Prepare Your Trip to Get the Most of It

Are you wondering to spend your holiday in certain city in Indonesia? It must be a good idea somehow since you can find quite a lot of tourist destinations in Indonesia. Whether you are looking for best beaches to surf or to see beautiful sunset, finest mounts to climb, great museum or other things to do, you will be able to find it in Indonesia.

Now, what we need to prepare before taking vacation is Indonesia? When you finally decide to spend your vacation anywhere, it is inevitable that you need to prepare it well in order to get the most of it. When talking about Indonesia, there are few tips that you can follow to make your vacation more enjoyable.

First, you should prepare Rupiahs. Wherever you go to vacation, money will be an important thing to exchange. Since you are going to Indonesia, you will need Indonesia’s Rupiahs as the medium of exchange. You can search in the internet for banks in Indonesia that offers money changer service. Usually you can also find a few money changers in the airport once you arrive in Indonesia. If you come to Bali, you will find money changers everywhere.

Second, booking hotel is another crucial thing to prepare. It is important for you to get the best hotel to stay when you are in any city in Indonesia. You can book hotel online via some hotel providers like Mister Aladin. Here, you will be able to book hotel in any city you like to visit. Whether it is Bali, Yogyakarta, Jakarta or other cities in Indonesia, you will be able to find a hotel you like in a great deal. If you want to stay on budget when dealing with hotel, Mister Aladin is certainly the best site to go.

Since it is important to find the best hotel that meets your style and need, you can take more time to decide what to choose. In Mister Aladin, you will find it easier to compare one hotel to another since you can view the price and the facilities of each hotel available on the day you want to check in. You can also view any discount and promo provided by certain hotel at the time you are going to check in. After you find the best hotel to stay, you can prepare other things such as packing and more. Enjoy your trip!

Wedding Photography Tips For Brides: How To Look Great In Your Photos

Every bride and groom to be deserves the best for their wedding day. Especially when it comes to the event’s photo coverage, it is very important to make these the best possible. There are plenty of wedding picture ideas and wedding photography tips to help you and your hired photographers get the most memorable moments from the most important day of your lives.

A lot of people say that they are not photogenic and thus shy away from the camera. But all of this will turn around once you are preparing for your wedding, checking out your stunning wedding gown or while you are having your hair and make up done. You may not look as pretty on still photos as you are in person, but there are so many ways to trick the lens into making you 10 times better than your normal look. Remember these smart wedding picture ideas that you and your partner can truly benefit from.

1.    Don’t Mind the Cameras

•    This may be easier said than done. But if you begin to feel someone else is taking your pictures, you might get too self conscious.
•    Ignore the photographers and you wouldn’t even notice them taking stunning photos with better angles and more natural facial expressions.

2.    Be as Natural as Possible

•    One of the most logical wedding photography tips instructed by professionals to their clients is to act as natural as possible when on camera.
•    When someone tells you to smile for a photo, it is more often than not that your smile is fake or forced.
•    Just be yourself so the pictures taken are authentic and depicting of real and raw emotions.

3.    Have Natural Smiles and Blissful Eyes

•    Everybody knows that having your picture taken over a continuous and long period of time can give you eye strain from the sun light or spot lights used.
•    When you have eye strain, you start to become uncomfortable and in turn, your smile becomes fake and very unnatural.
•    Good wedding photography tips to do before the photographer captures your photo would be to shut your eyes closed for a couple of seconds to relax your eyes and then as soon as the photographer counts off, open your eyes and smile.

4.    Do the Prenuptial Shoot and the Wedding Ceremony Photo Coverage with the Same Photo Crew

•    If you’re following general wedding picture ideas and concepts for better and more natural photographs, it’s a good idea to hire just one team for the prenuptial shoot and the wedding ceremony proper.
•    When you already know who is taking your photos, and when you have a relationship with the team, you will be at ease when your wedding pictures are taken and these will look candid and more natural.

5.    Practice Makes Perfect

•    Wedding photography tips for clients like you always involve studying up on the best poses or movements to make your wedding pictures look more natural than forced.
•    Read up on wedding picture ideas and angles to makes your photos look more candid
•    Avoid poses that make you look like someone out of the catalog. The best wedding pictures exude emotion like seeing the event happening again.
•    Get yourself a mirror, the full body one if possible, and practice your smile so that when your wedding day comes you’ll have effortless shots.

6.    Stop Fussing About the Coverage During Your Wedding Day

•    You can stress and bicker over the photo preparations all you want before the actual event, but as soon as your biggest day comes, let the photography crew do their jobs.
•    It will be stressful for you and it will be such an unhealthy working environment for the camera crew if you would tend to the little things.
•    Remember to ignore that they are there as much as possible and you’ll be pleased with the end results.

7.    Expect That Not Everything Will Go as Planned

•    Ready yourself that not all your requests and specifications will be executed during the actual day of your wedding.
•    Instead, have a backup plan should things go differently so that your photographers will know what to do. And besides, when you hire experienced and professional wedding photographers, you wouldn’t have to worry about these things.

8.    Hire Someone to Set Up A Photo Booth

•    One of the most popular wedding picture ideas today is the photo booth.
•    This will make your photographers’ job easier and if ever you didn’t get pictures of some of your guests, you can still have them in your album from the files of the said booth.

Free wedding poses cheat sheet: 9 classic pictures of the bride and groom

Shooting wedding portraits of the bride and groom is one of the most challenging tasks of any wedding photographer, whether you’re a seasoned hand or its your first time. In this free photography cheat sheet we illustrate 9 classic wedding poses and explain how to capture them.

When Uncle Bob bought you a pint of cider and asked if you’d photograph his daughter’s wedding, it seemed rude to say no. After all, he knows you’re the photographer in the family, with one of those big digital SLRs and a camera bag bristling with impressive lenses – so you can’t possibly let him down.

But now, in the cold light of day, the thought of shooting a wedding is a little daunting. You’re sitting nervously, contemplating the day ahead – knowing the memories of the day all rest on your ability to harness the technical and creative sides of your photography.

But you can take the fear factor out of wedding photos by following this guide to nine classic wedding poses for taking timeless photos of the bride and groom. With each pose we’ve explained why it works and how you can capture it for yourself.

And once you’ve digested these tips, don’t miss our further list of required reading for the aspiring wedding photography down below!


Free wedding poses cheat sheet: 9 classic pictures of the bride and groom

Click on the infographic to see the larger version, or drag and drop to your desktop.

How to bluff your way through a wedding and get great photos

Sooner or later there comes a point in any keen photographer’s life when they are asked to shoot a wedding, usually by a budget-conscious (or disorganised) friend or relative. It’s a big responsibility and not one to be taken lightly.

While people may laugh off rubbish wedding shots taken by relatives – one thinks of Jeb Bush’s wedding, fouled-up by brother Marvin – it’s not so funny when you have nothing decent to show your grandchildren.

So, if you summon up your courage and agree to do a wedding as a favour, here are some practical tips to ensure your images are better than you typically get from a weekend warrior or an Uncle Bob (a somewhat derogatory pro term for relatives with cameras!)


How to bluff your way through a wedding and get great photos

Image by Geoff Harris

1) Get a shot list

The key to successful wedding photography is to make it as easy as possible. That’s not to say you should cut corners, but it’s a tough enough job as it is, so every little helps. So, as soon as you agree, tell the couple that they MUST get you a list of essential shots before the big day, particularly group shots.

It’s hard to convey how chaotic the aftermath of the ceremony can be, with a massive release of adrenaline causing everything to mill around – this is not the time to work out which group shots you need. The shot list doesn’t need to be an essay, but it should be in chronological order, listing key shots according to the milestones of the day.

For example, bride or couple getting ready, guests arriving, bride/couple arriving, ceremony, group shots, couple together, meal, speeches and cake cutting, and reception. Also, arrange in advance for a guest – best man, mother in law – to help you round people up for group shots and give them the list, too.

Nikon MB-D80: how to attach and use your battery grip

2) Expect a disaster
Forewarned is forearmed, they say, and the best way to avoid a wedding cock-up is to prepare in advance. That means religiously charging your camera and flashgun batteries and taking spares, formatting your memory cards, cleaning your lenses, and taking a back-up camera.

Battery grips are handy but get used to using it before the day. Don’t just take one or two high-capacity memory cards; if they fail you are screwed.

Take a series of smaller cards and get a secure card holder or case so you don’t lose them – losing a card is a more likely scenario than a decent one failing, and can be much more serious.

Our professional photographer's recommended gear: bum bags

3) Don’t overpack

While it’s important you have enough lenses and lighting accessories to give you creative flexibility, don’t end up with a big bag or rucksack that could annoy the other guests or knock the cake over. Wedding photographers need to exude good vibes while also being discrete.

So, instead of lugging around a big reflector, consider investing in a handy Westcott Ice Light or one of the many cheaper imitations now available. Once you get used to the light sabre looks, it’s a great way of filling in shadow in bright sunlight or adding nice effects indoors.


Wedding photo ideas: ditch the kit lens

4) Take fast lenses

By which we mean lenses with a wide constant aperture of at least f/2.8. They let in lots of light – handy for gloomy churches or registry offices where you don’t want to use flash – and enable that nice background blur that the pros love.

Shoot even wider, eg f/1.8 and you get a nice dreamy look. Even though sharpness tends to fall away from the centre, most couples won’t notice or care, unless they work as lens testers. A fast portrait lens, particularly 85mm, also suffers from less distortion than a cheaper zoom.

Decent zooms are also handy, though, and a 24-70mm f/2.8 is a workhorse wedding photography lens. Just watch out for edge and building distortion at the wide end.


Wedding photography tips

Image by Geoff Harris

5) Practice portrait technique beforehand

Essentially, wedding photography is portrait photography, so practice the basics on a friend or partner before the day. Make sure you know how to set the AF point over the eyes, using single pont AF or continuous (AI Servo) AF, and think about some nice poses to try on the couple.

Watch out for stray hairs on the bride’s face, wonky heads and stiff shoulders, and minimise or blur out background distractions. Move the couple to the nicest possible light and scout the venue beforehand to work out some good locations.


6) The crucial group shots

6) The crucial group shots
With group shots, select a narrower aperture, such as f/8 or f/9, and focus carefully; single point AF on the bride’s face should be ok, or activate more points if you want to play it safe. Ideally you’d use a tripod, but if there isn’t time, make sure you have a high enough shutter speed/ISO and turn on image stabilisation or vibration reduction if available.

Shoot in Aperture Priority rather than Manual, unless the light is constant. Then it’s about getting everyone to look at you, which is easier said than done – try counting down from three, saying cheese or shouting (but in a nice way). Don’t be afraid to take as many group shots as you need, as groups are hard to reconvene.


7) The service

Image by Geoff Harris

7) The service
Another essential tip is to be sure about what you can and cannot do photographically before the service starts. Contact the vicar/registrar beforehand to find out whether they are happy with flash – which you should bounce off ceilings or walls rather than firing straight in people’s faces – and whether there are parts of the service where photography is prohibited.

Most priests and registrars are fairly laid back so long as you don’t disturb the proceedings or try to photograph the actual signing of the registry book (it’s usually restaged afterwards for the benefit of photographers).


Best wedding photography tips for the first-timer

Image by Geoff Harris

8) Bounce flash and burst mode

Some wedding photographers never use on-camera flash, but when used with restraint and bounced off white or pale ceilings and walls it can be very useful indoors. It lifts colours, adds a catchlight to eyes and can help with sharpness.

Use TTL mode unless you’re very confident with flash, and pop up the white bounce card and angle the flashgun head to get the best bounce direction.

Meanwhile, burst mode can be a godsend during confetti throwing or crucial parts of the service such as ring exchange. Good luck!

Wedding portraits: how to shoot with confidence and get your best-ever images

In this wedding portraits tutorial we’ll show you how to shoot the Big Day with confidence and capture those magic moments with our top portrait photography techniques, plus fast Photoshop fixes to quickly make the most of your set of raw images.

Wedding portraits: how to shoot with confidence and get your best-ever images

Shooting a wedding is many a photographer’s worst nightmare.  We get many emails from readers petrified they’ll miss special moments on the day, scared they don’t know which camera settings, kit and techniques to use to get portraits like the pros.

But by following the following trade secrets and easy DSLR techniques in this wedding portraits guide, we will teach you the key skills to give you confidence to enjoy shooting the Big Day.

We’ll take you through everything from planning and shot lists to how to keep to simple – and proven – camera settings to capture stunning shots of the bride and groom before, during and after the wedding ceremony.

Plus we’ll explain how to ensure you get great group shots of the wedding guests to produce an album to be proud of.

Fast image editing
We’ll also help ease the pain of editing, processing and presenting hundreds of high-quality images. Luckily there are lots of tricks for instant improvements on any image, and many ways to speed up your image editing, with automated features in Lightroom and Photoshop.

With this in-depth wedding portrait tutorial we’ll guide you through a streamlined wedding workflow, from essential enhancements to more creative and romantic results.

Whether you’re an Adobe Lightroom user or prefer the Bridge/Camera Raw/Photoshop combo, there are plenty of ways to produce high-quality wedding photos quickly and efficiently.

Lightroom’s emphasis on sorting and processing large batches of Raw files makes it a useful tool for wedding photographers, while Photoshop offers greater depth and advanced workflow solutions such as Actions.

You’ll also discover the tools you need to process and enhance large groups of images at speed, without compromising either the creativity 
or quality of your images.

A quick wedding portraits checklist before the big day

A quick wedding portraits checklist before the big day

01 Best metering mode to use
Use the Centre-weighted Average metering as people you’ll photograph at the wedding will generally be central in your frame, so your DSLR will be able to expose them more accurately for consistent results.

02 Stick to Av mode all day
Don’t try and shoot a wedding on Manual mode, it will only cause stress as exposing for a white dress and black suit in one shot is tricky, instead relax and rely on Av mode to boss the aperture, letting your camera take care of your shutter speed – if it’s too slow for sharp shots, don’t ever be scared to pump up the ISO.

03 Raw image quality is best
Raw is the highest image quality setting and gives you more control when editing images – but you still need to capture the emotion, as you can’t add that in later in Photoshop!

04 Turn off that bleepin’ beep!
Turn the beep off on your camera so it’s not going off every time you focus on people; it annoys the congregation and vicar in the church, as well as drawing unwanted attention when you’re trying to subtly take photos and go unnoticed in the background. It also screams ‘I’m an amateur!’

05 Get connected
Don’t get too bogged down with technicalities and button-pressing, but concentrate on bonding with the bride and groom you’re photographing. If you can’t connect with them, it will show in their facial expressions, and your results will lack that sparkle.

SEE MORE: 10 wedding photography mistakes every beginner will make (and why it’s OK)

The kit you need for wedding portraits

The kit you need for wedding portraits

Having two DSLR bodies with different lenses on will mean you can capture wide and tighter shots very quickly, and will also mean if one camera suddenly dies, you’ll have a backup.

If you only have one DSLR, carry your lenses in a pouch (above) so you can quickly switch between them. Carry a wide-angle lens (for group shots), and a fast prime lens (eg 50mm f/1.4) for low-light shots in the church and for creative background blur.

The best telephoto zoom for weddings is a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens. With a fast constant aperture of f/2.8 it’s ideal for reportage wedding shooting as you can stand back but still fill the frame, while the wide aperture enables you to shoot in low light and to really blur backgrounds so your subjects stand out.

For this tutorial we used a pro Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM, which is very reliable, fast to focus, has IS for sharper shots and suits full-frame DSLRs like the EOS 5D Mk III.

How to own every aspect of wedding photography

Successful wedding photography requires planning and preparation. In his guest blog post Constantin Opris, a professional wedding photographer at, offers his guidelines for each phase of the process, and you’ll be sure to capture some unforgettable moments that the couple will be able to hold on to forever.

How to own every aspect of wedding photography

All images by Constantin Opris,

The Discussion Phase

What are the expectations of the couple, and what are you willing or able to do? There are some ways to lead such conversation – either you can fit their requirements, or you can make them fit to your working style.

If you know and like to do some specific kind of photography, then it will be better to do that instead of attempting an area where you have not mastered things.

As an example, I have a rather journalistic approach to photography. I don’t love flashes and soft boxes too much, or staging photos.

So, I express my point of view regarding that from the beginning. I know I can do those journalistic-types of photos very well, and they are more natural, candid, and catch the overall feel of the event better.

Staged photos and the use of artificial light sources tend to be more visually appealing, but lack in depth. They can just look like any other advertisements you see every day.

So, focus on doing what you know and like better instead of following trends. You will gain creativity and force, and perhaps master your own style better.


The Preparation Phase

You should know the exact event calendar. Hours, places. Make a timeline scheme and take some safety measures because, at weddings, there will always be things running late or early.

If you don’t already know the places where the events will happen, go visit them before the wedding day and get used to the lighting there. Take some photos in order to be prepared, and don’t get surprised. (I shot in a restaurant once where ISO 6400 and 1/60 f1.4 was still underexposed, so you better be ready.)

If you are not familiar with this type of event, you should have a list (at least in your mind) with the key moments that need to be captured. There are quite a lot, and good photos need to be made with every one of them.

A few traditional ones include: preparations, rings, shoes, dress, buttons, bridesmaids helping the bride with the dress and veil, groom shaving, the groom seeing the bride dressed up for the first time, leaving home, entering church.

Depending on their religion, the ceremony will also have some key moments. So, know what type of ceremony you will be attending beforehand.

Some common religious moments include: taking communion, swearing faith, drinking wine, wearing crowns, kissing godfather’s hands, dancing around the table – the list can continue on, depending on what kind of traditions are followed during the wedding.


How to own every aspect of wedding photography

The Big Day

I like getting to the first venue before anyone else. Have a coffee with the couple, and meet guests and friends as they come by and start doing things. I always have the camera with me and take photos of everybody, even when they have just opened the entrance door.

I do this, although it might be a bit intrusive, because I want everybody to get used to me before the big event starts to happen. So, by the time they are all dressed and leave home, everyone is so used to me being around that they just start to ignore me – which is my most important goal.

Some attitude tips to keep in mind: don’t talk too much. Don’t brag about what a nice picture you took – even if it helps build the confidence of the bride. Smile, be polite, take photos when asked – this will not ruin your artist career. To summarize, try to be neutral.

Make sure to meet family (parents, brothers, sisters) and close friends of the couple early. They are important and need to be in your photos.


Some General Wedding Tips

Stay focused, and keep an eye on everyone around.
You should have photos of every key moment of the wedding, but candid photos, portraits, and general atmosphere photos have to be taken in the meantime.

Always look at the background.
Focusing in the distance and having the bride or groom in the foreground can look nice and will create a relationship between the subjects.

Look at the parents.
They tend to cry often, so if you focus on them and have the happy couple out of focus, it will create some contrast. Make sure not to leave the aperture wide open, as it can blur the newlyweds too much.

Focus on catching expressions, not just framing the subject.
Although I really admire composition, having a perfectly composed photo of a person doing nothing is less valuable than a fairly composed photo of a person doing something.

Know your gear and be ready for action, even if it starts raining.
There is a saying, “You can tell a good photographer if you see him working in bad weather.” The advantage of not staging too much is that you can adapt to almost every situation. You can use weather to your advantage – or the advantage of your photos.

You can either take cover in a nice shelter (if there are any around) or use umbrellas and make the rain a nice background for your story. Or, just follow the couple and shoot in plain rain with weather sealed cameras or protective covers.

You must not see bad weather as a disadvantage, but rather as another setting for the story.

Occasionally take part in the action – you are not a statue.
This can make your photos more dynamic. I once got in a round dance, set the camera on self-timer and slow shutter speed, and made some really nice photos. But do not let yourself into the party too much, as this is not professional. Your goal is to tell the story the best way you can through the photos.

Wedding photography is hard. It demands knowing how to shoot various subjects – from objects and still life, to story illustration. To reiterate, first of all, you must communicate what you want and expect versus what you know how to do. This is valid for both the photographer and the couple.

Be honest. Know your subject and venue. And if money is not such a great concern or pressure, you might skip some events that you know you won’t like to photograph. I know I’ll get blamed for this one. But it is better to like what you are doing – plus, the photos will most likely turn out better in the end.

9 pro tips for first-time wedding photographers

We’ve already covered the essentials of how to photograph a wedding for the first time so you know that it’s a good idea to have shot list, shoot in raw format and double-up on kit. But the professionals have a few more helpful tricks that we’d like to share with you.

9 pro tips for first-time wedding photographers

Pro tips for first time wedding photographers: 1. Turn off the beep

Opinion is somewhat divided on the focus confirmation beep for everyday shooting, but if you’re at a wedding you should definitely turn it off.

There are at least three good reasons for this. Firstly, you want to blend into some scenes as much as possible, so you don’t want the beep drawing attention to the fact that you’re about to take a photograph.

Also, if you’re allowed to shoot in the church during the ceremony, you don’t want the beep to interrupt the flow of events or be recorded on any video that’s being shot.

And finally, the bride and groom expect you to know when the subject is in focus and not rely on an audible beep to say it’s okay to take the shot.

Pro tips for first time wedding photographers: 2. Be smart but comfortable

Our professional photographer's recommended gear: bum bags

Most weddings are pretty fancy affairs and you don’t want to let the side down by turning up looking like a pile of washing.

Equally, they tend to be long days and you have lots of kit to carry around so you should probably avoid a constricting, stiff collar, heavy suit and new, tight shoes.

Pro tips for first time wedding photographers: 3. Take a friend

Look for neutral backgrounds

A friend who can double-up as a second shooter at a wedding is a real bonus if you can rope someone in.

They can shoot some of the candid moments that happen while you are taking the formal shots, or get a few images of the details in the church while you are photographing the bride’s arrival.

They can also be useful assistants, handing you kit as you need it, making sure your gear is safe and holding diffusers, reflectors or off-camera flashguns.

Should the need arise, they can even be pressed into umbrella-holding service.

Having a little friendly back-up can also give you a confidence boost as well as giving you someone to chat too while everyone else is eating dinner.

SEE MORE: The wedding photographer’s timeline – plan your shoots a year in advance

Wedding photography tips - shots to get on the day: candid shots

Pro tips for first time wedding photographers: 4. Get a full schedule

In our first-timer’s guide to wedding photography we recommended meeting with the bride and groom to discuss what type of shots they want and drawing up a list of the photographs that you need to take.

It’s also a good idea to get a fully-detailed schedule for the day so as well as knowing the timing for key events like the bride arriving at the church, you know at what time the cake will be cut, the first dance will take place and when the bride and groom are planning to leave (if they are).

Pro tips for first time wedding photographers: 5. Be firm but friendly

Reportage wedding photography tips

With lots of groups to organise (often with lots of people who aren’t especially comfortable in front of the camera) and weather and exposure concerns, a wedding can be a pretty tense experience for a first-timer.

However, it’s important to remember that it’s a happy occasion. You’ll get much better expressions from your subjects if you have a smile on your face.

Be firm and confident when you’re directing people, but be friendly and try to make the shoots fun for everyone. Try to make people think that they are looking good.

SEE MORE: Wedding photography – how much do you charge your first time?

Pro tips for first time wedding photographers: 6. Stay calm

If you’ve prepared properly and found shooting locations for all weather conditions and doubled-up on your kit so that you don’t need to stop shooting if something seizes up or get’s dropped, you should be ready for all eventualities and able to take things in your stride.

If you do find panic rising, take a deep breath, consult your shooting list and cross-off all the shots that you’ve taken so you can focus on the shots that you have left to do.

Also, don’t ignore your photographer’s instincts.

If you feel that the shutter speed is falling a bit low, for example, but everything ‘seems’ okay, don’t just shoot on regardless.

Pro tips for first time wedding photographers: 7. Use fast lenses

What to consider when buying one of these Canon lenses… filter thread

Fast lenses are a huge bonus at weddings because they let you use safe hand-holding shutter speeds in low light without pushing the sensitivity up very high.

They also have the advantage of allowing you to restrict depth of field to blur backgrounds and draw attention to your subject.

Fast prime lenses are also relatively affordable in comparison with fast zoom optics and many weddings can be covered with focal lengths including 24mm, 50mm and 85mm on a full-frame camera.

Something a little longer, for example the pro and enthusiast’s favourite 70-200mm f/2.8 can also come in handy for picking out details or shooting candid moments.

Pro tips for first time wedding photographers: 8. Get everyone in

8 of the best-ever posing tips for group photos: shoot from a high vantage point

If you can find a high vantage point from which you can shoot the whole party, do so because these large groups shots are incredibly popular (especially with happy couples) and they make the guests who didn’t make into one of the close family and friends group shots feel included.

A stairwell or balcony can make an idea venue, but you may need some help to round everyone up and get them to squash in close with everyone looking at the camera and preferably raising a glass off bubbly.

SEE MORE: Male Poses: 17 tips to make him confident and comfortable for your camera

Pro tips for first time wedding photographers: 9. Keep it simple

As it’s your first wedding shoot, try not to be too ambitious and keep everything simple. This is not the time to set-up multiple flash arrangements.

Concentrate on getting shots on your list nailed first before moving on to candid or detail shots.

Don’t obsess about using all of the lenses you’ve brought if don’t need to, just use what you need to get the best shots you can.

10 things to look for when upgrading your standard lens

Standard lenses that come with new cameras are great when you’re getting started, but soon you may yearn for something a little more capable.

Your camera’s manufacturer will typically have a suitable alternative, although they may not necessarily be the best (or cheapest) option when you consider the raft of other capable lenses from third-party manufacturers.

So what should you look for in a standard-lens replacement? Here are ten tips.

Wedding photo ideas: ditch the kit lens

1. Constant aperture
As kit lenses are designed for general use, manufacturers don’t particularly require them to excel in any one area.

Their maximum aperture at each end of the lens, for example, will generally be around f/3.5 at the wide end and f/5.6 at the telephoto end, which is fine for general use but not so great when you want to achieve a particularly shallow depth of field (or when trying to achieve a fast shutter speed in poor light).

For this reason, a lens with a ‘fixed’ or ‘constant’ aperture – that is, one that offers the same maximum aperture at both end of the focal range – should be on your shortlist.

Not only will this allow you to zoom freely without needing to worry about this changing, but such lenses typically offer a relatively wide aperture anyway, usually around f/2.8.

This is particularly useful at the telephoto end of the optic as zoom lenses usually offer more narrow apertures here, and it should also allow you to achieve better background blur when isolating subjects.

To find out whether it offers a fixed aperture, check the title; zoom lenses with constant maximum aperture will simply have one aperture after the focal lengths, such as 24-70mm f/2.8, instead of two, such as 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6.


What is image stabilisation? A simple layman's guide

2. Image stabilisation
Even though the majority of kit lenses now boast some form of image stabilisation – at least those designed for cameras without the technology built into their bodies – it’s still possible to find suitable upgrade options that lack the feature.

They are typically cheaper because of this, but it can make a considerable difference to flexibility when shooting.

If your camera doesn’t offer image stabilisation, check any lens you consider does. Looking at the manufacturers website should also detail the extent to which such a system can be relied upon, with the maximum compensatory effect stated in exposure values (EV) or ‘stops’.

These vary from around three stops to five, so compare different models to see what you could achieve.


3. Weather sealing
If your camera was designed with some form of weather resistance, it’s a good idea to use a lens with a similar degree of protection. Manufacturers will usually state the degree to which it is protected in their marketing so make sure to check this to avoid using it in conditions that cause adverse effects.

4. AF motor
Some AF motors focus quickly and quietly while others can be noisy and prevent you from working discreetly. Lenses with some kind of ultrasonic motor are designed specifically to be swift and quiet, so seek these out.

Manufacturers use different names for these, such as Ultrasonic Motor, Silent Wave Motor and SuperSonic wave Motor, but a quick glance at the spec sheet should make their presence obvious.

If you capture a lot of video and plan on using autofocus, you would be wise to consider a lens designed with this in mind – otherwise, you risk capturing its operational sounds while recording.

Some manufacturers, for example, employ stepper motors in some of their lenses, and these promise silent autofocus when shooting video.


standard lens

5. Internal focus
Many kit-lens replacements offer an internal (or ‘inner’) focus system, and this can be useful depending on the lens and your style of photography.

Unlike with more conventional lenses, where the lens barrel moves in and out as you focus, the length of the barrel with these optics is the same while focusing at all times.

Given how this prevents the lens from running into any subjects in front of it this is usually stated as an advantage with macro photography, although it’s also useful with more standard lenses if shooting through a fence or railings.

It also helps to keep the centre of gravity roughly in the same place, which is useful in heavier, wide-aperture optics.


8 reasons why cheap kit lenses are the perfect lens

6. Version
Popular lenses, such as those offering a focal range of around 24-70mm, occasionally get replaced as technology moves on, so it’s worth checking to see which version of an optic you’re buying if there is more than one.

The giveaway is ‘II’ or ‘III’ in the title, which shows it to be a second- or third-generation optic respectively. These will typically be more advanced than the models they replace, but their asking price will reflect this.


7. Size and weight
If you opt for a lens with a longer-than-standard focal range you may find it a little longer than what you’re used to holding.

Similarly, a lens with a constant maximum aperture may be heaver than expected, and the two can have an impact on how you carry it around and how it fits into your bag.

Always try to handle any lens you’re considering, and, better still, see if you can mount it with your specific camera body as this will give you the best idea of the size and weight of the combination.


8. Optical construction
A lens with many extra-low dispersion elements or special coatings may be able to control chromatic aberration to a greater extent than a more standard lens.

Similarly, one with a number of aspherical elements may not only help with distortion and spherical aberration, but it may also allow for a lighter and more compact design.

Have a look to see what steps a manufacturer has taken here, particularly if you plan on using the wideangle end of your lens where lateral chromatic aberration and distortion can be an issue.

Autofocus vs manual: why not focus manually?

9. Manual focus override
Sometimes you want to be able to use a lens’s autofocus system before fine-tuning focus manually, such as when your subject slightly moves, and many lenses now offer this kind of manual-focus override. If you find yourself dong this often, check the features to see whether this is possible.


10. Diaphragm blades
Like circular bokeh? As a general rule, the more diaphragm blades within a lens the easier it can deliver this effect, although also check to see if a manufacturer makes any claims as to how rounded these blades are are as this helps too.

Photo Recipes: Scott Kelby on how to balance camera settings and flash

In his new series in Digital Camera magazine and Digital Camera World, the legendary Scott Kelby reveals some of the behind-the-scenes secrets of some of his favourite images.

This month Scott explains how to find the perfect marriage between camera settings and flash to create a vision of beauty.

Words and images by Scott Kelby. You can follow Scott and his work on his blog or on his live photography talk show The Grid. You can also find Scott and his KelbyOne team on their Facebook page and on Twitter as @KelbyOne.

Photo Recipes: Scott Kelby on how to balance camera settings and flash

The key to this photo is mixing the existing light in our location with  the light from our flash so the image doesn’t look like it’s lit with a flash (even though, of course, we know that it is). I did this by adjusting our shutter speed to control the existing room light (the ambient light) behind our bride.

Scott Kelby remote camera tips: portraitWe’re not breaking any new ground here positioning-wise — it’s a classic ‘bride standing in the aisle’ shot. The area behind her is dimly lit, but we want to see it in our image as the church she was married in is very important to the bride.

So we’re going to work to control the lighting in the background and get a nice blend.

I hope to help you see the light (pun totally intended) on two points. First, you can use the shutter speed to control the amount of light in the room.

Second, your job is to keep the lighting looking soft and subtle. Do test shots and check they’re not too ‘flashy’. Less is more in situations like this.


How to find the optimum exposure when using flash

How to find the optimum exposure when using flash: step 1

1 Get the flash in position
This behind-the-scenes shot shows the simple, one-light set-up I used for this shoot. I had an Elinchrom Ranger Quadra, with one flash head running off a small portable battery pack and a small square 27-inch softbox. Of course, you can do this exact same thing 
with a hotshoe flash and a 24-inch Lastolite pop-up EZ-Box softbox.

It was mounted on a lightweight, regular light stand. Why not a monopod mount, like I often use? Because when you want a break between shoots, you don’t have go looking for a place to lean it against or a table to sit it on — you just put it down on the floor. It’s just a convenience thing.

When I’m shooting with on-location flash, I have a formula for getting the look I’m after. First I turn off the flash, switch to Manual mode and set the shutter speed to 1/125 sec. It’s a nice, safe starting point that just works.

Next, I move the f/stop until the meter inside the viewfinder shows the exposure is correct – not under or over-exposed, the proper exposure. On Nikons, this meter appears on the right inside your viewfinder; for Canons, it’s along the bottom.

If you find that you can’t get to an f/stop that makes a proper exposure (it can get pretty dark in a church), you may have to raise your ISO a bit.


How to find the optimum exposure when using flash: step 2

2 Take an under-exposed shot
Next, I darken the exposure by around two stops. If my camera said that my exposure was correct at f/2.8, I’d raise it to at least f/5.6 to darken it by a full stop.

I took a test shot. I was trying to make the bride so dark that she was nearly a silhouette. I wanted her lit with only the light from my flash, not the ambient light in the church. The ambient light needed to light only the area behind her.

I saw one problem with the shot to the right:  the background (the church) was a little too dark. This is where the shutter speed control comes in because it controls the room lights.

Think of it as a dimmer switch for the church lights. If you need to turn up the lights a bit, all you have to do is lower the shutter speed a bit. I moved from my regular starting place of 1/125 sec down to 1/60 sec to see how that looked.


How to find the optimum exposure when using flash: step 3

3 Turn on the flash
Once the subject looks like a silhouette, I turn on the flash with a very low power setting (like 1/4 power) and take a test shot. The light here looked OK – but the whole scene looked a bit too bright. That kept the light from mixing well, so it didn’t look really beautiful quite yet.

However, you can really see the difference lowering the shutter speed from 1/125 down to 1/60 made — the church behind the bride is much brighter. In fact, I decided it was now too bright: it was too big a drop in shutter speed, so I was going to have to split the difference.


How to find the optimum exposure when using flash: step 4

4 Take another test shot
Here I turned the camera to get a vertical shot and tried a slightly higher shutter speed of 1/80 sec. I hadn’t changed the power of the light yet — it’s around 1/4 power.

In this test shot, you can see we’re starting to get there. 1/80 sec seemed like the sweet spot, so now if I made any changes, I slightly raised or lowered the power of the strobe itself to make sure the light wasn’t too bright — a common mistake.

How to find the optimum exposure when using flash: step 4

If we want it to blend and look natural, it can’t look ‘flashy’. It has to make you wonder, “Is that lit with a flash?”


How to find the optimum exposure when using flash: step 5

5 Add a reflector
After looking closely at the previous image, I felt the area around her eyes looked a little dark, so I had my first assistant Brad Moore bring in a reflector, to bounce some of the light from the flash back into her eyes.

We took a test shot using the silver side of the reflector and it was just too bright and too harsh, so we filled over the reflector to the white side, and that did the trick.


Photoshop tips for enhancing your lighting

Photoshop tips for enhancing your lighting

1 Darken the edges
There’s a technique I use to make the lighting look even better and more dramatic. Once I have a shot where the balance looks pretty good, I take it into Photoshop’s Camera Raw plug-in (or Lightroom’s Develop Module — they are the same thing).

Next I go to the FX panel. Under Post Crop Vignetting, I drag the Amount slider to the left a little bit, which darkens the edges all the way around your image. This helps to create a more directional look to your lighting — it looks like the light is centred on your subject, and it falls off to darkness. It’s a simple thing to achieve, but it has a big impact.


2 Remove distractions
When I posted this image on Twitter, someone pointed out the bright area of light in the stained glass window to the left of the bride and noted that if this was someone else’s image, I would say that it was distracting.

He was right — so I used Photoshop’s Patch tool. You draw a loose selection around what you want to remove, click inside the selection and then drag to an area with similar tones. In this particular case, I dragged straight downward to another area of stained glass, and it worked perfectly first time.

50 essential photography tips

Whether photography is a hobby or a profession, you’ll get a whole lot more out of it if you understand how it works. With a firm grasp of aperture, shutter speed, sensitivity and focal length, the ratio of truly great to merely mediocre shots you download at the end of an expedition is all but guaranteed to climb.

Here we present CNET UK’s 50 essential shooters’ tips. Don’t uncap your lens without them.

1. Understand aperture
The most fundamental element any photographer should understand is aperture. The aperture is the physical opening within your lens that allows light through to the sensor (or film in an older camera). The wider the aperture opening, the more light can pass through, and vice versa.

The size of the opening, which is regulated by a series of fins encroaching from the edge of the lens barrel, is measured in so-called f-stops, written f/2.8, f/5.9 and so on, with smaller numbers denoting wider apertures. If you find this inverse relationship tricky to remember, imagine instead that it relates not to the size of the hole but the amount of each fin encroaching into the opening.

A narrow opening is regulated by a large amount of each fin encroaching into the barrel, and so has a high f-stop number, such as f/16, f/18 and so on. A wide opening is characterised by a small number, such as f/3.2, with only a small amount of each fin obscuring the light.
Picture the size of the fins, visible here inside this lens, when trying to understand the concept of f-stops.

2. Aperture measurements
Lenses almost always have their maximum aperture setting engraved or stamped on one end of the barrel. On a zoom lens you’ll see two measurements, often stated as f/3.5-f/5.9 or similar.

Rather than being opposite ends of a single scale these describe the maximum aperture at the wide angle and telephoto (maximum zoom) lens positions respectively. Always buy a lens with the smallest number you can afford in each position.

3. Avoid using aperture to compensate for poor lighting
Changing the aperture has a dramatic effect on the amount of light coming into the camera, as we have already said. You’ll notice this is the case when shooting landscapes with a narrower aperture (higher numbered f-stop) as your camera will often want to take a longer exposure — so much so that you may have to use a tripod to avoid motion blur.

You should avoid using the aperture scale to compensate for unfavourable lighting, however, as it also changes the amount of the image that remains in focus, as we’ll explain below.
The image on the left was taken with a wide aperture and so has a shallow depth of field; the image on the right was taken with a narrow aperture and so has a long depth of field.

4. Use a wide aperture for portraits
Anyone with a cat knows that when they’re hunting or playing their irises contract to enlarge the size of their pupils. This has the same effect as widening the aperture in a camera lens: it makes the subject they are focusing on very sharp while causing everything behind and in front of it to blur. We call this a shallow depth of field. This is perfect for portrait photography, as it draws forward your model within the scene, making them the central focus while the background falls away. Choose f/1.8 or similar wherever possible.
This image of a chicken was taken with a wide aperture to keep the subject in focus while blurring the background.

5. Use a narrow aperture for landscapes
For landscapes, on the other hand, you want to have everything from close-at-hand foliage to a distant mountain in focus. This is achieved by selecting a narrow aperture. If possible stray towards f/22, or whatever the tightest setting your camera allows.
This image of a Moroccan campfire is taken with a narrow aperture to maximise the depth of field.

6. ‘f/8 and be there’
Static models and immobile landscapes are easy to shoot as you can predict with a great deal of certainty which aperture setting you need to get the best out of either. Reportage and street photography, weddings, Christenings and so on are less predictable as your subjects will be moving in relation to the frame. In these circumstances, adopt the pro photographer’s adage, “f/8 and be there”.

Set your aperture to f/8 for a practical, manageable balance of fairly fast shutter speeds and broad depths of field, allowing you to spend more time thinking about composition within the frame than you do about optical algebra. When shooting indoors without a flash, and depending on the lighting conditions, you may need to increase your camera’s sensitivity setting at this aperture, but be careful not to push it so high that you introduce grain into your images, unless you are chasing that specific effect.
Filters and lenses

7. What does the ø symbol on my lens mean?
After the focal and aperture ranges, the other measurement you’ll see on most dSLR lenses is preceded by ø and describes the diameter of the screw mount on the front of lens barrel. Check this number each time you head out to buy a filter or hood as you can’t guarantee that it will be the same for each lens in your collection, even if they are all designed to be used on the same camera.
Check the diameter of your lens when heading out to buy a new filter.

8. If you only buy one filter…
…make it a circular polariser. This is the perfect beginner’s filter, and one that will have the biggest effect on your day to day photography, giving holiday skies a vibrant blue tone and accentuating the contrast between the sky and passing clouds to afford your images greater texture. Although you can add blue to your images in Photoshop or a similar post-production editing tool, the effect is never as believable when done that way as it is when shot using a lens.
Invest in an inexpensive circular polariser to improve the blue of skies in your images.

9. Don’t confine it to skies
Polarising filters also cut through glare and reflection. Use it to shoot through windows and water.
We used a polarising filter when shooting this frame to cut through reflections on the surface of the water.

10. Look for lenses where the zoom control doesn’t change the filter orientation
Rotating a circular polarising filter changes the strength of the polarising effect, making skies deeper or lighter, and changing the amount of reflection they cancel out. If you plan on using such a filter then wherever possible buy lenses where turning the zoom control doesn’t simultaneously rotate the end of the lens, and with it the filter, as this will change the effect. If you have no choice, set your zoom first and adjust the effect afterwards, being careful not to throw the lens out of focus in the process.

11. Don’t forget about white balance
When using a filter set your the white balance on your camera to the appropriate conditions, rather than auto, to stop the camera compensating for the filter in front of the lens.
Make sure you set your white balance manually when using a filter.

12. Don’t rush out to buy a skylight filter
Putting a clear filter on the front of your lens to protect its surface sounds like a great idea. After all, your lens was an expensive investment. The end of your lens is stronger than you might think, however, and easy to clean if you don’t let the dirt build up. Dispensing with a skylight filter will not only save you money, but also avoid the chance of introducing light problems due to increased reflections or the slight reduction in the level of illumination reaching the sensor.

13. Cheat’s macro mode (add-on filters)
Dedicated macro lenses are expensive, but you can quickly and easily improve your existing lens’ macro credentials by using screw-on magnifiers. They’re not a perfect solution as they decrease the level of light coming into the lens, but for occasional work they are very effective, easily sourced and cheap. We bought ours, below, first-hand from eBay, where you should expect to bid around £15 for a set of four screw-on filters.
If you can’t afford a dedicated macro mode, you can achieve the same result using an inexpensive set of add-on magnifiers.

14. Avoid stacking up too many filters
It’s tempting to add multiple filters to the end of each lens to achieve different results, but bear in mind that although they may look perfectly clear to you, each one reduces the amount of light passing through by a small amount. For the best results, use the smallest number of filters possible.

15. Choose a manual lens over a powered one
Some compact interchangeable lens cameras come with a choice of powered or manual zoom. The former is a great lazy option, allowing you to press a button to get the framing you’re after, but the latter is often cheaper and almost always quicker to use as it moves at whatever speed you turn it, without being hobbled by the speed of an internal motor. You can also often make finer and more predictable changes when zooming manually than you can with a powered zoom rocker.

16. Shoot slowly, zoom quickly… At the same time
If you’re shooting a static display, add some interest by turning the zoom control while shooting with a fairly slow shutter speed (you can only do this with a manual zoom, as a powered lens will be locked off when shooting). This works particularly well when shooting cars and other forms of transport as it gives them a sense of motion.
Give static subjects added dynamism and excitement by changing the zoom while using a slow shutter speed.

17. Try a prime lens for more creativity
Shooting with a fixed focal length — a prime lens — will make you think more carefully about how you want to frame a subject to tell a particular story. It will often also get you a cleaner, sharper result.

18. What do the measurements on my lens mean?
Lenses are measured in terms of their focal length, which broadly describes the effect they have on incoming light and the way it is focused on the sensor. A short focal length, such as 24mm, doesn’t have a very high level of magnification, so will focus a broad vista on the sensor. A long focal length, such as 240mm, has a high level of magnification, like a telescope, and so will fill the sensor with just the central part of the view.
This lens has a fairly long telephoto with the zoom topping out at 300mm.

19. Understand your lens’ true dimensions
Unless you’ve paid for a high-end dSLR, or a professional camera such as the Leica M9, your pocket snapper’s sensor will almost certainly be smaller than a frame of 35mm film, the standard point of reference against which all focal lengths are measured.

The 35mm in a frame’s name actually relates to the space between the top and the bottom of the film strip, which as well as the frame itself also contains some border areas and the sprocket holes used to move the film through the camera. A 35mm frame is positioned lengthwise on this strip, with its shortest dimension — top to bottom — perpendicular to the film’s direction of motion. As such, neither the height nor the width of the frame measures 35mm, but instead 24x36mm.

To understand how the stated focal length on any lens will affect the shot captured by your camera, you need to factor in the multiplier effect, which converts the size of your sensor to the size of that 35mm piece of film. The multiplier is often between 1.5 and 1.7 but varies between manufacturers and models.

So, if you’re buying a lens for the Canon EOS 600D with its 22.3×14.9mm sensor you’d need to multiply the stated focal length of the lens by 1.6. This would make a 50mm lens, commonly used in portrait photography, act like an 80mm lens, thus increasing the effective zoom and narrowing the amount of the scene seen in each frame. On a Nikon D5100, which has a slightly larger sensor (23.6×15.6mm) you’d need to multiply the lens’ measurements by 1.5, in which case an equivalent 50mm lens would act as though it were a 75mm unit.

20. Save money by opting for a smaller sensor
This means you can, technically, save money by opting for a smaller sensor, as you’ll be able to buy less powerful lenses to achieve the kind of results you would otherwise only get with a longer, more expensive zoom.

21. Use zone focusing
Related to point 6 — f/8 and be there — if you have a lens with both f-stop and focal measurements on the barrel, understanding how they relate to each other can help you take great spontaneous photos with a high degree of confidence.

In the image below we’ve set our aperture to f/5.6, as indicated by the red line pointing to the 5.6 reading on the lower gauge. We’ve then set the range on the yellow gauge to around 1.2 metres by positioning this at the top of the same line. We can now use the green scale to understand how far away from the camera our subjects need to be if they are to be accurately focused.

By following the lines running from the two green entries for 5.6 on either side to their measurements on the yellow scale, we can see that so long as we’re more than 1m away from our subjects they will be in focus (the green 5.6 on the left is linked to around 1m on the yellow scale, while the green 5.6 on the right is linked to the infinity symbol, which is like a number 8 on its side). Anything closer than that will be blurred.

This gives us a great deal of freedom to snap whatever we want without making any further adjustments, so long as it’s no closer to us than 100cm. To create a more intimate effect, adjusting the distance ring so that 0.4 sat at the top of the red marker would mean that only those objects between around 36cm and 50cm would be kept in focus.
Use zone focusing to understand which parts of your image will be in focus at any particular aperture setting.

22. Invest in a cheap pair of lights
If you’re doing any kind of indoor photography, invest in a cheap pair of lights. Buy at least a pair, complete with tripod stands and reflectors to direct the light. Opt for continuous light rather than flash units, as they’re cheaper, easy to use and great for beginners, as you don’t have to take test shots to see how the shadows fall during setup.

23. Understand colour temperature
Different colours and levels of light are measured using the Kelvin scale. For the best results, look for studio lights with a temperature of around 5,500K-6,000K to emulate bright daylight. Lights with a lower colour temperature often render a colour caste in your images that will have to be corrected in Photoshop or an alternative image editor.
This professional studio bulb maintains a constant colour temperature of 5500K, as specified on the furthest end.

24. Buy a light box — but don’t spend more than £20
Minimise shadows in your studio-lit work by investing in an inexpensive light box. Effectively a five-sided cube with gauze sides and top, you position your lights so that they shine through the sides of the box, diffusing the light and softening the shadows. Light boxes usually ship with a felted back cloth that can be attached using Velcro to create an infinite field of view by obscuring the seams of the box.
An inexpensive light box makes it easy to shoot with artificial light without casting strong shadows.

25. Make best use of available light with a sheet of paper
If you can’t afford studio lights, even out harsh contrasts when shooting with natural light by positioning a large sheet of paper or card to reflect the incoming light onto the unlit side of your subject. If shooting people, ask them to hold the card themselves outside of the framed shot. Alternatively, invest in a set of reflectors. You can pick up a new, multi-part set with white, silver and gold reflective surfaces for around £12 on eBay.
This shot would have benefitted from a reflective surface positioned to the left of the frame to illuminate the right-hand side of our subject’s face.

26. Don’t be dictated by the sun
Using automatic settings to shoot into the sun will throw your subject into silhouette as the camera dials down the exposure to compensate for the bright background. Shooting people with the sun in front of them, meanwhile, solves the silhouette problem but introduces another one: squinting. Solve this by keeping their back to the sun and forcing the flash to fire (switch from it ‘auto’ to ‘on’ or ‘forced’) to correct the exposure on your subjects’ faces without leaving them squinting.

27. Observe the rule of thirds
The most aesthetically pleasing images are those in which the subjects are aligned with the one-third power points in every frame. Position horizons one third up or down the height of the image, and people one third in from the left or right. Likewise, if you’re snapping a frame-filling head shot, position the eyes so they’re one third down from the top of the frame.

Some cameras give you the option of displaying an overlaid grid on the rear LCD to help you line up your subjects along these lines. If yours does, go one step further and put key elements on the points where the horizontal and vertical lines intersect.
Here we’ve added short red ticks to the top and the bottom of this frame to show how the man warming his drum is positioned one third of the way in from the right of the frame, and the flames of the fire are one third of the way in from the left.

28. Exposure and focus come first, framing second
Half-pressing the shutter release fixes the focus and exposure settings for the shot you’re about to take. Pressing it all the way captures the frame.

Use this to your advantage by metering for particular conditions by putting your subject on one of your camera’s focus positions and half pressing the shutter to lock its settings then, without releasing the button, recompose the framing to align your subjects on the one-third power positions. This way you’ll get perfect exposures every time, whatever the composition.

29. Use your free light meter
If you don’t have a light meter, use your camera’s auto mode to gauge the optimum settings, even if you don’t want an immaculately exposed result. Examine the shot’s settings and then switch to manual mode and replicate them before pushing individual elements — shutter speed, sensitivity, aperture and so on — to achieve the moody result you’re after.
Let your camera do the hard work: take a picture in auto mode and use its self-selected settings as the basis for your manually dialled variables next time around.

30. Get up early, stay out late
Photography is all about painting with light. Light is what gives your pictures contrast, shape and texture, and often the best light it that which appears at either end of the day when the sun is lower in the sky. At these times of day it casts longer, more extreme shadows, which in turn pick out small details, bumps and texture.

By shooting early in the morning and late in the afternoon, you’ll achieve far more interesting results than you would at high noon when you’ll spend more time controlling the light coming into your lens than you will manipulating your subjects to best exploit the shadows.
It’s a cliche, but this shot of Whitby Abbey wouldn’t be nearly as atmospheric if it weren’t taken at sundown.

31. Embrace the grey day
Don’t let an overcast day put you off heading out with your camera. The softer light you get on an overcast day is perfect for shooting plants, flowers and foliage as it dampens the contrasts we were championing in our previous step. This allows the camera to achieve a more balanced exposure and really bring out the colours in petals.
Overcast days present the perfect conditions for shooting flowers and foliage.
Cheat’s tips

32. Travel without a tripod: tip 1
Packing a tripod when you head off on holiday is a great way to extend the shooting day, allowing you to take some stunning night-time shots with streaking lights and illuminated landmarks. If you’re pushed for space, though, check out this trick. Balance your camera somewhere sturdy and safe, disable the flash and set a slow shutter speed or two seconds or more.

Now set your self timer, fire the shutter release and let go of your camera so that you won’t cause it to wobble. By the time the self timer countdown expires, any residual movement caused by your hand letting go should have evened out, so your camera will sit still and steady throughout the exposure for a crisp, sharp result.
We took this using the self timer and a long exposure. Avoid the temptation to squat in Rome’s rush hour traffic.

33. Travel without a tripod: tip 2
It’s not always possible to find a flat surface on which to perform the previous trick. Try and find a flat surface on some castle battlements and you’ll see what we mean. Combat this by packing a small beanbag in your camera bag.

Check out school sports and games categories on eBay to find 100g beanbags (a pack of four costs less than £5), which can be pressed into shape on uneven surfaces, with your camera snugly settled on top. It’s more stable and less likely to either fall over or wobble during the exposure.
Paris this time, and we’re once again employing the delayed shutter trick.

34. Travel without a tripod: tip 3
Professional tripods use quarter-inch screws to fix your camera in place. You can easily source a screw of the same size from a normal hardware store. To avoid travelling with a bulky tripod, drill a hole in a standard bottle top (the type you’d find capping a 500ml drinks bottle) and thread the screw through it, fixing it in place using strong glue.

Keep this in your camera bag as you travel, but don’t bother carrying the rest of the bottle, as these are easily sourced wherever you happen to end up. Fill an empty bottle with grit to give it some weight and screw your cap to the top. Instant tripod.

35. Banish long-arm self portraits
Self portraits are great for capturing holiday memories, but if you can’t find somewhere suitable to balance your camera while also framing the scene behind you, the only way you can take them is to hold your camera at arm’s length and press the shutter release. The results are rarely flattering.

Invest in a cheap monopod (search eBay for handheld monopod) and use this to hold your camera away from you while keeping your hands in a more natural position and the great scenery you want to stand in front of behind you. Use your camera’s self-timer to fire the shutter 2 or 10 seconds later.
Your author in Greece, without the aid of a monopod, where the arm and watch strap somewhat distract from the Acropolis.

36. Look at the eyes, not around the eyes, look at the eyes
Ever wondered why so many magazines have faces on the cover? It’s because we identify with such pictures, which in turn helps us identify with the magazine. Art editors know that our inclination is to connect with the eyes staring out of the cover, and the same is true of your portraits.

When shooting a person, if only one part of your image is in focus, make it the eyes. That’s the first place your audience will look. So long as they’re in focus, they’ll consider the whole image to be accurately shot, no matter how shallow your depth of field and how blurred the rest of the frame.
The eyes are in focus in this shot, so we read it as being accurately focused overall.

37. Use burst mode when shooting pets
Pets are unpredictable, so don’t wait for them to pose before shooting. The chances are you’ll miss the crucial moment.

Don’t wait until you’ve attracted their attention — start shooting while you’re trying to do it, as they don’t understand the concept of cameras and will move at the worst possible moment. Switch your camera to burst mode and start shooting while you’re trying to attract their attention towards the lens for a better chance of capturing something close to the picture you wanted.
Use burst mode when shooting animals and pets to increase your chances of capturing the shot you’re after.

38. Make use of scene modes
Your camera knows better than you do how to use its own settings to create special effects. Don’t be afraid to use its in-built scene modes for punchy monochrome or high-key effects. If possible, set your camera to save raw and JPEG images side by side so you also have a copy of the original unadulterated scene should you later change your mind.

39. How to shoot fireworks
Frequently the most impressive spectacle, fireworks are nonetheless tricky to shoot. For your best chance of capturing a display, set your sensitivity to ISO 100 and compensation to 0EV so that you don’t unnecessarily lighten the sky, which you want to keep as black as possible.

Mount your camera on a tripod and set your shutter speed to at least 8 seconds. Zoom out so that the fireworks just fill the frame, preferably without being cropped by the borders and be careful not to wobble the camera during the exposure or you’ll end up with blurred results. All being well, the result should be pin-sharp streaks of light falling to the ground.
We shot these fireworks using an 8-second exposure with the help of a tripod and timed shutter release.

40. How to shoot moving water
Short shutter speeds do a good job of capturing a waterfall and its surroundings, but you’ll achieve a far more attactive result by slowing things down. To do this without overexposing your image, start by switching out of auto and reducing your camera’s sensitivity to its lowest setting (usually around ISO 100 or ISO 80), then either use a neutral density (ND) filter or, if you don’t have one or can’t fit one to your camera, dial down the exposure compensation to its lowest level (usually -2EV, -3EV or -5EV).

Mount your camera on a tripod, half press the shutter release to fix the focus point and exposure and then press it all the way to take the picture, being careful not to shake the camera while it’s taking the shot. It’ll take some experimentation to get this right, so don’t be put off if you don’t get the perfect results first time around.
By taking this picture with a slower shutter we’ve softened the water both in the waterfall and passing in front of the lens.

41. Focus on the details
When a scene is simply too big to fit in your picture without it getting uncomfortably close to the edge of the frame, focus instead on one of the details that makes it unique. An abstract crop can often have greater impact and give a more original view of a tired, over-used view we’ve all seen before.
Zoomed and cropped: an unusual night-time view of the Louvre Pyramid, reflected in the pools that surround it.

42. You can’t shoot speed head-on
You can’t properly capture speeding subjects as they come towards or move away from you. If you’re shooting track events, position yourself side-on to the action so that it passes across your field of view rather than coming towards it. Shooting into a chicane works well on TV where we delight in seeing the cars snake around it in sequence, but fares poorly in static frames.

43. Focus on the action
If you really want to convey an impression of speed in your images, pan your lens in line with speeding cars, horses and runners and shoot with a fairly slow shutter speed — 1/125 second or below — to blur the background. Keeping the subject sharp in the frame while blurring the background gives a more effective impression of speed than static backgrounds and blurred subjects.

44. Reflect on things
Do rainy days and Sundays get you down? Don’t let them: embrace the photo opportunities afforded by the puddles. The rain is as much a part of the story of your holiday as the food you ate and the sights you saw. Use reflections wherever possible for a different take on otherwise well-known scenes.
Even ugly urban decay can sparkle with the help of a reflective puddle.
Smart shopping

45. Don’t believe the megapixel myth
We’re glad to see manufacturers are starting to see sense here, with many high-end cameras now sporting comparatively modest pixel counts. At the lower end, however, some manufacturers continue to cram 16 megapixels and more on tiny sensors that can’t cope with high levels of incoming light. Pay for quality, not quantity, remembering that as few as 10 megapixels is plenty for printing at A3 using online photo-printing services.
This squirrel was shot using the 10.1-megapixel Nikon 1 J1. Despite the conservative resolution, the quality is great and we’d be happy to print this as a poster to pin on the wall.

46. Flickr: your shopping assistant
Baffled by numbers and stats? If you can’t get your hands on a camera to try before you buy, at least have a look at the shots it produces. Flickr uses the metadata attached to every photo shot by a digital camera to catalogue them by manufacturer and model, allowing you to click through a representative sample of output in its enormous online archive. Find it at

47. Don’t be a memory cheapskate
Buy the fastest memory cards you can afford to minimise the time it takes for your camera to write each shot to the media, and how long you’ll have to wait before you can take the next shot. Wait too long and you’ll miss something.

Cards are ranked using a simple class system, where the class number is simply the number of megabytes the card can store per second. So, your camera will be able to write to a Class 4 card at up to 4MBps, and a Class 10 card at up to 10MBps. Faster cards are more expensive, so if you’re having trouble justifying to yourself the extra expense, compare them to the speed boost you get from upgrading the memory in your PC or Mac.
This Class 10 card is the fastest you can get, minimising the time you’ll have to wait between taking multiple sequential shots.

48. Size really is everything
Think carefully about how you want to balance the convenience of carrying fewer large cards with the security of travelling with a larger number of lower capacity ones. On the one hand you’ll spend less time swapping 16GB cards than 2GB media, but if you lose a single 16GB card, or it corrupts, you could lose all of the shots from your trip.

Splitting them across several cards, and locking full cards in your hotel safe so you’re only carrying around empty cards plus the one on your camera means you’ll be taking fewer risks with your digital memories.
Travelling with several smaller cards than one large card means you can lock your photos in a room safe while out and about.

49. Replace your cards every couple of years
Memory cards might not have any moving parts, but that doesn’t mean they don’t wear out. On the contrary they each have a finite life, and every time you write to, delete from or read the card you’re bringing it another step closer to the end of that life. If you don’t want to risk corrupting your pictures far from home, replace heavily used cards every couple of years.
And finally…

50. Break all the rules
Be truly original. Ignore the rule of thirds. Shoot at high noon. Shoots sports photos at slow shutter speeds for blurred results. Whatever you do, make your pictures stand out from the crowd and relish the results.