Established 1988

Category: Photography

Leaf Message – by Sophie Pan

People say that photography is the art of painting with a camera. Being a photographer myself, I can easily say this is true. As an experienced free-form author, I also feel that the same applies to writing. When I write, I see the story as a series of images as opposed to a string of words, and I believe that a successful writer merely transforms this imagery into words to convey a message that re-forms as imagery in the minds of readers. For me, photography is a form of poetry, written by the camera.


It was the 2014 holiday season, and the Christmas lights created beautiful bokeh. I glanced at the leaves, as if they were still living. They were dry but contained endless stories in their fleshless veins — stories filled with sunshine, gentle breeze, smiles and love. I thought to myself: Why not capture such wisdom in the form of a picture?

Macro photography equipment does not take up much space; my indoor macro creation was done mostly on a desk. I set up my camera on a tripod and then simply used blue and red Christmas lights as the background lighting. Between the lights and the camera, I placed a green leaf on a slab of glass. The leaf had disintegrated into a veiny skeleton, but after much careful handling, it was able to support a water droplet on its very tip. The glass reflected it like a mirror. Off to the side I set up a tiny LED light to highlight the droplet

“To increase cohesion in water, add sugar. If this method does not work, consider replacing the water with a drop of glycerine.”

The main characteristics regarding the formulation of a perfect water droplet are cohesion and adhesion. Cohesion is the attraction between molecules of the same substance. Adhesion is the attraction between molecules of different substances. Cohesion in water creates surface tension, which is why droplets stay round. To increase cohesion in water, add sugar. If this method does not work, consider replacing the water with a drop of glycerine.

To arrive at the final piece, I shot more than thirty photos. At first, I experimented to find the best angles and graphic composition. It’s important to remember that in macro photography, the tiniest nudge can make a huge difference between frames. After I determined the composition according to my original idea, I took three individual pictures that I would use as layers in Photoshop: the background, the green leaf and the reflection in the droplet.

“This leaf was much larger than the green leaf, and it was placed right in front of the background of colored light bulbs, which can clearly be seen in the reflection.”

All three photos had the same focus point — the tiny water droplet. To capture the detail of the leaf reflected in the droplet, I used a 36mm extension tube between the camera and lens. This leaf was much larger than the green leaf, and it was placed right in front of the background of colored light bulbs, which can clearly be seen in the reflection. To emphasize the clarity of the reflection in the droplet and to capture as much detail as possible in the leaf, I chose the smallest aperture of f/22. For the main subject in the second image, I chose an aperture of f/16. To create the smooth background light, an aperture of f/3.2 was chosen for the third image.

Post Processing

The three RAW files were processed in Adobe Camera Raw, Photoshop and Nik Software’s Color Efex Pro 4 plugin.

1) I opened the three images in Camera Raw and set them to the same color space, color temperature and auto correction for lens distortion. Since I took the pictures at ISO 100, I didn’t apply any noise reduction to ensure that the file didn’t lose any tiny details. I then exported the three photos as TIFF files to Photoshop.

2) Using layers masks, I blended the three layers together to reveal the parts I needed in each picture. To achieve a seamless image, I adjusted the Size and the Opacity settings of the Brush, while gently brushing hundreds of strokes over the layer masks.

3) I flattened the layers and then opened the image in Nik Color Efex Pro 4 plugin to enhance the details of the veins and the leaf in the reflection.

4) I made this image in a romantic, simple way and in accordance with my original idea. I believe too much sharpness would have ruined the soft mood, so I made sure to sharpen only slightly and only in a few specific areas to draw attention to the details. Also, when I reduced the image size in Photoshop, I specifically chose to reduce it in the smoothest way possible by selecting Bicubic in the Image Size dialog box.


1) If possible, stick with ISO 100 or below. The slightest amount of noise can be annoying in post-processing for macro photography.

2) Use a tripod, mirror lockup and either a remote shutter release or a cable release to prevent camera shake.

3) Shoot in RAW format to maximize the file’s ability to retain every detail and to give you more flexibility when you are processing the image.

4) Before taking the picture, sketch your idea on paper; it helps you to visualize your concept.


Some other pictures taken by Sophie Pan:


Sports Photography

Sports Photography

with Angela McMullen

Don’t Worry About the Noise

Shooting amateur sports often means shooting in less than optimal conditions, especially at indoor venues. To compensate for lowlight, photographers must raise the ISO on their cameras to capture the action, and this results in noisy images or images with a lot of grain. However, a noisy sports image is not necessarily a bad image (and in fact, noise sometimes gives an action shot more punch and grittiness), and you should think hard before using that noise reduction slider in Lightroom or Photoshop Camera Raw.


Reducing the noise in an image also reduces its clarity by

blurring. Try it yourself. When processing a RAW image taken with a high ISO (2500 or greater), magnify the image 200-percent and then reduce the noise using the Noise Reduction slider. See thedifference? Your image has less noise but also less detail.


So, when processing your sports and action shots, ask yourself

which you would rather have: a great action shot with a little noise

or a blurred image with little detail? And remember, I’m talking

about noise here not focus. Still not convinced? Look at this image I shot at a Whitby Wolves’ hockey game. It’s noisy, but is still a good action shot.



Photography by Angela McMullen

Planning for your next Photo Vacation

Kevin White has been a member of the Mississauga Camera Club since 2006 and is currently the Team Lead for workshops.KevinWhite

Planning for your next Photo-Vacation.

In this article I’m going to provide a quick checklist of things to think about when you are planning for your next trip.

Research, research, research!

First of all, research your destination(s) from a photography perspective.  Use the web to check the expected weather, openings and closings of events and attractions, upcoming festivals and photographer guides to your destination.   Determine what the golden hours are for the destination.  Does the seaside face west or east for sunsets and sunrises?  What is the timing for the tides if you are shooting an ocean view?

Don’t forget to check local customs – who or what are you allowed to take pictures of and when?  Is paying for pictures customary?   Are permits are required for commercial photography (such as in Banff, Alberta or Uluru, Australia).

Think about what types of shots you may wish to take (or avoid taking!) by performing searches using Flickr, Google Images, etc. to see what other photographers have already captured for your destination.   Don’t feel that you have to repeat what others are taking, but these shots may inspire you and suggest things to see/do while you’re visiting a new locale.

If you’re thinking of taking pictures for stock photography, check for professional travel photographer shots of location(s), (eg.,,,  Make sure you are aware of known image restrictions for places and landmarks (eg. “The Gherkin” building, and royal residences {Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle} and National Trust properties in England, CN Tower in Toronto, Eiffel Tower in Paris and many landmark properties in the U.S.)

Once you’ve done your research, prepare your itinerary by creating a shooting list which includes a list of attractions, events, locations (including times of day) that help you organize your trip.

Keep researching when you arrive at your destination (for example, get brochures, talk to locals, etc.).  Take a tourist bus around the local on the first day to see what you`d like to explore in more detail later.

What to take?

  • Camera Bodies:

Some photographers swear by having a primary camera body and a backup body.  Personally, I prefer to travel light and keep to a single camera body and use my cell phone camera as the backup.  It all depends if you’re shooting commercially or for pleasure.


  • Power:

Don’t forget to bring extra batteries and your charger.  If you’re going overseas, find out what AC power plugs/sockets are in use and if you need an adaptor.  My wife and I buy a single AC adaptor and a power bar and plug all our rechargeable appliances (cell phone, camera batteries, my shaver, etc.) into the power bar.


  • Memory Cards:

Think about how many pictures you expect to take and translate that into the number of memory cards you’ll need to bring.   How many pictures did you take on your last vacation?


As an example, a 32 GB memory card for my Nikon 7100 holds about 596 24MP RAW images.  For some people that’s only a day’s worth of shooting!  Are you planning to shoot video as well?   The same 32 GB card holds only 4 minutes of HD1880p (5 Mbps) video.


A good idea is to spread your images over a number of cards and not to put all your images on a single card, in case it’s lost or damaged.


What about disk backup?  If you’re on a long vacation you may want to backup your files to an external disk drive.  Bob Fowler posted a good article back in January on backing up photos while on vacation see


  • Lenses:

If you’re bringing a DSLR then you have to decide which interchangeable lenses you’ll need.

Lenses present a trade-off between weight and the quality of the shots you’ll get.  After you’ve done your trip planning and created your shooting list, then you can decide on the lenses you need to bring.


For convenience there is the “travel lens” approach – one lens for everything.  These are normally the 18-300 mm (DX) or 18-200 (DX) lenses which do not provide the sharpest quality at any one focal length, but are very convenient to use since you don’t have to change the lens, you have less to carry and you’re always ready for the shot.


On the other hand, for the best quality photos you may wish to take a variety of specialized lenses.  For example, 10 – 28mm for landscapes, 50 – 100mm for portraits and 200 – 500mm lenses for animal safaris.  The tradeoff for better quality photos is the bulk and weight of additional lenses and the need to change lenses to suit the subject matter.


  • Tripod:

Do you need to take a tripod?   Look at your itinerary – are you going to be walking a lot, taking public transit or driving?  If the first two, then you may find the tripod a nuisance.  When flying, a tripod cannot be brought onboard as carry-on luggage, but will have to be checked luggage.


Review your shooting list.  Are you taking a lot of night shots or other pictures where stabilization is required?  If so then you can also look at some compromise solutions such as a “table top” tripod (I keep the Manfrotto 709 in my bag) or “the pod” beanbag from  Note that even table top tripods will not pass through the airport security checks and have to be treated as checked baggage (I also had to check mine for the NY Empire State building observation deck).   Another hint for museum photographers is that while most museums have banned tripods, many will allow you to use a monopod!  This will help you stabilize your shot and reduce your ISO and shutter speed.


  • ND, Polarizer or graduated filters?

Do you intend to take pictures of moving water (tides or waterfalls) for which you’ll need an ND filter, or sunrises and sunsets and aren’t going to use Lightroom/Photoshop to correct via graduated filter?   If you plan on taking multiple lenses, then you can save on the number of filters by just getting ND or graduated filters for your landscape lens, since that is the lens you’ll probably use for these types of shots.


  • Shoulder bag or Knapsack?

A shoulder bag provides easier access to your camera in a hurry, but can be a pain in the neck if you’re carrying it around constantly for 2 hours or more.  On the other hand a knapsack is better ergonomically and often has room for jacket, maps, souvenirs, but is usually slower for you to get camera out and is less secure than a shoulder bag.  The speed with which you can get your camera into action (and back in the bag) and be important not only for you to get the shot as it is unfolding – but also helps you if your spouse or significant other is not a photographer and is losing patience with frequent requests for “just one more shot honey”!   Personally I switched from a knapsack to a shoulder bag that holds a DX body and two additional lenses.


By the way, don’t get a camera bag with your camera brand on it.  You might as well stick a label on it that says “Steal Me”.


A good idea is to also bring Ziplock baggies for rainy days / wet weather, as well as a waterproof cover for your camera, lens(es) and camera bag if you plan on visiting a rainy environment.



It’s wise to practice every shooting situation before you leave.  You should know every button and feature on your camera – if you don’t, bring your camera manual with you.  The time to find out that you accidentally changed a setting and can’t remember how to reset it is at home, not when you’re 2,000 km away from your manual.


Oh yeah, don’t forget your clothes, passport, etc.


Have a great vacation!

Environmental portraits

Environmental portraits

Frank Myers
Frank Myers, Latow Photographers Guild, Burlington
An environmental portrait can be defined as a photo of a person that includes enough of their natural surroundings to tell a story about the individual. The shots may be “posed” but the setting is ideally rich with visual information about the person’s life. If you’re successful, the viewer gains some insight into the person you’ve portrayed.
Ron with his beauties

My subjects are mostly people whose work or skills impress me. Often they are family or friends, but occasionally it is necessary to break the ice and approach a perfect stranger for permission to photograph them. Ideally, being in their own environment will help your subject to be natural and at ease. I always offer prints of the finished work, which seems only fair.


Shir in living room
I find a wide-angle lens is often useful, allowing me to work in close while including elements of the person’s surroundings. Occasionally, however, a longer lens and closer crop can incorporate just enough additional detail while emphasizing the appearance of the subject. Bounce flash can maintain a fairly natural look, as can using higher ISO to work with the light available.
Fibre artist Judy Martin
The key to good environmental portraits is finding that fine balance between the individual and his or her environment. A cluttered scene can detract from the main subject. The person must remain the focus, while the surroundings provide detail about their life. Chose that detail carefully and don’t be afraid to ask your subject to move around; everything in the scene should contribute to the story you are telling.

Panoramic Presentation


Black and White images on black backgrounds


 Black and White images on black backgrounds

by Glenn Springer, President, Haliburton Highlands Camera Club

A Britisher by the name of Antony Northcutt recently posted some black-and-white flowers on a black background on Facebook. I loved it and bought his eBook to learn the technique. Then I changed it!

Pablo Picasso said that a “good artist copies; a great artist steals”. The great artist uses the work of others as an inspiration, builds on it and makes it his own.

In Photoshop there are a million ways to do anything. Everyone’s approach is going to be different! In this short tutorial, I’ll show you my workflow and some of the thinking behind it, to give you some ideas.

This deals with making black and white images on black backgrounds. The key points are subject choice, selection, background rendering and toning. I edit in Photoshop CC 2014 but most of this works in earlier versions as well.

Selecting the subject

I don’t have that great an eye, but I’m looking for repetitive patterns and not-too-fine details. I look for textures. I fill most of the frame because I don’t want to have to crop too much. I used a flower in this example.

Expose for the subject because the background is going to be removed anyway. Shoot in RAW. Bracket exposures because colours can fool you. The key is to watch the histogram and be sure not to blow out the highlights.

Initial Processing

I use Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw. Sometimes I’ll crop up front, because I personally like square images for this approach. At first, my goal is to tone the image so that I have details at both ends – dark and light. Ignore the background and just look at the subject. This is just a “rough cut” – now you’re ready to export to Photoshop.

ALWAYS hit Ctrl-J, (Cmd-J on a Mac) as the first step in Photoshop, to duplicate the background layer in case you want to go back, reduce opacity or change blend modes on the working layer(s).

Making the Selection

One of the simplest ways is the Quick Selection Tool, followed by Refine Edge. Another easy tool to use is Topaz Remask. Get all of the flower, you can finesse the edges later. If you select too much you can erase it later, but it’s much harder to add something you missed. Suffice it to say, the simpler the subject, the easier it is. Complicated edges can be very challenging!

Now once it’s selected, Ctrl-J (Cmd-J) copies your selection onto a fresh layer.


The starting image after cropping square and the initial selection

Making a black background

KISS principle. Northcutt had you select the layer underneath, create an exposure adjustment layer, slide the exposure down as far as it will go, and you have an almost-black background. There’s one advantage to that method: you can keep some vestiges of what was around the subject in the final image. But the problem is, you won’t get a pure black. That makes a huge difference when you go to print.

Here’s my simpler way. Create a new layer. Fill it with black (alt-backspace on PC, option-delete on Mac). Slide the new layer underneath your selection layer. You’re done.


The selection is pasted into a new layer with a black layer added underneath

Now it’s time for a little cleanup. Don’t use the eraser tool – if you make a mistake, it’s hard to go back. Instead, add a mask on the layer and paint on the mask. Anything painted in black will reveal the layer underneath, anything painted in white will hide it – and it’s easy to go back and forth (the “X” key switches the foreground and background colours).

The Black and White Conversion

You could leave your image in colour. But I like black and white for this, and, well, I’m the artist today! Again, there are lots of ways to approach this. Before we do…

I want to work on a combined layer now. So I “Stamp” a fresh combined layer with “Ctrl-Alt-Shift-E” (Cmd-Option-Shift-E). I do this often, so I’ve programmed that into my tablet on a single hotkey.

Sidebar: You’ve already done a bunch of work. Save often, as a .PSD file to preserve all your layers

For the black and white, you could just go up in the menu and change the whole thing to greyscale. But it’s better to create a black-and-white adjustment layer. Now you can choose what happens to each colour in the original. Play. Sometimes I’ll use Silver Efex or BW Effects for the conversion.


After black-and-white conversion and curves adjustment

Toning your image

Curves adjusts the overall toning of the image. Make the curve “S”-shaped if you want more contrast. Pull specific spots to re-tone specific densities. Now do a non-destructive dodge and burn.

Create a new layer and fill it with 50% gray. Change the blend mode to “overlay”. In this mode, it has zero effect on your image. But if you paint in black on this layer, it burns in what’s underneath it. White dodges. Choose a soft brush, turn the opacity and paint. Use the “X” key to switch back and forth. Make a mistake? Switch colours. Or just fill the whole layer with grey again and start over!


How to add a non-destructive dodge/burn layer



This is what the dodge/burn layer looks like after it’s done

As a rule of thumb, burn in the dark things and dodge the light areas.



The key here is to select a subject with great tonality and texture, but not too much complexity. Visualize it in black and white. Put it on a pure black background, then enhance it with the traditional darkroom tools now translated into Photoshop. Pay attention to detail and your results will be outstanding.


This is the final product after a few more minor tweaks


Online resources:

Antony Northcutt eBook

Faczen tech blog (the full article)

Non-destructive dodging/burning

Creativity in Photography


Creativity in Photography

By Sheri Bélanger

Coordinator of the Creative Challenge Group

Toronto Camera Club

It never ceases to astonish me when photographers say that they are not creative. ‘Creativity’, a late 17th century concept we’ve adopted today, is the ability to make something new or unique that has value. Both ‘new’ and ‘value’ are, of course, subjective. But one thing is indisputable—the uniqueness of every photograph that is taken. No one else has your experiences, nuances, beliefs, and perspectives. Every time you pick up a camera to compose a shot, three factors work together in a synergy of events that create a uniqueness all your own.

The first factor, of course, is you. Everything about you influences the photographs you shoot. Your experiences, beliefs, confidence, perspective, and connection to the subject all come into play as you compose your photograph.

The second factor is your subject. Whether that subject is a person, a rock, or a sunset, you have a relationship with your subject—even if only briefly. How that relationship is portrayed depends on your connection.

The final factor is your audience. Who views the photograph, and when they do so, what are they bringing from their own perspective when they see what you create? It’s the last facet that determines the true creativeness of the photograph—confirms that something new and of value has been made. The individuals who view the photograph are as varied as the photographers. Keep in mind that you will most likely be the first to view your new creation. Judge it not by how others might see it, but by how it makes you feel. If you are not satisfied with it, instead of feeling that you are not creative (which I firmly believe is simply not the case), you might consider that you were not feeling inspired at that particular moment.

Learning to be more receptive to creativity and inspiration takes effort. The most important part of being creative, which you won’t discover in a book or a class, is knowing yourself. What makes you excited to try something new? Do you enjoy tight deadlines and strict rules? Does open-ended exploration bring you into that zone of inspiration? Do you imagine the photograph you want to take and fastidiously plan how to best make it into a reality? Is the moment best captured when you’re confronted with something novel? Are you aiming to photograph something for your own interest and self-satisfaction, or are you aiming to impress others with the image? Maybe a bit of both? No matter which way we find ourselves opening up to our creativity, so long as it gets us there, it is valid and exciting.

Consider the two images below. The first image, “Painted Lady” was very well thought out. From creating the headdress, hiring a makeup artist (Dorota Buczel), painting the background layer, creating Photoshop brushes out of ink splatters–I spent considerable time working on the image. I knew I would be entering this image into competitions.



The second image, “Running away from Home” I created in about ten minutes one day at the studio when I was bored and staring at my keyboard. It made me laugh. That was the motivation behind that image. Both were worthwhile endeavors, and better yet, they inspired me to try something different and new.


There are a variety of sources on line which have great advice on how to increase your creativity. Remember that what works for some may not work for you. Advice that works for me includes the following:

  1. Give yourself permission to play and make mistakes.
  2. Learn your camera the best you can so that when you are in the moment, there is just one less thing to think about.
  3. Do everything you can to explore other individuals work. The best is having the chance to meet other creative individuals, and talk about their art. However, the internet is a rich environment to see many different pieces.
  4. Find a subject you have strong feelings about and go out and photograph it. Your passion will show through.
  5. Talk to children. Listen to their stories. It is a fantastic way to see the world in a whole new light.

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” 
Roald Dahl

Online Resources:

Becoming a More Creative Photographer by Harold Davis

How many of these creative photography ideas can you use?

100 Ways to be a more creative photographer by Tanya Smith



A tip for new photographers – Composition

Wayne Elliott


Wayne Elliott

Latow Photographers Guild

A tip for new photographers – Composition 

This is a tip for new photographers.  One of the earliest challenges is composition…what to put in the frame and what to leave out.  Here is a homemade piece of ‘equipment’ that will help you to compose stronger images.

Find a fairly rigid piece of plastic, I used the bottom of a microwaveable tray.  Cut out the bottom, 4 or 5 inches will do and then cut out a 2 inch by 3 inch rectangle from the centre of your piece of plastic.  You now have a cutout that mimics the proportions created by your 35mm DSLR or film camera.

Instead of using your camera to frame and reframe images, you can now easily frame them using your new composing tool.  Hold it closer to your eye for more subject matter in your frame, much like a short lens, e.g., a 50mm,  or hold it farther away from your eye for more of a closeup as in a longer telephoto.  Move it in and out or turn it for portrait or landscape orientations or angle it for more novel images.








Travel Tips for Photographers




Sandra Laurin

Etobicoke Camera Club

Travel Tips for Photographers

“some people photograph their travels, other people travel to photograph”


Whichever group you belong to, there are a few things you should prepare for your trip.


Before you go…

  • research your destination so that you know the best time to travel (arriving in the rainy season can limit your photo-taking opportunities… as well as your patience!)
  • google your destination for tons of current travel info about weather,political situation, currency, festivals, and celebrations
  • guide books provide lots of info that can enhance your trip
  • learn a few key phrases in the language of the country you’re visiting (never underestimate the power of “Good Morning” in the local language)
  • get to know a new camera before your trip
  • make sure your camera is in good working order
  • pack the camera manual in your carry-on backpack so you can spend some time reading on the plane. I find something new every time I consult the manual.
  • take a backup camera if possible
  • take extra batteries, a recharger and electrical converter for the country you’re going to visit
  • have extra memory cards (preferably 2-3 smaller cards rather than one huge card as it could possibly malfunction), so “don’t put all your photos in one basket”
  • it’s a good idea to download photos to a card reader or laptop if you don’t mind the extra weight
  • use a microfibre cloth to keep the lens clean (can also be used for your glasses and sunglasses)
  • a travel tripod or a tabletop mini-tripod to steady your camera in low light or to set a time exposure that allows you to be in the picture
  • photocopies of your passport, tickets, insurance, medication and eye glass prescriptions, travel itinerary, driver’s license, credit cards also leave copies of the above with someone at home
  • a small notebook to record names of places, tips from other travellers or addresses if you promise someone a photo
  • a small flashlight…in some countries the hydro goes off at a certain time of night…also if you’re near the equator you’ll be surprised how darkness comes within minutes after sunset!
  • a nail brush is useful for scrubbing dirty hands and feet as well as hiking boots or dirty clothes
  • a small compass, as it’s often hard to determine direction even in cities and to find north in the rain or after the sun goes down
  • a thermometer, as it’s sometimes interesting to know just how hot or cold it really is!
  • an iPhone has apps that can do many of the above (ie. compass, flashlight, notes, temperature,)


When you arrive..

  • talk to other travelers and locals to find out points of interest
  • pick up a local English newspaper to check out “what’s happening”
  • look at postcards of the area…they usually have good composition and location ideas (it’s OK to copy!)
  • a map of the city or area and be sure to mark your hotel and jot down the address and phone # (take a brochure or card from the hotel as it’s often easier to let a taxi driver read the address)
  • be friendly and interact with people…buying a mango from a market seller can give you the opportunity to ask if you may take a photo (if you promise to send a copy, write down the address and make sure that you follow up)
  • a friendly greeting and a smile will result in more genuine people photos
  • carry small change of the appropriate currency in your pocket ready to buy that mango
  • although there’s much debate on whether or not to pay people for pictures I feel that even a small amount of change can help out a family in a developing country and you will have negotiated for a much better photo than if you had to “steal” it on the sly
  • download images to a card reader every night
  • don’t delete photos on the camera until you see them on a large screen (unless they’re totally horrible!)
  • recharge batteries every night ready for the next day of shooting


On the go…

  • always have your camera ready to go with probable settings (ISO, white balance, aperture or shutter speed) and at arms reach
  • when you first get sight of a subject (especially animals if on safari)…take a shot…you may not get a second chance
  • then move in closer…frame your shot to get the image you really want
  • turn around…often the best shot is behind you!
  • use a fast shutter speed (or sports mode) generally with animals and with active children
  • try using fill flash outdoors especially with subjects in front of water or with strong light from behind
  • get wide angle shots of herds…then zoom in on a specific animal for close-ups
  • zoom in to fill the frame or take a couple of steps closer
  • close-up shots are fantastic but don’t forget to include the surrounding environment or habitat in some shots to give a sense of place
  • think about the direction of the light and if there’s time,move for a better angle
  • in cases where you can’t get out of your vehicle (on safari), a beanbag or rolled clothing resting on a window will give added stability, especially when using zoom lenses
  • “early to bed, early to rise”…you will get wonderful lighting at dawn and dusk (the Golden Hours) especially if on safari at the water hole where all the animals come to drink at that time of day
  • check white balance…often the sunset mode is useful at these times
  • always use the histogram to determine proper exposure…if necessary, change the settings and shoot again
  • don’t hide indoors in the rain..protect your camera with a baggie or even use the shower cap from the hotel


Take time to ENJOY your trip. Take photos that please YOU. They are YOUR memories.


Night Shooting

head 2

Barb Redford

Halton Hills Camera Club

Night Shooting

General tips:

  1. Tripod… Tripod… Tripod
  2. Manual setting – Bulb… or a long exposure setting generally between 10 and 30 seconds or more
  3. Release cable or timer and lock up mirror if you have the ability to do so ( live view locks up the mirror)
  4. Use lowest ISO possible to reduce noise in most instances
  5. Turn OFF your image stabilization on your lens when on the tripod
  6. Have an alternate light source – flash, flashlight, sparklers, glow sticks etc

Aurora – aka the Northern Lights:

  1. High ISO – 1600 or more
  2. Focus on infinity
  3. Short exposures ( 5-10 sec) to get “ribbon”effects
  4. Wide angle or fish eye lens is best

Car Trails + Streaks :

  1. Low ISO ( 100-200)
  2. Watch backgrounds
  3. Longer streaks require longer exposures
  4. Streets with curves give greater interest
  5. Oncoming white streaks – outgoing red streaks

Long Exposure:

  1. Low ISO ( 100-200)
  2. Increase exposure time by 5-10 sec increments
  3. A very long exposure will create daylight effect
  4. Dawn or twilight will leave a bluish tinge to photo adjust white balance to Kelvin setting (8000K)
  5. Lights in pictures will “ star”

long exposure

Fireworks + Lightning:

  1. Low ISO ( 100-200)
  2. Manual focus on a distant object or infinity
  3. Daylight white balance to get colours in fireworks
  4. Wide angle lens is best for multiple “ explosions” on single shot cover lens between fireworks / lightning strikes while lens open

fireworks 3

Lens Spin:

  1. ISO doesn’t matter – lower ISO gives more time, aim for 5-15 sec exposure
  2. Turn lens while open, stopping at end before lens closes will put last object solidly in picture
  3. Creates streaks across picture, slow turn shorter streaks, fast turn longer streaks

Moon Shots:

  1. Moon is very bright and moves very fast across the sky mid range ISO depending on moon brightness
  2. Manual focus or some cameras will focus on edge of moon
  3. 5-10 sec exposure
  4. Telephoto lens if want just moon
  5. – moon rise and moon set plus times and angles

Painting with light:

  1. Low ISO ( 100-200)
  2. Use flash off camera or flashlight to light scene, can use coloured gels over light source
  3. Move quickly through your image and DON’T stop moving !
  4. Do not fire flash directly at camera unless you want a bright “ star” in the shot
  5. Use side lighting to create depth to objects



Star Trails or just stars:

  1. High ISO ( 3200)
  2. Best time is at least 3 hours after sunset
  3. Wide Angle lens
  4. Focus manually on a bright star or object
  5. For circular trails must focus on the North star as centre of shot
  6. The trick *** a series of 30 second exposures stacked in photoshop gives best shot with least amount of noise
  7. 15 min of star trails is approx 1-2 inches long in a picture

star trails