Archive for the ‘Tutorials’ Category

Photography 101: Know Your Camera Part One

Thursday, March 12th, 2009

In this post I would like to show you around the Canon 450D and explain in brief (if possible) what each button does. Why I have chosen this camera is simple. First I have it so I know the camera like the manual was written on the back of my hand. Secondly the configuration of the 450D is quite similar to other brands so they might look different yet they share a common ground.

So lets get started.


Photography 101: Picking Your Camera

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

It is quite important to have the good idea of what kind of equipment you would want when starting out in photography. But there is no solid rule as to which camera you should buy because in the end a great picture is nothing to do with the quality as such. But rather the subject and effect.

For example a grainy black and white image of a building might make the image look old and used this can be achieved with the cheapest of cameras.

Their are many types of cameras these days so first I will list them and then brake them down afterwards:

Camera Phone
Point and Shoot
Bridge Camera
SLR – Single-lens Reflex
DSLR – Digital Single-lens Reflex


Photoshop: Finding the rule of thirds every time.

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

This is a short action tutorial for drawing guides in Photoshop that display a rule of thirds grid no matter what the resolution of the picture.

It can be really useful when cropping in Photoshop saving you the hassle of opening the image in something like Lightroom just to crop.

- Open Photoshop (CS2 ,3 and 4)

- Make a new image 800×600 pixels (you could just open an existing photo)

- Press ‘Ctrl+R’ to display your rulers.

- Right click on the ruler and select ‘percent’

- Go to your actions tab and create a new action – Call it ‘Rule of Thirds’ and assign a hot key.

- Go to the menu ‘View\Delete guides’ (this removes any existing guides)

- Now you action is recording select the menu ‘View\New Guides’

- Leave it selected as ‘Vertical’ and type in ‘33%’ then click ‘Ok’

- Create another new guide ‘Vertical’ at ‘66%’

- Create two more ‘Horizontal’ guides (one at 33% and one at 66%)

- Stop the action from recording.

- Right click on the ruler and select pixels (or your preferred measurement)

That is it! Every time you use your hot key or just run the action it will clear the existing lines and create new ones. Because you made the lines in percent, when you crop or resize it will always redraw the correct rule of thirds grid

Alternative Photography – Photosynthesis?

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

Hey there campers.

While doing a little bit of stumbling on the net I came accross this little gem written by Rosemary Horn at

She manages to expose a photo directly onto a leaf. I have to admit this idea is uber geek and AWESOME!

You guys really need to check this out. –>Click Here<–

I for one can’t wait for winder to fade and spring to come into affect. This for sure is something I will try

How I Compile A Time Lapse!

Friday, January 16th, 2009

I got several questions after my recent post about making a time lapse video, about which software I use compile the images into a finished video.

I have several steps I personally us, they might not be the most efficient but since I have some of the software already I don’t have to buy extra software. (I have not been able to find any decent all in one package)


  • Image Ready CS
  • VirtualDub

Step One

Download your images from the camera to a local drive. I found that sinceĀ  these images are typically nothing to do with my normal work flow and I tend to manually move them instead of using lightroom or canons own management tool.

Step Two

Image Ready – Open Image Ready and select the menu File>Import>Folder as Frames

Step Three

When the one image is loaded you can resize it to a more reasonable resolution 800×600 for example (you can do this before hand by using Photoshop actions which is much quicker but explaining actions is for another post)

Step Four

In Image Ready select File>Save Optimized File As and then save the file as a “.gif”

Step Five

Open the .gif file in VirtualDub

Step Six

Select the menu Video>Compression and then select your preferred compression method. (note: I normally leave it uncompressed for later use but if you select Divx it will give you a frame rate error)

Step Seven

Select the menu File>Save as AVI and name your video

Step Eight

With your finished AVI you can bring it into any video editing software to add music and to add additional movies etc.

Canon 450D Time Lapse Demo

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

***EDIT*** See how I made this time lapse video here ***END EDIT***

A while ago I attempted to make a time lapse video using the S5700 (sorry there is no post for that) but I hit quite a few road blocks in terms of the cameras speed and performance. In the end I had to abandon the experiment as it seemed impossible to get the effect I wanted.

But things have changed and I have a Canon 450D now which is a very powerful DSLR.

The basic idea of time lapse is this, you take a series of images of a scene thats moving and put them together to make an animation or video. You can do this by using the continuous shooting mode which when you hold your shutter release button it will not stop taking photos until you let go.

You will find it better to use a remote of some kind if you are using a Canon or Nikon. You can also get them with timers on them so you can take an image every 20 seconds or every 2 hours. In the Fuji S5700’s case there is no remote at all available for it so a trick I have learned is to get a rubber band and some paper and used the band over the shutter release button so it pushed the paper into the button.

Unfortunately to get a really good time lapse you need a fast camera that can take 3 or more frames in a second. If you imagine taking a time lapse of a street crossing. When a person starts to cross the road you would start shooting. But with a camera thats slow, by the time you have taken the second image the person will be either out of the frame or at least a great distance to where they started. This is not smooth and can cause an effect called “blip”. Where people or objects are only seen for a frame or two when in motion. This was the core issue with the Fuji S5700 as it takes 1.4 frames per second and if something was fast moving it would blip. In the other hand the Canon 450D can take 3.5 frames per second which is perfect.

The next thing to remember is too “drag your shutter”. This was at first a difficult concept for me to understand so I hope I can explain it.

To obtain a perfect exposure you must configure three settings in the camera: ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture. Your photo is a product of a balance of the 3 values. To drag your shutter you need to slow the shutter speed down and use the aperture and ISO to compensate for the large amount of light that would come through (assuming your taking a time lapse during the day). So if you where to take an image with a F3.5, Shutter of 1/250 and ISO 200 you would need to lower the shutter speed, close the aperture and lower the ISO. I would then use F22.8, 1/3 shutter and ISO 100.

The effect is that anything that moves into or across the frame will have a motion blur effect and when you make your final time lapse the motion will look smooth and effective.

One final thing before I show you the demo I made. Using the Canon 450D as an example – If you set the camera to the highest quality you will get about 10 shots before you have filled the buffer and then the camera will slow down the picture taking process. Lower the quality and you wont have that issue and the camera will continue to take images uninterpreted.

Canon 450D Time Lapse Test from The Laddie on Vimeo.

This was taken at f22.8, 1/3 sec. and ISO 100 – 64 frames

In my next post I will look into how I make this into a video. Photo Touch-Ups Mega List

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

I am a very big fan of and today Steven Snell did not disappoint!

He pulled together a list of 60 photoshop actions for photo touch-ups. Everything from Cross processing to color and skin corrections.

Even if your totally new to photoshop this is a very good place to start.

60 Photoshop Actions for Photo Touch-Ups and Enhancements

Build Your Own Beach Macro Set

Thursday, November 13th, 2008

The weathers bad, it’s pouring down outside, you’re not feeling too well anyway, so what do you do? Build your own indoor beach set!

I was still feeling the effects of a bout of ‘flu yesterday, but after watching Andreas Feiningers Video on Youtube, I fancied having a go at a similar macro type shot.

If you’d like to recreate the look too, you’ll need an old baking tray, some sand (or pebbles), something to brush the sand, a subject (in my case a piece of potpourri), a printed out back-drop (it’s a strange colour in my set because my printer was running out of ink) and a tripod:

Beach Macro

I used my camera in macro mode, with a large aperture (f3.5) to reduce the depth of field – I specifically wanted the background out of focus. I wasn’t worried about the white-balance because I knew I’d be converting to black and white.

In Photoshop Elements I stripped out the colour, played with the levels, then applied a Gaussian blur to the foreground and background, masking out the subject.

Next time I’ll try and get more texture into the sand, try a different background, and play around with light more.

Here’s my first go:

Feininger Test v1

Cheers, Rob.

An Hour With Joe McNally

Sunday, November 9th, 2008

Joe McNally, professional Photographer with National Geographic, Sports Illustrated, Life, and many more, recently gave a talk as part of the “Authors at Google Series”.

Joe talks about his career, what inspires him, and how he keeps his enthusiasm in an ever more competitive arena.

A versatile Photographer, shooting from the top of the Empire State Buildings Radio Antennae, the deserts of Africa, and using the worlds largest Polaroid Camera to record the heroes of 9/11, this is a man well worth listening to. Enjoy.

Check out Joe’s Blog, and his main website.

If you fancy watching more videos with photographers, check out these interviews.

Cheers, Rob.

Look Up, Look Down, Look All Around

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

As photographers we all have at least one thing in common. We tend to take photographs of what we would normally be looking at as we’re walking around, standing up and usually parallel to the ground.

My World

It can be fun to break out of this habit and look at things from a different angle, and this can often produce some unusual images. I’m talking about kneeling down, lying on the floor, pointing the camera up, down, at angles, etc, anything that we would normally not see on a photowalk.

Dress Code?

Of course to capture these types of photographs, you’ve constantly got to be scanning your environment – that’s where the “Look Up, Look Down… etc” bit comes in. As you’re walking along, try and constantly be searching for unusual angles, shapes and subjects.

Job Nearly Done...

When you find something that catches your eye, obviously use different focal lengths, change your physical distance from your subject. Maybe try shooting at from below, pointing up, or the opposite. Look for interesting vantage points that will give you an unusual perspective.

Up And Out

Don’t worry about getting to close – make your subject abstract.

Fresh Batch!

Turn the camera on it’s side to really confuse your viewers.


When you’ve finished, and are walking to the next location, look over your shoulder and see if you’ve missed an angle, or come back later (maybe when the light’s different) to get a fresh view.

Any subject can be shot an infinite number of ways, so just remember -

“Look up, look down, look all around!”

Cheers, Rob.