Lustre vs glossy: which kind of photo paper to use?

A huge part of delivering the final product in photography is the finish on the print. Two very popular finishes are lustre and glossy. In this post, let’s compare the difference between lustre and glossy.

It is very important to consider the kind of finish you will use, because the finishes will determine the texture, whether the surface is smooth or not, and the colors and details of the final prints.

What is a lustre finish on photos?

Lustre finish is actually halfway between glossy and matte. Glossy finishes are very shiny and smooth, whereas matte finishes can be a little dull.

The texture you can expect to see from lustre photo paper is very fine particles, as if you were running your fingers across very small pebbles clumped closely together.

One of the main advantages of using lustre paper is the glare is less than that of glossy finishes. That’s not to say lustre is free of glare, though.

Lustre paper also displays colors and their saturation better, as well as displaying more details of the image.

Professional photographers prefer lustre paper for a wide variety of applications.

What is a glossy finish?

A glossy finish is exactly as it sounds. The paper is shiny and will reflect a lot of light. Colors will also be very saturated and glossy prints are the kinds of prints that you’ll typically find in family albums.

The smooth finish makes it easy to scan glossy finished photos in a computer, but it is a huge pain to try to scan it with your phone’s camera as it will reflect a lot of light, almost like glass.

Additionally, the shiny surface will also show fingerprints very easily, so be careful and mindful if you have oily skin!

lustre vs glossy

This image from SmugMug really demonstrates the difference between lustre and glossy. The photo of the lady is lustre finish, which even with glare looks normal. The photo of Darth Maul on the right is glossy and reflects the glare.


What is the difference between matte and lustre finish?

Next up in our comparisons is lustre vs matte finish. Matte finish has a lot of texture on the surface, so it won’t pick up fingerprints as easily as glossy paper.

However, the matte finish on photos does come with a hidden cost: the images won’t be quite as vibrant or colorful. Matte finish photos are useful for very small prints like the ones you keep in your wallet, or passport photographs.

Matte photos are also good for black and white pictures.

Lustre prints on the other hand will have the best of matte and glossy pictures, with the robustness of the print seen in matte photos and the vibrance and colors of glossy prints.

Is lustre or glossy better for framing?

Finally, let’s address the question of framing. Is lustre or glossy better for framing photographs?

I feel like it is a matter of personal preference, but lustre is actually better for framing. Nowadays, a better alternative to using glass in frames is treating the photos with a special lamination film that covers the entire surface of the print.

Upon lamination, the photo ends up looking like lustre print anyway. I am not a huge fan of glass anymore because moisture can sometimes sneak in between the glass and the photo and cause it to warp or worse, cause some water damage.

Not having any glass on the frame also means there will be less glare, and the lamination is easy to clean, too.

Where to store your digital photos

There are quite a few services out there that offer photo hosting and portfolio building, but by far, our favorite is SmugMug.

SmugMug is great for storing memories as well as for amateurs and professionals to show off their shots.

Once you sign up, you have unlimited storage so you can upload any resolution of your photographs that you need.

You can also build a portfolio site to show off, as well as access your photos from anywhere.

And if you need prints, you can order them from within SmugMug itself. It’s a one-stop solution.

You can sign up here for a 14 day trial, and get 15% off if you decide to subscribe.

5 Open Source Focus Stacking Software(& Paid Options)

One of the most important things to consider in photography is the focus you set for your camera. No matter what subject you’re shooting, you’ll need to focus properly to capture each detail in all its glory.

Focus stacking software can achieve levels of focus that even a premium tilt-shift lens would struggle with. Its use is especially prevalent in fields like macro photography where close-up focus is paramount. Compare a focus stacked macro image to one you took yourself and you’ll likely be amazed by the difference.

Most people’s photography kits are already full to the brim with expensive tools. Why should focus stacking software be one of them? Thanks to the plethora of good quality open source options out there, editing your image focus is simple, easy and most importantly, free.

This page outlines some of the best free options available for good focus stacking software. We also discuss two premium solutions. Read on to find the best program for you.

Open Source Focus Stacking Software

This page contains a list of our favourite focus stacking software. Each program featured is compatible with windows and has been chosen for its ease of use, convenience and results. In most of the software on this list, a GUI is used to add your shots. These images are then auto-processed to produce a shot that’s virtually impossible to achieve alone.

1. CombineZPcombinezp

First on our list is a handy program called CombineZP. The user interface is refreshingly easy to use. Just click to add the images of your choosing and when you’re ready to start processing, click “So Stack” followed by “Go”. If you want to tweak your shots before stacking them, it’s easy to align your photos with the included align tool.

Your finished photos are exported to an output folder in a location of your choosing on your PC. If at any time you find yourself stumped using this focus stacking software, there’s a built-in help function that’s ready and waiting.

2. Picolay


Picolay is pretty amazing if you need software that can focus stack your photos very quickly. The process for adding your photos is just as simple as with other options. Just click the images you want for processing and let Picolay do the rest.

To create a stunning image stack with Picolay, click the “File” tab to add your images. Next, click “Stack With Current Parameters” in the “Stack Operations” tab. This will focus stack your images.

If you take a lot of macro or micro photos, then this is definitely a focus stacking program to consider. Just make sure you capture your images from a fixed point. For those who find the process of manually aligning each image to be quite time-consuming, the auto align feature that comes with Picolay will be a welcome breath of fresh air.

Among the other tools in this stack-happy app’s arsenal are auto-brightness tuning, colour based stacking, flat-field stacking and auto white balance tweaking.

3. Chasys Draw IES


This is another free piece of focus stacking software that’s worth a mention. The slew of tools available on this program can be used for editing a single photo or for focus stacking a huge pile of photos. As always, click to choose the images you’d like to stack and export them to your chosen output folder.

For best results, use images from identical shooting points where only the focus has changed. Other features on this open source software include image HDR, like-image averaging and auto white exposure tweaking.

4. Image J


This is a very modular approach to helping you stack images. Image J has a number of available plug-ins that add different features to the software. One of the most popular plug-ins for Image J is their stack images option. To create your focus stack, you’ll have to download the relevant plug-in.

Feel free to download other options if the idea of messing with plug-ins is off-putting to you. Once you’ve added the images you’d like for your photo stack, click the “Stk” button to combine the layers and get your stacked photo.

One of the features to be aware of is the “Stack Focuser”. This is a small box that gives you a preview of your chosen images. Here, you’ll be able to save in a variety of formats including tif, png and gif.

5. TuFuse


TuFuse is a bit different from the other options on this list. It’s a great stacking solution, but it doesn’t have a GUI. You’ll have to use a command line for this one. Don’t worry though, it’s not as bad as it sounds.

Here’s how to use the command line with TuFuse:

  1. Open your TuFuse folder.
  2. Place your desired images here.
  3. Click the address bar of the same folder and delete the contents.
  4. Now type “CMD” into the address bar and press the enter key.
  5. You should now see the command line.
  6. Enter this command to stack multiple images: tufuse -o output.tif input1.tif input2.tif input3.tif input4.tif.
  7. You should see your resulting photo in your TuFuse folder.


This process can be overwhelming at first but it gets much easier over time.

Premium Options

Below are two premium options for those looking for a more comprehensive piece of software for their stacking needs.

1. Helicon Focus


This is a powerful piece of editing software. For several years now, advanced technologies such as HDR and EDoF have been paving the way for a world where stacked images are the norm. Helicon Focus is purpose-built to accommodate that world.

As with other options, multiple photos are combined in a focus stacking process that delivers the best photo your camera is capable of. The output quality from Helicon Focus is quite remarkable. Other features on offer with Helicon include the run benchmark tool, folder monitoring system, color accuracy processing and advanced interpolation options. This is a killer feature set that begins to justify the price tag.

If you’re looking to create a high quality stacked photo, you may need to give Helicon Focus a try. It can easily handle raw files and can output in a variety of formats.

2. Zerene Stacker


Zerene Stacker is the second premium option on this page. It was designed specifically with challenging macro subjects in mind. Focus stacking doesn’t get much more sophisticated than this. If you need stacking software for your work, this may be one to consider.

While other options on this list are more versatile tools that happen to offer a stacking process, Zerene Stacker was purpose-built for stacking. For this reason, many photographers consider it the best option out there. This software works with virtually any camera you throw at it and is suitable for a huge variety of subjects.

No matter what setup you’re using, Zerene Stacker can probably handle it. The feature set on Zerene Stacker includes automatic alignment, ultra-high-quality interpolation, a large image capacity, advanced stacking algorithms and high output optimization.

If you’re a professional who needs to process a lot of raw files, Zerene Stacker is hard to beat.


What is Focus Stacking?

Using stacking software involves a process of taking multiple shots of the same subject using different focus levels. These files are then run through the software of your choice to combine the images. After some clever processing, the result is images that are truly stunning, with a focus level that captures detail vividly and authentically.

The focus stacking software automatically identifies the best focused areas of each image you add. These are combined to produce a far superior image.

Many fields of commercial photography are now almost completely reliant on focus stacking software.

Some of the following can be achieved with either premium or free focus stacking software:

  • Increasing the depth of field further than is possible by just stopping down
  • Maintaining a razor-sharp focus across the image
  • Creating a beautiful blurred bokeh while keeping the subject sharply in focus

These software work by using state-of-the-art algorithms to comb through each image layer you upload and combining the best aspects of each.


There are tonnes of great editing options out there for getting perfect stacked images. Before you decide which one to download, take a minute to think about your requirements. If you’re mostly a hobbyist photographer who just wants to do a bit of editing and share a nice image every now and then, it’s probably worth choosing a free option from the list above.

There’s no point splashing out on Zerene Stacker until you’re working in a professional context. If you work professionally as a photographer, or are a more experienced photographer with higher demands, a free solution might not cut it. Either way, we hope this page makes your decision that bit easier.

If you’d like to learn more about photography and boost your skills, then check out the other articles on this site.

DIY Photo Studio Guide: How To Set One Up

DIY Photo Studio Guide

Do you want to set up your photo studio?

Having your own photo studio will help your business grow. It would help open up a lot of opportunities.

A photo studio will help you work at your convenience. You don’t need to carry large equipment and photography gear to any rented studio. Are you looking for a DIY photo studio guide to get some ideas to set your studio?

If you capture many portraits of people, then setting up your photo studio will be a great option. It will help save a lot of money. You can capture good quality pictures at your convenience. Let us look at some DIY photo studio guide that will help you set your studio with ease.

Photo Studio Setup

Before setting up your Photo studio, you need to think of what kind of studio you want. You need to be clear on the type of photography you want to go with. Make sure to build the type of studio you would like to have. Please don’t waste your money on setting a studio that won’t serve your needs at all.

If you do many group photoshoots, then a small studio will not be a good option. You need to be clear on the type of space you want according to your needs. If you are setting a photo studio at your home, try getting a more prominent space for your shoot.

If your main business is shooting newborns, then you will need a small space. You can set a small space for it as you want.

You can create your style for your studio. If your space can get some natural light, it will be great. Else you can set up the lighting and other gears for some excellent quality pictures. Make sure the photo studio you set up serves the needs and will help your business grow.

Equipment Needed For Setting Up A Photo Studio

Once you have figured out the space for setting up your photo studio, you need to think of the necessary equipment.

Setting Up A DIY Photo Studio

Lighting Setup

One of the main things to consider while setting your photo studio is the lighting. A small studio setup will mainly require either a flashgun or a reflector.

If you want to set a more advanced studio with better lighting, you can have two to three light stands. By this, you can get good portrait lighting set up in your own space. Having a good lighting setup will help give some significant effects to your pictures.

You can test the lighting by conducting a photo session with your friends or family. You can understand the lighting effect of your DIY Photo studio setup. You can see from which place the picture comes out perfect and looks great.


Speedlights are great for studios as they take up less space. They are lightweight as compared to flashlights. If you need to make some changes to your photo studio for some shots, you will easily place your Speedlight elsewhere,.

Speedlights are perfect for keeping at a small photo studio because of their compact size.

A Speedlight by Neewer is affordable and compatible with most DSLRs. It has multiple flash modes and is great for photo studios. You can try and test how your Speedlight works and how you will need to set your camera.

Neewer Flash Speedlite
Compatible with DSLRs with standard hot shoe and has multiple flash modes.

Using Flashgun

If you go for flashguns, it will be more powerful than a Speedlight. Using a flashgun, you will get a crisp and sharp picture. Flashguns are perfect for a photo studio setup. You can capture little moments of your clients faster than speedlights.

Flashguns are portable and easy to carry around. It is very comfortable to have a flashgun while taking group pictures. You can click several photographs and then select your best shots out of them. A modeling light will also work great for group pictures.

Flashguns are more expensive than speedlights. So it is important to plan your budget before making a purchase.

Choosing A Background

You need to choose different types of background that you can use for different types of photography. A black and white background is a must-have in a photo studio. It is the most common background used for portrait photography. Keep adding different background rolls as per the need. Getting background support will be beneficial.

Get A Lighting Stand

Having a light stand in a photo studio is excellent. If you have suitable space to work with a three-point light stand, it will be great to have.

A light stand is a bit expensive for a photo studio setup but is very beneficial for portrait photography. Overall it will be worth it when you see the results.


Modifiers give some significant effects to your pictures and are great to have in a photo studio. There are different types of modifiers. You need to select the one according to your need. Think of what kind of pictures you will be clicking and what effects you want to give. Then choose a modifier accordingly.

Let us look at different modifier options:

  • Reflectors. Reflectors come with different reflecting surfaces. Reflectors can give a great glow to the pictures. If you use a gold reflector, it will provide a warm effect to the picture. It will make people think it’s sunlight.
  • Umbrellas. Umbrella will help diffuse the extra light that is being exposed. Umbrellas are good to keep in a large photo studio. In a small space, it won’t be able to give the effect as a softbox can.
  • Softbox. Softbox helps reduce shadows from the pictures. It helps diffuse the light and make it look even and soft. Softbox comes in different sizes. You can choose as per your need. With a bigger softbox, you will get a softer light. Make sure to place the softbox away from the subject to give an even effect.
  • Gels. You can add some colorful sheets of paper to provide some creative and cool effect to the pictures. Like an orange gel will give a warm effect to the picture. Gels are very affordable and help create different effects. You can keep some cool colored gel papers in your photo studio and use them as per the need.

Folding Table To Place Your Product

You will need a folding table and place the backdrop across. Place the product accordingly. Make sure not to put the product too high or too low, so it’s easy to take pictures. Having a folding table is easy to set up and is convenient.

DIY Photo Studio Set-Up Guide

#1 Set Up Table and Window

First, you need to set up a table. Place it near the window to get some natural light on the subject. Make sure you are not getting direct sunlight on the subject.

You need to make sure to place the table in such a way so that you can move around and style the table with ease for shoots.

#2 Use A Plain White Backdrop

Use a white backdrop roll and paste it on the wall using tape. You can paste it to the ceiling or hang it on a stand. Pasting it to the top will make the backdrop fall nicely on the table. You can paste the sides of the backdrop so it doesn’t move while keeping any object.

DIY Photo Studio Set-Up Guide

You can also use your wall as your backdrop. Paint it with some neutral color to get started with. This way, it will be easy to organize and place objects for the shoot.

#3 Lighting

You need to set up the lighting as per your need. Place one light at around 45° from your subject. If you are using some natural light from outside, make sure to place the subject accordingly. You can use a reflector as extra lighting. It will help reflect light on the darker side of the subject.

#4 Place The Object Or The Product

First, you need to clean the backdrop. Then place the product you need to click the picture of.

A little cleaning of the backdrop will help reduce the post-editing work. If you are taking pictures of gems or jewelry, make sure it is properly polished and clean.

If you are taking pictures of any footwear, make sure it is properly polished, and there is no dust over it. This will help in reducing your editing work and save your time.

Make sure to place the product in the center of the backdrop and click pictures accordingly. Try taking pictures from different angles. And when you turn your product, make sure the camera and tripod are at the same place. It will help keep your photos consistent.

#5 Using White Foam Board

You can use a white foam board for your DIY photo studio to get even light on both sides of the shooting product. If you are shooting any black object, you will need some extra “fill light” to get accurate details and texture of the product.

You can place the foam board vertically using tape. Make sure to put it opposite the window. The foam board should be larger than the product you are shooting.

#6 Place Your Tripod And Camera

Position your tripod correctly according to the height of the table. Level your tripod and then attach your camera and clip it.

Once the camera is attached, start clicking pictures. Position your tripod in different places and look through the camera towards the product. Adjust the camera position and make sure the product is placed at the center.

You can increase the tripod’s height if you want to take pictures of the product from top to bottom. You can use the camera lens to zoom.

Studio Kits For Photography

After looking at different equipment and things needed for setting up a photo studio, you may be wondering if you can get a kit containing all the necessary things in one place. This depends on your budget and the style you want to set.

If you buy individual pieces, you may end up spending more. There are different types of studio kits available nowadays. If you are setting up a studio all by yourself, then getting a studio kit will help you a lot.

A studio kit by Neewer has all the necessary equipment for a home photo studio. The kit contains a light stand, umbrella, light holder, backdrop, and a softbox.

Neewer Studio kit
Indoor photography studio kit with all necessary equipment

Tips for DIY Photo studio

If you have a small space to set up a photo studio, you can still set it correctly by placing the necessary gears. Let’s look at some valuable tips for setting up a photo studio.

  • Try to keep just one or two extra lights. Use the natural light coming from the window as much as possible. Don’t fill all the space by placing lighting stands and equipment.
  • You can use reflectors for portrait photography. It helps diffuse the light and the shadow and makes the picture look good. Try using reflectors from different angles and see how the picture comes out even in a small space.
  • Ensure you are using the correct camera lens according to the studio space and type of picture you are clicking. You won’t need to use zoom if it’s a small studio. A good quality lens will help capture the picture of your subject from the available distance.
  • Photoshoots are a tiring job at the end of the day. Having those warm lights around will make you uncomfortable after a point in time. So make sure to give some refreshments to your clients, so they don’t feel tired soon.
  • Make sure to place a mirror somewhere on the wall. It’s nice to quickly have a look and do some quick make-up before the photoshoots.


To set up a DIY photo studio, you need to be as creative as you can. Use all the necessary equipment according to your need. Remember, having your photo studio will help your business grow with time. Keep adding new equipment and backdrops to your studio as your business grows.

I hope the above DIY photo studio guide will help set up your photo studio with ease.

Pixel Chart For Photo Prints(4 x 6, 5 x 7, and more)

One of the trickiest things to master when printing photographs is knowing the number of pixels to size your images by for a print. Since 4×6 prints are the most common, let’s talk about the right number of 4×6 pixels.

Print Size Table With DPI and Pixel Requirements

4 x 6 500 x 750 720 x 1080 1200 x 1800
4 x 8 500 x 1000 720 x 1440 1200 x 2400
5 x 5 625 x 625 900 x 900 1500 x 1500
5 x 7 625 x 875 900 x 1260 1500 x 2100
5 x 10 625 x 1250 900 x 1800 1500 x 3000
5 x 15 625 x 1875 900 x 2700 1500 x 4500
6 x 8 750 x 1000 1080 x 1440 1800 x 2400
6 x 9 750 x 1125 1080 x 1620 1800 x 2700
8 x 8 1000 x 1000 1440 x 1440 2400 x 2400
8 x 10 1000 x 1250 1440 x 1800 2400 x 3000
8 x 12 1000 x 1500 1440 x 2160 2400 x 3600
8 x 16 1000 x 2000 1440 x 2880 2400 x 4800
8 x 24 1000 x 3000 1440 x 4320 2400 x 7200
8.5 x 11 1063 x 1375 1530 x 1980 2550 x 3300
9 x 12 1125 x 1500 1620 x 2160 2700 x 3600
10 x 10 1250 x 1250 1800 x 1800 3000 x 3000
10 x 13 1250 x 1625 1800 x 2340 3000 x 3900
10 x 14 1250 x 1750 1800 x 2520 3000 x 4200
10 x 15 1250 x 1750 1800 x 2700 3000 x 4500
10 x 20 1250 x 2500 1800 x 3600 3000 x 6000
10 x 30 1250 x 3750 1800 x 5400 3000 x 9000
11 x 11 1375 x 1375 1980 x 1980 3300 x 3300
11 x 14 1375 x 1750 1980 x 2520 3300 x 4200
11 x 17 1375 x 2125 1980 x 3060 3300 x 5100
11 x 22 1375 x 2750 1980 x 3960 3300 x 6600
12 x 12 1500 x 1500 2160 x 2160 3600 x 3600
12 x 18 1500 x 2250 2160 x 3240 3600 x 5400
12 x 24 1500 x 3000 2160 x 4320 3600 x 7200
12 x 36 1500 x 4500 2160 x 6480 3600 x 10800
15 x 30 1875 x 3750 2700 x 5400 4500 x 9000
16 x 16 2000 x 2000 2880 x 2880 4800 x 4800
16 x 20 2000 x 2500 2880 x 3600 4800 x 6000
16 x 24 2000 x 3000 2880 x 4320 4800 x 7200
18 x 24 2250 x 3000 3240 x 4320 5400 x 7200
20 x 20 2500 x 2500 3600 x 3600 6000 x 6000
20 x 24 2500 x 3000 3600 x 4320 6000 x 7200
20 x 30 2500 x 3750 3600 x 5400 6000 x 9000
20 x 40 2500 x 5000 3600 x 7200 6000 x 12000
22 x 28 2750 x 3500 3960 x 5040 6600 x 8400
24 x 24 3000 x 3000 4320 x 4320 7200 x 7200
24 x 30 3000 x 3750 4320 x 5400 7200 x 9000
24 x 36 3000 x 4500 4320 x 6480 7200 x 10800
30 x 30 3750 x 3750 5400 x 5400 9000 x 9000
30 x 40 3750 x 5000 5400 x 7200 9000 x 12000
30 x 45 3750 x 5625 5400 x 8100 9000 x 13500
36 x 48 6000 x 4500 8640 x 6480 14400 x 10800
40 x 60 7200 x 4800 10800 x 7200 18000 x 12000

Understanding DPI

The quality of your print is actually going to be determined by the DPI setting that your printer uses. DPI stands for Dots Per Inch.

This is essentially the amount of detail that your printer can reproduce in every square inch of your prints. Most standard photo prints are 300 dpi, so you need to multiply the inches you want to print by the DPI setting to get the optimal resolution.

300 DPI is an ideal setting for getting a good quality print. You can get away with 240 DPI too, but you don’t want to use anything less than that. Consider 240-300 DPI to be the standard for good photos.

Can you get away with smaller pixel dimensions?

Maybe, depending on the application you are looking for. I’ve managed to blow up 640 x 480 sized Whatsapp images that had a decently high dots per inch count into an 8 x 10 canvas print.

It printed fine on canvas because the textured appearance of canvas hid any potential graininess in the images from really popping out at you.


What about using extra pixels?

Suppose you have a really large digital image from your camera but you want to make a really small print. So instead of 1200 x 1800 resolution for your 4 x 6 print, you decide to double it to 2400 x 3600 and try a 4 x 6 print size.

At this point, you’re sending 600 DPI worth of data to the printer. Does this necessarily mean higher quality photos?

Not really, and here’s why.

First off, can the printer even manage to make use of all of that extra information?

Secondly, even if the printer pulled it off, can your eye really make out the detail without the help of an external tool like a magnifying glass?

Resolution on screen vs in print

Here’s where things get really interesting. If you own an HDTV, you’ll know that the resolution for full HD is 1980 x 1080 pixels. On a digital screen, 1980 x 1080 is considered very high quality and full of detail.

However, the 1980 x 1080 video resolution you see on a 50 inch screen is quite similar to the 1200 x 1800 resolution for 4 x 6 print!

One of the reasons for such a striking difference is the way in which you view screens vs the way you view photos. Screens are meant to be looked at from much further away(indeed, even computer screens) than photos, which you generally hold in your hand and observe very closely.

How to edit your photo for best results

Since the screen and print resolution is so different, here’s the best way to edit your photo before printing it.

  1. Resize your photo to match the pixel dimensions and pixels per inch that you need for your print
  2. Adjust the tone/color/brightness/contrast as you see fit
  3. Slightly sharpen the image since the resolution on screen vs the resolution in print will be much different. Don’t overdo the sharpening, though.

How to Photograph Jewelry: An In-Depth Guide

Successfully selling a product relies heavily on good product photography. If you can’t showcase your product well, it will prove difficult to shift. Jewelry photos are infamously difficult to capture. Beautiful jewelry can look terrible if you use the wrong light, camera or lens.

Even hours of trial and error might not be enough if you don’t know what you’re doing. This page outlines the fundamentals of how to photograph jewelry. We’ll walk you through lighting setup, post processing and everything in between to help you make sure you get the best final image of your product.

The better you capture the beauty of your jewelry, the easier it will be to sell! We also touch on how to take great jewelry photographs at home.

how to photograph jewelry

How to photograph jewelry at home


This is perhaps the most important element of any image, regardless of your subject. When it comes to photographing jewelry, you’ll have myriad challenges with shadows and reflection. Each jewelry product comes with its own unique set of curves and reflective surfaces. You’ll have to spend some time getting used to the piece in question.

It’s important to use plenty of light when capturing jewelry images. Natural light that’s diffused and soft can work well, but is far from practical in many indoor settings.

A bright, large softbox is the best way to go when shooting jewelry indoors. They keep everything brightly lit without throwing up crazy reflections. The keywords to remember are soft and indirect. Direct light is your enemy with jewelry photography.

If you’re on a budget, a bare bulb shielded by a sheet of white paper can be a great source of soft, indirect light.

The position of your lighting setup will be determined by the jewelry piece in question and the number of light sources you’re using. Experiment with positioning your light overhead and directly to the side until you find the appropriate fit for your product.

Necklaces Vs Rings

Your approach to your photos and setup will change depending on whether you’re capturing a necklace, a ring or a different piece altogether. The reflections, shadows and composition all change each time.

Using a reflector and a black or white card will help keep unwanted reflections at bay. These can be bought professionally or made at home with sheets of card and tin foil. A closely considered home setup can still produce excellent shots.

If you’ve got great lighting, a good tripod and decent reflectors, it’s even possible to get great photos with an iPhone at home! Using an appropriate background is also important. A simple, plain background is best.


When you photograph jewelry, it’s important to know how best to showcase your product. The position of your jewelry in the frame and your camera’s angle are the main things to consider.

You may want to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you photographing a single piece or multiple pieces?
  • Are there particular colors you would like to draw focus to?
  • Which areas of your jewelry are the brightest and most eye-catching?
  • Which shapes and lines for the product are the most important to capture?

The answers to these questions will determine your approach to composition. For single pieces, it’s probably best to keep it simple and center your ring or necklace in the frame. For multiple pieces, following the rule of thirds will help you.

Consider your image as consisting of nine separate sections. Experiment with how your subject is balanced across these sections to produce a stunning photo. The angle of your camera will change the shapes and lines captured in your photo. An overhead shot might capture the overall shape of a piece but lack the depth you need.

A side-on shot might capture some interesting lines, but lose the overall impression of the piece. Experiment with your camera angle until you have the perfect shot for your product.

A good post production tip is to use the “Unsharp Mask” feature in photoshop. This can sharpen up your image when you need that extra boost.

Choosing a Background

jewelry sparkle

A loud, busy background is the last thing you want for this kind of photography. Rings and necklaces are full of intricate details that take a lot of work to capture properly. A loud background will only distract from this. Simple, block colors are usually best. Even a sheet of paper can do the trick.

Consider the colour palette of your pieces and choose a tone that will compliment it well. Would a white background work, or would something darker be better? You want your photography to celebrate your subject, so it’s important to pick a background that supports your work rather than distracts from it.

How to Make Jewelry Sparkle

If you get your setup perfect, it will be much easier to capture a natural sparkle in your pieces. Use our tips above for lighting, background and composition to get the image you’re looking for. Thoroughly cleaning each product before your shoot will also work.

A non-abrasive, cleansing solution can be used to get your jewelry photography ready. A little buffing with a microfiber cloth can really boost your images. The last thing you want in post production is to find smudges and smears across a necklace or ring. For some images, a white background may blow out the sparkle in your image.

Consider these tips on a case by case basis.

Which Camera is Best for Jewelry Photography?

There’s plenty to consider before buying a new camera for jewelry photography. In many ways, your lighting and camera lens are far more important. However, a larger, more versatile camera will give you the flexibility to play around with multiple lenses. A more adaptable model will also give you more freedom to play around in the studio.

For something as tricky as photographing jewelry, increased wiggle room can be a godsend.

Canon EOS 70D DSLR

It’s not the only option out there, but we think this is a great camera for versatile jewelry images. The EOS 70D is compatible with the full line of Canon EF and EF-S lenses, which should be more than enough to produce stunning product photography.

The intelligent auto mode, powerful manual control mode and smart viewfinder make this a handy piece of kit.

Which Lenses Are Best for Jewelry Photography?

The nature of this kind of photography means you should be using a macro lens. This will be far more forgiving when getting up close and personal to your subject. Some options are a bit on the pricey side, but if you’re photographing jewelry, they’re practically essential.

Luckily, there’s plenty of good macro products out there. Just make sure the lens you’re considering is compatible with your sensor and camera.

Canon EF 100mm

This is a stunning macro lens for close-up product photography. The inner-focusing system and full-manual settings give you ultimate control over your images. One thing you’ll need to consider for this type of photography is image blur. The image stabilization that comes with this model should help out a great deal.


If you’re working on a budget, this is a great option. This is a perfectly capable lens, especially considering the price point. The optical image stabilization and excellent close-up focus will elevate your jewelry photography. This model is particularly good at producing beautiful bokeh shots.

Camera Settings

There’s plenty to tinker with when getting great product photos of jewelry. The intricate details of rings and necklaces can make it difficult to find the appropriate depth of field. Another challenge, and one of the most important things to consider in this genre of photography, is your white balance.

jewelry photographs

White Balance

One of the most common challenges with jewelry photography is the images coming out with an orange hue. This is caused by the white balance setting on the camera fighting against natural and artificial light. As a general rule, daylight comes with a naturally blue hue and light from bulbs appears as orange.

The white balance setting on a camera is designed to “guess” the correct color when capturing a photograph. If it’s grappling with both natural and artificial light, excessively blue or orange product images are the result. It’s best to set your white balance manually to get the image right.

Experiment with your camera settings until you’re happy with the image.


Getting the right focus for shooting this kind of product can be tricky, especially when you’re not using a macro lens. No matter what equipment you’re using, you should get as close as you can to your subject while maintaining focus. Using enough light will go a long way here.

Once you’ve got at least one good photo with your whole product in focus, feel free to play around with focusing in on one spot in particular.


If you want more control over the focus for your photos, tweaking the aperture will help you. The higher your aperture number, the more of your subject will be in focus. This will let in less light, however, so it’s necessary to experiment and find a good compromise for each photo.


Photographing jewelry demands a bright lighting setup. As you’ll be working with a lot of light in your studio, it’s best to set your ISO to a lower setting. This makes your equipment less sensitive to light and will likely aid the look of your image.

More Recommended Accessories

Using the right kit will make shooting a whole lot easier. You want your images to look great, so it’s important to use the right tools. Consider the following accessories when working:

  • A tripod. Camera shake is one of your biggest enemies for this kind of work. Using a tripod will keep your camera steady and eliminate unwanted blur and noise.
  • A Lightbox. Lighting is probably the most important factor for any kind of photography. Use a lightbox to get soft, indirect light for your images.
  • A remote shutter release. To further reduce the risk of noise in your images, use a remote control to take the shot.
  • A stable surface like a table. It’s a simple one, but it’s important. A flat, steady surface for your jewelry is essential for crisp images.
  • Firm paper or foam boards. You can use these to block unwanted reflections from ruining your work.
  • Holders and props. These can prop your necklace or ring upright for the perfect composition.


It can be hard to find the desired look when capturing a necklace or similar jewelry. Photographing any subject comes with its own set of challenges. We hope you’re able to use the tips on this page to improve your work. If you only remember two words from this article, let them be lighting and macro.

Eliminating shadows and reflection, and maintaining close-up focus, are the two biggest challenges with this type of work. Soft, diffused light and a good macro lens are what you need.

Whatever your setup and experience level, we wish you luck!

What is Composition in Photography? A Beginner’s Guide

Composition is everything in photography. It can mean the difference between an average-looking image and an absolute show-stopper.

A mediocre photographer can take a decent shot if they have the right equipment. The only way for that photographer to improve their photos, however, is to get to grips with the fundamentals of composition.

We’re not miracle workers — we can’t transform you into a professional photographer with this article alone. What we can do is introduce you to some basic concepts that should steer you in the right direction.

This post is written as a beginner’s guide to composition in photography. We’ll explore what it is, how to get better at it, and how to improve your photo-taking skills in general. Read on to learn more.

In a Nutshell – What is Composition?

In short, composition in photography refers to how the different elements of an image are arranged. This includes a number of factors including:

  • Where your subject is placed in relation to the rest of the image
  • The lines, shapes, and textures highlighted in the photo
  • The lighting environment of the shot
  • The contrasts and highlights featured
  • The color palette used
  • The focus point of the photo

The final result of any image you take is determined largely by its composition. The better you understand compositional techniques, the easier it will be to improve your photography.

Meeting Expectations VS Going Against the Grain

Once you’re more familiar with approaches to composition, it’s worth exploring the power of both meeting a viewer’s expectations and challenging them. Arranging your images in pleasing, predictable ways can produce incredible results.

At the same time, however, a mark of a true professional is knowing when to go against the grain. Once you’ve put in some practice, it can pay dividends to ask yourself how you can flip the script.

Is it possible to do something totally unexpected with your subject? If so, it might be worth exploring this avenue further. This kind of thinking can produce photos that win awards.

Practice Makes Perfect

Before we jump into the specifics of composition in photography, we wanted to emphasize that reading about composition will only get you so far. The best way to improve your skills as a photographer is to get out there and use your equipment as often as possible.

We know it sounds obvious, but it can be so easy to fall into the trap of reading theory without executing it in the real world. “Practice makes perfect” is a cliche for a reason. Once you’ve read our guide, implement our tips in the real world as often as you can.

Things to Consider When Composing Your Shots

Let’s get into it! The list below isn’t exhaustive, but it contains the fundamentals that are so important for a beginner to understand. Have a read-through and think about how you could explore these elements when you next take photos in the real world.

Subject Position

If you consider nothing else when exploring composition, you should focus on the position of your subject in relation to its surroundings. Subject placement plays a pivotal role in how photos are perceived by their viewers.

It’s your job as a photographer to decide how you want to influence your viewers. Ask yourself which aspects of your photo you want to highlight.

The Rule of Thirds and the Phi Grid

While we’re on the topic of subject placement, your best friend as a newbie photographer will be the rule of thirds. This is a compositional tool designed to make it easier to arrange your shots in a way that pleases the eye.

The general idea is to position your subject(s) within an area of the grid where two lines intersect. If you compose your shots so that they’re in one of the nine ‘boxes’ that the grid creates, you stand a much better chance of producing an image that’s nice to look at.

Taking things one step further is the phi grid. If you know anything about art theory, you may have read about the golden ratio before. First proposed by Italian mathematician Fibonacci, it’s a sequence found in visual elements throughout all of nature.

In short, it’s a cheat sheet for composing gorgeous images. The phi grid is derived from the golden ratio and is used in much the same way as the rule of thirds. Most cameras have a built-in overlay that can be used when taking images. Try out both when taking shots to improve your skills.

Check out our in-depth guide to the phi grid.


Another critical element of photography composition is the backdrop of your image. It’s important to think about not only what you’ll be using as a background but also how much of it you’d like to be in focus.

Think about how your chosen backdrop can complement, highlight, or stand in contrast to your subject. As mentioned earlier, experiment with both meeting and challenging expectations in this regard.

If too much of your backdrop is in focus, it can distract from your chosen subject. That said, certain backgrounds can really elevate the final result of your photo, so it’s worth staying open to aspects that are calling out to you.

Leading Lines and Shapes

A great way to think about photography composition is in terms of your audience’s attention. When you compose your image, you’re deciding where you’d like your viewers to look.

One great weapon in a photo composer’s arsenal is the lines and shapes they choose to highlight in a given image. “Leading lines” are exactly that — they’re lines that lead a viewer’s attention where you’d like it to go.

More skilled photographers can send their audience on a journey, expertly leading them from one part of an image to the next. When first starting out, it’s best to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What aspects of my subject do I most want to highlight?
    1. Are there shapes and lines within my subject that demand more attention?
  2. How can I make sure my viewer focuses primarily on these aspects?
    1. Are there other lines and shapes that might help me frame the shot?
    2. Where can I position my subject to improve its visibility?

Establishing a habit of asking these kinds of questions early on can have fantastic results as you grow as a photographer.


Texture is easy to overlook as a beginner photographer, but it can really elevate your shots when used effectively within your composition. Is your subject particularly smooth? Sharp? Texturally unique? It’s a good idea to think about how best to highlight these textures.

Conversely, it can also pay to explore how to draw attention away from textures or other elements that you’d rather not feature prominently. Getting to grips with what works in this regard can significantly improve your skills as a photographer.


Lighting is of monumental importance in practically every aspect of photography. Composition is no exception. At an absolute minimum, it’s vital that you make sure your subject is well-lit and visible when taking photos.

The next stage in this line of thinking is experimenting with how your light sources are interacting with your chosen subject. Think about the conclusions you came to when considering the lines and shapes within your scene.

Would these elements benefit more from side lighting? What about a unique, backlit setup? Do you want shadows for a dramatic flare in your images, or would you like to eliminate them altogether?

Answering these questions can make it much easier to make decisions when it comes to setting up your shoot and finalizing your composition.

Check out our lighting guide for more tips.


Framing is adjacent to subject positioning but it deserves its own discussion here. In addition to choosing where your subject is placed within your scene, it can be valuable to think about how the other elements of your photo can compliment it.

In the same way that leading lines can direct the attention of your viewer, framing is all about telling your viewer where they should look. In the real world, improving your framing skills involves a process of trial and error.

Experiment with how you arrange your scene. Decide which element you want to highlight and play around with how you can position your other elements to do so.

Colors and Contrasts

Color is a huge part of good photo composition. People respond very powerfully to a well-executed color palette. Take the time to look at your chosen subject carefully. Which colors immediately stand out to you?

Tweak the settings of your camera to find a color temperature that will best highlight these colors. Alternatively, consider whether a black and white image might be the best way to do your subject justice.

The dramatic flair that black and white images bring can be brilliant for emotional or more ‘serious’ shoots.

Composition Challenges

In case we haven’t driven this point home enough already — practice makes perfect. The more you can get out there and put the tips described above into practice the better. This section contains a few real-world scenarios that offer a perfect opportunity to try out what you’ve learned. Check them out below.


harsh lines in an architecture photograph

Check out the harsh lines of this building.

Architecture offers a rich vein of challenges for the budding photographer. Some buildings present harsh, sharp lines. Others use curved glass and smoother elements. It’s also possible for buildings to use both of these elements in tandem.

Find some interesting buildings in your local area and experiment with capturing them. Use the tips we discuss above to experiment with how you compose your scene.

How can you highlight the natural shapes presented by a building? Conversely, how can you “work against” them?


Nature is packed full of brilliant subjects. In fact, the genre is so diverse that we outline a couple of more specific examples below.

Landscape Photography

lake landscape photo

Which lines call out to you in this image?

The broad, sweeping landscapes found in the great outdoors are a brilliant subject for a new photographer to sink their teeth into. Choose a wide focal length and practice capturing these scenes in all their glory.

In terms of lines and shape, the horizon is a huge element to consider with this type of photography. Another important consideration is focus. With such a broad scene, how best can you focus your camera to do the image justice?

Other Examples

Other examples of excellent nature subjects include:

  • Animals (can you compose a shot that emphasizes their movement?)
  • Trees (what lines and shapes capture your imagination?)
  • Foliage
  • The sky


macro dandelion photo

Where do your eyes first fall when viewing this image?

Moving in the opposite direction now, macro photography is a phenomenal world of ultra-close-up shots. Your tolerances for focus and movement will be much smaller with this kind of work.

Framing and leading lines are more important than ever with macro photos. The vivid details you’ll be capturing can take a little practice to get right. Don’t be disheartened if your first few attempts don’t come out the way you expected.

Check out our guide to macro photography.

Portrait Shots


portrait of a girl in flowers

Note how the photographer has framed this model with the plants in the foreground.

Human beings are an excellent subject to practice composition with. The primary reason for this is that everyone’s face needs a slightly different approach. Different models will look better with different lighting, framing, and compositional setups.

Ask a few friends if they’d like their photo taken. Pay attention to what makes each model look best. You may find that different people need wildly different approaches to produce an image that’s flattering.

Learn about the 3/4 view here.

Final Thoughts

It’s easy to feel intimidated by composition in photography. The reality is, however, that it’s less complicated than many people think. We strongly recommend getting out there and practicing with your camera as much as possible.

Taking photos in the real world will improve your skills far more than any article ever could. Use the tips we’ve outlined on this page when shooting and experiment with how you put them into practice.

You’ll be composing shots like a pro in no time!


Aperture vs f/stop: What do the terms mean + relationship

An interesting discussion that comes up in digital photography(and indeed photography in general) is that of aperture vs f/stop. So what exactly is aperture, what is f/stop, and what is the difference or similarity between the two? Let’s find out.

Aperture is the actual size of the opening of the lens: how much light is being let in. F/stop is a numerical setting for aperture. Lower f/stop numbers mean larger apertures, and higher f/stop numbers mean smaller apertures.

What is aperture

Aperture is a measure of the amount of light the lens of the camera is letting in. The aperture is usually denoted on the camera in terms of an f/stop, which we will talk about later in the post.

Generally speaking, a large aperture means more light comes in to the camera. Smaller apertures result in the opening of the lens being smaller, so less light enters the camera.

A good way to think about aperture is looking at how the human eye works. Your eye has a mechanism to control how much light enters. If you are in low light conditions, the iris of you eye expands to let more light in. The more light that comes in, the better an image you can see.

The opposite is true in bright conditions. Here, there’s a lot of light on the outside, so you don’t need to let as much in to get a good image. Your iris contracts, and that limits the amount of light let in.

This is an example of a photo shot with a large aperture. The depth of field is such that the tree is sharp, and the background loses sharpness. Photo by Markus Spiske from Pexels

Configuring aperture

In most modern cameras with auto shooting modes, you don’t really need to worry about setting aperture manually for every shot. Auto modes do a pretty good job of taking decent photographs.

However, when you set the camera into manual mode, you can really tweak the photographs to get a whole range of effects.

To configure aperture, your dSLR camera will probably have an A mode and an M mode. The A mode stands for aperture priority, in which you can adjust the aperture manually and the camera will automatically adjust the other settings to match.

In M mode, which stands for manual, you can change the aperture and all of the other settings as well.

Learn how to know what aperture to use here

Aperture and exposure

One of the first places you’ll see an effect by changing the aperture is in the exposure of the photograph. In large apertures, since the opening of lens is now bigger, more light is let in, so the photograph will have more exposure.

In very bright conditions, using the maximum aperture can result in a photo which is way too bright and perhaps even washed out because of all the light.

In very dark conditions, using the minimum aperture can result in a photo which is too dark.

One of the best ways to learn how your camera sensor responds to changes in aperture and the effects that has on the exposure of your photographs is to simply crank it up to maximum aperture, take a photo, then go down to minimum aperture, and take another photo.

You can then compare the two images to see how the camera behaves at extremes, and start adjusting in between.

Size of the aperture and depth of field

A really cool effect you can create using aperture is adjusting the depth of field. Depth of field is a way of showing how much of the subject is in focus.

Shallow depth of field(also known as thin depth of field) is where the background is blurred out completely, and only the foreground is in focus. A large or deep depth of field is where the background and foreground are both in focus.

Large aperture settings will decrease the depth of field, resulting in what you’d call shallow or thin depth of field. This setting is actually ideal for taking portraits or any kind of photo where you only wish to focus on the subject and nothing else.

Smaller aperture settings will increase the depth of field, resulting in what you’d call a deep or large depth of field. This setting is ideal for taking landscape photos where you’d like the focus to be uniform across the entire photograph.

Another way to think of this is that aperture plays around with the focal length. You can achieve a similar result by manually focusing the lens to keep the foreground in focus and blur the background(or vice versa).

The easier way to do it is just by adjusting aperture to change the focal length, though. In photography, the effect you can achieve by adjusting the focal length through aperture settings is called bokeh.

Size of the aperture and shutter speed

Next up, let’s talk about the size of the aperture and its relationship to shutter speed.

In a larger aperture setting, where more light is entering the camera, you’ll need to increase the shutter speed because more light can enter in less time thanks to the larger opening in the lens.

In a smaller aperture setting, where less light is entering, you’ll need to decrease the shutter speed because less light can enter, and you need more time to let enough light reach the sensor.

This is important to remember! If you crank up the aperture and use a slow shutter speed, the entire photo will just be a big blob of light with no details whatsoever.

The same thing goes for the opposite – if the aperture is very small and you have a fast shutter speed, you’ll end up with a really dark photo.

In Aperture priority mode(A mode), your camera will handle shutter speed for you, so you don’t need to worry about adjusting it. That does not mean that you can set aperture to anything and end up with a good photo, though!

If you set the aperture very small and you’re in low light conditions, the camera will compensate by decreasing the speed of the shutter, so unless you’ve got the camera mounted on a tripod and/or your subject is still, your photo will end up blurry.

F/stops or f/numbers

F/stops or f/numbers are a measurement of the aperture. Things can get a little confusing here because smaller f/stop numbers indicate larger apertures, and larger f/stop numbers indicate smaller apertures.

This is counterintuitive at first, but you’ll get used to it soon enough.

While we’re at it, let’s talk about some f/stop ranges and see what kind of images they’d produce.

f/0.95 to f/1.4

f/0..95 to f/1.4 are super high apertures and only available on professional lenses. These are suited to extreme low-light photography(think night sky, dimly lit parties), and if you use such an aperture for shooting portraits or close-up shots, you’ll notice that the subject will pop out of the background due to the extreme depth of field.

f/1.8 to f/2.0

Pro-hobbyist lenses sometimes go to these levels, and while not as good as f/0.95, it will still produce respectable images in low light conditions. This level is still good for shooting really nice up-close shots.

f/2.8 to f/4

The f/2.8 to f/4 range is what you’ll find in most zoom lenses. Obviously, these won’t be able to capture as much light as the lower f/stop lenses, but they’re still pretty decent and can get you good depth of field for everyday shooting conditions. You can also use this range for sports, wildlife, or travel photography.

f/5.6 to f/5.8

f/5.6 to f/8 is great for landscape photography where the size of the lens opening is just enough to get a good depth of field to capture as many details as possible. You can also use this aperture setting for taking photos of large groups of people where all the subjects need to be as sharp as possible.

f/11 to f/16

In situations requiring extreme depth of field, like large, sweeping landscapes or buildings, these are the ranges you need your f stops to be in. Below f/8, you’ll start losing sharpness, so be careful.


Minimum and maximum aperture of lenses

An important thing to remember is that not all lenses are equal when it comes to aperture. Lenses have a physical limit on the opening of the aperture: how large or small it can be.

Maximum aperture is very important, and probably more so than minimum aperture, because that will determine how much light can enter the sensor in total. This is a good way to measure how your camera performs in low light conditions.

As far as large aperture is concerned, a lens with a rating of f/1.4 or f/1.8 can open up pretty wide and let in a lot of light. These are also termed fast lenses.

Other budget lenses sometimes have the biggest aperture rated at f/4.0. For larger apertures, you’ll need to be prepared to shell out more cash.

The upper limit is more important than the lower limit because most lenses can go down to f/14 or f/16, which is really more than enough for most use cases.

Aperture and zoom

Here’s where things get interesting: when you zoom in and out, the limit for aperture changes on many lenses. This does not apply to all lenses, but most, especially the ones that cameras often ship with.

You may see that when you are zoomed out all the way(wide), the aperture will be on the lower end at f/3.5, but if you zoom in all the way, the aperture will shrink to f/5.6 or so.

There are lenses available that can maintain the aperture while zoomed in and zoomed out all the way, but again, you’d have to be prepared to shell out more cash.

Types of Lighting in Photography: Beginner’s Guide With Examples

Photography is a beautiful discipline. Mastering the art means getting intimately familiar with the different types of lighting that photographers deal with on a daily basis. The more you know about your light source and the types of lighting in photography, the better your photos will become.

This page will run through the different types of light you’re likely to encounter on your photography journey. From soft light, to hard light and everything in between; we’ve got you covered.

Types of Light in Photography

The list below explains some of the most common lighting types and how to work with them.

Front Lighting


This type of light comes from in front of your subject. When taking photos of people, front lighting can illuminate their face and bring out their best features. Get used to tweaking your exposure settings to make sure your photo doesn’t come out too bright.

This is one of the most common and straightforward approaches to lighting. It’s the one that most of us get to grips with first when starting out with photography. This approach can produce some fantastic images with a little practice.



Backlighting describes when the light source is placed behind the subject you’re shooting. When used correctly, backlighting can create a “glowing” effect around the edges of your subject. Smartphone and less premium cameras struggle with this, however.

You’ll need a camera that can handle the white balance and high contrast demands that come with this approach to lighting. The exposure settings on your camera will help you get the shot you need.

Rim Light


This is a type of backlighting that emphasizes the edges of your subject. A thin ‘rim’ of light runs around the edge of the person or thing you’re shooting for a great effect.

When using rim light, your photos will have a less hazy edge. Play with your exposure settings to tweak the visibility of your subject’s features.

Soft Light


Soft light is bright but well-balanced. An image that’s shot with plenty of soft light will have fewer hard lines and sharp shadows. When taking photos of faces, soft lighting will eliminate shadows under the eyes and lighten darker areas of the subject.

Sunlight that shines through clouds is soft, for example. It’s diffused through the clouds, creating a light source that is indirect. Photographers use soft boxes and even translucent windows to achieve this type of lighting.

Diffused Light


Diffused light, like ‘soft light’ above, can be achieved with many different light sources, both natural and artificial. Sunlight passing through clouds is diffused. This type of light is soft and indirect; it won’t cast long shadows or cause sharp, dark lines to emerge in your shots.

Artificial lighting options for this kind of light include professional diffusers, soft boxes and umbrellas. These help photographers achieve the light they need while shooting.


Light meter apps

Hard Light


Hard light creates crisp, hard shadows on the subject that you’re shooting. This type of lighting comes from a comparatively small, direct light source. Fresnel lights and individual light bulbs are often used to create hard, direct light in certain environments.

For more dramatic or creative compositions, a setup that uses hard lighting can work well.

Flat Light


Flat lighting produces images with much less contrast between the highlights and shadows in a scene. Photography that uses too much flat lighting can lead to undesired “2d” results.

Midday light is often described as flat; the videos and images taken at this time of day can lack the “punch” that many photographers look for. A common application of flat lighting is in some portrait photography. The forgiving nature of flat light means that blemishes and other facial features are less noticeable.

Broad Light


Another type of lighting that’s used in portrait photography is broad lighting. This approach lights a portion of the subject’s face more brightly, resulting in a broader face in the final image. While this effect isn’t desirable for everyone, people with particularly narrow faces can benefit from broad lighting.

This approach is also used to increase the available contrast for a wide variety of photography scenarios.

Short Light


When shooting with short light, the light source lights the side of the subject that is facing away from the camera. In portrait photography, this can emphasize the narrower side of the face while creating shadows on the broader side.

Short lighting is also used by photographers to increase the contrast in their images.

Split Light


Split light involves lighting one side of your subject and leaving the other in shadow. Hence: ‘split’ lighting. For more dramatic shots, this approach can work very well. One side of a model’s face will be highlighted in vivid detail while the other is cast in mystery.

This setup is sometimes referred to as “old Hollywood” lighting, as it was common in earlier movie sets.

Side Lighting


Side lighting describes when your subject is lit from one specific side. Like with split lighting, your light source should be positioned to the side of the person or object you’re shooting. Try experimenting with this approach to photography.

It can add an artistic flair to your images and bring texture to an otherwise flat shot.

Rembrandt Lighting


This is a type of side lighting, or split lighting, named after the painter Rembrandt who used a particular lighting style in his paintings. Similar to the styles outlined above, one side of the subject is lit and the other is in shadow.

In Rembrandt lighting, the difference is that a triangle of light is used under the eye on the side of the face that is in shadow. This effect can add depth and texture to flat compositions.

Loop Lighting


Loop lighting is a great way to achieve flattering shots of your models. An artificial light source is placed just to the side of your subject, pointing downwards. This emphasizes more flattering features and bone structures while softening less “desirable” characteristics.

When setting up your shot, experiment by moving around your light source and paying attention to how this changes your model’s appearance. You may have to readjust each time if you’re working with multiple people.

Butterfly Light


The name for this light comes from the shadow that is cast under the nose of subjects when it’s used. With butterfly light, the key light is centred directly above your subject. This approach is often used when shooting women, as it highlights prominent cheekbones.

One thing worth mentioning is that this approach can also emphasize shadows under the eyes. Good portrait photography takes the unique look of each model into account and adapts accordingly.

Natural Light

As the name suggests, this lighting doesn’t use artificial lighting of any kind. Sunlight and, less typically, moonlight can be used to produce stunning shots if you know what you’re doing.

Depending on how you position your gear and subject, natural light can be used to achieve many of the lighting effects we’ve described above.

In photography, the “golden hour” is described by photographers as the time in the day where natural light is at its best. Cinematographers in particular love this time of day for filmmaking. The golden hour is the small time in the day after sunrise but before sunset.

Artificial Lighting

Artificial light comes in many shapes and sizes. Photographers use a broad range of different light sources to achieve different effects for their images. The type of light needed will determine the artificial light source used.

While photographers using natural light are far less able to control the quality of the light they’re using, artificial lighting gives users almost complete control over their shoot.

Light and Digital Photography – The Equipment You’ll Need

Knowing the different types of lighting in photography is half the battle. You also need to know how to achieve them. There is a plethora of different accessory options when it comes to photography lighting. We discuss the basics below.

Studio Lights

Picking up some decent studio lights is well worth the investment if you’re serious about your shooting. They allow you to establish the perfect conditions for each and every shoot. If you’re just starting out, a standard soft-box pair will be more than enough for most shoots.

Once you start developing specific demands, individual, specialized lights are worth considering.

External Flash

While not essential for every shoot, an external flash can be just what you need in certain situations. For shoots where you need to eliminate shadows or compensate for low light conditions, a good flash can be a godsend.

Add an Umbrella

Using a flash umbrella when shooting will diffuse the light from your flash for a softer, less harsh result. Larger umbrellas lead to a softer photo and smaller umbrellas still retain some sharp lines and shadows in certain contexts.

Light Stand

A decent, adjustable stand is essential for any light you pick up. A good stand will make it easy to change the height, angle and general position of your light. These stands can also be used to support external flash accessories, another key tool in the photographer’s arsenal.


Reflectors are a common lighting accessory used by most photographers worth their salt. They bounce, or reflect, light to where you need it to be. They usually come in the form of a collapsable disc that can fold away for easy storage.

The most common colors are gold, silver, white and black for different degrees of light absorption and reflection.


Any composition you plan for your image should take both lighting and movement into account. The best lighting equipment in the world will be useless if your image is ruined by a shakey camera.

A sturdy, adjustable tripod is a must for all types of photography and is well worth picking up if you’re a beginner. Look for models that allow you to quickly change the height and angle of your camera.

Lighting Basics

This section will run through the absolute fundamentals of how to tweak your camera in different lighting situations

Natural Lighting

When taking photos in non-artificial light, it’s important to remember that you’re at the whim of the elements. You can do a little to control the direction of sunlight using reflectors but ultimately, you have to adapt to your situation.

As a general rule, a wider aperture, slower shutter speed and higher ISO setting are a good idea when shooting in non-artificial light. This will give you the flexibility you need to get the right shot.

Diffused or Reflected Light

It’s useful to know what effect to anticipate when working with reflected light, as opposed to direct light. With reflected light, a softer result is what you should expect for your images. Any flat surface can, in theory, be used as a reflector, but the purpose-built ones work best.

Remember that the color of the reflector you use will influence the color of the lighting in your shot. When using this kind of light, a process of trial and error will be required to get things perfect. Get used to experimenting for a while to get your setup ready.

Direct Lighting

Any light that is pointed directly at your subject is direct lighting. Understanding when to use a direct light source is important. When used correctly, it can eliminate shadows or bring focus to the right part of your image. When used gratuitously, it can blow out your shot or overshadow parts of your photo.

Final Thoughts

Practice makes perfect; spending time experimenting with these lighting setups is the best way to master them. Trial and error is the name of the game here. At first, you’ll feel like you’re tweaking your positions endlessly before you’re even ready to take your picture.

Over time, you’ll soon develop the intuition needed to get things perfect quickly. Remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Start with direct, front lighting and slowly move your way up to a more obscure type of side lighting like Rembrandt lighting.

Pay attention to how each approach can transform your subject and you’ll be a master photographer in no time!

What Does ISO Stand for in Photography?

Photography is a phenomenal art form and a truly rewarding hobby to pick up. One aspect of taking photos that can put people off, however, is the number of confusing terms they have to deal with. What does ISO stand for in photography anyway? In this article, we’re going to find out.

While the automatic settings of your camera can do a lot of the “thinking” for you when you’re first starting out, you don’t have to be a budding photographer for long before you start experimenting with your manual settings.

Getting to grips with manual mode is a critical part of becoming a better photographer. Your ISO setting is no exception. On this page, we’ll explore what ISO stands for, what it’s used for in photography, and how to use it in different environments.

Read on to learn more.

ISO — Photography Definition

If we’re being technical, ISO stands for the International Organization for Standardization. In short, this is an internationally recognized body that sets standards for all manner of electronic devices, features, and technologies.

One such standard set by this organization is photography film’s sensitivity to light. Back before the days of digital cameras, the ISO of film referred to its ability to “gather” light. The higher the ISO number, the more light it was able to absorb effectively.

ISO in Digital Cameras Explained

Today, ISO refers to how sensitive a camera’s sensor is to light. For this reason, changing the ISO setting on your camera will affect how it performs in different lighting conditions. The higher you set your ISO, the more your device will react to light.

In darker environments, therefore, a higher setting is usually required. It’s worth keeping in mind that ISO is just one factor to consider when adapting to your available light. We explore the other things to keep in mind further down this page.

ISO Range in Cameras

As a general rule, the ISO range that a camera offers tells you a lot about how well it will perform in different lighting conditions. A smaller range is more typical of cheaper models, while pro-grade cameras come with a much broader spectrum.

An average range is somewhere around 200-1600, but more expensive cameras can go significantly higher than this.

ISO, Exposure, and the Exposure Triangle

As mentioned earlier, ISO isn’t the only thing you’ll have to think about when it comes to getting the right exposure for your images. You’ll also have to factor in aperture and shutter speed to the equation.

These three elements, ISO, aperture, and shutter speed, are what’s referred to as the exposure triangle in photography. It’s a fundamental aspect of improving your skills as a photographer.

Aperture Explained

In a nutshell, the aperture of your camera refers to the size of the physical opening that lets light into the lens. This setting can be tweaked to let more or less light into your setup depending on what you’re shooting and how much light you have available.

Shutter Speed

Shutter speed refers to how long it takes for the shutter of your camera to close when taking an image. A slower speed lets in more light, while a faster speed can let in significantly less.

Tweaking this setting is another way to affect how much light gets into your camera.

Priority Modes

Most modern cameras come with two “priority” modes:

  • Aperture priority
  • Shutter priority

If you’re new to changing the manual settings of your camera, these modes can be a great way to get started without “messing up” your images.

Aperture priority lets users set a specific aperture value manually while letting the camera choose an appropriate shutter speed automatically. Shutter priority is exactly the same concept in reverse — a shutter speed can be set manually, with the camera handling aperture.

We recommend experimenting with these settings – they’re a great way to learn more about what gets results when taking photos.

How to Use Your ISO Setting

If you’re wondering how to make the most out of your ISO setting, we outline some basic tips below.

The Automatic Option

If you’re brand new to photography, or just want to make sure that things don’t get “messed up,” most modern cameras come with good enough automatic settings to do the thinking for you.

In a casual photography setting, there’s no shame in relying on automatic settings. Once you’re taking shots in low-light environments, however, manual settings are probably the way to go.

The level of control that comes with manual mode is hard to argue with.

When to Use High ISO

As a general rule, low-light environments call for a higher ISO setting. Increasing your camera’s sensitivity to light will allow it to “amplify” the appearance of the scene you’re capturing and produce an image that looks brighter overall.

It’s important to keep in mind that ISO has a close relationship with image noise. The higher your ISO setting, the more likely it is that your image will have noise distortions and grains. This means camera shake is extra deadly when using a higher ISO.

For this reason, only raise your ISO if you don’t have the light you need.

We outline some more use cases for a high ISO setting below.

When Capturing a Moving Subject

While it’s true that image noise is often an issue with a higher ISO, increasing the setting can still prove useful when capturing a moving subject.

The higher shutter speed you’ll need to use when capturing movement can result in a very dark exposure. Unless you raise your ISO that is.

When You’re Indoors

The darker environments that are often encountered indoors can call for a higher ISO. It’s best not to go crazy, but bumping the setting a little can work wonders for many of your shots. Experiment with your levels to find what works for you.

When to Use Low ISO

In brighter scenes, a lower ISO setting can often work well. As a general rule, it’s a good idea to take advantage of whatever light you have available before resorting to raising your ISO. If you have plenty of light in your scene, keep your settings down to an appropriate level.

Check out some other examples below.

Landscape Nature Photography

Another application that’s common for lower ISO is with landscape nature photography. Image noise can ruin any kind of photo, but it’s especially noticeable with this kind of photo. The longer exposures used for landscapes mean that image noise can ruin your final result.

Keeping your ISO setting nice and low can significantly reduce the risk of image noise.

When in Doubt…

It’s a bit of an oversimplification, but a lower ISO setting tends to be the safest bet. If you’re unsure which level to choose, either opt for automatic settings or choose a number that’s relatively low.

Higher ISOs can be tricky to deal with, especially if you’re free-holding your camera and don’t have a tripod available.

a bright image like this requires very low iso
A bright image like this uses a very low ISO setting


What is composition?

ISO — Conclusion

While photography terminology can be intimidating to the uninitiated, most of this stuff is much simpler than you might expect. The main thing to remember with ISO is that it describes how sensitive your digital camera is to light.

The higher the ISO, the higher the sensitivity. Just remember that shutter speed and aperture are just as important when it comes to image exposure.

Happy shooting!

How many megapixels is 4k(an interesting way to look at it)

4K basically envelops tow high resolutions; this includes an aspect ratio of 3840 x 2160 pixels and 4096 x 2160 pixels. When 4K is mentioned, it basically refers to twice the line resolution or 2160p or four times pixel resolution. Using 4K on multimedia devices has clear benefits, as it provides a clearer and more detailed picture.

TOSHIBA 50LF711U20 50-inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV HDR - Fire TV Edition

Is 8mp the same as 4K?

The understand 4k resolutions, we need to understand resolutions in general. A megapixel equals one million pixels. Therefore, a camera that has 4 megapixels is the equivalent of a pixel resolutions or aspect ratio of 2688 x 1520 or 4,085,760 pixels. 8 megapixels is double that amount.

Now, 4K stands for ultra high definition and provides a higher resolutions through horizontal pixels. When you are dealing with 4K, you are looking at pixels on the horizontal edge of a rectangular frame. If you do the math, 2000 pixels on the vertical edge of 4K comes with approximately 8 million pixels. 8,294,400 pixels to be exact.

The 4K phenomenon has been coined as a big marketing advantage by numerous manufacturers of television screens and computer monitors. It is claim that video is much clearer, but that color is also better on a higher resolution. However, with 4K resolution, you must remember that the horizontal edge is 4000 pixels and the vertical edge 2000 pixels. So, the answer to the “what is 4k resolution?” question is not as simple as first thought.

Same as television screens, you can find cameras with such high definitions as well. It is important to remember that cameras with a higher resolution will require an SD card with a higher capacity. Your current SD cards may not have the capacity for 4K cameras, nor will they be able to store all the 4K video. So, when you purchase cameras who are able to capture 4K, be sure to get the appropriate storage cards to go with them.

How many megapixels is full HD?

To understand how megapixels are translated in full HD, we need to understand the difference between them. In theory, HD could be considered as a subcategory of the megapixel. For example, a camera with more than one million pixels is automatically a megapixel camera. The lowest available resolution is 1280 x 1024 pixels, while some of the highest camera resolutions span a number of pixels of 3648 x 2752 pixels.

The pixel definition of an HD camera is a resolution of 720p or 1080p. Both of these refer to to the horizontal resolution we mentioned earlier. So, an HD camera of 720p is not considered as a megapixel camera. Nevertheless, this does not necessarily mean that they provide less quality where color and video is concerned. It all depends on the kind of camera you need.

Is 4 megapixels better than 1080p?

1080p refers to 2 megapixels, so it is basically half of 4. Where video is concerned, the additional number of pixels can have an influence on color and video clarity. That being said, pixels are not the only consideration when it comes to choosing a high-quality camera, television screen, or computer screen.

4K is also known as Ultra HD. It is used to acquire much more detail and texture on video. Even though 4K is considered as relatively new in the world of video technology, 5K has also made its entrance for video. On the bright side, this has made 4k resolution screens and cameras a lot more affordable.

It is important to note, however, that there is a small difference between 4K and Ultra HD. While 4K is commonly defined as 3840 x 2160 4K resolution, this is actually the definition of Ultra HD. 4K is actually the exact video resolution of 4096 x 2160. Nevertheless, both terms are used interchangeably, which has altered its definition over time.

When 4K was new, it was quite difficult to find content that could be played under that resolution. Fortunately, 4K television is not as new as it once was, so there are plenty of television stations that now play their video content in a resolution of 4K.

There is also lots of video content that can be streamed in 4K; this includes content from streaming providers such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. Of course, not everyone has need for this content, as not everyone has made the upgrade to 4K yet. Still, if you are looking to make the upgrade to 4K, you will find much to enjoy.

How To Select A Genuine 4K Television

When you select a UHD television, there are many things to consider. So, to end this overview, let us give you some much needed pointers to select the right television with 4K resolution.

Check the resolution: When you purchase a 4K, always make sure the resolution is accurate. Something may be advertised as 4K, never trust a sales pitch alone. In other words, check for a resolution of 4096 x 2160.

UHD premium branding: Genuine Ultra HD television screens will be marked as such. Before the arrival of higher resolutions, there was no real guideline to what true UHD really meant. Now, such television screens have a much needed marking in the form of premium branding.

To be considered as true UHD, the television screen in question must meet certain requirements. It must have a high-dynamic range enabled, show at least 90% P3 color gamut, minimum brightness to influence white and darker colors, 1024 shades of primary colors, and a minimal display resolution of 3840 x 2160.

It needs to be mentioned that not all manufacturers who have televisions that meet these requirements will have the UHD label displayed. So, you could encounter options that meet these requirements, but without a clear label display. Simply check the specs of the television to ensure it meets the requirements before you make a purchase.

Check for HDR: Nowadays, consumers look for something called HDR, which stands for High-Dynamic Range. HDR basically has an impact on the richness and depth of colors, and not so much clarity as one would expect. Nevertheless, it is an incredibly important feature for any modern television. If incredible picture is what you want, then HDR is an unmissable option.

HDR types: When you start looking for 4K televisions, it is vital to know that there are multiple types of HDR.

One of the HDR types is HDR10. This type of HDR is commonly used by major brands such as Sony and Samsung. Since HDR is used by these big brands, you are likely to encounter this open format HDR.

As a second form of HDR, you can encounter Dolby Vision. It is a closed format, which means it requires a specific chip inside the television. However, this closed format HDR is not used inside Sony and Samsung televisions.

You do not have to choose one or the other when it comes to HDR, because some television brands such as LG and Vizio offer both HDR technologies. If you don’t want to choose one over the other, you could choose a television of either of these brands.

Check your TV is 10-bit: Do not obtain an 8-bit television when you are looking for 4K, as it cannot deliver the range of colours you truly need for this resolution. 10-bit televisions are also more likely to stand the test of time. So, if you do not want to be in need of another upgrade in the nearby future, be sure you are future-proofed with a 10-bit television.

Consider OLED: LED comes with most modern televisions, but you may consider a television with OLED instead. OLED screens work on a pixel-by-pixel basis, which means that you can count on a much more vivid contrasting and even true blackness.

When you consider OLED, you must consider some of the disadvantages it may bring. OLED screens have shown to score a little less than LED scores in terms of brightness. Some OLED screens may also suffer from input lag. So, if you are considering OLED, be sure to have a thorough look at the reviews and research the television screen properly to avoid problems.

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Things To Remember About 4K

There are a couple of things to remember about 4K. Firstly, remember that not all televisions and screens advertised as 4K are necessarily that. Always check the resolution of the screen before you make a purchase. Also, be sure you check that the screen in question meets the requirements we explained in detail earlier.

Remember, the most expensive screen is not always the best. While 4K can be accompanied by a higher cost, the most expensive option in the range does not necessarily mean it is the highest performing.

Fortunately, you have a pretty good idea what you are looking for now thanks to our overview with vital information. Simply use this overview as a guide during your screen selection and you are bound to come up with the best option out there.