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Story Behind The Shot

Published by Diana Tula · August 25th 2013

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but it is important to learn more about what we are looking at. Today’s story is by Andrea Di Liddo, a photographer from Rome, Italy. Sharing a touching tale of his friend, who is stronger than a thousand men.


Never Give Up

My name is Andrea and a few month ago I had a photo session with two friends of mine. One of them is a martial arts master and the other one is Maria Giulia Cotini. Maria has a disability which makes her unable to control her muscles and have uncontrolled spasms, yet she is stronger than a thousand men. The second person in the shot is Andrea De Dominicis and he is Maria’s best friend. He carried her to many places and they have been on many journeys together. I believe they met at Rome university "La Sapienza" while studying oriental languages.

Maria can't stand nor walk, she can't operate her wheelchair and all the things you can imagine. She has a beautiful mind, a college degree (where she studied hard) and she volunteers as an archivist at the local library. She also wrote a novel, which is yet unpublished. Currently collaborating with a famous italian writer (she won't reveal the name), working on research together. You can tell how extraordinary she is. Once she traveled, being carried on the Andrea’s shoulder, all the way up the mountains between India and Tibet. They went to a buddhist monastery there, and many other places. Maria is mostly deaf and can barely see only with one eye.

She started practicing martial arts since she was a baby girl, as a war against her disability and as a challenge against everything. Mainly she does karate, wing chun and general oriental martial arts. As you can imagine she has a long history of "masters" who have told her to quit, but she never did. Maria is now 33 and she keeps going, never giving up.


Thanks to Andrea and Maria for sharing their story with us! If you’d like to reach out to Maria leave a comment below or contact the photographer Andrea Di Liddo, who can pass on your words. To see Andrea’s work, get in touch and follow his future uploads visit his 500px page.

We love reading your stories and sharing them with the world. Send in your experiences and narratives behind your photos to

4 Lessons Learned

Published by Diana Tula · August 23rd 2013

We love guest blog posts! Today’s awesome article on 4 photography lessons is by Jason Groepper. Jason is a great photographer from Maple Valley, USA and we are huge fans of his tilt-shift work. Do you want to write a guest post for our blog? Get in touch!



Thank you to Diana Tula and the 500px community for this amazing opportunity to share with you all. I am daily humbled and inspired by this amazing and talented community of photographers and creatives. I wanted to share with you all 4 lessons that have been important and transformative to me up to this point in my photographic journey.

#1 Forget About Natural Talent

We live in a society with a misconception that either you are born with artistic talent or you are not, and if you are not then you have no hope of being an artist. All of us are born with inherent strengths and challenges, and we most likely naturally tend towards our strengths. However, anyone can pursue any endeavour it just takes time and extra effort on your part.

I remember I was very offended a couple of years ago. When I was just starting out in photography my wife gave me “John Shaw’s Nature Photography Field Guide” as a gift. I thought I had a ‘good eye’ already and I wondered - Can’t she see my natural ability? Can’t she recognize my talent? Years down the road I’m glad that I swallowed my pride back then and actually opened the book. Shortly after I have purchased and read many books on photography, written by great instructors and photographers such as Scott Kelby, David DuChemin, Steve Simon, Chris Orwig and many others.

If I have improved at all during my photographic journey I owe it all to reading dozens of books on photography, shooting (constantly) tens of thousands of photos, and looking at millions of great photographs.

Getting better takes time and learning. If it were easy it would not be worth it. Jay Maisel once said that your first 10,000 photographs are your worst. Malcolm Gladwell popularized the term “the 10,000 hour rule” that refers to putting 10,000 hours into your craft to be a standout or outlier in your field. So don’t wait up, pick up a photography book in a book store or your local library, read it and take tons of photos. Thank goodness we live in a time where so much knowledge is readily available and most of it is free.


#2 Be Intentional About Everything

I started out in photography using my father’s Olympus OM-1. Every time I loaded a roll of film I had to set the ISO and for every exposure I had to manually decide which aperture and shutter speed I had to use. How I longed for a newer camera with autofocus and auto exposure! Yet, this was the greatest way to learn photography because I had to slow down and make deliberate choices on how I wanted my image to look.

Every modern digital camera comes with a [P]-mode (professional). This mode takes all the decisions out of the photographer’s hands and leaves it up to the camera to make all the artistic choices about your image. The problem is that you are smarter than your camera.

Your camera has no idea the mood or aesthetic that you want to achieve with your image. Only you do. What shutter speed do you need to freeze a race car? What if you want to pan to show movement? What aperture do you use to shoot a portrait so only the eyes are in focus? The answer is simple, your camera has no idea.

It doesn’t know which of these choices is the most important to you and it only strives for an accurate exposure which is currently in focus. If you haven’t already, take your camera off the [P]-mode and instead shoot in [M]-mode (manual).

Sure you will miss some shots, but what you’ll learn will vastly improve your future shots. John Shaw talks about a discipline in photography that “for every single one of your shots you should be able to say why you chose the particular lens, ISO, f-stop, shutter speed, framing etc.” Learn how all of those variables affect your image, practice that principle and see how your photography improves.


#3 Take Your Time

I am not a professional photographer. I have a “real job”, wife and kids so the time I can dedicate to photography is limited. In the past, when I went out shooting for myself I found that I was running all over the place trying to get as many keepers as possible during the short amount of time that I had. As you can guess, the results were a lot of mediocre images.

Now when I go out shooting for myself at least once a month, I try to take my time and invest this time into creating a few good images. I don’t rush as much because I know that I will go out again soon.

Shifting my focus to one or two really good images (instead hoping to get a 100 amazing ones in one go), I am more intentional about: the choices that I am making photographically, my framing and the moment that I release the shutter. Trying to “work my subject” as Steve Simon would say, which pretty much means shooting one main subject from multiple angles and in different ways over time. Taking your time and trying out different perspectives can result in getting great unexpected results versus image hopping from one subject to the next, and getting very similar photos.

I may come away from my photo shoots with fewer images then before, but if I have at least one or two that are great, they are worth far more than a dozen of OK ones. Choose one subject and spend your time photographing it from different angles, with different focal lengths and in different light. You will see the results and progress yourself.


#4 Most importantly play, make mistakes and have fun

Just do what the title says. Your best photos, your signature style, or your next favourite preset can come from an accident or what you first deem a mistake. So feel free to experiment and play, and don’t delete those “mistake” images until you import and see them on your computer. Have fun experimenting!


Thanks for reading!

500px Worldwide Meetup Day

Published by Diana Tula · August 22nd 2013

What is a 500px Worldwide Meetup Day?

500px Meetup Day is a worldwide annual event on September 21 hosted in your area by passionate photo enthusiasts and supported by 500px. Bringing those who love photography together. It is a great opportunity to meet people in your community who have the same passions and interests as you do, start great photo discussions, and get 500px swag (be it a coveted 500px T-shirt or a free Awesome account).

So take that old dusty film camera off the shelf, charge up your DSLR, free up space on your phone and come along. Take pictures, make new friends, and if you're shy bring family or friends with. Everyone is welcome to attend :)

Join Now

Joining is simple. Visit a Meetup Page, join a group in your area and attend on September 21st. Let us know when you do, we’d love to hear about it!

Create event

There isn't a meetup nearby or you don't feel like driving? Create one yourself:

1. Add a group
2. Create a Facebook event
3. Email us links
4. You are done! Now get a 500px package, special tag and PR of your event from us.

Need a reminder?

Don’t want to miss your meetup & need a reminder, then join our FB event page. We will be sending everyone a reminder the day before.


Share your Meetup experience with us, be it photo, video or text. Send in your impressions to

See you at the meetup, <3 500px

Photo Tutorial — Magic of Oil and Ink

Published by Diana Tula · August 20th 2013

Let’s learn how to create a world of miniatures and wonder with Dina Belenko. Dina is fine arts photographer, who creates magical photos using her imagination, camera and a bottomless well of arts & crafts skills.

In this tutorial we will learn how to combine oil and ink, edit background colour, and how to use flat objects to our advantage. At the end of the tutorial you will learn how to produce images similar to...


Various liquids are often used in still life and macro photography, for example: colorized water, paint, or foam. I would like to share my experience of using plain sunflower oil which, despite its commonness, can produce interesting and beautiful results.

You will need

  • Transparent container (preferably the one with straight walls, like an oblong vase or a small fish bowl)
  • Syringe
  • Sunflower/canola oil (at least 500 ml)
  • Water and ink (you may take any kind of it)
  • Chopsticks (to hang or move an object without spoiling your fingers in oil)
  • Napkins (the more the better)
  • Object or objects that will be the main subject of the picture (toys, miniatures, paper figures)
  • Post-processing program of choice


I used one soft light source from behind the object to make the oil look more transparent, and another soft light from a side (I used a soft box and window, you can also try using a white/silver reflector or shooting outdoors).


Place the object (in my case it's the miniature Eiffel tower) at the bottom of the vase. Then carefully fill the vase with oil (try to hold the bottle so that the oil flows down the wall of the vase without spattering).

Then fill the syringe with some ink (try one or different colours). When done carefully dip the needle into oil and let out a few ink drops — ink is heavier than oil, so the drops will slowly fall down as dark bubbles. You may let them float here and there, and can also experiment making a “spiral” with ink drops around the object. Try and find the best variant for you.


First of all, we need to get rid of the yellow color from the sunflower oil. In your RAW-converter (I use Adobe Lightroom) there should be an option to decrease the saturation of separate colors. Reduce saturation of yellow and increase its luminance.

After this initial and very important edit you can proceed to editing ink bubbles conversion you may add or delete bubbles. Then adjust the color once again and voilà, the picture is ready!


You can play around with different objects and get very different images as final results. Careful to use objects that would not spoil or taint the sunflower oil (avoid anything dirty or that could bleed).

You can use flat objects (like paper figures) and glue those to the back wall of the vase. The picture itself may lose its volume, but this way you will get an almost unlimited amount of plots for your pictures.

I hope you will find this advice useful. Try it out! I wish you good shots!

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. You can see more of Dina’s work and beautiful photographs over at her 500px page. Let us know when you try out this ink + oil technique, we'd love to see your photos :)

If you are looking for similar tutorials take a look at Glow in the Dark Mason Jars & Mirror, mirror. Got a tutorial idea? Send it to


Meet Lukas Stewart

Published by Diana Tula · August 20th 2013

Every week we want to introduce you to new and up-and-coming talents, whom you may have not discovered yet. Today we’d like to introduce you to Lukas Stewart, a hobbyist photographer from Netherlands. Here is his story... 

Hi! I am a bachelor student at the moment studying international business. I have been a hobbyist photographer for a few years now, but only just recently invested in a studio strobe set. I realize my photography generally lacks some sort of unifying theme. I suppose I get bored with one subject or method rather quickly and get anxious to try something new and interesting. 

Photography has been my biggest hobby since I was about 15. My father gave me one of his old point-and-shoot cameras one summer and the very first photo I snapped with it was of a slug on the deck of my uncle's house.  I remember it had a beautifully shallow depth of field with the slug in perfect, crisp focus. I loved this tool that let me preserve a single scene that I found beautiful or fascinating and share it with people who would otherwise not have noticed it or been able to appreciate it. Soon got my first entry level DLSR and things took off from there. Please enjoy my work.

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Thanks for reading! To add photographer Lukas Stewart to friends, to follow his future uploads and to say “Hi” visit his 500px page. Lukas has been a 500px member since October of last year and he would love to be your friend.

Would you like to be discovered and introduced on our blog? Let us know in the comments below. 


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