Monday, January 31, 2011

Posting Eleven

"How to Wow Those Judges – Part Two"

This four part article, which appeared in The Lens Tissue, the newsletter for the Greater Brockton Camera Club, was authored by Jack Alexander, former member of HDP.

Flowers are always a popular subject for competitions so let’s take a closer look at some dos and don’ts when photographing them. 

With these petaled wonders, you should seek out that perfect specimen, taking extreme care to avoid selecting one with damaged or wilted petals. Now, check the background – is it distracting or flattering? Any debris to clear? Often an out-of-focus background offers the best scenario. In any event whatever is behind your intended subject should not draw attention AWAY from the flower.

If you have selected your macro (gets you in tight to fill the frame) for this floral shoot, I trust you have your trusty tripod (allows a slower shutter speed for increased depth of field) set up as well. I have found the use of fill flash creates a desirable effect whether indoor or outside.

Here are a few helpful hints on floral photography:
1.   Think about allowing the stem to enter from the bottom or lower left at a curve or an angle – as long as it’s not straight up. (With our digital darkroom capabilities, cropping and or flipping might get you the same angling).

2.   If you decided to shoot more than one specimen of the flower, try to remember the Rule of Odds – an odd number of subjects is more pleasing than an even number.

3.   If two flowers are in your viewfinder, make every attempt to have them of different sizes. If they are in alignment or the same size, they will fight with each other for the judge’s attention!

4.   If you are using a flash, try to move it off-camera to give the effect of side lighting, which adds shape to your subject.

5.   If you’re using a false background, take extra care that the subject’s shadow doesn’t look staged.

6.   For an interesting look try to position the sun directly behind your intended subject. This works really well with florals – sometimes referred to as trans-illumination.

Well, what are you waiting for, go out and buy a bouquet and set up a still life right in the confines of your home. . .  

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Posting Ten
"How to Wow Those Judges – Part One"

This four part article, which
appeared in The Lens Tissue, the newsletter for the Greater Brockton Camera Club, was authored by Jack Alexander, former member of HDP.

Four major criteria are used in evaluating our images “Technique,” “Composition,” ”Interest,” and  “Impact.”  Each of these factors is awarded points in the eyes of the judges when reviewing our submissions. I believe the first two speak for themselves, so let’s look at Interest and Impact.

Just which subjects are of the most interest to the vast majority of us? Why people (especially children, attractive girls and the elderly) and nature (wildlife, pets, flowers, and landscapes)! All of the aforementioned subjects are of great interest IF they are photographed well (Technique and Composition). Because of their universal appeal, they tend to fare better in competitions. The best aspect about these popular subjects is that you don’t have to travel very far to capture them – however, you should select them with care.

Not every person, animal, or flower makes a good subject. Some are more appealing than others. When you think you have found a good subject, give some thought to grace and balance. Remember, if a pose or arrangement is awkward or clumsy, even the best of shots will fall short in the eyes of those beholders – the judges!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Posting Nine
"Pre-shoot Checklist"

Before going on any photo shoot, there are specific preparations to consider…
Night Before
  Battery check
         Are they charged?
         Did you pack a spare?

  Memory cards
         Have enough memory?
            How long will you be shooting?
            Which format will you be using – RAW, high jpeg, etc.
            Have the cards been formatted
in the camera?        

  Lenses and sensor
         Clean your equipment before heading out
  Camera setup
         Which mode - Aperture / Shutter / Manual / Other? 

         White balance? 

  Camera bag
         Pack it up the night before with the proper lenses, filters,
            memory cards, batteries, flash, manual and TRIPOD!        
         Any extra equipment not needed in the bag? Take it out!

         Field Work
         Focus check – auto focus on?
         White balance – set for the day’s lighting?
         Camera settings – ISO?
         Shoot and review – test fire a shot and look at its
            histogram, highlights, etc. on the LCD
         Subject orientation – portrait and/or landscape or both?

         Snacks? Water? Cell phone?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Posting Eight

"Indoor Challenge I"

According to my local weather forecasters, we are in for quite a Nor'easter starting Tuesday and ending sometime on Wednesday. So I figured you might want to spend some quality time indoors with your camera.

Are you ready? So, walk around your humble abode and select a room to photograph TWENTY-FIVE images. Here’s the challenge, you must stand in the same spot for ALL twenty-five. You can use flash, vary the focal length, change lenses as long as you are in the same spot in that one room.

Now, let’s download them and see what we have. I’m guessing you are seeing that room in a totally different light (no pun intended). Perhaps, your change in focal lengths has opened up areas and objects that were there but you didn’t notice as much. Which focal length gave you the best image? Check the meta data for these images. Which appear to be out of focus – check the shutter speed (fraction of 1/xxx)? Can you crop any of these tighter to give almost a macro look to them?

Send me a couple of your best (use the same sizing as we do for Image Study). Give me a brief description of why you chose these along with that all-important meta data.

When the storm is winding down and before you head back outside, refer back to Posting Six - "Snow and Your Camera."

Monday, January 3, 2011

Posting Seven

"Shooting Outdoors"

Mother Nature can be very unpredictable after you have done the proper preparation for your field trip. Your ability to roll with her punches will determine just how successful your shoot will be.

Raining? Throw on a polarizer and shoot the forest foliage. This must-have filter will reduce the glare and enhance color saturation.

Be mobile! Get out of the car and start walking. If the shot isn’t there, take a few steps to the left or right. Shooting from          your car – shut off the engine!

Three legs are better than two! Use a tripod… it has a two-         fold benefit. First it will allow you to shoot longer time          sequences and secondly, it will slow you down!

Too sunny? Shoot in the shadows.

Snacks… Did you remember to pack some munchies and water?  A day in the field will go a lot smoother if you have a Devil Dog and something to wash it down!

Watch your back! All too often we are focused on what’s in          front of us when what’s behind us may be the better shot –          turn around!

Follow the water. Found a stream? Follow it and check out the different photo ops that arise!

Patience filter packed?

And, remember - “Life is not measured by the breath we take but rather by the moments that take our breath away!”

Here is a shot from this past Sunday's fog. . .