49 Photographytips


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Photography Tips

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49 Photographytips

  1. 1. Jason Anderson, 2009 www.canonblogger.com Type TipPhotography Shoot early, shoot late - it’s the “Golden Rule” - and I think we all know about it, so this is just a reminder.Photography Shoot often - seriously, the eye does not improve creatively without practice, so get out as often as you can Shoot outside your comfort zone - Like landscapes eh? Shoot some portraiture, macros, or event work.Photography Nothing gets creative juices flowing better than a challenge. Shoot lower than you stand - or higher, whatever - take a different vantage point as that can make all thePhotography difference. Shoot with one lens - Preferably with a prime as this will force you to zoom in or out with your feet, changingPhotography your perspective and getting your skills down really rote on the focal length you chose. Shoot with a friend - nothing makes the post shoot high more gratifying than chimping your shots with aPhotography photo buddy. Shoot for yourself - often photographers are thinking of what clients want, what an editor would like to see, orPhotography what may sell well on a stock site. While it’s true that money puts bread on the table, it’s often liberating to shoot without the pressure of a paycheck. Your results may surprise you! Establish a connection - portraiture is about connecting with someone through the image. If you don’t connect with them through the camera, then there will be no connection in the print. Make sure you connectPortraiture with your subjects in some way. Get to know about them, because that knowledge can transform your vision into really beautiful works of art. Relax the subject - Connecting with your subject means they feel comfortable around you - now the key is to get them to feel comfortable in front of the camera. Many times this is much easier said than done, but when you do get them to relax, the poses will come more fluidly, and you’ll get better results. One way I doPortraiture this is to just start taking pictures of things around us as we talk and connect. The whole idea of hearing the shutter can be scary to some people, so by hearing it almost to excess and know it’s not on them can mitigate the “scary” factor. Choose a background - if you are in a studio environment, this is fairly easy, but if you are on location, keepPortraiture your eyes out for backgrounds that provide contrast to the subject. Are they wearing light clothes? Look for a dark background. What about props to give a little more meaning. Are they sports fans? Have them hold a football, or stand by a basketball hoop. Backgrounds can help give more definition to your subject. Have a purpose - try to think of reasons why you are taking the picture. Is it to record an event, or is it for a model? What about a head shot for a business executive? If you think of why you are taking the picture inPortraiture the first place, that can help give you ideas for how to compose it. For the event, it’s about the moment, while the portrait it’s about just the person, so give some thought to how to enhance their best qualities and minimize flaws. Create separation - this is crucial to giving definition to your subject while minimizing distractions. In the on- location areas, look out for things like power lines, nearby light sources and other objects that may detractPortraiture from the subject. Here it also helps to keep a wider aperture so that any distractions can be effectively blurred out of focus to minimize their impact. All about the angles - Some people have great profiles. Striking features can be accented from certain angles and can give greater impact and meaning. Shooting from below can suggest power and strength (forPortraiture the business executive), while shooting from above can minimize a body style that is more robust. Even profile shots can be stunning if done right (hint: try shadows there). Lights, lights, lights - photography is all about painting with light, so portraiture is no exception. Whether it be modifying existing light with reflectors, diffusers and shoot throughs, or creating your own light withPortraiture strobes and flashes positioned off to the side or from above, lighting can create a wide variety of moods and bring images to life, especially in portraiture! Watch the eyes - for any subject, whether human or animals, we like to have the eyes in focus. It’s just the nature of people to look at the eyes in a subject, so make sure the eyes of yours are tack sharp. Seeing aPortraiture persons eyes have often been said to be a mirror to their soul. You can get playful eyes, soulful eyes, sad eyes, sparkling eyes, weepy eyes, tear-stained eyes, angry eyes, hungry eyes, passionate eyes… (you get the eye-dea!) Page 1
  2. 2. Jason Anderson, 2009 www.canonblogger.com Clean that skin tone - this means make sure that you are keeping the tones in check. If the skin is too Portraiture orange or too blue, add or remove some flash or ambient light. Here the key is in white balancing your images. Take along a grey card (even something as small as a 3×5 card can work) and you can set your white balance off that - your skin tones will be spot on if you do - and save you tons of post processing time. Less is not always more - let’s all just admit it, it’s a digital world. Those pictures are really just data packets and with data being as cheap as it is, we can afford to take more shots. This can help with blinkers, and if Portraiture you want to try several poses or wardrobe changes, or lighting changes, or location changes, or group changes (think weddings). or weather changes (think sunlight versus rain, versus cloudy), or….I think the gist is clear again here. Pack a large plastic ziploc or other sealable bag in with your camera gear. When it’s windy or there’s lots of dust around, you can change your lenses from inside these bags to minimize dust. Additionally, it serves as Gear an additional layer of protection should mother nature decide to dump a deluge of water on you with little warning. (I keep several sandwich bags in my pack for protecting things like CF cards, wide angle lenses, TC’s and other items. If you must change lenses in the field, keep the body of the camera pointed down so as to prevent dust from Gear falling into the opening (dust won’t wall up…). Keep a notepad and pen in your pack, in case you find a location that you want to remember, meet someone and want an email or phone number, or to get an address to send prints or perhaps a resume to! On theOrganization same note, having some business cards and model releases handy for handing out and in case you have a willing model…Organization Turn your CF cards around backwards when full, so you always know which ones are used versus unused. Buy a car converter for AC to DC. This way you can charge your batteries while en route to a shoot. They’re only like $20 at Wal-Mart or Radio Shack and can add a certain peace of mind that you are going Gear into your shoot with as much of a charge on your portables as you can get. (Just make sure you add the battery chargers to your packing list…) Speaking of packing lists - make one! This can help ensure you leave with everything you brought to aOrganization shoot. I’ve blogged about this before, but it’s been a while, so bears mentioning again. Gear Pack a micro fiber cloth for wiping off lenses in a pinch. (Better a microfiber cloth than your shirt!) These can be begged off any eyeglasses store (try Wal-Mart, they are pretty liberal with handing these things out..) Need a better way to store your gear at home? Try shoe boxes. You can get them for a buck a piece from a dollar store - makes a great way to compartmentalize short lenses from long lenses, accessories, flashOrganization equipment, battery chargers, CD media, gray cards, lens cloths, etc. A few labels from a Dymo label maker and everything is neat, and easy to find in your bedroom closet! Dress in layers - weather can change, especially if you are shooting at sunrise or sunset. It can change from General cool to warm or warm to cool very quickly and having a layer to take off (or put on) can extend your shoot time before you start getting uncomfortably warm (or cold). Take a bottle of water and a granola bar in your pack! You’d be surprised how quickly you can dehydrate and how hungry you can get while shooting. I’ve been on shoots where there is so much creativity and soPhoto Walks many shooting opportunities, I can often forget to eat or drink. When things finally end you can be very hungry and or dehydrated where even a bottle of water or a granola bar (or both) can give you the needed boost until you can get to Starbucks or the house for more healthy refreshments! Magazines - Magazines are always looking for fresh images for stories. Get yourself a copy of The Photographers Market (most recent publication year is 2008)), and find out the magazines that match your Selling interests most and send them the appropriate information as specified. Don’t be dejected if at first you don’t garner much interest. There are many others like you also submitting images regularly and it can take a while. Page 2
  3. 3. Jason Anderson, 2009 www.canonblogger.com Stock Photography - Stock photo sites like Getty, iStockPhoto, Crestock, and a host of others offer a great venue for tapping into the enthusiast photographer market. You simply create an account, upload some sample images, and once you get enough “approved” you are off and running. The problem here is that your Selling images are being sold for mere pennies (in your pocket). So, in order to generate sufficient revenue, you need to have hundreds upon hundreds of sales. In turn this means you need a portfolio of at least that many images available to get any kind of penetration into the stock market genre. This is becoming quite crowded, but if you are talented, and have the library - upload away! Consignment - An often untapped resource is local restaurants and businesses. Go talk to small business owners whether it be a restaurant around the corner, a body shop, or other such enterprise, and offer to decorate their walls for free. In exchange, you get free exposure and possible image sales. Often the business owner will want at least a cut on the profits, so don’t be shocked if they ask for it. It also helps to Selling have several images all ready to hang, so go prepared with at least 5 images in 3 different sizes. I would suggest a 5×7, 8,10, and 11×14 matted and framed out to 8×10, 11×14, and 16×20 respectively. Be sure you are also prepared to be told “No.” Persistence and self-confidence here is key. It also helps if you scope the place out ahead of time. You can do so by eating a meal there, having some auto work done, or going in for a cup of coffee (whatever, you get the idea). Medical Offices - Here is a real sleeper that can pay off in spades. Doctors offices love to have fine art on the wall - it can sooth anxious or sick patients. Even if they have a set of artwork already displayed, it never hurts to ask. Simply offer a rotation for the next month, or 2 months, or 6 months, and be prepared to offer a Selling portion of image sales to them (doctors like to make money too - or so I’ve heard!). Also, don’t limit yourself to the traditional image of a doctor’s office - go see dentists offices, orthopedists, optometrists, orthopedics, etc. As always, be prepared and quick - these guys (and gals) make money off their time, so the more time you spend trying to convince them it’s a good idea, the less time they spend seeing patients, and the less time they are making money. Go in, be quick, be professional, wow them with great images, and get out. Banks are another great resource. Try seeing if your local branch will let you set out cards on display, or perhaps hang an image or two. Some banks even offer this service to local businesses. WHen I was in SC, my local bank had one day every week where a local business was featured. I put my cards out, and once or Selling twice I even had my info up on display. It generated some interest and even a few gigs. Once I found out about our move to Colorado, I stopped though, for obvious reasons, and once we’re more settled down here I’l be doing the same. If you’ve got some blown highlights or high contrast pictures that just aren’t working - try a black and whitePhotography conversion. Add a vignette and you may actually have a shot worth keeping. In a pinch, your on camera flash is still a flash…granted not the best one, but with even a piece of regular Lighting copy paper in front of it, you can diffuse it and spread the light a little more. It may not be ideal, but better than the glaring brightness of direct flash light. Lighting In tough lighting and no gray card? Stick your hand out. Yup, it may not be the best metering source, but your skin can be used to neutrally balance a shot. From there you can find the rest in post process… Back story – provide some background on how you got the shot. Give it a personal meaning or significance for the viewer. Often times connections with imagery are because of a personal tie to it – and if you givePhotography people a hint of the “who, what, where, when why, how” element of your photos that you share, it can increase the impact. Just remember, keep back stories short – if it takes two pages to set the stage, the show will almost always disappoint. Take a look at the backgrounds in your photos. Are there any elements there that draw your eye? If so, that is likely a detractor. Keep backgrounds simple. If shooting a lot of family members at a dinner, keep the lower edge of your camera above the table line to avoid the distraction of glasses, plates, food,Photography centerpieces, etc. Likewise, look where people are. Is it a crowded subway or is it a meadow of daisies? Either can serve to enhance or detract from your image because the background can take emphasis away from the subject or it can help focus on your subject. Generally speaking, the simpler the background, the better the picture! Page 3
  4. 4. Jason Anderson, 2009 www.canonblogger.com Backsides – in family or group shot settings, can you see anyone’s backside? If so, then their face is notPhotography likely facing the camera. We tend to prefer shots of people where we can see their faces, so if you see someone’s backside, hold off on taking that shot – get them to turn around a little. Backups – It’s been said before, but the importance of backing up your files can never be understated. When do you backup? I do it three times – on first import to the computer, after I sort through and delete out Gear unwanted images, and then after I process for print and web. Typically the latter two will be purged after a month or so of inactivity. By purge, I mean relegated to the RAID side of the house, rather than the active folder I keep on my desktop. Plan ahead. Just the mere act of planning for a shot can help. If you know you’re going to be in the mountains, take a wide angle lens with you. If you know you’re going to be at a party, take that nifty fifty.Photography Wildlife? Take a zoom! Remember, prior planning not only prevents poor performance, but it also can help you take better pictures. Learn the technical stuff. Know the technical stuff. Memorize it. There are certain fundamentals you just have to know, and by taking that sundry stuff and migrating it to a point where it’s in the back of your headPhotography and you don’t even have to think about it, then they can become tools. If you understand apertures inside and out, then you can really use depth of field to create better pictures. The same goes for planes of view, angles of view, composition rules, and all that other stuff. Take lots of pictures. As the old saying goes, practice makes perfect. So, stop reading forums, blogs,Photography magazines, books, and all that stuff from time to time (except for my blog of course!), and get out there and practice, practice, practice! Look at the pictures of others. Not only is appreciation of others work inspiring in its own right, but you can Inspiration also train your eye to see what makes some images just “work”. Dedicate some time each day to do something related to photography. It can be any of the above, from taking pictures, to editing pictures, looking at the works of others, studying your manual (learning about apertures, shutters, etc.), or any other photography-related ideas. You can only improve your skills byPhotography repeated use. Since I’ve referenced other idioms, another one could apply here: If you don’t use it, you lose it. Just like musicians who practice every day to get better, if you don’t practice your craft regularly, you won’t get better.Photoshop CMD/CTRL+J = duplicates your existing layer CRTL+ALT+SHIFT+E = Stamp Visible This takes all your visible layers and merges them onto a new layer.Photoshop Increases file size, but very cool CMD/CTRL+’ = (yes, that’s apostrophe) - it activates the grid in your preferences. Since my grid is set toPhotoshop every 33.33% and one subdivision, it basically shows a Rule of Thirds grid overlay on my images - very handy for compositional cropping Left and right brackets - decrease and increase your active brush, whether it’s for clone stamp, healingPhotoshop brush, eraser, history brush - whatever Alt+Eyedropper = you can drag the eyedropper outside of Photoshop to sample a color in another applicationPhotoshop (great for color matching) Page 4