The Real Secret to Taking Spectacular Photos

I just got this a little while ago, in large part to having read Tom Ang’s enlightening “how to win photo competitions” post – and also because I just got an email More »

An Insight Into Light Graffiti

  What the Heck is Light Graffiti Light graffiti, also known as light painting, is a photographic technique which creates dramatic images using long exposures and various light sources as a drawing More »

Tilt Shift Photoshop Tutorial: How to Make Fake Miniature Scenes

I discovered the Tilt Shift technique perusing the photography of Drew Wilson, an uber talented young photographer here in Sarasota. I asked him about the process and he was kind enough to More »

How to Take HDR (High Dynamic Range) Photos

In the first part we covered what an HRD photo is, now we’ll go into a basic tutorial about how to create your own HDR (High Dynamic Range) photo. Please keep in More »


The Real Secret to Taking Spectacular Photos

I just got this a little while ago, in large part to having read Tom Ang’s enlightening “how to win photo competitions” post – and also because I just got an email from National Geographic telling me I’m close to getting this shot published in an issue of their “your shot” issue.


It really got me thinking about what it takes to take a truly great photo and it’s actually very simple. Here’s the real secret:

Show people something they’ve never seen before

If you think back to a photo that really inspired you or moved you, it was probably a photo of something that you’ve never seen before. Or it was a photo of something you have seen – but captured in a really unique way that you’ve never seen before.

There are billions of photos out there of people posing in front of things, there are billions of photos out there of places and things – and they all eventually fade together – but what makes a photograph really spectacular is something that captures attention.

This is why I love HDR, tiltshift, fisheye shots, and anything else that’s just different from the norm. You don’t even have to go anywhere to take a spectactular shot – just look around wherever you are and DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT.

To help you get started thinking in the right direction, here are 10 ideas:

1. use shadows

2. get closeup

3. capture patterns

4. use long exposure

5. get low

6. blur it

blurred Ineta

7. use lots of empty space in your composition

8. use reflections

9. capture motion

10. get down, look up

And that’s not even scratching the surface – there are plenty more resources for taking unique, interesting, and creative photos.  Not often discussed, but perhaps equally important if you are planning to do this as a business is to make sure copyrights are set in place as well.  A great resource to gather information on how to do this properly is

While I’m mentioning resources, I should say that when I established my company, I had many questions on the business side of things, since my background was on the creative side. I found a great book at that really helped me with the business side so I could focus on the artistic/creative side.

Anyway, all that said,  go out there and capture something truly unique.


5 Resources Every Photographer Should Know About

Whether you’re a professional photographer or a part time enthusiast, there are some fantastic resources out there that can help to improve your photography skills and get your photographs seen by the masses.

Although dark room photography has many great attributes, for the modern photographer digital platforms allow for an unprecedented amount of control, creativity and distribution.

Check out these 5 amazing tools that you can use to take your digital photography to the next level:

Live Books

If you are looking to create an online presence, Live Books is the perfect platform to work from. With a strong focus on visually stimulating page layouts and design templates, Live Books makes it simple for you to create a professional webpage that you can direct fans and potential clients to. With a host of easy to use features and invaluable help from the site’s design team, you can create an incredible website in no time

Digital Photography School

Whether you are a seasoned professional or you have only just bought your first digital camera, the Digital Photography School will help you to improve immensely. A community of expert photographers share their know how on this site through an abundance of in depth tutorials and quick guides. Packed full of photography tutorials, equipment reviews, guides, and post production insights, this site should be on the radar of every serious photographer.


Any freelance photographer will know how difficult it can be to keep a track of personal business management. From creating and tracking invoices and client orders, to collating business leads and keeping on top of finances, ShootQ can do it all. Correct organization and administration of your photography business will lead to higher profits, and less time spent trawling through paperwork.

License Stream

If you are looking to monetize your photography work, License Stream is a perfect platform to upload, advertise, and distribute your pictures from. With advanced tracking on images, License Stream will automatically check that your images are being used under the correct licensing agreement and that you are not missing out on revenue owed. This site offers much more freedom to the photographer in terms of advertising and promotion opportunities, meaning you are not reliant solely on a stock image site to sell your images for you.


LabPrints is the perfect resource for anyone wishing to upload, advertise, and distribute their photography online. The easy site navigation and useful tools make the entire process from upload to delivery effortless and efficient. This great application enables you to control the printing and distribution of your photography work from the comfort of your own home, safe in the knowledge that the finished products will be of the highest quality.


Photomatix Coupon Code – Free Download & 15% Discount Promo

Updated 9/23/2013

Photomatix Pro is by far my favorite program for creating and tone mapping HDR photos. It’s easy to use and gives you simple controls for getting the awesome color effects you see in all those great HDR’s, without having to open up Photoshop and knowing how to tone map by hand.

I recently got the people at HDRsoft to create a Photomatix coupon code for our readers (anyone can use it) for 15% off any of the HDR software programs:

This coupon code will work for any of these products:

  • Photomatix Pro (standalone + Lightroom plug-in)
  • Photomatix Pro Plus Bundle (standalone + plug-ins)
  • Photomatix Essentials / Light
  • Photomatix Plug-In for Apple Aperture
  • Photomatix Tone Mapping Plugin for Photoshop CS2/3/4/5/6

To get this discount applied to your order, follow these steps:

  • Go to the Photomatix  page
  • Click the buy button for the software version you need
  • In the box where it says “Coupon Code” put in: VPGo30x2013
  • Click the recalculate button
  • It will show you the special discount applied with your new price
  • Complete the rest of the order form
  • You MUST follow the Photomatix  page link in order for the discount to be applied

That should do it. To give you an example: the regular price of Photomatix Pro is $99 so with this coupon code you should be able to get it for $84.15.

Photomatix Coupon Code

Once you have Photomatix installed you can go through their short tutorial (which you can see once you launch the program). It’s pretty clear and easy to follow. Once you have a chance to experiment with your own HDR photos, you might want to join the Flickr HDR group. Hope to see you there.


Top Ten Locations for Stunning Photo Journalism

Photojournalism is about capturing the true essence of a moment. It is about using your camera to tell a story, without ever intentionally setting up a situation or scene.

Whether you are pursing your dream of becoming a photojournalist or are a seasoned veteran, you are sure to draw inspiration from these visually stunning and enchantingly enticing locations.


Morocco is an explosion of color, architecture, people and influence. The entire country is full of intense contrasts and a nonstop sensory experience. From the expansive Sahara and the magnificent snow-capped Atlas Mountains to the bustling market lined alleyways, the landscape is so diverse making it an exotic oasis for photographers of any kind.

New Guinea

This visually extraordinary country provides the chance to catch a glimpse into the lives of traditional communities still living off the land and knowing nothing of the cultures beyond their valleys. Tranquil rural scenes, erupting volcanoes and vibrant festivities are all in full swing every where you turn in New Guinea.


After many years of conflict and neglect, Serbia is finally being rediscovered by tourists and Serbs alike for its true beauty and culture. Home to one of the most dramatic and historic cities in Europe, the country has a spirit and soul that is rare to find.


The ever expansion of powerful societies and the destruction of local populations that get in the way is a story so close to the hearts of many in China. With cosmopolitan cities such as Shanghai blasting off into the future at lightning speeds, there is little time for nostalgia in this blossoming, yet deceivingly destructive country.


People sitting on stone sidewalks, playing musical instruments, and selling fresh fruits and nuts under colorful umbrellas is what you can expect to find in Portugal. The opportunities for candid portraiture are endless, with happy, smiling faces filling your lens with joyful serenity.


With European influences trickling in from the north causing reinvention throughout all the larger cities, combined with the countries ever prominent connection with its historical and culture roots, Italy offers a plethora of encapsulating subjects.


Peru really is heaven for photographers, not matter what you specialize in. The local tribes are one of the country’s main highlights, with their brightly colored costumes, silky dark hair and weathered faces. Of course, we cannot forget to mention the awe inspiring Machu Picchu surrounded by emerald green terraces and breathtaking summit views.


You could spend a lifetime trying to capture the essence of India and would barely even begin to scratch the surface. Filled with visually overwhelming architecture, landscapes, traditions and people, a trip to India is like stepping into an alternative reality.

South Korea

South Korea is a country of contrasts. Nevertheless, it has managed to retain a distinct cultural identity and resistance to outside domination. Their proud heritage coupled with the architectural joyfulness makes for a marvelous and unexpected experience.


Alive and bustling around the clock, Japan is like no other place on earth when it comes to people watching. The vibrant 24 hour city of Tokyo, with its neon signs, jumbotrons, and multiple wards, is sure to allure you in more ways than one.


Exploring the World of Macro Photography

Macro photography is the process of taking extremely close up photographs, with the resulting photo often being larger than the original subject matter. This allows photographers to capture images of unusual and interesting subjects, exploring the world from whole a new perspective that is not possible with the naked eye.


Although the advanced settings of a DSLR camera allow you to get some spectacular macro images, it is possible to get started with a compact camera. Most compact cameras have a built in macro mode on them, often signified by a flower symbol on the mode dial. The same symbol is present on most DSLR cameras, and changing to the macro setting will allow you to focus in on extremely close objects, as well as create a blur effect in the background. Special macro lenses can be purchased for DSLR cameras, but don’t reach for the wallet just yet until you have mastered the skills with your standard lens.

Using a tripod is the key to getting a crystal clear image as the slightest movement will knock out the focus. When photographing subjects that are low to the ground use a minipod. This will allow you to stabilize your camera very close to the floor when capturing images such as flowers or bugs. For the perfect lighting conditions a reflector is advisable instead of using a flash.


One of the most interesting things about macro photography is the unusual choice of subjects and viewpoints. Texture and color are two aspects that help to make macro shots pop, so look for a subject that is visually interesting and stands out against its background. Two of the most popular macro subjects are flowers and insects. Macro photography can be used to create visually stimulating abstract images of everyday objects, and these can work well when blown up on a large scale. Capturing the world from a different perspective is what creative photography is all about. So get out there are snap some captivating images.

Composition and Focus

The success of a macro shot lies mainly in the composition of the frame and the focus of the subject. If you want to take a truly striking image that accentuates all the fine details, make sure you have a clear outer field. It may be necessary to manually focus the image in order to detail the exact focus points that you desire. Ensure that your main subject is sharply in focus, and that the focal point of the image does not end up being a leaf or blade of grass nearby. Getting a good background blur behind the subject may involve moving around a little to ensure that there is a clear color contrast between the foreground and background.

As with every aspect of photography, the best way to learn is to get out there and start shooting. Try taking pictures of a variety of subjects with interesting angles, backgrounds, and focal points, and behold the results!


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