I just realized it’s been a while since I last blogged! Hopefully you’ve had plenty of time to practice using the compositions rules in your photos!
Now that you know your camera inside out and backwards, and can take the photo that you want, it’s time to discuss basic editing. There are plenty of free and not free editors out there. The industry standard is Photoshop and/or Lightroom but you certainly don’t have to purchase those in order to tweak your photos. Gimp is popular although I’ve never used it myself, another free alternative is Picmonkey. Obviously the methods will vary with editor, so my goal here is to suggest things to look for to improve your photos, not necessarily how to do it in each editor. Luckily most programs are pretty user friendly.
Exposure and Contrast
I always strive to get it right in camera, but sometimes it needs slight adjustment. In this case I did lighten it slightly (have a look at the "before" photo above). I also like to blacken any blacks and brighten whites if required at this point. Most editors have highlight and shadow sliders to accomplish this.
I’ve noticed when I take photos in a hurry (like action shots at my children’s various sports games) they are sometimes crooked. Pick a line that should be horizontal or vertical as a guide. In this photo the post was not exactly vertical, and the ground was slightly slanted.
Sometimes to make a photo more pleasing, or to get rid of some background distractions easily, cropping is necessary. Here I cropped to get rid of the hand on the left of the photo, and to make my daughter more of the focal point of the photo.
This is a difficult one without a calibrated computer monitor, but we’ll assume our monitors are perfect. Do the colours look correct? I usually check the whites of eyes or teeth, or any other neutral colours in the picture. If they have a blue or yellow tinge for example they should be adjusted.
This is really personal taste, what sort of look you want for your photo. Saturation can be adjusted up or down, although I would caution against over saturating. You may want to see how it looks in black and white also!
If your lens has any dust on it, you may see spots on your photo. They are easily cloned or healed out. The same technique can be used to remove distracting elements. In this photo I didn't see anything I needed to remove. Some photographers may have removed the coaches from the background, or the stray arm on the right, but I think they add to the story of the photo.
That’s it! Your photo is now perfect! Congratulations! Now it is ready to be shared and printed!
As a follow-up to my post on getting your camera off manual, I’m going to introduce a few “rules” about composition. Once you know the rules, feel free to break them too!
1. Rule of Thirds
For whatever reason, it is pleasing to the eye if you place your subject on one of the lines of thirds in your frame. Imagine drawing a tic-tac-toe board (two lines vertical, two lines horizontal) on your photo. Your subject should be on one of the intersections. It’s much easier to show you what I mean. (Clearly I have a favourite intersection! Huh who knew!)
Pay attention to the background. There’s nothing more annoying that a branch growing out of someone’s head, or some clutter that could have easily been moved. Sometimes it isn’t possible to do much but when you can, position yourself to simplify the background. Here's a few examples where I was thinking about the background.
3. Keep it Straight
Make sure your photos are straight, particularly if there are strong horizontal or vertical lines. If you are going to angle your photo, make sure it obviously intentional otherwise it will just look wonky.
4. Leading Lines
Lines (curvy or straight) that guide the viewer's eyes through the photo are leading lines. Our eyes tend to follow lines through the photo to the main subject without being distracted by other elements in the photo.
I really hope these few tips are helpful! Try thinking about these things when you next take your camera out, I'm sure it will make a difference!
Hands up who has a “nice” camera but still leave it in auto to take pictures? If your hand is up read on! If you are just leaving your settings in fully automatic you should have saved a pile of money and bought a cheaper point-and-shoot. But you want to improve your photos, right?
Like most tools, your camera is only as good as the user. The more clues you can give your camera, the more your photo will look like what you want it to. We’re only going to touch on the very basics here, hopefully enough to get you out shooting more photos with purpose!
First thing, for now, turn your flash off. It only helps you if your subject is very close. Anything further than about 6 feet away and those pop-up built in flashes don’t help.
It might be a good idea to dig out your manual. It will (hopefully) explain each of the setting options on your camera. They will all be slightly different, but most will have an “aperture priority” mode (Av with Canons), and a “shutter speed” priority (Tv with Canons). Those two are a good place to start having a play. In Av mode you select the aperture and the camera will select the shutter speed and iso to correctly expose your photo. In Tv mode you select the shutter speed and the camera will select the aperture and iso to correctly expose your photo.
Some of us (ahem) will remember when cameras had film, and you could buy film with different iso - 100, 200, 400, 800 etc. When you take a photo, your camera is capturing light. The iso number is how sensitive your camera is to the light. Here’s what you need to tell your camera - if it’s a bright sunny day, you need a low (100) iso, if it’s night crank it to the highest setting your camera has. Everything else is in between (cloudy ~ 200, indoors maybe 400 etc). The beauty of digital photos is you can have a look, make adjustments and take another one if you don’t nail it the first time.
Before I leave iso, I have to mention that there is a slight trade off. Unfortunately, unless you have a very expensive DSLR, the higher your iso the more “noise” there will be in your picture. Go ahead and take a shot at high iso in a dark room, you’ll see what I mean.
Think of aperture as a window. You can tell your camera to open wide or close the window almost completely. As you would expect, wide open more light gets in, as it closes the less light enters your camera. You may have heard people talk about “F stop” - they are talking about aperture. The smaller the number (F/1.4), the wider open the window. Conversely the larger the number (F/22), the smaller the opening. When you want to take a photo of your subject and blur your background, you select a small F number, or shoot wide open. If you are taking a photo of a landscape, and want the entire photo in focus, choose a higher F number, maybe 16 or even higher. You should notice as you lower your F number your photo gets brighter, but less of it is in focus.
The third setting you can tell your camera is shutter speed. The longer the shutter stays open, the more light is let in. If you are photographing a moving subject (child!) I would suggest a shutter speed of 1/200 seconds or faster, otherwise you will get motion blur. If your object is stationary, and you are hand-holding your camera, 1/60 seconds is about as slow as you can go without blur. Any slower and you need to put your camera on something (tripod) to stabilize it.
Canon have a great little program online where you can adjust the iso. aperture, and shutter speed and see the effect on the photo. Have a look - http://canonoutsideofauto.ca/play/
The diagram below I found on Pinterest, but I’m afraid I’m not sure who created it to give them credit. It wasn’t me!
I hope that’s given you enough of a start to go and have a play, I’d love to see some of your photos! Upload them and tag me!
If you are in the UK, you surely would have seen the Christmas John Lewis commercial by now. In case you haven’t, it’s a little story about an elderly gentleman isolated on the moon and a young girl who sends him a present so he knows someone is thinking of him. Sadly this is reality for a lot of elderly people.
Luckily there are people in the world like my friend Jo Bell. Three years ago Jo created a local charity appeal called “Pop’s Parcels”. Similar to the shoebox appeal, people can donate boxes/gift bags for elderly people who will be alone at Christmas. This year the donations came in floods! I went with Jo one afternoon to find some recipients at local care homes. We filled my car (I have a 7 seater Zafira) and off we went. When we came back the reserves had been replenished! Another carload of donations had arrived to take the place of the ones we had given away.
There are also a number of “elves” delivering and collecting on behalf of Pop’s Parcels. I tagged along on Christmas Eve with another friend to deliver a parcel (including treats for his dog!) to a deserving elderly gentleman with no family.
Jo doesn’t just worry about these lonely and often vulnerable people at Christmas, she runs a business year round called Nanna Fridays. She befriends and visits regularly with folks who don’t have family nearby.
If you’d like to see more photos from Pop’s Parcels or to get in touch with Jo, check out her facebook page - here.
There was a lot of interest recently in my post regarding why we don’t like to have our photos taken. So many people (particularly women) think they look awful in photos! So as a follow-up I thought I’d write some tips on how to look your best if you are having your photo taken, even a phone selfie!
Some general posing rules:
If you are the photographer, here’s a few tips:
So you can see with just a little bit of thought before you snap your photo everyone can be photogenic. I’m expecting to see a whole bunch of new beautiful profile pics next week! Off you go!
I love taking photos! I really do. I love to capture little personalities, moments in time that can be remembered and perhaps even displayed in people’s homes. But with photos we can’t hear all the little giggles and voices; or see the relationships and interactions between family members. These everyday things as opposed to planned events. That’s where video comes in.
Over the last month I’ve put photos on the back burner a bit in order to learn about videos, specifically a relatively new art form - lifestyle videography. That means short movies (a couple of minutes) of clips compiled together and set to music.
My first one wasn’t exactly about my everyday, since we were on holiday for one week. So it’s partly about our holiday and partly about the chaos at home. I’ve put it in my “about” section of my website if you’d like to see it.
I learned a lot making this video and I’m keen to do more! If you’d like a short lifestyle video, or perhaps a promotional video for your small business website (in a similar style) do get it touch!
So you’ve had some fantastic photos taken, or perhaps your own holiday snaps that you absolutely love. You need to print them(!!) and display them somehow in your home. Here’s some inspiration for you, beyond the canvases, although they can be beautiful too!
1. A digital photo frame. These are great because you can change your photos as often as you like. Apparently some play video clips also! (Time for me to upgrade!)
2. A wall in your hallway, or perhaps up the stairs. I have some black and whites of my kids when they were small that I love. I painted the wall a contrasting colour (I debated for ages between red and purple!) and filled the space with the photos. (Excuse the photo, I was standing on the stairs holding my camera above my head as high as I could to get most of it in!)
3. Silhouettes. I get a lot of comments on this display above my fireplace. It was kind of an awkward shape, and I wanted to do something different. So I selected some action shots of my kids - jumping off the dock, on the trampoline, that sort of thing. I cut them out, and traced them onto black cardstock. Then cut out the shapes on the card. I then painted the background in the photo frames the same colour as my wall, and arranged the photos around until I was happy with them. Voila!
4. Pillows or mugs. There are several companies online that will print your photos onto pillows, mugs or other things. These also make great Christmas presents for friends and family.
5. Creative frames. If you are in any way crafty google “DIY Frames” or check out Pinterest. There are all sorts of interesting frames you can make with a bit of imagination!
I hope that’s given you a starting point, now go and get your photos printed!!
There’s always someone who takes all the photos and is rarely in any. That is me. I don’t like having my photo taken, but it’s something I’m working on. Turns out I’m not the only one out there who feels this way, and there’s a reason for it!
When you see a photo of yourself, do you think it somehow doesn’t look quite like you think you look? I don’t mean when you’re snapped in mid sentence, or blinking, or the morning-after-the-night-before. Those don’t count. Apparently it’s down to mirrors. We look at ourselves in mirrors, but photos are not a mirror reflection so the opposite way around. Who knew! Everyone else thinks you look great in photos, but you think photo-you is not quite right. There’s a TED talk about this if you are interested, you can watch it HERE. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUDxHB41dPQ&feature=youtu.be
Researchers have come up with another reason why we don’t like having photos taken. I’m not sure I agree with this one, and I’m pretty sure I don’t fall into this category but here it is. People think they are better looking than they are. I think we all have a different idea of what “good looking” is, so this is all subjective. Apparently some researchers took a portrait, changed it into a bunch of photos ranging from beaten-with-the-ugly-stick to incredibly hot. The participant had to choose which was their true photo. You guessed it - most people chose the hot one. At least we don’t suffer from low self-esteem!
Either way, the next time you see a photo of yourself that you don’t really like, don’t worry about it, it’s just your perception. Everyone else thinks you look great!
It really is a buyer’s market when it comes to selecting a photographer. You are lucky! Our area boasts a plethora of talented photographers. Knowing how to choose one will make your entire photography experience better as well as insure you get great portraits.
Some forms of photography, for example weddings, (which I don’t do by the way, unless you happen to be a very good friend’s niece ;-) ) do need special consideration but I’m going to keep this little blurb more general.
How do you know which one is right for you? Here are some tips:
I have a blog - eek! I haven't written anything since school, which was a lifetime ago! (Not counting technical reports in my previous life, that was completely different!) Did you know there are more than 2 million blog posts published each day? Yet here you are reading mine. I am honoured!
Still reading? Great! Let's get to know each other. 5 facts about me:
1. I am Canadian born and bred. I moved to Wokingham in 2007.
2. I am married to a Brit and we have 3 children, all born in Calgary. I'm the only one with just one nationality.
3. I have a degree in Chemical Engineering and I used to work in the oil and gas industry.
4. I took an interest in photography when I started having babies, 13 years ago. I never really had the time to get into it in a big way until this past year.
5. I'm a coffee addict.
I've been reading about how to write a blog, and several sites recommend things like random facts, lists, and other people's quotes. I've managed to incorporate the first two, maybe I'll work on the profound inspirational quote for blog post #2.