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Shoot a stunning sunset

Ensure an even exposure using a graduated Neutral Density filter

Getting exposure right can be tricky when shooting sunsets because the sky tends to be two or three stops brighter than the foreground. For example, if the meter reading for the ground is 1 sec at f/16, a three-stop difference means the sky will need a setting of 8 secs at f/16.

The best solution to this problem is to fit a graduated Neutral Density filter (ND grad) to your lens. Graduated filters come in various strengths and are spilt so that one half is clear. This half sits over the ground area, and the filtered area at the top should be lined up with the horizon and cover the sky.

Professional landscape photographer Adam Burton used a three-stop ND grad to capture this sunset in the New Forest National Park late one summer s day. "I selected this filter not to enhance the sky, but rather to enable the camera to capture the sky as it was," he says.

"It didn t affect the colours, it just reduced the exposure value by three stops."

Of course, to capture a sunset image like this you re also going to have to be patient and wait for the perfect lighting conditions. "Although you can shoot throughout the day, the most atmospheric images are usually captured at the end of the day," Adam advises.

"Ensure you arrive on location prepared for these moments and the pictures will come to you."

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Pack a tripod, wide-angle lens and an ND grad filter in your kit bag.

Keep the horizon of the scene straight and line up the transition between clear and grey so that the grey part just kisses the horizon.

Set a narrow aperture of around f/16 and keep the ISO low at 100.

Look for objects or landmarks that can be silhouetted against the sky. In this case, the tree draws the eye through the scene.

Capture colourful summer still-lifes

Photograph seasonal food and flowers

You may think that you need lots of fancy studio equipment to capture professional-looking still-life shots like those pictured above, but that s not the case. "It s all about how you control the light," explains still-life photographer Nicholas Rigg.

"I shot thegerbera (flower) image simply using natural light from a skylight positioned overhead and a ringflash attached to my lens.

I often use ringflash in my still-life photography because it produces an even light and eliminates any harsh, ugly shadows."

Nicholas puts up boards either side of his set-ups so light can t filter away. "You have to be creative when it comes to laying out the objects within the frame, and how you use materials," he explains. "You needn t spend a fortune-there are many cheap alternative materials that you can use to your advantage, such as greaseproof paper to diffuse the light.

"I have everything in my studio you could possibly think of-from pieces of black-and white card to reflect and stop light, to a pack of small mirrors, which are great for bouncing light back onto your subject."

Finally, Nicholas says that if you re going to try shots like the cream splash you should make sure you use a telephoto lens and have a cloth to hand. "I took this shot at 200mm, because I didn t want to get cream all over my camera and lens!"

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Use colourful backdrops. Experiment with alternative (and cheap) materials such as gingham, Perspex, greaseproof paper and textured material for interesting results.

Set the aperture to around f/14 to keep the background and object in focus.

A CowboyStudio O-Ring Rash can be fixed to an external flash unit and costs in the regio of ?25 if you shop around online. This is a cost-effective solution if you already have an external flashgun.

Sea of tranquillity

Shoot colourful seascapes when day turns to dusk

When the sea is calm and the sun is low in the sky at dusk, try to capture a tranquil shot like the one pictured below. Landscape photographer David Clapp photographed this seascape sunset at Land s End in Cornwall late in the evening last year.

"I set up my camera in this prime position after spending some time scouting the area, and I deliberately included some native wild flowers in the foreground to add interest," he says. "If you take a trip to Land s End in August the heather is in full bloom and it is absolutely spectacular to photograph "

To ensure the image was evenly exposed, David took two exposures of the scene-one of the foreground and one of the background-because the meter readings in his camera were different for each. "I then merged them together in Photoshop, and added a pink graduated filter," he explains.

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Take a tripod and use a remote control or set the camera to self-timer to avoid accidentally knocking the camera during the long exposure, and blurring shots.

Bracket the shot, taking two or three images using different exposure settings for each, and then merge the best bits of all three to produce an even exposure.

Use a polarising filter to eliminate any glare from the sea and land.

Shoot a high-key portrait

Blow-out highlights and boost contrast for stunning effects

When the sun is high in the sky, take advantage and shoot a high-key portrait. The key to getting a shot like the one below is finding a suitable location, but that doesn t mean it has to be picture-perfect, as lifestyle photographer Robert Hooper says.

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"This image was actually taken in a lay-by," he explains, "but I saw the wildflowers growing there and knew it would make for a great portrait if I just limited which parts of the background could be seen."

To capture this shot Robert set his camera to Aperture Priority mode with Exposure Compensation set to +2/3. "This was to ensure that Millie s face was correctly exposed," Robert says. "She has beautiful long blonde

hair, so I faced her away from the light so I could shoot back into it. I knew this would produce a lovely backlight, with the added bonus that she wouldn t have to squint from looking directly into the sun."

For a shot like this, a bit of blow-out on the highlights in the hair is fine, says Robert. "You ll also want to get an assistant to hold a reflector,

to direct some light back into the face, because it will be thrown into shadow."

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Shoot using a long lens and keep the aperture wide  in order to blur the background and eliminate distractions.

Fill in the shadows using a reflector or flash.

Photographing children can be difficult, but it s important to make them feel comfortable. Don t ask them to smile, because they ll just grin falsely at the camera.

At the editing stage, use Curves and Levels in Photoshop to bring out the highlights and increase the vibrancy of the colours in the scene to produce a high-key effect

I Capture in-flight action

Hide out and wait to get fabulous wildlife shots this summer

Understanding the habits and habitats of the bird you are photographing is key to getting a successful shot. "To capture this kingfisher fishing, I set up a hide with fellow photographer Mark Hancox," says wildlife photographer Danny Green. "We already knew there were kingfishers nesting in these banks next to the stream because there was a steady flow of fish, and we had been observing the spot for a while."

Animals are creatures of habit, so once you re familiar with how they behave you can set up your camera. From observing this

kingfisher Danny saw that there was one spot in the stream where the bird would come to fish. "I set up my camera a few inches above the flow of water in a sturdy spot," he says. "I then manually focused the lens to where I guessed the bird was going to be."

Danny and Mark then hid in the hide. "I used a remote control and natural light to take the shot," says Danny. "To give me the best chance of capturing the kingfisher I set my camera to fire off a sequence of images in its continuous burst mode. You need a lot of patience and dedication to get a shot like this."

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Pack your tripod, long lens and a remote shutter release.

Set the camera to its continuous burst mode to fire off a sequence of images.

Set the shutter speed to a fast setting of around 1/3000 sec and keep the aperture between f/8 and f/4 so the background is blurred and doesn t distract from the main foreground action.

If you re interested in bird and wildlife photography, check out Danny Green s courses-www.dannygreenphotography.com.

Slow down time

The easy way to get silky smooth water shots

Blurring moving water can be tricky in bright sunlight: even if you set your camera to its lowest ISO and your lens to its smallest aperture, you still might not be able to achieve a slow enough shutter speed to get the extreme effect you re after.

"If you do try to set a slow enough shutter speed," explains landscape pro Tom Mackie, "your image is likely to be over-exposed. The answer is to use a filter to block out some light. To take this shot, I used a Lee Big Stopper ND filter,

which blocks out ten stops of light. This meant I was able to set an exposure time of 26 secs at f/10 and ISOIOO."

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Set up your camera on a sturdy tripod and ensure the camera is sheltered.

Set the ISO on your camera to a low setting of around 100 and keep the aperture narrow to reduce the light.

Check the histogram on the camera s rear screen as you shoot to ensure you retain detail on the water s highlights.

Rise for sunrise

Use atmospheric elements and layers to add impact to scenics

Getting out of bed before the sunrise in the summer months may be difficult, but you ll be pleasantly surprised by the results if you do. At sunrise you re more likely to encounter atmospheric mist, and there are far less people around to get in your way.

"When it comes to landscape photography, one of the best assets you can have is patience," says Australian rock climbing and landscape photographer Adam Sebastian West. "A lot of wandering around is required, to find the right scene and light. It also takes a certain degree of commitment to put yourself

in conditions that aren t that comfortable.

A willingness to shoot in these tough environments can result in you capturing truly wonderful photographic images, and having some incredible experiences too."

Adam took this image in New Zealand in a place called Castle Hill. "It was kind of planned," he says. "I knew I wanted to shoot at sunrise and I had an idea of the scene I knew I could capture. However, you can only anticipate or plan what Mother Nature will provide to a certain degree. I drove through heavy fog to get to the location, and I decided to stop and wait

 like this

for a while for it to lift. It wasn t long at all before it started to clear and reveal some really beautiful layered features and silhouettes."

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Look for layers when composing your shot. Adam s image uses five effective layers-the sky, mountains, mist, trees and ground.

Pack a wide-angle lens that will help you to capture the whole picture.

At the editing stage, deepen the shadows using a Levels adjustment. This will help to enhance the silhouettes of the trees.

08 Take to the seas

Board a boat and capture cracking images at the helm

When shooting at sea you re likely to encounter a few technical difficulties. Firstly, if the sun is shining, glare from the sea and boat will make exposure tricky. You may need to over-expose the scene by a stop to avoid bright, reflective seas looking too dark.

You should also pack a polarising filter to reduce glare from the sea and prevent any reflections bouncing back from the boat from appearing in your shots. Set your camera to a fast shutter speed of 1/2000 sec or above to compensate for the movement of the boat.

Needless to say, it s much easier to shoot when the sea is calm. Finally, remember to keep your neck strap securely attached; if you drop your camera overboard it will sink in an instant!

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Protect your camera from seawater damage by encasing it in a protective sleeve, and have a lens cloth to hand to remove water drops.

Head to Weymouth and Portland, where there are opportunities to take sailing shots


S 09 Take poolside portraits

Use these pro tips to capture a fashionable retro portrait

example complement the model s clothes. All the elements work together and for this reason attention to detail should never be overlooked.

"This image is a combination of natural ambient light and flash. We used a single Speedlight with an Orbis ringflash adapter f  to modify the light. Don t work

with big lights next to a pool-electrics and water don t mix!"

•he location of a portrait shoot is one of the most important things to consider.  The right location can add so much character and depth to your shot," says photographer Dave Kai Piper.

"The small blue tiles and the wooden edge in this

As the flash light from the Orbis ringflash can t travel a great distance, Dave advises shooting your model at close proximity, shooting from a variety of angles and keeping strong eye contact. "You want to pace yourself on a shoot like this and engage with the person you are photographing/  he says. "Worry about the subject, not the camera, and show them what you are working towards so you have a joint goal in mind."

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 Think about hair, make-up, clothes, settings and how these elements will work together.

 Use a prime lens such as a 50mm f/1.4 for sharp features and blurred backgrounds.

 The eyes are the most important element in

your portrait, so keep the focus on them.

Take our latest photo challenge

Be in with a chance of winning a Lowepro rucksack worth ?150 by taking part in our sports-themed shooting challenge

The London 2012 Olympic Games are just about to begin, so what better subject to be inspired by than sports?

Sports photographer Bob Martin has photographed every major event you could think of over the past 33 years, including 13 summer and winter Olympics. This year, he s been appointed the photo chief for London 2012. So what s his advice for nailing top sports shots? on the background," he says. "A bad background with a great action moment will only ever result in an OK image. Fill the frame with the action for a dynamic result."

If you re lucky enough to be attending an event at this summer s Games, ensure you pack a telephoto lens. If you don t have a ticket,

then there are plenty of sporting events taking place around the country in July and August. See page 67 for more ideas and inspiration.

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 Set your camera to its continuous burst mode. Switch the IS setting on your lens off, as it will slow down the autofocusing speed.

 Set the AF mode to Al Servo. This is the best autofocus setting for tracking moving subjects (see page 62, and this issue s disc, for more).

 Unless you re panning you should keep the shutter speed at 1/1000 sec or faster.

 Compensate for low light by increasing the ISO. It s better to have a noisy image than one in which the subject is blurred.

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