Saturday, October 26, 2013

KWF Karate World Cup. Pictures and lessons learned!

KWF Karate World Cup 2013

Ringsted Karate Club in Denmark were chosen to host the KWF Karate World Cup 2013 and a few photographers, including myself, were invited to shoot the event. I've never shot Karate before and allow me to say that it was a challenge!


There is never enough light in an arena. You are not allowed to get really close (not that you want to, in fear of your nose meeting someones knuckles). There were 3 different light-sources with each their temperature. The fighters move fast.

A few images perhaps?

During the 8 hours that the event lasted, I shoot over 1000 images. Of them, just over 500 were usable. I've added a few below!

Lessons learned?

Besides the obvious technical photo lessons, I've been chewing on a few things I learned from watching Karate. Things that I'm considering writing a blog post on. Things like Honour, Respect and Cult-like behaviour! Stay tuned!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

6 Tips for shooting smoke

Smoke looks cool!

So you want to take pictures of some smoke? Cool! No, really! It looks nifty! Don’t want to read lots of blog posts and watch hundreds of videos on the subject? Well then, check this quick-start tips list out!

  1. Get a black backdrop and surface.
  2. Get some incents, put it in some play-doh, place it 3 ft. from the background and light it.
  3. Set your flash in manual mode (1/4 power) and attach a remote trigger (radio or cable is fine!).
  4. Put barn doors on flash (or some cardboard) to avoid light spill on background.
  5. Place flash on a 90-degree angle on the smoke (shoot the smoke from the side).
  6. Set camera to all manual (1/200 s, f/8, ISO 100) and manual focus, Flash WB.

Other tips? Sure!

  • There are a lot of factors for success, so play around with the settings, especially aperture, flash power and shutter speed.
  • You can put a reflector opposite the flash for a different effect. Try it!
  • Remember to ventilate the room for two reasons.
    Incents stink and the room will start to get smokey and it will show in the images.


Inverse the images in Photoshop (or whatever) to get a cool effect where the background is white and the smoke is black.

Extra pro-tip

Play with the hue slider to give the smoke some other colour!

Now go shoot!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Pre-Pack Checklist - Getting your camera ready

The "Grab your camera and start shooting" problem

Every time I grab my camera, I want to know what the settings are. Spending time setting everything back to default, is a no-go as the shooting opportunity might be gone.
I have therefore created a small pre-pack checklist that I’ve laminated and put in my camera bag and every time I pack my gear down, I run through the checklist and reset my camera to my default settings.
This way, the camera is ready when I need it!

The Checklist

This is my checklist. Feel free to adjust it to your needs and defaults!
  • Set correct time, date and time zone
  • Format memory card (all of them)
  • Set file-type to RAW
  • Set ISO to 100 or 200
  • Set Av to f/8
  • Set Tv/S to 1/125
  • Set Manual to Av=f/8, Tv/S to 1/125
  • Set Camera to Av mode
  • Select Center Focus point
  • Set Drive to Single Shot or Continuous
  • Set Auto-focus to Focus AI/AF-C
  • Clear Exposure Bracketing
  • Disable custom in-camera image processing  (HDR, Miniature, Colour replace)
  • Set White Balance to Auto
  • Charge batteries (Camera and Flash)
  • Set Flash to Auto/E-TTL/iTTL
  • Remove Gels from flash
  • Set all lenses to AF
  • Clean lenses and remove dust

Follow the checklist every time you pack down your gear, and you will be ready to shoot every time you grab your back and run out the door!

Now go shoot!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

7 tips for shooting Karate

Me and Karate

Going to shoot at fairly large Karate event next weekend, and therefore decided to go try it out at a local club. What that? No, not try out Karate. Try shooting it!

What did I find?

Unlike many other fighting sports, Karate fights move in straight lines. Imagine two boxers or two Kung Fu fighters for that matter. They dance around each other, trying to get a kick or a strike in, here and there. A lot of circular movement. Karate is different; It more linear. Two fighters across from each other, fighting in small 'explosions' towards each other. It is a little like a fencing match. Two people going at each other, directly and in straight lines.
This is an advantage. If you position yourself well, you won't have to move a lot, while shooting a fight. Obviously they move around, but no where near what boxers do!

Any tips?

As this was my first Karate event, I came up with a few starting points that I could use as a base, and then expand on. I'll list them here with a small explanation of the choice.
  • Shutter speed: 1/250 or faster.
    Kicks and punches are fast and moving limbs can get blurry. However, of you want some movement in the photos, so illustrate speed, shoot around 1/150. I shot a lot around 1/500 and still got feet and hand blurs..!
  • Aperture: f/4 or lower.
    You will be in a low-light situation, shooting with fast shutter speeds. You need the light. Shooting around f/4 or f/2.8 will allow you to have a fairly low ISO.
  • ISO around 800.
    Try to keep it low, but you'll probably be at least at ISO 800.
  • Bring a 70-200mm lens.
    You will not be allowed to be between the floor and the judges. Each corner has a judge and there is an invisible wall of 'Do not cross!' between them!
  • Shoot in High Speed bursts
    Spend a little time to learn to read the movements so you have a greater likely hood in knowing when something is going to happen. Then hold down your shutter! Get long bursts of 10-16 images. Spend the time between fights to delete the unusable ones.
  • Loose the flash
    You will probably not be allowed to use a flash. It distracts the fighters, who are very focused while fighting!
  • Bring a knee-pad.
    Shoot at the fighters hip level, so you will need to get down on your knees. First of all, it makes them look bigger and potent! It also makes you think of International Karate+ :)
Take these tips and use them as a starting point, and build on from there!

Now go shoot!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

7 Tips for shooting the Moon

Introduction to the moon

The Moon is the only natural satellite of the Earth and the fifth largest moon in the Solar System. It is the largest natural satellite of a planet in the Solar System relative to the size of its primary, having 27% the diameter and 60% the density of Earth, resulting in 1⁄81 its mass. Among satellites with known densities, the Moon is the second densest, after Io, a satellite of Jupiter. [wikipedia]
Introductions aside, the moon is one of the most fascinating objects to take pictures of. If you take a nice sharp photo, you can stare at it for hours and constantly find amazement!

Is it hard?

Everything can be hard, if you don't know how to do it. Therefore I've compiled 7 tips for shooting the moon, so you don't have to spend hours researching how to.
Feel free to do variations. Thats when you learn!
Also, if you feel that you have a better tip or an addition, feel free to let me know in the comments!
  1. Use a tripod
  2. Loose the UV/Polarization filter
  3. 300mm is minimum (use crop factor and extenders)
  4. f/8
  5. Center focus point
  6. Underexpose by 2-3 stops
  7. Moon closer to horizon = better image

Some explanations:

  • Tripod gives you longer shutter speeds.
  • UV/Pol filters steals light, which you need!
  • 300mm makes a small looking object larger.
  • f/8 makes it nice and sharp!
  • Underexpose or the moon will look too bright, making you loose details.
  • The closer to the horizon, the larger it looks. The atmosphere works like a prism!

Thats it. Using the above tips, I shot the image of the moon below. Took 3 minutes including setup time.
The Moon

Now go shoot!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Use IFTTT, 500px and Dropbox to research a photo project. An 11 step guide!

A Photo project, you say?

Sometimes I get an idea of a photo that I would like to make. Usually its triggered by something that pops into my feed and it's usually a single photo. There are some really inspiring photos out there and taking someones idea and building your own vision from that, can be quite rewarding.
However; Building a vision from a single photo can be quite hard, if you want to prevent yourself from just copying someone else's artwork. So what do you do? Spend hours on Google Images, looking for other photos of the same subject? Sure, why not. But there might be a smarter way.
Automatisation! Let a few online tools work for you, while you are at work or sleep and harvest the fruits of your!
With this tip, you will, in a manner of minutes, be able to automatically have images from the leading image hosts, tick in to your online storage provider, for later review and research!
Sounds good?
Well then. Read on!

What do I need?

  • An online storage provider (Dropbox, Google Drive or SkyDrive). Chances are that you already have that. If not, sign up for one.
  • A 500px (or Flickr) account. I'll be working with my 500px account as I LOVE 500px!
    Again; Signup if you don't have an account!
  • A account. Chances are you don't have that, but you will need it and when you realise the power of IFTTT you will never regret it!
    IFTTT (IF This Then That) is an online tool that can automate a bunch of different tasks and pull many of your online services together.
    What a news item, that you mark 'Read Later' on Feedly to be added to your Evernote or Pocket account? Check!
    What to receive a weather report from, every morning via Mail or Text message? Check!
    Want to keep your profile photo on Facebook and Twitter synchronised? Check!

So how do you do it?

Everything is in place? You have everything from the 'What do I need?' section? Lets go!

  1. Sign into your IFTTT account and click Create Recipe.
  2.  Click this. This is your 'action'.
  3.  Click the 500px icon (or Flickr, if that's your thing)
  4. Select 'New photo from search'
  5. Enter Search Term (in this case 'seawall' as I wanted to research some seawall ideas) and Create Trigger
  6. Click that. This is your 'reaction' to your 'action'
  7. Select the Dropbox icon (or SkyDrive or Google Drive, if those are your preferred services)
  8. Click 'Add file from URL'
  9. Add your search term to the folder string
  10. Give your recipe a description. I usually just call mine whatever search term I used.
  11. You are done with setting up IFTTT.

What now?

All you need to do now is to sit back, relax and let the photos automatically roll into your Dropbox folder. Depending on your search term, it might take minutes, hours or even days, before images start ticking in, but at least you don't have to do any manual labour. It will all happen without any work from you.
When enough images has ticked in, for you to use it for inspiration, just log in to your IFTTT account and disable the recipe.
This process has saved me HOURS of work. Try it out!