Everything you ever wanted to know about photography, but were afraid to ask.

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Sites to help you advance your photography.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Merry Christmas to all my Readers

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New year. Huge thanks for supporting my blog all year, cant wait til next year, loads of cool stuff. So Watch This space.

And now for a little Christmas treat


Saturday, 17 November 2012

First 3 Months as CT Magazine Editor

Well it was way back in the hazy days of summer that the idea of CT or Creative Talent magazine was born, it came about due to my work as a fashion photographer and noticing that not enough new talent is coming into the industry. So I set it my task to change this and hence CT Magazine was born. The only problem I had was how do I publish a magazine, I found a great place to start was agreat E-Book by Ned Burke called How to be an Online Magazine. daft title but this is chock full of publishing goodness.

What you have never heard of CT Magazine

OK firstly if you have never heard of CT Magazine please go and check it out www.ctmagazine.co.uk and please like and share the facebook page www.facebook.com/ctfashionmagazine

Massive Response

As the cogs in my head turned and turned about how to make this happen, I hit upon the idea of a magazine, thus I set about laying out the online magazine using a desktop publishing program, in my case I use Adobe InDesign CS6 , but you can use any program you wish.

I have a slight advantage to this whole process as as well as being a photographer which makes me creative I am also a very techy person, as I work as a Business Analyst, and have been involved for many years building web based applications, so the technical side is pretty straight forward, this meant I knew that my magazine was going to be initially an online magazine, and must work on both desktop PC's as well as tablet computers such as Apples iPad, Amazon Kindle as well as mobiles and smartphones. (this is a hint incase you missed it, your new online magazine should work with all online platforms, and that is the beauty of using www.issuu.com as it converts your pdf to work with all necessary platforms.

Now although I was now in a position to make the magazine layout, and support for my chosen platforms, I had nothing to put into the magazine, and as the whole point of CT Magazine is to promote the amazing hidden talent I did not just want to fill each issue with all my own work. This meant a lot of time contacting people to be in the first issue, I knew that as this was a new magazine, people may not be interesting in being in it.

I kept true to my vision, hit up my contact list, and after a few weeks, I was so pleased that loads of people responded and from every area of fashion, photographer, models, designers, make up artists, stylist and everyone in between.

I am so thankful to these people who were brave enough to be in the first issue, and huge thanks to Nick Danks for being the cover star.

Thanks to these people the first issue got over 30000 readers, and I think the key to this is the viral PDF and CT Magazine

Dont Under-Estimate the Workload

I knew before I started CT Magazine that anything like this would take a lot of work, and I knew that as it grew it would only require more work. So I did not go into the project likely, but I send this warning to people out there, if you wish to start your own magazine, it will take time and work. Don't think it will be an easy ride.

I had first thing I had to do to get anywhere with the magazine, well after designing the layout and finding the right magazine template was to make sure I had content, and although I got a great response I found that alot of my time was actually going through submissions and picking out the best shots for publication, this including making sure models poses were right, make up was what I was after ang photograph worked as I needed. As I kinda made my job a bit harder as each issue has a different theme, so I have to check through for every submission to make sure it fits the theme, then if it doesn't fit the theme I have to decide if it fits a future theme if it does it gets put into that pile for later use.

As you may have guessed with any magazine content is king, and with it you have no magazine, so make sure you can continue to get good content for every issue.

Once I have all the submission together I then check for them editing, and I am lucky enough that a few digital editors are taking part in this whole project, so once I have some selections then are sent on their way for photo editing.

Upon their return its time to lay out the magazine, turn into PDF and send on its way to the world wide publisher in the sky, AKA the internet.

I spent on at least 3-4 hours per day working on magazine things, and nearer publishing time I spend around 10 hours a day before it goes out.

Some Thoughts

One of the things that I love about this CT Magazine thing is that I get to work with people from all over the world, and from all areas of the creative spectrum, and I love being able to help these people get seen in the fashion world. In the process I also get to see what others are doing and it always gives me an idea for future themes of CT Magazine.

The basic items I use to create CT Magazine

Ok I thought I would share some of the things including software I use to make CT Magazine and give you an insight into your first magazine.

  • Amazing creative people - without my fellow photographers, models, make up artists, stylists, designers there would be no magazine - HUGE thanks to everyone.
  • Time - this is the most important thing there is, as I must work at least 10 hours per day on CT Magazine, from talking to people, meeting with people, checking photos, and other stuff.
  • Patience - Remember Rome was not built in a day, so if you want anything to work you must be patience and keep up with it, or it will go no where.
  • Adobe Photoshop - Graphics program used to edit photos, and of course the stable of any fashion photographers software arsenal
  • Adobe InDesign CS6 - Used to layout the magazine and convert into PDF
  • issuu.com - The website that hosts the online version of CT Magazine - Check out the latest issue now
So as you can see there is some work to getting a magazine up and running, but I suggest that you take the plung and go for it. Just be aware that it will mean alot of long days and some very late nights, especially if you deal with people overseas. But I wish you luck if you decide to take the plunge, and please dont forget to check out the CT Magazine website - www.ctmagazine.co.uk

So my first 3 months as the editor in chief of CT magazine has been filled with fun and hard work, and it has been so rewarding, I am seeing work from people who otherwise would not get the chance to shine, which makes me feel great. That is the whole point of CT Magazine "showcasing the hidden talent in fashion". I love my job and I love the people I work with everyday.

So Thank you for everyone so far for being part of this awesome fashion magazine with a difference, and if you want to get involved get in touch.

Friday, 12 October 2012

CT Magazine and Darlington College

As you may have noticed recently one of my current projects is a new magazine publication called CT magazine or Creative Talent Magazine, now I have started a new partnership with Darlington College and I am really excited about it.

What is CT Magazine

CT Magazine is a new magazine which is aimed at showcasing the hidden talents behind the fashion photography that we seen everyday.  The idea for the magazine came about after working on a variety of different shoots for clients and I noticed that although there is always a huge team of people involved in putting together and taking these shots, only a small amount of them ever get credit for their artistic work.

I mean have you every looked at a model in a magazine and thought I would love to work with them, but dont know who they are. Well with CT magazine the idea is to show everyone off to their full potential and give full credit for their work.

So every image published in the magazine is accompanied by full credit, including contact details and in some cases a bit of editorial about them, giving you an insight into their world and how they got where they are today.

To check out CT Magazine please go visit the website www.ctmagazine.co.uk and read the latest issue and find out more about the magazine.

Get Involved

So by now you are probably thinking that a great idea and how do I get involved. The first thing to do is to go and give the FaceBook page a like www.facebook.com/ctfashionmagazine and get in touch either via facebook or email at getinvolved@ctmagazine.co.uk

Darlington College Fashion /  Art & Design Students

As the idea behind CT magazine is to promote the hidden and unknown talent of people in the fashion industry, I thought that it would be a great idea to work with the local college to showcase the excellent work done by the students, and at the same give the students both an idea of what its like to work on a professional brief as well as helping promote their work.

I was asked by Darlinton College to come in and speak to the students about CT Magazine and the possibility of them being involved. So on Thursday I went along to Darlington College and was planning on talking to maybe a couple of students about the whole idea. "drum roll please..."

However, after talking to a senior lecturer I was asked if I would be happy to talk to all the students on the course at once, so in total I was talking to about 50 students at once. This may sound scary but I am more than happy to talk to large groups of people and the response I got was amazing. The students are all really excited about being part of CT Magazine, and although the talk was initially about the magazine, I decided to open the floor to questions and kinda opened the flood gates to all sorts of questions about what I do, and about photography in general. I have to say this was really cool, I really believe in education and think that in this digital world it is way to easy to buy a camera and call yourself a photographer, or buy a software package and call yourself a designer. So passing on advice to students and the true value of what they are doing was amazing.

So after my talk I had a further meeting with the lecturers and they came up with the idea of setting the work for CT Magazine as part of the students course work, and that way they can add it to their portfolios and help them get into uni. This to me is a great idea, as I love the thought of being able to help people get on in life, and showing students just how things work in the real world. Kinda helping them to bridge the gap between theory and practise.

I find this a really good idea as its too easy to learn something and not see it truely applied in a real world context, and get a shock when you get out into the world, but combining CT magazine and Darlington College students allows the magazine to showcase their amazing talents, as well as helping them to gain valuable industry experience they simply would not get anywhere else.

So I have managed to go back to college and come away with some homework, a thing I have not done in quite a few years. But I am so looking forward to working with Darlington College and the amazing students that go there.

If you want some more info on the work of Darlington College please check out their website http://www.darlington.ac.uk/ or follow them on twitter www.twitter.com/darlingtonfe and remember to say that I sent you.

So watch this space for exciting development with both CT magazine and Darlington College...

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

CT Magazine - get involved - get published

So there I was waiting in a meeting for my other side of my life, that of a business strategist and I started reading a magazine. There was a spark of inspiration as the photographer in me noticed that in most of these magazines there is not credit given to all the people involved in making the shots happen.

So I decided to change that and produce CT Magazine - a fashion magazine with a different. The aim of CT Magazine is not only to show you the latest fashion trends, but to showcase the talent behind the photos, everyone from the photographer, model, make up artist to the designer, stylist and studio. Its my goal to show people just how much hard work goes into making fashion photographs and its not all glitze and glamour, although that is part of it.

Where do I find CT Magazine.

You can read the latest issue of CT Magazine right inside facebook just go to the CT Magazine facebook page at www.facebook.com/ctfashionmagazine and click the Read CT Magazine link.

Or if you prefer you can read the latest issue on the CT Magazine website at www.ctmagazine.co.uk

Do you want to get published?

So the aim of CT magazine is to help people show off what they can do. So if you work in the fashion industry as either a photographer, model, make up artist, designer, stylist or anything else, please get in touch. We are always looking to show off what people can do and how much hard work they put in.

You can get in touch with CT magazine by any of the following

 Alternatively check out the website for more details about the magazine and how you can get published in the next issue.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Do you know your High Fashion from your Haute Couture

After being invited to watch the Burberry and the Yves Saint Laurent shows a few weeks back, I got to thinking about High Fashion and Haute Couture. So after searching online for ages and seeing loads of images and photographs posted all claiming to be High Fashion, I thought it was time to give an idea of what these are exactly.

So I thought I would write a blog post about just exactly what is High Fashion and what is Haute Couture.

Haute Couture

Haute Couture is the top end of the fashion tree, and it actually a licensed term in France due to the exclusive nature it. This type of fashion is typically custom made, one of a kind items, typically not off the peg stuff.

So when shooting clothes that are classed a Haute Couture you will normally be dealing direct with top end fashion houses, and shooting one of a kind pieces or one of a kind ranges, typically stuff that has a high price and is by a well known top end brand, such as
Jean Paul Gaultier, Frank Sorbier, Elie Saabwere, Maison Martin Margiela to name but a few.

Simple rule is you cant normally just buy haute couture on the high street.

High Fashion

High Fashion is kinda the next step down on the fashion ladder, and although it does not have the same exclusiveness as Haute Couture, these clothes are still very top end of the labels designs, and can be on occasion one off pieces, such as cat walk styles. Again the designers tend to be high end such as Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Prada and alike, basically not the stuff you will get on the high street, although it is possible to by off the peg high fashion due to the nature of the lines, and the fact they dont tend to be all one off pieces, although some are.

So basically to give you an idea of high fashion clothes, they are not clothes that you pick up in Primark or normally on the high street, they are designers doing what they do best, although you can buy cheaper versions of some designers clothes such as Yves Saint Laurent at some stores, these lines are not the high fashion end of the range.

I hope this makes some sense and gives you an idea of what Haute Couture and High Fashion are, just keep in mind that these two terms have nothing to do with the type of shoot, they have everything to do with the clothes.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Models Bringing Chaperones to Photo Shoots

Ok this is one of those subjects that pop up time and time again, the subject of chaperones, whether that is the model, mua, stylist or photographer bringing someone with them to a photoshoot.
First off I will start by saying as a photographer I don't have any problems with anyone bringing someone with them on the shoot, I would rather have someone happy on the shoot and if that means being having someone with them, thats cool with me.

Now the reason I don't have a problem with this is that on most of my shoots, there are normally a lot of people on set, or if its a location shoot and a public place, of course there will be people around.

I don't have a problem with it because when I am taking photos I am only concerned with what I can see through the camera, and as I am professional and my concentration is on this, people around me aren't a problem and don't effect my photography.

I find it really hard to believe that anyone has a problem with someone else bringing someone with them on a shoot, especially if the shoot is something like lingerie, implied, topless or nude. I mean you have to look out for yourself, and if you are unhappy on a shoot not only will you have a horrible shoot, but your photos will be effected, but it just amazes me that some people throw their toy out of the pram when a model turns up with someone, even more so when they say they will be fine if the escort was female but have a problem if its a man, my question to them is "why do you have a problem?" and "why is it different is someone brings a woman?" my only conclusion is that your are either up to something you shouldn't be or you are not confident in your work to have someone watch you while you do it.

So in closing I will finish with this, if you want to shoot with me and you want to bring someone with you, thats fine with me. I am even happy with it, when someone turns up with a chaperone and I was unaware of them coming to the shoot, as my feelings on this is that, the shoot is about everyone, not just me as the photographer. Every must be happy and feel relaxed on the shoot in order to get the best results.  So a little message to my fellow photographers, keep in mind that your job is to take photos, and if you cant do that with someone watching your in the wrong job or at least the wrong type of photography, remember the shoot is not just about you, its also about anyone else involved models, make up artists, stylists and anyone else.

Without the whole team there can be no shots.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

New Online Fashion Collaboration Project

After getting inspired by the recent Fashion weeks worldwide everywhere from London, Leeds, Newcastle to Milan and Paris. I have decided to launch a fashion project with a bit of a difference.

I read alot of fashion related material and always wonder how the latest cat walk trends will end up on the high street. As we all know that in reality what we see on the catwalk never really gets anywhere near the high street, well not in the shape and style we see on in the shows anyway. So I got to thinking about a new kind of fashion magazine, centred around street style and the art of collaboration.

My plan is to publsh a magazine featuring artists from all over the UK and the world, and unlike most fashion publications every artist featured will get full credit as well as a brief description about them and their work. The magazine will be an online magazine, aimed at showcasing peoples talents, from  photographers, models, make up artists to journalists and beyond with the first edition lauching before christmas 2012 or possibly a bit sooner, but definately during the Autumn / Winter season in terms of fashion.

The magazine will be a full colour publication, with both photos and articles, basically a magazine aimed at showcasing street style, and will give anyone the opportunity to show off what they can do.

How You Can Be Part of This Project

So although in the perfect world I would love to publish a magazine with only my work in it, I know this would make it very boring and one sided. So what I need is any of the following people who are interested in getting work published, in my new magazine.

  1. Photographers
  2. Models
  3. Make Up Artists
  4. Stylists
  5. Fashion Editors
  6. Fashion Journalists.
And basically anyone else connected with the world of fashion or hair and makeup.

So if you are interested in being part of this project please get in touch.

You can Email me at sean.connolly@seanjconnollyphotography.co.uk
FaceBook me at www.facebook.com/seanjconnollyphotography
Tweet me at www.twitter.com/SeanJC

I look forward to hearing from you and look forward to showing off your work.

Thanks for reading

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Burberry Prorsum Spring Summer 2013 Mens Collection

I was lucky enough to be invited to watch the latest lines to come out of Burberry for next Spring Summer season as part of Milan Fashion Week, and have to be honest I was pleasently surprised. In my head I was still picturing the Burberry line as being a very chav driven line with the traditional check pattern on caps. But to my surprise there was not a cap in sight.

Instead there was a whole load of colour and very smart looking lines, suits and formal work wear are very much on the agenda for the Spring Summer 2013 range from Burberry.

This makes me very happy as this in my view is what Burberry are all about, smart clothes and professional people, it was such a shame that there line got taken over by chavs, but it seems they are back on track and very much on target.

Burberry Spring Summer 2013


I was actually taken a back first by the use of bright colours on what would normally be very dull things, suits, formal trousers, jackets etc. But after a while I found them very appealling, nothing better than bringing back the suit by adding a whole load of bright colours to it. When I say bright I mean bright, reds, yellows, blues are as bright as you can imagine.

And in my opinion this works, as the suit in general is on the decline so its nice for Burberry to not only get back to their roots, but to bring their roots bang up to date.

Eye Wear

One of the key features of the new lines is eye wear, and again although they are very traditional looking sun glasses, they are splashed with colours, and bright colours. Almost made me think of kiddy sunglasses for adults. But again it worked.

Bags (no not hand bags)

Another huge thing next season is the continues rise of the bag or man bag as some people call them, I see a bag like this myself being used not on a daily basis, more of a replacement for my briefcase. As you look a bit silly dressed smart - casually but carrying a briefcase, and this is the market and exactly where the bags fit in.

In my view most men will use them just as I do, as a work bag, dont think many men will actually use a bag daily as a woman does her hand bag. Yet again the look of some of the new Burberry bags are on trend, not feminine as you would expect, although some were at bit girly for my tastes. But I am just happy that after all these years these bags are being mass produced, I remember a few years bag I could not find a casual briefcase replacement anywhere, so well done Burberry for bringing them up to date.

Foot wear

Now as you will expect there are some very smart looking shoes in next seasons line up, just the fairly normal work and casual wear. But and here is the bit that I will never get, there are sandals, yes sandals although the bright colours feature on these again. The fact that they are paired with socks just screams old man, just like your grandad would always wear his sandals with socks.

So my advice would be take sandals out of the range, I dont know anyone would would wear sandals with a suit, that is unless you live in a hot country, but even then only at a stretch.

But all in all I really like the new Burberry look, they are going back to the formal style where they started from and lets hope that in doing so the Chav element disappears.

Well done Burberry for a great show, cant wait for the ranges to hit the shops

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Thank you for supporting my Blog

Just thought I would say a Huge thank you to everyone for reading, sharing and commenting on my blog. I always love sharing my knowledge with others and being social in general.

Now on the subject of being social I was thinking my readers must have their own blogs ro being on social media websites so why dont we share with each other our blogs, social network profiles, twitter handles, etc.

So I will start, you know the url of my blog already as this is what you are reading, but here are my other social networking presences.

Twitter - @SeanJC
FaceBook - @SeanJConnollyPhotography

So please follow me on twitter and give me a like on FaceBook. Once you have done that please add your own social network presences and blog links in the comments. After all thats what social media is all about.

And once again thank you for reading and supporting my blog

Monday, 28 May 2012

HDR (High Dynamic Range) - Good or Evil?

Ok as most of my work involves the fashion side of life, I dont really take many HDR shots. But I decided to try out some of a few places just to see if firstly I could get it right and secondly what it would look like. I would highly recommend the Expert Video Guide to help you improve your photography skills

So what is HDR or High Dynamic Range

If you dont know HDR standard for High Dynamic Range, and its a technique that by combining multiple of shots you get to have a broader range of exposure and colours than a single shot. What this means is that you get more details in your shots, as you may have experienced when you take a shot and some of your subject is in the shadows, if you expose for the shadows the rest of the shot is over exposed, if you expose for the rest of the shot the shadows are under exposed and lack detail.
This is where HDR comes it, by combining shots taken at different brackets (or exposures) into a single image you get the best of both world shadows have detail and high lights are not over exposed.

If you look at the two shots below, you can see that the one on the left is exposed for the sky, which has meant that the grass is too dark or under exposed. The shot on the right is exposed for the grass, which means the sky is too bright or over exposed.

Ok so in order to get the perfect shot, we have the option of using filters such as Polarizing or Neutral Density to correct the exposure. OR and this is where HDR come in we can combine the two shots and produce a single perfect image.

Now you can see that the detail in this final HDR shot is way better than either of the two shots above, by making the HDR we have been able to combine both sides of the dynamic range to get a better shot.

"But this shot looks surreal"

One of the problems you can get with HDR is that the end shot doesn't look real, and I personally quite like this look in some shots. I think it adds something. But you don't always have to be so extreme when producing an HDR shot, you can get a result that looks just like a normal shot. Just with more detail.

As you can see the shot above is perfectly exposed across the whole shot, and yet it looks just like a normal photograph.

So is HDR Good or Evil?

So is HDR good or evil? I like the extreme colours thats come with HDR and that surreal feeling it can give an otherwise boring shot particularly of night time shots, yet I love the way it can make a shot look perfect without any bells and whistle, simply correcting the exposure.

If you are still hungry for more take a look at Tony Pages Tool Box for everything you could ever want to make your shots creative.

Monday, 30 April 2012

Being Social with Media

OK so we all use social media just about everyday, whether you are liking something on FaceBook, tweeting something on Twitter, +1'ng something on Google or Pinning something on Pinterest. The question I put to you is how many of you don't use if correctly?

Now I am not going to go into how to promote your stuff online or the best ways to increase your twitter followers or FaceBook likes, but the point of this post is that it has become apparent to me that their is an increasing amount of people who seem to think the point of social media is to just advertise their own stuff.

I am sick and tired of people who post things and expect to get people to share, like or whatever yet on the other hand these people dont share other peoples content, nor do they even go as far as to like other peoples work. I mean for example I work as a fashion and advertising photographer, which means I dont do weddings, so what do I do when someone asks me about doing a wedding. I refer them to someone I know who does do weddings, I intend to stick in my area of photography and not move into areas I dont do.

You will no doubt have seen the types of people I am talking about, you read on their profiles such comments as "friend requests will be ignored" or "if I am interested in working with you I will get in touch". Now dont get me wrong this behaviour comes from people in all areas of life photographers, models and MUA's so what I dont get is that if these people are not wanting to be social, how do they know anyone in the first place to get work.

This post may sound like a bit of a rant, and I guess it is, but then its my blog so I can rant if I want. But in all seriousness here are the GOLDEN rules to being social and winning at social media.

  1. Comment on other peoples work
  2. Like other peoples work and pages
  3. Refer work to your colleagues if its something you dont do
  4. If you really like someones work, share it.

  1. Don't just post your own stuff everywhere
  2. Don't ignore your fans / followers
  3. Don't write such stupid things like "friend requests will be ignored" on your profile, that is unless your a twat.
So I think you get my point, we are all on this world wide web to connect and we are not going to do that by not being social, so go forth my friend and be social.

Dont forget whilst your being social to like my FaceBook page or follow me on Twitter

Friday, 6 April 2012

How to Setup Canon 7D to take HDR shots / Bracketed Exposure

Ok so you have heard the word HDR, Bracketed Exposure and Auto Exposure Bracketing. But what do they mean and how can you use your Canon 7D to take these sorts of shots.
Ok first things first what is HDR, Bracketed Exposure and Auto Exposure Bracketing.

HDR stands for High Dynamic Range, and it is a technique in which you merge several shots together all with a different dynamic range or exposure. HDR is mainly used in landscape photography as it allows you to show light at all levels of the image, bringing out details and colours you would not see in a single shot. These shots are created using software packages such as Adobe Photoshop Elements which let you create the HDR effect or final images, check out the excellent video tutorials by Just4Photographers.com on using Photosjop.

One of my favourite HDR photographers has to be Trey Ratcliff I think his work is astounding.

A fantastic E-Book I recently bought How to do Trick Photography by Evan Sharboneau is amazing, is really takes some of ym article concepts to a whole new level, adn I recommend downloading and giving it a read, you will not regret it.

Bracketed Exposure is a term used when referring to a set or series of the same image each one taken at a different light stop, in short the first image will normally be dark (under exposed), the second will be "technically" spot on and the third shot will be bright (over exposed).

Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB) or Auto Bracketing (AB) is the ability of the camera to be setup to take a series of photos all with different exposure levels, this means that you dont have to manually make changes to get your set of Bracketed Exposures, the camera does all the hard work

HDR (High Dynamic Range), Bracketed Exposure, Auto Exposure Bracketing on the Canon 7D

So before we can create any HDR photographs we need to collect a set of images that have a different exposure, and in short the more the merrier. Now there are two ways to do this the Easy way and the Hard way.

Now you are getting to grips with the AEB I recommend checking out Geoff Lawrences guide to Digital Photography you wont regret it

Hard Way to Take Bracketed Exposure Photographs on Canon 7D

Setup your camera with the normal setting you choose to use and take a set of photos, the more the merrier and for each shot alter the shutter speed, normally setting it too high such as 1/400 sec or similar, so that your first shot is too dark, then reduce your shutter speed to say 1/350 sec and take another shot. Then repeat this process until you have a set of images, 5 is a good minimum but like I said before the more the merrier. For some amazing example of the techniques we will cover here please take a look at the International Hall of Fames Terry Day's work and his course.

You now have a set of bracketed exposure shots.

"Not really all that technical now was it"

"But Sean" I hear you shout "you said there was an Easy way and a Hard way, so whats the easy way?"

Technicall there are two easy ways one is to take a look at the Focus Emagazine as it has loads of tips and snippets for your to use, or follow the tips below.

Easy Way to Take Bracketed Exposure Photographs on Canon 7D

The instruction and guidance here are specifically based around Canon DSLR's in particular the 7D, all decent DSLR Canon, Nikon, Hassleblad are capable of auto exposure bracketing, but the setup will be different.

Setting up the Canon 7D for auto exposure bracketing (AEB)

There are 3 main steps to taking auto bracketed shots.
  1. Set the camera drive to High-Speed Continuous
  2. Set the Exposure Bracketing Sequence
  3. Set the Exposure / Auto Exposure Bracketing
Note - these instructions are done with the camera set to full manual or M mode.

1. How to set the Canon 7D camera drive to High Speed Continuous

The first thing we need to do is set the drive speed on the camera to "High Speed Continuous", this can be done in a variety of ways. My personal choice is to use the button on top of the camera and then set the speed either by using the top screen or the back of the camera. Although for this tutorial I am going to use the quick menu "Q" option.

a. Press the Quick Menu "Q" button on the back of the camera, located to the left of the screen.
b. Using the little joystick, located to the right of the screen. Select the Drive Mode menu and press the set button
c. Now select the High Speed Continuous option, the second option along on the screen, and press the set button.

2. How to set the Exposure Bracketing Sequence on Canon 7D

The next thing we need to do is change the Bracketing Sequence, this means that our photos will come out in the correct order from dark to light.

a. Click the menu button on the back of the camera (located just to left of the rear screen)
b. From the Custom Function Menu, second from the end in the top row of options in the menu screen, select the Exposure menu (CFn I: Exposure) option and press the set button.
c. Then scroll through the menu options to number 5, Bracketing Sequence, and select the second option, the one marked "-,0,+" and press the set button.

Ok now press the menu button to come of the menu, and you have now set the bracketing sequence. This means that when we take our shots we will get a dark photo, a normal photo and a light photo.

It should be noted that due to a slight limitation on the Canon 7D it is only possible to take 3 auto bracketed shots at once, hence the option of only a dark shot, normal shot and a light shot. But dont worry I will let you in on a little tip later to overcome this.

3. How to Set Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB) on the Canon 7D

Now we have set the order of out shots we must now set the Auto Bracketing Exposure (AEB)compensation for the shots.

a. Go back into the menu, if you forget where the button is its still located on the back of the camera  to the left of the screen.
b. Select the Exposure / Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB) option, the first option under the second icon along on the menu screen and press the set button to enter the menu
c. Now press the set button and using the small wheel, location on top of the camera, move the indicators apart until you have the indicators either side of the centre pointing at number 1.

d. Press the set button to save the option, then use the menu key to out of the menu.

Ok your camerais now setup to take a set of three shots, each one with a different exposure. Again note that due to the limitation of the Canon 7D you can only take 3 auto bracketed shots at once.

So what you need to do to get a complete set of photos Auto Exposure Bracketed photos for your HDR is take your first set of 3 photos, then go do the following

a. go back into the menu, and yes it is still located on the back of the camera to the left of the screen.
b. Again selected the Exposure / Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB) option, the first option under the second icon along on the menu screen and press the set button to enter the menu
c. Now this time when you select your Exposure Compensation / Auto Bracketing Sequence (AEB) more the indicators to number 2.
d. Then press set and use the menu key to come out of the menu and take another set of 3 shots. Then redo steps a - c above but this time set the indicators to number 3.
e. And again press set to save and use the menu key to exit the menu and again take your shots.

Now you will have a series of photographs that are all at a different exposure, all you need to do is disregard the two repeated shots from the second two sequences, basically in the first sequence you took photos that were exposured as "-1,0,+1" you then took a set of shots that were exposed as "-2,0,+2" and finally you took shots that were exposed as "-3,0,+3". As you can see you have 2 repeated shots both at normal exposure or "0". So you can just deleted these shots from your series or just leave them and let your HDR software worry about them, thats up to you.

You can now simply load the shots into your chosen software package and create your HDR photos. I will post later about how to do this in Photoshop, but there are tons of HDR packages available and even website that can do ti for you.

"But Sean what about your little tip?"

Ok before you send round the heavy's I have not forgotten about my little tip. So here it is.

When you are using your camera to do any type of Auto Exposure Bracketing, due to a limitation on the Canon 7D it only allows you to do 3 shots at a time, and have a set of 3 photos with different exposure. This means that each time you do any HDR shots of any decent level of AEB photography you are left with insufficient shots, and need to repeat step 3 above, each time change the indicators for each set.

You also don't want you camera settings to stay on these setting for most of the time you use it, so in order to make life easier heres my little tip.

The Canon 7D has the ability to save camera settings for future use. If you have ever wondered what the C1, C2 and C3 options on the top mode selector control dial are for they allow you to recall preset saved settings simply by turning the dial.

How to Save Custom Camera Setting on Canon 7D

In order to save your setting ready for your next Auto Exposure Bracketing photos, simply follow the steps 1 to 3 above, so that you have the final indicators pointing at number 1. Save the options and come out of the menu. Then do the following

1. Go into the menu using the menu button, that is, yes you guessed it, located on the back of the camera to the left of the screen.
2. Select the third option from the right and select the Camera User Settings Menu
3. In this menu select the Register Option
4. Now select the option for Mode Dial: C1
5 Press the set button and then select OK and click set to save.
Now repeat the setup steps above to setup your camera for Auto Exposure Bracketing, but when you come to step 3 make sure the indicators are pointing at the number 2.. Now repeat the steps here and instead of the Mode Dial: C1 select Mode Dial:C2. Then repeat again making sure the Auto Exposure Bracketing indicator is pointing at 3 and then select Mode Dial: C3.

Once you have done this, you can either reset your camera setting using clear all camera settings, as seen in step 2 just above, or manually put your camera back to your normal settings.

Now each time you want to do any Auto Exposure Bracketing you can simply select C1 on the mode dial, then C2 and finally C3, you camera will do all the work for you and when your finished just return your camera back to what ever mode you normally use.

Doing this little tip allows you to recall the right Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB) setup without the manual hassle simply by turning the mode dial.

Ok thats it, now go off and take some nice photos and if you are using a mac you may want to try Remo Recover to safe guard your cool new shots.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Evening Fashion

Friday, 17 February 2012

Types of Photography

With this age of digital technology and the ever increasing advancement of photography. I thought I would touch on the main areas of photography as I see it. I am not going to cover every single type or area of photography, nor I am going to cover all techniques.

Its my intention to give you a bit of an overview of the key areas and why they are different in an aim to help you find success in your photography.

Fashion Photography

The area of fashion photography has to be one of the most popular areas of photography, yet many people still don't understand the two key areas of this industry.

Although it can be said that pin-up, glamour and beauty can also be classed as fashion, in my view the main two areas of fashion are Advertising Photography / Advertorial Photography and Editorial Photography.

Advertising  Photography / Advertorial Photography

The main thing in the advertising area of fashion photography is that the shots should be about the clothing, shoes, or what ever else fashion you are trying to show off.

If you look at the following photograph, you can clearly see that the main focus in the image are the boots and tights, and although the model is posing in a good way, which makes the shot work, your key focus is on the clothing.
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Fashion Advertising Photograph
As you can see the aim of this shot is to sell the fashion, its not about the lighting, the model, the hair or anything else.
So in short any shot that is intended to be used for anything such as an advertising campaign or an advertising article (advertorial) should be done to showcase the intended subject in such a way to highlight the fashion / product being advertised.


Now editorial photograph can be a bit tricky, as its often difficult to get the shot to be simple enough to be used as part of a story. Which is the whole essence of editorial photography, your photo is meant to tell a story, arouse the imagination, leave the viewer in wonder. Editorial shots should be done in such a way that the shot is not focusing on one thing in the picture, but focuses on many aspects, which all work together to tell a story.
If you look at the photograph below you can see it leaves you wondering, it doesn't focus too much on any one thing. Leaving not only the end use, but the intrepretation up to the end viewer.

Editorial Photograph
Pin-Up / Glamour

Now when you hear the word Pin-up and Glamour most people immediately start to think of women with their boobs out simply on show. In my view this is not the correct use or way to see either Pin-up or Glamour, as you must remember that the word glamour is short for glamorous, and Pin-up photography is actually taken from the use of the final shots. Such as in terms of posters, calendars, etc.

One of the most famous Pin-Up models of all time was of course Bettie Page and if you look at her work it was done with an air of tease about it, it was not done in an erotic way. That is the whole essence of not only Pin-up but Glamour. Showing a model off in a way that is glamourous not sleazy.

Both Pin-up and Glamour shots can be done in a variety of different ways, wearing a variety of different clothing, although this is typically stockings, high heels, nipple tassels and in general clothes that are revealing, whether than be cleavage, boobs, bum, legs the choice is yours.

I tend to think of decent Pin-up shots in the same vein as Glamour, as both done correctly should be done to tease, so showing a bit of cleavage or wearing tassels is meant to be done is a way that produces art NOT porn, the key to this is both the outfit and the pose, for a great guide to poses check out posing secrets.

If you want to take a shot of a woman with her boobs out, then you are either getting into the realms of erotic photography or porn. Don't try to pass off the shots as Glamour, but if the end shot makes the woman look good (and not just because she is topless), such as in lads mags then thats Glamour.

Simply put if you would be happy to hang the final shots on your wall at home then you have created art, however, if the only place you ever see your shots is either on your computer or office wall then thats not art.

To show my point if you look at the shot below, you can clearly see that, although the model is wearing very few clothes, it is done in a way that is artistic and done with the pin-up style in mind (and before my fellow pin-up togs start shouting, yes I know its not true pin-up its more fashion) whilst making the model look glamorous and not erotic or pornographic.

Pin-up style Mermaid Shoot

Now this area of photography seems to be a bit misunderstood, firstly I will start of by reminding you what Boudoir means.

"Bedroom or Ladies Private Room"

Boudoir does not mean someone in their underwear, nor does it mean sexy. In my view the best way to think of a good boudoir shot, is that its kind of like a fly on the wall shot of somewhere you would not normally get to see.
Imagine hiding in a cupboard and seeing a woman in her bedroom wearing underwear,getting dressed or simply relaxing. In short the shots you take that are Boudoir should be done with an air of sensuality to them yet not simply be a photo of someone in her underwear. You need to add feeling and the almost cheese factor to the shot to make it work, just as if you caught the lady in her bedroom undressing.
So to take a boudoir shot, don't simply take a shot of someone in her underwear but add something to the photo by adding the "caught in the act" element to it, without adding the erotic element and you wont go far wrong.

Portrait / Beauty / Hair

If you concentrate your photography on taking head and shoulder shots, this is most commonly know as portrait, beauty or hair photography. This is a very popular area of photography as it shows off the work of everyone involved including the model and make up artist, its not just about the photographer.
Typically beauty shots are used either in models portfolio or in hair and beauty campaigns, as the level of close detail is unmatched by any other form of photography.

Close up Beauty Photograph
Now there is one thing to remember when taking close up photographs, and that is that as the eyes are the windows to the soul, they should be in focus, so start with the eyes in focus and you cant go far wrong. As for lighting, make up, hair thats for you to play with and decide what you want from your shots.

Landscape / Architectural

Ok moving away from people slightly and onto the wonderful world around us and what is Landscape and Architectural photography. This area of photography like so many is easy to do, yet hard to master.

Capturing the world we see everyday in such as way that makes your shots stand out.

So a true decent landscape or architectural photographer tends to see the world in a different light and in a different way, in most cases that means being able to see how a shot will turn out after it has been through post production. As you have probably guessed landscape photography is simply the art of taking photos of the landscape and buildings around us, whether thats in the city, the countryside or the coast.

Typcial Landscape Photograph

Final Thought

I have only attempted to touch on a few of the major areas of photography, it was not my intention to cover every area of the photography industry, but more of a point to clear up the differences between the areas of photography. Educating people on exactly what each area is and what its used for helping them to make better use of their talent and become more successful in their photography business.

So no matter what aspect of photography you choose, just make sure that you keep to that area and be the best you can be at it. After all just because a decorator paints walls, doesn't mean he also paints boats, cars or anything else.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Whether to take Photo With or Without a Reflector

Although I have spoke of this in another post, loads of people have asked me if they really do need a reflector and why.

The first thing to remember is the most important thing in photography, and that is light. Without light you dont have any shot at all, so getting the right light is crucial. There are several ways of getting the light right, and playing around with it, everything from using the light available to you, known as the ambient light or using flashes and strobes, known as artificial light.

What is a Reflector

A reflectors main purpose is to reflect available light in order fill in any area you are missing light, the actual light you choose to reflect is up to you.

The benefit of a reflector over another light source is in the name it simply reflects available light onto an area you wish to light up on your subject, without being too over bearing.

When to use a Reflector

A basic rule as to whether you need to use a reflector or not is to ask yourself. "is your subject lit up enough for the look you are going for?", remember although there is such as thing as a technically perfectly lit shot, you know the one the histogram being right in the middle, there is no reason to always aim for this. Remember photography is an art and if you want to shoot different images from perfection and thats your style thats fine.

Using the reflector to just create a bit of a catchlight is fine, you dont always need to use it to completely light up your subject.

Reflector Technique

So you may be thinking now you know what a reflector is for, but when do you use it. The simple rule of thumb is you need to use a reflector when part of your subject are dark, this darkness can be solved by using another light, but this can be over powering on your subject, by using a reflector you are only ever reflecting back available light, and as such it will always be less powerful than the original source.

A quick tip is to remember the further away the reflector is from either your subject or the light you are reflecting the less intense the effect, also remember that by tilting you reflector you can also reduce the effect on your subject.

There is also an added bonus in that is it way cheaper to buy a reflector than it is to buy another light.

Practical Example

Photo Taken with and without reflector

If you look at the shot on the left above you can see that although you can see most of the face, it just looks too dark. Now if I used another light the subject would be too lit up and I would lose the effect of the image, so the solution is to use a reflector.

Now if you look at the image on the right you can clearly see that by using a reflector we can now see the subject more clearly without the light being too over powering on the face.

Big thank you to Jenna for being so patient during this shoot.

Final Thoughts

So I would suggest that even if you are just starting out, go and buy a reflector as they make your job as a photographer a whole lot easier, and remember to buy a 5in1 reflector that way you get the ability to not only reflect white light but also gold and add that something special to your shots.