July 27, 2011

#29 – Make everyone look smarter, thinner and prettier.

I’m not what you’d call a “thin” guy.

I’m tall. I’m middle aged. I’m – well it’s my blog so I’ll be kind to myself – cherubic.

Generally, I’m just fine with that. It’s just that when I get around to looking at myself in most pictures, I think “oh man – who’s that fat dude?”

When it comes to photos, everybody you know has something that they fear. Crows feet. Double chins. Moles. Personally, I think these things make people look beautiful and individual. The person your photographing probably doesn’t agree.

So if you want to be a star in the eyes of the people you take pictures of, know a few simple tricks that make everyone look just that much better.

Look better – use white balance + Clean and Clear wipes.
Here’s how to deal with pale and shiny people. You can manage the tan-less (guilty as charged) by taking a photo of them outdoors near dusk. The light is rich and golden, making them look … rich and golden. Using a flash? Try putting a little translucent orange duotang cover over the flash to create some colour (just not tooooo orange). If that doesn't work, just shoot in black and white. And as for the shine that comes from a little sweat? Try Clean and Clear wipes. Works like a charm.

Look thinner – get up a little higher + use shadows.
Shoot someone from a higher angle to make them look thinner, simple as that. Want to hide something specific? Get them to turn their body into the shadowy side of the photo. Instant svelte.

Look prettier – know which is a model’s “best side” + use depth of field.
Remember the old adage “photograph my good side?” That’s a real thing. People have better sides to photo. Take a couple snaps of yourself on each side and decide. Another idea? Soften the look of the photo by turning up the aperture (up = a lower number like 2.8). We’ll cover “depth of field” in another post. For now, be happy that you just made someone look fabulous.

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July 21, 2011

#28 – Use the RAW file format now to make editing easier later.

Shot in RAW, easy to convert to black and white.

It’s like doing ballet in a phone booth.

You’ve got all these megapixels in your camera and yet you only have so much space on your memory card. What do you choose? Small file size? Jumbo JPEGS? RAW?

I say buy a bigger card (they’re crazy cheap these days) and use the RAW setting – it’s what I do on every one of my cameras, from the giant SLRs down to my point-and-shoot.

RAW is a digital negative.
RAW is kinda-sorta the digital camera equivalent of the negatives you used to drop off at the pharmacy back in the film camera days. The files are uncompressed so the file sizes tend to be very large – and not every point-and-shoot camera out there actually has a RAW setting.

RAW files give you flexibility.
Because it’s a digital negative that hasn’t been compressed, a RAW file lets you do all sorts of things when you edit your photo on your computer. Did you or your camera pick the wrong white balance? You can choose a different one in your photo editor. Because the RAW files are uncompressed, you also get the cleanest file to work on. That means items in the background can be sharper and look better.
What if you can’t shoot RAW?
If you’re using an older or inexpensive digital camera, there’s a good bet that it doesn’t come with the RAW option. What do you do then? Shoot on the highest quality file setting you can. You won’t get all the bells and whistles of a digital negative, but you will have more flexibility when it comes to making your photos look fanfreakintastic.

Daily examples + conversation on Facebook.
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July 14, 2011

Bonus – Three cool extras for your summertime photos.


It’s hot enough out there to develop a Texan accent and come up with some homespun metaphor about the heat.

Lucky for us, we’re talking about a cool photo technique this week – and to add to the coolness (coolosity?), three pieces of gear worth checking out:

How many times are you at a summertime party and can’t find someone to shoot a great snap? That’s where the gorillpod comes in. It’s small, light and the legs bend into crazy shapes so you can wrap it around just about anything. A simply and cool add on to any purse or knapsack.
Photojojo! The Book – Great ideas for fun and funky photo projects.
Photojojo is just about one of my favourite spots on the Internet. They’ve always got great ideas, tips and projects for anyone who wants to do a little more with photography. Hitting the beach? Get this summertime read to tagalong – it’s worth a flip through.
Plushtography – For when you need a nap.
I have six kids. I like to nap – and now I want to nap with a giant pillow that looks like a camera lens. This falls in the “so ridiculous I must have one” category. Sadly, they’re currently backordered on just about everything. If you’re a little too into photography, these are for you.

Want to se some great photos and get in on some seriously good photo discussions? Check out Intel Canada’s page on Facebook.

July 13, 2011

#27 – Shoot vertically for a whole new way to look at things.

People are vertical. Tall buildings are vertical. Vases full of flowers are vertical.

And yet, 90% of your photos are horizontal. Sure, I just made that statistic up, but if you’re anything like every other person with a point-and-shoot camera, you’re taught that horizontal is just about the only way to take a picture.

If you’re only shooting horizontally, you’re missing half the great photos you should be taking. Shooting vertically gives you a whole different perspective on things. It forces you to think creatively by not putting every single part that landscape in the shot. It challenges you to crop faces when taking a picture of a person. All you need to do is turn your camera and watch the magic unfold.

Take two photos of every person.
If I’m taking a portrait, I’m sure to tell my subject I’m going to do two shots – one vertical and one horizontal.

Get crazy with the headroom.

This is one of my favourite tricks – add a whole bunch of headroom overtop of your subject. It’s great when shooting in gyms or at awards ceremonies because you often have a great big curtained backdrop to work with.

Resist the urge to go horizontal.
Cameras are built to make you think about taking every picture horizontally. Challenge yourself. Try shooting every picture with a vertical look – even the ones of horizontal things. You’ll surprise yourself and your photos will look memorable.

Daily examples + conversation on Facebook.
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Bonus tips on Twitter.
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July 1, 2011

Bonus – How to shoot fireworks.

Happy Canada Day/4th of July/almost Bastille Day.

In amongst the hot dogs, ice cold beer and kids passed out in the back seat on the way home, there will be fireworks. And in between the “oohing” and “ahhing,” you might be thinking to yourself “I’d sure like a picture of those things.

But every time you press the shutter you get this dull, weird looking single streak of light that doesn’t really look like the lightshow you see.

There’s a good reason for this of course. If you’ve got your camera on Auto or P, it’s trying to make decisions for you. And because it doesn't know you’re trying to take a picture of exploding light in the sky, it’s not going to do what you want.

All you need to do is tell your camera that you want to take a picture of fireworks by setting a nice long shutter speed. It’s easy and fast, and here’s how you do it…

1.           Turn your camera to Tv/S (or M if you’re comfortable) – the key to shooting fireworks is a long shutter speed.
2.         Dial in your shutter speed to somewhere around 4 seconds. You can play with the length of time as you shoot, but I get good results with four seconds.
3.          Put your camera on a tripod or a table that can see the fireworks. If you move the camera as you shoot, the camera will know and pick up the motion. You can shoot fireworks handheld, but the shots won’t be crisp.
4.         Anticipate the shot. This one’s important. If you try and take a photo of a firework as it’s exploding in the sky, you’ve already missed the shot. But you have to focus, so press the shutter halfway down when a firework is in mid explosion and wait with your finger still pressing halfway down. This sets the autofocus. As soon as you see the next firework head into the sky, press the shutter all the way down. (If you want to avoid doing this with every shot, you can set your focus and turn off autofocus altogether.)

There are other cool tricks you can do – like shaking the camera all around as the fireworks explode overhead for nifty light trails (that's what I did with the photo up top). The big thing with fireworks is to try stuff out. Play with the shutter speed. Change the white balance. Play!