Category Archives: Photo Tips

Reformat Your Memory Cards, Don’t Delete Your Images – Updated!

Reformatting ensures data and the file structure on the card is intact and without errors. The longer you go without formatting the card, the more likely that the file structure will become corrupt and that you will not be able to read some of the images from the card. Additionally if you don’t reformat your card, it will slowly reduce the number of files it can hold. If you share your card between multiple cameras, the cameras may not recognize each other’s files structure and not allow you to delete images from another camera manufacturer.

Get in the habit of formatting your card after copying your images to you computer and then backing them up to an external drive. You’ll have less errors reading images off of your card and you’ll have the full card capacity to capture your images.

It’s especially important if you have multiple cameras or are migrating from one camera to another. Cameras don’t have a single standard for file formats, therefore if you take a card that was used in one camera, it may not recognize the file format of the other camera and it will erroneously report the amount of free space until you format the card.  This will mean you may have very little space available on the card for your images. There’s nothing worse than running out of space on your card when your in the middle of capturing that special moment.

When you format your memory card you will not be able to retrieve the images you previously captured so be sure you’ve copied off all the files first before you format the card, you can’t undo formatting!

It’s also a good idea to not use the same memory card over and over again but to switch between a few cards and always bring a spare along with your spare battery.  Occasionally memory cards will go bad and if you are using multiple memory cards you wont loose all your work or and you’ll still be able to capture more images.

Don’t know how to format your memory card? Check your camera manual or your manufactures website to download an electronic version of your camera manual. The steps can be different on each camera.  Formatting should be done in your camera and not in your computer.

If your camera offers a low level format, utilize this feature as it will reduce the possibility of file system corruption.

Links to a few camera manufacturer sites which should help you to find your manual:

Canon Consumer Cameras:


Nikon download center:


Get more light in your portraits!

Proper lighting in portraits can be challenging.  Flashes often are insufficient or over powering.  If you have a standard height white ceiling, then bouncing your flash of the ceiling, tilting you flash about 45 degrees above level.  Getting your flash off your camera with a flash cord designed for your brand of camera can improve you flash fill too.

It’s likely you are doing things like this already, and maybe you even use a soft box and umbrellas.  But to really make that headshot pop, ask your model to hold a piece of foam core or white matte board angled to bounce the light to the lower part of their face and of course outside of the view of your shot.

The light will fill in your subject and even up the light very nicely. Chances are you already have some foam core or matte board just laying around.

What an improvement this little reflector will give you!

Which ISO should you use?

ISO is a standard measurement of the light sensitivity of the camera’s sensor. If you are on a fully automatic mode your camera will adjust the ISO for a properly exposed picture. However like everything on your camera, automatic isn’t always the best mode. For the best quality picture with the least amount of noise and the greatest amount of sharpness, you will want to manually control your ISO.

You should try to use the lowest ISO possible, which will allow you to expose the picture in the given lighting condition accurately. Therefore, you would use a low ISO like 100 or 200 in bright conditions. You can use a higher ISO like 400 or 800, for indoors if you need too and for mixed lighting like on a cloudy day you can use something like 160 or 200. Most of the time, you should shoot at ISO 100 to 400.

For the best quality, try using a tripod in low light conditions which will allow you to lower your ISO for better quality. This works well unless your subject is moving and then you should try to increase the ISO so you can use a shutter speed that will allow you to freeze the motion.

Each camera may have different ISO setting capabilities, use the numbers from this article that are as close to your cameras as you can. Also note that newer cameras have better noise handling and the amount of noise that is perceptible at a given ISO may differ from camera/senor model to camera/sensor model.

ISO (sensor light sensitivity) is one of three factors that impact your image exposure.  The other two being shutter speed (how long the shutter is open letting light onto the senor) and aperture (how wide the area is opened to let light into the sensor).   Your camera’s meter adjusts to the different ISO settings. As your ISO goes up, you can drop your shutter speed or decrease the size of your aperture (increase the f-stop), but remember the increased ISO degrades your image quality so keep it as low as you can.  This decrease in image quality is especially seen when printing enlarged images.

Have a topic you would like to learn more about? Leave a comment via the link below and I’ll consider your topic for a future article.

Reduce Unwanted Blur

One of the best ways to improve the sharpness of your photos is to use a sturdy tripod.  It will particularly help with low light situations or situations where you need to use shutter speeds slower than the reciprocal of your lens length.  For example with a 60mm lens, the slowest shutter speed you can handhold is 1/60. Image Stabilization & Vibration Reduction can allow you to shoot slightly slower.

Also consider using a cable release and mirror lock-up mode on your camera.  If used correctly, these techniques will allow you to take very long exposures without blur. Another great advantage to using a tripod is that it forces you to slow down. Instead of taking lots of pictures very quickly, it will encourage less captures that are better thought out.

Don’t forget to change the height of your tripod and to alter your perspective, otherwise your images will lack variety.

Some research on buying tripods and the head that will connect your tripod to your camera is in order.  Be certain that the combination can hold your camera and lens safely and can hold up to the particular types of photography you enjoy.


Warm Up Your Images!

Do your images have flat or dull colors? Try changing your white balance setting in your camera to ‘CLOUDY’. This is similar to adding a warming filter to your camera and will work particularly well with outdoor portraits and landscapes. Adjusting your white balance is easier than carrying extra filters. Of course if you are shooting in RAW you can adjust your white balance in your photo editing software and compare your results.