Toddlers are terrible creatures. When they decide they are finished, there’s not much you can do except throw them as high in the sky as you can. Just don’t forget to catch them when they come down.
Low Light and Slow Shutter Speeds Equals Blurry Images…But It Doesn’t Have To Be
Late summer evenings can be a magical time to take pictures. Even after the sun drops below the horizon the sky can remain drenched in deeply saturated hues of fiery reds to intoxicating purples. Having a sturdy tripod is always preferred over going the hand-held route…but what if you’re caught without your trusty sticks?
More often than not, my tripod is leaning in the back corner of my closet because it was, “too much trouble” to unbury it. Shame on me, yeah I know, I should practice what I preach, huh?
Overcoming the challenges of the rapidly changing light evening throws at you is well worth the effort. You will be rewarded with a nice collection of dramatic images.
Believe It Or Not – How You Breathe Matters
One of the easiest ways to make a shot blurry is to press the shutter button in the middle of a breath. Holding your breath isn’t much better. I’ve developed a technique that works for me, which is to slow my breathing, when I am ready to shoot, I press the shutter release just after calmly exhaling; and before taking in another breath. Essentially I shoot between breaths, which forces my body to relax.
If I’m standing, I’ll put my left foot in front of my right about shoulder width apart, distributing my weight evenly. My right hand is gripping the camera body, and my left is supporting the lens from underneath. My elbows are tucked into my ribs to form a rigid platform for the camera.
If I’m using a long lens, while gripping the camera with my right hand, reaching across my chest with my left hand, placing it on my right shoulder. When I’m composing the image through the viewfinder, the camera body and lens easily rests on my forearm. This hold is surprisingly stable, and one I use frequently.
Evening Sky Hoop
Using the above shoulder holding technique, I was able to take the shot below. Here are the settings:
- ISO – 800
- Aperture – f5.6
- Shutter Speed – 1/25 sec.
- Lens – 50mm f1.4
So there you have it, a couple of tips for those tricky ever changing low light situations and slow shutter speeds. Oh, one last tip, I tend to shoot in three shot bursts, I almost always use the second image because the first and third ones are too blurry.
So, What Do I Do?
Simply put, I create portraits that bring out the inner beauty or character of my subjects. Very often my subjects don’t realize what lies just beneath the surface, how handsome or beautiful they truly are, that is until they see how I captured them. Whether I am doing a simple outdoor portrait session, or capturing a wedding from start to finish, my tools are always the same…my camera obviously and accessories come to mind…these may be essential, but certainly not the most important. The two tools that I feel are most important are light, and shadow. How I (and any photographer, really) manipulate, shape, and work with these tools is the way we express and share our vision. This is what I do.
When something catches my eye, it’s usually the interplay of light and shadow. Sometimes I become mesmerized by how a sliver of light falls upon someone’s face, how shadows mold and accentuate their contours, causing me to stare…which is a source for embarrassment if I’m caught lingering too long.
What I Love
Capturing someone’s beauty (hidden or otherwise) is just the beginning. Revealing the images I’ve captured to them, well, that’s what I love.
Happy Easter to all those who celebrate it…
and also to everyone just going along for the ‘Easter Sunday’ Brunch.
…And for everyone else, Have a Nice Day!!!
Here in San Diego it’s shaping up to be a gorgeous day; perfect weather for spending it with family and friends. Speaking of which, here are a couple shots of the kids horsin’ around.
There are lots more pics in the New Kid’s Gallery Here . Or follow the link in the Album Menu at the top of every page.
Sunset Shots Made Easy
My favorite time of day has always been when the sun starts heading towards the horizon. Especially when there are swirling clouds in the sky to add some color and drama. You can make the scene more dramatic by making a few simple adjustments in your camera. The next time you’re enjoying a sunset take a few shots with different exposure settings. We’ve all taken pictures of sunsets, and I’d wager you were disappointed with the results from time to time. If you let the camera do the work for you, your image may look flat and uninspiring. That’s because the camera did what it’s suppose to, which is to get as close to an even exposure as possible, resulting in dull, unsaturated colors. Take control of the situation, and rescue your next image. I’m not saying you need to go to full manual mode, here is a much simpler solution. Turn your camera dial to aperture priority mode. The meter in the viewfinder or LCD will usually show a little graph ranging from -2 to +2 in increments of 1/3 or 1/2 stops depending on the camera and its current settings. Zero is considered (by the camera) to be the best, or correct exposure. Now find the exposure adjustment dial, and flick it a click or two so it reads a negative value. This is Exposure Compensation, you’re telling the camera you don’t want to have it decide what a good exposure is. Take the shot, you should see a difference between the shot set at zero, and your new adjustment. The colors in the sky are more saturated, but watch out, if you adjust too far, the image will become too dark, especially below the horizon. Land features like hills, trees, buildings will begin to silhouette below around -1. Sunsets where there is water like a beach or lake are a little more forgiving because light will reflect off the surface. That’s it, now go out there and capture some great sunset shots, but first, take a look at a few examples.
Pictures Become Important Long Before You Can No Longer Take Them
The past few months have been emotionally trying for my family, and myself. After a rapid downward spiral, my grandmother passed away December 8. When I was notified she was to be evaluated for hospice care, I knew immediately I had to make the drive to Los Angeles to see her, and say goodbye.
My father asked me to compile all the pictures I could dig up of her. After three days of scouring through my library of images, I was surprised how few pictures I had of her. There were plenty of pictures where she was in the background, but very few where she was the primary subject. I sent my dad a total of eleven images, ones I felt were suitable for use in a collage. When I told my dad that was all I could find, he said that he had trouble locating pictures as well, thinking he took a lot more.
I felt sickened by this experience, wishing that I was more conscientious during our family gatherings, wish I paid more attention to more than just my kids, wish I had more precious images of my grandma.
I did make the trip to Los Angeles, and was able to see her a couple of times. The only words I could muster up were, “I love you grandma.” Words I can’t ever remember saying to her, words I desperately needed to say.
Below is the last picture I took of my grandma as she is holding my then newborn son. I had no idea how important this single image would become to me, personally. Life lessons are usually loaded with pain, this one is no different. I hope by sharing the bitterness of this experience, I can spare you the frustration and disappointment I felt while frantically searching for ‘pictures of grandma’.
One final thought, you can never take too many pictures of those you love, but it is all too easy to take too few.
The other day we spent the afternoon at Seaport Village to just get out and about for a while. It was a much needed break from the daily grind, and gave Kaleb a chance to roll around in the grass. What would such an excursion be without a camera slung over my shoulder? Ummm, an opportunity missed.
While Kaleb was doing his best to make a break for a nearby busy walkway, I chased him around, shoving my lens in his face, and blinding him with my flash every chance I could. At one point, he decided to practice his balancing skills, struggling to hoist himself upright, and standing on his own two feet. After several wobbly attempts which essentially toppled him head over heels, his persistent efforts were successful. Before his legs inevitably gave way, I captured this proud moment as he gleefully clapped his hands and giggled. Now all he needs to do is take a step or two without the hilarious face plant that usually follows.
Here are a few shots of the little one playing around in the grass…