Children Photography: 17 Tips On How To Capture Stunning Shots

By: Musbahu Saaf Musa.

Children’s photography isn’t for the faint of heart. The truth is for me personally, working with children is happy and energetic chaos. Trust me, it isn’t always easy to photograph children, there are a few things to keep in mind to run a smooth session. Camera settings, content, perspectives and shooting angles, are fundamental. But the right attitude and energy will also take you a long way.

In this post, I’ve decided to give you some of the tricks I have up my sleeve that help me when I’m trying to get that perfect photograph of children.

1. Outfits and Props for Children Photography

There are many aspects of a children photography session you cannot possibly foresee, but it is worth being solid on the ones you can. Let’s start with outfits and props.

I always spend time prior to a session going back and forth with the families on their outfits. That subject alone could be worthy of a whole article, but the gist of it is:

Plain color clothing is best

Avoid bold prints, patterns or logos

Encourage accessories (hats, scarves, headbands, boots, necklaces)

If more than one child, 2-3 color tones of colors to thread through for harmony.

Two siblings wearing matching colors for a children photography session.

2. What to Bring to a Children Photography Session

Great props to include in a children photography session are 1) a favorite cuddle toy, which can serve as a comforting tool and memory capture 2) a beautiful reward snack when things go sour

3. Camera Settings for Children Photography

Whether you work indoors or out, make sure your camera settings and lighting measures/gear are as ready as can be.

Don’t count on too much time to assess once the kids are here (30-45 min overall is as good as it gets).

a. Use a Faster Shutter to Avoid Motion Blur

Your priority should be Shutter Speed. Unless you realize early on that this child is the most compliant on the surface of the Earth (which is possible, I’ve had the privilege more than once), I wouldn’t go less than 1/200 on Shutter Speed. The higher the safer, especially if you make them jump, run or throw things. Use a faster Shutter Speed to avoid motion blur.

b. Focus Mode & Burst:

If you are subjects aren’t moving much, you can use the default “single focus” mode.

However, if they are running around, it might help to be in a subject tracking focus mode such as the ‘AI Servo’ (Canon) or AF-C (Nikon, stand for continuous focus).

Setting the right focus mode is especially important if the kids are moving.

Pro Tip: Consider enabling the Burst mode, depending on what and where you are shooting. This will allow you to let them throw leaves, tickle fight, kick a ball and capture all the action.

c. Best Aperture for Children Photography Bokeh and shallow depth of field are lovely effects to have in children photography. For which you need to be in control of your Aperture.

A wider aperture (a smaller f-stop number like f/2.8 or less) gives you a narrower depth of field. This is great for blurring out the background and foreground elements or even creating bokeh.

However, make sure the subject’s eyes are in focus.

Use a shallower depth of field to blur the distractions in the background. But make sure your subject’s eyes are in focus.

On the other hand, if you wanted to include the background in focus, use a larger f-stop number like f/5.6 or bigger.

If you pair it with a wide-angle lens you can aim for full scene/full room action. Include the child’s life, his/her room, toys. Sometimes you want the background in focus for more context. Then use a large f-stop number.

4. Best Lens, Camera for Children Photography

The main requirement for a children photography lens would be how ‘fast’ it is.

A lens’ speed refers to the maximum aperture value i.e. how much it can be opened up to let light in.

A fast lens like f/1.4 to f/4 will allow you to shoot at a faster shutter speed due to more available light. Plus, it will also allow you to isolate your subject using bokeh.

For close portraits and bokeh, I prefer to use an 50mm prime. The one downfall of that lens is that you need enough backup space. Make sure your choice of lens and it’s focal range works with the environment you will be shooting in. FOr example, if you are shooting inside a room, it would be better to have a high-end zoom like the 24-105 or the 24-70.

As per camera, pretty much any DSLR or a mirrorless that allows you to shoot in RAW format with reasonable ISO performance will do.

5. Best Lighting for Children Photography

I find it easier to use natural light and no tripod, as it allows me to be more mobile and faster to adapt to the ongoing situation.

I would recommend having a fill option handy, flash/strobe or large/small modifiers (reflectors and diffusers).

If you are shooting indoor, you can shoot next to a window to be able to control the lighting. Use blinds to control the amount of light and reflectors to fill shadows as needed.

6. Be Patient: help them help you

Challenge:

Most children will be shy when walking in a photography session. Either hiding, moody or over-excited. Remember that you are a stranger to them, potentially in an unusual (or at least new) place, and you are holding an unusual object.

Solution:

Make yourself approachable and warm as soon as they walk in the door. Kneel down to their level and show your enthusiasm for their smile, their hair or their choice of clothes. Compliment them on the amazing toy they are holding or on how big they are. Connect with, ‘I thought mommy said you were 5 but you look like you are 12!’

Let them walk in and assess the space (safely, of course). Let them own the situation. ‘I set this up just for you today, I hope you like it. Mom told me you liked green.’ Reach out to them in various ways until it clicks.

7. Be Funny and Engaging

If you have children, you know what jokes to use. If you don’t, be ready to hear this.

Icebreakers:

The ‘Fart Face’ – To release someone’s tensed facial feature, you need to relax the cheeks, close the eyes and shake your face. Actors use that technique to relax facial muscles. It comes down to making a fart noise with your tongue and flappy cheeks. But you will gain a huge tension release by giving it a ‘witty’ name.

The ‘Dino Roar’ or ‘scream your funniest word’ – Tension releases with the screaming and usually breaks into a natural laugh.

A word that makes them think of mommy or daddy – You can get some great images coming out of that, even if the parents end up being the ones cracking up. If the parents laugh, the kids will too, think of it as a ‘bounce laugh’ just like a flash.

Jokes – Telling jokes makes you look accessible and friendly, so brush up on your ‘knock knock’ jokes repertoire.

How to Engage Kids:

Make faces – The faces game works great whether the children or the parents make the faces (or you!). You will get funny faces on camera, tension release or candid reactions. Just prompt them to make their best surprise face, mad face, monkey face, daddy face, it’s-my-birthday face, etc.

A child photograph where the parents make the whole family laugh. The moment before you prompt the family to make their funniest faces ends up being the one they choose.

8. Be Subtle: sneaky ways to direct their eyes

a. Use the parents as visual targets:

Ask the parents to stand close to you and direct the children to look at mommy or daddy or direct a game from there. They can hide behind you or tell a favorite bedtime story or pretend they are about to come and tickle (‘the Claw’ works wonders). You can whisper to them what they need to do to create the reaction you need.

9. Be Mobile: how low can you go?

I never realized how working out would be useful in my professional life until I had to squat for 20min straight. Children photography is best done at their level, if not ground level. Show their perspective. So, you need to get yourself there, squat, crawl, roll! You have to be quick on your feet, be ready to run around.

Usually, you have to drop the tripod for these sessions, especially outdoors. They make it harder to keep up. Which means, do not forget to keep that shutter speed up to avoid unwanted blur.

Shooting low to the ground allows the viewer to feel part of the children’s world. And close up to details such as little hands and feet, is always sure to remind tender moments leaving room for sweet reminiscing later on

10. Be Ready to Follow the Leader: let them own the session

I have found in many cases that if you give the children choices, a way to express themselves, they will be more willing to comply. Offer them to choose where they want to start, on the bench or on the grass, ‘you’re the boss, you tell us what you like best’. Or ‘ if we do a nose picking picture, can you make that sweet face for mommy after?’. You may very well find that the nose picking one is better! Choose a dress, a color, a pose. Let them own it, and let them see how great it works on the camera.

11. Be Aware:  parents are your best assistants

Be conscious of the parents’ state of mind. Even if they are not on the picture, they may be anxious. Taking care of them, helping them relax is just as important. They will often worry about time or their children misbehaving. Make them feel at ease because you need them during the shoot! You will find that the parents’ help in the games and eyes direction is priceless. Especially if you work alone.

Use the parents as a visual target: Ask the parents to stand close to you and direct the children to look at mommy or daddy or direct a game from there.

Parents should goof: Parents goofing around often creates a special moment for the kids, and they will forget about the camera instantly.

Parents are a loving presence: There is always something sweet about adding a parent’s hands or feet or blurry silhouette in a children photography image. The symbolic of the bond of family love immediately creates an emotional element. A hug, a kiss, a tender cuddle, and the camera disappears, we forget it is there and we are left with the love and the genuine. We had a few tears that day…

12. Be ‘Cheese’ Free: capture the real

Children photography ultimately is about the child in front of your camera. Candid shots and simplicity, details, funny expressions and situations, end up being the shots that parents prefer. They realize that the unconventional images reflect the true nature of their children better than the over posed and still ones. Leave the ‘cheese’ shots for school photos.

13. Be Resourceful:

You have to be ready to use any light, scene, and mood. Very few children will give you the time and patience, or the ideal situation.

So make the best of what you have on hand. Give them something to sit on or hide under. Your best chance of keeping them still is to provide an incentive.

Anything from a small chair and table, a bean bag, an apple box, a tent, a bench, a rocking horse, a log, a flower. Something to test and investigate. They will naturally gravitate around or sit on those interesting feature

14.Sense the vibe

Let the parents help. Tell them what you need, let them do all the talking. After all, they know their children best. A small helpful trick: let them take a picture themselves. Let them take a look at the camera

Take a picture of mom/dad, and show them the result.

They are almost always fascinated and will often change their mind after seeing what it is that you do with that thing!

15. Behold for the Worst-Case Scenario:

Be ready for all possibilities, but don’t be afraid! If the worst case does happen, do not take it as a failure, it is a common bump on the road. Remind the parents that it’s all ok and their children are doing great. When things go sour, you need to figure out whether it’s time for a break, a distraction, a snack, a worst-case scenario incentive, or time to say ‘we have what we need’. But keep in mind that sometimes, it’s worth shooting anyway (as long as you remain respectful). A sad face in a mommy hug has a tremendous sentimental impact.

16. Be Sensitive: shoot with empathy

Don’t judge parents or children. A photoshoot is an unusual situation for most. Parents have ideal situations in mind beforehand and worry that they are wasting time/money when things don’t go as planned. Kids are 90% of the time completely uninterested in the process or the result (although occasionally, they do enjoy checking what you just did on the back of the camera).

It won’t take you long to establish what the overall mood of the children AND the parents is. Most children will be either wide open and take the session as an activity, or completely shut down and run away from you, which will require some magic on your part (one quick piece of advice don’t run after them with the camera in your face, that just doesn’t help. At all.) Take notice and act accordingly.

17. Be Natural: show the love

Embrace the imperfection! Perfectly posed children portraits are obsolete, very 80s. Capture the mess and the chaos. Go for the hugs, kisses, cuddles, tickles, looking at parents, secrets, and whispers. It is ok to dance, scream, jump, get silly and get dirty. In the end, what you are aiming for is capturing that family’s dynamic, the children’s personality, their world, their life, their story. As a photographer, there is no better feeling than when a parent reaches out to you after seeing the pictures telling you how well you captured their children and how it made them cry of happiness.

Conclusion

When it comes to children photography, there is really one rule be ready to have fun with them. And if you don’t, then be zen. Children are fast, they are natural, they are genuine. Absorb their energy! I would love to hear about which advice was the most useful to you on your next children photography experience, and for the sake of a good laugh, feel free to share your biggest fails and what you have learned from them.

23'rd June 2020

What is a Photo Really?

This is my first post and naturally, I would love to make a confession: I’m a technophile and an art lover. So, you could guess where my passion for photography originated. At least, I checked my biases upfront.

Going further, I’ve always imagined that this generation may be the most photographed in history. My hunch wasn’t based on my passion really, but the unavoidable human connection to visual representation. Therefore, with the reality of an ubiquity of technologies and gadgets like camera phones, webcams, DSLR cameras and even CCTVs that churn out photos, an undeniable fact remains that photos have taken a full grip of our everyday living so much there is hardly a soul that could escape at least a photo in his/her lifetime (of course, I am not in any way denying that there are people that civilization talk less of photography hasn’t really breezed through them).

Evidently, photo has, in a way, crept into and defined our cultural identity as people. And understandably, this is now the driving force of many evolving multi-billion enterprises and a global industry on its own. Apart from photo equipments companies like Canon, Nikon, Sony and others, even social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, SnapChat etc are powered by the same influence of photos in our lives. Well, this may not necessarily be exclusive though.    

But what is a photo really? And why does it take an innocuous but inalienable importance in our everyday lives? My own understanding is that a photo is a visual representation that is captured through a device and which is depicted on a material. Hence, a photo is a representation of a moment that is packaged in a visual object to view and possibly, admire. I believe that every photo tells a story.  

Basically, a photo represents our memory, and the value we placed on it is a direct function of the significance that the memory holds in our lives. So, if photo has become a culture because it represents our individual identities and moments in our lives, it is essentially for the singular reason that photo captures our history and also propagates our identities, our values and even our evolution. In other words, photo essentially documents our lives; it documents our history.

Because the enterprises that thrive on capturing snippets of our lives depend on photos as a medium of their documentation, photo becomes an industry in itself and an indispensable instrument in how we see ourselves in the passage of time. The social media platforms are basically leveraging on the inherent essence of photos to build and sustain multi-billion dollar businesses, and by extension, influencing the way we live and the patterns of our evolution as humans. 

You see, photo is a good business.  However, the business of photo isn’t as important as the value it brings to our memories, which in turn build our history either as individuals and/or as a people. And without history – documented history that is – a part of us is washed away from our humanity. Consciously or otherwise, we have grown into cherishing those moments that photos document. That is the value of photos to our history and our humanity.

But the aspect of accessing cherished memories as documented by photos is where Konferge comes in. Konferge is a Nigerian tech startup in the photo ecosystem. It trades stock-photos of events in Nigeria; provides a storage platform for the photos for as long as possible; and also facilitates a marketplace for artworks. Knowing the premium people place on memories, Konferge simply provides an online convergence, where accessing and buying event photos and artworks are made easier.

The idea is simple: your events covered by our photographers/associates are uploaded onto our website; notification is sent to emails/phone numbers you provided at the events; less than 24 hours, you log-on to our site, view your photos and download for just a token. Of course, you can also order for printed photos in varying sizes that suit you and we deliver to your doorstep wherever you may be. Konferge bridges the gap of accessing and delivering your memories as captured from those events.

You don’t have to miss those beautiful photos from the memorable events either because you possibly don’t have access to the photographers that captured the moments in/memories of your history and/or you are not aware of the beautiful photos.   

You see, there is a reason why Konferge welcomes you to a world of beautiful memories.  

11'th January 2019

Finding Your Photography Path in 2019 – A Thoughtful Guide



We are in the midst of another massive shift in the photo industry with cameras becoming more affordable, and cutting edge features such as built-in Wifi, and clean ISOs up to 25,600. It all reads very well on paper, but none of it will make you a better photographer without the three essential P’s. Patience, Practice, and Pre-visualization. While these elusive qualities can’t be stocked on a shelf, they can be acquired through training. I challenge you to see past the marketing hype, and use the camera you have right now to create images that you’re proud of. The most powerful photography sensor available is not found in the camera, but within yourself. The secret lies within your ability to recognize emotion, and document it with a photo. It doesn’t matter if you’re using a DSLR, Mirrorless camera, point and shoot, or smartphone. A memorable event transcends technology.

It’s difficult to predict when or where a great photo opportunity will arise. Only by heading out with your camera often will your percentage of keepers improve. Perfection is never the goal, but simply doing your best is. Rather than settling for the same tried and true formula, challenge yourself to try new techniques. Free yourself of the notion that professionals don’t have bad days or take lousy photos. It’s all a necessary part of the artistic process. As the Hall of Fame hockey player Wayne Gretzky said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

Before reaching any breathtaking vista, you must first climb, sweat, and navigate around thickets. This type of persistence is equally important on the path to good photography. Even the greatest photographers of all time had outings that were less than ideal. Perhaps no finer example than this story from Ansel Adams. He just spent a frustrating day with “several exasperating trials.” Yet Adams wasn’t discouraged, noting that “defeat comes occasionally to all photographers, as to all politicians, and there is no use moaning about it.” He got back in the car, started driving, and soon found a majestic scene that would become one of his most famous works, Moonrise, Hernandez.

5 Reasons Your Phone Can’t Compete with a Real CameraThere’s no denying that photography is a powerful art form, just as painting, music, and sculpture are. If you look at the history of these disciplines, you’ll find another similarity. Those who enjoyed long term success did so not by following current trends, but by paving their own way. This of course is no easy feat, perhaps best expressed by Alfred de Musset who said “How glorious it is – and also how painful – to be an exception”. Whether it’s your choice of gear, or the subject matter you focus on, throw out the rule book and follow your own heart.

The way you view the world will undoubtedly impact your photography. If you’re having trouble changing your vision, simply adjust your approach. Rather than thinking like a photographer, consider yourself a visual detective. This forces one to really study the space around them while paying careful attention to details. Through our inquisitive nature, we can uncover moments and photos that most would pass by. Let curiosity guide your compositions and you will learn to see differently.

5 Reasons Your Phone Can’t Compete with a Real CameraThe grandest adventures begin with a simple desire to see something new. Maybe it’s an old forgotten Lighthouse, a new part of the city, or a rustic barn on the other side of town. Allow your passion to take you places outside of your comfort zone. For inspiration, check the local library for travel guides on your own state. Cross reference this research with online photo galleries and published reviews. You’ll quickly get a feel for what the area holds and a vision of how you’d like to capture it.

Extensive travel is not a prerequisite for creating great photographs. Often there are wonderful and willing subjects right in front of you, or just a short car ride away. Maybe it’s your own backyard garden, a flower bed, or a bird feeder. Identifying this “home base” is an important piece of your photography puzzle. It’s a no-pressure zone where you can take your time, explore creative techniques, and test new equipment. The ability to work fast is not a required characteristic of a successful photographer. In fact, speed can be a detriment if we’re only focused on the finish line. By working more deliberately, one can truly connect with their surroundings. Learning photography is actually not all that different from picking up a musical instrument. With enough repetition, the thought processes and muscle memory needed to control the camera become more natural. Practicing correctly now will help develop good habits for the long term.

5 Reasons Your Phone Can’t Compete with a Real CameraMany photographers shy away from the manual “M” mode on their camera, thinking it’s reserved for those with years of experience. The truth is, the automatic settings are typically at the root of most of my client’s technical issues. From inconsistent exposures to blurry photographs, these supposed beginner modes are anything but user-friendly. If you’re ready to take control of your camera, leave the A, S, P, AV, TV modes behind. Once you realize the unlimited creative control of the manual setting, you’ll wonder why you didn’t switch sooner.

The ingredients of any spectacular photo are only one part technical. The remaining portion takes a little more digging to uncover. Sure, the shutter speed, aperture and ISO are important. Yet, as any great chef will tell you, recipes are meant to be tinkered with. Today, we have more control over images than ever before. From in-camera settings to the digital darkroom, our pantry overflows with possible options. Rather than settling for the same tried and true formula, keep pushing yourself to learn new methods. Be bold in your experiments, and you just may stumble on a new recipe for success.

5 Reasons Your Phone Can’t Compete with a Real CameraA photographer I recently worked with asked for the best non-technical advice I could offer. The question momentarily took me off guard as it was quite the departure from the common inquiries on histograms, white balance, and aperture. My thoughts quickly shifted to the words of photographer Ernst Haas (1921 – 1986). When I was first starting out, this quote resonated deeply with me, and remains a powerful concept to this day. “There is only you and your camera. The limitations in your photography are in yourself, for what we see is what we are.” What Haas was describing is the real test of a photographer’s artistic growth. When there is no grand vista or magic light, no double rainbow or brilliant sunset, do you pack away your camera, or look harder to find the photo that everyone else passed by? Whether you’re just starting your photography pursuit, or are exploring new creative avenues, you never know what treasures will greet you around the next bend.

I had the wonderful opportunity to speak with large groups of photographers while presenting to various camera clubs in my area. When I mentioned that I no longer have Photoshop on my computer, an audible gasp follows. My goal has always been to document the fleeting moments of life. Of course I still do basic edits like cropping, contrast, and saturation adjustment using Lightroom, but that’s where it stops. National Geographic photographer Annie Griffiths writes “Photographs have given us visual proof that the world is grander than we imagined.”

“What about HDR?” someone will inevitably ask. I can only tell you from my own travels the ways in which my heart pounds while chasing the magic light of sunset over a mountain range, or witnessing the breathtaking power and grace of an animal catching its prey in the wild. It’s experiences like these that allow me to connect with a subject through my lens in a way that no post-production technique could ever recreate. My hope is for you to also experience this same joy through your own camera.

Painters work by continually applying brush strokes until their piece is complete. This additive process is actually quite different from how photographers compose images. Through the lens, we’re tasked to remove any unnecessary elements in order to best express our vision. This method of subtraction can seem counterintuitive at first. Yet, as Paulo Coelho said, “Elegance is achieved when all that is superfluous has been discarded and the human being discovers simplicity and concentration: the simpler and more sober the posture, the more beautiful it will be.”

5 Reasons Your Phone Can’t Compete with a Real CameraPeople often ask how I got started in the photography industry. The journey began long before landing my first paid gig. Each weekend I gave myself unofficial assignments, showing up at local sporting events with two cameras dangling from my neck. These uncrowded sidelines were an ideal place to practice, build my skills, and assemble a portfolio. This collection of prints would ultimately be presented to a newspaper editor who decided to hire me. While I was now “official”, it was really just a continuation of what I was already doing. This made it easier for the editor to take a chance on me. I believe it’s best to create your own opportunities rather than waiting for something to happen. Ultimately, the work you put in now, will be rewarded later.

I spend a lot of time in the garden, preparing the soil for a healthy crop of vegetables and herbs. While rewarding, it’s definitely not the type of instant gratification we’ve all become accustomed to. In fact, most of these plants won’t produce anything for at least 30-45 days. Similarly, there are periods like this in my photography career. Behind the scenes I spend a great deal of time researching shooting locations, planning road trips, organizing hard drives, and studying new techniques. This groundwork may not be glamorous, but it’s essential to clear the path for the photos yet to be made. When tackling any tall task, it’s best to work in small steps, making a little progress each day. I call them micro-movements. Your efforts will be fruitful as you gradually grow into your full artistic potential.

5 Reasons Your Phone Can’t Compete with a Real CameraMany of the photographers I work with capture remarkable images that are certainly worthy of the “professional quality” label. Some of these clients have considered changing careers to follow their passion, but are missing one key ingredient to do so. This important element is something you won’t read about in a photography magazine, or see on a forum. It’s not a fast lens, or a clever camera strap. No, these are all superficial elements that anyone with a credit card can buy. The secret for a successful photography career all boils down to one thing, confidence. If there is a technique that scares you, now is the time to learn it. With the roadblock pushed aside, you can see your goals more clearly and continue the path ahead. To succeed as a professional, one must retain the spirit of an amateur. The literal definition means, “doing something for pleasure, or the love of.” Thankfully, we don’t need a dictionary to follow our hearts. When you are enthusiastic about what you’re shooting, it translates to the viewer. Photography after all, is a universal language we can all relate to.

Article by Chris Corradino (https://www.nyip.edu/photo-articles/fun-stuff-for-photographers/finding-your-photography-path-in-2019-a-thoughtful-guide)

13'th December 2018

How to Boost Your Creativity with Lightroom Presets

There are many divisive points in the photography world – brand versus brand, film versus digital, and minimal editing versus Photoshop. The one that seems to have a fervent dislike is the use of Presets in Lightroom. Find any post on presets and people line up in the comments to judge and criticize anyone who uses them. People get told they are lazy, that their images all look the same ala Instagram filters and so on.

Up to a point they are right – anything overused becomes a short-lived fad. If all you ever do in your editing is use canned settings and don’t learn even the basics, then I agree with them.

Many people make the mistake of thinking that applying a Preset (or a filter) makes a bad photo better, but hopefully, Instagram has taught us better by now. Instead, think of Presets as tools to help you automate your process, make you faster and more efficient at editing.

Still, there’s a lot of potential and possibilities that presets offer us. Let’s explore that idea!

(Note:  While this article specifically addresses Creativity with Lightroom Presets, the same principles apply for any other program that allows presets, including Photoshop Actions)

2 - How to Boost Your Creativity with Lightroom Presets

This is the same image as the header but this features a preset which deepens the green tones and desaturates the image, toning down the yellow. I like this much more than the original which is true to life.

The Benefits of Using Lightroom Presets

1. Saves Time

You can spend hours on editing just one image if you want to. However, most of us don’t have the luxury of that much time. Nor do customers want to pay that much for their images.

My recommendation is you should do a basic edit for each image to suit its requirements. However, if you want a specific look or a consistent style to your images, imagine how much more time you have with just being able to click a preset to finish it off?

Some images take more time to edit. You can allow extra time for those images by utilizing presets on the easier ones.

Of the two images below, the top image is an unedited RAW File, while the second image is a processed image using Presets.

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2. Easy and Fun

Why do people judge you for doing something that is easy?  Does everything have to be complicated and involved? Can’t it be fun too?

Not everyone has time to fully understand and master every setting and option within Lightroom (or any other program). Presets can allow you to quickly and efficiently apply complex effects.

It’s also fun to experiment with new styles.

3. Consistency

If you have a shoot where the subject/light/tones are all similar, you can achieve a consistent finish for the final image by applying a preset. You can also make one specifically to suit the shoot if required.

Besides, if you have done a series of tweaks to your image, do you remember exactly what you did and what the settings were?  Do you remember everyone to add to lots more images manually? Yes, you can write it all down or pull it out of the ‘history,’ but there’s no need.

Of the two images below, the top image is an unedited RAW File, while the second image is a processed image using Presets.

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4. Customizable

You can easily create your own presets in Lightroom and save them for using repeatedly. Alternatively, you can create one that only works for a specific shoot. Presets are also available to buy pre-configured for all kinds of different finishes.

Once you have applied the preset, you can continue to edit and refine the look. Depending on the settings, you can stack multiple presets on top of each other for a unique outcome.

There are many different ways to use and apply presets, and you can get a sophisticated outcome quickly and easily even when you may not fully understand all the capabilities of the software.

5.  Different Functions can have Presets

For your editing functions, the primary use for Presets is in the ‘Develop’ module. However, you can create presets that apply to Metadata, or when you Import or Export images. This process can help you apply copyright information or customer information to images, or quickly change the export settings depending on requirements. For example, print versus web use.

Of the two images below, the top image is an unedited RAW File, while the second image is a processed image using Presets.

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So, can I just use Presets for everything?

Presets are not a magic one-click fix. Each preset reacts differently with individual images. It is essential to understand the basics of your program because some editing is necessary.

However, if you only want to use presets, no one is going to stop you. Do you want to make that choice though?

Can people tell if you are not entirely in control of your editing software?  Yes. In general, experienced people can tell.

That said, I strongly recommend that everyone should have a solid understanding of the basic features their editing program has so they know enough to be able to edit without relying on presets. If you are using presets, you should understand how you can further tweak and improve the effect.

Please note that not all presets are created equal. Some are better designed and, when applied, provide a more polished effect.

Of the two images below, the top image is an unedited RAW File, while the second image is a processed image using Presets.

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Freedom to be Creative

One of the most powerful things Presets can do is take us out of our comfort zone and show us new possibilities in the way we edit images. Humans are creatures of habit, so once we find the comfortable place that we can generate images of acceptable quality, we are likely to settle in there.

Maybe we don’t know everything the program can do? Perhaps we don’t understand how we can apply this feature here on top of that function there. For example, how many people fully understand Split Toning?

What if we didn’t need to understand absolutely EVERY function and feature in our software? Maybe we simply don’t have the time. What if we could understand enough to be able to use the necessary bits and then use the knowledge someone else has created to add that extra dimension to our editing?

What if we CAN try a new look with one click? Maybe a purple-toned one, then a matte-finish one, and a black and white one? We can compare a whole heap of different processes.

Maybe by trying out Presets, we can learn more about the software’s capabilities? Perhaps it can give us more confidence to shoot in a different style, taking advantage of the new editing prospects.

Breakdown of an Edit

In the screenshot below it shows the final edit of the clematis flower (Before and After images featured above).

As you can see, after Import, the next step is ‘Paste Settings.’ This is where I have copied the Preset and some adjustments made on a previous image in the shoot.

A further 19 steps have been taken to enhance and finalize this image to achieve the desired outcome.

Could I have stopped after the first ‘Paste Settings?’  Absolutely.

Was it the best that image could have looked?  Not in my opinion. So, I spent the time I had saved using a preset to do further fiddly little tweaks and refinements.

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Using Presets Creatively

This winter landscape of frost-crusted rocks, icicles, and what I can assure you was freezing water, was already quite blue-toned. The blue tone was due to the 10-stop filter I used to achieve long exposure on the water.

I liked how the blue tone emphasized the cold crisp winter feel so I decided to use it to set the whole mood for this image.  A blue-toned, slightly matte finish preset helped boost that aspect of the process. It added more brightness on the whites, deepened the shadows a touch and added a bit of clarity for extra crispness.

I could have completely changed the color space to natural daylight, but seeing this blue tone inspired me to follow that direction further. I knew I had a preset that would do interesting things to the blue tones and it worked better than expected.

Of the two images below, the top image is an unedited RAW File, while the second image is a processed image using Presets.

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I tend towards darker, moody edits. So, using Presets for an image helps me see different possibilities quickly. With a few clicks, I can assess what is suited to a high-key edit, a desaturated, matte edit, a neutral, natural edit, or perhaps black and white one.

Sometimes I strike gold and end up with something delightfully unexpected (like the green currants at the top of this article). It never fails to amaze me how much scope Lightroom has to do things I don’t fully understand yet. However, using presets has taught me a great deal, and I am slowly unpacking them, figuring it out and beginning to make my own Presets now.

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Conclusion

Lightroom (and other editing programs) offer a lot of functions and scope for editing your images. Many people don’t have the time to learn all the features and capabilities in detail. It can be frustrating when you are learning how to use it.

Presets give you access to features within the software without needing to know exactly how to implement them manually.

Using Presets allows even novice users the ability to be creative and experiment with different styles and looks to their editing. More experienced users can create their own presets, or utilize purchased ones in their editing process. They save time and can make your editing process more efficient as well.

Presets offer you the opportunity to try a style that is different to what you typically create. Alternatively, perhaps you want to dabble and see how an image turns out with a range of edits. Using Presets can also help you learn more about the program by showing more of its capabilities.

While Presets can be overused, or not used to best effect, they also offer many advantages. Provided they are used as part of your process, and not as a magic solution, Presets can be a valuable tool.

Finally, playing with them is fun. Being able to experiment safely and easily with one click of a button gives you the latitude to be brave while considering new editing styles.

13'th December 2018

How do Continuous Lights Work?

Before diving into artificial lighting techniques, we recommend you fully master your ability to work with natural light. You should understand all the qualities of light, how to identify them and how to use them to your advantage.

Once you’re comfortable with natural light, it’s time to expand your compositional arsenal to include artificial lighting setups and techniques.

You’re probably already familiar with flash photography- a camera flash is something even the most amateur of hobbyists can associate with taking a picture. But what about equipment that emits light the entire time they’re being used- not just in brief bursts?

How do Continuous Lights Work?That’s what continuous lights are for. These expert photography tools are extremely powerful and provide photographers with great flexibility because of how portable they are. In the past, these lights were so strong that they’d actually get incredibly hot to the touch while being used. Luckily, technology has come a long way and there are now super convenient continuous lighting units on the market today that are cool to the touch no matter how long you’ve been working with them on.

Generally, a continuous light isn’t something you’d likely use during a nature photography shoot, when capturing the natural light is part of the ambiance you’re trying to encapsulate in your image. However, they can be incredibly helpful for say, a wedding held in a dimly lit interior venue where it’s otherwise incredibly hard to capture partygoer’s faces without some supplementary gear.

Learn More about Lighting for Photography

Beyond that, continuous lights are really popular among portrait photography professionals. Since they’re really portable nowadays, it offers a lot of creative freedom when you’re working in a studio. You can really move the unit around, raise or lower it, readjust it’s angle, then gaze through your viewfinder to see exactly how the lighting you’ve created will look, all before ever clicking the shutter.

Artcile By Michelle Ecker (https://www.nyip.edu/photo-articles/cameras-and-gear/how-do-continuous-lights-work)

23'rd October 2018