Recommended Camera Settings For Landscape Photography

Recommended Camera Settings For Landscape Photography

As with all genres of photography, landscapes can be incredibly varied in the way that we photograph them and the camera settings we use. There is no right way to photograph landscapes, but I have found over the years that I have settings that I keep going back to. They’re default camera settings that I use as a starting point for almost all my landscape photos. I often adjust them as I shoot, but they are a great place to start. Although there is no “best”, these are my recommended camera settings for landscape photography.

El Capitan from Tunnel View, Yosemite National Park, California, USA

Basics

To start, always shoot in RAW. If you’re not shooting in RAW, you’re throwing away valuable data from your photos and limiting what you can do with them in post-production. This applies no matter what you’re photographing.

I also recommend always using Manual (M) or Aperture Priority (A/Av) mode. These modes give you far more control over your exposure than any of the automatic modes. Especially avoid P (no, it doesn’t stand for “Professional”), and anything called “Auto”, “Scene”, “Landscape”, etc. They will make decisions about your photos that you want to be making yourself.

exposure best recommended camera settings for landscape photography

Exposure

The key to learning how to expose landscape photos well is in the histogram. The histogram gives you all the information you need about the light that is reaching your camera’s sensor. When you look at the histogram, you can see if you will be able to capture the entire dynamic range of light in one exposure or not.

Adjust your exposure so that the information in the histogram is pushed as far to the right as possible without going too far and overexposing the highlights. This is called “expose to the right”, or ETTR. As long as you haven’t blown out the highlights, you can recover an overexposed image in post-production without losing image quality. Trying to recover darker parts of the image by increasing exposure in post will result in much lower image quality, which is why exposing to the right is better than the left.

ETTR histogram best recommended camera settings for landscape photography

Your camera will have a choice of metering modes. The most useful for landscape photography is matrix metering. This means when the camera is metering the scene it analyzes the light in the entire image. Spot or centre-weighted metering modes aren’t as useful unless you’re photographing extreme lighting situations such as snow.

Aperture

Your aperture is a critical camera setting for landscape photography because it affects multiple elements of the image. Firstly, it affects depth-of-field (DOF), which dictates how much of your image will be in focus. Secondly, your aperture affects your exposure by controlling how much light comes through as it opens and closes. Finally, sharpness can be affected by your aperture. These things are all important for creating well exposed, in-focus, sharp landscape photos.



My default aperture is always f/11 when photographing landscapes. I will sometimes stop up or down if I need to for exposure reasons, but I rarely shoot below f/8 or above f/16. This aperture range gives a large DOF that keeps most of the image in focus from foreground to background. It also keeps the image sharp by preventing the image softness that occurs at the extreme ends of the aperture range.

Sunset over Oakura Beach Holiday Park, Taranaki, New Zealand

Shutter Speed

Because aperture is the most important camera setting in landscape photography, shutter speed is usually secondary. Shutter speed doesn’t have as much effect on a landscape photo unless there are moving elements in the image like water, clouds, or people. Once I’ve set my aperture, I generally leave the shutter speed at whatever I need to get a good exposure.

The exception is when shooting long exposure photography. If I’m shooting in low light or using a neutral density (ND) filter, I use Manual mode, and set my aperture first. I then play around with the shutter speed until I get the look I want, adjusting ISO as I go to get a good exposure.

ISO

As a rule, the lower your ISO the better. Always start with your ISO set to 100 then raise it if necessary. The higher you push your ISO the more you will see digital noise and lose image quality. High-ISO performance in modern cameras continues to improve, but I would still recommend trying to keep it as low as possible. The only time I will start with a higher ISO is for astrophotography, which can see you using ISO settings over 3200.

ISO best recommended camera settings for landscape photography

Focus

Unless you’re using a manual-focus lens, you’ll need to choose between manual (MF) and auto-focus (AF). I use a combination of both. I usually start with AF and use MF to fine-tune focus if necessary. If AF isn’t performing well due to low light or low contrast, I’ll switch to MF.

You will need to make a couple of decisions about your AF settings for landscape photography. The first is focus mode. As you won’t be focusing on any moving subjects, stick to One-Shot/Single-Servo focus mode. Various camera manufacturers call it different things.

The second thing you need to decide is which of the focus points you’re going to use. Most cameras will allow you to choose between using a single focus point, a group of focus points, or all the available focus points. I always use a single point and focus about one-third of the distance between the camera and the furthest element in the scene.

Shutter Release

Most of the time I prefer to have my big clumsy hands clear of the camera when the shutter opens to reduce the chance of camera movement. I have used a remote shutter release cable in the past, but these days I usually use a 2-second timer. This works for almost all landscape photography situations.

White Balance

Because you’re shooting in RAW (don’t make me say it again), your white balance (WB) settings aren’t critical. You can change WB easily in post-production. That said, you may like to use one of your camera’s WB presets to give you a better starting point when you upload your photos. I leave my WB to auto as I find it gives me pretty good results and I always change it in post anyway.

As a color-blind photographer, I’ve found that using the ColorChecker Passport is useful in tricky situations with different light sources. I haven’t found it necessary for landscape photography, though.



Exposure Bracketing

In situations where you can’t capture the entire dynamic range of light in one exposure, you’ll need to bracket your exposures. There are various ways of doing this. One of the most common ways to do it is to use the exposure bracketing feature that most cameras have now. There’s nothing wrong with this, but I suggest you take a little more control over the process by using your histogram and capturing each exposure manually.

Using either Manual or Aperture Priority, take a base exposure that’s exposed well for the majority of the scene. You then adjust the exposure manually if you’re using Manual mode or with the exposure compensation function in Aperture Priority mode. Increase your exposure until you have an image that captures all the highlights (look at your histogram), then repeat for the shadows by lowering your exposure.

Stabilization

There are various methods you can use to stabilize your gear, including tripods, monopods, and image stabilization technology. If you’re using the image stabilization that’s built into your camera or lens, I would suggest only turning it on when shooting handheld and when really necessary. Always turn it off when using a tripod.

Know Your Gear

All these recommended camera settings for landscape photography can be used no matter what camera system you’re using, but they’re only defaults. I will always change some of them as I photograph a particular scene. You’ll learn what works for you and your photography style.

Learn how to change the settings on your camera and practice changing them. You don’t want to get caught out trying to figure it out while your camera is set up in front of a gorgeous landscape. The more you do it, the quicker you’ll get, and it will become second-nature. The more decisions you learn to make yourself, the more control you’ll have over your camera and your photography.

How To Take Sharper Photos

How To Take Sharper Photos

We’ve all been there. You’re photographing a beautiful scene, the light is gorgeous, and you get some killer shots. You can’t wait to get home to see how they turned out, but when you upload them you’re totally bummed to realize they’re “soft” (meaning blurry and unusable).

Nothing will ruin a photo quite like it being out of focus or blurry. Our eyes are incredibly good at picking up when an image isn’t sharp, and adding sharpness in post-production won’t fix a blurry image. So, how do you take sharper photos? First you need to understand what causes blurriness in photography.

how to take sharper photos Waves washing over rocks on Tea Tree Bay at susnet, Noosa National Park, Noosa Heads, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

The Five Reasons Your Photos Aren’t Sharp

1. They’re Out of Focus

The focus systems in modern cameras are incredibly high-tech, but you need to know how to use them correctly to achieve correct focus. Of course, “correct” focus is a subjective thing. Which parts of the image you want to be in focus is part of your own creative expression, but in order to control what’s in focus and what isn’t, you need to know how your camera’s focus controls work.

2. Camera Blur

Any movement of your camera while the shutter is open will cause camera blur. Unless you are doing this intentionally as a creative technique, you want to learn how to minimize camera movement during exposures. Camera blur usually occurs due to a combination of slow shutter speeds and camera movement.



3. Movement Blur

As with camera blur, any subject movement while the shutter is open will prevent that part of the scene from being sharp. Knowing how to deal with this will depend on your subject. Taking sharp photos of a subject like landscapes with little movement requires different settings to getting sharp photos with a lot of movement, like sports or birds.

4. Wrong Aperture Settings

Your lens aperture affects not only how much light comes into your camera sensor, but also how much of the scene is in focus. Depth-of-field is directly controlled by the aperture of your lens. Understanding aperture and how it affects focus and sharpness is critical if you want to take sharper photos. Again, aperture settings are not only a technical decision, but also a creative one. If you want control over which parts of your image are sharp and in focus, you must know how aperture affects these things.

5. Your Lens Is Dirty

This one is something that people often don’t consider when trying to figure out how to take sharper photos. If your lens is wet, dirty, or foggy, your photos won’t be sharp. Ever tried looking at yourself in a dirty mirror?

how to take sharper photos Aerial Photo of Noosa North Shore, Noosa National Park, Noosa Heads, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

How To Take Sharper Photos

Because there are many things that contribute to image sharpness, there are quite a few things you can do to take sharper photos. Each of these settings or techniques deals with one or more of the above five reasons why your photos aren’t sharp. If you apply each of them to your photography, I promise you’ll start getting home with more razor-sharp keepers.

Automatic Focusing Modes

Modern auto-focus (AF) systems can do a pretty amazing job, but which mode is best? Most cameras will include single-shot, continuous, and auto AF modes. Each brand uses different names for each of these, but they all do essentially the same thing. If you want full control over the focus of your photos, I would recommend avoiding your camera’s auto-AF mode. You don’t want your camera deciding where to focus any more than you want it deciding your exposure settings.

This leaves single and continuous AF modes. Unless you’re photographing fast-moving subjects like sports or birds, I would stick with single-shot AF. I recommend always using spot-focus as it allows you to choose which focus point to use, and therefore have full control over which part of your image is in focus.

Manual Focus

There are times that manual focus (MF) can help you take sharper photos. If you’re using a MF lens you don’t have any other choice, but even if your lens supports AF, learning to focus manually is worth the effort. Sometimes your AF system can struggle to find a focus point in low light or in low-contrast scenes. You may also find that your AF is missing focus sometimes, so learning to refine or check focus manually is a good idea.

Focus Peaking

One of my favorite features of the Sony mirrorless cameras is focus peaking. It works by overlaying colored lines on the areas of the image that are in focus. I can’t imagine going back to using an optical viewfinder without focus peaking. It’s especially useful when focusing manually. If you’re using a camera with focus peaking, I strongly recommend turning it on. It takes a little getting used to, but it will definitely help you take sharper photos.

how to take sharper photos aerial photo of Tea Tree Bay and Granite Bay at sunset, Noosa National Park, Noosa Heads, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

Hyperfocal Distance

You may have heard of using hyperlocal distance to help with focusing. It’s one of those terms that has a tendency to make a lot of people switch off because it sounds super technical and geeky, and it kind of is. The thing with hyperfocal distance is that you can use it without really needing to fully understand the physics behind it or carry around charts to figure it all out while you’re just trying to take pretty pictures.

Put simply, hyperfocal distance affects where your depth of field begins and ends. With landscape photography, you probably want as much of the scene, from foreground to infinity, in focus. Hyperfocal distance is the optimal distance from your lens that you should focus on in order to keep as much of the scene as possible in focus. If you really want to geek out on this, I recommend using the PhotoPills app. If you don’t, all you need to know is that if your focus point is roughly one-third of the distance from your lens to the furthest part of the scene, you’ll be in the right spot.

Back-Button Focus

If you’re still pressing your shutter release button half-way to focus, you’re making a lot more work for yourself, and probably missing focus more than you should. There’s a better way. Change the settings on your camera so that your focus button is on the back of your camera instead. That way you can compose your shot, then focus, and then take the exposure. Each camera will use different settings, so you’ll need to read your manual to figure out exactly how to do this.

Use A Tripod

This one is a no-brainer. If your camera is on a solid, stable tripod you won’t get any blur from camera movement. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how important a good tripod is. Find one that suits your needs and budget and use it. It’s no good to you in the back of your wardrobe. I use a 3 Legged Thing travel tripod and my camera never goes anywhere without it.



Remote Shutter-Release

Even when it’s on a tripod, your big, clumsy mitts will cause camera movement when you’re pressing the shutter release button. A remote shutter-release cable will get your hands off the camera, meaning it will be as still as the tripod allows it to be. As an added bonus, you can use it for long-exposures when in bulb mode.

2-Second Timer

If you don’t fancy adding another item to your camera bag, use a two-second timer. You set up your shot the same way you would otherwise, press the shutter-release button, get your hand off it, and wait a whole two seconds. I use this technique for 95% of my landscape photos. The only exceptions are when I need to time my shots perfectly, like when I’m trying to photograph crashing waves.

how to take sharper photos waves crashing over rocks at sunrise at Point Cartwright Beach, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

Image Stabilization

Many modern cameras and lenses include image stabilization (IS). It can be a very useful feature in some photography situations, but not all. It can be a great way to take sharper photos when shooting hand-held, but always turn IS off if your camera is on a tripod. Also be aware that it will chew through your batteries, so only turn it on if you need it. IS should be a last resort for increasing image sharpness.

Shutter Speed

One of the best ways to increase your chances of taking sharper photos is to aim for faster shutter speeds. A faster shutter speed will reduce the chance of both camera and movement blur. Unless you’re intentionally trying to include movement in your image, aim for a shutter speed equal to or faster than your focal length. For example, if you’re shooting with a 50mm lens, keep your shutter speed at 1/50th or faster. This only applies if you’re shooting hand-held, and you can shoot one or two stops slower if you’re using image stabilization.

When using a tripod, you have a couple of options. You can use faster shutter speeds to freeze movement, or alternatively use much slower shutter speeds to create long-exposures. This is a great way to blur out moving objects, and works particularly well with moving water and clouds. It’s also a great way to make people moving through your scene disappear.

Aperture Sweet Spot

Every lens will have an aperture range that is sharpest. Shooting within this range will maximize your chances of taking sharper photos. It’s usually in the middle of the aperture range around f/8. Every lens is different, so it will take some experimentation. When shooting landscapes, I rarely shoot outside f/8-f/16. Any higher or lower and my photos never seem to be as sharp. I find f/11-f/16 gives me plenty of depth-of-field in 95% of my photos.

You should be aware that a larger aperture (lower f-stop number) will have much more shallow depth-of-field than a smaller aperture. Try to avoid the temptation to close your aperture too much though. Image sharpness drops off significantly above about f/16.

Focus Stacking

For the 5% of times that I can’t get a large enough depth-of-field with one shot, I will take a couple of shots and focus-stack them. It’s a simple technique that allows you to keep everything sharp from a foreground element right in front of your lens to mountains and clouds on the horizon. Simply focus and take your shot the way you usually would then refocus on the foreground element and take another exposure. Painting the sharper exposure into the foreground in Photoshop is easy.

Clean Your Lens

I shouldn’t need to tell you this, but we all need reminding sometimes. Always carry a clean microfibre lens cloth with you and use it. Clean the front and back elements of the lens because they can both get dirty. I also use alcohol lens wipes because they clean off grime and salt that a lens cloth often smears over the glass. While you’re at it, clean your sensor, or pay a professional to clean it for you.

Faulty AF

Sometimes, even when you’re doing everything in your power to take sharper photos, you still find you’re coming home to find they’re blurry, or a little soft. It could be that your AF is faulty. It happens. Some cameras are particularly prone to this, so a quick google search might tell you whether it’s a common problem with the gear you’re using. If you think that might be the case, it’s worth taking it to a professional to assess.

Now Go Take Sharper Photos

Learning how to apply these techniques and camera settings will go a long way to helping you take sharper photos, but like everything, you need to practice. Slow down when you’re shooting and think about your settings and how they will affect the sharpness of your image. As you do this it will start to become second-nature and you will find yourself coming home with more razor-sharp keepers.

17 Travel Photography Tips That Won’t Cost You A Cent

17 Travel Photography Tips That Won’t Cost You A Cent

Coming home from your vacation or trip with great travel photos always feels amazing. Just think of all the 😍👌❤️👏 comments they’ll get on Instagram! The truth is that taking better travel photos isn’t that hard. I’m not suggesting it’s easy to take amazing travel photos, but I’m going to give you a few travel photography tips that will dramatically increase your chances of arriving home from your next trip with a lot more keepers.

1. Travel Light

Less is more when it comes to travel photography. If your gear is big and heavy you’re far less likely to want to carry it around all day. I don’t know how many great shots I’ve missed over the years because I just didn’t want to carry my camera bag anymore. Try taking the bare minimum that you need for the day. You’ll be more likely to use it, and you’ll be less of a target for thieves.

travel-photography-tips-prague-castle-sunset-czech-republic

2. Plan Ahead

You might get some good photos if you wing it with camera in hand, but your chances of getting great travel photos will be much better if you plan ahead. Research your travel destination before you leave on social media. Instagram and Pinterest are great places to start. Make a shot-list of locations that you want to photograph and plan where and when you want to shoot them. You don’t have to get them all – I rarely do – but you’ll get more than if you don’t plan at all!

3. Get Up Early And Stay Out Late

Set your alarm to get up early – preferably before the sun comes up. Early-morning light is gorgeous and you’ll likely beat the crowds. Likewise, stay out later in the day for sunset. There’s a good reason they call it Golden Hour. You’ll find the light at the beginning and end of the day far more dramatic, and it’s often easier to shoot at those times due to cooler temperatures and fewer people around.

sunrise main beach noosa heads sunshine coast queensland australia

4. Stay Out Really Late

If you want to get creative, don’t pack up after the sun goes down – the fun’s just beginning! Blue Hour, or twilight, begins about 20-30 minutes after sunset, and it’s by far my favourite time of day to shoot. You’ll need a tripod as the light is getting very low, but you can have a lot of fun playing with long exposures. It’s also a great time for cityscapes because the lights of the city are coming on and there’s still some light in the sky. If you really want a challenge, wait until it’s really dark and try your hand at astrophotography. All you need is a clear, dark sky.

milky way sunshine beach noosa heads sunshine coast queensland australia

5. Leave Your Tripod Behind

Most of the travel photography tips you’ll read will encourage you to take a tripod with you. Despite my last tip, I would encourage you to leave it behind unless you think you will be shooting in low light or long exposures. A tripod will slow you down, partly due to size and weight, but also because they take time to set up and pack down. Try leaving it behind some days while you’re travelling. You might enjoy the freedom of shooting handheld. If you can’t handle not having a tripod with you, try a small GorillaPod or invest in a lightweight travel tripod.

6. Use Your Smartphone

Even if you carry your camera everywhere with you, don’t forget your smartphone also takes great photos. Often pulling your phone out has advantages over your camera. Its subtlety allows you to get photos you may not be able to with your camera. More and more tourist sites are banning cameras, but you can still use your phone. It’s also a good idea to leave the camera behind sometimes to fool your family into thinking that spending time with them is the reason for the trip.



7. Photograph Children

If there’s one subject that will guarantee to add some fun to your travel photography, it’s photographing kids. Just like big people, kids look and act differently everywhere you go, and capturing those unique behaviours can make for some great images and stories. Taking great photos of kids can be challenging, but it’s totally worth the effort, and anyone can do it with a few child photography tips.

children's-day-mozambique-pemba-iris-ministries

8. Back Up Your Photos Every Day

Don’t wait until you get home from your travels to back your photos up. Take a backup drive with you and back everything up each day. Make sure you have enough memory card space for the trip so that you don’t need to delete anything off them, that way you’ll have two copies of all your photos in case of theft or memory failure. I always back up the photos on my smartphone too. I’ve discovered a little trick to free up space on my phone without deleting photos.

9. Talk To People

You’ll be amazed the doors that will open for you when you talk to people. You don’t have to be weird. Just strike up a conversation with the person next to you on the bus or the person who makes your coffee. Locals are the best source of information and travel tips. You never know what might come of it. You might make a friend, or you might get invited to a wedding (true story)!


10. Don’t Look Like A Photographer

It’s easier said than done, but being clever about not advertising the expensive gear you’re carrying around could save you a lot of trouble. I’ve already mentioned a couple of things previously, like travelling light and leaving your tripod behind. Another thing I would recommend is getting a camera strap that doesn’t scream CANON in big, bright letters around your neck. Also, there are some great camera bags out there that don’t look like camera bags at all. Try carrying your precious gear in something that doesn’t look like precious gear.

11. Be A Tourist

This flies in the face of my last tip somewhat, but hear me out. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard travel photographers turn their noses up or even flat-out abuse other photographers for taking “cliche” photos or “wasting time” visiting and photographing popular tourist spots. This one is really personal preference, but I would say those popular spots are popular for a good reason, and although I would prefer the view without the crowds, if I want to be a tourist or “cliche” and photograph a popular location, I will. If you don’t live there, you’re a tourist. Embrace it.

Sunrise over Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

12. Take Selfies

Some of my favourite travel photos are the selfies taken with a group of buddies or people I’ve met along the way. They tell a story, and even though you won’t see them in my travel photography portfolio, they are often the ones that end up on my wall or fridge. They make me smile and remind me of good times with people who are special in some way. I love using my GoPro for these shots. Every now and then I’ll take one with only me in it 😳

travel-photography-tips-puerto-escondido-mexico

13. Create Photo Stories

Telling a story with your photos can help create a body of work that is greater than the sum of its parts. What I mean by this is that great photos become more emotional and engaging when they are somehow linked to the photos before and after. You can do this using colour, or shooting the same subject from different perspectives or at different times of day, or follow a theme. The options are limitless. Try thinking about your travel photography as a story rather than a set of unrelated images.

14. Add A Human Touch

You’ve probably noticed that there’s a trend on Instagram of adding people to photos, especially landscapes and grand vistas. There’s a good reason they are so popular. People connect more with imagery that involves people. It makes the photo and the place feel more real. It can also create a sense of scale and can increase the viewer’s sense of wanting to be there.

lake-louise-banff-canadian-rockies-alberta-canada

15. Explore On Foot

I love to walk. Your idea of a vacation or trip may not be walking or hiking for hours, but you will find you see and experience so much more when you’re on foot. Of course, sometimes walking isn’t practical if you are going long distances, have luggage, or are being weighed down by screaming children. Many times it is, though, and I highly recommend it. It’s the best way to explore a new place. If you always travel from one place to the next on wheels you’ll miss out on the surprises and discoveries that moving slowly on foot provides.



16. Find A High Point

If you only ever take photos from ground level, you’re missing out on a whole world of opportunities. Getting up high will provide a different perspective of a place, whether it’s from a mountain, bridge, or tall building, there are amazing views to be had that you’ll miss out on if you’re always safe on the ground. I often research rooftop bars, that way I can get great photos while drinking beer – and I like drinking beer! Try researching hotels with good views before you book your accommodation. Tall hotels can be great spots for cityscape photography.

prague-czech-republic-rooftop-bar

17. Print Your Photos

Finally, at the risk of sounding like a skipping CD, print your photos! There is no excuse these days not to. Printing is cheap. Pick three or five of your favourite photos from your trip and print them. It doesn’t matter how big, or what medium you use, just print them. You’ll appreciate them so much more on your wall. They’ll bring back memories every time you look at them, and they’ll inspire you to keep improving your travel photography for your next trip.

Your Turn

This is by no means a complete list. I learn new things every time I go to a new destination, as I’m sure you do. I would love to hear your travel photography tips! What can you add to this list? Let me know in the comments!

The Best Lens For Landscape Photography

The Best Lens For Landscape Photography

For a long time, my go-to lens for landscape photography was the 24-70mm f/2.8. It’s an incredibly versatile lens. It’s fast and sharp. It’s by far one of the best lenses for landscape photography in my opinion. It’s also big, heavy, and expensive. It was my workhorse when I was still lugging around a big full-frame Nikon kit. As much as I loved it, I craved something wider, so I started looking into what I now consider to be the best lens for landscape photography.

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8 Tips For Photographing Children

8 Tips For Photographing Children

I am one of those people who naturally gravitate towards children. Apparently, I was always that child who wanted to hold the baby. Any baby. It’s just the way I am. I guess that’s what drew me to become a paediatric nurse. It’s also probably why I love to photograph children when I’m travelling.

Photographing children needs to be approached differently to other subjects, though. There are ethical considerations, which is another post altogether, but I want to show you a few tips that will help you to improve your child photography. Whether you’re photographing your kids or you’re trying to improve your travel photography, I’m sure you’ll find these helpful.

Put Them In Context

There is a tendency to want to photograph children the same way we do adults. Use a long lens and wide aperture to blur the background and make a lovely portrait. It isn’t wrong, and as you’ll see, I still do that. But showing kids in their own environment tells more of a story and shows their personality. It shows the viewer the world that child lives in and the things that are important to them. Try using wider lenses and taking a more documentary-style approach.

african-boys-mozambique-child-photography-tips
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Let Them Be Kids

If you’ve spent any time around children, you’ll know that they’re not very good at staying still. Or doing what you ask them to. Or behaving like adults. So don’t try to make them. Let them be kids. Let me be cheeky. Show them doing the things that kids do. Playing games. Making a mess. Having tantrums. Making faces. They’ll give you much more authentic, engaging photos if you let them be themselves.

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Get Down To Their Level

One of the defining characteristics of children is that they’re small. Babies are even smaller. If you want to show the world they live in, get on their level. Bend your knees. Sit on the floor. Lie in the mud. Get dirty. Kids spend enough time looking up at the world without us making them look up and smile for the camera. They’ll respond much more warmly and naturally to you if they see you’re willing to get down on their level.

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Be A Big Kid

This goes hand-in-hand with the previous tip. Get on their level mentally. Nothing will help you engage more with a child than being childish. This will come more naturally to some than others. Some people never really grow up. You don’t have to be a clown if that isn’t you, but playing games, making faces, laughing, and being more child-like will go a long way. Get on the other side of the camera and let them paint your nails pink from time to time.

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Include Their People

Don’t just photograph the child, photograph them with the people in their world. Their parents, brothers and sisters, and friends. Some of my favourite photos of children from my travels are those which show siblings or best friends. Capturing the bond between children makes for highly engaging photos.

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Make A Portrait

Although this isn’t something I do often, and in many ways goes against my standard approach to photographing children, sometimes you can shoot kids the same way you would an adult. I don’t have any rule for when I would or wouldn’t do this, it’s just something I might do if I feel it. I don’t pose them, but I do sometimes zoom in or get in close and isolate them with a shallow depth-of-field the way I would a headshot.

african-girl-mozambique-child-photography-tips
mexican-girl-child-photography-tips

Let Them Forget You’re There

This is the opposite of the previous point, and ties in more with my earlier tips about photographing them in their context and letting kids be kids. Sometimes as soon as a camera appears, it’s like a circus, and every child within earshot will be brawling to get in front of your lens. This is unavoidable in certain circumstances, but if you can avoid this hysteria and continue to photograph them when they’ve forgotten there’s a camera present, you will often get some fantastic candid photos which can really display their personality. Of course, this requires some wisdom. Don’t be the guy photographing children from the bushes in a playground.

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Have Fun

Not everyone likes kids, I get it. Some people hate kids. If that’s you, it’s probably best for everyone if you avoid them. For the rest of you humans, I can’t stress how much enjoyment you can get from taking a more kid-friendly approach to photographing children. It can be a little stressful sometimes, but it can be so rewarding. Who knows, you might even have a little fun!

How To Free Up Space On Your Phone Without Deleting Photos

How To Free Up Space On Your Phone Without Deleting Photos

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No matter how large the storage in modern smartphones gets, there never seems to be enough space. Even when I’m using my “real” camera, I still take a ton of photos on my phone, especially when I’m travelling. I’ve found a really simple way to free up space on your phone or tablet without having to delete photos and videos. And it’s free.

Free Up Space with Google Photos

The Google Photos app will back up all your photos and videos and then tell you how much space you can free up based on what has been backed up. It’s one of my favourite apps for travel photography. They’re all backed up to Google’s uber-secure servers in high-resolution, so you don’t lose anything.



Here’s a step-by-step guide:

1. Download the app for free (Apple/Android)

2. Log in using your Google account. If you use Gmail or another Google app you already have one. If not, it’s super simple and free to sign up.

3. Click “Device Folders” to select which folders you want to back up.

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4. Once all your media is backed up, click “Free Up Space”.

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5. Google Photos will analyse how much space it can free up based on what’s safely backed up. Click “Free Up …GB”.

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6. Wait for Google Photos to do its thing. It may take a while depending on how much space it’s freeing up.

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7. Take a ton more photos, knowing they’ll be safely backed up and you’ll never need to delete another photo of your kids, your dog, your lunch, or your travels!

Bonus tip:

You can access all your photos on the web (photos.google.com), where you can view, edit, and share them. You can also download them to your desktop computer if you want another copy for your own peace of mind. I always recommend having your photos backed up to multiple locations, so this is a great way to do it.

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