Be aware that the following photography technique is highly advanced. It requires more than a basic knowledge of Adobe Photoshop and manual photography. You’ll need to bring these two skills together to get the desired result. So, if you think you’re ready to give it a try, please read on.
Before we dive too deep into the specifics of this technique, I find it helpful to give you an overall idea of what we’ll be doing. The technique involves three steps that, when executed properly, give us a good result. Here’s what they are.
1.) Setup your camera and tripod on location. Pick a low traffic area where you’re likely to get images with the smallest amount of people possible.
2.) Take between 15 and 30 photos of the landscape you want, within a time interval of about fifteen minutes. By doing this, you’re giving Photoshop a bunch of data it can use to come up with a people-free shot.
3.) Use photoshop to take the statistical average of the pictures, a result that is always “people free.” Not even tourists stay in the same place for much time. The average section of the photo shouldn’t have any people in it, especially if you’ve taken a lot of pictures.
The key to doing this well is to use manual mode. That way, you lock in some very consistent exposure settings, meaning all of your photos will have roughly the same brightness. You really can’t use any of your camera’s automatic modes when you’re attempting to do this trick because your camera will a pick slightly different shutter speed and aperture combination each time you take a picture. As the clouds move by, it will expose the image differently.
I usually pick the aperture first because I want these types of photos to turn out sharp. In most cases, you’ll want to pick an aperture somewhere between F11 and F22, something that will give you a large depth of field. After that, you can use your camera’s built-in light meter to pick a shutter speed that will give you just the right amount of brightness. Before you start taking a bunch of pictures, experiment and look at your LCD a few times to make sure you’ve gotten the exposure right.
Now start taking shots. The idea is to make sure most of your landscape is not full of tourists, so don’t take any shots when lots of people are in the shot. Also, if you can, take shots when people are in different parts of the photo. That will make sure the average process we’ll do next in Photoshop works correctly.
Once you’ve got the 30 or so pictures you’ll be using, you need to open up all of your images in Photoshop CS. Next, go to the file menu and pick scripts –> statistics. At this point, a dialog box will pop up, showing the different modes. You’ll want to select “Choose stacks” mode, and then, select “median” and exit.
Here’s what you just did. You told Photoshop to average all 30 of those images together to make a single image. Pretty cool, eh? Interestingly, even when it’s crowded, people move in and out of a place quite quickly. On average, most sections of your photo won’t have people in them, and that’s why this technique works.
But there is one caveat. Clouds are quite different from people. Clouds hang around a little more. You shouldn’t have a problem if you have slow-moving high clouds throughout the day, but the faster moving ones can confuse the Photoshop averaging method. In that case, the ground will look as it should, but the sky will be a blur.
Thankfully, you can very easily fix this problem by taking one of the skies from any of your 30 photos and pasting it over the jumbled and messy sky Photoshop creates. See my video tutorial for tips on how to do this.
And that’s all there is to this amazing trick. I never thought photo editing software had the power to do such a thing, but I’m always surprised with what people come up with. If you use this technique to take some tourist-free images
Want to take a group photo but don’t have a place to set the camera? Just whip the lamp shade off a lamp and screw your camera onto the lampshade-holder.
The thread size of the bolt on a lamp shade is exactly the same size as the filter thread used on tripods, so your camera will easily attach.
Not only will your party and indoor pictures look better, but you’ll look like MacGyver in front of the group. Not bad.
Shooting photos of kids can be quite the feat. It seems like they are interested in looking at everything BUT the camera. I have two kids of my own, and I know that the only way to get them to smile and look at the camera is with a good bribe.
The perfect solution is to buy a simple PEZ dispenser on the hotshoe of your camera! The base of the PEZ dispenser is a tiny bit wider than a standard hotshoe, so you’ll have to trim it just slightly with a kitchen knife before the shoot. Then, when the kids are being good and looking at the PEZ dispenser, you can have them come up and grab a little candy periodically during the shoot. It’s pure genius.
Celebration Of High-Speed PhotographyThis post is supposed to provide you with some inspiration of what can be done with high-speed photography. It also showcases some truly stunning slow-motion videos.
DIY – High Speed Photography at HomeThis guide describes how to capture super fast movements using ordinary camera gear and a little home made electronics. It describes the setup used, the common problems and what can be done to solve them.
Home-Made High Speed Photography (PDF)Pictures of high-speed events such as popping balloons, breaking glass, and splashing liquids reveal interesting structures not visible to the naked eye. With this guide you can take your own high-speed photos to captures these ephemeral events. A very detailed tutorial.
Quick guide to Simple High Speed Macro PhotographyThis is a quick tutorial to get you started with high speed photography. There are tons of other resources on the web, but most of them are advanced and require special equipment. This one is simple and basic.
Tilt-shift photography refers to the use of camera movements on small- and medium-format cameras; it usually requires the use of special lenses.
“Tilt-shift” actually encompasses two different types of movements: rotation of the lens relative to the image plane, called tilt, and movement of the lens parallel to the image plane, called shift. Tilt is used to control the orientation of the plane of focus (PoF), and hence the part of an image that appears sharp; it makes use of the Scheimpflug principle. Shift is used to change the line of sight while avoiding the convergence of parallel lines, as when photographing tall buildings.
Another, less cost-intensive technique called “tilt-shift miniature faking” is a process in which a photograph of a life-sized location or object is manipulated so that it looks like a photograph of a miniature-scale model.
Tilt-Shift Photography Photoshop TutorialThis tutorial was produced using Photoshop CS2 on a PC.
Receding HairlineWith very little effort, you can take existing photographs of everyday scenes and make them look like miniature models.
Free Auto Tilt-Shift Photoshop ActionPlug-and-play solution for preparing your photos.
Beautiful Black and White PhotographyOne of the most beautiful inspirational posts on Smashing Magazine, featuring over 50 brilliant works from photographers across the globe.
5 Black and White Photography TipsA short, but useful article by by Darren Rowse, featuring shoot in RAW, low ISO and other techniques. You may also consider reading the articles Key Ingredients for Black and White Images
Black and White Photography GuideBlack and white photography starts before the shot is even taken. In this article you’ll find some quick tips on what to look for to ensure the perfect black and white landscape – e.g. camera settings for black and white photography and what filters are good for black and white landscapes.
Digital Black and WhiteThis site features professional photography articles written by Keith Cooper. It covers black/white-photography-techniques, image manipulation techniques, tools, articles and camera reviews.
The Top 5 Black & White Photography TipsFive handy tips to get you going in the right direction: practice, focus on contrast, focus on texture, use color filters and more. If you want to learn more about the actual black and white conversion process in Photoshop, see the article 12 Ways to Make a Black & White Photo as well.
45 Beautiful Motion Blur PhotosA showcase of motion blur photos. Motion blur is frequently used to show a sense of speed. You can artificially achieve this effect in a usual scene using cameras with a slow shutter speed. Also Adobe Photoshop can be used for this purpose, though sometimes images may look unnatural and unprofessional.
How to Capture Motion Blur in PhotographyCapturing movement in images is something that many photographers only need to do when photographing sports or other fast-moving events.
Professional-Looking Motion-Blur Effect for Your Images“In this tutorial we’re going to show you how to create a very popular motion blur effect used in many magazine and various other professionally crafted images.”
Photoshop Tutorials: Create Silky Smooth Waterfalls“In this Adobe Photoshop tutorial, we’re going to look at how to give waterfalls a silky smooth appearance, as if the photo were taken with a longer exposure, which would normally require the use of a neutral density filter.”
Long Exposure PhotosLong exposure can be used to create very interesting photographs. It can be used, for example, to create a bright photo in low-light conditions or to create motion blur for moving elements in a photograph
40 Incredible Near-Infrared PhotosA showcase of near-infrared photography. Near-infrared images straight out of the camera do not always look good and are usually not as dramatic and beautiful as normally captured images. Hence, a lot of post-processing is done to enhance these images.
Infrared Photography with a Digital Camera Thanks to digital photography, we can take infrared pictures whenever we please, mix them with “normal” ones and see the results on the spot, tweaking the settings to our heart’s desire.
InfraRed photographyA specialized IR portal, with gallery and forum.
LifePixelRich collection of manuals, how-to and do-it-yourself guides.
Beyond VisibleWebsite about IR, UV and luminescence photography. Here you can found plenty of theory and useful information about IR adaptors for flashlights. Among the resources is a huge collection of links related to invisible light photography.
Infrared (IR)A gallery with a number of amazing IR photos.
Infrared photographyHuge article with a number of useful links. Nearly complete list of IR filters and digital cameras that can be updated for IR shooting.
60 Beautiful Examples Of Night Photography60 amazing examples of night photography, created by some hard-working and dedicated photographers. Take a look at their websites and portfolios.
The NocturnesThe Nocturnes is an organization dedicated to night photography. Founded by Tim Baskerville in San Francisco in 1991, it has grown to become the premier source of information and education on night photography, as well as an international community for night photographers.
Lost America night photographyWandering the deserted backroads of the American Southwest, Troy Paiva has explored the abandoned underbelly of America since the 1970s. Since 1989 he’s been taking pictures of it… at night, by the light of the full moon.
Long Exposure Night Photography This article shows you how to take pictures of night scenes with no moving objects.
Night Photography by David BaldwinNight photography of landscapes and architecture.
“Strangers in the night”How-to guide for night photography with point-and-shoot cameras.
MalekTips (removed due to errors)Some solutions for avoiding typical problems with night photography.
Learn Night PhotographyQuick and dirty guide to defining exposure time for typical night subjects.
Night Landscape PhotographyCapture stunning landscape images during the black of night.
Smoke Photography and Smoke ArtA round-up of some of the best examples of photos and artworks where smoke dominates.
Smoke Art Photography – An IntroductionThis articles features smoke art photography tips from Stoffel De Roover; it describes the typical setup, important techniques and necessary adjustments for a perfect smoke art photo.
Smoke Art: Professional’s NotesPersonal photography notes from Graham Jeffery that are part instruction, and part a description of his own technique, and a few things that he has discovered along the way.
Photographing SmokeThe interview with Graham Jefferey, of Sensitive Light fame (see the link above), with interesting insights into practice and handy tips and tricks. Learn how to get the smoke right, how to set up the perfect lighting and exposure and how to manipulate images digitally.
How to photograph smoke – Photography podcastThis podcast talks about how to photograph smoke in a professional way. It discusses photographing different types of smoke including incense, outdoor smoke and liquid nitrogen.
How to: Smoke PhotographyThis simple guide describes a set up for smoke art photography.
Smoke photography video tutorialVideo tutorial on smoke photography.
Make: How-To Smoke PhotographyLearn how to create and shoot sculptures made with smoke and how to paint with smoke.
25 Beautiful Macro Photography ShotsA round-up of some truly revealing and inspiring macro photographs which are sure to have you marveling at the world around you.
Introduction to Macro PhotographySet-up and camera settings for macro photography (8-minute video).
Reversing Lenses for Macro PhotographyA guide to building a lens for extreme macro shooting.
Woven ShadowsDigital photography video tutorial (48 MB).
Macro photographyA round-up of gadgets that will help you move really close to your subject.
Captain’s European Butterfly GuideEngaging guide for this special kind of hunting (of course, you can use it outside of Europe, too).
Macro Photography Tips for Point and Shoot Digital CamerasMost of the articles here are geared to DSLR owners. But they are also useful for macro photography with compact cameras, too.
Extreme Macro Photography on a BudgetDIY extreme macro lens with a Pringles container.
Macrophoto Journal on deviantARTA number of excellent photos, forums and technical articles.
Macro Photography TutorialShort review on insect shooting, and amazing photos by M. Plonsky, PhD.
If you don’t like these kinds of photos, please move along. No complaints will be accepted.
35 Fantastic HDR PicturesThis post covers 35 beautiful and perfectly executed HDR pictures. Some of them may look surreal, too colorful, even magic or fake, but they are not. Keep in mind that they’ve all been developed from normal photos; not a single image is an illustration.
HDR TutorialHDR how-to guide, mostly related to Mac users.
HDR: High Dynamic Range PhotographyHDR how-to guide with Photoshop CS2
In-Camera HDR detailed tutorialYouTube video tutorial
My HDR TutorialClear tutorial on using your digital camera, Photomatix and Photoshop, by Markus Linke.
HDR tutorialTutorial on HDR with free-of-charge software GIMP and Qtpfsgui
HDR TutorialTutorial on HDR with Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop CS2 and Photomatix Pro
A raw image file contains minimally processed data from the image sensor. Raw image files are sometimes called digital negatives, because they serve the same role as negatives in film photography. But unlike negatives, these files need much more processing.
RAW vs. JPEG: The Real StoryYou can take the RAW image file and make all of your choices about size, color, contrast, etc., and then output it to a new original each time (which might be a JPEG). This is greatly aided by the fact that there’s 12-bit color. The software can make easier choices and less compromises.
Digital camera RAW converter comparisionThis article is not an in-depth analysis of seven different programs. The goal is to give the reader an overview of each program’s features and capabilities and to provide reasonably accurate image comparisons. With Canon 1Ds Mk II, Canon 400D XTi, Canon 50D and Nikon D300 images
Choosing RAW Image Processing SoftwareThe most expensive multi-function RAW processing software is not always the best for converting the wide range of current RAW image file formats.
RAW Processing Workflow Using Phase One’s Capture One 4Capture One 4 is more than just a rewritten version of Phase One’s Capture One LE. It offers improved speed and quality of RAW conversion, and it builds on its strengths as a RAW-processing workflow tool.
Aperture, Lightroom and Capture One review:
A full-range review of three of the most popular and powerful tools for RAW processing
Lightroom Presets: The Ultimate Free List“The biggest, most updated list of free Adobe Lightroom presets. It’s true you can have too many, but this is the best jumping-off point for finding new presets. Taste as many as you like, then tell us your favorites.” Note that the presets don’t work with RAW and JPEG files the same.
A panorama — or panoramic photo — is usually made by stitching several pictures taken with the same camera into one.
How To: Panoramic PhotographyMaking a panoramic photo really is only taking the pictures, stitching them together on your computer. The more effort and attention you put into the first step, the easier the second step will be and the more realistic your final photo will look.
Taking Panoramic Landscapes – The Easy SolutionPanoramas have a reputation for being hard to take. Dedicated panorama cameras are available, but unless you’ve got at least $1000 to spare, you probably can’t afford one! But you can take panoramas with any kind of camera.
Digital Photography Tutorial – Panorama Stitching“Many digital cameras, even some budget-priced pocket compacts, have a feature known as “Panorama Stitching” mode. If you haven’t experimented with it yet, it is designed to help with a particular type of photograph, or rather series of photographs, in which successive shots are taken as the camera is panned across a scene.”
Building Panoramic Images in The GIMPPanoramic landscapes make for some amazing photos. There’s nothing like the relaxation and tranquility felt when gazing over the sweeping wilderness, save for the hassle of actually getting there. Using a digital camera, it’s possible to stitch photos together to simulate the expensive effects of a landscape filter.
The easy way is to use Pandora. Pandora is a plug-in for The GIMP that tries to match the edges of the photos, using a best guess at where one photo ends and the next begins.
Guide To Architectural PhotographyDespite architecture’s diversity there are a number of simple rules that apply in most situations, or will at least get you thinking more deeply about how you can best portray a particular piece of architecture.
Fixing photos shot from airplanesOne of the cool things about getting a window seat in an airplane is that you get a unique opportunity to photograph things from a high vantage point. On the flip side, when you get home, you often find the photos look washed out and the color poor. Luckily, there is not much that Photoshop can’t recover, provided that the photographs are in focus.
DIY Lighting Hacks for Digital Photographers“Lighting can be the difference between a good shot and a great one. Walk into most professional photographers’ studios, and you’ll be confronted with truckloads of lighting equipment. To the average hobby photographer, it’s enough to make your mind boggle — and make your stomach turn as you think about the cost of it all.
In this post, I’ve found 10 DIY flash and lighting hacks that put some of these lighting techniques within the grasp of the rest of us.”
Lighting simulatorA great tool to plan and test your portrait lighting with one light source, with fill light if wished
FAQ: Photo FiltersOptical filters function in digital photography much as they do in film work. Properly used, they can condition the light entering the camera in favorable ways — often in ways that post-processing can’t easily duplicate.
10 Top Photography Composition RulesThis post reviews important rules of good photography, such as Rules of Thirds, balancing elements, leading lines, symmetry and patterns, viewpoint, background, depth, framing, cropping and experimentation.
Believe it or not, you don't have to own super expensive equipment or be some kind of camera wiz to take high quality camera shots like these...
... but all those hotdog pro photographers out there will NEVER reveal their secrets to you...
... so I'm about to do it for you.
Don't take my word for that though - here's what just one person had to say:
If you've ever wanted to:
Then you need to keep reading because everything's going to be revealed on this page...
... and here's the best part:
Because of the practical shortcut secrets you're about to find out, you'll quickly be able to skip the "amateur photographer" stage that usually takes years to get past... and you'll be a much better photographer from the very next time you take a shot.
Here's the deal -
If you want to be able to take the really cool photos - those crazy special effects images others just can't figure out - what I'm about to share with you will blow your mind...
... in fact, you'll probably be a little annoyed that nobody told you this stuff before.
You see, there are a handful of simple, easy techniques that can totally transform how you use and view your camera - and they're so quick to grasp, they'll make a difference for you the very next time you snap a picture.
Trouble is, the ranks of highly paid professionals out there don't like to share.
So up until now, the only alternative has been to take expensive college or evening courses, and buy a ton of pricey equipment.
And I don't know about you, but I don't have thousands of dollars to throw at new cameras, lights, and to enroll in courses.
So I learned the hard way.
You see, I'm an obsessive photographer.
I'm one of those guys who constantly takes pictures. I drive people crazy, always snapping something. You know?
And I like to experiment - always have.
Trouble was, I wanted to take all these cool shots, and I had all these great ideas... but I didn't know how to get started... and I didn't think I had all the specialist equipment I'd need...
... so I had to experiment.
I Had No Choice - I Didn't Have Money To Burn, So I HAD To Figure Out This Stuff On A Shoestring
And I did it, through necessity. I'm passionate about this stuff, and I couldn't rest until I could get the kinds of pictures I wanted to get.
Ever hang around at Flickr.com or DeviantaART.com?
I wanted to be able to do some of the photography tricks I saw people doing there. All those cool visual effects, that out of this world stuff - I needed to know how it was done.
And I guess you could say I got a little obsessive - but that's okay. Photography is my passion, and if you've been bitten by the bug, you'll know what it feels like to have that burning need to get just the right shot.
Eventually, all the crazy experimentation started to pay off. My photography buddies started asking how I was taking my pictures, what techniques, what equipment...
... and I'd be creating crazy images like this just using my plain old digital camera, while everybody was assuming I was using Photoshop.
And eventually, I was getting so many people asking me how I did all this stuff, that I put together a simple guide revealing everything.
Thousands of people all over the world have downloaded the guide, and used it to finally get the shots they want...
... and I've just updated it, and released the second edition.
Trick Photography & Special Effects 2nd Edition - Your complete instructional guide on taking breathtaking special effects shots and cool images your friends won't believe... It comes with 295 pages of instruction, 9 hours of how-to video tutorials, and contains over 300 creative photographs created by some of the most talented photographic artists around the world.It's time for you to skip the months and years of being one of those enthusiast photographers - you know those poor guys who read all the magazines but doesn't have enough time to invest in getting the skills he really wants...... you'll be skipping past that stage totally, and getting right to the point where you're an accomplished photographer, taking pictures that blow everybody away.
You see, I'm impatient.
I've got no time for that kind of learning. So I'm going to teach you the exact same shortcuts I used to become a skilled, effective photographer in no time flat.
You're going to be jumping over all the frustrations and difficulty, all the mystery of not knowing where to start, and instead getting right to the point where you can easily take the kinds of shots you've been dying to take your whole life.
You know what I mean, shots like this:
In Trick Photography and Special Effects, you're going to be shown my hardcore, best kept secrets for taking spectacular photos that have to be seen to be believed.
... things like:
This amazing guide will show you exactly how to break through the ranks of "ordinary" photographers and become the person who takes shots that amaze everybody.
And if you're thinking it's all about buying a ton of different lenses and then memorizing a million different camera settings and a bunch of other dry stuff like that...
... Wouldn't You Rather Skip All That & Get Results Immediately, With The Equipment You Already Have?
Chances are, the camera and everything you already have is enough for some excellent shots.
... I'll talk you through exactly what you should get if you want to upgrade, and why.
... I'll show you how to put together some of your own stuff that will let you create some of the most amazing pictures you've ever seen.
That's what I designed this guide for - to let regular people take amazing photographs by handing them the photography tricks and backdoor secrets to get it done without all that fancy equipment and a Visual Arts degree.
For example, you'll see how you can use a simple piece of household cleaning equipment and a basic entry-level DSLR to create this awesome image:
In fact, your photos are going to be so amazing (starting just a few minutes from now), people flat out won't believe you took them, until they see it with their own eyes.
For example, you'll see exactly how one tiny tweak to your camera can generate oustanding images like this:
And That's All Great, But There's One Other Thing You Must Know...
As well as showing you exactly how to make great "light painting" images like this,
and tons of other cool pictures like these...
... I'm also going to show you how to use Adobe® Photoshop® software to improve your shots and create visual effects that are simply out of this world...
I'm talking about super-cool images like these:
I want to put this photograph in first place to show that you don't need to have expensive camera and equipments to create excellent photographs with breath taking photography effects. You just need to have any kind of dslr camera to learn and apply these techniques.
You can take increadible photographs with using simple things. For example, this photograph looks complicated and difficult to take, but it is really very simple photograph if you use right techniques. For this photograph, entry-level digital SLR camera, light source and laser are used.The result is amazing with the right technique which are very simple to apply.
You can create more photograph with this photography technique. Once you learn the basic idea of the photography effects, your creativity will make you a good photographer.
This is really amazing photograph. You will learn how to increase the number of the item with usin basic tools.
This is another great technique to take photograph. You will learn how to turn the world 360 degrees.
Everybody thinks that this photograph is prepared by Photoshop, but once they heard that Photoshop was not used to create this photograph, they really amazed. It is very powerful photography technique you will easily learn.
This phograph is taken with infrared photography technique. You actually use the infrared leds to catch shot something like that.
You can easily rotate the persperctive with using technique I will mention about. This shot is amazing, everytime I look at this photograph, I confused and amazed. Star rain is also amazing shot, and you will learn all the details about them.
This is an awesome trick for travel photographers. Sometimes you’re at an amazing location, but there are people in the way of your shot. If you want to take a picture of a landmark and people are in your shot, you will likely spend the rest of your adult life cloning people out of the shot unless you try this technique.
Step 1: Set your camera on a tripod.
Step 2: Take a picture about every 10 seconds until you have about 15 shots, depending on how fast people are walking around.
Step 3: Open all the images in Photoshop by going to File > Scripts > Statistics. Choose “median” and select the files you took.
Step 4: Bam! Photoshop finds what is different in the photos and simply removes it! Since the people moved around, it fills the area where someone was standing with part of another photo where no one was there.
UPDATE: The “statistics” script mentioned here is only available in Photoshop Extended or in the Creative Cloud version of Photoshop; however, as someone mentioned in the comments, you can get a somewhat similar effect in recent versions of Photoshop Elements by going to Enhance > Photomerge > Scene Cleaner.
This tip is mentioned in an outdated article on lifehacker.
We all love to see beautiful bokeh in the background of our photos, but what you may not know is there is a really simple way that you can change the shape of the light bursts in your bokeh.
All you have to do is cut out a piece of black paper the size of the front element on your lens. Then, use a sharp kitchen knife or razor blade to cut a shape on in the middle of the paper. The shape should be slightly larger than a thumbnail or about the size of a U.S. nickel.
Keep in mind that you’ll only see this effect work if you are shooting with a large aperture, so a 50mm f/1.8 would be a great choice for this project. If you’re shooting at f/5.6 on a kit lens, you likely won’t see the effect at all.
Sometimes when I’m shooting outdoor portraits, I see a pose or an expression for the model that makes me wish we were in the studio so I could photograph them on a white background. Sometimes a white background is the best way to focus all attention in the photo on the model, and it gives the photo a bright and clean look. When I’m in this situation, I often grab a simple $25 reflector and use it as a studio backdrop on the spot!
The trick for making this technique work is to use positive exposure compensation. The camera will try and dim down the white background to a dull gray because it thinks the white is overexposed. About 1 stop of exposure compensation will make the reflector background look bright white. If you’re still learning to shoot in manual mode or how exposure compensation works, you might take a look at my beginner photography class that I offer online.
This is my all-time favorite landscape photography tip because I use it all the time and most people have never heard it before. When shooting landscapes, the sky is often much brighter than the rest of the landscape so you need something to darken down just that top part of the photo. A graduated neutral density filter does exactly that.
A GND filter is a piece of glass that is darkened at the top and which gradually tapers off to clear. The photographer simply holds this filter in front of the lens to cover the sky and it darkens the sky without affecting the landscape underneath.
Call me forgetful, but I often forget to bring my GND filter with me when I’m shooting landscapes, and it can ruin the shoot if I can’t darken down the sky to balance the exposure. One trick I’ve learned is that you can simply use anything dark (a black piece of paper, a camera strap, etc) to hold in front of the lens for part of the exposure and the same thing is accomplished.
For example, while filming video tutorials for my intermediate online photography class, I was shooting waterfalls in Oregon and needed to darken the sky without darkening the rest of the frame. Since it was early morning, I was using a 2 second exposure. All I had to do was hold my camera strap over the top half of the glass on my lens for 1 second, and then remove it.
This makes it so the top half of the picture only sees light for half of the time, so it is much darker. And no, you won’t see the camera strap in the photo since it’s black.
I debated whether or not this counts as a “camera trick” or if it’s really just a super-awesome reflector that costs basically nothing. Call it what you will, but it works so well that I have to share this tip.
Circular reflectors are excellent for improving the lighting in your outdoor portraits. By holding them to reflect the sun’s light, you can fill in shadows and put beautiful highlights on the face of the person you’re shooting. However, most circular reflectors only work for a head-and-shoulders shot and only for one person. You can purchase a large full-body reflector, but they usually cost around $70.
One trick I learned from a photographer who shoots celebrities is to simply purchase insulation board for $5 and then cover the back and edges with white duct tape. You’ll find insulation board with reflective silver backing at any home improvement store. It comes in several sizes. I chose one that is 4 feet (1.2 meters) in height.
This simple solution gives you a very large reflector that is lightweight, and you can use one side to reflect silver and the other side to reflect white. Awesome!
Oh, and I also use this as a way to put a little wind in the hair of my models when I’m shooting someone with long hair. Just have an assistant fan up and down with the reflector board and it gives just the right amount of wind to give the hair some bounce without blowing the models away.