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.
Our studio takes thousands of family beach portrait shots a summer. The biggest obstacle we run into is clutter. Everything from trash on the beach to people walking in the background when the beaches are busy. Even a small piece of trash or a cigarette butt can destroy an image. Clutter can turn a beautiful professional portrait into what can look like a snapshot. When setting up a portrait shot, consider simplifying the background to avoid photo clutter. Take the time to move things that can be a distraction. If you take a photo of someone in front of a busy background, when someone else looks at the picture their eyes will be pulled to the distractions.
Your photos should focus the viewer on the person, and only afterwards their surroundings. Instead of getting an entire beach scene in the photo, just get enough so the viewer knows the person is in front of ocean. Try and crop out any hotels or people walking by. You cannot get entire beach scene in a photo and still record the details of a person’s face, so unless you are just going for the effect of comparing the person’s size with the largeness of their surroundings, focus on one background detail and let the person’s image fill most of the viewfinder. These small tips will save you hours in the graphic process if you are aware of your surroundings.
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.
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.
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.
Shooting Images Through A Fence
OK, here is a problem many mom’s and dad’s run across trying to get shots of their kids at a sporting event. Getting stuck behind a wire fence when trying to shoot your child’s game can be a real challenge.
So how do you minimize the impact of the fence in your shots? Here’s a few quick tips:
Switch to Manual Focusing
A challenge you may face shooting through any kind of fence is that your camera may not know what to focus on – the fence or the object behind it. Switch to manual focus mode and you’ll be in complete control of what is in and out of focus.
Get close the the Fence
Ideally your best bet is to try to make the fence so out of focus that it can be barely seen in your shot. To do this one strategy is to get up very close to the fence – so close your lens has no chance of focusing on it. It may not be possible to be right up against a fence. The closer the better.
Use a Large Aperture
Choose a large aperture (making the number of your aperture as small as possible) will help to narrow the depth of focus and will hopefully through the lens even further out of focus.
Wait Until your Subject is away from the fence
If your subject is moving around behind the fence – wait until they are a little further back from the fence to take the shot. The closer they are to the fence the more the fence will be in focus.
If shooting through a part of a fence where there are reflections from the sun or other lights coming off the fence you’ll find the fence will become even more noticeable. As a result try to find a part of the fence that is shaded – or get someone to stand in a way that casts a shadow on the fence.
Incorporate the fence into your composition
It may be that the fence can become an important part of your composition – so consider breaking all the above rules to try that out!
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