Destination Cleveland wants your viewing of the 2024 total solar eclipse to be as memorable as possible. As one of the prime locations to view the event due to its location along the eclipse’s path of totality, the agency is giving away an overnight stay in downtown Cleveland on April 8, 2024, and all you have to do for a chance to win it is play an interactive game.
To enter to win, you first need to play Road Trip to Cleveland. Then, share your score on either Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #SolarEclipseCLE before 11:59 pm on May 26, 2023. In addition to the hotel stay, which will accommodate up to four people, the winner will also receive tickets to two Cleveland attractions, a $50 gift card to a downtown Cleveland restaurant, and up to four pairs of solar eclipse glasses.
You must be at least 18 years old and a resident of the US in order to be eligible to win. The winner of the contest, who will be selected at random, will be notified on or around June 5. You don’t even need to get a particularly impressive score on the Road Trip to Cleveland game, you just need to play!
Today I once again got a chance to enjoy my love for photography and music. For me Blues Festivals provide the opportunity to enjoy one of my favorite genres. Being originally from the great state of MS I relish in the homegrown Flava of the Blues.
This opportunity came with all the problems that come with shooting in midday extremely bright sunshine. Bright light, heavy shadows, and extreme heat, add cowboy hats and baseball caps to the mix just to increase the degree of difficulty.
For this entire shoot, I used my first generation z6, coupled with my AF-s Nikkor 18-300mm (DX) telephoto lens. I chose this lens strictly because I absolutely love candid shots.
I started out shooting in manual mode, and I quickly found that I had a great deal of difficulty adjusting settings to get desired effects. Constant action and distractions along with high-contrast natural lighting made it impossible for me to keep up.
I finished the day shooting in Aperture Mode. Adjusting f-stops, and ISO gave me greater control. I tried the automatic ISO setting for the first time during daylight concert photography. All in all the results were good.
A new year is always a great time to kick your photography plans into gear. If you haven’t done so already, here are 8 new year resolutions to consider
1 Take more photos
My number one advice for anyone wanting to improve their photography is to simply take more photos. It’s like anything, the more you practice something the better you will become. So whether you are a landscape photographer, travel photographer, wildlife photographer or even if you enjoy taking portraits, try to set time aside regularly to just focus on your photography. Or if you find it difficult to do so when you are home because of everyday life, why not book to go away for a few days to just concentrate on photography? You’ll be amazed at how much your work improves over time by simply taking more photos.
2 Do something with your photos
There is no doubt that the positives of digital photography (as opposed to film photography) far outweigh the negatives (excuse the pun). However, I think one of the big negatives of digital photography, is that for many photographers, their photos just end up sitting on their hard drives forever.
So, this year, why not plan to do “something” with your photos? You can of course look to sell them through Picfair. Or you can just get into the habit of posting regularly on social media. For those who have a bit more time on their hands, you can even create a photo book of your best photos. Not only do these kinds of things help promote you and your work, but it’s also great to just have your work out there rather than on a hard drive.
3 Learn something new
Photography is like any other hobby or profession, in that there are always elements that you can improve at. At the start of each year, I set myself a goal of learning something new that is related to my profession or business. For example, a few years ago I purchased a drone and learned how to use that for aerial photography. Another year, I taught myself all about SEO. Last year I learned how to create reels for social media.
Learning something new can be incredibly rewarding not to mention help improve your photography. For example, you may be someone who has never used a flash but want to or you may struggle with photographing in low light conditions. Or maybe you are not hugely confident in using editing software. So think about what you would like to learn and spend the next 12 months working toward learning or improving whatever that may be.
4 Set yourself a goal
As well as learning a new skill, another great New Year resolution is to set yourself a professional goal. In other words, something that you would like to achieve. This could be anything from shooting something you have always wanted to shoot, or for example, this might be an event, a place or even a type of photo that you have always wanted to capture.
Or your goal could be more business-driven like having a photo published in a magazine or newspaper. You could even set yourself a goal of winning a photography competition and spend time actually trying to capture photos that are going to have the best chance of winning. It’s OK if you don’t achieve your goal. This is about giving you something to focus on.
5 Look through your old photos
I’m sure like me, there have been times when you have looked through your old catalog of photos and found a few great photos that you missed when you were editing. In fact, there have been so many times when I have found photos from past shoots that have gone on to sell very well. So, if you have time, it is always worth having a look through your old collection of photos and possibly even re-editing some photos to see if you can find some hidden gems that you missed.
Remember that photos that are sitting on your hard drive will never sell. But if they are in your Picfair Store or out in the world, they might. You never know.
Photography can be a lonely hobby or profession most of the time. You generally work by yourself and may not get the opportunity to bounce ideas off other people. Joining a local camera club is a great way to improve your photography by sharing your photos and getting feedback from fellow photographers. Camera clubs often also put on competitions which are again great for focusing you on something specific.
And there are of course often talks by professional photographers which can be very helpful in giving you tips and advice on a whole range of different topics.
7 Work on a personal project
think that even if you are a seasoned pro, it is always very useful to have a personal project on the go that you can work on. This can be a great way to escape the everyday mundane aspects of being a photographer and allow you to do something that you love or are passionate about. Or it could just be a photography technique that you want to experiment with like light painting or macro photography.
Try to think of a project that you are so passionate about that it won’t feel like work. But rather something that you can spend months working on without any hesitation.
8 Update/refresh your website
All of us photographers (me included) are guilty of neglecting our websites. It’s just one of those tasks that often fall at the bottom of the list. But your website is incredibly important as it showcases you to the world. So set aside a day or two to go through and update your website accordingly.
Make sure that you have added any new work that you have done or had published. Shout about your achievements, update your contact details, and most important of all, make sure that your website is optimized so that it doesn’t take ages to load. Trust me, as someone who regularly commissions photographers, nothing is more frustrating for an editor than having to wait for each page or image to load.
You may of course have your own new year’s resolutions, but the above will not only make you a better photographer but might also make you a more successful one too.
Kav is a full-time photographer and author of 400+ articles. He is also a judge on the Wanderlust Magazine Photography of the Year competition and leads small group photo tours around the world. View all articles
My personal “Holy Trinity” derives from my LOVE of Travel, Music, and Photography. It is always heavenly when I get to experience them all together. This years festival in Gentilly took me to the 5th level.
I love the challenges and the opportunities afforded by daytime festivals. The challenges afforded by Natural Light (contrast ly backgrounds, dark shadows, extreme highlights, etc.), view obstructions (people, staff, equipment, etc), and equipment choices.
In modern cinema, (movies, tv, concerts, etc) I have noticed that contrast is now sometimes flaunted. In the past it seems that solid color clothing or the subject appeared against contrast ly backgrounds. Now I see a lot of contrast against contrast.
It seems to me that my first generation Z6 coupled with my NIKKOR 18-300 mm; 2.8 DX telephoto lens did a pretty good job with this extremally contrast ly shot. The depth blur seems to have made the difference. What do you think?
“I AM” constantly looking for the shot within the shot. When you find them they can sometimes turn into some amazing ART!
Although the subject gets lost in the background, “I AM” still drawn into the frozen action. Face is still illuminated showing her Big Beautiful smile!
The SPIRIT in me saw this. I try to find “perspectives” from within. You gotta feel it! Also I think this color palette is unique and very pleasing to me.
As mentioned above there are always challenges. When shooting concerts my biggest personal challenge is to get all the band members it a single frame. Showing all in the midst of their personal performance mode is difficult yet magical.
This is how I now live my life. After living 40 plus years involved in the ownership and management of my family own business I finally get to do what I love to do. “I AM” so thankful and grateful.
I spent the day working with my first generation Z6 coupled with my f mount NIKKOR 2.8; 18-300mm DX telephoto lens. I think it does a pretty good job even though it is not a full frame lens.
Being older I have to consider the amount of walking and standing. One camera body, one lens, my cell phone plus extra batteries, and storage is ideal. When I shoot festivals this represents my go to equipment.
Freelance Travel Photographer/Artist. Founder of the Digital Age Travel Agency affiliated and registered with Inteletravel.
I have combined my love for Photography and Travel into a digital platform to share with like minded Artist/Entrepreneurs.
Every picture tells a story and I’m passionate about telling stories and sharing my travel experiences through my landscape and travel photography websites.
Quite often, people ask me about what kind of camera gear I use to capture my images. Back in the 1970s, I started out shooting with a simple Olympus film camera. I am a photographer that doesn’t rely on a lot of fancy technical gear. There’s a lot of people that think that if you don’t have the perfect camera, the latest gear, or the best accessories, then you’re not ready to be an effective travel photographer. But, it’s not the tools that make the photographer. Tools simply help you to bring your ideas to life. If it’s my iPhone that’s in my pocket when I see the perfect shot – then that’s what I shoot with.
Having had the privilege of working with Canon Canada for 14 years, I’ve had a chance to meet and work with some incredible photographers. Their stories and experiences have changed the way I look at things. I’ve also had the privilege of trying out a lot of different types of travel photography equipment. Listed below are some ideas I’d like to share.
Travel Photography Cameras
So, what makes the best camera for travel photography? This is a complicated and constantly-evolving question to answer, but it’s probably a camera that allows you to capture great-quality images and doesn’t weigh a ton. Camera manufacturers are always changing their line-up with the latest and greatest features, but the things to look for in a good travel camera is image quality, long battery life, size and weight, simple to use, and that doesn’t cost a fortune. The most important thing about a travel camera is that it doesn’t get in your way of enjoying the adventure and at the same time delivers stunning images. The best travel camera for you is going to be very dependent on your needs and situation.
Fine Art Black & White Photography
I’ve gone through a number of camera bodies throughout the years but, for now, have settled on the Canon EOS 6D full-frame DSLR camera. I have investigated and tried mirrorless cameras, but because the weight wasn’t significantly less, I’ve stuck with what works for me and gets me great photos. The Canon 6D is one of the lightest weight DSLR cameras (1.7 pounds with the battery). The camera battery gives me decent life (if I’m not using GPS). The processor delivers enhanced noise reduction and exceptional processing speed, all in a compact body. Because if it’s compact size, it fits into my hand like a glove.
Camera Lenses for Travel Photography
Whilst it would be wonderful to have a large range of lenses to take with you on trips, the reality of travel is that you can only carry so much before you feel like a weighed-down camel. It’s better to try and focus on getting a smaller number of lenses that work well in a wide variety of situations. I personally use three lenses 99% of the time. When we consider travel photography, we capture landscapes, portraits, street scenes, architecture, and so on — all of these subjects require different lenses to be properly framed.
So, let’s look at a few lenses.
The “Do It All” Camera LensThe 24-70mm lens or 24-105mm lens is enormously versatile. The 24-105mm lens is the one I use mostly because of its versatility. It gives me a wide-angle to nearly telephoto range and allows me to capture large landscapes, close-up portraits, and everything else in between without having to change lenses. It’s a good size and doesn’t weigh a lot.
My Canon EF 24–105mm F/4L is II USM camera lens is a great general-purpose lens and was a great value when I purchased it with my 6D DSLR kit. If I could only take one lens while I’m hiking or biking, this is the one. AT 24mm, it is especially valuable for landscape photography and for capturing images in tight places. The 105mm focal length on the long end is really useful for a wide range of subjects, including portraits.
The Ultra Wide Zoom LensThe 16-35mm lens or something close to it is the ultimate go-to lens for a travel photographer looking to capture landscapes, cityscapes, or even internal building spaces. Not all wide-angle lenses are the same, so you need to do a little research. You want to make sure it creates sharp, beautiful images with little to no barrel distortion or fish-eye effect. Some lenses are better at this than others.I love my Canon 16-35 F/4L IS wide-angle lens and it has been popular with many landscape photographers. It’s an extremely sharp ultra-wide-angle zoom lens, delivering prime-grade image sharpness right into full-frame corners. A stellar-performing image stabilization system makes this lens a great lens. I can use it at the top of a windy mountain and shoot incredible quality, deep depth of field imagery without the use of a tripod. I had the Canon 11-24mm F/4L fisheye lens out in the field many times, but it was heavier and necessitated me carrying a larger camera bag.
The Telephoto LensHaving a good quality telephoto lens in your travel kit is a big plus for landscape photography. Sometimes you just need that tighter close-up shot to get more detailed photos. I would recommend a 70-200mm telephoto zoom lens because of its versatility. You can get a little longer, like a 100-400mm, but it adds weight and costs a lot more. The 70-200mm f/2.8L is what I use, but it’s also the heaviest lens in my kit.
I use Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM telephoto lens for my travel photography. This lens gives me an impressive image quality and focuses accurately very fast. It has a 4-stop image stabilization, weather sealing, and has become one of my favorite and most-used lenses. I love the image stabilization on this lens which helps me to obtain sharp images even while I’m hand-holding the camera.
So, for travel photography, it’s better to try and focus on getting a smaller number of lenses that work well in a wide variety of situations. That way, you are more likely to take them with you and use them.
Camera Bags for Travel Photography
There are a lot of camera bags on the market today and so many options to choose from. It can get a bit confusing trying to figure out which one is the best bag for travel photography. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution, so you must do your research. Being a travel photographer means you have to look at not only size; but also… do you need one that’s completely waterproof, crush-proof, designed for climbing rocks as well as hiking? If you are swimming through the Zion Park Narrows – then that’s a completely different story.
The following are some questions to ask yourself:
Do I want the bag to be multi-functional so it can act as both a camera bag and a day pack?
Do I want to carry a laptop computer or tablet in the bag?
Do I need a trolley strap included so you can attach it to rolling luggage?
Camera backpacks are one of the most popular options for carrying around your gear, but you may also consider a shoulder bag. Sling bags that have one strap offer quick and easy access to a camera. Holster cases are designed to be used with a camera and a single lens if you want a lightweight option for biking. Spending money on the right bag to protect your gear is cheaper in the long run. So which bag is the best bag for you?
I think it’s best to take your gear to the store and try out a bunch of camera bags – that’s what I did. So, here’s what I use:
My Lowepro Classified 160 AW shoulder bag is great for one camera plus three lenses and goes with me everywhere. Plus, the bag is easy to store in overhead bins on a flight.
The Alta Access 28X shoulder bag is what I pull out when I have a few extra lenses to haul around. The bag effortlessly carries a professional gear kit which consists of my Canon 6D DSLR, 4-5 lenses (up to 70-200mm), a flash, and a multitude of accessories. It also is no problem to store in overhead bins on a flight.
I also use a Lowepro holster bag when I’m biking. It provides good protection in a small package for my camera and attached lens.
Other Useful Travel Photography Accessories
I highly recommend carrying a lightweight carbon fiber photography tripod. I love my Sirui T-025SK carbon fiber travel tripod. It’s super lightweight and folds up into a 12-inch length. It’s maybe not the sturdiest of tripods, but it’s so much easier to carry around when hiking and biking.
I also carry a circular polarizer filter which helps to reduce reflections and glare by filtering out light that has become polarized due to reflection from a non-metallic surface. It cuts down on certain types of light in a way that can benefit your images.
6 to 10 Stop ND filters can be really useful for landscape photography when you want to slow down your shutter speed to capture creative landscape photos.
Not Just Camera Gear
Besides camera gear, it is also important for travel photographers to dress properly to handle cold and stormy weather. When I’m out and about and the temperatures start falling, there’s nothing better than a great winter jacket. I love my Eider Men’s Lillehammer III Jacket with underarm air vents in case it gets really hot. Good, waterproof hiking boots and thick wool socks are critical. I have owned a pair of Guardo boots for about one year and love them. They’re stylish, comfy, warm, and have a super grip on slippery surfaces. I find that if you don’t want to get sick, keep your head, chest, and feet warm. This merino wool t-shirt is top quality and offers great warmth.
Travel photography isn’t just about making photographs; it’s about choosing a life of curiosity, exploration, and wonder… immersing yourself in the world around you. If you want to be an effective travel photographer, it is important to carry the right photography equipment and know how to use it. I hope you find these tips useful to get started. Do you have any questions? If so feel free to ask them in the comments below:
Having had the privilege of working with Canon Canada for 14 years, I’ve had a chance to meet & work with some incredible photographers and printing experts. Their stories and experiences have changed the way I look at things. Photography isn’t just about making photographs; it’s about choosing a life of curiosity, exploration, wonder, and immersing yourself in the world around you. Follow our adventures at – www.photographyadventures.ca and get your FREE e-book today – “5 Truly Amazing Places to Visit Before it’s too late!
I was given the amazing opportunity to do my thing with Low Light Photography. Low-Light Event Photography is one of my favorite genres.
I think I enjoy the challenge. In order to create a photo, the main ingredient is of course LIGHT. And, as you can see there is very little of it.
My low-light photography requires some degree of post-processing. I use several programs including PhotoShop. (considered by most to be the Holy Grail)
Sometimes I go a little further. In this photo, I used Photoshop and PhotoScape. PhotoScape has been my “escape” from Photoshop’s demanding learning curve. PhotoScape’s main drawback seems to be its approach to layering.
When shooting any event. I am constantly looking for opportunities to showcase crowd interaction and emotion.
I try really hard to not use flash. (sometimes it’s impossible) I am constantly looking for ambient light. I try to stay completely away from flash!
When I absolutely have to, I pray for walls to bounce the light. Oh yeah, I often use flash for promo shots with the artist, before or after the performance.
From a personal point of view, this is my favorite shot. Black and White, contrast, showing texture, and illuminated with ambient light.
I began this shoot using my first generation Nikon Z6 Mirrorless, coupled with my Tamron 24-70mm, f2.8. Later I switched to my Nikon 18-300mm FX lens. Not known for its low light capabilities, but excellent for long-range candid shots. I ended my session with my go-to; Nikon 50mm, f1.8 Prime.
In conclusion, I would like to thank the Owners and Management not only for the opportunity to practice my craft but also for the opportunity to participate in an event for such a worthy cause; The Mississippi Center for Autism and Developmental Disorders.
Freelance Travel Photographer/Artist. Founder of the Digital Age Travel Agency affiliated and registered with Inteletravel.
I have combined my love for Photography and Travel into a digital platform to share with like minded Artist/Entrepreneurs.
5 top tips for taking competition-worthy photos of incredible old buildings, structures and standing stones often found within stunning landscapes
From grand castles and imposing stately homes to crumbling ancient cities and lonely standing stones, the world is awash with historical ruins if you care to go searching for them. They can be tricky to photograph, but you don’t have to travel far and wide; there are likely some castles, churches, abbeys and ruins close to where you live.
Before making a big trip abroad to a ‘honeypot’ site, practice your skills locally, but do check opening times, car park fees and entry fees ahead of time. Here are some of our top tips to get you started…
1 Capture castles in context
Is the castle on a hill overlooking an epic landscape? Is there a moat around it? Is a drawbridge its visual highlight? Although castles are traditionally seen as grand military structures that were designed to be imposing, they were usually built in places that gave the inhabitants wide-ranging views and early site of any approaching invaders. Many are also surrounded by landscaped grounds. Either way, try to capture the connection between a castle and the environment it exists in.
If you want to get a castle in context then consider using a wide-angle lens, which will enable you to get more into your composition and keep it sharp. Depending on how wide-angle it is you may be able to approach the castle and capture it from close in while still placing it in its environment.
Before you start shooting take a stroll around the grounds, getting a feel for what’s around and what you might want to include in your shots. Resist the temptation to start shooting immediately; take your time and investigate the site for details you might want to emphasise. Read about the building’s history, if only to decide what the most important structures are, and how they’re normally photographed.
2 Give standing stones some space
There are thousands of prehistoric circles, standing stones, henges and burial chambers throughout the UK and Europe, yet they can be difficult to photograph. A lot depends on what’s around them; some are surrounded by flat grassland while others are on peninsulas, on tops of peaks, or nestled in forests. Your position is everything since standing circles, for example, don’t tend to look much more than a bunch of stones unless it’s captured from above, or at least an elevated position on a nearby hill.
Do your research before you visit, not only about the monument’s environment, but about theories on its history and function. If you’re going to photograph a burial chamber that’s aligned with the rising Sun, consider visiting at sunrise to shoot a ‘sun star’ shot. You can do that by using a large aperture and a slow shutter speed.
3 Create an unusual composition
Looking for something that no one has seen before in an ancient monument, and getting the shot right, is difficult. But it’s what good photography is all about. Sometimes it can be something as simple – at least in retrospect – as capturing a reflection and turning it upside down (see above). Another way to treat this same shot could be to capture it at night and have stars reflecting in the river.
Find interesting items for the foreground of your image. Vary your height; take shots from low to the ground for an unusual point of view. Look for leading lines in walls, pathways, drawbridges and corridors.
While the wide-angle shot has likely been done before many times, where you can do something new is with close-ups. So pack a zoom lens, which will allow you to isolate architectural details from crumbling walls to rusty door handles. Try to shoot through a window or upwards where the roof used to be.
Look beyond the cliches. The photos on the postcard or guidebook cover and the ones to avoid, not the ones to replicate. If there are lots of visitors, avoid getting them in your photos by watching where they’re going and heading to the other end of the site. It can also be worth finding out if the monument in question is illuminated at night; if it’s not you could try some long exposures that include stars or possibly, in summer, the Milky Way.
4 Wait for an unexpected event
A legion of photographers have taken shots of Stonehenge at day and at night. Sure, there are literally 360º opportunities to take something different even from a distance, but they mostly end up looking very similar.
So wait for something genuinely different to happen in the sky above. That could be an eclipse of the Moon or the Sun, or it could be something not predicted by science at all, like the arrival of a comet. That happened for just a few weeks in July 2020, with savvy photographers heading to the old stones to get a shot of Comet F3 Neowise. For many it was a simple repeat of a shot they had mastered years before, but with the added bonus of a space rock hurtling through the sky above.
If the sky above is all-important when photographing monuments from afar, the weather is your friend. If there are clear blue skies a polariser will enhance them and also help reduce reflections. Clouds can often be exaggerated to seem like a bubbling storm. Sunrise is a great time to be at ancient monuments, not least for the possibility of rising mist, which can add an ethereal dimension to your inherently mysterious subject. It also maximises your chance of being there alone. Close to sunset you may spot crepuscular rays in the west.
5 Get off the beaten track
Head to Angkor Wat, the Colosseum, the Pyramids or Machu Picchu and you’ll have to constantly battle crowds, queues and restrictive opening times. That’s going to reduce your chances of taking original shots. The more popular they are the less likely they are to allow in tripods, while some ban photography altogether (or charge extra for photography permits). Better to head to lesser known, but equally as dramatic sites where you’ll have lots of time and the place to yourself.
Although most famous monuments have something lesser known and just as picturesque close by (such as Beng Mealea north of Angkor Wat, and Kuélap, Llactapacta and Choquequirao close to Machu Picchu in the Sacred Valley), you can find UNESCO World Heritage Sites sprinkled throughout the world.
Jamie Carter is a journalist and author focusing on stargazing and astronomy, astrophotography, and travel for Forbes Science, BBC Sky At Night magazine, Sky & Telescope, Travel+Leisure, and The Telegraph.View all articles
In the age of social media, a clear understanding of your rights as a photographer is crucial to receiving the credit you deserve. But with so much information out there, you might find yourself asking:
What laws are in place to protect photographers like me?
What do I do if someone uses my photo without permission?
How long do photographers have ownership of their images?
Copyright law in the United States prohibits the unauthorized copying of a “work of authorship.” In 1988, the following amendment was added to address visual works including photography:
“Pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works” include two-dimensional and three-dimensional works of fine, graphic, and applied art, photographs, prints and art reproductions, maps, globes, charts, diagrams, models, and technical drawings, including architectural plans. Such works shall include works of artistic craftsmanship insofar as their form but not their mechanical or utilitarian aspects are concerned; the design of a useful article, as defined in this section, shall be considered a pictorial, graphic or sculptural work only if, and only to the extent that, such design incorporates pictorial, graphic, or sculptural features that can be identified separately from, and are capable of existing independently of, the utilitarian aspects of the article.”
Phew. That’s a mouthful of legalese! So what does it mean in English? Basically, copyright law says that when you take a photograph, you become the copyright owner of the image created. This means you hold exclusive rights to:
Reproduce the photograph
Display the image in a public space
Distribute the photo
Create derivatives of the image
Seems straightforward, no? But what’s considered a “derivative?”
A “new version” of a work that is already copyrighted falls under the term of a “derivative” work. Special re-edits of movies, art reproductions, and literary translations all qualify as derivatives. A film based on a book or play is another common example.
In the realm of photography, any time someone creates a photograph that is a copy or “substantially similar” to another copyrighted work, they are potentially infringing upon the original owner’s rights.
By comparing and evaluating a derivative work to the original, a court of law can determine if any copyright laws have been violated. In other words, a photographer who went to great lengths to recreate an original work’s composition, lighting, and other creative elements would be more likely to be found guilty of copyright infringement than a photographer who simply takes pictures of subjects that already exist in other photos (i.e., monuments, nature). This means many different photographers can take photos of, say, the Golden Gate Bridge without infringing on each other’s artistic rights.
In addition to looking out for your own rights, you as a photographer need to be aware of ways you may unknowingly infringe upon another artist’s rights. The last thing you want to do is misuse another creative’s work!
Take for example Mercedes Benz’s 2018 ad campaign featuring the company’s new vehicle “barreling through Detroit’s boho Eastern Market district past commercial buildings painted with vibrant murals.” Cool concept, no doubt. But the artists who created those murals that contributed so much color and atmosphere to the campaign were never asked permission to use their work, let alone credited:
“While Mercedes sought municipal permission to make beautiful shots of its vehicles on public city streets, it did not seek the muralists’ permission to make and post images of their works on Instagram. Copyright infringement? Mercedes thought not. The muralists—James Lewis, Jeff Soto, Maxx Gramajo, and Daniel Bombardier—thought otherwise.”
It shows the importance of being aware of how others’ work appears in your photographs
It serves as an example of how your work may be misused
The exception to copyright law is when the reproduction of a photograph or visual work is deemed “fair use.” The next section digs deeper into this term.
Fair use is an exception when it comes to copyright law. Journalism, critiques, research, and teaching materials are examples of specific types of writing that allow the reproduction of copyright-protected works without the permission of the “author”.
For example, if you exhibit your photography in a gallery, an art publication generally does not need permission to reproduce your image if they’re using it as part of a critique. Or, conversely, a newspaper may publish photographs of works and use them as part of an article. Both of these are examples of copyrighted work being used under “fair use” guidelines.
When considering whether a reproduction of a work is fair use, the U.S. Copyright Act says “the factors to be considered shall include whether:
The use is of commercial nature or if it is for nonprofit education purposes
The copyrighted work is highly creative or if it is fact-based
Part of the entire original work was reproduced or just a part of it
The reproduction reduces the value of the original work or has no effect
One important thing to keep in mind is that social media marketing’s use of images very rarely falls under “fair use.” If your photographic work is being used without your permission, check out the resources from PPA below for help determining if you need to take further action.
Remember: If a company uses one of your images in their marketing—on social media or otherwise—without your approval, they are violating your rights as a creator. So, what do you do if you suspect your work of being used without your permission? PPA has resources to help you understand copyright law, and even a Copyright Infringement Tool to leave no question in your mind whether or not your rights as a creator have been violated.
Photo composition takes all these factors into account. By learning a few simple rules of composition, you can make sure your next shot is a masterpiece.
Before we get to the tools, though, let’s clear up one point of common confusion: photo composition versus composite photography. Composite photography is taking multiple images and layering them into one. Photo composition is how you capture or arrange elements within a single shot. Composition plays a big role in composite photography, too, but we don’t want to get too in the weeds here. On to the tools!
Composition in photography is defined as the visual arrangement of elements in your photo. Believe it or not, there are better and worse ways to compose a photograph based on how we see and interpret color, light, and shape.
10 tools for better photography composition.
The rule of thirds: How you line up your subject in the frame plays a huge role in how visually interesting your photo is. One of the most common rules in composition is known as the rule of thirds. Imagine a grid that divides your photo into nine equal sections. Using the rule of thirds, your focal point should be placed around one of the four spots where these lines intersect, or along one of the horizontal or vertical lines. This helps you establish a balanced image that’s pleasing to the eye. Many cameras have the ability to display a grid while shooting, which should help you keep the rule of thirds in mind.
Negative space: Negative space is the space in your photo that isn’t occupied by your subject. Depending on what you’re shooting, you may want to fill the frame and leave as little negative space as possible (keeping the rule of thirds in mind!), or use lots of negative space to your advantage to simplify your photo and focus on your subject. Pay attention to colors and brightness with this technique: contrasting colors and light levels will emphasize your subject far better than similar tones.
Frames: While the edges of your photo naturally frame your subject, you can add some extra impact by including more structure and visual interest in your framing. For example, when photographing architecture, look for pillars, archways, posts, or other elements that you can use to frame your subject. When taking landscape or wildlife photos, trees, branches, and other plants can serve the same purpose, putting your viewer into the shot and adding an element of mystery or exploration.
Lines: Lines in photo composition are used to guide the eye of your viewer, drawing the eye to a focal point. Lines can also contribute to the feeling your image evokes. Horizontal lines can convey stability, like the horizon in a landscape. Diagonal lines often convey motion or distance, especially when they converge (think of a road going off to the horizon). Vertical lines are excellent for imbuing your image with height, structure, and grandeur (trees, architecture, etc.). When shooting, note the relation of your frame and your lines, and try to be intentional about the way you use these lines to your advantage. Does that powerline lead the eye away from your subject? Is that road cutting across your frame where it shouldn’t be? Maybe find another vantage point to eliminate unwanted lines.
Focus: This one is simple: It’s important not to have too much distraction from your main subject. While your photo may have more than one focal point (or a broad focal range), if there’s too much going on the viewer may feel lost. Make sure your focal point is clear and uncluttered.
Juxtaposition: This composition technique uses two elements that contrast each other, often to draw a comparison between the two. Sharp and soft, happy and sad, tall and short, light and dark, near and far — the options are endless and can make for a much more interesting photo than either subject on its own.
Symmetry: There are times when the rule of thirds isn’t your best option. When the subject has exciting details that are symmetrical, you can place your subject in the center of your frame to excellent effect. For example, an ornate staircase, a path through the woods, or a reflection on a still body of water can make a great subject if you want to play around with symmetry.
The rule of space: When your subject is traveling or facing a certain direction, give it some room to breathe! The rule of space refers to the amount of space in your frame given to the direction that your subject is traveling or facing. For example, if you’re photographing a car driving from left to right, you may want to have more space on the right side of your photo than the left to keep your image from feeling cut off.
Patterns: Repeating or otherwise visually appealing patterns can make for a beautiful photo. Pay attention to the lines, symmetry, and directions when composing your photo and make sure the pattern highlights or points to your subject.
Odd numbers: When you’re composing a photo, it’s more visually appealing to have an odd number of elements than an even number. The theory behind this is with an even number of elements, the viewer has trouble choosing what to focus on. This same rule is often used in decorating.
While all these tools may seem daunting if you’re first starting out, once you begin to practice them they’ll start to become second nature. Keep these in mind when shooting, and watch your photography skills grow — then experiment! Once you have a handle on photo composition, intentionally breaking a rule or two can give your photos even more impact.
What do you do to improve the composition of your photos? Leave a comment below or share with us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
“I am very lucky to live in a place that has distinct changes of seasons. Once September hits, we start seeing a gradual shift from greens and blues to the rich and warm tones of fall: tawny brown, red, orange, mustard yellow. Autumn in New York is a wonderful place to observe the changing colors,” says Lindsay Silverman, senior product manager for the Nikon professional DSLR line.
Silverman, who has had his hands around a camera since 1974 in order to meet college course requirements, reasons he’s produced several tens of thousand images over the course of his career—from the U.S to Latin America, around Europe and throughout Asia. Loads of locales indeed, yet one of his favorite photo venues will always be New York. Silverman sat down to offer inspirational thoughts, while dishing up some autumnal pointers.
Where do you capture autumn’s finest?
I start by exploring what is within a few blocks of my house here on Long Island. There’s always something to catch my eye over the course of the day. I favor early morning light. It has a beautiful, yet soft quality that I really like. I also revisit locations several times to observe how things alter.
Water draws my attention. It’s a medium that can dramatically change over the course of the day, most notably this time of year since the sun is lower in the sky. I like to frame images that clearly show reflections. I also seek to create photo abstracts that display lots of texture. If you are a DX shooter, I suggest lenses with focal length ranges from 18mm to 300mm. DX NIKKOR lenses are portable and versatile. For the FX photographer, I suggest going with wide to telephoto. My favorites include the AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm f/4G ED VR and the AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR. For traveling light, I recommend the AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 ED VR. All of these lenses allow ample compositional freedom.
What are some must-get seasonal shots?
Wide views that showcase nature are a must. Highlight the immense variety of tones and bluer skies; frame to convey a story. Also, a tripod and/or lens with VR image stabilization can reduce blur in your images. To intensify richness in the sky and help draw out textural variety and depth, consider an aid such as a Nikon circular polarizer filter. Fall brings dew to foliage, especially in the morning. I actually use my polarizer to help saturate colors when dew is present, or after the rain.
Fall mornings can get chilly here, and as the air moves over a water source it often produces a low-hanging mist. Conditions such as this offer opportunity to create landscape views that contrast sharp to soft (branches and foliage against fog) and warm aside cool (harvest tones against steely liquid tones). When framing, consider building distinct levels within your depth of field. Here, I love how the sharp patch of trees frames the edge and that you observe the rock jutting out from the water. There is a pleasing contrast between the softness of the mist areas and the strong colors of foliage and nature. For ultra-wide views with a full frame camera, the AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED and the AF-S NIKKOR 16-35mm f/4G ED VR work well. For the DX-format, I suggest the AF-S DX NIKKOR 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED.
How do you frame an autumn image?
Nothing says, “It’s fall” better than harvest. Think pumpkins, gourds and wonderful apple pies observed at roadside stands. I’ll hop out of the car to photograph the display, and of course buy a pie. First to attract me is color; second is contrast and texture variety. When framing, pick a key element and be judicious about aperture setting. To really isolate the subject, shoot with a wide aperture that is anywhere from f/1.4 to f/4, depending on the lens. If you want the viewer to see more details, shoot at f/8 to f/16. Chances are you will be shooting handheld and close-in, so watch where shadows fall. Keep clutter out of the frame and consider any leading lines or curves that can outline.
Close-up and macro shots tend to put a lot of emphasis on a very small point in the frame, so focus and sharpness are important. Nikon cameras offer many options for point of focus determination. Some of the newer cameras really make it easy when using Live View, courtesy of the touch screen functionality.
Rich and warm tones are everywhere in autumn. How do you make color pop in an image?
Make fall colors even more brilliant by setting the in-camera Picture Control to Vivid. Pay heed to the White Balance setting too. The Auto White balance on many Nikon models has evolved. In addition to the “Auto” setting, newer cameras permit you to select “Keep White,” which reduces warm colors. A new favorite of mine is “Keep warm lighting colors.” This setting makes a lot of sense for fall photography! You also have the option to set the white balance to Kelvin and apply a specific color temperature. I capture images as RAW (NEF) files. Working in RAW permits me to run files through Nikon’s Capture NX-D software, then play with the setting to see what I like best. Shooting in RAW and using Capture NX-D is a great way to learn more about photography and your camera. The software is a free download and offers many tools to help fine tune your images.
No matter where you live or travel within the United States, the harvest season is a great time of year for photography. The light hangs lower in the sky and foliage turns dramatic. Not everyone resides in the Northeast, but I hope these few tips will help you create your best-ever seasonal photos. When setting out on your journeys, be sure to pack a camera.
Lindsay is a former Sr. Product Manager, Pro DSLR for Nikon. Early in his career Lindsay served as general manager of Nikon House in New York City’s Rockefeller Center, where he hosted some of the world’s finest photographers as well as photo enthusiasts and photo writers, editors and educators from around the world. He has held technical, marketing and product management positions for the company, and for 19 years was a contributing writer, photographer and editor of Nikon World magazine.
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