Thursday, March 19, 2009
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Technique: Using Reflections in ImagesReflections can take an ordinary image and open a door into a new visual dimension. You can try for the most obvious, like reflections off a lake or pool of water, but look more carefully and you'll see possibilities everywhere. In the photo on the right, I had driven into Boston to do a shoot with a model who was a no-show. So I used the time instead of getting overly irritated. It had been raining, which meant wet streets and another reflective surface. In general, expose for the primary scene and not the reflected copy. Some light gets lost and so it will be a bit dimmer. The one condition you should watch is a light that gets reflected directly from a surface into the camera lens, causing flare and throwing off your exposure calculations. Just reposition yourself or frame the shot a bit differently to get that out of the scene.
If you are using a body of water as the reflector, you might be able to disturb the surface, maybe by tossing a stone, to get a second effect and image after you've shot with the smooth reflection. You can see many more examples of reflection as a compositional element by clicking on the link to a feature in Smashing Magazine. Some of these are outstanding, going beyond reflection as an element of mood (like I did in my photo) and using it to create unworldly scenes, where the original and the reflection meet and turn into abstracted patterns. At the bottom of the feature are additional links to other collections of reflection in images.
Friday, June 6, 2008
Technique: Photos and the Rain
Many photographers give up taking shots during inclement weather, and understandably, because they are concerned about their equipment. But you don't have to give up so easily. Keeping your camera and lenses safe is harder, yet not impossible:
- You can use an umbrella (a helper to hold it up is useful) or a tent to provide a protected spot and then shoot out of the protection. Before you start shooting, do check to see if wind is blowing the rain in toward what you think is the dry area.
Monday, May 5, 2008
Winning Photography ContestsI indirectly came across this blog entry from an ex-stock photographer who writes the blog Photocritic.org and who found himself as a judge on a photography contest. How to win photography competitions offers a set of suggestions for how to tell a story and make your entry stand out from competition in the process. It's a bit long, thoughtful, and worth the read if you're thinking of submitting images.
Monday, April 14, 2008
DIY High-Speed PhotographyI came across DIYPhotography.net, which focuses on how to create your own equipment for photography. Here's a post, with links to information on pulling it off, on how to take high-speed photos. Might as well pick up a few points and then see what else you can learn.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Technique: Turn Your Camera Into a ScannerThere may be times you need copies of materials you're researching for business or school, but you don't want to carry photocopies with you afterward. Here's a trick I've used: employ your digital camera. If possible, bring a page-sized sheet of clear plastic. Put it on top of a page you need and, making sure no lights are reflecting off it, take a high resolution picture of the page. You now have the page stored as an image that you can eventually download to a computer and print out, or even email to someone.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Technique: Using a TripodI've mentioned the technique of using a monopod, and so thought I should say something for its three-legged cousin, the tripod.
First, let's look at what you need in a tripod. Cheap ones are attractive because they're, well, so cheap. But don't skimp here. Better tripods will cost more but be more rigid, have smoother controls, and so forth. You can feel the difference when you use one.
If you're getting a good tripod, realize that you'll have to buy the head separately. I'd suggest at least looking at a ball head. You can smoothly move it in any direction and then tighten it in place, versus a pan-and-tilt head, where you monkey with three separate controls to move the camera forward and back, side to side, and around in a circle.
Look for a tripod with a bubble level on it. Although you can go for a rakish angle as a visual statement, you really do want to be able to take a level picture. If the tripod is level, then you don't have to fight that when trying to get the camera level.
To use the tripod, do the following:
- Spread the legs apart.
- Hold the tripod head up close to where you want it to be and extend the legs either as far as they can go or until the hit the ground. You want to rely on the legs as much as possible for height, with the center column for final adjustments.
- Adjust the leg heights until the tripod head is level.
- Take the quick release plate from the tripod head and screw it into the camera. Now connect the camera to the tripod head.
- Make final adjustments with the center column to get the final height. Take your picture.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Technique: Using Hyperfocal DistanceYour lens aperture setting will affect depth-of-field - the amount of an image that will appear to be in focus. The smaller the f-stop number, the smaller the depth-of-field. Practically speaking, if you open your lens all the way up and focus on something, chances are that less of what you see will ultimately seem in focus than if you stop the lens down.
But you may find that you need to use a wider aperture because of the specific lighting conditions. If you still want s big a DOF as possible, then you want to know about the hyperfocal distance. If you focus the lens on something that distance away, you'll get everything from that point to infinity and some about in front of it. Better lenses come with a scale that can help, as you can see in the image below:
The small numbers at the bottom are different f-stops. The numbers in the window are the distance at which you are focusing. Say you wanted the hyperfocal distance at f/16 (a smaller aperture, but the technique works there, as well). Then you'd set the focus on manual and turn it so that the infinity sign on the right was lined up over the 16. The center line on the scale below will point to the hyperfocal distance. The distance over the 16 on the right shows the closest distance that will appear in focus.
Ah, but what do you do when the lens doesn't have this feature? Use either a hyperfocal distance chart or calculator. Here's a spot that has some free downloads that should be useful. You might notice the term circle of confusion - I'll get to that tomorrow.
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
Technique: Using a MonopodA tripod is great to keep a camera steady so you can get a sharper image than you would from handheld shot. But tripods can be a pain to set up. Sometims a monopod - really a collapsable long stick with a bracket on one end for the camera - is the way to go. For example, I've used them in theaters, to keep an extra degree of stability when shooting under low light, or in crowds, so I can move about. But a monopod, missing two legs, isn't as stable as a tripod.
To solve that problem, extend the monopod a few inches longer than you might otherwise. Set it on the ground or floor in front of you and then lean the top, with the camera, back toward you. Now tip the camera forward so you can get your shot. Your two legs provide the additional stability the monopod misses by having only one leg.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Book Review: Closeup Shooting: A Guide to Closeup, Tabletop, and Macro PhotographyThis book is by Cyrill Harnischmacher, the author of Low Budget Shooting, which I recently reviewed. I was very impressed with that first title; this one, a bit less so. There is quite a bit of good information here, and certainly you could learn a lot about how to start experimenting with photographing all manner of things close up. But where Low Budget Shooting was really innovative in addressing a need that many photographers don't even think of having, Closeup Shooting looks at a topic well covered and doesn't breath the same refreshing air as Harnischmacher's first book.
In some cases, the technical information is limited without, so far as I noticed, an explanation. To say that extreme closeup photography is only possible with an SLR or DSLR is flat out wrong. Medium format and large format cameras are capable of as much and even more. (Perhaps the book's title should have been Small Format Closeup Shooting.) There are many examples of images, but relatively few show the set-up and lighting diagrams that help people understand how the techniques worked and to apply them in their own shooting.
Given the number of special considerations one could make, 121 pages simply aren't enough to offer comprehensive coverage - there are entire books written on nothing but close-up photography in nature. At $24.95, this certainly isn't a dud, and it contains a lot of useful information, some of which really is innovative (like building a glass box to do split surface/underwater shots, but I don't think it would be my first stop. I'd at least browse through some other titles and, if I wanted to do table-top, look at some of the excellent lighting books on product and table-top shooting. I'm going to see if I can get some review copies of other books in the area and, hopefully, find something that I could recommend more enthusiastically.