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Creative Photography Learn new skills and take your photography to the next level

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Contents Teach yourself creative Photography 182




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Teach yourself creative Photography contents Flour power


Seeing stars!


The body beautiful



Splash without flash


Get the high-key look


The light fantastic


Tilt-shift on the cheap


Dramatic portraits


Shoot the breeze


Say it with shadows


Impressionist architecture


Spin a Spirograph


A time for reflection


Aim for the stars


A flash in the pan


Mirror, mirror


In the shallow end


Strobe the walls


Tone it around


Drag your camera


Double vision images


Brighten up your day


See the bigger picture




Blurred lines


Candlelit winner


Ring of fire


Freeze frames


A line in the sand


A bit of a blur


Optical wizardry


Let’s twist again


Out of the shadows


Stack ’em up


In at the deep end


photoshop elements The perfect blend


Make photo colours pop


Add atmosphere to your pictures 144 Turn over a new leaf


Make a movie poster


Get the retro look


Get the party glowing 


Splash and splatter


Portraits that sparkle


Get a smart new look


Fun with fireworks


photoshop cc Rediscover your inner child


Get the infrared look


Create beautiful bokeh for portraits 168 170

Creative block


HDR in Photoshop


Get the gritty look 


Fantasy landscapes


A light blub moment


Plot a portrait with polygons


Mood lighting


Pop-up portraits


Flaunt your curves


Frequent fliers


Round the world


Colour-foil effects!


Solar power


Three is the magic number


Brush up on your photo painting skills


It’s a small world after all


Blended to perfection


Brilliant black & white


Seeing double


Let there be light!


Keep it in the dark



Discover how to access our free content



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Textural portraiture

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Slowing the seas

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The Mission Shoot a high-key portrait lit with flash Time needed 20 minutes Skill level Intermediate

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Kit needed 2 Speedlites • Plain white or off-white wall • Shoot-through umbrella (optional)

Get the high-key look How to shoot impactful high-key portraits with a pair of flashguns


he term ‘high key’ means images with a bright, airy look that are dominated by light tones, usually with a blown-out background. It’s a lighting setup you often see in studio fashion or family portraiture, but it doesn’t require a studio and a load of expensive

Of course, we need to be able to trigger the flash off-camera; it helps if one can have its settings controlled wirelessly by your camera’s pop-up flash. Your second flashgun need not be compatible, as long as it’s got an optical slave mode. This means you can use a cheaper model, like the Yongnuo flash we used.

STEP BY STEP The high-key to success How to shoot stunning people shots with just a camera and two Speedlites

01 Light the background

02 Set up main light

03 Trigger the flash

04 Set up your exposure

05 Adjust flash power

06 Shoot your portrait

Any plain white wall will do for a backdrop. Attach one flashgun to a stand or tripod using the screw thread in its plastic base and position it directly behind the subject, pointed at the wall. Ensure that your model obscures the stand when you shoot.

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lighting gear. All you need is a white wall and a pair of flashguns. To get the high-key look we simply need to overexpose the background, so that it comes out brighter than our subject, which is easily done with two flashes. Train one on the subject, with the other angled towards the background at a higher power setting.

Set Manual exposure mode for full control, with ISO100 and shutter speed 1/200 sec. Choose a wide aperture, such as f/5.6, then take a few test shots, changing the power of the front flash until the exposure on the subject looks right. 14

Set your second flashgun in front of your subject from slightly above the face. For flattering results with flash, it’s a good idea to diffuse the light and soften the shadows, either with a shoot-through umbrella like this, or by bouncing it off a wall or ceiling.

When using multiple flashes, the ratio between them is more important than individual power settings. For the high-key look, we need the background flashgun to overexpose the wall, so set the this flash to a high power output to blow it out.

If one Speedlite is compatible, you can use the camera’s wireless flash function to trigger it (see box, right) then set the second Speedlite to Slave. If neither flash is compatible, use your pop-up flash at a low power and set both Speedlites to Slave.

Experiment with poses as you shoot, tweaking the flashguns’ power ratio, if needed, but taking care to let both fully recharge before each shot. Focus on the closest eye, and try different positions for your front flash to light the face.

photography PROJECTS photography projects As well as adjusting the output power, you can also change the strength of a flashgun by moving it closer or further from the subject

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Quick Tip!

Wireless flash tips

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Many DSLRs can use their pop-up flash to not only to trigger off-camera flashguns, but also set their power level. Exactly how you do this depends on your camera make and model, so consult your manual. Once you’re set up to trigger one flashgun, set any others to Slave and they’ll also be fired.


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See the bigger picture The Mission

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Shoot a wide-angle portrait with extreme bokeh Time needed One day Skill level Advanced Kit needed Fast telephoto lens • Photoshop CS/ CC or Elements


Learn how to shoot and stitch a bokeh panorama using the Brenizer technique to achieve a shallow depth of field


‘bokehrama’ is a series of images stitched together to create a scene that’s far bigger and more detailed than could normally be achieved. It’s similar to the conventional panoramic photograph, but instead of only stitching images horizontally to form a wider-thannormal scene, images are also stitched vertically to create a final image that’s both wide and tall, effectively increasing the sensor size of the camera.

This ingenious technique, developed by wedding photographer Ryan Brenizer, enables you to create an image with the intimacy and naturallooking perspective of a wide angle of view combined with a really shallow depth of field for beautiful blur in the foreground and background, which is impossible to achieve in a single shot taken with a wide-angle lens. Our image was created from nearly 100 images, each shot at 200mm with a wide maximum

aperture of f/2.8. To show you how effective this technique is we stood in exactly the same spot, at the same distance from our subject, and used the same 200mm focal length to take a single shot, and only captured a small portion of our subject. And while switching to a 24mm wide-angle lens achieves roughly the same crop as the bokehrama, the scene is far more sharply focused, losing the beautiful blur that only shooting wide open with a telephoto lens can achieve.

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Step by step how to shoot a portrait panorama Consistent camera and lens settings and a precise technique is the key for the best bokehramas

Effectively speaking

01 Depth of field

We used a fast 70-200mm telephoto zoom lens at 200mm and wide open at f/2.8. The narrow angle of view, combined with a wide aperture, gives a really shallow depth of field for the beautiful bokeh effect.

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Use this online calculator to work out the effective focal length and aperture of your bokehrama:

02 Manual mode

It’s vital your settings remain the same for each shot to ensure a smooth stitch, so switch to Manual mode and set the widest aperture. Meter the exposure and increase ISO for a faster shutter speed, if required. 35

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The Mission Record the light trails of a torch for abstract and colourful results

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Time needed 2 hours Skill level Intermediate Kit needed Standard zoom lens • Remote shutter release • Tripod • Torch • String • Drawing pin • Tape • Paper • Photoshop Elements


Spin a Spirograph Capture the movement of a torch spinning on string


apturing light trails is often associated with shooting outdoors, when it’s dark and cold. So you’ll be pleased to hear that you can achieve similar effects in the comfort of your own home, no coat or gloves required! However, we won’t be shooting conventional light trails, such as traffic trails, fairground rides or light paintings created by hand. In this project we’ll be capturing physiograms; geometric patterns created by photographing a long-exposure of a light source

spinning in a regular pattern. The results take on the look of a drawing from an old-school Spirograph toy. All this technique requires is a simple setup and a little long-exposure know-how. To get started you need a dark room; if you’re shooting in the daytime you’ll need some heavyduty curtains or an extra blanket to block out as much light as possible, as you’ll need to set a long shutter speed to capture the movement of the torch. Rather than hand-holding the torch to create movement, we’re going to

hang it from the ceiling with a piece of string and let motion and gravity do their work. Not only will this give us much cleaner light trails, the natural swinging pattern the torch carves out will give us the geometric appearance we’re after. The great thing about this technique is you don’t need any specialist equipment, just your DSLR, a tripod, shutter release and a torch. Once we’ve captured a variety of images, we’ll show you how to add colour to create a work of modern art.

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Step by step Become a spin doctor Grab your kit and get set up to capture long-exposure light trails

Bulb mode

02 Make a tail

03 Position camera

04 Compose and focus

05 Set aperture

06 Shutter speed

Hang your torch from the ceiling so that the light is pointing downwards, towards the floor, using some string that’s roughly a metre in length and a drawing pin to hold it in place. Make sure the pin is secure and the torch can move freely.

Position the camera with the lens facing directly up on a tripod and place it directly beneath the hanging torch. Get the tripod down as low as possible but leave enough room to use the viewfinder or Live View to focus and compose image.

Using Live View or the viewfinder focus manually on the torch and then do a test swing to ensure it stays within the frame. If it’s swinging out and the tripod is as low as it can go and your lens is at its widest focal length, shorten the string a little.

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Switch to Bulb mode. The distance between the torch and the camera will change as the torch swings, so select a narrow aperture (f/16-22) to keep the light trail in focus for the duration. Not only will this give a great depth of field, it will reduce any ambient light.

As the torch swings it will make its own spirals but to ensure that the larger swings create smooth arcs you’ll need to attach a ‘tail’ to the side of the torch. To make one cut a rectangle roughly 10cm long from some card or paper.

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01 Secure the torch

This shooting mode is essential for longexposure photography. It enables you to set the aperture and then control the length of time the shutter is open for. This is the option for exposures any longer than 30 secs.

Attach a shutter release. Swing the torch and hold down the shutter to start a 30-40 sec test shot and release to finish it. If the image is too dark, increase ISO or aperture (or both). If it’s too light, reduce the ISO or aperture and experiment with exposure times. 55

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Take it further with a quick edit Use a few quick Photoshop sliders to set your shots alight

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01 start in camera raw

It doesn’t take much tweaking to enhance these portraits. Because direct sunlight can often result in images that are slightly underexposed, your main aim is to brighten up the face without blowing out the definition of the ring itself. To begin, we took down the Whites and Highlights.

Next, we opened up our image in the main Photoshop editor. First, we used the Dodge tool to selectively brighten up areas of the face, with the Range set to Midtones and the Exposure to 50%. Then, we set the Range to Highlights and brightened up the rim lighting outlining our model’s head.

03 Finishing touches

The last step was to add a few subtle adjustment layers to our shot. We ramped up the Brightness and Contrast ever so slightly for a punchier result, as this suited the high-contrast shooting conditions. In some situations, you might find that you actually want a flatter, more subtle result.

Final inspiration TO Get the glow GOING Try out different pipes, lighting and shooting situations left look up

If the sun is still very high in the sky, find an open space to shoot in, crouch down low and position it behind your model’s head.

right forget the ring

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This technique creates gorgeous flare effect, but you don’t have to make them circular.


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Freeze frames

When it’s cold outside, why not embrace the chill for some winter macro images The Mission Shoot winterthemed macro images of nature

Skill level Easy Kit needed Macro lens • Lamp or torch • Tripod

Alternative options Make your own winter If it’s not cold enough to freeze where you are but you’d still like to try out this project, gather some natural objects, sprinkle water over them, then put them in the freezer for a few hours to turn the water to ice, giving your subjects an attractive, frosty look. You can take this a step further by using sugar as a ‘snowy’ background.

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Time needed 30 minutes


inter converts the land into a frozen wonderland, preserving miniature details of the macro world into tiny crystallized sculptures. So before you write off going out in the cold, have a look for some hidden photogenic gems; you may not have to go further than your own back garden. To get the most out of a tiny subject we need to shoot with a macro lens, allowing us to focus exceptionally close up. It’s great for photographing in frost and ice, as when we get in that close, we see all of the detailed textures and patterns frozen in place. As a starting point, gather some strong, natural, wintry colours, such as our red berries, from a cold, frosty environment. And if it’s not quite cold enough outside, you can always pop your berries in the freezer…

Step by step Come in from the cold Quick tips on shooting macro photography to capture nature frozen in place by the cold of winter

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01 Setting the scenery

Find a frost-covered subject with a splash of colour to stand out. Early mornings are an ideal time, before the sun has risen long enough to warm up the ice.

02 Close up lighting

As macro subjects are often hidden in shadow, use a lamp or torch to accurately light your target. A warmer-toned bulb can be directed as a miniature sun.

03 Read the Meter

Use Spot metering to meter precisely on a red berry; otherwise the camera is likely to be fooled into underexposing the shot due to all the bright white in your scene. 79

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The Mission Shoot and create an artistic triptych Time needed Half a day Skill level Intermediate

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Kit needed Flashgun • Macro lens • Reflector


Three is the magic number

Shoot a trio of related images to create an artistic triptych fit for your wall


s the saying goes, ‘good things come in threes’, so we’re going to reveal some top tips on shooting and selecting images to create a beautiful, artistic triptych. Having the opportunity to display more than a single frame as a finished piece will enable you to tell a story, reveal different sides of a subject or repeat a particular theme across varying subjects that work together in unison. Triptychs work well for a range of genres and subjects, and in this project we’re going to show you how even the simplest of objects

can create beautiful artwork. Here, we’ve collected a variety of grasses and weeds which are readily available in the countryside. By stripping away distractions and shooting these subjects against a plain white background, we can focus our attention on the delicate designs of these plant structures. By adding a macro lens into the mix we can get up close to reveal even the most fragile of details for an abstract composition. As we’ll be getting in close to our subject, we require a bit of extra light to reveal the shapes and textures and add some depth

to our images, so we’ll be using off-camera flash triggered by our camera’s pop-up flash to light our subjects (if your camera doesn’t have a pop-up flash, you’ll need to use an off-camera flash cable, or trigger it from a second flashgun instead). To ensure we don’t capture any garish shadows we will diffuse the light by firing the flash through a reflector to soften and spread the beam. Once we’ve taken a series of images of our subject, it’s then down to choosing three that will sit well together before taking them into the digital darkroom to assemble the triptych.

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Step by step Key settings for shooting your subjects When working in such close proximity to your subject, set your camera up on a tripod for full support

01 Camera settings

02 Composition

By focusing on the finer details of a plant you can get a variety of shots from one subject, so take your time to explore and create an assortment of compositions. Experiment with the depth of field and change the focus point too – you’ll be surprised at how different a shot can look.

03 Critical focusing

With Live View enabled, decide on your focus point, zoom in to 5 or 10x magnification and slowly twist the manual focus ring to bring the area you want to appear sharp in focus. To ensure you don’t knock the focus during the exposure, use a remote shutter release to take your shot.

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Switch to Manual mode for full control and set the shutter speed to the maximum flash sync speed, usually 1/200 or 1/250 sec. With macro photography, depth of field is restricted the closer you are to your subject, so start with a midrange aperture of f/5.6-f/8 to see how much is in focus.

Step by step Get set up for flash Place the flashgun to one side of your setup and position your diffuser in between the flash and your subject To fire the external flashgun we’re going to use our built in pop-up flash as a transmitter, with the camera acting as a ‘master’ and our external flashgun as a ‘slave’. Set your flashgun to the Slave wireless setting and check that it’s set to the same channel as the camera. If your camera and flashgun are compatible, you’ll be able to control the flash power output on your external flashgun via the camera’s flash control menu; we set ours to 1/32 power. It you don’t have this functionality, set your pop-up flash to its lowest power setting; the remote flashgun will still fire in Slave mode when it detects the pop-up flash firing, but you’ll have to set its power output manually.

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