Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Hello everyone! Beckie here!
Every two weeks we’ll bring you tips to improve your photos. Like this week, some will be basic and emphasize the non-equipment related things you can do to capture your memories. Others will be more advanced, introducing everyone to the incredible potential offered by digital SLR cameras!
Regardless of your experience level or type of camera, here are some handy tips for getting the best photos out of every opportunity!
1. Control the lighting!
If you’ve ever read much about the art of photography, you’ll find it described as the art of capturing light. Proper lighting is critical to producing a good photo! We’ll save the topic of “exposure” for a later post, but for now – let’s look at some examples to show you how to take control of lighting to produce results you’ll be pleased with!
- Indirect sunlight is best. Full sun results in extreme shadows that don’t flatter adults, and can often result in those unfortunate squinty faces in your subjects. Step under a porch, under a tree, or better yet – wait for the sun to duck behind the clouds! In fact…take a look at this photo:
Would you ever have guessed that it was actually overcast and even raining a little when I took it? If you try taking pictures on an overcast day, read your camera manual to learn how to set your White Balance to “cloudy”.
- Position yourself between the source of light and your subject. I staged this series of photos below to show you how simply putting myself between this little bouquet of roses and the window, leaving ALL other settings the same, illustrates how easy it is to put available lighting to work for you!
This little area in our living room is the ONLY portion of our downstairs that has decent enough lighting for good photos – so I often plop the kids down here when I want to take indoor pictures. Sometimes I even step outside the patio door and take pictures of the kids inside (to get enough distance between us for a good photo). Whatever works! LOL!
2. Take a variety of photos to tell the story!
- Here I wanted to capture my son’s excitement over a new toy. He was so excited by the sheer size of the box – nearly as big as he was! So I wanted a photo of him with the box. In my journaling I’ll include a bit about how he kept trying to carry it through the store! I also have a close-up of the little train car itself. The bright, saturated colors from the train just make me happy and scream “FUN!”. And finally, my son’s happy, smiling face is critical. He was SO excited to get this toy, and I just love the pure happiness captured here in his face!
- For events and activities, plan out your photos ahead of time. This may sound like overkill – but how often have you been disappointed to realize that you didn’t get a photo of Aunt Sally (who NEVER travels) at the family holiday party? Or missed the opportunity to get three generations of the family together in one photo? A little thought ahead of time will spare you the regret of these missed opportunities! Some specifics to consider:
- Special attendees. The elderly, the young, and any “unusual” guests should always be on your list.
- Family relationships. Is there a unique opportunity to capture all the women in the family in one photo? How about multiple generations? My family has an annual reunion in Mississippi every year. Although I don’t usually scrapbook the pictures, I do try to get a photo of each complete “family” to have as a record.
- The Details. Often, for any type of party, someone spent a lot of time, effort (and possibly money!) on the little details. The cake, the decorations, the balloons, the carefully prepared trays of food. Any time I attend a party or a shower, I always make rounds through the gathering to record the gorgeous details before they’re gone! I snapped these photos within 5 minutes of arriving at a baby shower a few weeks ago:
- Special events. Depending on the occasion, there are some major events that you don’t want to miss! a new bride tossing the bouquet, a birthday boy opening a much anticipated present – the kids putting cookies out for Santa. Just think about the occasion and consider the most important events and determine which ones you need to capture.
Create a list and keep it in your pocket. Peek at it right before you arrive and then again about half way through. The idea is to be more aware of what you want to capture, but not to the extent that you’re so focused on a list that you don’t enjoy yourself!
3. Photograph what inspires you!
I ALWAYS have my camera with me. I take pictures of clothing or upholstery that I love (great inspiration for future layouts!). Home decor, party foods, etc – beautiful things that inspire me! If you use software to organize or categorize your photos, create a special key word or tag – “inspiration” and put it on photos of things you love. And then look back and enjoy your photos when you need a creative boost! (oh, and after a while you hardly notice the strange looks you get from everyone when you’re photgraphing a bowl of salad in perfect window lighting at the dinner table! LOL!)
4. Cut the clutter…sometimes!
Professional photographers get gorgeous results by controlling every aspect of what is in the frame for each shot. Most of the time, the best photos are those with a clear and obvious subject! you can do this through in-camera crop, which means that you “zoom in” on only that subject matter that is important to you. Often, however, we’re so busy (and hopefully caught up having fun!) that sometimes you’ll need to crop the image later, before you use it. This photo of a band playing on the street in New Orleans is a good example of how a subtle crop can provide a huge improvement!
There are times, however, where the “clutter” helps to provide context. I have photos that I’ve taken of the kids playing in the driveway with our cars in the background that I’ve intentionally left whole; I love the idea of them looking back and laughing at “that old car” one day. I even leave many photos taken within our house un-cropped, as all that background clutter (toys, clothes, etc) is a little mini time capsule!
Well, that’s it for today! I hope you found this first installment of Focus on Photos helpful! Everyone have a wonderful WEDNESDAY!!