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20 Easy Photography Tricks That Will Make You a Picture Taking Master

20 Easy Photography Tricks That Will Make You a Picture Taking Master

According to Ansel Adams,”a good photograph is knowing where to stand.” Turns out, it’s a bit more complex than that, but you don’t have to be an expert photographer to take meaningful photographs. Capturing moments with your camera has never been easier with the ever improving smart phone capabilities, apps, free photography sites and e-books. Whether you are striving for more impressive Instagram-worthy shots on your smart phone, or you are a DSLR photographer in the making, these tricks will help lead you down the road of picture taking mastery.

1. Use the Aperture Priority mode to get those professional looking portrait shots with the out of focus background
Portrait

    Using the “A” or Aperture priority on your camera’s mode dial gives you control of depth of field. Aperture settings are measured in “F-stops.” One thing to note is the wider apertures actually have lower numbers, while the more narrow apertures have higher numbers. For example, a F2 has a wider aperture than an F22. A wider aperture decreases the depth of field in your shot making the background more blurred out, but keeping you subject in focus.

    2. Mix artificial and natural light for ideal city night shots
    Cityscape

      Time the taking of your images so that the light levels from each source (artificial and natural) is the same, which will produce an evenly exposed shot. Take a spot meter reading from both the sky and an area of the shot that’s well artificially lit. When the sky is still slightly brighter, start shooting using the spot metered setting for the artificially lit part of the scene. Continue to take pictures using the exposures. You should have a few shots that are perfectly exposed during the ten minute window where the scene will be perfectly lit.

      3. Use Apps, such as Camera Awesome and Camera+, to enhance your smart phone pictures

      Screenshot 2014-12-03 12.17.41

        Photography apps on smart phones have come a long way. While smart phones don’t offer the professional capabilities of DSLR camera, you can still use these apps to help adjust and enhance your photos to take them to a new level.

        Two favorites are Camera Awesome (iphone and Android) and Camera + (iphone). Camera Awesome has an easy-to-set timer and burst feature. It also allows you to set ISO, white balance and exposure separately.

        4. Use burst mode to capture a fleeting range of expressions, motion and improve the odds of a good group shot  

        groupportrait

          In burst mode, several photos are captured in quick succession. This feature is available on most digital cameras, DSLRs and through app features on your smart phone. You shoot in this continuous high speed by holding down the shutter button on your camera.

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          5. Be in two places at once with an easy panoramic trick  

          3406985580_c7dfd81a92

            With the help from a friend and a little jogging, you can pose in the frame multiple times. Open your phone’s camera app and select the panoramic mode. Have your friend start on the far left of the frame and slowly pan to the right. As soon as you are out of the frame run around behind your friend and pose again somewhere to the right. Play around with it to see how many times you can squeeze into the frame.

            6. Speaking of panoramic shots, change the direction and angle 

            shutterstock_101360515 (2)

              These aren’t complicated, but they might be something you haven’t realized yet. Change the panning direction by simply tapping the arrow and it will switch direction. Take vertical panoramic photos by rotating your smart phone so that you are holding it in landscape orientation. Instead of panning horizontally, pan vertically from low to high, or high to low.

              7. Perfect “Jumpology” photos using burst mode and faster shutter speeds

              jump3

                Get low to take the photograph so the jumpers appear higher! If you have your subjects try to create shapes with their bodies instead of jumping straight up and down, it will give more of a floating effect. To ensure sure you capture the perfect moment, use the burst mode on your camera and a faster shutter speed to freeze the movement.  

                                                                                                                                                                                                               

                8. Find the best spots for stunning sunrise and sunset photos using The Photographer’s Ephemeris (TPE) app to map out the position of the sun

                 

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                tdedkQnQGCgIhk9eoEkP_DSC_0983

                  It’s a map-centric sun and moon calculator, allowing you to see how the light will fall on the land, day or night, for any location on Earth. It’s especially helpful in planning for early-morning shoots, when it’s harder to pinpoint exactly where the sun will rise.

                  9. Don’t look through the viewfinder to capture more candid street shots 
                  stree photo

                    Go a bit under the radar and see where it takes you when you don’t look through the viewfinder. Select your camera’s Program mode and set the drive mode to silent if your camera has this feature. Pre-focus the lens manually about five or six feet.

                    Place the camera on your strap at a longer length over your shoulder and press the shutter release in short bursts as you stroll around an interesting people watching street.

                    Make sure to review your shots every now and then to make any small adjustments to focal length and the position of the camera.

                    10. Use Inexpensive Macro Filters to Get Close-Up Magnification

                    IMG_1622__

                      If you can’t afford a dedicated macro lens, you can get a similar effect for a fraction of the cost with macro filters. When using a macro filter however, you will want to keep your aperture small – such as f11 to f18 – to get a good depth of field (so more light is required).

                      11. Take backlight photos at golden hour for desirable portraits with a warm glow

                      medium_9898022514 (1)

                         The golden hour in photography is the first and last hour of sunlight of the day, where you get the desired soft light for halo like portraits. And if you really want to be precise, there is an app for that. The Golden Hour App shows you the path of the sun in the sky for the location and date selected.

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                        12. Capture Both Sides of the Moment with the Frontback App 

                          The app (on Google Play and in iTunes) uses the front and back of your camera to capture what you see and how you feel at any moment. Some have described it as having your face being the emotion, or caption, for what you are seeing and experiencing. If about to bungee jump off a bridge your #frontback image might show the view of the drop and perhaps your anxious selfie before the jump. Once you’ve taken a photo, you can share it in a single image to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the app’s news feed.

                          13. Turn a Turkey Pan into a DIY Beauty Dish for Under a Dollar
                          large_2251529011

                            Beauty Dish is used by portrait photographers to get a flattering lighting effect on their subject. The intensity of light on the subject compared to the surrounding, and the silver color reflected off of the aluminum add to the effect. Cut a hole in the center of the turkey pan, add some aluminum in front, assemble as shown with the flash/bulb inserted.

                            13. Use a Drop of Water to Create Your Own Macro Lens on Your Smart Phone

                              Another Macro Lens trick is to use a straw to drop a small droplet of water on your smart phone lens to magnify your image immensly. A small drop won’t run off when you pick up your phone to take a picture.

                              14. Use a plastic bag on your lens to get a haze and blur effect
                              medium_5651449243

                                Crumple a plastic bag, wrap it at the front of your camera lens and fix it with a rubber band. Tear it at the center using your hand which will create stretch marks and create a fading transition effect from blurred to sharp region. You can double up on bags to achieve an even greater blurred effect.

                                15. Overexpose your photo in low light situations.

                                Essar Steel

                                  Use your camera’s exposure compensation capability to dial the exposure compensation to the positive side in order to purposefully overexpose your photo. The scale on most DSLR’s allow from -3 to +3 stops in 1/3 stop increments.

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                                  16. Perfect the simple silhouette by taking an exposure reading from the sky

                                    Put your subject in front of a light source (often the sun) and turn off your flash. Set your camera to spot metering and point the camera towards a brighter part of the sky (but not the sun). You can take an exposure reading by pressing your shutter button half way down.

                                    17. Use Bulb mode for stunning moonlight photos
                                    medium_8834083832 (1)

                                      Using one of the standard modes the longest exposure possible is 30 seconds, so you’ll need to use Bulb (B) mode instead which will allow exposure of any length. You do this with a remote shutter release.  Press and hold/lock the remote to keep the shutter open for the desired time. This will help you with your night sky photography.

                                      18. Lower the shutter speed and pan to create motion
                                      medium_4453552460

                                        To capture your subject in motion, choose a shutter speed that is around two steps lower than needed. Keep your camera on your subject, with your finger half way down on the shutter to lock to lock the focus. Take the photo and pan the camera with them as they move.

                                        19. Choose Aperture Priority and a deep depth of field to get dramatic architecture pictures at night

                                        medium_6515330849

                                          For these shots, a tripod and cable release would be ideal, but not a necessity. Set your camera to Aperture Priority and choose a small aperture for deep depth of field so the building is sharp. You can also play with your shutter speed to allow for more light to come through.

                                          20.Slow down your camera’s shutter speed and with a neutral density (ND) filter for dreamy landscape shots.
                                          medium_8123071604

                                            You can have more control over your image when using a ND filter. You can take photos where the faster moving water looks calm and silky, or moving clouds look like surreal streaks in the sky. The filter allows you to better regulate the amount of light and slow down your shutter speed to get the same exposure you would have gotten without the filter.

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                                            20 Easy Photography Tricks That Will Make You a Picture Taking Master

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                                            Last Updated on July 29, 2020

                                            19 Best Mac Apps for Productivity You Need in 2020

                                            19 Best Mac Apps for Productivity You Need in 2020

                                            Whether you use your Mac for work or just for your personal projects, you’ve likely found yourself wondering how to improve your productivity. There are only so many hours in a day, and so much mental stamina you can muster before you run out.

                                            There are dozens of tricks you can use to improve your own productivity and outlook, but if you’re looking for a more objective, comprehensive fix, the best thing to do is equip your Mac with productivity apps designed to help you do more in less time.

                                            This Lifehack-exclusive list has some of the best productivity apps to help you feel less tired, improve your energy, and ultimately help you get more done every day:

                                            1. Todoist

                                              Available for all iOS devices, Todoist is a note-taking and organization app that can keep you on top of all your projects—both personal and professional.

                                              Its best features are all free to use, including browser extensions, task creation, and interactive boards you can use to organize all your notes.

                                              If you want to pay the optional $29 yearly fee, you can get even more advanced features like backups and automatic reminders. Even with the free version, you’ll stay far more organized.

                                              Download: Todoist

                                              2. 1Password

                                                You may not realize it, but you probably spend a ton of time recalling your passwords, especially if and when you forget one to an app you use on a regular basis.

                                                1Password is an app for Mac that saves and remembers all your passwords for you in one place, so you can access all your favorite sites with a single click.

                                                You’ll save time and keep all your accounts secure simultaneously. A personal plan is $2.99 per month.

                                                Download: 1Password

                                                3. Bear

                                                  Bear is a unique kind of note-taking app designed to make it easier for Mac users to jot down notes on the go. With it, you can create to-do lists, give yourself reminders, and outline concepts for future brainstorming sessions.

                                                  It comes with many different inline styles so you can customize your notes to your personal preferences, and remember the context in which you wrote them. The core version is free, with a $14.99 per year version available as well.

                                                  Download: Bear

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                                                  4. Hazel

                                                    Hazel by noodlesoft is an automated organization tool designed for Mac that will help you automatically organize your files based on any custom rules you want to create.

                                                    For example, you can set it to move untouched items from one folder into another folder labeled “action items” if they haven’t been addressed within a week. It can save you hours of organization over the course of a few weeks. A single license is a flat $32.

                                                    Download: noodlesoft

                                                    5. Alfred

                                                      Alfred is an all-in-one app designed to save you time with Mac shortcuts and convenient custom actions. You can use it in a variety of ways.

                                                      For example, you can access Alfred’s clipboard memory so you don’t copy and paste the same material over and over, or set up custom workflows to automate some of your most repetitive tasks.

                                                      It’s a paid app, with multiple price points based on the features you desire.

                                                      Download: Alfred

                                                      6. TextExpander

                                                        TextExpander does exactly what the name suggests; it allows you to type a short snippet of text, and expand that text automatically.

                                                        For example, you can create a custom expansion that allows you to conjure a full paragraph you type repeatedly by simply typing a unique abbreviation. Once you get used to your custom combinations, you’ll spare your fingers from typing thousands of words.

                                                        An individual account is $3.33 per month.

                                                        Download: TextExpander

                                                        7. Backblaze

                                                          If you’ve ever experienced a crash, or theft of your Mac, you know how much time a system restore can cost you. You’ll spend hours replacing the files you lost, and lose thousands of files that are irreplaceable.

                                                          Backblaze is an automated, inexpensive way to back up your entire Mac for just $5 a month.

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                                                          Download: Backblaze

                                                          8. Keyboard Maestro

                                                            Keyboard Maestro is an older app that still has the power to make your life easier. With it, you can automate any number of tasks based on a certain trigger (such as a hotkey combination, or an event like connecting to a wireless network). A single license only costs $36.

                                                            Download: Keyboard Maestro

                                                            9. Snagit

                                                              There are many applications for a good screen-capture app, whether you’re trying to illustrate a tech problem you have or just want to make an interesting meme. Snagit makes it easy, with built-in editing for both still images and video. A single license covers two machines, and costs $49.95.

                                                              Download: TechSmith/Snagit

                                                              10. Bartender

                                                                Bartender is the cleverly-named app that helps you clean up and organize all your menu bar icons. You can also access them quickly with keyboard shortcuts.

                                                                If you’re like most Mac users, those icons get cluttered quickly and stop you from working efficiently. It’s free to try for 4 weeks, after which you’ll need a $15 license.

                                                                Download: Bartender

                                                                11. Otter

                                                                Otter is the Mac app for the note taker who hates typing. It’s an intelligent voice-recognition system and note-taking app that will help you transcribe your conversations, keep notes during meetings, and even take contextual notes to yourself in your own time.

                                                                Best of all, it’s free to get started!

                                                                Download: Otter

                                                                12. Flux

                                                                  Do you often find yourself feeling tired throughout the day, or feeling unable to get to sleep after a day of staring at your computer? That could be because of the unnatural blue light that radiates from your Mac.

                                                                  Flux naturally adapts your display to emit light that matches the time of day, so you can sleep better and feel less tired. It’s also free!

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                                                                  Download: Flux

                                                                  13. PDFpen

                                                                  If you deal with PDFs on a regular basis, you probably find yourself wishing for some kind of tool that can let you mark up those PDFs however you want. Without a dedicated app like PDFpen, this can be difficult.

                                                                  PDFpen lets you edit PDFs in almost any conceivable way, giving you more power and saving you time. A single license is $74.95.

                                                                  Download: Smile Software/PDFpen

                                                                  14. OmniFocus

                                                                    OmniFocus is all about task management. It has a clean interface that allows you to tag your tasks, schedule events, and even automate certain features.

                                                                    It’s one of the most comprehensive solutions on the market, so there’s a bit of a learning curve to get the most out of it.

                                                                    A standard license is $39.99, while the pro version is $79.99.

                                                                    Download: OmniFocus

                                                                    15. Franz

                                                                      It’s tiring to switch between dozens of different chat programs like Facebook Messenger, Slack, and WhatsApp, whenever you want to have a conversation with a different contact.

                                                                      Franz’s solution is simple; offer access to all these apps in one convenient package. And best of all, it’s completely open source.

                                                                      Download: Franz

                                                                      16. MindNode

                                                                        If you’re the brainstorming type, you need an app like MindNode to help you efficiently organize your thoughts. There are dozens of tools you can use to connect ideas in a mind map, or simply jot down notes for future reference.

                                                                        The core app is free, with in-app purchases available.

                                                                        Download: MindNode

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                                                                        17. Focus

                                                                          The internet is a wonderful thing, but it can be awfully distracting. And if you’re like the majority of us, you’ve interrupted work on a project because of some attention-grabbing site or bad online habit. That’s where Focus comes in.

                                                                          This app allows you to block the worst offenders with custom time limits and other constraints, so you can focus on the task at hand. A single license is $19.99.

                                                                          Download: Focus

                                                                          18. CleanMyMac

                                                                            Chances are, your Mac isn’t working as fast as it could, thanks to gigabytes of clutter and unnecessary files on your system. CleanMyMac helps you scan your Mac, monitor its health, and ultimately clean it up—so you can handle all your tasks that extra bit faster. A single license is $39.95.

                                                                            Download: CleanMyMac

                                                                            19. Grammarly

                                                                              A spelling error or grammatical mistake can cost you big time. It could be the source of a worse grade on a big paper, or compromise your credibility in the workplace. Thankfully, Grammarly can help you.

                                                                              This Mac-integrated writing assistant monitors all your writing and makes live corrections, so you’re alerted to your potential mistakes before they become permanent.

                                                                              A free version exists, but the premium version will cost you between $11 and $30 a month, depending on how you pay.

                                                                              Download: Grammarly

                                                                              The Bottom Line

                                                                              These productivity apps should help you squeeze more productive hours out of every day, but they aren’t the only tools you’ll have to help you find success.

                                                                              Make the time to learn about and experiment with all the life hacks that can make you more productive. By improving your devices as well as your outlook and focus, you’ll be able to get far more done in a day, and feel better doing it.

                                                                              More to Boost Productivity

                                                                              Featured photo credit: Patrick Ward via unsplash.com

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