Friday, February 17, 2012

Watch for backlighting

Not the strongest example of backlighting but it works.
I have a soft spot in my heart for backlit images. When I worked at a newspaper and had to shoot a quick picture with punch, I often went with a strongly backlit image. Hiding the background light behind the subject would make this image pop. Composing the image with the light hidden will rim the head with almost glowing hair and dramatically separate the subject from the darker background.

Although the image is backlit, it is important for the photographer to still pay attention to the light falling on the subject from in front. All too often, I see backlit images that die on the page because one cannot make out anything other than the strong rim light. In most cases, a person should be easily recognized in a backlit picture. Faces shouldn't just fall into the deep shadows and be lost, unless you are trying for a dramatic, artsy image.

Fiona has lovely red hair and the warm back lighting not only created nice highlights but made her wayward curls easy to see and to appreciate. The soft light falling on Fiona's face is as important to the picture as the backlighting. Having all the light sources working together makes this image work.

And how did I figure out my exposure? I let my Canon PowerShot S90 do the work. (Although I knew the exposure would be weighted for the face. The camera was set for centre weighted exposures.)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Recognizing picture moments

I take a lot of photos of Fiona. She is just 29 months, a little young for a camera. I've given her my Canon S90 but she finds it difficult to frame an image while depressing the shutter button. She has the interest and I'm going to let her keep practising.

As important as it is to be able to handle the camera, it is just as important to know what stuff to shoot. What makes a picture? This is the question that every photographer must answer.

Fiona is getting there. She is developing "a photographer's eye." When she saw her first angel decorating a lawn at Christmas, she cried, "Gaga! Take a picture!" I did. And she checked my work. She knows how to activate the rear display screen and advance through the images stored in the camera. She's quite at ease making comments on my work.

The other day she was learning how to grate cheese. It was a first for her. First time stuff like this make a memorable moment --- a picture moment. "Take a picture!" she ordered, and then turned back to her work. She knows grating cheese makes a picture and not saying cheese and grinning at the lens.

Things to consider when shooting kids:-

  • Try and get down to the child's level
  • In most case, do not shoot the tops of heads.
  • Faces are important. Try and capture an emotion.
  • It may be a still picture but often a little captured-action helps.
  • Try and compose while shooting. Think final composition.
  • Try for a moment captured and not a grin-for-the-camera shot.