Esther Beaton

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Quick Tips

Short articles on photography techniques.

How to Turn Daylight into Night

looks like it was photographed by the light of the moon

There are several reasons to shoot at nighttime. Sometimes you want to create a gloomy, scary or heavy atmosphere. Sometimes the story or subject you want to illustrate occurred at night. But what to do if you are at your location in the middle of the day with no chance to return later?  That’s what …

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Making great people photos

mixed lighting opposite colours

There are so many factors that go into good “people” shots. People photos for geographic magazines are a bit different from standard portraits. Sometimes they are raw photojournalism, but usually they fall into a genre called “environmental portraiture”. I’ve done this for so long now that I’ve come to really love it. The essential elements …

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Rembrandt artist

Rather than using colour, as in the previous post, to get rid of a busy or dull background, you can accomplish it with exposure control alone. This artist worked in her garage and the best angle of her using her jewellery press had some old storage units behind her. The easiest thing was to turn …

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Victoria’s Coast and Photo Tip: Charming the Birds

There are some great bird photography locations in Victoria, but during my January trip the drought was playing havoc, with days of unexpected rain, paralytic heat, and dust storms. But even with a little persistence, even in the worst of weather you can still find a few plucky birds. The scenery along the shores of …

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Think the Reciprocal Rule is safe? It fails with high resolution cameras

Tawny Frogmouth (Podargus strigoides) on nest among casuarina trees, Lake Tuggerah, Central Coast, New South Wales

The reciprocal rule is handy to know when you are hand-holding your camera, especially with a long lens attached. It states “always use a shutter speed whose reciprocal is faster than the focal length of the lens”. So if you’re hand-holding a 500 mm lens, you have to use a shutter speed of 1/500 or faster. …

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Take Advantage of the Rain – Do Bird Photography!

Red Wattlebird, capturing a Brown Katydid insect which feeds on pollen, in Callistemon bush, National Botanic Gardens, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory

I had business in Canberra a few months ago and I grabbed a couple spare hours to do some bird photography. I chose the bird-abundant National Botanic Gardens. But alas it was late in the day, dark and raining. But knowing how I could push my ISO into the “danger zone” and still be able …

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Tripods and heads for Bird Photography

Gimbal head holding 200-500 mm zoom lens on Benbo tripod.

A tripod comes with three features: the legs, the head and the mount. Each is an important choice. Needless to say, the more solid and heavier the tripod, the more sturdily it will hold your long lens. A well-built tripod will last decades (like my magnificent and trusty Benbo as you can see by these …

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Photo Tip – Plan The Shots for Your Editorial Assignment

Here’s a tip for covering an editorial assignment. I’ve shot features for many magazines, but my favourite is the geographic assignment, so those are the sample photos I’ll use. The key to a successful feature in a magazine, geographical or otherwise, is diversity. To achieve that: Be sure to have three types of shots: long …

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A quick lesson in quick lighting

What makes this family “portrait” so pleasing? No, it’s not the fact that it’s my family – my sister and nephews. It’s the lighting. My sister has taken this “selfie” while keeping in mind all the rules of a good photo: 1. Tight cropping. She’s not afraid to even chop a bit off one of …

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Don’t frame too tight

Sometimes, when I’ve been judging photo competitons, I’ve had to evaluate an image where the subject in the photo is wedged so tight in the frame that you get an uncomfortable feeling looking at it. When I’ve commented that “there’s no room to breathe” the photographer usually rebuts me by saying “but I’ve been criticised in the past …

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