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At this time of the year, two of the things we love are the beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Here are a few tips to help you get better shots.

1. Gather the Proper Gear
Tripod. Sunrises and sunsets are low-light situations, so you want a steady base for your camera.
A wide angle lens is usually best to capture a more vast, sweeping portion of the scene. A zoom lens will let you experiment with the focal length and composition.
An ND grad filter to darken the scene and allow for longer shutter speeds, or to control the light in part of the scene.

2. Camera settings
For landscapes a smaller aperture such as f/8, f/11 or even higher will maximize the depth of field and generally capture a sharper image. A tripod will help here.
You could use your camera in full manual and expose 2-stops under to avoid over-exposing the sunlight. Or you can shoot in aperture priority mode (A/Av) which lets you lock in the aperture and the camera sets the shutter speed. Then you can adjust your cameras exposure compensation to fine tune the exposure and shoot the scene slightly under-exposed.
Use a low ISO such as 100 or 200, to ensure there isn’t a lot of grain or noise. A tripod will help here.

3. Compose with the Rule of Thirds.
This is a rule you can break and still have a stunning image. But following this rule will add interest and a bit of drama to your image. Rather than composing the horizon exactly in the middle of the photo, visualize two horizontal lines across your viewfinder (if your camera doesn't display a grid) and see which line the horizon looks best sitting on. Now look over the scene; what part is the most dramatic? Which part will you not focus on?
If you have a dark, cloudy sky that accentuates the sunlight, let that fill the top 2/3 of the scene. If you have an interesting foreground or landscape below the sun, let that fill the bottom 2/3 of the image. Use your camera's  inbuilt or your imaginary grid to place the sun, or other subjects on the points where the vertical lines meet the horizontal.

The idea is to draw the viewer into the horizon, and then let their eyes drift to the most dramatic part of the image.

4. Straighten up
Speaking of horizons, make sure it's straight! This is another reason why a tripod is so useful, you can set your camera angle to have the horizon straight, and keep it steady as you compose by small movements of the tripod head. Use the tripods bubble level if the head has one, or you may even have a level display in your camera.

5. Stick around a bit longer

After the sun drops below the horizon, the entire dynamic of a scene changes. Tones, colours and hues in the sky become more saturated and dramatic. Light will be low so you need to compensate by adjusting your exposure settings, but some of the most beautiful images can be shot right after the sun leaves the sky. The same can be said for the minutes before sunrise.

6. Experiment with your point of interest
One of the best ways to add mood and context to a picture is to try to include a silhouette into your shot. This could be something large like a mountain range or the Mount, a jetty, or the boats in our harbour, bays and estuaries. It could even be a person. 

Use flash or another light source to take a portrait in front of a sunset. Highlight the peaks on the early morning surf being hit by the sun. Are there dawn surfers you can capture? Even slow the shutter speed to get their movement. The more you experiment, the more you'll love this time of the day!

Embrace the hours and hours of sunshine on your days off and take lots of photos. Here are some ideas for your inspiration.

1. Start early

Really early. The days are so long that if you want to catch sunrise you've got to set that alarm! But it's worth the early wake up because a summer dawn can be amazing. Plan where you intend to go a day or two in advance. If you’re away on holiday, make the most of your chance to shoot a new location. If not, photograph the sunrise from a favourite spot.
Locations that contain water are ideal for dawn photography because the water mirrors the colours in the sky. Take a tripod and arrive at least half an hour before sunrise so you can capture the twilight glow in the sky.

2.Go structural

The sun gets to its highest point in the sky early in the day in summer, where it stays until around 5pm. On a clear day, the light can be very harsh and intense, and with the sun overhead, shadows are strong. If you like to shoot graphic images, strong sunlight is ideal. Buildings, bridges and other man-made structures look stunning on a clear summer’s day against deep blue skies, so head to the city and experiment with unusual viewpoints and wide angle lenses to create interesting compositions. Look for simple, abstract details and make the most of colour contrasts such as yellow and blue or red and green. Experiment with monochrome for these images as well.

3. A Polarizing Filter is your friend

A polarizer is a must for giving summer photos a good boost. It will deepen a blue sky and emphasize clouds, it will eliminate reflections and reduce glare so colour saturation is increased. To get the best effect on the sky, keep the sun on one side of the camera. Polarizers lose two stops of light, so keep an eye on your shutter speeds. A tripod will be handy if you need to stop the lens down, or you could increase the ISO so you can use a faster shutter speed.

Overcast early morning or evening light will evenly illuminate your subject, making it an ideal time of day for photography.

4. Shoot portraits in the shade

Summer light out in the open is harsh and unflattering, but if you step into the shade of a building, tree or doorway the light is soft, shadows are very weak and contrast is lower. Use a white ground or floor for a nice natural light reflector. Details and still life images also work much better in shade. If you’re in the open and no shade is available, holding something above your subject’s heads will work – an umbrella, diffuser or sheet of card. This technique also works well for close-ups of flowers.

5. Shoot silhouettes

Place a solid object between you and a bright background and you’ve got a silhouette. The object could be any simple, easily-identifiable shape such as a person, tree, boat or building and the background could be anything from a bright sunrise or sunset, or shimmering highlights on water. Mix and match as you like.

6. Shoot the shadows

Strong sunlight means strong shadows. When the sun’s high they’re short and are cast vertically down walls and doors. When the sun’s low they lie across the landscape. Use a telephoto lens to fill the frame with shadow patterns and make them your main subject, or use shadows as leading lines in wide angle shots.

7. Go on a picnic

A relaxed picnic puts people in a good mood, so it's easier to take some nice family portraits. If you take a tripod and use your self-timer or remote you can also get a few shots of the whole family together having fun. If you have a wireless remote, or your camera has Wi-Fi connectivity built-in so you can control it remotely via your phone, you can trip the shutter from within the scene. Arrange the family in dappled shade and use a flashgun to brighten faces up.

8. Make colours pop!

Summer is a time for lots of vibrant colour in the garden. It can be hard to take shots that reflect that with the hazy summer light. The best time for to maximize coolour is early in the morning or late in the afternoon. If the sun is too bright it washes everything out, so it's best to avoid garden photography when the sun is too bright (midday) as it rarely turns out well.

Have fun capturing your summer fun. Share your photos with us. Tag us @cartersphotographics #wherewillyourcameratakeyou

  • Camera with manual settings
  • Sturdy tripod (that can handle wind)
  • Cable release or remote with timer/lock
  • ND Filters (when shooting long exposures in the light)

1. Slow Down or Speed Up Your Shutter Speed
The amount of time that the camera’s shutter is open determines how much subject movement the camera’s image sensor will ‘see’. 
For example, if your shutter speed is fast (eg 1/4000th of a second) it will ‘freeze’ subject movement. If you select a longer shutter speed (eg 1/10th of a second) any movement your subject makes will produce ‘motion blur’.

Shutter speed: Choose fast to freeze and slow to smooth

Another thing to consider is how much light you want in your exposure.  A longer shutter speed lets more light into your camera, on the other hand fast shutter speeds reduce the light hitting the sensor. Too much light will over expose the image, but not enough light will leave your image dark and under exposed.
To help balance out your exposure while shooting in Manual mode, try adjusting your ISO settings and your aperture size to control the light.
Shutter Priority Mode is allows you to set just your shutter speed and the camera chooses other settings (like Aperture) to ensure the shot is well exposed. It’s a very handy mode to play with as it ensures you get the movement effect that you’re after but also generally well exposed shots. 
For super long exposures, you can reduce the light further by using an ND filter.

2. Panning

The basic idea behind 'panning' is that you pan your camera along with the moving subject before you shoot, so you get a sharp subject but a blurred background to give the image a feeling of movement and speed. It’s particularly useful for capturing fast moving subjects like a car, running pet, cyclist etc.Panning seems to work best with subjects moving in a straight line parallel to the camera or so that you can predict where they are moving to.
  • Select a slightly slower shutter speed than you normally do. 
  • Position yourself in a place where your view of the subject will not be obstructed by anyone or anything else.
  • Check the background. If there are distracting shapes or colors it could prove to be distracting in the final image. 
  • As the subject approaches track it with your cameraFor extra support, use a monopod or tripod with a panning head.
  • Use your focus tracking function to let the camera do the focusing for you as you track your subject by half pressing the shutter button (depending upon it’s speed and whether it can keep up with the subject). If your camera doesn’t have fast enough auto focus you’ll need to pre-focus your camera on the spot that you’ll end up releasing the shutter.
  • Keep panning momentarily after you take the shot to allow for any lag your camera may have, so you will have a smooth shot.

3. Slow Sync Flash
This function sets your camera to shoot with both a longer shutter speed as well as firing the flash. This means you get a sharp image of your main subject as well as some ambient light from the background and foreground.Your camera might let you manually set exposure length and flash strength but on many compact cameras it’s preset as an automatic shooting mode, often called ‘night mode’ where the camera selects the slower shutter speed and flash strength for you.

If your camera lets you control the flash manually, it might give you a couple of options, either 'rear curtain sync' or 'front curtain sync'. These basically let you decide when to fire your flash during the long exposure.
Rear curtain tells your camera to fire at the end of the exposure. When you press the shutter the exposure begins, light hits your sensor or film and just before the shutter closes your flash fires, freezing your subject, but leaving a trail from where the movement started.
Front curtain is the opposite. the flash will fire when press the shutter, then your shutter will remain open for the duration of the selected exposure. The movement of the subject will be captured after the freeze.

Both techniques can give your image a real impact.

4. Zooming

You can add motion by zooming (physically rotating) your lens during the exposure. Use an exposure of around 1 second, or even longer to make it easier. A tripod is important for a shutter speed like this. Zoom in and lock focus on the main part of your subject first. Back button focus is very helpful here if you have that capability on your camera. As the focal length changes, it can result in an abstract effect, and is great fun to experiment with.

Enjoy this challenge, keep experimenting. Upload your results to our enter our challenge. We'd love to see what you come up with!

5 tips to get you started...


  • Camera with manual settings, including 'Bulb'
  • Sturdy tripod (that can handle wind)
  • Cable release or remote with timer/lock
  • Extra battery if possible, because long exposures and cold weather decrease battery power
  • Lens hood to avoid peripheral light leaks
  • A timer (like on a phone) if not on your remote
  • Small flashlight, headlamp (or phone) so you can see what you're doing
  • Powerful flashlight with adjustable beam for painting, or for 'steel wool' photography: steel wool, gloves, string, a metal whisk and a lighter (take extreme care with this technique, it can be dangerous)
  • Warm clothes, preferably black

  • Shoot in RAW if you can
  • Set your White balance to suit your light source. Try 'Tungsten' or 'Flourescent'
  • Set your focus to 'one shot' focus, you don't want it to 'track'
  • Attach your camera to tripod and turn off 'IS' or 'VR' on the lens 
  • Set the shooting mode to 'Bulb' and your exposure mode to 'Manual'
  • Keep your ISO at 100 or 200 if you can, to minimize noise
  • Aperture: start off at f5.6 and then adjust it when testing your exposure to control your depth of field
  • Shutter Speed is best on 'Bulb' so you can expose longer than 30seconds
  • Take a test shot, and make sure your exposure's a little on the dark side 


Try to get away from 'light pollution'. A bright full moon or city lights will interfere with your light painting, because your camera will record any light entering the lens.
Do you want to 'paint' around a subject? Or do you want to paint patterns? Look for a subject that will look interesting 'painted'.
If you want to try 'steel wool' photography (pictured) you will need to be sure to find a location near water, like the beach, and far from dry grass or anything that could catch fire. It would be good to get the needed permission before you start.

Get a buddy to light up your subject with the flashlight and focus your lens. Once you've set the focus, use your focus lock feature to keep it there, or focus manually and don't touch the lens once it's set.

If you're ready to shoot, turn off your headlamp or phone light, and be ready with your light source for painting. Hit the shutter button on your cable release and lock it there while someone times the exposure. Because you're wearing black, you can move in and out of the scene as you 'paint'. Keep moving with the light to avoid bright hot spots. Adjust the beam on the flashlight to change the effect, and create interest. The closer the light source is to the subject, the sharper the 'painting' lines will be.

Once you've taken your first shot, keep experimenting. Share your results with us. We'd love to see what you come up with!

What is Reflection Photography?

Reflection photography is when you use reflective surfaces to create an artistic image of a scene. Reflections come in many different forms, from dramatic landscapes to detailed macro. So here are a few basic techniques to help you achieve better results when photographing reflections.

You will need:

  • Camera.
  • Wide Angle Lens (recommended but not necessary). Technically, any lens will work for reflection photography. A wide angle lens will allow you to capture more in your image. A zoom lens or a prime lens may be better suited depending on what you plan to photograph, so it’s a good idea to keep a couple of different lenses with you.
  • Tripod (for shooting in low light or with slow shutter speeds).
  • Shutter Release Cable (for long exposures).
  • A polarizing filter will help you to control the amount of surface shine from the water.
  • A graduated neutral density filter will help ensure that the sky isn't overexposed. It also allows longer shutter speeds, so water in your scene is smoother.
  • Props are also a great way to add your own creative twist. For example, a glass orb can be added to create a spherical reflection. Antique mirrors are also a great prop to bring a whimsical vibe into your images.

Depth of field

Select a high f-number such as f/11 or higher, the way the eye perceives the subject at this depth of field will enhance the reflection effect.


Try focusing on the subject, then trying focusing on the reflection. This can produce quite varied results and will affect how much attention you draw to the reflection. Try getting in close and crop to details of a scene. 


Think about the angle of the light and how it affects the reflection. Explore different viewpoints to find the angle at which the reflection is most effective.
When looking for reflections in water and landscapes, go when the light is at it's best, either early in the day before the sun is high in the sky, or in the evening as the sun is setting. Experiment with slightly longer shutter speeds to smooth out the water.

Scout out The Right Location

The most common reflective surface is water, but that doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself to only water-based locations. Reflection photography can be created anywhere. It can be inspiring to take a moment to look for reflective surfaces.
Arrive at the location early enough to check out cloud coverage and the sun’s position. Since reflection photography is all about the light reflecting off of objects, these are important aspects to take into consideration before shooting. Observe your surroundings for any polished surfaces that catch the eye. Once you uncover a good location, take the time to view it from different angles and find the best approach.

Shiny surfaces

There are plenty of reflective surfaces that we encounter in everyday life such as mirrors, glass, metal, ceramic tiles and even varnished wood. 
Shiny surfaces like these don't absorb light, so if using artificial lighting, think carefully about the amount and angle of the light on your surface. You may want to experiment with lighting from above or behind your subject. This also applies to the use of flash, which will probably be limited as the light will often just bounce straight back at you.
Check that your surface is clear of scratches and fingerprints, especially when focusing in on detail within the reflection. Flat surfaces are easier to work with, as they will give more complete reflections.


Puddles are often overlooked, but are usually shallow and found in protected areas, which means that they are likely to hold smooth, still water. They also provide a variety of options for subjects and compositions.
The trick with capturing amazing reflection is to get down low to get as close to the surface of the puddle as possible. This also makes small puddles look bigger. Use your hand or a tripod to steady your camera and keep it out of contact with the water. 
Wet roadways or stone paving and pillars often become highly reflective when wet. Be on the look out just after it rained for some unique reflection opportunities.

The variety of potential shots is huge with reflections, get out there and explore the places you go daily and capture them!

Embrace the cold. Capture the beautiful winter scenery around you.

Try these 5 tips for taking better landscape photos in winter.

For photographing in cold weather, you will need to make sure you're dressed appropriately. Landscape photography takes time, so you want to be comfortable.

·         Wear water-proof shoes.

·         Bring warm gloves with you.

·         Take a tripod - when the light is low, you need to be able to shoot at slower shutter speeds.

·         Make sure your batteries are fully charged. The cold drains them faster than usual. 

·         Pop an umbrella in the boot too, just in case you're going to shoot some awesome wet weather landscapes.

Lead the viewer into your image by using natural or structural lines, such as a ray of sunlight, a fence line, tyre tracks and rows of trees. Place them in your frame in a way that draws the viewers eye to what you want them to look at. No lines in your scene? Make tracks of your own. For instance, try carefully walking over frosty grass to make a trail into your image. 

There are tons of patterns in nature. Add interest by bringing out patterns in your landscapes. You might find them in the details or in the entire landscape.

  • Look for repetition of shapes, like the way a line of trees grow, or a stack of mountain ridges creating rugged lines in the distance.
  • Is there symmetry in the scene? 
  • Can you see interesting spacing of elements in your view?
  • Look for elements that break the pattern too, for example, one tree that grows different from the rest. This will give your image a focal point.
  • Look for any colours that create patterns.
  • They don't have to be still patterns, look at passing clouds - is there a repeating shape? Or a flock of birds - what formation are they flying in?

Landscapes don't have to be colourful to pack a punch. By shooting in monochrome you can emphasize lines and shapes, create a mood and emphasize contrasts.
Keep your exposures bright for highlighting snow and ice, but bring them down if you want to create mood and bring out texture in your image.
Also try long-exposures while in monochrome mode, this will give you some dreamy results.
Throw on some filters, like a polarizer, or a neutral density to control the light and contrast.

Winter sunrises are gorgeous. But that's not the only reason to start early. 

  • Early in the day, there might be fog or mist still around, which adds beautiful depth to images.
  • The sun is low, so the light is directional, giving more definition and texture to subjects.
  • It's not all about wide-angles, think about getting up close to capture details, like dew on a bare twig, or frost on a flower, and ice patterns. If you have a macro lens, you'll love looking for details even more.
  • The sun rises later in winter, so you don't have to get up too early!

Taking a photo walk can be a creativity boost for any photographer. Even if you’re not a street photographer, doing a walk for fun is another way you can hone your skills. So here are 5 ways to improve your street photography:

Wondering what to photograph? Simply choose a theme. It could be a series of a certain type of object or architecture, or maybe a concept or study on something you see around you on the streets in your city. Look around you when you head out and see if you can develop a theme based on what you see.

Take time to look for ways to add interest to your images. For example, you could try:
  • Looking for reflections
  • Look for light vs shadow
  • Look for shapes, lines and patterns
  • Shoot from above
  • Shoot from below
  • Frame your subject
  • Find symmetry or asymmetry
  • Look for colour
  • Play with depth of field

What have you been wanting to experiment with? Are you wanting to take a new lens for a good spin? Have you used all the features packed into your camera? Or maybe you've seen something you've always wanted to try, like long exposure of traffic light trails, or black and white architecture etc. Head out with those things in mind and give them a try.  

Capture the life and culture of where you are from. Even if there are not many people, capture shots of life without people. Walk around your city or suburb looking for candid life moments.You know these areas well so you can show their meaning and tell a story.

It is winter, and the warmth of inside is calling, but for street photos with a difference, embrace the bad weather. The elements - such as rain, fog, or frost - can turn a good photo into an amazing one. Layer up, and pack a flask.

Go with another photographer and share other photo tips with each other. You will enjoy your expedition even more, and come back creativity charged! 


Monochrome portraits can make a very strong portrait, tell a story or convey deep emotion because they help the viewer focus on the people. The contrast and deep tones of a monochrome image can make it very expressive, full of meaning, depth and mood.

How to do it:

  • Set your camera's shooting mode to Monochrome
  • Shoot in RAW and jpg. This means you have more flexibility for fine tuning things like skin tones later
  • Use 'Live View' to compose your portrait and preview the lighting
  • Look for contrast, shape and texture. These give monochrome images their power
  • Set your exposure for whites to create a low key, moody image (under-expose)
  • To bring detail out in the mid tones and shadows or create a high key look, expose for the blacks (over-expose)
  • Focus on the eyes particularly if your subject is looking at the camera
  • Control the contrast with your light source. For more contrast and strong shadows, choose a harder source of light, or bring it closer to your subject
  • If you like soft tones and subtle shadows, then you want a softer light source

Autumn’s here and there’s no better time to go for a walk with your camera. We've composed a quick list of 6 simple ways to help you at this beautiful time of year to take fabulous photos you'll be proud of.

Look for the simple beauty in a single leaf or highlight it’s colours by looking for contrasts. Try a close up of the details in just part a leaf.

Show off the colours in an entire scene with a wide angle lens. Shoot from a lower viewpoint and try to avoid sky (unless it's blue) to prevent fringing.

Take advantage of all those leaves in the backyard. Photograph leaf fights. Rake leaves into heaps and have fun. This allows opportunity for spontaneous portraits of kids and adults alike.

Filters can bring out rich colors by eliminating the reflections that desaturate them. They can deepen the blue in the sky, or water, increase contrast, or stop light to allow for slow shutter speeds.

Shoot the scene with the light behind the subject for vibrant colours and to show leaf detail. Use spot metering and increase your exposure by one stop.

For warm, bright reds and yellows, take photos on a sunny day just before sunset or after sunrise when the sun is low in the sky, and the light is warm. Shoot on landscape mode, or at f/11, with a tripod.

Summer time is a great time to get snappy!  With the ability to take so many photos, what are the best ways to keep them safe and organized? What if your device or hard drive fails, or if photos are accidentally deleted? We've compiled a list of 5 ways you can make sure your photos will be both safely archived and easily accessible for years to come.

1.  Backup your images regularly.  

It's hard to keep track of how many photos we take, but the best way to ensure they are saved somewhere other than our camera or device is to schedule a regular upload, like once a week, or immediately after an important event or holiday.
Methods vary, but some common ways to download images to your computer are card-readers, USB cables and wireless transfers. Alternatively, images can be easily uploaded to cloud software. This has many advantages. You can schedule automatic backups, and view your images from your device when connected to the internet, and use this storage space as a backup if you're computer or device crashes.

2. Archive on portable hard-drives.  

Don't rely solely on your computer or cloud software for keeping your back up safe. It is a good idea to use external hard drives to hold your images. Many of these portable devices are compact and easy to store. It's best to keep multiple copies of your back ups, to back up to them regularly, and check them often to make sure they are still ok. Only use good quality hard drives. Always keep one of the hard drives at a separate, safe location in case of unforeseen occurrence.

3. Backup on USB Drives.  

USB drives (memory sticks) are ready available and affordable. Like backing up to hard drives, more than one copy should be kept, and checked regulary.  They can be used in printing kiosks, and will load faster since they will not be storing so many photos. Quality makes a big difference, cheap drives may mean cheap manufacture and more prone to falilure. Always check your drive has backed up correctly after each backup.

4. Organize your photos.  

Each time you save your images, develop the habit of organizing them. This will spare you from a big job down the track, and you will find it easy to locate particular images again. An easy way to organize them is to create a folder for each year and then inside that each month, and a new subfolder each time. Name it something like this: "Year_Month_Date_Description" (eg. 2016_01_10_New Years Holiday. Then back it up to your external hard drives or USB drives.

5. Print your photos.  

Prints will ensure a hard copy and that your photo will be enjoyed. Use an online service or a store kiosk. Look for a printing lab that knows it's stuff, and can deliver good quality prints. Ask if they offer a hand-printing service for those special occasion photos. Frame your photos, or put them on display as canvas prints
Why not put together a photo book at the end of each year featuring the best moments of that year? When you're saving your images, create another folder called 'The best of the Year' and save the your favourites in it as you go.

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