Photography By The Alphabet, Part 5—U To Z

Photography By The Alphabet, Part 5—U To Z

Today’s Photo Tip Of The Week is the final installment in a five-tip series. The series has been spread out over a five-week period where I’ve taken you on an alphabetical journey to cover a magnitude of photographic instruction exploring numerous photo concepts from A to Z. Check out the four previous week’s tips where I covered A to E, F to J, K to O and P to T to for lots of great information. While every letter of the alphabet hasn’t been covered, many key photo topics have been explored based on the letter with which they start. Enjoy the final chapter in our journey down the alphabetical trail to garner photo knowledge and wisdom.

U is for Underexposure: Everyone will face a tricky exposure situation every now and then—they’re inevitable. In a perfect world, a sensor would be able to record the full spectrum of light, from deep shadows to bright highlights, but the technology isn’t yet there. With this being the case, if the shot HAS to be made with a single exposure, bias it to record information in the brightest areas that require detail. This translates to underexposure in the shadows. Blown-out highlights can’t be recovered but shadow detail can, albeit with added noise. Noise can be reduced, but if highlight detail is lost, it’s gone. With this in mind, the next time you encounter a situation where the exposure range is broad and the subject dictates single file capture, expose for the highlights. Use the exposure compensation button to obtain the “proper” reading, but be sure to zero it out before you move on to your next subject.

V is for Viewfinder: Study your entire viewfinder before you press the shutter. Look for distractions that appear along frame edges. Look for bright spots that draw the eye away from the subject. Carefully scan the entire viewfinder to avoid “tunnel vision.” Tunnel vision occurs when you concentrate on just the subject and ignore what’s to its left, right, behind, above and below it. Don’t be the photographer who makes a photo with a tree or lamppost growing out of someone’s head. Also, be aware of the LCD readout located along the bottom or side of the viewfinder. It informs you of your ISO, exposure compensation, metering mode, how many exposures are left on your card, etc. Use this information wisely! If you set any of those dials to something other than your defaults, you’ll be warned. Use this warning to prevent unwanted ISOs from being used, over or under exposure if compensation is dialed in, etc. A quick glance can save a huge headache.

Photography By The Alphabet, Part 5—U To Z

W is for Window Light: Window light is often used for portraits. It’s a soft source that wraps around the subject. If the sun is direct, it can be diffused with a thin, white, translucent piece of fabric. If you need it to be harsh, don’t diffuse it. All in all, window light is very versatile. But, window light doesn’t have to be reserved for photographing people. Many subjects are fair game. Combined with the use of a reflector, light can be bounced onto the shadow side of a still life. Incandescent light can be added to provide a warm glow. Flash can be added into the mix to create a spotlight. Don’t overlook the multifaceted virtues of window light combined with auxiliary sources.

X is for XQD and XMP: XQD is a new digital card format that’s taking hold in the industry. Cards keep getting faster, can hold more memory and they’re getting smaller in size. The XQD format has read and write speeds that are amazingly fast. The size of the card falls in between a CF and SD card. They have a ton of memory. It waits to be seen how many new cameras get released that will adopt the format. I bring up XMP because it relates to a RAW capture. The XMP is the sidecar file that holds the non-destructive instructions to the RAW capture. If you don’t shoot RAW, you may not know what an XMP file is. I bring this up because if you don’t shoot in RAW, start today to become familiar with the XMP file and realize the power of RAW data.

Photography By The Alphabet, Part 5—U To Z

Y is for You: If you’ve read each of my subsequent tips and made it to the letter Y, make it all about YOU. Photograph what YOU want to photograph. Don’t worry about what others think. Click the shutter because YOU like the photo. Hang that photo on the wall so when YOU walk past it, it puts a smile on your face. Get that piece of photo equipment you’ve been wanting but hesitating to purchase. Hold it up to the mirror and smile at yourself when you see your image with it in YOUR hand. Go on that photo tour you’ve longed to take because it’s what YOU want to do. The memories will last a lifetime and nobody can take them away. Enjoy photography for yourself!

Z is for Zoom: With regards to photography, the word “zoom” has lots of associations: A photographer can zoom with his feet to get closer or farther away from the subject. The lens can be zoomed to the telephoto setting to bring a subject closer or to its wide setting to include more environment. There are wide-angle zooms, medium range zooms and telephoto zooms. Choose the one that best fits your needs. Get a zoom with stabilization because when you zoom to the telephoto setting, camera movement is more pronounced. If camera movement occurs, the photo won’t be sharp. Special effects can be created with a zoom. During a slow exposure, zoom the lens to create converging radial lines that lead the eye to the center of the image. Vary the speed at which you zoom the lens to create different effects. Zoom the lens from the wide to the telephoto setting for one effect and then from the telephoto to the wide for a different one.

From A to Z, I hope you enjoyed the series!

Visit for information about his nature photography tours and safari to Tanzania.

Photography is what motivates me to move through life in a positive way. Photography is ͞All About The Light͟ and it’s the first thing I seek out before I press the shutter. Optimally, I pursue great subjects in great light, but if there’s an ordinary subject in great light, I still press the shutter. I love to share the photographic knowledge I’ve accumulated and I hope my enthusiasm is contagious so I can motivate others to feel the same way I do about my photography.


    Great series Russ, really enjoyable and creative. Plus…you did it! I had to check…yup, used all 26 letters in the alphabet too. Like how you used the most important topics for each letter, where other choices were available. Thanks a lot!

Leave a Reply

Main Menu