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 temporausch.com 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.

4×6 pixels: the best resolution for printing

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.

What’s 4×6 in pixels?

In case you’re in a hurry, the correct number of pixels required for a standard 300DPI 4×6 print is 1200 x 1800 pixels.

Stick around for the longer explanation, which is really interesting and can help you calculate pixel size for pretty much any print.

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.

Calculating pixel dimensions for prints(300 DPI)

For 4 x 6 print size, you need a resolution of (4 x 300) x (6 x 300) or 1200 x 1800.

For 5 x 7 print size, you need a resolution of (5 x 300) x (7 x 300) or 1500 x 2100.

For 8 x 8 print size, you need a resolution of (8 x 300) x (8 x 300) or 2400 x 2400.

For 8 x 10 print size, you need a resolution of (8 x 300) x (10 x 300) or 2400 x 3000.

You can very easily extrapolate the pixel dimensions for larger prints from these calculations.

Remember, 300 dots per inch is the magic number you want to try and maintain. It does not matter if you are printing at home or printing them professionally, try and stick to this number of the best photo quality.

Calculating pixel dimensions for prints(Lower DPI)

For 4 x 6 print size, you need a resolution of 500 x 750 pixels

For 5 x 7 print size, you need a resolution of 625 x 875 pixels

For 8 x 8 print size, you need a resolution of 1000 x 1000 pixels

For 8 x 10 print size, you need a resolution of 1000 x 1250 pixels

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.

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.

Flat lighting in photography: causes, when to use, and how to avoid

Photographers will often throw around rather weird terms in everyday conversation, like “the lighting looks flat”. Flat lighting is in fact a common issue with many photographs and it can either be deliberate or accidental.

Interestingly enough, there will be some situations where you’ll want to avoid flat lighting like the flu, and other situations where you’ll actively set up the shot so that the lighting is flat. It all depends on the kind of results you want.

What is flat lighting

Before digging any deeper, it is useful to see what flat lighting actually is. Flat lighting is when the subject or scene is very directly and broadly lit. While this makes for a bright photograph, direct, intense lighting does a poor job of accentuating depth, detail, highlights, shadows, and contrasts.

The result is a dull(in the sense of colors) and sometimes boring photograph.

Highlights and shadows help give depth to a photograph and can help in really making the scene or subject pop out. With no highlights or shadows, the scene or subject will look very 2 dimensional, hence the term flat.

If you’re into sketching or painting, you’ll know how important shadows are for adding a 3D effect to images. Without shadows, a mountain is just a big triangular shape. But with shadows, the same triangle is turned into a multi-faceted, complex mountain with snow and rocks and ravines.

flat lighting
This is an example of a portrait using flat lighting. Notice how there are very few shadows on the face. Here, the light was probably hitting the face directly and evenly.

This is an example of the opposite. Notice how the light is coming from one side, really bringing out the shadows around the nose and neck.

Causes of flat lighting

There are many reasons you may experience flat lighting in your photography. Often, amateur photographers will make the mistake of not timing their shots or setting up lighting correctly, and that’s why they end up with flatly lit shots.

It is worth mentioning here that the reasons below are not absolutes. Since photography is as much art as it is a science, you’ll realize that there are many nuances and subtleties in each situation and the best way to recognize them and get better is to just practice, practice, practice, and analyze, analyze, analyze.

1. Direct flash

Have you ever noticed that professional photographers often point their flash upwards when taking photos? In other situations, the flash is usually somewhere separate from the camera. Normally(especially with point and shoot cameras) the flash is pointing towards the subject.

When the flash is aimed directly at the subject, the result is the flash throwing an even blanket of light on the subject, eliminating most shadows and contrasts, and resulting in flat lighting.

However, you can use a flash(even an in-built one) to bring out shadows and highlights as well. To do this, you simply need to shoot from an angle, or have your subject turn their face a little.

When the light comes from an angle(the same thing essentially happens if the subject turns their face), the flash will illuminate part of the subject and create shadows on the other side.

This is why passport photos and drivers license photos are usually so unflattering, but natural, candid photos are a lot nicer!

2. Overcast sky

In some situations, very overcast skies where clouds are mostly covering the entire sky result in flat lighting. However, in other cases, the clouds actually improve the photograph by softening the light.

When the sun is out, there’s one concentrated light source that is slowly spreading out, and it will be more intense directly below the sun and less intense at other angles.

When there is cloud cover, the white clouds are essentially diffusing all that light evenly, so you essentially have a much bigger(albeit less bright) light source.

3. Shooting around noon

The noon sun is very bright, and the light is very harsh. Because the angle of the sun is minimal around noon time(though this will greatly vary depending on where you are in the world), when the subject is directly in front of the sun, it will produce a similar effect to what I described above with direct flashes.

The photograph will appear flat because the light will be very even and direct, and there won’t be many shadows or highlights.

However, if you set up your shot correctly, you can actually bring out a lot more shadows and highlights and this will result in a photograph that’s the complete opposite of flat!

There’s no one way to get this kind of result, and again, the best suggestion here is to practice in the midday sun with different angles.

You can actually experiment with a stationary object like a fountain or a statue and change the angle of your photograph around midday to see the varying results it produces.

Flat light vs hard or soft light

Since we’re talking about light, it’s easy to confuse flat light with hard or soft light, or even harsh light.

Hard, soft, and harsh light are all completely different concepts from flat light.

Hard light means light which results in a very steep contrast, where the highlights and light areas are very starkly contrasted.

In soft light, the transition is gradual and looks more natural.

That’s not to say that hard light is bad, as it can actually be very effective for achieving certain kinds of effects.

Finally, flat lighting is not always bad! Sometimes it is done deliberately. Again, it all depends on what effect you want to achieve with the photograph and how it is going to be used!


Pros of flat light

In some cases, professionals will utilize flat lighting for a particular effect. This is especially so in fashion and beauty photography.

Minimizing shadows and highlights is a great way to mask skin imperfections. The minimal highlights create a uniformity all over the skin.

Beauty and fashion photos are heavily edited anyway and the highlights and shadows are added in later on.

Flat lighting is also useful when shooting a subject in front of a white background. This helps to accentuate the model’s face in front of the background.

Cons of flat lighting

While fashion and beauty photographers may be fans of flat lighting, nature photographers consider it their bane as it really detracts from what the photograph could be.

As discussed above, flat light does not accentuate any highlights or shadows, and without highlights or shadows, scenery can seem really lifeless.

That’s why the best times to take photos of natural scenes is often golden hour or sunrise and sunset.

How to avoid flat light

Choose the time of day

Depending on what you want to photograph, you should choose the right time of day. Midday will not be a good time for sweeping landscapes, so if that’s your plan, try to get there early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

Research your shot

Instead of looking for things to shoot and click willy nilly, research your subject matter in advance.

Scout out the location, check it out at a few different times of day and varied angles to see which combination of time and angle will give you the result that you’re looking for.

It doesn’t hurt to have your camera with you, of course. If you happen to find the perfect combination of time and angle, you’ll just need to whip out your camera and take the shot.

Create your own lighting conditions

The best way to create your own lighting conditions – at least when shooting subjects that are up close – is to use an off-camera flash.

Position the flash or indeed light source wherever you feel you’ll get the best angle from and work from there.

If an off camera flash is not an option, use an on-camera flash but get creative with your shooting angles.

Follow the weather report

For outdoor photography, you’ll be heavily reliant on weather conditions for your lighting.

Clear skies will be conducive to bright photos, but if the sun is at an angle, as we saw above.

Cloudy skies will result in flat pictures mostly throughout the day since clouds dissipate the light evenly all over the sky.

Most of the time, you can get away with the results you want on slightly cloudy days, but when the cloud cover is like a blanket is when you may want to reconsider.

Try another time

Finally, if all else fails, just come back another time! Your scenery is (hopefully) not going anywhere anytime soon, so if you can’t get a shot of the mountain today, go shoot it tomorrow or next week.

The one time this will be an issue is if you’ve traveled a long distance to get the shot. In this case, I hope you checked the weather before buying your tickets, or at least booked enough days to account for the occasional hiccup in your plan!


As you can see, flat lighting is not always all bad. There are some conditions where flat lighting will be an advantage, and others where it will work against you.

The more practice you get and the more photographs you take and analyze, the better you’ll get at utilizing the light available to get the results you want.

Skylight filters: What are they and skylight vs UV filters

Skylight filters were made as a solution to a common problem in film cameras: most films were meant to shoot photos outdoors in natural sunlight, and if you tried to take a photo indoors or even in the shade, the colors would not come out naturally.

One alternative to skylight filters were UV filters, but with modern digital cameras, you can get away without using skylight filters at all. In fact, in most cases, you will be better off without any skylight filters at all.

example of a lens filter

Why skylight filters used to be important

In some circumstances, photographs would have a blueish tinge which messed up the overall colors of the picture. The blue tinge was caused by blue “cold” light which was present in overcast skies or cloudy skies.

That’s where the name “skylight” came from, since the filters were designed to counteract this issue.

If you were shooting indoors without a filter, you’d get really weird, yellow shades everywhere thanks to tungsten lights!

Skylight filters had an orangeish-pinkish-magenta color which would “warm” up the colors in the photograph, counteracting the “cool” blue light. Filters came in two varieties: 1A and 1B, where 1A had a milder tint and 1B had a more intense tint.

You would simply attach the filter to your camera lens whenever you were in those conditions, and once you were back in sunlight, you could remove the filter and shoot as normal.

Skylight filters were especially useful for film photographers taking nature photographs. If you wanted to photograph a distant mountain, there would be a lot of sky between you and the mountain and all that atmosphere adds a blueish tinge to your photos. The skylight filter helped warm up the color to make it look more natural.

This was a huge advantage, since you could not remove a roll of film until it was fully used up, and there was no way to adjust white balance.

Filters also served as a protective covering on the lens against scratches and bumps.


Should you use skylight filters on digital cameras?

The simple answer is no.

Digital cameras have advanced processing systems which can adjust white balance on the fly. White balance was an issue when films could only handle one kind of light, but digital camera sensors can adjust and compensate for different lighting as you’re taking the photo.

You can also adjust white balance manually, and if you don’t want to fiddle with it while you’re taking the shot, just shoot in RAW and adjust the white balance later.

If anything, using a skylight filter on a digital camera will change the light coming into the digital camera sensor and the camera will no longer be able to properly correct for white balance.

Additional filters also means additional layers of glass, which increases the possibility of flares. Finally, the magenta toned lens can mess up skin tones.

UV filters vs Skylight filters

UV filters are just an extra layer of glass that blocks UV light. Since UV is non-visible light, there’s no tint on UV filters. Skylight filters are the same as UV filters, except they have an orange/magenta tint to them.

Pixieset Review and How To Use It(Great solution for business)

Pixieset is an online photograph gallery platform that really shines as a way for professionals to show and deliver their photographs to clients.

With the advent of digital cameras one way of delivering photographs was via a USB drive. Indeed, a USB drive can be useful when there are a lot of photos to give, but even then, delivering photos through an online gallery that provides a good browsing experience and lets clients order whichever prints they need is much better.

Additionally, you can also show proofs and samples, and let your clients share whichever photos they want to share directly from the platform.

Essentially, a service like Pixieset ticks all the boxes for what people are looking for in digital photographs:

  • a way to browse through all of them very easily
  • a way to categorize them easily
  • a way to share them easily
  • a way to order prints for any photographs they want

Granted, Pixieset is not the only such service out there: there are plenty of other services, and in future posts, we may do some comparisons.

How to use Pixieset

Essentially, Pixieset is a way to upload your photos to a service that lets your client download and review them. They can also buy any photos they need.

It’s actually quite robust and gives you a lot of control on which features you want to enable or disable for your clients, which we’ll talk about later in the review.

As a photographer, one of the biggest pains and challenges(especially in the age of digital photographs where there’s no limit to how many you can take) is how to present them in a nice and professional way for your clients. Pixieset helps you do that.

Pixieset features: Collections or galleries

The essential feature in Pixieset is the Collections feature, or gallery feature. This is basically a showcase of thumbnails for all of your client’s photographs and in the gallery, your client can peruse them, download them, share them, and order prints(provided you enable these permissions for them).

A smooth gallery experience is what makes or breaks a service like this, and granted, most online photo galleries do a pretty good job of handling this part.

Upon setting up your account, there will be a few things you’ll need to do to get started. Ideally, you’ll want to upload a logo and set up a watermark and brand imaging, and you have quite a lot of customization options here. You can upload your company logo, a special cover photo for the gallery in question, and of course your watermark.

Watermarking is an important feature as you can use it to show pictures without really delivering the final product in case the client has not paid in full yet.

Once you have your account ready to go, you will want to drop into the Settings section really click to upload your logo and other brand imaging if you’d like (as seen in the image below). These items will be presented in different areas of the online gallery, and watermarks will be added when specified to image uploads (often for the purpose of providing proofs).

You can create as many collections as your plan permits, and the plans vary from free to different tiers of storage.

Note: Storage costs can add up, so it’s unlikely you’ll be able to keep every photo online forever. For this reason, it is prudent to the master storage on external hard drives, and utilize Pixieset for delivery.

Within galleries, you can break them down into sets. So if you were shooting one event that had many sub-events within it, you could have a gallery for the entire event and sub-sections for each smaller event within it.

This is super useful for weddings!

Now that you have your gallery set up, you can start uploading photos. Uploading is always going to take some time, especially if you have a lot of photos, because you’re limited by both your internet speed and the speed of Pixieset’s servers.

However, it’s not slow or anything, the speeds are quite up to par with what you’d find anywhere else.

Customizing your galleries

Pixieset offers you quite a bit of customization for your galleries. Parameters you can adjust are:

  • Name of the collection
  • Date of the even
  • Customized URL
  • Adding tags to group similar photographs/galleries

Within galleries, 3 features really stand out and make Pixieset shine amongst its competitors:

  1. Auto expiry
  2. Email registration
  3. Gallery assist

Auto expiry

Auto expiry is a really neat feature where you can set a time limit for how long the gallery would stay online before being taken down. This is quite crucial because storage is not unlimited!

The purpose of using a gallery suite like Pixieset is mainly for showing the clients the photographs immediately after the event. In this time, they can do what they want with the photographs. If there were just a few photos, it’s very easy for your client to download them wherever they want.

If there are many photos, you’d probably want to supply a hard drive or a usb drive with all the photos.

There’s no maximum on the auto expiry – you can keep the photos live for as little or as long a time as you like.

Please note though that once the gallery expires, you have no way of getting it back! So make sure you have backups!


Registration is a really cool feature built into Pixieset. Here, you can set up an opt-in that visitors must go through in order to view the gallery.

Using this, you can collect emails and see who is viewing which gallery. This data can then be used to build your mailing list and increase your prospective customers.

Please be aware that the best way to go about this is through an email service provider like GetResponse or Mailchimp and using a double opt-in to confirm people do want to sign up for your emails.

Gallery Assist

The last bonus feature is Gallery Assist, which basically starts a tutorial for any new visitor to your gallery. It walks them through the features available such as downloading, buying prints, and sharing.

As a business, you can potentially capitalize on some nice upselling here by encouraging your clients and visitors to buy prints(or at least showing them that they can easily do so here).

Setting up privacy with Pixieset

Privacy is hugely important, especially with photographs. Some photographs can also be boudoir in nature, so those are especially important to be kept private and out of the hands of malicious actors.

Pixieset makes it quite easy and straightforward to set up privacy barriers.

First off, you can set up a password and only those with the password can access a particular gallery.

For a further security step, you can make it so that only your clients or people you specify can access the gallery, and nobody else. Even within this access, your clients can further mark photos to be private and only visible to them and nobody else(but you of course).

Downloading and sharing photos

Even the ability to download and share is in your control. You may wish to disable downloading if you are just showing proofs to your client before finalizing the deal or selecting the photos.

You can enable downloads for your client and they’ll be able to download their photos in three sizes:

  • Full resolution
  • High resolution
  • Web

As an extra security step, you can enable a pin that must be entered before any photos can be downloaded. With email tracking, you can get a notification every time a photo has been downloaded so you can know which of the photos were saved.

While your customer is browsing through their photos, they can also share through social media(Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter are all supported) as well as directly through email.

Favoriting photos

Within the online gallery you create for your clients, they can favorite particular photos and even create lists of favorite images. This is a neat way for them to start organizing their photos in their own way.

Favoriting also saves you quite a bit of work, since you can just loosely categorize all the images and your client can filter them further at their own convenience. You can also create your own favorite list to showcase some specific images you want to show your client.

You also have control over how many images your client can put in a favorite list. So if you were assembling an album for them and you have limited space per section, you can make use of this feature.

Buying prints

Pixieset has done a super job of integrating a storefront into their gallery system. The option to buy is not in your face at all, so clients won’t feel obligated to buy – but the service is available and it’s a neat way for your client to get high quality prints very easily, and for you to earn some extra cash on selling prints.

Ordering prints can be quite a hassle, especially if you have to download the images, select them, take them to a shop, and get them printed. Pixieset streamlines everything in one neat flow.

You get to set the prices for print sizes and product options. Additionally, you can choose how the order will be fulfilled. This article on Pixieset explains this in great detail, but here is the gist of it:

  • The business can choose to self fulfill orders, or to have a lab fulfill them
  • If you self-fulfill, you’ll set your own prices and you’ll have to calculate how much your cost is vs how much you want to charge
  • If you choose lab fulfillment, you can see a price sheet with the costs of lab fulfillment, and you can set your prices accordingly. This way you can see how much you stand to make per print(of course, your prices have to be reasonable and competitive, and this is something you as a business owner would know best)

It’s very easy for clients to choose photos and print sizes, and a simple online checkout will get them on their way.

One added benefit of encouraging clients to print through Pixieset is that you have a degree of quality control over the prints. A low quality lab can easily ruin a great photo!

Mobile app

Here’s something interesting: the Pixieset app is not a mobile version of the full service. Instead, the app is a streamlined gallery, designed to help you easily showcase your photos on the go.

You can actually customize the app for client galleries and the app will be entirely offline, so if they want to download it to their phone or tablet and have the photos available for viewing anytime, they can do so.


Final thoughts

As a professional photographer, one of your main concerns is having a good way to deliver your product to your customers and clients. Pixieset makes it quite easy to do and ticks all the boxes of showing photos online, having the ability to categorize photos, and being able to order prints online.

This was a general overview of Pixieset and if you liked what you saw, we highly recommend giving it a spin – sign up for the free account and start playing with the features, and if you like it, you can go ahead and sign up.

3/4 View Portraits and Photographs: What does it mean?

One term that gets thrown around really often in photography and art is “3/4”. You can find it either as “3/4 view”, “3/4 photo”, or “3/4 portrait”. Perhaps there are other variations as well. So what exactly is 3/4?

There are actually 2 distinct meanings, which we’ll check out in this post.

Sometimes it is used to refer to the angle, and sometimes, it is used to refer to the framing of the photograph.

3/4 View Portrait: definition #1

Just using the term 3/4 is not going to be sufficient, but if you use a modifier word after the fraction, you’ll be able to understand what the meaning is.

If you see the term 3/4 portrait, it commonly refers to a shot where the model is framed from the top of their head down to about their knees.

In this kind of photograph, 3/4 of the model is visible in the frame, hence the name. A 3/4 portrait has nothing to do with the angle the model is at, just how much of the model is visible.

While this is most common for human and animal subjects, you could theoretically apply this principle to inanimate objects as well.

American cowboy shot

Another variation of the 3/4 shot which combines the 3/4 portrait and the 3/4 view is combined, in a shot commonly called the American cowboy shot.

In this, the head of the model is turned around 45 degrees from the camera, and 3/4ths of the model’s body is visible in the shot.

This shot became popular in classic Westerns where the face of the actor would be visible as well as the gun on their hip.

Notice how around 3/4 of the model is visible, and the head is turned away so around 3/4 of it is visible

3/4 View Portrait: definition #2

Another definition and perhaps the more common one for 3/4 view is the kind of angle the model is facing you at. This kind of shot is called a 3/4 view because the only visible portion of the model’s face is 3/4ths of it.

To set up this pose, the model has their head turned slightly away from the camera in a way that the ear opposite the camera is just out of shot.

Even though it’s called a 3/4 view, it won’t always be 3/4 since everyone’s face size and shape is a little different.

A similar shot to a 3/4 view is a 2/3 view, where the model’s head is turned even further away, enough that the opposite eye appears very near the edge of the face.

You can use 3/4 view to take a photograph of the entire body of your model, or you can use a 3/4 view portrait to just take a photo with their face and/or neck in the frame.

This is a great example of a 3/4 photo. One may even argue that the face is turned away enough to make it a 2/3 photo. It is quite subjective!

Of course, one small difference between a full body 3/4 view shot and a portrait is that for a full body shot, the models entire body will be turned, whereas in a 3/4 portrait, it may just be their face that’s turned away, but you can’t see the rest of the body in the shot!


Photographing other objects with 3/4 view

People are not the only things you can photograph with a 3/4 view. Many photos of locomotives, cars, airplanes, and other vehicles are commonly shot in a 3/4 view so that the front and the side can be visible.

3/4 photographs of cars can be used to accentuate certain features

For a bit more detail, the shot may be taken from a height to show parts of the top of the subject as well. This theme is very common in product photographs as well.

This product photograph is shot using a 3/4 angle

Fans of trains and locomotives will probably find this kind of shot very popular in their circles, as they feel this kind of shot is the ideal way to capture a photo of a train!

As you can see, 3/4 photos are very common and the principles can be applied to anything.


Doing 3/4th view photography

Now that you know what a 3/4 photograph is, how do you set it up? There are basically two ways to do it:

  1. If you’re photographing a model, you can have them angle their face away from you at the desired degree in a 3/4 pose
  2. If you’re photographing in the field, you’ll have to set yourself up at the 3/4 angle from your subject

You need to make sure the light is coming from the proper angle, too. Since only part of the model will be visible to you, make sure the light is coming in a way the desired parts of the model are illuminated.

The lighting problem can be overcome by using a flash.

It doesn’t really matter what kind of camera you are using: you can shoot great 3/4 photos on a dSLR or you can choose to shoot a picture on your camera phone – in 3/4 photos, it’s all about the composition and lighting.

Playing around with light

You can really get creative with your 3/4 face shots by experimenting with the way light hits your subject. Typically, you’d want to the area of the face that is looking at the camera to be illuminated.

For even more creative effects, try adjusting the light in the following ways:

  • Have the part of the face that is away from the camera be point for light to fall on. This will cause the 3/4 profile to have shadows cast over it, and depending on the strength of the light, can make for unique effects
  • You can also try casting the light from the top or bottom

Other ways you can make the 3/4 pose interesting is by having the model stand with their torso facing you but their face is turned away at a 3/4 angle.

Alternatively, they can be fully facing you at a 3/4 angle for a body shot.

Drawing a 3/4th view portrait

We’re mostly about photography, but 3/4 view is also a very common kind of art form in painting and sketching. We scoured the web for some of the best 3/4 view tutorials. 3/4 view is commonly used in drawing comic book and anime characters:


3/4 portrait photography gives you a lot of creative license to take some really amazing photographs. Utilizing angles and shadows also helps to improve photos from “deer stuck in headlights” to “dapper Dan” instantly!

Difference between SLR and dSLR cameras: Know your gear!

Let’s talk about gear: a common term used for describing cameras is SLR and sometimes dSLR. So what’s the difference between the two? And if you’re looking to buy, which one should you get?

What are (d)SLR cameras

So the first thing to talk about would be SLR cameras in general. dSLR cameras are actually a subset within SLR cameras, so once you understand what an SLR camera is, it will be quite simple to discuss dSLR cameras.

SLR is short for Single Lens Reflector.

This indicates the way light enters the camera, how the image is captured, and what you see in the cameras viewfinder or eyepiece.

In regular point and shoot cameras, the viewfinder sits above the lens, so there’s a tiny difference of a few centimeters between the center of the lens and the center of the viewfinder.

Manufacturers have to do this because compact cameras usually don’t have enough room to route the light from the lens to the viewfinder directly.

In SLR cameras, the light entering the lens is reflected using a mirror up to the viewfinder through a prism, so what you see through the viewfinder is what the lens is actually seeing.

The prism is important because the image hitting the mirror is actually upside down, and the prism makes it right-side-up again.

Note: Interestingly enough, the image that lands on your retina is also upside down. This is because the lens refracts the light and turns it upside down. Your brain automatically compensates for this and makes it right side up.

When you click the shutter button, the mirror springs up, letting light onto the film or image sensor, and springs back down to shut it again.

That’s why you see the viewfinder closing and opening when you take a photo.

Finally, SLR cameras have switchable lenses, which is arguably the biggest advantage they have over other cameras.


SLR cameras vs dSLR cameras

Now that you know what an SLR camera is, let’s talk about dSLR cameras and how they’re different from SLR cameras.

Essentially, dSLR cameras work in the exact same was as SLR cameras. Light enters through the lens, and a mirror reflects the light up through a prism into the viewfinder.

When you click the shutter button on an SLR camera, the mirror springs up and light falls on a roll of film, commonly 35 mm film.

When you click the shutter button on a dSLR camera, the mirror springs up and light falls onto a digital sensor which captures the image.

The major difference, as you can see, is that SLR cameras use film, and dSLR cameras use a digital sensor.

Because a digital sensor is involved, dSLR cameras can actually do a lot more with the image than a regular SLR camera.

Pros and cons of SLRs and dSLRs

Even though the basic mechanism is the same, since dSLRs are digital and SLRs use film, there’s a lot of differences.

Film and memory cards

The first and possibly most important distinction to make between the two is the fact that SLRs use film and dSLRs are digital.

Film cameras used to be the standard even after digital cameras first came about, because at the time, digital sensors were not quite advanced and could not capture as much detail as a film camera could.

Nowadays, digital sensors are very advanced and can capture huge images with incredible amounts of detail.

In today’s world, it’s difficult to find film anywhere, and it’s also difficult to find places that still develop film!

Aside from that, the obvious advantage of digital photographs is that you can store thousands on a memory card, whereas you can only take 30-40 photos per roll of film, so the cost of film and the cost of developing really adds up.

You can also view photos right away on a digital camera. With film, you have no idea how the photograph turned out until you develop it, and if you took a bad shot, that much film was basically wasted.

RAW photos

Another difference between SLRs and dSLRs is the ability of dSLR cameras to take RAW photos. RAW photos are photos where the whole range of exposure is captured in the photo, so you can post-process the photo to adjust exposure and bring out highlights and shadows.

Of course, this is only possible with the digital sensor.

Using film, you can only get what you captured, nothing else.

Shooting modes

Since the digital sensor is picking up the image live, you can actually utilize a variety of shooting modes and the camera can actually help you take better pictures.

Aperture priority

In aperture priority mode, you can control the aperture of the shot and the camera will automatically compensate the shutterspeed to get a good shot. Of course, the result will not always be perfect, but you can at least get a good range of shutter speeds to work with automatically.

Shutter priority

In Shutter priority mode, you can control the shutter speed and the camera will compensate with the aperture. Sometimes you’ll end up with a darker photo if you set the shutter speed too high for the lighting conditions and the camera just doesn’t have enough aperture to keep up.


Finally, digital SLR cameras actually can record really respectable video! Many vloggers and YouTubers actually like to use dSLR cameras for shooting video, often with a microphone attached to the hotshoe bay.

Power consumption

Power consumption is one avenue where SLRs actually do better than dSLRs. Because there is so much going on in a digital SLR, they will consume a lot of power and drain the battery fairly quickly.

Regular film SLRs won’t consume nearly as much power and one set of batteries can actually last quite a long time.

Heck, some film SLRs can work without batteries too, but you’ll have to adjust everything(including focus) manually.


Finally, let’s talk about sensitivity.


Sensitivity is measured by ISO, which is a measure of film speed, or how fast it can capture light. In films, higher ISOs were used for nighttime photography as they could capture light better.

With digital sensors such as in dSLRs, ISO was adapted into a feature that you could adjust up and down. In a film camera, you’d have to finish one roll of film of a given ISO before being able to change it.

With digital cameras, you can adjust the ISO up and down for every single shot. Plus, film ISOs only reached a certain sensitivity. Digital sensors are now capable of sensitivities hundreds of times greater.


dSLR cameras are now really inexpensive and entry level cameras can be found without breaking the bank at all. The beauty of these cameras is that you can just upgrade your lens when you want to up your game.

Film SLR cameras are not too common nowadays and if you factor in the cost of film and developing, it works out to be a lot more expensive!


As you can see, SLR and dSLR cameras are quite similar in their basic workings but as soon as you get past the mirror and reach the film or sensor is where the differences start to come out.

Today, dSLRs are the standard and film SLRs are just used by hobbyists and for highly specialized applications and situations.

More information:

Small aperture: what does it mean and when do you use it?

When people say “small aperture”, there is often some confusion as to what it means. In this post, we’ll talk about small aperture, large apertures, and how they affect your photographs.

What is meant by small aperture?

A small aperture is a large f-stop number. The f-stop is a way of measuring what the aperture of the lens is at. The higher the f-stop, the lower the aperture – meaning less light will be let into the camera.

Small aperture vs big aperture

On the other hand, a small f-stop number means a large aperture. The smaller the f-stop number is, the larger the opening in the lens will be and more light will be let into the camera.

How to read f-stops

f-stops are indicated by the letter f and a number, like f/8 or f-8. Here’s the part that confuses most beginning photographers:

F stops go in the opposite direction of aperture!

To recap:

Higher f-stops means smaller aperture

Lower f-stops means bigger aperture

An f-stop of say f/16 will mean the opening in the lens is very small, allowing very little light through. An f-stop of f/2.8 on the other hand will mean the opening in the lens is quite large, and will allow a lot of light through.

You can use the f-stop to control the exposure in your photographs. Higher f-stops are good for photos in bright sunlight, and low f-stops are good for night photography or in situations where there is little light.

Common aperture and f-stop values

F-stops are standardized, which means that for the most part, the aperture on a particular f-stop on one lens will be the same as the same value f-stop on another lens.

When you are shopping for lenses, you’ll be able to see the maximum and minimum aperture the lens is capable of. This will help you decide on which lens to get.

For most everyday photography, a stock lens that can do f/2.8 up to f/16 will be fine.

For more specialized applications, you will need to get specific lenses that can manage apertures of up to f/1.4 or f/22 and f/32.

f/8 is about halfway(it doesn’t make sense, but that’s how it is) between extremely low and extremely high values.

a chart of aperture values

Combining aperture and shutter speed

Aperture needs to be used in conjunction with shutter speed, otherwise your photos will not come out correctly. At smaller apertures, where the lens is wide open, you need to use a faster shutter speed. Otherwise, you risk letting too much light into the photograph and over-exposing it.

At larger apertures, where the lens is stopped down(smaller), you will need to use a slower shutter speed. Otherwise, not enough light will enter the lens and your photos will come out darker.

In most digital cameras and dSLRs, you will find a function that will let you adjust the aperture and compensate the shutter speed automatically.

When you are starting out, this is a good setting to use. You can make a note of what shutter speed the camera used for your desired aperture, and if you’re not happy with the result, pop over to manual mode, set the aperture you need, and adjust the shutter speed based on what you noted in the first shot.

Aperture and depth of field

Aside from controlling exposure, aperture is also very useful for varying the depth of field of your photographs. Put simply, depth of field means how much of your photo is sharp and how much is blurred.

By adjusting the aperture, you can either blur the background and part of the foreground, or you can make the entire photograph relatively sharp.

This is especially evident in landscape photographs and portraits/macro photographs.


Depth of field in portrait photographs

In a portrait or macro photo, you want to keep the subject as sharp as possible and blur out the background. Or for an artistic effect, you may wish to blur the subject slightly as well.

For these effects, you want to use a low or small aperture, which means more light will enter. Small apertures will blur the background and make the subject look more enhanced.

Remember that you will need to compensate for the greater exposure using a faster shutter speed.

This is an example of a photo with small aperture. The increased size of the lens allows more light in and blurs the background. If you notice, there is a little bit of blurryness on the edges of the subject, too.

Depth of field in landscape photographs

An example of using high aperture is a photograph of a landscape or a cityscape.

In these photos, you want the entire photograph to have even sharpness. A high aperture(less light coming in) will let you get this effect.

The degree of blurring in the background(less or more) is known as bokeh. Once you start incorporating bokeh into your camera work, you’ll notice a huge improvement in the quality of your photographs.

Remember that you will need to compensate for the lesser exposure using a slower shutter speed. In many cases, landscape photos are best taken from a tripod since your hands may not be able to keep the camera stable enough to avoid shakes.

This is an example of a photograph taken with a high aperture, or less light coming in. Notice how the sharpness is evenly distributed across the entire photograph.

How to set aperture in your camera

In a dSLR camera, you’ll typically find a dial with various letters on it. To control the aperture, you have two choices. Either set the dial to A or Av, which will let you control the aperture (typically by using the scroll wheel).

In Aperture priority mode, the camera will adjust shutter speed automatically to try and get you the best photographs.

If you want full control over your photographs, you can set the dial to M, which is manual mode. In this mode, you will need to adjust everything manually: shutter speed, aperture, and ISO.


Difference between SLR and dSLR cameras

Rangefinder vs SLR cameras


I hope this cleared up the confusion about small and large apertures. Remember, in apertures, small numbers mean more light, and bigger numbers mean less light!