Digital Photography : Lighting

30 10 2007

Let There Be Light

Natural light sources like the sun and the moon are considered the best light sources. These lights often invade indoors and make natural shots come alive. Men have created artificial lights like the ordinary bulb, the tungsten halogen lamp or the bright photoflood.

There are various types of lighting, the photographer can employ. The most common is the Directional lighting provided by flash, tungsten or several sources and can be used from the front, back or side.

Front Lighting

Front lighting is the most in vogue but it reveals every detail. The light is at the back of the photographer beaming at the face of the subject highlighting every detail. This often results in an unexciting and flat look of your subjects. Another technique is to mystify your subject by lighting up from side. The main illumination from side adds interest and vigor with presence of dark shadows.

Back Lighting

In Back lighting the source light remains in the rear of the subject shining in the face of the camera. So, you must be very careful while using this mode otherwise the subject will appear like a silhouette. The main advantage here is, you will be able to capture the natural expressions of your subject in an outdoor shoot, as he will not squint facing bright light.

Cross Lighting

You can employ cross lighting where strong directional light comes from both sides. But this method is only suitable for studios with bright flash or tungsten lights.

Lighting For Digital Photography

Digital cameras may offer a wide range of easy lighting modes but there are challenges for the artist in his path to perfection. You must adopt the trial and error method and acquire the knowledge of lighting. Most digital cameras have preset digital photography lighting modes or ‘scenes’ for different lighting situation. There is the indoor mode to click without flash, which is particularly useful in art galleries or museums, the night and portrait mode allows you to take pictures of your subject with a gleaming backdrop at night using a slower shutter speed. The digital cameras provide an automatic setting for white balancing .You can determine the baseline white in your image against which, other colors will be rendered. Your camera may have a histogram to evaluate exposure in different digital photography conditions. Most cameras have various options like daylight, cloudy, tungsten and more.

What Is Auxillary Lighting?

If you want to create art using light and shadow, the Flash unit alone is not enough. Here, auxiliary lighting comes in. If you decide to shoot portraits or product shots in a studio then auxiliary lighting is not optional but necessary. For great results use head and kicker lights. Flashlights do not generate heat like floods and spots, so are more suited for portraits. Make sure the flash suits your digital camera. If you want to shoot still shots or product shots, continuous tungsten light is the cheapest and best. A range of wattage bulbs and reflectors will help you control the intensity and direction of light too. If you don’t have money you can rent lights. Top studios have various assortments of flash units, flood and spotlights.

How To Use Light

Light is made up of all colors. If seen through a prism it bursts into different colors. You are free to experiment with the rainbow. Artificial lights have their own characteristics. The photographer can utilize different light sources. You can alter white setting for a different effect. Most digital cameras have color setting modes to achieve accuracy of the colors. Direction of light is important in digital photography. People look best in diffused sidelights and backlight produces a halo effect while overhead lighting produces sharp contrast of light and shadows. Strength of light is also an essential factor. You can have placid effect from diffused lighting and sharpness from strong light. Indoor lighting gives you ample scope to shoot nice pictures. You can assemble light as per your choice and can even harness sunlight when it enters your house to soften your image. Outdoor shots are more challenging. It leaves you at the mercy of Mother Nature. While landscape looks good in soft light, the wildlife is captivating with fine details in bright light. So photographers try to capture wildlife just before dusk or before dawn. In digital cameras, you do not need to worry about ISO film speed. Most digital cameras have preset ISO setting. However, experimentation is the perfect way to curb imperfection. So inflame your imagination and hone your skill. You are ready to enter the luminous empire of photography.

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Saving Bad Photos: Badly Underexposed

29 10 2007

Quite frankly, I would much rather have a dark, under exposed photo then an overly bright over exposed photo. With a dark photo, at least there’s a chance that there will be enough color data and detail to save the shot. When they’re blown away and too bright — there’s little you can do to put pixels where none existed before.

Sad to report however — so many variables come into play that sometimes the shot cannot be saved no matter what techniques you use.

under exposed photo

One reader who enjoys photographing food on trips sent this photo of the appetizer at the Kia Lodge restaurant at the foot of Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. This was a shrimp and cucumber moose, and it looks delightful. Too bad we really can’t see it. Yes, I would certainly try to save that shot because you might not be going back too often!

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10 Tips To Better Photograph

28 10 2007

Tip 1 – Use All Your Available Space

Don’t be afraid to use all the space in your photo. If you want to take a picture of something, it’s ok for it to take up the whole shot with no or very little background showing. Keep distractions out of your shot

Tip 2 – Study Forms

This is a vital aspect to photography. Understanding forms in your photos. Don’t see an object, she its shape and its form and find the best angle to photograph it from. Form is all around us and I highly suggest you read as many books on it as possible.

Tip 3 – Motion In Your Photos

Never have motion in your photos if you are photographing a still object. If there is something moving while you are trying to photograph a stationery object, your photo won’t turn out anywhere near as well. Also never put a horizon line in the center of your frame.

Tip 4 – Learn To Use Contrasts Between Colors

Some of the best photos have shades of white, gray and black. You can take great shots with just one color on your subject, but the contrasts between colors in a shot is what makes you a great photographer.

Tip 5 – Get Closer To Your Subject

This is one of the biggest mistakes most photographers make, not getting close enough to their subject. Get up and personal and close the distance gap. You can always reshape and resize a good shot but you can’t continue to blowup a distant object.

Tip 6 – Shutter Lag

Shooting action shots with digital camera’s can be tricky due to shutter lags. What this means is, when you press the button to take the photo, it can take up to a second for the shutter to take a photo, by that time what you were photographing would have moved or changed somehow. This means you have to compensate for shutter lag by predicting what your subject is going to do and taking the photo just before it takes the action you want. More expensive digital cameras don’t have this problem.

Tip 7 – Pan

If you are taking an action shot and your shutter speed is slow, pan with the object. Follow through with the subject, from start to finish and one of those shots will be a winner. You have more chance of getting a good shot if you take more then one photo.

Tip 8 – Continuous Shots

To pan like I suggested above you will need a camera that does continuous shots and doesn’t need to stop and process after every shot.

Tip 9 – How To Take Fantastic Night Time Shots

Night time shots can be spectacular, almost magical…. if done right! If not they can look horrible. Really horrible. Without adequate lighting, even good camera’s can turn out crappy photos if the photographer doesn’t know what he or she is doing.

Tip 10 – Study Your Manual

If your digital camera has a special night time mode, read the manual and follow their instructions on how to use it properly.





Photography: Special Effects

28 10 2007

Question: What are some tricks and special effects I can try with my basic camera? Answer: Even if you have the cheapest, most basic camera, you can still do many of the special-effects that professionals do with more expensive cameras.

Shutterfly

Filters

You can use any filter (colored or distorted glass or plastic that camera shops sell for about $10-$20) but make sure it covers the lens and, if you have one, the exposure window (a small window near the lens) so that your pictures get exposed correctly. Red, orange and blue filters can make striking images while a soft-focus or fog filter adds a romantic touch to faces and water. You can even make you own filter with a colored plastic bag or glass. Colored Flash

You can also use colored filters over the flash instead of the lens (professionals call these “gels”). For a Halloween party, try using a red filter over the flash to make people look even more scary! Old World

One of my favorites effects uses a sepia filter. The light-brown color makes your pictures look old and classic. Mirrors

Magicians use mirrors and you can too. Take a photo of yourself by pointing into a window. Or include both halves of a room by using a mirror in half of the shot.Shoot Underwater

If you’re on vacation at the beach, take an underwater shot while swimming. Place your camera in a clear plastic bag, remove most of the air, and seal well. Now you can photograph underwater! (Be careful, any water entering the bag will damage the camera).

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Photography: How to compose a photograph

28 10 2007

Composition is the key to an interesting photograph. Despite all the technical jargon, photography is essentially an art form, and its most important aspect is composition. To improve your art skills, find photos you like and study them, asking yourself: ‘Why exactly do I like this picture?’ Subject. When you take a photograph, identify what the subject is. Answering ‘a person’ or ‘a building’ is not good enough. You need to go deeper and specify ‘the curves of the body’ or ‘the crumbling stonework’ — something that activates your senses, that you can touch, feel, smell, or taste. This process is the most overlooked step in photography. Although it may be tempting to simply snap your photos and rush on, I urge you to take time to visually explore the subject and see what appeals to you. Ask yourself: ‘What is the purpose of this photograph?’ and ‘What is the reaction I want a viewer to have?’ Context. Next find a ‘context’ — a simple backdrop which adds relevance, contrast, and/or location to the ‘subject.’ You can add depth by finding a ‘context’ in a different spatial plane than the ‘subject.’ For example, if the subject is a building in the background, make the context a flower or person in the foreground. Now combine the two in a simple way. I like to say that a good photograph is a subject, a context, and nothing else. Remove any clutter that detracts from your message. Get closer — zoom in — and crop as tightly as possible.

 

Subject Placement. The placement of your subject in the frame denotes its relevance to the context. The center of the frame is the weakest place — it’s static, dull, and gives no value to the context. The more you move the subject away from the center, the more relevance you give to the context; so juggle until you get the right balance. Each item has a ‘weight’ and, like a waiter filling up a tray, you need to balance the weights within the frame. Lines and Paths. Create impact by using real or inferred lines that lead the viewer’s eye into and around the picture. Railway tracks, rivers, and fences are obvious choices, but there are also inferred lines from the subject to the context. Lines have subtle effects. Horizontal lines are peaceful; diagonals are dynamic or tense; and curves are active and sensuous. You can also connect lines in a path or shape, such as a triangle.A picture is a playground for the eyes to explore, so provide a path of movement, and some space for the eye to rest.

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