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photography tips

Welcome to Burblepix™ photography tips. The aim is to help you improve your photography and overall competency. We hope our monthly tips are going to help!

Who better to learn from than the professionals. And so we have asked various professionals photographers for their advice.

  1. Photographing at the beach
    Few subjects stir warmer memories than your carefree days at the beach. And while they may offer endless picture-taking opportunities - they also bring with them a number of challenges. Here are a few tips to help you get some great beach pictures.

    Get the beach action
    Catch the unique atmosphere of the beach. Show your family building giant sand castles, digging deep holes, surfing the waves. And put the viewer into the scene by getting down to the subject's eye level.

    Tell a story
    Any important event can become a picture story. An all-day outing is perfect for a photo story. Show the departure, the arrival, a picture of your destination's entry, a variety of events during the day, and the tired kids on their way home.

    Protect your gear
    Sand, water, and heat are your camera's worst enemies. All of which, you'll find in abundance at the beach. Here are some suggestions on how to deal with them.
    When you're not taking pictures, keep your camera in a zippered plastic bag out of the hot sun, maybe under a white towel. If sand does get on your camera, first blow it off, and then carefully brush off any remaining grains with a lens cleaning brush.

    Avoid harsh facial shadows by using the soft lighting of a cloudy day or a shady area. On sunny days, if your camera has several flash modes, select Fill-Flash. This will fire the flash even in bright sunlight. This "fills" the shadows on nearby subjects, creating more flattering portraits in direct sunlight. Check your camera's manual.

    Include the water
    Refreshing, invigorating, and soothing in person, the body of water can add those qualities to your pictures. Be sure to frequently include it in the background of your beach pictures. Its presence will increase the emotion of your beach pictures.

    Place the horizon high or low Ocean panoramas make great pictures. Just be sure to keep the horizon straight and to place it either high or low in the viewfinder. When a horizon cuts across the middle of a picture, it seems to slice the picture in half, and makes it less appealing.

    Don't forget beach landmarks
    From the beach cafe to the fishing pier to the promenade, every beach has hangouts where people gather and socialize. Include pictures of these locales to strengthen memories of your favorite times at the beach.


  2. Taking Informal Portraits      By

      Sometimes the difference between taking a good photo and a great photo can be a simple change in your technique.

      In our South African climate there are plenty of opportunities for taking digital photos of your friends and family. Here are a few tips to help assure that the photos you take this will be your best ever:

    1. The very best way to improve your photos is to press the button gently when you take a picture. Pressing it hard or fast can cause camera movement, making the picture appear blurred or out of focus.
    2. If you shoot on a beach, look to see if there's a beach exposure setting on your camera and use it. Or if that's not available, you might be able to set the exposure compensation to adjust for the brighter scenes. Add 1 or 2 stops exposure for a beach scene. The rule of thumb for correcting for too light & too dark subjects (as compared with average subjects) is if it's light, make it lighter (add F stops or exposure) and if it's dark, make it darker (subtract F stops of exposure). ALSO: Be very careful around the salt spray of the ocean, it can wreak havoc on sensitive electronics so keep exposure to the ocean air at a minimum.
    3. Resist the urge to shoot at a downward angle when taking photos of children, pets or any subject that is much smaller or shorter than you. Either bring the subject up or bring your camera down to the subject by kneeling.
    4. To emphasize the main subject (the people in your photos), keep the background as uncluttered and simple as possible.
    5. If you have a zoom lens on your camera, step further away from your subject and zoom in. This will cause the background to blur more, thus emphasizing the people you're focusing on. This is a common technique all portrait photographers use!
    6. Use a flash, if possible, to supplement your outdoor daylight portraits. It will help you achieve a flawless look by minimizing wrinkles and harsh shadows.
    7. When photographing a person, try shooting them from an angle. This not only helps them look slimmer but also creates more interesting angles in your photo.
    8. Try including props ... flowers, stuffed animals, toys, or a favorite hat adds personality and color to your portrait photos.

  3. Moving Water tips      By James Jordan

      You can elevate your photos of moving water from “Okay” to “Wow!” by stretching out your exposure time. While fast exposures freeze the look of moving water, long exposures produce misty streams and waterfalls and give a smooth, dreamy quality to moving bodies of water.

      Go long on exposure

      To give your photos of surf, streams and waterfalls that misty, dreamy quality, dial down your camera’s ISO and aperture as far as possible. The idea is to get your shutter speed down to a half-second or longer to capture cascading currents, and even longer exposures – up to 20 seconds or more – are needed to smooth out ripples and waves. Your camera manual should give you guidelines on how to lower the shutter speed. You’ll need to use your camera’s manual settings to get these types of photographs.

  4. Landscapes tips      By Bianca Pocock

      Composition is a key element of every type of photography, including landscape photography. Without good composition, it can look plain, lifeless and boring. When it comes to composition and framing there are no set rules, however these suggestions should help with better composition of your landscape images.
      1. Capture a mood – every photograph should have a mood to it. Your image needs to be able to tell a story and pull the viewer in, triggering their emotions.
      2. Look at the area beforehand – you never know what might be around you. Take into account natural lighting and how this is affected during the different times of the day. Identify a good position to take your pictures.
      3. Be patient – if you are not photographing sport, slow down and take time to compose your shot.
      4. Center of attention – a photograph should contain a center of interest where you want the viewer to focus their attention. Whether it is a tree, a bush or a house, there should be an element that instantly grabs the attention of the viewer.
      5. Avoid straight rivers, streams and roads – instead of straight rivers and roads, try to locate curved ones, especially the ones with an “S” shape – they look much more pleasing to the eye. Here is an example of a curved river:

  5. Compact camera tips      By Bianca Pocock

      with compact’s like this you don’t have any control over certain functions of the camera such as aperture or shutter speed, what you do have control of is the composition, this is one of the most important aspects of photography, professional or not.

      Don’t always centre your subject

      Try an off centre position, creating the rule of thirds (a very simple but effective rule) most camera’s will come with an option to display the rule of thirds on your screen creating three vertical and three horizontal lines, this will make it easy to get the composition of your photographs correct, having it displayed makes it easy to line up your subjects without always trying to imagine three equal lines running down and across your photo, try keep the horizon line on the bottom of the three horizontal lines and your subject on the left or right vertical line depending on the direction your subject is facing, if your subject is facing the side make sure their back is facing the frame and not their face as this will cut off the energy the subject is creating. By positioning the subject on a side where they will be looking into the photo you create an interest point as the viewer will look at the subject and then what the subject is looking at. This happens in a fraction of a second and the viewer is unaware of it but when the subject is right up against the frame there is no interest in what is behind the subject and so the viewer’s eyes will not be drawn to the rest of the photograph

      Photographers like to believe that the frame (the edge) of the picture is magnetic, if you put a subject too close to the edge of the picture it will ‘pull’ the subject making it seem very cramped against the side. Always leave an adequate space, giving the subject ‘room to breathe’.

  6. Night-lights      By Dave Huntley-Smith

    Have you ever wondered how photographers manage to make lights into fascinating long snakes of light? Well it’s a very easy process that everyone can do and have great fun with.

    Here’s what you need,
    • A little imagination and patience
    • A digital camera with ‘M’ mode
    • A tripod
    • A cool curvy road
    • An evening or a morning

    Approach your road carefully (it’s either a little after dark or just before dawn so you won’t be able to see), and check out a spot where you can see lots of car lights going past. Now this the difficult bit, you have to imagine here how the car’s lights will leave light snakes and what they might look like, choose a place suitable for an interesting picture.

    Don’t set your viewpoint looking directly across the road, all you will see is white stripes going from right to left. Don’t look directly into the on-coming traffic, you will get squashed.

    Try a bridge or high embankment next to the road. The photos look cool if you are a little distance from the road. Find a place where people use their indicators, you know close to an on- or off-ramp, they leave the coolest yellow dashed lines.

    Place your camera on the tripod and set it to manual mode. If you don’t know how to do this take out you torch and camera manual (Ah you forgot your torch didn’t you!) and check which dial it is.

    Set the camera to ISO 200, shutter speed to 5 seconds (not 1/5sec) aperture to f8, white balance to incandescent. Focus manually; auto focus will not work in the dark. Set your zoom as you wish.

    Take a picture and look at it, do the following;
    • Picture too bright, increase the aperture number, that’s the f8 to f11 to f16 to f22 part,
    • Snakes too short, increase the shutter speed to 10, 15, 20 or 30 seconds
    • Take another pic and rethink the aperture and shutter-speed settings
    If the snakes look out of focus, like blurry very bright streaks, increase the aperture number some more; it’s not likely to be focus.
    Take lots of photos, have fun. Try lots of different settings. Change the white balance to daylight and also try fluorescent.
    Please, do this in a small group, watch out for your safety, set back off the road a bit so the motorists don’t think you are a speed trap.
    As a last note, the best pics are when there is still a little light in the sky, that’s the dusk and dawn part. If you can catch an early sunrise as well, wow! However the camera settings (aperture & shutter-speed) will be affected by this; don’t worry practice will make perfect.

  7. 12 Digital Photography Tips for Christmas      By Darren Rowse
    It’s just a few weeks until Christmas so I thought a quick tutorial on the topic of Christmas Photography might be appropriate. Hopefully this will give you some good Christmas photo ideas.

    Here are 12 Christmas Photography tips and ideas to try that come to mind for digital camera owners wanting to capture the big day:

    1. Prepare – Making a List, checking it twice...

      Making sure you’re ready to capture any planned event is part of the key to a successful shoot. Getting yourself ready but also the location of your shots is worthwhile.

      • Pack the camera – goes without saying? I forgot mine last year in the rush to get the car packed.
      • Make sure your batteries are charged and you have extras and/or the recharger packed.
      • Pack extra memory cards – have them empty and ready to fill up
      • Put someone on ‘photos’ – our family has someone on drinks, main course, dessert – why not put someone on ‘photos’ so that in the craziness of the day they don’t get forgotten.
      • Consider the light in the room that you’ll be photographing in. Is there enough light? Will you need a flash? Are the backgrounds too cluttered and distracting?

    2. A White Balance Christmas

      In South Africa you often celebrate Christmas outdoors, but many people around the world do it inside in unnatural lighting. Pay attention to what type of light you’re shooting in and set your white balance settings accordingly.

    3. Set up a DIY ‘Photo Booth’

      While you probably can’t afford to hire a photo booth for your party you can set up a ‘portrait zone’ of your own where you’ll take photos of your guest.

      I did this a few years ago and set up a little place where I asked everyone who came to sit for me so that I could take a nice shot of them.

      I photographed everyone as they came in and then left the camera (a point and shoot) set up on a tripod and set to a short self timer time so people could photograph themselves during the rest of the party.

      I set it up in a well lit position with a red velvet curtain looking background with a few Christmasy decorations around the edges. I left a few Santa hats and tinsel for people to decorate themselves with.

      The shots were great – people went back to it throughout the party and the photos got crazier and crazier as time went on. It was the hit of the party.

    4. Capture the preparation stages

      The actual Christmas meal or party is obviously the best part of the day, but there are other photographic opportunities, particularly in the preparations stages of the day.

      1. Food preparation
      2. Putting up decorations
      3. Wrapping gifts
      4. Kids throwing a tantrum while getting dressed in their Christmas outfits
      5. Setting the table

      The shots before the event starts properly are often great because they show everything at it’s best before everyone descends on your party zone.

    5. Before and After Shots

      Speaking of shots before the party starts, why not set up some before and after shots both of the place you’re holding your party and what it looks like afterwards. Make sure you take the shots from the same position.

    6. Time-lapse Christmas series

      I have one friend who set up his computer with a web cam in the corner of the room with the camera looking down on the Christmas table. He set the camera to go off every 5 minutes over the day and ended up with one of the most wonderful series of shots that I’ve seen for a long time.

    7. Fresh Group Photos

      One of the most common types of shots at Christmas is the ‘group photo’. It’s usually taken at the end of the evening or day when everyone is looking at their worst. For a ‘fresher’ shot take it once everyone has arrived. Also think before hand about how you might pose everyone and where you might take the shot. Check out last months tip posted on the Burblepix website “How to take great group photos”.

    8. Opening Gifts – Shoot in Continuous Mode

      There are certain moments during a Christmas gathering that are filled with all manner of photographic opportunities and the opening of gifts is like no other in that it is filled with an array of emotions, facial expressions and excitement – especially if you’ve got kids around. Switch your camera to burst mode (sometimes called continuous shooting mode) and take lots of shots at this time of the festivities. You’ll find you end up with some excellent series of shots when you do this that capture everything from the anticipation of getting the wrapped gift, through to the excitement of unwrapping to the joy (or occasionally disappointment) of seeing what’s inside. Don’t forget to shoot the reactions of those who GIVE the gift as well.

    9. Fill your Frame

      One of the most common mistakes I see in Christmas photos (or any party/even photography) is that people often end up with shots of their subjects off in the distance on the other side of a room with lots of space around them. Fill your frame with your subject either by using your zoom or getting up and moving yourself closer. While this is one of the simplest tips I ever give it is one that can have the most profound impact on your shots.

    10. Diffuse/Reflect Your Flash

      - Another common problem with Christmas shots is ending up with shots where the flash is so bright that subjects look like rabbits in a spotlight with harsh shadows behind them. One way around this is to use some sort of a flash diffuser or reflector. If you’re lucky enough to have an external flash try bouncing it off walls or the ceiling. Another way to reduce the impact of your flash and to create some interesting effects is to switch your camera into ‘night mode’ (slow sync mode). This will tell your camera to choose a slower shutter speed but still fire your flash. In doing so it’ll capture some of the ambient light of the room as well as freeze your subject. Be warned, you can end up with some wacky shots doing this (but they can also be lots of fun).

    11. Go Macro

      Most digital cameras come with a macro mode and an increasing number of DPS readers are buying macro lenses so flick to that mode, attach your lens and photograph the smaller things around your party. Ornaments on the tree, table decorations, sweets in the bowl on the table, a nativity scene on the mantle piece, holly above the doorway – sometimes it’s these small things around your party that are the real ‘money shots’.

    12. Watch Your Aperture

      I quite often shoot in Aperture Priority mode on a day like Christmas and am constantly changing the aperture depending upon my subject. For example when taking shots of a Christmas decoration on the tree I’ll select a large aperture (a small number like f/2.8) so as to throw the background out of focus, but on a shot taken from the end of the table of everyone sitting down eating I’ll choose a small aperture (like f/8 to f/11 or more) so as to have a larger depth of field and keep everyone in focus.

  8. How to Take Great Group Photos      By Darren Rowse
    In this post we want to give you 12 tips for taking great group photos.

    One of the most common types of digital photographs is the 'group photo'.

    They happen everywhere from weddings, to camps, to parties, to sporting teams, to school etc.

    There must be thousands of group photos taken each day around the world - however unfortunately many of the group photos that I see in my friendship group and on Flickr would leave their photographers disappointed with the results for a variety of reasons.

    Common group photo mistakes and problems include:
    • one or more subjects always seem to be looking away or in different directions (ie at different photographers)
    • subjects blinking (there's always one)
    • someone being missing from the photo
    • different moods in the group (some smiling, some serious, some playing up to the camera etc)
    • the group being too far away or not all fitting into the shot
    While there will always be such challenges with Group Photos there are a number of things you can do to help improve your chances of getting the shot you're after:

    1. Prepare

    There is nothing that will make of people posing for a photograph turn upon you faster than you not being prepared. People don't like to be kept waiting so think ahead about some of the following aspects of your photo:
    • scope out the location of your shot before hand
    • think ahead about how you will pose people and frame your shot
    • one of the group's head hiding behind another person
    • make sure everyone you want in the shot knows you want them a few minutes ahead of time
    • make sure your camera is on and has charged batteries

    2. Location

    The place that you have your group stand is important to group shots for a number of reasons. For starters it can give the photo context - for example a shot of a sporting team on their playing field means more than a shot of them in front of a brick wall. The other reason that choosing locations carefully is important is that it can have distractions in it.

    Choose a position where your group will fit, where there is enough light for the shot and where there is no distractions in the background. Also avoid setting up a group shot directly in front of a window where the light from your flash might reflect back in a way that destroys your shot.

    3. Take Multiple Shots

    One of the best ways to avoid the problems of not everyone looking just right in a shot is to take multiple photos quickly. I often switch my camera into continuous shooting mode when taking group shots and shoot in short bursts of shots. I find that the first shot is often no good but that the one or two directly after it often give a group that looks a little less posed and more relaxed.

    Similarly - shoot some frames off before everyone is ready - sometimes the organization of a group shot can be quite comical with people tell each other where to go and jostling for position.

    Also mix up the framing of your shots a little if you have a zoom lens by taking some shots that are at a wide focal length and some that are more tightly framed.

    4. Get in Close

    Try to get as close as you can to the group you're photographing (without cutting some members of it out of course). The closer you can get the more detail you'll have in their faces - something that really lifts a shot a lot.

    If your group is a smaller one get right in close to them and take some head and shoulder shots. One effective technique for this is to get your small group to all lean their heads in close to enable you to get in even closer. Another way to get in closer is to move people out of a one line formation and stagger them but putting some people in front and behind.

    5. Pose the group

    In most cases your group will pose itself pretty naturally (we've all done it before). Tall people will go to the back, short people to the front. But there are other things you can do to add to the photo's composition:

    • If the event is centered around one or two people (like a wedding or a birthday) make them the central focal point by putting them right in the middle of the group (you can add variation to your shots by taking some of everyone looking at the camera and then everyone looking at the person/couple).
    • For formal group photos put taller members in the group not only towards the back of the group but centered with shorter people on the edges of the group.
    • Try not to make the group too 'deep' (ie keep the distance between the front line of people and the back line as small as you can). This will help to keep everyone in focus. If the group is 'deep' use a narrower aperture.
    • Tell everyone to raise their chins a little - they'll thank you later when they see the shot without any double chins!

    6. Timing Your Shoot Well

    Pick the moment for your shot carefully. Try to choose a time that works with what is happening at the gathering that you're at. I find it best to do a group shot when the group is already close together if possible and when there is a lull in proceedings.

    Also towards the start of events can be a good time as everyone is all together, they all look their best and if there is alcohol involved no one is too under the weather yet.

    7. Think about Light

    In order to get enough detail in your subjects you need to have sufficient light. The way you get this varies from situation to situation but consider using a flash if the group is small enough and you are close enough for it to take effect - especially if the main source of light is coming from behind the group.

    If it's a bright sunny day and the sun is low in the sky try not to position it directly behind you or you'll end up with a collection of squinting faces in your shot.

    8. Take Control

    I've been in a number of group photos where the photographer almost lost control of his subjects by not being quick enough but also by not communicating well with their group of subjects. It is important to keep talking to the group, let them know what you want them to do, motivate them to smile, tell them that they look great and communicate how much longer you'll need them for.

    Also important is to give your subjects a reason to pose for the photograph. For example at a wedding you might motivate people to pose by saying '((insert name of couple being married here)) have asked me to get some group shots' or at a sporting event 'lets take a group photo to celebrate our win'. When you give people a reason to pose for you you'll find they are much more willing to take a few minutes to pose for you.

    Another very useful line to use with group is - 'If you can see the camera it can see you'. This one is key if you want to be able to see each person's face in the shot.

    If there are more photographers than just you then wait until others have finished their shots and then get the attention of the full group otherwise you'll have everyone looking in different directions.

    Of course you don't want to be a dictator when posing your group or you could end up with lots of group shots of very angry people. The best photographers know how to get people's attention, communicate what they want but also keep people feeling relaxed and like they are having fun.

    9. For large groups

    Large groups of people can be very difficult to photograph as even with staggering people and tiering to make the back people higher you can end up being a long way back to fit everyone in.

    One solution to this is to find a way to elevate yourself as the photographer. If I'm photographing a wedding and the couple wants one big group shot I'll arrange for a ladder to be present (I've even climbed up onto church roofs) to take a shot looking down on the group. In doing this you can fit a lot more people in and still remain quite close to the group (you end up with a shot of lots of faces in focus and less bodies). It also gives an interesting perspective to your shots - especially if you have a nice wide focal length.

    10. Use a Tripod

    There are a number of reasons why using a tripod when taking photographs of groups can be useful. Firstly a tripod communicates that you're serious about what you're doing and can help you get their attention (it's amazing what a professional looking set up can make people do). Secondly it gives you as the photographer more freedom to be involved in the creation of the posing of your subjects. Set your camera up on your tripod so that's ready to take the shot in terms of framing, settings and focus and then it will be ready at an instant when you get the group looking just right to capture the moment.

    11. Use an Assistant

    If you have a very large group and assistant can be very handy to get the group organized well.

    An assistant is also incredibly handy if you are taking multiple group shots (like at a wedding when you're photographing different configurations of a family). In these cases I often ask the couple to provide me with a family or friend member who has a running sheet of the different groups of people to be photographed. I then get this person to ensure we have everyone we need in each shot. Having a family member do this helps to make sure you don't miss anyone out but also is good because the group is familiar with them and will generally respond well when they order them around.

    12. Smile

    Yes YOU should smile! There's nothing worse than a grumpy stressed out photographer. Have fun and enjoy the process of getting your shots and you'll find the group will too. I usually come home from a wedding which I've photographed with an incredibly sore jaw-line from all the smiling because I find the best way to get the couple and their family to relax and smile is to smile at them. It really does work.

  9. Using Focal Points in Photography    By Darren Rowse
    Next time you take your digital camera out and line it up for a shot pause before you press the shutter button and ask yourself:

    “What is the Focal Point in this Picture?” Some other ways to ask the same question might include - What is the central point of interest? What will draw the eye of the viewers of this picture? What in this image will make it stand out from others? What is my subject?

    The reason a focal point is important is that when you look at an image your eye will generally need a 'resting place' or something of interest to really hold it. Without it you'll find people will simply glance at your shots and then move on to the next one.

    Once you've identified a point of interest or focal point you then should ask yourself how you can enhance it.

    6 Techniques to Enhance the Focal Point in an Image

    A focal point can be virtually anything ranging from a person, to a building, to a mountain, to a flower etc. Obviously the more interesting the focal point the better - but there are other things you can do to enhance it's power including:

    • Position - Place it in a prominent position - you might want to start with the rule of thirds for some ideas.
    • Focus - Learn to use Depth of Field to blur out other aspects in front or behind your focal point.
    • Blur - If you really want to get tricky you might want to play with slower shutter speeds if your main subject is still and things around it are moving.
    • Size - making your focal point large is not the only way to make it prominent - but it definitely can help.
    • Color - using contrasting colors can also be a way of setting your point of interest apart from it's surroundings.
    • Shape - similarly contrasting shapes and textures can make a subject stand out - especially patterns that are repeated around a subject.

    Keep in mind that a combination of above elements can work well together.

    Lastly - don't confuse the viewer with too many competing focal points which might overwhelm the main focal point. Secondary points of interest can be helpful to lead the eye but too many strong ones will just clutter and confuse.

    Source: Digital Picture School

  10. Photographing Babies
    Any parent will tell you how quickly time flies and before you know it, your baby will have left the cot for the classroom. Our tips this month will help you make the most of your time with them. Make picture-taking a part of your lifestyle so you can catch all those amazing firsts. These tips can help you take pictures you'll want to share with friends and relatives and treasure for years to come.

    Take pictures frequently
    Catch each step of baby's development—the first smile, the first bath, the first tooth, the first step. Babies change so rapidly, make sure you capture all the milestones before they become history. Or show a day in the life of baby. From the morning's waking stretch to the evening's yawns, track your child for one full day. You'll have a series you'll cherish for years to come.

    Capture feelings
    A smirk, a frown, a wail—capture all the emotions, not just the pretty smiles. Babies are uninhibited and uncensored. Show it in your pictures.

    Get close
    Fill the camera's viewfinder or LCD display with your subject to create pictures with greater impact. Step in close or use your camera's zoom to emphasize what is important and exclude the rest. Check the manual for your camera's closest focusing distance.

    Try different angles
    Start by shooting at the baby's eye level. Prop the baby on someone's shoulder. Or line up several little ones on the couch. Try something different—stand on a (sturdy!) chair and shoot down at the baby in the cot.

    Include other people in pictures
    Capture others with the baby—Big Sister feeding the baby, Grandpa dancing with his baby granddaughter. Or introduce two babies to each other and catch that instant bonding in their eyes.

    Use a simple background
    An uncluttered background focuses attention on the subject, resulting in a stronger picture. Place your subject against a plain, non-distracting background. Alternatively, sometimes just moving yourself (and the camera) a few feet one way or the other can eliminate distractions from view.

    Use natural light
    You may be surprised to learn that cloudy, overcast days provide the best lighting for pictures of people. Bright sun makes people squint, and it throws harsh shadows on their faces. On overcast days, the soft light flatters faces. Indoors, try turning off the flash and use the light coming in from a window to give your subject a soft, almost glowing appearance.


  11. Photographing children
    Kids are always climbing, building, exploring, trying out new things. Don't just photograph them on holidays and birthdays. Make picture-taking a part of your everyday life.

    Begin a photo tradition Take pictures regularly so that you, your family, and friends can see how much your child has changed. Capture your child setting off for the first day of school each year. Or mark your child's growth against a tree as you watch your child and the tree grow. Or every Father's Day, surround Grandpa with all the grandkids. (Reads more)

    Be patient
    Don't expect to get the perfect shot immediately. Sit back and wait for the right moment, then shoot quickly.

    Shoot at eye level
    Eye-to-eye contact is as engaging in a picture as in real life. So try sitting on the ground and snapping some photos from the child's perspective. Expressions will look more natural, your flash photos will be more evenly lit from nose to toe, and the background will probably look a lot better, too. This also works well for pets!

    Take candid pictures
    Ignore the impulse to force your subjects to always pose staring at the camera. Variety is important. Take candid pictures to show them working, playing, leaning against a banister chatting, or relaxing.

    Include friends
    Don't forget to include your children's friends in some of your pictures. In years to come, these pictures will remind them of happy times and the bonds that were so strong.

    Get close
    Fill the camera's viewfinder or LCD display with your subject to create pictures with greater impact. Step in close or use your camera's zoom to emphasize what is important and exclude the rest. Check the manual for your camera's closest focusing distance.

    Lock the focus
    A picture of several people can come out blurry because most auto-focus cameras focus on the area in the center of the viewfinder. When photographing two people, this can spell disaster—the tree in the background will be in perfect focus, and your subjects blurry. To remedy this, lock the focus on the subject. Usually you do this by centering the subject in the viewfinder and then pressing the shutter button halfway down. Continue holding the button halfway down while you move the camera until your subject is where you want it in the viewfinder. When you are satisfied, press the button all the way down to take the picture.

    Place your subject off-center
    Placing your subject to one side of the frame can make the composition more interesting and dynamic. But if your camera is an auto-focus model, the picture may turn out blurry because those cameras focus on whatever is in the center of the viewfinder. Check your camera manual for how to use the focus lock feature to prefocus on the subject. Usually it is done by pressing the shutter button halfway down and then recomposing the picture while still holding the button halfway down.


  12. Photographing Sport and Action
    Sporting events are the perfect place to capture the action as well as the emotion of family friends and spectators. The human drama of competition, the joy of victory and the agony of defeat all make for great photographic moments.

    Capture fast-moving subjects with ease using the Sports/Action mode. It uses fast shutter speeds to keep pictures sharp - so you don't miss the moment, no matter how fast it moves. Just focus the camera by pushing the shutter halfway down. Then, when the subject moves into place, click away.

    Many cameras now include a continuous or burst mode that snaps a number of pictures in succession. You can snap off six shots with one press of the button, then pick out the best one later.

    Use the image stabilization feature on your camera to correct for an unsteady hand. This is especially helpful when using the zoom lens. Use a tripod if handy or rest the camera against a steady object like a wall or railing.

    Stretch out. Take a few practice swings.

    Take pictures of the warm-ups. Not only can you get great candid shots, you'll be able to get closer to the field, become more familiar with the team and get a chance to practice capturing the action.

    Take lots of pictures. Action is one of the hardest things to capture because the timing is so critical. Even the pros take dozens of shots to get one perfect picture.

    Follow the action. Pan with your camera and press the shutter button while still moving the camera. Your subject will be sharp, but the background will blur, indicating speed.

    Pre-focus. Aim the camera at a spot where the action is likely to occur and press the shutter down until the focus locks. Keep looking through the viewfinder and be ready to shoot when the moment presents itself. The key is to anticipate the action and get ahead of the ball. Don't follow the ball, or you'll be too late. Sometimes a person's reaction to the action makes for a great shot too.

    Pre-focusing takes practice, especially if your camera has a long shutter lag (the time between when you press the button and when the camera takes the picture). But it usually gives better results.

    Tell the story.

    Don't worry about trying to take lots of great pictures. Worry about taking lots of pictures that tell a great story—one with a beginning, a middle, and an end.

    Get the action on the field, but don't forget about the coaches, umpiress, spectators, and the stray dog on the field. They're all part of the experience. Start seeing the game from other points of view.

    You want the people that see your pictures to say, "Wow, I wish I'd been there," instead of "Wow, look at those smiling kids in bright blue uniforms."


  13. Tips To Remember When Photographing Groups     By Adrian Shields
    Shooting groups of people can best be tackled as follows: Make sure the most important people are centered in the group. Group the rest of the people on both sides with their shoulders turned towards the centre. If the group being photographed are all family members or good friends then it is often worth getting them to hold onto each other - this makes the photograph more intimate.

    It is often advisable to shoot these groups from slightly above which helps to avoid double chins etc. Get the groups attention before taking the pic so that they are all focused on your camera. Say something amusing to make them smile and take three to four really quick photographs just incase someone blinks.

    Always use flash photography for large groups as often one person may have more deep set eyes than the person standing next to them and you will therefore want to fill all of these shadow areas with balanced lighting.

    Adrian Shields will be running a holiday photographic course for scholars during the world cup school vacations in the Hillcrest area. The course will cover photography and lighting for photography. For further information email

  14. Photographing people     By Fiona Jane
    We love to see ourselves in pictures. Probably more than 90% of the photographs in the average photo album are people pictures, not just images that have people in them, but photos where the actual subject is one or more persons. With this in mind Fiona Jane has given us a brief but helpful tip.

    Make your subject/subjects as comfortable as possible in front of the camera, don't force the smile, it needs to come naturally, as the photographer you need to allow this to happen. Capture your subject spontaneously, and ensure the essence of the subject remains the main purpose of the photograph. Most important of all, close ups remain powerful and intimate, so don't be shy to get a little closer to your subjects!

    Your people photography should improve and over time, you will come up with better and better ways to make your images of those around you more attractive and interesting. For those of you keen on learning more about photographing people Fiona has recently introduced a 3 day workshop on “The Art of photographing your Child” which is bound to appeal to all you mums out there.

  15. Beginner Tips for photography.      By Kevin Bender
    1. You don't need the most expensive camera to start photography

      It is very possible to get great photographs with an inexpensive point and shoot camera. Don't be too concerned about getting a camera with the highest megapixels. The more photos you take, the more you will be ready and know about what kind of camera to get when it's time to upgrade.

      2. Add a tripod to your kit
      A tripod is worth getting. many great photograph opportunites are ruined because of shaky hands or low light. A small inexpensive tripod will work just fine. For even more stability, use your camera's self timer function with a tripod.

      3. Keep your camera with you all the time
      Photo opportunities often come when you least expect it. If you can keep your equipment quite simple, like a small camera bag and a tripod, you might be able to take advantage of some of the unexpected opportunities that pop up everywhere. If your phone has a camera, use it to take 'notes' on scenes or subjects that you would like to return to with your regular camera.

      4. Make a list of photographs you'd like to get
      If you don't have your camera with you, keep a small notebook and write down places / things you'd like to come back and photograph. Make sure to note any important details, like the lighting, so you can come back at the same time of day or when the weather's right.

      5. Don't overlook mundane subjects for photography
      You might not see anything interesting to photograph in your living room or your backyard, but try looking at familiar surroundings with fresh eyes. You might catch an interesting trick of the light or find some unexpected wildflowers in your yard. Often a simple subject makes the best photograph.

      6. Enjoy the learning process
      Photography is a great hobby and one of the best things about photography is that you will never run out of things to learn. Inspiration is all around you. Try looking at everything with the eyes of a photographer and you'll see opportunities you never noticed before.

      7. Take advantage of free resources to learn
      There are many online galleries like Flickr for example. Take a look at these websites for ideas, inspiration and tips. You can also get a lot of great books on all types of photography from your local library. Another great way to learn about digital photography is to download free image manipulation software and play with post-processing your images on your computer. Many digital cameras come with some photo editing software. Learn to use this to enhance your digital photographs.

      8. Experiment with your camera's settings
      Many people think they need a powerful, expensive DSLR (Digital single lens reflex) camera to take great pictures. Your point and shoot may be a lot more powerful and flexible than you know. Read the manual for help on all those little symbols and buttons on your camera. Don't just leave the settings on 'program'. As you learn and try different things, shoot your subjects with multiple settings to learn what effects you like and to see what the different settings will do. When you're looking at your photos on your computer, and you find a photograph you like, look at the EXIF data of the photograph. This will tell you the settings that were used when this photograph was taken. You can usually find the EXIF data in the file's properties.

      9. Take photos regularly
      When I was young, the advice given to me was 'don't take too many photographs'. This was largely due to the fact that we used film and that along with the processing costs, this could be expensive. If you are using a digital camera, shoot often, there is no cost in shooting digital. When you have selected the photographs you like, you can. Use them in a photo book Try to photograph something every day. If this is not possible, you can simply practice regularly so that you don't forget what you have learned. A really good way to keep shooting often is to set yourself some assignments that you can work through. Choose a theme for the week for example.

      10. Don't be afraid to experiment
      If you're using a digital camera, the cost of errors is free. Try many different things, different settings, different angles. You will be surprised what you come up with and you will find that you may end up with something you like. You will also learn a lot in this process. One of the best tips is to just have fun and enjoy your camera.

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