How not to hold a camera

I’ve been very busy the last couple of days and have not yet got the first lesson in the how-to series together yet. That said here is the first mini lesson. Call this the how not to. 

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Portrait Lighting 101….Rembrandt lighting

Rembrandt lighting is probably the number one go to lighting you should have in your mental tool kit. This lighting gets its name from the master painter that used it in almost every portrait he ever painted. It’s most noticeable attribute is the triangular light on the cheek on the shadow side. This lighting can be done broad side or short side as seen in the two examples. Short side simply means that the shadow is closest to the camera.

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Just a little teaser from the how-to series.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful Christmas.

Why wasn’t I ready to get that shot?

A post on Facebook today got me to thinking. What is the biggest mistake a beginner can make in photography? Well, there are many of those but the one that is almost unforgivable happens not only to beginners but seasoned pro’s too. That mistake is not being ready for the fleeting once in a life time money shot.

Don’t worry I have committed this sin as well. That is why I want to pass on how I set my camera up before I head off into the woods. It is almost never after you have gotten to your location and set up the tripod and tweaked all the setting on the camera that you see the money shot. Well, unless you get up way before dawn and walk through the woods in pick black darkness and then sit still wet and cold in that one spot for hours. You know the way I used to do things before Parkinson’s.

So here goes.

  1. Auto ISO
  2. Auto White Balance
  3. RAW Image Capture
  4. Shutter Priority set to 1/2000th
  5. Auto focus is set for back button focus
  6. Auto Focus is set for Continuous 3D

But wait, Ken, what does all that mean?

It means I have set the camera up to snap shoot. In the upcoming series I’ll get more into camera settings, but for now that is the closest my camera ever comes to the dreaded AUTO mode otherwise known as idiot mode.

Know your gear before you head out and pre-plan the worst best case scenario.

Merry Christmas

Light Light Light it’s all about the Light!

Ever wonder what photographers are talking about when they talk about the right light?

The blank stares don’t escape my attention when talking to non-photographer friends. After all they haven’t spent half their life chasing the perfect light. Most grasp that their pictures don’t have enough light when they come out dark but they have no idea how to fix it other than to blindly throw flash out or move out into the mid afternoon direct sun.

LET ME SAY THIS AS PLAINLY AS POSSIBLE. MORE LIGHT DOES NOT MEAN BETTER LIGHT.

Another expression you  may be familiar with: Quality trumps quantity. This is a very important concept.

To deal with light we must understand the qualities of light. Is the light hard or soft? What is the temperature of the light? What is the direction of the light? Am I using natural light, artificial light or mixing the two?

Now be honest, how many of you just had your eyes glaze over and say to yourself, “what the heck is he talking about”? If I had to venture a guess: I would say probably most of you. Unless, of course, you are a photographer or artist. Then you understand that light is our paint and shadow is our canvas.

Every instructor and instruction that I have had in my life has lumped all of these qualities in to one large hard to digest instruction. Then it was up to me to go learn it on my own. That is not how I want to present this to you, my readers. However, it will require some participation on your part to make a true learning experience. So, what I have planned is to break down light into smaller parts and go more in-depth which each part. Your part will come in the form of assignments. Don’t worry you will have a week to complete most of them. This first one is the exception. Starting the first week of January I will dive into this topic with direction of light. Until then your assignment is to take photos. take at least 3 per day. They can be of anything you want. What I want you to do with those photos is choose the best one from each day and post it in the comments section along with why you think this was your best photo of the day and what you think the quality of light is that made it your best photo of the day.

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How do I get better photos?

Have you ever asked yourself that question. I have and I still do every time I sit down to edit my images. There are many answers to that question. Honestly, if you stop asking and answering that question for yourself you will never get any better at anything you do.

In the new year I will be sharing a new series devoted to the technical aspects of photography. I will also try to expand on some of the decisions and process I go through before I trip the shutter.

For now, I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season. From my family to yours: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

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Christmas Photo Rut….Change it up.

Sometimes the best ideas come when you are pressed for time and just have to deliver, Take this one for example. My girlfriend writes a blog of her own and is doing a 25 days of Christmas theme. Last night she was searching for something to blog about and needed a photo in a hurry. (She can be a little demanding 🙂 Love you, Hun.) So this is what I came up with. It is different from the standard stockings hanging by the fire blah blah photo. (Although, that might have been my first though had we had a fireplace.) Point is, mix it up. Change angles. Change locations. Do something different.

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Christmas Photo Rut….Break the rules!!!

Rules are meant to be broken. This is especially true of the rules of composition. Photography is not a mathematical step by step formula that has to be followed to get great results. That said you still need to know and understand them in order to effectively bend or break them. Here is one that I broke several rules to make a fun Christmas portrait.

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This was made with a fish-eye lens. That was the first rule that I broke. The subject is centered in the frame. That is the second one I broke. See how many more that you can see and ask yourself why I chose to break the rules for this composition.

Photography and art are meant to be fun. Don’t get bogged down in the technical’s of it.