Tag Archives: photomatix

The 5 Types of Pictures You Really Need to Stop Posting to Facebook and Twitter – Right Now

Your Facebook Friends are Really Tired of Seeing this:

1. Injuries
2. What you’re eating
3. Unextraordinary photos of your dog (or cat or baby)
4. Clouds
5. You kissing your significant (or insignificant as the case may be) other

Send this to your friends who need an intervention.


Using a Crystal Ball: A Creative Way to Get Wide Angle Shots

Here’s a really fun and easy way to get some unusual shots by using a crystal ball and focusing on the image inside of it.

A crystal ball inverts the scenery so everything inside looks upside down and captures a really wide angle. It’s sort of a poor man’s fisheye lens, but more flexible in what you can do with it.

You can get a crystal or glass ball or sphere by robbing a sorcerer, borrowing it from that crazy tarot card lady around the corner, or buying one off eBay (which is what I did since I don’t live near Hogwarts Academy.) It cost me less than $50 including shipping.

A lot of the shots looks great if you rotate the image 180 degrees (flip it upside down in your image editing program) so what’s reflected inside the crystal ball looks right side up and the background ends up blurry (out of focus) and upside down.

Play with the placement of the ball closer and farther away from the camera lens and be sure to focus on the image inside the ball – dslr’s are a lot better at this on manual mode since autofocus will often not focus properly. Turn off the flash, and be aware of any glare that’s coming from your side of the ball.

Added bonus: when you’re walking around with a crystal ball in your hand (like I just did in Miami Beach), people will think you’re a sorcerer. Especially if you’re wearing a cape or laughing maniacally. If you can get past the initial fear, people might even pay you $5 to tell them about their future. And afterwards, you can take a picture of them upside down. Everyone wins.


How to Take Photographs in Low Light

Light is the most fundamental aspect of all photography. When you capture any image, what you are actually capturing is the light reflecting off your subject and its surroundings. So when you are taking pictures in low lighting conditions, such as at night or in an unlit room, it can be difficult to achieve satisfactory results. However it is not impossible, and with a little knowledge and practice you can make the most of the light available to you.


Using the flash on your digital camera to introduce more light to the scene artificially is the most obvious way to solve the problem of low lighting. However, flash photography has many drawbacks.

When it comes to taking pictures of people or animals, using a flash can spoil your shot by distracting the subject or causing them to blink. There’s also the age-oldproblem of ‘red eye’, which although with a digital camera can be eliminated during processing using photographic software, can ruin an otherwise excellent portraitshot.

A flash can also lead to a shot that looks artificial as it will tend to illuminate closer objects while making backgrounds and other elements look dull. On top of this, many built-in flashes concentrate light onto the centre of the image, leading to ‘flash fall-off’ at the edges of the image and a lack of contrast around the edges of the picture.

With a standard point-and-shoot digital camera it can be difficult to take good photos using the built-in flash. But if you have a digital SLR camera you can use an adjustable external flash gun to bounce the light off walls, ceilings or other surfaces to create a more natural lighting effect. A handy tip is to cover the flash with tracing paper, which will also help to diffuse the light and give a more natural result.

Use a big lens

The amount of light entering the camera through the lens is also a crucial factor. If you’ve got a digital SLR camera you can improve image quality in low-light conditions by using a bigger lens. The size of the lens determines the maximum aperture opening (measured in f-stops), and consequently the amount of light that enters the camera.

When it comes to lenses, the lower the f-stop number the larger the aperture, so when purchasing a bigger lens for low light photography go for one with a low aperture number, such as f1.4.

Exmor Cmos sensor

night shots require steady hands

The key to getting a crisper image in low conditions is increasing the amount of light getting to the image sensor inside the camera. With a standard digital camera the sensitivity of the sensor is limited as a result of the network of tiny wires running across it. This means that the image has to be electronically boosted, inevitably resulting in digital ‘noise’ that spoils the overall quality of the picture.

The Sony Exmor Cmos sensor has solved this problem by placing these wires behind the sensor, allowing more light into the sensor naturally. This means that the image does not need to be artificially boosted to such a high degree, resulting in low light photos with significantly reduced picture noise, even on a point-and-shoot digital camera.

Play with the ISO settings

higher ISO means more noise

Finally, you can play around with the settings on your camera and see what works best with the light available. You can change how sensitive the camera’s sensor is to light by altering the ISO setting. A higher setting, such as 800 or even 1600, will pickup more light, but it will also increase the amount of image noise.

You can also use a lower shutter speed to keep the aperture open for longer and allow more light in, but to reduce motion blur you will need to use a tripod (this is especially true if you’re shooting HDR). This method is also not effective for capturing moving subjects. If you are not comfortable playing around with these settings on your camera, then it’s best to switch them to auto and take your chances.

Popular Digital Cameras at Amazon

How to Take Stunning Pictures from an Airplane Window

Creative Commons License photo credit: MiiiSH

Why wait until you reach your destination to start taking photos?  If you own a DSLR camera, Using the right tricks and techniques, you can capture some great shots from the moment the plane leaves the runway.
Find DSLR Cameras on Amazon

Top tricks:

  • Choose a good seat/window
    Try to avoid seats behind the wing as the engine’s exhaust will make your photos look blurred.   Also, book your seat on the opposite side from the sun, as sunlight on the window (which will probably be scratched) will cause too much flare.   Many airlines now include seating plans on their online booking sites.   Also, make sure you clean your window before you take off!
  • Avoid polarizers
    The glass on an aeroplane’s window is already polarized so don’t use a polarizer of any kind.  Otherwise you’ll end up with cross-polarization giving a bluish/purple rainbow effect to your shot.  A UV filter can be helpful to reduce haziness created by ultraviolet light.
  • Counteract the vibration
    To help neutralise the plane’s vibration, use a fast lens that has sharp focus when the aperture is opened up.  Use at least 1/1000th shutter speed if you can, even if you have to increase the sensitivity (ISO) to achieve this.   Put your lens as close to the window as possible to reduce the effect of any scratches or ice on it.  However, never rest the camera or lens against the window as this will transfer the vibrations from the plane onto your photo.
  • Reflections from the window
    To avoid reflections, switch off the overhead lights and wear dark clothes or make a shade from a dark cloth.

Top shots:


One thing’s for sure, there is never a shortage of clouds on a flight and they can make a stunningly dreamy picture.  To avoid a bland white photo, shoot through your reddest filter that lets in enough light at a fast shutter speed.    To add a bit of contrast, consider including the aeroplane wing in your picture.  If you’re doing this, set your camera to manual focus, and then focus to infinity.


The bird’s eye view from an aeroplane window allows you to create a spectacular photo of a city when taking off or landing.   Use the long telephoto end of your lens range, but don’t expect to get a clear photo of any particular building – think large expanses.  Also, try shooting both vertical and horizontal photos and consider the composition of the image and the rule of thirds.  You won’t need a particularly narrow aperture if you’re photographing the ground from the air as depth of field won’t be much of an issue (unless you’re trying to get the plane/wing and the ground in the same photo).

Night shots

City lights at night time can make exciting shots.  The best way to shoot at night time is in a manual mode with the lens wide open and shutter speeds 1/500th or faster.   Your images will most likely be underexposed, but you may be able to recover some in post processing. If they do appear overexposed on the histogram, reduce the ISO and decrease the aperture.


The optimum time of day to capture mountains and landscapes is the first or last hour of sunlight when the sun casts a shadow over the mountain range, accentuating the structures and shapes of the landscape.   When taking shots of mountains try using a neutral density (ND) or graduated neutral density (GND) filter to help you achieve a better exposed foreground and a sharper sky.

Top 10 scenic airports

  1. Lukla Airport, Nepal – Situated on the side of a mountain and surrounded by mountains.  Rather scary for passengers but great for photos!
  2. Chek Lap Kok Airport, Hong Kong – not quite as hair-raising as the airport it replaced, but still impressive for cityscape shots.
  3. London City airport, England – From the green landscapes to the major landmarks of London, there is a lot to spot and snap when landing in London.
  4. Paro airport, Bhutan – located in a deep valley on the bank of the Paro river.  The surrounding peaks are as high as 18,000 ft (5,500 m).
  5. New York’s La Guardia airport, USA– fabulous shots of the spectacular cityscape of NYC are on offer on the descent to this airport.
  6. Princess Juliana International Airport, St. Maarten – possibly one of the most photographed airports in the world.  Its runway starts a mere few hundred feet off the shore and practically skims the heads of holidaymakers.  It is framed by water and the hills in the background.
  7. Queenstown airport, New Zealand – on a clear day the Remarkables mountain range is reflected in Lake Wakatipu to make a spectacular photo opportunity on the approach into this airport.
  8. Las Vegas McCarran airport, USA – the desert contrasted with the cityscape is a spectacular sight.  If you’re travelling at night, the lights of the Strip make a great photo.
  9. Gibraltar airport – The rock of Gibraltar looms on the background of this magnificent approach and a road even intersects the runway.
  10. Sion Airport, Switzerland – nestled in the Alps, a perfect approach for a stunning mountain shot.

Best Compact Digital Camera 2011

While I love taking photos with my large SLR camera, its size makes it impractical to carry it around with me when going out with friends. I always like having a small point & shoot with me to capture photos of my outings or little things I chance upon.


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