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Category Archives: Photography Class
Does it seem too early to prepare for summer?
You’ll appreciate getting your dSLR in shape for summer photo taking before summer arrives.
Why start now? If you are like me, you may abuse your camera just a little bit. Maybe you carry it everywhere. Maybe you (gasp) occasionally change the lenses outside. Maybe you never put it in a big so dirt and dust collects on it.
With everyday use, your camera may have gathered a little dirt. So, yes, it’s time for some spring cleaning.
How do you know what you can clean and what you should leave to the professionals?
My Cleaning Rule of Thumb
Outside of the camera is for me. Anything inside is for a professional technician. Sure, you can find a million youtube tutorials on cleaning your camera’s mirror or sensor, but I don’t recommend it. Too much can go wrong and permanently damage your valuable equipment.
So where can you start?
Cleaning the outer glass of your lens is a fairly easy process. It’s important to use the correct tools for the job.
Don’t use just any cloth or your spit. The glass is easily scratched and your spit (and even your hot breath) has some nasty gunk in it that you don’t want on your lens. (Nasty gunk is the technical term!)
Use a blower to blow off any dust or dirt. Sometimes that’s all it takes! If you live in an area with a lot of static, you may need to use a brush to remove any grit. ONLY use a brush made for lens cleaning. You want to avoid grinding the dirt and dust into your glass. DO NOT use canned air.
If there are noticeable finger prints on your lens (or filter), use a micro fiber cloth or lens papers and lens solution to clean your lens.
- Fold the cloth or paper several times.
- Place a drop or two of lens cleaner on your cloth, never on the lens.
- With small circular movements, work from the center of the lens toward the edge.
If there is still noticeable dirt or smudges you can’t remove, it may be time for professional help.
The body of your camera can be cleaned with a soft cloth to remove dust and grime. I don’t suggest any harsh chemical cleaners. You can start by blowing the dust off with a blower. Use a hard bristled brush to get any gunk from under buttons.
A dirty sensor can create spots, globs, and other unsavory items on your images. How do you know when you need to get your sensor cleaned? Here’s a quick test.
- Place your camera in Aperture Priority Mode (AV or A on your mode dial)
- Set your aperture to f/8 or even narrower. (You won’t see dust on your sensor at wide apertures, unless you have A LOT.)
- Take a picture of a white wall or other solid colored light surface.
- View your photo (I’d suggest uploading to your computer for best viewing).
- If you notice grey spots in your image, you’ve got dust on your sensor. (I tried to take a picture for you, but THANKFULLY, my sensor was clean.)
A little dust may not be a nuisance, but when it gets larger you are going to need to do a lot of photoshop work to eliminate it. The sharpness of your photos will be effected as well. It’s time to send it in for cleaning!
Sending Your Camera For Cleaning
Even with built in sensor cleaning, you may still need to send your camera for cleaning. If you have a local camera shop, they may be able to clean it for you. However, most camera shops send cameras directly to the manufacturer for cleaning.
You can send your camera directly to the manufacturer as well. You can find the steps for sending on both Canon and Nikon’s websites.
For Canon, I’ve found the four to six week turn around time is actually much faster. The last time I sent my camera in, it returned in less than three weeks. It felt shiny and new with no dust visible at any aperture!
Get your camera in great working shape so you can be ready for your summer photos.
Have you cleaned your camera before? What lessons did you learn? Share in the comments below.
In Part 3 we have to talk a bit about equipment. Specifically the lens you choose and why it matters.
The MM | Angle of View Changes The Story You Tell
Your lens choice determines your angle of view (how much or how little you can have in your frame.) It’s an important consideration to get the composition you want.
There are three main choices:
- Wide Angle – Less than 40mm
- Normal – 40 to 50mm
- Telephoto – Greater than 50mm
The smaller your focal length (the mm), the more you will capture in your frame and the less it will be magnified.
Go with a longer focal length, the less you will capture in your frame and the more it will be magnified.
So…three photos all standing in the same spot in my March garden (For the record, it’s not as pretty as my July garden.)
Knowing what you are going to photograph can help you make a lens choice for the best composition. When I step out the door with my camera I always have a quick conversation with myself about lens choice.
- Big picture or details? (wide versus normal)
- Subject at a distance or close to me? (telephoto versus normal)
- Lots of extra bits and pieces or clean, clear backgrounds? (telephoto versus wide angle)
The f# | Depth of Field Defines Your Story
Depth of field defines how much within the image is in focus, and when used well it’s a powerful tool to direct the attention and push/pull the eye within the image. David Duchemin, Photographically Speaking.
How much or how little is in focus in your frame is determined by your aperture. With a shallow depth of field, the background details disappear, telling the singular story of the subject.
Notice how the depth of field changes the story as I moved from a narrow aperture to a wide aperture.
Developing your photographer’s eye is about choices. It’s about knowing what to include in your frame and what to exclude. It’s about knowing what visual story you want others to take away from the photo. It’s about knowing how to achieve that visual story with the equipment you have.
Developing your photographer’s eye is about capturing the beauty YOU see in your daily life.
In last month’s installment we discussed telling a visual story. In Part 2 we are digging into interesting composition.
Take a look at this photo. Grab a piece of paper and list everything that catches your attention about the photo. Don’t read anything else until you’ve written at least 7 things (Click on it to see the larger image for even more detail.)
Rule of Thirds
Imagine a tic-tac-toe grid across the photo. The boys are on one line, the horizon on another. Visually the photo has appeal because of the strength of the rule of thirds. More on the rule of thirds.
Did you notice how your eye enters the photo and moves through the frame? Mine enters at the bottom of the frame and wanders down the road with the boys. The light color of the road draws our eye and the line helps us continue down the road.
The horizon creates a strong point of interest in your photos. Notice how a little less than one third of the frame is dedicated to the blue sky. Including more sky would distract from the subject of the photo. Less would leave the photo feeling chopped off and incomplete. Think about placing the horizon on the top third line of that tic-tac-toe grid.
Did you notice how the photo doesn’t look flat? There is a clear foreground, midground, and background. Those layers allow the viewer to have more space to look into the photo. Shooting with a narrow aperture keeps the layers in nice focus throughout the frame.
Light in a photo attracts. Dark recedes. Notice how your eye goes to the berry bucket in the little boy’s hand? That is tonal contrast working. The white area draws our eye right to it. It almost jumps out of the frame when you look at it a second time.
Did you notice any particular colors when you looked at the photo? Color contrast adds to our composition. Notice how the green, blue, and brown work together through contrast? Notice the pop of red?
Shoot With Intent
Thinking about your composition as you pick up your camera you will create more appealing images. Of course, you don’t need to use everything listed for this photo, but consider what you are trying to achieve when you frame your image.
I’m curious, what else did you notice about the image? Share in the comments below.
Pink Reptile Designs Wanderlust. Kingthings Printing Kit font.
A few weeks ago, Steph sent me this nice email message:
“One thing I realized you are really good at after CHA is catching photos of the moments, real life. There were so many photos I didn’t even know you were taking, but I’m now so glad to have!! I’m not very good at that. I would love to read a post with tips for how to do it!”
I felt like this was a big compliment because capturing real life moments is very important to me. It’s what my memory keeping is all about and to have someone tell me I am doing a good job of that made my heart happy! After Steph’s email, I went and looked through all of my trip pictures to see what she was talking about. Since that time, as I’ve looked through my photo files, I’ve tried to think about my tips for capturing the moments and real life. I’ve come up with a few things that have really helped me over the years and some that I want to improve on as well.
Anticipate memory making moments
Think about what could happen and have your camera ready. I knew I would want to photograph some of the great people being introduced to each other at The Daily Digi hosted breakfast at CHA and I scored big when Becky Higgins met Liz Tamanaha (who has designed a new Project Life edition for Becky) for the first time in person. They were thrilled to meet each other and when Becky showered Liz with love, I quickly caught it with my camera. It isn’t a technically perfect photo, but you can’t beat the pure emotion it captured!
Take a minute to think about what might happen in an event. Will somebody be surprised? What kind of interactions will take place? Where will the action be? Point your camera in that direction!
Go behind the scenes
While we were setting up to record a live Digi Show from our hotel room in Anaheim, I knew I wouldn’t be able to take pictures during the show. It was hard enough to just talk while we were all sitting there looking at each other, so there was no way we could have handled a camera on top of that! I wanted some way to document the moment so I snapped a few pictures of Steph setting up. I love this one because it shows Steph deep in concentration and it captures the big tangle of microphones and electronic equipment needed to record a live show.
It’s easy to think of the standard photos most people take. When someone is opening a present, it’s natural to focus the camera on them, but what about the reaction of the person giving the gift? Sometimes the story is really unfolding somewhere other than the center spotlight.
I especially love taking pictures of everyone else while they are involved in the moment. On our photowalk in Disneyland, I was “supposed” to be taking pictures of items around Fantasyland. However, I was enjoying watching everyone else take pictures with their big cameras and serious expressions. I decided to take a picture of Katrina Kennedy and Steph while they were shooting. This also shows how we were in the middle of quite a crowd while we were photographing the park.
Approach the memory in several different ways
The fun thing about our trip to CHA (Craft & Hobby Association trade show) was that a bunch of us all shared our photos with each other afterward via dropbox. It was interesting to see how several people captured the same experience in the same place in many different ways. It just re-emphasized to me that everyone has a story to tell and a unique perspective. If you want to have a well rounded memory to document, hand the camera off to several people or if that isn’t possible, try to think approach it in different ways.
Here’s the same scene I photographed of the setup behind the live podcast, but this time I included Peppermint Granberg who was sitting on the couch checking her phone. We all spent a fair amount of time on our phones during the trip while we tweeted, instagrammed, checked photos, and texted each other. The phones were part of the memory as well.
I took a picture of the Storybook Canal boats whale Monstro. I seem to shoot him each time we visit Disneyland.
I also got shots of the whale “eating” Peppermint.
and then Kami Leonard jumped in for some fun as well!
Different angles, perspectives, & poses are all ways to capture the same memory in unique ways.
Tell YOUR Story through the photos you take
Even when you are at a group event where other people are taking photos, don’t discount your own individual perspective. You have a unique story to tell and you can capture it through the photos you take. When I flew to CHA, I had to overcome some big fears. I hadn’t flown alone in almost 9 years. I have some fears of flying anyway, but my son has terrible fears about it (which I’m sure have influenced me as well). I’m always his flying partner and we NEVER keep the window shade open when we fly. It’s just too hard for him. When I sat down next to the stranger I would be sharing my row with and saw the window open, I knew I would want to take a picture to help tell my story. It could be possible that nobody else on the plane that day would have any reason to take a picture of the window shade, but for me it was a meaningful part of my story that day.
But be safe!
lol! I guess you’ll have to listen to the CHA episode of The Digi Show if you want to hear about how I fell off of a couch and hurt myself in my quest for capturing a real moment! While I’m all for getting different angles for cool looking photos, I learned that getting the shot isn’t everything! Here’s the picture I was trying to take of the craft project on the bed before I faceplanted on the floor! Just a little embarrassing!
Don’t be afraid to take a lot of pictures as you work on capturing the everyday moments of life. When you practice shooting in different ways, you will find that you can tell a more complete story.
Do you see other people’s photos and wonder how you can create something similar? Do you wonder what they are doing to create beautiful images that draw your eye in?
Photography is personal. Through our lenses we record our lives for ourselves and for those we love. Developing your photographer’s eye helps you to see beauty in the everyday detail of your life.
In a three part series, we’ll explore how to develop your photographer’s eye.
Great photos begin with a story. Do you know what that includes?
TELL A VISUAL STORY
- Choose a strong subject
- Let the viewer know the story
- Eliminate the extra
Bring the three visual story elements together for stronger, more interesting photos.
CHOOSE A STRONG SUBJECT
What is your subject? Isolate it. Let it be known that THIS is what you are shooting. Make it obvious to someone who was not there when the moment occurred.
Notice the background. Does changing your angle, eliminate background clutter?
LET THE VIEWER KNOW THE STORY
Do the elements in your frame tell the viewer what the moment was about? Does it create emotion in you and the viewer?
Think about action. Think about light. Think about the moment and where the action is occurring. Focus there.
ELIMINATE THE EXTRAS
Every single element in your image has a purpose. Do you know why you’ve left it there? Did you look around the image before you pressed the shutter?
Know why you are including it in the frame to tell a stronger visual story. Not everything needs to be there.
In Photographically Speaking, David duChemin says, “when you include it in the frame — whatever it is — you are saying it matters.”
Now go out and shoot with intention. Think of the three pieces of a visual story and create. The more you practice looking around your frame before you push the button, the faster and easier it will become!
Anyone who knows me probably realizes how much I like this time at the end of the calendar year. I love to reflect on what has happened, what I’ve accomplished, and what I’ve learned in the last 12 months. It’s a great time to step back and take a mental inventory on where I stand in my life. It’s also the perfect opportunity to think about what I want to accomplish in the upcoming year.
I find that many of these thoughts center around the amazing things I’ve learned from the blog here at The Daily Digi, as well as the weekly podcast of The Digi Show. Of course, the inspiration I get from the team members, the playbooks, and the monthly Digi Files is an incredible bonus in my life as well!
One of the many areas of my life that The Daily Digi has had a big impact on is how I take and process photos. Let’s face it, we all love pictures around here! Photographs are the most common way that we capture our memories and it’s always wonderful to find new tips and tricks to make them even more meaningful. This year, we’ve focused (pun intended) on:
How to photograph people in glasses. My son wears glasses (and so do several of my family members) so this was a huge help for me!
How, when, and why to use a gray card. Great tips!
Smart Phones can be your only camera – even on vacation!
Geotagging on purpose and by accident. There are ways to mark where your photos were taken, and you might not even know you are using them.
Knowing when and how to crop photos and some simple mistakes to avoid.
Stock photos are a great resource for photography inspiration. Even if you never buy stock photos, just browsing the sites will give you a ton of ideas!
It sure is easier to shoot fireworks when Katrina Kennedy tells you the right settings. I love that she shares the specifics!
Shooting from the right angle can make a huge difference. It helps to see how a photo improves based on the shooting position.
There are many ways to edit your photos online and for free. There are plenty of ways to get creative with your pictures – even without expensive software.
Not all cropping ratios are created equal. This has always been confusing for me until Janet explained it.
Light is a key ingredient in great photos. It’s amazing what you can learn from one little tomato!
You can read your camera manual on your iPad, phone, or computer. Why didn’t I think of that?
It’s easy to make gray skies blue. Now, if we could only do that in real life!
Photos become even more powerful when grouped in a series. This has been a big “aha” eye-opener for me. I love shooting photo series now.
There are some great tricks to use when photographing kids. I love Katrina’s tips for figuring out how to capture the young ones in our lives!
Phone cameras are mainstream now – they can even show up on the cover of Time Magazine!
Simple tricks for photo editing. I always appreciate tips to help my photos look their best.
Fixing common photography mistakes. Help for blurry, yellow, or even boring pictures.
Noticing and treasuring moments. Really, it’s all about seeing when it comes to photography.
Those are just the photography posts from 2012 here at The Daily Digi. We’ve been at it since January of 2009 so feel free to look through the photography post archives to find even more.
All of these amazing tips and resources have been shared here for FREE! Most people would have to take expensive classes to get this type of content. We are able to offer these types of posts because of the ongoing support of our members. A BIG THANKS to everyone who supports what we do!
Now go grab your camera and have some fun with it!
A note from Steph: Katrina emailed me yesterday and said she wrote this post prior to the tragedy in Conneticut. The post was scheduled to go live next week and she was questioning if it might be too much. I told her I thought the post was perfect and decided last night, it would be appropriate to run it today. Katrina’s words profoundly say so well, what each of us have thought since we heard of the evil events. Our hearts are broken for those families, friends, and loved ones impacted by these choices, they are in our thoughts and prayers. May each of us take time to notice and treasure our loved ones a little more.
As we say goodbye to 2012 and welcome in 2013, will you indulge me as I step away from the technical?
Each month I share photography tips and techniques. Things like
- Understanding Aperture
- How To Solve Common Holiday Photo Issues
- Photographing The Magic Of Christmas Morning
- Almost 100 Ways To Take Sharper Photos
But really, photography is about seeing. It is about taking the time to look around with awareness. It is about taking the time to notice the details, the colors, the textures, and the beauty that surrounds us.
Noticing slows us down. Noticing makes us breathe in a little extra oxygen. Noticing requires us to take a break from the frantic pace life can thrust upon us.
Photography is about your life. And treasuring it.
It is about knowing that this moment. This precious, precious moment will not arrive again. There is no do over.
So what if the aperture is just a bit off. Or if there is just a bit of camera shake or motion blur.
You watched your child as they discovered Disneyland for the first time. You held your breath as the sky filled with beautiful morning light. You stepped back to let a bigger picture into your lens. You slowed to see how the dew danced on a single blade of grass.
That is what photography is about.
Whether you take one photo next year or a photo every single day. Whether you take it with your phone or a fancy dSLR. Remember noticing is most important.
Visit Elliot Erwitt’s Website for beautiful examples of noticing the world.
We all want to capture beautiful holiday photos, but the hustle and bustle of December can make it difficult.
Avoid these common issues to capture better photos during your holiday season.
We’ve all taken them. The moment is so beautiful but your photo is a blurry mess. The low lights of Christmas time lead to slow shutter speeds and blurred images. Don’t be fooled into believing you can take a great photo just because your camera’s shutter will click.
- Find or create more light. You’ve got to have it for photography. Think flash, room lights, or lots of twinkly lights.
- Raise your ISO
- Open up your aperture. It is a great time to ask Santa for a 50mm 1.8 lens so you can let more light in.
- Watch your shutter speed.
- Spot meter. My go to low light method.
Ugly Yellow Photos
The scene looks beautiful to you, but your photo is a yellow weird mess. The variety of indoor lights during the holidays can create strange colors in your photos, proving once again that what you see is not what the camera sees.
- Adjust your white balance to Tungsten. With the variety of lights in most of our homes, you may also want to play with the white balance setting to find the one that works best for you.
- Shoot in RAW and adjust your white balance in post processing.
You’ve found the background you want. You know your settings are right. You’ve thought it through. Then you add your subjects and chaos ensues! Yep, it’s holiday photo time. I’m always amazed how a perfectly lovely family can transform themselves into monsters when the camera comes out.
- Make it fast and easy. I find the less fuss, direction, and time I take, the easier photos are.
- Think about what is in it for them to cooperate with you. Older kids you might offer a photo for facebook or cash. Younger kids offer treats.
- Ask someone non-related to photograph your family if possible. Most family members are better behaved in front of someone else. Most. Not all.
- Go candid. If all else fails, just sneak the shots when you can. They are more natural and fun anyway.
Your camera reads the bright snow and says WOW, that’s a lot of light and underexposes, giving you ugly grey snow and under exposed subjects.
- Overexpose 1 stop. It seems counter-intuitive, but it works.
- If your point and shoot has it, use the snow setting.
Do your photos seems boring compared to other people’s? There is usually one big issue in boring photos. Too much going on in the frame.
- Pick a strong, interesting subject to focus on.
- Avoid too much going on in the background of your photo.
- Move closer to your subjects. Don’t be afraid to fill the frame.
- Find a different angle.
And my last piece of holiday photo advice…
Avoid comparing. Okay, you know I had to say it. Our home decor is different. Our lighting is different. Our subjects are different.
Embrace your REAL self this holiday. My house is not decorated to Pinterest or Martha standards. My family won’t be wearing coordinated Gap clothing. My kitchen wall has a giant hole in it. My house is a construction zone.
That is my REAL. I’m good with that.
What is your holiday photo frustration? I’d love to hear in the comments below.
Team member Jacki knows her way around Photoshop Elements and has taught all of us many things! I asked her if she would start sharing some tips here once a month and I’m super excited that she has agreed! This is her first post in a new series…
If you’re like me, you have more tasks to complete in a day than there are hours. And although you may love digital scrapbooking, you often don’t have large chunks of time to experiment or play with your photos. There are wonderfully detailed tutorials and video clips on improving your photos, but if you don’t have time to watch them, they won’t do you any good. Here are two simple things you can do to improve your photos.
1. Brighten your photo. Digital cameras are amazing these days and the camera settings are smart and precise. However, I always find my photos have that extra “pop” when I do one simple step – adjusting the lighting levels. Most photo editing software has this option, but I will use Photoshop Elements to show you. In the upper tool bar, look for Enhance. Slide down the menu and select Adjust Lighting and then choose Levels.
A little box will appear with an image that looks like a mountain (or mountains), with the left being the darker lighting and the right the lighter end. Using your mouse, move the arrows so that they line up with the very bottom edges of that mountain. Play with it a little to see how you like the result. Your photo will show the changes as you work with the arrows.
I often give it a little extra lightness by pushing that arrow past the base of the mountain to give it a little more “pop.” Give it a try! It’s surprising what a big difference a small adjustment will make.
2. Straighten your photo. Although digital cameras are awfully smart, we still have to hold them and when they’re heavy, it’s easy to tip a little to the side and end up with a photo in which the horizon is off kilter. There’s an easy fix. In your photo editing program, duplicate the photo. In Photoshop Elements, right click on the photo in your Layers Palette and choose Duplicate Layer. Now use your mouse to click on the top layer of the photo and you’ll see a dashed line outlining the photo and small boxes in the corner, click on a box and you can rotate the photo. If you’ve got a good eye, you’ll be able to line it up nicely. If you need a little extra help, there is an option in the top tool bar called View. Click on it and select Grid. A series of squares will show up on your screen and you can use those to line up your photo perfectly.
Undo the Grid and go to your Layers Palette and merge the two layers of photos together (Control click layers, Control E to merge). Now you can crop your photo so those background bits don’t show. Viola! Now you’re photo is straight.
If you find these tips helpful, let us know. There are simple tricks to brightening eyes, brightening teeth, removing blemishes, cooling or warming a photo, removing shadows, adjusting pixelated photos and more that I will share with you over the next few months.
I was astonished to find out that the cover photo on this week’s Time Magazine was shot with an iPhone using the Hipstamatic app. It just goes to prove the point that it’s not about the camera, but more about being there to capture the moment.
Time Magazine asked five photographers to document Sandy via Instagram. Their photos are available for viewing on the Time Lightbox blog. There is something powerful about viewing the pictures in a simple way like this.
This article on Forbes.com does a great job of explaining why Time went with a phone photo in this situation. In short, it was about getting the coverage they needed in the quickest and most direct route. Phone cameras are with people all the time and they are revolutionizing how we document our lives.
There are those who think a phone photo should not be used on the cover of a prominent magazine. There are others who think it’s the sign of more to come. No matter what your opinion is, it’s definitely a game-changer for the world of photojournalism.
For those of you who have been hit by the storm (or another natural catastrophe), how did you document it? Did you take photos? What kind of camera did you use?
Most importantly, we hope you are all safe and sound and able to get back to ordinary life sometime soon. We know we have many readers who have been affected and our thoughts are with you!