General Photography Tips

Evaluate the Lighting Situation

  • Sun, Shade, Incandesent, Halogen?

  • Look around: highlights, shadows, spotlights.

  • Put your subject in good light.

  • Look for reflection/catchlight in the eyes.

  • Use lamps, spotlights, etc.

Shoot in Low Light/Available Light

  • Increase your ISO

  • Increase your Aperture (F-stop)

  • Decrease your Shutter Speed.

  • Focus manually if autofocus fails.

  • Brace on Thinks (tripod, gear bags).

  • Try manual settings/metering.

Learn Your Camera

  • Isolate the variables (depth of field, shutter speed, ISO, aperture, etc.)

  • Play, tweek, shoot lots, share your photos, get feedback, change it up.

  • Share gear - find someone you can test out lenses, flashes, etc. with.

  • Set the white balance.

Rule of Thirds.

Get high, Swing low

  • People look better from above.

  • Stand on things

  • Lay down

  • Get the angle

  • Change your perpective

How to be a pretty subject?

  • Laugh, smile, have fun!

  • Make eye contact with the camera.

  • Stand in the light.

  • Get close, show some love

  • Stand still

General Photography Tips from Kris Krug. Kris Krug is part photographer and part open source web entrepreneur.

What is a Lighting Ratio?

This tutorial is for studio photography. You may have wondered what a lighting ratio means.

The lighting ratio is simply a ration of the key and fill lights used to light a subject. For example:

  • 1:1 ratio - produces soft, even lighting when the key and fill lights are exactly the same.

  • 2:1 ratio - gives lighting usually used for shooting portraits. The key light is twice as bright as the fill light, 1 stop difference.

  • 4:1 ratio - more contrast result. There is a 2 stops difference between the key and fill lights.

  • 8:1 ratio - very contrast lighting. It is a 3 stop difference between the key and fill lights.

In other words the higher the ratio, the higher the contrast.

One more tip, position your lights 45 degrees from the camera. The greater the angle, the greater the contrast.

Learn Focussing in dSLR Cameras

In order to take full advantage of shooting with a dSLR camera, you need to learn how it focusses.

You will see in the viewfinder 9 points with one in the center and 8 over the perimeter. These are focussing points. Most often people set the central focussing point active and use it all the time. However you can switch between these points according to your needs. Just press a special button (refer to your camera manual) and you will see that one of the points becomes red. By rotating the primary selection wheel or moving the joystick you can switch the focussing point from one to another or to the situation when all 9 points are selected (red). When all points are read it means that the camera will automaticall choose the focussing point that it believes to be right in a particular composition, usually it will focus on the closest to the camera subject.

Another important tool to use is the shutter release button that has two stops. When you half press it, the camera focusses on something and starts metering. So if you hold this button half pressed and move your camera, the chosen focus point and metering will remain the same. It allows achieving creative shots because you get something in focus and then recompose.

Formal Pose for Female Portrait

First of all turn the body of your model in 45 degrees. Turn in the shoulders. Have her drop her back (from you) shoulder a bit to achieve basic composition.

These is what you should be thinking: pose, light, lift and refine.

To get beatiful shadows you need to place your light source a bit higher. You can adjust the light by asking the model to turn her head. That way you can control the shadows and you can always move your camera to choose the right position.

Your camera level should be just above the model's eyes. An adjustable posing stool is highly recommended.

The closer you come to the subject, the upper your camera gets.

Ask your model to lean a bit forward. Ask her to smile.

Always use a tripod even when you are shooting in a studio. If you need to quickly take out a hair, you won't have to recompose having a tripod.

Tip the camera towards the higher shoulder of the model.

How to Use External Flash on Camera

Bert Stephani reveals secrets about how you can get better images with an external flash on top of your camera. We all know that professionals do not recommend this and there are obvious reasons for that. It is However if you a few methods, you still can use it on your camera and produce quality photographs.

If you set your camera in "P" mode, it will make the flash to light everything, including your subject and the background. You want a complete control of exposure and that is why you set the mode to "M". In Manual mode you can control how you want the background to be exposed. For instance, in face portraits, it is advisable to darken the background to avoid cluttering. Always make a few test shots and see on the camera screen how it looks.

Usually setting 2 or 3 steps below the neutral exposure will make your background dark. You may have to dial some flash compensation though.

The main goal is to correctly balance the flash light with ambitient light available. Do not be afraid to use longer shutter speeds: 1/15 or even longer if you can hold the camera steady. The flash will freeze your subject.

Longer lens are not so good in this case because they reduce the angle between the lens and the flash. Try short focus lens instead.

Take a lens hood off so that it does not block the light coming from your flash.

Thanks to Bert Stephani

Secrets of Using Tripod

A tripod is a stand for your camera and a mount is something that connects it to your camera. You need a tripod when your shutter speed is long and you want to avaoid hand shake. If you hold your camera in your hands, there is going to be a slight movement and in longer exposures it will be noticable by blur images.

Another advantage of using a tripod is when shooting in studio or doing group shots. In these cases you do not usually have to change your settings and it is useful to have your camera rest on a stand while you adjust the lighting or arrange the people in the group.

If your camera is heavy, heavy lengs for example, tripod is also very desireble.

Do not buy cheapy tripods. Their quality leaves much to be desired, they are mostly made of plastic, their mounts are fused to the tripod.

A tripod can cost you from $100 to $3000 and a decent one can be obtained these days for about $230, including the mount.

Pay attention to the material it is made of. It can be steel or carbon fiber which affects its weight and durability. Choose the size you will be comfortable with when travelling. Ball heads are usually quite expensive.

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