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T! I K F O

Practical advice for enthusiasts and pros


Issue 168




Expert guide to shooting your own minimalist monochrome vistas

CREATE PRESETS IN LIGHTROOM Speed up your post-production workflow with customised edits


From working with wide apertures to using natural light, learn to shoot bright



Is this full-frame fixed-lens compact worth the splurge?


© Jeremy Barrett


“We break down RAW, from how to rescue seemingly irrecoverable exposures to shooting tethered” From the start, it’s drilled into us that we must shoot in RAW. But do you actually know how to make the most of it? On p26 we break it down, from how to rescue seemingly irrecoverable exposures, to shooting tethered to speed up your workflow. Elsewhere this issue, indulge your senses with our mouth-watering feature on food photography on p46. The internet is rife with pictures of our plates, but why not step up your cuisine game with our expert advice? From lighting to professional tricks of the trade, you’ll discover how to get top-tier results. If portraits are more up your street, turn to p38 to give your natural captures a high-key look. Competitions always provide a wealth of inspirational imagery, and this issue we’ve pulled together five pages of our favourite shots from this year’s exceptional

Landscape Photographer of the Year awards. Turn to p20 and prepare to be blown away by some of the most stunning vistas this year. If there’s one lens that has the power to seduce any photographer, it’s the 35mm prime. Over on p90 we’ve pitted four ultra-fast options against one another to see which one is deserving of a space in your kitbag. Elsewhere in our reviews, we’ve put the innovative DxO ONE to the test, as well as the Leica Q and Canon PowerShot G3 X. Check out our online downloads site,, to access all our test shots, plus plenty of other goodies! We’re always excited to see what you’ve been photographing, so be sure to share your shots on our website at, as well as on our Facebook and Twitter pages. I really hope you enjoy the issue. Philippa Grafton, Deputy Editor

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Our contributors MATT BENNETT






Digital Photographer magazine’s very own Features Editor has worked as a professional photographer since his late teens, and this issue he sheds light on how to make the most from your RAW captures on p26. He also took the new Leica Q out for a spin, so turn to p98 to find out if it’s worth splashing out on.


Freelance photographer and journalist Lauren Scott is back again with a delectable, mouth-watering food photography feature on producing imagery that looks good enough to eat. With tips for lighting and expert tricks of the trade on p46, you’ll be cooking up a visual treat in no time.




Pro landscape and travel photographer Lee Frost is back this issue with a guide to capturing minimalist monochrome landscapes. On p54, discover the kit and settings you need to create your own fine art landscapes. Don’t forget to share your own captures on our gallery at!

This issue, fashion photographer Rebecca Miller has talked to us about her approach to photography, from sussing out locations and telling stories, to producing unique and thought-provoking captures. Turn to p78 to see her stunning shots of Vivienne Westwood, Ben Howard and Mumford and Sons. One of the world’s leading sports photographers and Nikon ambassador Bob Martin has revealed his ten steps to making it in the competitive field of sports photography. With over 30 years of experience, on p70 he explains how to get to the top. You’ll also discover an exclusive discount for his latest book.

KEVIN CARTER Website: Our regular lens reviewer Kevin Carter has returned in full force this issue with a high-speed 35mm lens group test. Four of the most popular primes have been pitted against each other in order to find out which one has the power to impress – turn to p90 now and find out which one comes up trumps.


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

Contents Issue 168

Your Images

Our favourite reader imagery from this issue

In Focus 14 Story Behind The Still Discover how Tanja Stumpf caught her creative portrait

16 News Learn about the latest releases and competitions in the industry

106 Kit focus Take a look at ND filters and how to make them work for you


Shooting Skills 54 Fine art landscapes Shoot and edit your own minimalist monochrome vistas

60 Master off-camera flash Get to grips with this simple technique to customise the light

Image Editing 64 Create Lightroom Presets Build your own custom edits

66 Retouch a portrait in Photoshop © Ewa Kosecka-Judin

Give your portraits a more flattering look in post-production

Go Pro 68 Career advice We shed some light on making it as a second shooter


38 Master modern high key

46 Capture stunning cuisine

Try out these tips and techniques to perfect your contemporary highkey lighting effects

Find out the ingredients you need to become a world-class food photographer now

Discover how to use RAW to take your captures to completely new heights

© Kate Hopewell-Smith

26 Harness the power of RAW

Improve your shooting and editing skills


Discover the latest cameras, lenses and much more

97 90 35mm lenses DxO ONE Which of these popular 35mms ends up on top?


See how this pocket-friendly camera fares

98 Leica Q

102 108 Canon G3 X Software

110 Accessories

Some fun yet Our views on Will this premium Superzoom, compact woo but it is a super the latest editing functional kitbag extras tools available the masses? camera?

70 Ten steps to success as a sports photographer Nikon ambassador Bob Martin shares his professional advice

74 Helpdesk Check out our tips on working with people who don’t model

Portfolio 20 LPOTY Showcase See our favourite shots from this year’s illustrious Landscape Photographer of the Year Awards

78 Soulful storytelling Fashion shooter Rebecca Miller on her big break


© Peter Eastway

Harness the power of RAW



LPOTY showcase

Capture stunning cuisine

© Olenka Kotyk

© Chris Prescott

Master modern high key




35mm lenses

Leica Q

Subscribe and save


Turn to page 62, or go online and buy direct from



THE SMALL THINGS Poland-based macro photographer Ewa Kosecka-Judin showcases her stunning portfolio of the world’s smallest beasts Ladybird A ladybird among the flowers of forget-me-nots All Images © Ewa Kosecka-Judin




Ewa Kosecka-Judin DP Gallery address: keva Day job: Pharmacist What’s your long-term photography ambition? I would like to further develop my skills in nature macro photography and also in landscape photography, [which] I became interested [in] recently. How long have you been shooting digitally? I have already been shooting digitally [for] seven years. For a long time I have been using analog cameras, then compact cameras and [I bought] my first digital camera… Three years ago. Have you been interested in macro photography for long? All my life I wanted to catch and show the macro cosmos of nature, however only owning a digital camera enabled this. What’s in your kit bag? [A] Canon EOS 60D, my favourite macro lens Sigma 150mm (f2.8) [and] also Canon varifocal lenses, macro conversion lenses, extension tubes, [a] homemade flash diffuser… Neutral density filters [and] graduated neutral density filters, which I use while making landscape pictures. I also [have] a tripod in a separate bag. What’s the most important thing to consider when shooting macro? I think that one should be patient while [shooting macro images]… And also it’s worth [remembering] to carefully look around, as sometimes even a slight change of a shot angle gives you a completely different background effect. What advice would you give to aspiring macro photographers? It’s difficult to say… I think however, that it’s worth [getting] up just before the Sun rises when the nature is [beginning to awaken], wait for the proper light and simply take pictures… Also try various camera settings, conversion lenses or extension tubes. What editing tricks do you usually use on your shots? I wouldn’t call these tricks… But basically I use [and adjust] settings [such as]… Brightness, Contrast [and] Saturation. Apart from that I try to take my pictures in the early morning or late afternoon just before the sunset, which gives you very beautiful light effects for both, the object itself and the background.

WIN! Samsung 16GB MicroSDHC PRO memory card and adapter Each issue’s reader showcase entry wins a Samsung MicroSD card plus an SD adapter, boasting transfer speeds of up to 90MB/s. For more info, visit



Should I jump? A bug from the Curculionidae family on a faded leaf Opposite-bottom

On the turn A resting hornet robberfly on the plant runner Top

Glider A butterfly from the Lycaenidae family lit with the warm afternoon Sun Middle

On poppy head A hornet robberfly waiting for its prey on the poppy head Far-right

Peekaboo, I see you! A longhorn beetle hiding behind the leaf Right

In the morning A spider in the dewdrops in the nearby meadow 11




Alexandre Barbado Image title: Indian maxakali DP Gallery address: Alexandre Barbado Taken in the Mucuri Valley, this is an Indian Maxakali, who works in an orphanage. I’m a missionary, taking doctors, dentists, food, clothing, medicine and toys to poor regions of Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay. I set up a studio in a motor home and when I get to these regions I shoot and print portraits and give them to families that are so poor that they’ve never had a photograph. Opposite-top

Victor Sinden Image title: Suma park dam DP Gallery address: Victor J Sinden I had always wanted to catch the movement of clouds. Luckily for me it was quite a windy and cloudy day. So I went to the back of our local dam in Orange, New South Wales and set up my camera and ten-stop ND filter. I came away with a few shots, but this was my favourite. I had already decided that I was going to turn it into [a] blackand-white [image]. Opposite-bottom

Artur Szczeszek Image title: Autumn avenue DP Gallery address: artursomerset Beech Avenue in Dorset, one of the best roads to photograph in England. I had only ten seconds to frame the shot as I heard a car approaching behind me. 13


STORY BEHIND THE STILL Photographer: Tanja Stumpf Website: TanjaStumpfPhotography Location: Stuttgart, Germany Type of commission: Commissioned Shot details: Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Canon EF 135mm f2.0 L USM lens at f4.5, 1/200sec at ISO 100 About the shot: There are some that say through simplicity comes great beauty and for this stunning bridal portrait by Tanja Stumpf, it’s certainly an expression that seems to hold true. “The image was taken near Stuttgart, Germany, on a remote heathland. It was really a wonderful place, [with] high grasses, meadows, trees, Sun and silence.” Stumpf says that the location was like another world and perfect for capturing this magic moment at the golden hour of sunrise. She had no idea what she was going to shoot on the day, and she feels that the setting Sun and beautiful subject were the key ingredients for creating the stunning final image. “I made the shot with a Canon EOS 5D Mark III and my absolute favourite lens, the 135mm. In order to support the naturalness of this shot, I only used a reflector,” for perfect illumination of the face. Manual exposure and white balance modes gave her full creative control. Despite keeping the shoot organic, there were a few steps taken at the editing stage to achieve such a flawless result. She enhanced the warm colouring and details in the background, “after the background was harmonious [I] started with the beauty retouch.” For Stumpf, photography is about being passionate and reacting to the scene at hand. “See and feel with your heart; that’s my recipe for magical moments.”


Beauty Stumpf wanted the entire light to be set in a way that nothing distracted from the rest of the shot, directing the viewer to the subject


All images © Tanja Stumpf



Leica goes mirrorless with new release The SL (Typ 601) delivers 24-megapixel full-frame sensor Leica has just revealed its newest offering in the form of the SL (Typ 601), a mirrorless system camera that marks “the beginning of a new era in professional photography, according to the official release. Such claims are hard to test, but the SL features a 24-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor and ISO range of 50-50000, alongside 4K video with a frame rate of 30 frames per second. As a newly developed mirrorless system, Leica has invested heavily in an electronic viewfinder (EVF), featuring what the company calls EyeRes technology. Spec-wise, the SL viewfinder boasts an impressive resolution of 4.4 million pixels, almost double that of competitors such as the Sony a7R II. You’ll also find a 2.95-inch touchscreen with a viewing angle of up to 170 degrees, that simply requires a quick tap to focus and should make menu navigation more speedy. Inside the camera itself, the Maestro II Series processor offers a 2GB buffer memory, making it possible to capture a continuous shooting rate of 11 frames per second at full 24MP resolution and video of 120 frames per second in Full HD mode. In terms of connectivity there are no major surprises, with GPS and Wi-Fi offered on-board and a new Leica SL app to enable remote control via a smartphone. In typical Leica style, the SL has a solid aluminium

body that’s chunky yet durable, which has been sealed for protection against dust, moisture and spray. With a built-in sensor cleaning function, it should certainly stand up to the rigours of professional use. Three new lenses have also been unveiled alongside the Leica SL, which are dedicated to the new camera – a 24-90mm, 90-280mm and 50mm. Users have still got a wealth of glass to choose from, however, as adapters should allow almost all Leica S, M, and R system lenses to be mounted. The SL (Typ 601) is available now, at a suggested price of £5,050/$7,450 (body only), with the lens pricing to follow soon. To find out more, visit Top

Maximum performance The Leica SL has plenty of standout features, such as a lightning-fast burst mode, top-mounted LCD display and buttonless user interface


Touch and go The SL features a 4.4-million-dot EyeRes electronic viewfinder and users can also use the 2.95-inch touchscreen to rapidly change focus and settings

A LOT TO LEICA? The SL is a substantial camera, which becomes more apparent when the 24-90mm kit lens is attached. The body alone measures 147x104x39mm, with the grip adding a 28mm to the depth and it weighs 847g.


Glass options Leica has unveiled three new dedicated lenses for the SL, but stress the camera is also compatible with R, S and M lenses via separate adapters

Other new releases... LENSBABY’S 50MM TILT LENS The Lensbaby Composer Pro II is a 50mm f3.2 metal-bodied tilt lens, which swivels on a ball and socket design. It’s compatible with the Lensbaby Optic Swap System and all major manufacturers, and available now from




Fujifilm has announced the addition of two new optical products, the FUJINON XF35mm F2 R WR lens and XF1.4X TC WR Teleconverter. Both are weather resistant and pair with the company’s X-series cameras.

Sony’s new RX1R II is a compact camera with a 42.4-megapixel full-frame sensor, a Zeiss Sonnar T* 35mm f2 lens and retractable XGA OLED Viewfinder. It’s available December 2015.


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

Zeiss unveils new optics Six manual focus lenses take centre stage of the new releases

Dorset photographer wins prestigious landscape prize Andy Farrer is the latest Take a View Landscape Photographer of the Year


Big reveals The new Milvus lens line-up currently comprises of six SLR lenses, but more focal lengths are in the pipeline for the next few years

AMATEUR PHOTOGRAPHER BEATS WILDLIFE PROS Canadian physician and amateur photographer Don Gutoski has taken the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2015 title. The controversial winner will be part of the 51st Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, open at the Natural History Museum now.


Turn to p20 to discover our favourite captures from the comp!

A wintery photograph of Britain’s coastline has won the top prize in this year’s prestigious Take A View Landscape photography competition. Andy Farrer is the ninth person to win the overall title and the huge £10,000 prize. His image was chosen from thousands of entries of Britain’s beautiful vistas, from ethereal mist-filled forests to extreme mountain biking. Charlie Waite, leading landscape photographer and founder of the awards, described the triumphant shot as “a gentle

image with a simple, effective composition that reflects the mood of a cold winter’s morning. It is believable and appealing, with the snow adding an interesting dimension to a classic scene.” All the shortlisted entries can be seen in full visual splendour on the Balcony of London Waterloo train station, where they’ll be publicly displayed from 23 November 2015 until 7 February 2016. The awards portfolio book, Landscape Photographer of the Year: Collection 9 is also available now (

Canon has recently showcased its revolutionary 250MP CMOS imaging sensor and camera at the Canon Expo in Paris, France. It can achieve an ultra-high signal readout speed of 1.25 billion pixels per second, thanks to advancements in signal circuitry.

© Don Gutoski

position as an artistic tool,” explains Christophe Casenave, product manager for Zeiss Lenses. At a glance, the lineup is wrapped in Zeiss’ signature matte black style and features an allmetal barrel construction. Only the 50mm and 85mm are completely new designs, however the others do see a number of refinements. Alongside this entirely new range, Zeiss has also released the Otus 28mm f1.4 for both Canon and Nikon. Furthermore, there’s the announcement of the Loxia 21mm f2.8 lens, expanding the choice for users of Sony’s E-mount full-frame cameras. To find out more about the new products, visit © Andy Farrer

It’s been a busy period for Zeiss and the company has just introduced their latest lens line-up, the Zeiss Milvus. Initially the family will consist of six focal lengths, including a 21mm f2.8, 35mm f2, 50mm f1.4, and the Milvus 85mm f1.4. Two f2 macro lenses, in focal lengths of 50mm and 100mm have also been announced. Zeiss is hoping that the diversity of their SLR lenses will be able to supply the right focal length for almost any application or personal preference, with manual focus offered as a distinct creative advantage. “We want to provide users with the freedom to use the focus



Bat’s Head, Dorset As well as the accolade, photographer Andy Farrer has won £10,000 for his snowy capture

Sony’s new image sensor, the STARVIS, excels in capturing images in low-light environments. The backside-illuminated CMOS sensor boasts extremely high sensitivity that can capture usable images at night, which could make it perfect for uses such as wildlife photography and surveillance.

KEEP INFORMED For more news and updates, be sure to pay a visit to our website, www., and if you’ve got a story for us, you can email us at team@dphotographer. 17


INTO THE LIGHT Photographer Kate Hopewell-Smith explains that it’s learning to read the light that marks the distinction between amateur and pro All images © Kate Hopewell-Smith


clearly remember when image making became an obsession and the discovery that people photography was to be my thing. In this early stage of the journey I carried my camera everywhere and took pictures at every opportunity. I loved every minute of it, but the resulting images were rather hit and miss because I was still in the BL phase, ‘Before Light’, by which I mean I didn’t see light at all – I just saw people and nice backdrops. I would seek out interesting backgrounds – peeling walls, accents of colour, quirky architectural elements – and I would lead my subjects to them with no real grasp of whether the light was any good or not. This is quite common for hobbyists in the digital era. These incredible computers that we now shoot with have made it far too easy to just capture moments rather than actually write or paint with light. Learning to truly see light moves you into the magical ‘After Light’ phase and worthy of the term ‘pro’. I don’t believe this is something that you can learn from books; you need to be shown in the field how it is light that makes things visible – the


beautiful light I am almost dancing intangible becomes tangible – the as I work, inspired and animated mundane becomes magical. by what is possible, with ideas Overnight, you’re haunted by and opportunities presenting light and that changes the way themselves as fast as the that you see the world. light changes. Understanding light is I’ve found that the key to essential to the success of all being able to deal with the photography, but particularly if, like PRO BIO inconsistencies of light on location me, you choose to shoot location Kate Hopewell-Smith has is to categorise it according to portraiture and predominantly use a fine art background and worked in TV marketing, the direction of the light source, natural light. Environmental portrait publishing and brand shoots are something of a lottery, consultancy before turning whether outside or indoors on her hobby into a lifestyle location. This helps me make dictated by what opportunities photography and filming decisions very quickly on where the light presents. Due to the business. She runs a to shoot and how best to direct ever-changing weather in the UK, mentoring scheme as well as regular training seminars the concept or mood to suit the my shoots always begin with an and also writes features for available light. On the occasions assessment of the light and this in a number of magazines. when the light gods are not on your turn leads me to possible locations. side, you will need to rely on another essential Light first, location second. tool – finding a strong composition. At its As I walk around making decisions on where simplest, this means having an understanding to shoot I will inevitably see something that I of how to balance all the visual elements find interesting – that is full of potential – only in a photograph, but thankfully this is to quickly discover that today is not the day something that can be learned with the help of because the light is just not going to deliver magazines and books! what I want or need it to, but when I have

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OF THE YEAR Discover some of the most captivating imagery from this year’s stunning Landscape Photographer of the Year awards


ine years in, and the Landscape Photographer of the Year awards are one the most illustrious and popular photography competitions around. Founded by iconic landscape shooter Charlie

Waite, the competition showcases some of the most glorious British vistas, from misty moors to gritty urban scenes. Read on to discover our favourites from this year’s Landscape Photographer of the Year awards. Left

Danny MacAskill on the Inaccessible Pinnacle Danny MacAskill on top of the Inaccessible Pinnacle, the most difficult to access summit of the Cuillin Ridge on the Isle of Skye © Chris Prescott

BUY THE BOOK Landscape Photographer Of The Year: Collection 9 is out now (AA Publishing, £25 The Landscape Photograph of the Year awards are held association with VisitBritain a Countryside is GREAT. For more info, see




© Andy Farrer

“As incredible as it was to see the arch of Durdle Door covered in snow, this view, looking in the opposite direction, was every bit as captivating”


Andy Farrer Image title: Bat’s Head Snow this far south on the Jurassic Coast is a fairly uncommon event and it was not until February 2015 that I managed to reach some of my favourite parts of the coast when snow had fallen. As incredible as it was to see the arch of Durdle Door covered in snow, this view, looking in the opposite direction, was every bit as captivating. The encroaching tide, revealing the warm shingle beneath, provided an enjoyable distraction. Left

Andy Tibbetts Image title: Cloud glacier As the Sun rises, a cloud inversion rolls down the glen below. A truly wild place involving a camp-out on the coldest night of the winter. Opposite

Craig Richards


© Andy Tibbetts

Image title: Summer skies You very rarely see mono images of the Milky Way, but I personally think, with the right image it can work very well. In this particular photograph, I really do like the contrast between the Milky Way and sparse sky, along with the glow of the summer sky.


© Craig Richards


© Jeremy Barrett

© Malcolm Blenkey


Jeremy Barrett Image title: Alight The Broadway Tower in the Cotswolds. After waiting through hours of heavy rain and high wind, I saw it was clearing behind the storm so I jumped out of the motor with a sturdy brolly and got set up for the light show all photographers dream of. Left

Malcolm Blenkey Image title: Infinity bridge The Infinity Bridge at Stockton-on-Tees… Its name is derived from the night illumination system, which, in calm conditions, creates the appearance of the infinity symbol when the illuminated twin arches and their reflection on the river are viewed from certain angles. Right

Justin Minns


© Justin Minns

Image title: On Dunwich Heath As I explored the tangle of undergrowth looking for an interesting composition, I noticed that the first rays of Sun had begun to melt the frost on some of the fronds, revealing the russet colours beneath glowing hotly in the Sun and I’d found my image.

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Embrace the creative potential of the pro’s file format of choice


hotography has long been thought of as being all about capturing a moment. The photographer’s job is to recognise – or create – that moment and produce a still image that encapsulates it. Before digital photography, being a photographer was, for many people, all about the moment when you press the shutter button. Further manipulation of the final image was limited to those who had access to a traditional wet darkroom and, to a large extent, the notion of photography as something that mostly happens ‘in the moment’ has endured. As a general rule, photographers like things to be as good as they possibly can be. Many photographers will happily attest that they are perfectionists who can’t rest until they have got the best possible result and the optimum quality. For most, the pursuit of premium pixel performance is the most important consideration and so, while it demands that the photographic process is extended far beyond the point of capture, the RAW file format is, for most professionals, cardinal. Of course, there are photographers who prefer the undeniable convenience and immediacy of the JPEG format. One of the arguments often mentioned by dissenters of RAW capture is that, if you understand light and know what you are doing in terms of metering, focusing and composition in-camera, then a JPEG is all you need. However, while the JPEG approach works for some, the potential of RAW goes far beyond salvaging in-camera errors and miscalculations. Over the next few pages, you’ll discover how the pros use RAW and the value it has for a professional workflow. Left

Burj Al Arab Jumeirah No matter what camera you use,there’s no better way to ensure that you get the full potential of your images than to shoot in your camera’s RAW format © Mo Aoun Ismail





A Graduated Filter has been applied to the sky in order to add discreet adjustments to this area of the image

The white balance has been changed, making the processed RAW file look very different from the JPEG

RAW ADJUSTMENT #4 The perimeter of the image has been darkened down so that the eye is drawn into the main subject matter of the frame

RAW ADJUSTMENT #2 The Adjustment brush has been used on the structure in the foreground to give it greater tonal separation from the rest of the scene



RAW MATTERS Though JPEG offers convenience, only RAW offers the quality that photographers crave Once you are used to shooting RAW, it’s fair to say that you’ll probably never look back. The level of flexibility that a RAW file offers photographers can never be truly matched by a JPEG file – or even a TIFF file. If you normally shoot in RAW with your DSLR or CSC and find yourself restricted to using JPEG only, such as when using a bridge camera, smartphone or compact, it can be quite frustrating. Some people make an association between RAW capture and a lack of technical craft behind the camera, assuming that RAW exists




Processed RAW file

JPEG file

When working from a RAW file, it’s possible to adjust the white balance, exposure and clarity in fine detail, while applying local adjustments like gradients

This JPEG file has come straight out of the camera with a certain degree of the processing decisions irreversibly applied. Information has already been discarded

RAW exposure recovery Redeem your files with the help of your RAW processor of choice

WHAT IS A RAW FILE? This is the information that’s been recorded by your camera’s sensor, delivered to you without interference by the camera – though some cameras will compress the data, losslessly.

only to rescue photographers when they are unable to light or meter a scene correctly. However, this isn’t a particularly accurate assessment at all. The bottom line is that your camera’s RAW mode offers you a means to obtain the maximum image data and information, as recorded by the sensor. Few photographers don’t covet the best cameras on the market, but to buy and use a top-end camera while not taking the time to extract the maximum quality from it’s sensor doesn’t really make a lot of sense. So why not covet RAW too? Time is a pertinent concept when discussing RAW, because there’s no question that if you shoot RAW you need to invest extra time post-capture in order to make your images shareable and ready for print. The key thing to remember, though, is that no matter what, time spent working with RAW files is time that’s extremely well spent. For example, the degree of dynamic range that you can extract from a RAW file is far in excess of what you’ll get from a typical JPEG. It’s not uncommon to be able to get as much as two extra stops out of the shadows and highlights, a difference that can make an absolutely huge impact on your final images. The range of brightness levels that a RAW file, either in 12-bit or 14-bit mode, can store is literally hundreds of times more than an 8-bit JPEG can handle – as many as 16,384 compared to just 256. In terms of colour, a JPEG carries the information for 16 million tones, while a RAW file has 68 billion. With more colours, tonal transitions are smoother, which leaves vastly more editing potential before artefacts, such as banding, start to rear their ugly head. “If you think back to the days of film, shooting JPEG is rather like taking your films to a high street lab and letting their machines make all the decisions about how your pictures should look,” says professional landscape photographer Mark Bauer (www. “You might like the results, but there’s a fair chance you won’t. RAW is much more like going into your own darkroom and making a carefully crafted hand print: you’re in total control and can get the image looking exactly how you visualised it when you pressed the shutter.”

To err is human; even the very best photographers are going to get it wrong from time to time and either under or overexpose. In the old days, photographers would either hope to be able to rescue such mistakes at the film-processing and printing

stage or would simply have to accept defeat. In these digital days, it’s very possible to rescue a problematic exposure using the Exposure, Highlights and Shadows sliders in Adobe Camera Raw, Lightroom, Capture One Pro or DxO OpticsPro.

Overexposure Overexposed In this JPEG file, the highlight detail has been lost because the image has been overexposed by using too long a shutter speed.


Highlights recovered Fortunately, a RAW file was recorded alongside the JPEG, enabling the highlights to be recovered effectively.


Underexposure Underexposed In this JPEG file, the shadow detail is obscured because the image has been underexposed by using too slow a shutter speed.


Shadows redeemed The level of detail that is able to be recovered from an underexposed RAW file (Nikon NEF, in this example) is absolutely remarkable.


Drastic overexposure Drastically overexposed In this JPEG file, the image has been extremely overexposed and is probably unrecoverable, but the RAW file was tested in Adobe Camera Raw, just in case.


RAW limits It’s not always possible to get as much back in the highlights. The colour information has been lost in this file. Many photographers err on the side of underexposure.



PROCESSING POTENTIAL Discover how much can be achieved with just a single exposure in Adobe Camera Raw Raw, is all that’s required to create a look Thanks to the wide range of controls in the that’s very different to the way file appears most popular RAW processing applications, straight out of the camera. you can produce an incredible array of What’s more, if you find a look that you different effects from a file, all the while particularly like, you can easily save it as a working completely non-destructively, with preset that you can return to at a later date your original information remaining entirely with ease, which is a massive time-saving intact, as Adrian Dewey (www.adriandewey. function for busy photographers and goes a com) explains. “One of the greatest advantages long way towards negating the oft-mentioned of RAW is the fact it is non-destructive. All objection that RAW is too slow and the information is there in the file doesn’t offer the convenience of a and you can work on this image JPEG file. until your heart’s content, and SHARPENING Although these looks are if after lots of editing you MATTERS very different, it’s often realise that you haven’t If your RAW files look a little by varying the same few quite got it right, you can soft straight out of the camera, adjustments that the diverse open the saved image and you might want to go to the effects are produced. In the work on it again, take it Detail tab in ACR and use Basic tab in Adobe Camera back to the start or tweak the Sharpening sliders. Raw, you’ll find that the White any of your processes Sharpening is very Balance, Highlights, Shadows without any quality loss. A subjective. and Clarity sliders are remarkably JPEG image loses quality every powerful. Of course, all the sliders time you open, edit and re-save. play their part, but these seem to produce This can become very noticeable if a particularly significant impact. The Tone printing the image.” Curve in Point mode is every bit as significant On the page opposite, you’ll see an example as a Curves adjustment in Photoshop, while of this in action. A single image, captured the Adjustment brush and Graduated Filters as a RAW file, has been processed in six facilitate localised enhancements that can different ways, demonstrating the way in which make a massive difference. Each of the modern RAW processors have the potential different looks took only a few minutes to to make a dramatic difference to the way produce, with the exception of the handyour image looks. The original image is a fairly colouring effect, which took slightly longer – straightforward studio shot, but a few minutes around ten minutes. in a RAW processor, such as Adobe Camera

Blend and merge exposures The latest Camera Raw in Photoshop CC offers advanced functionality If you’ve captured multiple RAW files at different exposures with the intention of merging them into an HDR composite, you can now do this directly within the Adobe Camera Raw interface. Simply select multiple files by holding Cmd/Ctrl on your keyboard and then Ctrl/right-click to reveal a pop-up window that presents the Merge To HDR option. Alternatively, you can stitch multiple frames into a panorama using the Merge To Panorama option. Below

Maximise your quality Shooting in you camera’s RAW format is the best way to ensure that you get the full potential out of your images © Mark Bauer



The original RAW file

Get creative in RAW

This is the image as originally captured by the camera, with no adjustments applied in post-production. Often with unprocessed RAW files, it looks good, but a little flat

Add unique looks to your RAW captures

Sketch This image has been processed to create a look that’s solarised yet also looks a little like a pencil sketch. A conversion to black and white in ACR was the starting point here, but the key adjustment took place with the Tone Curve. The White Balance, Exposure and Contrast sliders are all significant in creating this effect.



Go mono This is the least radical of the half-dozen different looks here, as it’s essentially a fairly standard black-andwhite conversion. The Contrast slider was pushed up to +70 to avoid a flat appearance, which undermines mono photos. In the HSL/Grayscale tab, the Oranges were brightened in order to flatter the skin.

Split tone This is really an extension of the previous look, but the black and white presentation here has been enhanced by the use of the Split Toning tab, which enables you to quickly and easily adjust the tones of the Highlights and Shadows separately and precisely. The Exposure was darkened and the Clarity slider used.

Cross process This cross-processed look was extremely popular during the Nineties and can still look appealing when used in the right context. The main colour effect is created by using the Red, Green and Blue Curves in the Tone Curve tab, as well as boosting the contrast.

Hand colour This hand-colouring effect takes a little longer to achieve, as you need to work with the Adjustment brush – selecting different colours as you go – and gradually build the final result, one area of the image at a time.

Cool and contrast This image has had micro-contrast added to it via the Clarity slider, set to +70, its global contrast has been boosted using the Contrast slider and Tone Curve. The white balance has been cooled while the Graduated Filter and Adjustment brush have been used for localised colour and luminosity adjustments.








RAW processing options

RAW colour The tonal separation that a RAW file provides cannot be matched by an 8-bit JPEG

A look the most popular RAW processing applications Adobe Camera Raw This is perhaps the most familiar RAW processor. It’s included as part of Photoshop CC and if you drag a RAW file into Photoshop the ACR interface automatically opens.

© Peter Eastway



It’s always worth keeping an eye on the histogram in your RAW processing application to ensure that you are not excessively clipping shadow or highlight detail.

Find out how professional photographers consider RAW and incorporate it into their workflows Speak to most professional photographers and you’ll discover that they almost always favour RAW, with relatively few professing to prefer JPEG. Remember, these are men and women who make their living taking photos and certainly know how to handle a camera – but they still find RAW preferable because it simply offers them greater quality, flexibility and peace of mind. It really is important not to think of RAW as a means of getting yourself out of trouble when you’ve messed up the exposure in some way. “There used to be reasons why it was more difficult to process RAW files than JPEGs, but those reasons no longer apply,” says Peter Eastway ( “It’s true that saving RAW files requires more computer processing power and storage space, but these days, this simply isn’t a problem. If your computer is less than three years old, it can handle RAW files.” The choice of RAW processor varies from photographer to photographer. Eastway’s editing tool of choice is Capture One Pro. “I use Phase One’s Capture One 8. I use it for all my files – Phase One, Canon, Fujifilm [and]


Nikon etc. I can also use Lightroom, which is essentially the same as Adobe Camera Raw. Some of my friends prefer Lightroom to Capture One, so it depends to some extent on what you like – it’s a subjective decision. However, for me, Capture One gives me richer, stronger reproductions with better blacks and a more pleasing colour rendition. It suits my style of photography better than Lightroom [or] ACR.” For pro photographer Mark Bauer, Lightroom is his preference. “I’ve used Adobe Lightroom for a number of years now,” he says. “I can do virtually everything I want within the one programme, without having to move on to Photoshop. It’s also excellent for organising and keywording images.” Although processing time can indeed be a factor when working with RAW files, for many this is often very enjoyable, as David and Janet Southard of Wild Arena (www.wildarena. com) explain. “We may be out for a day taking pictures, but then have one or two days processing those pictures – although, for some people, this part of the process gives them the most pleasure.”

Lightroom This has developed over the last few years and is now, arguably, the most popular application among many professionals. The Develop tab enables you to process RAW files similarly to ACR.

DxO OpticsPro Though most often associated with correcting lens problems such as distortion, this is also a very useful RAW processing engine that’s easy to use and offers plenty of options.

Capture One Pro This application has many passionate devotees among the pros – Peter Eastway and Tom Barnes both find that it produces results that are more pleasing than other RAW processors.




Overexposed JPEG In this image, the file has been overexposed, presenting photographer Peter Eastway with a challenge at the editing stage

Corrected JPEG It’s very difficult to restore lost highlights when all you have to work with is a JPEG file, as this example shows

Corrected RAW file Thankfully, Eastway had a RAW file of the same exposure – and the apparently overexposed highlights have been easily recovered

© Peter Eastway


This pro portrait and commercial photographer discusses how he uses a tethered setup and RAW images in his workflow

My main reason for shooting tethered is the ability to copy over the presets from image to image and to present an edited image to the client. No longer are they looking at a small preview on the back of the camera with a weird colour cast. The bonuses are plenty, but the ability to show the client an image that is close to the finished article is priceless… One of the hidden bonuses here is that you can then push the shoot a little further, as they are happy from the start!

© Tom Barnes

Tom Barnes on tethering

Get connected This is fairly selfexplanatory, but it can be a daunting task, as you need a long cable to be able to move around and you need to secure the cable to the camera, or else people will step on it and you need to protect your port. See Jerk Stopper from Tether Tools.


Tethered shooting is a little more involved than standard shooting, but on a busy commercial shoot there is no other way you can afford to shoot. I have a client monitor setup running away from the main Mac station so [they] aren’t gathered around my work area. I also have iPads setup to utilise the Capture Pilot feature of Capture One Pro, as this enables me to have image previews on the iPads. It can really make a shoot more relaxed and if they have any questions about edits you can shot them in real time – if they aren’t used to seeing this you can guarantee they’ll be impressed.

Use a tether boost If you are using a USB 3.0 camera you will want to invest in a power regulator – USB 3.0 ports no longer send a uniform voltage down the line… The powered tether boost maintains a constant 5v down the line and helps you maintain a [constant] connection.


Start software My tether software of choice is Capture One… But Lightroom also features tethered capture. If everything is connected properly then your camera will appear in the panel. You can then change all camera settings from within the software and set import presets etc.




PROCESSING A RAW FILE Professional retoucher Danny Meadows and Photoshop Creative’s Senior Staff Writer, Mark White, discuss their approaches to RAW editing Right


The original RAW file


This is the unprocessed RAW file that both Danny and Mark were given to work with


Danny’s result

© Danny Meadows

This is the final look that Danny Meadows has opted for after working with this RAW file

Danny Meadows: I’ve been solely a professional retoucher for six years and a retoucher among other titles for years more, yet choosing between RAW processors has never yielded a definitive favourite. Adobe Camera Raw is a great, solid workhorse of a program and the one I’ve chosen to use here, although for

Spot Removal ACRs Spot Removal brush is great for removing a few blemishes and marks, here I’ve quickly removed some of them along with a few stray hairs. It isn’t as versatile as Photoshop’s Clone and Heal.


Plan first Take a look over your shot and decide roughly where you want to go. Here I want to enhance the contrast between the skin tones and the blues, and bring out the makeup a little, lightening the model’s face and eyes.


Crop it The shadow in the top left corner made my decision for me here, but I think tighter framing brings more life to the shot. Your crop is non-destructive in RAW and you can always reopen the Crop tool to undo it.


Adjust tones Most of your time developing your RAW file will probably be spent in the right-hand panel creating a look for your shot. Go wild with it and experiment and don’t forget to dip into the HSL menu.


Use the Adjustment brush This enables you to paint a separate conversion over local areas. In this instance I’ve painted a slightly less exposed version in the shadows and recesses, and lightened other areas.


4 34

colour treatments and building a mood for your shots Lightroom provides a more extensive suite. As is to be expected with entirely separate software developers, the same sliders give different results and this is often the case with Capture One Pro… I’d lean towards preferring Capture One’s black-and-white conversions. Experiment a lot and see which suits your look and your style.

Sharpen This in my view should always be the absolute final step and if I’m going to be working further in Photoshop I’ll apply little to no sharpening to RAW. A high-amount, lowradius sharpening really brings out fine details.




Mark’s result This is the final effect that Mark White has produced from the original RAW file

Mark White: RAW converters enable you to get as close to the full information of your captured image as possible before you export it into a JPEG or TIFF and you can therefore be more precise with your edit and sharpen more thoroughly in a RAW converter than you can in most photo editing packages. I personally enjoy using Lightroom to edit RAW files before I make further edits in Photoshop, as the Creative Cloud allows me to easily share images between the two programs.


Auto Tone Start off by opening Lightroom and clicking on the Library tab. Select the photo you wish to edit and click the Auto Tone option. This will set a basic touch-up for your photo before you begin tweaking it.


Make basic tweaks Give your picture some rudimentary edits, such as Temperature, Tint, Exposure and Contrast. By making these simple edits to start with, you can determine the mood of your picture.

Deeper control Edit a little further with the next few sliders, as you scroll down on the right-hand side. Here, add a little tone to the portrait by moving the Vibrance down to -26, Saturation up to +38 and Blacks to -62.

Change the tone The Tone Curve is a simple and visual way to alter the mood of any picture using a histogram. I’ve moved the Highlights to +3, Lights to -13, Darks to -30 and Shadows to -15 to darken the image.


Work on the colour The HSL setting of Lightroom is one of the most creative; turn Reds down to -20, Orange to +20, Purple to -100 and Magenta to +100 to equalise the colour in the picture and bring out the lips.




Sharpen Go to the Detail tab to add a little sharpening. We’ve sharpened to the max, sliding each of the possible variables all the way to the right – should your portrait have a little more blur, you can choose to tweak these.





JPEG architecture This JPEG looks flat. There’s also missing highlight detail. Adjusting the colour and the exposure in Photoshop is problematic


RAW equivalent

A closer look at how RAW files can get the very best from your images The big difference with RAW is the ability to change colours effectively. Eastway says that colour is one of the main reasons why he favours RAW. “All of the editing tools can be applied equally to RAW and JPEG files. The difference is in how the files respond to your changes. A great example is colour balance. To change the colour balance in a JPEG can be a struggle, especially with mixed light sources and it can seem impossible to get just the right colour no matter how careful you are with the sliders. The problem lies within the JPEG file itself – it doesn’t have enough information to enable the changes. The same adjustments applied to a RAW file can produce far superior results, simply because the RAW file has more information to work with, whereas the JPEG has thrown a lot of its information away.” Mark Bauer agrees. “With JPEGs, there’s a severe limit to what you can achieve with colour balance,” he says. David and Janet Southard summarise the RAW advantage quite neatly. “I think, for us, there are two main advantages to RAW… It gives us the ultimate scope in terms of flexibility in our image processing. With no ‘baked in’ parameters at the point of file creation the RAW file leaves the camera with 100 per cent of the possible data available making it ideal for enabling options afterwards. [Additionally], RAW files are theoretically more future proof. With a file that contains all the possible data at its conception, you are always able to revisit processing the image in the future, possibly with fresh ideas or improved software. Who knows what options we will DP have in ten years!”

Maximise editing potential Even if you don’t intend to edit in RAW, you can still use your RAW processor to increase the possibilities you have in Photoshop If you want to work on a file in Photoshop, with access to Layers and the multiple Tools and Filters available within that application, you might want to consider flattening out your image in your RAW processor. Essentially, this simply means maximising the shadow and highlight detail that’s present in the file, leaving you plenty of room for further experimentation. Keep an eye on the histogram and use this as a guide.


Making adjustments to the RAW file, particularly the White Balance to correct the colour and some work on the highlights, improves it greatly


Unedited RAW file This unedited RAW appears to be missing highlight detail and it’s a little cold – problems that are hard or even impossible to redeem in JPEG format


Detail recaptured


It’s amazing how much detail is actually present in the water once some highlight recovery has been performed

Another advantage of RAW is the ability to choose the colour mode, whether that’s sRGB, Adobe RGB 1998 or Pro Photo RGB, when it comes to outputting your file from your RAW converter.








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Try new techniques for beautiful portraits, still life, landscapes and more with these high key tricks and tips


roducing bright, bold and striking imagery will enhance any portfolio and high-key photography is the perfect solution. Although originally used to solve problems with displaying high contrast ratios on screens, it is now used in modern photography for producing high-end and stylised imagery. The high-key style is usually characterised by bright tones, a lack of shadows and contrast as well as blown out backgrounds. However, there’s more to high key than deliberately over exposing a scene. The resulting images can be a way of injecting life into a wide variety of subjects and this genre lends itself to lighthearted and upbeat scenes, depicting fresh and happy subjects – the exact opposite to low-key photography.


The style works particularly well when shooting portraits as it enables you to highlight specific features – most effective are the eyes – resulting in a more dynamic and dramatic look. The great thing about shooting high key is that you can use almost any kind of camera, but for many of the subjects in this feature, you’ll want a lens that is capable of shooting at wide apertures and a camera that can shoot in RAW. Over the next few pages discover the essential kit that you’ll need in order to begin shooting high-key imagery. Including how best to utilise your lighting gear to produce your best and brightest imagery yet. We’ll also cover composition, focusing and metering. Not only that, but we have provided some key editing tips and professional portrait photographer Kate Hopewell-Smith shares her advice.


Picture perfect Portraits make a good subject for high-key work, enabling you to concentrate on the subject’s features



TECHNIQUES HOME SETUP All you need for a shot like this is your subject, a white plate and a large piece of white paper for the background

MINIMAL TONES High-key images are usually characterised by minimalist tones, so look for still-life subjects that follow this trend


EXPOSURES Discover what you need to begin creating a high-key effect As already discussed, high-key images tend to have bright tones and very few shadows or dark areas. If you were to look at a high-key image’s histogram, you would see that the exposure is weighted heavily to the right-hand side of the graph. It’s likely that you will already have everything that you need in your kit bag to get started and with some experimentation you’ll be producing striking captures in no time. As this technique is all about letting lots of light in, you’ll want to use a lens that is capable of shooting at wide apertures. This is especially true for portraits, still life and some outdoor shots, such as singular flowers, where you want to isolate the subject from the background. Any lens that shoots at a wide aperture is good, but the wider the better. Something that can shoot at f1.4 or f1.8, like a 50mm prime, is a good choice. An 85mm f1.4 lens is excellent for portraits too. For high-key landscapes, though, the lens you use doesn’t necessarily have to open so wide as medium and narrow apertures will work well here, a wide-angle zoom is ideal. Shooting in high key is also a great opportunity to experiment with using different metering methods – spot metering from a specific point in your scene to overexpose other areas is one way to achieve a high-key look, for instance. Any DSLR or CSC camera will generally be the best option for shooting high-key imagery, but many other cameras that give you control over exposure and shutter speed, and can shoot in RAW, are fine too. Shooting in Aperture Priority mode is best, as controlling depth of field is important.


SHALLOW DEPTH OF FIELD By shooting at a wide aperture, such as f1.4, you can really isolate the subject from the background even further, picking out a specific detail

Key kit for high key Get started with some relatively basic kit CHOOSE A LENS



Using a shallow depth of field works particularly well for many high-key subjects, so it’s great if you have something that is capable of wide apertures such as a 50mm f1.4, or an 85mm f1.4.

A tripod is extremely handy. Your aim is to let as much light in as possible, so often long exposures are needed. Using a tripod means you can also adjust subject without changing the framing.

Pick up a reflector to help with high-key portraits as well as high-key still-life shots. A reflector that is reversible and has silver, white and gold sides, is great for experimenting with for variety.


Meter for high key

© Amy Davies

Landscape and architecture scenes benefit from a metering trick to blow out the background

STANDARD ISSUE In this shot taken in Chicago, the Sun was behind the buildings. The camera, set to multi-matrix, or evaluative metering has taken an average reading of the whole scene to produce this shot. There’s some detail lost in the buildings, but the sky

© Amy Davies

retains a blue colour.


EXPOSURE COMPENSATION An alternative to using spot metering is to use exposure compensation. You can dial in positive compensation to around +1 or +2 to trick the camera into overexposing.

The abstract nature of some architectural features make them great subjects for high key. Here, by switching to Spot Metering and taking a Above


Dreamy look

Shoot wide

Shooting flowers outside with a high-key technique gives your shots an ethereal, dreamy look

Set a wide aperture, such as f1.4, f1.8 or f2.0 to isolate your subject from the background

reading from the building itself, the sky becomes blown out and creates an almost monochromatic image. There’s more detail in the building and the whole scene becomes more interesting.

Go wide Using a shallow depth of field works great with high-key images, so pack your primes and open up

Distracting elements Using a narrow aperture, such as f10, enables you to get more of the image in focus, but it can sometimes make for a messier composition overall, especially when shooting a still life in high key.

Experiment In this image, shot at f4, we’re getting closer to the look we want. There is more focus on the flowers at the front of the shot. Place the camera on a tripod, arrange the composition and adjust the aperture.

Softly softly Here, the overall image is much softer, which is what we want. The flowers in the background are almost completely blurred out, but there’s still a hint of them and the flowers at the front are the main focus.





FOCUSING PROBLEMS When working with very wide apertures, depth of field is extremely restricted. A slight movement from your portrait sitter after you have locked focus can result in missed focus.

For a perfect high-key you’ll need to make some key decisions about composition and colour A variety of things make for good high-key subjects, but that’s not to say that you don’t need to spend some time refining the look of your images through compositional decisions and thinking about the colour palette. Generally speaking, small details work well for high-key images, as well as mainly bright or light tones. If you’re working at home with stilllife subjects, the good news is you’ve got lots of scope to experiment – for instance you could try different coloured backgrounds. Overall you’re aiming for something, which has a lighter background than the subject itself, or you could use white and completely blow the background out. For your subject, try to choose something, which works well with the background you have – bright colours are great, but softer, pastel shades tend to


look especially good. You can even try placing a white subject on a white background for a more abstract feel. If you’re working with still-life subjects at home, it’s a good idea to place your camera on a tripod. That way you can move the subject around the frame, adjust backgrounds and so on without having to alter the framing of your image all the time. It also enables you to keep sensitivity low, ISO 100-400 ideally, and shutter speeds fairly lengthy to let the most possible light in. When shooting landscapes, look for scenes with as few colours and distracting elements as possible – beach scenes are great, or even wild flowers contrasted against a blank sky. Your mantra should be minimalism is best when thinking about creating high-key scenes.


Pick a detail By choosing a simple detail from your subject, such as a singular petal to focus on and by shooting wide open, you can create a more dynamic image


Move your subject Once you’ve found a subject you like and paired it with a background, you can start experimenting. Awkward angles or placing it in an unnatural position can produce nice results


Let there be light Use light from a window for a simple lighting set up for high-key portraits

Choose your window Look for a window that is free of clutter and allows your subject to move around freely. Try to move curtains or furniture out of the way as much as possible, or incorporate them into the framing of your subject if you can.


Set exposure If you expose for the whole scene, you’ll usually find that the bright light from the window throws your subject into darkness. Instead, expose for the subject by dialling in some positive exposure compensation to ensure correct exposure.



Experiment with compositions Once you have the exposure sorted, you can experiment with model poses and compositions. You should try tightly framing the face, or asking the model to pose side on to the window.

Take care with skin tones Shooting high-key images can play havoc with key areas of the photo When you are overexposing deliberately and/or photographing your subject in backlit conditions, it’s easy to accidentally spoil some of the most important aspects of the subject’s tonality – in the case of a portrait, the subject’s skin needs particular care and attention. While a little bit of overexposure is often flattering, smoothing out flaws and imperfections, sometimes you can end up with the outline of the face and the skin tones being slightly obscured. However, this doesn’t look nearly as unattractive if you use a wide aperture to create a shallow depth of field, so the transitions between the overexposed and correctly exposed areas are gentler.

Eyes on the prize Focusing and recomposing can be tricky when working with wide apertures One of the most crucial aims with high-key lighting is to let in as much light as possible. Therefore, you’ll often find yourself using the more sensitive central points on your sensor, and using a focusing and recomposing technique to get the shots you want – especially if shooting high-key portraits. When you’re working with a wide aperture to achieve a shallow depth of field effect, it’s especially important to get focusing spot on as it can drastically alter the look of the final image. That’s especially true for portraits where a misstep in focus can lead to out of focus eyes – usually the most important part of any portrait. There are a few steps you can take to help ensure that your high-key portraits are always looking their best.


Use the central points as they are usually the most sensitive and will let the most light in.


First lock on focus on your subject’s eye – if their head is angled, choose the eye closest to you. Half press the shutter to hold the focus and exposure for the eye. Make sure focusing mode is set to Single-AF and not Continuous or AI Servo mode, as the camera will refocus as you move the camera. Alternatively you can use the A-EL button on most cameras to lock focus and exposure.



Move the camera to place the subject where you want them in the frame. When you’re happy with how it looks, fully depress the shutter release.




How the pros shoot 4x © Kate Hopewell-Smith

We asked Kate Hopewell-Smith how high key plays a part in her beautiful wedding and portrait work

If you use the same technique across a number of images, they will work well together as part of series or set. For portraits, look for a location, that will enable you to capture flare and a light colour palette.


Backlighting Kate Hopewell-Smith loves to shoot into the light, resulting in light, airy and neutrally toned portraits for couple shots. Shot at f4 in natural light


Renowned wedding and portrait photographer, and Nikon UK ambassador, Kate Hopewell-Smith (www. often uses a high-key effect in her work, which is not usually shot in a studio. She says, “Although the term high key isn’t often used to describe location portraiture, it is still very relevant to photographers like me who work predominantly with natural light. When I shoot in flat front light I often suggest neutral or light wardrobe choices and then seek out tonally light backgrounds, which will still allow people to stand out in the frame. I also love to shoot into the light and by their nature these images are often biased towards the highlights – both in terms of the rim light and also the tone and exposure of the sky.” Kate believes that portraits work so well with this look because many of her clients love the painterly, pastel palette that often results from shooting subjects in this way. “Everyone loves backlit portraits,” she explains. “They result in a wonderful feeling of summer and warmth regardless of what time of year they are shot.” For those looking to replicate a high-key effect, she has some tips. “Spend some time looking at Pinterest to see what kind of colour palettes lead to these gentle images and then plan a shoot around it. It’s a little trickier for backlight – you really need to understand exposure and how your cameras meter so that you can dial in one to two stops of exposure necessary to lift the shadow detail – which in this case will be skintone. It is also usually necessary to add additional light to backlit imagery – either through the use of reflectors, on-camera fill flash or location lighting.”


Summer portraits The child’s light clothing works well with the light colours of her surroundings to create a summery feel. Shot at f4 at 180mm in natural light


Stand out details A high-key look really enables certain details to pop, such as the girl’s eyes here. Shot at f2 in natural light





Discover how to give your images a summery glow

Learn how to use a reflector for different high-key portrait looks

When shooting high-key landscape subjects, incorporating some lens flare can add a point of interest and give a sunkissed feel to your shots. Look for minimalist scenes where you can place the subject against the sky – the best time to shoot is just before sunset. Go against every rulebook you’ve ever read and shoot directly into the Sun, with a mid-wide aperture and a slow shutter speed. Alternatively, shoot in aperture priority to set a wide aperture and set exposure compensation to +2 or above.

A reflector is an extremely simple piece of kit that can make a huge amount of difference to your lighting setup, especially so when you’re using window light for high-key portraits. You don’t have to invest a huge amount of money in a reflector, but look for one that offers different sides so you can experiment with different looks. You’ll need a gold, silver and white side to achieve the three looks here. If you’re on a tight budget, try wrapping some foil around some stiff card in place of a silver or gold reflector. As the light for your image is coming from behind the model, the reflector is used to cast light on your model’s face and therefore produce a much more balanced image. If you don’t have one, you’re more likely to see deep 1

shadows appearing on the contours of the model’s face, which goes against the look of a high-key image and isn’t very flattering. If you can get someone else to hold the reflector, that is ideal, but otherwise, ask your model to hold it for you. Using the gold or silver side you should easily be able to tell where it needs to be placed to cast light on the subject. The white side is a more subtle effect, but you’re basically looking for the light to be even across the face. The look you prefer is often down to taste, but generally speaking the silver side will give a cooler look, the gold a warmer feel, while the white will be more neutral – the silver and white are arguably more effective for a DP high-key look. 2

1 NO REFLECTOR The window light works well, but there’s some shadows on the face

2 HARSH SILVER LIGHT Here the silver reflector has thrown some harsh light onto the model’s face, creating a



colder look

3 EVEN TONES Using the white side of the reflector produces the most balanced light, allowing you to blow out the background while also preserving detail in the face

4 WARM IT UP With the gold reflector, the finished portrait has a much warmer look to it, which is pleasing, but perhaps isn’t quite as high key as the white reflector used previously



CAPTURE STUNNING CUISINE Discover the ingredients needed to become a firstclass food photographer


othing appeals to the senses quite like food photography. Not only do final images need to cook up a visual splendour, but should also transmit the feelings, textures, colours and even scents of the dishes too. Thanks to the revolution in blogging and smartphone cameras, there are now millions of images of perfect, squarecropped images of breakfast, lunch and dinner out there. Of course, it’s more important to know how to use your equipment than to have the most expensive camera model, but we’ve got plenty of handy kit suggestions to help you tuck in. A professionally curated photo of a meal can make the senses go wild, but you need plenty of experience and skill to create the most lipsmacking results. Understanding the qualities of different light sources is crucial for success, and in this feature we’ll look at how you can use both artificial and natural light to flatter the subject at hand. Most photographers love shooting this genre because they’re passionate about food. Read on to discover the tricks of the pros and find out how they transform lifeless subjects with a few subtle techniques. While this might be the fastest growing genre in the digital age, there’s a lot more to consider than just quickly snapping your plate and moving on. Over the next few pages we’ve rounded up the best ingredients for a tasty shot, covering everything you’ll need to consider from composition to colour balance, and whetting your appetite for the shoot ahead.


Set the scene Though it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what makes a good food shot, composition, lighting and styling are all important elements. Read on to discover how to get the most from the genre and take your tastiest ever shots © Olenka Kotyk




© Clare Barboza



Get stuck into the genre and find out what kit you need to succeed Food photography is a big business, both in the editorial and advertising industries. The genre is a commercial form of still life, with the aim being to make food as alluring as possible for advertisements, magazines, packaging and menus, not the mention in the pages of cookbooks. Images of food should be inspirational and bursting with life, either making you want to make, taste or eat whatever’s in the frame. Whether they’re working to bring in custom to a new restaurant, or boost the sales of a food magazine, the same basic principles apply. Your kit needn’t break the bank however and often a simple setup is best. Stuart Ovenden is one professional who’s shot for all the high-end supermarkets, but his kitbag remains lo-fi. “As simple as it sounds, a hot-shoe spirit level saves an age in getting horizon lines dead straight when working quickly.” Though he mainly works with Canon’s 50mm f1.2 lens, he’s also an advocate of the popular, affordable f1.4 version. “In terms of image quality and value for money it’s such a good


lens.” When you’re photographing wider scenes such as a whole table of food, tilt-shift lenses become incredibly useful, even if they make a considerable investment. Whatever your setup, you’ll probably need something to diffuse and reflect the light, but it’s perfectly fine to make your own accessories if you don’t have the specific equipment already. For example, a sheet of fabric can be pinned to a window to diffuse the light, and white walls and ceilings can successfully be used as reflectors. A tripod is another essential for shooting, enabling pinsharp results when the lighting is dim. Ovendon believes that to be a success in this area of photography, you have to have the confidence to know when a shot’s right. Imperative too, is a genuine passion for food. “I think that you can tell in the shots when people have a real understanding and enthusiasm for their subject.” As shoots are often a team effort between the photographer, chef, client and food stylist – being fun and friendly will also get you a long way.

Use props It’s important to tell a story with your images. Use props to set the scene, such as bowls, sieves, tablecloths, plates and spoons

Key kit These essentials will arm you for a wide range of subjects ZOOM LENS It’s important to be able to reproduce the close-up details of food. Invest in a macro lens with a 1:1 ratio, or a standard zoom lens with a closefocusing function if you want more flexibility, such as the Canon EF 24-70mm f4L IS USM.

STURDY TRIPOD A tripod such as the Manfrotto MK055XPRO3 is ideal for food photography. The central column can be extended vertically or horizontally, meaning it can be used overhead to open up a wide range of framing options.

ARTIFICIAL LIGHT Window light isn’t always available when shooting. The Lowel EGO light is a fluorescent tabletop lamp that’s lightweight and portable, mimicking the look of natural daylight. It can also be mounted on a tripod for flexible positioning.


BALANCED APERTURE A wide aperture can help exposure in low light situations and will also create a shallow depth of field that makes your subject stand out against an artistically blurred background.


Pretty in pink Some recipes will look striking when photographed from directly above, while other subjects, such as tiered cakes, need to be shot from lower


Balance the colour Use a grey card or filter and set a custom white balance for your food images as an easy way to avoid unnatural and unappetising colour

© Stuart Ovenden

Consider the angles

Perfect the composition and decide what shooting perspective best suits your subject

Keep it level Don’t be tempted to photograph shots on a slant, as this confuses the eye and can make plates look as if they’re floating. Keep your camera level, referring to the spirit level if possible and aim to keep any obvious lines as straight as possible.


© Clare Barboza

© Stuart Ovenden

© Stuart Ovenden


Get in tight When the camera is positioned directly above the subject and centred, the result tends to be more graphic, working well for flat subjects, like biscuits or pizza. Don’t be afraid to crop repeating subjects out of the edges of the frame.

Tilt it Try tilting towards the subject and note the effect. When food is tilted towards the camera, it engages the viewer and welcomes them into the frame. This is a common angle for cookbooks, generally also showing the cooked dish close-up.

Suit your subject While an overhead perspective works well for flat subjects, three-dimensional foods can look slightly odd when photographed from above. Always start by capturing your subject from at least three different viewpoints.




Simple daylight Position your setup on a table near a window, and angle it so that the scene is illuminated evenly. You should use a reflector to fill in the shadowed areas


Window light Arguably the most favourable light for food is indirect daylight, such as that from a nearby window. Avoid shooting in direct sunlight, as this will cause harsh glare.

Discover the myriad of illumination options available to the food photographer

Like all types of photography, the lighting you shoot with will make or break your images. You don’t need a lot of equipment; it’s often best to start off with one diffused source such a softbox or a window. When you work with one light, you’ll also have one set of shadows, which makes the results much more natural and easy to fill in with a reflector. Most food photographers abhor the use of flash and advocate using natural light wherever possible. Clare Barboza (www.clarebarboza. com) is one such example, who shoots “food almost exclusively with natural light, [but] once in a very great while I’m forced to use artificial [sources].” If you do want to use a speedlight, try bouncing the flash off a ceiling or a sheet of white card to avoid specular highlights. Once you’ve set up the light source itself, you need to decide on its direction and whether it’ll look most appealing when lit from the from the side, back or front. Barboza first thinks about the mood of the shot she’s trying to convey. “Is it bright and airy? Darker and moody? Do I want strong shadows or soft, even light?” Certain dishes actually lend themselves to a particular type of lighting. “For example, cocktail shots often do well with backlighting, because it helps illuminate the colours and make them pop.” Natural light should always be your first choice for shooting, but bear in mind that it needs to be plentiful enough to bring out all the colour and contrast of your subjects. Consider taking dishes outside to photograph them, should the weather and style of the shoot allow.



With flash If you do use flash, move the unit around the subject while taking shots to find out the best angle. The closer you get, the harsher the light will be

With flash Flash is very unpopular for food photography, as it generates harsh reflections and glare. It’s used occasionally in the studio, for example to mimic the look of sunlight.


Continuous lighting In this shot the light was angled above the subject and a reflector held on the left to bounce back some light and fill some shadows

Continuous lighting A large light source such as a softbox is ideal to use when you’re shooting without natural light. Avoid having the light in your shot, as this will introduce lens flare.

3x © Mark Searle


Illuminating advice Pro photographer Mike Searle shares his advice for lighting food with ease

Do you opt for shooting in natural light where possible? It depends on the job; most of my work is shot on location in restaurants and cafes, and they seldom have perfect window light. Over time I have developed lighting setups that replicate as closely as possible window light using a large soft box, diffusion material, polyboards and reflectors. I also prefer to shoot hand held and find studio strobes work better for me. How do you balance the colours in a scene? A lot of food is in the yellow, orange and red of the spectrum so I try to use the complementary colours of blue or turquoise in the background, either on the background board, props or napkins. Or it could be adding a subtle blue tint to a grey background in post-processing. How do you decide on the lighting direction for a given subject? Most of my lighting setups have the key light [on the left] behind the subject. I like to use full backlighting if the subject isn’t too reflective, using this angle for tight close-ups and to emphasise the shape and form of a subject. Side lighting is great for wider shots, but I never use front lighting as it’s just too flat. What are your top tips for a simple lighting setup? The easiest thing is to set your table up by a window so that the light is hitting it from the side and switch any lights off in the room so you’re not mixing tungsten light with daylight.

AVOID USING FLASH On-camera flash should generally be avoided for food photography. It’s a harsh light source and only illuminates your subject from the front, dispelling natural shadow details. Opt for a tripod and longer exposure in low light.


Replicating conditions It isn’t always possible to shoot with natural light. Searle’s first major book, The Surf Cafe Cook Book, was shot in Ireland in the middle of December


Do it yourself “If there’s direct sunlight use some diffusion material to create soft light. Get some white poly board and use them for reflectors”




Pro photographers use plenty of nifty techniques to ensure food looks at its absolute best Above

Go further Still life shooter Lucas Zarebinksi (www. loves to create conceptual images of food. The genre can become as creative as you want


Split-second “I love pushing the boundaries of still life photography and resolving client’s problems with inspiring imagery,” says professional photographer Lucas Zarabinski

3x © Lucas Zarebinski

Food is a difficult subject to capture at its best purely because it dries out, goes cold, melts under hot lights and wilts very quickly. The delicious-looking concoctions found in magazines and print ads have been styled to look as appetising as possible, so it’ll come as no surprise that many pro food photographers have a trick or two up their sleeve to make their subjects more appealing. When hot food needs to look hot, cotton wool balls can be filled with water, microwaved and then hidden behind the subject to give off the effect of billowing steam. Spray-on glycerin or deodorant creates a frosty finish on glass bottles, or gives the appearance of moisture to the leaves of a salad. A more simple approach can be taken however, simply by misting fruits and vegetables with water and the droplets of moisture will inject life into an otherwise dull subject. How natural you want the food to remain is entirely up to you, but there’s certainly plenty of room for creativity when styling the shot. Toothpicks are a fantastic way to hold flimsy items together, or tease out crumbs from hot cakes. At the more extreme end of the scale, shoe polish can be applied to meat to give it a more succulent colour. Food photography lends itself well to a little inventiveness, with some practice and a few supplies, it’s possible to develop many different ways to keep food looking its best during a DP long shoot.

2x © Stuart Ovenden

Meet the pro Photographer Stuart Ovenden shares his insights into this tasty genre What inspires you? Colour, mood and texture, [and I] always strive to keep my shots simple [and] clean… It’s easy to over-prop and I think it should always ultimately be about the food. I want to shoot quickly and instinctively; I like to think that my work is graphic, but still retains a… Looseness. How do you process your images? I tether to Capture One and then work on any finer details in Photoshop. I try not to


do too much post-production though, it’s easy to over-work and strip out the little touches that give a shot its character. What’s your top tip for a shoot? Trust your instincts when a composition isn’t working. Break the set down and start again; you’ll probably bring in a few elements from your previous composition, but often it’s good to re-approach an idea from a different angle.


Right first-time “Don’t rely on Photoshop too much. If you can change it in set when the photo is taken, spend that extra bit of time getting it right there and then”

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Capture a moody mono seascape Create fine art black-and-white seascapes with the aid of a ten-stop neutral density filter What’s the longest exposure you’ve ever used to take a photograph? A second or two to capture a sunset? Maybe half a minute to record a night scene? For most, that’s about as long as it gets. But what happens if you use long exposures not because you need to, but because you want to, for creative effect? It is possible to extend exposures way beyond the realms of normality in broad daylight by using extreme neutral density (ND) filters such as the Lee Big Stopper and Hitech Prostop IRND 10.

Photographs normally freeze time, but with a ten-stop ND filter on your lens the exposure has to be multiplied 1,000 times so you actually record the passing of time and the effects can be truly amazing. Drifting clouds record as streaks of colour and tone. Moving water turns to milk. Blowing grass and swaying trees take on a ghostly appearance. Perfect ingredients, in other words, to create fine art images full of mystery and mood – best of all, bad weather generally provides the best conditions. Follow our simple steps and create a moody masterpiece of your very own.



Brighton’s west pier This is the kind of effect you can expect from a ten-stop ND filter. The sky and sea have been smoothed out and the skeletal pier stands out. Converting to blackand-white completes the picture

What you’ll need DSLR Tripod Remote release Ten-stop ND filter ND grad filter Timer or stopwatch



Shooting steps



Set up the shot Ten-stop ND filters are virtually opaque. Your DSLRs Live View may be sensitive enough to see through it, but it’s easier to compose the shot without one on the lens. The focusing must also be set to manual as the AF system won’t work once the tenstopper is positioned on the lens.


Take a test shot Align your ND grad as normal to tone down the sky, but leave the slot in the filter holder closest to the lens free for the ten-stop ND. Set the ISO to 100, stop the lens down to f11 or f16 and take a test shot in order to determine correct exposure.





Calculate correct exposure Once you know the correct exposure for a straight shot, you can then calculate the exposure required for the ten-stop ND filter. There are smartphone apps to do this. As a guide, 1/30sec becomes 30 seconds; 1/15sec becomes 60 seconds; 1/8sec becomes 120 seconds and so on. Take your shot Set your DSLR to B (bulb), close the viewfinder blind if it has one (some cameras suffer from fogging if you don’t), then trip the shutter using a remote release and lock the release. Time the exposure using your phone or wristwatch, or program it into the camera or remote release.


Check the image Once the exposure is over, close the shutter and check the preview image. You may want to use Long Exposure Noise Reduction for these shots, in which case you’ll have to wait a few minutes longer to see your results. Alternatively, turn it off and reduce noise during post-production.


Reshoot The first shot may look fine, but often you’ll find that you need to adjust the exposure and reshoot. Check the histogram as well as the preview image. If you can increase the exposure without clipping the highlights, do so as you’ll have a better RAW file to work with.






The setup

CHECK THE WEATHER Cloudy, windy weather provides the best conditions for this type of long exposure image, especially if you intend to convert the results to black-and-white

KEEP STEADY As the exposure is going to be minutes long, a sturdy tripod is essential to keep your camera rock steady. Remember to turn off image stabilisation!

PICK YOUR SUBJECT Choose a scene where there’s something static – in this case the pier – to contrast with moving elements such as the sea and sky

Which ten-stop ND? Discover some of the most popular ten-stop ND filters Lee Filters Big Stopper 100mm: £100, 75mm: £70 Fits the Lee 100mm and R75 filter holders, optically excellent, but made of glass so easy to damage.

Cokin Nuances ND1024 100mm: £89, 85mm £60 Part of a new range of Cokin filters, this one’s a good alternative to the Lee and Hitech options.

Tiffen ND 3.0 77m: £76 Screw-in and available in main thread sizes. Tiffen filters are made to exacting optical standards.

Hitech Prostop IRND 10 100mm: £102, 85mm: £68 Made of resin, so is durable, and optically excellent with a neutral colour balance.

B+W ND110 3.0 77mm: £106 Screw-fit so not as versatile, but optically superb and available in main sizes. Images are warm.

SRB ND1000 77mm: £32.50 This budget ten-stop has a warm cast and is optically very good.



Editing steps



Open the RAW file Open the image in Photoshop. Apply Lens Corrections by clicking on the Colour and Profile tabs. Make adjustments to exposure and contrast using the Tone Curve Sliders then open the image and save it as a 16-bit TIFF file.



Convert to black and white There are various ways to convert the image to black and white. Silver Efex Pro 2 from the Nik Collection by Google is very popular, but for this tutorial we’re using Photoshop. Go to Image>Adjustments>Black & White.

Add drama to the sky You can use fancy masking to make selections, but quick and easy ones work too. Select the sky around the pier using the Polygonal Lasso tool at a feathering of 250 pixels then go to Image>Adjustments>Auto Contrast.




Adjust the sea Do the same to the sea. If Auto Contrast doesn’t give the desired effect, make manual adjustments using Levels or Curves. Do final adjustments to achieve the look you want then crop to a square.



A moody masterpiece The motion captured by the long exposure is revealed by simple edits, while converting to black and white brings out the mood


© Lee Frost



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Master off-camera flash Discover how you can capture dramatically lit portraits using our simple guide to off-camera flash


For many budding photographers, off-camera flash is considered either too difficult or something that’s best left for the professionals, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Using off-camera flash is not only easy, but it’s fun too and it opens up the door to a multitude of creative possibilities. For those who are unfamiliar with off-camera flash, it involves firing a flashgun remotely in order to achieve studio-style lighting effects. Unlike conventional studio lighting, flashguns are inexpensive and are powered by disposable batteries, meaning that they don’t rely on mains power in order to operate. This in turn means that you can use them both indoors and while you are out shooting on location for added flexibility.

Before you get started, however, you’re going to need three things; a flashgun, a light stand and a set of wireless radio triggers – these are used to fire your flashgun without the need for cables. If you don’t have a light stand, then a tripod will work just as well. Third-party radio triggers are widely available online and are relatively cheap. Once you’ve gathered the necessary items, take a look at our simple step-by-step tutorial below to learn just how quick and easy it is to capture your very own flash portraits. You’ll soon discover that often when shooting outside, harsh sunlight can cast your subject in deep shadow, but setting up off-camera flash will enable you to light your subject while maintaining a perfectly exposed background.


Attach the triggers Attach the transmitter to the top of your camera’s hotshoe port, then attach the receiver to the bottom of the flashgun. Ensure that the transmitter and receiver are switched on by pressing the power button.


Set the right frequency It’s vital that you make sure that both the receiver and the transmitter units are set to the same frequency channel. Failing to do this will mean that they won’t be able to communicate with one another.


Use a light stand With your flashgun set up, attach it your light stand. Now, position the flash so that it’s directed at your subject, but is also about three to four paces away from them to avoid dazzling them when it fires.


Set up your camera Switch your camera over to full Manual mode (M). Now, set the shutter speed to 1/120sec and the aperture to around f5.6. Also, set the ISO to 100 and switch the White Balance to Flash.


4 60

Without flash Without the use of off-camera flash our model has become cast in deep shadow resulting in a dull image

Set up your flashgun Make sure your flashgun has a fresh set of batteries in it, then turn it on via the power switch. Set the flash to full Manual mode. Now, adjust the power output so that it’s set to around 1/32.

Take the shot Take a test shot then review it on the back of the camera. If your subject is too bright, reduce the flash power to 1/64. If they’re not bright enough, increase the power to 1/18 power and try again.


Add drama with flash Using off-camera flash has successfully enabled us to light our subject while still maintaining a correctly exposed background for an image bursting with detail







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Create presets in Lightroom Discover how to apply effects that you’ve already created and cut down massively on your workflow Photographers are always looking for ways to improve their editing process and anything that can help speed up your workflow is extremely useful, especially if you’re someone who edits whole batches of photos at once. The Presets panel in Lightroom is particularly useful for this. Not only can you use the default Presets that are already in the program, you can also create your own. This makes it easier than ever to add a personalised twist to every one of your pictures, or even just help you produce a consistent portfolio. When making a Preset it’s important to remember that the edits you make should be applicable to every picture that you might want to apply it to. So if you’re a photographer who enjoys capturing macros, for example, you can apply the edits you make frequently to your pictures in just the click of a button. Follow our simple steps on how to create a Preset.



Before the effect Often before you edit macro shots, there can be a lack of focus and excitement within the image

Use the Develop tab Once the image has been imported, head to the Develop tab. This is where we’re going to make all the necessary edits to our picture; increase the exposure to +0.12 to begin with.


Import your picture Start off by opening Lightroom and importing your picture in the Library section. We’re going to use a photo that we can apply macro effects to, so that this Preset can then be used on similar images.


Continue editing Next, shift the Temperature to +10 to give the shot a little more warmth and then reduce the Tint by -10 to bring out and enhance the natural greens in the picture.


3 64

Make some more tweaks Presets can handle all kinds of edits, so next, up the Contrast to +21, the Highlights to +12, the Whites down by -3 and the Clarity, Vibrance and Saturation to +64, +38 and -5 respectively.

Sharpen it up With the previous step, we upped the vibrance to make the image pop; now we’re going to sharpen it by sliding all the Sharpening and Noise Reduction levels until we’re happy with the level of detail.




Ease of edit Creating and customising your own Presets for Lightroom edits can vastly speed up your editing workflow


Shift Distortion and add a Vignette Move down the Lens Corrections section of the editing interface. Shift the Distortion of the image to -36 and add a Lens Vignette of -100. This will draw focus to the subject even more.

Create a new preset Once youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve made sure that youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re happy with your edit and that it could apply to multiple images, look over to the panel on the left and click the + icon to create a new Preset.


New Develop preset Here, you can choose exactly which of your edits you want to include in the preset; create a new folder by clicking on the drop-down menu and give it a name to finish the creation process.




Retouch a portrait in Photoshop Turn ordinary portraits into flawless masterpieces Many people associate Photoshop with retouching more than any other project and there’s no doubting that it’s one of the most powerful portrait-fixing tools on the market. But while it’s easy to improve your portraits with brushing, filters and other tools, the key to retouching is subtlety. You can use all kinds of creative tools to make your portraits pop, but your own judgement is

imperative to creating flawless skin and perfect eyes. Some images may only require you to perform one or two of the following steps, while others may need a full retouch. Remember though, the secret to a successful retouch is not being able to tell that any editing has taken place. It’s important to keep texture in your subject’s skin for example, so that your portrait still has a natural quality.


Remove blemishes Select the Spot Healing Brush and use it by clicking or brushing to touch up any lumps, bumps, spots or blemishes on your subject’s face. This will clear the face nicely to build upon and make edits.



Reduce dark circles Select the Clone Stamp tool, pick a soft-tipped brush and set to 50% Opacity. Opt/Alt-click on the cheek to set the source texture, before gently brushing under the eyes to alleviate bags.


Improve irises Create a Curves adjustment layer. Invert the mask with Ctrl/Cmd+I and use a white brush to mask in the eyes. Tweak the RGB Curves channel to produce an S shape to improve contrast.


Recolour lips Create a new layer and select a pink colour from your swatches. Use a soft brush to paint in colour, before setting the layer to Colour and adjusting the opacity to a natural shade.


Liquify Hit Cmd/Ctrl+Opt/Alt+Shift+E to merge all layers into a new layer. Go to Filter>Liquify and use the Pucker and Bloat tools to make the eyes slightly bigger and straighten the nose.


6 66


Soften Duplicate the background layer and apply a blur (Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur). Set to Screen, 50% Opacity and mask so it covers the skin. Sharpen the eyes – duplicate the background, Filter>High Pass. Set to Overlay.


Before the edit With a photo that’s wholly of a subject’s face, it’s important to fix the features that a viewer will focus on

Even up eyebrows Keep a degree of symmetry between the eyebrows by selecting one, copy it and paste it, then flip it horizontally, to the opposite side of the face. Mask in with a soft brush.

Dodge and burn Now, add a final layer of neutral grey (#7f7f7f). Use the Dodge tool to darken around the cheeks, the eye lids and under the chin and then Burn to apply more shine and light to the nose and eye whites.



After the retouching Once you have finished the retouching process, perhaps add a subtle Photo Filter set to Soft Light, 10% Opacity, or apply a sublte Action to bring the colour out of the hair

Head to digitalphotographer to get the Action that we used to finish our retouched image and more 67


Career advice

Freelance photographer Lauren Scott delivers the tips and advice you need when starting out as a second shooter

What kit do I need?

I’m currently a portrait photographer and while I’m fairly experienced, I’ve only recently begun getting paid for my work. I’d like to get into weddings by being a second shooter and am looking for something where I can show up, assist and take photos. As someone who’s experienced in portrait photography, but not weddings, will I have to start out working for free, or should I charge a specific rate? Joan Maitland

After contacting several wedding photographers in my local area, one of them has agreed to take me on as a second shooter on a trial period. I’ve got a professional camera, but I don’t know if I’ll be lvo Ca using their kit instead. Could io ar M you advise me on what I should bring? Sarah Slade

©Gabriele Forcina

Knowing how much to charge is always a difficult balance and, to add to the challenge, many photographers can be reluctant to take on a second-shooter if they aren’t confident in their abilities. As you’ve already got some solid portrait experience, you could be pleasantly surprised and find that someone is happy to pay you from the off. Send them examples of your existing work when you first make contact, as this will demonstrate your style and skill level. As you’ve never shot a wedding before however, be prepared to offer your services for free a few times first to get that initial experience. Working for free is a great way to kickstart your wedding portfolio, which is arguably more valuable than any payment you might receive. When you’re confident enough to charge for your services, you’ll first want to decide on a suitable hourly rate. You can then tailor this for each job for the amount of time you’re working, adding on extra for any editing work.

Above To avoid confusion make sure you decide on payment details beforehand, including the exact amount as well as how and when you’ll be paid



Should I be paid?

Although this is a quintessential question, it’s also a tricky one to answer, as it really depends on who you’re working with. Many photographers prefer you to use their equipment as they know it can be relied upon, but some will be happy for you to shoot on whatever you’re most comfortable with, which is where your own camera will come into play.

As with all good working relationships communication is key, so don’t be afraid to contact the photographer again, asking exactly how they’d like you to shoot the event to avoid any confusion on the day itself. Regardless of what their answer is, it can be wise to pack a small selection of your own backup equipment, just in case something goes wrong with the lead photographer’s kit. When starting out as a second shooter, the aim is to establish yourself as a serious professional. If you show you’re prepared and a valuable asset, it’s much more likely the trial will go well and you’ll be accepted back. Don’t be scared of asking questions prior to the shoot, as it will show that you are keen and that you care about the outcome of the day.

Can I use the images? I recently worked as a second shooter for a local events photographer at a large corporate birthday party. Because I used my own memory card and then sent the photographer my shots after the event, I still have access to them. What am I allowed to do with the images now? Can I include them in my online portfolio or blog? Tom Atkins It’s great that you’ve asked this before posting up any images. It might seem harmless to share images from the event and in truth many photographers will happily allow you to use the images for marketing and publicity, particularly on blog posts where they’re likely to get positive exposure too. Bear in mind though, that other photographers can take a harder line, as they employed you to take the images on behalf of them and technically still own them. Your first step is obviously to ask the photographer what you’re allowed to share, letting them know the addresses of the

websites you intend to do so on. If they agree, make sure you know how they want to be credited and remember to always state that you were the second shooter. In the future when your next job comes along, don’t be shy about emailing the lead photographer with specific questions, such as whether you can post the images online. Ask for a simple contract outlining the basic terms of the agreement for both of you.

Above It’s generally assumed that images taken on the day belong solely to the lead photographer. Always ask before sharing images on online communities


Ask the professional All images©Nicola Redford

Lifestyle and wedding photographer Nicola Redford shares her advice for aspiring second-shooters Where could aspiring second shooters find their first opportunity? Local photographers are always a great place to start looking. I tend to think social media searches are the most useful as you can get a feel for the photographer and their style of work. Try to target new photographers who may be looking for an extra helping hand and willing to give opportunities to ‘newbies’ like themselves.

Why are second shooters so important? I love that they can capture more candid photos whilst I’m focusing on formal shots, so that my couples get a good variety of photos. I also rely on my second shooters to go and grab extra memory cards, lenses etc. for me on the day so that my workflow is as smooth as possible. I just think two cameras is always better than one, as long as you and your second shooter work completely together. What advice is key for the ‘newbies’? When starting to second shoot just be flexible, open minded and have a willingness to be

Left Even if it’s a DSLR with a standard lens, Redford thinks a second shooter should use and know their own camera. However, she’s always willing to lend lenses and flashes

part of a team. Photographers need a second shooter to be an extension of themselves. What should a lead photographer look for in a second shooter? Looking for a second shooter is actually like looking for someone to be your friend. You spend long periods of time together so you need to get on. Obviously, I also look for artistic flair and someone who can see my vision for my photos and business. Go to to see some of Redford’s stunning captures.

Top It’s important to make sure you’re clear on the policies the main photographer has about using your images for promotion on your social media, blog, website and portfolio

Above Remember to communicate with the main shooter before and throughout the wedding day to determine their expectations of you and what you need to shoot



10 steps to success as a sports photographer Highly respected professional sports photographer Bob Martin reveals the secrets of success in a competitive field All images © Bob Martin


Fill the frame In sports photography, it is essential that you get the basics right. The first thing is to ensure that you always try to fill your frame with the action you are trying to capture. The biggest mistake I see in young photographers’ work when starting out is loosely shot action. This does not just apply when using a long lens; you still need to fill the frame when using a wide-angle lens and this is perhaps more difficult than with a telephoto. Practice makes perfect; as you try to refine your skill you will be chopping the toes, fingers or even the head of your subject out of the frame. The aim is to get better at keeping all these bits in when under pressure. The old saying ‘don’t shoot until you see the whites of their eyes’ really does make sense here. The more you practise filling the frame and shooting bold the better you will become at composing in a split second, which is what great sports photography is all about.


Seek clean backgrounds Always try to get the best background you can. Many good action pictures are ruined by ugly backgrounds. If you get a good action picture it will never be a great shot if the background is ugly or it distracts your eye from the subject. So why would you shoot any picture from a spot with a bad background? For example, at a football or rugby match you would think the only place to shoot is from behind the goal or posts. If the background is ugly or brighter than the subject, look at other options. Try down the side of the pitch. Choose a spot with a good clean backdrop, even when it is not the best place for the action. If all the normal options are not working you can always go up into the stands or on a hill and shoot down on the grass.


Be patient and persistent A good sports photographer is patient and pig-headed. Always try to improve on the shot you have just taken until the event


Meet the pro Get to know Nikon ambassador and professional sports photographer Bob Martin A multi-awardwinning sports photographer with many years of experience shooting at the very highest level, Bob Martin ( is a dedicated Nikon user. During the last 30 years, he has photographed every major sporting event, including the last 13 summer and winter Olympics. Since 2005, he has coordinated the official photography for The Championships, Wimbledon, was the photo chief for the London 2012 Olympics and is now a consultant to the International Olympic Committee and the Rio Olympics. His work has been published in Sports Illustrated, Time, Newsweek, Life Magazine, Stern, Paris Match, Bunte, L’Equipe, The Sunday Times and The New York Times to name just a few. Based in England, he is currently the only Sports Illustrated photographer to be based outside of the USA. Bob Martin’s photography has been recognised by more than 57 national and international awards and he is a three-time winner of the prestigious British Sports Photographer of the Year award. In 2005 he won the World Press Photo Sports Picture of the Year.


Kit concerns Bob Martin uses the very best Nikon lenses and cameras to ensure that he is able to capture dramatic, striking images such as this

is finally over. I will, on occasion, spend days perfecting and refining a shot. Better light, a slightly different angle, better action, better access – anything that you can do to improve the content. An average picture becomes a good picture when this all comes together and a good picture will only be a great picture if everything about it is perfect. The client will use the best picture they receive, so always aspire to be the one who produces it!


Consider image quality I always shoot using RAW, as it produces a better file than the normal JPEG straight out of the camera. Always try to produce the best possible quality file. It’s so worth the extra time and effort. Over the years I have spent a small fortune on the best cameras available, so why not use the best file format available? If you don’t, you are wasting the money you have invested on the latest and best equipment that you can afford. Don’t forget that, on the rare occasion when you mess up (which I do and you will) with a RAW file you are more [likely to be] able to recover from your mistakes. It may be a badly exposed picture or the wrong colour balance. The picture editor will choose the best quality file if the pictures offered are similar in terms of content.


Use Photoshop correctly Photoshop is your digital darkroom. Don’t treat it as a tool for making, changing or retouching your pictures; it is for refining and tweaking your final images. It is an incredibly powerful tool worth every penny and worth the investment just for the ability to vastly improve your backlit shots using the Shadows/Highlights tools, which is just scraping the surface. The ability to experiment with different crops, density, colour balance and so on, all helps to hone and refine your composition and photographic abilities behind the camera, just as printing your pictures in the darkroom used to in the days of film.


BOB’S NIKON KIT... NIKKOR 600MM F4E FL ED VR AF-S My favourite lens at the moment is the new Nikon 600mm f4E FL ED VR AF-S. [It’s] remarkably light and as sharp as a tack. This is closely followed by the Nikon 400mm f2.8E FL.




Speculate To start with, you will not get many paid assignments so you will have to shoot on spec and try to sell your pictures. Choose the smaller events or lower divisions to start your career off, as fewer photographers in attendance means less opposition for you. When you are starting out you will be desperate to get to the big events; you will probably dream of photographing the World Cup, the World Championships or maybe the Olympics. This is really great because you should always be trying to better yourself and aspire to greatness. However, at these events you are competing against hundreds of professional photographers at the top of their game. At the London Olympics over 1,400 photographers from all over the world were accredited – that is a lot of competition!


Distribute and communicate The more places you send your pictures to and the more people you show your pictures to the better you will do. Today, at this late stage in my career, I think by now the clients should really be coming to me, yet I still find myself spending a lot of time going to them. If you don’t keep reinventing yourself and reminding them of the fact you exist then they stop calling you. Don’t give up: you only get [handed] an assignment from a new client when they want a change or are looking for something new; if they’re happy with their [usual] photographer’s work and pictures, why would they try you? You need to be knocking on their door or sending your pictures in on the right day.


Develop contacts and publicity You must become a bit of a self-promoting PR machine in today’s cutthroat world; a lot of it is about whom you know, not what you know. A press pass is a privilege, not a given right. Try to develop a relationship with the press officer or communications department for any sports body or event that has given you access. In the early days of your career, if a team or event has given you a press pass, let them see your pictures and more importantly your publications. In the old days this could cost you

a lot, as prints were expensive; today this only costs you time. An email with an attachment, or much better a link to where the pictures were used, will ensure the next time you ask for a photographer’s pass you won’t have to argue.


Direct people to your website Make sure your business cards and every email and letter you send out has a link to your website. A simpleto-navigate online portfolio of your best pictures and examples of published work is what is required. I think the best investment I have made in my career is the money spent developing and refining my website. On many occasions I have secured a job just by sending a link or just referring to a picture on the site while on the phone. The most important tool to develop your career is a good website. A link to your social media content is also important. Remember, this is your online portfolio, so you want it to have big pictures, showing your best work, tastefully presented.


Use social media wisely A blog, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are important, so make sure your posts and content are of the highest quality and relevant. I am no expert at this, but it is clear that the young guys who are making inroads in this business have mastered social media. I believe if you bombard people with mediocre content the Delete button or worse the terminal Unfollow command will result. I am looking to up my game in this area, as you must never be complacent or someone DP else will get the next assignment.


Special reader offer Bob Martin is offering Digital Photographer readers a 20% discount on a signed copy of his new book, 1/1000th 1/1000th is a spectacular retrospective, showcasing Bob Martin’s breathtaking pictures in all their glory. Beautifully printed on 240 expansive pages, 1/1000th presents a collection of images that encapsulate Bob Martin’s unique ability to capture sporting moments in a millisecond, but always with a sense of place that embraces the context of a particular stadium, venue, event or occasion – be it an Olympics, a Wimbledon, a World Cup or a world title fight. Beyond the photographs themselves, the book completes the picture by telling the stories behind how these amazing images were conceived, planned and finally executed, as well as providing fascinating technical insight into how they were taken. It is available to purchase online at – just enter the word ‘RAW’ in the Promotion code box and you’ll get a signed copy of the book for £40, a di unt of 20% on the £50 RRP.


LOCATION Knowing where to be in order to get the best shot requires experience and knowledge, but the difference between a winning sports photo and one that doesn’t make the grade may be less than a metre.





Award winning

Perfect crop

Many of Bob Martin’s images have won the highest awards available in the sports photography industry, owing to his gift for telling a story in an image

This shot is typical of Martin’s style. The action perfectly fills the frame while the background is completely uncluttered and doesn’t distract from the athlete

Creativity counts

Knowledge matters

Despite the fact that sports photography is about splitsecond action, there is still room to be creative, as this image of a track event demonstrates

Knowing the sport you are photographing enables you to better anticipate the key action, confrontations and flashpoints


The photo helpdesk

All images© Tom Calton

Perfect your people shots with advice from Tom Calton as he answers your questions on working with non-models

Got a photography problem you can’t quite solve? Pick our brains by emailing us at team@ dphotographer.!

Breaking the ice After seeing some inspirational images online, I’m really keen to start capturing some fun portraits of my friends, but I’m a little concerned that taking pictures of people who aren’t professional models might be a little awkward. Do you have any tips? Lily McMahon It’s important to remember that very few people actually like having their photo taken, which can make your role as the photographer somewhat tricky. Chances are that they are going to be much more nervous about the situation than you, so it’s vital that you come across as confident and welcoming. If you’re taking photos at home or in a studio, then before you start snapping away, take the time to sit down with your model and have a relaxed conversation with them over a cup


of tea. Not only will this give you a chance to comfort any reservations they might be having, but it’ll also give them a chance to relax, get used to the new environment. Alternatively, if you decide to shoot out on location then I’d suggest that you start off by having a bit of walk and a chat with your model. While you’re walking, it’ll also give you an opportunity to scout the area for any potential spots to shoot at. Once you feel that the mood has relaxed, then you can attempt to take some photos. You may find the first few shots you take will look a little stiff, but keep up the interaction with them throughout and they’ll soon get into the swing of things. After you’ve taken a shot that you’re happy with, be sure to show it to them on the back of your camera and provide positive feedback to help grow their confidence.


Get close-ups Be sure to change things up with your compositions and capture a good mixture of both close-up and full-length shots


Offer suggestions Give suggestions to your model on what you want them to do, or how they should be standing


Candid portraits I love taking portraits, but I find that most of my shots are very posed and controlled and I want to start taking more natural candid-style shots. Any suggestions as to how I can do that? Ryan Chambers The art of candid photography can take some time to master, but it’s arguably the best way to achieve natural-looking photos. Ideally you need to be able to catch your subject unawares so that the shots look unposed and you capture the emotion as it happens. One way to do this is by investing in a telephoto zoom lens, as this will allow you to take a few steps away from the action and covertly capture your shots without the subject feeling the pressure of having a camera pointed at them. If you are shooting multiple people at the same time, get them to interact with one another and spark a conversation. This will divert their attention to one another while you happily snap away from the side-lines. Unlike posed shots, it may take a bit more time to get the shot just right, so be patient and keep shooting until you get what you’re after. You’ll also need to make sure you’ve stocked up on memory cards to hold all those additional images.

Master posing



Walk and talk

Go long

If you’re photographing multiple people, ask them to walk and talk – this’ll distract them from you taking photos of them

Give your subject space by using a telephoto lens and photograph them from a distance to put them at ease

My best friend recently got engaged and he’s asked me if I could take some engagement photos of them. I’ve never done anything like this before, but I want to make sure they end up with some great images. Can you provide some help on how to correctly pose them? Peter Scott-Shaw A lot of what makes a good pose is down to how comfortable the couple is on the day and how confident they are in front of the camera. My advice would be to start off with the basics and suggest some familiar poses to get them into the flow of things. A tight embrace or walking together hand-in-hand is probably something they’ve done a million times before so it should feel natural for them to do this. Towards the end of the shoot once the couple start to feel more comfortable with the situation you can then try to be a little more creative if you wish, but often less is more. Remember, the shoot should be about trying to capture the love between two people, rather than forcing creativity through wacky poses. If you want to be well prepared, spend time researching other photographers’ work online

before the shoot. Make notes on any poses that you like and then bring the list with you on the day as a source of inspiration. Above

All you need is love Not every photo has to feature big cheesy grins. If they’re caught up in the moment, capture it as is!


The background is important Although the couple are the centre of attention, it’s also vital to have an attractive backdrop to set them against


Start with the basics Holding hands and hugging should feel natural to couples, start here before trying more complex poses




Always be prepared

In the second of our six-part series, we explore why planning and preparation are essential to producing fantastic digital film projects

Last issue we explored the kit to consider if you are interested in taking your video to the next level, including a look at some dedicated digital film cameras from Blackmagic Design. Here, you’ll discover some of the planning considerations that you really need to take into account to achieve the best results. “Storyboarding is important to yourself and for the client,” explains director of photography (DP) Daniel Peters. “The client feels a bit more at ease knowing you’ve got all the shots and scene set-ups done from the storyboard. When you’re on set, time goes fast and you get caught up in the moment… So it’s good to know you’re hitting your shots, too.”

Storyboards also help when it comes to editing You should also carry out a comprehensive your project together. “I never really overshoot,” location recce in advance to establish any states Peters. “I know that every shot is going obstacles you might face on the day of filming. to be used.” “I like to see if the location meets our needs Professional photographer James in person,” Peters explains. “Sometimes a Jebson agrees. “A storyboard gives a location can feel very different when you certain element of structure to the arrive to what photographs and prior shooting day without it forcing information may have suggested. Find any creative restraints.” Peters out where and when the light hits says that with experience you’ll each room to help schedule those be able to judge when it’s shots in those locations and [work appropriate to go outside out] which lenses look good in B-ROLL your plan. “Don’t be afraid each environment.” This is the term used in to go off script if it feels You may want to consider cinematography for supplementary right… You never know bringing in external help, footage shot to complement the what magic might occur.” suggests Jebson. Having main narrative. Its benefits include developed a difficult and adding interest to the film, and technically challenging it can be used to cover cuts concept for a JD Gyms job, between camera angles or Jebson chose to bring in a other problems. DP. “Typically, I have an assistant for my commercial photography, as team work always delivers the best results possible. I take the same approach with video work, when the job and budget allows.” “With a tight production deadline, bringing in a practitioner of Daniel’s quality ensured my vision as director became a reality, and having a separate director guaranteed that all angles, from creativity to the technical constraints, were catered for independently.” It’s also important to plan what equipment you’ll need, including considering whether you need to hire additional hardware. “Hiring kit is great,” says Peters. “Sometimes you may need a more powerful light to blast through a window or you may want to hire the same lens you already have because you want camera B to have the same versatility as that zoom lens SHUTTER ANGLE WHITE BALANCE Likely to be an unfamiliar This is a setting that without having to change lenses.” term to stills photographers, you will frequently need Using this advice for planning your shoots, this is essentially the same as to change depending shutter speed on the lighting you’ll be on your way to producing stunning digital film projects with a professional touch. Next issue, learn to use movement in your projects for more engaging narratives.

Understand camera settings



Many of the settings on a digital film camera are the same as you’d find on a typical DSLR or CSC

Peters says he almost never changes his ISO from the camera’s native setting

Understand the key settings

After the planning stage, arrive at the location set up and ready to shoot Frame rate and ISO In Europe, your camera’s video recording frame rate should ideally be set to 25fps, while in the US it should be set to 30fps. In terms of ISO, you should use the native or baseline ISO of your camera. “You don’t really want to change that, because that will give you the best colour depth and the best dynamic range,” explains pro Daniel Peters.


Shutter speed or angle On dedicated digital film cameras, you may find that shutter speed is called shutter angle. A shutter angle of 180-degrees is equivalent to 1/50sec, assuming a frame rate of 25fps. This can be calculated by multiplying the fps by 360 then dividing the result by the shutter angle. The shutter speed (or angle) doesn’t need to be changed once set.

White balance or Kelvin Don’t use Auto White Balance as you would in stills photography. “Change your white balance in every environment that you go in,” Peters says. “So, outside, daylight is 56 [5600 Kelvin] and when you’re under Tungsten lights you want to change it to 32 [3200 Kelvin].” The white balance can be altered for creative effects and deliberate colour casts.


ND filters A set of ND filters is well worth investing in, if you don’t already have one. Rather than sacrificing shallow depth of field in bright lighting, many filmmakers will instead use a neutral density filter to restrict the light

VIDEO SKILLS PLAN AHEAD Come up with a storyboard before shooting so that you can work through filming the individual shots methodically

Get set up for filming KNOW YOUR LOCATION If time and circumstance allows, it’s almost always worthwhile to visit your location before the shoot to establish obstacles you are likely to face

KIT SELECTIONS DIRECT OR SHOOT Here, James Jebson is directing, leaving Daniel Peters to concentrate on the cinematography

Picking the kit you’ll use on a location shoot is a vital part of the planning process. Here, James Jebson and Daniel Peters are using Blackmagic’s 2.5K Cinema Camera




Soulful storytelling Professional photographer Rebecca Miller strives to produce thought-provoking, unique and memorable imagery Using inspiration “This shot was inspired by the twins in the City Of Lost Children. The models were so great for this shot and after a few minutes they started mirroring each other seamlessly” All images © Rebecca Miller




s fresh and unpretentious as her work, Rebecca Miller is the first to admit that teenage self-portraits were part of her introduction to photography, alongside taking pictures of her high school friends at a local abandoned military base. It’s easy to describe what she does as shooting portraits and fashion, but more specifically than that, she explains that she’s “trying to tell stories that involve people. Within these stories I like to capture colour, light and texture.” In such an image-saturated age, it can be hard to maintain a personal, niche style while still being inspired by others and Miller thinks the easiest way to do this is to avoid imitation. “Inspiration is important, but don’t try and duplicate anyone because it just won’t work. The only way to stay consistent is to shoot what makes you happy, not what’s trendy at the time, or what someone else is doing. You have to stay true to yourself.” Miller herself recognises how hard it can be to stand out however, especially “these days when we are just overwhelmed with imagery and seem to have less and less time.” How then, does she hope her images come across to others? “I want there to be something in the images that keeps you looking at them and then thinking about them again later on. I don’t want you to just look at it quickly and then move on.” Her first high-profile job came when shooting the band Sonic Youth for Flux Magazine. “You


can imagine how nervous I was. I had a few hours with them and I was so young and inexperienced I nearly broke out in hives from the stress of the experience.” In the end she loved the results of the shoot, but thinks a little bit of nervous energy is good, as long as it doesn’t take over. Despite her experience, having shot high-profile names from Vivienne Westwood to PJ Harvey, Miller admits she still

“Everything is planned out so that on the day of the shoot everyone knows exactly what to do” gets tense before a big commission. “It’s no surprise that I used to not be able to sleep the night before a shoot, but now I’m much better. For the most part I treat my commissions like personal projects; I’m always thinking about how the job will work in my book.” While some professional image makers try to keep their personal and commercial work separate, Miller’s ultimate goal is “to have a

portfolio full of both commissions and personal work where you can’t see the difference. I want all the work to have a soul and to feel as though it’s part of one larger story.” Commissions are often a back and forth process and when they do come in, her first step is always to ask a lot of questions. “I think it’s important to have everything very clear up front. I’ve had clients ask for things like ‘iconic imagery’ or ‘vibey imagery’ both of which mean nothing when you think about it. Once you’re at the point where everyone knows what they are looking for, then I start to plan out the shoot.” Usually, this starts with Miller sussing out the location herself, where she’ll then spend some time trying to figure out what the final images might look like. “I take loads of photos, then spend a few days brainstorming ideas,” with these vitally important planning stages often involving sketches, commissioned illustrations and sometimes even collages. “My ideal is for the photograph to almost be finished before I take the picture – everything is planned out [beforehand] so that on the day of the shoot everyone knows exactly what to do.” While planning in such detail might seem to stifle creativity, Miller admits that there’s always room for surprise during a shoot, which for her is “kind of the best part, when something happens that you didn’t expect. I’m always a little sad at the end of a big project because I love the process so much.”



Window light “I wanted this image to feel very much like springtime; bringing the outside inside and bringing the sunshine inside. I love how fresh this image feels” Above

Ben Howard “I shot Ben Howard for the press surrounding his first album. This was a crazily hot day in London and we spent the day chasing the natural light around an old beautiful house in Whitechapel” Left

Mumford And Sons “This was the first press shoot I did with the band and the boys were singing all day. We shot in a concert hall in an old unused hospital”



After the shoot, Miller’s images are retouched by Kasia Stret at Studio Invisible and for her, this is a new luxury. “I actually don’t retouch my own work anymore. It really is a full-time job to be great at it. There’s a huge backlash about retouching at the moment and I do understand why, but it’s not all about airbrushing skin and thigh gaps. For me it’s everything else; the

Above is as important as what you do with it. “I have Family portraits a simple lighting kit that I use on smaller jobs “I had the pleasure of photographing Vivienne Westwood… and I rent big, heavy lights on bigger jobs; I I loved Vivienne’s mannequins, which were everywhere think knowing what to do with the kit is more and wanted them to be part of the images. These images feel almost like family portraits with the mannequins” important the actual kit. Make sure you are comfortable with your camera and your lenses so that the technical aspect doesn’t get in the Miller’s top five way and you can just shoot.” tips for a smooth Although there’s no doubt that Miller is a creative who’s comfortable behind the lens, commissioned shoot every industry has its challenges. Though realising that the topic is enough for an article Plan ahead Always scout the in itself, she explains how male-dominated the location you’re going to be shooting in field still is. “As a female photographer you need beforehand and take pictures to remind to be confident. Confidence will make everyone yourself of the lighting and layout later. feel at ease when they are working with you, [though] it’s something I’ve struggled with in Know your aim Storyboard your ideas the past.” She’s quick to note, however, that out… Always have a clear direction of “there’s a big difference between confidence colour treatment, making the lighting more what you want from the shoot. and arrogance.” Miller feels as if she’s still trying dramatic and making the images feel like film.” to work out herself what the best advice is for When she’s not photographing famous faces, Pick a strong team A great shoot Miller looks for models herself, or with the client. aspiring pros, but notes that being a successful should feel like a collaboration and photographer isn’t always about pure talent. “A bad model can ruin the shoot. I feel like I have everyone… Should [add] something. to relate to her and she has to understand what “It’s a cocktail of ambition, drive and resilience. I think if the talent is there then keep pushing I’m trying to say.” Set the tone I always try to make a yourself and try new things, don’t just keep She’s a photographer most at home when new playlist for each shoot; music is doing the same photograph over and over.” she has full control over the lighting and doesn’t so important on set as it creates the “Staying ambitious is important, as I feel shoot outside on location often. “The most atmosphere and keeps everyone happy people lose this when they get older,” she says. important thing for me is diffusion. I want the and calm. A music-free shoot is not fun. “Keep contacting new clients and thinking of new light to be soft and natural. I tend to bounce ways to get your work out there. Being resilient the light off a few different surfaces and then Retain energy levels Coffee and food is very important [and] I think a lot of people through multiple layers of diffusion before it hits are very important on set. give up too soon. It’s a hard career path, but the model.” Like many talented photographers DP if you really want it you will stick it out.” however, Miller doesn’t think what kit you use

“I think knowing what to do with the kit is more important the actual kit”



Win kit worth

£250 Be in with a chance of winning the Samsung NX3000 with a 16GB EVO SD memory card With its stylish, retro design and its 20.3MP APS-C sensor, the Samsung NX3000 is more than a capable camera for any photographer, whether you need a portable option for on-the-go captures, or a second shooter. This issue, we’re offering you the chance to win this incredible camera, along with a 16GB Samsung EVO SD memory card. Three runners up will also receive a 16GB EVO SD memory card, too! Bundled with a 16-50mm f3.5-5.6 lens, along with Wi-Fi and NFC capabilities, this camera is the ultimate option for versatile shooting and sharing. The NFC-enabled Remote Viewfinder Pro even turns your smartphone into a remote control, enabling you to adjust settings, from shutter speed to aperture, straight from your mobile. The NX3000 also embraces the growing selfie trend, with a three-inch flip-up LCD that includes a Wink Shot mode, which triggers a two-second self-timer when you wink at the lens. No camera is complete without a reliable memory card, so we’re including a 16GB Samsung EVO SD memory card. With transfer speeds of up to 48MB per second and a magnetic, x-ray, temperature and waterproof chassis, you can rest assured that your images are safe no matter where in the world you are. Head to for more information, and see below to find out how to be in with a chance of winning this incredible kit.

How to enter Please email your best photo, your name and contact details to with ‘Issue 168 Samsung competition’ in the subject line by 17 Dec 2015.

Terms and conditions This competition is open to residents of the United Kingdom and Ireland. Imagine Publishing has the right to substitute the prize with a similar item of equal or higher value. Camera colours may vary. Employees of Imagine Publishing (including freelancers), Samsung, their relatives or any agents are not eligible to enter. The editor’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into. Prizes cannot be exchanged for cash. Full terms and conditions are available upon request. From time to time, Imagine Publishing or its agents may send you related material or special offers. If you do not wish to receive this, please state clearly on your entry.



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High-speed shoot out Many photographers consider the 35mm as their go-to lens, but which of these primes is worthy of a place in your kitbag? Few focal lengths cause so much debate among photographers as the 35mm. At some time or other in a photographer’s career the prospect of choosing a high-speed 35mm prime over either a 28mm or a 50mm will arise and quite often over time they’ll drift between them. Not obviously wide like the 28mm and with a slightly more generous field of view and additional depth of field over the 50mm, ultra-fast 35mm lenses like this were often described in the days of film as the perfect focal length for photojournalism, or reportage photography. In truth that was a euphemism, as these lenses provided a brighter viewfinder image in low light and were really only sharp in the centre at wider apertures where the camera’s focusing aids were located. Large aperture lenses like this used to suffer from curvature of field and a lack of contrast, not to mention the often-excessive chromatic aberrations. With the advent of digital sensors and more modern lens designs, that’s less of


an issue than it once was. That makes theses lenses ideal for candids, street, travel and even astrophotography. To say lenses like this are flexible is an understatement. There are some downsides to consider though. All four lenses reviewed are large, weighty and, with one noticeable exception, neither are they particularly accessible in terms of pricing. In general the more modern designs are much more usable wide-open than they ever were, but while most first-order aberrations are mostly kept in check, higher-order aberrations such as secondary longitudinal chromatic aberration and the troublesome purple fringing, may still be present. They’re all very hard to remove in post – often impossibly so – and while it’s not always an issue for stills photographers, it can be a showstopper for professional videographers with a lot of footage to correct. If you’ve seen some of the prices for high-end cine lenses then you’ll begin to understand why they can get away with it.




SRP: £1,449 / $1,843

Zeiss Distagon T* 35mm f1.4 ZE Is the lack of autofocus in this highspeed model a problem, or does the premium build quality overrule it? Featuring an all-metal body, the Zeiss is beautifully made. And although the Zeiss is a retrofocus model with a long barrel and tele-centric design, it is – somewhat surprisingly – smaller than the Sony-made Zeiss model also featured in this test. Of course this is a manual focus-only model and while it has a broad and finely ribbed focus collar with superb damping and a long, around 140-degree, throw for improved focus precision, it is tricky to use at wide apertures with modern viewfinders. It is great when used with Live View on a tripod if you’ve got plenty of time, but that’s not what this lens was designed for principally. Furthermore, there’s no viewfinder focus confirmation, at least when using the Canon model. This isn’t so much a shortcoming of the lens rather it is highlighting the limitations of modern viewfinders. But how about image quality? Well, it produces a lovely rendering wide open, not unlike the Nikkor, but sharpness is behind that of the Sigma and Sony initially in outer field. It wouldn’t be surprising to see this improved eventually as part of the recently introduced Milvus line-up, especially as it is missing from the range currently. It also has low fringing even wide open. Stop down to f2.8-4 and the images it produces are literally stunning and of course remain so at f5.6-8 where the increase in depth of field is useful. It is even slightly more contrasty than the Sony-made Zeiss.



Build quality This manual focus-only model is available in Nikon mount with aperture ring and a fully electronic Canon EF mount Right

Contrast Large structure contrast is excellent and micro-contrast is very good centrally at f2, with the focus on the background


SRP: £1,736 / $1,800

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f1.4G Nikon eschewed an ultra-fast 35mm autofocus model for decades, but finally introduced this model Released back in 2010, around the same time as the Zeiss, the Nikkor is already beginning to show its age. No one can really fault the rendering, or drawing style, which is simply superb, or its impressive resolution when stopped down on the D810. It is, however, the least well-corrected model of the bunch; it shows quite high levels of lateral chromatic aberration at wider apertures and has some slight spherical aberration and purple fringing at f1.4 that’s impossible to clear up in software. That gives image the smooth transitions to out-of-focus areas, but if you look closely it lacks the clarity of the others. Barrel distortion is also the highest in the group, but for all that the lens is still very likable. Although large, it is short and stubby and one of the smallest of four (the other being the Sigma). It’s also a joy to use. Autofocus is quiet except for a slight rasping sound, but its smooth and reasonably brisk given the size, though perhaps not quite as fast as the Sigma or as quiet as the Sony. Best of all though, there were few – if any – focus errors. Although the manual focus collar is quite narrow by comparison, it has the lightest damping of the four with a reasonably long throw for an AF lens, allowing focusing with just one finger, if that suits. Build quality is good, but the outer shell feels like engineering plastic.


Classic design Externally the lens follows others in the line up, but it isn’t anything like as solid as the Nikkor 24mm f1.4 in build Right

Purple fringing The Nikkor has good sharpness, but even at f2.8 the lens still has too many chromatic aberrations



SRP: £1,509 / $1,598

Sony Distagon T* FE 35mm F1.4 ZA Using a Zeiss Distagon design, this no-holds-barred E-mount model is designed for mirrorless bodies Designed exclusively for Sony full-frame mirrorless cameras by Zeiss, this lens can’t be adapted for use with DSLR bodies, but that may not be an issue. It’s the latest of the four models on test and expectations are high. Being made of metal and offering an aperture collar with third-stop detents and with a handy slider to de-click for video, this lens feels like a top-drawer option. It is, however, completely at odds with the size of the bodies; it’s the biggest of the lenses on test and considering its traditional target audience, it is far from discreet. Autofocus is eerily silent, but not particularly fast on the a7R as focusing is performed at the taking aperture. In low light the a7R can really struggle, though Sony has changed that with later bodies. As you might expect, image quality is excellent, but it’s not perfect. Wide open it is sharp and it has that Zeiss rendering, but it doesn’t quite have the same micro-contrast as the other Distagon in the test and there’s some lateral and longitudinal chromatic aberration visible. Purple fringing is mercifully low, however. Stopped down a little things start to improve, unsurprisingly, with excellent resolution and contrast from corner to corner, but images still lack the bite and distinctive look of the other Zeiss model; you would have to compare the two side-by-side to appreciate it, and to be honest it is subjective anyway.



Zeiss design This lens has consistent sharpness and resolution, but it can’t quite match the bite of the Zeiss ZE Right

Micro-contrast Don’t expect a poor performance from this flash simply because of the price


SRP: £800 / $899

Sigma 35mm f1.4 DG HSM A Sigma redefined what’s possible with high-speed autofocus lenses – this is close to an everyday model Sigma was once known for making affordable, if not cutting-edge lenses, but that changed with the company’s highly publicised Global Vision policy. This lens was the first model that really challenged the big names and it easily holds its own here, even against the latest Sony-made Zeiss model at twice the price. In fact, it’s so good that it’ll take something really special to beat it, but don’t hold your breath. This is another long-barrelled lens designed to minimise corner shading with digital sensors; it’s still big and heavy, but surprisingly it’s one of the smallest in the group. In terms of build it feels quite robust, mixing composites and metal, but time will be the true judge. For an AF lens the manual focus collar is heavily damped, especially when compared with the Nikkor, and it has a slightly longer throw than that model of around 100-degrees. Autofocus is probably the fastest of the three AF models on test, but it’s not as fast as a 24-70mm f2.8 at 35mm, but then that’s expected with a lens like this. AF accuracy was good even at f1.4. As for image quality, it rivals the Zeiss for correction – maybe even surpasses it; there’s practically no spherical aberration or purple fringing and it is sharp wide open. Stopping down to f4 onwards improves sharpness in the corners and its flat field means that it’s just as good for reportage as it is for landscapes.


State of the art This lens was the first from the maker to change the perception of the brand. It’s well built and weighty, but one of the more compact models Right

Flat field This lens has many fine attributes, but its flatness of field makes it stand out



Zeiss Distagon T* 35mm f1.4 ZE

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f1.4G

Manufacturer Features Zeiss It may lack AF, but it Model has a raft of features Distagon T* including an aspheric element, ED type glass 35mm f1.4 ZE and floating elements Price £1,449/$1,843 Web Build quality All Zeiss classic models Elements/ have a level of build construction quality and luxurious feel 11 / 9 that are rarely found on Angle of view lenses today 54.4 degrees (horizontal) Max aperture Handling f1.4 This lens has excellent ergonomics despite the Min aperture large size. Focusing is f16 smooth and Min focus highly precise distance 0.3m Mount Quality Nikon F, Canon EF of results Filter size Produces excellent 72mm results at most Length apertures, but this lens 120-122mm is a little soft wide open Diameter 78mm Value for money Weight Few people could say 830-850g this was cheap, but over the long term this lens would represent excellent value

Manufacturer Nikon Model AF-S Nikkor 35mm f1.4G Price £1,736/$1,800 Web Elements/ construction 10 / 7 Angle of view 63 degrees (44 with Nikon DX Format) Max aperture f1.4 Min aperture f16 Min focus distance 0.3m Mount Nikon F (G) Filter size 67mm Length 89.5mm Diameter 83mm Weight 600g



Lacking AF the Zeiss is a deliberate choice. It’s certainly not cheap, but the results when stopped down are spectacular


Features This model has many pro-level features including a single aspheric element and Nano coating

Build quality Nikon Japan touts this lens as having a magnesium alloy shell, but it feels more like engineering plastic

Handling The focus ring is very lightly damped, but it retains precision and is joy to use. Balance is great on the D810

Quality of results An attractive drawing style, but has high levels of chromatic aberrations at wider apertures

Value for money The list price is really stretching things a bit, but on the street you’ll find it to be more reasonably priced

Viewed in isolation this lens would impress, but it looks less compelling when compared against rivals like the Sigma and Zeiss

Sony Distagon T* FE 35mm F1.4 ZA Manufacturer Sony Model Distagon T* FE 35mm F1.4 ZA Price £1,509/$1,598 Web Elements/ construction 12 / 8 Angle of view 44 degrees Max aperture f1.4 Min aperture f16 Min focus distance 0.3m Mount Sony E Filter size 72mm Length 112mm Diameter 78.5mm Weight 630g


Features Has every conceivable feature; three aspherical surfaces, weatherproofing and a sonic-type focus motor

Build quality With an all metal body and engraved lettering this is very nicely made, durable looking and feeling model

Handling The size is at odds with the a7 bodies. Focusing is slow on the a7R, but that’s been improved on later models

Quality of results Resolution and contrast are good across most of the aperture range, but lacks Zeiss magic

Value for money List price is lower than the Nikkor and the Zeiss, however it commands a high price as it’s still so new

Although bizarrely larger than the retrofocus models few could complain about the image quality or build – lacks Zeiss micro-contrast

Sigma 35mm f1.4 DG HSM A Manufacturer Sigma Model 35mm f1.4 DG HSM A Price £800/$899 Web Elements/ construction 13 / 11 Angle of view 63.4 degrees Max aperture f1.4 Min aperture f16 Min focus distance 0.3m Mount Canon EF, Nikon F, Sony A, Sigma, Pentax Filter size 67mm Length 94mm Diameter 77mm Weight 665g


Features The Sigma uses more exotic glass types than any other on test and has a floating system like the Zeiss

Build quality Build quality is very good even though it uses a mixture of metal and composites. It also looks a little austere

Handling Auto-focus is generally accurate, smooth and quite quick. Manual focus is hard to fault and balance is good

Quality of results Resolution and contrast is amazingly consistent, just what professionals demand in a lens like this

Value for money At around half the price of the other models on test, few could argue this lens doesn’t represent outstanding value

Optical quality does cost a lot of money, but this is more accessibly priced than most and with AF it’s arguably the more practical option


SRP: £449 / $599

DxO ONE It may be small, but is this pocket-friendly camera mighty enough to rival its biggersiblings? Renowned for premium-quality photo-editing software, DxO took the industry by complete surprise in June 2015 with the announcement of the DxO ONE, its first foray into hardware of this kind. Featuring a one-inch 20.2 MP CMOS sensor, an 11.9mm (32mm equivalent) f1.8 fixed lens alongside the ability to shoot in RAW – all in a lightweight, petite chassis – the ONE boasts an impressive specification. On paper it might sound revolutionary, but how exactly do the specs translate in practice? Weighing only 108g and reaching the dizzy heights of 6.8cm tall, it’s an extremely portable camera. It doesn’t feature a viewfinder, but that’s where your iPhone comes in. Slide down the lens cover and the camera automatically turns on – nudge the cover even further down and the Lightning connector pops out to attach the ONE to your device. Once you’ve downloaded the DxO ONE app you’re ready. The app itself is what really makes the DxO ONE; it’s possible to shoot standalone, but the ONE remains in Auto mode and it’s impossible to see what you’re shooting or to focus. Connecting to the app provides plenty of functions, including touchscreen focusing, shooting modes (automatic, semi-automatic and manual), the ability to change ISO, aperture and white balance among others. From a company renowned for high-quality editing software, though, it would’ve been a welcome addition to have some kind of in-app editing available – as it stands, edits have to be made in a separate third-party app. In bright conditions, the quality of results is astounding when compared to the results

of most smartphones on the market, with a wonderfully rich colour palette and a pleasing depth of field at narrower apertures. When attached in reverse to your iPhone, the DxO ONE automatically switches to Selfie mode, providing a handy countdown and turning the phone’s screen a pleasant shade of peach for a flattering fill light. Results take a turn for the worse in darker conditions, however, with an evident loss of detail on closer inspection. Happily, noise at higher ISOs is well controlled – perhaps in part thanks to the integration of DxO’s SuperRAW format, which averages four RAW files into just one shot. Unfortunately the DxO ONE has a few design flaws that hinder its operation. While its diminutive size makes it extremely pocketfriendly and portable, the lens cover is easily knocked open, which leaves the glass vulnerable and automatically switches on the camera. Frustratingly, the battery life of the ONE is short-lived, so any accidental switchingon of the camera in a pocket is another drain on what’s left of the battery life.

Summary Features Build quality Handling Quality of results Value for money

Overall The DxO ONE can’t compete with its DSLR counterparts, but results are good. Price and short battery life might put potential users off though


Flattering light When the ONE is attached facing the user it automatically goes into selfie mode, featuring a countdown and a flattering peach-coloured fill light Below

Pocket-friendly At only 108g and at 6.8cm tall, the DxO ONE is incredibly portable, but the sliding lens cover is easily knocked out of place




Easy to use The elegantly simple design of the camera brings the essentials of photography to the fore, enabling you to take full control


Beautiful design The look and feel of the Leica Q is undeniably delightful and the use of quality materials and precision workmanship is obvious


EICA Q (TYP 116)

SRP: £2,900 / $4,250

Leica Q (Typ 116) A full-frame fixed-lens compact from Leica is bound to be an attractive proposition, but does it have what it takes to woo the masses? In most areas of life there is some form of acknowledged zenith, a doyen of precision, prestige and refinement. In the camera world, this station indubitably belongs to Leica. It’s quite commonplace for these cameras to be likened to Rolls Royce cars – elegant, timeless, exclusive – but a reputation such as this is often inherently accompanied by the rather less welcome implication that Leica principally makes products for those with sufficient affluence to indulge in the purchase of a luxury brand, rather than tools for working photographers. It’s hard to discharge Leica on the issue of cost. The new Leica Q, a fixed lens compact camera, carries a suggested retail price of £2,900/$4,250. For a camera of this type, this hardly represents a modest investment. If your budget isn’t a munificent one, you may not be casting too many meaningful glances in the direction of the Leica Q. From a sheer bang for your buck point of view, there are clearly many other options on the market that will yield more abundant dividends. Any concerns that the Leica Q isn’t designed with real-world photographers in mind can be safely dispatched. Were it not for the fairly substantial price tag, this might well be an apposite recommendation for someone looking for their very first camera. This is because all of photography’s underlying elements make immediate sense when using the Leica Q. If you’re learning how a photograph is achieved and what the ingredients of a successful exposure are, this Leica will enable you to focus on what matters rather than a surfeit of peripheral settings.

Similarly, if you’re an experienced photographer more used to shooting with a typical DSLR or CSC, on which the core fundamentals of taking a photo can sometimes become a little obscured amid the myriad of confounding custom menus, dials and buttons, you’ll find a few hours spent in the Leica Q’s more urbane company positively edifying. You’ll even feel like a better photographer after using the Leica Q; not because it takes over and holds your hand, but because it furnishes you with a sense of satisfaction. What the Leica Q does so well is to take a step to one side, so as not to get in the photographer’s way. For all their technological sophistication and the help that they clearly offer, many modern cameras provide a somewhat overwhelming user experience. As a manufacturer, Leica is a maven of design simplicity and the avoidance of superfluities is abundantly clear. The design of the camera and the layout of its buttons speak of considered simplicity and unfettered attentiveness to what truly matters. There

“What the Leica Q does so well is to take a step to one side, so as not to get in the photographer’s way”

FEATURES MACRO MODE The fixed 28mm lens features a convenient Macro mode for focusing as close as 17cm to your subject.

FULL-FRAME Despite being a fixed-lens compact, it contains a 24.2-megapixel full-frame sensor, so it’s able to produce results comparable to bulkier models.

DIGITAL ZOOM The 28mm focal length is very flexible, but some potential users might have preferred a 35mm focal length instead. There is, however, a digital zoom.

MANUAL HELP It lends itself well towards manual photography, including focusing. To assist with this, the Leica Q boasts Focus Peaking and Live View Zoom.

MODERN TOUCH Despite having a strong sense of tradition, one of the more contemporary elements of the Leica is the built in Wi-Fi module for sharing images.

ADDITIONAL ACCESSORIES Various bespoke accessories are available, including a leather protector, screen protection film, a holster strap and a handgrip with finger loops.




ISO 6400

ISO 12500

ISO RESULTS Noise is very well controlled right up to ISO 6400. Beyond this, it does become rather more invasive, but even at the heights of ISO 50000, acceptable black and white images are possible, though optimum quality is sacrificed.

ISO 25000

ISO 50000

“The Leica Q offers a well-balanced handling experience thanks to a body that feels solid without being excessively heavy”

are no buttons for the sake of buttons and no mystifying customisable dials. Take, for example, the camera’s rear panel: there’s a neat column of five buttons over on the left and a four-way control dial with centre button over on the right. The ergonomics of the camera are similarly politic. Directly above the four-way control dial, there’s an indent for your right thumb to nestle into, negating the need for a raised grip on the rear of the body. It doesn’t quite resolve the absence of a grip on the front of the camera, but, if this presents a handling issue for you, there’s always the option of the Leica Q Handgrip accessory. Using the handgrip will also add to the size and bulk of the camera, a pertinent point considering that, for what is technically speaking a compact, the Leica Q is not particularly small. In truth, this is a moot point; the body houses a 24.2-megapixel full-frame sensor, after all, but it’s something that’s bound to be remarked upon as a negative by some nonetheless. During testing, the Leica Q didn’t seem too big, offering instead a wellbalanced handling experience thanks to a body that feels solid without being excessively heavy. In terms of simplicity of use, much can go wrong once you head into a camera’s menu system, but this is not the case with the Leica Q. The menu system here is characteristically methodical and readily comprehensible. The image quality that the camera produces is very good. The Auto White Balance performance is consistent and reliable, though it seems to err on the side of slightly cool – something that we’ve observed in some previous Leica camera reviews we’ve tested – but this obviously isn’t a significant problem. Similarly consistent is the camera’s metering, with no apparent tendencies towards either


Is video vital? Impressive though the Leica Q undoubtedly is, it’s not perfect. No camera is, but one area in which this fixed lens full frame compact takes its eye off the ball a little is in the video department. Of course, the Leica Q shoots videos, but it appears to be an after-thought. There is no 4K capture and no external microphone connection. That Leica should be something of an iconoclast in terms of video capture in what are essentially stills cameras is not in itself a surprise, but many other manufacturers have been increasingly keen to endow their releases with competitive video specification. To what extent do photographers value video capability? Is it now a universally essential feature? Should cameras such as this eschew video entirely? Get in touch and share your thoughts on the importance, or otherwise, of video.





under or overexposure noticed during testing. The fixed Summilux 28mm f1.7 ASPH lens produces sharp results, handling flare well when shooting into the Sun, and its focal length enables the camera to function effectively for both street and scenic shooters, though this arguably means it’s not absolutely ideal for either. The contrast-detection autofocus system is fast and responsive and there really is nothing that gets in the way or causes frustration with this camera. However, you can switch very easily into manual focus mode, if you prefer and there’s also the ability to switch to a macro mode, enabling focusing as close as 17cm. The camera produces a very good performance in terms of dynamic range and RAW files are, conveniently, recorded to the DNG format. The electronic LCOS display viewfinder is a great performer too, so if you don’t like LCD screens there is an alternative. Above-inset


Detail and clarity

Dynamic range

The images that the camera produces are full of detail and the lens appears to be a very capable performer

The Leica Q exhibits excellent dynamic range with plenty of detail in both shadows and highlights


Leica Q (Typ 116)

1 1




NEATLY DESIGNED The back of the Leica Q is extremely uncluttered with a neatly arranged set of buttons and a four-way control dial

LCD SCREEN 2 The camera’s rear LCD screen doesn’t tilt, as this wouldn’t fit with the aesthetic of the Q, but it is touch-enabled

ELECTRONIC VIEWFINDER 3 The Leica Q features a lovely EVF with 3.68-megapixel display and eye sensor for automatic switching between the monitor

INDENT 4 THUMB Rather than use a grip on the back of the camera, the Leica Q features a clever indent that keeps the camera as svelte as possible

Megapixels 24.2 Max resolution 6000 x 4000 Sensor information Full-frame CMOS 24x36mm Lens data 28mm f1.7 Shutter speed 30secs to 1⁄2000secs ISO sensitivity Automatic, ISO 100 to ISO 50000 Exposure modes A, P, S, M Metering options MF, CW, S Flash modes N/A Connectivity Wi-Fi, NFC, Micro USB, HDMI Weight 590g (without battery) Dimensions 130 x 80 x 93mm Batteries Leica BP-DC12 lithium ion Storage SD/SDHC/SDXC LCD 3-inch TFT Viewfinder Electronic LCOS display

Features The Leica Q isn’t overloaded with features, as it’s simply not meant to be that kind of camera

Build quality The build quality of the Q is beyond reproach. The camera feels like it can withstand plenty of use

Handling What a joy it is to use the Leica Q. It’s the sort of camera that can renew one’s love of taking pictures

Quality of results The Leica Q produces great-quality images, thanks to a good sensor and lens combination

Value for money If you are about to spend £3000 on a camera, it’s difficult to ignore that better value can be had elsewhere

Overall The Leica Q is a superb imaging tool that’s difficult not to fall in love with. It’s a shame that the price means that many photographers will not be able to consider it


REVIEWS SRP: £770 / $1,000

Canon PowerShot G3 X

When it comes to focal range, the Canon G3 X is a knock out, but is that enough to punch to the top?


Accurate exposure The camera is quick to focus and exposes accurately in challenging situations


Colourful captures Colours are true-to-life and you can experiment with the range of creative effects on board

It’s all about the zoom with Canon’s hotly anticipated PowerShot G3 X. With the longest reach in its class, the 24-600mm (equivalent) lens brings far-away subjects to the fore, easily trumping the Sony RX10 II 24-200mm and the Panasonic FZ1000 25-400mm. All three cameras share the same one-inch-type sensor and maximum aperture of f2.8, but while the Sony and Panasonic models maintain a fast aperture at the telephoto end, with f2.8 and f4 respectively, the Canon drops to f5.6. Despite this, the G3 X puts in an impressive performance across the focal range, producing sharp images with only a slight dip in detail at the edges of the frame at the longest setting. The magnesium alloy body feels robust and is weather resistant, so you can leave those plastic bags at home. Existing Canon users will feel very comfortable with the control layout and interface. There is a useful exposure compensation dial on top and a front control dial – as seen on EOS DSLR cameras. This, along with the navigation wheel at the rear, enables you to change aperture and shutter speed quickly and easily in manual mode. Speaking of speed, the G3 X can fire JPEGs at 5.9 frames per second with the focus point locked in the first shot, or 3.2fps with AF tracking. There’s the option to set the focus using the touchscreen to tap on the area you – from a minimum focusing and it’s super-fast thanks to ocus system. Manual focus ilable, but it can be tricky


to view in bright conditions. In those cases, you really begin to miss a viewfinder. There is the option to purchase an external EVF, but it’s costly and adds bulk, and rivals from Panasonic and Sony have a built-in unit. On the plus side, the LCD is a sizeable 3.2 inches and has a high 1,620,000-dot resolution. The display tilts upwards for shooting selfportraits, or downwards for composing high angles, but a fully articulated screen would have offered more creative freedom. Canon has included seven different filters, creative shot mode and background defocus mode. The latter is a little unnecessary, given that the nine-blade aperture creates beautiful bokeh for isolating subjects anyway. Image quality is as close to professional as you’re going to get with a superzoom, thanks to the large sensor. Noise is well controlled up to ISO 800, but ISO 1600 still offers usable results for small prints, and there is also the option to shoot in RAW. Those who are interested in video can record Full HD footage with optical zoom and stereo sound, and at a number of frame rates, from 24-60p, but not 4K. Shooting in manual video mode enables you to take control of aperture and shutter speed. Both stills and videos are sharp, with the optical image stabilisation helping to combat any handheld wobbles. The far-reaching zoom, fantastic range of exposure modes and features, and impressive image quality mean that the G3 X would feel at home in any photographer’s travel kit. If you can live without an EVF, then this is the superzoom to beat.



Get closer to the action with the Provides protection against the 25x optical zoom lens and built-in elements, sporting a magnesium image stabiliser. alloy body with rubber seals.



Shoot Full HD video with a range of frame rates. Microphone and headphone jacks ensure quality.

Built-in Wi-Fi and NFC mean that users can easily share shots over social networks.



The large LCD can be tilted for shooting high angles and from the hip. It’s also touchscreen.

Inside the G3 X sits a one-inch 20.2-megapixel sensor and the DIGIC 6 processor.


SHARP SHOOTING Canon has compensated for such a long lens – extending to 600mm – with dual-axis optical stabilisation available for stills, and five-axis Dynamic IS in video, with a choice of low, standard and high settings.

Canon PowerShot G3 X


Weather proof With a stylish magnesium-alloy body it’s protected against the elements


Compact and versatile The build is excellent quality, comfortable and robust

Megapixels 20.2 Max resolution 5472 x 3648 Sensor information 1-inch back-illuminated CMOS Lens data f2.8-f5.6 24-600mm Focus/macro 5cm-Infinity/5cm-50cm Shutter speed 1-1/2,000sec ISO sensitivity A, 125-12800 Exposure modes SA, P, A, S, M, HA, CS, Scene Metering options CW, S, E Flash modes A, Fon, Foff, SS Connectivity USB Weight 733g (with battery) Dimensions 123.3 x 76.5 x 105.3 mm Batteries Li-ion Storage SD, SDHC, SDXC LCD 3.2 inches Viewfinder None

Features Has a high-resolution touchscreen and versatile 24-600mm lens, but it lacks a built-in viewfinder

Build quality The weather-sealed body means that you can be confident shooting in all conditions. It feels superb

Handling Customisable controls, command dial and an exposure compensation dial speeds up shooting in manual

Quality of results The large sensor helps to produce excellent image quality. Noise is kept under control and bokeh is beautiful

Value for money With more zoom for your money and a host of features, this model offers great value

Overall There’s plenty for an experienced photographer to love. Robust build quality, excellent zoom range and pro image quality – if only it had a built-in EVF


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Add atmosphere with ND filters Extendexposuretimesforcreativeeffectwiththeseeasy-to-usefilters One of the most common questions There are two basic types of ND filter – the asked by budding landscape traditional screw-in filters and the slot-in type, which come as part of a system, such as photographers is: “How do I get that misty water look?” For once in photography, those made by Lee Filters. The screw-in type there is a relatively straightforward answer: are arguably more light-tight and better at you need to shoot with a long enough shutter preventing flare caused by light bouncing between the filter and the lens, whereas the speed so that anything that moves while the shutter is open – such as waves slot-in type is more flexible and easy to use washing on the shore – is recorded – the same filter can be used with all your lenses, they are easier to combine as a blur. This will usually require a with other filters and quicker shutter speed of several seconds or more. to attach and detach. Some VARIABLE makes also come with a However, it’s not simply a ND FILTERS foam gasket around the case of setting a long shutter Rather than carrying around back to help prevent light speed, as unless the light several filters, you can use a levels are very low, this leakage and flare. variable ND. These typically range will simply result in a very from one to nine stops. They are only available as the screw-in overexposed image. To get type and can create certain around this problem, you artefacts when used at can use a neutral density their extremes. (ND) filter. ND filters have a neutral grey coating, which reduces the amount of light coming through the lens and therefore enables you to artificially extend shutter speeds. They come in a variety of strengths – from one stop through to fifteen stops or so. Even moderate NDs can have an impact on how a scene is rendered: for example, if the correct exposure is half a second without a filter, the equivalent exposure with a four-stop ND will be eight seconds. This is quite a significant shift and shows the potential these filters have for using creatively and capturing effects that WITH ND FILTER would be near-impossible without a filter.

With lower density filters, your camera will usually be able to meter through the filter, but will probably struggle with the more extreme densities. When using extreme filters, you need to establish what the correct exposure is without the filter and then calculate what it should be with the filter in place. Double the exposure for every stop, so with a ten-stop filter, double the exposure ten times – for example, a 1/4 second exposure becomes 128 seconds. The denser filters are also too dark to see through properly, so you should compose and focus before fitting the filter. If you need to recompose you’ll need to remove the filter, so most photographers find slot-in filters far easier to work with.


Moving skies It’s not just water that can be enhanced through the use of long exposures; skies are rendered as brush strokes of colour


Enhance colour ND filters and longer exposures can help to enhance colour; the movement of colourful clouds will spread the hues throughout the frame

Calculate exposure with extreme NDs

Take a test shot Meter the scene without the filter (Aperture Priority mode is fine) and establish what the initial exposure should be. Focus and switch from AF to manual focus.



Calculate filtered exposure Now calculate what the exposure will be with the filter. You can use the manufacturer’s conversion chart if they supply one, or an app.


Set exposure manually Fit the filter and set the exposure manually. Use a viewfinder blind to prevent light leakage. Use Bulb for exposures longer than 30 seconds.



Get the best out of ND filters

Left & below

Use a viewfinder blind This prevents light leakage through the viewfinder, which can lead to flare.

Keep filters spotlessly clean Smears on filters not only affect image sharpness, but also makes lens flare more likely.

Focus without the filter NDs can confuse the camera’s AF system; focus before fitting the filter and then switch to manual to lock focus.

Use the closest slot If using slot-in filters, place the ND in the slot nearest the lens. This will reduce the chances of flare, as it is less likely that light will get behind the filter; if your ND has a foam or rubber gasket, make sure this makes a good seal with the filter holder.

Use Manual mode With extreme NDs, you can’t rely on your camera’s meter, so take a test shot without the filter and then calculate what the filtered exposure should be. Set the exposure manually or use Bulb mode if it’s more than 30 seconds.



Added atmosphere Lengthening exposures by using an ND filter can turn water into mist and add an ethereal look to your images


Smooth water



Ripples on the surface of water can be distracting; a longer exposure smooths the water’s surface, simplifying the image


All images © Mark Bauer

Look for contrast between moving and still elements This will result in much more dynamic compositions.


SRP: £64 / $99 OS: Windows

Zoner Photo Studio 18 Zoner Photo Studio might be reasonably priced, but is it a serious and viable option for a professional? Reasonably-priced software is often the most appealing, as no one wants to shell out for more expensive programs that might not meet their needs, or indeed might exceed them. While many photographers move on to something more advanced eventually, there are advantages of sticking with the cheaper programs. The aim of these less-expensive programs is to offer enough features so as not to overwhelm a complete beginner, but offer enough in order to stand up against the bigger more industrial programs like Photoshop. Is Zoner Photo Studio sophisticated enough for the more advanced photo-editor out there? Now in its eighteenth incarnation, Zoner Photo Studio is priced at $49 and aims to be an all-round photo editor, from organising snaps on your desktop, to cropping them and making more advanced edits. The company is an old-hand at making software, but this newest version of the program is the most complete yet. The program now supports

there’s capabilities to edit non-destructively and it’s even easier to edit light and shadows. Just connect your camera to your desktop and Zoner will start importing into its organiser. Categorising photos is easy with the lefthand panel, which can sort your shots by label, colour or even place. On from there, are simple edits that can be made with just a few clicks using the new Develop tab, such as Temperature or Brightness. Zoner even comes with a histogram interface. The speed and power of the program will certainly help to cut your working time drastically. Also new to Zoner has the ability to create your own presets for future use. Along with the higher picture quality, and tools like the Brush, Selection tools and the ability to smooth or blur, Zoner feels like a much more complete program, full of useful edits for any project imaginable. Zoner might not be the pinnacle of photo-editing, but it’s enough to satisfy any beginner or intermediate; you might want to go more advanced, but Zoner offers enough

Summary Ease of use Value for money Features Quality of results

Overall A solid choice of software for both beginners and intermediates of photo editing, Zoner Photo to use


Videos Create videos from your pictures, assign specific music, choose picture transition effects, and whether the images pan and zoom


Editor The Editor section is where the magic happens; here, you have all kinds of tools, including Brushes, Clone stamps, Erasers and Selection tools


Manager Organise your photos with ease, using labels, colours and map placements. The Manager tab also displays the image’s histogram



Apps Touch Blur Price: Free OS: , iOS 8

or later

Though many mobile apps claim that they can apply a subtle haze to your pictures, most fail when it comes to precision and subtlety. Touch Blur is much more accurate and you can alter intensity, as well as zoom for better accuracy.

Cut Paste Photos Price: Free OS: Android 2.3.3 or later

SRP: £60 / approx $92 OS: Mac/Windows

Portrait Pro V15 Get the perfect portrait and edit absolutely anything on your subject with Portrait Pro Retouching has a mixed reputation with digital artists and photographers. Some find it dull and boring, as fixing subjects is only the precursor to making more creative edits. Others though actively oppose heavy retouching, feeling that natural is simply better when it comes to photos. Portrait Professional is a portrait fixer capable of editing just about any area of your subject. It’s easy to set up too; simply start up the program, click on the right-hand panel to select a picture and begin the editing process by assigning various facial parts for the software to recognise. Everything you could possibly need to tweak is listed down the right, it starts off fairly rudimentary with excellent face-sculpting tools and the ability to widen and resize eyes, which sounds comical, but is actually rather measured and precise. As well as the more obvious tools, Portrait Professional has everything covered with features that alter makeup, eye colour and even hairstyle. Moderation is key for the program, but overall it provides a lot of fun and creative edits from quite simple ideas. This is a program that’s not only reasonably priced, it’s one that you might choose to use frequently to touch up a subject before further edits.

Cut Paste Photos is an app that enables you to take pieces of some photos and place them into others. Have fun switching faces or changing backgrounds. It’s a simple way to make ambitious photo edits from your mobile, but unfortunately isn’t superb quality.

Momentica Price: Free OS: iOS 7 or later


Face sculpting Make subtle tweaks to the shape of the chin, the forehead, or simply the position of the facial features

Summary Ease of use Value for money Features Quality of results

Overall A fantastic tool for photographers, artists and designers alike, Portrait Professional is easy to use and can provide stunning results, if you know how to wield its tools with subtlety

A great app for making videos. Momentica might even replace the existing video processor built into your phone; it includes filters, enables you to stop or pause the recording and there’s even the option to add text to your video.

Colour Effect Photo Editor Price: Free OS: Android 2.3 or later

An all-round photo editor, Colour Effect Photo Editor can add text, vignettes and focus blurs to your pictures, as well as having a good selection of filters. It’s the perfect app for applying so many effects, but by far the best thing about it is that it can create fantastic collages.



Accessories A collection of the best travel-friendly and functional accessories for photographers

1 2




Nest Odyssey 10 Rolling Bag/Backpack

Website: Price: £180 / approx. $278 ACCESSORIES

If you don’t want to leave a single piece of kit behind when you go on your travels, this camera suitcase will provide all the storage you need. The case feels very well made, has plenty of padding and includes a lock to keep your kit safe and secure. Although expensive for a small suitcase, you actually get three bags for the price of one. When you unzip the main compartment it becomes a camera backpack, albeit a bulky and square one, and leaves behind a regular case, but the case isn’t very sturdy without the backpack’s padding.



Custom Brackets CB Mini-RC Bracket

Website: Price: £40 / $65

This simple camera bracket allows you to shoot with your flash off-camera with a remote trigger cord attached and without the need for a tripod or willing assistant to hold it. The aluminium construction feels strong, but is lightweight enough to not add too much extra bulk to your camera, which is just as well as you might want to leave it there once you’ve gone to the effort of attaching it. Once it is set up though, it feels very secure and still makes it comfortable to hold your camera in whatever position you like.


Vanguard VEO 37

Website: Price: £70 / $90

This discreet camera bag is ideal for travel photographers that want quick access to their kit while keeping it secure. A DSLR and up to two lenses can be kept safely beneath two zips inside their own removable, padded compartment, while another zipped pocket conceals a plethora of pouches for smaller accessories. There are also two different tripod storage options, with a handy pocket for slipping it into the bottom of the bag, or straps for attaching it underneath.


Manfrotto PIXI EVO

Website: Price: £45 / $50

It may look small, but this ultra-compact tripod can support an entry-level DSLR weighing up to 2.5kg, providing impressive support for tabletop shooting. The plastic and aluminium construction feels a little cheap and isn’t recommended for use in wet weather, but still helps make the tripod incredibly lightweight. The ball head on top opens up lots of framing options, as does the simple slider that lets you lay the legs almost completely flat. If you want more height, then the two-section legs can be easily lengthened.


FLM CP Strap

Website: Price: £28 / $50


If you don’t fancy carrying your heavy kit bag on a shoot, but still want to have access to your tripod, then this strap is a great solution. It can attach to any tripod via two pieces of looped string at each end, enabling you to sling it over your shoulder and go. The main section is padded for comfort, has a high-quality leather finish and also includes a handy zipped pocket for storing small accessories. The length of the strap is easily adjustable and two clips allow you to quickly 111 detach it from your tripod.




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Digital photographer 168 2015