Don’t Take Chances- Take Multiple Shots

What is continuous shooting mode, and why should you always keep your camera set there? Because taking just one shot is a recipe for disaster. Why? I was recently watching a photographer shooting an event and I noticed something that really concerned me. There were several group shots, and as each group was assembled the photographer went 'click' one time, and then the groups moved on and the next one assembled. One click... Yikes. That's leaving a lot to chance. Sure enough, when the proofs came back, the family pictures left something to be desired. Not only were they distorted by a bad choice in focal length, but there were several awkward poses. How many times have you taken a picture of a group and everyone's eyes and attention were where they were supposed to be? There's the guy flirting with someone across the room, eyes-closed kid, the idiot who thinks he's hilarious flipping off the camera or doing bunny ears behind someone else's head, the blur, or cousin Dwight with his finger up his nose, again. And then there are your mistakes. Can a photographer always catch all the details by chimping? No. The 3 inch view screen on the back of the camera can really fool you. I've thought 'got it' when I was feeling rushed and it never ever fails that when I get home and get the pictures uploaded that I have a serious heart-sinking oh-no moment when I see the details I missed, like someone just slightly out of focus. Sigh. Don't get in a hurry! Take. More. Than. One. Picture.

Always use the 'continuous shooting' mode when taking pictures.

Whether they're group shots, action shots, or still portraits. Most digital cameras have this capability now, even phones. The camera won't take multiple pictures every time you hit the shutter button if you have a light touch (you do, right?) but when you want more you can. I just leave my camera set there, because there is never enough time to switch when you're in the moment. Machine gunning exposures like paparazzi can catch the fleeting expressions of a child or pet, or just get a shot of a group with everyone's eyes open and no one's tongue out or finger up. There's also a psych factor. Once people hear the first click of the camera they tend to relax, and you get some nice natural expressions for portraits. Sometimes the second or third picture in a series will be less blurry if you tend to have shaky hands or are in low light. You may also get some unexpected expressions in shooting a series, like my son channeling his inner Grumpy Cat. The whole point is to make things easier on yourself, and to catch the memories you want. If I wouldn't have been on 'continuous shooting' I never would have caught this expression, have the fun of teasing him about it, or have my younger son tell me, "Yeah, that's how he looks when he's really going to throw it hard. I always know I'd better brace myself when I see that face." Have fun, catch the moment. Cheryl

GPS Worry for Moms?

A friend recently drew this newsclip to my attention. It's from ABC, and shows how the EXIF data, or exchangeable image file format, can be used to find the exact lattitude and longitude your photos were taken at. That sort of geo-tagging can be good for you, if you're looking to find the exact same spot you took a stunning picture on vacation, but it can also be troubling. Since so many of our teenagers are directly uploading pictures to the internet and the ubiquitous Facebook, there is a very real danger that they could be enabling a stalker. We warn our kids not to tell people where they live; many people are careful even about allowing their children to wear personalized jerseys or jackets for fear that a stranger could pretend to be familiar with their child and lure them away, and yet here is the exact location of our home, school, and favorite hangouts. We live in a dangerous world, and while we would like to think the best of everyone, it's just not realistic. EXIF data is information inserted in your photo files that shows the type of camera used, the creator, copyright information, the date the photo was taken, and possibly the geo-data. To see an example, open one of your own pictures, right click on it, and then click on properties. That is the EXIF data. In Picasa you can put geo-tag data in, and even link it to Google Maps. It can also be modified in Picasa, your particular download software for your camera, or in any of the EXIF modifying software available on the market. Go forth and Google. I would say look in the user's manual for your camera or cell-phone to find what you can do with your particular model. Having your photos geo-tagged can be handy, and that capability is highlighted as a positive point, but just because someone else thinks it's a great idea doesn't actually mean it's a great idea for you... Have fun, keep shooting. 🙂 Addendum: A friend recently sent me this video that explains this issue in more depth, and also shows how to turn the feature off on most smart phones. Also, unless absolutely necessary, set albums of pictures of your kids to private on social networking sites. Cheryl

This is hard!

Wow, I'm a whole 2 weeks in and whining already! Holding down a job, cleaning house, and trying to take purposeful photos every day is real work. Who am I kidding, cleaning house... snort! Ok, I have a couple that I think you may enjoy, so I'll post my daily random now. In the meantime 'The Cuteness' whelped out 8 puppies, so here was her expression the next day as we watched the Seahawks lose miserably: With the new digital SLRs, and even the smaller digitals, you have the ability to boost the ISO and shut the flash off. There's a tradeoff in 'noise' or graininess in the final image, some of which can be fixed in Camera Raw, but it's worth it. Imagine a flash photo of Beulah's face. The flash would have bounced off her retinas causing red eye, and the door ends would have bounced back most of the light, making a really unpleasant picture. Not only that, but if you're taking pictures of very small babies you NEVER want to use a flash. Shut it off. Your camera can compensate, believe me. If you don't think so, then pose the picture near a window or other light source. And remember, have fun!

Tell Your Story

Ok, so in my last post I said tell your story after suggesting a couple of different scenarios (mom at the sink, dad with the car).  Lining the kids up against the wall doesn't count as a good picture, most of the time. Especially if little Cindy is wearing a black dress. Why make things harder than they have to be for yourself and your camera? When you do take that picture-against-the-wall you have a record of what your friends or family were wearing at about what size, but you don't know when and you don't know where, and you either get the 'say cheese' smile, or the 'can I break the camera now' look. It may surprise you, but there are lots of white walls out there, so you probably won't be able to identify yours. Granted, there are times that the only way you're going to get a picture of the kids is by doing that, but usually there is some sort of background or way to take the picture that's a little less painful for all involved. 😉 Worse yet are the pictures where we back away and take a group picture of everyone right in the middle of the frame like a target in a huge expanse of green lawn. Years later we're getting out the magnifying glasses and saying 'I think it's Aunt Tilly. She did have a pair of those purple polyester pants...' Granted, in this scenario you at least didn't cut off their feet, but you're probably going to show Aunt Tilly at her worst face-forward angle. With those polyester pants. Woof... She's going to cut you out of her will! We've all had to be satisfied with that more than once, but if you have a choice, try to get a picture of your loved ones doing something they enjoy, at a place they like, something that shows where you were and what you were doing. Don't worry about perfect, although it's always good to look for the best angle. Actually, some of my favorite family pictures are flawed in focus or lighting, but they show what was happening at the moment in such a way that you can really feel the moment.
Man Talk
Technically this is not a great picture. I was losing the light behind the mountain, you can't see Dad's face under the hat and he's a little out of focus, but it's one of those great memory shots. Our down time is to go walk along the river bank and talk. No, we don't usually go walking in full motorcycle gear, BTW) The things that are right about this picture was that I didn't sit my subjects on a log facing me looking like they're sitting on the toilet and waiting for the click so they can get on with their lives. They are also not right in the middle like a target. Instead, it's a picture of what we really do, and the subjects are off-center so that you can see what they're looking at, the mountain and river. Now, if this was the only picture I was ever going to get, yes, the subjects would be facing me somehow, but even with all it's fault, this picture tells a story to me, and in years to come will bring back memories. And that's what most of our photographs are for. Us. Not for impressing people with awe-inspiring technique, but to make us happy and bring back memories. 🙂