Digital Photo Academy

Learn How To Use Your Digital Camera

DPA Magazine

Composing a Silhouette

I rarely shoot sunsets and even more rarely, silhouettes. While covering the California coastal town of Carpinteria for a local magazine, however, I found myself on the beach at sunset. Normally, I like to shoot subjects lit with sunset light, not the actual sunset, but the lifeguard tower had caught my attention. A young woman was sitting on the edge of the tower reading a book.  When she stood up to watch the sun setting, I knew I had a good image. Moving a few feet to the side to place the sun partially behind the tower created a starburst.  Composing the view down the beach while placing the silhouette of the lifeguard tower in the right third of the image gave me a greater feeling of depth. My model only stayed in that position for a couple frames, but it was long enough to give me one of the stronger images of the entire assignment.   © 2007 Chuck Place, Los Angeles DPA Instructor


Freezing The Moment

While shooting a job for National Geographic Traveler Magazine in Cancun, Mexico, I arranged to shoot a sailboard instructor at one of the beach hotels. I had brought along with me an Ewa-marine underwater housing for my camera and decided to shoot in the water, using the nearby hotel as a background. © 2007 Chuck Place, Los Angeles DPA Instructor Sitting in three feet of water, I pre-set the exposure on my camera and arranged for the instructor to sail between myself and the afternoon sun. Light passing through a brightly colored sail is always more saturated that light reflected off a front lit sail. I made sure I had a fast enough shutter speed, about 1/250 of a second, to stop the action and fired off some frames every time I felt the sail pass in front of the sun. Professional photography is often a lot of work, but sometimes it’s also just plain fun.


Using Evening Light

There is a certain light that happens only on a summer evening. You know what I′m talking about, that light that makes everything glow. The "magic hour", whatever you choose to call it. Many things happen at this time of day. Wildlife becomes more active. Insects hatch on trout streams. And your cousin who hasn′t caught a fish all day finally fools a trout into taking his fly. When all these elements present themselves, be ready and you′ll come away with some memorable images. When photographing someone with a fish, on a lake or a stream, bring them close to water level. If they are wearing sunglasses have them take them off. Are they wearing a hat? Raise the bill a little so you can see their face. Is the sun at their back? Use a fill flash. Focus on the fish and recompose the image, let the person fall a little out of focus. Include the background by using a wider lens and getting closer to your subject, it gives the photo a sense of place. © 2007 Michael Dvorak, Minneapolis DPA Instructor Think of your photo as a small narrative of the moment. It may seem like a lot to think about, but the more you do it the more it just becomes second nature. And remember, these are just tips not rules.


Water Fowl Galore

Water Fowl Galore at Belmar Park - Lakewood, CO If you′re in the Denver, Colorado area and you′re looking to photograph water fowl or simply absorb the view of lots of different species, the 127 acre Belmar Park is the place to go. Located in the city of Lakewood, it′s only minutes from downtown Denver. Consisting of two lakes, the main one being Kountze, each offers its own rewards for the curious nature photographer. Turtles, barn swallows, white pelicans, raccoons, and many types of ducks are frequent visitors. Also commonly found are egrets, night herons, great blue herons, and avocets. Many of these species are seasonal, but if you head there in the spring, you′ll surely be treated to them all. Spring offers the added rewarded of seeing and photographing many baby animals. © 2007 Russ Burden, Denver DPA Instructor To get to Belmar Park from Denver, head west on the 6th Ave Freeway to Wadsworth Blvd. Go south for a few blocks to Ohio and make a right turn into the park. Get there early in the morning to make your images glow in the warm light of sunrise.


Using What You Have

Driving down the coast to Los Angeles, I stopped at County Line, a popular surfing spot above Malibu. The wind was blowing hard and the area had been taken over by sailboarders. © 2007 Chuck Place The longest lens I had with me that day was a 80-200mm f2.8 zoom, an extremely versatile lens, but not enough reach to capture all the wave jumping happening offshore. I had to settle for shooting sailboarders as they battled their way through the wind-blown shore break. Positioning myself high on a bluff, I cropped out the horizon to isolate the action and made sure the backlighting and white surf didn’t cause me to underexpose my images. The action was wild with some sailors getting knocked down as they tried to punch through the powerful waves. Sometimes, it turns out, you don’t need those super telephoto lenses to capture the action, just the right vantage point.


Patience, Patience, Patience

Tip: Patience, patience patience. This shot began as nothing more than an idea while covering a bike race, and required waiting close to an hour for the riders to pass beneath. It was an hour spent second-guessing the decision to wait in a parking lot while the race action was going on elsewhere, but to leave would mean missing the shot. In the end it was worth the risk. After the first riders came through in a tight bunch, a second pack came along with more even spacing - perfect for adding to the symmetrical composition of the bright yellow tree against the blue sky. A pack of bicycle riders in the Tour of the Tucson Mountains pass beneath a Palo Verde tree, in its full spring bloom of yellow flowers, on Avra Valley road, north of Tucson Arizona: © 2007 Chris Richards, Phoenix DPA Instructor


It′s Important to Play!

It′s important to play! It′s easy to get caught up in the bells and whistles of a new camera or lens, but sometimes it′s important to let go of the serious side of photography and just goof around. This shot was made with a point and shoot on a lovely spring day in New York′s Central Park. No big cameras, no heavy camera bag - just a patch of grass, a new friend and a playful mindset. © 2007 Chris Richards, Phoenix DPA Instructor


Detail vs. Mood

Location: Central Park, NYC Tip:  Detail is important, but so is mood. This effect was created in camera, by choosing the right lighting, exposure & shutter speed. © 2007 Douglas Carver, New York DPA Instructor This photo was taken from the same location, minutes apart from the other Jogger 1 photo (above). Changing the exposure (less) & shutter speed (faster) yields a significantly different mood. © 2007 Douglas Carver, New York DPA Instructor


Add Contrasting Elements to your Images

My husband and I went hiking in Oklahoma over the weekend and brought along the point and shoot. I was tired of lugging around gear, so we put this handy little camera in our backpack and ended up with some great images.  My husband shot many of them and he was actually pleased. He is not a photographer and is often disappointed with his results. Not this time--thanks to the great little Panasonic! All were shot on the easy auto mode... This image captures the sensory experience of a cold wind, stirring up a summer prairie. Normally, I would avoid a predictable bulls-eye composition taken at shoulder level above a fixed object—but in this case, the composition is anything but static and conventional. Why is this particular image so successful? Glorious movement! By placing the unmoving rock in the center of the viewfinder, nature’s force stirring among the flowers is magnified, as the rock anchors a whirlwind of movement and color. © 2007 Angilee Wilkerson, Dallas DPA Instructor The ambiguity inherent in an image lacking clarity and sharpness provides the viewer an experience of mystery and even a surreal intrigue. In most cases, a blurry image, lacking sharpness to serve as a resting point for the viewer’s eye, will often leave the viewer uninterested, due to an absence of visual entry into the image. This photograph’s static rock is the key to its success. This image also shows a keen eye for color: the rich greens and yellows of the moving flora are contrasted nicely against the flatness of the brown rock.  Instead of competing with each other—the flatness of the stone brings emphasis to the richness of the prairies color. We went back to the prairie the next day to find the cool wind gone: replaced with a humid heat and the  hum of honeybees collecting pollen.


Working With Flat Lighting

Flat lighting is not the end all be all of a good photograph. By doing a simple levels correction in Photoshop, a flat image can be turned into a photograph with good contrast and nice lighting. © 2007 Ken DeJarlais, Seattle DPA Instructor


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