The Best Digital SLR Cameras of 2018

Creative Articles

What is the best DSLR camera in the market? The answer isn’t a simple black and white. What one would consider a great camera depends largely on the photographer’s need so it may vary from person to person. In this article we will be listing what we think are the best DSLR cameras in each segment, professional, mid-tier and beginners.

Nikon D850

Niko D850

For years Canon always seemed to edge out Nikon in the DSLR market but not anymore. The Nikon D850 is immensely popular its next to impossible finding them in stock despite its high price tag.

The Nikon D850 is a true professional’s camera. An update of the Nikon D810 the Nikon D850 will tick all most if not all your boxes, whether you are taking shoots at a live event, landscape or wildlife. With its 45.7 megapixels of resolution, superior autofocus, faster buffering speeds, high resolution tilting LCD screen, and significantly longer battery life. It is no wonder that the Nikon D850 is king.

Canon Eos 5D Mark IV

The Canon 5D Mark IV was king before the advent of the Nikon D850. With its terrific features, reliability and excellent image quality, Canon 5D Mark IV was truly to go to camera. Aimed at professionals and advanced enthusiasts, the 5D Mark IV with its accurate autofocus system that would allow you to take great shots, even in low light was well designed to give you the best performance of both still photography and videography, making it a well-designed, highly versatile DSLR.

Canon EOS 7D Mark II

How do you improve on a classic? By creating another classic and that is what canon has done with the Canon EOS 7D Mark II. The Canon 7D Mark II had huge shoes to fill and it hasn’t disappointed. With faster burst shooting, improved autofocus and redesigned micro lenses that offer greater ISO range, the 7D Mark II is clearly the mid-tier DSLR camera of choice for both still shots and videography.

Nikon D3400

We have looked at the professional and mid-tier but what if you’ve just gotten your feet wet in DSLR waters and a looking for an entry level DSLR camera? Look no further then the Nikon D3400. It is a no-frills beautifully designed camera. One that prioritizes small size, light weight and a simple design, all the while maintaining the benefits of an interchangeable-lens system. It has good image quality and is easy to use for beginners.

Nikon has announced the Launch of the D3500, we shall update you as soon as it hits the market

Canon EOS 200D


Want to jump from smart phone and compact camera photography into the DSLR world? The Canon EOS 200D is a good place to start. It’s small and light design is great for beginners as they learn their way around a DSLR camera’s key controls and settings. The Canon EOS 200D has an impressive set of features as a learning platform.

Yes, there are great DSLR camera from other manufactures such as Pentax, Sony and others but it is cameras from Canon and Nikon that have managed to dominate this segment of camera production. Their wide range of lenses and accessories make them the go to brands for DSLR Cameras.



Digital single lens Reflex, more commonly known as DSLR is one of the most famous types of digital cameras in use. DSLR have gained in popularity due their versatility and being highly customizable, with a wide range of accessories and interchangeable filters and lenses. A necessity when it comes to landscape photography.

You can take a great landscape photo with almost any camera available in the market today, be it your smart phone or standard digital camera. If that is the case, is there a need to invest in a DSLR camera? Yes. While most camera will do fine for Instagram and personal photos. A DSLR camera is for those who want to go a notch higher with their photography. With a DSLR camera its interchangeable lenses as well as manual settings allow you more control to set up for the perfect shot.

With so many DSLR Cameras in the market today, it is easy to get confused which camera will satisfy your needs.  In this article we have compiled our top 5 list of best DSLR cameras for landscape photography.

Canon EOS 5DS R

The original Canon EOS 5D DSLR was the first affordable full frame DSLR. It was and still is regarded as one of the best DSLR in the market. It was always going to be a tall order to try and improve on it and Canon did not disappoint. If the original Canon EOS 5D is a hall of famer this new Canon EOS 5DS R is the holy grail of DSLR cameras. With an impressive 50.1 megapixel. The Canon EOS 5DS R is with its twin the Canon EOS 5DS offer a class topping combination of accuracy, resolution, reliability and durability.

Looking to take landscape photos with great detail then the Canon EOS 5DS R is the right camera for you. Cost for such detail? With the Canon EOS 5DS R there is a higher risk of moiré but it is small trade off which doesn’t impact landscape photography as much.

The Canon EOS 5DS R is not just a work horse, it is black beauty in the fields. It is the best in its class.

Nikon D850

Nikons answer to the Canon 5DS R is the D850. This is an upgrade to the Nikon 810 and like its predecessor it does not disappoint.  Nikon has not only improved on the D810 it has revolutionized it with a new sensor technology. The D850 incorporates Nikon’s first ever back-illuminated BSI CMOS sensor which combined with its impressive 45.7 Mega Pixels, delivers superior image quality. The Nikon 850 is a versatile camera able to satisfy all your landscape photography needs. A worthy competitor of the Canon 5DS R.

Sony Alpha SLT-A99

This is Sony’s flagship DSLR model.  Inspired by the use of a fixed semi-translucent mirror instead of the moving non-translucent mirror of a DSLR the Sony Alpha SLT- A99 can shoot full-resolution 24.3-megapixel pictures at up to 6 frames per second whilst maintaining continuous auto focus and auto exposure. This is an impressively fast rate for a full-frame camera. One advantage that the Sony range still maintains over either Canon or Nikon is that the A99 features built-in sensor shift image stabilization, hence no need to spend extra on specialist lenses to help combat camera shake. Photographers looking for outstanding high ISO performance will love the Sony Alpha SLT- A99.

Nikon D3400

The Nikon D3400 is an entry level DSLR targeted toward photographers who are ready to move on from their smartphones and standard digital cameras to a more advanced shooting platform. The D3400 uses a top-of-the-line 24-megapixel DX sensor, which is capable of capturing very detailed and high-quality photos.  It is one of the least expensive cameras on the market. If you are looking to take greater quality landscape then the D3400 is the perfect stepping stone into the world of DSLR photography. It is considered the best in its price range.

Canon EOS 800D

The Canon EOS 800D has established itself as one of the best entry-level DSLRs. It’s packed with a range of features perfect for the new user. This Canon EOS 800D improves upon its many predecessors by adding a faster frame rate, better autofocus, and Canon’s newest generation aps-c sensor. The Canon EOS 800D like the Nikon D3400 has very impressive features and image quality, and considering its price it is great value for money.

To be a master of your craft honing your skills is of most importance. It is better to be the best than have the best. If you are starting out on landscape photography the entry level Nikon D3400 or the Canon EOS 80D are perfect to start with as you perfect your skills and work up to the higher spec DSLR such as the Nikon D850 and Canon EOS 5DS R


Guest Blog: Entertainment Photographer Mary Caroline Russell


I’ve always loved music. I grew up dancing on hardwood floors to my parents’ records. Socks slipping around, arms waving, head shaking. There is some kind of magic in it. Some spark that happens. It starts in your ears and moves its way through your bloodstream and finally makes a home somewhere in your chest. It is a beautiful, untamable thing, and I knew early on that I needed music in my life for the long run.

My name is Mary Caroline Russell, and I am an entertainment photographer based in Atlanta, Georgia. I’ve been shooting music for nearly ten years now, and although I know a lot more now than when I started, it still feels like I have just scratched the surface of everything there is to learn.

I got started where I was: Beaumont, Texas population 113,468, with what I had: a disposable camera. Exhibit A


Fast forward to today. Through a lot of local shows in dingy motel ballrooms, I upgraded from the disposable camera, and fell in love with photography. I hoped that if I went to work for a label, that maybe when I was forty they might let me take a few photos on the side as a perk. THAT was my grand dream hah! Through a few crossed wires, life circumstances, and disappointments, my plan to move to Nashville turned into more time in Beaumont, a short stint in Portland, and finally landing in Atlanta. A few weeks before I moved to Atlanta, I met my friend Michael who found out I wanted to shoot shows and offered to help.

When I got to Atlanta I sent him a list of shows in hopes any-one of them would work out. He ended up getting me into every show on that list! The first show I shot in Atlanta was Paramore at the Tabernacle.


I borrowed a camera and probably shot 3,000 photos within the first three songs. I was so excited. I stayed up all night & skipped my first class to edit the images. It was such a thrill. After posting the photos, people assumed I was a professional and started hiring me. It seemed rude to correct them.

What followed for the next 10 years was a whirlwind. I have been able to circle the globe taking photos, shoot some of my favorite bands, be in Alabama shooting Lynard Skynard while they sang “Sweet Home Alabama” (that was a fun one), and be surrounded by some of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met. Here are a few of my favorite moments & stories from along the way:

Nikki Lane

Nikki Lane played an opening slot at Shaky Knees in Atlanta a few years ago, and I had set up to take a few portraits backstage when she finished up her set. Right before I snapped this photo she took a  swig of her beer and said “Oh hey Danny!” I looked to my left and Danny Clinch was taking the same portraits. I snapped a few more and glanced back over, Danny was still there. To say I was excited would be an understatement. Danny Clinch is one of my all time favorite photographers. For him to casually appear next to me was not something I was prepared for, but it did make for one of my favorite memories.

Gary Clark Jr.

It was my second night out with The Muddy Magnolias on tour supporting Gary Clark Jr. I was still getting to know everyone, and I never want to be intrusive. I was standing behind a curtain peeking through watching the set. The band had walked off stage and Gary was playing solo for a few songs. I could just see a sliver, but I was soaking up every note. Gary’s bass player came around the corner and said, “What are you doing back here?” then grabbed me by the hand and pulled me through the curtain right about the time Gary was walking side stage, I pulled my camera up to my face and snapped one shot.

Alan Jackson

I grew up on Alan Jackson’s music. I shot his Nashville show on his 25th anniversary tour. This is him walking on stage to start the show, next to him is my friend Nathan with about 1000 papers clipped to his lanyard because he is very important. One of my favorite memories of this show was; as I was shooting, I noticed someone walk up side stage wearing a massive cowboy hat. I looked over and it was Brad Paisley. He was sitting on a road case with his arms resting on the stage singing every word to Alan’s songs.

Taya Smith of Hillsong United

This was the first day of the Outcry Tour. I walked past the doorway and noticed how perfectly everything was composed. I hadn’t met Taya (pictured above) yet, but I also didn’t want to introduce myself and ruin what was happening so effortlessly. I walked down the hall and back, second guessed if the awkwardness was too much to bear. I decided the photo was too good to pass up so I walked by, kneeled down (you know, to add to the awkwardness), snapped the photo and said, “Sorry to snipe you, you just looked so cool.” It felt 100% uncomfortable for the next 5 seconds, but absolutely worth it for the shot.

The Muddy Magnolias

The Muddy Magnolias tour had been going on for a while. We were traveling in a van & trying to keep up with bus routing which means late nights and early mornings and a lot of motels. A lot of motels. We were somewhere in Iowa and pulled up to the Days Inn. It was a particularly bad set up. So we came up with a plan: fake an asthma attack, get a refund, pool our per diem, & book the nicest room in town. And it worked. This was just before heading to the show. We slept well.

I think what I have learned over the last few years is persistence, hustle, and gratitude can carry you a long way. Comparison robs you of your own voice, joy, & community. The grind is way more fun when you can celebrate others along the way, so don’t get caught up in somebody else’s “greener” grass. Find your voice, develop it, get comfortable with it. Enjoy the process. Lastly, voice you’re dreams because you never know who will be around and willing to help.

Thank you for this opportunity Brad & the Kelby team, truly honored.

For the gear heads this is what I shoot with most of the time :

Canon 5D MK IV, 35mm f/1.4L II , 16-35mm f/2.8L , Sigma 15mm

You can see more of MC’s work at, and keep up with her on Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter.

The post Guest Blog: Entertainment Photographer Mary Caroline Russell appeared first on Scott Kelby’s Photoshop Insider.

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Singapore turns 53: how are brands marking the occasion?

Marketing/ Advertising/ PR

Singapore turns a year older this week, celebrating her 53rd birthday. There will be the usual National Day Parade, which is held annually, where the country shows off her military might and spectacular fireworks.

It has been an eventful year for Singapore, with the historic Trump-Kim summit taking place in the little red dot. We take a look at the unique ways brands are celebrating ‘brand Singapore.’

Texas Chicken Singapore

The Atlanta-based fast food company enlisted the help of Makcik Halijah and Auntie Bee Li to engage in a rap battle to find out who made the best sambal chilli.

The Workers’ Party

One of Singapore’s most successful opposition parties, The Workers’ Party went for a ‘quieter’ approach, releasing a two minute video on the soundscape of Singapore.


The ride-sharing company brought back its widely popular #GrabDurian for the fourth year to tap into Singaporeans’ love for durians.

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It also encouraged commuters to share a story about a great experience with a Grab driver, merchant or delivery partner (Grab Hero) to stand a chance of winning a pair of NDP tickets.


The Dutch consumer electronics company launched its PerfectCare Expert Plus pressurised steam generator iron featuring its patented OptimalTEMP technology that guarantees ‘no burns on all ironable fabrics’ to celebrate National Day.

Why? It says the iron is the ‘world’s first zero-burn innovation borne out of Singapore makes ironing pains a relief with unparalleled speed, comfort and protection.’

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The telco is honouring the can-do and never-give-up Singapore spirit and hopes to rally all to help them achieve what they have set out to do by shining the spotlight on five inspiring five #TogetherWeCan Singaporeans stories. 

It is encouraging its customers to redeem 53 StarHub Rewards Points and StarHub will contribute $5 to the desired cause.

The five personalities come from diverse backgrounds. They are Lim Seng, who hopes to become the first Singaporean in space, professional tennis player Sarah Pang, who hopes to one day play in the WTA, Sazzad Hossain, founder of SDI Academy, who provides basic English education to help migrant workers adapt to Singapore and reduce workplace accidents, Peter Draw, artist and creator of the Ai Movement who uses his art to spread happiness and inspire children to follow their dreams and Joel Seah, a social worker at Care Corner’s CROSSROAD Youth Centre, who guides the youth and teaches them skills that they need to excel in life.


The food delivery company unveiled the nation’s ‘ultimate tummy report’ and what makes Singaporeans’ tummies growl. 

The report pitted neighbourhoods against each other and found out that Singaporeans do not just love fried chicken, they are also obsessed with the comfort food.


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CNN’s Sunita Rajan on reinvention and adopting a consultative approach

Marketing/ Advertising/ PR

CNN hosted its first CNN Experience in Singapore in June, for its commercial team to bring its business to life and talk more than just news to marketers.

At the event it showcased its content solutions, like video storytelling platform Great Big Story (GBS), its branded content studio Create and its Tourism Advertising Solutions and Knowledge (TASK) group. Hosted at the Andaz hotel, the media owner also brought along star power, like the host of its ‘Quest Means Business’ show Richard Quest, to wow existing and potential clients.

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Speaking to The Drum after the event, Sunita Rajan, senior vice president of Asia Pacific advertising sales at CNN International Commercial (CNNIC), says the Turner-owned brand is keen to hold more events because, ultimately, its job is not only to tell the story, to get it right and to balance the story with analysis and facts. She adds that it also needs to be able to deliver content and the broader kind of agenda of news to its customers and consumers who have their own passions and interests, which go beyond just the headlines of the day.

She also points out that as this means it could be in sport, travel, business, health, style and design, it means CNN can continuously articulate to that and get people to understand what it does beyond news, but with the news as the core because that is the gateway to how people experience the CNN brand.

“The second reason, obviously, is to be able to acknowledge, and thank, and make sure that our partners in the room, and that’s partners across all of our commercial businesses, whether it’s advertising, sales, or affiliate, or distribution, or hotel sales, all know and feel reassured of the business that they place with CNN, which is a lot, and we don’t take that for granted for a moment,” adds Rajan.

In addition, she stress that is very important for CNN to make sure that its customers and clients’ base are constantly kept updated on what the company is doing, because the market is always changing, which means that technology and consumer habits are moving at such a fast pace, forcing the company to constantly iterate and evolve.

That means CNN has to create new tools, new products and new ways telling its story, as well as new ways in which it works with brands, Rajan explains, pointing out there is not enough time to be able to knock on individual doors. 

“I think is really important is to demonstrate to the industry why being the number one brand in the news’ business and a worldwide leader is a sense of responsibility that forces us to lead the way in the market. And to make sure that by doing that, we adhere to what is our DNA and core, which is storytelling with facts first, but also to test and learn, place some bets and do things differently because if we don’t, then who will?” she says.

Constant innovation and reinvention

While reinforcing its leading position in the market is important, it is not about CNN being a maverick or going rogue, notes Rajan, but being able to innovate and creatively reinvent itself because that is what brands are looking for from a commercial point of view and what CNN’s audiences want and expect.

Products like GBS are a good example of Rajan’s point. “We placed an investment and a bet really in launching a product for the first time in 35 years, which was targeted at the millennials, and it has continued to attract a very high proportion of millennials, but they’re not the only audience that we have. But to do it well and do it in a style which delivers a product that audiences see has got a differentiated place in their consumption,” she explains.

“We are not Vice or BuzzFeed, but we clearly are very high-end cinematic storytelling with 4K video, a website and a product that is, again, has in less than three years, has gained 10 million fans and two billion video views, which is pretty baffling.”

That applies to Create as well, which Rajan says is more than just producing branded content that is shot with in 4K, with CGI, drones or 360 video, because that can be bought. Brands can also work with their own creative agency or hire a boutique creative agency to do that.

What Create brings to the table then, is the audiences and the targeting capabilities of CNN, explains Rajan. “The data targeting capability is key and the insights that we bring to the conversation where we’re able to sit down with brands, we take the social handles, we do some research using Launchpad to consult, advice and speak to brands and tell them about how content on social should look, at a presale stage.”

“We are able to tell brands what CNN consumers and audiences think about their brand and their stories, and how they should be thinking about the stories they want to tell, before we even enter into a discussion about what the concept should be, or what approach we should take. That’s pretty powerful, that’s propriety. So, we’re not just producing great content through gut feeling, and with, it’s power of mediator, that’s important,” she adds.

Putting on the consultant’s hat

A few weeks after The Drum’s conversation with Rajan, CNN announced that it was turning CNN Reach, which sat within Create to act, conduct and deliver audiences and audience acquisitions, into a consultancy unit.

Aside from offering first, second and third-party audience targeting, the media owner said Reach will also plan and create campaign content; advise on, and execute distribution and media buying, both on and off CNN’s own platforms and across the company’s products.

Rajan and her team will work with the new Reach team led by Leo Urushibata, CNNIC’s director of content optimization, which currently has four staff with content strategy, planning, paid media buyers and digital marketers, and audience development skills from Singapore.

While Rajan did not reveal this information during her chat with The Drum, she had hinted that CNN was moving towards that direction, as the media owner is realising that its clients and brands have gone beyond just buying regular advertising slots, as conversations now begins with an audience strategy, a data strategy, content strategy and finally the media strategy.

“We have got success, and we are still on that journey, the job is not complete. But for us, success is how we have been able to evolve and hold on to our premier clients and our key partnerships, but also attract a lot of new clients who are on that journey whether that’s, they are first time advertisers on TV, or whether they’re shifting a large percentage of their business to digital and they still want to advertise on TV,” she explains.

Rajan adds that more importantly, it is not just about where the spend is, it is about how brands perceived their partners today. “They are looking for storytellers, and they are looking for authentic trusted storytellers who can help tell their story. But they are also looking for that contextual environment where they feel that they can trust the environment and they can trust the authenticity of the environment for their own created messages.”

“That’s where the conversation begins, and that’s how we then build out our data strategy, which is, we’re in the unique position as a global player to be able to deliver audiences at scale. We also got the number one position on social of any news’ brand.”

With consumers now having various multiple sources of getting their news with the plethora of outlets these days, including platforms like Facebook and Google, as Rajan notes, it is important for traditional media owners like CNN to come up with a strategy that not only allows them to survive, but also the ability monetise its audiences who are coming to them on all its digital platforms.

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The Nashville Number System: What Is It?


Guest post by Soundfly Mentor Andre Madatian. This article originally appeared on Soundfly’s Flypaper

If you ask almost any Broadway Street musician in downtown Nashville, they will tell you that the Nashville number system has gotten them through at least a song or two, if not an entire set, on a honky tonk stage at some point in their career. Some don’t even leave the house without their iPad filled with hundreds, if not thousands, of Nashville-style notated charts before heading to work or a weekend run of shows out of town. But there is something quite definitive and unique about the way Nashville creates their charts — almost like a universal language amongst all of the musicians in the local community.

But how are these charts read and understood? And why, if I’m not in Nashville, should I care?

From an outsider’s perspective, the notation can look like hieroglyphics at times, and has even been known to confuse scholarly musicians on first glance! The truth is that this form of notation is useful beyond the city limits of Nashville, in any situation where you might need a last minute player to sub in, or if you want to get hired on more session jobs. If you’re familiar with chord numbers, you’ll immediately recognize that aspect, but what are all these other symbols and how do they change the timbre or flow of what I’m playing in relation to the band, in real time? We’ll cover all of that.

Understanding the System

Let’s take a look at a typical “Nashville-style” chart below.

The first thing that we notice is the title of the song, which in this case is, “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” by Jake Owen. Generally, to the right of the song title you will see the name of the person who is responsible for creating the chart; in this instance, it’s “C. Marshall.” Let’s listen to the song, and see if you can follow along with the chart innately.

Now that we are a bit more familiar with the song, let’s start to analyze the technical and musical aspects of the chart. To the left of the song title, you will usually see the key and the time signature. Referring to the above example, this particular song is in E major and is in 4/4 time.

Navigating Tonality

Here’s where it gets a little complicated. What makes the Nashville system unique from other conventional notation charts is that the chord symbols always reflect the major key. For example, since we know that “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” is in the key of E major, we see a “1” on the chart which indicates that the musician should play an E major chord.

But let’s say, hypothetically, that “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” was in the key of E minor. The chart would then be notated in its relative major key. For example, the top left of the Nashville chart would be written as G major/E minor and the first chord would be notated as a “6-” as opposed to a “1-.” The reason for this is to keep the chart simple and to avoid having to use accidentals all throughout the chart.

Sight-Reading the Song

Moving forward, we notice that the chart is broken down by song sections. The first section is labeled “Intro” and it’s noted that it should be played on an acoustic instrument (likely guitar, but not specified). Other sections include the Verse, the Turn (“band in” indicates where the rhythm section should start playing), a second Verse, a Chorus, a third Verse, a second Chorus, and finally an Outro.

Let’s start by analyzing the chord symbols of the Intro. We see the numbers “1 5 4 5” pretty much throughout the entire song, so this will be a simple tune to read. The numbers reflect the diatonic chord symbols of the indicated key. So for this song, “1 5 4 5” in the key of E major will be E major, B major, A major, and B major.

Now that we know which chords to play, it’s important to understand the rhythmic values of each chord. This is where the uniquenesses of the Nashville number system begin to come out. You’ll notice that there are lines appearing underneath the “1 5” and “4 5” throughout the entire chart. This line indicates where the measures start and end. So usually, if there are only two chords above each line, it means the chords are played as half notes unless otherwise suggested. You may also see dashes or extra lines accompanying the underline, to denote other rhythmic subdivisions, such as the first chord being held for three beats and the second chord for one beat, for example.

With no rhythmic indicators, you’d play the “1” chord for two beats and the “5” chord for two beats, completing one full measure, and the same goes for the “4 5” progression. If you see a chord with no line underneath, that’s an indication that the chord should have a whole note value, or four beats in a 4/4 time signature. In this case, you’ll notice that there is a “>” symbol on most of the “5” chords throughout the whole chart. This sign indicates a “push” or slight syncopation on the chord. So instead of playing the “5” chord on the start of beat three, we will play this chord on the “and” of beat two.

Rhythmic indications are often left vague in the Nashville number system, so many people who write these charts make a point to notate a specific rhythmic pattern for reference. In the above chart, there’s a dotted quarter note for the “4” chord and an eighth note for the “5” chord followed by a half rest under the first Verse.

Aside from a couple rhythmic changes in the last Chorus, this song is quite repetitive in terms of harmonic and rhythmic structure. Something to take note of is the “(acoustic)” indication in the fifth measure of the last Chorus. While performing this song, I would know to cue the rhythm section to stop playing at that measure. However, this chart fails to notate whether or not the rhythm section comes back in. Since I’m already familiar with this song, I know that the band comes back in on measure nine of that section, but that should have been indicated in this chart. The more information provided the better!

Lastly, we see that the Outro is repeated. The creator of the chart used both a double dotted bar line and a written note to prepare the performer, since musicians may not always be unified in their ability to to sight read.

Although there are a few variations of the Nashville number system, the above example is a current depiction of what you may see when asked to sub for a gig in downtown Nashville. Some charts are more detailed than others but having a simple chart can be a great source of reference, especially in an environment like Broadway Street, where musicians are served up requests constantly throughout the gig. It’s important to understand these charts, not only for playing the Nashville circuit, but also if you want to create handy reference guides for session players, or to make it easy for anyone to play your music accurately.

If you’re still a bit confused and want to go through how this system works with me, get in touch here and I can help you out personally — that’s what Soundfly’s Headliners Club is all about! If you’re interested in working with me on your next music project, fill out this form to tell us about your goals and be sure to mention my name in your response!

Otherwise, get out there and start chartin’!

Advance your skills and open up more opportunities in music. Explore Soundfly’s growing array of Mainstage courses that feature personal support and 1-on-1 mentorship from experienced professionals in the field, such as Orchestration for StringsUnlocking the Emotional Power of Chordsand The New Songwriter’s Workshop.

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How to use Colored Gels to Create Unique and Creative Portraits


We’ve all seen the usual studio set up –  beautifully crisp white light, maybe some strobes, diffusers, and other things of the sort. However, what can you do beyond that to make your portraits stand out? Add some color! In this article, learn how to use colored gels to add some spice to your images.

musician portrait with pink background - How to use Colored Gels to Create Unique and Creative Lighting

Colored gels are filters that go on your light in order to change the output color. They are usually sold at photography stores and clamped onto your lights. They range in size, thickness, color cast, and most importantly, price. Be very mindful of how hot your lights are because we’ve had gels melt on the set before during long sessions (such as music videos). 

However, you can also make your own colored gels using cellophane and tape. Just take some really saturated cellophane from a local party or art store and wrap them around your softbox or LED light (so long as the LED runs cold and won’t melt the plastic paper) and fasten with tape.

This may not look like the most professional setup, but I suppose that matters little so long as the final outcome is fantastic!

spooky photo with double exposures - How to use Colored Gels to Create Unique and Creative Lighting

There are limitless possibilities with gels. In regard to color combinations, I suggest making sure all of your gels are saturated the same in order to match with one another (and not become a headache in the editing room later).

Here are some of my favorite gel lighting arrangements to create some new and unique imagery. As a personal preference, I use continuous light, but the same can be achieved with studio strobes or speedlights.

One Color Gel Setup

The simplest and most traditional gel lighting look. There isn’t any fancy setup for this look, you can photograph your model in any fashion and just replace the white light with a color. Make sure your colored gel is really vibrant or the image may fall flat. 

portrait of a girl with amber gel - How to use Colored Gels to Create Unique and Creative Lighting

Play with distance, shutter speed, and some light post-processing to see how far you can get the light to spread. That can add a unique and unexpected twist to your one-light setup!

A good use of the one color set up is backlighting! Take your light and place it behind the subject.

backlighting with gels - How to use Colored Gels to Create Unique and Creative Lighting

Double Colored Gel Setup

My personal favorite is the double colored gel setup. All this requires is two lights, each gelled with different colors. Set them to the side of your model and watch the magic happen!

The division can be very eye-catching and intriguing.

model with red and green lights - How to use Colored Gels to Create Unique and Creative Lighting

lighting diagram - How to use Colored Gels to Create Unique and Creative Lighting

Be mindful of your model’s physical structure. You want to make sure that the color division hits the proper place. Aim for the lighting to (generally) divide right at the center of the nose (split lighting).

Tri-Color Gel Setup

How to use Colored Gels to Create Unique and Creative Lighting

You can go as intense with colors as you like, but when I do three color looks, I like one of those colors to be white. The white softens the whole look and doesn’t make it overly exaggerated.

However, if you prefer a color, I suggest placing a lighter color in the center of your arrangement and the darker colors on the sides.

portrait with 3 colors of light - How to use Colored Gels to Create Unique and Creative Lighting

For three color looks, my favorite arrangement is the traditional triangle light setup. This includes one light in front of the subject and two lights at the sides.

Depending on the look you want to achieve, you can set up the two side lights behind the model and just turn them towards the model. That keeps the light from being too harsh. For a more intense look, place the lights directly at the model’s sides.

lighting diagram - How to use Colored Gels to Create Unique and Creative Lighting

Rim Light Colored Gel Setup

girl with rim lighting - How to use Colored Gels to Create Unique and Creative Lighting

Always a very dramatic and edgy look, using gels for rim lights can bring a bit of flair to your portraits. It does depend on your model’s structure as to where you place the lights. What I do is set up a white light in front of the model and two colored gels on lights to the side pointed forward.

The best colors I’ve found for the rim light look are purples, blues, reds, and greens – oranges tend to get a bit lost with the white light.

How to use Colored Gels to Create Unique and Creative Lighting

Background Light Gel Setup

How to use Colored Gels to Create Unique and Creative Lighting

The quickest way to liven up any location is to aim some lights with colored gels attached toward the background wall.

You can photograph your subject in any traditional studio light manner, and just shoot two gelled lights to the back wall. This allows your subject to be really well separated from the background (something we always strive for in studio photography).

How to use Colored Gels to Create Unique and Creative Lighting

Now go out there and play with colors!

The post How to use Colored Gels to Create Unique and Creative Portraits appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018.5


For many students, as they start learning photography they want to know how to take photos at night. It is a mystery to them and they often think it is so complicated that they will never be able to do it. That is until they try it and discover just how easy it is. The next step is editing those images and ON1 Photo RAW 2018.5 has a lot of tools and adjustments that are perfect for processing night photography.

HDR architecture image - Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018

An image created using the HDR option in On1 Photo RAW 2018.

Night photography options

First, we should take a look at the different types of night photography that you can do. There is the easiest option of setting your camera up on a tripod and photographing lights somewhere.

The city at night is very popular if you live in an urban area. Perhaps capturing town lights can also be good. You just need something that is making light. HDR has had a lot of bad press, but it really is good for some images, and night shots of cities are perfect for it. ON1 Photo RAW’s HDR processing is one of the best I’ve seen.

When the sun has gone down and there is a lot of traffic you can photograph light trails. Taking longer exposures with your camera on a tripod will make all those lights look like streaks. If you want to make it look like there were a lot, then you can stack the images together, so all the streaks will show in one final image.

One type of night shot that is hugely popular right now, especially in Australia, is astrophotography. Photographing the Milky Way. It is the season for it here and with the low population, you are spoilt for choice where to do them. If you have ever tried doing any astrophotography then you will also be aware that your images have to be processed or they can look at washed out. ON1 Photo RAW 2018.5 has you covered there as well.

Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018 - astrophotography milky way image

An astrophotography image processed with ON1 Photo RAW 2018.5

Photographing the City

Night time in the city can be so magical and to be taking photos of it even more so. Processing your images taken at night is much the same as processing any of your images.

Open your image in ON1 Photo RAW and take it into the Develop module. Make the adjustments as you would for other images. Move the sliders around to see what you can get. Take them too far and then bring them back.

sliders in ON1 Photo RAW - Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018

When learning it is good to take the sliders too far, see what happens.

If you want to make adjustments to particular areas, then look at local adjustments which is the best place to do that.

However, what if you want to do something to your image to really make it pop?

HDR photography, or High Dynamic Range, can be perfect for this. It is a process that has copped a lot of criticism over the years. People say it is too much, that the images can be ugly. But that really only happens when you don’t use it for the right images, or overdo it.

There are some scenes and images that are perfect for HDR and night photography is one of those times.

HDR Night Photography

When you are to decide which images would work best for HDR, look for ones that have a lot of dark areas, and a lot of bright parts as well. Usually, your camera will struggle with getting an even image of a high contrast scene. It will either make the image too bright or too dark. Night images have those problems. Once you get the lights exposed right, all the shadows become too dark or black.

The best way to do HDR is to take a series of images or bracketed shots. If your camera will allow you to bracket then it will sort out the exposures you need. The most common number of shots is 3 or 5. For this article, five images were taken.

Next, select all of your bracketed images inside the ON1 Photo RAW browse module. You can do that by clicking the first then pressing the shift key followed by clicking on the last image. If you have put the images into a subfolder you can then just use Ctrl/Cmd+A.

Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018 - bracketed set of images

Work out which images you want to use.

Once they are selected you should be able to see the HDR button over on the right-hand side of your screen, underneath all the different modes.

select images and HDR button - Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018

Select all your images.

ON1 Photo RAW will then merge all your images together. The first time you do it, a window will pop up asking you what look you would like. The options include Natural, Natural Auto, Surreal and Surreal Auto. You can make the changes once the image has been merged to HDR. There are lots of choices with ON1.

Let’s take a look around the HDR working window

Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018 - HDR looks

Selecting your HDR look in ON1 Photo RAW.

There are several places where you can set the amount of de-ghosting (remove spots where something moved between brackets) you want the program to do. You can change the HDR look you wanted if you think you made a mistake. You can select which image you think should be the main one.

Go through and change the image to suit the look you are after. I know I say this a lot, but the best way to learn is to play around with the settings.

HDR options - Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018

All the different things you can do to your image.

Like most images, you need to experiment to see what you like. Remember that ON1 is non-destructive so you won’t ruin anything. Try everything, it is the best way to learn. Take it all too far and then bring it back.

Lastly, choose where you want your image to go when you are done. You can have it open in Develop, Effects or go back to Browse. The last choice is Cancel. If you want to save it then click Save.

Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018

Taking the image further.

Once the image is opened in the Develop module, you can then make more adjustments to as you would normally.

Develop module - Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018

Where to go next.

ON1 Photo RAW is one of the best programs for doing HDR. You can make so many changes to it as it is happening and after it is done. Nothing is final.

final HDR - Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018

The final HDR image.


For anyone who has ever done astrophotography, you know that the images always need to be processed.

Here is an image that was taken a couple of years ago. This is the raw file and you can see that it needs a lot of work.

night image Milky Way and lighthouse - Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018

Raw image from astrophotography shoot.

Open the image up in ON1 Photo RAW and go to the Develop module. Everything you need to make the best astrophotography images is all right there.

develop - Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018

Open in the Develop module.

Noise reduction

The first thing you want to do is to work on the noise in the image. All astrophotography images have a great deal of noise. You have to increase your ISO quite high in order to get the Milky Way in your image. Usually, it is going to be somewhere between ISO 3200 up to 6400.

The image for this article was taken at f/2.8, for 30 seconds at ISO 6400. It was taken at 14mm using a 14-24mm lens.

In the Develop module go to Details. This is where you can help reduce the noise in your image. Click on the image to zoom in so you can see the noise better.

noise and details section of develop - Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018

The first thing to do is to fix the noise in the image.

Under Noise Reduction, you will see a Luminance slider. Move that along until the noise almost disappears. Be careful not to go too far or you might lose all the stars (noise is just white specs so the stars can easily be misinterpreted as noise if you go too far).

This slider smooths out the image and you can lose a lot of detail if you go too far. Bring up the Detail slider to help maintain it. It is about experimenting and seeing what you like as well.

You can also bring up the Sharpening amount as well but be careful. Over sharpened images can look terrible. Go easy with this slider.

noise adjustments - Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018

You can see how much was changed.

Tone & Color

It is time to go back to Tone & Color and make more adjustments.

tone and color - Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018

Take the image back to Tone & Color to make basic changes.

The main things you want to add back into your image are the blacks and lots of contrast. The added contrast will help the stars stand out more from the dark sky. The blacks will allow the darker parts of the sky to appear as you saw them when you shot the image.

The highlights can be brought down to stop the lighthouse from blowing out too much. If you take the shadows down it helps make the darker parts of the sky richer as well. However, be aware that it can also make other parts of the image go black, like the foliage at the bottom of this image.

The whites were brought up a fraction, as this helped to lighten up the Milky Way and make it jump out more.

slider adjustments - Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018

Some of the changes that were made in Tone and Color.

Color Adjustments

Most of the changes are made to the image now, but if you look closely there is quite a bit of blue in it. It shouldn’t be there and to remove it you need to go to Show More and then Color Adjustments.

color cast - Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018

Taking out the blue cast color in the stars.

A new window for this will open up down below the other adjustment windows.

As it is the blue you want to change, click on that color square. Once it is selected you can move the saturation slider until the blue in the image disappears or is to your liking.

reducing blue saturation - Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018

Changing the saturation of the blue.

You can try adding presets to your image as well, though most people with astrophotography just do the basics and leave it there.

You will need to play around with your photos to see what you can do and what is to your tastes. These are just suggestions as to what other photographers do. Experiment, take the sliders too far and then bring them back.

This is the final image.

final image of lighthouse - Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018

The final image of the Milky Way over the top of the lighthouse.

Light Trails

In cities, or anywhere there is a lot of traffic, you will see photographers trying to capture the trails of the lights as the cars go past. For most places, the best time to capture this is during peak hour when a lot of vehicles are moving. However, it also needs to be dark.

Unfortunately, there are times of the year where it is impossible to get both at the same time. For instance, in Australia during the summer daylight saving means it doesn’t get dark until after 8 pm. Getting good light trails is reduced because there isn’t enough traffic at that hour.

However, there is a way to make it look like there was more traffic, that is to stack your images. You can also do this for star trails too.

Stacking light trails

Work out which image will be the first one. Take it the Develop module in ON1 Photo RAW and do what you want to process it normally first.

But do not straighten it or do any lens correction on the image. If you do then the other images won’t align up properly, you can do all that after.

original image for light trails - Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018

The first image used for the light trails.

Once you have your image ready, go to the Layers module.

layers - Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018

Take the image to the Layers mode.

Next, add all the other photos that will make up the final image. The best way to do this is to put all the images into a subfolder. Select the images you want to use, then right-click and go to Add Subfolder.

add subfolder - Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018

Putting your images into a subfolder.

A window will pop up once you click Add Subfolder. You can name it as you want, or ON1 will name the folder the same as the filename for the first image. Make sure the box is ticked for Move Selected Items into Subfolder.

add subfolder - Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018

Creating the subfolder.

Now you are ready to add all those images as layers to the original photo.

Get your image to the Layers module which is where you will add the images for your light trails. Go up to File in the main menu at the top. Select Add Layer(s) from File.

add images from file - Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018

Now it is time to add the layers.

A window will pop up where you can go to the subfolder that you put the images into. Select all the images, Ctrl/Cmd+A, then press Open.

select images - Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018

Selecting all the images you want to use.

ON1 Photo RAW will ask you if you want to open them all, say yes. Depending on how many images you are trying to do it can take some time for this to happen. The images used for this demonstration are quite large and took a few minutes.

images added as layers - Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018

All the images are added.

Next, you need to blend each layer. You want the lights to shine through from each but not everything else. For each layer, go up to the blending pull-down and select Lighten.

blending options - Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018

Blending all the layers with Lighten.

You can now save the image and then you can do more processing if you wish. If the image needs straightening, lens corrections, etc., you can do it in the Develop module.

light trails image - Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018

The final image.

Star Trails

If you enjoy doing star trails then you will be able to use this same method for processing and stacking those images using ON1 Photo RAW. Just add them all as layers and use the Blending option Lighten.


There are many things you can do with your night photos in ON1 Photo RAW 2018.5. With things developing constantly you will be able to do more and more with time. The HDR feature is one of the best I’ve seen and I’m sure most of you will enjoy that.

With all software, experimenting is the key. Take what you learn and see what else you can do with it.

Disclaimer: ON1 is a dPS paid partner.

The post Tips for Processing Night Photography with ON1 Photo RAW 2018.5 appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Ad fraud & brand safety remain the biggest programmatic issues say DTA USA judges

Marketing/ Advertising/ PR

Transparency has been one of the biggest buzz words in the programmatic industry for a few years now and it’s not going away anytime soon. Over 10 years in and programmatic is continuing to change the face of marketing and as always, there are bumps in the road.

The Drum Digital Trading Awards USA 2018 has introduced a new category, the ‘Improvement in Media Effectiveness Award’. This category will seek submissions from teams tasked with achieving improvement in the performance of their clients’ media spend specifically in the areas of transparency. 

The Drum spoke to four industry experts from Business Insider. Trust Metrics, SalientMG and Beller Tech, who are also judges for The Drum Digital Trading Awards USA 2018, on what areas of transparency are either lost or problematic in the industry right now.

Jana Meron, senior vice president, programmatic and data strategy, Business Insider

The biggest problem with regards to transparency is the lack of standardization across platforms. While DSP and SSP technologies continue to optimize programmatic media buying, they’ve also made true costs harder to pinpoint.

Right now, if you were to compare SSP and DSP reports, you’d find varying results, not just from a revenue perspective, but also from a brand perspective. SSPs and DSPs categorize companies and their brands differently, making it difficult to align advertisers’ brands. Inconsistencies also make it challenging to match up dollars from one platform to another.

The media buying process has become more and more complex as platform intermediaries are introduced, blurring the spend flow from start to finish and making ROI more difficult to calculate.

Marc Goldberg, chief executive officer, Trust Metrics

Most advertisers consider a quality site in “brand safety” as just the absence of hate, porn, and other evils. Quality is the presence of good publishing features. Brands need to revisit the 101 of advertising and align with quality (which can be subjective), then optimize any KPIs that don’t improve on their own. This happens a lot with viewability, where brands run toward high clutter and slide show sites designed to achieve viewability, while walking away from publications that put users first. Brands assume their numbers provide transparency, but a spreadsheet can’t disclose the poor environment these viewable ads are served in. Viewability is a measurement, not a target. Quality is the target; measure viewability second.

Mack McKelvey, founder, SalientMG

Ad fraud and brand safety are extremely important issues affecting every advertising and marketing professional today. However, transparency in mobile location data should be getting more attention. All sorts of brands rely on consumer foot traffic information to measure mobile ad performance, understand ebbs and flows in customer behavior and learn more about demographics of people visiting business locations. But not many marketing professionals realize, for instance, that their decisions to run mobile ads in-app or on the mobile web can have a huge impact on how precisely the ads are measured.  There’s a lot of complexity that should be made more transparent to marketers.

Rob Beeler, founder, Beeler Tech

Some of the solutions that bring transparency also add to the lack of it. During a research project for the 614 Group we found that agencies and publishers assumed that if they used the same vendor, both parties would see the same numbers. That’s often not true. Solutions that serve both buyers and sellers often report different numbers to each side because of how and why they count events like viewable impressions. This causes confusion, discrepancies and a lack of transparency from solutions whose purpose is to bring transparency to the market.

Meron, Goldberg, McKelvey and Beeler are all judges for The Drum Digital Trading Awards USA. The entry deadline is Thursday 30 August, download your entry pack now and show the industry the outstanding work you have been producing.

Headline sponsor of these awards are MiQ

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