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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A Good Photographer Needs to be Quick

CAN60.workshop.lens2There are a lot of skills that you need to possess to succeed as a photographer. To begin with, you need to have a sharp eye. You need to know exactly what subjects are worthy of being shot. You also need to be creative. There are simple subjects that can look a lot better with the right angle and perfect timing. Most of all, you need to act quickly. There are moments that happen so fast and you can’t afford to miss out on them simply because you did not move immediately. Therefore, if you want to succeed as a photographer, you have to throw all your reservations out of the window and just move as fast as you can. Timing is everything. If you capture the right subject at the right time, then you are expected to get something amazing.

Factors hindering your movement

In as much as you want to move quickly, there are factors that could possibly stop you. For instance, you are taking photo in the middle of a crowd. It will definitely be difficult for you take great photos or follow a moving subject since you have to consider everyone else on the way. You want to be quick, but you don’t want to be rude.

Another factor is the number of photographers taking photos with you. For instance, you are covering an important event. You can expect many other photographers to be there too. If you don’t move quickly, it is possible for them to take better photo than yours. Take note that you are releasing these photos at the same time. If yours is of worse quality, then people will patronize the others more. This could eventually hurt your career as a photographer.

Finally, you might be limited if you are not physically fit. When you are sick or you have injuries, you will most likely not get the right subjects. The same thing is true if you feel itchy or uncomfortable. Instead of running to catch your subject, you stop for a while to deal with the itch. For female photographers, this is so true when you are suffering from vaginal yeast infection. Take note that this might seem like an ordinary problem, but it can really hinder your movement. This is easily cured with simple medications. However, you might have to sit out from your photography job first since it is really irritating. Click here if you need more information about yeast infection.

Preparing for the job

In order to be the best photographer ever, you need to be fully prepared for the job. Make sure that all the items you needed are prepared beforehand. You must also wear the right outfit for faster movement. Most of all, you need to consult your doctor for your physical limitations. You need the advice of your physician if there are things that limit your movements so that taking photos will be a lot more enjoyable for you. When you are totally fit to take on the challenge, then it will be a lot easier for you.

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Surf Photography Tips

Obviously I love photography and nature. But usually, the shots I take are of static landscapes with the only moving parts being trees in the wind or slowly traveling clouds. Surf and surfer photography are another matter. I do some paddle boarding myself with an inflatable (no need for a surfboard rack for the car! www.shakasurfer.com/surfboard-racks), but am by no means a pro, but having some appreciation for what is takes gives me an insider’s knowledge that helps when anticipating what the surfer will do next — something that is key in getting a stunning shot. Here are a few other tips for you aspiring surf photographers out there.

Equipment

Unfortunately if you want to take the best surf shots you will need some expensive gear. A fast (shoots many frames per second) single lens reflex (SLR) with a 500 or 600mm lens is ideal. Most photographers end up getting a monopod as well — it’s not easy manipulating a ten-pound camera the way photographers need to for hours on end. Personally, some of my best shots have come on rainy, stormy days when the surf is high and the hard-core surfers are out. I’ve achieved some incredibly moody and powerful shots on such days but you need a good rain cover for your setup if you try “bad” weather shooting.

Positioning

Shooting a good set of photos at any given beach will require creativity. Part of that will be finding different positions on the beach. Try close to the water line, far from the water line, from a pier, from a cliff, etcetera. You’ll need to familiarize yourself with the different kinds of breaks as well. Shooting surfers on a point break requires different positioning and strategy than does shooting beach break.

Time of Day

As all photographers know early and late in the day are the best times for almost any kind of photography. It is the same for surf and surfers. If it is a sunny day at the beach the heat can be relentless. Scheduling both surfing and photography when the sun is lower in the sky gives you a break from the heat and makes sunburn less likely. Of course try to position yourself so that the sun is at your back unless you are getting particularly creative. Check the weather too. If you go when the surf is small you may not find any surfers (though there will be paddle boarders out) and if there are a few out you’re not likely to get spectacular images.

Step Back

Finally, step back from time to time. Put a smaller lens on your camera and get a wider shot. Look for things that will look good in the foreground. Angles and perspectives that may not have worked for long shots will work much better with a 50mm lens. Get some beach shots. Who else is around? What are surfers doing when they’re resting? What’s the social scene like?
Surf photography is a more fast-paced and challenging in different ways than is regular landscape photography. Personally, I love the change of pace it provides and how it informs my other types of photography.

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Energy Boost Rituals Before Your Usual Photowalk

It can be very fun to just pick a subject from the streets or along anywhere you walk to. You can get to freeze that moment of children laughing, old women doing stretching exercises, dogs playing around the park, cars on the busy streets, tall skyscrapers, the simple life in the rural, rice patties, farmers harvesting crops and dozens more of photo-ops to choose from. You will be able to capture all those interesting stories most especially if you have the proper skills set and the gears to do so.

Lots of photographers and photography enthusiasts start off with photowalks, just shooting randomly at so many subjects available. This can even be a great way for you to learn a bit more techniques in taking pictures because more often than not, the subjects in photowalks are always on the move. This could also improve your skills in telling a story through your pictures because you don’t need scripts for your pictures; you just follow the natural flow and just preserve that through snapping some shots.

It’s definitely a must to try this activity every once in a while. It could take a lot of your energy especially if you’re walking under the heat with not much heat protection, but you can always do lots of things to perk yourself up.

Hydrate yourself as needed

Drinking a good amount of water before, during and after your photo walk is quite important. Studies show that people who are dehydrated tend to tire faster than those who aren’t. If you can, try to stay away from energy drinks. These would just give you sugar induced energy boosts.  You might always hear about drinking 7-8 glasses a day to stay hydrated, but you could always go more than that once you feel your lips and throat drying up.

Go for green tea

It could really surprise you how much your energy level and focus would improve if you make it a habit of drinking green tea. While it contains caffeine, this has lower levels than coffee so it doesn’t give you that sluggish effect after you drink it. It does kick in slower than coffee so you have to drink it at least 90 minutes before your photowalk.

Head to the showers for some rejuvenating bath

Nothing beats a good old bath to freshen yourself up. Taking a bath or a shower would really do you well. Just imagine those cold droplets of water from your shower falling down on your head down to your toes. It is so invigorating in so many ways. It’s the best way to rid yourself of all the stress you’re feeling. You can even improve your shower experience if you have a good shower head. You can just purchase the best shower heads available if you are already familiar with their differences or if you aren’t sure about which shower heads to buy, you can find shower head reviews to help you make a decision.

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Top 5 Internet Marketing Tips For Photographers

This article was written with the help of Jared Lee who is digital marketing expert. He is a Tulsa SEO expert and also runs Vibranium SEO which is a Springfield, MO SEO Agency.

In 2015, we are in the middle of advancing technological like we have never seen, so professional photographers have to identify and communicate with potential consumers any way they can electronically. Advertising terms like “SEO,” “website design” as well as “social networks” can often become mundane and become frustrating, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that they do work when utilized correctly.

If you find yourself lost in your advertising efforts then this list may just be what you need.

  1. Make or Have a Great Looking Website

  2. There is no easier way to showcase your talents as a photographer than to have a website that displays your work and also helps you attract and retain clients. It is also easier than ever to get a website created as you can either have one created specifically for you or you can do it yourself and there are a bevy of options out there that make this easy. Before you do anything carve out your own corner of the internet as your home base.

  3. Be Present Online

  4. One of the best ways to grow your customer base is to get your website to show up higher in the search engines. You’ve probably heard it a thousand times but ranking high in the search engines can grow your business and get you the exposure that before the internet was much more difficult to get. Getting there can be a bit of a challenge so I would advise you work with a reputable SEO agency that can get you where you want to go.

  5. Sell Your Work Online

  6. Make it very easy for your viewers to acquire your photos straight from your website. Many platforms like Wix and WordPress allow your customers to buy your products straight from your website making use of PayPal. There are many photographers who make a great living by selling their work online and they gather a following by doing so.

  7. Sign Up With an Online Gallery

  8. Merely due to the fact that the current economic climate is slow-moving does not indicate that there is no market for your work. There are lots of specialist online galleries where you could present your photos as well as be motivated by the pictures of others as well. Signing up with an online gallery also makes it very easy to work together with various other digital photographers which you may not have been something you didn’t know you could do and can take your business to another level.

  9. Stay Focused on ROI

  10. For every dollar that you invest in digital marketing to grow your brand, keep in mind the ordinary return on internet marketing is $10-$15 for every $1 you spend. You can contrast this to a $3-$4 return on standard marketing methods. If you aren’t seeing these types of returns then you need to perhaps get with an expert that can help guide you in the right direction or at least try something new.

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Traveling to Find the Perfect Photographic Subjects

travel-photoThere are a lot of advantages when traveling to take various subjects for photography. If you wish to break free from your usual subjects, it is in your best interest to travel and explore the world. There are a lot of traveling photographers out there who are still surprised with every subject they have even if they have traveled various locations already. If you wish to travel and take great photos, there are a few things that you need to remember.

Pack everything you need

This is very essential. You cannot go to another place and come back just because you forgot to bring something. If possible, bring backup equipment as well. You might need three batteries just in case one dies out and you have no place to charge. Take along a travel wallet like this one for any important papers. You can also bring a portable battery if needed. You must also have a hard drive that can store more files just in case you have no time to check what needs to be saved and what needs to be deleted. For your personal items, you need to bring just what you need. You also need appropriate clothing for the type of weather in the country you are heading to.

Research the location in advance

It helps a lot if you know exactly what to expect when you visit a particular place. If possible, read all the important details and areas that are not heavily visited. They might be the best places for you to take photos. You should also know how to get there and what mode of transportation to use. If you can get a local guide to help you out, it will be easier for you to move around. You might even get short cuts. This helps a lot especially if you have to beat other people who are also heading to that area.

Start early

If you want to capture the best images, you have to start early. The effects on the photos during dawn are really amazing. When you start early, you can also take more photos and even have some time to rest along the way. You can also beat the traffic since everyone else is still sleeping. It is important to spend a longer time when you are in a place that is quite far since you might not come back to the place again. You need to take all the photos you needed.

Seek for recommendations

When you have friends or fellow photographers who have already visited a specific location before, you can ask help from them. They will tell you which places are perfect for your next photographic subject. They might even give you some tips that you won’t know by just reading. You can also ask local residents and they might lead you to areas that are amazing in photos. You can also visit local bookstores to check post stamps and other images available. This will give you the best ideas too.

Are you excited for this trip now? Make sure you don’t forget anything and you will soon be home with the best photos possible.

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The Joys of Travel Portrait Photography

I find that photographing people is always a great joy.

And when you are able to capture the expressions of people living a different kind of life in a different kind of culture… that is something very special.

Of course there are plenty of opportunities to capture images of people at home and make good money in the process. Maternity photography, personal portraits, model shots, senior pictures… Plus the many other ways to make a living capture great photos of people.

While these methods are both enriching and lucrative you are still capturing images of people in your own culture, people who mostly live the same lifestyle as you do.

But when you are abroad with your camera, especially in more remote areas of the world, you find that your lens reflects back a different kind of personality. One that is both different but familiar, interesting and perplexing.

If you are from the West like many of our readers are you will also encounter extreme poverty and people who lead a lifestyle of serious hardships and experience life and death situations, day after day.

When I was traveling Bangladesh with my camera two years ago I visited an orphanage that was both low on supplies (including food) and dealing with an infestation of a parasitic skin mite called scabies.

The children were clearly suffering. But I decided to take photos of the them and the staff regardless. I usually like to get close to my subjects when I am shooting their portraits, but I could not get close to these children as the skin condition they were dealing with is highly contagious. So I decided to take out my 135mm lens instead of my usual 50mm.

I spent an hour or so photographing these children and I left deeply affected. They were hungry, lonely and dealing with extreme discomfort. But when I looked through my lens they’re smiling faces sent a message of love and hope that you will rarely encounter in your day to day life, even with healthy and successful people.

Two days later when I reviewed and edited the photos I couldn’t help but weep. These children, in my eyes, literally had no reason I could think of to smile at my camera. They were suffering and they had no family to call their own.

But here were there expressions on my screen, still beaming back at me.

Those kids that day showed me that our outside circumstances do not have to dictate our peace of mind. I’m sure that the smiles they gave me were not there all the time. They lived seriously difficult lives. But the fact that they were able to smile for me, a total unknown stranger, for no reason other than to smile because they wanted to really affected me.

I haven’t been on the road taking photos of people since that last trip to Asia. But I have been shooting people back home in Washington off and on for the two years since that trip. In these two years I have never encountered a situation like that trip to the orphanage in Bangladesh. And I haven’t had any photos hit me so deeply, either.

I am planning a trip to India this fall and I encourage any photographer young or old to consider getting out of their culture, and out of their comfort zone, sometime soon too.

You never know how much someone might affect you.

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How to Make Your Subject Relaxed in Portrait Photography Setting

Arguably the most important factor when taking portraits of people is the quality of their expression.

Of course it is important to nail focus, composition, color and camera settings too. But if your subject looks uncomfortable or out of their element then your photo won’t shine.

In this article we will look at some important considerations that you should organize for and plan around when working with a model in a portrait photography setting.

Your Subject Should be Mentally and Physically Relaxed

It’s not just how your subjects face looks. Their body language matters a lot too.

If you really want your portrait photos to shine you’ll need to support both your subjects mental relaxation and comfort levels while also making sure that their body doesn’t get into any unnatural positions.

Unless you exclusively take pictures of seasoned models then some of the people you photograph won’t always know how to situate their body during the shoot. Often times people will contort into all kinds of positions that they wouldn’t usually end up in when they are posing for photos.

It is up to you as the photographer to gently guide your subject into natural more poses when this happens.

A great way to get comfortable doing this is to study some common portrait poses. Start by guiding your subject into easy, relaxed poses before trying more complex ones.

Maintain Constant Communication with Your Subject

Always be willing keep your subject involved and engaged when you are taking their photos.

While many models are comfortable posing in silence, others are not. You never want to be just a silent camera clicking away with a person behind it when your subject is inexperienced or uncomfortable.

Keep talking to them. Be quick to give gentle direction, reassurance and feedback.

Keep a Lighthearted Environment with Music and Scent

Many people who get their portrait taken are not comfortable because they feel like they are in an alien situation.

If your subject matter isn’t at ease then they will end up looking fidgety or like a deer in headlights.

A great tip I learned years ago was to ask your subject before the shoot what their favorite music and smells are.

After I get an answer I will set up our shoot with speakers playing some of their favorite music and incense burning. Or if they prefer natural aromatic smells I’ll whip out an aromatherapy kit and make sure pleasant smells are filling our shooting space.

I was once shooting for a public awareness campaign at a local orphanage. My subject was a girl who had been staying at the orphanage for a few months. She was incredibly shy and I was unable to shoot her in a comfortable manner the first day I was visiting.

At the end of the day I asked her caregiver if she knew anything that helped relax her. The caregiver told me that the girl seemed her best and was able to fall asleep at night quickest when she had lavender essential oil rubbed on her chest.

The next day I brought my essential oil diffuser and some lavender oil to diffuse while we tried taking photos again. This difference was night and day. The girl was far more relaxed during our shoot and I came out with the best photos of the campaign.

Out of curiousity I asked the girl why she was so fond of the smell of lavender. She said that before she had lived at the orphanage she’d stayed with her grandparents and her grandmother would run lavender on her legs and arms to help soothe and heal her bumps and bruises.

Conclusion

It’s the little details like these that can make or break a portrait shoot. The more detail oriented you become the better luck you’ll have at getting great photos.

Do you have any tips or tricks that you know to help ease your portrait subjects?

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How To Do A Product Photoshoot

Recently, I was approached by a company about doing a product photoshoot, as they were launching a new line of weightlifting wrist wraps (you can see them here if you’re interested) and needed some high quality photos. I had never done anything like this before so I was a little hesitant. I reached out to some friends that had done these and they assured me that it’s nothing that I couldn’t handle. I agreed to do it and I must say I was really surprised at not only how great the pictures turned out, but just how much fun it actually was to do the shoot.

It was so much fun, in fact, that I have begun to do more of these. The clients I did the first shoot for spread the word and loved the photos. So after I’ve pulled off a few successful shoots, I figure I’ll share my knowledge and experience I have learned while doing these in hopes that it will help some other photographers out there.

What Do They Want

The first thing you need to do is figure out what the client is wanting from the photos. Have them show you examples of other photos that they like so you can get a good idea of what it is they are looking for. This is important because doing a photoshoot where you are just taking some pictures of a product up close are completely different from taking pictures of people while they are actually using the product. The last thing you want to do is show up on shoot day and not have the right equipment because you weren’t clear about what they were wanting.

Set Up A Great Environment

This can either be really simple or it can be a bit of an undertaking depending on what the client is wanting. For the wrist wraps shoot, they wanted some close-up shots of the product and then they wanted some shots of them actually being used in a gym atmosphere. To do it the right way, I decided it would be best to break the shoot up into 2 days. The 1st day was the close up shots of the product, which wasn’t that difficult to set up. In fact, if you have ever done portrait shots, then it’s the exact same principles just on a smaller scale. The 2nd day was shooting in a gym and I decided to give this a full day because you never know how hard it’ll be to get the lighting right. I didn’t want to rush things and come away with bad pictures. Use your discretion about how to setup the shoot to get the best results.

Take The Same Picture Multiple Times

I learned this from my days when I used to do a lot of portrait shoots and that is to take the same shot with different lenses and lighting. This ensures that you can get the best possible shot and gives your client options to see just what they like the best. You don’t have to go crazy with this. In the wrist wrap shoot, I took 3 different pictures of the product most of the time. I’m glad I did this, as there were times when what I thought would be a great shot didn’t turn out as great as some others. It pays to put in the extra little details that will blow your clients away. I put in the extra effort because I had never done a product shoot before. I wanted to be sure they felt like they got what they wanted and it payed off. I’m getting some more work now in this area.

If you do one of these shoots, just cover all your bases and remember that you want to give the client the shots that they want, not necessarily the shots that you think they should use. You can take some shots that you think will work well and present it to them along with the ones they want as a precaution. Just remember to under promise and over deliver and you will be golden in whatever it is you do.

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Producing Professional Website Images For Landscaping and Building Exterior Cleaning Industry

A few weeks back a good friend asked me to help him with some images for his website in the landscaping and pressure washing niche. I obliged, as any good friend would. In this post I’d like to tell you what I learned about taking pictures of pressure washers in action and give you some tips how to photograph different surfaces like concrete and vinyl. Basically as part of the business he has created a buying guide how to choose which pressure washer people should get based on their needs. And he wanted to get some unique photographs of the machines in action to put in the guide.

Techniques For Action Shots

If you’ve visited this website before you would know I am mostly into shots of scenery like mountains and rivers. It is a much different skill taking shots of people and machines that are 10 feet in front of you. The first thing I did was schedule the shoot for 11am. This made sure that we had lots sunlight to get the images we needed. Sunlight is important because we wouldn’t be using any lights as this was a very low budget production. So on the day he brought out the Generac pressure washer with adjustable pressure and he wanted me to take a variety of photos of him pressure washing different surfaces around the home – driveway, patio, fence and house siding.

For the driveway pictures I took aim at the action of pressure washing instead of him. This is a technique I learned from photography school. You should always focus on the action instead of the person performing the action for website pictures. So I got about 100 different pictures over the 1 hour he was pressure washing the surfaces. Now that the surfaces were partially cleaned he wanted me to take shots of the surfaces to show before/after style shots on a page on his site.

How To Take Pictures of Concrete, Wood and Vinyl Siding

To take pictures of these surfaces is no different than taking a picture of grass. The hard part is finding the right angle to get the best lighting. Do you go directly over it? Do you point at almost parallel to the surface? What I found was a 45 degree angle from the surface worked best to capture perfect lighting to show how much cleaner the clean part of the surface was.

When it came to the vinyl siding it got more difficult to capture the contrast between clean and dirty the closer I got. I was forced to back up 15 feet to get the proper contrast and lighting. I think this was due to the shininess of the surface reflecting the 1pm sunlight into the lens causing a glare.

Editing For The Internet

I’m like most other photographers in that I use Photoshop for all my editing. When doing the editing I had to be mindful that these images were going on a website and not into a magazine or book. The difference is that it needs to be compressed so that it will load fast. Also since most people are often viewing on a mobile phone these days the size of the image needs to be adjusted accordingly. I did all this in 2 hours in Photoshop and my friend had the best 20 images to use for his website. At the moment the pictures aren’t live but I’ll let you know when they do go live.

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5 Tips for Wildlife Photography

There is nothing quite like the beauty of a great wildlife photo, and any photographer interested in nature will most likely want to try their hand at wildlife photography at some point.

Wildlife photography is not without its challenges, however. Animals can be constantly in motion or uncooperative, but there are a few tips that can help you get the most of your wildlife photography experience:

Use The Light
The best hours of light for shooting wildlife photography are early in the morning (get up early and be ready for the sunrise), and later in the afternoon to take advantage of the last hours of light. The midday light can be particularly harsh and lessen the impact of your images, although an overcast day is an exception to the rule and can provide hours of optimum shooting.

Proximity
Shooting your subjects from a distance with a longer lens will lessen the likelihood of you spooking an animal and ruining the shot. Birds are often best photographed from a distance because they can be disturbed more easily. Using a lens with a focal length of 1500mm or more is generally a good place to start.

Shooting at a wider angle can be provide a powerful image because it can better show the subject in the environment in which it lives. Shooting closer is the flip side of shooting wider and produces its own unique result.

Positioning
No matter what vantage point you’re shooting from – whether it’s in a boat or in a jeep in the safari – you always want to make sure you’re in the best position. Position yourself so that your subject is facing you, but don’t use artificial means to attract the animal’s attention. This can scare the animal away, while waiting for the animal to turn towards you, or exhibit a certain natural behavior, will produce a more natural a rewarding shot.

Practice
It sounds obvious, but the old adage of ‘practice, practice, practice,’ applies to wildlife photography as it does to most anything else that requires developing a certain skill. That said, you can practice closer to home before heading to the wild, whether it’s shooting dogs at a local park, birds flying at a nearby lake or the pesky ones on your balcony, or horse racing at the track (or in a jumping competition). All of these can help you get comfortable with your camera setting and being ready when that right moment in the wild presents itself.

Patience
Finally, you’ll need all the patience you can muster while shooting wildlife photography, for a variety of reasons. Foremost is the fact that animals in the wild can be anything but predictable. Getting to thoroughly know your subjects and their movements and habits is essential, and requires plenty of patience.

Your own hasty movements can scare your subject away, so you’ll need to move slowly or wait for your subject to come to you. Just know that the shot you’re looking for doesn’t always come while you’re in what you believe is the best location.

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The Benefits Of Entering A Photography Competition

It’s not always easy to get your photographs out into the wider world. While you may take stunning photographs, it’s not quite so simply getting them into the public eye. A great way of getting your work out there and increasing your visibility is to enter photography competitions. There are some amazing competitions out there, for all different types of photography, so you can be sure to find something that fits your style.

Why Enter a Photography Competition?

While using online platforms such as Flickr and Facebook are a great way of showcasing your work to your peers, it doesn’t quite carry the same weight of having your pictures judged by professionals. Entering a photography competition can be a greatly satisfying experience and helps you to really push yourself to capture award winning photographs.

Not only does it give you the opportunity to get you work out in front of the experts, but it can also lead to the kind of exposure people tend to dream about. So many people will view your photographs and this can be a hugely rewarding for any photographer. Let’s not forget about the fantastic prizes you can win.

Depending on the competition, you can win anything from cash prizes, to gift cards, photography equipment and even master classes with the professionals. Imagine winning your very own exhibition space! These are the kinds of prizes and opportunities that can lead to greater exposure and better photographs down the line.

A Great Experience At Every Age

We recently had a young photographer write us about her experience of entering an under 18’s competition all the way in Newcastle. Here is what she had to say:

“I love photography and this year had an amazing chance to take part in a photography competition in Jesmond. I entered the ‘Wildlife in Jesmond Dene’ category for those aged 12 to 18 years old. With a grand prize of £60, I thought this was an opportunity I couldn’t miss.

My mother took me to stay at a boutique hotel in Jesmond overlooking the park so I was able to go out and take pictures as soon as I got up in the morning. I was able to get some really great shots of some of the birds and squirrels in the park and it was such a fun experience. While I didn’t win, I would recommend this to anyone no matter what age as it is a great way to challenge yourself and meet people in the photography world.”

How Can I Enter One?

There are great websites out there that list all the competitions currently being held, including information on the kind of prizes up for grabs. Some even provide you with photo contest tips so you can really help to improve your chances of winning. It’s about more than just taking a great photograph; it’s about really understanding what the judges in each competition are looking for.

Competitions have all sorts of different categories, from wildlife, to landscape, food and music. There is a little something out there for everyone, so play up to your strengths and interests and find the competition that suits you. You never know, you may just win yourself an excellent prize.

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Top 5 Puppy Photography Tips

There are few images as captivating and precious as the ones taken of puppies. Puppies are by nature precocious animals that touch the hearts of everyone in their presence and when the right photograph of them is taken.

However, as with children puppies are still in the learning stages and will have naturally short attention spans and will not respond like adult dogs to the camera. So, you will have to employ a series of tips and tricks in order to capture that perfect, precious moment that only a puppy can deliver for your photograph.

What follows are five top photography tips that will help you get the most out of your session with puppies. Before you start taking photographs, it is important to have the right setting that is safe and protected because puppies are vulnerable to catching illnesses. This also means that anything chewable needs to be safe as well or at least kept away from the puppy like your camera gear.

Let the Moment Happen

Perhaps the most important piece of advice is that you should not try to force a great photograph or attempt to create the perfect pose or look for the puppy. You’ll only get frustrated which will make the session even less productive. Instead, you should try to create a fun, happy atmosphere that keeps the puppies happy and entertained.

Wear them Out

A puppy is a bundle of energy that is raring to go. So, before you start the photo session, play with them so they can expend that energy. While they will still have plenty left, it will take the edge off of the puppies and slow them down just enough to get better photographs. Make sure you reward the puppy with some delicious puppy food after the session. You’ll still need to use a fast shutter speed and plenty of light to capture the right photograph.

Go to Their Level

Like all dogs, puppies tend to focus on the ground instead of looking up. So, you can get better photographs if you get down more to their level. This will mean being on your knees or even in a prone position to get the right shot. However, this will pay off as you will see more of their faces which make for the best photographs.

Be Gentle with Timid Puppies

Not all puppies are open and playful as many will actually be scared of being in new surroundings. So, start off with having the timid pups playing with their owners so that they can relax. In fact, you might be able to capture the perfect photo by backing off and using a telephoto lens. By keeping your distance at least at first, you can help bring out a timid pup’s playful side.

Go Where the Puppy Takes You

By letting the puppy explore and play, you can follow them and get some pretty amazing photographs. You will want to contain the pup to certain areas, but for the most part letting them lead will help relax them so that they are more playful and provide you with the perfect photograph.
By following these tips, you can get the most out of your photo session with puppies and in turn increase your chances of getting that perfect photograph.

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Rice Terrace Photography in China

I am a rice-lover and even have a really nice high-end rice cooker, so I’ve always wanted to photograph the stunning terraced fields you find in some Chinese locales. While Californian rice fields are generally uninteresting wide, flat expanses in China there are some hilly and mountainous areas where by necessity fields must be created on hillsides. Since rice can only be grown on level land (rice fields must be flooded and water runs away on a slope) steps had to be carved out of the hills so that flat areas could be created. These flat areas are generally evenly spaced vertically so that it naturally becomes easy to see the contour of the land in a way that it difficult with only light and shadow. It is like a contour map has been superimposed on the landscape. So today I thought I’d share a few tips on choosing locations to photograph terraced rice fields in China. In particular the Longsheng rice terraces.

Xishan Shaoyue 西山韶乐 – Our first spot is Xishan Shaoyue. It is the most popular place for rice terrace photography in Longsheng and for good reason. There are three separate sites all visible and easily accessed from Xishan Shaoyue and most of the really stunning photos are taken in this area. As is usual, best times for captures are in the morning and evening.

Qianceng Tianti 千层梯田 (Thousands Layers Fields in English) – Qianceng Tianti is not nearly as picturesque as Xishan Shaoyue and has only one site rather than three. To get memorable shots here you will need good timing, patience and persistence. Perhaps a misty day where clouds give more relief and depth to the scene?

Jinfoding 金佛顶 (Golden Buddhist Summit in English) – This site is further afield and as such is less frequented. If you want to be the only photographer on site this is the location for you. Travel lightly here, though, as it can be a long walk for the out-of-shape. Hiking time is between one hour and two hours depending on your pace, so take some food and your usual short hiking gear including survival knife and compass . Due to sun position this location is best shot in the evening.

Best Times For Shooting

From mid-May to early June: the rice terraces are full of water and the reflections will make for some interesting effects. Workers begin transplanting after the first week of June for about one week, so there will be people on the terraces making it easier for viewers of your photos to judge scale, and adding human interest.

Early October: At this time the rice is ready for harvest: the terraces look like soft swaths of gold.

On snowy winter days: If you are there in winter you will get some unique shots if you are lucky enough to be there on one of the few snowy days. But, if there is no snow, winter is a pretty uninteresting time on the rice paddies – there’s no water in the fields and everything is a dull brown.

From July to early August: Fresh rice shoots are coming up at this time – think vibrant green steps.

Enjoy, and good luck getting that award-winning shot!

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