Thursday, December 1, 2011

Frugal Tips for Great Holiday Photos

It is that time of year, time for holiday photos. Photography has been a hobby of mine for the past 15 years or so. These days I don't have as much time for it as I would like, but I still enjoy capturing images when I have the chance. As a result of my fondness for photography, we have rarely paid for professional images of our children. Since getting married I have paid a photographer for pictures of our "wedding proceeding" (it was a planned elopement with no guests, but they knew what we were doing), new born photos of our son, and new born photos of our daughter. The rest have been my own. And I usually get some positive feedback. So, if you want to share the smiling faces of your children, your pets, or your life, keep the following seven pointers in mind

One: If you have an SLR camera, set the aperture for 5.8 -- this is the setting commonly used by photo journalists. Your subject will be in focus and the background blurred.

Two: Start cropping in the field. Frame your shot, then before pressing the shutter, check all 4 corners for things you don't want in the photo (drink glasses, your finger, a branch, a trash can, etc). Re-adjust to crop it out of the frame. Here is photo of my daughter from the summer. You can't tell that we were at a water park swarming with other kids because I cropped in the field. No cropping was done later.

Three: Shoot and shoot some more. If a professional photographer is able to use 5% - 10% of what they shoot, they are happy. With the era of digital, this is much easier.

Four: See the light -- looking for light as it casts upon the subject at an angle. Taking a photo at noon in the summer is not ideal, the light will be flat. In this photo you can see the sunlight on my daughter's face. The photo would not have worked as well if she were back in the shadows.

Five: If an image has lots of color, use color. If you want to hide color (i.e. red skin, bad color, etc). opt for black and white. Recognize that black and white photos work well when there are lots of lines and contrast in the frame, color is not important.

Six: Get to the level of what you are shooting -- whether it is kids, pets, or flowers, bend down and get to their level. You'll have fantastic improvement in your images. My daughter was seated on a bench. Had I stood and taken this photo her scalp would have been far too prominent. Bend and look your subject in the eye.

Seven: Don't center everything. Have a subject off to the side gives a sense of motion and feeling. Another photo taken, this time of my son, at the water park. It was his 3rd birthday, and it seems express a young boy looking ahead....he was really watching the splash park equipment.

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