Did you know that your morning cup of coffee can help you predict rain? It’s a trick used by backpackers that can come in handy you’re shooting outdoors without Internet: pour a cup of coffee and carefully watch the bubbles. Backpacker Magazine writes,
If the bubbles amass in the center, you’re in a high-pressure system, which is making the coffee’s surface convex (higher in the middle). Since bubbles are mostly air, they migrate to the highest point. It’s going to be a beautiful day. If the bubbles form a ring around the sides of the mug, you’re in a low-pressure system, making the surface concave. Rain is likely. Note: It has to be strong, brewed coffee to have enough oil to work, and the mug must have straight sides.
To make new bubbles, simply give your coffee a good stir.
Want to get closer to animals when doing wildlife photography? If there’s access, your car can do the trick by serving as a photography blind. Scott Bourne of Photofocus writes,
For whatever reason, most wildlife (birds included) won’t spook or flush when they see a car. Open the car door, step out of the car, now that’s a totally different situation. But as long as you stay in the car, your chances of getting close enough to wildlife to get the shot are improved by 90%.
Here’s a nifty Photoshop tip by photographer Alex Wise on how you can use a Threshold layer to approximate black and white points in a photograph, and then use those points in the Curves tool to remove color casts from photos.
Adam Dachis over at Lifehacker offers a simple method for correcting underexposed photo with any image editor that supports layers, inversion, and Overlay blending mode. Simply create a duplicate later, invert it, set the blending mode to Overlay, and then adjust the opacity to suit your taste. While it’s certainly not a pro photography trick — other techniques including adjusting the curves and levels may be better — it’s a quick and easy tip that may be good to know.
David Hobby has written up a great post over at Strobist on how he avoids shoot-ruining confrontations with police officers when shooting in public locations (we shared an example of a confrontation yesterday). His tricks include calling the police ahead of time and leaving notes on the doors of houses nearby:
Before I shoot (a couple hours, usually) I call into the duty officer of the local precinct. I tell them my name, that I am a photographer, and where/when I will be shooting. I explain that, just in case some overenthusiastic passerby calls me in as a suspicious person, I just want to save them a call. I offer them my cell number, and ask if they want my sosh or driver’s license number. I have never been taken up on this, but I would happily give it.
[...] I print up a sheet and stick it in everyone’s door who is within eyeshot of the shoot at night. Because believe-you-me, it you are popping flashes in the woods at 2am, some idiot will absolutely call your butt in. To them, it’s gotta look pretty much like Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
Some of you might not like these tips because they appear to be the equivalent of putting up a white flag in the fight for photographers’ rights, but they may come in handy if one day you have a critical photo shoot that you can’t afford to have interrupted.
So I’ve been shooting some shows for some of the choral groups on campus at my school, and I’ve started to notice a trend: people make some stupid faces when they are singing. They can range from an approaching sneeze to a full-on O-face. Read more…
Mark Rober — the guy behind the gaping-hole-in-torso costume — recently came up with a creative way of getting up close and personal with gorillas at his local zoo. It turns out that apes can’t resist looking at themselves in mirrors, so Rober drilled a hole in a mirror and pointed his iPhone’s camera through it. He was then able to snag some awesome footage that most visitors would never be able to capture. This trick may also work for other animals that are known to pass the mirror test of self-awareness, including dolphins, elephants, and certain birds.
Here’s a short and sweet video in which Chicago-based food photographer Stephen Hamilton shares some tips on how to take photographs of food using your smartphone. One tip is to use a white napkin as a makeshift reflector to fill in some of the shadows in the shot.
Here’s a quick and simple tip for better portraits by Reddit user rmx_:
Everyone has a lazy eye. By that, I mean one eye is always smaller and/or more closed than the other eye. In some people, it is very easy to spot; in others, nearly impossible. The “beautiful people” have more symmetrical faces, but still, one eye will open more than the other. (Denzel Washington has one of the most I have seen [...])
[...] here is the tip: get the smaller/lazier eye slightly closer to the camera. Oh, and don’t tell the person what you’re looking at their eyes for! You’ll make them self conscious. Simply ask them to look at your finger and move their head to follow it, and then guide them left or right as necessary. Chances are, the movement needed will not be so much that you have to adjust your lights.