- The Process of Taking a Photo
- Underwater Photography: Everything You Need to Know (Video)
- A Beginner’s Guide to Real Estate Photography
Posted: 08 Feb 2014 05:36 PM PST
After teaching photography for a number of years and constantly documenting myself on the subject, I often find educational material being all the same and just a little bit boring. Then I stumbled across an amazing book by Michael Freeman called The Photographer's Mind. It had a lot of new pertinent elements that I really enjoyed reading. I highly recommend everyone read this book.
I would like to join one of Michael's chapters here and add some of my "Southeast Asian travel photographer's chili sauce", because I find that it is a very effective way of showing people what goes through someone's mind during the process of taking a photo. I have been trying to describe it to my students and find they really enjoy this. They can instantly imagine how things happen and how they can apply their knowledge. This is something I would have loved to read some years ago when I wanted to become more efficient when taking photos of people.
I will divide the process into 4 steps: Camera Settings, Observation, Anticipation, and Experience.
One of the best ways to be efficient in travel and street photography is to be fast; especially in Southeast Asia, where things are so busy. Mastering camera settings is the first step to becoming fast. This is the reason I advise my students to use aperture priority mode when shooting (at least during the day) and to always adjust their settings when entering a new light situation (a brighter or darker area).
Once this is done, it becomes something less to worry about when a photo opportunity presents itself. The photographer's reaction will also be faster if they can find all buttons and functions instinctively, as the camera becomes an extension of the body. Knowing what aperture to use depending on the depth of field desired and the distance of the subject, finding the ISO button while looking through the viewfinder, etc. All these little things will help the photographer win seconds, which are vital and will make light work of a spontaneous shot.
Every good travel or street photographer (not to mention photojournalist) is a great observer.
Being aware of their surroundings, the photographer will use a shorter time to make important decisions, such as how to use the natural light, or which foreground and background to use. This is necessary, mostly when composing an image involves the subject itself at the very end.
Once you've got camera settings and observation skills primed, anticipation is the next skill to master. Moving ahead in preparation of the photo concept, anticipating where a potential subject is going to be and where the light is going to move is key to shooting a great photo. This requires being physically fit enough to be able to move quickly, sometimes over holes, puddles, trees, walls, rivers, highways, magma, etc.
Being comfortable with camera settings will help win seconds, which are vital for the photographer. I often find that my students are missing great photo opportunities because they feel rushed. Mostly when traveling to exotic locations where everything is new, beautiful, and photogenic, they are often overwhelmed by all the great potential photos to be shot and rush to shoot as many things as possible. What happens then? The brain stops working. The result is a lack of discipline in creating composition, and as is very often the case, the use of the wrong camera settings (leading to a slow shutter speed and blurry photos).
Once the camera settings are prepared, the environment understood, and the photograph concept set up in the mind, it frees you up to think of the details and techniques that will make a great composition.
We tend to compose images using a few of the photography techniques we have learned, but mostly it's an unconscious act of applying what we know that makes a good photo. For this we are using, as Michael Freeman mentions in his book, a "repertoire" of photos we have previously seen or taken and that we know work for us.
Using lines as diagonals, applying the rule of thirds, having our subject framed a certain way, etc. This is very important in order to be fast and make decisions; it also increases the risk of taking the same photo "template" over and over again.
Thus the need of extra time, gained by preparation, observation, anticipation and applying our experience, to adjust the composition and create something new, special, different, and reach another level of creativity.
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Posted: 08 Feb 2014 01:51 PM PST
In this hour-long seminar, pro photographer Larry Cohen reviews many different types of cameras and light systems to use in underwater photography. He covers just about everything, from point and shoot types to extensive DSLR rigs, making sure there is something for everyone’s budget and needs. To back up his expertise, the seminar also offers a vast array of Cohen’s stunning marine life images. Take a look:
Cohen discusses not just the equipment but also why and how it can help you improve your photography. For example, a dome port on an ultra wide angle lens, such as the Tokina AF 10-17mm, corrects distortion caused by the lens. Another good point of discussion is the difficulty of changing lenses in underwater photography. DSLR users have to decide which lens they want to use before going underwater. They’re committed to that lens unless they want to surface and change it out, whereas point and shoot cameras often have a macro setting that allows photographers to switch in and out of macro mode with the push of the button.
When shooting underwater, it’s also important that you are within close proximity to your subject. Cohen often tells people that if you are not within two feet of your subject, the picture is probably not worth taking. The most important thing according to Cohen, however, is to have fun and experiment. Because the surroundings will vary for each image you take, some rules are not so hard and fast. Try new things–you may be pleasantly surprised!
Go to full article: Underwater Photography: Everything You Need to Know (Video)
Posted: 08 Feb 2014 11:45 AM PST
Do you ever wonder how those amazing pictures of homes and their interiors are done? How did they make those small rooms look so spacious? And how can they make the home look so presentable, even with someone still living in it? It’s simply all about using the right angles to make the rooms and spaces as appealing as possible to potential buyers.
The exterior of the home should always be considered on the shoot. Determine the light and the weather that gives the exterior its best look. Houses and interiors may look the same, but getting into the right perspective and creating good composition may often make one home stand out from the others when photographed.
Endeavor to create a scene which suggests the feeling of a warm, welcoming haven. Always survey the rooms before taking your picture so you can get a true feel of the home and also work out the best composition and lighting angles.
Preparing for a shoot starts with your gear. Cameras with good ISO performance greatly help in this task. You will need to understand the basics of photography, aperture, shutter speed and ISO to get the proper exposure, because lighting can often be quite tricky.
Real estate photography is really all about the lenses you use. A wide angle lens anywhere between 14 to 24mm is the best option, as it gives a certain perspective; it stretches out rooms and angles making them appear bigger than they really are. A wide or ultra wide lens is the key to success.
A tripod is also an integral piece of equipment. Some rooms will be dark, calling for a low ISO and a lower shutter speed, which will introduce camera shake if not mounted on a tripod. You should also able to record finer images, meaning greater sharpness and an increase in depth of field. Always keep the camera level, if you do not, vertical lines may be distorted or lines may appear crooked. Always use the camera’s built-in horizon to keep the camera level. Alternatively, you can purchase small spirit levels which fit onto the camera’s hot shoe.
Real estate photography will challenge your perspective and composition skills. Ideally, you should pay special attention to the most important rooms in the house: the main living room, bathrooms, bedrooms, and kitchen. Always try to shoot into corners–never straight onto a walls–this will create a sense of depth in your images. It’s best to create a shot list, as this will guide you on how you want to best present the house.
Once your equipment is set up, I recommend shooting in brackets. On a single shot, take 3 images at different exposures. You may need to create a composite image, as interior and exterior exposure can be completely different. The combination of these photos in post processing can provide greater details in the scene. Shooting in HDR will produce greater dynamic range, especially in exterior shots, though care must be taken when editing these images, as HDR can sometimes look artificial or surreal.
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