Phowd Blog

Essentials of Good Street Photography

Street photography has been defined by different photographers in their own distinct ways, often reflecting their unique viewpoints and somewhat revealing the inspiration behind their work. Instead of going into that list of definitions we shall be delving into the world of street photography itself. In the process we shall strive to become better at capturing stunning images from the streets.

It is a bizarre and a serene world coexisting at the same time. Streets I mean. Somehow, on one hand, street photography manages to capture that seemingly endless flow of humanity, capturing its pulse and the progress of humanity over decades and documenting it for future generations. On the other hand it also captures the emotions that revolves around us, the upheavals, the destructions, the grief and the momentous joy that punctuates our lives. Look at street photographs from different decades of the past century and you would immediately be transported back into time, experiencing what people of that particular time in history had experienced, sharing their emotions. Street photography is a very powerful genre of photography. In some form street photography is an offshoot of journalistic photography. It records the actual, un-fabricated truth and leaves the part of judgment to the viewer. Read more...
Image Stabilization: Why It Matters, Types and How to Use

In the overall history of camera technology image stabilization is a rather recent development. Image stabilized lenses did not appear up until 1995 when Canon introduced the EF 75-300mm f/4 – 5.6 IS - the first image stabilized lens. IS or Image Stabilization is the acronym that Canon uses to refer to this technology. The technology was actually first seen on a previous lens, also made by Canon, the EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM. This lens however did not reach the market up until 1999 which made the 75-300mm the first commercially produced image stabilized lens the world has seen.

Nikon calls this technology VR or Vibration Reduction. Other manufacturers use different other acronyms to label this technology. However, at the end of the day, they all mean the exact same thing. Though, in this case it is fair to say that all technologies are not the same. In fact all lenses are not optically stabilized either. There are some manufacturers who prefer to stabilize the sensor inside the camera rather than the lens! This happened because when image stabilization was developed digital sensors were not around and it would have meant either moving the physical film or the sensor. Canon and Nikon devised it was much easier to move the focusing elements inside the lens than moving the actual film.

Okay. Now we need to have a deeper understanding of how image stabilization works and why most professional and serious enthusiasts prefer to pay more for image stabilized lenses. Read more...
5 Tips to Choose an External Flash

Congratulations on buying your first DSLR! Now you are well and truly on the road to photographic nirvana! Your DSLR is a very powerful tool for making images. With it you can control the amount of light reaching the sensor, thus, allowing you to balance an exposure, pursue creative ways to express yourself through your images and in essence capturing more than just light inside the small box. For all practical reasons a DSLR is the only camera you will ever need.

But there are more to good compositions than just the camera. A good composition involves not only a good subject matter or a moment but also good light and of course clever use of all the elements to put together an image. Literally, you don’t take an image, you make it.

Good light is unfortunately something which is not within the control of a photographer. However, if you are really good with a camera and have an astute sense of lighting, you will be able to make better use of the available light than most. But even the most experienced photographer, at times, require additional lighting tools to fine tune a composition. In this article we shall be looking at one such tool - speedlight or an external flash.

Tips for Shooting Fireworks Photos

Every Independence Day, or even Memorial or Labor Day, it’s common — a given, even — to see fireworks light up the night sky. They make for wonderful sights and sounds for large gatherings, but fireworks also make great photographs. Its just about knowing how to capture such colorful images.

Shooting fireworks is fairly simple, but it takes some planning and equipment to do so. However, follow these tips and you too can have wonderful photos of those sky rockets.

Everything You Wanted To Know About Neutral Density Filters

Neutral density filters are primarily used for balancing exposures. By balancing exposure, I mean adjusting the amount of light that enters the lens so that the scene appears uniformly lit across the frame and every inch of it is exposed properly. A properly balanced image will show a histogram that is clustered more towards the middle of the graph. Too much on the right and you have an over-exposed image and too much on the left means you have under-exposed.

Technically speaking, an under-exposed image is better than an over-exposed one, because you would still be able to salvage some details from an under-exposed image. You would need to shoot in RAW for that. However, getting the exposure correct in-camera is the best option by far.

The reason these filters are called as neutral is because they stop light across the spectrum equally, without any bias. Consider them as shades for your camera lens.

Auto Exposure Bracketing: Everything You Wanted to Know

Multiple camera shots with different expose combined in HDR photo by sumitrodda

If you are just starting out in digital photography, you have probably never heard about auto exposure bracketing (AEB). If you are an enthusiast photographer, probably you have heard about this but never quite mastered the concept to use it with confidence. Regardless of your expertise in digital photography this article can help you master an extremely important feature of your DSLR, i.e.; auto exposure bracketing (AEB).

5 Useful Tips for Making Great Images in Low Light

Cameras like the Canon 5D Mark III and the Nikon D3X have completely changed the playing field when it comes to low light photography. In the earlier days photographers would have no way to change the ASA (ISO as it was called in those days) once they had loaded a film in their cameras. They were pretty much stuck with the film sensitivity until they changed it. That had a limiting effect on their creativity and it ensured that they were careful about their selection of film before heading out.

These days, digital photographers have a much easier time. They could change the ISO (light sensitivity of the sensor) just with the flick of a button. Cameras like the D800 comes with the added advantage of a greater dynamic range, allowing photographers to compose and make images that are closer to what they see with their naked eyes.

Yet, there are certain time-tested and useful tips that you need to know in order to nail good exposures in low light conditions. These are, in no way, alternatives to the ability of your camera to shoot in low light. Rather, these are complimentary to a high ISO capability.

4 Methods to Get White Balance of Your Images Correct

Image before white balance correction

Are you plagued with the problem of strange color casts in your images? Many a times after taking a picture with our little Point & Shoot cameras the results fail to impress us. Having taken a picture, say under a dominating source of fluorescent light or for that matter a tungsten light bulb, the images appear to have a strong color cast. To be a little more precise a tungsten light source will have a yellow color cast and a fluorescent light will have a bluish color cast. Why does this happen? This happens because every light source has a color temperature and that is what is captured by the digital sensor when the image is made.

Nothing that Photoshop Can’t Handle

Photoshop is an amazing tool. For some it is the only post processing tool that they would ever need. From color correction, to changing skin tones, removing blemishes, increasing sharpness and removing stuffs from the picture that you didn’t want in the first place, Photoshop has a wide range of applications for both photographers and photo editors. But these are just some of the clichéd uses of this amazing software. Beyond that Photoshop has much wider applications, some of which may even be on the borderline of what is called as ‘illegal’ in terms of photographic authenticity.