Archive for Photographing
You know all of those leaves and flower petals that fall off your stems as you use them? What do you do with them?
I don’t usually take the time to reset them or glue them back on. I toss loose pieces in a small bucket. They make great bits to scatter on the floor of a set for children.
These loose leaves add texture and interest to a normally flat backdrop floor.
You can add a great deal of artistry and interest to your images by using other f-stops that are available. I actually do know a professional photographer who only uses F8. Really!
It is especially easy outdoors to shoot at wide open settings like this image that was shot at f4. Of course you will want to use manual settings and take a meter reading like a pro. (If you are unsure about how to do this, I offer a manual you can find out more http://barbgordonphotocoach.com/products/beyond-the-manual-beyond-the-photography-instruction-manual )
The boy’s mom said, “Oh, I like the background.” the minute she saw this portrait. She also ordered this pose. Why did it seem so interesting to her? It looked different to her because F8 is close to the amount of depth of field of the human eye so we are very used to that. Anything more detailed or less detailed will get our attention.
So to add variety to your photo sessions, use different f-stops for a variety in the looks you show your customers. It just might increase your sales too!
Why use a flash outdoors? I am sure you have seen many images where people’s eyes were dull and lifeless. Eyes need a catch light, that little reflection that makes them look alive.
Many photographers underexpose a subject’s face especially with outdoor portraits. A reflector is a good answer when you are working with one or two subjects and you have an assistant to hold the reflector but when you have a family group you need something more.
I have tried small flash units held off to the side of the camera but they never had enough power and the recycle time was so slow. Keeping them stocked with batteries was yet another chore.
This little unit is small, light weight, and still enough power to add sparkle to a family group’s eyes.
I got the green one at http://www.paulcbuff.com/b400.php (And might I add that they have great customer service!)
I would strongly suggest a test run in any space you are considering to see if you really fit the way you want to. Take your camera, lens, lights, and even a model to do a test. I should have done this with the building I purchased. I did not really evaluate how problematic the pocket doors would become. I was too taken with the possibilities of a charming old building.
Get the width.
Make sure your camera room is wide enough to get your lights comfortably off to the side. Unless you have other rooms near by available, you will also have backgrounds to store as well as props to accommodate. As a minimum figure at least fifteen feet. You will be happier with about twenty-five feet or more.
Get the height.
Depending on what kind of studio lights you use, you will want enough ceiling height to be able to get the lights at a 45-degree angle from your subjects. I would suggest nothing less than nine feet do this comfortably.
Get the length.
For my style and lenses I use, I am able to work comfortable in about a thirty foot long camera room.
North window light.
This is a bonus as not all buildings have north windows. If you are designing a studio with north light windows, make them as tall as possible so light can fall down on top of the subject’s head as well. My new window is five foot by five foot and two feet off the ground.
Do some comparisons with other photographers who have north light windows before you start designing.
The walls and ceiling need to be white. You don’t want funny colors bouncing around affecting your subject’s skin tone.
Be sure you have the privacy you need from other tenants interfering with your peace or from you disturbing theirs.
Fortunately we photographers are creative and can make great things happen in most any conditions!
The main light-
Raise your light to a 45-degree angle for more flattering light. Placing the light at the subject’s eye level and too close to the camera makes for flat lighting equivalent to a passport.
Use a reflector for a fill instead of a fill flash. A large silver reflector will do a nicer job and not leave a second, unnatural catch light in the eye or over expose the shadows.
Use a hair light, or kicker light, for separation between the hair and the background. Make sure this is not brighter than your main light. A stop less (depending on hair color) is a good place to start.
Behind the subject-
A background light is a must to create depth in the image. A quality background will come to life with a light a stop less than your main. If you don’t have room directly behind your subject for a flash unit, pump it in from the side. It still looks good.
The right lens-
Use a portrait lens instead of a normal or wide angle for nice compression. I like to shoot between 150mm to 200mm.
Not too sharp-
Use a shallower f-stop to keep the emphasis on the subject’s eyes. Too much background in focus, especially outdoor scenes, detracts from the image being a portrait. I like to use f5.6 or wider.
Meter it right-
Record the correct exposure at the time of capture. Do not rely on “fixing it in post”. This is not only unprofessional but time consuming and detrimental to the file’s quality.
Correct color temperature is critical for printing images with pleasing tones. This is especially critical for portraits.
Depending on your camera, you may still need to do a little tweaking in your imaging software like Photoshop. If you have done all of the above, you shouldn’t need to spend too much time in front of the computer. I find, however, my files need a little contrast and deepening of the blacks.
We photographers tend to forget that our subjects very often are nervous at their portrait session. We have so much experience that the process is natural and easy for us. We might even tend to rush them without thinking about things from their perspective anymore.
A relaxing massage or spa treatment is out of the question, so what can you do?
If you think your client is nervous, go ahead and ask them. Sometimes just acknowledging the fact helps a lot. Do not down play the fact that they are nervous by saying, “don’t be nervous.” This does nothing to remedy the fact.
A better response is something reassuring like, “I understand. You are not alone, many people start out nervous.”
At the start of a portrait session remind your subjects that you are very good at posing and will totally help them. Assure them that they can not do anything wrong and that you will always tweak everything so they look fantastic.
Be a good host.
Make sure that your clients are comfortable with their surroundings. Nice mood music, a tidy studio, and a well stocked dressing room are a must. Provide bottled water or other refreshments. A welcome gift bag of treats is also a welcome surprise.
Keep your attention on your client. Do not answer the phone, text message, or even glance at your cell phone. This sends a strong message that your subject is not number one. Being interrupted during a photo session can kill the momentum and creative line of thinking. Keep the phone out of the camera room.
Start the portrait session with the easy, basic head and shoulders yearbook looking poses first. This will get you and your subjects warmed up to get more creative as the session progresses.
One Sneak Peek.
Early in the session, show your client one image on the back of the camera. This goes a long way in building some confidence. They have no idea that they can look so good with proper lighting and posing. All they see is all of the lights, light stands, cords, etc.
Remember to assure your portrait subject that they are doing a great job. Build up their confidence by telling them how great they look and how much fun they are to photograph.
A relaxed portrait subject is key to getting a natural photograph they will want to purchase and share with their friends and family. Master the art of relating with people and watch your sales soar.
I always start a portrait session telling my subjects that I am very good at posing and will totally help them. I assure them that they can not do anything wrong and I will always tweak everything. Every body moves and bends differently and not all poses look good on all people.
Observe your subject-
During the consultation and any other time you meet your clients you can watch their body language. How they sit, how they position their arms and hands. Do they tend to cross their arms a lot, cross their legs, put a finger in a pocket, or hands on hips? Take note of this.
Watch for natural poses-
During the actual photo shoot a person tends to relax and let down their guard as you change backgrounds, lighting, or batteries in your remotes. When you see them doing something fantastic all on their own say, “Freeze! I want to use that pose.”
I recommend telling them before the session that you might do this when you catch them looking amazing, they will less likely to be startled and move out of the position you liked them in! Then just tweak any details to make their natural pose most photogenic.
Demonstrate a pose-
To get your subject started in a pose, show them what you have in mind by demonstrating from their point of view in the spot you want them to be in. Showing them from behind the camera, all of your movements will be reversed and confusing.
Always reinforce that they are doing a great job and that you are capturing amazing images. Showing them one image (just one!) on the back of the camera early in the session can greatly increase their confidence and help them relax.
Moulding that is light weight and moveable gives a background a seamless transition from a painted background to the floor.
I actually won this prop! I have used it more than I thought I would. It works great when I want to use the hard wood floor or if my background is too short to cover the floor.
The moulding I won came with brackets and magnets to stand it up but mine balances just fine. As long as the children are not too active, you don’t want it falling on them!
Just fold the canvas under and back, pull it as smooth as you can and bring it as close as possible to touch the moulding and it can look just like a wall.
Sorry, I can not tell you what company it came from. I just went and checked the back and it was not marked. But really, go to the local home store and buy an eight foot piece of big moulding and paint it or stain it any way you want. Do a few colors of wood. It is a fast way to change your look.
You don’t have to worry that you might not be a good painter or wood stainer. This moulding is not the focus of the photograph, the child is. You may shoot at a wider f-stop and not have the background in focus anyway so don’t be a perfectionist with your staining. Just get it done and get to photographing!
© 2012 Barb Gordon Photo Coach
This week a client brought in a bubble machine to use for part of the portrait session. This unit (from Target for about $10) really puts out the bubbles! I was so surprised with the volume of it could produce. I would recommend saving doing the bubbles as the grand finale of the photo session. Get some traditional portraits first then bring out the big fun. (Caution: when using indoors, bubbles do make the floor slippery.)
Who wouldn’t have fun throwing rose petals in the air? You can find all kinds of artificial rose petals in all sorts of colors in the wedding supply isle of a large hobby store. Invest in the more realistic ones. If you buy the cheap petals they photograph cheap. Since you can reuse them over and over, the price is worth it to get the more realistic kind. Picking up all of those petals is not my idea of fun but it is worth it. Fortunately this gal had a big sister to play photo assistant for me-she picked them up!
(c) 2012 Barb Gordon Photo Coach
I am not a Photoshop expert or guru but I can help you with this one! Like many things in Photoshop, there is more than one way to do this but here is one way.
Make your copyright mark difficult enough that most people will not want to spend time taking out your logo in Photoshop.
If you can use a Gif format, that is perfect for the web. A Gif format is less likely to be reprinted as the quality is great for the web but it is not good for printing.
If you are interested in more information about copyright and trademarking, please join Professional Photographers of America, www.PPA.com as they are the premier association for professional photographers.
- Open the image you want to put a logo on in Photoshop
- Make a duplicate of the image (in case you make a mistake you are not working with your original file.)
- If the image is going on the web, resize it smaller so it uploads fast, won’t look too good if someone prints it, but looks fine on the web. I use about 3×5 at 72 dpi.
- I have made an action in Photoshop for resizing my images since I do this often.
- Type your name or studio name.
- Select the Type Tool and type your studio name in black in your desired font.
- The layers palate will automatically put the text in. You can see in photo #1 that my top layer says © www.GordonPhotography.Biz
- With the rectangle tool, draw a box the shape of your letters.
- This layer should be underneath your type layer.
- If you need to resize it, Cont T will bring up the handles to let you resize it.
- Change the color of your box by clicking in the box that is colored in the layers palette.
- You can see in photo #2 mine is white already. (It is the second layer and it is called shape 1.) Select white which is color #ffffff and hit OK.
- Also make sure that this box color layer is the layer in between your text and image
- Reduce the opacity of the Shape Layer to around 45%.
- Then save as a jpeg or gif for use on the web.
You can also use a logo on a transparent background on a layer above your image layer. Mine looks like this. This logo, however, would be easy to crop out of the picture so it may not be a good choice for the web.
Your image is now ready to load on to the web!
Another great idea: Save your logo overlay separately in layers as pdf in case you wish to make changes. Make an action to open your saved web logo fast. Having this action will keep you from having to start all over each time you wish to mark a photograph.