Thursday, June 15, 2006

Photography Tips - avoiding common mistakes

Have you ever felt disappointed when your photo prints did'nt look as great as when you first shot them ? I have, and this list is a result of the numerous dud's I've laughed at while viewing countless photo albums. So whether you have a simple automatic camera or just can't be bothered to adjust the focus/ exposure/ lens on your hi-fi digital camera - these tips will get you those elusive 'show -offable' photos.

1. Over exposed Pictures -
(a) Daylight entering through an open window behind the subject - Either close all windows, draw the curtains, change the angle to avoid the window or shift to another location.
(b) A white monument glowing behind the subject - this happens if the subject is in the shade and the monument in the sun. You should either move the subject into the sunlight and use a flash or get him to pose on the side of the building that is in shade.
(c) Subject standing under trees in blobs of sun and shade - use a flash and move close.
(d) White person wearing black or black person in white - change the outfit to offwhite/dark blue or pose them before a neutral background like a green garden etc.

2. Under exposed Photos
(a) The city lights that looked awesome in the night showed up as a black background - The flash covers only a certain area of maybe 3 meters. If its dark, always come as close as possible to the background.
(b) The beautiful sea at dusk is undistinguishable - Never wait for it to get that dark. Even if you can clearly see around you, the details will never show up on film even with a flash. This is also true for rock concerts and sporting events held under lights outdoors.

3. Bad Lighting
(a)Your friend looks old and wrinkly, drugged or shiny - Mornings, evenings and cloudy days give the best natural lighting. If you just have to shoot at midday either shoot in the shade or use a flash.
(b) Lens Flare/ Silhouette - To avoid this, make sure the sun is behind the camera so that the subject's face is well lighted. If the subject starts squinting in the light, move him a bit to the side.
(c) Always use the flash indoors, in shadowy areas or at night.

4. Other Mistakes -
(a) Body/head half cut off - Always hold the camera at eye level of the subject especially for kids or pets. Bend down to get shots of the subject sitting on the floor, lying on the beach etc. Never ask your Granny with Arthritis or Back pain to click such photos - they will invariably come out cut off or lopsided.
(b) Tilted Shots - always hold the camera either horizontally or vertically - use the horizon as a guide to make sure the camera is straight.
(c) Strap of camera / thumb coming in the frame, poles/plants growing from people's head - Pay Attention while shooting.

5. Embarassing Photos -
(a) Strangers frozen in the background making weird actions - don't be in a hurry, wait for them to move off, ask them to move or try from a different angle.
(b) Get your friends/family to pose and smile - If a few are being spoiltsports, don't make the other's wait an eternity as you try to change thier mind. The party poopers are usually either having a bad hairday, no makeup, wrong outfit or some personal feud and you can probably take a picture of them later, if needed.
(c) Beware of towels, underwear lying around the room that may come in the frame - tidy the room or dump stuff in the opposite corner.
(d) Friends making funny faces in the photo or stuffing their mouth with food - you'll laugh but regret it later when the prints prove they are not that adorable. These photos usually end up being torn or hidden for life. Don't waste the film.
(e) Posing on a beach with tourists sunbathing in the nude in the background or photos that show you or your friend as a pervert / or a loser - Ditto as point d - don't waste the film. ( ok maybe one or two at the beach )

6. Lopsided photos without a subject - Driving on a highway, you looked out the window and could'nt resist a shot of the beautiful valley / sunset - Always park the car, get out, see you have a subject (a person, yourself, a building , a tree...anything) before the background, aim and then shoot.

7. Subject's face is a tiny dot - Subject should be at the most 3 metres away from the camera. If the monument behind is too wide for the frame, move the camera and your friend forward till they both fit in the frame. Cut out large expanses of sky or sand that don't add anything to the picture while framing your shot.

8. Blurry Faces - if the subject is too close (maybe 1 metre) to the camera - Move the camera back or the subject forward.

9. Rain - you end up with round transparent white circles on the print because of tiny water droplets on the lens. If its raining, remember to wipe the camera with a soft lint free cloth and get someone to hold an umbrella over you.

10. Reflections - beware of mirror, glass, clear lakes and other reflective surfaces.
(a) Reflection of you holding the camera - avoided by paying attention and changing the angle of the camera.
(b) Reflection of the Flash going off in a mirror behind the subject - ditto
(c) Photo which has a shadow of you holding the camera - ditto

Following these simple tips will ensure nobody repeats the same dumb, avoidable mistakes. You know, everything cannot be fixed with Photoshop. Happy Clicking !

P.S. Make sure the person who clicks your photos is aware of these tips too, or you may end up with lousy pictures of yourself.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for leading me here. Nice blog. Bookmarked.


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