Category: Photography

Bad Habits That Can Ruin Photography

SHOOT FROM EYE LEVEL

Amateur shutterbugs tend to hold the camera at head-height. However, this will produce predictable results. When shooting in a location, learn to ‘work the scene’. Drop to your knees, or even lie on the ground, searching for fresh angles. An aerial perspective can be stunning. Remember that the best tool of composition is your feet.

FAIL TO CONSIDER THE BACKGROUND

Look for a simple background behind your subject. For example, avoid having a telephone pole (in the distance) that appears to protrude from a person’s head. If you have a long lens, you can employ a narrow depth-of-field to blur the background. This will isolate your subject from the clutter beyond, achieving a degree of separation.

CENTRE THE SUBJECT

Ignore the rules of composition at your peril. If you want your photos to stand out, learn and use the Rule of Thirds, rather than place your focal point bang in the middle, like most folks do, (in blissful ignorance). Or, add dynamic by tilting your camera at an angle. Don’t forget to try different types of framing: portrait orientation versus landscape orientation. Or even a really wide panoramic crop.

SHOOT ONLY IN BRIGHT DAYLIGHT

Confession time… I am guilty of this. Because I trained back in the bad old days of film, when strong light was necessary to capture good images, I became a fair-weather photographer. Also, I used compact digital cameras for a decade, which were hopeless in low light situations. So I was infatuated with clear, blue skies, as cloudy skies often washed out into a white haze.

However, under a harsh, midday sun, shadows are short and therefore objects do not look three-dimensional, lacking form. Human subjects may squint into the sun, or blink. Worse, they may have an ugly ‘sun-dial’ effect under their noses! Better to pose people in the shade.

Landscapers should learn to work with softer, diffused light – this is mandatory for waterfall scenes. Thunderclouds overhead will introduce a sense of foreboding that blue skies cannot. Golden hour lighting will exude warmer tones and longer shadows.

DON’T READ THE CAMERA MANUAL

Same old story: you buy a new camera, put the box away and the camera’s manual stays inside the plastic bag. Perhaps you were too eager to use your new gadget. Well, now it’s time to dig out the manual, and attack it with a highlighter pen.

Be methodical, and diligently work through each function of your camera. You may find features you didn’t know existed!

Taking Great Food Pics for Social Media

For you foodie lovers who wouldn’t dare dream of eating a bite of a deliciously grilled meal until after the photo op is over, you’ll be happy to know that according to a 2014 study by Socialbakers.com, photos shared on Facebook garner more interaction than any other form of shared content. So when dining mates complain that the food is getting cold while you find the perfect shot, remind them that your food photos are actually bringing you closer to and connecting you with others. (Heads up: your mom may or may not buy that argument.)

Whether you snap food pics for fun or for your blog or website, you’ll want some seriously eye-catching photography. Fortunately, this doesn’t require blowing your budget on the latest camera. You really only need a smartphone and these 5 tips to taking great photos for social media.

  • Lighting. Lighting may be the single most important factor when taking a great photo. Make it easy on yourself by leaving your camera or smartphone on “automatic.” Natural light is best, but if a photo doesn’t turn out quite right, utilize the filters offered by either of the social media platforms. Just be sure that the source of light is always in front of your food-no amount of filters can fix backlighting!
  • Composition. The rule of thirds is a well-known photography guideline for a reason. Don’t put the main subject of your photo smack dab in the center-it’s just not that interesting to the viewer. Instead, position the subject either in the left or right third of the shot to add interest.
  • Angles. By simply shooting your subject from above, below or to the side at an angle versus head-on, you will instantly attract more attention.
  • Blurring. By using the blur tool – even just softly around the edges – you can instantly draw someone’s eye to a focal point that you want them to notice.
  • Tell a story. Above all, social media photos are used to tell stories. Use your pictures to tell stories about you, your life and what’s important to you. Pictures are still worth a thousand words. Done correctly, however, they’re also now worth an 87% engagement rate.

Photographic Darkroom

In order to maintain the darkness of the room, they are generally reached via several curtains or doors which are often able to help with avoiding any light pollution. This is a vital step to take to make sure the darkroom isn’t exposed to light in those times that a photographer is working on a task that could be very sensitive to light exposure. Film and prints are highly sensitive to light so it is important that the artist is able to remain in a highly dark environment to avoid any clouding or fogging appearing on the finished image.

A regular darkroom that is outfitted to complete the most basic tasks is likely to feature a wide selection of chemicals for developing the photographs, and an enlarger machine for helping to make the print. In the process of developing the film, the photographer is likely to expose sheets of photosensitive paper to a source of light using the enlarger, which is then followed by placing the photographs in an assortment of chemicals to help with developing and bringing out the image. Solutions are used to stop the development process and to rinse the finished photograph of chemicals. On completion of the development process and the paper is dry, it is then acceptable to expose to normal light.

Since it can be quite expensive to set up a darkroom, a photographer that is just starting out is likely to use a rented room for the process of developing the images. A rented darkroom comes fully equipped with all the necessary equipment for developing the photographs in a safe and efficient manner. A professional photographer is likely to refer working in a more private darkroom in the process of developing the film photography since this is often able to offer a more peaceful environment and therefore better for being able to focus on the job at hand.

Reasons to Watermark Photos

Branding

Your watermark can be a signature, a small photo or a logo. As such, it serves to brand you. When people look at your images, they learn something about you.

If you consistently show photos that appeal to them, they’ll get to know who you are and look forward to seeing more of what you publish.

Your images may be quotes or landscapes or funny stuff that you share.

Promotion

Watermarks on your photos promote. What do you want viewers to do? Where do you want people to go? What do you want them to see beyond the image?

Answer these questions to determine what kind of watermark you should create.

You may want to promote yourself, your business, a website or blog. Make sure your watermark reflects that.

For example if your business has a logo, choose that for your watermark.

Your signature would be a good choice if you are promoting you,

I chose to create a community on Facebook, and as such, use a logo of its name, which is both personal and business.

If you use social media with its sharing capabilities, your images can potentially be viewed by thousands or million of people. That’s a lot of promotion.

Protection

Certainly if your images go viral on the Internet, you want to protect your brand, so that people cannot simply take your photo and brand it as their own.

Although this latter point isn’t foolproof, because watermarks can ultimately be removed, it has some safety benefit.

In most cases, unless you are a professional photographer, you won’t need to copyright your photos.

If you’re like me, a network marketing professional, you will be using other relevant photos you find online that you want to put your own words to or your favorites quotes.

Create Frightening Photos

Choose a subject

Ask a close friend or family member to be your model for this scary shot, and set up a camera on a tripod. Firstly, take a photo of a room which can be used as the background in the completed image. Making sure that you don’t move the camera and without adjusting the settings, ask your model to position themselves in front of the camera in the same room where you took your background image. You will need to take a photo of your model on a prop that provides a raised surface from the ground to give the impression that they are levitating. A ladder, table or chair will provide you with the effect you need, but ensure safety precautions are taken at all times, and help your model on and off the platform. Make sure that you don’t move the camera when you are taking the photograph.

Make use of photo editing software

Using a photo editing program of your choice, load your digital prints and place both the background photograph and the image of your model side-by-side in the software. Using your mouse, place the image with your model on top of the original background image. Both photographs should be lined up correctly. Set the image opacity for the photograph with your model to around 50% by using the opacity tool in the control panel of the software program. Experiment with the different settings.

Use filters and layers

To create a ghostly image of a person levitating, use a layer mask from the control panel of your software program and use an eraser or brush tool to cover-up the prop that you used in your second photo. Because you used the opacity tool in the previous step, the area which contained your prop should be filled with the underlying background image to create a scary levitation effect. Save your image and send your levitation photography to family and friends.

Colors Theory

Primary Colors

Many of us know about the primary shades, we all have learnt about them in school. They are the colors that can’t be made by mixing two colors, they are primary colors of a color wheel. While a standard artist color wheel makes use of red, yellow and blue as primary colors many photographers think regarding RBG (red, blue and green) color spectrum.

Secondary Shades

Secondary colors are a result of the mixing of primary colors. On the photographers color wheel, these shades are orange, purple and green.

Tertiary Hues

Tertiary colors are created by combining the secondary and primary shades. For instance, when using the first yellow, blue and red hues wheel mixing the orange and red or green and blue would result in tertiary hues.

Complementary Shades

One of the most common links is between the additional hues. Complementary colors fall in the opposite from one another on the color board. These colors develop high contrast and grab the viewer attention.

Analogous Colors

Analogous hues are next to each other on the wheel. Making use of similar shades create a more harmonious shade scheme and low-contrast.

Monochromatic Hues

The monochromes are usually referred as black and white; monochromatic shades are made from hues of just one hue, for example, several different tones of blue. Monochromatic shades are low in contrast and usually create a soothing look.

About Photographing Clouds

The use of filters can help the photographer emphasize these differences. A UV filter is great to cut through haze and improve clarity. A polarizing filter is perhaps even better to isolate the different areas of the clouds and highlight their features. When doing black and white photography, a red filter is a plus to use to make the clouds really stand out and appear bolder.

A good time to photograph cumulus clouds is both before and after a storm. In California where I live, high clouds will normally precede an approaching storm front followed by more and more cumulus clouds as the cloud cover drops lower and the clouds thicken. At anytime during this process great opportunities for photographs exist. Here in California and other desert areas during the summer monsoonal rain season, thunderheads will often begin to build up over the mountain areas. These gigantic cloud formations stretching thousands of feet into the air are particularly beautiful to photograph as the sunlight plays upon their different features.

Always use a study tripod so that there is no camera movement. The evening is a great time to photograph thunderheads as the light at this time will give them a beautiful reddish glow. Also, scattered clouds at just the right particular height will take on some beautiful warm red to fuchsia colors. I love to photograph clouds that are categorized as “linear ventricular”. These clouds are long horizontally and have the shape of a “flying saucer”. They too are often found during the monsoonal season hanging over mountainous regions.

Tips For Flattering Photos

Break the Rules

Rule of the thirds implies that the subject can be on the either of the frame but never in middle. Though it does make for a good pose there are no strict rules in photography. If you think that a photo will look good with the subject in middle then go for it. Let there be no boundaries to stop you from taking your perfect shot. You’ll be surprised to see that the most striking photos come from bending or breaking the rules.

Eye contact

Have the subject make eye contact with the camera while holding the camera at their eye level. This simple trick can make the subject seem more alive and will get you an engaging photo. But there are other things you can try to make the shot more alluring. The ‘off camera look’ has the subject focusing on something outside the frame. Any emotion from the subject will intrigue the viewer as to what is making the subject look surprised or sad. Another great idea is to have the subject focus on something within the frame of the camera. If there are two subjects, let them face each other or just a glance. This will create a story or relationship between the two subjects and a second point of interest for the viewer

Watch the light

Morning and the time before the sunset is the best time to take photos. The orangey glow makes the subject look better, unlike the midday sun that makes any imperfections on the skin stand out. The light is softer which makes the colors stand out. There are numerous ways you can use lightening to your benefit. Side lightening or backlighting obscures the subject but makes their frame more prominent. Silhouetting also hides your subject’s feature that looks extremely attractive. Use flash even during the day. This forced extra light will fill in the shadows of the midday sun.

Use Props

Right props can enhance the shot and give it more meaning. Focus might shift from the subject, but the prop will add a depth to them. The prop can be something personal or anything that might add fun to the shot. Personal props make the best kind of props, the hidden meaning is only evident to the subject but the right photographer can make the viewer also feel its importance. Make the shots timeless so that they might not seem outdated on the mantelpiece 10 years from now like a chair in the middle of anywhere makes for a very good shot.

Be mindful of Limbs

Arms straight down the sides makes arms look larger and gives a dull look. The static appearance doesn’t add much to the photo so it’s better to position arms in a way that shows movement. Similarly, when the subject is sitting and their legs is showing, show more fluidity in the pose. With male subjects, be careful of poses that might seem feminine.

About Photographing Slot Canyons

In slot canyons, the best light occurs mid-day, on cloudless sunny days. The best light is not direct sunlight hitting the walls of the canyon, but rather “reflected light”. Reflected light occurs when bright, harsh, direct sunlight hits a canyon wall and reflects that light onto another wall. This is the type of light that produces rich, saturated glowing colors in slot canyons. It is very important to keep even a peep of sky, or direct sunlight out of your photos, as this produces blown out areas of your image, and can produce a nasty “haze” near those areas. Naturally there are exceptions to this rule, but they are uncommon.

The Zion Narrows, and Antelope canyon are significantly different canyons. The Zion Narrows is the largest slot canyon in the world! Carved by the power of the Virgin River, the narrows is a canyon where you will be hiking in the river itself. Antelope canyon is a dry canyon unless there has been recent rainfall. Due to the narrowness of this canyon, and having a large water gathering area for water during the monsoon season, this canyon has been carved by powerful raging flash floods. Due to the differences in these canyons, camera settings can vary with each.

To obtain professional quality images, a tripod is required. As a general rule, setting your ISO to 100 will give you crisp, printable images. In canyons, typically you want to have the entire scene in focus, no blurring of the foreground or background (again this is a general rule). In order to obtain such depth, set your aperture to a higher number. F16, F18 or F22 are useful. From there, read your camera’s internal light meter and adjust your shutter speed in order to get the appropriate exposure. These settings are a very safe bet for Antelope Canyon.

The Zion Narrows presents situations where controlling your shutter speed is the 1st priority. Due to the beautiful flowing water in relation to this magnificent canyon, controlling what the flowing water looks like plays a major role in the artistic outcome of your image. Good shutter speeds range from 1/2 second to 1/10 second. This requires some experimentation with different speeds of water flow, and the effect you are hoping to achieve. After setting the shutter speed, I would adjust my aperture, and then the ISO. This can be a tricky balance. Having an experienced mentor in this situation is helpful.

Slot canyons are amazingly beautiful, awe inspiring and is a candy land for any level of photographer. Keep in mind, during rainy periods, slot canyons are very dangerous due to flash flooding. Be sure to do your research on flash flooding and weather conditions before you enter into these canyons. There have been numbers of fatalities in both of these canyons.

Tips for Event Photography

Take Some Pre-event Shots

You may want to capture some shots of the main room before the guests arrive. The event planner will be able to use these shots in order to sell their business services down the road. The pictures will be very valuable for your client and they may hire you again for your services. Therefore, taking some shots before the event starts is a stroke of genius and it will help you grow your business.

Don’t take too many photos

While you may want to take more shots than you need, taking photos unnecessarily is not a good idea. Taking amazing photos is the goal, but make sure you don’t spoil the mood of the guests. The attendees should be able to have a great time and it should be your priority.

The attendees would love to be photographed, but make sure you remember which ones you have had photographed. After all, you don’t want to take photos of the same guests over and over again.

Be Quick

You have to be really quick when taking photos. For instance, while taking photos of candids, make sure you take three frames and then move on. Taking more than three shots may annoy the guests. Moreover, when taking photos during a panel discussion, make sure you takes lots of photos with your DSLR. Although close shots look great, you should make sure that the faces of the guests look clear in the photos.

Edit Carefully and Deliver Fast

While editing, you may have to delete half of the shots. Usually, the shots are good but some shots may be a little better. Moreover, if you have taken three frames for the same pose, you may have to delete two of the frames. In other words, you want just the cream of the crop.