March 21, 2012

How to shoot a day out with the kids – the settings to use.

Blurry -- should have turned myself into a human tripod first.

You hear the giggling and you know what to do.

The kids are at the local dinosaur museum and they’ve the mummies exhibit. You have found your moment, so you reach for your camera – or cell phone camera – and...

And what? You could flip on the power switch, jam your finger down on the shutter button and hope for the best But there’s a better than average chance that your shot will be blurry, look all green or be entirely out of focus. If you’re heading out for the day, get ready beforehand – take a minute to dial in these settings for better photos.

With a Point-and-Shoot
Point-and-shoot cameras give you great creative control.


Outside? Use “Sunny.” Outside on a cloudy day? Try “Cloudy?” Inside? Take a few shots to figure out what kind of light you’re dealing with.  If you’re shooting in RAW, it’s easy to change this with your image editing program.

Shutter Speed
Set your shutter speed at 1/60 to capture slowish moving moments – 1/125th for something a little faster.

Sets automatically if you’re in Tv or S.

Outside during the day? Try 100-200. Inside or at night? 400-800.

Switch to “Landscape mode.”

Outdoor light works great – but remember that a sunny afternoon is going to make harsh light. Try to avoid flash unless your indoor pictures are still coming out super dark.

Don’t Forget!
Try to anticipate the shot and lock in your autofocus before an event happens. This makes taking the photo easier.

With a Cell Phone

We all do it – just turn on the cell phone and take the photo. Resist the temptation. Download a good program for your mobile and use the settings you see above. Oooooor you could just turn on the cell phone and take the photo. Just remember these settings:

Be somewhere bright if you can. Flash only when you must.

Anticipate! Focus on the spot where the action is happening and wait for the action to unfold.

Try using a program with a “big button,” one that allows you to tap the entire screen to take the photo.

Don’t Forget
You can “create” moments. Wait until your subject is in the right place and yell their name. They’l turn around fast, you shoot and you probably have a great picture.
Also Try
Got a “burst mode” on your software? Try that out – it takes a bunch of photos in a row, so you can be sure that one of your images doesn’t include blinking eyes, turned heads or unfortunate frowns.

March 16, 2012

Five ways to snapshoot a day out with the kids.

There’s probably nothing better – and just about nothing worse.

It’s March Break. You’ve packed up the brood for a day at the park/zoo/tutor (kidding) and you’re excited by the prospect of taking some great snaps of the day. Perfect for that shiny SLR you got on sale in January. You stuff a bag with a couple of lenses, memory cards, cleaner, maybe a flash (or two). Then you lug the thing to the park/zoo/tutor and spend the day cursing as you balance changing lenses with changing diapers.

Big cameras and multiple-lenses are great – for other days. When it’s time to get out and enjoy your family, you want to get out and enjoy your family.

So do that.

When I hit the park these days, it’s generally with a teeny-tiny iPhone in the hip pocket or a point-and-shoot – even a compact SLR with a small zoom lens does the trick. I don’t worry about the camera at all on days like these. I just head out and try to take interesting photos without worrying about the technology. And you know what? Mum, Nana and friends like that there’s a document of what’s happening, which is the real reason you’re taking photos in the first place.

How do you get the most out of that camera? Remember these (non-technical) details.

Tell a story.

Establishing shot - good to tell a story.
Balance the wide stuff against the portrait shots.

We went to the park the other day for a couple of hours of hanging off monkey bars and spinning in tire swings. To make sure we remembered the trip the right way, I started with an establishing shot of the park, the followed up with photos of each player – so we could remember each child’s day the right way. Create a story with lots of big wide shots and close ups to share with friends or family.

Shoot – a lot.

Shooting without regard for settings and other photo trickery means lots of overexposed images, blinking eyes and dirty faces. Work around that by loading up your camera with lots and lots of photos. Instead of snapping one picture at the top of the slide, snap four – you’re bound to get something you like.

Don’t get tripped up by the settings.
Stick the camera on “P” and maaaaaybe think about setting the white balance (not really necessary if you’re shooting RAW files). Let your camera or phone do the work today. You’ve got lots of chasing to do instead.

Outside? One word – shade.
Noonday will render just about every picture crazy bright and include squinty eyes from your subjects. Do your best to get them into a shady area (or hope for a nice cloudy day) to get photos that look evenly lit.

Inside? Look for nifty angles.
Put something in the foreground and focus on the background. Try getting down low to exaggerate the subject. Get in super close and crop out part of your subject.