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.
What Camera Should I Buy?
Is Digital Right for You?
Let’s start by looking at the non-positives.
1. Usually end up with no physical photo album
2. Nearly always involves time on the computer (archiving, sorting, etc.)
3. Digital files can become lost or currupt due to computer crashes and damaged storage.
4. Must have adequate computer system requirement
5. Reliance on battery life of camera and potentially traveling laptop / storage
6. Cost of camera
By far the most difficult of these issues is the amount of involvement on the computer end (the archiving, sorting) and often the lack of a physical album.
Digital SLR vs Point and Shoot
One of the most important decisions you will have to make is one the style of camera. The most important differences between cameras is whether or not it has a detachable lens (also known as a SLR or Single Lens Reflex). The cameras fall into either the SLR category or are labeled a “Point and Shoot” (now on referred to as “P&S”). SLRs will always be more expensive than a comparably-featured P&S. These categorization applies to both film and digital.
The easiest way to identify a SLR versus a P&S is generally the size and the appearance of the lens. An SLR will have a focus ring that allows the photographer to adjust the focus on the barrel of the lens. A P&S lens will generally be much smaller and will not have such a ring. SLRs are also usually much bulkier than the P&S, as the P&S style aims for a form factor designed with your pocket in mind.
A couple of years ago, digital SLRs were priced out of reach for all but the most affluent photographers.
Deciding between digital SLR vs Point and Shoot types comes down to your expected uses and how far you want to pursue photography.
The range of point and shoot models has broadened considerably. While the early digital point and shoot cameras were fairly simple and of relatively poor quality(versus their film-based equivalents), a new point and shoot digital cameras has surfaced: the pro-sumer point and shoot. The term pro-sumer is a blend of consumer and professional, indicating that it is designed with the advanced amateur in mind.
* Digital Consumer Point and Shoot
Entry-level digital camera. Can be ultra-compact form factor. Lacks manual exposure, manual focus, optical zoom less than 4x. Very slow autofocus and significant shutter-lag. ISO sensitivity up to ~ 400.
* Digital Pro-sumer Point and Shoot
Mid to high-end for a point and shoot. Might offer manual metering modes, electronic manual focus. Some offer super-zooms up to 10x optical with surprisingly good optical characteristics. Some models have extremely little shutter lag, approaching those of SLRs. ISO sensitivity up to 800 – 1600, although noise from the small sensor elements causes higher ISOs to be less useful.
* Digital SLR
Pro-sumer to professional with interchangeable lenses. Always offers manual exposure, real manual focus. Lenses must be purchased separately, but have the ability to cover a much wider visual range and quality than the “super-zooms” built-in to the pro-sumer point and shoot cameras. Useable ISO sensitivity up to 800 – 3200.
So What To Buy?
Digital Consumer Point & Shoot
Lens quality poor
Manual focus difficult/slow
Larger sensor (Less noise)
Total Shutter lag minimal
Compatibility of lens/accessories poor
Bulky, heavy, multiple lenses take up space
Lens quality unlimited
Manual focus easy/fast
Shutter lag poor
Small sensor (More noise)
Compatibility of lens/accessories great
Tips for photographing people
*Get in there to get the shot. If you see something interesting, don’t be satisfied with just a wide shot. Get closer and closer until you can capture the essence of the shot.
* Look for objects that make sense in the picture in your foreground. Be careful not to let the object overpower your subject.
* Every time you start to take a picture, look for foreground elements, frames or anything that can enhance the subject image. Strive to make photographs three dimensional.
* If you forget or don’t have a tripod, use stationary objects such as rock, camera bag or anything to steady your camera to be able to drop your shutter speed.
* Go at your subject from many different angels. Change your height levels as well to give your photograph more dramatic effects.
* Create a catch-light in the subject’s eyes with a small reflector, such as a dulled mirror or the silver side of a CD, to add a bit of glimmer.
* When using a flash indoors, move your subject away from walls to prevent harsh shadows.
* A piece of very light orange gel over the face of your electronic flash can warm up the light and give it a more pleasing cast.
* Be patient when you are shooting. Wait for the good shot. Once you have that shot in view, then begin multiple shots.
* While looking through your lens for different textures and patterns.
* When you first arrive at a new location, make note of any features that strike you and try an use that in the composition of your shot.
* Anticipate kids’ behavior. set up, compose your image, and wait for them to come running.
* Most important, when photographing people, find out their interests and try and capture that in your image.
Crop, Crop and Crop
I see alot of raw photographs as I sift through literally hundreds and hundreds of family beach pictures every day. A big misconception is that because you are being photographed by a professional photographer, that the photos come out of the camera and are ready to hand to the customer. Nothing could be farther from the truth. What the photographer strives for is to get excellent exposure, natural posing and to bring the best background possible out of a shoot. Then comes the task of editing. The best pictures are the ones that don’t have to be dramatically edited. That is just a fact. Many of our clients come in and want the sky color changed, the face of their kid taken off of one photo and put on their chosen photo, all the wrinkles removed from faces, all the windblown hair put perfectly back into place. All of this, while it makes the studio tons of money, it harms the natural look of the photo. No matter how good a graphic artist is, it still plays with the integrity of the original shot. So, what I tell my photographers is to bring in photos that only need a slight levels(we will discuss levels in a follow up article)tweaking and some basic cropping. Most all digital photos need this done. It is truly amazing how a single photo can be transformed with simple cropping. Cropping can most of the time eliminate unwanted and unavoidable background clutter as well as zooming in on a subject so to be able to catch that very personal expression or action. So, in closing, even your most basic photo editing software comes with a crop tool. Don’t be afraid to use it. Get in there and play with different crops and see how your photo will transform. One thing to remember, the larger the digital file, the better quality the final cropped image will be. Remember to set your camera to take the largest file possible.
Isn’t Digital Photography Cheaper Than Film? Why Doesn’t the Photographer Charge Me Less?
ANSWER: NO! The idea that digital photography on the professional level is cheaper than conventional film and paper is a total myth. According to all of the stats published, doing a professional shoot digitally costs as much as one-third more than traditional methods. But, digital photography does have it’s advantages over film. The photographer is able to catch mistakes on the spot and make corrections early in the shoot by simply checking the camera screen,which makes adjustments and retouching post shoot easier. Also, the ability to create color and black and white images from the same shot cuts down on having to take multiple shots with color and b/w film.
Reasons for Increased Cost:
(1) FASTER TURNAROUND EXPECTATIONS:
Because clients know how quickly digital turnarounds can happen, they often expect the photographer to process and deliver much faster than with film. The marketplace has upped the ante on deadlines as well. So these added pressures also push up the costs.
(2) CONSTANTLY CHANGING HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE:
Today, digital equipment–cameras, computers, hardware, and software– is often obsolete in a few months, and rarely makes it to two or three years. Professional photographers and studios are constantly upgrading equipment and software programs which is an ongoing cost to stay competitive.
(3) THE PHOTOGRAPHER’S TIME:
When a photographer shoots digitally, the post-production work required after the shoot–including downloading, naming files, color corrections, various batch actions, backing up on external hard drives, burning CDs or DVDs, etc.– is infinitely more time consuming for the photographer, and sometimes most often takes longer than the shoot itself. Before all these resources were available, simple lab drop and pickup that was billed to the client. Today, it is the photographer or studio who is working at the computer perfecting and presenting your images, which is reflected in your bill.
In closing, the digital revolution is a wonderful thing and can be a real benefit to the professional and client. It is very important to realize that things are not always as they seem and that your professional photographer is doing lots of work behind the scene to make your portraits beautiful for you.
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