With years of experience and a number of award winning photographs Nigel Waters is a UK landscape photographer based in Worcestershire. With a passion for the great outdoors and continually chasing the light to capture beautiful photographs his landscape, seascape and nightscape photography will give you inspiration to get out and explore the best British landscapes have to offer.
Have you ever wondered what the difference between Vibrance vs Saturation in Photoshop and Lightroom? Well you are not alone, this is a question that crops up in conversation often when I take people through various post processing workflows and techniques.
Vibrance and Saturation adjustments increase or decrease the colour intensity within an image. Vibrance will give subtle enhancements to colour and minimise clipping as colours approach full saturation. Saturation changes the intensity of all colours within an image making them more vivid or muted depending on the selected value. Vibrance is different to Saturation by making adjustments to lower saturated colours and less adjustments to higher saturated colours while also protecting skin tones from over saturation.
How to adjust Vibrance and Saturation in Photoshop
There are a few ways to adjust colour saturation in Photoshop let’s take a look at 3 different methods you can use.
Vibrance Adjustment Layer
This is my preferred method and the one I use most often with subtle precise adjustments to give the desired result.
The added benefit of using this adjustment layer is that you can also if required give an overall colour boost by adding a little saturation via the saturation slider along with the vibrance slider all on the same layer. I find this invaluable for giving the fine adjustments needed to create the final look that represents the colours in the scene.
Using the Properties Pallet you can now add or decrease the Vibrance in the image by using the slider. To show the difference between Vibrance vs Saturation lets adjust both sliders individually to 100% and compare the results on the same RAW image.
The results show how using the saturation at 100% over saturates the greens of the grass and orange and yellow hues in the sky. With vibrance set to 100% the image is still a little over saturated but you can clearly see the difference in the grass and sky.
To find the sweet spot I usually use both sliders together where I would add Vibrance but also a little Saturation just to give the image an overall boost if required. Remember this is a RAW image and is by no means the finished article and requires further adjustments such as exposure and contrast.
Hue and Saturation Tool
This is what I find most people jump in and start using to adjust saturation and great care should be taken not to clip colours or posterise the image. This method I find to be quite course and recommend using the Vibrance Adjustment Layer instead.
To show the difference between using this method and the Vibrance layer I have used the same image and taken the Saturation to 100% in the properties pallet. You can see how it has caused a posterised effect and totally destroyed the image.
In order to get the image to something acceptable I had to use a saturation value of 18 which shows how course this slider is and why I would advise to use the Vibrance Adjustment Layer for much better control.
Curves Adjustment Layer using Saturation blend mode
Using a Curves Adjustment Layer set to Saturation blend mode is a more controllable way to adjust Saturation. In Normal blend mode curve adjustments will change both contrast and saturation but by selecting the Saturation blend mode you can focus on saturation.
This method can be used for changing saturation specific to tonal ranges such as shadows, midtones and highlights. In the example below I have increased the saturation of the colour in the shadows and highlights and can vary the amount by altering the shape of the curve.
In this example I increased the saturation of the greens in the shadows and the yellow and oranges of the highlights in the sky. It can be a little confusing at first but the best way is to just experiment and get used to using curves not only for Luminosity but also Colour.
Learning to use curves is an invaluable core skill in image editing and one I urge anyone to practice and learn to use adding depth to images and making colours pop. For targeting specific colours I highly suggest learning to use the Selective Color adjustment layer.
By far my preferred method and the one I use most in Photoshop to increase saturation is the Vibrance adjustment layer but I think it is always good to know and understand other methods and how they differ.
A good tip is to remember that you can make even further fine adjustment on any of these layer adjustment tools by simply reducing their individual opacity percentage.
How to adjust Vibrance and Saturation in Lightroom
You can adjust Vibrance and Saturation in lightroom by using the sliders under presence in the side panel. These sliders work in the same way as previously outline for photoshop or do they?
I have to admit I never use Lightroom to make these types of adjustments and always prefer to do it in Photoshop so I decided to carry out the same test on the RAW image with both sliders individually at 100%. I was totally surprised at the results and they were not the same as the results I achieved in Photoshop.
Although results for Vibrance at 100% look similar using Saturation at 100%, Lightroom heavily saturated the yellows much more so than in Photoshop as you can see from these images.
The saturation slider in Lightroom is much more course than Vibrance the same as in Photoshop and I would recommend using vibrance for more fine adjustment and add a little saturation to give an overall boost.
Like everything in Post Processing less is often more and with saturation this is definitely the case and you want to make sure you don’t over cook it and end up with images that look over processed and unnatural.
The best advice I can give when it comes to any colour adjustments is to take time out and let your eyes re-adjust. While staring at all these colours making minor adjustments you become colour blind and will end up pushing your colour too far. Take a break once you think you are done and then come back and double check.
A quick method I always use is to convert the image to black and white allowing your eyes to settle then simply switch back to colour. If you fall of your chair because it is too saturated then dial it back a little and do the same again.
I hope you find this useful if so please feel free to drop me a comment below.
While searching through my photographs for that perfect image to accompany an article I was writing, it was frustrating to find that all the best suited images were either the wrong aspect ratio or didn’t have enough free space to add the text I needed. When I took the images I didn’t plan on using them in this way and focused more on composition than for publication but there is a lesser known tool in Photoshop to come to the rescue and fix the problem called Content Aware Scale.
What is Content Aware Scale?
Content Aware Scaling was first introduced in Photoshop CS4 and is used to resize an image while preserving the proportions of important image elements. Normal scaling affects all pixels uniformly when resizing an image but content aware scale attempts to only alter pixels that have little visual content. This makes it possible to upscale or downscale images to improve composition or fit a layout without changing important visual content such as people, buildings and landscapes.
How does content aware scale work?
It works by analysing the image and removing lines or pixels that contain relatively little information so that a plain background is affected before the main subject. Specific content of an image can be preserved by using Alpha channels to protect content during resizing and will work with layers or selections in RGB, CMYK, Lab, and Grayscale colour modes.
Content aware scaling does not work on adjustment layers, layer masks, individual channels, Smart Objects, multiple layers simultaneously or layer groups.
A Walkthrough Example
To demonstrate the use of content aware scale I will use this seascape image of mine which is cropped to an aspect ratio of 3:4 portrait and change it to a 4:3 landscape aspect ratio.
If I resize the image horizontally using the standard Photoshop image size menu option you can see how badly distorted and unusable the image becomes. This is where we can use content aware scale to get get round this issue.
How to use Content Aware Scale
In order to have Content Aware Scaling available as a menu option first the image needs to be converted to a layer if not already. Select the locked background layer in the Layer Pallet and Click Right Mouse Button > Layer from background or Double Click Left Mouse button on the layer, rename layer as required.
Select content aware scale from Edit menu > Content Aware Scale.
Either drag the handles on each edge of the bounding box in the direction to scale the image, or directly enter the proportions into the text boxes on the tool options bar. Quick tip ensure that the maintain aspect ratio is not selected to scale in one direction. The opposite side of the image can be altered proportionally at the same by pressing the Alt key and moving one of the handles in the required direction.
Click either Cancel Transform or Commit Transform to confirm changes.
Content Aware Scale Options Bar
There are further options you can specify to further control the tool within the Content Aware Scale options bar.
Reference Point Location: Specify the fixed point around which the image is scaled by clicking a square on the reference point locator. The default is set to centre of the image.
Relative positioning for reference point: Click this button to specify the new position of the reference point in relation to its current position.
Reference point position: Used to position the reference at a specific point. Enter X and Y axis pixel dimensions.
Scaling Percentage: Used to specify the image scaling as a percentage of the original size for both Width (W) and Height (H). The aspect ratio can be locked if required.
Amount: Specifies the percentage ratio of content-aware scaling to normal scaling.
Protect: Selects Alpha channel to protect a desired area within the image.
Protect Skin Tones: Attempts to preserve regions that contain skin-tones.
Content Aware Scale using Protect
Although the Content Aware Scale algorithm within Photoshop is very good areas within an image can be further protected by using Alpha channels. Although this can seem a little complicated at first it is actually very simple once you have made a selection of the desired area to protect.
Make a selection of the area you want to protect using your favourite Photoshop Selection Tool. In this example I used the magic wand too to isolate the sea post in the centre of the image.
With the selection made click on the Channels Tab in the layers pallet then click on the Create New Chanel button.
Select the new Alpha channel created so it is selected the press Shift + Delete simultaneously to bring up the fill dialog box. Then change fill contents to White and hit ok.
You should now see your selection area for your newly created Alpha Channel white as shown below. To use this channel to protect your desired area simply follow the procedure earlier on how to create a Content aware fill but in the protect box select the Alpha channel name you just created.
Content-Aware Scale is one of those hidden gems within Photoshop that when used correctly can work magic on changing the aspect ratio of your images when you have large areas of negative space. Here I have talked about stretching out an image to change the aspect ration but Content-Aware Scaling works just as well the other way round to reduce an image size to change its aspect ratio like from a Landscape to Square or Portrait format without cropping and losing some of your image detail.
Here is the final image changed from a 3:4 aspect ratio Portrait format to a 4:3 aspect ratio landscape format. I hope you found this short tutorial useful but if you have any thoughts or questions about Content Aware Scaling feel free to comment below.
One of the basic fundamentals to editing in Photoshop is the ability to make key specific selections of desired areas within an image and being able to change them in isolation. There are many different tools to use depending on what you want to select such as Marquee, Lasso, Magic Wand and Quick Selections tools which are selectable from the tool panel. What can be less obvious is how to deselect your selection when needed.
How to deselect objects in Photoshop
Select the Photoshop Document window containing the selection you want to deselect. The selection will be outlined by a dotted or dashed line called marching ants.
On the Menu Bar left mouse click on “Select” to show the selection drop down menu.
Click on “Deselect” from the menu (second from the top) to deactivate all area selections.
You can use keyboard shortcuts to make a quick deselection by simultaneously pressing ⌘ and D (mac) or Ctrl and D (Windows PC).
It is a lot easier to deselect an object than what it can be to make complexed selection in the first place. Some selection tools can be very time consuming to make accurate selections such as the Lasso tool round irregular shapes such as a building and you might find that you accidentally deselect your selection and lose all your hard work. Don’t panic you recovering your previous selection is easy.
How to reselect objects in Photoshop
Select the Photoshop Document window containing the selection you need to reselect.
On the Menu Bar left mouse click on “Select” to show the selection drop down menu.
Click on “Reselect” from the menu (third from the top) to reselect your previous area selection.
You can use keyboard shortcuts to make a quick Reselect by simultaneously pressing ⇧ + ⌘ and D (Mac) or Shift + Ctrl and D (Windows PC).
Another method for undoing a deselection if it was the last action you performed is to use the Undo function which again can be accessed from the Menu Bar under Edit and selecting “Undo Deselect”. You can use keyboard shortcuts to undo an action by simultaneously pressing ⌘ and Z (mac) or Ctrl and Z (Windows PC).
What is a Selection Tool in Photoshop?
A selection tool in Adobe Photoshop is used to select a desired area within the photo so it can be modified or altered in isolation without affecting the rest of the photo. This is a key element within photoshop so specific areas can be accurately targeted and isolated so alterations can be made to enhance, modify or remove from the image without effecting the rest of the photo.
You can make selections by use of various selection tools to best suit the selection required or use a selection command such as “Select all”. When a selection is made a border surrounds the selection with a dotted or dashed line (marching ants) which can be hidden at anytime to remove distraction. This can be toggled on and off by pressing ⌘ and H (mac) or Ctrl and H (Windows PC).
When to use Selection Tools in Photoshop
Selections tools within photoshop are very powerful for isolating desired areas of an image and once a selection is made pixels within the selected border can be changed, copied or deleted. This is useful if you want to isolate an object and remove the background such as removing a background from a picture of a person or performing sky replacement in a landscape photograph.
Depending on the object you are trying to select will dictate which tool is best to use. More complexed selections can be made with tools such as the Lasso tools where selection edges can be smoothed using feathering and anti-aliasing to create images that look authentic and untouched.
All the available tools within Photoshop can seem intimidating and confusing at first but with practice it becomes second nature and it won’t be long before you are creating awesome images to be proud of!
While out taking some long exposure photographs the other day I got talking to someone who was just started out in photography and was interested to see what I was photographing and asking a few questions about my camera settings. Sometimes it’s easy to take someones understanding of camera settings for granted and as I rattled through what I was doing they asked What does b stand for when referring to a camera’s shutter speed?
B is the abbreviation of Bulb, a mode which will keep a camera shutter open while the shutter button is pressed or will close the shutter on the second press of the button depending on your camera. This mode allows you to use longer shutter speeds than the maximum settable within the camera and is also used when using external shutter release buttons and intervalometers. This is useful when you require long exposure times for low light situations such as photographing a night scene while maintaining a low ISO to reduce noise.
How to select Bulb mode on your camera?
Selecting bulb on your camera is very simple with some camera manufactures having a selectable b position on the shutter speed selection dial. To select the mode simply rotate the dial to the b symbol (Bulb mode) position.
If your camera does not have a shutter speed selection dial then don’t worry you will most likely find it under your shutter speed settings. Simply scroll through your shutter speeds using the command dial until you see the word Bulb displayed on your screen.
Most modern day cameras have a selectable bulb mode but consult your cameras manual if you can’t find it to check your camera has this mode available.
One final thing to note on Bulb mode which is often overlooked and I find people saying their camera doesn’t have a bulb mode is because they are in the wrong shooting mode. To be able to select this mode you most likely need to be in manual mode and it will not work in other modes such as Aperture priority or Program mode. Again check your manual to make sure.
When to use Bulb mode?
Bulb mode is used when you want to take long exposure above and beyond the maximum shutter speed your camera allows which in most cases is 30 seconds. This is especially useful when taking photographs at night allowing for longer exposures such as star trails or using filters such as a 10 stop ND filter to flatten out water or catch the movement of clouds in the sky
In bulb mode the shutter is kept open until the shutter button is released and can keep your shutter open for as long as you have enough battery to capture the image.
On a lot of cameras now there is an additional mode called Timer mode which works in exactly the same way as bulb mode but will open the shutter with one press of the shutter button and remain open until it is pressed for a second time to close it. This is extremely useful as you can create exposure of any time you like by using a stop watch to time your shots without the need to keep your finger on the button which can introduce camera shake.
Bulb mode and Shutter Release Cables
As stated above on most cameras Bulb mode will require you to hold down the shutter for the length of time you want to exposure your shot which is inconvenient and totally impractical for long exposures. Using the bulb mode in this way can introduce camera shake while taking your shot holding down the button your camera.
This is where locking external shutter release cables are useful so the shutter release button can be activated without touching the camera body. You simply set the camera to Bulb mode and press the shutter release button and lock it pressed which will keep the camera shutter open.
Now you can time your own exposures for as long as your require and then simply unlock the release cable which will close the shutter and complete your shot.
These shutter release cables are relatively inexpensive and can be brought as both wired and wireless versions and are invaluable for taking long exposures. A word of caution though you need to think a little about how you use your camera setup because if you are using a L-Bracket to easily use your camera in portrait mode you might find that you lose access to the ports on the side of your camera when mounted on a tripod.
To over come this you can buy wireless triggers but with these you might not be able to lock the shutter button like you can with wired versions which means they are no good for bulb mode and long exposures. These will work fine though if your camera has a timer mode with a two button press to open and close the shutter.
Bulb mode and Intervalometers
This brings us on to Intervalometers which are indispensable for astrophotography and taking images of the night sky. In order for a Intervalometer to control your camera you will need to set your camera to Bulb mode.
An intervalometer allows you to set the length of exposure with a timed interval and how many shots you want to take. For example you could take a 4 minute exposure wait 2 minutes then take another 4 minutes exposure 10 times.
This gives you precise control of your exposure times and frequency where you can just set it up, sit back and enjoy your surrounds. Although most people use intervalometers for astrophotography it is also fantastic for taking images at sunset and sunrise where you can create beautiful time lapses of the rising and setting sun.
Intervalometers are available as both wired and wireless versions and I would personally recommend a wireless one which also gives you the option to use it wired if required. Handy when your transmitter runs out of batters and you have no spares…yes that has happened to me!
Again these are not overly expensive with wired version starting from £15 and wireless ones from around £35. The one I have used for a long time now is the AODELAN WTR-2 which is relatively cheap at £60 and has a fantastic range so I can easily take selfies up to 60 meters away and is available for most common makes of cameras.
One final thing to note is that your camera might have a built in Intervalometer which is great as I have this functionality on my Nikons but you need to check the maximum exposure time. You may mind find that this is also limited to just 30 seconds which is very frustrating but on some new models this has been increase but it is still not indefinite and limited.
It is a scary moment, you are flying your DJI drone and for the first time you get a notification on the display to switch to ATTI mode. Like everything in life it always seems to happen when you least expect it and for me it was while I photographing a shipwreck with the drone over the sea on a relatively windy day.
If you are flying drones then then you need to know and understand the different modes and their effects on your drone. The last thing you need is to be in a situation where your drone is in the air and you are left scratching your head thinking what is ATTI mode?
Don’t worry if you are sensible and have done your research and know what you are doing you will be fine, most importantly keep calm and don’t panic.
What is ATTI Mode?
A DJI drone will automatically switch to ATTI mode short for Attitude mode when the GPS signal is weak , compass experiences interference or the vision systems are unavailable or disabled. Extra caution needs to be taken when flying in this mode especially in confined spaces as the drone cannot position or brake itself and can increase the risk of potential flight hazards due to the lack of obstacle avoidance. This can result in the drone being affected by environmental conditions such as wind causing the drone to drift horizontally.
Drone Preflight Checks
Drones are amazing aircraft with very sophisticated sensors and intelligent software to enable you to fly your device safely but like everything can fail and certainly should never be taken for granted. First steps a pilot should undertake are preflight checks before you send your drone off to your desired location and this will reduce the risk of in flight malfunction.
These are checks immediately before flight and don’t include your due diligence checks that should be performed before you leave for your flight destination such as software updates, restrictions, permissions, route planning and weather etc.
Quick check of aircraft for any sign of damage
Propellers are in good condition, tight and free to rotate.
Check Gimbal covers removed
Check all connections are secure
Power on Handset and any connected devices such as Mobile phone or tablets
Check Battery level and ensure fully charged
Power on Drone and check fully charged
Check signal strength connection to handset
Check GPS Satellite Strength
Check compass correctly calibrated and location indicator is facing the correct way on device application. Rotate drone 90 degrees at a time to ensure locator maintains correct direction.
One final check of surroundings to ensure its clear of any obstacles
Take off and hover and check everything ok then increase height to 15ft and hover for 20 seconds observing correct behaviour.
Rotate drone through full 360 degrees checking Signal strength, Satellite Strength and compass bearing indicator maintains correct direction.
Check controls are responsive in all directions.
Fly to desired destination keeping the drone in line of site at all times, fly sensibly and maintain drone code and rules at all times.
Have fun be sensible!
Drone Storage and transportation
Always keep your drown away from magnetic fields as this can disrupt the drones calibration sensors. Although you will get a warning when you power the drone on you really don’t want to be out in the field and have to recalibrate the IMU if you can help it and run the risk of not doing it correctly. This happened to me when I brought my first set of HD filters which came in a nice plastic case so I naturally put it in the carry bag with my Mavic Pro 2 drone for transportation. When I powered it up I had sensor calibration errors and couldn’t figure out why until I realised that the filter case had a nice powerful magnetic catch which upset the IMU calibration. It is a very simple mistake to make and one I don’t see mentioned often and to be aware of.
To calibrate the IMU in the DJI GO 4 app, go to settings > Main Controller Settings > Home Point Settings > Sensors > IMU > Calibrate
DJI Settings you should understand
These are not just specific to ATTI mode but I feel it best to mention them here and these are a couple of settings to be aware of that may help you and prevent potential disasters and fly aways.
There always seems to be confusion over compass calibration with some people calibrating before every flight and others saying they rarely if ever calibrate their compass unless instructed to do so by the DJI App. I personally like to follow DJI guidelines and because I spend most of my time travelling large distances to and from my destination I do tend to calibrate it before most flights.
The calibration is very simple and just mean you have to do a merry little dance spinning on the spot rotating the drone.
Here is what DJI say about calibration:
To calibrate the compass in the DJI GO 4 app, go to settings > Main Controller Settings > Home Point Settings > Sensors > Compass > Calibrate
Ensure the home point is set correctly
As tempting as it always is to start flying your drone round to try and catch the last fleeting light or epic shot ALWAYS take the time to check your home point is set to your location correctly. The last thing you need is for it to be set incorrectly over a sea or lake. To add to this while your drone is in flight periodically check your home position to check that it hasn’t been updated incorrectly for any reason especially before you hit the RTH button.
If you are on the move such as on a boat or like I do sometimes climbing a mountain then you can set the home location to your RC. This is in an important setting to check before you take off if you are in the habit of changing back and forth between home point settings between take off and RC positions to ensure you know what your drone is doing.
To manually update the home point in the DJI GO 4 app, go to settings > Main Controller Settings > Advanced Settings >
RC lost signal instruction
You can give your drone preset instruction on what to do in the event you ever lose signal and your aircraft disconnects from the controller. You have 3 options: Return to home (RTH), Land and Hover.
These are options that need to be thought about when flying your drone for instance you don’t want it to land if flying over water.
To do this, go to settings > Main Controller Settings > Advanced Settings > Remote Controller Signal Lost > Return-To-Home
Set correct RTH Altitude
This setting is often overlooked and I am as guilty as anyone but one you need to check before you fly your drone. Sometimes I will be using the drone for photography in a forest where it is under a dense tree canopy and the last thing I need is for my drone to RTH and all of a sudden gain altitude to my preset value and crash into the tree canopy.
To set the RTH altitude in the DJI GO 4 app, go to settings > Main Controller Settings > Return-To-Home Altitude
DJI Firmware Updates
I can’t stress this enough and that is always always update your drone firmware if required before you fly your aircraft. My big tip for this is to power on your drone before your leave home and do a quick check for any firmware updates.
There is nothing more frustrating than driving to a destination powering up your drone to get some epic footage to just get the firmware update message pop up which always seems to happen when you have little to no signal. With poor data signal this can take a long time and then you have either missed your shot or depleted most of a battery while it is just sitting there trying to update.
It takes a few minutes before you leave home so make it common practice and save yourself a lot of time and frustration!
DJI Inconsistent Firmware Found Message
If you get this then don’t panic just slide the slider across to update I find this usually happens when you update your drone but do not check your spare batteries. Many people don’t realise that it is not just the drone itself and controller that have firmware updates but also batteries and is so easily overlooked.
Always keep your eye on what is being updated when performing these firmware updates to see if there is anything for the batteries and if there are then you will need to power off the drone swap out the batteries and carry out the update for each one. Once complete this should fix the Inconsistent Firmware Message but power everything off and check to make sure.
Never fly your drone requiring firmware updates or ignoring Inconsistent Firmware messages, if you do then you are asking for trouble they are there for a reason!
You hear many horror stories about drone failure following a serious malfunction but this is very rare, I won’t say it doesn’t happen but most of the time it is due to pilot error and if you follow the above simple steps you will seriously reduce the risk of a flight malfunction.
You can try flying your drone in a forced ATTI mode so you can practice controlling the drone under these conditions in a safe environment but extreme caution needs to be taken. Not all drones can be switched to ATTI mode so you will need to check if it is possible on your specific drone.
Happy flying and most of all follow the drone code, think and be sensible!
One of the most rewarding and challenging photographs to take is a night landscape illuminated by just a sky full or stars which for me personally is one of the most enjoyable although frustrating at times especially here in the UK due to the weather. If you are into nightcapes, photographing the night sky over a beautiful landscape then you would have heard of the “Rule 500 in Photography” also known as the “500 Rule” or even the “Rule 600” which works on the same principle.
If you read my blog posts regularly or have been out on a photoshoot with me you will know my personal thoughts and dislikes to defined rules in photography but this is a good starting point in helping you capture those beautiful night landscapes that will wow your audience and give you photographs to be proud of.
What is the 500 Rule in Photography?
Basically it is a method that astro-photographers use to determine the length of their exposure time to maintain points of light given off by the stars to minimise blurring and star trails caused by the rotation of the earth.
The rule is very simple for full-frame equivalent cameras where you divide 500 by the focal length to give you the maximum exposure time in seconds to use. For example the maximum exposure time for a 24mm lens based on the 500 rule would be 21 seconds (500/24=20.8s).
You can still calculate the maximum exposure time for APS-C crop sensor camera following the same principles but need to take into account the crop factor of the camera 500/(crop factor * focal length).
For example Nikon DX cameras have a crop factor of 1.5 therefore if using the same 24mm lens on one of these cameras the maximum exposure time would be 14 seconds 500/(1.5*24)=13.9s.
It very important to point out that this method is just a very simple rule of thumb guide and will still produce blurring and trailing on larger prints where I use a value of 400 instead of 500. This will still produce star trails on large prints but I find it more manageable than using a value of 500.
Maximum time in seconds before stars begin to blur using the both rules
[table id=13 /]
For best results using the above values round down to the closest available camera shutter speed. The exact shutter speed can be used via an intervalometer.
Using a value of 400 will give 20% less blurring than what you can expect from using the 500 rule and where I always start from when setting my shutter speed exposing for the night sky. If you are shooting multiple images to stitch them together later as a panorama then I find using a value of 500 adequte due to the final image being so much larger than a single image taken with the same focal length lens.
To illustrate the difference between the rule values here are 2 RAW files of the same image taken at both 30 seconds and 25 seconds zoomed in, although the difference is slight you can see that 25 secs is better with the stars less blurred and smaller trails.
The trick to getting the best exposure for the night sky is a balancing act between shutter speed and ISO knowing your camera limitations and how far you can push the ISO while still maintaining a workable final image. Knowing the noise suppression ability of your camera and the ISO cut off point which you feel comfortable with will quickly narrow your choices and which value is best to use.
Even though the noise suppression in my camera is very good I very rarely go above an ISO of 3200 unless in extreme circumstances. My starting point is always with a ISO value of 2500 and using 400 to calculate my shutter speed I can very quickly get close to my optimum settings. I then review the histogram and make any minor tweaks required for my desired exposure.
Your photo editing technique will also be a factor here on what amount of noise you feel comfortable with removing. You can read about the noise reduction techniques I use and what I feel are best here How to reduce noise in Photoshop
There is one final factor that can play a part in the decision of what rule value to use and that is maximum print size you will be printing at. If your final print is only going to be 16″ x 24″ then you will hardly see any difference between the two but it will become more apparent as you increase the print size. I personally never want to limit my print size due to notable star trailing and always try to use the shortest exposure time I can get away with and why I always use 400 not 500 but it is something worth bearing in mind.
Use the 500 Rule as a guide, get out, experiment and capture some awesome images
Think of the 500 Rule in photography as a rule of thumb guide to roughly give you a required exposure time and then tweak as necessary depending on conditions, equipment and what level of Noise and Star movement you can live with. Like everything in photography the best way to nail those killer shots is to get out and practice where you will very quickly hone in on the best settings for you and your camera setup.
While reading through my favourite photography magazine looking at all the latest cameras and gadgets on the market that I could spend a small fortune on I wondered what are the most expensive cameras?
Camera Technology these days moves so fast it’s hard to keep up and while reading about the latest cameras I decided for a little fun to do some research and find which is the most expensive camera on the market today. To my surprise I found that the Phase One XF IQ4 150MP currently takes the top spot as the most expensive camera in the world today and will set you back a whopping £49,299.
What make this camera so special and how does its price and specification compare to other cameras on the market? I compiled a list in order of the most expensive so let’s find out.
The most expensive cameras on the market in 2020
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1. Phase One XF IQ4 150MP £49,299.99
Taking the number one spot on the most expensive cameras to buy today is the IQ4 Infinity Platform medium format camera by Phase One. This camera utilises the highest full frame medium format sensor available with a whopping 151 Megapixels and uses Sensor Backside Illuminated (BSI) sensors with efficient pixel design resulting in uninterrupted capture of light within each pixel. I would love to get my hands on this camera and take it for a road test, I can dream but Phase One if your reading this then feel free to send me a camera to do an in-depth review (Big Grin!).
Maximum Resolution: 14,204 x 10,652 pixels
Sensor: 53.4 x 40.1mm CMOS
Shutterspeed: 1/4000 sec – 60mins
Dimensions: 152 x 135 x 160mm (with prism finder and without lens)
2. Hasselblad H6D-400c MS 100 MP £43,500.00
In the number two spot is this latest offering from Hasselblad which is a Medium Format Camera and can output 400MP images. Yes you read that right a mind blowing 400MP image can be produced by way of its 100MP sensor and utilising the latest sensor-shift technology. An absolute beast of a camera as you would expect from its price tag and another I would love to get my hands on to carry out some testing of my own.
Maximum Resolution: 11,600 x 8,700 pixels
Sensor: 53.4 x 40mm CMOS
Dimensions: 153 x 131 x 122 mm (Excluding Protrusions)
3. Phase One XF IQ4 100MP £37,100.99
At number 3 we have another Phase One camera which is the brother to the camera occupying the number one spot and is still built around the XF IQ4 platform. This camera has a smaller resolution to its big brother but still packs a huge punch with 101 Megapixel resolution. One key factor to point out on this version is that it has no Sensor Backside Illuminated (BSI) sensors unlike the IQ4 150MP.
Maximum Resolution: 11608 x 8708 pixels
Sensor: 53.4 x 40mm CMOS
Shutterspeed: 1/4000 sec – 60mins
ISOsensitivity: 50 – 12800
Weight: 2196g (including Batteries)
Dimensions: 152 x 135 x 160 mm
4. Hasselblad H6D-100c £31,100.00
Maximum Resolution: 11,600 x 8700 pixels
Sensor: 53.4 x 40mm CMOS
Shutterspeed: 1/2000 to 60 Minutes
ISOsensitivity: 64 to 12800
Weight: 1633g (including Batteries)
Dimensions: 153 x 131 x 122 mm (Excluding Protrusions)
5. Mamiya Leaf Credo 80MP Digital Back Kit £22,100.00
Maximum Resolution: 10,320 x 7752 pixels
Sensor: 53.7 x 40.3 mm CCD
Shutterspeed: 1/10000 Second to 120 Seconds
ISOsensitivity: 35 to 800
Weight: 562 g
Dimensions: 98 x 80 x 61.5 mm
6. Leica S3 £16,500.00
Maximum Resolution: 64 Megapixel
Sensor: 30 x 45 mm CMOS
Shutterspeed: Mechanical Shutter 1/4000 to 120 Second
ISOsensitivity: 100 to 50000
Weight: 1260 g (Body Only)
Dimensions: 160 x 80 x 120 mm
7. Hasselblad H6D-50c £13,999.00
Maximum Resolution: 8272 x 6200 (50 Megapixel)
Sensor: 44 x 33 mm CMOS
Shutterspeed: 1/2000 to 60 Minutes
ISOsensitivity: 100 to 6400
Weight: 1633 g (Body with Battery and Memory)
Dimensions: 153 x 131 x 122 mm (Excluding Protrusions)
8. Fujifilm GFX 100 £9,999.00
Maximum Resolution: 102 Megapixels
Sensor: 43.8mm x 32.9mm CMOS
Shutterspeed: 1/16000 – 3600 seconds
ISOsensitivity Native: 100 – 12,800
ISOsensitivity Extended: 50 – 102,400
Weight: 1,400 g (Body with Battery)
Dimensions: 156 x 164 x 103 mm
9. Leica M10 Monochrom Digital Rangefinder £7,250.00
Maximum Resolution: 7864 x 5200 (40.89 Megapixel)
Sensor: 36 x 24 mm CMOS
Shutterspeed: Mechanical Shutter 1/4000 to 8 Seconds, 1/4000 to 960 Seconds in Aperture Priority Mode, 0 to 16 Minutes in Bulb Mode
ISOsensitivity: 160 to 100000
Weight: 660 g (Body with Battery)
Dimensions: 139 x 80 x 38.5 mm
10. Hasselblad 907X Special Edition £6,989.00
Maximum Resolution: 8272 x 6200 (50 Megapixel)
Sensor: 43.8 x 32.9 mm CMOS
Shutterspeed: Mechanical 1/2000 to 4080 Sec, Electronic 1/10000 to 4080 Sec
ISOsensitivity: 100 to 25600
Weight: 865 g (Body with Battery and Memory)
Dimensions: 102 x 93 x 84 mm
11. Canon EOS-1D X Mark III £6,499.00
Maximum Resolution: 5472 x 3648 (Actual 21.4 Megapixel)
Sensor: 36 x 24 mm CMOS
Shutterspeed: 1/8000 to 30 Seconds
ISOsensitivity: 100-102400 (expands to 50-819200)
Weight: 1440 g
Dimensions: 158 x 168 x 83 mm
12. Nikon D6 £6,299.00
Maximum Resolution: 5568 x 3712 (Actual 21.33 Megapixel)
Sensor: 35.9 x 23.9 mm CMOS
Shutterspeed: 1/8000 to 900 Seconds
ISOsensitivity: 100 to 102400 (Extended: 50 to 3280000)
Weight: 1270 g (Body Only)
Dimensions: 160 x 163 x 92 mm
So if you have deep pockets and want to spend your hard earned money on a very expensive camera you have a list to choose from of the most expensive cameras available to buy on the market right now.
There are not many editing techniques I use frequently when I process my images and instead I prefer to follow a simple workflow of making basic corrections to White Balance, contrast and colour. However one of the very simple techniques I do use regularly and what I recommend you to try out and learn is How to create Orton Effect in Photoshop.
The Orton effect is a fantastic way of adding an etherial glow effect in photoshop and with many different ways to create it I find this method the best. It is very fast and simple to implement with the final result customisable so it can be easily tailored to give the look you want to your photographs.
What is the Orton Effect
The Orton Effect is one of the most popular editing techniques used in Landscape photography today and was developed by Micheal Orton in the 1980’s. The original technique was born out of his efforts to imitate watercolour colour paintings by laying two or three transparencies over each other of the same composition. The first being in focus and over exposed with the others being colour components which are out of focus and over exposed.
This technique has developed over the years with the introduction of digital photography and sophisticated software editing packages such as Photoshop which has lead to many different ways in creating the look but something anyone can create quickly in a non-destructive way creating that etherial dream like glow to an image.
When to use the Orton Effect
Artistic licence these days gives you the ability manipulate images to create work that realises your vision and depending on the style and look you are after the Orton Effect maybe a technique you find yourself using time and again.
Although there is nothing wrong with creating strong etherial dream like images I prefer to keep it subtle within my own photographs where I work on the premise that if you can tell that a technique has been applied then for me it is too strong. I like my images to be natural and as close to the original scene as possible and use a technique only if required to accentuate parts of an image to convey a message to the viewer.
Todays cameras and lenses are so good that sharpness and contrast becomes an issue because I don’t see a scene as well as a camera does, maybe its due to my eyes deteriorating with age but sometimes I look at my raw images and they just look so unnatural and distracting. This is especially the case in my Forest and Woodland work where a scene is naturally chaotic and key elements that I wanted to capture can easily get lost in a sea of distractions.
So you could say I like to use the Orton Effect as a subtle highlighter brushing over the areas of a scene I want to identify and dampening down the elements I don’t want to catch a viewers immediate attention. This works extremely well in forest scenes simplifying a scene removing that crunchy chaotic feeling and why I use it sparingly most of the time on these types of images.
How to create Orton Effect in Photoshop
1. Duplicate your original image layer and rename Orton Effect to keep your process flow nice a tidy. Then from the main menu goto Image/Apply Image.. and select Bending Mode ‘Screen‘
Leave Layer as Merged, Chanel RGB, Opacity 100%, Preserve Transparency and Mask unchecked.
2. Duplicate Orton Effect Layer then with the new layer selected from the main menu select Filter/Blur/Gaussian Blur..
Select desired Radius value in pixels you require. I always use the megapixel size of the camera I was using to capture the image, therefore if you used a 24 Megapixel Camera then select a value around 24. This does not have to be exact but a good rule of thumb I find.
3. Select both of the Orton Effect Layers and merge them together.
4. Select the merged layer and change blending mode to soft light.
5. Adjust Opacity to vary the amount of Orton Effect to apply and create the overall look you are after.
The final amount will vary to taste but I personally never exceed 25% as I like it look realistic and not obvious that the Orton Effect has been applied.
You can see how easy and quick this method is to create the Orton Effect in Photoshop in just 5 simple steps but like I said earlier there are a number of different methods you can use. This technique is great for creating mood and giving your images that etherial glow and soften the overall look of your final edited photograph. If you would like to know any of the other methods then let me know but I find this simple method creates the desired subtle look I want and find it the best method overall for my workflow.
Recently I was asked a question which when I originally read it I thought was a very simple question to answer. Only after writing a lengthy reply I suddenly realised that actually I don’t know what I was being asked. The question was:
Portrait vs Landscape. Which do I prefer and why?
It turned out that I had totally the wrong end of the ‘camera’ and was answering in response to genres when I was actually being asked in relation to composition and picture orientation. Yes, I felt like a complete plum but it got me thinking about the various ways it can be interpreted for each meaning so decided to look at each in detail at answer the question.
Portrait vs Landscape – Humans vs Nature
To sound like a politician I will start off answering a question with a question. What makes a photograph Portrait or Landscape Photography?
Portrait photography or portraiture by its definition is the art of capturing a person or a group of people, capturing their personality, the essence of their identity and attitude artistically. It is a whole lot more than just pointing the camera at someone and clicking the shutter which I would term as a headshot.
Landscape Photography on the other hand in my opinion is very difficult to define as it means different things to different people. If I had to try and put it into words and define it I would say its capturing the spirit and emotion of the great outdoors through photography.
That is pretty much how I see it but obviously there are many spin offs as you can imaging for such a general statement such as Seascapes and Coastal, Forrest and Woodland and Nightscapes to name just a few.
Then there’s the grey area in between such as a model within the landscape and I think this should be characterised by the subject intent. If the photograph is about the model and they are the key subject showing their personality and identity with the great outdoors for me its Portraiture. If the subject is the landscape with a model to add scale or used as an anchor in the image then I think it can be classed as Landscape.
So to answer the original question which do I prefer and why? Well I am useless with people and have the utmost respect for portrait photographers who can work with their subjects to enable them to show their character on camera and have the ability to capture it. I don’t have that issue with Landscapes they don’t move and I can certainly not position it and love pitting my wits against mother nature and enduring whatever she decides to throw at me.
So obviously I prefer to practice Landscape photography but in terms of art I can get just as much pleasure from looking at a stunning portrait as I can form a great landscape photograph and appreciate the artistic value of both.
Portrait vs Landscape – Camera modes
Most cameras will have portrait or landscape modes which can be selected by use of the mode selection dial on the camera body or selecting scene mode and then selecting portrait or landscape from the menu.
These program modes tell the camera to use pre-programmed settings along with aperture and shutter speed tailored for the type of scene you are shooting. Depending on camera model the predefined settings vary so for an entry level camera this might just change shutter speed and aperture but on most DSLRs these days it may also alter clarity, sharpening, contrast, brightness, saturation, and hue (coloration).
These settings other than shutter speed and aperture are often missed and not understood when you read information online about program modes and todays generation of DSLRs are very sophisticated crammed full of amazing wizardry to get the best from the camera. I highly recommend learning to understand your own specific camera by simply reading the manual and understand what settings are being changed.
Portrait Mode selection tells the camera that you have a subject in the foreground of your frame relatively close to the camera. This will create a shallow depth of field to de-emphasise the background, maximise sharpness and produce flatter skin tones by using more of a neutral base.
If your camera has a built in flash and the scene is dark it will automatically add fill-in flash to try and lighten the subject unless you have it overridden.
Landscape Mode is used for distant scenes where it will selected a smaller aperture (High f/number) to increase the depth of field and may add extra sharpness and richen colours. If the camera metering sees a dark foreground it may try to use a fill-in flash but again this can be overridden if required.
There is one big thing that needs to be understood here and that is that these program modes do not affect RAW files in anyway but it does affect the way the photo looks on the back of your camera screen! Extra care needs to be taken if you use the histogram or have blinkers turned on for exposure because the program mode may add contrast and make whites appear completely white sooner than what they actually are.
This is why it is important to understand exactly what the different program modes do on your camera and the alterations it makes to its settings. The best way to see how they work is get out and practice and check your images in a photo editing suite.
To answer the question on which do I prefer, well none because I always shoot RAW and in manual mode. Don’t get me wrong these modes are a great way for quickly selecting different camera settings and a good starting point for someone picking up the camera for the first time.
If you are new to photography don’t get bogged down with all this jargon and settings just yet, grab your camera use the program modes and just shoot. You will learn much quicker doing this than faffing around with settings until you get a good feel for it. It is much better to capture adequate images in the beginning rather than blurred or totally under or over exposed images that are out focus where you will quickly get frustrated.
If your camera can shoot both RAW and Jpg I recommend to do this straight away and then later when you have a better understanding of editing you can go back over your original RAW files. Once you get comfortable with RAW files and can recreate the look of the JPG files you can switch to just RAW.
Portrait vs Landscape – Image Orientation
Deciding to frame a Photograph in portrait or a landscape orientation obviously has a huge influence on how your final image will look. Most photographers are comfortable shooting portrait due to the way our eyes naturally are use to seeing the world.
Humans have horizontal binocular vision which is made up of approximately 120 degrees of binocular field of view with two uniocular fields of approximately 40 degrees either side. Binocular vision meaning having two eyes and able to perceive a single three-dimensional image of its surroundings.
This leads us to have natural eye movement with the brains desire to scan an image from side to side with a slight reluctance to scan up and down and why it can be difficult for photographers to frame scenes in portrait mode at first and can feel unnatural.
Reasons for choosing between the orientation of an image can be broken down into two main reasons in photography, the intended use of the photograph and based on composition.
What will the photograph be used for?
The intended use of the photograph will have a big influence on the orientation a photographer frames the image. Printed media companies mostly favour portrait oriented photographs due to the normal format of books and magazines. This is not always the case though as a publication might want a double page spread which suites a landscape image. They may also require space within the image to put large text or advertisements so offsetting a subject in an image creating space is much easier in a landscape orientation than portrait.
Social media is also a key factor, try using a portrait photograph on Facebook, Instagram or even displaying it on your own webpage it can be difficult to make them look right and extremely difficult to show off images to their full potential. Pinterest on the other hand loves portrait images where a portrait orientation is much better suited to their platform.
This is why most professional photographers make the effort to shoot both Portrait and Landscape images so they can keep their options open and cover all their bases.
Image orientation based on composition
We all know that composition is a very important aspect of photography to aid the viewer to identify key elements within a scene creating balance, harmony and photographs that are pleasing on the eye. Making the correct choice in frame orientation is a an essential ingredient to composing and creating compositions that work and one of the simple tools we all have at our disposal.
Your brain is very good at quickly identifying the distinction between width and height which allows the eye to quickly settle in an image knowing whether it is horizontal or vertical and giving intended direction of eye travel through the image.
I don’t shoot square format very often for this very reason unless there is a very predominant key element within the scene as I find its hard for the eyes to settle knowing where to start and finish giving it direction through the scene. Don’t get me wrong they have their place used on the correct subjects but I much prefer to have clear direction in my images.
If you have a subject that is moving such as a person running you may want to leave space to provide awareness of movement where the mind can imagine the person moving into the space which again gives your image direction. If a person is moving in a horizontal direction it would make sense to frame horizontal however if they are moving away or towards you then a Vertical frame would be better suited as your eyes would naturally know the direction of travel.
The scene does not need to have a moving subject but orientation as previously mentioned is a key way to give your eyes direction through the scene. Take this image here I took of a lighthouse, my intention was for the eye to travel from the bottom of the frame to eventual rest at the lighthouse. This keeps the eye moving through the image making it more interesting and perfectly suited to a vertical portrait frame.
An easy way to simplify a scene is to fill the frame with the subject and why Portraits best suite vertical subjects and likewise horizontal subjects in the Landscape orientations. This way the subject can fill the frame minimising distractions within the image unless there are other elements you want to capture.
Horizontal landscape frames are not well suited for vertical subjects such as tall buildings or trees but under the right circumstances work well by again creating eye movement through the image. This is why you typically see tall subjects offset from the centre of the frame such as a tree offset to the right of the frame with a golden sunset to the left. The image is balanced by having elements on both sides of the frame and creates movement for the eye to travel through the scene between both points of interest.
There are always times when you can just break away from the convention like I have here with this picture of a lone tree. It works well with it in the centre of the scene or to the left and right like I have chosen here as I wanted to emphasise the fog and isolation of the tree in relation to its surroundings.
So as you can see there are quite a few reasons that can influence your decision to shoot Portrait or Landscape and like anything try shooting both until you train your eyes and mind to be comfortable with both horizontal and vertical compositions.
Grab your camera and get out and shoot whenever you can, enjoy your photography!
In this digital age of photography it is easy for photographers to be driven by the demands of social media where we upload our images to our favourite social platforms and websites then archive them away where they become lost and forgotten barely seeing the light of day again. Creating Photography Portfolio Books from your best work is an excellent way to record and showcase your best photographs and something I do yearly.
Creating portfolio books from your work will
Allow you to showcase your work in style
Help promote your work to potential galleries
Increase revenue by wining new customers
Record you best images with any formal notes
Let you review your own work more often with ease
Create a sense of achievement
Give you inspiration and new ideas
Create a new product for sale to your customers
Present your work in a beautiful format
Allow family and friends to critique your work
There are many positives to creating photography portfolio books and they can be relatively cheap to produce depending on the style and format you want. I personally create yearly volumes where I use them as a way of documenting my complete life’s work making it easy for me to review my own images and improve my photography.
Why not create a book for different genres to showcase your work such as landscapes, seascapes, woodland or astrophotography or if you focus on areas create geographical portfolio books. We photographers spend thousands on the latest gear, travel, software and books so why not invest a little back into your own work to showcase it?
Portfolio book types
There are many styles and formats of books to choose from dependant on the manufacture but excluding the esthetic look you can break them down into a couple of types.
Binder Style Portfolios
This style of portfolio book uses a binder mechanism usually either a ring or screw post style which is ideal if you print your own work and allows your to swap and change the content at will. Dependent on your target audience if it is going to get a lot of handling you can also use protective wallets for each photograph but I find this can look a little amateurish.
Using this type of book you have control over how and in what order your work is being seen and how you present it which can be tailor to each perspective customer to tell a unique story.
Bound portfolio photo books
My preferred type is to create portfolio photo books which give a very professional look where you can edit the layout and design to create a stunning book to showcasing your work. These types of books can be relatively inexpensive these days with most companies offering their own software where you just upload your images, edit each page and layout and once complete just process your order.
You can chose from many different sizes, cover types, paper types to change the feel and look of your book to create something visually stunning. Not only is this good for yourself but you could also offer this as a product for sale to generate new customers and revenue for your business.
Box portfolio photo books
You may want to present photographs mounted and prefer to have your images handled where they can be laid out flat on a surface to be viewed rather than in a book. If this is your preference then Photography Portfolio Boxes will be the way to go.
I use these to sell a collection of images as box sets which makes a fantastic gift and looks beautifully stunning. This way the customer can keep them in the box or get the collection mounted and displayed however they choose.
Create a Portfolio its worth the effort!
Creating portfolios really is worth the effort and investment in your own work not only just to win over new clientele but also a fantastic investment in your own photography development. One of the best things we can do as photographers to improve and grow is to review and critique our own work and study it closely.
Sitting in front of a computer screen trawling through images can get tedious and why most photographers don’t do it enough and neglect their own hard work. There is nothing better than just grabbing your portfolio off the shelf, putting your feet up, relaxed with a nice beer and review your own accomplishments.
It really is a great way to keep you focused when you are down and feel that nothing is going right or you can’t get out with the camera and will improve your photography by asking questions of your own work.
I hope this has given you some food for thought and I highly recommend getting your beautiful images presented by way of Photography Portfolio Books to woo customers, friends and showcase your photographic art the way it deserves.
Photography Portfolio Book Suppliers
There are many companies out there who produce stunning portfolio products and photo books where the price can vary hugely depending on the quality and feel you want for your portfolio.
My advice is don’t go for the cheapest but find the right fit for your photography that compliments your style. These are some of the companies that I have used and produce professional top quality products.