Portrait Photography

•September 16, 2008 • Leave a Comment

 In portrait photography there are a few guidelines that you should review and think about when you take pictures of people.  The  three general types of portrait photography are: close-ups or facial shots, upper body shots, or environmental portraits (where you focus on the subject and the surrounding environment that gives the subject character). 

           Some of the best portraits are where the subjects look completely comfortable like their not looking at a camera.  When people try to smile or make a certain kind of face for the camera it usually doesn’t seem very genuine.  The trick is to capture the image when the subject(s) aren’t necessarily focused on the camera.  The main purpose of portrait photography is to capture the essence of the subject(s).  Different people have different techniques for doing this, one of which is taking a picture while the subject is planning on smiling and then take another couple while they are recovering.  Or another way would be to tell a funny joke where they can’t help but genuinely laugh and smile.  But probably the best way is just to catch them off guard by waiting for the right opportunity and snapping a picture right when they look at you not expecting a camera.

           Close-up portraits usually have the subject’s shoulders and head or less.  They are basically framed around the face.  These are the best to capture expressions and glamour shots. It is very important to have the light coming from a good angle for these.  If you want to accent wrinkles or small details you should have the light coming from the side or from the top.  If you want flattering pictures you should take these on a day that’s cloudy so there is a lot of diffused light and therefore no shadows. 

           You will get the best results if the subject is brighter than the background so there is not much distraction.  For these you should use a wide aperture (low f/stop) to make the background out of focus and less of a distraction.  Professionals usually use a fixed telephoto lens that’s 90 mm or a little higher for portraits for the reason that it de-emphasizes the subjects nose or any other unflattering feature because at that far away the nose or any other significant feature doesn’t seem closer to the camera than the rest of the face.

           Upper body shots or midrange portraits are a little less personal than close-ups.  These are easier to get satisfactory results from mainly because your subject is probably more relaxed plus you can include a little of the background.  These are probably the most commonly used for single subjects and multiple subjects.  The ideal lens would be around a 90 mm fixed telephoto lens but if there’s many subjects in your frame you will need more of a wide-angle lens.  These are usually used to mark occasions such as graduation, school yearbook, birthdays etc…

           Environmental portraiture are portraits that let us into the life of the subject.  These usually include the whole subject in a scenario or partaking in some hobby that they enjoy.  These are best for telling a story to the viewer about the subject in the pictures.  Photojournalists almost always use these to look into the lives of interesting people.  These also work very well in Black and White.


Slow Sync Flash

•September 10, 2008 • Leave a Comment

One camera function that can be a lot of fun to play with (and that can get you some interesting results) is slow sync flash.


Low Light Photography Options

When shooting with a subject in low light situations you generally have two options; either to shoot with a flash or to shoot with a slow shutter speed.

1. Flash – When shooting in low light with a flash in auto mode your camera will choose a relatively fast shutter speed. This means that your subject will be well lit and that if it is moving it will be frozen and as a result will be sharp. The problem with this is that it can also leave your subject lit up too brightly and can leave it’s background looking very dark as there is not enough time for the camera to collect any ambient light.

2. Slow Shutter Speed – The other option is to turn your flash off and shoot with a longer shutter speed in order to collect enough available light from the image to get a well exposed shot. This can be an effective technique if you’re shooting landscape or environmental shots where everything is nice and still – however if you’re shooting a moving subject it means you’ll get motion blur which could ruin your shot.

Both of the above options are legitimate technique but both have their weaknesses. Another options to consider is slow sync flash.

What is Slow Sync Flash?

Slow Sync Flash is a function found on many cameras that tells your camera to shoot with both a longer shutter speed as well as firing the flash. This means you get the best of both worlds above and can both get a relatively sharp shot of your main subject as well as get some ambient light from the background and foreground.

Some cameras allow you to access slow sync flash manually and set exposure length and flash strength but on many compact cameras there is a little less control given and it’s presented as an automatic shooting mode, often called ‘night mode’ or even ‘party mode’ where the camera selects the slower shutter speed and flash strength for you.


Rear and Front Curtain Sync

If your camera gives you some manual control when it comes to slow sync flash you might find yourself presented with two options called ‘rear curtain sync’ and ‘front curtain sync’.

These two modes sound a little technical but to put it most simply they are the way in which you choose when to fire your flash during the longer exposure.

Rear Curtain Sync – this tells your camera to fire the flash at the end of the exposure. ie when you press the shutter your lens opens up and starts collecting light and just before it closes the flash will fire to light up and freeze your main subject (see the card shot to the left for an example where you’ll see the card trail ending in a nice crisp shot of the card).

Front Curtain Sync – this tells your camera to fire the flash at the start of the exposure. ie when you press the shutter, the flash will fire immediately and the shutter will remain open afterwards capturing ambient light.

You might not think there’s much difference between these modes but when you’re photographing a moving subject it can have a real impact. You’ll find many action/sports photographers will use Rear Curtain Sync when shooting with a panning technique.

Tripod or Handheld?

When using either slow synch in either mode (or in the automatic ‘night mode’ you will want to consider whether or not to use a tripod. Traditionally when shooting with longer shutter speeds it is accepted that a tripod is essential in order to stop any camera movement. Even the steadiest of hands will not be able to stop a camera moving over even a 1 or 2 second exposure. So if you want to eliminate blur from your cameras movement definitely use a tripod (and consider a shutter release cable).

However in some circumstances hand holding your camera while using slow sync flash can lead to some wonderful effects. For example if you’re at a wedding or party and are out on the dance floor the results can be great at capturing the mood of a night with those you’re photographing largely frozen by the flash but the lights on the dance floor blurred from you moving your camera during the shot.

Of course hand held techniques won’t work with every situation so experiment with both methods at different shutter speeds and by using both rear and front curtain sync and find the best methods for your particular situation.

HDR Field Museum

•August 26, 2008 • 2 Comments

20, originally uploaded by gonzalezhanson2.

An HDR is composed of two or more separate exposures, taken at different exposure levels to capture the dynamic range that the eye can see but the camera cannot. the images are then merged with software that is capable of doing it. There are many packages that can merge images.

You can also do a simulated HDR, by processing a RAW file in different ways and then merging them. I’ve also been able to get a similar surrealistic look by using som alternative processing techniques.

HDR is when you take multible images and layer them on top of each other, each exposed different. for example, lets say you three exposures, the first being under-exposed, the second is exposed properly, and the third is overexposed, when you layer them you will have detail in the highlights (thank you underexposure) and detail in the shadows (thank you overexposed)…theres tutorials about right up there ^ under the ‘learn’ menu.

I took this photo at the Chicago photowalk 2008. Photomatix 3.0, Photoshop CS3 and Lightroom 2.0 were used to accomplish this effect.


•August 26, 2008 • Leave a Comment

21, originally uploaded by gonzalezhanson2.

In image processing, computer graphics and photography, high dynamic range imaging (HDRI) is a set of techniques that allows a greater dynamic range of exposures (the range of values between light and dark areas) than normal digital imaging techniques. The intention of HDRI is to accurately represent the wide range of intensity levels found in real scenes ranging from direct sunlight to shadows.

High Dynamic Range Imaging was originally developed in the 1930s and 1940s by Charles Wyckoff. Wyckoff’s detailed pictures of nuclear explosions appeared on the cover of Life magazine in the mid 1940s. The process of tone mapping together with bracketed exposures of normal digital images, giving the end result a high, often exaggerated dynamic range, was first reported in 1993[1], and resulted in a mathematical theory of differently exposed pictures of the same subject matter that was published in 1995[2]. In 1997 this technique of combining several differently exposed images to produce a single HDR image was presented to the computer graphics community by Paul Debevec.

This method was developed to produce a high dynamic range image from a set of photographs taken with a range of exposures. With the rising popularity of digital cameras and easy-to-use desktop software, the term “HDR” is now popularly used[3] to refer to this process. This composite technique is different from (and may be of lesser or greater quality than) the production of an image from a single exposure of a sensor that has a native high dynamic range. Tone mapping is also used to display HDR images on devices with a low native dynamic range, such as a computer screen.

Lightroom 2.0 is out. come and get it!

•August 19, 2008 • 1 Comment

Major Software Upgrade Further Simplifies Photography Workflows

SAN JOSE, Calif. — July 29, 2008 — Adobe Systems Incorporated (Nasdaq:ADBE) today announced the immediate availability of Adobe® Photoshop® Lightroom® 2 software, the photographer’s essential toolbox for managing, adjusting and presenting large volumes of digital photographs. With new enhancements such as dual-monitor support, radical advances in non-destructive localized image correction, and streamlined search capabilities, Lightroom 2 is a compelling upgrade that simplifies photography from shoot to finish. As Adobe’s first application to support 64-bit for Mac OS X 10.5 Macintosh computers with Intel® processors and Microsoft® Windows® Vista® 64-bit operating systems, Lightroom 2 also provides improved memory performance for dealing with large scale images. “A worldwide community of photographers provided valuable insight and feedback, as part of the Lightroom 2 public beta program, ultimately helping us deliver a better product,” said Tom Hogarty, senior product manager for Lightroom and Camera Raw at Adobe. “We’ve considered their requests which helped us develop useful features that make it easier than ever for our customers to quickly refine, enhance and present brilliant photographs.”

Photoshop Lightroom 2: Smarter, Faster and More Accurate

The enhanced Library module in Lightroom 2 helps streamline and accelerate photographers’ workflows. With the ability to visually organize images across multiple hard drives, Lightroom 2 and its powerful Library Filter Bar makes it easy for users to quickly find the images they need. The Suggested Keywords feature helps photographers keyword their images by making intelligent suggestions based on their own previous efforts. New dual-monitor support allows users to expand their workspace, giving them flexibility to edit and organize images in a way that maximizes an additional display. In the Develop module, the new Local Adjustment Brush lets photographers fine-tune specific areas of an image to precisely adjust color, exposure and tonal range without affecting other areas of the image. The new Graduated Filter expands the toolbox in Lightroom, allowing for edits to larger areas by applying gradually diminishing or increasing adjustment effects such as exposure, clarity, and saturation, alone, or in any combination. Lightroom 2 also helps photographers print more efficiently by quickly arranging photos of multiple sizes on one or many pages with flexible and customizable templates to maximize paper and ink. Intelligent algorithms automatically determine optimal sharpening for screen or print, producing crisper images faster. Developers can further extend the Lightroom workflow with Web, Export and Metadata Software Development Kits available at the Adobe Developer Connection, http://www.adobe.com/devnet/ .

Ground-Breaking Innovation in Raw Technology

New raw technology gives photographers access to flexible camera profiles. Camera profiles are the visual starting point for the raw processing workflow, but image preferences vary for every photographer. To minimize surprises, Adobe is supplying default camera profiles that closely emulate the visual looks that photographers are used to seeing from their favorite camera, while also providing the ability to create highly customized profiles to suit different tastes. Camera profiles are available for immediate download on Adobe Labs (http://labs.adobe.com ) for use with Lightroom 2 and Camera Raw 4.5, along with the DNG Profile Editor for the community to test and create their own profiles. The Adobe Camera Raw 4.5 plug-in and DNG Converter 4.5 are also now available on Adobe.com and support over 190 camera models including the Olympus E 420 and E 520 models. “One of the big reasons why Lightroom has become such a phenomenon among serious photographers is that Adobe built it with the input of a very vocal user community,” said Scott Kelby, president of the National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP). “Adobe really listens to the issues and challenges today’s photographers face and they’ve built a complete solution that not only meets the needs of photographers; it really feels like it was made just for us. The enhancements to Lightroom 2, combined with the power of Photoshop, give photographers the ultimate freedom to produce professional images quickly.”
Amazon.com Widgets

The Rule of Thirds

•August 19, 2008 • Leave a Comment

If you ask the average backyard photographer what composing a good photo is, they’ll tell you to put your subject dead center and you can’t go wrong. If you go through your family photo album right now, you’ll find dozens, maybe even hundreds of photographs demonstrating this very advice. Some of them might be good pictures, capturing the essence of your uncle, your mother, or your pet dog, but maybe not great photos.

Back in the days of darkroom development, bad composition could be easily corrected during the printing stage using an enlarger. With digital photography, it’s still pretty easy with the photo editing program of your choice once you’ve uploaded images to your computer. But either way, you’re creating an extra step after the initial shoot. Save yourself some time and do it right the first time.

You’ve learned how to move in close, how to step into your subject and capture its details. But something’s missing. Or maybe you’re very happy with the shots you’ve taken already. How could you improve them any more?

Here’s a tip: Consider the Rule of Thirds.

The Rule of Thirds is a term which means taking the viewfinder, or photograph, and dividing it with imaginary lines into thirds, both vertically and horizontally. Think of it as setting a tic-tac-toe board across your viewfinder, creating 9 small squares. (Some digital cameras even offer this grid as an option to toggle on and off using your viewfinder or the LCD on the back of the camera’s body. This is very helpful to the beginning photographer if your camera has this feature.)
By placing your subject on one of the cross sections, where the horizontal and vertical lines meet, you’re creating a much more pleasing snapshot.

Photography and Graphic Design Tips and Tricks › Edit — WordPress

•August 19, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Photography and Graphic Design Tips and Tricks › Edit — WordPress.