Great Photo Tips From E

Who me? Take great photos? Nah.Yes you! You can take great photos with a few helpful guidelines.

It’s all about the light…

In photography there are two types of light: ambient (natural) or artificial (flash).I usually use natural light because, well, it looks natural. If you like the effects of natural light it’s important that your subject is well lit. If you have a subject that is back lit by light, like say this robin picture, then you might want to use flash for filler. Or else the subject will be too dark. Try using PhotoShop to rectify lighting problems with your photos. I have found it works fairly well. I used it to brighten this robin picture.

Best times of day for taking photographs

A general rule of thumb is to utilize a half hour to an hour before sunset and the same period of time after sunrise for taking scenic shots. Broad daylight gives you washed out pictures. Patience, my friend, will yield you great results.

Mammals

Are very hard to get pictures of unless it’s your dog or cat, who will do anything to please you. Well, maybe not your cat…

If you want pictures of wildlife that are fairly easy to get close to try Yellowstone National Park. I find that the people there are more fun to watch than the wildlife, though, due to the fact that people seem to think they are in a large zoo and will do incredibly stupid things like get between a female elk cow and her calf. Please don’t ever do that. You risk serious injury and death. Don’t say E didn’t warn you!

If you know of special spot where you can find can find a particular animal you can set up a blind. Portable blinds are easy to carry around.

Birds

Are a lot easier to take pictures of. They aren’t skulking in the brush like mammals are. They are out being social and talking to one another. The key to taking great bird pictures is a long lens. This picture was taken with a 28 – 135mm zoom lens, right outside my bedroom window. I was taking pictures of a squirrel laying on top of our feeder in the most languid of fashions, when this robin flew up and started attacking the squirrel.

I have found that taking picures of birds during the nesting season are much easier to obtain than during the mating season. One of the reasons this may be is because they are worn out from constantly feeding their young. Screaming babies tire them out and they will often perch just out of reach with worms hanging out of their beaks. You don’t pose a threat as long as you can’t touch them.

The light in their eye…

When you are taking pictures of birds or mammals make sure that a glimmer of light is in the subject’s eye(s), or else they will wind up looking like stuffed museum specimens. And you don’t want a stuffed museum specimen when you have been working your photographic butt off trying to capture some great shots!

Flowers, Trees and Plants

Are best shot on overcast days. Or, make sure they are in shadow without any dappled light playing over their surface.

I find that white flowers are the hardest to capture on film (or digital flash cards) without compensating by stopping down (keeping the same shutter speed while increasing the aperture number) What this does is make the aperture hole smaller. It does seem counter intuitive that if the aperture number is increased the hole gets smaller, but this is how it works.

I always picture the camera’s aperture to be like a cervix. And if you have had any sex ed classes you know what I mean.

Humans

Humans are fascinating creatures and exhibit many amusing and bizarre behaviors (see Yellowstone example above). And you can capture it all on film!

Unfortunately, unless people are totally absorbed in an activity like playing sports or music they exhibit self conscious behaviors when a camera is pointed at them. I have found no good way around this problem. You also run in to problems of invading people’s personal space when you take their photographs. It’s always a good idea to inform them that you are a photographer (professional or not) and will be taking photos. Sometimes this is enough to make them feel relaxed when they find out you aren’t some kind of government spy compiling information on them.

Children do not usually exhibit these self conscious behaviors, and you can get great photos of them when they’re playing. They totally absorb themselves in play. So parents take note! Keep that camera handy! You never know when a great photo op is might present itself. I used to keep my camera handy on top of the entertainment center when my kids were little.

I haven’t addressed the techniques of photo composition, but Amy Palko recently had a great series on this aspect of photography at her site, Less Ordinary. Also, check out Chris Garret’s DSLRBlog, and Darren Rowses’s Digital Photography School for a discussion of the more technical aspects involved in photography.

You never know what will happen in front of your camera. But remember, you are a witness, so capture it all!

Photo Credit: © Ellen Wilson

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