Sunday, 25 May 2014

Black-backed Jackal

I am pleased to report that my image of a black-backed jackal has been used in a new book, A Field Guide to the Larger Mammals of Tanzania (Princeton Field Guides)

The book has been produced by the  Wildlife Conservation Society and all the author royalties will go to the Society. It is now available to buy on Amazon and it provides:-
  • The definitive, most up-to-date field guide to the larger mammals of Tanzania, including marine mammals
  • Features detailed species accounts and numerous color photos throughout
  • Provides tips on where to see each species
  • Includes species checklists for every national park

If you dont want to buy the book just to see my image, here it is:
Black-backed Jackal

Friday, 23 May 2014

Travels Around England

Have spent a little time over the past week out and about in England, at Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire, Brill in Buckinghamshire and Wentworth in South Yorkshire.

Here is a small selection of my favourite images.
Buy wallart of Egyptian Goose
Egyptian Goose
Fine Art America                                  Photo4Me
Buy wallart of Cygnets
Fine Art America                                  Photo4Me
The photos above, were taken on the River Thames at Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire.
Buy wallart of windmill
Brill Windmill
Fine Art America                                  Photo4Me
The present windmill on Brill Common in Buckinghamshire, was probably erected sometime in the 1680s. Although not quite the oldest windmill in England, it is one of the best preserved of the dozen or so 17th century 'post-mills' still standing. A post-mill is a mill in which the whole structure revolves around a central post in order to face the wind.
Buy wallart of Purple Allium
Purple Allium
Fine Art America                                  Photo4Me
Purple Allium, commonly known as ornamental onions seen at Wentworth Castle and Gardens Near Barnsley, South Yorkshire, England.
Buy wallart of Red and White Roses
Red and White Tulips
Fine Art America                                  Photo4Me
Bed of tulips at Wentworth Castle gardens, near Barnsley, South Yorkshire, England.
Buy wallart of Spring Lamb
Spring Lamb
Fine Art America                                  Photo4Me
Spring lamb at Wentworth Castle parkland, Near Barnsley, South Yorkshire.England.
Buy wallart of Woodland Pond
Woodland Pond
Fine Art America                                  Photo4Me
A woodland pond at Wentworth Castle parkland, Near Barnsley, South Yorkshire.England.

As usual, my work is available to purchase as original  Wall Art, in a variety of formats including stretched canvas, metal or acrylic prints, framed prints, or simply as standard prints for you to mount in your favourite picture frame. Simply click on the links below each image - Fine Art America for international buyers or Photo4Me if you are from the UK.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Food Photography Made Easy

It isn’t fair, but the truth is that the better the picture, the easier it is for food to get noticed. There isn’t smellovision or tasteagram, so the only way to judge food online is through what you see. This means that a premium is placed on great food photography.

If you have an interest on food photography, you can get this FREE course delivered right to your inbox, simply by signing up hereThis is the perfect way to begin to explore the world of food photography!

However if you are seriously interested in photographing food, take a look at  the photographing FOOD PDF series. Each issue is 35-40 full color pages that give you a behind the scenes look at what it takes to consistently create beautiful images of your food!

Photographing FOOD is a food photography education resource designed for Journalists, Bloggers, Food Purveyors, Amateur and Professional photographers who are eager to improve their food photography!

Photographing FOOD is a system designed to give you the skills necessary to consistently create mouthwatering pictures of food that look as good as the food tastes.

This isn’t like your traditional book series. To keep you from feeling overwhelmed, each issue is centered around one photography topic and how it specifically relates to food photography.

You are given a behind-the-scenes look from start to finish, ending with a final shot with all the exposure information.

Any level of photographer will be able to understand and quickly apply the techniques discussed.

You don’t have to have the most expensive gear. Most of the issues are shot in a garage studio and give solutions at all price points.

Photographing FOOD is designed for reading on your phone or tablet! This means that you can download the issues and take them with you to read at your convenience and on your schedule!
So if you are serious about your food photography, just click on the banner below.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Photo Composition Tips - Visual Weight

Last week we published an article (Tips & Tricks For Using LINES To Create Better Photos!) from our friends Rob and Lauren over at Photography Concentrate

Today, let's talk about another important element of composition, that of visual weight which again is taken from their latest tutorial, Incredibly Important Composition Skills

Balance is Comfy
A balanced photo feels comfortable to look at. Your viewer can take in the entire image, and enjoy the experience, discovering all the little bits and pieces that made it into the frame. 

But an imbalanced image can feel awkward, like your eyes are being pulled too much towards one part of the frame. When that happens, your viewer can get stuck and miss out on all the great details of your image. 

So how do you make an image feel balanced? There are a few ways, and today we’ll talk about one of the most fascinating. 

It’s a concept called visual weight, and it’s going to completely change the way you look at things.

What On Earth is Visual Weight?

See, each element in your scene carries a certain amount of ‘visual weight’. Elements that are more eye-catching are considered to be heavier, while elements that are less eye-catching are lighter. Makes sense, right? 

Take a look at the photo below. Where do your eyes go first? Second? And then where do they go after that? The things that grab your attention first have the most visual weight. Those that don't really grab your attention have less visual weight.

Now the nifty part is that there are different factors that can influence how much visual weight an object has. And as a photographer you need to know what these factors are and how they work, so you can use them to your advantage. Let’s dig in!


I’m a big fan of color, so I find this one to be absolutely fascinating. See, different colors carry different amounts of visual weight. Colors that differ from the other colors around them tend to stand out, like a bright hue in an otherwise muted scene, or a light colored object among dark ones. 

But it goes even further. While there’s still a bit of debate out there, it’s generally agreed that red is the heaviest colour, and yellow the lightest. Everything else being equal, a bit of red in your scene is going to grab a lot of attention! 

In this scene there are lots of bright colors – the blue sky, the green grass and the yellow flowers. But it's the red of the girl's shirt that catches your eye and has the most weight of all!

2. SIZE 

In general, large objects tend to have more visual weight than small objects. They take up more of the frame, so they can do a better job of catching our attention. 


Objects with unusual shapes, or shapes that stand out from those around them have more visual weight than familiar or common shapes. 

This also applies to sharp shapes versus blurry shapes. When something is in sharp focus, the edges of the shape are more defined and stand out more, giving the shape more visual weight. 

Think about how you view a scene where everything's in focus versus a scene where only a small amount of the scene is sharp. There's a big difference in where your attention is directed, right? This is why a shallow depth of field is a great way to eliminate distractions, and bring the attention to your subject!


When you see a simple shape, like a circle, it doesn’t take too long for you to understand what it is. But a complex shape, like a tree, has so many different elements. It’s a lot more likely to engage your attention, so it has more visual weight!


Areas of contrast – like light and dark side by side – are very eye catching. Objects that have more contrast in them have more visual weight. Simple! 

A Dalmatian is full of wonderful black and white contrast! That contrast gives the dog lots of visual weight, and helps him to catch your attention in a busy frame. 


Now, this is kind of a funny one. If something actually weighs more in real life, it’s generally going to have more visual weight in a photo. 

See, so much of the way we see things in a photo has to do with how we experience things in real life. It’s all connected!


Tight groupings of objects have more visual weight than single objects alone. This is similar to the previous concept of real weight. What would be heavier in the real world? A whole bunch of small rocks, or a single small rock?


Objects that are placed near the edges of the frame carry a lot of visual weight, and attract our eyes easily. And they tend to be even heavier if they’re actually touching the edge!

Also, objects placed along Rule of Thirds lines and intersections get an automatic boost of visual weight. Pretty handy, hey? 

(Psst, if the term 'Rule of Thirds' doesn't ring a bell, listen up! The Rule of Thirds is a compositional technique that uses imaginary lines to divide your frame into three equal sections, both horizontally and vertically. It suggests that, by placing key elements along the lines, or the points where the lines intersect, you'll create a more interesting, pleasing composition. Cool!) 


And finally, negative space (empty, non-distracting space) carries considerable visual weight. It's a super useful tool to balance out your composition!

The negative space of the sky and building both have visual weight, and help to balance out the bright, complex shape of the bell tower.

How To Use Visual Weight For Better Compositions

Ok, so now that you know the different factors that influence an element's visual weight, let's figure out how to use that to bring balance to the photos!

Think of the center of your frame as a balancing point. You can arrange the elements in your frame around this point in such a way that they balance. And to get them to balance you need to match up visual weights. 

For example, if you place a large object on the right side of your frame, the right side now contains a lot of visual weight. How can you balance it?

Use what you know about visual weight! Try adding a pop of bright color, a uniquely shaped object, or a big patch of negative space on the left hand side. 

Shooting Tips!

Now don't worry if you're feeling a bit overwhelmed by all this stuff. It takes practice to start using visual weight to create better photos! Here are some simple tips to get going and create stronger compositions:

#1. Pay Attention
The most important thing is simply to become aware of visual weight while you're shooting. As you're composing your shot, take a moment to consider how the different elements in the frame are attracting your attention. Where do your eyes go first? Second?

#2. Emphasize Your Subject
One of the best ways to take advantage of visual weight is to help draw your viewers' attention to your subject. So when you're taking your shot, think about how you can give your subject a lot of visual weight. 

A couple easy ways to do this are to increase the size of your subject, or change where they are placed in the frame (remember, edges and Rule of Thirds lines give them more visual weight).

But don't stop there. Get creative with all the other factors that influence visual weight, and you'll start to create some really striking photos!

#3. Remove Distractions
Bringing attention to your subject is important, but you'll also want to get rid of distractions that pull your eyes away from the subject. These can make your photo uncomfortable to look at. 

As you're scanning your scene, check to see if there's anything that has a lot of visual weight that's competing for attention with your subject. If there is, and you don't want your viewer to latch onto it, you'll need to find ways to minimize or eliminate it. Sometimes you can move the element, or change it. And sometimes you'll just need to frame it out of the shot.

#4. Check the Edges
This takes the last point a bit further. You need to pay careful attention to the edges of your frame. Remember that elements at the edges, and especially those that touch the edge, have a lot of visual weight. That means that anything at the edges of your photo has the potential to be super duper distracting, and totally ruin your shot. 

The big black edge is mega-distracting, and ruins the photo.

Before you press that shutter, take a quick look at your edges and make sure they're distraction-free!

Once you know about visual weight, you start to see things differently. Try it out! Take a few minutes to check out some of your favourite photos, and think about the visual weight of the different elements. Then pick up that camera, get out there, and use what you've learned to create some fantastic photos!

Want S'More?

This little discussion of visual weight comes from our latest tutorial, Incredibly Important Composition Skills. It’s a 225-page eBook that is packed with information that will get you seeing the world in a new way, and improving your photos too! It contains over 300 example photos and illustrations to help you see these essential concepts in action, and learn fast.

In the tutorial you'll learn the two other ways to achieve balance, along with 6 more compositional techniques you can use to create captivating images. You'll also discover all of the compositional elements, learn how to fix common composition mistakes, and a ton more!

Head here to learn more about Incredibly Important Composition Skills. Then pick up your copy and prepare to transform your photos and the way you see the world! 

Monday, 5 May 2014

Exposure Blending: The Complete Guide From Camera to Process

This a free to download e-book written by Christopher O'Donnell, a leading landscape photographer from Maine, New England.  In this step-by-step guide, Christopher discusses the entire process of exposure blending by detailing his personal workflow – from auto-bracketing in the field, to combining different exposures in process. It can help you take your own landscape photography to the next level.

As you’ve probably noticed, it can be difficult to capture a balanced exposure in the field (especially landscapes with a sky). Your camera sensor is limited to one aperture and one shutter speed at a time – it’s not possible to have two different settings within the same frame, which can be detrimental to a scene with a large tonal range. This will result in a landscape with a washed out sky, a darkened foreground, or disappointing combination of both. Exposure blending is a revolutionary digital dark room technique that will help you to overcome the limitations of your camera and photograph a landscape with the full tonal range that you see in the field.

Simply put, in order to have a well-exposed landscape you’ll need one image exposed for the brightest tones in your photo (typically the sky) and another for the darkest tones (the ground, usually) when the lighting isn’t suitable to capture it all in one exposure – think of sunsets and how differently the natural light level is when you compare the sky to the ground. Once you have your two extremes, you blend them together to make one perfectly exposed landscape.

Exposure blending uses the same principles of HDR photography in the sense that we’re expanding the tonal range, but exposure blending creates a more natural-looking image since you’re not relying on the automation of software. Instead, you have much more control over the end result by manually choosing exactly where you want to blend your exposures together. It’s a method that is entirely customizable to your scene, which will produce a more pleasing result.

Table of Contents
To get your own free copy of this book, simply click here and then subscribe to Christophers email list ( you can always unsubscribe anytime you want to).

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Tips & Tricks For Using LINES To Create Better Photos!

This article comes from our friends Rob and Lauren from over at Photography Concentrate.

Today, let's talk about one of the most fundamental compositional elements of all: LINES!

A quick refresher before we start: Compositional elements are the bits and pieces of visual information that make up your scene. They can influence things like mood, meaning, and the order in which parts of the scene are viewed.

What Counts As A Line?
Lines are all around you. Take a second now to look for some. (Yes, really. Give it a shot!) There are a lot, aren't there? Obvious ones may include the lines of your computer screen, or the lines of windows and doors.

But there are also a ton of lines that you may not have ever thought of as lines. Subtle lines. Imagined lines. See, this is a broad category, incorporating lines with a wide range of characteristics. A few that we’ll cover today are angle, path, continuity and physicality. 

Why Lines Are So Darn Important...
At their most basic level, lines direct our eyes around a scene. We latch onto them, and follow them to whatever is at the end of their path. 

Think about that for a second. Do you see how powerful that is? In photography, where the goal is to get your viewer to focus on particular things in your scene (and sometimes in a particular order), lines can be mega useful.

But not all lines are the same. Different types of lines have different powers. 

So let’s go a little deeper now, and see how you can harness the power of lines to create amazing images!

The 9 Types of Lines You Need To Know:


Horizontal lines extend across the horizontal plane of your image, and lead your eyes across a scene. They also draw attention to the width of the image, or an element within the image. They can add a sense of solidity to your photo. 

One of the most common horizontal lines is the horizon. Next time you’re out shooting, try including the horizon and see how it affects where you look, and the mood or feel of the image. Then recompose your shot to exclude the horizon. How does that change things?
In this frame, the horizontal lines made by the horizon and the clouds help to emphasize how wide the scene is. 

Vertical lines extend across the vertical plane of the photo, and lead your eyes up and down the frame. They draw attention to the height of the image, or something within the image (think of trees, buildings, and people). Like horizontal lines, they can add a sense of stability to the photo. 


These are lines that do not run parallel to either the horizontal or vertical edges of the frame. They lead your eyes along a diagonal path. And here’s where things get fun...

Diagonal lines can create a greater feeling of movement or dynamism relative to horizontal and vertical lines. They really add some excitement to a photo! 

They can also create a sense of depth, and draw your viewer into the image. They're a handy tool for engaging your audience in your photos!


These are like super duper diagonal lines. Converging lines are sets of diagonal lines that move towards a single point in the frame. 

What’s so special about these guys is that they can create a very exaggerated sense of depth. They make your viewer feel like they could walk into your photo!

Converging lines are really effective at directing your eye towards the point where the lines converge. Want your viewers to look at something in particular? Put it where lines converge, and BAM! You have composition superpowers. 
The lines of the fence and the path converge towards the building, providing a strong sense of depth. You can tell that the building is far away from you, and almost feel like you could walk towards it.

Curved and wavy lines follow rounded and bumpy paths, respectively. They lead your eyes along that path, and create a feeling of movement. 

Compared to horizontal, vertical or diagonal lines, these guys lend a softer or gentler feel to the scene.


These are sets of lines that remain equidistant from one another in the frame. What’s particularly interesting about parallel lines is that they suggest that the space between the lines is distinct from the space outside. 

For example, they make it seem like subjects placed between the parallel lines are more ‘together’ than subjects placed on either side of parallel lines.

How could you use this to strengthen the message of your photos? (Hint: It could be particularly useful for family and wedding photography!)


These are lines that seem to start and stop between their endpoints due to the placement of another object. Interrupted lines do a great job of drawing attention to whatever does the interrupting. Very handy when you're trying to direct your viewer's gaze to a particular thing!
The strong horizontal lines of the wall are interrupted by the flower pot, which grabs our attention. It's like your eyes are saying "Who dares interrupt this line??".

These are lines that reach all the way to the edge of your frame. They help to divide the space in your photo into distinct sections, which brings order to the image. And our brains sure do like order!

They also suggest that space continues beyond the edge of the frame. This can add a sense of tension, as your viewer knows that action is going on outside of the photo, but they can't see it. Ooh, mysterious!


With all this talk of lines, it’s important to note that lines can be created in many different ways. Implied lines are lines that don’t physically exist, but rather that are implied by other objects. For example, the direction a person is looking or pointing can create an implied line.

Implied lines take on the qualities of the lines they most resemble (horizontal, diagonal, etc.).
The rows of chairs, and the path in between them, create implied diagonal lines, giving the scene a sense of depth. The path and chairs also extend to the edges of the frame, giving us a clue that the scene continues beyond the frame.
Shooting Tips For Using Lines In Your Photos

Now that you’re up to speed on the different types of lines out there, it’s time to incorporate them into your photos!

#1. The first step is to start recognizing lines when you’re out shooting. Take a moment now, and look around again. Do you see more lines than the first time? I hope so! Diagonal, converging, wavy, interrupted, implied...there are so many types of lines!

#2. Next, consider how you can use different types of lines to your advantage. Are there lines that will help draw attention to your subject? How about ones that can strengthen your message? Do you want to add a sense of solidity? Bring in horizontals or verticals. Or maybe you want a sense of movement. Grab a diagonal or curved line!

#3. Now, when it comes to lines, you need to be very thoughtful about where you place those feet of yours! Where you stand will have a big impact on how your lines affect your composition.

For example, if you want to use a horizontal or vertical line, you need to square up to that line. Because if you’re not square, that line won’t look straight in your photo. Instead, it will be slightly angled, and that will change what type of line it is and how it influences the look and feel of your shot. One step to the side can change everything!
Notice how the horizontal lines of the buildings become diagonal lines when the shooting angle is changed, and we're no longer squared up!
Don’t be afraid to move around though. A horizontal line that doesn’t quite work for the feel of your frame can become a dynamic diagonal just by changing your shooting angle. 

Now get out there and start getting creative with lines!

Want More?

I put together today's exciting lesson on lines using our latest tutorial, Incredibly Important Composition Skills. It’s a 225-page eBook that is packed with information that will get you seeing the world in a new way, and improving your photos too! It contains over 300 example photos and illustrations to help you see these essential concepts in action, and learn fast.

Line is just one small part of composition – in the tutorial we'll go into further detail on lines, and also discuss other elements like light, colour, form, pattern, depth, texture and much much much more!

Head here to learn more about Incredibly Important Composition Skills. Then pick up your copy and prepare to transform your photos and the way you see the world!