Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Hello again everyone! It’s Beckie here today :) I’m super excited with today’s topic, as it’s the first thing in a long time that has made a truly dramatic improvement in the quality of my photos! And I know it can help you, too :) So….let’s get started!
Let’s start with a very basic discussion of white balance. White balance is the adjustment applied to remove color casts from your photos. Every different lighting situation we face presents a different lighting color. Candle light and light bulbs are warm (yellow-ish), cloud coverage and shade are cool (blue-ish). Our own eyes have a fantastic ability to see beyond the color casts present in light; that is, we don’t usually perceive the color differences from one light situation to another. Your camera, however, needs a little help! Your photos will look their best when your camera is set to compensate for the color cast of the lighting situation. We do this with the white balance setting on the camera.
Nearly all cameras, including basic point-and-shoot cameras, have several white balance settings to choose from. These typically include “Auto”, “Cloudy”, “Daylight”, “Fluorescent”, and “Tungsten”. Chances are, your camera is set to “Auto” (sometimes written as “AWB” for Auto White Balance). This is a setting that effectively puts the responsibility for detecting and removing color cast to your camera. The camera does an OK job, but typically only gets white balance accurate in relatively “neutral” lighting – flash and daylight. But in all other conditions, your camera most likely doesn’t do a great job – leaving a color cast to your images.
One other drawback to using AWB on your camera is this: your camera will re-evaluate the lighting with every shot taken. This means it will potentially apply diffferent corrective adjustments to every photo you take. Consider this: the presence of white/gray/neutral content in your photo increases the chance of your camera making an accurate assessment in AWB mode. So what if one shot is of a neighbor in a white shirt in the shade, but the very next shot is of a small child wearing purple (also in the shade)? It’s likely that your camera will assess the two situations differently. Neither shot is likely to be really great, but the image of the person in the white shirt will likely have truer color than that of the child in purple. Later, when you upload the images to your computer and you want to edit your photos, each image will need it’s own custom color adjustments! The same adjustment that warmed up the purple shirt photo and made it “just right” is likely to be too warm for the white shirt, which likely had a warmer value to start with. In essence, using AWB makes batch editing photos nearly impossible. I recommend using the RIGHT white balance modes for each situation for two reasons:
- more accurate representation of color for all situations if set properly
- bulk editing photos (through PS, Adobe Camera Raw, Lightroom, etc) is possible – dramatically reducing your photo editing time
Now…for those of you who have dSLRs – you have even MORE options. At least one more, to be specific – and it’s called Kelvin.
I’m going to be straight up here and say that I don’t understand the details, nor do I care, about the physics and science behind Kelvin, but it’s basically a scale that measures the warmth of light. The good news? You’ll get CRAZY good photos if you take advantage of what your camera has to offer here. Here’s a reference of how common lighting situations translate to their corresponding Kelvin values:
So – all you have to do is set your white balance to “K” for Kelvin (see your user’s manual for instructions on how to do this). Once you do this, you’ll see a number pop up. The default value is typically in the daylight range above (5000-6500) and varies by manufacturer. The default value doesn’t really matter anyway, as you should set it to the value that is correct for the current conditions in which you’re shooting. 5800 is a great place to start for normal daylight, just to get a starting point. Some photographers prefer “warmer” images and shoot at around 6200 in normal lighting conditions. Think of the number as the amount of light you’re adding to the photo - that’s the easiest way for me to remember that low Kelvin numbers are already warm and don’t need much warmth added (like candle light). Shade, on the other hand, is cooler and needs more warmth added – so the number will be bigger.
I took my camera out one evening and practiced setting/changing values. It just takes a few clicks on my Canon 7d to change the K value – it’s super easy! I set the value, then take a test shot, and view it through the screen. If it looks “true to life” to me, I leave it, otherwise I adjust up or down accordingly (remember, making the number bigger adds more warmth to the image). After just one evening of shooting with Kelvin, I’ll never use any other white balance mode again. Seriously. My white balance modes have always been consistently cooler than what is “true to life”, something I’ve heard photographers with Nikon cameras say as well. By using Kelvin, you spend a few extra seconds setting the value to exactly what you need for true to life images. Just remember that as lighting changes, you’ll want to adjust your Kelvin values accordingly. I typically increase the K value by a few clicks at a time throughout the evening, just as reference :)
I find that now I rarely adjust the white balance of my photos, and if I do have to make edits, it’s a VERY minor adjustment. Refer to this post for tips on how to edit white balance and exposure :) If you shoot RAW, you can either use the color sliders in ACR or LR, or you can change to a different WB mode (like daylight, cloudy, etc) after the fact. If you use JPG, you will have to use the yellow/blue color slider to adjust WB accordingly in your editing program.
This photo is nothing special…except that it was one of the very first images I shot using Kelvin white balance. It is completely SOOC (straight out of camera) except for a small amount of cropping. I immediately noticed a HUGE improvement in the color!! I had it set to around 9000 as it was late in the afternoon and the whole front yard was in shade. Don’t be afraid to increase the value! Skin should be warm, not cool and “pasty”!
Getting the white balance right “in camera” (as the photo is taken) produces more accurate representations of color than anything I achieve using other WB modes. I’m just not an expert at photo processing/editing – nor do I want to be. So I am so thrilled I spent an evening learning to shoot Kelvin to produce better, more accurate colors than what I’ve had before. :)
I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s detour into White Balance! I’d love to hear about your experiences below in the comments section :) I also feel the need to remind everyone that I’m NOT a pro, just a mom with a camera…on a mission to capture great photos :)
Thanks for stopping by the blog today! We’ll be back tomorrow with some COLOR inspiration!
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
“Why be perfect? Nobody else is.” – Julienne Beasley.
Hi everyone. It’s Jenelle here, with my very first Shabby Shoppe blog post. (Can you hear my knees-a-knocking?! I’m a bit nervous!) Today’s post is not going to be a ‘technical’ style focus on photos (they are best covered by our photography expert Beckie!) but I do hope you enjoy reading along and that it inspires you to continue scrapping and preserving your precious memories. Most of all, I hope it encourages you to keep posting your layouts in our wonderful inspiration gallery.
We all know that scrapbooking and photography go hand in hand, but I don’t believe that being a first-rate photographer is a pre-requisite for creating eye catching layouts. A photo doesn’t have to be perfect to touch our hearts, capture a memory or tell a story.
When I scrap my photos, I naturally choose the pictures that are visually powerful – colourful, bright, in focus and sharp. Great photos make great layouts, right? But what about the not-so-perfect pictures? You know the ones – out of focus, poor composition, bad lighting, too far away, not everyone looking at the camera etc. We all have them! Sometimes our lives are recorded by more ‘not-so-stellar’ photographs than ‘stellar’ ones. This is especially true for me, with two little boys who don’t like to sit still and the fact that I don’t have a top of the range camera. I have so many imperfect photos on my hard drive, but I just can’t bring myself to delete them. I love some of these bad photos I have – they’ve captured a memory that is dear to me and they’re part of the story I’m trying to tell through my scrapbooking. Sometimes they’re the only picture I’ve managed to capture at that time. So… I’ve decided to scrap some of them – warts and all! And I think you should too.
Let’s look at some tricks that might help you to scrap some of those imperfect photos stored away on your hard drives.
Of course, the first step would be trying to manipulate these photos in your software editing program and seeing if you can improve some of the flaws. Some ruthless cropping, using the unsharp mask, making adjustments to lighting and/or a bit of extraction work can vastly improve certain photos (and no-one would ever know the difference). However, if you have a really poor quality image (or you’re still learning how to master these editing techniques like me) you may have to call upon a few other tricks to help mask the imperfections.
I’d say the most common issue would be blurring in our photographs. Agree? Don’t be shy, we all have them in our stash! How do you keep a toddler still for long enough to take a good photo? What about an energetic pet? Photographing a sports game? Trying to get a good family photograph when everyone is fussing about? Blur, blur and more blur!!!
Here are two blurry photos I took of my sons and nephew chasing the waves at a surf beach during a recent holiday/vacation. I took lots of photos this particular day, as the kids were having such fun. So many blurry images resulted from this cavorting with the waves, mind you… and I was really disappointed. I still got some other great shots, but I really liked some of the blurry ones (particularly the one where all three boys are in the frame because that didn’t happen again) and I wanted to include these pictures in my album of our trip.
For both photographs I set the blending mode to ‘overlay’ and the opacity to 100%. (For more information on blending modes check out this Tips and Tricks post.)
As you can see, the raised texture seemed to give the photos the look of a painting, even a bit like a watercolour and the blurriness (although not gone) seemed to work here! So I added some frames and other Shabby Shoppe goodies to come up with this layout of my blurry beach photos.
I’m so glad I didn’t leave them out of my album and hidden away on my hard drive. They’re not perfect, but much better than the images I had SOOC (straight out of camera) and I was happy with my final layout in the end.
Here are some more ideas for helping disguise bad photos in your scrapbook layouts:-
Play around with the artistic filters in your photo editing software to give your photo a completely different look. Try converting it to a sketch or a watercolor.
Leave the main focal point in colour and desaturate the rest
Play around with masks and gradient blending to help hide imperfections
Use a large title and lots of journalling to detract from poor photo quality
Strategically place an element or cluster over a particular part of a photo that is distracting (like a bin/trash can or stranger passing by in the background, etc..)
If the bad photos are of a famous place or landmark, consider finding stock images to mix in with your good photos (always check copyright first). It is often difficult to get good photos in museum exhibits, but museums often have great images on their web site
Blending an image into a different background is another great way to minimize negative issues. When you blend a low resolution image in with a high resolution image (a background paper for example), many of the flaws are hidden
When an image is beyond repair (eyes closed, silly face, fuzzy picture) why not just go with it and incorporate a funny title or theme to match the photo or accentuate the imperfection. Here are some examples:- ‘Blink and you’ll miss him/her’, ‘You’re growing so fast, sometimes you’re just a blur’, ‘Fuzzy Memories’, ‘When Life Rushes By’, ‘The photo may be blurry, but your beauty is crystal clear’… (can you think of some more?)
Sometimes you may have a layout in mind for a particular event but when you get your photos off your camera and onto your screen, you find that some of the shots aren’t so good. This also happened to me recently. I had a mix of good and bad photos from the one outing but wanted to include them all to help tell the story. Here’s one of the blurry photos I took on this outing at the park.
It’s blurry and badly composed, but I wanted to include it as I remember the boys laughing so hard as they ran away from their cousin (who was about to throw grass all over them)! I recalled reading about using storyboards in your layouts and how they can often help minimize the flaws in your photographs. So I decided to make all my photographs smaller and add lots of them to my page, giving that storyboard effect. I also ran an instagram action over the pictures, added in a big title, large elements and widely spaced journalling - all helping to distract from the original blurred photographs.
Tucking away these photos because they weren’t perfect would have resulted in missing this moment in our family album. I’m so glad I scrapped them in the end – the boys think they’re great pictures anyway and really, they’re my main audience aren’t they?!
So, next time you are scrapping a memory or special story and find that you only have bad photos, don’t get discouraged. Why not consider using some of the ideas I’ve mentioned in this post to still create a great layout. You will still be preserving those precious memories and may even be surprised with your end result. We’d love to see how you scrap some of your imperfect photos in our inspiration gallery soon.
Thanks for joining me today for my very first post! Kylie will be here tomorrow to share the latest Project SCRAP templates!
Inspiration, Photography, Tips and Tricks, Uncategorized
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
O, little remote shutter clicker, how I love thee! Let me count the ways!
Valentine’s day might be over, but I (Beckie) still have MAD LOVE for my little remote. What is this magic little device, you might ask? It’s a simple little button that lets you remotely activate your camera’s shutter. Not impressed? Well keep reading – it has more practical uses than you might realize!
The idea is simple…securely position your camera (rest it on a table, on a tripod, etc), then frame up your shot, focus on your subject, and then walk away. Trust your little remote to use infra-red technology to fire your shutter for you from up to 16 feet away! There are many types out there and you need to be sure to do a little shopping to get one that works for your make and model!
Why would you use a remote? There are many reasons! Let’s take a look at a few:
So you’re the designated family photographer, eh? When’s the last time YOU were in a photo?? And I’m not talking about that time you pushed the button and jumped over Aunt Sally and busted the seam in your pants to get in your spot before the timer went off, either! There’s a very relaxing way to quickly get a series of group photos – even when you need to be part of the group!
- Secure your camera on a tripod or other sturdy surface, like a table. Get the group assembled, frame up the shot, make sure everyone can be seen, etc. Designate your spot in the group and ask someone to hold that place for you :)
- Set your camera to remote/timer. Mine has options for either a 2 second delay or a 10 second delay. This is the setting where it knows to “look for” an infra-red signal to fire the shutter (consult your camera manual to see exactly how this works for your model).
- Take a test shot, then look at the photo on the LCD screen. If all is well, grab your remote and join the group!
- Fire away! Give the group a warning, ask them to hold the pose, etc. Take a bunch!! Remember our head swap tutorial? Having a series of photos to work with is the best way to create a perfect group shot when you don’t capture one.
Look! I’m actually in this photo! That’s me in the black sweater. Three generations of my husband’s family!!
I’ve been dabbling in macro photography for a few months now and having lots of fun with it! But I often have to close my aperture way down in order to create a focal plane that is large enough to capture an object in focus (high f-numbers). This creates quite a challenge for allowing in sufficient light, which can result in slow shutter speeds. A slow shutter speed poses a huge risk of motion blur in a photo, which is one reason why many photographers use a mini-tripod for macro photography. In fact, you often have to manually focus on an object to achieve the exact shot you’re after. When I’m shooting things that don’t move, I go the extra step and use my remote. I really value the peace of mind that comes from knowing I’m not introducing an additional opportunity for blur from moving my camera when I push down on the shutter.
f5, ISO800, 1/125
I love this shot of a cool old marble my hubby had in his collection from when he was a kid. The imperfections in the surface of the glass and the cool swirl of color are so interesting when photographed through a macro lens! (I use a Canon 60mm f2.8 macro lens). Notice how only a tiny portion of the surface of this marble is in focus? There’s no room for error in getting the macro shots you’re after, so relying on a tripod and a remote is a great way to eliminate the chance for motion blur from you touching your camera.
:::Slow shutter speed photos:::
Similar to the example above with macro photography, there may be other types of artistic photography you’re interested in that require slow shutter speeds. Remember the fireworks photography post from a while back? I used my tripod and remote for the shots in that post. By using my remote, I could get out there and show my kids where to stand, help light their sparklers, etc – and still remotely activate the shutter to take the picture! Here’s another of my favorite shots from that night!
f11, 1/5, ISO160
My kids may very well be the most photographed children on the planet. Seriously. They’re completely immune to my pleas for “just one more! Smile! Look here!”. But when I set the camera up the other day and asked my 6 year old to come over and take pictures of herself with the remote, she was super excited! I got the camera all set up, then turned my back while she did her thing. She proceeded to give me a series of about 15 silly, kooky, funny, and sweet faces that perfectly capture her big personality. And she giggled the entire time! She got the biggest kick out of surprising me with her faces and showing them to me when she was done. No matter how many times we take their pictures at home, there’s just something about a photo booth opportunity to have their picture taken that most kids seem to love.
- A remote is a wonderful way to get YOURSELF in front of the camera! Again, do everything as described above (position the camera securely, focus in, etc) – but this time you need to find a proxy for yourself so that you can frame things up and check your exposure. Simply grab a baby doll or a stuffed animal! These toys are great because you can still use the eye as a nice high-contrast area to use for setting focus on the desired position.
- As an alternative, you can find an assistant. I did a self portrait session and asked my daughter to tell me if the “little red box” was over my face when I took my first sample photo with the remote. She helped me scootch into the right position, and then I clicked away!
That wraps up today’s little crash course on remotes! Feel free to share your own ideas in the comments below. Be sure to come back again tomorrow to see a fabulous scrapping inspiration post from Kylie!
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Hi everyone! Beckie here with a special holiday edition of Focus on Photos! This week I have a few ideas to share for how to creatively capture beautiful photos to showcase your favorite lights and decorations. And what better place to start than with the evergreen beauty that becomes the focal point of many of our homes for several weeks each year? The Christmas tree!
O Christmas Tree….
Luckily, my neighbors know me well enough not to bat an eye when I knock on their door and ask to take photos of their Christmas tree :) I wanted to bring you two examples of a basic Christmas tree photo and illustrate some of the basics of capturing a good image.
1. Shoot in RAW. Even if you don’t normally shoot RAW, this is a great time to do so since you may want to tweak with the white balance of your image in your photo editing software. Most indoor lighting will show up rather yellow in your photos. Setting your WB to Tungsten will prevent this. Or, my preference, is to use the sliders in ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) after the fact to introduce more blue to the image while still leaving some of that gorgeous warmth that feels like the holidays to me. See more about ACR here.
2. Take your photo during the day, when there’s some daylight present in the room. You can also use lamps and other available lighting available in the room, but this can introduce unexpected shadows and complicate the white balance situation (especially if there are different types of lighting). I do not recommend a pop-up flash, as it will definitely introduce harsh shadows and unfortunate bright spots . Unless you have more advanced flash equipment (diffuser, off camera flash, or experience using “fill flash”), I recommend trying to make-do with other sources of light!
3. Consider shutter speed! The slower the shutter speed, the more blur you’ll get on the lights on the tree. This can have a beautiful effect and greatly contribute to the warmth and beauty of the photo! I highly recommend using a tripod – or resting the camera on some stable surface for the photo. This will allow you to drastically slow down your shutter speed without introducing blur. You should experiment with the results from various settings; I tried several, from 1/50 second all the way down to a 3 second shutter speed!
Here are two examples!
You can see that I left the lights in the photo on the left slightly warmer than with the tree on the right. It’s really a matter of personal preference! Also, note the very slow shutter speeds, which allowed me to capture a soft glow from each bulb, not the harsh outline of the glass itself. Here’s one more example below, which is another photo of the tree on the left above. I intentionally put the tree lights out of focus, resulting in a gorgeous bokeh effect. To do this, simply turn the focus ring on your lens until you achieve a nice, soft, out of focus blur!
Photographing a person in front of the tree is slightly different. The show shutter speeds that produce such gorgeous soft light in our previous photos will likely result in blurry portraits if we introduced people to the photos. The best alternative in these situations is to separate your subject from the tree (at least 2-3 feet) and then use an open aperture (low f-number) to help emphasize the bokeh effect in the image. You’ll also need additional lighting for your subject’s face. In this case, All I had to do was remove the shade from the table lamp in the living room! My normally reliable daughter was just not in the mood to be my model, but my wonderful mother in law was more than happy to stand in for a quick photo! (and yes, the glass of wine definitely helped, LOL!)
- If you have small children, this same technique works – but you’ll need a wide lens (like a 30mm). Put small kids on the floor in front of the tree – at least 3 feet away from the tree – and place a few plastic ornaments down to help attract their interest. Then, get down on the floor at their level and snap away!
- Try your favorite photo actions on these shots, too! A wonderful vintage look, or a soft color wash can help hide troublesome white balance issues and eliminate distracting colors. Check out Sarah’s actions at My Four Hens (she was our very first blog guest interview!)
Celebrate the bling!
I picked up a gently used 60mm f2.8 macro lens, which I’ve had a tremendous amount of fun experimenting with! A macro lens has a very tiny focal plane, which means only a very small portion of an object will be in focus. Here you can see that this 4″ ornament has parts that are clearly in focus as well as some that most definitely are not! I took this photo right on the floor in the light of the table lamp, bracing my camera against my body to minimize blur (another challenging aspect of macro photography!). Even if you don’t have a macro lens, take a moment to snap a photo of your most treasured ornaments so you can document their origins! I ran an action on the photo below to saturate the colors a bit more and give it a subtle artistic feel :)
The Great Outdoors
It’s likely you might want to try to capture some of the fun and excitement outdoors as well! I had a lot of fun walking around with my camera trying out various techniques and angles for capturing outdoor decorations – and, here are a few tips!
- Outdoor lights are best captured before it is fully dark outside. Much like the Christmas tree photos we discussed above, a little extra lighting to help expose the surrounding elements accentuate the appearance of the lights themselves. In this photo, you can still see a wonderful, warm glow from the lights, while still having enough light in the background to provide context for the image. This helicopter Santa is the newest addition to our yard, much to the delight of our three year old :)
- Get up close and personal! This is my favorite photo from my little holiday photo shoot. I LOVE the pattern from the lights and the cool texture from the glass bulbs. Look for repeating patterns like this, and don’t be afraid to get down on your knees – or even stomach – to capture things from a whole new perspective! To determine proper exposure, take a test shot and look at the result on your LCD screen. The bulbs will be blown and over exposed, but you need that in order to ensure that some of the surrounding details are visible. With a little trial and error you’ll achieve some fun, creative shots that will give you a fun new type of photo for your scrapbooks!
- Here are a few more fun lighting shots taken with my macro lens. I was able to get just one small bulb in focus and lots of great bokeh all around! You could create a similar effect just by taking a shot intentionally out of focus. This is such a fun effect with multi-colored lights!
And finally, be on the lookout for other gorgeous manifestations of light during the holiday season! I was retrieving my son from a neighbor’s house where he was playing when I realized that her tree lights played so beautifully through the textured glass of her front door. This entryway just looked so warm and inviting that I just had to snap a photo!
With just a little trial and error, you’ll have photos you love in no time! I can’t wait to see your layouts in the gallery that showcase your fabulous holiday lights. And feel free to share your favorite tips below in the comments section, too!
Thanks for stopping by today! Be sure to come back again tomorrow, you won’t want to miss a fun post from SP!
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Hey everyone, Beckie here! I don’t know about you guys, but I’m starting to think about what to do for our annual holiday card. I love to take advantage of the time off over the Thanksgiving holidays to take our photos each year, so I thought I’d provide a few tips on a “do-it-yourself” photo shoot!
1. Scout out your location…and make it low stress. For me, this means the best spot for photos in my own yard. No packing up the family and no frantically searching for a potty when your three year old declares “I gotta go pee pee!”. Best of all…when you have a go-to location that is easily accessible and low-stress, it’s easier to get out there and do practice photo sessions (remember, PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!!). Be sure to consider the best time of day for your selected spot, the temperature (cold weather makes for red cheeks and noses!), and the background for your shots.
2. Get to your location and set up before you gather the troops. This is a low-stress way to make sure you’re all ready.
- I go to my spot with my camera around my neck, double check that my lenses are dust and smudge free, check the memory cards, and start taking a few test shots to set my ISO. Also use this time to set your aperture to a good starting value. For the photos you’ll see below, I set my ISO to 400 since it was an overcast day and my aperture to f3.2 because I was taking pics of my kids (as a rule of thumb, keep aperture above 2 for 2 people). I know I’ll have to re-meter once they get here, but it should be a simple adjustment of shutter speed at that point.
- Set your camera to burst mode. I know, I know – the professional photographers reading this right now are cringing! But kids blink, make faces, turn their heads, etc. Getting a rapid series of photos for each pose is the easiest way to increase your odds of successfully capturing THE perfect holiday card photo. And like we learned last week – it’s super easy to swap out closed eyes for open ones, allowing you to create the perfect photo!
- Put your camera to your eye and frame up a few shots. Think through a few poses (sitting or standing? together or separate?) and look through your lens to ensure that background distractions can be minimized. Remove anything that disrupts the pattern of your background (you want the background to be easy to ignore, not upstage the people in your photos). If you have multiple lenses, especially prime lenses (that don’t zoom to varying focal distances), make sure you have the proper lens on your camera for the pose you wish to start out with.
- Gather props. For a holiday shot, you might want to have a few props on-hand to let your subjects play with. For the holidays this can be a string of lights, a few holiday ornaments, or even a chair, bucket, or bench for your subjects to sit on. Don’t be afraid to try new things! Digital photos are easy to delete :)
3. All set? Bring on your subjects! For me, that means calling the kids over from the neighbor’s yard where they’re playing :) Get them set for your first pose and meter off your subjects faces, changing shutter speed as necessary. When shooting kids, I keep my shutter speed over 200, so if you see your shutter speed getting close to 200, go ahead and increase your ISO right now!
4. Whatever you do…don’t say “SAY CHEESE!”. You’ll end up with…cheese face. You know, that fake, plastic smile. Tell them funny stories, make funny noises (bodily noises, however fake, work wonders for this!). The whole idea is to keep it FUN for the kids so they stay engaged with you.
5. Take a test shot and double check the lighting – look at the image captured in your LCD screen. I love overcast skies for my photo shoots. They eliminate the complication of shadows, squinting, and splotchy shade…but it is a bit more difficult to make sure you get enough light on the faces of your subjects. This is why it’s good to have a reflector on hand for just this situation. Relative to most other camera equipment, a reflector is a low-cost tool that makes a HUGE difference. With my handy dandy reflector, I got my first good shot just TWO clicks into my session!
ISO400, f2.2, 1/2500
Here’s the “pullback” of this setup. You can see my daughter holding the reflector for me, and that it was pretty close to my son. It was perfect for reflecting light back up under his ever-present cowboy hat :) I stood right behind the reflector to my daughter’s right. Oh – and the reflector became THE BIG THING for the photo shoot. The kids were so excited to take turns holding the reflector and it became the perfect bribe: give me a good smile, get a turn holding the reflector :)
It’s very important that you remember to check your meter throughout your session! Clouds move, the angle of your subjects’ faces to the light can change, and other things that may require you to adjust your shutter speed up/down to keep your photos properly exposed.
6. Ok – seem simple so far? Let’s add in a second kid! I did take time to get lots of individual shots of each of my kids, which will allow me to use the best shot of each one in the event I don’t capture a great photo of the two of them together. Once I had a few poses of each child individually, I instructed them to sit “booty to booty” and this is what I got:
ISO400, f2.0, 1/3200
7. Looking through my camera I thought the above image was great, but when I looked at my LCD screen I realized that they looked kind of stiff. Neither one of them really knew what to do with their hands. It’s important to encourage interaction between your subjects so that you can capture genuine emotion. So for the photo below, I asked them to put one arm around the other person - and I really love the results! They seem much more relaxed and like themselves:
ISO400, f2.0, 1/3200
Here are two more examples of wonderful interaction between kids. These are our awesome neighbors (and friends my kids have had their whole lives!). I just LOVE these photos, they have so much personality and exude so much joy. The kids had a blast posing and you can tell!
ISO640, f3.2, 1/640
ISO640, f3.2, 1/1000
8. Kids will be kids…so be ready at all times! I got this cute picture of my son goofing around, which I love not necessarily for a holiday card, but because it totally captures his funny/silly personality. Even though he was moving around, my shutter speed was high enough to avoid motion blur.
ISO400, f2.0, 1/2500
9. The same photo above also brings us to the next lesson…your yard will likely have some immovable distracting objects in the background, like these trees behind my son. Truthfully, they don’t bother me so much. But if you you’re a perfectionist and want to get rid of them… simply use your clone tool! Voila…
I’m no expert with the clone tool, but I have played around with it and developed a technique that works for me. With the clone tool, the idea is to “copy” portions of your photo that you like and use them to hide portions of your photo that you don’t. So I used the grass behind my son to clone out the trees and bricks behind him. I generally make 2 passes over the area I’m cloning out, and vary the size of the brush I use so that I don’t have an obvious pattern duplications. This whole process took me about 10 minutes (and I was watching TV at the same time, LOL!).
10. Finally…keep it short. I’ve found that about 20 minutes is the most I can get out of my kids before they’re bored and ready to be done with me. One frame looks great – the next, their eyes are looking away from the camera, they’re not smiling, or just as bad – the smiles are totally fake. This is another reason why I prefer at-home shoots, so that we don’t spend a tremendous amount of time preparing for a shoot that will last 15-20 minutes. The shoot with the neighbors was literally about 10 minutes long and I got at least 15 AWESOME shots of the kids in 4-5 poses to share with their mom :)
OK, that’s it! I hope you are inspired by some of the tips here to plan your own photo shoot! Oh, and if you’re looking for the perfect holiday cards to showcase your incredible new photos, be sure to check out the new holiday card collection by Shabby Princess!
Come on back tomorrow – if you’re thinking of doing any entertaining this holiday season you won’t want to miss Kylie’s post!