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Category Archives: Photography

Portrait Photography

Many professional photographers try to capture their subject’s true essence by using tricks. One example of this is counting to three so the subject prepares and then while they are relaxing after taking a planned photo the photographer will snap a few more unplanned photos. In most cases the subject won’t even know that more than one photo was taken but it’s usually the photos that the subject wasn’t expecting that capture their true essence.

Another more common strategy professionals use is to tell funny jokes that make their subjects genuinely laugh or smile. I’m sure that you have probably experienced something like this yourself.

CLOSE-UP PORTRAITS

These usually have the subject’s shoulders and head or less. They are framed around the face. These are the most common and best at capturing expressions and glamour shots. For these it is very important to have the light coming from a good angle. To accent wrinkles or small details you should have the light coming from the side or from the top. To create flattering pictures you should choose a cloudy day or try to create diffused light so there are hardly any shadows. Also make sure the subject is brighter than the background to reduce distraction.

For close-up portraits you should use a wide aperture (low f/stop) to make the background out of focus and therefore less of a distraction. Professionals commonly use a fixed telephoto lens that’s 90 mm or higher for portraits in order to de-emphasize the subject’s nose or any other unflattering feature. It works because at that distance the nose or any other feature does not seem closer to the camera than the rest of the face.

UPPER BODY OR MIDRANGE PORTRAITS

These are easier to capture because the subject is probably more relaxed because it’s less personal. These include a little more of the background than close-ups. These are commonly used for both single subjects and multiple subjects. This is the kind of portrait used to mark occasions such as graduation, yearbook, birthdays and other parties. The ideal lens would be about a 90 mm fixed telephoto or more wide angle depending on how many subjects there are.

ENVIRONMENTAL PORTRAITS

These are the portraits that let you into the life of a subject. They might include the whole subject in a scenario or the subject participating in some hobby that they enjoy. These are best for telling a story to the viewer about the subject. They are almost always used by photojournalists to look into the lives of interesting people. They also make great Black and White pictures.

Improving Landscape Images

Lets start off with light: There are three basic qualities of light: intensity, direction and colour.

Intensity: refers to the strength of light. If the sun is high in the sky, light can be harsh and too strong. Cloudy days bring soft and defused light.

Direction: this refers to light placement. There are three categories of light placement: front, back and side-lighting. Side lighting produces more texture between light and shade.

Colour: the colour of sunlight varies depending upon conditions and time of day. If the sun shines at the beginning or the end of the day, the colour of the light will be much warmer, and will lead to a much more dramatic scene.

Understanding natural light will develop your ability to see. You will start to see the beauty of light in a different and exciting way.

In landscape photography it is very important to take care with composition. A normal scene can be transformed by paying close attention to detail. Composition is all about how you arrange the elements in front of you.

Here are a few ideas in which you may find useful.

Lead with lines: To lead with lines into the main part of the scene will draw your viewer into your image. These lines don’t have to be straight. Lines, such as tracks, riverbanks or fences, may work successfully.

Foreground interest: Simple foreground objects can give your landscape a greater sense of depth. Use a small aperture (f/22) to keep the entire scene in focus.

Natural frames: Frame your scene with the elements all around you. This will focus attention on the main part of the picture. Trees make great natural frames.

Low Light Photography

Well, you will need a camera as well as charged batteries, that’s for sure. Also, a tripod is invaluable for exposures lasting greater than 1/30th second (1/60th in some cases). A torch, a decent lens and think about a remote shutter release – using long shutter speeds means the potential for camera shake and blurred images is even greater than usual (the alternative is to use a self timing mechanism to trip the shutter).

Night time often means scenes lit with artificial light. This will inevitably give a colour cast to your shots although this can be pleasing sometimes. There are many types of lighting (tungsten, halogen, fluorescent) and they will all come out with different colour casts – live with it! Try different white balance settings to see what effect it has on the final image.

This can be difficult. But with modern digital cameras you can see the results immediately and therefore make any adjustments straight away. Your meter may lie! Be ready to change the settings (and give a longer exposure). Night time shots can be very contrasty (bright lights and deep shadows) – the camera won’t be able to cope with the extremities of exposure so just change the settings yourself until you are happy with the results! You may need to use the “B” or “Bulb” setting to hold your shutter open for long periods.

Virtually anything! The choices are almost limitless. We suggest you consider:

Buildings

Lights

Signs

Bridges

Cars / vehicles

Lit houses / pubs / shops

People (motion blur can be a useful effect)

Street illuminations

Fireworks

Bonfires

Fairgrounds

Reflections in lakes, pools

Look around for other ideas. Don’t forget if there is any light at all, it can be turned into an image.

To calculate exposures you can use a rule of thumb – see below for rough examples of exposure times. However, each circumstance will require a different approach so you can expect to adjust things frequently!

Town / City 20 sec

Signs / Lights 2 secs

Streets 20 secs

Streets 20 secs

Churches 30 sec

Fairgrounds 10 – 15 secs

Candlelight 60 secs

Fireworks 1 – 60 secs

One interesting aspect of night photography is the recording of moving trails of light. Cars, buses, trains, bikes will have bright headlights and tail lights which will record as trails across your image if you shoot them whilst they are moving with a slow shutter speed of anything from 2 – 20 seconds. Try it! The same goes for fairground rides. And don’t forget that you can create your own trails with statically lit objects by zooming in or our during a long exposure or even panning the tripod head.

By taking a shot of a scene with, say, as stop of under exposure and a stop of over exposure, you will be more likely to capture an image that is correctly exposed. Bright lights tells the camera to underexpose. Many cameras will have automatic exposure bracketing to allow this to be done with minimal fuss! You are trying to record some detail in the shadows without burning out the highlights. If you take an image of a scene at 4 second exposure, take the same scene with 8 seconds and 2 seconds. In this way you will be likely to get the exposure you are looking for.

Night photography “feels” different. Different sights, different sounds, different locations and different camera settings. Nobody is an expert – we all have to experiment. With modern digital cameras this is something that can easily be achieved.

Great Shots of Your Cat

Now is the time to improvise and innovate! The family cat (or dog for that matter) can be a source of some great shots (and yes, you can still take and keep the usual pretty pictures as well).

Next time you want to take some decent images of your cat, think of the following:

– the cat hiding behind something, ready to pounce

– an action shot, the cat going scatty or engaged in an activity

– a close up – get in real close, use macro or close up lenses (and a reflector)

– a studio shot – keep the background plain and contrasting

– employ a human to be part of the shot – the cat walking around stockinged feet or boots

– get a prop – a chair, bed, shelf, bench

– focus on detail – fur, eyes, teeth

– combine the cat with something appropriate but unusual – a gigantic ball of wool or a large fluffy mouse

– cats and babies are really cute!

– get the cat to sit with an unusual, contrasting, object – on a cycle, with some fruit, in the bath

I am sure you can think of more. Take lots of images so that you get one that looks the part.

Cats are willing participants and readily available. And you don’t need to go outside!

Vacation Photos

TAKE LOTS AND LOTS OF PICTURES.

With a digital camera you can always erase the photos you don’t want. Take pictures of anything you find interesting and try to focus on some of the details such as an attractive doorway or a colorful market, not just panoramic scenes or major landmarks. Let your pictures tell a story by creating a visual diary of your trip. Include street scenes, interesting signs, people you see along the way. For variety take both vertical and horizontal pictures.

READY FOR YOUR CLOSE-UP?

When taking people shots, don’t make the mistake of standing too far away. You want to be able to recognize the people in your photos. Get close enough so you can see the expressions on your subjects faces. Zoom in on individuals or capture them from the waist up. Pictures are often more interesting when you can catch people at candid, un-posed moments. In posed photos, try to incorporate some of the background into your shot. Try snapping from interesting angles rather than simply head-on.

USE YOUR FLASH

When photographing in bright sunlight, setting your camera’s “fill” or “forced” flash is very helpful, particularly when photographing people. Brilliant sunlight often makes people’s faces look harsh, casting dark shadows under the eyes and accentuating wrinkles. The daytime fill-in flash will soften the lighting and make the images more flattering. Your family and friends in the photos will thank you!

EDIT AND ENHANCE YOUR FAVORITE SHOTS

When you get home you can edit, crop and enhance your favorites using photo editing software such as Foto Finish, Ulead or Photoshop Elements. Consider adding drama to your images by turning some of your color photos into black and white or sepia tones and then upload all your images to an online photo printing service like Ofoto or Shutterfly for fast and convenient prints. You can take your best snaps and use your photo editing software to create a photo calendar or make photo cards for personal notes, or to email your favorites to family and friends.

Most of all have fun with your camera!

Nice Shot of Baby

First, let me advise you never to use a wide angle lens for a baby picture. The foreshortening of a 28mm focal length lens will be sure to (1) make the baby’s nose appear larger, (2) reduce the size of their ears to looking smaller and out of shape, and (3) probably cause an overexposure of the image due to the closeness of the flash to the subject. One the other hand, a short telephoto lens (100mm) will reproduce our angel’s features to a normal proportion, all of his (or her) different parts presented in the proper ratio. Even a small distortion of proportion has a definite (and detrimental) effect on the features.

While I’m not excluding taking pictures at night with a flash, I am recommending that you wait for daytime for that wonderful light coming from your window. Turn off the flash or cover it with two layers of white handkerchief. A setting of 200 ISO should be sufficient for a good exposure. The bottom pane is the one with the most photogenic light, so if you can, close off the upper part. Try raising the mattress in the crib so that you can see the baby without looking down. Soft light from the sky or light reflected off clouds produces a three dimensional rounded effect especially flattering to a baby’s face. If the room is furnished in dark colors, place a reflecting surface near the baby to fill in the shadow. Use a tripod or other support and shoot away.

Try different angles: a high angle looking down, a position on the opposite side of the crib (turn it around), or even through the bars. Avoid using the macro setting on a zoom lens, since this setting most often incorporates a wide angle focal length. Find the closest distance possible on your short telephoto lens (85mm – 120mm) and stand at that distance. A two diopter close-up attachment lens could halve this distance for super close-ups.

For twins, try to have one sit and one stand. The diagonals produced in the composition introduce a dynamic note to the picture. Important is to have all eyes pointing in the same direction. A squeeze toy helps.

Get Closer to Subject

Alternatively, instead of moving closer, use the Optical Zoom of your camera to get a close up shot. Don’t use your Digital Zoom as it will degrade your image quality.

When taking shots of family and friends, most people place the subject’s full body in the frame, or place head and arms in the shot. Instead, fill the frame with your subject’s FACE only – particularly if they are smiling or are in a moment of reflection.

Why does this work? With less clutter in the image, there’s less to draw the eye away from the main subject of your photo. Also, human faces (particularly children’s faces) are something we all feel pleasure looking at.

If you can’t get close enough when you’re taking the shot, you can zoom in later using photo editing software – crop out everything except the subject’s face and see what a difference it makes.

When using the viewfinder for close shots, be careful of Parallax. Because the viewfinder is not at the same position as the camera’s lens, centering the subject in the viewfinder may mean it is not centered for the lens resulting in an off-center final picture. Most digital cameras now come with an inbuilt LCD screen. You can eliminate this problem by using the LCD – which shows you what the lens sees – rather than the viewfinder.

Choose The Digital Camera

If you really want to learn photography, you will need a good reliable digital camera. The camera must be able to shoot in both fully manual and fully auto modes. Shutter speed, aperture, focus and white balance are just a few of the manual settings you will need to adjust on higher end digital or SLR cameras. If you buy a cheap camera with only auto features, don’t expect to be able to create high quality photos. In terms of digital photography, you pay for what you get.

There are great lower end digital cameras on the market. All major manufactures such as Sony, Canon and Olympus all provide digital cameras for the average photographer. Fuji for example, Fuji released the FinePix 3.2MP Digital Camera this year. At less than $200, this camera provides great quality at a fraction of the cost of a higher end unit.

Of course if you are a more advanced photographer and need something a bit more high end, there are some great digital and SLR cameras available. Perhaps the greatest surprise of 2004, was the Digital Rebel from Canon. Equipped dozens of EF lenses, fully manual settings and boasting a 6 mega pixel resolution, the Rebel is a great starter camera for the photography enthusiast.

So before you go out and buy your new digital camera, ask yourself what you will be using it for. If you’re just going to use it for “point and shoot,” you likely have no need for a high end unit that has 8 mega pixels and a slew of manual functions. There is a wide range of cameras out there that meet every ones needs. With a bit of research and patience, you will find the perfect digital camera.

Flash Photo Albums

Wondershare Flash SlideShow Builder is a powerful easy-to-use utility to create stunning Flash slideshows from your still photo images, complete with music, photo motion & transition effects and special photo album templates. With this Flash Slideshow software, you can take your own digital photos and music, and easily turn them into an engaging Flash slide show or Flash photo album in minutes to share your special memories with your friends and family.

>> Key Features:

1) A wide variety of slideshow transition & photo motion effects for your customization.

2) Real time and flexible preview on every step.

3) Rich and professional templates to make your slideshow more lively. And they are absolutely free for you to download.

4) Integrate with photo browsing function.

5) Reduce Flash File Size.

6) Photo Editing and Optimizing.

7) Publish your Flash slideshows as SWF, HTML, EXE file for easily sharing.

8) Very easy to use, no Flash experience required!

Album Creator Pro

Album Creator Pro is the unique software to create digital photo album in Flash and HTML image galleries. It combines plenty of useful features such as an incredible amount of customization, intuitive interface, FTP support, possibility to enhance your photos. And on the top of that we give you a great chance to be truly creative – to compose albums with exclusive design.

Amara Flash Photo Slide show

Amara Flash Photo Slide show Software is a Flash album creator to help the web designer to create and design animated Flash slide-shows. The software is compatible with all popular graphic file and audio formats. Amara Flash Slideshow Builder allows you to design compelling animated Flash photo galleries from your digital camera pictures. It saves your settings. All your personal settings for pictures, URL links, colors, & sound are automatically loaded the next time. And you can also easily change and update them. Amara Flash slide show builder is extremely user-friendly. The user interface guides you through the quick and easy steps and you will understand how it works immediately.

Info of Exposure Compensation

Looking at different digital cameras, even temperately costing digital cameras have arrangements for exposure compensation settings. To explain in a bit detail, the exposure compensation allows the users to control the amount of light entering the lens. And thereby the illumination of the photograph is decided. Exposure compensation can be altered manually or by the help of a digital camera’s exposure compensation setting that lets one override the metered exposure set inside the digital camera itself. Strictly speaking, the exposure values provide an expedient line of attack to put a figure on the available light intensity and therefore exposure.

As per general norms of the users of digital cameras, certain standards exist for selecting such values. These values are specifically known as Exposure Values (EV). Selecting an up to standard Exposure Values (EV) helps maintain the details contained in dark areas of a photo, or diminish the more than usually bright areas. Again, looking from technical point of view, the Exposure Values are numbers that refer to an assortment of combinations of apertures of lenses and shutter speed respectively. They have a selective range of values, ranging between -2 to +2 Exposure Values (EV). As a general rule positive exposure settings are used for cases where bulky areas of a scene are especially bright such as taking pictures of a snow scene and also during times of photographing when the background is a good deal brighter than the focal area under consideration. Also, negative exposure settings are used for cases where bulky areas of a scene are especially dark and also during times of photographing when the background is a good deal darker than the fore area under consideration.

One point that is worth noting is that light meters cannot see color. They deliver every scene as 18% middle gray and become accustomed to the exposure accordingly. And most digital cameras will allows a photographer to compensate the exposure by 1 to 2 EV plus or minus in 1/3 or 1/2 stop increments. A very important realization for any photographer is that the right exposure is only “correct” in the eye of the photographer; Exposure Value compensation can also be used as a creative tool.