Saturday, 24 May 2014

Self-Portrait Photography

Self-Portrait Photography

Link to PictureCorrect Photography Tips

Self-Portrait Photography

Posted: 24 May 2014 12:58 AM PDT

Have you ever asked a random passerby to take a picture of you, handing your camera to this person? The situation is especially common when you are exploring new travel destinations. Even if you are not traveling alone but want to be captured in a picture together with your partner or friend, you need somebody else’s help.

travel self portrait

“Excitement” captured by Kissed by Fire

Do you recall how many terrible photos have you received from all these strangers? Pics that were poorly composed, out of focus, blurry, etc. Have you ever regretted those missed photo opportunities? Especially when you traveled to some unique place that you will not be able to visit again anytime soon? Oh… I’ve experienced this situation many times.

Have you ever thought you can take much better photos yourself without any help from other people? Yes, you can take high quality self-portraits that you will enjoy all your life. Technically correct photos with proper composition, focusing, and exposure. And you do not need any special, expensive equipment.

Equipment for Self-Portraits

Your current DSLR with a kit lens (18-55mm, 18-105mm, 18-135mm, or 28-135mm, etc.), mirrorless camera, or even point-and-shoot camera will work well. You just need a basic tripod and ideally (but not necessary) an infrared remote control for your camera. And, of course, you will need some practice.

How do you take self-portraits?

This article is not about cheap bathroom selfies or primitive cell phone pics. The photos you can take using the described techniques will be at a much higher level. Yes, you can achieve almost professional quality, depending on your experience, equipment, and time spent. You will not be time limited and can spend a lot of time on every shot by polishing it.

You have probably already guessed that first you will need to mount your camera on a tripod. Then, find a shooting position, adjust the height of the tripod, focal distance, ISO, aperture and shutter speed to get correct exposure. Focus the lens either at infinity or at a reference object that will be very close to you, like the branch of a tree. Finally, set either a timer-delayed or remotely triggered shutter release.

I would recommend starting your self-portrait practice with an 18mm or similar focal distance and an aperture of f/8 using a DSLR with cropped sensor camera or 11mm and f/8 on mirrorless camera. On a full frame camera the corresponding focal distance will be 27-28mm. At a wide angle and narrow aperture you will have most everything in focus, so there is a high chance of a good shot from the beginning. This works best for individual self-portraits.

self portrait photography

“‘Follow the Rainbow’, New Zealand, Northern Island, Tongariro, National Park, Self Portrait & Rainbow” captured by Chris Ford

Depth of Field and Focus

For couple portraits, it is much easier to play with a low depth of field because you will have your partner standing in a fixed position in front of a camera, and you can focus on his/her eyes at f/4 or even lower, and then you will step into the frame. This way you can get both of your faces in focus and have a blurry background. If you do not want a blurry background and prefer a wide depth of field (everything sharp), simply take all self-portraits at f/8-10. For individual self-portraits, especially if you want to achieve narrow depth of field (blurry background), try to focus on something standing in your place at the same distance. For example, you can use second tripod as a control object. Focus on this object in manual focus mode, then remove the control object and stand exactly in the same place to capture the photo.

couple self-portait

“Happily at the
Plain of Jars” captured by Vera & Jean-Christophe

Camera Settings

I recommend shooting in aperture priority mode. But do not forget about correct ISO, and make sure your shutter speed is fast enough (1/100, 1/125, 1/160, or shorter) to minimize negative impact of people’s motion in the photos (motion blurring). With a point-and-shoot camera use simple auto mode. I suggest shooting in JPG+RAW formats so you can use JPG files for quick uploads to social networks and RAW files for advanced editing later.

Shutter Release

A remote control is a best way of triggering the shutter release because you will not have to run back and forth between camera and shooting position: just stand in front of a camera, relax, smile, and press the shutter activation button. Another option that can also be used efficiently is timer-delayed release, a standard default feature on most DSLRs, mirrorless, and point-and-shoot cameras. However, with a timer-delayed release it is trickier to get the best composition and face expression since you will always have to move around; you will need more time to polish your shots if you want really good results.

What are the limitations of these self-portrait techniques?

There are virtually no limitations—only your creativity and experience. I have heard a story about a traveling newlywed couple who took wedding pictures using this method and their photos turned out beautifully. They were exploring a new country, and it was difficult for them to find a professional photographer there. But a tripod, some technical skills, and patience helped them to replace a real photographer with decent results.

You, too, can create awesome self-portrait captures by releasing your inner creativity.

About the Author:
Tony Campbell (website and blog) is professional photographer from Houston, Texas.

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A Quick Explanation of HDR Photography (Video)

Posted: 23 May 2014 07:50 PM PDT

We hear the term “HDR” a lot. Some people love it; others hate it. There’s no shortage of tutorials on how to pull it off. But what exactly is it? In this quick six-minute tutorial by TechQuickie, you can learn what HDR is and what it means to post-process a shot that way:

What is HDR?

HDR stands for “High Dynamic Range”, which describes the level of, predictably, something called dynamic range. Don’t worry too much about what dynamic range is—suffice it to say, it’s a different way of measuring levels of contrast in a photo. Rather than using a numerical metering system, HDR uses f-stops.

People might post-process a shot in Photoshop using HDR if they wanted the light in the shot to come out evenly, so the brightest and darkest spots could be roughly similar.

Here, without HDR, the sun would totally whitewash the rest of the shot:


Why use HDR?

The original idea behind HDR is to create a more natural image. Our eyes can see the above scene and recognize both the sun and the detail of the stones. A camera can’t; one level of light must be sacrificed for another.

How does HDR work?

HDR is done by taking several separate shots with different apertures—different light settings—and compositing them together.

Check out the following example of shooting a building at night to see how it works:





None of those four shots were perfect, but each lit up a different part of the image well. What happens when we blend them together?


It levels the detail so the bright spots are in tune with the darker ones. It also happens to look kind of futuristic and a bit surreal.

Why do some people hate HDR?

Some might call the above White House example too obvious. Photography purists tend to dislike how distracting the post-production is, or consider it amateurish work.

In theory, though, HDR is great. Not all photographers use it against normal architecture or landscape shots; some pull it off in subtler situations, like this one:


The background, once darkened by shadow, is levelled with the foreground and the blue sky to create a really well-lit image. The whole thing is saved by HDR, really.

“This is mostly only true if the objective of taking the image is to get a more practical image, where you can see the details in the skier’s face as well as the landscape, because often HDR, counter-intuitively, ends up looking surreal rather than more natural.” - Linus Sebastian

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Interesting Photo of the Day: It’s a (Golden) Boy!

Posted: 23 May 2014 06:24 PM PDT

Most consider the miracle of birth a sacred thing. Some choose to interpret that sacredness in different ways. This woman—an anonymous photographer, an everyday woman, who just happened to have a camera on her while giving birth—decided to commemorate her special moment by snapping a hilarious and, literally, golden shot of her OB/GYN doctor:


The caption possibilities are endless… (Via Imgur. Click for larger image.)

We’re not sure what else to say about this funny capture. That’s where you come in, PictureCorrect readers! What should the caption be?

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How To Create Da Vinci Portrait Lighting With Only One Light Source (Video)

Posted: 23 May 2014 02:47 PM PDT

After studying Leonardo DaVinci a few years ago, photographer Tony Corbell was inspired by the artist’s attention to lighting in relation to painting portraits. Wanting to recreate the technique used by Da Vinci, Corbell took to his Texas studio ready to hone his lighting skills even further. Take a quick look at the video tutorial below to hear Corbell discuss his process and end result:

“Da Vinci said: ‘In order to produce the best depth in a painting, the shadow on the ground would be as long as the subject is tall.’ That’s his way of telling us to consider 45 degree lighting.”

Corbell stresses that it’s not necessary to have tons of expensive studio lights to create the look he was going for, making the lighting style easily accessible to anyone who doesn’t have an arsenal of gear. In fact, Corbell uses only one light, a Gemini 750 Pro, but he says the look can be pulled off with something as basic as a single umbrella—though the light may not be quite as soft as what Corbell had with his Gemini after he outfitted it with an octobox. Two large white panel reflectors were added to the mix to merely soften the shadows.

photography lighting patterns

Outline of Corbell’s equipment and lighting setup.

In his first attempt at creating Da Vinci lighting, Corbell set his light at 45 degrees up and at a 45 degree angle from the camera. This created an appealing wrap around of depth creating light on the model’s face.

fashion photography lighting

DaVinci light creates depth through shadows and also provides a flattering light.

Corbell also offers that the 45 degree angle always proves to be a great starting point but will sometimes need to be slightly adjusted to fit the needs of each specific photo shoot. For example, he finds that when his subject has deep set eyes, the light may need to be dropped slightly. Experimentation is the key to capturing the perfect portrait!

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Photogrammetry: 64 Camera Array Used to Create “Living” 3D Art (Video)

Posted: 23 May 2014 01:23 PM PDT

Dubbed as being “fearless in his vision” by The Huffington Post, photographer Alexx Henry has always been a trailblazer. Early on in his career, his edgy, boundary-pushing techniques caught the attention of the commercial celebrity and entertainment photography industry, but Henry’s groundbreaking “Living Art” photography has thrust him onto the world stage as a master pioneer.

“Living Art” is a type of 3D motion photography that is achieved by photographing a subject in a 64-camera photobooth. The cameras are wirelessly synced to fire simultaneously and the photographs are then composited together and animated to create the illusion of print in motion. Sound crazy? Watch Henry in action here:

How 3D Motion Photography Works

To understand how Henry’s xxArray™ works, it’s important to understand the principles of photogrammetry, which consists of photographing a subject from different angles and then using 3D mapping software to create a 3D rendering of the subject and animate it.

"Take several high quality photos of the same subject from different angles, then compare points on each of the images,” Henry told Nikon Cinema. “Use those shared points to build a point cloud and depth map to solve the geometry.”

Henry is not the first photogrammetrist, but he is perhaps the first to engineer a more scalable and accessible photogrammetry system for photographing humans, with more than a little help from Nikon. The popular imaging company provided Henry with 64 Nikon D5200 cameras, each equipped with an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR lens, an EH-5b power adapter and EP-5a connector, and a WR-R10 wireless transceiver.


3D mapping software is used to render the final images.

The 15 x 15 setup is relatively simple, although it took Henry and his team an entire two years to perfect the process. Each camera has to be strategically placed around the shooting area to achieve the highest level of geometric accuracy and texture. The cameras are wirelessly synced to a WR-T10 remote transmitter so that all of them fire simultaneously. Afterwards, the images, which measure just short of 15.5 Gigapixels per series, are automatically uploaded onto three different computers and a 12 core for post-processing.

xxarray nikon alexx henry 3d photobooth augmented reality motion still photography

Henry created this image as a moving still for VIVmag.

Based on current trends, Henry believes that 3D imaging is well on its way to becoming the standard in entertainment and commercial photography, especially with the increasing prevalence of tablets and mobile devices.

“This work may seem like a bit of a jump, but it's really a natural evolution that uses technology to better tell stories,” he said. “Photographers can hop on board the 3D train at any time by harnessing that same curious spirit that got them started with imaging in the first place.”

Alexx Henry is based is Los Angeles. He has won numerous awards for his photography and videography and is credited with producing the first interactive motion feature on the iPad for VIVmag, the first motion movie poster ever shot on a cinema camera, and Outside Magazine’s first motion cover and editorial spread.

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