Quick Tips for Outdoor Photography

written by Georgia Schumacher 1 April 2014

PhotographyIf you love being in the great outdoors, then taking a nature or landscape photography class might be right up your alley. While it might seem like an easy specialty to master, there's more to it than meets the eye. However, it's possible to improve your skills, if you're willing to put in a little time and effort. These quick tips will have your photographs looking professional in no time.

Early to Bed, Early to Rise

While natural lighting is always preferable, not all light is created equal. The light around the middle of the day is too harsh and won't show your subjects to their best advantage. The light just before sunrise and just after sunset is the best for getting great shots of landscapes and nature, but be quick as it will soon get too light or too dark.

Horizon Horrors

This might go without saying, but in photos, the horizon should be, well, horizontal. One of the common problems in outdoor photography is forgetting to keep your horizon straight. Take that extra moment to make sure that you're shooting level and your photos will thank you for it.

Shutter Speeds

Think about the optimum shutter speed for your subject. If you're tackling landscape photography then a longer shutter speed is generally best. However, if you're looking to get some great wildlife shots, then you'll want a fast shutter speed, especially if you want to catch animals in motion. For longer shutter speeds, it's more or less vital that you use a tripod to keep your camera still and ensure your photos don't come out blurred.

Preparation, Preparation, Preparation

Nothing shines through in outdoor photography more than a true passion for nature. However, it's still important to prepare and do your research. If you're trying to capture a particular species (be it animal or vegetable), make sure that you'll be able to find it in the area you're photographing at the time of year you're going. It's also a good idea to thoroughly explore the place where you're shooting, especially if you're looking for great landscape photographs. Taking this extra time will help you to get amazing shots that really have that wow factor.

Get Serious about Your Photography

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in photography, consider taking photography classes at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division. We have several photography programs available online, and our photography classes are designed to allow you to explore the elements of image production and manipulation, learn how to use a wide range of professional camera and lighting equipment, and gain the ability to capture a moment through your lens that evokes emotion.

Read More

- http://photography.nationalgeographic.com/photography/photo-tips/landscape-quick-tips/
- http://www.digitalcameraworld.com/2010/09/08/10-quick-wildlife-photography-tips/

21st Century Photography Classes: Blending History and Technology

written by Georgia Schumacher 26 February 2014

Photography is a tremendously exciting area of study. Almost everyone has experienced the thrill of taking a great photo and documenting an amazing moment or place. Part of what makes photography so exciting is that it blends art and science as well as creativity and analytics. It's also one of the fastest changing disciplines in the art world. Photography classes taught in art schools aren't just intended to make professional photographers out of creative individuals. They're designed to create students of history and technology.

The evolution of photography has changed the way classes are taught. Technology is a catalyst that has brought a new dimension and new possibilities to this unique art form. Today's photography classes have a wider focus, and today's students have a greater breadth of knowledge. Aspiring photographers still need to learn everything that was taught in the past, but they also need to master a wide range of new technologies and techniques.

In the digital age, photography doesn't stop when the picture is taken. There's an opportunity to edit creatively, perfect the image, and apply dazzling effects. Students also have the option to apply the principles of photography to videography and other disciplines.

Photo History


The lens makes photography possible. However, the person behind the camera and the subject in front of the lens are what make photography so magical. To harness the power of this lens-based medium, students must understand how photography became what it is.

This art form has evolved tremendously since the first successful photos were taken in the 19th century. First, there were medieval precursors and projectors like the camera obscura. Then, there was the famous daguerreotype developed by French scientist Louis Daguerre, which required a 10-minute exposure period. More recently, advances like Kodachrome took small steps toward achieving photography's full potential. Students of history can better appreciate photography and can better understand the expressive nature of the discipline.

Back to Basics

Modern students are usually comfortable behind digital point-and-shoot cameras, but teachers would be remiss if they didn't encourage students to take a step back to explore photography history. In the analog age, the darkroom was the photographer's office. Safelights, film winders, enlargers, and development chemicals were their tools. Photography classes must cover the basics before skipping ahead through decades of technology. That's why analog and digital facilities are available at every art school. Both technologies are valuable when students are leaning to master the medium. Contrast and composition are the essence of photography, and these skills are often learned by taking black-and-white photos. Once these skills are mastered in the real world, students can begin to work on lighting and various techniques in the studio.

Digital Technology

Digital cameras surpassed film in 2003. Many modern students are digital natives that consider film a foreign object. Teaching students the fundamentals of film, lenses, and analog equipment is essential. Then, they can learn how to apply traditional techniques to a digital medium. Whether students are using an old Miranda camera or a new Nikon, it's important to understand the fundamentals and know how aperture, shutter speed and lenses will affect the final shot. Mastering the basics is extremely important. It also gives aspiring photographers the freedom to apply traditional techniques to a digital medium, which can produce some very unique and original results.

Image Processing

Digital image processing, editing, and manipulation programs are advancing quickly. Today's students must be intimately familiar with photo editing software, such as Adobe Photoshop. In many cases, the fun begins after the photo is taken. To be successful, most students need to learn basic photo editing skills as well as some advanced ones. That's why image processing has become an increasingly important part of the art school curriculum. Commercial photographers will find that touchups, background removal, and other similar techniques are essential for their work. In other areas, students may find that creative styling, high dynamic resolution, and digital adjustment tools are useful for creating high-quality pictures in a unique style.


Photo EditingArt school studies are designed to prepare students for life after university. Comprehensive programs give students the skills to pursue photography as a hobby, as an art form, or as a way to make a living.

Photographers can find employment in many areas depending on their interests and training. Advertising, product photography, communications, and portraits are excellent commercial opportunities. Other students might be more inclined to use their skills in science, law, criminal justice, or photojournalism. On the creative side, there's fine art, nature, and street photography. Finally, interdisciplinary skills are a growing area. Photographers can use their talents as a printmaker, graphic designer, or videographer.

The Future

Photography's future is as interesting and exciting as its past. The field of photography is very different today than it was just a decade ago. Recent breakthroughs include 3D photography, image stabilization, superior noise reduction, and better electronics. New technologies and techniques emerging currently will further change how the subject is approached. Because the field is evolving so rapidly, now is a great time to enroll in photography classes.

4 Things You Need to Know about Portrait Photography

written by Georgia Schumacher 15 February 2014

Taking photography classes can help you build your career as a portrait photographer and can teach you important techniques and skills that will make a big difference in your work. However, here are a few tips you can put into practice now to make your portraits look even better and keep you business costs down.

1. You Don’t Actually Need a Studio

Portrait Photographer

The first thing new photographers think is that they need a studio. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Many successful portrait photographers operate their business without a studio.

Here’s how:

• Keep the lighting and gear simple.
• Choose natural settings, brick walls, abandoned buildings and the subject’s home instead of indoor backdrops.
• Let customers make appointments over Skype or at a coffee shop so you don’t need a physical building.

2. A Good Flash Is Your Best Friend

When you’re just starting out in photography, buying equipment can quickly get expensive, and buying smart is important. One of the best investments you can make is in an external flash.

This type of flash allows you to use a bounce flash technique in which you rotate the flash in different directions, letting you literally bounce the flash off of a flat object and onto your subject. This is a particularly handy tool if you are taking portrait shots indoors and works best for low white ceilings. Bouncing the flash off of, a ceiling instead of directly hitting your subject with the flash has several benefits:

• The light in the portrait is even and much softer.
• There is less chance of redeye.
• The subject won’t be blinded and less likely to blink.

3. The Pose Is Key

A great pose can take a portrait from blah to fantastic. Always remember, don’t have your subject stand straight, you can have lean them on a wall or sit on a chair. Also, add a little angle to each pose by turning the subject a little to the right or left. Many experts belief the ideal portrait pose is with the subject’s head toward the camera, chin up and body rotated slightly away (about 45 degrees or less).

4. Editing Isn't Everything

If you go to online portrait photography forums, you'll hear a lot about photoshopping photos. Though Photoshop is a useful tool, you don't need to use it heavily to be a good portrait photographer. Instead, focus more on your photography skills and less on your editing skills. Some can even take editing too far --if you edit the photo so much that the subject no longer resembles themselves, it's time to back away from the computer.

Portrait photography rules and techniques can seem overwhelming to a beginner, but these basics are a great foundation to build on. By taking photography classes or attending a school with digital photography programs, you can continue building your expertise, your resume and your photography portfolio!

Request information about The Art Insitute of Pittsburgh -- Online Division.

Photography Artist Series Debuts 10/7/13

written by Georgia Schumacher 7 October 2013


The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division’s Artist Talk series starts tonight, October 7, 2013. To register for tonight’s event or the next two upcoming talks, visit the Events page in the Campus Common!

On-Location Photography

Travels to Iceland and Exploration of Still, TBM and Audio Capture
Presented by Faculty Member Ellyn Norris
October 7, 8:00 PM EST

Ellyn Norris, senior faculty member, will share insights with photo based work during her recent experiences while living in Iceland during June 2013. Ellyn will talk about her experiences with integrating herself into the Iceland photo and art community and the challenges and opportunities of working within the landscape there.

Check out Ellyn on the web at http://www.ellynism.com/blog/.

Photojournalism and Documentary Photography

Presented by Neal Menschel
October 22, 7:30pm EST

We are pleased to announce photographer, Neal Menschel, as a guest speaker of our Photography Department Artist Talk series. Neal Menschel is a photographer based out of San Francisco Bay Area and has worked in the world of photojournalism and documentary photography for well over twenty-five years. From 1984 through 1998, Menschel worked as the Director of Photography for The Christian Science Monitor, an international news publication based out of Massachusetts. Alongside being the Director of Photography at this newspaper, Menschel also worked as one of the Senior Photographers. He has also taken photographs for Newsweek and The New York Times. Menschel has covered a variety of topics ranging from presidential elections to third world politics and development.

Find more about Menschel and his work at http://www.nealmenschel.com.

Portrait Photography

Presented by Faculty Member Reuben Njaa
November 7, 7:30pm EST

Reuben Njaa, senior photography faculty member, will present a talk on his recent photographic portrait series. Join us to hear Reuben describe his artistic process as well as the aesthetic considerations for this series of work. Reuben states, "I enjoy watching people. I’m always looking for the different quirks people have, but are usually unaware of. It might be the way they grab their ear, touch their hair, or scrunch up their face when they think nobody is looking. To me, all these quirky gestures and expressions are part of what make people so interesting for me and those intangibles I've always tried to come away with in my portraits."

Check out some of Reuben’s work online here.


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Learn about the Photography Programs at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh -- Online Division today!

Hawaii Sport Magazine Cover Features Student Work

written by Georgia Schumacher 25 June 2013

Surrounded by picturesque scenery in Honolulu, Cyndia Lavik only has to look outside to find artistic inspiration. Surprisingly though, being a photographer in Hawaii can be difficult. “Living here is great for scenery, but I have to promote myself twice as hard to find work due to the number of photographers in the area,” she explains.

The strong competition in her field is in part what inspired Cyndia to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Photography from The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division. She says, “By improving my knowledge on both the business aspects and the technical issues, I feel I am increasing my chances of getting hired.”

Cyndia attended The Art Institute of Seattle in the early 1990s before working in the music industry for several years. She occasionally photographed musicians for her job, and she began to realize her passion for photography. “I have had a variety of career changes. I find a lot of things interesting, like music, sports and travel, but photography has always been with me along the way.”

Cyndia chose to return to The Art Institute system of schools to study photography, and attending school online was the obvious choice. “Remaining close to my husband and daughter is my first priority,” she says. “The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division keeps me connected to the mainland, while also allowing me to remain with my family in Hawaii.”

“It’s not easy being a parent, student, wife and having a professional career,” she admits, but she’s glad to be earning her degree and has even taken on a leadership role in the school’s Student Photographic Society.

Cyndia's image 1

“My training has started to pay off with recognition and compliments from potential and current clients. I feel a lot more confident in my decisions and interaction with clients,” she says.

In fact, Cyndia recently assisted on a shoot for Hawaii Sport Magazine, and two of her photos were featured on the cover of the May 2013 issue. Cyndia had previously photographed several of the magazine’s staff members, and, because they were impressed with her work, they invited her to be the second photographer for the shoot.

Cyndia Photo 2

The shoot started at 6:30am and lasted until sunset, involving three locations and two sets of models.

Cyndia learned a lot from the experience, especially the importance of listening to direction from clients and creative directors, which is how her shot--actually a last minute idea--ended up the cover.

She also strongly advocates networking to find clients. “I keep involved in my community, hand out business cards and share portfolio photos on my iPhone to meet new contacts,” she says. She also collaborates with a writer to propose articles and imagery together.

For other students, she says, “There will be days when you feel like quitting, but every class that I have taken so far has been helpful in my creative process. Just remember that every class is getting you one step closer toward your personal and professional goals.”

Two of Cyndia's photos from the shoot are featured above. To see more of her work, visit her website or view the magazine cover and pages 25-31.

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Current Students: Share your success stories or your artwork here!