Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Always keep your camera handy

My granddaughter is saving for a toy that she saw in Toys R Us. I decided to drive over to the mall and check out what this little three year old is salting away money for. I was not thinking about photography.

When I saw the white horse down by the pond I temporarily forgot Toys R Us. I stopped thinking about toys and thought about pictures. I saw a picture moment and had to pull over.

I like to keep my camera handy at all times. I keep both my little Canon S90 and my larger Fuji FinePix HS10 in a small, padded camera bag which I carry with me most of the time. I also always have spare batteries for both cameras at all times. A camera without a working battery is worthless.

I used my Canon for this picture. I like it but I'm beginning to feel I should be shooting RAW rather than JPEG. Point and shoot camera software plays nasty games with image quality. I don't believe this would be an issue if I were shooting RAW.

No matter. I'm still rather pleased with this "slice of life" moment. So here's the tip: Always keep a camera handy. Today's pocket sized point and shoots are perfect but some cell phones are beginning to give low end point and shoots increasing competition.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Catch those catch-lights

Watch for the catch-lights. They can make or break a photo.

Little Isla is distorted by the wide angle I used to take her picture. Without the catch-lights attracting your attention, her smaller-than-should-be chin would be more distracting.

The catch-lights give her eyes life. They add real sparkle to her expression. They make everything right in this photographic world.

Remember to note where the windows are in a room, note where the light is coming from, and then work with that knowledge to capture those all important catch-lights. The extra effort is worth it.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Capture painted face before it melts in heat

Little kids love to have their faces painted. My granddaughter is no exception. She wanted a picture of her painted look. It wasn't going to last in Sunday's heat and I think she knew it.

For a family picture, the lady doing the art is not all that important. I got in tight and cropped out the artist. I only included her hands to frame Fiona's little face

Shots like this demand one fills the frame. I used the 105mm setting on my Canon S90. This allowed a frame-filling composition but done at a comfortable distance. You can't be shy when shooting pictures but you can't be a boor either. You've got to do what works best not only for you but for your subjects.

I had two choices when taking this image. I could shoot from the right side or the left. I chose the backlit side. The rim lighting on Fiona's cheek gives the image a nice sculptural quality. The soft, almost shadowless lighting on her closest cheek gives the skin a look quite in keeping with such a young child.

As a portrait, I like it. As a moment captured for the family album, it's absolutely wonderful.

You may notice that I don't make a lot of the exposure: The f/stop in use and the shutter speed setting. I don't make a big deal because it is not a big deal. Up close, with your lens zoomed out to a mild telephoto setting, you know that in such diffuse lighting the f/stop will be open to its maximum and the depth of field will be limited. That's all you've got to know. That's enough. Let the camera choose the exposure settings and free you to concentrate on capturing the best image, the best moment.

Strong, colourful geometric shapes make this picture

The bright colours and the geometric shapes are what make this image pop. The bright blue wheel in the background, the yellow and red squares created by the black, protective netting and the arcs of colour all work together to hold this image together while framing the picture subject.

The bright colours worn by the little girl help her to ease into her surroundings while the organic flower design on her skirt and the cartoons on her shirt all help to distance her. It is a nice mix.

This is an image that would just jump from a page in a family photo album and, as soon as I find the time to make a print, it will.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sharp is relative

This picture is not truly sharp but it looks good at this size.

One attribute of many good pictures is sharpness. Back in the days of film, one way of eliminating negatives not worth printing was to examine one's negatives under a magnifying loupe. If the negative was out of focus it was out of the running.

Today, thanks to digital photography and the sharing of images digitally rather than as prints, the rules for what is sharp enough have slackened.

Be aware that when you sharpen an image in Photoshop, you do not truly sharpen the picture. You add edge contrast. It is a line effect. But, it does give the illusion of sharpness if the image does not demand too much sharpening enhancement or if the image is played small and displayed on a computer monitor.

Today's picture of my granddaughter is not dead on sharp. Subject movement, not enough to be artsy but enough to be annoying, mars the image. I gave it some sharpening in Photoshop and have played it relatively small on the computer monitor.

It looks good now, just don't look too closely.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The world is a 360-degree experience

The threatening storm rolling into London arrived accompanied by threats of possible tornadoes, heavy hail and high winds gusting up to 110 km/h.

I walked across the court to take some pictures. As the storm moved closer I looked down. Ah, there was the picture. I forgot the storm.

It is important, as a photographer, to never forget that the world is a 360-degree experience. Always remember that there is more to the world than what is shown by your viewfinder.

This can be tough. You don't want to miss what you initially wanted to capture but keep an alert eye for alternate picture opportunities. The flat light of an approaching storm can make pictures of wildflowers pop.

I should also note that there are times that I miss the wonderful picture quality of my old professional DSLRs. The image taken with my FujiFilm HS10 is good. It does the job. It makes me smile. But it is not in the same league picture-quality-wise as those from my old Canon EOS monsters I once carried about while working at the local newspaper.