Mirrorless V DSLR Cameras

Why have some professional photographers eagerly embraced mirrorless, while others still hold out? 

Interest in mirrorless cameras has grown steadily ever since Panasonic released the ground-breaking Lumix DMC-G1 in 2008, with photography pundits regularly predicting that ‘this will be the year in which mirrorless takes over’. We’re not quite there, as DSLRs still dominate the high-end enthusiast and pro end of the market.

However, change is in the air, and while the mirrorless market is quite volatile, survey after survey has shown they are luring an increasing number of users away from big heavy cameras with flapping mirrors. It’s not hard to see why: the traditional sticking points for mirrorless refuseniks, namely electronic viewfinders and AF performance, seem to improve with each new release, and there’s never been such a wide choice of high-quality zoom and prime lenses. For many travel and documentary photographers, the light weight and compact dimensions of mirrorless cameras are a no-brainer. More and more landscape, portrait and even sports photographers are changing over too. Yet, many of their peers are sticking with DSLRs.
Over the next six pages, we chat to a range of top photographers from different genres to get their take on the DSLR vs mirrorless issue – and some of the findings will surprise you.

Interest in mirrorless cameras has grown steadily ever since Panasonic released the ground-breaking Lumix DMC-G1 in 2008, with photography pundits regularly predicting that ‘this will be the year in which mirrorless takes over’. We’re not quite there, as DSLRs still dominate the high-end enthusiast and pro end of the market.

However, change is in the air, and while the mirrorless market is quite volatile, survey after survey has shown they are luring an increasing number of users away from big heavy cameras with flapping mirrors. It’s not hard to see why: the traditional sticking points for mirrorless refuseniks, namely electronic viewfinders and AF performance, seem to improve with each new release, and there’s never been such a wide choice of high-quality zoom and prime lenses. For many travel and documentary photographers, the light weight and compact dimensions of mirrorless cameras are a no-brainer. More and more landscape, portrait and even sports photographers are changing over too. Yet, many of their peers are sticking with DSLRs.
Over the next six pages, we chat to a range of top photographers from different genres to get their take on the DSLR vs mirrorless issue – and some of the findings will surprise you.

As the massed ranks of the Canon L series and Nikon pro lenses at the Rio Olympics have shown, sports photographers have been very reluctant to trade in their DSLRs for mirrorless. Much of this is down to the perception that the continuous AF on mirrorless cameras lags behind (it’s essential for action shots), or that their electronic viewfinders (EVFs) are not as bright and clear as traditional optical versions. Leon Neal, a sports and press shooter for the AFP agency, speaks for many of his peers.

‘Mirrorless is almost certainly the future, but currently the features that I need aren’t addressed by makers of mirrorless systems,’ says Leon. ‘My Nikon D5 bodies are very fast and incredibly tough, but also include things like a network port for tethered shooting at events like Wimbledon and the Olympic Games. I’m sure future generations of cameras will ditch the flapping nod to history that is the mirror, but until then, I’m sticking with it.’

While a network port for tethered shooting is indeed lacking in mirrorless cameras – makers would argue it’s still a very niche feature – some of Leon’s colleagues are proving more receptive to the idea of changing over.

Take Mark Pain, former chief sports photographer for The Mail on Sunday. ‘I’ve just finished a hands-on test of a Fujifilm X-T2 prototype, which I took to the UEFA 2016 soccer championship and this summer’s tennis,’ he says. ‘I was sceptical about it at first, but very pleasantly surprised.’

As Mark explains, a lot of sports photographers don’t like change and need time to get used to new technologies, but the X-T2 offers some big advantages. ‘It’s silent and much lighter,’ he adds.

Mark is very happy with the X-T2’s picture quality (see his outstanding image of Andy Murray, right) but reckons there are still some issues that need to be addressed.

According to Mark, a key area in which mirrorless still lags behind is continuous/motor drive shooting. ‘One of the differences between amateur and pro sports photographers is that we look through the viewfinder all the time, even when firing off shots with the motor drive,’ he says. ‘I am lifting and depressing the shutter even though I am using continuous shooting. On the new Nikon D5, there is hardly any blackout between the frames, but the EVF on a mirrorless camera is computer-generated. Because of the way they work, mirrorless cameras have to turn the sensor on and off when using the motor drive, so there is a slight lag when trying to follow a fast-moving soccer match, for instance. With a modern pro DSLR, there is a processor for the autofocus and another one for the picture processing, which also improves performance.’

You don’t tend to see many landscape pros using mirrorless cameras, and the same goes for their enthusiast fans. There are various reasons for this. Landscape and travel veteran David Noton says: ‘I prefer not to have a poor-quality TV screen between the subject and me. What’s more, I like to really look into the composition through an optical viewfinder, without necessarily having to turn the camera on. I’m also worried about speed of focusing and battery consumption.’
Mirrorless myths dispelled
Yet there are several well-regarded landscape professional photographers who have made the change to mirrorless and never looked back. Olympus shooter and course leader Steve Gosling is a good example. ‘The first thing to say is that I have no problem going from a full-frame Canon EOS 5D Mark II to an Olympus OM-D,’ he says. ‘I’ve made prints up to 30x20in from the Olympus without any problem. People come to my courses and say: “I’ve been thinking about mirrorless, but how can I shoot landscapes with such a small sensor?” I ask them how big they print, and they usually say A3 or A3-plus. I chuckle, as the OM-D system can easily do that. There are a lot of misconceptions.’

Steve also cites the range of high-quality Zuiko lenses as a reason for choosing the Olympus OM-D system, including a set of weather-sealed and relatively lightweight f/2.8 zooms. ‘Because of the small size of the camera’s sensor I can shoot at f/8 and f/11, but to get the same level of depth of field detail from the Canon I’d have to shoot at f/22,’ he says.
So what about that ‘poor-quality TV screen’, as David Noton calls a typical mirrorless EVF? ‘I am totally comfortable with “what you see is what you get” EVFs, and they’ve become better and better since the original Olympus E-M5,’ counters Steve. ‘I find it frustrating on workshops when I look through students’ optical viewfinders and can’t immediately see how their camera is exposing the scene. I mainly shoot landscapes on a tripod, so I use the rear screen to compose and check focus rather than peering through the EVF. Focus peaking really helps with manual focus, too.’

Sports and landscape photographers may still be quite traditional, but one genre in which mirrorless cameras are becoming increasingly common is portraiture – particularly weddings, travel, family portraits and even advertising. For weddings and family portraits, the size issue pops up again.
‘I do sometimes get funny looks at weddings when people see my Fujifilm mirrorless,’ says pro photographer Saraya Cortaville. ‘Some of the “Uncle Bob” guests [family and friends who come with cameras] may have a bigger camera than me. It doesn’t bother me as I know my work is good enough.
On the positive side, when photographing children, smaller mirrorless lenses are a godsend. A big 24-70mm SLR zoom can intimidate kids, but with mirrorless it’s much less of an issue. With the crop factor and rear LCD I can get so much closer to them.’
The same goes for Saraya’s travel work, where she spends three months a year working for charities and NGOs. ‘I’d go to places like Nepal or Tanzania and the villagers wouldn’t speak to me for a couple of days as they were so freaked out by my DSLR gear,’ she says. ‘They didn’t understand why I was there.’
Mirrorless discrimination
However, it can cut both ways. John Nassari, a commercial portrait and wedding photographer who shot the cover image for AP 13 August, has also faced resistance to his camera choice, but this time for choosing mirrorless over more traditional kit.

Commercial photographer John Nassari gets good low-light performance from mirrorless cameras
‘An art director told me I wouldn’t get the job if I used mirrorless – they called them toy cameras and insisted I use medium format,’ he says. ‘This is ridiculous, as you can get incredible detail from Olympus raw files – 40x30in prints are absolutely fine. I know this as I have a background in large-format work. There is a myth about mirrorless crop-factor images not being high enough resolution.’
John also reminds us that despite the relatively ‘small’ Micro Four Thirds sensor, very high-resolution files are possible on the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II. ‘Its high-resolution mode means you can record 40MP JPEG images or 64MP raw files,’ he adds. ‘The sensor takes six shots across the frame and matches and combines them into a 40MP file. It’s perfect with a tripod for interior work, although you can’t use it with portraits in case you move or the subject moves. It’s also hard to use with landscapes with clouds and wind.’




Lighting Techniques

With all of the technology available, taking great photographs should be a snap, right? After all, today’s cameras have technology that lets them find and focus on faces, reduce red eye and compensate for most lighting situations. Still, anyone who has ever had a picture turn out less than perfect can tell you that cameras aren’t perfect, no matter how advanced they are.
While you or your camera can’t do anything about the fact that your Aunt Ida has a giant hairy mole or that Uncle Mort wears truly hideous sweaters, you can take some steps to make sure that the pictures you take are the best they can be. Much of a picture’s quality comes from how well it’s lit. By taking a few simple steps to make sure the lighting in your photographs matches up with the kind of picture you want to take, you can really improve the pictures you take. Who knows? You might even make Ida’s mole or Mort’s sweaters look a little better.

Photos that are taken outside take advantage of one of the best light sources around: the sun. Sunlight tends to be rich and warm, which makes everyone look good. That said, when taking pictures outside, you should follow some basic rules.
First, avoid shooting on bright, cloudless sunny days. Too much sunlight can wash your subjects out. Plus, strong light means strong shadows. If you’re taking pictures of people, those shadows can wind up on their faces (and no one wants to see the kind of shadow Aunt Ida’s mole casts). Cloudy days are actually great for taking pictures. The clouds defuse the light, softening it but still showcasing rich colours. Plus, the diffused light will cast fewer shadows. If you have to take pictures on a bright sunny day, try to avoid taking pictures in the middle of the day, when the sun will be at its brightest. If you’re taking pictures of people outside, taking them in the middle of the day can result in people squinting into the camera.
If it’s a bright sunny day and you’re taking pictures, look for ways to diffuse the light yourself. Open shade trees are a good way to do it. Look for a large tree with a wide spread of branches that are fairly high off the ground. The leaves will catch most of the light but will also let just enough in so your subject isn’t completely in the dark. Just watch out for any harsh shadows — especially on your subject’s face.You may not be able to control your light source, but you can control where you and your subject are relative to it. Try to have your light source to the side of your subject. If the light is behind your subject, you won’t get to see any detail — instead, you’ll just see a silhouette. On the other hand, if your subject is looking into the light, he or she may be squinting. Plus, direct light on an object or someone’s face may be harsh and unflattering.
Photos with the best lighting tend to have the light source to the side. You’ll want to make sure that they light source isn’t too harsh — otherwise you’ll get shadows on one side of your subject. If possible, go for two light sources, one on either side of your subject. That way, the lighting will be even and you’ll be able to see the subject clearly.
No matter where your light source is, before you snap a picture, take a second to look for any stray shadows. If you’re shooting indoors and using a flash, move your subject away from any walls — you don’t want a shadow outlining him or her, even if the subjects themselves are well exposed.

If you just can’t seem get enough light on your own, a flash is a great way to add some, but you’ll need to make sure you’re using it correctly. Get familiar with your camera’s owner’s manual — it’ll have handy tips and tricks specific to your make and model of camera, even if you just use a simple point-and-shoot.
You shouldn’t rely on a flash to light your scene for you. Instead, use your flash to fill out the light in a scene, eliminating shadows. For example, if you wanted to take a picture of something by a bright window, you’d likely only get a silhouette, since all the light would be coming in from the window behind your subject. But, by using your flash to fill in the scene, you’ll illuminate the details on the front of your subject, too.
You may also want to use different flash setting for different situations. Some cameras have a red-eye reducing flash setting that flashes one light before the photograph is taken, and one while the photograph is being taken. That helps reduce the red eye effect you’ll see in a lot of photos.
Even when using a flash you still have to pay attention to your position and the position of your subjects. Don’t use a flash around reflective surfaces like mirrors or windows — all you’ll get is a picture of the flash reflected back at you. And remember: Flashes aren’t all-powerful. For the flash to work as it’s supposed to, you’ll need to put your subject within the range of your flash. Also, if you’re taking a group picture with the flash, everyone should be about the same distance from the flash. Otherwise, some people will appear over exposed while others will be under exposed.

We’ve already mentioned that clouds and trees can be natural light diffusers, but don’t be afraid to come up with your own methods for diffusing light, or reflecting it gently where it’s needed.
Creating a diffuser or a reflector is actually pretty easy. If you’re inside and have only one harsh light source, like a lamp, simply put a piece of paper or a light cloth over it. If you’re outside, a light-coloured umbrella positioned between your subject and the sun can diffuse the light — just make sure the umbrella itself isn’t in your photograph’s frame.
Reflectors are a good way to reduce shadows and improve light in a photograph. If you’ve ever seen a professional photo shoot, you may have seen the photographer or the photographer’s assistant using white or metallic cloth stretched over a frame to reflect light onto the subject. You can do the same thing. A white tablecloth can reflect light onto a subject (this is a great tip if you’re taking photos by candlelight). If you’re outside, a white cooler lid placed below your subject can throw light upward. You can also reflect light by wrapping tinfoil around some cardboard. Play around with different methods and materials until you find some that work for you. As an added bonus, you’ll have them in your photographer’s tool kit, ready for the next time when the lighting is less than ideal.

A lot of the time, if you’re shooting photographs in dim light, you won’t want to use your flash. The flash will only illuminate a small part of the photograph, and there may be too much contrast between the area of the flash and the rest of the picture.
If you can’t add more light to a scene, you’ll need to give your camera more time to bring what light there is into its lens. That means a slower shutter speed and a wider aperture. For a lot of people that use popular point-and-shoot cameras, that means putting your camera into dim light or night-shot mode.
When your camera is in those modes, the shutter stays open longer than usual. That means that any motion, whether it’s your subject moving or you moving the camera, will be captured as a blur on your picture. If you’re shooting in dim light, use something to steady the camera, like a tripod, or brace your arms on something stable. Press the shutter button slowly, and make sure your subjects are completely still. Having the shutter open longer increases the risk that your photo will be blurry, but it also lets your camera suck all the available light in from a dimly lit scene, which will result in a picture that’s beautifully lit and evocative.


Portuguese Bullfight’s

Portuguese equestrian bullfighting is an ancient tradition – one that predates Portugal.  But, for those who have been to a bullfight in other lands, the Portuguese do it differently.

The bullfight is held right before sundown, so that the arena is a mix of shadow and light. The arena is alive with voices; beer, sesame candies and opinions fly. The Portuguese love to discuss and debate ­ and the bullring is the perfect venue. The topic of the debate often seems mundane, bullfighters of the past, insects, clouds, the wind – as the idea is not to express heart-felt opinions ­ but rather the art of the debate.

The Portuguese bullfight is, at first glance, quite simple. A “cavaleiro,” or rider, dressed in a silk jacket embroidered with gold and lace, and wearing tan riding pants and black boots, takes to the arena atop the renowned Lusitano breed of horse. The Lusitano has a long history as a victor on the battlefields of Asia and Africa, and in southern Portugal. The goal of man and horse in a Portuguese bullfight is not to kill the bull, but to draw the bull to a charge and then to place a single dart in the bull¹s back muscle. Horse and bull must charge at each other, with the horse suddenly veering off to avoid an impact. Then the rider must place the colorful dart exactly and ride off unscathed.


Although in the beginning equestrian bullfighting had been an all-male art, those days are now over, as a host of young and talented female riders are performing in the finest bull rings in Portugal. Dressed in traditional attire, women such as Ana Batista are now considered to be among the best of Portugal’s new generation of bullfighters. While bullfighting has declined in popularity, this injection of new riders has given life and interest to an ancient sport.

Although in some places they run the bulls just once a year, on the island of Terceira in the Azores there are more than 230 traditional bullfights every summer. From April to the late fall, the people of Terceira hold “touradas á corda” every weekend­ a unique running of the bulls, with the bull on a rope. It is found only in the Azores, and has been popular since 16th Century. The bull is let loose with a very long rope around its neck, usually at the main square in a small village. The bull is guided by several experienced, hefty men, keeping a tight grip at the rope. The idea is that the courageous people will try to get as close to the bull as they dare. After the run, the bull is taken back to the wooden crate and an outdoor festival begins.

In Sabugal, August hosts the village’s “capeias arraianas” bullfights.
It is a century-old tradition that attracts local inhabitants, though mainly the youth, who play a major role in the events. The “capeias” take place in the village’s main squares that become the arenas. The festival starts in the morning when people gather to where the bulls will be escorted to the square. The escort begins as a veritable exodus of bikes, 4×4, tractors, trucks, horses, bicycles, or any other means of transportation capable of moving in the fields near the Spanish border. Along the way, spectators wait impatiently to see the bulls, while street vendors are set themselves up near the square. In the bull ring, locals form the Forcão ­ a giant timber triangle that is turned against the bull in a contest of agility and strength. About thirty men enter the square and pick up the Forcão. Two men coordinate the movements of the whole group. Men of greater agility step forward to the “gall” in the foreground, to confront the bull while only protected by a few tree branches artfully arranged on the fork. It is this very moment that men and bull rival in courage and cunning. In the end, the descencerro” is the return of the bulls to the fields once more.

In Alcohete, the Festival Barrete Verde and Salinas is the highlight of the year. With more than 60 years of history, the second weekend of August is eagerly awaited. The event brings thousands of visitors attracted by bullfighting, the bull runs, musical shows, faith, traditions, and the spontaneous street parties that fill the town. One of the highlights is the “Night of Roasted Sardines” during which thousands of people that fill the night with color and life until sunrise.

Another event, the “Procession by Land and Sea” is one of the most intense religious manifestations, reflecting the faith of a people and keeps the town surrounded with joy.

Sound like fun? Well, one of the oldest groups, Group de Forcados Amadores, have a training camp to teach the art. Held every spring at Santarem, the unofficial capitol of bullfighting in Portugal, the camp is open to anyone brave enough to step in the arena. This group has acted around the world since their founding in 1915, so if you’d like, give them a call, and try your luck!

Campo Pequeno – Lisbon’s monumental bullring – Built in 1892 in a Moorish style with small rounded turrets atop its four main towers, Campo Pequeno’s bullring (Praça de Touros do Campo Pequeno) accommodates up to 10,000 spectators. The Praça de Touros do Campo Pequeno hosts the year’s most important bullfights; most of them take place between the months of March and October. Bullfights take place here on Thursdays in season. During the rest of the year it is occasionally used for concerts and other shows, such as a circus.

After being closed for extensive renovation, it reopened in 2006 with a new retractable roof and a shopping mall, restaurants, cinemas, and a supermarket. Parking space for 1200 cars is also available. It was designed by architect António José Dias da Silva.


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Inside a Portuguese Bullfight

In modern Portugal, the performance of the horse in the bullring is maybe one of the most important factor in the breeding and selection process of the Lusitano horse. This factor has sustained the preservation of the characteristics of the classical Iberian war-horse. In a description by Sylvia Loch, she describes the Portuguese horse:

“They are noble instead of pretty with aristocracy written all over their fine, slightly hawked long faces. They develop a powerful neck and shoulder which makes them look extremely majestic in front. The quarters are not large, but the loins are wide and strong and the hocks long and wiry, giving them the power to bounce forcefully forwards with masterful impulsion. Deep flexion is gotten from the developed second thigh and the longer than usual cannons and pasterns. The same characteristics that are essential for the bullfights, also make the Lusitano extremely efficient for other sport activities, or as a working and pleasure riding horse.”


Bullfighting in Portugal traces its roots to ancient times, when Celts fought bulls in pagan festivals. Bullfighting in Portugal today is a snapshot of the 18th century, when a single event changed bullfighting forever.

The Portuguese bullfight is, at first glance, quite simple. A cavaleiro, or rider, dressed in a silk jacket embroidered with gold and lace, and wearing tan riding pants and black boots, takes to the arena atop the renowned Lusitano breed of horse.  The Lusitano has a long history as a victor on the battlefields of Asia and Africa, and southern Portugal. The goal of man and horse in a Portuguese bullfight is not to kill the bull, but to draw the bull to a charge and then to place a single dart in the bull¹s back muscle. Horse and bull must charge at each other, with the horse suddenly veering off to avoid an impact. Then the rider must place the colorful dart exactly and ride off unscathed.

What is Conceptual Photography?

Conceptual photography is a mystifying field of photography for many. What defines a photo as being “conceptual”, that is, what makes a conceptual photo… conceptual? This article offers an explanation.

    • Conceptual photography alternately seems to occupy an ivory tower, isolated from the rest of photography—or is so vaguely defined that this type of photography just blends in with the rest. This article attempts to clarify and define what conceptual photography precisely is by looking at the concept, subject, interpretation, use of symbols and aesthetics in conceptual photography.

      The Concept

      Conceptual photography is, first and foremost, about the

      concept of the photo. A conceptual photographer is trying to bring some message about to the viewer, be it a political advert or a social commentary or an emotional outcry. There is some level of abstraction, thus, in a conceptual photo: the image is not an explicit example of the concept, but a general expression of the idea

  • Use Of Symbols

    Conceptual photography makes healthy use of graphical symbols to represent ideas, movements, moods, anything and everything that the photographer might want to include in the message of their photograph. Symbols with strong, well-established connotations are usually used, from racy red lipstick to a bleeding heart, shamrocks and clovers to a green dollar bill.

    Of course, a problem that every conceptual photographer runs into is whether to use symbols that are more universal, that is, whether their photos and the corresponding concepts should aim to be interpreted the same by everyone, or whether to play on ambiguities for a plethora of different meanings. This leads to another major feature of—or rather, distinction within—conceptual photography.

    Examples of Conceptual Photography

    Subjectivity Versus Objectivity

    Whether a photo is intended to be “subjectively” or “objectively” interpreted varies considerably by the conceptual photographer.

    Some conceptual photographers like to claim that their photo has one and only one objective meaning, and through their photograph, they strive to make it mean precisely the same thing to all people, regardless of background. While one can play at Jungian archetypes all day, and come up with some pretty powerful photographs while you’re at it, will a photo really mean exactly the same thing to very different people? This is the goal of some conceptual photographers.

    Other conceptual photographers take the other extreme: they attempt to make their photos ultimately subjective to interpret, entirely up to the viewer to decide what it means to themselves. To many, this makes more sense, as one can never possibly hope that their image will be interpreted the same by such vastly different people with such vastly different experiences—so why try? Compose an interesting image that just serves to make people think and maybe trigger some experiences and memories and feelings.

  • Composition

    There are two main camps of conceptual photographers: those who strive for minimalistic effects, and those who relish in business in their images.

    The more minimalistic conceptual photographs are composed so that the focus is entirely on a single subject, a single concept, narrowing the viewer in on a single thought. Think of those clean white backgrounds upon which objects are placed in thought-provoking manners: no distraction from the idea.

    The opposite camp is a little more involved. These are the conceptual photographers who place dozens and dozens of objects into their photograph, often to the point where there is no clear single subject. Rather, every object, every symbol, is placed to play off of another, creating sweeping conceptual landscapes of ideas that are both extremely specific yet also describe a broad message. You don’t see such photos quite as often, as they take considerably more work, but they’re certainly out there.


    Conceptual photography does not always attempt to be beautiful or even pleasing to the eyes. Conceptual photography might simply be, or even present intentionally ugly images to get an idea across. That being said, many conceptual photographers attempt to make their images at least neutral, so as to not distract the viewer from the concept of the photo either way.

Lines in Your Photography

Lines are one of the most basic elements in image design and their uses are many from functional to artistic. They also go a long way in helping us to create and organize our compositions. They serve as functional elements including visual paths, focal points, dividers, natural frames and borders, and in many cases they even act as the subject itself. Lines can also be used in more subtle, non-direct ways, including to create a sense of tension, mood and drama.

Following are brief introductions to the various kinds of lines found in nature, and some of their uses:

Straight Lines
Straight lines can act like miniature highways in our photographs. Long straight lines, in particular, tend to grab the eye and pull it from one end of the line to the other, skipping everything between. The longer and straighter the line, the faster the eye moves. This can be good when used as a direct guide but with a more complex composition it can cause the eye to skip important parts of the image. Use long straight lines with care and awareness of their effects.

Vertical Lines
Prominent vertical lines are the most powerful lines in visual art. We may associate them with a feeling of strength, height, integrity, solidity, dominance and power such as when viewing a tree, skyscraper, flagpole or anything else standing tall and sturdy.
Solid vertical lines are attention-getters and can be used to create tension, to act as direct guides and paths, and to act as dividers and natural frames. Being the powerful composition elements they are a certain degree of care should be taken when dealing with prominent vertical lines.

Horizontal Lines
In contrast to the effect of vertical lines, horizontal lines can lend a lazy, calm feeling to a photograph. They may bring to mind how it feels to lie down and be relaxed. Some examples of using horizontal lines to create a calming mood are to capture long, rolling waves on a shoreline, using the solid line of a fallen tree as a main element; and capturing the peaceful line of an ocean horizon. The calm, relaxed feeling created in all of these scenes can be further enhanced by using a horizontal format.

Diagonal Lines
Diagonals are considered more visually dynamic than verticals or horizontals. Where vertical and horizontal lines sit in the composition and are restricted to up-down, left-right movement, diagonals can sweep across any area of the image and go in any direction and this is what causes that ‘dynamic’ feeling associated with these lines.

Diagonals are often used to create a sense of tension, or this can happen naturally as the Tension map illustrates. In addition to this, diagonals can serve the same purposes as horizontal and vertical lines in that they can guide the eye, and act as frames, borders and isolators.

Converging and Diverging Lines
Lines that converge are lines that come from different areas of the photograph and lead toward a common intersection, object or area. Conversely, diverging lines lead away from each other, a common intersection, object or area. These types of lines are usually strong compositional elements in and of themselves, but the shape(s) that are created when they are in close proximity, or actually converge or diverge, can act as strong a focal point, main shape or it could even be the main subject of the photograph. The use of converging and diverging lines can often result in highly creative, artful compositions.

Arcs and Semi-circles
These lines can isolate, emphasize, frame and cradle areas of an image. There is an abundance of natural arcs to be found in nature, both as positive and as negative space. It is a good idea to examine their potential uses within a composition as they can be many.

Zig-zags and Odd-shaped Lines
These kinds of lines, depending on the composition and artist, can add artistic flair, a sense of style and/or tension or serenity to an image. They are powerful composition and design tools and can make for spectacular abstracts in the hands of a skilled artist.

Curved Lines
Curved lines may add beauty and grace to an image. They are also used as a popular design technique for leading the eye into the frame. In contrast to straight or patterned lines, meandering curved lines allow the eye to explore an image in a smooth, free-flowing manner.

Groups of Lines
Groups of lines, especially short lines in close proximity to one another, or lines that form patterns are almost always guaranteed to command attention. They can cause density and give considerable weight to an area, which can affect the sense of visual balance and draw the eye to the area.

Repetitive Lines
An image comprised entirely of lines arranged in a pattern, especially lines in a precise, mathematical arrangement, can be powerful and high-impact. Because of the repetition and sense of predictability of repetitive lines, the eye travels in a predictable way that is natural and comfortable. Repetitive lines can go a long way to help create a sense of rhythm and movement.

Suggested or Implied Lines
In addition to the obvious lines found in nature, we need to be aware of suggested lines that can be created or simply happen with or without our knowledge. An example of a suggested line would be a man standing on a path, looking up at a rock. A suggested line would exist between his eyes and the rock. It is not a visible line and it does not affect our composition structurally, but it acts like a line, and it is just as powerful. Because we are curious about what he is looking at, our eye follows his gaze.

Other kinds of implied or suggested lines are those that result from forms and shapes converging or diverging in a way that naturally creates a line or visual path.

We need to be aware of these kinds of special lines when composing. They are powerful and if we’re not careful they can inadvertently weaken a design, lead the eye straight out of a photograph, create unwanted tension, divide an image or otherwise compromise a thoughtfully composed and hard-earned piece.

Creating Fluidity, Movement and Motion with Lines
Lines, both actual and suggested, can have a great impact on how the eye travels within a composition. Instead of having a viewer jump from one part of the image to another, skilled artists will often guide the viewer around their image with focal points, lines, and visual paths. The flow and momentum of this movement is dependent on the kinds of lines doing the guiding and the structure of the composition.

Using Lines to Create a Sense of Rhythm
Examples of images that use lines to create a sense of movement are: an image of concentric lines that slowly expand outward from the centre, increasing in distance as they go; a sharp horizon line that sweeps the eye quickly from one side to another; a complex path of implied lines that wander slowly throughout the image such as an aerial view of a mountain range; or an abstract image of zig-zag lines that mimic the movement of rippling water.

Tension Created by Lines
Tension is what we feel when we view objects that are not in harmony, or not at rest. In a photograph this sensation can be created in a number of ways and is another powerful design technique that should be used with care.

Tension in an image can be created using colour, values, patterns, textures, light, forms and lines. When used in the context of image construction it refers to the positioning of the physical elements in the frame and the feeling that their spatial relationships to each other and the frame creates within us.

One of the most famous examples of a photograph loaded with tension is one of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Because it is leaning over, we feel that it may tip over at any moment. This sense of anticipation mixed with the sense of unrest we may feel from the lean of the structure is what creates the sense of tension we feel when looking at the building.

Your rights as a Photographer in the UK

Some of the greatest photographs ever taken fall into the ‘street shooter’ category’.

Legendary photographers like Cartier Bresson and Andre Kertesz created their striking shots by walking the streets and looking for ‘decisive moments,’ interesting juxtapositions or just being in the right place at the right time.

Photographers Rights In The UK: A Guide So it’s vital for the art of photography that photographers should be able to go about their business without hassle from the cops – and by law that’s exactly what they’re entitled to do.

If you’re on a public right of way – such as a public pavement, footpath or public highway – you’re free to take photographs for personal and commercial use so long as you’re not causing an obstruction to other users or falling foul of anti-Terrorism laws or even the Official Secrets Act (frankly, this one is unlikely).

DPP -v- Jones (1999): The Court recognised that the public may enjoy a public highway for any reasonable purpose, provided it does not amount to public or private nuisance or obstruct the highway “by unreasonably impeding the primary right of the public to pass and re-pass: within these qualifications there is a public right of peaceful assembly on the highway.”

There’s nothing stopping you taking pictures of people in public places within reason, but if you start shoving your zoom lens up their nostrils or taking action shots of their every step, there’s a chance you might get a clip around the ear from your aggrieved subject or possibly face a legal charge of harassment or breach of the peace.

Harassment is defined as a ‘course of conduct’ (so it has to happen at least twice) that causes another person ‘alarm or distress’, but we have to say that the bullying and aggressive antics of the paparazzi would suggest that prosecutions are few and far between.

Photographers are free to use their photographs of people taken in public places as they wish – including for commercial gain.

Note: Professional photography is banned in London’s Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square as well as the Royal Parks.

If you start breaking out the tripods, glampussy models, make up crew, Winnebagos and huge lights and reflectors, expect a parkie to turn up on the scene pronto demanding a hefty fee. However, be a little more low key with your shooting and you should have no problems.

People and Privacy
UK laws are fairly vague when it comes to defining what constitutes an invasion of privacy, but while street shots should cause no problem, you might get in hot water if you’re strapping on colossal telephoto lens and zooming in on folks stripping off in their bathrooms – even if you are snapping from a public place.

The key seems to be whether the subject would have a reasonable expectation of privacy – a statement that seems vague enough to keep a team of lawyers gainfully employed for some time.

Photographers Rights In The UK: A Guide
With some countries having stronger privacy laws, UK snappers looking to commercially exploit images of recognisable people snapped without their consent may find international clients unenthusiastic unless a model release has been obtained.

There’s also a remote chance that photographs of people in public places may be subject to the Data Protection Act, but that’s pretty unlikely if there’s no other identifying information accompanying the image.

Photographing children

There are no laws against taking photos of children, but someone taking an unhealthy interest can rightly expect to attract unwelcome attention from the authorities (and quite probably passers by) pretty sharpish.

Be also mindful that if you’re taking pictures in areas where dodgy folks, drug dealers and ne’er do wells may be in view, they’re unlikely to be pleased with the attention and probably won’t be bothered about the niceties of the law in their response.

If someone asks you to stop take pictures of them, it’s generally a good idea to do so.

“There is no legal restriction on photography in public places, and there is no presumption of privacy for individuals in a public place.

It is for the Chief Constable to ensure that Officers and Police Community Support Officers are acting appropriately with regards to photography in public places, and any queries regarding this should be addressed to the Chief Constable.

However decisions may be made locally to restrict photography, for example to protect children. Any questions on such local decisions should also be addressed to the force concerned.”

Property owners have no right to stop people taking photos of their buildings, so long as the photographer is standing in a public place (e.g. the road outside).

It is also not an infringement of copyright to “take photographs of buildings, sculptures and works of artistic craftsmanship that are permanently situated in a public place or in premises that are open to the public”.

Section 62 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 expressly permits certain copying in relation to buildings, and also to sculptures and works of artistic craftsmanship that are permanently situated in a public place or in premises open to the public, although the Advertising Standards Authority has upheld complaints when photographs of private residences have been used in advertising without the owner’s permission.

Certain uses of a photograph of a building could amount to passing off, or may infringe a trademark, but as yet there has been no such cases in the UK.

Gerroff my land

Photographers Rights In The UK: A GuideHowever, if you’re standing on private property and the landowner/occupier objects, then they have every right to request that you stop immediately and ask you to leave if you refuse.

Many museums, art galleries, football grounds, concert venues and similar places ban photography as a condition of entry, so you can hardly complain if you get turfed out after you’ve whipped out your camera.

The same applies to all private property open to the public in general – e.g. offices, shops, even your local chippy – with the owner or occupier having the right to demand that you stop taking photos and get the hell out.

Most shopping centres and malls stand on private land with many gaining a notorious reputation for speedily dispatching stroppy security guards demanding that you stop taking photos.

The irony that they’re already busy filming you from every angle via a flotilla of CCTV cameras is generally lost on them.

However, it’s worth checking with individual companies before snapping and always use your common sense – if you’re getting in everyone’s way or creating a safety risk, expect to be turfed off sharpish.

Network Rail’s official line is that enthusiasts are very welcome and can be beneficial to security by providing extra ‘eyes and ears.’ All they ask is that people notify station staff and don’t do anything silly like hanging over platform edges as trains are approaching, which isn’t unreasonable.

Taking photographs on stations is permitted providing it is for personal use. For any commercial photography, prior permission must be sought from the appropriate train operator or, from Network Rail at their 17 major stations. On busy stations the use of a tripod may cause a dangerous obstruction to passengers and you may be asked not to use one.

In addition, tripod legs must also be kept away from platform edges and behind the yellow lines. Flash photography on platforms is not allowed as it may distract the attention of train drivers and train despatch staff and is therefore a potential safety hazard. You are also not allowed to take photographs of security related equipment such as CCTV cameras.

Virgin Trains have adopted a similarly sensible policy, with in November 2009 advertising their policy:

Virgin trains welcomes rail enthusiasts and passengers who wish to take still or video images at our stations.

We ask that you do not interfere with the flow of passengers and respect the wishes of both passengers and staff not to be photographed. If you are filming for extended periods and/or using bulky equipment you should make yourself known to our station staff so that the reasons for filming are clear.

Flash photography is not permitted at any time and the use of tripods should be avoided whenever possible. If you wish to use a tripod you should locate and speak with the Station Team Leader to ensure that you are in a safe area.

photographing tubes trains and stationsTube stations
Seeing as we’ve heard so many instances of people being hassled over this, here’s the low down: non-commercial photography on tube stations is most certainly allowed – and if any busybody tries to tell you different, politely tell them to bury their head in part 10 of rule Sa109 in the Working Reference Manual:

10.1 Passengers can take photographs with small cameras for private purposes, provided flashlights and/or tripods are not used no obstruction or inconvenience is caused to staff and/or passengers.

Under UK law, it’s a criminal offence to obstruct the free passage on the highway and this includes footways, bike paths and roads.

If you’re standing on a thoroughfare to grab a photograph and you’re not impeding the movement of traffic or people to any degree, then you’re absolutely within the law. Sadly, some protest photographers will be familiar with the Old Bill tactic of claiming that they’re causing an obstruction in often the most frivolous of circumstances.

Photographers Rights In The UK: A Guide
It may be a pain, but it’s usually best to move yo’ ass when asked as it’s not uncommon for innocent photographers to be arrested for obstruction at demos – or even get their collars felt for supposedly obstructing a police officer in the execution of his duty.

Taking photographs is unlikely to amount to a ‘breach of the peace’ or be seen as ‘conduct likely to cause a breach of the peace’, but if you’re stuck in the thick of a heated demo or street riot, you’ll have to be careful that the police don’t confuse you with the participants and treat you accordingly.

If you’ve a photojournalist card, wear it on a lanyard so you can easily show it to the police if challenged, but if you’re a freelancer you might find it harder to convince the cops that you’re not one of the rampaging hordes.

The best advice is to keep your eyes open and to speedily back off when the police start to charge your way.

Note that there is no law preventing you taking photographs of the police at demos, unless there are any overriding security/law enforcement concerns.

Photographers Rights In The UK: A Guide Breach of the Peace
Another legal catch-all sometimes employed by the police against photographers refusing to leave a scene when doing their job is, “conduct likely to cause a breach of the peace.”

We can’t think of any successful prosecutions of press photographers under this law, but it has certainly been used on occasion.

Some legal precedents:
In R v Howell [1981] 3 All ER 383, Watkins LJ said “… we cannot accept that there can be breach of the peace unless here has been an act done or threatened to be done which actually harms a person or in his presence his property or is likely to cause such harm or which puts someone in fear of such harm being done.” while in DPP v Percy [1995] 3 All ER 124, the court clarified that conduct could be breach of the peace if there was a real risk that it would elicit violence from a third party.

This could apply to a photographer hassling people in such a manner that he/she might elicit a violent response from those around them, although we’d suggest that this kind of offence would be extremely rare. Our advice would be to retire at a rate of knots when threatened with an arrest under breach of the peace.


If you start stomping over private property taking photos without permission, you’re committing a trespass, and the same applies to anyone who “interferes” with the property.

The “interference” law is a bit of a daft one and can be used for something as trivial as scrambling up a bit of wall to take a photo over the top or even resting your camera on a fence.

If you’ve been given access to property on the condition that your camera stays firmly in your bag, the second you start snapping you’re no longer entitled to be on the land and are thus guilty of trespass (Scottish law differs in this regard).

Landowners, occupiers, security guards and bouncers etc. are allowed to use ‘reasonable force’ to prevent a trespasser entering their property and they can also use reasonable force to eject a trespasser who is refusing to leave their land, but the law is very strict about what constitutes reasonable force.

This means that almost any violent attack would be unreasonable under the law, as would threatening someone with a knife, club, Ninja sword, Nunchaku, AK47, thermo-nuclear device or any other weapon.

Note: Property owners or their employees and security staff have no right whatsoever to confiscate or damage a photographer’s camera or insist that images are deleted.


Deleting images
We’ve given this a separate page because it’s a very important issue – your photos are your work, and you’re entitled to protect them.

We deal with some of the related issues in more depth in our Photographing protests in the UK page, but here’s the basic outlines of the law:

Security guards do not have stop and search powers or the right to seize your equipment or delete images or confiscate film under any circumstances.

In some circumstances, the police may grab your film or memory cards but they are still not authorised to delete any images.

After all, if you’ve committed an offence the images would act as evidence, and if you haven’t broken the law, the images are innocent.

Photorec photograph recovery softwareRECOVERING DELETED IMAGES

If you are forced to delete your photos, take the card out of the camera immediately. Whatever you do, do not take any new pictures as these will reduce your chances of recovering the deleted images. If you want to keep on snapping, use a fresh card.

When you get home, you can use a file recovery program to get your images back. These often have a high success rate.

If you are arrested, keep calm and do not panic. Remember that you have the right to be treated fairly and with respect by the police.

Photographers rights and the lawWhen you are arrested you do not have to say anything to the police. BUT if you are later charged with a crime and you have not mentioned, when questioned, something that you later rely on in court, then this may be taken into account when deciding if you are guilty.

We suggest you respond with:

I have been advised that I should answer no questions.

It is not right that I should have to give a complete case for my self until charges have been made and properly explained and until there are other people around to check that questions put to me are fair and legal.

I will say nothing until I am advised to do so by a fully qualified legal advisor.

There may be good reasons why you do not wish to say anything to the police, and you should not be intimidated into answering questions. Get a solicitor down to see you in the police station as soon as possible.

Remember that it is wise not to discuss the case with the police until you have consulted privately with a solicitor. If the police are about to arrest you or have already arrested you, there is no such thing as a ‘friendly chat’ to sort things out. Anything you say can later be used against you. Think before you talk.

Always get proper legal representation if you get into bother with the law.

Composition of Photography

1) General Definition of the Term

The term “composition” applies not only to visual arts, but to music, dance, literature and virtually any other kind of art. In certain contexts, such as writing, this term may not be as widely used, but is just as valid nonetheless. In general, the term “composition” has two distinctive, yet related meanings.

First and foremost, “composition” describes placement of relative objects and elements in a work of art. Consequently, composition is a key aspect of a good work of art. There is hardly a way to overemphasize the importance of composition. Any aspiring artist ought to give composition of his work a lot of attention. A good composition is one that has just enough detail. Too few elements is bad because it robs the work of art of necessary detail that makes correct interpretation possible. It also ruins the balance of an image. And too many elements can be very distracting as well. Good composition requires good balance. It is best to make sure all the elements present are necessary for the idea or story you are trying to pass on.

2) What is Composition in Photography?

Now that we know the general definition of the term “composition”, it is not too hard to figure out its meaning in photography. Simply put, composing an image means arranging elements within it in a way that suits the core idea or goal of your work best. Arranging elements can be done by actually moving the objects or subjects. A good example for this case is portrait or still life photography. Street photography involves anticipation, since the photographer doesn’t usually have the choice of moving his subjects himself, but has to wait for them to take the most suitable position within the frame. Another way of arranging elements is by changing your own position. Such a way is appropriate in circumstances that do not allow the photographer to physically move anything, like landscape photography.

Composition is a way of guiding the viewer’s eye towards the most important elements of your work, sometimes – in a very specific order. A good composition can help make a masterpiece even out of the dullest objects and subjects in the plainest of environments. On the other hand, a bad composition can ruin a photograph completely, despite how interesting the subject may be. A poorly judged composition is also not something you can usually fix in post-processing, unlike simple and common exposure or white balance errors. Cropping can sometimes save an image, but only when tighter framing and removal of certain portions of the image is the correct solution. That is why giving your choice of composition plenty of thought before capturing an image is a step of utmost importance.

Street Photography in Vilnius

Focal length, aperture, angle at which you choose to position your camera relative to your subject also greatly affects composition. For example, choosing a wider aperture will blur the background and foreground, effectively lessening the importance of objects placed in there. It will also more often than not result in more noticeable corner shading (vignetting), which will help keep viewer’s eye inside the frame for longer. On the other hand, closing down the aperture will bring more objects into focus which, in turn, may result in better image balance. How so? Well, “sharper”, more in-focus objects may attract more attention than a blurry shape, but not always (see image sample below). An experienced photographer will use all the available means to achieve the desired result. It is worth noting that de-focusing objects in the foreground or background does not negate their contribution to overall composition of the image. Simple shapes, tones, shadows, highlights, colors are all strong elements of composition.

Take a look at the below image. Despite the fact that part of a wall showing in the foreground is completely out of focus, it is the most vivid part of the photograph as well as being quite bright. For this reason, it attracts our attention much more than the main subject (man with the tea cup and his Siberian Husky hiding in shadows). The bright yellow rectangle is the first thing you see when you glance at the photograph. A good and obvious way to fix this would be to reduce the vividness and luminance of yellow using Lightroom’s HSL panel (although I actually like the contrast between the two parts of the photograph):

Street Photography in Vilnius_1


Composing an image eventually becomes a very natural process. With enough practice – mind you, there can never be too much of such a thing – you will not even have to think about the placement of those elements. Your subconscious will do it for you. Your fingers will dial correct settings, your eye will guide the framing. Poor composition will instantly appear unnatural and just plain wrong to you. The more experience you have, the better choices you will make. Best way to grow as a photographer is not to rush your decisions and not trust your subconscious unquestionably, but to learn new ways of composing your image. Not that you shouldn’t trust your guts – you should, of course. But make sure to also give it some thought, experiment, take a few shots and analyze them during post-processing. See what works best, try to understand why and then experiment some more.

3) The Goal of Composition

One may assume that a good composition is one that is most pleasing to the eye. Consequently, the goal of good composition ought to be showing your subject or object in a flattering, aesthetically pleasing manner. But such opinion is a little superficial. Not every work of art is supposed to be pleasing or beautiful to the viewer. Some artists try to express different, stronger ideas and their subject, as well as composition choices help achieve that. For example, if an artist wants the viewer to feel uncomfortable or nervous, he will choose a composition that is least “natural” and come up with something unexpected and shocking. A good example of such work is war photography, where photographers often try to help the viewer feel how terrifying and destructive war is. On the other hand, an artist may portray war victims in a very flattering and disturbingly beautiful way. By doing so, he would emphasize war’s ugly nature in a grotesque and sarcastic manner. So, in the end, the goal of a good composition is to help express the idea of the artist by necessary means.

Rule of Thirds

Rule of Thirds Definition

In the rule of thirds, photos are divided into thirds with two imaginary lines vertically and two lines horizontally making three columns, three rows, and nine sections in the images. Important compositional elements and leading lines are placed on or near the imaginary lines and where the lines intersect.

When taking a photograph with the rule of thirds in mind, it’s always best to compose the photograph in the camera. This is so that you can avoid cropping later to retain as much of the image as possible and avoid reducing the quality of your photographs. However, I encourage going back to some of your older photography and seeing if you can improve them by cropping in a way to make them use the rule of thirds technique.

Rule of Thirds Grid

Rule of Thirds Grid

Rule of Thirds Examples

Rule of Thirds Example: Landscapes

When taking a picture of a landscape, it’s natural to want to center the horizon in the frame. However, pictures often look better if the horizon falls on the upper or lower horizontal dividing line. If the focus of your image is on land (i.e. mountains, buildings), the horizon should fall near the upper third and if the focus is the sky (i.e. sunsets, sunrises), the horizon should fall near the lower third.

Here is an example of the rule of thirds for a landscape photo. The focus is on the land area rather than the sky so the bottom two-thirds of the photograph are filled with land and the top third is sky.

Rule of Thirds

Rule of Thirds Example: Portraits

Here is an example of a rule of thirds portrait. As you can see, the eyes are lined up with the upper horizontal line and each eye is where the upper horizontal line intersects with a vertical line.

Rule of Thirds


Leading Lines

Lines are capable of leading the viewer’s eye through the frame in different directions, usually either towards or away from a point of interest. Here’s our guide to photographing with leading lines.


Leading Lines

Lines are capable of leading the viewer’s eye through the frame in different directions, usually either towards or away from a point of interest. Here’s our guide to photographing with leading lines.

Leading lines is one method that depends upon utilising scenic surroundings in a format to literally lead the eye following a subject through the image. It can be an addition that takes an image to that meaningful next level.

Lines are capable of leading the viewer’s eye through the frame in different directions, usually either towards or away from a point of interest. When you open a novel, for example, your eye has been trained to read from left to right from top to bottom. Imagery is different as the eye will grab at certain contrasting areas, yet still follow and ‘read through’ the image.

Composition of leading lines should consider viewpoint as this may provide a ‘look down’ onto natural lines such as pathways that wouldn’t be seen from ground eye level. Arranging natural lines also requires consideration of where you wish to place emphasis in the frame, as a line can lead to a key subject. Multiple lines can provide a more complex effect that leads the eye back and forth, though complex compositions can become unpleasant to look at. Leading lines often lead from the bottom of an image, leading into the centre or key thirds.

Splitting a composition with leading lines can also have an unusual yet appealing effect. By dissecting one area from another, a line can have a significant impact. Central lines can act as divisions or pointers from one area of an image to another too.

Leading Lines – Examples


Leading lines don’t strictly have to be single, defined lines. Shooting at the right angle on a pattern, for example, can create real drama in an image and draw the eye through the frame.



Don’t always concentrate on placing the leading lines in the conventional position. Introduce the line from off-centre, and have it exit the frame at a differing position.


With a low angle and close-up to a leading line, you can add real impact to a shot. While leading lines are a great tool to draw the eye through a frame, they can themselves be the focus of a shot.




Don’t always concentrate on just a single leading line in a shot. Introducing more than one can create a real dynamism, though don’t overcomplicate things.


Remember, leading lines don’t have to be straight. A meandering stream or winding road creates a sense of harmony within the shot.