Friday, August 20, 2010

Tips Taking Great Pics

I read Prudent Baby all the time and I am always finding nifty things on that site. I am very excited to be starting a Digital Photography Class next Thursday and this post just made me giddy. I haven't been making time to play with my camera, but yesterday my Mister left for an our of town trip and I took to the woods. I got some great shots of trees, leaves, and the creek...I'm gonna have to wait til I get my computer fixed before I can upload them.

25 Tips for Taking Great Photographs

I'm so lucky, I have FIVE amazing siblings! And you are so lucky because one of them, my big brother Bruce, is a professional nature photographer ...oh, and a biologist, ecologist, professor, and a bunch of other awesome stuff (hi, i write a blog)... and he is sharing with us 25 Tips for Taking Great Photographs! Every person who takes pictures should read this list: It goes beyond the usual to teach you how your camera works, the basics of composition, and the thought process behind a great photograph.

And, if you are a travel junkie like the morrison-leventhal-curtis sibs, you're in luck because Bruce is teaching a photography workshop/eco-vacation in Costa Rica this summer. It's 9 days surrounded by beautiful wildlife in the forest AND on the coast. If it wasn't for that pesky baby of mine I'd be there in a heartbeat. There's still a few slots left and it's super-affordable, you can learn more about the trip here. And visit these links to see more of my brother's beautiful photographs of Africa, Costa Rica, and the amazing American Wilderness.

25 Tips for Taking Great Photos

This list starts with some general thoughts on photography and gets into the nitty gritty. Stick with it and you will learn something.

1. It’s about the photographer, not the camera

-The photographer picks the composition, defines the exposure, and decides
the moment

-A good photographer will make art with a cheap camera; the same cannot be said for a bad photographer with expensive gear.

2. There is always something to photograph

-Photograph your kids, your pets, a flower

-Be a tourist and photograph your town

-Photograph color or pattern

3. Decide to be a photographer

-You are more creative than you think, photography can unleash your inner artist

-Imitate the work you like to start

-You don’t have to follow the rules (even these rules), invent your style

4. Pre-visualize the image before you press the shutter

-Know what you want before taking the picture

-Know your camera and lens(es) and you will know what is possible

-Make a frame with your fingers and define your composition before you look through the camera

5. Change your perspective

-Get low: Squat or lie on your belly

-Get high: Climb on a rock or chair

-Lay on your back and look up

-Your height shouldn’t define your perspective

6. Turn your camera and shoot a vertical

-There’s no rule that says a landscape has to be horizontal and a portrait has to be vertical

-Fight your tendency to be linear and shoot a diagonal

-You are the artist… you make the rules


7. The aperture you choose will define the mood you convey

-Know what the aperture is and what it does (see below)

-The aperture is like your pupil, it regulates the amount of light passing through the lens

-A wide aperture (small number) isolates your subject

-A small aperture (large number) increases your range of focus (aka: depth of field)

-Use your aperture to define your image

8. The shutter speed you choose will define the mood you convey

-Know what the shutter does (see below)

-The shutter determines how long the sensor or film will be exposed to light.

-A fast shutter speed (high number) stops action

-A slow shutter speed (small number) blurs motion

-Use your shutter speed to define your image

9. Learn exposure theory and become a creative photographer

-There is no one correct exposure, but exposure will impact the mood of your image

-The shutter speed you choose must be balanced by the aperture you use

-The contrast is true as well… the aperture you choose must be balanced by the shutter speed you choose

-Set the camera to "program" and the camera makes the decision. When you learn to choose an aperture and shutter speed you become a photographer.

10. Use a tripod

-A tripod will slow you down, but working slowly gives you time to think and plan your composition

-A tripod allows you to use a slow shutter speed.

-With a tripod you can blur action without inducing “camera shake”


11. Know your subject

-Take the time to understand your subject

-Learn how time of day and time of year influences your subject’s appearance or behavior

-Shoot the same thing in a different way

12. Be the Zen photographer

-Simplify your composition

-Isolate your subject

-Reduce tension by reducing distractions

13. The center is no place for a face

-Your subject is lost in the middle, as the human brain searches for interest around it

-Imagine that your picture is a window, divide this window into 3 rows and 3 columns

-Place your subject in the upper left, upper right, lower left, or lower right

-Your point of interest, like the eyes of a child, should be where a row and column intersect

-This is the “Rule of Thirds”

14. Make your birds fly into the picture

-Provide negative space for your movers to move

-The human brain perceives what happens next

-People walking out of pictures will cause your audience to follow the movement

-If you show a biker with a place to go, your audience will be engaged with the image

15. Use converging lines

-Brains like to take a walk, give a brain a path to follow

16. Compose with color

-We are primates and primates seek color

-Bold colors can an be a focal point that engages a viewer

17. Make your image monochrome

-Monochromes are black and white, sepia, duo-tones, or color images that appear to lack color.

-Our brains seek a pattern

-Use monochrome imagery to create a pattern or a point of focus and you will engage your viewer

18. Be an abstract artist

-Not all photographs need a definite subject

-Experiment with unfocused images, it worked for Monet

-Play with light, color and patterns

19. Rules are meant to be broken

-Sometimes a centered composition works

-High-key images are overexposed, so what!

-A person leaving the picture tells a story too

-Break the rules and you may be pleasantly surprised


20. Photography… it’s about the light!

-Photo + Graphy = Light Picture

-Shoot in the morning or the evening when the light is warm

-Warm light softens your subject and is easy on the eyes

-Midday light makes for harsh shadows and too much contrast

21. Front lighting enhances your subject

-Front light makes eyes sparkle and fills the shadows

-For front lighting, shoot with the sun to your back

-For front lighting, add a flash

22. Backlight your subject to create an impact

-Backlight makes silhouettes

-Backlight translucent subjects to show-off detail

-Backlight to increase to make an image dramatic

23. Use a flash, but…

-A direct flash can cause unflattering shadows and make your images cold.

-Crumple white or colored filter paper and use a rubber band to attach it to your flash.

-Shoot through the filter paper to soften light.

-If you can, aim your flash at the ceiling to “bounce the light.” Bounced light can soften your subject.

24. Experiment with your photography software!

And lastly,

25. Carry a camera…

-Serendipity happens… be there for it