Six Pro Photography Hacks That Will Make Your Life Easier

Education is a big part of becoming a good photographer, but nothing can replace the sweat, the hard work and the effort that goes into actually photographing something. So we’ve figured we could at least help with some hacks that will save you some valuable learning time.

Baylee11Get as close as you can to your subject

Powerful photographs are often in your face. Ironically that’s where you have to be sometimes when you want to take a powerful portrait, up and close to the subject’s face. Don’t try to cheat with a long lens because the effect is not similar. Put a classic 50mm lens on the camera and get as close as the model will let you while still feeling comfortable. It’s one of the best ways to capture expressions.

Find patterns

The human brain naturally responds to patterns, and often when you see a series of doors, windows, buildings or whatever, it just seems to click. A well composed image often has symmetric elements. Look for natural symmetry and use it in a way that doesn’t make it boring.

Take the external flash off TTL mode

A flashgun can greatly enhance your photography, if and only if it is used wisely. The TTL capabilities of modern flashes are impressive, but they don’t always adapt to the situation like they should. As with exposure on a camera, your best bet is to learn how to use the flash on full manual mode. Sure, it will take some time to master it, but after you get used to it, you will hardly want to use TTL again.

Baylee5Don’t be afraid of hard light

So many photographers are scared of hard light, most of the times because they don’t know how to work with it. Be it natural or created by flash, a hard light can bring drama and visual appeal to a photograph if positioned properly. I guess you could say it’s harder to learn how to work with hard light, but think about it this way: if you start getting good results with hard light, everything else will seem a lot simpler than before. And yes, I am talking about soft, ambient light.

Hold your breath

I don’t know about you, but working in low light with a long lens can be quite challenging. Sure, the lens has a stabilizing system, but that has its limits. I learned that holding my breath while shooting a 70-200mm lens at longer exposures than 1/100s does make a significant difference. It also makes me feel like a sniper sometimes which is kind of cool.

Baylee1Hold your camera

This might seem like a no brainer, but think about all the photographers who keep their cameras strapped to their necks. It’s wrong because it slows you down and when an awesome moment happened, it will find you unprepared. Cameras are meant to be held so if you have to hang it somewhere, hang it around your shoulder. It will provide quicker access. But in the rest of the time, just hold it.

10 Inspiring Quotes For The Terminally Weird


JANUARY 22, 2014 3:12 AM EST

Fitting in is overrated. Even if you get really good at it, whatever you think you win as a result isn’t really a prize worth winning. So let me say this: Fitting out is hard, but fitting in is harder. You know that already, because there have been plenty of times in your life where you’ve stood at the crossroads of trying to fit in or be yourself.

At first, removing a little bit of our unique personality may not seem like it will do much harm, but we’d be delusional to think that it stops with just one thing. Soon enough we’ve eliminated so much of who we really are that what results is nothing less than Spiritual Amnesia. Living only half a life as some sort of spiritual amnesiac requires we do the self-work of uncovering who we really are, and start living as our true selves. Otherwise, without self-awareness, you’ll always feel internally chaotic.

Spiritual practice has taught me that being clear on our own identity is an essential foundation for a happy life. Pretending to be “normal” is a formula for disappointment and unhappiness.

The question is, what is your truth? What if you stopped pretending to fit in?

It’s our responsibility to be extraordinary and give up all hope for remaining generic carbon copies. We must stop pretending to fit in and find the courage to be exactly as we are. Love yourself, love your day, love your life!

Leafy Plant - ©John Derby

Leafy Plant – ©John Derby

10 Inspiring Quotes on “Fitting Out”

1. “Those who follow the crowd usually get lost in it.”

― Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?

2. “We all want to be extraordinary

and we all just want to fit in.

Unfortunately, extraordinary people rarely fit in.”

― Sebastyne Young

3. “There are people who are generic. They make generic responses and they expect generic answers. They live inside a box and they think people who don’t fit into their box are weird. But I’ll tell you what, generic people are the weird people. They are like genetically manipulated plants growing inside a laboratory, like indistinguishable faces, like droids.”

― C. JoyBell C.

Glass Peacock - ©John Derby

Glass Peacock – ©John Derby

4. “We’re all misfits here … Halfies and homos and hopeless romantics, the outcast and outrageous and terminally weird. That’s where art comes from. From our weirdnesses and our differences, from our manic fixations, our obsessions, our passions. From all those wild and wacky things that make each of us unique.”

― Terri Windling, Welcome to Bordertown

5. “It’s not the job of this town to make me feel happy. It’s not this town´s fault that I don’t feel I fit in. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, because it’s about where you are in your head. It’s about the other world I inhabit. The world of dreams, hope, imagination, and memories. I’m happy up here, and because of that I’m happy up there too”

― Cecelia Ahern, If You Could See Me Now

6. “We’re so quick to cut away pieces of ourselves to suit a particular relationship, a job, a circle of friends, incessantly editing who we are until we fit in.”

― Charles de Lint

7. “I myself am opaque, for some reason. Their eyes cannot see me. Yes, that’s it: The world is autistic with respect to me.”

― Anne Nesbet, The Cabinet of Earths

8. “Honestly, if you don’t fit in then you’re probably doing the right thing.”

― Lights Poxleitner

White Flower - ©John Derby

White Flower – ©John Derby

9. “But you don’t have to fit in to be OK. Believe me! I am the not-fitting-in world expert. I have not fit in maybe five different countries so far. But it’s not a big deal, not really. It’s OK.”

― Anne Nesbet, The Cabinet of Earths

10. “Maybe it’s wrong-footed trying to fit people into the world, rather than trying to make the world a better place for people.

― Paul McHugh, in The New Yorker

6 Myths About Creativity

Posted: 11/29/2013 10:31 am EST  |  Updated: 01/19/2014 11:49 pm EST via Huffington Post

By Anna Davies for YouBeauty

Made lunch out of the leftovers found in the fridge. Talked your co-workers into agreeing on a solution to a client problem. Tweeted a wry observation about last night’s episode of “Nashville.” While it may sound like any other day, all of these instances are examples where you’ve flexed your creative muscle. And, like any other muscle, the more you use it, the stronger it gets, giving you an edge at home, at work and in social situations.

A lot of people have misconceptions about what “being creative” means, which makes it hard for them to tap into their full potential. Here are six major myths about what creativity is — and how to bust them to let your imagination break free.

White Flower - ©John Derby

White Flower – ©John Derby

Myth #1: I’m not creative.

Hear the word “creativity” and feel a shiver of dread up your spine instead of a spark of inspiration deep in your belly? It doesn’t mean you lack imagination, only that it’s been hidden somewhere along the way. “Everyone has the capacity for creativity,” explains David Goldstein, an artist, creativity consultant and co-author of Creative You, a book that explores the connections between creativity and personality. “But what usually happens is that their imagination gets shut down in early childhood. For example, a 5-year-old will paint the sky purple because she thinks it looks pretty, but if someone criticizes it or laughs at it, she’ll quickly learn to stop following or trusting her creative impulses.”

Luckily, for those of us still scarred by awful art class memories, creativity doesn’t require a paintbrush — or an A+ from an art teacher.

Myth #2: Creativity = Art

“Recognizing your natural creativity is the first step in enhancing it,” says Goldstein. Just because you’re not a poet or a painter doesn’t mean you aren’t creative. Are you a pro at putting good conversation partners together at dinner parties? Do you always seem to know the right thing to say at occasions where the people around you are tongue-tied? Then your creativity manifests itself in relationships. Maybe you’re as good as any trainer at the gym at putting together a fun and rigorous workout routine. That’s creativity, too. Swept up by 3-D films? Starting a blog about the subject can give your imagination a chance to soar.

Ye Olde Stope Shop - ©John Derby

Ye Olde Stope Shop – ©John Derby

Myth #3 Creativity is frivolous.

When you’re swamped, you’ve got to keep your head in the game, not in the clouds, right? Not exactly. Taking a mental break from a particularly pressing problem by indulging in creative play can help you come up with more solutions when you finally do get back to work, says Goldstein. Not only that, but studies have found creative expression is linked to stress relief, better physical and emotional health, higher self-esteem and even better sleep.

Myth #4: Some people are “the creative type” — and some aren’t.

It’s like the old adage says: different strokes for different folks. Goldstein divides creativity into different types based on personality in his book. “One of the big factors affecting creativity is introversion versus extroversion,” explains Goldstein. “Extroverts innovate best by interaction, whereas introverts may innovate best by quiet reflection.”

If you’re highly extroverted, for example, you’re likely to find your bursts of creativity while talking with friends, instead of reflecting solo in your car. Meanwhile, if you’re more introverted, you may find yourself overwhelmed during an office brainstorming session, but then figure out an awesome solution in the shower the next morning. “Knowing when creativity is likely to strike for you wards off discouragement and keeps your mind open,” says Goldstein.

Find out whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert by taking our personality quiz as a first step in sussing out where your spark is most likely to be set off.

Glass Peacock - ©John Derby

Glass Peacock – ©John Derby

Myth #5: I don’t have time for creative stuff.

You may find yourself inspired by various artists, writers or directors, only to feel completely paralyzed to even attempt to do your own thing when you hear your creative idol writes five hours a day, or spent 10 years working on their directorial debut. The image of an artist devoting every waking hour to his craft makes “creating” seem overwhelming for ordinary people, warns Goldstein, but you can boost your creative side in just a few minutes. That, in turn, amplifies your capacity for self-expression and joy, says Lee Crutchley, illustrator, designer and author of The Art of Getting Started, a workbook designed to jumpstart creativity. “Doodling while you’re on the phone, taking one photo a day, or writing a page of a story every week all count. The trick is not to worry about whether or not it’s good, but just enjoy the process.”

If it works for you to sit and write five pages every morning, by all means, do it. But if you prefer to jot a few notes in your journal only when you feel inspired, it doesn’t mean you’re lacking in dedication.

Myth #6: Creativity means doing something.

Watching movies, reading books or finally watching “Breaking Bad” from the beginning may seem passive, but each can actually be incredibly creative — if it’s done with intention. Instead of just vegging out, think about the why behind whatever you’re seeing, explains Crutchley. Why did the director use that shot, or what did the character mean when he quoted a line from Shakespeare? “The aim of any creative project is to say something,” he continues, “so questioning what a creative project is trying to tell you helps you figure out what you have to say yourself.”


(To purchase the above images simply click on it to be taken to my store website)


Useful Photography Tip #32: Quick Tips on Dealing With Failure

by G SERVO on 06/08/2012

It was warm and slightly windy. The sky was a little cloudy. The light had a brilliant warm color to it. The vista in front of you was pristine. You have your camera to compose your shot. Everything is ready and when you release the shutter: “demo mode”. You forgot to bring your memory card. Or like me, you screw up the film of what could of been my best film shots, ever.

You failed to plan in advance.

Glacier1bGuess What? …. It’s OKAY, You Will be Alright.

In photography, as in life, sometimes we fail. From time to time you forget things or something does not go right. You don’t get a shot. Your portfolio is ripped to shreds in a review. It’s not a happy time but you have to move on. Acknowledge the failure, don’t run away accept what has happened. This is how you learn one good thing comes from failure, a lesson. If you handle failure well, you can learn from it. Failure should at all times be a teacher. The key is to try not to echo your mistakes. A number of opportunities will be lost, particular ones will present themselves again. It is essential not to stay focused on the failure itself, instead focus on what you can learn from the experience. If you gain knowledge from failure, you have not truly failed.

Be Willing to Fail

There are times in life where you have to take chances. You have to try out new cameras. Shoot with others people’s gear. Shoot outside your comfort zone. If you choose not to do anything in fear of failure, you will not know what you are missing out on.

Dead End - ©John Derby

Dead End – ©John Derby

Learn from Others

Keep in mind that you are not the only person in the world who may fail at times. The best photographers out there have failed at something. They have missed a shot or had a bad day. These people have either blogged about it or talked about it at some point. Photographers around you have also failed, too. These are great opportunities to gain knowledge

All will be well

The key to failure is not giving up. You’re not always going to succeed in your photography. Things are not always going to work out right. If you let a single failure stop you, you will do yourself a disservice. Getting things right builds character, and failure will reveal it. Let failure be a step forward. Look at your failure from every different angle, seek feedback and new perspectives. Be willing to listen to others and make changes. When you have enough ideas, retry what you have failed at, if you can. Share your story with others. Others photographers are great learning resources: become one yourself. Reframe. Change. Revise.  Rinse and repeat.

Please Support The Phoblographer

We love to bring you guys the latest and greatest news and gear related stuff. However, we can’t keep doing that unless we have your continued support. If you would like to purchase any of the items mentioned, please do so by clicking our links first and then purchasing the items as we then get a small portion of the sale to help run the website.

Link to the original article: : Forget Everything I Said About It…

Yes, that’s right… Forget everything I said about KelbyTraining… Scott Kelby has come up with something newer and better! It’s called KelbyOne.

Here’s the deal: It used to cost $24.95 per month to subscribe to KelbyTraining and, if you wanted to be a member of the National Association of Photoshop Professionals and get their award winning magazine, you had to pay an extra whopping fee to be a member of the NAPP. Well that’s all changed! KelbyTraining and NAPP have merged into KelbyOne! For $25 per month you get both ($250 for an annual subscription). Here are some of the benefits…

Proud2BOneTraining Classes & Tutorials

Being a KelbyOne member gives you access to literally thousands of training tutorials specifically geared to help you grow your creative skills in Adobe Creative Cloud, Lightroom®, Photography techniques and more. Plus you can watch hundreds of top-quality, cinematic-style classes that take you on location with the world’s best photography instructors! It’s on-demand learning at your own pace on your own schedule!

Photoshop User Magazine

Delivered to your door or online, KelbyOne members get 10 issues of the industry’s top “how-to” Photoshop magazine that’s packed cover to cover with inspiration, how-to-tips and tutorials from the most talented authors, pros and creative people in the industry.


KelbyOne has your back! No matter what you need – from how-to questions and tech support to member care and account requests – we’re always here for you! We have multiple support desks armed and ready to make sure you’re always in the know! Find everything you’re looking for on our support page here!


The creative world is always changing. Our blog will keep you dialed in with all the latest happenings in our industry, the hot news you actually want to hear, the gear, gadgets and toys you want to get your hands on and so much more! Plus you’ll get the inside scoop on all the cool things happening right here at KelbyOne! Check out our blog here!

KelbyOneExclusive Discounts

Being a part of KelbyOne means you’re not only getting the world’s best creative training, but also hundreds of awesome discounts from the biggest names in the industry! You’ll save hundreds on the hottest products, software, gear and so much more! Take a look at all the exclusive discounts!


Folks, this is the real deal… No, I’m not making a dime off of this information. I use it on almost a daily basis. If you want to become a better photographer — no matter whether you are a rank beginner or an advanced shutterbug — it’s the best training for the cheapest price you are going to find anywhere!!


Capturing Children (with a camera)

by G SERVO on 02/22/2011  VIA The Phoblographer

Hannah - ©John Derby

Hannah – ©John Derby

Taking pictures of kids is an adventure. As a dad, and as many other parents out there know, children are kinetic—never static and always moving. This can make photography rather challenging. With the correct settings and attitude any one can get a decent image of children especially if you have a DSLR. Here are some tips to help with that.Note: This post assumes you have a DSLR but some of these tips will be applicable to point and shoot cameras


Have an 8 gig or bigger memory card and a backup, you do not want to run out of space.

- Also have a camera strap like the Black Rapid RS-7 or the Sun Sniper Strap, these straps are like having a third hand securing your camera and allow for quick shots.

- A Lenspen and lens cleaning cloths, with kids finger prints happen.

- Any current DSLR body like the Nikon D3100, Canon T2i, Pentax K-5, or better will do.

The lens you use, however, depends on the situation. If you are trying to get your kids in action on a sports field, or at a party, you can get one lens to rule them all, an 18-200 mm: Canon, Nikon, Sigma, and Tamron make a version of this lens. A lens like this will save you from having to change lenses as the situation changes. This will help you keep the sensor clean outdoors, or indoors. It will all also lower the risk of a kid running into you, and a lens being dropped.

If you are shooting strictly indoors with kids and are worried about lighting conditions, consider a 50mm or a 35mm lens. These lenses are fast and compact and will help you avoid using a flash as much as possible.

Joshua - ©John Derby

Joshua – ©John Derby

To use a flash or not to use a flash

Sometimes you have no choice but to use a flash. I would suggest you do everything in your power not to. A flash can ruin the moment especially in a candid situation. Flash are distracting to children, especially the younger ones. It catches their eye and they think, “Ooooooo a toy!”

If you have to use a flash, try to make sure you have something to soften the light, like the Garry Fong puffer or a collapsible lightsphere if you have an off camera flash.

Continuous Shooting

When  taking pictures of children, you want your camera to be in continuous shooting mode, also known as burst mode. This will ensure you get a clean shot or a great sequence of shots. Remember kids are always moving and can surprise you.

Position is everything

With children, as much as possible, you will want to get down and take pictures at their level. It will help the image look more natural. Try catching their eyes. Children do not have to be looking at you, however this will help you get a clear image of their face. Something to consider, is knee-pads and wearing them under your pants. Do not worry about getting your pants dirty, you’re with children, dirt happens. As you get older getting down on your knees can be a bother, and knee pads will help. Another consideration is a towel. Kneel on it, or you can lay it down and sit on it outdoors, and if something is spilled, you are a hero.

Wendy #1

Wendy #1


I find the best shots of children are candid. Letting the kids do their thing and catching them at the right moment. Children do not want to be posed. Some will allow themselves to be posed, but only briefly. Making them, stay posed and asking them to smile will give images a unnatural appearance. You want the kids to be relaxed and in their happy place. Occasionally you can call their name and they will look up, you have a shot. Yes, the Rule of thirds should still be applied, just make sure the kids are comfortable.

Your images will reflect your mood.

Children notice moods quickly. If you are in a bad mood when taking pictures of kids, you are in a hopelessly impractical situation. The idea is to smile and be happy. Most kids will smile back at you. Do not be afraid to be a little silly and invite laughter. It will make all the difference.

Please Support The Phoblographer

We love to bring you guys the latest and greatest news and gear related stuff. However, we can’t keep doing that unless we have your continued support. If you would like to purchase any of the items mentioned, please do so by clicking our links first and then purchasing the items as we then get a small portion of the sale to help run the website.

Also, please follow us on FacebookFlickr and Twitter.


7 Tips for Photographing Strangers

by IBARIONEX PERELLO on 05/24/2013

Approaching strangers to make their photographs is something I’m often asked about. There is a lot of curiosity about how to ask someone you don’t know to make their photograph.

Some believe there is some big secret, but there actually isn’t. The biggest challenge is not about how to ask, but rather getting past one’s own fear of rejection. But in my experience the great majority of people that I approach are willing to be photographed, because they are rather flattered by the attention.

If you exhibit good positive energy and are sincere in your approach, even with little more than a warm smile and a gesture, you’ll be surprised as what can happen. Here are seven suggestions that I hope you’ll find helpful for photographing strangers.

One Last Smoke - ©John Derby

One Last Smoke – ©John Derby

Start with a Compliment

When I see someone that I want to photograph, I often identify something about them that stands out for me, which can be the foundation of a compliment. It could be the hat they are wearing, the dog they’re walking or their hairstyle. This provides me a starting point for a conversation. People rarely receive compliments from strangers and it can serve as a great icebreaker.

It’s also beneficial because it explains to the subject, why you are interested in them as a subject. So, when the idea of a photograph is brought up, they have an understanding of why you want to photograph them.

More often than not, I am able to gauge a person’s openness to being photographed just by their reaction to the compliment.

Keep Talking

Sometimes, people will initially say no, but it’s a good idea to keep talking to them.

If someone says no initially, I will continue to ask them about that thing about him or her that I found interesting. It helps to demonstrate that my interest in them was sincere.

Sometimes, the subject will actually change their mind and allow me to photograph them because they’ve had the chance to get to know me a little better and assess my intentions. I will sometimes ask again at the end of the interaction if they don’t offer and about half the time, I come away with a photograph.

Rare Breed #3 - ©John Derby

Rare Breed #3 – ©John Derby

Find a Setting

Every time I find a subject, I am simultaneously looking for somewhere to move them in order to make a portrait. Usually, the spot where I found them doesn’t offer the best quality of light or background. So, even before approaching the subject, I’ve already determined where to place them should they answer yes to my request.

I’ll often be looking for a clean and simple background to reduce the potential for distractions. I also look for a location where the light is good, which is often an area of open shade, which helps minimize the presence of harsh shadows across the face and body.

Have the Camera Ready

When you are making a portrait of anyone, it’s important to have your camera ready. Your attention has to be on the person, rather than the camera settings. You don’t have much time when photographing a stranger and you don’t want to lose a good opportunity fumbling with your camera.

So, I will already have my camera set for Aperture Priority or Manual mode so that I have control over my aperture and my depth of field. I will even have my camera set for a moderate aperture such as f4 of f5.6.

When I have identified a location where I think I might want to move my subject, I’ll also adjust my ISO so that I am using a reasonable shutter speed, which will ensure a sharp photography. Lastly, I’ll adjust my white balance to match the type of light that I will be shooting under. This takes only a few seconds and I’m ready to spend my time fully engaged with my subject.

Slow Down

It’s important to not feel anxious and rushed when making a photograph. It’s easy to rush things, because you don’t want to take too much of your subject’s time. However, such feelings can result in you producing a lackluster result.

If your subject is agreeing to be photographed, it’s the photographer’s responsibility to do as good a job as possible. So make a careful assessment of everything in the frame to ensure that you don’t have any distraction within the frame and that you are producing as good a composition as possible.

Take the time to make several shots including a headshot, full body shot, verticals and horizontals.

Remember, that if the subject is willing to pose for you, they are willing to collaborate with you to produce a good result and so make use of that generosity.

Playing The Slots - ©John Derby

Playing The Slots – ©John Derby

Let the Subject be Themselves

Don’t try to pose your subject. More often than not, the subject will find their own natural body language that will be better than anything you could impose on them. Make some small suggestions such as the tilt of the head or the placement of the hand to improve on what they’ve given you.

Often people will automatically smile, but don’t hesitate to ask them not to smile and to just relax. This can often result in a much more natural and relaxed expression.

If you are continue to engage the subject and they laugh at something you say, you will likely get a much more authentic smile and expression, which is always much more desirable.

Every photographer who photographs strangers has their own unique approach, which is developed with practice. You will likely find something that fits your particularly style and personality. But you’ll only discover what that is, by going out and doing it.

The resulting images would provide you more than enough inspiration keep doing it over and over again.

Please Support The Phoblographer

We love to bring you guys the latest and greatest news and gear related stuff. However, we can’t keep doing that unless we have your continued support. If you would like to purchase any of the items mentioned, please do so by clicking our links first and then purchasing the items as we then get a small portion of the sale to help run the website.

Also, please follow us on FacebookFlickr and Twitter

(To purchase the above images simply click on it to be taken to my store website)


5 Essential Accessories for Every New Camera

There is a common debate among photographers that starts with, “The gear doesn’t make you a better photographer.” Yes, this is a true statement, but let’s be real with ourselves: there are some photography accessories that you simply must have.

If you are going for the minimalistic gear line-up, these are you essential “must have” accessories for any Digital SLR on the market.

Above The Chapel Door - ©John Derby

Above The Chapel Door – ©John Derby

Extra Battery

There will come a moment when your enthusiasm for photography gets the best of you and you forget to charge the battery. (That, or you take so many photos in a shoot that the battery just dies on you.) Maybe you are into long exposure photography and you are lasting longer than your battery. No matter the situation – having that extra battery just may save your bacon, or your photo shoot.

There are several third party and knock-off brands of batteries that you could buy, but make sure that your extra battery is compatible with your camera and charger. Otherwise, the battery will not charge or function in the ways you expect it to.


Every photographer absolutely needs a tripod of their own. Whether you do landscapes, macros, formal portraits, or long exposures, you will want a sturdy tripod underneath that camera. (Notice the word “sturdy” was used.)

Having “any” tripod is like wearing “any size” shoe. It might serve the purpose but that does not mean it is a good fit. A tripod must be solid and secure so that your camera does not move or shake while you are taking a photo. There are tripods that will tremble at the flush of a toilet next door, and those are usually the $40 setup from your favorite local retailer.

Affordable, yet proven, brands would be Induro and Benro. These brands are owned by the same company and come with amazing quality at a fraction of the cost of some of the preferred name brand tripods.

In general, aluminum tripods are cheaper and a bit heavier than your favorite carbon fiber tripods. If you can swing getting a carbon fiber tripod, you will be happier in the long run. Keep in mind that whatever you decide to get (as long as it is good quality!) you will have it for 10 years before it needs replacing.

The Rocking Chair - ©John Derby

The Rocking Chair – ©John Derby

Cable Release

A cable release is used to engage the shutter without touching the actual shutter button on the camera. There are three major reasons you would want a cable release.

First, you might want to avoid shaking or moving the camera while hitting the shutter button. Using the cable release will allow the camera to remain steady as you click the shutter. We do not usually worry about this with faster shutter speeds, but once we slow it down, the slightest movement can make a big difference.

Second, some photographers like to extend their tripod really high and simply can’t reach the shutter button even if they wanted to. Having the cable release helps bridge the vertical gap.

Third, a cable release is mandatory if you are doing long exposures beyond 30 seconds. Your DSLR must be in bulb mode. To avoid holding the shutter yourself the entire time, have a cable release hold it for you. For example: to capture star trails at night, it is common to see exposures upwards of 30 – 45 minutes. (That’s also when an extra battery would come in handy.)

A basic cable release will allow you to engage the shutter through a cable attached to the camera. More advanced cable releases allow you to control the camera settings or set up time lapses.


There is little else that will instantly change your photography as dramatically as working with flash photography. Adding your own light and being in control of it opens up so many creative avenues to you as a photographer that your photos will never be the same.

Name brand flashes, such as Canon and Nikon, can be very expensive and difficult to justify when on a budget. Look into 3rd party or off-brand flashes that are half the cost and often times are just as powerful and feature-packed. If you are just starting out, getting a full manual flash is where you want to be.

Having the flash is an important piece to the puzzle of flash photography. Eventually, look into getting a stand, flash bracket, and a trigger and receiver so that you can take advantage of and experiment with off-camera flash photography. Controlling the direction of light and the intensity really adds to what can be done in the photo.

Playing The Slots - ©John Derby

Playing The Slots – ©John Derby

Flash Bender and Diffuser

This is such an awesome light modifier for your speedlight. If you were to only buy one right now, I would suggest the Rogue FlashBender. You can do so much with it and you will get very similar results as you would with other more expensive modifiers.

Just strap on the flash bender and you’re ready to go. Shape it and mold it to work with whatever you are photographing. You’ll be truly amazed at what this can do, especially when you bundle it with the diffusing panel that goes on the front and acts as a mini softbox.

(To purchase the above images simply click on it to be taken to my store website)

Polarizing Filters: What Are They For?

Tiffen1Polarizing filters are little lenses than can create a lot of magic. Basically what they do is change the way your camera sees light. This can cause tremendous impact on the vibrance of colors. Skies can to either have a very contrasty, deep blue tone or an opposite, pale shade of blue. They are extremely powerful tools against reflections and they are one of the few filters the effect of which cannot be reproduced by editing software. When shooting a photo of a water surface, the filter can be adjusted so that it cuts glare and allows you to see through. The same applies when shooting through glass. Without a filter , it’s virtually impossible to avoid reflections.

They work by rotating the polarizer ring around the filter, according to direct sunlight. To achieve maximum effect , the filter must be positioned perpendicular to the direction of the sun. For a less pronounced polarizing effect, shift the angle of maximum effect slightly towards, or away from the sun.


Some filters are better than others. There are a some specifications to look for. The number of coating layers is one. The glass is treated with special substances that give it the ability to reduce glare. The more layers there are, the better. A thinner filter is preferable to a thicker one , as you will be adding weight to the front of your lens ( I assume you already have a quality UV mounted on it ).



Here are our top 5 recommendations:

Marumi DHG Super Circular Polarizer

B+W 67mm Kaesemann Circular Polarizer

Hoya Circular polarizing filter

Tiffen Circular polairezer

Cokin 77mm Pure Harmonie Super Slim Circular Polarizer


Lost your Photo Mojo? Ten Tips to Bring Back the Magic

A Post By: Valerie Jardin

We all go through creative blocks. Is it such a bad thing? Or, on the contrary, is it a sign that we need to push ourselves, and grow in the process? I think that a loss of passion may be an opportunity to renew and refresh your vision and turn it in a positive experience, instead of staying in a rut and feeling sorry for yourself.

Ten Tips to Get your Photo Mojo Back

OERM 1956 - ©John Derby

OERM 1956 – ©John Derby

1 – Get out of your comfort zone

You may hear this one often, but have you done it yet? I’m not suggesting that you go out and shoot your first wedding, but try something that may seem out of character for you. I consider myself more of an urban photographer than anything else. But I have experimented with other genres, such as B&W flower photography. Did I enjoy it? Sure I did, tremendously! But I also realized that I’m happier shooting street photography. That realization alone gave me a boost to get out and do more of what I love most.

2 – Hang out with other photographers

Hanging out with like minded people is like therapy. Admit it, you often experience some frustration when you are on an outing with non-photographers. Being able to enjoy a photo walk without having to justify why you need to take your time to get the shot is priceless. Join a group or start your own. The latter option is a good way to make sure that you will show up for all the photo walks!

3- Start a new project

Before you embark on a long project, make sure you’ll be able to handle the commitment. For example, a 365 project is a great way to grow as a photographer but it can also become a burden and be counterproductive. If you end up quitting after a few weeks, you may end up feeling worse about yourself and photography in general. If you decide to go for the 365, don’t be too hard on yourself. Don’t get to the point where you’ll shoot just about anything to get your pic of the day. Remember, it’s supposed to be fun! You may also consider starting something a little bit more manageable such as a 52-week project, a short term photo essay, a series of portraits of strangers or selfies, etc. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you share with the world! Which leads to the next point…

Pico to First #1 - ©John Derby

Pico to First #1 – ©John Derby

4 – Try a new lens

Rent or borrow something completely different such as a fish eye, a macro lens or a Lensbaby Composer for a few days, see the world differently and embrace the new possibilities.

See a list of the most popular lenses – survey of dPS readers

5 – Share your work, start a blog!

Share your work on social media, or consider starting a photography blog. You don’t need to be a writer to start a photography blog, think of it as a journal in pictures. It’s so much more fun than keeping your images in your hard drive. It will also give you a boost in your confidence and push you to shoot more and better.

You can get a free, or inexpensive blog using resources like:

Square Space - starts at $8/month – starts at free

6 – Page through a good photography book

We get inspiration online all the time. Everything we do seems to be online. The Internet is a wonderful thing and we are exposed to the work of so many amazing artists from all over the world and in real time. Sometimes we need to slow down and sit down with a big beautiful book of photographs. Visit a real book store or a library for a change of pace and for renewed inspiration.

Melbourne Tram - ©John Derby

Melbourne Tram – ©John Derby

7 – Visit museums

Photography exhibits are a wonderful way to get some inspiration, but do not neglect looking at art in general. Sculptures, paintings, etc. See the passion that fueled the works of art showcased at your local museum.

8 – Teach a child

Give a camera to a child and go on a photo walk. You’ll be amazed to discover the world from a child’s perspective. Better yet, this could ignite a life-long passion thanks to you!

9 – Write a list of techniques you’ve never tried and give it a shot!

There isn’t a single technique that is not explained in detail online, so you have no excuse for not experimenting with something new. You never know, this light painting thing may just be what you need to feel inspired again, so get to work!

10 – Simply pick up your camera and photograph something in your house

There is no reason to stay in a rut, all you need to do is pick up a camera, any camera. You can even stay home and do it. Pick an ordinary object and make it look extraordinary! This simple step will get the creative juices flowing again.

Red Caboose - ©John Derby

Red Caboose – ©John Derby

Okay it’s your turn

It’s okay to feel down and uninspired, it’s all part of being an artist. Turn it around and use it as an excuse to push yourself and try something new!

Please take a minute to share your experience dealing with creative block and how you found your muse again.

Valerie Jardin I live and breathe in pixels! Photography is more than a passion, it’s an obsession, almost an addiction. When I am not shooting for commercial clients or writing about photography, I spend my time teaching this beautiful craft during photo workshops in France, United States and Australia! Visit my Website Follow me on Facebook , Twitter , Google+.


(To purchase the above images simply click on it to be taken to my store website)