Archive for the ‘Tip Tuesday’ Category

I am a little behind on tip Tuesday, but thought I would post this anyway.  I have recently been asked questions about how to take better photos for those who are starting to learn on their DSLRs.  Here are a few tips to get you started.

1. Get down to their level and get close

Often, when you first go out and take pictures of your children, you start by standing and watching them play, and photographing them doing what they do best.  This is a great start, but if you try getting down to their level, you will have a better perspective on their world. Lay down on the grass.  Sit with your child. Then practice getting close.  Sometimes, the best photos are a close up of a face… or a hand, or foot.  I love photos of faces with the focus on the eyelashes… play around and see what you like.

2. Think about the rule of thirds

Often, the best composition for a photograph is not one that is centered.  Try dividing the photo into thirds, both horizontally and vertically (think of it like a grid), and then trying to have your child on a third.  Even if you want to center your child horizontally, you can always make sure your child’s eyes are in the top third.  This still presents a pleasing composition.

3. Be aware of the light

Watch for harsh sunlight (this often will blow the details out of an outfit, or your child’s skin), or dappled light (spots of light that cover the subject).  The best light for photographs is either a cloudy, overcast day, early in the morning or late at night, or  open shade on a sunny day.  Look for light in your child’s eyes.  Sometimes, it helps to have your child look up slightly to get that light in their eyes.

4.  Pay attention to the background

Something that can often ruin a great photograph is a distracting or busy background.  When you are taking photos of your children, look at what is behind them.  Make sure there is not a pole or tree sticking out of their head, or some other part of their body.  If you are setting up a photo, look for a consistent background… it could be a bush, a fun wall, or a hill of grass.  Watch out for garbage cans, lots of people, or anything else unattractive or distracting.

5. Experiment with different angles

Besides getting down to your child’s level, you can also work on finding different angles.  Try getting above your child and looking straight down on them. If they are laying down, experiment with taking a photo with their feet closer to you.  Think about what you may be trying to accomplish, and then play around.

6.  Connection with the subject

This can either be a connection between you (the photographer) and your child, or a connection between the child and something else in the photograph.  I often see a lot of photos with children looking at someone else outside the frame of the photo (a parent, another child, etc.).  A more compelling picture would show interaction with you, or with a toy, a flower, or another object (just make sure it makes sense… that it tells a story).

Quite a ways back, I had a few people asking questions about what type of DSLR to get if they were just starting out.  I told them I would write a blog about it so I could share my thoughts with everyone who reads my blog.  It seemed like everytime I sat down to write this down, I was overwhelmed with all the information I could share on this topic and how to organize my thoughts.  I finally realized I can just do it in bits and pieces. So now, I am finally sitting down to write the first installment of this topic.  One of the questions people always ask when looking at cameras is what brand to go with.  Although other companies make some great cameras, I really suggest going with either Nikon or Canon.  They consistently build great cameras and have great lenses and you will never have to worry about whether the company will continue to have good products.  You see, with DSLRs you are really buying into a whole system, so you have to think about more than just the camera.

When buying a DSLR, you need to think about the camera body of course, but also the lenses.  Some of the other brands have great cameras, and a few great lenses, but Nikon and Canon have a wide variety of great lenses to put on that camera body.

The next question, that can often lead to heated disagreements between photographers (j/k :)   ) is whether Canon or Nikon is better.  I will start by saying I have always been a Canon girl.  I started shooting on my Dad’s Canon AE-1 (35mm Manual Film Camera) before moving to my Canon 40D.  I love the way the Canon feels, and I love the Canon glass (lenses).  That said, Nikon produces great products as well.  You will have friends who will tell you that you have to get a certain camera, but really any Nikon or Canon camera will give you a great place to start in digital photography.  I suggest going to a camera store (Glazers, Kenmore Camera, even Best Buy has some of the lower end models) and really playing with some cameras.  Try both a Canon and a Nikon in your hand.  Fell where the buttons are and look at how you navigate through the menus and around the settings.  Canon and Nikon cameras are set up a bit differently and one may intuitively make more sense in navigation for you. One may feel better in your hands.  I for one do not like how the Nikons feel in my hand, but that could be just because I am used to Canon.

In the end, everyone will have a different preference between Nikon and Canon, so buy what works for you.  Just be sure to make sure it is what works for you and not just for your friends.

I have been meaning to start adding some content giving tips both for photographers and non photographers. Today, I was getting ready to start my Tip Tuesday posts, and I came across a wonderful post on Over-editing Mistakes in Photoshop. A lot of photographers make these mistakes when they are first starting out, or when they are still in the process of learning their editing software. It also is common when a non photographer discovers the different editing platforms out there and thinks different effects look so “cool.”   It is not necessarily that some of these editing ideas are bad, just that using them without thinking, or without knowing what you are doing can be create some crazy looking images.  Has anyone ever seen a photo where the child’s skin looks orange?  That is usually from someone using an action, or processing an image without learning how to properly edit separate pieces of an image. 

So my first tip of the week is to Think Before Editing. Think about the effect you are trying to achieve, whether the effect will work with the specific image you are applying it to, and whether you need to worry about erasing the effect back off of the skin of your subject.

Thanks to Jodi from MCP Actions for allowing me to share this link.