January 29, 2012

How to shoot a baby – getting ready.

This week, we’re trying something a little new with Frame One. Instead of mini-tips, we’re picking a subject and dedicating a week of posts to show how to make it happen. It’s like Shark Week, without the Sharks, or mega budget.

Blurry, expected.

How to shoot a baby. With a camera. What did you think I was talking about?

I have kids. Lots and lots of kids. And they’re all just so darn gorgeous that it’s no wonder I picked up a camera and started snapping their pics.

But it wasn’t easy.

I started taking photos of most of my little ones when they were babies. What I (quickly) learned is that babies can be just about the toughest subjects to shoot. They’re super fast. They don’t take direction well. And they eat crayons, which you don’t notice on their new teeth until two days later when you’re editing the photos to send to nana.

So you’ve got to be both faster and smarter than a baby (way harder than it sounds). Before you grab your camera, you need to think about a couple of things:

Consider what you want to do.
Snapshot of the action? Formal portrait? Start by thinking about what you want the photo to look like.

Having an iPhone around makes it easy to take loads of photos.

Shoot lots.
Babies blink, move, sneeze, grab your glasses and get gas. Take at least 3-4 photos of any given moment to make sure you got a good one.

Use your windows.
Please, please, please don’t light your baby with the flash on your camera. You want here to look like an actual baby – not an overlit alien. Take photos near windows or screen doors. So pretty.

Think about “zone” coverage.
Babies are super speedy -- so fast that they’ll tick off your autofocus, which will then refuse to work for you. Don’t follow the baby around. Instead, point your camera in a specific area. Look through the lens. Get a good background. Then wait. The baby should show up in your frame. When he does, start clicking as fast as you can.

Babies are great to shoot from different perspectives.
Move around.
Don’t take the same baby photos as everyone else. Get down to the babies level. Stand up super high on a chair. Try cool stuff out. You will be amazed at the different shots you’ll get.

January 17, 2012

#51 – Make instant reflectors to add a little light to your snapshot

Lots of reflectors in here.

You are going to look so cool when you’re finished reading this post.

One of the biggest problems with photography comes down to how you balance out light and shadows. Use your onboard flash and you’ll bathe everything right in front of you in light. Beyond that, it can be dark and gloomy. Or if you’re taking a photo of the dinner you made with your cell phone. Put the plate near the window and the front looks great, but things are a bit more shadowy at the edges of the plate.

The good news – there’s a really easy, really useful trick for getting more light into a shot. It’s called a reflector and you should make it your very best friend.

A reflector is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a surface that reflects light back onto a subject. I like to think of it as a shadow eraser. If I take a photo and there are annoying shadows (or darkness) in weird places, I’ll use a reflector or two to help out.

Pro photographers use big, crazy things to reflect back light, but smart photographers use just about anything. White reflectors are great because they soften the light that hits it and bounce it back on a subject for a pleasing look.

Just about anything can be a reflector.
A white dinner plate. A piece of foamcore. A bed sheet. I even heard about a food photographer who uses white napkins she grabs from fast food places to bounce light onto her pics.
Move your reflectors around (or use more than one).
Try moving your reflectors around to erase your shadows. A little nudge here, a second reflector there can make a very big difference to your work.

Try out different coloured reflectors.
White isn’t your only choice. You can use a mirror to get the same strength light, a crumpled up piece of tinfoil to get something stronger than white but not as bright as a mirror, or something golden to reflect back a warmer coloured light. Bonus – you can use a black reflector to add more shadows to your picture.

Don’t forget about walls and ceilings.
Some of the best reflectors are ceilings and walls. When light bounces off of these things, they create a great big soft light source. Imagine taking a portrait of your dad on a sunny day. Put the sun behind him so he faces a white wall. Suddenly that crazy bright sun will make a whole lot prettier photo.

January 9, 2012

#50 – What to do after you shoot your photo

"Taking" the photo is only half the adventure.

Now that you’ve got the frame in your digital camera, what are you going to do with it? Save it to your computer? Edit it? Share it with the world. These days, there’s just so many options (Flickr! Picasa! Instagram!). Over the last year, Frame One offered some tips, tricks and ideas on organizing, editing and showing off your work:

If you leave your photos on your camera for months on end, you’re asking for trouble Figure out where to keep photos, what you call ‘em and how you fix each and every one.

Get to know the controls of one program – but which program? This post (and this Bonus one) show you why you should pick just a single program – and which ones work best.

Want to make editing easier? Buy a bigger memory card, skip the JPEG format and go straight for RAW. This digital negative makes everything easier to edit.

Want to share a slideshow with family and friends. Here’s three ways to make it happen.

January 2, 2012

#49 – The essentials for what happens on the other side of the camera.

It’s so easy to get lost.

You’re trying to set up that perfect holiday family portrait. You get everyone near a big window for light. You start playing with the dials on your camera to get the right settings. You check your historgram to make sure everything is right.

And then you forget what’s happening in the actual photo. Are there messy faces? Did you group everyone the right way? What about background distractions?

There can be so (very) many obstacles to taking a great photo – which is exactly why I wrote a whack of posts last year on the subject of ... well, subjects. Five posts about taking better photos of people:

Still taking snapshots of friends and family from the straight ahead position (and putting them in the centre?). Think about changing your perspective to improve your photos.

Smiling faces? Meh. Go for the range of emotion when taking a portrait snapshot for stunning shots.

People are vertical, which means at least some of your photos should be vertical too. Here’s a handful of tips on how to make it better.

One of the more popular posts of the year. Here’s a few tricks to make everyone you know look fabulous.

They used to teach this one in photo school – put your subjects on an angle to get more character out of the snapshot.

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