Photo Tips and Tricks Blog
Fun photo tips and tricks Blog. Hope you're having fun shooting; hope some of these ideas spark a fun photo opp of your own, or help your photos turn out a bit better.
10 photography tips for the beginning DSLR photographer.August 2012 1. It’s all about light. If it’s dark the photo probably won’t turn out very good and/or will be grainy. Not enough light makes it difficult for a photo to turn out good, but so can too much light. Take time and do some research and learn more about light, including something called backlighting. 2. It’s all about light. I think I already said that. This must be important if it takes up 2 key spots! When taking portrait photo’s outside or in bright sunlight, use your on camera flash to ‘fill in’ the light. Practice with it and it’ll work great. As an add-on here… On camera flash is ok and does work well as a ‘fill in’ flash and a quick ‘gotta get this photo’. However, a hot shoe’d flash isn’t ok, it’s awesome and you should get one. Research if your camera only works with flash units sharing the same name (Canon and Canon, Nikon and Nikon, etc). Then purchase the least expensive one that works automatically with your new shinny fun toy. 3. You can shoot in Automatic mode and 90% of your photos will turn out great. But if you really want to get to know your camera and what it can do, switch to manual and learn about Aperture, Shutter speed and ISO. BTW, all three of these adjust the amount of light that reaches the digital sensor (refer to #’s 1 and 2 above), but they do so much more. …it’s so easy to practice and learn with digital cameras. We used to shoot hundreds of shots on B&W film, run inside and develop, look at the negatives and compare with our pages of notes from every shot (apertures, shutter speeds, ambient conditions, etc) and see if anything turned out. Today we push the shutter button and wait a half second to view the shot on the beautiful, full color, LCD screen. 4. Move it from the middle. Research ‘Rule of Thirds’. 5. Know your camera. # 3 above talked about shooting in manual which makes you learn about light, depth of field, and grains. But know your camera. Know that if you push that picture taking button thing down half way (on most camera’s) the focusing motor will be enacted and will focus on the spot(s) you’ve told it to. That means you need to learn about the focusing modes, levers and settings. 6. Join Facebook and like many good photography ‘tip’ pages. Some good ones I know are: Photography tips Improve Photography Photography (field of study) Nikon (camera/video) oh yeah, and Natures Calling The Shots 7. Speaking of Facebook. PLEASE don’t upload every photo you take, and don’t sent friends (via email) every photo you shoot of them. People will look at your photo’s much more often and comment nicer on them if you only post/send a few, the good ones, the more unique ones, etc. Are you happier when you are handed a paper with 2 paragraphes, or 2 pages? Same thing with family photo’s; take hundreds of photo’s but only show/share the best. 8. Hand the camera to other’s. Put it on Auto and let them have fun. In other words, make sure you are in some pictures with the spouse and kids. 9. If your camera shoots RAW, then shoot RAW. (see #10) 10. Don’t forget to post-process. Unless you are a photo-journalist capturing a car crash or a demonstration in town square, there is nothing that says you can’t change the colors, adjust the light balance, correct ‘Red-Eye’, fix a pimple here or there, or even add/remove people from photo’s. There are many good photo editing programs out there for under $100; and a few for $1,000. Pick one you like. Most offer a 30 day free trial: then watch some tutorial video’s on YouTube. If you capture images in RAW, using a good photo editing program that can work with RAW is fantastic. It can take a dark photo and change it to award winning captures. Again, search Google or YouTube for shooting in the RAW… but keep your clothes on!!! OK, so I have to do this. I have to add an: 11th. HAVE FUN! Make sure you and your subjects are having fun. Keep your camera ready but don’t stick it in everyone’s face. Also, remember, that fancy new zoom lens you purchased, use it to stand back out of the way and take some candid shots nobody knew you were taking.
Tripod or not to Tripod, that is the question...
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Old debate: Use a tripod or not?This is a bit of a Part II, Focusing... July 2012 It is an old debate among beginning and intermediate level photographers. To use a tripod or not when you want that sharp photo? But my camera/lens has VR (Vibration Reduction)? But I can stand real still!? Many 'old' books and manuals will say - under 1/60th of a second shutter speed and you should use a tripod to keep the photo sharp. That means that at 1/60th or even 1/100th they believe you don’t need a tripod. Also, many new cameras/lenses are now equipped with some type of vibration reduction to help steady the camera. My opinion is: If you can, always use a tripod. Unless you are able to get a shutter speed of over (faster than) 1/500th of a second, use a tripod. When I started shooting back in the late 70’s, tripods were hard to come by, were a bit expensive, and were clunky (is that a word?). Now, you can purchase a fairly nice tripod at Target or your local camera shop for around $39. Another thing to think about, at least in landscape or outdoor photography, is the ‘golden hour’. This is when most professional shots are taken. The Golden hour or hours is the first few hours of light in the morning and the last few hours of light before dark. At these times the light is at an angle to the earth that provides different colors and hues, shadows, and lighting differences. It’s amazing the difference in a shot taken at high noon vs 30 minutes before sunset. The shot here is one with a tripod and one without, taken 10 minutes before sunset. I needed to get a bit more light under the bridge so the shutter was at 1/15th. Even though I have a very good quality lens with VR, it was still very blurry (as you can see). Oh yeah, and for those of you that believe they can stand real steady, or by leaning against a tree or building will be ‘good enough’. Thy this… It works best with a laser pointer but a flashlight will work. In a darkened room, hold the light like a camera (up in front of your face) and point the light at a wall 7-20 feet away. I’m pretty steady at holding a camera and I know ways to steady my body. Even with that, at 15 feet, the red laser pointer will move over 3 inches side to side and up and down. THERE IS NO WAY TO STOP YOUR HEART FROM BEATING OR YOUR MUSSLES TO STOP FIRING. It moves your body. A LOT! If you’d like to discuss further, send me a message. Thanks. Enjoy your summer (winter down under) and happy shooting. PS, for help with focusing look over my June 2012 hints on focusing.
Are you ready for that important family shot? Close up portrait?
Focus on the eyes… How's that camera work?June 2012 OK, I have to admit, I’m not a portrait photographer. But I am a Dad (and Grandfather!) who takes lots of photos of the family. …Also, on a side note, when on vacation with that family it always seems like I’m helping other families out with their portraits… One of the largest mistakes I see people make when taking family or portrait shots is the main subject or subjects in the photo out of focus. For a portrait shot to be usable, the subject’s face must be in focus. If it’s a close up you have to make sure the eyes are in focus. As humans, I don’t think anything else is reading this, whether it’s a photo of a cute girl, a family, a bird or a dog, we are always drawn to the eyes. Here’s the good news. Many new point and shoot cameras now come with some type of face recognition. If you have that, you’re pretty set. This technology is one thing that has really enhanced the world of point and shoot photography So, what if you don’t have face recognition? If this is the case, here’s one rule to remember: Keep your subject or main subject in the center of the frame (shot/photo). Why you ask… many cameras use center point focusing. That means the center of the frame will be the main focusing point. We might talk about rule of thirds at a later time; this photographic rule says never have your subject smack dab in the middle of the shot. For now I’ll just say 99% of photographers aren’t really worried about 100 year old photography rules! Another item to think about is how your camera focuses. Many ask you to push the shutter button down half way and you’ll hear the focus motor fire and see the shot come in to focus. At that point it’s time to push the shutter release button down all the way; without pushing the entire camera ‘down’. One last item. Your camera might be able to be adjusted to focus on more than just the center of the frame. It’s up to you to read the owners manual and see if you can change the focus structure, then play around with it before that critical ‘must have’ photo on vacation next week. Oh yeah, when on vacation and you hand that camera over to someone else to get that ‘must have shot of the family’, make sure you tell them about the center point and the push the button down half way to focus rule. …I was at Itasca State Park in Northern Minnesota (USA) last week. It’s the most visited state park in Minnesota, headwaters of the great Mississippi River. I was handed a camera from a young couple from New York. They stood next to the iconic post that tells us how far the river flows to get to the Gulf of Mexico. I took the shot and handed the camera back to them. We spoke a while and as they walked away she looked at the photo, looked up at her husband and said “Finally we’ll have a vacation shot that’s in focus.” That puts a smile on my face as well. Happy shooting.
Steel Wool Spinning - ..............What's Your Malt?!May 2012 I love ice cream, everyone that knows me knows that. The Malt Shop Restaurant in South Minneapolis, MN makes great malts. My son and I were practicing with steel wool spinning and decided standing in front of it would make for a fun photo opp. This is steel wool spinning. A section of 0000 steel wool, stuck in a metal kitchen whisk, attached to a 5 foot wire rope, set on fire and spun at high speed for 25 seconds. It really doesn't start on fire, it sparks nicely until it's all gone, all burned up. If you are a photographer and want to try this, great, it's fun. Tripod is a must. Set the exposure at 20-30 seconds on manual and make sure everything (with the exception of the steel wool) is VERY WET! It had been raining for 5 straight days so this was perfect timing.
Oh this stuff is fun!