Your home for everything artistic

Posts tagged ‘photography tips’

Three tips for working with photography in low-light conditions

Whether you are a professional, advanced armature or just a photography enthusiast, chances are that we’ve all been there – working to make the best shot we can in low-light conditions. It’s no secret that this can be highly challenging and frequently frustrating.   And while there are many things that one might do to help to improve his or her photography in these less than perfect conditions, here are three basic suggestions that may help on their own or at least get you going in the right direction.

low light bridge above water

Use a low F-stop

In low-light conditions you should probably ALWAYS set your aperture to the lowest possible (or close) F number that you can. This will maximize the like that comes in. This has very few drawbacks except for the fact that it can possibly hurt the crispness and detail in the background. In fact, this is one of the simplest things to do to create an intentionally blurred background effect.

Set you camera to a high ISO

Depending upon the type and model camera you use, you may have more or less flexibility here. The lowest ISO options are typical 100 or 200 which can be used in well-lit locations. However, when you increase that number in your settings to say, 400, 800,l 1600, 3200 or more, you increase the camera’s sensitivity to the light that is available to you. The danger here is that the more you move up the scale, the more likely your image will be to have undesirable noise. So, you should be sure to see how your own camera handles increases in ISO as well as take the time to look into getting some form of noise reduction tool.

Try a slower shutter speed

The longer your shutter remains open, the more light that reaches your camera’s sensor. So, opening your shutter for a longer period or time can offset some of the problems with poor lighting. The challenge here is that the slower the shutter speed, the more chance for blur from any moving (even slightly) objects. This can also result form your own minor movements while holding the camera. That being the case, it is recommended that when you slow down the shutter, you should probably use a tripod to stabilize your camera and keep it from moving.

One last bonus tip…

In the event that you don’t already know this, it is a good idea to avoid using the on-camera flash whenever possible. This is because it only has a range of about 6 feet or so and thus is irrelevant for anything in the distance and it also tends to generate harsh light and shadows.

Good luck!

Editing disasters – what not to do to your photos

As a general rule…

every photographer edits his or her photos to some extent. Sure once in a while a shot here or there will turn out just fine from the start  but that’s pretty rare. And while most serious photographers use a program like Photoshop to make adjustments to their photos, the tips below will apply to just about every possible editing tool.

Let’s think of it this way:

Hollywood celebrities and those with substantial incomes who spend a lot of time in the spotlight sometimes get a little “work done” aka plastic surgery. However, sometimes it’s done well and other times it can be a horrific disaster. The same can be said for these two approaches to re-working your images.

1. Exposure

Say you take a picture you love but notice that the image you bring up on your computer screen is darker than you had hoped. What’s a shutterbug to do? – why, bump up the exposure of course. Not so fast! While this is an easy and effective technique, you have to be careful. If you turn up the exposure too far, the washed out effect that will result can look unappealing and amateurish. Unless you are going for an intensely blown out scene intentionally for artistic purposes, this is a very bad idea.

over-exposed bad photo

Blown out shot from excessively high exposure.

well exposed photo

A well exposed photo from my work with Three Rivers Creative Arts.

2. Saturation

Having the pleasure of working with a number of alternative models, I know that photographers like myself love to showcase subjects with colorful hair or body art. When attempting to do this, or to enhance colors in less than vibrant skin, muted sunsets, animal coats or  anything else, you might opt to increase the saturation. Again, good idea, but keep it to a minimum. While a little saturation can add some wonderful coloration, too much can actually bring out the noise in a shot, redden this skin too much in people and simply make things look less realistic.

over-saturated photo

Unrealistic looking shot resulting from excess saturation. 

One of my well saturated shots from a shoot for Twisted Angels.

The bottom line:

No matter what the subject matter might be, the same rules apply – by all means kick the exposure and saturation up a notch, but be careful about how much.

I usually avoid flash in photography but…

While in most cases, the use of flash in photography is actually unnecessary at  best and possibly even destructive at worst. Pop-up flashes often result in harsh and unflattering shadows or a blown out, over exposed shot. And while it is harder to make this sort of mistake with strobe lighting units, some people overuse these as well. One such example would be taking them along for mid-day outdoor shoots.

But on occasion, using flash can be just what is needed to get the desired effect.

One such example, intentional and artistic shadowing.

Here are two simple and interesting ways to pull off this approach.

1. Place the subject of the shot close to the background -

The closer the two are, the easier it becomes to produce intended harsh but artistic shadows.

shadow of a skateboarder

2. Go projector-style -

Place an object that can cast a shadow in front of the flash unit and shoot away.

shadows in fashion photo

Have fun!

Easy and effective method of working with a green or blue screen

In general, I’m not a big fan of changing the backgrounds in photos. In most cases, it is a rather complex undertaking and I honestly don’t believe it is worth the time or effort. But, with that being said, there is an exception to every rule, even this one.

Start with a green or blue screen

As opposed to attempting to work with a busy background, staring out with either a green (or the less common blue) screen will make things a lot more manageable. While both of these tools are specifically designed to allow for background adjustments, you should still be careful to avoid subjects with colors that are very close to those of the screen itself.

using a green screen

 

A couple against a basic green screen.

 

Using Adobe Photoshop (if you use another editing application, you will need to determine if you have a similar tool available), select the magic eraser tool and click anywhere in the background to remove it. Note that on some occasions, you may have to clean up any background color that does not get erased on the first attempt.

magic eraser tool

The magic eraser icon.

changing the background of a photo

 

After removing the background.

 

Last but not least, open the photo you want to use as your new background. Simply drag your adjusted image over onto your new background and there you have it!

 

leaves in park in fall

Finished result.

 

When shadows in photos aren’t a bad thing

It is nearly impossible to eliminate all shadowing in a photograph.

As a general rule of thumb, especially when shooting portrait photos, soft shadows are acceptable and can enhance an image while harder shadows tend to have a negative effect. This is typically the case, but not always.

Take for example the images below:

The first is a sample of a photo with harsh shadows and the second is one with a softer shadowing effect.

image shaodws

soft shadows

However, in some cases a unique use of dark shadows can add for a wonderful aesthetic fell.

See the following images for as examples:

The first is an amazing shot by a talented photography names Hannah Wessman. The second is a shot I took which is published in my second or two poetry books along with one of my poems.

beautiful shadows

model in the shadows

What lesson can we take from this? While there are rules in photography as in any art form, sometimes they can be bent or even broken and produce an amazing finished product.

Quick tips for shooting images of fireworks

With tomorrow being the 4th of July or Independence Day in the United States, fireworks will be exploding in the night sky from coast to coast. And if you want to catch them in photos, or do the same for any other fireworks display, you may find that getting the shot you want might be a bit of a challenge.

In fact, I have heard it said that taking quality photographs of fireworks is one of the most difficult tasks for the average photographer.

So, if you’re inclined to pull out your camera when the sky bursts with beautiful trailing flames, here are a few things that just might help you capture the shot you want.

1. Set for a long exposure -

To get the cascading effect of the falling embers in your images, set your shutter to be open for a fairly long time. I’d suggest something around 2 seconds.

2. Stabilize yourself -

To account for a long exposure and avoid blurry shots, use a tripod. If you don’t have one, position your camera on or against something that will keep your movement to a minimum.

3. Use an appropriate aperture - 

Considering the sky itself will be dark, you need to let sufficient light get to your sensor. That being the case, along with the long exposure, you will want to have your aperture set to a fairly low F#. While going to low can overexpose the shot, working somewhere between say F/6 and F/10 should do the trick.

 

Creative Dreamers Photo Contest Week 2 Winner

There where several great submissions to our second week of the Creative Dreamers Photography Contest.

This past week, the theme of Nature and Wildlife inspired some wonderful shots from both amateurs and seasoned veterans of the art of photography.

Without further ado, I give you the winning entry for the week of June 17-23:

Turtle” – submitted by Kevin Yacker of Yacker Photography

Congrats on the free publicity for the win and your own personal edition of the “Making Beautiful Photography” e-book of photography tips by Jason Greiner.

Keep those submissions coming for next week’s contest with the theme being People and portraits.

Photography tips: Shooting fair skin

So, in my photography work, I shoot a lot of models. Combining that with the fact that one of my primary interests is working with goth pics, you may be able to see a pattern developing here. Basically, there tend to be a lot of pale-skinned people in front of my camera lens.

Anyone who has been working with people as subjects knows that dealing with the different skin tones in nature can present an interesting challenge, especially in the cases when you are shooting a portrait with several people of varying shades of skin.

In the case of subjects with fair skin, you have to be especially aware of:

1. Exposure issues

2. Contrast

3. The subject’s other features

The stunning Emma Stone

Exposure:

While generally a slight overexposure may not hurt or may even artistically enhance an image on occasion, this can be devastating when shooting a pale person. You will need to be sure of proper exposure and even still you may need to use some editing techniques to set off the subject’s color – like bumping up the saturation for example.

Contrast:

Clothing, accessories and the background on the shot should be arranged so as to provide a nice contrast between the skin and pretty much everything else. This makes for a nice, creative balance.

The subject’s other features:

Dark or red hair, bright red lips and intense blue eyes (see the image of Emma Stone above) can be emphasized in your shot. In doing so, you will undoubtedly enhance your overall photo.

Artistic photography and the rule of thirds

As shutterbugs, we all hope to make our photos stand out among the rest. And  of course, this can be rather difficult sometimes considering we may have a limited number of subjects to shoot.

I myself a blessed with the opportunity to be among the photographers in Pittsburgh PA, a fairly large city with diverse scenery. In addition, there is no shortage of people to shoot for portrait work. But with that being said, not all of us are so lucky, and even if you are, there is still a good chance that some of the most notable scenes and people will be photographed over and over again by several different people.

Making your shots artistic can be the difference between a photo that catches the viewer’s attention and one that only earns a passing glance. One way to do so is called the rule of thirds.

Rule of thirds

This rule is mathematical i n nature but rather simple to follow.

1. Image your scene as being divided into thirds or multiples of thirds.

2. Make your focal point of the image off to the side so as to appear in between two of the groupings of thirds on either the right or the left.

3. Take your shot and that’s about it.

The animated .gif below shows a gird of thirds and how an image may look after using such a technique.

For more detailed and specific info, check out  Rule of Thirds as it appears on About.com.

Happy shooting!

Simple but important photography tip

So, you’re all set to take what could be a great digital photo.

You’re excited about it and if you’re shooting a live subject, so are they. You snap the photo and all if perfect, right? Well, not exactly.

When you look through your files you notice something you missed before and it deflates your enthusiasm. You caught something in the shot that is not what you intended.

Here’s a brief list of things you should be aware of before taking your shot to make your photos better and avoid having to do some unnecessary editing.

1. Make sure all tags are hidden

Tags from clothing or products showing up in your shots are distracting and make the work look unprofessional.

2. Unnecessary people

Say you’re shooting a fantastic piece of architecture and in the bottom of the frame you have a crowd of people. This can take away from the overall appeal of the structure itself.

3. Unflattering clothing

Unintentionally exposed bra straps, spots or stains on shirt or pants and various other issues can really kill an otherwise beautiful photo.

4. Be aware of your surroundings

If you’re in a crowd or in an active location, be careful to avoid being bumped or having someone move in front of you while taking your shot. You may have to show some patience and wait for the right moment but it will be worth it.

Tag Cloud

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 621 other followers