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14 Practical Reasons Your Photos Are Not Quite As Good As You Want Them To Be

When I teach I spend a lot of time trying to help people make better pictures. That might seem obvious, that is what I am paid to do, but that doesn’t just mean teaching what apertures or ISO or focal length mean or how to shoot a portrait or the best way to capture a landscape. It means I try to change the way my students think about photography, their photography. I use many techniques to do this but the bottom line with all of them is the student has to practice. I explain that without paying attention to what they are doing it is unlikely they will be satisfied with their results, or at least not often enough. Many of the ways I encourage students to get better are contained in this article on Lightstalking, a very good blog that I would recommend you follow.


Composition in Photography

1. You Don’t Pay Attention to the Composition

2. You Don’t Know the Basics of Exposure

3. You Don’t Experiment With the Perspective

4. You Don’t Understand How Lighting Affects a Photograph

5. You Don’t Post-Process Your Photos

6. You Haven’t Taken Up a Photography Project

7. You Don’t Have a Well-Defined Subject in Your Photo

read what  has to say about these and the rest of the reasons here

If what you really need is help with these all our courses will get you going. If you just don’t understand your camera well enough try our

Understanding Your DSLR Camera Course

Composition In Photography – Seeing Pictures this will help you with so many of the visual aspects of your photography

Introduction To Photoshop will help you with post production and Understanding Lightroom will get you processing RAW files properly

Intermediate Photography is for those who have mastered their cameras and composition and want to go that extra step, it is a fascinating course

We have many other courses that will help you to become much better photographers, go here now for the full list

Getting Started In Wildlife Photography

This rather excellent article on Lightstalking seems to sum up all the difficulties that most people would prefer to ignore when approaching wild life photography. Don’t be put off by the explanation that you need to know your equipment, that you have to know your subjects and that you need endless patience because when you get a great shot of an animal it does all seem worthwhile. There is a most apposite line in the article : “The goal is to relax and enjoy the full experience, not to succeed immediately whenever you try. Once you have patience and are prepared for any subject that might cross your path, you’ll be ready to face whatever challenge comes your way…….If you’re under the impression you only need to go out for an hour or two and will come back with a slew of keepers, don’t bother going out at all. It won’t happen (unless your luck is supernatural).”

I am not much of a wildlife photographer, actually I am worse than that, I can’t much see the point, let someone else who has the gear, the learning and the patience do it, I will admire their pictures. I doubt I have ever taken a worthwhile animal picture in all the 50 years I have been photographing but I do understand that for many people it is their burning desire. This article is very good, if you are interested in wild life photography read it.


Photo by Michele Burns

Getting Started in Wildlife Photography

Many new advances in camera equipment have made better gear more affordable for everyone, bringing a lot of photographers closer to realizing our goals in photographing wildlife.

For those of you who have never tried a style like this before, don’t worry. Though wildlife photography is a demanding art form and requires practice to balance the many variables and technicalities involved, the rewards far outweigh any difficulties. These seven steps will help you as you begin your adventure in the great outdoors.

Understand Your Gear

Whether you’ve just upgraded to a new camera or you’re using one you’ve had for a while, you need to know your equipment like the back of your hand. In the wild, getting or missing the perfect shot often comes down to the span of nanoseconds. Consequently, the only way to succeed in wildlife photography is to know instinctively how each part of your gear operates and at what speed each function responds.

When out on a shoot, you will need more than preparation beforehand (such as micro-adjusting your lenses for focus inconsistencies) to carry you through successfully. You must know, among other things, the exact time required for a specific lens to focus when on certain settings, how much time you have in a burst before the buffer maxes out, whether the meter will be right, and how much you can recover the shadows and highlights if need in post-production.

Memorizing every little quirk of your gear is a crucial accomplishment for all types of photography, but has the most immediate benefits for action photography (wildlife, sports, etc.), since instantaneous movement is part of what you want to catch.

This might be a bit over the top, most lenses do have variations in focusing and it is worth knowing about it but micro adjustments will not make a great difference in most situations unless you are working at the shallowest depth of field but certainly knowing how best to use the exposure functions on your camera is essential. If you don’t try one of our DSLR Courses

Read more here

here are some more tips to help you

77 photography techniques, tips and tricks for taking pictures of anything

Wildlife Photography Tutorial – How To Photograph Wildlife video

12 Great Online Tutorials on Wildlife Photography


5 Simple Ways to Manage Your Photos While Traveling

From Jason at Lightstalking we get this article addressing the problems of image storage when travelling. I think all his options are good, as with everything to do with photography all options are ultimately a compromise of some sort. I have found that travelling with a card reader and a stack of data sticks is the answer. They are suitably cheap now, 7 Day Shop have 64gb USB sticks for less than £13, I usually download in an internet cafe or hotel computer and put my images on 2 sticks for back up and keep them in different places in my luggage. Anyway here are the 5 suggestions from LS

Travelling with your camera is one of the great pleasures in life. Capturing the sights and emotions of far flung cultures is a great way of learning and understanding the world around you. When you are travelling, photography seems somehow easier, you take more images and often lose the self consciousness that you may have at home. However, with this glut of new shots, how can you manage them whilst on the move? I am sure many of us have experienced the pain of a failed card or drive, a pain that would be intensified if it were to happen on a trip of a lifetime. So what are your options?

Laptop and a Spare Drive

This is perhaps the most efficient option but also the heaviest and, of course, there is the risk that your laptop could get stolen. However, with small form factor and powerful laptops available such as the Apple Air series, combined with software such as Lightroom and a spare external hard-drive to back up to, this can be a great option. Some of the advantages here are not having to worry too much about hard drive space, the ability to catalogue and keyword your shots whilst away and being able to do some image post production work, the last two being significant time savers for when you return home.

10 Critical Assumptions That Can Stifle Your Artistic Goals

This is an interesting article on Lightstalking by  William Petruzzo I think many of William’s points can be applied to various areas of our lives

Every single one of us holds assumptions. They are part of being human. We assume there won’t be too much traffic on the way home from work, or that there will be way too much. We assume it will be hard to find a partner, or that it will be exceedingly easy. We assume that we’ll be able to pull the details out of the sky, or we assume that the camera doesn’t have enough dynamic range.

Assumptions are cognitive shortcuts based on patterns.

Human beings are pattern-matchers. We find patterns everywhere we can, and then use them to take cognitive shortcuts. Broken windows don’t mean the neighborhood is rough. But see enough broken windows in rough neighborhoods and soon when you see one, your brain will be taking the cognitive shortcut and concluding that the neighborhood must be rough.

Assumptions aren’t necessarily a negative thing, however. For example, my dog, Mikey, always greets people who come to the door. If I am working, and Mikey eagerly jumps up and runs to the door, I’m not going to spend energy considering the many things his haste could mean. Instead, I’m going to follow the pattern and take the cognitive shortcut to conclude that someone must be at the door and I may need to go welcome them.

A critical assumption is different in that the shortcut it provides might sidestep a potentially important, or perhaps the only, path to some desired outcome.

For example, let’s say I’m loading all my camera gear in the car and I’m going out to photograph the local squirrel infestation. I’ve seen them running around for weeks, and I know all their favourite spots. When I get there, however, I find that the local pest control has ‘relocated’ the problem. Now I have all my gear in the car and nothing I have intended to photograph. The outcome I desired was artsy images of adorable squirrels. The critical assumption was that I have all the time in the world to create those squirly images, and that the infestation wasn’t a problem someone else was attempting to solve.

If I had identified that critical assumption, I would have taken different actions and I would have quite the conversation starter hanging, perfectly arranged, on the wall of my office.

Want to observe the critical assumptions in your own life? Wait for the next time you get caught in the bathroom with an empty roll of toilet paper. If you never assumed there’d be toilet paper available, you’d probably never be caught without it.

That example starts to go to an extreme though. Critical assumptions lend a hand to the everyday uncertainties of life. They’re not altogether avoidable. But, if you can identify them and dispel them, or at least prevent them from being equated to “Truth”, you’ll be opening up a lot of pathways to whatever it is you’re aiming for.

So although critical assumptions come in every size and just about every degree of consequence, and are usually invisible until it’s too late, I’d like to talk about some of the high-level critical assumptions that a lot of us might relate to. Not the ones being formed in your day to day, but the ones forming your day to day. The larger ones that take hold almost like they are personal values. Not the ones that keep you from getting to work on time, the ones that keep you from quitting your job.

Critical Assumption #1: I’ll be ready when I get there.

Critical Assumption#2: I’m not the kind of person who…

Critical Assumption #3: I can’t do anything until I get organized.

Critical Assumption #4: I’m not good enough.

Want to see more and read the commentary on the above go here

I am teaching a class on Composition tonight, starting with Henri Cartier-Bresson as a guide, here are some of his pictures







7 Things to Keep in Mind When Doing Travel Photography

Our Travel Photography course is stuffed full of advice, ideas and ways of improving your holiday snaps, so just 7 seems a bit mean. However all advice can be taken and used or discarded and the 7 points made here are all points we make too.

When traveling there are things that are not in your control, especially if photography is one of the main reasons you are traveling. That doesn’t necessarily mean that there is nothing to be done. Here are 7 things to keep in mind when doing travel photography. See the magnificent 7 here





_MG_6502Here is the synopsis of our Travel Photography Course

We have re-written this course to concentrate on the practicalities and desires of photographic travellers. The course will help you to think about why you want to take pictures when you are on holiday and how you are going to get the very best out of each situation. Whether you are enjoying a weekend city-break, a cultural holiday, a couple of weeks at the beach or trekking in remote areas, travel offers some of the most exciting opportunities for taking great pictures.

This course aims to help you make the most of those opportunities. Subject areas covered include: how to photograph city scenes, landscapes, buildings, monuments, people and wildlife. We’ll look at great images by top photographers and consider practical advice to help you make pictures that stand out from the crowd and which capture the essence of your destination.

We will consider the practicalities of travelling with your camera: what sort of accessories you might want to take with you, tips on safety and keeping your equipment working properly together with the need to be sensitive to local cultures and laws.



Interesting Photography Trivia to Casually Drop Into a Conversation

Those nice folks over at Lightstalking have conjured up this interesting piece that will inform and engage you I am sure

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing or so the saying goes. Of course, generally in photographic circles, a little knowledge is not so much dangerous as potentially embarrassing. Misquoting a tidbit of photographic information will soon be jumped upon by the elders of our community leaving you in virtual tatters, your online credibility shredded or worse still, your real life peers looking down at you. One way to combat this is to arm yourself with some entirely useless, but undeniably interesting facts about our chosen pastime, the sort of things that can regain your street cred amongst the photographic elite. So without further ado, lets look at some conversation enhancing photography trivia.

Origins of the Name Kodak

Since the day George Eastman launched perhaps the world’s most famous photographic company, there has been speculation as to the origins of it’s name. Was it derived from some deep light related Latin or Greek? Perhaps it emanated from the mystical east, where names often have spiritual meaning. The reality is a little more down to earth, Eastman liked the letter K, he thought it was strong and incisive. After playing with many combinations of letters all starting with K, the final decision was Kodak and a legend was born.

see more interesting conversation grabbers here


Building the Right PC for Your (Serious) Photography Needs

I definitely think a good computer is necessary for photographic needs, what might be fine for your every day work is probably a bit lacking for serious photographic requirements. As much RAM as you can fit is a usual cry from photographers and the monitor, well the best graphics monitor you can afford is preferred but at the top end they do get expensive. Dzvonko Petrovski on Lightstalking starts this article by declaring himself a PC, have to ‘fess up I am definitely a MAC man. Last night I was teaching our Lightroom class and those with PC’s were constantly asking, how do I make a new folder?, where is that? this doesn’t work? The one’s with a MAC just smiled serenely. That doesn’t mean a MAC is better but as they say people love their MACs but like a bad relationship, people tolerate their PC’s. I know contentious but oh so true. Anyway this is just about PC computers because you can’t build your own MAC just like you can’t build your own Bentley


First of all, I must say that I am a PC guy. Many photographers choose iMacs over PCs for the “stability” and such, but I haven’t seen big difference in it, to be honest.

What kind of a computer does a photographer need? Well, you can go ahead with almost any decent computer, but if it isn’t up to par, it will slow you down significantly. I won’t get into specific brands, as in whether you need a Kingston or Corsair solid state drives for the differences in product specifications.

Photographers, as well as gamers need quite a lot of raw processing power in their computers. But that needs to be paired with so many different things that gamers will never need. For example, a 10-bit monitor. No game (as far as I know, and I do play a lot of games) supports 10 bit color, but photography on the other hand easily goes to 12 bit color space even with the entry-level DSLRs out there……

When talking about monitors: the bigger the better. Opting for factory calibrated to cover the most used color spaces is a good choice. Dell and Asus currently have good 10 bit monitors for affordable prices. 10 bit monitor has 1024 shades of each color, instead of 256 on the regular consumer monitors, which means they get better gradients, and better color reproduction than consumer grade. You should go for decent IPS panel (reading reviews is wise) with refresh rate not bigger than 5ms. You will want to use it for things other than photography sometimes. There are monitors that are much wider than usual, which is practically replacing 2 or 3 monitor setups. This is really good thing to have because it makes editing so much easier.

Want more of this, it is really interesting….

How to Build the Confidence to Photograph People

This article starts in a way that makes it sound like a self help book but then goes on with very sound advice. If you are interested in photographing people on the street then reading this would be most instructive. The main points I agree with are: engage with your subject; know your equipment; practise with people who trust you; shoot with groups.

This is from the pages of Lightstalking, a site I would recommend to you. This article is by

Karlo de Leon is a travel and lifestyle photographer. He has a knack for understanding how and why things work, taking particular interest in lighting, composition, and visual storytelling. Follow him on The 4AM Chronicles where he shares his insights, ideas, and concepts on photography, travel, and life in general.

Portraiture, lifestyle, street, and travel photography – these are some of the genres that feature people as main subject. For some, these are enjoyable activities, being able to interact and communicate with people. Including a human element in photographs can bring a bit more life into their art. For others, it can be a disastrous nightmare, perhaps. The idea of talking with someone they don’t know very well, or being confronted by strangers they’re trying to photograph can be a bit too daunting.….READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE








all images ©Keith Barnes

back to the article here


Texture: The Secret Sauce of Atmospheric Photography

Knowing how to properly use texture in your images can make a profound difference to your photography. Composition, lighting, and tonal range are all important elements to consider…but by looking at the texture as well you can really ensure that the image you create is a true work of art……..more here Here’s a question for you…..why do photographers take long siestas in the middle of the day?

Storm Photography Tips (With 10 Stunning Examples)

Heading out to shoot a storm can be a great way to come back with some exceptional photographs. As you can see from the photographs below, storms often result in moody, dramatic and eye-popping images. But there are a lot of things to think about before you go out on a shoot like this, not all of them necessarily photography related. These are a few things you may want to consider. Read more