Freelance Photographer

How to Guide

150 ways to spend your weekend…



How Do You Shoot Landscape Images?

After receiving another request via Flickr on how to shoot landscape images that seem to “pop”, I thought I would just jot down some of my basic ideas for your reference:

I am self taught and have stumbled many many times in getting the right pics and sometimes return home to find that everything I shot is not worth posting, or I forgot to check my camera settings, or left the battery on the charger, the base plate for the camera/tripod at home or the filters on the desk in the office. It’s hard to get it right and its very rewarding when you do.

I have always had a passion for photography from a very young age (6) & my Tato (grandfather) was a professional photographer – always had his camera in hand when we went out.

I moved to a Canon DSLR in 2005 and also got some cheap EFS lenses, some cost about $1000 each for the zoom lenses. I shot on auto settings, but started to understand that the better quality camera/lenses, the better the photos. I could not stress strongly enough, buy the best equipment you can afford as its more expensive to buy cheap equipment now, get frustrated with the results, sell on eBay for 10% (if not professional gear) and then buy the equipment you should have purchased in the first place. Professional camera equipment will last a lifetime and longer (I have my grandfather’s original film equipment and dark room gear and it all still works, the lenses are mint). They also resell for say 80% of purchase price on eBay if you look after your gear.

I started learning off Flickr from the EXIF data you can find on photos under Actions, EXIF – it tells you what they shot with – camera body, lens, what software they used to process and how long the exposure times were and f/stop settings. Then I found a shot I loved, wrote down the settings, got on the same location and tried to replicate the image. Once you have mastered the technique, you can then go and scope your own unique locations and these are the images you may want to sell, never replicate a professional photographer’s portfolio then try to sell it – its just not ethical.

Check out my photostream on Flickr: and if interested in knowing how any of the shots were taken, go to ACTION, view EXIF data and write it down, print out a small black and white image and go and try it yourself.

I have found that your photos are only as good as your lenses and the amount of time you take to dial in the correct settings, composition and small amounts of post processing (get it right in the camera on location and tweak it ever so slightly in Adobe).

MY GEAR: a list of my current gear pack can be found on this blog under HOW TO GUIDE, titled GEAR UP

SETTINGS which I use to start from and then adjust accordingly.

PORTRAIT: AV setting, f2.8

LANDSCAPE: Manual setting, f/13 or higher (ie f/18), not f/2.8 ISO100

NIGHT SHOOTING: Bulb setting, f4 or f8, ISO400, 6.5 mins to 8 mins to test your first shot – best under a new moon, not a full moon as the foreground will be overexposed. You can stack your star trails photos with some free software:

When adjusting for correct exposure its best not to compromise your ISO which should be set at ISO100 for less grainy images.  If shooting landscape I set my f stop at 13 then see what shutter speed I need for the correct exposure.  If shooting seascapes, and I want my shutter speed to be 1.3 secs for the misty water movement, I will adjust my f/stop or my ISO, if necessary – depending on how far out in the distance I want sharp.  If I don’t have much in the distance to keep in focus, I can drop my f/stop down to say f/8 or f/5.6 but would not option this over adjusting my ISO slightly.

If you adjust one setting once correctly exposed, you need to adjust another setting to keep the exposure the same.  For example, if shooting ISO100, f/13, 1.3 secs and I wanted to change the shutter speed to a slower setting, I would move my f stop to f/14 and move my shutter speed to 1.6 secs and if you use your live view on the camera, you will notice that the exposure is the same.  Visa versa, if you wanted a faster shutter speed, you would move your shutter speed from 1.3 secs to 1 sec and the f/stop from f/13 to f/11.  One click one way on one setting, needs a click the other way on another setting.  You can adjust the ISO, f/stop &/or shutter speed depending on how you want your image captured.


Always as a rule of thumb, focus 1/3 of the way into your scene.  Focus with your eye on the eyepiece not through your live view.  Once its sharp and you check your manual camera settings to ensure you are f/13 or higher, then your landscape image, if correctly exposed should give you the results you were after.


I shoot in RAW and JPG at the same time with my Canon 5D Mark II.  I only process my RAW files through Adobe Photoshop CS5 and manipulate most of my image in RAW processing.  The final tweaks I do to my images are with layers adjusting 1) colour selection adjusting the cyan on each colour – mainly red, blue, cyan, neutral, white, 2) gamma/exposure, 3) shadows and highlights, 4) contrast.  To finalise the image for web viewing:

Hope that gives you an insight into how I shoot and process some of my images.  Its all about getting out there and practicing.  Get your composition right, learn about the rule of thirds then disregard it if its not working, but at least know about it, learn about colour processing for Adobe and the difference between ProPhoto and sRGB colour spaces, learn to hate some of your images and put them into archive and try again.  Don’t believe everything you hear about photography, do what you feel is right and you will get some amazing results if you stick with it and practice.  Get frustrated with the post processing and then learn that its better to get it right in the camera than in the computer afterwards.  Use Adobe Photoshop as your darkroom and don’t just post images you have just shot live out of the camera.  Put your finishing touches on it to a level that you would be proud to have it printed and hanging in a public space for all to see.  Most of all, enjoy your camera, get it off AUTO and start using the M setting.

I am also available for one-on-one landscape training sessions on location from scoping a location, setting up the composition, shooting it wrong, then shooting it the right way, processing on the Mac on location, providing you with a finished image to take home or to the printers to get printed and hang on your wall. Once you get the process its simple from thereon. You can contact me via email: I find that once you are shown, its much easier than taking pages of notes down with you and trying to figure it out, it can get very frustrating…

Happy Photographing!!!

Disclaimer: this is my perspective of how to shoot landscape images, you may have your own and that is fine too – every photographer is different and we all get different results.

Gear Up!

I am constantly asked what my photography gear pack is made up of, so I have compiled a list of it below (& my wish list too):

My current pack
  • Canon 5D Mark II
  • Canon EF 24-70mm 1:2.8L USM lens w’ hood (wide angle)
  • Canon EF 16-35mm 1:2.8L II USM lens w’ hood (wide angle)
  • Canon EF 100mm 1:2.8L IS USM lens w’ hood (macro)
  • Lee Soft Graduated Filters 0.3, 0.6, 0.9 100x150mm Resin
  • Lee 10 Big Stopper
  • Lee 77mm Ring Adaptor
  • Lee 82mm Ring Adaptor
  • Lee Foundation Kit
  • Hoya Filter Circular Polarizing 77mm
  • Hoya PRO1 Digital Filter Circular Polarizing 82mm
  • Manfrotto 055CXPRO4 Carbon Fibre Tripod
  • Manfrotto Levelling Base 338
  • Manfrotto 808RC4 Ball Head
  • Canon Timer Remote Controller TC-80N3
  • Canon Speedlite 430EX
  • Lowepro Pro Runner 300 AW


  • Beanie
  • Scarpa gortex boots
  • Thermal shirt & socks
  • Scarf
  • Windproof jacket
  • LED torch
  • Compass
  • Lanyard
  • Screwdriver – phillips and standard
  • Lip gloss
  • Gloves – fingerless
  • Thermarest self-inflating seat
  • iPhone for tidal apps, sunrise/set, moonrise times, gps, weather apps, etc…
  • Petzl head torch

My wishlist

  • Canon EF 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6L IS USM Autofocus Lens
  • Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM Autofocus Lens
  • Canon TS-E 17mm f/4L Manual Focus Lens for EOS
  • Canon 500mm f/4L IS

My Suppliers

Grey vs Local Stock?

  • Don’t be worried about buying imported stock – the warranties are valid, Canon will service your product and if you insure your gear, then why worry?  A $2000 AUD lens can be $1250 AUD if negotiated correctly and you save $750 AUD buying from DWI or B&H.  If insurance costs you 5% of product cost or you save 37.5% buying an import, then the risk (for me) far outweighs arranging postage of sending the item to either Canon Australia, or the supplier.  More money saved, more gear you can buy!  Have never had any problems with any of my gear purchased local or overseas and these are trusted suppliers.

Manfrotto 338 Levelling Base – Drilled Out

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When you start connecting your equipment to your tripod, it weighs close to a tonne before you start trekking down to the rock face or beach for a shoot – I recently added the Manfrotto 338 Levelling Base under the ball head on my carbon fibre tripod and it just got ridiculous.  I got the majority of the base drilled out in this metal monster.  It looks trick and has lost about 60% of the weight – might make it easier next time I’m hiking out on location.  Just hope I don’t have to warranty claim on it for some unknown reason – they might not take it back…. 🙂 Stoked!!!

Camera Equipment Insurance

A few recent events of equipment being stolen has prompted me to take out insurance on my camera gear – body, lenses, tripod, filters, etc… I don’t think I would want to afford to replace it should it get stolen, lost or swept into the ocean on a seascape shoot.  I rang an insurance company anonymously and requested a quote for Business Insurance.  They quoted me $1518/annum to include cover on equipment and mandatory public liability insurance – which I don’t need as I am already covered under my other business.  He asked me what I thought & I said it was ridiculous, the gear was being covered at 9% of cost.  I then thanked him, hung up and rang back the same company and requested a quote for Portable Contents Cover to piggy back my current home and contents policy.  After going through each item piece by piece with receipts in hand, I ended up with a quote of an additional $14/month, approximating $168/annum, with a $100 excess per claim, I’d even claim on a damaged Lee Big Stopper 10 at this price.  I took out the cover immediately and thanked him for his co-operation.  Little did he know, I just spoke to him 5 minutes ago and received a quote on the exact same gear (which he asked for no specific detail on) at a much higher price.  Don’t wait for your gear to get stolen or lost, insure it now for less than the price of one filter from Lee and don’t stress about it anymore.  I have scanned my receipts to pdf files just in case I lose my originals…

Adding Borders and Text to Images for Web

I’ve recently had a few requests on how to put the black border on & text on images.  I use Photoshop CS5 Extended and once the image has been processed, I select:

 1. Image, Image Size, Resolution 72 pixels/inch (for web quality viewing)

 2. Image, Canvas Size, In the new size section select Relative box, then 5cm in each box, then canvas extension colour – black, OK

 3. Image, canvas size, in the new size section ensure relative box is still checked, put 5cm in the height box, then select the upwards middle arrow once, extension colour black, ok, now you have your black box. Next step – add text.

 4. On the right hand size, select the T – horizontal type tool, choose your font, and size, and colour then type what you want – position it down the bottom of the image – ensure you centre it by selecting the background layer and the text layer (using CTRL key) then on the menu, Layer, align, horizontal centres – this should ensure the text is centred at the bottom in relation to the image. Now you may want to put a visual copyright on the image. To do this:

 5. create a new text layer (same as above), make the text smaller – you don’t want a massive ugly copyright label, then move this freehand to wherever you want it on the image. File, save as psd file so you can access the layers for your next image you are editingthen, if you are working with a RAW (CR2) file, select EDIT, convert from ProPhoto or whatever profile you were using to profile sRGB so the colours look right on the internet/web page, also a good idea to smart sharpen your image once for jpg viewing, save as JPG size 10 – done.

When you process your next photo, get it to the final image processing stage and then open your last *.psd file with the copyright and label and border on it as layers, not a flattened image, then FLOAT ALL IN WINDOWS and drag the text layers from the final image to your new image and position them where you want, close down the old processed image and file save as your new image as a new psd file so you can access the layers for editing or copying to your next processed image.

 Need help, or don’t understand this at all – message me

 There are other ways to do it, but this works for me and I find it quite simple.

Excerpt: 189 Business-Building Ideas for Photographers

Here is a starting list of 189 business-building ideas for photographers:

1) Join a professional organization. APA, ASMP, PPA

2) Start a photo blog.

3) Consider using per-image pricing.

4) Read John Harrington’s book:  Best Business Practices for Photographers. (not a NMP affiliate)

5) Define your target market.

6) Use Google reader to follow blogs of interest.

7) Develop your professional story.

8 ) Join your local chamber of commerce.

9) Comment on other blogs.

10) Enter photo contests.

11) Read the DAM Book by Peter Krogh.

12) Find a new photographer on the Web who inspires you.

13) Create a Facebook fan page for your photography business.

14) Attend a photography seminar.

15) Learn search engine optimization.

16) Take a successful photographer to lunch.

17) Open a Linkedin account.

18) Exchange links with other photographers.

19) Host an evening event for your clients.

20) Open a Flickr account.

21) Build a community around your work and Web site.

22) Keep an updated e-mail list of your clients.

23) Open an e-mail marketing account such as constant contact, vertical response, Icontact.

24) Create a vanity search (or Google yourself) regularly.

25) Send a press release to local media. (Save this for the important events.)

26) Rewrite your business plan.

27) Set up a Google alerts account.

28) Sign up for a account for local event networking.

29) Take a successful business person to lunch and ask questions.

30) Read any book by Seth Godin. I recommend “Purple Cow.”

31) Make sure you have an e-mail signature.

32)  Visit a new town to take photographs and meet people.

33) Champion other photographers.

34) Be a mentor.

35) Volunteer your services to a worthy charity.

36) Make a 4×6 portfolio card to hand out at events.

37) Speak to local groups about photography.

40) Start a newsletter.

41) Focus on a new target market.

42) Explain to a friend why you are different.

43) Rewrite and improve you contracts and paperwork.

44) Face your biggest fear.

45) Create a plan to eliminate your debt.

46) Return all e-mails with 24 hours — if not faster.

47) Return all phone calls within four hours.

48) Place an opt-in e-mail request on your Web site’s front page.

49) Write an article about your photography style or tips.

50) Create a photo book to give to clients and friends.

51) Create an e-commerce photo gallery or stock site for your work.

52) Call 10 new prospects today for a portfolio showing.

53) Create a one-year marketing plan.

54) Learn a new Adobe Photoshop technique.

55) Upload a video about your photography to YouTube.

56) Create a new logo.

57) Define what success means to you.

58) Create a unique background for portraits.

59) Listen to photography podcasts.

60) Introduce yourself to local equipment representatives.  (Canon or Nikon, for example)

61) Develop relationships with photography bloggers.

62) Write a white paper on your photography techniques.

63) Go through all of business cards at the bottom of your desk drawer.

64) Create an online survey.

65) Call customers who didn’t buy and ask why (check your ego).

66) Create a name for your style of photography.

67) Create an affiliate program for your products.

68) Ask three friends to navigate your web site and report back.

69) Create a unique prop for your studio.

70) Find a good accountant.

71) Create a helpful non-photography Web site for your target market.

72) Increase your rates.

73) Create a list of 20 new target prospects.

74) Partner with companies serving the same target market.

75) Create an AdWords account.

76) Expore insights for search.

77) Train your own representative.

78) Send thank you cards after every shoot.

79) Ask current clients for referrals.

80) Create a risk-reversal proposition. (Put the risk on you, not the customer.)

81) Learn to golf.

82) Examine your usage and licensing guidlines.

83) Create and print a price list for reference.

84) Create a Friend Feed account.

85) Test, test, test (everything)

86) Create a memory hook. (a phrase that helps people remember you)

87) Sponsor a local sports team.

88) Network with photographers specializing in different areas of photography.

89) Teach five friends how to refer you.

90) Calculate how much it costs per day/month/year for you to stay in business.

91) Set 10 goals.

92) Ask a photographer you respect to review your portfolio.

93) Exercise for more energy.

94) Learn to say no to bad deals.

95) Make it easier to do business.

96) Review your communication systems. (Is there a better way to communicate?)

97) Follow up with lost or former clients.

98) Have a studio reopening party.

99) Make sure all digital files are backed up and easily accessible.

100) Fire bad clients.

101) Follow successful people on Twitter.

102) Offer a referral fee.

103) Attach a portfolio link to all image review Web sites.

104) Submit your Web site to photographer directories.

105) Ask for client testimonials.

106) Create a poster for clients to display.

107) Sponsor a client event.

108) Answer photography questions on Yahoo! Answers.

109) Research prospects who have great photography.

110) Research prospects with bad photography.

111) Write an article for a trade publication.

112)  Write an e-book.

113) Join ifreelance or Elance to find new opportunities.

114) Create unique promotional items with your printed logo.

115) Trade services with select prospects.

116) Rewrite your biography. Make it interesting (and truthful).

117) Ask to be a guest blogger.

118) Invite guest blogger to your blog.

119) Create a voiceover slide show of your work.

120) Get a StumbleUpon account to share content.

121) Read “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell.

122) Teach an adult education class. (develop name recognition)

123) Publish a book through

124) Make sure your Web site’s “about” page is full of quality information about you.

125) Use Website grader to make sure your site is of quality in Google’s eyes.

126) Define and focus on attracting your ultimate job.

127) Take a second look at all the business tools Google has to offer and apply them to your business needs.

128) Investigate the business-building options Paypal has to offer. (more than you think)

129) Discover project management systems like Basecamp.

130) Track your time spent on tasks.

131) Create Photoshop actions to save time.

132) Create a list of policies that benefit your customers.

133) Call your competitors to keep tabs on pricing.

134) Ask your customers to be honest about your service and how you can improve.

135) Wear a name badge at every event.

136) Attend a Tweetup.

137) Print custom CD/DVDs with your logo for final image delivery. (looks more professional)

138) Open a PhotoShelter account.

139) Conduct a survey about your industry.

140) Develop a new benefit for customers using quality photography.

141) Understand why people are fans of your competitors.

142) Don’t try to pass a card to everyone at an event. Build quality relationships with a few people.

143) Dress appropriately.

144) Look at your prospect’s Web site before you call for an appointment or bid on a project.

145) Test e-mail headlines.

146) Make eye contact.

147) If you are shy, bring a guest with you to events.

148) Always stand in a “V”  so others feel welcome into your conversation.

149) Introduce people. (even if you just met them)

150) Send a follow-up letter or e-mail to every business card you receive.

151) Don’t shy away from talking to insurance sales, financial people or real estate agents at events. They talk to new people and businesses every day.

152) Set up a booth at a trade show.

153) Spend an entire event looking for referrals for your networking partners.

154) Ask friends, clients and associates the powerful question: “Who do you know?”

155) Send clients cards on their birthdays.

156) Write testimonials for your best customers.

157) Write testimonials for your best vendors.

158) Give framed photographs to your favorite clients.

160) Ask to speak to your client’s staff. (group learn and share)

161) Create a contest and give away something cool.

162) Review your budget.

163) Replace beat-up photography accessories. (makes you look more professional)

164) Get a toll-free number.

165) Hire a live, personal answering service.

166) Package your services with networking partners.

167) Join a local BNI Group.

168) Create a “vCard” and share it — often.

169) Create and review your model and property releases and keep them with you at  all times.

170) Keep a backup camera with you — always.

171) Read the copyright laws and register.

172) Create an easily accessible electronic portfolio on an iPod or Smart Phone.

173) Look for a new niche.

174) Explain to a business owner how poor photography is costing her money.

175) Give a service certificate to a charity auction.

176) Review your insurance.

177) Make sure your passport is up to date.

178) Plan play time to refresh yourself.

179) Hire a good business coach.

180) Keep a list or file of photographers’ Web sites or photography that inspire you.

181) Ask yourself: Would you hire you? Why?

182) Be Positive. Yes, it does matter.

183) Gather your junk mail and call on the senders for opportunities.

184) Develop a powerful sales letter.

185) Buy an e-mail list for your target market.

186) Give more than expected.

187) Remember your copyright has value. (If it didn’t, people wouldn’t be asking for it.)

188) Use your @ twitter name in your online signatures.

189) Create a list of 189 things you can do to improve your business.

Taken from:

Adobe Photoshop CS5 Content Aware Fill – WOW!!!

This is gob-smacking!  I am so going to use this tool!!!  One word: awesome!!!!!!!