Olympus EM10-II Easy Settings for Moon Photography

We all love Full Moon shots right? I came across a tutorial on taking moon photos which proved it was so much easier than I thought it would be and you do not need a full fancy mega expensive lens either!

I used my Olympus EM10 Mark ii with the basic 40mm - 150mm f4/f5.6 telephoto lens plus a tripod, but the tripod isn’t essential, if you have a steady hand or a wall or large sturdy object to lean against you will still capture good shots.

The recommended settings are :

ISO 200 (Yes really)

F8 (The most frequent sweet spot for many lenses)

Metering Mode - Spot Metering

Anti Shock Mode

White Balance - Sunny (yes really)

Once I had my settings all set up with my camera on the tripod, I just needed to find the focus point and adjust the exposure settings, using my auto focus I positioned the focus point so it sat on the edge of the moon, therefore capturing the contrast between the bright light of the moon and dark sky, which makes easy for the camera to find the focus. The last setting needed was to adjust the exposure compensation, I tested it on a few shots, I was somewhere around minus 2.7 - 3, just keep trying to see which suits your lighting condition best. I like to use RAW files instead of JPEGS for my post processing, these moon photos had the bare minimum of editing in Lightroom, basically a little bit of Contrast, some tweaking of the shadows, black and whites, finally a little sharpening. I was very pleased with my first ever attempt, I cannot wait for another full moon opportunity, just hope the weather will play fair too!

How to add more background to an image

This is a tool that I love to use in Photoshop a lot, the Content Aware Tool, using this makes it so easy to take your beautiful Square Image and add more of the background to create some negative space.  Having more negative space is useful, if only to leave room for the eye to wander around your beautiful photograph, or you can use it to add some text, perhaps a favourite quote, or add another item to your photograph, such as a invitation you may be creating or perhaps a piece of artwork.

These are the basic steps taking your square image and creating a rectangle image.

Here is my original image a nice square shaped photograph.which is great to use on Instagram, but there are other possibilities for it as well, if it was bigger.


By using the Content Aware tool I now have the same but with some useful negative space.

To create this larger image, I took the following steps: 

 Open your square image in Photoshop

 Open the Crop Tool as shown here in on the left hand side of the  this image


Now grab the side of the image you wish to add more background too, I am adding more space to the right hand side of my image, by pulling out  to the new width that you want, then click on the tick at the top of the screen to accept. My image below shows by the pink arrow how far I have pulled it out, photoshop automatically fills the empty space with this black colour. and that is the space we are going to fill with the existing background. 


Go to the Selextion tool as indicated by my pink arrow, the use it to select the piece of background you are going to use.  

I have made my selection of the far right hand side of the image, just selecting the background part.


Now we have the last step, go back up to Edit, then choose Content Aware Scale from the menu, you will see your selection has changed, go to the middle of that selection and pull it out towards your space that you are filling. Click ok when it is completed.  

You now have the original image but with extra space!  Perfect to leave as is, or you could text for your favourite inspirational quote, or maybe add a piece of stationery or artwork.  


Dark and moody for the shortest day of the year

21st December is the shortest day of the year, and boy am I glad to see it knowing that from the 22nd the days are going to begin to get longer. I only use natural lighting for my photography, and winter time is just so difficult with the all the cloudy days we have along with the shortest period of time in the day to try and take some photographs, it does present some challenges to say the least! Roll on those longer days!  

Winter time is the perfect time to create those 'dark and moody' images, which I find quite difficult to  create as I am naturally drawn to light and bright but I was delighted to read and watch a tutorial by the lovely Cristina Colli on her blog on how using Lightroom to edit a dark and moody style of image.  I have created a  Before and After shot of a beautiful Blue Thistle, Eryngium, I love to shoot in  RAW as it is such a blank canvas to be able to  add my own style of editing to the images. As you can see the Before is pretty bland, but by making some adjustments which included changing the Temperature which helped to create that 'Blue' background, adding some contrast, and using the Adjustment Brush Tool to paint on some highlights, it has totally changed the final look, much more appealing don't you think? 


Here are some screen shots  

Ist Image

Is the original RAW file without any adjustments

2nd Image

I have changed the White Balance Temperature moving the tool more towards the blue spectrum, it was 6450 as you can see on the original but I altered it to 4903    

3rd Image

colour saturation adjustments in the HSL section

4th Image

Using the Adjustment brush to add highlights to the side of the thistle which was facing the light source


Rule of Thirds and why it is useful

The rule of thirds is one of the most basic composition guidelines used in  photography it is a great way to create a strong visual impact easily, it draws upon the natural tendency for the human eye to be drawn into particular parts of the image, this helps you to make sure your followers/viewers will focus on the area you want them to in your image.

It is basically a grid dividing your image into 3 equal parts, horizontally and vertically, you will have created a grid of 9 boxes with the lines intersecting at four equal points, according to the rule of thirds it is where the lines intersect that you should place your the parts of your image that you want the viewer to look at, these are the ideal places for points of interest.

 Here is an image that I took applying the rule of thirds, I wanted the viewer to be drawn to the centre of the Rose, as we read from left to right I tend to place my object on the left hand side of the composition, only because it is a more natural way for the human eye to move, for cultures in the world who read from the right, then it would be more natural to place your your subject on the right hand side of the image. 

As you can see, I have used the top left hand cross point to place the centre of my rose. Using this method it allows you to to also place your focus  point either up on the top cross section point of the lower, depending on your subject.

Most Cameras and modern mobile phone camera settings  allow you add a grid onto the screen so that you can utilise this rule of thirds whilst composing the image. Alternatively you can take your photo then apply the rule of thirds whilst cropping your image. I personally prefer to do it in camera rather than at the editing stage. After a little while you will probably by able to judge quite easily with just your own eye and no need to use the grid at all.

Remember however it is only a guideline, as they say, rules are made to be broken, but if you are just starting out it is a super easy way to create a lovely visual impact!