Photography Tips for Absolute Beginners

Photography Tips for Absolute Beginners

So you have decided you might like to try getting into photography, you have either just acquired a new camera or are about to, where do you begin? Here are some photography tips for absolute beginners to help get you started.

These are very basic but also very true. I’d add one thing: Like everything in life, in order to get better at it, you must practice, practice, practice. But, perhaps more importantly, you must practice *good* things. There’s no point in practicing taking bad photos. 🙂

That’s why the tips of taking classes, reading books, and connecting with other photographers is so important. They will all help you to learn what makes a good photo so you can go out and create your own!

Back Button Focus Made Easy

Back Button Focus Made Easy

Learn how to master the pro skill of back button focus in just three steps so you can get sharper shots of moving subjects.

You may not be familiar with this shooting technique but, if you have a DSLR, I’d encourage you to find out how to set it up on your camera. It takes a bit of getting used to but I promise that, if you master it, you’ll get better shots.

2015 National Geographic Photo Contest

2015 National Geographic Photo Contest:

Every year photographers from around the globe share photographs that transport us to another place, connect with us emotionally, or stir us to action.

I love this contest! Even though I’ll never enter it, the photos represent the best of the best and show us not only the world around us but what is possible with a camera. National Geographic also allows you to download the photos for use as wallpaper on your desktop or phone.

What is your favorite shot?

Images from Scott Kelby’s 8th Annual Worldwide Photo Walk on Granville Island

I was very happy to once again be a Walk Leader for the Scott Kelby 8th Annual Worldwide PhotoWalk. These events are always a lot of fun and the idea of shooting at the same (general) time as thousands of photographers around the world is very cool.

We had about 40 walkers joining me for the walk around Granville Island, one of the more photogenic areas of Vancouver.

While I didn’t shoot as much as I normally would (a large photo walk is like herding cats!), here are some shots from Saturday.

What good looking bunch of shooters!

My favorite face of the day:

One poor lonely shoe. There’s a small child limping around Granville Island right now.


I love the juxtaposition of the text on the left (“participants wanted”) and the young lady on the right *not* participating. 🙂





And this one is my favorite shot of the day!


Vacation Pictures from Mexico!

Kim and I had an amazing time at the Grand Sunset Princess Resort in Playa del Carmen, Mexico!

infltr: Filter Photos with over 5 Million Color Hues

I’m a complete iPhone Photo App Junkie (IPAJ) and have over four hundred (and counting!) of them. Here is the latest cool one I’ve found:

infltr is a camera app that lets you add filter before you capture a picture. Move your finger and see the filter change in real-time. Pan across in any direction to discover infinite filters.
Affiliate link:
infltr: Filter Photos with over 5 Million Color Hues

The only downside is the filters only occur on live shots – that is, before you take the photo. You can’t (yet) import photos from your camera roll and use the infltr engine to transform the image.

Edit Any Photo on the Internet with Polarr’s Plugin


Popular browser-based editor Polarr has released a new plugin for both Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox that enables users to instantly edit any photo.

This will be useful for my classes to show live editing but it might be scary for photographers and undoubtedly has copyright issues associated with grabbing just any image off the web and “making it your own”. If you use this, please be respectful of the artist’s copyright.

Sunrise, Sunset with Rizon

Every photographer will tell you that the Golden Hour – the half hour before and after sunrise and sunset – is the “best” time to shoot outdoors. The light is “different” – less harsh with a different color temperature and quality. But the times of sunrise and sunset keep changing from week to week and season to season.
I use Rizon (affiliate link) to send a message on my phone each evening reminding me of when sunset is (I’m less likely to want a message when sunrise happens!). From the developer:

The idea behind Rizon was that it’s usually a pain for the casual photographer to find out when the best time of day to shoot photographs outdoors is. Sure, there are other apps that tell you the same sort of information, but sometimes it can be an information overload. I just wanted a simple way to see when Golden Hour was happening, along with Twilight and the time of day to avoid harsh shadows.

Rizon uses your current location and date to work out the times for you. You can also use a custom location (which is available offline) and custom dates to help you plan photo-shoots in advance.

I’m also really forgetful so we have 2 different types of reminders. Quick Reminders let you just set one-off reminders for the upcoming two Golden Hours or a custom date. Repeat Reminders are sent every day (depending on the settings you choose) so you don’t have to do anything. Rizon will just ping you when to get outside.

It’s a well done, simple, inexpensive app (affiliate link) that can serve as a great reminder to get out there and take pictures!

LiveBlend by Eric Kunz

Everyone knows I’m a complete iOS photography app junkie. Like all junkies, I can’t help myself. But apps have been around so long it’s getting harder to find ones that are truly different or interesting enough for me to recommend.

The 99 cent LiveBlend by Eric Kunz (affiliate link) definitely qualifies.

I love double exposure shots but they have been beyond my (non-existent) Photoshop skills. And the other iOS apps I’ve tried haven’t given me results I’m happy with. Liveblend is the easiest to use double exposure app I’ve found if only because of the live preview ability.

Now, not every photo works as a double exposure so it’s best to experiment with LiveBlend’s free downloadable silhouettes to get a feel for the app. It also has issues with photos that don’t fit into what the app wants – some photos will be flipped to landscape mode even when you don’t want them to be. And there’s no way in v1 to play around with the image translucency.

All that being said, it’s still an interesting app that, for only 99 cents, can create some memorable images.

Pixelmator for the iPad Now Available. Just Buy It.

While Photoshop is the 800lb gorilla of digital image editors, Pixelmator certainly gives it a run for its money, doing 75% of what Photoshop can do at a fraction of the price.

If you watched the Apple iPad Launch Event in September, you would have seen a demonstration of Pixelmator for the iPad. Those of us who are fans of the desktop software (and the developers behind it) were very excited by the idea of Pixelmator on our iPads. For me, it was a matter of, “OK…take my money! How much of it do you want!?”

Luckily, Pixelmator for the iPad is only $5. Just shut up and go buy it now.

Interview with The Campfire Project about iPhone Photography

I was happy to be asked to appear on The Campfire Project podcast with Chris Domico and Matt Dusenbury. In this episode, we had a conversation where we “look at how far photography, and the stories those pictures tell, have come – from specialized service to everyday occurrence.”

You can listen in to the podcast by clicking here.

Thanks very much to Matt and Chris for the invite to appear on their show!

The Dunning-Kruger Peak of Photography

The Dunning-Kruger Peak of Photography:

Through their study, the scientists discovered that people who are unskilled at something — photography for example — are often unable to see how bad they are. Incompetent people will (1) fail to recognize that they are bad, (2) fail to recognize how good competent people are, and (3) fail to see the magnitude of their incompetence.

However, if given more training in what they’re bad at, those same people will recognize how incompetent they were (this is where people fall from the “Dunning-Kruger Peak”).

This is absolutely true for me and my photography skills and abilities. Luckily, I think I’m on the upward side of the “Jon Snow Trough”. 🙂

Black and White on Granville St

Inspired by my friend Antonio Rosario’s black and white shots he’s posted on Facebook, I went out yesterday specifically to shoot in black and white.

I set my Nikon D600 to show me the images I took on the LCD viewfinder only in black and white. Like most things, it takes practice (I shot 500+ photos with only 16 “good enough” to post and only half of those were in B&W) but it was fun and made me think about what I was shooting and the lighting differently.

It will be a long time before I’m anywhere near as good as Tony but I like the exercise.

Granville St


Scott Kelby’s Annual Worldwide Photo Walk 2014

Scott Kelby’s Annual Worldwide Photo Walk 2014:

Taking place in cities around the world, photographers of all walks of life and skill levels gather together to socialize, share and inspire during this one-day, worldwide event.

I had a blast being a Leader on the very first “Scott Kelby’s Annual Worldwide Photo Walk” many years ago in New York City and will be doing it again this year here in Vancouver.

I decided to have a particular focus on beginning shooters this year and hopefully making the walk a place where new shooters can come and experience what a photo walk is and ask questions of the pros that will also be on the walk with us!

There are walks literally around the world so, if you’re not here in Vancouver, take a look at the web site and see if there is one in your city on October 11th.

This is where the slick photos of military jets come from

The Washington Post:

Like other fighter jet manufacturers, Lockheed Martin has a team of photographers and videographers to record images of the planes it produces. They pose them at dawn and dusk, against mountains and over oceans.

Photographers such as Liz Kaszynski chase the jets in trail planes, documenting test flights and training missions—at high speed and altitude. But at other times, she calls the shots, a director with a camera, calling for a barrel roll here, a dive there, all documented in a sequence of prepared moves.

Wow. Talk about a photographic dream job!

F-22 Raptors at Hickam AFB, Hawaii. (Source: Lockheed Martin)

Manual for iPhone

One of the huge advantages DSLRs and many point and shoots have over the iPhone or other smartphones is the ability to adjust, manipulate and control Shutter, ISO, White Balance, Focus and Exposure Bracketing.

In the latest iOS update, Apple has allowed developers access to those abilities of the iPhone and we are starting to see apps take advantage of them.

Manual from Little Pixels (affiliate link) is just such an app. It has the advantage of having a funny video to go along with it:

“Stop Taking Vertical Photos Already” STFU

This seems so obvious, but based on the number of people who still post vertical photos, it clearly isn’t. The world of vertical photography, once dominated by hanging portraits, magazine covers, passport and school photos, and leather-bound albums, has come to an end. We look at everything horizontally: our computers, our phones, our TVs. Our eyes are side by side, not one on top of the other. It’s time for a moratorium on vertical photos on the Internet.

Let’s get this out of the way right from the start – the author is a pompous asshat who thinks he know better than anyone else how you should take photographs.

It’s time for a moratorium on vertical photos on the Internet.Balloon8


The Web is inherently a horizontal medium…

Really? I seem to be scrolling up and down, VERTICALLY, an awful lot.

People who post vertical photos online are basically like your grandfather who still dials his cellphone with his index finger instead of his thumb.

Ignoring the stupidity of the insult, what difference does it make how someone dials their cellphone? Does it affect the call? Does it make the quality less? Would the person on the other end of the call notice?

Shoot however you want in what ever direction/orientation you want. Ignore “professionals” who think they know how you should hold your camera. If you’re getting the results you want and pictures you like, the professionals can go pound sand.