Fantastic Tips on How to Photograph Children

Taking photographs of children can either be great fun or a huge challenge. Some children enjoy posing for the camera and while others are camera shy or too hyperactive to sit still for the shot. Here are some useful tips you can use to get that perfect shot even with the most reluctant child:

Go closer – instead of taking a whole body shot, try moving up close and filling the frame. By isolating a portion of your subject, such as the face or the hands, more details can be seen. This is also great for babies where close up shots plus diffused lighting would be ideal to show their tiny features. 

Take advantage of their expressiveness – Children can be very expressive with their emotions since they have not yet learned to rein their feelings. This trait of vulnerability is also what makes them enchanting. Capture their expressions quickly since they can go from being silly to angry to pensive in the space of a few seconds. 

Add a prop – an object such as a security blanket can greatly improve the mood of a child. Including their favorite teddy bear or pet puppy in the shot can make them more at ease and give them something to focus on as well.

Shoot them in action – most children can’t seem to stop moving. They are so full of exuberance and are always running and playing games. Taking a photo of them at play instead of in a formal pose will portray them in a more natural and relaxed manner. Also, a setting such as a playground or the garden will provide a great background. A fast shutter speed is needed to freeze them in action but a slower shutter speed can catch lines of movement and make the image dynamic. You can play around with panning, zoom blur or motion blur to further spice up the shot.

Patience is a virtue – if you have a child, or remember what it was like to have been one, then you know how short children’s attention spans can be. They are always curious and the slightest interesting thing can catch their attention and they then forget all the instructions you’ve given them to pose the way you want them to. Don’t try to force them to pose since you might get them to sit still but you will also receive a glare that will not be pleasant to capture. Instead, make it a fun shoot by talking about their interests and allowing them to explore the surroundings. Show them the shots you’ve taken of them and they’ll probably direct themselves and think of various creative ways to pose for you.


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Using Strobes in Underwater Photography

In a previous article, we discussed how ambient light can be used in underwater photography. This time we will find out how submersible flash units or strobes are used to illuminate a subject or an entire scene. 

Since water is much denser than air, light underwater is absorbed faster and at a shorter distance compared to light above the water surface. In cases when ambient light is simply not enough to adequately light up a scene, strobes come to the rescue by providing bright light even at deeper ocean levels. Another asset of using strobes is that they can show off the subject’s real colors.  One of the properties of water is it lets the blue end of the spectrum pass through deeper than all the other color wavelengths, which makes underwater scenes acquire a blue cast. Strobe lights, with their complete light spectrum, can illuminate the subject or scene and present all the colors as they really are, without the predominant bluish color cast. Strobes can also act as fill light by lighting up the foreground or the dark areas of a subject while ambient light illuminates the rest of the scene.

Aside from presenting the subject’s color in full, there are other key differences between the results of strobe light and ambient light. Strobes can effectively freeze action since it can rapidly blast bright light. This allows for a fast shutter speed and there is no worry that camera or subject movement might cause the shot to come out blurry. Strobes will also provide strong light at short distances, and subjects taken at close up can be better illuminated. The added advantage to this is you can use a smaller aperture which means your camera covers a greater depth of field allowing more of the scene to be in focus. Strobes are not as useful in long distances, however, since the strobe light is absorbed by water. Distances of five feet or more no longer get illuminated and this is where ambient light can come in handy since it can encompass a larger area. 

If you’re using only one strobe, try positioning it above and to the side of the camera, at a 45 degree angle to the subject. This lessens the appearance of visible particles (a.k.a. backscatter) in the water which can cloud up the image. Two strobes are ideal to lessen hard shadows that can appear if only one strobe were used. Using a pair of strobes on either side of the subject will provide more even lighting. Have one of the strobes provide lesser output to show a light shadow that will give the impression of depth. If the two strobes were giving off equal light output, the subject can come out looking flat and bland.  

Keep in mind that strobe lights can be rather bulky and effort is required to set them up and maintained in proper position. Assistance from a dive buddy would be nice but if you don’t have one, you can use strobe arms with success. These arms are articulated for better positioning control of the direction of the strobe lights. 


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Using Ambient Light in Underwater Photography

In underwater photography, ambient light can be used to create stunning atmospheric shots. Ambient light is available light that is present in the scene and in this case sunlight is the main light source to illuminate underwater subjects. There will be times when you will not have a choice but to use only ambient light. For instance, if you’re trying to capture images of large sea creatures such as whales, they might not be near enough for you to illuminate them with strobe lights. There are also times when ambient light will light up a bigger area than your strobes can cover. If you have strobes, you can use these as fill light in key areas such as the foreground. 

When photographing subjects and scenes underwater, you will find that the properties of water is not the same as that of air, and light is very much affected. Water is 800 times denser compared to air and when sunlight hits the water, it diffuses and scatters. The blue light is evenly bounced off at all sides while the rest of the spectrum passes through as normal. This is the reason why water appears blue. The deeper down the waters, the darker and bluer it becomes. Contrast also becomes reduced since water acts like a light sponge. 

Staying close to the surface will allow you to take advantage of the intensity of ambient light. However, be prepared for backscatter, which are tiny but visible particles such dust or organisms like plankton that reflect light. They produce a snow-like effect, which appear more prominently nearer to the water’s surface.  There are many ways you can avoid ambient scatter. One is to go down deeper but you will have less ambient light. Another is to move with care to avoid dust from clouding up and to also move against the current so that dust will float away from you. Also stay away from swells that stir up dust and sand.

When using ambient light, consider the sun’s position since it is your main light source. The sunlight is at its strongest between 11a.m. and 2 p.m., when it is at its highest point in the sky. This is the time when the waters least reflect it away and more of it penetrates through the surface. You may even chance upon getting a cathedral light effect. This occurs when the water’s surface is calm and flat, and the sun is high in the sky. Shafts of light become visible and the effect can be quite dramatic. When shooting cathedral light, move out of the path of the light and face it instead so you can capture its full impact.

One of the effects of using only ambient light is color loss and contrast. Since the underwater environment can end up appearing mostly blue with ambient light, you can offset this by using filters. Color compensating filters will give your scene a certain hue depending on the filter color while color conversion filter will change the appearance of color temperature. In this case the warming filter option is most often used to offset the cool blue color cast provided by ambient light. 


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7 Fantastic Tips to Capture Autumn Images

 

Fall is such a beautiful time of the year, when the bright green leaves of summer turn to red and gold. Rows of trees seem to be colored various shades of sunbeams and the bright blue sky is the perfect backdrop. Autumn is the season for taking breathtaking scenic images and here are some golden guidelines to capture the spirit of the season:

1.      Use filters – polarizing filters are fantastic for reducing atmospheric haze and boosting the vividness of colors. Skies become bluer and the autumn colors really become enhanced. If you don’t have one, try placing polarized sunglasses over the camera lens as a simple alternative. You can also use warming filters to make the scene appear to have a golden tint. The quick way out if you don’t have one is to add it in post processing. Most photo editing programs have photo filter options you can use to mimic the effect.

2.      Take pictures at dawn or dusk – these are called the ‘golden hours’ or ‘magic hours’, when the sun is near the horizon and it’s rays appear golden as they shine on the scene. The light is more diffused and warm during the first and last hour of sunlight, and it is the perfect time for getting those stunning autumn shots since the lighting adds to the mood.

3.      Take pictures with overcast skies – when the sun is behind a cloud, it is a good time to take out your camera, not keep it. Overcast days mean indirect and diffused sunlight, less harsh shadows, and you can still capture the various shades of yellow, orange and red in the trees and fields that fall images are known for.

4.      Use contrasting colors – if you want to put emphasis on a certain subject or area in the frame, an effective way to do so is to use color contrasts or light contrasts. For example, red contrasts with green so a red leaf would really stand out against green grass or a green leafy background. Another example is yellow contrasts with blue. You can take advantage of the blue sky as the perfect background to a row of golden trees.

5.      Adjust your white balance setting – this setting affects the color temperature of the image, and you can tweak it to make a scene appear warmer or cooler. Instead of leaving the white balance setting at ‘auto’ mode, choose an appropriate setting that would boost the effect you intend. Since we want warm tones to portray that autumn atmosphere, use the ‘cloudy’ setting to add a warm tone to the shot. Just be careful, though, because sometimes the scene may be already golden and adding a warm tone might be too much.

6.      Have variety – the beauty of autumn is found not only in the vast glorious landscapes but also in a single leaf. You can shoot in macro and capture the veined details of a leaf that is changing color or take a picture of a lone tree on a hill or a panoramic shot of a field with rows of red gold trees in the distance. You can also include foreground interest such as a person or a structure. 

7.      Don’t forget the holidays – autumn covers a span of approximately three months which vary depending what hemisphere you are in. During this time, holidays and other special occasions may be celebrated which you can take advantage of as subject matter for your shots. For instance, both Halloween and Thanksgiving are celebrated during this season in the northern hemisphere. There are hundreds of photo opportunities to be grabbed during these times so take care not to miss them.

 

 

 

 


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Essential Tips in Sports Photography

Sports photography is one of the most challenging fields in events photography. It has to capture the pure essence of victory and defeat among the athletes chosen as a subject. The image should be able to reflect the time spent in practice to the actual performance and the glory of winning and the bitterness of losing. The events in sports photography are not random occurrences and a sports photographer should always be at the right place, at the right time and ready to capture a rare moment that can happen in an instant. It takes more than just being present with a camera at any major sports event. You’ll need cunning and a practiced eye as well.

Here are a few helpful tips in getting you started on your way to becoming an accomplished sports photographer:

Know your sport -you have to literally be familiar with the sport you plan on covering. It is necessary that you know more than just the basics of the sport. It’s helpful to know the strategy and the rules of the game to know when athletes are performing considerably well. Knowing the sport you are covering means you are familiar with the structure of the game .It helps to be able to be in the athletes’ shoes and predict what next move is coming. As the saying goes, sports is not just about being physical, it’s a mind game as well. You constantly have to be at the edge of your seat anticipating every move to capture that one in a lifetime moment that could be in the annals of the game’s history.

Keep an eye out for the player that offers more potential to give you the perfect photograph – with everything happening so fast in every sports event, it’s difficult to keep abreast of everything that’s happening around you. Focus on specific players such as the crowd favorites to get some key shots, but don’t forget the rest of the team. Try to capture images periodically in between stretches of a given time. Don’t dwell on the good shots you missed, instead focus on what’s happening at the moment.

Get into the rhythm of the game – learn to switch your attention from one player to the other. Keep to where the action is. Usually the best photos are captured during these moments. Once you fall into the rhythm, opportunities will just fall into your lap.

Know your equipment – whether it’s a professional sport event you're watching or your child’s karate match, make sure you come already acquainted with your camera. Practice makes perfect. You can learn valuable tidbits by volunteering your services at any relative or friends sporting event. So when the time comes that you’re going to start using your skills, you’ve got a lot packing.

Be in position – be strategic with your location when taking shots. Pick a spot that offers an interesting or uncluttered background and where there is less chance of being blocked by the onlookers or other photographers. Know the angle where the light source will shine on the players and situate yourself in the side where they will be best illuminated. 

Take shots for stock photos – if you are out on assignment or are simply covering your child's game, don't forget to also shoot images to be uploaded in your stock sites. These can give you opportunities to earn extra income. Don't just shoot the players but also the field, the goal, the scoreboard, the audience, the decor, anything you can find that might be salable as a stock image.


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5 Super Easy To Do Tips to Improve Studio Shots

1. Use a white card or paper as reflectors for small subjects. Use bed sheets, foam boards or other large flat surfaces as reflectors for large subjects. Mirrors may also be used to lighten dark areas. These reflectors can act as fill light or as additional light if you have only one light source. They can also diffuse the light that hits the subject, therefore lessening the appearance of hard shadows. Best of all, reflectors are easy to acquire since you most probably already have them in your house.

2.  Show the object’s best profile.  If your subjects have shapes or details that stand out, use these as the focus of your shot. Subjects can appear more attractive when positioned in a certain angle. A mug positioned to show the quirky shape of the handle might be a better composition compared to one that hides it. Flowers that are drooping sideways and showing the curve of the stem will look more appealing than those drooping towards the back.

3. Clean your subject beforehand, especially if it is glass.  Glassware and other reflective surfaces have this nasty habit of showing off every grain of dirt and grime in the image. Unless you are prepared to spend time doing major photo editing to heal or clone out those thousands of tiny specks of dirt, the easiest solution is to just thoroughly scrub them off first before the shoot.

4. Move your lights around – don’t be afraid to experiment with the angles of your light. If you do not like how the light illuminates your subject, position the lamp or lamps in different locations. Try placing the light source under the subject or right behind it. By lighting the subject in an uncommon way, the impact becomes more dramatic and you will have a more creative interpretation.

5. Arrange and rearrange your subjects – composition is essential in studio shots because things can look very messy otherwise. Arrange your subjects in visually pleasing ways and if an element seems off or doesn’t seem to complement the rest of the setup, either discard it or rearrange the subjects to make them more enticing. 


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A General Guide to Street Photography

The objective of street photography is to capture subjects doing regular and candid activities in public settings. This style has two, rather opposite, approaches. The first is that photographs taken this way present society in an aloof way. It follows the concept of straight photography where the photographer tries to be as objective as possible in documenting the subject in the scene, using no in-camera effects or manipulation that might affect its reality. The other approach is very personal in the presentation of the subject. The photographer tries to show through the image his or her impression of the culture of society, and an interpretation of moments of interaction or disconnection between people in their environment.

It is one thing to take photographs of subjects in a studio or at home where you are comfortable and where all the elements are controlled by you, and quite a different experience to be out in the street among strangers in an environment where you do not have much control. Practicing street photography, where you have little control over the surroundings and the people, can be both a nerve wracking and an exhilarating experience for the beginner photographer.

As you walk the streets looking for subjects, there are a few things to keep in mind:

Be inconspicuous – do not go out and stand in the middle of the sidewalk to shoot pictures of people. Aside from obstructing traffic, majority of people will not like their picture taken, especially not without warning and permission. Instead, try to blend in with the scene. You do not have to try to hide behind a tree or a telephone post. That is just as bad because people will still notice you and think you are crazy.

Know your light sources – sunlight is usually the main light source in street photography. The light changes depending on the hour so the same scene can appear different. The area you might want to shoot might be very well lighted in the morning but might appear very dark in the afternoon when it is hidden in the shadow of the nearby huge building. At night, there are a lot of light sources that can create mood and tension such as a bright moon, lamplights, street signs, and lighted windows.

Know the effect of time of day – as mentioned earlier, the light changes at various hours. But aside from that, the street scene itself may also change. The surroundings will look different in the early morning when only a few people are up and about compared to lunch time when it is rush hour and there are crowds of people milling and resting in the shade.

Ask permission to shoot – some people appear so interesting that you really want to take a closer shot of them. If you ask nicely enough, some people might consent to having their pictures taken. This solves the problem of you trying to get a good shot without letting yourself be noticed. Be relaxed and friendly when you approach them, and be genuine and sincere in your intent. Strike a conversation to make them (and you) relax. Listen to their answers and stories as you take your shots, do not pretend to be interested by nodding your head every few seconds at everything they say.

Travel light – bring as little gear as possible so you can move more flexibly as you roam around taking photographs. Aside from weighing you down, they will draw more attention to you.

Enter the side streets – there is much to be seen in the less travelled areas where tourists rarely enter. This is your chance to show what goes on behind the main thoroughfare.

Use different angles – break away from your usual viewpoint when you shoot the scene. Climb one floor of a commercial building and shoot the scene from the high vantage point, or sit on a bench and tilt the camera upwards.

Attend street events – parades, street performances, rallies, and the like would make great points of interest. The everyday street scene transforms into a stage and these occasions are a splendid opportunity to capture the richness of society’s culture.

Get a model or property release if needed – if you are planning to use your photos commercially by selling them, you will need model releases for recognizable faces and property release for structures showing in the images. Some places have anti-photography laws prohibiting you to take pictures. Know the legalities of the area to avoid any issues that might occur.

Black & white or color? – the impact of an image changes when presented in monochrome as compared to colored. Some scenes convey more meaning in black and white and there are others that are more striking when in full color. The advantage of digital photography is you can always shoot in color and convert to monochrome in post processing. 


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Photographing Black and White Macro

 

Macro photography can have many themes such as nature macro, super macro, abstract macro and such. We’ve touched on nature macro and explored how to capture the intricate details that only nature can create. Now let’s have a closer look at black and white macro, where the image is still presented really close up but where it is devoid of color. In black and white images, the patterns, shapes and textures become more prominent. To top this off, by using macro, we are presenting the subject in an uncommon perspective and showing off details that we ordinarily would not notice.

Since you are dealing with two techniques, macro and also black and white, you might find it challenging to shoot, especially if you are just starting out. Here are some suggestions you might find helpful:

Choose black or white subjects – since the objects you will be shooting are already black or white (or both), it can be easier to compose. You can already see the details of the object without the distractions color can cause.

Look at objects from various angles – an object may look different at certain angles, especially if the focus is very close to it. Find out what is the main attraction of the object; is it its shape and form? Does it have distinctive patterns? Once you’ve answered that, shoot the object at the angle that best shows off the asset.

Think out of the box – Aside from documentation, photographs can also be used to tell a story or to make a statement. Flex your imagination by creating the photo, not just taking it. Instead of taking pictures of objects that are already there and shooting them as is, create something by having a hand in how they will look in the shot. See if you can do something to the subject so it shows your creative touch. Since the image will be black and white, experiment with how the blacks relate to the whites, how the lighting will create or remove shadows, and how the subject can look unique.

Notice what’s around you – we’re so used to ignoring the things around us. Either they are too small to be obvious, or we look at them so often that we don’t really see them anymore. It might also be that some objects, such as black or white items, are not as obvious as colored ones so they hardly catch our attention. Holding a camera poised to take a picture can make you suddenly more observant, and ordinary things strewn around the surroundings begin to seem more eye-catching. 

Convert to black and white in post processing – most digital cameras nowadays have a black and white mode but it is advisable to convert photos to monochrome during post processing instead. This way, not only will you still have a colored photo if you changed your mind, but you will also have more options to play with in controlling tonal contrast.


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What to Prepare on Your First Wedding Photo Shoot

 

Wedding photography is a lucrative business and you might have felt it is time to be in on the action. In shooting weddings, the photographer has a huge responsibility to make sure all the special moments are recorded. Since it’s your first time to shoot a wedding event, there could be butterflies in your stomach and stress as well, as excitement might start to mount up. You might start to think you’re more nervous than the bride to be as the wedding date looms closer. There’s one thing that can lessen those jitters and that is knowing that you’re prepared.

Make a shot list– you can take dozens of various photos of the whole event but there are some that you just must take. Photos of the wedding cake, the bride and groom at the altar, the wedding dance and so on are just a few of the ‘must shoot’ subjects. Also ask the bride and groom what or who they want you to include in a photo since there could be special people you might not know about and might overlook when taking photos.

Bring an assistant if you can – someone who can help carry your equipment for you and do some crowd control will make it easier for you to concentrate on getting the shots. Not only that, the assistant could be your friend or relative who will provide moral support, even indirectly, just by being with you. Better yet, bring someone who can also take photographs. There could be a big gathering of people in a large area and having another photographer in a strategic location means you don’t have to cover the entire area and event yourself.

Bring extras of your camera gear – extra batteries, extra memory cards, especially an extra camera. It’s always good to have extra gear since you never know when one of them could suddenly stop working. It would be a disaster to have your camera conk out and not have a back up right in the middle of the ceremony. If you don’t have extras, rent the equipment or borrow them since this is one time when it is essential to be prepared.

Check out the site beforehand – it is best to be at the location at the same time of day that the wedding will happen so you have a good idea of what settings you’ll be using. Scout the ideal locations for group shots and also check out the light conditions.

Be discreet – in wanting to get great shots, it is possible to forget that there is a ceremony going on and people can become bothered by you constantly moving around. One way to lessen being disruptive is to take shots less often and to time your picture taking during sermons and hymns Also make sure your camera doesn’t make sounds such as beeps since this can be distracting for others.

Be aware of your surroundings – you might find yourself in the middle of a crowd during the reception and could bump into people holding wine glasses or that delicate tall ornament that you didn’t notice since you were too busy looking through the lens.

This list is by no means finished since there are dozens more tips to help you prepare for shooting the big event. Stay tuned for more tips in forthcoming articles!


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5 Useful Tips on Shooting Nature Macro

One favorite photo theme is nature macro. Nature is a willing and attractive subject and it does not take very much effort for us to get good shots. By using the macro technique, we can present nature in ways that others wouldn’t normally see, perhaps the furry edges of a moth wing or the cracked vein patterns of a leaf. Listed below are a few suggestions for getting great nature macro shots:

Be observant – nature abounds with millions of fascinating details and chances of hidden beauty and all we have to do is look. It’s astounding just how varied natural patterns, colors, or textures are. The trick is to notice them. By capturing them in an image, you will have the opportunity to share with others a world that is seldom noticed and appreciated. When Mother Nature is your subject, there is no lack of something appealing to shoot.

Be patient – when taking macro shots of creatures such as insects, patience is a must since it can be difficult to make them pose the way you want them to. They fly, they crawl, they jump, they do anything it seems but stay still long enough for you to get a good focus on them for a shot. If you want to take a picture of a butterfly fluttering from flower to flower, you might have to follow it around and shoot as soon as it lands on a blossom. You will probably end up with a lot of blurry shots but with enough patience, you might find one or two gems in the bunch. 

Camera capabilities – most point and shoots have a macro mode which can take fantastic images. Some even have a super macro mode for extreme close up shots. DSLRs can be fitted with macro lenses that can take fine and crisp shots. Optical zooms can also make the subject appear much closer than normal. Whatever camera you have, find out if it is capable of taking decent close up shots. If you can’t get any closer to the subject without it becoming blurry, you can make a shot appear macro by cropping the image in post processing.

Get down and dirty – when photographing nature macro, there are two common ways to go about setting up the shot. One is in a studio with all the lights and umbrella stands and maybe a few special macro lenses. The other is down on your knees, hunting for creepy crawlies, flowers or leaf patterns. Although the second option will get you dirty, it might also be more fun. Shooting the subject in its natural habitat has its pros and cons. Although you will not have as much control as in a studio, the subject (if a creature) will appear more at ease if shot in its surroundings. Flowers and leaves can also be photographed without you having to pluck and discard them after the shoot. Indirect sunlight is also one of the best light sources around and can beautifully illuminate the subject.

Capture color – one reason why nature is so visually appealing is that color plays a big part in it. Colors are used to entice prey or to ward off predators, and flowers are breathtaking in their display of colors, from the deep dark crimson of roses to the most delicate of lavender hues of, well, lavender. Solid colors, color blends, pastel shades, vivid hues, just look around and you’ll be amazed at the splashes of color that only nature can provide in abundance. Try to capture color in your macro shots, whether it is a flower petal or the iridescent wing of an insect.

 

 


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