April 26, 2011

{Photo tips and tricks}

I've had a few people ask me if I would share some tips and techniques that I use in my photography... which I admit is very flattering.  But I really don't feel all to qualified to do so since I have no formal training. I kind of just make things up as a go along and learn from trial and error along the way.  But I hope that you can learn something from my experiences.  

terms you may already know: 
aperture - how open the hole is in your lens that lets the light through. The smaller the number the more open the hole is.  
shutter speed : how long your shutter is open. 
ISO - basically how hard you camera is working.  You can turn up the ISO so you camera will work harder (work in lower lighting) but the more you increase your ISO the grainier your photo becomes.  

Portrait Photography:
 1. For a classic portrait look try to get eye level with your subject.  Even if that means laying and squatting. 

2. Adding foreground to a portrait photo can add interest and depth of field to your photo.  This can be achieved by getting your camera very low to the ground so that you can capture some of the ground in front of your subject. 

(step foreground)
(grass foreground camera is laying in the grass)
me and camera laying in grass again.  

3. Fence foreground.  Also can be done with subject leaning against wall  and you putting your camera almost touching the wall facing subject.  Also an example of using lines to draw you eye to subject. 
(using the ground and part of bush as foreground aka me squatting down in woods with camera)

(tree as foreground) Place your subject under a tree or among some bushes while you step away and find a spot to peak through to your subject while allowing some of the branches to be in the foreground of your shot. 

 4. Capture detail.  Find an interesting detail and make it the highlight of the photo or be the entire photo itself.  I feel like doing this allows you to feel like you are back in that moment again when you are looking through the photos later. 

5. Use a different perspective.  Have your subject stay in one spot while you walk around them and take photos from different angles until you find the most interesting perspective, or just to get variance.  This also allows you to locate the best lighting angle as well.  
 This sometimes involves standing on rocks or logs and lying on the dirty ground.  

 6. Don't always have your subject smile.  Slight smiles or "serious" faces can be very beautiful and pull you in even more sometimes. 

 6. Using accessories or props can add a lot of character to a photo and make them more interesting to look at.  Plus it's cute.  I just have kid examples but accessories and props are good for any subject.

Besides just wearing props than can be a chair that you put outside for them to sit on, or a crate, or having them hold a flower or balloons...etc.  Props are something I want to invest in more... that and lenses. 

7. Try to use natural lighting as much as possible.  Move your subject close to a big open window and turn on all the lamps in that room.   Use large apertures (1.2 to 3.5) or your macro setting on your camera if you have one (usually is a flower symbol) and increase your ISO a little if you need to so that your shutter speed isn't too slow.  Which would make your photo blurry if you are your subject move at all.  
Subject is at eye level window and is directly facing the light.  (Aperture at 1.8 and ISO 400)
Window light coming in on the side of the face with a lamp on directly in front of subject.  * Catching some light reflecting in the eyes is always very flattering to subject.  Clouds can do this nicely outside as do lamps and windows inside. 

8. Play with your light source.  Don't always follow the rule that everyone tells you that you should place your subject where the sun is directly in front of them or to the side. Try putting your subject between you and the sun. You move around your subject and take a few photos to get to the spot where the sun comes through enough to highlight the subjects hair and/or frame their body.  This technique only works well with morning or afternoon sun.  (Photo above taken at 9:00 am). Or if you set your subject on the very edge of some shade and let the a little bit of outside light peak through behind you (Photo taken at edge of shade at 12:30 pm)

another edge of shade photo taken with sunlight directly behind subject at around 3:00 pm


Landscape Photography:
Landscape photography is something I would love to practice more and get into more if I had the time.  Here are some general guide lines to follow when doing landscapes... although I don't always follow the rules.
1. Use a small aperture (but I think anywhere over 5.6 is good, or set your camera to landscape mode)
2. Use a tripod or some sort of ledge to steady your shooting arm. 
3. Most interesting light is at sunrise and sunset. Sunsets right after a storm give the best cloud color. 

 4. Same goes for landscape as for portrait photography.  Think of the foreground and what you can use that is close to you  to add detail and interest to your scene. Whether that be a fence, some type of animal, a tree, or even create your own foreground by getting very low to the ground and allowing it to frame the bottom of you photo giving your photo depth.

5. Look for lines that draw your eye towards a focal point.  And I didn't really do this completely in this picture but it is almost always more interesting to put your focal point of your photo off center. 

6. Don't always put your horizon in the middle of the photo.  It depends on the scene as to which side of the horizon you want to give more attention to. If the sky has some neat stormy clouds or a beautiful sunset than you can give it more room to shine by lowering the horizon line more towards the bottom of the photo.  And if there is something more appealing in the landscape then do the reverse.

A real quick summary of my editing style and tips.  (disclaimer:  this is just my preference everyone has their own style)
1. Over contrasting your portrait photos can make the subject look harsh and spotty.  If you want to contrast your photo lighten it up a bit first by using a little fill light, and don't over do it.
2.  Decreasing the saturation just slightly can be flattering on skin tones and make the photo look softer.
3. If your editing software allows try to lighten the face slightly and sharpen the eyes and warming up the overall tone of the photo a bit.
4. Basically just do everything slightly and you will be good :).  I always find stepping away from the photo and them coming back allows you to see more clearly if you have over edited or not.

I  really felt like a professor just now, even though I am far from it!  I hope this helps answer some of your questions and that it was in some small way helpful to someone.  

April 25, 2011

{full bloom}

Drove by these yellow flowers the other day right by our house and I knew I had to take Lily there.   I wanted to go there on Easter Day with her in her easter dress, but it was cold and wet on easter (aka typical rochester day), so we went today instead. Lily had lots of fun picking off all the buds. Then I let her do her new favorite activity, which is pushing around her stroller.   She could push that thing around all day, and I'm pretty sure she wanted to.  But it started to rain and so we had to leave.... needless to say she was not a happy girl.  She usually gets over things in just a few seconds, not so much this time, lol.  Although, she wore herself out so much that she took a really long nap.  Maybe we should make this a daily activity!

April 24, 2011

{Easter Lily}

new easter toy!

pretending it's a phone, although she has never seen a phone with a cord before. 

I love it mommy!

We dyed a few eggs, well I did while Lily watched from her high chair. 
"L" for Lily :)

decorative swirlies
Had a little easter egg hunt. She was a pro.  Once she was done she brought me her basket and wanted me to hid them again. 

they had goldfish in them... mmmm. 


Then we sort of watched veggie tales "The Night Before Easter", as much as Lily would sit for.   Then we went to church. I let Lily stay with me instead of going to nursery, and she flirted with the guy behind us the whole time.  But she was really good and loved all special music.   And then we went out to lunch with the Harrisons.  Isn't Carter Luke so handsome in his Easter outfit.  He looks so british... I don't why :). Happy Easter Everyone!  

Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die" ~John 11:25 - 26