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Archive for October 2017

4 Portrait Tips for Beginners

4 Portrait Tips for Beginners

Photographing people is quite different from any other subject. Unlike a scenic landscape or a still life, what makes a person unique is a mix of both appearance and personality — and the best portraits capture both. But how do you capture something you can’t see? Taking a great portrait means mixing the right focus with the expressions, pose and surroundings that match the subject. New to portraits? Here are four portrait tips for beginners.

The eyes have it.

In a portrait, the eyes play one of the largest roles, conveying both emotion and a spark of personality. The first step is to make sure that the eyes are in focus — using single point autofocus and placing the point over one of the eyes helps ensure that the eyes (and not the nose or another part of the face) are in focus. If the subject is turned at an angle, narrowing the aperture will also help keep both eyes in focus. But besides getting sharp eyes, creating catchlights, or lights that are reflected in the eyes, gives those eyes a sparkle. Catchlights are created from light in front of the subject, but be careful not to use a light source that will make the subject blink. A fill flash, a reflector or shaped ring lights are all excellent for creating catchlights.

Get the subject to feel comfortable.

Every great portrait doesn’t necessarily have a smile — but every great portrait does have a great expression. Whether stoic, laughing or a mischievous grin, the expression should represent the subject’s personality. For the photographer, that means both getting the subject to relax, and getting a genuine expression. Ditch the say cheese and chat, make jokes or ask the subject to think about something important to them.

Practicing posing.

Posing is an art in itself and takes some time to master. If you are serious about getting into the art of portraits, pick up a posing book or enroll in a class on posing to find all the nuances that will help take a photograph from good to great. But, as you get started, work with a few basics. Anything that’s closest to the camera looks the widest — so shooting from belly-level tends not to be the most flattering. Shooting at eye level or higher is often the most flattering. Also, that means pointing a limb towards the camera will play with the proportions, so avoid pointing feet and hands directly at the camera. Watch for awkward hand placement too.

Location, location, location.

When scouting out spots to shoot, look for both good light and a background that isn’t distraction. Shooting in full shade is an easy place for beginners to start, but once you’re comfortable here, learn to work with back and side lighting too. Check the background before you shoot for distractions like signs or telephone poles — and watch to make sure nothing in the background appears to be sprouting out of the subject, like a tree branch.

Capturing people means capturing a personality, but as rewarding as portraits can be, they also have their own set of challenges too. Before you start out, take a few portrait photography tips with you for the best results, even as a beginner.

5 Printing Mistakes New Photographers Make

5 Printing Mistakes New Photographers Make

Digital photography has changed the game — but as more and more photos live on hard drives, fewer images are making the cut to become actual physical prints. As new photographers learn digital photography, they also have to learn photo printing. Printing a photo can change the colors, make mistakes stand out and make small resolutions obvious. Like any new skill, beginners are bound to stumble a bit — so what are the most common photo printing mistakes new photographers make? Here are five of them.

Not printing any photos.

Just because digital photos can exists entirely in pixels doesn’t mean they shouldn’t. Printing photos is a way to showcase your artwork and even prevent a hard drive failure from destroying your favorites. But, printing photos can also be a learning tool. Sometimes, mistakes are easier to see in printed form. A shot that’s just out of focus or a composition that was cropped in too closely — those are all easier to spot, and then correct for next time, printed on paper. Whether it’s an album full or larger wall prints, don’t make the mistake of never printing any of your favorite photos.

Printing too small.

Any print is better than no prints, but new photographers tend to err on the side of too little. When it comes to wall art, larger prints make a much bigger impact. If you’re not sure which photo should dominate the largest area of that wall, printing a few small images first is fine, but don’t top out all your prints at an 8×10. Favorite photos deserve to go even larger.

Failing to check the resolution.

More pictures should be printed, and more photos should be printed larger — but not every image can be. Before you print, make sure the resolution will accommodate that print size. Most DSLRs can accommodate pretty large prints, but if the image was cropped or shot on a smartphone or point-and-shoot, be sure to check that resolution first.

Not color correcting.

Colors from a screen don’t always translate 100 percent to the printed surface. The difference between screen and paper can be remedied with a color collaboration device and software for each screen. Or, when using a printing service, checking the option for color correction, often for a small fee. Color corrected photos will pop that much more in print form.

Not experimenting with materials.

Sure, photos on paper are pretty cheap, but don’t stop there. Photos can be printed on a number of different materials from the more traditional canvas to the newer options like wood, metal and glass. Each medium has subtle differences that can enhance that particular photo, as well as blending better with the surrounding decor.

Photos shouldn’t exist only in megapixels — but making printing mistakes can be pretty expensive. To get the best results the first time, avoid those newbie printing mistakes and print your shots, print larger photos, check the resolution, color correct and experiment with different materials. Happy printing!

4 Drone Photography Tips For Beginners

4 Drone Photography Tips For Beginners

With the popularity and falling price of consumer drones, shooting an aerial photograph no longer requires the cost of a helicopter or airplane flight. But with inexpensive consumer drones comes inexperienced photographers willing to learn. So what should new drone owners do to improve their aerial shots? Here are four drone photography tips for beginners.

RAW and bracketing are two little settings with a big difference.

If you plan to retouch a photo before sharing or printing, RAW is the way to go, and that applies whether you are shooting aerial images or standing with two feet on the ground. RAW files capture more data, which widens the possibilities in editing. For example, if you shot with the wrong white balance, correcting it in a RAW file will look exactly like you shot it that way in the first place, with no quality loss. RAW doesn’t correct all errors, but is generally more forgiving than a JPEG.

In drone photography, taking a photo isn’t a quick task — it involves all the prep and flight. To increase the odds of capturing an excellent shot, try turning on exposure bracketing. This mode takes several of the same photos at different exposure levels. Paired with RAW photography and you’ll significantly increase the odds of getting a great shot.

Look for patterns and unique compositions.

Things look different from the air — and the best drone photos often capitalize on this. As you fly (and especially when you are planning) look for shots with a pattern or unusual shape, both of which are emphasized by aerial images. Don’t just shoot straight down from high up exclusively, however, drones can also be useful for shooting tall objects straight on and achieving other unique views by experimenting with height and camera angle.

Watch the skies before you fly.

Before launching, look to the skies for two things — the light and the weather. Light can make or break a good photo, so plan accordingly. Mid-day creates harsh shadows while just before sunset or just after sunrise has long shadows and more of a golden color. Weather can also shape light — on a cloudy day, shadows will be minimal. Along with light, watch the weather to get the best results. Windy days will create blurry pictures, storms should be avoided. Fog can sometimes be used to add interest to a scene, but too much fog will obscure the subject.

Get to know your drone — and practice.

Like getting to know your camera helps get you better photos, getting to know your drone will help you take advantage of your UAVs strengths and minimize the weaknesses. For example, a drone with a great gimbal can take aerial long exposures, while drones without such a good stabilization system will need to use faster shutter speeds to avoid blur. Knowing your drone’s flight time, exploring all the different settings and practicing both flying and shooting will all help improve the quality of your shots.

Just because aerial photography is more accessible than ever before doesn’t mean that it’s easy. New pilots can apply drone photography tips like using RAW and flying during the best light to improve their aerial shots.