Digital Photo Academy

Learn How To Use Your Digital Camera

DPA Magazine

Spring Lightning Storms

One of the great spring and summer events that always make dramatic pictures are the storms that pop up during the evening hours. With digital cameras and a tripod one can set out and photograph a lightning storm after it has passed by. As for the technical data i have my cameras set to record in RAW mode. This allows me to get the most detail and fine tune the image for best quality once i return to the studio. I live in a city where there is a fair amount of ambient light at night so this allows me to keep my ISO, or the cameras sensitivity to light, at around ISO 100 with a F-Stop (aperture) of f5.6 and a shutter speed of around 5 seconds. Then it all comes down to patience, luck, and persistence. I keep shooting until I get a good lightning bolt during one of my exposures, the nice thing with digital is you can shoot a lot without fear of running out of film.  You can also adjust your exposure by checking the screen. © 2007 Darren Hauck, Chicago DPA Instructor


Silhouettes with a Panasonic Point-and-Shoot

A silhouette like this one is typically difficult to expose correctly. It is one thing to meter for a rich sky, casting the unlit subject into darkness, but it’s quite another to also maintain detail and color in the composition’s foreground. The Panasonic DMC-TZ3 did just this. By setting the meter in Simple Mode the camera took account of foreground, subject, and sky and chose an exposure that did not compromise the integrity of each. The position of the buffalo in front of the slate-blue mountain range, on the open prairie, establishes both a sense of timelessness and environmental history.  Notice how the roundness of the buffalo’s head and curving lines of its body strike a cord in union with the shape of the mountains—creating a visual sense of harmony in form.  This harmony is given added depth by the surrounding prairie grasses and wildflowers, which the movement of buffalo herds has helped to sustain over the centuries. The coexistence of animal and landscape in the image is also thematically-drawn by the placement of the buffalo in the front one-third of the frame. This placement leaves space all around the subject, so that the viewer is free to move visually through that great expanse of earth and sky, observing the stillness of the prairie as the sun falls behind the bison, while silhouetting the buffalo calls attention to its near-extinction. © Angilee Wilkerson, Dallas DPA Instructor


Shooting into the Sun

Most photographers are afraid of shooting directly into the sun. No one likes blown highlights and harsh shadows, however, sometimes  shooting into the sun can cause beautiful results. This photo below shows that by shooting almost into the sun the children are emphasized as the subject of the photo.   © 2007 Frank Siteman, Boston DPA Instructor


Keep Shooting Right Through Sunset

The last light of "the golden hour" can produce some spectacular light and texture. And don′t be afraid to alter the image proportions; here the more horizontal crop enhanced left-to-right flow of the boat and birds. © 2007 Michael Hart, Houston DPA Instructor


Great Photos at the Beach

The best time to be at the beach is sometimes the worst time for taking a great photograph. Direct midday light means great sun-tanning but it is a harsh and unflattering light for photography. Subjects tend to squint and the light bouncing off of sand can fool the exposure meter of your camera into under- or over-exposure. Here are the three best tips for taking better portraits at the beach: 1. Shoot on an overcast day. Cloudy conditions in the middle of the day means a softer, more flattering light and subjects who don′t squint. 2. Shoot into the afternoon or setting sun. This is only possible with SLR cameras with full manual controls, because your automatic exposure meter would underexpose the image leading to a silhouetted subject. Shooting at a proper exposure for backlit subjects will reveal even, shadowless skin tones and an blown-out, artistic background. 3. Shoot under a beach umbrella. Professional photographers prefer to shoot under open shade when they have to shoot in harsh mid-day sunlight. Your beach umbrella is a portable shadow that creates the soft, flattering light needed to take a great portrait.   © 2007 Joel Silverman, Atlanta DPA Instructor


Break the Rules!

Sometimes breaking the rules can yield dramatic images.  In this case, I chose an angle that provided extreme back-lighting of the subject. Central Park, NYC © 2007 Douglas Carver, New York DPA Instructor


Add a Moon and Use Strong Sunset Light

High desert was shot off of old Highway 8 on the California Mexico border. This rock is about 2 hours east of San Diego and visible from highway 8. Lots of interesting rock formations in all high desert areas. I shot this in the spring because of the strong sunset light bouncing off of large cumulus clouds behind me to the west. The desert air is very clear through April and May and on cold evenings the moon is quite bright. Of course there are many interesting images to be shot after the early spring showers when the desert blooms. High Desert Moon Rise: © 2007 Ken DeJarlais, Seattle DPA Instructor


Weave Magic Into A Sunset

How can you weave a little more magic into your sunset photographs? This photo, taken on the Greek Island of Paros, presented some real opportunities. Instead of standing upright while making the shot, I crouched down low next to the water to create a sense of boating, swimming, or floating. I shifted the horizon to the extreme upper edge of the image and that painted a beautiful, murky-black mystery at the bottom. Although I kept the mountain peak in the center of the image, adding the mast and thin rope lines at right created a kind of kinship of triangular shapes—one opaque and one transparent. I stayed patient with the light until it hit an eerie, peaceful softness—very much like a watercolor drawing. © 2007 Rick Wright, Philadelphia DPA Instructor


Walk in Circles and Step Back

Location - 94th St. and 5th Ave., Manhattan Tip: It pays to walk in circles, turn around, take a few steps back-you’ll see things you might otherwise miss. © 2007 Bob Blanken, Washington DC DPA Instructor


Use Backlighting for Leaves and Flowers

Although much of Southern California is either dry chaparral or even drier desert, winter rains create a transformation that belies the arid climate, quickly turning everything green for a short month or two. This metamorphosis is especially dramatic in the wine country located just north of Santa Barbara, California. I stumbled on this location while driving the winding Foxen Canyon Road off of Highway 154 near the town of Los Olivos.  The image is from my soon to be released book “The Beautiful Santa Ynez Valley”. Spring in the Santa Ynez Valley is a collage of new leaves, all painted in different shades of green.  The tender, new grape leaves in the vineyards are an especially vibrant yellow-green when backlit. © 2007 Chuck Place, Los Angeles DPA Instructor I positioned myself on a nearby hillside and set my camera on a Gitzo tripod, framing the landscape tightly with a zoom lens. The zoom range made it possible to crop out extraneous buildings and compress the rows of vines as they flowed over the hills. I made sure to shade the front element of my lens from the sun to avoid flare and opened up 2/3 of a stop from the meter reading. Anytime I photograph flowers or leaves, I try to use backlighting. Light passing through a leaf will produce a much more saturated color than light reflecting off the surface.  And in this situation, the soft green of new spring leaves is exactly what I am trying to capture.


©2007-2016 Digital Photo Academy | How To Use Your Digital Camera