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beginner photography tips


Photography Tip – Simple But Important

Here is a photography tip that is so simple that it is often overlooked.  The crooked horizon.  As many of you know, I am not a professional photographer but own a photography studio.  My job is to correct mistakes, through photoshop, that come through my studio.  I would guess that besides the obvious removing people from the background, removing stray hair, etc, straightening the horizon is way up there.  When you set up to take a shot, especially on the beach where the horizon plays a very big part of the background, make sure the horizon is straight and not going through the head of your subject.  This task is sometimes more difficult for taller photographers.  Just take a moment before you click your shutter and make sure the horizon is  below the head and that it is straight.

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Photography Tip -Motion Blur – by Myrtle Beach Photography

Tips to Avoid Motion Blur


The number one frustration that parents have come to me with while trying to photography their child at an event or practice is motion blur.  To understand why this happens, you need a little background about shutter speed and the aperture.  The aperture or the F-stop setting determines the amount of light getting into the camera.  The more light that is allowed in, the better chance to stop the motion blur.  Also, the shutter speed needs to be fast in order to stop the blur.  When photographing a gymnastics event, I usually have my shutter speed set to around 400, which is pretty quick.  If the shutter speed is fast, less light is allowed into the camera.  So, you need to pick the lowest shutter speed possible to allow in the light but still keep the blur from messing up you shot.  The more still you can keep you camera, the lower your shutter speed can be set.   Your number one best solution is to buy a lens that is F2.8 or lower. The more expensive lens will usually come with image stabilization and will allow you to set your aperture so more light can enter your camera.  Your cameras aperture will only go as low as your lens will allow.  That is why if you purchase a lens at F2.8, your cameras aperture can be set to allow in more light.  This can be an expensive fix so here are a few other things that you can do to make blurry photos less of a likelihood.


Buy A Tripod


If you are having trouble keeping still because of health issues such as muscle weakness or pains, this is your best bet. Even if this is not the case with you, a tripod is still a great investment for your digital camera use. No worries from shaking while you hold your camera makes this a winning choice for many photo opportunities. When buying a tripod you must make certain that you are getting a sturdy, well built model. You don’t want to have it falling down with your expensive digital camera and lenses.


Prop Yourself


The camera will detect shaking even if it does not seem like we are moving  and this is a major cause of blurry photos. Before taking the shot, look around for some sort of prop that you can use to lean on.


If you are sitting down, a good prop can be your knees.  I will sometimes prop up my knees and set the lens on them to hold the camera steady. Same goes for a fence or stair rail.  Anything you can find to hold you steady will work.


If you are inventive and have the resources around you such as small buildings, cars, trees, even picnic tables, then you can come up with a position that you are comfortable with.


Snap Gently


Don’t go overboard on pressing the button down! Too much force can actually give your camera a slight shake. Slow and gentle can do wonders for your photos !


Hold Your Breath


Many people don’t realize that breathing moves the body and therefore the camera in such a way as to make the seemingly perfect shot blurry. You made every effort to be still and it happened again ! Even the slight movement caused by inhaling or exhaling can disrupt a shutter that is staying open to take a low light shot.


As you can see there are some simple solutions that should get you back on track to taking great photos. Take your environment into consideration and use it to your advantage.

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Photography Tips to Reduce Red Eye

Photography Tips by Myrtle Beach Photography
Reducing Red Eye?

What Is Red Eye?
When you take photos in a dim or dark setting, the light from your camera flash is bright enough to reflect off of the blood vessels within your subject’s retinas. The result is red-eye.

How To Prevent Red-Eye:
The best way to prevent red-eye is to avoid using your flash whenever possible. However, if you have to use a flash, try these tips for preventing red-eye:

Add lighting: Whether you wait to shoot on a sunny day, or move your subject closer to a lamp or window, a brighter setting will cause your subject’s pupils to contract, allowing less light to reflect back to the camera.

Adjust your subject: Ask your subject to look toward the camera, but not directly at the lens. Also, try moving farther away from your subject.

May cameras have a setting for red eye reduction so consult your cameras paperwork.

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Myrtle Beach Photography Tips: Fill Flash

Beginner Photography Tips by Myrtle Beach Photography

Fill Flash

The biggest misconception in outdoor photography is the use of fill flash. Fill flash confused me more than anything when I first started trying to understand photography. It is like accounting. When you think you should debit, you credit. To us (unprofessional/photographers) the idea of when to use the flash was a bit baffling. For example, you are standing in the bright sun and common sense tells you that there is already too much light so why would you need to provide additional light. Most people know that if they are indoors, they use a flash. Most point and shoot camera flashes default to auto flash, meaning, if the camera detects there is not enough light for a good picture, the auto flash will kick-in, in low light. What most people don’t know is when you are outside and your camera is set to auto flash, it will automatically shut down your flash. This is perhaps when you need your flash the most. For example, you are out of the beach and it is 5pm, shadows are heavy and your subjects faces are shaded. This is where your fill flash is essential.

Go to your settings, override the auto flash(make sure that the flash icon does not have a line through the lightning bolt or flash symbol) and force your camera to flash. This will fill in the shadows (often cast by hats, glasses, noses etc) and light up the faces of your subjects. On the other hand, if your subjects look overexposed and washed out, you can’t decrease the flash strength try moving back a little from your subject and using your zoom to get a tighter framing as this will decrease the impact of the flash. Also remember, with most cameras, about 6 or 7 feet is a normal flash range. Experimenting is the key. Sample images above show the difference between an image outdoors with the flash on and the flash off.

Get out there and flash away. Find out which settings work for you. We will talk about creating mood with lighting later which we will play with not using flash to create different moods. But for now, when you are out in that bright light and you see shadows being cast, remember that the flash in bright conditions is your friend.

Upload your images so we can see what you have learned.

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Photography Tips by Myrtle Beach Photography

The Three Basic Elements of Photography


Each of the three aspects of the triangle relate to light and how it enters and interacts with the camera.

The three elements are:

  1. ISO– the measure of a digital camera sensor’s sensitivity to light
  2. Aperture– the size of the opening in the lens when a picture is taken
  3. Shutter Speed– the amount of time that the shutter is open

These three elements are what determines how your image will turn out.I will have to say that as a student of photography, these elements were the most difficult for me to understand.Remember, I have had no professional training and have had to pick up this knowledge from the professional photographers who work at my Studio’s in Myrtle Beach.I also have ADHD so these concepts were difficult for me to grasp.It was only after sitting in my daughters gym and playing around with all three, that I began to understand how they all affect the image.I would understand one and then the others would change and I had to finally realize that each affects the other.Most importantly – a change in one of the elements will impact the others. This means that you can never really isolate just one of the elements alone but always need to have the others in the back of your mind.

3 Metaphors for understanding the digital photography exposure triangle:

Many people describe the relationship between ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed using different metaphors to help us get our heads around how the three work together.One of my photographers, Joe, explained the concept like an human eye.Another used the window analogy.Here goes my “photography for dummies” attempt at a more simple understanding of these basic photography elements.

The Human Eye

Imagine your camera is like your eye that opens and closes or blinks (the shutter).If you stand in front of a mirror and hold your eye open and shine a flash light into your eyeball, the pupil will enlarge and become smaller based on the amount of light.Your eyelid opens and closes which when open, the pupil becomes smaller because there is more light and larger when the lid closes because of less light.Your eyelid is the shutter and your pupil is the aperture.Now imagine that you’re wearing sunglasses.Your eyes become desensitized to the light that comes in (it’s like a low ISO).

Let’s talk about the shutter speed first using the eye analogy.The speed of your blink (shutter) determines how much light gets to your pupil (aperture) to determine how large or small the pupil/aperture needs to be depending on the light you need to see.The slower you blink, the more time light has to reach your pupil and the smaller your pupil becomes.


Now for aperture.If you walk outside into bright sunlight, your pupil will suddenly shut down or become smaller just like the aperture on your camera because it needs less light.In reverse, if you walk into a dark room, your pupil will enlarge to be able to take in as much light as possible under the dark conditions.

These two functions of the eye work together, like with your camera, to determine the best light for you to be able to see in a dark or bright situation.Example:You walk into a very dark room.Your blinking (shutter speed) slows down so that more light can reach you pupil (aperture) so that it can become larger and more light can get in so that you can see more in a dark place.

Lastly, let’s talk about ISO.The ISO is like sunglasses.The eye is effected by wearing the sunglasses or taking them off.Now imagine that you’re inside the room and are wearing sunglasses (hopefully this isn’t too much of a stretch). Your eyes become desensitized to the light that comes in (it’s like a low ISO).

There are a number of ways of increasing or decreasing the amount of light in the room. You could increase the time that the shutter is open (decrease shutter speedby slowing down your blink), you could increase the size of aperture (increase pupil size) or you could take off your sunglasses (make the ISO larger).

Just remember, if you are in very bright light, your camera does not need as much light to create a good image so you will need to lower or close down your aperture and/or you can speed up your shutter.

In reverse, if you are in a low light situation, you will need to open up that aperture and slow down that shutter speed.If you still need more light once you open up that aperture and slow down that shutter speed there is something else you can try.Increase you ISO to allow more light.

I hope I have not confused you with this analogy.It really helped me understand the concept and hopefully that it helps you as well.Go out and play around in different light with these techniques to see how these elements effect you image.

To practice, I sat on my sofa and turned off all the lights except for a few small lamp.I was using a CanonMark III and an 70-200mm f2.8 lens.I put the camera on my knees to steady the lens and was taking pictures of my bookshelf across the room.I started at with a high number f-stop and a shutter speed at 800 and a low ISO.The image was black.I then lowered the f-stop to f2.8 (which my very good lens allowed me to do) and lowered the shutter speed to 100.The image was ok but not great.The next image I left the F-stop at 2.8, kept the shutter speed low and cranked up the ISO higher and finally got an image that was good.Good luck with this and I can’t wait to see if any of you have a “light bulb” moment and finally understand this very complex elements of photography.

I included a graphic at the top of this post to show examples of the eyeball and the lens to help with this explanation.

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