A General Guide to Portrait Photography

portrait1 A General Guide to Portrait PhotographyPortraiture is one of the most popular approaches in photography since people as subjects are just naturally interesting. Whether it’s our loved ones or complete strangers, we seem to gravitate towards images of fellow human beings, especially if the photographer has managed to capture their distinctive appeal. A portrait is generally defined as a posed image of a person (or persons, if a group portrait) with the face as the main point of focus. However, the term ‘portrait’ now has evolved and has a looser meaning which can include candid, animal and partial portraits.

Focus on the eyes – as the saying goes, ‘the eyes are the windows to one’s soul’. Eyes are very expressive and you can take advantage of this in your image. A person looking straight at the camera can give an impression different from someone gazing off-camera.

Show the subject’s mood – the human face is capable of expressing a myriad of emotions which can evoke a response from the viewer. More than that, other body parts can similarly show one’s mood. The hands, for instance, can be very expressive and can portray what the person is feeling at the time.

Be creative with the camera viewpoint – the usual camera angle when shooting portraits is straight forward at eye level. Changing the camera angle and portrait2 A General Guide to Portrait Photographyviewpoint can make the image look more dynamic and can present the subject in a more uncommon manner.

Show the subject’s personality – the subject may be filled with life and cheer but if your composition is drab and dull, it will hide any signs of life. Work the subject’s personality in your composition. Make full use of lighting, secondary elements, the environment, colors; whatever you can include that will help reinforce your image’s intended effect.

Play with lighting – lighting has a major impact on mood of the image. Soft diffused lighting is often used with baby portraits since it enhances their aura of fragility and softness. Dramatic lighting with hard shadows can make the subject look more dynamic and edgy. The direction of your light should also be considered. Sidelighting can show off the textures of the skin and backlighting can turn the subject into a silhouette. Experiment with different light sources. Although sunlight and studio lights are most often used, try lighting your subject’s face with some candles, or the glow from a TV screen or a flashlight.

portrait3 A General Guide to Portrait PhotographyTry partial portraits – instead of making the subject’s face entirely visible, try framing only half the face or just the eyes or the feet. By showing only a part of the body, it adds a sense of mystery and drama since it is less conventional than the regular portrait. 

Include a prop – take advantage of items or objects that support the subject, either just visually or also physically. Props can be anything from small things such as toys or household items, to large furniture. Using props can give the subjects something to relate to in the shot, which in turn can present a story.


Share |

Submit a Photography Article!

Posted in Articles, Photography Tips, Portrait Photography
Tags: , ,

No Comments »
Print This Post Email This Post
Permalink | Posted in Articles, Photography Tips, Portrait Photography
Diving into Underwater Photography, Part 2: 5 More Essential Things to Remember

There seems to be as many underwater photo tips as there are fish in the ocean. We touched on five in Part 1 and now here are five more important things to remember before you take the plunge:

diver by konr4d Diving into Underwater Photography, Part 2: 5 More Essential Things to RememberWork with what you have – not everyone can have the best underwater photography camera and accessories. If you have a regular point and shoot, you can still take good pictures underwater. Buy a waterproof camera case and check your camera’s capabilities to see if you can manually adjust exposure settings such as shutter speed and aperture so you have more control. If you have an SLR or a DSLR, using a wide angle lens would be ideal since a wider area can be captured by the lens without the image becoming blurry. 

anemone fish hirekatsu Diving into Underwater Photography, Part 2: 5 More Essential Things to RememberSafety first – when taking pictures, we can sometimes be so engrossed with what we are doing that for a while we forget the rest of the world. This can be very dangerous if you are in the water since the scenario calls for you to be aware of your surroundings at all times. You might be so focused on getting the perfect shot of those pretty fish that you might not notice your diving buddy needs your help. Check your diving gear once in a while, not just your camera gear. Avoid creatures that might harm you. No matter how pretty they are, it is better to keep a safe distance. 

Don’t scare the fish – fish can be very timid and can get easily scared of you since you will be something big and strange to them. If fish are running away from you, do not swim after them. You probably will not get a good shot that way, anyway, since the fish can just outswim you. Instead, stay in one spot and let them come to you. Watch their movements and how they behave, and let them first get used to you so you have a better chance to get closer to them. If you are using strobes, flash them several times first to get the fish used to the effect.

diver 2 by hamletnc Diving into Underwater Photography, Part 2: 5 More Essential Things to RememberCatch the catchlights – something as small as a tiny reflection of light in a creature’s eyes can mean the world of difference in the visual impact of a shot. Catchlights provide depth and dimension, and give the eyes life and spark. Without them, fish and other sea creatures, can appear dull and have no vitality.Use the portrait format once in a while – the horizontal framing or landscape format is often used when taking underwater shots since fish are on the wider rather than the taller side. However, using a vertical framing or portrait format can also make a composition more dynamic and present the subject in a less common perspective.

Good lighting for underwater subjects is very important to get a striking shot. Check out the previous articles regarding how to light your subject underwater. 


Share |

Submit a Photography Article!

Posted in Articles, Nature Photography, Photography Tips, Sports Photography
Tags: ,

No Comments »
Print This Post Email This Post
Permalink | Posted in Articles, Nature Photography, Photography Tips, Sports Photography
Diving into Underwater Photography, Part 1: 5 Essential Things to Remember

underwater1 by hisks1  Diving into Underwater Photography, Part 1: 5 Essential Things to RememberWhether you are snorkeling or diving, there are a lot of things to consider when doing underwater photography. The oceans and seas hide vast wonders and beauty that is not often seen and if you are fortunate enough to experience swimming among the sea denizens such as strange looking fish and brilliant corals, you probably have feel a strong urge to capture their mystic pull in a photograph. If you are about take your camera underwater, there are several things to remember before you let even just your little toe get wet:

Familiarize yourself with the dive area – before you dive into the big blue sea, first know what to expect underwater. Know what kind of fish and other sea creatures live in that area, the dangers to avoid, and so on. Knowing all these beforehand will give you an idea as to what camera settings to use, what lens would be best tortoise by diko19671  Diving into Underwater Photography, Part 1: 5 Essential Things to Remembersuited for the location, and the best way to approach your subject.

Get your diving skills down pat – good buoyancy control is needed if you want to get a good shot more often than not. A lot of underwater shots are close ups which means proper focusing is determined by making very slight adjustments in the distance of the lens. You would need to know how to hold yourself steady as you shoot or else your shots can easily become out of focus. Practice diving until you are sure you can do it with ease. If you haven’t done it in a long time, take refresher courses first just get yourself reacquainted with the deep. The more at home you are with your surroundings, the easier it will be to concentrate on getting those shots.

young anemone fish hirekats1  Diving into Underwater Photography, Part 1: 5 Essential Things to RememberShoot upward – this perspective will make your subject appear large and have more presence. Shots facing downward can make the subject smaller. Also, there is the big possibility of it getting lost in the background or in the shadows. 

Take close up or macro shots – underwater creatures can be very beautiful and fascinating and it is always a good idea to get in as close as you can to capture their details. Another thing to consider is that the further away your subject is, the harder it is to provide proper illumination. Water sucks in light and the distance your flash can reach is much shorter when underwater.

Lighting and composition techniques underwater is the same as on land – don’t forget the basic techniques in your excitement once you’re underwater. The Rule of Thirds, perspective, leading lines, angles of the light, and so on are still applicable with underwater images. Focus on the texture of the corals, the lines and shapes of fish, the way the light hits anemone. Instead of frontal flash which can make your subject appear washed out and lose detail, try sidelighting instead to bring out fine details, or backlighting to create silhouettes of the fascinating sea creatures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Share |

Submit a Photography Article!

Posted in Articles, Nature Photography, Photography Tips, Sports Photography
Tags: ,

No Comments »
Print This Post Email This Post
Permalink | Posted in Articles, Nature Photography, Photography Tips, Sports Photography
When to Choose Between Horizontal, Vertical and the Square Crop

In photography, the simplest decision can sometimes help or weaken the impression of an image. How we choose to frame or crop our subject affects the overall composition and the effect it has on the viewer.  Horizontal and vertical formats are the two most common ways to frame an image although interest in the square crop seems to be on the rise.

 Horizontal framing (landscape format) is ideal when:

horizontal When to Choose Between Horizontal, Vertical and the Square Crop          the subject is wider than it is taller, such as boats, bridges, or rows of houses.

          there is implied movement from side to side, such as a motion blur shot of a ball rolling from the left to the right of the frame.

          landscape (or seascape) panoramas, especially those that show horizon lines.

 Vertical framing (portrait format) is ideal when:

          the subject is taller rather than it is wider.

          the subject is not just tall but also singular or few, such as a solitary lamppost, a skyscraper or a person standing. A line of people or a row of skyscrapers could benefit from a horizontal framing instead.

vertical When to Choose Between Horizontal, Vertical and the Square Crop          implied movement is going upwards or downwards.

          you want focus to just be on the subject since this orientation removes peripheral vision

For budding photographers, horizontal framing (a.k.a landscape format) is more often used than vertical (probably because it’s just more convenient to hold the camera in its horizontal position rather than having to tilt it sideways.)  However, using vertical framing can alter the impression of the same scene. Although the final framing can be decided in post processing by cropping or rotating the image, try to make your decision before you press that shutter button so you will not end up having to cut off large unnecessary areas in the image.

The Square Crop

The most common aspect ratio is a rectangle but there is also the square, and square crops are fast becoming popular again (it was a common format in the 50’s during the era of the medium format cameras which used film with a square aspect ratio). Square crops are often used for online avatars (the image that represents you in the internet) and image thumbnails, and they look great when you want to make a photo collage in your portfolio since they provide consistency.

There are some compositional elements that seem to work especially well with a square crop:

squarecrop When to Choose Between Horizontal, Vertical and the Square CropSymmetry – symmetrical subjects are commonly cropped square with its central point at the center as well of the frame. But asymmetry can be just as attractive when shown in a square crop as long as you pay close attention to the composition. Common principles such as the rule of thirds and perspective are often applied and can be very effective.

Diagonals – since the square crop is neutral and does not really lead your line of vision from side to side or up to down, showing a diagonal allows the eye to be lead to where you want them to linger.

Abstract and minimal style – there is something to be said for a minimal image in a simple square crop.  The clean and spare lines and shapes that form a minimal composition work very well with the square aspect ratio. So too with abstract images which may emphasize purely colors and indefinable shapes.

There is no hard and fast rule when to use a square crop over the more conventional rectangle. One way to find out if the image would look better that way is to crop a copy of it in post processing. If you’re using Photoshop, simply keep the Shift key pressed as you drag your crop tool over the selected image area and the crop will be a perfect square. You can always undo the crop action if you do not like how the composition flows in this format. 


Share |

Submit a Photography Article!

Posted in Articles, Composition, Photography Basics, Photography Techniques
Tags: , , , ,

No Comments »
Print This Post Email This Post
Permalink | Posted in Articles, Composition, Photography Basics, Photography Techniques