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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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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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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5 More Things to Remember When Shooting Car Light Trails

Images of car light trails are often captured by photographers because they can make for stunning shots. Since this subject matter often entails going out at night or twilight, plus using long exposures, there are quite a few things to consider. We previously listed four important things to remember when shooting car light trails, and here are five more to keep in mind:

light trails41 5 More Things to Remember When Shooting Car Light TrailsPerspective – light trails by themselves are already interesting but add a creative perspective and your image can go even further. Aside from taking the shot at the often used eye-level angle, play around a bit by shooting low or taking a shot from top view instead. See if you can take the shot from an elevated viewpoint such as from the second or third storey of a building by the side of a road, or from an overpass. If you are situated on the side of a straight road and face the road straight on, the light trails will appear as moving from side to side. It might look flat and two dimensional, although it does not mean the image will turn out bad. By angling the camera so that the road has a vanishing point, the light trails created will also appear to have more perspective.

light trails2 jusben 5 More Things to Remember When Shooting Car Light TrailsFraming – the basic composition rules still apply when shooting light trails. The Rule of Thirds, balance, leading lines, and the light can all help make the shot more visually appealing. Take note of your foreground and background and see to it that they add, rather than take away attention from the point of interest. The horizontal or landscape format is often used but if you were to rotate your camera and shoot using the vertical or portrait format instead, your image might achieve a more dynamic impression.

Exposure settings – knowing the right exposure settings will be a result of trial and error. Luckily, we don’t have to worry much about taking a whole lot of test shots with a digital camera as compared to film. By reviewing your shots in the LCD, you can already gauge how to adjust a particular setting. Let’s discuss the three settings in more detail:

Shutter speed – a slow shutter speed will allow you to capture the movement of light. Try starting with shutter speeds between 10-20 seconds to give the cars enough time to travel through the frame. 

light trails3 5 More Things to Remember When Shooting Car Light TrailsAperture – remember that aperture affects depth of field so if you want most of the scene to be in focus, choose an f/number that corresponds with a smaller lens opening such as f/8. Keep in mind that the smaller the opening, the less light enters the sensor and you might need to leave your shutter open a little longer.

ISO – grain or noise is usually most visible in low light scenarios and if you can, try to keep the ISO to a low value such as 100. At ISO 400 or more, there is a bigger chance of obvious grain. 

Use Bulb mode – some cameras have a Bulb mode that allows the shutter to stay open for as long as you want. This is especially handy when shooting light trails. It is ideal to use a remote shutter release when using this mode to avoid camera shake while the shutter is open.

Manual focus – during low light situations, it could be a challenge to get your focus locked in on the point of interest if you are using autofocus.  Switch to manual focus instead to make sure you get the clarity you intend. 


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The Beauty of Twilight Photography

The moon has always been held as a sense of wonderment, it has been the centerpiece for many a romantic or horror scene. It has also played a big part in impacting the many cultures of the world. More so, it influences the gravitational pull of the earth and is responsible for casting the tides of the oceans. The moon as opposed to the sun, can be gazed upon directly. You can stare into the very depths twilight3 The Beauty of Twilight Photographyof its character and be awed by its wondrous beauty. It is in itself a beautiful subject to be photographed as part of a scene or all on its own. When you include the moon while taking a photograph of a scene, whether it is in the countryside or in an urban setting, it adds to the sense of harmony. Whenever a night photo is viewed, there is always a sense of something missing when you do not include the moon and the stars in the frame. The perfect opportunity to photograph the moon in its full glory and make it part of your scenery is when it is almost full. This is usually when the sun is about to rise and the moon is about to set (or vice versa). This makes it idea due to the fact that the moon will be low in the sky, which happens at twilight or at dawn. 

Take composite shots to keep both the moon and the foreground defined and in focus. To do this, the first shot should focus mainly on the foreground scene and the second shot should have the moon in focus. During post-processing, you can combine the two images together and …..

If your idea of an image is to still have the sun providing natural lighting for your scene, you can utilize the same type of exposure for the two types of photographs. However, if you plan to shoot after the sun has set or is about to rise, you may require a longer exposure for the scene and shorter exposure when photographing the moon.

 twilight1 The Beauty of Twilight PhotographyIf you are using the moon as your main subject and you want to capture more of its details, such as its craters, you will need a long lens and the stability of a tripod. For a long lens, at least 300mm would do for the actual details to show in your image. 

For the aperture, it can vary depending on the weather, the density of the clouds, etc. For a clear night, an aperture of at least f/8 would be ideal. First, it will give you great depth of field while allowing for a relatively fast shutter speed. This is mainly so because the moon moves extremely fast for slow shutter speed. That can cause you to have undefined edges.twilight2 The Beauty of Twilight Photography

The light emanating from the moon can change depending on the weather, its height and location in the sky. Therefore, there is no definite shutter speed to use and you will have to base it on the conditions at the night of the shoot. Ideally, you want to achieve bright pixels in your image but make sure you do not overexpose your shot. Always remember that it is not just the full moon that can give you a great photograph. The other phases of the moon can give you an equally beautiful subject by giving you more character with the shadows it creates in the craters which give more depth. 


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Quick Yet Effective Tips for Better Photography

The art of photography is loaded with thousands of tips to help you make your images look more appealing. Here are several suggestions you can follow to capture great looking shots:quick2 Quick Yet Effective Tips for Better PhotographyDo not forget you can also shoot in vertical format – the most common way to hold a camera is right side up which would mean a horizontal framing when taking a shot. But by turning the camera on its side, you shift the framing into a vertical format which can greatly affect the visual presentation of the scene. When shooting your subject, remember to try using the vertical framing to produce more composition options.

Move your camera angle to not include distracting background elements – when not in a studio setting, you may not have complete control over your surroundings. Certain background elements might appear distracting but cannot be removed from the setting. A trick to eliminate it from showing up in your frame is to angle your camera in such a way that the distraction is not within the lens’ line of vision. 

Be aware of shutter lag – shutter lag is the delayed recording of the image after clicking the shutter release button. This is a common issue with digital cameras compared to film although in the recent years, changes have been made to lessen this lag especially with high-end cameras. Be aware that when you press that shutter button, the response of the camera to take the shot may not be immediate. This could pose a problem for scenes with fast quick3 Quick Yet Effective Tips for Better Photographyaction such as sports photography since by the time the camera records the image, the moment most likely would have already slipped away. You can attempt to avoid this issue by anticipating the action in the scene so you can time yourself as to when to click the shutter button.

Do not be afraid to use creative blur – by default, compact cameras are designed to have as much of the scene in clear focus. This is great for regular snapshots where you would normally want the overall image to be sharp. There are times, however, when blurriness can make a photo more attractive and interesting. You can blur parts of an image by either usingquick1 Quick Yet Effective Tips for Better Photography a big aperture size to create a shallow depth of field (if your camera allows exposure adjustments), or by using motion blur such as panning. Creative blur also makes fantastic abstract images.

Push yourself to be more unique – with the boom of digital photography is the thousands of people suddenly making photography a hobby or a business and multiply that with the thousands of images being made everyday and you get millions of photos being uploaded online or printed. Due to this sheer number of shots, it is very easy for many of them to come out looking very similar to each other. Cliché shots are overwhelming and the last thing you need is to shoot like the rest. Constantly strive to make your shots more creative, give them your special flair.


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More Ways to Make Money Out of Your Passion for Photography

Photography is a very lucrative venture and if you have the passion and skills to take stunning photographs, you can make use of this asset by making money out of doing what you love. We previously ran an article in a similar vein and by popular demand, here are more suggestions you can use to earn some cash from taking photos:

Sell in stock sites – stock photography is a booming and very competitive business. Once you are accepted as a member, you can start uploading your shots for approval and these can then be included in your stock portfolio for prospective buyers to see. The system works by selling your images with a commission fee and although each image can be sold for 25cents or so, there is no limit as to how many times it can be sold by various buyers. One image can accumulate hundreds of dollars over time. It is not as easy as it sounds, though, and you will have to constantly upload to keep your portfolio fresh and make sure your images are high quality and have commercial value. 

makemny2 More Ways to Make Money Out of Your Passion for PhotographyNewborn babies – parents of newborns are often busy or preoccupied with getting ready for the baby’s needs. This will usually require you to be on call, especially if the parents ask you to take photographs at the hospital or when they arrive home with their little bundle of joy. Offering your services would guarantee that you cover all parts of the event, from the time they leave for the hospital to when they get home. This will also give you a great opportunity to have them as repeat clients if they like your work. 

Used cars – every urban area has a used car lot. Offer your services to owners and salesmen. It is always helpful to have photographs of the cars they have in stock so that the customers can browse through the stack of photos without having to go out and look at each and every car. Once they have narrowed down their choices, they can then go and check the selected cars. Another way for car dealers to use your services is when they want to sell their cars online and your photos will entice the car buyers to contact the dealer. 

makemny1 More Ways to Make Money Out of Your Passion for PhotographyPhoto gift items – aside from using photos for postcards, you can extend your services to include photos printed on novelty items such as mugs, jigsaw puzzles and mouse pads. Photostockplus.com is one site that offer these service and all you have to do is upload your images and they will do all the hard work of getting them printed and shipping them to the buyers.

Sell your images as art – if you have a creative eye and the ingenious flair to make something out everyday occurrences and scenery, then you are in the right field. Experiment with different points of view and angles. Kneel, lie down on the pavement, prop your camera on walls, the whole world is you makemny3 More Ways to Make Money Out of Your Passion for Photographyplayground. The best way to learn about anything is to try something new each time. This will help you develop newfound techniques that you can apply in your art.

Once you’ve gathered all your images, take advantage of the very useful software applications during post processing. Sift through your images, correct the common errors in some and crop them if needed. Once you are satisfied, have them printed at a quality printing shop where you are assured your prints will come out looking exactly like how they appeared in your computer screen. You can then frame your work and display them in various establishments in your area or even make them available for purchase online.


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More Tips on How to Use Trees to Spruce Up Your Shots

When photographing scenes that include trees, one should keep in mind how to present trees in an interesting manner since they can make or break the shot. It is not easy to ignore trees in photos due to their huge size. We had previously given you several tips on how to photograph trees, and these are some more to help you when composing trees in your images:

tree6 More Tips on How to Use Trees to Spruce Up Your Shots1. Check the weather – the weather directly affects the outcome of outdoor photos and it is best to know beforehand what to expect. Mist, rain, snowfall, wind, heat and such would give your image a certain atmosphere and you can take advantage of it or wait until the skies clear up.  Extreme weather can damage the camera gear so always make sure these are always protected. Of course, your own personal safety is more important than the shot so dress appropriately.

2. Use it as foreground or background interest – in landscape photography, trees are often used to add interest to a certain area in the image frame. They can be in the foreground with a majestic mountain or a house in the distance, and they can also appear in the background of the main subject. When using it as a secondary subject, keep in mind that it should not steal attention away from the main point of interest.tree4 More Tips on How to Use Trees to Spruce Up Your Shots

3. Shoot its color – with the change of seasons come the change of leaves and trees that look vivid green and brown in the summer may have fiery red leaves in the fall. Also, the bark of trees also differ in color compared to other varieties. Why not focus on the color of trees to further enhance your shot.

4. Try different lenses – wide-angle lenses take in more of the scene and make the distance between objects seem longer. Telephoto lenses, however, magnify the subject and decrease or compress the distance between objects. These also offer a shallower depth of field compared to the wide-angle. You can stand in the same spot and take photos of the same trees but the results would look different if you used different kinds of lenses. 

tree5 More Tips on How to Use Trees to Spruce Up Your Shots5. Shoot variations – trees not only come in all sizes and shapes but they can also grow all alone without any other tree nearby or clumped together into a dense forest. Shoot as much as you can of the trees while trying as various compositions. Step away or go closer, angle your camera upwards or climb up the tree and shoot downwards, shoot the trees as a group or single one out.

6. Experiment with both vertical and horizontal framing – the horizontal or landscape format is ideal for subjects that are wider than they are taller. For instance, this would be ideal if the subject were a row of trees. On the other hand, the vertical or portrait format would be great for the lone tree where you might want to include it all in the frame. Of course, these are simply guidelines and you can try switching formats to see which works best for the scene.

7. Have the model interact with the tree – when doing a fashion shoot or portraiture, try to have the model acknowledge the tree instead of simply standing beside it. By having the model lean on it, look at it or touch it, there is an apparent connection between these two subjects which can give greater visual impact, as well as send the message across more clearly. 


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The Art of Photographing Dance

One of the basic forms of human expression that have continued to be a part of our culture is dance. This form is one way that communicates beyond speech, much like the art of photography. Both do not have a specific dialect or language. Dance conveys raw emotion through movement that extends over all kinds of boundaries.

Here are effective tips on how to shoot fabulous dance images:

 dance6 The Art of Photographing Dance Shoot with manual settings at the widest aperture possible – more often than not, most of the dance performances involve a lot of dramatic lighting. This can be a reason to lose a lot of detail pertaining to highlights and shadows in an image. Always remember, though, that it is better to lose details from shadow than details from highlights. To get the best possible outcome, manually set your camera to the widest aperture. Also remember to adapt the exposure to the performer’s skin tone.

Do not even bother using spot metering. Another way to tackle exposure is to adjust shutter speed setting until you are able to see details in the performer’s face. However, whenever the lighting changes you will still have to adjust the settings each time.

Shoot in RAW – as much as possible, shoot in RAW format. Although it can slow you down in post processing as you make adjustments to your images, you will be able to capture more detail. But always remember to use a memory card with adequate memory since RAW files are rather huge.dance7 The Art of Photographing Dance

Familiarize yourself with the camera – stages have lighting that is usually centered on the performances and it varies depending on the tempo of the music or the type of mood that the performance wishes to convey. In most cases, you will probably have to be working in the dark. So it is best to familiarize yourself with all the buttons of your camera to make sure you are pressing the right one. Also make sure you know the proper settings to adjust your camera.

Have the right timing – the more performances you attend, and the more times you persevere to capture great dance stills, the more chances you will have of ddance5 The Art of Photographing Danceeveloping your skill. It takes more than just constantly being on the look-out for a great move because once you see a great movement in your viewfinder, chances are it is too late to capture it. You must always anticipate what will happen next to get the perfect opportunity. There are plenty of opportunities for you to be able to gauge when a highlight moment is about to take place, such as a change in music, lighting or movement of the dancers. You can sense that that something big is about to happen. It helps to love your niche because there are different types of dance performances that do not always follow the norm in lighting and music.

Capture the perfect pose – the visual impact of a perfect pose immortalized in a photograph is a rarity because you only get one chance when the whole body of a performer is in the right position allowing it to speak to the viewer when looking at the image. It will be pointless to set your camera to continuous mode and take random shots because the only way for you to get the precise moment is through patience.


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