Things to consider before going out looking for great landscapes

After choosing the destination you want to travel, one good tip is to gather all the information you can about the locations and landscapes near the place you’ll visit. It’s good to have a good idea of the customs, sites to see, price and exchange food and accommodation, etc. Consult guidebooks, you will find lots of information and great tips. Almost all Cities and States have an official tour guide on the web.

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How to take great pictures in your backyard

You can take a variety of different photos and photo projects in your backyard, depending on what you are photographing, patio landscaping is not the most exiting option but is something you can do right now without leaving your house. With a camera and a good imagination, you have a number of different options to take pictures in your backyard.

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Great places to photograph exotic birds

Wild bird photography can be quite challenging. There are many articles on the Internet that cover everything from how to setup the camera to how to take the perfect shot when the birds are flying, they share a lot of details but they don’t have much information for an amateur bird photographer. After many experiences photographing birds, I decided to write this guide and include the best recommendations and places to take beautiful pictures.

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Shooting Interior and Exterior Pictures of Houses

As a freelance photographer I end up doing a lot of interesting shoots, and although I have been doing this for some time I still end up learning a lot during some of my shoots. A recent niche that I found which might be of interest to other photographers looking at expanding their portfolio is doing photo shoots for property rental companies. Most of the images you see online are not of a good quality, and property agencies end up leaving money on the table by not showing potential clients the true aspects of the property they are trying to rent.

As they say “first impressions are important” and if the image the client sees is not of good quality, they might click over to the next option.

Shooting houses for rent by any property management company in Fresno CA is just about the best bread and butter job you can land. You know there will always be work as units are vacated and updated the companies need recent pics for their websites and online listings. What trips up a lot of pros is not knowing how to manage the light schedule, and knowing what is going to be the right shot that will turn a one-time request into ongoing traffic. I recently had to shoot some property that local house owners were going to list with a management company I am on retainer for and I thought it would be a good idea to walk you through how I put it all together.

Building the schedule around the light

The first thing I always do is locate the property on a map and look at what the lighting is going to be like throughout the day. I compare that to my availability schedule and put together options for the times to schedule the shoot. I then offer those times to the manager or owner so we can mesh schedules better. Exterior shots you can usually do on a return trip without any company, the interiors you need access so making sure that you are going when there will be light is essential. It is always easier to schedule a night shoot, and I’ll talk about what to do about that when you are inside too.

Indoor versus outdoor

The first thing you should remind yourself of is nobody rents or buys a home they see in the dark. Forget dramatic exterior options under a full moon. You want a standard high noon day. Avoid shooting the exterior when shadows are cast because the picture will start to create a narrative. You don’t want the picture to create a narrative; you want the agent to create it. When you move indoors high noon can work, but you really want to find out what light the rooms get best and go at that time. Bring your lights to shoot rooms that are shadowed.

What is the most important thing to show?

When I shoot an exterior I think about the narrative. People want to see the front as if you were approaching as a guest. I stay away from driveways but will emphasize gardens and landscaped backyards only if there isn’t a problem with dramatic shadows. You want flat and open, not drama.

How to avoid problems with windows and mirrors

Inside you are going to run into reflective problems with windows and mirrors. This is one of the reasons a “high noon” shoot works better. The general light will reduce the black mirror effect in windows. Alternately, I bring two or three light stands and bounce the light off the ceiling at a point in the middle front of the mirror. This creates an additional cascade of light that will prevent reflection as well.

Contact me if you want to know more about this niche or if you know of a property management company that is looking for a photographer to improve their online portfolio.

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Photography Tips for Shooting Action Sports

Whether you are a professional photographer or just an enthusiastic amateur, sport is an exciting subject for shots. You will never get the same photograph twice and no two photographers will get the same shot even if they are both at the same sporting event. Although it is fun, taking action shots poses several challenges for photographers. To get the best shots, you should try some of the following six tips.

1. Try Something Different

The temptation is to stay rooted to the same spot and to take every shot from the same angle. However, to get a wide variety of pictures and make them more interesting, you should consider changing positions and try shooting from a different angle. Not every photograph needs to be taken from eye-level. Instead, trying getting low on the ground and looking up when taking shots or getting at a higher vantage point to photograph the action from above. This works especially well for some sports, check out The Paintball Professor to see some incredible paintball actions shots of this technique in effect.

2. Capture the Surroundings

Sport is about much more than the players participating in a match. The whole surroundings contribute to the overall spirit of the game. To capture some of this spirit in your shots, you will need to think about the whole scene. Photographs of the crowd cheering or fans queuing to get inside the venue can be just as exciting as the action on the pitch. They will also show your diversity as a photographer in your portfolio.

3. Use ISO

When taking action shots, there may not always be perfect lighting and you may also need to use a higher shutter speed to capture the action. This is where raising ISO can be helpful. In particular, taking shots at night can be difficult if you need a faster F Stop than the lens of your camera is suited for. A solution to this problem is to raise the ISO as this allows your camera to see more light.

4. Keep Equipment Close

Sports photographers often have a lot of equipment. Although this can be a burden to carry around with you, it is essential you keep it all close by so that as soon as you need it you can just reach out and get it. It might seem easier to leave some equipment behind or to store it somewhere safe until you need it, but you miss exciting photo opportunities if you need to keep running backwards and forwards to collect the equipment you need. It is much better just to take it all with you in the first place.

5. Keep Your Eye on the Action

Photographers often have a really bad habit of ‘chimping’. This is when they check the photographs they have just taken on the LED screen on their camera. Don’t do it! You can check all your shots later. While you are looking at the screen, you are taking your eye off the action and potentially missing some of the most exciting points of the game.

6. Avoid Using the Flash

Many venues or events prohibit the use of flash on cameras as it distracts the players. If you are planning on photographing an event and want to use your flash, it is best to speak to the event organizers first to see whether using flash is acceptable. However, using the ISO settings is the perfect solution if you cannot use the flash.

Like all forms of photography, capturing the perfect action shot takes lots of practice and there is often an element of luck involved in getting a great photograph. However, by using these tips, your chances of success in this field are greatly improved.

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The Latest Nikon Cameras For Amateurs

Many friends and readers ask me this one question: What is the best DSLR camera for an amateur and hobby photographer? To me this is always so difficult to answer and I generally hate saying get a Nikon, or get a Canon, or get a Sony. So, I decided to write up a post about some your options and what to look out for.

The first thing I ask people is what type of camera they currently have and if they find it OK to use. Most people are reasonably happy with their consumer cameras and have gotten used to the menus and terminology used. This means that it often makes sense to stick with a brand you know as you will not get confused with different terminology. So, if you have a consumer Nikon, and you are happy, then it makes most sense to get a Nikon DSLR.

Next, you need to think about what you are going to be taking photos of and what features you will need. The two best entry level Nikon cameras are the D3200 and D5200. In the most general situations I recommend people that have a limited budget get the cheaper camera, even second hand, and invest some more money in getting some extra lenses. Lenses give you far more flexibility and creativity than features do.

But these two cameras do have some differences and if budget is not an issue then the 5200 will give you an awful lot of things that would recently only have been found on professional grade cameras. While you may not be an Ansel Adams, you will not outgrow this camera too soon.

One important thing I always point out is that you should not get hooked up on megapixels. Pretty much all DSLRs now have such powerful sensors that you will be able to print and modify at a scale that will be more than enough. Unless you are planning to print billboard size images or modify individual strands of hair a few extra MP will not make you a better photographer.

As already mentioned focus on spending a little bit extra on some lenses that are not the cheapest in their category. I would generally suggest a decent zoom lens and a large aperture or wide angle lens to accompany the standard one in the box. Too many times do I see amateurs trying to get the latest and greatest features before they know how to use the most basic aspects.

Understanding the limits and capabilities of your lenses is incredibly important as they will dictate so many shutter speed, aperture and other settings. Get used to them and try them out in all sorts of conditions to find out their limitations. This will pay off more than fancy in camera features.

Overall you will not go wrong with either the D5200 or D3200 and your budget will probably pay a large part in your decision. Yes the D5200 is better, but I would rather see people spend more on lenses than cameras.

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