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

The Horizon Matters

The cutest picture ever (to Corgi Geek fans, anyway) is making the rounds of the internet. I traced it back to the Geeks are Sexy website, but if anyone knows the photographer, holler and I'll slap up the appropriate attribution. I would have attributed this to a common every day FRAP (frantic random act of play) but they are carrying weapons, signifying something more dire. This claims to be a LARP, or live action role play, or perhaps a reenactment of one of the Welsh wars.... we hope. The Welsh may be finally ready to take back Wales and conquer the Western World while they're at it. All those loving Corgis may just be the first vanguard ... or this could be simply another skirmish in the Stubbies -v- Tails debate. 😉 Ok, so whether or not the Corgi army is battling for freedom is not really the point, you're wondering what this has to do with photography! This picture demonstrates something that I see a lot of times when we're in a hurry to take a picture, or only really paying attention to our subject matter or foreground, and that's the apparent tipping of the entire planet slightly to the left. In this case, if you straightened and cropped the picture in post you might cut something important out of the picture because it's pretty tightly framed, so it's better left alone. If you do have plenty of room around your subject this is something that can be fixed, you can level and then crop pictures in every photo editing software I know of, which means it's a really common problem, it's not just that you personally are a numskull. 🙂 I've done it a lot of times. We usually have one hand that is stronger than the other, so if you hold the camera with two hands it will often be tipped a little. Or the weight balance of the camera is a little off, and you just have to train your hand to feel how to properly hold it to make it level so that when you are in a hurry the motion is natural. Some cameras have a visual grid in the viewfinder that makes this easier to do, others don't. If there is the potential of it being a really cool picture, take several shots at varying distances so that you'll get something you can edit into what you wanted, then trash what didn't work out. And if you have to make excuses for your shot, it didn't work out. Toss it. Fix it, or Forget it. Do better next time. So now you'll get all picky about horizons, right? Ok, so now you have to learn the difference between a receding shore line or river bank. Sometimes they'll still just look sort of wrong to me. Here's a good example. So try to keep your horizon level as best you can, except when it's not. 😉 Now go do something fun, and don't forget to take pictures! Cheryl

Following the action

Most of us have kids that are involved in active sports, and we struggle to get good pictures of them actually doing what they do. Today I'm going to talk about something called 'panning'. That means following the motion of the important part of the picture by moving the camera while it's taking the picture. In other words, get a picture of your kid, not a fuzzy blur of his leg on his way out of your frame! Once again, this is something that requires practice, but I'm sure your kids won't mind playing while you sit and take pictures. One of the ways a photographer gets a picture of a speeding car that is fairly sharp while the background is blurry is by following the motion of the car as it moves, not just standing still and snapping and hoping for the best. So what you'll need to do is pretend you're using a video camera, and keep your target in the frame by moving the camera to follow the motion and keep snapping. Some cameras have a continuous shutter setting so you can take multiple 'freeze frames'. Then you can pick the one you like best. If your shutter speed is a little slower, the background will be nicely blurred, if not, everything will be sharp but you will still have your desired subject within the picture frame, so everyone wins. You would use the 'action' setting to do that. Just be sure to follow the motion smoothly so you don't have up and down blur, unless of course the motion is up and down! Today's sample picture is my son jumping stumps while I played with my camera. My camera was set on 'vivid' so the colors of his helmet and bike are really bright, but unfortunately I'm thoroughly busted on the bad mom scale because he forgot his gloves and they're shiny and pink to prove it... which is what Nikon vivid does to skin tones. 😉 I stood parallel to his 'flight path' and followed his motion with my camera as I clicked the shutter. Sometimes it helps to focus on a spot that is the same distance as where the action is going to be, like the ground at that spot, hold your shutter halfway, then raise the camera to follow the motion and press the shutter the rest of the way as you pan.