Showing posts with label photography tips. Show all posts
Showing posts with label photography tips. Show all posts

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Reviewing Crystal Photography Ball

For Christmas, I received a Crystal Photography Ball.  These balls have become quite popular with photographers and  I was anxious to get one and try it out.  The great thing about these balls is that they are a fun way to try different techniques with your photography no matter what type of camera you use.  When I got mine for Christmas my  nephew tried it out with his iPhone with wonderful results.  So whether you use a DSLR, a mirrorless camera, a point and shoot or even a camera phone try out a photography ball to add some new interest to your photos.

Taking Photos with a Crystal Photography Ball

I have found that it takes a bit of practice to get used to shooting with the photography ball, but with a bit of practice you can get some interesting shots.

Here are a few tips that may  help you.

  • Try using a wide angle lens and get close to the ball.
  • For landscapes you may want to try a zoom lens.
  • Be sure to focus on the image in the ball
  • Be careful not to use the ball too long in bright could get burned from the reflection.
  • Take care to keep your  ball free of fingerprints.  Bring a cleaning cloth with you.
  • There are lots of tutorials on You Tube.  Take a look at a few to get additional ideas.

Editing Photos

One of the first things you will notice when  you look at the photos you have taken is that the image in the ball is upside down.  There are several things you can do in editing to correct this.

  • The easiest solution is to simply flip the entire image as you can see I have done in this image.  This works particularly well when the background is blurry and you have lights in the background.  Here is one of my first photos with the photography ball.

  • Another solution would be to add a textured background to the photo.  I did that in the photo at the beginning of this post, where I added a fire background to the candle in the ball.
  • A third solution is to flip just the ball in Photoshop or a similar program.  I have not quite mastered that technique yet, but you can find lots of videos on YouTube to take you through that process.

Some of My Favorite Crystal Ball Images

Here are a few more images I have taken with my crystal ball. These are some that I took while on a trip to Jupiter, Florida.  I still have a lot to learn, but I love the challenge.

Purchasing a Photography Ball

A crystal photography ball can be rather inexpensive.  Here is one like the one I have with a clear stand and a pouch to keep it.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


Thursday, November 22, 2018

Photographing Plymouth Harbor

Happy Thanksgiving from the staff of Review This.  Today's post is a bit of history and photography from the site of the first Thanksgiving.

Plymouth Massachusetts is a delightful harbor town on the shores of Cape Cod Bay. It is located 40 miles south of Boston.  I'd like to share some of my photos of the harbor with you but first let's review a bit of the history of this historic town.  

History of Plymouth

The colony of Plymouth (first called Plimouth) was established in late 1620 when the Mayflower landed in this area on the shores of Cape Cod Bay.  These early settlers from England were called Pilgrims and had embarked on the new country to escape the religious beliefs of the Church of England.  

They landed in Cape Cod in December and were not prepared to handle the harsh New England winters.  Their first year was very rough and they survived with the help of friendly Indians.  After surviving the first year they had a celebration to thank God for protecting them during the first year.  This celebration is considered the First Thanksgiving Feast.

Photograph of Plymouth Harbor Today

As I walked along this historic harbor I was struck by all the little everyday features of this small town.  Yes, there are the tourist attractions like Plymouth Rock (really only a rock engraved with 1620) and other sites of interest throughout the town, but I wanted to concentrate my photography on the features of the harbor and the docks.

Here are a few of the photos the depict the harbor on the June afternoon when I visited.  It includes a replica paddleboat for tourists along with items that represent the lobster trade that is popular today.

Zazzle Products from  my Photos

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


Thursday, May 24, 2018

Challenge Yourself to Take Better Photographs

Fuchsia Plant

Review of Tips to Becoming a Better Photographer

In this article I will review tips I have passed on in the past and offer a new tip to challenge yourself to increase your skills. Whether you like taking photos for yourself and your friends or you want to take them professionally there are several things you can do to enhance your skills. Of course the first is practice, practice, practice. But besides using your camera regularly there are many things you can do to become a better photographer.  Here are a few of my favorites.

Take a class on photography or attend a photography seminar.   

 No matter how many times I take classes or seminars, I always come away with something useful.  I try to take at least one class or seminar each year.   There are many different places to find classes or seminars.  Just type "Local Photography classes" into your search engine and you will find lots of choices.  If you are short for time you might try some of the online classes that are listed, but I always try to take one in person at least every other year.  I think sharing with other people you meet at the seminars and classes is a great part of the learning experience.   

Study the work of Photographers you Admire.

A great way to become a better photographer is to study the photos that you enjoy.  There are photographs all around us.  Look in books, check out photos of your friends or look at the many sources online.  I'm sure you've looked before, but have you looked at the photographs critically.  Take the time to examine  a photograph.
  • What makes it appealing to you?
  • Is the lighting good for the subject?
  • What can you learn from the photo?
  • What would you do differently?
Here is a photo I took of a bird in my backyard.  Take your time and examine this photo and answer the four questions above.
Baltimore  Oriole on Hummingbird Feeder
Now try the same four questions on this pot of flowers.
Backyard Flowers

Take a 52 week Photography Challenge.

This year I am taking a photography challenge.  The particular challenge I am taking is on Facebook in a group called 2 Lil Owls Photography Project.  You can find lots of similar challenges online or you and some friends could start your own.  Here is how the challenge works.  We have a list of words, one for each week in the year.  The challenge is to create a photograph using the word.  How you interpret the word is entirely up to you.  This challenge  has you getting out your camera each week and finding creative ways to use the weeks word.  Here are a few of the words we've had this year and some of my photos.


In a Distance


A few of the other words for the challenge include: large, small, scattered, up close, looking out, red, flowers, fill the frame and daily habit.  Of course there are many  more but this gives you an idea of how it works.


Stop by my Zazzle stores to see my photos on products.Zazzle/mbgphoto

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Reviewing Tips on Backyard Perch for Bird Photography

Goldfinch on Perch
Backyard bird photography can be a relaxing and rewarding hobby.  There are many books to give you ideas on getting the most of backyard bird photography and they contain tips on everything from feeders, to lighting, to setting up an ideal setting for the birds. 

Backyard Bird Books


Setting up a Natural Looking Perch

On this page I would like to concentrate on one aspect of backyard bird photography, setting up a natural looking perch.  I have been photographing birds for a few years now, but I always felt I was fighting the background and surrounding features in my backyard. I would photograph birds on the feeders and sitting on the shepherds hooks but just never quite got that photo I was trying to get. When our photography club announced that our speaker would be talking on backyard bird photography I was really excited to be going and getting some tips.  

When the speaker first started he showed us lots of photographs he had taken of birds on natural looking perches.  I thought they looked great and figured he had to be out in parks or the woods to capture the birds sitting on those perches.  Then he told us his secret.  He creates his own perches in his back yard and trains the birds to come and sit there.  He does this by watching the birds habits when feeding and then setting up a natural perch nearby.  In his example he showed a feeding box he had made that he sat on the ground and then mounted a branch, using an old tripod,  to hang just above the feeding area.

I liked his idea, but I have a small backyard and wanted to keep my backyard attractive and yet still use the natural perch idea.  The next day I was wondering around my backyard thinking about the lecture and I came across a big tree limb that had fallen in the storm the night before.  I took the limb and buried it in an old flower pot and then moved it near the bird feeders.
Perch Limb
I set up the perch and now I had to wait for some birds to come.  I had my camera set up on a tripod just inside our patio doors and I would sit and watch all the birds but they never landed on the perch when I was watching.  

Moving Perch for Birds Convenience

I next decided to move the perch between my finch feeder and my songbird feeder to give a better landing place for birds waiting to get their turn at the feeders.  In just a few minutes I captured a photo of the first bird landing on the perch.  Since then I have captured many birds sitting on the perch.  I have added some green plants to the container to make it more attractive and I am quite pleased with my first attempt at setting up a perch.

Photos of Birds Landing on Perch

Here are some of the photos I have taken in the last week.  I have my camera set up just inside our glass patio doors and the photos are taken through the glass.  I have the camera on a tripod and I have a remote shutter that I have close by when I am sitting at the table in front of the doors.  This way if a bird catches my eye I can grab the shutter and click away.  The camera is set at aperture priority with a f5.6 setting and is focused at the very top of the perch.  

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


Thursday, December 8, 2016

Photography Tips for the Holiday

Christmas at Missouri Botanical Garden

Everybody enjoys looking at photographs from the holiday season.  It is the time we gather with friends and families, decorate for the occasion and celebrate the birth of our Savior.  What a great time to document these wonderful memories with photos.  Here are a few tips to get you started.

  • Before the season is upon us check out your camera.  Make sure it is in good working order and that all your lenses are clean.
  • Make sure your batteries are charged and recharge them after each use.
  • You may want to consider purchasing an extra memory card to use for your holiday photos.
  • Make a list of things you want to photograph during this Christmas season.
  • Every year I try to photograph something different for the holiday.  This year I plan to go to my church after the decorations are up and take some photographs of the nave.  I'm thinking they may make a nice card for the following year. What can you try new this year?


Special Events

Special events are always a great time to take photos.  In the photo at the top of this article I photographed a tree at Missouri Botanical Gardens.  Since the photo was taken in the evening I used a tripod and a remote shutter release.  If you don't have those items available to use try to find somewhere to stabilize you camera.  A post, the top of your car, a bench and other stationary items will help you to avoid camera shake and capture some beautiful evening shots.

Try a Photo Walk

A photo walk through a decorated area is a great way to capture some street shots and decorations.  In the photos below I walked through historic Main Street in St. Charles, Missouri. This historic town on the banks of the Missouri river served as the first capitol of the state.

Below are a couple of the photos I shot.

Click Here for Zazzle products from these photos


Group  Photos

Group photos are a great way to preserve the memories of the people that attended the gatherings during the holidays.  Although candid shots can be fun, a planned group shot is a great way to include everyone.  Take the time to check the background in your photo.  You wouldn't want to end up with a candle sticking out of someones head.
Also make sure to check your lighting.  I prefer natural lighting, rather than flash, so in these photos I used a lens with a lowlight capability and a 1.8 aperture on the camera.  If I end up with a yellow tone, I can always adjust it in post processing with a slight slide of the tint or exposure slide.

For both the lighting and the background you may have to move your group to a better location in the room.  The first photo below is of my sister and her family.  Although the tree is in the background, I zoomed in on the people.  I see too many photos where someone has tried to get the whole tree in with the people.  That is usually not a good combination so my motto is decide what your focus is (the people or the tree) and set up your shot accordingly.

The second shot below is a group of high school friends of my husbands (he is in red sweater).  These guys have known each other for over 55 years and I wanted to capture them all in the photo.  They were somewhat patient with me as I moved them around to make sure everyone was seen in the photo.


Special Moments

Be sure to have your camera ready for those special moments.  Here is my husband with our oldest granddaughter, Rachel.  In these shots the background are not always perfect but I zoom in on the faces and capture the moment.



Kids and the Tree

Kids under the tree is always a good shot for Christmas.  Remember to take some shots before the presents are unwrapped.  In these photos you see our youngest granddaughters.


Zoom in on the Ornaments and Decoration

Along with the photos of family, friends and events, I like to take some artsy photos.  Christmas decorations and ornaments are always good subjects.  I like to use a little Bokeh ( a term that refers to keeping what is important in focus and blurring the rest).  In the first photo I was sitting on the sofa right in front of the candle in the foreground.  I set my aperture to 1.8 and zoomed in on the candle.  I was hand holding the camera so I steadied it on my knee.  I got the effect I wanted with the candle in focus and the fireplace blurred.   The second photo used the same principal but was taken of an ornament on the tree during the daytime.

Another fun Christmas shot is to take a photo and then edit out all of the color except the red.  I did that in the photo below of our Christmas tree and fireplace.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


Thursday, August 25, 2016

Reviewing Tips Learned on Photographing the Moon

 Photographing the Moon on a Cloudy Evening

On a partly cloudy summer's evening in August, I walked out into my front yard about 11:00 pm and was greeted with the beautiful sight seen above.  The full moon was peaking out above the clouds and was framed by my neighbors tree.  I went back into the house and grabbed my camera to shoot a few photos.  I wanted to get the moon, trees, and clouds into focus so I played around with several settings.  My first shots came out rather blurry and that leads me to tip #1

  • Use a Tripod when shooting at night
I know I should use a tripod more often but I always seem to first try without one.  Sometimes if you have something to steady the camera on you can get away with out a tripod, but I have found that the shots come out much clearer when you use a tripod.  In the photo above I used a tripod and shot the photo using the following settings Aperture-5.6, Speed 2.5 seconds, ISO 320, lens length 150mm.  I used an SLR camera, but I do believe the above shot could also be taken on a good point and shoot camera.
Moon August 21, 2016

Learning  from my Peers-a Moon full of Details

Although I was happy with the first photo, I really wanted to take a photo showing more of the details on the face of the moon.  I wasn't sure how to accomplish this, so I went online and did a bit of research.  I gained the knowledge that helped me the most from a Facebook photography group called Digital Photography School.  The people on the site were wonderful.  I posted my first photo and then told them what I wanted to accomplish with my photo.  Here are some tips they gave me that I then used the next evening when taking the detailed photo of the moon above.
  • In addition to a tripod use a remote shutter
  • Set the ISO to 100
  • Use a faster shutter speed (the slower speed tended to make the light from the moon blowout the photo)
  • Expect to take many photos to get one good one
  • It is nearly impossible to get both detail in the moon and foreground in the same shot. (I found there are ways to get around this but that is a bit more complex).
With these tips in mind the next evening I waited for the moon-rise and then got out my tripod, my shutter release and my new 150-600mm lens.  I set my camera with the following settings ISO 100, speed 1/125 sec, aperture 6.3, and lens length 600mm.  The moon was a bit less than a full moon on the next night, but I had also read that the waxing or waning moon can give you better details.  I was very pleased with my resulting photo that you see above.  You can even see some craters on the surface of the moon.

If I were to get foreground in the same photo I could possibly use Photoshop to combine two photos or there are some techniques using filters which I haven't tried yet.  Just leaves me with more to learn another day.

Fun in Lightroom- Adding a bit of drama to my photo

I like to have my photos look as close to real life as possible, but sometimes it is fun to add a little drama from a photo processing software like Lightroom.  In the photo above I slid over the slider for tint in Lightroom giving a blue cast to the photo.

Zazzle Products from my Photos

I enjoy taking my photographs and making them into cards, magnets, posters and other products on Zazzle.  These are available for sale.  The first product below was taken of the  Super Moon in March of 2011.

Super Moon over Ocean Card
Super Moon over Ocean Card by mbgphoto
Add your photos and text to blank greeting cards at Zazzle
The poster below shows the full moon peaking out from under the clouds and shining on the ocean in Jupiter Florida.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


Thursday, May 26, 2016

Reviewing Tips for Photographing Beautiful Sunsets

Sunset at August Busch Conservation Area

Most photographers agree that the minutes before and after sunset provide some of the best lighting for taking photographs. Although I have read and heard that theory many times, I often, either for convenience or desire, try to photograph at different times. When I compare my photos that I have taken over the years, I find that the best ones almost always were taken during the pre and post sunset time periods.
On this page, I will share with you some of the photos that I have taken and some of the techniques I use to capture these images.
all photos are by the authorT-mbgphoto

 Preparing for Your Photo Shoot

On a recent spring evening my friend, Teresa and I set out to capture some sunset photographs.  We wanted to catch the reflection of the sinking sun and the colors of the post sunset sky on water, so we went to a nearby area where there are several different lakes.  August A Busch Conservation Area is just a few miles away from us so we decided drive out and check out the lakes in the area. We made sure we arrived about an hour before sunset so we could check out which lake would be best to capture the types of photos we wanted to take.  After driving around several lakes we decided lake #6 would best fit our needs.  We could park on the east side of the lake and get some nice shots of the sun fading into the western sky and horizon.  The other feature we liked about this lakes were a couple of small boats tied up on the eastern shore that would make a nice foreground feature for our photos.

Tips for Preparation

  • Make sure you have batteries charged and room on your memory card
  • Search out the best place to get the photo you want
  • Set up your tripod and camera ahead of time ( a tripod will result in the clearest photos, especially after sunset)
  • Using an off camera remote is helpful (helps to alleviate camera shake)

Take a few shots before sunset

Taking a few shots early will help you to determine the best places to set up your camera.  The light just before sunset can be really nice for capturing flowers and other objects.  The soft light will bring out the details of an object. The first photo shows our set up photo.  The next two show the effects of the soft lighting during the time just before sunset.  Notice the beautiful details in the rose photo.

Camera, Lights, Action

We had our cameras set on tripods, the light came from the setting sun and now we were ready for action.  We took several shots as the sun was setting.  I always like to capture the various stages of a sunset.  For these shots I had moved my tripod away from the boats and to an area where I could capture the sunrise framed by the tree and grasses in the foreground.

The Sun has Set but we are not done Yet

The time right after sunset can produce some wonderful colors in the sky.  It is different each time so you just have to be patient, wait and be surprised.  On this day some beautiful pink colors came out of the clouds after sunset.  The first photo was taken a short time after sunset.  A lot of times new photographers are then ready to pack up and leave thinking they have gotten all the good photos.  But look at the second two photos and note how about 30 minutes after sunset the sky takes on a deep blue color.

 Patience Required

These next two photos show the difference in waiting those extra minutes just after sunset to get the perfect photo.  I was shooting at Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis for a photography workshop. The instructor had told us to set up and wait for the sky to turn a deep blue.  I waited, and waited and took the first photo.  It was ok but I didn't think anything that great.  Then I waited a bit more and the sky turned an even deeper blue and as a bonus a sliver of the moon was in my photo.  I think you will agree the deep blue really made the photo.  Patience paid off.

Products from my Photos

Here are some Zazzle Gifts I have made from photographs that I took in the "golden hour" after sunset.

Fountain at Sunset Poster
Fountain at Sunset Poster by mbgphoto
See other Sunset reflections Posters at zazzle
He is Risen! Easter Message Card
He is Risen! Easter Message Card by mbgphoto
Shop for Easter message Cards online at

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


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