Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Blissdom 2012 Recap - Mastering Your Angles and Compositions

Yes, this is the last of my Blissdom 2012 conference recap posts (unless you want to see some photos of Rascal Flatts and Joe Jonas). I attended all six informational sessions, and I feel like I got so much out of them. I'm glad I attended and will definitely be there again next year. Here's hoping you've learned something useful, too.

This is another photography session, Mastering Your Angles and Compositions, provided by Kristin Luna of Camels and Chocolates: Tales from a Travel Addict.

Did you miss the earlier recaps?
Capturing the Moment: No Matter What Subjects You Like to Shoot
Shoot Like a Woman
Three Things You Can Do Right Now to Grow Your Facebook Fan Page
Blogging With Legal Confidence
Why Less Is More When It Comes to Your Writing

What you can do to make your photos more visually appealing to your readers:

Some things not to do
Some of the most common mistakes are overexposure. This means your shots are blown out, the shutter speed is letting in too much light, or the ISO is too high. You'll lose a lot of color quality and focus. It becomes drab. A basic rule of thumb for ISO - generally she keeps hers at 400. If you're outside and it’s really light, put your ISO at 200 and maybe 100. Inside, you can bring it to 800. Over that, your photos will start to get grainy. If you look through the viewfinder and see the little red dot, you can fix the exposure. If you're shooting with auto ISO, you can point at a lighter area, hold the shutter down halfway and then move to the subject to take the photo.

The opposite of underexposure is also a problem, which is too low of ISO. Sometimes, you're too far away. The photos end up too dark and you can't really see the subject.

Blur is also a big problem. If you stabilize your camera, you can fix it. This is something you can do with just a little effort. First, move into an area with natural light. The more light you have, the less likely you are to have shake and blur. You can also bump up the exposure and increase the shutter speed. You can also balance your camera on a stable service or use the auto-timer. This can also happen when the subject is moving too fast.

Over editing is also a problem . You don't have to edit your photos. It's great if you know how to use Light Room or Photoshop or the like. It's tempting to take the saturation meter and move it all the way to the right. Don't make it something that doesn't occur in nature. A lot of times, it's better just to leave the photo alone.

Basic rules of composition
The rule of thirds will soon be second nature to always shoot your photos like this. Take a scene and visually break it up into three horizontal and three vertical blocks so there are four intersection points. Those points are where you want to have your subject. It makes it more visually interesting and doesn't break the photo in half. She wants to discourage you from always centering your subject in the scene. Get your subject in the center, then move your camera to one side. You can always crop this later if you forget. You also don't want the horizon in the center breaking the photo in half, put it either in the top or bottom third instead. When shooting vertically, you also want to keep the rule of thirds in mind. This isn't just for shooting horizontally.

Bokeh is the aesthetic quality of the out of focus area of the photograph. This requires nice glass and lenses to achieve. It requires more knowledge of aperture and depth of field - and nicer lenses. You can use the portrait mode in your camera, and that will start to get the Bokeh effect. Focus on the subject rather than the noisy background. Having the noisy background out of focus puts the focus on the subject instead.

Finding patterns - the human eye is naturally drawn to symmetry and patterns. Finding these will add to the aesthetics of a photo. You can find them in boats, houses, markets, natural landscapes, shadows, kids' crayons, a bag of M&Ms. You can then find pictures with multiple patterns - bottom line has the arch pattern, then the V of the arches and then the people.

Visually, using reflections is pleasing to the eye. You can find them in storefronts or store windows, not just puddles. Her favorite is the polarized sunglasses of her husband in really bright light. It makes it more interesting than shooting straight on.

Framing makes it more interesting. You can shoot through windows or doorways or other objects. Or you can use other objects like a camel to frame a donkey. Think outside the box a bit when you're thinking about doing these things.

Angles sometimes require having different and expensive cameras. A lot of people have DSLRs but don't know how to use them or just have factory lenses. If you invest in the DSLR, you should invest in the lens, too. Amy Giese talked about renting lenses to see what you like. Her favorite is the wide angle lens. Using angles lets you take the standard picture from a different perspective. Get down low on the ground, prop on the lens cap, put on long exposure which conveys the motion of the people. It's a way of showing a really old common monument in a different light.

What she loves about wide angles is that it gives you a lot of room to play with. You can take the whole city, you can take interior shots - it does cause distortion though, so if you're taking a photo of a person make sure they're in the center of the photo so they aren't stretched like taffy. Generally she uses it for landscapes and cities, not for people. Wide angles also let you get in really close into a tight space. Where there isn't much room to get in the whole scene, the wide angle lens allows you to get a lot of people and buildings in the same frame. It's also really good for interiors, giving you the full feeling of a lobby, for example. It also allows you to get a lot of a city. It lets you have multiple layers of the detail around the subject.

The opposite of wide angles is getting up close and personal with your subject. She likes to get in as tight as possible with the subject. You get more of the emotion and detail. You don't have so much of the background distraction and noise.

Try to take photos from a different point of view. Everyone sees the Taj Mahal taken from eye level. You want to see it taken from the ground or from above - show the image in a different light. Take a shot from hip level when you are out and about when you want to take a photo that is a bit more candid. If it's flung around your neck casually and taking shots discreetly, you get a lot less of the staged pose or people trying to get out of your shot.

Have fun with it! Every other photography speaker has told you this. It isn't a serious business - if you're working as a portrait or bridal photographer, maybe - most of you are using it to better your blog or for personal use. She really thinks having a fun, lighthearted edge to your photography makes people see you as a more interesting person and it adds a level of fun to your blog.

How do you incorporate kids into photos. Do you want pictures of kids or your kids with the scenes in the background?
You don't want kids in a wide angle at the edge, but you could do them in the center - it won't be exactly as you see it. She likes it more for travel or landscape photography. For kids, she uses a 25-104mm a lot. She also uses a 17-85mm. The wide angle lens is a 10-20. there are lenses that go superwide, but this offers enough versatility for her.

Metering v focusing
Do metering when you're doing it on autofocus. Take a sample then move to the photograph you want to take. It will take your subject into account (I don't get this – more proof I need to take some classes!)

A photo demonstrating the rule of thirds
A photo featuring patterns and/or reflections
A photo taken from a different perspective/POV


Pat March 14, 2012 at 12:28 PM  

You have a lot of good ideas here, even for those of us who only have a point-and-shoot pocket camera. Thanks for all your many tips from the Blissdom conference.

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