Light makes photography. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography.

— George Eastman.

Monday, February 1, 2021

Manual Photography Quick Guide

 In most cases, you should in this order:

  1. Choose an ISO high enough to 
  2. Choose a shutter speed high enough to prevent camera shake and
  3. Choose an aperture to balance exposure
There are exceptions to every rule.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

How to Photograph the Moon

If you have attempted to photograph the moon with automatic modes on your camera, you might have concluded it is a hopeless endeavor. When your camera looks at the vast, black, night sky, it overexposes the moon as a bright blob in the night sky. However, by setting your camera to manual exposure mode and following this simple guide, photographing the moon is easy.

When to photograph the moon:

To start, choose a night with a full moon. If you photograph the moon when it is close to the horizon, the moon will appear larger. For sharper, more detailed photographs, take photographs when the moon is higher in the sky. The less light pollution where you take the photographs, the crisper the moon will appear. A clear sky yields the sharpest photographs of the moon. Clouds create a different aesthetic.


1. A camera with manual exposure mode — M on the exposure dial.
2. A telephoto lens or a telephoto zoom lens. The longer the focal length the larger the moon will appear in your photograph. A 200mm to 300mm focal length is great, especially on a crop sensor camera where your focal length is multiplied.


Set your camera to single point focus and choose the center focus point. On most digital cameras, this is a cross-type focus point which is more accurate. Because the moon is such a bright object in the night sky, putting your center focus point on the moon should ensure sharp focus.

Image Stabilization or Vibration Reduction:

Turn on Image Stabilization (Canon) or Vibration Reduction (Nikon). Other camera manufacturers have different names for this feature. Sony calls its SteadyShot. This will eliminate motion blur in your photographs.

Exposure Mode:

Set your exposure mode dial to M, or manual.


Exposure Value is a number where all combinations of shutter speed and aperture that yield the same exposure have the same Exposure Value. At ISO 100, the full moon has an Exposure Value (EV) of 15. This is the same EV as a scene lit by direct sunlight. The “Sunny 16 Rule” applies, which says that in direct sun, at f/16, your shutter speed is the reciprocal of your ISO. So, for ISO 100, your shutter speed is 1/125 second at f/16. Since you should be capturing the moon with a telephoto lens, to minimize camera shake set the ISO based on the focal length of your lens. Setting your ISO based on the focal length of your lens yields a high enough shutter speed to eliminate the need for a tripod. The relatively great depth of field of f/16 will yield sharp images at infinity.

  •     200mm lens — ISO 200, 1/250 second at f/16
  •     300mm lens — ISO 400, 1/500 second at f/16
  •     400mm lens — ISO 400, 1/500 second at f/16

Checking Exposure:

Check your exposures using the histogram on your camera. When viewing the images on your camera’s display they will appear too bright at night. Viewing the histogram will give you an accurate idea of your exposures. If the histogram spikes at the right of the graph, increase your shutter speed. If the histogram spikes at the left of the graph, open your aperture to f/11 or f/8 as needed.

What next?

Now that you have photographed a full moon, try photographing the moon in different phases. The gibbous moon has an EV of 14, the quarter moon has an EV of 13, and the crescent moon has an EV of 12. For a 300mm lens, use these exposure settings:
  •      Gibbous moon  — 300mm lens, ISO 400, 1/500 second at f/11
  •      Quarter moon   — 300mm lens, ISO 400, 1/250 second at f/11
  •      Crescent moon — 300mm lens, ISO 400, 1/250 second at f/8

Finally, take plenty of photographs, and have fun.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

7 Things Photographers Should Know About Memory Cards

  • Do not listen to those who teach that brand does not matter, or that SanDisk and Lexar are the same. The truth is that there many differences between the two. SanDisk has had several exclusives with Nikon in which they worked together to create memory cards that are able to access the full processing power of Nikon D-SLRs.

  • I often hear professional photographers say that photographers only need to get a super-fast memory card for shooting video. While HD video produces large files, digital RAW files produce more data in a shorter time when photographers shoot a quick burst of multiple RAW files. Fast memory cards are even more important to still photographers who shoot bursts than HD video users.

  • Never “Erase All Images” on your card. Always “Format” the card. Some D-SLRs provide both an “Erase All Images” option and a “Format Card” option. Choose the “Format Card” option to prevent a variety of different errors that can arise by simply erasing all images. Formatting the card will re-organize the folder structure and prevent database errors.

  • While discussing how to erase all images, never erase any of the images on your card by using the computer. This will corrupt your database and can cause even more errors than “Erase All Images.” If you persist in erasing images by using the computer, you will corrupt your memory card and you will get errors.

  • You will rarely have errors with memory cards if you properly format your cards and never edit the contents of a card from the computer. However, you can break memory cards by not storing them properly or ripping them out of the card reader. This is especially true with SD cards, which have delicate pieces of plastic underneath which can bend or break off. Treat them gently.

  • Both Lexar and SanDisk professional-level cards come with free software that can help recover images on your memory card if you accidentally delete them. If you delete something accidentally, STOP SHOOTING, bring the card home, run the card through the program, and you will most likely get the image(s) back—even if you formatted the card. Lexar's Image Rescue and SanDisk’s RescuePRO get high marks for image recovery.

  • Lexar’s Image Rescue and SanDisk’s RescuePRO are licensed software. You get a license key for the software in the package your memory card comes in. Be sure to save or record the license key somewhere in case you ever need it. Without it, you will need to buy a license to use the software.

Friday, January 19, 2018

10 Things You Can Do Today to Change Your Photography Forever

1.       Print one of your photos large, and put it on the wall in your home or office.

This is a tip for staying motivated in your progress as a photographer. Printing a large photo and hanging it in your home or office will make you happy every time you walk into the room.  You will receive compliments and comments for years to come. This can change your photography forever by motivating you to capture those great photographs you are always seeking to create.

2.       Put together an online photography portfolio.

Take 30 to 60 minutes to set up a simple photography portfolio page, it is a life-changing opportunity. For a simple photography portfolio, I suggest SmugMug. You can have a professional photography website for as little as $4 a month. SmugMug’s tools are easy enough for even a novice to understand and SmugMug resizes your photos for you which saves time. They also have a free trial, so you can set up your gallery and see if you like it before paying.

3.       Prepare your work for exhibition.

Preparing your work for sale or display in a gallery is challenging, but it is so rewarding to see one of your photos perfectly matted and framed. Even if you do not have anywhere to show your work yet, you might be surprised at what opportunities come your way if you are prepared with your best work perfectly prepared. Join your local arts council, most have open shows each year for members to exhibit their work.

4.       Print your ten best photos and have a non-photographer critique them.

Print 10 of your favorite images and set them out on the table. Ask a friend to place them in order from their favorite to their least favorite. After they rank the photos, ask them why they chose what they did. The purpose of this exercise is to help photographers learn what others notice, and do not notice, in their photographs. Are you trying to impress other photographers with your work, or are you shooting so that people can enjoy your art? This exercise helps put things in perspective.

5.       Make a list of ten locations you want to shoot this year.

Every town has great places to shoot if you just put your mind to it. Writing down a list of ten interesting places in your town will help you get out of the house because you will not have the excuse that “there is nothing to shoot”.

6.       Learn photography with a photo essay.

A photo essay is simply a collection of 10 to 15 photos with a similar theme. Starting a photo essay can help you get some recognition and it can help you to take pictures that truly communicate feelings or messages to the viewer. Learning this skill will benefit your photography for the rest of your life.

7.       Shoot night photography in your own city.

Night photography is great for learning photography because it helps photographers focus on the light, it reinforces proper shooting techniques, and it helps photographers master proper exposure since it often requires balancing high ISOs and long shutter speeds.

8.       Create a photography bucket list.

Decide what you want to accomplish in the world of photography. Would you eventually like to shoot professionally? Would you like to travel to shoot photography? Do you want to get published? Whatever your aspirations, commit to them and start working. Making a list of photography goals will change your photography forever if you commit to accomplishing them.
   9.       Photograph a sunrise or sunset.
         There are a fixed number of sunrises and sunsets to be enjoyed in a                 lifetime, do the math and do not waste any of them.

10.   Learn every function your camera can perform.

Not just ISO, shutter speed, aperture, and focus, I mean all the functions. Do you know how to use the multiple exposure feature on your D-SLR? Have you ever taken time-lapse photographs with your camera? There are at least five or six functions on their camera that most photographers never use. Expanding your creativity can change your photography forever by giving you another tool you can use to capture scenes with a unique perspective. Try something new!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Tips for Photographing in Manual Exposure Mode

Manual exposure mode is about having control over your camera, instead of it controlling you. You use manual exposure mode to exercise full creative control over your images. When you want to stop action, capture motion, produce fine bokeh, or have great depth of field, you need to use manual exposure mode.
1.    Manual exposure mode has no “right” settings for ISO, shutter speed, and aperture. You choose these settings for what best achieves your goals with a given scene or subject.
2.    Different types of lights have different colors. Fluorescent lights make whites and skin tones appear green, tungsten lights (plain old light bulbs) make things appear yellow or orange. White Balance (WB) adjusts for this and gets the colors right in whites and skin tones in your images.
3.    The higher your ISO, the more your photos will be “noisy” or grainy. There is nothing wrong with this; it is a style choice. If you must push your ISO higher, you are not doing anything wrong. It is better to have a noisy image than no image at all.
4.    Shutter speed controls the time you expose the image sensor to light. Higher shutter speeds (1/250 second or faster) prevent motion blur and freeze action, but let in less light. Lower shutter speeds (1/60 second or slower) let in more light, but may blur moving subjects.
5.    Aperture, or f-stop, controls how much light passes through your lens by controlling the size of the opening inside your lens. A lower f-stop, such as f/1.4, lets in more light and a higher f-stop, like f/16, lets in less light. Aperture also affects depth of field. You get less depth of field with lower f/stops, blurring the background (bokeh).
6.    First, set white balance; second, set ISO. Set shutter speed third to control motion; set aperture third to control depth of field. Then balance your exposure with the remaining setting.
7.    You do not need to use manual focus to photograph in manual exposure mode. Many photographers use autofocus to capture moments quickly and ensure that they are sharp.
8.    You will not get things right with every shot. Overexposed and underexposed shots are part of the learning process when photographing in manual mode.
9.    When photographing in manual mode and you have centered the light meter in the viewfinder, your image may still be too bright or too dark. Expose very bright scenes (snow or a beach) to the positive side of the light meter and very dark scenes to the negative side of the light meter. Take test shots and check the histogram.
10. Practice! Practice! Practice! Photographing in manual is not hard and it will force you to learn your camera inside and out. You will be a better photographer for it. It takes practice so do not expect everything to come naturally the first time.

These tips are a guide to follow. There is no right way or wrong way to learn to photograph in manual exposure mode. Everyone has their own style that works best for them. Experiment, take lots of photographs, but most of all, have fun.

Monday, November 13, 2017

How to fix an image by looking at the Histogram

When you check the histogram, it gives you an idea of how your image is going to look. Think about the mood you want to capture and try not to rely on the LCD preview.

The main reason you want to check the histogram is to avoid clipping. You do not want to lose details in the shadows or highlights of your image so make sure your histogram does not have spikes pressed against the edges of the graph.

If the graph presses against the left side your image is underexposed.

If the graph presses against the right side your image is overexposed.

If the graph has gaps on both sides your image has little contrast.

If the graph presses against both sides your image has too much contrast.

Another way to preview highlight clipping on your image is to turn on the “highlight warning” on your camera. This will make the lost highlight details blink on your LCD.

To get the best exposure checking the histogram, here is a trick that many people do not know:

Do you see those faint vertical lines on the histogram? Each line represents a “stop”, so you can change your settings accordingly. In the example below, you can still underexpose or overexpose by half a stop before clipping your image. Try to have the maximum coverage from left to right on your histogram, do not worry about the shape.   

Monday, October 16, 2017

Reviewing your photographs on the rear display of your camera is not the most accurate way to judge if you have achieved the best exposure. If you are outside during the day, the images will appear too dark on the screen in the daylight. If you are viewing the images indoors, the images will appear too bright because the display is backlit. Reviewing the histogram is a valuable aid to proper exposure as it shows you the distribution of tones in your image from dark (on the left) to light (on the right).

The histogram can help you to avoid underexposed shadows or overexposed highlights and to get the best tonal range in your photographs. Avoid images with the graph stacked to the extreme left or extreme right. This indicates that detail has been lost or "clipped" in the shadows (left) or highlights (right).

Not all subjects give a histogram that fits perfectly within the width of the graph. Low-contrast scenes yield a histogram that will not reach both extremes of the graph. Expose these images so that the peaks of the histogram are centered on the graph.

High-contrast scenes have a graph that is stacked at both sides. Expose these images by placing the right side of the histogram as far right as possible without "clipping", as this will retain the detail in the brightest highlights.

Note that parts of some images should be clipped simply because they should be shown as pure white or pure black.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

How to recover deleted photos from a memory card

Just deleted important images from your memory card? Here is how to undelete them for PC users.

 "Uh oh."
Those are probably the first two words you will say when you realize your photos have disappeared. If you have accidentally formatted your card or you suspect it has become corrupted, there are ways to recover your images. Here's how to get started.
You will need a card reader, a computer, and the memory card in question.
Step 1: Do not do anything to your memory card once you realize photos have been deleted. This means, do not take any more photos on the card and remove it from the camera immediately.
Step 2: Select a recovery suite. The software mentioned in this guide is Recuva for Windows which is a free option.
Bear in mind that there are plenty of other options out there, and you may already have one that was included with your memory card if it was from a vendor such as SanDisk.

Step 3: Install and set up the software on your PC.
Step 4: Start the program and choose what types of files you want to recover. In this guide, we are looking for photos, but Recuva also gives you the option of finding a number of other file types.
Recuva can also find many other file types.

Click through the menu until you reach the screen telling you in which location to look. Plug your card reader into your computer and select the root directory of where your camera stores its image files—provided it has not disappeared when the card was formatted or the pictures were deleted. This is typically a folder called DCIM, or the name of the camera manufacturer or model.
Step 5: Run the scan and see what files it finds. If you get results here it means the software has found your images.

The "health" of your files indicated by green, orange or red lights.

If you chose to search only for pictures in step 4, it will only show up standard file formats like JPEG. If you are looking for raw files and they are not showing up, there is one more step you can do.
In Recuva, click "Switch to advanced mode", which will show you what file types the software is looking for. All you have to do is add the file extension of your camera's raw format. This is typically something like .CR2 for Canon, .NEF for Nikon, or .ARW for Sony. Other camera brands will have their own proprietary file format. If in doubt, check your camera manual.
Add your raw file extension to the box circled above.

Step 6: With Recuva, select all the images you want to restore, and click the "Recover" button. Choose a place you want to restore the files to. You will want to choose somewhere you can access easily, like the desktop or your pictures folder. Do not to save them back to the memory card.
Step 7: Check the files that have been recovered, then back them up!
Hopefully, these steps will have recovered your images. If not, there are other options to try, including paid software, as well as professional data recovery services.