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Posts tagged ‘photography tips’

Fun With Food Photography

It probably won’t come as a surprise to just about anyone out there that there are several different sub-sections within the art of photography. Of course, there are landscape photographers, those who work with portraits, people who take photos for journalist purposes, fashion photographers and many, many more. One sub-section that may sometimes get overlooked a bit is food photography.

Whether you pick up on it or not, food photography is everywhere. From art exhibits to advertisements and even the images that line the walls in your favorite restaurants, it’s hard to miss if you really take the time to notice it.

With all that in mind, here are a few tips for taking appealing images of food that will make you want to say “yum.”

Lighting

Just like in every other form of this artistic method, lighting is crucial. Obviously, you are going to want to make sure the image is bright enough to effectively show the culinary goods but not so bright as to washout the image. The more you can adjust the lighting to conform to the most natural looking colors within the food, the better. For example, if you’re lighting is in cool tones of a somewhat bluish tint, it’s probably not going to work out well for a photo of a basket of apples.

food1

Detail

One of the most appealing things about food it the detail, specifically when it comes to things like texture and shape. For example, if you are shooting a photo of an uncooked steak, the image becomes much more appealing if you can capture the marble coloration of the mixture of fat and lean. For those of you who prefer the veggies, making sure to emphasize the crumpled effect of lettuce in a salad really helps as well.

kravats07

No distractions

Just like with other photography work, if the subject of the image is surrounded by other items that can be a distraction, it takes away from the purpose and goal of the shot. Basically, the photo becomes too “busy” if you will and results in over stimulation. Do what you can to remove objects that may fight for attention with the subject from the background as well as anywhere else.

27 Mar 2008, Garnerville, New York, USA --- Assorted Junk Food --- Image by ?Envision/Corbis

Moisture

Showing a wetness or moisture in your food images can go a long way in making them stand out to the viewer as well. This is especially true when it comes to foods that are typically expected to be juicy. In many cases, food photographers make a few enhancements if you will like using a spay bottle to add some droplets on whole fruits or veggies or any number of other substances, edible or not, to meats and pancakes with syrup.

steak4

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.

 

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