High Key Lighting Techniques for Professional Photographers

I’ve written many times about high key lighting techniques and how to achieve them. The term “high key” is a bit misleading. As I’ve often said, high key has nothing to do with overexposure of the subject (though a photographer can opt to take that approach if it suits the subject); it merely means the vast majority of tones are above middle gray and that the background is almost always white but may show some detail.

The nice thing about high key is that there are many ways to create it; I continue to find new tricks and variations on scenarios I’ve previously written about. Some are impressively simple; others are more complicated. As always, I’ll leave it to you to experiment with them and decide what will work best for you and your studio. I wish it were practical to include each and every technique in this book, but I’d be critiqued for repeating myself (and there isn’t enough room in this book, anyway). In a heartless bit of shameless promotion, I must advise you to buy all my other lighting books, now and in the future, to learn every trick.

My first scenario falls into the “simple” category and is really easy to set up, using two lights with umbrellas.

Simple High Key Lighting

The first light, the main light, is set on a stand in front of and to the side of the subject. The second light is set slightly behind the subject and aimed at the background. It’s best, in my opinion, to mount it on a boom so it can be centered over the subject’s head, but it will work nicely if mounted on a floor stand and feathered over the background. If you want a completely white background, the exposure behind the model’s head should be at least 2/3 stop brighter than the main light.My sample set the exposure value of the background light to be equal to that of the main light, and the result is a pure-white background behind her head that gradually falls off to light gray toward the bottom of the image.

I also set a white bookend at camera right and quite close to the model to open the shadows on her unlit side. See image 10.1 and diagram 10A.

I liked the look produced by the bookend fill card, but I wanted something with a bit more snap. I also wanted to get more contour to her face.

I set up two strip lights—one on each side of the background—and aimed them to the center. The lights were carefully positioned so there was no more than 1/10-stop difference over the 5 feet of important background behind the subject. The exposure value of the background lights, measured together, was equal to that of the main light. Setting the lights in this manner means the white paper background will have some detail (though slight) throughout.

Both strip lights were blocked by a black bookend to keep any spill light off the model and the camera’s lens.

The umbrella at camera left was swapped out with a medium softbox placed in approximately the same position. The white bookend at camera right was removed and replaced with a small softbox that was moved a bit farther back toward the background but aimed at my model’s side. This softbox was powered to be equal to the main light. See diagram 10B.

With all lights powered equally, I ended up with a series of images with a definite high key feel but with detail everywhere. Although I didn’t try it, I think this scenario would work equally well using umbrellas for the two subject lights. Larger, “normal” softboxes would work in place of the strip lights but would require more room. See image 10.2.

I thought it might be interesting to see a graded background, from the top down, so I turned off one of the strip lights and mounted the other on a boom, centered over the subject but far enough behind her that the light would not impact her look. I also replaced the medium softbox with a large softbox that was set at the same position to produce a broader, softer light. There is some spread of light from any modifier, of course, so I made sure the model was positioned far enough from the background so the light that fell on her from the strip light was equal to that of the main light. It took a few minor adjustments in her position, but the extra minute or two was worth it. Notice how the light from above defines her shoulders without being overly bright. It was metered to be equal to the main light at that point. See diagram 10C.

Look at the diagram and you’ll see that I also turned the small softbox toward the background. Because of its distance from the paper, it doesn’t add much more than a little extra gradation from the right to the left side. I powered it so the little bit of light that splashed to her side was equal to the main light. Because the effects of light are cumulative, it appears there is a highlight along her camera-right arm. Smoke and mirrors. And physics. See image 10.3.

The most important tool in your arsenal, especially for high key photography, is a light meter that’s calibrated to your equipment (using a meter straight out of the box is sometimes a mistake). No doubt you noticed that my model was wearing white clothing against a white background but there was detail wherever it was important. That would have been difficult to pull off if I had to guess at the exposure or use my camera’s LCD as a light meter (both are poor decisions). If you don’t know how to calibrate your meter, look at my blog (www.chrisgreylighting.com), where the process is described quickly and simply. The key to creating high key imagery, any imagery, is confident control over the lighting. If you know your meter is right on the money, you can set and power your lights exactly how you want them. Your camera will then do its job correctly.

Another approach is to use a large softbox (at least 3×4 feet, but bigger is better) as a background. Meter it by retracting the dome of the incident meter and pressing it flat against the fabric. The reading you will get will equal what’s needed for a perfect shot of a white surface. In other words, if you use that reading you will see detail in the fabric of the softbox, something you probably don’t want. Make note of the reading; it will become important when you set the main light. I set my large softbox on the floor. I would normally set it on a stand, but I wanted the posture that my model would give me if she were on her knees. When kneeling, the transfer of physical power from the legs through the torso and shoulders is subtle but different enough to use to one’s advantage.

My main light was a basic 36-inch umbrella, set directly over the lens. I powered the umbrella’s light to be 1 stop less than the reading I made from the front of the large softbox. This lesser reading would be the working aperture on the camera. In other words, the background light would overexpose itself by 1 stop, becoming completely white. Also, the full-stop overexposure would negate any shadow thrown by the umbrella while allowing some light to wrap itself around the model. Image 10.4 presents a practical overview of the lighting scenario, a very simple setup.

My main light was a basic 36-inch umbrella

When you crop in to the image, the beauty of this setup becomes evident. Facial features are nicely defined, while the background is pure white. There is detail in almost every part of her clothing, even those areas that intrude into the pure-white background. Working with calibrated equipment is essential to pulling off tightly controlled shots such as this. See image 10.5.


Set two white bookends on each side of the large softbox, angled parallel to the subject. Set a bare-tubed strobe on a boom, with the tube directly over the camera, powered to 1 stop below that of the softbox. You’ll still get the wraparound effect of light from the softbox, while the two bookends will soften the effect of the bare-tubed strobe. See diagram 10D.

wraparound effect of light from the softbox

You’ll notice immediately, if you’ve measured the light with a calibrated meter, that the model’s white dress is perfectly represented, with detail in all areas except those affected by wraparound light. This is beautiful, simple, beauty light. It’s high key, but with important detail throughout.

Here’s an easy way to vignette a high key image to a white border, a very effective way to enhance the high key effect. Begin with your favorite image. Image 10.6 was made with a medium softbox in front of a larger softbox, powered 1 full stop less than the big box.

In Photoshop, use the Lasso tool to create a freehand shape around the subject. The intent is to make everything outside the line feather to white. Personally, I think this works better if the shape is a more irregular, organic shape than a basic oval or circle. See image 10.7.

Once you’ve drawn the shape, go to Select>Modify> Feather and set the pixel amount to soften the edge. Larger files require a larger pixel spread for a soft boundary; play with your files to determine what you like. This file (image 10.8) was rather large, about 45MB when opened, so I feathered by 150 pixels.

Next, go to Select>Inverse. This means you will affect the area outside the line, rather than the interior of the selection. See image 10.9.

Fill the selection with white. If you have other colors in the Foreground/Background palette, choose White from the menu. Check to be sure the Blending Mode is Normal and Opacity is at 100%. See image 10.10.

You’ll probably have to go back and re-draw the Lasso pattern a few times before you get the perfect effect. It takes only a minute or two to get through the procedure, and the result will add a great deal of visual interest to your final image, making it look even more high key than how it was shot. I think it’s an easy jump to see how effectively this trick would work on other forms of portraiture, such as seniors or bridal portraits. See image 10.11.

Lasso tool to create a freehand shape around the subject

re-draw the Lasso pattern a few times before you get the perfect



Olympus E-P5 mirrorless camera were leaked

Olympus E-P5 mirrorless camera

Olympus E-P5 mirrorless camera

Olympus E-P5 mirrorless camera

Just the added day added photos of the Olympus E-P5 mirrorless camera were leaked, and now acknowledgment to added leaks (via Mobile01 and 43Rumors), added blueprint of the camera accept aswell been revealed. So far what we do apperceive of the E-P5 is that it will be a 16MP with a angry LCD display. According to these new leaks, the 16MP sensor and the angry LCD accept been confirmed, with the angel sensor getting the aforementioned as the E-M5, and the LCD affectation featuring 1.04 actor dots. Added blueprint of the E-P5 includes the TruePic VI angel processing engine, an bigger autofocus arrangement which is said to be commensurable to the E-M5, bigger 5-axis stabilization, 5fps shooting, focus peaking, bang 1/8000 sec and as mentioned in the antecedent rumors, will appear with congenital WiFi for wireless appointment of photos and videos. Still no chat on if absolutely will the camera be clearly announced, but affront not as we will accumulate our eyes and aerial bald for added information.

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Canon 5D Mark III firmware update, Fix improved AF, HDMI output

Canon 5D Mark III firmware update

If your camera arsenal includes a 5D Mark III, prepare to get your download on. Earlier today, Canon released a major firmware update for the hit DSLR — version 1.2.1 enables clean, uncompressed HDMI output with simultaneous LCD display and recording to CF or SD cards, along with cross-type autofocus for apertures as small as f/8, bringing that aspect of AF capability in line with the EOS-1D X. You’ll be able to take advantage of improved autofocus performance even when using an f/5.6 lens with a 1.4x extender, or an f/4 lens with a 2x extender. On the video front, version 1.2.1 will let you boot an uncompressed YCbCr 4:2:2 feed to an external recorder, enabling your pick of codecs and frame rates, while also eliminating arbitrary limits on record time. The free download, available for recent versions of Mac OS and Windows, Canon 5D Mark III firmware

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Source : engadget

Accessory Flash Diffusion

Even if you have only one flash unit at your disposal, you can create stunning imagery if you plan your attack in a logical fashion.

We know, of course, that large, broad light sources will deliver an even spread of soft light. These sources are almost always large softboxes or umbrellas and, while there is definite value in having studio equipment available, here are a couple of ways to approach beauty and glamour photography with minimal equipment.

You will need to have an accessory flash with some power behind it. To be as accurate as possible, you’ll also need a flash meter. The flash will need to be set to manual mode; when it’s in auto or TTL mode and is aimed at something other than your model, it will limit the strength of the flash for either what bounces back from the subject to the camera or the amount of light that falls upon the subject. If you introduce diffusion or reflective material and aim the strobe at it, the strobe will read the light as it affects the material, not your model. The inevitable result is underexposure. Using the flash at full power in manual mode ensures consistent and measurable power output.

I keep an older, column-style Metz flash around for those moments when I need a small but powerful source. My model is the CT-2, expensive when it was purchased (and a real workhorse) but quite inexpensive now on eBay or through dealers that specialize in used

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equipment. If you decide to buy one of these units, inspect it first. You’ll want as clear (nonyellowed) a flashtube as possible. These units can be refurbished by the manufacturer, but it will add expense—and you’ll almost certainly have to buy a new battery too.

Of course, you can use a single studio strobe, even your camera manufacturer’s accessory flash unit (if it has enough power), in exactly the same fashion, as I’ll demonstrate with my old Metz unit.

First, and to demonstrate the difference between modified and unmodified light, I’ve set the Metz on a stand and aimed it at the model. I’d painted the wall behind her with a semigloss latex enamel to get a bounce-back reflection from the light. In manual mode, I metered the flash output, measured at her chin with the meter’s dome aimed at the camera, and set the aperture accordingly.

It’s not bad light. The only potential problem is the contrast of the flash, especially the nose shadow. I’d engaged a professional makeup artist for my model, so the amount of specularity on her skin from the flash is minimal. You may not be so lucky when your subjects do their own makeup, so you’ll have to take a close look at an enlarged LCD image (knowing that the LCD is not the final arbiter of exposure and contrast) and make a decision whether or not to send the client back to the dressing room for more powder. See image 6.1.

For my second setup, the flash was placed on a stand and positioned behind the camera, about 3 feet behind and aimed at the center of a 52-inch white Photoflex diffusion disc (see diagram 6A). Depending on the flash you use, you’ll have to do a little testing to find the optimum flash-to-diffuser distance. You’ll need to have the flash far enough from the diffuser to cover the material but not so far as to spill light on the subject or the background, at least within the image frame.

There’s a tremendous difference in “feel” between the two images I created. The first shot (image 6.1), nice as it is, is not nearly as soft as the second (image 6.2). The second still shows the bounce-back reflection, but the overall look of the light is more glamorous.

I wrote about accessory flash diffusion techniques more extensively in Christopher Grey’s Advanced Lighting Techniques, and I’d encourage you to check them out. If you typically work with a minimal gear set, you’ll want to try some of them. The results are terrific. Though accessory flash is inexpensive, working with it presents a unique set of problems. If you’re serious about shooting, you and your clients will be well served by your purchase of better gear.

Over the past few years, many manufacturers have made significant progress in creating modifiers for accessory flash units.While I still believe that no accessory flash (or any series of flash units slaved together) can take the place of studio strobes, I will admit that, when properly planned and understood, small units can do a good job within their limits. If you can live with long recycle times, lower power, and the difficulties and expense of trying to make them perform like something they’re not, well, bang away. Personally, I think your best bet is to buy a set of studio strobes, even of entrylevel quality. I think you’ll be much happier in the long run, even if your entry-level strobes are slightly inconsistent from flash to flash (which they almost certainly will be).

They say it’s a poor carpenter who blames the tools. I say a good carpenter avoids poor tools.

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Plasma Vs LCD TV – In-Depth Guide

This article is the first from a series that will try to make things easier for you when considering a choice for a plasma or an LCD TV. We will explain the main advantages that you, as an user, can enjoy, and how you can get the best from your buy. Truth be told, with all the technology advances nowadays, such choices are not exactly easy, and guides written by people interested in plasma vs LCD TV competition can really come in handy.The legitimate question regarding which is best in plasma vs LCD TV battle can only be answered by taking into consideration what you look for in a flat screen TV, and which are your particular needs. We are talking here not only about what kind of programs you intend to watch, but also other aspects like price versus quality. While there cannot be an absolute winner in plasma vs LCD TV challenge, every buyer can make a sound choice, based on reliable information.Which one has the best picture?Whenever we go shopping for a new TV set, we cannot help but desire to purchase a model that will enhance our experience when watching television. There has been and there still is a lively debate on this issue, although the balance gets tipped off towards the plasma models, as they can deliver better contrast.The plasma superiority can be explained, based on the fact that a plasma model can achieve true black in a picture, while an LCD still falls behind, due to its backlight that lets light pass between pixels. On the other hand, LCD TVs offer more flexibility as they come in smaller sizes, and they can be used safely as computer monitors or for playing games for extended periods of time.Reasons for buying a plasma

Solid picture quality: It does not matter at which angle you watch the plasma screen, you will get the same picture quality, which does not happen with LCD TV’s, which are prone to a drop in picture quality when viewed from an angle.

Uniform colors: Color saturation is not affected in the same way it is with an LCD TV, where light leakage may occur or certain areas of the screen could present uniformity problems.

Better price for larger models: If you are looking for a larger flat screen TV, then this should be your choice, as larger plasmas are sold at more convenient prices. This situation is changing all the time, especially during shopping season (Black Friday, Christmas), so shop around before taking a decision.

Lower response time: This particular feature is enjoyed by sports fans, as a lower response time gives better accuracy for fast moving images, like we see when we watch a game. Reasons for buying an LCD TV

Lower prices: The main advantage that LCD has over plasma is its price, as there are many models that can be purchased for less money than you would spend for a plasma with the same dimensions. This applies especially to smaller models.

Lower power consumption: LCD TVs are slightly ahead in the plasma vs LCD TV competition, as they consume, on average, with about 30% less than their counterparts. There are exceptions however, usually newer models being more energy efficient, regardless of the technology.

Convenience: LCD TVs weight less than a plasma, which means that you can install it easier in your room, or place it on a wall. At the same time, LCD TVs are more convenient because they are available in smaller sizes than plasma TVs.

Burn-In Free: Plasma TVs always suffered from burn-in. The latest models are very resistant, however if you plan to use the HDTV as a computer monitor you will eventually get burn-in. Same story if you’re a hardcore gamer – while you can safely play games on a plasma TV for short periods of time, if you plan to play for hours in a row and watch TV programs and movies less than you play games, it is recommended to buy an LCD over plasma.

Nikon D7000, Playback

There are a couple of options for reviewing your video once you have finished recording. The first, and probably the easiest, is to press the Image Review button to bring up the recorded image on the rear LCD, and then use the OK button to start playing the video. The Multi-selector acts as the video controller and allows you to rewind and fast-forward as well as stop the video altogether

If you would like to get a larger look at things, you will need to either watch the video on your TV or move the video files to your computer. To watch low-res video on your TV, you can use the video cable that came with your camera and plug it into the small port on the side of the camera body (Figure 10.3). To get the full effect from your HD video, you will need to buy an HDMI cable (your TV needs to support at least 720HD and have an HDMI port to use this option). Once you have the cable hooked up, simply use the same camera controls that you use for watching the video on the rear LCD.

If you want to watch a video on your computer, you will need to download it using Nikon software or an SD card reader attached to the computer. The video file will have the extension .avi at the end of the filename. These files should play on either a Mac or a PC using software that came with your operating system (QuickTime for Mac and Windows Media Player for PC).

Plug your cable into
Figure 10.3 Plug your cable into this port to watch videos on your television.


Nikon D7000, Recording with Live View

Video recording is a feature of the Live View capabilities of the camera, so you’ll have to put it into active Live View mode to begin capturing video. This is done by rotating the Live View switch to the right, which will activate Live View on the rear display (Figure 10.1).

Next, you need to focus the camera by placing the red focus box on the subject and holding down the shutter button halfway until the focusing box turns green, indicating your subject is in focus. New to your D7000 is its ability to continue focusing on your subject when you simply keep the shutter button pressed down halfway. (Pressing the shutter button down all the way will take a photo as usual, so make sure to press the shutter only halfway when making movies.)

Rotate the Live View switch
Figure 10.1 Rotate the Live View switch to the right to activate Live View.

Once your subject is in focus, you can push the red button located on the Live View switch to begin recording. As the camera begins to record, you will notice a few new icons on the LCD. At the top left is a blinking red Record icon to let you know that the camera is in active recording mode. At the upper right, a timer counts down your remaining recording time. The recording time is directly related to the quality of video you have selected as well as the capacity of your memory card. Lower quality video and larger memory cards equal more recording time. To stop recording, simply press the red button on the Live View switch a second time, which takes you back to Live View mode. To turn off Live View, rotate the Live View switch to the right, the same way you turned it on, or simply turn off the camera.

Hold it steady

I know a lot of people are just going to start shooting video right out of the box without adjusting the settings, so before I move on I have one word of advice: Use a tripod. Have you ever felt like you just finished riding the Cyclone at Coney Island after watching a home video? Handheld video is rough to watch unless the person behind the camera knew what he or she was doing. Buy a tripod or a tripod head that is constructed for video. Typically these tripods will have what’s called fluid, smooth, or shake-free panning and tilt features. Trust me, a good investment in a nice tripod for your video will make the difference between professional-looking video and The Blair Witch Project.


Nikon D7000, Shooting Long Exposures

We have covered some of the techniques for shooting in low light, so let’s go through the process of capturing a night or low-light scene for maximum image quality (Figure 8.7). The first thing to consider is that in order to shoot in low light with a low ISO, you will need to use shutter speeds that are longer than you could possibly hand-hold (longer than 1/15 of a second). This will require the use of a tripod or stable surface for you to place your camera on. For maximum quality, the ISO should be low, somewhere below 400. The long exposure noise reduction should be turned on to minimize the effects of exposing for longer durations.

Once you have noise reduction turned on, set your camera to Aperture Priority (A) mode. This way, you can concentrate on the aperture that you believe is most appropriate and let the camera determine the best shutter speed. If it is too dark for the autofocus to function properly, try manually focusing. Finally, consider using a cable release to activate the shutter. If you don’t have one, use either the Self-timer mode or Exposure Delay mode. Once you shoot the image, you may notice some lag time before it is displayed on the rear LCD. This is due to the noise reduction process, which can take anywhere from a fraction of a second up to 30 seconds, depending on the length of the exposure.

Flash Sync

The basic idea behind the term flash synchronization (flash sync for short) is that when you take a photograph using the flash, the camera needs to ensure that the shutter is fully open at the time that the flash goes off. This is not an issue if you are using a long shutter speed such as 1/15 of a second but does become more critical for fast shutter speeds. To ensure that the flash and shutter are synchronized so that the flash is going off while the shutter is open, the D7000 implements a top sync speed of 1/250 of a second. This means that when you are using the flash, you will not be able to have your shutter speed be any faster than 1/250. If you did use a faster shutter speed, the shutter would actually start closing before the flash fired, which would cause a black area to appear in the frame where the light from the flash was blocked by the shutter.

 This exposure took several tries until I finally got it right. Using a tripod was an absolute must. The longer exposure really helped with silhouetting the tree at the bottom of the frame.
Figure 8.7 This exposure took several tries until I finally got it right. Using a tripod was an absolute must. The longer exposure really helped with silhouetting the tree at the bottom of the frame.

Nikon D7000, Directing the Viewer’s Eye: A Word About Composition

As a photographer, it’s your job to lead the viewer through your image. You accomplish this by using the principles of composition, which is the arrangement of elements in the scene that draws the viewer’s eyes through your image and holds his attention. You need to understand how people see and then use that information to focus their attention on the most important elements in your image.

There is a general order in which we look at elements in a photograph. The first is brightness. The eye wants to travel to the brightest object within a scene. So if you have a bright sky, it’s probably the first place the eye will go. The second is sharpness. Sharp, detailed elements get more attention than soft, blurry areas. Finally, the eye will move to vivid colors while leaving the dull, flat colors for last. It is important to know these essentials in order to grab—and keep—the viewer’s attention and then direct him through the frame.

In Figure 7.15, the eye is drawn to the bright splashes of water and the sharply focused rocks in the foreground. From there it is pulled up the river, where the frame gets darker and the eyes come to rest on the mountains and the shore. Finally, they move up into the active sky, starting with the light fluffy clouds and ending in the dark blue at the very top of the frame.

I enjoy fly-fishing the Madison River in Montana so much that I decided to photograph my favorite trout stream. Standing in the water with my waders on, I took this shot of the river. When composing it I wanted the viewer’s eye to be drawn into the image and pulled up to the mountains and the wispy clouds above.
Figure 7.15 I enjoy fly-fishing the Madison River in Montana so much that I decided to photograph my favorite trout stream. Standing in the water with my waders on, I took this shot of the river. When composing it I wanted the viewer’s eye to be drawn into the image and pulled up to the mountains and the wispy clouds above.

Rule of thirds

There are quite a few philosophies concerning composition. The easiest to begin with is the “rule of thirds.” Using this principle, you simply divide your viewfinder into thirds by imagining two horizontal and two vertical lines that divide the frame equally.

The key to using this method of composition is to have your main subject located at or near one of the intersecting points (Figure 7.16).

I wanted to show all the dead trees in the paint pot at Yellowstone National Park, so I decided to compose the image with the nearest tree in the bottom right quadrant. This created a more compelling composition than centering the tree.
Figure 7.16 I wanted to show all the dead trees in the paint pot at Yellowstone National Park, so I decided to compose the image with the nearest tree in the bottom right quadrant. This created a more compelling composition than centering the tree.

By placing your subject near these intersecting lines, you are giving the viewer space to move within the frame. The one thing you normally don’t want to do is put your subject smack-dab in the middle of the frame, sometimes referred to as “bull’s-eye” composition. Centering the subject is not always wrong, but it will usually be less appealing and may not hold the viewer’s attention.

Speaking of the middle of the frame: Another rule of thirds deals with horizon lines. Generally speaking, you should position the horizon one-third of the way up or down in the frame. Splitting the frame in half by placing your horizon in the middle of the picture is akin to placing the subject in the middle of the frame; it doesn’t lend a sense of importance to either the sky or the ground.

In Figure 7.17, I incorporated the rule of thirds by aligning my horizon in the bottom third of the frame and the sky and steam in the top third. I also placed the river in the foreground to draw the eye to the bottom third of the frame, giving the viewer a chance to travel throughout the frame, ending on the steam, sky, and bright sun. The top two thirds contain the sky and the steam rising from the geothermal features in Yellowstone National Park.

 Putting the horizon of this image at the bottom third of the frame places emphasis on steam rising from the geothermal features in the landscape.
Figure 7.17 Putting the horizon of this image at the bottom third of the frame places emphasis on steam rising from the geothermal features in the landscape.

The D7000 has two visual tools for assisting you in composing your photo in the form of grid overlays. These grids can be set to appear in the viewfinder and on the rear LCD when in Live View mode.

Using a grid overlay in the viewfinder

Using a grid overlay in the viewfinder

  1. Press the Menu button, then use the Multi-selector to navigate to the Custom Settings menu and select D Shooting/Display.
  2. Navigate to D2 Viewfinder Grid Display, press OK, set the feature to On, and press OK.

Using a grid overlay in Live View

  1. Rotate the Live View switch to turn on Live View.
  2. Press the Info button until the grid appears on the viewfinder.

Although the grid in the viewfinder and the Live View screen aren’t equally divided into thirds, they will give you an approximation of where you should be aligning your subjects in the frame.

Creating depth

Because a photograph is a flat, two-dimensional space, you need to establish a sense of depth by using the elements in the scene to create a three-dimensional feel. This is accomplished by including different and distinct spaces for the eye to travel to: a foreground, middle ground, and background. By using these three spaces, you draw the viewer in and give your image depth.

This scene of the Badlands National Park in South Dakota, Figure 7.18, illustrates this well. The hills in the foreground as well as my point of view helped create a sense of height. The faraway, flat horizon seems miles away, while the sunlight beaming through hit the small rock outcropping right in the center of the frame. All of these factors helped give the image depth and made it feel three-dimensional.

I was visiting the Badlands on a stormy day. There was a break in the clouds where the sunlight was coming through and shining on a small rock outcropping in the distance. The rain increased the colors in the striations of the rock, adding contrast and visual interest.
Figure 7.18 I was visiting the Badlands on a stormy day. There was a break in the clouds where the sunlight was coming through and shining on a small rock outcropping in the distance. The rain increased the colors in the striations of the rock, adding contrast and visual interest.

Nikon D7000, Smooth Water

There’s little that is quite as satisfying for the landscape shooter as capturing a smooth waterfall shot. Creating the smooth-flowing effect is as simple as adjusting your shutter speed to allow the water to be in motion while the shutter is open. The key is to have your camera on a stable platform (such as a tripod) so that you can use a shutter speed that’s long enough to work (Figure 7.14). To achieve a great effect, use a shutter speed that is at least 1/15 of a second or longer.

I sat my tripod right in the middle of this creek downstream from these small rapids. This allowed me to get the right point of view while using a slow shutter speed to show the movement in the water.
Figure 7.14 I sat my tripod right in the middle of this creek downstream from these small rapids. This allowed me to get the right point of view while using a slow shutter speed to show the movement in the water.

Setting up for a waterfall shot

  1. Attach the camera to your tripod, then compose and focus your shot.
  2. Make sure the ISO is set to 100 or 200.
  3. Using Aperture Priority mode, set your aperture to the smallest opening (such as f/22 or f/36).
  4. Press the shutter button halfway so the camera takes a meter reading.
  5. Check to see if the shutter speed is 1/15 or slower.
  6. Take a photo and then check the image on the LCD.

You can also use Shutter Priority mode for this effect by dialing in the desired shutter speed and having the camera set the aperture for you. I prefer to use Aperture Priority to ensure that I have the greatest depth of field possible.

If the water is blinking on the LCD, indicating a loss of detail in the highlights, then use the Exposure Compensation feature (as discussed earlier in this chapter) to bring details back into the water. You will need to have the Highlight Alert feature turned on to check for overexposure.

It is possible that you will not be able to have a shutter speed that is long enough to capture a smooth, silky effect, especially if you are shooting in bright daylight conditions. To overcome this obstacle, you need a filter for your lens—either a polarizing filter or a neutral density filter.

The polarizing filter redirects wavelengths of light to create more vibrant colors, reduce reflections, and darken blue skies, as well as lengthen exposure times by two stops due to the darkness of the filter. It is a handy filter for landscape work. The neutral density filter is typically just a dark piece of glass that serves to darken the scene by one, two, or three stops. This allows you to use slower shutter speeds during bright conditions. Think of it as sunglasses for your camera lens.