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Learn How To Use Your Digital Camera

Seeing BLUE

Bridges and Fog

From Josh Anon/ DPA instructor in San Francisco To view more of his images please visit Even though Mark Twain never actually said the coldest winter he’d ever had was a summer in San Francisco, the near-daily fog does make for some cold summers.  And some beautiful pictures!  The bay area’s geography is also unique in that there are hills in the east bay, and the hills are often a demarcation line for the fog.  Depending on the weather conditions, there are days where a low, thick bank of fog rolls into the bay but below the top of the hills.  This makes it so that you can get a great vantage point, looking across the city and seeing where the fog is.  I was in the hills on one such day, guessing the weather conditions would be correct, but I arrived before sunset and before I could see for sure what the fog was doing.  As the sun started to set, the fog moved across the bay.  A long lens on a tripod (roughly 400mm) let me isolate the features that make the scene say “San Francisco,” that is the bay bridge, Sutro tower, and the downtown skyline.  Even though the fog covers most of them, you still have a sense of geography.  Waiting for the lights to come on also added a nice element to the shot, a bit of warmth and brightness contrasting with the fog. Canon EOS 1Ds with Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS on a tripod at 400mm.  f/16, 1.6 sec, ISO 100, -2/3 stops in evaluative metering.  

Symmetry, timing, and simplicity

From Frank Siteman/ DPA instructor in Boston To view more of his images please visit Symmetry, timing and simplicity are the backbone of many stand-out images. This photo was taken while on a casual, end of day walk along the shoreline at Old Orchard Beach in Ogunquit, Maine.  As the sun was setting behind me, only the clouds were being directly illuminated, creating a scene with  an intense, warm-cool  (yellow/blue) color contrast.  Adding to this, was the reflection of the sky on the mirror-like, smooth sand beach, that appeared with each retreating wave, making the timing of the exposure an important factor.  Choosing a wide angle allowed for the inclusion of  the most real estate (keeping both the actual clouds and their reflections on the sand) and enabled me to work with a slowish shutter speed of a 1/15th sec with an aperture  of  f/8.0, holding focus from the foreground to the horizon. This was a situation where breaking the “rule of thirds” allowed for a more dynamic image.   Camera was Canon 5D, ISO 200 and using a 24mm focal length with a 24-105 IS lens.

A vision and a camera

From Frank Siteman/ DPA instructor in Boston To view more of his images please visit Sometimes, quite often as it turns out, great photos are no further from your front door than your front porch.  This image is an example of that.  No need to travel to a distant land or even get in the car to chase light.  I did have to put on a serious coat and go outdoors though, but once there, all I needed was a vision and a camera.  To give this image the feeling of the day, I selected a tungsten color balance, which gave the chilling blue color-cast to the snow.  The contrast between the on-coming car’s headlamps and that blueish snow make the vehicle pop from the photo.  I actually enhanced the lights with NIK software, darkening and warming them, and used another NIK filter to add a cool glow to the overall image. One important technical aspect of shooting in the cold and/or snow is to keep your equipment (and yourself) warm and dry.  I made a plastic covering for the camera with an opening just large enough to poke a lens hood through.  When not actually shooting, I kept this opening pinned against my body which prevented any snowflakes from landing on either the camera or the lens. IF I’d stayed out longer, I would have kept the camera under my coat, not just for protection, but to keep the battery warm.  Shooting in the cold can suck the life out of your battery in a very short time.  To address that, I always keep an extra battery in an inside pocket, next to my body, and switch it out with the battery in the camera which is continually chilling as I work.  For extended shoots outdoors, I hold a Hothands Hand Warmer outside the camera’s battery compartment.  Along with keeping my battery active, I end up having at least one warm hand as well.  Another win-win. Camera was Canon 5D, ISO 100, 1/60th sec,  24-105 IS lens at f/5.6, shot at 105mm.

Color balance

    From Frank Siteman/ DPA Boston Instructor To view more please visit Siteman says, "This image was made while I was working on a motion picture in woodstock, VT in the late spring. One of my assignments was to shoot footage for the opening sequence and to scout locations. Driving around snow covered muddy roads was a challenge, but finding beauty in the early morning was anything but. I found this house, enveloped by a wet sticky snow, before 5AM and being the only vehicle out at that time… and a stranger to boot, drew attention. It was just what was needed to create a human touch to offset the cold and somewhat forbidding environment. Daylight color balance assured the light from the inside of the home would be very warm and since the sun was hours away from rising, the daylight, like the day itself, remained a very cool blue. This intense contrast of those complimentary colors, as well as the web of snow covered tree limbs, worked well to create an atmosphere of intrigue. This image, with the person peering from behind a curtain, presents an unknown story and in doing so, maintains interest for the viewer. Who’s looking at whom?" Using a 20mm wide angle lens, I was able to hand-hold my camera for a 1/30th sec exposure at f/4, ISO 100.

Shutter Speeds & Water

 © Ellen Yeiser Awe summer, what a great time to get outside and photograph mother nature. Water is a fascinating and endless subject. When shooting water, shutter speed is everything. If you want the water to have a silky, white feel or show motion use a slow shutter speed. You may have to use a neutral density filter to get a slow enough shutter speed. To freeze water use a high shutter speed. I used a a shutter speed of 250 as I wanted the reflections to be frozen and clear.  Experiment with different shutter speeds as you shoot water.

Hit the Water!

© Michael Thoennes Its time to hit the water! Using an underwater camera and an on camera flash, Michael Thoennes jumped into the pool and photographed the model below the surface. The blue of the pool water is less apparent on the hand because of the color and intensity of light from the on-camera flash. A great excuse to get a Panasonic Lumix TS camera, Waterproof. Keep it simple and frame your subject quickly. Using aperture priority and the on camera flash with a flash exposure compensation of +1/3 you should get a good shot. Have fun.

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