Thursday, May 27, 2010

Top 50 Photo Tips #40 to #30

We have made our first drop into the list with last month’s article on the top 50 photo tips. This month’s offering is getting us closer to that number one tip for better photos and there are some real gems in this one. Some of our favorite discoveries over the years are listed here. We will start with #40, enjoy.

#40 - Zoom Lenses for Fast Work
zoom  lensesThis hasn't been a real big issue for those shooting with point and shoot cameras because they really can't change their lenses. For those of us who can, if you are totally married to a “fixed focal length lense", try a zoom will ya? I know, I know, there are drawbacks, higher minimum apertures, distortion at the extremes etc. But you just can't beat 'em for speedy operation in fast moving photo situations.  You are instantly cropping without doing the manual zoom (you moving in and out from your subject.)  Plus, you don't have to keep changing your lenses, opening up your camera to dust and dirt. For fast moving work, just Zoom-Zoom.

#39 – In Living Color… but only if you want it to be. 
We understand that digital photography has allowed for some really great new camera features and abilities that you just didn’t have with film, but shooting your pictures in Black and White or Sepia or inverted color just isn’t one of them.  The best possible way to record your images is in the full color setting on your camera. If you want to tweak something, do it post production.  Doing it in the camera only limits what you can do with the photo. If you shoot it in Black and White for instance, you won’t be able to change it to color later if you want to. What a shame, ‘cause I can make this color photo I took any color I want any time I want. Our suggestion is to leave the segregated color pallets behind you.

 #38 – Get into the picture, you have the time.Self   Timer
One of the coolest features available to the person behind the camera is the self timer. Most all cameras today have one and they are simple and easy to use.  They generally have a flexible time that you can choose so you can properly maneuver yourself into a photograph and have a little time to spare. How many times has the timer on your camera gone unused? Trust me it is way better than the “hold the camera out and point it at yourself” thing.  Who wants their big ole’ arm in every photo? Get in the picture!! 

#37 – It isn’t just for keeping the inside of your car cool!
I love this one! I had an old car reflector glued to a white board that I threw into the back of my car for several years. It was there to provide me with a little reflected light every time I needed it. It wasn’t as chic as the fold out reflectors we use in the studio, but just as effective and it was WAY cheaper. Go to your local x-mart and pick up one of those car shades that fold up easily. They are usually silver on one side and black or white on the other. Perfect! Use the silver side to add a little light to a subject or the black side to block or draw a little light from your subject. Trust me this is a great one!car  shade

#36 – Know the range of your camera flash. 
We talk about this in our classes all the time. As you are watching the Super bowl on TV, have you noticed all of the folks at half time taking photos from the nosebleed sections with their camera flash on? Wow, they are really out of touch at just how powerful that flash is. It makes for a great lightshow for the people watching on TV, but the only thing they are getting a well exposed picture of is the bald guy sitting in the row just in front of them. Trust me, every age spot and wisp of hair that he has is going to be perfectly exposed!  Chances are though, this isn’t the shot they were after.  Keep in mind the built in flash on your camera, regardless of the type, only has a range of about 6-10 feet.

#35 – Look for symmetry and patterns in your scene.  
Ok, most of us just walk up and take a picture of something without thinking about the angle, surroundings or composing the image so it is interesting.  This is what separates a good photographer from a great photographer.  Pay attention to how your subject will be placed in the scene.  Where the lines in the image are repeating?  Is there symmetry within the scene? Are there repeating patterns that you can use to frame or surround your subject to create a more pleasing photo? Take the time to LOOK at your scene, then imagine your subject in that scene.

#34 – Focus on your subject
We aren’t talking about making sure your camera is in focus, or that your subject is nice and sharp in the scene. That is a given. We are talking about making the focus of the entire image about your subject. Surround them with items that will tell a story and keep your viewer interested in them and only them. Remove distracting items from the background, make sure they are the brightest part of the scene and that the “focus" of the viewer is firmly fixed on your subject.

#33 - Take a Hike!
We have all been on bus tours. They stop where every other bus that has ever traveledmacro   setting that path stops, the tourists get off, they take their pictures right from the same spot as the thousands of others before them had taken their photographs. Dude, get off the path, use that 20 minutes….. all of it - to go where nobody else is going, get higher, lower, down the path or up the road. Take pictures of the people, the lifestyles, everything but the thing that all the others on the bus are taking their photos of. Be creative.

#32 – Get Close….. no, Closer….. NO CLOSER!
One of our favorite lenses in the bag is the Macro setting. Just like the self timer on your camera, most cameras today have a “macro” setting.  This setting opens the door to a whole new world that is just inches in front of your lens, literally.  You can pick out a single letter on a matchbook or check out the pollen on a flower. There is a whole tiny world out there that you have been missing and it is right in front of your lens. Check it out.

#31 – Wow! That color is AWESOME!
We know you have seen those really great shots where the sky is an incredible blue, the colors jump off the page, and there isn’t a stitch of haze in the air. These shots are likely taken using an expensive polarizing filter. These filters can run you $70 or $100 easy. If you shoot with a point and shoot camera though, they don’t make them small enough to fit these cameras. This doesn’t mean you are out of luck, though. The answer is probably sitting right on top of your head. You know that pair of “polarizing” sunglasses you shifted up to the top of your head so you could look polarizerthrough the viewfinder on the camera? Take 'em off and hold one of the lenses over your camera lens. Voila! You are shooting like a pro and didn’t have to spend the $$$$.

#30- Exciting Photos
The word excitement has a lot of weight to it, so let us clarify. We are talking about visual excitement. Ok, that didn’t help. We are talking about color visual excitement.  There is a rainbow of colors out there and they can all be recorded but when certain elements are played against each other, they create color visual excitement, physically in your eye. There is a warm and a cool color pallet to the standard color wheel.  The next time you are lining up your shot, try to put a couple of these colors in positions that are opposing each other. Your eye won’t know how to react, for example, to a bright yellow wall with a person dressed in a brilliant blue suit. These are direct opposites on the color wheel, and your eye tries to adjust for both colors, causing all those little brain impulses to fire at once.  This is visual excitement.

Next month we will crack the top 20 tips, stay tuned and continue to shoot! Try these tips and let us know what you think.  Is your photography improving? - Aloha

Top 50 Photo Tips #50 to #41

OK, so there are tons of images that barrage us everyday but what makes a good photo and what makes a great photo? The answer may very well lie in the Top 50 photo tips of all time. Yep that's right I said 50. We will explore these 10 at a time so you don't go out in one weekend and try them all at once.

We will start with #50 through #41 in this article and work our way back to #1. In our second to last article, we will announce a prize for the first person that correctly guesses the #1 tip of all time. Here we go.

Here we go.

dirty#50 - Clean up this mess
Ever went to the beach or a football game where there was more dirt than there was grass. Then you know how important it is to keep your camera and other equipment clean. A trip to the beach can be devastating to your equipment. The salt air is very caustic not to mention the moisture. For your camera body, a damp then a dry paper towel will do the trick to eliminate that thin layer of salt air that has deposited itself on your equipment. For your lenses, a good lens cleaning solution and a microfiber or lens cloth is the order of the day.
#49 - Bag it
bagWe actually had a student that showed up in class with their camera (a brand new DSLR - about $700) in a plastic shopping bag. While we recommend a hard side case with a rubber seal to protect the camera from moisture. You can easily purchase a low end canvas bag and throw a couple of those silicone packets that came with your camera into it to absorb moisture from the bag to protect your camera. Honestly how much protection are you gonna get from a plastic shopping bag, it isn't even environmentally friendly. If the camera was dropped how exactly would he explain this to the manufacturer?
#48 - Camera straps are for wimps
strapsReally? I have had one on every camera that I have ever owned. I feel naked if I don't wear a seat belt when I drive, so why would I risk several thousand dollars to sweaty palms? Put it on and then put it down. If looking "Cool" is your reason for not using one, imagine how foolish you will look when it drops on the floor and doesn't work anymore? Cheap insurance.
#47 - Use Smaller Media Cards
Yep you read this right, smaller cards. We don't use a card that is larger than 4 GB for a high resolution DSLR. Sure we can only get about 170 shots on the card in the RAW setting. Consider this, in the days of film you only got 36 images max on a single roll of film, 200 is a cornucopia of images. Plus if the card goes bad and we can't retrieve our images, we haven't lost an entire shoot because ALL our pictures were on a single 32 GB card. In addition, you can get really fast low storage cards for 1/2 or less of the cost of the bigger ones.
#46 - Shoot A Lot Of Images and pick ONE
Ok so this seems to be a bit of a contradiction to the last tip. We tell you to do this because More is more to choose from. You don't have to use all the images you shoot but having all those selections to make your final decision is liberating. Finally there was only one Mona Lisa, and so it should be with your final image selections. Pick ONE from a series of shots that best tell the story.

#45 - What are you looking at?
One of the drawbacks to the digital age is someone that takes a picture and then immediately looks at it. For some reason these people believe that the whole world will be paused until they decide that the shot is "exactly" what they wanted. Knock it off! If this is you, while you are looking at the image for the perfect expression from your subject, it is happening right in front of you but you can't see it cause your face is buried in your camera's viewer.

monalisa#44 - Was Mona Lisa Smiling?
It's an age old question to say the least but it poses an important question. Do your subjects always have to smile to make a great photograph? NO! People are best when they are being themselves. Sometimes they have a crooked smile and know it, maybe they wore braces as a child or are a child with braces and they are self conscious. Maybe they need to have dental work done or are missing a chopper. Any way you look at it, if they don't wanna smile, don't make em.
#43 - Be Aware Of Your Surroundings
Today most folks will view their scene through the screen on the back of their camera or the "live view" feature on most digital cameras. This is a cool feature, no doubt. You however, do not want to be so caught up in your scene that you don't see that ...... aaaaahhhhh cliff. Ok so this is dramatic, but you could likely be unaware of your surroundings and something can come in and spoil a great shot. Like a car passing in the background, or a bicyclist, small child or your thumb. Pay attention to the activity around you because it can not only spoil a good shot but it might also be distracting your subject causing that unwanted expression.
#42 - Fill The Frame
There was a class we held several years ago on shooting color as a subject. While we were reviewing the images a beautiful garden scene appeared on the screen and we as a class said what impressive greens were in the scene. The photographer was visibly upset stating that the color of choice wasn't green but red. We were of course puzzled only to find that the tree in the shot had a red Cardinal in it. Long story short, tell the story by getting close enough to your subject to make it obvious that they are the story in your image. You will want to leave a little room for cropping if you want to enlarge the images but get closer.

#41 - Be A Wall Flower
Some of the best shots you will ever take are the ones you take of people being people. As soon as someone is aware of your camera, they instantly change. Prevent this split personality from arising by being a wall flower. Blend in, use a longer lens, (Zoom out) and sit across the room the results may surprise you.
Tune in next month for the next 10 in our series. What will number one be? if you want to venture a guess or discuss any of these tips, comment below, visit the original article on Oceanic Time Warner's Leisure Page or FB page - Aloha


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