Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Photo Class 101

Dear Readers, with the holidays upon us, I thought I would repeat a photo class I did for the summer camp I worked for this year. It was the kids' most favorite class they did at the camp, and their shooting did improve. I have designed this class to give you basic rules about shooting to teach you how to improve composition and lighting with any point-and-shoot (camera fits in your pocket) or SLR (big, hunky, manual camera that makes most people scared and makes me giddy like a school girl). I hope this will improve your holiday pictures so that you can enjoy the photos for years to come without flinching every time you look at a photo.

(Note -- all the photos to the left are incorrect and to the right correct)

Rule 1: Keep Your Camera Ready – so you don’t miss your special moments. (Note -- this is especially true of digital cameras since there is a little lag time between pushing the button and recording the shot. Hold your finger on the button pressed half way down to eliminate some of that lag time, especially for action shots)

Rule 1

2. Get Close - As a general rule, the closer you get to the subject, the better your pictures will be. (Note -- sometimes having your subject a little out of frame is more interesting in a close up).

Rule 2

3. Hold Your Camera Steady – using both hands still helps to prevent blurriness. (Note -- locking your elbows into your sides while holding the camera can help reduce blurry shots in low light, like dusk).

Rule 3

4. Use A Simple Background - A simple background focuses attention on the subject and makes clear, strong pictures. (Note -- the exception is white walls, they tend to wash people out and create ugly shadows).

Rule 4

5. Place The Subject Off-Center – This can make your pictures more interesting. (Note -- you don't always have to do this with portraits, but it can make things more interesting, especially if the subject is going out of the frame a little bit).

Rule 5

6. Include Foreground In Scenics - Elements in the foreground add a sense of distance, depth, and dimension. (Note -- it can be as simple as a tree branch, although a thumb in front of the lens does not count).

Rule 6

7. Look For Good Lighting - Overcast days often provide the best lighting for pictures of people. Morning and evening also give good light. Make sure the sun is behind your head, not in front of the camera.

Rule 7

8. Use Your Flash - Using flash outdoors can soften shadows and brighten colors. It is important to use flash within the range it was designed to illuminate. In most cases basic flash units will give good results between 4-12 feet of the subject. (Note -- if your flash automatically fires when your subject is many feet away, such as in fireworks or Christmas lights at night, a few feet in front of you will be illuminated and the thing you are trying to shoot will be grainy and muddy -- most cameras allow you to force the flash to be turned off).

Rule 8

9. Use the Rule of Thirds - Make a triangle with your subjects. (Note -- your goal should be to make every part of your picture separated into thirds, including the background.)

Rule 9

I hope you all enjoyed your basic photography lesson. If you have specific questions, please feel free to ask in the comments section. Just remember that what can't be fixed behind the lens can be made up for in Adobe Photoshop or Google Picassa (or as I like to call it "The Church Mouse's Photoshop").


Emily said...

fantastic! Thanks for the tips. May you guide and remind me in person through this glorious holiday season.

Jake said...

When should I expect a royalty check for the use of my copyrighted photos?

K&B Brown said...

These are great rules. As I am very amateur to photography, it is always nice to get pointers. Hopefully my photos will turn out and make for great blog postings.

Shawn Macomber said...

Jake: Someday you'll be dead and your family will be able to do what they like with the pictures, so maybe no royalties now is like a down payment for future kindnesses. But if you still want to sue, my wife is a lawyer.

Now, Jake, Don't read this:
(Alice, we'll entertain counter-offers.)

Ali-kat said...

Thanks Shawn. Jake you can $0 for your shared usage, which is at least 10% of what I've made off of them. Don't you want the people to learn from your triumphs and errors?

Elizabeth said...

ali...i will never remember any of your rules. what i do need is for you to help me pick out a new camera. i know that you are sick...but...looking at and talking about cameras should make you feel better.

Emily said...

I tagged you!