25% off Topaz Clarity | Coupon Code

How to use Topaz Clarity, a quick Video Demo

I am a fan of all the Topaz Plugins. I use most of them and it would be very unusual if I processed a photo without using Topaz at all. At the very least I will use Topaz Adjust to bring out detail in certain parts of my image. Topaz Clarity is a relatively new plugin for topaz and is a great tool for really making your images pop.

People are surprised when they ask me how I get the results I do and I tell them it only takes a few minutes, rarely do I worry about Photoshop curves or adjustment layers, I don’t have time to muck around, I like to get my photos processed quickly so I can get on with the rest of my life ;-)

In this video I will show you how simple it is to use Topaz Clarity and for the month of October 2014 you can use the coupon code: octclarity and you will get 25% off. You can also download a free trial if you like first to check it out (Highly Recommended) Use THIS LINK please to visit the Topaz Website, that way I get a small referral reward and you get the saving, it’s a win:win really!

 

 

How to Choose a Tripod and Photography Locations in Tasmania

If you want tack sharp images a sturdy tripod is the easiest way

In this episode of Ask Ben I answer a couple of great questions

What Tripod to get?

It always amazes me as to how much people will spend on a lens, camera or even a camera bag but won’t splurge on a Tripod, when in reality, if you want tack sharp images a sturdy tripod is the easiest way. I myself have gone through a few tripods myself on the quest to find the perfect one. I don’t think there is ‘ONE’ Tripod that will do everything, so I actually have a couple of main tripods.

My Main tripod is the Really Right Stuff TVC-33, you can read my thoughts on it HERE. I have owned this tripod for a couple of years now and love it, it is just a bit big if you’re travelling and thats why I now also have a Benro Travel Flat carbon fibre tripod  – It is a lot lighter and easier to pack into my luggage, and it is still pretty sturdy. I am currently using the BH2 Ball Head from Benro but to be honest, I am not real happy with it and will probably swap it for something a little better. I will let you know when that happens.

Catherine Williams asked me if I could let her know what I thought would be a good tripod and in the video I explain what my tips are for choosing the right tripod.

Photography Locations in Tasmania

Damien Park is heading to Tasmania and wanted to know some locations that he could head to that were great for photography, in the video I share some of my favourite locations for photography in Tasmania and also some of my photos with you.

I really enjoyed Tasmania and think it is a must visit for any keen photographer. The landscape is very different to what I have seen in other parts of Australia and there is many unique locations you can visit to photograph everything from waterfalls, seascapes, mountains, lakes and wildlife plus so much more!

If you’re thinking of heading to Tasmania and you love Photography I suggest you get in contact with my friend Luke O’Brien, he is a local in Tasmania and runs a lot of Tasmanian Photography Workshops and Tours.

Fuji X-T1 wifi, the eye-fi card and how to shoot Panoramic’s

Fuji X-T1 wifi, the eye-fi card and how to shoot Panoramic's

Fuji X-T1 wifi, the eye-fi card and how to shoot Panoramic’s

In episode 3 of Ask Ben I answer a question about the eye-fi card and talk about how I use my Fuji X-T1 wifi and also explain how to take Panoramic Photos with a little trick or two that will help you.

I do have an eye-fi card, but to be honest I hardly used it as it was a bit of a pain, and, it did not seem to work in the Nikon D800 (not sure why, maybe it’s the magnesium body?? (maybe someone with more technical knowledge than me can help me out) – I do like the ability to be able to shoot an image and wirelessly transfer it, my Fuji X-T1 is great for that as it is a built in feature. Fuji have also created an app so it is dead easy to use and works without any hiccups.

As for shooting Panoramic images, I cover a few tips on how to capture them and why you don’t need an expensive nodal rail or panoramic head… I actually speak from experience, I bought a pano head for around $500 and sold it a month later, it was great for doing internal architecture etc. but for landscape photography, totally not required. Save your money and buy another lens! You’ll thank me for it.

Remember, if you have a question you want answered tweet me! @on3legs #AskBen or you can ask me HERE

 

7 secrets every photographer should know about composition

The difference between a good photo and a great photo relies on photography composition.

There are plenty of tools that a budding or professional photographer can use to take a nice photograph but it takes more than good gear to achieve it. Most techniques are simple to use and apply; we just have to seek them out. An important aspect of photography involves training the eye and mind to look for art in any environment and know how to perfectly capture it. During my day I see photographs everywhere!

Henri Cartier-BressonDo not over-think and stress too much with composition

Rules don’t apply when you have spotted a perfect image that almost comes as an instinct.

“In photography, visual organisation can stem only from a developed instinct.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson

Cartier-Bresson, a well renowned photographer, has taken most of his best photographs spontaneously. He is famous for his perfectly arranged compositions that create a perfectly balanced image. His approach to photography is quite brave since he breaks the normal guidelines in photography. Think less and trust your eyes when you find something that looks right. Don’t overthink those rules and guidelines, they might come in handy someday but they’re just tools to guide your natural eye. Rules were made to be broken, especially when it comes to photography.

Luna Park Vivid SydneyFill the frame

Don’t leave too much empty space in a scene. Fill the entire frame to avoid such a compositional (did I just make this word up?) mistake. Zoom in or get closer to the subject to capture the most important elements. Having too much empty space can make the subject appear smaller and boring. In the Photo here of Luna Park in Sydney, I zoomed in so close that unless you knew Sydney well you would struggle to know exactly where this is. On a black night with all this colour going on during the Vivid Sydney festival I wanted to capture the vibrance of Luna Park balanced  with the temporarily lit up Harbour Bridge and Opera House.

Cropping

Cropping is probably everyone’s favorite tool, it comes in handy when you review your photos and realize that you’re not satisfied with the outcome. This should be done correctly to help you achieve the desired look since cropping may make or break the original photos. When using my D800, this has become a real easy way to fix a poor composition (it’s allowed me to be a little lazy really) – The Nikon D800 has a 36mp sensor, so I can crop a fair  bit of the original image and still have a lot to play with.

Lighting

You can improve the overall of a photo with proper lighting. This can make a big difference if you are shooting outdoors. Keep in mind how you create your photos in relation to the lighting to put the finishing touches on it. The image below is the dome on top of the war memorial in Canberra and was backlit with the outside sun. I am a fan of using the natural light to enhance an image.

war memorial

Backgrounds

Backgrounds are just as important as the subject. You can control the composition of a photo by giving balance to the subject and its background. If you wish to hide a background a wide lens aperture and a longer focal length can help throw the background out of focus to bring more attention to the subject and less on the surroundings. You can see in this photo of fungi how I have blurred out the background to really make it stand out from the background, I also placed the green moss behind the fungi as it was a great contrast and really enhanced the composition.

Macro_FungiCurves

A curve could add certain softness to an image and make it seem more inviting. When done correctly it allures the eye of the viewer to examine the details carefully.

Colour

The good use of colour is very important in photo composition. This is essential to make viewers want to take a second look at your photo. It can tell a story by itself.

Your Turn!

I challenge you to head out with your camera this weekend and try using these 7 composition tips to help you take your photography to the next level!

Ask Ben 002

Ken Duncan, Trey Ratcliff, Graduated Filters and Landscape Photography

Thanks for all the great feedback in regards to my new show ‘Ask Ben’ – I really enjoy sharing my knowledge with you! In episode 2 of ‘Ask Ben’ I answer a question about Graduated filters, my favourite photographer and the photographer that has influenced my work the most… enjoy!

 

 

A Beechcraft Bonanza and some Canola

A trip to the Canola Fields

Today I combined a couple of my passions, I jumped in my plane, a Beechcraft Bonanza and flew out to Cowra with some friends, and thanks to the generosity of Lyn from the local flying club, she lent us her car and we headed out in search of some Canola fields to photograph.

I took my Fuji X-T1 and as usual it was perfect for the job!

Canola (1 of 1)

Using the Panoramic Mode of the Fuji XT-1

I have had mixed results with the Panoramic mode of the Fuji X-T1, I find the quicker I sweep for the photo the better it works out…

Canola_pano (1 of 1)

5 creative weekend photography projects

5 simple projects to encourage you to get your camera out

fiveWeekend photography is a great way for you to improve your photography skills and have fun at the same time. It’s a great way for you to try and experiment new ideas and explore your creative side. Living a busy life can be dull and monotonous. Step outside your desk and your usual routine to try out these 5 creative weekend photography projects that I have compiled for you. You can simply do this at home or by going for a walk in the park

Experiment with self portraits 

Taking self-portraits can be ideal if you would like to test out your skills independently. You can do this alone at home or even outside. You’re going to need a tripod then you can start shooting with your camera. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your lighting, angles and emotions. Use both auto and manual focus when shooting to help you and adjust things later on. When shooting self-portraits it is a good idea to set the timer, adjust your camera settings to take multiple shots even if all you need is one good photo.

Urban Exploration Photography

Old TramsUrban Exploration Photography or also known as Urbanex is the art of finding a subject as you explore the city; it may be an old abandoned building, street vendors, pedestrians and architectural buildings. Cities offer a wide range of fascinating photography subject. You can do this with a friend to keep you company and make shooting more fun and less dangerous as you brave the streets of the city. Find a suitable location where you can choose from different subjects. Make sure that you are familiar with the environment and feel safe walking around.  It is best if you can start early in the morning while the city looks so peaceful until it gets crowded later on the day.

Strangers can used as good subjects

Street photography can be really exciting and using strangers as subjects is perhaps a little scary sometimes. A stranger might not feel comfortable with you taking their photos. It would be nice if you can shoot them candid and just let them know that you need to take photos to build your portfolio.

If taking candid photos isn’t enough for you, try to walk up to strangers and ask permission of you can take their photo. Don’t be afraid to walk up to your subject if you find them interesting enough to take their photograph.

Panoramas

Head somewhere that would make a nice Panoramic Image. Set your camera in Portrait mode on your tripod and shoot several images from left to right, making sure you overlap each image by at least a third to make it easy to stitch them together later, of course, If your camera has panorama mode then use it.

Remarkable View

Panoramas can create some inspiring photos that you could frame and hang in your walls. It provides you to view an image on a much wider angle which is great for landscape photos. You can shoot 2-3 images then merge these photos to create a panoramic shot. Learning panorama photography is simple and fascinating.

Macro_FungiMacro Photography

If you have a Macro lens then this is a fun way to spend a weekend, you can even play with macro photography in your own kitchen by taking photos of your utensils, a coffee bean, grains of sugar and list goes on! A great alternative to a macro lens is extension tubes, these can be a cheap way to get into macro photography.

Enjoy your weekends now with these photography projects!

 

Ask Ben 001

How to apply Topaz Adjust to only one part of your image

Welcome to my brand new show, Ask Ben. This is the show where you get to ask any question you like and I will try and answer them!

Why did I start ‘Ask Ben’?

I get asked a lot of great questions, and I do my best to personally answer each and every one of them. What I find, is quite often I will get the same questions asked by more than one person, or, I know that more than one person could benefit by hearing the info, so I decided to start the ‘Ask Ben’ Show!

The show will air weekly and will feature your questions. All you have to do is ask… anything!

How do I ask my question?

You can reach me on just about any platform you like. Tweet me @on3legs #AskBen, hit me up on my Facebook Page or just contact me by CLICKING HERE

 

A little time lapse fun

Time Lapse with the Go Pro Hero 3+ Black Edition

I wrapped the legs of my gorillapod around the handrail of my balcony and set the GoPro up to take a photo every 5 seconds and just left it. I then used Lightroom to create the time-lapse. I will do a tutorial some time in the future to share how to create a time lapse in Lightroom. Not many people realise you can!

Thinking of buying your first DSLR Camera?

Some useful buying tips!

In this century, when everything is going digital, and photography is climbing new peaks every day, if you are crazy about catching every moment of your life with a DSLR Camera, well there’s nothing wrong with that either. The reason may be anything, you have got bored with your old “point and shoot”, or just an idea of surprising your loved ones on their upcoming birthday or may be some other reason that has prompted to shop for your first DSLR Camera.

Before you involve yourself deeper in that same old age dilemma; to go for canon or Nikon; which usually haunts most DSLR buyers, I will recommend you to pay a visit to the nearest bricks and mortar store, take it in your hands, and see how it feels. Hold all of them one by one, Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus or Pentax. Doing this will give you a bit of a feel for each DSLR.

dslr_buying_tips

Some things to look for when buying your first DSLR

Feel factor

Megapixles can be a matter of great discussion. But when you don’t feel good while holding your DSLR in your hands then what use is it to you; you may not even like to carry it around if it is too big. Some online reviews may have named it as the ‘wonder camera’ just because of its features, something that you simply can’t afford to miss according to them!

SonyA7RBut if you don’t use it then it’s a criminal waste of money. What you should look for is something that you’re comfortable with, forget the reviews and the hearsay, every DSLR you buy these days is a great camera, it will do everything and more than you need, especially if it your first DSLR.

User Interface

iStock_000030165048LargeSecond aspect you need to think about is the navigation part of your DSLR menus. Different brands/models have different ways of accessing the features. Navigation may be fairly easy or it can be a puzzling and frustrating experience. Nikon’s menu, I am quite used to it and I feel comfortable with, on the other hand I find Sony’s to be a lot more confusing and a steeper learning curve. Usually the higher spec DSLR’s will have more of the features accessible with buttons and dials, as entry level DSLR’s make it a little more difficult to access some of the more common needed features such as changing ISO or White Balance.

Price

Of course, you need to look for a DSLR in your price range, there are many options that range from hundreds of dollars to thousands. Don’t be fooled into buying the latest or most expensive. For your first DSLR I would suggest looking at buying a kit, most manufacturers have a kit that will include the camera body and a couple of lenses too.

D800Conclusion

The best tip I can give you, buy the same brand as your friend or family already own. They will become your lifeline as you’re on your learning curve, if you have someone close to you that already owns a Nikon, then they will more than likely know their way around the menus etc and will be able to help you… PLUS… if you ask really nicely, they might lend you their lenses and accessories to try.

 

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