Photography, a great way to capture moments in ones life, preserve memories, or just to view something that is beautiful. There are many aspects to photography, the types of cameras, the lenses, the manual controls you use to capture such photos. They are all important puzzle pieces to the grand ability of how to work a camera. Of course, there are still many puzzle pieces to be found and you can learn where exactly these pieces belong.

HDR Photography

Have you ever been online looking at photos when a beautiful landscape with vibrant flora and almost unrealistically bright hues appears within your search? Chances are, this is an HDR photo, which are brightly colored and drastically contrasting photos that are the direct product of utilizing 3 to 7 (or many more) different photos of the same subject with different exposures.

HDR stands for “high-dynamic range” and for those who are unfamiliar with this term, dynamic range is the difference between the lightest light and the darkest dark in a photo. Usually when you reach the end of one of these sides, say the lightest light – the image will become a extremely washed out, or on the latter, the dark parts will become unshapely blobs. So, it’s actually extraordinarily hard to capture both these things in a single photo with a single exposure. Now, this is where HDR photography comes in. Like stated earlier, HDR is a mash of 3 or more photos with different exposures, shutter speeds, apertures to create visually different images of the same subject.

Essentially, once all these photos are taken, the differently exposed images will be smashed together (better term would be stitched as it takes careful work to make an appropriate looking HDR image) in a software to create the HDR photo. It will highlight the most colorful, bright parts of the photo. Stitching together photos for HDR can be done in various different softwares such as Photomatix or AuroraHDR. Unfortunately these programs cost money, but if you’d like to dip your toes into HDR photography and want to try it out, you may use something like Luminance HDR, which is freeware.

Or, you can even use Photoshop to stitch the image together with the image merging tools. Go to file, automate, and Merge to HDR Pro.

These were the photos I used to make the HDR below.
hdr1HDR Photo by me, HDR made via Photoshop CS’ HDR Pro setting.

Panoramas

Panoramas are long images that capture a long field of view horizontally. Chances are you’ve seen a few, or you may have taken your own. Maybe you took one with your Apple phone when that came out a few years ago. You may have even seen the funnily broken Apple panoramas that mess up someones face or elongate a persons body. Of course, actual panoramas are much different and usually more functional. Taking panorama photos with a DSLR is visually similar, but takes a bit different strategy and technique.

In order to take a panorama image, you must take multiple photos in a horizontal row of the subject. How to achieve this is by using a tripod to make it as steady as possible, and making sure each image is overlapping at the sides that’ll be put together. It takes practice and a steady hand and technique to guesstimate how far you turn. You cannot change focal lengths during this and you should never change exposures. Slight differences can be fixed, but dramatically different ones cannot be fixed as easily.

To seam these photos together, Photoshop can easily do this view it’s photomerge tool which can be done by going to file, automate, Photomerge. Then, you specify the images you’d like to use, pick a format, and then, it will do its thing.

These are the photos I used to make the Panorama below.

panorama.jpg

Panorama made by me, merged via Photoshop CS’ Photomerge setting.

Black and White Photography

Before photographers were capable of making color photography, they took black and white photos, and many photographers to this day still use black and white photos, since they have deep contrast, strong lines, and can look incredibly eye-catching without the use of color.

Photographers that make black and white photos usually choose their settings based on their effects. Low ISO produces fine grain and high contrast, whereas high ISO produces sharp grain and has a softer contrast, usually. When adjusting black and white photos, one has to make sure they know what stands out and what does contrast. During adjustments, it is important to consider using different tones to make the subject pop out more, allowing your photos contrast to shine and for the subject to be clear, rather than look muddied and lost amongst the greys.

Strong black and white photos utilize different tones to make the viewer of the picture look directly at the subject, the subject must pop out. When taking a photo that will become black and white, you must consider how it will look in monochrome, will it look dull and boring? Or will the greys with blacks and whites cause your image to really shine? When taking a photo it should be considered that most photos may not look good in black and white. This will help for when you actually get to the creation of the photos. Some tips are to shoot in RAW + JPEG to help visualize how the monochrome colorless will look. Always try to spot contrast, lines, and textures within the subject, this will make it more dramatic and look better in black and white.

There are many different ways to transform your colored images into black and white, this can be done in quite a few different ways in Photoshop. And no, you should never do a one click filter in Photoshop. That could definitely break your images integrity and visual strength. One good way to do this is the Channel Mixer, which allows you to change the values of the red, green, and blue to change the saturation or brightness. For example, a higher value in the red channel will make the red colors lighter whereas the blues will become darker. To achieve monochromatic values with this tool you must:

  1. Layer –> New Adjustment Layer –> Channel Mixer
  2. Click the monochrome box to tick it.
  3. Move the red, blue, and green sliders around to lighten and darken the tones within the photo. Be sure that the total of the three sliders should be 100% at all times.
  4. Click “ok” when you finish up!

Featured Photo by Alexander Wang on Unsplash