Guest Blog by Fat Lama: 5 Mistakes For Beginner Photographers To Watch Out For

It’s easy to be by possibility when you’re starting out in photography. And, we’ll level with you, there is a lot that can go wrong. But fear not: by reading this, we hope you’ll know how to avoid the five most common mistakes that beginner photographers make when starting out.

1. Shooting in JPEG

Let’s be clear: whilst some photographers will tell you otherwise, it is ok to shoot in JPEG. The files sizes are smaller, cameras usually allow for a faster burst mode in JPEG, the whole process is quicker, and sometimes all you need is to take a few quick snapshots and be done. However, there are a few of reasons why it might not be the best bet.

Basically, when your camera is shooting in JPEG, between you taking the image and seeing it on the screen, the camera does the processing and voila: your photo is ‘finished’. Shooting in RAW, on the other hand, gives you many more tools for a much wider range of creativity and often this is key in developing your own signature style. So, for greater freedom beyond your shoot, give RAW a shot.

2. Blown Highlights

One of the most common issues facing a new photographer is the blowing or ‘clipping’ of highlights. This means that your highlights are overexposed to the extent that the camera sensor can’t record any information from that part of the image. If your highlights are blown, literally no amount of post-processing can bring them back. The data simply isn’t there. Ouch.

So, what can you do if you’re shooting on a sunny day or in another high contrast situation? Here’s where we ‘expose for the highlights.’ What this means is, when you take a photograph, make sure the exposure is adjusted for the highlights in the image. Naturally, this will result in a darker image. But don’t worry: if you’ve shot in RAW, you’ll be able to bring back the detail from the shadows in post-production.

3. Over-Reliance On Post-Production

The RAW mindset can lead to a problematic ‘I’ll fix it later’ mentality. You may well wonder what the point in nailing your exposure is, when you can easily adjust exposure by up to five stops either way at your computer screen. And why bother getting the white balance correct in-camera when you can just fix it later on?

With Photoshop at your disposal, you may increasingly hear yourself saying, “I’ll fix it later”. Be warned. If you start taking shortcuts in one area of photography, other areas are likely to suffer too. Remember: processing is intended to enhance your work, not rescue poor photos.

4. Overshooting

Whilst you should absolutely try to shoot day, less can be more! Back in photography’s analogue era, you were fixed to either 12, 24 or 36 exposures per roll of film – and it didn’t come cheap! This meant that thought was required before you pressed the shutter.

Whilst digital photography opens up the possibility of vast quantities, it also increases the risk of overshooting. Be careful not to merely ‘spray and pray’ – the quality will suffer. One recommended exercise is to go out for the day and limit yourself to no more than 12 photos. You might just find that you end up putting much more thought into what you are capturing and develop better shooting habits as a result.

5. Conspicuous Editing

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Contrast, shadows, exposure, highlights, vibrance, saturation, vignettes – the list is pretty endless. However, this can often make it easy to lose track of where an image started out! Moderation is key and subtlety is the name of the game. Quick tip: keep a copy of the original image side-by-side with your working edit, so that you can constantly see how far you have come.

We hope these five easy tips will put you on the path to greatness.

Bradley Allen is a freelance photographer and writer for Fat Lama.

Montenegro Photography Holiday Highlights with TDactive holidays

In April 2018, the DPS team  set out with 16 fellow photographers of all levels to one of the most rugged, untouched and unique areas of Europe, Montenegro. We landed in Dubrovnik, Croatia as the sun was blazing in all it’s glory offering us a balmy 21 degrees with clear skies. It was so refreshing after such a cold and dreary Irish winter that seemed to refuse to leave! We quickly grab our luggage, meet our guide and board a bus to one of the most  beautiful places in the world. After just over a 20 minutes coach ride we are whisked to our destination, where we will spend our first evening at leisure exploring the amazing city of Dubrovnik, where the commanding views from it’s walls hint at the amazing scenes to come.

Settling in for the night our advice is very simple, “have your memory cards empty and your batteries full, as we will hit the ground running in the morning”.

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Don’t Miss Out!

Transylvania Holiday September 13th- 17th 2018

photography trips to TransylvaniaCome travel with us to Romania the largest of the Balkan nations. It is a land of stunning mountain scenery, unspoiled countryside and historic towns, making it a fantastic holiday destination for anyone looking to develop their documentary, street and landscape photography skills. Based in the charming, historic town of Brasov for four nights, you will have the opportunity to photograph the remarkable landscapes of the Transylvania region as you travel high into the Carpathian Mountains, taking in impressive vistas and lake views. You will also visit the picturesque medieval town of Viscri, famous for its traditional houses and Saxon fortified church, and Sighisoara, with its impeccably preserved hilltop citadel. Of course, no stay in Transylvania would be complete without a visit to the imposing fortress of Dracula’s Castle.

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We wake to a stunning sunrise where the weather is fantastic for April in Croatia @22 degrees.  Our day starts with a short drive across the border into Montenegro, but not before we stop to take in the viewing point of Dubrovnik. Moving accross the hard boarder of the E.U is no hassle as Montenegro has a fantastic relationship with Europe and is hoping to join the E.U in the coming years. We then move onto our first destination Perast, a truly picturesque old town on the Bay of Kotor. Despite having only one main street, the tiny town of Perast boasts 16 churches and 17 formerly grand palazzos. Here,on the streets of Perast, we meet our amazing guide Miro. The DPS team teach everything from semi automatic modes to composition, EV Comp and getting everybody up to speed with basics for the next few days.

After a lunch stop we enjoy a guided boat cruise from Perast to the island of Our Lady of The Rocks for a photo shoot in two locations, looking out over Our Lady of the Rocks as well as ample time to photograph the nearby St George’s Island. Regrouping after our boatride from the Island, we rebroad  our bus and head to  our next desitination, a beuatiful old town called Kotor. We plan to photograph Kotor from above so as we climb the steep pathway to our destination, we are treated to commanding vistas of the souroudding hills and bay, before stoping for a sunset shoot and filter demostration. The sun begins to set as we make the trip down to the centre of Kotor and head  to our hotel for the evening, which is located in the stunning oldtown of Budva.

In the early morning, we set out to  Lovcen National Park, located in rocky region of Dinara Alps. Here we  journey via the impressive Serpentine Road that winds through the landscape with numerous stops to  photograph the Bay of Kotor, also known as BokaBay, before continuing on to Skadar Lake. Lake Skadar lies on the border of Albania and Montenegro and is the largest lake in Southern Europe. You will have the chance to shoot iconic images of the lake from an elevated position. Following this we stop for lunch before take a guided boat cruise to the village of Virpazar. On board we are treated to local wines and cheeses and relax and enjoy the stunning views. Here the DPS teach how to photograph and compensate for movement when moving at speed, before stopping at  Besac Fortress and photographing the black hills of its namesake Montenegro.

 

Early next morning we embark on a sunrise photo shoot at the walls of the oldtown of Budva. Following this we regroup for breakfast and board the bus for the Tara River and Black Lake, a glacial lake located on Mount Durmitor at an elevation of 1,416m.  Stopping to photograph the  Tara River Canyon while shooting from Djurdjevica Tara Bridge. At 1,300m deep the Tara River Canyon is among the deepest river canyons in the world. before stopping at a black lake for some stunning views and photographs that would be not out of place in the the rocky montains.

 

As the DPS team wind down for the evening before heading to the airport in Dubrovnik, we take one last stroll through the streets of Budva oldtown, which is like something from an old historical movie. The empty streets are both romantic and mysterious as they weave in and out of old squares, lit only by old lamps. Montenegro is truely a stunning country and destination. Our friends in TDactve Holidays have outdone themselves yet again in planning our logistics and comfort for this trip. See you in 2019 Montenegro!

 

Ring of Hook Photography Trip Highlights

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On March 24th 2018, the DPS team boarded a coach with 13 other photographers of all levels to one of the most scenic locations in the sunny south east: Hook Head. Taking in some stunning locations in Irelands Ancient East…including Ducketts Grove in Carlow, Clashganny Lock just outside Borris and Tintern Abbey in Wexford, before arriving at the jewel in the crown that is, Hook Head Lighthouse. Hook Head is one of Ireland’s most iconic lighthouses aswell as being one of the oldest operating lighthouses in the world.

Ducketts Grove Photography tour

The day was blessed with amazing spring weather. We were spoiled with blue skies and fluffy white clouds that always make for a fantastic day out.

Each location is introduced with new techniques, settings and guidance from the DPS team.

Including:

  • Sample Compositions
  • Shutter Priorty
  • Aperture Priorty
  • Full Manual Mode
  • Circular Polarizers Explained & Demonstrated
  • ND Filters Explained & Demonstrated
  • ND  Grad Filters Explained & Demonstrated
  • White Blanace Explained
  • Much, Much More ….

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The day ended with an incredible sunset on Hook Head, with a stunning display of colour and a fantastic opportunity to capture misty waters, and as we moved into the “blue hour” after sunset, the guys were treated to a tutorial on spinning steel wool to create some fantastic effects.

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If you are interested in checking out this trip, we will be updating the trip page with a 2019 Hook Head date soon here.

 

Check out more images from the day on our Instagram account here

 

 

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Romania & Transylvania Photography Holiday Highlights

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In September 2017, the DPS team  set out with 22 other photographers of all levels to one of the most remote, untouched and unique areas of Europe, Romania. Landing in Bucharest as the sun was setting, we quickly grab our luggage and board a bus to one of the most  beautiful places in the world. Through the coach window we see jagged cliffs and the outline of slopping wooden tiled houses as we are whisked to our destination. Up and up we travel, corkscrewing our way through small mountain villages until we reach the Transylvanian plateau, which is our base for the next four nights, the old Saxon stronghold town of Brasov.

Settling in for the night our advice is very simple, “have your memory cards empty and your batteries full, as we will hit the ground running in the morning”.

We wake to a stunning sunrise where the weather is still fantastic in September in Romania, 25 degrees  and that is the coolest day! Our day starts with a short tour Brasov. The city is located at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains steeped in history and old world charm with fascinating scenery. The tour takes in the old town hall square, St. Nicholas Church ( the oldest Romanian Orthodox church in the country) and the first Romanian school of Schei, which dates back to 1495, and the Gothic Black Church. We firstly stop at Biserica Sfântul Nicolae a stunning orthadox church and  in a secluded area in the back of the grounds we have our first outdoor lesson.

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For 30 minutes we make sure that everyone is up to speed by covering some basic settings and composition skills.

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Once in Brasov old town square, we break up into smaller groups and the DPS team spend some time with each group and give advice, feedback and direction.

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Don’t Miss Out!

Transylvania Holiday October 11th- 15th 2017

*** Only 3 Places Remaining ***

photography trips to TransylvaniaCome travel with us to Romania the largest of the Balkan nations. It is a land of stunning mountain scenery, unspoiled countryside and historic towns, making it a fantastic holiday destination for anyone looking to develop their documentary, street and landscape photography skills. Based in the charming, historic town of Brasov for four nights, you will have the opportunity to photograph the remarkable landscapes of the Transylvania region as you travel high into the Carpathian Mountains, taking in impressive vistas and lake views. You will also visit the picturesque medieval town of Viscri, famous for its traditional houses and Saxon fortified church, and Sighisoara, with its impeccably preserved hilltop citadel. Of course, no stay in Transylvania would be complete without a visit to the imposing fortress of Dracula’s Castle.

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We spend the first half of the day working some basic skills before breaking for lunch and then regrouping before we head up into the beautiful Tampa Mountains where we have amazing panoramic views or the entire city of Brasov.

 romanian photography holidays with DPS & Travel Department

 

We spend the next few hours exploring the infamous Castle Bran, ( castle is mentioned in Bram Strokers Dracula ) taking tight stair wells and losing ourselves in rooms from another time,  a time that seems to step right out of a fairy tale. Romania is dotted with these Germanic style Gothic revival castles.

photography trips bran castle with dublin photography school

The group then regroups 30 minutes before sunset to photograph Castle Bran under the velvet blue veil of night.

After a long day we arrive back in Brasov, some of the group rest up and some head into Brasov to experience the local night life.

 

Day three takes us on another adventure but before  we travel out  along one of the most spectacular mountain roads in the world, the Transfagarasan Road and into the impressive Fagaras Mountains (commonly known as The Transylvanian Alps), we make a short stop at the Fagaras Fortress and the beautifully impressive gold domed Orthodox cathedral to capture some of it’s beauty.  When back on the road, we navigate up twisting winding roads of sheer drops and stunning heights, expertly handled by our driver. We stop along the way to take in some of the most stunning vistas. Before reaching our destination and our highest point,  Lake Balea, a glacier lake which is situated within the Fagaras Mountains at 2042metres above the sea level, our group breaks for lunch. After we are fed and watered we head out to our chosen location to get some of the best shots that Balea Lake has to offer. Here we give detailed tuition on filters, tripods, remote, settings, exposure and composition. The group then have some free time to seek out their own shots and compositions.  Before returning back to Brasov as the sun is setting, stop once again to photograph the impressive winding roads of the Transfagarasan. The remainder of the evening was spent at leisure, a most welcome break after  a busy day.

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Day four takes us north to Sighisoara, a beautifully preserved medieval town set in rolling countryside and a UNESCO World Heritage site steeped in legend, and the birth place of Vlad the Impaler (the warlord that Bram Strokers  character Dracula is based on). We start with a short  walking tour through the cobbled streets viewing many highlights including the Church on the Hill and the impressive Clock Tower, which dates back to the 13th century. Each day a different wooden figure emerges from the belfry on the stroke of midnight and a drummer strikes every hour. This location is a little different in terms of tuition, here we introduce some ideas around setting themes and conventions, as well  reading and communicating an image. The guys are both delighted and challenged as this gives them a way of seeing things with a different twist. After a review during our exploration of the town, everybody excels and produces a fantastic array of images.

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We reboard the bus  and travel onwards to the traditional Saxon village of Viscri. Viscri  is  an amazing site that seems to almost have stepped out of time, with handcrafts and traditional agriculture that has not changed in generations. It is home to a stunning fortified church. We split up and wander this unique and fascinating town, that is full of friendly faces and detailed crafts, before re-boarding the bus back to Brasov.

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It is our last evening in Romania so many of us experience the night life and have a well earned local dinner. We depart early the next morning  with out take away breakfast in hand, and just as we think our adventure is over, we make one more stop. We head for Peles Castle on route to the airport and find it lit up in the amazing misty sunrise.

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What’s happening at DPS this August 2017

photography courses starting in august in dublin

Are you looking to start a beginners photography course this August or maybe improve your photography skills with one of our many weekend courses or workshops? Here is a list of courses  & workshops starting this August in Dublin Photography School.  Simply click on any of the links below to find out more info & to make your booking.

 

7 Week Beginners DSLR Photography Course

Starting Tuesday August 1st 2017

Click here for more details

 

Wedding Photography Workshop

Saturday August 12th 2017

Click here for more details

 

1 Day Beginners DSLR Photography Course

Saturday August 19th 2017

Click here for more details

 

1 Day Adobe Photoshop Workshop

Saturday August 19th 2017

Click here for more details

 

Street Photography Workshop

Saturday August 26th 2017

Click here for more details

 

Travel Photography Workshop

Saturday August 26th 2017

Click here for more details

 

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COMING SOON!

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DPS Bites: 5 Tips For Better Travel Photography

5 Tips For Better Travel Photography

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When we think of travel photography we often think of the famous landmarks, monuments & attractions of the city or country we plan to visit. However for many people these famous sites are just the tip of the iceberg when visiting a new destination. To us here at DPS travel photography is so much more than just landmarks. To us it is a sub-genre of documentary & reportage photography that involves looking at landscapes, cultures, customs, people & their history. It conveys in an image a feeling that expresses the feeling of a particular time and place.
When we return from a holiday often it’s not the big things e.g. the Eiffel Tower or the Leaning Tower of Pisa that stick out in our mind but the smaller things. Details & quirks of the trip that spring to mind are e.g. small coffee shops, local markets or the artisans that ply their trade on the roadside. Food & art are things that make a culture unique. When we go away what we are looking to find is not what is similar to our own culture, but what is different. With all of this in mind, here are a few simple tips on what to look for when photographing on your adventures & travels.

Plan Your Kit:

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This is one of the most important considerations and one of the first things we teach on our travel photography workshop. Think about what kind of shots you want & make a list. If it’s mostly scenic landscapes then pack a wide angle lens, if it’s people a 50mm fixed or if it’s a mix of both, consider a zoom lens. Remember that it’s not always about what is in your kit bag!, a good compostiion can be achieved on a camera phone or a compact camera, will still look great on a web album or e.g. Instragram.

Be Prepared For Low Light:

DPS

A lot of the action takes place in the evening, especially in hotter climates where the heat of the day can be a little over whelming. Be prepared for shooting in low light & carry something portable that you can use as a tripod to create slow exposure effects. A mini gorilla pod or a table top tripod are small & portable & they will fold up neatly into your kit bag. They are ideal for use anywhere. However if you are stuck, then you can use a bean bag, a wall or a rolled up t-shirt.

The 1/640th Rule:

travel photography tips for beginners

When travelling we are often looking for a shutter speed that will freeze about 90% of everyday action. Try setting your camera to 1/640th of a second, while this will not freeze every scene, it will freeze most day to day scenes that you will come across where people & moving subjects are part of it.
Start walking around with your camera in TV or S mode. This will allow you to focus on framing & composing your image.

Buy Something For A Portrait:

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A great way to break the ice with a local trader for example is to buy something small from them, then ask if you can take their portrait! Get chatting to them. Even if language is a barrier they will see from your body language that you have no alterior motive & they will often allow you to take their photograph. Stall holders, shop keepers & street musicians are often asked by travellers for photographs & will generally be willing to have their portrait taken. If fact many of them often play up for the camera.

Get Up High:

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High vantage points can be found almost everywhere. Even if your only photographing down-hill, it will make a massive difference to your images.
Get great scenes by getting up high, this can be as simple as photographing from your hotel window or by hiking up a hill, or even taking a drive into the mountains. Try to a have a point of interest in the foreground as a focus point so as to make the shot more interesting.

Bonus Tip:

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Why not Take a travel photography workshop or photography holiday with DPS. While it is  not exactly a tip, it will teach you all the skills you need to know to capture that trip of a lifetime!