively knowing how they’re going to translate to shades of grey, for example. You will also set out with the intention of inding subjects that appeal to your monochrome vision. However, the reality is that few of us fall into that category – we just love going out into the world, shooting pictures, and while the majority of them remain in full colour, some end up as black and white simply because they work better that way. Does that mean those black and white images are going to be inferior? Not necessarily. The post-production control you have over a digital image ile today means that creative decisions can be made long after a photograph has been taken. The master of pre-visualisation was the legendary landscape photographer Ansel Adams. His large-format black and white prints of the American West, primarily Yosemite National Park, have inspired for decades. Adams was a technical genius,

and helped to devise the famous Zone system that enabled him to set the exposure for an image based on how he previsualised the inal print to look. His irst ‘pre-previsualised’ image was ‘Monolith, the Face of Half Dome’, made in Yosemite in 1927. Adams made that image using his last glass plate and put a red ilter on the lens to boost contrast and darken the sky. He later said, “I had been able to realise a desired image: not the way the subject appeared in reality but how it felt to me and how it must appear in the inished print”. That print launched his career and changed the face of landscape photography forever. Another master of the landscape image is British photographer Michael Kenna. Kenna’s work gains impact through simplicity and purity. He attempts “to evoke and suggest through as few elements as possible, rather than to describe with tremendous detail”. Kenna primarily shoots and prints in the square format, which adds symmetry, balance and tranquillity to his images, and often his compositions are distilled down to the simplest forms – a single tree in a snowy landscape, or ishing nets out at sea captured with a long exposure, for example.

“Step beyond the realism of colour, strip your subject down to its bare bones and previsualise how the final image will look”

CHANGE YOUR VIEWPOINT The norm in photography is to shoot at eye level, however, by intentionally shooting from alternative viewpoints or unusual angles, you can add an element of surprise to your images that grabs the viewer’s attention. Try holding the camera a few inches above the ground – if it has an articulated screen you’ll still be able to see what you’re shooting. Or shoot from a higher position: standing on a wall or climbing some stairs can make a huge difference.







Repeat after me

Quirky compositions

Use patterns and repetition to add impact to your images. This is easier to do in black and white because there’s no colour to distract. Increasing contrast during postproduction is an effective way to boost shadow patterns

Don’t always strive to capture scenes in a familiar way. Black and white is unrealistic by its very nature, so make the most of that by looking for unusual subjects, or shooting the ordinary in a way that makes it extraordinary

PERSEVERE It took several attempts to get this shot right – a good example of ‘if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again’!

TIMING This shot was carefully timed so the cyclist didn’t obscure the graffiti on the wall.

MOTION BLUR Shutter speed carefully chosen to blur the cyclist by just the right amount.

TWEAK IN POST Contrast boosted during post-production to make the image punchier.

CONSIDER THE FRAME The edges of the image were darkened during postproduction to help frame the revolutionary graffiti.



AMBIGUITY The image works because it has an abstract feel – it takes a while to work out just what it is you’re looking at.

LOOK FOR INTERESTING PATTERNS The subject (an ornate lamp) was photographed from directly beneath looking up to emphasise the pattern in the design.

VIGNETTE The vignetting at the image’s edges is natural, created by the fall-off in light from the lamp itself.

ISO SETTINGS A high ISO (3200) was necessary to take the shot handheld in the low light of the interior.



COMPOSITION Image cropped to a square to emphasise the symmetry of the subject and make the composition more balanced.


celebrate the ordinary Though travel is exciting and inspiring, you can produce fantastic images on your doorstep. The great thing about shooting locally is you can go back to the same locations time after time and make the most of dramatic light and weather

CROP IT Although best practice is to try and compose your images in-camera as you want them to be, don’t be afraid to crop during post-production if doing so will produce a stronger image. Cropping can tighten up a ‘windy’ composition and get rid of unwanted elements. A square crop can also transform the look and feel of an image.

MAKE A FEATURE OF THE SKY When we shoot landscape images, we often tilt our cameras down to make the most of foreground interest, and the sky becomes nothing more than a sorry slither running across the top of the frame. In many situations, this approach is necessary as a boring sky dilutes impact. But there will be times when the sky is more interesting than the landscape, and that’s when you need to change your approach, tilting the camera up instead of down so the sky is celebrated in all its glory.




Putting yourself into the right mindset to ‘see’ in black and white can be tricky, but it’s an obstacle that can easily be overcome. You could set your DSLR to Monochrome mode then shoot in both RAW and JPEG – the image you see on your camera’s preview screen will be black and white, so you’ll have a good idea of how the scene translates, but you’ll also have a colour RAW ile on the memory card which you can work on later. The other option is to shoot as normal, in colour, then decide later which images you want to convert. Some will work, others won’t, but there’s no reason why you won’t end up with some great images. Ultimately, photographs of any subject can have impact if you want them to, whether it’s a landscape, a close-up or a portrait. All it takes is conidence and commitment. You need to approach the subject purposefully, be prepared to take creative risks, make mistakes, push your skills to the limit and see what happens. As Michael Kenna once said, “Nothing is ever the same twice because everything is always gone forever, and yet each moment has ininite possibilities.”

MOVE CLOSER “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough,” so said the late great Robert Capa. It’s a useful maxim to adopt no matter what subjects you shoot. Not getting close enough is perhaps one of the biggest mistakes photographers make. Landscapes with no foreground interest, portraits surrounded by unnecessary space, candids snapped from too far away… There seems to be a fear of getting up close and personal to the subject, but it makes a huge difference to the impact of the inal image.






Wide views Wide-angle lenses add impact to any image due to the way they exaggerate perspective. Use lines to lead the eye into the scene – converging lines work best, and shoot from a low position to really emphasise foreground interest


Keep it simple Simple compositions have impact because they deliver a more direct message. Winter is a great time to shoot minimalist images because snow covers the landscape and hides all but the boldest features

ENHANCED Contrast has been boosted during post-production to simplify the tonal range of the image and increase impact.

BETTER IN BLACK AND WHITE The black church stands out boldly against the snow-covered mountain.

WELL-BALANCED The church has been roughly positioned according to the rule of thirds for compositional balance.

MINIMALIST Freshly fallen snow covers most of the ground so detail is lost and the composition simplified.

LEADING LINES Ridges of grass protruding through the snow add foreground interest and lead the eye to the church.


tECHNIQUES BEFORE Original colour I like to get my images close to inished in-camera, so here I used a 0.9 ND grad on the lens to record the drama in the sky

AFTER conversion Only basic editing was required to maximise the drama and impact of the original image. That sky is biblical!


BE BOLD Producing black and white images with impact requires conidence, especially when it comes to image editing. Unfortunately, many photographers are too subtle about the whole process and end up with lacklustre results. What you need to do is forget about realism. Black and white isn’t realistic, so your images don’t have to be. We’re not suggesting that you go over-the-top for the sake of it, but just because a photograph started its life looking rather lat and subdued, it doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. Throw caution to the wind. Let your creative hair down. Be brave!


The inal image may bear no resemblance to the original, but if it says what you want it to say, then that’s absolutely ine! There are numerous applications you can use to convert colour images to mono at the touch of a button. One of the best is Silver Efex Pro 2, part of the excellent Google Nik Collection (available as a free download from The High Contrast and High Structure presets are ideal for producing punchy, dramatic black and white images if you want a quick ix, while the colour ilter effects are handy for boosting contrast and changing the tonal relationship in the image.


Open the RAW ile This shot was taken in stormy conditions so the unedited ile does show potential for being a powerful black and white image. However, to maximise the drama of the scene it’s going to need gutsy editing.



Convert to B&W Save the image as a 16-bit TIFF then open in Silver Efex Pro 2 (Filters>Nik>Silver Efex Pro 2). This is how the basic black and white version of the image looks. It’s not bad, but lacks ‘wow’ factor.



Almost there The second High Structure preset produces a much better result – plenty of texture and tone in the landscape, and those clouds look amazing. Further tweaks can be made using the sliders in the top right.




Make selective tweaks Select the brighter area of sky using the Polygonal Lasso Tool in Photoshop, feathering set to 200 to give a soft transition. Adjust Levels to darken the area of sky to balance it with the rest of the image.

Make basic adjustments In ACR, click the Auto tab to see what effect this has on the image. Contrast is given a slight boost, but that’s about it. Lens Corrections are then applied and the image opened in Photoshop.

Work on the look Clicking on one of the High Contrast presets, you can see the effect is way too harsh, with the bright areas of the sky blowing out. However, there are plenty of other options available to try out.

Darken the sky A quick way to add more drama to the sky is by using the Burn Edges tool in the right-hand panel – select the top edge, the adjust Strength, Size and Transition to your taste.

Final touches Make some inal tweaks, including lightening the small church using the Dodge Tool so it stands out more against the stormy landscape. The Exposure was set to just 15% to avoid it looking too obvious.







LIGHTING Portrait photographer Hannah Couzens reveals her tips and techniques for enhancing your images with the power of subtle lighting


hether you are completely new to portrait photography or have some experience, deciding how to light your subject to create the desired mood can be a challenge. Over the following pages we’ll take a look at the accessories and techniques that can help you enhance your portraits while maintaining that subtle feel, using natural light, strobes or a combination of both. Portraiture can be demanding at the best of times. not only do we need to manage our lighting, but we also have to build and maintain a connection with our clients. it can be easy to stick to a pattern of simply using a setup that works, and fall into a routine as it becomes easier to stick to what you know. By playing it safe, you may be preventing yourself from taking your photography to the next level. By adding subtle light sources to enhance your perfected one-light setup, you may ind that you are no longer restricting your creativity.

When it comes to subtle lighting, it can be as simple as adding a relector to natural light to achieve a different result depending on the surface. this could also mean adding a hair light or kicker to our key light to create some depth or added dimension to our shot. the same can be achieved when we add a light to the background to create some separation. even window light can be modiied by using curtains to control the quality of light. there may be several reasons why we want to add an additional light to a scene and depending on what we are trying to accomplish, lash modiiers can help us to achieve the desired result. however, it is important that when adding an additional light to a scene, you remember its role. naturally our eyes are drawn to the brightest part of an image, so we have to ensure that the key light still commands the main focus. Additional lights need to enhance our scene, not steal the limelight, so be careful not to overdo the power.

Make it subtle Pro portrait photographers know how to use different elements of light in a very nuanced way for high-end results All images Š Hannah Couzens



StriPBoXeS AS riM liGHtS


feAtHereD KeYliGHt


REFLECTORS Find out which surface colour will produce the effects you desire

the following images were taken on an overcast day, but you can still see the effect that each surface has when compared to the photo without any relector. in the irst photo

you can see more texture in the model’s skin and her eyes are not as bright. everything i would expect from natural light on an overcast day.

WitHoUt refleCtor

WHite refleCtor

Silver refleCtor

GolD refleCtor

The basic shot, captured without the addition of a reflector, isn’t unacceptable but the shadows under the nose and around the eyes are a little heavy. Compare this to the following images.

This has the most subtle result but it still makes a difference to the image. The texture of the skin appears much more smooth and the eyes have come alive due to the new catchlight to the left of the iris.

This creates more contrast. It gives more punch and the highlights on the nose and lips appear to be more crisp. Overall the face looks much brighter when compared to the image from the white reflector.

A gold surface is used to warm up the tones within the image. Be aware that, depending on the shot, you may find that the gold surface can create some unnatural-looking skin tones.


suBtLe LiGhtinG

USE WINDOWS A quick and easy way to add some natural light into your portrait shots Windows act as wonderful light sources and are an easily accessible way to create a subtle lighting effect. As with any light source, the size of the window will affect the light you receive. You may not be able to dial in the power of the sun, but you can control and modify its output to accomplish the results you wish to achieve. Something as simple as curtains can dramatically change the look of your shots. In bright sunlight, a net curtain can act as the perfect diffuser to soften the light. Opening or closing thicker curtains or blinds will enable you to control the size of your light source and therefore the quality of light. For something with more contrast and a faster fall-off of light you can shut down the curtains to a small opening so that your light source is smaller compared to your subject. For a softer, more subtle style with less contrast, pull back the curtains to let as much light in as possible. Just be aware of the bounced light from the walls, as this may pick up a colour cast if they are not neutral in colour.




Separation In this setup I wanted to add two rim lights to each side of my model to sculpt her shoulders and create separation between her dark hair and the background. The main focus was to make her face and chest glow with a feathered light and relector; I wanted to balance the shoulders too, so I added two strip softboxes for a subtle highlight on each side


Multi-light setup Here the key light was a silver beauty dish in butterly position. Two strip softboxes were used for rim light, and a relector with honeycomb grid for hair light. Light-blue gel was placed behind the model to illuminate the smoke



WORK WITH HAIR LIGHTS AND RIM LIGHTS These almost imperceptible additions can make a massive difference To give your portraits more dimension, consider using rim lights (kickers) or hair lights. The main aim when using rim lights is usually to create separation between a subject and a background or to add shape, form or dimension. This can be achieved by using the sun, a relector, an artiicial strobe or a combination of the three. A hair light is as it sounds, a light dedicated to illuminating the hair so an accurate portrait can be taken – as hair so often frames our face. As an example, you may wish to photograph a subject with dark hair against a black backdrop. By adding a hair light to the back of your subject’s head, you will highlight the back of the hair so that there is a separation between the subject’s hair and the background, rather than it all falling into shadow. The same

may occur when photographing a corporate headshot with a darker suit blending into the background. By adding an additional light source to the back of the clothing, nothing gets lost in the shadows. Rim lights highlight shape and form. By placing lights behind your subject you can draw attention to the igure, which is especially useful for pregnancy, itness or boudoir shoots to highlight their body shape. You may have a wonderful lighting pattern on your subject that you do not wish to change, but the image is lacking something. By adding a very subtle light to the background you can now create depth whilst maintaining your original light pattern. The most simple way to add a hair light or kicker without the need for much extra


Use the sun here the sun is acting as a hair light and also on the tips of the sunlower leaves. to balance the exposure, a softbox on a low power was added to lift the exposure on my model’s face






Capture form the key light was placed to the right of the subject facing back to the camera to add shadow. By adding another strip softbox to the left, the back, arm and neck are illuminated and show the full form without losing deinition


equipment is to use the sun. Instead of turning your subject so that they are lit by the sun, turn them in the opposite direction so that now they have a natural light source acting as a hair light. This usually means that your subject will now be underexposed, so they will need some help from an additional light source at the front. This could be a relector or lash to ill in where your subject needs additional exposure. By simply adding these subtle lights your portraits can look more complete. Opposite

Enhance the background I wanted to ensure that the brickwork was illuminated behind my model, so I placed a stripbox on the ground aiming up to light behind the sofa. The key light was a large softbox to camera left to light my model, then another light was added camera right as a ill to light the other sofa arm


Lift shadows



i wanted to document the texture and lines of my client’s face. By adding a small softbox to the left it acted partially as a ill to lift the shadows on the face but also to deine the hair, ear and cheek


Add definition



For this shot my key light was a large octabox placed camera right; although i like the shot, by adding a gridded strip softbox on a very low power behind my model, the hair, neck and shoulder become more deined



HAir liGHt


StriP SoftBoX CAtCHliGHt

GriDDeD KeY liGHt


suBtLe LiGhtinG

BLEND LIGHTS Balancing elements yet retaining subtlety is a vital skill for pro portraits Now that we have a basic understanding of what each type of additional light is used for, the trick now is to blend multiple light sources together. This is about balance and ensuring that the light you wish to be dominant remains as your key light and your other additions are there purely to enhance your shot. For me, each light has to have a purpose. I like to build up my lights one by one to ensure that each is doing what I need it to and that the balance is right. I have made the mistake in the past of setting everything up at the same time, only to discover later that my hair light could have done with being half a stop darker or brighter. I believe the secret to blending multiple light sources usually comes down to balancing power and giving some thought to the quality of light. If your hair lights and kickers are harder light modiiers that are set quite high in power, they may steal the attention away from the softer light which you had intended to use as your key light. It can be a good idea to start with one additional source to your usual setup so that you build up slowly. As you master adding a hair light, you may wish to build up to another additional source – for example a background light then perhaps a rim light – until you become conident at blending multiple sources to create a balanced and complete look.



Vinnie Jones

Two is better

A dark suit on a dark background meant I had to maintain separation. My key light was a gridded beauty dish in butterly position. I added two stripboxes to each side, plus a grid for a hair light. One thing I noticed was that there was no catchlight in the eyes from my key light, so I added a gridded relector on its lowest power in order to achieve this

The photo above could have been captured quite satisfactorily with just one key light itted with a softbox to light the model from the front. However, the addition of a strip softbox behind the model and on the opposite side creates much better separation

MASTER MODIFIERS Get to grips with essential kit

BArN DoorS


StriP SoftBoX

If you require a harder light source but with a defined edge, barn doors allow you restrict the spread of light and to create a focused beam, which can be useful for figure work and creating crisp lines to highlight form.

Honeycombs (grids) make for the perfect hair light; most grids vary in degrees which will influence how much light is let through. If you need a stronger hair light, for example, you would choose a larger-degree grid.

My number-one choice for subtle rim lighting. A softbox focuses the light and can be used for full-length figure work, three quarters or headshots, but the light is always soft, subtle and not overpowering.



EDIT FOR SUBTLE RESULTS When it comes to post-production, the key is to maintain a natural, realistic look with your edits to ensure that you do not undo all of your hard work when trying to balance out multiple light sources, it is important not to process your images too heavily. the last thing you want to do is drag the highlights or shadows up to the maximum when they were exposed on low power to create a subtle effect. Providing you shoot RAW iles, camera Raw will enable you to make adjustments but i use this sparingly. i believe it is worth getting as much right in camera as possible and that Raw is there to perfect your images, not to save them. My feelings with editing are the same as adding another light source. Does it need it? Does it enhance the image? i like to edit skin to remove non-permanent blemishes or spots but i do try not to overdo it. i like to maintain

as much texture in the skin as possible whilst cleaning up the problem areas. i mainly do this using frequency separation. For any dark circles under the eyes i like to lighten them rather than remove them completely to give a more natural look. i like to edit my work on the cool side and very often i ind myself lowering the saturation of my images rather than increasing it. Depending on the atmosphere and style of the shot, i occasionally use some plug-ins to enhance the feel or bring out certain aspects of the image – for example, adding more of a gritty and contrasty effect to itness shots to make them more atmospheric. Finally i will look at the overall contrast levels and range of tones within the shot and adjust if necessary to complete my image.



Almost there this image has been carefully lit to create a gentle feel, both in terms of the shadows and the colour palette. Any editing must retain this effect

RETAIN REALISM Make a few subtle adjustments to your imagery without destroying believability


Quick adjustments Within camera Raw i make minor adjustments to the exposure to ensure the image is correctly balanced. i then reduce saturation to cool the image down. next i open the image in Photoshop.




Lighten where needed using the clone stamp tool, with blend mode set to Lighten and Opacity between 25 and 30%, i sample the area below the dark rings under the eye and lighten gradually until the darker areas fade.


Start with some cropping now i will crop my shot to remove any distractions, but i do not always centre the image; my intention was always to leave some negative space in this particular composition.

Adjust colour balance under the hue/saturation menu i use the dropdown to target the red areas of the image, then reduce the saturation slider slightly in order to subtly cool down my image.


Spot removal using frequency separation i split my image into a texture and colour layer, then remove the blemishes on the colour layer with the spot healing Brush. this will not affect the texture, maintaining realism.


Final look Finally i adjust the Levels sliders to achieve the contrast and overall balance i have been looking to capture from the moment i set up my lights.

After Smoother skin the edited version looks very similar to the original ile but with the added beneit of smoother skin with fewer blemishes and a better crop

Photoshop Tools for subtle Editing Dodging & Burning A method practiced many times in the darkroom still very much has it’s place within the digital age to lighten or darken various parts of your image should you wish to emphasise certain areas. By adding a 50% grey layer I can now dodge (lighten) and areas I wish to draw more attention to or burn (darken) any areas which I feel need to be made darker.

Hue Saturation Colour plays a vital role in portraiture as skin tones can easily look unnatural if too much processing is applied. To be sure you have the correct tones within your image you can adjust the hue and saturation by targeting any particular colour you require to neutralise or enhance.

Clone Stamp People are familiar with the clone stamp as a tool for removing skin imperfections. The clone tool however is often used to remove blemish and wrinkles completely which can lead to over processed and unrealistic looking skin. By changing the blending modes and opacity, we can soften areas without eradicating texture completely therefore producing a much more subtle edit.

PHOTOSHOP TOOLS FOR SUBTLE EDITING The key tricks to perfecting your imagery while maintaining that natural look




This method enables you to lighten or darken various parts of your image to emphasise certain areas. By adding a 50% grey layer I can now dodge (lighten) any areas I wish to draw more attention to or burn (darken) any areas that I feel need to be made darker.

Colour plays a vital role in portraiture as skin tones can easily look unnatural if too much processing is applied. To be sure you have the correct tones within your image you can adjust the hue and saturation by targeting any particular colour you require to neutralise or enhance.

This tool is often used to remove blemishes and wrinkles completely, which can lead to over-processed and unrealistic-looking skin. By changing the blending modes and opacity, we can soften areas without eradicating texture completely for a more subtle edit.



Digital darkroom Using Photoshop or any of the image-editing software packages available, digital photographers have a vast arsenal of creative tools at their disposal. Post-processing can now be considered to make up half of the total photography workflow


Perfect your

PROCESSING There is a photo-editing application to suit every photographer. Learn to get more from yours help you build a structured and effective worklow, from the essential adjustments such as exposure control and contrast, through colour correction and on to effective image database organisation. Then, once you are conident with the baseline editing techniques we will move on to those ‘tricks of the trade’ that will make your shots stand out from the crowd, including noise control, next-level sharpening policy and professional-grade RAW ile handling. This will give you the conidence to work with any of the mostused software and more importantly, teach you how to make the most of the powerful features at your disposal, without the danger of taking things too far and potentially jeopardising the quality through over-editing.

© Juuso Hämäläinen


ost-processing of images has become an essential part of the digital photographer’s worklow. There are a vast array of photoediting software packages available, from highly simpliied programs for beginners, to high-end specialised tools used by professional photographers and retouchers. Of these options, some clearly lead in terms of popularity and number of users. While choice is often attractive, it can be daunting when it comes to choosing a package to start with and because of the sophistication and variety of tools found in the professional software, it is possible to be left feeling a little overwhelmed. In this guide, we will cover all of the key areas of post-processing in an effort to



Why process your images?


While digital camera technology is constantly improving, people’s perception of image quality evolves in equal measure – even non-photographers are now able to recognise when a shot has been ‘Photoshopped’ and are even aware of when an editing technique has failed. It is therefore vital that photographers recognise the need to develop their postprocessing skills, so that they have a rounded skill set and are able to produce quality images in-camera and intelligently process these iles with an end product in mind. In most cases we will start our image editing with basic adjustments such as brightness and contrast, simple colour correction and sharpening. These are often referred to as ‘essential’ adjustments, since errors in these areas are the most noticeable if left uncorrected and should be applied to every digital image as standard. Beyond these, most software offer tools to precisely control colour via colour proiles, remove unwanted lens distortions and apply localised edits, which affect only part of an image. Next you might consider using a third-party plug-in – ‘satellite’ software which can apply further bespoke effects and correct highly speciic technical defects. These are optional edits and some of the effects they provide can be created manually, however they are often very powerful and offer great advantages in speed and versatility.

© Peter Carr

The key reasons for editing and how it fits with your workflow


Dramatic sunset


While composition is good, the original image lacked contrast and colours are not vibrant enough. With some careful exposure and contrast adjustments, this scene now shows its full, colourful potential


Washed out Lighting was too uniform in this macro shot. With a crop, curves adjustment and a darkening of the edges using a layer mask, the eye is now drawn to the insect







Adjustment versus manipulation image editing has long been steeped in controversy, but is it justified? There can come a point where more of an image is created in software than in-camera. For some genres like photojournalism, this raises moral questions regarding authenticity, while some argue this is more digital art than photography. However, there is a distinction between adjusting and manipulating an image – creativity should never be discouraged. Photographer Vladimir Kochkin says, “Photoshop is only one of the photographer’s tools – if you opened a photo on a computer, analysed and decided that processing is not required, that means so be it. If you think that the treatment is needed, then it should be imperceptible to the viewer.” sometimes creative use of effects produces images that are more impactful than those treated with ‘safe’ editing techniques. Here, ronny garcia wanted to create a surreal scene with a fairytale look

© Ronny garcia


At the extremes



Correct your contrast Contrast determines depth and mood in an image – highly important for drama in a two-dimensional photograph sHAdOWs/HIgHLIgHts Similar to Lightroom, these sliders in Photoshop can lift shadows and darken hotspots. Tonal Range dictates which tones are affected.

AdJust LEVELs More versatile than Brightness and Contrast, pull the input sliders until they touch the histogram for a quick contrast boost.

MICRO CONtRAst EXPLAINEd Global contrast is the difference between brightest highlights and darkest shadows. Micro contrast defines detail, controlled by Midtone Contrast here.

AdJust CuRVEs Highly powerful, Curves allow precise tonal edits. A classic S-shaped curve boosts contrast, while the centre adjusts the midtones.

Achieve a perfect exposure Adobe camera raw is a versatile rAW editor, capable of making essential edits to exposure FAMILIAR LAYOut Both Lightroom and camera raw share sliders for adjusting exposure and contrast, with both creating similar ‘looks’.

HIgHLIgHts ANd sHAdOWs Detail is revealed in overexposed areas by dragging Highlights to the left. Drag shadows to the right to lift dark areas.


EXPOsuRE sLIdER This simple slider adjusts overall brightness, useful for minor changes for the sake of atmosphere or quick exposure fixes.

WHItEs ANd BLACKs Use these to set Black and White points – areas of true black and white that ensure a full tonal range.

Control exposure and contrast Brightness and contrast control can really make or break an image It is desirable to achieve an accurate exposure at the shooting stage, as this minimises post-processing work and generally reduces the chance of software-induced artefacts like image noise and banding. It also encourages the photographer to be mindful of overexposure and loss of highlight detail, which cannot be recovered at the computer. It is almost always necessary to tweak exposure and contrast, however – contrast is often lacking in out-of-camera shots, while an image that looked accurate on a 3.5-inch LCD screen may seem slightly too bright or dark when enlarged. Furthermore, an ‘accurate’ shot – one that produces a perfect histogram and ticks all of the technical boxes – may not be the most punchy and attractive image possible; correct does not always mean exciting or dramatic. There are multiple ways of making these edits and often you’ll ind two or three methods in any given software application, from simple work with the Brightness/Contrast control in Photoshop, to complex Curves adjustments in Capture One and advanced work in Lightroom using the Shadows, Highlights, Whites and Blacks sliders. In addition to this, it is possible to use tools such as the Brush and Gradient tools in Camera Raw/Lightroom and layer masks in Photoshop to perform local adjustments, thereby solving problems or enhancing an isolated image area. This is a vital stage as often an effect applied globally can spoil areas that do not beneit from that change. Professional photographers often shoot in RAW format, as these iles contain all of the image data captured by your camera’s sensor. So, unlike JPEGs, which are compressed iles, more editing can be carried out before quality begins to suffer. While Photoshop offers more tools for ine retouching work, RAW processing applications now offer enough tools to perform most of your worklow on your RAW iles, the other beneit being that this style of editing is non-destructive. This means it is possible to revisit an image at any time and easily alter the exposure again, without degradation. Whatever software package you use, an appropriate exposure and contrast will deine the success of your image.



Why local adjustments matter Make your editing more precise with adjustments to exposure and contrast In this image the overall exposure is good, but there are some small shadow areas that need brightening and the scene would beneit from some localised lighting effects to add depth.


Open in Camera Raw Try to perform as many adjustments as possible on your RAW iles to future-proof your editing decisions. Capture One also works in a similar way.


Use Adjustment Brush (K) Available in both Camera Raw and Lightroom, drag the exposure slider to the right a little and paint with the brush in areas you want to brighten.





Use Gradient tool (G) The top left of the scene needed a little added exposure and warmth. The Gradient Tool was selected and a gradient drawn down over the area.

Finish in Photoshop You will often ind it necessary to move into Photoshop for more complex edits. Working on a duplicate layer maintains a non-destructive worklow.

© Peter Fenech

Global adjustments enable us to correct major image-wide issues, but in many cases you’ll want to look closer at individual areas that might be lowering the shot’s overall impact.

Check your adjustments Tick the Show Mask box to see if you’ve spilled over into other areas of the image. Select a pin and click Erase to undo brush strokes.

Apply local sharpening The edges of the frame are slightly soft. On a duplicate background layer, use the Sharpen Tool to extract detail.



Advanced portrait post-processing Photographer Adrian Dewey guides us through the processing of one of his portraits


Camera Raw The irst stage of my editing process is to open the image in Adobe Camera Raw and make the initial changes. Using the simple sliders I have altered the exposure, shadows, contrast and vibrance.


Open in Photoshop Next I will open in Adobe Photoshop (CS6 on my MacBook, or CC on studio Mac) and using the Spot Healing Brush Tool I take time to tidy up the skin without losing the skin texture.


Gels As I had used gel lighting I now enhance where the colour hits the skin. Using a soft brush set to Soft Light at 30% opacity, with a colour similar to the gel colour, I go over these areas to make the colour stronger.






Actions I use a lot of Photoshop actions, some that I recorded myself, some that I have bought. Here I ran one of my actions, called ‘blue fashion’, for colour, tones and contrast. It’s often a case of experimentation.

BEFORE Potential This image has all the ingredients of a great portrait: effective composition, pose and lighting. However, post-processing can be used to create something unique © Adrian dewey

AFtER Enhanced in post i inished by using Unsharp Mask to make the image even crisper, as on portraits i like to see skin texture


Brightness and contrast The previous action did take some of the contrast out, so I will go back and alter the brightness and contrast from the Image>Adjustments>Brightness/ Contrast option.

Selective colour At this stage I just used Selective Color to make the whites more blue and the blacks darker. As a portrait I am happy with the image now, although the photo as a whole needs more punch.

Colour balance In Image> Adjustments>Color Balance I use the sliders until I’m satisied. In this case, with Midtones selected I moved towards the cyan levels, and then for Shadows I went for red and yellow.

Brushes I felt the background was looking a bit dull. Using some ‘light’ brushes I downloaded, I added some white and blue lights in the background and overlaid the model to make the image stand out a little more.


Craft colour and tone Produce special effects while avoiding the common pitfalls Colour correction is one area where shooting in RAW provides arguably the greatest advantage, as applications like Camera Raw and Lightroom have the option to change the white balance of an image at any time, just as it is possible to do in-camera. Presets are available that mirror most camera white balance settings, including Cloudy, Daylight, Tungsten and Shade for rapid one-click adjustments, and for more precise alterations sliders are present for colour temperature and tint selections. It is also possible to eliminate colour casts easily using the White Balance selection tool – simply click once with the tool on an area of neutral grey to remove colour bias. Beyond this, highly advanced colour and tone adjustments can be made using Curves, where each of the RGB channels can be manipulated individually. By controlling each of the Red, Green and Blue Curves, the dominance of each colour can be varied to either remove or apply colour casts, for correction or creative effects respectively. Tone refers to brightness values found in an image (luminosity) and the warmth of the colours present (temperature). When editing either the colour or tone of a shot, it is important to remember that in most cases one affects the other and so they should be considered in unison. When making contrast adjustments (altering tonality) colour saturation is often increased, emphasising any temperature bias. In Photoshop it is possible to avoid this by using the Luminosity layer blend mode on an adjustment layer.



Mood lighting Using a RAW processor like Lightroom, it is possible to greatly enhance colour and tone. In sunset images , these colour edits are required to retain the mood of the scene © Johan Lennartsson

Colour spaces demystiied When outputting an image you can choose several colour spaces, but why do they matter? A colour space represents the breadth of available colour in an image, with each one having a slightly different gamut – the total number of colour values that can be effectively reproduced. The sRGB colour space has a smaller gamut than Adobe RGB (used by most cameras as default) or ProPhoto RGB (Adobe Lightroom’s default). However there are exceptions; when sharing images online it is better to use sRGB for consistent colour, since this is the only space supported by most web browsers.

Choose your space in photoshop go to edit>convert to proile and select a new destination colour space. in capture one follow export>Variants and choose an icc proile under recipe. srgB is a good multipurpose choice



Know when to stop Part of developing a professional post-production workflow is recognising when you’ve gone too far There is a disadvantage to having so many editing packages at your disposal, each with a vast number of tools. Sometimes it is useful to combine effects for creative reasons, but you have to be able to deine the point where further adjustment will Top

In need of improvement The tones and colour of this image are pleasant, but could do with some boosting t. There is little depth and the colour doesn’t accurately recreate the real-life hues Middle

Over the top This shows unrealistic saturation, introduced partially through aggressive Curves adjustment and an unnecessary application of Vibrance. The changes have also accentuated noise



A correct balance

© Peter Fenech

In the final shot there is an equilibrium of depth, drama and realism. The clouds have added shape and impact, but the colours are easier on the eye and noise is less pronounced




degrade the inal image. A useful technique is to lower the opacity of any effect you’ve applied or even turn it off completely, then gradually increase it again to see how or if it beneits the image. If you’re unsure, you’ve probably reached that critical point.

Add the finishing touches Take these inal steps to guarantee viewers see your work at its best If you shoot in JPEG format it is possible to select the level of sharpening that is applied to your images in-camera. This is quite limiting however, since these changes are non-reversible and so any over-sharpening is dificult to eliminate. This is an especially inconvenient problem because the amount of sharpening an image requires is inluenced greatly by its output destination – images bound for the web often don’t need as much sharpening applied than those destined for print. The same principle is applicable to noise reduction, in that it is better to have full control at the post-processing stage. In Adobe Lightroom and Camera Raw, the level of sharpening is controlled by the Amount slider, Radius handles the softness of the effect and Detail enhances ine textures. Capture One has a similar set of sliders, but the Threshold slider determines how pronounced an edge has to be before it receives sharpening – low values include more lat tones and higher settings limit sharpening to high-contrast edges. This is useful for minimising noise in lat areas. This equates to the Masking slider in Lightroom and ACR. The Unsharp Mask tool in Photoshop is effective when sharpening for print; try sharpening a duplicate layer (Layer> Duplicate) and changing the blend mode to Luminosity to prevent any colour shifts. Regarding noise, there are two types: Colour and Luminance. Use the respective sliders in Lightroom/Camera Raw to reduce both, visiting the Detail sliders and Contrast slider to compensate for detail smoothing and latness introduced by removing noise. Meanwhile, lens corrections are a staple adjustment to most images. In Lightroom you can apply a lens proile under the Proile tab and customise distortion and vignetting removal for your image, before switching to the Colour tab to remove distracting chromatic aberration (coloured fringing) from high-contrast edges. In Photoshop you can apply lens corrections from the Filter menu, choose a camera and lens proile and apply custom tweaks to all other factors. While noise reduction, sharpening and lens corrections may be subtle, they can make the difference when submitting your work for commercial use.


the perks of plug-ins Plug-ins can really expand the capability of your software, so here are some recommendations There is a plug-in for almost every adjustment you could need to make to an image, and they are often hugely beneicial because they are designed for speciic functions – they do a small number of things very well. HdR EFEX PRO HDR can be used for artistic effects or versatile exposure balancing. Photoshop has its own HDR feature, but HDR Efex Pro is one of the best third-party options.

sILVER EFEX PRO The main advantage of this plug-in is the wide array of film simulation presets, capable of producing stunning analogue-like effects for dramatic black and white conversions.


tOPAZ AdJust

Added realism Controlling colour temperature ensures scenes appear realistic – unnatural colour creates emotional barriers between an image and the viewer

This plug-in is used for enhancing detail and colour in your images. It’s a quick and intuitive route to stronger colour and depth, where you can create gritty artistic looks or realistic ‘pop’.


© Johan Lennartsson

When should you sharpen? When you sharpen during your workflow is as important as how much you apply RAW processing offers the greatest lexibility when sharpening as, once again, it is non-destructive and unixed. Camera Raw, Lightroom and Capture all offer tools to perform precise sharpening and even make

selective adjustments using brushes and masks. Another useful aspect is that each one allows sharpening and noise reduction to be performed from adjacent panels, so it’s easy to ind a balance between the two.

When upscaling an image or preparing for print, it also advisable to apply a further round of sharpening, either in Photoshop or by selecting a preset in your RAW application. This ensures crisp inal results.

Sharpen for the web

Sharpen for print

since online resolution is limited by your computer monitor, less sharpening is generally needed for uploading to online galleries. A simple sharpening application using the settings shown here will sufice for most web purposes.

When printing, you want to make the most of your camera’s resolution and reproduce as much detail as possible. sharpen twice in this case, once in camera raw/Lightroom then in photoshop using Unsharp Mask.



Keep your images organised Devise a logical and structured archiving worklow It is critical that you keep an organised and structured database. This should be backed up to ensure you have redundant copies of every shot should your main storage location be compromised. It should be easily searchable, so that you can quickly ind images later. It is important to remember that once you start with an organising worklow, it is helpful to stick to it from that point on to minimise the chance of misplacing iles and creating searching conlicts. For example, when utilising Lightroom to organise your work, it is a good idea to store all images for that collection in a single folder; this feels counter-intuitive if you have been manually sorting iles into folders based on date or genre on your hard drive, but it will make it easier for Lightroom to keep track of your photos. If you have some images stored on an external hard drive and others on your

Master the Lightroom catalogue


Other software options There are lesser-known editing options to consider. The free application Gimp is surprisingly powerful and offers many features found in high-end packages Above-bottom

Endless creative options Professional digital photographers have learned to make the most of what the medium has to offer. To motivate yourself to creatively experiment, try entering a post-processing contest

Use Lightroom to efficiently store, organise and find your images

Lightroom archives images in directories called catalogues. You can create as many of these as you need, so it is possible to have a different catalogue for every group of related images you have, such as personal

and professional, photography genres or year. Once you’ve started using Lightroom, it is highly advisable that you continue to do so for all your image sorting; moving iles manually creates synchronisation issues.


Create a catalogue Create a new directory for your images and select its destination on your hard drive. This ile doesn’t contain your images, simply catalogue information.


Import images Click Import to begin. Choose a source folder, such as an external hard drive or your memory card. Tip: keep all photos for the catalogue in a single folder so Lightroom doesn’t ‘lose’ them.





duplicate and add keywords If copying from a card, select a destination and tell Lightroom to make a second copy to another drive by ticking the box. Add keywords to be applied on import to aid with searching.


desktop, you may ind that Lightroom has missing photos if you remove the external drive from the system. Being sure that all your images are available in synchronisation can help streamline your worklow. When importing images or outputting an edited version it is useful to add keywords to the iles so that you can ind them later in your database. If you hope to sell work to publishers or stock image sites, intelligent tagging will make your work easier to ind, giving you an advantage over the competition. Add tags in Photoshop by visiting File>File Info, where you can also embed descriptions and copyright information into your iles. Keep your edited images alongside your originals at all backup locations, so you know that you have both safely duplicated and available. With ACR, remember to back up the XMP iles, generated when you edit a RAW ile.

Create Collections Further organise your images by grouping them into Collections. Select your images, go to Library>New Collection. Collection Sets can group similar collections for convenience.

Copy, move or add Lightroom can copy or move your images to a new folder on your hard drive, or you can simply add the images to the catalogue, leaving them in their source folder.

Back up your catalogue Go to Edit> Catalogue Settings and choose to have Lightroom back up whenever you close the program. Select an external destination for the backup.


Keep your images safe Storing your images correctly is just as important as how you take them It is good policy to have at least two copies of every image you take on separate drives. Many professionals have a third copy located at another physical location or in cloud storage. It’s best to back up as you import originals and then as you save edited inals. When copying images, always duplicate originals – don’t copy copies as this can eventually lead to ile corruption over time. Choose hard drives of 500MB or more.


Never too safe Cloud storage is a convenient way to create off-site backups. Sites like Dropbox or Google Drive offer considerable storage space


Noise reduction Noise in shadow areas can become more pronounced with exposure adjustment. Using noise reduction on RAW iles smooths grain in a non-destructive way © Peter Fenech





SOCIAL MEDIA THE PROS AND CONS FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS Social media is here to stay, but is it genuinely useful for the digital photographer? Social sharing sites are an irremovable aspect of 21st Century life, and for photographers they offer a platform for displaying our work more easily and with far more reach than at any other time in the history of the medium. Facebook has over a billion users, while more than 300 million people upload their

photographs to Instagram every year, so the potential for becoming a household name in photography is now truly within anyone’s grasp. That being said, there are several negative aspects of the photography community’s online behaviour that we need to be aware of if we are to create the impact

we all hope for, gain the valuable feedback we crave and allow the images we take the attention they deserve. Worldwide audiences can be both a blessing and a curse, so here are some key things to consider to help you make the most of online galleries and photosharing options.


Mutual flattery

Observing what is ‘trending’ on a platform like Instagram or what has scored a high Pulse on 500px is very beneicial as a means of researching what genres and styles are popular in the world right now. Identifying what communities and picture editors ind attractive may help you adjust your own approach to align with the contemporary wants and needs of publishers and the public.

As online communities grow it can become increasingly dificult to stand out from the crowd. With this fact comes a shift in users’ behaviour and it’s possible to see interaction through liking and commenting becoming more strategic than social. Comments like “Incredible!”, “Stunning” and “Best photo I’ve ever seen!!!!” may seem like good indicators of your work quality, but are far from useful for your progress. It’s more likely these users are hunting for mutual ‘likes’, so be aware of this.

Learning A useful feature of some sites is that the image technical data is available, letting you see what settings yielded each effect. Often users will provide a description of their worklow, allowing you to replicate this.

Conclusion Social media is only as useful as your audience and the people you follow. Social sites can be constructive for comparing your work to that of others for reference – just remember to take comments with a pinch of salt!

Inspiration There are plenty of inspirational photographers on Instagram and Flickr, so beginners in any genre have a wealth of quality images to aspire to. Finding a style you want to replicate is a perfect way to fuel your photographic education.

Motivation We’re all guilty of becoming disheartened when our post on social media fails to perform. Your photo may have garnered only three likes, but you may simply have posted at the wrong time. Unfortunately it can needlessly kill your motivation.


Feedback One of the best aspects of sites such as Flickr and 500px is the sense of community. As time passes you’ll build relationships with other users, the more experienced of which will frequently offer constructive critiques of your work. This is a great way of gaining truthful and valuable opinions of how you are progressing as a photographer, free of the suspicion that your family and friends are being overly positive to avoid hurting your feelings.

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Combine creative lenses with coloured gels Learn how to shoot and edit an alluring portrait using this incredible technique Difficulty level: Intermediate Time taken: 45 mins setup and shooting time, 15 mins editing A scene can be visually confusing if there’s multiple colours and objects in focus that are ighting for our attention. This technique uses a single dominant-coloured gel to simplify the scene visual, then draws the attention of the viewer with our Lensbaby lens. One of the key characteristics of this shot is the blurred focus effect. First impressions might tell you that this effect is created in post-production, but in actuality this look is created in-camera with a Lensbaby lens. Lensbaby specialises in making lenses that take photos with very

distinctive effects baked into every frame. The lenses produce these results without the need for editing programs and ilters and the effects that these lenses can create range from userdeined radial blurs, slices of focus and even swirly backgrounds, all of which are achieved with each and every shutter press. In this setup we’ll be using the Lensbaby Sweet 50 in conjunction with coloured gels to grab the attention of our viewers, by leading their gaze exactly where we want it and by creating a uniform and less distracting colour palette with a single coloured gel.

What you’ll need Lensbaby Sweet 50 Camera Light stand Floor stand (simply resting the light on the loor will also work) 2x lash heads or speedlights Key light modiier – beauty dish, softbox or umbrella Fill light modiier – I recommend a small softbox Backdrop Fan (optional) Some coloured gels – I used a blue gel here Photoshop



Take control This technique is all about taking control of a scene by removing distracting elements. We will use a coloured gel to simplify the scene’s colour palette and a Lensbaby lens to direct our viewer’s gaze to where we want it



The setup BACKDROP You can use any backdrop you want, but I opted for a background that would take some of the colour from the coloured gel and that also had some texture to blur with the Lensbaby.

KEYLIGHT I used a beauty dish here. You can substitute this for a softbox or umbrella but you should position it above the model’s head, about two to three feet away and off to one side.

MODEL Position your model about three feet away from the backdrop. Not so close that the key light will cast a shadow on it, and not so far away that no light from the coloured fill light will hit it.

FILL LIGHT I recommend a small softbox here. Mine was placed on the opposite side to the model as the key light.



Shoot the shot




Prepare camera We will be shooting with lash so I recommend you set your camera to Manual. Next we’ll set our shutter speed to 1/125th and ISO to 100, or as low as your camera will go. If you can adjust the White Balance then set it to the lash setting.


Set up your lens As we’re using a manualfocus lens we have to adjust the aperture on the lens itself. I went with f4 for the best balance of depth of ield versus lens blur. I’m using the Sweet 50 Lensbaby lens so I’m going to position it at the angle you see in the image.




Position key light modiier I used a 22inch white beauty dish with a diffusion sock. I positioned it off to camera right, about arm’s reach away from the model and just above her head, angled down at about 45 degrees.


Set up ill light I used a 60cm x 60cm softbox placed on the opposite side of the model as the key light, so off to camera left. This will allow the ill light to colour the shadows created by the key light.


Gel your ill light You don’t need huge sheets of gels to cover your entire softbox. As long as the lash tube is covered then your light will be gelled. I simply tore open the softbox’s front diffusion panel to expose the lash tube and taped a gel on the inside.




Assemble background I’ve chosen a mottled backdrop, as I want some visible texture when I implement the blur. I also want my background to be light enough to take some of the blue gelled light.

Lensbaby lenses Every Lensbaby product creates its own look and effect, so iguring out which one is best for you is half the fun. The Sweet 50 lens creates the userdeined spot of radial blur, the Edge 80 produces a slice of blur that can be orientated however you wish and the Twist 60 leaves a swirl pattern in the background of your shots. Other Lensbaby lenses create more subtle effects like both the Velvet 56 and Velvet 85; these are favoured for their more vintage-style image effects.

Each lens has a unique look, so be sure to select one that matches your style






Edit the shot




The clean up The irst step is to clean up any distracting elements. Remove blemishes or anything else that looks out of place. I like to create a new duplicate layer and rename it ’Skin’ to work on. Go to Layer>Duplicate Layer.


Add depth Click Layer>New>Layer. Select Soft Light in the Mode menu and tick the box that says ‘Fill with Soft-Light-neutral color (50% gray)’. Hit OK. Now you can paint white and black on this layer to dodge and burn.


Sharpen image Select the top layer and press Cmd+Alt+Shift+E. Hit Cmd+Shift+U on the new layer to strip the colour and go to Filter>Other>High Pass. Choose a pixel radius between 5 and 10 and hit OK. Now change the blend mode to Soft Light and adjust opacity.




Edit inal colour tone Go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Curves. Hit OK. In the top dropdown you can select the Red, Green and Blue channels to modify their curves. Below

Image enhanced with Photoshop The shot only needs a few tweaks in post-production, as when using Lensbaby lenses the image effect is created in-camera





Wildlife Wonders Professional photographer rob Cottle shares how a change of camera lightened the load of his nature captures

Name: rob Cottle Location: south Wales, UK Subject: Wildlife and travel Equipment: olympus oM-d e-M1 Mark ii and oM-d e-M1 Mark i, olympus 300mm f4, 1.4x converter, olympus 40-150mm f2.8, olympus 9-18mm f4-5.6, olympus 60mm f2.8 macro Website:


ob Cottle is an “image maker, workshop taker, critter lover and vegetarianist” with a love for wildlife photography. Although the three P’s (perseverance, planning and patience) now deine his approach, his shooting ethos has changed dramatically over the last few years. “When I irst started, like most, I had a tendency to go out without much of a plan and end up with grab shots. I’d rush from sighting to sighting and mostly end up frustrated,” he says. “I soon realised that patience was the only way, and to not follow action but wait for it to come to you. I will often position myself for the light rather than the subject.” Rob goes beyond just taking record shots of wildlife. “I try to create an image that evokes a mood or atmosphere,” he says. “I make all my images in camera and use as little processing as possible. I rarely stay out much more than an hour after sunrise or an hour before sunset – it’s all about the combining of light, the animal and its surroundings that make up the image.” Besides delivering superb image quality, Rob needs a camera that delivers all the essential functions at his ingertips. “It needs to be customisable to the way I work, responsive, and the autofocus needs to put up with the demands of wildlife photography (which in my case is predominantly carried out in low light). I want to travel light and not feel encumbered by equipment.” Rob used a Canon EOS 7D Mark II as his wildlife-capturing tool for years, alongside an Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark I as his ‘everything else’ camera. “I always loved using it, so when the E-M1 Mark II was released and the reviews


were extremely favourable for wildlife work, I was extremely keen to try it – especially when I wanted to reduce the weight of my kit!” After trialling the system, Rob was knocked out that a camera “this sexy” was on a par if not surpassing his previous cameras. “When I pack my kit into my backpack I reduce the weight by over a third and this is a huge help when lying or simply carrying,” he says. “I have now made the complete switch to mirrorless and only own micro four thirds equipment.” Rob recently bought the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II along with the Olympus 300mm f4 Pro lens and uses this setup with a previously bought Olympus 40-150mm f2.8

Pro (to go with his irst E-M1 Mark I). “This setup has enabled me to replicate my previous Canon gear at a much reduced weight but with no loss in quality, control or facilities,” he explains. “The autofocus is fast, white balance is the best I’ve used and the wysiwyg display is always a huge help in judging exposure.” While Rob may have changed his tools, for him, the beauty of wildlife never fails to lose its sense of wonder. “I don’t need to look much further than the wildlife; it engages and inspires and I desperately try to do it justice.” Thinking of switching your DSLR? Find out more at



Sparrowhawk This bird of prey almost appears to be laughing. “You never quite know what to expect with wildlife photography,” rob says


olympus oM-D E-M1 Mark II

A professional camera needs to be durable and robust. The E-M1 Mark II’s magnesium-alloy body is designed to withstand the elements.

MAXIMUM MoBILITY Opposite-bottom

The bull’s eye rob used the olympus 300mm f4 for this intimate portrait. “it’s super sharp, weathersealed and built like a tank,” he says

The E-M1 Mark II body weighs in at only. By switching camera systems, Rob has substantially lightened his carrying load.


Puffin in the grass Taken on skomer island, rob used a 1/2,500sec shutter speed to ensure that he achieved a pin-sharp result

A TrUE pErForMEr Wildlife is notoriously unpredictable, but the continuous shooting speed of up to 60 frames per second captures every frame of action.

rEVoLUTIoNArY FoCUS Armed with 121 Phase Detection focus points, the E-M1 Mark II’s precise autofocus system keeps up with the demands of wildlife photography.

A pro UpGrADE Why Rob is excited to use the Olympus E-M1 Mark II “This camera has opened up not only new possibilities, but it’s a joy to use and carry. There are features on it that other systems do not have and which I have barely scratched the surface with. I’m really looking forward to using them to my advantage in the future. I think sometimes we forget that photography is fun (not life and death) and if any camera starts to be a brake to enjoying ourselves and we venture out less, then we are doing something wrong!”



Shoot stunning macro images with flash Follow our simple step-by-step guide to learn how to light reversed-lens macro shots effectively using on or off-camera flash Reversed-lens macro photography is a fantastic way to explore the extreme close-up world, without the expense of investing in a macro lens that provides life-size magniication. A reversing ring is a simple device that allows an inverted lens to be mounted on a DSLR, making use of the ilter thread on the front of the optic. When a lens with a wide-angle or standard focal length is used in this way, very close focusing distances become possible, transforming it into a powerful tool for macro photography. However the very close working distance between the lens and subject creates several challenges, especially when it comes to lighting your shot with lash. The lens itself produces a shadow, thereby preventing even lash coverage and adding a tell-tale dark gradient along the bottom of the frame. While this is unsightly, it can be necessary to employ lash to lift shadows, create depth and freeze movement introduced by the wind – a common problem when working at high magniications. Luckily there are methods of getting around these issues… By controlling how the light from your lash hits the subject, it is possible to generate soft, even lighting, regardless of how close your camera is to what you are shooting.


Attach your reversed lens A useful tip is to attach your reversing ring to the lens irst, rather than trying to mount the optic on a ring attached to the camera. This reduces the risk of damaging the lens or ilter thread.



Direct flash woes When using direct flash with a camera-mounted flash unit it can be almost impossible to light your subject evenly – very noticeable in this image



Focus and calculate exposure Since your lens is reversed you lose all automatic focusing and exposure. Focus manually using Live View, and switch to Manual or Shutter Priority mode to control exposure.


Adjust the aperture You lose electronic aperture control when reversing, so a lens with a manual aperture ring is far easier to use. Stop down and readjust your shutter speed or ISO for an accurate exposure on-screen.

AFTeR Soft and even With a little careful shaping of your light or by taking the flash off-camera, you can side-step the challenges of lighting when up close


On-camera lash If your lash is cameramounted you can produce an off-camera effect by bouncing the light off a relector or even white card. Hold this above your subject at an angle while aiming your lash upwards.


Off-camera lash For wirelessly triggered lash, hold the light above your subject, aiming down from roughly where the sun would be. Hold a relector/white card beneath the subject to light the bottom of the frame.


Adjust power Balance your lighting by reducing your lash output (try starting at ½ power) and adjusting the distance between your relector and subject. Use a larger or smaller relector for softer or harder lighting.





Nikon Ambassador and wildlife expert Richard Peters reveals his advice To me, wildlife photography is about capturing decisive moments and beautiful animals in interesting ways. Sometimes that means a highly detailed portrait which shows off the intricacies of the subject; at other times, it’s about quirky framing or dramatic lighting. Often the light or subject can change quickly, requiring me to think on my feet to be

able to capture a leeting moment. I’ve always found the ergonomics of Nikon kit to be crucial in allowing me to do just that. Button placement and customisation, alongside logically laid out menus, add to a camera system that allows me to change settings at a moment’s notice and without thought, even when switching between different models. The very nature of photographing wildlife can often mean being out in challenging weather conditions and environments. Having trust in your kit is vital. Having shot in everything from 35-degree heat to -40-degree cold and being caught out in rain, snow and


dust, without protective covering, I have the utmost trust in mine. Regardless of the conditions, my Nikon cameras have never skipped a beat. With camera technology advancing at an incredible rate, we’ve never been more spoiled for choice. From being the irst to offer staggering ISO performance to delivering incredibly sensitive autofocus systems and class-leading dynamic range, there is no denying that the improvements Nikon has introduced to its camera lineup over the years have enabled me to become a more accomplished photographer.

CAMERA OF CHOICE: NIKON D850 Until recently the D810 had been my go-to body of choice; however this has been superseded by the newly-released D850. I’ve been shooting with it for a couple of weeks, and it has already proven itself to be the best camera I’ve ever used for wildlife photography. This is down to the fact it combines the best parts of my two favourite cameras – the aforementioned D810 and the D500 – offering me stunning

full-frame detail but also the lexibly to crop into images for more distant wildlife or those occasions where I am unable to add a teleconverter. What makes the D850 really special, however, is having that lexibility alongside fast high frame rates. This means I have all of those advantages for both static subjects and fast action, which is something that’s not been possible with one body before.

Best oF BotH worlds Unlike in many DSLRs, Nikon has designed the D850 to deliver high speed and high resolution in one body

BuIld QualIty


With comprehensive weather sealing, the D850 won’t let you down, even in tough conditions

The D850 boasts a 45.7-megapixel full-frame FX-format sensor to deliver the best possible quality – essential for cropping your photos

all images @ richard Peters

Meet tHe aMBassador Richard Peters is a wildlife photographer and Nikon Ambassador with a style that, whenever possible, favours dramatic light or quirky composition over subject matter. He is as inspired by the wildlife found in his own garden as he is by the more exotic species around the world. This varied approach and style has seen his images win multiple awards, with accolades including being named European Wildlife Photographer of the Year as well as twice being recognised in the Wildlife

Photographer of the Year awards. Richard combines his artistic visions with a love of technology, so he’s always keen to explore the more intricate details of the cameras he uses and how they can be used to push his photography forward. Through running workshops at home and abroad, Richard is always keen to pass his knowledge on to others, and to help aspiring photographers gain a better understanding of their cameras and how to use them.



NikoN SChooL Neil Freeman speaks What are the core skills someone needs for wildlife photography? To get good wildlife images, the core camera skills needed are being able to track and focus on a moving subject while ensuring that your get a correctly exposed image. The autofocus systems on Nikon DSLRs set to AF-C mode, and the Grp (5-point) or 9-point dynamic focus points will help you achieve this; and by using the back-button focusing technique, your hit rate for sharp images of moving subjects should be very high. Depending on the light you are working with either using the Matrix or Spot metering system in the camera should ensure that your images are exposed correctly as well. how can Nikon School help you develop these skills? Nikon School workshops aim to educate and inspire photographers. Our workshops cater for every level of photographic ability, whether you are a beginner, a keen amateur or a professional photographer. The workshops are a mix of easy-tounderstand theory and hands-on practical assignments. We have small groups of delegates to ensure everyone can beneit from our expert tutors’ knowledge. Our workshops cover everything from understanding the features on your digital SLR, and the best lenses to use, to image editing, photographing on location and making video ilms. Our workshops cover a variety of skills and subjects and help you get the best out of your Nikon DSLR.

“Nikon School workshops aim to educate and inspire photographers” What is the advantage of the Nikon system for wildlife photography? Nikon DSLRs have advanced AF tracking and metering systems, as well as high frame rates when used in ‘burst’ modes, which are essential for wildlife photography. AF systems such as the 153-point AF system in the D500, the D5 and the D850 make focusing and tracking subjects easy, even in low-light situations. Add in the strong lineup of Nikon lenses, the weather sealing on the bodies, and the lightweight nature of cameras such as the D7500, and Nikon DSLRs make an ideal choice for wildlife photography, even if you are travelling.

What courses do you recommend? Nikon School’s Getting Started with Wildlife Photography or Birds of Prey Experience Day are good courses to start with, as they develop your camera skills in a controlled environment. These courses help you master the basics of wildlife photography, such as focusing accurately on a moving subject and metering to get the best exposure. Our more advanced courses in the Join The Pros series have you photographing with an experienced professional photographer in the Scottish Highlands. Neil Freeman is the Training Manager at Nikon School

iNSTaGram Keep up-to-date with Nikon School and enjoy great photography in all sorts of genres by following its Instagram feed @nikonschooluk

rICHard Peters’ FreQueNtly-used settINGs


auto iSo This allows me to set the aperture and shutter I need for my creative needs, allowing the camera to give me the lowest ISO possible for those settings so I can get a base exposure.



exposure compensation Often, especially in dramatic lighting, the base exposure needs to be overwritten. The exposure compensation button lets me adjust the impact of light on the subject.


Virtual horizon With many situations there can be no deinite horizon in my images. Activating the virtual horizon in the viewinder helps me ensure the camera is straight, even when tracking moving animals.



focus tracking with lock-on The biggest mistake to make with any DSLR is not knowing when to tweak the focusing. I regularly adjust the sensitivity depending on the speed and direction of my subjects.


Limit af-area mode selection Alongside Single-point, there can be up to seven other focus modes available. I like to switch off all but the two or three that I use most frequently.


Star rate images I always set one of my function buttons to rate images. If I’m away for an extended period, being able to tag shots for when I am back at the computer speeds up my worklow.



MAKE MONEY FROM SCENICS Calendar and postcard publishers are always looking for images. Make yours their next choice


elling our images is often an attractive proposition for photographers, as not only do we get the opportunity to fund our passion, but it’s motivating to think that our work is being seen by a larger audience. Selling images for print in calendars and on postcards is a great irst step along this route, as publishers of these media offer a wide array of categories for image submissions, meaning there is a market to suit every photographer and photography genre. The other major advantage of using these publishers as a starting point is that they often have very region-speciic image requirements, allowing you to capture sellable images in your local area: no need to travel great distances to exotic locations. If you build up an extensive portfolio of images of your native region, you might ind yourself in the enviable position of becoming one of a calendar company’s go-to photographer for their regional products of that area. Furthermore, once you have been selected for print, the vast exposure that your name receives during the calendar circulation could lead to other commercial opportunities. There are several pitfalls however and you need to be very much aware of these before you head out and start shooting. Calendar and postcard publishers have precise technical requirements for the images they receive and if you want to be in with a chance of being considered for publication, each and every image you submit needs to meet all of the criteria. First, every image needs to be of the highest possible quality – you don’t necessarily need a pro-spec camera (50 megapixels is likely overkill for most calendar sizes), but always ensure you’ve used the highest resolution setting your camera offers. You’ve also got to keep an eye on image sharpness, so shooting on a tripod is highly advisable, while upgrading your bundled kit lens to a sharper model can greatly increase your work’s appeal. If you can’t afford to buy the latest professional optic, why not try hiring a professional model for a few days, while you capture the shots



Go Pro

© Ryszard Lomnicki

you need? Secondly, image composition is a major consideration; sometimes the most creative framing isn’t the best composition for use in print. Your shot may feature across a whole range of printed formats, covering both rectangular and square calendars, postcards, notelets and diaries all at the same time. The images you submit may need to be cropped and re-cropped to it multiple image aspects, so more centralised compositions make your photos more versatile – keep your subject from touching the frame edges to avoid cropping dificulties. Subject matter and perspective is also important – photographers often look for unique and abstract views to be creative, but the buying public likely want to see the classic view in their calendars and postcard souvenirs. When shooting a well-known location, do try to capture originality, but always ensure your subject is instantly recognisable. There are lots of photographers jostling for attention, but when it comes to calendar submissions you can help yourself stand out by researching exactly what the publisher needs. Take a look at their current or urgent wants lists so you can supply the images they need, when they need them. Plan ahead and enjoy the thrill of seeing your photos displayed across the country. DP


Maximise your image’s usefulness A shot is more likely to be chosen by a publisher if it can be used across multiple products Try framing your images using a slightly wider than usual focal length – this can enable picture editors to crop for multiple uses, such as wall and box calendars with oblong and squarer formats respectively.

Leave enough space around your subject for any text or graphics the publisher might want to add to the inal product. Making the designer’s life easier will increase the chances of your work being featured. Left

Flexibility A wider framing leaves plenty of area for design elements to be added and even the most unusual of cropping ratios, should they be required


Landscape format works best Shooting with your camera in landscape orientation provides images that it better in a wider range of products. Portrait format can limit your success as publishers pass them by


Use those pixels Always shoot using the highest quality setting your camera offers for high-resolution iles. Shooting in RAW format will also reduce banding or pixilation caused by post-production


Help them ind you Even after your shots are selected, you want your work to be easily found on a publisher’s database. Adding keywords and informative ilenames increases your photos’ visibility amongst the competition


Stay central Keeping your main subjects away from the frame edges reduces the chance of cropping dificulties at the design stage. Calendar and postcard publishers will thank you for this

© Ryszard Lomnicki

5 image submission essentials Your checklist of key points to follow before making your first image submission to a calendar or postcard publisher


Send what they need only send the type of images that are currently required by the publisher; don’t be tempted to submit landscapes for a ‘cute cat’ calendar!


Orientation Most calendars feature landscape or square format pictures – remember this fact when composing your images.


Shooting conditions Postcards look (and sell) better with bright, punchy images, so drop rainy photos from your submission for more success.


Be up to date recently taken images are more likely to be selected, because a calendar’s content needs to accurately represent the featured location.


Filenames and keywords An absolute requirement for most publishers is that you have descriptive ilenames and relevant keywords.


© Annamay Manrique


Take the iconic view Unique views of iconic locations might be creatively interesting, but it’s the classic shot that the public wants to buy


This is tripod territory Publishers will instantly reject any shot that isn’t sharp, so you don’t want to introduce blur through camera shake. A tripod is an absolute must when shooting images for sale



A bit of variety

All images on this page © John Erwin

While people like the familiar, including a couple of lesser-known views alongside the famous ones can add interest

Pro case study Calendar publishing expert John Erwin shares his experiences of mastering this highly competitive market When did you begin producing images for calendars and postcards? I have been selling my own calendars and postcards for seven years. I enjoy the design aspect of trying to produce something which is to my style, rather than from a downloaded template. What images work best? People want feel-good images; uplifting landscapes at dawn/dusk with iconic views are a popular and successful option. I love black and white images – they offer more lexibility as you can take an autumn shot and put it in the month of May. You can’t do that with colour pictures. What are the biggest challenges? Competition is strong: I’m competing for that same space on someone’s wall as mass-

produced calendars, charity calendars and other artists/photographers. Designing the calendar and producing all the images is also time-consuming. Just because a postcard range sells out does not mean it will again. What advice would you give someone hoping to start producing their own calendars or postcards? It’s not for the novice photographer; you need a few years’ experience before producing your own products. The costs are considerable. When starting out, test the water by ordering a short print run and see how you get on selling them yourself and through local retailers – with that feedback you will know if you’re on track. If they sell well you can build up the orders, getting a lower cost price as you buy more from the printers. Get your calendars out early, so you have several months to sell them. Producing your own products can be rewarding. Bear in mind though that it is a lot of work, and not to be ventured into unless you are fully committed.

Top tips for shooting for calendars and cards Look at calendars from not only photographers but also painters. I’ll look at their choice of subject matter, composition and presentation. It looks neater on the calendar back cover when all the images are the same shape and format. People want familiar, iconic scenes, but I like to include two or three images from less well-known places. Vary your terrain from coastal, to rural, to town and city shots. Also vary your lens use; using a mix will add to the different style of shots. Pick safe bets – odd compositions might not be to everyone’s taste, and the purchaser will see that image every day for a month. This could inluence their decision to buy. Not every image has to have frontto-back sharpness. For example, shooting poppies in a ield can work very nicely using a wide aperture and blurring out the background.

Consider mood Images taken at dawn and dusk have an uplifting mood which proves popular with the buying public, potentially increasing sales


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TRIPOD For landscape photography, tripods need to hit a sweet spot between stability and portability. We test four carbon-fibre models to see how they fare No one enjoys lugging a tripod around, but no serious landscape photographer would leave home without one. so what are the qualities that make a tripod suitable for landscape photography? First and foremost, stability. it must be able to cope with windy conditions and uneven ground, as well as support the weight from a large interchangeable-lens camera. Next, weight. Anything that keeps weight down is appreciated, though there is a balance to be struck between light weight and stability. None of the tripods in this test are heavy, but lighter ‘travel tripods’ are available. However, we wouldn’t really recommend these for day-to-day landscape use. Carbon ibre is preferred as it is lighter and also better at absorbing vibrations than metal. There is much debate about the pros and cons of having a centre column. Having one allows a greater maximum height, but it’s important to be able to remove it easily for ground-level shooting. To adjust leg height, easy-to-operate leg locks are important. Of the two types (lever and twist locks) many shooters prefer twist locks as they can be gripped and adjusted from any angle. ease of setting up and packing away is another a key factor, as is the folded height; this is important when travelling or if you strap your tripod to your backpack. The more leg sections there are, the smaller it will pack away, but too many can compromise stability.




Reviews Price: £340 / $470

Manfrotto 190 Go! Carbon Featuring a different design to other Manfrotto tripods, does the 190 Go! Carbon maintain the company’s reputation for quality at an affordable price? Manfrotto is one of the irst names that pops into most photographers’ heads when they think of tripods, and the italian manufacturer has a reputation for producing top-quality tripods at a very attractive price. This is the cheapest of the tripods on test but it doesn’t skimp on features or build quality. it has four leg sections and, unusually for a Manfrotto tripod, twist locks. As with all of the tripods reviewed here, it’s made of carbon ibre, which makes it very light and portable. setting it up is straightforward – the twist locks are thinner and less easy to grip than the other tripods, but turn easily, and once unlocked the legs pull out smoothly. The leg angle adjusters operate smoothly and the legs click positively into place. The 190 Go! is light and compact, but the compromise is a slightly low maximum height of 147cm, so taller photographers may need to consider other models. At the other extreme, it is capable of ground-level shooting and in this regard, has the easiest setup of all four tripods: no need to remove the centre column, just push it up, press a button and swing it to a horizontal position. There are only a couple of negatives with what is otherwise an excellent tripod: the feet are not interchangeable (spikes are a useful option for some terrain) and there is no hook under the centre column – important for a light tripod, as it enables you to hang ballast to steady the tripod. Right

Twist and turn Unusual for a Manfrotto, the 190 Go! has twist locks. They turn easily but are less ergonomic than those on the other tripods Far-right

Centre column This tripod’s best feature is the centre column which can be quickly rotated to a horizontal position


GROUP TesT price: £760 / $915

Gitzo GT2542 The Gitzo is the most expensive tripod on test. But is it a case of ‘you get what you pay for’? The Gitzo GT2542 is a four-section tripod in the recently updated Mountaineer range, featuring redesigned leg locks, new leg angle adjusters and other reinements. it’s an expensive tripod, but the quality is obvious from the moment you pick it up. it looks good too, with the metal sections an attractive mottled grey. in use, the GT2542 inspires conidence. it is simple to set up – the leg locks are easy to grip and turn smoothly, and the springloaded leg angle selectors mean that the legs click irmly into place. For a lightweight tripod it feels remarkably rigid once erected, with no lex or wobble whatsoever, and it has an impressive payload of 18kg. However, at under 1.7 kilos it could be vulnerable in gusts of wind. Fortunately, there is a hook under the centre column which can be used to hang your camera bag to give it additional weight; optional spikes and other feet are also available (though sadly, not included) for better grip in certain types of terrain. with a maximum height of 167cm, it should be tall enough for most photographers. setting up for ground-level shooting is a simple procedure: turn the unlocking ring just below the upper disc and the centre column detaches, leaving the upper disc and head securely on the tripod. while perhaps not quite as convenient as Manfrotto’s design, it is certainly easier than having to undo screws with Allen keys and replace the column with another part, as with many other tripods.


Leg locks The new leg locks are easy to grip and turn and are supposedly better sealed against dust and moisture than its predecessor’s Far-right

Hook The hook under the centre column is handy for adding extra weight in windy conditions


Reviews price: £530 / $692 (approx)

sirui r-3213X Sirui is the new kid on the block. Can it provide a serious challenge to the more established manufacturers? sirui may not be a familiar name for most, but the company is rapidly gaining a reputation for making good-quality products. its R-3213X is the bulkiest of the tripods on test, having only three leg sections, but it is very stable, with a payload of 22kg. it has a quality feel about it and when set up, there is no lex or wobble – it’s a very solid piece of kit, and it’s also backed up by a six-year warranty. The leg locks are easy to grip and turn and the legs extend smoothly. The leg angle selectors work smoothly and the legs click irmly into the different positions. it’s heavier than the others, at 1.8kg, but for a sturdy tripod that is still very manageable. with the centre column extended, it can reach a maximum height of an impressive 179cm, but is also capable of ground-level shooting. For this, the centre column has to be removed and replaced with a mounting plate. To do so, simply undo three bolts using an Allen key and swap the parts over. in case you forget your Allen key, there is one built into the stability hook at the bottom of the centre column – a neat piece of design. For those who prefer not to use centre columns for reasons of stability, the tripod can remain in this coniguration, which makes for a very lexible system. As well as the hook on the centre column, the tripod also comes supplied with spikes for dificult terrain.


Maximum height With the optional centre column in place, the R-3213X is still very stable and reaches an impressive maximum height of 179cm Far-right

Spikes Optional spikes are supplied to help stability in dificult terrain


GROUP TesT price: £440 / $575 (approx)

Velbon V640 Velbon is perhaps best known for its budget tripods, so how does this higher-end model shape up? velbon has been making tripods for over half a century, but it’s probably fair to say that it’s not the irst brand that springs to mind when you’re looking for a high-end model; the company is probably more associated with the budget end. However, the new Pro Geo range, including the v640, is aimed at the serious user. And when you irst look at it, it seems like a fairly serious piece of kit. it’s clearly well-made and is easy to set up. The leg locks aren’t quite so easy to grip and turn as some, but they do have an interesting feature, which is that they are ‘captive’ – you cannot keep turning them and accidentally undo them completely. Once unlocked, the legs pull out smoothly and they click irmly into position at the different angles. Once fully extended, the tripod feels solid and stable, but if extra weight is needed, a stability hook can be attached to the underside of the centre column. Optional spikes (not included) are available for extra stability on tricky ground. The centre column features a geared movement, which makes precise adjustment easy, but while useful for studio shooting, is probably not necessary for landscape photography. The crank handle does appear vulnerable to knocks and damage, as it can’t be folded away. it reaches a maximum height of 156.5cm, which is adequate for most people but perhaps not for taller photographers – however unfortunately ground-level shooting is not possible.


Geared centre column This allows for precise control but is probably unnecessary for landscapes, and the crank handle can’t be folded away for protection Far-right

Ground Level Unfortunately, it’s not possible to set the V640 up for true ground-level shooting



Manfrotto 190 Go! Carbon

Gitzo GT2542

sirui R-3213X

velbon v640

Weight 1,350g Material Carbon fibre Safety payload 7kg Leg sections 4 Leg tube diameters 25, 22, 19, 16mm Ground-level shooting Yes Top attachment 3/8” screw Max height 147cm (with centre column) Folded height 46cm

Weight 1,680g Material Carbon fibre Safety payload 18kg Leg sections 4 Leg tube diameters 18.3, 21.7, 25.3, 29mm Ground-level shooting Yes Top attachment 3/8” screw Max height 167cm (with centre column) Folded height 56cm

Weight 1,800g Material Carbon fibre Safety payload 22kg Leg sections 3 Leg tube diameters 26 - 33mm Ground-level shooting Yes Top attachment 3/8” screw Max height 179cm (with centre column) Folded height 61cm

Weight 1,550g Material Carbon fibre Safety payload 6kg Leg sections 3 Leg tube diameters 28mm (widest section) Ground-level shooting No Top attachment 3/8” and 1/4” screws Max height 156.5cm (inc. head) Folded height 42.5cm





it has some unique features, but lacks a centre column hook and option for spikes

A fully featured tripod that lacks nothing and has an innovative centre column design

A highly versatile and fully featured system with some well thought-out design features

it has one or two nice touches, but is let down by not having ground-level shooting

Build quality

Build quality

Build quality

Build quality

it’s solid and well put together, though the legs are thinner than the others in the test

The best built tripod in the test; it feels as if it should withstand years of heavy use

it has a quality feel and sirui clearly has confidence in it, offering a six-year warranty

No real complaints; this is a solid and stable tripod, but the crank handle is a concern





it’s quick and easy to set up and take down, especially for ground-level shooting

everything feels very precise and works exceptionally smoothly; a joy to use

it’s easy to set up and adjust and changing the configuration is straightforward

it’s easy enough to set up and take down but not as refined as some in the test

Value for money

Value for money

Value for money

Value for money

Carbon fibre tripods are never cheap but the 190 Go! is excellent value in this sector

Not a cheap tripod but nevertheless it is worth the money

Not the most expensive in the test but still up there with the best in terms of quality

it’s not cheap and without ground-level shooting, it’s hard to say it’s good value





This will be an excellent choice for many photographers, light but stable and excellent value with a good set of features.

if you can afford to pay the extra, it’s certainly worth doing so, as this is the best tripod in the test.

it’s easy to see why this brand is becoming popular. The sirui R-3213X is an excellent piece of kit for the money.

it has some interesting features, but it’s hard to recommend for landscape work as it cannot be set up at true ground level.




Buying options The D7500 can be bought bodyonly, but will also be sold with Nikon’s 18-140mm zoom lens Opposite

Tilting screen The high-resolution touchscreen display tilts for easier low- and high-angle shots


Price: £1,599 / $1,549 with 18-140mm lens

Nikon D7500 This new DSLR plugs the gap between the enthusiast D7200 and pro-level D500, balancing performance and features Nikon’s D7xxx DX-format cameras have proved highly popular, offering fantastic speciications at relatively affordable prices, with access to a great range of lenses and accessories. The D7500 doesn’t exactly ‘replace’ its predecessor in the series – the Nikon D7200 is expected to remain in the line-up – and in fact offers technology borrowed from the D500. Most notably, the D7500’s sensor resolution is lower than the D7200’s 24.2-megapixels, matching the 20.9-megapixels offered by the D500. So, should prospective purchasers be put off by this drop in resolution? Let’s come back to that in a moment. Ergonomics are of course always a matter of personal taste in many respects, but the

“The touchscreen is highly responsive and negates the need for timeconsuming scrolls through the menu”

D7500 really does impress from a handling perspective. The camera feels solid and well balanced, sitting very comfortably in the hand. The grip is reassuringly deep, and the rubberised weather-sealed body can clearly tolerate plenty of serious use. In terms of controls, the key buttons and dials are all conveniently located, with function buttons at the front of the camera falling within easy reach for the foreinger. The main mode dial features a locking button to prevent accidental adjustment. The touchscreen is highly responsive and negates the need for time-consuming scrolls through the menu. The body-only weight is actually slightly less than either the D7200 or the D500, at 640g. The rear LCD is touch-enabled: it’s a tilting design that lips out to offer a waistlevel viewinder option. There’s a pop-up lash built in, which can be used as part of Nikon’s Advanced Wireless Lighting system for controlling multiple lashguns. The fact that just a single SD card slot is on offer is an undeniable disappointment: many experienced camera owners appreciate the ability to have an additional SD card in place as a backup, or as a means of separately capturing RAW iles and JPEGs. In a camera this well-equipped, this does seem to be a surprising omission – especially as the single

FEATURES HIGHLIGHT WEIGHTED METERING This new metering mode prioritises the brightest parts of the picture and is designed to prevent highlight blow-out in high-contrast scenes.

GROUP AREA AF This autofocus mode makes it easier to follow moving subjects during continuous shooting, especially smaller subjects on distracting backdrops.

TIME-LAPSE MOVIE You can record a series of images at fixed, programmable intervals, and the camera will turn them into a 4K time-lapse movie, in-camera.

BUFFER CAPACITY The D7500 can not only shoot at 8fps, it can capture up to 50 lossless compressed 14-bit RAW files in a burst – performance worthy of a pro sports camera.

SNAPBRIDGE CONNECTIVITY Nikon’s SnapBridge system uses Bluetooth LE for automatically transferring low-resolution images to a smart device, plus Wi-Fi for remote camera control.




slot is compatible only with slower UHS-I cards, rather than the faster UHS-II. In line with the D500, the ISO range on offer in the D7500 is 50-1640000, an extension on the ISO 100-102400 (with only black and white available at 51200 and beyond) offered by the D7200. This is why the camera’s sensor is 20.9 megapixels rather than the 24.2 megapixels offered by the D7200: the drop in resolution enables improved noise performance. The noise levels are exceptionally well-controlled right up to 12800 (but especially at lower sensitivities, of course). Combined with the absence of an antialiasing ilter (installed on some models to combat moiré), it means that the sharpness SampLeS and clarity delivered by the The D7500 is the D7500 is most impressive: perfect all-rounder. Its 8fps you would assume you were continuous shooting made shooting with a camera with it ideal for grabbing shots of a much higher resolution feeding otters, while its low-ISO based purely on how the image quality proved ideal for images themselves look. scenic shots. The high-ISO The detail that the sensor performance is perfect in poor light. produces – provided your technique is up to scratch, of course – is quite stunning. You’d think you were shooting with a camera with a larger full-frame sensor and with a much higher resolution than you actually are. The quality of the images hits you pretty immediately when you irst open up the iles on-screen: there’s no need to zoom in to 100% to see the kind of quality that’s on offer. The D7500 is also fast, delivering 8 frames per second across a burst of 50 RAW iles. The camera’s 51-point AF system is extremely responsive, with 15 cross-type points. During


4K video Nikon was an early pioneer in DSLR video photography. While the ability to shoot 4K video is by no means unique to the D7500, it is exciting to get 4K in a mid-level DSLR. This is not a consumer-orientated novelty feature, though. The D7500 can save regular video internally to an SD card and ‘clean’ uncompressed output to an external recorder via its HDMI port. Sound is just as important: you’d expect a socket for an external microphone, but the D7500 has an audio-out socket for monitoring sound levels while shooting – a must for pro videographers. Last but not least, Nikon has incorporated Electronic Vibration Reduction to reduce the effects of camera shake during handheld ilming.

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testing, it performed remarkably well in low light, even with the AF assist beam switched off, thanks to EV -3 sensitivity. In contrast to the D7200, Group Area AF mode is on offer here. Fans of creative photography will appreciate the fact that you can shoot in a multiple-exposure mode that will combine 10 images into one ile, while also saving each of the individual frames at the same time. NFC, which was included in the D7200, has been removed here, but Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are both available for wireless connectivity via the SnapBridge app. What you are getting with the D7500 is a crop-sensor camera that effectively offers the sort of image quality you’d normally associate with a full-frame model.



Detail rendition The D7500 has dropped in resolution compared to the D7200, but it still captures high levels of detail Right

Image quality With excellent colour rendition, tonal quality and dynamic range, the D7500 has rendered this scene beautifully

Nikon D7500 megapixels 20.9MP max resolution 5,568 x 3,712 Sensor information 23.5 x 15.7mm APS-C CMOS Shutter speed 30 – 1/8,000sec, Bulb iSo sensitivity Auto, 100-51,200, exp. to 50-1,640,000 exposure modes Program AE, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Manual metering options 3D Matrix, CW, HW, A, S flash modes TTL auto, slow sync, 2nd curtain, red-eye connectivity Bluetooth LE, Wi-Fi weight 720g with battery and memory card dimensions 136 x 104 x 73mm Batteries Rechargeable Li-ion, EN-EL15a Storage SD/SDHC/SDXC UHS-I Lcd 3.2-inch, 922,000 dots viewinder Optical pentaprism, 0.94x magniication, 100% coverage






It’s good, but Nikon has carefully retained a gap with the more advanced D500 model

BuiLd QuaLity It’s not built to take all of the punishment a pro camera can, but the D7500 is tough enough

HandLing The D7500 is chunky but not too big, tough yet not too heavy, and the controls are excellent

QuaLity of reSuLtS The D7500 doesn’t have the highest megapixel rating going, but its image quality is first-rate

vaLue for money It costs more than Canon’s rival EOS 7D II, but the D7500 offers 4K video and ultra-high ISOs

overall The Nikon D7500 brings a formidable combination of features, image quality and performance, and would make the perfect all-rounder for an enthusiast

1 mode diaL

2 opticaL viewfinder

3 rear command diaL

4 Lv controL

The main mode dial has the release (drive) dial directly underneath.

This is placed perfectly for your thumb; there’s another dial on the front.

The D7500’s pentaprism viewfinder displays 100% frame coverage.

The Lv button activates Live View, and the lever around it selects still or movie mode.



Price: £5,850 / $6,895

Leica M10 Has Leica perfectly blended traditional charm with ultra-modern functionality in the M10? We take it for a test drive to ind out


Analogue M profile For handling, the M10 is 4mm slimmer than its predecessor Above-bottom

ISO selector Filling previously wasted space is a top-plate manual ISO dial

Leica has a long-standing reputation for producing cameras with a stripped-back design – carrying the mechanical, hands-on feel of the company’s ilm cameras into the digital age. This is one of the main reasons for the popularity of the M-series digital models – the marriage of nostalgic handling to the convenience of modern technology. The German manufacturer has shown an uncanny determination to resist trends in modern camera design – notably the need to add a plethora of features with each new model – and to continue to generate seemingly sparse spec sheets. In order to stay current however, the irm has obviously seen the need to move with the times in its recent M variants, with some surprising additions to their features lists. The latest iteration, the M10, has Wi-Fi capability built in, enabling the photographer

to wirelessly transfer images to and from the camera, as well as wireless camera control, using an app on portable IOS devices. This makes backing up images in the ield convenient and tripod-mounted shooting more versatile. The introduction of a new-generation

a rangeinder of this type is unlikely to be the irst on a sports photographer’s wish list, the rapid image writing makes the increased shooting rate welcome for street photography and is genuinely useful in practice. While the M10 maintains the 24MP resolution of the Typ 240, the sensor design is new, offering increased dynamic range of up to 12.9EV and improved lowlight performance. We were impressed with the dynamic range under highcontrast conditions – the M10 handles exposure of bright highlights well, while maintaining a good level of shadow detail. With the new sensor, Leica has been conident enough to raise the maximum ISO sensitivity to 50,000 compared to 6400 on the Typ 240. Noise is virtually imperceptible up to around ISO 1600, even when shadows are lifted in post-processing. Beyond this noise increases incrementally, though doesn’t become problematic until the extreme end of

“The simplified design is sure to attract Leica devotees. A stunning blend of functionality and power”


Maestro II image processor boosts the M10’s continuous shooting rate to ive frames per second (up from 3fps on its predecessor, the Leica M Typ 240) and doubles the buffer capacity to 2GB, allowing bursts of up to 40 JPEG images, over the Typ 240’s 12. Although


the ISO scale; a very impressive result from the full-frame M10. Another useful feature is the Auto ISO, which allows the camera to select the sensitivity to maintain a shutter speed – we could happily leave the camera set to this without worrying about excessive noise creeping in at unexpected high sensitivities. In use the M10 is comfortable to hold, feeling solid without excessive weight. Another welcome addition to the camera body is a dedicated ISO dial on the top plate, with selectable settings from ISO 100 to 6400, plus automatic ‘A’ and user-selectable ‘M’ positions. The M sensitivity can be customised from within the Leica’s menu, for rapid access to a pre-set ISO for speciic conditions when a quick increase in sensitivity is required, after a change in lighting for example. The dial itself is a little stiff and iddly to operate, since it must irst be pulled up to unlock it, but the feature itself speeds up camera work. The reined viewinder offers a pleasantly unobstructed view, which makes judging focus quick and simple. For precise focusing, the Live View function is especially appealing, offering real-time exposure simulation and direct focus preview. Although screen resolution isn’t high compared to some cameras at this price (the Nikon D5 has a 3.2-inch LCD with almost double the resolution), the 1,036,800-dot, 3-inch LCD on the M10 is contrasty and detailed. The M10’s simpliied design – the back features only three buttons – is sure to attract Leica devotees and when combined with the camera’s exceptional image quality, accurate metering and fast processing, you’re left with a stunning blend of functionality and power.

FEATURES in tHe detail


lens PreVieW leVer

The camera resolves a tremendous level of detail when viewing at 100%.

The first M-series camera with Wi-Fi for wireless control and image transfer.

Get a quick preview of the scene coverage of lenses from 28mm to 135mm.

larger VieWFinder

FoCus PeaKing


The M10’s viewfinder is bright, spacious and comfortable in use.

In Live View, the M10 can highlight in-focus edges in red as a focusing aid.

It is back-compatible with lenses all the way to 1954, offering immense flexibility.


Colour capture Vibrant, but natural, colour reproduction is one of the highlights of the camera, along with detail Above-right

Shoot from the hip The M10’s size and quiet shutter make it ideal for staying inconspicuous when shooting street photography


Leica M10 megapixels 24 max resolution 5 ,976 x 3,992 sensor information 24mm x 36mm fullframe CMOS shutter speed 8 - 1/4,000sec, Bulb iso sensitivity Auto, 100-6400 exp. to 50,000 exposure modes Aperture Priority, Manual metering options S, CW, E Flash modes TTL irst/second curtain sync (with compatible external lash units), Off Connectivity Wi-Fi Weight 660g (including battery) dimensions 139 x 80 x 38.5mm Batteries Rechargeable Li-ion storage SD, SDHC, SDXC lCd 3in, 1,036,800 dots Viewinder Optical direct, splitimage rangeinder, 0.73x magniication

Features Excluding video shooting, about as many features as you could want in a digital rangefinder

Build quality Built like a tank and protected from the elements – true to M-series form and Leica tradition

Handling A little smooth and angular for big hands, but will be familiar to longtime Leica users

quality oF results Exceptional clarity, tonality and colour. Impressive noise performance and dynamic range

Value For money For similar money you can get far more from Canon and Nikon cameras, but it fills its niche well

overall The M10 is definitely the best digital M to date and although it won’t be for everyone (just like its predecessors) it is sure to delight Leica users with its mix of old and new



Price: £1,150 / $1,300


Is this offering from Pentax an ideal high-speed standard zoom for a pro-grade full-frame DSLR? Our expert Kevin Carter takes a look When you recall the number of full-frame DSLRs that have been introduced over the years, it’s a little surprising that Pentax – one of the most innovative and inluential camera makers of the last century – has only recently launched its irst model. Still, the Pentax K-1 was worth the wait, but perhaps the biggest problem was that it highlighted a dearth of up-to-date fullframe Pentax-it lenses. Fortunately, the maker’s close relationship with Tamron means that this standard zoom lens shares pretty much everything with the excellent Tamron SP 24-70mm f2.8 Di VC USD, a lens that’s so good that the marques ind tough to match – except for the Pentax’s notable lack of built-in stabilisation. Although it’s quite a big lens, even on the Pentax K-1, the 24-70mm handles sublimely well. It balances nicely, and although the outer is mainly made of engineering plastic, everything feels well put together. The zoom and focus rings are velvety-smooth and, thanks to the sonic-drive motor (SDM), focusing is fast and eerily quiet. Optically, the HD Pentax-D FA* 24-70mm f2.8 ED SDM WR might not be perfect – no lens ever is, of course, especially a zoom – but it is extremely good. Vignetting is higher than expected and it’s slightly sharper in the centre than the edges, especially at the longer end, but this lens has redeined the standard highspeed zoom for years to come.



Top performer Most lenses are sharp at f8 but few zooms can handle the demands of high-resolution sensors like this one


Rendering Given this is a zoom, transitions to out-of-focus areas are mostly very good indeed, but when pushed some mild double-edging is visible

Technical specs Manufacturer Model Web Elements/groups

Pentax HD Pentax-D FA* 24-70mm f2.8 ED SDM WR 17 / 12

Angle of view

73.7 - 28.8 degrees (horizontal)

Max aperture


Min aperture Min focus distance Mount Filter size Length Diameter Weight

f22 0.38m Pentax KAF3 82mm 1 09.5mm 88.5mm 812g with hood

Overall This lens delivers stunning results but it comes at a price, particularly as it doesn’t feature built-in image stabilisation. Still, it’s a great performer overall


Price: £1,400 / $1,400

Sigma 135mm f1.8 DG HSM A

We put Sigma’s latest premium-grade Art-series prime lens to the test to ind out how well it stands up

Sigma has transformed its business from mostly a budget lens maker to that of premium manufacturer, producing esoteric lenses for the marques and re-vamping its own high-grade models with class-leading designs. The Art series sits at the pinnacle of its own brand and encompasses a wide range of high-speed models including this lens, the longest in the line-up currently. Like the 85mm f1.4 which it strongly resembles, the 135mm f1.8 is a big and strikingly heavy lens that wouldn’t look out of place on a full-frame medium-format camera. If size is an indicator of quality then, this is unlikely to disappoint. It’s almost as sharp in the centre wide open as it is at the edges and stopping down only slightly improves sharpness. Admittedly there’s a little lateral chromatic aberration and some secondary spectrum, but it’s lower than that seen in the faster 85mm f1.4. There’s no real distracting spherochromatism and barely any vignetting or distortion either. Of course achieving accurate focus wide open is a challenge handheld manually at this focal length, even with the very best optical viewinders, so you’d best make sure that your AF is calibrated properly. People often buy lenses like this for their rendering or ‘drawing style’, so how does this lens stack up? It is generally very good, but even a large lens like this shows ‘cat’s eye’-shaped highlights and at times ‘wiry’ bokeh wide open.


Deinition This lens is sharp, even wide open, and when stopped down a little it’s really well-behaved across the whole frame


Drawing style Image quality is impressive but the way the lens ‘draws’ busy backgrounds at and close to its widest aperture is less so

Technical specs Manufacturer Model Web Elements/groups

Sigma 135mm f1.8 DG HSM A 13 / 10

Angle of view

15.2 degrees (horizontal)

Max aperture


Min aperture Min focus distance Mount Filter size Length Diameter Weight

f16 0.875m Canon EF, Nikon F, Sigma SA 82mm 114.9mm 91.4mm 1,130g

Overall Optically this lens performs very well indeed, although we found its design and handling to be slightly less impressive – this is a big and heavy lens





100%DSLR 100%CANON The only magazine for Canon DSLR photographers


WhiteWall Acrylic Mini

Price: from £13 / $20


Add a touch of class with these trendy, Instagram-style prints

A unique free-standing display A high-quality but fresh way to display multiple images together, which is perfect for a set such as wedding photos or holiday snaps


Quality craftsmanship The finish of the product is exceptional, with the corners looking neat and tidy, the hook feeling sturdy and the photo print meeting our high expectations as photographers

WhiteWall is now providing an alternative offering for its acrylic prints, and it’s one that comes in a tiny but exceedingly elegant package. These small-form pictures feel like a sophisticated yet affordable gift, and combined with a set you can create a photo display for your home or studio. They could even become an extra to add on to your wedding photography package to make yourself stand out from the crowd. They come in 13x13cm or 13x18cm sizes, so perfect for your Insta-worthy shots, and have lexible display options. There’s a built-in picture hook that is also magnetic, so you can have this on your wall or fridge, or use the acrylic stand to put it on a shelf. The hook feels secure and the magnet is very strong, so you feel like it’s not going to easily get knocked off the fridge and be damaged.


They are simple to order online, with a quick an easy system that could see you go from start to inish in mere minutes. You can make basic edits to your image through the site, and it also provides you with the ICC proiles if you want to get your colours really accurate. When our products arrived, they came well protected in padded envelopes and were packaged in a charming patterned cardboard presentation box, so it feels even more like an ideal gift to send someone. The actual product is a photo print under 2mm-thick acrylic glass, with opaque 3mmthick aluminium Dibond backing. This is sealed with elastic silicone, which means it’s less likely to have bubbles form over time. The paper used is Fuji Crystal DP II, which has a high-gloss inish, and it produced good saturation and accurate colours with great

detail. WhiteWall offers a ive-year guarantee on all of its products, but this paper boasts a 75-year colour fastness, which means it has good resistance to fading.

Summary Ease of use Value for money Packaging

Quality of results

Overall This is a fun yet extremely high-quality printing option that’s perfect for a gift or multi-photo display. A highly professional product that offers a unique way to show off your photos


Multi-card readers Quickly transfer shots with these USB 3.0-compatible options

Transcend RDF9K Card Reader Price: £15 / $17 Slots: SD, CF, microSD This reader is one of the cheapest on test and Transcend has chosen to keep its design simple, so it doesn’t look as smart as Kingston’s. You also have to push the micro SD card in quite far, which means you don’t have much left to grab hold of to pull it back out. However, we had no qualms with the quality and it’s the smallest on test, although twice the depth of the PNY.


Delkin USB 3.0 Universal Memory Card Reader

Kingston Media Reader USB 3.0 Price: : £18 / $36 Slots: SD, CF, microSD, MS One of the more expensive readers on test by a fraction, this offering certainly looks the part, with its white body that has a sophisticated, brushed-nickel effect. It feels high quality and the cards slot in and out smoothly. While the others all have LED indicators, this one looks great as the whole logo lights up. It’s larger than the readers from PNY and Transcend, though.


PNY High Performance USB 3.0 Card Reader

Price: £30 / $20 Slots: SD, CF, microSD, MS, XD

Price: £15 / $28 Slots: SD, CF, microSD, Mini SD, MS, XD

This is the biggest reader on test and one of the most expensive, but it does have XD support over the offering from Kingston and Transcend. Its matte plastic and embossed logo certainly look sophisticated and it has great build quality. You also get a ive-year guarantee, which may make the extra pounds worth it.

PNY’s card reader is the most slimline on test while also having the most slots, supporting Mini SD as well as XD, SD, microSD, MS and CF. There’s a USB 2.0 lead built in that its snugly in the back, making this ultra compact, but there’s also a USB 3.0 lead for faster transfer times. A good design, solid build quality and cheap price too.

Overall 108


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Split-screen view You can toggle a split screen for a before/after view of a ilter effect, to help prevent you over-editing Below-bottom

Create your own presets Filters can be combined and customised, using baseline presets as a starting point. These changes can be saved as a new preset for later

Topaz Adjust 5 Topaz Labs’ plug-ins have become the favourites of many photographers. We ind out whether Topaz Adjust can really add something to your images Price: £39 (approx) / $50 OS: Windows 7 or later, OS X 10.9 or later Third-party plug-ins tend to fall into one of two categories – those that offer novel effects and become instantly popular but then fade once that novelty has passed, and those that genuinely add something special and lasting to your images. As a general rule, you should only consider investing in a plug-in if the effects they produce can’t be easily recreated using the main software package you already own. The Topaz suite is loved by many retouchers due to the ease of operation and affordable price tag. For $50 you get a lot of features, with a wide variety of ilters, neatly organised into six default tabs. This provides quick access to ilter collections, which are grouped according to ilter effect styles, such as ilm simulation ilters, HDR effects for detail enhancement and the Vibrant Collection for colour manipulation. The layout is fairly intuitive, with ilter presets down the left side of the workspace and


adjustment sliders down the right – a common structure in line with software like Lightroom and the Nik collection. Also familiar is the ability to collapse adjustment panels to ‘clean up’ the work area and streamline the editing process. The interface itself is stylish and easy on the eye – the ‘lights out’ colour scheme is useful for ensuring the user views accurate colour and brightness on-screen. The ilters themselves differ in their usefulness, although the broad portfolio means there is something to suit almost every mood. The Dynamic Pop option in the HDR Collection is especially good for adding micro contrast and enhancing ine detail. Noise is mostly well controlled, although some ilters bring out quite a bit of grain in shadow areas. Regarding speed, image processing is vastly improved over previous versions of the plug-in, with only ive to ten seconds required to apply effects to a high-resolution image.

Topaz Adjust 5 is a slick and solid performer, providing effects that are still very current. The plug-in can add depth to lat images, and the customised ilters can create unique looks with ease. Well worth the modest investment.

Summary Ease of use Value for money Features

Quality of results

Overall An intuitive tool for the creative digital photographer, offering a wide range of attractive ‘looks’ that, if used with restraint, may make viewers look twice


RawTherapee 5.2 Can this free piece of software offer everything a photographer needs? Price: Free OS: Windows or later, macOS 10.9 or later A free piece of image-editing software can never be a bad thing, especially for up-and-coming photographers and those still learning the techniques. RawTherapee, however, is not exactly beginnerfriendly and relies highly on the premise that the user has a decent knowledge of photo editing. The software is a free RAW processing application that offers a number of features and supports many RAW ile formats, including unusual ones like those from cameras using Foveon and X-Trans sensors. The interface isn’t the most straightforward to use and it often lags a little. The editing panel on the right of the software can be a little frustrating – some of the sections aren’t immediately visible and you need to collapse some of them or scroll down quite far in order to see them all. To really get the most out of the software we’d recommend going on to the developer’s RawPedia page as it explains some of the shortcuts, tools and features that will make your irst edit easier – but even that is a little clunky. You’ll have to spare a bit of time to really make the most out of your edits. The software offers in-depth sharpening as well as really impressive colour features. The

Pastel Tones slider is effective for making colours really pop and the White Balance slider is very impressive and responsive. While editing you’ll have the option to view the histogram and you can also select to see a before and after image, enabling you to monitor how far you’ve taken an image. Other notable features include automatic noise reduction, manual luminance noise reduction, post-resize sharpening and Luminance and Perceptual tone curve modes.

Summary Ease of use Value for money Features

Quality of results

Overall This piece of software does offer a lot considering it is free. However, it took us a while to get to grips with the interface and even then we were not totally convinced


White balance control You can alter an image’s white balance with ease thanks to RawTherapee’s responsive slider


Sharpen up Utilise the in-depth sharpening panel to make the most out of your image and monitor your edits with the histogram

App Focus Photo Lab Price: Free OS: iOS 9 or later, Android varies with device A quirky app that will enable you to make fun and creative imagery from your phone pictures. The app itself is a little clunky, featuring multiple adverts and pop-ups, and there’s also a slight lag. It’s an inventive app for the occasional arty edit, however it does become very frustrating after a while and doesn’t offer the user much control over the image effects.





1 Kenko Teleplus 1.4x HD DGX Teleconverter (Canon it) Website: Price: £154 / $170

A great option for photographers looking for more reach without needing to fork out for a brand-new telephoto lens. It comfortably its between the lens and the camera body and weighs just 110g, which is perfect for extending your focal length without the weight and bulk of a heavy telephoto lens. The teleconverter feels robust and well made and when we used it with our Canon 70-200mm lens focusing was still responsive. Highly recommended.


Hoya 77mm REVO SMC UV(0)

Website: Price: £65 / $120


Many photographers purchase a UV ilter automatically for every new lens that they buy. This is because UV ilters can be used all of the time and will help keep the expensive glass on the front of your lens scratch free. The main function of UV ilters, however, is to stop UV light/haze from reaching the camera’s sensor with the aim of producing sharper shots, and this Hoya ilter delivers exactly that. If a bit of extra protection is all you are after then this ilter might be a bit pricey, but for impressively crisp captures it is certainly worth it.


FPV Action Cam Pouch

Website: Price: £20 / $20


Amazingly portable and compact, this pouch is the essential purchase for any action cam enthusiast. The handy pouch holds two action cameras without their housings – as well as special battery slots and a zipped pocket for SD cards – all in a compact pouch that will it into a larger bag with absolute ease. The inside is lined with soft material that will help to protect your kit from any bumps or scrapes. For just £20 this little case is a great investment for protecting your pricey action camera kit.


Manfrotto 685B Neotec Monopod

Website: Price: £149 / $200


Accessories A collection of the best fun-yet-functional products out there for photographers

Lightweight and portable, this monopod offers the user extra support when they need it. The most notable feature is the innovative foot pedal that enables the user to quickly extend or retract it with absolute ease, and the safety lever assures that it can’t be accidentally moved. It also features a grip on the leg as well as a wrist strap to ensure that you can keep hold of it securely. It is made from aluminium, feels really robust and extends to 170cm. Minimum height is 74cm which isn’t very compact, but otherwise it’s a solid choice.


Mindshift Gear PhotoCross 10

Website: Price: £110 / $115

Sling bags are great for when you don’t want to take your bag off while on a shoot, you just have to simply slide it round and get your camera out. The PhotoCross bag will withstand the elements thanks to the tough, weatherproof fabric and zips. It has a dedicated pouch that will it a ten-inch tablet as well as a DSLR and two lenses. The internal dividers will make sure your kit is kept separate and protected while the back and strap are nicely padded, which means it will be comfortable to carry.


BE INCLUSIVE Ewen Bell advises us to change our perspective and be inclusive in our imagery All images © Ewen Bell


hotographers have a tendency to exclude instead of include. We see the world as little frames that are easily spoiled by the presence of a Coke can, a telephone pole or a few people who aren’t right for our composition. So we try to remove them from the picture. We start down this creative path and ind that telephoto lenses are great at excluding lots of unwanted elements, and then cropping the image on a desktop allows us to exclude even more. This path is reductionist. It removes information, context and creativity. The opposite of exclusion is inclusion. Thinking with an ‘inclusive’ framework means you look outside the shot for new elements. You start with your primary subject, the hero of your shot, and try to embrace supporting elements that enhance the overall scene. You add detail, add context and add information. It’s a path to more complex compositions, with more detail. It’s a path that opens the door to many options and many new compositions.


in the plane of focus, while the Bringing ‘more’ into a frame more complex scene around them is easier with a wider lens. That melts into degrees of bokeh. Even amazing 70-200mm won’t help when the background focus is you be more inclusive. A 50mm removed the context can remain, does nicely, a 35mm does even and those myriad distractions better and a 24mm does great. have a tendency to dissolve into Wrangling all that extra complementary adornments. information and carving out a PRO BIO As you relax on the urgency pleasing composition is hard An Australian-based to delete information from work. It is demanding, and like editorial photographer, Ewen’s focus is always on frames you might ind the any skill it requires practice to sharing what makes the intensity of your photographic build conidence. Making a habit world beautiful, and the process becomes supplanted by of thinking inclusively is a skill in inspiration to step outside enjoyment. You might ind your itself, let alone building on your your boundaries and experience it for yourself. creativity lows better, and that creative toolbox to work with the “Travel is the most valuable your eyes become more open to more complex scenes. gift you can give yourself.” opportunity. The payoff from this A powerful tool for controlling simple change of perspective is all this additional complexity is that you are including more of yourself in the shallow depth of ield. Even with a nice wide inal images. Your perspective, your wisdom 24mm lens an f-stop around f2 will let you and a greater depth of your composition. So be selective about your focus. You can make be generous, and be inclusive. one person the hero of the shot, preserved