Use a Tripod

Consider the following image opportunities:

– a night time shot of the moon

– a beautiful church in the evening

– a stunning landscape

– making running water appear fluid

You won’t get very far without a tripod with any of these shots. You will have an image, but it will be inferior to what you could have produced.

A tripod holds your camera steady and allows you to do the following

– take long exposures without camera shake

– use maximum depth of field (smallest aperture) for landscapes

– allow movement in your shots whilst keeping the background steady

Imagine you have a wonderful building in your local town. In the evening it is beautifully lit and there are trees and bushes surrounding it giving you a perfect opportunity for a gorgeous shot when there is still a bit of light in the sky. Even at full aperture you are thinking of perhaps half a second or more for the shutter speed.

If you don’t use a tripod, whatever you do, your shot will be blurred.

The answer?

Get out your tripod. The you can choose a long enough exposure not only to take the initial shot you were anticipating but an even longer one to enable you to close down the aperture for the best depth of field.

Which tripod should you buy?

There are tripods to be had which cost only a few dollars. They look great (in the adverts). Don’t buy one! You will regret it. They are often made of inferior materials from obscure companies. The leg locking mechanisms are rough and prone to failure, the heads don’t move smoothly and the locks slip and wear out. They don’t easily take the weight of even a standard SLR camera and in unsettled conditions they will buckle, vibrate and warp. All of this will affect your final image.

A tripod is as important as the camera on it. It needs to be secure on uneven ground and weighty enough to take the camera and windy or inclement weather. The legs should lock positively and there should be no movement when they are extended. The head should be firmly seated and with positive and secure locking mechanisms. Always try one out in the store before you buy or borrow one from a friend. My golden rule is: spend as much as you can afford.

Portrait Lighting

The photographer’s first task is to evaluate the facial features and
decide which ones to emphasize and which ones to minimize. Long
noses look best from a low angle for instance, and double chins
respond well to a high camera angle, but this article will be aimed
at the effects of lighting on the human face.

It is easier to gauge the proper lighting by watching for key points.
A flattering main light produces a definite shadow that extends from
the crest of the nose to the cheek and includes all of the unphotogenic
area next to the nose. The height of the main light is determined by
the angle of the shelf under the eyebrow. Cavernous eyes are well
served by a low main light and protruding eyes can benefit from a
high main light. A second consideration is the appearance of a noticeable
catch light on the eye since a too high main light will not show a catch
light. The lower edge of the nose shadow should not touch or obscure
the upper lip line. A proper shadow is the key to a flattering ‘loop’ light.
This lighting shows most faces to good advantage, appearing both three
dimensional and youthful.

If a face seems round or heavy, side or split lighting is called for. While
a three to one lighting ratio is good for loop lighting, a softer two to one
ratio is best for split lighting. Bring the light source close to the face at a

ninety degree angle from the camera. The short side of the face will show
a shadow line that travels from the bridge of the nose down to the center
of the chin, dividing the face into a well lit half and a shadowed half. The
Fill light should be placed close to the lens and slightly above it in order
to produce a clearly defined chin line and to minimize unsightly wrinkles.
The key to watch for is the proper exposure in the highlights and enough
light in the shadow areas to give a good skin tone.

Hair and shoulder lighting is important and sets the mood of the picture.
All hair absorbs light disproportionately and must be adjusted in strength
according to the tone of the hair. Black hair may require three times the
amount of light that blonde or gray hair requires. Be careful not to allow
the hair light to spill over on the nose for obvious reasons. A broad source
is to be preferred over a spot source because the latter emphasizes the
reflective qualities of the hair rather than the true color and tone.

Photography in Snow

Snow is cold and sloppy. It this wasn’t bad enough for the photographer, there is one other problem to face: snow can fool your camera when exposing.

Snow is white and a blanket of snow shows the camera exposure meter a blanket of white. Consequently, the camera will average all the white it sees and attempt to produce an image that is “average” or “mid grey”. This means that snow turns out not white, but some dirty, murky colour.

But how do you ensure that snow on your image is the virgin white that your eyes see? It’s easy.

Because your camera sees a vision of white, it will underexpose the image leading to murky highlights and detail. You need to tell the camera to change the exposure – just dial in some overexposure. This is usually in the form of extra “stops” of exposure on your camera but you will need to refer to your camera manual to see exactly how this is done.

An overexposure setting in 1 or 1.5 stops should get your snow scene bright once more!

Skylight Filter

Skylight filters are cheap, freely available and come in various filter thread sizes. You will have little trouble obtaining one but you must ensure the correct size to fit your lens. Everyone can afford one and there will be a filter to fit every lens (or almost).

The primary function of a skylight filter is to cut down excessive UV rays which, in turn, make scenes in the distance appear to have a blue haze. The filter effectively reduces the haze and blue colour cast. Pictures of hills and mountains in the distance look clearer.

The secondary function, and why you should have one on each lens, is that of protection. Like a lens cap, the skylight filter fits over the front of the lens and helps to prevent the ingress of dirt and dust. It also protects the lens from the effects of oily and greasy fingers, stick hands and from accidental knocks. It is much cheaper to replace a skylight than it is to replace a damaged lens.

Creative With Compact

In fact, you might not even understand what these terms mean! And, it doesn’t matter.

Because if you have your camera set on “Auto” or “Program” then you will already be in a position to take excellent pictures which show your creative side.

Because, by leaving aside the worry about which settings to choose and when, you can now focus on what makes one photographer better than another – creativity. Without the worry of setting up the camera you can now concentrate on finding the image that pleases you, composing the shot on the LCD screen and selecting the right moment to take the shot.

In fact, the pressure will now be on you to get decent shots and with you mind training on “selection, composition and timing” you will be able to show the world – and yourself – that getting a great picture is not so much dependent on the type of camera you own but more on the inspirational faculties of the owner.

Info of Lens Madness

On the other side of the coin, my father has a lens for his film SLR that he bought over 30 years ago. It is ragged, chipped and squeaks a bit. But he won’t part with it. It was cheap(ish) but it lacks some of the functionality of my friend’s DSLR lens.

My friend’s lens is huge. I can see him coming in the distance simply because he had a large photo-rucksack on his back to hold all his equipment. It is a splendid piece of glass but requires a tripod or monopod for all but the brightest of conditions.

The lens is also white. It stands out and says to everyone “I am a lens to look at”. My friend loves it and gives him added impetus to get out there and take pictures.

My father, however, gets the same results – and has been doing for 30 years – with his rag-bag of assorted accessories, some of which are nearing the end of their useful life. His lens, although tatty, produces excellent results and gets HIM out in the field taking shots, just like my friend’s does for him.

My father’s lens doesn’t choose the subject for him, compose the scene and tells him at which point to release the shutter…

…. nor does my friends.

Pre-Wedding Photo Shoot

1. Finding the right person for the shoot:

Hiring the right individual or the right professional is a must as this makes the amount that you have invested in the project a success. Ensuring that the photographer is capable of taking excellent pictures will make sure that the moments will be captured with all the right focus and light considerations. Go through the catalogs and the websites of the recommended professionals before zeroing in on one.

2. Finding the right places:

A list of all those places where the shoot has to be done should be made. This list should be the guiding itinerary of the shoot. A perfect photo shoot will involve all the places where the couple met, they proposed and other picturesque places in the city or abroad.

3. Finding the right weather:

The weather must be dealt with in the proper way. A proper timing for conducting the shoot should be decided so that the background that is naturally nature should be at its best. Even the environment of indoor shoot should be arranged well before time to avoid problems.

4. Finding the right clothes:

The right type of clothing is what should be the focus of the couple. Pre-wedding photo shoots look best when the attire of the boy and girl is delicate and simple. An elegant photo shoot is what suits the couples. They like such photo shoots. Photo shoots need proper dress up and shopping for the same should be done in advance in consultation with the photographer.

5. Finding the compatibility:

In the end, it is not the technical things or the things like a dress or the places; it is the magic between the two of the persons that count. The love should be seen from the very beginning of the poses that the couple gives to each other. Being natural and not trying to be posing is the key to a photo shoot that can increase the bond sharing between the couples and leave them even more trustworthy and lovable at the end of the photo shoot. The poses will flow out naturally if the compatibility between the two is well-maintained. It is a reason to celebrate.

Digital Images Safe

The images from your memory card are transferred onto your hard disk. You would think that would be enough wouldn’t you? But no, as I have told you, your hard disk will fail. Also the images still on the memory card need to be deleted ready for further image taking.

So, copy your files into another area. Perhaps a DVD or an external hard disk. Copying onto a DVD will reduce the chances of them being stolen (external hard disks are nice to steal but who wants a homemade DVD?) but who knows if the media will fail over the years or perhaps there will be a mishap? You can also copy to CDs but the capacity of CDs is far less then that of a DVD.

So, some people copy onto two DVDs or CDs. One is kept separate from the other and is only used for checking that the images have written successfully. This is the master backup. If media changes, you should be able to remake DVDs (or their future counterparts) by recopying either directly or from your computer once more.

External hard drives are cheap and large capacity (mine is 320 GB). They perform very well and are very quick in use. Also, if they are used for backup only, the chances of breakdown are minimised. But – don’t store it near to your computer – they will both be stolen.

Take a Candid

A look of defiance and unrest. You have been caught. That person has noticed that you are trying to snap them and they just don’t like it. They may even speak to you about it.

It can feel uncomfortable for both parties.

But, at other times, even when you know the subject has seen you, you can snap away unhindered. It is even, at times, as though the subject is enjoying the attention. Or perhaps, they feel too awkward to respond and complain.

In real life, most people, I believe, would enjoy seeing images of themselves. Even at times when we feel mightily unsettled, there is something special about having a record of your image to look at in future times. Images can be very emotive – reminding you of times, people and places.

But, some people can only feel this if they re in control of the process – if they give permission and if they invite the photographer in. Candids, of the type described above, means that the photographer is in control – in control of the taking of the image AND its disposal.

Camera Manual Out

It was that lovely shiny thing that you spent a lot of money on and which was something that was going to enhance your photographic experience.

Yes, the manual was there but did you ever read it? In fact, did you even pick it up other than to get it out of the way in preparation for grabbing and caressing your new piece of equipment?

Well, I’m not going to castigate you. It is natural to play with your camera as soon as you get it. I did the same. I was so excited. And, of course, most digital cameras are so simple to use that you don’t really need a manual to get started.

But, now you’ve had a play, it is time to have a look at the instruction manual. Get it out and grab a coffee in preparation for reading it.

You will learn something.

You may learn how to change your camera onto shutter or aperture priority. Perhaps switch to manual. How about setting a different white balance of changing the ISO setting? What about flash compensation, zooming, changing the quality of the saved image, self-timing, depth of field preview, anti-red eye. Then there’s changing battery types, AC control, memory card types and sizes …..