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Practical advice for enthusiasts and pros



Issue 157



5 STEPS TO LANDSCAPE SUCCESS • Gear essentials • Top settings • Composition tricks & more




Affordable kit Minimal lighting setups Vital lens advice

© Edwin Martinez


“We show you how to get high-end shots on a budget, including affordable kit recommendations” You might think that you need all manner of studio equipment to achieve professional-looking portraits, but that’s simply not the case. This issue we show you how to get high-end shots on a budget, including affordable kit recommendations and minimal lighting setups. Turn to page 28 for some top portrait shooting tricks. You might also want to check out our five steps to landscape success on page 38, which takes you through the kit you need, the key settings, composition tricks for standout vistas and more. There’s also a fantastic guide to stylish still life on page 48 that explores essential advice like the best methods for shooting reflective objects, top ways to arrange your subjects and even how to add textures. You can download 100 free textures to try now from, alongside over 85 minutes of video tuition and 68 Photoshop Actions to help enhance your images. If you’re in the mood to get creative, head to page 56 for a fun shooting project where you can make your model look like they are levitating! Master simple shooting techniques and use layer masks in Photoshop to achieve this incredible effect easily. On top of this, our kit bag section pits two DSLRs head to head to see which comes out on top – the Canon EOS 1200D and Nikon D330 are both fantastic cameras to get started with in photography or great second shooters, but which is best? Turn to page 92 to find out. Also check out our in-depth review of the Canon EOS 7D MKII on page 100 as we look at whether this update to the APS-C favourite is worth the cash. I hope you enjoy the issue. Amy Squibb, Editor in Chief

GET IN TOUCH Ask a question, share your thoughts or showcase your photos…

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INSPIRING LIGHT Learning lighting can be an inspiring experience when you have the right lights...and the right teacher. Da Vinci Lighting & Posing Techniques with One Light by Tony Corbell. ;VÄUKV\[OV^[OPZPTHNL^HZSP[ watch the video online.


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The publisher cannot accept responsibility for any unsolicited material lost or damaged in the post. All text and layout is the copyright of Imagine 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 specifically 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 affiliated in any way with the companies mentioned herein. If you submit material to Imagine Publishing via post, email, social network or any other means, you automatically grant Imagine Publishing an irrevocable, perpetual, royalty-free license to use the images across its entire portfolio, in print, online and digital, and to deliver the images to existing and future clients, including but not limited to international licensees for reproduction in international, licensed editions of Imagine products. Any material you submit is sent at your risk and, although every care is taken, neither Imagine Publishing nor its employees, agents or subcontractors shall be liable for the loss or damage.

© Imagine Publishing Ltd 2015

ISSN 1477-6650

14,511 Jan-Dec 2013





Our Senior Staff Writer Matt previously worked as a professional photographer in Australia. In this issue he works with the Nikon School to learn how to get creative with speedlights on p78. He also looks at how to capture professional-looking portraits on a budget over on p28.


Staff Writer Lauren is an underwater photography and landscape expert with a degree in Marine and Natural History Photography. Turn to p48 now to learn how to shoot stylish still-life shots, including how to light your image. She also answers your questions on the best ways to capture action on p70.


Pro photographer Mark is the co-author of The Landscape Photography Workshop and runs regular one-onone courses for aspiring landscape photographers. This issue he takes a look at Canon’s long-awaited release, the 7D MKII. Find out whether it’s worth your time on p100.





Freelance photographer and journalist Tom Calton talks us through simulating a levitation effect in your images for a fun and creative take on portraiture. Take a look at this shooting project on p56, try it out for yourself and then send us your results on our Facebook page!


With a love of photography forged in his childhood, landscape photographer Paul Gallagher discusses the best locations for shooting dramatic vistas as well as the core skills and essential kit required to achieve eye-catching images on p22.


Over on p80, professional portrait photographer and retoucher Ryan Bater talks to us about the importance of passion when shooting a commission. He also provides a wealth of advice for those that are hoping to make it in the competitive field of portraiture and fashion imagery.


YOUR FREE ASSETS Turn to p112 to get hold of your bonus content


In Focus 16 Story Behind The Still: Take a view Learn to work with the weather for dramatic captures

Issue 157

Your Images

Our favourite reader imagery from this issue


20 News The latest releases, including new action cameras from Braun

Shooting Skills 56 Shoot a levitation portrait Make people images with impact

62 Bracket exposures Work with bracketed exposures for an HDR effect

Image Editing 66 Sync settings in Lightroom Add consistent post-processing effects with Lightroom

68 Reduce camera shake Make the most of Photoshop CC’s tools to remove unwanted blur

Go Pro 70 Shoot life’s fast events Our expert advises you on capturing life in the fast lane

72 Become a photography workshop leader © Hannah Todd

Seasoned pros share their tips on running your own workshop

76 Post-processing How much editing is too much?


Improve your shooting and editing skills

28 Low-cost pro portraits

38 Five steps to landscape success

Capture creative and professional-looking portraits without spending a fortune

Take your landscapes to the next level as the pros unveil their secrets for breathtaking shots


Discover the techniques and tips that you need for photographing stunning products and arranged scenes

Discover the latest cameras, lenses and much more

92 D3300 vs 1200D

100 Canon EOS 7D Mark II

Entry-level DSLRs on test

Is this upgrade Biggest isn’t worth your time? always best


48 Stylish still life

104 Panasonic Lumix GM5

106 Lenses

108 Software

110 Accessories

Reviews of new kit from our lens expert

Our views on the latest editing tools available

Some fun yet functional kitbag extras

78 The Nikon School: Get creative with speedlights Make the most of your flash

Portfolio 18 Spotlight on: Lord Snowdon Discover more about the iconic society photographer

22 Paul Gallagher’s love for landscapes Landscape professional reflects on his impressive career

80 Ryan Bater on making it in fashion Up-and-coming photographer on the importance of personality

Low-cost pro portraits

© Adrian Dewey


Stylish still life


© Edwin Martinez

© Phil Sills

Five steps to landscape success

48 Ryan Bater on making it in fashion



Shoot a levitation portrait

100 Canon EOS 7D Mark II on test

© Ryan Bater

Subscribe and save


Turn to page 64, or go online and buy direct from 7


Picture perfect Hannah Todd showcases her stunning dance imagery and portraits Lean to the light I asked the dancer to lean back into the light mounted above her, and my friend to fan the dress upwards. I increased the contrast through a mono colour cast layer All Images Š Hannah Todd




Hannah Todd Gallery name: hannahtoddphotography Website address: www.hannahtodd Day job: Gas turbine bid manager Photographic speciality: Dance and portraits Long-term photo ambition: I’d love to get paid to take pictures of things I enjoy. Have you been interested in dance photography for long? A couple of years ago I was introduced to a photography project in New York called ‘The Urban Ballet Project’ and I’ve been hooked ever since. What’s in your kit bag? A Canon EOS 6D, a 50mm f1.8 and a 24105mm f4. I always take a reflector out on location as I love shooting natural light. What’s the most important part of a dance shoot? Timing! It’s something that takes practice, not just for the photographer, but the dancer. I find that by using natural light and shooting continuously at quite a high rate, each move can help me get my eye in at the beginning of a shoot. What editing tricks do you use? Most of my editing is just levels, contrast and some cleaning up of skin. I like to get as much right as possible in the camera. I like to… use the Dodge and Burn tools to show off definition and contours of a dancer’s body. Top

Spotlight I took this shot with a single mounted spot on the beams of the studio and two friends fanning the dress Far-left

Maskitec My friend makes home-made lip balms. We showcased the pastels using a softbox for light and a lilac overlay Left

Poised perfection By using an assistant to fan the dress, the model was free to position her arms as not to block her face Left-bottom

In the shadows This model has a strong look and such a beautiful face, so I used butterfly lighting to give strong shadows Opposite

Champagne luxury This was shot in a luxury restaurant. We tried to create opulence through props and a warm filter in editing

WIN! XARA Photo & Graphic Designer Each issue one reader will win a copy of XARA Photo & Graphic Designer 10 worth £69.99 / $89.99 Head to for more info on this product.





Rohan Reilly Image title: That Tree DP Gallery address: Rohan%20Reilly I slept overnight in the car to shoot this wonderful tree at dawn in Carlow, Ireland. I used the tracks as a lead-in and watched the mist envelop the tree. Left

Ewa Kosecka-Judin Image title: On the ower DP Gallery address: Keva This shot was taken at a nearby meadow on a warm July morning. It presents one of my favourite butteries, the small skipper. Opposite

Bibiana Ruzickova Image title: Mother Nature DP Gallery address: Ruzickova This was taken in my apartment, using natural light only. I created a crown for the model the day before shooting, and Stanislava Hudcovska did the make-up. 12


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How to ente Please email y your name and to team@dpho with the subje 157 Manfrotto 12 February 20 Terms and conditions This competition is open United Kingdom and Ire has the right to substitu item of equal or higher v Imagine Publishing (incl Manfrotto, their relatives eligible to enter. The edit no correspondence will cannot be exchanged fo conditions are available time, Imagine Publishing you related material or special offers. If you do not wish to receive this, please state clearly on your entry.





Learn in style

The TM

Series Discover more with the Book series’ expert, accessible tutorials for iPad, iPhone, Mac, Android, Photoshop, Windows and more


Print edition available at Digital edition available at Available on the following platforms



Story behind



All photos © Nadir Khan

Photographer: Nadir Khan Website: Location: Isle of Skye, Scotland, UK Type of commission: Personal work Shot details: Canon EOS 5D Mark III with 17-40mm at 27mm, f10, 1/80sec and ISO 800

About the shot: Adventure and sports photographers are always on the lookout to capture dynamic elements in their images, and photographer Nadir Khan describes that he was drawn to “the composition of the climbers on this arête, the softness of the background light and clouds and the hard reflected light on the foreground rocks. In Scotland, the light is changing all the time.” He’s captured a soft light in this frame, adding, “Although it’s a mountaineering shot, there’s a stillness to it.” Highly commended in the Living The View category of this year’s Landscape Photographer of the Year competition, the shot looks back along the pinnacles with the climbers in the foreground. Undeterred by weather setbacks, Khan explains how he kept his camera weight low while climbing. “My kit of choice when technical climbing is the Canon 5D Mark III and the 17-40mm lens, great on steep ground for creating lots of lead-in lines. In the mountains I tend to use a high ISO as the 5D Mark III handles this really well with very little noise.” For others wanting to capture dramatic shots like this one, Khan advises photographers to work with the elements. “We were racing the weather, with a front coming in by midday… but the climbing and conditions on Pinnacle Ridge were sensational. Be out in all weather, as the best light is just before or just after a storm. Blue skies are a no-no.”


Take a view All winning and shortlisted images from this year’s award can be found in Landscape Photographer Of The Year: Collection 8 for £25 Left

Early start on Pinnacle Ridge Khan recommends using the weather to your advantage by staying out in all conditions 17


Lord Snowdon With his work on display at the National Portrait Gallery, we take a look at Snowdon’s career Having the right connections is rarely a bad thing in life and Antony Charles Robert Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon, has certainly had them in spades. In 1960 he married Princess Margaret, the Queen’s sister, at Westminster Abbey. The man who was to become the Establishment’s photographer of choice had himself been born, in 1930, into a family of prominent individuals. Punch cartoonist Linley Sambourne was one of his maternal great-grandfathers. Having always had an interest in the field, Armstrong-Jones took up photography after university, working with theatre, fashion, and society subjects. Then, in the early Fifties, he began what would be a six-decade long career with British Vogue and, from the early Sixties, started working with The Sunday Times Magazine, creating groundbreaking photo essays for almost 30 years. It’s important to understand that Snowdon’s portfolio is deserving of recognition even without his name and associations. His portraits display a consistent love of


Rembrandt lighting and, from Gary Lineker to Terence Stamp – and, of course, Prince Charles and Princess Margaret too – there’s a strong sense of style and artistry to his body of work. While the black-and-white head-and-shoulders portrait and a certain classicism might seem to be his stock-in-trade, portraits of Gilbert and George and Sunday Times editor Sir Harold Evans reveal a distinct creative flair. Now, to coincide with a new monograph published by Rizzoli and in recognition of a gift of 130 Snowdon photographs acquired in 2013, the National Portrait Gallery in London is staging an exhibition of portraits by Snowdon. Curated by Helen Trompeteler in consultation with Snowdon’s daughter, Lady Frances von Hofmannsthal, the ‘Snowdon: A Life in View’ display features portraits of John Hurt, Dame Maggie Smith, Julie Christie, Graham Greene, Dame Agatha Christie and the Royal Family. The Gallery’s director, Sandy Nairne says, “These are wonderful portrait images of some of the most creative and engaging contributors to Britain in the second half of the 20th Century.”


Gilbert and George Gilbert and George by Snowdon, 1985 © Armstrong Jones


David Bowie David Bowie by Snowdon, 1978, Snowdon/ Vogue © The Condé Nast Publications Ltd

Snowdon: A Life in View You can view Lord Snowdon’s work at the National Portrait Gallery in London. When: 26 September 2014 –21 June 2015 Where: Room 37 and 37a, Ground Floor Lerner Contemporary Galleries, National Portrait Gallery Opening hours: 10:00-21:00 Thursday and Friday, 10:00-18:00 all other days Admission: Free More information:



Extra stability A refined grip shape and height should keep the camera steady even when using a large telephoto lens

In other news… More snippets of photo news from around the world


Angle the screen The a7 II features an LCD screen that can be angled for more creative shots

Smart sharing Robots For Your Photos ( is a new service aimed at photographers. It will automate the photo-sharing process across multiple social media platforms, and publish photos at the optimal time for the most views.

Sony unveils the improved a7 II The world’s first full-frame camera with optical 5-axis image stabilisation Sony caused a major stir in the photographic industry when it introduced the Alpha 7 in 2013, as the first Compact System Camera to have a full-frame sensor. The manufacturer has created new waves of excitement by introducing an update to the a7 in the guise of the a7 II. Some may feel that the changes are rather small, and in some respects the a7 II’s specifications are unchanged from its predecessor. The new model is, however, billed as “the world’s first full-frame camera with optical 5-axis image stabilisation,” according to the official release. Sony says it allows shutter speeds up to 4.5 stops faster, thanks to an added stabilisation mechanism to the sensor itself, which is designed to compensate for angular, shift and rotational shake. What’s more, a mirrorless design means that you’ll see the live sensor image both on the back of the camera and in the viewfinder, showing the effects of the stabilisation as you compose your images. Inside the camera, there’s the same 24-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor as the original a7, an ISO range of 50-25600 and a continuous shooting rate of 5fps.

Action users will appreciate the fast Hybrid autofocus system, which should smoothly track fast-moving subjects nearly anywhere on the screen, thanks to a wide-area 117-point AF sensor. Sony also remembers keen videographers, offering Full HD recording at 50Mbps, though there’s no sign yet of 4K. On the outside, the a7 II looks like its earlier counterpart, made from a robust yet lightweight magnesium alloy body, though at 550g it’s slightly heavier than before. The three-inch LCD screen tilts upward and downward to accommodate wide-ranging shooting angles, while changes to the camera’s ergonomics, button layout and dials aim to make shooting more streamlined. This model, like its predecessor, continues to offer premium image quality in a small package, and Sony has successfully managed to cram in an impressive image stabilisation system that’s perfect for adapted lenses. The well-connected a7 II looks to be emerging as one of the most usable mirrorless cameras on the market, and it’s on sale now, priced at £1,499 / $1,700 (body only).

Manfrotto gets colourful Manfrotto (www.manfrotto. com) has released a new range of colourful tripods. The four products include a compact traveller that handles heavy zoom lenses, and a mini model for CSCs.

Tell your story MAGIX ( has released Photostory 2015 Deluxe, for creating photo stories and slideshows. It comes with 300 effects, animations and decorative elements. Users can export to the web, DVD and mobiles.

KEEP INFORMED: For more news, updates and inside information from the ever-changing world of digital photography, be sure to pay a visit to




New Braun ActionCams released

Dual mounts The Jumper 720p ActionCam HD comes with handlebar and helmet mounts, to facilitate shooting while on the move Left

Flexible option Though the settings aren’t as manual as GoPro models, the included accessories make this model a flexible package

Could new models become a budget option for shooting action? The photography market isn’t shy of dedicated action cameras, but imaging company Braun has announced the availability of two new models. The Braun Champion Full HD ActionCam is the higher spec of the two. Priced at £110 (approx $172) it shoots 1080p video recording using a 120-degree f2.9 lens, as well as a five-megapixel CMOS imager. It also boasts integrated Wi-Fi functionality and the waterproof housing can be used up to 45m depths. The second offering is the Jumper 720p ActionCam HD (£50, approx. $78). It captures five-megapixel stills too, but is only waterproof to three metres. While this may put off some, the ultra-wide lens, built-in microphone and price could make it a popular budget choice. Consumers have so many models to choose from, and these new releases are aimed at

“those looking for competitively priced, well featured ActionCams,” according to Paul Kench, Kenro’s managing director. At their relatively low cost, the new models are likely to appeal to consumers who want a tough action camera without the higher price tag and extra features offered by models like GoPro. Both the Braun Champion and Jumper are available now.

The 51st Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition opens After 50 years of stunning images, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year (WPY) is still at the forefront of contemporary nature photography, awarding artistic composition, narrative form and technical ability. The prestigious competition is now open for entries, to young, amateur and professional photographers worldwide. An international jury of experts will be critiquing the many tens of thousands of submissions to find the winners, and the chosen shortlist will enjoy public exposure of their image as it tours across the world in the annual exhibition. Award-winning images are also published in a hardcover book, and the overall adult and young winners will receive a substantial cash prize. There are 21 categories that look to explore the diversity of the world’s flora and fauna. Recognising the growing number of videographers, a new TIMElapse category asks entrants to submit up to three sequences that tell a story from the natural world. The closing date is 26 February 2015. For tips on entering, visit

© Etienne Francey / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014

Call for wildlife entries



Super stoat This stoat capture by Etienne Francey was a previous runner-up in the 15-17 years category

Nature showcase Now in its 51st year, the competition looks to showcase the very best of nature photography

the website,, and if you’ve got a story, you can email the magazine team at





In love with landscapes All images Š Paul Gallagher

Paul Gallagher reveals how his childhood love of the outdoors prompted him to forge a career as a landscape photographer Above

Black beaches of Iceland Iceland is an atmospheric location for landscape photography and one of Gallagher’s top destinations for leading workshops



t’s by no means uncommon for photographers to be influenced by their childhood experiences, and this was certainly the case for professional landscape photographer Paul Gallagher ( In this interview, he recalls how scenic expeditions with his father created a love of landscapes that perpetuates to this day. He also shares his advice for aspiring landscape photographers and considers his compositional techniques.


How and when did you first become interested in photography? I was a student in Southport College of Art and embarked on a Graphic Design course at the age of 16. Part of the course was photography because, as designers, we would inevitably use images. When I first went out with the camera and later began printing in the darkroom, I quickly changed my course to photography. I have never looked back since! Why did you choose landscapes specifically? My decision was as a direct love for the mountains and the outdoors. My father took me on big climbs in the mountains and long walks in the Lakes when I was a young boy and I developed a deep-rooted love for the Wolds.


When I began photography at the age of 16 the two simply came together. Do you remember the first job that you had in photography? When I had finished my initial studies as a photography student in Southport I was very lucky to get a job in a studio in Liverpool where we did architectural and commercial work. I was like a kid in a sweet shop, surrounded by Nikons, Hasselblads and large-format cameras. It was here that I first got my hands on a large-format [camera] at the tender age of 18 and began using them. It was not long before I was out there using large-format in the field, trying to emulate the quality of the work of the master I looked up to, Ansel Adams. What do you believe are the core skills and values that a landscape photographer needs to have? A landscape photographer is a person that does not simply record the scene, but is one that uses a camera to capture moments that sum up what that place meant to [them] when [they] were there with [their] camera. I don’t really care about kit too much; it is just a tool that helps me do what I do. It’s my eyes and my mind that makes the pictures.

What are your favourite locations for landscape photography and why? The locations I will always return to as long as I can carry a camera are Wester Ross and Lofoten [in Norway]. The variety in Wester Ross is astounding, from lochs, waterfalls and mountains to the most amazing coastlines on the UK mainland. Lofoten is an awe-inspiring location inside the Arctic Circle with huge mountain spires that rise out of the Norwegian Sea, and when the snowfall has been heavy, the landscape is totally transformed in a matter of hours. What advice would you give to someone who wants to get into the kind of photography that you do? Practise and never give up. I set out as a young photographer knowing exactly what standard I needed to achieve and I never let myself off the hook. I was shooting with large-format cameras using black-and-white film when [monochrome] was certainly not in vogue, but it was how I expressed myself as a photographer. I never set out to simply be the best in a camera club; I constantly looked at the works of the masters and would not settle for second best. I am still striving to this day

and I have worked side by side with some of the best landscape photographers out there. You are a long-time 5x4-field camera user. What did you love about that system and how did you negotiate the switch to digital? Large-format is an amazing tool for landscape photography and one I was fortunate to use from a very young age. It makes you slow down, as each setup and breakdown can take ten minutes and you learn to use your eye to make compositions before you commit to getting the camera out of the bag. My transition to digital was easy. A lighter bag, quick setup – and I could choose between colour or black and white on any photograph. Even now, I still only make very few images a day, but they are always the ones that count. What are the most common mistakes amateur landscape photographers make? Amateur photographers often include too much sky that offers nothing to the composition that goes hand in hand with a 3:2-ratio sensor. The other common mistake is the difficulty of setting up the tripod often dictates where you set your camera up, which is commonly a very different position from where you saw the picture in the first place.

What lenses do you use most often and what do you love about them? I always use tilt-shift lenses because I can place my plane of focus exactly where I want it, enabling me to achieve front-to-back perfect sharpness.


Clear and clean Gallagher enjoys keeping the elements of his images simple, creating visually bold photos with a strong sense of atmosphere Above

What compositional and framing techniques do you like to use in the field? I always look at the four corners of the frame and try to imagine the image as framed and hanging on a wall. When I used large-format, the image was upside down and back to front and – although this sounds crazy – it really helped to balance a composition up. The tiltshift lenses mean [that] I never have to worry about depth of field, as all of the image will be sharp from front to back.

Passing storm This image, with its highly dramatic light, was captured after a storm had gone over in Flakstad, Lofoten

What location would you most like to visit that you’ve yet to photograph and why? I have always wanted to photograph Yosemite,

“I don’t really care about kit too much; it is just a tool that helps me do what I do. It’s my eyes and my mind that makes the pictures” 25


as it was the Ansel Adams photographs of here that [originally] inspired me to become a landscape photographer in the first place. I [actually] go in seven weeks’ time. You work closely with Epson. What do you think is important about printing and what would you say to photographers who don’t print their work? Making prints is the natural conclusion to being a photographer. I want to hold a photograph I have made as the finished piece. I work closely with Epson because their printers were the only thing that could print as well as me in a darkroom. Quite simply, they make the best printers I have ever used and as I said, I don’t stand for second best. I am that passionate about printing that my photography-workshop company, aspect2i (, took over the Epson Print Academy in 2010. Your work is a mix of black and white, and colour. What do you think each brings to your work? Black and white or colour – each [format] offers me a means of photographic expression, and I love both. It may be the subtle colours of a Scottish highland under dark skies in the winter, or the graphic structures I see that will


present themselves beautifully in a series of tones of grey. You run photography workshops. What is it that you enjoy about teaching? I have always loved passing on my 30 years of landscape-photography knowledge and that is why I set up aspect2i. I find it very exciting to see people finish a workshop with me that are more confident about using their cameras and making far better photographs. I do not run workshops in the conventional way of taking out 12 people and simply showing them good locations and letting them get on with it. I only take six people out with me and I work with them on a one-to-one basis through every step of the landscape-photography process through to the finished image. I keep no secrets, DP either. What I know they can learn.


Mountain and fjord study This image is another example of the classic, uncluttered approach Gallagher often adopts in his work Right

Crack in ice This image depicts a crack in the ice of a frozen fjord. Gallagher describes Lofoten as an “awe-inspiring location”

Paul Gallagher’s top tips The pro’s ten nuggets of wisdom for photographers Get out more. Read books and look at others’ work. Take fewer images. I was limited to ten per day with large-format for over 20 years and made them count. Use a tripod for every image. Use filters and get it right in camera. Be patient and wait for the light. Landscape photography can happen at all times of the day, so don’t limit yourself to just dawn and sunset as so many [other photographers] do. Get out in bad weather – it’s when I have got some of my most rewarding results, and the best place to be is just before or just after the storm. Learn how to post-process properly. Don’t get used to recovering images, but enjoy refining the ones captured well in the field. Make a print. Images on screens are not photographs.





Low-cost pro portraits Learn how to capture creative and professional images without spending a fortune and using a minimal amount of kit ne of photography’s potential problems is that it can often appear to be rather prohibitive in terms of affordability. Many people hesitate about whether or not to pursue photography, simply because there seems to be an everincreasing amount of kit that needs to be purchased in order to do so – much of which is certainly not cheap. Despite being among the most popular genres of photography, portraiture is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to perceived cost. It’s all too common for aspiring photographers to see portraits online that have been captured using multiple lights – with each individual unit costing several thousand pounds – and feel that they simply cannot access that sort of photography. Photographers are creative animals, but they’re also passionate about the engineering that’s gone into the kit that they use. You’ll frequently find photographers espousing the virtues of a light, lens or accessory that they love using, giving the impression that the sort of images that they produce are only possible if you happen to have the same expensive equipment as they do. That’s a shame, because there’s plenty that’s possible even with only basic kit and minimal lighting. In this feature, you’ll discover how you can utilise everything from a basic zoom lens through to an ordinary flashgun in order to capture beautiful portrait images.



Powerful portraits

© Adrian Dewey

Many people assume that expensive equipment – and lots of it – is necessary for capturing creative portraits, but this isn’t the case at all




Get affordable glass

Before zooms were prevalent, the 85mm lens was considered ideal due to the way it renders facial features with very little distortion and because it provides a comfortable working distance for head-and-shoulders shots.

The standard zoom is arguably the most zoom lens to incorporate lead-in lines into your maligned lens in all photography. Though most portrait images or to create a slight sense of zoom lenses do represent a marginal degree distortion that gives the image creative impact. of compromise, optically, over prime lenses, The classic portrait lens is the 85mm, yet the advantages that they offer in terms of while there are very fast – and very expensive compositional flexibility are considerable. – f1.2 aperture versions available, Tilo Gockel, Since certain prime lenses – often with a author of Creative Flash Photography focal length of 85mm – are commonly referred (, says that the expensive to as portrait lenses, it’s easy to think that version is not vital. “One of my favourite portraits have to be taken using this focal lenses is an 85mm f1.8 prime, which is quite length to be successful. Though it’s true affordable, but delivers an incredibly smooth that these focal lengths produce a flattering bokeh. I even like it better than the f1.2, perspective for head-and-shoulders portraits, because it focuses faster and is much lighter.” there’s plenty of potential offered by the wider end of a standard zoom for creative portraits. When you consider that most cameras are sold Right Standard lens with a standard zoom, you automatically have As used for this shot, a standard lens can access to a huge degree of creative potential. provide a good compromise between the To make the most of wider-angle portraits, benefits of a wide-angle and telephoto lens experiment with compositions captured from Below extreme angles. You might try shooting from Wide-angle lens floor height, looking up at the subject, posing These can be used for portraits very effectively, them in such a way as to create a sense of enabling more dynamic compositions to be depth. You can also try using the wider end of a created such as this one by Adrian Dewey

Use window light Natural light can be used to shoot elegant portraits


© Adrian Dewey

If you have no lighting accessories available, window light provides you with a means of capturing elegantly lit portraits with a minimum of fuss. The light through a window can still be modified – net curtains, for example, can diffuse the light, while patterns can be created with blinds. A reflector can be used on the subject’s shadow side to even up the exposure, if desired.

© Adrian Dewey

You don’t necessarily need to invest in expensive lenses to take professional portraits


Budget lens options


1. SIGMA 17-70MM F2.8-4 DC MACRO OS HSM This lens costs around £350 and is designed for cameras with an APS-C/DX sensor. This model is a new version of an old favourite and provides the equivalent of around 26-105mm, though this extends to 27-112mm on the Canon APS-C sensors with their 1.6x (rather than 1.5x) conversion factors. Its close focusing capability is ideal for minimising depth of field in your portraits.


2. AF-S NIKKOR 24-120MM F4 G ED If you want a zoom lens with a constant maximum aperture, you will have to be prepared to spend a little bit more money (around £650, to be precise) for this model from Nikon. However, if you want a lens that covers a wide focal range with a relatively fast aperture of f4 throughout, you might consider a lens such as this to be a worthwhile investment.


3. SAMYANG 85MM F/1.4 AS IF UMC Available in Canon EF, Nikon F, Pentax, Sony A, Samsung NX and Four Thirds mounts for around £300, this manual lens is ideal for careful, considered portraits and is much cheaper than the asking price of the manufacturer’s proprietary versions, which are closer to £1,000.

4. CANON EF 85MM F/1.8 USM Canon users will be interested in this perfect portrait lens, which retails for around £290. The f1.8 aperture enables shallow depth of field to be achieved and it offers the classic 85mm portrait focal length.


5. NIKON AF-S 50MM F1.4 G This lens retails for around £280 and offers the benefits of a very fast maximum aperture of f1.4, ideal for portraits with shallow depth of field or low-light situations. Its f1.8 sibling is even cheaper though, at around £150, and the differences are slight.

6. SIGMA 50MM F1.4 EX DG HSM This alternative from Sigma is very highly respected and retails for around £300-£350. Like the Nikon, it features a maximum aperture of f1.4 and is available for both Canon and Nikon cameras.

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Use aperture for pro effects Portraits often rely on shallow depth of field to succeed, so learn to use it effectively One of the most powerful means of creating successful portrait images without recourse to expensive lenses, lighting or accessories is to take control of the depth of field in your images by working with aperture and focusing distance. Limiting the presence of distracting background elements will make your portraits look far more professional, enabling you to create an image in which all the attention is on the subject. This isn’t a recipe for every portrait, though – there will be situations in which a shallow depth of field isn’t desirable and you’ll want at least some of the background in focus. The kit lens you get when you buy a camera almost certainly won’t boast a particularly wide maximum aperture, with perhaps f4 or f4.5 at the widest end of the zoom and f5.6 at the telephoto end. However, help is at hand without

Create blur without a wide-aperture lens Tricks for getting great backgrounds with your kit lens


© Adrian Dewey

If you don’t have a lens with a particularly wide aperture to hand, you can re-create a similar shallow depth of field by going to the telephoto end and focusing tight on your subject at the widest aperture that’s offered to you, which will probably be f5.6. Depth of field is limited at longer focal lengths and closer focusing distances, so you will be able to reproduce the appearance of a much wider aperture.


Effects on a budget Work with the light for different looks 50MM LENS AT F1.8 Used wide open, a 50mm f1.8 lens produces very limited depth of field and is also ideal for dull lighting, in which a wide aperture enables you to use faster shutter speeds.

REFLECTOR ADDED Adding a white, silver or gold reflector is a simple way to lift shadows and produce a more balanced exposure. Resulting images are well lit without looking fake.

50MM LENS AT F1.4 Though considerably more expensive than an f1.8, a 50mm f1.4 lens produces only a marginal difference in terms of depth of field, so if you’re budgeting, an f1.8 would be better suited.

CROP SENSORS When used on an APS-C, DX-size sensor, a 50mm lens acts as a 75mm lens – ideal for portraits. An f1.8 aperture is camera with an APS-C particularly useful on smaller sensor, in which depth of sensors, as their reduced size field is higher at shallower means that shallow depth of field is harder to apertures because of the crop achieve. factor – just as the effective

having to break the bank. Although 85mm is generally considered the ideal portrait focal length, a 50mm lens will do a job that’s comfortably comparable and, best of all, f1.8 and f1.4 50mm prime lenses are available for a fraction of the price of their 85mm counterparts. “A 50mm 1.4 or 1.8 is a must, providing a load of light and a great depth of field in images,” explains portrait photographer Adrian Dewey ( The differences between an f1.8 and f1.4 maximum aperture are relatively small, with prices for a 50mm lens with an f1.8 aperture several times less than the cost of the f1.4 equivalent. With this in mind, if you’re working to budget, the 50mm f1.8 lens is a clear frontrunner when it comes to achieving shallow depth of field in your portrait images. Having access to such a wide aperture gives you both the ability to take sharper shots in lower light and to capture shallower depth of field in your images. This is particularly relevant if you are using a

focal length is affected by the smaller size of the sensor. However, you must always ensure that the subject’s eyes are in focus, as Osman Levent Eryilmaz ( explains. “Eyes must be in focus – if shallow depth of field is preferred to be used, [the] eye closer to the camera must be in focus. The viewer accepts the image as [being] in focus as long as [the] eye closer to the camera is in focus.” Above

Crop-sensor effect When used on a crop-sensor camera, a 50mm lens effectively becomes 75mm, providing shallow depth of field


Optical quality Owing to the comparative ease of their manufacturer, 50mm prime lenses often boast superb image quality at all apertures

© Adrian Dewey

Low-cost flash accessories Bottletop 5-in-1 50cm Reflector (Diffuser + Gold/White & Sunfire/ Silver) £36 / $39 This product enables you to reflect the light in using gold, white, sunfire or silver surfaces, and there is also a diffuser panel included. 4 Section Heavy Duty Air Cushioned Stand £50 (approx. $78) This portable stand will enable you to use your speedlight off-camera and produce creative, professionallooking flash effects. Ezybox II Square Medium 60 x 60cm £91 / $115 Quick and easy to assemble and disassemble, this softbox is highly collapsible and very portable. You can also get grids to fit across the front diffuser panel.



Make the most of one flash

Budget speedlights

Learn how to maximise the potential of your regular speedlight and take your portraits to the next level

Powerful third-party options can be found for less than £300

Now that there are so many ways of triggering speedlights off-camera, their use has become far more popular among the photographic community. This is great news, because speedlights are an ideal creative tool for photographers interested in capturing creative, professional-looking images on a budget. Just one speed light is capable of some incredible lighting wonders – and expensive lighting modifiers and off-camera triggers aren’t automatically required either. For instance, to deal with the potentially harsh light that a speedlight can create when used on-camera, you can experiment with bouncing the light from the flash for a softer impact. Even the most basic speedlights on the market, which can be purchased new for as little as around £100/$157, feature the ability to tilt the flash head, enabling the light to be bounced off a nearby ceiling or wall. However, there are a few things that you need to be aware of when shooting portraits using a bounced flash. First of all, the light that’s returned to your subject will, naturally,

take on the colour of the surface that it has been bounced from – so a white surface is best for neutral results. Second, if the flash has been bounced off the ceiling, the light is coming down onto the subject from directly above, which may mean that insufficient light is reaching them. For this reason, you might want to try tilting the flash unit’s head up at a 45-degree (rather than a 90-degree) angle, so that some of the light is feathered onto the subject’s face more directly. You can also use the bounce card that’s built into most flash units to direct the light. Of course, taking your regular speedlight off-camera and triggering it wirelessly is one of the simplest and most effective ways to take more sophisticated-looking images. Portable softboxes and gels are affordable accessories that can be used to modify the light from your speedlight and give it a pro-level feel. “You do not need expensive lighting, studios or kit,” says Adrian Dewey. “I’ll shoot both just using the natural light and also using speedlights to balance the sky with the model. Shooting relatively close to the model at anything from f16-22 and hitting the subject with the flash of a speedlight can create some very dramatic effects with shiny skin and dark-blue skies, giving the impression of a much more professional lighting setup.” Opposite-top

Creative colours Using a gel on your flash and a custom white balance can produce pro-style images with minimal kit


Set the scene FINAL SHOT

Make the most of outdoor shoots by combining outdoor lighting and coloured gels for a creative impact

Metz 52 AF-1 Digital Flashgun £230 / $300 This speedlight is available for Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Pentax and Sony cameras. This model features 24-105mm automatic zoom functionality and a touchscreen, with a guide number of 52 with ISO 100/21 – more powerful than the Nikon SB910, which you can expect to pay more for. Phottix Mitros TTL Flashgun £250 / $499 Even more powerful still, this speedlight – which can be found for around £250 – is available for both Canon and Nikon cameras. It has a 24-105mm motorised zoom capability, TTL functionality, plus bounce and swivel features. Nissin Di866 £268 / $350 Available in both Canon and Nikon fits, this speedlight is adjustable from full power to 1/128 power. At full power, this is the strongest of the three speedlights featured here and represents an excellent option, with an attractive, easy-to-use colour display.

Combine flash with sunlight Create a pro effect using the Sun and your speedlight off-camera

Control ambient light Set the shutter to the flash sync speed for your camera (around 1/200sec or 1/250sec). Set a narrow aperture to produce a darkened ambient result.

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Incorporate sunlight Position the subject so the Sun serves as a kick light. Unless you want to create a flare effect, be careful with your composition to avoid direct sunlight.


Use a softbox A portable box will soften the light from your flash. A speedlight will need to use its full capacity outdoors in the Sun and may take a few seconds to recharge.



Create a colour cast Combine a CTO gel and a cool white balance to produce a dramatic in-camera effect Some photographers like to add a second speedlight to their images, fitted with a CTB (colour temperature blue) gel to make the shooting environment – but not the subject themselves – turn a cool shade of blue. However, you can produce a very similar effect by using just one speedlight, fitted with a full CTO (colour temperature orange) gel and setting your camera’s white balance setting to 2500K. Here’s a guide to how it works.


Fit your speedlight with a full CTO gel. You might want to add a ½ CTO gel too. Gels like these are very cheap and can be bought from many online retailers.


Use a manual white balance to create a cold, blue colour cast. In this example, 2500K has been used. The CTO gel(s) will correct the colour on the model.

3 USE HARD LIGHT © Tilo Gockel

Without a softbox attached, the light from the flash is harder and makes better use of the split-tone effect produced by the CTO gel and the white balance.






Work with one studio light Produce three different lighting effects using just one studio flash, a softbox and a reflector Many people assume that you can’t take great photos in the studio without using multiple lights and that you will be very limited as to the range of shots that you can create unless you have at least two or three flash units to hand. While it’s true that having access to more lights and an array of modifiers will ultimately enable you to capture more complex images, knowing how to control numerous lights effectively is more complicated than it might first sound. It’s surprising how much you can achieve just by working with one studio flash unit and one softbox. With a white paper background – or even simply a white wall, a reflector and a little bit of space – you can achieve a low-key, mid-key and high-key effect with just one light. The inverse-square law’s effect on light means that the light emitted by a flash unit spreads, diffuses and becomes less intense across a distance. Photographers can take


advantage of this, enabling a range of effects to be produced simply by repositioning the subject and the light in relation to the environment that you’re working in. As already discussed, the most versatile accessories to have to hand are a softbox and reflector, affording you a high degree of control for the amount of equipment that you are using, even if you are working with only one light. In the high-key image shown above, a flash with a softbox has been directed onto the background behind the model. A silver reflector has been positioned in front of the subject in order to redirect the light that’s bouncing back off the wall back onto the model and create catchlights in the eyes. To create the mid-key effect with what looks like a charcoal background, the location of the light with the softbox has been changed to a more typical position for a key light, at about 45 degrees to the model. Both the light and the

subject have been moved slightly further from the background also. Finally, for the low-key effect, the subject and light have both been moved further still from the background by around half a metre. The light, still fitted with the same softbox, has been angled at 60 degrees to the subject, so even less light is able to fall on the background. This result is an in-camera effect in which DP the background is virtually black. Above

One light, three looks These three very different images have been created by carefully repositioning just one light fitted with a softbox


Elegant simplicity Sometimes using minimal equipment can enable you to capture even more powerful portraits, the strength of which lies in their simplicity

Budget portrait tips

© Dani Diamond

Use a reflector These simple accessories provide an excellent means of improving your portraits without investing in extra lights. Buy a 50mm lens Offering either a f1.8 or f1.4 maximum aperture, these lenses enable you to create very shallow depth-of-field effects in-camera. Try off-camera flash Even if you only own one speedlight, simply using if off-camera, rather than on the camera, will make a big difference to your images. Use soft light Make the available light do some of the work. Soft, diffuse light will be more flattering than harsh sunlight. Buy second-hand Get more for your money by buying used lenses, speedlights and accessories. Models that have been superseded offer excellent value. Co-opt the sun If you only have one speedlight, position your subject so the sun serves as a hair light, kick light or rim light. Go wide You don’t have to shoot your portraits using a short-to-medium telephoto focal length. Explore the full range of your standard zoom lens. Minimise depth of field If you don’t have a wideaperture prime lens, use your standard zoom or kit lens at its longest focal length and focus close to minimise depth of field. Colour temperature gels These enable you to create extra effects with your speedlight, entirely incamera, saving time spent later in Photoshop. Understand light Big light sources, placed near the subject, will produce more flattering and professionallooking light than a small light source, so invest in a speedlight softbox.



5 steps to landscape success Take your landscapes to the next level as the pros unveil their secrets to taking breathtaking shots rofessional landscape photographers spend years honing their craft in the field in pursuit of the perfect shot. Of course, roaming remote locations at the break of dawn – and in all weather conditions – is not for the faint-hearted. To succeed, you need plenty of patience, passion and determination. In this feature, you’ll discover what it really takes to capture a striking landscape image in camera. We’ve broken the process down into five stages for you to follow, which cover everything from planning and preparation, to composing in camera and ultimately capturing the perfect exposure. There’s even some editing advice to help you get the most out of your perfectly composed images. Learn what equipment you’ll need to shoot sharper scenes, the best apps to help you plan ahead and pro tips on how to frame a balanced vista. There’s a look at camera settings to ensure that you get even exposures, as well as advice on capturing creative effects. Read on to discover all you need to know before you embark on your next outdoor shoot.


Idyllic views Develop your skills and master the art of landscape photography in just five steps. You’ll learn how to capture stunning sweeping vistas like this at any location © Miles Morgan






To guarantee pin-sharp shots and minimise any chance of camera shake, consider investing in a remote shutter release. Alternatively, delve into your camera menu and set up your camera’s self-timer.

1 Essential kit

Ensure your camera bag is armed with the vital things for your next shoot

Investing in the right kit is the first step towards taking better landscapes in camera. You don’t necessarily have to break the budget here either, as a few key pieces of good-quality kit will serve you well in most situations. Aside from the essentials – a camera and wide-angle lens – there are a few extra accessories it’s really worth loosening the purse strings for, including a top-of-the-range tripod and a set of neutral density filters. Edwin Martinez (www.edwinmartinezphoto. com), a professional landscape photographer

and recognised Canon Philippines brand ambassador, regularly runs a premier landscape photography course, Chasing Light Workshop. He says, “I have been asked by many of my students about equipment. I think the most important piece of kit would be a sturdy tripod. I am a perfectionist and want my photos to be ready for big prints, [so] sharpness is very important for me. Having a tripod means I can use minimum apertures such as f16 and retain the needed depth of field. Nothing in post can really produce sharp

images when the captured files to start off with are blurred and soft.” As with any important purchase, do your research beforehand. High-quality materials are essential when working outdoors, especially in varied terrains with often-changing weather conditions to contend with. Below

Simple setup You don’t need a camera bag full of the latest kit to get great landscape shots. A simple setup and the right approach will guarantee fantastic results.

Get hold of the right gear

FILTER THE FRAME Polarisers and neutral density filters can help you capture better results in camera, especially if you’re dealing with difficult lighting conditions or want to capture creative effects with movement

Capture successful scenic shots with our kit recommendations Durable tripod £360 / $430 The Manfrotto MT190CXPRO4 Carbon Fibre Tripod is a solid, sturdy but lightweight option, that should last you a long time. Wide-angle lens £1,000 / $1,200 A high-performance wide-angle lens, like the Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM, will enable you to frame much more of the scene in your shot.

PRACTICAL WEAR What you’re wearing can be as important as what is in your camera bag. Ensure you’re adequately prepared for the terrain and outdoor weather conditions by doing your research beforehand

STABLE TRIPOD Use a sturdy tripod with an adjustable ball head to keep your camera steady. It will prevent blurred shots in windy conditions and keep images sharp when using slower shutter speeds


ND filters £200 / $320 The filter holder and starter set of ND (neutral density) and ND grad filters from LEE will set you back a bit but are of high quality.

© Miles Morgan


2 Plan ahead Discover the importance of research and planning ahead prior to setting off outdoors chances of getting something really good.” Never expect to turn up to picturesque Pro Edwin Martinez agrees and adds: “The location and automatically start shooting advent of apps in smartphones and the breathtaking scenes. The reality is, even the availability of information through the pros put in a lot of planning prior to internet has made it easier for shoot in order to maximise the GET landscape photographers now. potential for a great shot. From weather apps, to Google One of the UK and AHEAD Maps and Street View, you Ireland’s leading landscape If you’re planning to shoot can visualise even before you photographers, John the golden hours, turn up have set foot on a location. Miskelly (www.johnmiskelly. earlier than it’s expected to set I urge budding landscape, runs workshops on up and compose your shot. Waiting for the right light is photographers to make this shooting scenic vistas. He better than missing out part of their creative process, points out the importance on the action. it certainly helps when you of doing your research: “I am arrive at the scene as you then known for doing a lot of research only have to worry about composing before going to a location, especially your shots.” one I haven’t been to before. I will check the access to the location with Google Maps, the sunrise and sunset times and angles of Above the Sun. I will also look at tide times if I’m at Wait for the light a coastal location and lastly, but by no means With the right amount of research you’ll know least, I will check the Met Office website for where to set up for your shoot, and more the weather forecast. By planning, I don’t importantly the best time to do so, in order to guarantee an image, but I do increase my make the most of the available light

Useful apps Get ahead of the game with these apps on your smartphone The Photographer’s Ephemeris Price: £5.99 / iOS, Android The Photographer’s Ephemeris is available on iOS and Android. You select a location and it will give you details on the time and direction of sunrise and sunset, as well as the Moon phase. Tides Near Me Price: Free / iOS, Android If you want to shoot coastal scenes, it’s important to know when tides are expected, to help you plan potential compositions and ensure your safety. Tides Near Me will give you accurate readings of current and expected conditions. AccuWeather Price: Free / iOS, Android AccuWeather is on both iOS and Android devices and it provides detailed 15-day forecast information and animated maps, and can even integrate with your calendar app for precise planning ahead.



3 Composition Capture striking images in camera by focusing on framing strong compositions

LEAD-IN LINES Frame natural lead-in lines to give the image a threedimensional feel. It will also help to draw the viewer into the photo

POINT OF VIEW Scout the location before you shoot to ensure you have the best vantage point. Experiment with different angles and perspectives for more original results

© Edwin Martinez

Composition is the foundation of a fantastic image. In landscape photography especially, it can add much-needed structure to a scene, and even set one photographer’s work apart from another’s. Conventional composition rules have been employed by the pros for many years, and with good reason. Martinez states, “The use of dynamic elements in your photos makes the viewer feel that they are there. Diagonal or lead-in lines are one of those important components. Most captivating landscape images contain this particular element.” The rule of thirds and the inclusion of a focal point will also help to strengthen a composition, particularly if you’re shooting a vast vista where a lot of detail rests along the horizon. Using your camera’s Live View capabilities and built-in grid lines can help simplify the framing process too, as John Miskelly points out: “Using the Live View facility in modern digital cameras helps the photographer see what the final output will be like. It is akin to the large-format camera screens that enabled the likes of Ansel Adams to compose wonderful images.” Most importantly, always take your time to compose your scene in camera, as doing so means you won’t have to lose any part of the photograph later during post-production. Miskelly explains,“Composition is an area almost every photographer can improve on. When I work with photographers on their composition, they usually find this improves their images more than any other single aspect of their photography.”

Composing tricks Ensure your composition is just right in camera

Secure the camera Set up your tripod and check the spirit level to ensure it’s straight. Attach your camera bag to centre column for weight. Now attach your camera to the head.

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Select Live View Switch to Live View mode so you can compose on the camera’s screen. Reposition the tripod if necessary or adjust the tripod head for a better angle.


Adjust focus Select single AF mode and then position the focal point. Maximise depth of field by ensuring you’ve calculated the correct hyperfocal distance.




Use the rule of thirds as a guide to help balance the composition. The large rock in the background is balanced by the detail in the foreground

Landscapes are defined by the quality of light, so ensure it’s a part of the composition. Do your research and wait patiently for the golden hours to illuminate the scene

Frame the view © Miles Morgan


Fine-art landscape photographer Miles Morgan shares his secrets to composing stunning shots Bio: Based in the USA, Morgan travels the world as an airline pilot, which led to his passion for landscape photography. Do you follow compositional rules when framing a landscape? For the most part I do try to follow the rules of landscape framing, but the old axiom, ‘rules are made to be broken’, must always be kept in the back of your mind. For me, it’s all about making sure the image is balanced; that the visual weight of the elements doesn’t make your eye get stuck in one side of the image or the other. Do you prefer to use Live View or the viewfinder to compose photos? I usually compose through the LCD. When it’s too dark to get a decent read from the LCD, I will switch to the viewfinder and make sure that I’ve scoured all four corners of it to be sure that what I want is in the frame, and what I don’t want is out of it.

RULE OF THIRDS Use the rule of thirds as a good starting point when composing. Simply visualise a grid on top of the image with two evenly positioned horizontal lines and two vertical lines. The horizon should sit across one of the thirds with any objects of interest positioned at intersecting points.

How important it is to scout a location before you set up and compose your actual shot? The world looks different through a lens. I shoot 99.9 per cent of my landscape images on a sturdy tripod, but when I’m scouting [a location], I have my camera off the tripod, and am all over the place looking at different viewpoints.


Effective results Balancing the compositional rules will result in eye-catching images. Use them a starting point when you’re framing your next shot


Sense of depth

© Miles Morgan

Create a sense of depth by incorporating both near and far subjects within the frame


Focus the frame


Once you’ve increased the depth of field you’ll need to ensure your focal point is positioned correctly. Use the hyperfocal distance technique for accurate results. Apps like Simple DoF Calculator (www.bit. ly/1zUQnmo) can help you determine how far into the frame you need to focus in order to get a sharp shot from front to back. You’ll just need to input your aperture and focal length. © Edwin Martinez


Focusing technique Maximise depth of field by using the hyperfocal distance technique when focusing your landscapes

WHITE BALANCE Provided you’re shooting in RAW, you can correct white balance or add a warm or cool colour cast to your images later in post-production. For instant results in camera however, experiment with the custom white balance function.

4 Control your exposure

Take the perfect exposure using the pros’ recommended camera settings and techniques

Keep ISO low Noise introduced by high ISO settings can be destructive, especially if you’re planning on producing large prints. Keep your ISO setting to a minimum if possible, even in low light, by adjusting your aperture and shutter speed combination first. Pro John Miskelly says, “I will use the lowest native ISO my camera allows. [With] this, I virtually eliminate any noise in the shadows. If I need to raise my ISO to freeze the movement of say, large waves, then I will do so, but rarely any higher than ISO 1250 for my landscape.” Right

Keep noise low


© John Miskelly

Use a low ISO in order to minimise noise and maximise image quality for images with impact

Slow the shutter Slow shutter speeds are essential for even exposures if you’re using small apertures to increase depth of field. They’re also necessary in low light and can help you to capture more creative effects in camera, such as smooth water and moving clouds. Morgan states, “They can simplify a complex scene, especially in waterfall shots or ocean images. When shooting water, I will use varying strengths of ND filters to slow my shutter speed further, but I will typically try to keep some texture in the water. Depending on the speed it’s flowing, that can be between 1/4sec and two seconds.” For moving clouds, Martinez recommends, “Always be aware of cloud movements – it is best to capture them as they are coming either towards or away from you. This path will create streaking diagonal lines in your image.” However, remember to always support your camera on a tripod when using slow shutter speeds and use mirror lock-up as well as a remote shutter release or self-timer to eliminate all possibility of camera shake.




Capture movement Slower shutter speeds enable you to increase depth of field with aperture and smooth moving elements, such as water or clouds, for an atmospheric effect


Shoot sharp Reduce the risk of camera shake by releasing the shutter using the camera’s self-timer or a remote release


Control the aperture If you want the landscape to appear pin-sharp, you must use smaller apertures to increase depth of field and prevent the foreground or background from blurring out. Edwin Martinez says, “Find the aperture sweet spot. You can download a focus chart and do it at home. Start from f8 to f16 and check the results.” Left

Complete clarity Narrow apertures will increase depth of field to create enviable front-to-back sharpness

Expose properly


Dynamic range Neutral density filters enable you to capture a wider EV range within a single frame

© Edwin Martinez

© Edwin Martinez

It’s not always easy to capture a balanced exposure in camera. Pros work around this in one of two ways, using ND grad filters or with an exposure-blending technique in post-production. ND grads are good to have on hand as they enable you to darken the sky so highlights don’t blow out as you expose for the foreground.




LAYER MASKS Use layer masks in Photoshop to edit select areas of your landscape. Apply a layer mask to an adjustment layer and use the Brush tool to remove parts you don’t want to be affected by the adjustment.

5 Enhance your captures Boost colour tones and contrast to bring out the best qualities of light in your landscapes With the right preparation you’re sure to capture breathtaking scenes in camera. That means post-production should only involve a few enhancement tweaks, unless you’re blending multiple exposures, in which case a little more editing expertise may be required. Simple yet effective adjustments to colour tones and contrast take only a matter of minutes, and provided you’ve shot in RAW, they won’t have a damaging effect on the image quality or size. Experiment with editing programs such as Photoshop, which are equipped with all the tools to make both basic and advanced improvements. There are no hard or fast rules when it comes to editing, either; it’s simply a matter of taste. As Morgan points out, “I spend literally hours in the digital

darkroom working on each image. For many photographers, this is a hated process, but I love it. It allows me to be creative with my images and I frequently try to create whimsical, painterly type of images through postprocessing. Purists hate it, but I don’t shoot DP for the purists. I shoot for me.”



Vibrant views A few quick and simple tweaks in Photoshop have transformed the image to make it really stand out. A quick sharpen has also made it ready for print


Flat results The lack of interesting colour tone or detail in the sky makes this image fall a little flat. A boost in contrast and colour will enhance it in minutes

Editing adjustments A simple guide to enhancing your landscapes in minutes using Photoshop

Enhance contrast Select the Curves tool. Add two anchor points at either end of the diagonal line. Pull the top point to the left and the bottom to the right to create an S shape.

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Boost colour tones Select the Hue/ Saturation tool. Work your way through the colour hues in the Masters menu and increase the saturation and lightness slider for each.


Sharpen up Flatten the working layers and duplicate the background. Change this to Overlay blend mode and go to Filter> Other>High Pass. Increase the Pixel slider.



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Create a scene Andy Grimshaw’s shot of whisky illustrates how important styling is to the still-life genre. He’s complemented the product with low-key lighting, and included the barrels as a subtle backdrop © Andy Grimshaw


Stylish still life The pro techniques and tips you need for shooting stunning products and arranged scenes s far as photographic practices go, there aren’t many that date back further than still life. Despite being one of the oldest genres, however, the fascination for capturing arrangements of everyday objects is still a viable photography profession, and unlike image making that relies on the weather for success, still life is easy to try at any time of the year. You don’t need a high-end studio to get started, and professional results can be achieved with an understanding of subtle lighting techniques and a few simple pieces of kit. Better still, the creative content is completely your choice, and definitely shouldn’t be limited to just fruit bowls and flowers. With far fewer variables out of your control, the real challenge lies in capturing the form of your chosen subjects in an interesting and engaging way. Magazines and websites are always on the lookout for enticing product shots, so it can be a lucrative business to get into, but there’s also a lot of scope for getting creative with fine-art still life. Over the next few pages you’ll discover how to create an affordable mini studio at home, the best ways to compose a scene and arrange objects, as well as illuminating them for the most stylish results. The most successful still-life photographers make pictures rather than taking them, coupling a refined sense of lighting with strong compositional skills. Discover how to develop these qualities to make the most of your still-life shoots.




© Phil Sills

Prepare for still life Photographer Phil Sills shares his expert advice for shooting stylish still-life imagery Bio: Sills has over 20 years’ experience photographing in the advertising industry, working for high-profile clients such as Lexus, British Airways and Lipton.

© Phil Sills

How do you approach the styling and composition of a still-life scene? The subject is hero every time. I like simplicity in approach. I always go for the angle on the subject as the first job to get right, and the main light source is the next-most important thing.

Above ‘The whole is more than the sum of its parts’ Paint apple is a common expression, but it’s one that This shot was created to show form and shape. applies to the still-life genre. Though images Paint was used to wrap around the objects, with can be used purely as a functional recording the fruit then removed in post-production of an object or scene, modern trends have Opposite-top seen photographers pushing the genre, using Get creative at home striking colours and compositions to evoke A home studio setup needn’t be expensive. mood, set a scene, or just please the eye. David Experiment with the quantity and position of the Parfitt ( is one of these lighting until you get the desired results stylish image-makers – an advertising pro Opposite-bottom who’s shot for clients like L’Oréal, Condé Nast Take your time and John Lewis. “All my work is studio-based, Mitch Payne’s shot for Calibre magazine illustrates how [and] I’m starting with a truly blank canvas.” important styling is. He’s complemented the metallic However, contrary to what you might think, nature of the watch with a neutral set design and backdrop you don’t need a studio or an expensive setup it comes to depth of field and perspective. A to make a start with still-life photography, sturdy tripod and reflector are necessary, and and it’s possible to get good results shooting you’ll need a dedicated area to shoot, such as a from a home location. In the kitbag of the dining-room tabletop. pros, you’ll often find large-format Choosing what to photograph film cameras with digital backs KEY should be your next step, attached. Parfitt uses a Sinar and still-life scenes usually P3, a small bellows-view SETTINGS feature a range of objects camera with a Sinar 86H FOR INDOOR along a similar theme or digital back, allowing for STILL LIFE colour palette. Consider “fine adjustments to the Generally you should be using a low your background carefully, angle of the plane of focus ISO of around 100, narrow aperture including architectural and to the perspective.” such as f16, and a tripod to keep features, such as a The disadvantage of these the images sharp. White balance window frame or door, if models is the high price tag is a subjective choice, but these add direction to your and a specialist nature that daylight is the most composition. Drapery can look makes them hard to source, neutral. cliché, but a tone that contrasts and there’s no reason why you with the subject will add depth and can’t use your existing DSLR for full interest to the frame. manual control over your images. A tiltIf you’re shooting for a client, the chances shift lens is an investment worth considering, are you’ll have your subject provided for you, offering you a great degree of control when


What lighting kit would you recommend for those starting out with still life? You need to think about what images you are likely to create. If catching movement is going to be your thing then lighting has to flash. Start off with three or four mono blocks, with a softbox, a strip softbox and a couple of ways of controlling the light with grids or a snoot. Do you have any favourite lighting setups? I try not to be repetitive. I try to maximise inherent qualities in the object and keep the options open with a hope to really discover something interesting and new. Saying that, I favour shooting objects in isolation so they can be lit properly, placing objects onto a small plinth rather than a flat surface.

Phil Sills’ top tips for still-life shooting Pre-visualise Plan out your images on paper first. It’s really important to know what you are trying to achieve before a shot is set up. Focus on technique Don’t get caught up in the technology rat race. What will get your work noticed are your images, not your camera. Create a concept Keep ideas simple by thinking of the key phrase you are trying to communicate and work on showing that through your composition, props and lighting. Experiment Never be afraid to try something out, even if you make mistakes [along the way]. Find inspiration Be sure to look at what other people do, however don’t copy their work. Find a way to make the image your own.


Create a mini studio


Use a tabletop setup for stylish still-life projects at home 1. REFLECTOR When you need to bounce light back, angle a reflector to fill shadowed areas. Look for one with both silver and white surfaces.


2. LIGHT TENT These inexpensive translucent structures will light your subjects evenly and cut out reflections. Ensure the tent is as crease-free as possible.

3. COLOUR BACKDROPS Fabric backgrounds often come included with a light tent, but you can use material such as paper or crushed velvet. Smooth out folds before shooting.

4. DESK LAMP A small lamp with a flexible head is ideal, enabling you to direct the light. Use two to add foreground and background lighting, and boost exposure on dull days.

5. TABLETOP Any large, flat surface will work. Avoid positioning your table against busy backgrounds such as wallpaper. Opt for plain, light walls that’ll help reflect light.


6. DSLR A camera with full manual control over exposure, focus and white balance is best for still life. Use the self-timer mode to avoid camera shake when you press the shutter.


7. TRIPOD A sturdy model is essential to avoid motion blur. Use a flexible ball head to vary the angles and heights for creative compositions.


Extra accessories Useful additions to your still-life shooting kit Background paper £50 / $78 Paper backgrounds are perfect for set dressing. This Lastolite backdrop is 2.75m by 11m, available in over 30 colours and can be cut to size and rolled away after use.

Softbox £156 / $195 Softboxes, like this 70cm square Rotalux, are great for creating even and soft lighting in smaller spaces. It can be folded down and stored in an included carry bag.

Tripod ball head £112 / $145

© Mitch Payne


A ball head like this 498RC2 enables a full range of movements for different compositions. It’s strong enough for pro DSLR cameras with large lenses attached.


Arrange your scene Select and place items to create a visually engaging shot


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© David Parfitt

and you need to make it look as attractive and enticing as possible to the viewer. As a successful London-based photographer, Andy Grimshaw ( knows commercial product and still-life shooting cross over a lot. “They’re both about crafting lighting and composition,” he states, and he often makes use of household items such as BluTack, tape and string to craft a scene together. A well-arranged scene generally avoids symmetry, but it’s also vital to find an angle and perspective that displays objects to their full potential. “If the shoot is to a brief, the client will be looking to accentuate their product’s features, and this often determines the composition. If I’m working on my own work I will probably have thought about how I want the final image to look in terms of lighting, colours and composition.” Grimshaw solidifies his ideas by sketching out the composition and lighting setup before the shoot, refining it as he goes. He also admits to working with as few lights as possible. “The Sun only creates one shadow so to create a natural look I think it’s essential to have one main light source. First work out where you want your main light to come from and where you want the shadow area to fall, as well as how hard or soft you want the illumination to be.” He works with the main light first, then adds in fill lights to see what effect each creates, also “reflecting light back in to the shadow areas with a handheld mirror.” Pro photographer Phil Sills also has plenty of experience illuminating objects of all shapes and sizes, and knows how important it is to light for the shape and form of your subject.


Secrets to great shots How pro David Parfitt took this image 1. NARROW APERTURE Still-life compositions generally work best when the whole scene appears sharp. Use an aperture of f16, and focus manually for pin-sharp results.

Still-life imagery might look as if they are just simple collections of items, but photographers carefully consider the arrangement and choice of subjects in their scenes to create mood and interest. It can be useful to first sketch out your composition ideas. When searching for objects to include in your setup, look for different sizes and shapes, interesting textures and a LOW-KEY variety of light values that you LIGHTING can work with. Try to avoid symmetrical placement, as Arrange a dark material behind the composition will be much your subjects, eliminate as much more engaging when the of the ambient light as possible and interval between items is position a flashgun to the side of your uneven. Create depth in your setup. Set a low power, an ISO of frame by placing some things 100 and a narrow aperture. Tweak closer and others further away the settings until you reach from the camera. the desired exposure.


2. SIMPLE BACKDROP 3. DIGITAL BACK This background complements the subject rather than distracting the viewer’s eye from it. Choose backdrop materials with a similar colour and style to the object you’re shooting.

Parfitt has used an electronic image sensor attached to his Mamiya film camera, a method favoured by many studio photographers to capture incredibly high resolution.

4. CONTINUOUS LIGHTING Using continuous lighting over flash means that you can see the effect of light adjustments instantly, tweaking their balance and position until they’re perfect.

“Whether [it’s] technically correct or not to say, I am always looking for the right angle of dangle. Front lighting is great for strong colour, but then your subject won’t have any form.” Interesting lighting includes light and shade, and Sills notes, “a dynamic light will almost always be the one from the back that wraps around the subject and brings out texture. Depending on how much contrast you want, light can then be added from the front.” For him, it’s not so much the kit that is important, but what you do with it. “A few small tungsten heads will get a new still-life photographer under way. They will be cheaper to buy than flash units, and the beauty about tungsten is you can see what you are doing when moving the lights around. Get a couple of spare stands and some flexible lockable arms to put flags in and that should be enough.” Like all image-making, clever lighting techniques are key to achieving an impressive end result, and it’s important to remember that the brighter and smaller your light source, the stronger the shadow it’ll generate. If you’re using a desk lamp, you can easily soften the light. Use the white, diffusing surface of a reflector and place it in front of the light source to immediately see the shadows soften. You can diffuse the illumination by lighting through various materials, such as Perspex, or even baking and tracing paper. There is no one-size-fits-all lighting solution, and each setup should be tailored to show off your focal point. Subjects with interesting edges look great when they’re lit from behind, and you can highlight the shape of your subjects by using off-camera flash. Position a flashgun

© David Parfitt




FREE TEXTURES Access 100 free Vibrant Vanilla Spring textures from FileSilo at digitalphotographer-157


Fragrance formation This well-lit product arrangement by David Parfitt was taken using a Sinar P3 camera, a bellows camera with a digital output attached


Find a perspective Parfitt studies the object he’s going to photograph from all angles before reaching for a camera

Create textured images Enhance still-life shots by blending layers in Photoshop

Open your layers Drag and drop your texture on top of your main image. We used vibrant12, downloadable on FileSilo. Scale it according to how you want to overlap the shot.


Set the blending mode Trying out various blending modes sees different effects, but the most useful is Multiply. This shows the original colour palette while slightly darkening it.


Change the opacity If the texture obscures your original image, adjust the Opacity of this layer by using its slider to make the effect as pronounced or subtle as you like.



© Mitch Payne



© Mitch Payne

behind the subject to create a rim-light effect, pointing the unit directly at the camera, but avoiding lens flare. Painting with light using a torch and long exposure is another effective way to add dynamic studio-style lighting to your shots, and isn’t just a technique that’s best used at night. Set your camera to manual mode with manual focus, and remove all ambient light from the room by turning off lights and shutting curtains. Press the shutter and use short bursts of the torchlight to cover all faces of the subject. It may take a few attempts to get the right exposure, but a well-lit final image will be packed with contrast. If you want to experiment even further, use different-coloured LED torches and build up layers of tone. Subject matter is key to stylish still-life photography, along with careful attention to lighting and a clean and balanced composition. Dig around second-hand shops to pick up interesting and quirky objects that have the patina of old age, and experiment with as many lighting styles as you can for each scene you craft. Grimshaw studied any photography books he could get his hands on to see what kind of images he liked, but “inspiration is everywhere – it could be anything from dappled lighting reflected off a car, to making jelly with the kids, you just have to look.” There’s no DP excuse for not having a go at still life.

If you don’t have a softbox, clamp a diffusing material such as drafting vellum or a sheet of white paper above your subject. Angle your light source onto it.


Get toned Use colourful backdrops or lighting gels to add interest to otherwise simple product shots


Esquire magazine


Challenging reflections Metallic objects can be notoriously hard to light, but when done well, will really set your shots apart

© Dennis Belmas

Mitch Payne has used soft lighting to enhance the sleek glass of these fragrance bottles

Light reflective surfaces Learn how to photograph shiny objects such as metal and glass

Set up your shot Arrange the objects on a tabletop setup. Use a large, diffused light source, such as a softbox, and move it directly above your tabletop scene.

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Choose your settings Select a low ISO and an aperture of f16 for a sharp result. Place the tripod, attach the camera and make sure your reflection can’t be seen in the object.


Position light source Move the light to different positions for varying results. Adjust the light intensity to your liking and use the white panel of a reflector to fill in shadows.



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Shoot a levitation portrait Astound friends with a creative portrait that defies the laws of physics Some of the most fun you can have with a digital camera is with a spot of photo-trickery, and this technique is no exception to that rule. It’s a great all-round project, involving a clever photo setup, as well as a little bit of manipulation in Photoshop to finish off. What you’re left with is a striking image that’s sure to baffle your friends. Before we get started there are a few essentials you’ll need. Although it may sound like a strange item to use, the first thing you’ll need is a stepladder. It’s actually a vital piece of kit for making this project possible, as it will be used as a means of propping up your model to give the impression that they’re floating. However, as the support will be visible in the photo, we’ll need to remove this later on in the editing stage; which brings us to the next piece of kit: a tripod. Shooting from a tripod will enable us to take two photos from the same position – one of the model in their floating position, and another of just the background – meaning that we can digitally stitch the two images together in Photoshop to remove the stepladder, leaving just our floating model behind. Left

Floating on a breeze By applying a simple bit of photographic trickery, we’ve managed to make our model appear as if she is floating in mid-air, resulting in an image that’s sure to impress

What you’ll need DSLR Tripod Stepladder Editing software



Shooting steps



Use a tripod Start off by locking your camera onto a sturdy tripod. Once you’ve set it up in a suitable location, it’s important that you do not move the tripod between shots. Even the slightest movement may cause problems later on, so ensure that it’s on a flat surface that doesn’t cause it to wobble at all.


Switch to Aperture Priority Switch your camera to Aperture Priority (A or Av on the model dial) and set it to the widest aperture value (smallest f-number) available. This will not only let in more light, but will also create a shallow depth of field that will separate your subject from the background.




Position your model Grab the stepladder – or whatever you’re using for your model to balance on – and put it into position. Ask your model to carefully balance on the support to appear as though they are floating. Ensure that the clothing and hair are not being obstructed and are free to hang realistically.


Set the focus Looking through your camera’s viewfinder, frame up the shot and then focus on your model. Once the model is in sharp detail, switch the lens over to manual focus. This is to ensure that the camera won’t shift focus in between the two images.



Take the image With everything set, take a shot and review the results on the back of the camera. If you’re happy with the composition and exposure, take a few more shots. Try asking your model to subtly alter her leg and arm positions each time to create some variation between each of the photos.


Shoot without the model Once you’re confident you’ve bagged the shot, remove your model and the supports from the shot. Now, take one final shot of the scene without anything other than the background in the frame. This second shot is vital, so it’s important that you don’t forget it.





The setup




For this technique you’ll need a sturdy support, such as a chair or stepladder, for your model to pose on. We’ll remove this later on in the editing stage

Asking your model to wear a long, flowing dress will help to emphasise the appearance of your model being weightless and floating

As this technique involves taking two images and merging them together in Photoshop, it’s important that you use a tripod to ensure your camera is fixed in the same position for both images

Perfect model position Ensuring your model is correctly positioned is key to success To ensure that your image is a success, it’s important that you pay special attention to your model’s position while taking your shots. If you notice that your model’s dress or hair becomes obstructed by the support they are posing on (as shown in the example image), this can cause some real problems when you later try to remove it in the editing stage. For best results, make sure your model’s hair and dress is able to hang freely as it would if they were really floating in mid-air. For added effect, it’s also a good idea to ask your model to arch their back slightly, as this reduces the amount of contact points between them and the support. It will create a more natural and relaxed pose.



Editing steps



Open the images in Photoshop In Photoshop, head to File>Open, then locate and highlight both of your chosen photos – you should have one with the model present and another one without the model. Click the Open button.


Put both images on one document With the model image in front of you, press Cmd/ Ctrl+A to select the image, followed by Cmd/Ctrl+C to copy it. Now go over to the other image and press Cmd/Ctrl+V to paste it over the top.


Remove the supports Grab the Eraser tool from the menu and start to remove the supports from underneath the model. This will reveal the background layer beneath to build upon the illusion that the model is levitating.




Boost the contrast Once any supports have been removed successfully, head up to Image> Adjustments>Brightness/Contrast. Move the Contrast slider to the right to intensify the contrast. Click OK to confirm the changes once you’re happy with the setting.



The finished result After successfully removing the supports in Photoshop, the image is complete and our model finally appears as if she is floating delicately in mid-air




Issue 158


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The latest kit reviews, industry news and tutorials to improve your skills INCLUDES

• Practical tips for improving shots • Interviews with industry experts • Professional shooting advice


Explore the potential of high-speed subjects, including how to make the most of your speedlight, using a trigger release and a guide to working with shutter speeds Digital editions available at

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Bracket exposures Capture multiple images at different exposure values to simulate a HDR effect in Photoshop


Getting the right exposure is often one of the most challenging aspects of photography and achieving a perfect exposure in one single frame can be difficult, with compromises to either the shadows or the highlights frequently required. The use of neutral density filters is one solution to this, but in the digital age many photographers opt instead to shoot multiple exposures and then merge them in Photoshop. It doesn’t take that much time to merge exposures manually in Photoshop – you can also simplify the shooting process itself by setting your camera to bracket the exposures automatically to capture multiple frames with different exposure values. The number of frames and the difference between each frame can be customised according to your needs.

This approach is ideal for any scenario in which there is a high dynamic range, or for situations in which you want to provide yourself with a safety net to ensure that you don’t lose important detail. It’s also useful for photographers who do not own – or do not like using – filters. In this tutorial we’ll take a look at how bracket exposures correctly to ensure that you capture the full range of tones in images. By defining the difference between the brackets, you can create a HDR image with impact.


Activate auto bracketing Most cameras boast some form of automatic-bracketing feature. Without it, you’d need to manually bracket exposures. On some models, bracketing is found in a menu, not via a button.


Specify the parameters You can usually tell the camera how many exposures to capture, from two to as many as seven. You can also set the stops between each exposure, which might be just one stop or three.


Lock the focus With keeping everything consistent in mind, it’s wise to autofocus and then switch the focus mode into manual mode before you start shooting to avoid any mishaps during the bracketing sequence.


Set exposure mode If you were to use Shutter Priority mode, the camera would automatically vary the aperture as it bracketed the exposures – bad news, as depth of field would vary. Instead, select Aperture Priority.


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HDR effects Use your camera’s auto-bracketing function to capture different exposure values of the same scene, giving you images that can then be merged in Photoshop

Use a tripod When bracketing, you want as much as possible to stay the same – just the exposure value should vary. You could set the camera to continuous drive mode, but a tripod is the best option where practical.

Merge the exposures Open the bracketed shots in Photoshop and merge them into a layer stack. Use layer masks, the Brush tool and Gradient tool to create a blend that maximises the potential of each exposure.

BRACKET EXPOSURES Access 68 HDR Actions for Photoshop on FileSilo at www. ďŹ


Merged exposure This is effectively a high dynamic range image, but it doesn’t look like a regular HDR shot because the exposures have been combined manually in Photoshop


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Sync settings in Lightroom Discover how to make the most of Lightroom’s settings for consistent post-processing One of Adobe Lightroom’s greatest strengths is the ability to handle, review and edit numerous photos at once. This not only increases efficiency, but greatly speeds up the process of editing photos after a shoot. This process often reveals that the same corrections should be applied to an entire set of images. Maybe the white balance wasn’t quite right, or the exposure was slightly off, or maybe you want to apply your own signature look to all your shots. Whatever the reason, Lightroom excels at applying these processes to several shots. In this tutorial, we explore how to synchronise settings to apply photo settings without having to open each individual image.


Pre-processed shot The before shot is well framed and lit, but could use a bit of digital pop. This is characteristic of the whole set of images


Lightroom edits applied Import images Open Lightroom and import images from your camera to work with. We chose a series of shots from a shoot with a model sporting brilliant red hair. Hit the Import button to add your photos into your Library.



Image adjustments Make any develop adjustments you perceive the image requires. Here, we increased the Clarity, brightened up the Lights, bumped up midtones and tweaked her red hair colour just a bit.


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Take a closer look Select one image from the set and open it in the Develop module. At this point we are only making edits to this single image and anything we do here will not be applied to the other images just yet.

Back to the Library Return to the Library module to see all the thumbnails again. A preview of the edited image is visible, and notice the icon at the lower right. It’s a +/- icon indicating the image has Develop adjustments.

Once the edits are completed, it becomes a very simple matter to apply the same processing to the entire set by synchronising the settings in Lightroom

Apply to all Ctrl/right-click on the thumbnail and go to Develop Settings> Copy Settings. In Options pick the settings to copy, grab the rest of the shots, Ctrl/right-click and go to Develop Settings>Paste Settings.



Additional editing Open another image in the Develop Module. At this point we decided to add a subtle vignette to the image. We accomplished that with the Post Crop Vignette setting in the Effects tab.


Return to the Library Once more return to the library and see how the new effect is applied to that image alone. However, we thought the other images would also beneďŹ t from the vignette effect.


Sync Settings Select all the images in the set (Cmd/Ctrl+A) and press the Sync Settings button near the bottom right. In the dialog box, specify which settings to synchronise and let Lightroom work its magic.




Reduce camera shake in CC Use a fantastic new feature in Photoshop CC to reduce blur caused by camera movement Low-light photography can be a challenge with a handheld camera. The longer the shutter is open, the more light your sensor has to work with, but the more risk you run of blur caused by slight movements of the camera. These shots are usually bound for the recycle bin as they are practically worthless. With Photoshop CC 2014’s new Shake Reduction filter, however, hope is not lost. This feature can recover details that were blurred or softened by slight camera movement. While it’s not possible for this filter to fix out of focus photos, a majority of images affected by simple handheld motion blur can be easily restored to their envisioned glory.


Soft blur from camera shake The low light of a cloudy sunset makes for shooting conditions that provide a wealth of sharpness issues


Make it a Smart Object The Camera Shake Reduction supports Smart filtering, so it’s a good idea to apply it in that form. Open your image and Ctrl/right-click on the layer thumbnail and select Convert To Smart Object.


Set the Blur Trace bounds Resize the default outline area to enclose the most noticeable blur. In our image it’s the church building. Check the Preview option and adjust the Blur Trace bounds to get the best effect.


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Shake Reduction The Shake Reduction is considered a sharpening effect, and rightfully so if the intent is to remove motion blur. Go to Filter>Sharpen>Shake Reduction. Then make sure the Advanced tab is open.

Blur Direction tool Use the second area, the Blur Direction tool, to manually trace along a visible motion blur. This only works for small blurs that still have recoverable details, so keep the Trace Length small.

Preview effects Notice how the Advanced section shows estimation region thumbnails. Each is represented by a pin on the main image. Also, the preview shown is just a rough estimation of the final effect.




Reduced motion blur The new filter goes a long way to reduce the blurring effect caused by the camera shake. It can recover details previously thought to be lost

See the results Hit the OK button and let Photoshop process the filter. Examine the results. The image is certainly much sharper, but the process introduced some noise and other artefacts that aren’t really desirable.


Reduce noise Go to Filter>Camera Raw Filter and switch to the Details tab. In the Noise Reduction area, adjust the Luminance and Luminance Detail sliders to help eliminate the visible noise.


Finish up While the Camera Raw Filter is still open, make any other processing adjustments you deem necessary. In our case, we increased the Clarity and Vibrance, and added a slight lens vignette too.



The photo helpdesk Looking to capture the action? Digital Photographer’s Lauren Scott answers your questions on shooting life’s fast-paced moments

Pan the camera for speed I’ve always been interested in motor sports, and since upgrading my camera I’ve been photographing racing events, but I’m not getting sharp shots at the high speed the cars are moving. Is there a minimum shutter speed I should be using? Robert Francis Fast-moving action is an enticing genre for many photographers, freezing subjects that are normally too speedy to see into a still frame. There are many factors that come into play when you’re working out your shutter duration, such as the speed your subject is travelling at, as well as its distance from you, so there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. If you’ve ever looked admiringly at pro images of whizzing Formula One cars, you’ll notice the environment behind the vehicle is usually blurred, and this is because many action photographers pan


the camera with the subject to keep it central in the frame, resulting in a sharp subject with motion blur in the background. By panning, you should be able to obtain a sharp image of a moving car even at a relatively slow shutter speed such as 1/60sec. The technique is most effective when the subject is moving in a straight trajectory, so find a position that ensures your subject is the same distance from you throughout the shot. Switch your lens to autofocus and select continuous AF from the camera menu. When the subject enters the frame, hold your camera steady, pulling your elbows in and twisting at the waist, and then release the shutter. For smoother results, continue to track your subject after it has left the frame, and use a monopod for heavier lenses. It might take some practice to get the timing right, but when executed well, panning will give you super-sharp results at surprisingly long shutter durations.


Stay on track By tracking the vehicle across the frame with the camera, it’ll appear sharp, even at slower shutter speeds Top-inset

Avoid blur Without panning, fast-moving objects, such as racing cars, will appear blurred and unprofessional Bottom-inset

Keep it steady Use a monopod for a stable base when moving the camera, particularly when heavy lenses are attached

Dedicated action cameras I’m a keen surfer and am looking to get some good photos of myself and other athletes while I’m out on the water. Would it be better to get a dedicated housing for my DSLR, or to buy a new waterproof camera? Joel Cesare

Find a prime position I’ve recently started photographing my local football team, but even with a 50-200mm telephoto lens, my images don’t really show the close-up action of the game. Do you have any advice? Kirsty Baker For dynamic sports images, it’s important to capture the key moments of the game being played, and this all comes down to your location in relation to the action. A focal reach of 200mm should be more than adequate to fill the frame with your subjects, provided you’re stood close enough to the pitch. Position yourself in the right place to get the closest shot; for example, in a football game this could be behind or to the side of the goal. You’ll be able to catch that elation or disappointed emotion close up when the ball goes into the net. When looking for a prime spot, consider the appearance of your background, as a messy backdrop can ruin a classic shot. Set the widest aperture that your lens allows, to give you the fastest shutter speed for freezing the action while also blurring the background behind the main subject. Wherever you do decide to set up, make sure you have permission to be there and that you’re not distracting the athletes.


Don’t take sides A side view like this can make a viewer feel distanced from the action

For photographers who want to take their work onto or under water, the good news is that tough action cameras have become much more affordable and accessible in recent years. There are lots of options available, depending on personal preference and budget, though bear in mind you could end up spending more on a waterproof DSLR housing than you would on a dedicated action camera. You might also find a DSLR awkward and heavy to operate while you’re on the water, compared to a more compact model. The rugged GoPro range ( starts from just £100/$130, and its housing is waterproof up to 40m deep. The company also produces more expensive models with surf mounts included. Although the quality of sports cameras has improved significantly over the years, bear in mind that your DSLR is still likely to produce higher-quality results. If you’re after incredibly large images, it might be worth substituting convenience for the weight of your DSLR, opting for housings that enable full access to your camera’s controls, such as those by Nauticam ( Top


Protective housing

Waterproof model

Using a waterproof camera housing will enable you to access the controls of your camera, while protecting it from the elements

Most manufacturers now make dedicated waterproof models, though generally these don’t pack the same megapixels as a DSLR


Fill the frame Find a location that enables you to fill the frame with action, giving your sports images much greater impact Above

Get close up Use a telephoto lens to get as close as possible to your subject, using a wide aperture to blur distracting backgrounds



Become a workshop leader This is an increasingly popular avenue for professional photographers to earn a living, but there’s plenty to consider before you take the plunge



to you by the time you try teaching, as you’ll need to give advice based on experience, not someone else’s theories.” Professional landscape photographer Mark Bauer ( operates both one-to-one landscape workshops and group workshops alongside fellow photographers Ross Hoddinott and Adam Burton as part of Dawn 2 Dusk ( Bauer says that you need to have built a solid reputation before you can start to offer workshops successfully. “Establish your reputation as a photographer first,” he explains. “There are no formal qualifications, but you need to have a certain level of expertise and experience and it’ll obviously help to give the clients confidence if you have established a reputation for your photography – perhaps through having published articles and images

© Ian Rolfe

hotography has changed significantly over the past few decades. The rise of digital technology and the shifts in the nature of stock photography mean that photographers of all disciplines have been forced to find new ways of making a living. Though the exponential increase in the popularity of photography since the age of digital imaging has caused the industry to become a more competitive environment to work in, it’s also meant that there are more people than ever who want to learn how to take better photos. Books, magazines and the internet all play their part in helping aspiring photographers to develop their skills, but many amateurs will want, sooner or later, to take part in a workshop, run by an expert in their field – and they are often willing to pay good money for the opportunity. Landscape photography workshops are particularly popular, but there are workshops across all genres, from action to weddings and from portraits to wildlife. However, as a flick through the adverts in any photography magazine or a quick web search will soon reveal, there is a plethora of workshops and even overseas photographic tours being offered to photographers who are eager to take their work to the next level. This naturally makes choosing a workshop from amid the crowd a challenge, but it makes it even harder for the photographers running these workshops and tours to be successful. It’s important, therefore, that photographers who are considering running workshops do not assume that it will be a straightforward means of earning money. First, you need to be confident that you are at the right stage of your career to take on the challenge of leading workshops. “You need to be able to competently answer all of your students’ questions,” says Mike Garrard of The Trained Eye (, a company offering a comprehensive range of wedding and portraits workshops. “It’s about pitching to the right people in the first place. In other words, don’t try to teach a workshop to experienced pros if you’ve only been shooting for the same amount of time. The ins and outs of shoot management, exposure control [and] dealing with clients should be second nature

in magazines. It makes sense to become a photographer before becoming a workshop leader, but it’s surprising how many people try to do it the other way round.” Fellow professional landscape photographer Ian Rolfe ( agrees that reputation matters. “As a photographer, you would have to be fairly well-known, [with] a good following with regard to your work and style,” he explains. “You need Opposite

Holiday of a lifetime When running workshops overseas, it’s vital to remember that, for many of your clients, this will be the holiday of a lifetime Below

Work with a partner Having a partner with you can be of great benefit, enabling you to share the pressures of looking after several participants

© Ian Rolfe



© Alex Nail


“Your ability to not only take a great image Don’t go it alone under pressure but also to demonstrate Teaming up with a partner can reduce the stress of good finishing skills in software is essential” greatly running a workshop to be totally competent in your chosen field and never be stumped for answers to camera questions, filters, types of light and importantly, composition, no matter the weather and wherever you decide to run the workshop. You need to be technically savvy and not just with your own equipment. Your ability to not only take a great image under pressure – and in any conditions – but also to demonstrate good finishing skills in software is essential.” However, Alex Nail (, who also runs landscape photography workshops, says there are certain situations in which not having had years of professional experience can be an advantage. “Absolute beginners may actually benefit from a teacher who started out more recently and can associate more closely with the difficulties their client is facing,” he says, although he concedes that advanced photographic skill and the ability to get a message across are vital. “It goes without saying that the best leaders will not only be outstanding photographers and teachers, but also have a broad range of knowledge in subjects related to their art.” Nail says that, as much as a high level of competence, a passion for your subject is also vital. “You need to be able to express your enthusiasm for photography to the client,” he says. “A love of


the outdoors, the mountains and spectacular weather leaves me like an excited child at times and I am sure that’s infectious.” Rolfe agrees that your attitude and outlook are integral to your success as a workshop leader. “You have to possess an easy, outgoing temperament [and be] friendly, exceptionally patient, and have a zest for life at all times. Being an optimist is a huge plus, as your attitude will affect all those participating in your workshop.” Nail concurs with Rolfe’s remarks on the importance of a bright outlook. “A bit of optimism will always help to make the most of a rainy day,” he says. With communication in mind, Bauer suggests that having prior professional experience in teaching, training or coaching is a great asset. “That’s a real bonus, as these are not easy skills to acquire,” he says. “If you’ve not done any teaching before, consider investing in developing training skills. City & Guilds, for example, offers an ‘Introduction to Trainer Skills’ course.” Your own personality is a major factor to consider before taking on workshops. “You need to be totally approachable, eventempered and [able] to demonstrate a large degree of patience and perseverance, even for the most trivial request,” says Rolfe. “If you are

Many photographers choose to collaborate on workshops, especially when working with larger groups and/or visiting overseas destinations. “Working with a partner means that you’re able to share responsibility for the decisionmaking process and bounce ideas off each other,” says Mark Bauer. “If you’re lucky, you’ll find a partner whose skills and personality complement your own.” Ian Rolfe agrees that there are benefits to working with a partner. “There are certain workshops that you want to offer your clients – for instance, into exotic and more difficult locations – where quite frankly, having a partner is really a smart thing to do,” he explains. Alex Nail concurs. “There are some clear benefits to teaming up with others… it helps to share the responsibility and workload, particularly when it comes to deciding on a plan B in bad weather or dealing with an unexpected issue. Clients can benefit from seeing the different approaches of the leaders, particularly if the leaders have radically different photographic styles.”


Advice from the pros on workshops

Stunning scenes One of the chief motivations for people to book a workshop is the chance to be taken to amazing scenes and talked through the techniques involved in capturing them

Our panel of experts offers advice for running workshops


Customer satisfaction You need to ensure that you have considered as many different eventualities as possible before embarking on workshops Below

Technique tuition Workshop leaders need to be willing and able to patiently and effectively demonstrate key shooting techniques to everyone who attends their courses

© Mark Bauer

someone who would tire of being asked the same things over and over again, then running a workshop would not be for you.” Indeed, you need to be prepared for the fact that, on many workshops, your job only ends when you’re asleep. “You’re basically on call from the moment you get up for the dawn shoot, until everyone goes to bed,” says Bauer – a comment echoed by Rolfe. “You are a leader in every sense of the word and people expect that of you every time. You are never offduty and just when you think you can have a moment to yourself in your room, there comes a knock at the door or a phone call.” However, Nail says that the need to take charge varies considerably depending on the nature of the workshop. “I think more introverted leaders might find teaching groups more challenging, but again, I know from clients that a softer approach can help in oneon-one scenarios,” he says. “It’s certainly best to start small. I did one-to-ones for a couple of years before deciding to teach groups. Teaching friends is a great way to begin.” Be aware though that one-on-one workshops and smaller groups are not necessarily an easier option. “I find [one-to-one workshops] more challenging, in that you just can’t send off your client for a while to work on his or her own,” says Rolfe. “In a group, you can let them work together or in pairs and work between them all and give yourself a breather. Individually, they want you by their side constantly and the time you spend with them is quite intense… you certainly work hard and think on your feet continuously. Some groups can be so lovely, especially if you have had them on previous workshops, that it actually is easier to look after eight participants than one on their own.” One of the most challenging aspects of running photography workshops – and one that some photographers do not appreciate beforehand – is the level of organisation involved. “It sounds an ideal way to make a living, but behind the scenes there is a surprising amount of work,” says Rolfe. “You need to be an organisational expert! If you want a smooth running workshop, particularly to an exotic location, you will have done your homework thoroughly and had everything checked and double-checked.” If you’re a highly organised person you may be well suited to workshops, but you’ll also need to be prepared to abandon your carefully prepared plans if something unexpected occurs, which might be as simple as a change in the weather forecast. “Bad weather, travel issues, model no-shows, venue complications – all are things that can crop up on the day, and you need to have as good a back-up plan for each of those as possible,” says Garrard. “Standing around with a dozen students who have paid to attend your course is no fun if DP things aren’t running smoothly.”

© Mike Garrard


Handle expectations Mike Garrard: “It’s as important to say what isn’t covered in your workshop as what is. Students can make assumptions about certain things that you might not have considered, so make sure your itinerary is clear and provide a thorough FAQ about the smaller details.” Make it manageable Mike Garrard: “If hands-on shooting is a part of your workshop then not accepting too many students is very important. No one wants to attend a course where they’re fighting over who gets to shoot… make sure everyone has time to take their shots.” Be prepared for any contingency Ian Rolfe: “Anticipate developing attitudes and discontent. Everyone’s expectations are different. People get sick, fall over and break limbs and sometimes require hospitalisation. I can expect some sort of mishap on nearly every workshop I run.” You need to be fit and healthy Ian Rolfe: “If you cannot outwalk all your participants, be the first to rise in the morning and be last in bed, you will not run a successful workshop.” Make sure your clients learn something Mark Bauer: “It’s not just about taking them to nice places – they need to come away feeling that their photography has improved.



Career advice Digital Photographer’s Lauren Scott gives you advice on what to look for and consider when retouching your photos

Keywords matter I work as an IT manager, but in my spare time I experiment with a lot of retouching techniques, and I’ve been building up my editing skills and portfolio over the last few years. Recently a clothing company came across my website, and want to commission me to retouch their new catalogue. As I’ve never been paid for my services before, how much should I charge? Jo Northwood To start with, it’s important to find out from the company what’s expected from you, as you could quote too high and put them off, or go too low and end up being underpaid for your time. When you understand how many images you’ll be working with, estimate how long it’ll take you to complete the job. Charge on a perhour basis, so it’s easy to calculate a final payment figure and decide how much you think your time is worth. This job will hopefully lead to more commissions in the future, and as each photo requires different processes, you might want to vary the hourly rate depending upon the complexity of the work. Always remember to consider the client’s situation when costing, as a company just starting out will have a much lower budget than a larger corporate customer.

Speed up your workflow I’m a professional wedding photographer and I spend a lot of my time retouching photos in Photoshop, particularly of the bride. I realise that this is a necessary part of my workflow, and my clients always love the final results, but each wedding can contain hundreds of images. Is there a quick way to process so many files without compromising the quality? Jenny Barnes

How much retouching should I do? I’m a fairly successful portrait photographer, but recently a client complained that I hadn’t done enough retouching to her family shoot. I prefer to limit the amount of post-processing I do so that the final results look natural. Should I be doing more intense editing to skin and body features? George Mason

Pricing your retouching skills can be difficult


Try making simple changes to speed up your Photoshop workflow, such as using keyboard shortcuts. Go to Edit>Keyboard Shortcuts And Menus to view established shortcuts and create your own custom ones. Creating tool presets for the edits you make most often is another excellent way to become more efficient, leaving you with the same end results, but less time in front of your computer screen.

While it’s likely that potential clients will already know your style of work, explain to them at the start that you’re not generally a heavy retoucher. It’s useful to ask if they’ve got any specific requests of elements for you to remove, such as scars or moles. Conversely, you might find that they actually want you to keep certain things untouched. As with all good relationships, communication is key.


How to make retouching look natural

© David Moss

Pro retoucher Danny Meadows shares his expert advice direct from the industry Commercial, high-end retouching is going natural, and it’s a trend I’m delighted with. I’ve always dealt with commercial photography at the pixel end, and it frees me up to follow exactly what’s going on in the world of post-production. There are many quick-fix tutorials on the internet, but the old retouching methods are still the most effective. For removing small blemishes, use the Healing brush or Clone Stamp tool. Then take your time with the Dodge and Burn tools, evening out unwanted shadows with skill and patience. The next step is to brighten selected areas, such as under the eyes, and you should also consider whether to add catch lights to the eyes to give them more life. Any reshaping can be achieved subtly with the Liquify tool, using it sparingly on facial features. Use a suitably sized brush to pull and push certain areas, such as the cheekbones. When you make each alteration, do so on a separate layer so you can work on features independently of each other. There are no shortcuts for natural results, and quick smoothing steps will completely remove the lines, freckles, beauty marks and texture of the skin. Today’s fashion, advertising and beauty campaigns are generally keen to keep these features – a trend I’m delighted with.

© Nina Masic (retouching by Danny Meadows)

Opposite-top Creating tool presets in Photoshop is a time-saver, enabling you to save and access much-used tool settings Opposite-bottom Your retouching style is as personal as your photographic style. Talk to your client if you’re in doubt Left Danny Meadows believes the industry is moving towards more subtle methods of image editing (



Get creative with speedlights TheNikonSchooldemonstrateshowtogetthe verybestfromyourflash flash mode and also pointed out the fact that these are actually very rare. One of the most interesting highlights of the day was Freeman’s demonstration of the ways in which bounce flash can be used to create a soft, flattering light source and how, in some situations, the speedlight can even be bounced off a wall behind the photographer to produce a very attractive effect. A model was present throughout the day, enabling Freeman to teach the participants key concepts, such as the inverse square law and how this enables photographers to position their model farther away from a white background to instantly give the impression of a charcoal background instead. Camera settings, such as Nikon’s Auto FP mode and rear-curtain and slow-sync flash, were also covered throughout the day, with the delegates being given plenty of opportunity to explore and try out the new concepts that Freeman had shown them by photographing the professional model themselves. For more information about the range of courses offered by the Nikon School, please visit

Pupil progress © Ron Powrie

The use of flash during shoots is perhaps one of the most discussed areas of photography, which can be both a good and a bad thing. Sometimes there can be so much debate about the right settings to use and the right situations to use them in that even some of the most competent photographers can end up feeling decidedly bewildered. In some cases, this can make people avoid using their speedlight much of the time – and they end up missing out on the creative potential that it can offer. The Nikon School in London is well aware of the potential pitfalls of flash photography and their Getting Creative With Speedlights training day is carefully tailored to help photographers understand precisely how their Nikon speedlight works and how to get the very best from it with a minimum of fuss and effort. Expert trainer Neil Freeman, himself a former professional photographer, explained the key flash concepts that photographers need to know in order to unlock the potential of their speedlight. The day started with a focus on the intertwined concepts of quality of light and quantity of light. Freeman demonstrated how a large light source, especially when placed near to the subject, produced a soft and flattering result, while a smaller light source created a much harsher result. Freeman devoted much of the day to raising the delegates’ level of confidence in using TTL for their speedlight exposure, even when the unit is positioned off-camera. He explained the situations in which he, as a photographer, would absolutely need to switch into manual

I first got interested in photography when doing my A levels. The school had a photography club, run by the chemistry teacher, and we learned how to develop film and produce prints. My main interests are travel and event photography, and having only recently changed from film cameras to digital, the great thing with Nikon is that all my old lenses and the majority of my accessories will fit my D800. The [first] training course I attended was excellent so when I exchanged my SB-800 flash for the SB-910, I naturally looked for a course that would enable me to take advantage of all its features. The [flash’s] manual is fairly technical so it was really great that the course was the opposite, [with] lots of practical demonstrations in a studio and outdoor environment and it was very useful to try out lighting arrangements with a model. The two tips I came away with are that if you use accessories, such as the Westcott softbox, correct positioning enables you to achieve studio-quality results and creative use of the in-camera white balance controls, combined with colour balance filters on the flash, will allow you to produce dramatic images, even on a grey November day!


Flash exposures Freeman revealed that, as a photographer himself, he almost always trusts TTL to deliver precisely the right exposure


Control of the light A lot of time was devoted to explaining how speedlights can enable you to be in complete control of the light during a shoot

A view behind the scenes


Technical training Freeman gave the delegates tips on how to get the very best from their Nikon speedlights

Model practice The participants were able to put Freeman’s tips into practice by working with a professional model

© Ron Powrie

Take a closer look at Nikon’s Getting Creative With Speedlights training day

One-on-one Training manager Freeman made sure he spent time with everyone, explaining how to get the best results

Ron Powrie attended the creative speedlights photography course at the Nikon School

© T he Nikon School


Top tips for speedlight photography You can trust TTL to deliver a perfect flash exposure in the vast majority of situations, saving you the potentially hit-and-miss approach of using manual flash exposure settings.


Bouncing your speedlight off the ceiling or wall is an ideal means of achieving a soft flash exposure, but you need to consider the colour of the surface you’re bouncing the light off.


Consider using a colourtemperature gel over the top of your speedlight in order to produce creative lighting effects entirely in-camera without the need for any postprocessing later on.


You can take advantage of the inverse square law to turn a white background into a charcoal grey or black background simply by moving your photography model farther away from it.


Upcoming courses Nikon’s Creative Lighting System enables you to control up to three groups of speedlights, each with their own exposure settings. The SU-800 provides the most powerful means of triggering speedlights off-camera.


• Getting Started With Speedlights 3 February 2015 • The Art of Food Photography 4 February 2015 • The Art of High Speed Flash Photography 5 February 2015 • Getting Started with DSLR Photography 6 February 2015 • Getting Started with Wedding Photography 7 February 2015





Up-and-coming photographer and retoucher Ryan Bater reveals the importance of personality when breaking into a tough industry

All images © Ryan Bater

Fashion futures Left

Favourite subject “Beth Haf Jones, shown here, has been one of my favourite subjects to photograph. Her posing is natural and effortless. A strong sense of emotion that she embodies comes across when photographing her”



p-and-coming artists are no strangers diagrams and settings down to keep for future photo shoots. Lighting is photography in every to hard work, and Ryan Bater, a photographer and retoucher based aspect, so keep experimenting and trying out in Swansea, Wales understands this completely new set-ups. It’s raining? Backlight better than most. Specialising in the fashion the rain [and] make the image dramatic and and portrait genres, Bater is self-taught and beautiful. Whatever the weather or situation, has been working as a photographer since it’s important to know lighting in order to give 2010, an impressive detail considering he was yourself confidence.” only 16 at the time. “I started photographing For Bater, the set-up he chooses depends in my late teens, inspired by Welsh fashion greatly on what quality he’s trying to achieve. designers and the surrounding landscape, “Creating a mood and atmosphere with my and after many years of hard work I’m proud lighting is important. If it’s commissioned work, to be in the position I am in today.” He loves I find myself using a mixture of strobes and combining different elements within his work, speed lights for those little highlights and crisp but adds that “storytelling and romanticism details in the fabric and skin.” He notes that play an integral part.” advertising campaigns give a lot more room Breaking into the industry can take for creativity, as “it is more of the story and some years to achieve, but Bater’s career the lifestyle that the brand is aiming to achieve. began earlier than most, working as an You can use a high ISO settings and natural in-house photographer and retoucher, and lighting for both grain and a much more coordinating photo shoots from initial idea natural style. For personal work I find myself to post-production. Today his portfolio spans photographing on location with natural lighting an impressive list of clients such as MAC 90 per cent of the time.” Cosmetics, Jane Norman and Condé Nast’s As well as working as a traditional photographer, Bater also takes care of Brides magazine, as well as British Vogue the post-processing. Retouched images – online. However, this progression to success particularly in the fashion industry – can often wasn’t just down to luck, but rather a lot of get a bad press, but for him, “knowing how to hard work, as Bater explains: “Never stop retouch is very important… to take your work talking about your work. Self-promotion and to the next level. It’s less about changing what using the online world to communicate has you’ve created in camera and more about never been so easy, and people [aren’t] going polishing and setting the mood. When you’re to hire you if they don’t know you’re out there. a very established photographer you can Work extremely hard and your business will outsource retouching, but until then it’s worth succeed. Ask for constructive feedback from investing the time to improve your retouching other professionals, build your name online skills, bettering your work overall.” and get involved in competitions.” Despite his obvious successes so far in Even when you are established, it’s important his career, Bater knows that there are many to keep building your portfolio, and Bater is constantly experimenting with fresh styles. “It’s different challenges you can face on a daily basis in this ever-changing industry, and one of a personal journey of work and it should never the hardest is to stay motivated. “It’s difficult end. Always immerse yourself in inspiration, when you’re one person covering a number of whether it’s attending galleries, exhibitions or roles, while being your own manager. You have visiting new places. See what catches your eye to promote your work and develop your skills, and write everything down or take a note in while also trying to gain new customers.” It’s your mind.” He’s always imagining how he can also vital to know how to stay active during apply his inspiration to new projects. “Continue the quiet times. “Managing your workflow and your love of photography through your utilising your communication skills is key to personal work and people will notice.” overcome every situation.” People – that is to say, significant clients Though Bater comes across with confidence – have definitely taken notice of Bater, who and assurance, he still has his fair share of keeps an individual style while still being nerves. Looking back to when he was breaking inspired by others. “It’s important to reflect into the industry and working for one of his your personality in your work [and] you‘ll first prestigious clients, international bridal find in time that your style will come together brand Benjamin Roberts, he recalls: “At gradually and naturally through experience. If first I didn’t realise the size of the company a client wants to hire you, they will expect your and I was talking through my ideas on the style to come across in the project. Don’t think phone. I remember being so passionate, otherwise, and create something that isn’t a and creating a story on how I imagined the true reflection of you and your work.” campaign to unfold. When I discovered the Style can be defined in many ways, but size of this company [I] was shocked, and lighting is arguably the element that can give felt embarrassed by how detailed I was the most impact to an image, with flattering being.” This enthusiasm didn’t put off the setups particularly important for the flawless client, however. “The first time we worked fashion genre. Bater advises others to “write



Bater’s top advice for successful commissioned work Agree on expectations Write out a clear contract stating what services you’re providing and what’s included in the price. Make sure it’s signed by the client and dated so the legalities are taken care of. Make communication key Talk to your client on a regular basis and stick to your times. Cover every angle of the commission so you are both on the same wavelength, and repeat points if you need clarification. Be prepared Have back-up equipment, and prepare what you will need beforehand. Make sure you have everything in your kit and doublecheck before you close that door. This will ensure confidence in case anything breaks or stops working mid-shoot. Keep to timings Take your time testing lighting to get the best possible results that you can. Make sure you have a timer set per image, giving yourself a steady workflow throughout the day and no mad panic at the end. Back up the shoot Send a hard drive of the entire shoot for clients to select images from and outsource to their retouchers. If you’re retouching yourself, and a meeting isn’t possible, send an online gallery with images for them to select.


Natural lighting This photo shoot was created for charity as a donation, along with the dresses involved. It was taken in fairly harsh sunlight, and backlit to create a strong sense of shadows and highlights Bottom-left

Peacock Bride An advertorial exclusively shot for Mac Cosmetics, published in Asian Bride’s January/February 2014 issue. A mixture of continuous lighting and flash was used, and retouching focused on the skin to show off the make up to its best ability Bottom-right

Reflective illumination This headshot uses natural lighting and a large silver reflector for fill lighting. Bater has utilised his retouching skills to achieve a flawless skin finish, using dodge and burn methods via Curves, and the Healing brush tool




“Never stop talking about your work. Selfpromotion and using the online world to communicate has never been so easy” together I was shaking with nerves, but we got amazing results, and the end result was how I’d described on the initial meeting.” Bater admits that he can still get nervous now, but remembers to have fun at the same time. With an incredible eye for detail, not just in the work he produces, but the relationships he builds, Bater has guaranteed plenty of return commissions. What’s strikingly obvious is the hard work and meticulous planning he puts in before, during and after every commission, with nothing taken for granted. “My golden rule is to always over-impress your client; do this well and you’re on the road to a long working relationship and multiple bookings in future.” The next step all depends on the market that


you’re in, but for Bater, “communication and a solidified direction is the key to a successful outcome.” He wants others to succeed, and highly recommends passionate photographers to think carefully about their start-up costs and pricing. “Something I wish I knew [earlier] is, do your research. Extensively research your competition in the local and surrounding areas before starting out. Above all, you need to understand that this a business, and you will need a business plan.” So how does Bater hope his images come across to others? “You never know how others are going to perceive your work, as photography is utterly subjective. But I hope when they look at the final product, they

see a well thought-out idea from conception to execution.” Bater’s execution is certainly meticulous, but like all good fashion photographers, he makes the end result look seemingly effortless. With a move to London planned for early 2015, he looks to grow his business further, work with a wide range of clients and expand his network. If his portfolio and resolve so far is anything to go by, he’s certainly a name to DP watch grow to greater heights. Above

Personal interest A lot of personal photo shoots have helped Ryan to gain new commissions, and he captured a natural look in this shot, using sunlight and minimal post-production Right

Collaborative imagery Fashion shoots are usually a collaboration of talents, and the make up in this shot was by, with the model wearing Agnes Olah Couture



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8mm f3.5 Fisheye.........................................................................................£569 14mm f2.5 .......................................................................................................£269 20mm f1.7 Mkll (Black or Silver)..........................................................£285 7-14mm f4.......................................................................................................£849 12-32mm f3.5/5.6.......................................................................................£269 12-35mmf2.8.................................................................................................£829 14-42mm f3.5/5.6 Mkll HD(Un-Boxed from Kit).......................£149 X PZ 14-42mm f3.5-5.6..........................................................................£279 14-140mm f3.5-5.6 O.I.S HD...............................................................£499 14-140mm f3.5-5.6 O.I.S HD (Un-Boxed from Kit).................£449 35-100mm f2.8.............................................................................................£899 45-150mm f4/5.6.........................................................................................£215 45-200mm f4-5.6 ......................................................................................£259 100-300mm f4-5.6 ...................................................................................£415 Leica 15mm f2.8.............................................................................................£469 Leica Summilux 25mm f1.4 ASP...........................................................£429 Leica Nocticron 42.5mm f1.2 ASP OIS..........................................£1145 Leica Elmarit DG Macro 45mm f2.8....................................................£569

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Nikon D3300 vs Canon EOS 1200D Find out which big-name brand cements its status at the top of the beginners market with the latest entry-level DSLR releases The beginners’ market is a competitive place for DSLRs these days. Leading manufacturers are not only up against their rivals, but other camera systems too, including high-end compacts and CSCs. There’s now so much variety that when it comes to selecting the right camera, consumers are left feeling unsure where to start. As a result, many are mistakenly put off investing in what they perceive to be a complex system. In fact, as we show in this head to head, recent entry-level DSLRs can make the perfect companion for those keen to take great shots instantly and develop their photography skills. With built-in guide modes and a selection of both basic and advanced controls, these cameras have the potential to take you from amateur to pro, even on a tight budget. Today’s affordable DSLR options don’t scrimp on the specs either, as many offer similar or the same features as their high-end counterparts, which is why they’re not only suited to firsttime photographers but also keen


enthusiasts who are looking for a reliable second shooter. Join us in this head to head as we take a closer look at the top two rivals in the entrylevel DSLR market. Find out for yourself how the new Canon EOS 1200D and Nikon D3300 fared when we put them to the test. We cover all of the important areas you need to know more about, including focus and handling, overall image quality, ISO performance and potential high-speed shooting. With our guidance you’ll be able to narrow down which option is really right for you.




SRP: £600 / $650 including 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 VR II kit lens

Nikon D3300 With a spec sheet that overshadows the Canon, we find out if Nikon’s new D3300 can really outperform the competition Confidently competing with the Canon EOS 1200D is Nikon’s new D3300. Lighter and slightly smaller in size, this entry-level DSLR also houses some impressive features, including a larger self-cleaning sensor, greater ISO range, high-speed shooting up to five frames per second and 11 focus points. A key feature that really sets this camera apart from the competition is its lack of an anti-aliasing filter. Manufacturers generally choose to omit AA filters from higher-end camera models as a way of enabling you to capture sharper shots. However, without one there’s a risk your images could become susceptible to moiré, a wavy false-pattern effect, which occurs when the object or scene you’re photographing features repeating patterns. However, given that the D3300 has a generous 24.2-megapixel offering, Nikon is keen to assure consumers that there’s minimal risk of moiré occurring in your captures. Naturally, this is an area we were keen to observe in our testing, and are pleased to report we found no evidence of moiré in our images. What’s more, fine details appear incredibly sharp up-close as a result of Nikon’s decision, which really sets this camera apart from not only its competition, but other entry-level models on the market as well. Overall, we found test shots to be of an excellent quality and resolution. Exposures were evenly balanced on all occasions, with a fantastic dynamic range and just the right amount of contrast. Auto and scene mode settings, which first-time photographers are likely to employ, were also capable of producing fantastic results in mixed conditions. Colours in our captures also appear


accurate, although perhaps ever-so-slightly cool for our taste, but this can be remedied in-camera with a quick tweak to your white balance. The D3300’s native ISO range is also promising for low-light shooting, offering an ISO range between ISO 100 and 12800, which can be expanded further to an equivalent of ISO 25600. When working in higher ISOs, we found that noise was kept to minimum and only really became noticeable past the ISO 3200 point, so you’ll still be able to produce large, high-quality prints with shots taken around that level. The camera also handles well for an entry-level model, and comes complete with a built-in Guide mode for beginners. Although there aren’t a whole lot of on-body buttons, those that are featured are relatively easy to navigate. However, the lack of direct controls can slow down setting changes somewhat, which is likely to frustrate more experienced enthusiasts who want to work in semi-automatic or manual mode. That being said, the modern menu interface on the three-inch LCD is bright, even in strong light, and easy to resolve. In practice, focusing is also accurate and quicker on the D3300 in comparison to the Canon 1200D, when using Live View as opposed to the viewfinder. The D3300 also offers two extra AF points, so you get a little more flexibility when composing your captures. And speaking of speed; the D3300 can also shoot up to five frames per second in continuous mode, which is great for sport. A slight drawback, though, much like with the Canon, is that processing times can be a little on the slow side.


Solid design The Nikon D3300 is robust yet lightweight. The additional 18-55mm kit lens will also collapse down to keep the entire camera more compact in size Below-left

Impressive results The camera’s lack of anti-aliasing filter means shots appear sharp and detailed up close Below-right

Ideal for beginners With its unique Guide mode, the Nikon D3300 provides a helpful starter for new DSLR users






SRP: £450 / $550 with EF-S 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 IS II kit lens

Canon EOS 1200D Canon’s new 1200D offers everything a first-time photographer really needs, but does its lack of flashy extras mean its fall short on test? Canon has a long history of producing well-rounded entry-level DSLRs, and although the EOS 1200D’s competition, the Nikon D3300, outshines it at first glance in feature offerings, it’s still a very reliable shooter for first-time photographers to consider. What’s more, the difference in price point could be enough to sway strict budget-conscious consumers, or those who already have a loyalty to the Canon brand. On the whole, the EOS 1200D is a very capable entry-level camera. You don’t need to be an experienced DSLR user – or necessarily even a Canon user, for that matter – to quickly grasp the controls. In fact, there are more dedicated on-body buttons that give direct access to settings than the Nikon D3300 offers, which we found made the Canon’s handling performance slightly better on test. However, handling on both cameras could be improved if touchscreen capabilities were an option, which would not only help to speed up setting changes, but also focus-point adjustments on the go – yet this isn’t something that will appeal to everyone. That being said, beginners will still find the 1200D easy enough to navigate. There’s even a compatible Canon companion app, which you can download onto your smart device. The app will guide you through the camera settings and controls, as well as help develop your shooting skills further over time, which is specifically handy to those new to DSLR photography. On test we also found the camera’s featured 18-megapixel sensor more than capable of producing excellent-quality images. While the 1200D does feature an anti-aliasing filter, unlike the Nikon, test shots are still

suitably sharp and detailed – although admittedly the results are not quite on par with the D3300’s. Colours, on the other hand, do appear rich, bold and vibrant, with the typical inviting and warm tone that we’ve come to expect from Canon-brand cameras in contrast to Nikon’s rather cool tone. Exposures also appear even, although in comparison, the Nikon can produce very slightly better results in high-contrast scenes. However, the EOS 1200D does perform very well in low-light and high-sensitivity situations. Although its ISO offering of ISO 100 to 6400 is not quite as extensive as the D3300, it’s still perfectly suitable for most scenarios, especially for beginners. We found that there was a limited amount of noise in our test shots, even in high ISO settings, with it only really becoming noticeable and destructive to image quality past the ISO 1600 point. There’s no denying that this is fair and in keeping with other cameras in its class. We also found autofocus to be relatively quick too, although it does slow considerably when you’re shooting with Live View activated on screen and will struggle to lock focus. Generally speaking, however, selecting one of the nine available AF points via the optical viewfinder and D-Pad is a swift process on a shoot. Things do slow down considerably when it comes to continuous shooting, though, as the 1200D only offers up to three frames per second in comparison to the D3300’s speedy five frames per second. This may not be a deal-breaker for many, but those keen to shoot action or moving subjects will be put off by its performance and what we found to be slow processing speeds.


Strong build Although lightweight, the camera is a little bigger in comparison to its competition. However it does have a prominent front grip, which offers a strong purchase Below-left

Good quality The sensor produces goodquality images with balanced exposures and accurate colour rendition. Shots are also suitably sharp and detailed Below-right

Shoot sharp While the Canon EOS 1200D features an anti-aliasing filter, shots are suitably sharp



Nikon D3300

Canon EOS 1200D Verdict

Technicalspecs Megapixels (effective)


Max resolution Sensor information

6,000 x 4,000 23.5x15.6mm CMOS

Lens data

By lens

Megapixels (effective)

Build quality The kit lens collapses down

Lens data

By lens

Shutter speed ISO sensitivity

A, 100-12800

Handling Touchscreen and more direct

controls could improve handling, but UI is CW, S , MM attractive and easy to navigate

Exposure modes

Max resolution Sensor information Focus/macro Shutter speed ISO sensitivity

Flash modes

A, FOn, FOff, RE, SS, FF



Weight Dimensions Batteries Storage LCD Viewfinder


Defined shots Photographs taken on the D3300 are rich in detail

460g with battery 124 x 98 x 75.5mm Rechargeable Li-ion SD, SDHC, SDXC

Quality of results Impressive, highresolution, sharp shots, packed full of detail. Exposures are also balanced

expensive than its rival, it still offers fantastic value for money

Overall The Nikon D3300 is an excellent entrylevel camera that delivers on its promise of sharper, more detailed shots. Its features also outshine the competition

Features A fair set of features, including a 1080p HD movie mode, but the Nikon does 22.3x14.9mm offer more high-end features 18

5,184 x 3,456 By lens

Build quality Feels strong and durable; it’s also lightweight but noticeably bulkier than the 30-1/4,000sec competition. Offers a good grip By lens

A, 100-6400 Auto, P,A, S, M

Metering options

CW, E, P

Flash modes

A,FOn, FOff, M, SS, RE



Dimensions Batteries Storage

3” 921k-dot OVF

Exposure modes


Value for money Although more


(expandable to ISO 12800)

Auto, P, A, S, M

Metering options


Features Includes a 24.2MP sensor, Full HD video, creative effects and a panorama mode that combines shots seamlessly

to keep it compact and it feels lightweight yet 30-1/4,000sec durable. It also offers a good grip




Handling Direct controls make setting changes quick. Lack of touchscreen capabilities lets it down slightly Quality of results Impressive for an entrylevelDSLR,buttheNikon produces sharper shots andbetterexposuresin low light

480g with battery 129.6 x 99.7 x 77.9mm Rechargeable Li-ion

Value for money With a 18-55mm kit lens included, the 1200D is an excellent investment for first-time photographers

SD, SDHC, SDXC 3” 460k-dot



Warm tones Images taken on the 1200D have a warmth that is typical of Canon


Overall Canon’s new EOS 1200D is a solid entry-level DSLR. However, when compared to the competition, it falls short in performance and features

y r a u n a J

e l a S



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Design differences At a glance, the 7D II’s design isn’t far removed from its predecessor


Mode dial Subtle tweaks on the Mark II include the addition of a locking mode dial


Built-in flash The pop-up flash has a guide number of 11 and coverage down to 15mm



SRP: £1,599 / $1,799 (body only)

Canon EOS 7D Mark II Do the improvements this update offers over the original Canon EOS 7D make it worth the long wait? The original 7D was a massive success for Canon, but at five years old, it’s due for an update. Rumours abounded – would it be full-frame? How many megapixels? What new sensor technology would it employ? Would it be a ‘mini 1DX’? It turns out that Canon took the same approach as with the 5D Mark III: a serious upgrade, with an overhaul of all the key features and specs, but no major departure from the ethos of the original. The result is a very high-end DSLR with a 20.2-megapixel APS-C sized sensor, ten frames per second, and a 65-point (all cross-type) autofocus system. Other pro-grade features include a very high level of weather sealing, 100% viewfinder and a shutter rated to 200,000 cycles. While it may not have introduced any truly cutting-edge technology, this is a much more powerful camera than its predecessor. The 7D Mark II feels solid and well built, with a comfortable hand grip and rubber coating. At first glance, it looks very similar to its predecessor, with just a few minor button changes. It actually looks almost identical to the 5D Mark III, with just one major difference: the addition of a small switch around the joystick, used for toggling between different AF setups, though it can be customised for other functions such as ISO selection. Given the similarity, there are no surprises when it comes to handling. The ergonomics of the 7D Mark II are excellent. Canon users will be able to pick it up and start shooting with no more than a cursory glance at the manual, and those coming from other systems shouldn’t take long to get to grips with it.

Buttons are well placed, so the main controls can be reached without any awkward changes of hand position, while the menu – although comprehensive – is relatively easy to navigate. As with other Canons, the Favorites menu is useful for accessing frequently used items, and a high degree of customisation of the external controls is available via custom functions. In use, the camera works extremely well and the improvements from the original 7D are noticeable. Autofocus locks on quickly and tracks subjects well. For Live View and video, it also employs on-sensor phase detection AF – which is responsive and accurate – but in stills shooting, locks once the shutter is pressed. Combined with the 10fps drive speed, all this makes it an excellent choice for sports and action photography – even a viable alternative to the bulkier and more expensive 1DX. However, the 7D Mark II shouldn’t be pigeonholed as an action camera, as it’s far more versatile than that, offering enough resolution and overall image quality to make it an excellent all-rounder. The LCD is clear and easy to read even in bright sunlight, thanks to the air-gapless design that reduces reflections. However, it is fixed, which is slightly disappointing, as articulated or tilting screens can benefit handling and are starting to feature on high-

end cameras. Neither does the LCD feature touchscreen capabilities. Touchscreens are not to everyone’s taste, but some users find them extremely useful, and you can always turn the feature off if you don’t get on with it. It’s something that many users would like to see trickle up from Canon’s entry-level DSLRs. As the pixel count is the same as the 70D, the natural assumption is that it uses the same sensor. Canon, however, claims that the sensor is newly developed and offers improved clarity over previous sensors. It’s probably fair to say that there has been an incremental increase in image quality. Resolution is high and large prints are certainly possible. Shadow detail is also slightly improved – compared to other Canon sensors, there is slightly less shadow noise overall and certainly less banding or pattern noise. This results in a slight increase in usable dynamic range, though Canon still has some ground to catch up here when compared to other sensors. High ISO is excellent. The standard range tops out at only ISO 16000, but of more relevance is at what point noise makes the image unusable. ISO 3200 is perfectly usable without any noise reduction, even shadow areas being relatively clean, and with appropriate noise reduction, 6400 and even 12800 can be used. Very impressive.

“Canon took the same approach as with the 5D Mark III: a serious upgrade, with an overhaul of all the key features and specs”




While it has the same megapixel count as the 70D, the 7D Mark II’s newly developed sensor offers improved image quality.

This new control allows users to toggle through AF area selection modes, but can be customised for other functions.

The AF system is complex, but easy to configure via six ‘cases’, which can all be tweaked to suit subjects and shooting styles.




The depth-of-field preview button has been moved to a more user-friendly position, so it can be operated by the right hand.

You can do basic processing to RAW files in-camera, including adjustments to brightness, white balance and picture style.

The 7D Mark II has a CF card and an SD card slot; some would prefer two CF card slots, but this would add bulk to the camera.





Gapless technology means the rear LCD is clear, bright and easy to see

The Q button allows quick access to important functions and parameters

PICTURE STYLE BUTTON Gives direct access to picture styles, multiple exposures and in-camera HDR



The control layout will be familiar to users of the 5D Mark III and original 7D

Can be set to zoom straight in to 100% in playback to quickly check sharpness

“There is a slight increase in usable dynamic range, though Canon still has some ground to catch up here” One area of concern is white balance. Compared to identical shots taken on the same settings with a 5D Mark III, it consistently turned out results that were too warm, with muddy-looking blues and a faint sepia look. This occurred on auto white balance and presets. It was a problem that was easy to correct when processing RAW files, but could have an impact on JPEGs. While it’s tempting to assume that the professionals and enthusiasts at whom this camera is aimed will be mostly shooting RAW, there are pro users who need good JPEGs – newspaper photographers on tight deadlines, for example. Despite this, the 7D Mark II remains a very good camera. The fact that Canon has stuck with an APS-C sensor for this upgrade will suit many of the target users such as sports and wildlife photographers. Those currently shooting with the original 7D, or another crop-sensor Canon, will be well served by the upgrade as performance and usability have taken serious steps forward. In terms of AF and speed, it’s ahead of the competition. However, the lack of any serious progress in sensor design could discourage those thinking of switching from another system.




New sensor

Pro-grade features

Canon’s new sensor delivers excellent sharpness and resolution, with improved clarity and shadow detail, but a rather warm colour balance

The Canon is an excellent all-round camera, capable of delivering superb results in a wide range of shooting situations








Shadow recovery is improved. The shadows here have been lifted by +100 in Lightroom and show no serious noise.

White balance tends to be warm. Blues look muddy and images overall look faintly sepia. This is easily corrected in processing.

High ISO is excellent, as this shot at ISO 3200 demonstrates. Noise levels are low, even in the shadow areas.




The new 20MP sensor is very sharp. Plenty of detail is visible and colours really stand out from each other with plenty of clarity.

The new sensor is still a little lacking here. Even using a graduated filter, it wasn’t able to capture the highlights in this scene.

Fans of long exposures will love this camera. Exposures show great clarity and are noise free, with just a few hot pixels.

Technical specs Megapixels (effective) Max resolution Sensor information Lens data

20.2 5472 x 3648 22.4 x 15mm CMOS By lens


By lens

Shutter speed

B, 30 - 1/8000sec

ISO sensitivity

100-16000 (expandable to 51200)

Exposure modes Metering options Flash modes Connectivity

Scene intelligent auto, P, A, S, M CW, S, Partial, Evaluative E-TTL II, M, MF, Integrated Speedlite Transmitter USB, HDMI


910g (body only)


149 x 112 x 78mm

Batteries Storage

Li-ion CompactFlash + SD, SDHC, SDXC

LCD Viewfinder

3” OVF

Verdict Features The 7D Mark II is a highly specified camera, with many pro-level features, but could benefit from the addition of a tilting screen and touchscreen functions Build quality No complaints here. It’s a really well-built camera – reasonably compact, but solid enough to withstand professional use with excellent weather sealing Handling Canon has taken everything that’s good on the previous model and built on it. Those used to the 7D or the 5D Mark III will appreciate the similarity Quality of results A very solid performance. Excellent AF and accurate metering, but there were issues with white balance and dynamic range is still a little lacking Value for money It’s not a cheap option for an APS-C camera – the full-frame 6D can be found for less – but it does have a very high level of specification

Overall Canon’s second iteration of its ever-popular 7D is a very strong release, building on its predecessor’s good points. The 7D Mark II provides a very high level of specification and near-professional feature set in a reasonably compact and affordable body



SRP: £700/$800 (with 12-32mm lens)

Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GM5 The petite GM5 is the smallest of its kind – let’s see how it measures up The DMC-GM5 has been hailed as the world’s smallest interchangeable lens camera with live viewfinder. It’s an update to the 2013 GM1, so does share a lot of the same features and specs. There have however been some improvements, most noticeably the decision to omit the built-in flash in favour of an EVF and hotshoe plate. The GM5 is attractively designed and it certainly feels durable in hand. The addition of the magnesium alloy top plate, along with a leather-like chassis, gives it a high-end appeal. Of course it is compact, but the conveniently

positioned thumb grip at the back does give you a fair purchase and there’s an optional front hand-grip accessory available if needed. The button and dial layout on the GM5 is easy to navigate and we found the customisable buttons on the body and within the touchscreen display made the camera even easier to use. The 3-inch LCD also aids handling, as it’s possible to change your focus point quickly at the tap of a finger and even release the shutter. Although an articulated screen would have been welcome, we did find the GM5’s fixed LCD suitably bright and very

intuitive when in use. The additional EVF also came in handy when composing in bright conditions, although we did find the eye sensor a little hasty to switch between the rear screen and viewfinder display at times. The camera’s overall performance on test didn’t let us down. As expected from a Panasonic model, the GM5 was lightningquick to focus, thanks to its superb contrast AF system and the available 23 focus points. The camera even includes focus peaking and zebra pattern to help ensure accuracy and pin-sharp results.






The same 16MP Live MOS image sensor and processor as the GM1 guarantees superb, high-quality captures.

The GM5 can come with a 12-32mm kit lens. Its Micro Four Thirds mount supports both Panasonic and Olympus lenses.

The camera offers a 23-point contrast detection AF system with peaking and zebra pattern technology for assured accuracy.


Compact design Even with collapsible kit lens attached, the GM5 will fit in small bags or coat pockets


High image quality There’s plenty of detail packed into shots and colours appear true to life

Technicalspecs Megapixels (effective) Max resolution Sensor information

16 4592 x 3448 17.3 x 13.0mm Live MOS

Lens data

By lens


By lens

Shutter speed


ISO sensitivity

A, 100-25600

Exposure modes

Auto, P, A ,S, M

Metering options

M, CW, S

Flash modes

A, RE, Fon, Foff, SS



Weight Dimensions

211g 98.5 x 59.5 x 36.1mm


“There’s even a compatible Panasonic Image app for iOS and Android devices, so you can control the camera remotely” Test shots on the whole were of a fantastic quality – not surprising since the GM5 shares the same sensor and processor as the GM1. Up close, there’s plenty of detail throughout all images, and colours are accurately represented with true-to-life tones. The GM5’s auto white balance setting did a great job at eliminating colour casts, while its multi-pattern metering system ensured even exposures. The ever-so-slightly extended sensitivity range of ISO 100-25600 was also on point. We found the GM5 worked well in low light and even though noise does begin to creep at ISO 1600, it was negligible, so overall image quality wasn’t compromised till well past the ISO 3200 point. We were also impressed by the camera’s creative features. There’s a fantastic selection of digital filters, which can be used in auto, semi-auto and full manual mode. You can even experiment and apply some of the filter effects when shooting a panorama or recording a video in the full HD movie mode.

Keeping up with the competition, the GM5 also comes with Wi-Fi capabilities, enabling you to share shots instantly online. There’s even a compatible Panasonic Image app for iOS and Android devices, which means you can control the camera and shoot remotely from your phone. You’ll need to be mindful of the GM5’s somewhat low battery life (approximately 210 images when using the back LCD), however, as it will drain quickly when Wi-Fi is in use. Overall we were impressed by the GM5’s performance as well as its fantastic set of features. Although petite, it’s perfectly capable of capturing high-quality images using both basic and advanced controls, so will suit a vast range of consumers. The price point is perhaps a little high for such a small mirrorless system, but in our tests the GM5 proved it’s no lightweight and given that there’s an established and still growing range of compatible Panasonic and Olympus optics available, it will make a good investment.



LCD Viewfinder

3” EVF, 1,166K

Verdict Features A fantastic array of features for enthusiasts and pros, including creative filters, advanced settings, Wi-Fi, an EVF and a hotshoe for flash and accessories Build quality With a durable build and attractive design, it’s likely to last. Although well made, we would have liked to of seen an articulated LCD included for the price

Handling Large hands may struggle with the smaller buttons and dials when adjusting settings, but the additional touchscreen does improve handling somewhat

Quality of results All-round superb quality captures due to its 16MP Live MOS image sensor. Test shots were clear and crisp with plenty of detail and accurate colours

Value for money Pretty expensive for a small mirrorless camera when you include the kit lens. However, there’s a good range of features and lens options available

Overall You couldn’t get a camera more compact than the LUMIX DMC-GM5, with its interchangeable lens design, large image sensor and built-in EVF. While it may appear small, however, we found that it delivers on all its big promises




There’s a built-in 1,166K-dot EVF with eye sensor and a hotshoe that’s compatible with the bundled flash or other accessories.

The free Panasonic Image app (iOS or Android) allows you to adjust settings and use your phone as a remote to shoot hands-free.

Low in size and weight, the GM5 has a modern retroinspired design. It comes in two versions: black or black with red leather-like chassis.




SRP: £849 / $999

Fujinon XF 10-24mm F4 R OI Kevin Carter judges whether Fujinon’s latest ultra-wide-angle constant f4 aperture lens is worth splashing out on Fujifilm’s range of mirrorless cameras are good – very good, in fact – but most judge a system by the lenses. Fuji’s proprietary lens maker, Fujinon, is one of Japan’s most respected and it continues to impress with a range of high-quality primes and sensible zooms. This model has the angle of view of a fullframe 15-35mm yet smaller and lighter, and it boasts optical stabilisation. Although compact, it’s still quite large on a small body like the XE-2 and as a result it will block a good deal of the optical viewfinder of the X-Pro1. On the plus side the build is high. Like others in the range, external components are made from metal, including the silky-smooth clickstopped aperture and focus rings, while the zoom collar is covered in a comfortable rubberlike material, but it feels better put together. It’s let down by an overly stiff zoom ring, but that might be different on other copies. However, autofocus is fast, smooth and quiet while the fly-by-wire manual focus is quite usable. Some slight field curvature is apparent at the shorter end at wider apertures, but images are pin-sharp from the initial aperture. Ultra-wide zooms like this, with their large objective lens, are usually prone to flare and ghosting, but this lens, with its HT-EBC coating, is well behaved. Pronounced distortion is corrected in out-ofcamera JPEGs and when using popular RAW converters, but it’s to be expected these days and helps keep both the cost and size down.



Curved lines Sadly the realistic colour renditions can’t make up for the frustrating distortion

Technicalspecs Manufacturer Model Web Elements/construction Angle of view

Fujinon XF 10-24mm F4 R OIS 14 / 10 100 - 54.4 degrees (horizontal)

Max aperture


Min aperture


Min focus distance Mount Filter size

0.24m Fujifilm X 72mm







Summary While it is a generally good performer, some niggles with build and field curvature dampen our initial enthusiasm for the new Fujinon XF 10-24mm F4 R OI lens


SRP: £479 / $599

Canon EF 24-105mm f3.5-5.6 IS STM


Light the scene The lens works well for stills, but in video scenes it’s unexpectedly bright

Canon is adding a more accessible range of STM-type lenses to its EF range Canon already offers a stabilised 24105mm zoom as an L series model with an f4 constant aperture – at more than twice the price of this new model. As a video-oriented model it would have made more sense to have a fixed maximum aperture to prevent exposure and depth of field issues when zooming, but it’s not an issue at f5.6 or above. At least the inclusion of STM steppertype AF motor delivers smooth, near-silent focusing but some subtle exposure shifts were noticeable in video clips when using the rearbutton AF on the EOS 5D Mark III. That’s rather odd given the target audience, but on the other hand, there was no such issue with manual focus and there were no real shortcomings with the optical quality. While it’s true that it’s a better performer in terms of sharpness at shorter focal lengths, both distortion and chromatic aberration are satisfyingly low.

Technicalspecs Manufacturer Model

Canon EF 24-105mm f3.5-5.6 IS STM



17 / 13

Angle of view

74-19.2 degrees (horizontal)

Max aperture


Min aperture


Min focus distance




Filter size








Summary Optical quality isn’t bad at all, but slight brightness changes when using AF during video capture is a surprise

SRP: £589 / $699

HD Pentax DA 21mm f3.2 AL Do HD coatings to Pentax’s upgraded DA-Limited range of primes make a difference? This little 32mm FOV-equivalent pancake received new high-definition coatings when Ricoh took over the Pentax brand. While there’s been a change in the cosmetic appearance, however, changing the distinctive green ring around the barrel to orange, it’s hard to tell them apart looking at the results. This new model has high-perceived sharpness centrally, and the attractive drawing style reminiscent of the firm’s best mediumformat lenses. It’s also beautifully made with a metal barrel, milled focus ring and machined cap plus a gorgeous cut-out hood. Autofocus is swift and assured, and manual focus is a delight. There’s some vignetting and a little barrel distortion, but chromatic aberration and flare are both well controlled.


Built to last The lens is solidly built, with a metal barrel, a milled focus ring and a machined cap

Technicalspecs Manufacturer Model Web

Pentax HD Pentax DA 21mm f3.2 AL Limited



Angle of view

60.3 degrees (horizontal)

Max aperture


Min aperture


Min focus distance Mount Filter size

0.2 m Pentax KAF 49mm







Summary Solid build and good central sharpness with an attractive drawing style, this upgraded lens remains a reliable choice



SRP: £58 / $80 OS: Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8 / Mac OS X 10.7.3+

AfterShot Pro 2 An editing solution that promises to speed up your RAW processing – the question is, does it work? Corel’s AfterShot Pro 2 sells itself on non-destructive editing and superspeedy processing of RAW files thanks to a move to 64-bit code. Let’s deal with the latter first; it is indeed a speed demon. Put AfterShot Pro 2 and Lightroom in a race and the former will win. Browsing images is also a delay-free experience, meaning you spend less time waiting and more time editing. When it comes to non-destructive editing, any changes you make are saved alongside the original image in an XMP file. This applies whether you are working on a database you have imported or directly from your computer’s disk. While it is true you can just duplicate an image in your current editor, AfterShot Pro 2’s automatic duplication is one less thing to think about. It also enables you to create and compare multiple versions of an image, in addition to stacking all variations together. The adjustments reside in panels on the right of the screen, and cover expected suspects such as curve adjustments, exposure tweaks,

and colour corrections. Apply corrections image-wide or use the layers and selections for more controlled edits. The layers are a little quirky – there are Adjustment layers and Heal/ Clone layers. You get one Heal/Clone an image, but as many Adjustment layers as you like. The new Local Contrast control is really good for enhancing details and a new algorithm for reducing noise is a welcome addition. The other edits are applied quickly and deliver good results. However, the software can be a bit temperamental – the Ctrl/Cmd+Z undo function doesn’t always work. Also, when zoomed in and selecting, you can’t click and drag to navigate around the image. Both are intuitive functions for users and their poor performance puts a kink in workflow. It’s hard not to compare AfterShot Pro 2 with Lightroom. Edit-wise, the two match up well, so the choice comes down to personal preference. In terms of speed, AfterShot Pro 2 eeks ahead, but the little foibles such as having to select the Pan tool when selecting makes it less smooth than the Adobe equivalent.

Summary Ease of use Value for money Features Quality of results

Overall It’s easy to classify Corel as the runner-up when it comes to anything Adobe does, but the fact is AfterShot Pro 2 will please plenty of people


Standard tools The selection of tools within the interface let you perform meat-and-potatoes tasks, such as crop, straighten and red-eye removal


Selection control The selection tools have a quirky way of adding feather – scroll up or down to increase or decrease


Add layers Make precise edits to areas by employing layers. You have two types – one for adjustments and one for heal or clone tasks


Apps Lensical Price: Free OS: iOS 7.0+

The quest for everinventive selfies continues and Lensical hopes to make that job easier. The real draw is the effects that can be added to images, such as moustaches, bald heads, making someone look old… all before being shared on all the usual social platforms, of course.

Album App Price: Free OS: iOS 5.0+ (iPad only)

SRP: £30 / $47 OS: Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8 / Mac OS X 10.6

Photomatix Essentials 4 Delve into the world of HDR edits with this dedicated piece of software It might seem a waste to bother with bespoke software for merging bracketed photos, but if you enjoy creating HDR images, the time spent twiddling with options in Photoshop can soon add up. Therefore, a tailored solution, such as Photomatix Essentials 4, is just the ticket. Once you’ve picked your shot, you are taken to the main interface with your merged image front and centre. There are various presets, ranging from straightforward conversions to wild extremes of tone and colour. Essentials 4 introduces a Tone Mapping method that preserves details in highlights and shadows, found in the Balanced and Vibrant presets. Once a preset is applied, the Settings area enables you to control it. These vary depending on the preset, and are essential because the presets don’t always look right first time. One thing to note about the settings – unless you alter the option in Preferences, you won’t see the preview change as you move the slider unless you click. When you start to adjust an image, it can feel as though you are searching for an HDR needle in the haystack, as all the presets and options take time to work through. Once you get used to what effect sits where, however, you will find this software saves a lot of time.

Arrange and present your images in an album with this iPad app. You can import, twist and display shots, as well as use the editing tools to perform any tweaks. Once you’ve completed the album, share the results on Facebook, Twitter or by emailing pages.

LightTrac Price: £2.99 / $4.99 (iOS) £3.99 / $4.99 (Android) OS: iOS 7.0+, Android 1.6+


Try monochrome Don’t get caught up in concentrating on colour – the black-and-white options are a welcome addition, leading to some truly stunning results

Summary Ease of use Value for money Features Quality of results

Overall A speedy solution to creating HDR images. It can take a while to work through all the options in Photomatix Essentials 4, but the results are definitely worth it

This app enables outdoor photographers to precisely track the position of the Sun and the Moon, and therefore plan the optimum time to get the lighting they want. You can do this for any time and also see what the length of shadows will be. A perfect planning app.

B&W Lab Price: £1.49 / $1.99 OS: iOS 6+

The aim of this app is simple and true – convert your images to black and white. To help you achieve this in the best way, it has film presets for instant results as well as channel tweaks, a tone curve, shadow/highlight commands and film grain control.



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


Strobo Kit Direct to Flashgun Website: Price: £93 / $120

Lastolite’s light-modifying system comes with an adjustable flash adaptor, two gel holders and honeycomb grids. Generously, 12 colour gels are included for warming, cooling and darkening the flash; however, these can be fiddly to get into the holders. Attaching the adaptor directly to your flashgun is easier and it’s held securely in place using a magnetic connection that removes the need for extra clamps or locks. The kit’s portable size and carrying pouch means you can create dynamic flash effects on location as well as in the studio. It’s a great starter kit and offers a range of options for its price point.


Out-of-focus backgrounds Website: Price: £119 / $206

These backgrounds have been designed to create a bokeh effect in a home studio and, measuring 1.5x1.2m, they’re large enough for full-length portraits. The reversible background comes in two versions, printed with Summer Foliage/ City Lights (pictured) or Autumn Foliage/Seascape. The elasticated fabric removes all creases when stretched, but the background looks unconvincing when photographed. Collapsible down to one third of its full size with a tough bag included for easy transport, it wins on build quality and the price is fair for its size. However, you might quickly feel limited by the backdrop options.




PNY wireless media reader Website: Price: £50 (approx $80)

This portable SD card reader can be connected with up to five devices simultaneously. Compatible with iOS and Android, a free app connects the reader over Wi-Fi, and the no-frills app’s interface is easy to navigate. A five-hour

battery life is similar to competitors, providing a cable-free way to transfer files from your camera directly to a mobile device for backup, sharing or editing. The product is dearer than rivals, and a Compact Flash slot would have been welcome, but with a weight of just 94g and a smooth rubber casing, it should be handy for use on the go.


Landscape Photographer Of The Year Collection 8 Website: Price: £25 (approx $40)

Over 200 colour pages, this large-format portfolio showcases the winning images from the most popular British landscape competition. Each photo is reproduced in stunning detail, with an insightful caption that describes the story behind the picture. At the back of the book there’s also a practical section that details the techniques and equipment used by the photographers. Viewing the diverse range of subjects on offer is easy thanks to a flexible binding, and if landscapes are your passion then this book is sure to inspire your image making. The sweeping views, which range from highlands to woodlands to urban landscapes, should more than satisfy all enthusiasts.


Booq Boa Flow backpack Website: Price: £180 / $225

This 17-inch laptop backpack has been designed for creative professionals. The main compartment fits a large DSLR, along with several mid-zoom lenses, headphones and other digital gear, protecting them with a removable frame. Zippered pockets on the front, side and hip make room for small valuables and extra accessories. The comfortable Boa Flow is equipped with a Terralinq serial number to recover it if lost, and the durable nylon exterior with water-repellent coating ensures it’s built to last. The off-putting price is higher than those for similar-sized models, but the sleek backpack earns its worth with versatile storage features and a tough build.




GUIDE TO RE-CREATING JANE BOWN’S STYLE YOUR BONUS RESOURCES On FileSilo this issue, free and exclusive for our readers, you’ll find plenty of fantastic resources, including…



 68 free HDR Photoshop Actions  100 free Vibrant Vanilla Spring textures  Video workshop on reverse-engineering Jane Bown’s professional photographic style  A lesson on creating bokeh in Photoshop  Tips on turning day into night in your editing  How to create a high-key effect  Advice for adding shadows to images  Our test shots from the reviews section  Image files so you can follow our guides 112


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NEED HELPWITH THE TUTORIALS? Having trouble with any of the techniques in this issue’s tutorials? Don’t know how to make the best use of your free resources? Want to have your work critiqued by those in the know? Then why not visit the Digital Photographer Facebook page for all your questions, concerns and qualms. There is a friendly community of fellow photographers to help you out, as well as regular posts and updates from the magazine team. Like us today and start chatting! Issue 158 of Digital Photographer is on sale 12 Feb from 114

Digital photographer 157 2015