Thursday, 27 October 2011

You don't take a photograph, you make it. - Ansel Adams

In order to take a great landscape photograph I believe you have to capture the spirit of a location. But in order to do that you have to use different techniques to truly achieve this.

I always say that nature is rarely perfect. Your images need a helping hand and with the right technique you give yourself the best chance of taking one of those shots you want to show off to the world.

The landscape photography tips below will help you make more of the photo opportunities that you'll come across when you are in search of that perfect landscape photograph.

1. If you have a DSLR camera that gives you control over settings such as shutter speed, aperture and exposure values “EV”, set your camera on “Aperture Priority” and use a small aperture of f/16 or f/20. This will let you keep everything in focus and the camera will set your shutter speed automatically. For the advanced photographer, use your manual settings and adjust your EV setting to achieve proper exposure after you set your aperture and desired shutter speed.

2. Early morning and late evening are the best times for shooting landscapes. Blue hour photography and golden hour photography are the only time I venture out to take my landscape images. The reasons; the sun is not as harsh as a stronger high sun and the low angle of the sun reveals shadows and textures.

3. The best landscapes are rarely found at the side of the road. So be prepared to go for a hike with a map or a GPS Unit in an effort to seek out the most interesting locations that not everyone takes a photo of. You can also download Photographers Ephemeris and do some pre-planning before you leave home.

4. Wide angle lenses are commonly used for landscapes because they will allow you to include more in the frame and open up the vertical perspective. But, the wide angle lens pushes the scene away… you can also consider using a longer focal length lens and compressing the depth of just a part of the entire scene.

5. If shooting the entire scene before you, whenever possible, place something of interest in the foreground of the shot to create a sense of depth. At the same time, ensure that you use that small aperture to keep everything in focus.
If you do not have something to ground the scene, focus one third up from the bottom of the image. This way you will maximize focus of the entire scene.

6. Another great but simple landscape photography tip is to anchor your camera to a tripod to slow down your pace of working when shooting landscapes. This means you'll take fewer but better pictures.
Also, if you are shooting in low light your exposure times will be elongated, forcing you to mount the camera to eliminate camera shake.

7. Carry a cable release. The timer function on the camera is no substitute for a cable release, BTW. The cable allows you the release the shutter when YOU want to release the shutter, not 2 sec or 10 sec or 15 sec from when you want to release. The release makes it so you don't have to touch the camera at all which will definitely minimize camera shake...especially important for those longer exposure shots. As an aside, if your camera allows it, use the mirror lock up function.

8. Keep on the lookout for scenes that will let you crop the top and bottom of the image to produce a more dramatic panoramic composition.

9. Use a circular polarizing filter to darken the sky and saturate the colors in the landscape (this is the one must-have filter for landscape photographers).

10. Meter your scene and use graduated grey or neutral density filters to darken the sky and reduce the contrast between the landscape and the sky. Polarizing filters aren't much use for bright cloudy skies but graduated filters are. Frequently, the sky looks burned out in photos because your digital sensors don't have the range to record the brightness differences between it and darker foreground scenery.

11. Use color correction filters to change the color of light on a landscape. These filters can either warm up the landscape or cool it down, depending on the filter color used. In this image, a sepia graduated filter was used upside-down to color the foreground rocks only.
You can either do this in the camera or you can do this in Photoshop later.

12. Try using a soft focus filter to add an ethereal quality to the scene. These filters blur the bright areas of a scene into the shadows to give the image a glow.
Again, you can do this in the camera or apply the soft focus after with gaussian blur in Photoshop

13. If you’re up for experimentation, try making your own filters. There's never a guarantee you'll get good results, but your photos will certainly look different. You can make a filter out of anything that's at least partially transparent - a bit of old stocking, Vaseline rubbed on an old filter (don't ever rub Vaseline directly onto a lens - you'll ruin it permanently!) Or you could try breathing gently on your lens (in cool conditions) to get a soft-focus effect.

14. Use the Hyperfocal distance to obtain the fastest shutter speed with greatest depth of field. Hyperfocal allows you to get everything sharp, from things close up to the camera to those far away. It's more reliable than just setting the focus at infinity. You will need a camera that allows manual focusing though. Click here to learn what Hyperfocal distance is.

15. Shoot RAW images rather than JPGs. The RAW image will take up more room on your memory card but the RAW image will give you greater latitude for image manipulation in post processing. This is a “Must Do” in my opinion. I shoot all my images in RAW.

16. Be original! Develop your own style and unique vision. Any competent photographer can duplicate someone else’s work. Truly great photographers produce unique images and avoid cliché photography. Go for non-standard viewpoints, say from ground-level rather than eye-level. Imagine the world as seen from an animal's viewpoint rather than a human's! Think what the scene would look like to a flying bird or a ground dwelling squirrel.

17. Tell a Story! People who look at pictures will enjoy looking at a story over a snapshot any day. Telling stories with your camera forces you to slow down and think about what you are doing. What is it about this scene that makes you want to make a photograph? What moves you or attracts your eye? Is there a theme, a phrase or a point of view that you want to capture and preserve? Where is the beginning, the middle and the end?

Happy Shooting!

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

There is an elephant in the room… Lets discuss it?

I am sure this post is going to upset a few people. There have been some HEATED comments flying around the internet as of late. I have been reading a lot of posts on Twitter and on blogs from photographers expressing their opinions on whether pro photographers should post their images on photo sharing sites so others could learn. There have also been some discussions on whether photographers should give their images away for free to not for profit companies. I even read a heated debate or two between pro photographers about using your images as a marketing tool to create awareness of the photographers business. In addition to giving photographs away for free, there is also a constant discussion about photographers sharing their techniques to amateur photographers via tutorials or seminars.

So many points of view out there… it’s a rather interesting topic

I do not know where your opinion lies; I don’t know where you are in your photographic evolution. Where you are in your personal evolution probably will determine your Point of View “POV”.

I am not professing my opinion is necessarily the right point of view; there are merits to both sides of the argument. But I definitely tilt towards helping others. I strongly believe that “The more you give, the more you get”!

Let’s dig into the three main debates a bit deeper and let me offer my POV…

1) Should photographers create tutorials online for other photographers to learn from?
In My Opinion – where else are photographers going to learn at their own speed? Sure, there are college courses and many photographers run workshops, but these options can run you into the thousands of dollars. Both are viable options to become a better photographer, but people want to learn at their own speed. I am sure you will agree that professional photographers can intimidate the amateur photographer… I get wanting to learn at your own speed until you are confident. A lot of people want to be able to sit at home in front of their computer and read tutorials, try them on their own and get themselves to another level of photography aptitude.

I sort of understand the position from photographers that are already PRO photogs. They went to school, they paid their dues, and so should everyone else… but really, why, as an experienced photographer would you not want to share your knowledge and become a perceived expert to the less experienced? If you are a perceived expert I would suggest that amateur photographers will turn to you for advice or take one of your workshops when they become more confident in their own abilities.

2) Should photographers post their images on photo sharing websites?
In My Opinion – For the same reason as I gave above… become the perceived expert. Allow people into your images and show them what you take. Maybe give them some guidelines like camera settings… for example, “photo was taken at sunrise, f/11, 30 second exposure, ISO 100”.

Share and it will pay off down the road. I have seen it work. Andrew Collett is the perfect example. A fantastic landscape photographer and artist in his own right, he makes the photo club circuit and teaches photographers how he takes his images. My club has had him back three years in a row. His payoff; many of our members have attended his workshops because they are comfortable with him… because they have a personal connection and they identify with him!

3) Should photographers give images to companies for free to profit from or hang in their buildings?
In My Opinion – Why Not! If not for the reason they are a charity and they need to generate an income somehow, do it to increase your own exposure in your local area and help create awareness of your photographic abilities.

The more people that see your work while you are refining your craft, the more feedback you will receive, the more chances you will have to make money, the better you will become in the long run.

I cringe when I hear pro photographers say that people should not give their images away for free… It is old school thinking by people that do not perceive they will ever need anything from the less experienced photographer. Some may even call it Elitist. Hmmmm, maybe there is some merit why pro photographers may be considered snobish.

Go back 10 years; there were half the photographers out there that are out there now. If we want to turn this hobby into a money making venture we have to compete against a lot of people. We have to work harder as pro-sumers or amateurs today than the PROS today had to work 10 to 15 years ago.

Not only the increased local competition, but the internet has made this world a very small place. It is reasonable to have a person in Europe find a photographer in a small town in Ontario, Canada and want to buy an image from them. There must have been thousands of photographers local to the buyer they could have contacted… We now have to think globally as well as locally.

The reality is that only a very small percentage of us are going to become a nationally known photographer… a larger percentage will be locally known, and the vast majority of us will probably never consider ourselves a professional. Regardless of what your aspirations are or where you will end up… market yourself, build a brand, and just get your name out there.

If want to be a professional, in my opinion, being perceived as an expert that shares information to help others presents you with a much better chance of getting you to where you want to be than simply being a closed off island…

So, that’s my opinion as an aspiring photographer trying to turn this expensive hobby into a money making venture.

I would like to hear your opinion. Sound off and tell us what you think, either here or reply to my tweet on this subject on Oct 25, 2011.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Looking for a Photography Workshop? Maybe this will help...

Sometimes the difference between a fantastic photograph and a good photograph comes down to a few small points. It could be as simple as placing the point of interest in another location, an adjustment to composition or some final editing techniques in post editing.

You can watch all the YouTube videos you can, or read all the books you can get your hands on in the effort to become a better photographer. But, you are still left to your own devices. A photography workshop taught by an experienced photographer with an engaging personality can give you the hands on mentoring that will take years off that learning curve.

Here are a few suggestions to help you pick a workshop and help ensure you have a great learning experience.

Go into it as a financial transaction
The first step to choosing a workshop should be to understand that attending a workshop is a financial investment. If you a full-time photographer… Remember that this will eat into your direct profit, so you want to make sure your money is spent wisely. If you are you a part-time photographer or hobbyist… your decision to attend a workshop is an investment in yourself, so invest wisely.

Determine what you’re willing to spend
This ties directly back to the last point, but before selecting a workshop, determine what you willing to spend. This will help to narrow your focus and reduce the urge to “impulse buy” just because the workshop sounds awesome. Again, it’s a financial investment. Workshop fees can range from $100 – $3000. Just make sure you have all the details, there could be workshop fees and travel fees that are not disclosed.

Start Searching
Chances are the internet is one of the first places you will start your search. Try using Google and use the search term, ‘Photography Workshop in “insert the name of your city here”. This will get you started for local options. But not all classes are well indexed by search engines. Don’t forget to check around for local photography clubs who may offer an abundance of learning opportunities. Community colleges and local trade schools will also have options which may not show in internet search results, so it may be necessary to check their individual websites.

Also don’t discount word of mouth; ask around to friends and family and let them know you are looking for a photography mentor. The more feelers out there, the better your chances are in finding the right workshop.

Pick an instructor who has a style that resonates with you.
When you are considering a workshop, look at the prospective instructor’s work. Are they images of subjects you would like to photograph, in locations you would enjoy taking pictures? Are the images well composed, sharp, and exposed properly? When you look at their images do you say "I would like to make images like those"?

Another good way to identify they are a good photographer. See if people are commenting on any of their images or look to see if companies have published their photography. A sure fire way to determine if a photographer is respected is if they have been published by the magazines or websites you visit to learn about photography.

Choose small workshop sizes.
All things being equal you will get better attention in smaller workshops. When you attend a workshop of anything more than 2 or 3 people your face time with the instructor is limited. In my opinion you do not get your money’s worth. Consider attending a smaller workshop or one on one mentoring. It may cost more, but your learning will be exponentially greater.

A teacher who knows more than just photography
Many workshop leaders are exceptional photographers and qualified teachers. And a few, in addition to having the above mention qualities may have special knowledge that you will find useful. Such as an instructor who is native to the area that you are shooting, and can share in the history of the area, or who just knows the best locations. Or perhaps naturalists, one who can help you understand your subject and how to use that knowledge to make better images.

If you want to be more than just a weekend warrior, you should also consider this. I am a firm believer that what separates a well known `pro’sumer photographer to a great photographer that just posts images on photo sharing sites is the ability of the `pro’sumer to market themselves as a brand.

Look for a photographer that also has business savvy. Someone that does not only help you with taking better images, but also can help you learn to network more effectively. We live in a digital age; the internet is the marketing tool of the future. Maybe you should consider looking someone that can help you showcase your work to more people.

Know your equipment before the workshop.
To get the most out of your experience, a workshop is no place to learn the functions of your camera, lenses or flash. You should know the basics of your camera. At the very least, know how the exposure modes, metering modes and exposure compensation functions work on your camera. You can learn camera function from a manual. Why pay someone to teach you something that is your responsibility to know.

Location, Location, Location.
This is a very important. Pick a workshop where it is possible to make the kind of images you want to make, a location where you can comfortably make those images. Some workshops are run in the photographer’s local area because they are too lazy to drive to a better location. Why waste your money if you are not going to come away with the shots you want to take.

Ask the workshop leader where you will go before you hand over any money. Ask for details and make sure you are satisfied before you pay them.

While at the workshop, ask the workshop leader questions.
Don’t be shy; you are paying for their knowledge. If you don’t understand, did not hear, or a subject you are interested in was not covered, ask! This is your time, and the workshop leader cannot read your mind. So do nto be afraid to ask.

Stay close to the instructor.
I have observed nature photography workshops when the students seem to scatter to be on their own. You can learn much just by watching and imitating your instructor. Besides that, if you need personal attention no time is wasted tracking down the instructor.

Bring Images.
Bring some of your images for critique. You can buy binders that can hold a variety of sized prints. Prints some off and do not be shy about asking the instructor for feedback. Many times a more seasoned photographer can find problems or areas that may need a little improvement just by looking at your images.

Have fun and take lots of pictures!
Bring plenty of film/digital media and batteries. Ask questions, stay close to your instructor and fire away! Take as many photos as possible. When you get home, review your images. Decide what you did well and what you need to continue to work on. Post your images for critique on web sites like

Most of all, don’t forget to show off your new found skills and beautiful pictures with your friends and family.

Write a review after the workshop!
Whether you loved it or hated it, please write a workshop review after it’s over. This is so critical. Future workshops attendees will have no idea what to expect without thorough workshop reviews, and qualified workshop instructors should appreciate both positive and negative feedback as a way to grow, get better, and offer the best product possible.

Detail how the workshop fit with the initial description, what you learned, what your expectations were and if they were met, and most of all, was this financial transaction worth the investment.

Good luck with your search!

Happy shooting,


P.S. If you know of, or do find any workshops, please comment below so that people reading this article can benefit from your experiences.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Photographing Water

Whether you’re a seasoned photographer or a novice venturing into the world of photography, taking your time to research the best viewpoint to photograph something is one of the first and most important steps.

If it’s a body of water you want to capture, Ontario has the benefit of being close to the largest body of fresh water in the world, one-fifth of the world's fresh surface water and has close to 10,000 miles of shoreline and rivers. Needless to say, there are lots of locations to choose from.

My personal preference is to take my waterscape images during early morning or later evening. This will reduce the amount of glare and reflections on the waters surface and allow you to play with shutter speeds and create emotion… something that I promise will separates your image from the novice photographer.

My method is to scope out a location ahead of time, identify sun and moon locations using “photographers ephemeris” and then show up two hours before a sun rise or sunset. My personal preference is to show up in the morning, shoot the blue hour before the sun comes up. You will bear the solar winds and boat traffic before they kick up the waves.

When I am choosing a viewpoint for photographing water, I first look for a focal point of interest. This can be a lighthouse, rock formation, an interesting structure or high tide. Any interesting landmark or formations of nature are great to use as focal points. I sometimes follow the rule of thirds and place the focal point to either the left or right side of the image. But then again, sometimes the balance of the image demands that a focal point is in the foreground, smack center in the lower half of the image.

Simple adjustments to your position can also change the viewpoint and increase the beauty of the image. Experiment with moving the camera a few inches up by standing on a rock or chair. Try kneeling down for another viewpoint. You can also alter your position by taking steps to the side of steps forward or backwards.

Don’t accept that the image that you see before you is the image you should be taking. Most of us are shooting digital, take numerous shots from different angles and watch how the subtle change can have a huge impact of the composition.

Tips for photographing water
Water seems like such a simple thing to photograph. We see images everywhere that depict incredible photographic scenes. It has many faces; it can be as large as an ocean, a river or a waterfall to as small as a droplet on a flower petal. Frozen or free flowing, it can be both dramatic and interesting.

The following are some tips and thoughts to get you thinking of capturing water. Not only out in nature, but in your kitchen or bathroom too.

Long Exposure waterscapes
This generally is taken early in the morning or later in the day. The time of day therefore demands a long shutter speed. The result will be flattened water of glass that will give off some reflections.

I suggest that you use a tripod, shutter release cable and set your camera on aperture priority and let the shutter speed be determined by the camera. The smaller the iris opening (larger the f-stop number) the longer the shutter speed will be.

Stopping the motion of water
Some examples are when your kids are splashing in the water or a wave is hitting the rocks. My suggestion here is to use fairly fast shutter speed and/or flash in order to freeze the action. Use a tripod and a multi/continuous shot mode is advised as you will want to capture a series of shots of the water moving before selecting your favorite one when you see them on a larger screen at home.

Water drops
Water drops can be extremely hard to photograph. The best way to capture droplets is to put your camera on a tripod and attach a shutter release cable or use a remote control to eliminate camera shake. I would set my camera to burst mode so you can take a series of images at once. Use a macro lens, a cable release and have a light source handy to light the drop as it rests or rolls.

Another way to photograph a droplet of water is to do it indoors. You capture the water dropping in a pool of water. What you do is fill a bowl with water then let a droplet fall into the water. At the same time, let the shutter start so it takes a series of images and one should capture the moment the droplet hits the surface. With this technique, practice makes perfect! I make it sound simple here, but its rather difficult. Some people go as far as using a set up with multiple lights, colored dye and a contraption to fix the water collision point. Google the process and get some ideas.

Look out for interesting details when you are shooting reflections. There’s no point shooting something dull and uninteresting. I like to capture people or animals in reflections on the other side of the body of water.

I would not use a flash as this will leave a ‘hot spot’ in the water, I would rater see you use a polarizer filter as this reduces glare from the sun that may be present in the water. Choose a reasonable shutter speed so there is no blurring, especially if the water is moving a little.

You will want to wait for fairly calm conditions when shooting reflections in the water.

In order to capture silky smooth water flows use a long shutter speed. You will need to experiment to find the perfect timing but starting from two seconds is a good point. You must place your camera on a tripod and never use flash. You can also choose a small depth of field of f/16 to f/22 so that the image looks sharp.

Moving water on bright days?
On a bright day, you may find choosing a long shutter speed problematic. So what you need to do is to use a neutral density filter. This is attached on the end of your lens and blocks out the amount of light entering it, meaning you can choose a longer shutter speed. You can also use a polarizer at the same time. Another option is to choose a low ISO of 100 or even 50 if your camera allows it. The lower the ISO the more light the camera needs to capture an image so this may force the camera to give you a slower shutter speed and as a bonus, you will have a very fine grained image.

Pull up Google, look at some images, and get inspired. Then, get out and enjoy what water can offer… and keep the camera dry. :-)


Sunday, 16 October 2011

Plan, Practice, Repeat... and ... "VOILA", a keeper

One of my favorite quotes about photography is from Ansel Adams. It reads, “Sometimes I do get to places just when God's ready to have somebody click the shutter.”

To be honest, sometimes there is a luck factor. We decide to go somewhere and shoot a scene that we have wanted to get to… we show up, and it’s like the script was written. The clouds were perfect, the sun was what we wanted, and the scene lay out as we had hoped.

But how many times does this really happen? For people that have been shooting for less than a few years, or are just weekend warriors, this is probably not something you think about too much. You are happy to get out with friends and to be taking photographs of a subject that you like to photograph.

As you become more seasoned, maybe you have taken 20,000, 30,000 or 40,000 photos, you started to sell a few images, and are now investing in better gear; your desire to take better shots increases and you want to travel to some of these inspiring locations you read about. But you seemed to hit a wall; you’re not getting any better, it’s not for lack of trying, but for lack of something… But what is that “something”?

Well, it’s a combination of a little research, learning some basic tips and following the steps I discuss below…

Long Term
The best possible weather is preferred when shooting a location, that’s a no brainer. But what is that ideal weather? Only you can answer that. Rain is less than desirable time to shoot unless you want that desired effect. Sunny blue skies can be a plus, but then again, too high in the sky and your photos will not be ideal. Every location and every subject demands only a few types of atmosphere to walk away with a great photo.

First, decide where you want to go and what you want to photograph there. Find out what is the best time of the year at that location to photograph your subject of interest. Let’s look at the west coast of Canada. Some prefer to shoot mountains in all their snowy, sun kissed glory. Others prefer fall when the trees are still visible and the upslope fog really enhances mood. Neither are bad, its just personal preference.

For me, it’s later in August when I want to be there. This time of year is affectionately referred to as “Fogust”.

Short Term
Many of us don’t photograph landscapes and wildlife for a living; we visit places hoping to capture stunning images during our vacation travel. We want to book ahead of time, find deals on airline tickets, hotels and rental cars. That means you are going to have to gamble a bit with the weather and hope for the best. The tradeoff here is to wait enough to get a reading on the extended forecast while trying to keep things within budget. Ideally if it’s possible, wait till a week before and plan. If only we could all plan last minute…

Last year we went to my uncle’s cottage in the spring. While the weather was perfect as predicted. What we didn’t think about was mosquitoes and black flies. So what did we do, we turned our sour grapes about the local blood suckers into a beautiful glass of wine.

On the Day
So you have done all your phenomenal research and you end up at your dream spot to click away and fill up that 32GB SD card. Now what? Understand your subject and correlate the subject with the weather that has been bestowed upon you. If all you have is an overcast day, chase waterfalls. You can shoot the entire day with the cloud cover posing as a soft box. With some creativity, a lot more options open up. If you are set to have bright blue skies, shoot around dusk and dawn and scout locations during mid-day.

If your all set up at sunset on the lake ready to shoot a cloudy sunset and the clouds and storm clouds move in, take cover and watch for the light show.

The Final Moment
You have found your spot and setup your gear and tripod ready to hit that shutter. It might seem like a trivial thing but the exact moment you hit the shutter might make or break your shot.

When shooting sunsets on the beach, try waiting and time the waves. A receding wave going back towards the ocean looks more pleasing on the shot. Wait for the wave to come in all the way, and hit that shutter when the wave hits the farthest point inland, so that your shutter is open when the wave starts to recede.

While shooting wildflowers, wait for the wind to subside. It will help you from having those flowers blurred out.

Shooting an animal? They are unpredictable so take as many shots as you can. You may not get another chance. But look for the animal to face you. Have the sun behind you, wait for the glint in their eye and focus on them. The little details make all the difference in the world.

My point is… It sometimes boils down to a little practice, some planning, lots of shooting, and repeat… just get out there and enjoy yourself. So next time, try a little planning but be open to the possibilities

Friday, 14 October 2011

Exposure Compensation Tip for Landscape Photographers

When I want to be inspired my default is to head out and take landscape photos. There is something about being out in nature with only peaceful thoughts in my head to keep me company. Mind you, it took a few years to get there. As I learned more about photography I realized that there is so much more than raising a camera to your eye and clicking a shutter.

I can remember this one scene with a dark blue sky and bright sun kissed mountains in the background and a shadow filled grassy foreground split by a meandering river with bright reflections of the mountains behind. If I metered the camera on the shadows, the brighter parts of the photo were blown out, if I metered on the brighter mountains the shadows were too dark. Using an f/22 made everything appear in focus if it was a bright scene, but the exposure time for my early morning landscape photo was so long I could not hand hold the camera. (Insert visual of me sitting in front of my computer pulling my hair while I see my improperly exposed images) That was an outing I wanted to forget. But back I went armed with the proper exposure info. This time I got the photo I was after.

To learn proper exposure you first must understand that there are basically three universal metering choices. They are matrix or evaluative, spot metering and center-weighted. Your camera manual will tell you what modes you have and how to change between them. I won’t go into those details; instead, I’ll explain what each of these modes do and what photos to use them for.

Matrix or Evaluative Metering
This is probably the most complex metering mode, offering the best exposure in most circumstances a landscape photographer will encounter. Essentially, the scene is split up into a matrix of metering zones which are then automatically evaluated individually. The overall exposure is based on a closely guarded algorithm specific to that camera manufacturer. Often they are based on comparing the measurements to the exposure of typical scenes.

This setting is generally what I use for landscape photography, with modifications using exposure compensation. (We will get to that in a minute)

Center-weighted Average Metering
Probably the most common metering method implemented in nearly every digital camera and the default for those digital cameras which don't offer metering mode selection. This method averages the exposure of the entire frame but gives extra weight to the center and is ideal for portraits. Think of this as a balance between spot metering and evaluative, where the “spot” is much wider and has a softer transition.

Spot (Partial) Metering
Spot metering allows you to meter the subject in the center of the frame (or on some cameras at the selected AF point). Only a small area of the whole frame is metered and the exposure of the rest of the frame is ignored. This type of metering is useful for brightly backlit, macro, and moon shots. Take a landscape photo and meter on a bright sky and the rest of the photo will be dark. Meter on the shadows and the rest of the photo will be blown out.

For the nature photographer, it’s ideal for situations where you have a lit subject (such as a leaf in the sun above) and a darkened background where you want the subject to stand out. If you were to take this photo in evaluative mode, your light meter would average the exposure needed for your lit subject (the leaf) against the exposure for your darkened environment (with more weight given for the background since it covers more area than the leaf). In short, your end result would be an image with a blown out subject and a not-so-dark environment

Another great tool for photographers is the exposure compensation feature. This allows you to instantly adjust the exposure in either direction without having to input the changes manually. You can select to adjust your metered exposure by 1/3 of a stop increment (whether you’re in a priority mode or in full-auto).

I use this often because it’s so much easier than adjusting your settings manually. I mostly shoot in aperture priority mode and there are times when my light meter will over or underexpose my photo a bit. Instead of making note of my settings, going into full manual mode and inputting a different exposure, I can simply adjust my exposure compensation dial and get a different exposure.

So basically, this is a way to instantly override your light meter. Your camera will meter your image and give you an exposure based on its own calculations, and exposure compensation allows you to trump this function without having to go into full manual. It’s very handy, especially since my camera will often underexpose an image by 1/3 to a 1/2 of a stop.

People often ask me what my camera settings are when I am taking landscape photos. So here it is…
• I typically shoot in aperture priority around an f/20.
• I set the camera to evaluative mode.
• I meter the focal point that is as close to a mid-tone colour as I can find and lock the exposure
• I then set the camera on manual focus and focus 1/3 of the way up from the bottom of the frame.
• I watch my histogram and make any EV adjustments needed.
• I take three photos, one at the original camera default, one slightly over exposed, one slightly under exposed.
• My camera sits atop a tripod, generally lower to the ground for a more interesting POV and I use a shutter release cable to eliminate any camera shake. (if your camera does it, lock the mirror up as well)

My suggestion is to establish your own workflow that you can follow before every photograph. Yours may differ from mine, and you may have some suggestions for us on your workflow. So please comment below and let us know your workflow when taking landscape photos.

Happy Shooting


Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Do you have what it takes to be the next Ansel Adams?

You’ve been taking photos for awhile now… maybe you took some photography courses, you joined a photo club or became a regular at reading tutorials and watching “how to” videos online. Regardless on how you got there, you did, and you are feeling confident in the photos you are producing and sharing with friends and family. Then a family member or friend says, “I want to buy that image from you!”

You sell it and the natural progression begins. People start to wonder if one can make any money at this. The simple answer is, “Yes”. You can start shooting portraits, pets or weddings, you can enter into the world of stock photography or submitting images to calendar or card companies. All are good options, but the downside is they are highly saturated and competitive. The simplest way is to start producing an income by selling prints of your best work. Chances are, you won’t be able to quit your day job, open a gallery and become independently wealthy. But when someone acknowledges your work as art it provides motivation to continue the never ending pursuit of the perfect image.

The Reality Check Time
Before I begin, I am fully prepared to hear that my POV is wrong… but that’s OK… this is my blog. :)~

I really would love to hear people’s opinions. If you disagree with anything I am about to say, sound off and let some aspiring photogs know about your success stories.

OK, here goes, let’s take a little step back be honest with ourselves. There are only a select few people that ever get the kind of recognition and income that would supply you with the life you are probably living now. Leaving the elite photographers like Annie Leibovitz out of the equation, I bet you can count on one hand the photographers you follow that would make the kind of income you would want to make.

Wedding and portrait photographers are a dime a dozen, I live in a town of 100,000 and there are at least 15 of them in my city alone. While the busy ones make a decent income, they are tied to shooting venues. Shooting is only a portion of the workload, there is just as much, or more, time needed to edit. You have to constantly market your company, and quickly you are a slave to shooting venues and your weekends are potentially shot. Not that this is a bad thing if that’s what you want. Just be prepared to put a lot of effort into building this business. And get ready to spend a boat load on the gear you are going to need.

Nature and wildlife photographers comprise the majority of amateur photographers out there. This genre has more enthusiastic participants than all the other type of photographers combined. Your options are selling images, teaching people to take images, or writing a blog to amuse other photographers like I do…

Stock photographers are also numerous, and unless you find the sweet spot for desired photos you really are not going to make any money following that strategy. But hey, I hear rumours of people out there making a couple thousand a month… I have yet to meet one, so I will stick to belief that’s it’s an urban legend like the Loch Ness Monster.

Have I lost you yet? I hope not, read on and let me give you some ideas and suggestions that at least increase your chances of making a good second income from your photography hobby.

Baby Steps…
As I mentioned before, most photographers’ first sales come from a friend or family member. Depending on your relationship with the buyer you may want to consider doing it for free or just covering your printing costs. Your work is your business card, the more people see your images hanging at family members homes, or at local coffee shops, the more your name will be recognizable and you increase your chances of being contacted by a paying customer.

Sign every image. I either sign the back with my web address, or sign on the matte and number the image. Beside any image I hang in a business I ask if I can hang a write up on myself. In this write up I place my website address so people can view more of my work and contact me.

So the first step, saturate the market with your images as best you can.

Here are a few places to think about: (1) local coffee shops, (2) newspaper and fall fair contests, (3) photo sharing sites on the web, (4) give your images framed to your family as gifts.

Create a Plan.
No business ever succeeded without the foundation of a business and sales plan. I am not suggesting you create a full fledged business plan, but have an idea in your mind on where you want to go with this. Then, investigate how and who will help you get there. For example, when visiting restaurants, banks or coffee shops, make a point of looking at the walls to see if they’re in need of art work. Speak with the manager or owner and ask if they would be willing to hang your photographs to decorate their walls at no cost to them. The reciprocal benefit is that you could split any money made if one is sold. It means you’ll need to develop a portfolio to show the decision makers your work. It also means an initial investment by you in terms of time and money, but this should pay off in the long run.

Be Your Own Toughest Critic
Display only your BEST work. Scrutinize your work and get trusted people to give you feedback on each image. It’s better to hang two fantastic prints than ten average ones. Many fine-art photographers introduce only one or two new pieces each year. Some even tell me the ratio of taken pictures to ones that make the portfolio are 5000 photos for that one image they are proud of. Think quality rather than quantity. Your work is your resume.

Many photographers host their own website and sell their work through it. If you decide to pursue this route, keep the site simple and make the ordering of prints easy for the buyer. Potential purchasers don’t want to navigate a multitude of pages to get price, size, shipping, etc., information. Start small but think big!

You have a few options here. You can build your own and host it, or you can use a template website. Or, there are companies that use a combination of both. Its personal preference, so do your homework before you make a decision.

Whatever decision you make, take your time, do it right and create your identity online. This will be your most cost effective marketing tool and can bring you more business than any other method. Investigate “Search Engine Marketing” and “Search Engine Optimization” and talk to your web company about optimizing your site to be search engine friendly.

Always Be Learning
You probably have the same people you shoot with or the same sites you share your images on… and that is great. But I would like to see you challenge yourself. Expand your circle of influence and get introduced to more experienced photographers.

My point here is that you should always learn from better photographers than yourself. Push your boundaries and never be satisfied.

I hope to see your photos hanging in a gallery or gracing the pages of a magazine soon!

Until then, happy shooting fellow photographers!


Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Bag of rice ... check! Alarm clock set... check! GPS working... check!

As Photographers we tend to be a gadget-oriented group. We buy the latest and greatest advertised gadget, accessory, lens or camera with hopes that it will better our craft. With my head hung in shame I admit that I too have some useless gadgets filling a few drawers and taking up room in my camera bags. By the time I give them away I will probably only have used them once. But I bought them, and, well, I learned the hard way on more than one occasion that it’s not always the gadget that makes the difference in the quality of photo I get. Its the six inches behind the camera and how prepared I was before I got to a location.

As a nature photographer I have learned that the most important pieces of gear to have in your repertoire are not the latest and greatest camera items. The most important things are the items that you should have to protect you and your gear from harm. It’s the practical gear, the gear you learn you need through your own experience and mishaps that makes the difference. Each of these items at one time or another have been the sole reason I had a successful nature photo shoot. The best part, almost every item I listed below is inexpensive and can be bought at any hardware or outdoor store.

A trusted alarm clock(s)
My absolute favorite time to shoot is just at the end of the blue hour. The sun starts to turn blues to purple and the hint of yellow and orange graces the horizon. The next 30 minutes are pure heaven for me. Nothing upsets me more than when a planned pre-dawn shoot is missed because I slept in.

I have two alarm clocks, one on the dresser and one on my blackberry. Both set so I have to physically get out of the bed to turn them off.

Tools, glue and bag of rice
Ever been out and dropped your camera or snapped a piece on your tripod and the whole shoot was a bust? If your answer is no, my response is; “It’s only a matter of time”.

I carry a screwdriver set with hex heads to fit all my tripod screws and I always have crazy glue in a separate bag in case I need to reattach anything.

The bag of rice… well it’s too heavy to carry, but you may want to have one handy back at the house. If you get water in your gear, putting it in a bag of rice is your best chance to suck out any moisture in your camera or in your lens.

DO NOT USE a heat lamp or lamps to try and dry out a camera… use rice, say a lil prayer to the camera gods and have the insurance company’s number handy just in case it doesn’t work.

Insurance Riders
After the last paragraph I figured I would address now. I would suggest you contact your insurance company and discuss having an insurance rider on your camera gear. It is peace of mind that will eliminate a huge headache if anything happens to your gear.

Lay everything you own out on a table, take a photo of all your gear and then list out everything you own. Submit both to the insurance company for their files. This will eliminate any questions they may have that will delay the claim and get you back shooting as fast as possible.

Extra batteries and memory
Imagine being miles from your car, hours from a power source, the elusive snowy owl appears in the field in front of you and you are set to take a series of photos…. Only you can’t… the cold weather has zapped your battery dead or you have no more memory left.

The moral of the story; bring extra batteries and memory cards. I never leave home without 4 memory cards and three fully charged batteries.

A little hint, in cold temperatures keep the batteries inside your coat and keep them warm.

Waterproof boots and hip waders
Some of my best images are taken near or from the water. Sometimes the difference between a good photo and a great photo is perspective. You walk up the west side of a river, the sun is coming up and you wish you were on the east side to capture the golden hour with the sun to your back. The unprepared photographer will shoot the undesirable image from the west bank, while you will have the sun at your back capturing the image the people on the other side wished they were capturing.

Their flying birds of prey will be black silhouettes, while yours will have full colour with a glint of sun in their eye.

A head lamp or flashlight
I hike in the dark in order to be at a location before the blue hour, or leave a location after dusk. A headlamp and and/or flashlight in my camera bag helps me find my way back to my car. There is nothing worse than being caught out in a forest or field without a light source. The light source also is a good way to use as fill light, or for light painting objects like rocks in a water scene with a pre dawn sky.

An assortment of plastic bags and towels
You have invested a lot of money in your gear, so protect it. And a few 5 cent bags will do the trick. They will roll up in your camera bag and can be thrown over your camera equipment fast and efficiently.

Bug spray or a bug net.
Nature is full of bugs that want to eat you for breakfast or dinner… or frankly just be a pest. But why let this stop you from getting that perfect photo. Some of the best foilage and animal photo opportunities are during the height of black fly or mosquito season.

Word to the wise, keep the bug spray away from the camera gear.

A compass and handheld GPS
I am directionally challenged. For this reason I carry a compass when I am out on a location where I have never been before. It helps me navigate fast and allows me to see, at a glance, which way the sun will raise. The GPS is also an awesome tool to mark locations that you see for future locations as well as a handy navigation tool for trekking in and out of a location.

Along the same lines as this is the "Photographers Ephemeris". An awesome desktop and mobile tool all nature photographers should have. Read my review of this product by clicking reading about PHOTOGRAPHERS EPHEMERIS. After you read that click the back button to get back to this article.

Cell Phone
Now that you all know I am directionally challenged and getting lost is not that far out of the question… a cell phone is a must for me. You never know when you need to call the park ranger to come find you, or call your significant other to tell her you are going to be late because Winnie the Pooh’s older brother has you up a tree and is licking his chops.

Outdoor clothing
Rain and windy weather often produce the best photo opportunities. Being prepared with clothing that keeps you dry in the field is a must. These items are the most expensive items on my list, but it doesn't have to be. You can either ask for them as christmas and birthday prezzies, or wait and invest in over time.

Or, for those that embrace comfort over style, swallow your pride and head out to Value Village. A good second hand store will have quality all weather gear at a fraction of the price. At the very least, buy a lightweight, waterproof shell that you can pack in your camera bag.

My usual attire is a weatherproof jacket (second hand store purchased), a ball cap (my lucky ball cap i was wearing when i got a hole in one), layers on top (t-shirt, sweater) and a pair of Columbia pants that turn from full legged pants to shorts in just a few seconds… I also keep a spare jacket, shirt, pants and shoes in my car.

Be a boyscout, be prepared... and happy shooting!



Monday, 10 October 2011

Painting with Light

I was exposed to this type of photography many years ago. The photograph I saw did not have a moving flashlight, or a spinning orb like they do today, but it did show the moon trail across the sky. I remember asking one of the photography teachers how this was done, his simple response, “with a long exposure, but you should figure out this technique on your own”.

Determined to understand this technique, I went right to the LIFE books my dad had at home. All 18 volumes, I poured through the pages, trying to find the technique... finally, a photo of car lights trailing through a winding road on a mountain. The photographer’s name was there, and down to the library I went to research the photographer.

I found a book with his images in it. If contained a few tutorials on how he achieved his images, mostly portraits, nude at that, a little distracting for a teenage boy, but I stayed the course and kept looking for the long exposure images (no really, I did, REALLY!). All that I found about streaking light images in one of the captions under a photo were, “camera type, lens type, aperture of f/8, a 30 second exposure, ISO-100 film”. SO, I had to try it, and learn it on my own...

What I learned was the following... with a long exposure photograph, a few simple light sources and some creativity on your part, the opportunities for this type of photography are endless.

Tools of the trade

A Camera
You will have to use a camera that allows you to take long exposures, preferably a camera with a “Bulb Mode” setting.
When setting the camera up to take these images I set my aperture to anywhere between f/5.6 to f8.0.
I manually focus on my image and adjust my EV settings as appropriate.
My shutter is controlled by my trigger release and I play with exposure times to varying degrees.

A sturdy Tripod
This is essential for shake-free images.

A trigger release
This will help ensure you have a shake free image. If you do not have a shutter release cable you can use the timer delay on your camera.

Glow Sticks
Use one around the neck of the tripod and if you are out with other people, it is a good idea for everyone to wear one around their necks or wrists. This way you know where everyone is in the dark (Note: if you are painting in the scene when exposing your image, take off the glow stick)

Light source
These can vary. Go to a hardware store or dollar store and pick up LED flashlights, kids toys, glow sticks, or any other light source you want to use. The variety of the light source is both endless and is different depending on the type of light painting you are doing. I will explain that more later.

Exposure Times
This is difficult to judge, so you really have to figure this one out on your own by trying a few different exposure times at the location you choose. Again, depending on the type of light painting you are doing, these will vary. Practice will make perfect and as you look at the images in my article I will attempt to give you as much information as I can about each image.

If you have a lot of light painting to do in a scene, you may find that the illuminated areas come out too dark to make an impact. To get around this you'll need to divide your scene up into sections and take multiple images. These images can later be combined in photoshop. To combine images of light painting scenes, simply open up multiple images and then overlay one on top of each other, but select “screen” as the blending mode for each image.

Types of “Light Painting”

A lot of articles that you may read only talk about two types of light painting. I believe there are three.

The first type is the “Illumination” technique

This technique works well when there's very little natural light available, and involves using a light source with a beam to illuminate specific areas of your scene.

Open the shutter of your camera and then go into your scene, stopping to shine your torch on the objects or areas that you want illuminated for a few seconds at a time. Or stand off camera and illuminate with a stronger candle watt light. You might need to take a few exposures to help you judge exactly how long to shine the torch for, but try to give each object in the scene roughly the same illumination time so that they all show up well.

For this image I stood off camera with the camera set to Bulb. I painted the wood object with the flashlight to make it pop out of the scene.

Also remember to stay out of the line of sight of the camera when you've got the torch on or you'll leave a silhouette in front of the object you're illuminating. You should also try to wear a dark colour. Wearing a light colour increases your chances of being picked up by the camera.

The photo above was taken in the middle of the night or an abandoned bus in the forest. I took it with the help form my uncle. We set our cameras up, timed the exposure for 30 seconds after some trial and error. He painted the inside with an LED light and I painted the outside of the bus with another flashlight as I stood off camera.

The second type is the “Light Streaks” technique

For this type of painting with light you'll need a small bulb such as an LED light or exposed torch bulb.

This time, rather than shining your light at objects, you want to keep it angled so that it is always visible by the camera. Keep it moving through your scene and be careful with the speed you move at because that will affect the light's brightness in the final image.

This is where you can spell letters, draw images or just run around randomly and draw lines in the image.

You may have also seen orbs and domes on different photo sharing sites... these are done with LED lights to draw the circles or domes.

The third type is a variation of the “Light Streaks technique, but it uses existing lights in a scene.

For this type of photography you would use light sources like break lights of a car, streaking vehicles on a downtown street, even the lights of a carnival ride at night. You can stick with the streaking lights like I have in this photograph.

I stood beside the street and waited for the bus to pass by. I manually focused on the street before the bus came and used a shutter release. When the bus got to me I pressed the shutter release for a few seconds. The result was the streaking lights left behind by the bus.

Or you can blend multiple techniques together as I did here. I used the streaking lights of the carnival ride and then used an external flash to freeze the image on the scene...

As with all types of different photography, just get out there and try it. You might just like it.

Contact me if you have any questions. You can contact me through my website, www.kpepphotography or at Twitter, @kpepphotography.

Happy Shooting!


Friday, 7 October 2011

Photographing in the Fog

So, I was on my way into work this morning and the fields and ponds were covered in a veil of fog. The clouds above were pink from the morning sun, the fall colours evident in the trees, and the landscape covered in a layer of white.

For those that have seen my images know that I love to be out with my camera on these mornings, especially in the fall and early winter. The lure of the atmosphere and diffused light really draws me out of the house. I love to exploit the landscape while it is covered in fog to evoke mood.

But be warned, fog is that one element that can either set the tone for a beautiful atmosphere in your photos or it can very easily make your photos look white washed and dull, void of color and have no definition.

If fog photography is something you want to get better at, let’s learn what fog is and how to shoot it. There are varying types of fog that you will encounter out on a photo shoot. Some will be visible over water, some will form when the sun heats up a surface, and other only comes out at night. Some fog will be simple to photograph because it has minimal impact on exposure, while some will engulf a scene and be a nightmare to photograph. I found some simple definitions of what the different types of fog are and thought I should run through a simple illustration versus reinventing the wheel and giving you the technical gobbledegook.

Fog can happen at any time of year and is classified according to how it is formed. Here is a rundown on the types of fog...

Radiation and Advection Fog

Sometimes referred to as simply ground fog, radiation fog and advection fog form because of the change in temperature between the earth and the air above it. It occurs when the winds are too calm to mix the layers of air near the ground. During the night the cold layers of air will sit on top of the earth’s surface. As the warm earth surface begins to cool, it also cools the shallow, moist air near the ground to its dew point. And voila... this will condense the layers of air above and fog droplets will form.

Radiation fog occurs frequently in hilly and mountainous areas. This type of fog is formed by the cooling of land after sunset by thermal radiation in calm conditions with clear sky.

Advection fog is different as it is sometimes referred to as sea fog. This fog forms when warm air over the water condenses as it drifts over colder air currents. It also causes fog in coastal areas as it flows over colder air lying on the ground that has cooled down due to radiation.

These types of fog can be very dense and make visibility extremely poor. Radiation fog will usually evaporate during the day when the heat of the sun brings the air above the dew point temperature. Advection fog however, may form at any time. Sometimes in the winter, advection fog may not evaporate for several days because the sun may not be warm enough to heat the air. It will only disperse when a stronger wind stirs up the stagnant air.

Photographing this type of fog usually will have you immersed in the bank of fog. It will engulf a scene. Taking photographs can be tricky. But finding the outer layers, or breaks inside the fog bank are the key to success here.

Evaporation Fog

This fog occurs when cold, dry air travels over warm water or land that is moist and warm. When water in the warm and moist water or land evaporates, it rises and mixes with the cold air layer. The evaporated water then cools down and condenses to form fog.

In the autumn, evaporation, or steam fog may form over a body of water. This is caused by cool air mixing with the warmer, moist air that is being heated from the water. The warm air cools down and reaches 100% humidity.

This type of fog can be either be extremely thick and can contain characteristics that allow it to remain as a defined cloud over a surface, or, on a minor scale, can appear as strands of raising smoke coming off a still pond.

Whether on a large or small scale this type of fog can move fairly fast and using slightly faster shutter speeds are needed. I live near a larger, fast flowing river. This fog will appear over the river and the dense fog will move above the moving water, slightly spilling over the banks at times.

Upslope Fog

This fog usually happens during the winter in the mountains. Light winds push the moist air lying on the ground up the slopes until it reaches a saturation point and condenses. In most cases, the fog forms on the lower slopes of the mountains and leaves the peaks exposed. This can create awe inspiring images that make mountain peaks rise out of nowhere.

Freezing and Ice Fog

With freezing fog, the water droplets contained in the fog become super cooled. As a result, the droplets remain as a liquid until they come into contact with an object. It then it freezes on contact. It is similar to freezing rain but there is no obvious precipitation.

Ice fog is only found in the Arctic. In the extremely cold air, small ice crystals become suspended.

There is a danger here for photographers. The cold temperatures and condensation freezing on your gear has a high probability. Take precautions and protect your gear.

So now that you know the most encountered types of fog... how the heck do we capture it?

If you are planning on shooting in the fog, the best time to capture this natural occurrence is during the evening or very early in the morning, just prior to sunrise and after sunrise. To increase your chances of finding fog, note that it is a lot more common near water.

Shooting photos while in fog is obviously a lot different than going for a day time stroll in the park with your camera to photograph the kids. Your subject matters are not as clear or defined and the all colour is minimized. The benefit of shooting in the fog is that it can diffuse the light source and appear that the light is coming from all angles. The bad thing about this is that is reduces the contrast of photos dramatically.

Fog can be used as a very powerful effect if you can emphasize the lighting, depth and outline of subject matters. It's these things that I search for. They can make the whole scene feel beautifully mysterious and give your photos a professional edge.

Emphasizing Depth

There are no set rules when shooting during dense fog. Remember, you're the photographer and photography is a creative form or art; so how you use the fog is entirely up to you. It is however a good practice to try and get some of the subject matter closer to your camera. This will give the image a pop of colour, and create a focal point because of the contrast and definition.

Shapes and Silhouettes

Sometimes the subject matter can be made into nothing but a husk of a silhouette. When taking photographs in the fog, I always ensure I first expose for the fog itself is rather than the subject. I then reverse that and expose for a subject. When at home I compare the two images to see what form of artistic message I wish to convey. Heck, sometimes I combine the images in Photoshop and use the exposure on the subject and the one on the fog to create one single image. (But that’s a Photoshop tutorial and an article unto itself)

Emphasizing Light

With fog, the light source is much more diffused than normal. This is due to the water droplets which have formed the fog. This softens the light and at the same time makes streaks of light noticeable from the intensity of many light sources. A good example for you to think of is a photograph of a forest in early morning light where the picture is taken in the course of the light and the light is streaking through the trees.

When taking photos in the fog, you want to make the light rays show off a varying quality to it that will give your finished photo the atmosphere you want. To do this, you need to plan out your shooting point. The rays of light will become most visible when you’re shooting near, although not directly at the source. This will ensure the abundant lights will be bright, streaking and split off from all the dark scenes.

Patience and Practice Make the Difference

When shooting in the fog, timing is essential to capture a great photo. Envisioning, moving or waiting for the perfect light will greatly impact the appearance of the light in the final photo. The layer of the fog tends to naturally adjust with time so being prepared at all times is a must. You must always understand your position in relation to the light source and be prepared to take photos of the ever changing landscape. A scene that may present itself one moment will be covered in fog the next.

There are two trains of thought. Know the scene you want to capture and wait for the fog to adjust to get the photo you want. Or, physically move with the breaks in the fog and photograph what that break in the fog presents as it moves across the landscape.

Another thing to remember is that fog may reflect light towards the camera. This will fool the light meter causing your images to be underexposed. To overcome this, use the camera’s built-in exposure compensation with a value of +1/2 to a +2. When you are out you can experiment until you get the proper value, or bracket your images and take 3 or 5 images of different exposures. This will ensure you get the proper exposure.

Another way to overcome this issue is to use manual exposure, but remember to keep in mind that longer exposures can result in a blurry image. Fast shutter speeds will give you a clearer, more realistic image, while longer shutter speeds will give you slightly blurry images, useful if you want to create a more mysterious fog photography effect.

Watch out for rain

When photographing in the fog, you need to watch out for condensation. Why? Well, condensation is small water droplets and this can cause the lens of your camera to become blurred. It will form on your lens, your image sensor and your LCD screen.

It is a good idea to bring an absorbent cloth along with you to wipe away any condensation that forms. Thankfully, there are ways to prevent this from happening though. Before leaving the warmth of your home to the cold outside, you should carry it in a sealed and airtight plastic bag. You can only open the bag once the camera inside is at the equal temperature as it is outside. This will generally take about 30 minutes to an hour for the temperatures to match. This will greatly reduce condensation forming inside and outside of your camera.

Sometimes, condensation can be unavoidable though, so again; it's advised that you bring an absorbent cloth along to wipe the lens clean and do not forget the protective gear for you and the camera. I will go as far as using my LCD screen for exposing versus looking through the viewfinder. Your breath on the back of the camera will immediately cause condensation, and it if freezes and gets into the electronics... well, let’s not dwell on that.

I hope I gave you some information that will be useful to your next fog outing. As with any photography, practice makes perfect. Just get out there and try it... you might be amazed at what you capture.

Happy Shooting!