Can a photograph ever do justice to its subject? It’s a question that drives photographers to hone and perfect their craft as they strive to make images that reflect the true beauty of the world around us. Here we share our top tips for capturing some of the most elusive subjects in photography.
How to Photograph … Fog
Nothing adds more intrigue, atmosphere, or mystery to an image than a shroud of fog. However, the nature of fog itself poses some significant challenges for photographers.
The challenge: Fog tends to mean low light conditions. And whatever light is present will be diffused and scattered, due to the water droplets in the air. This means your scene is likely to lack contrast, definition, and color saturation. All of this can result in flat, dull, and lifeless images.
Use the Foreground
Focus your camera on elements in the foreground. This will help to introduce contrast and depth to your scene. Using leading lines or framing techniques can also help add depth to a foggy photograph scene. And don’t forget to use your long lens.
Get Familiar With Manual Settings
Diffused, scattered light can confuse your equipment’s automatic exposure settings, so get familiar with adjusting your exposure manually. Try taking several shots of the fog at different exposures to see which works best.
Slow Your Shutter Speed
Most fog is on the move. By going for a long exposure, you can create those ghost-like, haunting wisps. Slowing your shutter speed will reveal the shapes and patterns of movement.
Use a Tripod
A tripod will help keep your camera steady. If you’re not adjusting your exposure settings manually, the low light conditions will cause your camera to use a slow shutter speed, so even the slightest unwanted camera motion will result in soft photographs. Don’t forget to secure it against movement caused by wind, too!
Shoot from an Elevated Position
Rising above the fog will mean you can use the sharper features of subjects above the shroud to introduce color and contrast to your photograph.
Fog is a good opportunity to …
Create silhouettes: place the subject directly in front of the brightest part of the scene and shoot directly into the light source.
Capture natural light beams: to capture the scattered rays of light at their most defined, stay close to the light source and keep it at an angle to your camera.
How to Photograph … Food
Whether you’re shooting for your Instagram feed or the pages of a cookbook, these tips will help you photograph mouth-watering images of your favorite food.
Find the Right Lighting
Natural daylight will give your dish a soft, fresh look and feel. An ideal location would be next to a window on a slightly overcast day, but the same effect can be achieved with a soft, diffused light source. Be sure to place the light source behind or to the side of your food to help emphasize the hidden layers and textures of your dish. Direct light from above will wash out textures.
Shoot from the Right Angle
Burgers, tiered cakes, and sandwiches will benefit from side-on shots that showcase each delicious layer. Pizzas and charcuterie boards will definitely look at their best in a top-down image. Always include some close-up photos of food too, that highlight the texture, smell, and flavor of each element on the plate. See food as abstract shapes and arrange your compositions taking lines and forms into account.
Use Props Thoughtfully
A few well-placed props such as cutlery, napkins, glassware, or flowers can help set the scene for your dish. This might be particularly important if you’re photographing food for a business such as a restaurant or catering business. For example, a rustic, wooden chopping board will give a different look and feel to an image than a pristine white serving plate. Props can also add splashes of color and depth to your image. Be careful not to have too much clutter detracting from the main event.
Pay Attention to Plating
Is your dish a morsel of delicious finger food or part of a sit-down meal? Picnic or lunch on the go? The style of plating will depend on the dish itself, the individual ingredients, and the atmosphere you’re trying to create. A simple summer salad will benefit from a more natural, organic style, whereas a formal dinner party dish may require a little more precision placement. You’ll also want to brush away any loose crumbs and wipe away any smears or drips or anything that dribbles into the plate’s negative space.
Start by browsing a range of cookbooks to see how others style and arrange certain dishes or types of food.
How to Photograph … the Moon
Since the dawn of time, we’ve looked to the night skies and wondered at the moon. Here are a few tips to help you capture that sense of wonder in a beautiful photograph.
Travel for Clear Skies
Cloud, light pollution, and smog can all distort your images. Shooting from a remote, elevated location will give you the best chance of getting a clear image of the moon.
Wait for the Right Time
The best time to photograph the moon is twilight when it is close to the horizon and the last strands of daylight will accentuate small details. This is also when the moon will be rising above the horizon, allowing you to frame it with other elements such as buildings, mountains, trees, or clouds.
Keep a Steady Hand
Even the slightest movement or vibration can blur and distort your images, so use a sturdy, stable tripod that can support your equipment.
Use a Long Lens
The ideal lens would be 400-500mm, but to capture details of the moon’s surface in your photographs, you’ll need at least a 200mm lens.
Use a Range of Exposure Settings
A bright full moon against a jet-black sky will throw your auto-exposure settings off. To ensure you get the best image possible, try taking multiple photographs at different exposures that can then be combined and edited in post-processing. You’ll want to fill the frame with the moon and shoot a few stops over-exposed and a few stops under-exposed to ensure you don’t blow out your highlights. Most landscapes that feature a clear, detailed moon were shot for the moon, then shot for the landscape and then combined.
How to Photograph … Artwork
Whether you’re photographing your own work for a professional portfolio or want to capture a piece of art that’s made an impression, stick to these tips to make your photo a piece of art in its own right.
Fill the Frame
Where possible fill the entire frame with your artwork. If your image does have a background, keep it plain and neutral to avoid distracting from the piece of art itself.
Fine Tune Your Lighting
Use indirect natural lighting to avoid deep shadowing. Diffused, natural daylight works best, but natural light fluorescent bulbs can also work. Remember to place your light sources at an angle to your artwork. Watch out for reflective surfaces where a flash can wash out details. You might have to do a longer exposure with a lower light source to avoid unhelpful reflections.
Take Detail Images
Some close-up photographs of your artwork will help showcase your skills and highlight the small details you don’t want viewers to miss.
Align Your Camera
Whether your artwork is hung on a wall or propped up on a table, always align your camera accordingly. If it is standing at a slight tilt, tilt your camera to match. This alignment will help minimize distortion of your artwork in your final photograph. Make sure the edges of your artwork are perfectly parallel to the edges of the frame of the photo or angled intentionally. Verticals and horizontals need to be aligned to prevent distortion.
How to Photograph … The Milky Way
When it comes to breathtaking images, you can’t get much better than the Milky Way. It’s on the bucket list of many photographers, both professional and amateur. These tips can help you capture the edge of our very own galaxy.
Find the Right Sky
Obviously, you will be shooting at night but the conditions need to be just right. You’ll need a clear sky, unobscured by cloud, light or air pollution. This will normally mean scanning multiple weather reports and traveling to remote, elevated locations. In addition, avoid shooting when there is a full moon, as the bright light it emits will have the same effect as a lit up city skyline.
Use a Wide-Angle Lens
The Milky Way fills the night sky, so the wider your lens, the more of it you will capture.
Use a Long Shutter Speed
Along with your wide-angle lens, a long shutter speed will help you capture enough light for a suitable exposure. However, watch out for the potential star trails and slight blurriness that will come with photographing the night sky in this way. Objects in the sky aren’t static and a long shutter speed will pick up on this. Look up the recommended exposure time for your camera’s sensor and the focal length of your lens. You will also need some trial and error to get the timing right.
Use the Foreground
Frame your subject with more familiar earthly elements in the foreground to provide a true sense of scale.
Which photographs are on your bucket list? Do you have any top tips for making images of your favorite photography subject? Share them in the comments below!
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