Holiday Shots

Well, we are starting the holiday season.  You’ll be around family and friends.  This is a great time to take family portraits.  How do you get the best shots to show off your skills?  Well, believe it or not I am going to suggest taking the first shots or so in AUTO.  Now, check the settings the camera used and go to manual and plug in those numbers. Now you can fine tune the shot. Remember if the camera used FLASH in auto, it will not in Manual.  So you will have to pop the flash up or use an external flash.

But the best light is window light if it is during the day. So put your subjects near the window so the light is touching one side of the subject’s face.  Now move the subject back and forth, even to a position where the subject is behind the window opening.  Observe how the light falls on the subject.  Pick the look you like first and take those shots. If they will stay around awhile, take additional shots, while moving them around. Another great place for natural light is under an overhang like the porch, deck, maybe even a tree.

If you are taking shots inside at night, make sure you have your White Balance set for the type of light you are under.  Use Auto White Balance if it gives you photos that have no color cast. Remember also, you may be using flash which will overwhelm the light in the room, making it necessary to use AWB or FLASH WB.

Instead of starting with AUTO, you could try P (Program).  The flash will NOT pop up if needed. The camera will set a real slow shutter speed if the light is too low. So pop the flash up if needed or use a tripod for natural light.  Remember in “P-MODE”  you can change the exposure compensation, use bracketing, and ISO, as well as some other settings depending on the camera.

Remember the family is going to want a copy of the photo(s). This is going to cost you time (touching up the photo) and money if you are doing prints for them.

Have fun and a happy holiday season!!

My Review of the Pro-Optic 500mm f/6.3 Manual Focus, T-Mount Mirror Lens by Pro Optic

Probably not worth it

Long focal length, Lightweight
Blurry Focus
Best Uses:
Wildlife, moon shots

I knew at $159 it couldn’t be that good, but I was surprised how hard it was to focus. When I had it in focus on a tripod, with a cable release the photos were out of focus, not soft, but out of focus. Used it for big birds on a nest and moon shots. Moon shots were not too bad so it could be a cheap telescope. If you are a beginner this could be a low cost way to get long photos. I WISH IT HAD Auto focus which may have helped a little. Also the Depth of field it tiny.

Remember, this is a fixed 500mm focal length and a fixed aperture of F6.3. It is also a MANUAL focus lens, not auto focus.

I’ve attached 1 photo. This is a cropped zoomed version to check sharpness. I took about 100 shots on this shoot. This is the ONLY usable one.  I took a second shot. This is the actual size of a photo of the moon at 500mm.

OH… and remember to get the lens mount for your camera brand, Canon, Nikon, etc.


Sunsets-Sunrises and Beach shots

When taking a Sunrise or Sunset photo, be careful not to look directly into the sun!  Look and point the camera to the left or right of the sun.  As you look through the viewfinder or at the LCD panel, find a point 1/3 from the bottom of the scene you are looking at and focus there.  Then hold your shutter button 1/2 way down and let the camera come up with an exposure. Then raise the camera back where it was to recompose your original scene. If you don’t have a Point & Shoot with the ability to set the shutter/aperture, then use your scene setting called Sunset/Sunrise.  If you can control the exposure, than go to shutter priority to get an exposure. Take the shot.  You are probably going to see that the foreground, or subject, if a portrait with a sunset behind, is completely dark (Underexposed).  To expose the foreground, use your pop-up flash.  If you have an external flash and a flash cord, take the flash off the hot shoe and hold it out to the side for a better exposure of the person.  If there is no person’ try to get something else in the shot like the life guard house, to show some perspective.  If the sky has puffy clouds, that will take the place of the guard house.  Finally, if the sky is actually blue and the shot has a white sky,then the sky is over exposed. Increase your shutter speed one stop at a time until you get the correct look, matching what you actually see.  You could also leave the shutter speed alone and close the aperture one stop at a time (higher F-Stop numbers).  I hope this helps you get better sunset shots this summer.

Keep Snappin’ and have fun!

Sunsets and blue skys

One question I often receive is how to take better sunset photos.  Later this week I will post a concise way to get great sunset shots. After all, it is beach season. These rules will also apply to sunrises.  The other related question is “Why when I take these photos, is the blue sky gray, not blue, and the foreground dark?”

I will cover both problems in the upcoming BLOG entry. So check back before you go to the beach this weekend.  🙂

July 4th Fireworks Shots

Tuesday, June 30, 2009
4th of July Photo Techniques

Well the 4th of July weekend is coming up and it is going to be a great time to take photos. There will be fireworks, cookouts and tourists all over the place. To take the best fireworks shots use a tripod, remote or cable release and RELAX. Now point camera to the area of the sky where the fireworks are popping and have fun. Tourists and cookouts make for great people shot situations. Use you zoom lens so as not to upset the subjects. REMEMBER, you must have a model release to use the photos commercially. Have some with you in case you get a great shot. Most people will sign if you give them a print of two. Have a great weekend!! Jack

Summer Shots

Hopefully you had a good time over the holiday and got some great photos. If you are a prior student of mine feel free to send me a couple to look at. As always, send one that didn’t work out so I can hopefully tell you what to do to fix it. Happy shooting the rest of the summer. Remember that the best time to shoot on a bright sunny day is starting one hour before sunset and up to one hour after sunrise.