Snapping Dreams

Archive for the ‘Tips & Tutorials’ Category

Celebrating light!

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Every photographer knows that the word photography came from Greek and simply mean “Painting with light” but I think many don’t realize how true it is that photography is all about painting with light.

I for one, used to give all my attention to compositions, to apertures, to lines and shapes. And I must say yes, great composition and perfect aperture does give us a good photo. But when you learn how to find light and how to see light, it turns a good photo into a great photo. Light makes all the difference.

The one thing I took away from attending Jasmine’s online class 2 months ago was – finding good light. There were many other things she said during the class that were good but somehow, “finding good light” stuck with me.

From that class onwards,  whatever I shot, people, food, flowers (yeah I know, actually those are the ONLY things I shoot! :p), I paid attention to light – whether the light was soft or harsh, whether it was warm or cool and whether the shadow was long or short! Yeah, it sounds a bit crazy but it did make all the difference in my pictures. Whether a picture was flat or whether a picture looked alive, it all depended on light (and shadow)!

If you learn how to find good light and shoot confidently, that’s all you need.

… was what Jasmine said. And it is true. Very true. And the great thing about this is, you get to practice this anytime, anywhere cos light is everywhere!

Coincidentally, today’s the festival of lights – Diwali. Diwali’s probably not about celebrating light, but do allow me to celebrate light today from a photog’s perspective. Happy Diwali! :)


Written by SE

November 5, 2010 at 4:50 pm

Tips from Frank Doorhof

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Came across this post by Frank Doorhof in Scott Kelby’s blog. It was one of the Guest Blog Wednesday posts. I found some of the points resonating with me and so I thought I’d share it here too. Here they are in short.

  1. Even the best Photoshop users can’t make a bad picture really shine.
  2. Learn to REALLY look through the viewfinder.
  3. To make an image more interesting it’s very important to also invest in the styling and the model.

If you are interested in a more elaborated version, do read on.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by SE

April 16, 2010 at 11:16 pm

Tips: Knowing your target audience

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Many may think that the photography market is an easy one to enter but any photographer would tell you differently. It’s not just plainly a matter of how good you are but like all other businesses, marketing plays a very big role here too.

Sacha Dean Biyan understands this well. His site, Eccentris which took him three years to build is an award-winning site that receives over 2 million hits each month. It incorporates not only big, high resolution images but also clever animation and CD quality sound. Of course, such a rich multimedia site drags through most viewers’ browsers but here’s what Sacha has to say about it.

“The target audience was the art directors and other creatives in the field who were all equipped with fast computers and big screens and high-speed connections,” says Sacha. “[It] was never intended to attract a mainstream audience, although (for good or bad) it has, mostly out of curiosity I presume.”

Sacha’s spot on here. So what if it takes eons to load on an average photography-lover’s computer since they are afterall not the target audience?

Lesson here: Knowing your target audience is very important. If you are into wedding photography, such a site would be a terrible choice cos the average bride or groom to be won’t have fast computers or high-speed connections. A website as light as possible would be the best choice.

You can read more about Sacha Dean Biyan’s portfolio approach on Photopreneur.

Written by SE

March 20, 2010 at 11:52 pm

Posted in Tips & Tutorials

Tips on using digital camera flash

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I’ve always hated the flash when I was still using my old point and shoot canon. No matter how badly lit a place could be, I insisted on no flash. For me, flash pics = blown out pics = ugly pics.

But today, I realized I could have improved the situation easily with just a few very simple tips. Very intuitive stuff but it just never came across my mind.

  1. Take a step back. This will decrease the impact of the flash on the subjects.
  2. Stick tissue or white tape to the flash, to diffuse the light. Remember that the colour of the material will affect the outcome of the pic. So stick to white if you don’t want blue people in your pics.
  3. Putting a small piece of white card at an angle in front of the flash to redirect the flash upwards or sideways (instead of directly at the subject).

So, after blasting up the ISO, increasing the aperture, slowing down the shutter speed and you find out you still need flash, perhaps you might want to try the above tips! ;)

(To read more about avoiding blowing flash blow out with your point and shoot, go here)

Written by SE

January 11, 2010 at 9:33 pm

Posted in Tips & Tutorials

Adding Texture to Photos

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It’d be good if I’ve got a picture for Christmas, but I don’t. So, let this be just another normal post.

During my last trip back in Malaysia, I did a mother and daughter photo shoot for a friend’s friend. It was great fun and I’ve been wanting to blog about it for a long time now but never found time. And still haven’t found time for it yet. This blog post, sadly, won’t be a showcase of the pics from the photo shoot. But instead, I’m taking out one pic from the photo shoot to share with you.

As you will see, one of it is the original pic and the other is one where I added texture to it.



I sometimes like to add textures to certain pictures because it creates an altogether different feeling. Like in this case, it adds a classic touch to it. While in other cases, it could give the picture a dreamy feeling (like the picture below which I found in my archives). And of course with your own creativity, you can just about create any mood you like for the picture.

It might seem like I’ve done a lot to the pic but actually adding textures to pictures is honestly, quite easy. There are many tutorials out there on how to do so, so I don’t think I need to give you a step by step here. Instead, you can check out this, this or this on how to add texture to your pictures. Here’s also a video tutorial, just in case.

And, here are some good sources for free textures online: 1. Texture Lovers 2. Deviant Art 3. Design Reviver

Have fun with the textures! Oh, and Merry Christmas! :)

Written by SE

December 24, 2009 at 5:58 pm

Posted in Tips & Tutorials

Manual focus + still life

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The last 6 months had been just so crazily busy for me, I never had the chance to go out for a photowalk. Today, I thought I’d shoot something for a friend who was undergoing an operation today and so out I went, bringing my camera.

It was drizzling then, but for me,  it didn’t matter. Of course it would mean less natural lights and the camera getting wet, but I love shooting rainy days for many reasons. One of them is that you get to shoot water drops left on leaves and flowers which brings about a very different feeling for pictures. Here’s one that I shot a few months ago from my archives. And here’s one that I shot today:



Manual focus always come in quite handy in composing still life shots, so I used manual focus in this. Through the viewfinder, I got to determine which part I want blurred out and which part I want to be in focus by adjusting the focus ring. During editing, I pumped up the clarity a bit. As you can see, it helps the water stand out a bit more.



(Flowers for my friend. Wishing you a speedy recovery!)

This was also done with manual focus. Another thing with doing manual focus is not only can you choose what is in focus and what is not, but you can also make everything not too much in focus. As for editing, I made the tones warmer her cos pictures with warmer tones always cheer me up. Hope it does the same for my friend!

Written by SE

November 11, 2009 at 2:28 pm

Posted in Tips & Tutorials

Conceptual Diptych, Triptych and Polyptych

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Today, I went for a movie with an Indonesian friend. It was near dinner time when the movie ended so we decided that we might as well have dinner too before heading home. We found a nice restaurant but had to wait to wait almost 30 mins before we got to enter the restaurant. So while waiting, I decided to shoot some pics with my handphone’s camera (which later on turned into a series of photo snapping even during and after dinner).

Because of how bad the quality of the handphone camera is, I decided to do more conceptual shots to make the photos more interesting. Also, as you can see from below, I made diptych, triptych and polyptych using the photos today. Hope you like them!

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First one consists of photos taken while waiting for our turn to get in. I liked how the floor design was and thought it’d make a good background. So I took photos of feet! The photo on the left and the right, I ignored the rule of thirds and had my objects on the far left or right. As for editing, I decided to make the photos B&W this time with high contrast to really help my objects stand out.


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Second one is just a family I found cute. On the left, you can see the dad and his son while the other is of the mom and the other son. And both photos had them seating diagonally. I lowered the saturation and made this a bit pinky to created the family feeling.


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Third one here is pictures I took at the train station. It’s of the same people waiting for the train but from a different angle and also placing them on different sides of the pictures. I kept the colours cos I like how train stations look like originally, especially the yellow lines.


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Last one here, I made it a mix of portrait photography and interior designs at the restaurant. As you can see, I didn’t take straight up mug shots. Instead, I only took part of her face for both photos. I feel sometimes photos like this speak more for the person rather than normal portraits.

My friend here wasn’t in such a chirpy mood today which is why I took the facing down pic. But she had a new pair of earrings on hoping it would put her into a better mood which explains the side pic with her earrings. As for the interiors, one somewhat has lights held in by a container while the other has lights bursting out from the holes. I pumped up both the colours and contrasts for all pics.

*If you want to know how to make diptych or triptych or poliptych, here’s a quite detailed step by step diptych tutorial from Flickr. Have fun!

Written by SE

November 8, 2009 at 3:10 pm

Posted in Tips & Tutorials