Monday, April 5, 2010

How To Wednesday - basic shooting tips!

Here we are again with another "how-to" post! I really hope these tips have been helpful so far. As always, I am happy to answer any questions you may have! Also, if there is an area that you would like me to cover in my how-to posts let me know so that I can address it!

Ok, so I have taught you a few a things about editing so now I thought I would give you some pointers for taking great pictures to begin with!

The first thing you should know about photography, whether amateur or professional, is that your lighting is the MOST important thing to think about when taking a picture of anything. You don't have to be a pro to make great pictures, especially if you get your lighting right.

When shooting outside, which I recommend whenever possible, there is something you should know. This is the one thing that comes as a surprise to most people. You DO NOT want a sunny day to make good pictures. Clouds are your friend!

Surprised? So was I the first time I heard that. Think about it, though. When you walk into a big photo studio, do they have a bare flash shining in your face? No. They have those big flash boxes covered in a soft white fabric. This is a filter. A cloud is basically a great big filter over the sun.

So, when you get ready to make a picture outside you will need to think about a few things....

1. Don't position someone to be looking into the sun..... I know this sounds obvious, but you would be surprised how often it happens. The last thing you want is a picture where all of your kids are squinting.

2. When possible you should try to shoot in a direction that places the sun directly overhead or shining on the side of your subject's face. This gives you the light you need for your shot while preventing your subject from squinting.

See Christian in his "gobble gobble shirt" (thanks to my sis at Littlebits!) The sun was directly overhead and just to his right. You can see the side of his face and right shoulder are a little brighter, but not too much. This gives it a sweet, warm look. Plus he was able to look right at me and smile with his blue eyes wide open. Love it.

See Christian with his pumpkin? This was a shot that went directly to the "trash." He came to me with his pumpkin and I instinctively took the shot but realized later it was no good. He is squinting, looks really uncomfortable, and has a shadow across his face. Yuck!

3. If it is a really sunny day, try to find a spot that is lightly shaded. You want to avoid standing under a tree, but the side of the house or a building that blocks the direct sunlight will help. What we are trying to avoid is the shadows. Have you ever taken a picture and then noticed later that it looks like your subject has a black stripe across their face? This is the effect you will get on a sunny day, standing under a tree..... that is never good!

4. If shooting inside you will need your flash. The fact is that without studio lighting you are not likely to get great inside shots. The best option when inside is a window. If you can find a window that lets a lot of great light into the room you can position your subject near it and probably get some nice shots. But, be careful.... see #5

5. Do not "backlight." This is almost as bad as having the sun in your face. You never want to shoot INTO the sun. This includes any inside shots when sitting near a window. If you have someone looking at you with bright light behind them you may as well turn your camera off. All you will see is the bright light and a dark figure where your subject is supposed to be.

Sometimes this can work pretty cool when you shoot it this way, but you must make sure that this is how you want it to look. Usually you will need to be sure your subject has light on at least part of their face.

See the bride? This was a backlit shot. However, once I got it into Adobe Photoshop I brightened it a little bit. So, the background was still much brighter than my subject, but I stood in a place where she blocked the sun AND I used a flash so that she was not a total silhouette. Sometimes it works, you just have to play with it!

So, that is about it! You are now ready to out and get some great pictures!

Please let me know if you can see a difference in the pictures you take. Everyone deserves to have the skills to take the pictures you will keep forever. Now you can go to the beach or the park, or anywhere and come home with pictures you will want to print and keep!!

As always, leave me a comment if you have questions! I am happy to answer them as best I can!

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