Category Archives: Photography Tricks

How to take great photos from your iPhone

The iPhone has proved that enthusiasts can take professional photos without feeling intimidated by the idea of needing classes in photography with professional photographers. If you browse over collections online on blogs, the photos range from amateur to really professional quality photos, and all from the iphone.

That said, there are ways to avoid being seen to be just a holiday snapper with a phone. You can snap amazing pictures albeit people or landscapes on the iphone if you follow a set of 7 tips to ensure that you are aware of the low quality issues in order to avoid them.

Also feel free to visit Calgary Photographers – Sharpeshots to learn more about shooting images with your iPhone.

 

Top 7 tips to take great photos from your iPhone:

1. Be careful when in differing lighting situations. You need brightly lit areas for good portraits, and ensure that if it is a portrait picture of your family, check that there is no strong lighting behind them. This will darken the image taken.

2. How many apps? There is a never ending choice of apps to help you with your iphone photography. There are fun ones like Snaptime which allow you to distort and add effects to images for some funny photos. Instagram allows adding filtered effects to your images and then sharing them instantly on facebook. Similar apps like PicPlz and Dermandar allow a range of filters for portraits and landscape panorama shots.

3. Clean your iphone screen and camera lens. You can pick up very cheap microfiber polishing cloths from eBay or your local photography shops. Ensure that you clean any smudges and check consistently. Nothing worse than sizing up the perfect iphone photo shot and then finding later that a smudge smeared the image.

4. Sometimes, lining up subjects in your shot can be tiresome. The iphone has a camera grid to help here. It allows you to use grid lines to line up any parts of the shot properly so you do not have a tilting angle. Open the Camera app, tap the options you want, and slide the grid to ON. Then hit DONE and you have a grid on your screen allowing you to line up each part of the shot.

5. There is no need to leave the flash on AUTO as there are instances where no flash may be a better option. If it’s a darkened room like a club or an exterior night shot, the flash is needed. Avoid using flash on moving objects and taking photos near reflective surfaces like mirrors and glass.

6. Who says you can’t approach professional photography with an iphone? Pros are used to taking several shots at once and at differing apertures to ensure they have at least one excellent shot. Well, the iphone has a HDR function allowing you to do just that and much quicker than on a standard camera. HDR (High Dynamic Range) takes 3 shots at different exposures so a great option for complex lighting situations.

7. Get used to focusing on the subjects with manual focus. It’s easy to just point the iphone and tap a shot, but don’t forget to tap for exposure and focus too. For example, if you have someone standing against a background and that person is the main subject such as a graduation shot, then focus on that person by tapping him or her. Usually, depth of field will have enabled your background to be in focus too but get the main subject of the focus sharp.

Add these tips to your iPhone Photography snaps and enjoy a phone that can be capturing the very best of your holiday, events, birthdays, and other activities.

 

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Decrypting Horrible Camera and Lens Terminologies

Lately, we all get confused over the zillion *horrible* lens and camera terminologies present in the photography arena out there. Canon, Nikon, Sigma… all have their own lingo when it comes to naming their cameras and lenses. Frankly, when I was a newbie in this phenomenal world of photography, I really got mad over such huge types of cameras and lenses available in the market. How the hell was I supposed to know about all those cryptic lens and camera terminologies? How would I’ve known what does an EFS stand for and what does USM means? But then, I studied *a lot* about all this stuff and with the help of some great friends, I can now safely assume that I’ve attained a slightly better level in understanding of all these terminologies. So this post is all about that. Here we go:

Brand Lenses

Most major camera manufacturers offer their own line of lenses. Such lenses tend to follow the most stringent quality guidelines, and often come with a price premium.

Canon Lenses

Canon lenses use the following terms to indicate features of each lens:

  • Common
    • XYZmm: Focal length
    • f/x.y: Maximum aperture
  • Focus/Mount Type
    • EF: Electronic Focus
    • EF-S: Short-Back Electronic Focus
    • TS: Tilt-Shift
    • TS-E: Tilt-Shift Electronic focus
  • Features
    • IS: Image Stabilization
    • USM: Auto Focus Type: Ultrasonic Motor
    • (Mark) N: Version of lens (Mark II = v2, Mark III = v3, etc., word Mark may not be present)
    • DO: Diffractive Optics
    • L: Luxury series
    • Macro: 1:1 magnification

Examples

  • Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8 L II USM Lens
  • Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II USM Lens
  • Canon TS-E 17mm f/4 L
  • Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L USM
  • Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM

Nikon Lenses

Nikon lenses use the following terms to indicate features of each lens:

  • Common
    • XYZmm: Focal length
    • f/x.y: Maximum aperture
  • Lens System
    • DX: Digital, Short Back
    • FX: Full Frame (film or digital)
  • Lens Mount
    • AI: Automatic Indexing mount (includes metering sensor)
    • AI-S: Improved Automatic Indexing mount
  • Focusing System
    • AF: Auto Focus, built into camera
    • AF-S: Auto-Focus Silent (Silent Wave Motor, required for bodies without focus motor)
    • AF-I: Auto-Focus Internal
    • AF-N: Auto-Focus (improved version, rare)
  • Features
    • SWM: Silent Wave Motor
    • N: Nano-Crystal Coating
    • NIC: Nikon Integrated Coating (multicoated lenses)
    • SIC: Super Integrated Coating (multicoated lenses)
    • VR: Vibration Reduction
    • ED: Extra-low Dispersion Glass
    • ASP: Aspherical Lens Element
    • IF: Internal Focusing
    • RD: Rear Focusing
    • Micro: 1:1 magnification
    • G: No aperture ring (automatic aperture only)

Examples

  • Nikon AF-S DX 16-85mm VR f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED
  • Nikon AF-I 600mm f/4D IF-ED
  • Nikon AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED

Olympus 4/3 lenses

  • Common
    • XYZmm: Focal length
    • 1:x.y: Maximum aperture
  • Features
    • ED: Extra-low dispersion glass elements
    • SWD: Auto Focus Type: Supersonic Wave Drive Motor
    • N: Version of lens (II = v2, III = v3, etc.)

Pentax lenses

  • Common
    • XYZmm: Focal length
    • f/x.y: Maximum aperture
  • Focus/Mount Type
    • K, M: Manual Focus, Manual/Aperture priority metering
    • AF: Early AF system with AF motor and electronics in lens that works only with ME-F body.
    • A: Manual Focus, supports Shutter priority and Program exposure metering
    • F: Adds Auto Focus to capabilities of A lenses
    • FA: Adds ability to communicate MTF to body to capabilities of F lenses
    • FAJ: Removes aperture ring from capabilities of FA lenses
    • DA: Same capabilities as FAJ, but with reduced imaging circle for digital cameras with APS-C sized sensor
    • DA L: Same capabilities as DA lenses, Lighter construction
    • D FA: Same capabilities as FA lenses, usable on both film and digital cameras
  • Features
    • AL: Aspherical elements
    • ED: Extra-low dispersion glass elements
    • SMC: Super multi coating lens coating
    • PZ: Power Zoom
    • SDM: Auto Focus Type: Supersonic Drive Motor
    • IF: Internal focussing
    • WR: Weather Resistant (when matched with weather resistant
    • Limited: High quality (primes)

Sony/Minolta Lenses

Sony lenses, previously Minolta lenses, have similar features to Nikon and Canon. Their notation is as follows:

  • Common
    • XYZ/x.y: Focal length/Maximum Aperture
  • Lens Mount Type
    • Alpha: ? Type Mount
    • E: E Type Mount
  • Focusing System
    • SSM: In-Lens Super-sonic Motor
    • SAM: In-Lens Micro Motor
  • Features
    • G: Gold Series (highest quality)
    • (D): Distance Encoding (supports ADI feature of some Sony bodies)
    • DT: Digital Technology (optimized for digital cameras)
    • APO: Apochromatic correction using AD elements
    • HS-APO: High-Speed APO
    • AD: Anomalous Dispersion
    • OSS: Optical Steady Shot (E-mount only)
    • T: High-performance Coating

Examples

  • Sony Alpha 70-200/2.8 G
  • Sony Alpha 28-75/2.8 SAM
  • Sony Alpha DT 18-250/3.5-6.3
  • Sony E 18-200/3.5-6.3 OSS
  • Sony Alpha 100/2.8 Macro

Off-Brand Lenses

Many off-brand lens manufacturers make lenses that fit many types of bodies, including Canon, Nikon, etc.

Sigma Lenses

Sigma lenses use the following terms to indicate features of each lens. They differ slightly in how they denote aperture:

  • Common
    • XYZmm: Focal length
    • Fx.y: Maximum aperture
  • Compatible Body Brands
    • Sigma
    • Nikon
    • Canon
    • Minolta/Sony
    • Pentax
    • Kodak (extremely limited)
    • Fujifilm
    • Olympus (limited)
    • Panasonic (very limited)
    • Lecia (very limited)
  • Features
    • HSM: Hyper-Sonic Motor
    • ASP: Aspherical lens element
    • APO: Aphochromatic (low-dispersion) lens element
    • OS: Optical Stabilizer
    • RF: Rear focusing
    • IF: Inner focusing
    • CONV: Teleconverter compatible (APO Teleconverter EX)
    • EX: Professional lens body finishing
    • DG: Supports full-frame cameras
    • DC: Supports cropped-frame cameras (lightweight construction)
    • Macro: 1:1 magnification

Examples

  • Sigma 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM
  • Sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM
  • Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM
  • Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro

Tamron Lenses

Tamron lenses use the following terms to indicate features of each lens. Tamron offers a considerable degree of functional features and lens types, particularly lens types that affect chromatic aberration:

  • Common
    • XYZmm: Focal length
    • F/x.y: Maximum aperture
    • AF: Auto-Focus
  • Compatible Body Brands
    • Nikon
    • Canon
    • Minolta/Sony
    • Pentax
  • Features
    • Lens Elements
      • XR: Extra Refractive Index Glass (lighter, smaller lenses)
      • LD: Low Dispersion (chromatic aberration reduction)
      • XLD: Extra Low Dispersion (advanced chromatic aberration reduction)
      • ASL: Aspherical (improved focal plane convergence)
      • LAH: LD + ASL hybrid lens element
      • AD: Anomalous Dispersion (improved control over chromatic aberration)
      • ADH: AD + ASL hybrid lens element
      • HID: High Index, High Dispersion Glass (minimizes lateral chromatic aberration)
    • Functional Features
      • VC: Vibration Compensation
      • USD: Ultrasonic Silent Drive
      • SP: Super Performance (professional line)
      • IF: Internal Focusing System
      • Di: Digitally Integrated (optimized for use with full-frame digital cameras)
      • Di-II: Digitally Integrated (optimized for use with APS-C digital cameras)
      • ZL: Zoom Lock (prevents undesired zoom lens barrel extension)
      • A/M: Auto-focus/Manual-focus Switch Mechanism
      • FEC: Filter Effect Control (controls filter direction when lens hood attached, i.e. for Polarizing filters)
      • 1:1 Macro: 1:1 Magnification

Examples

  • Tamron SP AF17-35MM F/2.8-4 Di LD Aspherical (IF)
  • Tamron AF18-200mm F/3.5-6.3 XR Di II LD Aspherical (IF)
  • Tamron SP AF180mm F/3.5 Di LD (IF) 1:1 Macro

Tokina Lenses

Tokina lenses use the following terms to indicate features of each lens:

  • Common
    • VW~XYZmm: Focal length
    • f/x.y: Maximum aperture
    • AF: Auto-Focus
  • Compatible Body Brands
    • Nikon
    • Canon
    • Minolta/Sony
    • Pentax
  • Features
    • AS: Aspherical Optics
    • F&R: Advanced Aspherical Optics
    • SD: Super Low Dispersion
    • HLD: High-Refraction, Low Dispersion
    • MC: Multi-Coating
    • FE: Floating Element System
    • IF: Internal Focus System
    • IRF: Internal Rear Focus System
    • FC: Focus Clutch Mechanism (allows switching between auto & manual focus)
    • One Touch FC: One-Touch Focus Clutch Mechanism

Again, this is not a complete list. If you find something that should be here, please let me know by dropping in a comment and I’ll definitely add it to the list 🙂

5 Tips On How To Take Killer Macro Shots

Macro Photography is a whole new world to photographers. Macro shots portray life in such imaginative and beautiful ways that you’re left spell bound and speechless. Taking killer macro shots is not easy. It’s an art. And you can also master this amazing art by following tips and tricks. Here’s how you can induce that killer instinct and X-factor to your macro shots.

Aperture

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This is the most important thing when it comes to macro photography. First of all, always set your camera to the macro mode (every digital camera has a dedicated macro mode which is marked by a small flower symbol). After selecting the exclusive macro mode, make sure that you have the largest possible aperture size set for your shots. This helps in two ways:

  1. It helps to capture all the available light across your macro subject so that the photographs come out to be crystal clear.
  2. It helps in retaining a smaller area of field in your shots so that only the subject is in focus. That makes your macro shots even stronger when finished.

Focus

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Obviously, one of the most important aspect of any photography technique Is perfect focus. Now a days, almost all the digital cameras offer automatic focus. However, I won’t recommend you using automatic focus for macro shots. Speaking from my personal experience, 9 out of 10 times I have used automatic focus in shooting macro objects, the camera has failed to focus correctly on the subject. The reason for that is, the camera sensor is not smart enough at the macro levels to differentiate between the focus of subject and the background. That’s why I’m recommending you to keep a manual focus and adjust the pin-point sharp focus at your subject manually.

Depth Of Field

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The DoF (Depth Of Field) is another important aspect of macro photography. As explained earlier, it’s the aperture that controls the depth of field. However, the Depth Of Filed also depends largely on the combination of aperture and subject’s distance as well as the background distance from the subject being photographed. Having a correct combination of all these only will ensure that you have amazing macro shots every time you try to get them.

Say No Internal Flash

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In macro photography, using the in-built camera flash is not recommended. The reason for this is, the built-in camera mount flash just ruins the macro shots to an irreversible level. Since the flash is neither placed correctly to be fired on macro subjects, nor does it have that soft touch, the use of internal flash is not recommended. However, you can use external soft flashes with one or more reflectors if you really want to shoot at low light conditions.

In a time when pretty much everyone has access to digital cameras and can take half decent photos, being able to take great macro shots is something that can separate you from your average photographer.

And once you’ve built up a nice collection of stunning macro shots, a great way you can share these photos is via services like www.lulu.com which give you the option to design and create your own photo books and send them directly to yourself, or to friends as a unique and creative gift.

Macro Doll

How To Make A Super Macro Lens From Canon 18-55mm Lens

If you’ve just upgraded your camera arsenal (like I did), with a new DSLR and are having the default kit  18-55mm lens which comes boxed with majority of SLR cameras and you’re missing your old macro lens of point and shoot, this is for you. Macro photography has ever been one of the most fascinating region to explore in digital photography. And with  amazing examples like the Pictures Of Insects Covered In Water Droplets, one really should try out his/her hands on macro photography.

But you don’t have a macro lens and neither you have a budget to get one exclusively. What to do now? Well, here’s an amazing and very detailed video on how you can make your own macro lens out of the default 18-55mm kit lens of your DSLR camera. However, we won’t recommend you to try this with your brand new kit lens. Instead, you can get a very cheap used 18-55 lens to try things out.

Disclaimer: It’s an extreme engineering video which involved explicit scenes of tearing apart a lens. If you are a camera lover, you might get a heart attack. We will not be held responsible for that 😉


Well, to me, that was indeed scary! Do share in your thoughts and what all you have to say about the video by dropping in your comments below.

Landscape Photography Tips

Landscapes are the most beautiful form of nature. There are so many landscape forms of nature in this world that it may take your entire life in trying to capture them. There is always something magical about a landscape that persuades and encourages a photographer to take its photograph. To start with, here are some breathtaking examples of landscape photography:

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Here in this article, we’ll tell you some tips and tricks that would help you to exploit your camera to the maximum extent for landscape photography. To make sure you get maximum output out of your landscape shots, you should keep in mind following points and tricks:

Imagine a Composition

Shooting landscape is not at all similar to shooting any other object. Landscapes are meant to be shot for a composition. So, next time you go out in the wild and plan for a landscape photography series, make sure you have a composition of a scenery in your mind.

The lens

Landscape shots are best captured with a wide angle lens. The reason for that is, wide angle lenses tend to cover greater amount of area in the same available space. So, using a wide angle lens is recommended.

Foreground matters

While shooting landscapes, foreground is equally important as the background. While you should definitely care about the background structure, having a good foreground also decides the fate of the final photograph to a great extent

Don’t forget your tripod

When you decide to go for a landscape shoot, never ever forget your tripod. You will have to use the tripod in the low light conditions so that you don’t end up with shaky and blurry photographs.

Check the weather

While going and planning a landscape shooting schedule, it’s always wise to check with the weather reports of the area as even a small amount of rain or wind can ruin all your plans of landscape photography.

Focal Points

The modern digital DSLR cameras have many focal points compared to single focal points of old cameras. This enables you as a photographer to keep more than one object in focus while photographing a scene.  Landscape photography gives you maximum opportunity to use this feature of your camera.

Use Maximum Depth of Field

Depth Of Field (DoF) refers to how many objects will be in focus relative to the distance between them and the camera. As you may already know, in landscape scenes all of the objects are in focus and there is no question of blurring or fading any object out. To achieve this, always shoot at maximum depth of field.