Strange Sounding Photography Terms Explained

Photography is full of technical terms, from simple and easy to understand words to highfalutin jargon. Then there are also the funny, strange sounding words that make us smile as we wonder what it means. I gathered a list of these terms that may sound silly but are quite important in the language of photography:

hot shoe Strange Sounding Photography Terms ExplainedScrim – this is thin material (usually fabric, but seamless paper is also used) that is placed between the subject and the light to reduce its harshness or intensity.  It can be made of a gauzy, almost transparent sheet that becomes part of a diffusion panel when it is fastened on a frame. Scrims are quite handy since they are lightweight and portable, they don’t cost much and they’re very effective. Scrims are often used for outdoor shoots when you don’t want the glare of the sun to cause blown out spots or make your model squint.

Hot shoe – this is when, after hours of walking around taking pictures, your shoes and feet start to get hot. Kidding! This term refers to the clip at the top of your camera where you attach your external flash unit. It electrically links the flash to the shutter mechanism and synchronizes the two when the shutter button is triggered.

Snoot – ‘Snoot’ sounds like ‘snout’ and come to think of it, it does look like one. This is a cone shaped shield or cylinder that is attached to a light head such as a flashgun to project a concentrated light beam to the subject. It prevents light spill and allows you to direct the light to a smaller area than if there was no snoot.

Parallax – this is the image difference between what you see in the viewfinder and what the lens sees and captures. The viewfinder is not in the same exact spot as the lens, more often than not it is an inch or two above it, and so there is a variation which gets more noticeable the closer the subject is to the camera.

GoBo – slang for ‘goes beyond optics’, a gobo is something that changes or blocks the beam of light as it leaves your light source. There might be areas in your setup that you do not want lighted and this is where a gobo can come in handy. These can also be used for effect, such was with colored glass gobos or metal gobos formed into shapes (like stencils) which will create similar shadows shapes that adds to the elements in the shot. If your light beam can be adjusted from soft to strong light, it can then either make the shapes soft and diffused or hard and well defined.


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Tips on How to Turn Abstract Concepts to Effective Stock Images

The stock image industry is filled to the brim with all kinds of images that cater to a global market. The intent is to cover the customers’ image needs. A lot of these are for straightforward images such as product shots but there is also a huge market for images that present an abstract concept, such as a visual representation of the concept of ‘business’ or ‘health’.  Oftentimes, these kinds of shots are harder to capture since you are trying to transform an idea into something more concrete, which is the image. The following are three popular abstract concepts with helpful tips on how you can create stock photos that represent them:

concept1 Tips on How to Turn Abstract Concepts to Effective Stock Images1. Love – put your own spin to cliché images that show the concept of love such as people hugging or kissing, red paper hearts, heart balloons, chocolate hearts and the like. Although your image may be perfectly exposed and composed, it could get buried under the thousands of similar images from other good photographers. Instead of a young couple kissing, why not make it an old couple instead. Instead of composing some chocolate hearts on a white background, why not have someone about to eat the chocolate heart instead. By going a step further, you are separating yourself from the pack. Keep in mind that the concept of ‘love’ has many levels, such as ‘familial love’ and ‘romantic love’. Try to compose shots which portray various kinds of love.  Examples of images that convey ‘love’ are a father holding his baby, a child and her pet, and a mother hugging her elderly parent.

concept2 Tips on How to Turn Abstract Concepts to Effective Stock Images2. Health and Fitness – nowadays, people of all ages are very health conscious and there are millions of products and services that offer the concept of a healthy lifestyle. The concept of good health is dear to our hearts and images that convey this are widely popular. When creating a shot, first imagine what you would consider as promoting health and fitness. Common topics would be diet and exercise so the next step is to use a subject or shoot a scene that shows this. People jogging, vitamin pills, gym equipment, and healthy looking people exercising are some examples. Again, the trick is to avoid shots similar to what others are offering. Play with your camera angle, the framing, the depth of field, etc. to further push your concept.

concept3 Tips on How to Turn Abstract Concepts to Effective Stock Images3. Work/Business – the most common stock images that show the concept of business are people in business attire, briefcases, office desks and handshakes.  There is nothing wrong with having a good quality stock image that shows any of these examples but you must remember that the competition has similar images of their own. To add your own creative touch, why not make use of workers that are less noticed and who normally do not wear business suits to work such as fishermen or construction workers.

Whatever concept you are trying to present, always keep in mind that these are for stock and as such, need to have commercial and resale value. Customers should be able to use them to promote their own products and services. Also the idea should be immediately clear to the customers and not make them wonder what is the message you are trying to get across.


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More Tips on How to Turn Abstract Concepts to Effective Stock Images

In the world of stock photography, it is ideal for buyers to have access to commercial images that represent their need, whether that is an image of a bicycle or one that represents a concept. As stock photographers we would find it easy to take photos of actual objects because they are visible, tangible and therefore we can take an actual image of them. Yet how about abstract ideas and concepts that we know exist but not in the physical sense? To portray them in an image would take skill and preparation because your image needs to send a message across to the viewer. In a previous article we wrote about three abstract concepts and how they can be manifested in a photograph. Let us look at more abstract ideas and find out how they can visually appear as well as the cliche shots to stay away from.

concept4 More Tips on How to Turn Abstract Concepts to Effective Stock Images1. Joy/happiness – an effective exercise is to visualize the concept. What images enter your head when you think of the word ‘happiness’? People smiling, laughing and celebrating are common visuals. Try to think further to imagine what they are celebrating or smiling about. You can have a photo of a person smiling, which would be fine but generic, and you can also have a person smiling while looking at a child playing. The second image includes the reason for her expression and gives you even more concepts that you can include in your keywords such as 'child' and 'play'.

concept5 More Tips on How to Turn Abstract Concepts to Effective Stock Images2. Peace/serenity – sometimes an image does not have to show an actual scene or subject to convey a certain concept or emotion. Abstract images can be very effective to represent abstract ideas. When we think of peacefulness, a calm sea or landscape might come to mind. But an image that shows only shapes and colors such as shades of blue can evoke a strong sense of tranquility in us. These abstract photos would be ideal for PC wall papers, magazine background design for text boxes and even actual prints for display.

concept6 More Tips on How to Turn Abstract Concepts to Effective Stock Images3. Wealth – money is the first thing we picture out when we think of wealth. Images that show coins and bills are a dime a dozen in the stockpile. For your image to have a edge over the millions of other photos that also show money, your composition must be more unique and should send a message across to the viewer. For example, you can have a straightforward shot of a pile of bills. You can also be more creative and have a hand sticking out from the pile of bills as if someone is drowning in money. You can also have a shot of a dollar bill with one end burning up in flames. For more impact, make that a hundred dollar bill if you can spare it. To play it safe you can add flames to the bill in Photoshop or other similar photo editing program.

Whatever stock image you plan to shoot, make sure it sends a strong message of the abstract concept, that it has your creative touch and that it displays great composition and proper lighting.

 

 


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The Don’ts of Photography

There are a lot of do’s and don’ts in the art and craft of photography. In other articles, we had given lots of tips on the ‘do’s’, or what you can do to further improve your skills. In this particular article, we will focus on what NOT to do when practicing the craft:

Do not get stuck with shooting the same kind of images – part of polishing your photographic skills is to shoot images that take you out of your comfort zone. This allows you to discover new ways to shoot your subject, dont1 The Don’ts of Photographyfrom the lighting to how to compose it. It also gives you the chance to see your subject differently and with a creative eye. If you always take landscape shots but rarely use your camera for macro or close up shots, why not try switching styles for a change and see what lessons you can teach yourself. 

Do not ignore the manual mode – if you always use the auto mode, you would know that it can be quite convenient and easy to use since the camera decides the ‘appropriate’ settings needed. However, it can also be limited and the result may not be exactly what you would have wanted the picture to turn out. Using the manual mode would give you much more control over the camera settings and thus, the outcome of the shot. 

dont3 The Don’ts of PhotographyDo not wipe the dust off the lens with the edge of your shirt or a paper napkin – please resist the temptation to use your shirt, a piece of tissue, a table napkin or anything else that is not meant for cleaning lenses. They may look clean and spotless but their very fibers could be rough enough to leave scratches on your sensitive glass. 

Do not cover the flash with a finger – this is a common error with compact cameras where the flash is located at the corner of the camera and very close to where you would normally grip the camera when taking a shot. Always be aware of anything that might block the flash as you are taking your photo. 

Do not place a person right in front of a pole, a light post or a thin tree – doing this would give the illusion that the person in the picture has some unattractive appendage growing out of his or her head. Always be aware of your background and how you are positioning your subject in relation to it. 

dont2 The Don’ts of PhotographyDo not forget to charge your camera’s batteries – have you ever experienced a situation where you are about to shoot a once in a lifetime moment when your camera’s battery suddenly dies? Or a time when you go to an event and turn on your camera to take pictures and your camera will not even start? It can be frustrating to say the least and unless you have a spare battery on hand. 

Don’t leave home without a camera – a lot of great photo opportunities could be missed for the simple reason that you did not have your camera with you at the time. Try to have a camera with you when you go out, you never know what rare photographic moments you may encounter and want to take a picture of. A phone camera or a simple point and shoot is sufficient for the job. 


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Another 10 Ways to Turn Your Photographs in to Cash

Here are more useful ideas that may just turn you a fast buck for those photographs you have stored in your computer. Who knows, you may have a gold mine just waiting to be discovered.

1. Customize your own writing paper – many fancy writing paper come with printed designs, why not your photographs. Create your own stationary and notebooks that have your very own images printed on them and sell them in stores or online.

tocash5 Another 10 Ways to Turn Your Photographs in to Cash2. Offer your work to furniture stores – furniture stores always need a mock up living space to show their customers what their merchandise would look like when set up in their homes. There’s no better way to add a homey touch to furnishings than framed photographs. This is also a great opportunity to marker your art.

3. Offer your images to software companies – software companies are always in need for stills to use in their packaging, discs and backgrounds. Sift through your files of images and look for possible options you can offer to software companies.

tocash6 Another 10 Ways to Turn Your Photographs in to Cash4. Use your images as book covers – every year is another batch of kids moving onto the next grade and many students opt to personalize their school books by covering them in attractive paper. Print out your images on paper and market them to students to use a covers for their school books.

5. Print your images on bags – anything and everything can be placed on a bag to liven it up, why not your images. You can even design you own tote bags that can be made to order that can be personalized. Offer portrait photography services for your customers and you can print their pet or child on a bag.

6. Enlarge your images based on flat screen TV sizes – almost every household has a flat screen TV since its prices dropped, the demand for it sky rocketed. Most of them can display uploaded images and can be used to accentuate a whole room instead of hanging there drab and flat, it can be a colorful center piece.

7. Use you images to tell a story – not every story teller needs to be a graphic artist. Photography is a visual art form that can also be used to illustrate a story.

tocash4 Another 10 Ways to Turn Your Photographs in to Cash8. Use your images as a wallpaper design – almost every household has a computer and every computer needs a desktop wallpaper. Sell them online as downloadable images that any computer owner can use to liven up their monitors.

9. Offer your services to organizations – every organization that stands for a cause needs images to fire up their purpose to gain more supporters. Check out your local neighborhood organizations and start matching your images to their cause and market it to them.

10. Offer your specific images to auctioneers in various buying and selling websites – images help sell anything. There are numerous online buy and sell websites that have customers that need images of practically anything and everything. Photograph images of your own thing at home that are commonly sold online and offer them to sellers.

Whatever type of images you have stored there just waiting to be discovered, you’re sure to find some use for it. You just may be surprised at the earning power you images may provide. It would make a nifty side line for you.


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Using Facebook to Market Your Photo Business, Part 2

In order to have a steady stream of customers, you need to find way to market your services as a photographer. Get in with the times by promoting your photo business online in probably the most popular social networking site in the world, Facebook. We have written previously about how to use the features of Facebook for just that purpose and here are several more tips to get you going:

fb2 Using Facebook to Market Your Photo Business, Part 2Upload videos to share your ‘behind the scenes’ process – photos of how you set up your images are great but video footage of them are even better! Take advantage of the video option to share how you do your photo shoots, how you compose and light up your subjects. Video sessions are extremely popular and highly informative since clients can get to see exactly how your creative process works, from the preparations to the final result. For fans who want to learn more from you, you can also use video tutorials. There are some instructions that are easier understood when shown through a video tutorial rather than by reading them.

Build a solid client base – the strength of Facebook is in relationship marketing and less so at direct selling. Build connections and relationships with your clients and potential clients through regular interactions. You will have more success in getting sales this way plus a lot of regular and satisfied clients.

Invite people to your event by creating an event page – in case you are organizing or hosting an event for your photography business, use the Facebook event option to invite prospective and current clients. Having an event page allows you to spread the word to a large audience without much effort. It also allows others to RSVP so you know who are going and who cannot make it. This is not a substitute for formal (as opposed to virtual) invitations but it is a convenient way to make people aware of your event. The events page includes the details of the event such as date, time and location. You can also place a profile picture such as an image of the event poster. Another feature is that one can leave public comments which can be read by others and if these testimonials are positive and complimentary, then they certainly add to the appeal. You have the option to show the guest list so that others can know who else is planning to attend.

Try using the Facebook advertisement feature– with this option, you can create advertisements that appear on the pages of your target audience. This is another effective way to promote your business as well as increase awareness of your presence in the industry. Facebook does a great job of guiding you in setting up your ad campaign, and you have control over how much you want to spend to keep it running. You can set a limit to the ad budget and Facebook will stop showing your ads once you reach that limit. If it is your first time to use this feature, it would be wise to set up one advertising campaign at a time while you are learning the ropes so you can fully concentrate on it.


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More Fantastic Family Portraiture Tips

Shooting group portraits, especially those of your family, can be challenging since you are dealing not just with a single model, but several of them. Each member would be different in height, looks and personality and not only will you be focusing on how to create the shot but also how to successfully direct the family to pose. We previously explained some tried and tested family portraiture tips, and here are some effective suggestions you can use as to how to take great family portraits:

presto44 P1050391BW More Fantastic Family Portraiture Tips1. Vary the eye levels of your subjects – visually pleasing group shots usually have the subjects at different heights. Have some people sit while others stand. This will lessen the sense of monotony in the shot.

2. Make subjects interact – have the subjects in your family photographs get closer together. Minimizing the gaps between the subjects provides a sense of closeness. A family setting should connote a sense of intimacy and love. Ideally have each member hug, hold hands, or touch the person closest to them. Body language links people together and this is the perfect example to relay feelings or emotional impact when looking at the photograph. When your subjects are lined up for a photograph, position them at slight angles to each other and make sure that their shoulders overlap so that they will not look awkward. When dealing with large groups in a single shot, break them down into smaller groups to make it easier for you to coordinate the shot. You can arrange them in a diamond, zigzag or triangular formation.

family6 More Fantastic Family Portraiture Tips3. Make sure your subjects do not blink during the shot – when shooting group photographs, the hardest part is not having at least one of them blink. It is easy to reshoot for small groups but for larger groups, it is next to impossible. It does not help to shoot in continuous mode because one is bound to blink. Do a countdown to make sure that everyone is aware that you will be clicking the shutter button any moment so that they will be conscious and will not blink. A really useful tip is to tell all your subjects to close their eyes at the same time and do a countdown, then open their eyes all at once. This will surely guarantee that they will all have their eyes open at the same time without needing to blink.

4. Choose a lens that has the right focal length – the most eye-catching portrait images are created using lenses without zoom, known as prime lenses. Some zoom lenses can also give you great close-up shots. Wide-angle lenses can make subjects wider than they actually are while telephoto lenses have the reverse effect and can make your subjects appear flat. Beautiful portrait images can be captured using lenses with focal range of 50mm-100mm. Having a shallow depth of field blurs the background and brings the focus to the subject. 

family2 More Fantastic Family Portraiture Tips5. Get your subjects’ attention – when you are dealing with grown-ups and teenagers, getting their attention for a few seconds will not be as difficult compared to when you are dealing with babies, toddlers and older children. You will need to capture the attention of younger subjects to get a good shot. You may have to try hard to make them laugh, to the point of being silly. You can ask a whole group of children to do something fun together. This will give you a candid as well as a fun image. Best of all, this can make the children comfortable for the next shot. 

On a final note, remember to include yourself in your shots because you are also a part of the family. Use your tripod, a cable release or a camera with a shutter timer. While composing the group position, leave a space for you to fit in before the timer starts counting down. 



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How to Break the Photo Rules for Creative Effect

Photography is a craft that makes use of various ‘rules’, which are actually simply guidelines to help provide a pleasing composition. It can also be an art form, and as ‘art’ is not meant to be controlled and restrained. The following are various photo ‘rules’ which every photographer understand before they are attempted to be broken:

break1 How to Break the Photo Rules for Creative Effect1. Always use The Rule of Thirds – this states that the subject should be placed on one third of the frame, either vertically or horizontally, to create a sense of balance and visual appeal. If you were to place the subject smack dab in the center of a rectangular crop, or if you place it at the very edge of the frame, you are breaking this rule and your image stands the chance of being unbalanced or off-putting. Yet, you can break this rule and still have an interesting image. More visual tension occurs and you can take advantage of this in your shot.

2. The scene must be adequately lit – under or overexposure can mess up a shot and turn a good composition into something you want to discard. However, careful use of lighting can make very dark or bright images striking to look at. Also known as low key and high key, these techniques make use of a lot of shadows or highlights in creating an artistic effect.

break2 How to Break the Photo Rules for Creative Effect3. Remove noise – apparent image noise or grain in a shot are often fixed as soon as they are discovered. We strive to keep our images clear and fine, with no trace of digital noise that can mar our shot. Yet, we can make use of noise to enhance certain images. When used effectively, digital noise can dramatically add to the mood of the shot and evoke an emotional response. For instance, a grainy image of a row of street lamps at night could benefit from some noise.

4. Keep it simple – uncluttered and clean looking images are usually best in presenting the subject to avoid any unnecessary distractions. Breaking this would mean adding a lot of extra elements that could potentially break the shot. Again, control is the key here when setting up the scene. Although it may look busy at first glance, each element can actually support the main subject and the message the photographer is trying to convey.

break3 How to Break the Photo Rules for Creative Effect5. Keep the subject sharp – the general rule is that subjects should remain sharp in the image so they can be easily recognized and appreciated. And yet, images that are completely out of focus can be quite interesting especially if you are trying to invoke a certain mood or design. As long as the out of focus or blur is obviously intentional and positively impact the shot, out of focus images can be a resounding success. However, do not pass off blurry snapshots as being artistic and attractive. Most viewers are discerning and know whether the out of focus is intentional or by accident.

6. Make the subject clearly visible – when taking images, the subject is usually in a prominent place in the frame and is obviously the center of attention. You can also create interesting and provoking photos by placing the subject in a more subtle position, thus creating a need in the viewer to see more of it. For instance, partial portraits are quite popular although you cannot see the entire subject. 


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The iPad and the Photographer

Now that the iPad has a firm foothold in the market, many of you might be seriously interested in getting one. But like all fancy gadgets, it can take time to decide whether it is worth spending around $499. Of course, it all depends on what you will want it for. As an entertainment device, it packs quite a punch. And if you are a photographer, you might find the iPad useful in various ways.

One of its major uses would be as a portfolio. When you are looking to be hired for photo services, potential clients would want to look at samples of your work. It is quite common to show your sample images using a laptop, albums or prints. By using an iPad, you can display your photos in one gorgeous medium. After all, presentation really does count. It is more striking and sleeker than a regular photo album and more intimate than a netbook or a laptop. At 9.7 inches on its widest side and at 1024 x 768 pixel resolution, the screen is large enough for viewers to fully appreciate the images. Also, it utilizes in-plane switching (IPS) technology which allows people who are obliquely viewing the screen to still get a clear view. This is perfect for when a crowd of eager people want to see the picture you took of them all at the same time.

Another asset of the iPad is that you can upload images to it right after you take your pictures. With the use of the iPad Camera Connection Kit, you have the option to import image files using a USB cable or straight from an SD card. It supports both JPEG files and RAW formats. Right after uploading, you can even send the images by 3G (you have to sign up for this extra service) or Wi-Fi to a client who might be waiting for them. A drawback is that photo editing is limited with the iPad. It will not be the best tool to do heavy post processing since iPad photo apps do not have the extensive editing features of Photoshop and other similar software.

Although the iPad is a fantastic device, it does have its weaknesses. It does not support Flash so if your online portfolio is flash based, you will not be able to access it. It also has little storage space (64GB max) compared to netbooks or laptops, and it does not have the capacity to multi-task so you can’t receive instant messages while you are previewing your photos or fixing your slideshow. Keep in mind that this is version 1.0 and that over time there will surely be improved and more feature packed versions that might address these issues.

The iPad might not replace a netbook or a laptop in terms of productivity or functionality but if your purpose in having one is to pamper yourself with the latest gadget that will give you tons of fun, and at the same time allow you to have a stunning portable portfolio that can show off your pictures in vivid detail, then this might just be the ideal gift you can give yourself.

 

 

 


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Counting the Dots and Upsizing

The number of pixels in an image determines how far you can enlarge your digital images in print. Each pixel represents a square in an image. The more squares there are, the greater the clarity of an image when enlarged. Usually, the general accepted standard for professional printing is 300 pixels per inch (ppi). For ordinary printing, it’s 200ppi which is more than enough for ordinary use. The difference is seen when the image is enlarged to its maximum size for which a picture can be printed.

dots1 Counting the Dots and Upsizing

How big a pixel can be depends on how far away the print is when viewed. Working out the maximum printable size for the number of pixels for your image is simple. You can use the tools in any manipulation software such as Photoshop and Elements. The image size window will show you the printable size  for the set number of pixels per inch. You can hen change the pixel concentration to make the image bigger or smaller.

There is a confusing question regarding pixels and dots. The resolution of digital images is measured in pixels which is an image file that has no physical dimension. It is only when pixels are displayed or printed where their size is visible.  Pixels per inch help calculate just exactly how big an image can appear for a particular use. Printers and paper are sold based on how many dots per inch (dpi) is their capacity. Printers can also have the option to allow you to choose dpi settings you require.

Dots per inch vary from pixels per inch in a way that dpi rating is a way of describing how small a dot of ink the printer can create on paper. The more dots of ink in a printed image it has, the finer the detail in the final outcome. This is only apparent when you use paper that has the capacity to show it. If you’re using ordinary paper, it would only be a waste of ink to use higher dpi settings.

Economy Normal and Fine– 360dpi is the minimum resolution setting when using normal paper and basic inkjet stock.

Photo – 720dpi and 1444dpi are reserved for good quality photo paper.

Photo – 2880dpi or higher is best use only for fine, glossy media.

dotscomp Counting the Dots and Upsizing

When using basic calculations, an uncropped image shot using a 3 megapixel camera can be printed at just about 10×8 inches at 200ppi. This can have a maximum output of 7×5 ices if you use 300ppi as a standard. You can however still produce larger prints with a 5 megapixel camera by manipulating the image using an editing software. By using the program, you can add more pixels to in image so that it can be further enlarged without showing the tiny squares called pixelation.

This process increase the size of the image file as well so only do this to images that need upsizing and not storing. This process is called Interpolation. By using a software to  make a guess as to how to add new pixels to older ones. Upsizing means that a image produced by a digital camera can be printed out at a far greater range of sizes than the standard norm. There can also be some quality loss, Photoshop has five Interpolation processes you can choose from. Bicubic option is for all around use. Depending on the type of image, each may produce varying results. You can choose the best tool that fits an image for better quality.

The resampling process should be done before the image is sharpened. For large changes in the number of total pixels, it is worth doing the upsizing in stages than all at once.


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