Rule of Thirds for Photographers

Rule of thirds is very important for creating your composition.

The rule of thirds is a compositional rule of thumb in photography. The rule states that an image should be imagined as divided into nine equal parts by two equally-spaced horizontal lines and two equally-spaced vertical lines, and that important compositional elements should be placed along these lines or their intersections.

Simply try not to put your subject right in the center of your image because it will have less tension, energy and interest in the composition than when it is placed off-center.

Every rule can be broken but only if you do realise that you need to break it for some reason.

Some cameras already have a grid in the viewfinder that make it easier to compose an image.

If you set the focus point to the center, focus on your subject when it is right in the middle of the frame, and then recompose your frame to move the subject off center.

Off Camera Flash Lighting Outdoors

This demo shows how to use two off camera flashes when shooting a wedding in a park. The first rule is that shadows should be facing the camera because it creates a more dramatic effect. These are set up photos, not candid by all means. Flashes are set to Manual mode and full power. The photographer is able to get drama to the sky even in such a sunny day, thanks to the use of flashes. The camera is also in Manual mode: f11, 1/60 and 50 ISO.

Off Camera Flash Tips

This video explains how to use an off camera wireless flash. You will see a difference that taking your flash off the camera makes. When it is attached to the hot shoe of your camera, images you get look quite flat.

It is better to take the flash unit off the camera and position it on a side and slightly above your subject.

In the past we needed a cord to connect the camera and the flash. Today modern cameras (and we use Nikob D300) allow triggering an off camera flash from a built in flash. You need to configure the pop up flash to work in a commander mode (go to your camera menu). Then set up your external flash as well so that it is a slave. Note the Channel number and Group name, they must be identical on the camera and on the flash. You will be able to use your off camera flash in TTL mode.

DIY Family Photos Tips

Family photos are great for memories.

  • To make a good family photo try creating a relaxed atmosphere that allows all those wonderful personalities to shine. Aim at your portraits to look natural.

  • Position your family members artistically, not like furniture. DO not use lines, place the people at different height levels instead. If you have a large group of people, try splitting them into smaller groups to fill your composition trying it to look natural.

  • Showing the relationships between the people on your photo is very important.

  • Catch candid moments.

  • Fill the frame, concentrate on your subject and eliminate elements that are not important in your composition. Zooming in often helps getting rid of busy background.

  • Shoot subjects at the eye level.

  • Try experimenting with crazy angles.

  • Beware of red eyes.

  • Choose the right clothes, the clothe that work well together. Focus on your family and do not let their clothes to distract viewer's attention. Clothes should be matching and create and impression that the family is connected.

How Chase Jarvis Packs His Photo Gear

Award winning commercial photographer Chase Jarvis shows us how he packs his photo gear for shoots on locations.

He shoots with a Nikon D2X camera and 15-55 mm 2.8 lens. He has another Nikon D2X camera as a backup. He takes at least 2 bodies. Another important lens is 70-200mm 2.8. Plus he uses 12-24mm, 85mm tilt/shift, 50mm 1.8, 12mm fisheye. He  always keeps two flashes, 5-6 extra batteries. All this goes to his DSLR bag.

He also takes some lighting equipment in hard cases.

Chase gives tips on various travel arrangements, what you should plan and what you should be prepared for if your plans ruin. He speaks on travelling by airplanes with full load of his photo gear. It is definitely worth watching.

Baby/Infant Photography Tips

Carrie Sandoval shares tips on how to shoot babies. She uses a prime 50 mm lens.

  • The baby can be undressed or dressed in something very simple of a solid color.

  • Have an uncluttered background - it is very important. You may simply hang a sheet to hide the clutter.

  • Try to get eye contact with the infant.

  • Laugh and the baby will laugh with you too.

  • When the baby looses interest, bring in some toys or even cover your camera in a soft toy.

  • If they start crawling, you may use baskets.

  • Lighting from the above.

  • Stay down at the baby's level.

  • Use macro lens for shooting closer.

  • Black and white or sepia looks always classic.

  • Hide the toy behind the camera.

How to Shoot Birthday Parties

Learn how to take great birthday photos. A birthday happens once a year and you do not want to miss this occasion by producing bad photographs.

You need to be always prepared for the shoot. Get extra batteries and memory cards.

  • Work with the existing light as much as you can. To get some more light into your picture, use the popup flash for fill light.

  • Increase the ISO settings.

  • Try telling a story about your party by capturing important moments like guest arrival, birthday cake candles, kids' playing.

  • Be creative: use different aperture settings on your camera, shoot through a balloon, try different angles.

  • Consider getting a portrait lens.

Tips for Different Low Light Situations

Basically low light photography can be split into four branches:

  • Hand help;

  • Sky;

  • Street and cars;

  • Indoor and interior.

For each of these situations you need to special eqipment and settings.

Hand held photography requires the manual mode in your camera and high ISO. Unless you plan to sell your image or print it in larger format, higher ISO settings like 3200 should not become a problem. You can always reduce the noise produced by higher ISO in post processing of your photos, Lightroom or Photoshop. See Photoshop tutorials on how to reduce noise. It is also important to have a good lens. Your kit lens will not work well in this situation. Choose if you can something with fixed aperture of 2.8 or 1.8.

Sky and stars photography requires a heavy tripod that is not afraid of wind. There is no need to jump up the ISO. As for the lens, you need it to be as sharp as possible. The aperture does not have to be 2.8, actually if you do have a lens of 2.8 aperture, set it to 8 because it will be sharper.

Street and cars photography requires a tripod and a good lens with vibration reduction since passing cars will generate a lot of vibration. Then you will be able to achieve cars' lights' trails using longer shutter speed.

For interior indoor photography you need a good lens as well (preferably 2.8 or 1.8) and higher ISO.