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Sunset Photography Tips - How to Take Good Photos

Everyone loves looking at gorgeous sunsets, which is why sunset photography is so popular. If you want to take stunning sunset pictures, then here are some some simple techniques you can use to get photos that really stand out.

Sunset Photography Rule #1: Protect your Eyes and Camera

It is dangerous to your eyes and to your camera's image sensor to point your camera directly at a bright yellow sun. Using a long lens or optical zoom will magnify the damaging effects. If you want to get a better picture (and play it safe), wait until the sun has fallen below the horizon or is a dark red color.

Sunset Photography Rule #2: Capture the Color

Ever run out the door to photograph a brilliant sunset but then after uploading to your computer wonder what happened to those saturated, bright hues? Usually the culprit is the camera's automatic white balance. While your eyes can easily see the brilliant yellows, oranges, magentas and blues of a sunset, the camera's automatic white balance works to dull down the bright colors to make them look more normal..The solutions are simple:

* If you have manual settings, turn off the auto white balance, and then set the white balance to the warm side.

* If your camera has a color lens setting or you are shooting with an SLR or DSLR, try some shots with the red filter selected or attached.

* Using a compact that doesn't offer these manual settings? Really simple solution here: set it to sunset mode. You can use this for sunrises too. Sunset mode automatically sets the white balance to keep its color balance warm. Sunset mode also helps the camera use the best focus and exposure (with no flash) for this type of image.

* None of these apply to your camera? Use Landscape mode or auto, and then use photo editing software to adjust the white balance to reflect the brilliant colors you saw.

* You may also want to experiment with different exposure settings or use your photo editor to darken or lighten. Be sure to make changes on a copy of the original file- never the original!

* Sometimes a slower shutter speed will work better for sunset photos so if you do, make sure to use a tripod to steady your camera.

Sunset Photography Rule #3: Capture the Best Compositions

* Use basic landscape photography techniques and patience to create stunning sunset pictures.

* Not all sunsets make great photos. To get a remarkable sunset picture, you need an amazing sunset. Look for clouds, as they almost always make for more impressive sunsets. Sunsets with clouds are even more impressive over large bodies of water.

* Give yourself time to watch the sunset and wait for the really amazing pictures.

* Take your sunset photos in areas where you're free from clutter or distractions like power lines and buildings (unless you intend to have the building as part of your photo).

* Compose your pictures with something in the foreground like a palm tree or boat to give the image context and scale. The sunset will usually create the silhouettes giving your picture more drama.

* If the sky is the most dramatic part of the sunset, compose your picture so that two thirds of it is filled with sky. If the reflection on water and silhouettes is the most captivating part of the pictures give this two thirds of your image's real estate.

* Head to a beach where you'll find some of the best sunset pictures. Here you can see the sun setting over the horizon, and your pictures will also get the benefits of the colorful reflections off the water. Other great places are the prairie or the desert where you can see the horizon and have extra color from the dust in the air.

This is all you need for succeeding at sunset photography so start using these tips and you'll be happily surprised at the beautiful sunset pictures you'll capture.


Digital Photography Basics - Differences Between Compacts and DSLRs

If you want to learn the basics of digital photography, it really doesn't matter whether you're using a digital compact or a DSLR with the exception of these few important differences.

Digital Compacts

One of the biggest advantages to digital compacts is the cost. Another thing to consider when buying a DSLR is that you will need to purchase at least one lens for your camera especially if you want to take distant photographs. Digital compacts always come with a built in lens and sometimes even come with a zoom.

If you have an optical zoom on your digital compact, you can get some good quality telephoto shots too. An Optical zoom is always better than digital zoom because a digital zoom works like cropping and takes away pixels. The more you zoom with a digital zoom the lower the image quality. Unlike regular zooms, an optical zoom maintains the quality of your picture.

Some compacts will take such high quality images that many a pro will use one when they don't want to carry all of their DSLR gear. The quality of the photograph is largely dependent upon the photographer's skill.

While digital compacts don't have as many megapixels as DSLRs, with only 5 megapixels, you can produce an 8x10 print of the type of quality you'd be proud to frame and hang on your wall.

Finally, learning the digital photography basics of a compact is far easier then learning how to use a DSLR to its full advantage.

Digital Single Lens Reflexes (DSLRs)

A Digital SLR is the digital version of a single lens reflex camera or SLR. You can call a DSLR a single lens reflex camera but you can't call an SLR a digital camera. With the release of cameras like the Canon Rebel and other moderately priced DSLRs, more photography enthusiasts are enjoying the benefits of using a DSLR.

The big advantage of the DSLR is its creativity and versatility.

For example, by adding a long telephoto lenses, you can capture a close up of an osprey at the top of a towering pine tree or a child at the soccer goal post when you're at the other end of the field. With a DSLR, you can find all kinds of accessories to suit almost any photographer's need.

Another advantage to the DSLR is its ability to take crisp, focused sports and other action shots in places with low light where flash isn't allowed. The larger sensor on a DSLR allows you to do this; whereas with a compact, if you set the ISO high enough to take the shot in the dim light, it would have digital noise (sort of a multi colored grain). If you're taking still shots, it's not an issue. The problem with Sports Mode in a low light setting is that the shutter must close quickly so there is just not enough light to hit the image sensor even with a large aperture setting. The only way this can be compensated for is with a flash or a higher ISO setting.

However, you can get rid of most digital noise by using photo editing software like Adobe Photoshop.

Another advantage of using a DSLR is that you can use an external flash instead of always having to use natural light.

DSLRs have more megapixels than the best of the digital compacts, meaning you can take and print in high quality really big pictures, like posters and large prints for framing. And lastly, digital cameras are slower to take pictures than film cameras but DSLRs are much faster than digital compacts.

Although the digital photography basics do start with selecting a camera, the quality of your images will largely depend upon how you use your camera. So no matter what type of camera you have or will be buying, it pays to practice.


Photography 101: A Short History of the Photograph

In these modern times, cameras are everywhere. Whether it's a tiny digital you keep in your pocket or a medium format monstrosity you use for a hobby, cameras have become an integral part of human life. With that in mind, let's take a trip down memory lane and talk a bit about where modern photography came from and what it has meant to our civilization.

One of the most amazing things about photographs is how heavily we depend on them to record our history and tell our stories, considering the fact that chemical photography is a relatively new science. The first permanent photo was created as recently as 1825 using pewter plates and a substance called "bitumen," and later photographs were printed on glass. Paper didn't actually become common until around 1888 thanks to the innovations of George Eastman.

In 1901, the Kodak Brownie camera was introduced to the public. This was the first time that photography was so easily accessible to the public, in terms of ease of use and cost. It was during this period of time that film developing really took off as an industry. It's incredible to think that something like getting film developed or emailing digital images, which we take for granted today, was a completely new concept just 100 years ago. The modern SLR camera has only been around for about 80 years, and even in that time frame it hasn't changed too much in terms of construction.

While black and white photography hasn't changed much since the early 1900's, color film has experienced dramatic advancements over this brief period of time. Though color photography had always been a concept chased by early photographers, color film and printing did not become widely accessible until well into the 20th century. Kodak's "Kodachrome" was introduced around 1935, but it would be a while before color film became the norm. One interesting thing about color film advancement is looking at how black and white film is still in wide use despite the introduction of color photographs; how many people do you know that still have a black and white television?

Of course, no discussion of photo history would be complete without discussing the digital revolution. This technology, which feels so familiar to us, has only been in wide use for about 15 years. The first "megapixel" sensor wasn't even developed until 1986, and now it's one of the most common words of our technological vocabulary. Though digital photography hasn't changed how we take pictures (point and shoot), it has had a huge impact in how we share our photographs with the world.

Photography is one of the primary ways in which we document our lives. A picture can be as simple as remembering a birthday party or as important as increasing awareness about a conflict on the other side of the world. They help add emotion and weight to the words of reporters as well as preserve our living history for generations to come. Every picture we take is living proof of human achievements, relationships, strengths, and weaknesses.


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